Practicing mindfulness and meditation may provide numerous benefits, such as an improved ability to cope with stress, physical discomfort, and anxiety. However, integrating these practices into daily life can seem challenging, especially without guidance. This is where Headspace steps in — a dedicated app that promises to guide you through the fundamentals of mindfulness and meditation.
To assist your decision on Headspace's value, we analyzed its features, explored the scientific basis behind them, and examined users' testimonials. Moreover, we compared Headspace with similar applications at the end of the review.
What is Headspace?
Headspace is a guided meditation and mindfulness platform that aims to create scientifically inspired tools to help its users' mental health.
About Headspace Health
The mission of Headspace Health, as stated on its website, is to enhance global health and happiness.
What makes Headspace Health special in the mental wellness application market is its scientific approach to mental health. When creating materials for the app, the Headspace team applies scientific knowledge about mental health and how it may be supported by using mindfulness and meditation techniques.
In addition, Headspace Health is constantly expanding their content to remain relevant and engaging, while also fostering various partnerships such as collaboration with Netflix, John Legend, and Star Wars.
What is the Headspace app?
Headspace is an easy-to-use application containing various video and audio materials on meditation, mindfulness, and mental health in general.
Headspace's ever-growing content is made of guided meditations, sleepcasts, mindfulness exercises, yoga workouts, music and sounds for sleep and focus, podcasts on mental health, and other similar material.
It offers specialized content (e.g., for students, working professionals, athletes, and parents) and universal materials suitable for individuals of any age and background. For this reason, Headspace is a versatile and all-encompassing platform for anyone seeking to enhance their well-being and mental health.
Headspace app has been downloaded by over 70 million people worldwide, making it one of the most popular mental health apps for both iOS and Android users. The platform can be used on desktop devices via a browser as well.
While Headspace should not be considered a substitute for professional mental health assistance, it may be introduced as a tool for learning mindfulness and meditation techniques.
|Main Headspace features||Guided meditation, sleep aid, mindfulness exercises, quick focus resets|
|Prices||$12.99 for the monthly subscription plan; $69.99 for the annual plan|
|Main pros||Easy-to-use, intuitive design, offers courses to begin learning mindfulness and meditation|
|Main cons||May not be suitable for advanced users|
|Special offer||Try Headspace for free!|
|Best for||Meditation, mindfulness, relaxation|
Headspace app features: an overview
Once you begin using Headspace, you will find suggested activities, including guided meditations and mindfulness exercises, conveniently located on the app's home tab. These activities vary from day to day, every day being different. You have the freedom to either complete these recommended activities or explore the app for more tailored content.
Moreover, there are various programs and courses available to pick. Some of them are crafted for specific life periods, such as grief support, while others teach general techniques that may be suitable for broader audiences (such as the 30-day course called Letting Go of Stress).
Below we will delve deeper into some of the activities within the Headspace application.
Meditation is an ancient practice dating back thousands of years. Though its origins lie in religion, it is embraced by people across the globe, irrespective of their religious beliefs or absence thereof. Due to the diverse nature of this practice, there are plenty of meditation techniques. Guided meditation can serve as a valuable tool for both learning these techniques and as a preferred method for meditation on its own.
Headspace features a wide range of content focusing on guided meditation. You may find general meditation sessions or content tailored to specific events, feelings, or goals that you may have, such as loneliness, pain, or motivation boost. Furthermore, with Headspace you have an opportunity to explore different meditation techniques such as:
- Focused attention. A type of meditation based on focusing on one thing, such as your own breath.
- Compassion. This meditation technique is used to foster compassion and kindness for yourself and others and may involve repeating various phrases or sentences.
- Noting. The noting technique is applied during meditation to avoid distractions. Whenever you start to notice your mind wandering, you note the thoughts you may have without getting too deep into them.
- Body scan. During a body scan, you focus on your body and pay attention to things you may experience: tension, pain, itchiness, and other physical sensations.
