Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Headspace mindfulness meditation app is now free to all unemployed persons

Breathe in, breathe out. If you're not working, this app is free.

cc8d3388-a2bf-4af1-935a-1a427f54389c.jpg

Headspace is now free to all unemployed persons

ZDNet

One of the most popular apps for guided meditation is Headspace. It's an excellent subscription service that has conducted programs to help you manage stress, anxiety, depression, and other life issues. And now, if you are unemployed, a one-year subscription is free. It's normally $69 a year.

ebook

Coronavirus and its impact on the enterprise

This TechRepublic Premium ebook compiles the latest on cancelled conferences, cybersecurity attacks, remote work tips, and the impact this pandemic is having on the tech industry.

Read More

Even during times when I have not been seeking employment, I have found mindfulness meditation to be a useful tool when dealing with my anxiety, stress, and depression.

Meditation can help mitigate many of the effects of anxiety by training the brain to function in the present moment -- in other words, to help you live in the "now" rather than dwell on anticipatory racing thoughts that fuel both anxiety and depression.

The practice of mindfulness meditation originates in the religions of eastern cultures. Still, there is scientific proof that it has many health benefits even when used as a purely secular tool.

At a fundamental level, mindfulness meditation is centered around fixating on the act of breathing so that one becomes aware of the anxious thoughts and feelings that are distracting and thus form a better relationship with them.

It sounds simple, but it requires continuous discipline and ongoing practice for it to be effective. Meditation is a brain hack that changes the mapping of your neural pathways over time, so the more you do it, the better you get at it, and the longer its therapeutic effects will last.

While you can practice it without any outside help, it is suitable for novices and even experienced meditators to have guidance during the exercise. And there are apps you can download to your mobile device that assist you in the form of recordings to coach and reinforce the technique.

Headspace uses a male British voice (Andy Puddicombe) for guided recordings. It also uses contributors of different sexes and voice personalities that provide supplementary content.

I recommend that a new user goes through the first 10 sessions while it guides you through a series of "Take 10" 10-minute meditations. It then costs $69.99 a year. It has 30-day "packs" on different life topics, where you can specify the duration of the daily guidance (10/15/20/30 minute sessions). And it has a new weekly guided meditation led by Andy.

In 2019, Headspace underwent a major UX redesign. It introduced Sleepcasts (contributor-led, 45-minute guided meditations with mental visualizations of different environments to help you fall asleep) and continuous loops of environmental music, such as rain and ocean sounds.

Headspace is relatively spartan in its actual UI. It uses illustrative animations and instructional videos that preface content, managed by its production team. Headspace has Alexa integration, too, should you choose to use some of the content directly from your smart speaker, such as the Sleepcasts.