Lisa's life review - I really want to be good at meditation!


What about after those focused work days? Maybe you’re not just tired, maybe you’re stressed. I was recently introduced to the Feel Stress Free app and though it seems strange to use your ‘phone to ‘switch off’, this could work!

Two years of development and research went into finding this new way to proactively prevent and manage your stress and anxiety. Feel Stress Free teaches you tried and tested techniques to cope with a hectic life.

Feel Stress Free has been delightfully designed and is a pleasure to navigate. Island-hopping under a blue sky; very nice indeed.

Different sections of the app get unlocked as you progress with your therapy. A good idea in general as it will stop you running before you can walk. Personally, I found it frustrating that it took so long to unlock the Zen Garden island as that was my favourite activity.

A little background:

The Yerkes-Dodson Law explains the relationship between performance and stress, indicating that an optimal level of pressure needs to be applied to get the best from someone. However, once that optimal level becomes too much for a person to handle, performance decreases significantly. The management of stress and anxiety is imperative to us living a healthy, happy life.

Each of the clinical interventions used in the app have years of research behind them, and we’ve featured all of this within the app itself, as well as below. We have also carried out clinical research trials at the University of Roehampton, with another commencing in April 2016.

I didn’t do anything with the Mood Meter island so can’t really comment on that but I am finding the Calm Breathing section particularly useful:

Calm Breathing

This is the simplest technique, one that you can learn in the app and practice anywhere you are. It is based on the fact that increasing chest pressure by taking very slow and deep breaths, and then reducing by slowly breathing out, triggers a reflex. This reflex slows down your pulse and gives you a relaxed feeling in your body. As body and mind are connected this then results in relaxation in your mind. Give it a go for 3, 5, 7 or 10 minutes!

The evidence

Deep slow breathing is an essential technique incorporated in many relaxation exercises. It has been extensively examined in the literature in different setting. A good review of the evidence behind it and its uses can be found in General Principles and Empirically Supported Techniques of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Chapter 14 by Hazlett-Stevens and Craske.

This is something I was already trying to get to grips with as it will be so very useful in my yoga practice too. I had been trying and failing when I felt panic attacks starting during dizzy spells so I’m hoping to progress further with this.

I didn’t do much of the deep muscle relaxation and the self-hypnosis was of little interest but I’m sure there are benefits to be had if you persist with them.

The other important part to me was the meditation. I’m useless at it, but, I really want to not be useless at it!

The vocal instructions  are soothing but almost too quiet for me…this may be because I didn’t use headphones as recommended. I would suggest you do. I’ve only avoided them as I had so much pain with my ears during the vestibular migraines.


Simple to learn but hard to master this is quite a powerful technique for relaxation.  It requires dedication and practice but if you persevere it can bring about the most benefits. You will need a quiet space and to achieve a sensation of comfort. You will be able to develop a passive attitude that allows you to just watch your feelings, sensations and thoughts as they pass through your mind. You will also use word or phrase to help you refocus.

The evidence

This is probably the technique that has received the most attention recently. It requires practice to master but everyone can use it if they devote the time to learn it and practice it. There is a complete review and meta-analysis of all the evidence of meditation in the management of anxiety published in the British Journal of Psychology in 2012.

The app is free to download but there are 3 pricing levels of commitment to it so there’ll be one that suits you. There’s also a very useful questionnaire you can complete first which will tell you if you’re likely to benefit. I’ve also done this for the arachnophobia app that’s also available from Thrive.

Written by Lisa - at Lisa's life - @_Lisaslife_ 

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