Finding My Personal Zen

Finding My Personal Zen

As featured in PSYCHE’S CIRCUITRY.

I’m excited to announce our new venture, Wise Therapeutics, and the launch of the brand new version of our flagship product, Personal Zen. I am writing this in the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis. My team at Wise Therapeutics and I are offering Personal Zen free for six months in order to make this stress- and anxiety-reduction tool universally available. As we adjust to life under quarantine and beyond, I hope Personal Zen can provide support and be a tool in your toolkit for pursuing well-being in the days to come.

It’s been quite a journey to get to this day. I created Personal Zen in 2011, energized by hope and optimism …. as well as a deep sense of failure.

I became a psychologist and a researcher out of hope – hope that I could help improve the tools we all have to overcome problems like anxiety and depression. But a decade into my career I discovered that while we have excellent treatments and research, we weren’t giving people treatments that work and fit into their lives; Instead, we create treatments that are too expensive, too time consuming, too hard to access, and perhaps most importantly, deeply stigmatizing.

In 2010, while I was pregnant with my second child, I was wrestling with these issues. I decided, perhaps because I was contemplating the birth of my daughter, to give birth to something else – an app for that! Cliches aside, the next decade was a whirlwind of activity as I built and scientifically validated Personal Zen.

Flash forward to 2019, when I co-founded Wise Therapeutics with my partner and dear friend Raj Amin, an absolute guru in the health tech space. We now have the field of digital therapeutics, something that didn’t exist in 2010, when it was very much the Wild West. We are in an era of great digital health tools and forward-thinking companies, but digital health still isn’t working as well as we’d anticipated back in 2010. Why?

Using technology in the service of health is a very sharp, double-edged sword, with high potential costs as well as benefits. These costs are largely due to the elephant in the room – digital technologies have not been designed for our health and well-being. They have been designed for corporate profit. As a result, digital experiences designed for “engagement” are really just designed to keep us looking at our screens to click and buy more. We’re all starting to feel the exhausting burden of this.

The Four Pillars of Personal Zen. So how can Personal Zen – or any digital therapeutic – live in this potentially toxic digital ecosystem? Personal Zen takes a fundamentally different approach, taking the best that technology has to offer while disrupting the digital disruptions of our lives and well-being. To do this, we pursue what you might call the Four Pillars of Personal Zen:

Science: From the beginning, and before many others appreciated the importance of clinical validation, we scientifically tested the effects of Personal Zen. Now, five randomized clinical trials later and counting, we give our community of users a scientifically honed tool, not snake oil.

Effortless: Personal Zen is designed to be non-invasive, used on-the-go, and no therapist required. Our goal is to bring barriers to an absolute minimum so that taking the first step towards mental wellness and stress reduction is easy and seamless. Use Personal Zen on the subway (like I do as a New Yorker). Use it before a big meeting. Use it on the toilet. Because as the next Pillar describes, it just takes a few minutes a day, a few days a week.

Micro-intervention: Personal Zen is all about the power of small. No need to get stuck on the screen for hours – we already struggle with that! As a micro-intervention, our research shows that the “active dosage” to reduce stress and anxiety is about 20-40 minutes a week. This can be divided over multiple days so the extra screen time is only 5 or 10 minutes anytime, anywhere. Slightly more concentrated use – around 20 minutes – can have immediate positive effects to boost resilience in the moment.

Delight: We believe that pursuing mental wellness should be delightful, not stigmatizing, not demoralizing, and not cold and clinical. We’ve designed Personal Zen to be a beautiful, elegant experience that you can reach for anytime.

Read more about how Personal Zen works here.