Sarah McGill (@sarahfmcgill on Instagram) is a marketing coordinator in the natural & organic food industry by day and an indoor cycling instructor by night. She’s obsessed with all things wellness, beauty and Bravo TV. Here, she lists her favorite guided meditation apps.
Okay, everyone. Let’s all take a deep breath in and out. That felt relaxing, right? Breathing is the main component in meditation, so it only seemed fitting we begin with a calm state of mind.
I began experiencing anxiety and panic attacks after my dad passed away following his battle with cancer, a little over a year ago. I didn’t know where to turn to after my first panic attack. So naturally, I went on the internet and found the most effective and natural way to cope was with a guided meditation. Over a year and several sessions later, I can whole-heartedly say meditation has played a huge part in my overall wellbeing.
Having a meditation app readily available on my phone is a lifesaver and it’s easier than ever to spend just a few minutes a day on your mental health. Meditation is for anyone looking to help reduce stress, improve sleep and promote focus. To help you on your journey, we compiled a list of the best-guided meditation apps, so you can upgrade your daily routine.
The Best Guided Meditation Apps
My favorite thing about this app is when you open it, the words “take a deep breath” appear on the screen followed by soothing water sounds. When setting up an account, you’re asked what your top goals are. Do you want to practice gratitude? Decrease stress levels? Learn to meditate? Feel happier? There’s a 7-day free trial that gives users access to guided meditation, sleep stories, Calm body, Calm music, and Calm masterclasses. Once the free trial ends, the cost of the app increases to $59.99 a year.
This was the first app I downloaded when I began my meditation practice. Their mini-meditations are great for people who are on the go, as they are only 2-3 minutes long. They’re perfect for lunch breaks or before heading to an event. Headspace sends you little reminders throughout the day to encourage mindfulness. They also offer “SOS” sessions when you’re feeling especially stressed out. You can also track your meditation progress over time and iPhone users can sync the data into Apple Health. There’s a free trial for first-time users. But once it ends, the cost is $12.99 a month or $94.99 a year for the premium experience.
I’ve found Insight Timer to be the most useful in my meditation practice over the years. It was the second app I downloaded, and it’s been the one I’ve used continuously. Perhaps it’s because I can get more out of it without having to pay for a membership. Insight Timer offers guided meditation ranging from 3 to 30 minutes. This is in addition to self-guided meditations, sleep stories, sounds and music to calm the mind. It’s great for beginners and advanced practitioners. And I would recommend to anyone interested in meditation as full access is free.
Dan Harris’ New York Times bestselling book 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works—A True Story was first introduced to me by my therapist. While I’m still finishing the book on Audible, I was intrigued when I learned about its corresponding app. The book begins with how Harris, a news anchor, found meditation after experiencing an on-air panic attack. It also contains advice on how skeptic listeners can successfully use meditation in their daily lives. The app’s “mindfulness for fidgety skeptics” approach seems fitting for those who are interested in practicing meditation, but not fully convinced as to why they should just yet. The app offers a 7-day free trial, a personalized questionnaire, guided meditations, videos, courses and personal coaching.
This app might just be one that I pay for going forward. I love the idea of making meditation a simple habit. And in just 5 minutes a day, I’m able to do so with this app. Simple Habit claims to be the preferred guided meditation app for busy people. Why? The app offers short daily sessions to improve your life through stress relief and improved focus. There are guided meditations for specific needs, along with an on-the-go feature designed to bring immediate relief when feeling stressed. You can track your progress with their Mindful Minutes feature and iPhone users can integrate the data into Apple Health. Following the 7-day free trial, you’ll be prompted to purchase the $11.99 monthly plan. But no worries if you need a more cost-effective option. They also offer a free basic version of the platform.
My advice to you is to pick whatever app you feel comfortable with and will stick with. We’ve all pursued the latest health trend for a few days and given up. But this is one trend that has personally helped to improve my mental health. And I encourage everyone to try it out for themselves at least once. You might even end up making it a daily practice.