Disclosure: This post contains a review of a stress-free app to help you become and keep calm.
Keeping to a routine is hard – maybe you need an app
I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to keep something going. For instance, I love going to Zumba and try to go every Saturday. I enjoy it when I’m there but why do I find it so hard once Saturday morning rolls around to motivate myself to actually leave the house? It’s the same with my 15 minute mindful meditation. I absolutely love doing this and want to practise daily but life just keeps getting in the way.
My daily routine depends on whether it’s a school day, nursery day or working day, and even then these days change so much thanks to illness or holidays. So yes, I’ve tried to build my mindful habit and am doing my best to remember to fit ‘being mindful’ in on top of everything else.
When I do find the time to sit down and practise calm breathing for a few minutes, great. But once I start meditating, I kind of forget what to do and get distracted.
I was asked to review this ‘Be Stress Free’ app by Thrive. Anything that will help me kick my practice into gear is good in my book. Plus I’ve been meaning to try a mindful-based app for a while now.
Created by experienced psychiatrists, Be Stress Free is clinically proven to help manage stress and anxiety if used regularly. It takes a fun approach by giving the tools a ‘games’ feel. The app lets you track your mood over time, helps you train your thoughts so you can better manage different situations, and guides you in relaxation techniques to control stress.
I found it easy to sign up and was impressed by the calming music and cute graphics which really grab the attention. The look is different from anything I’ve seen on other sites and adds a sense of fun rather than being clinical. The background music is soothing. For me, the use of island noises – the lapping waves is perfect. If you’ve seen my previous post on how mindfulness soothed my panic attack, you’ll know that the peaceful place I use now is a castle by the sea, so I felt instantly calm and at home here.
There are several options on your ‘first island’. I tried clicking self-hypnosis first but found I needed to complete an earlier exercise first. I clicked on that and was told I needed to complete the previous exercise first. Grrr, slightly annoying. Maybe these options could be grayed out until you’ve completed in the correct order rather than looking like they’re available? A minor point though.
Each option lets you see the key benefits of that practice with a link to psychological studies as evidence. Or you can dive straight in and start using.
I love that you can pick your timings for calm-breathing and meditation so you can easily fit it into your schedule or take longer should you have more time. There is introductory commentary on each tool to help you start using it which is good for beginners. I did find this annoying after I’d heard it several times (the same commentary plays each time you use the tool), especially the meditation one. It would be better if there was a meditation timer included to use once you’ve got the hang of it.
After speaking with the developers, they are designing new features based on user feedback and are hoping to incorporate advanced settings. It’s refreshing to know that feedback and the user experience is taken seriously; a definite plus point.
It’s a personalised system too – not a ‘one tool fits all’ approach. You can track your moods and get recommendations for which tools to use based on how you’re feeling. I found this very helpful – almost like having a little therapist in your ear guiding you.
I kind of like tracking my moods too. I suffer from mood swings; not so much now I’ve been practising mindfulness, but it can still make life difficult. Looking back at how I was feeling on a particular day and checking my bullet journal to see what I was doing has been invaluable in helping me understand triggers to my bad moods. The app also guides you by asking what may have triggered a particular episode and provides alternative ways of thinking.
My favourite experience with the Be Stress-Free app came after using it for a couple of weeks. I sat in the garden first thing in the morning on a lovely sunny day and practised the calm breathing followed by self-hypnosis. I swear for a few seconds I felt so calm and happy. It must have stirred a memory in me as it reminded me of being a child at a time when I felt completely carefree with no stress or anxiety. It was amazing.
Apps are the way forward in creating a stress-free routine
While I found some gripes with the app, the benefits far outweighed them. I found that I wanted to keep using the tools. I have a Windows Phone which no one seems to want to make cool apps for, so I ended up using Be Stress-Free on my laptop before downloading it to my husband’s phone to make it more portable.
I want to keep using it and hope that the creators do add a meditation timer feature. It’s helped me re-establish my meditation routine and I’ve even used the calm breathing technique on my own when needed, for example if I’m having trouble getting to sleep and my mind won’t stop whirring.
Overall thoughts of the Be Stress-Free app:
The great bits:
Beginners and those who’ve been practising calm techniques for a while but need to re-establish their routine.
User-friendly with cute graphics and soothing music.
Range of tools, not just meditation.
All tools are clinically proven to reduce anxiety and stress.
Could be better:
Making it more obvious on first use that you need to start with calm breathing before moving on.
Same commentary each time can be a little annoying once you’ve heard several times.
A meditation timer would make the app perfect and good for advanced users
Would I recommend it? Definitely! The relaxing island away from the frantic world draws you in and the techniques are user-friendly without being overtly therapeutic.
In my opinion, anything that can help you establish a calm, self-care routine is worth its weight in gold.