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Well-being day at Forrest Hills

November 5, 2010

Tackling stress and enhancing well-being 

On November 3rd, which was National Stress Awareness Day, a group of small business owners gathered at Forrest Hills, near to the campus, for a one-day workshop organised by theInstitute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development at Lancaster University.   

In a morning devoted to physical aspects of health, attendees received instruction and vocal motivation from ex-Forces PTI Steve Cody.  Steve discussed the crucial role that personal motivation plays in any exercise program (or lack of).  He then demonstrated a range of movements and approaches to combining these into a fun but quick circuit.  Everyone present agreed that just 10 minutes of this ‘high intensity interval training’ approach can produce quite a sweat and be great fun. 

While one group enjoyed Steve’s instruction, others met with Chris Shaw, an expert practitioner of the Chinese martial arts.  Chris led people through a series of approaches from Qigong and Tai Chi.  The beneficial relaxing, stress diminishing and energising qualities of shaking, cicrcling, and slapping movements, as well as self-massage were are  all experienced, before the group were led through some good-natured exercises in pushing, being pushed, and avoiding external physical stresses.  The metaphorical lessons in this were clear to all, especially when after lunch, we turned to focus on themental aspects of stress, coping and well-being.  Former mental health nurse, now working as a stress and conflict resolution counsellor, Donna Burden led a group discussion on how stress manifests physically, how it links to depression, and what constitutes good mental health.  It was interesting to hear that exercise is first among the NIHCE guideline recommendations for the treatment of mild depression, reinforcing the value of the morning’s activities. 

The final session of the day was led by Jan Goss, who began a discussion on the topic of mindfulness before leading the group through a 25-minute long guided mindfulness meditation session.  It was good to have several attendees present who had previously worked with Jan’s methods, as they were able to vouch for the benefits which they had experienced from this practice.  

It was a packed day, but gave everyone a lot of things to incorporte into their own lives.  As I write, several participants have been in touch to confirm that DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) indicates that we managed to help them find the muscles that they had forgotten!

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