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I Tried the Shoshin Technique to Handle My Stress—Here's What Happened

Can a new app and a new way of looking at things really help handle stress? I decided to put ShiftMe Passports to the test.

Monday of last week was not a good one for me.

It was 3:30 PM, and my boss had called me into the office again. My heart started pounding, my breath stilled. I was terrified that I was going to be let go. Recently, the office told the entire floor that they were going to be doing some restructuring. Like many other people, I knew what that euphemism often meant.

As I staggered into the office and sat down, I felt my heart go into my throat. My boss looked at me with his trademark stern look, then congratulated me on a presentation I made. I then started to have a harder time breathing. He started to look concerned. I ran out of the office and had a panic attack.

About half an hour after I calmed down, my boss came into the office. He told me that if I couldn’t get control of my anxiety, I would be placed on office leave. It was not a good day for me. I packed up my things and asked for an early excuse.

Not knowing what to do, I grabbed some wine with my friend the moment she got off of work. She was kind of my life guru, so to speak, and I knew that she would be able to find a way to help me out. Little did I know that she would introduce me to ShiftMe Passports and the Shoshin Technique…

The meetup involved her seeing me in my usual, post-panic state.

The moment that she heard that I was having panic attacks over the stress I was getting at work, my friend Kelsey headed over. Like always, she came prepped with her lavender essential oils, her yoga mat, and her iPad equipped with soul-soothing playlists. As soon as she entered the door, I know she was going to ask me to do a yoga session.

“Please, Kels, not this time,” I said.

My feelings at home were not the ones that were tearing my career apart. I was rattled, but fine, when I was home. I explained to her that yoga was not going to get me through another week of my high-stress work. 

Wine was not the answer.

Kelsey understood, and put her mat down. She then pointed out that drinking heavily wasn’t going to do much for my stress levels. Deep down, I already knew this. Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it tends to cause more stress and malaise in the long term—despite it offering short term calming effects. Sadly, I didn’t really know what to turn to aside from wine.

The pressure from work made me buckle and I just didn’t know where to turn to. She pointed out that it may be time to look for a more malleable, versatile way of relieving stress that doesn’t involve alcohol or other substances. 

Kelsey said she used the Shoshin Technique to help her calm down.

The Shoshin Technique is a lot like the Socratic Method you might have used in school. It uses non-judgmental, simple questions to get your mind to stop worrying about things and start focusing on the right things in life.

I didn’t quite understand it when she explained it. Using questions to calm myself down seemed counter-intuitive. My worries all stemmed from questions about my career!

Kelsey had an app that illustrated what the Shoshin Technique could do.

“This app will help you out,” she reassured. I pretty much was willing to give anything a shot at this point, as long as I could take it to work. Kelsey was a genius when it came to relieving stress, so I wasn’t surprised that she had an app for it.

She took out her phone and showed me a little app called ShiftMe Passports. She said that the app uses the Shoshin Technique to help people regain focus and quell negative thoughts.

“Give it a try.”

ShiftMe Passports is an app that treats your stress differently, based on what kind of emotions you’re feeling.

Stress is not a uniform thing. It can come from a feeling of anxiety, loss, worry, or just frustration. When you start to use the ShiftMe Passports app, it asks you to identify your emotion. I thought it was an interesting approach, since I never really thought about what the stress was actually making me feel.

Isn’t that weird? We go through life feeling a bunch of emotions, but never actually take the time to figure out what it is we’re feeling. 

The Passport then created a small video show with uplifting messages for me to read.

The video show was very soothing to watch, but it wasn’t hackneyed. It wasn’t “oceans and forest scenes” like other clips I’ve seen meant to soothe. It showed bright colors and geometric shapes that danced across the phone’s screen.

Along with the pretty imagery, there was some calming music playing in the background. As the video progressed, the app started to show uplifting messages. I read them as they flashed on the screen, and a lot of them really struck a nerve with me. 

Many of the messages talked about self-empowerment.

You might be wondering what was so striking about the messages on the screen. Well, it was the fact that so many of them led me to focus on what I was feeling and urged me to break the cycle of negative emotions I felt at work.

At the office, I felt pretty powerless. It often felt like no matter what I did, it wasn’t enough. During work, I never know what is going on around me, and if I do, I’m often the last to know.

The messages on ShiftMe Passports urged me to look inwards, and to start using creativity to give me something that could make me feel more empowered. That was a very new way of looking at things, and it was pretty comforting. 

As the video finished, ShiftMe Passports asked me a simple question to help me focus in on myself.

If you haven’t noticed, ShiftMe Passports is really all about asking questions and getting the user to look at things with a new perspective. Their final question asked me what things make me empowered, and for the first time, I actually started to feel more “in control” of my life. 

I wrote my list of empowering things down in the app. Then, it gave me the option to save the answer in a log. If I didn’t want to save it, I could “burn” it as a way to send it into the universe—or just get rid of the bad vibes. I burned it, since it was Kelsey’s app. 

It was only a three-minute session, but it helped calm me down spectacularly well.

The funny thing about the ShiftMe Passports question is that it made me realize how silly I was acting by drinking my cares away. It dawned on me that drinking really wasn’t empowering at all. Doing creative writing or my comic doodling, on the other hand, was. I silently vowed I’d bring my journal with me as a way to keep myself feeling “in control” at work.

It was a great way of seeing things with a new set of eyes. 

I did a little bit of research behind ShiftMe Passports and the Shoshin Technique, only to find it made even more sense than before.

It’s interesting. “Shoshin” means “Beginner’s Mind” in Japanese, and was traced to a Zen practice that asks you to shift your perspective to something simpler. The more I thought about it, the more the name “ShiftMe” made sense. It was meant to shift me toward a new perspective on life, and shift me out of my anxious state.

This week, I’ve been a lot calmer.

Having ShiftMe Passports on my phone has proven to be my secret weapon in the high-pressure corporate world I live in. Any time I start getting panicky about deadlines, I just go to the bathroom and take the app for a spin. Because of it, I don’t feel like I need to unwind with a glass after work anymore.

My coworkers all noted that I look a lot calmer now, but they can’t figure out how I managed to do it. I just told them there’s an app for it. 

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I Tried the Shoshin Technique to Handle My Stress—Here's What Happened
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