Jane’s stress levels during Moodmetric Measurement were exceptionally low. Her Moodmetric daily average was 29. Not only for one day, but for duration of the two week measurement period. Such a low Moodmetric daily average had not previously been recorded in Moodmetric Group Measurements. Jane participated in Moodmetric Group Measurement in the spring of 2019.
Moodmetric Group Measurement is a service for companies. The participants receive objective data on their workload and recovery balance and support for stress management using Moodmetric smart rings.
At the feedback session an anonymous group feedback is reviewed from which individuals cannot be identified. Seeing the exceptional figures, the representative of Moodmetric called for a re-measurement in order to rule out a possible measurement error.
At the feedback session an anonymous group feedback is reviewed from which individuals cannot be identified. Typically the Moodmetric daily average for two weeks varies between 45-55. It is rare to record results lower than 40. Read more about the Moodmetric data interpretation here.
Although the participants do not have to discuss their results with anyone, the person with exceptionally low figures contacted Moodmetric after the feedback session. Jane (the name has been changed to protect her privacy) told, that the Moodmetric data corresponded clearly with her own experience.
“I felt like a zombie. I couldn’t really feel anything and my motivation was totally lost”
Jane told Moodmetric that she had just returned from a five-week sick leave due to job burnout and mild depression. The sick leave was result from extremely heavy workload that had lasted for over a year.
Electrodermal activity measurement may help detecting job burnout
Previous studies have shown that patients with depression have recorded atypically low values of electrodermal activity (Argyle, 1991; Ward el al., 1983). Electrodermal activity measurements are considered promising biomarkers for depression (Sarchiapone et al., 2018). Very often depression is preceded with prolonged job burnout.
As it was clearly seen from Jane’s Moodmetric data, the job burnout had not eased yet. In Jane’s case, low Moodmetric levels during waking hours did not indicate good recovery, but exhaustion and most probably mild depression as well.
Follow up measurements are important
Jane was provided a follow up measurement after six months to see how her Moodmetric levels and feelings had evolved. The follow up measurement took place in January of 2020.
– During the first week of the measurement I was still feeling pretty good. After all, the autumn had been very hectic and at times the stress was overwhelming. I barely made it to Christmas break, during which I didn’t recover much, Jane says.
After Christmas, the pace of work accelerated again and I started feeling worse again. I had feelings of choking and was worrying about work during leisure. Luckily I was able to sleep, and I also tried to calm the weekends. I am just tired of trying to manage this stress.
Jane’s Moodmetric daily average climbed during the two-week measurement from 49 to 56.
When the daily average is around 45-50, the autonomic nervous system is in balance. There is enough recovery in relation to the stress. Daily averages around 51-55 may be a sign of chronic stress. Read more how to interpret the Moodmetric data here.
Jane felt that the follow up measurement was interesting and useful. The most rewarding part was that she could easily detect how much in overdrive she was during leisure. – Even when I tried not to do anything my stress levels were peaking. It was nice to learn, that watching television with my family helped me to recover best.
Support from supervisor is often insufficient
Jane had mixed feelings when she had returned to work after the sick leave in the spring of 2019. Her young and inexperienced supervisor was not able to help. Instead, Jane felt she had to survive on her own despite that she had tried bring things up with her supervisor. Jane says she has taken stress management courses, read self-help books and tried to figure things out on her own. However, the workload and requirements for work have reached the same level as before her sick leave. Jane feels she can’t do anything about it.
Jane believes that Moodmetric data could support discussions between employees and supervisors in situations where employees well-being is at risk. Of course, it would necessitate that the supervisor would be able to interpret the Moodmetric data at least on a basic level and would take seriously the possible signs of job burnout.
Even though according to the follow up measurement the functioning of Jane’s autonomic nervous system seemed to have normalized, there is risk that the burnout recurs. If there will be no changes in the work content and environment, the situation may lead to a new sick leave.
Stress management is cooperation between the employees and the workplace, where supervisors play the most important role.
This article is published in cooperation with Jane (the name has been changed to protect her privacy). Jane hopes that sharing her own experience and Moodmetric data will help raise awareness about detecting job burnout and understanding the challenges after a sick leave related to burnout.
Argyle, N.(1991). Skin conductance levels in panic disorder and depression. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 179(9), 563–566.
Sarchiapone, M., Gramaglia, C., Iosue, M., Carli, V., Mandelli, L., Serretti, A.,Marangon, D. & Zeppegno, P., (2018). The association between electrodermal activity (EDA), depression and suicidal behaviour: A systematic review and narrative synthesis, BMC psychiatry, 18(1), 22.
Ward, N.G., Doerr, H.O., Storrie, M.C., (1983). Skin conductance: a potentially sensitive test for depression, Psychiatry Research, 10(4), 295-302.