Headspace vs Calm: Which meditation app is best?

Do you want to get into meditation but don’t know where to begin? When we’re feeling depressed or anxious even the most basic decisions can feel like Sophie’s choice.

I’ve made an easy guide for you with all the information you need to choose the right meditation app.

Headspace and Calm are rated in the Top 20 ‘Health and Fitness’ apps on Apple, with both receiving an ‘Editor’s Choice’ badge. So, this information doesn’t narrow down our decision making, but fear-not I will break this down for you.

I gave myself the challenge of using each app for one month, then after these two months I would decide which one to continue using.

But first, before I give my opinion, what do the reviewers say about each app?

Headspace has a 4.8/ 5 rating, at the time of writing, with 241,966 people stopping by to award these clever meditation moguls stars.

One reviewer claimed it changed their life and said: “This app has helped my manage and overcome my depression and anxiety drastically.”

Whilst another reviewer said: “Headspace is the only app I’ve recommended to someone else.”

However, this shouldn’t make the creators of Calm panic because they received a respectable 4.7/5 stars from, at the time of writing, 177,477 people.

If I had to personify Headspace I would say it is like a caring older friend you met in group therapy, or an uncle with a counselling degree.

An enthusiastic meditator said: “Hands down the best app ever made. I don’t know what I would do with out this app.”

Additionally, a self professed ‘anxious mom’ stated that this had been “the biggest help in living in a more peaceful home.”

So it’s easy to see that both are popular choices, with arguably more favouring Headspace to Calm, but what was my verdict?

Headspace

Headspace is an app which will take you on a journey of self-discovery. Perhaps this is the first time you have tried meditation and you need a helping hand to get you on the tracks to what the buddhists would call enlightenment, I would say a warm glow.

If I had to personify Headspace I would say it is like a caring older friend you met in group therapy, or an uncle with a counselling degree.

What I liked the most about Headspace was it’s animations, I felt like they were fantastic at helping you visualise what happens in your brain.

I also liked that the voices are British, it’s very rare to find, and although I don’t mind an American accent, I feel like there are very few British equivalents, and sometimes you can get sucked in to imagining a Californian hippy, which takes away from the experience.

Speaking of voices you can choose whether you listen to a male or female voice, this is a nice touch.

You can also decide how long you want to meditate for; 3, 5 or 10 minutes. I often opted for 10 minutes in the morning. This option gives you the freedom to decide.

What I didn’t like so much about Headspace was that there wasn’t any background soundscapes. When the guide pauses between talking, you are sat in silence. I personally prefer music.

Additionally, I thought the body scanning technique used in the ‘Basics’ and ‘Restlessness’ course as well as many of the others, isn’t very in depth and doesn’t help you visualise your body very clearly.

Pros: Plentiful courses to choose from, great animations and good value for money.

Cons: No background music, parts weren’t very in depth, could potentially get boring.

Additional features: A ‘move’ section to help you exercise, a ‘sleep’ section to help you rest and a ‘focus’ section which includes music playlists from musicians such as John Legend.

Price: Monthly subscription is £9.99, or if want to dive right in and commit to an annual subscription this will cost you £49.99.

Freebies: 1 week free trial for a monthly subscription, or a 2 week free trial for an annual subscription. If you don’t want to purchase a subscription you will still get access to the ‘basic’ exercises.

As an added bonus these meditation magicians are offering free access to Headspace Plus for anyone who is unemployed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Calm

I was the most excited about using the Calm app. Having read rave reviews and seeing celebrities being announced to read the sleep stories I was looking forward to drifting off with Harry Styles in my ears.

The first thing I loved about the app was the aesthetics, The sleepy blue colours and mountain background instantly instil the feeling of calm into you.

Another attractive quality is how user friendly the app is, everything is easy to find and packaged nicely. This is all before I’ve even got onto the content.

I’ve struggled to find something I didn’t like

Firstly, I did the ‘7 Days of Calm’ initially and I loved it. I felt like it encouraged a really deep meditation and the body scans were more in depth than Headspace’s.

I then did the ’21 Days of Calm’ and this helped me further develop the techniques I had learnt in the 7 day course.

I also listened to the sleep stories, which set me of to snooze every single time (claps for the Calm Qweens). I listened to Matthew Mcconaughey’s dreamy story, Leona Lewis, Steven Fry, David Walliams and Harry Styles. I absolutely love these, they have a rostrum of celebrities which they keep adding to.

A feature which I think cements the app as one of the best is the music section which has loads of playlists from the likes of Ellie Goulding, Sam Smith, 5 Seconds of Summer and even Disney!

There is just so much to explore on this app and I felt like i did this more than I did on Headspace because of how beautifully designed Calm is.

I’ve struggled to find something I didn’t like, but I would say that I’d like the option to choose how long I meditate for. Most of Calm’s meditations are between 10-15 minutes long.

Also, I didn’t realise there was an option to get a monthly subscription so I ended up signing up for one year.

Pros: Aesthetically pleasing, deep meditations and amazing celebrity sleep stories.

Cons: No time limit of the meditations, they don’t make it easy to sign up for 1 month.

Additional features: A mood check-in feature where you rate your mood with emojis, Calm Kids, Calm Body, Breathing Exercises, Calm Masterclasses and motivational talks called ‘The Spark’.

Price: Monthly subscription of £7.99. Yearly subscription of £29.99.

Freebies: 1 week free trial.

Overall, I would rate Headspace a 4.8/5 and I would give a Calm a 5/5. I absolutely love Calm and I think this app offers more and has a good celebrity backing.

Calm meditations have background music; whereas Headspace is more simplistic. They both let you choose male and female voices but you can only choose a duration on Headspace.

There’s no right or wrong option and everyone’s preferences are different. Personally I prefer Calm, but maybe you’d prefer to get some Headspace. Whatever you choose, you are making the first steps on your meditation journey that will improve your life.

Disclaimer: I have not been paid to write this post.

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