- Visualization. During visualization, you are asked to imagine a certain place, image, or sensation. For instance, Headspace uses the imagery of sunshine rays.
As most guided meditations on the Headspace application are relatively brief (ranging from 5 to 10 minutes), they are great for beginners. Moreover, you have the flexibility to select a semi-guided, or unguided meditation and adjust its length up to 2 hours.
In addition to meditation, Headspace has plenty of content for sleep.
One of the selling points of Headspace is their unique Sleepcast feature. Sleepcast is an audio story that may help to relax and drift into sleep. It features a wind-down exercise (such as a body scan), ambient background sounds, and a narrated tour around various landscapes based on the Sleepcast of your choice. As it does not have a beginning or ending, you can tune in and fall asleep without missing anything.
The most popular Sleepcasts include titles such as Cat Marina, Midnight Laundrette, Rainday Antiques, and Midnight Library. After you discover your favorite one, you may listen to it repeatedly, as every time you play it, the story will unfold in a slightly different way. According to Headspace, this was done so that the listeners would not memorize the exact narrative and use it to gauge the passage of time.
Other Headspace content for sleep includes calming music, white noise, sleep-inducing sounds, bedtime stories for kids, immersive soundscapes (3D recordings from different places around the world), helpful guides (short advice videos), and a range of other sleep tools.
Another big part of Headspace is mindfulness related to physical exercises.
Headspace offers a diverse selection of yoga and bodyweight exercises that can be performed either as standalone exercises to stretch or as part of a complete fitness routine.
Additionally, Headspace provides a selection of mindful cardio audio tracks designed to accompany your cardio workouts, whether you're walking, jogging, running, or engaging in any cardio activity of your preference. These audio tracks can serve as a source of motivation and the means to delve into the practice of mindfulness.
Some sports-orientated meditations are also available on the app. These may be valuable for sports enthusiasts looking to set new goals or ways to motivate themselves, relax, and manage their emotions related to physical activities.
Quick focus resets
Headspace features quick focus reset meditations or mindfulness exercises that may be used to take a more productive break during the day. A lot of focus reset meditations are tailored to working people, people working from home, and students.
In the quick focus resets section, you may also find breathing exercises with encouraging animations to help you focus.
Diving deeper: the Headspace experience
In the previous sections, we mostly focused on Headspace features and content you may find within the app. In this section, we will move to user experience and what people are sharing about their journey with Headspace.
User experience and interface
Headspace prides itself on being extremely intuitive and beginner-friendly. Although there is a lot of content within the app, it does not feel overwhelming due to its structure.
There are three tabs in the app: today, explore, and your profile.
In the today section, you will have daily activities that will either be semi-random (for the morning, daytime, and sleep) or tailored to your course or program. Usually, it takes around 10 minutes to complete all of the recommended activities. After finishing these activities, you may get bonus content to explore.
The explore section is used to find more content depending on your goals. This is where you can find courses as well. Once you start a course, your everyday activities will be changed to the topics related to the course you've chosen.
Within your profile, you can find some statistics on how much you are using the app, your streak, and your progress. The progress is evaluated by completing quick stress and anxiety assessment tests, allowing you to track and monitor your mental health journey over time.
User testimonials and success stories
To get a better understanding of whether the Headspace app is worth consideration, we looked through user testimonials on the Apple App Store and Google Play. However, it's essential to take these testimonials with a grain of salt, as online reviews may not always be the most reliable source of information.
At the moment, the rating on the Apple App Store and Google Play for Headspace is 4.8 and 4.6, respectively. The main reason for positive reviews seems to be customer satisfaction with intuitive design and simplicity. Some users claim that Headspace helped them incorporate meditation into their daily lives, fall asleep faster, take more productive breaks, and increase focus.
Most users who were not satisfied with the application mentioned a lack of variety in the content and issues with subscriptions. Moreover, some people reported that it may be difficult to reach customer support. Based on the feedback provided in reviews, it appears that Headspace has limited flexibility when it comes to issuing refunds.
