Working irregular hours and days
Last week I interviewed Christine. She works as a Customer Service agent at Brussels Airport. She was particularly interested in monitoring with Mindstretch because she felt that working irregular hours – from early morning (as early as 3AM) till late afternoon – takes its toll, both mentally and physically.
Although most nights involve intermittent waking up, she was surprised to see her nights showing “green” on her Mindstretch app. “The only occasions in which I have an orange peak, is when I’ve woken up during a nightmare.”
As she does not go to work every day, she noticed quite some differences between work-day mornings and stay-at-home mornings: “When I get ready for work, I take my time and thus find it very relaxing not having anything stressful on my mind. Both getting ready and commuting to work are consistently green zones for me.”
Lower recovery at home
When she stays at home, her recovery levels are much lower. “I mostly experience stressful feelings when I’m at home doing chores… cleaning, cooking, shopping for groceries, etc. Those things do not make me feel relaxed at all and I tend to hurry more because I want to get them done as soon as possible. I was not surprised to see that these tasks take a lot of mental effort.” Adding to that, she told me about her weekly online Spanish classes. As much as she enjoys chatting and learning with her fellow students, the concentration and cognitive effort are translated in orange peaks throughout the day.
So which activities make sure she recovers from the aforementioned “tasks”? Watching TV at night, apparently. She emphasized that there’s a significant difference between watching TV during the day or at night: “When I’m on the couch to catch some breath in-between household tasks, I find it difficult to relax. It’s only when I’m done for the day, in the evening, that I can fully relax.” She adds, “At night, I watch whatever is on. I don’t have to think too much about what’s going on as I never put on a movie or watch a series, which results in more recovery.”
Stress at work, but recovery by sports
I was also curious to see if she experienced any mentally demanding tasks at work. “In general, when I’m doing gates (checking passengers’ boarding tickets and passports before embarkment) I feel rushed and have to do several things at once. On top of that, there are a lot of passengers asking questions and making complaints. These moments at work always cause increased orange peaks in my daily graph.”
I asked whether Christine was surprised by any of the results she saw in the app on a day-to- day basis. “Definitely,” she said, “when I’m at home, I go jogging every other morning. As this takes a lot of physical energy, I had expected not to see any mental recovery. I was wrong! She was pleasantly surprised by this fact. “My own body and mind never fail to amaze me!”
When I inquired about her findings on the app overall, she told me she would love to continue using Mindstretch to experiment further. She felt she could get more knowledge out of it than she had done so far: “It’s especially informative to me when I’ve had a day with a lot of recovery. It gives me a mental boost and creates positive reinforcement for the days to come: to remind myself to take it easy when I feel stressed out.”