I’ve done a pretty good job at learning to manage stress. Mostly, I’ve just learned how to decipher what is important to stress over and what is insignificant in the grand scheme of things (i.e. most of the little things I used to stress over). But after volunteering myself to Secret Deodorant for scientific research, I learned a very interesting thing about my stress levels: My body is still freaking out, even when mentally, I’ve learned to ignore it.
The scientists at Procter & Gamble created the new Secret Clinical Strength Stress Response antiperspirant with something called “adapts and responds technology,” which reacts to the changes your body experiences throughout the day, causing your sweat response to spike when you feel stress. This feature is based on research that revealed that our bodies change way more throughout the day than we think, resulting in hundreds — 500 at least — of ups and downs. With those ups and downs come spurts of dry times and sweaty times; through it all, our skin sweat response changes frequently, along with our heart rate and skin temperature.
To demonstrate how this works, the Secret folks teamed up with research firm Innerscope Research to hook up 80 women to health-tracking wearable devices for a day. With my heart rate wristband, sweat response arm band, and finger temperature monitor all set up, I went about my day as usual, working, socializing, answering emails, and chatting online with co-workers and friends.
“Your body changes a whole lot more than you might know or anticipate. And your body doesn’t lie,” Secret R&D Scientist Kati Bakes explained to me, when I noticed that although my self-reported mood was “indifferent” most of the day (it was a particularly boring day, what can I say?), my body was going through a ton of changes — around 1,400 actually. My vitals made it seem like my day was hectic, and that I was experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the day, with spikes of stressful moments. But I really didn’t feel stressed at any point.
“In general, when you’re stressed, a couple things can happen,” Bakes continued. Heart rate increases, sweat response increases, and skin temperature can decrease “because your blood is going to your vital organs.” That’s why when you’re scared, your hands probably tend to get cold and clammy. And while preparing for a big meeting with your boss or to walk down the aisle at your wedding are the major stressful events, our bodies respond constantly to the smaller events, too. “Not just sad events, but happy events can trigger changes in your body and changes in your sweat and body chemistry,” Bakes said. I certainly didn’t realize it until I strapped on some wearable tech and saw the stats.
There wasn’t a scientific conclusion to tell me that the reason my body chemistry fluctuates is because I subconciously ignore the least dire stressors. However, there have been studies on how addicted to stress humans can be. As a society (and especially as a big city dweller), it can feel like we need a certain amount of stress as a baseline. It makes sense that mentally, our threshold might be a little higher than it should be.
Yet, a Bakes said, our bodies don’t lie. Stress can affect everything from your heart health, to your skin (hello, zits), and even your metabolism. Being more in-tune with your body is important to make sure you’re at a healthy level. Pay attention to your phsyiological changes througout the day — if you feel your heart rate racing, or sweat ramping up, it might be time to go for a quick stroll outside to decompress.
Why Stress Stinks (Literally)
How to Know if You’re a Stress Addict
Is Stress Sabotaging Your Beauty?