Stressed Out? Learn how to relax. Benson Relaxation Response.

Benson relaxation response is of the most helpful way to turn off fight or flight response and bring the body back to pre-stress levels that I have ever tried. It is a physical state of deep relaxation which engages the parasympathetic nervous system.

This technique  Benson Relaxation Response was developed by Dr. Herbert Benson, professor, author, cardiologist, and founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute.  The response can be defined as your personal ability to encourage your body to release chemicals and brain signals that make your muscles and organs slow down and increase blood flow to the brain.  Dr. Benson described many scientific benefits of relaxation, explaining that regular practice of the Relaxation Response can be a very powerful and effective treatment for a wide range of stress-related disorders.

How was it developed? Benson once wrote in his book where he demystified meditation and proved its benefits, “We claim no innovation but simply a scientific validation of age-old wisdom”. People from the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement, who felt they could reduce blood pressure using meditation, visited Harvard Medical School in 1968, asking to be studied. The school, which at the time was studying the relationship of monkeys’ behaviour and blood pressure, told them “No, thank you, not interested.” But when they persisted, Benson told them he would study them. That is how Benson Relaxation Response was developed.

Stress is a biological and psychological response experienced on encountering a threat or pressure that we feel we can’t to cope with.

Firstly, our body judges a situation and decides whether or not it is stressful or life threatening. This decision is made based on sensory input and processing (i.e. the things we see, feel or hear in the situation) and also based on past similar experiences. If the situation is judged as being stressful, the hypothalamus is activated that is a part of the brain in charge of the stress response. When a stress response is triggered, it sends signals to two other structures: the pituitary gland, and the adrenal medulla.  These short term responses are produced by The Fight or Flight Response.

One of the most valuable things we can do in life is to learn mindful relaxation – making an effort to spend some time every day quieting our wondering minds in order to create inner peace and better health.

When stress kicks in, our sympathetic system is activated that prepares the body to either fight or flight.  Once the ‘threat’ is over the parasympathetic branch takes control and brings the body back into a balanced state. The Relaxation Response is a helpful way to turn off fight or flight response and bring the body back to pre-stress levels. Dr. Benson describes the Relaxation Response as a physical state of deep relaxation which engages the other part of our nervous system—the parasympathetic nervous system.

Sometimes, it’s hard to switch off from ‘stressed out’ mode or we simply don’t know how. Benson Relaxation Response is a very powerful tool and if you use it regularly, you’ll see what difference can it make to you. I practice the breathing part quite frequently when I need to calm down or just as a mindful breathing exercise and I can always feel the benefits of it pretty much within 2-3 breaths. This is powerful!

The basic technique of concentrative meditation used to achieve significant levels of relaxation is essentially very simple. Four components are basic to all techniques of concentrative meditation: a quiet environment, a mental device, a passive attitude, and a comfortable position. Here’s how it works :

  1. Find a noise-free place where you won’t be disturbed. Sound, even background noise, may prevent the elicitation of the relaxation response. Select a convenient, suitable place, for example, a comfortable chair in a quiet room or you may prefer to lay down.
  2. Find a comfortable position and sit / lay down quietly.
  3. Close your eye.
  4. Relax your muscles in groups starting at your face and progress down to your toes.
  5. Focus on your breathing. Breathe naturally in through your nose and out through your mouth. Avoid letting your shoulders rise as you breathe.
  6. In your mind, say a number such as ‘one’ every time you breathe out.
  7. Continue for 5-20 minutes.
  8. Finish in your own time.

Remember not to worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation–maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace. When distracting thoughts occur, ignore them and continue to repeat the mantra as your breathe. The technique should be practiced once or twice daily, and not within two hours after any meal, since the digestive processes seem to interfere with the elicitation of the expected changes. With practice the relaxation response should come with little effort.

Below are some more tips for reducing cortisol levels every day and naturally calm yourself down:

  • Mindfulness – people who meditate daily for four months decreased the hormone by an average of 20%.
  • Music – music can have a calming effect on the brain.
  • Social connectivity – simply anticipating laughter is enough to reduce cortisol levels by nearly half.
  • Go to bed early.
  • Treat yourself for a massage
  • Eliminate caffeine – 200mg of caffeine increases blood cortisol levels by 30%.
  • Take anti-stress supplements such as vitamin B and minerals like magnesium, antioxidants like vitamin C or coenzyme Q10.
  • Use positive relaxation imagery
  • Switch off – have a relaxing bath, massage, read a book, etc.
  • Keep your blood sugar stable – try to avoid sugar in the diets and refined carbs. Eat frequent small meals balanced in protein and complex carbs.

