A USC psychology academic has developed an app designed to help people cope with stress in healthy ways.
Professor of Clinical Psychology Helen Stallman said the My Coping App, which is available in selected app stores, was created to help people become more aware of unpleasant emotions and to use healthy coping strategies to feel better.
A randomised trial of 56 people showed that those who used the app for one month experienced significantly less distress and better wellbeing.
“This is a framework for coping that we have found is very effective,” Professor Stallman said.
“We’d like to share it with the community because maintaining our wellbeing is so important during these tough times, with people needing to find ways to cope with new stresses brought on by the pandemic.
“This app helps us think of healthy strategies and plan what we can do ahead of time so that when we become upset, it reminds us of the new healthy coping behaviours to use until they become our new habits.”
Professor Stallman said healthy strategies included taking a few slow breaths, going for a walk around the block, playing with the dog and talking to family or friends.
“We all get upset and have unpleasant emotions and that is a normal part of being a human. Then we try to do things that make us feel better – things that are habitual,” she said.
“But there’s not always a lot of thought in the way we react. And sometimes that might result in automatic responses like getting angry at people, drinking or emotional eating.
“The app can send you reminders to review your plan, because you only want to include things that are working for you.
“It’s not about using the app all the time, but more about going through the process of being more conscious about the choices we make to cope.”
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