Stress and Wellness Management I saw a woman in the aisle of a grocery store pushing a cart, which held a screaming toddler. In a very calm, quiet voice she was saying, “Don’t scream, Jessica. Don’t yell Jessica. Be calm.” I had to admire the way she handled the stress of that moment. I went over to her and told her how wonderfully I thought she dealt with her baby. She replied, . …“I am Jessica.” -Rabbi Bernard Cohen
How would you define stress?• Your ideas• Share with your partner• Whip around• What do you notice about our class definitions?• Did anyone indicate that stress is a good thing?
2 Stories to think about.• When I was 16 • When I was 46
Same physiological response tocompletely different perceptions. Why?
Stress and Stressors Defined:• Stress: The mind and body’s response to a perceived threat or challenge or, any change that takes place to the autonomic nervous system. – Note that stress is not a thing rather it is a reaction to a perception of something (this is called a stressor)• Stressor: The event or perception that causes the mind/body to elicit a stress response.
1915 Harvard Scientist describes the stress response• Walter Cannon experimenting on rats notices some consistent behaviors of them when they are being injected.• Terms this the stress response aka: Fight/flight.• This was part of the G.A.S. or general adaptation syndrome (which is the body’s response to stress.)
Stress Response/Fast Response• When a threat is perceived the fight/flight response takes place.• Energy is instantly mobilized and several hormones released. Their common name is adrenaline.• Blood pressure, breathing rate and heart rate go up, digestion and other bodily functions are suppressed to allow all available energy to save your life.
Stress Response/Slow response• After the adrenaline is released a second hormone is manufactured in the body called cortisol.• Cortisol’s job is to release additional stores of energy that replace the energy used up to fight or run away.• Cortisol has several drawbacks if distress is chronic and constant (more on this later.)
Distress• Most people think of stress as something bad. Consider our class definition of stress.• Negative stress or distress can initiate the stress response sometimes called the “flight/fight response.• Mobilizes the body to fight for its life. It’s a self- preservation adaptation. This actually can be a good thing!
Not all Stress is Bad• It can save your life!• Stress can be motivational!• Eustress: From the word Euphoria• Pleasant and Curative Stress• Comes from elation and perceived events that are exciting• Can give us the “Rush”• Competitive edge
Age related stressors• Consider the things throughout a persons life that might be stressful• Today’s song considers just that.
Teen Stressors• Parents expectations• Driving and all that goes with it.• Peers relationships, friends, enemies.• Time management. Finding time for yourself.• School, homework, responsibilities, tests, projects, grades, relationships with teachers and classmates.• College application process!!!! • Sexuality, dating• Graduation• Big events, concerts, parties, prom, homecoming.• Identity, self awareness, spirituality, appearance, fitting in.• Peer influences including drugs/alcohol, smoking, eating healthy• Performances: Sports, music, drama, art.• Money, car, job interview and job requirements.• Sleep.
Most of today’s stressors are not life threatening, yet their cumulative effect can be.• Consider the typical things that “stress” you out today.• Examples?• Not all people perceive all of these as stressful.• How many of the stressors we listed are actually benefited by the stress response? – Many of these stressors are classified as chronic psychological stress.
General Adaptation Syndrome (stress response) broken down:• Fast Response outline:• Stress is perceived• Brain quickly signals sympathetic nervous system. to turn on and a nerve signals the adrenal glands (on the top of the kidneys) to release adrenaline. This happens in seconds.)• Adrenaline is composed of two major hormones, epinephrine (body) and norepinephrine (brain.)• These hormones are dumped into a major vein that leads directly back to the heart.
Fast Response continued:• Once adrenaline enters the blood stream a whole series of physiological effects take place.• Blood pressure, heart, and breathing rate go up, along with increased muscle tension.• Blood flow is redirected to major muscle groups.• We become hyper-vigilent• More red blood cells produced and clotting factors in blood .• We become physically ready “for anything!”
Slow response:• This takes several minutes (3-5)• Hypothalamus releases a hormone (CRF) to stimulate the pituitary gland to release the hormone ACTH.• ACTH travels to the adrenal glands and begins the production of cortisol.• Cortisol signals liver to release stores of fat and sugar to replenish cells that have used up their energy reserves.
Why don’t Zebras Get Ulcers?• Their stress is not chronic it is acute.• They don’t worry about their job responsibilities, blind dates, ozone depletion, global warming, taxes or living on a fixed income.• Their stress response does what it evolved to do.• Hormones cycle quickly and return to base level.
Stress response is great for Acute Stress(instantaneous life threatening stress or eustress events )• It is a primitive response that has evolved over millions of years.• This is a beautiful thing as it works to virtually save our lives and add spice to life.• Consider how often it happens in modern society/consider our age related stressors.
