Global health service firm, Cigna, helped its Scottish employees to see stress differently with a visualisation experience in Glasgow yesterday.
The technology combines biometric data and digital art to create moving images showing the physical and emotional impact of stress in the body and mind.
Cigna, which has offices in Glasgow and Greenock, partnered with doctors, technologists and US digital artist Sean Sullivan, to build the technology. The experience gathers readings using an EEG headband to detect brainwave activity, a heart rate sensor and a high-tech skin sensor.
With Christmas just two weeks away and Scots feeling the strain of family and work-related stress, the company brought the visualisation kit to Glasgow as part of its global campaign, ‘See Stress Differently’, to help raise awareness of stress in the run-up to the festive period.
Using a combination of data, technology and art, staff were able to physically visualise their stress levels for the very first time, with data flowing into a custom-built algorithm and interpreted into an artistic motion portrait showing dynamic changes in shape and colour to reflect a person’s overall stress.
The stress visualiser experience aims to raise awareness of stress and encourage people to create a personal stress-care PLAN using Cigna’s specialist tool. Following the test, any staff with moderate to high-stress levels will be supported by the company’s extensive health and wellbeing initiatives, which include mental health first aider training, massage and meditation sessions and access to online health and wellbeing tools and resources.
Members of the public can also create their own stress visualisation by taking a three-minute stress test online.
Liam Hughes, European sales and client management director at Cigna Europe, said: “We know that Christmas can be a stressful time of year, as people across the UK manage the demands of work and their private lives.
“As a country, our research shows that 72% of Brits suffer from stress and when you add the heavy workloads, jam-packed calendars and financial strain that Christmas often brings, it’s no wonder that stress and mental health issues are often heightened during the festive period.
“At Cigna, we are focused on providing solutions and support across all dimensions of wellbeing and we are proud to work with some of the UK’s top employers to help people better manage stress, both inside and out of the workplace.”
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According to the 2019 Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey, 84% of the world’s population suffers from stress, but what many people don’t realise is that stress constantly impacts both body and mind. Physical symptoms are often invisible until it turns into chronic stress – a leading contributor to severe long-term conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and insomnia.
The survey also found that Brits are failing to act, with many turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms. A quarter admit to stress eating and 14% believe that alcohol reduces their stress levels. Only 14% of people would speak to a medical professional when feeling stressed, 46% would speak to their partner, 32% to family and 29% to friends.
Heather Valteris, CMO, Cigna International Markets, added: “Chronic stress is now recognised as a leading contributor to serious illness, adding burden on health systems. We felt the need to inspire preventative care action for our staff too, not just our customers.
“This new stress visualisation experience is a huge step forward in helping people to see stress as a physical health issue, not just an emotional one. If we start to see stress differently, we can start to take control of it in our everyday lives.”