Poppy Jamie On How Her 'Happy Not Perfect' App Is Making Mindfulness Simple
Wellness can be something of a loaded term. Running the gamut from expensive skincare products to your local yoga class. And knowing how to be mindful isn't exactly straightforward, either. So it's no wonder that people are looking for a form of guidance. Poppy Jamie's Health Not Perfect app falls firmly into that category. Seeking to both educate and provide tools that allow you to proactively change your mindset, it's wellness 101 without the marketing spiel.
The app marked its official launch in May 2018. Jamie and her team spent three years combing through psychological and biological studies. With the help of neuroscientists and other researchers, she came up with a series of rituals that can transform feelings of anxiety and stress into calmer emotions.
"It's basically a gym for your mind," Jamie tells me. She refers to a recent survey that found three out of four Brits had felt overwhelmed by stress in the past year, adding that an "up and down emotional life" is "something that we as human beings have to deal with." Jamie is, however, more than aware that people can be turned off by the mention of stress-busting remedies like "meditation".
"It's difficult. It's one of those skills that sometimes takes years to cultivate," she continues. "Happy Not Perfect gives you an alternative. It gives you more of an interactive workout [that includes] breathing exercises and journalling activities inspired by cognitive behavioural therapy and neuroscience from the past 40 years." The app does house over 400 meditations but numerous other challenges and rituals designed to be incorporated into your daily routine also exist.
You probably recognise Jamie's name. Her past accomplishments have included presenting for Snapchat and launching Pop & Suki, a millennial-aimed accessories range, with best friend Suki Waterhouse. But it was her 2016 TEDx talk examining the impact of technology on self-esteem that seemed to catapult her into the mindfulness realm.
In actual fact, Jamie grew up surrounded by this kind of language. Her mum is a neurotherapist and educated her on "what was happening when [she] was feeling all these different emotions." Without her mum, she said she would have known nothing about her mind. She quickly realised that many people were in that exact boat.
"Everybody else left school learning how to read and write, but not how to be a human being. One of the main reasons for setting Happy Not Perfect Up was to [find a way] of not only understanding our minds better, but managing our minds to help us be our best selves, to help us feel less stressed, to help us sleep better, to help us focus. Learning about the mind is the first step and doing something about it is the second. Happy Not Perfect really tries to do both."
Her ethos seems to be working. Jamie says she gets "phenomenal" emails every day from people. Some have used the app to improve their sleep, some are learning to look at life in a new way. Others have said it has affected everything from their work to their relationships and even their overall health.
These positive reviews caught the attention of Edmodo; a global education network that aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of over 100 million teachers, students, and parents. "They told us that teachers are [suffering from] an all-time stress epidemic. And just under half of children say they suffer from anxiety or sadness once a week," she states, explaining that this laid the foundation for a partnership with Happy Not Perfect.
Edmodo and Happy Not Perfect's content has been created to help people of all ages. Along with brain break games and quick and easy mind workouts, there is a clinical psychologist-led course explaining what emotions actually are and daily words of wisdom from other experts.
Ultimately, the app is all about happiness, says Jamie. "Society admires perfection. We want to be the perfect daughter, the perfect son, the perfect friend, the perfect student... But then we can make ourselves sick because, as we all know, perfect doesn't exist. I love this quote: 'Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. Our ability to bounce back is a superpower that we all have. We just need to train it.'"
The 28-year-old entrepreneur is fond of analogies, and her comparisons make total sense. For example, she likens chasing perfection to "running after the pot of gold underneath the rainbow." Training your mind is like wanting to be able to touch your toes. It's "just stretching a little every single day." And looking after your mental health is the same as brushing your teeth. It's an action you perform almost on autopilot.
I'll admit I find it hard to get in a mindful zone, so I've been using Happy Not Perfect's daily refresh routine every morning for the past few days. The entire ritual takes less than five minutes and involves selecting how you feel, performing a short breathing exercise, writing down something you're grateful for, embarking on a mixture of games and challenges, and sending a loved one a positive vibe. No step is unbearably cheesy and it will take some getting used to, but I can't deny that I feel a little calmer and more prepared for the day ahead.
"We're finally beginning to see that mental health applies to all of us," Jamie finishes. "To be able to deal with the fact that our world has sped up so much, we're going to have to take action. It's like how it's all our individual responsibility to make sure that we're not using as much plastic. It's our individual responsibility to look after our mental wellbeing and help others to as well."