Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Consciousness, Learning, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: I had the pleasure a few weeks back of taking in a show by a young blues musician named Jontavious Willis. He is quite something, mentored by Keb’ Mo’ and Taj Mahal, he will be a big part of the future of blues music. Anyway, I was thinking of one of his songs called The World is in a Tangle (no NOT the Fleetwood Mac tune of a similar name, ). In the song he suggested that he is going to move to foreign land to get away from the tangle that is the world around him. It’s a good song but what it got me thinking about is that being able to get away from our daily stresses is vital to our well-being and while we cannot really move to another country (even IF there was one that is less stressful) we DO get away everyday for a bit by sleeping. That is a bit part of why sleep disturbances are, well, so disturbing to our wellbeing, as they steal our escape – our daily opportunity to destress. Lose sleep regularly and the loss of that daily escape and the restorative role it plays in our life and wellbeing is also threatened or lost. What to do? Well sometimes rather than going on a big life renovation kick it is more effective to just pay a bit of attention to the habits we have fallen into. So, what ARE your sleep habits? How to you prepare to go to bed and to sleep each night? How consistent are you? How close (literally and in terms of use) are your screens to your bedside and bedtime? If you have not thought about t5hse questions well maybe you do not need to but regardless a sleep-preparation audit but just reading and thinking about the article linked below can’t hurt and you might find some of its tips and suggestions VERY helpful and Stress-escape supporting.

Source: Improve Your Bedtime Routine With These Five Luxurious Tips, Kate Carraway, Self-Care, The New York Times.

Date: October 15, 2019

Photo Credit: Julietta Borda for the The New York Times

Article Link:

So? Was there anything there you can use? When the world is in a tangle it is rather important to be aware of and to attend to some of the simply habits and routines that can guard or regular and necessary stress escape that is sleep. And, the nice thing about simple habits is that once you have them established they often help without requiring a whole lot of reflection or attention and are much more cost-effective than moving to another country!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What were one or two things suggested in the article that you already do or that you think you could use and benefit from?
  2. Why might the things you noted above work? What might they do for you Psychologically?
  3. What are some other habits we might want to consider developing to help us cope with the stresses of life these days and why are simple habits so helpful (or so NOT helpful) for us?

References (Read Further):

Lai, H. L., & Good, M. (2005). Music improves sleep quality in older adults. Journal of advanced nursing, 49(3), 234-244.

Coren, S. (1994). The prevalence of self-reported sleep disturbances in young adults. International Journal of Neuroscience, 79(1-2), 67-73.

Thomée, S., Härenstam, A., & Hagberg, M. (2011). Mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults-a prospective cohort study. BMC public health, 11(1), 66.

Milojevich, H. M., & Lukowski, A. F. (2016). Sleep and mental health in undergraduate students with generally healthy sleep habits. PloS one, 11(6), e0156372.

LeBourgeois, M. K., Hale, L., Chang, A. M., Akacem, L. D., Montgomery-Downs, H. E., & Buxton, O. M. (2017). Digital media and sleep in childhood and adolescence. Pediatrics, 140(Supplement 2), S92-S96.,5&as_ylo=2015&scillfp=1980851307990689949&oi=lle

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Language Development, Language-Thought, Learning, Neuroscience, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth.

Description: Malcom Gladwell, in various places writes and speaks about how in  many areas of life but particularly in areas relating to health and wellbeing we have or are experiencing a shift in the task of figuring out how to make our lives and those of people around us better (healthier, longer, richer etc.). What Malcom points out it that while the tasks not many years ago typically involved puzzles which simply required attention and time/resources to fix today more of what we are contending with involve mysteries, which is a poetic way to say that the problems we contend with are more complicated these days and often require less obvious or simple resource solvable strategies. An example? Well, for years we have quite wisely held that it is important to screen infants and young children for all manner of developmental issues or challenges and why? Well because early detection can often lead to significant remediation. Take hearing. Infants with very poor hearing (as opposed to early autism), if not identified until later in childhood are uyp against the fact that the areas of their brains that would normally become dedicated to the processing of sound do not develop making it much more difficult if not impossible for them to do so if the child’s hearing deficit is not identified until they enter school. What to do, well, screen for severe hearing deficits in infancy, proscribe hearing aides to those who need them, and brain specialization proceeds as is typical – puzzle solved. But what about children with mild to moderate haring deficits?  Well read the article liked below to see how the puzzle of early hearing deficits morphs into more of a mystery when less that profound deficits are considered.

