When mindfulness and being present is overlooked due to demanding schedules and a lack of spare time, all too often our mental health can take a knock. Stress and anxiety are triggered, along with unpleasant symptoms such as a lack of concentration, dizziness and poor sleep – and even our memory takes a knock. Quite the opposite of what mindfulness can help to create – a clear, calm and focused state of mind.
There’s also scientific proof that mindfulness-based practices can have a positive impact on brain health. Ohio State University psychologist Ruchika Prakash found that four weeks of mindfulness training could reduce “emotional dysregulation” among multiple sclerosis sufferers—an important finding, considering 50% of chronic disease patients experience some form of depression.
Prakash said that new studies also show a link between mindfulness training and reduced inflammation of the brain. Brain inflammation can result from stress, injury, or disease, and has been linked to a number of health consequences, including depression and Alzheimer’s Disease.
While being mindful is proven to help stop the responsibilities of life from getting too much and helps us to take on the unavoidable stresses of the day with a relaxed and open mind, the fast pace of life often means it is difficult to create a rigid routine for ourselves to practice mindfulness.
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This is why apps and podcasts can be useful in our quest for mindful living. Apps are great as they can be used anywhere and are completely interactive, so can be used in a way that suits each user differently. Regular notifications can help you to form new habits when attempting to start a new routine.
Podcasts are a fantastic way of taking time to focus while on the move. This means they can be slotted in at any point in the day, be it on the morning daily commute or while making dinner at the end of a long day.
14 best mindfulness apps and podcasts
Headspace is a meditation app available for iOS and Android. Its creator, a Buddhist monk, designed the app to make his techniques available online so more people could experience the benefits of meditation anytime, anywhere.
Users can try Headspace for free with the ‘Basics Pack’. This offers a short and simple introduction to guided meditation, perfect for those curious to see whether meditation is for them. If you enjoy this then you can subscribe to the app where you can receive bite-sized mini meditation sessions for when you’re short on time, single sessions to add some extra mindfulness to your day and hundreds of meditations for everything from stress to sleep.
Free trial, then prices begin at £5.99.
With new episodes twice a week, the Mindfulness Mode podcast is a great choice if you want to add something new to your regular mindfulness routine. In each episode, you’ll hear from entrepreneurs and experts and learn how they manage to relax, find happiness and feel contented.
With regular listening, Mindfulness Mode, hosted by Bruce Langford, promises to increase your calm, focus and happiness through mindfulness & meditation. Interviews, tips and strategies to live in the moment are a regular feature and the whole series is about becoming more centred so if it’s inspiration you’re after, this is a great place to look (or rather, listen).
Buddhify has been designed to bring more calm, clarity and kindness into all parts of user’s lives. Whether you’re looking to reduce stress and anxiety, or get a better night’s sleep, Buddhify has easy-to-follow guided meditations to help you live happier and healthier.
With Buddhify, there is no need to find the time for a formal meditation session every day. The app shows you ways to bring mindfulness to all parts of your life with exercises for whatever you’re doing, wherever you are. From travelling, taking a break at work or going to sleep, Buddhify will help you find calm in any situation.
Like many mindful apps, Buddhify integrates with Apple Health so you can track your meditation using the Mindful Minutes category within the Health app.
This mindfulness app provides gentle reminders to intentionally pause for a few mindful breath, daily lessons to refine and tune your personal path to peace, Healthkit integrated timer to deepen your mindfulness practice and a life log that captures your own journal to discover insights.
Developed with leading scientists, doctors, researchers, coaches and trainers, Mindfulness Daily provides a complete set of tools, each designed to support your commitments to practice mindfulness in your unique daily life. Mindfulness is simple and proven effective; yet it is not always easy to find time to practice when busy, tired, in pain or stressed/anxious – this app helps keep it within reach.
iOS only (£1.49)
Let’s talk self-care. Sarah James, a lifestyle blogger and self-help aficionado, is joined by bestie Kristen Howerton, a writer and psychotherapist, in this straight-talking podcast which tackles every possible aspect of self-care. Their weekly conversations on Selfie explore questions like: Why don’t I eat the way I should? How do I get enough sleep? What aspects of my personality make self-care tricky?
Kristen and Sarah’s silly and serious conversations will make you feel like you’re one of the gang and delve into everything mind, body and spirit. Mindfulness isn’t a constant theme here but it does pop up and the podcast tackles themes like anxiety, mental health and making time for you with two fresh voices at the helm. Tune in for a new episode every Wednesday.
