Monday, March 29, 2021

 Motivation for Volunteering and Stress

Having too many motivations for volunteering can lead to added stress

When someone decides to volunteer for an organization they usually have at least one personal motivation for doing so.  A person may be motivated by their values, their desire to better understand other people, to meet a personal challenge or to show concern and empathy for others.  Despite these good intentions, volunteering does have a downside because it costs time and can be stressful.  Generally when people feel they have achieved their personal motivations, however, they report feeling less stress and very satisfied with their volunteering experience.  If achieving personal motivations reduces the stress associated with volunteering, would people with more than just one motivation to volunteer be more likely to enjoy their volunteering experience?  To answer this question, researchers conducted three experiments that compared volunteers who had just one or multiple motives for volunteering.

What was the research about?
The first experiment included 282 volunteers in an AIDS service organization who provided emotional support and day-to-day assistance to people with HIV/AIDS.  These volunteers completed an initial survey immediately before they began their volunteering duties, and then completed a follow-up survey 6 months later.  The initial survey asked the volunteers to indicate their personal motivations for choosing to volunteer.  The follow-up survey asked volunteers to report the stress they experienced while volunteering and how much volunteering had cost them (e.g., taking up too much time).  The follow-up survey also asked volunteers to report how much each of their motivations for volunteering had been fulfilled and how satisfied they felt about their experience.  Results showed that volunteers who had more than one motivation for volunteering reported experiencing more stress, more costs, less satisfaction and less fulfillment of their motivations compared to volunteers who had just one motivation for volunteering.  The second experiment also found these same results with a sample of 146 hospice volunteers.

The third experiment actually manipulated how many motivations participants had for volunteering.  Before they took part in a “volunteer activity” (stuffing envelopes for an environmental organization), participants read a testimonial supposedly written by another volunteer explaining why he had volunteered for the environmental organization.  Participants were instructed to use this testimonial to “get in the mindset” before they stuffed envelopes.  The testimonial contained either one or two motivations for volunteering.  After stuffing envelopes for 15 minutes participants indicated how much their motivations for volunteering (as read in the testimonial) were satisfied.  Results showed that participants who had only read about one motivation for volunteering reported more satisfaction.

Why should it matter to me?

Our time is a very precious commodity; therefore, when you actually do have the time to volunteer you may want to ask yourself exactly what your motivation for volunteering really is before you commit yourself.  If you have one single strong motivation to volunteer, chances are you will enjoy the experience more than if you have a variety of motivations.  Why might this be so?  One reason may be that people who have multiple motivations to volunteer just can’t satisfy any one of those motivations very much, therefore, they just don't enjoy the activity as much as a person who has one clear reason for volunteering.  So in the future, make sure you know why you are volunteering and you will probably feel much more fulfilled.

Source: Kiviniemi, Marc T., Snyder, Mark & Omoto, Allen M. (2002). Too Many of a Good Thing?  The Effeccts of Multiple Motivations on Stress, Cost, Fulfillment & Satisfaction. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 732-743. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

 Stress and Heart Problems

Certain types of stress responses in men may be linked to heart problems

Responding to stressful situations with anger, hostility, and aggression can have adverse health consequences. This form of responding, referred to as the AHA! syndrome, seems to be related to coronary heart disease. People who respond in this way are more likely to have elevated total serum cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins, two risk factors for the development of coronary heart disease. Researchers at the University of Ballarat and Curtin University of Technology in Australia recently published the results from a study aimed at identifying the specific parts of the AHA! syndrome that are related to total serum cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins.

What was the research about?
Ninety-eight healthy, 22- to 57-year-old, male employees of a large oil and gas company based in Australia participated in the study. The participants responded to questionnaires measuring a variety of personal characteristics related to the AHA! syndrome and general health. Total serum cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins levels were also recorded.

The results showed that the tendency to feel angry and act in an angry way in response to being frustrated, criticized, or treated unfairly was associated with having elevated levels of total serum cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins. Moreover, although age and saturated-fat intake were also related to these risk factors, the association with the anger response was actually stronger. 

Thus, men who typically feel angry and act in an angry way in response to being frustrated, criticized, or treated unfairly may have greater risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Why should it matter to me?
Men who respond to stressful situations in this way may have a greater chance of developing coronary heart disease, and consequently, may want to try responding to stressful situations with less anger, hostility, and aggression.

Source: Richards, J. C., Hof, A., Alvarenga, M. (2000). Serum lipids and their relationships with hostility and angry affect and behaviors in men. Health Psychology, 19, 393-398.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021


Brain training sounds good, but it does not work!

According to the Georgia Tech Attention and Working Memory Lab, brain training tested in a well-controlled study provides no benefit to improving brain function and/or memory retention. Although disappointing, it helps to understand the two types of memory function and how we can cope with declining memory.

One is what is called “crystallized intelligence”, which is all the knowledge you have learned in school, job, or languages you speak.

The other is “fluid intelligence”, which is the biological side of intelligence. This will be your actions when you have not learned what to do and your ability to solve complex problems you have never faced using complex reasoning.

