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Creating space for inner well-being doesn’t have to mean clearing your calendar and booking an island vacation (although if you can, why not?). It can start with something as simple as breathing exercises that only take a few minutes, if that. Studies show that breathing exercises may help reduce
If you’ve tried breathing exercises before but feel like you could use some help, there’s a device for that.
Moonbird is a handheld gadget created to act like a breathing coach, so you can follow its rhythm and feel less anxious and more centered anywhere you are.
We tried it out for ourselves and are here to give you a full, honest review. Keep reading to see if it sounds like moonbird may help you manage stress better in the new year.
Moonbird is a newer device from a Belgium-founded start-up of the same name.
The handheld breathing coach is a soft little device that “breathes” to encourage you to match your breathing to its calming rhythm. Holding moonbird in your hand, you sync your breathing to the device as it contracts and expands (inhale when it inhales, exhale when it exhales).
- can help users focus on intentional breathing
- may help lower anxiety and ease stress levels
- comes with a carrying pouch and charging cable
- easy to travel with
- comes with simple directions
- free app includes many breathing exercises
- don’t have to use the compatible app to operate it
- can test it for free for 30 days
- material may feel too slippery for some
- only available in one size
- company ships only to the European Union, United Kingdom, and United States (does not currently ship to Switzerland, Canada, or Asia-Pacific)
CEO and founder of moonbird, Stefanie Broes, is a breathwork practitioner who holds a doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences. Broes says she used to experience insomnia and launched her company to get people to practice slower breathing after noticing how it helped her sleep better.
Why slower breathing? When you’re stressed or anxious, your heart rate and blood pressure increase, and your breathing quickens. This is known as the fight or flight response. Intentionally slowing your breathing can help bring things back down to a healthy level.
Additionally, a small
One of my favorite parts about using moonbird is how easy it is to operate.
You “wake it” by giving it a gentle shake — there is no power button. To use it quickly without opening the app, you place your thumb on the sensor (you’ll see a green light indicating where to place your thumb). You don’t need to press hard; just hold it gently in your hand with the thumb in its proper placement over the green light.
Moonbird will recognize you’re holding it and begin inflating and deflating, like a tiny set of lungs. Once it begins “breathing,” you start to pair your own breathing to its pace. Once it stops, you’ve completed one session. You can choose to finish your session or begin again if you’d like more time. Or, you can open the app for free guided sessions for different exercises (we get into more details on using the app in a minute).
One of my biggest criticisms about this device is that, at its $199 price point, it’s not exactly accessible. Right now, it’s available in just one size and four colors, none of which affect pricing.
The good news is that you can test the product for 30 days free of charge, with free delivery, tracking, and a money-back guarantee. This way, you’re not committed if it’s not the right device for you.
Returns and exchanges
Moonbird states on its website that you have 30 days to return your moonbird if you’re not happy with it. You simply email the company (firstname.lastname@example.org) and inform them about your return. From here, the company will send you a return shipping label.
The device you’re returning has to appear exactly as it was delivered to you — no damage and in its original packaging. The company also requires that you include your receipt, order number, or proof of purchase with a date. After the company has received your return, they will notify you.
Although the return policy states that customers have 30 days to return their device, it has some unclear language about needing to contact the company 14 days after you’ve received your device.
The company says approved refunds will be credited back to the original payment method within 30 calendar days.
I enjoy using moonbird to calm my mind. I have found it useful for taking a breather (literally) and think its pros outweigh its cons. Keep reading to see my full experience using moonbird.
What it looks like
Moonbird looks like a sleek and silky remote but without any buttons. Instead, there is a censor you place your thumb over when you’re ready to use it. Although it doesn’t exactly look like a bird, the experience may remind you of holding a bird, with its size and rhythm.
The moonbird “skin” is made from biocompatible, medical-grade silicone. The device uses a lithium-ion battery and an optical reflectance PPG sensor, which the company says is used to measure heart rate and derivatives. You can view this information using the moonbird app.
My device is black but is also available in a teal color, light blue, and off-white color. I wouldn’t recommend the off-white color since you’ll be holding your device, and the lighter color is likely to become dingey over time.
Your device will come with a carrying pouch (my pouch is blue, I don’t know if other colors are available). I suggest keeping your moonbird in the pouch when not in use so you can keep it safe from dust. I admittedly left mine out on my nightstand and noticed the material can become dusty or linty. This may be because black can show dust perhaps easier than other color options.