Chronic Societal Stress (Sustained, constant threats)• This is the dis-stress that can cause dis-ease.• War, grief, financial, workload, relationships, etc.• This is the stress associated with emotional outbursts, frustration, fatigue and illness. This stress can also lead people to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.
Most of today’s stress we face is chronic rather than acute.• Chronic stress creates a host of problems including constantly elevated cortisol levels which result in:• Suppressed immune function• Suppressed digestion (ulcers)• Shuts down growth and repair of cells – Especially in the brain!• Over time can cause weight gain• Clinical anxiety and depression
Stress in the Classroom• Some stress is good.• Keeps you motivated, excited, and alert.• 3 conditions for optimal learning in a classroom:• Relaxed Alertness (low threat but high challenge.)• Active Processing (student involvement in the subject/concepts)• Orchestrated Immersion (students taking it to the next level)
Who creates the conditions for the optimum classroom? Where is the responsibility?• Relaxed Alertness?• Active Processing?• Orchestrated Immersion?
Downshifting:• A model to explain emotional and sometimes violent behavior associated with the stress response.• Consider the emotional outburst that take place in family and friend relationships. Almost all are associated with stress and fear of the situation.
Downshifting• A model based on the triune/triplex theory of brain evolution that attempts to explain why we become emotional or even violent when we are stressed.
Downshifting refers to our brain working like a motor vehicle’s gears
What is the problem with the downshifting model?
Why might this be a better model?• Uses the entire brain.• Looks at the differences between stressed vs. not stressed• Still indicates that our response system is cued to our level of stress.• But be careful when using this model, why?• Reflexive and reflective are easily confused. How will you tell them apart?
One of the biggest factors thatcan create a reflexive response is a lack of …
So why don’t some people seem stressed?• Remember stress is the mind and body’s reaction to a perceived threat or challenge.• Past experiences and genetics may determine our perception of threats & challenges and brain chemistry.• Relative health, age, social situation and fatigue can change our perceptions of what is stressful.• Some people manage their stress in healthy ways.
So what’s a stressed person to do?• Stress/Wellness Management – A lifestyle priority – A plan that works for you. • You have a variety of options • These options give you a sense of control-There is hope.
If there is a stress response, is there a relaxation response?
The Relaxation Response-the opposite of the stress response.• Dr. Herbert Benson/ Harvard Cardiologist founder of the Benson/Henry institute for mind and body.• Western Medicine meets eastern philosophy.• 1975 he describes the relaxation response• Meditation elicits a strong mind/body experience.• Long term benefits
What does Meditation do?• The relaxation response: Lowers heart, respiration rate and B.P.• Increases feel-good chemicals in the brain• Helps to cycle cortisol• Brings on feelings of wellbeing – After 4-5 weeks of regular meditation the person’s response to chronic stress is greatly suppressed. – Acts like a alpha/beta blocking drug for the heart.
How to do the Relaxation Response• Do this first thing in the morning.• Sit in a comfortable chair in a quiet environment• Close your eyes and relax your body.• Focus on a word/phrase/thought that keeps you in the moment. Examples: calm, relax, smooth, warm, peace.• You may use a relaxation cd to aid you. There are many types. We will explore several.• Do this everyday for 15-20 minutes or two 10 minute sessions.
Meditation is a learned skill• Many people practice it for years and still have difficulty getting into the zone!• Tapping into the Autonomic nervous system, how?• The breath is the porthole to the a.n.s.• We can consciously control the breath which is also an autonomic response.
What are the physiological responses that indicate you are achieving desire results.• How will you know if it is working? How could they tell in the movie?• Biofeedback (life information)• Heart rate, blood pressure, brain waves, breathing rate, body temperature, stress hormones, muscle tension, and perceived emotional state. Consider what happens to each of these in a stress response, so what would take place in the relaxation response?• We will use heart rate and temperature of extremeties.
Applications for meditation and biofeedback.• What are the health benefits of the meditation/relaxation response? Consider the film.• Stress and stress related health disorders including: heart disease, pain management, athletic and academic performance, ADHD, depression/anxiety, sleep disorders, digestion disorders, improved immune function.
Let’s try our first experience with the relaxation response.• Progressive Muscle is one of the best ways to initiate the relaxation response for beginners.• It gives the participant something to focus on and also provides the opportunity to contrast the feelings of tension with real relaxation.• Participate at the highest level you are capable of doing. I will try to provide the best environment for you to do this.
In your Journal: write Progressive Muscle Relaxation• Record your initial biofeedback information.• After the session write a brief description of how the relaxation technique is performed.• Include a reaction to the technique and the biofeedback results for after the session.
Autogenic Meditation: Mindfulness• This meditation focuses on the breath.• It is the porthole to the autonomic nervous system. Autogenic-Autonomic.• This meditation keeps you focused on your breath and opens you up to relaxing all of your muscles through the breath. You visualize them as warm, heavy, smooth, and loose.• Let’s get some biofeedback and try it.
