Deep insight in to your self with just a scan of your finger
Packed with biofeedback connectivity, backed by machine learning, and with an easy to use interface, Welltory, a new smartphone app, packed with features, is now the stress and wellness app I recommend to all of my clients.
Stress and fatigue are a problem for 75% of working adults and cause of weakening of immunity and the appearance of diseases. And because the human nervous system is so good at habituating (the diminishing of an innate response to a frequently repeated stimulus), over time people become used to being stressed, and it becomes normal for them to be tired, irritable and often bouncing from one cold to another.
Sports science has been objectively measuring stress for many years, using sensors and apps to alter training regimes to give people enough time to recover to ensure that they don’t get injured. And consequently there are some great apps out there, such as ithlete and Sweetbeat that can help you manage your training. But to date, none of them have been particularly good at taking this in to everyday life.
Welltory, google analytics for your nervous system
Welltory, a New York-based startup, takes a helicopter view of your life, and aims to bring meaning to all of that data you are collecting but not really using. Step count, heart rate, sleeping hours, workouts, running distance, weight, nutrition, blood glucose & pressure, mindfulness minutes, whatever data you are collecting, Welltory will take it and add it to the rich tapestry of who you are and what activities sap your energy and which ones restore you.
The concept is similar to Google Analytics, only applied to humans using the buzzword of machine learning. Using the app, people can see how certain lifestyle changes, such as morning meditation, working from home or dietary changes, affect their stress and energy levels. People can optimise their lifestyles by keeping the changes that work and ditching the ones that don’t.
How stressed are you? Welltory knows
Welltory’s core feature (available on the free version of the app) is stress and energy measurements, which can be taken on an iOS or Android phone using the camera. Applying the same PPG technology found in most pulse oximeters, the app uses the phone’s camera to illuminate blood vessels in a user’s index finger and measure heart rate variability
The app then uses heart rate variability algorithms (HRV) to assess the state of the autonomic nervous system, the body’s stress and recovery regulation center. Heart Rate Variability is a fascinating measurement in that it contains all kinds of other signals that can be extracted using maths algorithms such as time domain analysis. In short that means with a simple measure at your fingertip, the software can determine how stressed you are, and how much energy reserve you have. HRV monitoring is used in most professional sports so improve training regimes, and can even be used to detect illnesses before the patient is aware of symptoms..
The app encourages you to take regular readings. Particularly important is taking a reading first thing in the morning (ideally before you get up), because it will set a baseline for your levels, and also give you an insight in to the quality of your sleep, a major stressor for many people.
A classroom for self-awareness
Additionally there are a whole range of videos and articles included in the app. These are presented as daily tasks and take no more than 2 or 3 minutes to absorb. Simple and effective insights in to lifestyle topics are combined with challenges such as “do morning exercise for a week” to help you identify the activities that stress you and recharge you.
Going further – the quantified self
For those willing to pay the £3.99 a month subscription fee, the paid version of the Welltory app features a Quantified Self Dashboard, which lets users collect data about their lifestyles and see how different aspects of their lives affect their stress, energy and productivity levels.
This dashboard be synced with fitness trackers, Apple Health and Google Fit to collect data about factors like sleep, nutrition and physical activity. Over time it starts to generate charts that show correlations. Users can see if walking an extra mile a day helps keep their stress levels down, for example, or check how morning meditation sessions affect their productivity. They can even see the effects of the weather.
Welltory is free, give it a go
In short, this app is simple to use, and incredibly effective at developing your self-awareness, even if you use the free version. And if you’re a data geek like me, you can delve deep in to maths and correlations if you like, as long as it’s not stressful! I recommend this app for all of my coaching clients, and at only £3.99 is going to make more difference to your life than those self-help or fitness magazines that cost the same and ultimately end up in the recycle bin.