Assignment 22: Exercise as a Stress Manager

There are many ways to manage stress, and exercise is the one that I choose most.  Exercising relieves stress phenomenally.  Whenever I am feeling stressed out with way too much school work or other things going on, I like to go to the gym and lift weights.  Often times, when I have a lot on my plate, I get very frustrated and have a lot of stored up energy.  There is no better way, for me personally, to relieve this stress than to lift.  Even if I am tired, once I get in the gym and get into my workout, I instantly begin to feel better.  The affects afterwards are amazing.  Even if I still have a lot of work to do, in general I just feel better about everything and it is easier to sit back down and do my work.  Even if I just go to the gym and run or swim for 15 minutes, I feel so much better.  As Zapolsky says on page 401, besides generally making you feel better and improving one’s mood, exercise is beneficial for various reasons.  It decreases the risk of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and when this happens, it becomes much harder for stress to get worse.  Zapolsky also writes that there is some evidence that exercise “makes for a smaller stress-response to various psychological stressors.”  One key to exercise being a stress reliever is that you actually have to want to exercise.  If you are negative about exercising the entire time that you are exercising, it will not be very affective and will most likely be a waste of time.  In fact, if this is the case, it can make stress worse.  Zapolsky also says that exercise should be a regular thing but you should not exercise too much because you can over work your body (Zapolsky 401-402).  I did some additional research and found that according to Active Living Research 2007, (http://www.activelivingresearch.org/files/Active_Ed.pdf), academic performance is enhanced when exercise is present.  They compared two groups of students with one group receiving exercise and on one group simply being in class all day.  The group that exercised all had the same or higher scores, with the majority of their scores increasing.  They were higher than the group who did not exercise.  Here is a video of me on youtube putting up huge weights…just kidding it is John Cena, professional wrestler and actor but the video goes through different exercises and how to do them.

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Osama no Longer!!!

Sunday, May 1 , 2011 will absolutely go down as one of the most historical days in the history of the United States.  The news that Osama bin Laden was finally, after ten years, hunted down and killed.  I literally sat for hours and was completely shocked and jubilant at the news.  The man who conducted the biggest terrorist attack against the United States on September 11, 2001 was finally dead.  Instantly I began to replay 9/11 in my head and thought about this as a a flashbulb memory as we have discussed in our class.  I knew right away that May 1, 2011 will no doubt be a flashbulb memory for myself.  I will always remember where I was, who I was with, what I watched on tv.  All the stress Osama had put on the Americans who are afraid to travel or had to buried loved ones who can never be replaced was somewhat avenged.  Yes we are not in the clear, there are still many terrorists out there but this one feels good.  Ahh it was exciting for once to see something positive with so much negativity going on in the world.  It is often cool to see a city united after a sports championship and witness the parade but nothing will ever compare to this.  Not just a city,  not just a town, not just a state, but the ENTIRE country celebrating together.  I still get chills when I think about it.  I am sure I am not the only one who will remember this date as a flashbulb memory.  Where were you guys when you heard the news? Who were you with? What did you do? God Bless America.

Tornadoes!!!

Last Thursday was an eventful day, as we were all enjoying our Psychobiology class when Professor Franssen alerted us that there was a Tornado in the area and campus activities were cancelled.  Myself and the rest of the class all rushed back to our dorms.  The storm got pretty bad pretty quick but fortunately nothing serious happened at Randolph Macon or close by.  However, those down in Alabama and areas surrounding were not as lucky.  Talking to my friend who goes there, she sounded absolutely devastated and said everything was destroyed.  The rest of the school year was cancelled as 80 people died.  Just a terrible, terrible tragedy.  It reminds me of how lucky we were.  Despite this brief scare here, a lot of people got stressed out.  Campus Safety was frantically driving around with their megaphone telling people what to do in order to keep everybody safe.   I personally was not too stressed during the storm but am curious is anybody else was? I cannot imagine the devastation and stress of those in Alabama who have to bury loved ones or rebuild their homes.  Everything inside completely gone forever. It really puts things into perspective.

College Life and Stress

Well, here is a topic that we most certainly all can relate to: stress in college life.  One of the first stressors for many new college students is leaving home for the first time.  Now for some people, they cannot wait to leave but even those often come to realize home is pretty nice.  Many students have never lived away from there family for an extended period of time so homesickness sets in.  For others, they may not miss their family so much as their house.  I realized just how nice my house was when I moves into Starr Hall last year.  It was old and it was filthy.  I did not have my mother their to cook for me, I had to do my laundry and handle my money.  All things that never crossed my mind in high school.  And oh yea, I went from my own big room, to being crammed into a dorm room with my roommate. Not to mention the classes.  Randolph Macon is a demanding place with tough classes. How was I supposed to play soccer, go to class, and have my all important social life on top of all that?

