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Introduction to Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Managing Stress

Local Community College

Instructor Information:
Name: Joann Myers
Background: Health and Wellness Coordinator for US Army Soldiers
Course Materials:
Handouts, notepads, pens, highlighters, laptop computer with Wi-Fi capabilities
Course Description:
This introductory course to Complementary and Alternative Medicine is designed to teach you
different techniques to manage and eliminate stress and anxiety through relaxation. This course
will give you the ability to research and learn important exercises for guided imagery, deep
breathing, and meditation. This course is designed to give you the tools you need to become one
with your mind and body.
Course Objectives
By the end of this course you should be able to:
1: Know and understand what relaxation techniques, why they are good for you are and how
they can you can do them for yourself
2: Know, understand, and be able to practice and demonstrate guided imagery and deep
breathing exercise.
3: You should be able to know how to demonstrate your knowledge of meditation as well as
know where to find and get helpful resources and tools to get you through it.
Course Outline
Week 1: General information on CAM, relaxation and techniques

What is CAM?
Why use CAM for stress?
What is relaxation?

Week 2: Guided Imagery and Deep Breathing

Description of relaxation techniques

o Guided Imagery
o Deep Breathing
Guided imagery resources and exercises

Deep breathing resources and exercises

Practical Exercise

Week 3: Introduction to Meditation

Definition of Meditation and Yoga

Meditation Exercises
Yoga Exercises
Meditation and Yoga resources
Practical Exercises

Grading Scale/Criteria:
This is a free course that has no grading scale. Full participation is highly recommended for
understanding of course information.

Week 1: General information on CAM and relaxation techniques
1. What is CAM?

CAM or Complementary and Alternative Medicine is a rising practice that more and
more people are starting to use rather than traditional or Western Medicine. In a

breakdown we can see that:

Complementary means to use with conventional medicine and alternative means to
do something in place of the conventional medicine.
Two Types: This course will focus on Mind and Body practices:
o Natural Products: herbs, vitamins and minerals, and probiotics
o Mind and Body Practices: yoga, massage, meditation, acupuncture, and relaxation
techniques are a few.

2. Why use CAM for stress?

Stress is an emotional and sometimes physical reaction everyone faces as life changes.
Work, school, sports, daily lives are all typical things that cause stress. Learning how to
relax will reduce and release daily stress and will help prevent anxiety. This will help
keep you healthier, live longer, and perform better through daily activities. Relaxation
techniques often combine breathing and focused attention on pleasing thoughts and

images to calm the mind and the body (Stress, 2016).

Take the following stress test:

3. What are relaxation techniques?

There are several relaxation techniques that fall under mind and body practices of
Complementary Medicine. The ones this course will cover are: guided imagery, deep

breathing, and meditation.

Relaxation techniques are skills, and like other skills, they need practice. People who
use relaxation techniques frequently are more likely to benefit from them. Regular,
frequent practice is particularly important if you're using relaxation techniques to help
manage a chronic health problem. Continuing use of relaxation techniques is more
effective than short-term use (Relaxation Techniques for Health, 2016).

Week 2: Guided Imagery and Deep Breathing

Description of relaxation techniques

o Guided Imagery is taking your mind to a peaceful place, such as the ocean, a
forest, a quiet room, or anywhere that is considered peaceful. This is a trip that
you take while lying down or sitting in a quiet place with your eyes closed and
most often brought to by first fully relaxing through deep breathing.
o Deep Breathing is about taking deep, slow breaths which help bring you to a calm

and relaxed state.

Guided imagery and deep breathing resources and exercises
o Guided imagery and deep breathing can be done anywhere at any time. This can
be done with a professional or using podcasts, audio recordings, or having a
friend or spouse read a scenario to you.
o Podcasts:!


Practical Exercise
o View the below video to take the students through a guided exercise

Week 3: Introduction to Meditation

Definition of Meditation and Yoga

o Meditation is a mind and body practice that goes back to ancient and religious
traditions. Meditation is used as a relaxation technique to reduce stress and
anxiety. It is not use to cure addictions such as alcohol and drug abuse. A 2014
literature review of 47 trials in 3,515 participants suggests that mindfulness
meditation programs show moderate evidence of improving anxiety and
depression (Meditation: In Depth, 2016). (SHOW VIDEO BELOW)

o Yoga is a mind and practice that uses body movement with the combination of
breathing and relaxation techniques for health purposes. This is just one type of
yoga, the one we will focus on because this course is all about stress reduction.
o Many people who practice yoga do so to maintain their health and well-being,
improve physical fitness, relieve stress, and enhance quality of life. In addition,
they may be addressing specific health conditions, such as back pain, neck pain,

arthritis, and anxiety (Yoga: In Depth, 2016).

o Side effects: There are low side effects and injury of yoga if done correctly.
Meditation and Yoga Exercises: Bring in a local yoga/meditation instructor from a nearby
studio to talk about what they do and why they do it. They talk about each exercise they
do to ensure the students learn proper technique. Once instruction is done an exercise

will be given to bring students through a shortened course of a yoga and meditation class.
Meditation and Yoga resources:
o Talk to your health provider to receive local referrals
o Always review the credentials if going to local business
o Never commit to a contract, always try a professional to see how you feel

Re-take the following stress test:, discuss

what has changed and why. Use the last hour of class discussing what techniques work
best for each person and what other techniques they are will to try.

