stress

All posts tagged stress

The Simple Breathing Technique That Will Help You Sleep

Published November 26, 2015 by teacher dahl

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QUESTION: I’ve had trouble sleeping as I’ve gotten older—is this a big problem?

ANSWER: Persistent insomnia becomes more common as we age. It’s a risk factor for weight gain and can disrupt the body’s regulation of blood sugar, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Continued lack of sleep can also affect cognitive function and increase stress-hormone levels that raise blood pressure and promote inflammatory changes associated with chronic disease. In other words, this is one problem you need to address.

For better sleep, try a technique like this relaxation breath exercise when you get into bed tonight. (For more help sleeping, check out these 20 ways to sleep better every night.)

  • Exhale through your mouth.
  • Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for a count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for 7 counts.
  • Exhale for 8 counts.
  • Repeat the sequence 3 times.

Credit: Prevention.com

Why Do We Yawn, and why is it contagious?

Published September 30, 2014 by teacher dahl

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Why Do We Yawn?
1. Yawning doesn’t just mean you’re tired.
Next time you’re with a group of your friends, try this out. Take a big yawn, don’t forget to cover your mouth, and wait to see how many other people yawn. There’s a good chance your yawn will be contagious. In fact, before you even finish reading this story it is likely that you’ll yawn at least once. Not that I’m trying to bore you, but just reading about yawning will make you yawn.
2. Yawning doesn’t always mean you are bored. Adelie penguins actually yawn as part of their wooing ritual. Couples face each other and the males stand with their beaks wide open and face towards the sky.
As for why people yawn… good question. Nobody really knows why we yawn. For a while scientists believed that you yawned when there was too much carbon dioxide and not enough oxygen in your blood. Part of your brain realized this and triggered you to yawn. As your mouth stretches you inhale deeply, sending a shot of oxygen to the lungs and into the bloodstream. That theory went out the window because nobody can prove it.

The reason yawns are contagious?
Power of suggestion perhaps.

If you’re out late with your friends after school, you’re probably tired.

You’re probably on the verge of a yawn, too, and seeing one person do it is enough to drive everyone to yawns.

Have I made you yawn yet? If I have, I hope it’s not cuz you’re bored, but simply by the power of suggestion.

A Few Cool Yawning Facts

  • The average yawn lasts about six seconds.
  • 55 percent of people will yawn within five minutes of seeing someone else yawn.
  • Blind people yawn more after hearing an audio tape of people yawning.
  • Reading about yawning will make you yawn.
  • Olympic athletes often yawn before competition.

Coping With Exam Stress

Published August 23, 2014 by teacher dahl

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As the examination period approaches, you may feel the pressure of the exams getting to you. This is not surprising — in fact it is quite normal to feel some anxiety about exams. Most people find that a bit of pressure spurs us on and enables us to get down and do some serious work.

General Exam Stress-Busting Tips:

  • Believe in yourself
    You wouldn’t have been given a place on the course if you didn’t have the ability to do it. Therefore, if you prepare for the exams properly you should do fine, meaning that there is no need to worry excessively.
  • Don’t try to be perfect
    It’s great to succeed and reach for the stars. But keep things in balance. If you think that “anything less than A+ means I’ve failed” then you are creating mountains of unnecessary stress for yourself. Aim to do your best but recognise that none of us can be perfect all of the time.
  • Take steps to overcome problems
    If you find you don’t understand some of your course material, getting stressed out won’t help. Instead, take action to address the problem directly by seeing your course tutor or getting help from your class mates.
  • Don’t keep things bottled up
    Confiding in someone you trust and who will be supportive is a great way of alleviating stress and worry.
  • Keep things in perspective
    The exams might seem like the most crucial thing right now, but in the grander scheme of your whole life they are only a small part.

lying examinee

 

Overcoming test anxiety:  General preparation

  • Building confidence

Review your personal situation and skills
Academic counselors can help you in these areas, or refer to our Guides on the topic:

  • Developing good study habits and strategies (a link to our directory)
  • Managing time
    (dealing with procrastination, distractions, laziness)
  • Organizing material to be studied and learned
  • Take a step by step approach to build a strategy and not get overwhelmed
    Outside pressures  success/failure consequences (grades, graduation), peer pressure, competitiveness, etc.
  • Reviewing your past performance on tests  to improve and learn from experience

