Wrist-based trackers for stress management

I’m looking for a wrist-based tracker that can help me with stress management.

I’m mainly looking for two features:

  1. Quick stress assessment: With a glance at my wrist I’d like to see how I’m doing and if it’s time for a brake or a mindfulness exercise. If I can get my stress level quantified in this way I’d also get feedback if the brake was helpful or not by comparing values before and after the brake.

  2. Notifications: Similarly it would be nice if the tracker itself could tell me when it’s time for a brake.

Considered solutions

  • I tried out a tracker with a Heart Rate Monitor for a week, and found it very helpful. Watching my heart rate while not moving got me a sense on what was low and high for me. Helped me with #1 above.

  • The new watchOS for Apple Watch offers notifications when you are not moving and have a higher heart rate than usual. This sounds as a solution for #2. Does anyone know of other trackers with this feature?

  • The Garmin Vivosmart 3 offers stress tracking, but they don’t disclose how it’s calculated more exactly, so I can’t be sure how good it is. HRV, for example, is mostly not very well calculated for wrist-based trackers.

Are there others solutions I haven’t thought of? What do you think about the alternatives I found so far? Thanks in advance!

Heart rate doesn’t seem like such a useful way to quantify stress, unless you’re a Buddhist monk and your definition of stress includes any kind of emotional arousal :slight_smile: So you’re stuck with tedious self-reporting :frowning:

Like with driving, where some cars can now detect when you are starting to show signs of impairment, you should probably take breaks before it comes to that. Consider using a Pomodoro-type technique if possible, where breaks are a built-in feature.

Thanks Eric! I think you are absolutely right that stress is a very subjective think. You can have a high heart rate and still be happy and excited about something.

I guess for me it’s still valuable to get objective feedback when I actually am trying to relax and calm down to see how well it goes.

It also seems valuable to get feedback on your HRV. I’m for example thinking about the positive effects Steven Jonas had with his experiment: http://quantifiedself.com/2013/07/steven-jonas-on-tracking-stress/
I wonder if there are more modern tools for this now, four years later.

For stress management, monitoring your breath using something like the Spire might be more effective. Keeping an eye on your heart rate is most useful while exercising, and once-a-day resting heart rate (and HRV) measurements can be used to help gauge how your body is responding to exercise.

I second what @ejain did write. Heart rate will be not enough (and even so - wrist-based pulse meters have poor quality) and would definitely look for something different. I recommend reading this and then consider choosing Aidlab for example, that mixes a couple of signals (including respiration) to measure stress.