Fitbit stress score explained: How stress tracking and management works

The stress score is rolling out across the range
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Fitbit has rolled stress tracking features out to all of its existing devices, as the company makes a play for mindfulness.

The announcement was made during James Park’s keynote for the launch of the Fitbit Luxe, the company’s premium grade fitness tracker.

We explain the stress score, and how you can use it. And don't forget our guide to wearable stress tracking and other devices that use the feature in different ways.

Which Fitbit devices can track stress?

Fitbit introduced Stress Management last year as part of the Fitbit Sense, which has a focus on mindfulness.

But now the daily stress score has been opened up to users of:

How does Fitbit stress management work?

Fitbit stress score explained: How stress tracking and management works

Stress management scores in action

The Stress Management feature sits on the Fitbit Dashboard.

It tracks three metrics from your wrist: heart rate variability, exertion and sleep data to generate a single stress score.

Non-Premium users will just see their daily stress score, while those that have paid for Fitbit’s subscription service will see a full breakdown.

And you can add your own feedback on how you're feeling on any given day – however, the app doesn't use this feedback to train the algorithm.

Fitbit is making a play for mindfulness and has recently teamed up with Deepak Chopra to deliver Mindful Method content for Fitbit Premium.

How do you use it to manage stress?

Fitbit stress score explained: How stress tracking and management works

The idea of the Stress Management score is to identify spikes in stress and then take action. Sadly, your Fitbit wearable can't destress for you – but there are tools on hand.

Most Fitbit devices have a guided breathing mode – which can help reduce stressful feelings. But improving your stress score means focusing on the individual aspects of the score. Hitting your fitness goals and getting Active Zone Minutes in will help with the exertion score, and you'll need some decent kip.

Pre-bed meditation can be a big boost to deep sleep and sleep quality – and there's a host of mindfulness content within the Fitbit app. You'll find that in the Discover section, if you're a Fitbit Premium user. The company has added content by meditation guru Deepak Chopra.

The Mindful Method series with Deepak Chopra consists of 30 meditations. Initial sessions have names like “Fall Asleep with Deepak Chopra’s Guided Beach Visualization”, “Managing stress at all times” and “Cultivate and abundance mindset”. They range from three minutes to 20 minutes long.

The Deepak Chopra content joins existing mindfulness content from Fitbit, although it clearly hopes this will attract new users into Fitbit Premium, which costs per month or per year.

"Our Stress Management Score was designed to help you understand your body's ability to handle stress, which is an important health metric that can impact your physical and mental health, said Dr. Samy Abdel-Ghaffar, research scientist behind Fitbit's Stress Management.

"If you receive a high score, it means you're showing fewer signs of physical stress, so you may consider taking on a new project or exercising, whereas if your score is lower you may want to give yourself a break by going to bed early or meditating."

"Over time, your score can help you understand connections between your stress level and your daily activities like exercise and sleep habits," he continued.

And that's the message from Fitbit. The stress score is designed to help you understand and quantify your mindfulness and build a connection between your habits and you mental health. What you do with that information is up to you.

Fitbit EDA sensor explained

Fitbit stress score explained: How stress tracking and management works

The Stress Management feature is separate to the EDA sensor tech found on the Fitbit Sense and Charge 5 that detects your skin’s stress response during guided breathing and meditation sessions.

EDA stands for Electrodermal Activity, and is a measure of skin and sweat responses, which can be a sign of stress.

You can start an EDA Scan session from the wrist by heading to the menu screen.

In addition, EDA-compatible meditations can be found in the Discover section of the app for Fitbit Premium users. These are just like normal Fitbit meditations, but you hold the screen to track EDA responses.

What does the EDA sensor do?

The EDA sensor tracks physical stress responses via the skin, during a guided meditation.

You can do this using a 2 minute spot-test, or during some of the EDA compatible mindfulness sessions from Fitbit Premium.

Once you finish the session, Fitbit will tell you how many EDA responses it detected during the session.

However, Fitbit doesn't track EDA scores as a specific metric.

What is a good EDA score?

As with any wearable metric, such as resting heart rate or skin temperature, the number of EDA responses are personal.

Just taking two minutes out to be calm and think about your breathing is a good way to alleviate stress – so the act of taking an EDA Scan is helpful regardless of your score.

However, it's worth noting your EDA score and working out what's normal for you. If you spot scores than are drastically higher then it might be time to take further stress relieving action, such as getting a run of consistent bed times, avoiding alcohol, or starting an exercise regime.

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James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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