Test preparation to reduce anxiety:  Approach the exam with confidence

  • Use whatever strategies you can to personalize success: visualization, logic, talking to your self, practice, team work, journaling, etc.
  • View the exam as an opportunity to show how much you’ve studied and to receive a reward for the studying you’ve done
  • Be prepared!
  • Learn your material thoroughly and organize what materials you will need for the test. Use a checklist
  • Choose a comfortable location for taking the test with good lighting and minimal distractions
  • Allow yourself plenty of time, especially to do things you need to do before the test and still get there a little early
  • Avoid thinking you need to cram just before
  • Strive for a relaxed state of concentration
  • Avoid speaking with any fellow students who have not prepared, who express negativity, who will distract your preparation
  • A program of exercise is said to sharpen the mind

Get a good night’s sleep the night before the exam

good sleep

Don’t go to the exam with an empty stomach

  • fresh fruits and vegetables are often recommended to reduce stress.
  • Stressful foods can include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk foods, pork, red meat, sugar, white flour products, chips and similar snack foods, foods containing preservatives or heavy spices

food

  • Take a small snack, or some other nourishment
  • to help take your mind off of your anxiety.
  • Avoid high sugar content (candy) which may aggravate your condition

exam stress pix

During the test:

  • Read the directions carefully
  • Budget your test taking time
  • Change positions to help you relax
  • If you go blank, skip the question and go on
  • If you’re taking an essay test
  • and you go blank on the whole test, pick a question and start writing. It may trigger the answer in your mind

Don’t panic    when students start handing in their papers. There’s no reward for finishing first

Use relaxation techniques
If you find yourself tensing and getting anxious during the test:

  • Relax; you are in control.
  • Take slow, deep breaths
  • Don’t think about the fear
  • Pause: think about the next step and keep on task, step by step
  • Use positive reinforcement for yourself:
  • Acknowledge that you have done, and are doing, your best

Expect some anxiety

  • It’s a reminder that you want to do your best and can provide energy
  • Just keep it manageable
  • Realize that anxiety can be a “habit”
  • and that it takes practice to use it as a tool to succeed

After the test, review how you did

  • List what worked, and hold onto these strategies
  • It does not matter how small the items are: they are building blocks to success
  • List what did not work for improvement
  • Celebrate that you are on the road to overcoming this obstacle

Source: studygs.net./humanities.manchester.uk

 

5 Signs You’re Not Happy : Do you have them?

Published November 1, 2013 by teacher dahl

The National Institutes of Health report that more than 20 million people in the United States suffer from depression.
While you can’t equate depression with run-of-the-mill unhappiness, there does seem to be a disconnection between reported and actual happiness. In that case, certain behaviors can raise red flags that negative emotions are taking a toll. After recognizing them and taking action, folks can get back on track toward joy.

Count down begins…

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5. Too Much TV

Sometimes, a stressful day simply calls for a night of indulgent television. Kick back, relax and let your mind melt in the sea of reality shows and hospital dramas. But if this is your routine night after night, it may be wise to abandon the remote for a while. According to a 2008 study, excessive boob-tube time is a possible sign of unhappiness.
Since 1972, researchers at the University of Chicago have conducted the General Social Survey to evaluate the social climate in the United States. Regardless of education, income, marital status or age, happier people surveyed watched about 30 percent less television each week than unhappier participants

. On average, the happier respondents watched 19 hours of television, compared to 25 hours for the unhappy set. Instead of kicking back on the couch, take a cue from the happier lot. Their leisure time involved hanging out with friends, volunteering or participating in organized activities.

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4. Troubled relationships

A sure sign of growing despondency is fractured relationships. Unhappier people may have more difficultly resolving issues or project immediate problems onto the future. They may not attempt to broaden friend circles and meet new people. And when relationships turn sour, this can reinforce feelings of discontent.
The happier people included in the General Social Survey spent more time with others in one way or another. That result echoes throughout the vast body of happiness research; consistently, those with the deepest and widest social connections report the highest levels of life satisfaction. For instance, surveys demonstrate that married people are generally happier than singles. Yet, happier folks may be more likely to get married in the first place.
Reaping the benefits of bonding with friends and family can happen through online social media as well. The Virtual Happiness Project, which is evaluating the relationship between happiness and online social networking, has so far found that building relationships via online platforms can boost happiness

.

