Frankly Freddie – How to be a Good Sport While Social Distancing

Sports fans are going bonkers since all the games are canceled or have no spectators.  Don’t go bonkers, it’s not becoming, unless you are in a parking lot, eating hot dogs and drinking beer from the back of your pick-up truck.  Do these things instead:

  • Become an expert. Readup on your sport so that when your team starts playing again, you’ll have even greater insight into the game.
  • Show your team some love. Tweet them a positive message or send them a photo of you wearing team gear in solidarity.
  • Even better, support a charity that your favorite player loves. 
  • PLAY FETCH.

  • Practice painting your face in the colors of your favorite team.  Keep your “art work” above the neck. Bare chests make you look like an “animal”.
  • Revisit an old game. You know the one – The game that made you fall in love with the sport.  If you have a subscription to a sport-specific streaming service, check if they have your favorite game. YouTube has clips of  large collection of games.
  • Play Keep-Away or Dodge Ball.  No yard?  Use balloons.
  • Watch sports documentaries about games of the past and present.
  • Donate all your clothes that aren’t in the colors of your favorite team.
  • Pretend you’re an athlete and do calisthentics (If you don’t know what calisthenitics are do jumping jacks).
  • PLAY FETCH.
  • Go Bonkers!

 

Things to do when Virus Fears Overwhelm you – Hand-washing and Social distancing for your Brain

The constant flood of precautions and warnings, whether it’s from the medical authorities or recirculated, dubiously-sourced information on social media, can take a toll on our mental health.
The uncertainty of what a pandemic portends for our future, the drastic changes it means for the present can be unnerving.

It’s ok, it’s normal, to feel anxious and stressed when everything familiar has seemingly come to a halt in the entire world and when experts, whom we normally turn to, have no answers, no treatments and are impacted in the same way we are.  We feel helpless and our fears are heightened when we can’t see or predict where the threat may strike.  

Yes, it’s a serious situation, and deserves your vigilance and attention.   However, there is a happy medium between ignoring the biggest story in the world, and panic. Here are some tips. 

Social Distancing for your Brain

Pare down your sources of information

  • Continually tell yourself it’s ok not knowing every little thing because there will always be an update a click away.
  • Don’t carry your phone around so you’re not tempted to check it.  
  • Leave your phone on a charging station, put it in “airplane mode”or turn off notifications.
  • Limit time on social media.  Your friends and acquaintances filter what they share through their own fears and lenses.
  • Unfriend those who are conspiracy theorists.
  • Install social media apps or tools that limit access to content, or limit aimless scrolling.
  • Schedule a set time, and no more, to get updates from reliable news or health organizations.

Hand-Washing for your Brain.

Don’t Chastise Yourself for Worrying

“You are allowed to worry or feel bad. When discussing how to talk to children about the coronavirus, health experts say people should acknowledge a child’s fear and let them know their feelings are valid.”

“Surely, you can afford yourself the same compassion. The key is to work toward understanding and contextualizing your fears so they don’t keep you from living your healthiest life.”

Name your Fears

A virus can’t be seen by the naked eye.  It’s threat is abstract.  Writing things down makes the worries concrete and stops your brain from going over and over the worries.  Here’s what to write to reassure your brain that you’ll remember everything it’s been reminding you of.  You may do all steps at once or over several days.

1. List what specific threats worry you.Do you think you will catch the coronavirus and die?  (The fear of death taps into one of our core existential fears.) Someone you love falls ill?  Would you need treatment?  What would happen if self quarantine was necessary?  Not able to work?  No access to support or childcare?  

Keep writing small fears, big fears, rational and irrational, until you can’t think of anything else.

2.  Mark the ones that are REALISTIC.  Consider your personal risk and how likely it is that you will actually come in contact with the virus, lose work, etc.

3.  Write down what you are in CONTROL of  – what you are currently doing and what you might consider doing.  

4.  Make a plan – Brainstorm options and write them down even if they seem out-of-reach or impractical.   Being prepared for your fears will help keep them in scale.

5. Review and add, delete, rearrange, update all the steps frequently to keep your brain in the know.

Think Outside Yourself

Since action can allay our anxieties, also consider what you can do to help others who may be more affected by the outbreak than you. Service workers, medical workers, hourly workers and people in the restaurant or entertainment industries may have their livelihoods paralyzed or have to put themselves in disproportionate danger.

Talk to your brain: “Most of the precautions put in place to help stall the spread of the virus aren’t just for me. They’re intended to keep entire communities and vulnerable people safe.”

