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Work, family, finances and even the performance of Norwich City can all contribute to your stress levels. But what do you know about stress and how it affects your body?

1. Can your hair turn grey overnight with stress?

a) Researchers found stress can make your hair turn grey overnight.
b) Researchers found stress won’t make your hair grey overnight, but it can make it go black.
c) There is no research to suggest stress can turn your hair grey overnight.
d) Research has found stress can make your hair turn grey, but it takes months not hours.

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Correct answer: c) There is no research to suggest stress can turn your hair grey overnight.
Your hair colour is determined by melanocytes, which are found in the hair follicle in your scalp. Normally these pigment-producing cells die and are replaced throughout life. Fewer replacement cells are produced as we age, causing hairs to be produced without colour (ie grey hair). No one knows why the sometimes suddenly lose their colour at the same time. There is however little research to suggest that stress has any role in making your hair turn grey, it has much more to do with genetics than lifestyle. However, some rare illnesses, which are not stress related, can make you lose all your pigmented hair overnight and leave you with only white or grey hair.

2. German researchers found that sports fans watching the 2006 soccer World Cup had an increased risk of:

a) Coronary events.
b) Relationship breakdown.
c) Cancer.
d) Stomach disorders.

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Correct answer: a) Coronary events.
Research from the 2006 soccer World Cup suggests that for some people the excitement and stress of watching certain sporting events can cause coronary events. German researchers compared the rate of heart emergencies around Munich in the month of the 2006 World Cup to other months of the year and to the same month in non-World Cup years. They also compared games where Germany was playing to those where it wasn’t. They found that matches involving Germany produced a four-fold increase in coronary events in people with known heart disease, and a doubling in risk in those with no prior coronary history.

3. Stressful events can trigger your body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. Which hormones are involved in this response?

a) Adrenalin and cortisol.
b) Cortisol and oxytocin.
c) Oxytocin and adrenalin.
d) Oxytocin and testosterone.

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Correct answer: a) Adrenalin and cortisol.
Stress is not always a bad thing. Our ‘fight or flight’ motivates to us respond to perceived threats in our environment. When you perceive a threat your brain sends a message to your adrenal glands, which are situated near your kidneys. Your adrenal glands then produce a number of hormones including adrenalin and cortisol that essentially trigger your ‘fight or flight’ response. Oxytocin, sometimes known as the ‘feel good’ hormone, plays a key role in childbirth and breastfeeding and is suppressed by adrenaline. Testosterone – the male sex hormone – can be produced by men under stress but is generally not considered a core hormone in the ‘fight or flight’ response.

4. Only some people who experience or witness a traumatic event develop Acute Stress Disorder (ASD).Which of the following factors is least likely to influence your chances of developing ASD?

a) Your exposure to traumatic events in the past.
b) Your age when you experienced the traumatic event.
c) How long the traumatic event lasted.
d) How much social support was provided in the weeks after the event.

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Correct answer: b) Your age when you experienced the traumatic event.
Acute stress disorder (ASD) can follow any kind of trauma, for example a violent event (such as sexual assault or attack), a natural disaster, an accident, or even the death of a loved one. Anyone can develop ASD, regardless of their age, gender, or ethnic background, but very few people actually do. Some of the factors that will determine whether you are likely to develop ASD include; the nature of the trauma (it’s most likely after violence and sexual assault and least likely after natural disasters); whether you’ve experienced traumatic events in the past (it’s more likely if they have); how exposed you were to the traumatic event and how long it lasted; and how much social support you had in the weeks following the event.

5. Resilience is our capacity to recover from life’s ups and downs. Which of the following statements are untrue?

a) Some of us are born more resilient than others but resilience can definitely be taught.
b) Good early relationships can make children more resilient.
c) The first four years of life are especially important to the development of resilience.
d) Your level of resilience is determined before birth and cannot be changed very much.

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Correct answer: d) Your level of resilience is determined before birth and cannot be changed very much.
Fifty years ago, psychologists believed resilience was somehow inborn. But there is now good evidence that while some of us are born more sensitive or resilient than others, resilience can definitely be taught – and the earlier it starts the better. There are a variety of factors that can help children learn resilience and good relationships with care-givers is one of them. There is evidence what happens in the first four years of life is very important because critical aspects of the brain’s development happen over that period.

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