Anxiety and Avoidance Behaviours

BY AYESHA KHALID

Despite my struggles with anxiety, I am lucky to have a strong support group around me – people I can reach out to when I am feeling stressed or in pain. I know that this is not always the case for some people who do not have social support and become very isolated; their road to recovery is much more difficult than mine.

But even with this support available, when I am struggling, it can be hard for me to reachf486b16e222ac0aa_dv1080013.preview.jpg out to others. I do not always take help when it is offered. There are a lot of reasons why I hold back. Partially, it is because talking to others means that I have to confront whatever is causing me distress, and I would rather avoid thinking about it. Another reason is because I feel bad for dumping all of my problems onto someone else. I know I shouldn’t feel bad, but I imagine it’s kind of exhausting to listen to someone talk about their problems all the time. I don’t want to be that person who is constantly complaining, so I hold a lot in.

So instead of reaching out if my anxiety/pain is getting worse, my first instinct is to retreat. To run away, to get into bed, to pull the covers over me and block out the rest of the world. A part of me thinks that maybe if I avoid my problems they will disappear, and by the time I get out of bed everything will be okay again.

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Stress: The good, the bad and the chronic

BY ZAKIYA KASSAM

The word “stress” is one that carries an extremely negative connotation. Being stressed is rarely perceived a positive thing, but the alternative – being stress-lessNervous_Man_Approach_Anxiety – can be harmful to your physical and emotional health as well.

Most people don’t realize that we need stress in our bodies in order to feel vital and excited. When your palms sweat upon seeing your crush, when you get butterflies in your stomach upon starting a new job, when you’re about to take a penalty shot and you can feel your heartbeat in your ears, these are all natural and manageable responses. These are also examples of positive stress or “eustress.” Without eustress, we wouldn’t be ambitious, motivated, or excited. These are all part of the ups in life that push us forward and shape our emotional development. 
 
Everyone experiences stress, and whether you’re experiencing it positively or negatively, stress can be taxing on your body and ultimately harmful to your long-term health. But your body is equipped to deal with the majority of your stress, so long as it’s acute. When your stress shifts from short-term to long-term however, this is called chronic stress. After a period of being chronically stressed, the body’s ability to return to homeostasis (its pre-stress state) becomes dulled. 

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The Power of Movement Returns to Toronto on March 6

BY ZAKIYA KASSAM

On Sunday, March 6th, the Power of Movement returns to Toronto. The Power of Movement is Canada’s largest yoga fundraiser, benefiting 4.6 million Canadians living
with arthritis and autoimmune illnesses. Proceeds from this event will go towards
 the Arthritis Research Foundation. 
 
Since this event aims to bolster awareness, let’s be aware! So what is an autoimmune disease? autoimmune-01.png
 
There are more than eighty known types of autoimmune diseases, which can affect almost any organ, gland, muscle, or nerve in the body – regardless of age or gender. When you have an autoimmune disorder, your body’s immune system is essentially attacking and destroying healthy body tissue by mistake. These illnesses often present themselves in ways that are non-specific and as a result, go unnoticed or untreated. Autoimmune disorders have become one of the leading causes of death and disability in the Western world. 

Coping with Stress at School

BY AYESHA KHALID

There are only a few weeks of the semester left, and I have entered into full-fledged panicbooks.jpg mode. My reading week was not exactly as productive as I had hoped. I’ve had insomnia, which prevented me from getting up in the morning and caused me to be pretty exhausted through out the day – making it really difficult for me to focus on work. I did try to get as much done as possible, but I am still behind in a lot of things.

It doesn’t help that every week from now to the end of the semester I have tests, deadlines, and quizzes I have to prepare for. I made an attempt to plan out my week today, but had to stop because I realized I was trying to fit too much in. Despite this, rather than avoiding work or giving up, I always try to focus on strategies that can help me out and reduce some of my stress. Here are a few strategies I use when I am stressed about school:

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Better late than never! (Jogging tips for late-in-lifers)

BY ZAKIYA KASSAM

By now, I’m sure everyone is familiar with the term “runner’s high” and the vast lacing.jpgemotional benefits of jogging. I started going for runs this past December in an effort to ease some of my winter blues and haven’t looked backed since. I’m hoping this habit will stick because unlike medication or supplements, the emotional benefits of running can be noticed almost immediately.

According to an article on Shape magazine’s website, the illusive runner’s high is a result of the release of endocannabinoids (not endorphins!), which are chemicals we produce in-house that are activated by physical exertion. The release of endocannabinoids depends on the intensity and duration of the exertion. According to Shape, most people need to run a minimum of 20 minutes before they start to feel the benefits. This of course varies from person to person.

Here are some tips for late-in-life joggers like myself.

Before you start:

  • Make sure you’re aware of proper form: keep your arms above chest level, your hands relaxed, and maintain good posture. Remember to take short, light steps. Keeping your body relaxed can help you to avoid feeling sore later. Also, pay attention to the way your feet hit the ground. Try to land in the middle of your foot and bounce into your next step.
  • Map out your jogging trail before you go. I walked mine beforehand, just to make sure where I was running was safe, practical, and private. Steer clear of uneven surfaces.
  • Make a playlist. I found it difficult to motivate myself, especially the first few times, to even get out the door. It’s cold outside, you have a headache, you haven’t slept enough, this is your only day off, your cat will miss you, your hair will get sweaty: there are infinite reasons to stay home with a bag of chips, and any one of those reasons can quickly become the deciding factor. I found music to be a helpful motivator, so I would save my newest downloads to listen to on run days. It was something to look forward to and I found the right kind of music really got my energy up.

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