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Does our brain react as if we were physically hurt when we are lied to?

Does our brain react as if we were physically hurt when we are lied to?


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I think I've read somewhere that our brain acts as if we were physically hurt (as if we feel pain) when we catch someone lying to us. I couldn't find anything about it on google, and my memory is not reliable enough for me to be anywhere near sure of this.

Can anyone confirm this & give a reference to something scientific?


Perhaps you're referring to Naomi Eisenberger's work on the neural basis of social pain. Her seminal paper found that the neural correlates of distress from social rejection overlapped with those of physical pain, i.e., dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula.

She's recently published a literature review on social pain in the brain (Eisenberger, 2015), summarizing her work and addressing its various controversies.

However, Woo et al. (2014) recently challenged the notion of overlapping neural bases for social and physical pain. They used fancy multivariate methods to analyze the shared vs. distinct neural representations of social vs. physical pain. They conclude:

These findings demonstrate that separate representations underlie pain and rejection despite common [shared] fMRI activity at the gross anatomical level. Rather than co-opting pain circuitry, rejection involves distinct affective representations in humans.


How to tell if someone is lying to you, according to researchers

If you claim that you never lie, well, you’re a liar.

Those little white lies are slipping out more often than you realize: One study found that Americans, on average, tell about 11 lies per week. Other research shows that number is on the conservative side. A study published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology found that 60 percent of people can’t go 10 minutes without lying at least once. And it gets worse: Those that did lie actually told an average of three lies during that short conversation.

In surveying more than 100 psychology graduate students currently or previously in therapy, Leslie Martin, PhD, of Wake Forest University's counseling center, found that of the 37 percent who reported lying, most did so "to protect themselves in some way — mostly to avoid shame or embarrassment, to avoid painful emotions and to avoid being judged."

60 percent of people can’t go 10 minutes without lying at least once.

You know, like when you’re too tired to go to brunch so you claim you have a stomach bug or you tell your boss you had train trouble when you really just overslept. Then there are the little fibs called pro-social lies which we are taught as kids are harmless. (Telling grandma that you love the new sweater when you actually hate it, or telling your wife she looks great in that outfit, when you actually think she looks a little on the heavy side.)

The problem with these little lies — which are harmless at first — is that they tend to have a snowball effect.

A study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience found that lying is a slippery slope: When people tell small lies, the brain becomes desensitized to the pang of guilt that dishonesty usually causes.

Basically, the more you lie, the easier it is to do it, and the bigger the lies get.

How good are we at detecting lies?

Chances are you’re throwing lies around pretty often. But do you know when you’re being duped?

It turns out we are pretty good at pegging liars, but that we end up talking ourselves out of it. Research published in Psychological Science found that we all have pre-set instincts for detecting liars, but they are often overridden by our conscious minds.

“Although humans cannot consciously discriminate liars from truth tellers, they do have a sense, on some less-conscious level, of when someone is lying,” the authors say. It’s our conscious biases and decision making skills that interfere with the natural ability to detect deception.

Research shows our accuracy of distinguishing truths from lies is just 53 percent — not much better than flipping a coin.

A large meta-analysis revealed overall accuracy of distinguishing truths from lies was just 53 percent — not much better than flipping a coin, note the authors, psychologists Charles Bond, PhD, of Texas Christian University, and Bella DePaulo, PhD, of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

And it seems we’re all equally as bad at identifying them: A 2014 study found that emotionally intelligent individuals are more easily duped by liars.

While letting these little white lies go isn’t life or death (and honestly, we may be better off not knowing if our co-worker hates our outfit), there are more serious situations where vetting lies is an important skill. Say you have an underlying suspicion that your spouse is being unfaithful, or that your child may be engaging in dangerous activities behind your back.

Luckily there are active steps we can take to improve our lie detection radar. According to behavioral experts and professional interrogators, the key is to watch rather than listen. You may not be able to hear a lie but you can spot a liar by being aware of these nonverbal signs.

5 steps to becoming a human lie detector

“In the world of behavioral analysis, baseline observations are the totality of observing nonverbal attributes absent the introduction of stressors and triggers. Most baseline measurements should be calibrated during non-confrontational conversation,” says Roger Strecker, Sr., a trained behavioral analysis interviewer/interrogator with over 30 years of law enforcement experience, who is now the CEO of Ternion Risk Mitigation Group.

It’s especially easy to establish a baseline of behavior for those you are close to like spouses, children and friends.

“If you are using visual behavior to gauge the credibility of someone you know, you will also have the benefit of a baseline. Some people, for example, will never look you in the eye. For others, every interaction is a stare down,” wrote Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D., career prosecutor, behavioral expert and author of author of "Red Flags: How to Spot Frenemies, Underminers, and Ruthless People." “Knowing how someone normally looks (or doesn't) during in-person interaction can assist in judging the significance of deviations from the norm.

They say our eyes are the window to our soul — and when it comes to spotting a liar, studying the portal may lead you to the truth.

A study of people across 58 countries found that gaze aversion was the behavior that most people associated with deception. But is there any truth to this?

Science shows that liars do not avoid eye contact any more frequently than those telling the truth. The key thing to look for in eye movement is deviation from their baseline.

“We are always looking from deviation from baseline analysis, whatever the interviewee exhibits with respect to eye contact, focus and even dilation or constriction of pupils are assessed,” says Strecker. “If eye contact was constant at onset of conversation then changed when a stressor or trigger questions was inserted, this should be noted as an attribute that could be a deceptive response.”

He also notes that how fast or slow someone blinks (and how that changes from their baseline when they say something you suspect to be a lie) is critical to observe.

The caveat comes when there are very high stakes involved — say, cheating in a relationship or doing something in the office place that can cost you your job. In these situations, some studies have found gaze aversion to be linked with deception.

Research out of Stephen Porter’s forensic psychology lab at Dalhousie University found that the face will betray the deceiver’s true emotion — “cracking” briefly and allowing displays of true emotion to leak out.

When people were instructed to lie, the researchers were able to discern rare “microexpressions,” flashes of true emotion that show briefly, from one-fifth to one-25th of a second, on their faces.

“The face and its musculature are so complex — so much more complex than anywhere else in our external bodies,” says Leanne ten Brinke, a graduate student in experimental psychology who collaborated on the research. “There are some muscles in the face you can’t control … and those muscles won’t be activated in the absence of genuine emotion — you just can’t do it.”

The face will betray the deceiver’s true emotion — “cracking” briefly and allowing displays of true emotion to leak out.

