We truly wish you were able to enjoy stress free holidays. Looking at the selection of photos shared by friends, many did. If you post a photo clearly lying in a hammock at some exotic destination, it is the pure peace that the viewers expect you are experiencing.
But, the whole family with a flu for a week should entitle you for an additional recovery holiday before getting back to the office. As if it could happen!
Getting rid of everything and flying somewhere far is not always an option. The daily stress seems to be present both at work and at home and what good can the new year bring? Giving some thought on the year passed might just make you sigh – it is the same thing, same routines over and over again, what is there to expect, what moments to cherish later on?
The simple answer is that you most often find the best things very near you. The thing being a moment when things are just perfect, the greatest cup of coffee, or a very pretty pebble you found at the park.
It is important to keep in mind that your nervous system is at rest when you feel at peace. This is when your body recovers and is better able to face the inevitable challenges the coming days will bring. The days will bring you so many good things as well. Among the good things will be the moments that have a stamp on them ‘Take a break now, stick to the present’. Take a notice of them. If you add a good night´s sleep to each of your 24 hours, you are well equipped for the 2017!
I have used Moodmetric ring on a regular basis for almost two years now.
When I first got to know Moodmetric, my life was not terribly hectic, I did not feel to be particularly stressed. I did not check my stress levels from the Moodmetric app continuously, as there was not much change – figures were quite low, nothing to be alarmed of.
Until last January.
It was already during Christmas break, when I started to notice the first signs. The feeling of hopelessness and a hint of bitterness had started slowly fester inside me. Two and a half years of burdening family life with extreme efficiency had resulted in complete loss of energy. Our family size had undergone significant change few years back, as the number of our kids went from one to three at once. Without a proper safety net, my husband and I had worked like machines to take care of our family. After 2,5 yrs. we were both exhausted and the only thing keeping us sane was being able to go to work to our paid jobs. Yes, it is a bit twisted, that you go to work to recover from family life.
At work my colleagues would have their daily laughs, because I started forgetting things. I would even go to a meeting and be very impressed by a work very nicely done just to hear that I had been part of it. Memory problems showed up.
By the end of January I noticed that I couldn’t pull through my regular kettlebell exercises anymore let alone improving the performance. I was just tired. I wanted to exercise, but I was too tired to get to it.
Then I got my first flu. And a second flu. And a third flu. Soon I noticed that I was the only one in our family getting sick all the time. (By the end of July I had been ill almost ten times.) My immune system had failed me.
In March I decided to take a personal risk as I threw in my lot with the Moodmetric team. I became a co-owner in the company. Becoming an entrepreneur was something I had always dreamt of, but I had little doubts about the timing. It was a great move for me, but I knew that the positive stress – excitement – could be a challenging combination with the cumulated stress from the family circus. Would I be able to unwind from all the positive stress ahead me?
In April it became obvious to me that my overall stress levels were higher than usual. Wearing the Moodmetric ring, I had data to back this up – I could witness the change in figures from the app. I was alerted, but not afraid, because I am a very good sleeper and felt that I got the recovery I need. In overall I was optimistic about the future.
The spring 2016 and early summer were hectic and exciting. We were rewriting the company vision and strategy, and talking to loads of people with to get feedback. What we heard was so supporting that at times I couldn’t restrain myself from working unreasonable hours. On the other hand, I had started to question my work performance and felt like I was not working enough. I knew I had gone into overdrive a big time, but was hoping that I could make it to my summer vacation.
When July and summer vacation started,I breathed freely again – I had made it to the safety zone and now I could unwind and recover!
Only, that feeling lasted for a short moment, because sleep disorders kicked in. I started having problems with falling asleep and my heart would race for anxiety. Bedtime became one of my least favorite time of the day, because I was afraid I couldn’t fall asleep.
Needless to say, summer vacation came in too late. I had neglected my recovery and crossed the line that I didn’t wish to. I am well aware that one shouldn’t play with sleep disorders. My Moodmetric daily diagrams were screaming red. That is when I decided to start adding more unwinding moments to my everyday life and not just wait for the next vacation. I did not want to welcome chronic stress into my life.
