Stress Archive


Pandemic challenges may affect babies — possibly in long-lasting ways

The first three years of life are crucial for brain development. Interactions between babies and their caregivers build neural connections in the brain and lacking sufficient interactions may affect brain development. A study found that babies born during the pandemic scored lower in several areas of development than babies born before it started.

Minimizing successes and magnifying failures? Change your distorted thinking

Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we question our own abilities, minimize our successes, and overemphasize what we perceive to be our failures. When this happens, it's helpful to try to view the situation more clearly and from a more balanced point of view. This takes practice, but the process starts with awareness.

How can mindfulness practices help with migraine?

Many common medication treatments for migraine can cause side effects, underlining the need for more tolerable treatments. Mindfulness practice has been associated with improvement in people with chronic pain, including migraine. A study investigated whether mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques provided benefit for people experiencing migraine.

Making holiday shopping decisions quicker and with less stress

The holiday season often makes people feel stressed out over choosing gifts. Everyone wants to give a gift that the recipient will be excited about, but expectations and the fear of making the wrong choice undermine the thinking process. Can people get better at making decisions? Yes, but it requires accepting that there is no ideal choice, and approaching the process with the proper focus.

Taking control

Uncertainty and feeling less in control, which has occurred for many during the pandemic, can heighten stress. The human brain has more difficulty assessing risk when elements outside its control are introduced. To make the situation more manageable, pare down, simplify what you can to avoid unnecessary decision making, prioritize your mental health, and don’t get stuck in gathering and analyzing information.

Exposure to traffic noise linked to higher dementia risk

A decade or more of high exposure to traffic noise may increase dementia risk.

Take a breather

Most breathing follows a smooth, steady rhythm, but sometimes normal breathing turns erratic. For example, when people are stressed or panicked, breathing gets shallow, making it feel as if it is hard to take in air. When the fight-or-flight response kicks in to confront perceived danger (real or imagined), breathing pace quickens to prepare the heart and muscles for a quick getaway. One way to manage these types of stressful breathing when they occur is to practice breathing exercises designed to help bring in more oxygen and slow the breathing rhythm.

Gifts that promote relaxation and resilience

An array of products that encourage people to relax can be good holiday gifts for friends and loved ones who need to reduce their stress levels. Suggestions include a year’s subscription to a meditation app; yoga props such as a mat, blocks, and straps; devices that enable self-massage of the upper body; and products that may foster sound sleep, such as a weighted blanket, a noise machine, and scented bath salts.

Holiday health hazards

The holidays come with health hazards, such as eating rich food, which can lead to weight gain; drinking too much alcohol and triggering a fast, irregular heartbeat; being stressed, which can weaken the immune system; and being exposed to someone with COVID-19 at a holiday gathering. To stay safe, one should pick only a few days to splurge on holiday foods, and limit quantities; drink only in moderation; ward off stress by exercising regularly, get seven hours of sleep nightly, practice relaxation techniques; and follow the latest guidelines to reduce COVID-19 exposure at holiday gatherings.

Breathing your way to better health

Taking time out of a stressful day to perform simple breathing exercises can reduce chronic stress and prevent the harm it can inflict on the body. Even a few short breathing sessions can make a big difference for many people. Chronic stress, when it goes unchecked, can lead to a host of health problems, including high blood pressure, obesity, anxiety, depression, and reduced immune response.

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