Beth Fisher-Yoshida: 3 Tips on Decreasing Stress and Cultivating Mindfulness

In a January 6th article for Psychology Today, M.S. in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program director Beth Fisher-Yoshida explores ways for us to calm our emotions by practicing mindfulness every day. It’s this facility with relaxation, she says, that can enable us to more successfully negotiate with others and arrive at better solutions.

1. Use your senses to get centered

In order to decrease agitation, she suggests cultivating positive, sensory triggers. “We can use our five senses to regain being calm, centered and feeling positive,” she writes. “For example, the sound of the ocean waves, the feel of the fur on our pet, the taste of home cooking. These triggers...help to recreate the condition we are in when engaging in our meditative, centering, or calming practice.”

2. Take a breather

Fisher-Yoshida also recommends deep breathing exercises. A longstanding relaxation technique, mindful respiration positively impacts our mood in the short-term while developing a better hormonal balance in the long-term. She explains that breathing more slowly helps regulate oxytocin and cortisol. “Oxytocin is the hormone that helps us feel good, connected and generous, while cortisol is the hormone that is associated with stress, and keeps us on guard, suspicious of danger. We need both, and being able to balance them in ways that make sense for us takes some mindfulness to develop.”

3. Open up and say "om"

She also proposes the quintessential mindfulness exercise – meditation. She adds a note of caution: “The time not to start a meditation practice is when we are in the middle of a difficult encounter…[when] beta brain waves associated with agitation are increasing.” She says, “Constant practice in low stress situations helps us develop our relaxation muscle so we can call on it at more challenging moments.”

The ability to manage one’s emotions plays a key role in facilitating successful negotiations and resolving seemingly intractable conflicts. Her suggestions, though they appear simple, can help decrease stress not just for professional mediators but anyone looking to approach their lives and their work more calmly and attentively.

Read on at Psychology Today for more insights from Fisher-Yoshida.