Measuring in real time motivates to pay attention to mental load every day

A Moodmetric blog post: Measuring stress levels in real time motivates to pay attention to mental load every day

Feedback plays a big role when we want to focus on our well-being. Measuring in real time shows our stressors and things that help us recover without a delay.

There are reports in media daily about work and study-related stress, burnouts and the increase of mental load, especially among knowledge workers. The focus is on what to do when stress has already become chronic. The act of balancing between mental load and recovery is yet to become an everyday task.

There are tools for companies and occupational health to gather objective, real-time data about an individual’s cognitive and emotional stress. They comprise an efficient method for preventing the build-up of stress when applied before the load gets too high.

The tool matters

If you want to develop your physics or are interested in physical recovery, activity meters are of service . They often measure pulse or heart rate variability.

Time pressure, anxiety and on the positive side excitement are cognitively and emotionally stressful conditions. There are ways to capture these.

When the aim is to pay attention to mental load, the Moodmetric measurement provides just the needed data. Read more: What does the Moodmetric ring measure?

The Moodmetric smart ring, worn as a normal ring, is a measuring device that gathers accurate information about cognitive and emotional stress, around the clock. The smartphone app shows real-time data. Measuring in real time motivates to pay attention to one’s choices affecting mental well-being every day.

Why is it important that the measuring happens in real time?

We all need feedback. The most effective is instant feedback that makes us see the cause and effect, better realizing the connection between what we did and what was the outcome.

Real-time measurement also catches our attention and encourages us to try out things that might affect the result. For example, how fast does my stress level go down if I breathe deeply for 5 minutes in front of an open window?

Measuring stress levels in real time motivates to pay attention to mental load every day

Let’s say a meeting lasts from 2pm to 3pm. The topic is inspiring, the participants throw in new ideas, decisions are made. A person wearing the Moodmetric ring follows her stress levels during the meeting and sees them fluctuating between 45 and a full 100. Alternatively she gives a glance at the app after the meeting. The numbers show that the stress levels were high. And because the feeling was positive, she concludes that this was a meeting inducing positive stress. She knows that recovery is important also from excitement and takes a moment to relax in a quiet space before the next meeting. The sympathetic nervous system calms down, both the body and mind get a moment of rest.

A long enough period of uninterrupted measuring, roughly two weeks, provides reliable data of the amount of mental load the person is experiencing. It contains a good number of different kinds of days, where one exceptional day does not significantly affect the big picture.

The Moodmetric measurement tells about the amount of mental load

The right metric helps to increase self-understanding and tells where the personal boundaries for high and low stress reside. Objective data, namely a clear number is a decision-making tool and a call for action: “After a day at the office, is it better for me to go jogging, or just for a walk along the scenic route?”

Measuring devices can be used continuously or periodically until the person feels that their control over the issues causing mental load has improved.

A two-week Moodmetric measurement period is sufficient to provide the user with and understanding of their stress levels

The Moodmetric smart ring gives real-time information on what increases and what decreases mental load during day and night. It supports the wearer in finding the optimal balance between emotional and cognitive stress versus recovery.

A two-week Moodmetric measurement period is sufficient to provide the user with an understanding of their stress levels. If the levels are normal, the measurement can be repeated in, say, a year. If the levels are very high, it is advised to discuss with a healthcare professional about the data and make your own assessment of the load and its causes, both at and off work.

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Do you study stress, attention or customer experience?

Attention and focus relieve stress

The Moodmetric measurement gives real time and accurate data on the sympathetic nervous system activation. Use cases below give a snapshot on how the Moodmetric ring can be used to study stress or anything that makes us react. These are just a handful of examples. Electrodermal activity is a signal with great and for most unused potential in field research.

How to study stress with Moodmetric

Positive stress is a good thing.  When it is in control, it takes us forward. Chronic stress reduces productivity, creativity and job satisfaction and it is a risk for physical and psychological health. Emotional and cognitive load can be extremely high especially at knowledge work. It is not easy to catch signals early. Stress might not be detected before it has reached harmful levels.

Questionnaires are subjective and bound to a certain moment. Preventive stress management needs continuous and long term measurement. The Moodmetric ring is intended for weeks and months of use. It is a great tool to research stress at work.

Customer experience

A customer is testing a new shopping center virtually. The center is equipped with innovative implementations, including parking, navigating inside etc. The pilot customers´ opinion have a major significance on the final drawings and the pilot is heavily studied. The Moodmetric measurement shows instantly and in real time the pain points. We find out when the experience is getting from smooth to troublesome. The Moodmetric levels increase in seconds when the customer is perplexed.

Another example: People drive through a car washing lane. How many of them get terrified inside, with not way of getting out in the middle? Could we ease this out somehow?

One can use Moodmetric measurement to study stress levels in any environment, inside or out in the woods. It suits to observing a person in different situations.

Gaming

Mobile and desktop games can be extremely agitating. Chasing, fighting, racing and performing dangerous tasks is enervating. The sympathetic nervous system of the player is active. The body does not understand that the threat is just an illusion created by the game developer.

A game can also be soothing, like puzzles. Focus is needed but vigilance not.

What kind of a game is yours and what is the target audience? What if you could design games that really calm down the sympathetic nervous system? Could there be a game that you could wholeheartedly recommend for kids with concentration difficulties?

Pay attention! – Study focus with Moodmetric

We make better decisions when we pay attention. Our movements are correct and precise, and we make better analysis. We can really pay attention by not letting noises, lights, phone, emails or the smell of lunch distract us. The Moodmetric ring makes it easy to study stress in different work environments.

The Moodmetric index of 1 to 100 tells our arousal level.  When we are focused the level is below ~25. Full focus on the task at hand might show a steady level of around 10.

Many people can find their way to reach focus no matter the surroundings. Some of us need complete silence to work efficiently. Therefore many companies design spaces and areas inside their offices that enhance concentration.

Sports

What kind of training methods provide the best results? The Moodmetric measurement makes it possible to better understand what level of focus the athlete reaches. Interventions such as mental exercises can be tested. The Moodmetric levels indicate the ones with the best results for improving concentration. The measurement also shows when recovery from practice is sufficient.

Are you interested to know more about the Moodmetric measurement?

Read our article series, starting with explaining the fight-or-flight response.
Applications in research and ongoing projects are on our research site.

Or contact us directly:
Niina Venho / CEO
niina. [email protected]

Should I have a change of scenery

– My work environment is loud and distracting, I can not concentrate.
– How bad is it on a scale from 1 to 10?
– Nine.
– 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.