Porter adds that if someone is telling a really big lie with serious consequences, the face will definitely reveal the deception. “Because unlike body language, you can’t monitor or completely control what’s going on your face. This research was the first detailed experimental demonstration of the secrets revealed when people put on a ‘false face,’ faking or inhibiting various universal emotions.”

These tiny cracks lasting less than one-fifth of a second may leak emotions someone wants to conceal, such as anger or guilt. Experts do point out that signs of emotion aren't necessarily signs of guilt, but they may give you a peek into underlying emotions someone may be concealing.

“The facial expression appears to crack and another emotion leaks on the face, however briefly,” says ten Brinke. “When you see a facial expression like this, you’ve got to probe with questions to find out why the person is feeling this way.”

According to DePaulo’s meta-analysis, liars are more likely to press their lips together, leaving their smile looking forced or tense.

But it’s not just about the lips — it is the mouth/eye combo that is key in spotting a liar.

“A truthful person smiles with their entire face, like the famous Mona Lisa,” says Patrick. “Crow’s feet indicate honesty.”

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She stresses that while we tend to distrust people who are shifty-eyed, break eye contact or won't look you in the eye at all, there are plenty of innocent explanations for this, whether they are shy, nervous or socially awkward. So focusing on someone’s eyes when they smile is a great way to rule out these other explanations.

There are seven human emotions, Stecker says: anger, happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, disgust and contempt. These come into play when someone is forcing a smile.

“We are now looking at the ‘blended expression,’ with the lower half of the face exhibiting the secondary human emotion and the upper facial quadrant exhibiting the primary human emotion,” says Strecker. “The real smile will exhibit matching lower and upper hemispheres of human face, which match and will arguably be cataloged as happy.” With a fake smile there is a disconnect between the eyes and the mouth. “The upper hemisphere or areas around the eyes may be exhibiting contempt, anger or disgust,” he explains.

So you’re pretty sure your friend, boss or family member just lied to your face. You decide to press them on the issue by asking for clarification around the statement. Chances are, there are going to be some physical shifts that can clue you into their discomfort.

Touching of the face is a ‘pacifier’ and has a calming effect to a brain under stress.

“The limbic and basal ganglia systems are two critical components of the human brain controlling processing of stress and visible nonverbal deception attributes humans exhibit,” says Strecker. "Not commonly known, when the human brain is under stress, the brain temperature rises and often is exhibited as perspiration on the forehead or upper lip area of the face. Touching of the face is a ‘pacifier’ and has a calming effect to an otherwise brain under stress. Foot tapping or fidgety hands (when during baseline their hands, legs and feet were benign) should be noted.”

Of course this is dependent on the baseline — some people just have a habit of twirling their hair or touching their face. But Strecker says to be mindful of any changes in blinking speed, swallowing, facial hand rubbing, yawning, hair twirling or rate of breathing — all actions that may hint a lie is in process.


How Your Body Reacts to Stress

We all feel stressed from time to time – it’s all part of the emotional ups and downs of life. Stress has many sources, it can come from our environment, from our bodies, or our own thoughts and how we view the world around us. It is very natural to feel stressed around moments of pressure such as exam time – but we are physiologically designed to deal with stress, and react to it.

When we feel under pressure the nervous system instructs our bodies to release stress hormones including adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. These produce physiological changes to help us cope with the threat or danger we see to be upon us. This is called the “stress response” or the “fight-or-flight” response.

Stress can actually be positive, as the stress response help us stay alert, motivated and focused on the task at hand. Usually, when the pressure subsides, the body rebalances and we start to feel calm again. But when we experience stress too often or for too long, or when the negative feelings overwhelm our ability to cope, then problems will arise. Continuous activation of the nervous system – experiencing the “stress response” – causes wear and tear on the body.

When we are stressed, the respiratory system is immediately affected. We tend to breathe harder and more quickly in an effort to quickly distribute oxygen-rich blood around our body. Although this is not an issue for most of us, it could be a problem for people with asthma who may feel short of breath and struggle to take in enough oxygen. It can also cause quick and shallow breathing, where minimal air is taken in, which can lead to hyperventilation. This is more likely if someone is prone to anxiety and panic attacks.

Stress wreaks havoc on our immune systems. Cortisol released in our bodies suppresses the immune system and inflammatory pathways, and we become more susceptible to infections and chronic inflammatory conditions. Our ability to fight off illness is reduced.

The musculoskeletal system is also affected. Our muscles tense up, which is the body’s natural way of protecting ourselves from injury and pain. Repeated muscle tension can cause bodily aches and pains, and when it occurs in the shoulders, neck and head it may result in tension headaches and migraines.

Stress can lead to migraines. (www.shutterstock.com)

There are cardiovascular effects. When stress is acute (in the moment), heart rate and blood pressure increase, but they return to normal once the acute stress has passed. If acute stress is repeatedly experienced, or if stress becomes chronic (over a long period of time) it can cause damage to blood vessels and arteries. This increases the risk for hypertension, heart attack or stroke.

The endocrine system also suffers. This system plays an important role in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism and reproductive processes. Our metabolism is affected. The hypothalamus is located in the brain and it plays a key role in connecting the endocrine system with the nervous system. Stress signals coming from the hypothalamus trigger the release of stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine, and then blood sugar (glucose) is produced by the liver to provide you with energy to deal with the stressful situation. Most people reabsorb the extra blood sugar when the stress subsides, but for some people there is an increased risk of diabetes.

Stress can have some unpleasant gastrointestinal effects. We might experience heartburn and acid reflux especially if we have changed our eating habits to eat more or less, or increased our consumption of fatty and sugary foods. The ability of our intestines to absorb nutrients from our food may be reduced. We may experience stomach pain, bloating and nausea, diarrhoea or constipation.

There can be problems with our reproductive systems too. For men, chronic stress may affect the production of testosterone and sperm. It may even lead to erectile dysfunction or impotence. Women can experience changes to their menstrual cycles and increased premenstrual symptoms.

Stress has marked effects on our emotional well-being. It is normal to experience high and low moods in our daily lives, but when we are stressed we may feel more tired, have mood swings or feel more irritable than usual. Stress causes hyperarousal, which means we may have difficulty falling or staying asleep and experience restless nights. This impairs concentration, attention, learning and memory, all of which are particularly important around exam time. Researchers have linked poor sleep to chronic health problems, depression and even obesity.