In short, the lifestyle and behavior changes I adopted are mindfulness exercises, less heavy exercise and replacing with long walks, adding micronutrients, prioritizing sleep, etc. I will write down how I tackled chronic stress in very much detail in my next blog, due out soon!
I’ve been with Moodmetric for three months now. I asked to join the Moodmetric team after having conducted research for over a year with the Moodmetric ring in the field of knowledge work productivity and wellbeing. Abandoned my half completed doctoral thesis, declined a job offering in an organization where I had dreamed to work some day and jumped into startup adventure that has no guarantee of a happy ending.
I have worn the Moodmetric ring on a regular basis ever since I put the ring on in January 2015. Not wearing the ring makes me uneasy. I guess one could say it was love at first sight.
The Moodmetric ring is the smallest biosensor measuring the reactions of the sympathetic nervous system. It gives real time data how the wearer’s stress levels fluctuate. The sympathetic nervous system activates when we experience stress in our everyday life. Chronic stress is a severe health risk and can lead to both physical and psychological health issues. With stress affecting our behavior, thoughts and feelings and ultimately our health, Moodmetric helps to detect stress and learn to unwind when necessary.
This is exactly what I need Moodmetric for – to know how my body is adjusting to the changes in my life. I am a person who gets excited very easy and love to have a lot going on. Getting things done just purely makes me happy. At times, I find myself having too much to get done in too little time and stress gets overwhelmingly vicious. However, my body (nor yours either) does not differentiate on good or bad stress. The sympathetic nervous system may be up and running high for pure excitement, but without proper recovery also good stress may turn against me.
Moodmetric provides me an independent assessment on the sustainability of my actions. I have learned from my previous experiences that the more prolonged stress I undergo, the less enlightened estimates I make on my health. ‘I can’t give up now, because others seem to be working even harder than I am’, ‘This has to be done now, or I will lose this opportunity’, ‘I am not progressing, because I have not worked hard enough’. That is stress skewing my thoughts.
The Moodmetric helps me to slow down if my thoughts, affected by stress, try to drive me to accomplishments that are beyond my resources. Needless to say, there’s not much to accomplish with a broken body.
As I have talked about Moodmetric with a lot of people, it is not always love at first sight. To be honest, Moodmetric is a fright to some high achievers – ‘The last thing I need right now is to know how stressed I am!’. I assume these people believe that ignoring stress makes it less harmful. I am left pondering do we need to lose our health before we take action?
–Digital systems are not designed to consider emotions. As a result, the tools we have for expressing our emotions online are severely lacking in quality. This in turn inhibits empathy, the mechanisms that allow people to understand each other, connect and collaborate.
The research team including Katri Saarikivi, Tommi Makkonen and Valtteri Wikström have a huge task in front of them. Part of their project is to include others with events like the Emotion Hack Day, that Moodmetric was also invited to participate.
The event took place simultaneously in Helsinki and Montreal, and gathered talented people from all work backgrounds to spend 24 hours to generate ideas around digitalizing emotions.
Moodmetric sponsored the event with the Moodmetric rings and SDKs for teams interested in using GSR in their project:
‘It is always fun to work with a new wearable technology and think of how it can be leveraged in every day life. Also, working with a company that takes pride in making the data interface easy to work with is refreshing, since it allows us to focus on the creative aspects, instead of the device interface.’ -André
The submissions are one step towards online presence – with emotions.
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.
In the middle of the best flu season many of us go to work feeling ill. It might be that the thermometer does not indicate fever, or even when it does, the obligations seem unavoidable.
The Moodmetric Ring is a sensor of GSR (galvanic skin response – or skin conductivity). It gives an interesting additional insight to measuring illness. GSR tells about emotional intensity level, the fight or flight reaction. The something you´d need to fight against, might also come from inside of you. When you are ill, the Moodmetric index gives a higher score than you usually get, even if you stay in bed. If you try to work, even just sitting at your laptop, the figures can be really high.
One of our customers sent us the below picture: She was ill, no fever but the general feeling of profound tiredness, head and muscle ache. She had the chance to stay at home and lie on the couch for the day. Still the MoodFlower looks like having been in hectic meetings for the whole day.
The next day for her was like this:
She felt better and was doing some light work like proof reading. With higher figures only between 9-10am, the day is seemingly calmer. Staying home for two days was a good decision, on Thursday she was back at the office energetic as ever.
