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Stressfulness to Mindfulness. University of St. Thomas UAWE March 13, 2014 Jolynn Gardner, Ph.D., CHES. How would you finish this sentence in one word ?. Stress is ___________ . Assumptions About Stress. Stress is a part of life.

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stressfulness to mindfulness

Stressfulness to Mindfulness

University of St. Thomas

UAWE March 13, 2014

Jolynn Gardner, Ph.D., CHES

assumptions about stress
Assumptions About Stress

Stress is a part of life.

Stress, when overwhelming or unrelenting, can literally make us sick or cause us harm.

But, stress can be good (really!).

assumptions about stress1
Assumptions About Stress

We create some of (a lot of?) our own stress.

We can control our perceptions of and reactions to stress.

Resiliency to stress can be learned and cultivated.

how vulnerable are you to the effects of stress
How Vulnerable Are You to the Effects of Stress?

Consider the following questions:

Do you get at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night?

Do you exercise or engage in physical activity at least 3 days per week?

Do you eat at least one “healthy and balanced” meal per day?

how vulnerable are you to the effects of stress1
How Vulnerable Are You to the Effects of Stress?

Consider the following questions:

Do you have at least one family member or friend on whom you can rely?

Do you have meaningful conversations with family and friends?

Do you convey your feelings openly and calmly when you are frustrated, angry, or worried?

how vulnerable are you to the effects of stress2
How Vulnerable Are You to the Effects of Stress?

Consider the following questions:

Do you have an income that allows you to meet your basic needs?

Do you feel you can organize your time efficiently?

Do you feel you are in “good” health, even if you have a chronic health condition?

how vulnerable are you to the effects of stress3
How Vulnerable Are You to the Effects of Stress?

Consider the following questions:

Do you derive strength from your spiritual beliefs?

Do you take quiet time for yourself each day?

Do you do something fun at least once per week?

how vulnerable are you to the effects of stress4
How Vulnerable Are you to the Effects of Stress?

Review your answers to the preceding questions.

Any “NO” responses may indicate increased vulnerability to stress.

Are there things you would like to change?

the process of stress
The Process of Stress
  • Stressor  Perception  Strain Enduring Outcomes


Process Model of Stress

(Heaney & vanRyn, 1991)

the process of stress1
The Process of Stress

STRESSOR: objective conditions in the physical or social environment.

PERCEPTION: what you think and feel about a stressor.

STRAIN: the response to stress.

ENDURING OUTCOMES: health conditions, diseases, and behaviors which become more likely due to stress.

COPING: anything you might do to reduce, eliminate, or mitigate stress.

the process of stress strain
The Process of Stress: STRAIN
  • When you perceive stress:
    • heart rate increases
    • blood pressure increases
    • muscles tense
    • glucose, fatty acid, and protein concentrations in the blood increase
    • peripheral blood vessels constrict
    • breathing rate increases
    • immune response temporarily increases, then declines
the process of stress enduring outcomes
The Process of Stress: ENDURING OUTCOMES
  • The following have all been linked to STRESS:
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Immunosuppression
  • Obesity (and accumulation of abdominal fat)
  • Muscle tension / Bracing

-- (Thoits, 2010)

the process of stress enduring outcomes1
The Process of Stress: ENDURING OUTCOMES

Stress may be a factor in exacerbating health conditions, including:


Grinding of teeth (bruxism)

Irritable bowel disease

Allergies & autoimmune disorders

Depression & anxiety

Memory impairment

(Thoits, 2010)

the process of stress enduring outcomes2
The Process of Stress: ENDURING OUTCOMES

Harmful behaviors (alcohol abuse, drug abuse, eating disorders, personal injury, gambling, etc.)

Interpersonal conflict & violence

Organizational effects (lower job satisfaction, reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, etc.)

Societal effects (lower empathy, less tolerance, higher health care costs, etc.)

the process of stress2
The Process of Stress

A situation can be stressful or not -- it all depends on your perception of the event

A response to stress can be effective or not -- it depends on your resources and coping strategies

Coping may well be the most important element in successful stress management.