Losing sleep affects your ability to learn. (www.shutterstock.com)

The way that we cope with stress has an additional, indirect effect on our health. Under pressure, people may adopt more harmful habits such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs to relieve stress. But these behaviours are inappropriate ways to adapt and only lead to more health problems and risks to our personal safety and well-being.

So learn to manage your stress, before it manages you. It’s all about keeping it in check. Some stress in life is normal – and a little stress can help us to feel alert, motivated, focused, energetic and even excited. Take positive actions to channel this energy effectively and you may find yourself performing better, achieving more and feeling good.

Holly Blake, Associate Professor of Behavioural Science, University of Nottingham


Why Highly Sensitive People React So Strongly to Criticism

For highly sensitive people, those reactions are wired deeply into our brains. When we receive negative feedback, we root into our “emotional brain,” which bypasses our “thinking brain.” The “emotional brain” (also known as the limbic system) is where our databank of triggers and past emotional memories are stored. This happens to everyone (not just HSPs) but, according to Julie Bjelland, a therapist who specializes in HSPs, the limbic system is activated more among HSPs than non-HSPs.

That means that a non-HSP may be able to use their thinking brain (neocortex, the part that handles logic) to not take criticism personally in the moment. But for us sensitive people, even when we logically know that criticism is invalid, we still need to process the emotions that arise. These are often past as well as present emotions criticism can bring up all the painful comments that have been made to us in the past — and the shame that came with them.

So it’s no surprise that highly sensitive people will go above and beyond to avoid being criticized. And this can feed into our people-pleasing tendencies. Knowing that you exceed the expectations of people in your life can help you feel like you’re “good enough.”

I’ve had sensitive clients tell me, “If everybody around me is happy with what I’m doing, they won’t criticize me. Being criticized makes me feel like I am not good enough.” The reality is that everybody gets criticized from time to time — and no amount of over-achieving will make you “good enough” for everyone.

For sensitive people, coming to terms with that (and spending days or weeks analyzing a critical comment), can be completely exhausting.


The hidden sexual assault reaction that still isn&rsquot being talked about

It&rsquos a myth that women react to rape in one of two ways &ndash fight or flight. In fact, this couldn&rsquot be further from the truth. Women react in many different ways to an assault, whether it is a struggle, freezing on the spot, or mentally withdrawing from the situation.

Recently, Twitter user @_clvrarose highlighted another reaction which is rarely talked about &ndash that a survivor can self-lubricate during a sexual assault. It&rsquos not discussed because it is assumed (wrongly) that a genital reaction like this indicates consent, that the victim didn&rsquot feel threatened. Or perhaps, even more disturbingly, that the survivor of an assault was asking for it.

Natural selection in humans has produced a response system that prevents injuries

But there is a reason why reactions like this are possible &ndash and it's nothing to do with pleasure. Some studies suggest genital responses are a physiological defence mechanism.

Martin Lalumiere, a professor at the University of Ottawa&rsquos School of Psychology, says genital reactions during an assault are physical, reflexive responses - which are actually the body's way of minimising injury, such as tearing and pain.

&ldquoGenital responses can occur in the presence of any sexual cue. In our research, we find that women - but not men - show responses even to sexual cues that they find very aversive, like descriptions of rape,&rdquo says Lalumière.

In a 2011 study, Lalumiere and scientist Kelly Suschinsky proposed lubrication takes place to reduce injury when unwanted sexual encounters take place. &ldquoSubstantial ethnographic, historical, and comparative evidence suggests that the threat of unwanted sexual activity has been considerable over human evolutionary history,&rdquo they reported.

Lalumiere explains that this response is adaptive &ndash in a evolutionary sense. &ldquoNatural selection in humans would have produced a response system that prevents injuries that may occur when sexual intercourse happens,&rdquo he says.

In some cases, you freeze - the brain detects an attack & signals the brainstem to inhibit movement

&ldquoIn other words, the &lsquoautomatic&rsquo response to any sexual cue serves to protect women against injuries. It is worth noting that even consensual intercourse can produce small injuries to the genitals, so a protective mechanism involving lubrication - and likely other responses - would be quite useful.&rdquo

&ldquoI think our research, and the research of others, has shown very convincingly that genital responses can occur in the absence of enjoyment,&rdquo he says.

The way the body reacts to sexual assault is driven by fear and shock. Some women report freezing &ndash a brain-based response to danger, like a deer in headlights. A part of the brain called the amygdala, detects an attack and signals the brainstem to inhibit movement. It is beyond our conscious control.

Yvonne Traynor, chief executive officer of Rape Crisis South London, says rape is about power and control &ndash and our responses are involuntary. &ldquoIt is a controlled and planned attack and yes, the scientist is right, our bodies react to fear. Men get erections and women lubricate. This is a fear response. The freezing response is because of the autonomous nervous system.&rdquo

Yet when our understanding of sexual assault is so driven by rape culture and victim-blaming, survivors' reactions are all too often used to justify violence and exonerate offenders. Freezing is wrongly believed to be a sign of consent. Lubrication is mistaken for pleasure. These myths perpetuate shame and guilt among many survivors, fuelled by the belief that they could have stopped the attack, or that they somehow brought it on themselves.

Elisa Iannacone, a photographer and rape survivor, points out having involuntary impulses can make a survivor&rsquos recovery even more difficult. She is currently working on an art project, The Spiral of Containment: Rape&rsquos Aftermath, working with other survivors to create a series of images exploring the impact of sexual assault.

I was raped 5 years ago and am creating awareness about the issue alongside 24 survivors. Help me tell our stories! https://t.co/fH7QcByZZs

&mdash Elisa L. Iannacone (@ElisaLIannacone) November 25, 2016

&ldquoIn the same way that men can ejaculate during an assault, which doesn&rsquot make it any more consensual, women can also have bodily impulses that occur during a sexual assault,&rdquo Iannacone says.

&ldquoThe notion that having an involuntary bodily response would make an assault &lsquomore legitimate&rsquo than another is completely inaccurate. Often, having this kind of response will hinder the victim even more, because it will add layers of self-doubt and shame, which can take a long time to deconstruct.&rdquo

One survivor, Brenda Tracy, a US activist campaigning to end sexual violence, understands first hand that there is no textbook way of reacting to sexual trauma - she was raped in 1998 by four football players.

&ldquoNavigating the world as a rape survivor is extremely difficult,&rdquo Tracy says. &ldquoEveryone has an idea of what we should have done to prevent our rape, what we did to cause our own rape, what we should have done in response to being raped, how we should feel, how we should act, how we should pursue justice and healing.

