Stress is going through the roof for many organisations and their employees. Craig Donaldson road tests a paradigm-changing solution: HeartMath Australasia’s Transforming Stress workshop
Many organisations are struggling with the ques
tion of how to reduce stress in the workforce.
This problem is further exacerbated by the or
ganisational fallout of the economic downturn
such as restructures, redundancies and in
creased pressure to make budgets.
Stress can play a big role in affecting both
general health and wellbeing as well as prevent
ing peak performance and productivity in the
workplace. With this in mind, the Institute of
HeartMath has developed a workshop called
Transforming Stress – a practical half-day work
shop designed to help participants respond ef
fectively to and manage pressure, emotional
challenge, stress and change.
The Institute of HeartMath is a non-profit re
search organisation and globally recognised au
thority on the physiology of and relationship be
tween stress and emotions. With a client list
including McKinsey, AT&T, Harley-Davidson,
HSBC, Motorola, Boeing, Stanford Graduate
School of Business and the US military, the insti
tute has spent 15 years decoding stress and de
veloping a unique system to quantifiably and
dramatically boost the health and performance
of individuals and organisations.
HeartMath conducts a number of workshops
around Australia, and the one reviewed here was
facilitated by Olivia de Bergerac, a PhD director
of HeartMath Australasia, in March at the headquarters of Good Health Solutions, Australia’s
largest provider of health services to corporates
and other organisations.
Based on the book Transforming Stress, by
Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman PhD (two of
HearthMath’s founders), this workshop is prima
rily designed to show attendees how to trans
form negative, stressful reactions into positive
solutions. HeartMath research has demonstrat
ed a critical link between the heart and emotions
and demonstrates how the heart responds to
emotional and mental reactions.
The basic principle of the workshop is that
stress and emotions cannot be separated,
and subtler or more mechanical everyday
emotional reactions tend to go unnoticed and
accumulate. It posits that, by staying in the
head, the options open to us in terms of how
we react (as opposed to choosing how to re
spond) to situations are limited largely to our
past experience and knowledge.
However, by getting “out of brain” and using
HeartMath’s process for tapping into the intelli
gence of the heart, this assists us in becoming
less reactive and responding in a more positive
and constructive way. It is a real-time stress in
tervention which, when practiced consistently,
leads to a peak performance state, also known
as being in the zone or flow.
The workshop examines how stress occurs
when our perception of events does not meet
our expectations and we are unable to manage
our reaction. It teaches, however, that by shifting
our perception we have the ability to reduce
stress and anxiety and increase harmony and
balance in the mind and body.
A number of techniques for transforming
stress are introduced, which are practised
throughout the workshop both individually and
in group activities. HeartMath has also devel
oped technology to measure positive states, and
this technology is employed towards the latter
end of the workshop to assist participants in be
coming familiar with the positive state brought
about by employing HeartMath techniques.
While these techniques are solidly based
in established scientific research, Hearth
Math is unconventional in what it teaches.
However, nothing new comes out of estab
lished convention, and at a time when busi
ness is grappling with the problem of in
creased stress, this workshop can bring
about a positive and much needed paradigm
shift for individuals and business.