Stress Less with Tech this Season!

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Oh, you can just smell it in the air–gingerbread, pine, figgy pudding (whatever that is) and STRESS. That’s right. The holidays are fast approaching, and what should be the most wonderful time of the year is often laden with anxiety and worries. Stress over finding the right present, hosting all the hoopla and arriving with just the right white elephant gift for your yearly lady’s gift exchange might call for some extra help.

Believe it or not, some personal tech products offer 24/7 stress monitoring, and that’s not all. Yuletide users can download calming apps, relaxation timers and even sensory videos to help with holiday insomnia. All you need to do is turn to your wrist, phone or laptop to reap the relaxation rewards.

Wearable Wonders
The number of wearable fitness products that measure physical and psychological health, emotional awareness and sleep quality has increased dramatically in the last few years. Until recently, this technology concentrated results on algorithms based on static population-based information. Now, more and more watches, bracelets and bands are using mini sensors, integrated processing and even artificial intelligence!

For instance, FitBits, Apple Watches and other wearable gadgets offer breathing exercise features to help relieve stress. The technology can track when you’re stressed so you can learn to anticipate the negative stuff. Once you start the breathing exercises loaded on your device, you feel more balanced and ready to start addressing those holiday cards.

Merry Meditation
We busy little elves can now meditate with brain-sensing wearable headsets such as Muse™ that give live feedback while guiding the user through meditations. It may look funny, since it’s a plastic headband that fits on the wearer’s forehead, but reviewers say it works. The sensors on the band monitor heart rate and body movement and report brain data after each session.

Online Games
When you’ve heard enough of Uncle Ed’s childhood stories, ditch the Christmas bingo and play online games instead. Whether it’s playing a quiet game of Words with Friends or a rowdy round of Fortnite, the competition can be relaxing and an easy way to banish the blahs. Gamers can even find specific games for stress management, so play away!

Ever felt mesmerized by a simple sound or video? ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, has taken YouTube and social media by storm! ASMR is a feeling of euphoric tingling and relaxation that can come over us when we watch people in videos doing incredibly simple, quiet, calming tasks such as folding towels, brushing hair or flipping through magazines. You may even hear someone’s soft voice whispering affirmative messages such as “You are loved” or background noises of rain or light scratching. In many people, ASMR can trigger a feeling of relaxation before bedtime–think dancing sugar plums–that can help you overcome holiday insomnia.

Online Fitness
You’re not going to read a stress-less article and not hear about exercise! That’s because it helps. Studies show that getting your sweat on reduces stress hormones, stimulates the production of endorphins, which improves focus, and enhances overall cognitive function. This can be helpful when added anxiety has depleted your energy, perhaps when you need to make four dozen cookies, three teacher’s gifts, two class games and a partridge in a pear tree for a third-grade party.

Online fitness classes, face-timing trainers and exercise apps are all efficient ways to be healthy and unwind on your own schedule. Some popular online programs include Sworkit, Aaptive, ClassPass and FitBod, but to find your perfect fit, do your homework first and then ask Santa for your favorite workout app.

Home Helpers
Yep, stress can be abundant in our homes over the holidays, but what about when we’re traveling? These days, innovative smart-home devices such as security cameras, safety monitors, smart thermostats and garage door openers make leaving home easier. The extra security and notifications to your smart device can ease your mind and make holiday travel a little jollier.

Take Advantage of the Tech
If trying one of these techy tension lifters for the holidays sounds promising, choose just one to start. Why create more anxiety by trying to juggle a sleigh-load of devices and apps at the same time? Experts also recommend researching and checking reviews before spending all of your stocking money on any glittery gadget.

As a good friend once said about the holidays, “Sometimes you just need to relax and accept the crazy,” and she is right to an extent. But if you don’t want to go down without a good fight, then consider the benefits of using stress relief technology that is probably right in front of you anyway. You may find ways to reduce the tension from the tinsel and continue enjoying the merriment into the next year. ■

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