Imagine being told to take a break, breathe, and remain cool via a light touch to your wrist? All based on high levels of stress signals from your body. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?
The Apple Watch app Breathe (Mindfulness) and Calm are two apps that may assist in stress management. Taking deep breaths (mindful breathing) can reduce stress, according to a number of studies.
On the other hand, these applications do not activate automatically depending on your body’s stress levels but rather at preset intervals. The goal is to use these breathing reminders daily to avoid stress.
But, watches that measure stress are now available.
New fitness trackers promise to be able to inform individuals when they’re stressed out, in addition to tracking their steps and monitoring how long they sleep.
The aim is to assist individuals in identifying the sources of their stress so that they can avoid them if at all feasible.
Most devices that detect stress do so by observing changes in the interval between heartbeats, which is referred to as heart rate variability.
However, although heart rate variability has been used to assess stress for decades, fitness trackers may lack the data processing power required for reliable readings. Experts believe that it’s impossible to tell whether a drop in variability is due to stress or positive enthusiasm without further information and context.
Why is it important to reduce stress?
Stress, dubbed by the WHO the “Epidemic of the Twenty-First Century,” may be beneficial by keeping you aware and ready to escape harm. A person’s sense of well-being becomes negatively affected when they constantly face new difficulties, and no respite is available for relaxation. Headaches, tiredness, sleeping difficulties, digestive issues, high blood pressure, heart illnesses, aging, and obesity are possible side effects. The longer you are stressed, the worse it is for your mind and body, and the harder it is to recuperate.
Our ancient ancestors evolved this instinctive reaction to defend themselves from predators and other dangers. Fortunately, you’re not likely to be devoured by a wild animal these days. As a result, your body may respond similarly to those who face daily stresses such as work deadlines, paying bills, or making the daily commute to work. The impulse is still alive and well.
How do stress montioring watches work?
Several biometrics have been examined in the hopes of detecting stress, including sweat, temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, and volume. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
The heart, after all, is at the core of how most wearables measure stress. Heart rate monitors are used in devices like the Apple Watch 6, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, and numerous Fitbit trackers, which provide continuous input on our heart rates (beats per minute).
Wearable manufacturers have created other kinds of heart rate activity monitoring in recent years, which may reveal new health and fitness information. Heart rate variability is the one that is most important to this increase in stress monitoring.
Heart rate variability measures the interval between heartbeats. Unlike heart rate, which refers to the average heartbeats per minute, heart rate variability measurements concentrate on the heart’s tiny variations.
What’s important here is to figure out what’s causing the swings. Polar describes the many factors that may influence these oscillations. Age, body posture, time of day, and current health condition are all factors, but emotional, physical, and mental events also affect heart rate variability.
It’s generally thought that having an HRV is a positive thing. Stress is typically linked with a low HRV value. Diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol are all medical conditions frequently linked to those with a low HRV.
However, one assessment isn’t enough to determine whether or not you’re stressed.
Heart rate variability measures are used to assess or monitor stress in two different ways. The first is about providing insight into people’s mental health. Having a great deal on your mind will lead to this sort of tension.
We seldom see raw heart rate variability data. Therefore we typically see some interpretation of the findings to provide us with stress insights.
We’ve seen it used to monitor stress throughout the day, generating a stress score of 0-100 that lets you know whether you’re having a difficult time.
Another major use of stress monitoring and wearables is fitness and exercise. So, this is the idea of utilizing the same HRV data to show the strain placed on the body after exercise and what this means for your recuperation.
Brands like Garmin and Whoop use heart rate variability measures to provide insight into how ready your body is to perform. Whoop believes the value comes from identifying patterns in the data that may help you determine when you are at your best for a workout.
While a high HRV indicates good health, a low HRV indicates fatigue, thirst, stress, or even illness, all of which can negatively impact your ability to train. Monitoring your stress by looking back over your days and weeks can be very beneficial to you.
The best stress monitoring watches
In the realm of wearable technology, the primary aim is usually to monitor fitness activities. However, an increasing number of gadgets are attempting to determine your mental state. Lowering your stress levels may help you not only feel better today but also preserve your health in the long run.
This is a selection of some of the most prominent smartwatches that promise to help you relax. Although the stress monitoring industry is in its infancy, research has demonstrated that such devices may aid in stress management.
