Recently in Stress Category

Support is Bad?

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I can totally understand that there needs to be a balance between invisible and visible support. Sometimes it is important that your partner notices the kind things you do for them, but like the article said, you don't want to go too far and make your partner feel useless. That is why invisible support is needed. I really love doing little things for my boyfriend that I know will make him happy. I also really like doing it secretly, except after awhile, I want him to notice. So, I can definitely relate to John Lutz's problem with subtly and wanting recognition. I don't really think that is a problem that only men have, though I might agree that it is more prominent for them.
I agree that support is not always helpful. But I wouldn't have guessed that being supportive could reduce trust in a relationship or that getting support is often associated as being destructive rather helpful more times than not. That's a sad thought! I found the Great Britain study that showed how perceived support decreased mortality risk while actual support increased mortality risk to be interesting. It is good to know that thinking about your supportive partner can be beneficial, yet depressing that actually getting help from them tends to be harmful. I think it is odd reading about how support either does no good or harms the recipient when I find support to be very comforting, and seek it out in times of stress. With this said, I can understand that advice giving might not be the most effective way of showing support. It could easily come off as offensive or dumbing down the recipient. People are too proud sometimes.
This article seems to oppose the last one we read. The previous one said that when we thought about our partner (our support) we would conserve energy for future tasks (not stress out) and rely on them. It also said that this shows a relationship that is more committed. This week's article says that students who received support prior to a public speech freaked out, and those who didn't receive support were less anxious. I think these two ideas contradict each other. I hope that I am not one of the people causing higher mortality rates because of the support I try to give!

Stress Article Response

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I found the article, Stress and Your Brain, to be very interesting because I could relate to it. My great uncle fought in Vietnam and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which this article goes into great detail about. I only experienced one of my uncle's flash backs in person but I read about many of them in my great aunt's book. The one that I experienced in person was when we were at my cousin's birthday party and my little brother slammed the door to the bathroom really hard as he was running away from my other little brother and my uncle fell to the floor and covered his head and started yelling. I was a lot younger at the time and it wasn't explained to me what he was doing and it wasn't until I actually read my aunt's book that I fully understood what he was doing. Her book is called Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One's PTSD. She goes into depth with stories about my great uncle and how to cope with the disorder as well as how to determine whether or not your loved one actually has the disorder. This article helped to give a little more insight on why this happens at the anatomical level. I was surprised at how common it was!
I am looking forward to the new research on this topic to see what else they can figure out because it seemed like they were really unsure in the article. I'm also curious as to how stress for an exam or running late while in traffic affects the brain if it does at all because they didn't really go into too much detail about minor stress. School work is what stresses me out the most and I would like to know if that has any affect on my health and what I can do to relieve that stress. Usually I complain to someone around me but that causes me more stress because I'm wasting time complaining and less time on the actual work that I have to do.
I plan on keeping up with this research so I can understand how to cope with minor stress more effectively.
This link will take you to a brief summary of what my great aunt's book is about if you're interested. Site


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I found the reading about stress to be relatively relatable, and it contained a few surprising things in it as well. In the article, the author mentioned many times how stress affects your health, and I thought the comparison drawn to pulling an all-nighter before a significant exam. Studying for important tests can be very stressful, especially when it is difficult subject matter. I've done this a few times, and I can agree with the fact that it does mess with one's memory and ability to recall information. I've always been led to believe that this was more from lack of sleep than anything else, but the fact that it's due to stress makes sense as well.
The entire concept of stress being such a huge factor in your health and memory was a bit surprising to me. I guess it led back to previous thoughts of psychology being a 'soft science'. It isn't as though you are ingesting chemicals or doing something else physically damaging to your brain - it seems very odd that stress, which is something completely out of one's control, can have such an impact on your memory and brain.
I can personally relate to the PTSD stories and how they affect people. My grandpa fought in the Vietnam War, and in it he saw some extremely horrific things. He was awarded a bronze star (I believe that was what he was awarded - it's never brought up, so I'm not sure) for his bravery during the war. His group was under fire, and he solely ran to where the ammunition had been dropped, dodged the enemy, and brought all he could carry back to his friends as they were being attacked. He has never talked about the experience, not once, in his life that anyone can remember. My dad has told me stories of when he was younger, and my grandpa would be sleeping on the couch. My dad told me he would never go to wake my grandpa up, because he would sit straight up from a dead sleep and occasionally act out aggressively, before he realized what was going on. He had nightmares for a very long time, and the effects of the war never really left him. He still refuses to talk about it, to this day. Stress and memories can have a huge effect on a person and their life.

The Brain and Stress

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The brain truly is an awe-inspiring thing, like the article by Robert Sapolsky said. It does so much for us, the obvious and conscious things like moving and thinking your way through a math problem and the endless amount of things we do not usually think about. Like how the brain tells our body to breathe when we are asleep or releases hormones when we are scared. It is an awesome creation, but like the article shows, it can be someone's enemy too. I cannot imagine how it would feel to be in combat, much less have to relive it over and over, once back home and safe. This article reminds me of a video I watched about PTSD. It showed a man who had been in a car accident, and though he ended up surviving without much physical damage, he got PTSD. When he heard loud noises or saw bright lights, his heart rate would skyrocket and he would start sweating. It was crazy watching the physical reaction his brain said was necessary to keep him safe, when really there was no danger.
I find it very interesting that the hippocampus may actually shrink due to PTSD and also that they have just recently noticed this connection. Another interesting point is the fact that they do not know whether the hippocampus atrophies after the traumatic experience, or if the patient already had a small hippocampus. Whatever the findings on this end up being could help a lot of people and prevent many from getting PTSD. The article brought up the idea that if a small hippocampus actually does coincide with PTSD that it should be included in the testing before shipping someone off to battle. Is that a legitimate reason to not allow someone to fight for his or her country? Would it be an automatic no, or up to the individual's discretion? Another point that the article mentioned was the fact that stress can help or hinder memory, depending on when the stress sets in. This information can definitely be useful for exam time.

Article for Week of 9/26: Stress


Here is the article about stress for the week of Septemer 26. This is an article by one of the most famous stress and psychology researchers, Robert Sapolsky. It's mainly about how stress--a psychological variable--impacts our brain, an undeniably physical part of ourselves. You'll hear more from Dr. Sapolsky in a video we'll watch in class on how important social relationships are to our experience of stress and its impact on our bodies.

In the mean time, have a good week! And don't get too stressed about the beginning of the semester! And don't forget to post your blog entry about stress by Midnight on Sunday, September 25.



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Hi Everyone! Welcome to the blog for our class! This is where we will share our responses to the articles we read, any questions we have or interesting things we come across out in the world that are relevant to our ongoing discussion. You'll also be able to find the articles for class on this blog (let us know if you have any trouble downloading them!) Remember that this is a place where we need to respect each other's ideas and feel free to be open with each other. And don't forget to comment!

To create your own blog post:

1) go to and login with your UMN x500 and password (login in upper right corner).

2) Click on the downward arrow next to "System Overview" to find the blog for this class. For most of you, it will be the only blog you have in your system (this system allows you to be part of multiple blogs here at the U).

3) Once in the system for OUR blog, click the downward arrow next to the word "create" and select "entry"

4) Write your entry! Don't forget that you can add in links, photos, videos, and files that you want to share. And don't forget to tag your entry with the topic that it's most relevant to.

5) Click the blue "Save" button.

Feel free to email Maryhope ( if you encounter any problems or have any questions.

Happy blogging!

Course Syllabus here:
syllabus_freshsem_2011 revised.doc

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