Source: Mild-to-moderate hearing loss in children leads to changes in how the brain processes sound, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: October 1, 2019

Photo Credit: and Getty Images

Article Link:

Notice that the solution to the issue of mild to moderate hearing deficits in early childhood (test for them) runs up against the fact that we are really not sure how to do that efficiently and effectively – a puzzle becomes a mystery. And while we are trying to figure that out we have a lot of children with mild to moderate hearing issues whose poorer than average language development and academic performance are being attributed to all sorts of other things and sorting all THAT out is indeed a mysterious challenge!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of issues arise in childhood for children with mild to moderate hearing deficits?
  2. What should we do about this?
  3. What should we do about those children who’s mild to moderate hearing deficits may still be undiagnosed in their elementary school years?

References (Read Further):

Calcus, A., Tuomainen, O., Campos, A., Rosen, S., & Halliday, L. F. (2019). Functional brain alterations following mild-to-moderate sensorineural hearing loss in children. eLife, 8, e46965.

Sokol, J., & Hyde, M. (2002). Hearing screening. Pediatrics in Review, 23(5), 155-162.

Harlor, A. D. B., & Bower, C. (2009). Hearing assessment in infants and children: recommendations beyond neonatal screening. Pediatrics, 124(4), 1252-1263.,5&scillfp=5148455328883286077&oi=lle

Galenson, E., Miller, R., Kaplan, E., & Rothstein, A. (1979). Assessment of development in the deaf child. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 18(1), 128-142.

Cristobal, R., & Oghalai, J. S. (2008). Hearing loss in children with very low birth weight: current review of epidemiology and pathophysiology. Archives of Disease in Childhood-Fetal and Neonatal Edition, 93(6), F462-F468.


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Psychology, Depression, General Psychology, Health Psychology, mental illness, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Stress, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: Stress is related to depression somehow, right? But just how ARE they related? And How does anxiety play into this? Think about what you might know about how these things are related and not just correlationally (as in, more stressed people get depressed than do non-stressed people) but at the neurological level. Once you have your thoughts on that sorted out think about what the 10 simple words that can help, mentioned in the article title might be and then read the article linked below to find out.

Source: The link between stress and depression … and the 10 simple words that could help, Dean Burnett, In Mind: Focus on Mental Health, Neuroscience, The Guardian.

Date: October 13, 2019

Photo Credits: Brain Stress, Jamie Cullen, the Guardian

Article Links:

We are getting a clearer and clearer picture of the systemic nature of the human stress response. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis that initiates and drives out stress response floods our system with cortisol and glucocorticosteroids. Over time the flood of stress hormones can start to reduce our brain plasticity at the neuronal level and that can lead to many of the symptoms associated with depression as well as anxiety. So what to do? Well it may be simple, though not easy … “Face your fears. Be more active. Watch what you drink.” Worth a shot as good place to start!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does it mean to talk about stress as a systemic response to life events?
  2. How are stress and depression related?
  3. What do the 10 simple words suggest we do and what would that do for us in relation to our stress response and depression?

References (Read Further):

Pariante, C. M., & Lightman, S. L. (2008). The HPA axis in major depression: classical theories and new developments. Trends in neurosciences, 31(9), 464-468.,%20Trends%20Neurosci%2031,%202008.pdf

Johnson-Laird, P. N. (2010). Mental models and human reasoning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(43), 18243-18250.,5&scillfp=6366405593367046915&oi=lle

The Stress Cycle Reaction, Melissa Samartano, PsycCentral,

Stress Control, Jim White,

Wingenfeld, K., & Wolf, O. T. (2011). HPA axis alterations in mental disorders: impact on memory and its relevance for therapeutic interventions. CNS neuroscience & therapeutics, 17(6), 714-722.,5&scillfp=545229739555029362&oi=lle

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Neuroscience.

