Every year, people make resolutions to be more mindful, present, and thoughtful despite the craziness and hectic nature of life. In the startup community, entrepreneurs are trying to fight fatigue, fight burn out, and grow their businesses all the while trying to maintain a work life balance. Mindfulness is a great strategy to achieve those goals, and while many of us may have heard the buzzword, we don’t know how to achieve it. Thankfully, there are great apps and websites that help you to achieve mindfulness and incorporate it into your daily practices.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a practice that has held a place in numerous philosophical and religious circles for millennia, albeit often under different names. At the risk of oversimplifying the practice, being mindful means redirecting your awareness back to what is happening in the present moment.
This act of redirecting one’s attention, thoughts, and actions back towards whatever is happening in the present is conscious and practiced over time. Whenever you feel yourself “zoning out” during a phone call or while another person is talking, or wondering whether you had returned an email or whether it was still sitting in your outbox, mindfulness helps you to redirect your focus back to the situation at hand and to direct your attention towards the present moment.
Psychologically, directing one’s attention towards the conscious experiences that are happening at the present moment can be strengthened and practiced as a skill. Mindfulness often goes hand in hand with meditation, self-awareness, and stress reduction. As a therapeutic technique, mindfulness is used to help combat anxiety, depression, and even addiction.
How can you benefit from mindfulness?
The entrepreneurial lifestyle is often marked by stress and anxiety, making entrepreneurs prone to burn out and overwork. While mindfulness is not a fix all, it has helped people to sleep better, think more clearly, improve wellbeing, and mitigate stress.
Meditation and mindfulness are both positively linked to reduced stress levels, improved productivity, and lessened anxiety. It can help you feel more present in the moment and aware of your surroundings, in ways that you may not experience otherwise. It can also help with goal planning and setting, guiding your thoughts, and improving focus on tasks.
Best Apps to Practice Mindfulness
The irony of making tech-based recommendations to practice mindfulness is not lost on me. Technology often gets a bad, but many times deserved, rap for inhibiting productivity and providing us with millions of opportunities for procrastination and distraction. However, technology can also help us to stay more focused and to practice these techniques. These apps are all designed to help users become more mindful and to instill meditation and mindfulness as daily practices in our busy lives.
Mindfulness Training App
This is a great iOS app for beginners, and does what it claims to, it trains you in mindfulness. The app offers free courses with guided meditation sessions, training videos, and step-by-step guides to beginning the practice of mindfulness.
Available for both iOS and Android, Headspace is one of the most popular meditation and mindfulness apps. Acting like a personal trainer, the app guides you through a daily, ten minute long meditations. It has a free trial period, after which you choose to pay for a subscription that works best for you. While the fact that you will eventually have to pay for the app may turn people off, the free trial period is a great way to see whether the app works for you!
This app, available for iOS, reminds you to be mindful throughout the day. It comes preloaded with quotations related to mindfulness and meditation, and you can add other quotes that you find meaningful. You customize the frequency and types of reminders the app will send you, allowing you to make mindfulness a part of your day to day routine.
An Android answer to Remindfulness, Just Be performs a similar function. The app lets you customize how frequently the app will notify you throughout the day and to add your own mindfulness quotes.
Stop Breathe and Think
This app is offered over iOS, Android, and a web platform. When you enter the app, it asks you to stop and check in with yourself to gauge how you are feeling. Then, you have the opportunity to choose a meditation that fits your mood and the time you have available. This is a great app for anyone who wants to begin practicing mindfulness, but feels overwhelmed by the sheer number of guides and options available.
This mindfulness app, on iOS and Android, lets users make the most of any short periods of time they have available to dedicate to mindfulness. Using micro-meditations that last only three minutes apiece, Aura personalizes the mindfulness practice and lets you keep your own gratitude journal, track your mood throughout the day, and makes meditation practice into a game that rewards you by leveling up as you participate daily.
Buddhify helps you to make mindfulness an everyday part of your life by offering customized meditations that are organized by theme to correspond with whatever is happening in your day. The app, on both iOS and Android, comes with over 80 custom meditations, offering ways to practice mindfulness whether you’re on a work break or you’re having trouble falling asleep.