Practising self-care has never been so important. As lockdown restrictions continue to roll on , it’s vital that we make time in our days to show ourselves a bit of kindness, take care of our mental health and ensure we’re not diving back into things too quickly.
The term ‘self-care’ has become a bit of a wellness buzzword, so it’s important that we don’t lose sight of what the term actually means. While nowadays people might associate self-care with luxurious face masks and experimental relaxation techniques, self-care simply refers to any activity that we engage in to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health, including those mentioned above.
And good self-care is actually vitally important. We don’t all have to subscribe to the term itself, but practising simple self-care on a daily basis is just as important as brushing your teeth or eating breakfast, whether you deal with a diagnosed mental health condition or not.
On that note, it’s also important to remember that self-care can look and take as much time as you want it to; you don’t have to complete an hour of silent meditation every day to make it count. Something as simple as completing a mindfulness meditation as part of your morning routine or getting out in nature and going for a walk can work just as well – if not better – for some people.
Regular breaks are also a crucial part of self-care. It’s why Stylist launched the Work It Out campaign, encouraging readers to take their Work 5 A Day, a minimum of five small breaks in which to get away from your desk. Whether you use them to go for a walk outside, talk to a friend or simply take some deep breaths, they can help you de-stress and increase creativity.
With this in mind, mindfulness apps are a great way to make self-care into a daily habit. Whether they’re guiding you through a breathing exercise or simply reminding you to take care of yourself, mindfulness apps help to make the process a whole lot easier by giving you self-care at your fingertips.
If you’re not able to splash the cash on one of the apps below, it’s worth noting that lots of them offer a free trial to get you started. There’s also lots of free resources and content available to support your self-care online (lots of apps have made their content free during the coronavirus crisis).
So without further ado, we’ve selected seven of the best mindfulness apps to give you some inspiration to make self-care a part of your daily routine as lockdown eases and we transition into a ‘new normal’.
Much more than just a mindfulness app, Living Ashram is the home of a guided wellbeing programme which provides you with targeted tools and resources to support all four pillars of health and wellbeing: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual.
Their ‘Giving Week’ programme applies “extensive evidence-based research and methodologies” across the areas of neuroscience, psychology and mindfulness among others, into a toolkit of techniques and approaches for you to apply to your everyday life.
Living Ashram currently offers a one month free trial if you sign up via their website, after which the app costs £8.99 a month of £88.99 for a whole year.
The Calm app is a comprehensive mindfulness app which offers a range of different self-care tools including guided meditations, music to help you focus, relax or sleep and video lessons on mindful movement and stretching. Calm also offers a range sleep stories, which are tales narrated by celebrities including Stephen Fry and Matthew McConaughey.
When you first open the app you’re asked to identify the reasons you came to Calm, with options including “build self-esteem,” “develop gratitude,” and “reduce anxiety,” allowing the app to recommend exercises and tools that will work best for you.
Calm currently offers a seven-day free trial, after which the app costs £28.99 for a yearly subscription.
Describing itself as “your personal guide to mindfulness,” Headspace is a comprehensive mindfulness tool which makes incorporating self-care into your routine a breeze.
According to Headspace, just 10 days’ use of the app can increase happiness by 16% – and with content covering everything from sleep and fitness to self-esteem and stress, there’s plenty to enjoy.
Headspace currently offers a two-week free trial when you pay for the first year at £49.99. On a monthly basis, a subscription costs £9.99.
Shine is the perfect mindfulness app for anyone looking for a bit of support and inspiration when it comes to self-care.
Each weekday the app sends you your “Daily Shine”, a motivational message paired with a mindfulness meditation and research-backed tips on mental health, based on your “self-care focus” which you pick from a list of options. Alongside this, Shine will also prompt you to “check in” with yourself every day, asking simple questions like “What are you grateful for today?” to help you reflect on where you’re at.
The app also has an online community which engages in conversation via the daily discussion questions, making it a great place to share and learn more about how other people approach self-care.
You can get limited content on Shine for free, but upgrading to premium opens up a whole library of meditations and strategies for you to use. You can start with a one week free trial, after which a subscription costs £10.99 per month or £62.99 a year.
Take the time out of your day to reflect on how you’re doing with the handy Reflectly app.
Reflectly uses artificial intelligence to help you “structure and reflect upon your daily thoughts and problems,” learning from the ideas and topics you respond to and providing space for you to reflect on the things that matter for you.
The best bit? You can do it anywhere at any time, perfect for someone looking to add a few mindful moments into their daily routine.
To unlock the full features on Reflectly, you can enjoy a seven-day free trial after which you can pay £41.99 for an annual subscription.
What the #SelfCare app lacks in the guided meditation offered by the other titles on this list, it makes up for in its cute, calming design and satisfyingly simple concept.
Essentially, what #SelfCare offers is the chance to stay in bed all day (albeit virtually), surrounded by the calming influences of crystals and an adorable pet cat.
Ultimately, #SelfCare is mindfulness without any fuss. Switch off the world for a second and spend some time sorting virtual laundry and listening to some calming music – you deserve it.
You can pay for in-game expansions if you fancy it, but the app itself is totally free.
Whether you’re dealing with stress, anxiety or having trouble sleeping, Aura has got you covered.
Personalised by AI, this simple app provides short, science-backed mindfulness meditation exercises to suit your self-care needs; just tell Aura your feelings and let the app do the work for you, finding a three-minute meditation exercise suited to your situation. The app also provides you with daily reminders to sit back and take a break, as well as daily reflections to help you practise gratitude.
The app offers a seven-day free trial, after which a subscription costs £51.99.
As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.