A creative way to combat stress in the workplace

workplace stress relief

A Saint Louis area manufacturer has a program in place that helps combat workplace stress in an ever-more challenging industry — and helps socialize dogs so they can be adopted.

"We began as a custom-cutting tool manufacturer for the screw machine industry, but when the tooling market began to constrict, a lot of screw machine work went to the Asian Rim," Reichlin said. "Following the economic upheaval in late 2008 and 2009, the stress level of running a manufacturing company these days can be quite high.

"It's amazing how bringing a dog into the workplace ends up being semi-therapeutic. It really helps people communicate better with each other. It changes the stress level in the room."


Step-by-step mind-body demo — Integrating mindfulness with biofeedback series, continued

By Yuval Oded

Yuval Oded clinican biofeedback seriesThis walkthrough shows a clinician how to demonstrate the effect of mental stress on the body in real-time using Alive Clinical Version biofeedback graphing. We can tell clients what we know, but showing them is much more powerful and motivating.
  1. From the baseline level we let the SCL line stabilize, preferably letting it get a downward trend as in the example shown below example.

    After going down from 2.71 microsiemens to 2.16 microsiemens, this is the perfect point at which to evoke an anticipation reaction. At timeline 1 min. 50 sec., the client was told “I will now ask you a difficult math question.”

    Notice the sharp rise in the SCL line climbing to 3.50 microsiemens.

    The client did not move or say anything (since the proposed question was not yet asked), so it is clear that the rise in arousal level stems from the psychological impact of anticipation.

    SCL training demo screenshot

  2. By pressing the Hide button we can show the client only the SCL line. After the first anticipation trigger, she is asked to rest.

    SCL training demo screenshot
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A great way to get in touch with the present

image of a single raisin

Eating a Raisin with All Your Senses

By Yuval Oded, inspired by Zindel Segal

Try this simple exercise for moment-by-moment observation: Mindful eating. By slowing down and paying close attention to different aspects of the sensory experience.

By immersing in the here-and-now, we notice things that we have not noticed before and that go unnoticed when we act without mindfulness. First take the raisin and hold it between your thumb and finger. Close your eyes Roll it between your fingers…feel its texture…lightly squeeze it how does it feel at your finger tips?

Open your eyes, gaze at it...does it look like it felt? Examine the shades and dark hollows, its features, its surfaces. Now smell the raisin a few times while inhaling. Notice any sensations in your mouth or throat. Gently place the raisin between your frontal teeth and hold it there, touch it with your tongue and notice any sensations arising in your mouth, throat or stomach. Without chewing on it yet, notice how, moment by moment, changes occur inside your mouth and in the raisin, too.

Place it on your tongue and roll it around sensing, moment after moment. Now before chewing it, notice what conditions the intention to chew causes. As you chew, what do you hear? Now before swallowing the raisin, notice any physical conditions the intention to swallow causes.

Notice how the whole body feels after swallowing, after you’ve completed this whole exercise.

Photo by Cary Bass via Wikimedia Commons


Learn to change your heart rate patterns by breathing

Videos are a great way to better understand how biofeedback works to help people learn to control their stress levels. Over at YouTube Somatic Vision founder and engineer Ryan Deluz has posted the first of a series of videos he is making that will help people understand the purpose and experience of the Alive comprehensive training environment. Check it out, and if you find it interesting and useful, make sure to click the subscribe button above the video to the series so you don't miss upcoming videos in the series.


Integrating mindfulness with biofeedback — A new way to enhance results in individual therapy — Introduction

By Yuval Oded, inspired by Zindel Segal

Yuval Oded clinican biofeedback series

As mindfulness and other Eastern spiritual practices are introduced into psychotherapy, both therapists and clients seek for ways to deepen the practice. In the next few weeks I will describe how I integrate Alive biofeedback with mindfulness practices.

“Mindfulness” refers to keeping one’s consciousness alive to the present reality. John Kabat-Zinn, one of pioneers in integrating mindfulness into therapy, says, “when we use the term mindfulness we refer to ‘an openhearted, moment to moment, nonjudgmental awareness’.”

In therapy we often aim at helping our clients to promote acceptance of internal experience. In a wide range of clinical problems, what is common is the avoidance or over-attention to internal experiences such as thoughts, images, emotions and sensations. For example, many clients are not aware of the moment-to-moment fluctuations in mood they are experiencing. A patient may describe his panic attack as lasting 4 days while scientific findings show that the human body is not capable of sustaining such high levels of arousal for long. Anxiety sensitivity, or fear of fear, often causes this sustained attention to anxiety-related symptoms.

