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Stress

Management and
Prevention
Program Resource
Guide

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Stress Management and Prevention
Program Resource Guide

By

Jack Higgins
Table of Contents
UNIT 1 THE NATU RE OF STRESS

Information to Remember....................................................................P. 3
Self-Assessment Exercises.................................................................P. 3,4
Journal Writing.....................................................................................P. 4

UNIT 2 THE PHYSIO LOGY OF STRESS

Information to Remember....................................................................P. 5
Self-Assessment Exercises.................................................................P. 5,6
Journal Writing...............................................................................P. 6,7,8

UNIT 3 PSYCHOLOGY OF STRESS

Information to Remember....................................................................P. 9
Self-Assessment Exercises...............................................................P. 9,10
Journal Writing..............................................................................P. 10,11

UNIT 4 PERSONAL ITY TRAITS AND THE HUM AN SPIRITUAL ITY

Information to Remember..................................................................P. 12
Self-Assessment Exercises.............................................................P. 12,13
Journal Writing...............................................................P. 14,15,16,17,18

UNIT 5 DEAL ING WITH STRESS: COPING STRATE GIES

Information to Remember..................................................................P. 19
Journal Writing.........................................................................P. 19,20,21

UNIT 6 REL AXATIO N TECHI QUES 1 : BREATHI NG , M EDITATI ON,

AND M ENTAL IM AGE RY

Information to Remember..................................................................P. 22
Self-Assessment Exercises.............................................................P. 22,23
Journal Writing.........................................................................P. 23,24,25

UNIT 7 NUTRITI ON AND STRESS

Information to Remember..................................................................P. 26
Self-Assessment Exercises..................................................................P. 26
UNIT 8 PHYSIC AL EXERCISE AND ACTIV ITY

Information to Remember..................................................................P. 28
Self-Assessment Exercises........................................................P. 28,29,30
Journal Writing..............................................................................P. 30,31

UNIT 9 APPLYING STRESS: CRITICAL ISSUES F OR M ANAGEM EN T

AND PREVE NTIO N TO YOUR PROF ESSI ONAL L IF E

Information to Remember..................................................................P. 32

ADDITI ONAL INF ORM ATIO N- P. 3 3

REF EREN CES P. 3 4

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Unit

Unit 1: The Nature of Stress


Information to Remember:
Key Learning Point: Assessing each state in the paradigm is important to better understand your own
integration of health and how to take control of your well-being.
Key Learning Point: “Emotional well-being is defined as the ability to feel and express the full range of
human emotions and to control them rather than be controlled by the them.” (Seaward, 2015).
Key Learning Point: “Chronic stress can have a serious impact on our physical as well as psychological
health due to sustained high levels of the chemicals released in the ‘fight or flight’ response.”
(Collingwood).

Self-Assessment Exercise:
There are four different states in the paradigm. Spiritual, Emotional, Physical and
Mental. I will discuss each model and how each component is needed for balancing
wellness and stress. At the end of my description, there will be a graph that
compliments my discussion as well. This paradigm is designed to display the
integration of one’s health and how to take control of your well-being. The first
component in the paradigm I will discuss is the Spiritual. When assessing myself, I
gave this the lowest percentage as far as importance to me. I am somewhat
spiritual, but I do not make this a priority of my inner being and guidance. I have
really never been a religious person by nature, so looking at things spiritually has
not been a way for me to heal or combat a crisis and stress. I have always had a
more cosmic curiosity about spirituality and a higher being. Having a strong
spiritual sense offers a great deal of therapy and guidance for some dealing with
the stresses of life. I tend to put more focus on my inner self and the other
components in the paradigm. The next component in the paradigm is the
Emotional. This component was somewhat higher for me than Spiritual, but less

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than the remaining. The emotional state of one self is different for everyone.
“Emotional well-being is defined as the ability to feel and express the full range of
human emotions and to control them rather than be controlled by them.”
(Seaward) The Physical component is next in the wellness paradigm. Just like the
previous two discussed, Physicality is a very important aspect of one’s health and
longevity. I rated this component the third highest for me on levels of importance in
regard to stress and health. The physical body goes through many changes with
age and conditions. Each component really ties in together. One impacts that other
in the long scope of life in my opinion. For me, the Physical component has given
me a tool to combat stress. Regular exercise and nutrition has provided me with a
stronger and healthier body. Since I am a middle-aged man, this falls in an
important place in my life right now. The last component in the paradigm is the
Mental. For me, this was the highest rated and most important aspect of the model.
Acute and chronic stress can have severe impact on one’s health. It seems we are
all under more stress than ever before. “Chronic stress can have a serious impact
on our physical as well as psychological health due to sustained high levels of the
chemicals released in the ‘fight or flight’ response.” (Collingwood) Awareness is so
important for realizing mental stress and anxiety.

Journal Writing:
Situation Start Midway End
Leaving on time for work in the morning 4

Driving in morning and afternoon traffic 7

Talking to an angry Verizon customer 9

Being punctual trying to get to places on time 5

Anticipate leaving or not seeing my daughter 7

Running into or seeing my ex fiancé 9

Waiting in a long line at Target 5

Meeting with my supervisor at work to discuss calls 6

Drama between family members 5

Being able to control any financial debt 5

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Unit 2: The Physiology of Stress

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Unit

Information to Remember:
Key Learning Point: Stress related disorders and illnesses are becoming more and more frequent across
the world. Many of these disorders can lead to Migraine headaches, back issues and hypertension.
Key Learning Point: The physiology of stress can have a huge impact on one’s health. The stress
response, or release of chemicals/hormones can have an impact on the nervous system. (Seaward,
(2015)

Key Learning Point: The stresses and anxiety at work, can have a big impact on one’s health. Bringing
awareness to your daily life and career is very important. Listen to your mind and body when it comes to
the stresses of your work and career.

