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Tracking Stress for Better Health

Move over Fitbits and smartwatches! Stress trackers—the latest in wearable health-and-fitness technology—are having a moment. Stress has a tremendous impact on your overall well-being, with unhealthy levels of stress-induced hormones like adrenaline and cortisol often leading to illness and chronic disease. Stress trackers to the rescue! These smart devices can monitor your body’s physiological stress indicators to help you keep your response in check. Most trackers work by utilizing a heart rate monitor to track your beats per minute and give feedback on whether your heart rate is in a healthy range. They measure heart rate variability, or HRV, which is the difference in time between each heartbeat. Stress trackers can monitor how often your heart rate speeds up, which is often the case when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. This allows you to take note of those instances and hopefully find healthy ways to cope.

Virtual Therapy Remains the Reality

The Covid-19 pandemic ignited the widespread utilization of telehealth options, with mental health services at the top of the list. Online therapy is proving to have staying power and is now a mainstream medical practice. People love it for its convenience, accessibility, and anonymity (there’s no fear of running into someone you know in a virtual waiting room). But medical professionals are concerned that some people won’t benefit in the same way they would from in-person services. The cons of online therapy include relying on the internet and technology to be running optimally for sessions and the risk of a disconnect regarding body language and nonverbal cues that therapists rely on to provide the best care possible. However, many patients and healthcare professionals think that more people will take advantage of mental health services when they’re offered virtually. This means that therapists can have a far-reaching impact on people who don’t have the time, resources, or desire to seek in-office care.

Decompressing via Digital Detox

Did you know that Americans spend an average of four hours watching television, plus seven and a half hours on digital devices, each day? We check our smartphones an average of 96 times daily and spend at least two hours on social media. While some of us feel more connected and entertained via technology, many people report suffering from more stress, depression, sleep deprivation, and feelings of isolation than ever before. The solution might be a form of digital detox, which is the concept of taking a break from electronic devices, social media, and streaming services for a set period of time. The key to making a digital detox work, however, is to not be so self-limiting that you set yourself up for failure. Try to pinpoint your personal tech habits, like how often you pick up your phone each day or how many shows you stream before bed, and then declare some personal restrictions. Maybe you’ll put your phone away starting at dinner time so you can focus on your family each night. Or shut down your device before the next episode of your favorite new show starts so it can’t suck you in. Making small changes in digital consumption can help you regain some control over your time and your mental well-being. Just remember to start small in order to succeed.

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