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

Messages
74
Location
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.

thx

Sally
 

Jyoti

Senior Member
Messages
3,403
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.

Now...my 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 ....wow. 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.
 

hapl808

Senior Member
Messages
2,178
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.
 

SnappingTurtle

Senior Member
Messages
265
Location
GA, USA
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:
https://forums.phoenixrising.me/thr...lly-spring-for-an-hr-hrv-monitor.83152/unread

HRV based pacing
https://forums.phoenixrising.me/threads/questions-about-heart-rate-monitoring.44355/post-721358

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.
https://authorzilla.com/39LpW/chapter-2-behavioral-activation.html

This helps with daily journaling on smartphone:
https://forums.phoenixrising.me/thr...or-symptom-tracking-health-history-etc.85270/

My other feedback on Garmin activity tracking:
https://forums.phoenixrising.me/threads/snappingturtles-story-so-far.81755/#post-2318053

Timer app in Garmin to help with time based pacing:
https://forums.phoenixrising.me/threads/how-bad-is-it-to-crash.86091/page-2#post-2375585

Folks describe their experiences and tips using various activity trackers:
https://forums.phoenixrising.me/thr...-heart-rate-monitor.48922/page-4#post-2353816

Great links from Pyrrhus:
https://forums.phoenixrising.me/thr...-heart-rate-monitor.48922/page-4#post-2353816
 
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Messages
74
Location
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 …
 
Messages
71
I got my garmin recently and I'm thinking about sending it back. I want it to show hr, body battery, and percent remaining in the watch battery. Instead it shows nonsense like number of steps and something with a rain cloud that I don't need. First thing in the morning before I got up it said I had made 7 steps so I pay no attention to that. It claims I burn 2200 to 2900 calories a day doing almost nothing so that is useless as well. I would be nice and skinny if it were true. Now it says my bb is 32 and someone said that if it gets below 30 a crash is coming.

This is nuts, I haven't done anything all day besides sit here watching the monitor and occasional trips to kitchen and bathroom. My bb was up to 72 and now 32. I think its screwed up, I plan to send it back but I will fiddle with it over the weekend to see what I can do with it

I charged it to 100% and the next day its down to 10%. Is there a better brand than garmin and a better watch than the vivosmart 5?
 

hapl808

Senior Member
Messages
2,178
This is nuts, I haven't done anything all day besides sit here watching the monitor and occasional trips to kitchen and bathroom. My bb was up to 72 and now 32. I think its screwed up, I plan to send it back but I will fiddle with it over the weekend to see what I can do with it

I charged it to 100% and the next day its down to 10%. Is there a better brand than garmin and a better watch than the vivosmart 5?

It takes about a week or two to calibrate.

You can set it up so Stress or other things is the main display. I never look at steps.

I never do anything other than sit or crutch to the kitchen. My HR is usually 90-100 at rest, and the Battery steadily goes down from the moment I wake up even if I'm sitting in bed.

It's only nuts because it's reflective of how poor my health is.

If your HR is high and HRV is mediocre, Body Battery will decline quickly. That is what it's meant to do. You should monitor the Stress reading during the day along with HR.
 

Jyoti

Senior Member
Messages
3,403
I charged it to 100% and the next day its down to 10%. Is there a better brand than garmin and a better watch than the vivosmart 5?
If you are referring to the WATCH charge (vs the BB)--there might be something wrong with the one you have. My almost two-and-a-half year old Vivosmart 4 stays charged for four days minimum.

Also--I second @hapl808's comment about it taking a week or two to calibrate and be able to measure BB accurately. I just wiped my old Vivosmart and gave it to my healthy 20 year old daughter. Her BB struggled to get over 30 for a week--which was not at all reflective of her reality. But now it shows her going from 100 in the morning to 10 at night and easily back up to 100 overnight. I am guessing this is how normal energy patterns look.

