How Jes­sica Alba, A Bad Breakup And Travel In­spired A New App

ForbesWeekly - - NEWS - BY LAURA BEGLEY BLOOM, FORBES CON­TRIB­U­TOR

Mend calls it­self “a per­sonal trainer for heart­break.” This newly launched app guides users through a breakup, day-by-day, with emo­tional sup­port and com­mu­nity ad­vice.

Mend is the brain­child of ex-Googler Ellen Huerta, who found her­self up late one night, look­ing for on­line ad­vice af­ter a breakup. Frus­trated by what she found, she built a web­site where she of­fered up sci­ence-based ad­vice and cu­rated con­tent like a col­lec­tion of city guides for beat­ing the post­breakup blues around the world. This evolved into Mend, an iOS app that launched in April 2017 and is help­ing lonely hearts in over 190 coun­tries.

But what re­ally helped Huerta get over that bro­ken heart? Travel.

“When you’re heart­bro­ken and try­ing to move on, it can be dif­fi­cult to be in the same phys­i­cal place — ev­ery­thing is con­ceiv­ably the same, and yet ev­ery­thing feels fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent,” says Huerta. “I think that’s why we crave a change of scenery af­ter a breakup.”

For Huerta, travel was the salve, help­ing her re­con­nect with her­self. “Trav­el­ing also brings ev­ery­thing to the sur­face so that you can move through it,” she says. “One mo­ment you might be sob­bing, the next mo­ment you might find your­self over­whelmed with joy.”

An­other thing that helped along the way: en­tre­pre­neur and ac­tress Jes­sica Alba. In July 2017, Huerta was fea­tured on Ap­ple Mu­sic’s Planet of the Apps, where Alba men­tored Huerta on brand­ing, hir­ing and prod­uct. Huerta went on to win fund­ing from Light­speed Ven­ture Part­ners and close her $1m seed round. Huerta and Alba made a last­ing con­nec­tion from the show and Alba con­tin­ues to of­fer Huerta valu­able busi­ness ad­vice.

Here, we asked Mend founder Ellen Huerta to share her top places to travel af­ter a breakup:

1. Soak in Shangri-La: Ojai, Cal­i­for­nia

Ojai, Cal­i­for­nia is about an hour and a half north of L.A., but it feels like a world away and it’s the per­fect post-breakup re­treat. Nes­tled in a pic­turesque val­ley, this small town is known for its pink-mo­ment sun­sets, or­ange groves, hot springs, bike trails and peace­ful com­mu­nity. I spend most week­ends here be­cause it’s a per­fect place to slow down, fo­cus on self-care and go for long, me­an­der­ing hikes. What to do: Grab a cof­fee at Bea­con

Cof­fee and get lost in the self-help sec­tion of Bart’s Books, Ojai’s fa­mous out­door book­store. Try the elixirs and ton­ics at Food Har­mon­ics. Get in­spi­ra­tion for post-breakup re­dec­o­rat­ing at deKor & Co. Watch the Pink Mo­ment from the top of Med­i­ta­tion Mount. Treat your­self to a lux­ury spa

day at Ojai Val­ley Inn & Spa. Soak in the nat­u­ral hot springs of Eco­topia.

2. Com­mune with Na­ture In Kauai

Na­ture is one of the best heal­ers—the fresh air, the sun and the quiet all pro­vide nour­ish­ing ben­e­fits for the heart­bro­ken heart. The lush green back­drop of Kauai is a breath­tak­ing des­ti­na­tion, es­pe­cially if you want to be ac­tive (hik­ing, ca­noe­ing, swim­ming, surf­ing) and boost your en­dor­phins post-breakup. Less crowded than some of the larger is­lands, there’s an in­ti­macy and com­mu­nity on this is­land that makes this a very wel­com­ing place to solo trav­el­ers.

