Practicing healthy habits regularly helps ease stress during stressful times

Assumption College Undergraduate

Assumption undergraduate psychology students take courses like PSY 140 Psychology of Personality and PSY 335 Motivation and Emotion as they pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology. They also study the effect of stress on the body and mind, and how different people respond.

Assumption Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Sarah Cavanagh researches psychological and biological processes in healthy and disrupted emotion regulation.

“My research program hinges on the idea that understanding patterns of emotional reactivity and regulation can illuminate trajectories of risk (for psychopathology) and resilience (indexed by positive life outcomes such as increased well-being),” Cavanagh writes.

Cavanagh is currently collaborating with Drs. Carl Fulwiler of University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Psychiatry Department, Philipp Opitz of University of Southern California, Jeffrey Birk of Columbia University, and Heather Urry of Tufts University to “identify predictors of who might respond best to mindfulness intervention, and to optimize treatment response for individuals suffering from depression and anxiety disorders such as PTSD.”

New research out of the University of Southern California, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology also finds that the regular habits kept while not under stress are the same outlets they run to when they’re under stress.

Researcher Wendy Wood, professor of psychology and business at USC, studied the habits of college students, and found that under stressful situations, individuals went deeper into their habits, regardless if they were healthy or unhealthy. This means, if a person is used to eating ice cream on the couch after dinner, the research found they were more likely to go right to such an act as a source of stress relief. On the other hand, it also means that if a person regularly exercises, they are more likely to turn to the gym as a form of stress relief.

This research encourages college students to practice healthy living when they’re not facing deadlines and exams, so when they do face those stressful situations they’ll turn to healthy vices such as the gym rather than a pint of their favorite ice cream.

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