How to reduce fear & anxiety in 30 seconds . . .

Affect labeling—the act of naming one’s emotional state—helps blunt the immediate impact of negative feelings and begin the process of reducing stress.

In a small study* of 30 subjects, researchers conducted a series of brain-imaging experiments in which participants were shown frightening faces and asked to choose a word that described the emotion on display. Labeling the fear-inducing object appeared to:

  • Reduce activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain in which the fight or flight reflex originates
  • Increased activity in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, which is associated with vigilance and symbolic processing.
  • The brain’s perception of the images shifted from objects of fear to subjects of scrutiny.
  • Experientially, the fact that there is a name for what you’re going through means that other people have experienced it as well, which makes an overwhelming emotion feel less isolating.

How to “Affect label” 

30 seconds . . . as long as you don’t count the 15 minutes of moving.

*The University of California, Los Angeles. Study led by psychology professor Matthew Lieberman,

https://qz.com/989060/reduce-stress-and-anxiety-with-a-pen-and-this-simple-neuroscience-backed-trick/

My Maui

Anyone who has ever had a pet or watched wild critters knows animals are inspirational (I’m told there are even people who find reptiles, insects and other vermin fascinating – myself . . . I prefer mammals . . . but who’s to say . . .).

I had a horse, Misty, dogs and cats.  My last kitty Maui, long after his passing, has been particularly inspirational:

  • Maui inspired me to write his story as a children’s book to help children know that they too can flourish when they set their mind
  • Maui inspired Judy and I to create MAXyourMINDblog to share neuroscience research and how we can all live better lives harnessing the power of our own minds.
  • Maui’s story is proof the brain, including YOURS, is capable of “rewiring” and “repatterning”.

Maui was part Siamese and lived up to the breed’s reputation of being intelligent, playful, social and quite mischievous.  

Maui

I named him for the jokester god of the Hawaiian islands. What happened to him was no joke.

When Maui was 11 years old, he had a  blocked ureter.  The treating vet told me Maui would not live.  I brought him home and helplessly watched Maui do nothing but lay on the floor with his chin on his favorite water bowl.  He didn’t eat for days and his back legs were weak.
One day Maui couldn’t move his back legs at all. The vet had neglected to tell me that cats not eating for 3 days or more can lead to heart problems which can result in a clot that blocks the femoral artery. The blockage causes the back legs to not function.  A permanent condition.

 The vet repeated Maui could die at any time and suggested putting him down. I was distraught.

Hope against hope, I took Maui home and helplessly watched him drag around with his two front legs.  It took him one human year or 7 cat years to rewire his brain and regain use of his back legs.

Maui taught me first hand about persistency, resiliency and how with patience the brain can be retrained  . . .  and the paws will follow.

To read Maui’s full story click here

Your human brain, too, has incredible plasticity.  Maximize aspects of your life by focusing on what you want and minimize what doesn’t support your wants and needs.

The old sayings “Practice Makes Perfect” and The Power of Positive Thinking have been proven accurate through scientific research.

You can shrink memories you can make them less likely to come to mind by avoiding them, by refocusing on other things.

Maui teaches us how to use persistence and trying—again and again and again in order to develop a physical capability (in his case redevelop a physical capability that he once had and lost). People can do this, too. People who do it are very often guided by therapists and professionals who have discovered how to do this, which takes a tremendous amount of persistence. They need to keep trying in the face of such a tiny amount of progress at least at first. Then progress builds.

Free Kindle version of “The Pulling, Climbing, Falling Down Tale of Maui and HIs Back Legs” click here

Offer good September 19-23 only

Peggy

Reading stories creates universal patterns in the brain (and Maui’s book to read)

This fascinating research shows that when we hear stories, brain patterns appear that transcend culture and language and there may be a universal code that underlies making sense of narratives.

PAUSEitively Tuesday: Nature vs Nurture

“Youth is the gift of nature

but age is a work of art.”

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Boogie while you’re young

Pierce your tongue

Dye your hair green

Eat fat, not the lean

Don’t give a lick what makes you tick

Eat, drink and be merry

because if you tarry

you’ll soon be too old

all covered with mold

And have to scrap it off with a stick

 

Have you ever been “pressed by an elf” or abducted by an alien?

