New anti-anxiety app launched during Covid-19

New anti-anxiety app launched during Covid-19

The new app, Calmer You, is a toolkit to help people manage anxiety

A global pandemic can be a major trigger for people who deal with anxiety, and even for those who don’t. Worrying about getting ill, concern for your family and friends, and whether or not you can get the food and supplies you need, are enough to keep you up at night.

It seems like now may be the best time to launch a new anti-anxiety app. Calmer You, founded by former head of research at Headspace, Nick Begley, and anti-anxiety author Chloe Brotheridge, launched in February, just before the spread of coronavirus started to hit countries such as the UK and US. Though that wasn’t necessarily what the two had in mind when they released the app into the world.

Calmer You focuses exclusively on tackling anxiety, Begley tells the Standard. It’s a multi-faceted problem and so we need an entire toolkit to help people tackle the ways it manifests.

I found the experience so beneficial, I decided to change my career and retrained in positive psychology and neuroscience, specialising in the neuroscience of mindfulness at UCL, he explains.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with anxiety and I had to work out what worked best for me. This is why as a therapist, I teach people many different techniques so they can find what works best for them, not just mindfulness, said Brotheridge.

Calmer You features tools and techniques such as CBT, diaphragmatic breathing, journaling and exercising, which can be used to calm worries, build self-esteem and improve productivity.  There’s a tracking feature to record your wellbeing daily, as well as levels of anxiety and depression. Begley says he hopes that people can curate their own experience of using the app to find what works for them.

At the moment, it’s more important than ever to shore up your mental health to deal with fears and anxieties around the coronavirus crisis. Since the app launched, the company has seen some people spending over 17 hours a month using the app to help them deal with this period of heightened anxiety. There’s been an increase in people using the workouts to exercise at home as well as the positive morning and evening reflections feature.

Each morning the app prompts you to think about what makes a great day and then what you’re grateful for in the evening, explains Begley. They are quick and easy practices to reframe your mind and see the positives in your day.

One way to cope is to develop a positive routine. Begley says his includes morning reflections and visiting Brighton beach with his partner for exercise as he lives nearby, as well as meditating about three times a week. He’s also only watching the news once a day in the evening. “Now more than ever, it’s crucial to understand our triggers, like watching the news, and realise what is in and out of your control. The app can help you get your worries out, identify which of them you can control and crucially what you can do about them, and which you can’t control and should let go of.”

Calmer You is free to use but access to premium features come with a £5.99 a month app subscription though the company has waived this for key health workers, including NHS staff and MSF workers, something other wellbeing platforms such as Unmind have done too.  There are also plans to launch a gratitude campaign, to help boost people’s wellbeing.

Research has shown it improves our self-esteem, reduces our negative emotions, improves our physical health, our relationships, and even helps us sleep, as well as lifting others. Just as viruses are contagious so are positive emotions, so we’ve unlocked the gratitude journal in the app so it’s free for everyone to use and share to lift spirits during this difficult time, adds Begley.

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