People have asked me why we included Zen Gardenas one of the features in Be Stress Free. There is very good evidence that engaging in a creative activity (or any activity where we have to pay attention to and is fun) can help us manage stress in the moment. Experiments on this topic tend to be done when people are having an operation or going to the dentist. The reason for this is that if people are anxious when having an op they tend to have a rough time recovering. Keeping calm is the key to getting better soon.
A big chunk of recovering from anxiety is confronting the situations that make us anxious. There are many techniques that have shown good results in helping people soothe themselves when they expect to be anxious. Which one should we recommend in the app? The answer is all of them. Sylvia Helbig-Lang and her colleagues at Hamburg University looked at which technique worked best for people with social anxiety disorder working on getting better. The three options were distraction (do something so you don't think about it), acceptance (just know it's going to be bad and confront it, don't try to change it, it won't last forever) or reapprisal (let's check our assumptions here, we may be looking at this completely the wrong way). Turns out the hardest one to use is acceptance, but they are all as good as each other. Different people find different things useful so feel free to experiment with Zen Garden and see if it is the distraction technique for you.