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Tuesday November 2nd, 2021

Stress Awareness Week: Detecting Stress using EKG

International Stress Awareness Week 2021 runs from the 1st to the 5th of November 2021. Established in 2018, this major event raises awareness of the impact stress has on our mental health and educates people on the importance of stress prevention and management.

 

What is stress?
Physiological stress is the body’s physical reaction to real or perceived threat situations which induces the ‘fight or flight’ response’. This activates the sympathetic division of our nervous system, which increases heart rate, decreases heart rate variability and increases blood pressure.

Increasingly, our modern lifestyles are triggering stress at a disproportionate rate and for longer periods of time. This long-lasting stress, out of line with physical danger can pose a risk to our health.

 

“Even minor stress can trigger heart problems like poor blood flow to the heart muscle. This is a condition in which the heart doesn’t get enough blood or oxygen. And, long-term stress can affect how the blood clots. This makes the blood stickier and increases the risk of stroke.”

University of Rochester Medical Centre

 

Managing pandemic stress
The pandemic has had a major effect on our lives, and we are not on the other side of it yet. Many of us are facing personal and professional challenges that can be overwhelming. Public health actions, such as social distancing, have been necessary to reduce the spread of Covid-19, but they have also made us feel isolated and lonely which can increase stress and anxiety.

A recent study from the Stress Management Society identified that 65% of people in the UK have felt more stressed than ever before since the Covid-19 restrictions began in March 2020. The data, gathered from 2000 British adults, gave us a good insight into how stress, anxiety and the restrictions on our daily lives have negatively affected the health of the nation.

 

The importance of ongoing stress monitoring
Many restrictions have eased around the world, however recent reports are speculating that as we hit the winter, restrictions could be introduced again. In the meantime, with the ability to socialise more, the data suggests that young people aged 18-24 years are coping better with the stress of the pandemic (62% said they were coping well in June/July 2021, up from 50% in February 2021).

As we transition back to ‘normality’, our routines will change again. This can come with additional challenges, cause anxieties and/or stress over what the future may bring. It is important to be patient with ourselves and take the needed steps to help us manage those feelings. A few things we can do to help manage our stress during this time include; talk to people you trust, focus on the present and control what can be controlled. Organisations such as Action Mental HealthMind and Mental Health America are available to provide this support.

 

Using EKG to monitor stress
As this period of uncertainty continues, we must take control of our own health, by learning to recognise and manage our physiological stress. Using EKG wearable devices to track and monitor your stress levels over a period of time will help you understand what your body is going through and enable you to take actions to reduce your stress.

B-Secur’s HeartKey® monitors your EKG and derives a quantitative measurement of your current stress state, enabling you to understand your body’s true state and take appropriate actions.