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!

Advertisements

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.

IMG_0502

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…

final-exam-640x17353

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.

Need to Relax???

If you are interested in developing skills to help feel less stressed and more relaxed there is a program beginning soon just for you!

The Relaxation and Stress Management Skills program aims to teach how to calm emotions, settle a busy brain, relax tight muscles, re-energize body and mind and also to perform better in this busy world.

This class you will teach you to:

  • cope better with exams and presentations
  • reduce anxiety and panic attacks
  • decrease headaches, tight muscles and insomnia
  • enhance performance at work, school, sports and in the performing arts.

This is a 6 week, 12 Session program which takes place every Tuesday & Thursday from:

Tuesday, October 15- November 21 at 12:00-1:00 pm.

In Room 335 of the University Centre at the University of Guelph

To register or for additional information please visit: http://www.uoguelph.ca/~ksomers/ or call 519-824-4120 ext. 52262

Midterms Already??

Don’t panic- here are some great ways to manage study time and stay calm during this stressful time.

With midterms quickly approaching, or for some- maybe already here, this time of year can be especially stressful. Having positive study habits and being organized can help students manage and reduce stress, which will help facilitate learning and success.

So, what exactly are positive study habits?

  • Know what works for you. If you are a morning person- study in the morning. If you are an evening/night person- study later in the day.  Learn what environment allows you to study best; is it the library, at your desk or at the kitchen table?
  • Be prepared– set up your study area with everything you will need before beginning. Have pens, pencils, highlighters, and a drink/snack. This will reduce the amount of interruptions and allow better concentration.
  • Do assigned readings before class. Seeing the information more than once will help secure it in your mind.
  • Review notes at the end of each day and again at the end of the week.
  • Study with friends or 
  • join a study group– talking about and explaining the material will allow you to become even more familiar and comfortable with it.
  • Use textbook resources– the end of chapter quizzes are a great way for you to test your knowledge and are there to help you learn.
  • Most importantly- Go To Class!!

If you are looking for more tips and ways to become a better student, the University of Guelph Learning Commons is a great resource.

http:/www.learningcommons.uoguelph.ca/guides/university_learning/

Make sure to check in over the next few weeks, we will be sharing more information about how to become a more successful student by reducing stress- especially test stress.

keep-calm-and-study-on-1910

 

I Can’t Sleep!!….Now What?

A few facts and tips about sleep…

Insomnia is…. when you have a hard time falling asleep, or difficulty falling back to sleep after awakening in the night, or are not getting much energy from your sleep.

 Sleep is a necessary and very important part of daily life. Even though it is so important, many people wake up thinking:

 “That was the worst sleep ever, how I am supposed to have a good day now!?”

 Many different things that are happening in our lives can disrupt our sleep. The most common reasons we are not getting enough quality sleep are:   having a busy brain at bedtime; stress (whether we are conscious of it or not); diet; not enough physical activity; and our health/nutritional status. Sleep researcher, Richard Bootzin has outlined a list of behaviours that will help facilitate restful sleep:

  • avoid caffeine after lunchtime
  • avoid alcohol for 3 hours before bedtime
  • avoid looking at the clock
  • avoid long naps during the day  (if you do nap, it is best to keep them to 10-20 minutes)
  • get up at the same time every day
  • have a bedtime routine
  • use your bed only for sleep  (do homework at a desk; watch T.V. in a different room)
  • if you haven’t fallen asleep after 20-25 mins, get up and do simple tasks that will calm your mind so you can then return to bed and rest.

If all you can think about is crawling back into bed for “just a little bit longer” and would like to learn more about the sleep cycle, bedtime relaxation techniques and how to create good sleep habits to decrease insomnia, the “Better Sleep Program”  begins October 1.

To find out more information visit www.uoguelph.ca/~ksomers or call 519-24-4120 ext. 52662

If only it was this easy for everyone to sleep…..

Image

Mindful Minds

What is mindfulness, and how can it help you?

 If you feel stressed and need a change in order to be more successful and focused, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) could be for you. MBSR is a great way to learn about your body and mind, while reducing the amount of stress in your everyday life. 

Mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as  “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”  This definition is often used as a guideline, noting that mindfulness is a type of meditation that brings your attention to the present moment, your conditioned mental habits/thoughts and intentional ways of being in the world.

Mindfulness can relieve stress through increasing:

  • Attention regulation
  • Body awareness
  • Emotion regulation
  • Sense of self

 The combination of these aspects allows the mind to create a desired sense of overall wellbeing and calm. This form of meditation will help you to ease worrying and increase your resiliency in stressful situations. Taking as little as 10 minutes out of your day to practice mindfulness and meditation can be an effective way to both manage and decrease your stress level.  

 If you are interested in learning more about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, and beginning practice, there are several places in the Guelph area that can provide more information…

Mindfulness Resources in Guelph and Area

In addition to this, there are guided meditations available online.  For example:

  • How to meditate in a moment

  •  And if you have time for a longer mindful meditation, here is one with Jon Kabat-Zinn

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jmG3UFZGNU

Some Mindfulness Apps:

  • www.Mentalworkout.com – Structured 10, 15 or 20-day tutorials, short guided meditation lessons and additional events
  • www.Onemomentmeditation.com – Six guided meditations, tips on staying focused, relaxation exercise, calendar synchronization. Offerings are quick to use, additional information is helpful and lessons are targeted at beginners.

STRESSED is desserts spelled backwards!

Dark chocolate

Do you eat chocolate when you are stressed? 

The good news is that chocolate can be good for you!   Dark chocolate contains antioxidants.  And dark chocolate (not white chocolate) lowers moderate levels of high blood pressure in older people.   Today is International Chocolate Day and its fine to celebrate with a few pieces of dark chocolate

If you tend to get carried away and eat more and more when you’re under stress, it’s a wise idea to break this habit! Emotional eating is a common response to stress. It’s an effort to change the sensations of tension, anxiety, butterflies, and discomfort. Some people mistake the feelings of tension in their stomach for feelings of hunger. And if you’re eating while you are studying or watching TV, you often have no idea how much you have eaten (“mindless eating”).
It is possible to learn self-regulation strategies that don’t involve consuming food to decrease stress sensations. To shift from too much chocolate (and chips and doughnuts and desserts and…) to more effective skills in coping with stress:

  • eat more mindfully (avoid doing other tasks while you’re eating, eat slowly, and savour the food)
  • learn to distinguish between real hunger and false hunger (tension around the stomach)
  • and develop some relaxation strategies that relax the tension in your body and around your stomach.

To help you get started, check out the programs coming up at the Stress Management & High Performance Clinic this fall:

  • Relaxation and Stress Management Skills Training
  • Better Sleep Program
  • Decreasing Headaches (for tension and migraine headaches)
  • Stress Less for Tests
  • Stop Worrying!
  • Diet, Stress, and …. IBS! (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

For more information on these programs visit www.uoguelph.ca/~ksomers.

Yes, you can learn to relax your body, calm your emotions and your stomach!
It just takes practice.