In our fast-paced world, stress, anxiety, and mental health issues have become increasingly prevalent. More and more people are seeking ways to improve their mental and emotional well-being.
One approach that has gained a lot of attention in recent years is mindfulness meditation.
There are many apps and ways which train people in mindfulness, and Headspace is one of these online services which play a role in mental health.
This ebook is intended as a specific buyer’s guide to Headspace. In other words, who is best for Headspace and why?
Headspace is unique in three key aspects:
- Headspace is secular and does not discuss spiritual topics such as Enlightenment, or prayer.
- Headspace teaches mindfulness meditation in the context of corporate employment. For example, mindfulness while commuting to work, taking a mindful break from work, relaxing before bed, etc.
- Headspace is a mobile app (not an online course). It also does have educational courses related to sleep, burnout, and productivity. Unlike an online course, however, Headspace does not dive into the science, research, or give case studies, etc.
We would like to say that what makes Headspace unique is its accessibility and its ability to make meditation easy and approachable for people of all levels of experience.
However, truth be told, there are many other apps such as Calm or Insight Timer which also make meditation easy and accessible as well. We’ll cover the competitors of Headspace and other alternatives below.
Who Is Best for Headspace
Whether you’re a student or you’re well into your career, Headspace is best for people who are dealing with stress, burnout, and productivity – who also want to learn or practice meditation in the context of their job without going too in-depth.
Overall, Headspace is more secular and practical than other apps and focuses a lot of its content on practical strategies to implement mindfulness throughout a busy workday.
Two case studies from Headspace:
- Amy leads a busy lifestyle and often finds it hard to quiet her mind. She struggles with anxiety and stress due to the everyday pressures of work, social obligations, and family responsibilities. Amy wants to integrate mindfulness practices into her daily routine but doesn’t know how. That’s where Headspace comes in. With the easy-to-use Headspace app and straightforward guided meditations, Amy can take a few minutes each day to reduce stress and improve her focus, leading to a more productive workday and a calmer personal life.
- Michael is a seasoned meditator who has been practicing mindfulness for years. He is looking for a more extensive range of courses and meditations that can help him take his practice to the next level. Headspace’s diverse collection of courses and meditations aligns with Michael’s needs and provides him with resources to explore next-level mindfulness practices.
Of course, some people should probably not use Headspace and others might be better off using a different platform.
Read below to learn when to avoid meditation entirely, and when a different app would be more appropriate.
Why Trust Online Mental Health Reviews
From our perspective, Headspace is best for secular employees who work a 40-hour work week. How did our team come up with this specific buyer persona?
Why trust our opinions and reviews about online mental health?
First, our mission at Online Mental Health Reviews is to 1) promote mental health awareness and 2) help people make better decisions in the name of mental health.
Know that our lead author, Jared Levenson, taught meditation in residential eating clinics for years. He frequently saw clients who had experienced trauma and in general, didn’t trust their bodies and were struggling with meditation, body scanning in particular.
Over the years, Jared learned to primarily teach and provide mindfulness classes that were sound-based, such as sound baths, nature sounds, etc.
Second, we bought, used, and recorded our experience with Headspace. You can see our entire Headspace experience documented in the videos below.
Third, the content below and our videos speak for themselves. Watch the video playlist, and continue learning more about Headspace below!
What is Headspace?
Headspace is a meditation app that offers a variety of guided meditations and mindfulness exercises designed to help users manage stress and improve their overall well-being:
- Headspace offers a variety of different meditation sessions ranging from 3 minutes to 1 hour in length.
- The sessions are designed for all levels of experience, so whether you’re just starting or have been meditating for years, there will be something that suits your needs.
- Additionally, the app also offers sleep casts (bedtime stories), daily reminders (to encourage consistent practice), and SOS exercises (for when you need an immediate boost).
- Headspace has a variety of subscription plans for students, teachers, and employees of partners.
Launched in 2010 by Andy Puddicombe and Rich Pierson, Headspace has since become a popular choice for people seeking to improve their mental health through meditation.
Andy is a former Buddhist monk who has dedicated himself to teaching people the benefits of meditation.
He has even given a TED talk that’s been viewed over 4.5 million times, “All it takes is 10 mindful minutes”, which explains why he believes that anyone can learn to meditate and reap the benefits.
According to Business of Apps1 – in 2020, which was the last year in which Headspace reported financial data, Headspace earned $150 million.
- Headspace has more than 2 million subscribers, and the app has been downloaded more than 65 million times.
- 2,100 companies have teamed up with Headspace to give the app to their workers for free. Headspace currently leads all meditation companies in corporate adoption. For example, Headspace has commercial partnerships with companies including Google, LinkedIn, Starbucks, Adobe, General Electric, and Turner. This is why Headspace is uniquely suited for employees and others who work 40-hour work weeks.
- The value of Headspace Health, which was made up of both Headspace and Ginger, was $3 billion.
Notably, Headspace is in “mindful competition” with another popular meditation app, Calm, which has around 4 million subscribers.
See below for our comparison, of Headspace vs Calm, and what science says about the two services when compared against each other!
Evidence-Based Benefits Of Using Headspace
Most importantly, we can feel certain Headspace provides mental health benefits because of transparent and independent scientific research.
- This scientific research is important to reduce bias, and to make measurable the mental health benefits which are usually hard to quantify. For example, how do you actually measure stress reduction in concrete terms everyone can agree upon?
- In all studies listed below, the researchers in question signed statements saying they had no financial relationship with Headspace.
Overall, many studies have used Headspace and other apps such as Calm – without receiving financial incentives from the apps – to measure the effects of online mindfulness training for students, professors, and adults under stress, burnout, and depression.
For example, a 2015 study titled “Mindfulness and Compassion: An Examination of Mechanism and Scalability”, found an increase of 23% in empathy when participants used the Headspace app.
The study’s authors signed off on this statement: “Although Headspace, Inc. provided free use of their product (as they often do for research teams), they were not involved in the conduct, analysis, or reporting of the research in any way. Moreover, none of the authors possess any type of financial relationship with Headspace, Inc. that might be considered in any way a conflict of interest.”
According to an analysis of over 65 studies6, the measurable benefits of Headspace include:
- Regular use of Headspace can significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels.
- It can improve focus and concentration, especially for students and professionals.
- Meditation has been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce symptoms of depression.
- It can also lower blood pressure in people with hypertension and boost immune function.
- Collectively, the benefits of using Headspace regularly include improved physical and mental health.
Other studies show similar results:
- Stress is reduced through meditation. Only 10 days of Headspace usage resulted in a 14% reduction in stress, according to an internal study that was published in a top mindfulness journal2.
- Northeastern University3 found that 3 weeks of Headspace made people 23% more compassionate.
- Headspace helps you concentrate. Almost half of the time we are awake, we are lost in thinking or distracted. Research released in a psychology journal4 showed that Headspace made people 14% more focused and cut mind-wandering by a lot.
- People can be happy in general if they use Headspace. In a study with college students5, it was found that just 10 days of Headspace made them feel better and more positive. This is the most widely cited study about “app” in “happiness.”
Who Should Not Meditate
According to the National Institute of Health2, a meta-analysis of 83 studies with a combined total of 6,703 participants discovered that some participants had negative things to say about meditation.
After conducting a systematic review, researchers concluded 8% of those who tried meditation experienced unfavorable effects.
Unfortunately, the paper does not attempt to explain why 8% of people who tried meditation felt negative in some way.
Notably, Headspace does not cater to eating disorder clients and many of the guided meditations on Headspace involve body scanning.
List of Signs That Should Make You Pause Before Trying Headspace
Because we’ve seen clients have panic attacks because of meditation, we want to give a non-medical description of why meditation might cause negative things to happen. If you exhibit one or more of these symptoms, you might be one of those people who won’t benefit from meditation apps.
- Crisis or Severe Trauma Background – Crisis or severe trauma during childhood should not use Headspace without caution.
- Get Triggered When Feel Body – Headspace body scans may provoke trauma survivors who are easily startled or triggered.
- Hate Short Silences – A loud inner critic may make it quite uncomfortable or painful, making it hard to focus.
- Difficulty with Suicidal or Other Intrusive ideas — Intrusive ideas can be overwhelming and distracting during Headspace meditation, making it hard to stay present.
- Crippling Shame – Avoid Headspace if you feel like a complete failure when meditating.
- Bad Hearing – Headspace’s audio content may be difficult for hearing-impaired users.
Most likely, however, you already know if you panic or feel worse after meditating.
What Are The Pros and Cons Of Headspace?
Overall, Headspace can be a great tool for managing stress and improving mental health, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before signing up.
Headspace is a popular meditation and mental health app that is backed by independent research. Some of its pros include:
- Easy-to-use interface
- Variety of content including guided meditations, sleep exercises, and more
- Positive reviews from users and experts
- 7-day free trial with a monthly payment plan
But as noted above, 8% of people, especially those with a trauma background, might not be right for meditation.
Plus, there are other things to consider about Headspace before signing up.
- Cost – Headspace costs money. The software is free, but you need a membership to use all its functions. Financially struggling folks may find this pricey. The monthly subscription is higher than other meditation apps.
