10 meditation apps to reduce anxiety and help you sleep

“Suffering is due to our disconnection with the inner soul. Meditation is establishing that connection” ~ Amit Ray

Sometimes we use the words meditation and mindfulness interchangeably. However, they are actually two different concepts. Both have some great health benefits so today I wanted to give you a quick run down on what meditation and mindfulness are AND in particular, arm you with a list of the latest meditation apps to reduce anxiety!

Mindfulness is in essence living in the present moment in a particular, purposeful way. Mindfulness also incorporates a sense of curiosity and non-judgemental awareness.

There are two different types of mindfulness:

  1. Formal mindfulness – This is something we practice with intention and usually for specified amount of time. Examples include meditation, yoga and tai chi.
  2. Informal mindfulness – These are everyday things we do that allow us to bring a sense of presence to how we do them. Some examples are practising mindful eating, mindfully moving our body and staying in the moment when we wash our car, brush our teeth or drink our tea.

What is meditation?

As mentioned above, meditation is a formal type of mindfulness. It’s a skill that we practice (usually sitting down) that brings awareness and compassion. Although the roots of meditation have come from religion, you don’t necessarily have to follow a religion such as buddhism to meditate.   The awareness that comes from meditation helps us understand what we are thinking and really make sense of it. The compassion part of meditation helps us bring an intention of loving kindness to both ourselves and others.

There are a number of ways we can meditate. We can undertake meditation that is guided by the voice of someone else or we can go it solo with periods of silence, music or sounds.  There can also be a focus on the breath, parts of our body (often called a body scan), use of visualisations or chanting of mantras.

Benefits of meditation

A lot of the research about mindfulness is based on studies involving meditation. This is likely because it is fairly easy to control in a scientific setting.

Meditation has been shown to reduce the size/density of the amygdala (the stress centre) and increase the density of the front brain. The front brain (pre-frontal cortex)  helps us to have empathy and compassion, learn, remember and basically make better decisions for our mental and physical health. The more regularly we meditate, the weaker the link between the stress-ey amygdala gets with the rest of the brain – BONUS!

What this means for our health is that regular meditation has been associated with a reduction in anxiety, depression, pain and improvements in sleep, ability to focus, pay attention, learn and work.

Woo hoo!

A special note, meditation is not for everyone. If you are reading this and you have a history of trauma, you should consult a trauma-informed therapist to assist you to gain the benefits of mediation and mindfulness without causing you harm.

OK. As many folks aren’t heading off to their local monastery to meditate, meditation apps can be the alternative and are a great (and effective) way to practice mindfulness. That is, you can get some real health benefits.

Here are 10 meditation apps to reduce anxiety and help you sleep:

  1. Calm
  2. Headspace
  3. The Mindfulness App
  4. Smiling Mind
  5. Insight Timer
  6. 10% Happier
  7. Simple Habit
  8. Happify
  9. Stop, Breathe and Think
  10. Buddhify

We’d love to hear how you’re going with your mindfulness practice. Make sure to connect with us over on instagram to stay in touch!

Mindfulness resources – The top 15 mindful tools you can start using today

A lot of people ask me about my favourite mindfulness resources

Meditation and mindfulness have become pretty mainstream and are no longer the domain of the ultra-enlightened. So it makes sense many folks are looking for easy to use mindfulness resources.

I’d love to share my favourite straightforward (and) super useful mindful tools you can use in your life. (today).

Before we get to the mindfulness resources let’s talk a little bit more about mindfulness in general.

 

What is mindfulness?

Being “mindful” means you are living moment to moment, paying close attention to your thoughts and everything around you, without judgment.

 

Why does mindfulness work?

When looking at happy-fying our relationships with food, establishing a regular formal mindfulness practice (like meditation) can work really well.

Mindfulness aids our attention, focus and can support us in reducing stress, anxiety & depression. Importantly, one of the keys to “getting the best” out of mindfulness lies in making it a regular part of (every) day.

