In the space of a couple of weeks, there have been several stories focussing on stress. There was news that January 24 is the most depressing day of the year based on a mathematical formula that crunches when the bills come in from Christmas, the average time to have passed before New Year’s resolutions will have lapsed etc. etc. Today there was news that blood pressure rises on Mondays as we return to work. The study was published by the Tokyo Women’s Medical University, where it would probably also have been no problem to reassure us that the sun also rises in the East each day.

A couple of weeks ago, however, a very interesting study from the sports pyschologists of Hull University found that congnitive function and the ability to deal with stress was improved by hardship, specifically immersion in cold water. Endurance athletes such as Paula Radcliffe are well known for using cold showers, although hers is reportedly more to help with preventing muscle injury after training.

Dr Peter Clough, who ran this study, should be followed closely as his specialist interests, apart from those derived from sports psychology, are risk taking, and the effect on subsequent decision making of success and failure.

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