&ldquoIt's a lose lose situation for us. We're blamed and shamed no matter what we do,&rdquo Tracy says. &ldquoEvery survivor&rsquos experience is different. Until you have been raped you cannot understand what it is truly like. You have no idea how you will respond or cope until it has happened to you.&rdquo

Whether you fight, freeze or flop, rape is rape

Rape is commonly portrayed as a fight in a dark alley with a stranger &ndash but this isn't always the case. We know that the majority of rapes are carried out by someone known to the survivor. Yet as this version is most often illustrated by the media, it sends out the wrong message that there is only one scenario of rape &ndash and that others are not legitimate. This isn't true, says Katie Russell of Rape Crisis. Whether you fight, freeze or flop, rape is rape.

And unless we put this message across clearly, survivors will continue to suffer in silence for fear of being shamed.

&ldquoThe majority of sexual violence survivors don't report to the police and many don't even tell anyone what has happened to them for some time,&rdquo Russell explains. The women and girls we support at Rape Crisis tell us this can be for many reasons, including feelings of shame and self-blame if they haven't been able to physically 'fight back' or prevent the sexual violence perpetrated against them.

&ldquoIt's vital we raise awareness and understanding about the realities of sexual violence so that more survivors can get access to the criminal and social justice they need, want and deserve.&rdquo

If you, or someone you know, has experienced a rape or sexual assault, it might help to talk. Contact Rape Crisis on 0808 802 9999, or find your nearest centre here .


Skipping meals can also make healthy choices harder.

Not eating for an extended period of time can impact the food choices you make when you finally do sit down to eat. “When people are super hungry, they tend to go for the carbs and sweets because those will raise their blood sugar,” says Harris-Pincus. That will probably make you feel better quickly. The problem is that the boost can be temporary if you load up on carbs alone. Without fat, protein, or fiber to temper the rise in glucose, your blood sugar can spike, and then dip all over again, leading to a vicious cycle. You’re also liable to be hungry again soon.


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Fear results is thought it could be controlled by a cluster of neurons that form the PVT, or paraventricular nucleus of something known as the thalamus.

This region of the brain is extremely sensitive to stress, acting as a sensor for both psychological and physical tension.

‘When the signal reaches the periaqueductal grey, it switches to a state of alertness,’ the video says.

‘When the [fearp signal reaches the periaqueductal grey, it switches to a state of alertness,’ the video says. Fear will startle you into reacting, which is when the fight or flight response is triggered which causes your adrenal glands to start pumping out adrenaline

Fear will startle you into reacting, which is when the fight or flight response is triggered which causes your adrenal glands to start pumping out adrenaline.

This raises your heart rate, sharpens senses and provides access to huge amounts of energy in order to cope with threats to survival.

At times, the threat is so intense it can cause a 'freeze' response.

This could be interpreted as the brain being overwhelmed, or it may have evolved as a way of keeping still to hide from predators.

If you do manage to get away from the axe murderer, you’ll probably start screaming.

'We perceive screams in a completely different part of the brain to language,’ the video explains.

'Unlike normal speech, screams go from your ears to the amygdala, which is the brain's emergency centre.'

Fear results is thought it could be controlled by a cluster of neurons that form the PVT, or paraventricular nucleus of something known as the thalamus

When you’re injured, neurons called nociceptors send messages up to the brain. Those are collected by the thalamus, which in tries to tell the brain to do whatever it can to stop the injury happening again

‘It’s almost like the screamer is trying to share with you the state of their brain chemistry.’

Screams are mostly instinctive, and used to cause others to be fearful and react.

If your axe murderer catches up with you, you will likely feel severe pain.

When you’re injured, neurons called nociceptors send messages up to the brain.

Those are collected by the thalamus, which in tries to tell the brain to do whatever it can to stop the injury happening again.

‘So now you’re dead on the floor’, the video continues.

‘Assuming no massive brain injury was inflicted, at this point you’d be assumed clinically dead.’

But your brain keeps working. According to recent studies, the brain appears to undergo a final surge which can be associated with consciousness.

‘Some folks believe this is an explanation for near-death experiences,’ the video says.

Then comes biological death. And what happens after that is anyone’s guess.

TURMERIC PREVENTS FEAR BEING STORED IN THE BRAIN, STUDY CLAIMS

Curcumin, a bright-yellow compound found in the root of the Indian spice turmeric, prevented new fear memories being stored in the brain

A spice commonly used in curry could help erase bad memories, according to a study.

Curcumin, a bright-yellow compound found in the root of the Indian spice turmeric, prevented new fear memories being stored in the brain, and also removed pre-existing fear memories, researchers found.

It is hoped that the findings will help develop treatments for people suffering with psychological disorders.

Psychologists from the City University of New York trained rats to become scared when they heard a particular sound. Scientists assumed the creatures were frightened when they froze.

Hours later, when the same sound was played to the rats, those who had been given ordinary food froze.

Yet the rats fed the curcumin-rich diet didn’t freeze, suggesting their fearful memories had been erased.

Professor Glenn Schafe, who led the study, said: ‘This suggests that people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological disorders that are characterised by fearful memories may benefit substantially from a curcumin-enriched diet.’


Why Highly Sensitive People React So Strongly to Criticism

For highly sensitive people, those reactions are wired deeply into our brains. When we receive negative feedback, we root into our “emotional brain,” which bypasses our “thinking brain.” The “emotional brain” (also known as the limbic system) is where our databank of triggers and past emotional memories are stored. This happens to everyone (not just HSPs) but, according to Julie Bjelland, a therapist who specializes in HSPs, the limbic system is activated more among HSPs than non-HSPs.

That means that a non-HSP may be able to use their thinking brain (neocortex, the part that handles logic) to not take criticism personally in the moment. But for us sensitive people, even when we logically know that criticism is invalid, we still need to process the emotions that arise. These are often past as well as present emotions criticism can bring up all the painful comments that have been made to us in the past — and the shame that came with them.

So it’s no surprise that highly sensitive people will go above and beyond to avoid being criticized. And this can feed into our people-pleasing tendencies. Knowing that you exceed the expectations of people in your life can help you feel like you’re “good enough.”

I’ve had sensitive clients tell me, “If everybody around me is happy with what I’m doing, they won’t criticize me. Being criticized makes me feel like I am not good enough.” The reality is that everybody gets criticized from time to time — and no amount of over-achieving will make you “good enough” for everyone.

For sensitive people, coming to terms with that (and spending days or weeks analyzing a critical comment), can be completely exhausting.