There are ways to reach out that don’t demand a lot of time or energy.  Examples:  Double the recipe you are making and give half to a neighbor, donate money, (if you have the means) to a reputable charity, write a letter or a note to someone in quarantine, e-mail friends who are isolated . . .  

Seek Support Wisely

Talking to friends about the latest news, outbreak cluster or your family’s contingency plans is a good idea so you don’t feel alone.  However, if you are overwhelmed, don’t seek out someone who also is overwhelmed.  Find someone who does not support or inflame you on your anxiety and can provide some advice.  Always consider professional help which can be short-term. Most psychotherapists and doctors are offering phone sessions.  There are community agencies or religious clergy that are free or low fee.

Enforce or Create Healthy HABITS

Pay attention to your daily basic needs- healthy practices that affect your wellbeing. 

If you haven’t practiced self-care, NOW is the time to create healthy habits that will last after this crisis is over.

  • Get adequate sleep
  • Have proper nutrition
  • Go outside as much a possible
  • Engage in regular physical activity
  • Practicing mindfulness, prayer, meditation, yoga or other forms of self care can also help center you in routines and awareness, and keep your mind from wandering into worry and fear. 

Remember!  Fear and Anxiety is . . .

. . . overestimating the likelihood of something bad happening, and  underestimating our capacity to deal with it. 

Source: CNN.com

Frankly Freddie – Social Distancing for the Cultured

Dear Freddie Fans,

Because I’m not allowed to go anywhere without a leash I KNOW how to cope. This week I will share what you humans can do.  Since I’m Editor-in-Canine-Chief for several blogs I have a trove of posts to share with you.  

CULTURED: characterized by refined taste and manners and good education.
cultivated, artistic, enlightened, civilized, educated, well read, well informed, discerning, discriminating, 

sophisticated, urbane, intellectual, scholarly, erudite

If you are lacking in any of these here’s what you can do:

  • Download e-books and audiobooks and READ.
  • Create a virtual book club and video call each other to discuss.
  • Take a virtual museum tour. Many museums offer audio tours on your smart phone. The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim Museum are two that host online tours.
  • Explore overseas? Google Arts & Culture has a collection of virtual walk-throughs for dozens of international museums, from Paris to New Delhi.
  • Become a film critic.  Write a  review of the latest. Catch up recent Oscar winners and snubbed gems and share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter. To exchange recommendations with your fellow cinephiles, join a site like Letterboxd, a social networking service for film geeks.
  • Learn a language — or just the basics. Learning a few phrases in another tongue will make you feel smart. 
  • Bolster your vocabulary. Remember when reading the dictionary was a form of punishment? No longer. Flip through a thesaurus or take online quizzes to test your vocabulary.

What “cultured” will look like after you do what I’ve told you.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/14/us/what-to-do-this-weekend-coronavirus-trnd/index.html

Frankly Freddie, How to Social Distance and Be Social

Dear Freddie Fans,

Because I’m not allowed to go anywhere without a leash I KNOW how to cope. This week I will share what you humans can do.  Since I’m Editor-in-Canine-Chief for several blogs I have a trove of posts to share with you.  Each day I’ll share a bit of my wisdom. 

Here’s my first recommendations for HUMANS

Ya Gotta Take Care of your Mental Health.  

  • Connect with family, friends.  If you can’t get a scratch behind their ears you will have to settle for the phone, internet or writing a note or letter.
  • Meditate, pray.
  • Take a nap.  One of my favorites.
  • Video chat.
  • Share funny messages on social media. Do NOT share conspiracy theories – leave theories to bonifide scientists.
  • Take a warm bath.
  • Take another bath.
  • Go outside, get some fresh air and sunshine .

Keep your paws busy:

  • Tackle a puzzle.
  • Make art. Download my human’s free coloring pages.Click here for the PDF
  • Humans like to knit, sew, paint.
  • Do all the stuff I’ve watched humans put off – taxes, clean closets.
  • Play board games. Chess and checkers seem to be fun for humans .. . go figure.
  • Fix something around the house.
  • Rearrange the furniture.
  • Give yourself a manicure.
  • Pet your pet.
  • Brush your pet.
  • Feed your pet.
  • Give your pet treats

Tell me what you do to keep your paws busy!

See ya tomorrow.

click here for: “How to Cope in Uncertain Times” on Max your Mind 

How to activate your own Placebo to reduce Stress & Anxiety

In uncertain times we all need help to calm our fears so that our bodies are not flooded with stress hormones & neurochemicals.  

A placebo is NOT imaginary but creates biological changes in the brain that actually ease our symptoms and are very similar to the biological changes when we take drugs.

