This workshop is relevant to all industries.
-With Nicholas Chapman
Introduction To Stress Management
Using the Alexander Technique as the core approach to stress management work, these workshops are aimed specifically at the nursing environment. Stress has become a big problem in the workplace. The HSE has issued its first ‘enforcement notice’ against an NHS hospital for failing to protect doctors and nurses form stress at work. There are a number of well-documented cases where a nurse has been successful in suing a hospital or nursing home for considerable sums. Whatever we believe about these issues there is a clear need for the management of these organisations to take seriously the threat of stress in the workplace. But what can we do about stress? How can we deal intelligently with something as abstract and seemingly unquantifiable as stress?
History of F M Alexander and his stress Management
F.M. Alexander born in 1869 and as a young man had a successful career in the theatre. A devastating vocal problem brought his work to a standstill. When doctors advised him that there was actually nothing wrong with his voice, he concluded that it must be something he was doing that was undermining his vocal performance. Alexander was in need of serious stress management. Something that was not really prevalent at the time.
After an intense period of study and analysis, the Alexander Technique was born. A complete system of re-education. Alexander had discovered certain fundamental truths about human behaviour, including the way we think, co-ordinate and move. Over a period of many years, he developed a technique which not only eliminated his vocal problems but also brought about remarkable improvements in his general health.
He realised that we could refine ourselves in fundamental ways that would improve our general health and ability to function. Applying his technique we could not only feel better, but we could also actually increase our aptitude, we could, put simply, do things better!
He then started to teach his method to others. Alexander came to London in 1901 and continued to develop and teach the Technique in London and America until he died in 1955.
There are now over 2000 teachers world-wide.
The workshops take on a practical and theoretical basis. This means that whilst experiencing a definite and strong sense of decreased stress and increased well being, the participants are able to learn ways in which they can themselves reduce stress in their working lives; they are able to see more clearly what stress is and how to prevent it from developing into something more serious. However, if stress has built up over time it is possible to use the methods taught in the workshop to start the process of unwinding, clearing accumulated stress, in fact very quickly and efficiently.
The experience of proper stress management both at the workshop and afterwards, alone, is a developmental process that has a variety of benefits. Not only in the obvious sense of increased well being but also in the way one feels about the workplace and oneself in it. People, who have had the opportunity to learn these stress management techniques fully, have found that their ability to perform the different functions of their jobs has vastly improved. It is well documented by the HSE (See Research Report 273, www.hse.gov.uk) that stress can lead to a variety of musculoskeletal problems, as well as the obvious effects on mental health and therefore the ability of staff to fulfil their functions within the working environment.
The workshops will provide the individual with the ability not only to deal with stress but also to improve aspects of manoeuvring and handling. The training that a nurse usually experiences in this area is very useful. However, it is actually limited as it does not take into consideration the workings of the psycho-physical. In other words, the relationship between the brain (mentation) and the musculoskeletal system, as it affects the actual functioning of the individual. For example, imagine a nurse trying to move a patient. The usual consideration would be to manoeuvre the patient by considering the position of both oneself and the patient. Using the Alexander Technique one is taught not only to be physically aware but also to be mentally aware in a way that is experiential and therefore difficult to explain in a document such as this. We touched on this in the workshop at Bridgeside Lodge (Forest Healthcare), when we introduced the idea of inhibition*. Before we moved or did anything we would say NO, no to tightening our muscles. This unnecessary tightening of muscle is the crux of both our levels of stress and our ability to perform physical functions, not only safely but with absolute certainty that we are not at risk of injury. Alexander Technique is about developing a continued awareness of our own bodies via our mental state, which is why it is an excellent tool for reducing stress and increasing effectiveness in the workplace. As well as learning inhibition the workshops will introduce direction. ‘Direction’ is a means whereby we can develop further our control over our stress levels and improve our physical capabilities in the working environment.
Using the Alexander Technique will lead to a more stress-free workplace where individuals are far more conscious of themselves both physically and mentally and whilst experiencing an increased sense of well being, will actually become far more efficient in their daily activities.
*Not to be confused with the Freudian use referring to anxiety, but the original use of the word; the action or process of inhibiting or being inhibited (from an action or activity).
Nick Chapman is a fully qualified Alexander Technique Teacher and is a member of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, the main body overseeing the technique in the UK.
Training took place at The Constructive Teaching Centre in Holland Park. The founder of this school, Walter Carrington was, until he recently passed away aged 90, one of the leading exponents in the country for the Alexander Technique. He trained under FM Alexander, the originator of the technique.
Since graduating in 2000 Nick Chapman has taught individuals and groups, developing the work by studying also Yoga and Reiki, into a stress management method that is both comprehendible and effective. The main outlet for the group work has been nursing staff, though workshops have been taken to a variety of different industries. A recent article in the Nursing Standards magazine (See attached) discussed the workshop that took place at Bridgeside Lodge Nursing Home. The workshop, although only an introduction was very well received. One nurse who had said very clearly at the outset that, ‘this sort of thing wasn’t her cup of tea’ was astounded and said she would definitely use these techniques in the future.
Workshops and Prices
A.Drop in workshop cost £30 per person.
One hour session Max 12
The aim of this workshop is to relieve stress and there is minimal learning involved. Participants will perform relaxation and will experience an increased sense of well being and a reduced stress level.
B.Introductory Workshop Cost £45 per person
Two Hour Session Max 12
This is an introduction to the Alexander Technique. It will establish a working method for reducing stress and develop ideas around movement habits that create stress and interfere with basic functioning.
C. Beginner and Advanced Cost £80 per person
2 x Two-hour workshops Max 12
In these two workshops we are able to develop a deeper understanding of the technique and its application to stress. We are also able to begin to understand the implications of the work in maneuvering and handling, learning how to move consciously, avoiding stress and the risk of injury.
D.Complete course Cost £180 per person
6 x Two Hour Workshops
This is a fully comprehensive introduction to the Alexander Technique. All of the working methods of the technique will be introduced. A significant reduction in stress will be noticed and the participants will be taught a complete method for maintaining this reduced stress. Whilst also having learnt all of the techniques participants should have a clear idea about how to apply the technique to maneuvering and handling. Practical exercises, based on real nursing situations will be explored. Back pain and general muscular pain will be significantly reduced.
Refresher courses will be available at a reduced rate for staff that have completed the six-week course.