The University Record, June 6, 1994

Music, massage release tensions and work as stress-reduction strategies

By Diane Swanbrow
News and Information Services

As workloads have increased throughout the ’90s, so has the level of job stress. Kristen Storey, a staff development assistant at Human Resource Development, and Minda Hart, the owner of Earth Wisdom Music in Ann Arbor, offered a workshop on conventional and unconventional stress reduction strategies. The Michigan League’s Kalamazoo Room was packed for the May 24 session.

Storey began by asking participants to inventory the stressful working conditions they face and to describe the resulting stress symptoms they experience, from irritability and overeating to chest pains and high blood pressure. “You can’t direct the wind,” Storey’s packet of hand-outs noted, “but you can adjust your sails.”

Among the 10-point strategy she discussed for managing work-related stress were the following suggestions: Evaluate the causes and effects of work stress. Determine your priorities. Maintain perspective. Establish a support system. After discussing these and other rational, left-brain stress-reduction techniques, Storey introduced “the fun part of the program,” presented by Hart.

The healing power of music was Hart’s theme, illustrated by selections from a wide range of artists, including George Winston, Ray Lynch and Robert Gass. But Hart went beyond the restorative and invigorating power of sound, describing how to use visualization to handle office stress. “If you have a lot of tension, imagine whatever’s bothering you as black smoke and blow it out,” she said. “Then inhale smoke the color of whatever emotion you need.”

The most popular part of the workshop was Hart’s demonstration of various massage techniques, designed to release tension that accumulates in the body. “You can do it yourself,” she said, showing participants how to massage their foreheads, necks and shoulders. “But it feels much better when someone does it for you.”