How Technology Can Make Stress-Relief More Accessible in the Near Future

27 Jun 2024

As stress increasingly contributes to heart diseases and, consequently, mortality, well-being practices become more important. Massage is one of the most effective ones. However, not everyone across the world has access to it. How to address this gap and lower stress levels? The answer is obvious: create and use technologies.

Human Death Factor

According to the latest available data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the top two causes of mortality worldwide are stroke and ischemic heart disease. Moreover, the National Centre for Health Statistics of CDS (Centers for Disease and Prevention) which indicates the mortality index in the US confirms states that heart disease is the number one cause of death with about 700,000 cases per year.

One of the general reasons for cardiovascular diseases and strokes is stress. The work of Andrew Steptoe and Mika Kivimäki, "Stress and Cardiovascular Disease," among others, confirms that, indicating that chronic stress predicts the occurrence of coronary heart disease (CHD). Moreover, short-term emotional stress can act as a trigger for cardiac events among those with advanced atherosclerosis.

Among those at greater risk are people who experience work-related stress. This correlation is shown in the latest research by the Health and Safety Executive. According to this data, 875,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression, or anxiety (new or long-standing cases) in 2022 and 2023.

Human Life Factor

Fortunately, there are techniques to decrease stress levels. Breathing exercises, laughter, helpful thinking, mindfulness, and social activities, as mentioned in the Human Resources Datasheet of the University of Michigan, are among them. Additionally, the WHO recommends maintaining a daily routine, connecting with others, ensuring quality sleep, paying attention to nutrition, and engaging in regular physical exercise.

Montana State University provides a more precise explanation of the biological mechanisms behind stress reduction through exercise and other wellness practices. They reduce adrenaline and cortisol, two stress hormones. To maintain cortisol within the norm, scholars advise monitoring caffeine and alcohol as both can increase cortisol. Time management and maintaining work-life balance can also contribute to mental well-being.

Body treatments and massages also play a role as anti-stress techniques. This is confirmed in the case study "Physiological Adjustments to Stress Measures Following Massage Therapy: A Review of the Literature" by Albert Moraska and his partners from various health institutions across the US. A study by the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine further reveals that massages can reduce cortisol by an average of 31% in a single session. It also improves sleep quality and lowers heart rate and blood pressure, thereby mitigating risks associated with cardiovascular disease.

Massage to Masses

However, not everyone can access body therapy and massage. Common barriers include a lack of available or efficient massage therapists and their limited working hours. This means that when you need a session after long hours at work, you may have to wait until a suitable hour.

Costs also play a role, with one session averaging up to $100. It's not surprising that human performance comes at a high price in today's world. Imagine going to a theater with only one visitor - you. It would be expensive. However, when you're among many, economic dynamics allow services to be more accessible and affordable.

Technologies offer a liberating solution. They have already changed numerous industries. Consider the field of education: digital platforms enable students from around the globe to participate in the same programs for much less money than traditional institutions offer. You can now access information from Cambridge in your hometown while having a bath.

In the realm of body therapy and massage, we see a similar shift. While tech solutions may not entirely replace massage specialists they can help bridge existing gaps in labor and lower therapy costs in the future. Some solutions transform Tui Na, a form of traditional Chinese medicine bodywork similar to deep tissue massage. They use sensors to pinpoint pressure points and deliver customized massages. Other devices available on the market are designed for home use with various attachments for different massage experiences.

The success of robotic solutions is foreseeable, given the widespread use of robotic and AI-driven technologies in healthcare. In 2022, the global artificial intelligence in the healthcare market reached around $15.1 billion, with projections expecting a surge to approximately $187.95 billion by 2030, boasting an impressive growth rate of 37% from 2022 to 2030. North America’s AI in the healthcare market alone reached $6.8 billion in 2022. The market for AI in robotics is expected to grow even faster, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.2% over the next five years.