Garmin Stress Score (Everything you need to know about it)

In this brief guide, we will look at topics related to Garmin Stress Scores and how to recognize and manage stress in day to day life.

Garmin Stress score

Garmin Stress scores are calculated by the Garmin wearable and fitness devices by measuring someone’s Heart Rate Variability, which refers to the time interval between each heartbeat.

These devices give a reading of the stress score depending on the person’s Heart rate variability alone, however, which is why their measurements must be considered accordingly, and one should keep in mind that any changes in this factor may be perceived by the Garmin device as a Stress score.

Garmin stress scores have levels or ranges and they are considered low, moderate, and severe based on these ranges, which are from 0 to 100.

A Garmin stress score between 0 to 25 refers to a resting state, 26 to 50 is low stress, 51 to 75 is medium stress, and 76 to 100 is a high-stress or severe stress state. 

Garmin makes wearable, fitness, aviation, outdoor recreation, and marine devices, and they cater to a wide range of activities through their cutting edge technology.

Garmin Stress Score Accuracy

A Garmin stress score accuracy condition is dependent upon the simple fact that Heart rate Variability is not always the most accurate measure for Stress assessment, as many conditions can affect Heart Rate variability, and it is not necessary that the abnormal HRV the Garmin device is picking up is because of the stress alone.

On the other hand, there is also the factor of how accurate the Garmin device may be at measuring the HRV alone, which it has been shown to do fairly accurately.

Most people who have used Garmin devices seem to indicate that they have had considerably accurate results regarding their stress scores, but that it may not always work when the stress is not affecting someone’s heart rate very much, which is possible when the stress is not as severe.

In addition, low levels of stress may not manifest as panicky bouts which cause too many physical symptoms, and in such cases, the Garmin device may not pick it up very accurately and the Garmin Stress score may be wrong.

Another big problem with the Garmin stress score accuracy is that sometimes it is not measuring stress at all, as in the case of this person who was not sleeping well when they were intoxicated, and while the Garmin measured that accurately, it does not necessarily have any bearing on how well they felt in terms of their stress because they were not feeling stressed out, just hungover or intoxicated,.

“it’s really noticeable how ‘stressed’ my sleep is when I go to bed intoxicated,. We all know that no matter if we fall into a deep intoxicated, sleep for ten hours, we’ll probably wake up feel wretched and be tired all day after a big night, and this partly demonstrates why. I may get eight, nine, or even ten hours of sleep after a heavy night, but the quality of sleep is awful. I’ve actually found having this presented to me so clearly a little sobering (if you’ll excuse the pun) and it’s definitely made me think twice about how often and how much I drink during the week.”

However, as one might notice, it can put things into perspective rather quickly to know how significantly bad sleep affects your body, and to be presented with this information can often make people keener to embrace changes related to these issues.

This person also says that they were able to track their heart rate variability quite well throughout the time they wore the Garmin device (Vivoactive), and they say it was fairly accurate about their experiences at the time, but it is evident that those experiences may not necessarily be related to stress, per se.

“This is probably the least surprising learning on the whole list, but it’s interesting to note that the Garmin’s ‘stress’ detection is at least accurate enough to differentiate between a working day and a weekend.”

This user also talked about the importance of a good night’s rest in managing stress, and says about the reading their Garmin device made about the value of sleeping in their own bed:

“This is actually far more noticeable than the weekend thing. I spend a lot of time away from home at the moment, and my average stress levels are far lower when I’m sleeping in my own bed (which is extremely comfortable, the right temperature, and in a quiet room) rather than in an Airbnb which may have a fairly uncomfortable bed in a noisy room that is often too cold or too hot.”

How do I know if I have Stress?

Apart from Garmin Stress scores, one needs to know the symptom of stress well enough so that they may be able to understand the stress score better and be able to do something about it.

The Garmin Stress Score only talks about the level of stress in terms of Heart rate Variability, it does not do much to display more details about the physiological changes that are happening in the person’s body or why that stress is present at all.

For severe stress one may need to see a doctor rather than depend on their smartwatch alone, but if someone is properly in touch with their stress levels it can be beneficial to them to keep track of their rising and falling stress levels in addition to the knowledge about the symptoms of stress.

Here are some of the most common physical sign of stress apart from heart rate variability:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue or lack of attention and focus
  • Frequent aches and pains
  • Weak immune system and frequent infections
  • Headaches
  • Random pains in the body
  • Forgetfulness
  • Sexual problems
  • Stiff jaw or neck, teeth pain
  • Tiredness and lethargy
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, lack of restful sleep
  • Upset stomach or a feeling of rumbly stomach
  • Use of alcohol or drugs to “unwind”
  • Weight loss or gain without trying for either.
  • Feeling of tightness in the chest in certain situations

Stress can often lead to severe problems like heart-related issues and menstrual issues, not to mention it can wreak havoc on the hormonal system and the neurotransmitters that are responsible for the conduction or many of the nerve impulses in the body.

