Stress-beating tech to keep you sane

These innovative wearables for your mind claim to make you calmer
Stress-beating tech to keep you sane

You'd be forgiven for assuming that wearable tech is all about fitness trackers to help shed the pounds and keep you on track to reach your fitness goals.

We've seen a steady rise in tech aimed at keeping our minds in shape, just as much as our bodies. Stress tracking is one of the most wanted features from wearable tech, while major players like Apple are even getting in on the calming act.

Read this: The science behind Apple and Fitbit's mindfulness push

There's been little conclusive research to date into the benefits of strapping tech to ourselves to keep us more calm, more grounded and more focused. But we've collected together some of the most interesting devices that claim to be built for your brain, some of which are available now, others that are coming soon.

Apple Watch Series 2

Apple's second generation smartwatch is sportier, but it's not all about tracking your runs and swims without your iPhone.

With watchOS 3, Apple introduced a new Breathe app with the goal of helping you to relax by focusing on your breathing. Using the Watch's taptic engine, you can pick from one or five minute sessions. A series of small vibrating buzzes will replicate a more calming breathing rhythm as you follow the instructions on the Watch display. It will also monitor heart rate to add to your breathing session data.

Wareable verdict: Apple Watch Series 2 review

From $369, apple.com

Fitbit Charge 2

Stress beating tech to keep you sane

Our current fitness tracker favourite follows in the footsteps of the Apple Watch by adding a new guided breathing feature squarely aimed at helping you de-stress.

Also available for the Fitbit Blaze, Relax uses the onboard heart rate monitor and HRV monitoring to detect changes in heart rate and offer personalised breathing options that are available in one-minute or five-minute long sessions.

When you're not taking a breather, there are all the usual fitness tracking features to make use of as well along with improved sleep tracking and a VO2 Max test to determine your current state of fitness.

Wareable verdict: Fitbit Charge 2 review

$129.95, fitbit.com | Amazon

Garmin Vivosmart 3

Stress beating tech to keep you sane

Like the Charge 2, the Vivosmart 3 adopts a more mindful approach to fitness tracking.

Using heart rate variability (or HRV), the Garmin wearable is able to track your heart and present a stress level score at any moment of the day. If it happens to be high, you can kick off a guided breathing exercise to re-centre yourself.

The Vivosmart 3 also packs in a bigger display than its predecessor the Vivosmart HR+ and offers gym-friendly features like rep counting to keep a closer eye on your weights sessions.

Wareable verdict: Garmin Vivosmart 3 review

$139.99, garmin.com | Amazon

Touchpoints Basic

Stress beating tech to keep you sane

After launching its first device in 2016, the Touchpoints Basic promises to kill your stress in just 30 seconds.

Worn on both of your wrists or clipped onto your clothing, the Basic wearables harness neuroscience technology sending alternating vibrations that aim to alter the body's Fight, Flight or Freeze response to stress and anxiety. This will then apparently restore homeostatic nervous system functioning, which will allow you to think clearly and become calmer.

The Touchpoints Basic is scheduled to ship in August 2017.

From $129, thetouchpointsolution.com

Vitali

Stress beating tech to keep you sane

This smart sports bra successfully completed its Kickstarter campaign and now it's ready to go into production in a quest to help its backers relax.

Read this:Vitali smart bra wants to fight stress

The garment is embedded with sensors that are able to track breathing rate, posture and heart rate variability. HRV is a clinically proven indicator of stress and along with tracking breathing and posture will help identify what triggers stressful moments in your life.

Vitali and its embedded sensors is washing machine-friendly, just make sure you remove the module first.

From $129, vitaliwear.com

Prana

Stress beating tech to keep you sane

Prana is built to keep tabs on your breathing and your posture. But it's not been designed to purely stop your shoulders from hunching, it works on the premise that the better your posture is and the more controlled your breathing is, the happier and healthier you'll be.

Read this: Meet the biofeedback tech fighting a stress epidemic

Clip the little disc-shaped Prana device to your waistband and it'll track the way both your diaphragm and chest move in and out while you breathe and the position of your body.

Using a series of algorithms, the gadget can then work out the quality of your breathing and then urges you to make changes through a series of breath patterns, basic movements and simple games.

