Assignment #22: Stress management technique: Music Therapy

A stress technique that I have used before, is listening to music. I have always loved music since I was little. Music therapy uses musical elements – sound, rhythm, melody and harmony – to promote therapeutic objectives through music.

Music can affect your body in positive ways, as well. It is healthy for you, and makes you feel good about yourself overall. Music is also something that doesn’t take away any time from your busy schedule – you are able to put in an iPOD, listen to music while driving, or play music while you even do homework. It is important to choose the type of music that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. Choosing music that others like, and forcing yourself to listen to it, might cause more stress. The rhythm or beat of a song triggers certain emotions. Even when we were in our mother’s womb- we were able to hear her heartbeat.

In doing extensive research I learned that given a piece of music produces in the physiological response system many unexpected things. Music helps you focus, and concentrate. It can stimulate brain waves that go along with the beat. Faster beats many bring a sharper focus and more alert thinking, while a slower tempo may promote a calm, meditative mood. With a positive state of mind, music provides beneficial effects. It lowers blood pressure, and with that – could reduce the risk of heart attacks over time. It can also boost your immune system.

Here is some background on Music Therapy and how music can change your life – even cure illnesses.—Can-Music-Cure-Illness-Disease-and-Disorders-Is-Music-Therapeutic-Medicine-for-Improving-Health/Page1.html

According to Sapolsky’s, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, I find that even Music Therapy can be an effective technique connected with several concepts that are mentioned in his book. Sapolsky talks about Meditation on page 402. “Meditation seems to be pretty good for your health, decreasing glucocorticoid levels, sympathetic tone, and all the bad stuff that too much of either can cause.” Involving music into your meditation routine, is a great way to incorporate various stress management techniques with music into one. Sapolsky notes that there are a lot of different kinds of meditation – so why not try incorporating music?

Sapolsky also talks about Stress and Pain in chapter 9.  Music, can certainly be a pain reliever. When the brain hears something it likes – a sensory emotion – it reacts to it in a positive way. Distracting yourself from the pain you feel, often makes the pain not as bad. Music Therapy can channel your brain into focusing on the sounds, rhythms, and beats – rather than the pain that your body feels.


Stressing a Test

We all know how stressful it can be to take a test. Finals are next week – and just the thought of have to study this weekend can be stressful. You load up your backpack with books and binders and go to the library for a full day of cramming.

Take a moment and ask yourself: are finals really that helpful or are they useless? A student spends the entire year learning information – and throughout the semester is given tests, quizzes, and papers to regurgitate information. Shouldn’t that be enough? Let’s face it – any student who is studying for a final, is wrapping their head around “what grade might I receive?” Are we even understanding the concepts, facts, figures….or are we simply training our brain to memorize, without really grasping the idea behind it?

School should be about going beyond the material – asking ourselves, what IS the point of what i’m learning? I understand that grades are necessary…but I feel that professors should really think about how to help students not only learn and understand the material, but also find a way to help them remember it in years to come. If we can relate what we are learning in school – to real life, wouldn’t that be more effective? How can I grasp an idea by simply circling in A,B,C, or D? Why not make our final something hands on? Those are the things that I will remember later on in life, and in turn, will be able to teach my children.

On another note, in light of finals week….

Here are some tips to REDUCE your anxiety on test taking! Hope this helps! Happy studying, everyone! 🙂

The Future

We are now in our last week of classes, and finals are approaching. Graduation is right around the corner. It is hard to believe that I will be dressed in a cap and gown in only a few short weeks. With this thought – comes the ultimate stressor…what will my future hold? For many of us – whether we are nearing our last days of school, or contemplating our dream job in the middle of class- the thought of being independent and entering the working world is stressful. Being an Art major, can be overwhelming. Where do I take this degree? Do I want to go into advertising? Fashion? Design? Media? There are so many options – but how do I narrow it down? Is Graduate School the way to go? Or, should I try out a few jobs and see what interests me the most?

Taking the first step into the ‘real world’, I believe, will be the hardest part – not to mention the ‘letting go’ of the routine schedule we have been accustomed to for years in school. What am I the most afraid of concerning my future? Is it the fact that I am growing old, or not knowing what I want to do with my remaining years? Am I afraid that I won’t land my dream job, or find a career that I am passionate about? Or, what if I never get hired? What if nobody see’s the potential in me – that I see in myself? The answer – all of the above. It’s hard to grow up and grasp the concept of letting go of the familiar and diving into the future. A lot of risk is involved.

However, In some ways, I see myself as very lucky. I have a clean slate ahead of me. I can control my future and what it is that I want to accomplish. I may not know what it is that I am interested in now – but maybe that is the fun part. The planning, the searching, the wonder….of what lies ahead. Perhaps this ‘unknown’ is my palette, and I must paint my future with every bright color that I deserve. I see a bright, promising, and happy life ahead!

Sex and Stress

Sex can affect your stress life in many different ways.

Here are 3 types of stress that can affect your life in the bedroom:

1. Internal Stress– Stress between the couple

2. External Stress– Stress from work, finances, kids and family

3. Critical Stress– Stress from unemployment, death of a loved one, a serious illness

With all of these common stressors, is it possible that maintaining a healthy sex life can actually improve your STRESS life?? Studies have shown – it is true! Having a sex life can help take away the stress in your life.

First, your brain. Your brain is the most sensitive organ in the body. I found out that keeping your brain healthy has a great impact on your sex life – even more so than keeping your body healthy. The brain is the part of the body that stimulates you mentally before you become physically aroused. A dysfunctional brain will make for a less intimate connection. A healthy brain = a better sexual experience!