This fitness tracker’s newest feature goes far beyond simply counting steps and calories. It helps you maintain a healthy, happy lifestyle. There are also Guided Breathing Sessions among the plethora of health and fitness monitoring features. This is a soothing mindfulness practice that will help you relax your mind and body.
You have the option of a 2-minute or 5-minute session. The Sense is powered by PurePulse and calculates a comfortable breathing rate for you by measuring your HRV using your real-time heart rate. It then gradually eases you into a state of relaxation. Biofeedback and animations are shown on the screen to assist you in coordinating every inhale and exhale with the guidance.
Aside from that, the Fitbit Sense ticks all the boxes of a reliable activity tracker with intelligent features. The gadget has a big OLED display, continuous heart rate monitoring (including resting heart rate), and activity tracking. There’s even integrated GPS.
Read more about how Fitbit has begun a study into smartwatch blood pressure tracking.
The gadget will soon receive a major upgrade in the shape of a 24-hour stress monitoring function. This will take data from your heart rate sensor (resting heart rate and HRV, both of which have a connection to stress levels) and combine it with data from your sleep and activities.
The final result is a stress score that ranges from zero to one hundred. You should strive towards the latter. The Score represents Responsiveness, Exertion Balance, and Sleep Patterns as a result of this. The second and third are self-explanatory, while the first determines whether you’re in a fight or flight mode.
Those who do not have a Premium membership may see data from the last seven days. Owners of Premium Subscriptions get access to a lot more information, including long-term patterns and insights.
Bottom line: Fitbit devices did not measure stress for a long time. Everything is changing. For the brand, the Sense is a game-changer.
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The Apple Watch is the finest all-around smartwatch on the market right now. There isn’t any genuine competition. If you’re looking for a sports or fitness watch, though, there are better choices.
The newest version of the Apple Watch has an edge-to-edge retina display that is constantly on. Lift your wrist or tap it to bring it to life, and drop your wrist to dim it.
Regarding health and fitness, the gadget can detect falls, give out high/low heart rate warnings, monitor for atrial fibrillation, and has the much-discussed ECG sensor. You receive all of the previous generations’ excellent features, like GPS, all-day heart rate, and more.
The Apple Watch can help you de-stress in addition to reminding you to stand and move throughout the day. It will urge you to use the Breathe app to relax, concentrate, and meditate for a minute. Throughout this exercise, you will have a guide for your deep breaths. Plus, a daily nudge to relax. Breathe out for a specific amount of time, then let the animation and soft taps help you focus.
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Is it worth it?
In conclusion, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of the Apple Watch. The gadget, now in its sixth iteration, is full of fitness and wellness functions. When you combine it with a great design and a plethora of applications, you’ve got yourself a winner.
Garmin Vivosmart 4
The majority of Garmin’s new wearables now include stress monitoring. Whether it’s focusing on mental or physical stress, it’s all about gaining a better knowledge of how you deal with stress in your life and surroundings.
The most recent version of Garmin’s Vivosmart series has a blood oxygen sensor and maintains track of your body’s energy reserves. Aside from that, you’ll have all you need to monitor your activities around the clock.
Vivosmart 4 can detect your oxygen saturation levels at night thanks to the oxygen sensor. Although Garmin will not diagnose sleep disorders like apnea, it could help detect them. During the day, you may also check your oxygen levels on demand. Body Battery utilizes a mix of stress, HRV, sleep, and activity data to determine when you should push yourself and when you should relax.
When users are not moving, the gadget detects heart-rate variability, which it utilizes to compute and quantify stress levels as part of the 24/7 monitoring. You receive calming mindfulness experiences via deep-breathing sessions to make you worry-free. On the smartphone app, you may see a longer chronology of stress levels.
Garmin has begun to incorporate stress monitoring into some of its other fitness trackers and sports watches. Including the Vivosport and Vivoactive 3/4 4 fitness bands, which are the company’s most compact devices. The high-end Fenix 6 and the most recent batch of Forerunner watches will also support you in staying calm. There’s also the Venu line, so there’s something for everyone, no matter what sport they like.
Is it worth it?
Overall, this is a good small exercise band with a lot to offer. The majority of what a casual user needs for 24/7 activity metrics, with stress tracking, is here. Garmin has a lot of expertise developing these kinds of devices, so you can trust the data.
Why not check out our article on the best ECG watches in 2021?
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