10% Happier: Meditation for fidgety sceptics
This app offers a clear, simple approach to meditation with a NY Times bestselling author. 10% Happier: Meditation for fidgety sceptics includes daily videos and guided meditations to teach you meditation in the simplest way possible. A new range of content for coping with anxiety and political stress, and for activities like walking and falling asleep. The app also offers practical advice for applying mindfulness to your relationships, eating, work, and more.
10% Happier podcast
Dan Harris, the creator of the 10% Happier: Meditation for fidgety sceptics app and podcast is an ABC presenter who had a panic attack live on Good Morning America, which led him to something he always thought was ridiculous: meditation.
As well as creating the app and writing his bestselling book, Dan created the 10% Happier podcast. In the podcast, Dan talks with smart people about whether there’s actually anything beyond 10%. The podcast questions whether it is possible to be an ambitious person and still strive for enlightenment.
Developed by psychologists and educators, Smiling Mind is an app which aims to help us look after our minds a little better. Just as we eat well and stay fit to keep our body healthy, mindfulness meditation is about mental health.
The free app offers a range of meditations for both children and adults to make dealing with the pressures and challenges of daily life a little simpler. There are options for mindfulness in the workplace and while playing sport too. They say all you need is 10 minutes each day to see real changes so giving it a go won’t take long!
The Mindful Kind podcast
The Mindful Kind, hosted by Rachael Kable, shares exciting insights into mindfulness journeys and provides listeners with simple and effective practices to incorporate into their own lives. Being mindful can be a fun and interesting journey. With The Mindful Kind, you will have weekly access to new ideas, personal experiences and practical mindful exercises.
Topics include Seasonal Affective Disorder, specific mindfulness practices, mindful exploration of emotions and much more.
If you’re hoping to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety through mindfulness, Aura may be the app for you. Whenever you’re stressed and anxious or having trouble sleeping, Aura will find mindfulness meditations, life coaching, short stories, natural soothing sounds, and music, for you.
Created by therapists and coaches, everything within the app is personalised so as it learns about what helps you, it will become more and more helpful. Aura’s meditations are pleasingly concise too as most take just three minutes, meaning they are super-easy to fit into your day. Plus, it even contains a simple gratitude journal to jot down thankful thoughts without the fuss of carrying paper around.
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Untangle is the podcast from the 5-star app, Meditation Studio. Experts and real people share stories about how mindfulness practices have changed their lives. Hear experiences from business leaders, psychologists, cancer survivors, mums, neuroscientists, nutritionists, storytellers and more.
Topics cover everything from why it’s important to meditate to how self-compassion practices change us from the inside out to why meditation helps with anxiety in adults and kids.
This thought-provoking and inspiring podcast offers a unique insight into the many different and varied experiences of mindfulness and other contemplative practices.
The Self Help Podcast
The Self Help Podcast is a weekly podcast dedicated to your emotional health and wellbeing brought to you by Live in the Present. Each week, entrepreneur Edward Lamb talks to psychotherapist Sean Orford about all things interesting.
Topics and questions covered include Why self help?, What makes human beings tick? Why are some more susceptible to depression and anxiety? The aim of the podcast is to help listeners become better, happier and more mindful human beings.
Stop, Breathe and Think
What makes this mindfulness app special is the fact that before you begin any meditation, it asks how you are feeling. Check in with your thoughts when you open the app and then practice mindful breathing in personalised meditations and activities to create space between your thoughts, emotions and reactions.
Stop, Breathe and Think encourages us to build emotional strength, take time to ourselves and develop the confidence to handle life’s ups and downs. Users think it is effective too as 46% of them felt less anxiety with consistent use of the app to document their moods and practise mindfulness. Plus, you can even install meditations from the app onto your Amazon home device or embark on group meditations at work by adding activities to a Slack channel.
On Being with Krista Tippett
On Being is a groundbreaking Peabody Award-winning public radio and podcast. Expect conversation about the big questions of meaning in 21st century lives and endeavours, spiritual enquiries, science, social healing and the arts.
Hosted by Krista Tippett, the podcast asks questions such as: What does it mean to be human? How do we want to live? And who will we be to each other?
Read more articles from Carys Evans on her website
Photography by Hean Prinsloo, Ansley Ventura, Natalia Figueredo, Jon Ly and Dustin Dagamac on Unsplash