It’s also a good idea to find a mindfulness practice that you actually enjoy and fits with your life. It could be meditation, yoga, tai-chi and if not, perhaps something a bit less formal like mindful walking.

 

So here we go,

My top 15 mindfulness resources

I’ve divided the list into books & ph apps. Just click on each title to read more.

Books/reading on mindfulness

  1. The Headspace Guide to Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe (New York: St Martin’s Press. 2016)
  2. Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn (Boulder: Sounds True Inc 2016)
  3. The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris (Boston: Trumpeter Books 2008)
  4. Real Happiness The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg (New York: Workman Publishing Co Inc 2010)
  5. The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh (London: Rider & Co 2008)
  6. Radical Acceptance. Embracing your life with the heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach (New York: Random House 2007)

Meditation ph apps

  1. Calm
  2. Headspace
  3. The Mindfulness App
  4. Smiling Mind
  5. Welzen
  6. Insight Timer
  7. 10% Happier
  8. Simple Habit
  9. Happify

Keen to learn more?

Maybe you might like to try our FREE 5-day mindful eating challenge?  It’s a fab way to include informal mindfulness into your day.

free mindful eating challenge

How I discovered mindful eating

“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” ~ Zen proverb

I discovered mindful eating by chance. It’s funny. It’s actually the most effective tool in my “nutritionist tool belt”. Yet, I didn’t study it in either of my university degrees. It’s also probably the most simplest nutrition strategy ever.

Welcome to the SOL food blog. In case you don’t know my story, I “discovered” mindful eating 10 years after I started working in nutrition. I originally trained as a Dietitian and Nutritionist in Australia. I worked in a ton of different areas in nutrition. From hospitals to research to public health projects both in Australia and the UK. Over the years I saw A LOT of people who wanted help with losing weight. I “helped” hundreds of people (many women) lose weight and “get healthy”.

 

How I discovered mindful eating

As I went along my way in the nutrition field, one thing kept bothering me. I actually hated. No. Dreaded weighing people. From a personal viewpoint, I felt losing weight was not important. I felt like it didn’t really matter and that if we focused on health, we would be the “right weight for us”.

So slightly weird. I was a Dietitian that hated weighing people! After a number of years of working I actually stopped weighing clients. I gravitated more and more towards the psychology of eating and what is now called the Non-Diet Approach. It turns out it was much a much kinder, gentler approach to helping people change the way they eat. Surprise. Surprise. No scales or diets were required!

It was through my search for novel, non-diet strategies for my clients, I came across this fun little thing called mindful eating. Mindful eating had become a super-useful strategy for anyone struggling with over-eating, binge eating or an unhappy relationship with food. My 3 biggest influences were Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh for all things mindfulness, and Evelyn Tribole and Jan Chozen Bays for their intuitive and mindful eating expertise. From there I embarked on formal training in meditation & mindful eating and in fact, I’m now a proud Volunteer Ambassador* for The Mindfulness App!

 

How mindful eating works

Mindful eating is an informal way of practising mindfulness. It’s as simple as other everyday activities like brushing our teeth, drinking tea or going for a walk. It allows us to really hone in on the eating process.

Mindful eating works best alongside cultivating a formal mindfulness practice like meditation and yoga. The formal mindfulness practice allows us to manage all those crazy little life happenings that keep us feeling a little anxious or a bit reactive. Therefore we can come to meal times with a calm mindset.

Being calm when we eat is the first step of mindful eating. If we are calm, we are more likely to notice our hunger, fullness and how we satisfied with feel from eating. It also helps us to notice our emotional and environmental triggers to eating and we can start to change things (if we need or want to).

 

Want to try mindful eating for yourself?

We have a fun, free 5 day mindful eating challenge. To access just head here.

A bit hesitant? Start here with a short meditation. Becoming less reactive to our everyday stress is an awesome way to start…

“Remember, it’s not often about the food”