Mindfulness apps: the good, the bad and the ugly!

Mindfulness apps: the good, the bad and the ugly!
Mindfulness is a practise which can help people manage their mental health or simply gain more enjoyment from their life. It involves making a special effort to give your full attention to what is happening in the present moment. So it might seem like downloading a mindfulness app is the opposite of this. Yet there are thousands of apps out there, but which apps are actually helpful? We asked staff and volunteers to try these apps for a month and see if any of these apps actually worked. Did they like the app? Did they start using mindfulness on a regular basis? And most importantly did they help people with their wellbeing?


Headspace

Headspace.jpg
Cost: Free but you can pay to get more stuff.

What were your first thoughts about the app?
I came across the app after reading an article by Emma Watson and if Hermione says it’s worth giving a go who am I to argue?

The app looks really good and contrasts nicely with the other rather more earnest apps I looked at. There are loads of videos and clear instructions to get you started. There are also numerous packs to help you develop your practice, which I paid extra for. Each pack has a number of sessions that gently build up the length of time you practice and what you meditate on. Accompanied by the enthusiastic, honey-toned vocals of the voice over it makes you feel connected to something uploaded to your phone.

After using the app for a month did you notice a change in your mood and wellbeing?
Mindfulness by its nature is hard in that it requires consistent effort. The app eases you in, so that you feel like you are progressing without losing patience or will power. I have managed to use the app daily for many months now and have noticed significant changes to my anxiety levels, ability to focus and, unexpectedly, my experience of compassion. I’ve also started reaching for the app when I feel tired, overworked, overwhelmed or if my sleep isn’t great.

Did you enjoy the app? And will you continue practising mindfulness?
The only two niggles with this app for me are that the packs become a little repetitive over time and the price is a little steep in comparison to other apps. Having said this I’ve recommended the app and will continue to use it, so all in all it’s two thumbs up from me.

Rating out of 5 (5 being the highest i.e. loved it and 1 being the lowest, i.e. hated it): 4 stars


Breathe (Stop, Breathe & Think)

Breathe-(Stop,-Breathe-Think)-(5).jpg
Cost: Free but you can pay to get more stuff.

What were your first thoughts about the app?
This is a very good app and so simple to use. It works by giving you lots of different mindfulness activities to try. Each mindfulness activity focuses on a slightly different emotion. As the days go by you record and track your emotional and physical health. That way you can feel smug when you see how meditating improves both your emotional and physical health!

After using the app for a month did you notice a change in your mood and wellbeing?
I started to feel both emotionally and physically better within myself. It is a fantastic resource to help destress daily. I look forward to being able to plug my ear phones in and listen to one of the mindfulness recordings.

Did you enjoy the app? And will you continue practising mindfulness?
I would highly recommend this app. It is my favourite app I have come across so far. The best activity is the body scan, which I continue to use daily to help me sleep at night. I also love being able to track my mood and how using this app helps to improve my mood.

Rating out of 5 (5 being the highest i.e. loved it and 1 being the lowest, i.e. hated it): 5 stars


Buddhify

buddhify-(1).jpg
Cost: £5.99 on Android and £4.99 on IOS

What were your first thoughts about the app?
I love this app, it is very easy to use and incorporate into a busy lifestyle. It has also been thoughtfully put together by the developers who have paid real attention to what users need from their app. There is a huge choice of recordings to listen to in many different situations from waking, sitting to walking. There is much more I could say, go out and try it!

After using the app for a month did you notice a change in your mood and wellbeing?
I have to confess that I have a well-developed, self-wellbeing programme and lots of experience of learning how to use many of the techniques in the app. However, the app has allowed me to continue to practice mindfulness daily and I have found it a useful tool to help me look after myself.

Did you enjoy the app? And will you continue practising mindfulness?
Yes and Yes.

Rating out of 5 (5 being the highest i.e. loved it and 1 being the lowest, i.e. hated it): 5 stars


Calm

calm.png
Cost: Free but you can pay to get more stuff.

What were your first thoughts about the app?
The app is very, very pretty and I found it visually relaxing, with the ability to change the background picture and accompanying background noises. You can choose from a crackling fire to a relaxing beach with picture perfect waves. There is also a very wide range of meditation exercises, some of which are free and the rest you can unlock by paying for a monthly subscription. The unlocked version is pretty steep, but it might be worth it if you were serious about getting into meditation as there is a lot of variety.

After using the app for a month did you notice a change in your mood and wellbeing?
I personally haven’t seen a noticeable change in my mood or wellbeing but I do enjoy using it. It is a really good distraction and I find myself reaching for it when I am feeling stressed.

Did you enjoy the app? And will you continue practising mindfulness?
This app was very enjoyable. It is great if you want to focus on one small thing and block out everything else. It’d also work quite well as a distracting late night alternative to social media for any stressed out smartphone addicts out there. It’s definitely a soothing app and there is a reason I’ve kept it on my phone so long.

Rating out of 5 (5 being the highest i.e. loved it and 1 being the lowest, i.e. hated it): 4 stars
 
So what do you think? Do you have a go-to app for mindfulness? Tweet us @norwichmind

About us

© 2006-2018 Norwich & Central Norfolk
We're a part of Mind
We're a registered charity (no. 1118449) and a registered company (no. 05729028) in England
Video animaton by Austen Nuttall
Powered by Empresa.
Designed by DACS Design & Print Consultancy