It goes without saying that 2020 has been a year filled with unexpected stress. And when everything hits the fan all at once, how are Americans coping? Are they turning to meditation apps? Meditation in general? What about yoga? 

So far in 2020, CivicScience has asked more than 24,000 Americans about their experience with meditation apps to better understand stress reduction across the country. 

As the data show, usage and intention to use meditation apps have seen a slow and steady increase since the beginning of the year. More specifically, this number has risen from 18% in January 2020 to 21% at the end of July. Overall, awareness has increased (from 49% to 55%) although there are still a large number of consumers who aren’t interested in these apps.

And there’s a pretty strong feeling of how these apps will continue to impact daily life, with 14% believing that they’ll become prevalent and 7% believing that they’ll become common in the next few years.  

But the apps may not be the answer to everything, or the right solution for everyone. People who said they tried but didn’t like using these apps were actually more stressed out than people who tried and liked the apps as well as those who intended to try them. Additionally, those who plan to try them already show the highest amount of happiness. 

So while it’s clear that stressed individuals have sought relief through meditation apps, something about the experience doesn’t seem to retain many users who have a great need for peace of mind.

The Impact of WFH

As it stands, 25-54 year olds are the most likely to have used and liked meditation apps, with 35-54 year olds being the most interested in giving them a try.

With the additional stress of parenting during a pandemic, it may come as no surprise that parents–who likely also fall into the above age groups–have used them the most, while non-parents are the biggest intenders. 

Those working from home as a result of the pandemic also rank the highest in terms of meditation app users and approvers. 

The above data paints a relatively clear picture that adults–plenty of whom may be parents–who are now working from home, may be taking refuge in meditation apps. Those few minutes of quiet time could be their only opportunity to carve out a slice of calm amidst the storm of working and parenting simultaneously during the pandemic. 

Meditation Beyond the Screen

That said, meditation exists beyond meditation apps, and might be even more popular: 28% of Americans have tried and like meditation, while 17% are interested in giving it a try.

And those who have done meditation–not limited to an app–have been both slightly less stressed and a lot happier than those who have solely used the apps. 

Stress Reduction Beyond Meditation 

Of course, stress reduction is happening beyond the world of pure meditation. Americans have, in fact, done more yoga since the beginning of the pandemic as well. While 21% of Americans had tried and liked yoga before the pandemic (in late 2019), 25% now report a positive experience with it.

So what does all of this mean? Well, for starters, while individuals are turning to meditation apps, the apps are not always a permanent solution for what ails them. Instead, regular meditation and yoga–which have grown in popularity as a result of the pandemic–are gaining and retaining more fans for the long-term.