There are many DOCUMENTED placebo effects, depending on what we think a treatment is going to do for us.  Examples:

  • Fake painkillers cause the release of natural painkillers in the brain called endorphins and work through the same biochemical pathway that an opiod painkiller would work through.
  • A Parkinson’s patient takes a placebo they think is their Parkinson’s drug, they get a flood of dopamine in the brain, which is exactly what you would see with the real drug.
  • Altitude sickness – someone at altitude inhales fake oxygen, there’s a reduction in prostaglandins which actually work to dilate blood vessels that cause many of the symptoms of altitude sickness.

Some explanations for the placebo effect 

Stress and anxiety — if we feel that we are in danger or under threat, the brain raises its sensitivity to symptoms like pain. Whereas, if we feel safe and cared for and things are going to get better soon, we relax and are not so alert to symptoms.

Physiological mechanisms like conditioning*   We can all be conditioned to have physiological responses to a stimulus, even immune responses. For example, take a pill that suppresses your immune system and on another occasion take a similar looking placebo pill, with no active drug, your body will mimic same immune response. Astonishingly, it doesn’t even matter if you know it’s a placebo.

Stress can rewire the brain — and create more stress

Like a muscle, the more you exercise any part the stronger it gets.

Brains are shaped by our thoughts and behaviors. Research shows your brain structure, neurochemical and electrical activity responds to and reflects how you think throughout your life.   For example: If you play a musical instrument, speak a second language, train for athletics for eight hours a day – the parts of your brain responsible for performing those activities gets more active and larger. 

If you’re thinking stressful thoughts for the whole day parts of the brain involved in the stress response get larger and other parts of the brain actually deteriorate.  Consequently, the very brain circuits we need to counter stress no longer work as well as they should.  

It’s not as simple as saying, “I’m going to change how I think now. I’m not feeling stressed.”  It takes a long time to change your brain. 

In the middle of your face – your personal placebo “pill” 

When stressed, the brain influences your body AND the body influences your brain.  The stress response speeds up your breathing to pump more oxygen when your brain perceives danger, either real or imaginary.  If you deliberately speed up your breathing when not stressed you’ll start to feel more aroused and on edge.  The opposite is true: Slow your breathing down, forcing your body into a more relaxed state.  Your brain responds with more calming thoughts and feelings.

Condition your own calming response using your breath . . . salivating optional.

Click below to read two ways to slow your breathing down:

Decrease your Anxiety & Stress Increasing Immunity

Control your Anxiety: Easy, Fast, Effective and Square

* Ivan Pavlov, a physiologist, conditioned dogs so that whenever he gave them food he made a noise, like ring a bell.  Eventually the dogs associated the bell with their food and they would salivate just to the sound of the bell.

 

 

 

https://www.npr.org/

A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant, PhD. in genetics and medical microbiology

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/

For more in this series, scroll down.

For tips on social distancing, click here for Curious to the Max

 

How to Empty your Brain to Reduce Stress & Control Anxiety – Write On!

Non-stop writing, stream of consciousness, free writing . . . it doesn’t matter what you call it – it can change your brain, change your day.

I’m not being overly dramatic as there is a body of research which shows that

simply putting pen to paper changes your brain to reduce anxiety & stress.

Write on! by Peggy

Easy Peasy Writing How-to

Choose a focus – a situation, feeling, thought and create a “topic Sentence”

If you can’t think of a specific begin with

 “When I ____________”,  Right this moment I am thinking . . . ” ,   “I am feeling . . .”,  

“I can’t think of anything to write because . . . “

It can be anything in the past, the present or the future.

  • Use a pen that writes smoothly and comfortable to your hand.  

Don’t use a keyboard since the act of writing with your hand is important.  Your small muscle movement is expressive (much like artistic expression, your handwriting is unique to you).  It doesn’t matter if it’s legible or beautiful as your hand movement registers with your brain in ways that tapping out letters on a keyboard do not.

  • Set a timer for approximately 20 minutes. It takes that long for your unconscious brain to push through your logical thinking processes.
  • Use a journal, a piece of paper, a brown bag- it doesn’t matter.
  • Start with your “topic sentence”,thought, feeling . . . just start. 
  • Write continuously for 20 minutes, never letting the pen stop. If your mind goes blank simply makes loop-d-loops with the pen until you have words to put down. Write quickly, spontaneously, intuitively.  It doesn’t matter what you write just put down on paper where your mind takes you.
  • Do not be concerned about spelling, punctuation or grammar.
  • Do not be concerned if it doesn’t make sense.

Read  research: How Writing About Past Failures May Help You Succeed In The Present

 click here