This Science-Backed App Will Manage Your Stress Better Than Eating That Chocolate In Your Desk Drawer Ever Could

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If you need a hand to cope with the daily stress of life, researchers at the University of South Australia have your back.

My Coping Plan was developed by Senior Lecturer Dr Helen Stallman, and lets you create, store and update a "personalised coping plan" on your phone or tablet.

"We all cope," Dr Stallman says, "However, in times of stress, anxiety or distress, it can be difficult to think clearly or make healthy decisions."

Dr Stallman says there's a risk we might turn to "unhealthy coping strategies" - think emotional eating, drinking, yelling, self-criticism, or even suicidal thoughts.

"Our goal with this app is to make a coping plan with healthy strategies that is easily accessible and user-friendly, to support people to stick to the strategies they have made to feel calmer and in control," Dr Stallman explains.

Dr Stallman's research shows that coping is an important factor in suicide prevention, too.

"This app gives individuals the ability to devise and stick to a plan to manage their stress, anxiety and distress."

The plan is broken down into five categories:

  • Calming down
  • Things I can do on my own
  • People I can spend time with
  • People I can talk with
  • Professionals who support me

You can enter your own strategies into the plan, or choose from a list of suggestions - like walking the dog, exercising, contacting close friends and family, or seeking professional support.

Importantly, there is also the option share your coping plan with you doctor or health professional, or other people who support you.

The app is based on Dr Stallman's "coping planning" approach to dealing with acute distress and suicidal ideation, developed in conjunction with Dr Tony Arklay and Dr John Bennett from The University of Queensland.

"The traditional approach to suicide prevention is safety planning, which commonly includes be alert for warning signs of a crisis," Dr Stallman says.

"We have moved to a strengths-focsed approach that helps people understand why they may be using unhealthy coping strategies and encourages them to look at what they can do to cope better."

In addition to people with mental illnesses, Dr Stallman says the app will be beneficial for anyone having trouble coping in stressful circumstances and for all ages - children included.

The app is available now on the App Store and Google Play.