De-Stress Kit for the Changing Times

November 7, 2018 | Author: HeartMath | Category: Self-Improvement, Emotions, Anxiety, Compassion, Stress (Biology)
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HeartMath has released this free article for anyone who is experiencing extra stress due to the cascading effects of th...


De-Stress Kit for the Changing Times


Doc Childre Founder of HeartMath®

De-Stress Kit for the Changing Times  from Doc Childre, founder of HeartMath®

This booklet is for anyone who is experiencing extra stress due to the cascading

eects of the nancial meltdown, natural disasters, ongoing wars, or any personal challenges during these rapidly changing mes. The current economic crisis marks a signicant turning point in the global changes taking place. The global community is being called on to shi from the pursuit of  self-gain at the expense of others—to a more balanced system of care for the rights and needs of the people. Systems and sociees have veered far from the heart and the core values of cooperaon, fairness, and care for one another and the whole. For many people, hope is fading. Yet, many feel that things are being turned upside down to become right-side up. Unfortunately, this realignment is causing increased stress and tremendous economic fallout that aects us all. It’s obvious that the nancial realignment process won’t move in the express lane, but it can eventually stabilize. Each step the decision-makers take to signicantly take care of Main Street will be a step closer to the me when the middle class and the poor can breathe more easily. With compassion, I realize that it is much tougher for some than others. When a crisis occurs, there are dierent emoonal stages that people go through: shock, denial, anger, blame, despair and more. This process is painful, yet it helps to clear  out the shock-overload on our mind, emoons and nervous system. Aer this phase, it’s easier for the heart to reopen. Then, with some genuine eort, people can start to rebuild their coping capacity as they gain more clarity and condence to move forward. The process of recovery won’t be the same for everyone because of  dierent situaons and dierences in individual makeup. But be encouraged that you can create a psychological turnaround along the way and increase your ability to cope eecvely—especially if you work through your challenges with others.


Creang a Turnaround

When a signicant crisis happens (such as the current economic upheaval upheaval that is aecng so many), our stress tolerance level depletes from the inial shock and emoonal pain. We become overwhelmed which inhibits our capacity to cope. Yet, it’s completely understandable why we feel the way we do. In the rst phase, it can be helpful to experience and release the emoonal buildup from shock, grief, anger and despair, or to just sit quietly with ourselves in the privacy of our own pain. Aer this rst phase, however long it takes, eventually we need to engage in thoughts of self-care and remember our health concerns. Then we can take some simple steps to start to oset the eects of stress, which will make our recovery much easier. easier. I understand it’s hard at rst, but the simple suggesons in this booklet can help make it easier to reconnect with our inner strength and security. Though we can’t necessarily make our challenges and anxiees suddenly disappear, we can reset our capacity to maintain more easily. As we take steps to reduce the stress where we can, it adds strength and clarity for sorng our way through the more dicult challenges. Even though things “are as they are,” we can start to make a psychological turnaround within ourselves, so that excess stress won’t create a downward spiral in health. We can oset stress with some simple pracces that facilitate atude shis and reduce energy drain. This will increase clear thinking as to how we can get the needed help for ourselves and our families. When we are experiencing increased stress, it’s oen hard to hear some of the points that can most eecvely help us. So in this booklet I will cover in a few dierent ways some important themes that I feel could be the most useful.

Here are some pracces to help us reduce stress and reset our system to move forward in these changing mes. 1. Communicate and interact with others.

One of the most important things that you can do is to communicate your feelings to someone or to a group of people going through similar experiences. Then engage engage in caring about others and oering emoonal support. This especially helps to reopen 2

your heart, which increases fortude and emoonal balance. Whether you laugh together or cry together, there is oen tremendous benecial release. When people gather to support each other, the energy of the collecve whole mulplies the benet to the individual. It’s known that collecve energec cooperaon can increase intuive guidance and eecve soluons for the problems at hand. When a group of people are “in their hearts,” and not just their minds, the collecve support helps to li their spirits, which in turn releases stress buildup and anxiety overload. If you inquire it’s likely that you will be able to nd a group of people who meet to address the same issues that concern you. Many people can feel a resistance to being around others; but in mes of crisis and stress, group support can be helpful. Oen it can prevent the acute stress overload that puts your health at risk. You can also nd interacve interacve groups, blogs and helpful services on the Internet. 2. Re-opening the heart feeling.

