If you have a smart watch like a Fitbit or an Apple Watch, you’ll often find that you’re acutely aware of how your body is performing at any given time. Whether you’re being told about live environments or increasing heart rate, these little gadgets are handy for staying on top of wellbeing.
However, one Reddit user took this a little further. Posting on the popular subreddit dedicated to visual data, “dataisbeautiful”, the user shared a graph of their heart rate, as recorded on their Fitbit of their heart rate throughout the conversation and immediate aftermath of their wife asking for a divorce.
Admitting that they only ever take off their watch to shower, the user was able to share everything from their resting beats per minute (BPM) right to the moment their wife asked for a divorce.
The story told by heart rate
The user admitted in the comments that the couple had been having issues for a while and had even been for counselling together earlier that day so while they weren’t exactly blindsided by the news, their heart rate suggests that maybe they weren’t quite expecting it, either.
The graph starts with their resting heart rate and rises slightly at the phrase, “can we talk?” followed by a significant rise at the words, “I don’t think this is healthy for either of us”.
The user admitted in comments that at this point, they were having a panic attack but they’re not sure how accurate the data is for it because the watches aren’t medical devices.
Finally, once they went for a walk, you see their heart rate start to slow down gradually.
One user commented, “As a data scientist myself, I wish to salute you, good sir. Dedication is reliving a difficult time, in pursuit of what kind of neat shit you can pull out of the numbers.”
As another user said, “How can you mend a broken heart? Not sure, but you can sure document one.”
Why does heart rate rise during stressful situations?
Heart rate rises when we get bad news or find ourselves in stressful situations because our body has entered fight-or-flight mode. According to Psychology Tools, this is, “an automatic physiological reaction to an event that is perceived as stressful or frightening.”
“The perception of threat activates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers an acute stress response that prepares the body to fight or flee.”
Basically, it’s your body trying to prepare and protect you but of course, it’s not always helpful when you’re trying to have an important conversation. The NHS recommends that if you find your heart rate increasing when stressed, you try these breathing exercises:
Make yourself as comfortable as you can. If you can, loosen any clothes that restrict your breathing.
If you’re lying down, place your arms a little bit away from your sides, with the palms up. Let your legs be straight, or bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor.
If you’re sitting, place your arms on the chair arms.
If you’re sitting or standing, place both feet flat on the ground. Whatever position you’re in, place your feet roughly hip-width apart.
Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first.
Then let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again, if you find this helpful.
Keep doing this for at least 5 minutes.