Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stress in America

The American Psychological Association has just released its recent survey of stress in America. APA has been conducting this survey for the last few years. Some of the findings worth giving some thought to are:
- Children apparently are feeling the effects of the recession and the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.The survey revealed that parents often do not realize the level of stress that their children are experiencing.
- Seventy-five percent of those adults and children polled indicated moderate to high levels of stress with sleep problems, headaches and problems with eating.
- Both adults and children complained of problems with feeling angry and irritated frequently and fatigued.
- Those polled indicated that they frequently attempted to relieve stress in sedentary ways, such as by listening to music or reading.
- Those surveyed indicated that when they received recommendations from their physician or healthcare provider about making changes in their lifestyle, such as quitting smoking, increasing exercise, reducing weight or eating more healthy foods, they received little support in making these changes. Only a small percentage indicated that they had been referred to another healthcare provider, such as a dietician or a psychologist, to assist them in being able to make these changes.
- The overwhelming majority of those polled indicated that their present insurance plan did not cover preventative services or services needed to better manage chronic illness. This may explain why the majority of those needing support in making lifestyle changes received little support and assistance from their healthcare provider.
To learn more about the results of this survey, go to: You can find a summary of the results of this survey and information on how to identify the signs of stress in your children and how to talk with them about it. The skills and the attitudes that can help you prevent and manage stress are the same as those that build and maintain resilience.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Duct Tape Modules

Duct Tape Isn't Enough is divided into six modules. The first defines resilience and reviews the skills and attitudes that build and maintain resilience. In the second Module, I give you an opportunity to "take your inventory" through a series of questions that ask you to examine the skills and attitudes that you've utilized in dealing with adversity in the past. We ask you to focus on what you have learned from the past about yourself and from the role models that you have had, both good and bad.

The third Module focuses on teaching resilience skills and attitudes through storytelling. The Module utilizes Reaching Home as a tool for learning and teaching these skills. Reaching Home is a novel about conquering fear that I wrote and released in the fall of 2006. It has a love story, is fast paced, and doesn't take itself too seriously. There are no superheroes in this story, just ordinary people living their lives as best they can. They allow the blemishes and the vices of the average person as well as the courage and strength that all human beings possess. There are discussion questions about the author's comments to help you look at and better understand how the characters in the novel are making use of or not making use of resilience skills and attitudes. You are encouraged, in this section of the workbook, to put down in black and white your own story.

In the fourth Module, you will have the opportunity to develop your own plan for building your resilience. We encourage you to develop a SMART PLAN that is SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC AND TIME SPECIFIC. To assist you in this process we provide Module focuses o skill #10, taking care of yourself.

Modules 5 and 6 focuses on resilience skill #11, helping others. Teaching others the skills and the attitudes that you have learned. This module focuses on how to integrate these skills into the activities that you are presently doing. You are asked to look at the challenges that you will face in doing this and to develop a plan for maintaining your own resilience while assissting others in building theirs. In Module 6, we review the resources available to assist you in developing discussion groups, classes or workshops in resilience. This includes descriptions and contact information regarding videos you may want to use in your discussion group or workshop, different formats for presentations, tips on working with various groups such as fire, police, healthcare and information on how to obtain copies of the power points tht we use and a DVD of my presentation of the modules. We have also put the course online and would encourage anyone who would like to be a trainer to complete the online Train-the-Trainer course. For more details about the course and materials that we have developed go to our website at

To be continued...


As we all are aware from the headlines, the percentage of people who are unemployed in our society has continued to grow. The rate remains over 10 percent and will most likely be that high or higher for the immediate future. For so many, this is a personal tragedy that can devastate an individual but also their family and their community. Getting back to work often requires that people network, build on the connections they have with others, be willing to be flexible in the way in which they deal with the job market and work to rebuild their sense of confidence in themselves. The skills and the attitudes of resilience can play a critical role in helping an individual find and maintain a new job or a new career.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fort Hood

It appears now that many of those who knew the psychiatrist who is accused of committing the atrocity at Ft. Hood realized that he was having difficulty meeting the demands of his position . Those who were aware that something was not right included his supervisors, colleagues and friends. But no one intervened. Sadly, the story is a familiar one. We often wait until it is too late.
If we are to be a resilient society, we must be willing to focus on the resilience of others. Connecting with others, communicating clearly and intervening before tragedy occurs are the skills that we need to practice on a daily basis. Avoidance, rigidity and an unwillingness to get involved and intervene will only lead to more tragedies.

Hope Is Not Enough (Cont.)

We need to value and reassert these skills and attitudes from the past and the present, but most importantly, we need to practice them. Research in the social sciences and our own experience tells us that:
1. Connecting with others is better than isolating ourselves
2. Flexibility works better in most situations than rigidity.
3. Communicating with others is almost always better than not talking.
4. Looking to ourselves to solve our problems rather than to others works best.
5. Recognizing and dealing with rather than ignoring our feelings and the feelings of others can help keep us emotionally healthy.
6. Acting on our values works better than acting on our fears.
7. Being optimistic is better than being pessimistic.
8. Caring for ourselves and for others serves everyone best.
9. Laughter is better, at times, than tears.
10. Greed and going shopping will not solve our problems.

These skills and attitudes are the focus of Duct Tape Isn't Enough and Reaching Home. They are survival skills for the 21st century, whehter the adversity is a national or regional disaster such as a hurricane or a terrorist attack of a personal disaster, such as the death of a child or loss of a spose.

To be continued...