It is normal at the onset of a crisis for our heart feelings to shut down, especially during the inial shock and anger phase. When our mind operates too long without the heart’s wisdom, it tends to overload from the sense of loss, and then our system gridlocks in anger, fear and despair. It’s understandable to experience this, but it’s really important important to reopen your heart connecon with people, as you can. When your heart reopens, self-security and condence can gradually return. Be paent with the process and have compassion for yourself. A good way to reopen your heart feelings is by oering kindness and compassionate support to others or volunteering somewhere somewhere to help others in need, even when you are in need yourself. Even small acts of kindness and compassion can make a big dierence. This is one of the quickest ways to reestablish your foong and reduce the stress that could otherwise aect your health. Research has shown that care and compassion release benecial hormones that help balance and restore your system. Worry and uncertainty increase stress hormones, even when you feel that you have good reasons to worry. Much stress can be reduced by caring for and interacng more with others. If health problems prevent you from meeng with people, you can sll benet by sending genuine care and compassion to others. If you are homebound, try to have visitors so you can communicate your feelings to help release some of the emoonal


pressure. If that’s not possible, try to at least communicate with others by leer, phone or e-mail. 3. Pracce appreciaon and gratude.

A helpful exercise for reducing stress and restoring emoonal balance is to spend some me each day sending genuine feelings of appreciaon to someone or something—be it children, family members, pets or others for whom you feel sincere appreciaon. It’s important that the appreciaon be hearelt (not just from the mind), since appreciave feelings acvate the body’s biochemical systems that help diminish stress and stabilize the psyche. The pracce of appreciaon and gratude has been proven to help people reconnect with feelings of hope and the heart iniave to progressively move forward. 4. Decrease drama.

Another eecve way to help stop energy drain and reduce anxiety is this: Pracce not feeding the tendency towards “drama” during this crical me. When we constantly constantly spin thoughts of blame, anger and “doom “doom and gloom” projecons about the future, it increases drama, which always makes things worse. Adding drama to a situaon blinds intuive discernment, which we need to nd the most eecve ways to navigate through challenges. Start praccing by trying to decrease drama when sharing with others. When we genuinely share feelings from the heart with others, this reduces the tendency to keep amplifying and repeang the downside of situaons—and increases the tendency to strengthen and encourage sober support and soluons. Naturally, there will be some drama while expressing our feelings to others. But when excessive drama connues, connues, it blocks soluons because it drains the mind and emoons, leaving us feeling worse. Pracce reducing drama, but try not to judge yourself or others for creang it. Everyone is doing the best they can unl they get more stable and secure. Try to proceed with compassion through all your interacons. More suggesons for decreasing drama:

When you catch your inner dialogue looping with excessive worry or fearful projecons, or when you nd yourself overdramazing the downside of things, gently tell yourself: yourself: “That’s not helping to change something that’s that’s already done; it can only make it worse.” Then make a genuine aempt to realign your thoughts and


feelings with those that support your needs and objecves. You may not be able to stop all the internal drama, but, you can eecvely reduce your energy drain and oset your stress decit with this exercise. Connuously amping-up anger, anxiety and fear releases excessive levels of stress hormones, like corsol and adrenalin, throughout the body. The long-play version of  this can cause a cascade of physical health symptoms, along with potenal mental and emoonal imbalances. As you pracce reducing drama, the energy you save helps restore balance, clarity and posive iniave. Take care not to judge yourself if you slip backwards at mes. It’s okay. We all do. Just reinstate your heart commitment to pracce, and then move on. Each small eort you make really helps. 5. Manage your reacons to the news.

