I’m a huge supporter of meditation and mindfulness apps. I think they can be great for encouraging us to take some time out and look after our mental health. I was recently fortunate enough to be able to review Thrive’s Feel Stress Free App. As I am in the process of starting a new job, my anxiety has been through the roof and this reflected in my scores on the daily mood meter. Therefore, the app suggested that I try particular meditations in order to keep my anxiety under control. I’ve previously written about my mental health struggles and so, this app was something I really wanted to try.
One thing in particular that I like about Thrive, is that it is available to use on my laptop but also can be downloaded as an app on the Play Store, meaning that I can complete some of my tasks on the go.
The app works off a ‘goals’ system, so that you should aim to complete particular tasks everyday. All of the goals are designed to keep you in optimum mental wellbeing and build resilience. For example, one day I was tasked with going for a walk, doing something fun with a friend and completing one of their particular meditations. On a day where my anxiety was particularly high, I was set an ’emergency goal’ to seek help for my anxiety, and they provided helplines and contact details for both NHS choices and the Samaritans. I thought that this was a great option, as I know from prior experience that these are both really useful helplines within the UK and it’s great that the app actually recognises high anxiety.
Thrive offers a variety of activities including various meditations with various lengths of time. In total, the app offers four different relaxation techniques: Breathing, Meditation, Deep Muscle and Self-Suggestion. Upon completion of each exercise, you receive ‘Zen Points’.
Progress and Wellbeing
There are also other sections within the app, such as ‘Progress’, to view your progress over time. Through this section, you’re able to view fluctuations in your mood, and responses to particular questions. this is a great option to look at your progress over time. Considering how variable mental health can be, I think this is a great way to look for trends in your mental wellbeing. In addition to this, there are a variety of ‘Wellbeing’ guides in order to give you further information on factors that can help you to deal with stressful situations.
There is also a ‘Message in a Bottle’ feature, which allows you to send inspirational messages to others. They also recommend that you check this feature everyday as you may be on the receiving end of somebody else’s message. I thought this was such a cute idea, and I love that the app helps you to set up an anonymous username so that you won’t be recognized.
Thrive offer a variety of relaxation tasks to keep yourself distracted when you think you may be about to panic. For example, in the ‘Zen Garden’ you are able to create your own mindful space, similar to that of traditional Japanese Rock Gardens. Alternatively, you can participate in ‘Zen Challenges’ or play ‘Wise Words’, a game designed to distract you when you’re feeling distracted, and requires you to look for words in a jumble. It also encourages you to look for the positives, as there is a positive word in each jumble. You’ll receive bonus points when you find it!
Thrive from a Scientific Perspective
So far, there has been one academic research study investigating the effectiveness of Thrive, and it has been shown to be effective in those with agoraphobia (Christoforou, Sáez Fonseca & Tsakanikos, 2017). Further research is currently in the process of peer review and suggests that the app increases the rate of recovery at two, four and six weeks in those with anxiety and depression (Reference).
All in all, I have really enjoyed using Thrive and I have found it incredibly helpful in reducing my anxiety. By all means, it is not a replacement for professional help. But, it’s a fantastic tool to help you look after your mental wellbeing, as it means that you consciously have to take the time out to complete the tasks. I love that it goes beyond traditional meditation apps, as it has a variety of different games and distraction techniques.
* I was kindly offered a free trial of Thrive to review in exchange for a blog post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.