Apps: Headspace

Headspace may be a top-rated mental health app, but it didn’t work for our reviewer
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It’s one of the top-rated apps for meditation and mindfulness on the app store, so I had to review Headspace as part of my series of mental health app tests for Spooniehacker.

What is Headspace?

“The Headspace meditation app can help you focus, breathe, stay calm, perform at your best and get a better night’s rest through the life-changing skills of relaxation, meditation and mindfulness. In just a few minutes a day, you’ll learn how to train your mind and body for a healthier, happier, stress-free life. Need a bit of stress relief during a rough day or guidance on how to sleep well at night? Headspace can help then too.

“Headspace teaches you how to breathe, meditate and live mindfully. It’s even been proven to improve focus. There are exercises on everything from managing anxiety and stress relief to breathing, happiness, calm and focus. Plus, they have specially-designed sleep meditations to guide you to a place of rest.”

What did other reviewers say about Headspace?

Here’s my confusion: the reviews on the App Store lean heavily towards the positive and the average rating is 4.5/5. However, I didn’t get on with Headspace at all.

I did find some reviews that discussed some of the issues I had with Headspace (see below), but not as many as I would have expected. Meanwhile the positive reviews all seemed quite vague, e.g. “I really recommend this app”, and “This app really helped me.”

Professional reviewers said:

“Some meditation purists may see the mobilification of this practice sacrilege, but Headspace makes this relaxation and mindfulness technique accessible for regular people who probably need it the most.” (Ars Technica).

“Headspace offers a sleek and well-presented platform for basic meditation. Whether you’re an experienced meditator or a complete novice, the app can give you clear benefits and helps you keep up with your daily meditation practice.” (Arimo Travels )

“As a long-time meditator, the foundational program was a useful exercise but overly repetitive at times. I found myself missing my own style of practice during Headspace sessions (e.g., mantra repetition rather than counting), however, it accomplished the goal of having me sit for at least 10 minutes per day.”  (Nancy A. Haug, Ph.D., Prof. of Clinical Psychology, PGSP-Stanford.)

How I tested Headspace

I tried it out for 10 days (the free trial period), and it was a real struggle. I did the basic 10 minute meditation every morning when I woke up for the trial period, or I did my best to.

What worked for me?

The voice was quite soothing, and you could set it to remind you each day to have your mindfulness time.

What didn’t work?

Everything! Although, the daily meditations seem like a good idea, I have to admit I would frequently set it running, then end up tuning it out. This was due to the fact that it was just the same thing every day. The basic daily program is pretty much the same content with a few words altered each day.

Would I recommend Headspace to other spoonies?

I would absolutely NOT recommend this app. I’m sure there are people who will enjoy the repetition of this app but for me it was just boring. Maybe the paid version is a hundred times better, but the free version gave me no reason to consider an upgrade. This is in contrast to Calm, which I enjoyed the free version of so much I pushed for an upgrade and would strongly consider buying if I had the budget.

Headspace is available from Apple and Google Play. It is free to download, and use but the free use is limited. The cost of an upgrade is £9.99 per month or £71.88 per year or £299.99 for a lifetime membership.

We did not receive goods, services or payment in exchange for this review.