Stress management | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy

– [Instructor] Okay, so in this video, I wanna talk about coping with stress. So coping, coping with stress because most of the info
so far in this playlist has been pretty terrible news and I wanna shift over
to some more fun topics like how do we start to alleviate some of the stress that’s
constantly pounding us down and the first area that I wanna talk about is perceived control. So perceived control. And many studies have shown
that a perceived lack of control is associated with higher rates of stress. So Dr. Robert Sapolsky
showed this with baboons who have social hierarchy structures that are quite similar to humans and based off blood samples and study and stress hormone levels. He determined that those primates at the bottom of the barrel socially experience much more stress
than the ruling, elite baboons and then similarly, a human
study called the Whitehall Study showed the exact same effect in humans based off relative rank in
the workplace over in Britain and so it makes good physiological sense based on the understanding that our body responds to perceived threats through that choreographed stress response that we’ve been talking about and then a lack of control is
certainly a perceived threat. So it makes sense that
low socioeconomic status and lack of control increase stress and one suggestion made
by Dr. Robert Sapolsky to respond to this is to
look for areas of your life where you can take a little
bit of that control back. So to be the king of your own castle and maybe this is captaining
your work softball team or securing a leadership
position in your community or even scheduling out
events that stress you out so that you feel in control
when it’s time to complete them, you actually making the schedule but perceived control can
help us cope with stress and then the next big area is optimism and Dr. Patch Adams was
certainly an advocate of laughter as the best kind of
medicine in that 1990s film but that advice is probably not trivial and many studies have
connected humor and optimism with decreased stress and so it’s probably much
easier said than done but nurturing an optimistic outlook can be a great way to cope with stress. So we’ve got perceived
control and we’ve got optimism and then the next one is
through social support. Social support is the next
coping mechanism for stress and it’s one of the best
coping mechanisms of stress because deep connectedness
allows us to confide those painful or difficult feelings and that allows us to
understand that we’re not alone in many of those feelings and this can contribute to
our perception of control and our optimism. Also, supportive communities are associated with
better eating and exercise and sleeping patterns. So some examples of social supports that have been verified by studies to positively benefit stress
coping include marriage, domesticated animals like
puppy dogs and kitty cats and close friendships. So social support, optimism
and perceived control are all great coping mechanisms
for dealing with stress but while all the coping mechanisms can help us experience less stress, sometimes those stressors are unavoidable and we simply need to manage them so I also wanna talk
about managing stress. So managing stress and
when the stress is there, how do we manage it? And the first stress management tool that I wanna talk about is exercise. So exercise and exercise
gives us the ability to decrease our chance
of cardiovascular disease because exercise is gonna contribute to our increased cerebrovascular health with our brain and our
hearts and our blood vessels and it’s gonna increase neurogenesis. It’s gonna help us grow
new neurons and processes but you can’t just be a weekend warrior. You need to exercise daily. So 20 to 30 minutes daily is suggested in order to get those
cardiovascular effects that we want and also, regular exercise
especially for stress relief requires a good amount of planning so you’re gonna have to plan because we’re gonna have to shove aside a lot of the stressors
that we’re combating just to make time for this exercise. So we’ve got exercise and then
we’ve also got meditation. Meditation, we can put meditation in our stress management tool belt and this is gonna help
us lower our heart rate and our blood pressure and our cholesterol and it’s kind of hard to
have a symbol for meditation but the best one that I could come up with is this om symbol ’cause
when I think of meditation, I think of that om sound and
this is the Hindu om symbol but note the literature is still out on the persistence of these
effects related to meditation and it’s kind of obvious
that the kind of people who choose to meditate are
already responding to stress a bit differently but still,
it has shown great results in combating the negative
cardiovascular effects of stress so we’re gonna put that in our tool belt. We’ve got meditation and then we’ve also got
religious beliefs and faith. It’s actually a nightmare
of political correctness to come up with a symbol for
religious beliefs and faith so I’m gonna try to choose
one that’s maybe less obvious. I wanna offend as few people as possible. We’ll put the yin and the yang up there and this might be correlated, this religious belief and faith
aspect of stress management might be correlated with a generalized kinda healthier lifestyle because excessive alcohol and tobacco use are generally frowned upon by many of the big world religions and then another big part of
faith based stress management are the social supports that are usually associated
with these places of worship but again, we’re gonna put this in our stress management tool belt and then the last area
that I wanna talk about is cognitive flexibility. So cognitive flexibility. So cognitive flexibility is
gonna give us the ability to take one step back
and kinda reformulate the way that we’re approaching the stress if it’s not working, if the way we’re approaching
it is not working. So as an example of this, the serenity prayer is kind
of this mantra used a lot in 12 step meetings. So it goes something like,
Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. And so the benefit of perspective change is huge in our body’s
perception of stressors, of what is stressing us out and how we’re responding
with our stress reactions. Often, the limiting
reagent in this situation is the wisdom part and so a good way to work on this area is through some outside help, maybe especially somebody
that’s professionally trained in psychological
healthcare like a counselor but cognitive flexibility is gonna be put into our
stress management tool belt. So we have four great areas that we can focus on stress management when those stressors are just there and we’ve got three areas up top with stress coping that
will hopefully help us reduce some of the stress
that’s in our life.

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