As soon as you open it, the app welcomes you to take a few deep breaths. Then, a pop-up menu asks you to select what brought you to the app so that it can tailor recommendations based on your goals.
You may receive questions like: Are you looking to increase your happiness or reduce stress? Do you want to get better sleep or reduce anxiety? All of the above?
The meditation section is organized into different categories, like stress, focus, anxiety, and relationships. Calm offers both guided and unguided meditations. The sessions can range anywhere from 3 to 30 minutes.
Calm doesn’t focus on religious or spiritual themes, but rather mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). This program teaches people to use their innate resources to help manage stress and pain.
Some MBSR techniques include:
- body scans
- walking meditations
- shifting from focus to awareness
- breathing exercises
Calm is best known for its meditations. They’re divided up into different categories, such as sleep, beginners, work, inner peace, anxiety, emotions, and personal growth.
Each category contains topic-specific meditation packs or singles. For example, in the anxiety section, you’ll find sessions like “Panic SOS,” “Calming Flight Anxiety,” and “Letting Go into Sleep.”
Beginners are encouraged to start with the “7 Days of Calm” series, and then transition into “21 Days of Calm” to sharpen their skills.
Editorial director Megan Severs says that the app’s sleep meditations help calm her mind so she can fall asleep faster.
“I also tend to sleep longer when I’ve used the app to go to sleep,” she says. “Without the app, I often wake up in the middle of the night.”
Daily Calm, updated every morning, offers an original 10-minute guided meditation that focuses on different wellness topics.
Only users with premium memberships can access Daily Calm. However, users who have a free trial can access Daily Calm Highlights, which is a collection of the most popular Daily Calm sessions.
Although Daily Calm refreshes each meditation session every day, premium users get the ability to go back and listen to previous sessions that they’ve listened to. They can access them in the history section of their profile.
Calm features six types of audio breathing exercises, including:
The app lets you customize the volume and speed of each breathing exercise. You can also customize the length of your breathing exercise, within a 1- to 60-minute timeframe.
If you miss being tucked in at night with a sweet bedtime story and a glass of warm milk, then you’re in luck. The sleep stories section on Calm is full of stories, ranging from fairy tales to nonfiction. You can even get stores that activate your autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR.
The app is constantly being updated with new stories. They’re often narrated by A-list celebrities, like Harry Styles, Scottie Pippen, and Kelly Rowland. There are even a few nap sessions for those looking for a quick snooze.
The music section of Calm contains hundreds of curated soundtracks to put you at ease while working, walking, or falling asleep. The app has everything organized into six categories: focus, lullabies, relax, sleep, soundscapes, and nature melodies.
Calm also plays background music as you scroll through the app or start a session. It’s customizable, so you can choose between a calming aquascape, rain on a window, a campfire, and more. You’re able to easily adjust the sound level.
Calm’s Masterclasses are short courses taught by mindfulness experts and esteemed professionals, like Shawn Achor, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Ryan Holiday.
Masterclasses focus on a wide array of topics, like breaking bad habits, embracing stillness, conscious parenting, and discovering happiness. Each Masterclass comes with a free introductory video, but only paying subscribers have access to entire courses.
This offering is great for anyone looking to dive deeper into the world of mindfulness. This educational component is what sets Calm apart from their competitors.
Calm offers meditations, sleep stories, and music designed for children of all ages. Kids can learn to meditate with Thomas the Tank Engine, listen to soothing lullabies, or fall asleep to classic stories, like “Peter Pan” or “The Velveteen Rabbit.”
Calm has a children’s offering for kids as young as 3 years old. They say their sessions equip children with the proper tools to handle whatever life throws their way. Additionally, 2016 research suggests that mindfulness instruction can improve psychological functioning, lower some of the negative effects of stress, and reduce trauma-associated symptoms in some children.
Severs says that she uses the kids’ meditations when her 6-year-old is in a funk.
“I put it on in the car on our way to school,” Severs says. “Not only does he enjoy it, but it helps him reset his mood, setting him up for a better day at school.”
Mental and physical health are intrinsically linked, according to 2018 research. Calm Body can be beneficial for your overall well-being.
There are currently eight Calm Body sessions on the app. Each session is a 10-minute movement designed with mindfulness in mind. You can choose from:
- “Morning Wake Up”
- “Afternoon Reset”
- “Mindful Warm Up”
- “Mindful Cool Down”
- “Evening Wind Down”
- “Morning Stretch”
- “Evening Stretch”
- “Back Care”