Headspace pros and cons
If you are looking for ways to incorporate mindfulness into your routine, there are plenty of applications that may help you achieve that. Headspace stands as a solid choice. Below, we outlined the biggest pros and cons of the Headspace app.
Headspace pricing: how much does it cost?
Headspace offers a few subscription options. You must beware that some may only be available via their website. Additionally, the prices may differ if you purchase with Google Play or Apple App Store.
Subscription options and pricing
As for now, you can pick from two subscription options: monthly or annual.
The monthly subscription is currently priced at $12.99. If you decide to pick the annual subscription, you will be billed $69.99 for the entire year, making one month cost $5.83.
If you want to try the application without paying, you can take the advantage of the free trial when signing up for the subscription. If you opt for the monthly plan, you will get 7 days to try Headspace for free, whereas the annual comes with a 14-day trial. The trial can be canceled at any time.
Headspace student discount
For students, Headspace offers an 85% discount on their annual plan. To be eligible for the discount, you must be enrolled in a post-secondary program or university and be at least 18 years old. The total sum eligible students have to pay for the entire year of Headspace is $9.99.
As of now, student discount is only available for these countries: the United States, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Portugal, and Spain. Keep in mind that if you get the discount and keep an active subscription, the first year after you graduate, you will be billed for an annual subscription with 40 percent off, with regular pricing applying thereafter.
You can only get the student discount through their website.
Headspace family plan
Another way to save up on Headspace is to opt for their family plan. A year family plan is currently priced at $99.99 and covers 6 accounts in total.
The family plan is only available on the official Headspace website.
How to start using Headspace?
The best way to start using Headspace is to visit their official website. You can create a free account there and initiate a subscription. A monthly subscription will grant you a 7-day trial, while the annual one includes a 14-day trial. You can cancel anytime within your trial period if you do not want to continue using the platform.
Once you have an account, you can download the application on iOS or Android devices. You may use the platform via browser on your computer but users find it more convenient to use Headspace on their mobile devices.
After you log in with the credentials you used to create an account on the website, you will be able to start using Headspace.
If you do not know where to start, you will be given daily activities in the today section. You can find more content in the explore section. Many users report that they liked courses that are available through the “Courses and Singles” section from the Explore section
Headspace's scientific foundation
Headspace prides itself as an app that follows scientific knowledge to create its content.
The main techniques adopted by Headspace are meditation and mindfulness.
Daily meditation may have several benefits, including:
- Improved stress resilience
- Improved mood
- Better anxiety and pain management
- Increased patience
Similar effects may also be noted as mindfulness benefits. Mindfulness and meditation are closely related but they may be practiced separately. If you use Headspace, you will be prompted to try out both practices.
It is important to understand that findings from research studies on meditation or mindfulness may not directly apply to the Headspace platform. However, Headspace's impact on mental health has been clinically tested in a few pilot studies. As of now, there is an increasing amount of research studies showing that Headspace may be a valuable tool for mental health.
Research studies on Headspace
There is growing interest in mindfulness and meditation and how these practices may support mental health. For this reason, some research studies may use Headspace to test certain hypotheses on meditation and mindfulness. Below, we briefly go over the findings of some of these studies.
One of the research studies on focus and mindfulness has shown that Headspace was more effective at improving attention and focus when contrasted with the usage of a brain training application. The study was conducted using a sample of 95 individuals in total and lasted 30 days.
Another study on stress management with mindfulness apps with a similar participant pool showed that participants using Headspace reduced their irritability and stress levels. However, it is worth noting that the result was observed using self-reported questionnaires.
Scientific research has also investigated Headspace’s potential in anxiety management. For instance, one controlled randomized trial showed that participants using Headspace had lower anxiety symptoms just after 4 weeks of usage.
According to Headspace's official website, there are already 40 published research studies that were conducted using the Headspace app, with 51 more currently underway. The preliminary findings indicate that Headspace may be beneficial for mental health. Nonetheless, it's worth noting that the effect sizes observed in these studies are relatively modest and the participant diversity might not be fully representative of the broader population.
