Just a girl trying not to punch someone in the face

A review of the Spire Mindfulness and Activity Tracker

I was drawn to the word “mindfulness” in the description of the latest in wearable technology. Mindfulness, being in the present moment, noticing things but not letting my emotions and thoughts give way to them, and challenging my negative thoughts are a few things I’ve always struggled with. I have both anxiety and depression, combined with a tendency towards emotional intensity which makes it incredibly difficult for my mind to stop racing to all the negative conclusions and before I know it, I’m engaged in another round of negative self-talk that has become my most successful pastime. 

My EMDR therapist has always encouraged mindfulness as a practice, which I have found difficult due to my intense emotional reactions and immediately grabbing onto the thought that confirms my already solidified core belief.  I have trouble slowing my mind down, thinking rationally and most of all, believing those rational thoughts. It normally spirals into a period of depression, or requires me to obtain some sort of external reminder from loved ones that I really am not the piece of shit I think I am.

So this is my review after a few weeks of using the Spire. Take it or leave it.

 

Disclaimers

*I am not an expert of anything besides self-destructive behavior, so YES, you should absolutely take this review with a grain of salt and do further research to determine if this would be a good fit for you.

***I struggle with depression, anxiety, emotional intensity disorder, and general low self worth, as well as an acceptable amount of rage following a sexual assault incident.

****I did start a new medication around the time that I started using this device, and see an EMDR therapist regularly. I have also tried cognitive behavioral therapy and am working on dialectical behavior therapy as well. 

 

What I am looking for

I’ve recently discovered I am struggling with the ability to address my thoughts and emotions in a rational state in the moment.  Coping mechanisms are only useful if one remembers to use them…

So I was looking for something that would give me a nudge when my emotional reactions and the garbage that comes with it started to take over my mind.

 

Spire claims

Spire’s website https://spire.io describes the science behind breath and your state of mind and tracks your breathing to determine your emotional state. Then it vibrates to let you know that you’ve “entered a streak of tense breathing” and could use a deep breath. It provides guided breathing exercises and meditation exercises in order to control your breathing, which helps bring your mind back to a more mindful state, regulating the nervous system to calm the mind.

See? Science. https://spire.io/pages/science

Spire works in conjunction with an app on your phone to remind you when your breathing is in a tense state and you’re getting worked up.

 

 

It then encourages you to take a deep breath, or stretch your legs. It provides short exercises, referred to as Boosts to reduce tension, meditate, refresh your mind as well as a highly useful breathing tool on the home screen which lets you practice slowing your breathing as a series of dots swirl on the screen and slowly change colors as you control your breathing.

 

 

It provides a daily summary to track your breathing and activity throughout the day. It shows you individual moments you were calm, tense, or focused, which you can edit to add notes regarding what you were doing that encouraged that emotional state.

 

 

And if you look back and realize that Spire is full of shit, you can delete the streak in your stats.

 

 

This is a basic overview of what the Spire device does. You can find more information on the website, as well as the science and research behind it.

 

My experience

I used this for a couple of weeks, starting May 24.

Please note: 

  1. There were some days I didn’t use this, like the weekend of Memorial Day, when I just spent the entire weekend by the pool.
  2. I did not wear this to the gym. My main goal regarding this device was to find out how it would affect my emotional state. Me and the gym are good. I’m not particularly concerned about tracking my activity.
  3. I wore this primarily on the waistband of my pants. The other option is to hook it to your bra, ladies, but apparently the developers at Spire have never had the pleasure of boob sweat. I did that once or twice, when I was wearing a dress, for instance. It didn’t seem to track my breathing differently.
  4. In the past couple of weeks, I haven’t had any situational stressors besides work. No breakups or fights, depressive episodes, etc.

 

Overall

The Spire does what it claims to do, and minus a few inaccuracies, I was mostly impressed at the ability of this device. A few times I was super stressed and Spire tracked it as focused. Again, this monitors the expansion and contraction in your torso and diaphragm as you inhale and exhale, so I put it down to the way I was breathing. Sometimes that rage is simmering beneath the surface of a smile. 

