Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

How to Become More Adaptive to Negative Outcomes in Life

April 17th, 2017 3 comments

An Unfortunate Event

Sometimes life feels like a progression of unfortunate events. You go and get ice cream and right before you take a bite the cone slips out of your hand, falls and then oozes on the pavement. You go back to the end of the ice cream line and by the time you get to the front they are out of your favorite flavor. It is easy to feel this way when you are having a bad day or if you are incredibly stressed by an overbearing workload. People also tend to feel this way around deadlines especially if nothing is going their way. For example, as a student you may have had a day like this. You walk into class and realize you left your assignment in another notebook. After class you check your phone and see a rejection email from the summer internship you had your heart set on. Just as you are putting your phone away you drop it and the screen cracks. Meanwhile the kid standing next to you asks how your final paper is going. In that moment you realize you wrote the due date incorrectly on your planner. A minute later you get a text from your lab partner (on your shattered phone) saying that tonight is the only night she can meet to work on the final project. It feels as if every possible thing in your life has gone wrong.

Read more…

What’s Outside Your Window?

May 8th, 2016 No comments

By Leah, Lynna, Aiya, & Hannah

It’s room draw time.

What dorm do I want to be in? Do I want a double? Or a suite? Do I want to be close to the library? The dining hall? Where are my friends living?

b8335f7a0be0c4169a4942f618734848Although all of these questions are valid, an important element of room selection often fails to be considered. You may or may not think about it that much, but the view from your window has important effects on you, particularly if you’re a mentally drained and stressed-out college student. You have to look through it every day, and know which direction it faces relative to the sun. You want to have the best view without worrying about strangers peering in. But besides these concerns, the specifics of your window should be at the top of your dorm priority list. Research shows that a view of nature from your window has immense benefits, including improved mood, replenished attention and cognitive functioning, and reduced stress.

One of the dominant theories explaining nature’s positive cognitive benefits is Attention Restoration Theory (ART; Kaplan, 1995). Sustained effortful attention reduces your ability to pay attention. Imagine, for example, the cognitive resources it takes to proofread a long essay, and how exhausted you feel afterwards. You might make more mistakes as time goes on and be in a more negative mood. ART suggests that these cognitive resources can be replenished by engaging with nature (Kaplan, 1995). Proofreading an essay requires effortful sustained focus. Nature is less demanding because it easily draws attention and allows resources for effortful attention to replenish. Read more…

Brain adaptations to stressful childhood environments

November 24th, 2015 No comments

Childhood_AdversityImagine a boy who grew up never knowing where his next meal would come from or when it would come. Now imagine a boy who had everything handed to him.

Who do you predict will have higher cognitive functioning, which consists of processes such as pattern recognition, memory, attention, and language? If you guessed the second boy, you are correct. Childhood adversity has been shown to negatively impact important cognitive functions, such as language development, sustained attention, and memory, which result in poor reading and math abilities, lower IQs and academic achievement (Fernald, Weber, Galasso & Ratsifandrihamanana, 2011). To figure out why this is the case, we must consider an important characteristic of our brains—their plasticity, or ability to change!

So, why is plasticity an important characteristic of our brains? What are the advantages of our cognitive functioning being susceptible to change? Adaptation! Adaptation got Mittal, Griskevicius, Simpson, Sung, and Young (2015) thinking about the universality of the negative impact on cognitive functions that childhood adversity has been shown to have. If the brains of those who grow up in stressful environments can be negatively affected by their experiences shouldn’t that mean that they could also be positively affected? The work of Mittal et al. (2015) tells us the answer!

Read more…

Do You Remember What Happened? The Power of Memory Distortion

May 1st, 2014 2 comments

A memory is an event we remember from our past. We have memories of the first time we rode a bike, the time we graduated high school, our first boyfriend/girlfriend and even memories of where we were on 9/11. We believe that our memories are true recollections of what happened, and that what we remember is accurate. However, this isn’t always true; memories are fallible even under the best conditions. In fact, false memories, implanted memories and misinformation are very likely to distort our memory.

Read more…