Unfortunately, “fluid intelligence” is heritable and biological and grows until around age 22 and then evens out until around age 40 and then drops like a rock. The theory is the myelin sheaths surrounding our neurons in the pre-frontal cortex start to deteriorate releasing chemicals to affect the surrounding neurons, which is also an underlying theory for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Crystallized intelligence” continues for the rest of your life and even at age 75 your vocabulary will be as high as it ever was, maybe higher.

But the real problem is as we age we lose our ability to focus or attempt attention control. This multitasking world is a myth. Not only have you lost most of your “Fluid intelligence”, but your ability to focus is diminished. Since “Fluid intelligence” is most correlated with short term memory control and has diminished so much, no one can multi-task or divide your attention effectively or efficiently. You can only handle one task at a time. No one has enough “fluid intelligence” that they can text and drive at the same time.

What do we do? Simple, aerobic exercise. Not weight lifting or calisthenics, but aerobic exercise. A 30-minute brisk walk daily will do the trick. Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain and there is also a gene called a “brain derived neurotropic factor” that leads to the formation of new blood cells.

So don’t think you are smarter and getting more accomplished by multi-tasking, you are just shifting your brief attention span around and more than likely screwing something up vs. concentrating on one task at a time and getting it right!

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Monday, March 8, 2021


Stress Less® Worldview
The world is actually changing right before our eyes and whether we like it or not, we both benefit and suffer at the same time!
We are all witnessing the first and only "coming together" of the global economic system where we can see on a daily basis the "cause and effects" of different countries/economies (European Union) and how these changes affects on our own lives and personal finances.
The "Globalization" of technologies that connect us like satellites, cables, wireless, internet, mobile phones etc. have created an instantaneous communication that was predicted and now is real and operating. Continents, countries, unions, republics, states, cities, towns, households, families, and individuals are now able to connect, communicate, trade, educate or negotiate in an instant.
On one level it is a marvelous feat of engineering to be able to connect to anyone in the world, anytime you choose. On the other level, it begins a period of "uncharted waters" where we try to sort out how this system will really work and what are the real affects it will have on our societies and personal lives.
Stress is basically described as your competence or level of control you feel that you have on your situation. When you lose this control, you experience various  degrees of stress. As an example, you have a checking account and have enough money in the bank to feel good. However, when that money is depleted and bills are still due, for any number of reasons, you begin to feel the stress. And as the money is reduced, your stress levels go up in proportion. If you have the ability to control the situation and replenish your account, you may go back to feeling less stress. However, when you have no ability to refurbish your bank account, you begin to experience chronic stress and this starts an internal release of hormones/chemicals that will eventually destroy your body and reduce your life span, unless you learn how to manage your stress levels.
Control is everything! However, now that the day-to-day level of control is being driven by the instantaneous worldwide system we have built, we are not sure of how we can control our levels of stress. In a split second, the floor can come out from  just a tiny event. A small, apparently insignificant, place in the world could affect each of us or maybe a select few. We have no control over this and it is exacerbated by everyone having exposure to this event and their potential reactions.
So, how can we solve this dilemma? First and foremost, understand your stress level and what causes them.
 Learn  different stress management techniques you can incorporate into your daily life (breathing, meditation, visualization ,relaxation, prayer, etc.). Expand your worldview to incorporate our new global reality and that all people come from the same place, and most think similar thoughts and share the same emotional makeup and aspirations to succeed and be good in life.
Try to adopt a "healthy" lifestyle with a good combination of diet, exercise, sleep and relaxation.
And maybe most important, have a good basic level of "trusted and true" friends in a social network that you can talk to and socialize with. Have a "confidant" you can release your frustrations and feelings to and try to get a good "feedback" relationship where your trusted secrets are shared with each other or a group.
The world is moving fast and all we can do is just hang on and do our part to fit in without getting overwhelmed, because eventually "good will and fairness"  will overcome the "evil" in human affairs.
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Monday, March 1, 2021

 "It's amazing how good you can feel, when your mind is in shape"®

This is what it is all about..learning how to use your mind to control your thoughts and your actions! Although things do and will happen to you, it is how your perceive those situations and adjust to them is what makes you successful.
Just think, if exercise were a pill, it would be the most prescribed pharmaceutical in the world!. We all know and understand the value of exercise for good health and prevention. It's just that the majority of people give it lip service and do nothing. Add to that the increased technology that gives us more time to sit and work/play on the computer and watch videos/TV, then it is easy to see how that two thirds of the US population is either overweight or obese from being sedentary.
Have you ever noticed the first thing the contestants say on "The Biggest Loser" TV show after they start to lose significant weight? Yep, it is how good they feel now. That is because they used their mind to convince themselves that they could lose the weight (financial incentives certainly help) and only because they devoted their willpower, did anything get accomplished.
We all have it sitting right between our ears. The most powerful machine in the world-your mind! If you can understand how it works and program your thoughts to achieve your goals and aspirations, then you will literally feel the power come to fruition and your life will change forever. It all rests with you.
One of the great all time advertising campaigns was for the United Negro College Fund with the theme line "A mind is a terrible thing to waste"! How true, not just for one race, but for all humanity. It really is a shame how many folks go to their graves either not knowing how to tap into this powerful force or refusing to put in the time and effort to program it. It truly becomes a total waste of potential and a fulfilled life.
Start to concentrate on yourself and training your mind for positive results and you will widen your worldview and benefit from all the wonderful beauty this world has to offer....and you will feel better as a result!
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