Bracelet that turns off stress

A break­through in biofeed­back de­vices known as “wear­ables” are help­ing many women make stress a thing of the past. Find the stay­serene sen­sor that’s best for you

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When it comes to stress, we all have our own MO: Some of us silently stew all day, oth­ers blow up when times get tense and still oth­ers lie awake at night wor­ry­ing. But re­gard­less of how we re­act, the health down­sides are the same, says Ju­lia Sam­ton, M.D., a board­cer­ti­fied neu­rol­o­gist and psy­chi­a­trist in New York City who spe­cial­izes in stress man­age­ment. “No mat­ter your type of stress—chronic, acute, sit­u­a­tional, un­der the radar— learn­ing to man­age it is key to avoid­ing neg­a­tive ef­fects like a di­min­ished im­mune sys­tem and high blood pres­sure.”

For­tu­nately, tam­ing ten­sion just got eas­ier, thanks to wear­able elec­tron­ics that raise aware­ness of your un­der­ly­ing stress lev­els and prompt you to in­ter­rupt any es­ca­la­tion. While the de­vices aren’t cheap, some em­ploy­ers and in­surance com­pa­nies now of­fer dis­counts for wear­ing them—and ex­perts note health-track­ing tech may re­duce the need for anti-anxiety drugs. Here, three top-rated op­tions:

On edge all day?

Non­stop to-do’s can trig­ger mild yet un­re­lent­ing stress be­neath the sur­face of your aware­ness so you don’t even re­al­ize how tense you are. Ex­perts call this “ice­berg stress”— and a new wear­able can min­i­mize its harm­ful ef­fects: Spire ($130, Spire.io) clips to your waist­band, sens­ing the ex­pan­sion and con­trac­tion of your torso to mon­i­tor your breath. A com­pan­ion app then in­ter­prets this data and tells you hourly where you fall on the calm-stress spec­trum, plus sug­gests breath­ing ex­er­cises. “Deep breath­ing is one of the most pow­er­ful ways to change your men­tal state,” Dr. Sam­ton says. “It in­creases oxy­gen to the brain and stim­u­lates the parasym­pa­thetic ner­vous sys­tem to pro­mote feel­ings of calm.”

Have mood swings & melt­downs?

You’re pretty Zen…un­til a traf­fic jam sets you off. Such stress can pass quickly but it’s not harm­less: Heart at­tack risk climbs eight­fold in the two hours af­ter an emo­tional erup­tion. “Many peo­ple don’t re­al­ize they’re near­ing a boil­ing point un­til it’s al­most too late to stop an out­burst,” says Dr. Sam­ton. En­ter The Wel­lBe bracelet ($149, TheWel­lBe.com), which tracks heart rate vari­abil­ity (HRV). “HRV is the time in­ter­val be­tween heart­beats, and it’s a marker of anxiety,” Dr. Sam­ton says. The bracelet shows (via an app that links to your phone cal­en­dar) your stress trig­gers (times, places and peo­ple that agi­tate you) and alerts you when your stress lev­els hit 60 per­cent, of­fer­ing guided med­i­ta­tions and re­lax­ing sounds to re­store calm.

Anxiety keep you up at night?

You power through the day, but at bed­time your mind shifts into over­drive, re­play­ing daily stres­sors. The re­sult? Stressin­duced in­som­nia, which makes you even more sen­si­tive to next-day ten­sion. To break the cy­cle, con­sider Fitbit Alta HR ($150, Fitbit.com), which tracks move­ment and sleep. Why that’s key: Sci­ence shows peo­ple who walk 10,500 steps daily are more re­silient to stress since ex­er­cise pro­motes brain func­tions needed to reg­u­late emo­tions. Sep­a­rate stud­ies show ex­er­cise brings on sleep 54 per­cent faster and cuts night­time awak­en­ings by 36 per­cent. The Fitbit helps with “get mov­ing” prompts so you reach the daily 10,500-step goal, plus “sleep in­sights” to im­prove sleep qual­ity.

SOURCE: Nau­tilus, Inc.

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