 

Overall, implementation of targeted dietary and lifestyle approaches is an extremely powerful way to reduce stress, improve health and reduce the risk for illness and chronic disease.

If you have any questions regarding stress management or if you want to be coached on stress, please don’t hesitate to email me direct on hello@empoweredcoaching.pro.

Keep Calm & Breath!

References:

Benson, H. (1974).  Your innate asset for combating stress. Harvard Business Review. 54, 4.

Mitchell, M., (2013), Dr Herbert Benson’s relaxation response, [Online], Available: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/heart-and-soul-healing/201303/dr-herbert-benson-s-relaxation-response

Palmer, S. and Cooper, C., (2015), How to deal with stress, Hong Kong and Croydon: Kogan Page Limited.

Svoboda, E., (2011) 8 Ways to Beat Your Stress Hormone, [Online], Available: http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/how-lower-cortisol-manage-stress

Advertisements

Benefits of Business Coaching: Why investing in yourself is the next big thing?

What is business coaching?
Benefits of business coaching
How to find the right business coach for you

Business Coaching by Empowered Coaching
Business Coaching by Empowered Coaching

What is business coaching? What are the benefits of business coaching?
How to find the right business coach for you?

What is business coaching and how it may benefit you? Do you want to lead by example and create positive influence? Do you want to dial up your game? We you hear these questions and it makes you wonder how can you accomplish these wonderful things? How can you boost motivation when you feel stuck and as a result miss out on some opportunities that are good for your business / work  / career? How can you get rid of self-doubting beliefs that block you from approaching a lucrative new client or ask for promotion? How can you improve certain skills that would enhance your performance such as communication skills and assertion?

When you reach certain level within your career, old fashioned training would not always work as you need an individual approach to tackle one challenge at a time at your own pace and learning style, at your own priority level. This is the most effective way to enhance personal development and achieve desired results.

So what is the solution here? Get yourself a business coach.

Coaching aims to bring the best in people in order to help them facilitate change in their lives and achieved preferred outcome. Building awareness and responsibility is the essence of good coaching. Business coaching is all over the above but set within a business environment.  Business coaching in organisations is becoming more popular as companies realise that they can improve both the performance and motivation of their employees through coaching. Or you can hire a business coach yourself.

Coaching unlocks a person’s potential and maximises their performance as well as helping people learn rather than teaching them. This is called guided discovery.

The essence of coaching can be defined as follows:

  • To help a coachee change in the way they wish and helping them go in the direction they want to go.
  • Coaching supports a person at every level in becoming who they want to be.
  • Coaching builds awareness empowers choice and leads to change

According to the Association Resources Centre and PWC survey, coachees who had business coaching reported improvements in the following areas:

  • Self-confidence – 80%
  • Communication skills – 72%
  • Interpersonal skills – 71%
  • Work performance – 70%
  • Relationship – 73%
  • Work/life balance – 63%

Business coaching: Feel Empowered. Achieve goals. Dial up your game.

Things to look out for when you are looking for a coach that are worth highlighting:

