With many people spending more time at home than ever before, 2020 was a year in which people took full advantage of mindfulness aids to help create a sense of calm in the world.
According to data published by Quartz, mindfulness apps alone generated over $1.1bn (£734m) in 2020, with over 2500 separate meditation apps launching since 2015 onto popular mobile devices.
With many people working remotely, and online therapists helping to reach more people than ever before, it is important to ask what place mindfulness aids have to help with our mental health.
What Is Mindfulness?
More a state of mind than a treatment necessarily, mindfulness is the awareness of ourselves in a particular moment, both inside and outside. With how quickly people are working and thinking, it can be easy to lose touch how we are feeling, and it is important to slow down and live in the moment.
The term can refer to the state of mind but it often refers to exercises that bring us to that state of mind, primarily in the form of meditation.
Guided meditation is the primary way in which many of us have experienced mindfulness. A common exercise is to sit or lie back, close your eyes and focus on every aspect of our breathing. This naturally helps to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as provide a sense of calm and relaxation.
There is a connection between mindfulness and improved mental health, reduced stress, anxiety and several other health benefits, both physical and mental.
This has led to mindfulness being adopted in schools and workplaces, with guided classes helping to relieve stress and improve productivity, in part because they allow for the time and space for students and employees to disconnect from elements that are upsetting them.
How Do Mindfulness Apps Work?
Typically, mindfulness apps provide a range of guided meditation exercises to their users, typically with either a limited-time trial or a small range of material that can be added to either through subscription or microtransactions.
Some apps offer other services that are more geared towards general health and wellness, with mindfulness being a particular tool they use to achieve that goal.
They provide a wide range of guided meditation content, which is intended to help achieve certain goals. There are morning meditation recordings to help reduce stress and evening meditations to help people to fall asleep, as well as other health content such as workouts and soundscapes.
As many of these apps and websites can be accessed on mobile devices, they allow for some kind of mindfulness exercise anywhere. Different apps have taken advantage of this and created meditations for walking, commuting and eating.
Mindfulness apps do have their place in general wellness and can benefit people in the same ways other mindfulness settings can, but it is important to bear in mind that different apps will benefit different people more.
Some feature gamification elements which can motivate some people and discourage others, as well as notifications and reminders. It is important when using a mindfulness aid to ensure that the tool you use works for you and not the other way around.