During this me of economic and global instability, it’s important not to compound our stress by projecng worst-case scenarios as we watch the news. That’s why it’s of neutral , and resist so important to pracce listening to the news from a state of neutral  the temptaon to emote and obsess over the negave downsides of each issue discussed. We can maintain maintain our own posions and keep our own opinions while sll managing how much negave emoonal drama we aach to events or disappoinng informaon during and aer news broadcasts. This is where a large poron of our stress accumulates. By listening or watching the news from a more neutral posion, we can avoid pouring excessive emoonal energy into replaying the issues, which can intensify anger, fear or anxiety. There’s a dierence between evaluang an issue and emoonally obsessing over it. By praccing neutral, it can help us manage our emoonal energy expenditures and avoid stress overload. When we’re under extreme stress and anxiety, it can be helpful to manage the amount of news we watch. Many people are afraid to watch the news because of dreading what they might see and yet also afraid not to watch it in case they might miss something important. When experiencing high anxiety and depression, cung back on news occasionally can help lower the intensity of our fear and anxiety. It’s the intensity that makes fear and anxiety seem unbearable at mes. You have to experiment to see if cung back helps you, as it has many others who are experiencing high anxiety. You have to decide based on your stress load and how sensive your emoonal nature is to constant media drama around issues that amplify anger or fear. It’s about managing your media intake according to honest 5

assessment of your parcular situaon. We shouldn’t judge the media, as we are responsible for what we watch and how we react to it. It ’s our job to balance and manage our exposure and our percepons of how the news aects us. 6. Prayer or meditaon.

Prayer or meditaon can make atude adjustments easier, especially as you center in your heart and try to nd a more objecve state. Feeling compassion for yourself and others or feeling gratude can be a form of prayer or meditaon. These pracces help quiet the mind and can bring you new perspecves that restore hope and direcon. Research has shown that sending appreciave or compassionate feelings to other people or issues can have a benecial eect on the hormonal and immune systems. Anything that boosts the immune system is worth praccing, especially during periods of prolonged prolonged stress. Sending appreciaon, care or compassion to others also helps to balance the nervous system and create more harmonious heart rhythms. This, in turn, helps balance your mental and emoonal system, which helps reduce anxiety and feelings of overwhelm. Whatever your religious or spiritual pracces may be, genuinely applying them through these challenging mes can be very benecial. Such pracces have been shown to restore hope and increase condence. While stress can cause a disconnecon from your heart feelings, this connecon can be re-established. re-established. Many people have made comebacks from painful places. I have and you can as well, with genuine commitment and self-applicaon. The most important step I took in recovering from a past crisis was reopening my heart through deeper care, compassion and appreciaon for others. This sparked the gradual return of my inner self-security—the missing piece in moving on and recreang my life. 7. Heart-focused breathing to reduce stress and anxiety.

Pracce breathing while imagining your breath passing in and out through your heart area or the center of your chest. Envision yourself yourself as taking a me out to refuel your system by breathing in an atude of calm and balance (like breathing in an emoonal tonic to take the rough edges o). The key to making this exercise eecve is to generate the true feeling of calm and balance. You can substute calm and balance at mes with breathing the feeling of appreciaon or compassion (or whatever atude you choose to breathe). This can be done in a quiet place or while walking, jogging, and even in a conversaon conversaon


once you get familiar with it. It’s very helpful for reducing anxiety, anger and mild depression. Here is the short version of the above technique for quick reference: 1.

Imagine the breath passing in and out through the heart or the center of the chest.


Breathe an atude of calm or balance (or whatever posive feeling you choose) to help restore balance.

Heart-focused breathing is being taught by doctors, nurses and clinics throughout the world. It’s especially helpful during mes of crisis or whenever you experience anger, anxiety or emoonal overload. Heart-focused breathing exercises can help you shi stress-producing atudes more quickly and reset your stress tolerance baseline. 8. Sleep.

Sleep is especially important during mes of increased stress. However, many people can’t sleep well due to increased stress. If you have a hard me sleeping, get what sleep you can and try not to overdramaze your concerns about it, as that only makes it worse. Breathing an atude of calm and relaxaon for ve minutes or so before bed has helped many people get more resul sleep . The Internet oers many suggesons for improving sleep, including diet, exercise and stretching. But as with most advice on the Internet, you have to use discreon. Due to increasing problems with sleep issues, many are turning to prescripon medicaons. While medicaon may be necessary in some situaons, people have a tendency to overmedicate in the pursuit of quick xes. It’s worth checking out alternave methods, in case something simple helps. If medicaon is necessary, it is wise to follow the advice of a physician. physician. 9. Exercise.

Exercise can be very benecial when you are feeling stressed. Oen when experiencing anxiety and emoonal pain, people don’t have the iniave to exercise. However, if you can exercise even a lile, it can help clear the fog and tension accumulated from anxiety, anger and worry. Exercise won’t take away your reasons for geng stressed, but it strengthens your capacity to manage stress with less energy loss.


