8 Meditation Apps for Better Mental Health

8 Meditation Apps for Better Mental Health

Discover the physical and mental well-being benefits of using meditation apps.

Numerous studies have shown the positive effects that meditation apps can have on various aspects of physical and mental health. One study used an app designed for mindfulness training which “includes a variety of contemplative practices aimed at promoting intentional awareness of experience, coupled with attitudes of non judgment and curiosity” (Walsh et al., 2019). After just three weeks of practice, participants noticed a multitude of benefits.

Benefits of mindfulness app training:

● Improved mood
● Reduced stress
● Improvements in attentional control
● Greater self-acceptance (Walsh et al., 2019)

Meditation, and even meditation apps in particular, has been shown to have many physical and mental benefits. Beginning a meditation practice could be as easy as pushing the download button on your phone. However, this brings up a problem—which app out of the thousands available should you choose? This article will highlight apps that are catered to what you want to achieve, such as reducing anxiety or getting better sleep. There are also meditation apps designed to be used through pregnancy or for journaling. Keep reading to find the meditation app that best fits your goals.

Best Meditation Apps

You have likely seen or heard advertisements for some of the more popular meditation apps including Calm and Headspace. While these apps may be the most popular, they won’t necessarily be the “best” app for everyone. Both of these apps have free trial periods but do require payment to access most of the content after that period is up. Calm and Headspace currently cost 12.99 USD per month or 69.99 USD per year.

Both apps have been scientifically studied for efficacy, though Headspace has been more thoroughly investigated. A review of studies found that out of 14 studies on the efficacy of Headspace, it did help improve symptoms of depression though results were mixed for outcomes related to mindfulness, well-being, stress, and anxiety. There has only been one study for Calm and therefore there is not as much evidence on how well it works to alleviate symptoms of psychological distress (O’Daffer et al., 2022).

Apps for Sleep

Getting adequate amounts of sleep is an essential piece to your overall well-being. Getting 7-8 hours of restful sleep per night has many beneficial functions for your body including enhancing learning and memory, strengthening physical health, and clearing inflammatory neurochemicals that lead to cognitive decline (Z Assefa et al., 2015). Meditation Nest is an app that has a dedicated section for sleep resources. These resources include meditation sessions, bedtime stories, and nature sounds to help you drift off to sleep.

Pzizz is an app customized with three themes: sleep, nap, and focus. The nap setting is helpful because it provides spoken instructions along with sounds and music to help you get some rest. The focus mode plays music designed to boost productivity. The app learns what your preferences are over time and can personalize playlists accordingly.

Apps for Anxiety

The Healthy Minds Program is a free app that, with consistent use, has been shown to have benefits such as reduced distress and increased social connectedness (Goldberg et al., 2020). The program was developed by a neuroscientist in conjunction with the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The program features meditations as well as podcast-style programs to help you develop a healthy mindset.

Sometimes easing feelings of anxiety can start with trying to actively relax your mind and body. Smiling Mind is a completely free app that has dedicated programs for a variety of goals such as mindful eating, getting more sleep, or reducing stress. This is also a useful resource if you are a parent as the app has dedicated mindfulness and meditation programs for adults as well as children.

Apps for Beginners

Meditation & Relaxation Pro is a great app for people who aren’t sure where to get started. This app offers a free 7-day trial which is a perfect opportunity to try one of their week-long guided programs. The programs focus on topics such as self-love and stress relief. The 7-day introduction to mindfulness techniques is a good place to start.

Buddhify is another app that is helpful for beginners. The meditation sessions on this app are as short as 3 minutes and are designed to fit into a busy day. There are themed meditations on a variety of topics to help you face your life more mindfully. For example, one meditation session on how to face stressful situations is a practical way to incorporate more mindfulness into your everyday life. Try choosing a meditation that will help bring you closer to your goals.

Which App Is Best for Me?

The only way to know which meditation app is best for you is to give a few different options a try. There are many different types of meditation practice, such as guided or transcendental meditation. Different people will prefer different types of practices. If you find that you just don’t like the first app you try, give another one a shot. With time and patience, you will find the app that works best for your lifestyle and goals.

In Sum

Meditation apps have been shown to have many benefits including improved mood, reduced stress, improvements in attentional control, and greater self-acceptance (Walsh et al., 2019).

There are a variety of apps targeted toward different needs such as reducing anxiety, helping with sleep, or guiding women through their pregnancies. With time and patience, you can find an app that helps propel you toward your goals. With regular practice, you could experience many of the benefits meditation apps offer.

References

● Goldberg, S. B., Imhoff-Smith, T., Bolt, D. M., Wilson-Mendenhall, C. D., Dahl, C. J., Davidson, R. J., & Rosenkranz, M. A. (2020). Testing the efficacy of a multicomponent, self-guided, smartphone-based meditation app: Three-armed randomized controlled trial. JMIR Mental Health, 7(11). https://doi.org/10.2196/23825

● O’Daffer, A., Colt, S. F., Wasil, A. R., & Lau, N. (2022). Efficacy and conflicts of interest in randomized controlled trials evaluating headspace and calm apps: Systematic review. JMIR Mental Health, 9(9). https://doi.org/10.2196/40924

● Walsh, K. M., Saab, B. J., & Farb, N. A. S. (2019). Effects of a mindfulness meditation app on subjective well-being: Active randomized controlled trial and experience sampling study. JMIR Mental Health, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.2196/10844

● Z Assefa, S., Diaz-Abad, M., M Wickwire, E., & M Scharf, S. (2015). The Functions of Sleep. AIMS Neuroscience, 2(3), 155–171.