I quite openly talk about my mental health on my blog and after keeping it secret for many years, it is something I’m relatively new at. As you may know, I have been diagnosed with severe depression, memory loss and I suffer with dissociation and anxiety. I struggle to cope with the demands of daily life and I’m constantly looking for new ways to improve my stress levels. Being a stay-at-home Dad, self-employed, working two jobs and having to juggle a lot within my personal and work life, I have quite a lot of my plate at the moment – so I definitely could use all the help I can get.
So, when I got offered a trial for ‘Feel Stress Free’, I jumped at the chance and I’m certainly willing to try almost anything once! But first, here’s a few bits about the app itself.
What is ‘Feel Stress Free’?
Thrive have created an app that is designed to help people with a range of mental health conditions who suffer with stress, anxiety as well as mild depression. ‘Feel Stress Free’ uses techniques that have been clinically proven to work – such as mindfulness and CBT. It definitely isn’t a ‘quick fix’ as research has found that it tends to work best when it has been used over the course of a few weeks – so it’s something you definitely need to stick at and be committed to before you see or feel any results.
Thrive have many psychiatrists and psychologists who have helped develop this app and by using this app you can start to see improvements with your stress levels.
Reading through the apps brochure, I found out that there are constant updates and additions to the content, which is great for keeping it new and improved as time goes on.
What I Thought
What I found great about this app is that you can use it on not only your phone but also on your tablet, laptop and desktop! At first, I thought it was going to be something I could only use on my phone so I was pleasantly surprised that you can literally use it wherever is easy for you at the time.
Once I logged in for the first time I noticed that there’s calming music being constantly played in the background. You are then given options to choose from: Breathing, Mediation, Deep Muscle and Self Hypnosis. I wanted to see what the breathing exercises were about first so I tried that out. But before you can get started with any of the exercises you are asked a series of questions to get to know what the root of the problem is. The system is very clear on the fact that while it uses ideas that have been based on tools used by health professionals, it does not under any circumstances replace the advice that a professional could give you. You are encouraged to seek help from your doctor and that this app is only there to help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety – not to give you a diagnosis.
Once you have answered your set of questions it then gives a rough idea of what mental health conditions you may be experiencing and it directs you to NHS, Samaritans etc – whoever it feels you may need help and guidance from. The app then recommends which techniques may suit you best – for example, I got suggested to use calm breathing for 5 minutes or mediation.
As you continue using the app there are often videos that pop up to explain how your thought process works, which may be influencing your mental health but you are able to skip these videos if you prefer.
Two things that I thought were really nice touches were the little ‘bot’ who acts as your guide, offers you tips on how to relax and is there if you ever need help navigating or using the app. I also liked that the entire app has been created on the background of a desert island and the background is fully moving – the sea ripples, the boat is bobbing in the water and there are birds flying over in the sky – things that I thought worked well with the calming music that is being played over the top. Thrive have clearly put the effort in to make it a calming place to visit and want to come back to. I wasn’t necessarily expecting anything quite like that, I half expected to find an app that simply offered some tips on how to relax and do a few breathing exercises. I was gladly proved wrong and you soon appreciate the effort they have put in to customise your experience.
While everyone will be recommended a range of different techniques, it is up to you to also choose what you would like to try out. I personally liked the breathing exercises as well as the self-hypnosis. Self-hypnosis is something I’ve done for years although I’ve never had any guidance on whether I’m doing it right, so it was amazing having someone guiding me and telling me what to do.
For the breathing exercises, there is a calm voice speaking to you and giving you directions on what to do. He usually asks you to sit back, relax and close your eyes and focus just on his voice and what he’s telling you. Within just a few short moments, you can’t help but feel instantly relaxed – the music playing, the soothing tone of his voice all work at letting you feel relaxed.
When to Use It
Ideally, you want to be using it when you have a few moments by yourself so you can turn up the volume and fully relax into it and follow the directions that are being given to you. As you can access it on any of your devices, it is perfect for using absolutely anywhere you are able to catch a few quiet moments.
Considering that you are giving out some very personal bits of data when using this app, it’s important that you understand how your data may be used, if at all. The system servers are entirely based in London and absolutely nothing is being outsourced which makes sure that no-one else can get hold of your data. It is also fully ICO registered and has been encrypted to ensure that your data is completely confidential.
If you would like to give it a try yourself, I have kindly been given a code that will give you free use of this app throughout June. Just use the code ‘FSSJUNE310617‘ when signing up and see for yourself!
If you do try it out, let me know what you think. I would love to hear your thoughts on the app!
Alternatively, if you feel that you could benefit from some additional help from a therapist online, Better Help are able to help you find one. Why not check it out and see whether they can be of any help for you?