Types of Stress Technology That Actually Lower Your Stress

New neuroscience offers a plethora of technology aimed at helping people with stress and anxiety. So how do you choose what works?  As a neuropsychologist and inventor of stress tech myself, I have extensively studied the latest technology and how and if it works. I’ve also measured results with electroencephalograms in my Serin Center clinics over the last 10 years. I’ve found clear winners and losers, so choosing wisely what to spend your time and money on is critical. Your overall health, productivity, relationship quality, and performance is too precious to waste on expensive gadgets that don’t work for you.

Here’s a quick guide to the many types of stress tech and some key considerations.

1.      Measuring stress or anxiety is useless unless you have something to lower your stress in real time. If a wearable says you’re stressed, now what? As technology evolves, it’s important to prioritize treatment over tracking data. Think of yourself going door to door on existential Halloween trying to find what works. Track or Treat?  Always pick Treat.   If you’re a data person, I get it. But know this, it doesn’t matter if you’re aware of what triggers you. If you lower your stress quickly in real time, you don’t need to know why, the trigger will no longer trigger you to the same stress level in the future. You can do this multiple times a day without interrupting what you are doing if you use tech that adheres to concept #2.

2.      Consider tech that lowers your stress quickly and significantly. By quickly and significantly I mean lowering stress from 7/10 to 3/10 in less than a minute without additional efforts like trying to breathe or trying to shift your thinking. Your salience network or vagus nerve will help you automatically, without a need to use cognitive and behavioral strategies. This is great news that you can use your powerful, autonomic brain networks to do the work instead of shifting your awareness and effort!

3.      Make sure you use technology that works for you. Although some tech can work for most people, some technology may cause more stress if it’s not calibrated or used correctly. Some technology can be overused depending on the mechanism of its action. A consult with us can ensure you’re using the right frequencies and using the right technology based on how your brain and body functions.

4.      Know the difference between long-acting tech and short acting tech and what the effects are. Some technology aims at lowering stress in real time like bi-lateral stimulation (BLS) or vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). Cranial electric stimulation (CES) may produce a mild effect in the short term, but the effects can last an entire day.  Transcranial photo biomodulation (tPBM) effects can last hours.

5.      Know what’s safe to layer. You can use multiple technologies during the day or even at the same time to improve your functioning. I’ve only included tech in this article that can be safely used in conjunction with other technology.

Bilateral Stimulation (BLS): This is simply micro vibration technology that is applied to both sides of the body like hands, wrists, pockets, socks, or tops of legs. It’s inexpensive (usually less than $200) and my published research shows this type of technology creates a reduction in stress of over 60% in less than 30 seconds and a lowering of cortisol after a stressful event compared to a placebo. This tech has been used in old, wired devices in EMDR Therapy for over 30 years. New generation tech of this kind is quickly evolving and is fast acting, safe, and you can use it as you go about your day. The newest gen tech in this category is Dharma Dr.

Pros: inexpensive, easy to use, research backed, can use while multitasking, can be hands free, works extremely fast, you can feel the difference, creates pattern interrupts and a therapeutic effect, no known contraindications except extreme sensory sensitivity. 

Cons: You need to test which frequencies are best for you and know how and when to use it or the tech can cause stress if not synchronized (this is not a problem with the latest technology)

Vagus Nerve Stimulation:  Stimulating the vagus nerve with electrical currents or transcranial photo biomodulation (tPBM) can create profound effects over time on anxiety, depression, and can change the “vagal tone” associated with better mental health outcomes. One study even found that this stimulation (only the tPBM type in the VieLight X-Plus) could be a treatment for long Covid, possibly partially because of its anti-inflammatory effect.  Other types of vagus nerve stimulation can be through electric microcurrents and can lower stress and anxiety in real time.

Pros: significant results and research backed, easy to use, few contraindications, some can be used while multitasking and can be hands free.  Can possibly help mental health conditions when used over time.

Cons: some electric current types applied close to the face can be jarring and uncomfortable, the currents can react with metal, does not produce stress relief as quickly as BLS, some can cost up to $1000, treatment or application can take up to 20 minutes or longer. Clinical results are not as impressive as what BLS can achieve for immediate reduction of stress.

Cranial Electric Stimulation (CES): CES devices have been used for over 30 years and the old gen devices are FDA cleared to help with anxiety, insomnia, and depression.  To use, you put ear clips on each ear and adjust settings on a device connected to the ear clips via wires for 20, 40, or 60 minutes. We have found clinically that these devices can create a profound effect on OCD, obsessional thinking, and can improve sleep.  Mini 3 CES

Pros: Research backed, cost a few hundred dollars, can multitask while using (but can’t drive or exercise).

Cons: can cause dizziness if not used correctly, can interfere with a pacemaker, can cause depression in people with “fast alpha.” Treatment can sting the ears if ear pads aren’t lubricated (This can be determined on an electroencephalogram).

Note I didn’t mention meditation apps. This is because you probably already know all of the old methods to calm yourself down. These apps are basic and do not create a profound treatment effect in real time. They require practice, consistency, and habit. It is good for you to meditate, do yoga, breathe deeply, eat healthy, and sleep well. But our new neuroscience can offer you so much more and add to what you already know.  Call us for a consultation if you want to know more. At Serin Center we’ve been pioneering applied neuroscience and psychology so you can live your best life.