FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

Download and open our app, and choose “Stress Check” or “Optimize.” When prompted, lightly rest your finger over the phone/ipad camera and flash (don’t press). For the first 20 seconds, a calibration of your measurement takes place. If the reading is not clear, a prompt will ask you to adjust the finger. Once the calibration is complete, a color coded bar and timer will appear – this is the stress check. Make sure to breathe normally (or follow the guided breathing exercise in Optimize mode) and continue to keep your finger as steady as possible!

A few pro tips for using Optimalist:

  • The key is to very gently cover both the flash light and the camera.
  • If your iPhone model has 3 cameras, use 3 fingers horizontally to cover all cameras and flashlight (as pictured below).
  • If you are having a hard time getting the initial measurement to start, try placing the finger just millimeters away from the camera.

 

 

If this doesn’t happen after about 20 seconds, a prompt will ask you to readjust your finger. To do so lift it up, and very gently cover again as much of the flash and lense as possible.

 

Our Android version is coming soon! Sign up here to get notified when you can download it.

 

Our app reads Heart Rate Variability (HRV) through photoplesthysmosgraphy. HRV analysis shows the state of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The heart is regulated by the two branches of the ANS, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. When these two systems are balanced, the body is working at an optimal state. The more balanced, the more variable the heart rate is. A decline in HRV is a sign that the body is having trouble adapting to external demands and situations, resulting in stress.

↓ HRV: ↑ Stress

↑ HRV: ↑ Optimal State (Peak Performance)

 

Awareness: many people don’t realize how stressed they are. They feel “normal” but internally the body is working hard to cope. This can have negative consequences that span from episodes of acute anxiety or irritability (i.e., when you blow up at your friend, partner, or kid for something that really wasn’t that big of a deal), to more serious consequences such as panic attacks or mental breakdowns. 

Think of it like this – you are a cup. Stress is water. Every time you experience a stressor, your cup fills up a little bit, and your capacity to hold any more diminishes. Everything is fine until you hit capacity and then the next stressor, no matter how big or small, causes a spill (which might manifest as an outburst, or a panic attack, or an overwhelming need to eat a donut). 

Management: By keeping tabs on your stress level, you can take proactive steps to manage it (i.e., let some water out), and help avoid those spilling situations.    

Using Optimalist, you can manage your stress by:

  • Understanding how each activity affects us, positively and negatively. 
  • Using the breathing pacer to optimize any activity
  • Mindfully choosing an activity to rebalance your physiological stress. The intentionality is a key aspect to boost mood and reduce stress
  • Getting an objective measurement, which gives you a sense of control and productivity, and a tangible  goal to work towards a better you.
  • Using techniques grounded in cognitive behavioral and evidence-based studies to reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing.

RED (1-2):  Stressed 

YELLOW (3-5): Tense 

GREEN (6-7): Calm 

BLUE (8-9): Optimal State 

 

Optimal state is when your body is balanced, synchronized, and working like a clock. This means your mind is clear, and you are better able to make decisions and perform at your best. Your reflexes and muscles are ready to get in action; your hand-eye coordination improves, and your movements get more accurate. Whether you are looking to ace your meeting, win your game, or just feel more relaxed, training your body to reach a physiological optimal state is your goal.

 

Many people are living with chronic high levels of stress, and although it feels “normal” the body is working harder to regulate its physiology. Stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, are responsible for getting the body ready to react againsts stressors (fight or flight response). This entails mechanisms that include an acceleration of heart and respiratory rate, that can lead to negative consequences.

The chronic release of adrenaline and cortisol is damaging to the body, usually able to withstand acute stress. Chronic stress results in greater cognitive alteration: lack of focus, depression, fatigue, insomnia, just to name a few.

When the body is unable to regulate, there are other negative consequences such as decreased levels of serotonin (that lead to depression and lack of sleep), muscle break down (decreased muscle tone), frequent injuries, weight gain, and poor overall performance.

If your stress level is chronically high, it might take time and stress reducing practices to lower it down. Don’t get discouraged if the levels don’t show an improvement right away. Think of it as going to the gym for the mind: In the first visit you might not notice muscle build up, but with time and dedication, you will see the difference.

Stress is usually an accumulation of small triggers, and not just an isolated event. Optimalist is a tool that helps you be more aware of your overall stress level, but also how your daily activities are impacting you.

Here are a couple of factors that affect stress levels:

  • Bad sleep
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Self judgement / perfectionism
  • Frustrations and concerns
  • Mental and physical fatigue
  • Physical ailments (e.g. aches, injuries)
  • Loud noises
  • High temperatures

Being more aware of how your body is coping with everyday activities and situations (relationships, work, finances, etc.) is the first step to reducing your overall stress. Use the “Optimize” mode to understand how different activities affect you. If you notice an activity has a lower score than when you started, it could be that you are self-judging or being too hard on yourself for not having a better score. Try to let go of mentally trying to improve the score, and focus on following the breathing pacer. A paced breathing will help your physiology regulate, and get those levels back to normal. Remember that stress is the body being unable to cope with an accumulation of situations, that become overwhelming. Trying activities that improve your mood will help balance out all the negative stressors. Everyone is different, so start with activities you already know you enjoy. You can track your body’s response to anything from taking a walk, to listening to your favorite podcast, to  meditating, to cooking. One person’s stressor could be another person’s release.

Optimalist is all about getting objective data on what works for you. 

The goal is to train your breathing to a set pace, following the inhale/exhale pacer.

 – Breathe through your abdomen, rather than your chest. If you are not sure if you are breathing through your abdomen, place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. You will notice the hand on the abdomen moving when the abdomen expands (inhale) and contracts (exhale). The hand on the chest should remain as still as possible (chest should not fully expand, shoulders should remain low).

–  Focus on the breathing pacer. Follow its movement and haptic as it expands and shrinks.

–  If  you begin feeling dizzy or lightheaded, stop for a few minutes and resume again when you feel better.

 

The chronic release of adrenaline and cortisol is damaging to the body, usually able to withstand acute stress. Chronic stress results in greater cognitive alteration: lack of focus, depression, fatigue, insomnia, just to name a few.

When the body is unable to regulate, there are other negative consequences such as decreased levels of serotonin (that lead to depression and lack of sleep), muscle break down (decreased muscle tone), frequent injuries, weight gain, and poor overall performance.

If your stress level is chronically high, it might take time and stress reducing practices to lower it down. Don’t get discouraged if the levels don’t show an improvement right away. Think of it as going to the gym for the mind: In the first visit you might not notice muscle build up, but with time and dedication, you will see the difference.

Stress is usually an accumulation of small triggers, and not just an isolated event. Optimalist is a tool that helps you be more aware of your overall stress level, but also how your daily activities are impacting you.

Here are a couple of factors that affect stress levels:

  • Bad sleep
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Self judgement / perfectionism
  • Frustrations and concerns
  • Mental and physical fatigue
  • Physical ailments (e.g. aches, injuries)
  • Loud noises
  • High temperatures

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