Description: Start by watching the amazing video linked below. It is of a sleeping octopus and the twitches and dramatic color changes it is displaying seem to suggest that it is dreaming. But, before you start speculating as to what the octopus is dreaming about, consider this question. Do we know enough about octopi brains to know that they dream in any way that is similar to how we dream? And what about other animals (like Bizkit the sleeping dream running dog for example)? After you have pondered those questions for a moment have a read through the article linked below to see what researchers who study octopi have to say.

Source: Was Heidi the Octopus Really Dreaming? Elizabeth Preston, The New York Times.

Date: October 8, 2019

Photo Credit: Nature, PBS,

Article Links:

So, the article is NOT saying the octopus is not dreaming but what it is saying is that we are not sure that we know enough about how the brains of octopi are organized and how they function to say for sure one way or another. Even when we are aware of the importance of not making anthropometric attributions (assuming that other species do things like dream as we do) it is hard to stop ourselves from the jumping from the observation that the octopus is sleeping and twitching and changing colors to the conclusion that it must be dreaming. So, once again, more research is needed but it IS a cool video to watch either way!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is anthropomorphism?
  2. IF the octopus IS dreaming, what might the purpose of the dreaming state be for the octopus?
  3. What evidence do researchers look for when they are investigating whether another species like birds, for example, might be dreaming while they are asleep?

References (Read Further):

Low, P. S., Shank, S. S., Sejnowski, T. J., & Margoliash, D. (2008). Mammalian-like features of sleep structure in zebra finches. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(26), 9081-9086.,5&scillfp=16197991748311732752&oi=lle

Dave, A. S., & Margoliash, D. (2000). Song replay during sleep and computational rules for sensorimotor vocal learning. Science, 290(5492), 812-816.

Iglesias, T. L., Boal, J. G., Frank, M. G., Zeil, J., & Hanlon, R. T. (2019). Cyclic nature of the REM sleep-like state in the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis. Journal of Experimental Biology, 222(1), jeb174862.,5&scillfp=3116931802411406788&oi=lle

Bizkit the sleep running dog

Pace-Schott, E. F. (2005). The neurobiology of dreaming. Principles and practice of sleep medicine, 5, 563-75.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Memory, Neuroscience.

Description: What sorts of things does your brain do (or not do) that worry you? Forget where your keys are at? Cannot find the word you think you need? Forget an upcoming event? And, when you worry what is it you are worrying about? Imperfection? Lack of planning? Or, worse, mental deterioration? Well those are all things to be concerned about to a degree, but might there be some advantages in imperfection, in mental errors, in being imperfect? Or, is the ultimate triumph of AI and machines (Terminator movies etc.) human-kind’s ultimate fate? Think about some ways in which imperfection in our mental processes might be a good thing and then read the article linked below to see a neuroscientists perspective on these questions.

Source: Cherish your imperfect brain, Henning Beck, Scatterbrain, Psychology Today.

Date: August 26, 2019

Photo Credits: YouTube and Greystone Books

Article Links:

So, if brain function imperfection has actually been given evolutionary advantage then perhaps, we should consider what the advantages of such imperfections might be. Certainly, creativity and insights into possibilities that can arise while we are day-dreaming are not to be tossed out with the bathwater of mental “lapses.” I thin k the closing line of the article is worth serious reflection: “Maybe this is the core idea of what Konrad Zuse, the German inventor of the first programmable computer, meant when he said a couple of decades ago: “The danger that computers will become like humans is not as great as the danger that humans will become like computers.”

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things that happen to people (to you) that are likely to be attributed to brain malfunctions?
  2. What are some of the ways that the sorts of ‘malfunctions’ you noted above might actually be advatages?
  3. Is ‘creativity’ an optional cognitive add on to our general functioning is are there ways in which it is a core part of our ongoing adaptivity?

References (Read Further):

Beck, Henning (2019) Scatterbrain: How the Mind’s Mistakes Make Humans Creative, Innovative, and Successful, Greystone Books.

Mooneyham, B. W., & Schooler, J. W. (2013). The costs and benefits of mind-wandering: a review. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie expérimentale, 67(1), 11.

Baird, B., Smallwood, J., Mrazek, M. D., Kam, J. W., Franklin, M. S., & Schooler, J. W. (2012). Inspired by distraction: Mind wandering facilitates creative incubation. Psychological science, 23(10), 1117-1122.

