Exhausted and overwhelmed: Understand and manage your stress triggers
Fitbit’s Sense smartwatch is more than a fitness tracker - it can help you to identify your stress triggers and manage their symptoms too
Fitbit research algorithms scientist Dr Belen Lafon emphasises that she believes understanding the body’s response to stress is key to managing it. Photographs: Fitbit
In the midst of a pandemic, stress is practically a universal feeling. If ever there was a time to get a better understanding of what causes us the most stress, and to learn how to begin to manage what triggers it, it's right now.
While we all know stress can be well managed with exercise, meditation and mindfulness, it's important to be able to identify exactly when we become heightened in terms of stress – and what to do when this happens.
The Fitbit Sense smartwatch can help with both aspects, as it is one of the first wearables that has the ability to measure the body's response to stress using biometric data. Using 12 different metrics, including heart rate variability, sleep patterns, responsiveness and exertion balance, it can help to define your stress management score.
"There are two different approaches to stress that we've taken," explains Fitbit research scientist Dr Samy Abdel-Ghaffar.
"We have an electrodermal activity or EDA sensor, which gives you a momentary snapshot of where you're at. You simply put your palm over the device and what it is actually doing is measuring little waves of sweat that are imperceptible to you, but indicate that your sympathetic nervous system is more active,” he says.
Understanding the body’s response to stress is key to managing it
“Then we have our daily stress management score, which uses data from your sleep, and more, over the last week – so steps, activity, your heart rate – to get a snapshot of how physically stressed you've been."
Fitbit research algorithms scientist Dr Belen Lafon emphasises that she believes understanding the body’s response to stress is key to managing it, so it's important to take action with the information gleaned.
"Stress is a nearly universal experience, with more than one-third of people across the globe reporting physical and mental side effects of stress," says Dr Lafon.
If a Fitbit Sense wearer gets a subpar stress score, she says the Fitbit app will offer actionable recommendations of how to get the score to a better place, such as mindfulness and meditation recommendations.
The pandemic has undoubtedly highlighted the critical role that stress management will have in our overall health and wellbeing. Fitbit's Sense smartwatch can provide much-needed support and increased health awareness throughout this crisis and beyond.
So, to discover three typical stress triggers and how you can identify and manage them using the Fitbit Sense, read on.
Your trigger: Feeling under pressure
Recent research by Fitbit discovered that 57 per cent of people said their stress levels were higher as a direct result of Covid-191.
Our body responds in many different ways to stress, and an increase in the sweat level in your hands is one of them. The Sense is the first wearable with an on-wrist EDA Scan app that detects electrodermal activity – which may indicate your body’s response to stress – and reveals a graph in the Fitbit app to illuminate it.
By combining these readings with the mindfulness tile in the Fitbit app, you have the tools and guidance you need to incorporate mindfulness more easily into your routine – and you’ll then know exactly when you need it most.
Work with it: The Fitbit app's mindfulness tile lets you set a goal and weekly mindfulness reminders, reflect on your stress, record your mood after sessions and meditate.
Premium members can choose from over 100 meditation sessions, listen to a variety of soothing sounds and see how the practice correlates with your mood over time.
Your trigger: Feeling exhausted
During the early stages of the first lockdowns, Fitbit analysed anonymous and aggregated user data and found that bedtimes and bedtime consistency shifted. Maintaining a consistent bedtime routine can have a massive impact on mood and stress, and getting enough high-quality sleep can positively affect people’s energy, activity, weight and more.
Work with it: The Sense gives you a daily Sleep Score in the Fitbit app and on your wrist to allow you to better understand your sleep quality each night. This is useful because by managing and understanding your sleep, you'll know whether you can prioritise your sleep schedule and nightly routine to ensure you’re well rested. One of the metrics that make up the Fitbit Sense stress score are measurements of deep and REM sleep from the previous night and whether your sleep was fitful or fragmented.
Your trigger: Feeling overwhelmed
Being healthy in today’s environment is about managing stress – a huge challenge right now due to everything going on in the world.
Research by Fitbit showed that 41 per cent of people have worked more hours while working from home1. Almost a third of people felt that their mental wellness has been negatively impacted as a result of working from home. It's no wonder the sense of overwhelm is creeping in more than ever.
Work with it: The Fitbit Sense helps people to learn how to increase their resilience to stress by looking at both the physical and mental aspects of it, by providing users with a Stress Management Score. You can easily log your mood, from very stressed to very calm, on the Sense after an EDA Scan session or in the Fitbit app to help you build a profile on what makes you feel good – and not so good.
Awareness is key, and identifying your triggers is vital. Understanding your body’s response to stress is an incredibly important health metric and can help you plan to have a better day – whether that’s tackling a tricky project, or skipping that workout in favour of an early night.
1. External research conducted by Course5 Intelligence in August 2020 across all adults 18+ and genders, on behalf of Fitbit. The external research results are based on a survey fielded among 14,071 consumers in Europe, including France (2,009), Germany (2,008), Ireland (1,006), Italy (1,009), Netherlands (1,000), Norway (1,001), South Africa (1,002), Spain (1,020), Sweden (1003), UAE (1,001) and the UK (2,012).