Confused by the deluge of mindfulness apps currently on the market?

The number of mindfulness apps on the market has increased considerably over the past few years resulting in a plethora of choice. There’s a veritable cornucopia of choice when it comes to new apps. But when your mindfulness app cup runneth over, how do you know which ones to choose and which ones to avoid? Maybe you’re asking yourself if they could even do more harm than good (and we think that’s a sensible question). Here’s our handy tool that will help you to make an informed choice.

Mindfulness App 5 Stage Tool

At least part of your choice will come down to personal preference. What works for one personal may not work for another so we’ve put together a four stage tool to help you make a decision.

Stage 1: Background Information Gather as much information as you can about the app.

  • Who developed it?
  • What experience do they have of mindfulness or meditation?
  • Do they practice mindfulness themselves?
  • What claims are they making about the app?

Stage 2: Data/Privacy Sometimes mindfulness apps will offer the option to input data. That could mean anything from asking questions ranging from your mood each day, or time spent meditating, to your own personal goals. Whilst this is great for keeping track of your progress, wellbeing, mindfulness habits and mental health, that’s a lot of very personal information you’ll want to make sure is in safe hands. If the app asks you to enter personal information, how will the risk that comes with storing personal data be managed? Ask the following questions or take a look at there privacy policy;

  • Will you be required to enter personal information?
  • Does the app have a privacy policy? If the answer is no, consider this a red flag, you may want to consider another app.
  • What kind of data does it collect?
  • Are you able to easily delete your personal data?
  • Is it possible that you will be identified by your information or is inputed data anonymised?
  • Does it share data with other organisations?
  • Will the data be kept on the device or n the cloud?
  • What security measures does the app have in place and how regularly are these updated?

Stage 3. Evidence Base Apps can make all kinds of claims in terms of their benefits, but it’s important to scratch beneath the surface and find out if they really are fit for purpose. Some of those claims are lacking in evidence and somewhat spurious. The provenance of an app is crucial. What you’re looking for is an app with pedigree. Ask;

  • What does the app claim are the benefits associated with it’s use? Is there peer reviewed research to support this?
  • Has the content undergone clinical studies? Remember much of the evidence base for mindfulness comes from clinical research around the 8 week MBSR or MBCT programmes. A study of 20 minutes does not a decent mindfulness app make.
  • If there are no studies, lets go with face validity instead. Take a look at the content, at the very least are you able to say that it isn’t harmful.
  • What kind of feedback does it have from users? Do the reviews seem to be supporting their claims? If there are a number of negative reviews, think about whether it’s suitable for you.
  • Is the content good value?

Stage 4: How Easy Is It To Navigate? We’re back to personal choice again with this one. But if you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to stage 1, 2 and 3 it may come down to ease of use. Consider the following when making the final decision;

  • Is it easy to access?
  • How easy is it to navigate different sections?
  • Will you need internet connectivity (and will you have it)
  • If you’re using it long term is there a cost involved after a trial period?
  • What platform does the app work on?
  • Is it accessible for users with visual or auditory impairments?
  • Does the app offer support if there are technical issues?

Stage 5 : Is An App Right For You? The thing about mindfulness is that there is no goal. You’re not trying to achieve anything. You’re just observing what happens as it happens. There is even a debate that apps may be somewhat ‘anti’ mindful, running counter to what mindfulness really is. An app might not be right for you at this moment in time if you can answer ‘Yes’ to the following questions;

  • You really feel that you need professional help for mental health issues and an app probably won’t meet your real needs.
  • If you’re currently seeing a counsellor, therapist or clinical psychologist, talk to them about whether an app is appropriate for you. Show them this checklist if they’re new to tech or mindfulness apps.
  • If you plague yourself with perfectionism and wonder if an app will feed into that feeling that you are competing with yourself or others to excel. If an app becomes something else that you need to do, leaving you feeling guilty when you don’t it will compound those feelings.
  • You feel that you would benefit from the support of a regular mindfulness course within a group. When you attend a mindfulness course you’ll have the support of an experienced teacher who will be able to answer questions and support you. For many people this is something that an app won’t provide (check out our blog on which course/teacher is best for you to find out more).

Gill Crossland-Thackray is a Business Psychologist, Visiting Professor, and PhD Candidate. She is Co-Director of Positive Change Guru with her twin, Viv Thackray-Dutton and Director Of Koru Development. She is a member of British Psychological Association, British Neuroscience Association, Association of Business Psychologists, Chartered Institute of Professional Development and a Continuing Professional Development accredited trainer. She writes for a number of publications including The Guardian, Thrive Global, Ultra Fit & HR Zone and is currently working on her first novel. She divides her time between London and the Lake District. She can be contacted at [email protected]

Positive Change Guru deliver bespoke mindfulness courses and mindful leadership training. We offer consultancy, courses, conference key note, bespoke in house courses, espresso bitesize sessions. We’d love to hear from you!

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