Your moonbird will also come with a charging cable (micro USB). You can use this cable to charge it via your computer or a wall charger if you have one handy. It’s important to keep a close eye on this cord — it connects to your device via little magnets, and it’s unlikely you can find a replaceable cable for it in stores. I will say that in my experience using this device, the battery life is impressive and wasn’t a concern for me. I like using it, knowing I don’t have to worry about it quitting on me out of nowhere.
Your free moonbird app, which connects to your device via Bluetooth, will show you precise information on battery life. Otherwise, you won’t know by looking at the device if it needs to be charged or not. The brand says that charging takes about 3 hours to complete.
Speaking of the app, it’s optional. I like that the device doesn’t alienate users who’d rather unplug (literally) and focus on their breathing without looking at their phone. I also like that using all the app’s features doesn’t require additional purchases.
For those who’d like to tinker with the app, there are endless options to explore.
Using the app
You’ll connect your moonbird to your smartphone via Bluetooth to use the app. Your device will have instructions for pairing, but it’s relatively simple. The process may vary depending on your phone, but you’ll need to first download the app for Android or Apple.
Next, turn on Bluetooth on your phone, gently shake your moonbird awake, and open the app. The app will “search” for your device and should sync to it pretty quickly.
Once your moonbird pairs to your phone, you’ll scroll through all the breathing exercises available on the app. You’ll see options like:
- a breathing break
- falling asleep
- box breathing
- curb anxiety
- set your own breathing rhythm
Once you make your selection, you’ll have the option to “check in” before the exercise begins. This step is optional, but it is designed to help you track your mood before and after you perform the breathing exercises.
The app automatically begins exercises with guided audio walking you through each step, but if you prefer, you can mute the audio. I found the audio to be an extra calming touch worth listening to, especially if you’re using moonbird to curb anxiety or help you fall asleep.
The app also includes a guide with “episodes” to help you learn more about breathing exercises. Plus, using the app, you can view your heart rate and rate variability in real-time.
Finally, you can view your stats, which show weekly, monthly, and yearly information about your completed sessions. I personally haven’t used this feature much. I’m more interested in using moonbird as a quick way to redirect my focus to my breathing rather than charting my progress, but many may find this information useful and encouraging.
I was pleasantly surprised when I unboxed my moonbird. The packaging seems designed with calmness and simplicity in mind. The box is well organized with its components, and the easy-to-understand directions are a big plus. Your moonbird will probably be ready for your first session upon unboxing it like mine was, but if not, you’ll need to charge it using the cable it comes with.
A little menu shows you in just three steps how to quickly operate your device (for those not using the app). Then an accompanying booklet gives more information about using it with the app.
When you’re not using it along with the app, the device is so simple that you may wonder if you’re using it right at first. I had that moment at first but noticed that its ease of use is part of its appeal. After all, if you’re looking to unwind or calm down, you’d rather it be easy and intuitive.
My first time using the moonbird was a test run — I wasn’t particularly stressed or anxious; I just wanted to see how it worked. My true first session came later on when I noticed I could use a break during my hectic day.
Holding moonbird, closing my eyes, I felt calmer in probably just a minute or so. I think holding the device as I shifted all my focus to my breath forced my mind to shut out distractions. With calmer, deliberate breathing came a calmer state of mind.
Moonbird is different from many anxiety-relief options because it’s a physical device that can pair with free guided breathing exercises. While there’s an abundance of meditation apps designed to help calm your mind and focus on breathing, they don’t have a physical component.
Holding an object, especially one performing the task you’re setting aside time to do, makes your session feel official.
As someone with smaller hands, I wish the device came in different sizes. I like that it’s ergonomically designed, but the soft silicone material makes the device feel slippery. Initially, this aspect was a little distracting for me, not knowing if it would slip out of my hands as I used it lying down. A little grip somewhere on the device would help.
I’ve already mentioned price as a significant downside to moonbird, but it’s worth repeating. But if you consider the costs you’re saving by not subscribing to a pricey meditation app, meditation classes, breathwork classes, etc., a one-time cost may feel worth it.
Plus, moonbird allows you to access information about your heart rate, and I like that it’s convenient to use it silently without the app, and that you can easily travel with it. It’s low maintenance and has a mighty battery life. I plan to use moonbird to get calm in a hurry next time I feel overwhelmed.
