A NEW tool can reveal how stressed you are just by listening to your voice.
The Cigna StressWaves Test listens to pich, tone, pauses and word choices to calculate stress levels.
All it requires is for you to speak into your phone for 90 seconds on a chosen topic, ranging from relationship fears to health concerns.
It then tells you on a scale if you have “no stress” or are “extremely stressed”.
Take the test by clicking here.
Cigna, a medical insurance firm, says the algorithm is based on a dataset of over 15,000 adults with varying accents and levels of English-speaking ability.
The tool has learned what stressed people sound like, and can now apply it to others.
You only need to give you name and email address and talk conversationally for 90 seconds. The voice recording is not stored.
The Sun tried the free test in a matter of minutes.
The result is based entirely on the patterns of your speaking, and so can’t be a completely reliable analysis of stress levels.
If you change the way you speak to a more upbeat, bubbly and bright tone, the algorithm assumes that you are not very stressed.
But Dr Peter Mills, Associate Medical Director, Cigna Europe, sees the test being useful for people to get on top of their mental health.
He said: “Stress and mental health issues have been pushed up the agenda in recent years.
“While this increased awareness is a positive change, the pandemic has created many new pressures in our lives.
“If stress goes unchecked, we may see dramatic consequences and that’s why innovative health tools like the Cigna StressWaves Test are so important."
A nation of stress
The UK is a stressed nation.
Research has generally shown that between 70 and 75 per cent of adults feel stressed or have done so in the past year.
A survey by Cigna Europe showed of the 71 per cent of people in the UK who are stressed, 12 per cent say it is “unmanageable”.
The most common stressors are work and financial woes.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, almost a third of adults have had suicidal thoughts as a result of stress, which is more common in women and young adults.
Why should you take notice of stress?
For some people, stress has just become “part of life” and something they put up with.
But stress has an invisible impact on the body which can cause health problems to creep up on you.
Dr Zoe Williams told The Sun: “The chronic stress of the 21st century means our bodies are constantly producing harmful inflammatory chemicals, which cause a number of effects on the body.
“They make us lay down visceral fat, which is the dangerous fat in and around your organs.
“They increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
“They make us crave high-calorie, sugar-filled food, and increase risk of depression and anxiety.”
A 2016 study by the University Kelley School of Business, in Indiana, found that employees who were stressed risked an earlier grave.
You might eat more, you might smoke, you might engage in some of these things to cope [with stress]
The seven-year study found workers with little control over their workflow died younger or lived less healthy lives compared to workers who were given more flexibility in the workplace.
Cancer was the leading cause, accounting for 55 per cent of early deaths.
Professor Erik Gonzalez-Mulé said: "When you don't have the necessary resources to deal with a demanding job, you do this other stuff.
"You might eat more, you might smoke, you might engage in some of these things to cope with it."
How to reduce stress levels
Dr Zoe has these tips for reducing stress levels from as early as today.
1. COLD WATER
Plunging into cold water puts the body into an extreme state of stress. If you do it often, say, a few times a week, your body gets used to real stress and so when an everyday version strikes, it knows not to react.
2. DITCH COFFEE
Caffeine is a stimulant and while you feel you might need it because you slept badly, have a look at how much you’re drinking in a day. If it’s more than three cups, try reducing or switching to decaffeinated.
3. SWITCH OFF
Turn off your phone and laptop. Always put them in another room and don’t ever have them beside the bed. And make sure you’re having several hours a day where you’re not anywhere near a device.
It’s pretty much the silver bullet for several medical conditions but getting a sweat on has been found in multiple studies to reduce stress levels and can also help undo some of the physical damage caused by stress.
I struggle with meditation, but there’s bags of evidence that it helps. We’re all different, so while I’ve tried it several times and it might not be for me, it is worth a go. Download the Headspace or Calm app.
Studies have found spending just 20 minutes in nature reduces stress hormone levels. Put your phone away to get the benefit. Can you choose a route to walk to work that takes you through greenery, or use your lunch break to get out into nature?
7. LIGHT A CANDLE
Plenty of studies have found a strong correlation between aromatherapy and decreased levels of stress and anxiety. Go for calming scents such as orange blossom, lavender and sandalwood.
8. MEET FRIENDS
Getting out and meeting people you are close to helps reduce stress. One women-only study found that those who spent time with their friends experienced an increase in levels of oxytocin, a stress-relieving hormone.
Whatever you need to do to get your giggle on, go for it.
A good old belly laugh is so beneficial for stress. A study with cancer patients found the participants who used laughter intervention therapy were less stressed than the control group.
10. GET THE MUSIC GOING
Studies have found calming music reduces levels of cortisol – the stress hormone. Just make sure you ditch the garage or house in favour of jazz or classical. Add some dancing into the mix and reap even more benefits.
Source: Read Full Article