Reviews

App Review: Stress Free

Stress Free App Review

Stress Free is a stress management application produced by Thrive. Available on Android and iOS devices, the system makes use of tried and tested techniques, which can be introduced to your daily activities in order to proactively fight the causes and symptoms of stress and anxiety. In utilising years of study and clinical research trials at the University of Roehampton, the Stress Free app is an in-the-pocket solution to guiding yourself towards improved mental health and a calmer outlook on life.

Upon sign-up, you are welcomed to the Thrive island of calm. This peaceful, friendly and inviting UI setting provides the perfect surroundings in which to guide your mind through a voyage of tranquillity and mental well-being. With today’s hectic lifestyles, it can be hard to focus on the gentle waves and sunny days, and with this in mind, Stress Free introduces itself by asking you to take a few moments to think about yourself. It does so by asking you to rate your happiness when logging in each time. A simple slider is used, along with a selection of keywords to rate your current emotional state. Whilst many mental health related applications use such features as a tokenistic entry point, Stress Free takes your answers in order to create an ongoing symbiotic relationship between the user and the tools available.

In doing this, the Stress Free app forges an instant connection to the user, taking your results and suggesting the best exercises for your personal requirements, and providing instant hotlinks to each exercise. Quite simply, you are immediately impressed upon that the stress management system is here to work for YOU and YOUR particular needs. Whether reaffirming positivity or defeating negative thought, this bespoke approach provides an encouraging and individually attuned first impression. Your basic guide, this I not. But what about the exercises themselves?

Time for Some Mental Gymnastics

As already noted, each exercise is based upon years of practice and expert clinical research. Stress Free focuses upon 4 key relaxation techniques: Breathing, Meditation, Deep-Muscle and Self-Hypnosis. All four present the user with a broad selection of timed sessions, ensuring that, whether taking a quick break from work, or looking for some lengthy ‘me time’ on a rainy day, Stress Free remains customised to your specific needs.

Every step is guided by a softly spoken male trainer, (some users may prefer a female trainer, given that tone and cadence play a key role in your ability to ‘get on’ with any relaxation programme, and it would be interesting to see whether Thrive decide to add additional session leaders in future updates). The exercises are well guided, easy to follow and very quick to pick back up when looking for a swift blast of mental bliss.

Furthermore, I found myself impressed by the additional information available with each technique. Written guides aid each relaxation method by offering an understanding of why the techniques work, their histories, and the best way to use them in order to gain the maximum benefit. Whether new to each method, or practiced as I was, you are unlikely to find anything lacking in their approach and practical success.

None look to break the mould or re-design the wheel. Howeverm by keeping track of your ongoing progress with each, the application becomes a one-stop shpo for your own relaxation training. As anyone practiced in the likes of meditation will tell you, it is important to develop the skill. In doing so, you are able to create new triggers in the brain that aide an ongoing ability to bring inner peace and a heightened ability to remain calm in the face of daily anxieties.

Digital Zen?

A surprising addition is that of the digital Zen Garden. Whilst I was a big fan of the idea, I am not sure that a digital garden of Zen offers quite the same mind settling calm as its real-world Japanese counterpart. A wide variety of controls are available in creating your own design, with rakes, stones and garden paraphernalia all available. But perhaps you can blame my chubby digits for a lack of any pursued interest here on my part. For me, this facet of the application became a supplementary feature to the more clinically guided relaxation tools listed above, but it is a nice addition all the same, even if it wasn’t to my particular tastes when it comes to seeking a dose of daily serenity.

(As you can see from my own Zen garden design, perhaps visual creativity is not by forte.)

Keeping You Hooked

Daily visits to the app see you greeted with new tips and tools for developing positive mental health habits. The benefit of such regular reminders cannot be overlooked. The worldwide web is a wonderful resource for coping mechanisms, scientific studies and personal testimonies of mental healing, but the sheer amount of information available can often be overwhelming, having a detrimental effect for those seeking solace from anxiety related issues. In contrast, Stress Free’s simple,  scientifically backed insights, are a quick reminder of the foundations needed to find a more balanced approach to thought and maintenance of a positive state of mind.

Bottled Well-Being

Maintaining the theme of a secluded island paradise, regular notes arrive as bottles washed up upon your digital shore. These words of wisdom offer further support, with a focus upon helping you to understand your feelings and how they impact upon your emotional well-being. Far from a litany of clichés and platitudes, these small ideas become implanted into your stress free activities, forming a basis for not only how you learn to relax, but why you do it, making regular log-ins all the more rewarding and worthwhile.

Better yet, you are free to send your own messages adrift, sharing you personal experiences and advice with fellow Stress Free enthusiasts. It is this communal opportunity within the Stress Free app that is perhaps my favourite feature. The unfortunate stigma that continues to surround all things mental illness related, makes conversing on the subject harder than it should be. Whilst we happily wax lyrical over our physical symptoms, eagerly moaning to all who will listen about our aching backs, runny noses and tennis elbows, when it comes to mental health related issues, we tend to keep schtum, not only diminishing the chance to solve our own issues, but perpetuating the social stigma around the subject.

Any time a door is opened for communication on the subject of mental health, it should be sought out and applauded. In my time with Stress Free, I sent many a message drifting into the horizon, in hope that it might find its way to the inhabitant of another digitised island paradise.

 App Stability

Now for the boring part. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it short.

Can you imagine anything worse than trying to calm the mind and relax the body whilst in an ongoing battle against crashes and bugs? It’s not really going to work, is it? Well, fortunately, I can report than after numerous hours of testing, the Stress Free app did not suffer from a single crash, nor did I encounter any app breaking bugs worthy of note. In fact, Stress Free, was just that, operating slickly, with bold colours and a smooth frame rate making for a completely uninhibited journey towards a calmer mind.

So, if nothing else, Stress Free certainly ensures that your personal device will not be thrown across the room in utter frustration any time soon. At least, not until your next failed attempt to break that endless runner world record.

A Stress Free Summary

Anxieties often cloud the mind and focus our thoughts towards negative triggers and interactions with our surroundings. In an age in which we all have a Smartphone on hand, a positive, digital hub can be an invaluable tool in retraining your perception of the self and the world around you. I believe that the Stress Free app has created such a hub. Through positive affirmations, affective relaxation techniques and a community focused approach to living a stress free life, Thrive have created an application which, no pun intended, Thrives upon its users having access to a bevy of techniques and tools to aide mental well-being.

So, now for the important question… Would I recommend this app? Well, I am pleasantly surprised to report that yes, I certainly would. Not surprised because of a lack of credentials from Thrive. Rather that, given the overcrowded app marketplace and multitude of relaxation aides available, the wheat can often be hard to find amongst a unforgiving field of chaff. In the case of Stress Free, you have an application that combines numerous techniques into an easy to use, reliable experience, that, regardless of your experience, would become a welcome addition to any anxiety sufferers’  daily battle against stress.

Isn’t it time that you became Stress free?

This review is provided using the Android app on an LG5 Smartphone, with a subscription provided by Thrive.

For readers of my blog, I have a trial subscription code for the month of March, kindly provided by Thrive, beginning your journey towards being Stress Free.

Simply Enter FSFMARCH2802 when signing up

Subscriptions can be purchased on a Monthly (£8.99/month), Quarterly (£7.99/month) or Yearly (£6.66/month) payment plan.

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