Just because we are working from home, it doesn't mean the stress of daily life has lessened at all. Our frenetic, always-on lives are impacting negatively on our health and wellbeing, especially with recent world events. 

    People all over the world want to know how to lower stress and anxiety levels. The simple answer is to do nothing. More specifically, to completely clear the mind of all distractions for 10 to 20 minutes every day – which also happens to be hardest for anyone living in the modern world. This is where immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experiences are transforming the wellness industry.

    Seeing is believing

    The benefits of regular meditation are widely known: Reduced stress and anxiety, improved focus and concentration, and more. Meditation apps are some of the fastest-growing apps today and VR isn’t doing so bad either. Futuresource Consulting predicts the VR market is expected to reach 98.4 million sales by 2023, with 168 million units in circulation worldwide. While many remain sceptical about whether the technology will catch on, these VR apps can help you make up your own mind:

    Guided Meditation VR offers 15 hours of guided meditations in more than 30 relaxing locations, including beach-themed Costa Del Sol. The meditations are being used in corporate wellness programmes, dental practices, and to help first responders deal with stress.

    Available on HTC Vive, Gear VR, Oculus Rift, and Window Mixed Reality HMD.

    Virtual Reality makes meditation possible even in high-energy workspaces. Vodafone in Iceland has used Flow VR to help employees focus the mind, access positive energy and inspiration, and increase productivity.

    Available on Gear VR and Oculus Go.

    Provata VR is a guided meditation app that uses biometrics from wearable devices, such as your heart rate to understand which meditative experiences, locations and times of day work best for users. Founded by digital health company Provata Health, the app is their attempt to pioneer a new category of digital health: Virtual Reality Preventive Care.

    Available on iOS.

    Esqapes Immersive Relaxation replicates a day spa using a VR headset and massage chair, whereas with RelaxVR traditional spas combine VR with existing treatments, as a standalone service or to help customers unwind before a treatment.

    EvolVR offers group meditation and yoga in peaceful VR environments. Enabling users to connect to a larger community from the comfort of their home is especially helpful for people who suffer from social anxiety or disabilities.

    Therapy is going digital

    Beyond relaxation, health professionals are discovering a range of applications in healthcare. There are 300+ peer-reviewed studies that show VR is effective in the treatment of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). VR solutions Bravemind and Omni Life VR use the technology in exposure therapy. Patients are placed in simulations that evoke stressful emotions or memories, and then confront their fears with the guidance of a therapist. From soldiers suffering PTSD and people afraid of heights to stimulating the minds of the elderly, VR is changing psychological therapy. And it’s proving the case for a new form of digital therapeutics or ‘software as medicine’.

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    Atka Young