Manage caregiver stress with Insight Timer
At a Glance
As a busy caregiver, it is vital that you take time for yourself. Given all that you do, however, doing so probably seems impractical and unrealistic. That’s where Insight Timer comes in. According to AARP, one of the best things caregivers can do to reduce stress is to meditate and Insight Time is an app that provides access to 20,000 free meditations. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or a seasoned practitioner, they have meditations to address your needs that are as short as one minute and as long as an hour and a half. Because their content providers include both novices and veterans, the quality of the meditations does vary, but with so many choices, you are bound to find at least a few that will work for you.
Cost: Free with in app purchases
Available on: iOS (Apple) and Android mobile devices
Restrictions: Must be 13 +
Car horns are blaring, the boss is yelling, the baby is wailing, and the dog is barking incessantly. In the middle of it all stands a woman on the verge of a major meltdown.
Gazing toward the sky, she throws up her hands in despair and exclaims, “That does it! Calgon take me away!”
In an instant she is magically transported to a different place and time. Awash in bubbles, she is now reclining in an enormous sunken bathtub surrounded by towering marble pillars with a view overlooking snow-covered mountains. She smiles broadly as she gently bathes her arms and legs and sinks into a state of quiet relaxation.
As she relishes her bath, a deep, disembodied, dulcet male voice proclaims, “Lose your cares in the luxury of a Calgon bath.”
If only, right?
Replace the baby with a teenager or two, add a spouse and an aging parent or in-law to the mix and you’ll have a fairly typical picture of today’s modern caregiver.
And while it might be nice and in fact is probably needed, with all that responsibility who has time for a bubble bath?
Yet like that woman in the 1970’s Calgon commercial, as a caregiver you do need to set aside some time for yourself. If you don’t, you’ll burn out.
Before you know it, you’ll be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.
And in such a stressed-out state, you won’t be much good to anyone.
Setting aside time to care for yourself, therefore, isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.
However, as you well know, carving out time for yourself from a seemingly already impossible schedule is going to be a challenge.
Fortunately, some impactful things you can do to help yourself reset and recharge don’t have to take a whole lot of time.
One of them is meditation, which according to AARP is an effective way to combat caregiver stress.
If, however, the thought of sitting crossed-legged in a pretzel shaped position with your eyes closed repeating “om” over and over again seems anything but stress reducing, don’t worry. That’s the Hollywood portrayal.
While it is true that some practitioners sit in a lotus position and repeat a mantra when meditating, it isn’t required. There are many forms of meditation.
And just as there are many forms of meditation, there are many apps available to help guide you in your practice.
In doing research for this post, I looked at a half dozen apps and landed on Insight Timer to test and write about.
The initial reason I decided on Insight Timer was that the price was right. It doesn’t cost anything to download and though you can pay a fee to access their premium content, much of the content is free.
To be fair, many of the other meditation apps are also free, but the amount of free content they offer is much smaller.
According to their website, Insight Timer provides 20,000 meditations free of charge. Though I didn’t count them to verify the claim, I can attest to the fact that they do have a rather large library of free meditations, especially compared to the other apps I looked at.
Secondly, I liked that a large portion of their meditations are guided meditations. A guided meditation is one in which a trained practitioner verbally walks you through the meditation giving you detailed instructions as to what you should be doing each step along the way.
As a beginning practitioner, I also liked that their app has a section devoted exclusively to beginners. It contains both stand alone meditations as well as some courses, which consist of a series of meditations you complete over a set period of time.
Lastly, I liked that you can filter and sort through their content in several different ways. You can filter by time and select meditations that last as little as two minutes or as long as an hour and a half.
You can select meditations aimed at improving sleep, reducing stress, strengthening relationships, bolstering self-confidence, increasing energy and many other benefits.
You can specify whether you want to hear a male or female voice and whether you want there to be background music or not. You can also include or exclude spiritual and religious content.
The app also includes music, lectures, stories, poems, interviews, podcasts, readings, and soundscapes. You can also set a timer for self-guided meditation that you can customize with chimes and bells and various ambient sounds including nature sounds and music.
Of course the first thing you need to do is download the app from the App Store or Google Play depending on what type of device you have.
Next, you should create an account. Though you can access some free content right away, you can’t access all of it unless you create an account.
Creating an account involves three simple steps: enter your name, email address and a password.
Be aware that by creating an account you are agreeing to their terms and conditions, which include a provision that all disputes be handled through binding arbitration as opposed to the courts.
Their terms also contain a disclaimer that they are not providing medical or other professional advice and because their content is general in nature, it may not be appropriate or relevant to your situation.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, though meditation is generally considered to be safe for most healthy people it may not be appropriate for people with certain mental or physical health conditions.
If you have an existing mental or physical health condition you should consult your health care provider before starting a meditative practice.
Browsing the app
After you create an account and adjust your profile settings to your liking, you can begin exploring all the app has to offer.
As you browse through the app, on occasion you will be prompted to sign-up for their subscription service in order to gain full access to whatever particular item you expressed interest in listening to.
Most of their courses seem to require a subscription as do their longer meditations. Additionally, the ability to rewind or fast forward through their content requires a subscription.
Cost of a subscription
Currently, an annual subscription costs $59.99 though you can start with a seven day free trial. Your subscription will renew automatically unless you disable auto-renew at least 24 hours before the date the subscription expires.
Disabling this feature is done in your App Store or Google Play account settings, not in the Insight Timer app.
If you are leery about signing up for a subscription because you have concerns about putting your credit card information at risk, read our post on Privacy.com, which can reduce that risk by adding a layer of protection.
Content providers range from those just starting out to seasoned veterans, so the quality of the content may vary.
Insight Timer does employ a quality control process that among other measures assesses the quality of the audio and images providers submit. Currently, it takes 8 to 10 weeks for new submissions to work their way through the approval process.
As payment for work they publish, Insight Timer allocates a portion of their subscription fees to content providers based on certain metrics. Should they choose to do so, providers also have the ability to accept donations directly from their listeners.
Giving it a try
As with anything new, it will take some time to get accustomed to meditating. Start small, with 5 to 10 minute sessions during a time of day you’re not likely to be disturbed. If possible, set aside the same time each day for your practice.
I started with the free course titled, “Learn How to Meditate in Seven Days.” Each session is ten minutes long and covers a different aspect of meditation, which due to my schedule worked best for me to listen to in the evening.
At first you may feel awkward and self-conscious. You may find that your thoughts wander and you may question why you are attempting to spend even just ten minutes sitting still when there are so many other more important things you need to do.
That’s when you need to remember that self-care is important and that meditating for just a few short minutes each day is one way you can take care of yourself.
So why not give it a try? It may not beat taking a bubble bath, but it could end up being the next best thing.
If you are an experienced meditation practitioner and have some tips and suggestions for those of us who are just starting out, we would certainly appreciate it if you would share them in the comments section below.