COVID-19

Meditation apps have been booming during the pandemic

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

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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