Stress management

These recent discoveries about the effects of stress on health shouldn’t leave you worrying. We now understand much more about effective strategies for reducing stress responses. Such beneficial strategies include:

  • Maintaining a healthy social support network
  • Engaging in regular physical exercise
  • Getting an adequate amount of sleep each night

These approaches have important benefits for physical and mental health, and form critical building blocks for a healthy lifestyle. If you would like additional support or if you are experiencing extreme or chronic stress, a licensed psychologist can help you identify the challenges and stressors that affect your daily life and find ways to help you best cope for improving your overall physical and mental well-being.

APA gratefully acknowledges the assistance of William Shaw, PhD Susan Labott-Smith, PhD, ABPP Matthew M. Burg, PhD Camelia Hostinar, PhD Nicholas Alen, BA Miranda A.L. van Tilburg, PhD Gary G. Berntson, PhD Steven M. Tovian, PhD, ABPP, FAClinP, FAClinHP and Malina Spirito, PsyD, MEd in developing this article.

The full text of articles from APA Help Center may be reproduced and distributed for noncommercial purposes with credit given to the American Psychological Association. Any electronic reproductions must link to the original article on the APA Help Center. Any exceptions to this, including excerpting, paraphrasing or reproduction in a commercial work, must be presented in writing to the APA. Images from the APA Help Center may not be reproduced


220 Random Thoughts

Random thoughts are brain feeds that spontaneously come to your conscious mind while doing some routine activity.

It is just a simple idea that popped in suddenly and does not carry any meaningful revelation.

Random shower thoughts

  1. We chase happiness but do not get it too often. Will we get it if we stop chasing it?
  2. Is it right to do nothing at times and just feel happy about it?
  3. Cakes are important in birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, weddings, and what not still it is not the main course menu, just a dessert palate. Wonder why?
  4. What would happen if the sun does not rise tomorrow and it’s all dark around how will the world look like?
  5. Which statement is correct? A bottle is half-filled or a bottle half empty.
  6. What is more important for you? Chasing dreams or accomplishing goals.
  7. Saying ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’ too often is a sign of courtesy that everyone does and few only feel.
  8. Why is Valentine’s Day celebrated with red roses, red dress, red cards, and red lipstick? Will it look odd, if any other color is used to celebrate the day? Will it be worth it?
  9. The words wire and fire consist of three same letters and one, unlike letter? Think of a few more such words?

Thought provoking random thoughts

  1. Celebrating birthdays is a reminder that we have one less year to live in this world.
  2. The irony of life is, just as we celebrate our birthdays every year we also pass our death date every year it’s just we are not aware of it.
  3. Our stomach churns and digests all food in the same way. Then, why do we eat food in categories of ‘starters’, ‘main course’, ‘condiments’, ‘desserts’? Why can’t everything be eaten together?
  4. Have you ever tried sleeping with eyes wide open?
  5. Can we have a new world only with short men and tall women?
  6. Birthday wishes come with tons of love and best wishes. How to measure tons?
  7. Snails play hide and seek with us. When touched, it gets into the shell and again makes a sneak peek out.
  8. Human brains have a rewind and fast forward button, know why? Because we are equally competent to delve into our past and make unlimited plans for the future.
  9. The letter ‘W’ is made of two ‘V’, but it is pronounced as double ‘U’ why so?
  10. Incorrect is spelled incorrect in a dictionary.
  11. Which one do you think is right? ‘Fire is on everything’ or ‘Everything on fire’

Funny random thoughts

  1. A parcel sent by a car is called a shipment, but a parcel sent by a ship is called Cargo. Why is it so?
  2. Love completes your Life or Life Can complete your Love – which one do you believe and follow?
  3. In an aircraft, which armrest is yours, if you sit in the middle?
  4. How would your handwriting be, if you start writing with the less used hand?
  5. What happens when a poison expires? Does it become more poisonous or no longer remains so?
  6. Quicksand drowns you slowly. So it should be called slow sand. isn’t it?
  7. Twins are like buy one, get one free. Isn’t it great?
  8. A spoon made of gold can be called silverware? Right?
  9. Pineapple has a weird name. It neither has a pine nor has an apple.
  10. A pancake is not a cake.
  11. Everyone remembers what you did in your childhood except you. Were you drunk?

Amusing weird thoughts

  1. Do dentists go to other dentists, when they need a tooth extraction?
  2. Clapping hands is all about hitting yourself when you like something.
  3. Is it difficult to fool people on a fool’s day?
  4. The letter ‘ee’ is silent in the word bee.
  5. PASSWORD’ is to be kept a secret, but it means to be passed on to others.
  6. A baby wakes up every now and then still, we say “slept like a baby”.
  7. Is there a single job that was not built around the idea of helping others?

Weird random thoughts

  1. The guy who invented ‘weekends’ was an absolute genius.
  2. Don’t you think that your first birthday is actually your second one? The first one happened the day you were born.
  3. Why are emoticons always yellow?
  4. There should be a reality show where you need to find the edge of the world and say ‘bye’ ‘bye’ to your spouse.
  5. “Go to bed”, you will feel good the next morning. It is the human version of “Put it off and put it back on again?”
  6. Why do girls with straight hair curl it and girls with curly hair straighten it? Amazing!
  7. It’s not fair indeed – chocolates can stain your teeth brown but a chewing gum doesn’t stain them white.
  8. We say noses run but they are fixed in one place. Is it even possible?
  9. ‘X’ and ‘Y’ are used more in algebra than in English
  10. There are many places you have visited for the last time. Wonder!
  11. Photographs and images are either square or rectangular, but the camera lens is circular.
  12. Eyelashes prevent things from entering our eyes but it’s the eyelashes that tickle eyes quite often. Weird.

Few examples of random weird thoughts

Eagle Meaning and Symbolism: A Comprehensive Guide

Sleep & Dreaming

The Nature of a Delayed Emotional Response and Delayed-Onset of PTSD

A delayed emotional response is part of the “freeze” response of the nervous system. A full-on “freeze” response is when you go numb and play dead until the danger has passed. It is an extreme form of dissociation that is biologically hardwired in your system for the sake of survival.

There are many degrees of dissociation below the full-fledged “freeze” response.

The delayed emotional response is one of them.


The hidden sexual assault reaction that still isn&rsquot being talked about

It&rsquos a myth that women react to rape in one of two ways &ndash fight or flight. In fact, this couldn&rsquot be further from the truth. Women react in many different ways to an assault, whether it is a struggle, freezing on the spot, or mentally withdrawing from the situation.

