By Sivan Avrahami, Analyst, Joy Ventures | Published in Geektime, March 20, 2020
Being isolated at home because of the Coronavirus is leading many to seek out technology solutions for emotional support and stress relief. Meditation apps, which offer specialized solutions for the current situation, are seeing rising use.
“We are living through an unprecedented time, which is also bringing with it unprecedented anxiety.” That’s how one of the news articles opened this week, and this sentence, like the time we are living in – is stressful, dramatic, and very real.
There are a lot of ways for us to relieve stress, like meeting people and engaging in activities outdoors – that are not available to us now. It seems that more and more people in the world are turning to technology to help with emotional issues, or, in other words – medication apps have never been more important.
If we look at the current time, and the past week and month, we see behavior change on both sides – a growing demand for meditation apps, and the making of relevant content more available, like free content and promotions, on the part of the providers.
Unique Content for the Current Situation
The Headspace app was one of the first to offer help, and targeted it to the population on the front lines, and is likely the most stressed not only physically, but also emotionally. The company announced that it would provide its premium content free to healthcare workers in public hospitals in the US, content that usually costs $13 a month. Those same doctors and nurses received access to the library of guided meditations, including a new one each day and a variety of meditations meant to induce sleep.
Headspace also created unique content, called Weathering the Storm, meant to help people all over the world lower their stress and anxiety levels during the Coronavirus. And speaking of relevant content, on the Company’s Instagram page you can find a 2-minute clip showing how to wash hands mindfully.
Additional companies are joining the fight against anxiety during this time. Mediation app Simple Habit announced it is making its premium membership, that usually costs $12 a month, free to “all those people who have been impacted by the pandemic and can no longer afford to pay.” This offer is available until the end of April.
Talkspace, and app founded by Israeli entrepreneurs Oren and Roni Frank, which offers online psychological treatment, announced that it is offering special discounts during this difficult time. In addition to discounts it too, like Headspace, is offering free services to healthcare workers.
The meditation app Breethe created an anxiety “package” for the Coronavirus – offering guided meditations specifically targeting anxiety created by Coronavirus – like economic worries or fear of loneliness. The company is offering these programs for the duration of the pandemic.
Calm, the leading meditation app in the world, is also planning an announcement, and the CEO has said that they are looking at ways to help the populations facing complex situations. Meanwhile the company is offering a number of premium meditations free.
Meditation Apps are Soaring
People are looking for solutions. Looking at internet searches from the past few days shows a pattern of searches for guided digital mediations and known apps. The search for meditation videos reached a peak in the UK two weeks ago and is on the rise in the US in the past couple of weeks. Search for the word Headspace is also rising in Italy and the US and is breaking records over the past three months.
People are also turning to app stores and we see a significant increase in the downloading of meditation apps. Breethe, for example, has jumped more than 31 spots to #40 since last week in the Health and Fitness category, according to App Annie. The meditation app BetterMe advanced 70 spots to position 26.
Lin Goldberg, founder and partner at Breathe, said the app started to show a sharp increase in downloads and interest in the past few days – especially after President Trump first talked about the banning of flights from Europe to the U.S. According to Goldberg, usage by existing users has also skyrocketed.
We are also seeing a shift in user behavior. A senior manager at Headspace reports that the number of people who completed the medication category “Stress” rose by a factor of 13, and the number of people who completed “Reframing Anxiety” jumped nine fold, in comparison to the previous 30 days.
Chat Apps for People in Corona Quarantine
We are forecasting that more content, new ideas and innovative directions specific to our current situation will appear. After all, the emotional challenges in this period don’t have to do just with stress and anxiety. One of the emotional difficulties is the loneliness that this situation is creating. Recently an app called QuarantineChat was launched, which is meant to connect between people who are in quarantine because of the Coronavirus, from different places in the world, and who want to talk to one another.
It’s nice to see the tango created by the emotional needs of the moment and the technology solutions that come at their heels. All that is left for us to do is find the content most helpful to us from everything on offer, in order to get through this time in the best possible way. ‘Survival of the Fittest’ – Corona style – will decide which apps are most effective and help us feel most calm.