For a litany of reasons, the last three weeks have brought me to a terrifying state of exhaustion. I say terrifying because I once worked as a long-haul flight attendant, so I really know what fatigue feels like. Said exhaustion prompted me to book a few therapy sessions, pronto. From course one, he suggested listening to a mindfulness video on YouTube. I decided, as usual, to do things my way by finding free mindfulness apps.
If we’re going to head for a textbook definition here, mindfulness is the state of being fully conscious or aware of something. We experience a stupendous 50,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day. Evolution has lead us down a path of dread. Around every corner awaits trepidation, so I’m willing to bet a lot of those tens of thousands of thoughts call for us all to become more mindful of the reality around us.
While I don’t agree with all of her writing, I sometimes delve into Gabrielle Bernstein’s books. It was Gabrielle that brought me to the realization that in the present moment, we are safe. Mindfulness helps us grasp the present moment and release control, diminishing some of those tens of thousands of thoughts.
If you’re working as a freelancer of any kind, I invite you to try free mindfulness apps for a few reasons:
- Studies genuinely reveal that mindfulness rewires your brain for a more positive way of living. Seriously, read this one.
- Using free mindfulness apps means you only need to take a few minutes per day to chill out. You can spare a few moments, right?
- You need fewer of those feverish thoughts and more cool ones that leave you thinking things such as “Yeah, I got this.”
So, without further adieu, here are the five free mindfulness apps I have tried over the last few weeks. Oh, and I’ll let you know which one I moved onto purchasing too:
Free Mindfulness Apps Numero Uno: Headspace
I know just about every post on this topic focuses on Headspace from the off. However, there are good reasons for this:
- Headspace’s creators acknowledge the ancient and holistic roots of mindfulness. At the same time, they’re consistently striving to lay down scientific foundations for each meditation.
- The app has programs for addressing an array of aims. Such programs can tackle insomnia, which walks side-by-side with stress and depression in the most insidious of manners. It also focuses on anxiety, fear, and despair itself.
- Even if you don’t have a clinical diagnosis, the audio is seriously soothing.
Regarding why it’s one of the best free mindfulness apps for freelancers: Headspace has programs for focus and work. Starting out as a newbie is particularly disorientating. And not the disorientating that comes with walking down a strange street; the type that comes with swimming in a shark tank.
So, if you’re new to mindfulness, download Headspace and see if it works out for you.
Now, for the world’s simplest title: Mindfulness
I love Mindfulness. And I don’t just like it because someone somewhere took a genuinely lazy approach to the name. That’s usually my reasoning behind deciding what I do and do not love.
Like most free mindfulness apps, you move onto paying for the full version eventually. From there, you can choose creators, programs, and sounds that are conducive to your aims. For example, I am currently focusing on letting go of control. God that one is tough.
Best of all, you’re able to set timers that match the hecticness of your lifestyle. Got three minutes to spare? Great! There’s a three-minute program. Feeling a little indulgent? Head straight for 20+ minutes, my friend.
My only qualm with Mindfulness is this: some of the programs are seriously shit. While commuting, I sat through 15 entire minutes of a breath focus program that did nothing for me.
Being the moderately sensible person I am occasionally capable of being, I decided to try again at home. Like when I sat on the bus embracing the lack of other humans around me, it did nothing. Why? Because the ‘expert’ provided only the occasional interjection on focusing on my breath.
Exploring a few more of Mindfulness’s guides, I found that there is the odd one that’s quite hit and miss. While I understand this is an excellent example of a personal preference, there seems to be more than you’ll find with other free mindfulness apps.
One of the seriously soothing free mindfulness apps: Calm
Like many of the free mindfulness apps out there, Calm encourages you to start each program by taking a deep breath. Your deep breath prompt comes on opening the app, and this is a feature I seriously appreciate. As someone who possibly doesn’t take enough of them, the occasional prompt is always welcome.
You’re then met with peaceful nature sounds. From twittering birds through to the rustles you encounter as you walk through an open forest, there’s a soothing note that eases you into your mindfulness session.
Starting your life of mindfulness with Calm means moving through a seven-day program that gently eases you into the process. Unlike Mindfulness, you’re shoehorned into a set ten minutes. Depending on how you see this, it isn’t always a bad thing.
Any habit or topic you want to become proficient in requires a firm time commitment. So, having an app enforce said commitment to you is possibly handy. If you’re sat there thinking “Yes but I am too busy, and I will take the three-minute option below, ta,” consider that you probably also waste a lot of time on absolute bollocks throughout your day.
My only qualm with calm (check that out for a rhyme), is that you have one week to cancel your subscription before your £35.99 per-year trial begins. In the grand scheme of things, £35.99 isn’t much to spend on a habit that boosts productivity, and therefore probably makes you a better freelancer. But, if you’re anything like me, you may forget to cancel and find yourself facing a sea of previously free mindfulness apps you can no longer cancel.
An app for busy lives: 3-minute mindfulness
Okay, three-minute mindfulness pretty much does what it says on the tin. Each of your mindfulness practices takes place within three minutes. Although I did mention before that ten-minute programs are no bad thing, I can see where three minutes comes in handy:
- You’re like me, and you have the patience/organizational skills of a toddler. Therefore you need something super short.
- You’re a parent, and the only chance you get to practice mindfulness is when you’re in the bathroom pretending to pee.
- You’re a lark who’s approaching freelancing as a side-hustle for the time being, not by your choosing. So the last thing you want to do is blast out any more than three minutes of mindfulness when you’re trying to squeeze in work before your day job
Or, maybe you’re just new to mindfulness, and you don’t want to dedicate any more time than you feel necessary before you test it out. That’s fine because this is one of my favorite free mindfulness apps for a few reasons:
- It’s one of the few out there that begins its starter program with an introduction to what mindfulness is
- It also states why so many mindfulness narrators fixate on deep breathing
- You can choose from an array of applications, ranging from tackling insomnia to blasting stress out of your life
- There’s a pretty screen you can stare at if you prefer to practice mindfulness with your eyes open
So far, I haven’t seen any pricing details. Also, I didn’t have to press my grubby thumbprint into my iPhone7 as an agreement that I’ll pay an annual fee once my trial period ends. As such, it might be one of those free mindfulness apps that’s genuinely, well, free.
Let’s not complicate things: Simple Habit
Okay, I have to admit that the aesthetics of Simple Habits logo drew me towards it a lot. Also, it comes with a variety of subscription options once you move beyond the free period. You can go for regular or premium, and I am guessing premium means the more advanced of the two.
As far as I can tell, this is one of the only free mindfulness apps that suggests reflections based on seasonal themes. Right now, that theme is Valentine’s Day. But, when Christmas roles around – a period where suicide rates sadly rise and work becomes frantic – having those seasonal ideas proves useful.
Like Calm, you can select programs of varying durations and from different guides. The variety is broad, and the seven-day programs tackle many of the areas where we freelancers struggle: such as sleep, productivity, and general stress.
As for the one I chose? I ended on two! Although I have my doubts with Calm, there are some seriously good programs out there, and I love that I can choose my background noises to suit my mood with each session. And the other? 3 Minute Mindfulness. Whether you’re a freelance writer like me or you’re in some other wild Internet game, you too will appreciate why sometimes having three minutes of peace inbetween the litany of clients is a much-welcome blessing.