There are countless apps out there that claim to help you calm down, aid sleep, cure stress or make you happier, but how do you know which ones to try? We asked some of the experts who have contributed to the April issue of RG Best Health as well as our ‘app loving’ friends, what they would recommend.
Mindfulness, Meditation and Better Sleep
When you ask regular practitioners what their favourite apps are for mindfulness and meditation, the same three always come up: Insight Timer, Calm and Headspace.
Insight Timer: Describing itself as the “#1 free app for sleep, anxiety and stress”, Insight Timer offers tens of thousands of guided meditations, online events, courses, guided sleep practices and calming music. There is also a section for parents containing stories and music that help children calm down or go to sleep. Their meditation timer can be customised to whichever sounds and time bells work for you and their seven day ‘Learn How To Meditate’ course helps beginners master the basics of meditation. Insight Timer is free to download and access. Insighttimer.com
Calm: Have you ever wanted to have Matthew McConaughey, Regé-Jean Page or Kelly Rowland read you a bedtime story? Calm offers stories read by them, and others, to help you sleep. It also provides calming music, stretching, warm up and cool down exercises and a variety of mindfulness and meditation options to help with issues including stress, anxiety, grief and sleep difficulties. You can also find stories and meditations for children and young adults. Calm is free to download, but you need to pay to access the content. An annual subscription is USD69.99. Calm.com
Headspace: Considered the better app if you are a complete beginner or want more structure to your meditation and mindfulness practice, Headspace is easy to navigate and has short meditations as well as longer ones. Their sleep content includes ‘sleepcasts’, which are audio tours of different, and sometimes made-up, places, and ‘night-time SOS sessions’, which users can try when their sleep is disturbed by bad dreams or general worries. The app’s ‘Move’ section includes mindful workout sessions. Headspace is also free to download, but you need to pay to access most of the content. Subscriptions cost USD12.99 monthly or USD69.99 annually. Headspace.com
Our time management experts, Jessica Lightbourne and Lorene Phillips, co-founders of the ICLI coach training and leadership institute, recommended the app Asana for productivity. A PCMag Editor’s Choice winner, Asana manages team projects and tasks by allowing users to organise their work details, priorities and deadlines in one place. These can then be easily tracked. Team members can even record integrated video messages, which can reduce laborious meetings. Asana’s basic package is free but premium and business packages cost USD10.99 and USD24.99 per month respectively. Asana.com
If you work at a desk and stay relatively still throughout the day, having an app reminding you to move and stretch isn’t just good for your health, but for your overall happiness too.
Health and fitness enthusiasts recommend the FitOn app, particularly for the stretching, yoga and quick HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts. Designed to be done at home – or anywhere convenient – FitOn’s workouts are varied, require minimal or no equipment and cater to beginners all the way through to the super fit. There is even a section for parents who want to involve their children in their workout. The FitOn app is free to download and access. Fitonapp.com