Measuring stress is important, but “then what”. We need to take actions based on the data. If the stress levels are continuously very high, there is a need to find calming things to life. No matter whether the stress is positive or negative.
The Moodmetric smart ring and app have been on the market since 2015. The app gives a great real time view on the measurement and also allow follow-up as long as the ring has been in use.
The cloud service is now open and gives a great opportunity to even better understand and take actions based on the stress level measurement. Firstly, it enables easy follow-up of the measurement trends. Monthly and weekly views on information, and changes to one´s past data is very important to someone who continuously has high stress levels.
Secondly, the cloud keeps the data safe even if the user´s phone is broken or gets lost.
For corporate customers, it has been important to understand stress on a group level. With the cloud connection, the Moodmetric smart ring will be a thing in the net (IoT) and combining stress data to any other data is very simple. The third and fourth advantage of the web connectivity are the possibility to draw group reports and to easily match Moodmetric with other information.
The cloud service development partner has been Polku Innovations. They have created the service access for both iOS and Android in cooperation with Moodmetric.
The Beta version for the cloud is now open and we invite pilot users to join! At first the system is being tested with Android. The Moodmetric smart ring users can require access codes from [email protected]
The Moodmetric measurement service customers will get the corporate user rights for free until the end of October. Inquiries: [email protected]
You can order the Moodmetric smart ring here. The app for iOS and Android is free, such as the Beta version cloud access.
Polku Innovations is an expert in Smart Building and Wellbeing consepts. They develop related IoT solutions API, ja kehittää niihin liittyviä IoT ratkaisuja, APIs and cloud services applying the latest technology and agile software development. The Polku analytics solutions use machine learning and artificial intelligence.
The Moodmetric cloud service has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund
Pertti Ratilainen has been a mental trainer for top athletes now for ten years. He guides individuals to reach their goals by utilizing their personal strengths and characteristics. Since the beginning of 2017 he has measured himself with the Moodmetric smart ring to better understand his own cognitive load. The Moodmetric measurement has been his tool to help also his customers now for several months.
Interest in the workings of a sportsman´s mind comes from decades of active life. Ratilainen has been a keen ice hockey player and golfer for most part of his life, and since ten years a coach helping the players with the non-physical side of the training.
His customers include as well people from business life. Managers and experts set their targets high but often need to work under pressure, which compares well to top sports.
Golf coaching benefits from the Moodmetric measurement
Together they find ways to help young players to find their own optimal alertness level, and to understand how it affects their results. They have applied both the Moodmetric continuous measurement and the real time stress level observation during the round.
Ratilainen studies the Moodmetric measurement data together with the young players. The target is to see the connection between previous day and sleep, and the play next day. Also they look at immediate effects, as how one bad strike affects the next.
Golf is a very sensitive sports, where the player´s stress level affects the success of the round. High stress level has a negative impact on fine motor skills and the playing easily suffers. The player needs to learn to recover from a bad strike and to relax and focus for the next. Ratilainen reminds, that there is a long time between the holes that players needs to manage with their own, sometimes disturbing, thoughts.
– We have done tests where the player wears the Moodmetric ring, and I follow close by the real-time stress level on a smart phone screen. I see the rising numbers immediately and can intervene. For instance, if I see numbers getting to the red zone, I take the player aside for a moment and discuss to calm the situation. When the person is relaxed enough, the next shot is significantly better.
Taking the stress level into account
Ratilainen considers the alertness / arousal of an athlete crucial when targeting to success. The Moodmetric measurement gives him the needed tool: it shows the level with a practical index from 0 to 100. Low numbers indicate a calm mind, high figures positive or negative stress. Excitement means being extremely alert, and has an impact on a person just as fear or anxiety.
Personality and individual features of people have always interested Ratilainen. He wants to help his customers to better understand the sources of emotional and cognitive load. – For me, a round of golf in a good company always brings the best results. Being in interaction relaxes me. But there are also players who get very distracted of chatting.
High sensitive persons have become an important customer segment for Ratilainen. They are more easily than others affected by their surroundings and people. As they easily gather cognitive and emotional load, it is a continuous task for them to find ways to recover enough and rest their mind.
Ratilainen also wants to point out the changes in our daily environment: – We are not adapted to sit the whole day instead of physical work. We do not realize how much mental load we are getting instead of doing heavy bodily work. Before people went bed in the evening and fell asleep immediately because of physical tiredness. Today we do not know when to rest and how, as the strain is more inside our heads.
Taking care of personal mental wellbeing is the platform for success.
-Optimal performance can only be reached with the right amount of stress and continuously managing the total mental load, sums Pertti Ratilainen up.
Pertti Ratilainen wore the Moodmetric smartring while playing golf this summer. Below the best and worst round shown by the Moodmetric app, considering his own feeling and the result. The measurement data reflects this well: there needs to be a certain level positive stress, but very high levels destroy the game.
“I am so stressed”. You hear this often and you probably say that often. Many times we not stop to reflect, why and for what reasons we are so stressed.
When asked to specify, the list is long: the work, the boss, the colleagues, the partner, kids etc. How stressful each of them are is more difficult to point out. After some years of a very hectic life everything becomes a big clump of worry and pressing thoughts.