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3. Uncontrollable Stress

According to positive psychology, or the science of subject well-being, environment plays an important role in people’s quest for happiness. Feeling safe and comfortable generates contentment and satisfaction. Conversely, an excessively stressful environment promotes anxiety and insecurity. For instance, a study comparing controllable and uncontrollable stress found that the latter caused greater unhappiness and tension

. While stress compels us to work more efficiently and achieve greater goals, too much of it can adversely affect long-term happiness.
One recent example of the stress effect is the paradoxical shift in happiness among American women in the past 35 years. Despite the progress women have made in recent decades, their rates of subjective well-being have declined overall

. Researchers have attributed this to the rising stress levels women must manage while juggling a family and career. A separate comparison of how people spend their time concluded that men may be happier today because they spend less time on unpleasant tasks than women

.
While we can’t entirely eliminate stress from our lives, some tenets of positive psychology can help alleviate it. Specifically, positive thinking, mindfulness and optimism serve as emotional stress antidotes. When stress strikes, fight the urge to park in front of the television and try out relaxation techniques instead.

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2. Constant Pleasure Seeking

In the late 1970s, a team of psychologists led by Philip Brickman came to a startling conclusion about humans and happiness. In comparing the happiness levels of a group of lottery winners and a group of paraplegics to that of the general population, the psychologists discovered that both life-altering events made negligible differences on the groups’ well-being after a while. The researchers attributed this phenomenon to the adaptive functioning of the human spirit. Given time, people will acclimate to circumstances, whether fantastically positive or negative.
In the case of the lottery winners, a sudden jolt of wealth didn’t improve their happiness in the long run. Instead, people can get trapped on what Brickman coined a hedonic treadmill, or an endless search for bigger and better material goods to bring pleasure. The problem with this pathological pleasure-seeking is its intrinsic emptiness. By definition, pleasure is momentary and fleeting — leaving us wanting more. Contentment, on the other hand, means appreciating present circumstances and surroundings.

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1. Sleepless Nights

After a night of tossing and turning in the bed, you finally nod off to sleep. Moments later — or so it feels like — the alarm chimes, and it’s time to get up. Needless to say, this isn’t the best way to start the day. A study published in the journal Science tracked 909 working women’s mood shifts throughout the day. Aside from work-related stress, not getting enough quality sleep was the top predictor of unhappiness among the subjects

Also, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan calculated the happiness boost people get from sleeping an extra hour each night as equivalent to receiving a $60,000 annual raise

. This impressive effect likely relates to brain chemistry. The brains of sleep-deprived people are more sensitive to the effects of cortisol, a stress hormone.

The link between sleep and happiness begs the question of correlation versus causation. Does poor sleep make us unhappy, or is unhappiness hindering sleep? It probably depends on individual situations. Someone working 60 hours per week may be suffering from overwork and sheer lack of sleep time. On the other hand, symptoms of unhappiness, such as stress and television, don’t promote quality rest, either.
Tackling the sleep issue may require a multi-pronged approach. Evaluating stress levels and exercise routines are smart places to start. After all, when you don’t prepare your body for bedtime, nodding off can prove challenging no matter how happy you feel.

source: How stuff works.com

Surprising Headache Triggers

Published September 24, 2013 by teacher dahl

Although much about the cause of migraines isn’t understood, genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role.

Migraines may be caused by changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway.

Imbalances in brain chemicals — including serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system — also may be involved. Researchers continue to study the role of serotonin in migraines.

Serotonin levels drop during migraine attacks. This may cause your trigeminal system to release substances called neuropeptides, which travel to your brain’s outer covering (meninges). The result is headache pain.

Here are some surprising Headache triggers:

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Headache Trigger: Your Boss
Yes, your boss really can give you a headache. Anything that boosts your stress level can make you more vulnerable to tension headaches or migraines. The exact mechanism for these headaches is unclear and may involve different factors. A heightened sensitivity of nerve pathways in the brain that relay pain may play a role. Changes within the brain itself may also be involved in migraine headaches.

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Headache Trigger: Weather
When the temperature changes, so does the likelihood of developing a migraine. Whether it’s a heat wave or a cold snap, the change can trigger a headache. Sunny, hot days are another common culprit. Rain or changes in barometric pressure also may lead to headaches. While you can’t change the weather, you can wear sunglasses on a bright day, minimize dehydration, and avoid midday sun.

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Headache Trigger: Strong Scents
Strong smells — even nice ones — trigger migraines in many people. Why this happens is unclear, but the odors may stimulate the nervous system. The most common culprits are paint, perfume, and certain types of flowers.