Recently, Twitter user @_clvrarose highlighted another reaction which is rarely talked about &ndash that a survivor can self-lubricate during a sexual assault. It&rsquos not discussed because it is assumed (wrongly) that a genital reaction like this indicates consent, that the victim didn&rsquot feel threatened. Or perhaps, even more disturbingly, that the survivor of an assault was asking for it.

Natural selection in humans has produced a response system that prevents injuries

But there is a reason why reactions like this are possible &ndash and it's nothing to do with pleasure. Some studies suggest genital responses are a physiological defence mechanism.

Martin Lalumiere, a professor at the University of Ottawa&rsquos School of Psychology, says genital reactions during an assault are physical, reflexive responses - which are actually the body's way of minimising injury, such as tearing and pain.

&ldquoGenital responses can occur in the presence of any sexual cue. In our research, we find that women - but not men - show responses even to sexual cues that they find very aversive, like descriptions of rape,&rdquo says Lalumière.

In a 2011 study, Lalumiere and scientist Kelly Suschinsky proposed lubrication takes place to reduce injury when unwanted sexual encounters take place. &ldquoSubstantial ethnographic, historical, and comparative evidence suggests that the threat of unwanted sexual activity has been considerable over human evolutionary history,&rdquo they reported.

Lalumiere explains that this response is adaptive &ndash in a evolutionary sense. &ldquoNatural selection in humans would have produced a response system that prevents injuries that may occur when sexual intercourse happens,&rdquo he says.

In some cases, you freeze - the brain detects an attack & signals the brainstem to inhibit movement

&ldquoIn other words, the &lsquoautomatic&rsquo response to any sexual cue serves to protect women against injuries. It is worth noting that even consensual intercourse can produce small injuries to the genitals, so a protective mechanism involving lubrication - and likely other responses - would be quite useful.&rdquo

&ldquoI think our research, and the research of others, has shown very convincingly that genital responses can occur in the absence of enjoyment,&rdquo he says.

The way the body reacts to sexual assault is driven by fear and shock. Some women report freezing &ndash a brain-based response to danger, like a deer in headlights. A part of the brain called the amygdala, detects an attack and signals the brainstem to inhibit movement. It is beyond our conscious control.

Yvonne Traynor, chief executive officer of Rape Crisis South London, says rape is about power and control &ndash and our responses are involuntary. &ldquoIt is a controlled and planned attack and yes, the scientist is right, our bodies react to fear. Men get erections and women lubricate. This is a fear response. The freezing response is because of the autonomous nervous system.&rdquo

Yet when our understanding of sexual assault is so driven by rape culture and victim-blaming, survivors' reactions are all too often used to justify violence and exonerate offenders. Freezing is wrongly believed to be a sign of consent. Lubrication is mistaken for pleasure. These myths perpetuate shame and guilt among many survivors, fuelled by the belief that they could have stopped the attack, or that they somehow brought it on themselves.

Elisa Iannacone, a photographer and rape survivor, points out having involuntary impulses can make a survivor&rsquos recovery even more difficult. She is currently working on an art project, The Spiral of Containment: Rape&rsquos Aftermath, working with other survivors to create a series of images exploring the impact of sexual assault.

I was raped 5 years ago and am creating awareness about the issue alongside 24 survivors. Help me tell our stories! https://t.co/fH7QcByZZs

&mdash Elisa L. Iannacone (@ElisaLIannacone) November 25, 2016

&ldquoIn the same way that men can ejaculate during an assault, which doesn&rsquot make it any more consensual, women can also have bodily impulses that occur during a sexual assault,&rdquo Iannacone says.

&ldquoThe notion that having an involuntary bodily response would make an assault &lsquomore legitimate&rsquo than another is completely inaccurate. Often, having this kind of response will hinder the victim even more, because it will add layers of self-doubt and shame, which can take a long time to deconstruct.&rdquo

One survivor, Brenda Tracy, a US activist campaigning to end sexual violence, understands first hand that there is no textbook way of reacting to sexual trauma - she was raped in 1998 by four football players.

&ldquoNavigating the world as a rape survivor is extremely difficult,&rdquo Tracy says. &ldquoEveryone has an idea of what we should have done to prevent our rape, what we did to cause our own rape, what we should have done in response to being raped, how we should feel, how we should act, how we should pursue justice and healing.

&ldquoIt's a lose lose situation for us. We're blamed and shamed no matter what we do,&rdquo Tracy says. &ldquoEvery survivor&rsquos experience is different. Until you have been raped you cannot understand what it is truly like. You have no idea how you will respond or cope until it has happened to you.&rdquo

Whether you fight, freeze or flop, rape is rape

Rape is commonly portrayed as a fight in a dark alley with a stranger &ndash but this isn't always the case. We know that the majority of rapes are carried out by someone known to the survivor. Yet as this version is most often illustrated by the media, it sends out the wrong message that there is only one scenario of rape &ndash and that others are not legitimate. This isn't true, says Katie Russell of Rape Crisis. Whether you fight, freeze or flop, rape is rape.

And unless we put this message across clearly, survivors will continue to suffer in silence for fear of being shamed.

&ldquoThe majority of sexual violence survivors don't report to the police and many don't even tell anyone what has happened to them for some time,&rdquo Russell explains. The women and girls we support at Rape Crisis tell us this can be for many reasons, including feelings of shame and self-blame if they haven't been able to physically 'fight back' or prevent the sexual violence perpetrated against them.

&ldquoIt's vital we raise awareness and understanding about the realities of sexual violence so that more survivors can get access to the criminal and social justice they need, want and deserve.&rdquo

If you, or someone you know, has experienced a rape or sexual assault, it might help to talk. Contact Rape Crisis on 0808 802 9999, or find your nearest centre here .


Skipping meals can also make healthy choices harder.

Not eating for an extended period of time can impact the food choices you make when you finally do sit down to eat. “When people are super hungry, they tend to go for the carbs and sweets because those will raise their blood sugar,” says Harris-Pincus. That will probably make you feel better quickly. The problem is that the boost can be temporary if you load up on carbs alone. Without fat, protein, or fiber to temper the rise in glucose, your blood sugar can spike, and then dip all over again, leading to a vicious cycle. You’re also liable to be hungry again soon.


A man you’ve only been on a couple of dates with.

Or, the most amazing guy ever where things were progressing really nicely and you’ve been seeing each other regularly.

