Wearing a ‘Heart’ On Your Sleeve Can Reduce Stress

Humans naturally respond to rhythm. To actively reduce stress by using the intuitive responses that we all have to rhythm, scientists assessed the calming effects of a new wearable device called Doppel.

Wearing a 'Heart' On Your Sleeve Can Reduce Stress
Image Credit: Public Domain

According to new research by the University of London, if a heartbeat-like vibration delivered onto the inside of the wrist, the person feels less stressed.

In real, humans naturally respond to rhythm. For example, music rhythms change our mood by altering our breathing and heart rates. Similarly, slower rhythm leads to lower arousal and positive or calm emotional states. But, we are linked to fast rhythms arousing emotional states such as joy, excitement, surprise, fear or anger. In terms of biological rhythms, the heartbeat is perhaps the most ubiquitous biological rhythm in nature.

Professor Manos Tsakiris from the Department of Psychology said, “High arousal is correlated with increased heart rate, whereas calmness is physiologically correlated with lower heart rate. We also intuitively associate higher and lower heart rate with anxiety or high arousal, and calmness. The design of Doppel, the device that we used in our study, was inspired by these insights.”

To actively reduce stress by using the intuitive responses that we all have to rhythm, scientists assessed the calming effects of a new wearable device called Doppel. Doppel is the wristband specially designed to reduce stress by using the intuitive responses that we have to heartbeats.

To test the efficiency of Doppel, scientists involved volunteers in a socially stressful situation. They then measured volunteer’s physiological arousal and anxiety levels.

Scientists then divided volunteers into two groups. During a single-blind study, they asked volunteers to prepare a public speech. This is widely used a psychological task that consistently increases stress. All participants wore the device on their wrist. Scientists told volunteers that the device was measuring blood pressure during the anticipation of the task.

Only one of the two groups of participants, the device was turned on and delivered a heartbeat-like vibration at a slower frequency.

Scientists then analyzed their psychological arousal and anxiety level. The Doppel had a tangible and measurable calming effect across both physiological and psychological levels. Only the participants who felt the heartbeat-like vibration displayed lower increases in skin conductance responses and lower anxiety levels.

Professor Tsakiris said, “Wearable devices are becoming ubiquitous in everyday life, but across the board, their primary aim is to quantify our activity. The results we got suggest that, rather than measuring ourselves, we can instead harvest our natural responses to heartbeat-like rhythms in ways that can assist people in their everyday life.”