Americans are 8 times more likely to suffer from serious mental distress now than we were a few years ago. At this moment in time, we’re not only concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, but also confronting a historic economic downturn and suffering the psychological consequences of racial injustice and dealing with widespread social unrest. Fortunately, there are many resources available to support us through these challenges, including a growing wave of online therapy. There’s also Core, a meditation app that pairs with a physical device you can hold in your hands.
Since March 2020 and the beginning of Covid-19 shelter-in-place orders in the US, Core has seen the average number of users who are meditating near daily each week increase by 4x, as compared to February 2020. In this short span of time, daily engagement with the app has increased substantially. The proportion of users who use the app at least five days a week has increased fourfold.
Grounded in science and driven by data, Core helps you understand how your body responds to meditation and tracks your progress over time, helping you build focus and self-awareness. Launched in January 2020, Core is the brainchild of Sarah McDevitt, a former athlete and engineering product manager turned entrepreneur and mental health advocate. From game day anxiety to everyday work pressure, McDevitt, like so many of us, has struggled to maintain her mental health. She has experienced panic attacks and the additional physical ailments stress can cause. While seeking a natural solution for stress-relief, she discovered meditation.
With a background in math and computer science as well as an MA in education, McDevitt saw a lack of data-driven analytics and methodology in the art of meditation. While an athlete on the basketball team at NYU, she always meticulously tracked her progress and performance. She realized that she could utilize the same approach with meditation, and therefore designed Core to close the gap. Core is what she dubs “a meditation trainer” – a handheld device that comes with an accompanying app to track your heart rate and stress levels. Vibrations help guide you to a more tactile meditation experience.
Here, McDevitt offers simple tips for maintaining your mental health during the pandemic, protests, environmental disasters, and other crises that are troubling us now, as well as the normal stresses of everyday life.
1) Meditate. The number one tool for maintaining mental health for me is meditating. Every morning, I sit up in bed and do a quick breathing session with Core. It lets me check in with myself by delivering a biometric wellness score.
2) Write things down. When I record my thoughts – especially the funny, bizarre, and tough experiences of the day – it reminds me to be present for this historic phase the world is going through.
3) Stay connected. It’s important to stay in contact with others, even if only virtually – and especially with people who give you lots of positive energy. I’ve been encouraging our employees to do this. We have virtual happy hours and watercooler hangouts on our calendars. I’ve been asking everyone to take the time they need for themselves and their families. We can’t bring our whole selves to work if we let the other things slip.
4) Get vulnerable. When I chat with friends or coworkers on video calls, I like to share my low points as well as my highs, because everyone can relate. When the struggle is real, these conversations allow me to focus on what a deeply human experience this is — how complex we humans and our lives are, and how meaningful it is to feel things really deeply.
5) Move. I try to go for runs or do some sort of exercise every day. I’ll even get up in between video calls and jump around for 10 seconds. Not only will it bring some levity to long days, but also I find that melting into my home workspace for call after call does not help me bring my most confident energy to my meetings.
Currently, Core is providing free Instagram Live meditation sessions twice a day during the workweek. McDevitt has long been a firm believer in meditation, and during this stressful time, she believes that we need a community to support our efforts more than ever.