SAD

So, often times people complain that they have the winter time blues, which is a lighter, less serious case as what is known as  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a condition that occurs when the days become shorter in the wintertime. Wintertime blues will cause people to have a reduced quality of life with less “sparkle”, less fun, less productivity… what it will not do is impair their work or relationships.

SAD, however, will provide those who suffer from it with similar symptoms and then some… they will have low energy and difficulty waking up in the mornings. They will also become more sad and depressed. For the worst cases, symptoms can have drastic effects on a person’s life. People will become unable to work.

So… it is evident that there actually are cases of wintertime blues… but what about summertime blues, perhaps for those of us that love the snow and winter sports. Personally, I love to ski both downhill and cross country, as well as snowboard. I also enjoy snowmobiling and ice fishing. There are tons of things that I miss about winter when the summer comes around (don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the summer days), and

I was curious to see if there are any people that suffer from the “summertime blues”… turns out, there is!

It is referred to as Reverse SAD or Summer SAD. I found that it is more common than people may think, but

it is also very unknown.

That being said, I don’t think I have SAD… or Summer SAD, but maybejust an unhealthy obsession with snow sports?

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Stress Management (assignment 22): Cooking Away the Stress

So, thus far the posts concerning food are usually correlated with weight as well, such as “eat the stress away.” Although the use of food can be a great coping mechanism for stress, it can also lead to some pretty serious health problems such as high cholesterol levels and unhealthy weight gains. So, I have come up with a much better way to enjoy the benefits of eating to relieve stress… get rid of the stress before you eat… to do so,  prepare the meal! This is a stress management technique that I like to use when I have a kitchen available and some good company.

Rather than going out to a restaurant  or grabbing some fast food when you have a craving, try slowing things down a little bit. Think about something you would really enjoy eating (the options aren’t limited to what’s on the menu!), then take a trip to the store and get anything you will need to make the dish.

Once you have the necessary ingredients, the best part begins… the creation. Preparing the food can be quite therapeutic in that you get to chop, slice, dice and stir… and if you are really stressed, maybe pick a meal for which you will have to do some tenderizing; that can be quite relieving as well.

Now that food is prepped, you get to turn up the heat and throw your meal into some heat. Now you will be enveloped by the magnificent scents created by your own hands, rather than the unknown chef at the restaurant. How satisfying is that!

Finally, with the food prepped and ready, sit down and enjoy it in good company. Meal time provides a great environment for casual discussion and time to let go of what is bothering you.

I was able to find a great article on the subject here.

I also find it quite enjoyable to watch the food network and other food shows to get some ideas for the next meal.

This stress management technique is effective in combating stress because it is something that you have control over what you are doing. Everything will be done the way you want it to be, and it also provides a number of different outlets. A trip to the store could physically remove you from the are of stressor, as well as provide some social support if you are cooking for more than yourself. One could also that cooking could give you some exercise. Certainly walking aroudn a grocery store (if you know them like I do, poorly) will give you some exercise, but even food prep can give you some exercise if you need to stir together ingredients or chop a lot of vegetables. Time in the kitchen could also give you some time to meditate. All of the mentioned outlets are said by Sapolsky to help lower stress levels.

Constants

About a month or so ago I had started a Tuesday night trip to Buffalo Wild Wings with a good friend of mine. Every Tuesday after Tennis we would clean up then go over to the restaurant, eat some wings, have a few drinks and talk about how our weeks have been, how classes are going, what we are looking forward to this week, what is bothering us, who is bothering us, what we are doing after graduation, whatever really. We have became great friends due to our Tuesday nights and are comfortable sharing just about anything between one another.

At first I didn’t think much of our Tuesday night’s, however, after the first two weeks, I found myself always looking forward to Tuesday night. It has become a constant in my life, and a good one; one that provides me with some security of what will be happening every week. And one that also provides some social support for both parties. I also noticed that in result of my anticipation for Buffalo Wild Wings, I would worry less about any stressors that are going on in my life.

So, I have found that when I have something to look forward to every week I tend to be excited about that event, and therefore less worried about everything else that may be bothering me. I never really thought much about the advantages of a constant in my life such as a ‘date night’ on Tuesdays with a friend, or maybe a night at the driving range or bowling alley with some guys.

Now that I have realized the advantages of having some sort of fun, carefree constant in my life, I think I will definitely work to make sure I have at least one sure thing happening on aweekly basis to help me let loose and relax without worries.

What are some constants that you all have in your lives?

Pet Therapy… What About it?

Throughout my life I have never had the joy of a pet in the house. I had always hinted at getting a dog, and even flat out asked, but there was never any support of the idea as my parents felt I would leave them taking care of it. Regardless, I think they should have looked more into the advantages that come about with the companionship of any sort of pet… even fish!

My interest in this subject sparked because I have never had a pet of my own (and will get one as soon as I have my own place), and I have had to envy every body else’s to reap the benefits of pet ownership. Throughout high school and even now I take up every  dog or cat-sitting job I can, and love it. For some reason, when I am enjoying the company of some lovable dog that wants nothing but attention, everything else seems to jump right out of my mind and I cherish the moments of relief and mindlessness. All of the stressful things going on at the time are, even though it may only be for a brief moment, forgotten, and stress is relieved. Because I have noticed this, I decided to do a bit of research on the subject of animals and stress relief to see if the soft fur of a lab or the gentle purr of a cat in one’s lap does actually have the power to relieve stress.



I heard of pet therapy, and seen programs about the use of horses to ease the effects of autism, and they seem to have excellent results. So, what I wonder is if pet ownership has similar effects. From some brief research online, and personal experience and observation, I am led to believe that it does.

