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Trend Alert: Stress-Less Devices

These days, my approach to tech resembles that of a digital minimalist. We have enough screens (and pings) already in our lives: When it comes to adding to the tech pile, I’m looking for tech that can help me feel better/calmer… not just more “connected.”

So when I noticed several devices hitting the market, claiming to be high tech chill pills… I was intrigued.

And curious: In the last couple of years, stress levels have climbed in my household, thanks to the pressures of the pandemic. Could a device on my wrist really help temper that?

The Apollo Wearable was at the top of my list, not only for its aesthetic—I love the low profile and Apple-esque colors—but also for what it promises (to help calm stressful feelings using a sense of touch).

How it works: Simply put, the device vibrates in patterns that are meant to upregulate or downregulate your nervous system, using vibrations that activate our sense of touch. So whether you wake up groggy and want a burst of energy, or are feeling anxious and want to calm yourself down, or it’s time for bed and you want to help your body get ready to sleep, there’s a setting on the Apollo that will help you make it happen. Each setting has a customized series of gentle vibrations that are designed to talk directly to your nervous system and help it get to the desired state. You can choose to wear it either around your ankle or your wrist (I opted for ankle). You simply set it and forget it—the Apollo sends waves to your body that help strengthen your resilience to stress, improve focus, relaxation and sleep, all as you go about your day.

The science: Basically, certain combinations of inaudible sound waves (the vibrations sent by Apollo) can have a serious impact on how you respond to stress. Apollo specifically targets improving our HRV (heart rate variability), which is one of the more measurable biometrics when it comes to understanding our nervous system. There’s a LOT of science to back this up, which you can read about here. It was developed my neuroscientists and physicians and follows a non-invasive approach to stress relief, which means it’s safe for both adults and kids.

Did it work? Hard to say. I wore it for two weeks, and while I definitely felt calmer and rested well, it wasn’t an every-day across-the-board improvement. I was able to fight off a cold within 24 hours, which was of note because improving your sleep quality and stress management helps your immune system be more resilient.

Another device on my radar is the Cove, which you wear kind of like headphones around your ears. It works similarly to Apollo by sending gentle vibrations to the interoceptive pathway through the bones behind your ears. (Research from Cove said that the device reduced stress by 41 percent for those who wear it.) Again, the science is what I find so interesting—how a targeted combination of vibrations can trigger our touch response and, ultimately, reduce stress. Cove claims that results can be felt about just one session, but that continued use can lead to more profound changes and further resilience to future stressors.

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