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December 7, 2020 at 11:38 am

New York Times Quotes Zoccola on How Teens Use Downtime

Dr. Peggy Zoccola, portrait in office

Dr. Peggy Zoccola

The New York Times quotes Dr. Peggy Zoccola, Associate Professor of Psychology at Ohio University, in a story headlined How Teens Use Downtime to Connect, Distract or Reflect.

Happy distractions may be a particularly apt choice when teenagers find themselves dogged by worries about school, peers, rising Covid-19 rates or anything else. Peggy Zoccola, an associate professor of psychology at Ohio University who studies the impact of stress and coping on the body, has found that ruminating over unpleasant events raises blood pressure and heart rate and triggers the ongoing release of stress hormones. Distraction, however, stops or attenuates the biological stress response. “It’s important,” she says, “to be able to recover and not always be pumping out these stress hormones.”

In fact, transporting diversions can be useful in two ways at once. According to Dr. Zoccola, they both draw our minds away from negative events that can trigger our biological stress response and at the same time pull them toward positive experiences that may prompt the release of natural mood-improving substances in the body that work much like opioids to help us feel better.

Read the New York Times story.

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