Mental health, though a primary concern year-round, is especially important to prioritize now. From political pressures to inflation to the lingering effects of COVID still in place, it’s critical to keep these external stressors at bay.
I’m someone who’s largely influenced by my environment, in both the physical form (like a cluttered desk) and the emotional form (if there are too many sorrowful news headlines on my Twitter feed). So, I recently did a personal audit of setting my day up for success — and meditation is at the top of my list.
Now, I’ve heard it all before: How do you have time to meditate? How can you sit still for thirty minutes? Well, let me tell you — once you get into the groove of adding it to your morning routine, you won’t be sorry. And, I have Headspace to thank for that.
The guided platform for meditation, sleep, stress and mindfulness has wholeheartedly altered my days in the best way possible. On days when I’m working from home, I’ll still wake up at 5 a.m. to quietly sit and dive into my Headspace app (after: one of my obé Fitness classes, before: my iced coffee). The same holds true on days when I’m commuting to my NYC office — when I’m on the NJ Transit bus, Headspace is on thanks to my AirPods (after all, easy, hands-free listening + expert-led meditation = pure bliss).
“While we are well known for our meditation content, Headspace has thousands of hours of guided mindfulness exercises, on anything from focus to movement to sleep,” Elina Brown, content director at Headspace, told the New York Post. “Headspace offers guided meditations, eyes-open exercises (mindful walks and runs), breathing and wind-down exercises, Sleepcasts, soundscapes and more.”
First things first: What is Headspace?
Headspace, which was designed to “improve the health and happiness of the world,” per its site, provides science-backed meditation and mindfulness tools to help plant the seeds of healthy habit formation. You reap what you sow, after all, and mental health is what Headspace wants you to take root of and flourish.
What’s more, the platform boasts more than 70 million members, has more than 600K reviews and is used in 190 countries worldwide. Whether you’re looking to have a pre-planned daily wellness schedule (featuring morning and evening meditations and courses, along with an “afternoon lift”) or are interested in exploring easy-to-follow courses — like mindful money and mindful eating — Headspace serves as a top-tier meditation app to subscribe to.
In 28 published studies in some of the leading mindfulness peer-reviewed journals, Headspace has been shown to have favorable outcomes of interventions including reduced stress, improved focus, increased compassion, decreased aggression, increased resilience, reduced burnout, increased positivity and improved satisfaction with life.
At Headspace, the consumer’s journey comes first. “We meet members in the moment, producing relevant and timely content to get them through everyday situations, common life obstacles and in moments of crises,” Brown adds.
Pros & Cons of Headspace: Our Review
Ahead, we listed out the pros and cons of Headspace so you can easily go through each of our review points one by one. After using the platform for months now, we can attest it’s worth it, it helps bring more joy to our days and is something to look into.
- You can tune in on iOS and Android devices: Headspace doesn’t give preferential treatment to specific phone brands. Its mission is still the same — to give accessible meditation and wellness programs on the spot, whenever and wherever you need it.
- You can select courses to follow or individual meditations: Headspace’s rich library of relevant, relatable topics — like navigating injustice, dealing with anger and achieving mindfulness at work — encourages you to want to open the app at least once a day
- You can track your progress: Headspace’s stats section, you can see your average meditation length, total meditation time and how many sessions you’ve completed since your first time using the app. Plus, you can track your stress over time with monthly check-ins (think: your virtual wellness log).
- Your daily walks just got better: Headspace’s ‘Walk’ library features up to 40-minute-long courses that are aptly labeled — everything from Walking in Nature and Walking in the City to Mindful Coffee Walk and Intention Walks.
- Your daily movement just got better: Headspace’s ‘Move’ library features impressive yoga, cardio, quick workouts and more to get moving, boost your confidence and mindfully breathe for any activity level.
