For many of us, 2020 has abruptly turned our lives upside down and inside out. From worries about jobs losses to the 24/7 news cycle, coping with loss and grief, adjusting to the challenges of lockdown and concerns about the health of ourselves and loved-ones, taking time to practice mindfulness has never felt so important.
Information overload has become the new norm, but mindful practices can offer a welcomed antidote. Mindfulness might feel like a faddy new wellness buzzword, but it’s a powerful practice that can help us regulate emotions, decrease feelings of stress and anxiety, and improve our sense of wellbeing.
It’s the practice of being fully aware of the present moment by taking in the sights, sounds, emotions and sensations that arise. In essence, tuning into how we feel in any given moment, allowing us to experience life with more clarity – instead of becoming stuck in a loop of endless thoughts.
When we’re truly living in the present, it can positively change the way we view ourselves and our lives.
So if you want to practice more mindfulness and are not sure where to begin, we’ve rounded up a few of the best apps to download to help kick start your practice.
Open up on the Calm app and you’re immediately welcomed with the sound of a flowing stream (you can change it if something else ignites your inner sense of peace). It features a comprehensive set of guided meditations, separated into a wide range of categories from ‘personal growth’ ‘focus’ ‘emotions’ and ‘anxiety’ offering up everything from week-long to month-long daily practices to suit your needs.
We love the sleep stories section, easy-listening tales to help you drift off to sleep on restless nights. It also features a selection of celebrity narrators including Stephen Fry, Matthew McConaughey and Harry Styles.
The Calm app includes a mood check-in feature on the home screen, which allows you to reflect on how you’re feeling each day.
Free one week trial, then £28.99 year
Perhaps one of the most famous meditation apps available, Headspace has more than 60 million users worldwide. Available as both a free version with limited meditations, and a paid version with a larger content offering, Headspace is ideal for those who are looking for a straightforward and easy-to-follow route into mindful practices.
The app offers a 10-part free course aimed at meditation newbies that includes simple breath-work and body scan guided meditations that are offered up in short bursts.
Ideal for beginners, meditations are available in three-minute, five-minute and ten-minute segments – perfect for when you want to create a little space on a coffee break.
Free download with limited meditations, £44.99 a year
For meditations served up with a side of support, guidance and inspiration, look no further than Shine.
Each day, the app will send you an inspiring message along with a meditation that is tailored to your specific focus – of which you pre-select in the app. It provides science-backed wellness tips, and daily question prompts that encourage self-enquiry, such as ‘what are you grateful for today.’
The app includes an engaged community where you can join in conversations on all things self-care.
Limited free content or £10.99 per month
Portal - Focus, Sleep, Escape:
If you’d prefer to ditch the guidance, and sink into relaxation accompanied by the soothing sounds of nature, Portal might just be your new favourite app. With a whole host of beautiful sounds inspired from nature around the world you can unwind to the sounds of a crackling fire in the Swiss alps or the lapping of a far flung Caribbean shore, without narration. Perfect to listen to before bed, in the bath, or to transport yourself away during the commute to work.
You can also use Portal’s audio while reading eBooks or listening to podcasts to add a little ambience. And at a little more than the price of a takeaway coffee, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
£3.99 to download.
Refectly acts like an online journal, that encourages you to take a moment out of your day to reflect on how you’re feeling.
Learning from the ideas that you respond to, Refectly uses artificial intelligence to provide space for you to reflect on the things that matter. If you’ve yet to give journaling a try, and are looking for convenient way to do so on the move, Refetcly might just be for you.
Free one-week trial available, £41.99 per year.
10 Percent Happier
In their own words, 10 Percent Happier is aimed at a “mediation for fidgety sceptics”.
Co-founded by Dan Harris, a television news presenter who started meditation after suffering a panic attack live on air, 10 Percent happier is no-frills, non-fluffy approach to meditation.
With more than 500 meditations available to paying subscribers, the app asks what your basic objectives are from ‘feeling happier’ to ‘reducing stress’. You can also set reminders for daily meditations to help you stay on track with your mindfulness routine.
Free one week trial then £12.99 p/month