With so many other advances in wellness, the way we deal with stress has been off the radar for a while, but now the importance of successful stress management is back in the spotlight.
Over the last few decades most businesses have made strides in making work less stressful by introducing appropriate lighting and getting rid of cubicles, amongst other measures. The wellness movement has also meant that people are taking more steps to remove stress from their lives. And yet, many people still report high and rising stress and anxiety levels. And this cannot be good news, as the relationship between stress and heart disease, amongst other ailments, is well established.
In the past, tech tried to assist in monitoring stress levels by tracking one’s heart rate, but this data is not the most accurate measurement of one’s stress levels. But stress management is now in the middle of a revolution, with the appearance of a new generation of wearables that started to enter the market from the middle of last year.
What is interesting to note is the different approaches taken by the different manufacturers. Since wearable stress measurement is still in its infancy, we are sure to see an integration between these approaches for an even better approach to stress management in the future.
Some of the interesting innovations that appeared in the last year are the following:
- The latest Apple Watch (Series 6) comes equipped with a blood oxygen monitor. Although blood oxygen is not a surefire indication of stress, falling blood oxygen levels may be a result of quick and shallow breathing, caused by stress or an impending panic attack. The app will alert you when your blood oxygen levels dip, so that you can focus on breathing deeply to relieve anxiety.
- The latest Fitbit Sense measures electrodermal activity to monitor stress. Electrodermal activity is the changes in electric activity on the skin’s surface, which is usually the result of more sweat. Unless you are exercising, this may be the result of increased stress levels, particularly if your heart rate is also rising.
- Many other wearable devices use an integrated approach, which includes heart rate, sleep quality, exercise levels, and other metrics to create a picture of the wearer’s stress levels. These are then integrated with apps that help you to destress through guided stretching, breathing exercises or meditation.
- One of the more interesting-looking devices is called Cove, is a headset that delivers vibrations just behind the ears. Test respondents report that this provides great stress relief and even improved sleeping patterns.
It is interesting to note that it is not only on the gadget front where advances are being made in dealing with stress. Many dietary supplements that contain active ingredients with interesting names such as psychobiotics and adaptogens have undergone promising trials and have come to market recently.
While research has shown that stress is not always evil and may sometimes even push us to achieve our best, it is good to know that there the latest advances can help us to combat its most negative effects.