Self-Assessment Exercise:
The vast understanding of the brain and how our behaviors and experiences
somewhat alter our health, is an ongoing question. The rigors of life stress can
have a great impact on our health. Learning more about how stress is related to
disease can help us bring further awareness to our future. The first step in
understanding brain health, is the two different terms. The first is Neuroscience.
Neuroscience is the basic study and structure of the nervous system and brain.
The neuroscience field is an ongoing evolvement, and continues to make progress
on learning more about our brain function and how this relates to stress. “Only
recently have the dots been connected to provide a more accurate understanding
of this most complex human organ.” (Seaward) The second term we will cover is
the Neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is a term used to describe how the brain and
nervous system have a sense of plastic flexibility. Basically, the brain and nervous
system can be re-wired based on life changes and experiences. Neuroplasticity
research involves many different fields such as memory, stem cell research and
stroke. The importance of brain function and health, is key to understanding how
ongoing stress can impact our health and lead to disease. Understanding the
effects of the nervous system and how that relates to stress has led to many
different diseases. Stress related disorders are becoming the most common form

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of issues plaguing Americans. A few examples of common nervous system related
disorders are Tension Headaches. Tension in the head, eyes and neck lead to
increased pain in the muscles and lower back. Migraine Headaches are also a
common disorder as well. Migraines can lead to intense headaches, dizziness and
nausea. Migraine disorders affect a great deal of Americans in this country. A
third disease associated with the nervous system is Bronchial Asthma. This illness
is caused by excessive fluid that causes swelling in the bronchi muscle tissue.
Asthma attacks are connected to stress and anxiety. The impacts of stress and the
immune system is also an important health concern. There are several disorders
related to stress and immune function. Cancer could be the most serious of them
all. Cancer affects almost 1 out of 3 Americans today. Immune function can be
affected by cancer cells and stress hormones.

Journal Writing:
How is stress or anxiety about people affecting your life?

The funny thing about life is you never stop learning about how you relate to people.

Whether it’s friendships or relationships, it’s always a growing process. In the last five years of

my life, I have seen a few personal relationships end or fail. I was so hurt by these events, it

seemed to spiral me into another existence or path. At my age, I never thought I would be

where I am, but I started to feel it was for a good reason, or the universe had a different plan

for me. I am at peace, but I do feel some stress about moving forward and meeting someone

new in regard to a relationship. Maybe it’s a fear of heartbreak again, but it does weigh on me at

times. I guess at this stage of my life, I’m having a harder time understanding people and

connecting with them. It’s been the most unusual time in my life.

How is stress or anxiety about work affecting your life?

I have worked for Verizon for over 20 years. I have been on a true journey working for

this company, and it’s been a very difficult relationship for a while now. I guess my unhappiness

about my career has been a huge gap or crossroad for me. I work on the phones in a customer

service environment, so the work is very stressful, and the demands take its toll on you

mentally. I’m almost embarrassed to say how long I have worked for one company, but it has

truly motivated me to change my career and finally say goodbye to Verizon and the tech world.

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So yes, I hate what I do, but I am going to change that. I am determined to make the positive

changes in my work life to take me on a passionate path.

How is stress or anxiety about the world affecting your life?

Over the last several years I have taken a different approach to how I consume news or

media. I currently do not have cable, so I find it refreshing not to have constant news and

information bombarding me. The current state of politics and terrorism is truly frightening. It

seems the media and the current state of our country is causing so much anxiety and fear. For

me, I have to disconnect from it and not consume it. I do feel stress when I worry about my

daughter living in New York City. She is twelve and it scares me about the possibilities of her

being hurt or something happening. I am in Florida, so it has caused some anxiety for me at

times.

How is stress or anxiety about food and eating habits affecting your life?

This is one area where I am in a great place. I have to say that I haven’t had much stress

in regard to my food intake or eating habits. I am very happy about my awareness and direction

when it comes to healthy eating. The one area I have been stressed, is the eating habits of my

daughter. I am not with her that much, so when I am, I like to cook healthy meals for her and

stay on top of what she is eating and consuming. That can be hard to do at times. Kids eat a lot

of poor foods and this can lead to weight and health issues down the road. I don’t want that for

my kid, so I like to put a lot of focus on this.

How is stress or anxiety about sleep and sleeplessness affecting your life?

For the most part, I tend to get pretty good sleep. My trouble with sleeping has always

been when I was worrying or experiencing anxiety. Then I would not sleep well. The life

stressors are what has always affected by sleep patterns. At this time in my life, I am doing well

with sleep and I get a sufficient amount of rest. Exercise and my yoga practice has really helped

by body and mind rest.

How is stress or anxiety about exercise or lack of physical activity affecting your life?

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As with sleep, I am currently in a very good place in my life when it comes to exercise

and physical activity. At 44 years of age, I am very pleased with my body and health.

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Unit

Discovering yoga five years ago has given me great direction to get the physical activity I

needed. It has helped me in so many ways. I am currently not experiencing any stress or

anxiety in regard to exercise. The only part that may come into play, is how difficult some of the

yoga classes are that I take. It can take a physical toll on you.

