The ability to feel stress is one of the features which allowed us to survive, first, and prosper, then. By triggering our sympathetic nervous system, stress gave us an hedge in the evolutionary process. Unfortunately, once many of us moved into urbanized environments, stress is often taxing us, while our energies are already stretched to run our daily marathons.

For our Happy Notes, this time we review two approaches to relaxation: the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, and coaching for motivation and performances

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction was introduced by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who in 1979 founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts’ Medical School. MBSR is based on eight weekly meeting, and facilitates the management of (among others) stress, headache, anxiety, chronic pain, illness, insomnia, high blood pressure. MBSR is based on three pillars: body scan, sitting meditation and Hatha Yoga exercises, so it integrates mindfulness meditation, gentle yoga exercises, discussions, home assignments with practice CDs and manual. In addition to this, MBSR uses martial arts, especially for those with pain and chronic illnesses, to balance the disuse atrophy from our culture’s largely sedentary lifestyle.

Body scan consists in lying down for approximately 45 minutes, scanning different parts of the body for tension and discomfort; this helps to prepare for mindfulness meditation by allowing the mind to calm down and concentrate, and also to relax the body, reliving stress and pain. Sitting mindfulness meditation consists in non-judgemental observation of feelings, thoughts and sensations, allowing to live in the present moment. This practice can also be extended to walking, eating, cleaning, and other daily activities. Hatha Yoga is done as an additional form of mindful meditation, not as mere fitness.

There are several benefits of practising Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, including improved ability to reduce medical symptoms and psychological distress; learning to live life more fully; increased ability to deal with stressful situations, anger, depression, fear, anxiety.

Coaching for motivation and performances
Partnering with a coach, who can facilitate our motivation and performances, is becoming more and more popular. It started as common practise for sports people, then Big Business executives searched for their services, and now coaching has gone main stream.

There are several kind of coaching, including

A coach can go a long way in facilitating our changes, being in stress-management, career, personal life, etc. The profession is self-regulated in most jurisdictions, meaning it is very important for each client to test the water before starting to work with a coach: the chemistry, both in terms of personal and professional attitudes, between coach and coachee can make a difference in the success of the process.

Coaching meetings can be hold with variable schedule, for example once per week at a location convenient to the client. The process can vary from situation to situation, however there are some recurrent practices, for example the one of starting with the client’s description of current situation and goals, then moving to thinking and committing to an action plan, then evaluating the outcomes and feeding them back into future action.

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