Essence: An App to Help You Master Your Anxiety

Wednesday, February 10, 2016



Disclaimer: I was not asked to write a review of this app, this post is strictly my own opinion. I figured people could use some help dealing with anxiety, since a large chunk of the American population suffers from it. 

I’ve written about ways to treat anxiety before. Anxiety is a big part of my life, it's something that I have a hate/hate relationship with. For the better part of my life, I succumbed to it, but it with a lot of help, I learned to take control. Most of the time I manage my anxiety very well and it feels like it’s completely gone. Other times it’s all I can do to keep it in check. Usually, that happens when I go through something really emotionally taxing. (Read: my mom dying.)

When an anxiety attack hits, it's hard to know what to do to make it stop. When I first started seeing a therapist, one of the first things I was taught, was belly breathing. Deep, slow, controlled breathing. When anxiety hit me, I didn't hyperventilate, although it is common to do so. For me, my brain would move at a million miles per hour while flooding itself with negative thoughts. It would cause my temperature to rise, and my heart would start to pound. If I didn’t reverse it immediately, I’d end up with an upset stomach and I would have to spend hours feeling miserable. My therapist taught me how to see this happening in myself, and control it with this breathing technique. 

It goes like this: 

Inhale slooooooowly until your lungs are full to capacity, hold for a few seconds, and exhale sloooooooowly until they’re empty. Repeat until you feel calm. Make sure to breathe with your belly. It should expand as you inhale and shrink as you exhale.

The trick was, you had to do it UNTIL you felt calm. The reason this works is, two fold -- it not only slows down everything crazy going on with the systems in your body, but it also requires focus and control of your mind. Anxiety attacks happen when you lose control. If you do the breathing technique, you immediately take a step back in the direction of control. The first time I decided to actually put this method to the test, it worked. It took forever, but it worked. I couldn't believe something as simple as breathing could've prevented years of awful anxiety. Interestingly enough, this breathing has also helped me deal with bouts of pain or nausea, it's not just for mental health!

A screenshot of the Essence App

Last year, I discovered an app to guide you through the breathing. It’s called Essence. I find it helps me focus even more on breath control when I really need it, which thankfully isn’t as often as it used to be. I love the simplicity of the app. There is nothing to it. You just open the app, it shows you how to breathe, and when you’re done, you close the app. 



+++Do you have any great apps for dealing with anxiety?



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20 comments

  1. I am so happy to have found this post! As a sufferer of anxiety for many years, I KNOW how much breathing helps, but I still struggle with finding the ability to do it when I'm feeling particularly anxious. It seems like this app could really help - I'm off to download it now! Thank you!

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    1. I hope it helps! It has worked wonders for me. Don't forget to breathe with your belly. That is what makes the difference, chest breathing is what we do when we start breathing rapidly and shallow.

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  2. I didn't know this was an app! I did see something on Facebook like this before, though. I struggle with anxiety everyday and it's been worse the past year. Once I can update my phone (lol) I am so getting this. Even though it's rare that I hyperventilate during an anxiety attack, focusing on my breathing helps calm me down.

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    1. Yeah, I don't hyperventilate very often either. But this does calm me down VERY well. Remember to breathe with your belly, it forces you to control it. When we panic, we start breathing more shallowly through our chest.

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  3. Very Cool!! Will definitely be trying this! As a yoga instructor, this is a great tool I can share with my students too! Thanks for spreading the word about it!

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    1. I think the Yoga breathing is actually what it stems off of, at least from my experience. Yoga is phenomenal for anxiety. We tighten all our muscles subconsciously and yoga helps me loosen them again.

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  4. I have couple relatives who suffer from anxiety. Will share with them.

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  5. If ever I needed an app more... SO HELPFUL. THANK YOU!!!

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    1. Olivia, thank you for reading. I hope it helps!

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  6. This is amazing! I have a hard time getting my thoughts and breathing under control when I'm having a bout of anxiety, and I need something external to help me do it. What a fantastic app. Definitely downloading!

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    1. Thanks Brittany! Don't forget to breathe with your belly. That's really where the trick is. It forces you to focus and relax muscles that we tend to clench when we're anxious.

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  7. I will definitely have to try out this app. Thank you for being so open about writing about the anxiety you deal with. It's so important for people to talk about it so others know they are not alone!

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    1. Daniela, thank you for reading. I hope this helps! I agree, when I first got diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety when I was 26, it was my 14th year with it. I was so ashamed of myself, and afraid to acknowledge it to anyone. 6 years later, I realize now that when I open up, it turns out almost everyone I know has experienced it a time or two. Some people haven't, because they're endlessly calm (I envy them), but most have. Don't forget to breathe with your belly!

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  8. We are about to be really busy with moving so this is great timing. I will have to check this out.

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  9. I do a similar breathing technique when I'm anxious and I encourage my kids to do it. It really helps!

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    1. I wish I had known this when I was a kid, my anxiety hit when I was 12. Puberty turned it on. It could've saved me a lot of embarrassing situations. Your kids are going to be miles ahead of the game!

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