Summary

In summary, the main stressors for me at this stage in my life are the questions and

future of my relationships with people, and my work-related stress. Finding a perfect balance in

life can be tough. The experiences we go through, the ups and downs can really take its toll your

health. I have worked hard on finding tools to help me counter these changes. I don’t feel we are

ever ready for a crisis or change, but if we can bring awareness and peace to our lives, it can

make a positive difference.

Unit 3: Psychology of Stress


Information to Remember:
Key Learning Point: Sigmund Freud is the reference point for understanding psychological human
behavior. Freud expressed that the human psyche is very fragile. (Seaward, 2015).
Key Learning Point: The five stages of grieving are pointed out in the theories of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. (Seaward, 2015).

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Key Learning Point: According to Tibetan perspectives on stress, the strong attachment to desire is
strongly associated with stress and anxiety. This approach is directly associated with the ego.
(Seaward, 2015).

Self-Assessment Exercise:
Stress, Anxiety, Fear, and Anger are all components of our life that take us in
many different directions. Finding a healing source, or common ways of
understanding how life experiences can alter our mind. Long before theorists
provided ground breaking strategies regarding stress and the mind, The Tibetan
culture had already established practices to understand, and heal human
suffering. The philosophy of Buddhism was to practice inner peace. “In the past
decade, many Tibetan lamas, including the Dalai Lama, have spoken and written
extensively on the topic of stress as viewed through the perspective of the mind.”
(Seaward) To navigate and understand the complexities of the mind, it is
important to find mental balance. Controlling the ego and desires with the
practice of meditation, is a wonderful way to counter the difficult aspects of stress
and life. If inward practices were more utilized in our world today, we could see
more peace and happiness across our world. Like much of the Tibetan approach
to mind and stress, many future theorists have also provided perspective on life
experience and stress. The common ground by most theorists is the act of self-
awareness. Practicing self-awareness is designed to move away from the
defensive actions and more toward positive inner strengths. “So often we place
blame on externalities because it’s the easiest excuse, when in fact we should be
thinking about our thinking, reflecting, trying on different perspectives, and
learning from our mistakes.” (Jun) Systematic and Exposure Desensitization are
examples of ways to cope and overcome fear. “In systematic desensitization and
exposure desensitization, clients are repeatedly exposed to their stressors, first at
small and tolerable levels, and then with a systematic progression toward face-to-
face confrontation with the stressor.” (Seaward) Confronting fear is an important
step in healing from life events or overcoming change. The age of social media
has limited our privacy these days. Keeping some of your personal issues private,
is a good suggestion. Limit Information Overload is also a way to improve
communication and limit your stress. With too much information and multi-
tasking, taking a simple approach and keeping a limit on information is helpful.
The last example of improving communication is to Resolve Communication
Problems. Conflict is a part of all relationships. Resolving communication issues
sooner than later is recommended.

Journal Writing:
Take some time to write about whatever you came up for you mentally, emotionally, and

physically when doing this practice for the first time.

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This was a very enjoyable breathing and meditation session. Today, I really seemed in

the right frame of mind to practice this exercise. I wasn’t rushing to get somewhere or try and fit

a million things in before a certain time. Practicing yoga regularly has really helped me

understand the benefits of relaxation and meditation. I really need to put more focus on the

meditation side of my practice. During this exercise, I felt very relaxed. I really felt at peace and

this has been a little tough for me recently. Realizing where I am in my life and that being ok,

has been challenging for me for over a year. I had a very good focus on my breath during this

exercise. I was drifting and thinking about my first yoga teacher Claude. He is an amazing

inspiration for me, and has helped me find healing like no other. He would always focus on the

power of meditation more so than any other form of yoga practice. He would come to my mind

and then I would refocus back to my breath. Mentally, I would feel at peace when thinking about

him and focus on the sound of my breath. Thoughts of my daughter always come to my mind as

well. It’s a beautiful side to my life, so I always drift thinking of her. Emotional thoughts of my

ex fiancé have dominated my thoughts for well over a year. This seems to be fading more and

more, and I’m feeling less vulnerable and feeling less emotional pain. As those thoughts start

crossing my mind, it was easier to bring it back to the breath. Sitting in a half lotus position was

very comfortable for me during this exercise.

Summary

The healing power of mediation is truly something to consider. I have been

procrastinating about making the time to meditate. Yoga and meditation is a life-long practice. It

should be something you make time for every day. The benefits of breathing and relaxation is

critical to my health when dealing with the stressors of life. The timing of this class and the

refocus on mediation is a true blessing.

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Unit 4: Personality Traits and the Human

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Unit

Spirituality
Information to Remember:
Key Learning Point: A Type A personality is considered a rushed or hurried lifestyle. Further studies now
have this type of personality more associated with anger. (Seaward, 2015).
Key Learning Point: Adventurous personality types are considered Sensation Seekers. This type is based
around extreme activities. These personality types are spontaneous, but calculating. (Seaward, 2015).
Key Learning Point: Overcoming fear is one of the many challenges we all face. Being fearful of
uncontrolled events, can lead to ongoing stress. Bringing awareness to each event or situation, can
help keep this managed and avoid further anxiety.

