Feeling Calm. Mindfulness & Meditation Apps – review

A 2015 review of mindfulness-based apps found 560 apps available on Apple products (Mani et al.,2015). That number would increase substantially if Android apps and those released since 2015 were included. It is obvious that mindfulness and meditation (guided or independent) are trending in a big way.

Apps 1

Evidence from the field of mindfulness suggests that mindfulness interventions can improve physical and mental health outcomes (Khoury et al., 2013). Mindfulness based approaches are used in clinical practice, schools, workplaces, prisons and the military (Creswell, 2017). Mindfulness interventions used in research studies and interventions often have mindfulness meditation practice or mindfulness components, but some only have informal mindfulness practice.  It is important to be aware that many mindfulness apps are using this evidence base to suggest that their app is “based on scientific research”. However, the research does not often use app technology as the intervention, and therefore the evidence base does not necessarily support the specific app. Some apps (e.g. ‘Craving to Quit’ and a mindful eating app called “Eat Right: Now!”) were put through clinical trials and studies before they were brought to market. Ideally, all apps claiming to benefit people’s well-being would be put through rigorous, scientific trials before being released to the general population. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case with the apps available. Therefore, it is important to check out the claims of the app before signing up to any subscriptions.

Apps 2

Teaching mindfulness and meditation strategies is not a magic wand. People usually feel stress and anxiety as a result of difficult situations in their environment. It is easy to think ‘I’m not coping well’ or ‘I’m not good at managing stress’ and try to find a solution that involves the individual learning ‘skills’ e.g. calming strategies, anger management etc. However, it is important to be careful not to ‘blame’ the individual for their emotional and psychological responses as a ‘lack of skills’. There are often environmental and social factors that could be causing significant stress, anxiety, worry or other mental health difficulties. The environment and social situations of individuals must also be taken into account and changes made where necessary to reduce the factors that are causing the stress, anxiety etc. in the first place.

If practicing mindfulness is your goal; here’s some helpful guidelines to aid you in finding the right mindfulness app for you (as suggested by Tlalka, 2016) :App 4

  • Be clear about why you want the app. Is it to help with anxiety? Is it to help with stress? Is it to help with sleep? Think about how the app will help.
  • Be aware that fancy music doesn’t always help. They might induce a state of calm, but they are not helpful if the goal is to observe and experience the present moment.
  • Look at the research. Any apps making claims about benefits to well-being should have an evidence base of studies that use the app as an intervention.
  • Check out the reviews from real people who have used the app. What are they saying?

It also may be helpful to take a look at the recent review of 23 mindfulness based apps. This review used the Mobile Application Rating Scale (MARS) to analyse the apps (Mani, 2016). Unfortunately some popular apps (e.g. Calm) were not including, possibly because they were too new at the time of the study. This study found that the ‘Headspace’ app had the highest average score, followed by Smiling Mind, iMindfulness and Mindfulness Daily.

Find HEADSPACE app on android –>here<—

Find HEADSPACE app on apple –>here<—

Find CALM app on android –>here<—

Find CALM app on apple –>here<—

Find SMILING MIND on android –>here<—

Find SMILING MIND on Apple –>here<—

Find MINDFULNESS DAILY on apple –>here<— (only available on apple products)

Find iMindfulness on Apple –>here<— (only available on apple products).


Creswell, J. D. (2017). Mindfulness Interventions. Annual Review of Psychology, 68(18), 1-18.26.

Khoury, B., Lecomte, T., Fortin, G., Masse, M., Therien, P., Bouchard, V., Chapleau, M., Paquin, K., & Hofmann, S. G. (2013). Mindfulness-based therapy: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(6), 763-771. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2013.05.005

3Mani, M., Kavanagh, D. J., Hides, L., Stoyanov, S. R. (2015). Review and evaluation of mindfulness-based iPhone Apps. JMIR MHealth and UHealth, 3(3), e82. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.4328

Talalka, S., https://www.mindful.org/trouble-mindfulness-apps/ ) 2016

Improving Work-Life Balance

Struggle to keep your unfinished work tasks out of mind during your away from work time? It’s time to try out a technique that might help you to defeat that demon, conquer your work tasks and be more likely to enjoy your down-time away from work.

In research published by the Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology, employees who had uncompleted work goals were asked to describe those goals and then clearly plan where, when and how they would tackle each one. By noting down the specific context for the action, participants appeared more able to put uncompleted tasks out of mind during home hours, and helped participants to let go of work in general.

Check out more about this study in the BPS Digest

National Survey – Pupil wellbeing in UK Schools

Teachers and adults working in schools – have your voice heard and help bring mental health to the forefront of the conversation by completing this short survey available from hub4leaders.co.uk

A report from the Children’s Commissioner in July 2017 found that over 800,000 children in England have a mental health problem, while a separate review showed that over a quarter of children referred to mental health services in 2015 received no help – even those who had attempted suicide.

That is why hub4leaders.co.uk have partnered with The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools at Leeds Beckett University to conduct a national survey into mental health provisions for pupils in the UK.

*Survey takes approx. 1 minute. No personal details are requested

Access the survey HERE

BPS Division of Educational and Child Psychology – 2018 Annual Conference

This year’s DECP Annual Conference will be held on the 11th and 12th of January (trainee conference on the 10th) at the Jury’s Inn in Brighton. It will be focussed on Education and Well-Being.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Peter Kinderman – professor of clinical psychology at the University of Liverpool and former president of the British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • Baroness Estelle Morris – Member of the House of Lords and Chair of the Council at Goldsmiths, a trustee of the Poetry Archive.
  • Praveetha Patalay – Lecturer in Popular Mental Health and Child Development at the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool
  • Dr Laura Winter – Lecturer in Education and Counselling Psychology at the University of Manchester, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, HCPC registered practitioner psychologist (counselling).

Find out more and book your place now by clicking here!

How trustworthy are “scientific studies”?

There has been a lot of debate on social media recently about journalists who report a correlational scientific studies as showing causation (particularly with regard to social media/technology and children’s well-being) potentially worsening the panic and worry felt by parents, teachers and others working with children.


Not sure why a correlational study does not provide evidence of causation?

TEDEd is a great place to learn something new and have your thinking challenged. David H. Schwartz will help you to dissect two types of scientific studies and in the process, will illuminate why everyone should always look at scientific claims with a critical eye. These activities are great for psychology students, parents, teachers, and anyone else who might read the newspaper and wonder why people, sometimes blindly, accept the claims made by journalists when they cite a scientific study.

Only got five minutes? Watch the video and share with your friends & family.


Got 15 minutes? Have a go at this QUIZ to think deeper about what the video showed you.

Really interested in this topic? Check out these additional resources

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