This website has more interesting information on the brain – and also includes information on understanding the difference between the male and female brain – which can also improve a couple’s sex life.

Second, your body. Stress typically wears you down – and can certainly have an effect on your body, too! It is proven that sex can relax you, and ease the muscles/tension in your body.

You relationships and your mood.

Sex is an activity that can lighten your mood and help your relationship. First, you can relieve hormones. Sex is a great exercise that is completely natural. The neurotransmitter in the brain – affects your nervous system, which also plays a role in stressful situations. Sex can help release your stress by pumping serotonin.

Here is a site that has helpful suggestions on how to recover your relationship with your significant other:

I Must Be Dreaming…

Stress can haunt your dreams…literally!

When I have had a stressful week – full of tests, papers, and long nights in the library, I tend to have more vivid dreams when I finally hit the bed at night…even nightmares! So does the amount of stress in your week have to do with what you’re dreaming about? Perhaps.

Researchers think that having nightmares are normal…and I have to agree. The way you handle and deal with stress can sometimes trigger scary or frustrating dreams. Nightmares are a normal response to different levels of fear and stress. Those who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, tend to have nightmares frequently. For example, War Veterans tend to have nightmares about getting killed or injured in battle because it was such a big part of their life that came with daily doses of fear.

What other things in our life cause dreams? Certainly, school and work. A nightmare that is full of frustration may resemble a day at school or in the office. One might have a dream about not being able to get work done in time. Our dreams are suppose to be our way of working through things. High-risk jobs, or even students with a lot of involvement and leadership positions- may have more nightmares or dreams that show they’re stressed.

Family life is a another big topic that can cause nightmares. If one has experienced a loss in their family, alcoholism, abuse, or neglect…these things can easily turn into a nightmare where you are forced to re-live it. It can be hard to control your dreams, but if you work on bettering yourself and the life around you – it may help to lessen the disturbing dreams at night.

To follow up on more reading about nightmares, go to:

Stress & Pregnancy

For those of you future Mother’s and Father’s to be….it is important to learn and understand how stress can play a tole on your pregnancy.

I read an interesting article on what stress can do to a pregnant Mommy-to-be.

Being pregnant is an exciting time in a Mother’s life. Although I don’t have any experience quite yet- I can only imagine what it feels like to be carrying your very own (smaller) version of you and your husband. The months of being pregnant are vital – in that your baby is constantly growing. If you stress – so might your baby! Studies show that stress during a pregnancy can have detrimental effects on your offspring. Children have been born with developmental issues, struggle with learning and paying attention, and even show signs of having anxiety or depression early on.

Small stresses – like what is going on at work, might not have a great effect on your child. It is certain types of severe, long-term stressors that can cause negative outcomes on your pregnancy. A long-lasting divorce, death in the family, etc…are the types of things that may cause your baby to be premature, or even have a lower birthweight.  Some studies have said that when you’re extremely stressed during pregnancy – certain hormones are released that can even cause you to miscarriage.

Here are a  few tips that I read about to ease your stress during your pregnancy:

1. Be in control of your life. Balance out the day-to-day activities.

2. Stay busy and active – but make time to relax!

3. Know what YOUR needs are – and don’t be afraid to tell people

4. Communicate with your loved ones. It is likely that they WANT to help

5. Read a few books/articles/and talk to friends who have been pregnant – the more informed you are…the better you will feel about having a baby.

It is also important to consider the genetics. If your mother, grandfather, and great-grand father were known to have stress and anxiety – chances are, you might too. Talk to your family and see if stress runs in your family. This is a good thing to know!

This interesting article shows fascinating statistics. Read – and hopefully when that special time comes you will be prepared and better informed!

Tips to adding energy into your day

How many times have you been slumped into the couch cushions and wished you had the energy to put on your running shorts and tennis shoes and hit the weight room? For most of us, this thought probably enters our mind at least 3 or 4 times a week. While for others, being on a sports team or involved with intramurals is the perfect way to fit exercise into your schedule and not worry about getting your daily dose of energy in.

So. For all of you couch potato’s out there who stress about your health and keeping your girlish figure – Here are some things to get us up and motivated.

1. Studies show that exercise is a great way to relieve stress (while shedding off a few extra pounds). I leave the gym feeling like i’ve accomplished something…not only have I burned off some unwanted food consumed that day, but I’ve also burned off the stress that has been floating in a bubble above my head ..just waiting to be popped.

If you hate the thought of the gym and bearing your white legs to the world, try buying a workout video that you can do from home. I live in a sorority house and we have found a workout tape for all of us to do together on week nights when we’re out of class. It’s a great way to exercise without actually leaving the comfort of our room..AND, I promise you’ll get a few laughs out of it. (TIP: avoid hip-hop videos for those of you who are incredibly uncoordinated like myself.)

2. Food wise, there are tons of different options out there to give us the energy we need to make it through the day. Here is a link with the top 10 foods that may help reduce stress:

I find that having something in the morning for breakfast, whether it be a bowl of cereal or even something on-the-go like a granola bar or piece of fruit…it can really help your concentration during first period, while giving you that small dose of energy to focus.

3. Finally, I’ve also found that listening to music is a great way to free your mind while boosting your spirits! Not only will you find yourself dancing around your room or in your car, but you will be exercising without even knowing it. Every little thing helps!

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