I’m a huge fan of meditation and stress-relief apps and recently had the pleasure of testing out Head On: Stress Release. It promises some standout features to help you quickly manage stressful situations both when you’re alone and out in public. The big question, of course, is just how well this app works.
This is a sponsored article and was made possible by Head On. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence even when a post is sponsored.
Table of Contents
A Unique Feature Set
Instantly, Head On: Stress Release stands out for one blatant reason: no ads or premium content. Everything is available from day one without an expensive subscription or having to deal with ads cluttering the screen. You get to focus on what’s important: the stress relief exercises. It’s available for both Android and iOS.
Speaking of exercises, this handy little app features over 60 exercises designed to help you face stress “head on.” It was created by Dr. Anne-Sophie Bammens, a psychologist and the founder of Headstrong Counselling. Every technique is evidence-based.
You’ll find a variety of techniques versus the typical one or two that most apps tend to focus on. They are:
- Breath work
- Grounding techniques
- Relaxation guidance
- Mindfulness exercises
- CBT (cognitive-behavioral tools)
- Vagal nerve stimulation
- Bilateral integration exercises
You’re free to choose between suggested daily exercises or scroll through the various categories to get what you need when you need it. There are also simple animations along with text and voice guidance to help you do the technique correctly to get the most out of it.
I’ll admit that I’m used to trying out stress and anxiety apps that don’t let you jump right in. You have to deal with creating a profile, setting up preferences, and even starting journals. While all that can be useful, this isn’t what Head On: Stress Release is about.
This app wants to help you relax and ground yourself quickly in moments of stress and anxiety. Feel a panic attack coming on while you’re on the bus? Grab the app for a quick three- to five-minute session. There are exercises as short as 30 seconds.
Get started by creating an account. I entered my email and password and was all set. I had immediate access to everything.
And yes, it’s a pleasant interface unmarred by pesky ads or pop-ups asking you to buy something. There aren’t any locked exercises. It truly is free, making it accessible to everything with a mobile device and an email address.
The First Use
The home screen gives you six trending exercises and five quick access options:
- Start Exercise – random daily exercise
- Help Me Breathe – quick breathing exercise
- 3-Minute System Reset – monthly reset routine to help balance your system
- Bedtime Exercise – exercise to help you wind down before bed
- All Exercises – access all exercises in one place
I decided to start with “Start Exercise” to see how the app works. I was asked one question: “Are you: Alone or Around People?”
If you choose “Around People,” it gives you an exercise that’s easy to do in public. Otherwise, you get exercises that are easier to do alone, such as visualization techniques.
My first exercise was “Healing Water (Visualization).” I’ve practiced similar visualizations in the past, but this five-minute exercise felt different somehow. The voice was incredibly soothing, and the guidance never seemed distracting in any way.
I felt my racing thoughts slow down and my body relax. It was a great way to wind down before heading to bed.
Exploring the Head On: Stress Release App
I personally love the interface. Soothing colors and large blocks make it easy to find what you need. Browsing through the exercises, most range from 30 seconds to six minutes, though I found a few over 10 minutes.
I like that it’s not just a straight meditation app. It really is for stress relief, using quick, yet highly effective techniques. I took the time to try multiple exercises from every category. The categories include:
- Activate – these are more physical exercises, such as tapping, acupressure, and bilateral massage.
- Release – these include everything from jumping jacks and bad dancing to laughing and feather breathing
- Ground – many of these are ideal for being around people, such as exploring three senses and spotting a color you’ve envisioned.
- Relax – this is a collection of visualizations and breathing techniques.
- Bedtime Exercises – these include some of the most relaxing techniques from other categories and even a guide on creating a “Bye Bye Nightmare Spray” using essential oils.
Personally, the Release, Ground, and Relax categories were my favorite. However, every technique did help with my stress level.
I loved the fact that there are both text and audio instructions. If you can’t listen to the instructions, you have text and animations to help you.
A Few Hiccups
While the Head On: Stress Release app couldn’t be easier to use, I did run into a few hiccups. I tested the Android version, so these issues might not exist in the iOS version.
The biggest issue I ran into is frequent crashing. This never happened during an exercise. It only happened when opening “All Exercises” and trying to scroll through a category. After three to four crashes, it would work fine until I closed the app and opened it again later.
I tried uninstalling and reinstalling. I also tried it on a different Android device, a Samsung tablet. I had the same issue. However, an update was released during my review that seems to have fixed the problem. The developer does seem to fix bugs pretty quickly, which is always a plus.
The other problem I ran into is not knowing when an exercise is over. For exercises where you close your eyes, it would be great to have a soft bell or just a voice saying “continue for as long as you want” or something similar to let me know I’ve completed the X number of minutes. It’s a minor quibble but something I’d love to see added at some point.
If you want quick stress relief for a bad day or during a period of high anxiety, Head On: Stress Release has you covered. With a large variety of techniques, an easy-to-use interface, and short sessions, it’s a go-to tool in your arsenal to fight daily stressors.
While I did experience a few bugs, those were fixed during my review. I loved the no-frills and ad-free design that let me just focus on the exercises. I plan to keep using it. You can give the Head On: Stress Release app a try yourself to see how it can help you relax.
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