My last post about how I use Mental Health Chatbots got me thinking about other mentaltech I have used with good success. This post I want to talk about my use of the Spire Breath Tracker.
This wearable comes in the form of a stone shaped sensor which fits in the waistband of my pants. The sensing here is quite elegant. The stone merely detects the degree to which my waist expands and contracts. This motion is indicative of the pace at which I am breathing. This pace is also indicative of my mental state across a continuum of relaxed, focused and tense, the proxies the Spire app uses.
This sensor (and you can see how much use mine has gotten since 2015) is linked, via bluetooth, to an app which allows me to see the pace of my breathing throughout the day. It also vibrates when my breathing pace exceeds or fails to reach a certain pace. These vibrations remind me to either speed or to slow down the pace of my breathing.
The great personal “aha” from my Spire use is that I have a tendency to hold my breath when having stressful thoughts. This breath holding then creates a further sensation of anxiety due to oxygen deprivation. Cooperating with the Spire’s vibration, I have learned to take deep diaphragmatic breaths when confronted with unconscious stressful thoughts. As a result, I have become more conscious of my stressful thinking patterns that were previously below my line of awareness. I have additionally developed different breathing habits, and by extension, reduced my own general stress and resilience levels.
That the app tracks the number of minutes in a day that I am tense, relaxed, focused or sedentary is nice. That it also provides interventional exercises, called boosts, in response to the state of my breathing is beneficial also. In this regard, this wearable is not only a breath tracker but trainer. It’s not bad that it also tracks my steps, calories and has a 10-day battery.
It goes without saying that I am benefiting from this wearable. It’s a great example of how digital tech is being applied in the wellness, versus treatment, space. I am of the mind that these type of tech which passively monitors our biometrics and alerts us to health states we are not aware of are among the most promising applications in this space. I have to also add that I like that it handles a couple of the metrics (heart rate & sleep) that my Fitbit does and without occupying my wrist (an annoyance of late as it is crowding out my other watches).
Since I started using it in 2015, the Spire has evolved from the Stone to Tags that are permanently installed in your clothing. The cool thing about the tags, versus the Stone, is that it additionally tracks heart rate and sleep. Spire has also further evolved from wellness into the remote patient monitoring space. It will be interesting watching how their evidence and safety profile develops over time.
Thanks again for reading and spreading the word on The Digital Mental Health Project and take a few minutes to respond to our Digital Stress Management Survey. Please also subscribe to receive dMHp updates in your inbox.