People often look to improve themselves at the dawn of a new year, and after the chaotic 2017 many of us had, 2018 may need to be a Year of Well-Being.

More and more millennials are turning to a mindfulness practice to improve their quality of life — and for good reason. A recent study found that just 25 minutes of meditation or yoga each day improves cognitive function and energy levels.

If this type of self-care is one of your resolutions, millennial-minded wellness brand Shine launched a new app that includes mindfulness motivation, interactive audio content, like conversational “Mindful Moments,” and a chatbot expanding on its daily motivational texts. It's often difficult to find a moment of stillness in the mayhem of city life, which is why Shine's December launch included the installation of bright yellow benches in high-stress areas of New York City — like Times Square — to let users sit, take a deep breath, and dabble in decompression.

Shine co-founders, Naomi Hirabayashi and Marah Lidey, who was named one of Forbes’ “30 under 30” for consumer technology this year, told Metro about Shine’s growth from a text for 50 people to currently having more than 1 million users, if it works for non-millennials and how they decompress beyond technology.

 

Metro: How did the Shine app come about?

Naomi Hirabayashi & Marah Lidey: With our community’s feedback and our attention to how much the world has changed in the past year, we realized the important opportunity we have to provide more ways for people to integrate self-care into their routine. The app gives users a deeper experience to work on their well-being and leverages audio content that brings the Shine voice to life.

This time of year can be stressful. Did that play into the launch timing?

It can feel difficult to carve out time to take care of yourself, and it’s especially difficult during the holidays. Plus, between political drama, record-breaking natural disasters and a heightened climate of sexual assault awareness, 2017 has been a rough year, and Americans’ well-being is on the decline. Now more than ever, it’s important to prioritize our emotional well-being.

Tell me about Mindful Moments.

Other meditation apps felt too crunchy, not like the way we would talk to our friends about what’s going on in our life. Shine's Mindful Moments are written the way we would talk to each other, voiced by wellness influencers we follow and in a first-of-its-kind interactive format. You can listen to Mindful Moments around topics like, “Nix That Inner Critic” or “Help, I Have a Toxic Friend,” and interact with the app to get meditations that relate to what you’re dealing with.

Shine is very millennial-focused. Can other generations benefit from its content?

All of the research around millennials and well-being shows that the biggest difference between us and previous generations is that we view well-being as a habit versus a trend. And as a result, we want solutions that keep up with our well-being at the rate in which we’re thinking about it — all the time. And while the “on-the-go” value to Shine resonates deeply with our generation, the issues we address are issues people experience across generations.

How do you two decompress beyond technology?

We’re both big readers —it’s the perfect way to decompress and getting just six minutes of reading in is enough to help your stress level go down.

The Shine app is available on iOS for $4.99/month (billed $59.99 upfront) or $7.99/month if billed monthly. 

Zen at your fingertips

It may be a bit ironic to use an app to unplug, but such is the world we’re living in. Here are a few other apps to help you find a moment or two of zen.

Meditation Studio curates more than 300 expert-guided mediations to tackle everything from stress and pain to mood boosters and even practices for parents, millennials, teens and first responders.

Headspace has similar offerings, including “bite-size meditations,” that are delivered in the soothing British accent of co-founder Andy Puddicombe.

Calm provides breathing exercises, sleep meditations and nature scenes and sounds sure to take you to a happy place.

Apple Breathe reminds you throughout the day via your Apple Watch to focus on breathing, guiding you to inhale, exhale and focus on you for as little as one minute at a clip.