Week 1: What stresses you the most?

Now that you have completed a stress test (use the following link to get your stress level: and know your level of stress, I want you
to use the attached handout (HANDOUT 1) and put down from 1 to 5 what things in your
daily activities stress you out. Write how it makes you feel and draw faces (emojis) on

how it makes you feel and be ready to discuss in class.

Complete HANDOUT 2

Week 2: Guided Imagery and Deep Breathing

Handouts: Beach Script (HANDOUT 3)

Complete handout 3 for HW and start a journal writing how it made you feel
Use provided audio clips for future exercises and always write in your journal on ow you
feel afterwords

Week 3: Meditation and Yoga

Handouts: Use the attached yoga sheets (HANDOUTS 4 & 5) to help you perfect your

positions for stress and anxiety reduction.

Using the week 1 handout and your new stress score write on how you can overcome
your top 5 stressors and how you feel about them now. Re-draw your faces and see your



Start reading the beach visualization relaxation script here:
Get comfortable. Sit in a supportive chair or lie on your back.
Relax your body by releasing any areas of tension. Allow your arms to go limp... then your
Feel your arms and legs becoming loose and relaxed...
Now relax your neck and back by relaxing your spine.... release the hold of your muscles all the
way from your head, down your neck....along each vertebra to the tip of your spine...
Breathe deeply into your diaphragm, drawing air fully into your lungs.... and release the air with
a whooshing sound....
Breathe in again, slowly.... pause for a moment.... and breathe out.....
Draw a deep breath in.... and out....
In..... out.....
Become more and more relaxed with each breath....
Feel your body giving up all the tension.... becoming relaxed.... and calm.... peaceful....
Feel a wave of relaxation flow from the soles of your feet, to your ankles, lower legs, hips, pelvic
area, abdomen, chest, back, hands, lower arms, elbows, upper arms, shoulders, neck, back of
your head, face, and the top of your head....
Allow your entire body to rest heavily on the surface where you sit or lie. Now that your body is
fully relaxed, allow the visualization relaxation to begin.
Imagine you are walking toward the ocean.... walking through a beautiful, tropical forest....
You can hear the waves up ahead.... you can smell the ocean spray.... the air is moist and warm....
feel a pleasant, cool breeze blowing through the trees....
You walk along a path....coming closer to the you come to the edge of the trees, you see
the brilliant aqua color of the ocean ahead....
You walk out of the forest and onto a long stretch of white sand.... the sand is very soft powder....

imagine taking off your shoes, and walking through the hot, white sand toward the water....
The beach is wide and long....
Hear the waves crashing to the shore....
Smell the clean salt water and beach....
You gaze again toward the water.... it is a bright blue-green....
See the waves washing up onto the sand..... and receding back toward the ocean.... washing up....
and flowing back down..... enjoy the ever-repeating rhythm of the waves...
Imagine yourself walking toward the water.... over the fine, hot sand.... you are feeling very
As you approach the water, you can feel the mist from the ocean on your skin. You walk closer to
the waves, and feel the sand becoming wet and firm....
A wave washes over the sand toward you.... and touches your toes before receding...
As you step forward, more waves wash over your feet... feel the cool water provide relief from
the heat....
Walk further into the clear, clean water.... you can see the white sand under the water.... the water
is a pleasant, relaxing temperature.... providing relief from the hot sun... cool but not cold....
You walk further into the water if you wish.... swim if you want to.... enjoy the ocean for a few
minutes..... allow the visualization relaxation to deepen.... more and more relaxed... enjoy the
Now you are feeling calm and refreshed...
You walk back out of the water and onto the beach...
Stroll along the beach at the water's edge.... free of worries... no stress... calm..... enjoying this
Up ahead is a comfortable lounge chair and towel, just for you...
Sit or lie down in the chair, or spread the towel on the sand.... relax on the chair or towel....
enjoying the sun.... the breeze.... the waves.....
You feel peaceful and relaxed.... allow all your stresses to melt away....
When you are ready to return from your vacation, do so slowly....
Bring yourself back to your usual level of alertness and awareness....
Keep with you the feeling of calm and relaxation.... feeling ready to return to your day....
Open your eyes, stretch your muscles... and become fully alert... refreshed... and filled with
You can practice this visualization relaxation as often as you wish, to provide a mental vacation
whenever you need it. Visualization relaxation is a skill that can be learned; the more you

practice, the more skilled you will become and more effectively you will be able to relax using
visualization relaxation (Beach Visualization Relaxation, 2015).




Meditation: In Depth. (2016). National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health
(NCCIH). Retrieved from:
Relaxation Techniques for Health. (2016). National Center for Complementary and Integrated
Health (NCCIH). Retrieved from:
Yoga: In Depth. (2016). National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health (NCCIH).
Retrieved from:
Beach Visualization Relaxation. (2015). Inner Health Studio: Coping Skills and Relaxation
Resources. Retrieved from: