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Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Stress and Rubber Band Analogy

By Dr. Valerie A. Bussell

rubber-bandAs a health psychologist I am very interested in how people cope with the various stressors of our very demanding and busy lives. In regards to how we adapt to stress, I often use the analogy of a rubber band.

In my analogy, all people are equipped with various weights and sizes of a single stress absorbing rubber band. Our ability to adapt at any given time depends on the width, length and strength of this band -as a measure of how much load we can bear.

Sometimes, we have great resiliency and our stress rubber bands are thick and long with great elasticity and endurance for all the stressors of life. At other times our rubber bands are thin and fragile and unable to bear much at all.

Using this analogy, the pull or demands on our “stress” rubber band can come from many directions  and our stress endurance would be at what point the rubber band might break from too much stress. The breaking of our band could result in a variety of dis-“ease” – of the mind, the body, and the soul.

External stressors like the demands of our job and relationships are stretching our stress endurance band from one direction while internal pressures like personal ambitions or goals (our “shoulds”) are simultaneously pulling from the other direction. If you have great demands in all directions – the greater likelihood that the band will break and various forms of dis-ease will result.

Now in keeping with this analogy, our stress-enduring rubber bands also have a point that they are at rest – like those rubber bands stored in the kitchen junk drawer. However, unlike the real rubber bands our stress rubber bands are capable of remarkable renewal while at rest.

The usefulness of this analogy is in the importance of self-analyses from time to time to determine the state of our stress-related rubber band while also contemplating the load of stress that we are attempting to bear. Are we attempting to bear more stress than our resources are capable of enduring?

Another benefit of this analogy is to understand the importance of rest and renewal for the state of our stress rubber band and the consequences for our health.

  • What is the current burden of stress in your life? Is it within reasonable limits? What can you do to reduce any extraordinary demands?
  • What is the condition of your rubber band in response to internal and external stress?  Is it approaching its limit and therefore putting you at risk for disease?
  • Are you allowing your rubber band to rest and fortify itself with sleep, worship, and play?

In these busy times, we are demanding much from ourselves while our jobs and relationships are also requiring more and more. In terms of emotional and physical health, it is important that we take stock of our personal resources for stress (the current state of our rubber band) and also take time for valuable rest and renewal.

Exodus 33:14
“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

love is action

By Dr. Reifkohl

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”  John 13:35

Have you demonstrated your love for someone today?  Hearing the words is heartwarming, but it is said that actions speak louder than words.  Receiving demonstrations of love is far more believable than just the words.

Have you ever witnessed someone being bullied? October is National Bullying Prevention Month.  Research has shown that the victims of bullying and the bullies themselves can experience psychiatric problems in childhood that can even extend into adulthood. In some cases, bullying can get so bad that victims choose to take their own lives. Bullying is a serious issue but it can be prevented. It is up to everyone (educators, parents, and the community) to use their strengths and skills to prevent bullying.

www.stopbullying.gov provides a definition, shares warning signs and symptoms as well as specific ways to prevent and to respond. It is everyone’s responsibility to help stop it.

The following is a story about a little boy who wrote a letter to Santa because his sister was being bullied… we can learn a lot from children…

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/dear-santa-n-boy-8-writes-letter-asks-bullied-sister-article-1.1458530

Brain Lady

By Darby Hawley

 

Among my family, friends, and colleagues I am known as The Brain Lady.  This nick name does not bother me at all; in fact, I find it quite honorable, yet humbling.  I remember the day I fell in love with the amazing brain; I was completely captivated.  The brain is a remarkable structure that God has given us that continually has me in awe; it is such a powerful mystery.  At the content-specific level in both of my graduate and undergraduate Physiological Psychology courses, I want my students to understand the bigger picture of psychology–that science does not just reside in the classroom or in the laboratory.  I want my scientific work and passion for the brain to enhance people’s daily experiences and I want my students to see how salient (personal) science really is.  When science becomes personal, students develop a sense of belonging to the scientific community, thereby making course work more interesting and enjoyable.  Through the lens of psychology, contextualizing material about the brain in such ways leads to greater actual integration and recollection.  By demonstrating how relevant science is to our daily lives, it is my hope to motivate my students to develop an appreciation for the strength and power that the brain has over the entire body while making complex subjects understandable.  So if this gives me the title of Brain Lady, I will gladly take it 🙂

Last spring in my graduate physiological course, each student dissected a sheep brain.  The dissection was a great opportunity for students to see all of the structures we learned about throughout the semester.  Students were able to identify and locate where structures were within the brain and in relation to each other.  Not only did this dissection challenge help students to have a hands-on experience in the classroom that would facilitate learning for assessment, but it also helped to make science tangible and personal.

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Romans 12-2

Science, the truth, and the Truth

By Dr. Stephanie Ellis

Recently, Discover Magazine had a blog post titled “’Is Psychology a Science?’ Is the Wrong Question.” (you can read it here: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/) Despite being skeptical about psychology (one of the loves of my heart!), it makes some very good points, chief among them…

“There is no special ‘scientific method’ that sets ‘science’ apart. Different branches of science use different methods to uncover the truth.
Theoretical physics, organic chemistry, and evolutionary biology have nothing in common beyond the fact that they study something. And nor should they.”