It isn’t necessary to do a total workout to help clear your thinking and stabilize your emoons. Experiment and nd what’s comfortable for you, but at least try to get your heart rate up a lile even for a short me. As you exercise, try to be conscious not to replay negave negave mind loops. It helps to balance the emoons and calm the mind by praccing the atude breathing techniques (described in #7) while exercising. 10. Reduce comparing the present with the past.

Aer a crisis or major change, one of the hardest things for any of us is to stop comparing the way life was before with how it is now. That’s really okay and understandable. The me it takes to recover from loss can be dierent for all of us— and me can’t be forced because healing heartache doesn’t respond to schedules or agendas. Yet, in our own me, we will start to regain some stability and be able to move forward with life. I have had experience with this. In a past personal crisis, eventually I realized that to move forward, it was me to redirect my thoughts and feelings from the past situaons I couldn’t change, in order to be at peace in the now and build the future. Aer I experienced an understandable period of grief, I started to realize that I was perpetuang deep pain and depression because of constant comparison. Oen, my heart’s intuion would would whisper: “Constantly “Constantly comparing what is going on now with what happened in the past is not helpful for you. It’s me to use your energy to move forward with life and your responsibilies.” This was hard at rst, but, being honest with myself, I knew it was an important step towards reducing the emoonal toll and inera that come from dwelling in the past. Below is a pracce that helped me. Generally, it is most helpful aer the rst phase of anger, grief or despair. No one would expect us to be able to stop comparing the present with the past during that period. Comparing is part of that. Be comfortable with your own ming, however long it takes. Some people do not experience as much loss, pain or despair as others because their situaon is dierent. dierent. For them, the rst phase could be much shorter, so they may choose to use this pracce earlier in their emoonal recovery process. Suggested pracce:

With compassion and paence for yourself, make a genuine heart commitment to pracce recognizing recognizing some of your thoughts and feelings of comparison with the


past. As you become aware of those thought loops and feel your energy downspiraling, realize that it’s normal to have these thoughts and feelings. Yet know that constant comparison can drain and repress your spirit, which you need at this me to re-stabilize and move forward. Then, in an easygoing way without force, choose something to focus on that doesn’t cause as much pain and energy drain. You can pracce switching your focus to another subject maer or change what you’re doing in the moment if your situaon allows it. You can also replace the thoughts with appreciaon for someone you care about in the present. Of course this is easier at certain mes than at others. With pracce you will be able to recognize the thoughts and feelings and then shi  your focus to something that doesn’t bring you down and leave you with depressed feelings. When this is done from the heart and not just the mind, then you are transforming feelings—not feelings—not repressing them. We can all make progress in restoring our peace, yet we have to play an acve part in it. Emoonal self-maintenance is an important part of the process. I’m not suggesng that you never have thoughts or feelings about your past. Your own heart discernment knows when you’re caught in a depressive mind loop or when you’re  just appreciang the past with good memories. We can save lots of energy with this pracce and it can be especially helpful in prevenng prevenng or soening some of the normal depression that accompanies an emoonal setback. With self-compassion and paence, you can emerge from the depths of challenging mes, especially if you connect with the strength that comes from truly pung your heart into the intenon to move forward. In the past I tried to move forward but without much progress unl I became aware that I was doing it mostly from the mind with lile heart involvement. When you approach your situaon with humility and genuine care, it acvates the power of your heart, which quickens your recovery and re-stabilizaon. 11. Reducing Fear.

Fear is a normal response to uncertain and challenging mes. It is compounded by over-dramazing what causes us to be fearful. Aer the shockwave of the economic crisis, how could millions of people not be imprinted with fear and uncertainty about the future? And now, we are oen confused by conicng opinions on TV news shows and the Internet. It’s really okay if your reacons to the ongoing crises are fear from uncertainty and lack of trust. When uncertainty overshadows spaces 9

