When yoga isn't cutting it: Four gadgets to help you relax

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Monday March 6th, 2017

Modern world stresses seem to grow on a daily basis. Between the traffic snarls of your daily commute, the tensions that go with earning a living, and the pressure of maintaining a home and social life when you're exhausted, it's a wonder we're not all loony.

There are plenty of non-tech ways to calm yourself—but sometimes even the most Zen among us need a little help. If the pace of the life is getting to be a little too much for you—and all the yoga classes you can fit into that busy schedule of yours aren't creating inner peace—there are a few gadgets that may actually put you on a more level course

Spire Mindfulness and Activity Tracker

Available at amazon.com

While exercise certainly helps to reduce stress, keeping tracking the number of steps you take during the day doesn't. Spire is more than a typical activity tracker, though. The $130 device also measures your breathing and provides feedback if it appears that you're starting to get tense (generally determined when you're not taking deep breaths). The device works with your phone to gently remind you to take a moment to unwind, which can prevent daily tension from building to a boiling point.

The Fidget Cube

Available at amazon.com

Sometimes, all we need to reduce our stress is an object to fiddle with. For some it could be rolling something in their hands. Others obsessively click their pens. And some people just guide their fingers around random objects. The $30 Fidget Cube offers six distractions that will let you release the stress in a variety of discrete ways. It's a funny-looking device, yes, but it's one that could help you relieve anxiety or excess nervous tension—especially at the office.

Nox Music Smart Sleep Light

Available at amazon.com

The minute we lay our head on the pillow can be the most stressful time of the day for some people. All of the day's drama (and some from months past) can rush into your mind, keeping you awake longer—and thus less equipped to handle the next day's stress. Nox not only measures your sleep patterns like a sleep monitoring device, it helps you fall asleep faster via a light that produces red wavelengths, which it says raise melatonin levels. The $149 device also acts as a sound machine that emits the equivalent of gently lapping waves to help you drift off. Then, in the morning, it wakes you naturally by gently making the room brighter when its accompanying app determines you're in a light sleep mode near the time your alarm is set to go off.

Muse

Available at amazon.com

We've all had times when our brains go into overdrive and we can't get them to shut up, no matter how we try to distract ourselves. Muse is a $249 headset that aims to help put your mind at ease. It's a tool for meditation that uses brain sensing technology to determine if your mind is calm or active, and gives you audio cues to help guide you toward serenity. Meditation and high tech may not seem an obvious fit, but InteraXon (the company that created Muse) has raised over $18 million in funding and has Harvard and NASA among its research partners.

NuCalm

While not yet available to consumers (it's scheduled to go on sale publicly later this year), this patented device claims to lower stress and improve sleep—and in the six-plus years since it was introduced commercially, dentists have used it on over 700,000 patients. The system centers around a "neurotransmitter" device that it says gives you the same restorative effects of two hours of deep sleep in just 20 minutes. At the CES electronics show in Las Vegas earlier this year, over 1,000 people lined up (often waiting a half hour or more) to give it a try.

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