Modern life is busy – so busy in fact that sometimes we forget to take some time out for ourselves and just breathe.
The school runs, shopping trips and daily commutes all have to be done but you still have to look after the most important thing – you!
Smartphones have become an essential tool for helping us organise our time.
Many of us would now be lost without their handy built-in calendars, reminding us to do important jobs like pick up the dry cleaning, hit that work deadline or buy a birthday card for mum – yet another reason for making sure you have the right mobile phone insurance in place.
But thankfully, they can now help us plan a bit of time for ourselves, too.
Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best mindfulness apps available for iOS and Android to help you squeeze some time into your busy schedule for remembering what’s really important – your health and wellbeing.
All of the apps are free to download initially, but include paid-for subscription versions that add even more features.
What is mindfulness?
Before you start downloading those apps, let’s just remind ourselves what mindfulness actually is.
According to the NHS, “paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing.”
Mindfulness helps you to be more present in the moment and acknowledge how you’re feeling. It can be a good way of spotting the early signs of stress and anxiety and help you cope with sudden bouts of panic.
In fact, the practice of mindfulness is actually recommended by the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) as a way to prevent depression in people who have suffered with it in the past.
According to figures quoted by mental health charity Mind, one in four people will experience some type of mental health problem each year. So being more mindful of our mental wellbeing, and learning how to better manage it, can only be a good thing.
9 of the best mindfulness apps
How many times a day do we actually have time to check in with how we’re feeling?
The Stop, Breathe and Think app helps you do exactly what it says in the title.
A short survey gathers information about your mood and then you follow guided meditations that are personalised to your results.
No time for mindfulness in your busy workday?
Try Aura – all you need to find is 3 minutes! From the sounds of nature to guided meditations, Aura learns what works best for you and continually improves its sessions every time thanks to clever AI.
Aura integrates with Apple Health, too.
If stress is stopping you catching some shut-eye, check out the Headspace app.
The creators understand that staring at a bright mobile phone screen isn’t the best way to nod off, so they have designed this app with a darker screen and easy-to-find buttons, perfect for night-time use.
If you’re a little sceptical about meditation or mindfulness in general, Ten Percent Happier aims to change all that.
This is no-frills, to-the-point app that uses straight talking and no-fuss video lessons to help get you Ten Percent Happier in whatever part of your life you’re struggling with.
Basically it wants to help you enjoy life more – and who doesn’t want that?
If you’re completely new to the mindfulness revolution (where have you been?), this app’s five-day introduction is a great place to start.
The interface is easy to use and the handy ‘Mindful Notices’ that spring up on your mobile phone screen throughout the day remind you to keep focused on being present in the moment you’re in, right now.
The guided sessions are perfect for complete newbies.
If you suffer from panic attacks or sudden bouts of anxiety, the Beat Panic app will be a good one for you.
By combining soothing colours and positive mantras is helps you to regulate your breathing and focus on something else besides your panic, which will hopefully stop the attack from escalating any further.
Users have said they appreciate the lack of background music or animation, making the app discreet and easy to use in busy places. This app is available on iOS only.
Using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques from the sporting world, this clever app helps you to build feelings of confidence and self-esteem.
The free version gives you four audio tracks of music and coaching to get you started, while the full version has a 12-track Positive Mental Training programme.
Do you have trouble drifting off to sleep at night? Calm’s Sleep Stories are better than counting sheep.
Imagine drifting into the land of nod listening to the soothing sounds of Stephen Fry or Matthew McConaughey. It’s like a bedtime story for adults!
If you dread the daily commute into work on the tube, train or bus, Buddhify is the app for you.
It has a dedicated ‘travelling’ section that gives you tips on how to meditate at these key times, whether you have a few minutes or half an hour to spare.
Short, spoken sessions are great for those who are constantly on the go, too.
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