This clever app is transforming the way we view mindfulness

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Elizabeth Bennett
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We spoke to entrepreneur Poppy Jamie about her new mindfulness app, Happy Not Perfect…

Whether it’s suffering from comparison-induced insecurity as a result of Instagram, or missing out on vital face-to-face communication thanks to WhatsApp and email, smartphone apps often get a bad rap when it comes to our mental health. However, one new app is set to change all that. 

Happy Not Perfect, the brainchild of 27-year-old TV presenter turned entrepreneur Poppy Jamie, is on a mission to prove how technology can be used to positively impact our mental health and wellbeing.

The idea for the app was born out of Poppy’s own experiences with stress and anxiety. “Our culture puts such high expectations on us to live perfect lives - something I felt I could never live up to. I spent so many years trying to be a square when I was a triangle,” she told Stylist. Poppy’s light bulb moment on her road to recovery came back in early 2015 when she stumbled across the phrase ‘Happy not perfect’. “Those words really resonated with me. As soon I said them to myself I felt I could finally breathe again.”

Initially imagined as a website, after extensive research and work with UCLA neuroscientists, Poppy realised the need for a more practical based platform. “We learn nothing about our emotional construct at school, and the majority of people don’t have the money to see a therapist or the time to read up on research,” Poppy said. Alongside distilling the extensive research into a more accessible, bite-sized format, Poppy was also keen to create something that people could use in “those moments of heightened stress or anxiety”. “When I’m having a panic attack, I don’t have time to flick to a page in a book, I need a solution then and there,” Poppy pointed out.

Described by Poppy as a “wellness mind gym that provides a workout for your brain”, the app itself is divided into two parts. Firstly there’s the easy five minute Refresh routine that takes you through a number of science-backed practises designed to revitalise the mind. The seven step process, which includes guided belly breathing, a virtual gratitude list and a mindful distraction game, can be built into your daily routine, or used when you feel particularly stressed or anxious. “If I’m feeling nervous before a first date or big meeting I try and take five minutes to do my Refresh routine and calm my mind,” Poppy shared.

The second section, called Recharge, is filled with mini-games, quick techniques, and over 50 breathing exercises to bring a little extra zen into your day. Passionate about bringing mindfulness to the masses and proving that looking after your mind isn’t just for “green juicing yogis”, Poppy set about sourcing personality-filled teachers that offered sessions such as ‘Feeling Zen AF’ and ‘Removing exes…Good Riddance!’.

While the language to describe the sessions is lighthearted and Millennial-friendly, the methodology behind them is steeped in neuroscientific research and based on advances in modern gamification designed to positively biohack your brain. “Our brain is like plastic and can be molded. The small things we do everyday have enormous impact on this,” Poppy explained. “To create our mind games I worked with experts who’ve created apps for improving memory and brain function. If you can train your brain to be good at those games you can also teach it be emotionally resilient, handle stress better and relax quicker.”

Designed for people on-the-go, many exercises can be done with your eyes open or while walking, and others, like the genius ‘Bathroom Breaks’ can be done in the office. “It’s totally unrealistic to tell us to completely walk away from technology so it’s about finding its positive points, like accessibility and practicality, and utilising them to our advantage,” she said. Poppy wants to make it as easy as possible for anyone to include a little mindfulness in their day, and if the tools to do so are on your phone you have no excuse not to. “If people can pick up their phone and click on Happy Not Perfect instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media then I will have achieved my goals.”

Happy Not Perfect is available for iOS in the Apple Store and for Android in Google Play. The Daily Refresh is free for all and HNP users are also able to subscribe to the ‘Zenning’ recharge library for £5.99 per month.

Main image: Emma Holly Jones