Are Mindfulness Apps Effective?

  • 4 mins read
  • Wellbeing
  • Written by: Dr. Jatin Bhide

Technology rules our lives right now. Our days start and end with staring at a screen. Every day we hear about some new tech advancements that can ease our lives. No doubt, our lives have been simplified by technology. But it has also complicated a few aspects.

Stress: The dark side of the moon

Remember when you were supposed to sleep at 10 p.m. but ended up scrolling through Instagram till the crack of dawn? Or the anxiety when you were playing Call of Duty with your college mates? Or even when you were glued to your laptop, working all night to meet a deadline? We’re sure you’ve experienced at least one of these at some point in your life (unless you live in a parallel universe with no internet). All of these are causes of stress – the dark side of technology.

Despite its benefits, one can’t deny that technology has brought in some detrimental changes to our mental and physical health. It is very well known that stress has a negative influence on the immune system. This makes stress management a critical issue.  The question is – how to tackle this problem?

Fighting fire with fire

Has not technology brought stress in your life? No problem. Fight it with technology!

There have been well-established benefits of mindfulness meditation. A wealth of mindfulness apps have hit the app stores in recent years. Few studies have evaluated their effectiveness. These apps can provide positive outcomes on several matters that affect our stress levels. Meditation in itself can develop resilience and strengthen our immune system. With this in mind, let’s have a look at some of the benefits of mindfulness apps.

  • Burn out that burnout

Constant anxiety, long hours, and pressure have been common causes of burnout amongst many students and working professionals. Stress reduction can decrease inflammation in our bodies and give a boost to our immune systems.

Mindfulness apps have been proven to reduce stress in college students and working professionals.

  • No guts, no glory

Our gut has a plethora of microorganisms called the gut microbiota. These are important to maintain our immune system. Stress can upset the balance of these microbes and negatively affect our immunity. Apps that perform mindfulness-based stress reduction can help maintain healthy gut microbiota and also the immune system.

  • Loving yourself

At times, we’re too hard on ourselves – be it a failure on a small test, or when you get into a fight, or about something your boss said to you. We must remember that self-compassion is very important during such times, not only for our emotional well-being but also for physical health and immunity.

According to a study on stressed college students, mindfulness apps can boost self-compassion. This can lower substances called interleukins in our body, thus reducing inflammation and improving our immunity.

With this said, we have a formula for you (don’t fret, it won’t be on your next test!) – Loving yourself = Taking care of yourself.

Now, remember these apps don’t work miracles. Unless you use them regularly, you can’t reap their benefits. Studies indicate many users fail to use the apps beyond 90 days. This could be because they lose interest, abandon their health goals, etc. With everything being available at our fingertips, we surely can take some time out for ourselves. Once you’ve started on the journey, don’t wander off. Amazing results await you at the end of this road.

References:

  1. Huberty J, et al. Efficacy of the mindfulness meditation mobile app “calm” to reduce stress among college students: Randomized controlled trial. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2019;7(6):e14273.
  2. Roquet CD, et al. Evaluating mindfulness meditation apps. In CHI 2018 Late-Breaking Abstract. 2018;1-6.
  3. Phillips WJ, et al. Self-compassion, physical health, and health behaviour: a meta-analysis. Health Psychol Rev. 2021;15(1):113-39.
  4. Train your brain to boost your immune system. Available from: https://www.mindful.org/train-brain-boost-immune-system/. Accessed on 22 April 2021.
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