Tried and tested – Well-being apps

The number of apps geared towards improving your health and well-being is growing all the time. But how helpful are they? Do they save time and money? And do they actually work? We find the top apps to help you combat stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia.

Best for mindfulness

Headspace

What it costs: Basics trial is free, £9.99 a month, £71.88 a year or £299.99 for a lifetime.

What it helps with: Life (relationship issues, productivity, sport/fitness goals, anxiety, self-esteem, sleep).

What it offers: A personal trainer for the mind offering simple guided meditations and teaching mindfulness techniques to bring calm, balance and wellness to your life. Sessions from just a few minutes a day up to 20 minutes, plus lessons for tackling issues like health, performance, relationships etc.

Good bits: Extremely easy to use. Just download, register and start exploring. Lots of variation (meditation, mindfulness and self-help programmes to suit a variety of issues/states of mind). To get most out of it, use the simple reminders and schedule ten to 15 minutes of focused attention a day. Great visuals and animations that appealed to both men and women testers.

Bad bits: It is one of the most expensive apps tried and reminders and offers to upgrade will pop up while on the free version. There’s only one voice guiding every session, so if you don’t like it, you’re stuck with it! No ambient music in any of the sessions.

Best for anxiety

My Possible Self

What it costs: Seven-day free trial, £5.99 a month, £60 a year.

What it helps with: Fear, anxiety, stress, loss and life-changes and problem solving.

What it offers: A clinically proven, personalised self-help plan to help you feel better in just eight weeks via downloadable modules licensed from the Black Dog Institute.

Good bits: Really easy to download and use and only a one-off payment, so no unexpected bills. Excellent techniques for managing anxiety and it really helped our tester develop awareness of triggers that caused her to feel low.

Bad bits: The only issue tester had was that for most of the activities you had to write down three bad things per day – and if only two had happened, the tester felt she had to make up a third!

Best for insomniacs

Relax Melodies 

What it costs: Free for basic option. In-app purchases from £2.29 up to a whopping £299.99 on Android. Monthly subscription from $9.99 or lifetime access for $19.99 on Apple.

What it helps: Insomnia, anxiety.

What it does: Provides sounds and melodies for you to customise into a mix to help you fall asleep and improve the quality and duration of that sleep. The free version provides 52 free sounds. Subscription allows you to download five-day programmes and single sessions on different topics.

Good bits: It works! Customising soundtracks to sleep to is easy and you can pick how long they run for. You can save your mixes, share them to the Community Melodies section and access other people’s mixes too. If you pay for a subscription you can access the meditations and advice programmes – the one on achieving better sleep and deep sleep was useful. You can play the melodies at other times too – as background music, in the car, on the go and they work to get babies off to sleep too!

Bad bits: If you do like it, then it is cheaper to pay for the unlimited access fee. If you don’t, you may find the subscriptions will automatically renew until you stop them, which can be a shock!

Best for stress management

Buddhify

What it costs: One-off fee of £4.99 on Apple, £2.39 on Android

What it helps with: Anxiety, stress, sleep, pain, difficult emotions.

What it offers: 200-plus meditations to help with all the above. The mindfulness exercises can be done while travelling, at work, eating and online.

Good bits: Very user friendly with a customisable wheel that is very visual. Over 200 meditations to choose from depending on what you want them for and how long you’ve got. Complete beginners’ sessions are excellent and choice of lengths from three minutes to 40 minutes is great if you don’t have much time. There are no adverts and there are a variety of voices to listen to.

Bad bits: Not really a bad bit, but mindfulness is not a ‘quick fix’, so you do need to commit to learning how to do it properly.

 

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