Technology has a track record of disconnecting us from our bodies. From 9-5, we are hunched over and typing away at our computer desks; during lunch, we crane our necks to check messages on our smart phones; and even when we get home to relax, we stare into our iPads to watch Netflix. Unfortunately, the longer we live in the world of our screens, the longer we are absent from and unaware of the needs of our own bodies, reinforcing bad habits for our health and well being.
In the past few years, researchers have been studying the impact of the physical self on mental and emotional states. You’ve probably heard about how body posture can boost confidence, helping you to perform better in an interview or to nail your next presentation. Or you’ve seen this map of emotions on the body, which is just another example of how emotions are connected to biological responses.
But what’s most interesting is that technology is stepping in to enable people to reconnect with their bodies, a separation which you can say it is responsible for in the first place.
Take, for example, the new wearable device Spire. When clipped to your bra strap or belt loop, it detects when you are tense, and sends notifications to your phone to remind you to step away and breathe. It tracks your breathing patterns and data for you over time, and then actually makes recommendations for how to make real-time changes to your habits. “You’ve been sitting for over an hour, perhaps you should stretch your legs”
There are similar apps out there (Lumolift, for example detects bad posture, and reminds you to sit up straight) that are also trying to take a hold of the tech-wellness space and restore the connection between the mind and the body. This combined with power poses is a recipe for physical health and mental success.
While I’m not sure yet which approach I’d personally take for reconnecting with my physical responses to stress from the many options out there, as a researcher I’m most interested in what the reception of these apps says about shifts in our mindset as a culture, and the fresh ground they are tapping into. There’s a return to the natural and to the balanced, and it’s not exactly tech-free. The shift shows just how deeply dependent on technology we are, that we need to use technology to connect with our most basic functions – like breathing and sitting without hunching over.
There’s still a lot to be explored when it comes to mind-body connection and the role of technology, and I’m excited to see what research will uncover next, and how it will be implemented into other consumer-facing devices.
antedote is an award-winning strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands.
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