Today, our friend Ed Blunderfield is discussing a set of integrated stress management tools he created in partnership with his father, a psychiatrist. Below, Ed is explaining how The Mindset Course and the Open Dialogue App can help you learn how to rethink your stress and cultivate a healthy mindset. As we’ve discussed in the past, health is about so much more than just what you eat or how much you exercise. Mental health is such an important piece of the puzzle.
Enjoy this article!
Everybody experiences stress; sometimes it can be overwhelming and hold us back from making progress in the areas that matter most in our life.
But we can rethink stress, and relate to it in a new way — a way that allows us to actually grow and thrive in stressful environments.
While working in a high-stress environment at a management consulting firm, I realized the importance of actively cultivating a healthy mind — just like we do with our bodies. This led me to team up with my father, a psychiatrist, to develop a set of integrated stress management tools that teach foundational life skills for managing stress and cultivating a healthy mindset.
Open Dialogue is the first technology platform that teaches concepts about stress, and then enables you to talk freely and confidentially with an A.I. program about your own personal stress factors, in natural language.
The program is anonymous and self-directed, which helps people get past two of the biggest hurdles associated with mental health. For many people this is a more engaging experience as well, and therefore promotes an ongoing investment in their personal development.
When you first sign up for Open Dialogue, your learning journey begins with a 4-week online course called The Mindset Course. Through short, video-based sessions, you are given practical exercises and evidence-based strategies for reframing stress and negative thoughts in order to support a healthier, more productive mindset from day one.
Each week has just one session and each session lasts roughly 10-15 minutes. The lesson includes a simple but powerful exercise for you to practice throughout the week that immediately helps you relate more wisely to your stress, and provides the foundation for the lessons that follow.
At the end of the course you are introduced to the Open Dialogue app, an interactive program you can use going forward to actively manage your stress and strengthen the skills taught in the course.
Open Dialogue is unique in that you are not being fed advice or told what to do. Instead, you’re meant to pay close attention to what you write, and then consider the program’s response and see what new ideas that sparks for you.
The effort you put into articulating yourself with the program helps you to rephrase the topic or challenge you’re working with, which in turn makes it more solvable.
Have you heard of the Yerkes Dodson curve? It is a powerful framework for thinking about how to work more skillfully with stress.
When we're on the far-right side of the curve (i.e. our state of arousal or stress is too high) it's difficult to step back from our situation to problem-solve or strategize. In this case, to help lower our emotional amplitude, studies show that practicing slow, deep and controlled diaphragmatic (belly) breathing can promote relaxation and lower stress-related hormones such as cortisol.
Sometimes we can be too far to the left, as well. This is when we're not bringing enough of ourselves to the task at hand, and can't recruit the energy and resources necessary to get things going. In this case, physical movement can have a transformative impact on your state. If you’ve been at your desk for too long, get up and go for a short, brisk walk. If you’re having trouble simply getting started with your next task, employ the two-minute rule and commit to doing just two minutes of whatever the activity is. You will often find that once you’ve started, momentum begins to build.
If we try and keep this Yerkes Dodson curve in the back of our minds, and study it often, we become much more likely to catch ourselves before we are completely overwhelmed with stress. We can remind ourselves that often what we need to do first is adjust our emotional amplitude / arousal level, and then come back to the task of problem-solving whatever is causing our stress.
If you're interested in learning more about Open Dialogue and The Mindset Course, head to the website here. My team and I are offering a two-week free trial and are excited to work with more of the HEAL community!
Written by: Ed Blunderfield