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Stress Management Workshop for International Women’s Day

Today is Inter­na­tional Women’s Day 2007.

Global con­sult­ing com­pany Accen­ture orga­nized a series of events, and I was for­tu­nate to lead a fun work­shop on The Neu­ro­science of Stress and Stress Man­age­ment in their San Fran­cisco office, help­ing over 125 accom­plished women (and a few men) learn what stress is, its impli­ca­tions for our brain func­tion­ing, per­for­mance and health, and of course some tips and tech­niques to develop our “stress man­age­ment” mus­cles. It was an honor to be able to wrap up a great event that included Dis­trict Attor­ney Kamala D. Har­ris, two of the co-authors of This is Not the Life I Ordered, a video by Sen­a­tor Dianne Fein­stein, and some great Accen­ture women.

We dis­cussed how stress is the emo­tional and phys­i­o­log­i­cal reac­tion to a threat, whether real or imag­ined, that results in a series of adap­ta­tions by our bod­ies. And how stress man­age­ment can bring a vari­ety of ben­e­fits: sus­tained peak per­for­mance, cog­ni­tive flex­i­bil­ity, mem­ory, deci­sion mak­ing, and even longevity.
You can see a very inter­est­ing exam­ple of the rela­tion­ship between atten­tion, mem­ory and stress with this exper­i­ment: Atten­tion and work­ing memory

Let me share some key take-aways from the work­shop, together with some exer­cises we used to illus­trate key points:

1) Stress can be a major road­block for peak per­for­mance and health
2) Some tips and tech­niques to bet­ter man­age stress:
a) Pick your battles
b) Keep an open mind-avoid escalations
What do you see?
c) Pro­gres­sive Mus­cle Relax­ation Technique
- Tighten all the mus­cles you can find: legs, arms, back, face
– Hold for 10 sec­onds
– Then, release
- Repeat a few timesd) Breath­ing and Visualization

–First, travel back, in your mind’s eye, to a time when you felt a healthy exhaus­tion, and let you relive that moment as vividly as you can.

–Then, remem­ber, re-experience, a lov­ing exchange that really touched you. Pause. See the moment. Smell it. Hear what hap­pened around you.

–Next, visu­al­ize the most car­ing ges­ture you have ever received, as full of details as pos­si­ble. Who gave you that gift of car­ing. How you felt.

–Now, travel to the most mag­nif­i­cent place you have seen. Enjoy the views. Pause. Lis­ten. Smile. Appreciate.

e) A high-tech option: biofeedback
f) New habits and abil­i­ties require practice
Count the Fs (check the video in the bot­tom half of the page that will open)
If you want more infor­ma­tion, you can check our Exer­cise Your Brain DVD, and our Stress Man­age­ment section.
Finally, 2 books we men­tioned dur­ing the workshop:
- Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain — by Wall Street Jour­nal Sharon Begley
This was also a great open­ing for our activ­i­ties dur­ing Brain Aware­ness Week.
A few months back we had a sim­i­lar event at Cisco Sys­tems, titled Exer­cis­ing Men­tal Mus­cles for Cor­po­rate Suc­cess. If you are inter­ested in orga­niz­ing events like this in your com­pany or orga­ni­za­tion, please Con­tact Us.
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