couples here on earth

Are men from mars, women from venus? April 1, 2008 — Functional magnetic resonance imaging of men and women here on earth who are under stress showed neuroscientists how their brains differed in response to stressful situations. In men, increased blood flow to the left orbitofrontal cortex suggested activation of the “fight or flight” response. In women, stress activated the limbic system, which is associated with emotional responses.

Many other things may contribute to stress responses in all people, but the results here are interesting and may indicate why some couples argue. A question, request, or perceived criticism or threat in a conversation or daily activity is a form of stress. If the man in this hypothetical couple feels threatened or stressed by the topic or situation – his reaction may be to defend himself and somehow run away from the issue, for example by changing the subject or shifting the focus away from himself – fight and/or flight. Meanwhile the female is responding emotionally to this evasion and denial. Result – argument…

In general – the study may suggest that keeping stress down in our lives will reduce the anxiety in some people who feel always a little on edge – on that fight or flight response line about many things in their day. Or, because of a general level of stress, emotions are just under the surface, can erupt, and play a larger role in behaviors than may be effective or appropriate.

STRESS-REDUCING TIPS: There are several easy, practical things people can do to reduce the amount of stress in their lives. (1) Be realistic and don’t try to be perfect, or expect others to be so. (2) Don’t over-schedule; cut out an activity or two when you start to feel overwhelmed. (3) Get a good night’s sleep. (4) Get regular exercise to manage stress — just not excessive or compulsive exercise — and follow a healthy diet. (5) Learn to relax by building time into your schedule for reading or a nice long bath.

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