Device Helps You Relax With Slow Breathing

Feb. 24, 2006 — -- Sometimes when you get stressed about something, people tell you to take a deep breath. Well, how deep should the breath be and how many do you need? A new device called the StressEraser helps you figure that out.

The way StressEraser works is that you place your fingertip on its sensor, which takes your pulse rate and displays it on the screen in a wave form. Then the screen provides your breathing cues -- you inhale each time a triangle appears and then exhale as you silently count. As you slow down and lengthen your breathing, the triangles are spaced further and further apart. When you're starting to relax, three dots appear on the screen. At 30 dots, you're done.

"Every time you get a three-dot wave, for that one moment, the nerves that cause stress have stopped," said Michael Wood, who invented StressEraser. "So if you get five to 15 minutes of those waves, you have gotten a full break from stress."

Wood invented StressEraser when he was trying to alleviate his own stress four years ago. Managing 100 employees and traveling all over the world on business caused him to become frighteningly thin and his blood pressure to rise. When therapy, yoga and pills failed to help, he knew he had to come up with something else.

"I discovered there is a perfect window of breathing, but it can be hard to find without expensive biofeedback equipment. That's what I've done, is take that equipment and put in a small form. I hope it helps people."

"Good Morning America" asked Carrie Boyd, a very stressed-out mom in Atlanta, to try this device, which has not been scientifically proven to work. Boyd's husband travels for his job five days a week, leaving her alone to care for their three young children.

Boyd said she loved the StressEraser and would recommend it.

"When I first got it, I thought, how is this little device the size of a deck of cards going to relax me?" she said. "And it has taught me to meditate. It's amazing. It really is."

Wood said he had surveyed 85 highly stressed individuals who used StressEraser and asked them whether they had experienced any drawbacks. The No. 1 response he said was falling asleep at inappropriate times. Boyd said that happened to her, too, with her baby right in front of her!

"Just for five minutes, you know, but it actually put me to sleep," she said. "And the kids were sleeping and I thought, 'Oh my gosh, how did that happen?'"

Wood said he knew one man who fell asleep at work and missed a meeting.

"So he sets an alarm clock when he uses his StressEraser now," he said.

But StressEraser makes you feel relaxed, not groggy, Boyd said.

"It's just fantastic," she said. "You feel so relaxed and yet so focused."