Monday, March 18, 2013

Courses - General Education: KIN 370 - Stress Management for Healthy Living

There are a few different classes that I have very much enjoyed during my time at Cal Poly. Under the “courses” pages, I will talk about 4 of these, including an AMM Core course, an AMM Option course, a Support Course, and a General Education course.
I do warn in advance these are a bit long.

AMM Core
AMM Option
Support Course
General Education (this entry)

General Education Course
KIN 370 - Stress Management for Healthy Living
A holistic approach to stress management; preventing and/or alleviating physical symptoms of stress; exploration of the mind/body connection.

     In this class, I learned a lot from this class about stress, what causes it, and how to deal with it. It wasn’t too difficult a class, but I think I made a very good decision in taking it because of everything I got out of it. I was lucky to have taken this class as a lecture and not online, because as opposed to the online course, we were able to do progressive muscle relaxation and yoga – I’ll explain more in a bit. My professor was a character, and had a lot of fun teaching this course, so it made it much more interesting and entertaining for us students.

     I did very well in this class, both as a grade and also for learning lessons applicable to the real world. Some classes I come out of I feel like I hadn’t learned much, but that was not the case for this class. Both the lecture portion about the history of, types of, and dealing with stress, and doing progressive muscle relaxation allowed me to grow as a person and be more self-reflective of how I interact with others, and how to assure stress doesn’t take over your life.
     Before, I never really stopped to think about what other people are going through in life, and how all of us have a lot of stress on our plates. I’m able to look at people a bit differently and to be more patient, because we all have a million and one things on our minds, and that causes distractions. It’d be ideal if everyone had the opportunity to take this class like I have, so they can learn how to deal with the stress they face in their everyday lives. 

Journal Entries
     One assignment we had to do was choose a book from our professor’s approved list, and write journal entries about the chapters we read each week. I chose the book The Anger Management Sourcebook, by Schiraldi & Kerr, because I felt anger was something I wanted to work on about myself. I definitely learned some great skills from this book, and I noticed that my perspective pertaining to stress and natural anger had changed. I began to understand that everyone gets angry, but you can learn how to not get so angry so often.
I wrote a lot of personal things in these journal entries, but here’s an example:

Distortions are automatic thought habits that do not serve us well. Distortions are picked up along the way of life, and therefore go unchallenged. When we learn how to identify, challenge, and replace these thoughts, we’re able to better control our anger. The book goes through twelve types of these distortions; I’ll focus on a few of them that stick out to me.

#1 – irritation fixation: focusing on what’s wrong or irritating. With this you constantly focus on the negative and push the positive aside or ignore it. I think a lot of people do this, and it’s a shame. It’s odd how in life we tend to focus on the bad experiences, and overlook the good ones. Maybe we’d all be happier if we were able to turn our thoughts around from negative to positive and have a more pleasant outlook on life.
#5 – overgeneralizing: deciding your negative experience applies to all situations. I definitely find myself doing this. For example, I’ve made plans with different people, and they bail out or don’t show up. This leads to “no one is trustworthy in this way, and no one keeps their promises.” The book offers instead that some people will let you down, but not all. The word some is a much better use, because each situation with each person is different.
#12 – regrets: we all have them; we all look back and think “if only I hadn’t…” we can look at these mistakes and make amends, but we can’t go back and change the past. Instead of looking back, reflect on what happened, and change it next time in the future. This is something I should work on. I’m not too good at self-reflection, but I should take a third person look at my actions, and see how I can correct them for next time.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation
     This was an extremely unique experience. It’s defined as a technique for reducing anxiety by alternately tensing and relaxing the muscles. The physical component of PMR involves the tensing and relaxing of muscle groups over the legs, abdomen, chest, arms and face. With the eyes closed and in a sequential pattern, a tension in a given muscle group is purposefully done for approximately 10 seconds and then released for 20 seconds before continuing with the next muscle group. The mental component focuses on the difference between the feelings of the tension and relaxation. Because the eyes are closed, one is forced to concentrate on the sensation of tension and relaxation.
     We did this exercise in the gym on big floor mats in order to give ourselves a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday school life, worrying what we had to do next, and where we needed to be. After our sessions, I felt a state of extreme relaxation, and I was at peace. It was typical for many of us to fall asleep during the exercise, but nonetheless it was wonderful to be able to just have time to relax and not have to have anything else on your mind.
     It was interesting that my anger management book referenced PMR as well. It definitely showed that it was something that really can help reduce and control anger. Being able to meditate, relax your body, and calm your mind a few times a week will definitely help to find your inner peace and make you less likely to get so angry. I enjoyed doing this in class, because afterward I found myself very calm and ready to deal with the rest of my day.

     We also did a few sessions of yoga. It was fun learning different positions they do in yoga classes, and it was a lot more strenuous than PMR. You have to have a lot of balance and stamina, but it is definitely a great technique to control stress and let yourself relax. I don’t think yoga would be something I’d actively pursue, but maybe one day if I find I’m having trouble relaxing myself, I may decide to take a class.

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