You know when you get that email that just makes your blood pressure go up? I said the words “that just made my blood pressure go up” and Spire vibrated immediately, stating my breathing was tense. That was sort of impressive.

I take more walks during the day to focus on my breathing and I try to slow down, and notice things more. Enjoy the sun on my face and all that bullshit. Very yoga-esque.  Which I also try to do twice a week, and helped me learn to take deep breaths.

I can’t say I’ve been calmer in the past couple of weeks using this, but I definitely am more conscious of my breathing now. I find myself looking at the app on my phone to see what my breathing pattern is at the moment. And I’ve used the breathing exercise with the little dots multiple times during the day.

It’s encouraged me to work on slowing down, just SITTING, sometimes. In the day of the #girlboss, it’s easy to view time spent doing nothing as wasted. We have glorified the idea of being busy.

But sometimes there are forms of self-care that are more productive than a bottle of wine. FUCK.

 

I’m just here for the comments

Ah Facebook.

There have been a few sponsored posts that have drawn in the critics. And oh, the experts out there.

 

“I think it’s kind of funny that you would want to have technology keep track of your mindfulness. What’s the point if you can’t pay attention to paying attention?” -Facebook

This is more of a nudge back to reality, cuz you on Facebook wasting energy commenting too girl.

 

My phone would be alerting me every moment to breath, be mindful, take a break, do a meditation, I’m fairly positive this would quickly become yet another anxiety in my life…that the thing is going to alert me…again!” -Facebook

Imagine what the world would be like if we all took more time during the day to breath and be mindful. What if Trump…never mind.

 

So let me get this straight, we are checking in with a device on how to check in with self. To be notified how to breathe without first trusting self. And to be guided to meditate without listening to self. Huuuummmmm. What if we believed in our potential, listened to our breath, and honored what we felt and heard as we discover love and light and greatness in self. And what if we then took that mindful connection and reached out to others with the most amazing ‘device’, ourselves **heart emoji**” -Facebook

This is a beautiful thought and a wonderful goal but unfortunately we struggle doing those things – believing in our potential, honoring what we feel and hear, and discovering ourselves. Remember we as a society are only now coming around to the idea of honoring our emotions and honoring the things we feel as valid instead of sucking it up.

 

“Can it track my emotions when I saw the price?” -Facebook

Alright. $129.00 isn’t anything to sneeze at. But we spend money on the things we prioritize in our lives. FOR ME, I am at a point where i need to prioritize my mental health.

And I am here to tell you that $129.00 is a HELL of a lot less expensive, stressful and draining than a $6,000 hospital bill.

 

The various posts sharing meditation and mindfulness resources and comparing it to these FREE resources…. -Facebook

Again, this is about the in-the-moment practice. It can be difficult to stop ourselves once the emotional intensity of a moment has taken over and our rational mind has given way to our emotions. Again, if you are skilled at this, then this product wouldn’t be for you. I’m just saying that this is the purpose of the device. It’s about the nudge to remind us to breathe. As one commenter put it, this is “for those who are just beginning mindfulness, and have that lack of body awareness.”

 

“When technology has gone too far…unreal.” -Facebook

See also https://www.whitehouse.gov/ for reference to “gone too far.”

 

I get all the concerns. They’re all valid. But I think, in the day and age where I see people wearing Fitbits 24/7 yet taking the elevator vs the stairs, eating every meal out, and making poor nutritional decisions, are we really in a position to call something counterintuitive?

 

The word you’re looking for is touche.

 

Takeaway

To me, this is worth it. I’m keeping my device.

It may not be right for you. But if mindfulness and your mental health are a priority for you, if you’ve spent years and thousands on therapy and medication, what do you really have to lose.

Again, I’m no expert and this is just my personal experience combined with the things that I struggle with on a daily basis. It doesn’t help me get out of bed any earlier, but it might keep me from punching someone in the teeth for another day.

 

TL;DR

This device gives me hope that one day I will be able to successfully practice mindfulness and gain more control over my emotional state and the things that come with it.

 

Questions, complaints, concerns. ASK/RANT

 

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