If it was a guy that you went on just one or two dates with, then the only thing to do is this: move on.

I know it can be tough, but it’s really that simple.

If on the other hand he was the most amazing guy and you thought you were on the road to meeting his parents, then you have to decide if he’s emotionally available or unavailable.

If you believe that he was indeed emotionally available, then it’s up to you to take responsibility, have courage, and have an honest conversation with him to see what is going on between you two. A powerful, alluring woman knows her worth and knows that she is not flawed.


How to tell if someone is lying to you, according to researchers

If you claim that you never lie, well, you’re a liar.

Those little white lies are slipping out more often than you realize: One study found that Americans, on average, tell about 11 lies per week. Other research shows that number is on the conservative side. A study published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology found that 60 percent of people can’t go 10 minutes without lying at least once. And it gets worse: Those that did lie actually told an average of three lies during that short conversation.

In surveying more than 100 psychology graduate students currently or previously in therapy, Leslie Martin, PhD, of Wake Forest University's counseling center, found that of the 37 percent who reported lying, most did so "to protect themselves in some way — mostly to avoid shame or embarrassment, to avoid painful emotions and to avoid being judged."

60 percent of people can’t go 10 minutes without lying at least once.

You know, like when you’re too tired to go to brunch so you claim you have a stomach bug or you tell your boss you had train trouble when you really just overslept. Then there are the little fibs called pro-social lies which we are taught as kids are harmless. (Telling grandma that you love the new sweater when you actually hate it, or telling your wife she looks great in that outfit, when you actually think she looks a little on the heavy side.)

The problem with these little lies — which are harmless at first — is that they tend to have a snowball effect.

A study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience found that lying is a slippery slope: When people tell small lies, the brain becomes desensitized to the pang of guilt that dishonesty usually causes.

Basically, the more you lie, the easier it is to do it, and the bigger the lies get.

How good are we at detecting lies?

Chances are you’re throwing lies around pretty often. But do you know when you’re being duped?

It turns out we are pretty good at pegging liars, but that we end up talking ourselves out of it. Research published in Psychological Science found that we all have pre-set instincts for detecting liars, but they are often overridden by our conscious minds.

“Although humans cannot consciously discriminate liars from truth tellers, they do have a sense, on some less-conscious level, of when someone is lying,” the authors say. It’s our conscious biases and decision making skills that interfere with the natural ability to detect deception.

Research shows our accuracy of distinguishing truths from lies is just 53 percent — not much better than flipping a coin.

A large meta-analysis revealed overall accuracy of distinguishing truths from lies was just 53 percent — not much better than flipping a coin, note the authors, psychologists Charles Bond, PhD, of Texas Christian University, and Bella DePaulo, PhD, of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

And it seems we’re all equally as bad at identifying them: A 2014 study found that emotionally intelligent individuals are more easily duped by liars.

While letting these little white lies go isn’t life or death (and honestly, we may be better off not knowing if our co-worker hates our outfit), there are more serious situations where vetting lies is an important skill. Say you have an underlying suspicion that your spouse is being unfaithful, or that your child may be engaging in dangerous activities behind your back.

Luckily there are active steps we can take to improve our lie detection radar. According to behavioral experts and professional interrogators, the key is to watch rather than listen. You may not be able to hear a lie but you can spot a liar by being aware of these nonverbal signs.

5 steps to becoming a human lie detector

“In the world of behavioral analysis, baseline observations are the totality of observing nonverbal attributes absent the introduction of stressors and triggers. Most baseline measurements should be calibrated during non-confrontational conversation,” says Roger Strecker, Sr., a trained behavioral analysis interviewer/interrogator with over 30 years of law enforcement experience, who is now the CEO of Ternion Risk Mitigation Group.

It’s especially easy to establish a baseline of behavior for those you are close to like spouses, children and friends.

“If you are using visual behavior to gauge the credibility of someone you know, you will also have the benefit of a baseline. Some people, for example, will never look you in the eye. For others, every interaction is a stare down,” wrote Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D., career prosecutor, behavioral expert and author of author of "Red Flags: How to Spot Frenemies, Underminers, and Ruthless People." “Knowing how someone normally looks (or doesn't) during in-person interaction can assist in judging the significance of deviations from the norm.

They say our eyes are the window to our soul — and when it comes to spotting a liar, studying the portal may lead you to the truth.

A study of people across 58 countries found that gaze aversion was the behavior that most people associated with deception. But is there any truth to this?

Science shows that liars do not avoid eye contact any more frequently than those telling the truth. The key thing to look for in eye movement is deviation from their baseline.

“We are always looking from deviation from baseline analysis, whatever the interviewee exhibits with respect to eye contact, focus and even dilation or constriction of pupils are assessed,” says Strecker. “If eye contact was constant at onset of conversation then changed when a stressor or trigger questions was inserted, this should be noted as an attribute that could be a deceptive response.”

He also notes that how fast or slow someone blinks (and how that changes from their baseline when they say something you suspect to be a lie) is critical to observe.

The caveat comes when there are very high stakes involved — say, cheating in a relationship or doing something in the office place that can cost you your job. In these situations, some studies have found gaze aversion to be linked with deception.

Research out of Stephen Porter’s forensic psychology lab at Dalhousie University found that the face will betray the deceiver’s true emotion — “cracking” briefly and allowing displays of true emotion to leak out.

When people were instructed to lie, the researchers were able to discern rare “microexpressions,” flashes of true emotion that show briefly, from one-fifth to one-25th of a second, on their faces.

“The face and its musculature are so complex — so much more complex than anywhere else in our external bodies,” says Leanne ten Brinke, a graduate student in experimental psychology who collaborated on the research. “There are some muscles in the face you can’t control … and those muscles won’t be activated in the absence of genuine emotion — you just can’t do it.”

The face will betray the deceiver’s true emotion — “cracking” briefly and allowing displays of true emotion to leak out.

Porter adds that if someone is telling a really big lie with serious consequences, the face will definitely reveal the deception. “Because unlike body language, you can’t monitor or completely control what’s going on your face. This research was the first detailed experimental demonstration of the secrets revealed when people put on a ‘false face,’ faking or inhibiting various universal emotions.”

These tiny cracks lasting less than one-fifth of a second may leak emotions someone wants to conceal, such as anger or guilt. Experts do point out that signs of emotion aren't necessarily signs of guilt, but they may give you a peek into underlying emotions someone may be concealing.

