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The best mindfulness apps in 2020

mindfulness apps: Buddify screenshot
(Image credit: Partel Unga)

The best mindfulness apps can help with all manner of mental and physical health problems, and improve overall life quality. In our culture of information overload, many people find they need to make an active effort to manage their stress levels in order to help prevent burnout.

From eating enough leafy greens to getting more shut-eye, there are plenty of tactics you can use to keep creative burnout at bay. Mindfulness – a proven method of helping to train your mind to more effectively manage anxiety and stress – is one of several strategies you can use to make yourself more resistant to burnout. And you don't have to go on a course or yoga class in order to benefit from mindfulness, you can get mindfulness apps on your iPad (also check out our iPad apps for designers for apps to help channel your creativity). 

Studies have shown that as little as 10 minutes of meditation a day can help reduce anxiety and stress, meaning that whether you slot yoga into your lunch break or realign your chakras on your commute home, small bitesize chunks of meditation could help significantly reduce your stress levels. 

And while your smartphone might be partially to blame for your soaring cortisol to begin with, there are plenty of mindfulness apps available to help you hone your brain waves and keep you cool as a cucumber, no matter what life throws your way. 

Keep your creative mojo on point by taking steps to manage stress and burnout with these six mindfulness apps.

Other apps you might want to check out include the best language learning apps, as well as the 8 most disruptive apps of all time.

01. Waking Up

mindfulness apps: Waking Up screenshot

Waking Up aims to help you understand your mind (Image credit: Waking Up)
  • Platform: Android/iOS
  • Price: From free 

Waking Up is a mindfulness app created by neuroscientist, philosopher, and New York Times best-selling author, Sam Harris. As well as having short practice meditation sessions, where you can learn to sharpen your mind, it also has a section on theory. The theory sessions consist of Harris' rational and insightful musings on topics such as why meditation is useful, gratitude and free will. 

His soothing tones and logical and rational explanations are ideal for those who are interested in discovering more about their minds, or learning more about how mindfulness can help them.

The app is currently free for the first month, and there is then a yearly subscription fee (although Ferris emphasises that those who truly cannot afford it can get a free account). 

02. Headspace

Trio of phone screens displaying Headspace

This design-centric guided meditation app could help you better manage the stresses of daily life
  • Platform: Android/iOS
  • Price: From free

This self-proclaimed ‘gym membership for the mind’ is the go-to mindfulness app for creatives and non-creatives alike. A pocket-sized personal meditation coach, Headspace’s commitment to making meditation simple has won it millions of users worldwide. 

Created by sports-scientist-turned-monk-turned-entrepreneur, Andy Puddicombe, this iconic app makes meditation a breeze with fun, easy-to-digest videos. 

Dip your toe in the water with the free version or commit for the long-haul with the subscription version. Featuring short, simple meditations in a cute, whimsical style, this iconic, UX-centric app, is a must-try if you want to integrate mindfulness into your day.

03. Calm

Phone screen displaying Calm dashboard

Pairing picturesque landscapes with tranquil sounds, Calm creates exactly that

  • Platform: Android/iOS
  • Price: From free

With a focus on the natural world, Calm is a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of working life. Chosen as Apple’s App of the Year in 2017, Calm’s serene soundtracks and beautiful location snapshots will help you conjure up a mental ‘safe space’. Featuring music, meditations, masterclasses and sleep-centric exercises, this app is a more nature-focused alternative to Headspace.

According to a study by the Center for Humane Technology, Calm is actually the app that leaves users the happiest when rated against other popular downloads. So, take a deep breath, listen to the pitter-patter of rainfall and picture a beautiful sunset in your mind’s eye with the help of Calm.

04. Personal Zen

Personal Zen app

Want to up your inner zen? There’s an app for that
  • Platform: iOS only
  • Price: From free

Simple and quirky, Personal Zen is a gamified version of Attention Bias Modification Training (ABMT), which has been shown to help the brain disengage from negative stimuli. 

Supported by clinical studies, this nifty app redirects your attention towards the positive. Simply trace the path of the friendly sprite through the grass quickly and smoothly – making sure not to let the grumpy sprite divert your focus.

If you’re prone to seeing the glass as half empty, this sweet, if somewhat low-fi, app is a breath of fresh air. 

05. MindFi

Trio of phone screens displaying MindFi applications

Short and sweet, MindFi is meditation for those who struggle to sit still
  • Platform: Android/iOS
  • Price: From free

MindFi Founder Bjorn Lee is on a mission to make us more productive. A self-confessed struggling meditator, the app is designed with fidgeters in mind. 

Whether you want to slot meditation in on your break, commute, or at a meal, this app, which is designed specifically for ‘busy humans’, aims to make it easy to find time for meditation in your hectic schedule. These short exercises, covering everything from deadline blues to mindful typing, will help you find a moment to breathe.

06. Buddhify

  • Platform: Android/iOS
  • Price: From £2.99

Whether you want to get a taste of mindfulness with Meditation 101 or can’t sleep and are looking for some exercises to help you drift off, Buddhify’s colourful meditation wheel makes it simple to pick and choose exercises to suit the situation. 

Championing people over profit, this husband and wife business has strong values at its heart. Avoiding the subscription model, Buddhify has a one-off cost, meaning it can work out significantly cheaper than some of its subscription-based competitors. 

If you think of meditation as a bike, then Buddhify is your stabilisers – and the app’s ultimate aim is to make you an app-free independent meditator. Look, no hands!

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