In our busy everyday routines, filled with things we ‘should do’ and ‘should be’, with perfect pictures of friends’, families’ and celebrities’ achievements just a click away, it’s little wonder that life can seem overwhelming at times.

That’s why former journalist and communications adviser Hanne Suorza, and doctor and psychiatrist Bjarte Stubhaug, decided to make an accessible, informative and interactive tool to manage stress and stress disorders. And so, the Mestre app came to life.

“I have worked with stress-management therapy for nearly 30 years and wanted to make knowledge about stress and stress disorders easily accessible. We decided that an app would be the best way to reach as many people as possible,” says Stubhaug.

Now, 20,000 downloads later, Stubhaug and Suorza are taking the app to the next level and launching a workplace section called ‘Mestre Arbeid’, which includes specific content for work-related stress and coping.

Manage stress mindfully with the Mestre app

Co-founder of the app, Bjarte Stubhaug has worked with stress management therapy for nearly 30 years.

Comparing ourselves to a virtual reality

Even though Stubhaug believes people are leading better lives than ever before, he also witnesses more restlessness than previously.

“We’re always on the go and always doing something – we’re always mentally active, which brings a lot of disturbance and background noise,” he explains.

“Through modern methods of communication like social media, we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others and to a virtual reality. We constantly see beautiful holidays and nice meals – which makes many people feel like they’re not achieving what other people achieve, leading to stress and negative emotions.”

The Mestre app describes this reality in a way people can relate to, encouraging them to recognise their own feelings, and then helps to shift attention away from these negative feelings.

Stress can lead to numerous physical and psychological complaints and can significantly worsen quality of life. Mestre aims to prevent and reduce stress-related disorders and uneasiness by giving its users access to informative podcast lectures, articles and over 30 unique exercises.

The app format means it’s easily integrated into an otherwise busy schedule – for example, by listening to the podcast during a daily commute, or by fitting one of the ten-minute exercises into a lunch break.

Suorza says: “People wear headsets quite a lot, so you can easily swap ten minutes of music for ten minutes of mindfulness. What’s so good about the app format is that you can close your eyes, lean back and just listen to our content, while also learning a new topic or habit. Most people like to learn something new.”

Manage stress mindfully with the Mestre app

The app includes more than 30 unique exercises to cope with stress. Focusing on knowledge and information, users of the app can access informative lectures on a broad range of stress-related topics. Mindfulness is an important part of the app.

Coping with stress at work

Mestre’s new workplace section is designed for companies with up to 10,000 employees. The content is focused on work-related stress and stress disorders, with exercises related to uncertainty in the workplace, teamwork, communication, work interactions and more. It will provide concrete advice on how to cope with various situations, and how to communicate efficiently with co-workers and employers.

“We see that mental health is becoming an important topic for businesses at the moment. Both in terms of preventing and reducing stress related illnesses, and hereby also lowering the number of sick days and increasing wellbeing and productivity,” says Suorza.

The workplace section has already caught the attention of companies in Norway. At Sparebankens Møre’s entrepreneur contest for new business ideas earlier this year, Mestre came second out of 65 competitors.

Manage stress mindfully with the Mestre app

As part of the app, Stubhaug and Suorza have a podcast, teaching listeners about stress and stress management.

According to Suorza and Stubhaug, the app can be equally as efficient as therapy when it comes to milder forms of stress and stress disorders. “The Mestre app teaches you to break away from negative emotions. No one can live without ever becoming upset or stressed, you can’t avoid it. We have to accept those negative feelings and learn to regulate them, without getting too caught up in it,” explains Stubhaug.

With a range of guided mindfulness exercises to help users focus on the moment, the app aids in moving away from the stress of obsessing unhealthily over everything that must or should be done.

Stubhaug says: “For children, focusing on what is happening here and now is very natural, but as we get older, we start thinking about what’s next: what’s the agenda, what’s the next step, what do others think of me? These exercises will strengthen your ability to be more mindful of the present moment. It’s about focusing on the moment, stopping for a while, doing less and being more: being here and now.”

Manage stress mindfully with the Mestre app

Co-founder Hanne Suorza.

Instagram: @mestre_app
Podcast: ‘Mestre Podkast’ on Spotify

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