For some, stress is something that is thrived on, a motivator, a call to action centred around that feeling in the pit of the stomach. But for most, it is an unpleasant sensation that only distracts us from the task in hand.
However, increasing evidence points to the fact that stress is not just unpleasant and distracting, but poses a serious health risk. Some studies say that chronic stress on a day-to-day basis is the same as smoking five cigarettes.
The challenge this month is to therefore come up with a way of managing and preferably doing away with stress. However, the idea is not to get people to do less, quite the opposite. Stress by its nature is self-induced, despite any obvious external stimulus – cue furtive look to a lazy co-worker or uptight manager, some people ‘feel’ more stress than others. Just ask the hippies!
However, before looking at others, firstly take a look inwards. Your behaviour has a huge effect on those around you. Stress is contagious, just as calmness is. So, any solution should try to influence your immediate state of mind by making you aware of what your body is doing.
Stress is all consuming, and it is often only in hindsight that you realise how stressed you were. Any solution should try and alert you to the fact that you are feeling stressed early, so you take action. The solution should be about giving you subtle clues about what is happening to your body, so you can think about how to reduce it.
The solution to last month’s challenge about how to better manage stress comes from Kickstarter start-up, Lief. The small ‘smart patch’ tracks and optimises your resilience to stress by training you to increase your natural heart rate variability (HRV), a biomarker of your physical and psychological health. A low HRV score is linked with anxiety, distraction and poor performance.
When the wearer starts to feel anxiety or stress, Lief will vibrate on the body and help guide the heart back to the restorative rhythm. When the Lief vibrates, the wearer is cued to exhale and be put back on track to a healthy HRV. This resonant breathing exercise, known as HRV biofeedback, is a simple and safe way to amplify your HRV wave.
When your mind and body are relaxed, your heart naturally speeds up on each inhale of breath, and slows down on each exhale. This creates high HRV, and a gentle wave pattern in your heart rate known as respiratory sinus arrhythmia.
Lief uses short three-minute biofeedback exercises as a central training tool in building long-term results. By practicing throughout the day, you can maintain your physical and emotional resilience while staying focused and balanced.
The device has rigid scientific backing from doctors and psychologists and is designed to comfortably fit and bend with your torso.