As stress levels rise with COVID-19, more and more people are turning to technology to help them find moments of respite and peace.
If there’s ever been a moment—at least in this lifetime—when we’ve needed the stress-reducing benefits of meditation, it’s during a global pandemic. Research published in April in the America’s State of Mind Report detailed the toll that COVID-19 has taken on the country’s mental health. According to the report, by mid-March, more than 75 percent of all antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and anti-insomnia medications were new prescriptions.
We also know that the meditation market in the U.S. is booming—and valued at 1.2 billion dollars. In April, downloads of mental health apps surged by 2 million compared to January, totaling close to 10 million downloads by the end of the month, according to a report from Sensor Tower. And leading these downloads were meditation apps, including the Calm app in the number one spot with 3.9 million downloads, Headspace in second place with 1.5 million downloads, and Meditopia in third with 1.4 million downloads.
Then on July 20, Snapchat launched a series of mini meditations in partnership with Headspace, similar to the app’s “The Wakeup,” which launched earlier this year and features short, 3–5 minute videos that help listeners set a mindful tone for the day ahead. The Snapchat meditations, which are also quick bursts of mindfulness, are unique and timely in the sense that they allow the user to connect with their friends on the social platform and meditate together.
For those who meditate, whether seated on a cushion just before dawn, in the middle of the workday with an app and headphones on, or on a walk through the woods for a moment of respite, these practices may have been your saving graces in recent months.
There are so many good reasons to meditate—from increasing patience, tolerance, and empathy, to boosting creativity and immunity, to lengthening telomeres, reducing anxiety, depression, and yes, stress, for a longer life and a healthier heart. Any meditator can attest to the profound effects the practice has had on their well-being and capacity for stress-management.
If you’re new to meditation and want to learn more about how to manage your stress, read this Beginner’s Guide to Meditation or download the new YJ+ app, which features meditations from your favorite teachers. Your mind—and your heart—will thank you.