Meditation and mindfulness apps are booming. The top 10 apps pulled in $195 million in 2019, up 52% from the year before. Now, top meditation app Headspace’s former head of research, Nick Begley, is launching a new app that goes beyond mindfulness to specifically address the needs of those suffering from anxiety. The app, called Calmer You, offers a combination of activities, including not only guided meditation, but also journaling, cognitive behavioral therapy coursework and other health and wellness material.
The latter includes things like fitness videos, sleep stories and interviews with celebrities and inspirational people on their experiences with anxiety, among other things.
Begley worked for Headspace for two years, where he learned about the power of meditation apps to aid with self-development, he says.
“I realized that it doesn’t have to be limited to just mindfulness,” explains Begley, as to how he got started with Calmer You. “There’s so much good advice out there, but just passively digesting it — watching videos or reading books — which is what most of us do when we want to improve, simply doesn’t deliver the changes that they promise,” Begley says.
The problem isn’t that the advice isn’t good — it typically is. But people struggle with putting the advice into action, Begley says. That’s where Calmer You aims to help.
The app includes a few different components, including a 28-session course that helps guide you step-by-step to better understanding anxiety and helping to learn techniques to manage it. This includes cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, compassion-focused therapy, analytic techniques and more. In addition, there’s a toolkit with more than 50 quicker practices that are recommended based on how you’re feeling in a given moment or whatever situation you may be in. A journal for tracking how you feel day-by-day is available, as well.
Customers subscribe to the app for $7.99 per month or $47.99 per year.
“We didn’t specifically aim to fill the gaps of Headspace, but this is what users have mentioned,” Begley says. “A lot of people find it hard to regularly meditate, and so we wanted to provide tools and practices — in addition to mindfulness — to help people with anxiety. We wanted to provide a premium quality app experience that provides a more comprehensive approach to specifically helping manage anxiety and the many ways in which it manifests,” he adds.
Calmer You was developed in collaboration with anxiety expert and author Chloe Brotheridge, whose book “The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, a Calmer You” contributes to the app’s name. The team was familiar with Brotheridge’s book and reached out to her to see if she would be open to building an app based on her actionable advice.
The Calmer You team, via PSYT, also includes psychologists. But the app itself isn’t yet validated through things like randomized control trials, for example. That’s something they’d like to do further down the road, however.
Calmer You is also more geared toward women, as much of Brotheridge’s own work was particularly focused on anxiety’s impact on young women.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with anxiety and I had to work out what worked best for me,” said Brotheridge. “This is why as a therapist, I teach people many different techniques so they can find what works best for them, not just mindfulness. While it took a lot of work to include multiple approaches in the app, I think it’s essential to help empower people to find the practices that work best for them and their situation,” she says.
Since the app’s launch into beta testing in November 2019, the company has been adding tools to respond to what users said they needed help with, including two new “rebalancing” tools (one for calming social anxiety, another to help communicate confidently), a worry journal for evening use and several more guided meditations and sleep stories.
The app shouldn’t be used instead of visiting a doctor for severe cases of anxiety, but could be slotted into a user’s routine if they’re already using a meditation app, like Headspace, to aid with feelings of anxiety on a regular basis.