Today, I want to talk about how I find head space.
If you’ll forgive the mild pun, I mean two things by that:
Firstly, I mean how I find the space in my head on a day-to-day basis to be as productive as I can and show up as my best self for my family and for all things Exam Study Expert.
I also mean how I find my experience as a user of the Headspace app, my go-to app for meditation and so much more.
So I was really thrilled recently to begin a commercial partnership with Headspace. Psst: that essentially means I might get a little compensation if you sign up to the service using one of the buttons below – at no extra cost to you!
So, it seemed like the perfect time to share the impact Headspace has had on my daily life. You can think of this article as a combination of honest review and useful tips for getting the most out of one of the world’s most popular meditation apps – you guessed it: Headspace.
And I want to thank you, if you do sign up using any of the buttons sprinkled across this page – for your support, and for trusting in my recommendation!
Prefer to listen? You can find this Headspace review (with *all* the details of my personal Headspace journey) in podcast form right here and on your favourite podcast apps:
What is the Headspace app?
You might be aware of Headspace simply as a mediation app – but in my opinion it’s about so much more than just meditation.
Meditation has seen a huge resurgence in recent years, and I’m a strong believer that a regular mindfulness and / or meditation practice can help you to become an overall more well-rounded and effective student. In fact, there are a great many scientific papers exploring the benefits of meditation to every aspect of student life.
We’re going to take a little tour of the app just below, so here’s a quick overview of everything Headspace offers:
- New meditation videos every day
- Daily wake-up videos to help you start the day on the right foot
- Focus music playlists
- Short exercise break videos
- Student-specific features for tackling exam stress, procrastination and more
- Sleep soundscapes, stories and music
- Plenty of customisation to make it work for you
My journey with Headspace
Now if I’m perfectly honest, I’ve taken quite a rambling route on my own Headspace journey.
I first downloaded the app back in 2017, not long before I left the corporate world to found Exam Study Expert. I tried their introductory course for about 10 days … and then didn’t think about it again for at least a couple of years.
In my subsequent life with Exam Study Expert, the deeper I went with the science of how to study effectively. And the more I kept coming across meditation as a useful evidence-based tool for improving concentration, attention and resilience.
So I began to recommend it, and the more I found myself recommending it, the more I felt it would be hypocritical if I wasn’t practising what I was preaching.
So I dug out Headspace again and made it part of my daily routine …
Since then, I’ve clocked up 1064 minutes across 151 sessions. My consistency ebbs and flows, and I’m clearly not managing 365 days a year yet! But it’s become a big part of my life.
And I really do feel the benefits – the days I meditate in the morning, especially when I’m in a more consistent patch – my brain feels calmer, more focused, less buzzy, and I really do find that I not only get more done but am even a nicer person to be around.
So is signing up for a subscription to Headspace really worth it? Well – yes, in my humble opinion!
The cost of getting some Headspace
Hint: it’s not much!
Right from the outset, I want to acknowledge that I know budgets vary a lot and a standard subscription to the Headspace app won’t be affordable for everyone:
- An annual subscription will set you back £49.99 if you’re from the UK, or $69.99 if you’re in the US
Now that might sound like a significant sum, but it works out far cheaper than their monthly rates (£9.99 or $12.99 a month). Plus it comes with 14 days free trial of the Headspace app.
This works out to about four pounds (roughly six dollars) every month, which I find is not particularly expensive for my peace of mind! It’s hardly more than a cup of coffee or two a month – a winner in my book.
Top tip for students: you can even get up to 85% off the headline rates if you’re a post-secondary or university student (18+) with valid student ID. Currently, that works out as just £7.99 or $9.99 a year – less than a dollar a month!
And if even that is beyond your budget, Headspace has a YouTube channel where you can find a slightly less extensive library of content covering most of the categories I mention below.
Headspace review: let’s tour the app together
So come with me on a little review tour of the Headspace app! We have 7 stopping points along the way including an opportunity to visit the café and gift shop on the way out 😊
Everybody ready? Then follow me!
1. Starting out – The “Basics” courses
The first thing I want to mention is the “Basics” courses because this is where I started my Headspace journey. These are the perfect way introduction to meditation for even complete beginners, as I was not so long ago.
I like the flexibility they offer here: i.e. you can choose how long you want each instalment of the course to be.
If you’re new, I recommend starting with the minimum 3-minute-a-day option. As I often teach in other contexts, when you’re starting out with a new habit, aim for consistency at first.
You want to start with an amount of time that doesn’t faze you no matter what kind of day you’re having. Whether you’re tired, in a rush, whatever – you should always be able to find just 3 minutes.
You can even choose the voice that resonates with you most, male or female, even one ethnicity or another.
In my case, I took the Basics 1 and Basics 2 courses at least a couple of times each while I was easing myself into a meditation habit.
2. Build a daily habit with Today’s Meditation
The second stopping point on the tour is where I spend most of my attention now, the Today’s Meditation feature.
Every day when I wake up, a brand-new meditation of the day is sitting waiting for me – perfect! Each meditation provides a dose of inspiration or wisdom on a massive range of topics. There’s meditation best practice, relationships with others, self-improvement, and even finding true happiness.
