8 Relaxing Gifts for Someone Who’s Stressed Out

Know a stressed friend? Who doesn’t! Young or old, female or male, everyone is stressed nowadays. The perfect, one-size-fits-all gift idea is a relaxing gift.

With so many relaxing gifts to choose from, picking one can become an ironic source of stress. Here at Spire, we’ve got a whole team of relaxation experts. It’s safe to say that we know exactly what the Stressed Sam or Sally in your life needs most to feel more at ease. Read on to learn our top eight relaxing gift ideas that will help your loved one discover a new state of calm. Read more

10 Major Signs of Sleep Deprivation (And How To Fix It)

Everyone has heard the gospel of getting six to eight hours of sleep. Unfortunately, sometimes the demands of life overwhelm the demands of good advice and good-natured health practitioners. A work deadline, a feverish toddler, or a newly-developed obsession with an addictive computer game has kept you awake for the larger chunk of those “six to eight” hours.

For many people in America, these interruptions are part of daily life. There simply are not enough hours in the day for the 68% of Americans who sleep less than 8 hours on weekdays. Insufficient sleep can contribute to a number of long term adverse effects, as the Naval Health Research Center outlines: Read more

How To Stay Calm Under Pressure

In today’s high-stress world, many people hardly have the time to sit down, much less think. Bombarded by financial worries, parenting strife, constant phone notifications, demanding bosses, and a high-wire political scene, we’re all under pressure in some way, shape, or form.

So, what’s the secret to staying sane in a world ready to run you ragged? Mastering how to stay calm under pressure is the key to navigating all the various stresses that life can throw at you. Follow these steps to help reduce stress and stay calm under the chronically pressured environment of today’s world.

Step 1: Understanding Pressure and Stress

While we’ll begin to talk about how you can identify what’s putting you under pressure in just a moment, it’s important to understand stress. As the Mountain State Center for Independent Living puts it, Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand.”

Read more

The 6 Apps That Will Help You Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

Looking to be a happy, healthier, more mindful version of you in 2017? We’ve assembled a collection of six best-in-class apps and products that will help you make progress on some of the most common New Year’s resolutions. Read more

5 Scheduling Techniques to Reduce Stress & Boost Productivity

 

Ever feel like there’s never enough time in the day? You are definitely not alone. In a busy world of go, go, go 24/7, most of us could use a little refresher on time management. Below are 5 tips we keep coming across for scheduling that, if followed, could help you carve out a moment to relax. Read more

Spire is now only $99.95!

At Spire, we always strive to be more efficient, from the way we run our business to the suppliers we work with, to bring the best products to market at the best price. Over the past few months, we have been working with our suppliers to bring down the hard costs of the materials we use to manufacture Spire.

Through our continuing efforts to bring mindfulness to more people, we are now able to pass those savings onto you. Effective today, Spire will be available for $99.95 on all of our retail and online channels, including apple.com, Apple retails stores, amazon.com and at Spire.io.

Spire is the most affordable, highest quality, technologically advanced, and accurate product for mindfulness training on the market today. We hope that with this price reduction, we will give even more people the opportunity to make mindfulness part of their daily lives.

Mindfulness Goes Mainstream

Mindfulness is now mainstream.

More wearable technology companies are starting to understand the potential impact of mindfulness – and we’re thrilled. Since 2014, we’ve talked about why breath and mindfulness are the next frontiers in wellness. Back then, pundits called our app, market-focus and breakthrough breathing sensors “niche.” They were wrong: now, almost every other major wearable technology company is attempting to enter the space we’ve led.

But there is a big difference between a paced breathing exercise using LEDs on your wrist and actually measuring and impacting your breathing and state of mind in daily life. At Spire, we continue to invest in developing deep technologies and experiences that do what wristbands cannot: provide real-time insights on your breathing and measurable outcomes to improve your state of mind in daily life.

We do it by actually sensing respiration, improving mindfulness, and training in breathing practices. Here’s how:

Patenteblog_quote1d Respiration Sensors

Spire’s sensors – which go beyond simple accelerometers – and algorithms measure respiration patterns continuously, throughout the day (not only when to stop to meditate).

This means Spire can:

  1. Notify you in-the-moment when your breathing changes – like when you are getting tense or haven’t taken a deep breath in a while. This is key!

