A new study has found that nearly 60 percent of people who subscribed to a popular meditation mobile app stopped using the app within a year. Mobile meditation apps are a helpful way to learn meditation and have been shown to reduce anxiety and stress. However, many people find that staying engaged with meditation and mindfulness apps can be challenging.
The study examined a random sample of 2600 new subscribers to the mobile app Calm in 2018. While 83 percent of people used the app at least one more day, by day 350, 58 percent of users had stopped using the app. For those who did continue to use the app, the average amount of meditation was about 4 minutes and about every 3 days.
Creating a new habit can be challenging and the benefits of meditation are not always immediate. Our digital attention span has also become bite-sized bits of 8 seconds or less. Some marketing teams have shown that our ability to stay engaged has shrunk from 12 seconds in 2000 to a mere 8 seconds in 2013. It’s likely even less now. This has created an even greater need to improve our attention span through practices like mindfulness, and yet finding a way to integrate mindfulness into one’s daily life can feel daunting.
Here are eight tips to keep a daily mindfulness practice going.
1. Build a little at a time—even one minute a day.
Start with practicing mindfulness for as little as one to five minutes a day. Listen to what your body and mind need, and go at your own pace. If it feels like time is the limiting factor, make it convenient and short so that it does not feel burdensome. Simple breathing techniques like 4-7-8 breathing or audio-guided meditations found at websites like the Free Mindfulness Project or on streaming services are accessible throughout the day.
2. Schedule a recurring time on the calendar for mindfulness.
Making time for your mindfulness practice starts with getting that time on the calendar. Scheduling the time is a helpful reminder and ensures the time for it exists—even if it is just five minutes—and lets others who have access to your calendar know that this is protected time. The key is to establish a regularity to the practice, so it feels like a natural part of your day.
When should you schedule this time? Ask yourself about your natural rhythm of stress—this can help you find the right time to schedule your practice. If you wake up feeling anxious, it can be useful to schedule the time as a morning meditation. If you tend to have difficulty with winding down at night and feel stressed before bed, body scan meditations are useful as part of your nighttime routine.