Virtual Reality Relaxation: Reduce Anxiety with Well-Being Apps
Anxiety is the most common mental health issue in the US, affecting a whopping 18% of the population, or 40 million adults. Anxiety symptoms cost $42 billion per year, and make up roughly 30% of our country's total mental health costs. People with anxiety disorders are 3-5 times more likely to go to the doctor, often for anxiety symptoms that are mistaken for physical illnesses. But, traditional anxiety treatments are expensive, inaccessible, and underutilized. To help people reduce anxiety, we need to start thinking outside of the therapist’s office.
Reducing Anxiety with Well-Being Apps
Virtual Reality Relaxation
So how does virtual reality reduce anxiety? CoreRebootVR’s well-being apps create what I am calling “Virtual Reality Relaxation”. It’s a calm state created by watching soothing imagery. Dorote Lucci, founder of Wellness Realities and CoreRebootVR tells me using her apps feels like being in a bathtub. “You don’t have to do anything. You just let yourself be, and you fall into a calmer, more relaxed state.”
Dorote’s hunch that her apps induce relaxation gained momentum after conducting research on one of her apps – StarFlight VR. High-anxiety participants who used StarFlight showed significant reduction in anxiety immediately after using the app. This decrease in anxiety seemed to be a result of virtual reality relaxation. One participant said, “It put me into a kind of self hypnosis where I was able to "take a break" from the reality of every day life.” Another participant said, “It quieted my mind.” Overall, people found StarFlight to soothe and relax them.
Virtual Reality Deep Breathing Exercise
Since conducting research to test the positive impacts of the smart-phone based virtual reality app StartFlight, Wellness Realities has gone on to make several more virtual reality relaxation apps, including Flow for BreathVR, which was just released in the Apple Store. This app helps people engage in deep breathing (or belly breathing) to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system is the body’s way of inducing relaxation.
The Future of Virtual Reality Relaxation
Stress and anxiety are the norm now, and helping people relax is key to promoting all of life’s enjoyable moments. In the workplace, relaxation can help increase productivity, creativity, and engagement. In treatment centers, relaxation techniques can help people better cope with stress and reduce negative emotions. And in retirement homes, relaxation tools can be used to help reduce stress and pain. Wellness Realities founder, Dorote Lucci, informed me that Virtual Reality Relaxation workshops, hosted in these types of group settings, is the future of virtual reality relaxation. Reach out to Dorote Lucci directly for more information.
Growing up, I never imagined that one day I could just pull out my smartphone, pop on a virtual reality headset, and reduce my anxiety. But that’s totally possible now, thanks to Wellness Realities CoreRebootVR toolkit. Cheers to great progress in well-being technology.
About Dr. Tchiki Davis
Dr. Davis is the founder of The Berkeley Well-Being Institute. After getting her PhD in psychology at UC Berkeley, she started building online courses, apps, and products to boost well-being—products that have reached more than a million people. Now an author at Psychology Today, The Greater Good Science Center, and Shine Text, Dr. Davis's expertise on how to boost well-being reaches people all across the world.