According to an online source, research has been able to show that pet ownership may reduce stress-induced symptoms such as high blood pressure and muscle tension. For example, simply petting a dog or watching fish may lower blood pressure. It is also believed that bringing a pet into a nursing home will help to boost morale and enhance social interaction.

My personal experiences and observations have come from just about any interactions I have had with animals whether they be cats, dogs, bunnies, etc. I always feel a sense of relief, perhaps due to their acceptance and appreciation of my presence? Another personal testimony to the theory is observations of my uncle. He owns a company and is often stressed at the end of the day. When I was working for him I would do my best to persuade him to take the horses out, go for a walk with the dogs, or a combination of the two. It almost turned him back into a kid again when he was riding or playing with the dogs, and he always seemed to be a bit more chipper afterwards. In time, the other employees began to notice his moods the days after I had influenced his afternoon activities (which included boating, as well)… it was pretty cool to see my uncle a little less stressed due to my efforts (and of course the company of the horses and dogs).

Spring Break: Stressor?

I decided to post a blog as a response to the previous one concerning spring break and the possibility of it being a stress reliever. Yes, Spring break is a great time to kick back, relax, and rid of the every day stressors that are present at Randolph-Macon. However, does the use of this time to relax actually cause more stress when we return to classes?

Based on my personal experiences, over my spring breaks I tend to do a lot of things for myself. Biking with friends, reading (nothing assigned for classes, of course), tennis, soccer, yard work, whatever. I will do anything enjoyable to occupy my time. In the process of doing so, I have completely neglected the assignments that have been given to me over break. Essentially I am stress free for the week. But there is always the lurking thought that I have some work to do or an exam to study for.

Come weeks end, I return to campus on Sunday evening and am swamped with work. I must force myself to stay up late to complete assignments that I could have worried about all week while at home but I felt the need to avoid them via relaxation. So, I suppose what I am saying is that Spring break does allow for some stress relief, but upon return the regular stressors of school stack up and create quite a stressor…

I guess what I wonder is whether or not the amount of relief we gain from putting our studies aside is worth the stress of cramming a bunch of work into one night when we return… would it be healthier to add a little bit of stress to our break by spreading work out over the break, or is it better to relax completely and throw your worries away over break and allow yourself to be bombarded with work (and stress) when you return… potentially leading to sleep deprivation and exhaustion when you return to classes the following day.

What’s your take? Do you have any strategies to limit stress when you return to to classes after a break?

Disconnected…

Disconnected…

While responding to texting away the present, I found myself first thinking about the amount of technology most people my age, and myself, are using on a daily basis. From facebook to texting, most people don’t go a day without the use of new networking technologies. With communications on my mind, I began to think about the opposite, the lack of communication and just how nice it can be to “forget” your phone at home or let the battery die every once and awhile. This led me to begin reminiscing about the time I have spent in Maine over the past few summers because more often than not I would find myself without a functioning phone… the times I had without my phone were some of the most relaxing, stress free times I have ever had.

For the past two summers I have traveled up to Maine and lived with my sister while I worked. She lives in a very small town along the Kennebec River, about a 20 minute ride from the ocean by either car or boat. If you travel up river, you stumble upon hundreds of acres of hay fields surrounded by forests. Basically, it is beautiful. The first Friday of my summer in Maine landed me on a friends boat shortly after work, we hit the throttle and were fishing in the ocean in no time at all. After we had reeled in a few and the fish stopped running I reached to check the time only to find a phone that was out of batteries. Disconnected. No texts, no calls, just a boat, a cooler full of…soda’s, and a view; ocean in one direction and a beach in the other. We probably sat for upwards of 3 hours enjoying the serenity of the situation and the company of a good friend… something we may not have been able to appreciate with the presence of a working cell phone. Easily one of the best summer evening’s I’ve had.

On the Contrary…

Although I have had some great times without access to a phone, there are some consequences… When I was out fishing and my phone died I missed calls from my sister inviting me to a barbecue at a friends place who happens to be a verry good cook.

Being disconnected also led to one situation that was in some respects quite unfortunate…

A little ways up the street from my place of residence are hay fields that my Uncle takes care of in the summer. Every so often he would ask for a helping hand driving a tractor or stacking bails. Either way, I usually ended up leaving my phone at home. One Saturday we had been in the fields all morning (throwing hay is a great way to take your mind off of things!). In the afternoon we grabbed a quick bite and I brought up his boat (which hadn’t been in the water for 6 years). And we decided to do a bit of work on it. After a few

hours we were able to get the engine running and the tides were just high enough to get the boat in the water. We floated out of the grasses and the engine started right up. However, we got about 3/4 of a mile away from the house only to have the engine seize… I didn’t have my phone, and my Uncle’s phone was AT&T… no service. Again, I found myself and a friend Disconnected… The sun was dropping and we had two paddles to navigate a 22 foot powerboat almost a mile against the tide… fat chance. Thankfully there were some generous boaters passing by that gave us a tow.

Conclusions?

From my experiences, I have found that sometimes being disconnected can bring about some great opportunities to relax, be carefree, and forget about all those stressors that could be affecting you. However, if you are disconnected at the wrong time and in the wrong place (like in the middle of a river!) you could potentially enable a huge stressor… how the heck am I gonna get home!

So, although I am a prefer face-to-face interactions and believe there is much more value in them over a call or text… in some scenarios a call or text could get you out of deep water.

I suppose I’ll end with the proposal that people should make an effort to be aware or even regulate their use of technology in certain situations, as it may often get in the way of something wonderful. Or better yet: do you all find the same sense of freedom and relaxation when disconnected?


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