Lebuda, I., Zabelina, D. L., & Karwowski, M. (2016). Mind full of ideas: A meta-analysis of the mindfulness–creativity link. Personality and Individual Differences, 93, 22-26.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Health Psychology, Indigenous Psychology, Intergroup Relations, Psychological Disorders, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: In previous posts I have directed attention towards a couple of aspects of a perceived need for those interested in Psychology (well, everyone actually) to reflect up and act towards the indigenization of the discipline of, and the doing or, Psychology. Figuring out what this means and figuring out how to act in theory and in practice in relation to and in engagement with First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples and populations is going to be an ongoing task and I will be coming back to it from time to time in this blog. In this post I want you draw upon what you may have gained through your engagement with my previous posts in this area (links are listed below in the References section) and consider the question of how Psychology should approach the research and conceptual challenges of understanding the impact of historical trauma on health outcomes in indigenous populations. Western Psychology is clear about the potential impacts of personal trauma in individual development, mental health and wellness but not very clear at all about how to properly understand the role of historical trauma in health outcomes due to the complexity of trying to track complex causal connections across decades and across multiple generations. Culturally and historically grounded issues, as I have discussed previously, are, for Western Psychology, not just hard and complicated but perhaps are non-sensical given how the discipline is organized. So, what to do? Well, the article linked below describes an attempt to systematically review Psychological research into the question of the how historical trauma impacts the health outcomes of current indigenous peoples and what it has to say is actually more instructive for what it declares it cannot say than for what it suggests it can say about the reviewed research on this question. If you read nothing else of the paper read the Final Reflections and Conclusion sections on the last two pages of the paper to see parts of the biggest take-aways from this work.


Source: Gone, J. P., Hartmann, W. E., Pomerville, A., Wendt, D. C., Klem, S. H., & Burrage, R. L. (2019). The impact of historical trauma on health outcomes for indigenous populations in the USA and Canada: A systematic review. American Psychologist, 74(1), 20.

Date: October 6, 2019

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

I will not add to the conclusions of the article authors but will simply provide a few of their own words:

“At the conceptual level, it remains unclear whether IHT is best appreciated for its metaphorical or literal functions….

In many ways, IHT has gained traction by bringing much needed attention to historical events and processes that have powerfully shaped the experiences of contemporary Indigenous peoples, which allows for more accurate renderings of those experiences for the benefit of both psychological science and Indigenous peoples. This historical contextualization is all the more remarkable given current reductive trends in psychology (e.g., privileging of biological, behavioral, and intrapsychic explanations) that work against contextualized inquiry (e.g., centering historical disadvantage, entrenched poverty, and oppressive systems). It is also clear, however, that the IHT literature would benefit from additional attention to historical nuance and human diversity to avoid simplistic accounts and essentialist traps .Moreover, IHT—like racial trauma—grapples with contextual influences on psychosocial and health phenomena to better appreciate the experiences of historically oppressed and socially marginalized populations. As documented in this SR, there remain challenges to identifying consistently robust patterns of psychological injury or harm from ancestral experiences with colonial violence and oppression.

… resilience can be conceptualized in collective as well as individual terms. Drawing on a concept originally introduced by Elsass(1992),Thomas, Mitchell, and Arseneau (2016)used the term cultural resilience to describe the ways that Indigenous communities have thrived despite adversity while also maintaining and promoting robust cultural identities.” (pages 32-33)

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is historical trauma and how does it impact members of indigenous populations several generations removed from the initial traumatic events?
  2. Why do Western Psychological concepts, theories and perspectives seem to not be particularly helpful in understanding the trans-generational impacts of historical traumas?
  3. How do systematic review such as the one linked above advance efforts to indigenize Psychology (or do they)?

References (Read Further):

Elsass, P. (1995). Strategies for survival: The psychology of cultural resilience in ethnic minorities. NYU Press.

Thomas, D., Mitchell, T., & Arseneau, C. (2016). Re-evaluating resilience: From individual vulnerabilities to the strength of cultures and collectivities among indigenous communities. Resilience, 4(2), 116-129.

Pearce, M. E., Christian, W. M., Patterson, K., Norris, K., Moniruzzaman, A., Craib, K. J., … & Spittal, P. M. (2008). The Cedar Project: Historical trauma, sexual abuse and HIV risk among young Aboriginal people who use injection and non-injection drugs in two Canadian cities. Social science & medicine, 66(11), 2185-2194.

