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Module 3 – The Guard Rail Factor

Modules 3 and 4 of the Stress: Beyond Coping eLearning course jump into the deep end of the pool, so to speak, of advanced stress management training.  This Module (3) explores the remaining 2 Power Components of the Stress Pyramid,© components that have the potential to convert bad stress into good stress, transforming your most difficult stressors into sources of personal growth, enrichment and accomplishment.

Module 3 introduces these Power Components as a foundation for the profound practical applications that will be presented in Module 4.  It tells the fascinating story of what is happening in your brain during a stress response, how your brain determines whether there should even be a stress response and, if so, how intense it should be.  It distinguishes between 3 levels of stress response, and begins to teach you how to respond at the healthiest level:  Level 3.  That is the ultimate goal of this eLearning course—training you how to become a Level 3 stress manager.


Session 3.1:  Your Brain on Stress

The Guardrail Factor is an advanced stress management model that helps us learn how to convert harmful stress into healthy stress through the practice of the two remaining Power Components of the Stress Pyramid.©   At this level you can gain the ability to convert many stressors that formerly had a harmful effect on you into positive experiences that promote your wellbeing rather than threaten it.

This session (3.1) introduces the all-important Viewpoint component.  A healthy viewpoint provides a mental framework out of which you can relate positively and healthfully to life's irritants and crises.  Based on Pam’s training and experience as a neuroscientist and stress researcher, but written for a non-scientific audience and using eye-catching graphics, this session takes a look deep inside the brain to reveal:

  • The brain areas that control the stress response.
  • How these brain areas work together to respond to stress at 3 overlapping but distinct levels.
  • How these 3 levels can create either a positive, healthy viewpoint, or a negative, unhealthy one.  Understanding how the brain controls stress at these 3 different levels will explain why Viewpoint is one of the Power Components of the Stress Pyramid.©


Session 3.2:  How Your Brain Calls the Shots

This session (3.2) continues the discussion begun in the previous session (3.1) on how the brain calls the shots in controlling our stress response.  Based on Pam’s training and experience as a neuroscientist and stress researcher, but written for a non-scientific audience and using eye-catching graphics, this session will continue to help you understand why Viewpoint is such an important stress management tool.  It also continues to explain how multiple brain areas work together at 3 distinct, but overlapping levels to control our response to stressful situations in our environment. You will learn:

  • The difference between “real” vs. “perceived” stressors, and why this is a crucial difference for managing stress.
  • How memories and sensory triggers can cause us to re-live stressful experiences over and over, and how this “stress arc” becomes exacerbated in those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • Why the vast majority of stress experienced in our society has nothing to do with what is happening to us in the present.
  • Which brain area is considered the CEO of the stress response, and how it can convert a negative stressful experience into a positive one.
  • Why becoming a Level 3 Stress Manager is crucial for advanced stress management.


Session 3.3:  Viewpoint:  Antibodies of the Mind

Based on the biological concepts introduced in the first two sessions (3.1 & 3.2), this session (3.3) further explores the simple but profound concept:  Level 3 Stress Management.  Becoming a Level 3 Stress Manager has awesome implications for managing stress at an advanced level and holds the key to converting potentially bad stress into beneficial stress.  In this session, you will learn:

  • Why becoming a Level 3 Stress Manager is crucial for advanced stress management, and how examples of level 3 stress management can found for each of the seven keys of the Stress Pyramid.©
  • The origins and description of “Phantom Stress,” and why it can be toxic to our physical and mental health.
  • Why many stress researchers distinguish Viewpoint as the pivotal concept for stress management. 
  • The difference between Stress-Inducing Beliefs and Stress-Reducing Beliefs, and how the latter can become “antibodies of the mind.”


Session 3.4:  “It Ain’t Nothin’ Til I Call it Somethin’”

Have you ever experienced stress because you felt that you had been treated unfairly?  Have you ever experienced a failure that devastated and immobilized you, making you feel like you never want to try something like that again?  Have you ever been so severely hurt in a relationship that it made you want to seclude yourself in a protective shell?  If so, move over; you have a lot of company.
This session (3;4) explains how Level 3 stress managers use a powerful tool to get them through the most difficult storms of life, absorbing the blows while still maintaining a sense of peace and security.  You will learn how to use this tool in this session. When used correctly, this tool can help you understand why most stressful situations “ain’t nothin’, til we call them somethin.’”