Well, obviously it took a little adjusting and with time management, it has worked out pretty well for me.  This year I knew what to expect and it has been a lot of fun, yet still living in a dorm sucks.  I would not pick anybody else at this school to room with other than my current roommate, yet our hobbies still clash at time.  He sits and yells at his video games while I try to relax.  He stays up until three in the morning, while I try to go to bed at one.  Simple things like wanting to take a nap are sometimes impossible because of what your roommate is doing.  I love being on campus close to everything but having a nearby apartment would be nice.  How many of you experienced stress when you first moved into college?  Here are some tips on how to limit your stress in college, because there is really no way to eliminate it….the scary thing is it is only going to get harder!

Healthy sex life

Sex, it’s one topic that gets just about everyone’s  attention.  Everybody jokes around and says how sex makes everything better, but there may be some truth to that.  On a study done on women and sex revealed that those who had “positive physical contact” with their partner revealed that the stress release was much lower afterwards.  This study looked at their cortisol levels which were much lower.  This is important because cortisol is involved in functions such as insulin release, immune function, regulating blood pressure and more.  Sex causes deep breathing which relaxes the body.  Another study on orgasms revealed that men who had two or more orgasms a week lived longer.  Furthermore, the hormones released during sex are relaxing and can often help with sleep.  And we all know how a good night’s sleep makes us less stressed out.  Also, the touching in sex or a massage are stress relievers in their own ways.  For those of you who get massages, how much better do you feel afterwards?  And let’s not leave out one of the most important ways that sex helps with stress, it releases endorphins which are feel good hormones.  Pretty self explanatory there.  So in conclusion,  a healthy sex life will greatly reduce stress and make you happier.  However, the key word there is HEALTHY.  People need to not get carried away and forget the healthy part, and at this age, we all know what that means.  The information of how a healthy sex life can improve stress is everywhere on the internet.  I learned a lot about this subject that I did not know, and yes I am interested in still finding more.

The Effects of Stress on Sleep

Sleep. We all need it, we all want it.  Most of us do not get enough of it.  Personally I do not get enough sleep.  Everybody knows, the suggested amount of sleep is eight hours.  What many do not know is that eight hours is an average.  So if you have an off night where you only get four hours of sleep, sleeping the next day for 12 hours is okay. You don’t have to feel like a bum.  You are just doing what is healthy for yourself right?  Where does stress come into play in all this? Well, it is a major reason on why certain people cannot sleep.  I know when I have a big test or presentation the next day, I often spend the night rolling around in bed frustrated that I cannot fall asleep no matter how tired I am.  The stress can be overwhelming and studies prove that stress inhibits sleep.  When someone is chronically stressed, their hormone imbalance is thrown off and so to is the regular sleep cycle.  So a good night’s sleep relieves stress but that same stress can cause problems sleeping; that is somewhat of a dilemma isn’t it?  When you sleep good, you are less stressed out the next day.  When I get a good night’s sleep, my day is much better.  I wake up feeling good and productive; my overall mood is much happier.  What about you all? Does anyone else have trouble sleeping? And don’t you feel better the day after a good night of sleep?

Spring Break = Stress Reliever

The time has finally come, it is Spring Break.  We have all earned our much needed break from school and possibly other responsibilities like work.  While I am still stressed out with some work and other things that I personally have to do over this break,  the simple comfort of being at home and being able to sleep in my own bed is a stress reliever.  No Estes or Macon Coffee for a week, no dirty dorm showers, no being woken up by my roommate; it is a nice break.  Sure going on a vacation would be nice, but I personally just like to relax during the limited free time that I have.  While I do still have things to do, my workload is substantially lower and not having to wake up early for class four days a week is an incredible feeling.  The sleep alone is enough to make me feel better.  Plus, to add onto everything, I can sit back and watch the NCAA tournament which is something I have been doing ever since I was a kid.  It is times like these that I think about how good being a college student is.  Sure, the work is intense at times and can be extremely stressful, but the reality is that after school we will be working jobs that do not have Spring Breaks or summers off.  Think about it, not many professions do you get a full three months off in the best time of the year and you are still allowed to come back with no penalty!!!  While soon enough we will be back at school and the stress will inevitably be right there, let’s all sit back, relax and enjoy our Spring Breaks as stress free as possible.

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