Perception vs Reality

When it comes to stress, is what we think the same as what we experience?

BIOStress Dashboard
Tim Wade - CEO Biostress

Tim Wade

CEO & Co-Founder

Since launching BIOStress, we have monitored the stress levels of thousands of people across five countries, and there is one consistent finding: Perception is not reality.

As April is officially Stress Awareness Month, we want to help increase awareness and understanding of stress. And this means understanding both perception and reality.

Stress Awareness – Perception (psychology)

Stress is usually measured by asking people about their stress levels – this is a great way to understand people’s perception of stress. But perception is only one part of the stress awareness puzzle and even perception differs depending on how far back we ask people to reflect on their stress levels. For example, when we ask people to reflect on the previous month, the perceived stress level is much higher than if we ask people to reflect on their day. This would indicate that long-term reflection amplifies stress perception compared to shorter time frames.

Stress Awareness – Physiology

The objective part of the stress awareness puzzle is your physiological stress response. When is your body under stress? We measure this using advanced wearables that capture key biometric signals that we combine in our world-leading algorithm. We almost always see that the physiological stress response does not align with the perception of stress. When and where people think they are stressed is often at odds with the physiological reality.

Take our work with Bupa monitoring employees in their call centres. We measured very high levels of perceived stress but relatively low levels of physiological stress. And, while most people believed they were more stressed at work, in fact, 70% of people were actually more stressed at home.

To help people better understand and manage stress we must determine both perception and reality. Both are equally important to understand because, without them, you will always be missing a critical part of the stress puzzle.