Bombay, A., Matheson, K., & Anisman, H. (2014). Appraisals of discriminatory events among adult offspring of Indian residential school survivors: The influences of identity centrality and past perceptions of discrimination. Cultural diversity and ethnic minority psychology, 20(1), 75.

Bonanno, G. A. (2004). Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events?. American psychologist, 59(1), 20.

Links to Previous Posts on Indigenous Psychology:

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Depression, Health Psychology, Indigenous Psychology, Intergroup Relations, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: How might efforts to develop appropriate suicide prevention strategies for Australian aboriginal populations be of use in addressing burgeoning issues of stress and depression among mainstream Australian farmers trying to cope with ongoing drought conditions? The answer is also of relevance to issues I raised in my previous post regarding taking on the challenge of indigenizing Canadian psychology and Psychology in general. Before you read the article linked below think for a moment about the issues of Australian Aboriginal mental health, drought, and non-aboriginal Australian farmer mental health might be tied together from a Psychological perspective. Once you have reflected on this for a moment have a read through the article and keep an open mind as you do so as it introduces concepts and perspectives that are both challenging and transformational to our mainstream Western Psychological perspectives. In other words, reading the linked article could be a mind-expanding experience.

Source: How an Aboriginal approach to mental health is helping farmers deal with drought, Georgina Kenyon, Mosaic.

Date: April 23, 2019

Photo Credit:  Camilla Perkins for Mosaic ( 

Article Link:

In my previous post I talked about how Psychology’s understanding of what is involved in human development, mental health/healing, and wellbeing is limited to a mainstream point individualistic point of view which limits our ability to effectively engage with indigenous people and to understand core aspect of their development, mental health/healing, and wellbeing. The article linked above does two things. First it provides a rich example of how such understandings can be developed from within a more diverse Psychology and it shows how that sort of understanding can expand and enrich our understand of and positive engagement with individuals (farmers) suffering Psychologically from the deep and broad impact of an ongoing drought. Aboriginal perspectives on the relationships between people and the environment (the land, their land) usefully broadens our understanding of the ways we are connected to the world and to the Psychological consequences of environmental crisis. …. Time to learn about solastalgia, ganma and yarning.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are solastalgia, ganma and yarning?
  2. How do your definitions of the terms above rely on an understanding of cultural diversity?
  3. How do the terms noted above and a proper understand of them inform clinical approaches to understanding and assisting with Psychological reactions to environmental crisis?

References (Read Further):

Gibson, C., Crockett, J., Dudgeon, P., Bernoth, M., & Lincoln, M. (2018). Sharing and valuing older Aboriginal people’s voices about social and emotional wellbeing services: a strength-based approach for service providers. Aging & mental health, 1-8.

Australian Indigenous Psychology Education Project (AIPEP)

Lin, I., Green, C., & Bessarab, D. (2016). ‘Yarn with me’: applying clinical yarning to improve clinician–patient communication in Aboriginal health care. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 22(5), 377-382.

Glenn Albrecht (2012), The age of solastalgia, The Conversation,

We-Yarn – Quirindi, Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health,

Rigby, C. W., Rosen, A., Berry, H. L., & Hart, C. R. (2011). If the land’s sick, we’re sick:* The impact of prolonged drought on the social and emotional well‐being of Aboriginal communities in rural New South Wales. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 19(5), 249-254.

Posted by & filed under Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Human Development, Indigenous Psychology, Intergroup Relations, Legal Ethical Issues, Psychophysical Disorders Health Psychology, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: How does (or just Does) Psychology deal with culture? How does (or just Does) Psychology deal with historical trauma? How universal are Psychology theories and applications?  How these questions are understood and how they are addressed are important for how Psychology comes to terms with its past, present and future engagements with indigenous persons. After considering the findings and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015), a taskforce was constituted by the Canadian Psychological Association and the Psychology Foundation of Canada and tasked with reviewing the Commission’s report and “develop[ing] concrete, action-oriented recommendations to improve the field’s service to First Nations, Metis and Inuit populations in Canada. The following statement comes from page 8 of the taskforce report:

