In today’s society we are all constantly bombarded with images, messages and communication from every angle. It becomes normality to the point where we feel as though we can’t function without it when in actuality generations of people survived just fine. With work pressures, families, friends, relationships and social pressure it can be difficult to just remember to take ten or fifteen minutes to stop. Stop working, stop thinking, stop worrying. Eventhough we should naturally be able to switch off these days of course we may need the help of an app! And the one that I love is called Headspace.
I have downloaded and deleted Headspace about three or four times in the last few years but this time I made a pact with myself that I would keep it. I have a tendency to get caught up in thought. They start as a fleeting image and once you engage with that thought it very quickly becomes real in your head and that is difficult to reign back in whereas if you never let it get that far it’s much easier to manage. The concept of headspace is simple. There are a series of meditations that are aimed to help you become more aware and mindful and the range of topics covered is vast. They vary from stress, depression, anxiety, sleep, relationships, balance, motivation and focus to body scans, restoration, pain management, sports, everyday tasks like commuting, cooking, the list is endless. Each package varies in length but is usually for 30 days on the basis that you listen to one a day. Each session is ten minutes long with an option to reduce to five minutes or extend to 30. I try to do it three times a day, first thing in the morning before getting up, after work and before sleeping. This time round what made me do it was trying to manage migraine. I found myself more anxious after getting one which loops back into triggering it from time to time so I am making a conscious effort to try and be aware of my mind and body and how they are interacting with each other.
The app itself is very user friendly. It’s not overly serious as the topic of well being, particularly mental well being, can be daunting for some people so it’s a very approachable app (if an app had personal traits!). The concepts and imagery are simple but incredibly effective and slowly build a series of tips that you can incorporate into your daily life and over time helps you to build a greater sense of self confidence and assurance to help you manage whatever difficulty you find yourself having. As well as the meditations themselves there are also a collection of animations which help to visualise the tips that are being taught. As well as the packages within the app there are also daily minis which change everyday and discuss a new area or look at mindfulness through another scope.
The biggest lesson I have taken from both counselling and apps like Headspace is to always observe thoughts and don’t engage with them. That’s not to say that you ignore anything which needs to be addressed but is a massively useful tip for those who manange anxiety on a daily basis. Be warned though it takes practice and maintenance. I tend to dip in and out of these routines when I feel better only to find 6 months later that I have fallen off the wagon for lack of a better phrase. Our natural instinct is to engage with thoughts and either argue them off or feed into them but this app has definitely had a positive impact on me and I can only encourage others to use it too. The app has a free section which gives you a taster of what it’s like and costs about 12 euro a month if you pay monthly but is cheaper if you purchase the annual subscription. For me it is an investment and so far it is the nudge for me to just take ten minutes to sit down, stop thinking about what needs to get done next, stop focusing on what could happen, stop rushing and racing and just be… just for a few minutes a day. You never know you might love it! For more info see https://www.headspace.com/
Image – Bing images and Headspace