GSR can be an indicator of both an acute pain, or an illness that is not so clear to describe. Self-awareness plays a big role in getting cured faster. Am I fit to work already today? The Moodmetric Ring can support in acknowledging that now it is best for me to take it easy.
Before Christmas, I took part in research where I read news and my emotional state was monitored via Moodmetric. Thus, it was rather classical in the field-study, trying to validate if the technology and data analysis strategy can be used outside laboratories too. I’m waiting to hear the results, the challenge with psychophysiological measurements is noisiness, and doing the measurements when I’m under blanket or riding the bus should just generate more noise. But science aside, let’s speak my experience.
Once monitored, humans are often more conscious about their activities. I know this as the new effect but different fields approach this naturally using their own terminology for this well phenomena. What this meant for me was a rather weird experience of higher than normal ambiguity or unsureness about my own feelings. First, the need to label my emotions as well as being measured on those might have lead to social conformity; the need to report and feel the experiences one might experience.
More interestingly, towards the end I had difficulty to acknowledge my emotions. Naturally, Finnish news might not be the most interesting and emotion triggering material out there, but I think it wasn’t just about this. Instead, I believe that the knowledge of “scientific” measurements and my trust towards technology lead to the question: should the machine already know what I’m experiencing, why am I part of the loop here? I tried to outsource the interpretation of my emotional state to the magical ring, instead of asking myself these questions. Considering how vital part of humanity emotions are, it is somewhat worrying that I rather voluntarily left the task to the machine ands begs for me the question, at what point I’m no longer capable of understanding myself due to trusting these technologies too much?
Well, moving away from this type of autobiography to see what academia is saying on this. Unfortunately, I’m more familiar with the empirical work even while the real question here is more philosophical. Study on the feedback loops of psychophysiological adaptive system have recently gained some attraction in academia. Snyder et al (2015). studied both individual and group work situations aiming to support mindfulness through an adaptive psychophysiological system, MoodLight. They observed participants feeling somewhat weird after a system presented their internal state to them, but also trusted the output of the system:
For example, one participant felt that she was highly aroused, “stressed” in her words, although the output of the lights was a steady blue-violet. Rather than questioning the accuracy of the reading, she concluded, “I guess I’ve gotten better at not being totally enraged.”
In group situation, participants explained how they were not sure who is affecting the output in the end. Thus, based on my experiences and a super-shallow academic reading we can acknowledge the interesting effect these tools have in everyday life, even the awkwardness related to constant self-monitoring. Maybe an interesting design challenge would be considering how we relate to these technologies, more specially how we ensure that people still are sure of their own inner state – no matter what the sensors think.
The new functions in the Moodmetric Ring help you to better recognize and understand your emotions. The app shows your reactions and emotional levels just like before. In addition two new indicators visualize your emotional state directly on your ring:
Calm mind indicator
Taking a moment to meditate or just need to stop your mind from wandering for a few minutes?
The Moodmetric number tells what is your emotional level on a scale from 0 to 100. If your Moodmetric number is below 15 for five minutes, a green led illuminates.
High emotion level alert
If your Moodmetric number is above 75 for five minutes, a red led begins to blink.
High level can mean great excitement, stress or anxiety. If your emotional level is high for long periods, you might deplete your energy resources quickly.
You can turn both of these functions off, if you do not wish the ring itself to display your mood.
Exercise is medicine
The Moodmetric Ring counts your steps as any step counter.
The steps taken per day are shown on the app below the MoodFlower in thousand steps. If you reach the recommended daily dose of 10 000 steps, you´ll get an orange circle around that day in the month view.
You can follow your daily average MM figure and steps. More steps might indicate a lower number telling about calmer mind.
Practice your mind
Mindfulness or meditation exercise in the middle of day might give an extra mental boost for the rest of your working day. Measure it with the Moodmetric Practice for a visual presentation. Learn about yourself, what do you need around you to have the most calming experience?
The new log function records the length and score of each practise. You can follow your progress and better understand the correlation between a calm mind and and your overall mood and environment.
The dark circle around a day number tells that you have done the Practice that day. The orange circle you gain after taking 10 000 steps on a day.