How to use Garmin watch to reduce stress, charge body battery

Berkshire UK
Dear All,

Apologies if a thread on how to do this exisist.

i have just bought a Garmin 5. Ive set the heart rate monitor alam to monitor that part. But beyond that I am just not that tech related to health savvy and just do not understand how to utilise but also affect the Garmin info.

My body battery is is slightly higher over the past week as my dr prescribed sleeping pills for a month, and now at 25% on waking but my stress is permanently at 88%. I basically do not understand on a day to day basis what I need to do to reduce the stress.

Also any other basic information on using the watch to try and prevent PEM. I’ve had a bad relapse and currently 85% must be in bed and sofa bound with mild activity using a powerchair at home on bad days and always using a powerchair out of the house. I push myself to do an hours powerchair walk with my dog 3 times a week but have just shortened that walk from a 2 hour slow walk to the very slow 1 hour.

my brain dog kicks in when I start trying to read to understand HRV etc … going dizzy now …

All help would be most gratefully received.




Senior Member
Hi @Sallyagerharris. I have a Garmin Vivosmart 4 which I am finding quite helpful. Your illness is clearly far more severe than mine, but I did want to share what I have learned about using the Garmin to help me manage. I hope that some of it is transferable to your situation and will be of value. Being stuck in bed with stress at 88 must make you feel so trapped and frustrated. What more can you do?

In any case, I am still learning after six months how my Garmin can tell me what is going on, so there is definitely a learning curve, most of it probably personal. But...for what it is worth:

I have learned where my cut-off for a crash and/or PEM lies. If my Body Battery falls below a certain level (40) things get dicey. If it drops below 30 I am almost 100% assured that I will be down for a couple of days.

If my Body Battery does not start the day near to 100% I have to severely curtail any activity (and by this I mean anything--sitting, reading, talking on the phone, making food) or I will end up in the 20s quite quickly. This of course correlates to a bad night's sleep, which is not atypical for me at all.

My Body Battery seems to start off the day with some resilience--it drops slowly in relation to what I am doing. Later in the day, as it falls below 50, it begins to plummet quickly. It feels a bit like climate change--once a particular feedback loop has been established, there is no stopping it.

I know that when my BB is dropping fast or dropping early in the day, or when my stress level is over 30, I need to lie down and close my eyes and do NOTHING but breathe. As noted above, if I have pushed too hard, this may not do anything to stop the drop. At least for a relatively long while. I try to avoid this situation by taking breaks, of course.

I have discovered that putting ice on my head and neck will quickly turn the Body Battery levels upward. I have experimented some and am still trying to nail this one down, but the other day, my BB was at 32. I got flat and closed my eyes and meditated. BB kept dropping till it hit 26 over the next two hours. Then I iced my head and neck and it was back up to 38 in less than an hour. worst 'stress' comes from orthostatic difficulty. Being upright places a huge burden on my ANS. I see this by tracking the stress reading and correlating it to what I have been doing. So I am now wondering about inflammation and/or vagus nerve stuff being impacted by the icing, which in turns improves my BB levels.

My understanding of the stress reading is that it is mostly about non-intentional exercise raised heart rate. At least that seems to be the case for me. Garmin says that the stress reading measures heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV). They also say that basically it is tracking ANS function.

I have given up on HRV as measuring and monitoring hasn't done a thing for me on its own.

However, the Garmin stress measurement does tell me when I need to make a course correction. (Obviously you are already doing a lot of this.....) I see my stress levels rise as I sit up and stand or walk casually. I have POTS so my heart rate is very high just sitting.

I guess my suggestion is to pay attention to all the things you do, even if they are minute. And to see how they impact the various readings you get. I am going to be tracking food and eating next to see how they effect my stress/BB levels. I have been interested to note, though, that some things I thought would be very draining are not. (Driving, for instance, is less stressful for me than sitting in a chair and reading--or typing!) And some that I didn't realize were taking such a toll in fact need to moderated. (I thought lying down and talking with a friend wasn't too demanding on my system, but It really takes it out of me.)