I have not had a "5" but I would think that before you return it (unless you determine that the actual battery is bad) , give it a week of constant wearing to allow it to give you a realistic BB reading. And you can change the watch face --in the set-up there are a number of options to choose from. I have time, BB, actual battery charge, stress, heart rate on mine. Yeah....there is some weather-y bit, but I never look at that.

Now it says my bb is 32 and someone said that if it gets below 30 a crash is coming.
Obviously higher is more desirable, BUT....most of us who use the Garmin have found our own personal range within which we can live (somewhat) comfortably. And it differs. I have a friend for whom a 40 is an absolutely stupendous high. She feels her best and can do more than she can most of the time. For me, 40 is a big flashing red light--I am in trouble. I have learned that I have a 'good' range, a 'manageable' range and a point below which I definitely will be looking at a long crash. But it is not the same as anyone else's.

In addition, I think we see that the lability of the BB is helpful to watch. When you get used to using it, you begin to have some idea of what a particular activity will 'cost.' If showering usually takes 10 points and on a particular day is actually drops you 25, this is an important indicator. Or conversely, if it takes 5, it tells you something else of importance. If I am too low and lie flat with my eyes closed for hours and it doesn't budge--bad news. If it begins to rebound, that is helpful to know. It makes it possible to plan (i.e., in two hours I will be able to go wash the dishes and take my nighttime supplements) and for me, stress a little less.
 

SnappingTurtle

Senior Member
Messages
265
Location
GA, USA
I got my garmin recently and I'm thinking about sending it back. I want it to show hr, body battery, and percent remaining in the watch battery. Instead it shows nonsense like number of steps and something with a rain cloud that I don't need. First thing in the morning before I got up it said I had made 7 steps so I pay no attention to that. It claims I burn 2200 to 2900 calories a day doing almost nothing so that is useless as well. I would be nice and skinny if it were true. Now it says my bb is 32 and someone said that if it gets below 30 a crash is coming.

This is nuts, I haven't done anything all day besides sit here watching the monitor and occasional trips to kitchen and bathroom. My bb was up to 72 and now 32. I think its screwed up, I plan to send it back but I will fiddle with it over the weekend to see what I can do with it

I charged it to 100% and the next day its down to 10%. Is there a better brand than garmin and a better watch than the vivosmart 5?
It sounds like it is not keeping its battery charge. Even if mine is 5 years old and I have o2 constantly neing recorded, it doesn't need recharging until nearly 24 hours have passed. I charge it in the morning when I wake up.
There are custom watch faces that allow you to see the stats you want right on the home screen. I will try to add a link to my post about it.
Steps are estimates based on vibrations and raising your arm. Other watches use similar algorithms, so you might not see any difference in other watches. I think of mine as motion, not steps.
Body battery is artificially high when it is new or, in my case, when it has been off my wrist for 4 or more hours. It estimates your usage during the gap but it is based on healthy persons. I just disregard the next 4 hours. You might wat to search for my posts on this.
However, I would say that in your case I would return that watch: you need something that works reliably for your situation. I have often heard that the chest monitors are most reliable. There is a fb group that maintains a spreadsheet. I believe I also posted about that. Will try to add links later.
Good luck!
 

hapl808

Senior Member
Messages
2,178
I have not had a "5" but I would think that before you return it (unless you determine that the actual battery is bad) , give it a week of constant wearing to allow it to give you a realistic BB reading.

My BB is 5 by the early evening on 50% of my days.

If I don't talk on the phone or use the computer too much for a few days, I can get the BB up to 70 or higher. Conversely, if I talk on the phone at night, there's a good chance my BB will barely go up during sleep. If I have one glass of wine, maybe it goes from 5 to 10 after a full night's sleep.

It's far from perfect and I don't always know what it does or doesn't mean when it doesn't correlate with how I feel, but it certainly seems to be telling something.

And same as others - few years old Vivosmart 4, and I charge it every few days for maybe an hour.
 

