In the everyday fight to juggle work and home life, it’s easy to neglect your mental and physical wellbeing.
Mindfulness covers a variety of ways we can learn to look after ourselves better, and whether you’re a mindfulness novice or a meditation expert, there are countless apps out there to help.
Here’s your guide to the best ones you can use to guide you through the day.
1. Waking up (Alarmy)
Often billed as the ‘most annoying’ alarm app on the market, Alarmy might not be an obvious app for our mindfulness list. Relaxing it isn’t, but it will get you out of bed and mentally active, ready to face the day.
Amongst the alarm features offered is its photo mode. Take a photograph of an item in your room or an area of your house and the app will set it as your registered image. The next morning, the only way to stop the alarm is to recreate that registered photo. Pick a far-flung corner of the house and be sure to get up and about early.
Other modes include puzzle-solving and maths questions. These brain-training modes will get your mind working, helping you start the day on the best footing, without having to wander sleepily around the house.
2. Morning routines (Habitica)
Organising your day can help you keep on top of your work/life balance and reduce stress. If you’re looking to form routines and build good habits, you might consider the Habitica app.
This free app, available on IOS and Android, looks to ‘gamify’ your habit building.
You name the positive habits you’d like to form, then set your own goals and tick them off when you achieve them. Daily tasks completed increase your score and can see you ‘level-up,’ earning in-game rewards. Alternatively, set your own ‘real-world’ rewards for meeting specified targets.
You can also earn points for avoiding bad habits.
With a Dungeons and Dragons-style aesthetic, this free app is a great way to incentivise your habit building, allowing you to have fun whilst ticking off daily goals.
The emphasis is on you to pick the habits you want to form or break, and the daily tasks you want to accomplish. Pick wisely and you may find it leads to a better work/life balance, less stress, and greater productivity.
3. On-the-go meditation (Headspace)
Headspace has been around since 2010 and is still a regular on charts naming the best mindfulness apps.
Available for IOS and Android, it is initially free to download but you may find yourself signing up for the subscription service. It’s currently £9.99 per month or £49.99 for the year.
Headspace offers quick and straightforward introductions to meditation.
Designed to be used for as little as ten minutes a day, you can use the app before starting your commute or on a lunch break, taking time out to relax with ‘on-the-go’ and ‘mini-meltdown’ sessions designed to help relieve the stresses of daily modern life.
It’s straightforward to use and a great – possibly even habit-forming – introduction to the concepts of mindfulness.
4. Relaxing after work (Calm)
If you’re looking to wind down after a stressful day at work, Calm may just be the app for you.
The app has multiple modes to increase happiness, reduce stress and build self-esteem. It was Apple’s ‘App of the Year’ in 2017, and more recently, the mindfulness app Best Buy in The Independent.
Calm offers a variety of techniques for encouraging relaxation, from music and meditation to masterclasses and exercises designed to help you achieve restful sleep. On loading up the app, you’re greeted with the soothing sound of the outdoors and other sounds are available – including crackling fires and rolling waves.
As well as ‘Daily Calm’ sessions that you can use throughout the day, the evening and bedtime features of Calm are where the app comes into its own.
Bedtime stories designed to ease you to sleep are read by celebrity contributors like Matthew McConaughey, Stephen Fry, and Lucy Liu. There are also evening and bedtime meditation sessions designed to help you drift off.
You can download the app for a free one-week trial. A yearly subscription is £28.99.
5. Better sleep (Sleep Cycle)
Both Calm and Headspace offer meditations and relaxation tips to help you drift off to sleep, but for an app that helps you understand how you sleep, try Sleep Cycle.
Set a morning alarm and this app will track and analyse your sleep, using the data it collects to wake you up slowly during the optimum time in your sleep cycle.
It also has Apple Health integration and heart rate tracking if you’re using it on an iPhone.
The sleep graphs produced by the app can help to identify factors influencing the quality of your sleep. In turn, understanding how you sleep could lead to more – and better – sleep, integral for your mental and physical wellbeing.