6 Phone Apps to Increase Mindfulness

I think it is too easy to blame technology for our generation's lack of self-awareness or social attention, when in reality, it provides us with numerous great tools for self-improvement. So, I wanted to create a non-exhaustive list of apps which I find are helpful in my personal journey to be a better human and to develop responsible phone usage practices. For context, I use an iPhone so these apps are available in the App Store.

Unroll.me | Free

My Unroll.me stats.

My Unroll.me stats.

Over the years, we glaze over how many unnecessary mailing lists and accounts we associate with our email. This floods our inboxes. To reach "Inbox Zero," I cannot recommend Unroll.me enough. By linking this app to your email, it shows you every account and mailing list linked to your address. Then, you can choose one of three options for each website: unsubscribe, keep in inbox, or add to your "Rollup," which is a singular email you receive once a day, bundling all of your extra subscriptions in one. Instead of getting seven emails from websites you still want to keep up with, you receive one. It definitely is the best email management app.

Ecosia | Free

This is an eco-friendly replacement to your typical phone browser (in an iPhone's case, Safari). Ecosia works just as well as Safari, but instead of just mindlessly searching things on Google through Safari, if I mindlessly search things on Google through Ecosia, the company will plant a tree in my honor after so many searches. For something I do anyway, I don't see why I can't have this added bonus. It's like using Amazon Smile; you have no reason not to.

Calm | Free (with optional paid pro version)

This is probably the most famous guided meditation app, alongside Headspace (which is also high quality). I have paid for the pro version, so my discussion of this app is made with that bias. I will discuss my experience with Calm in more detail in future posts, but for now, I will say it is a wonderfully accessible introduction to meditation. It provides not only guided meditations, but sleep stories which help lull you to sleep, ambient music for concentration and other purposes, and specific meditations which focus on specific concepts such as happiness, anxiety, sleep, and so much more. I am so happy to have committed to this as it has helped me be a more level-headed person little-by-little, day-by-day.

Feedless | Free (for Facebook, paid for other apps)

Screenshot of phone with Feedless enabled.

Does anyone else but me have a social media addiction? I do. I am not in the group of people who believe we should abolish the concept entirely or delete all accounts; this would be ludicrous, as there are so many benefits to social media. But, my issue was what I call "boredom scrolling" which turns into obsessive thoughts about current events, anxiety, or feeding my eyes with useless information about people I don't care a great deal about. To use Feedless most effectively, delete the Facebook app and log in to Facebook via Safari. When Feedless is enabled, it completely eliminates the Facebook feed, but still allows you to browse profiles, check notifications, and explore almost all of the other aspects of the website without allowing you to scroll through the unnecessary Facebook feed. This works with Instagram and Twitter as well, but this is a paid extra, which I do not use. (Unfortunately, this is not compatible with Ecosia, so I recommend not logging into Facebook with that browser).

Space | Free

A screenshot after a partial day's usage of Space.

A screenshot after a partial day's usage of Space.

Along the same vein as social media addiction, Space shows you exactly how much time you spend on your phone. Not only does it show you how long your screen is on, it shows you how many times your phone is simply unlocked. After answering a few questions about your phone usage, (do you use it to text? for work? for reading news?) Space creates a plan for you to curb your phone usage and make you more aware of how much you spend staring at your little screen. You also have the option to pause it, (for instance when doing your daily Calm meditation or Elevate training), so useful phone functions don't contribute to your overall time.

Elevate Brain Training | Free (with optional paid pro version)

There are definitely little things about life I could improve. Remembering names, being able to judge an appropriate tip in my head, quickly recognizing typos and punctuation errors, knowing measurement equivalents, expanding vocabulary, and so many others. Elevate turns these necessary skills into games, which grow in difficulty the more you practice them. Paying for the pro version unlocks more games and more in-depth stats. For just 10 minutes or so a day, I engage my brain with these activities, and I have already noticed mild improvements after two weeks of consistent use.

I hope you test some of these apps out and find them useful! I may write a post in the future discussing more, since there are so many great ones! Thanks for reading! Cheers.