    “I set up an immediate alarm to notify me of my ‘Tense’ streaks, and that really helps me to become instantly aware of the fact I have to get calmer.” -A.C.
  2. Deliver a complete picture of your day to help you understand your breathing and state of mind all day long. For example, understand what makes you tense, what brings you calm, and when you get most focused.

    “I’ve also noticed that I’d often become tense when speaking about my work projects, or discussing things with my team members. Spire helps me there as well, notifying me of a tense streak.” -J.G.
  3. blog_quote2Visualize your breathing, in real-time, while doing any breathing practice or meditations.

“The breathwave visualization is the best thing I’ve ever used as a breathing technique for calming down.” -J.J.

Spire feeds your respiration data to algorithms that strip out the noise and classify it according to the way you normally breathe (what’s calm for you is different than calm for another person).  Our algorithms are based on dozens of laboratory studies around the world that distinguish how respiration patterns vary with cognitive and emotional state.

The success of wearables has been built on using new sensors to measure and provide feedback that you can directly use. This rule is no different when it comes to breathing and mindfulness: measuring your breathing is paramount.

blog_quote3Mindfulness:

Mindfulness is the practice of creating space between stimulus and response; it helps you respond to life situations versus reacting irrationally. This requires strong ability to direct one’s attention as well as the ability to observe without judgment.

A core technique in mindfulness is to use breathing as an anchor for attention. This is because respiration is the only autonomic function you have direct control over. Greater mindfulness practice results in a lower resting respiration rate, among other clinical outcomes such as reduced depression and stress. The guidance in the Spire app is based on protocols from clinical studies to alleviate anxiety and pain, increase heart rate variability, reduce blood pressure, and more.

Meditation:

Meditation is the exercise of practicing to be more skilled with our attention and to have greater awareness and control over emotions. The most common meditation technique is to maintain attention on the breath.

At Spire, we’ve always believed that helping improve wellness requires more than just tracking steps and calories burned. That’s why we’ve always taken a holistic approach to personal health.

Body + mind, together.

Spire app update: Greater stability, Adjust streaks, Charging UI

We’re pleased to announce version 1.6 of the Spire iPhone app – download it on the App Store.

Highlights:

Improved bluetooth stability

  • We’ve fixed a number of rare conditions under which Spire would not properly reconnect to your phone. The totality of these fixes translates into one thing: much more reliable and complete data from your Spire device.

Streak adjustment and feedback

  • Edit streaks on the timeline/home view.
  • Tap a streak card then tap “Report streak” on the back to correct inaccurate streaks. The boo-boo will be reported to Spire HQ.
  • Any comments you add to the report will be used to make our algorithms leaner, meaner, and most important, more accurate.

Charging status light changes

  • Fixed a bug that sometimes prevented Spire from reaching a full charge when on the charger all night.
  • Fixed an issue where the stone would sometimes vibrate randomly while on the charger.
  • Stone stays cooler while charging.
  • The stone’s charging LED now continuously indicates charge status when the stone is on the charger. A pulsing, breathing LED pattern indicates it is charging. A solid LED indicates your Spire is fully charged.
  • The stone’s LED intensity has been reduced to avoid lighting up dark rooms.

Additional application features

  • Spire now collects rough location information throughout the user’s day so we can deliver better insights. This can be disabled in settings.
  • Added more diagnostics information on the phone. This can be uploaded to Spire HQ via the “Upload Logs” option in Debug Settings.
  • Added informational screens before requesting opt-in for HealthKit and Location Services access.
  • Made the network link more robust when communicating with Spire HQ.
  • Spire no longer supports call notification — it was not working reliably. We’ll bring it back soon.
  • Steps are now tracked in HealthKit.
  • Last but certainly not least, your breathwave is now shown by default on the Home screen.

Photo: James Wheeler

Getting started with the Spire app

You’ve got your Spire, you’re wearing it correctly, and connected your Spire with the app. Great job! This is a big deal!

Now let’s go through 5 primary features of the Spire app.

1. See what your breathwave looks like now

Tap the circle at the top of the Home screen. (The wave will be smoothest when you are seated.)

The breathwave will rise and fall as you breathe in and out.

See if you can relax such that the wave goes up and down with smooth, long, gradual slopes. This is a quick ‘check-in’ you can use any time to relax.