If moonbird is within your budget, and you’ve noticed that slow breathing has helped you enter a calm state before (but feel you can benefit from a physical device that helps you get there), moonbird may be a good idea for you.
Since intentional breathwork can be tricky to master and make time for on your own, this device aims to help you get into a calmer state by breathing with you.
Moonbird can help you perform breathwork exercises both with and without an app. The app gives you access to free guided meditations and more.
While this device is best suited for someone who experiences anxiety or could use some help falling asleep, it’s not a replacement for mental health treatment by a professional. A healthcare professional can help you decide the best way to manage anxiety, and may help you find the cause behind trouble sleeping.
For those who’d rather save some money, it still may be worth learning more about slower, intentional breathing as a form of meditation. Some meditation apps require a fee to use, but you can also browse guided breathwork videos on YouTube or get books from the library to learn more about it.
Moonbird is still a new device, so you won’t find tons of customer reviews on it just yet. For example, at the time of writing, moonbird doesn’t seem to have any Google reviews, but it does have a profile on TrustPilot, a third-party review site.
This profile shows a total of 16 reviews currently, with a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars. Here, reviewers mention how the gadget helps them relax and get better sleep. The only poor review, written in Dutch, expresses that their moonbird did not work, and they were disappointed with the wait time to receive a new device.
Right now, the company doesn’t seem to have any lawsuits or a profile with the Better Business Bureau. It’s worth mentioning that the company has plenty of mentions and editorial reviews from a good range of global publications.
Reviews on the company site are mostly glowing, with 82% being 5-star ratings. One 4-star rating says the device helps them remember to take a breathing break since it’s a physical device.
Moonbird is a trailblazing device for handheld help with anxiety, but you can also browse plenty of other options, including:
Moonbird is different thanks to its focus on slow, intentional breathwork and the free app loaded with guided exercises, but it’s not the only handheld gadget for calmness and falling asleep.
For example, Sensate is a newer vibrating device created to soothe users, lowering stress and anxiety via vibrations instead of the contracting and expanding effect that moonbird offers.
Another way it’s unlike moonbird is that it isn’t designed to be held in your hand. Instead, it’s a pebble-shaped object you place on your chest. It comes with a lanyard you can wear around your neck, so your device doesn’t slip off as you’re lying down.
Sensate more or less requires users to lie down in order to use it. Unlike moonbird, you do have to use the app to operate it. Additionally, Sensate is $299 — that’s $100 more than moonbird. It is available in different packages though, in case you want to purchase more than one at a time.
Whether you choose to test moonbird or not, the start of a new year is a great time to test methods that may help ease feelings of anxiety.
If you can visit a health care professional, especially a mental health professional, great. This is an excellent first step in your mental health journey.
Another good move is considering mindfulness programs, as they can help keep you in the present instead of an anxious future or dwelling on the past.
Meditation is one of the other best approaches for better mental health, and you may notice a difference in one session (but don’t stress if it doesn’t happen that fast).
Keeping an active lifestyle is also a natural way to combat anxiousness.
Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
If you, or someone you know, have thoughts of suicide, dial 988 for free, confidential help 24/7.
Where can I buy moonbird?
Is moonbird a medical device?
No. Moonbird is considered a consumer product easily purchased online. It should not be thought of as a replacement for seeking medical mental health treatment, like medication or therapy. For mental health resources, see our guide here.
What is moonbird made of?
According to the manufacturer, the device is made of 100% biocompatible, medical-grade silicone.
How do I care for my moonbird device?
It’s best to take gentle care of your device by cleaning it occasionally (but not too frequently). The brand instructs moonbird users to clean it using a damp cloth with water, mild soap, or alcohol gel at 70%. Do not submerge your device in water, keep it in extreme temperature conditions, or use other cleaning agents aside from mild soap or alcohol gel. The brand also states it’s important to avoid dropping it, and to never disassemble it. Make sure it’s nice and dry before charging it. It’s also a good idea to keep it in its carrying case to protect it from spills and dust.
Breanna Mona is an empathetic writer committed to helping people live their most authentic lives. Her work focuses on general health, wellness, beauty, sexual health, and mental health. Breanna is also a pop culture enthusiast, covering high-profile entertainment stories. She holds a master’s degree in media and journalism from Kent State University.