- Your sleep just got better: Headspace’s sleep-casts (“ever-changing storytelling in a range of soothing voices”), wind-downs to prepare your mind for sleep and calming sleep-music tracks are great to browse if you’re struggling to fall asleep. Plus, everything is in dark mode when you click on its ‘Sleep’ library, so it’s easier on your eyes to transition into your slumber.
- The cost: Though $70 for its annual subscription isn’t the worst, it’s still a hefty price to pay, considering there are some free meditation apps and hundreds of guided YouTube videos to add to your queue. However, given its wealth of benefits, it’s worth it — even if you just want to get started for one month.
- The overwhelming offerings: Ironically, for a meditation app, its vast catalog of courses is a bit daunting to sort through. But, if you’re like me and want to try everything it has to offer, you can pre-plan your meditations ahead of time to combat its full suite of options.
- The repetitive courses: If Headspace is used every day to maximize your membership (or, every few days), some of its offerings can be a bit repetitive, say, if you are looking to gear your wellness goals to a particular topic (like mindful budgeting). If you’ve never struggled in the financial realm — or, currently are in a good place — you won’t gravitate toward those meditations. So, if you’re only focused on one particular topic (for example, letting go of stress in general), you may find some of the offerings to seem like a broken record. Personally, I’ve enjoyed the variety, though this can be a miss for some.
- The lack of video components, at times: If you love the idea of podcasts, Headspace is 100% for you. If you’d rather watch a video of someone meditating or explaining meditation to you, Headspace’s video lessons lack a bit. But, this is offset by its less-than-10-minute videos to brighten your mood (I once watched a video of a hairdresser who helped the homeless population look and feel their best). Though uplifting to watch, it wasn’t the actual meditation.
How much does Headspace cost?
Headspace costs $5.83 a month when opting for the annual subscription ($69.96) or $12.99 a month when opting for a month-by-month membership ($155.88). That said, it’s a better value to subscribe to its annual subscription, especially if you’re looking to improve your wellness game and use it consistently.
Conveniently, the app offers a 14-day free trial when you select the annual subscription and seven-day free trial when you select the monthly option, so you can see how you like it (and if you stay on track with it for up to two weeks — that’s dedication!)
Is Calm better than Headspace?
Calm, another app with the mission to “improve your health and happiness,” per its site, is typically compared side-by-side with Headspace. Why? Because it’s free, though it doesn’t have the full-fledged features that Headspace is known for.
After trying Calm, too, I felt like it was more akin to typing in “quick meditation” on YouTube and reaching fast satisfaction to check it off my agenda for the day. However, I found Headspace’s approach more rewarding, as I can (1) follow a specific program, (2) track my progress and (3) customize my meditations exactly how I want them.
While any form of meditation is beneficial and (at times) life-giving, I recommend Headspace’s free trial over Calm’s free experience. Headspace offers a slew of beginner-friendly courses if you haven’t once embraced your namaste-power to its full potential (or, at all), so you’ll be well-equipped with everything the orange-embossed app has to offer.
Is Headspace good for anxiety?
While I don’t go to a therapist or have ever been diagnosed with anxiety, I can attest that Headspace has quieted my mind of anxious-leaning thoughts. If you’re an over-thinker, let the little things get to you at times or find yourself harping over intrusive thoughts, Headspace is a nice getaway from your brain that just needs to rest.
However, if you’re experiencing anxiety, depression or another mental-health-related condition, please seek out psychological assistance or call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Hotline at 1-800-950-NAMI.
However, Headspace is wonderful as a precursor to any stress-related feelings (for example, before anxious feelings arise). I found this especially true as I was revamping my budget and following its ‘Managing Financial Stress’ course. I appreciated how it still led me through deep breaths and informed me about emotionally healthy money management at the same time.
Additionally, Headspace’s sleep library was like my favorite white noise podcasts — but better. The app truly does take wellness from head to toe, from morning to night, so you can be the best version of yourself — and, in turn, encourage others to be the best versions of themselves.
It’s like the happy-domino effect — the effect we stand by and recommend 100%.
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