Pre-presentation butterflies might make you want to heave… but that might actually be a good thing, if you think about them the right way. Reframing stress as something positive can help boost your performance, according to a new study published in Clinical Psychological Science.
Researchers asked 69 participants to deliver five-minute presentations on their strengths and weaknesses. Before the speeches, the scientists lectured half of the participants on the advantages of stress. They encouraged the participants to think of symptoms like sweaty palms as an evolutionary advantage that helps deliver oxygen to the body parts that need it. Throughout the speeches, administrators shook their heads and scowled at each presenter’s performance—regardless of how they were doing.
After, researchers distributed anxiety questionnaires and assessed each participant’s heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow, and blood resistance—all measures of stress. Those who’d been prepped on the benefits of stress reported feeling more prepared to face the task at hand. Plus, their hearts pumped more blood with less resistance.
“Simply changing your mindset about what stress is can improve your stress response,” says lead author Jeremy Jamieson, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Rochester. If you think you have the resources to cope with a demanding situation, your body will see it as a challenge instead of a threat. This triggers the release of hormones that tell your heart to pump more blood to your body and brain, where it can help boost your performance, he says.
So how do you change your mindset? You can start by bookmarking this page! Just before you face a stressful situation–like a race, date, or interview–re-read it to reinforce that stress is good and can help you do better, not worse. Then, bring it!
If the idea of having something inserted into your body and leaving it there for years freaks you out, you can rest easy: A new study published in the May issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that the intrauterine device—a quarter-size, T-shaped contraption that sits inside the uterus—is a safe birth control method for women of any age, including teenagers. Among the study findings: less than once percent of users developed complications, and discontinuation rates were the same across all age groups (a tip-off that younger women experienced no greater side effects or dissatisfaction than older users did).
It’s welcome news, especially since IUDs are more than 99 percent effective at blocking pregnancy for up to 10 hassle-free years. Hopefully the study will put to rest longstanding rumors that IUDs are potentially harmful. Thinking of going to the gyno for your own IUD? Here’s what you need to know:
Complications are rare
Serious side effects from IUDs, such as ectopic pregnancy and pelvic inflammatory disease, occurred in less than one percent of the women in the new study, according to researchers. All birth control methods carry some health risks, of course. But as long as you don’t already have an STD or another infection when your gyno inserts the IUD—and you always use condoms if you’re not monogamous to reduce the odds of contracting one—there’s little to worry about, says Alyssa Dweck, an OBGYN in Mt. Kisco, NY, and coauthor of V Is for Vagina.
Inserting one shouldn’t be uncomfortable
An IUD works by sitting in your uterus and emitting either the hormone progestin or a small amount of copper, a natural spermicide. Getting either type in place requires a five-minute gyno visit, during which your doctor will fit it through your cervix and into the uterus. “Many women don’t feel a thing during insertion, while others experience a twinge or two of pain, like what you feel during a Pap test,” says Dweck. Taking an OTC painkiller beforehand and making the appointment during the last days of your period, when your cervix is naturally more open, will reduce discomfort.
It’s not just for moms
Doctors used to advise child-free women to chose another contraceptive method; the thinking was that since their uteruses hadn’t been stretched out during pregnancy, they were more prone to side effects like cramping and even having the IUD pop out and into the vagina. But these risks were always very small, says Dweck, and they’re practically nonexistent thanks to a new hormonal IUD called Skyla. Approved earlier this year, Skyla is smaller than other IUDs and is specifically designed to fit the less flexible uterus of a woman who hasn’t given birth.
You can remove it whenever you want
IUDs are a long-lasting form of birth control you don’t have to think about or fuss with, and that’s part of the appeal. The copper-emitting type, called Paraguard, can safely remain in the uterus for as long as 10 years. A second kind that administers a small dose of the hormone progestin, known as Mirena, can stay in for up to five years, while Skyla lasts for three. “Still, if you decide for any reason that you don’t want it in anymore, your gyno can remove it in a quick office visit, and your fertility will return with no problems,” says Dweck.
One type might make your period easier
Women who use the Mirena IUD tend to report easier, lighter, less crampy periods. On the other hand, some Paraguard users say that their flow is heavier, longer, and more painful. (Skyla hasn’t been on the market long enough to know for sure how it affects menstruation.) The benefits for your period may be why the new study found that hormonal IUDs were associated with fewer complications and lower discontinuation rates than copper IUDs.
They don’t cost as much as you think
True, the up-front fees of an IUD can run you $ 500 to $ 1,000, says Dweck (you’re paying for the device itself, as well as the doctor’s visit to insert it and then a follow-up visit six weeks later to make sure it’s in place). But many insurance plans cover part or all of the cost. And the initial hit to your pocketbook might end up being better in the long run than what you’ll pay shelling out each month for your pill prescription.
Wish you could know for sure if the guy you’re dating will end up having Hugh Jackman-level dad appeal? Well, if he’s sensitive, thoughtful, and supportive, you can breathe easy. The same qualities that make a guy a great boyfriend are the ones that will make him a good parent, according to a new study published online in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Researchers in the UK recruited 125 couples with kids between the ages of 7-8. The couples completed individual surveys to assess their romantic attachment style, their parenting habits, and how responsive they were to their partner. Researchers found that a secure attachment was associated with authoritative parenting—the ideal parenting style known for setting clear boundaries in a warm environment. They also found that responsive caregiving (things like picking up on your partner’s cues and showing support when needed) was the common link between the two.
