photo by Kyle Espeleta Photography © 2017 ACM SIGGRAPH
April is National Stress Awareness Month in the U.S. and U.K., so we’re shining a spotlight on the importance of de-stressing… and how technology can help! Regardless of our profession or geography, stress has detrimental effects on just about everyone’s mental and physical health. From difficulty to control emotions to increased risk for disease, stress is an added pressure that we can all benefit from reducing.
We hope you enjoy this roundup of stress-relieving technology from your SIGGRAPH 2019 Committee.
If You’re Into Wearables…
Ready to make de-stressing a part of your everyday life? Consider one of these wearable options to keep your new favorite relaxation tool on you at all times!
Take a breath with the Breathe app on your Apple Watch Series 3 or 4 — just one of the wearable’s many stress relieving functions. The Breathe app helps users relax in sync with soothing animation. Inhale while the animation grows and exhale as the animation shrinks. Upon completion, you can even check your heart rate. Discover how the Breathe app works.
On using the Apple Watch to unwind, SIGGRAPH 2019 Conference Chair Mikki Rose says:
“My Apple Watch reminds me to do good-for-me things like walk and exercise, which ultimately make for a lower stress Mikki. [And,] the Breathe app urges me to take a moment for deep breathing a couple of times a day.”
From tracking your sleeping patterns to monitoring your heart rate, the FitBit is another wearable that allows you to de-stress and helps you reach your health goals. Not only is meeting goals good for your mental health, but the goals you’re achieving also have physical benefits that bring stress levels down. Check out “13 Ways Your FitBit Tracker Can Help You Stress Less” on the FitBit blog.
Not interested in wearing your technology on your wrist? Try a headset! The Muse headset connects to your phone via Bluetooth, so you can put in headphones and enjoy the sweet sounds of meditation. You can even get real-time feedback on your brain activity as you meditate. Learn more.
Are you trying to bring down your stress but stressing about monitoring your breathing? Let the Spire Stone do it for you. The Spire Stone clips to your waistband and measures breath via the expansion and contraction of your torso. A corresponding app then analyzes and categorizes your breathing, letting you now if you’re calm, tense, or focused. You can also get notifications to alert you to sudden changes in your breathing. Learn more.
If mediation and deep breathing don’t work for you, try a digital supplement! Thync is a wearable you place on your head that connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone app. Ultrasound technology activates parts of the central nervous system with “vibes.” These vibes are designed to calm or energize you, depending on your needs. Learn more.
TouchPoint is a discrete product that can be worn on your wrist, put in your pocket, or placed on socks or tank top straps. This stress solution uses alternating micro-vibrations to calm you in seconds. Learn more.
If You’re a Gamer…
Put your mind at ease with a brain break! These relaxation games can help bring your stress down and we promise you’ll have fun while doing it.
If you prefer a laid back game, Echogenesis is the one for you. While playing, you’re free to roam in five different environments. The only objective? Exploring. Play now.
If you think games are just for kids, think again! In the world of Little Wheel, players help robots restore power to their city. Get started.
Color inside — or outside! — the lines with the Pigment coloring experience. In this digital coloring book, you can choose from over 300 free designs and 34 color palettes. Start coloring.
If You’re an App Aficionado…
Need something to help you unwind with a side of convenience? These apps are available for most smartphones and offer easy-to-use options whenever (and wherever) you desire.
Would you rather be at the beach, park, or in a forest? The Atmosphere app transports you there…via sound. You can choose from 70 soothing sounds, as well as mix environments. Download today on iPhone or Android.
SIGGRAPH 2020 GraphicsNet Chair David Spolestra says of the app:
“Sound is always my go-to for focusing. When my mind is racing about all the stuff I’m behind on, I use sound to de-stress.”
Calm helps with mediation and sleep. The app also includes video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching — some of which you can do right at your desk — and offers music to help you focus and relax. While the main version was created for use on a smartphone, Calm is now available in VR for Oculus Go. Learn more about Calm and discover several other mediation apps for virtual reality.
When stress and negative thoughts are clouding your vision, open the Happify app and enjoy science-based games and activities. You’ll also build resilience through effective tools and programs to improve emotional well-being. Best of all, these techniques were developed by scientists. Download Happify via iPhone or Android.
The Headspace app provides guided meditation, with themes geared towards stress, sleep, focus, or anxiety. There are even SOS exercises for those dealing with a sudden meltdown. Headspace also tracks how many days you’ve been meditating to keep you organized. Learn more.
Diana Arellano, ACM SIGGRAPH External Relations Chair, says of the Headspace app:
“I have been using Headspace for quite some time, and find it just incredible. A feature I find great is that you can decide the duration of your meditations: it can be 1, 3, 5, 10, 15 minutes, etc. So, if one day you really feel like taking the time for yourself, you can choose 15 minutes, but if another day you are really in a rush, you can select 1 minute. When you really think about it, dedicating only 1 minute of your life to such important thing is just crazy.”
Whether you have one minute or one hour, we hope one of these tools inspires you to unwind and take time for yourself this April. Bonus: Press play for a video that one of our committee members says helps to calm the mind… it’s like magic.
You can experience advancements in all of tech and, in our professional opinion, rid yourself of stress by attending SIGGRAPH 2019 this summer in Los Angeles. Register today.