The profession of psychology in Canada developed in the same political climate and colonial context that gave rise to the residential school system and participated in the process of cultural genocide. The profession of psychology, in its interaction with Indigenous Peoples in Canada has contravened its own code of ethics. The Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists has four main principles:

1.Respect for rights of dignity of persons and people

2.Responsible caring

3.Integrity in relationships

4.Responsibility to society

What does this suggest that Psychology needs to do and how does that relate to the questions that opened this post above? Think about that and then have a look at the task force report, and if not at the whole report than at the section starting on page 8 that discusses how the principles of the Canadian Psychological Association code of ethics ought to have been applied to Psychology and Psychologists’ engagement with First Nations, Metis and Inuit people in Canada

Source: Psychology’s Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Report, A report of the Canadian Psychological Association and the Psychology Foundation of Canada, May 2018.

Date: October 6, 2019

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

So, what might it mean to indigenize Canadian Psychology or Psychology in general? The taskforce report has a number of potentially useful principles, responsibilities, and considerations that are worth looking through and well worth going back to as your understanding of what indigenizing Psychology might involve but where to start? At its simplest level, a good start involves seeing the assumptions that the mainstream Western version of Psychology holds deeply and, in ways that are true of many mainstream or majority view assumptions, quite unreflectedly or unconsciously. Seeing its subject or basic unit of analysis as individual human beings whose core psychological perspectives, functioning, and wellbeing are more basic that issues of culture and history is a basic assumption of Western Psychology. Challenging that assumption opens the door to seriously considering the role of culture and history in our theories of human development, mental health/healing, and wellbeing. I will be posting more on this topic in the weeks to come but for now think a bit about how Western Psychology approaches theorizing about individuals and about what might need to be changed if we are to begin to indigenize Psychology.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does each of the 4 ethical principles from the Canadian Psychological Association noted above involve?
  2. How might the assumption that humans are best understood as individual beings first with cultural and historical influences on their development, functioning and wellbeing being secondary consideration be a problem for how Psychology approaches the development, functioning and wellbeing of Canada’s First Nations, Metis and Inuit people?
  3. What should we (you) look at next order to broaden your understanding of what it might mean to indigenize Psychology?

References (Read Further):

Katz, R. (2017). Indigenous healing psychology: Honoring the wisdom of the First Peoples. Simon and Schuster. (comments on the book can be found here: )

APA Task Force on Indigenous Psychology


Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Emerging Adulthood, Motivation-Emotion, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: The pending arrival of mid-term season can give rise to sometimes overwhelming thoughts about stress and anxiety. Now is a good time to check your plans and to make sure you have booked in enough study and review time to ensure that your levels of stress and anxiety will not build to problematic levels. Now is also a good time to reflect (briefly, because you have other stuff to do!), on the positive roles that your feelings of anxiety play in your planning and coping activities. We DO see a LOT of discussion about the veils of stress and anxiety but think for a moment about some ways in which anxiety might actually be adaptive for you. Once you have a few hypotheses in mind, have a look trough the article linked below and see what psychologist, Lisa Damour suggests.

Source: Why stress and anxiety aren’t always bad, Science News ScienceDaily.

Date: August 10, 2019.

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

Damour points out that stress, and related anxiety, are basic parts of life and that paying attention to the nuances of good and bad stress and anxiety and adaptive and maladaptive responses that we make to stressful situations can help us to build stress tolerance. As well it can help us learn to use anxiety as a tool to broaden our awareness of the situations we are entering in ways that will help us to behave in ways that will enhance rather than diminish our adaptation to the world. If we focus only on whether or not we are happy we run the risk of missing some of the ways in which our feelings of anxiety can inform us about way in which we can move forward more positively.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. When might anxiety be useful?
  2. How are stress and anxiety related?
  3. What are some things that you do, have done, or could do in order to understand and work towards a positive balance between stress anxiety and wellbeing?

References (Read Further):

Damour, Lisa (2019) “At Ease: Reframing Stress and Anxiety,” presentation at the annual meetings of the American Psychological Association, Chicago, August 8 -11.

Damour, L. (2019). Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls. Ballantine Books.

