A quick but structured exercise to reduce stress and fatigue
Source: Deb Giffen, MCC, MAPP
Goal of this intervention: The goal of this intervention is to give you a quick and effective way to relieve stress and anxiety that can arise during the course of everyday events. This resiliency exercise will give you a structured approach for slowing down, assessing the situation at hand, reframing the situation more accurately, and setting off on a more productive and satisfying course of action. Your ability to step back and redirect your stress and anxiety will enhance your performance at work, will aid in parenting skills, will build relationships and contribute to a host of other complex situations.
How to conduct this intervention:
- BMW Release: a 1-minute ”...moan and whine” session to vent and release the tension
- Oxygenate: 10 deep belly breaths; breathe in to a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4
- Values Anchor: emotionally connect with 3 things you deeply value or love
- The Context: make a quick list of what is Known, what is Unknown and what is Fuzzy about the situation
- The Challenge: Define the specific challenge you’re facing right now, in one sentence
- The Goal: Flip the challenge into its “positive opposite”. This becomes the goal that you’d most like to achieve.
- The Obstacles: Identify the 2 or 3 of the key obstacles that you may face in achieving your goal; these are the “buts” that come to mind as you state your goal; then flip the challenges into additions to your goal statement.
- Identifying Energizing Question and Action Steps: Create a “learner” question, as opposed to a “judger” question (Marilee Goldberg Adams) and jot down 2 or 3 action steps you could take to help move you closer to your goal (this does not need to resolve the entire situation—just start moving you in the right direction).
- White Board: Take some more deep belly breaths with eyes closed while you imagine looking at a blank white board. Ask yourself: is there anything else I need to know?
- Clarify Action Steps and Your Role: Define the role you need to play to achieve the action (what “hat” will you wear: authentic leader, communicator, parent, teacher, mindful listener, supportive spouse etc.?)
Questions to ask your client – some suggestions
- Were you able to work through each step?
- Did this exercise help to reduce your stress or anxiety in the moment—did it provide you with a direction to take?
- Were there any steps that were more difficult for you to complete?
- Were there any steps that you found particularly helpful in moving you forward?
This exercise should help your client to step back and gain a healthier perspective of the immediate situation. By progressing through these 10 steps, their stress and anxiety should be reduced and they should be able to return to carrying on with their day- with greater productivity and satisfaction.
Things to watch out for
- A-type personalities may get impatient with the steps of this exercise, particularly towards the end. Encourage them to relax and consciously move through each action—perhaps using it as a deliberate experiment to see if they can slow down!
- Your client may get stuck on one of the steps- running the risk of derailing the exercise. Encourage them to make a note of which step gave them difficulty—then discuss it more fully in your next session. Why did they get stuck? Is this a pattern? Can this step be reworked/rephrased to get them back on track?
Is there any science to support this intervention
The Penn Resiliency Project (PRP) has done extensive research in the areas of optimism and resiliency including 13 controlled studies among 2000 participants. Majority of these studies showed positive effects on anxiety and behavior.
From the website: www.resiliencyforlife.com, additional studies are cited: Resiliency is "... the inherent and nurtured capacity of individuals to deal with life's stresses in ways that enable them to lead healthy and fulfilled lives" (Howard & Johnson 1999).
"Resiliency is "the process of, capacity for, or the outcome of successful adaptation despite challenging or threatening circumstances." (Masten, Best and Garmezy (1990) We define resiliency as “taking a positive yet balanced asset approach to our abilities. Tap into and use our latent yet oh so very powerful innate skills and relationships to deal with adversity. (Ballard 2007)
Thank you to www.zonepositive.com for providing some great resources!
Find more resources at http://zonepositive.com/resources/positive-exercises/