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Lessons in Relaxation Part 4
Mind tools are no longer new in the business world. Twenty years ago Charles Roth was teaching American executives how to increase sales by as much as 150% by imagining themselves in various sales situations. This enabled them to practise and develop ready formed ideas and responses in situations they would otherwise have stumbled in.
During a recent lecture tour of Japan I met Dr. Hitoshi Ishikawa, head of Tokyo university’s Department of Psychosomatic medicine. He explained that the problem of stress, is a main factor of inefficiency in industry, and its effects in commerce were being taken seriously in Japan.
Old concepts which see stress being solely about overworking or facing undue pressure miss the relevance of destressing for modern executives. Stress is not simply muscular tension or a feeling of tightness, it is also involved in how we relate to individuals and groups in competition or co-operative activity; how easily we meet, asses and make use of changes and how clearly we can define realistic goals and achieve them.
Kenneth Blanchard, a leading American management consultant, working with Dr. Spencer Johnson, in a summary of how to be an affective manager says – People who feel good about themselves produce good results. (The one minute Manager – Collins.)
If the factors that inhibit us feeling good about ourselves and which thereby lessen creativity, productivity and good management, are looked at, the need for destressing becomes clear.
For instance recent research into why people take tranquillisers showed that larger amounts of the drugs were used by people in certain types of work. The high usage group were those employees and managers who were called upon to complete a large work quota but had little opportunity to make choices and decisions about their work. People with as much or more work quota, who could control and exercise choice about what they did, used tranquillisers much less. Similar factors, related to amount of choice, were revealed in the research done by an American group into work satisfaction. Their results showed that dissatisfaction arose if a person who had little control over their work felt they had too much or too little to do. Those who could exercise choice were generally more content, and were willing to face more work.
The stress here is caused by lack of choice. To destress the situation fairly straightforward techniques can be used. The first step is to allow as much choice as possible to employees, and to conduct meetings and interviews from the standpoint of offered choice and decision making.
In dealing with ourself, the areas of our ability to choose need to be clarified and consciously used. In areas where there seems to be little choice, a subtle but very effective technique can be used. It consists of sorting out the Want to’s from the Got to’s. Very often we feel as if we have got to be in the work we are. If considered however, there are usually several reasons we want to be in the work, such as the wage earned, support of dependants, job satisfaction. Discovering our area of choice in what we want to do, is a major destressing factor. If little or no want to’s can be discovered1 it is time for the next step.
One of the greatest causes of stress in any human activity is hopelessness. That may not seem to apply to you, but it is basic to any living organism or social group to seek goals, and to find satisfaction in reaching them. Such goals may be the procurement of food, to retain ones house, or sell a product. It is natural to experience stress and arousal in the act of search and procurement. That is pleasant, but we also need the satisfaction of arriving at a goal. If no goal is ever reached the stress Of search and procurement continues to the point of breakdown, hopelessness. hyperactivity or withdrawal. Unfortunately some areas of life and business do not have defined goals or the obvious satisfaction of reaching them. This may bring about undue stress, and a constant sense of striving. To combat this many businesses or individuals set themselves realistic goals and give praise or rewards on their attainment. Even if non attainment occurs the events can be useful for defining information to enhance future efforts, giving a sense of attainment in learning something.
There are effective ways one can personally use these means of destressing in other than objective ways. For instance the nervous system does not make a great differentiation between a real event and an imagined one. We can therefore use the destressing power of goal attainment, by imagining it. Also, the glandular products resulting from stress are negated in their negative effects by carbon dioxide in the bloodstream.
Therefore, before any important interview or meeting, gently slow the breathing. – Make it as slow as you can without having to gasp. This increases the level of carbon dioxide in the blood producing a calmer state of mind. In imagination go through the interview and explore expressing what you wish to communicate. Feel any tension which arises, but repeat the imagined interview until it subsides, and you experience yourself expressing easily.
At times during the day, while travelling, waiting1 or at rest, feel tension in your body then feel it relaxing. Then imagine a situation, such as a holiday, or a quiet room, or some pleasure, which relaxes and rewards you. Allow the pleasant sensations to pervade your whole body. If possible allow yourself to dwell in that pleasure and effortlessness until you spontaneously feel an urge to emerge into action again.
Try destressing yourself. Through it you can get more life out of living”.