- Lack of Personalization – Headspace also lacks personalized guidance. The software offers broad stress and anxiety management guidance but not personalized support. Therapy or counseling may offer more personalized support.
- May Not Sound Right – Finally, Headspace will not ‘sound right’ to some people. Some find the guided meditations too simple or repetitious, while others find them too long or hard to follow. The tone of voice may sound wordy, or too fast.
- Some users report finding the app repetitive at times
- No lifetime or the one-time purchase option is available
Try out the app and see if it works for you before committing to a subscription plan. Headspace offers subscription plans, which we cover below (and in the playlist above).
If you decide that Headspace isn’t right for you, there are plenty of other options available that might better suit your needs, which we cover more below.
Headspace Third-Party Reviews
Are you looking for reviews of the Headspace app from independent sources? You’re in luck if so! Online, there are a ton of evaluations from unbiased sources. Here are some:
- Headspace has an average rating of 2.2/5 on Trustpilot out of 490 reviews.
- G2 reviewers gave Headspace for Work an average rating of 4.7/5 from 66 reviews.
- Knoji listed 68 reviews for Headspace, with an average rating of 4.2/5 stars.
- The Apple App Store averages 4.8/5 from 928,700 reviews, and Google Play Store gives 4.5/5 stars from 295,000 reviews.
Links To Download Headspace On Apple And Android:
You may download the Headspace app on either Apple or Android devices.
- On the App Store for Apple devices, you can find Headspace under “Headspace: Mindful Meditation” – https://apps.apple.com/us/app/headspace-mindful-meditation/id493145008
- For Android devices, search “Headspace: Mindful Meditation” in the Google Play store – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.getsomeheadspace.android&hl=en_US&gl=US
Headspace Competitors / Meditation Providers
Whether you are a seasoned meditator or just getting started with mindfulness practice, it is essential to compare providers to find the app that best suits your goals, preferences, and lifestyle.
In this section, we take a brief look at some of the most popular competitors to Headspace.
In addition, we recommend that you research and look up these competitors to Headspace!
Headspace vs. Calm
A systematic review8 that specifically and only evaluates Headspace in comparison to Calm and vice versa concludes:
“The empirical research on Headspace appears promising, whereas there is an absence of randomized trials on Calm”.
While Calm offers similar features to Headspace, Headspace stands out due to its more extensive offering of meditations and courses. On the other hand, Calm features many celebrity-guided meditations, such as Lebron James, Oprah, etc.
Additional Headspace Alternatives
If you’re interested in meditation apps, Headspace isn’t your only option. Here are a few alternatives to consider:
- Calm – In addition to guided meditations, Calm offers a range of sleep stories, calming sounds, and programs to promote relaxation. This app is great for those who struggle with falling asleep at night and want to utilize mindfulness for that purpose.
- Insight Timer – This app provides access to a large library of free content, including guided meditations, music, and a timer to support you in your practice. You can customize the timer to fit your preferred meditation length, and access content from teachers and practitioners worldwide.
- Ten Percent Happier – This app is similar to Headspace but includes coaching programs and courses in addition to guided meditations. The courses include comprehensive training on various aspects of mindfulness and meditation, designed to help users reduce anxiety and stress.
- Simple Habit – This app offers audio-guided meditation sessions and customizable playlists, with a focus on situational and lifestyle challenges. It is great for busy professionals who want to fit a quick meditation session into their day and want a variety of options to choose from.
Remember, each app caters to a different audience, so it’s important to explore your options and find the one that fits your needs best.
- Headspace’s strengths include a variety of registered clinical psychologists providing training and a user-friendly interface
- Headspace’s weakness is the higher cost of content subscriptions than some competitors.
Whether you need more sleep-focused meditations like Calm, a large library of free content like Insight Timer, comprehensive coaching programs offered by Ten Percent Happier or approach meditation more situationally like Simple Habit, each app offers different benefits for different users.
Overall, Headspace stands out with its extensive range of meditation sessions, ease of use, and high-quality guided meditations for various levels and needs.
But as we’ve stated before, Headspace is best for people who are dealing with stress, burnout, and efficiency and want to learn or practice meditation in the context of their job without going too deep. This could be students or people who have been working for a long time.
Headspace (According To Reddit)
When evaluating Headspace in comparison to its competitors, we found two Reddit comment threads to be useful:
What Does Headspace Cost?
- Monthly Subscription to Headspace – Offers a 7-day free trial with an auto-renewing subscription fee of $12.99 per month.
- Yearly Subscription to Headspace – Includes a 14-day free trial at 56% savings with an auto-renewing subscription fee of $69.99 per year.
- Student Headspace Plan – Offers $0.83 per month in cost savings, payable annually, with a 14-day free trial.
