You can’t put a price on self-care

It’s pretty easy for everyday life to become stressful – this is true even when we’re not in the midst of a pandemic.

As a college student, I’m no stranger to stress. I believe that when dealing with stress, anxiety, or anything else related to mental health, you really can’t have too many coping tools in your pocket.

You know what’s always in my pocket? My phone.

There are pros and cons to living in a day and age so dependent on technology, but one benefit I was hopeful about was self-care apps.

Of course, an app cannot replace health care such as counseling, but I think having an app that will guide you through breathing, meditation, and even help calm your mind while trying to fall asleep is an additional perk. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of a tool like this?

Oh right, the cost.

Although many self-care apps are free to download, they often require a subscription to unlock everything the app has to offer.

I have three self-care apps downloaded: Headspace, Calm, and Shine.

Headspace has a lot of content – from 5-minute breathing exercises, to “sleepcasts,” and even advice on how to get the most out of your meditation.

This app seems great and I got excited when I downloaded it and started exploring everything Headspace has to offer, but I only got so far until I was prompted to “Try Headspace Plus for free.” To get access to the full Headspace library, you can sign up for a free trial, which leads you to a paid subscription.

Headspace Plus costs $69.99 a year and comes with its first two weeks free, or $12.99 a month with a one-week free trial.

The Calm app is similar, with significantly less free content. Besides basic breathing exercises, unlocking Calm Premium seems to be the only way for this app to be useful. What I do like about Calm is that the meditations are very specific. Calm covers sleep, stress, and anxiety as well as more focused sessions on inner peace, relationships, and personal growth.

The downside? You can’t access all these meditations unless you agree to pay the $69.99 annual fee.

Yes, you get a seven-day free trial, but in my personal experience, I’ve found it takes more than a week to combat anxiety and find inner peace. My mental health does not have a fixed schedule.

After seeing ads for an app called Shine, I decided to give it a try.

What enticed me about this particular app is that the advertisements highlight a daily text from Shine, asking you to check in with yourself and how you’re feeling.

I love this idea, as it is easy to lose focus on your wellness amid the busyness of our days.

The “Daily Shine” feature gives me a prompt such as a fill-in-the-blank like, “Today I am grateful for ___.” This is accompanied by an article relevant to that prompt. You have the choice to “read more” or check in with Shine.

When you decide to check in, you are given the option to focus on either your mood or your gratitude. It may seem like a toss-up of what to choose, except for the fact that checking in on your mood requires Shine Premium, so you really don’t have a choice at all. Gratitude it is.

Shine has asked me what I’m grateful for every time I’ve used it. I would love to know how my mood is doing, and I can – as long as I have an extra $53.99 a year.

I understand that the businesses running these apps need to make money, but I have plenty of free apps that I have never had to subscribe to. I am by no means qualified to work for Apple, but I know that I would rather watch a 30-second ad than pay over $50 for any of these subscriptions. I would even rather pay a smaller price for the app initially than be required to subscribe.

Again, self-care apps are not a cure-all. This is just another useful tool in the world of mindfulness. If you are willing and able to afford the extra expense, I would absolutely recommend doing so.

However, I find it unfortunate and disappointing that a tool designed to help people cope with stress (perhaps caused by financial insecurity) comes with a price tag. This alludes to the fact that your health and wellness is dependent on your income, and that is downright wrong.

They say “health is wealth,” but unfortunately, the opposite seems to ring true.

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