Burnout: Data + Tools For Healthier Frontline Leaders

  • April 29, 2020


Elite athletes and military units have access to tools and resources to help them understand their stress and how to recover from it, in order to get longevity in their career.


Arena Labs began placing physiology sensors on frontline staff in our partner hospitals for three key reasons:

  1. Get clear physiology data on stress to better understand burnout and the impacts of pressure.
  2. Provide staff with insights on their own physiology for awareness and education.
  3. Train teams with performance tools so that they can feel agency in staying calm during the demands of a job on modern medicine’s front lines.

At a Level 1 Trauma Center, Arena Labs deployed sensors to 20 Nurse Managers over the course of six weeks. All Nurse Managers were given an Introduction to Stress and Performance on Day One, and provided with a sensor. All participants wore the sensor 24 hours per day, and answered a daily questionnaire about how stressful their day was and how much they felt they were able to cope with that stress.

At the midway point, Arena Labs ran a 3-hour workshop to introduce and train three key performance tools:

  1. Visualization: The power of seeing and training calm
  2. Breathing: Awareness and breath control
  3. Inner Dialogue: Using inner voice for calm and confidence


    1. Stress Management Techniques show early promise for frontline leaders.
    2. When nurse managers are under pressure or have hard days, coping mechanisms impact how those events impact cardiovascular stress response.
    3. In this population of nurses, exercise resulted in 1) improved ability to cope with stress, and 2) improved sleep.

“The biggest thing that alarmed me was, I was like, am I always stressed? … I am always in the orange and red, I am always walking fast, I am always breathing heavily. For me that had gotten so normal it had not occurred to me it was negative. It worried me, because I am young, I am worried my heart rate is high when I sleep at night. …I took a day to actually slow down, and I see a change. Just being self aware is the biggest step. I already feel better about it. I am able to catch myself.”

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