These are the 10 best self care apps you can download for peace, focus and productivity

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Best self care apps: A woman using one of the best self care apps on her phone
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We all know that in an ever-turbulent world, self care is more important than ever. That said, whether it's hitting your daily step count or drinking eight glasses of water a day, self care ideas look different to everyone. 

Sometimes it might not feel easy or glamorous -that said, the National Institute of Mental Health reckons self care simply "means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health." "Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact," their experts share on their site.

That's where the best self care apps come in, designed to be the helping hand and reminder that we sometimes need to take care of ourselves. 

You might not be always able to carve out the time for a soak in the bubble bath, but, if you're anything like team Marie Claire UK, your phone is likely never far away - which is why downloading apps specifically designed with self care in mind can be a great way to unwind.

Like the sound of a ten-minute mini-meditation or positive affirmation? Then keep scrolling. App store at the ready - don't miss our Editor's pick of the best self care products and best self help books, while you're here. 

Best self care apps: 10 for peace, focus and motivation

1. Clementine

What is it? Clementine gets our vote as one of the best self care apps. The app -which offers guided meditations, daily affirmations and breathwork sessions -is designed to help you combat anxiety and stress through small mindset changes and increased self-esteem. 

The main difference from other self care apps is that it offers in-app cognitive hypnotherapy (when I've tried, I can only describe it as a more intense meditation that aims to turn negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours into positive ones). 

You can stream sessions whenever you need them, whether it's exercise motivation or a sleep aid you're after (one that reminds me that "I got this sh*t" is my pre-workout go-to). There are both short and longer hypnotherapies, so you can ease tension with whatever time you have to spare.

Best for? Meditation.

Cost: Try seven days for free - after that, the app costs £4.99 a month or £39.99 a year. Available on Apple or Android.

Dionne Brighton using Clementine: best self care apps

(Image credit: Dionne Brighton)

2. The Zensory

What is it? A multi-sensory immersive app designed to help boost creativity, deep focus and concentration but most importantly, calm. 

The Zensory was built by a mother and daughter team who worked alongside neuroscientists and used research from over 200 scientific papers when designing the app. The result? An app that promises to take hours off a working day and help people “sense hack” their bodies to make them boost efficiency.

Using binaural beat soundwaves, the app promises to boost both mood and focus. Self care at its finest.

Best for? Boosting productivity.

Cost: Free, with the premium option of £0.99 a month (limited time only). Available on Apple or Android. 

Dionne Brighton testing the Zensory app: best self care apps

(Image credit: Dionne Brighton)

3. Soulloop

What is it? What the founders describe as "a guide to your intuitive self," Soulloop app is designed to help you dig deeper into your true self.

Offering life coaching, psychology tips, astrology features, yoga and meditation, there's a wide range of mood-boosting options on offer. 

So, how does it work? Well, using your date of birth, a birth chart is created and analysed to understand your characteristic traits and habits. A wellbeing programme is put together from the results, and you'll receive tailored tips for optimising your wellbeing day-to-day. Expect daily meditations, personalised zodiac readings and a mood and dream tracker that syncs with the moon calendar.  

Best for? The astrology lover.

Cost: Free, but premium features cost £11.99 a month. Available on Apple or Android. 

4. Flora

What is it? If you're struggling with focus and productivity, then Flora is a self care app you'll likely enjoy.

The premise of the app is simple, designed to help you clear your to do list by staying off your phone. It works by setting dedicated focus sessions and subsequent break times. Each time you start a focus session, a virtual tree will begin to grow (growth is stinted by breaking the focus sessions). 

The best part? If you use the in app purchases, some funds go towards planting a tree in real life. So far, Flora has planted over 100,000 trees. There's the option to add friends and create to-do lists, as well.

Best for? Focus.

Cost: Free with in app free purchases. Available on Apple.

Dionne Brighton testing out the best self care apps

(Image credit: Dionne Brighton)

5. Strava

What is it? You've likely seen screenshots of Strava doing the rounds on your social media - but one form of self care can be daily movement, and with 50 activity types on Strava, including yoga, hiking, HIIT, Pilates, tennis, and more, you're spoilt for choice.

In short, Strava is a fitness tracking app which allows you to log your workouts, but it also works similarly to social media sites in connecting you with friends and other fitness fanatics. With more than 100 million members already on the app, you'll be able to connect with like-minded people - a great way to boost both mental health and wellbeing.