What does exercise do?• Ever feel really good after a good workout?• Endorphin release• Dopamine production• Balances cortisol• Energizes and grows new body and mind
New research on exercise has shown many additional benefits for the brain.• Intelligence: exercise primes the brain to learn easier and faster!• Depression: exercise makes the brain produce trophic factors that start neurogenesis and reduce depression as significantly as anti-depressants.• Anxiety: Changes perception – eliminates fear.• ADD: exercise is as effective as many ADD drugs.
What type of exercise and how often should I do it?• In a perfect world you would exercise for a minimum of one hour per day, six days a week.• 2 days of resistance (weight training) and 4 days of cardiovascular training (running, swimming, active sport.)
Guided Imagery Meditation• Daydreaming, a mental vacation.• No ANTs! (they get you nowhere!)• Automatic Negative Thoughts
Guided Imagery takes you to a restful place.• First relax and then become open to suggestion, visualize in great detail and multisensory experiences a beautiful, safe, inviting, and restful environment.• Achieve a mental state that is relaxed and at peace.• Let’s try it.
Diet and Stress• We often hear the expression, “You are what you eat.” Well what did you eat for breakfast?• Protein, it’s what’s for breakfast. Or rather, it’s what should be for breakfast. Why?• Protein is a diet pathway to alertness.• What foods are high in protein?
How does protein help wake us up in the morning?• Protein contains significant amounts of an amino acid (the building blocks of protein) called tyrosine.• Tyrosine is an important ingredient in the neurotransmitter dopamine.• Dopamine is associated with reward, energy, alertness, and excitement.
Other foods can have brain impacts as well.• Comfort food?• What makes something comfort food?• Foods that have a high content of the amino acid trytophan get used by the body to make a neurotransmitter called serotonin.• Serotonin is associated with comfort, focus, being calm and relaxed.
Thanksgiving is coming, So … does eating turkey make you tired?
The Great Turkey Myth• Turkey is high in the amino acid trytophan, so many people have erroneously thought that is why we get sleepy after eating Thanksgiving dinner.• Turkey is also high in tyrosine. When both amino acids are present the tyrosine producing the dopamine overrides the tryptophan serotonin production and alertness ensues.
So why do people get tired after Thanksgiving dinner?• Your ideas?• Consider the carbs that they eat.• Also as large quantities of food are consumed blood flow is directed to the digestive tract causing us to feel sluggish and less awake.• Consider the environment as well, home with family and friends.
Brain Storm: Why do people take drugs (including alcohol?)• Escape.• Because of Stress. (to help relax)• To reduce pain both physical and emotional (to feel better.)• Curiosity.• Recreation- excitement-energy.• To be social/lose inhibitions/fit in.• Addiction.
What if every time someone took drugs or alcohol it felt like this?
Based on the reasons we listed and theirreal effects on the mind and body, drugs must offer us something. In other words…• they work! If they didn’t …• they do in fact create at least a temporary change in how we feel and act.
So… how do neurotransmitters relate to the way drugs and alcohol work on our brains?• They work one of 3 possible ways:• #1 The drug can chemically resemble and work like the actual neurotransmitter.• #2 The drug can stimulate neurons to release their neurotransmitters.• #3 The drug can prevent the reuptake of neurotransmitters by the signaling neuron.
Example: Ecstasy• Ecstasy aka: xtc, mdma. This is a common drug used at raves.• It works by blocking the reuptake of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. This increases its amount in the synapse.• The individual may then experience increased energy, euphoria, and the suppression of certain inhibitions in relating to other people.• In other words… “They get high.”
So… if drugs and alcohol work like the actual neurotransmitters or workwith the brain, why then can they be a bad choice for us?• Brain storm: your ideas?
• As you indicated drugs and alcohol can be:• illegal, addictive, change perception to the point of intoxication causing people to make poor decisions, their benefit is usually temporary and masks real issues we need to address, many have serious side effects both physical and emotional. It should be noted that drugs also can cause serious imbalance in neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
When the brain chemistry becomes out ofbalance this can lead to mental/emotional disease and other brain disorders. These changes can become long lasting.
It is important to note that some drugs can actually provide benefits to certain individuals.• Prescription drugs: they are controlled, monitored and legal.• Many carry with them side effects. Despite side effects, the benefits can outweigh the detriments of the drug.• Examples include: antidepressants (SSRI), muscle relaxers, pain killers, and medical marijuana.
If drugs and alcohol workby imitating, or increasing neurotransmitter levels;what does that tell us about the brain?
So our brain can feel good on its own!• Our brain has the potential to reward itself.• This is how we are often motivated to do things that require effort and enjoy the satisfaction that comes with it.• Many people already take advantage of this on some level.• You can and already do too!
