Smartphones are generally associated with keeping people switched-on rather than helping them to relax but a new generation of apps are changing that.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation rooted in ancient Buddhism. It has become popular in recent years as the pace of life has increased and we have become more connected to our work-life even when we’re at home. Mindfulness is all about switching off and focusing on the here and now. It’s about ‘knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment,’ says the NHS website.
How can your phone help?
The average Brit spends over 2 hours per day looking at their phone – whether scrolling Instagram, checking work emails or bargain hunting. So why not use some of that time to help you destress from modern life? Set aside your work emails for 10 minutes with one of the latest apps to help you find some relaxing headspace.
Headspace calls itself a ‘gym membership for the mind’. Founded by a former Buddhist monk, it’s a well-established app with celeb endorsements aplenty and rave reviews from respected magazines and websites. Some 10 million people use Headspace. It’s really helpful for getting started with meditation and then keeping it going. You take a series of 10-minute-long spoken-word exercises over a 10-day period.
From there, there’s a whole world of relaxation to discover, with ‘hundreds of hours of content’ for subscribers. You can choose sessions to suit how you’re feeling, or what you’re doing, at any specific time. The aim is to makes meditation sessions ‘no more strange than taking a shower’. You can download sessions to listen to offline, or use it on your laptop or tablet at home.
How much does it cost?
The first pack of 10-sessions are free, but then after that it’s a £7.95 per month subscription. If you purchase the year upfront it works out at £4.99 per month.
Headspace and Spotify – adding music to meditation
Music fans curious about mindfulness can get both as part of the same deal with a new tie up between Spotify and Headspace.
By subscribing to the joint package you get both for a discounted price. The combined Spotify and Headspace package costs £14.99 – the saving could buy you a lunchtime sandwich once every month. You can use a single login for both Spotify and Headspace and its’s easy for existing Spotify users to upgrade to both.
Other tech to help you relax
1. Get out of the right side of the bed
Hate getting out of bed on dark winter mornings? Wake feeling refreshed with the Withings Aura alarm clock.
Gradual blue light simulates a natural sunrise to help you wake up nicely even in winter. The quality of your sleep is monitored using clever sensors that go under your bedsheets, and it even has Spotify built-in for winding down and waking up.
2. Shut out the sounds of the world
When you’re listening to your meditation app or a relaxing playlist you really want to shut out the sounds of the outside world. Regular headphones are okay for this, but they can let in background noise such as passing traffic or conversation.
Noise-cancelling headphones are designed to keep these kind of noises firmly out. A reviewer in the New York Times said when listening to Headspace through noise-cancelling headphones it created a ‘surprisingly intimate experience’.
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