I started using the Thrive: Feel Stress Free app about four weeks ago. As someone whose job is a live in position, it can sometimes feel like there are not enough minutes in the day to complete all the tasks on the to do list, let alone to take the time to consider how I might be feeling mentally. This means that after a few consecutive days sat at a computer, not getting enough hours sleep, fresh air or social time away from the work environment, there comes ‘one of those days’. ‘Those days’ typically start with sleeping in, presumably because my body needs to catch up on those extra hours it has missed, and then my brain getting angry that I will now get absolutely nothing done. Clearly only days that start early in the morning can be productive! So whilst the voice in my head is wagging it’s finger and talking down to me, of course I haven’t moved a muscle and am still laying there willing myself to swing my legs out of bed but wanting to cocoon myself in the duvet and stay there all day.
At this point I really should get moving, because if I get up and get dressed I always feel more ready to embrace the day, but of course it is grey and dull out. Now rather than take a day off or head out to do something in the city, I tell myself I need to spend another day on my computer doing work or online courses because I’m obsessed with making sure I’m upping my CV and keeping myself busy. Therefore, by the end of the day, I have neither relaxed, nor got any fresh air, nor moved much at all.
I came to the conclusion that it would be good to have something to hand which would not only help me to recognize why I’m feeling the way that I am, but also to give advice and suggest some activities in order to improve my mental well being.
The Thrive: Feel Stress Free app, designed by Dr Andreas Fonseca and Dr Adam Huxley, is “an evidence-based app for the prevention, screening and self-management of stress, anxiety and other mental health conditions” (thrive.uk.com) According to the Thrive website;
1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime
75% of mental health problems are established before the age of 24
So clearly there is a market for this kind of service, but what makes this app stand out from others available? In doing some research on what kind of support it offers, I was particularly drawn to the mood metre. When it comes to the advice that people, websites or apps suggest to those with mental health conditions, often it can be very generalized; suggesting advice that just does not suit a persons particular lifestyle. In this app it will firstly ask you the big question; “how are you feeling?” to which rather than trying to tick a specific box, I just drag the slider to nearer a sunshine symbol or nearer a rain cloud symbol.
It will then ask me “What is causing you to feel this way?” for which some of the suggested answers are; health, studies, how you look, relationship/friendship problems, feeling unsafe traveling and problems at work. There were even some suggestions that I did not even consider being a cause of my stress. Usually we know the obvious source of the problem i.e. if you know that you have worked more hours than usual then this could be a key factor, however just like the case when speaking to a counselor, often other causes are raised, such as the well-being of a family member, that you did not know was even affecting you. The app will then ask you a series of further questions based on what aspect of each cause to your stress is affecting you the most, ie if you are struggling at work, is it because you are taking more of the workload than your colleagues or is this you are underpaid. It will then give suggestions of practical tasks and activities for you to complete each day in order to relieve some of that built up anxiety. These are set out like goals, one is within the app, one is a physical activity and one is health related, and congratulates you on achieving them.
Additionally in the ‘well-being guides’ section of the app, it then lists your known trigger factors for stress and anxiety, and tailors it’s information and advice to support you through those particular problems.
Whilst it does teach you some of the clinically proven techniques that have been known to aid many mental health problems such as meditation, deep breathing and body scanning (these have their own section of the app), it is also so nice to have suggestions for how you can change my lifestyle in order to make things better. For anyone who likes to be productive and others who often need to see things from a practical aspect, these steps and suggestions are incredibly helpful. There is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ mental health problem so obviously there’s no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ cure or way of dealing with it.
I particularly like the way that the progress chart is set out. Just like in the mood metre, the better days are highlighted with a sunshine symbol, the not so good days have a rain cloud and days in between have a sun appearing from behind the clouds. I like this because often reading the words ‘more anxious’ or ‘less anxious’ is a reminder that I have anxiety but doesn’t really determine how I felt on that particular day. The same goes for numbers and percentage. How is anyone supposed to rate how he or she feels out of ten? The weather symbols are so much easier to understand because often the not so great days can feel like there is a dark cloud hanging over you and as the days start to get easier, the metaphor of a sun appearing from behind the clouds could not be more appropriate in describing what it feels like to come on the other side. On this chart, it’s easier to recognise that there will be better days and worse days, but that you got through each one. It also reminds you of the particular activities that worked best for you on that day based on what caused you the most concern.
Generally, in terms of the look and feel of the app, it is very easy to use and there is a lot of content on it. It can set you daily reminders if you are one of those people that need them, has an element of fun to it and doesn’t feel like you are in therapy each day by using it. The app does recognise and states that it is not to be put in place of an actual counselor or therapist for those that need to seek professional help. However, for anyone that just needs some additional daily support, tasks and advice to relieve some stress and guidance in managing their mental health, this is a great option that deserves more recognition and I suggest to anyone give it a go.
Thrive offers monthly, quarterly and yearly subscriptions of the app at the above costs, however for anyone reading this blog; Thrive Therapeutic Software are offering a months free trial of the app by entering the coupon code: THRIVE1804 . Simply click here to sign up for the app and click the ‘I have a coupon’ button at the top of the screen.
So if you don’t believe me, give it a go for yourself and try the Thrive: Feel Stress Free app for month.
“Whether you are the 1 in 4 experiencing a mental health condition or just someone who wants to improve their mental well being; Thrive is here for you.”
This post is in partnership with Thrive Therapeutic Software and the Thrive: Feel Stress Free app.