Friday, April 20, 2012

Blog Post #12

Create Your Own Blog Post Assignment- Then Do It!

stress chart

So here is my assignment: Write a -NO- Junk Blog Post. This should be a topic of your choice that has been researched and carefully thought out. Research your topic, have it contain more research than opinions, and share what you already knew about the subject and, of course, what you learned.

This assignment came to my attention after reading a blog post from my first C4T Miguel Guglin that I actively follow for his amazing blog posts. In a recent one he said something that sparked an idea for my #12 assignment. He was discussing the purpose of a PLN,  "the majority of my PLN isn't about responding to questions I ask, leaving comments, etc. Rather, for them, it's about tagging along on a journey and hopefully learning something...they figure that if I'm writing about it, it's pretty well developed, whether it's a junk blog entry (no research) or something else."

For my assignment I have chosen to focus on the topic of stress and its effects. As the semester draws to a close, many of us experience a wave of intense demands as we "rush to the finish line." I deal with this unnerving dilemma personally and although each semester I am learning to handle it a little better, I still suffer from irritating symptoms such as teeth grinding, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and continual restlessness/anxiousness. During my studies I have learned to develop my study skills to fit my personal learning style better and the more I learn about a subject the less stressed I am about upcoming assessments and tasks.So here is my assignment.
  • Learn about stress and its effects. 
  • Find ways to alleviate stress in your life 
  • Discover methods of how to handle it when it is impossible to avoid. 
Stress, we all deal with it from time to time, but what is it really? How can we catch its causes and counter its effects before we are consumed with fear and dread? Well, I believe that if we develop a better understanding of the subject we can fight it off before it takes over!

Stress is the body's natural response to dealing with pressures and challenges. It is an evolutionary response that increases the body's awareness of possible dangerous events and threats. Now, we no longer are in danger of being eaten by a saber-tooth tiger, but adults and children alike have pressures and challenges to face daily. Some are better prepared to cope with the demands that we are faced to confront while others are less skilled in this area. When faced with large responsibilities that we are not prepared for or events that are too heavy to face alone our bodies respond by increasing heart rate and blood flow to help decision making ability, sending the body into a "fight or flight" reaction. This process is natural and even healthy when experienced in moderation, but is a health risk when continually stimulated.

When the body has been injured, such as a shark attack or a car wreck, the body responds by activating the hypothalamus to produce adrenalin and cortisol which allows for:
  •  increased blood flow to the brain to aid in decision making
  • increased insulin production for a "burst" of energy
  • increased blood flow to large muscles and away from visceral organs
  • increased ability of clotting in the blood
These responses when placed in a life or death situation can mean the difference in whether you live or die. However, a person dealing with "simple" stresses, such as, financial demands, getting stuck in traffic or lost while driving, keeping up with school work and work related responsibilities or dealing with divorce or death can cause the body to be continually bombarded by the "fight or flight" reaction.
This causes serious results that may be life threatening, like:
The Effects of Stress
  • heart attack
  • hypertension
  • stroke
  • ulcers
  • weakened immune system
That is why it is vital that we take steps to avoid stressful situations and learn ways to respond that can lessen their recurrence. There are many things we can do for ourselves to counter act stress levels from rising out of control when we understand and are on the look out for some of the symptoms. Here are a few:
  •  teeth grinding, jaw clenching, headaches
  •  stuttering, trembling, muscle spasms
  • faintness, ringing of the ears
  • rashes, unexplained allergy attacks
  • stomach problems, pain, heartburn, nausea
  • panic attacks, chest pain/palpitations
  • frequent urination, anxiety
  • depression, mood swings
  • changes in appetite
  • insomnia, difficulty concentrating
The list  goes on and on. I knew that stress effects the body in a number of ways but I was surprised to learn the extremity of symptoms. The one that surprised me the most was unexplained allergy attacks. I have recently experienced this myself and was not aware the two were connected. It does make sense to me now though. Stress can greatly weaken the immune system and this is a direct result of that occurrence for me personally. For a complete list from the American Institute of Stress Click Here

Now that we know more about stress and its symptoms, let's look at ways to avoid it.
Psychologists spend a tremendous amount of time and effort on studying stress and helpful measures to avoid it. Here are some things we can do when we become overwhelmed with stressful situations:
  • set realistic goals
  • don't over schedule
  • get enough sleep
  • allow time for relaxing when things are hectic
  • get regular exercise
  • practice optimistic thinking and attitude
  • start small and work up to larger tasks/problems
  • nurture a strong support system, ask for help
To offset the effects of stress I find it helpful to separate myself from the source of my stress for a brief time and find a quiet place to reflect on my options and goals. This helps me to refocus on what is important and what can wait. With all the preparations for final exams in full swing it is easy to lose track of a vision of the finish line. If you can sneak away for even 30 mins and perhaps soak in a bubble bath to clear your mind and envision what you want your future to look like then back track to what has to happen here and now to make that a reality. This helps me to find that second wind that I need to continue giving my best so that all my hard work thus far will not be in vain. 

When dealing with stress we must acknowledge that whatever it is we are dealing with will not last forever. As we face more and more challenges we discover we are stronger than we first realized and hopefully can also see that a little stress motivation can help "push" us to reaching our goals. The most important thing to keep in mind is a positive attitude will make all the difference.

Finish line ahead sign

Make your own Stress Prevention Plan
Learn more about stress by visiting the American Institute of Stress website


  1. I really like the blog post because I can relate to it so easily. I know how sever the symptoms of being over stressed can get and its awful. Many of the tips you have posted are the ones that I follow myself. I have learned to recognizes the signs of tension in the muscles of my shoulders that triggers my migraines. If I feel such tension coming on then I stop and make myself take time to relax. That's really key, learning to spot the signs and taking steps to ease the stress.

  2. Hello Erica,

    I think your blog post was very informative. I think no junk blog post could be a good idea but, I don't think that it is applicable in this class because everything we did was informative, creative and fun. I personally would have preferred an assignment aiming more towards education since EDM310 is a course for education majors. I believe it is very important to manage our stress levels, however, at times it can be very hard to do. This would have been an excellent subject for a medical course.