From Hallmark cards to ballads of passion, the heart has intimately been connected to love, affection, and romance for much of our human existence. How cardiac function and emotion first became associated is a fair question and the answer lies in our response to stress. So what happens to those feelings when we find ourselves in a constant state of stress and social proximity is a health hazard? If the complex physiology of being in love is closely related to being stressed out, could simplifying that understanding be the key to maintaining our personal and social stability? Understanding the Anatomy of Our Emotions We often mistakenly think of our brains as purely rational organs of cortical and higher functions. In fact, significant areas in our brains are not governed by linear processes often ascribed to cortical function, but rather, they operate in a more ambiguous manner driven by exchanges of hormones and neurotransmitters that can evoke emotions like fear , … [Read more...] about Is It COVID Stress or Is It Love?
Twenty one pilots stressed out
Source: Photo by Liz Fitch on Unsplash This post was co-authored by David Szwedo and Kristen Allen, a senior at James Madison University. Parents often have high hopes for how their children will turn out in adulthood, such as wanting them to be healthy, to feel satisfied with their career , and to have satisfying romantic relationships and strong friendships. But what factors help produce these outcomes as teens transition from adolescence to adulthood? Recent research suggests that a teen’s affect – especially positive affect – is one critical factor. What exactly is affect? Affect is the tendency to express positive or negative emotions, which in turn influences how we experience things and determine whether to judge a given situation as positive or negative. Affective responses to events typically happen automatically. Moreover, research suggests that a person’s affect is relatively stable over time, especially by the time one reaches adulthood. Affect is … [Read more...] about The Positive Effects of a Positive Affect
How to achieve calm in a state of panic. Source: Zoffness In the face of COVID-19, we’re seeing a viral spread of anxiety contagion . Panic is as contagious as any pathogen and is dangerous in its own right. Research shows that when we see people panicking – buying up all available water, for example – our brains respond with a similar anxiety spike. We’re built that way because it can be adaptive in certain situations. But it can also be maladaptive . Sustained anxiety is literally bad for your health: The more you panic, the less functional your immune system becomes. The science of anxiety is this: in the face of a real or perceived emergency, your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) kicks on, triggering the release of a stress hormone called cortisol . Over time, cortisol suppresses your immune system, causing a decrease in white blood cells – the cells that help you fight off viruses — putting you at greater risk of infection. The more you panic, the less able … [Read more...] about Anxiety Contagion: Tips for Relief
Source: Virtues for Life, used with permission Let me begin with a question: Could the COVID-19 crisis be seen as a personal growth opportunity? At first blush, you would probably say, “Absolutely no way!” The current pandemic has created crises of health and financial markets that are disrupting the lives of almost everyone on our planet. People the world over are getting sick and dying, global economies are facing a recession, and the financial futures of many people are at risk. COVID-19 has taken a world that, for many people, was safe and secure, and forced us to confront a new world that is ever-changing, unfamiliar, unpredictable, uncertain, ambiguous, uncomfortable, and uncontrollable. It elicits a wide range of unpleasant emotions including fear , worry, doubt, frustration, and anger . COVID-19 unsettles our confidence in ourselves, our communities, our governments, and the many institutions that we have taken for granted and relied on in the past. … [Read more...] about 7 Ways to Use the Current Crisis for Personal Growth
PTSD Source: CANVA Pro Every one of us lives now in the shadow of trauma . Uncertainty, stress , and fear are high, even for those who don't get sick. The threat of losing financial stability, health, or loved ones stalks all of us. The next pandemic is a mental health one A critical goal for public planners and mental health professionals in this time must be to enable as many people as possible to pass through inescapable trauma without developing post-traumatic stress disorder . It's hard to cope with trauma, but far worse is to live with a long-lasting, highly debilitating PTSD . We can't prevent PTSD. But there's a lot we can do to weave webs of sustainability for individuals and communities that will greatly reduce the likelihood of widespread PTSD. We should start with two key premises: Everyone is exposed to trauma, but not everyone will be traumatized; Individuals and communities can expand their ability to endure trauma by … [Read more...] about Preventing PTSD in COVID-19 Era