Self-Assessment Exercise:
“There are many traits common to all individuals, which makes distinguishing among personality
types and their related behaviors difficult at times. Level of Self-Esteem, however, appears to be
a critical factor in how people respond to stress, regardless of personality type.” (Seaward) Each
individual today has some level of self-esteem. This is really how we look at ourselves and think
of ourselves. Having a sense of self-value, self-respect and self-love are important concepts that
define self-esteem. Having a low self-esteem is the common equal when connecting stress and
the different personality types. Life experiences, body image, clothing and behavior are
examples of what can impact our self-esteem. Having a high self-esteem can be a buffer or best
defense against stressors. Stress-resilient personalities have much better success at brushing off
these difficult ups and downs and push on. “Values that are adopted consciously or
unconsciously lay the groundwork for personality traits and behaviors.” (Seaward) The stress of
life experiences and memories can affect how we value our life, and what purpose we have.
Without meaning or purpose, it can be difficult to navigate through life. Having meaning builds a
foundation for positive health in mind and body. The demands we place on ourselves create road
blocks and cause stress. When values, opinions and attitudes are challenged, this can impact the
ego and a stress response is developed.
Life stressors and changes, can alter your spiritual beliefs as well. Experiencing loss or a crisis,
can have a great effect on one’s belief system and what your outlook is on the other side of that.

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Finding an inner peace and wisdom, is really the only concept I can truly see to find a beautiful
path in life. Finding a way to love one-self and others, can truly transcend your life and create
less stress. Prochaska’s model for change focuses on six stages. These stages are a great
template for moving toward a positive behavioral growth. One example for positive change is
exercise. Using Prochaska’s model for change, we can take each step and define how that relates
to developing and exercise program.

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Journal Writing:
FEAR: apprehension, anxiety, distress, edginess, jumpiness,

nervousness, panic, tenseness, uneasiness, worry, fright,

feeling overwhelmed.

The emotion of fear is certainly something we all face in our

lives. How our mind and body handles fear is different for many.

When I look at the different words describing a certain type of

fear, I gravitate toward nervousness. In some ways, I feel I have

an internal anxiety or nervousness that stays with me. The

interesting thing is, I feel these emotions are in my hands, or

fingers. If I’m nervous about something, or thinking about

something too much, I will start to put my hands together and

then pick my nails. For a long time, I felt this was more of a habit,

but I now realize it stems from some form or nervousness or

anxiety. This manifests when I am thinking about something in

the future or thinking too much ahead, or I have to be somewhere

at a certain time. Over recent time, I’ve been more conscience of

this and more aware of what is going on in mind when I start to

put my hands together and pick my nails. This emotion and

process has been with me since childhood.

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CONFUSION: bewildered, uncertain, puzzled, mystified, perplexed,

chaotic, foggy, or unaware.

Confusion is an interesting emotion as well. When I think of

this emotion and focusing on it, it brings me to thoughts of not

knowing how to change my career or make change happen. The

term I would use to describe my confusion is Uncertain. Is it not

taking action soon enough or playing everything safe? Or maybe I

need more time to understand and think more about my

decisions. As I think about uncertainty and my way of dealing with

it, I feel it manifests in my shoulders. I feel a tightness or a

stiffening. I may feel pressure to change and visualize what I

would or should be doing.

ANGER: aggravation, agitation, annoyance, destructiveness,

disgust, envy, frustration, irritation, grouchiness,

grumpiness, rage.

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Anger can be a scary word or emotion. We all have some

form of anger expression. In no way am I an angry person. I do

tend to let things build as feelings or emotions mount. The term

Disgust is best fit to describe the point of anger for me. I guess

I’ve always thought that it takes a lot to get me angry. Learning

more about yourself and how emotions of anger impact you are

complex for me. I have visions of my childhood, or how my father

would react after being pushed to an anger stage. I wasn’t sure if

what I was doing was genetic or instinctual, but when backed into

a corner I can get pretty angry. I feel a sensation in my mouth and

eyes when feeling thoughts of anger. I get or feel an exploding

feeling.

SADNESS: alienation, anguish, despair, disappointment, gloom,

grief, hopelessness, insecurity, loneliness, misery,

unhappiness, rejection.

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The emotion of sadness seems to really hit home for me

lately. Over the last five years, this has been the most dominant

emotion in my life. Many of the terms above describe how I have

felt. There are many that stand out to me, but Disappointment

and Grief are the main terms that really are important. The

disappointment of my daughter moving away, losing a

relationship and the death of my Mother, have been difficult to

get past. Thinking so little of yourself and wondering what

happened in your life, was tough for me to understand.

Experiencing these loses was something I had never experienced

before. I certainly feel a sense of pain and heartbreak when

thinking of these emotions. When meditating, I would feel these

manifest in my heart and chest area. Since then, I have enjoyed

the process of healing and learning more about myself.

SHAME: guilt, embarrassment, humiliation, invalidation, regret,

remorse, mortification.

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Understanding the emotion of shame was a little more

difficult for me to reflect on. I would almost tie this in with

sadness. Humiliation is the term that registers for me more than

the others. I really felt humiliated when the relationship with

fiancé ended. I really felt a sense of shame and failure. Not

because I did something deliberate or hurtful to the relationship,

but being unsuccessful at it. It really had big impact on me.

Constant thoughts in my mind would manifest and really make me

feel isolated and down. These emotions really would affect my

head and throat region when focusing on my body and mind. I felt

shame because I really wanted to be in a different place than I

was.

LOVE: affection, arousal, attraction, caring, compassion, desire,

fondness, infatuation, kindness, liking, longing, warmth,

sympathy, sentimentality.

