Pro or con: Do wristwatches help with, or cause stress. YOU decide – PART 1

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  • A lot of people suffer stress and anxiety in everyday living. If you are one of these you may have made some changes in your everyday life. Changes such as changing your sleeping habits, Perhaps you’ve prioritized sleep, gone to therapy, taken long walks in nature or given breathing exercises a go.
  • Some of the companies that are at the forefront of tracking stress include: Garmin, Apple, and Fitbit all offer wearables that come loaded with features.
    Some heavily marketed features of smartwatches include heart rate and stress monitoring.
  • Vital sign readings can be useful from a health standpoint
    There are indications that smartwatches may increase the wearer’s risk of developing health anxiety, or hypochondria, by checking their vitals too often.

If you want to stay consistent in meeting your health goals, consider using options like Apple Fitness+ to stay active with friends and family—and be sure to pick physical activities that you actually enjoy doin Smartwatches are often purchased to encourage yourself to be healthier and to help track stress.
A subject, who was a highly stressful person, bought a stress reducing watch to monitor her stress level. Stress monitoring is a function that the watch offers, yet this particular morning, it was hard to determine whether having that data really helps.

Out of morbid curiosity, she mashed some buttons until she could see my body’s stress level: The Garmin calculates this from my heart rate, blood oxygen, and activity levels, and scales my stress from 1-100. My stress level is (of course) sitting at a 92, so I follow the watch’s breathing prompts that aim to lower my heart rate and anxiety.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my little wrist computer. I enjoy the pings and dings that indicate I’ve met my step goal or that congratulate me for actually having worked out for 30 minutes.

Beware the Smartwatch: Hypochondria in Smartwatch Users

Everyone has heard about hypochondria, and everyone seems keen to weigh in on the issue. The truth is that health anxiety, properly known as hypochondria, is a really popular subject online and has been for ages. There are endless Reddit threads, tweets, and a shared cultural knowledge that googling any minor physical symptoms will likely result in a self-diagnosis of cancer.

Adding fuel to the fire is smartwatches. They’re a newer technology, and although jam-packed with tech, their heavily marketed features, like Apple or Garmin’s heart monitoring systems, just aren’t as advanced as professional equipment is yet—and that’s exactly why people with with heart issues that cause palpitations or other abnormalities including atrial fibrillation (AF) may be at the highest risk for developing symptoms of health anxiety from wearing a smartwatch. heart issues that cause palpitations or other abnormalities including atrial fibrillation (AF) may be at the highest risk for developing symptoms of health anxiety from wearing a smartwatch.

One published report found that a woman’s smartwatch gave her 55 AF warnings over one year. A closer evaluation of the watch’s data found that its EKG system may have been receiving inconclusive data but still interpreting that data falsely as a health alert. This may have contributed to her being diagnosed by a psychologist with hypochondria. Data collected from her smartwatch showed that the woman was checking herself for heart abnormalities almost three times a day, precisely 916 times over the course of just one year.
Many smartwatches offer monitoring systems that detect stress and offer breathing prompts to lower your heart rate and help you relax. You may find this option to be a useful tool, but if tracking your vital signs this closely feels overwhelming, then ditch it. When it comes to EKG readings and blood O2 measurements, those who are healthy probably don’t need to check this data too often. If you find yourself compulsively checking for heart or circulatory abnormalities, try disabling these features; or better yet, talk to a mental health professional, if you’re worried you have health anxiety.

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