$150, prana.co

Bellabeat Leaf Urban

Stress beating tech to keep you sane

Dubbed "smart jewellery" rather than a headset or run-of-the-mill wristband, the Leaf Urban from Bellabeat is the startup's second generation activity tracker designed to monitor steps, sleep and ovulation.

Built with women in mind, the Bellabeat also has a huge focus on stress levels at its core with dedicated features on the way in the near future.

The device works on the premise that shallow, rushed breathing equals stress, so it monitors your breathing and teaches you how to re-focus and calm your mind through a series of breathing exercises that you can easily visualise with the Leaf's accompanying app.

Wareable verdict: Read our full Bellabeat Leaf Urban review

$139, bellabeat.com | Amazon

Muse

Stress beating tech to keep you sane

Another headset-style device, the Muse is all about sensing what's going on in your brain and allowing you to change your state yourself rather than zapping you with electric signals.

Using seven EEG (Electroencephalogram) sensors along your scalp, the Muse measures your brain activity in real time and alerts you to calm and stressed moments through audio cues. It then guides you through a series of exercises in order to train yourself and identify distractions.

The idea is you'll then be able to go it alone and apply these calming techniques to your daily routine. So it's essentially just meditation for those who need a tool to help them out.

Wareable verdict: Read our full Muse review

$249, choosemuse.com | Amazon

Feel wristband

Stress beating tech to keep you sane

This wrist-worn tracker claims to be able to monitor emotions and stress levels throughout the day and even help you get in a better mood.

Through multiple sensors including a Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), the Feel wristband is able to detect something called Electrodermal Response EDR, which is regarded as a great indicator of emotional state. That's also combined with a movement, blood volume pressure and skin temperature sensors to deliver the data to your phone.

Data logged can give an indication of your emotional state and help identify the factors that could be having an impact on it. Whether that's an environment you've been in or people you've met. It'll even offer offer breathing and meditation exercises to get you feeling good again. You can reserve one right now, and it's set to ship soon.

$149, myfeel.co

Thync Relax Pro

Stress beating tech to keep you sane

In 2016 we tried out Thync's Vibe, a small triangle that sits on your head and uses ultrasound to raise energy and lower stress. Now the makers of the mind-altering headset have tweaked the design for the stress busting Thync Relax Pro.

The device, which sits around the neck and uses similar technology featured in the first device that creates a kind of mini massage where you can control intensity from the Thync companion app.

Read this: Thync Relax killed my stress in 10 minutes

These feel-good signals aren't just meant to make you calmer, but also help you get a better night's sleep. We found it definitely helped us wind down - you can read more by heading to our full review.

Wareable verdict: Read our full Thync Relax Pro review

From $149, thync.com

WellBe

Stress beating tech to keep you sane

The WellBe might look like your average fitness tracker, but it's built for wellness, not fitness.

A built-in heart rate monitor detects your stress levels based on time, location and the people you meet. The WellBe app will paint a picture of the things that trigger your stress levels, the premise being that more awareness will enable you to better deal with certain people or events. Whether this works to empower or overwhelm you in the real world remains to be seen.

It also provides you with ways of reducing your stress levels when they soar, meaning it's not just about detecting stress but serving up solutions too, like meditation and focused breathing, when you need them.

$149, thewellbe.com

Spire

Stress beating tech to keep you sane

Based on a similar premise to Prana, the Spire is a small wearable device that clips onto your clothes and monitors your breathing.

Using a series of sensors, Spire keeps an eye on inhalation and exhalation times, your breathing rate, the steps you take and the calories you've burned. It pairs up with an app that will deliver guided meditations and tips for chilling out when the device senses you're tense or your breathing is hurried and shallow.

The fact it also keeps an eye on steps and calories means it's a great all-rounder if you'd rather not spend all your wearable budget on a breath tracker. There's further good news that Spire now works with Android phones as well as iPhones.

Wareable verdict: Read our full Spire review

$129.95, spire.io | Amazon


Shop for recommended fitness trackers on Amazon

Fitbit Charge 2
Fitbit Charge 2
$89.99
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
$139.99
Withings Steel HR
Withings Steel HR
$199.99
Moov Now
Moov Now
$59.99

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