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The emotion of Love is truly what resonates in me. I have so

much love to give, when it comes to relationships and my family.

Kindness, warmth, and caring really are terms that define how I

give love. I can only think of my past relationships, and my

daughter as examples of loving something or someone. Affection

is also a term that describes my approach to love. I have certainly

felt the pain of love as well. I realized that giving love is the best

emotion. We can’t expect to always be loved or find love, but

giving love will provide you with something special. The feeling of

love manifests in my abdomen region. When I focus and mediate

on thoughts of love, I feel a tingling in my stomach. Loving

someone is truly special. I really enjoy the sense of love and how

this emotion makes me feel.

JOY: amusement, bliss, contentment, eagerness, elation,

enjoyment, enthusiasm, excitement, exhilaration, hope,

optimism, pleasure, satisfaction.

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Joy is another beautiful emotion. We don’t always have joy in

our lives, but when we experience a sense of joy, life can be so

amazing and enjoyable. Excitement, optimism and enjoyment are

terms that really resonate with me. I would connect joy to a form

of happiness. When I see or think of my daughter, that brings me

so much joy. The joy of having a family has given me a great

sense of enjoyment. In recent years, I haven’t had much joy in my

life. Reflecting on when I had my own family, that is when I felt

the most joy. Scanning my body and thinking about joy really

brought a sensation to my back and spine region. Learning about

what really brings that excitement to your life, is a great way to

feel optimistic about the future. It’s what drives you, and

energizes you.

Summary

The sense of emotion is such an interesting thought process. As humans, we feel pain, joy,

anger, confusion and fear. All of these are part of life. Finding ways to bring awareness and

understanding to these emotions is important. Controlling emotions or letting go, are all part of

what makes us evolve. The use of meditation and focus has really helped me understand how I

process these emotions and how they affect me.

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Unit 5: Dealing with Stress: Coping Strategies

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Unit

Information to Remember:
Key Learning Point: Surviving a threat or life event can cause a coping response or strategy. “The word
coping, as defined by stress scholar Richard Lazarus, is the process of managing demands that are
appraised as taxing or exceeding the individual’s resources.” (Seaward, 2015, p.211).
Key Learning Point: Cognitive Restructuring is the idea of widening one’s perspective to allow for
positive change. Assuming responsibility and facing a situation head on. (Seaward, 2015).
Key Learning Point: Harboring negative thoughts can promote behaviors associated with those
perceptions. Reframing is a way of looking at the same situation from a different point of view. The
idea of Reframing is to take a negative thought or perception and find something good from it.
(Seaward, 2015).

Journal Writing:
Take some time to write about whatever came up for you mentally, emotionally and physically

when doing this practice for the first time.

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For this week’s journal entry, I chose the Mindful Self-Inquiry

for Stress and Anxiety practice. Learning and continuing to

improve my meditation practice is a life-long journey. Completing

this session was very enjoyable, and came at the proper time for

me. It usually takes me a few minutes to find a relaxed state and

really focus on my breath. Almost a winding down sort of feeling. I

find it more comfortable to lay in corpse pose. This pose really

allows me to breathe correctly and relax all of my body parts.

After a long stressful day at my corporate job, I like to focus on

thinking about the stressors of Verizon, and then focus on

clearing them away. My unhappiness at this job has created so

much mental stress for me over the years. When I clear the

negative thoughts from my mind, I then start to think about my

new career, or new phase in my life. Realizing during this whole

period of unhappiness, I tend to stay where I am and resist

change. Fear of change, or thinking I’m not capable of finding a

healthier new career. I know I can, but sometimes the uncertain

thoughts enter my mind. I feel a sense of anxiety and uncertainty

about taking the big leap. My thoughts shift to what it has been

like working for this company over the last eight years. It’s felt

like a bad relationship and the other person or thing doesn’t care.

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It’s like a machine that keeps on going and there’s nothing you

can do to change it, but get out and say goodbye. Focusing back

to my breath, I can still feel a sense of stress and anxiety. Nothing

that will slow me down, but trying to face fears. I’m not sure what

this relates too. The yoga studio I attend is a great studio, but

I’ve had the hardest time connecting with people there. Maybe

it’s just come in and everyone do yoga and be on their way. I

approached one of the owners a year ago about doing a health

coaching class, or any way I could be of service to the studio. I

was nervous about approaching her due to some self-confidence

issues. I was still going through a hard time in my life, but I

wanted to make a connection. She seemed so positive and open

to the idea. We even spoke by phone and I was really excited.

Unfortunately, she never mentioned or spoke to me about it again

until last week. I was never expecting any dialogue about it, since

it was over a year ago, so I was a little thrown off. I’ve been

battling with myself trying to figure if I should be involved. I know

it would be good for me, but I’m fearful. I feel a sense of

emotional stress and physical discomfort when trying to get

myself going on this. Sometimes it feels right, and sometimes it

doesn’t. I guess I need a kick in the butt to get myself out of this

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way of thinking. Focusing my breathing again, I try to remove any

negative thoughts and think of something amazing and positive.

Slowing down my breathing and looking within, I find myself

struggling with change. I’ve been alone for almost two years now,

but I’ve really felt this is what was good for me in my life. A time

of learning about myself and understanding how I got to this

place. Another part is starting a new chapter in my life. New

career, new place. I’m determined to make this happen. I start to

focus back to my breath again, trying to clear my thoughts. I start

to deepen my breathing as I begin to move my wrists and feet

around. I open my eyes and think about how much relaxing and

helpful this practice was.

