Elective - Health 1250: Stress Management
To satisfy the two elective credit requirement, I signed up for Health 1250: Stress Management in the Spring Semester of 2017. My reasoning behind signing up for the stress management course above any other elective class was that I have struggled with social anxiety, depression, and stress since I was a child and I wanted to learn some helpful techniques to manage these problems. At the beginning of the course, I thought that it would be an "Easy A" as well as teaching effective methods of managing stress. In a way, it was an easier course, but I also relearned about Human Biology and budgeting, along with learning some new concepts such as music therapy and about holistic methods of medicine that complement traditional medicine. Additionally, I learned many different theories on stress and approaches to managing stress. Challenges I faced in this course were mainly completing the book work, and making sure that I wrote enough entries into the required journal. For this course, I am including my project detailing four different stress management methods I intend to utilize in the future, including Ecotherapy, Humor therapy, Music therapy, and Pet therapy.
Stress Management Project
For this project, I chose the four stress management techniques that I felt the most drawn to over the length of the course, and also some techniques that were not covered in class. These were namely Humor therapy, Music therapy, Ecotherapy, and pet therapy. I sincerely feel that these are the most effective techniques for me to manage my stress, depression, and social anxiety problems in a positive way.
Humor Therapy, or comic relief, is defined as the use of humor to promote well-being through positive thoughts, attitudes, and emotions by counterbalancing the detrimental effects of stress or other negative thoughts, perceptions, and emotions on one’s health. There are many different types of humor that can be used in humor therapy to heal one’s mental, physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual self. A few of my personal favorites are parody/satire, dry humor/puns, double entendre and “raunchy” humor, black humor, and a light form of sarcasm that makes people laugh not cry. Why I chose this particular stress management technique to be first is due to the fact that everyone likes to laugh, it’s free and always readily available, and it is very true that laughter is the best medicine. I know from personal experience that it can always bring you back up when you’re feeling down or just need a quick pick me up. How I plan to use this technique in my life is not to take things so seriously all of the time, and learn how to laugh at myself more. Additionally, I plan to watch or listen to more comedy shows in the future starting with George Carlin’s outstanding humor and try to be more outgoing with the humorous things I think up. I plan to use this technique VERY often, since it is one of the best for people with depression, and I just really love to laugh. My expectations are that over time I will become a happier and more upbeat person and that I will definitely see many health benefits, including lessening my depression, I will have to deal with having laughter lines when I get older, but I think I can happily take that reality in stride. I can foresee this method causing a type of healing in my mental, physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual self, causing me to be a happier, friendlier, and more outgoing person overall.
Music Therapy is defined as listening to, singing, or playing music to promote relaxation and homeostasis in one’s physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual wellbeing. The book advocates listening to Classical or New Age music, which is fine, but I prefer more Rock and Roll type music such as the Grateful Dead and other 1960s and 1970s music that is light and conveys freedom, and other hippie values. Some reasons why I chose Music therapy as my second method is that it is very accessible and available at any time, it can help you relax or let out pent up emotions, and I just love to listen to music all the time and every day. It is my go-to technique whenever I feel depressed, stressed, or truly any emotions at all. How I plan to use or continue to use this technique is to listen to peaceful and calming music, and try to discover new songs and musicians that allow me to release any pent up emotions. I plan to use music therapy anytime I can do so, since finding and listening to new music is a hobby of mine, and I’m addicted to hearing music every day that I can. I expect this technique to cause me to become more aware of the music that is out there, as well as providing many different benefits to me personally such as increased happiness and the overwhelming urge to get up and dance around. I can foresee that this method will continue to positively add to my life in the future, as it has in the past. Music therapy will enhance my physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual wellbeing.
Ecotherapy is a type of therapy that restores optimal health and well-being through routine exposure to and experience in the natural world. It has become a mostly lost, but crucial way of restoring harmony and wonder to one’s self in the modern world, due in no small part to our gradual shift into working and spending most of our time indoors. Consequently, we have become disconnected from the environment and protecting it from actions of degradation and outright destruction. Why I chose this as one of my methods of stress management is that I love to do walking meditations and experience the interesting and wonderful aspects of nature and my surrounding neighborhood. Additionally, as a child I was severely depressed and did not get out in the sun enough causing even further bouts of depression since I was now deficient in appreciation of nature and Vitamin D. I feel that now as an adult I NEED to go outside for walks and if at all possible hikes all the time, since I really missed out as a child and adolescent on the outstanding qualities of nature. How I will apply this technique in my life is to make a point of going outside for walking meditations, and to appreciate the natural beauty of the Earth as much as I can. I desperately want to utilize Ecotherapy as much as possible, so that I can get my necessary vitamin D and benefit from the healing effects of nature. How I can foresee this impacting my life is by making me a happier, more well-adjusted, and spiritual person, since being out in nature causes me to feel very spiritually uplifted and healthy. Also, I could become a healthier person overall and have enhanced spiritual, environmental, physical, emotional, intellectual, and mental attributes in my life. It would be an outstanding change in my life to get outside more often.
Pet-assisted therapy is a subcategory of massage or touch therapy that involves the use of petting/hand contact with pets to promote relaxation and healing among many different groups of people, who all claim better health through decreased heart rate and blood pressure values. This therapy has also proved scientifically to release the endorphins and neurochemicals that cause relaxation, happiness, emotional/mental healing and bonding. Why I chose to include pet therapy is that I know that it actually works, and is very effective at helping those with depression, loneliness, and social anxiety disorder, since it provides some measure of physical touch and bonding to individuals with these issues. I have found that it is quite impossible to be depressed or lonely when you have cats or other pets around because they liven up a room and provide entertainment and fun as well as bonding and physical touch. How I will use this in my life is to continue to play with, laugh at, bond with and pet my two cats Ellie, the white and gray cat, and Buster, the Black Cat. I plan to use pet therapy pretty much every day since I already have two cats and they are really loving and affectionate. The impact on my life is that I will pretty much always have pets to love on and appreciate, which will lower my stress levels and make me a healthier person overall. Pet-assisted therapy will add to my physical well-being through the release of more endorphins and neurochemicals, and the fact that a cat’s purr can heal physical injuries. It will also enhance my mental, emotional, spiritual, and perhaps my environmental attributes if I do something like wildlife rehabilitation in the future, which I may want to do.
Make connections between what you studied in this elective course with what you’ve learned in other courses at SLCC or before. Make specific references to your work in this class and other courses. How did what you learn in the other courses enhance what you learned in here, and vice versa?
The stress management course briefly went over one of the concepts I had previously learned about in my Interdisciplinary EDU 1020: Essentials of College Study course the previous semester. This idea was on how important and crucial it is to plan and follow a budget while you are in college so that you know how much you can spend each month on discretionary items, and can avoid needing to apply for student loans if at all possible. Most of this course was new to me since while I had heard about methods of alternative medicine, I usually discredited it as pseudoscience and not useful at all. I now understand that stress relief techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation are very helpful in managing stress. Learning about stress management also helped me to speak up more in my other courses, be assertive, and to be more confident in myself in general, so it undoubtedly assisted in my college success.