Americans are stressed out. The planet is melting, our president has the emotional intelligence of a pre-nap toddler, our fearless leader Hilary Duff was recently robbed — all equally anxiety-inducing developments. But there is a chicken cutlet-shaped solution on the horizon: it's called the Lief smart patch, and it helps you manage your body's natural stress response.
Although everyone responds to stress differently — I, for example, find solace at the bottom of a sleeve of ginger snaps, and by scrolling through pictures of sleeping puppies — there are physical indicators that every body shares, like elevated heart rate and shallow breathing. These indicators can occasionally be so subtle that we don't even notice them. The Lief (pronounced "leef," a Middle English word meaning "beloved person, friend") patch works by monitoring your heart rate and breathing. You stick it on your chest, right below your left boob/pec, and when it senses you getting stressed, it guides your breathing with subtle vibrations.
According to their Kickstarter page: "Lief tracks and optimizes your resiliency to stress by increasing your natural heart rate variability (HRV), a biomarker of your physical and psychological health. A low HRV score is linked with anxiety, distraction and poor performance - things we'd all prefer to avoid."
In other words, individuals with lower variation in the intervals between their heartbeats tend to be more stressed out, because their heart rate is more consistently elevated, and those with a higher variation tend to be less so. By guiding your breathing with its vibrations, the Lief syncs your breath with heart, thereby raising your HRV up to 140 percent in three minutes, which sounds impressive, though I can't be sure due to my anxiety, distraction, and poor performance.
The patch also comes with a support app, which helps you "record your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and sensations." By keeping track of what triggers your anxiety, you are better able to identify habits and behaviors that negatively affect you physically and mentally.
The Lief smart patch has already raised $405,922 on Kickstarter, and is the #1 selling wearable on the site, vastly exceeding its $50,000 goal. Each set will retail for $299.
Whether you have the money to drop on a patch, finding a way to manage stress in one's everyday life is hugely important. Chronic stress is associated with a variety of dangerous conditions, including depression, anxiety, sexual disfunction, hair loss, heart attacks, and strokes. Meditation, exercise, reading, and writing have all been proven to relieve stress.