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Course seeks to reduce stress

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BY COREY DAVIS
Staff Writer

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A local medical facility and a health organization have formed a partnership to help professionals in the health care and human services fields deal with the everyday tension and anxiety that comes with their jobs.

Boice-Willis Clinic and Area L AHEC recently announced that they will offer the first nationally recognized Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction eight-week course in the Twin Counties that will begin with an orientation session at 6 p.m. Aug. 16 at the newly completed Boice-Willis Clinic at 91 Enterprise Drive.

The introduction meeting will be conducted via a web-based seminar and the additional eight classes will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. beginning Sept. 18 and running through Nov. 13 at Boice-Willis Clinic. The course also includes a Day of Mindefulness Retreat on Oct. 27.

Dr. Jeff Brantley, instructor of the course, is the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham. The course is identified by the American Medical Association as an evidence-based approach to experiencing a greater sense of health and well-being.

Debby Futhrell, president and CEO of Area L AHEC, said the target audience for the stress reduction classes is largely health care professionals, but attendance can also come from first responders, medical students and clergy because of the demands of those career fields in dealing with the public.

Dr. Martha Chesnutt, chief medical officer at Boice-Willis Clinic, said it’s exciting to offer this class in collaboration with Area L AHEC. Reports said the Mindful Based Stress Reduction course is prescribed by physicians for management of stress, hypertension, an adjunctive treatment for cancer, chronic pain, chronic anxiety and healthful aging.

“It will benefit the community as well as medical providers,” Chesnutt said. “Physician burnout and caregiver fatigue impacts approximately 40 percent of American physicians, so having this class as a resource for community physicians is a true benefit. Mindful Based Stress Reduction is a tool that physicians can use to foster resilience to battle burnout.”

The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course will use methods such as breathing techniques, meditation and yoga to cultivate awareness and reduce stress, said Alice Schenall, associate director of community relations at Area L AHEC.

Mindfulness has been reported to improve health, help one live longer, build creativity and increase happiness. The course will help participants recognize negative patterns of reactivity triggered by stressors and utilize mindfulness to develop alternative responses to stress.

“We know this course isn’t a magic bullet — however, we’re hoping that participants will experience a restored joy,” Schenall said. “In a lot of cases, health care professionals feel defeated sometimes, and they really don’t feel like they’re doing what they were trained to do, especially with the changes in electronics. ... We want that person that went to school to be a nurse because he or she loved helping sick people or that doctor that went to medical school and felt like they were answering a call and a purpose, we want them to have that joy restored.”

Schenall added the course also can be a remedy for other difficult issues people face in life.

“This process is being helpful with all types of problems like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), depression, high blood pressure and suicidal thinking,” Schenall said. “It doesn’t replace going to a provider or practitioner to take care of it, but it’s something that can complement it.”

For more information or to register for the eight-week course, visit https://www.arealahec.org/courses-and-events/55977/mbsr-mindfulness-based-stress-reduction.

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