Stop, Breathe, and Think for Reduced Anxietyby Jerry Kennard, Ph.D. Medical Reviewer
Hardworking people sometimes look for solutions to their stressful lives in ways that fit in with their already busy lifestyle. At face value it may seem illogical to try and squeeze more activities into an already active day and expect stress relief, but this really depends on the nature of the undertaking.
An ideal solution would seem to be a system so flexible that when those odd few moments in the work schedule do appear, they can be utilized to their full potential. Enter the app, "Stop, Breathe & Think."
Since the app's launch, Julie Campistron, co-founder of Stop, Breathe and Think, said in an interview that she and co-founder Jamie Price have collected data on over six million "emotional check-ins." I decided it was time to try the app for myself.
“People come to us for a variety of reasons, from helping them handle stress around final exams to being a support to their therapy, to dealing with a loss, and everything in between.”
Downloading is simple, the basic app functions are free, and the whole package provides a helpful grounding in mindful meditation. I found the interface both friendly and intuitive. The opening page is divided into four sections, the largest of which asks the question, How are you? If you know what mindfulness is about, this is the place to start. If not, it's worth checking out the _Learn to Meditate_section in the app first.
Click on How are you? and you’re invited to close your eyes and spend a moment evaluating how you feel in mind and body. This personalized emotional check-in is seen as an easy way of getting users to practice mindfulness.
“By starting with how you feel and recommending a small set of options, we make the process of meditating more relatable and less intimidating,” Julie says.
**In practice, this entails a five-step process:** Step 1. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and think about how my mind and body feel.
Step 2. I check in and rate how I am mentally (great, good, meh, poor, rough). Today I select "Good."
Step 3. I rate how I am physically. Today I’ll go for "Meh."
Step 4. I add my emotions and I select the "kind, loving, compassionate" option along with "connected" and "relaxed." (I could add up to three more.)
Step 5. My results appear. I’m offered a Kindness Meditation (I can choose the six or 15 minute session) and/or a Relax, Ground and Clear meditation (here I can choose a male or female presenter). The app suggests two more activities. One is a breathing activity and the other is called Sending and Receiving, which is about developing compassion for my own difficulties. I learn that I need to purchase premium membership in order to access these, so that’s for another day.
Time isn’t on my side, so I select the one-minute meditation, opt for the Tibetan bowl chime at 20 second intervals, and immerse myself in the image of a misty dawn woodland. It’s amazing how a single minute can feel so refreshing.
I also like the options. So, while I can choose to monitor my daily progress, I can also dip straight into sessions or simply explore what’s available. There are, for example, seven sessions on connecting with my body, three sessions on pregnancy, three for kids, six on yoga, and more.
A representative on behalf of the creators of the app noted via email that "Stop Breathe & Think recently launched a premium membership subscription featuring new meditations and activities for sleep, stress, pregnancy, kids, acupressure, yoga, mindful walking, mindful eating, and a customizable meditation timer.
"You can also download the Stop, Breathe & Think skill via Amazon Echo and ask Alexa for daily guided meditations.
There’s a confidence about the app that I like. Not only does the design suggest careful thought, but the content offered also points to a good understanding of the theory and practice that informs mindfulness. Julie says that the content is not only based upon 16 years of working with teens but that “we also have on our advisory board Sue Smalley, who founded the Mindfulness Research Center at UCLA."
Julie says that users can relax about their personal data.
“With regards to confidentiality we don’t sell or disclose any personal user data,” she says.
So, if you’re looking for an easy way into guided meditation that costs nothing and has positive effects, I recommend that you give this app a try.
Dr. Jerry Kennard is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry's clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.