Health 1110 - Stress Management - 3 Credit Hours
Fall 2011

Instructor: Michael Olpin, PhD, CHES
Office: Swenson Gym Office #125G
Phone: 626-6485
Class Time & Location – TTH 10:30-11:45 Stromberg PE/Health 62

Required Materials
Stress management for life: A research based experiential approach. (Second Edition) Olpin, M. & Hesson, M. (2010). Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning. Available in the WSU bookstore

Stress Relief: Deep Relaxation Exercises Olpin, M. (2005) - There are several ways to get this:
2 CD Set   Available in the WSU bookstore
DVD version   Available in the bookstore
Available online for immediate download as MP3 files to quickly load to your computer (to iTunes or other programs, then to your iPod or other listening devices)

You will need both the 2nd edition textbook and the Relaxation Exercises.

Also Required
Students will need to be able to access the online webspace (WSUOnline) for this class. Many of the assignments in the class will be available or completed in there. If you need help, contact the friendly technical help people at 626-7777.

Course Description
This course exposes students to a holistic approach to stress management. It treats both cognitive skills and relaxation techniques with the intention of preventing and/or alleviating the physical symptoms of stress. The learning activities of the course are both theoretical and experiential.

Course Purpose
The purpose of this course is to teach students the basic principles, theories, and relaxation techniques to effectively manage personal stress. Students will gain a greater understanding of the mind-body relationship, learn to employ a holistic approach to stress and adopt effective cognitive techniques, coping skills, and relaxation techniques. Ultimately, students will experience a more effective approach to optimal lifelong health.

More than 80% of all diseases and illnesses have a stress component. More than 90% of Americans deal with stress ineffectively. As health care costs continue to rise, more emphasis will be placed on each individual to accept the responsibility for his or her health. The application of effective strategies for stress reduction is a very important component of optimal health.

Course Objectives: The student will have the opportunity to:
Understand the holistic nature (mind-body-spirit) of stress management and comprehend the mind-body connection of the stress and disease process
Master the basic understanding of the physiological mechanisms responsible for the fight-or-flight response and subsequent manifestations of various symptoms of target organ dysfunctions.
Understand the importance of using effective coping skills to resolve stressful perceptions and gain a sense of wholeness and inner peace by using these skills.
Learn about and experience several relaxation techniques and learn to integrate these techniques into your daily living habits to help you control stress and tension.
Participate in all class discussions and relaxation techniques.

Throughout the course we will treat the following topic areas:
The nature of stress including the physiology of stress and how stress affects human conditions
Psychological aspects of stress
The two main emotions of stress: fear and anger
Coping strategies
Values, goals and life direction
Cognitive restructuring
Behavior modification 
Time Management
Relaxation Techniques: Power Nap, Relaxing breathing, Meditation, Yoga, Mental imagery, Music therapy, Massage therapy, Progressive muscle relaxation, Autogenic training

Course Meetings
Due to the nature of the material presented, class attendance is essential. The class will be conducted in a workshop format in which theoretical content will be combined with experiential learning. All students are expected to participate in all class activities. You will be asked to dress appropriately for various types of activities. Occasionally we will be lying on the floor or participating in activities that require you to move around. Please wear comfortable clothing that will allow for this.

Class Activities during the Semester

During class time, we will involve ourselves in many different types of activities. Your participation will be essential. Many of these activities will have points attached to them. These will be available only if you are in class to participate in them.

Online Chapter Assignments
Many of the topics that we treat in class will have a corresponding homework assignment. These will usually be completed online. Instructions for doing them will be given at the time the assignment is given. The assignments will have a due date. Assignments that are turned in after the due date will receive noticeable deductions in points.

Content Class-notes Quizzes
Three in-class quizzes will be given during the semester. These will treat information that comes almost exclusively from class lecture and activities. 

Book Review
A review of a book relating to stress management, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual health will be due by the date shown. The book will be chosen from the book list provided to you, or you may present a book to the instructor for his approval. The review should be in the following format: 3-4 typed pages, double- spaced, with one-inch margins. It should also include a cover page stating the title of the book, the author of the book, the date the book was published, the student's name, and the student's I.D. number.

Books you have to read for other classes will not be permitted for this book review.

The content of the review must include a thorough analysis of the following:

  • Main ideas of the book
  • Why you chose the book
  • How the author(s) of the book approaches stress management, mental, emotional and/or spiritual health
  • Information that you learned
  • To what audience is the author writing
  • How you have changed after reading the book
  • If you would, or would not recommend this book to others, and why or why not
  • Any other appropriate and interesting things you might include

The book review will be graded for completeness on the book and for grammar and spelling. You will be asked which book you have chosen by the third week of the class.

Go to this website for a list of suggested books from which to choose for this project. If you decide to read a book that is not on the list, please run it by your instructor for approval.

Stress Management Lab Visits
During the semester, you will visit the Stress Management Lab at least 2 times. During your visits, you may try any of the activities that are available in the lab. You will report about each of your visits in the online discussion area of this class. You can either simply walk in during open lab times or you can learn all about the lab and make an appointment by going to this website:

Stress Relief Final Paper
During the semester you will learn about and experience a wide variety of activities designed specifically to help you both reduce and prevent stress. You will do these both in the classroom and on your own. Examples of these include the guided relaxation exercises along with several additional guided imageries, meditation, yoga, massage, etc. We will also work on many topics that will help you make better sense of the way your thoughts can lead to stress, and effective ways of changing them. A few examples of these include mindfulness, trust, living by our values, overcoming fear, levels of responding, time management, etc.

