Local Company Helps Working Professionals Lower Stress Levels
“If you say to people, ‘How are you?,’ they say, ‘Busy,'” laments Jan Bruce. “No one says, ‘Fine’ anymore.”
Bruce, the founder of stress relief platform MeQuilibrium, is trying to change that.
After selling her previous company, the now-defunct magazine Whole Living, to Martha Stewart Living, Bruce found herself professionally successful, but more personally stressed than she had ever been. MeQuilibrium, a digital platform meant to build resilience and reduce stress, was her way of fighting back.
“MeQuilibrium was built to get to the root cause of the issue, not the end stage manifestation,” Bruce says. “In order to really help people change, you have to help them get to the root cause, which is often their thinking style and their approach to stress and adversity and setbacks in their life.”
The program, which is marketed to businesses as a tool for employees, starts by having each individual take a 10-minute assessment, which poses questions about his or her stress style, sources of stress, and coping mechanisms. From there, it formulates a customized set of exercises and tools—like mindfulness exercises, or tips for banishing negative emotions—meant to increase the person’s resilience and ability to deal with stressors. Then, he or she can use the app or website to monitor progress.
“Resilience basically grew out of this study of human performance, and what makes some people perform, and other people not, under duress,” Bruce says. “What we have seen very clearly is that a) resilience can be learned and b) higher resilience perfectly correlates with lower stress levels and with better health.”
Indeed, lower stress is closely linked with better health. Bruce says stress in the workplace costs the economy as much as $500 million each year; on an individual level, chronic stress has been shown to contribute to ailments like anxiety and depression, sleep problems, heart disease, and weight gain. The problem is so great that Bruce calls stress “the new fat.”
Bruce says MeQuilibrium’s technique, and the fact that it’s a business-to-business tool, helps steer it away from the culture of quick fixes so prevalent in consumer health.
“Behavior change takes a lifetime. Skipping that piece of pie for a night, or cutting out bread for a week, doesn’t make you a thin person,” Bruce says. “In the same way, there’s not a quick fix approach [to stress].”