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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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28 Responses

  1. Dave Prouhet says:

    Alvaro,

    Enjoyed this post. Found it on Emmanuel’s Carnival.

    Though I’m a guy quite a few of these links were certainly eye opening.

    Dave

  2. Alvaro says:

    Dave: I am a guy too and certainly love learning, and sharing, about this topic. Glad you enjoyed it too.

  3. tjay says:

    Enjoyed your post and comments related to “Stress can be a major roadblock for peak performance and health”. How does
    stress affect health? Unless we make changes today we can fall victim to an avalanche of physical and emotional disorders.

  4. root123 says:

    Thanks for writing on stress management. Its awareness in todays 24X7 work environments is very important.

  5. Alvaro says:

    You are welcome. I agree.

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Categories: Brain Teasers, Cognitive Neuroscience, Peak Performance, Professional Development, Technology

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