At the end of the semester, you will write a paper that summarizes your experience of the things you did in class along with a brief summary of other aspects of the class. The paper should include the following items:

1.     A cover page with your name, the course, the title of the paper, and the date

2.     The body of the paper that includes a thorough discussion of your subjective experience of the class activities designed to help you manage and reduce your stress according to the following questions:

  • Which class activities and topics did you find most useful for you towards managing your stress and gaining greater sense of inner peace? Why?
  • Which class activities and topics did you find least useful for you towards managing your stress and gaining greater sense of inner peace? Why?
  • Which of the relaxation techniques did you find most enjoyable and why?
  • Which of the relaxation techniques did you find least enjoyable and why?
  • Which areas of the class and relaxation techniques you plan to use in the future and why?
  • Describe a few ways that you have changed as a result of the knowledge and experiences of this class since the beginning of the semester. Include ways that your stress symptoms have changed (headaches, sleeping habits, irritability, etc); ways you perceive things differently than before; also, include a brief comment or two on how others have noticed changes in you.
  • If you were to take the class again, in what ways could the class be improved to enhance your experience of it?
  • Did you get what you wanted out of the class?
  • Finish by including any other final thoughts that would help me improve the class, or anything you feel you would like me to know about your experience of the class.


Your grade will be calculated by the accumulation of points from the following items:


Grades are based on a percentage of the total possible points earned in the class.
The following total number of points is associated with the final grades.

Online Assignments


Relaxation Exercises


Class Activities


Class Notes Quizzes


Stress Management Lab


Book Review


Stress Relief Final Paper






93% and above A 

73% C 


90% A- 

70% C- 


87% B+ 

67% D+ 


83% B 

63% D 


80% B- 

60% D- 


77% C+ 

Less than 60% E 


Your grades scores and ongoing grade for this course are found in the webspace designated for this class. This is accessible by following the instructions at the top of this syllabus.





Class Ground Rules

Cell Phones and Other Electronic Devices
Please turn off, and leave in your bags, any cell phone or other electronic device  while in the classroom.

Dismissing Class
Please refrain from "packing up" before we are officially through with the day's activities. Rarely will we go overtime. Occasionally we will finish early. Regardless, it is very rude to hurry up the finish time of the class. If you absolutely must leave during class, please leave in a way that does not disrupt the flow of the class.

Food in the Classroom
If you must bring food into the classroom, make sure you bring enough food to share with everyone (including the instructor).

Classroom Chatter
If you need to carry on an extended conversation with someone else in the room on an unrelated topic, please be courteous and leave the room to do so.

Safety Information
As with any physiological or psychological training tool that can effectively help you improve your health, you may find you need less medication, if you are taking medications for stress, anxiety, pain, high blood pressure, diabetes or other stress related disorders. It would be wise to discuss any changes in your needs with your prescribing doctor.

Academic Misconduct
Cheating of any kind will not be tolerated. Evidence of not doing your own work will result in an automatic zero for that assignment on the first infraction. Evidence of not doing your own work a second time will result in an automatic failing grade for the class. This rule applies for all tests, in-class assignments and outside of class assignments unless the instructor stipulates that the work may be done with partners or groups. Obviously, studying for tests and such may be done with others.

Students with Disabilities
"Any student requiring accommodations or serviced due to a disability must contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) in room 181 of the Student Services Center. SSD can also arrange to provide course materials (including the syllabus) in alternative formats if necessary."


Allow me to say a quick word about this class. Albert Einstein said, "Stupidity is most clearly demonstrated by the person who ridicules something he knows nothing about." Many topics and ideas in this class may be rather new and different from the thinking and activities you have grown up with and accepted as accurate. I will not be asking you to believe anything new in this class. I will ask you to suspend judgment about the things you see and hear, and the things that we discuss. Just let the ideas work in you and see what value they have for you. Regardless of how strange the ideas and activities might seem, they have been found to be useful in reducing stress, gaining greater control of our lives, and attaining greater levels of inner peace. If you choose to take this course, please allow yourself to dive in and get really wet. My commitment to you is that if you do, it may be the most valuable course you will ever take.
 The successful manager of stress is willing to do that which the unsuccessful manager of stress is not willing to do.

Class Schedule


Weekly Discussion Topics & Activities


Week 1

Requirements and course intro; Self-Assessment; The Nature of stress


Week 2

Physiology of Stress; Stress and Disease; How to Relax; The Power Nap

Power Nap

Week 3

Perception & Interpretation; Cognitive Restructuring-Choice; Relaxing Breathing

Book Choice Due
Restful Breathing

Week 4

Levels of Responding; Autogenics

Quiz 1

Week 5

Mindfulness; Flowing Comfort


Week 6

Fear; Trust Activity 1

Flowing Comfort

Week 7

Subconscious Mind & Guided Imagery; Guided Imagery Relaxation

Mountain Lake Imagery

Week 8

Time Management; Good & Bad stress management


Week 9

Meaning, Mission, Values & Inner Peace; Inner Wisdom

Progressive Relaxation
Quiz 2

Week 10

Music; Progressive Relaxation; Quiz 2

Assess Time Management

Week 11

Book Review; Trust Activity 2

Book Review
Colors Guided Imagery

Week 12

Massage; Love


Week 13

Meditation; Yoga

Mantra Meditation

Week 14

Yoga (no class on Thursday - Thanksgiving)


Week 15

Putting it all together - Playfulness & Childlikeness; Quiz 3

Stress Relief Paper
Quiz 3

This schedule is subject to change based on the speed, direction, and focus of the class.






 Click Here to go to my new and improved website on Stress and Stress Management