I shared a little bit about using Headspace as part of my bedtime routine in this post, but I wanted to dedicate a whole post to it today because I’ve been using it really consistently for over a month now, beyond just bedtime usage. I thought I’d share how I’ve been using in case any of you are interested in using it, or are curious about learning more.
I have used Headspace on and off for years now, but never really got into the habit of using it daily. I liked it when I used it, but just never stuck to it enough for daily use. I’d also get intimidated by 10 minute meditations – it seemed so long and overwhelming! But then when the pandemic hit, my anxiety and just daily overall stress was at an all time high. I was ready to try anything to help me feel a little more grounded day-to-day, and turned to Headspace.
While I don’t think I typically (in non-pandemic times) have a debilitating level of anxiety, my mind does race pretty much constantly. So it definitely took me a while to “adjust” to meditating, because I’d find myself constantly distracted by my thoughts. I still find that happening, but less frequently, and I’m able to redirect them more. What I really like about Headspace is how guided it is – focusing on the voice, and the instructions, help me to stay more present and focused. The suggestion to count your breaths if you’re struggling to remain focused is so helpful for me! I’m still a beginner of sorts, so I typically stick to the five minute meditations (I’ve worked my way up from the three minute ones to the five minute ones). I love that there are different time options for each meditation on the app.
I’m going to share a little bit about how I’m using Headspace, but I also want to talk about the why! The night time meditations are definitely what got me hooked – I fall asleep so quickly now, and I think good sleep is so helpful for so many different things. But I was talking to a friend the other day about being an “emotion sponge” – how we both are really sensitive to the emotions of the people around us, and not only pick up on those emotions but also take them on as our own. So if someone close to us is stressed, we’ll start to feel stressed, too. I’ve noticed that using Headspace has been really helpful for this – it’s not perfect, but I’m more often able to acknowledge those emotions without taking them on myself. And when I was feeling an episode of “pandemic stress,” (which has been mostly gone now since I’ve been vaccinated!), pulling up a meditation to just take a moment was really helpful.
One of the most recent iPhone updates let you put “widgets” on your phone screen, and Headpsace has their own widget. That visual reminder of the widget on my screen every day has been super helpful for me in terms of building the habit. It also changes throughout the day – it has the morning wake up first thing, then the Daily Headspace, and then a nighttime specific option later. I don’t know that I would have built the daily habit that I have without seeing the widget every day.
So, now onto the how. I’m going to break this down into the different ways I use Headspace.
I know that lots of people start their day with a meditation, but for right now, that isn’t for me. It takes me too long to really “wake up” in the morning – I am NOT a morning person – and doing a meditation too early just made me feel sleepier. Occasionally, I’ll do one right before I start working for the day, but the most common time I use Headspace is for a mid-day pick-me-up. Mid-afternoon is typically when I hit an energy slump; I start to feel unfocused and distracted. Taking five minutes to do a “Daily Headspace” helps me stop and re-center myself. It helps me to collect my thoughts and regain some focus so that I can delve back into work refreshed.
There are days where mid-afternoon comes and goes and I realize that I haven’t done a meditation yet that day. Maybe I had back-to-back meetings, maybe I was in the middle of something and didn’t want to break my concentration, or maybe I just forgot. On those days, my go-to meditation of choice is the end-of-day one. it’s a really nice way to ease into the evening, and to start to relax your body and mind before bedtime.
I’ve been doing the nighttime meditations consistently for the longest, and for me, they were the gateway into daytime meditations. I love both the wind downs and the sleepcasts, and use both regularly.
The wind downs are pretty accurately named… meditations to help you wind down before you fall asleep! I very frequently fall asleep in the middle of listening to one now. They take you through a body scan to have you slowly relax and release the tension of the day, and I’m often out before we even make it to the neck! But it’s a great, gentle, soothing way to doze off. If you’re someone who often wakes up in the middle of the night, they have ones for that, too – even specific ones for pain and for nightmares. I honestly look forward to doing a wind down while I’m falling asleep now – it’s such an integral part of my routine! I think these meditations plus my CBD have really improved my sleeping habits.
The sleepcasts are essentially a bedtime story, but told in the most relaxing way possible. They include a mini wind down meditation, but are much longer (45 minutes) and also include themed narration plus background ambiance – water falling, or a fire cracking, or insects humming (but peacefully!) – something that’s like a white noise machine but a bit more involved. These are what I listen to when I know that I’m not quite tired enough to fall asleep yet (so, often on Sunday nights when I’m not ready for the weekend to end). They actually change them slightly each night, and add new ones all the time. Currently, my favorites are Windswept Lighthouse, Vineyard Sunset, Cabin Porch, and Sleeper Mountain, but there are so many good ones!
I’m so glad that I decided to get serious with my Headspace habit. It’s already been great for me, and I know that it’s something that will continue to help me the longer that I keep doing it!