Serenita is designed to track and manage stress levels. The ‘Stress Check’ feature of the app measures stress levels through the user’s phone camera. Exercises are provided to help reduce stress or increase focus. The ‘Interactive Relax’ exercise begins with gauging stress levels and breathing patterns with a 50-second stress check. A breathing exercise involves a visual guide to show the user when to inhale, hold, and exhale the breath. The user keeps their finger over the camera so that stress levels and breathing patterns across the exercise can be measured. Points are awarded when the user correctly follows the breathing exercise. The ‘Interactive Focus’ exercise works in the same way, but the goal is to improve focus rather than reduce stress, so a different guided breathing pattern is used. The length of the exercises can be customized, up to 5 minutes. Following the exercise, the app provides information on the increase or reduction of stress levels across the exercise. A number of audio tracks can be downloaded; six breathing exercises (ranging from one to 15-minutes) and five meditation exercises (ranging from 12 to 30-minutes). The ‘trend’ feature provides a graph of the user’s progress on each exercise over time, and some general tips on stress management are also provided. There are five sessions of each exercise included in the free app; additional sessions are associated with a paid subscription. Users are required to create an account to start using the app. There are options to set up a daily reminder for the exercises.
Research base 1/3
Research support 1/2
Specificity of proposed intervention 2/3
Number of consumer ratings 3/3
Product advisory support 1/1
Software support 1/2
date of rating: July 2017
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Available for: iOS 8.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), Android
Type of Treatment: Mindfulness; Symptom Tracking/Self-Monitoring
Targeted Conditions: Stress & Anxiety
Target Audience: Adults
Designed to be used in conjunction with a healthcare professional: No
Languages Available in: English, Traditional Chinese
Get it on: iTunes, Google Play
Heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback training has good support as a way to manage and reduce stress symptoms (Goessl et al., 2017). Stress Check has not been investigated in an RCT, however an experiment tested a similar data collection method via an optical pulse sensor or photoplethysmograph run from a smartphone. Heathers et al. (2013) tested 10 adults at rest, during attentional load, and mild stress, finding the reliability of data collected via smartphone had promising results. When comparing smartphone pulse rate variability (SPRV) with the traditional electrocardiograph (ECG), the accuracy of the SPRV was approximately that of the ECG, and could be used to track changes in stress levels over time.
- Goessl, V.C., Curtiss, J.E., & Hofmann, S. G. (2017). The effect of heart rate variability biofeedback training on stress and anxiety; A meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine, doi:10.1017/S0033291717001003
- Heathers, J. J. (2013). Smartphone-enabled pulse rate variability: An alternative methodology for the collection of heart rate variability in psychophysiological research. International Journal Of Psychophysiology, 89(3), 297-304. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2013.05.017