Stress Check from Azumio is pretty simple. It uses the camera on your phone to take your pulse and then analyzes the variability of your heart rate to calculate your level of stress. Research evidence increasingly links high heart rate variability to good health and a high level of fitness, while decreased HRV is linked to stress, fatigue and even burnout. Algorithms used to analyze HRV follow recommendations of European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology (NASPE).
A number of studies have shown that HRV is an important indicator of both physiological resiliency and behavioral flexibility, reflecting an individual’s capacity to adapt effectively to stress and environmental demands. It has become apparent that while a large degree of instability is detrimental to efficient physiological functioning, too little variation can also be pathological. An optimal level of variability within an organism’s key regulatory systems is critical to the inherent flexibility and adaptability that epitomize healthy function. This principle is aptly illustrated by a simple analogy: just as the shifting stance of a tennis player about to receive a serve may facilitate swift adaptation, in healthy individuals, the heart remains similarly responsive and resilient, primed and ready to react when needed.
Most of us know when we are stressed. But we don’t always know how to relieve that stress. One way to use this application is to take a measurement and work on ways to decrease the effect of stress on your body. In future posts we’ll talk more about how you can use this biofeedback in conjunction with deep breathing exercises.
There are more accurate machines on the market for measuring this but they tend to be in the $600 range. Heart Math was one of the first companies to offer such machines. Now that most people are carrying an $800 computer in their pocket or purse the possibilty of extending functionality of the smart phone increases. Oh, and this one lets your tweet your stress level to the world!