I tried four wellbeing apps and here’s what happened

06 Sep 2021
By Hazel M., Freelance writer, journalist and total bookworm at Unite Students

There’s no doubt that technology has well and truly embedded itself into our lives (or most of our lives, at least). But are we using it for the right reasons?

While I spend a lot of time on my phone scrolling social media, I sometimes forget that there are some real pros to having an abundant library of apps at my fingertips.

In fact, using social media can take a real mental toll, which is why having a break from my phone for good didn’t seem like such a bad idea.

But, before I took the dramatic step of leaving my device behind forever, this month, I decided to spend some real time getting to know some of the other apps on my phone (like ones that could actually help me).

Here’s how it went…

Available on iOS, Android
Cost: £28.99 p/a

I’d heard a lot about the Calm app, which was why it was one of the first apps I decided to download in my bid to build a healthier relationship with my iPhone. And, after a week of using it, I’m not surprised it’s so popular.

The ultimate well-being tool, it offers countless guided meditations, sleep-time stories and calming music to help you feel at peace – and it really does work. After a ten-minute session before I went to sleep each night, I slept better than I had in a long time.

It even has celebrity storytellers, including the likes of Harry Styles, Stephen Fry and more. My only gripe was that, when I listened to one story told by Matthew McConaughey, all I could think about was Magic Mike.

Be aware that, after the seven-day trial, you do have to pay £28.99 for a year’s sign-up, so, before I committed, I decided to try my hand at some other apps, too.

Available on iOS, Android
Cost: £9.99 p/m

In a similar vein to Calm, Headspace is another meditation app but with a slightly bigger price tag. At £9.99 a month, you’ll want to make sure you’re actually going to use it before you start investing.

But that’s what free trials are for, so I signed up and decided to jump right in.

What I’ve learnt is that Headspace is the ultimate app for meditation beginners. From taking part in the beginners’ course to getting some peace for just a few minutes a day, it’s perfect for those who don’t have the time to invest in themselves, even if they want to.

What I learnt? A few minutes a day of listening to mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe’s dulcet tones actually will help you feel healthier and happier – more so than you think.

Sleep Cycle
Available on iOS, Android
Cost: free

I like to think that I’m a morning person, but, in reality, I’m not human until I’ve had my first cup of tea. In fact, waking up is usually a battle with my alarm clock for ‘just a few more minutes’.

But if you, like me, have trouble waking up in the morning, then Sleep Cycle could solve all your problems. This intelligent alarm clock tracks your sleep cycle, learning your sleeping pattern and waking you up when you’re in your lightest sleep phase, so it doesn’t feel like such a hammer to the head.

While I found the sleep analysis side of the app interesting, it really was the wake-up call that made this app a keeper for me. Besides, it’s totally free.

Worry Tree
Available on iOS, Android
Cost: free

While I’m not necessarily an anxious person, I do, like everyone, have worries. For me, a lot of this revolves around deadlines and work, getting my bills paid and making time for my friends and family.

But sometimes it just helps to share the burden. With Worry Tree, it uses cognitive behaviour therapy to help you track your concerns, manage them and decide what to do to move forward. It doesn’t require you to talk to anyone and it’s completely free to use.

I particularly loved this app because I wouldn’t usually voice these worries to anyone else, and it gave me an outlet, so I didn’t have to mull them over on a constant basis.

The result? A way of coping with stress while also taking action. In my world, that’s a total win.

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When not stringing words together, can usually be found on the local beach with her cocker spaniel pup, Huey.