Moodmetric data analytics tool

The Moodmetric data analytics tool is created to support research and development projects related to EDA (electrodermal activity) measurements.

The tool enables researchers and developers to quickly process and visualize large Moodmetric data sets in uniform manner. It generates both group and individual level reports based on input data from wearable devices. The tool is released as open source for anyone to benefit of the Moodmetric measurement data in various use cases.

Download the Moodmetric data visualization tool instruction here.

For more information, contact
Jari Jussila
[email protected]
+358 40 717 8345

High stress levels – then what?

In my previous blog post I promised to write in detail how I dealt with my chronic stress last year. As I told, the turning point was the summer holiday when I started experiencing difficulties in falling asleep.

 

Sleep is the most important part of recovery. I did know that, but one cannot really force herself to sleep and taking sleeping pills was not an option for me. Therefore, I started tackling the stress from another direction.

The very first thing I did was downloading Headspace on my phone. Headspace is an  application using proven meditation and mindfulness techniques to train the mind for a healthier, happier, and more enjoyable life. I had tried Headspace before and was already convinced about its effectiveness. Having also tried other guided mindfulness applications I noticed that the voice matters to me! Andy Puddicombe has a voice that is calming by nature 🙂 Mindfulness is our basic human ability to be fully present, aware of our surroundings, and not being too reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us. According to my Moodmetric levels, mindfulness is low numbers indicating inactive sympathetic nervous system.

However, after trying mindfulness a few times at home during the weekends, I realized it was of no use. It was really difficult to find a nice and quiet place for a meditation exercise. Normally my Moodmetric numbers go down steadily during meditation exercises, but as constantly hearing kids running and screaming upstairs, I could not concentrate. By accident (I got upset for not being able to concentrate and marched out for a walk), I found out that going out for a walk lowered my stress levels more effectively than meditating at home. I continued mindfulness exercises on work days.

Then I gave up on kettlebell exercises for a few months and started going for walks instead. Before, putting my trainers on just to go for a walk, was never really an option. I had this thought that going ‘just’ for a walk was a waste of (sports) time. It started to become clear for me that exercising is a good way to prevent stress, but if you are already overloaded, strenuous exercise only adds up to high stress levels.

Working less during the evenings was an obvious move of course. However, not always being able to refrain from work, I started studying how different kind of work tasks affected my stress levels. Quite soon I noticed that writing e-mails raised my stress levels easily. On the other hand, design or creative work without time pressure kept my stress levels down. As I talked about this with our CEO she had experienced the opposite – going through e-mail was less stressful for her than any kind of creative work. This is a good reminder of how we are all individuals and should find out ourselves what are the causes of stress and sources of recovery.

Also, working remotely from home helped me to keep stress levels moderate (the kids being at daycare, of course). This is probably explained by the fact that I could solely concentrate on my work without unexpected social interruptions.  

In addition, I adjusted my diet a bit. From my previous experience I had noticed that cutting down carbs and sugar kept me steadily energetic. I also started taking vitamin and mineral supplements: D3, B12, magnesium citrate and zinc to fight the stress and help the immune system.  

In October, I started seeing clear results with my stress levels. The change had happened in my mind as well – the future seemed brighter again, less worrying thoughts and more feelings of accomplishment. I was able to concentrate better, which had a clear correlation with getting more work done. All this change in my thoughts even though nothing else had changed in my surroundings. Also no difficulties in falling asleep anymore.  

Mindfulness was probably the most effective action on my way to a less-stress life. Even though I wasn’t doing the exercises for more than two or three times a week, I felt that it helped me the most. According to studies, it takes 8 weeks to get results. In that sense, I would recommend trying mindfulness even if one can not commit to the exercises every day.

One might wonder why the actions I took seem so systematic and straightforward. Is managing stress really that simple? Yes and no.  

Knowledge work productivity and wellbeing have been my area of interest for a long time. I have acquired decent theoretical knowledge of the substance through my work as a researcher, so in that sense I was well aware how to tackle chronic stress as a knowledge worker. In general, the internet is loaded with tips and guidance towards stress free life.

However, effective stress management requires lifestyle and behavioral changes. It is easy to try something for a few times, but the hard part is adopting a lasting routine. I get my motivation to take action by looking at my stress levels on the Moodmetric app.  

The idea behind Moodmetric is that everyone should find out what are their individual sources of stress and recovery. What works for me, might not work for you. The Moodmetric ring is an excellent tool to find that out.

Electrodermal activity measured by the Moodmetric ring

Electrodermal activity

With any sympathetic nervous system activation, skin reacts and becomes a better conductor of electricity. This can result from emotional, cognitive or other psychological origin. The phenomenon is known as electrodermal activity (EDA) and it is widely adopted in psychological research (1). Other commonly used terms for this phenomenon are skin conductance response and galvanic skin response.

