I am quite meticulous when it comes to things that I can do to help my mental wellbeing. Things like cleaning up my wardrobe on the weekend, making my to-do lists during my long commute to work, adding groceries for the week in my wishlist, etc etc. By now, if you're wondering why I do need such extensive much planning in my life, let me also tell you that I'm a working mom. And, TBH, us working moms have it rough. Even though Science suggests that social media is a stress bomb that contributes to your anxiety or insomnia, I'm not ready to part with my feeds and apps. That's because my phone has kind of become a self-help library.
Fortunately, we're living in a time when apps make it easy for just about anything--and this includes meditation, increased productivity at work, better sleep, all of which can help reduce stress. So my transformation began a few weeks ago when I tested a few meditation apps. And now, bringing to you all, thoughts and tips from my experiment.
“We live in a world that is dependent on how we feel and our perception of life. When we’re struggling with our minds, it impacts our relationships. It’s the starting point for looking after our body and mind," said Andy Puddicombe, cofounder, Headspace in an interview with GQ. And ever since I read this interview, I have been using his app. The fact that before starting his brand of mindfulness, Puddicombe, himself went through a personal tragedy during his university years, following which he travelled for a decade and became a novice monk in the Theravadan ( Buddhism's oldest extant school) tradition, he spent a year at Scotland’s Samye Ling Buddhist monastery--is intriguing enough.
The app features guided meditations and video animations on happiness, appreciation, stress and anxiety, personal growth, work and productivity, kids and parenting and many others. As a meditation beginner, I decided to try the “Basics” course. The course includes 10 sessions (3-10 min duration) that can help you understand the fundamentals of meditation and how will it help if you make it a part of your routine. Puddicombe claims that using the Headspace app for 30 days can reduce stress by a third; in only ten days, negative emotions can decrease by 28 percent; and, over a month, the focus can improve by 14 percent. Well, I can definitely vouch for the fact that it does reduce your anxiety. Ten days of using the app and I was able to keep my negative emotions at bay. The best part: you can download the sessions and follow them even when you're offline. There's nothing better than staying off the internet when you're meditating.
After using this app for a week, I found this one a tad bit better than Headspace. It's definitely underrated because content on this one is as good as Headspace. The programmes on this app are divided into adult, youth, family, classroom and workplace programmes. The app is clear, easy to use and completely free. The best part: the app offers you a customised form of meditation. After keying in information on how much experience I’ve had before to identifying what I'm interested in--from mindfulness at work to improving performance and sleep--I loved the personalisation and found that it offered exactly what I was looking for. My fav is, 'Daily Commute', meditations designed for on-the-go. In four sessions, the meditations help you avoid mindless scrolling while you're commuting and instead help you to reconnect with yourself in a completely different way. The best part: You can practise mindfulness no matter how you are commuting, walking to work, taking public transport or driving to work.
I was curious to give this app a try only because I often tell myself to, 'stop, breathe and think', in stressful times. TBH, I also downloaded this app for the free content it offered. You can listen to a lot of tracks without subscribing to the premium version of the app. And almost all the free programmes help you to clear your mind and stay relaxed. The best part: Even if you're short on time, you can choose to listen to shorter sessions. And trust me, they are as helpful as the longer ones. Also, the narrator's voice in each session is extremely pleasant and calming. The app also offers check-in reminders and progress tracker, which is extremely helpful. The help you to keep a tab on your emotions before and after listening to a session and the progress tracker helps you a lot if you're trying to develop the habit of meditating.
Calm made me feel just that as soon as I opened the app to see beautiful images and sounds of nature. However, a lot of its features are hidden behind the paid tool. So if you're looking for free sessions, it hardly offers you any. The app gives you a free seven-day trial but after that, you have to pay to take sessions and I found this one a little costlier. Also, I faced a lot of technical issues while using the app. For instance, the music was glitchy at times, it's difficult to find what you are looking for, the UI of the app doesn't always respond to whatever your input is. I would happily give this one a miss because you know who wants to add to their stress instead of reducing it.
This app is for someone who isn't really convinced with the idea that meditation works. The app promises sessions from a lot of experts and boasts of a library of over 500 guided meditations with videos. Starting from the meditation basics, healthy habits, stress better, meditation for sceptics to relationships and parenting, the app offers a wide variety of sessions. However, I wasn't really convinced with the look and feel of the app. As opposed to other apps, this one though has a clean white background but I couldn't connect with the imagery, visuals and videos in this app. The best part: they launch new content weekly so you have a lot of helpful stuff to go through. But, it's a paid app and you can only access to premium programmes once you pay for them.
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