woebot

Apps for Serious Self Care

We woke up this morning to stressful news that has the potential to wreak havoc on our lives.

It doesn’t matter when you are reading this blog post, if it’s 2020, the statement is true.

Stress levels are off the charts for all of us, which prompted me to create a new session called Serious Self-Care: Tech Tools to Keep You Sane. The session has ten self-care techniques and the tech to make them happen:

  1. Get better sleep
  2. Talk to someone
  3. Organize the chaos
  4. Automate the small stuff
  5. Stop and breathe
  6. Learn to focus
  7. Put away your devices
  8. Practice gratitude
  9. Increase your heart rate
  10. Learn to say no

Here are the two tools I’m highlighting for the “Talk to someone” section. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please check out this post with resources.

Talk to a Real Person
($65+/week)

This summer I found myself a ball of nerves. I was anxious and on edge all the time, and I knew I needed to take action. I signed up for BetterHelp, an online counseling service. For about $80 a week you get a 30-minute video session a week plus the ability to exchange messages all week long. A competitor, Talkspace, has similar pricing.

NOTE:
Here’s my BetterHelp REFERRAL LINK: If you use it to start counseling, we both get a free week, and I will donate my free week to someone else who needs help.

We had a couple of false starts with BetterHelp assigning me to counselors who immediately said they weren’t taking any more patients (so annoying!). But within 4 days of signing up, I was meeting with a smart, empathetic counselor. I met with her for two months until I felt like my anxiety level was under control.

My favorite parts:

  • We set three clear goals at the beginning and kept the therapy focused.
  • I liked my counselor (after I finally got one), but I could change if I didn’t.
  • 30 minutes was fine for the video chat, and the back-and-forth conversations throughout the week kept me connected to the goals.
  • I could connect on the app or through the website. This was handy when we went on vacation and I didn’t bring my computer.
  • My counselor worked hard to send me extra resources and check in. I’ve been in therapy before, but I never felt connected to the counseling between visits like I did with BetterHelp.
  • After two months, I felt ready to move on. Quitting was easy and drama-free.

Things to consider:

  • We have a health savings account, and I felt like the money wasn’t really coming out of my pocket. You may or may not be able to get your insurance to cover BetterHelp.
  • Talkspace also offers psychiatric prescription help.

Talk to a Robot (Free)

I reviewed a chatbot-based counselor called Woebot when it came out several years ago. It was weird. I was skeptical. I scoffed a little. I also figured it would die on the vine.

Once again I’m wrong. Woebot has been proven through various research studies to reduce depression and anxiety.

Here’s a quick video of what happens when you start with Woebot. One criticism I had early on is that the responses for the most part are just choices. It doesn’t use natural language processing to let you write what you want and let it analyze your answer.

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