  • Education / Training – where have they completed their coaching training? Is the course accredited by the Association of Coaching UK / International Coach Federation or other reputable institution? Coaching is not regulated in the UK so unfortunately there are a lot of people who call themselves a coach but have no valid training or qualifications to support this claim. Be mindful and always check for relevant qualifications.
  • Coaching experience – how long have they been practicing coaching? Not NLP, not consulting, not training but pure coaching? Even though some coaches use NLP techniques such as anchoring, in essence NLP and coaching are two very different things. Likewise, if someone has tons of training / consulting experience but little coaching experience, this may affect their coaching style as they may be too direct and be in ‘consulting’ mode giving out suggestions or advice.  Coaching promotes facilitative style and this mean a coach adapts his/her style to reflect your style / coaching purpose / etc. This is called being a natural chameleon and it only comes with coaching practice and appropriate training/ supervision. We don’t give advice in coaching or tell you what to do, the whole point here that you come to your own conclusions. Guided discovery all the way.
  • Personal development – continued professional development is key in coaching as it is fairly new discipline and new techniques / approaches are emerging all the time. You have to be ahead of the game yourself to be able to drive your coachees to excel.
  • Coach’s expertise vs your purpose – What sort of skill set do they bring into coaching? What is their previous experience?  My advice – look for a business / executive coach who has an expertise or previous experience in your area. This is called niche or specialist coaching. This may be a more expensive option but it’s well worth it. A coach that works in a niche area would have a deeper understanding of the challenges you face in this particular field. If you want to go for a massage, you choose a particular type based on your needs. If you want to relax, you go for a relaxation aromatherapy type not a deep tissue sports one, right? Same rule applies to coaching. Identify the purpose of your coaching be it skills development such as communication / presentation skills / assertion, or sales performance enhancement or stress management, research who’s best within this areas and arrange an initial chat. For example, I have over 12 years of hospitality experience, 7 of which in corporate sales and events. This is my niche and expertise.
  • Initial free session and chemistry – Most coaches would offer free no obligation 20-30 minutes sessions so you can answer any questions, discuss the purpose of coaching and then you can decide whether you wish to go ahead with this coach. You need to find your person otherwise it won’t work. If you are not completely sure about the process or techniques they use or their coaching style, if you feel like you didn’t click – you need someone else. It doesn’t mean they are bad, it just simply means you need a coach with different skill set and approach. If you work in fast paced environment such as sale, you need someone with no-nonsense approach. Rainbows and unicorns won’t work here. Don’t be afraid to say this or don’t feel bad about it either. You need to put your needs here first and this is not being selfish, I call it enlightened self-interest. It’s your goal and you are your own best expert. If there is no coaching chemistry in the process, if you didn’t fully connect, look for a new coach.
  • Accreditation and membership – the main coaching body in the UK is the Association for Coaching. Accreditation and membership ensure a coach has a certain level of training, experience and supervision as well as continued  professional development. This also means a coach follows a code of professional ethics.

Professional coaching brings many wonderful benefits: fresh perspectives on personal challenges, enhanced decision-making skills, greater interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence. And, the list does not end there. Those who undertake coaching also can expect appreciable improvement in productivity, satisfaction with life and work, and the attainment of relevant goals.  Overall coaching can focus on any aspect of a person’s life in assisting personal growth on all fronts.

If you have any questions about how business coaching can benefit you or your company, please feel free to email me direct and I’d be happy to help. My email is hello@empoweredcoaching.pro

FEEL EMPOWERED. ACHIEVE GOALS. DIAL UP YOUR GAME.

References:

De Vries, MK. (2015). Finding gravitas. [Online], Available: http://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/finding-gravitas-4248.

International Coaching Community, What is Coaching? [Online], Available: http://www.internationalcoachingcommunity.com/en/what-is-coaching.

International Coach Federation, Benefits of Using a Coach, [Online], Available: http://coachfederation.org/need/landing.cfm?ItemNumber=747.

International Coach Federation (2017), Executive presence and why it is essential to any coaching career. [Online], Available: https://coachfederation.org/blog/index.php/8325/ .

Kaufman, D. and Fetters, M.L. J.  (1983). The Executive Suite: Are Women Perceived as Ready for the Managerial Climb? Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 2, No. 3, Women and Work, pp. 203- 212.

Neenan, M., and Palmer, S., (2012), Cognitive Behavioural Coaching in Practice. An Evidence Based Approach, East Sussex: Routledge

Neenan, M., and Palmer, S., (2001), Cognitive Behavioural Coaching, Stress News, Vol.13 No.13.

Starr, J., (2010), The Coaching Manual. The Definite Guide to the Process, Principles and Skills of personal Coaching, Third Edition, [Online], Available https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ONBIcw_USoUC&pg=PT12&lpg=PT12&dq=where+does+coaching+come+from&source=bl&ots=sbu0IRhLtB&sig=xGR77CDWq2vb8vb5W99lj_U8K5s&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwioq-LA8s_OAhXHCsAKHfybDbI4ChDoAQgoMAI#v=onepage&q&f=false.

Self-esteem: How do we form and maintain it? Self-esteem trap.

 

Improving or boosting self-esteem has been discussed for a long time now but yet it is still a very touchy subject for many of us. Why does it hurt so much when our self-esteem is being knocked down? How do we form our self-esteem and what makes it stick? Why we tend to fall into a self-esteem trap all the time and how to avoid it? Let’s look into this in more details.

Self-esteem is as ‘an elementary endowment of human nature’ and can also been seen as a discrepancy between what one actually is and what one could ideally be. Cambridge dictionary defines self-esteem as ‘the belief and confidence in your own ability and value’. Word ‘esteem’ is derived from a verb ‘to estimate’ which means to give something or someone a rating.