“The facial expression appears to crack and another emotion leaks on the face, however briefly,” says ten Brinke. “When you see a facial expression like this, you’ve got to probe with questions to find out why the person is feeling this way.”

According to DePaulo’s meta-analysis, liars are more likely to press their lips together, leaving their smile looking forced or tense.

But it’s not just about the lips — it is the mouth/eye combo that is key in spotting a liar.

“A truthful person smiles with their entire face, like the famous Mona Lisa,” says Patrick. “Crow’s feet indicate honesty.”

Related

Social Studies How You Handle Confrontation May Help You Make More Money

She stresses that while we tend to distrust people who are shifty-eyed, break eye contact or won't look you in the eye at all, there are plenty of innocent explanations for this, whether they are shy, nervous or socially awkward. So focusing on someone’s eyes when they smile is a great way to rule out these other explanations.

There are seven human emotions, Stecker says: anger, happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, disgust and contempt. These come into play when someone is forcing a smile.

“We are now looking at the ‘blended expression,’ with the lower half of the face exhibiting the secondary human emotion and the upper facial quadrant exhibiting the primary human emotion,” says Strecker. “The real smile will exhibit matching lower and upper hemispheres of human face, which match and will arguably be cataloged as happy.” With a fake smile there is a disconnect between the eyes and the mouth. “The upper hemisphere or areas around the eyes may be exhibiting contempt, anger or disgust,” he explains.

So you’re pretty sure your friend, boss or family member just lied to your face. You decide to press them on the issue by asking for clarification around the statement. Chances are, there are going to be some physical shifts that can clue you into their discomfort.

Touching of the face is a ‘pacifier’ and has a calming effect to a brain under stress.

“The limbic and basal ganglia systems are two critical components of the human brain controlling processing of stress and visible nonverbal deception attributes humans exhibit,” says Strecker. "Not commonly known, when the human brain is under stress, the brain temperature rises and often is exhibited as perspiration on the forehead or upper lip area of the face. Touching of the face is a ‘pacifier’ and has a calming effect to an otherwise brain under stress. Foot tapping or fidgety hands (when during baseline their hands, legs and feet were benign) should be noted.”

Of course this is dependent on the baseline — some people just have a habit of twirling their hair or touching their face. But Strecker says to be mindful of any changes in blinking speed, swallowing, facial hand rubbing, yawning, hair twirling or rate of breathing — all actions that may hint a lie is in process.


How Your Body Reacts to Stress

We all feel stressed from time to time – it’s all part of the emotional ups and downs of life. Stress has many sources, it can come from our environment, from our bodies, or our own thoughts and how we view the world around us. It is very natural to feel stressed around moments of pressure such as exam time – but we are physiologically designed to deal with stress, and react to it.

When we feel under pressure the nervous system instructs our bodies to release stress hormones including adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. These produce physiological changes to help us cope with the threat or danger we see to be upon us. This is called the “stress response” or the “fight-or-flight” response.

Stress can actually be positive, as the stress response help us stay alert, motivated and focused on the task at hand. Usually, when the pressure subsides, the body rebalances and we start to feel calm again. But when we experience stress too often or for too long, or when the negative feelings overwhelm our ability to cope, then problems will arise. Continuous activation of the nervous system – experiencing the “stress response” – causes wear and tear on the body.

When we are stressed, the respiratory system is immediately affected. We tend to breathe harder and more quickly in an effort to quickly distribute oxygen-rich blood around our body. Although this is not an issue for most of us, it could be a problem for people with asthma who may feel short of breath and struggle to take in enough oxygen. It can also cause quick and shallow breathing, where minimal air is taken in, which can lead to hyperventilation. This is more likely if someone is prone to anxiety and panic attacks.

Stress wreaks havoc on our immune systems. Cortisol released in our bodies suppresses the immune system and inflammatory pathways, and we become more susceptible to infections and chronic inflammatory conditions. Our ability to fight off illness is reduced.

The musculoskeletal system is also affected. Our muscles tense up, which is the body’s natural way of protecting ourselves from injury and pain. Repeated muscle tension can cause bodily aches and pains, and when it occurs in the shoulders, neck and head it may result in tension headaches and migraines.

Stress can lead to migraines. (www.shutterstock.com)

There are cardiovascular effects. When stress is acute (in the moment), heart rate and blood pressure increase, but they return to normal once the acute stress has passed. If acute stress is repeatedly experienced, or if stress becomes chronic (over a long period of time) it can cause damage to blood vessels and arteries. This increases the risk for hypertension, heart attack or stroke.

The endocrine system also suffers. This system plays an important role in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism and reproductive processes. Our metabolism is affected. The hypothalamus is located in the brain and it plays a key role in connecting the endocrine system with the nervous system. Stress signals coming from the hypothalamus trigger the release of stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine, and then blood sugar (glucose) is produced by the liver to provide you with energy to deal with the stressful situation. Most people reabsorb the extra blood sugar when the stress subsides, but for some people there is an increased risk of diabetes.

Stress can have some unpleasant gastrointestinal effects. We might experience heartburn and acid reflux especially if we have changed our eating habits to eat more or less, or increased our consumption of fatty and sugary foods. The ability of our intestines to absorb nutrients from our food may be reduced. We may experience stomach pain, bloating and nausea, diarrhoea or constipation.

There can be problems with our reproductive systems too. For men, chronic stress may affect the production of testosterone and sperm. It may even lead to erectile dysfunction or impotence. Women can experience changes to their menstrual cycles and increased premenstrual symptoms.

Stress has marked effects on our emotional well-being. It is normal to experience high and low moods in our daily lives, but when we are stressed we may feel more tired, have mood swings or feel more irritable than usual. Stress causes hyperarousal, which means we may have difficulty falling or staying asleep and experience restless nights. This impairs concentration, attention, learning and memory, all of which are particularly important around exam time. Researchers have linked poor sleep to chronic health problems, depression and even obesity.

Losing sleep affects your ability to learn. (www.shutterstock.com)

The way that we cope with stress has an additional, indirect effect on our health. Under pressure, people may adopt more harmful habits such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs to relieve stress. But these behaviours are inappropriate ways to adapt and only lead to more health problems and risks to our personal safety and well-being.

So learn to manage your stress, before it manages you. It’s all about keeping it in check. Some stress in life is normal – and a little stress can help us to feel alert, motivated, focused, energetic and even excited. Take positive actions to channel this energy effectively and you may find yourself performing better, achieving more and feeling good.

Holly Blake, Associate Professor of Behavioural Science, University of Nottingham



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