Working in healthcare whether as a GP, part of the primary care team or in hospitals can be emotionally stressful. There are many ways to manage stress and lately mindfulness is seen as an effective tool to support stress management. But access can be tricky – so let us look to technology to help in the form of Headspace.
Headspace was founded in 2010 by Rich Pierson and Andy Puddicombe (who wrote the Headspace guide to Mindfulness and Medication). The Headspace platform offers unique content varying from guided meditations to animations and videos via the Headspace website and mobile app, teaching users the techniques of mindfulness.
The app is free to download and use with extra features behind a subscription paywall. These extra functions include modules to help deal with stress, difficulties in focusing, sleep issues, chronic pain, fear of flying and more. It also has dedicated sections to help with younger people such as settling the active child at night.
The variable module length is useful with a minimum of 3 minutes meaning anyone can use at some point in the day.
I love the animations which do draw me in, and the interface which is easy to use. The guided meditations work well and its simplicity is a key reason I do recommend this app to patients as well. With often limited timely access to mental health support, I have found this a useful tool for several patients as an adjunct to their treatment. Just simply switch on the app, select your module and time length, audio or headphones on and go.
The app also continues to work if you have to multi-task with your device. I accept this may defeat the object of guided mindfulness- but a useful feature to know about.
Additionally, the app is resource packed including the obstacle section in the settings which are short free modules which offer advice on overcoming obstacles when trying to use the app such as worry, posture, stiffness, pain etc.
As mentioned the extra modules come at a cost. Last year Headspace was offered as part of the BMA membership at a reduced rate (as mentioned in a previous eGPlearning Podblast episode).
Currently, the app is on offer for £44 for a year compared to £9.99 a month or £72 a year if paid annually.
Another option is to sign up at a reduced rate via Anxiety UK as part of their membership.
I do like the interface and it is simple to use, however, I would like to change the voice if possible to customise it more, also I can see how social sharing of goals can be a valuable asset, much how many running apps use this method as a motivator. However, I can also appreciate this is not a feature all users would want given how physical health and mental health are viewed.
Feel free to given Headspace a try either for yourself or for patients.
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(ps. I receive no benefit from eGPlearners signing up to Headspace, however, some affiliate links to other resources on this page).