Summary

I found this practice to be very emotional, but very helpful and relaxing. Some of my

thoughts were from a place of anxiety and fear, but once I thought about them and focused on

clearing them away, it made sense. Working through this exercise really made me go deeper in

my thoughts. When I practice yoga, I really never get a chance to lie in corpse pose very long.

It’s usually rushed and I can never really find a deep sense of meditation. This exercise was a

refreshing and much needed practice for me. Thank you.

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Unit 6: Relaxation Techniques 1: Breathing,

6
Unit

Meditation, and Mental Imagery


Information to Remember:
Key Learning Point: “In its simplest form, diaphragmatic breathing is controlled deep breathing. It is
symbolic of a deep sigh, or a big breath taken when one is about to regroup one’s thoughts, gain
composure, or direct one’s energies for a challenging task.” (Seaward, 2015, p. 368).
Key Learning Point: Meditation is a tool to unclutter the mind and clear away thought. Clearing the mind
can to make way for new information and perspectives. (Seaward, 2015).
Key Learning Point: Zen meditation is a very disciplined practice. Practicing Zen Meditation can be
hours of motionless reflective and contemplative thought. (Seaward, 2015).

Self-Assessment Exercise:
There are many suggestions and techniques offered today, to help people manage
stress and anxiety. When you think about breathing, it doesn’t seem like this basic
human function that can have an impact on our body. It does however, provide
wonderful relaxation and air flow to help our bodies find focus and calmness.
Diaphragmatic breathing is an example of this type of breathing technique.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a deeper breath technique. “Diaphragmatic breathing
involves the movement of the lower abdomen. In the practice of yoga, this
technique is called pranayama, or the restoration of one’s energy or life force, the
breath behind the breath.” (Seaward, 2015, p. 368) Expansion of the chest cavity
can cause a vibration and muscular contraction. “Breathing from the diaphragm,
which accents long pauses, decreases this resonance, creating a calming effect.
(Seaward, 2015, p. 369) This deep breathing technique allows for more oxygen to
enter the lungs. This can lower blood pressure, help with mental stress, and of
course relax the mind and body. Breathing seems easy, but there are proper
recommended steps for diaphragmatic breathing. Meditation has been around for

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thousands of years. This ancient practice finds its origins in Asian cultures.
“Meditation is the quintessential respite to calm the mind from sensory overload.”
(Seaward, 2015, p. 378) The concept of meditation is to flush the mind out. Bring
clarity allowing the mind to calmly process new information, and to relieve stress
and anxiety that builds up in our thoughts. “Studies show that meditation is
associated with improvement in a variety of psychological areas, including stress,
anxiety, addiction, depression, eating disorders and cognitive function, among
others.” (Melnick) Research has shown that meditation can change our brains.
Rewire our neurons by creating and building new connections.

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Journal Writing:
Mindful of how you interact with yourself?

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Life certainly has a way of throwing you curve balls. The

journey we take is a continued learning experience. There is

certainly no way to prepare for a crisis or massive changes that

effect oneself. Recent life changes I have experienced, had

spiraled me into a dark place personally. Suffering losses and

ended relationships, caused me to really look at my life. Where

my life had ended up, I truly felt like a failure. I could not find any

other word to describe what I felt like. Feeling like this put me

into a mild depression. I felt weak and self-conscience as well. I

really battled with what I did to cause this to happen. I truly

blamed my-self for these turn of events in my life. In all actuality,

I knew I was a good person. I know I’ve achieved a lot in my life,

but I was so unhappy and disappointed. It has taken me well over

a year to really come out of this and believe in my-self again. I

almost hated who I was after analyzing these disappointments.

These messages I was sending to my-self were not healthy for me.

It was difficult to just have positive talk with my-self and see

improvement. It has taken time to really heal. Through the

healing process, I now send my-self positive thoughts and talk. I

believe in my-self again. It’s like a new beginning for me.

Seeds of suffering?

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When you are down or experiencing difficult life changes, it

can be easy to be hard on yourself. Calling yourself a failure and

blaming yourself for your struggles, can have an impact on your

well-being. Looking back on my recent struggles and changes, I

could have done a better job of not watering the seeds of my own

suffering. My friends and family would never treat me like I was

treating my-self. Anyone who knew me, would never consider me

a failure or disappointment. I certainly was much harder on me

that I should have been. Using positive words instead of negative

terms would have been better for me. Just saying it to yourself is

better than other way. I know it didn’t feel that way, but you have

to tell yourself how special you really are.

Day-to-day life feelings of resentment?

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Avoiding conflict with people is something I have always

been good at. I’ve never pursued conflict with someone just to

gain something or prove something. Dealing with my daughter’s

Mother has been a roller coaster for me. When she moved my

daughter out of state it crushed me. Practicing yoga brought me

healing and forgiveness. Our conflict and bad communication was

not a result of me, but what she was also experiencing and going

through. The act of forgiveness and trying to look at this person

in a positive light was difficult. Our relationship has seen

improvement. I think she is a wonderful and positive person when

I truly open my heart and think of a positive side to her. She is

also a good mother to my daughter Ariel.

Reflection on writing?