- Family Subscription Plan – Costs $99.99 USD each year for up to 6 members of the same family.
- Educators Headspace Plan – Free access to K–12 educators in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
- Office Headspace Plan – Offering hundreds of meditations and exercises for stress, attention, sleep, and movement for teams with successful adoption rates. When your company becomes a Headspace partner by obtaining a paid license, employees get Headspace for free.
Does Headspace Have A Free Trial?
Yes, Headspace does offer a free trial.
- 7-day free trial with full access when signing up for a monthly subscription
- 14-day free trial with full access when signing up for the yearly subscription
During this time, you will have access to all of their content so you can explore and find what works best for you.
So if you’re looking for help managing stress or improving mental health, then give Headspace’s free trial a try and see how it works for you!
Headspace Summary – Online Mental Health Review
Headspace - $12.99/Month
Headspace is best for people who are dealing with stress, and burnout, want to improve their productivity, learn or practice meditation, and prefer a minimalistic approach.
- Provides access to hundreds of meditations, sleep sounds, and focus music
- Offers mental health support through coaching and therapy sessions
- Includes high quality instructional audio experiences
- Easy to use and navigate user interface
- Available for both Apple and Android devices
- Features calm moments reminders throughout the day to keep users mindful
- Allows personalization of audio experiences with various volume levels, timer settings, and background noises
- Trackable stats help users understand their practice over time
- Offers special programs for different age groups such as children or teens
- Accessible at anytime from anywhere allowing users flexibility in their practice
- Ability to save progress in specific sessions so that users can return to them later
- Email notifications help keep users on track when they forget to meditate
- Supports educational initiatives by providing free access to its content through Headspace School Programs
- Free 7 day trial allows users to test out the app before committing
- Does not offer individualized guidance or feedback beyond the programs offered
- Requires a subscription to access all of the content
- Audio loops may become repetitive over time
- Limited access to guided meditations if you do not have a Premium account
- Sleep Sounds and Focus Music can be limited depending on package purchased
- Amount of free content is limited compared if you upgrade to a paid plan
- No ability to sync data across multiple devices which limits portability between devices
- Timer options for meditation sessions can only be set in increments of 10 minutes
- Cannot customize session length when doing guided meditations
- Stats and analytics tracking require an active subscription
- Not available in all countries due to geographic restrictions
- No ability to track goals that were achieved or need improvement during each session
- Individual audio files cannot be downloaded directly from the app, they must be streamed online
- Does not offer integration with other products such as smartwatches or fitness trackers
- Content is not tailored based on personal feedback
Honor your instincts and intuition about meditation
The good news is that for 90% of people, meditation will be of great benefit. And yet, we must face the fact that there is a dark side to meditation as commonly taught, especially for people who have experienced physical or sexual trauma.
In addition, only a certain percentage of this 90% will find Headspace to be the absolute best choice – but that’s why we’re here to help you find the path toward better mental health that’s best for you.
We hope this guide is helping so far. If you have any questions, please email email@example.com and we’ll respond to your query shortly.
- Headspace Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023). (n.d.). Business of Apps. https://www.businessofapps.com/data/headspace-statistics/
- Economides, M., Martman, J., Bell, M. J., & Sanderson, B. (2018, March 1). Improvements in Stress, Effect, and Irritability Following Brief Use of a Mindfulness-based Smartphone App: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness, 9(5), 1584–1593. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0905-4
- Lim, D., Condon, P., & DeSteno, D. (2015, February 17). Mindfulness and Compassion: An Examination of Mechanism and Scalability. PLOS ONE, 10(2), e0118221. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0118221
- Bennike, I. H., Wieghorst, A., & Kirk, U. (2017, April 25). Online-based Mindfulness Training Reduces Behavioral Markers of Mind Wandering. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, 1(2), 172–181. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41465-017-0020-9
- Howells, A., Ivtzan, I., & Eiroa-Orosa, F. J. (2014, October 29). Putting the ‘app’ in Happiness: A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Smartphone-Based Mindfulness Intervention to Enhance Wellbeing. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17(1), 163–185. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-014-9589-1
- Researching Meditation and Mindfulness – Headspace. (n.d.). Headspace. https://www.headspace.com/science/meditation-research
- Farias M, Maraldi E, Wallenkampf KC, et al. Adverse events in meditation practices and meditation-based therapies: a systematic review. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 2020;142(5):374-393
- O’Daffer, A., Colt, S. F., Wasil, A. R., & Lau, N. (2022, September 20). Efficacy and Conflicts of Interest in Randomized Controlled Trials Evaluating Headspace and Calm Apps: Systematic Review. JMIR Mental Health, 9(9), e40924. https://doi.org/10.2196/40924