Mindfulness, Hiring, Org Dev & Cool Stuff
Hello Dear Friends, 
Relaxation may be the most underrated skill we see in our work with leaders today. Many of us have a conscious or unconscious belief that being really busy is somehow good for us. And we feel guilty if we are not pushing all the time. I hold a different point of view. 


Several years ago a group of us attended a multi-day workshop held at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando. Founded by sports Psychologist Jim Loehr, the Institute has coached numerous individuals to become world number one’s in their respective sport, and has conducted hundreds of studies on peak performance. While there, we were asked a provocative question: What is the primary factor that separates world class athletes from world number one athletes? None of us guessed the right answer. The answer was rest and recovery or in one word, relaxation. The best in the world know how to relax better. Powerful. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, the proven benefits of relaxation include: 

  • Slowing heart rate

  • Lowering blood pressure

  • Slowing your breathing rate

  • Improving digestion

  • Maintaining normal blood sugar levels

  • Reducing activity of stress hormones

  • Increasing blood flow to major muscles

  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain

  • Improving concentration and mood

  • Improving sleep quality

  • Lowering fatigue

  • Reducing anger and frustration

  • Boosting confidence to handle problems

Additionally, when we know how to relax, we become safer, more approachable people. The people we lead feel that they can talk to us. We are more predictable and more stable. Big benefits. 


If we are tense and tight, our body contracts, our mind contracts, and we are less flexible in general. Do you want to work for a leader like that? Of course not. 


For most of us, relaxation does not come easily. That’s perfectly fine. No worries. Everyone can improve their ability to relax, and relaxation does take practice. A wonderful way to start is a technique called Progressive Muscle Relaxation. The technique was developed by American physician Edmund Jacobson and presented first in 1908 at Harvard University. His work led to the use of the word “relax,” in the sense of "to become less tense, anxious or stressed, to calm down.” Sounds good to me.


Progressive muscle relaxation is an exercise that relaxes your mind and body by progressively tensing and relaxing muscle groups throughout your entire body. In traditional behavioral therapy where this techniques has been used extensively for decades, the entire practice takes up to an hour, but you can also begin to experience the benefits with a much shorter session like the one we are about to begin.  If you have any pain or discomfort at any of the targeted muscle groups feel free to omit that step. And if you have any medical condition that would prevent you from doing this, that’s fine as well. There are many, many other methods that work equally well.


Ready to relax? 

-Rick Breden, CEO
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