What is it called when we dosomething without the use of drugs/alcohol that makes us feel good, happy, relaxed, excited, or content?
Natural Highs …• are created by your own brain chemistry without the use of drugs or alcohol.• work by the release of neurotransmitters under authentic experiences.• are free of harmful physical and mental side effects.• can create positive addictions that benefit the overall well being of the individual.• are legal in all 50 states.
Doing exciting things can release adrenaline and dopamine creating a controlled rush of energy and euphoria.)
Because we are complex social organisms we have evolved a brain that allows us to reward ourselves for doing things for others.When we help others our brain releases endorphins, and the neurotransmitter dopamine, these neurotransmitters hit a reward button in our brain.
Meditation releases stress by reducing/balancing stress hormones and releasing serotonin throughout the brain.• Regular daily meditation can create tremendous feelings of well being, peace and tranquility that carry over into the rest of your day.
Regular strenuous exercise creates a complex naturalhigh, releasing many neurotransmitters. This elevatesenergy, mood, endurance, and tremendous mind and body benefits.
College Study• In a controlled study, college students who exercised regularly decreased their binge drinking by 30%.• Those who meditated decreased their binge drinking by 30%.• Those who both meditated and exercised regularly decreased their binge drinking by 60%.• Why?
Hobbies/avocations let us escape the everyday stressors• They keep us in the moment.• They can be very rewarding.• They can be exhilarating.• Release dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline.• Provide us with something to anticipate.
Consider the complex natural high of competitive drum corps• Competition• Performance• Travel• Friends• Music• High Challenge• Sacrifice
Other Natural Highs: Brain storm• Travel• Listening to music.• Attending shows/concerts/movies.• Performing music, plays.• Writing & Reading• Getting a massage• Pets• Being outdoors• Falling in Love• Celebrations/parties• Performing/attending sporting events.• Dancing• Creating art.• And many more.
Side Effects Associated with Stress Reduction & Wellness management• Health!• Happiness!• Friendships/Love!• A Feeling of Radiant well-being!• Success!• Memories that can last a lifetime!
So why don’t people just use natural highs instead of drugs and alcohol?• Good Question! What do you think?• Natural highs require some effort, knowledge and commitment. – Find something you want and like to do. – Work at it, practice it, learn about it. – And you will be able to …
Enjoy your brain and exploit its potential to bring you peace of mind, happiness, and physical well being for a lifetime.
Journal write:• What are you presently doing for your natural highs?• Comment on the things that bring you happiness, excitement, joy, relaxation, comfort.• Include a discussion about your level of exercise.• Extra Credit Opportunity: see moodle!
Psychoneuroimmunology• Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. PNI takes an interdisciplinary approach, incorporating psychology, neuroscience, immunology, physiology, pharmacology, molecular biology, psychiatry, behavioral medicine, infectious diseases, endocrinology, and rheumatology.
The main interests of PNI are the interactions between the nervous and immune systems and the relationships between mental processes and health.• The tenets of Psychoneuroimmunology are based on the fact that the immune system is comprised of lymphocytes (white blood cells.) These cells include both T cells which attack foreign invaders and B cells that mark foreign with antibodies that then allow them to be identified and destroyed by T cells have membranes sensitive to cortisol.
Cortisol and Lymphocytes (white blood cells)• The cortisol actually compromises the lymphocyte cells’ ability to fight infectious diseases and tumors. In some cases it actually kills the white blood cells. In other cases it binds with the cell membrane and reduces its impact on pathogens (disease causing agents) suppressing their ability to fight infections.
Stress and Cancer• Studies in both animals and humans have noted a reduction by as much as 50 percent in levels of immune-system cells called natural killer cells following exposure to various forms of stress. Natural killer cells (NK cells) typically function within the immune system to identify viruses and cancer cells. In one study of breast cancer patients, the level of emotional stress caused by the initial cancer diagnosis was directly related to NK cell activity. From animal studies, we know that cortisol not only suppresses the number and activity of NK cells, but also promotes the synthesis of new blood vessels in tumors and accelerates the growth of tumors.
Modern medicine meets eastern philosophies.• So… combining traditional medicine along with stress management techniques such as discussed with regards to diet, exercise, meditation, sleep/rest the immune function can be improved by lowering and balancing cortisol levels.
Brain studies in its Historical Perspective• Article: Reinvention of the Self about Elizabeth Gould.• The history of cognitive science.• The scientific method.• The content derived from research.• The implications of the findings of research.
The Reinvention of the Self:The Story of Neurogenesis.• Paradigm shift in cognitive science.• Early brain studies courses neurogenesis wasn’t really considered.• While we knew that neurons could change there was no evidence that new neurons could form during a primates adult life.• Elizabeth Gould’s research changes all of thatwith marmosets.