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How does a smartwatch measure stress and help you control it

how does a smartwatch measure stress

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Smartwatches can track your fitness progress, calories burned, steps, and other data. Not only can they give you detailed feedback on your overall health and physical performance but also can track stress levels. Yes, some gadgets not only can show stress levels right on your wrist but also get detailed recommendations and reminders on mindfulness.

In this article, we will explain how they can monitor stress levels and help manage them effectively. Also, we will share tips on how to use one to help deal with anxiety.

How does a smartwatch measure stress?

These smart health wearables use heart rate monitors and algorithms to track stress levels.

For example, Garmin fitness trackers such as Instinct, Instinct Solar, Vivosmart 4, and Fenix 7 Plus use the Firstbeat algorithm to monitor how your heart beats from one moment to the next. This is called heart rate variability (HRV), which tracks any changes in your heart rate between physical activities. Garmin uses this metric to calculate stress level which is a score from 0 to 100, where a higher number means a high stress level.

Other trackers such as Apple Watch Series 8, use your heart rate data to estimate the resting heart rate (RHR) and your heart rate recovery (HRR).

A resting heart rate is the lowest rate when you are awake and relaxed while heart rate recovery is the difference between peak HR during a workout and HR one minute after stopping. Both of these metrics can give you an insight into your heart functions and how stressed you are.

Fitbit’s Sense 2 uses continuous electrodermal activity (cEDA) measurements, along with heart rate, skin temperature, and heart rate variability data, to detect when you’re feeling stressed out.

Can smart wristwatches help you control stress?

When we feel emotional or physical tension, our nervous system releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.

Severe stress and tension can be relieved with physical activity. Self-monitoring your progress with a fitness watch can help you remain engaged. Check out our useful buying guides to help you make a smart buying decision.

As a result, our body will react to these hormonal changes which prepare us for a fight or flight response.

Our heartbeats increase, the muscle tightens, and the breath quickens. This is what we call stress.

Many companies, such as Garmin, Fitbit, and Apple have created smartwatches, not only to measure stress levels but also to help you cope with tension, by controlling your breathing.

For example, Garmin watches have a Relaxation Breathing Timer that helps you breathe deeply. On the other hand, Fitbit fitness trackers have a Relax app that offers breathing sessions using your heart rate. Apple watches have a Breathe app that reminds you to focus on your breathing.

Here are the ways that smartwatches or fitness trackers can help you lower stress levels:

  • Help you customize your workout depending on your goal which helps release stress
  • Receive alerts when stress levels are high and suggestions on how to lower them
  • Track stress patterns and help you identify triggers
  • Motivate you to exercise and move more which can help your stressed body and mind
  • Track sleep quality and tells you how to improve it.
  • Remind you to practice mindfulness which helps decrease stress levels
  • Help you connect to friends and family who can support you. You can know people who are experiencing stress and anxiety to share ideas with them.
  • Metrics can be shared with your doctor so he can give you recommendations to improve.

Recommended reading: Breathing timer feature: Learn how to reduce stress levels fast

Can they help manage anxiety disorders?

More than 18% of adults between the ages of 18 to 54 in the United States are affected by anxiety.

This disorder can be defined as a feeling of nervousness about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Although normal levels of anxiety can be normal and healthy disproportionate levels can become a disorder.

You may have tried many ways to relax and control your anxiety. The good news is that many smartwatches can measure stress, can simplify our lives, and even help manage anxiety through guided breathing sessions.

This feature will help you control your breathing and learn how to breathe the right way which is essential to learn to control your anxiety and prevent panic attacks.

If you suffer from panic attacks or anxiety, visit Breathe Out Panic Attack, which is designed to help you defeat them the natural way.

Using smartwatches to manage stress and anxiety

Using smartwatches to measure and control your stress levels or manage your anxiety can be effective because they will motivate you to take care of yourself.

For example, if you did not work out before, a fitness tracker can motivate you to exercise. As you may know, physical activity helps reduce stress, regulate high blood pressure, and improve your well-being in general.

Here are the below tips to control your stress levels using a fitness tracker:

  • Monitor your stress levels regularly to help you identify any patterns and triggers
  • Keep yourself active track your progress and see how it is improving stress levels in the long run.
  • Use your fitness tracker’s move alert or steps counter
  • If it is possible to use a fitness tracker with a blood pressure monitor
  • if you don’t feel motivated enough to work out, try to exercise in the mornings or go for a walk
  • Enjoy the health features that a fitness tracker has to offer such as stress tracker, sleep quality, breathing rate, and heart rate. They can help you prevent or reduce the risks of heart problems, anxiety, obesity, and insomnia.
  • Many smartwatches can monitor your heart rate continuously which gives you a big picture of your heart health.

Are these stress fitness trackers accurate?

Fitness trackers can be accurate enough. However, an effective way to know if the heart rate monitor on your fitness tracker is accurate is to compare your health data with your doctor’s.

You can also check your pulse manually and compare the results with the ones with your tracker.

What are the best stress tracker watches in the market right now

There is no perfect smartwatch or fitness tracker but the right one for you. If you want to get a fitness watch with a stress monitor make sure to buy one with these features:

  • a reliable HRV sensor
  • user-friendly
  • clear display
  • long battery life
  • durable design
  • fits your budget
  • health functionalities (stress tracker, heart rate, sleep quality, etc)

However, some can be more reliable and advanced than others. Here are some of the recommended best smartwatches for stress monitoring and how they can help manage your stress:

  • Fitbit Sense 2

This is one of the most advanced smartwatches for stress monitoring. It has a cEDA sensor (continuous electrodermal activity) that measures your skin’s electrical changes and gives you a score that reflects the stress level you are experiencing. Also, it will calculate the Stress Management Score that uses the cEDA response score, HRV, sleep score, activity, and mood rating to give you more personalized feedback. Fitbit Sense 2 also offers guided breathing exercises, mindfulness sessions, sleep tracking, and other health and fitness features to help you cope with stress.

  • Apple Watch 8

The Apple Watch is another popular smartwatch that can help you track and manage your stress levels. It offers deep breathing exercises, using the Breathe app, to lower your heart rate and ease your mind. Also, Apple Watch 8 features a Mindfulness app that offers meditation sessions to help your concentration. The advanced and stylish Apple Watch 8 can calculate your HRV score and give you insights into how it changes throughout the day. Additionally, it has many other health and fitness features, such as sleep tracking, activity tracking, ECG monitoring, and fall detection, among others.

  • Garmin Venu 2

The Garmin Venu 2 is a sporty and durable smartwatch that can also help you measure and reduce your stress levels. It has a Body Battery feature that estimates your energy level based on your HRV score, sleep quality, activity level, and stress level. It features a Stress Level widget that shows how much stress you are experiencing and gives you feedback on how to lower it. Garmin Venu 2 can send relaxation reminders, breathing sessions, yoga workouts, sleep tracking, and other health features.


Now that we learned how a smartwatch measures stress, it is a good idea to invest in one. With that said, fitness watches can be an excellent alternative for those who want to improve their physical and mental health. They are undeniably great tools to help you manage stress and identify triggers. If you’re looking for a smartwatch that can do that, check out our useful buying guides to help you make an informed decision.

However, a smartwatch should not replace professional help if you have chronic or severe stress issues. If you feel very stressed or experience symptoms such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, chest pain, or digestive problems, you should consult your doctor or a mental health professional.

We hope this article has given you some insights into how a smartwatch can measure stress and help you control it. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below.

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