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I truly believe and understand the feeling of resentment and

anger can slow your road to happiness and recovery. These

feelings are normal for anyone. Is it ego? Can I forgive and let it

go? Can I open my heart and sympathize with love instead of

anger and resentment? I walk around in this life of mine with a

huge heart. When it gets hurt or broken, it hurts more than others

I suppose. The act of loving-kindness is a truly healing practice. I

know I have felt better letting go of internal anger, by forgiving

and sending love to that person. Hoping one day they will see me

in a different light. The power of positive thoughts and love are

truly what it’s about. I struggled with believing I might be a victim

in these situations. Wondering what I did to deserve this. Maybe I

was, maybe I wasn’t. It shouldn’t matter really. What matters is

how you treat yourself and send love and compassion to others

who may need it as much as you do.

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Unit 7: Nutrition and Stress

7
Unit

Information to Remember:
Key Learning Point: Nutrition continues to be a problem in the United States. Overconsumption of foods
high in fat and refined sugar, is causing unnecessary body stress and health concerns. (Seaward,
2015).
Key Learning Point: “The stress response increases the rate of metabolism by activating the mobilization
of carbohydrates and fats into the bloodstream for energy production. Additionally, several
substances, when ingested, tend to mimic or induce the stress response or decrease the efficiency of
the body’s metabolic pathways, thus setting the stage for a more pronounced physiological reaction to
stress.” (Seaward, 2015, p. 531).
Key Learning Point: The typical American diet consists of too much fats and proteins. An unbalanced
diet can lead to health issues and poor physical health. (Seaward, 2015).

Self-Assessment Exercise:
For this week’s assignment, I chose the Mindful Lying Yoga exercise. I can’t express enough
about the benefits of yoga. It has truly changed my health, and my life. The practice of yoga has
given me the benefits of cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility. Along with
the workout, I also get relaxation and meditation. Yoga is a lifelong practice. There is no ego
involved, and it is for you to embrace and to share. I was looking forward to this exercise and
working through the poses reflecting on how I felt. “Mindful yoga involves bringing awareness to
your breath, movement, posture, thoughts, and emotions as you practice.” (Stahl & Goldstein,
2010, p. 91) The most basic stretches are just as important as the most advanced poses. These
types of poses are the foundation for alignment in the body. As I worked through the various
stretches on my back, I like to inhale and exhale with every move. Breathing into the stretches
is important. The Supine Twist is a pose I really enjoy. I’m not the most flexible in my hips and
lower back, but this pose makes me feel really good. They say, any pose that is uncomfortable
or slightly painful are the ones to focus on. These are the areas where your body needs more
work or flexibility. The Leg Stretch is also a challenging pose for me. I feel a sense of limitation
physically when I do any stretches involving my hamstrings. Yoga is the union of mind and body.
I really enjoyed this exercise and the focus on the breath, stretching, and relaxation. For
someone my age, or any age for that matter, yoga brings so many wonderful benefits to your
health. It’s a true alternative medicine for the mind, body and soul.

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8
Unit

Unit 8: Physical Exercise and Activity


Information to Remember:
Key Learning Point: Yoga is a union of the mind, body, and soul. Yoga has evolved over many years and
today is considered a form of physical and spiritual enlightenment. (Seaward, 2015).
Key Learning Point: Yoga brings a better sense of awareness to the body. Sedentary lifestyles can bring
on poor physical health. The practice of yoga can bring added awareness for these components.
(Seaward, 2015).
Key Learning Point: The practice of T’ai Chi is a combination of physical movements and flow. “The
philosophy of T’ai Chi involves the manipulation of force by controlling oneself and yielding to
become part of it. “ (Seaward, 2015, p. 476).

Self-Assessment Exercises:
RATIONALE
What is the purpose of this program? In today’s corporate landscape, finding ways to reduce

health care costs and increase employee attendance, is critical for overall performance and a

healthy thriving business. Promoting a healthy work environment can increase employee morale

and increase productivity. These positive changes can move the culture of your business in a
new

and exciting direction. So much of our time each day is spent in the work place. The increased

demands and stress of work, can take its toll on management and an employee base. Our

purpose is to bring a low cost, productive wellness program that incorporates physical activity,

33
stress reduction, and nutritional guidance to you. These three initiatives are the basis of creating

a healthier employee base and a thriving company.


MINDBODY PROGRAMS/PRACTICES
Provide a list for consideration? What are you proposing? Running a business can pose

challenges when it comes to adding new programs and ideas. We specialize in a low cost

wellness program to get things rolling. The first step is a Health Risk Appraisal or Survey to get

an idea of the overall health of your base. This step does include owners and management.

Promoting wellness should come from the top and it should be an example practiced as well. The

next step in promoting physical activity, is a group walking club. This can be done before or

after work. This activity provides movement and an easy and efficient way to get exercise.

Another option is employees taking the stairs. You can hold contests to see who calculates the

most stairs each week. This is a great incentive for everyone. For stress reduction, we will offer

yoga and meditation classes each week. Each class will cover yoga and a meditation session. The

last initiative in our program is nutritional guidance. Our wellness program will provide onsite

recommendations for food availability and one on one nutritional coaching. We will also provide

recipes and cookbooks for employees to take home and cook healthier options.

SUMMARY
Providing a wellness program in today’s working culture is important for growth, and the health

of all Americans in our country. Evaluating my original pitch, I wanted to try and look at ways to

better reduce these services and cater to a business that has limited spending. The investment
in

health and lifestyle is a truly valuable return. “Findings from 56 studies on worksite programs

that were published in the American Journal of Health Promotion showed an average 27 percent

reduction in sick leave absenteeism, 26 percent reduction in health care costs, and 32 percent

34
reduction in workers’ compensation and disability management cost claims.” (Kessler)

Companies should put more focus on these types of services. There are many skilled

professionals in the health prevention field that can make a difference.

