The topic of mental health is a personal one. Oftentimes, it can feel like a lonely journey if you don’t have access to the right resources. Ania Wysocka, founder of Rootd, an app that provides people relief from panic attacks and anxiety, hopes to change this. “I didn't realize that panic attacks were so prevalent because people didn't talk about it,” Wysocka tells TZR, sharing that she first experienced one while studying at the University of British Columbia. “When it happened to me, I was so embarrassed and I didn't really want to talk about it to anybody. In a way, I created [the app] for myself.”
What’s special about Rootd, which launched in 2017, is that it’s very user-friendly thanks to the soothing pastel purple and teal hues, easy-to-read text, and cartoon graphic (which has a name: Ron). It’s available in over 150 countries and in 10 different languages, too, providing greater accessibility. As for the actual tools to help you recover from a panic attack, Rootd offers a series of prompts via text or audio that’ll help bring you back from the edge of that proverbial cliff. Some examples include basic reminders like “you’ve survived every panic attack to date,” and “what you are feeling right now are mere sensations, nothing more” to more interactive breathing exercises.
Wysocka says that all the content is clinically approved, so you can use Rootd whenever and wherever, without needing to rely on in-person consultations for help. (However, she adds that the app is “meant to be symbiotic to therapy and medication,” so if you’re still feeling off, always check in with your doctor.) To date, Rootd has over 2 million users, many of whom Wysocka has heard from through personal testimonials, mainly expressing how the app has helped them in times and seasons of struggle. Some of the stories that have struck a chord include those from students who say Rootd has kept them from dropping out of school or users who found the confidence to remove themselves from toxic relationships.
Already, the app currently ranks as the number one resource in the Apple app store under the category “panic attacks,” but the founder wants to find even more ways to reach people who may need the resources. She recently shared her entrepreneurial journey at the 2023 Cartier Women’s Initiative, which helps change-makers like herself expand their missions and get their messages out to the world. In addition, the founder says that she plans to partner with companies and organizations so that their employees will have free/full subscriptions to Rootd through work. (As of now, you can sign up for a seven-day free trial, then it’s $59.99 a year.) “We just want to get Rootd into the hands of those who need it the most,” she says.
To learn more about Wysocka and her story, scroll ahead as she shares with TZR the methods she uses to manage her mental health and advice she has for women getting into tech.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
I drink a liter of water.
When you have the chance to treat yourself, what do you do?
I love a really good cup of hot chocolate, and I'll probably give myself a moment just to enjoy it in peace.
What are you listening to these days?
My Spotify discovery playlist.
One thing you can’t live without is…
Books. I have a habit of reading several at a time and I just finished Artemis by Andy Weir.
Where are you dreaming of traveling to?
I would love to travel to South America because I haven't yet explored that continent. I grew up traveling around a lot, but that's one area of the world I've never been to.
What’s your go-to secret weapon when you want to look and feel good?
I think a nice cat eyeliner.
Do you have a favorite workout/wellness practice?
Yes. It's not a set thing every day, but I do have a routine throughout the week. I alternate between HIIT workouts and running.
What’s the best piece of relationship advice you’ve ever received?
That sometimes doing things with a partner is easier, and that's helped me be more patient in situations.
What’s a healthy meal you always make/order?
I love a good hummus dip with veggies and different nuts.
Do you remember your first big splurge? Do you still own it?
My first laptop, and I think it's somewhere in storage.
What’s the small stress-saving luxury you swear by at home?
I have a treadmill, which I guess isn’t small but it definitely feels like luxury. I use it all the time, and it’s incredible for my mental health to have it.
What are you saving up for at the moment?
I don't know if this is boring, but I would love to fill up my TFSA and RSP, which, in the U.S. is like your 401K and Roth IRA. This is my goal.
Do you have any advice for women getting into tech?
It’s important to carry what you know you already have within you, and have that mindset as you enter the room. You might be very quickly sometimes dismissed or not fully listened to, so it's important to remember, ‘Well, I have this great concept. I have this idea. I know these are things that are true and I have this within me.’ I found this helpful in situations where I didn’t feel empowered.
One thing you want to go back and tell your younger self?
Everything that you think you lack is already in you, which sounds kind of corny, but it goes back to my advice on walking into a room with a bit more confidence. Sometimes the people you think know everything really do not.