Updated: Feb 25
Take time to nurture your mind and stimulate those brain cells!
Between homeschooling, the endless cooking, cleaning, working from home and well, life admin — it’s impossible to not feel frazzled at the moment. Remember that scene in the Robin Williams' Jumanji where the stampede trounces through the house and it crumbles to the ground… well I’d say that’s close to what my house looks like these days.
I’m finding it increasingly important for my own sanity to engage my brain in a way that doesn’t involve endless shopping lists or remembering to pick up dishwasher tabs. Instead over the past few months I’ve been exploring how apps can stimulate my mind and help me to feel more mindful.
Here are five of my favourites I’d love to share (mix of free and paid).
The Intellectual One
According to a poll by Sky, 31% of people lie about having read books to seem more intelligent, the likes of War and Peace, To Kill a Mockingb
ird and 1984 topping the charts of those most likely to feature in the fib. Well with Blinklist this could become a thing of the past.
Blinklist offers abridged summaries of thousands of books as an audio recording. In just 15 minutes you can get the topline of any book from A Brief History of Time to The History of God. With a number of categories such as Management and Leadership, Philosophy, Nature, Productivity, Psychology, Technology and the Future, Creativity, Sex and Relationships and dozens more, there's something for everyone. This is a highly comprehensive app to support your mind whatever you’re interested in or feel you need motivation or guidance on. There's some super work-related books!
I particularly liked this app when my son was very small and I was on, what seemed like endless pram walks!
Unfortunately this isn’t a free one, though they do offer a 7 day free trial. A monthly Blinkist subscription is £13.49 per month; an annual Blinkist subscription is £59.99.
The Mindful One
According to a 2019 study by the government: “12.8 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.” With everything that’s happened this year, I can’t imagine what that figure is now. Mindfulness techniques have been proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, develop resilience, improve patience, increase happiness and self acceptance as well as improve general health. The calm app is designed to provide you with all the tools you need to welcome mindfulness into your life, whether it’s 5 minutes a day or 30.
The app has a range of options including short meditations, sleep music, uplifting affirmations and my favourite — sleep storie
s. With so much on my mind these days, 6 months ago I began to notice it was taking me longer and longer to get to sleep, as well as constant wakings and restlessness. I’ve been using the sleep stories every night for a number of months. I have a favourite four I play on loop (boring I know), but there is a large range, from non fiction accounts of nature and space, to children’s tales like The Wizard of Oz or Sleeping Beauty. They also have some really famous celebrities reading many of the stories like Matthew McConaughey, Eva Green and Harry Styles. I rarely hear the end of any story so it must be working!
There is a cost for Calm, you can do a free trial for 7 days and then it’s £29.99 a year. There’s a huge bank of materials on the app so it’s well worth it in my opinion. Available on IOS and Android.
The Creative One
Canva is an easy to use app that enables you to create professional looking designs easily and quickly. From jazzy social media posts to birthday cards, fun videos or presentations there’s a lot you can do.
I was never very good at art at school. I remember desperately wishing I could draw or paint and being so frustrated at how pants I was. Only when I’ve started using Canva do I have a bit of confidence with creating something beautiful. I’ll never be a designer or a talented artist by any means, but over lockdown particularly, I’ve enjoyed creating some video memories, adding music and design elements. It really stimulates my creativity but in an accessible way.
Free for the basic version. There’s an optional premium upgrade which enables you to save colour palates and have a greater ran
ge of stock images and music but unless you’re a business, you’ll be fine with the free version. Premium is £10.99 a month. Available on IOS and Android.
The Brain Train One
You might be familiar with this one, it’s one of the first Brain Trainers on the market designed to help improve memory function, maths and science ability and language confidence and understanding. According to a Lumosity study where participants were instructed to train five days per week, for fifteen minutes each day. After ten weeks of training, Lumosity users improved more than the control group on our assessments of working memory, short term memory, processing speed, and overall cognitive function. Not bad for such a short time!
My problem is I tend to pick the categories I feel most comfortable in and shy away from those I find a struggle (maths, I’m looking at you here)! But there’s no denying I feel more alert after using this app and I have seen a real improvement in my memory and how quickly I can respond after using it. A great app if you’re feeling a bit sluggish and in need of brain stimulation.
It’s free for the basic package. Paid option gives you greater access to games and tracking analytics. In terms of cost, there’s usually a promotional offer of £2.66 /month or £31.96 a year. Available on IOS and Android.
The History One
The History of Everything offers a beautifully visual timeline of well…. The history of everything. With me so far? From the dinosaurs to the First World War, The Crusades to Newton’s Theory of Gravity — this app offers bitesize snapshots into our most significant historical periods and events.
What’s really great about this app is the context it gives, plotted on an easy to understand timeline, a few minutes of this a day and you’re guaranteed to come top in your next pub quiz. (Awww pubs, do you even remember them?).
Other App Options
If none of these options float your boat, you might like to consider a language app of which there are several popular options, or you could think about a musical instrument app or something like journaling. There’s tons to explore out there!
Let me know any favourites you have in the comments below!
Marketing Director & Business Owner