Hey Lemonade: How pep talk app can help ease life stresses

When Aussie actresses Lucy Durack and Elise McCann found themselves in need of practical wellbeing advice, they realised there was a gap in the apps market – pep talks.

We’ve all heard the saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, and Aussie actresses and close friends Lucy Durack and Elise McCann did exactly that.

Lucy was playing Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical and Elise was working for Sarah Jessica Parker’s production company in New York when the COVID-19 pandemic brought the arts industry to a shuddering halt in early 2020.

With productions and live events halted indefinitely, Lucy’s performances were cancelled and Elise had to return home to Melbourne.

“Overnight, everything just stopped and it was really tricky,” Lucy says.

“We were both looking for a bit of support for things that weren’t ‘serious, serious’ but were serious to us – we wanted something a bit more pragmatic.”

Dealing with life’s lemons

Lucy says she’s no stranger to dealing with stress, having gone through occasions where she would even look up stress-related symptoms online.

“I ended up getting through to this maternal health nurse,” she recalls on The House of Wellness TV.

“She just gave me very pragmatic advice and I think of that often.

“When you’re in a moment of stress, you need someone to go, ‘That’s not going to help you in this moment, you might want to come to that later but don’t do that now’.”

Lucy and Elise started searching through wellness apps and meditations to find a bit of extra support, but the duo quickly recognised that many of the offerings required too much time and didn’t really resonate with them.

Hey Lemonade

How the idea for the Hey Lemonade app was born

It was during a walk together during one of Melbourne’s many lockdowns that the two friends realised how buoyed they felt after giving each other a short pep talk.

“We realised this is what we want – a quick talk with a friend to nip stress in the bud before it becomes bigger,” Lucy says.

Since what they were searching for didn’t exist, Lucy and Elise decided to create their own wellness app, Hey Lemonade – making lemonade from the lemons they’d been dealt.

“It gave us a sense of purpose and a goal, and that really gave us agency again that we had the ability to create something that was for ourselves, as well as (for) other people, and that was useful,” Elise says.

Since that seed of an idea during their walk, the duo say it was a “huge learning curve” to master the tech knowledge and they’ve “worked their butts off” on their concept.

They did a 12-week SBE Australia accelerated business course, applied for grants and approached investors, and sought guidance from a wide range of people, including author and entrepreneur Zoë Foster Blake.

While creating the app, they also returned to the stage and production; and Hey Lemonade launched in November 2022.

How does the Hey Lemonade app work?

Hey Lemonade offers three-minute pep talks voiced by a range of well-known Australians, including chef Maggie Beer, presenter Tony Armstrong and celebrity fitness trainer Chief Brabon.

“The pep talks are for everyday stresses, when you just need to have a minute and pull yourself together, and then move on,” Lucy says.

She says the app has talks that may help motivate you to get out of bed in the morning, help tackle moments of stress, alleviate public speaking jitters, address imposter syndrome, and more.

“On top of the feeling of being pepped, you’ll also just feel like you’re not alone,” Lucy notes.

“You’ll see something and think, ‘Somebody’s felt that before, somebody’s made that pep talk, I’m not the only one who’s felt that before,’ and, hopefully, you’ll feel less alone.”

The science behind the Hey Lemonade app

The evidence-based app was the recipient of a CSIRO Kick-Start research grant, and all the pep talks are reviewed by Hey Lemonade’s team of in-house psychologists and grounded in evidence from solution-focussed therapy.

“We found that the people who did the trial with the CSIRO of Hey Lemonade, at the end of the four weeks, were 50 per cent calmer,” Lucy says, adding that participants also had a significant increase in their feelings of positive energy and vitality, and a significant decrease in their perceptions of daily hassles.

“My hope is that no matter what you may search (for), you’ll find a pep talk that will help you in your day,” Lucy says.

“Sometimes, you do just need someone to tell you what to do … it’s a useful circuit-breaker for those moments.”

Hey Lemonade is available in the App Store or via Google Play. Watch our interview with Lucy Durack on The Houses of Wellness TV show (above).

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Written by Erin Miller and Melissa Hong. Image: Harvey House Productions