If you’re considering a fitness tracker purchase this winter — especially with the holiday food and party season coming up, yeesh! — there’s a new device on the market you may want to consider. While most fitness trackers will calculate your steps and calories earned, and even your heart rate and sleep habits, the Spire anti-stress tracker is the first one we’ve seen that monitors your mental health as well.
You wear the Spire tracker on your waistband or inside your bra — which is decidedly less comfortable for me, I must say. While it’s against your body, it tracks your breathing patterns, sending info to the Spire app (for iOS only; sorry Android users) about how focused you are. That may seem a little odd, but there are physiological cues that are legit, like if you’re holding your breath or taking shallow breaths, you may be stressed.
That’s when Spire sends a gentle reminder to the app through your phone or Apple Watch to tell you to take a walk or just breathe. That’s a nudge we all need sometimes.
As for the design on the device, it’s really beautiful; the soft, river stone-like monitor and the lovely cork charging station is calming in and of itself. And it’s very wearable. For the most part I don’t notice the Spire when it is clipped to my waistband. In fact, when I first started wearing it, I’d forgotten it so completely that it was somewhat surprising when it started vibrating.
When you check in with the Spire app, you’ll see your streaks of focus, calm, activity, and even tension throughout the day. You can also set daily goals for each area, which is data nerd heaven. There are also “boosts” you can download which are tips and info on how to improve those mental health areas you’d like to focus on. Think of it as a therapist and yogi all in one.
I think Apple Watch seems like the best device to pair with Spire, because if you’re the type who doesn’t keep your iPhone nearby all the time, the buzzing can be annoying. Otherwise, you’ll need to keep your phone nearby if you want to track your progress through the day. But either way, I’d suggest you customize all the alerts and settings that Spire is sending you, so your pants aren’t vibrating all day long. Because that would be weird.
On a work day when I know I’ll be in meetings for a long time, I turn off my activity alerts. Or if I’m heading into a particularly tense situation, I’ll increase my alert time to 30 minutes or so because it would probably stress me out more to be buzzed every two minutes.
I will say the alerts from Spire when your stress levels are raised can provide a little levity. Case in point: after a relaxing day hanging out with an out-of-town friend (and no stress alerts from Spire), I took my middle child Halloween costume shopping. As soon as I stepped into the costume aisle, my Spire started vibrating and my phone pinged me: You seem stressed. It cracked me up, and motivated me to calm myself down all at once.
Hey, maybe this could be valuable psychographic research for retailers who don’t realize how much their seasonal store displays are stressing out their customers.
You can find the Spire wearable anti-stress and fitness tracker at our affiliate Amazon. Thanks to Spire, for sending us a sample unit for review consideration.