Because I’m ’appy: Mindfulness apps for better health

It may seem like the buzzword of the century, but there is a host of benefits to mindfulness.

From getting a better night’s sleep and increasing focus during the day to busting stress and decreasing anxiety levels, mindfulness and guided meditation apps are the perfect antidote for our busy, phone-obsessed lives.

In fact, a recent New Zealand study found that people who used mindfulness apps for just 10 minutes a day over 10 days reported an improvement in mental health.

Here’s our guide to the best apps for some mental R&R:

Smiling Mind: For the entire family

Set up by a not-for-profit in Australia intent on helping children and young people, Smiling Mind’s motto is to “make mindfulness accessible to all”.

The pared-back design gives it a relaxed feel, before diving into the practicality of things.

The app offers programs for users from as young as 12 years old to adults.

Its adult-friendly programs include segments you can tackle while performing routine activities such as commuting or eating. Users go through the ins and outs of a normal day with meditations voiced over soothing music.

Each audio lesson is one to 43 minutes long and is a step-by-step guide to meditation, using calming breathing exercises and visualisations.

Its free price tag is also a winner.

Download on iOS and Android.

Headspace: For those on a (mental) health kick

Founded by former Tibetan Buddhist monk-turned-meditation teacher Andy Puddicombe, Headspace brands itself as “a gym membership for the mind”.

Meditation newbies can start out with a free introductory 10-day mindfulness meditation program before moving on to a paid subscription if they feel like kicking things up a notch.

This all-around app offers a sophisticated interface, a selection of special series meditations in several areas such as health, relationships and performance, and a host of one-off, miniature guided meditations for a quick and calming mindfulness fix in the middle of a hectic day.

It may not be free but the rewards are worth the dollars spent.

Download on iOS and Android.

Aura: For the time-poor

Touted as a “relaxation app” targeted to combat stress and anxiety, the standout point of Aura is that users get a new three-minute meditation program every day.

Founder Daniel Lee created this app with the aim of personalising meditation sessions to suit a user’s mood at any given time of the day.

Each session lasts from three to 10 minutes, depending on the user’s level of experience and comfort, making it an appealing option for both newbies to the mindfulness game and pro-practitioners.

With tracking insights, reminders and gratitude reflections, Aura is a great option if you want a shot of insightful meditation as you go about your daily routines.

Download on iOS and Android.

Insight Timer: For the community-minded

Rated as the top free meditation app, Insight Timer offers a “meditation community” for those wanting to feel like they’re part of a larger movement.

A world map shows the number of meditation practitioners across the globe along with their location at any given time.

There’s also the option to invite friends and take part in mindfulness forum discussions, lending a social network feel to the app.

With more than 12,150 free, guided meditations, music tracks, talks and courses on breathing and managing anxiety, there’s mindfulness content for every taste and style.

If the choices become overwhelming, it’s best to breathe in and breathe out.

Download on iOS and Android.

Feeling stressed? Learn how to create your own stress reduction toolkit or nurture your mind – and body – at these fab Aussie health retreats.

Written by Manveen Maan.