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Headache Trigger: Hair Accessories
How you wear your hair can take a toll on your head. A tight ponytail may strain the connective tissue in the scalp, leading to a hairdo headache. Headbands, braids, and tight-fitting hats can create the same effect. If this is the cause of your headache, letting your hair down usually brings fast relief.

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Headache Trigger: Exercise
Strenuous exercise, including sex, can sometimes lead to headaches. Examples include jogger’s headache and sex headache. These types of headaches are most common in people who are susceptible to migraines.

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Headache Trigger: Poor Posture

You don’t have to work up a sweat to build pressure in the head and neck muscles. Slouching at your desk will do the job, too. Common forms of poor posture include hunching your shoulders, using a chair with no lower-back support, staring at a monitor that is too low or too high, and cradling a phone between your ear and shoulder. If you have frequent tension headaches, take a good look at your workspace.

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Headache Trigger: Cheese
A migraine trigger for some people is aged cheese, including blue cheese, cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss. The culprit may be a substance called tyramine. The longer a food ages, the more tyramine it contains.

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Headache Trigger: Red Wine
Tyramine is also found in red wine and other alcoholic drinks. Other ingredients in wine may contribute to headaches as well. Because alcohol increases blood flow to the brain, the effects may be even more intense. If red wine is a trigger for you, but you’d like to enjoy a glass on special occasions, ask your doctor about taking a preventive dose of medication.

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Headache Trigger: Cold Cuts
Processed meats, such as cold cuts, have two strikes against them. They often contain tyramine, as well as food additives such as nitrites, which may trigger headaches in some people. Headaches caused by food additives are usually felt on both sides of the head (in contrast to a classic migraine, which strikes one side at a time).

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Headache Trigger: Skipping Meals
Hunger headaches aren’t always obvious. If you skip a meal, your head could start to ache before you realize you’re hungry. The trouble is a dip in blood sugar. But don’t try to cure a hunger headache with a candy bar. Sweets cause blood sugar to spike and then drop even lower.

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Headache Trigger: Smoking
Smoking is known to trigger headaches — and not just in the person holding the cigarette. Secondhand smoke contains nicotine, which causes blood vessels in the brain to narrow. Giving up cigarettes or reducing exposure to secondhand smoke appears especially helpful to patients with cluster headaches. These are extremely painful one-sided headaches that can also cause eye and nose symptoms.

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Headache Trigger: Caffeine
For the headache-prone, caffeine fits firmly into the category of “can’t live with it, can’t live without it.” In moderation, caffeine is often beneficial — in fact, it’s found in many headache medications. But chain-chugging coffee can be a cause of headaches. And, if you’re hooked on caffeine, cutting back abruptly may only make things worse. Caffeine withdrawal is another headache trigger.

SOLUTIONS:

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Headache Solution: Manage Stress
Many people are able to manage migraines or tension headaches through stress-busting strategies. Although you can’t control the stressful events that come your way, you can alter your response to those events. You may need to experiment with techniques such as meditation and massage to find what works for you.

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Headache Solution: Stretch Your Legs
Moderate exercise is a powerful stress reliever. Walking is a great choice because it delivers an extra defense against tension headaches. When you walk, the swinging motion of your arms tends to relax the muscles in your neck and shoulders. Breaking up those knots may help diminish the root of some headaches.

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Headache Solution: Eat Regular Meals
Eating balanced meals throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar on an even keel. That means no more hunger headaches. Aim for meals and snacks that pair a protein with a complex carbohydrate, such as peanut butter on whole-grain bread or chicken breast with brown rice. And be sure to drink enough fluids — dehydration is another common headache trigger.

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Headache Solution: Physical Therapy

Physical therapy combines exercise and education to reduce pain and improve range of motion. In people with tension headaches, physical therapy may help the neck muscles and establish new habits that lead to better posture.

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Headache Solution: Medication
Over-the counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are effective against many types of headaches. But avoid taking these drugs continuously, as this can result in medication overuse headaches or rebound headaches — headache pain that returns as soon as the pills have worn off. For frequent or severe headaches, talk to your doctor about prescription medications that help prevent them.

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When to See a Doctor

Any new headache that is unusually severe or lasts more than a couple of days should be checked by a doctor. It’s also important to let your health care provider know if the pattern of your headaches changes — for example, if there are new triggers. If you have a headache accompanied by vision changes, movement problems, confusion, seizure, fever, or stiff neck, seek emergency medical care.

source: Web MD/Mayo clinic

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