How wearable technology can help in managing stress at work

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Representative ImageIn 1955, American professor Edward Oakley Thorp thought of creating a wearable computer as a concealable roulette prediction system. This culminated in a joint effort with friend Claude Shannon (You probably know him as “the Father of Information Theory”), during 1960-61, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And, before the 1970s would set in, the world had got its first wearable computer.Who knew that an invention that was the result of Las Vegas casinos barring Thorp for his card-counting adeptness, would inspire future technology that could help workers bar stress?

In the decades that followed later, this wearable computer was modernized into popular wearable technologies by companies the world over – physical activity trackers and smartwatches, for example. And the reason why Thorp-Shannon’s wearable computer is remembered more than ever before is partly because of such gadgets.

Wearable Technology Growth Outlook

According to Mordor Intelligence’s 2021 report, the market for wearable technology is anticipated to reach USD 74.03 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 17.65%, during 2021 – 2026.

In India – as per the same report – this market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 23.91% during 2022 – 2027.

How This Technology Came to Be Used as a Stress Manager

“Stress is a reaction to a situation – it isn’t about the actual situation. We usually feel stressed when we think that the demands of the situation are greater than our resources to deal with that situation. For example, someone who feels comfortable speaking in public may not worry about giving a presentation, while someone who isn’t confident in their skills may feel a lot of stress about an upcoming presentation. Common sources of stress may include major life events, like moving or changing jobs. Long-term worries, like a long-term illness or parenting, can also feel stressful. Even daily hassles like dealing with traffic can be a source of stress [Stress, Canadian Mental Health Association, 2018].”

It’s good to first look at the usual work-caused health problems before delving deeper into how the wear tech allays them:

Stressful work environments are created by a variety of factors, including monotony, pointless duties, time constraints, unfair burden, job instability, under- or over-promotion, conflicts with seniors, considerate rate management, bad organizational culture, zero personal life, etc.

Working in such circumstances for an extended period of time frequently results in such health concerns as persistent headaches or stomach aches, disturbed sleep, angry outbursts, and wavering focus.

When this stress becomes chronic, the same issues elevate to migraine, insomnia, digestive imbalance, fluctuating blood pressure, and even weakened cognitive organs. Additionally, workplace stress might aggravate existing medical issues like cardiovascular conditions, body weight, and depression. The situation is worsened by the fact that people who feel severe stress frequently try to cope by overeating or unhealthy eating, drinking, chain-smoking, or doing drugs.

Employees’ work lives are significantly impacted by such repercussions on their physical and mental health in the form of absenteeism, poor productivity, and turnover.

Employees are forced to change their priorities in order to focus on their health because they spend an average of approximately 75% of their waking hours working. Technology development has given them new tools to use as they strive to live better lives. As more employees use smartphones and health trackers, digital technology can aid both therapeutically and with constructive behavioral changes.

Types of Wearable Technologies Being Used to Monitor Stress

Nowadays, there aren’t many careers available that don’t involve stress. Workplace stress seems to have become a constant, particularly in traditional employment. To fight this slow killer or at least keep it in check, wearable technology has arrived as a new help.

Smartwatches, wristbands, head-mounted displays, ear wearables, smart clothing, body-worn cameras, exoskeletons, fitness trackers, portable medical devices, etc., work on algorithms using programming math, pattern recognition, and signal processing. Wearers can gain insight from this data by way of stress tracker apps.

These devices help in the following ways:

The in-built sensors can measure biometrics like breathing or pulse rates, including the smallest variations in your heart’s functioning, as well as identify any viral infection prior to the test.

By tracking your HRV (heart rate variability), these devices can actually initiate positive behavioral changes in you. For example, you can become more aware of how your conduct impacts your nervous system and body functioning by using tracked metrics.

Top-notch stress monitors provide age and body position adjustments. And they actively improve your health and well-being in addition to tracking your biometrics.

Wearing stress detectors won’t make you less stressed. It is the information they offer that can guide you in how to tackle your stress. Remember! You must compound this data with healthier choices and wiser decisions. Only that will be a true stressbuster!

This article has been authored by Abhishek Agarwal, President Judge India & Global Delivery The Judge Group



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