Healium: Using Your Body’s Electricity to Manage Stress
Self-managing stress and anxiety through the power of thought are not only possible; it’s proven.
Battling epidemics, anxiety, and stress are just some of the health challenges we face today. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults, yet only 36.9% undergo treatment. Add to that, the coronavirus pandemic, which is increasing stress among the U.S. population. According to Gallup, that’s bad news since the U.S. already ranks as the fourth-highest stressed population in the world.
Mental health professionals across the country see an uptick in demand for their services by new and existing patients. More people are taking steps to help relieve stress, such as learning relaxation techniques, exercising more, reducing caffeine intake, etc. – all have their benefits. But what if you could manage stress and anxiety through the power of thought. Not just thinking about nice things, but a clinically validated way to self-manage anxiety, increase positivity, improve mood, and elevate empathy.
Increasing Mental Fitness
Healium is a groundbreaking mental fitness platform using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to self-manage anxiety and stress. Instead of traditional meditation, Healium stories are open-eyed visuals allowing you to see your feelings and virtual environments that you control, helping you learn to self-regulate stress. Healium is the world’s first immersive media product powered by the body’s own electricity. Helium’s patented technology utilizes brainwaves and heart rate via consumer wearables such as an EEG headband, Oculus Go, or Apple Watch. The VR and AR apps, available for iOS and Android, help train and reward your ability to calm down or focus yourself.
The optional BrainLink Lite is a consumer-grade EEG headband worn across the forehead that lets you control Healium experiences using your brainwaves. The adjustable headband constructed of soft leather uses three gold-plated copper sensors. Each sensor monitors your brainwaves and works with Healium to increase mental fitness based on your brain activity.
Experiences that Sooth
It is not necessary to wear the headband to experience Healium’s VR and AR visuals. But BrainLink Lite does allow personalization using your own brainwaves to start and end an experience, change color, or manipulate the virtual environment. Healium utilizes natural environments proven to help reduce stress levels such as a bamboo forest, sandy beach, changing seasons, and waterfalls. The soothing VR experiences show a reduction of moderate anxiety and improve mood within four minutes, which has been clinically validated by peer-reviewed studies. Check out Healium in this mind-blowing, or rather, mind-healing video:
Healium’s stories are visual experiences that basically start with virtual scenery, some with a focal point that slowly develops along with gentle music. Sometimes a calming voice starts to guide you through mindful meditations. It draws your attention to look around the environment and imagine embodying or interacting with some of the elements seen or heard. As the experience ends, the music fades as the environment dims. Some stories leave you with an inspiring quote.
“When you take a virtual trip to a beautiful 360 landscape, your brain believes what it sees, and the nervous system calms down almost immediately. When combined with our biofeedback technology, Healium is a powerful tool to change your mood and your mind,” explains Dr. Jeff Tarrant, Chief Scientist for Healium and Director of the Neuromeditation Institute.
A Sensible Solution for Stress
Healium CEO and chief storyteller, Sarah Hill, first encountered neurofeedback when she was being treated for anxiety by Dr. Tarrant. The treatment enabled her to calm herself and regain the ability to sleep successfully. The Emmy award-winning news reporter realized her job was making her ill. Hill and Dr. Tarrant began collaborating and explored how VR and AR could be used to relieve stress. Together, they melded VR with neural feedback and developed an easy-to-use, self-help tool. They have created numerous immersive stories, a curriculum on neuromeditation, and nature-based calming imagery.
In 2015, Hill left her job and, together with Tarrant, founded StoryUp, maker of Healium. Initially, she began working with Veterans United to create VR apps. Her team developed the Honor Everywhere program allowing veterans who were terminally ill or too elderly to travel to see a war memorial honoring their service in Washington, D.C. After using the virtual tours, she noticed physiological changes in the veterans, indicating they were more relaxed.
Healium has since been sold to hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, chemotherapy clinics, fitness centers, and corporate wellness programs. Poised for success, Healium is garnering awards and capturing the attention of investors. Trends indicate that more people are utilizing wearables, a rising trend for stress reduction solutions, and the emergence of consumer EEG devices that read out on smartphones.
Healium recently won a Procter & Gamble Innovation Challenge and received a $10,000 cash prize, an opportunity for partnership with P&G Ventures, and an invitation to join a nationally-ranked accelerator with up to $200,000 in additional benefits. Healium also pitched the idea of a “digiceuticals aisle” in drugstores or retailers where its mental health hygiene products could be alongside physical hygiene products.
“What can you buy at your local drugstore for your mental wellbeing?” says Hill. “A partner with Procter & Gamble’s global reach would allow us to more quickly get our digiceuticals in the hands of 157 million stressed consumers who are looking for drugless solutions to quickly downshift their nervous systems and escape their current realities.”
No longer sci-fi, interacting in virtual environments using your brainwaves can help you relax. Even if you don’t have a VR headset, you can still enjoy relaxing 2D story experiences available on the Healium website. Try it out, you might ease some of that built-up stress.