The Downfall of Distraction & Multitasking

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Does this look like a familiar classroom scene? 

Researchers at York and McMasterUniversities found surprising information when it comes to laptop use in class and how it distracts not only you, but everyone else around you.

Multitasking is everywhere in our busy lives. We feel that without it we wouldn’t be able to get nearly as much accomplished, but many people fail to realize that it has negative consequences on task performance. When we are dividing our attention between two or more tasks, the incoming information we must process isn’t properly stored. (Sana, Weston and Cepeda, 2013) This applies to multitasking during lectures. If we are distracted by our own, and others’, computer screens it decreases our ability to store the information being presented to us.

The study Laptop Multitasking Hinders Class Learning for Both Uses and Nearby Peers (Sana, Weston & Cepeda, 2013) looked at whether multitasking on a laptop during class would negatively affect individual learning, and also if being in view of someone multitasking would have an effect.  The results showed that students had lower comprehension of course material when they spent time multitasking during class. What is surprising though, is that students with a direct view of others multitasking on laptops had their comprehension even more negatively affected than those actually multitasking. Although those students were trying to learn, viewing their peers’ multitasking behaviour put them at a disadvantage.

Knowing these results, is it up to Universities to have more strict policies regarding laptop use during class time, or is it up to students to take responsibility for their own learning?

If you would like to read the full study, it can be found at http://www.sciencedirect.com.subzero.lib.uoguelph.ca/science/article/pii/S0360131512002254#

Sana, F., Weston, T., & Cepeda, N. (2013) Laptop multitasking hinders class learning for both uses and nearby peers. Computers & Education. 62. 24-31. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com.subzero.lib.uoguelph.ca/science/article/pii/S0360131512002254#

Scrooge Who? Make the Holidays a Stress Free Time Of Year

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(https://www.whatnext.com/system/images/)

Okay, so maybe you aren’t quite as excited for Christmas as Buddy the Elf here, maybe you are completely the opposite. This is very understandable since the holiday season can be a stressful time of year.

The Mayo Clinic website has some great information about ways to ensure you have an enjoyable and less stressful holiday season.

  1. Reach out– the holidays can be a very lonely and isolating time for some. Something great about this time of year is that there are so many volunteer opportunities.  Taking advantage of these may help you feel less lonely. Volunteering can help you feel good by helping people in need and also allow you to be around others.
  2. Set a budget– the holidays can be a stressful time for those who cannot afford to spend extra money on gifts. Making a budget is a good way to identify how much you will be able to spend.
  3. Keep your regular routine– During times of celebration it can be easy to overindulge and When you are
  4. Learn to say NO– do not add more stress to your life by taking on extra responsibilities.  You are not responsible for making it a perfect holiday for everyone.  Be realistic – there may not be time to do everything you think you should, so think about what you cherish most about the holidays, and focus on attaining that.
  5. Plan ahead– Planning specific days to buy gifts, groceries and prepare meals can help with organization and prevent last minute errands.

To read the article in entirety and for additional tips visit http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/MH00030.

One last idea….. DIY gifts are a great way to decrease stress regarding gifts and money. There are many websites that have great Do It Yourself ideas for gifts for your loved ones. These gifts are more thoughtful, original and help you easily stay within your budget.

If the holiday season so far has been more stressful than enjoyable, try implementing some of these strategies.

To Cram…Or Not To Cram??

Now that the last day of classes is upon us, many students are getting into final exam study mode. This can often be a stressful time of year because students tend to have less sleep, do not eat properly and dedicate most of their days to studying constantly. Many students feel that in order to learn as much information as possible it is a good idea to stay up “cramming” the night before an exam. If this sounds like something you might do, take some time to read the info gram posted below. You might be surprised what research has to say about cramming.

The Science of Study
Source: Best Education Degrees

Now you know more about  how our brain learns new information, and also how poor study methods can have a negative impact on grades…  what tips will you use to improve your own study methods?

Use these ideas to create positive study habits that decrease stress and improve the results of your exam!

Why Studying Shouldn’t Be Stressful

Stress affects learning and studying!

We know that stress is harmful to many aspects of our life, especially our health. Unfortunately many students don’t realize just how much stress affects how we learn and retain information.

