Stress and Movie Preference

A series of stressful events occurred last week and spilled into my weekend. Because of this I was extremely sad, so I decided to watch a movie. Typically, I thoroughly enjoy romanic films such as The Notebook, Titanic, pretty much any mushy tear-jerker out there. Instead when I was in search of a movie, I instantly looked for either adventure films or comedies. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized that my typical movie preference is completely different than my movie preferences under stress. I wondered why… Obviously the conntection between the comedic films and stress relief made perfect sense when we think of the theraputic benefits of laughter. After a long debate trying to understand why I like adventure films and how they related to stress (and failed google searches); I decided to conclude that it really doesn’t matter about the reason. The most important thing is that, whatever your choice may be, it is WORKING to take that little edge off of you and make you feel better!

After all, isn’t the whole beauty of relieving stress that the things that take the edge off are various and multitudinous?

Does anyone have any “odd” stress relievers that they can’t find a scientific reason as to why it relieves their stress but it just DOES?


A Bitter-Sweet Death

After hearing about the death of Osama bin Laden, I felt as though justice was served. I expected his death to erode memories of pain in people because of the many lives that he took. I also expected a moment of silence to remember those lives that were taken and also to acknowledge somewhat some closure to the pain as justice has been served. However, instead of this I heard of many people who were celebrating his death. Although I understand that he was a villain so to say, and people are relieved that he has paid a penalty for his actions, does that make it right to cheer someone’s death? I remember hearing a radio host laughing hysterically and paying party music over his death.

No matter the person, rejoicing in someone’s death just seems a little barbaric to me, and many people who I have talked to expressed how ashamed they were of some of these reactions. How do you all feel about some of the reactions to his death?

Now don’t get me wrong, I think that it is great that he was brought to justice and paid a penalty for his horrific actions. However, I believe that cheering someone’s death does not bring back all those innocent lives that were lost. It doesn’t take the pain away, and it doesn’t change anything.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said,

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy”

In another blog I read, the lady suggested that “to take joy in the death of someone else cannot provide any sort of healing for anyone”; which is just another perspective on the matter.

What are your thoughts?


Brain Teasers!

This being the end of the semester, I am MORE THAN stressed. I remembered when I was younger I used to turn to guessing brain teasers to relieve my stress. I thought I would share some with you all in hopes that it may take a little of the stress away for just a while.

I will provide a link for answers, but don’t cheat—yet! Take a while and actually think about them! We all know how good the reward of your hard work will feel with the payoff of laughter! 🙂


Stress and Perceived Control

I watched a lovely film that made me think about the benefits of perceived control. Perceived control (when you think/know you are in control of a situation) can help buffer the negative effects of stress. However, this movie portrayed perceived control in a different light: how your perceived control can minimize stress for someone else. The Italian film “Life Is Beautiful” demonstrates this. A Jewish Italian, Guido, and his family (wife Dora, and son Giosué) lived in Italy during World War II. The beginning of the film, which starts out whimsical and comedic, turns into a tragedy when Guido and his family are taken to a concentration camp. In an effort to protect his son from the stressful nature of the camp, Guido convinces his son that the Nazi camp is just a game. He tells his son that if he cries, asks for his mother, or complains about being hungry, he will lose points and the other boys will win and receive the prize of an army tank. Guido’s perceived control in this highly stressful situation (in the midst of death, misery, and sickness) was beneficial to the survival of his son at the camp.

I know for me, that my mother’s control over a situation definitely minimizes my own concern about it.

What do you all think about this?

The Therapeutic Benefits of Creativity

Have you ever realized how creativity, or simply even doing the things you enjoy has the ability to pick your spirit up during times of hardship or sadness?

Creativity comes in many shapes and forms, it could be creating a work of art on paper for some people, doing someone’s hair (for example hair dressers), beating every level in a video game, or even writing, or journaling.

For me, creativity has no limit, and I may even describe it as something that gives someone a sense of pride, accomplishment, or just makes you FEEL good inside. Therefore, in our search for stress relievers, there are endless possibilities.

Before starting this class I thought of stress relievers as ACTIVE measures we take in our lives dedicated to relieveing stress, such as practicing yoga, doing artwork, exercising, or simply sitting down in a quiet space, just to name a few. However, as this class goes on I find myself more apt to pay attention to my stress levels and what I am doing at a particular time that lessens them. I have come to realize the very minute things that actually relieve my stress that don’t typically “jump out” as stress relievers. I thought I would share a few… 🙂

1. Playing Territory War… This is an online game in which you play against other players, and the winner is whoever lives. It may be a little violent in terms of the methods of killing other players, but its the precision in your aim, and the strategies you develop that makes me love this game. I get a little rush of adrenaline when its 1 against 1 and I may lose, it’s exciting. Of course, you win some and you lose some, but at the end of a few games I find myself a lot more relaxed than before.

