It’s been almost a year since I discovered VOS. I tried some mental health apps before but I never used them for a long time. Either I got bored or I repeatedly forgot to use it or I just didn’t find it very useful. Yeah, I guess you could say it’s not easy to make me a satisfied regular app user. However, VOS managed to find a way into my life and it’s been a great companion for me! Today I’d like to share with you my experience with using the VOS app.
I first learned about the VOS.health project from its creator- Jiří Diblík. When he first told me about it the app didn’t exist yet but from what he told me it was clear that VOS has a potential to be a unique mental health tool accessible for everyone. I could see that mental health is still not a well-known topic and that many people don’t know why and how they should focus on that. I realized VOS could change that.
When I got the opportunity to be a part of this project I was really happy and grateful. I could see how VOS grew and developed into its current form and how many great ideas made the app better and better every day. I was happy to find out that VOS.health is not just about the app. I got dozens of amazing mental health tips from the VOS Facebook community, I also shared my tips and ideas there. I could get answers to my questions from professionals on webinars and write/read interesting articles on VOS blog. I could also get updates on Instagram and TikTok!
I was curious about how the app would really affect me as a user. Plus, same as everyone working on the project, I wanted to get the user’s experience to know how to make the app better. After I started using the app I noticed that it’s really fun to use it and I enjoyed the features. I noticed that as time went on I opened the VOS app/community even more often than Angry Birds! When I was not in a mood for affirmations I answered a self-reflective question or read an article on a blog.
I also noticed that apart from the fun which I have using the app, I start to realise what’s really important for me. I learn to relax and cope with hard times thanks to the breathing exercises. With mood checks I could make sure that I don’t experience big and fast mood swings and also see what brings me down and what makes me feel happy. Affirmations and quotes in the app are really empowering and inspiring. Sleep and Steps data put into personalized analytics? That’s really cool because this way the app can also get to know you better and give some value to other parts of your life. And since studies show that there is an undeniable connection between physical and mental health, VOS can take it into consideration.
Crisis helplines and one-on-one chat with VOS trained advisors are the features showing that VOS can be there for those who really suffer and could use some help. When you’re feeling low it sometimes doesn’t just pop up in your mind that you can contact some crisis helpline or that there is a possibility to text someone for advice. And when you get the idea you then need to search for helplines, find out which one is available and which one fits you. With VOS it’s all just a matter of 3 clicks. Knowing that I’m just 3 clicks/taps away from getting the needed help makes me really calm.
But if I wanted to get some advice or tips I don’t necessarily have to be in urgent need or experience an unbearable situation in my life. I might be just confused about my current situation or curious about how I could learn to cope with stress better. For everyone that could use some advice/support and tips there are VOS Advisors on a chat who will reply within a next working day. Or I could contact the crisis helpline/chat anyway. This way- VOS is there for me no matter what’s going on in my life.
The features I used the most are Journaling with self-reflective questions, breathing exercises and inspiring quotes. In the following paragraphs I’d like to share my personal experience with these functions.
When I was a teenager I used to write a diary where I expressed my emotions and basically put my life into words. It helped me so much! Sometimes I got to see my situation better or I realised how I feel. I could also relive so many happy events and I could remind myself of them whenever I wanted. Journaling made my happy memories eternal and helped me focus on what was important for me. However it always took me quite a while and I also couldn’t write everywhere, and when I had just a few minutes and had to divide my writing, I often lost the thought or didn’t get back to it. Some days I also didn’t know what to write about or how to direct my thoughts to make my writing effective.
With VOS guided journaling I really enjoy the possibility to write anywhere. I could be on the bus or on a short lunch break. All I need to do is to open the app and type. The self-reflective questions make me connect with my feelings and values. This way I always have something to write about and I often learn a lot about myself!
Some things are just better captured with photos than with words. To VOS journal I can upload the photo or record a message. When there's a question about my favorite place I found it really useful that I could also add a picture of it.
Another benefit of this feature is that you get to answer the exact same question in a year so you can see your progress, what has changed and what hasn’t. I think I will laugh at myself reading the old answers, haha.
My friend who also uses the app told me that one day when she spent time with her close friends and they had nothing to do, they opened the app and answered the questions together and talked about the thoughts that the questions brought. This could also be a good way to get to know each other, talk about important things and bond.
Breathing exercises helped so many times. Breath control is really powerful. I did the exercises when I was losing sleep, when something hurt me and I wanted to get some pain relief and also before my exams at school or important interviews. I also benefit from proper breathing since I like to sing and play flute sometimes. For me it had amazing results and even 3-5 minutes of guided breathing made a significant difference in my mood and also my performance.
I love to feel inspired and empowered. When the inspiring quotes were put into the app I was happy to read them and it made me try to implement the message from the quote to my everyday life. It takes 5 seconds to read a quote but when it fits it can really brighten your day or make you take the first step towards your better self.
VOS is proof that taking care of my mental health could be simple and fun! In this article I talked about some features of the app which are the most beneficial for me. However you may enjoy other features more or find a different way to benefit from VOS in your life. Feel free to share your VOS stories and opinions. I would be happy to meet you in the VOS Facebook community!