Comparing Headspace with the competition
Headspace is not the only app that offers tools to learn mindfulness and meditation techniques. As of now, Headspace is one of the leading mindfulness apps. For this reason, comparing them may be difficult, especially with an unequal amount of research studies on these apps.
Headspace vs. Calm
Both Headspace and Calm have been used in clinical trials. As of now, Headspace has taken the lead in terms of the number of clinical trials conducted using their app.
When it comes to features, both of these apps are pretty similar. They both include guided meditations, relaxing sounds, bedtime stories, and podcasts.
Their main difference is mostly related to their visuals. Headspace embraces a very distinct and quirky animation style, while Calm utilizes a more serene and minimalist design, featuring scenic landscapes and real-life photography.
In terms of pricing, Headspace and Calm are indistinguishable. Both of their annual subscriptions cost $69.99 per year. Moreover, both Headspace and Calm offer identical student discounts and family plans.
Headspace vs. Insight Timer
Insight Timer is a possible alternative to Headspace if you are looking for a free meditation mobile app. While Insight Timer is free to start, some content is only available with a premium subscription. For example, their courses are only available if you have a subscription.
Insight Timer’s main feature is the timer that you can use to track your meditation sessions. It may be beneficial for people looking to start unguided meditation sessions. In addition, you can pick various soothing sounds to be played during your session. For this reason, we would consider Insight Timer a great alternative if you are an experienced meditator.
Headspace, however, may be a better option if you are a beginner as it contains more in-depth materials to learn meditation techniques.
Headspace vs. Simple Habit
Both Headspace and Simple Habit are meditation apps. Simple Habit focuses on busy people and offers 5-minute meditation sessions, while Headspace takes a broader approach and has more daily activities to help you foster your mental health.
The content you may find on these applications is quite similar: guided meditations, stories, yoga workouts, soothing sounds, and music. Simple Habit lacks courses, making Headspace a winner for beginners.
Simple Habit is a bit pricier than Headspace. Their annual plan is priced at $89.99, while Headspace would cost you $69.99. However, Simple Habit has a cheaper monthly plan ($11.99) compared to Headspace ($12.99).
Our verdict – is Headspace worth it?
If you are looking for a mindfulness or meditation app, Headspace is a solid choice, especially for beginners. It offers a wide range of features and content, its interface is designed to be easy to use, and users report being overall satisfied with the app.
Given its foundation in scientific principles, Headspace is a valuable tool that may teach some tactics to cope with stress, worry, or other negative emotions. The early clinical trials also suggest that Headspace intervention may yield favorable outcomes. However, it can not substitute professional assistance and is not a replacement for therapy.
What is Headspace?
Headspace is a meditation and mindfulness platform. The app's main features include guided meditations, mindfulness exercises, bedtime stories, podcasts, and other tools that may be used to foster mental health.
How much does Headspace cost?
The starting price for Headspace is $12.99 if you opt for a monthly subscription. Headspace also offers an annual subscription priced at $69.99 in total (or $5.83 per month). Students can get a generous 85% discount on the annual plan.
How to cancel Headspace subscription?
It depends on where the subscription was initiated: the official website, Play Store, or Apple App Store. If you subscribed via their website, you will have to log in to your profile on the website, navigate to your profile, and tap on the "TURN OFF AUTO RENEWAL" button.
- JMIR Mental Health. Efficacy and Conflicts of Interest in Randomized Controlled Trials Evaluating Headspace and Calm Apps: Systematic Review.
- Annals of Behavioral Medicine. Mindfulness Meditation for Chronic Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.
- Clinical Psychology Review. Mindfulness-based interventions for psychiatric disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
- Pain Medicine. A Brief Mindfulness Meditation Training Increases Pain Threshold and Accelerates Modulation of Response to Tonic Pain in an Experimental Study.
- Journal of Cognitive Enhancement. Online-based Mindfulness Training Reduces Behavioral Markers of Mind Wandering.