Self care apps have become a popular source of inspiration for students looking to boost their productivity, manage their stress, and improve their mental health, exercise routines and diets in recent years. Too much screen time may be bad for mental health. However, being mindful about how you use your screen time could lead to reaching your fitness and mental health goals sooner than if you used your smartphone to scroll through social media apps. Many popular apps amongst students are proven to have detrimental effects on mental health, such as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram.
Out of the thousands of apps on the digital market, we have selected the five best self-care apps for students, covering meditation apps, mindfulness apps, health and fitness apps, daily planner apps, and healthy habit-keeping apps.
Most apps geared towards helping users to improve self-care routines are available on a trial or free-to-use basis. Meaning that there is often no upfront investment needed for students who are already feeling their budgets stretched to their limits.
While self-care apps can be incredibly beneficial for some users, it is worth bearing in mind that they have their limitations. For example, a self-care app can help you drift off to sleep with soothing music or a spoken meditation, but it can’t get to the bottom of why you struggle with insomnia. It can show you tools to tackle anxiety when it crops up in public, but it can’t help you to identify and overcome your triggers. They are a great short-term fix; but not a long-term solution. With that said, self-care apps are not without their benefits – especially when compared to traditional modes of therapy. The free or cheap apps are affordable, there is no long waiting list to endure before you can access them, and anyone feeling hesitant to reach out for support can receive support straight from their smartphone.
The 5 Best Self-Care Apps for Students
For students struggling to maintain a healthy sleep routine or wanting to learn more about meditation to combat anxiety, stress or depression, the Calm app contains everything students need to let more zen into their lives.
For meditation beginners, there is a range of beginner-friendly courses on the concept of meditation, with some more specialised courses on overcoming anxiety and stress or how to be more productive. Once you complete all the basic courses, you can continue your mindfulness journey. You can turn to the sleep meditation sessions or the stories developed to send you to sleep, the emergency breathing exercises, and the Daily Calm meditation sessions, which are always unique and will take you on a new meditation journey.
In 2021, the app surpassed 100 million downloads after being introduced to the market in 2016 to help users reach mental fitness. The ethos behind Calm lies in the belief that the brain is a muscle that needs regular exercise to build resilience and strength.
The Calm app offers a seven-day free trial for all new users. Following the seven-day trial, users are billed £28.99 annually, or for users who want to use the app for life, Calm for Life costs £299.99. The app is available from the Google Play and iOS store; contracts can be cancelled anytime for ultimate peace of mind.
The Finch self-care app certainly won’t be for everyone, but the widget pet app that allows your animated widget pet to grow, thrive and flourish as you engage in self-care and set goals has garnered popularity in the self-care app market. Unlike many other self-care apps, Finch has a 5-star review with over 100k reviews submitted! Every day, you will set goals for the next day, which can be custom created. For example, your goals could be to visit the library, finish an essay, or attend your lectures. For students struggling to take care of basic tasks due to depression, there is a series of basic self-care exercises, such as going for a walk or drinking a glass of water. Whatever goal you complete, your widget pet will be proud of you and send you encouraging messages throughout the day!
The Finch App also inspires you to submit positive reflections on your day by asking you to check in daily through the unique writing prompts. Every time you check in with Finch, your widget pet, which you can style and name, will grow and feel more confident and nurtured. It’s a niche app, but it is a great introduction to self-care for many who struggle to get the motivation for it. The Finch app comes with a free standard version; and a premium version, which unlocks a few more goals and activities. However, as there are no ads and few limitations with the free standard version, most users won’t feel the need to invest in the paid-for version.
The Aura app is marketed as the best all-in-one self-care app for well-being and mindfulness, which shares some similarities to Headspace and Calm. The major difference lies in how the app is driven by AI. Much like Spotify uses an algorithm to suggest music to you, the AI behind Aura can introduce you to the most beneficial content by learning how to help you, starting with a quiz to get to know you.
Users of the app are grateful for the guidance, as there is an endless library of content provided by some of the world’s best therapists, coaches and storytellers. Via the app, users can find everything from work and study wellness tips to health coaching to ASMR to guided prayers to life coaching and hypnosis. For additional support for an extra fee, 1-1 sessions are available from your favourite therapists. Aura is currently home to over 7 million community members, who have spent over 100 million minutes on self-care. For UK users, an annual subscription to Aura costs £48 a year.
Headspace is one of the most highly recommended self-care apps in the UK – NHS England frequently recommends the service, which has become renowned for its science-backed approach to reducing stress, aiding better sleep, and building resilience.The self-care app is one of the only apps to provide student discounts. The Headspace Student Plan is 85% cheaper, costing £7.99 a year or 67p a month! Before you tie yourself into a plan, you can check out the premium app for seven days for free. Most users find that compared to Calm and Aura the interface is much less overwhelming.
Headspace aims to take the seriousness out of meditation without compromising on any of the benefits of meditation. As the app was developed by a former-Buddhist monk, it pulls from Eastern traditions. However, people from all faiths and spiritual leanings have used the app to sharpen their meditation skills. For users with a background in meditation, Headspace may not be the best meditation-orientated app, as it has a strong focus on introduction courses, which may be arduous for intermediate meditators to endure. Additionally, you can track your progress to keep committed to your self-care goals, buddy up with your friends via the app, and all the physical workout classes are hosted by Olympian athletes!
If your diet and fitness are holding you back from holistic health, a health and fitness-focused self-care app may better suit your needs. When you download the MyFitnessPal app via the Apple or Android store, you can set your health goal, and the app will help you to achieve it by tracking how many calories you are consuming and burning daily. Try out the free version first; if you find it helpful, you can always consider investing in the paid-for version.
MyFitnessPal is for far more than just weight loss; it can also track strength training progress and progress with cardiovascular exercise. It is worth noting that while MyFitnessPal can help you to track food consumption, it is only sometimes accurate. For example, the database will tell you that a serving of yellow rice is 150 calories. However, that doesn’t consider the portion size or preparation. As for the activity and exercise logging, this can only be relied upon if you invest in a third-party tracker device, such as an Apple or Google Fit Watch.
However, it is advisable for anyone struggling with their mental health to reach out for professional support, as self-care can only go so far in holistic well-being. UWS London has a range of student support options, including our online CBT lessons, counselling sessions, support via the Student Union, and regularly held workshops around campus.
We also regularly update our blog with practical advice on how to deal with common and mild mental health issues, including social anxiety and depression, and how international students can overcome language barriers while studying with us.