Archived entries for stress

day one

So much about which to blog. So little energy left. So I’ll give a quick rundown.

Today marked my official first day of work at the Neurosciences Institute. Finally, NSI has become a place where living, breathing people do incredible science instead of a series buildings that had been entering my dreams on an increasingly regular basis.

Although I included a nearly identical photograph in an earlier entry about the Institute, this picture was taken with my camera.

Upon arrival, I had some lunch (catered by NSI, tasty, intended to encourage interdepartmental dialogue) with Dr. John Iversen, one of Ani’s colleagues and the second researcher involved with this summer’s NICU project. Towards the end of lunch, Ani met up with me and we ventured to Rady Children’s Hospital to meet with Dr. Gail Knight. The three of us went over some of the more logistical things regarding the study, and then Ani and I returned to NSI. I got acclimated to my office, and that was pretty much it for day one. Today, it became clearer than ever the degree of intelligence that will surround me this summer. I’m already honored.

After work, I took an extremely congested route to join UCSD’s gym and it took me approximately thirty-five minutes in rush hour traffic. Upon arrival, the receptionist told me a much easier way to get there: drive two blocks. Thanks, GPS. Your system may have succeeded at positioning me globally, but it lacked efficiency, to say the least. Stressed, frustrated, and a little stir crazy from the car (I need to get used to the amount of time I’m going to spend in a vehicle), I went to the Torrey Pines Glider Port.

Before I left the house this morning, Penny suggested that I go there, and this suggestion was seconded and thirded by  gentlemen at lunch. I sat down, read, and slowly ate my dinner (avocado, tomato, mozzarella, caramelized onion sandwich on baguette bread). There is nothing like an hour and a half of listening to the ocean while watching the sun pierce the clouds to relax you. It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Pacific Ocean. Hopefully next time we can get a little more intimate.

I would say that my destress period was perfect, save for one detail. I didn’t have headphones and could not listen to the music that I craved: Sigur Ros.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sUVm77WjE0

When I finally returned home, I was catching Jay and Penny up on my adventures when the phone rang. One of their lovely family friends called to let me know that PBS was airing a NOVA program called “Musical Minds.” We watched it together; blog entry on the topic to come soon.

Stress 101

While I was waiting for my parents to pick me at Haverford, I started reading Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping by Robert Sapolsky, a book Ani assigned to me to introduce some of the concepts we would be dealing with this summer. I haven’t gotten far yet, but the entertaining and approachable writing makes me excited about progressing through the book.

The beginning of the book had already altered the way I think about stress. Sapolsky remarks that the stress-response is the set of bodily reactions that is intended to help the body return to homeostasis after experience of or in anticipation of a stressor. Most humans have very few of the acute and chronic physical stressors that plague animals like having to hunt their food, but all animals have adapted ways to effectively cope with these stressors. Much of human stress is chronic psychological and social turmoil that never manifests physically, and this tends to lead to physical illness. The energy that is expended on the stress response cannot contribute to development and maintenance of other vital bodily functions like the immune system.

The directly relates to the population of babies that I will be working with this summer because the stress of cardiac surgery and of constant NICU stimuli effects their growth and development. Music certainly has the potential to reduce stress, and stress reduction is particularly important for babies, especially those that are at risk. And now, a lullaby rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUWvYFRCm8o



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