Holistic Medicine Series HANDOUT #5: Understanding the Stress Response


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Holistic Medicine Series HANDOUT                           April 2, 2009

Aumdoc (Richard J. Clofine, D.O.)   770-633-4257


 *** Session #4 ***

The Stress Response in Modern Life


(Opening Intention)

Stress Defined


       Stress is the unconscious response to a demand.

              We experience some degree of stress in everything we do and everything that happens to us.

       Eustress & Distress

              Stress becomes distress when it reaches excessive levels and the demands exceed our ability to respond or to cope effectively.

       External Stressors (living in the modern world)

              Stress is not ‘something out there’ it is what happens inside our mind and body as we react unconsciously to external stimuli.

              Significant Life Events (relationship change, relocation, job, change,death or birth).

       Internal Stressors

              Our response to stimuli (external or internal).

              CHANGE (challenges, frustrations, conflicting demands and occasional loss, grief and suffering are among the many unconscious

responses to change).

              Different individuals respond differently and experience the symptoms of stress differently (and this is strongly influenced by differences

in upbringing, past understandings, present experiences, attitudes, belief structures, family values, perceptions and coping skills developed over    years and generations).

(Progressive Relaxation Exercise)



       Meditation – a self-directed practice for the purpose of relaxing and calming the mind and body; stilling the restlessness of the mind so that

the focus can be directed inward.

       The Relaxation Response (generic medical meditation)

Find 10-20 minutes without distraction  >>>  use focus word (mantra)  >>>   sit quiet and comfortable  >>>  close eyes  >>>  relax muscles  >>>  breath slowly and naturally repeating your focus word on exhalation  >>>  assume a passive attitude, don’t judge your progress, acknowledge wandering thoughts and return to repetition  >>>  continue for 10-20 minutes and slowly open eyes and sit for 1-2 minutes before standing  >>>  practice once or twice daily


(Relaxation Response Exercise)


Physiology of The Stress Response


       Perception and Reality

       Physiology of the Stress Response

              Central Nervous System

              Peripheral Nervous System

              Autonomic Nervous System

                     Sympathetic NS                Parasympathetic NS

                     Fight or Flight                  Relaxation & Vegetative

                     Thoraco-Lumbar                Cranio-Sacral

              Neuro-Hormonal System (adrenals) & PsychoNeuroImmunology

                     Cortex (expectancy/placebo), Emotional Centers (subjective feelings), Hypothalamus, Pituitary & Autonomic Outflow, Hormonal  & Autonomic

Brain-Immune Channels exerting direct influence over function of immune tissue (bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes, spleen, mucosa)

              Learning & Conditioning

Changing Stress in our Life – Changing our Objective Reality - Serenity Prayer

Transforming our Stress Response


       Changing our Objective Reality (external stressors)


       Changing our Subjective Reality (Mind-Body Medicine)


              Relaxation Response

              Movement Therapies (walking, yoga, tai chi)


              Affirmations & Energy Psychology




(Guided Imagery Exercise)


(Closing Intention)

Om Lotus



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