With the Moodmetric measurement it is easy to pinpoint what factors in life are the most stressful. The stress level is also given on a scale from 0 to 100. Each day and night is presented with an easily readable chart that shows with red and purple color on a clock face when the stress is the highest.
For myself, there is no doubt of the biggest stress factor in my life: my kids, that I love dearly. Leaving in the morning with the usual mess of lost things, being late etc. is easily the worst part of the day. The next and longer one is putting the kids to sleep. I am lucky not to get overly stressed of the work nor most people near me. This is both my personal feeling and what the Moodmetric data tells me.
One big stress factor in life is usually manageable, especially if one sleeps well. Sleep deprivation makes all the negative things look worse and if one feels burdened, that should be the first thing to correct.
For some of our users the Moodmetric measurement shows clearly that the work is the biggest stressor in life. Running the whole workday on a very high alertness level means cumulating stress weeks and months. Combined with small children and for example an elderly parent to look after, the life can get very complicated. Big changes in life cannot be done over night and of course some things we want to keep regardless of how many grey hairs we get.
The Moodmetric ring and combined app are the simplest tool to manage stress using real time physiological data. The wearer can begin to look at the life as whole and choose one stressor at the time to work with. The measurement shows stress and recovery levels also at sleep and while exercising.
Click here for more information on what the Moodmetric ring measures and what the data tells you.
We had the pleasure of having Janika Haataja from the Institute of Desing and Fine Arts of the Lahti University of Applied Sciences as a trainee in spring 2017.
Janika is a talented young woman with several interesting works already in her portfolio. We had an initial discussion late 2016 about package design for the Moodmetric ring. We soon found out that our ideas for the visual appearance of the product and related material match well and Janika began with the background study soon after.
Janika Haataja is a graduate from Lahti Institute of Design and Fine Arts, packaging design and branding.
“My graduation project was in a collaboration with a Finnish startup company Moodmetric. The design process focused on enhancing brand image through package design. I designed an e-commerce packaging for a smart ring that measures stress levels. The theoretical part of my thesis is based on the research I did on branding and the role of packaging in a brand image. I also studied stress, stress management and smart technology accessories as well as the role of a package in the out-of-box-experience.”
Janika Haataja´s beautiful graduation project can be viewed here.
– My work environment is loud and distracting, I can not concentrate.
– How bad is it on a scale from 1 to 10?
– Let´s get back to this when it is 10.
Sounds familiar? It is difficult to measure or quantify how the work environment affects motivation, creativity and wellbeing at work. How poor should things get before anyone takes action? On an individual level, getting ill might bring short term help. But doctors can do little beyond prescribing medication, sick leave or therapy.
The superior and company management are better set to take concrete steps to improve the work environment. There are atmosphere and wellbeing surveys, and strategy, vision and brainstorming sessions on how to remove obstacles from productive work. List of potential measures is boundless, from green walls to complete restructuring of the physical workplace and possibly also the organization and work itself.
Can you measure how you are doing at work?
Surveys are the most common way to measure emotional and cognitive load. Interviews, questionnaires and pushing smiley buttons are informative, but focus on a specific moment. Accuracy gets better when repeating surveys often, but subjective comment is always limited. It is affected by many things beside the question asked. A person might give a positive answer just because of being on a good mood or wanting to please the reader. A comment might turn negative, not because of the new tech at the meeting room, but because of being envious about the new car of a colleague.
Physiological measurement devices tell about stress and mental load, but different devices are not all fitting well to measure the knowledge worker´s life. Studying the brain activity would require a laboratory setting and thus be very far from the office. Heart rate measurement in various ways best tell about physical load, and with good algorithms also about recovery. The activity trackers do not describe mental load.
The Moodmetric smart ring is well suited to measure emotional and cognitive load. It measures electrodermal activity that is a phenomenon known in psychological research for over hundred years. The measurement results are available real time on a smartphone screen making it possible to follow own reactions in different places and situations.
A day of a knowledge worker consists of meetings, writing, jamming technology, idea creation, solving problems alone and in a group and challenges requiring fast actions. The Moodmetric measurement gives a stress level reading of 0–100 that is comparable between wearers. The data points out what creates the biggest mental workload. High numbers indicate stress or excitement, low numbers tell about winding down.
The measurement data is stored and can be easily shown to an occupational health specialist or worklife coach. It can for example be demonstrated that the Moodmetric level for an oversensitive person working in an open office is constantly at 100. This indicates extreme cognitive load which might have severe consequences when going on for a long time. If people are physically, mentally or emotionally uncomfortable in the office, they are unlikely to be successful or satisfied with their jobs. The employer understanding the importance of workplace wellbeing could in this example react on time and provide the person with a better suited place for work.
People are happier and more productive when they work in an environment that suits them. The issue is how to understand when the person is in an optimal space. Objective measurements should be taken to use by the side of the subjective ones. People need to be given enough power to affect their own work. Office moves and all the related changes must be managed effectively. Remember that all kinds of spaces are not ideal for everyone and leave room for individual solutions after the transition phase.
Moodmetric is involved in several projects to make knowledge work better. Real time measurement data tells without questionnaires, where the mind is at peace.
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?
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?
Try to find out how you can get into the state of flow, and schedule time for those things in your life. For me for example reading a good book, writing or sewing will do the trick.
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
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.
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.