Adweek: Meditation Apps Are Becoming a Source of Zen in an Overstressed World

Calm, Headspace and Mindfulness gain popularity

By Christine Birkner

As stress levels rise and attention spans shrink, consumers are increasingly using technology to tap into Zen. Approximately 18 million Americans practice meditation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and, much like yoga, meditation apps are exploding in the marketplace.

Apps like CalmHeadspace and The Mindfulness App offer both monthly and yearly subscriptions. Meditation sessions, which can be customized by length and according to mood, are dedicated to improving physical and emotional well-being, increasing focus, managing stress and getting a better night’s sleep.

Meditation is based on principles of Buddhism and has been practiced for thousands of years, but its current popularity is due, in part, to decreased stigmas around discussing mental health, said Alex Tew, co-founder and co-CEO of Calm, which averaged 30,000 new users per day in the last year.

“For a long time, people associated meditation with spirituality or religion or general weirdness,” Tew explained. “But now, in some places, it’s almost a badge of honor to meditate, which is a total 180 shift. Especially in Silicon Valley, it’s surprising if somebody doesn’t meditate. It’s the same as physical exercise—it’s becoming a bigger trend because people are realizing that it’s good for them.”

There’s also an increasing realization about how emotional well-being impacts physical health. Forty-six percent of U.S. consumers say that keeping a positive mindset is one way they manage their overall health, and 40 percent say that stress is their main source of body pains, like headaches and backaches, according to Mintel.

“People are getting more savvy about how chronic stress can lead to chronic ill health,” said Carli Gernot, manager of trends, North America at Mintel.

The turbulent political climate is also playing a part in these apps’ growing popularity. “Increasingly, people are dissatisfied with the direction of the country, and if they’re stressed out about what’s going on, these apps can help them be more present and manage stress,” said Alexis Fragale, director of consumer insights at Mindshare North America. Calm’s Tew, meanwhile, noted that his app’s downloads have doubled in the months following Trump’s election.

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Posted on February 21, 2017 .