Breedvelt, J., Amanvermez, Y., Harrer, M., Karyotaki, E., Gilbody, S., Bockting, C. L., … & Ebert, D. D. (2019). The effects of meditation, yoga and mindfulness on depression, anxiety and stress in tertiary education students: A meta-analysis. Frontiers in psychiatry, 10, 193.

Bistricky, S. L., Harper, K. L., Roberts, C. M., Cook, D. M., Schield, S. L., Bui, J., & Short, M. B. (2018). Understanding and Promoting Stress Management Practices Among College Students Through an Integrated Health Behavior Model. American Journal of Health Education, 49(1), 12-27.

Turetsky, K. M., & Sanderson, C. A. (2018). Comparing educational interventions: Correcting misperceived norms improves college students’ mental health attitudes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 48(1), 46-55.

Dexter, L. R., Huff, K., Rudecki, M., & Abraham, S. (2018). College students’ stress coping behaviors and perception of stress-effects holistically. International Journal of Studies in Nursing, 3(2), 1.

Posted by & filed under Emerging Adulthood, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: As we enter October, students in their fall terms are about to notice that midterms are cresting the immediate horizon and bringing with them general and test-specific anxieties. There is still a little bit of time to prepare for the tests and for any associated anxiety. I am hoping that saying that booking off some study/preparation time is a good idea goes without saying. If you search online for tips, tricks, and hacks for dealing with test-anxiety you will find a HUGE array of suggestions (eat healthy, listen to music, exercise, etc. etc.) most offered without any research evidence as to whether or not they provide assistance. The three articles linked below each look at a different hack or fix for exam related anxiety (coloring, aroma therapy, and therapy dogs). Think about how you might set up a research study to look at whether any of these three interventions help students manage or reduce their test-related anxiety and then pick one, or two or all three of the linked articles and see how the researchers in each took on these tasks.

Source: Three articles examining ‘stress fixes’ as midterm season approaches (see full references in Reference list below and linked in Article Links).

Date: September 28, 2019

Photo Credit: AP/

Article Links:

So, what did you learn from looking at one or more of the articles linked above? That essential lemon oil does not seem to reduce test-anxiety (or that the way it was assessed in the linked study did not fully address the question)? That coloring reduces anxiety levels after a stressful test (and is that the most important question to address as opposed to anticipatory test-anxiety)? That hanging out with a dog could help reduce exam anxiety (or maybe just that hanging out with Beauregard Tirebiter seems to be a positive experience for the few students who were spoken to in the qualitative study)? It seems clear that the challenge in research on addressing test-anxiety is that very specific solutions are often hard to assess and may, in and of themselves, not be sufficient to provide more than passing relief from symptoms of test-anxiety (though some pole fond one or another of these specific interventions quite helpful, though it is hard to tell what will work for whom. A bigger-picture research perspective is needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Pick one anxiety reduction intervention and describe the data supporting its effectiveness as described in one of the articles linked above?
  2. If you could pick one of these interventions to try for yourself during the coming exam season which would it be and why?
  3. What sort of work is needed if we want to provide more generally or wholly useful advice for coping with test anxiety?

References (Read Further):

Burton, B. N., & Baxter, M. F. (2019). The Effects of the Leisure Activity of Coloring on Post-Test Anxiety in Graduate Level Occupational Therapy Students. The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 7(1), 7.

Johnson, C. E. (2019). Effect of Inhaled Lemon Essential Oil on Cognitive Test Anxiety Among Nursing Students. Holistic nursing practice, 33(2), 95-100.

Kim, A., & Vanni, A. (2019). Impact of a Full Time Facility Dog on a University Campus.

Silas, H. J., Binfet, J. T., & Ford, A. T. (2019). Therapeutic for all? Observational assessments of therapy canine stress in an on-campus stress-reduction program. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 32, 6-13.

Holt, N. J., Furbert, L., & Sweetingham, E. (2019). Cognitive and affective benefits of coloring: Two randomized controlled crossover studies. Art Therapy, 1-9.

Ahmad, R., Naqvi, A. A., Al-Bukhaytan, H. M., Al-Nasser, A. H., & Al-Ebrahim, A. H. B. (2019). Evaluation of aromatherapy with lavender oil on academic stress: A randomized placebo controlled clinical trial. Contemporary clinical trials communications, 14, 100346.