2. Set up notifications

This was our most requested feature! Now you can set Spire to notify you of shallow breathing.

Go into ‘Settings’ then tap ‘Allow Notifications’ then choose each of the Notifications you want to set.

For example, setting the Tense notification for 7 minutes means you want Spire to notify you if you’re in a period of tension that is lasting at least 7 minutes long. When that happens, Spire will notify you of the Tension and give you an option to do a Calm Boost. If you tap that, you’ll be guided with spoken audio in how to bring your breathing down to a calm pattern.

3. Discover what’s happening when you’re unaware

Spire tracks your steps when you’re on the move and your state of mind when you’re not. (FYI: Spire won’t, for now, tell you that you were ‘walking + calm’ or ‘running + focus’ – it will only show 1 state at a time.)

Here, it’s 9:23pm when I checked the app and saw that I had only been breathing calmly for 13 minutes that day.

You can tap these stats to flip them and see more details.

Here, I flipped a Focus streak card to see its details. The graph plots Focus Score over the streak duration – calculated as a combination of respiration rate and consistency, shown below it. My respiration rate for that period of time was 16.5 breaths per minute and had a smooth consistency score, a metric of how much variability your respiration rate saw during the streak.

4. See how your day is going

Check the Stats screen to see how much time you’ve spent in different states.

Tap each stats to see its data. This can give you an excuse to unwind, take a walk – or even to put those distractions away and get focused! 🙂

Here, I see my goal is to get 60 minutes of activity and I’ve had 3,779 steps so far in 28 minutes while burning 511 calories.

When I tap the Focus stat, I see that I have achieved 7 minutes of Focused breathing on that day.

Tapping the Calm stat shows me my Calm breathing for that day. I’ve reached 13 minutes of calm in 4 different parts of my day. I also had 7 minutes of distinct Tension.

5. Be breath-aware – and control your day

Just by wearing Spire, you may feel more aware of your breathing and how it fluctuates based on thoughts and emotions. This can help you know when you are thinking clearly or feeling reactive.

Whenever you think of your breath, use it as a reminder to:

(1) release any unnecessary tension in your face and body

(2) check to see if your thoughts and actions are in line with your personal values

And that moment, spread throughout our daily lives, can make all the difference.

Apple Watch — A Wearable Startup’s Perspective

Thank you, Apple. Now we can create the experience we’ve always wanted to make.

This doesn’t mean we are going to abandon building wearable hardware. It’s the opposite, now we can build hardware and sensors with even more powerful experiences.

Until now, the only times we could interact with wearable devices like Spire (or Fitbit, or Jawbone, etc.) were those limited occasions when we had access to our smartphones or through the tiny displays on the devices themselves.

But Life is not confined to these moments. Life is continuous, unexpected, and, as Apple said repeatedly today, personal.

Devices like Spire, which capture physiological signals that have never been captured before – in our case breathing patterns and state of mind – are bringing to light data and insights that are deeply personal and contextual. This is why a watch matters so much. A watch is personal. A watch is accessible. A watch fits into the context of our day.

The Apple Watch is limited to the physiological indicators that can be captured at the wrist – activity and intermittent heart rate and skin conductance. But, this is only a small fraction of the core physiological signals that define the human experience. As we build technology that goes on and in our clothing – that peers deep into our body and mind – the real power of the Apple watch display and haptic feedback system is clear.

Let me provide an example:

Spire tracks your state of mind – tension, focus, calm – by measuring your breathing pattern. We’ve found, through the extensive research behind Spire, that a small amount of awareness about these states can have an enormous impact on your day. Right now, to gain this awareness, you open your phone, then open the Spire app. Perhaps you receive a push notification as an alert, then open the app. Pretty standard app interaction, wouldn’t you say?

With the new Apple’s Watch, though, this awareness will be more seamlessly integrated into your day. The few steps necessary to the interaction will dwindle to none. Starting to get tense? Your watch face starts to glow red. Looking to regain focus? Your watch face will help you regulate your breathing. And so on.

The Apple Watch allows more responsive and immersive user experience. Startups like Spire that have developed sensing technologies and experiences that go beyond activity tracking can now create experiences we only dreamed about before.

We can’t wait to start supporting the Apple Watch with Spire!