Here's How To Keep Your Stress In Check With A Stress Tracker

Part of feeling good and staying well is knowing how to manage your stress. With today's technology, there are actually ways to track your stress to get to know your body better — and also get ahead of what may stress you. Smartwatches and rings that can already track your heart rate, steps, sleeping habits, physical activity, and even calories can now also track stress through a stress tracker. There is so much that can occur in your daily life that may be a trigger for what is stressing you out, and it can come in ebbs and flows, depending on the event, the day, or even your personal life. 

In fact, Dr. Kristen Casey, a licensed clinical psychologist and stress management specialist, tells Bustle that stress varies from person to person, stating that it is "perceived differently by everyone." This is why these stress trackers may be beneficial to you, as it allows you to collect personal data that is unique only to you and your body.

How stress checkers track your stress

Stress checkers often have monitors for your heart rate variability (HRV) for intervals between each heartbeat, which can determine your level of stress. According to Business Insider India, fewer intervals between heartbeats indicates higher stress, and more intervals indicates less stress. With this kind of information, it can track your stress levels throughout the day. Depending on which smartwatch you're using, some of them have features such as electrodermal activity, heart rate alerts when it is too high or low, tracking specific activities, and blood oxygen levels, among other ways it can determine stress levels.

"HRV can be a helpful tool that we use to assess our autonomic nervous system state," Dr. Kristen Casey tells Bustle. The autonomic nervous system is split between the sympathetic response which is the stress response, and the parasympathetic, or relaxation, response. "This is where HRV comes into play," Casey says. "If it notices something out of the ordinary, it may alert you that your heart rate is too high or low."

Similar to a smartwatch, smart rings offer tracking through heart rate and temperature fluctuations. A 2015 study published in Temperature shows how your temperature can increase during stressful situations. This event is known as psychogenic fever. Stress that happens in real time can cause your temperature to go up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and chronic, long-term stress can cause a persistent fever of 99 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you wear a smart ring for a while, though, it will be able to notify you when your temperature also begins to look abnormal to your body. It would also be able to track your sleep cycle, which, if poor, can result in stress, too (via Bustle).

What to do with your data

Because heart rates can increase when you're stressed, excited, or even participating in physical activity, it's important to take another step when tracking your stress. You will receive your personal data from your device indicating moments when your heart rate or temperature went up, but a smartwatch or ring won't be able to tell you exactly why it occurred or the experience that caused it. Some apps, like Stress AI, work in combination with your smart device by having an option where you can describe the situation or moment in which your stress occurred. You can also document each moment with a description in a physical notepad on your phone's notepad app with a timestamp correlating to the alerts on your device.

Once you match situations or experiences to the alerts on your smartwatch or ring, you will be able to start making connections to what causes your stress. Then, once you begin to pinpoint these patterns, consider looking into ways to manage your stress. For example, WebMD suggests keeping a positive attitude, accepting what you can't control, exercising, or doing more of what doesn't stress you. Of course, stress management will be different for everyone, and you will have to figure out what works best for you.