EDA is generated by the activity of the sweat glands.  Moodmetric measures the palmar skin on your finger. The palmar skin is the recommended EDA measurement location, since it has the highest eccrine sweat gland density (2). You can measure EDA elsewhere as well but the reliability is not as high or as easily achieved.

The unconscious actions of the human body are regulated by the autonomic nervous system. It consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic part. The parasympathetic part controls the body’s rest-and-digest functions and the sympathetic part controls the fight-or-flight reactions. By examining electrodermal activity we can understand the sympathetic nervous system reactions.

The sweat glands are exclusively innervated by the sympathetic nervous system. This makes EDA an ideal measure for sympathetic activation (2). Electrodermal activity correlates to cognitive and emotional arousal, and high responses are caused by e.g. stress, enthusiasm, anxiety, joy, anger (1, 3).

Mobile EDA devices have been used by scientists for some time (2, 4). The Moodmetric ring is an unobtrusive option to follow EDA responses real-time and in long term.

Signal accuracy

The signal accuracy has been proven in a study of 24 people by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health by J. Torniainen et al.. The accuracy against a laboratory grade reference was found to be 83 %. They conclude:

“Clearly the ring sensor can be used to measure a valid EDA signal as indicated by the similarity of both event-related responses and the calculated features. The accuracy of the Moodmetric EDA Ring is adequate for psychological and physiological research when weighted against the advantage of conducting ecologically valid experiments outside laboratory conditions.”

The results were accepted for publication in the 2015 conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC 2015, August 25-29).

Link to the article

The Moodmetric measurement accuracy has also been studied at the University of Tampere, Finland in 2014. The correlation with the reference equipment Nexus-10-MK II was good. Comparison details in charts below.

With skin conductance level (SCL) we refer here to raw measured skin conductance without any filtering. The figures below show the comparison of the two devices. 

Further reading in an article by Jari Torniainen and Benjamin Cowley, published in August 2016:

A short review and primer on electrodermal activity in human computer interaction applications

References

1 Mendes, W.B. (2009). Assessing the autonomic nervous system. In: Harmon-Jones   E. ja Beer J.S. Methods in social neuroscience. New York: Guilford Press. p. 118-147.

2 Setz C., Arnrich B., Schumm J. and La R. (2010) Discriminating Stress From Cognitive Load Using a Wearable EDA Device. IEEE Trans. Inf. Technol. Biomed. 14(2). p. 410-417.

3 Nikula R. (1991) Psychological correlates of nonspecific skin conductance responses. Psychophysiology. 28(1). p.86-90.

4 Poh M.Z, Swenson N.C. and Picard R.W. (2010) A Wearable Sensor for Unobtrusive, Long-Term Assessment of Electrodermal Activity. IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng. 57(4). p. 1243-1252.

 

 

How can Moodmetric help an ambitious achiever?

Are you, or would you like to be a high achiever? Do you have the emotional power to handle it?

Some high achievers are always in pursuit of perfection. They are driven by an inner voice that is never content with their achievements. No matter how good are the accomplishments looking from outside, in the inside the person never feels good enough. There would always be room to improve, and more to do. Self-criticism is at maximum. Showing weakness is not an option. The pursuit of perfection is emotionally consuming. The tiredness is sometimes overwhelming, worsened by the disappointment in self, and others.

People in healthier pursuit of excellence are high achievers, whose inner voice is their genuine self. They have a  strong desire to accomplish something important, and gain gratification from success in demanding tasks. Their approach to good achievements contains more empathy, towards themselves and people around them.

They are self-assured but not self-centric. They are able to ask advice when needed, and understand the power of working together. Still, achieving much is a tough task and sometimes they can be on the edge emotionally.

The both types have one problem in common – how to tell when too much stress is going to make the path of productivity too rough?

Moodmetric services are aimed at high performing individuals, who want to optimize the use of their emotional capacity. Persons demanding a lot from themselves want to know where their personal limits are. How much more can I do and achieve, before the stress turns against me? The Moodmetric ring is a simple tool to measure long term data about how emotional load is affecting the wearers’ sympathetic nervous system. The trends are visible in a simple to read index, which shows the emotional load day-to-day.

The Moodmetric app also includes real-time follow-up on stress levels. This gives an instant view to reactions and stress amount during the day. A simple guidance teaches the wearers to understand their data in the daily context.
Moodmetric helps the wearer to understand the emotional boundaries. The Moodmetric ring and app are a very special and personal tool in building the optimal performance.

 

Would you like to get all the Moodmetric news? Click here to sign up on our Newsletter!