that we were once secure in, then fear is set in moon to embrace and protect us. Fear can benet us as an alarm in ght or ight situaons. However, prolonged fear exaggerated by drama eventually creates harmful hormonal and immune system  fear  when responses that compromise our health. We oen produce an overload of  fear   praccal cauon would suce in many situaons. Fear and cauon can sound  just praccal cauon like the same thing, but the dierence between them can make a big dierence in what hormones are released in your system. system. Prolonged fear increases hormones that are harmful to your system. Take as long as you need, but aer the rst phase of shock, anger and inial fear during a crisis, then it’s benecial to pracce reducing reducing the state of fear  to an atude of balanced cauon . There’s a dierence in how these two states aect you mentally and emoonally. Constant fear represses your spirit and numbs your heart connecon with yourself, your family and others. This blocks hope, while exhausng the iniave of those around you. When living from the state of fear it owns you and can eventually erode your discernment and cognive funcon which you need through challenging mes. Living from the atude of  balanced cauon is dierent: the atude of cauon is protecve yet it allows you to maintain balance.  fear  to atudes of  With pracce you can eventually reduce some of your feelings of  fear  balanced cauon and discernment . I respect the fact that it’s hard not to experience frequent waves of fear when life is crumbling around us, no maer what form of  emoonal management we try. Somemes circumstances leave us with fear that  just can’t be helped immediately. Here are some suggesons that helped me aer I experienced a personal crisis. In me, I became red of living repressed by fear and decided I had to do something about it. Apply these suggesons as you can and don’t be hard on yourself if your progress feels stuck at mes.

These exercises have helped many people start the process of reducing and replacing fear with a more benecial state of mind. Exercise1:

Having an honest “self-talk” can help replace feelings of fear with more posive atudes. For example, you can tell yourself the following: “I understand why I’m living in fear and anxiety, but it’s draining my energy, pung my health at risk and interfering with clear decision-making.” “I’m red of being restricted by fear and I’m ready to shi to an atude that’s easier 10

on my nervous system, my health, and those around me.” “I’m aware that fear has sed my spirit and my ability to make eecve choices. My constant fear hasn’t changed anything for the beer, so I have nothing to lose by exploring a new atude for moving forward.” “I don’t expect to eliminate all my fears and projecons overnight, but I commit now   praccal cauon to at least pracce reducing my fear to a more balanced atude of  praccal and discernment  where I can.” “I realize that any progress can help free up my mind, emoons and spirit to move on with what needs to be done and to feel beer while doing it. I’ll set my own pace in reducing my fears and will have compassion for myself in the process.” Reading this daily for awhile can help you pracce downshiing feelings of fear  to more balanced feelings of cauon and discernment. Re-reading Re-reading with feeling also helps to anchor this in your emoonal nature which makes commitment and   progress easier. Exercise 2:

Sit quietly and from your heart remember that enough stress is already going on, without having to wear a backpack of fear on top of that. Breathe quietly through the area around your heart and imagine that you are breathing in the atude of  courage and strength to do what you have to do, without being preoccupied with fear. Doing this with a genuine atude helps take the signicance out of fear. Pracce this for a few minutes a day and anyme you feel a strong wave of fear. It can begin to make a dierence. I understand and have experienced the grip that fear can have on us. Connue to pracce taking the signicance out of fear a lile at a me, as you can. Be easy on yourself; and know that it’s really okay when you can’t eliminate all fear or anxiety as it comes up. Understand that any progress counts —which encourages more progress. 12. Engage with your family.

It is helpful if we can keep open communicaon within our family and circle of  close friends about the stress that everyone is going through. It’s important that family members not repress stress or bole up feelings, as this only makes things worse. Make agreements agreements to give more allowance and latude to one another and if  11

someone is snappy or irritable at mes not to take it as personally. Especially explain this to children, because they usually can’t understand the depth of what the adults are experiencing. It’s important to be as posive around children as we can and reassure them that although mes are tough now, we can work things out in me. 13. Don’t blame yourself.

Blaming yourself for for the eects of the crisis is not benecial and only increases stress. It is not helpful to keep replaying thoughts of all the things you could have done to prevent your situaon. Everyone has been caught o guard by unexpected events and changes, so be easy on yourself. Moving forward is easier without carrying baggage and guilt about what you could have or should have done. 14. Write a leer from your heart to yourself. (Let the leer be an acknowledgement of where you’re at, and then let it arm your commitment to move forward with your life.) You can use the following leer as a guide, while mentally inserng changes to suit your situaon.

(Speak to yourself from your heart as you do this.)