Aside from giving me a more specific understanding of how/when I overdo things, it also helps me to take what I am feeling more seriously. And it has helped my family as well. When I say: 'Body Battery is in the low 40s' they say: 'Ok, you need to be lying down and left alone for now!'

Right now, my BB is falling fast, so will leave it there. Ask any other specific questions if you think the answers will help. I am off to ice and rest. Best of luck to you.


Senior Member
I'm in the more serious camp as well.

If my schedule and sleep are perfect - well, as perfect as I can make them - then my Battery can be as high as the 90's when I wake. But right now sitting at my desk with some tea, my Stress is 85 and HR is 110. This is not unusual for me. If I lie down in bed and practice deep breathing, I can probably get my Stress down to 50-60 and HR to 90.

Sometimes these numbers are better, sometimes worse. That's where the Garmin is handy. Lately my HR while sitting has been in the 90's, so 110 is a bit worse than usual. However I'm doing one of my 'detox' periods where I stop all supplements so I can restart them carefully and try to suss out what's doing what.

I also spent some time on the computer last night working a bit, so my Battery was only 60 when I woke up. That's one of the ways I learned how badly cognitive exertion was affecting me. If I do nothing engrossing, then my HRV is much improved. Working on the computer for an hour drops my HRV more than a couple glasses of alcohol. Why? I still have no idea of course, and can't seem to fix the problem - just identify it.

Let me know if any specific questions. I mainly just find it helpful as a comparative measure, not absolute. In other words, if your Stress is normally 88, maybe see if certain things make it go to 78 or 98. If your Battery is normally 25 on awakening, are there days when it's 15 or 35? Try to figure out what you did to get it there.


Senior Member
I also have a Garmin. I use a VivoActive 4s.

I use it keep an eye on my heart rate, so that my dysautonomia symptoms are not worsened and trigger a PEM crash. I primarily use pacing techniques to manage my exertion level, and specifically am attempting to practice time-based pacing, instead of task-based, at the encouragement of my ME/CFS specialist. I only use the Garmin body battery stats to inform me when I wake up in the morning if my body charged well enough overnight to push things a little more for the day, or to take it easy, or to stay in bed. I also look at how much deep sleep I have had. If I get 1 hr deep sleep, then I consider it a decent overnight for restoration, even though I wake feeling un-refreshed every morning. I ignore the stress stats, well, because it stresses me out more and nothing I do so far seems to improve it. I believe my body is in constant stress because of ME/CFS.

I have 2 years of Garmin activity tracker stats and about 3 years suffering through this disease, so I believe I have figured out from daily journaling (in the first 2 years) the types, frequencies and durations of daily activities that trigger my PEM relapses and dysautonomia. I learned from CPET my time limits for exertions are 4 mins on a good day and 1 min on a bad day. I am homebound (sometimes bedbound) and jobless (on disability benefits), consider my affliction medium, with about 3 hours of aggregate exertion time on good days, and only 0 to 1 hr on bad days. I have also accepted that in spite of my caution, my ME/CFS can have plans of its own. My body battery rarely goes above 40 upon waking, so it is cause for celebration when that happens. I have recently noticed my body battery improves when I have my menstrual period.

I will come back to edit my entry with links to pacing and other threads with tips for Garmin that I found.

Hope this helps!

Nice thread on pacing and activity tracking:

HRV based pacing

Time Based Pacing:
"Improve your Functioning through Effective Pacing" (UMHS 2003, Dr D A Williams and Dr M Carey)
This came up on authorzilla. Couldn't find it anywhere else...scroll to the 12 page pdf in the embedded viewer.

This helps with daily journaling on smartphone:

My other feedback on Garmin activity tracking:

Timer app in Garmin to help with time based pacing:

Folks describe their experiences and tips using various activity trackers:

Great links from Pyrrhus:
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Berkshire UK
Super and thanks for all the info. Trying to work out whether I use a heart rate record sheet to help. Has anyone found any type of record keeping or just looking at the garmin info. One hard bits is how to start doing this seriously as I do love my few times I walk my dog in my powerchair in a week. This is usually 3 times a week and I know this in itself causes problems. I’m converting to more ball throwing and my lovely dog swimming but know even getting by car and then getting powerchair out will send heart rate rocketing. How the heck do I start …