Triathlete Erika Parviainen contracted COVID-19 in the spring of 2020. Since then, she has had to take time off from training. She gets easily tired, 10 minutes of jogging can be too much. It has been surprising to Erika how mental strain is reflected in stress levels. Following the Moodmetric real-time measurement, Erika has started to pay more attention to recovery during waking hours, and her overall well-being seems now to be improving.

Triathlete Erika Parviainen long covid Moodmetric
Picture Erika Parviainen

Erika Parviainen, 25, is one of the best triathletes in Finland Sprint and Olympic triathlon. She became one of the first Finns to contract COVID-19 and has not been able to return to normal training due to prolonged illness. The most painful symptom from an athlete’s point of view is exhaustion even after the slightest physical exercise. 

– It feels really bad. Sports has meant everything to me since I was five years old. Before I got sick, I trained for 4-6 hours a day and now sometimes just 10 minutes of jogging can cause fatigue. If there is a good day and I move more, I have to pay for it by feeling much worse for the next couple of days, Erika says.

Exceptionally high stress levels when awake

Erika began using the Moodmetric smart ring in December 2020 and has been monitoring her stress regularly since then. – My stress levels are very high always when I’m awake, even though I don’t actually do anything. It’s extremely frustrating that just studying takes so much effort. I have always performed well in school and studies, and now it is hard to accept the slow progress, Erika continues. Erika is currently finalizing a master’s degree in biomedical engineering at the University of Tampere.

Triathlete Erika Parviainen long COVID stress
Erika’s high stress levels during awake time

Erika’s Moodmetric data shows that the sympathetic nervous system appears to be exceptionally active when awake. Although studying is often stressful even in normal circumstances, there seems to be something special about Erika’s stress levels. To illustrate this, it can be said that Erika’s ‘power consumption’ is higher than the context would indicate. It seems that the sympathetic nervous system reacts very easily and thus consumes resources more than for a healthy adult. This appears to be the result of long COVID.

Erika has also made observations that are more typical stress management challenges while wearing the Moodmetric smart ring. She has noticed that stress levels are not necessarily affected so much by what you do, but how your mind calms down with each activity.

– It has been surprising that when watching TV, stress levels may be elevated. Although in a way it is a means of relaxation, my body may not calm down if my mind is racing, Erika says.

Excellent recovery during sleep

The Moodmetric data shows extremely low stress levels during sleep, which means the best possible recovery. This is in line with Erika’s own view. She has also measured sleep with a heart rate variability sensor but this data she has found contradictory, with no clear view on mental strain and recovery.

Triathlete Erika Parviainen long covid Moodmetric
Erika’s stress levels during sleep

Based on the Moodmetric data, Erika’s sympathetic nervous system clearly calms down at night, allowing the parasympathetic part to work. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for recovery and the body’s corrective functions, so the nightly recovery is sufficient. The challenge seems to be high levels of stress during waking hours.

– It has been hard to keep my spirits up. The mind wanders around the future, how long will it take to  fully recover? Uncertainty is really discouraging, says Erika.

Moodmetric measurement helps to control the stress levels in real time

Monitoring the Moodmetric data and especially one value, the Daily Average, has been of interest for Erika. It seems that when the reading settles at 50 or a little below, the mental that physical tolerance is better. 

– When I was on holiday during Christmas, my Moodmetric Daily Average was around 50 and I felt pretty good. When I returned to studies the measured levels started to rise again and feelings of fatigue returned, says Erika.

Since February, Erika’s goal has been to try to regulate day-to-day stress levels. She wants to see how the recovery progresses if she reaches the Daily Average level 50 most days. Read more about the interpretation of Moodmetric data here.

Towards better well-being

In March 2021 Erika has been ill already for a year, and finally there seems to be a turn for the better. – I feel that my overall well-being has improved, and following Moodmetric levels plays a big role in this. My main insight is that if I see that the Moodmetric levels are high, I take a rest. Light outdoor activities and sunny weather lift my spirits up and keep the mind away from negative thoughts.

Real-time data helps to slow the pace when the mind tries to say otherwise. Resting and allowing naps has been a big change in everyday routines for the goal oriented and active Erika. It seems to be paying off.

Jaa artikkeli

Niina Venho

chronic illness COVID COVID19 electrodermal activity fatigue long covid physiological measurement stress management sympathetic nervous system triathlon