Sacramento Public Library’s annual in-service day for all staff occurs in October. This year, the planning group took a break from strategic planning, and presented a day full of practical and fun sessions, similar to a conference. Each staff member selected three sessions to attend, and for each, received an entry in a drawing for a day of paid time off.
For me, the highlight of the day was the keynote speaker, the Stress Magician, Colin McKechnie, (http://www.colinspeaks.com). His talk about the chemical and physical elements of stress, illustrated by demos with volunteers and group exercises, was compelling. In particular, the demonstration of the changes in one volunteer’s heart rate projected on the big screen, was so astounding, that it had the audience murmuring in wonder.
Some of what he demonstrated seemed designed to illustrate the “magic” part. It used a technique Weight Watchers has in its arsenal, called “anchoring”. By touching something and associating thoughts and feelings with it, you can recall those thoughts and feelings whenever you touch that thing. The anchoring he demonstrated included coke cans, water bottles, and individual packets of a variety of sweeteners. And our hearts. By placing our hands over our hearts, we anchor feelings of well-being and happiness, our stress level decreases, and our heart rate slows.
In any case, the information about the brain and limbic system, and the manifested response of the volunteer’s heart rate to the anchoring exercises combined to make a memorable presentation, and gave us tools to monitor and reduce our stress at work and at home.
I remember someone saying that an instructor had her class do stress-reduction exercises before exams. Hmmm…