 

New technology for workplace wellness

Meditating business partners

Emotional health as a part of workplace wellness programs has begun to enter organizations. Active tracking and measuring are also new to employee health. Moodmetric combines all this and brings emotion measurement to the office.

The Moodmetric technology is based on measuring small conductivity changes in skin which tell about emotional reactions. A smartphone app gives you both live data and long term trends. Moodmetric helps to manage stress by identifying high and low activity of mind during the day.

Moodmetric provides a simple and nonintrusive way to measure emotional load at work. It also supports in meditation and mindfulness exercises.

 

Examples for workplace

Below are examples on how you can support emotional well-being at work with Moodmetric measurement. You can enhance your wellness program by adding this new component to it – work together with your employee health partner to create the best program for you.

Measuring emotional wellbeing

Using the Moodmetric ring for 2-4 weeks gives a good picture of emotional load and how it is distributed over workdays. Stressful meetings, and calm periods of the days are well visible. The daily average figure shows if there is a shift towards higher or lower emotional levels during the measurement period. Analyzing the results together with a coach or a psychologist helps to better understand the current state of mind at work.

Stress management training programme

Are you already aware that you experience a heavy emotional load? You can wear the Moodmetric ring at work for 1-2 weeks and meet with you coach once a week. An individual programme can be drawn based on measurement results. It can combine mindfulness and breathing exercises, small breaks outside – all during the working day. A second sequence of the Moodmetric measurement can be done in one to two months.

Measuring mindfulness or meditation

The Moodmetric app contains an exercise to measure calmness of mind. A clear curve is drawn during meditation showing how well the focus is kept. This is a great tool to take a measured break, even for 10 minutes during the day. Any disturbing thought declines the performance, so the result motivates to really clear the mind. If you are new to meditation or mindfulness, it is good to start with a guided exercise.

Specifications

– Battery life: ~40 hours
– Charging time: 1,5 hours
– Memory: 270 hours
– Bluetooth range: 5 meters
– Compatibility: iOS – (iPhone 4S or newer, iPads using bluetooth4)

 

 

Summer reading

IMG_3535 edit

Things seem to be so much brighter without the everyday  lurch in the stomach when the alarm clock goes off. Morning coffee without hurry, sun and laziness ahead for the day.. Yet this perfect battery charging is only allowed in limited doses for the most of us.

The work, studies, school – they will begin. La rentrée – the return, has an effect on each one of us. But how big and what kind?

The children get to buy new things for school and meet again with the friends. Most of them really enjoy the start of their duties. The adults mostly seem to stress about it all: the autumn hits with dozens of things and tasks, the work being only part of the palette.

Would you like to measure the effect? To know exactly how much does your stress and anxiety increase when starting the engines again? The summer reading (not meaning the pick of holiday novels) has been low, your mind has been calm.

The emotional level reading is about get higher during the autumn. For many people the change is not significant, but the numbers might increase alarmingly.

The Moodmetric smart ring measures your stress levels from the changes in the skin conductance. Find out more from our blog, and inquire about pre-ordering at [email protected].

IMG_3546 edit

 

Measuring Workplace Well-being

Moodmetric18294

Is measuring workplace well-being a plot by the employer? Can the employee benefit of it? What is worth tracking and what do the results tell? If I take 10000 steps per day, sleep 8 hours per night and eat healthy meals at regular intervals, will I sell more cars than my colleague car salesman?

At the end of the day the person with better sales skills might still get bigger bonuses. On the other hand, I might feel better and spend less days off sick. I might even feel energetic despite hectic workdays and take setbacks like loosing a deal lighter.

Should workplace measuring only take place in the workplace?

Activity trackers and other wearables are already part of our lives. They were initially intended for personal use with goals set by the wearer. A sleep monitor can hardly be a tracker used in workplace and collecting thousands of steps in the office is only possible with the running mat under the desk.

These devices can be used to monitor general well-being and they can potentially give valuable information. They can also contribute to better work performance if the person is a motivated wearer. Someone else (the boss) reading the results might still not have the full picture. Only the measured person can put the results into context and know if today is a good day to make great results.

Pulse, heart rate variability, electrodermal activity (EDA) /skin conductance and EEG measurements can be done at the office, while sitting down. Heart rate signal however needs processing before it tells about stress levels. EDA and EEG give instant emotional load results which are not tied to physical reactions. EDA is best measured from palmar skin, EEG requires a headband with at minimum three contact points to forehead.

The workplace well-being measurement might be best done in the workplace and only if the employee thinks it is a good idea. Tracking outside the office could be part of a wellness program with limited length, on a voluntary basis.

Having the employer know when I go to sleep or how many times I was waked up by my kids – maybe not. But being able to show which meetings are the most stressful or how calming it is to take a 5 min walking break outside, why not!