New coping strategies & styles can be learned.

It’s probably wise to cultivate a variety of coping strategies and resources.

the rationale for change
The Rationale for Change

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.

coping how and when
Coping: How and When?

Can occur at any point in the stress process.

Target: stressor, perception, or response

Each person and situation is unique.

the power of perception
The Power of Perception
  • "Stress resides neither in the situation nor in the person, it depends on a transaction between the two."
                  • Richard Lazarus, Ph.D.– stress researcher and psychologist
cognitive coping
Cognitive Coping

How you think and feel about a stressor

Our thoughts can help us cope, or ….

Our thoughts can actually create more stress.

Effective Cognitive Coping: rational, realistic, optimistic thinking

assumptions about cognitive coping
Assumptions About Cognitive Coping

“…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. “ -- Hamlet, Act II, Scene II

Your interpretations of stressors, not the stressors themselves, cause stress.

You can control your interpretation of stressors.

Sometimes, it is rational and realistic to interpret stressors as threatening or challenging.

Often, though, circumstances are unnecessarily and unrealistically interpreted as threatening.

perception research
Perception Research

Believing that something is awful or stressful can often make it so.

However, believing that you have the capacity to address the stressor often results in more positive personal outcomes, even when the challenge is significant.

--McGonigal, 2013

self talk

If we talked to our friends the way we talk to ourselves, we’d have no friends.

Positive self-talk: helps us cope

Negative self-talk: makes situation worse than it actually is

How do you talk to yourself???

positive self talk re examining beliefs
Positive Self-Talk: Re-Examining Beliefs
  • Much of our negative self-talk is grounded in irrational beliefs.
    • Examples:
    • Unworthiness, perfectionism, shame, worry, pessimism
  • Recognize irrational beliefs.
  • Change irrational beliefs so that they are more realistic(note: it’s OK to ask for help with this!)
physical coping
Physical Coping

Sometimes, changing our thinking isn’t possible or just doesn’t help!

Physical Coping: activities and practices that focus on relaxing the body (and eventually the mind, too).

just breathe
Just Breathe!

Diaphragmatic / deep breathing.

One of the easiest and most effective coping strategies.

Slows breathing and heart rate, calms mind, eases muscle tension.

other coping techniques
Other Coping Techniques
  • Music
  • Humor
  • Prayer
  • Hobbies
  • Massage
  • Talking with friends / family
  • Movies / TV
  • Volunteering
  • Exercise / Physical Activity
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Visualization
  • Relaxation Exercises
  • Journaling
  • Crying
what about stress prevention
What about stress prevention?

Is it possible??

YES! Life will never be completely free of stress, but it can be significantly less stressful.

mindfulness stress prevention
Mindfulness: Stress Prevention

Living in the present; enjoying the journey

State of being attentive to and aware of what is taking place in the present

Attending wholly to all situations and striving to be completely engaged

Focus on what-is, rather than what-if

Who we are is more important than what we do

Results in more contemplative choices

research on mindfulness and stress
Research on Mindfulness and Stress
  • Mindfulness practices:
    • Help us focus on priorities
    • Reduce perceptions of stress
    • Relieve anxiety
    • Enhance feelings of forgiveness
    • Improve self-compassion

(Oman, 2008; Deckro, et al, 2002; Carmody, 2008; Caldwell, 2010)

the full circle
The Full Circle
  • Mindfulness to Contentment
    • Mindfulness: focusing attention on life as it is
    • Yields greater awareness of self, surroundings, others
    • Translates to more tolerance of and compassion for self and others
    • Leads to increased concern for others and commitment to the common good
    • Increases desire to serve and to cultivate social support
    • You come to believe in others and yourself, which leads to resiliency
the full circle1
The Full Circle
  • Mindfulness =
          • Altruism =
              • Resiliency =
                  • Contentment
the antidote for stress
The Antidote For Stress

You were never meant to live a stressed-out, freaked-out, or burnt-out life.

  • Be in the present
  • Learn from the past
  • Reach out to others
  • Help create the future
  • Realize your purpose
stressfulness to mindfulness1
Stressfulness to Mindfulness

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

-- Mother Teresa

“Right now, this very moment, is where life is truly lived.”

