For most people, stress is an unpleasant sensation. Unfortunately, sensation is difficult to measure and cannot be controlled. But science offers a proven method for measuring stress levels for conscious control.
Stress builds up imperceptibly. At first, you just feel tired and overstrained. Then concentration at work begins to drop. Inspiration is lost. The mood spoils. Deteriorating relationships with relatives and colleagues. If this is not stopped, the stress goes from the psychological plane to the physiological one.
What to do about it? Someone breaks off on vacation, someone finds a hobby to their liking, someone, alas, becomes a hostage of bad habits. It seems to us that stress cannot be controlled. However, science knows exactly the physiological mechanisms of stress, methods of measuring and controlling it. By analyzing your heart rate using the heart rate variability (HRV) method, you can see your stress level and get clear recommendations for improving your condition. If you are ready to take such measurements with a constant frequency (we in the Engy Health service recommend taking HRV measurements 2 times a day in the morning and in the evening), you will be able to clearly understand what is the source of stress in your life and to what extent they contribute to your stress level - lack of sleep, excessive or no physical activity, too strict a diet, stress at work, ineffective relationships, or something else.
The scientific methodology for analyzing heart rate variability has been used for decades around the world for training and remote monitoring of astronauts' health before and during flights. Due to its accuracy and evidence, today it is widely used not only in space cardiology, but also in sports, military and industrial medicine to control stress in people who "on duty" are forced to face the most stressful or extreme situations.
Stress: From Feelings to Numbers
Stress is a certain state of the body, which is also expressed at the physiological level. To analyze the level of stress, the analysis of the heart rate, which receives signals from the sympathetic system, is responsible for the reaction to stress and danger. The most convenient format for determining stress is a histogram. On the abscissa axis the histogram reflects the duration of the cardiointervals, on the ordinate - the repetition rate of the cardiointerval with this duration. In the course of numerous scientific population studies of the HRV technique, it was revealed that in people with low stress levels, most of the cardio intervals fall in the range from 700 to 1000 ms. In people with a high level of stress, cardiointervals accumulate in one zone (usually around 1000 ms), the variation range drops significantly.
Can stress levels be identified?
The mathematical analysis of the heart rate with visualization through the histogram allows not only to declare the presence of stress, but also to reveal its level. The chart below shows the stress levels with a description of each zone (hover over the image for pop-up descriptions):
The body's reserves are depleted, so in response to stress, it does not even strain. Your body does not have enough strength to adequately solve current problems. Such results are typical for a person in a state of prolonged severe emotional or physical stress. With this value of the indicator, the following are possible: a decrease in immunity, an increase in blood glucose levels, impaired functioning of the cardiovascular system, cognitive and behavioral changes.
Your body is working to the limit. You cope with the load, but at the expense of the supply of internal energy.
You are good at coping with mental and physical stress. The accumulation and consumption of resources in the body are balanced.
The upper limit of the norm - this means the risk of loss of adaptation. Your body copes with psychological and physical stress, but it uses hormonal responses to do so. They can put stress on the circulatory and respiratory systems.
All your strength is thrown into the fight against stress, and its level is above normal. The body's ability to recover resources is very low. An increased tone of the sympathetic system can lead to anxiety, excessive emotionality and general overexertion.
The reserves for recovery are depleted and your body is in an extremely stressed state. The stress level is very high.
Your heart is working hard and there is a high likelihood of cardiovascular damage.
The red areas on the right - critical values - mean that the body is so overstrained by stress that the heart is working to wear and tear. This state cannot last long, and if no action is taken, the person will get sick. But there is another extreme - the red area on the left, stress values from 0 to 10. The fact is that in a weakened, pre-painful state (in physiology, called prenosological or premorbid in terms of the degree of development of pathology) the body no longer even strains to external influences, without reacting for stress. Orange zones indicate increased stress: such values are acceptable at the end of a hard day, but in the morning measurement they indicate that the reserves are exhausted and an urgent need to restore strength. Green Zone is optimal: you have enough resources to cope with your daily tasks quickly and successfully.
Hand on the pulse
By regularly measuring your stress levels over time and analyzing your lifestyle, you can pinpoint the source of stress. What exactly puts your body under stress: too intense sports training, social media addiction, tensions, lack of adequate sleep, too strict a diet, or talking to an authoritarian leader? Once you make an assumption in favor of a factor, you can experiment with the regimen and see exactly what is the culprit for your increased stress levels. By removing factor by factor, you can track your Stress score with Engy Health. From this moment on, it is easy for you to control your health by changing your lifestyle and observing how this is reflected in the indicator.
In Engy Health, Stress is a separate metric. The scale of indicators exactly corresponds to the HRV method and for ease of use corresponds to the color scale of the diagram presented above. Red indicates a high level of tension and requires immediate action to restore balance. Orange is a signal that if you do not pause, you can pay with your health. Green, on the other hand, demonstrates the resistance of your body to stress factors.
By clicking on the indicator, you will find yourself on a screen with a detailed description of your condition and recommendations for maintaining or improving it. At the same time, you always have the opportunity to additionally consult with the physiologists of Engy Health and get an answer to any question regarding your measurements:
Monitoring may require data for a specific period. Engy Health saves all measurements in history and at any time you can see your progress and clearly record your stress level in retrospect.
Indicator Stress naturally rises in the evening after a productive day. Your task is to ensure that the values do not exceed the norm. If the next morning after sleep you find yourself in the orange or red zone, this means that there has been no recovery: the sympathetic system remains tense. Either there weren't enough hours of sleep, or it was inadequate. Do not overload yourself during the day, try to lie down earlier and take the measurement again the next morning. By experimenting in this way with the amount of rest, work, training schedule, you can choose the most optimal lifestyle for your health. And not only yours - with Engy Health it is easy to monitor the well-being of all family members.
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