Online self-help program against depression, stress, anxiety, burnout – Article in SJIEK

1 July, 2015

An online program which asks for fifteen minutes of my time per day and offers me a more balanced and happier life in return. Special. Because when I think of a coach, I think of a Marc Wilmots or muscular guy who makes me do 100 sit-ups with a whip in his hand. Upside down and all at once. But this type of coaching is different: mental, focused on my general wellbeing.
– What? 15 Minutes 4 Me is an online self-help program which guides people in self-reflection, where fifteen minutes of self-help per day would lead to 77% less stress. Every week the participant gets an evolution report which they can show to their supporting doctor of healthcare provider.
– Where? At home, from your chair, from behind your desk, from your porch, anywhere from where you can log in to www.15minutes4me.com.
– Price? 55€/month.
– And now you: Fill out the free self-test on www.15minutes4me.com, even if it is just out of curiosity. If you are unpleasantly surprised by what the test tells you about your anxiety, tension, or depression levels, it might be a good idea to do something about that.
15 Minutes 4 Me: So, that self-test. After a few questions about if I had been agitated, worried, panicky, happy, or somber in the past week, the results are very clear. Looking at percentages I appear to be very tense, very anxious, and mildly depressed. It is time to become by own Marc Wilmots, and quickly.
The concept: by thinking about the things which we do and by making certain choices, we can take our own life into our own hands. Thus, I must become aware of how I want to live, I must develop new habits which help me with this, and I must consequently pick these habits as I go. This means that I must teach myself to work more efficiently, to make my deadlines instead of backtracking toward them, that I must take the time to relax, and that I should stop getting stressed as easily when things do not go quite the way I want them to go. These were actually all things which I already knew. Meanwhile, they are also things which I never think about enough to effectively work on. By being aware of clicking this online program each day, by answering questions, and by being forced to take a closer look at myself, the awareness that I can do better grows more and more. After only just a week, my stress levels seem to have dropped from ‘major’ to ‘mild’, and during the two weeks after that they only drop further.
The conclusion: I have not only become calmer and more able to deal with stress through these fifteen minute sessions, I have also become more self-aware. Is that very mindful? In a way, it is. Poor habits like not or poorly planning my work and the self-hatred and frustrations that come with this are things which I have lost. Better habits like planning and accepting myself have taken their place. While it sounds pretty cheesy as I type it, self-reflection does help and 15 minutes 4 me is a good place to do so.
This is what psychological mindfulness-consultant Nathalie Cardinaels says: Online training might lack the personal factor for some, while it poses a small step for others in order to find coaching. It is definitely useful to learn to deal with stress in a better way and to be reminded again and again that you need to take good care of yourself. However, it is not a replacement for therapy or guidance in large issues and with difficult emotions. Something which is good about the program is that it states, because of this, that the software can never state a medical diagnosis, and that diagnosing can only be done by a doctor. The self-coaching can thereby be a valuable addition to professional help.

About the writer
Dr. Paul Koeck
has his practice as a physician, stress counselor and therapist in Antwerp. As an author, he published a number of books and lectures, trainings and workshops in stress management, both for individuals and for companies, universities and governments. You can email him via the contact form.
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Date: July 1, 2015, Author: Dr. Paul Koeck