My discovery: I am more stressed at home than at work

Guest post by @amyskogberg

Surely I have read about studies saying that women’s stress levels rise when they go home after work to take on the household work, but I didn’t think it concerned me. My work is quite demanding and involves constant change, high tempo and big variation in work tasks, and therefore I have always thought that the greatest stress hits me at work and not at home.

However, now I am proven the opposite, after testing the Moodmetric ring for two weeks.

The Finnish Moodmetric ring tracks your stress levels. By sensoring the skin conductance, the ring measures the body’s ability to conduct electricity – when you stress, your sweat glands activate and your skin conducts more electricity.

The user downloads the data to the Moodmetric app and gets an overview of how the stress levels have fluctuated during the day. This was really interesting to follow!

During the two weeks I made three fascinating observations. The first was that my stress levels reached the highest peak as I entered home. And I do understand why. “Hi mom, nice to have you home, I have a math test tomorrow and I need your help”. “Hi mom, good that you’re home, this form needs to be filled in, and I was supposed to return it already yesterday”. “Hello dear, so nice to have you home, I’m starving..!”

The second observation was that my stress levels were the lowest every time I reached the so called flow state. When fully concentrated on my work, the stress levels sank significantly.

This is in line with what research has concluded about physiological reactions during the flow state; breathing becomes slower and deeper and resembles a meditating person’s breathing.

The third insight was about recovery.

The ring cannot differentiate between positive and negative stress, because the body reacts equally when engaged or eager as when stressed or worried. Regardless, the body still needs to recover.

I am lucky to be able to sleep well, so I usually get enough rest through sleep. However, there were also days when I did not get my stress and recovery in balance. I realized that I need to be aware of this and pay attention to getting enough recovery, for example through meditation or mindfulness exercises to unwind after an intense day.

So what can we learn from this?

  1. It is really important to learn to know your own sources of stress. What causes the most stress in your life? Can you avoid or change those situations? Maybe ask the children to wait for half an hour after you come home before responding to their wishes so that you can relax with a cup of coffee and the daily newspaper?
  2. Try to find out how you can get into the state of flowand schedule time for those things in your life. For me for example reading a good book, writing or sewing will do the trick.
  3. Make sure you get enough recovery. Stress is not dangerous if you make sure you rest well. If you go into overdrive at times, even if it feels good, you have to unwind afterwards. Otherwise positive stress may develop into negative stress.

The first step to reducing and preventing harmful stress is to understand the mechanisms, both internal and external, that trigger your stress reactions. For this, I highly recommend the Moodmetric ring. It is a simple and well-functioning way to learn more about what causes stress in your life.

Some examples of my Moodmetric data: On the left is the diagram of a day when I wrote content for a marketing campaign in a flow state.  On the right a day when I was being creative and had my head full of ideas.

 

Amy Skogberg is a mental trainer, motivational speaker and marketing manager

Read the original blog post in Swedish here