Just Breathe: Mindfulness Apps in a Pressured Time
Pre-pandemic, our phones could be a source of anxiety. But now, at a very anxious time indeed, we are turning to them as a source of comfort. A seemingly limitless supply of help awaits in the palm of your hand. Looking for ways to adjust, cope, and rise above? Our smartphones connect us to a never-ending barrage of how to’s: How to stay fit; lead a flawless Zoom meeting; keep an eye on your research team; attend a virtual class; home school; stay productive; pick up dinner curbside; raise chickens. Countless tips and tricks are available to move us forward together while keeping us safely at a distance.
Yet, while we’re safely apart, staring at that screen, anxiety and panic swirl in our heads. Weather analogies come close to describing the onslaught of COVID-19 information: tornado, hurricane, avalanche, tidal wave, etc. Too much, all the time. Our minds spiral to the depths. Sleeping is difficult.
Meditation might help. And of course, there’s an app for that–over 2,000, in fact, according to Headspace, one of the leaders in the mindfulness app race.
A recent article in Adweek reported that meditation apps are seeing a significant spike in downloads. Many are responding to the demand by creating content specifically geared towards coronavirus-related stress:
Headspace offers a curated selection of meditations, available for free, called Weathering the Storm. The entire Headspace collection is free for healthcare workers.
Simple Habit recently announced that they would be making premium membership free through the end of April, as well as offering new meditation collections specifically geared towards coronavirus-related anxiety.
The non-profit PsyberGuide provides expert reviews on mental health apps (both credibility and user experience) and offers solid recommendations.
I downloaded Calm (another top dog) to experience a mindfulness app for myself. LeBron James provided me with a soothing, 10-minute “Intro to Mental Fitness” session. I now receive a daily “mindfulness reminder” on my phone. Today’s, in tranquil blue font, reads: “To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” Just what the doctor ordered.
Scott Rosenberg, Backchannel/Wired contributor, noted in a pre-pandemic blog post : “Some people need to become monks to tune out the world; others pursue tranquility from inside the chaos of life. Smartphones just confront us with the latest version of this choice.”
To cope, the experts advise us to “Connect, Connect, Connect!” Their drumbeat is relentless. Rather, we might consider disconnecting for a bit. Download a mindfulness app that works for you and relax into the simple act of inhaling and exhaling. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.