Essentially, people with secure attachments showed more thoughtful behaviors like supportiveness and sensitivity, and those qualities carried over into their parenting. “Responsive caregiving is an important feature of loving relationships, and having that quality in a relationship with your partner means you’re more likely to also have it in one with your kids,” says lead study author Abigail Millings, Ph.D., research collaborator at the University of Brighton.
Hoping to decipher his dad potential? Keep an eye out for these good signs:
He knows when you need an ice-cream-and-sweatpants night
If your guy can tell when you’re having a rough day and always knows exactly how to cheer you up—he’s a keeper. Plus, he’ll probably be a great father. “Being tuned in to the other person and knowing what they might need in a given situation are known to be important in all attachment relationships—be they with partners, children, or friends,” says Millings. If he’s super attentive with you, he might be that good at anticipating the needs of your future kids.
He’s not bummed when plans change at the last second
Being adaptable is a great trait in a boyfriend—like when the restaurant loses your reservation and he swoops in with Chinese takeout—but it’s pretty much a requirement in a parent. If he keeps his cool when things go haywire now, chances are he’ll be better equipped to deal with unpredictable children down the line. “Look at if he manages change well,” says Susan Fletcher, Ph.D., author of Parenting in the Smart Zone. “You have to be adaptable in order to put someone else’s needs first.”
He still does his own thing
Scoring a secure attachment doesn’t mean you have to be that couple who can’t function without each other. In fact, a guy who gives up too much of himself in a relationship might not cope well when a few children are thrown into the mix. It’s healthy for him to hold on to his man cave and his Fantasy Football league. “It’s important to see that he can take care of his own needs and not just yours,” says Fletcher. “That’s the best predictor of if he’ll be able to do that with children.”
He supports you—but not too much
It sounds counterintuitive, but you don’t want your partner to be so supportive that he becomes a micromanager. Cheering you on and prepping you for an interview are great—but if he’s rewriting your resume and telling you what to wear, that may be going too far. “It’s possible to be there for you and still have boundaries,” says Fletcher. “If he’s too strong of a caretaker and protector, that may translate into his parenting.” To avoid ending up with a helicopter parent, look for a guy who’s helpful without being controlling.
He lets you know when he’s upset
Even if you’re generally on the same page with each other, you’re not a mind reader. So it helps to be with a guy who is open and honest when something is bothering him. If he’s that transparent in your relationship, he’ll probably be just as clear when it comes to setting boundaries with his children. Plus, being able to vocalize his feelings is a sign of emotional intelligence, which is crucial in parenting, says Fletcher.
Meeting someone new? Don’t skip the formalities. Shaking hands before a social interaction makes a more positive impression than a no-handshake greeting, according to an article to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
Researchers tracked the brain activity of people who watched and rated videos of non-verbal guest-host exchanges. During handshake exchanges, the results showed increased activity in the brain’s reward processing region, which the researchers say demonstrates a link between the positive impact of a handshake and social evaluation.
But a handshake is more than just part of a friendly introduction—it helps break the ice, too, says Patti Wood, body language expert and author of Snap, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma. Shaking hands began as peace offering—proof you didn’t have any weapons, Wood says. Nowadays it still has the same primal effect of breaking down the “stranger barrier,” she explains. Go without the handshake, however, and “it will take longer to feel comfortable and safe with someone,” she says.
Think your shake needs assistance? Wood says to start early when meeting someone new. “Put your hand out to prepare for a handshake at least four to six feet away from the person,” she says. That way your new acquaintance isn’t surprised by your gesture, and there’s no risk of crowding each other.
Want to avoid a weak grip or the embarrassing fingers-only fumble? “Pointing your fingers down and scooping into the palm of the other person’s hand will prevent them from grabbing too shallow or getting a wimpy handshake,” Wood says.
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I was quite shocked to open up my email today and see a message from Oxygen (well I wasn’t shocked about that part) but I was shocked what the message contained:
An announcement for Robert Kennedy’s death.
If you’re unfamiliar with Mr. Kennedy maybe you are familar with his work: his publishing company is responsible for such magazines as Oxygen; Glutes; Clean Eating, and this listen can go on pretty much all day.
To say he is a common name in the fitness world is an understatement.
When I first started getting in shape many moons ago, I found myself reading Oxygen all the time. I wanted to be one of those models… to have their bodies and their confidence. At the beginning of each issue, Mr. Kennedy always wrote a special “motivational letter” to us readers. He kept me coming back each month for a new one.
Then I picked up Tosca Reno’s book The Eat Clean Diet… Tosca is Robert’s wife and together these two have done wonders with the clean eating world. A few years back I had the opportunity to interview Tosca (you can hear it here).
At the time she was just getting big (now she’s huge) but she was so humble and nice. I can only assume that her husband was the same.
Robert Kennedy passed away at the age of 73 from a long battle with cancer, so sad. In our day in time, 73 is still so young.
So today, my thoughts and prayers are with the Kennedy family and friends.
Title image source: Oxygenmag.com