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As mental health conditions over Coronavirus deteriorates, meditation apps see a surge in downloads

Tendency to meander can be a treasured result from using a meditation app, it’s not the only benefit to witness. There are many bonuses the users are likely to get and here are those improvements

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We are a part of unprecedented situations, and with it has come unprecedented anxiety, panic disorders, and depression. The crisis of 2020 has taken the problem of mental health illness to entirely new levels for people all over the world, especially the working class who are trying to stay productive at their homes, surrounded by spouses, aged parents, and young children who can’t step out or socialize. In a statement released by the WHO on World Mental Health Day, October 10th, 2020, the demand for mental health service worldwide has increased multifold because of COVID-related “isolation, bereavement, fear, and loss of income,” coupled with the disruption of critical services in over 93% of countries across the globe. 

For several years, mental disorders have proven to be one of the world’s most prevalent health issues, approximately affecting over 970 million people globally, or say, 15 percent of the world population. However, owing to the social stigma and lack of access to mental health services, people are largely turning to meditation apps to seek relief from anxiety and stress. Most importantly, these meditation and mindfulness apps, with their short sessions of 5 or even 10 minutes, have proven to help people function. The one’s at the receiving end have affirmed time and again that it’s almost like shifting the mind gear back into a neutral, tranquil state, which eventually enables the individual to function optimally! 

It has been estimated that up to 85 percent of people around the world battling mental disorders in low and middle-income countries receive no treatment. The situation is marginally better in high-income countries, where about 50 percent of people are in a similar dilemma. And naturally, due to lack of awareness or fear of being shunned by the community, along with the growing popularity of these applications as well as easy and convenient access for help in a rather unconventional place – the smartphones - people are starting to leverage its benefits more and more.   

The time and age of seeking gratifications from smartphones

Every generation is getting gradually more mobile-native, and thus, people are becoming more accustomed or in other words, predisposed, to a greater level of comfort in seeking care virtually. In recent years, the count of smartphone apps focused on meditation and mental wellness has increased significantly. As per a report issued by Zion Market Research, the global mental health software industry was worth $1.35 billion in 2017 and is anticipating to touch $4.58 billion by 2026. The ease of use and convenience in terms of attaining services has made these apps particularly important in areas where access to such offerings is non-existent or limited. Meditation apps, especially, have become remarkably popular with consumers. In fact, a lot of these Indian meditation and mental wellness apps are finding global takers, predominantly after the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Applications of this nature offer deep breathing exercises, guided meditation, and soothing sleep stories to help people feel less anxious, relax, and sleep better. Currently, there are over 1000 meditation apps in the market, and together they generate revenue worth millions of dollars each year. Apps like Wysa, Let’s Meditate, the Sadhguru, and Innerhour have picked up users from world-over, even as international apps such as Petit BamBou, Headspace, and Calm continue to dominate the market with nothing less than ten million users collectively. Moreover, of late, many organizations are recognizing that mental health for employees is a must-have instead of a nice to have. 

Unexpected benefits of using meditation applications

Bringing down your mind’s tendency to meander can be a treasured result from using a meditation app, it’s not the only benefit to witness. There are many bonuses the users are likely to get and here are those improvements – 

1. Stronger social relationships

Smartphone-based meditation and mindfulness training through apps have the power to alleviate the feeling of isolation and loneliness and encourage individuals to participate in social interactions. After two to three weeks of using one of the many apps, most of the participants who have so far accessed such platforms have confirmed having witnessed lesser loneliness by as much as 22% and better social contact, in an average of two interactions per day.

2. Less stress

Research published in Psych neuroendocrinology found that those who make use of meditation apps on a regular basis master the art of stress management and handle the situation better even when they are in a pressure-filled environment. The same study found evidence that meditation apps reduce systolic blood pressure and cortisol levels in response to stress. 

3. Improved memory

With so much information to consume on a regular basis, it’s not just difficult to focus; it’s equally tough to remember what we learn – and a meditation app helps in this case. Memory tests performed on users of such apps have shown drastic changes in brain functions that back memory improvement. 

Reaping the benefits of these apps is often compared to the process of building a muscle; the longer the training lasts, the stronger and better the outcome gets!

How meditation can help kids and teenagers during lockdown!

As critical mindfulness is for adults, it holds even more importance for kids and teenagers alike: it can aid stave off tantrums and better sleep in toddlers, improve concentration, ease anxiety, and provide an antidote to complete digital immersion. Meditation, quite literally, may mean about being in the present, but it also shows children to access their feelings – the good, the ugly, the bad – to be more grateful and appreciative and to calm themselves as well as switch their perspective from a pessimistic space to a positive one. Importantly, most of these mindfulness apps targeted towards children and teens, are built on the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and there’s a lot of evidence that these strategies work! 

An overview of meditation apps through a different lens

Less stress, elimination of anxiety, or dimed depressive state aren’t the only results we can wish to attain through our virtual contemplative practice. Several studies have compared users who access meditation or mindfulness apps to those who didn’t use any of them at all. After training for 20 to 25 minutes a day for about a month, participants reported a reduction in the wandering of mind, minimal symptoms of depression, and a boost in their positive emotions. Not only that, in 2017, a team of researchers conducted a study that compared a meditation app with a conservative, in-person mindfulness class. It was noticed that the app users eventually improved their mindfulness skills as opposed to those who attended a physical class weekly once or twice. The ability to not overact and act with awareness to general thoughts and feelings was found better in the former. They also felt less burnout and fatigue whilst performing their day-to-day activities, compared to class attendees.   

Are meditation apps likely to take over the future of mental healthcare?

The frantic pace of modern life, the depressing nature of social media, the 24-hour news cycle, the increasing death rate due to the coronavirus, and climate change-related stress have caused a major increase in anxiety as well as depression around the world. As a result, the popularity of meditation apps has risen significantly in recent years. The services offered by these apps have proved effective in assuaging symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, it’s crucial to note that they aren’t viewed as a replacement, instead a complement to conservative mental healthcare, so everyone can live their healthiest life! 


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