#5MinuteReflection · Digital wellbeing

#5MinuteReflection 1: New year, new us, new you?

Happy new year!

….And welcome to our new post type for 2019, a #5MinuteReflection. These posts, in addition to our familiar #1minutecpd posts, will provide some wider context and embed the technologies that we cover in #1minutecpd within practice. Each post should take approximately 5 minutes to read, so sit back and take a moment to reflect with us.

As January is usually not the jolliest of months and the long dark days can start to take their toll, I’ve decided that in our first #5minuteReflection post I’ll explore some of the well-being apps and technologies you can use to help keep yourself happy and healthy in 2019. These apps and approaches are also good to share with your students so consider promoting these approaches to your students also.

We have already covered some apps that can help you with well-being, and I’ll remind you of those here…I’ll also introduce a couple that I’ll cover in more detail in a later #1minutecpd post.

Apps for mindfulness:

Mindfulness is a growing trend for helping to take care of your mental health and research has shown a positive association with Mindfulness training and reductions in feelings of stress (Reavley, 2018). With an increased focus on student mental health and well-being, talking to students about these different approaches can make a real impact.

Headspace – This is a really great app for guided meditation and mindfulness courses, from “coping with cravings” to “letting go of stress”. If you are a Manchester Met employee, get in touch with the Well-Being Champion for your department as there is a pilot scheme currently being run which is offering free Headspace accounts. There are other mindfulness apps available, Calm for example is also good, but most do have a charge associated.

However, if you are looking for a cheaper introduction to mindfulness have a search of your Podcasts library, there are some really good podcasts that can introduce you (or your students) to mindfulness for free.


Mindful Podcast (itunes)
Mindful Podcast (Podbean)

Untangle (itunes)  
Untangle (sticher)

Another useful reference to share, which is particularly geared towards supporting students with Mindfulness is the Mindfulness for students website. This is a great place to get an introduction to Mindfulness for staff and students, and also has some free guided meditation recordings available to download.

Mindfulness for students

Apps for focus:

If you are working in a shared office, or just have one particularly noisy co-worker, then you might find some background noise a helpful way to focus and remove irritation. Again, students often have to work in shared spaces which can be noisy and distracting, these approaches can be useful for them also.

Noisli –  We covered this website a while ago now, but it is still a firm favourite within the #1minutecpd team. Noisli gives you the opportunity to block out background noises with a variety of less distracting and more soothing background noises, from thunderstorms to white noise. It’s free to use and you can mix and match the noises to find your perfect balance.

Your smartphone can also be a major distraction and cause of anxiety, particularly when you are trying to focus on a specific task. There are apps available that can help you to manage your use of your smartphone.

Moment – Moment is an app that enables you to set usage limits for yourself on your phone, and report on how much time you are spending using it. On the charged version, they also provide a course that helps you to re-evaluate your relationship with your smartphone and encourages mindful (there’s that word again!) usage. It is now available to both IOS and Android users.

If you are an IOS user, iPhone have now built in a usage report into their standard software. It does have some really handy features to help you to manage your iphone use, including putting limits on individual app use, as well as time using your phone overall. Have a look in your settings menu for Screen time.


Reavley, N.J., 2018. Mindfulness training in higher education students. The Lancet Public Health3(2), pp.e55-e56.

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