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Student stories: Combating confidence issues with Headspace

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Hi! I’m Andrew, currently a pre-reg at Northumbria Hospitals and starting a band 6 role in Newcastle Hospitals soon. I’m also the Secretary General of the BPSA for 2019/20. I started using Headspace just before Christmas 2019 because my mental health was suffering. I had been turned down for two jobs that I wanted and was having a tough time in my pre-reg placement which was making me feel generally quite down and devoid of confidence. Stress was stopping me sleeping, I was beating myself up all the time and couldn’t think clearly which was affecting my work.

I’d not really been drawn to practicing meditation or mindfulness, it was my Mam who suggested that I try it because she found it useful. Being the most well-known app for mindfulness, I decided to give Headspace a try.

The main features of the app are recorded guided meditations, but there are other functions such as ‘sleepcasts’ to help you get to sleep and some recordings for exercise. The mediations are broken up into specific packs depending on their aims, including stress, focus, grief, exams and loads more. I started by doing the ‘basics’ pack of meditations, which teach you how to start doing regular sessions and have some nice, useful animations to help visualise the process. I then moved on to further packs as I progressed.

Starting Headspace can be difficult and requires a commitment to find 10 minutes regularly (ideally every day), to practice mindfulness. You won’t be a zen-master overnight, but I certainly noticed progress within a few days. It helped me to clear my head, sleep better, and be a lot more realistic and less self-critical in my thoughts, which definitely improved my mood, focus and confidence.
I found the ‘sleep casts’ really useful as I was often lying awake with my mind racing or worrying. They basically consist of someone reading a story, but the stories are relaxing and keep you from focusing on anything while you try to drift off. Sleepcasts don’t require any skill or practice so they can be used by anyone, with meditation experience or not.

I took a number of steps over the following months to improve my mental wellbeing, including using the ‘Listening Friends’ service offered by Pharmacist Support, but having a method of switching off for a few minutes was, and still is, an invaluable tool. I still use the app when I feel I need to, finding 10 minutes in a lunch hour is doable and sometimes really helps on those stressful days!
There are a few options on paying for the app. Personally, I think that it’s well worth the money for the extra things on offer, but I’d suggest having a look at it yourself and deciding before committing to a purchase.

You can get a limited number of functions without paying for any subscription, and a two week free trial period of the full app. You can also pay monthly or annually as below:
Regular – £9.99/month or £49.99/year

There are also some special deals for specific groups:
Family Plan (6 Accounts) – £74.99/year
Students – UK Students can get both Spotify Premium and Headspace for £4.99/month

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