-- Richard Carlson, 2006

the formula for less stress and greater resiliency
The Formula for Less Stress and Greater Resiliency

Mindfulness Gratitude

Forgiveness Optimism

Tolerance Compassion

Service Faith

Hope Spirituality

Mix well; enjoy daily; thrive & live joyfully. 

recommended reading
Recommended Reading

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene’ Brown.

Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin Seligman.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: And it’s all Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.


Greenberg, J. (2008). Comprehensive Stress Management, 10th ed. McGraw-Hill Publishers. New York, NY. p. 28-29.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine NCCAM;

Micozzi, M. (2006). National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Fundamentals of Complementary and Integrative Medicine (3rd ed.)

Skinner, E., Edge, K., Altman, J, & Sherwood, H. (2003). Searching for the structure of coping: A review and critique of category systems for classifying ways of coping. Psychological Bulletin, 129(2). 216-269.

Carlson, R. (2006) You Can Be Happy No Matter What. New World Library. Novato, CA.

Johnson, S. (2010) The Present. Broadway Books, New York, NY.


Chang, L. (2010). Common causes of depression. WebMD. Retrieved June 8, 2011.

Ejaz, F., Noelker, L., Menne, H. Bagaka, j. The Impact of Stress and Support on Direct Care Workers' Job Satisfaction The Gerontologist (2008) 48(suppl 1): 60-70 doi:10.1093/geront/48.Supplement_1.60

McGonigal, K. (2013). How to make stress your friend. TED Global 2013. Edinburgh, Scotland. Retrieved Nov. 7, 2013 from

Heaney, C.A. and van Ryn, M. (1990) Broadening the scope of worksite stress programs: A guiding framework. American Journal of Health Promotion, 4, 413-20.

Lust, K., Ehlinger, E., Golden, D. (Nov., 2010) 2010 College Student Health Survey Report. Boynton Health Service, University of Minnesota.

Schafer, W. (1995). Stress Management for Wellness. Harcourt-Brace Publishing. Orlando, FL.

Stress. It is deadly. (2005). Retrieved June 8, 2011.


Brown, K. & Ryan, R. The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 84(4), Apr 2003, 822-848.

Oman, D. "Meditation lowers stress and supports forgiveness among college students: A randomized controlled trial." Journal of American College Health 56.5 (2008):569.

Gloria R. Deckro , Keli M. Ballinger , Michael Hoyt , Marilyn Wilcher , Jeffery Dusek , Patricia Myers , Beth Greenberg , David S. Rosenthal , Herbert Benson. The Evaluation of a Mind/Body Intervention to Reduce Psychological Distress and Perceived Stress in College Students. Journal of American College

Carmody, J. "Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program." Journal of behavioral medicine 31.1 (2008):23.

Caldwell, K. "Developing mindfulness in college students through movement-based courses: Effects on self-regulatory self-efficacy, mood, stress, and sleep quality." Journal of American College Health 58.5 (2010):433.

Neely, M E. (2009). Self-kindness when facing stress: The role of self-compassion, goal regulation, and support in college students well-being. Motivation and emotion, 33(1), 88.


Mouchacca, J., Abbot, G., & Ball, K. (2013). Associations between psychological stress, eating, physical activity, sedentary behaviours and body weight among women: a longitudinal study. BMC Public Health. 13, 828.

Franz, M., Giraki, M., Ommerborn, M., Raab, W., Schafer, R., Schneider,C., Singh,P. (2010). Correlation between stress, stress-coping and current sleep bruxism. Head and Face Medicine, 6, 2+.

Eisenberg, D., Gollust, S.E., Golberstein, E., & Hefner, J.L. (2007). Prevalence and Correlates of Depression, Anxiety and Suicidality among University Students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(4), 534-542.

Khokhar, N. & Niazi, A. (2013). A long-term profile of patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan. 23. 388+.

Thoits, P. (2010). Stress and health: Major findings and policy implicaitons. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 51(S), S41-S53.