Learn more »

The effects of stress on relationships

It's a pretty simple (but powerful) calculus offered up by David Code today in his piece, "The Real Reason Couples Divorce:" Badly-managed stress can cause us to scapegoat each other, giving us the false impression that a spouse is making us unhappy.


Sounds and pictures to relax to!

I just stumbled across a great resource for relaxation mini-breaks: YouTube videos! Many people seem to have uploaded videos from 6 to 30 minutes long (with links to longer versions, in many cases) specifically made for relaxing.

I love that there is a wide variety of videos, some with music and some without to suit all types. A favorite of mine: the Pacific ocean at dusk.

Relaxation video


Super Table-Flip: Fun, but not really stress relief

Wired recently ran a story about an arcade game in Japan that seeks to help pressurized people relieve everyday stress. Super Table-Flip lets the game player pound on a table replica input device to get the attention of his virtual family or co-workers, and as they become more annoying make the ultimate decision to flip the table altogether, sending everything and everyone flying.

Hmmm. Very funny, but stress relief? Science knows effective stress relief to be much more about consciously controlling the body's built-in stress response than it is about fantasy "venting."

WebMD has a good overview article on stress that includes the following sound information:

What Are the Warning Signs of Stress?
Chronic stress can wear down the body's natural defenses, leading to a variety of physical symptoms, including:

  • Dizziness or a general feeling of "being out of it"
  • General aches and pains
  • Grinding teeth, clenched jaw
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion or acid reflux symptoms
  • Increase in or loss of appetite
  • Muscle tension in neck, face or shoulders
  • Problems sleeping
  • Racing heart
  • Cold and sweaty palms
  • Tiredness, exhaustion
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Upset stomach, diarrhea
  • Sexual difficulties

Tips for Reducing Stress
People can learn to manage stress and lead happier, healthier lives. Here are some tips to help you keep stress at bay.

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10 habits that will help keep even the busiest people healthy and sane

Habit #1

Take 40 deep, slow breaths, from your diaphragm, one or two at a time, spread throughout your day. Don't try to make up for ones you didn't do earlier; if you do too many at one time, you can hyperventilate. Rather, associate it with a regular occurrence, such as the telephone ringing, traffic noise, or a glance at the clock. See for yourself how effective this practice can be.

Habit #2

Set aside fifteen- or twenty-minute relaxation periods away from your phone and from any other kind of interruption. You can use breaks at work for this. A tape or CD can assist in developing relaxation skills. Rather than trying to maximize your efficiency by using every available minute to get things accomplished, you'll find that you actually get more (and better) work done by taking time out to release internalized stress. You'll see results in about four to six weeks.

Habit #3

Regular aerobic exercise — walking, jogging, swimming, biking, etc. — for just twenty minutes three times a week improves your ability to handle stress. Even more than that is better still, but be careful against injuries!

Habit #4

Remember: all things in moderation. Consider what you eat and drink, and choose sensibly. Don't use caffeine, alcohol or other drugs to cope with stress. They undermine your body's ability to defend against (and recover from) the effects of stress.

Learn more »

More biofeedback in the news

Interesting piece at PsychCentral about biofeedback being used to treat panic and anxiety disorders. Highlights:

An new online treatment system will provide real-time care by combining patient-provider communication with physiological biofeedback to assist patients suffering with panic disorder and anxiety problems.

The Taiwan-based team has coupled a wireless-enabled finger-ring device that measures skin temperature with a web-enabled system. The system provides a convenient channel for communication between patients and health care workers as well as allowing hospital staff to allow patients to ask questions and download pertinent information.

The increasing pace of life, the industrialization of society, and the advent of digital technology are all thought to underlie the growing prevalence of mental illness. Disorders, such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression are now diagnosed more frequently than ever before.

Panic disorders are not easily diagnosed but do represent chronic illness for countless patients and lead to hospitalization with increasing frequency.

Patients are taught muscle and mental relaxation exercises and how to observe the effects of these on their skin temperature, thus providing a biofeedback mechanism.

Once the patients learned the cues for relaxation and the method to obtain rapid relaxation, they were able to apply the methods and cues to relieve the symptoms of panic disorder.