It can make you clench your teeth, lose sleep, lose your appetite or overeat, lose your cool and maybe even make you feel like you are losing your mind. It’s that nasty old demon called stress.
Most of us know this monster all too well. We may live in Paradise, but even Paradise is rocked with circumstances that can put us on the edge at times. The good news is that right here on our beautiful island we have someone to teach us how to cope in times of trouble. Meet Dr. Rich Blonna, Marco Island’s world-renowned expert in stress management.
Dr. Blonna is a specialist in under- standing how the mind and body work together to create and manage stress. A retired Professor Emeritus from William Paterson University in New Jersey, he is a Certified Health Education Specialist, National Certified Counselor, Distance Certified Counselor and Board-Certified Coach. He received his Master’s degree in Education/Counseling from Seton Hall University and a Doctorate in Health Education/ Health Counseling from Temple University. He has written several books and other publications. For over 25 years he has been helping people stress less and live more.
Dr. Blonna, or Rich as he prefers to be known, is currently teaching How to Cope with Stress, a 12 week course offered at Mackle Park Community Center, Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 8 PM. With his kind, peaceful and welcoming demeanor, Rich puts the classroom at ease as he offers a simple values-based approach to understanding and exploring stress management.
Rich dissects the element of stress into three distinct components. First, we begin with a potential stressor. The word “potential” is key here, indicating that there is the possibility of control in the situation. The next step is the mind’s interpretation of that potential stressor. In other words, is the situation a threat, harm or loss? Most importantly, the question arises, “Can I cope?” If that answer is yes, we are ok. When that answer is no, then we have the third component – the stress response! The physical response to stress involves the body’s nervous and endocrine systems that mobilize their energy in the fight or flee response.
Rich is quick to point out that the fight or flee response is in many cases a response that saves your life. Picture yourself driving along the highway when a car suddenly pulls in front of you and you need to react quickly to avoid a collision. That’s a lifesaving alarm response. However, when the body is forced to respond to chronic stress on a regular basis, it can lead to exhaustion, a lower quality of life and an increased risk of physical and mental illness. That’s when we need to remove the stressor or learn how to cope with it successfully.
Rich’scourseusesa5R’smodelof coping mechanisms. The first step is to reorganize by identifying and aligning our values, goals and commitments. We can continue as we rethink, slow down and step away from our own mind just a bit. Then it is time to break the cycle and relax. It is a scientific fact that we cannot be stressed and relaxed at the same time. We can learn to release our muscle tension and nervous energy in healthy ways. Finally, we can reduce our stressors and turn our remaining ones into positive challenges instead.
Rich uses techniques of meditation, diaphragmatic breathing and visualization in a holistic approach to stress management. His course teaches us to embrace and nurture the seven dimensions of our health, those of our physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, occupational and environmental wellbeing to overcome stress and live in peace.
To register for Dr. Blonna’s course, please call Mackle Park Community Center at 239-642-0575. To learn more, please visit www.drrichblonna.com.