Self-downing and self-depreciating beliefs are typically rooted through childhood experiences as children assume that they are equivalent to their actions and reinforced over lifetime if not challenged. Once irrational beliefs are embedded in our minds, they tend to be continually reinforced and maintained by individuals reminding themselves – i.e. ‘I must perform well otherwise I am a total failure’.

Formation of global self-esteem happens through a process of self-evaluation – How good or bad am I in comparison to: a) other people; b) me in the  past or future self; c) what others think I am? or reflective appraisal; d) how big is the discrepancy between my actual and my ideal self-views? also called self-discrepancy. Reflective appraisals is the most important type of self-evaluation and this is exactly why we worry so much and too much about what others might thinks about us – in other words individuals view themselves the same way they believe others view them and derive their self-worth through internalising others’ attitudes and judgements towards oneself.

Low self-esteem has related issues which are fear of failure, worthlessness and perfectionism. If low self-esteem affects psychological well-being and performance in one domain of ones life such as work, other self-domains will also be affected and should also be examined by a coach.

Self-esteem is built on the basis of external factors such as:

  • Achievements
  • Material possessions
  • Effective performance
  • Attractiveness
  • Competence in personally significant areas
  • Being loved
  • Being a good parent or husband / wife
  • Having a satisfactory job
  • Being approved by significant others

Self-esteem may lead to a loss of identity if favourable conditions are reversed. Self-esteem trap occurs when people can potentially set themselves to fail as some of the external factors may be unattainable or lost at some point in time. Low self-esteem can often set up a cycle of avoidance and procrastination especially among rigid perfectionists.

Research shows the following characteristics of people with low self-esteem such  as withdrawn/shy/quiet, insecure, underachieving, negative attitude, unhappy, socially inept, angry/hostile, unmotivated, etc

People with low self-esteem are more troubled by failure and tend to exaggerate events as being negative.

If you have low self-esteem you may feel:

  • Like you hate or dislike yourself
  • Worthless or not good enough
  • Unable to make decisions or assert yourself
  • Like no one likes you
  • You blame yourself for things that aren’t your fault
  • Guilt for spending time or money on yourself
  • Unable to recognise your strengths
  • Undeserving of happiness
  • Low in confidence

Cognitive Behavioural Coaching emphasises the message that humans are fallible and imperfect by nature  and coachees are encouraged to accept themselves as imperfect, complex, ever changing human beings and to only rate specific aspects of themselves such as acts, deeds, thoughts or feelings, etc. We will talk about how developing self-acceptance can help improve low self-esteem in the next blog post.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – anastasia@execsalescoaching.com

References:

Beck, AT., (1991), Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders, New York: Penguin Inc.

Cambridge Dictionary, Self-Esteem, [Online],  Available: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/self-esteem, [22/08/2016].

Ellis, A and Ellis, DJ. (2013), Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, Washington DC: American Psychological Association

McLoed, S., (20120,  Low Self-Esteem, [Online], Available: http://www.simplypsychology.org/self-esteem.html, [24/09/2016].

MIND, How to increase your self-esteem, [Online], Available: http://mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-esteem/#.V-QVVfkrLIU, [22/09/2016].

Neenan, M. and Dryden, W., (2006), Cognitive Therapy: 100 Key points and techniques, London and New York: Routledge.

Neenan, M. and Palmer, S., (2012), Cognitive Behavioural Coaching in Practice. An Evidence Based Approach, East Sussex: Routledge.

NHS, (2014),  Raising low self-esteem, [Online], Available: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/mentalhealth/Pages/Dealingwithlowself-esteem.aspx, [22/08/2016].

Palmer, S. and Cooper, C., (2015), How to seal with stress, Hong Kong and Croydon: Kogan Page Limited.

Palmer, S. and Szymanska, K., (2008), Cognitive behavioural coaching. An  integrative approach in Palmer, S. and Whybrow, A., (2008), Handbook of coaching Psychology.  A guide for practitioners, London and New York: Routledge.

Palmer, S. and Whybrow, A., (2008), Handbook of coaching Psychology.  A guide for practitioners, London and New York: Routledge.

Self-esteem: How do we form and maintain it and how and what gets us into a self-esteem trap?

Sales Performance Coaching

Improving or boosting self-esteem has been discussed for a long time now but yet it is still a very touchy subject for many of us. Why does it hurt so much when our self-esteem is being knocked down? How do we form our self-esteem and what makes it stick? Why we tend to fall into a self-esteem trap all the time and how to avoid it? Let’s look into this in more details.

