Frequently Asked Questions

You can download the Personal Zen app by searching for it on your iOS device in the Apple App Store. Tap “Get” then tap “Install”.
Once you have downloaded Personal Zen, you will be asked to register for a free Personal Zen account so you can track your progress, receive updates about our the Personal Zen app and tips to help reduce your stress and anxiety.
The Android version of Personal Zen is currently in production, check back soon for updates.

After answering a few questions about your mood and stress level, follow the tutorial and register for your Personal Zen account.

Then select “Play Now” to begin using Personal Zen.

Select one of the five scenic areas by scrolling up the region map and tapping the name of the area highlighted in green (like Pacifica Bay or Panacea Plains).

On the next screen, tap “begin”.

You will see two faces appear briefly on the screen, one positive and one negative, we call them sprites. They will disappear very quickly. Just let them go, don’t try to catch them or see them clearly.

Your brain notices them even without your awareness!

Your only task is to quickly touch the sparkles, which are only left by the positive sprite.

Then, keeping your finger on the screen, smoothly trace the path emerging from the sparkles.

You will see a purple or gold medallion after you trace.

Find it with your eyes to prepare for where the next set of sprites will appear.

The “umph” sound occurs when you miss the sparkle or trace too slowly or inaccurately.

Repeat this action until the area restores from black and white to full-color vibrancy.

Each round of play is just one minute. You can check progress or continue play after each round.

Play for several minutes a day, several times throughout your week depending on your recommended stress-relief plan. But feel free to use Personal Zen any time, anywhere! More practice builds resilience against stress and anxiety over time.

These brief check-ins are a positive mindfulness practice that promote mental well-being and help you keep track of how you’re feeling over time. In addition, the information you provide in your check-ins helps customize your Personal Zen experience, including:

  • Daily dosage
  • Reminders and tracking
  • Personalized content

We maintain a strict, HIPAA-compliant information security system to protect your privacy. If you receive Personal Zen through your employer, we only share de-identified, aggregated data on usage and stress at the population level. Your journal is completely private and only for you.

When you start Personal Zen, you will be asked a few questions about your current mood. After this brief assessment, Personal Zen will give you a personalized daily dosage recommendation.

You can use Personal Zen whenever you need to, but we recommend you block out the best time in your day for a ten minute break to reinforce the habit. It could be after breakfast, during a coffee break, on your commute, or after you finish your work and decompress. Set a recurring reminder on your calendar so you don’t forget!

To answer this question, ask yourself: how much do I generally struggle with stress and anxiety on a scale of 1-5?

  • If 1 or 2, just use Personal Zen on days you’re feeling stressed out
  • If 3, try using Personal Zen at least 3 times a week
  • If 4 or 5, try using Personal Zen at least 4 times a week
    If you consistently feel heightened levels of stress and anxiety, we recommend you also evaluate treatment options with a mental health professional.

After you swipe, the purple and gold medallions show you where to focus your attention before the next sprites appear. Purple medallions appear when you correctly trace the path. Gold medallions appear once you are highly accurate and fast. If you get three gold medallions in a row, you will get a gold starburst! The medallions don’t affect the app’s ability to reduce your stress so don’t worry if you don’t get gold. Personal Zen is meant to reduce stress, not cause it!

When we get anxious or stressed, we pay too much attention to the negatives and have less ability to see the positives in life. Studies show that Personal Zen helps to short-circuit these habits and frees you up to develop a more flexible and positive focus. You can reduce your stress and anxiety in as little as one sitting, and the more you play, the more you strengthen well-being against the negative effects of stress.

We call the faces “sprites.” We made the faces artistic and fantastical to fit into the peaceful imagery of the app, but we chose faces based on science.  As part of our clinically-validated algorithm, Personal Zen embeds a scientific technique called attention bias modification training (ABMT). A peaceful and a negative sprite appear and disappear quickly, and only the peaceful sprite leaves sparkles and a trail behind. Because the sprites appear at exactly the same time and very quickly, our brain is forced to decide which to attend to first. By ALWAYS following the trail of the peaceful sprite, our brains learn to automatically focus first on the positive and disengage from the negative. We start building a new habit of attention: Follow the joy. It’s deceptively simple, but clinical trials show that using Personal Zen changes how our brains respond to threat and reduces stress and anxiety after as little as one session.

The fast appearance and disappearance of the sprites are a crucial component of the clinically validated technique. If they appeared for too long, or stayed on the screen, the technique doesn’t work as effectively! The speed creates a more automatic habit of attention when we are forced to decide between the positive and negative – Personal Zen trains towards a flexible focus on the positive and promotes greater control.

Go to “Goals and Tracking” to set your weekly goal. Use Personal Zen according to how stressed you feel. If you are experiencing low levels of stress, use Personal Zen for approximately 5 minutes a day, 2 or 3 days a week. If you are feeling moderately stressed, you could use Personal Zen for longer. Research has shown that using Personal Zen for just 30-40 minutes a week, spread over 4-5 days is most effective. Using it in one go also yields benefits, but for broader and more enduring positive effects, space it out over the week. This also helps minimize screen time, which can exacerbate stress. Personal Zen was designed to be a micro-intervention, so a little goes a long way. We want to get people off screens and back to the world!

The music and sounds can be controlled from the menu, which is accessible from the top right screen once you’re in game play. Please note that you must have the volume and sound on your device turned on to be able to hear Personal Zen’s music and sound.

Yes, by setting up Family Sharing on your iOS devices, family members are able to share a subscription to Personal Zen.

Click here for instructions on setting up Family Sharing. 

While you may have deleted the app, you will need to cancel your subscription to stop monthly payment. To do so, follow the instructions under ‘How do I cancel my subscription?’ below. 

Please follow the instructions below on your device:

  • Settings > [Your Name] > Subscriptions > Personal Zen > Cancel Subscription

If you require further instructions, click here.

If you would like to receive updates on Personal Zen, recent research, digital mental health news, as well as speaking events by our co-founder, Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, please sign up for our newsletter and visit her personal website. Stay tuned for exciting new updates coming soon!