Tsvetina from our Counselling, Health and Wellbeing team shares her recommended downloads to help you through the spring semester …
The second semester is flying by and coursework is piling up. Without realising it, students often prioritise academic work beyond the healthy balance and indulge into prolonged hours of studying. We have found some great apps that can help you with your relaxation skills. Taking a break to relax can be extremely helpful for your efficient studying. In fact, taking regular times off from studying to do some other activity can help with your attention and motivation levels. Relaxing by giving your brain some time to wind down is an option that can help both with your studying and general wellbeing.
Mindfulness is one of the most easy to accommodate and practise relaxation techniques that receives a lot of attention in research and counselling. Researchers have started using the term ‘trait Mindfulness’ to describe a trait characterised by enhanced awareness of the present and have started to find many positive health and wellbeing outcomes correlated with it.
If you decide to take up mindfulness, there is a lot of online resources ranging from guided videos, online handouts and apps. In this blog we will give you a couple of suggestions for apps that can help you get into that balanced routine by relaxing regularly.
A couple of tips before you get started
Remember to be patient with yourself and don’t expect too much from just a couple of practices. Mindfulness is about embracing your mental flow as it is without criticising or analysing. Perceiving negative thoughts as natural responses to experiences in your life can be extremely beneficial for your peace of mind journey.
Feelings of relief and actual release of stress require persistence and acceptance of your thoughts as they are so don’t feel you are doing something wrong if you get distracted easily in the beginning. Note that the more you try to stop a thought going through your head, the more you will find yourself occupied with it.
Before starting your practice be aware of your attention and the constant shifts that it is taking. Try to focus only on the activity you are doing at present for a couple of minutes. You will realise that sometimes this can be the hardest task to do as our focus can be extremely hard to capture, especially when we are stressed. Practice this a couple of times for just small periods of time and you will see how you get better at it with time.
Beware of the phone!
We realise that by giving you apps suggestions we are unwittingly encouraging you to use your phone, when it is known to be helpful to have regular periods away from it to support your relaxation. However, we want you to realise what role your phone should have. It is supposed to be used as a facilitating tool for your relaxation and it certainly can’t do the job itself. An important point to make is that while using any meditation app you should make sure you have all sounds switched off or even better – airplane mode on.
Your phone is usually one of the most tempting distractors while you are studying, reading or socialising in real life. Make a small experiment using the Checky app which counts how many times you check your phone per day to get a sense of its impact on our daily routine.
So here is our humble list of suggested apps that can help with your relaxation:
If it is your first time doing mindfulness, Headspace is the ultimate starting kit for it. It offers a free 10-day trial of guided mindfulness exercises with the soothing voice of the meditation and mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe. Headspace is really gaining popularity amongst users and researchers and you can read why it is such a beneficial practice at its website.
Buddhify (iTunes – £4.99, Android – £1.99)
This app offers a really user-friendly interface and wonderful variety of over 80 custom guided audio meditation tracks. It is the perfect option for busy people as the tracks are designed for 15 locations such as ‘Going to sleep’, ‘Walking in city’ or ‘Feeling Stressed’. It is a great example of how meditation can be accommodated in so many different aspects of our lives as long as we want to practice it. More features include a solo meditation time and community stats with Q&A.
Meditation Timer Pro (iTunes – £0.99)
Meditation Timer Pro is a great facilitating meditation app that allows you to focus only on your practice. It allows you to customize your meditation with prepare time, interval time and cool down time while setting a unique sound for each interval. There are also some lovely background pictures you can choose from that hide the time so you don’t get tempted to check upon your progress. You can set up a password and create reminders so that you don’t skip a practice.
Omvana has gathered so much resources around meditation, relaxation, inspiration, sleep and self-improvement in one place in order to enable you to customize your own way to personal wellbeing. The app includes meditation and relaxation audios, yoga music, inspirational talks, sleep sounds and much more that can help with any aspect of your personal growth. It is a perfect choice for those of you who still haven’t found their best way of relaxing.
A wonderful app that offers a unique calming interface and an easy tool for guided meditation. You can pick an audio on Work Break relaxation or Stress Relief meditation, pick a background sound or music and indulge into your meditation! There are also some great tips on using the app that would answer any questions you may have.
This is an amazing app that has a wide variety of themed meditations that can be beneficial for a particular issue such as calming anxiety, managing stress, forgiveness and self-esteem. Another great options are the breathing exercises and Daily Calm which is a 10-minute programme added daily to help ease you into the day or unwind with before bed. A lovely addition to its features are the sleep stories – adult bedtime stories guaranteed to lull you to sleep.
Smiling Mind is an app-based program available for variety of ages and targeted around categories such as Mindfulness in the Workplace or Sport. The app lets you track your progress in meditation by showing your overall time, mood fluctuations and frequency of practice. The programme for adults runs in 10 modules with 42 sessions overall that go through the basics of mindfulness meditation, listening skills, mindful eating and stepping back to pay attention to your thoughts and emotions. Starting at just three minutes in length, you’ll find it easy to introduce meditation into your daily routine.
We really hope that after having a read through the vast amount of options available to you, you will consider your relax time more often in your daily routines.
Your feedback and help please
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Tsvetina, Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Placement Student
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