I'm starting a little experiment here. I recently received a light reprimand from my boss's boss for seeming "too emotional" and "too negative" at work. While this feedback is valid — I've definitely been both of late — it's also infuriating, as it seems tantamount to "we know we're doing a ton of stuff to upset you and stress you out, but if you could just like... not be affected by it? or just like, not look like you are? Thx." I've been reacting to what they've been doing, and it seems ridiculous to address my reactions but not the cause.
But, all that aside, I don't want to put out bad vibes at the office, I don't want a reputation for being a hot-head, and I definitely don't want to let the various buffetings of work life stress me out. When I moved here, I started doing mindfullness exercises as a way to de-stress and work on bringing down my anxiety levels, and it's definitely helped. So when I kept seeing ads for the Spire in my Facebook feed, I was intrigued.
Spire bills itself as a fitness tracker, but for your mood. It measures your breathing, and then builds reports at the end of the day to show you when you were stressed, when you were focused, and when you were calm. You can also set it to notify when you've had prolonged periods of stress — indicated by short, uneven breathing — reminding you to take deep breathing. It also tracks steps, recording those, and folding that in to activity reports. (I'm guessing this helps them not mis-read breathing during physical activity as stress or focused or otherwise; not sure, though.)
So there are a couple things I like about this: one, I love a good visualization of activity of any kind. So far I've really liked seeing my daily breakdowns of where my breathing has been. But more significantly, I like that what the Spire aims to help you do, is not avoid stressful situations, but just to recognize them and train you to do your best, physically, to manage stress. I feel like the feedback loop of "i'm mentally stressed by something at work > my body starts reacting to that stress > I start mentally reacting to both the stress of the work and stress signals of my body > my body starts reacting to those > etc" is something I've definitely witnessed in my life, and is probably more damaging that any workload or environment my boss can heap on me. So, I like that the Spire aims to nip that loop before it gets going.
So in the interest of testing, I used the Spire this weekend, off and on to get my head around how it works. But starting today, I'm wearing it full time — but I've turned all notifications off and alerts off. Essentially, I'm just having it monitor me, silently, in the background for the week. I'm taking notes throughout the day of where I feel stressed or calm or focused, and I'll compare at the end of the week, and see how the Spire lines up. Next week, I'll turn notifications back on, and see how things improve or change.
This week should be a good test for this, as all my bosses are back in town after spotty attendance (summer travel and the like) one of my coworkers just quit, and I'm taking over her role as mentor for one of our interns. So I feel like this will be a week filled with a solid mix of stress, focus, etc.