Self-esteem is as ‘an elementary endowment of human nature’ and can also been seen as a discrepancy between what one actually is and what one could ideally be. Cambridge dictionary defines self-esteem as ‘the belief and confidence in your own ability and value’. Word ‘esteem’ is derived from a verb ‘to estimate’ which means to give something or someone a rating.

Self-downing and self-depreciating beliefs are typically rooted through childhood experiences as children assume that they are equivalent to their actions and reinforced over lifetime if not challenged. Once irrational beliefs are embedded in our minds, they tend to be continually reinforced and maintained by individuals reminding themselves – i.e. ‘I must perform well otherwise I am a total failure’.

Formation of global self-esteem happens through a process of self-evaluation – How good or bad am I in comparison to: a) other people; b) me in the  past or future self; c) what others think I am? or reflective appraisal; d) how big is the discrepancy between my actual and my ideal self-views? also called self-discrepancy. Reflective appraisals is the most important type of self-evaluation and this is exactly why we worry so much and too much about what others might thinks about us – in other words individuals view themselves the same way they believe others view them and derive their self-worth through internalising others’ attitudes and judgements towards oneself.

Low self-esteem has related issues which are fear of failure, worthlessness and perfectionism. If low self-esteem affects psychological well-being and performance in one domain of ones life such as work, other self-domains will also be affected and should also be examined by a coach.

Self-esteem is built on the basis of external factors such as:

  • Achievements
  • Material possessions
  • Effective performance
  • Attractiveness
  • Competence in personally significant areas
  • Being loved
  • Being a good parent or husband / wife
  • Having a satisfactory job
  • Being approved by significant others

Self-esteem may lead to a loss of identity if favourable conditions are reversed. Self-esteem trap occurs when people can potentially set themselves to fail as some of the external factors may be unattainable or lost at some point in time. Low self-esteem can often set up a cycle of avoidance and procrastination especially among rigid perfectionists.

Research shows the following characteristics of people with low self-esteem such  as withdrawn/shy/quiet, insecure, underachieving, negative attitude, unhappy, socially inept, angry/hostile, unmotivated, etc

People with low self-esteem are more troubled by failure and tend to exaggerate events as being negative.

If you have low self-esteem you may feel:

  • Like you hate or dislike yourself
  • Worthless or not good enough
  • Unable to make decisions or assert yourself
  • Like no one likes you
  • You blame yourself for things that aren’t your fault
  • Guilt for spending time or money on yourself
  • Unable to recognise your strengths
  • Undeserving of happiness
  • Low in confidence

Cognitive Behavioural Coaching emphasises the message that humans are fallible and imperfect by nature  and coachees are encouraged to accept themselves as imperfect, complex, ever changing human beings and to only rate specific aspects of themselves such as acts, deeds, thoughts or feelings, etc. We will talk about how developing self-acceptance can help improve low self-esteem in the next blog post.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – hello@empoweredcoaching.pro.

References:

Beck, AT., (1991), Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders, New York: Penguin Inc.

Cambridge Dictionary, Self-Esteem, [Online],  Available: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/self-esteem, [22/08/2016].

Ellis, A and Ellis, DJ. (2013), Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, Washington DC: American Psychological Association

McLoed, S., (20120,  Low Self-Esteem, [Online], Available: http://www.simplypsychology.org/self-esteem.html, [24/09/2016].

MIND, How to increase your self-esteem, [Online], Available: http://mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-esteem/#.V-QVVfkrLIU, [22/09/2016].

Neenan, M. and Dryden, W., (2006), Cognitive Therapy: 100 Key points and techniques, London and New York: Routledge.

Neenan, M. and Palmer, S., (2012), Cognitive Behavioural Coaching in Practice. An Evidence Based Approach, East Sussex: Routledge.

NHS, (2014),  Raising low self-esteem, [Online], Available: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/mentalhealth/Pages/Dealingwithlowself-esteem.aspx, [22/08/2016].

Palmer, S. and Cooper, C., (2015), How to seal with stress, Hong Kong and Croydon: Kogan Page Limited.

Palmer, S. and Szymanska, K., (2008), Cognitive behavioural coaching. An  integrative approach in Palmer, S. and Whybrow, A., (2008), Handbook of coaching Psychology.  A guide for practitioners, London and New York: Routledge.

Palmer, S. and Whybrow, A., (2008), Handbook of coaching Psychology.  A guide for practitioners, London and New York: Routledge.