My brother Rick told me that he saw an alien standing in our bedroom doorway when he was about 4 and I was 9.  

I had just shared with him my abnormal fascination . . . and fear . . . of outer space aliens. I read many books about alien sightings and the accounts of alien abduction terrified me. At the same time, I hoped aliens were friendly and simply curious about earthllngs and would save us from our own self-destructive tendencies.

I also learned that many scientists think it is possible that sleep paralysis experiences result in accounts of alien abductions . . .  not nearly as exciting as real space aliens

(NapTime poster available on Zazzle click here)

Sleep paralysis,’ is a disturbance of sleep where a person is not able to move but is awake, and often has hallucinations in one or more senses (visual, auditory). Imagery from your dreams intrudes into a waking state.

The hallucinations are often about the feeling of paralysis, such as visions of someone holding you down. Similar incidents have been recorded as far back at 400BC and from many cultures, with the first reference from the Zhou Li/Chun Guan, and ancient Chinese book about sleep.

Researchers Brian Sharpless and Karl Dograhmji have collected 118 different terms from around the world that describe sleep paralysis-like experiences:

  • Germans have terms such as elf pressing”.
  • Norwegian’s have “evil elves that shoot people with paralysing arrows before perching on their chests”
  • Japanese have a term for being magically bound by invisible metal.
  • Switzerland people describe an evil nightmare fairy that disguises itself as a black sheep.
  • Kurds have an evil spirit that suffocates people.
  • Iranians have a type of jinn that sits on the sleeper’s chest.

Consider the account of Jon Loudner, from the infamous 1692 Salem Witch Trials:

“… I going well to bed, about the dead of the night felt a great weight upon my breast, and awakening, looked, and it being bright moonlight, did clearly see Bridget Bishop, or her likeness, sitting upon my stomach. And putting my arms off of the bed to free myself from that great oppression, she presently laid hold of my throat and almost choked me. And I had no strength or power in my hands to resist or help myself. And in this condition she held me to almost day.”

Bridget Bishop was the first victim of the Salem Witch Trials. Her ‘curse’ was probably a misunderstood case of sleep paralysis.

“The  physiological mechanisms that cause sleep paralysis are still not completely understood. When we dream we only act in our dreams, our imagination. There is a block in the brain’s signals that lead to actual action, so we do not physically act out dreams. But if our brains do not do this properly, the results can be sleepwalking, when the paralysis stops when you are still asleep, or the paralysis continues after you have awakened or sets in just before you fall asleep. You are conscious, eyes open, but unable to move.”

Both problems result from a general sleep disruption.  Sleep paralysis can be induced in laboratory participants by repeatedly waking people from a deep sleep.  Many people have experienced this, and if you have not, chances are that someone you know has, as half of the population experiences this at least once. It is not a sign of mental illness or drug use . . .

. . . my own verdict is still out about elves and space aliens . . . and . . . Rick

judy 

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170323-the-strange-case-of-the-phantom-pokemon

Did YOU know – Social Laughter Triggers Endogenous Opioid Release in Humans

You don’t need to pick fleas off your partner, fluff their fur, hold hands or hug to boost your own pain threshold, with a hit of opioids.

Social contacts are of prime importance to humans. The size of human social networks significantly exceeds the network that can be maintained by social grooming or touching in other primates.

“You don’t need to believe me, read this”:

Positron emission tomography (PET) was used “to show that endogenous opioid release following social laughter may provide a neurochemical mechanism supporting long-term relationships in humans.”

Participants were scanned twice; following 30-minute social laughter session, and after spending 30 minutes alone in the testing room (baseline). Endogenous opioid release was stronger following laughter versus baseline scan. Opioid receptor density in the frontal cortex predicted social laughter rates.

Modulation of the opioidergic activity by social laughter may be an important neurochemical mechanism reinforcing and maintaining social bonds between humans.

B”orrrrrrrrring.  Researchers need to get a sense of humor.”

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/early/2017/05/23/JNEUROSCI.0688-16.2017

PAUSEitively Tuesday: Ride ’em Cowboy

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body,
but rather to slide in broadside in a cloud of smoke,
thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming –

Wow! What a Ride!’

Hunter S. Thompson, author

Balloon designed by Sally Heinrich