A Mixed Blessing for Memory: Stress and the Brain, shares great information about how our brain responds to stress, why stress is harms our brains and how stress affects studying. Even though stress can be beneficial to our minds in some cases, long term, chronic stress is harmful. The take away message from this post is that decreasing stress through meditation, deep breathing, spending time with family and friends will help to reduce stress. If you would like to read the post in entirety click on this link http://brainconnection.positscience.com/a-mixed-blessing-for-memory-stress-and-the-brain/

Exam time is quickly approaching, with this in mind you may want to consider attending Stress Less for Tests. This is a program with sessions on Tuesday, November 19th and Thursday, November 21st from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in the University Centre at the University of Guelph. This program will teach practical strategies to reduce exam anxiety to increase positive results.

For more information about this program please visit http://www.uoguelph.ca/~ksomers/stressless.html

It is important to take time out of your day to include stress reduction strategies to optimize learning and improve grades!

In case you missed it….

International Stress Awareness Day was last Wednesday!

This was a day to spread awareness and knowledge about stress. This is the display that was set up in the University Centre, it outlined facts about stress and strategies to decrease the amount of stress in your life.

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Here are some recommendations for stress reduction:

  • Manage time effectively
  • Don’t take on too many commitments
  • Take time out to relax and recharge
  • Think positively
  • Avoid using alcohol, drugs and caffeine to cope
  • Eat regularly and nutritiously
  • At least 20 minutes of daily physical activity
  • Laughter
  • Listen to music you enjoy

The free presentation “Diet, Stress and IBS” was a great success and provided a great deal of useful information.  Here is a sample of the information that was presented.

Strategies to relax the GI tract:

  • Breathing from the diaphragm
  • Progressive muscle relaxation in the abdomen, lower back and hips
  • Walking regularly
  • Learn to be assertive- get comfortable saying “NO” and don’t take on too many commitments

For good GI Function:

  • Eat regularly- every 3-4 hours
  • Eat nutritiously and drink enough water
  • Avoid too much or too little fibre
  • Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
  • Establish a regular routine for eating, exercise and sleeping
  • Reduce stress

Don’t Worry…Be Happy

Everyone worries –  worrying can help us create new ways to solve problems, but we need to learn when enough is enough and how to stop worrying when it becomes overwhelming.

5 Pitfalls that encourage worrying are:

  • Overestimating how bad a situation will be, thinking unrealistically.
  • Feeling a sense of urgency. Many problems do not have to be solved immediately- they can be dealt with in the future
  • Underestimating your strengths and abilities
  • Over-thinking problems without doing any actions to improve the situation
  • Uncertainty about the future

Strategies to STOP worry:

  • Challenge your thoughts in a realistic way.
  • Set a specific time during the day as “worry time”.
  • 2 minute limit – if you are not solving your worry within two minutes, stop and do something different for now
  • Practice coping with uncertainty by stepping out of your comfort zone in a healthy way daily.

Sometimes the most effective way to stop worry from creeping into our lives in an overwhelming way is to  write down  1) what you’re worrying about, 2) how you can effectively deal with it, and 3) if it is unavoidable, how you can cope.

If you’d like to learn more, check out the Stop Worrying workshop next Wednesday night.

Worry DOESN’T have to take over your thoughts!

It’s time to tackle test anxiety!

If you feel sick, anxious and panicked when there are exams coming up, don’t worry! Here are some tips to help relax and get better results!

For many people, writing a test or completing any kind of assessment can be really stressful.  For some people it becomes overwhelming and even causes poor performance. When you experience this type of test anxiety it can have an impact on physical, emotional, behavioural and cognitive aspects of life. Fortunately there are ways to reduce the strength of test anxiety:

  • Start preparing well in advance of the test   –  cramming increases stress.
  • Try study sessions of about 1 hour with 10 min. breaks in between.  Stand and stretch every 20 minutes in the study session.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before a test
  • Eat healthy foods and avoid increasing use of caffeine.  For the most energy and best brain function, eat some protein and carbohydrates every 3 – 4 hours.
  • Exercise regularly.  Move your body at each study break to raise energy levels.
  • Have confidence in yourself and avoid negative thoughts – use POSITIVE self talk.
  • On your way to the test, remind yourself that you have learned a lot, rather than focusing on items that you don’t know.
  • Know the location, time, what to expect on the test
  • Practice deep breathing from your diaphragm at a slower pace

Way back in February we posted some facts about Cramming, and why it doesn’t work! Here it is once again as a refresher…

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the link for this info graphic is http://dailyinfographic.com/cramming-for-your-exam-infographic

It is important to understand that you are not alone in feeling this way, it happens to many people. Using these strategies will help you feel more prepared in your ability to do well on a test.