2. Getting all dolled up… Doing my hair, or doing my nails, or even waking up a little earlier in the mornings to put on a cute outfit and some yummy perfume for the day seems to always lift my spirit. In fact, if I am having a bad day, I make an effort to wake up the next morning and pay a little extra attention to myself and looking “cute”. Not only does it relax me and make me feel good about myself, but it sets the tone for the rest of my day and seems to keep my stress levels down since I’ve started the day on such a good note.

3. Cleaning my room… Yes, I know… Its WEIRD! But strangely if I am having a bad day and on top of that my room is a mess, I find that after I have cleaned everything up, organized my books, done a little vacuuming, and making my bed, I feel a sense of relaxation and calmness. Clearing the clutter out my life, metaphorically and literally always tends to set me in a good mood and relieve some stress.

There are a lot more things that don’t “jump out” as stress relievers, but tend to relax me, or I find myself a lot more relaxed afterwards… Does anyone else have the same experience? What ordinary things relieve your stress?

Let the Child in you RULE!

After hearing about movies like “Patch Adams” and reading about the therapeutic benefits of laughter, it sparked a thought inside me.

I can’t help but feel as though people who are relaxed, have a good sense of humor, and are not extremely serious are going to have lower stress levels than those who are “up tight”, always serious and can’t find humor in anything.

I didn’t watch Patch Adams the movie, but I read about Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams the actual man who incorporated dressing as a clown to bring humor into hospitals. After reading about the benefits of laughter, it is quite understandable why and how that would help patients.

But then I started to think more and thought about a lot of people who are “goofy” but smart, and yet because of their “goofiness” people don’t take them seriously and don’t trust their judgement. Think about senators and congressmen dressed as clowns… Of course no one would take them seriously… But considering that this light hearted way is the best way in dealing with stress, I just found it a little ironic that we would take a goofy YET QUALIFIED person less seriously than a qualified person who was serious, “up tight” and cold. To be honest, I would be more trusting of the serious man with no sense of humor and a cold personality to do my life or death surgery than a Borat personality even if they have identical qualifications. Sad, but true.

Considering the benefits of humor, I hope that things can change…

How do you feel about this? Would you be just as trusting of a silly/goofy person dressed as a clown as you would a serious/humorless person?
patch OR doc

The guy on the left is the actual “Patch Adams” by the way!

“When Kids Get Life”

This is just some food for thought!

I recently had a very stressful debate in one of my classes about whether or not children under 18 should receive the death penalty. It reminded me of a frontline release of When Kids Get Life, which also brought up the argument of whether or not children under 18 should get life sentences.

We all know that adolescence is often characterized by increased independence and a desire for knowledge and exploration, it is also a time when brain changes can result in a myriad of high-risk behaviors, such as extreme sports without protective equipment, unprotected sexual encounters, drug and alcohol addiction, and in extreme cases, even murder. But what a lot of people don’t know is that different parts of the adolescent brain matures at different rates, and that brain development extends at least into a person’s twenties.

I once watched a film called Inside the Teenage Brain, which indicated that adolescents have an immature frontal cortex, which is responsible for their in ability to make good decisions and evaluate and understand consequences and circumstances. This immature frontal cortex, which is going through rapid changes during adolescence, is also responsible for teenage impulsivity, rapid and intense fluctuations in mood and behavior, and their inability to properly identify and understand the emotions of others. They also found that their emotional/gut responses are more activated than adults, and they are unable to organize information from the outside world. Teenagers also experience changes in their cerebellum which is involved with coordination and thinking processes.

Based on the intense and rapid brain development during adolescence, and its effect on cognition and behavior, I do not believe that children (under the age of 18) should be tried and sentenced as adults, as they do not have an adult’s ability to make proper decisions, regulate emotions, assess consequences, and organize their actions, and the information from the outside world. I also believe that sentencing minors as adults and giving them life or even the death sentence deprives them of the chance to demonstrate maturity and reform. The minor should be given the opportunity to achieve maturity of judgment and self-recognition of human worth and potential. In essence I believe that minors should be sentenced as juveniles, and given time fit by the court while allowing brain development to occur and for them to be able to demonstrate this maturity. Compared to adult offenders who have reached optimal brain development, children have a great capacity for change and rehabilitation, and sentencing them as adults ignores the scientific evidence of the reasons behind their offenses, and their ability to become a better person.

However, after my debate a lot of people felt otherwise, and believed that there is nothing wrong with children being sentenced as adults and given life or the death penalty… What do you guys think?

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