Wellness Wednesday: Using a smartwatch to track stress and anxiety.

In August, I started wearing a hybrid smartwatch on the regular. The most interesting part of it all is: I wanted a hybrid smartwatch because I wanted the notifications from my phone at my wrist when my phone wasn’t near, and to better, more comfortably track my day-to-day.

I tried wearing my Garmin Forerunner 235 daily, but I didn’t like the fake analog watch faces (what can I say, I’m old school, I don’t like digital). And daily wear, for myself, was uncomfortable with the thick bezel and wide face.

I’d wear it for a few days in a row to keep track of my day statuses for heart rate and calories, but then I’d have to shelve it until I went on runs, walks, hikes, etc.

Looking around, I struggled to find exactly what it was that I was looking for in a smartwatch. Then, I found the Garmin vivomove HR. And pined over it, for quite awhile actually.

After two months of wearing it, after finally getting it, I’ve learned A LOT more about myself than I planned.

Yes, I’m keeping better track of my calories burned, just how active I am in regards to NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), etc and it’s helping me tailor my workouts, making sure I’m eating enough (because I always seem to yo-yo here).

But it’s also helping me better understand stress.DmVN-AKUwAEIeN6

How my body reacts to it. What days I experience it more. Moments in a day when I get hit with it more than others. And finally, being able to better pinpoint new anxiety triggers that have cropped up these past few months.

In an effort to summarize in a TL:DR: A simple watch is helping me better take control of my mental health.

The daily Stress Level feature gives me a snapshot of my day as it goes, and at the end of the day, summarizes, broken down by High, Medium, Low, and Rest levels into how many minutes and hours of my day fall into each.

Now, the watch is only pointing out certain hours of the day where my stress spikes (through a 24 hour graph that’s color coded), and breaking down how much time of each day I’m spending in various states of stress and rest. It’s MY job to sit down and figure out what was happening at that moment, WHY I’m so stressed at certain parts of the day versus others.

DmueqYRUcAA9GJnMy stress is a direct product of my anxiety.

Over my near 40 years of existence, I’ve become so accustomed to stress, that it’s just another thing for me in my day to day. I almost always never realize I’m getting stressed, or have become stressed, until I’m well into the throes of dealing with my anxiety. Which is also another thing that I’m so accustomed to, that most times, I don’t even recognize I’m struggling.

In the years of my “unpacking” it all, I’ve begun to uncover certain things with stress, anxiety, and depression. One of which was the connection between stress and anxiety.

Example: I have more personal training clients in the summer, but far less sports on my plate that I need to cover, less events, etc. As the result, Summers feel far more laid back. More easy going. That’s not to say I don’t experience any stress. Or anxiety. The frequency is less.

Winter time? Chaos. Shorter days, the most amount of sports all year to cover, holidays, events, etc. I’m stressed to the max. The shorter days, the DARKER days, already play havoc on my mental health, adding stress into it all… disaster.

I’m definitely curious to see how I track, daily, over the course of the upcoming winter months.

Looking back on what I’ve learned already, the consistent moments I had where that graph rose up, bright orange, spiking into the higher numbers, helping me recognize interactions with certain people, certain times of the day, and a few other things, that were attributing to my anxiety.

After making notes in the journal part of my day planner, it’s helped me become aware of what’s happening so I can either be prepared to take precautions to lessen the impact, or totally remove myself from certain interactions to help the status of my mental wellness.

My watch is more than just a pretty face (that rose gold analog is beautiful, no lie), or some pretty smart technology (it rep counts, and senses what exercise movement you’re doing for all of my weightlifting readers) – it’s giving me the upper hand in this, what feels like, forever long struggle with my head.

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Photographer. Writer. Fit mom. Athlete. Trainer/Coach. Nutritionist. Heavy lifter. Yogi. Pit bull mom. Outdoor enthusiast. Food lover. Garmin Crew.

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