This is what I try to do on as many workdays as I can, usually just before sitting down to work for the day.
3. Get out of bed on the right side with The Wake Up
I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but I can really struggle to get out of bed in the mornings sometimes, especially on dark winter nights.
Long ago, I might have woken up my brain by doom-scrolling on Facebook or even checking my emails – before I even made it out of bed!
And honestly, this is a terrible habit. Because while, yes, it does stimulate the brain, I also find it scrambles my brain and makes it far less focused in the day to come. Worse still, if there’s an angry topic on social media or a bit of bad news in the inbox, it means you get up in a filthy mood – before you’ve so much as put the kettle on.
So in my opinion, Headspace’s The Wake Up feature is the perfect solution.
As with the daily meditation, there’s a new one published every single day. It’s a short video around 5 minutes sharing something inspiring or informative:
- Sometimes it’s like a mini nature or science documentary
- Or it’s an animation explaining how to tame a facet of the mind:
- Changing your perspective, finding calm, managing stress and much more
- And sometimes it’s a practical guide to a topic, like emotional intelligence, finding focus or dealing with anxiety
I find these little videos the perfect thing to allow my groggy brain to wake up to.
They help put me in a good mood the rest of the day as I settle into my work routines.
Personally, I use The Wake Up and then Today’s Meditation features most days and feel far better for these habits.
The next stops on our Headspace review tour are features I don’t use often, but dip into from time to time.
4. Focus music playlists perfect for study sessions
Our fourth stop on this Headspace tour and review is their focus music playlists.
I’m often asked if it’s OK to listen to music while studying, and the short answer is “it depends”. Not all music is good background music.
But if you’re trying to find good music to focus to, then Headspace has a whole library of focus music playlists that hit all the right notes (pun intended) discussed in my “music for studying” article.
These playlists feature LoFi beats, more upbeat tracks and even playlists commissioned from renowned artists like Arcade Fire, Madlib, and St Vincent.
In fact, I found myself listening to Hans Zimmer’s cinematic focus music shortly before recording my podcast review of Headspace!
5. Other videos: students, parents and nature-lovers, roll-up!
Stop number five in our Headspace review is a bit of a catch-all for all the various videos they’ve got.
These videos function as a nice helping hand for supporting various issues. Or are great to pop on while you’re taking a brain break from studying or working.
There’s even a whole section on Student Essentials, including:
- Videos on sleep tips
- Fighting FOMO
- Exam prep
- Dealing with distractions
- And overcoming procrastination.
Any parents listening also get a section of videos for parents and kids e.g. advice on balancing screentime.
I especially like the series of 10-minute nature videos which were especially designed to help you take a healthy break. They feature something to relax rest or inspire the mind while you pause from work or study. With titles like Playful Jungle or Joyful Snow, Serene Ocean or Inspiring Land and Sea, there’s something to match whatever mood you’re in.
6. Get moving with the Move feature
Our next stop is in an area of the Headspace app I don’t explore very regularly. So, shall we say it’s a tad dusty in this room on my app?
Having said that, there’s a ton of good content on movement in the Headspace app, so I thought it well worth mentioning as part of this review.
Getting enough regular exercise is one of the core pillars of looking after your mind and body. It’s perfect for all those of you who aspire to become a truly effective student and ace your exams!
So, if you’re up for dusting down the Move feature on your own Headspace app, you can delve into yoga, dance breaks, cardio, mini workouts, stretching and more.
7. Soothe your head right at night with Headspace
And finally, stop number seven brings our tour and our day with Headspace to a close. And it’s all about drifting off to a good night’s sleep.
There’s lots on offer when it comes to building a great night-time routine:
Personally, I turn to their Sleep Stories if I’m ever struggling to fall asleep.
These are resting and soothing stories told slightly differently each time. You can re-listen to old favourites without them feeling stale.
Last Christmas I tuned into the seasonal Snowville story to help me sleep. And I found it absolutely magical, a gentle and romantic description of the medieval town of Snowville and its festive night market. Beautiful.
I also make good use of the library of sleep soundscapes, especially if trying to nap or sleep while there’s background noise.
Personally, I love the Rain on Canvas soundscape. I find I can turn it up to a moderate volume, effectively drowning out all but the loudest of background noises, and still find it a restful and relaxing environment to fall asleep to.
Or if you prefer, there’s a whole library of sleep music! Pick gentle tones, strings, or whatever you like to lull you off to sleep.
As an added bonus, you can set your preferred length for both the sleep soundscapes and sleep music. So if you want to leave it playing all night – well, you can!
Is Headspace for you?
And so that brings us to the proverbial café and gift shop on the tour, and it’s not just cake on offer …
If this Headspace review tour has whetted your appetite for meditation, focus music, sleep resources and more, then great news:
Sign up right here, right now and you can get started on a Headspace adventure of your own – perfect for building some new study habits and routines, and delving into the many benefits of meditation for students.
Still not sure? Don’t forget, you can get up to 14 days absolutely free to take it all for a test drive and try out the features you’re interested in.
Thanks so much for browsing this Headspace review, and wishing you a calm and productive week ahead.