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Meet Shawn Bradford of Breathe and Work in Central Phoenix

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shawn Bradford.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Years ago a very trusted family friend told me that I was the most tightly wound person she had ever come across and I needed to make a change or my health would suffer. I felt her words pierce through my heart and I knew she was right.

It has a long journey, and one I am still on today, but completely worth it as I have learned, and am still learning, how to take control of my well-being to decrease my stress response and to increase my health.

My journey started with yoga. From there I started to meditate daily, journal, practice affirmations, yoga nidra and guided imagery. I eventually gained certificates in coaching, 200-hour yoga, yoga nidra, and as a guided imagery facilitator.

Witnessing first-hand how these mind/body practices transformed my perspective of life from tense and chaotic to more relaxed and joyful, I started to teach stress management strategies through mind/body techniques to businesses and individuals in the Phoenix area. I do this through customized workshops, trainings and speaking engagements.

Has it been a smooth road?
I left a 15-year cushy (because I had built a strong base) career in outside sales with a high income and a lot of freedom. On the tough days, I long for the ease of that old job. Starting a new business, you are doing everything (invoicing, client calls, sales, presenting, data entry….and the list goes on and on). But then I remember my passion and my love for teaching my community how to take control of their well-being and that high level of meaning makes even the hours of data entry worth it!

Some of the struggles are balancing three kids and running a business. A few weeks ago I was speaking at a conference on the other side of town. Preparing myself for work, my three young kids for school, dropping them off at the bus stop and then getting to the other side of town by 8 am definitely provokes my stress response and I have to practice what I teach by taking breathing breaks (breath in for 4 and out for 8) and repeating power statements “Shawn, you’ve got this. You have what it takes to succeed.” And it is so worth it. Before I typed this, I was reviewing attendee feedback forms from the last conference and one participant’s words really touched my heart when I read “I came in exhausted and left very refreshed and positive.” That is my mission. To teach tools that empower people and leave them feeling better!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Breathe and Work story. Tell us more about the business.
I am known for my high energy and effective teaching and presenting style. Attendees of my classes, trainings and workshops state that the tools I teach to mindfully manage stress are easy to implement and provides them with a feeling of empowerment to be able to do something immediately to take control of their health.

I specialize in teaching mind/body techniques such as mindful movement, breathing, visualization, meditation and imagery to teach people how to decrease their response to stress to increase their health. I do this in a very interactive and fun workshop format. I also encourage discussion and reflection by asking thought provoking questions to enable sharing and learning of other’s perspectives and responses.

I am most proud that attendees are using these techniques to manage their response to stress and they report they are calmer and are taking a pause before they react to a situation, thought or person that provokes their stress response.

What sets Breathe and Work apart? We customize to our audience. Our stress management or mindful workshop will be presented differently to a group of sales professionals than to a group of nurses because each are dealing with different things throughout the day and we strive to provide practical tips that are easy to implement and effective at reducing the stress response.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I see more and more businesses and individuals embracing complementary and alternative approaches to health and the data supports this. More businesses are open to exploring how they can increase their employees’ health through wellness programs that include alternative methods to health (including what I teach: mindfulness, meditation, yoga and imagery). Businesses are seeing a large return on their investment with wellness teachings and programs. One statistic states; Studies from Healthy People illustrate that for every $1 spent on workplace wellness, medical costs decrease by about $3.27 and increases productivity, with absenteeism costs decreasing by about $2.37 (Healthy People 2020, General Health Status, 2011).

Breathe and Work will continue to add and train additional workshop facilitators to teach the benefits of managing stress through the mind/body connection to businesses and individuals in our community. We also plan on expanding our reach to include design, implementation and participation in comprehensive business wellness plans.

We are seeing a big shift in employers taking an interest in how they can bring effective behavioral health changes to their employees to not only save significant costs on insurance plans but to also improve the overall health of their organization.

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