Journal Writing:
OPENNESS: After reflecting on Openness, I can see taking in our

conversation. This is a dispute regarding my Mother. After

listening to my sister’s opinion and expression, I wanted to

think for a moment before I spoke. I didn’t want to judge her

words and opinion, even though it comes from a negative

place. I wanted to look at as if it was from a different place

or perspective. There is something to gain and take from

someone else’s side as well.

EMPATHY: I envisioned a conversation I had this week with a yoga teacher. She was upset and

hurt by someone that worked at the studio. I knew about this change of events, but didn’t really

ask or pry. She was hurt because this teacher left the studio and no longer was a part of their

business. I could see the disappointment on her face. I immediately put myself in her place. I

have a big heart and I know what that pain feels like. I could feel a better sense of connection

with her after she explained to me what happened.

COMPASSION: Combined with empathy, I continued my experience with my yoga teacher after

learning of her disappointment and hurt. Prior to this, I knew something was wrong and off

about the studio. Something had changed. After her explanation of this, I wanted her to know

35
how sorry I was to hear of this. I wanted to look her in the eyes and tell her from the heart how

sorry I was that this was happening. I felt a sense of appreciation for that.

LOVING-KINDNESS: After closing my eyes, I could see and hear my conversation with my other

sister recently. She was getting married and was fearful and confused about reaching this phase

of her life. I wanted to express to her that she was going to be OK. This was not a difficult

conversation, but a conversion coming from love. I wanted her to know she would always have

support. This was from a big brother to his little sister.

SYMPATHETIC JOY: Looking at this quality, I can reflect back to another conversation I had with

my same sister. She had just landed a great job and promotion. I gave her a big hug and

expressed to her how happy I was for her, and how proud I was as well. I could tell this made

her feel good. It came from her own family and it reassuring to her that she had accomplished

something wonderful in her life.

EQUANIMITY: Reflecting on this quality, I was able to think of my step brother. When my Mom

had passed, there was incident in our family and it created a terrible wedge. After this incident,

no one wanted anything to do with him. I wanted to understand more and where this had come

from. I was the only one that reached out to him and offered to better understand him without

judgement. I didn’t want to perceive him in a different light as well. After speaking with him and

building communication, I could sense he and I felt much better because of it.

Summary

Understanding the qualities of interpersonal mindfulness can be challenging if there is no

awareness. This exercise really allowed me to better understand when these interactions are

taking place. Feeling a sense of compassion for someone right there. Not waiting later to finally

say something. These feelings can better strengthen yourself, and establish a better connection

and relationship with others.

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Unit 9: Applying Stress: Critical Issues for

9
Unit

Management and Prevention to your


Professional Life
Information to Remember:
Key Learning Point: The act of forgiveness is a coping technique used to heal from emotional wounds.
This technique is based on anger related stressors for which a shift in attitude is changed against
someone. (Seaward, 2015).
Key Learning Point: One of the oldest and most common forms of coping is prayer. Prayer is a call or
plea for help thru divine intervention. (Seaward, 2015).
Key Learning Point: Hobbies are a form of therapeutic coping as well. Healthy diversions are a healthy
coping technique, and a way to find an escape from the stressors of life or events.

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Additional Information
Primary Sources:

The practice of mindful meditation is a wonderful and powerful way to relieve stress related health
disorders. This article provides helpful information regarding this practice.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/08/mindfulness-meditation-benefits-health_n_3016045.html

Healthy eating is a lifestyle and need for many people. In today’s fast paced world, finding ways to
cook and eat health is important. This book by Dr. Andrew Weil is great resource for recipes.

Weil, Andrew, MD. Fast Food, Good Food. (2015). Little, Brown and Company New York, Boston,
London.
https://www.amazon.com/Fast-Food-Good-Healthy-Delicious/dp/0316329428/ref=sr_1_1?
ie=UTF8&qid=1491353514&sr=8-1&keywords=fast+food+good+food

Nutrition and Exercise are two of the most important components of reducing stress and
maintaining optimum health. These two websites are informative resources for educational eating and
exercise.

http://www.eatright.org/search?keyword=well

http://www.health.com

Yoga is an amazing practice for the mind, body and soul. It can be a great workout and
provide many benefits for stress relief and relaxation. This video provides some insight on the
benefits of yoga.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi7qIMXNhA0

References

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Collingwood, Jane. The Physical Effects of Long-Term Stress, https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-

physical-effects-of-long-term-stress/

Jun, Paul. Why Self-Awareness Is the Secret Weapon for Habit Change,

http://99u.com/articles/30437/its-all-our-fault-self-awareness-as-a-secret-weapon-for-habit-
change

Kessler, Sarah. (2010) How to Build a Wellness Program,

www.inc.com/guides/2010/05/wellness-program.html

Melnick, Meredith. (2013). Meditation Health Benefits: What The Practice Does To The Body.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/30/meditation-health-benefits_n_3178731.html

Seaward, B. (2015). Managing stress: Principles and strategies for health and well-being (8th ed.).

Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Stahl, B. & Goldstein, E. (2010). A mindfulness-based stress reduction workbook. Oakland, CA: New

Harbinger Publications, Inc.

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