Judee

Psalm 46:1-3
Messages
4,535
Location
Great Lakes
I charged it to 100% and the next day its down to 10%. Is there a better brand than garmin and a better watch than the vivosmart 5?
Do you have the pulse ox (?) setting turned on during nighttime sleep?

If so that will take the battery down quickly. It's been a long time since I tried that feature. I can't remember if it dropped the battery charge quite as fast as yours (mine is a Vivosmart 4) but iirc I did have to charge it again in about 2-3 days later because that setting was on. Otherwise I only have to charge the watch I would say maybe once a week.

The other thing that I am just throwing out there for anyone is if you have to take off the watch for a long while say like 5 hours it will mess up the Body Battery reading (different from the watch's actual battery) very badly for a while. I wish it wouldn't do that.

For instance I was close to BB = 5 for several days, had to take the watch off yesterday for a big chunk of a difficult day and when I put it back on I think it said my BB was in the 40s. I don't think so. Smh. So that's one of the frustrations with the watch because it will probably take at least 4 days to reflect reality again.

Otherwise I like having it but have to admit I'm still not great at tracking patterns. That's just me though.
 
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Judee

Psalm 46:1-3
Messages
4,535
Location
Great Lakes
I got my garmin recently and I'm thinking about sending it back. I want it to show hr, body battery, and percent remaining in the watch battery. Instead it shows nonsense like number of steps and something with a rain cloud that I don't need.
Sorry, I'm just reading this thread in ME bite sized piecemeal or I would have answered this in my other post too.
You can turn off the things you don't want to see in the app on your phone.

For instance my "At a Glance" (the home page) just shows HR, BB, Stress, and Sleep because I've turned off the others. If the Vivosmart 5 app home page is the same there is a button under all those that says, "Edit Home" where you can turn off what you don't want to see on the app Home screen.

The widgets display on the watch is also changed in the app. (Again these may differ from your version.)

-More (at the bottom right side of my screen)
-Garmin Devices
-[select the device you're using - Vivosmart 4 (on mine)]
-Appearance
-Widgets (turn off the ones you don't want to see on the watch face)

There also seems to be some other settings on the Appearance page where you can change the things like Watch Face display (like how the time and date display) and what not.

Hope that helps. I was lost when I first got my watch too but that's because I tend to try to start using devices first and figure things out along the way rather than just going by the manual. I'm not sure but think that may be an ADHD trait. ??

Edit: Oh and you can also turn off the app alarms like the relax reminder, get moving reminders, etc. I also got rid of the celebration alarm like when I hit their step goal (stair count too) by making them a ridiculously huge number so I never reached those goals again.

Hope this isn't confusing and helps you or anyone reading this. :)
 
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Messages
71
After using it more I decided to keep the garmin watch. I didn't really see any others I thought I might like better and many of them looked worse. The watch is not especially accurate but it corresponds to some degree to what is going on inside. So if the bb is low we know not to start an activity, or if the pulse goes up along with stress. The calories and minutes low activity, medium and high seem arbitrary. It showed I burned 3500 calories the other day. Must be when I ran that marathon and forgot about it ;)

I had pem yesterday and was puzzled because I hadn't exerted myself any. Also the bb was high enough, stress was low, hr was a little high, not too much. But I had fatigue, no energy and brain did not want to work. No pain but lots of fog. I figured it out that 2 days previously I had a stressful situation and brooded about it later, as is my habit. It was mental or emotional stress that did it, not the usual exertion stress.

I am now strictly pacing myself on mental stress as well as physical. I sometimes remember an injustice from years ago and find myself getting angry. Is this the emotional labile thing? I seem to do that more since cfs. I now, soon as I see I'm getting annoyed with something, anything, I push it out of my mind. It tries to come back and I let it go again and again. Its also good to think about something different. I sort of want to brood a little and perhaps plot revenge but far better to let it go

I've seen a low reading like 12 or lower at end of day but I might be feeling good at the same time which is odd. If I rest before going out to get groceries it seems to help. I took some cumin last night and feel better today
 
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