Using technology to manage stress: Monitor Your Heart Rate to Relax
If you find yourself feeling stressed, a common symptom is an elevated heart rate - something you may have noticed if you’re running late picking up the kids, presenting an important meeting or lying in bed, fretting about the next day’s jobs. That's why monitoring your heart rate can be a powerful tool when it comes to managing your stress, and ultimately, learning how to relax.
Stress has an incredible physical impact on our body, and whilst some stresses are normal and provide the burst of energy and adrenaline needed to keep up with an urgent task and so on, feeling like this all the time can be incredibly bad for our health.
The biological response
The stress response was originally a biological response to a perceived threat, injecting our body with adrenaline and pumping blood into our arteries at a faster rate so that we could be ready to act quickly. When faced with a hungry wolf or sabre-toothed tiger for instance, running away from or fighting the threat would seem a logical response.
However, in the modern era, most of us don’t encounter life-threatening dangers in our everyday routines. This extreme biological response to stress isn’t really needed – yet we still experience it frequently.
Retraining Our Bodies to Respond Adaptively
As we mentioned above, sometime this adrenaline response is useful and helps us focus so we can hit a deadline or perform better for a short period, but long term we need to learn to manage the way we respond to stressors.
One really useful way to do this is to track your heart rate and monitor when it becomes unnaturally elevated, so you can note your key stressor triggers as and when they crop up.
Many of our therapists are big advocates of some of the above fitness trackers and they have been rated widely as some of the best on the market. Of course there are also other options out there for monitoring your heart rate. You can buy cheap chest heart rate trackers that link to your phone via
Bluetooth and wear wherever possible or when you want to track your heart rate. Alternatively, there are even free heart rate reading apps you can download for your phone to use on the go, such as Instant Heart Rate, so you can track specifically at times when you feel stressed.
Understanding Your Heart Rate
By tracking your heart rate throughout the day is that, over time, you can start to see where your baseline heart rate is and note the times where you find yourself elevated unnecessarily. Now it comes to the fun part: reprogramming how you react.
This stage is more than just about reducing your heart rate and managing your biological response – this comes with managing your overall perception of the problem. Since stress is often an made in the mind, that’s where you have to start.
For example, most situations that might immediately cause us to become stressed might not be quite so bad if looking at the bigger picture. Often all it takes is stopping to take a breath. Burned dinner can be an opportunity to treat ourselves to that takeout we’ve been craving, or a tough deadline can often be made more manageable if we simply ask for help. Often, preparation also is key. Find yourself stressed in the morning when you leave for work or to drop the kids at school. Set your alarm five minutes earlier and learn to make your life as stress-free as possible.
The great thing about heart rate monitoring to track your mental health and stress levels, is that over time you will start to see real results. You can also work to improve your resting heart rate to be the healthiest you you can be!
We hope you enjoyed this article and found it interesting. As always, if you have any questions for the stress gurus at Sense, get in touch! We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for future article topics.
Now stay healthy and happy!