By: Lisa Philippart
Wearables have made the transition from technical innovations to fitness trackers within the past few years. So it seems that the most likely next step would be wearables that address the unseen level of well-being known as mental health. Many fitness trackers already monitor blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and skin temperature. Most trackers can collect data in real time, and over a period of time, to then be used to offer behavioral interventions. For example, when you breathe in a rapid, shallow manner, that is often a sign of anxiety. As this information is collected, your wearable could offer breathing exercises, guided meditations, or even just a nudge. The very act of checking your breathing patterns can help you lower your heart rate and reduce tension.
I would like to share with you some brief descriptions of a few wearables on the market that are designed specifically to help you become more mindful of your mental and emotional states. As with any product, you will need to do your research to determine which would work best for you.
The Spire Stone continuously monitors breathing, and can remind you to relax through alerts from a connected app. The Spire website states that Stanford researchers who tested LinkedIn employees wearing Spire, reported 37% greater daily calm, 27% fewer anxious days, and 25% more time spent physiologically focused. The Stone clips to your clothing and measures your breath via the expansion and contraction of your torso. The information is sent to your app where it is categorized as calm, tense, or focused. A notification on your phone and to the Stone alerts you to changes, so you can be more mindful of your breathing. (Cost is about $130.)
The Feel Wristband has multiple bio-sensors that monitor physiological signals, such as electrical energy, skin temperature, and heart rate. This information is transmitted to an app, which assesses your mental state through recognition of emotional patterns. The app then provides real-time CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) coaching techniques. The Feel Wristband website purports to help you become more aware of your emotions, which can lead to a deeper understanding of your internal and external triggers. The Feel app combines the information collected from the wristband with your input to provide guidance on how to better regulate and improve your emotional responses throughout the day. (Cost is about $150.)
Leaf Nature is a health tracker specifically designed for women, to be worn on your waist band or as a bracelet or necklace. Leaf turns breathing data into real-time advice for meditation exercises or guided breath work. The synchronized app is called Bellabeat, and it provides a simple, visual snapshot of your daily activity levels, sleep patterns, and meditative vs. stress periods. Information provided is designed to inspire and remind you of your daily goals and to motivate you to track your improvement over time. The Leaf Nature runs 24 hours a day on a battery that lasts up to six months. You can also set inactivity alerts and be notified of important events through a vibration in the Leaf. (Cost is about $140.)
WellBe proclaims to be the world’s first stress-balancing bracelet. The WellBe bracelet monitors your heart rate and uses that information to determine your stress and calmness levels, based on the time of day, your location, and the people with whom you have scheduled appointments. Over time, the app recognizes stress-producing events/people in your calendar and will provide guided meditations, focused breathing, and even personalized playlists to help you de-stress. The WellBe also records the changes in your stress/calmness levels while using the various stress release exercises, allowing you to see the before and after effects of each program you practice. The bracelet is made of cork, which is both a strong, durable material and feels soothing to the skin. (Cost is about $120.)
These devices all have the potential to ease common mental health problems and maybe even change the stigma surrounding mental health in the process. Until next time…..Lisa
By: Lisa Philippart
Licensed Professional Counselor