In this session, you will learn:

  • The 2 steps that will put you into the elite group of Level 3 stress managers that resolve negative stress at its source and convert it into positive results.
  • The 3 ways to identify depressing, deep-seated, Stress-Inducing Beliefs, even the ones we don’t know we have.
  • How to replace our Stress-Inducing Beliefs with powerful, reality-based, Stress-Reducing Beliefs.


Session 3.5:  The Biggest Surprise in Stress Management Research

Stress researchers have long suspected that there is some connection between stress and relaxation, exercise, nutrition, organization and time management skills, and between stress and healthy thinking.  But over the last several decades another component has emerged, catching the intense interest of many researchers.  Dr. Dale Matthews from the National Institute of Healthcare Research referred to it as the "faith factor."  At Stress: Beyond Coping, we call it “Spiritual Integration.”

The spiritual dimension of our lives provides a very rich source for the discovery and development of healthy Stress-Reducing Beliefs.  If you have an active and healthy spiritual center to your life, you have a fertile source of the most time-honored beliefs for managing and resolving the stresses of life.  In this session, we explore the numerous research studies that have proven that this component belongs at the very apex of the Stress Pyramid.©  You will learn:

  • How spiritual integration provides an unshakeable base of support and security in the turbulent times of life.
  • About the many research studies that prove that an active faith provides measurable health benefits. 
  • How spiritual integration provides purpose and direction in life. 
  • How spiritual integration provides the power for positive lifestyle changes.


Session 3.6:  Managing Stress through Spiritual Integration

Numerous studies have proven that living a spiritually-integrated life has tremendous benefits on physical and mental health.  This is why Stress: Beyond Coping places it at the very top of the Stress Pyramid.©

In this session (3.6), we consider several of the basic elements in the formula for spiritual integration and learn how effective they can be in resolving the stresses of life.  These elements include: 

  • The one belief that forms the very foundation of a spiritual center to life, and provides a healthy foundation for valuing ourselves and others. 
  • A release point for anxiety.
  • A belief that has provided meaning and support to people over countless generations who have encountered otherwise hopeless situations.
  • 4 Steps to turn trials into treasures.
  • A doctor’s prescription for productive prayer.


Session 3.7:  Transcendent Stress

This session (3.7) discusses a fourth principle of managing stress through spiritual integration. This powerful life principle, expressed in every major world religion encompasses a great truth and has unprecedented power to bring people together.  In this session, you will:

  • Revisit “the Samaritan Factor” (the Golden Rule) discussed as a relationship principle in Module 2.
  • Learn about the research studies showing that those who choose a life of service enjoy better health and longer longevity than those who do not.
  • Learn about an additional component of the Stress Tank© that incorporates the Golden Rule principle:  Transcendent Stress.
  • Hear a story of two prisoners of war in the death camps of WWII’s Pacific Theatre that illustrates how extreme stress can be managed by focusing on loving service to others.
  • Receive a comprehensive definition of stress management that incorporates the profound principle of transcendent stress.


Session 3.8:  Three Steps to Positive Change

Making permanent changes to improve our lives is easier said than done.  Learning how we should live is the easy part.  Putting those principles into practice is another matter.

This session (3.8) outlines a straightforward plan to make the positive changes needed for better stress management and a better quality of life overall.  The foundational concepts behind this plan are now being used by national organizations such as the National Cancer Institute, the American Lung Association, and the National Health Service in Great Britain.  In this session, you will learn:

  • Dr. James Prochaska’s 6 steps to positive change.
  • The 3 steps this eLearning course recommends to achieve positive change. 
  • What critically important groundwork needs to be laid before you take any action toward your goals.
  • How to create the right conditions that will empower you to fulfill your important goals.

This session ends with a preview of the last and most significant module of the Stress: Beyond Coping eLearning course:  Module 4.  Module 4 fuses all 3 Power Components of the Stress Pyramid© into an unparalleled strategy for managing stress.