Some psychological symptoms of stress include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling withdrawn
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Lack of pleasure
  • Feeling panicky
  • Irritability
  • Frequent anger outbursts
  • Frequent Crying spells

Garmin Stress Score Reddit

There are various discussions about Garmin Stress scores on Reddit where real users may come together and discuss the applicability of this technology, some of which are provided below.

“Well stress score is measured through HR, so it would make sense if your HR stays elevated after drinking or if you’re having an intense dream.

There were times when I was super excited about something and my stress score went up.”

“I find it reliable. My stress score goes up when I’m stressed and down when I’m not.”

One user on Reddit also explains just how the Garmin Stress Tracker works:

“The stress tracker measures for heart rate variability. This is a measure that cognitive neuroscience researchers often use to gauge stress and arousal. I think it is fairly reflective of my own psychological state though. I had a really huge presentation just last week and my whole day was just orange, roughly between 30 and 40. On normal days, I usually range between 10 to 20, and I don’t hit any orange zones.”

Another one correlates a very real experience of stress with the Garmin Stress scores, saying:

“Yes, for me, it correlates very well. I had this guy living next to me who’d bully the entire neighborhood (he’d get intoxicated, walk up to your fence and yell stuff), and I could see my stress response on weekends. Basically, as soon as I turned into our drive, I’d get very stressed. Work was blue, even shopping on Saturdays was fine, but I’d come home and bam, 70-100. He moved out three months ago, and it took me a few weeks to believe it was actually over. My weekends are almost completely blue now. So nice!”

This next review mentions the probability of getting a somewhat high Garmin Stress score when someone is feeling sick as well, which only drives home the idea that one needs to always consult a professional as well.

“It’s “reliable”, it indicates the stress on your body(and consequently how tired you feel), it’s based on heart rate, I had the flu and my chart was completely orange with values over 50, I can go back to those days and I can clearly see when my flu begin and when it ends.

Also, it clearly goes high when you exercise, but after some time it indicates a rest time because of the good effect the workout has on you.

Is it perfect? No, but it’s a good indication of what’s happening in your body.”

This last review also includes a mention of other Garmin devices and how they relate to the Garmin Stress score:

“I’ve actually found it to reasonably closely correlate to my perception of how stressful a day has been. Quite impressively so to be honest.

However…it is completely unreliable on days when you track an activity using another Garmin device (i.e. cycling with an Edge) because Garmin Connect doesn’t use the data it holds to associate the increased heart rate with exercise rather than stress. Their explanation for that is that it’s a feature of the device rather than Connect; but then the activity actually does show on the device after syncing so that doesn’t really explain why they couldn’t implement it (likewise with adding the calories from that activity to the calories burned field on the watch; the activity calories come over, they’ve just chosen not to take them into account on the watch).”

Stress Management

Here are some tips you can follow for stress management:

  • Listen to relaxing music
  • Work only to your capacity and try to not overwork yourself
  • Get out of situations that make you too stressed out
  • Do breathing exercises
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation
  • Exercise
  • Eat good meals
  • Get some fresh air every day
  • Take a vacation

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we looked at topics related to Garmin Stress Scores and how to recognize and manage stress in day to day life. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Garmin Stress Score

How does Garmin measure stress?

Garmin measures stress by measuring heart rate variability, and lower heart rate variability corresponds to a higher stress level.

The heart rate variability measurement feature of the Garmin devices allows them to measure the approximate stress level of the individual.

How does Fenix 6 measure stress?

According to the Garmin website, Fenix 6 measures stress level by “a three-minute test performed while standing still, where the fēnix® device analyzes heart rate variability to determine your overall stress. Training, sleep, nutrition, and general life stress all impact how a runner performs.”

Why does my Garmin say unproductive?

Your Garmin may say “unproductive” when it tracks that your workouts are not having the intended effect or your muscles are not getting adequate oxygen, and it may be time to switch up your workout a bit or stop what you are doing.

The unproductive feature of Garmin devices allows users to stay on top of their exercise and do the things that work best for their bodies.

Citations

https://www.heartratemonitorsusa.com/blogs/news/garmin-stress-level-feature-shows-interesting-influenza-data

https://www.wareable.com/sport/every-garmin-metric-explained

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003211.htm#:~:text=Stress%20is%20a%20feeling%20of,danger%20or%20meet%20a%20deadline.

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.