Less than half an hour of recovery during the whole day. Is it possible to cope with that? Let’s ask Hans-Peter Siefen who has recent experiences on the topic. The co-founder of Nordic Business Forum worked long hours as one of the most significant business seminars in the world was arranged and in Helsinki once again.
Siefen tracked his stress reactions using the Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment for two days before the event as well as on the actual seminar day. As you might assume, the results looked rough: a lot of red color indicating stress and plenty of blue indicating physical activity. Tons of steps were taken every day with a high point of 18,000 steps on Tuesday, even if Siefen also rode his bike to move around the event venue.
“On Monday we built up the event and Tuesday was the day of the rehearsals. The event day itself I mostly spent backstage producing the stage show”, tells Siefen.
You Need to Recover from Positive Stress Too
Green color indicating recovery was nowhere to be found in Siefen’s Lifestyle Assessment results, not even at night. During the first two days of the assessment, Siefen got less than half an hour of recovery per day. On the first day of the seminar he managed nearly two hours.
“I felt like I had enough energy. Of course, the long days were stressful, but it wasn’t a problem, rather the opposite. Working capacity is boosted by enthusiasm and adrenaline”, tells Siefen about how he felt.
That’s how it works. When you’re inspired and excited about something it feels like there’s nothing to stop you and you don’t feel the exhaustion. Even though, physiologically, this type of positive stress isn’t as big of a stress load as the negative stress that makes you feel unwell, it still needs to be recovered from.
Siefen knows that and did everything in his power to enhance his recovery even during the busiest time of the year: he went to sleep as soon as he could, even though his body was stressed long after falling to sleep, he went out to get some fresh air in the mornings and evenings and kept alcohol consumption to a minimum, having only one beer at the NBF VIP event.
“I felt like I slept well every night, even though the amount of sleep was low. However, the assessment shows my body didn’t recover that well.”
Balance Must be Taken Care of in the Big Picture
Similar to Firstbeat with their roots in Jyväskylä and having grown to a global business, Nordic Business Forum has grown massively over the years and 2019 was the 10th time it took place. So, it was no surprise to Siefen that event is stressful for his body. Indeed, this stress began well before the event itself due to the preparation required.
“I have to admit it has been a busy two months. This is how the event business is – similar to many other jobs which have distinct stress peaks when getting closer to the most important deadlines”, says Siefen.
However, it’s not advisable to go all out year-round, even if you feel like you would have the eagerness to do so. The importance of recovery is appreciated within the Nordic Business Forum organization – it’s also proved to be working.
Last spring NBF placed second in the Finnish national championships of sleep’s work community division: Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment measurements the staff conducted during the winter proved NBF staff to be recovering really well. NBF organizers know how to take care of their own well-being and listen to their bodies in the long run.
“I have measured my well-being with Firstbeat several times now, and on all the measurements, excluding the latest one, my sleep has been very restorative. I aim to sleep for about eight hours a night, and have the weekends off, which, of course, isn’t always very restorative, being a dad of three kids,” laughs Siefen.
Luckily, the family understood to give their dad some spare time after the most demanding stretch of his work and Siefen got to rest after the main NBF event of the year.
“The work won’t end here, but I got some good rest during the weekend. I took two naps with our baby and my wife allowed me some good night’s sleep. I got some fresh air and dipped in the lake. I’m starting to feel pretty well rested. Also, the positive feedback from the event has been refreshing and helped with the recovery,” reminds Siefen about the connection between body and mind.
Main Stage Presentation Didn’t Impact the Night’s Sleep
In addition to Siefen, Salla Seppä – responsible for NBF’s customer experience – and Marjo Hiekkala – in charge of the finances – wore the Firstbeat Bodyguard 2 while preparing for the main event. And there was not much green to be seen in their results either. That contrasts with Anssi Rantanen, the winner of the NBF speech contest.
On the night leading up to the opening day of NBF there’s a lot of green in Rantanen’s measurement results. From the results it would be impossible to tell that, the next day, he was about to take to the main stage of NBF and talk to over 7,000 people.
“I slept really well. Naturally I was a bit nervous the night before the event, but the good preparations made me feel relaxed and confident,” says Rantanen.
In the morning before heading to the venue, Rantanen went to the gym to wake his body up and also did some squats backstage just before the presentation.
“I’ve got good tips from actors, who have told me that doing some physical activity is a great way to get your focus back if you’re starting to get nervous,” Rantanen explains.
The people who saw the main stage performance of Rantanen are not surprised the man was a bit nervous. As a part of his speech “Why Experimentation is the Future of Growth”, Rantanen had a tight battle against time as he created a brand, a website and a chatbot for an imaginary health corporate – all in just five minutes with thousands of people watching and the music from Mission: Impossible creating the atmosphere.
During the performance, Rantanen’s heart rate rose up to 160 bpm which is comparable to a moderate-pace run. The rest of the day went by quick, but his mental stress load started to unwind.
“It’s pretty hard to remember the performance. There was a lot of adrenaline and the whole experince was somewhat surreal. After the performance, exhaustion started to creep in and once I got to bed I wanted to sleep for at least ten hours,” Rantanen says.
Rantanen was’t able to sleep for that long with the second day of NBF calling. It’s been busy even after the actual seminar, with his impressive performance leading to a lot of new contacts. Even so, Rantanen has taken care of his recovery after NBF.
“I spent a weekend in Norway recharging and hiking in nature,” he reveals.
IMAGES: Nordic Business Forum/Pasi Salminen
View our Corporate Wellness page to see how employers can use the Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment in a work setting.
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