There are good reasons why I am feeling stress, anger and pain. Who wouldn’t, in my situaon? I am aware of my increasing personal stress because of all the anxiety over trying to make survival decisions for myself and my family; nding it hard to get to sleep and when I do, it’s not deep enough to restore my energy; having racing thought loops that only project a hopeless future; fearing job loss, mortgage pressures, rerement insecurity, etc. (Make your own list to suit your  situaon.) I’m aware that if I don’t get o of this stress-express, it could bring down my health, regardless of my reasons, even good ones. I’m not a bad person for experiencing these emoons for the last while. I needed some me to experience the anger, grief, and despair as it has helped me release some of the pain, though not all of it. Yet now, I’m starng to feel that for the sake of my health, my family and my future, it’s me to reestablish my grip and move forward. Even if I can’t completely erase the anxiety of the future just yet, I realize that small steps can sll cross a large room, in me.


In the past, there have been mes when I’ve had to connect with a deeper strength, to pick myself up from tough situaons and move on. I can do this again. I’ll pracce releasing the losses that I can’t change and commit to the changes that will make now and the future beer. I’m looking forward to helping others through this and being more open to help from others. I’ll pracce each day, listening to the feelings in my heart to discern my steps, while making sure I at least move my feet when it’s me to step forward. I now can handle what needs to be done. I just needed to reach deep into my heart to reconnect with my inner strength and gain a sober view. I’m back now. (P.S. From the heart, tell your mind to join you in making this turnaround. If your  mind is reluctant and resistant at mes, know that when your heart commitment is strong enough, the mind will nally “come on board.”)

In closing, right now the rst shockwaves shockwaves of the nancial meltdown are sll reverberang. And new stress waves are occurring regularly, with each report of  a major job layo, another big company going bankrupt, mortgage foreclosures, and more. We can help oset these stress waves in ourselves as we work together  and increase our care for one another. When the heart reopens, it always increases creave soluons both on personal and collecve levels. This booklet is not intended to be a complete package for dealing with the stress of these mes. There are many other resources both in the community and on the Internet that may provide informaon and services. The important thing is to nd something that helps and then commit to it. If any parts of this booklet assist you in any way, consider highlighng them for easy reference. Rereading anything that is helpful in stressful mes supports iniave and condence. Don’t underesmate your capacity for inner strength and emoonal management, management, once you put genuine heart into your commitments. commitments. A lile pracce is a small price to pay for accessing the connecon to the caretaker within. Realize Realize that thousands are in similar situaons during these changing mes. Together we can all move through these challenges and help create a world that is more fair and balanced for all. With Deep Care,

Doc Childre 13

• If you would like like to contribute $1.00 to provide provide printed copies copies of the De-Stress Kit to people in need, it would be appreciated. Go to hp://ons/De-Stress-Donaon • If you would like to receive future Stress Relief Informaon for these challenging mes, go to hp://

If you choose, please help us distribute this booklet to others during this me of increased stress by: —Downloading the online version of the De-Stress Kit at hp://  destresskit forwarding it to other people and posng it on your Web site — Forwarding the De-Stress Kit to other Web sites and blogs to post

— Prinng copies for friends, family, associates and organizaons • For more Stress Relief Relief Resources, go to hp:// To donate by mail: De-Stress Kit Instute of HeartMath 14700 West Park Ave. Boulder Creek, California 95006

© Copyright 2008 by Doc Childre. HeartMath is a registered trademark of the Instute of HeartMath, 14700 West Park Ave., Boulder Creek, California 95006 www.heartmath.or www.heartmath.orgg Instute of HeartMath is a 501(c)(3) nonprot research and educaon organizaon.

About Doc Childre

Doc Childre is the founder of the Instute of HeartMath, a non-prot 501 (c) 3 research and educaon organizaon. For many years, the Instute of HeartMath has been dedicated to mapping and validang the importance of the heart-mind connecon in intuive development and personal growth. The Instute’s research on stress, intuion and emoonal physiology has been published in peer-reviewed scienc journals and presented at numerous scienc conferences worldwide. HeartMath tools for stress relief and emoonal management are being used by companies, government, the military, military, hospitals, clinics and schools. Doc Childre is the co-author of the following books: The HeartMath Soluon, From Chaos to Coherence , Transforming Stress , Transforming Anxiety , Transforming Anger Ange r, Transforming Depression and The HeartMath Approach to Managing Hypertension .


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