Dealing with stress is a major component of people’s lives. Those that deal with it better appear to have less physical and emotional problems, according to the medical community.
Dr. William Hale, a psychiatrist, who practices out of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, teaches a course in stress management. He has taught the “Mindfulness” course three times in Ottawa at Ransom Memorial Hospital. He gave a presentation on how it can affect people as the guest speaker at the First Friday Forum at Neosho County Community College last week.
“The hospital here is at the cutting edge in terms of bringing to this community stress management and mindfulness,” Hale said. “I want to talk about creating a mindful community here in Ottawa. Mindfulness has become mainstream in the last several years. It has become part of ordinary everyday culture. It is being applied now in business, education, healthcare and mental healthcare. Mindfulness is a practice of bringing attention to present moment experience and relating to present moment experience not judgmentally and conditionally.”
Hale said about one percent of Ottawa has now completed the course.
“Our mission is to advance the physical, psychological, organizational, civic, and social health in Ottawa and Franklin County,” he said. “There are conditions around us all the time that we don’t have any control over and they are not necessarily comfortable. Health issues, family, children, money, work, all of these are stressors that we all have in every day living.”
Hale said RMH is making the courses available at a reduced rate of $100 per person. It is an eight-week course on Tuesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The next course begins Sept. 18 and runs through Nov. 6. Those interested may visit www.ransom.org/education and choose stress management program from the menu to register.
Hale taught the course to several city leaders and leaders of other significant organizations in the past couple of years. He said a committee of people meet each month to map out strategy of how Ottawa and Franklin County can become more mindful.
“It is a big vision,” he said. “Mindfulness practice is training of attention. Majority of our moments our minds are wrapped up in something else. It is a minority of our moments in which we are actually present with our experience right now.”
Hale said we react to stress with our bodies, which leads to health issues, emotionally and with our thoughts.
“Mindfulness is a powerful way of developing skills in the body and mind of being present and not reacting to things,” Hale said.
Hale said only 31 percent of employees are engaged in their work, which means being motivated and committed to furthering the mission of the organization. He said 69 percent are disengaged or highly disengaged, which means many are sabotaging the organization.
He said students do better in school with mindfulness training.
“It is not surprising attentiveness improves in students,” Hale said. “They get better test scores and grades. Since they are less stressed, it is a major factor in getting better grades. These days for kids and adolescents, it is a high-stress world. The high performing adolescents are stressed because there are a lot of high performance demands on them. The socioeconomically disadvantaged kids are stressed because there are not as many resources for them and their families. There may be family dysfunction.”
Hale said mindfulness can be a powerful tool if used in the right manner.
“When people are more centered, more calm and more receptive to people around them that influences the people we are interacting with,” Hale said. “Mindfulness is some sense is contagious. If leaders in the community are more mindful, leaders have meaningful contact with large numbers of people that will have an effect. Bosses who practice mindfulness have happier employees.”