But it does something even more remarkable – it begins talking about the search for “truth.” As Christians in higher education, this is a particularly important issue for us. We are in the business of finding and teaching truth, and of understanding it in the light of the Truth of God. The post makes one more point –

“a better question to ask of psychology is: “is it true?” – or rather “how true is it?” Few fields are 100% true or false.”

If you’re familiar with inferential statistics, you’ll know what I mean when I say that truth as we know it is about 95% likely not to be random chance. Rational truth (determining truth through logical argument) starts out simple and clear and progressively gets more convoluted as more data appears, until someone resets the whole mess with a paradigm shift. And empirical truth (learning through experiencing with the senses) is by definition filtered through the nervous system, giving rise to the creepy questions like “Is anything really true, or are we in the Matrix?”

But underneath is the idea that there is a REAL truth about science. There really ARE fundamental laws of physics operating in the universe, even if we have to keep revising how we understand them as we see farther into the universe. There really ARE basic building blocks to life, even if we have to give new names to “new” particles as we dig deeper and uncover them. There really IS something behind the experience of consciousness, even though we have barely a clue what it might be.

The Truth is 100% true and it’s been there all along. It’s not 100% well-translated. It’s not 100% well-understood. It’s certainly not 100% agreed upon by all seekers. We just have to keep using all the methods we can to uncover it, and remember that the Lord is the Author of all that’s true in science, and beyond.

This is the day the Lord has made!

 This is the day that the Lord has made.

By: Dr. Sharon A. Lewis, Associate Professor Reading Education

Yesterday I looked out of the restaurant window and saw the amazing double rainbow. When I tried to take a picture of that double rainbow, I somehow had it on video. Being technology challenged, I didn’t know how to capture just one slide for a picture. So I had to find this one on the internet. That doesn’t change my thoughts though at seeing this amazing sight. The first thought I had was, “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Sometimes we sing these words but don’t really let them sink in. As Dr. Sloan said in Opening Convocation, yesterday is gone and we must put our efforts into today. God has given us this day and we need to rejoice about all the good things it will bring even in (and maybe especially in) times that are challenging. Each and every day is a gift from God.

Think about the technical aspects of a day. It is one rotation of the earth. It has a sunrise and a sunset. It lasts for 24 hours. Oh, what we can do with that time. Romans 1:12 tells us that we encourage each other in faith. Reach out to a friend or classmate and give them a word of encouragement. It is a small effort, but has a huge payoff. You may not see the payoff, but it is there.

Daniel Tomasulo, Ph.D. tells of an incident in his life where he was angry about arrangements that he made for a presentation that got changed at the last minute and threatened to damage the entire presentation. He got into his car and literally screamed at the top of his lungs, because he was so frustrated. He recounts the incident like this:

I drove up to the toll booth and dug into his pocket to pay the toll. The tollbooth

person said, “There is no toll for you today, sir.”

“Don’t start with me,” I said in a huff. “Just take my money, please.”

“The car in front of you paid the toll. He said to tell you it was a random act of

kindness — and to have a nice day.”

“What?”

“It has never happened before. He actually gave me more than what your toll is and told me to apply any leftovers to the car behind you.”

“Really?”

“Really.” (D. Tomasulo, Ask the Therapist blog)

That person wasn’t there to see that his or her actions totally turn around an angry day into one of blessing.

Psalm 81:10 says that God will fill us and all we have to do is receive it and then do something with it. God used this unknown person to fill Dr. Tomasulo and change his day just as He can use you to change someone else’s day. Psalm 118: 24 reminds us that we are to rejoice in what the Lord has done this day. When you do something for someone else, it will come back to you. It may not be right away, but it will happen. You’ve heard the saying, “What goes around, comes around.”

Dr. Tomasulo had another lesson for us. He referred to a study by Dr. Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania. Who, after years of studying depression, came up with an activity called, Three Blessings. ( http://www.buildingpersonalstrength.com/2010/09/dr-martin-seligman-three-blessings.html) The task is simple enough. As your day comes to a close, allow yourself to think about three things that happened during the day that you are most happy about, and why you believe they happened. The outcome from doing this exercise is astonishing. Participants doing this exercise for one week increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms for six months.” (D. Tomasulo, Ask the Therapist blog) Think what could happen if you did it every day.

Our world is often full of bad news. The issues in Syria, the killing of a visiting soccer player, the average American income has gone down $2300 this year, and it goes on. Amid all of that, God is there comforting us and blessing us.

Every day is a chance to do something. You can’t change yesterday and you don’t know what tomorrow holds, but you can rejoice in today. Each day is a gift from God and we want to use it well.

Alexander in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Day, Very Bad Day wanted to run away to Australia. That might seem like an answer, but a better response is to run to God. He will provide and comfort.

I challenge you to count your blessings tonight and to write them down each night for a week. What difference will it make for you? Remember that we can’t change unless we are humble enough to learn. How you view each day is up to you. Have a blessed day!

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