Article as it appeared in Club Industry Magazine March 2001
Stressed spelled backwards is desserts, isn't that much more appealing?
And isn't that the challenge of programming in our clubs… to make the programs appealing? So how do we differentiate, how do we attract, offer value? Stress is nothing new, we all have it, whether it's good stress (no, that's not an oxymoron) or bad stress, it's becoming more and more a way of life. As we are working faster, longer, harder and juggling the demands of work/life balance, stress becomes a topic of necessity and interest.
As a professional trainer in the club industry and the "outside world", it is my humble opinion that any program should have humor, interaction, techniques that are readily applicable and user friendly and should inspire the attendees to action. The template I will use for stress management programming can be used for any topic, think of it as cross training.
A great cartoon, followed by some hints on the course outline, remember humor sells, picture speak louder than words, be creative.
Start the program by asking all attendees if they have stress in their life… after the laughter subsides, have them all write on their handout (yes, always give a handout for take home value) every stressor that they can possibly think of in all areas of their lives. After about a minute, have them all read them out loud at the same time (there will be more laughter… that's a good thing). When they finish their list, tell them to sit down, the last one standing will get a prize, from the simple… a bottle of aspirin or herbal supplement to cope with the fact that they had more stress than anyone or perhaps a massage or bath oil from the club spa or pro shop. You can then also use the exercise as a segue to the program starting with the importance of laughter in stress management and the development and nurturing of a sense of humor.
Dr. Norman Cousins in his famous book, The Healing Power of Humor talks about how he went into cancer remission through his use of humor and play. Suggestions for more humor in one's life begins by always asking your participants, remember you want interaction. Have one of them come up to a flip chart and record while others shout out their ideas on how to incorporate more humor and play in their lives. You can add to it with ideas such as watching funny movies or reading that which makes you laugh, go to comedy clubs, hang out with your funny friends, lighten up, do something outrageous, collect funny bumper sticker lines, or like I do, creative and funny names of businesses. Some of my favorite include a pooper scooper business whose slogan was "we're number 1, in a number 2 business". Create a humor journal by recording all the things that make you laugh every day, from things your kids said, to incidents you observed.
In my programs on coping and stress management, I look at four areas of one's life: personal, work, couple and family. Perhaps you divide your stress management programming into those four areas and offer one each week for a month and do it monthly or quarterly or seasonal like tax time, holiday time when people experience more than usual stress. I actually using a behaviorial instrument for each attendee so they can see exactly what area they need the most work in.
Divide the programs by these four key relationship coping resources:
Problem solving… the ability to deal directly with, not avoid, problems you face and make positive changes to resolve them,
Communicatons… the ability to honestly share thoughts and feelings with others to promote mutual understanding,
Closeness… a comfort level with others and the ability to connect with people in your environment,
Flexibility… an openness and ability to respond to change.
Give out a self scoring stress test or a humorous stress diet or stress cards where you can measure your stress levels by pressure with a finger and colors change or stress dots. Offer suggested reading lists, any book by Hans Selye, the "father of stress management". Have them list all their stressors, work in groups and have them written on the flip chart. Discuss how to recognize the symptoms of stress: sweaty palms, overeating, nail biting, you'll be amazed how many they come up with. After all that, start sharing tips on stress management: meditation, encourage your classes in yoga, take Fridays off for personal day, luxurious baths, hobbies, sports, gardening, volunteerism, prioritizing… Teach deep breathing exercises, progressive muscular relaxation, visualization. Bring in experts from Doctors to behaviorial specialists to professional speakers to spice up the programming.
The key to successful programming is the timing, promotion and perceived value of the offering to your members. If all else fails, use my three favorite stress tips:
See, you just laughed, didn't you? You're on your way!
- Use your master card to pay off your visa
- Make a to do list of things you've already done
- When someone says, "have a nice day", tell them you've made other plans.
Mikki Williams, CSP is a professional speaker, trainer, consultant, lifestyle coach, author, radio and tv personality, entrepreneur extraordinaire and stress management guru. IDEA's businessperson of the year and one of the highest rated presenters in the industry, she has shared her insights and inspirations worldwide. Contact her for information on any of the above mentioned products or services at 312-664-8447 in Chicago or email email@example.com or visit her website www.mikkiwilliams.com