As a member of a Health + Wellness club, we’re sure you understand the importance of taking good care of your body with regular physical activity, a well balanced diet and plenty of sleep to aid your recovery.
But with a hectic schedule to contend with, it’s easy to forget to put the same time and energy into looking after your mental wellbeing, which countless studies show is just as vital when striving to lead a long and healthy life.
You’ve probably heard of mindfulness, but many people dismiss the practice as a wellness buzzword, without fully understanding how it could benefit their day-to-day lives and overall health.
Put simply, mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment and aware of what you’re doing, without becoming distracted or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you. Being fully aware of your body’s thoughts and emotions allows us to identify when we’re stressed, anxious or feeling low, subsequently giving us the opportunity to address these feelings before they have a chance to take over.
Whilst some level of stress is inevitable in all our lives, high levels over long periods of time have been linked to serious health issues including heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. Therefore, finding ways to manage stress and negative emotions early on is imperative for our long term health.
Mindfulness is a state of being that is present in all of us, we just have to learn how to access it with the help of mindfulness practice and techniques.
If you’re not sure where to begin, mindfulness apps are a great place to start. We’ve put together a list of the top free mindfulness apps to help you get going and build the practice into your daily routine.
Insight Timer has a huge library of content: over 80,000 free guided meditations from over 10,000 teachers on topics like stress, relationships, healing, sleep, creativity, and more. The app offers live events every hour of the day to join on a whim or plan into your schedule. If you prefer a quieter meditation, however, you can simply set a timer and meditate to intermittent bells, calming ambient noise, or soothing music.
Smiling Mind is a not-for-profit app that features hundreds of meditations organised into handy sections to prevent overwhelming you with choice. Most are between 5-15 minutes long, allowing you to fit them into the busiest of days (when you’ll probably need them most!) The app also includes content aimed at children and teens, developed with the help of psychologists.
Developed by the Mindful Awareness Research Centre at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the app features about a dozen meditations of different types. The app has a great ‘Getting Started’ section, perfect for beginners, which covers what mindfulness is, how to choose a meditation that’s right for you, which posture is best for your practice, and what scientifically-backed benefits you can expect from it.
Healthy Minds Programme
The Healthy Minds Programme was founded by neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson and integrates neuroscience and research-based techniques with meditation training to increase overall wellbeing. In addition to the most common sitting types of practice it also offers active meditation, which include guidance on being mindful while you exercise- perfect for regular gym-goers!
The founder of Headspace, Andy Puddicombe created the app with the huge-yet-simple goal of teaching meditation and mindfulness to as many people as possible. The free version of the app offers a basics course which will teach you the essentials of meditation and mindfulness with the option to subscribe for hundreds more meditations on everything from stress to sleep.
There's a wealth of content out there to help you build mindfulness practice into your routine and make it work for you. Many of our holistic classes dedicate time to mindfulness and relaxation, giving you the opportunity to mix things up and practice in a group environment which you may find works better for you.
Check out the full range of holistic classes on offer here...