By Meagan Kennedy
Elm Staff Writer
With the semester coming to an end, stress about work life, home life, and school life can become overwhelming. Taking a minute to calm down and find peace amongst the chaos of college life can be helpful when exams and essays begin to pile up, and using mindfulness apps are one step in that direction towards a more balanced mindset.
From white noise, to guided meditation, to even bedtime stories, these rising mindfulness apps on the market offer a wide variety of ways to spend a moment with yourself.
Headspace is currently one of the most popular mindfulness apps on the market because it offers a wide variety of lessons and resources to help people of all lifestyles find a moment of relaxation. It is free to download on iOS and Android and has an optional subscription of $9.99 a month to gain access to more premium resources.
“Headspace is one of the best-known meditation apps on the market. Following its launch in 2010, it has accrued more than 60 million members across 190 countries – and it’s not hard to see why. The app is a great choice if you want to learn the essentials of meditation and mindfulness,” Independent UK writer Lydia Willgress said.
The app offers several free courses, including a 10-part basic course to introduce users to the world of meditation. Most sessions work in small chunks, most being five to 10 minutes, to fit a check-in with your body during busy days. From resources on eating more mindfully, power naps, election day anxiety, and working from home, Headspace has created meditations and articles geared towards the fast-paced lives of students and young adults living and working from home.
“We think it’s more structured courses-which give you the experience of taking an in-person class, but one that you can do anywhere-will get beginning meditators started and help them maintain the habit. The app also offers short meditations for emergencies or the occasion random quiet moment. We prefer Headspace’s design, too, which includes a warm interface that has fun illustrations and a well-organized library of courses,” The New York Times Wirecutter writer Alex Arpaia said.
In the premium version, there are more courses dedicated to specific forms of mediation and sleep sounds. Though it stands as a more expensive option, Headspace gives its users one of the most valuable resources for both beginning and advanced programs.
Calm is also one of the most popular and well-
known mindfulness apps currently on the market. With thousands of positive reviews and an average rating of 4.8 stars in the Apple App Store, Calm is another great option for people with various levels of experience.
“Along with guided sessions, it offers more individual exercises, like a breathing visualization, guided sleep stories, and more flexible timers and a larger selection of ambient music than Headspace,” Arpaia said.
It stands as another expensive app, offering a one-week free trial and after a $60 annual subscription. With this however, Calm offers one of the most personalized meditation experiences. The app offers daily sessions as well as more specific programs for stress and sleep.
One of the more popular functions is “Sleep Stories,” a program which features short bedtime stories narrated by celebrities like Matthew McConaughey, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles, and Stephen Fry.
Calm also includes regular mood check-ins and the ability to choose an “outdoorsy” sound each time you open the app. Offers like these have drawn in millions of users of various levels of experience with meditation.
Portal — which has download fee of only $3.99 — is one of the simpler apps on this list.
It offers an escape from the noise of daily life and allows users to experience the sounds of places around the world, including Switzerland, Scotland, Hawaii, Nepal, and several others.
Though Portal is less widely known in the meditation community, it receives a very high rating from its users. Across its reviews, users said they listen to the sounds of Portal while studying, working, meditating, or sleeping. The app has endless uses — the sounds of the natural world act as a great reliever of stress and a way to focus while hard at work.
Formerly known as Stop, Breathe & Think, MyLife Meditation is a free app that offers similar foundations in meditation. With a premium membership, users pay $9.99 a month to access 400+ activities beyond the free resources, which include basic free mediation practice.
MyLife Meditation has endless mindfulness tips and activities to help its users make use of the less busy aspects of their dayincluding yoga, guided journaling, and soundscapes.
MyLife Meditation offers specific programs for younger audiences alongside its normal programs. Specified for teens, tweens, and children, the app rewards its users with stickers after regular completion of sessions.
The app for kids allows for a more simplified introduction into living a more mindful lifestyle, which could also be helpful for new users of any age.
One of its biggest benefits is the app directly supports the non-profit Tools for Peace, an organization which teaches more mindful lifestyles to inner-city youth. With using this app, you are able not only to learn mindful ways yourself, but also to provide the same resources to a teen elsewhere.
Jamie Price, co-founder of MyLife Meditationtold Health Magazine in May, “from working with teenagers, we learned it was difficult to get young people into a contemplative frame of mind right away, so we came up with the emotional check-in, and that is the foundation of our app. We’ll recommend activities based on your emotions, so it’s a great funnel into meditative activity.”
The app is centered around not only helping its users find a healthier relationship with mindfulness but providing those same resources for youth across the United States.
Ten Percent Happier Meditation
Ten Percent Happier, awarded “Editor’s Choice” on the Apple App Store, is another well-loved app on this list for its range of personal lessons to help its users create a better relationship with themselves beyond just meditation.
“Ten Percent Happier promises to deliver on its name, offering over 500 guided meditations, including short ones to squeeze into a busy schedule,” Nylon Magazine writer Claire Valentine said. “The app offers sleep meditation, progress tracking tools, personal coaching, daily habit building tools and more once you get past the free level.”
Geared towards skeptics of meditation and mindful lifestyles, the app provides a wide range of resources beyond meditation and music, with a system to support its users through videos, habit trackers, audio experiences, and lessons across the topics of self-love and self-care.
After a one-week free trial, Ten Percent Happier gives its users the option between a free long-term experience with an introduction to meditation, or a $99 annual subscription for the premium experience with unlimited access to videos, soundscapes, and other resources. The app also provides a simpler and more streamlined interface that many other apps of its kind do not provide. It is made for the busy, the skeptical, and the forward thinkers, and most importantly it is extremely successful in making its users 10% happier, according to Wirecutter.
Apps like these can be most helpful to the busy schedules of students balancing the workloads of college and home life. Taking the time each day to recenter and be with yourself can help you both finish the semester strong, and in your life beyond work and school.
Featured Photo caption: If you find yourself exhausted by the end of the semester, take a look into these mindfulness apps for assistance in helping you battle against consistent anxiety. Photo by Rebecca Kanaskie.