Stress Management 101: Teach Employees How to Breathe

By Werner Absenger Chef de Cuisine, Cygnus 27 at Amway Grand Plaza | April 27, 2014

Controlled Breathing: The Most Basic of Mind-body Techniques

Noticing your breathing pattern and being able to change breathing from tension producing to one of relaxation is a simple and crucial mind-body technique. 
Meditation and deep-breathing form the foundation for many other mind-body techniques (1).

When we are stressed, many of us tend to breathe shallowly. This shallow breathing elevates blood pressure, heart rate and raises anxiety. Deep breathing, either gently in meditation or rapidly during chaotic breathing increase the body’s capacity to draw in oxygen and free carbon dioxide. 
Deep breathing calms the mind and engages the body’s natural relaxation response. 
Deep breathing also decreases blood pressure, reduces heart rate and promotes cardiac function. It is also beneficial for other stress-related conditions such as diabetes, intestinal problems, asthma, chronic pain, depression and anxiety(1).

The appreciation of the significance of breath is detected in the word “inspiration.” The name for taking in breath also suggests that one is “inspired,” “excited,” “ennobled,” or “turned on” by life. Respiration is the only system of the body that is both automatic and voluntary. Breathing goes on without us having to think about it. Breathing also can be controlled(1).

Breathing has this excellent adaptability about it. It is always there, always accessible for use, and we can shape breathing. As we form our breath, as we regulate its depth or shallowness or its rate, we can also modify many other functions in the body(1).

Breathing is responsive to emotional states and can also shape emotional states. When you are stressed, breathing is shallow and hurried, and the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated. The body wants more oxygen to go to the large muscles, so it can either run away or fight. If you are ready for a fight or you are trying to run, you need a rush of energy and adrenalin. If this state persists, it can cause a variety of physical problems(1).

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Eco-Friendly Practices: The Greening of Your Bottom Line

There are strong moral and ethical reasons why a hotel should incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business but it is also becoming abundantly clear that “going green” can dramatically improve a hotel's bottom line. When energy-saving measures are introduced - fluorescent bulbs, ceiling fans, linen cards, lights out cards, motion sensors for all public spaces, and energy management systems - energy bills are substantially reduced. When water-saving equipment is introduced - low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and serving water only on request in restaurants - water bills are also considerably reduced. Waste hauling is another major expense which can be lowered through recycling efforts and by avoiding wastefully-packaged products. Vendors can be asked to deliver products in minimal wrapping, and to deliver products one day, and pick up the packaging materials the next day - generating substantial savings. In addition, renewable sources of energy (solar, geothermal, wind, etc.) have substantially improved the economics of using alternative energies at the property level. There are other compelling reasons to initiate sustainability practices in their operation. Being green means guests and staff are healthier, which can lead to an increase in staff retention, as well as increased business from health conscious guests. Also, sooner or later, all properties will be sold, and green hotels will command a higher price due to its energy efficiencies. Finally, some hotels qualify for tax credits, subsidies and rebates from local, regional and federal governments for the eco-friendly investments they've made in their hotels. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating sustainable practices into their operations and how their hotels are benefiting from them.