What to do: Spend a day at An­ge­line’s for a heal­ing “lomi lomi” mas­sage, hy­drate with fresh co­conut water every morn­ing, sip cof­fee and read on the pa­tio at Hanalei Bread Com­pany, gorge on de­li­cious fruit at the Hanalei farmer’s mar­ket, grab post-hike re­fresh­ments at Kauai Juice Com­pany and don’t leave with­out try­ing the Bud­dha wrap at Fresh Bite Kauai.

3. Seek Spa­cious­ness: Spirit Rock, Cal­i­for­nia

I be­gan med­i­tat­ing reg­u­larly af­ter a breakup in my early twen­ties, and I found it to be an in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful tool for mov­ing through the ups and downs of heart­break and grief. If you can swing it, a more im­mer­sive med­i­ta­tion re­treat is a great way to deepen your prac­tice and reign in the post­breakup “mon­key mind.” One world-renowned med­i­ta­tion com­mu­nity is Spirit Rock, a med­i­ta­tion cen­ter in the rolling hills of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia that of­fers longer re­treats for qui­et­ing the mind and open­ing the heart. They also of­fer a daily sched­ule of silent sit­ting, walk­ing, dharma talks and prac­tice meet­ings with teach­ers. Ev­ery­thing is on a slid­ing scale, which makes it more af­ford­able than some other cen­ters.

4. Soak in Hot Springs: Esalen In­sti­tute

Breakups can be trau­matic, and you might find that your body craves na­ture and quiet in the midst of heart­break. If so, you can wind down at a re­treat at Esalen In­sti­tute, an in­cred­i­ble cen­ter perched along 27 miles of rugged and breath­tak­ing Pa­cific Coast in Big Sur, Cal­i­for­nia. Their three- to five­day work­shops deeply nour­ish the mind, body and heart with healthy meals, daily yoga and move­ment classes, mas­sages and hot springs vis­its. This could be great for you if you don’t like con­ven­tional re­treats with or­ga­nized sched­ules be­cause many Esalen ac­tiv­i­ties are un­struc­tured and self-paced.

5. Re­con­nect with Your­self: A Yoga Re­treat

I al­ways go back to yoga when I’m work­ing through dif­fi­cult feel­ings. Yoga is an in­cred­i­bly heal­ing prac­tice for the post-breakup body—it helps you re­lease emo­tions, re­con­nect with your body and soothe your ner­vous sys­tem. Whether you’re a begin­ner or more ad­vanced, yoga re­treats are a great op­tion to re­ju­ve­nate your body in a sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment. I rec­om­mend re­treats hosted by Love Yoga (they have up­com­ing re­treats in Costa Rica, Africa and the south of France) and Sky Ting Yoga (they have an up­com­ing one in Bali).

6. Book an Airbnb Ex­pe­ri­ence: Paris

I re­cently took a trip to Paris and did my first Airbnb Ex­pe­ri­ence (a bike and culi­nary tour through the Marais neigh­bor­hood), which I loved! I got to spend the af­ter­noon with lo­cals, meet peo­ple from all over the world and—bonus— didn’t have to plan a thing. Trip plan­ning post-breakup can be over­whelm­ing, so Immersions (multi-day) or ex­pe­ri­ences (2+ hours) are a great so­lu­tion if you want to do some­thing, but you don’t know where or what. For some­thing more lowkey, I rec­om­mend fil­ter­ing through Airbnb for Well­ness and Na­ture ex­pe­ri­ences.

7. Take a Stay­ca­tion: Any­where!

You don’t al­ways have to travel far to change scenery. If a trip isn’t in the cards for you right now, find a friend or fam­ily mem­ber you can stay with and go visit them for a few days. You can also plan a road trip or train ride to a nearby town that you’ve been want­ing to ex­plore. Last but not least, a stay­ca­tion can be very mend­ing if you cre­ate a vibe for your­self: cook a spe­cial meal you would nor­mally not make, cre­ate a spe­cial playlist, plan ac­tiv­i­ties you nor­mally wouldn’t do, even change up your out­fits. Break free of your nor­mal rou­tine and you can feel like you’re some­where else.

Want to heal a bro­ken heart? A tech founder worked with Jes­sica Alba to cre­ate a breakup app called Mend.

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