Mental chewing gum app

The mind is a useful tool, you just need to learn how to use it.

In this case study, I refined my UX process and created a mobile app.

Mental chewing gum app is based on the neurophysiological principles and helps to focus on real problems and reduce anxiety when we are overwhelmed with irrational thoughts. I found out about this technique from Andrey Kurpatov, who is a well-known Russian psychiatrist and author. This simple technique is very effective, so I delved deeper into it during the lockdown.

The project: Personal, turning a working offline technique into an app just for fun

Tools: Adobe XD

01 Research

Is it a problem?

Mental chewing gum or chatter, monkey mind, rumination

Has your head ever been filled with one single thought or a string of thoughts, that just keep repeating? This process is called rumination, monkey mind, mental chatter, mental chewing gum. This obsessive type of thinking displaces all other types of mental activity and can harm your mental health, intensify depression, and impair your ability to solve problems.

This is a problem that a lot of people face, but there is no awareness about the negative effects of mental noise.

I used varied research methods to better understand the problem and learn how people deal with this common brain mechanism. My main goal was to determine if there is a need for a digital product to help people with this problem.

Concept testing

Studies have shown that people who often experience mental chatter feel less happy.

Mental chatter or mental chewing gum leads to poor performance, weaker ability to solve problems, lower mood, and a decrease in the quality of sleep.

Immersed in a state of mental chatter, people experience more stress and anxiety which can lead to depression.

My assumptions:

It is a problem that requires a digital solution

People suffer from obsessive thoughts/mental chatter, but don’t do anything about mental chatter

Mental chatter affects our productivity and ability to focus

Mental chatter stops us from achieving as much as we could

Online survey

Helped me to test my assumptions and determine if there is a problem and if it requires a digital solution.

In-depth interviews

I conducted in-depth interviews to learn more about user goals and behaviours in the situations of mental chatter.

Google analytics

I used it to see what is the most commonly used name for the mental chatter and if people search for it at all.

Scientific research

The science of how mindfulness is connected to our ability to solve problems and why it makes us feel happier.

Research findings and observations

Mental chatter is not something people talk about, but everyone I talked to experienced this feeling and developed their own way of dealing with it. There is a scientifically proven link between mental chatter, the effectiveness of our thinking process, and how happy we feel.

We spend 46% of our day in a state of mental chewing gum. Usually, we distract ourselves from these thoughts, and even though it helps, this effect doesn’t last very long. There is a special offline exercise that helps to solve this problem.

No awareness

People experience mental chatter, but don’t realise they should do something about it.


Most people don’t connect mental health and being able to think effectively.

Can’t focus

Majority of people have issues focusing on a task and suffer from being distracted by thought/social media.

02 Analyse

Understanding the problem

The unstructured data I gathered during the research had to be analyzed in order to create a solution. I used different techniques to define visible patterns in the research findings. The analysis helped me transform raw data into valuable insights and conclusions.

After I finished gathering the data, I went back and read the summaries of interviews, online survey results, and reviewed the scientific research.  Together with a friend we wrote down the relevant information on post-it notes and made an affinity diagram.


User needs: To achieve more, make the most out of their time
Product objectives: To create a loyal customer base to use subscription service.

User journey

I combined all research findings and used this technique to map out the user journey. It helped me to see how user goals, behaviors, context and pain points change along each step of the way and recognise where are the opportunities in this process.


When I collected more data about the problem, I understood the process my app is going to cover better. As a result, I decided to conduct usability tests and knew which apps would compete with my offer.

Usability tests

I conducted usability tests of the apps that solve a similar problem. I looked at productivity apps like Google Keep, Google Tasks and mindfulness apps like Headspace.

Competitor benchmarking

I compared how different types of apps solve a similar problem and which conventions they use. For this exercise, I used productivity, focus, to-do list apps and mindfulness apps.

Affinity diagram

I used an affinity diagram to structure gathered data. Grouping vast amounts of information helped me to identify meaningful patterns and draw conclusions.

Validating assumptions


Only 5% of subjects said they never experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed by the number of thoughts.

Can’t focus

Too many things happening at once, constant interruptions, not taking breaks are the main reasons why people don’t feel productive and struggle to focus.

Deal with it

To deal with mental chatter people exercise, meditate (women), distract themselves and watch TV (mostly men).


57% of people said their ability to focus is affected by distracting thoughts, 47% by their phone, 36% by social media or switching between tasks.


It is important to stop mental chatter because it clutters our brain with useless thoughts that have no solution which leads to anxiety and stops us from being able to focus on important tasks. 

Key points and findings:

  • A lot of scientific concepts (including mental chewing gum) need to be explained to people.
  • People suffer from mental chatter, but consider it self-reflection, and don’t recognise the danger of these thoughts. It is important to educate users about the effects.
  • It is a relatively simple solution, but the user needs to put a bit of work in. Different techniques are used to guide the user through each obsessive thought and help to uncover what truly bothers them.
  • People like gestures that signify getting rid of something, like swiping it away.

It is important to explain the science behind this concept.

The norm

People don’t recognise the effects of mental chewing gum.


Only 5% of people said they never experienced mental chewing gum.

03 Design

Solving the problem

In the design stage, my objective is to create a digital product considering the research findings highlighted by the affinity diagram and customer journey map.

I started by sketching the high-level flow on paper, focusing on a primary use case (first-time user). I combined interaction and navigation sketching because it was much easier to do it all together. I sketched a more detailed flow, iterating it until I was happy with the main screens and the overall journey. Only then I moved on to building a prototype in Adobe XD.


Top-level user flow navigation and interaction sketches/prototyping/testing the alpha version

What this app is trying to do:

  • Raise awareness about the connection between mental health and problem-solving skills
  • Show a different way (not another to-do list or meditation) to look after your mental health, to tidy up your mind, get rid of your mental junk, and clear some space for things that really make a difference.

First-time use interaction and navigation

Contextual help was a big part of the solution. After testing the alfa version I realised, that the concepts are too complex for the first time user to remember, so the ‘more info’ option has to be available at every stage. I discovered, that a similar approach to the Headspace app would be appropriate, and added a short animated video explaining the main concepts.

  • Easy to use lists
  • Gestures to declutter the interface
  • Clear navigation
  • Concept explanations are accessible at every stage

Design system

High-fidelity prototype