COVID-19

Meditation apps have been booming during the pandemic

Kristin Schwab Nov 6, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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Trying to keep calm during these stressful times? You're not alone. FatCamera via Getty Images
COVID-19

Meditation apps have been booming during the pandemic

Kristin Schwab Nov 6, 2020
Trying to keep calm during these stressful times? You're not alone. FatCamera via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Feeling a little anxious these days? Perhaps anxious about much of the uncertainty we’ve been talking about for the last several months?

Well, people are finding their own ways of dealing with the stress. One is mental health and meditations apps, an industry that’s projected to be worth $2 billion by 2022.

Chelsea Harley’s mind is running laps.

“Between the elections happening right now, race wars and police brutality, it’s so chaotic,” she said.

Harley, 24, lives in Atlanta. A couple weeks ago, she downloaded the meditation app Calm. “It’s like a sigh of relief,” Harley said, sighing. “You know what I mean? It brings a point of peace.”

One of her favorite features is the celebrity-led meditations. Scottie Pippen talks you through his basketball journey. Lucy Liu reads you a story. And Matthew McConaughey puts you to sleep.

A Calm subscription costs $69.99 a year, and the app’s been downloaded 80 million times. It jumped to the top of Apple’s Health and Fitness category right after Election Day. Other apps like Headspace, Reflectly and Sleepiest aren’t far behind.

“If there’s one thing these simple practices can do, they can train attention,” said Richard Davidson, founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He said they can also help with loneliness, depression and anxiety — all made worse by the pandemic. 

Anindya Ghose, professor of information, operations and management sciences at NYU Stern, said poor access to health care and higher smartphone penetration has made health the fastest-growing app category. And it’s trending away from fitness and nutrition and toward mindfulness. Plus, these interactive apps are getting better.

“The features that were available in mobile apps five years back are a lot more rudimentary compared to what we have now,” he said.

Because when you boil it down, these companies aren’t just app makers. They’re content creators.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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