Challenges and sharing your results are both a big part of Strava, promising to be a fun way to reach your fitness goals. This month, enjoy Dr Alex George's new challenge, which encourages you to get outside and log some daily steps.

Best fitness apps at the ready.

Best for? Improving your fitness.

Cost? Free. Premium features are £8.99 a month or £54.99 a year. Available on Apple and Android.

6. I am daily affirmations

What is it? An app that reminds you daily that you are enough" (sometimes, the only self care we need). Even with a detailed self care regime, I am daily affirmations promises to make sure that a day never passes without a hearty dose of self love. 

Download the app and choose how many daily affirmations you'd like to see pop up on your phone each day. Not convinced? Affirmations are said to help build self esteem and change negative thought patterns - one notification we certainly don't mind bothering us. 

Best for? Positivity.

Cost: Free. Available on Apple and Android.

7. Spotify

What is it? The most popular streaming platform needs little introduction - but wondering how it's made the cut for our best self care apps round up? 

Well, because listening to your favourite album or podcast is self care too. Studies have shown that blasting your favourite song and dancing around the kitchen after a long day at work can release feel good hormones and boost your mood - self care at its finest. 

Spotify boasts over 100 million songs and more than five million podcasts, so if you're feeling super stressed, pop on your headphones and for half an hour of calm (read: distraction).

Best for? Peace and happiness.

Cost: One-month free trial, then from £9.99 a month. Available on Apple and Android.

8. Five Minute Journal

What is it? Whether it's a quick gratitude list or a detailed note on how you're feeling that day, journaling the ins and outs of your day can be helpful not only for releasing anxiety (read what happened when one MC staffer tried journalling for anxiety), but also for reflection.

If you don't have time to put pen to paper in your best wellness planner or simply prefer to type, then you'll love this app. With guided journaling prompts and helpful reminders, rest assured your notes will be for your eyes only thanks to password protection. Now that a IRL journal just doesn't have. 

Best for? Reflection. 

Cost? Free, but premium features cost £4.49 a month or £34.99 a year. Available on Apple and Android.

9. WithU

What is it? An audio-led fitness app that means you never walk alone. Whether it's a walking workout, fitness class or yoga, it's pretty much a personal trainer in your pocket which boasts 30 different programmes and over a thousand workouts guided by an audio-led PT. 

It'll help contribute to your self care regime with mindfulness sessions for sleep, positivity, and stress reduction.

Best for? Mindful movement. 

Cost: Free, with the option of an unlimited premium option that costs £9.99 a month or £79.99 a year. Available on Apple and Android.

10. PictureThis

What is it? PictureThis identifies a plant instantly with one photo, helping you discover over 10,000 different plant species. 

Taking care of a plant or tree inside your home can be a form of self care - think about it: remembering to look after your flower can remind you to take care of you. 

PictureThis sends you notifications when your plant needs to be watered and identifies when a flower is dying or toxic. It's what we call wholesome self care. 

Best for? Plant lovers.

Cost? Seven-day free trial, then £4.99 a month or £34.99 monthly. Available on Apple or Android.

What does a self-care app do?

In short, self care apps can "help us to improve our mental, physical or emotional wellbeing through providing either tools, experience or advice," explains Jasmine Eskenzi, founder of self care app, The Zensory. 

While it's not a replacement for therapy or seeing a qualified professional, it can be the first step for taking some time for yourself, depending on your personal self care and wellness goals. Some track your daily fitness, others boost sleep, while many even make a positive affirmation pop up on your screen three times a day. They promise to help you find a sense of calm throughout your day, no matter how busy you are.

"In a fast-paced world where looking after ourselves can feel increasingly difficult, self care apps can be a brilliant tool for helping us feel better anytime, anywhere," says Eskenzi. 

The first step is identifying exactly what your self-care regime needs and downloading the best app for that requirement, whether that's a journalling app or one that'll help your sleep quality. 

Check out our round-up of free self care ideas, and the best self care products the Marie Claire team use every day, while you're here. 

Dionne Brighton

Dionne Brighton is a writer at Marie Claire UK, specialising in all things shopping, beauty and fashion. Born and raised in North London, she studied Literature at the University of East Anglia before taking the leap into journalism. These days, you can find her testing out the latest TikTok beauty trends or finding out what the next full Moon means.