This lingering of dopamine is what often triggers the brain to crave more caffeine. (While dopamine itself isn’t inherently addictive, it does play a large role in many addictions.)
This will allow your brain to make the most of your caffeine surge, as it’s not replacing any other important functions, such as the cortisol release that naturally happens several times per day.
Watch this spinning dancer to determine if you use your left or right brain.
It took me forever to get her to spin counter-clockwise and then she reverted almost immediately right back to clockwise. I’ve always known that my right brain is the alpha-dog. (jw)
Our ability to think rationally and to use speech and numbers has allowed us to build on our imaginative abilities and emerge as the most dominant creatures on earth. Perhaps because of this evolutionarily new and astounding power to alter our environment, the left brain has become a little over-impressed with itself. Because it alone has the ability to name things, it calls itself the dominant, or “major” hemisphere! That’s fair, because it can and does provide an override function in relation to the more emotional right brain, but it makes a serious mistake when it thinks that it is the only hemisphere that counts. While logical thinking is necessary for building skyscrapers and flying to the moon, it is nearly useless when it comes to creating and maintaining an emotionally intimate relationship, or responding to fast-developing threats.
“The split-brain research showed us that we have another type of intelligence that co-exists with our usual way of thinking about and describing our world. This intelligence has its own perspective, priorities, form of information processing, and motivations. It influences our daily lives much more than we know.
“It has eons of evolutionary experience that can guide us or help us solve problems. It tends to think in terms of how things are connected, rather than how they are different, and it excels in recognizing both spatial and social relationships. Bringing this emotional/intuitive intelligence into our problem-solving and emotional coping efforts greatly expands our ability to worry well; it lets us use all of our brain capacity to resolve rather than create worry and stress.”
Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD is the founder of The Inner Mammal Institute and author of many fascinating books about brain chemistry and mammals, humans included. She is Professor Emerita of Management at California State University, EastBay.
This infogram is one of many interesting, informative and valuable resources. Take a look!
Listening to the news can be overwhelming – rising numbers of COVID-19 infection, death tolls, businesses tanking . . . Often buried are the incredible advances being made in many fields. This one caught our eye because of the wonderful possibilities
“Neurons are the nerve cells and nerve fibers that are electrically excitable cells in the nervous system that function to process and transmit information. In vertebrate animals, neurons are the core components of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves.”
“This advance could mean it would be possible to use artificial neurons and fuse them with live ones in the future, allowing science to easily treat spinal cord injuries and paralyzed people. Progress in artificial intelligence could also lead to energy efficient machines powered by AI in the future.”
“There is previous work that was published in March connecting live cells with artificial ones. The Internet aided in the creation of a virtual brain using actual live nerve cells. This breakthrough and novel project was created with collaboration from Italian, Swiss and British scientists. The artificial neurons came from Switzerland, electronic interneuron connection from the UK and the live nerve cells from Italy. All these were amalgamated into one functioning system. It means that a live nervous system can be collaborated with the technology into one.”
I had the fortune of studying under David Bresler, Ph.D and Marty Rossman, M.D., both pioneers in the field of MindBody Medicine. They founded The Academy for Guided Imagery, a teaching academy for health care professionals to provide treatment using individualized one-on-one imagery for health and wellness.
Not only did they train me to teach Interactive Guided Imagery(sm) they introduced me to a different way of thinking and experiencing my world.
Many of you already know that I keep ranting and raving about the power of our minds, not to dwell on the negative, not to focus on what we can’t do but on what we are capable of. SO! When I came across this article by Dr Rossman I HAD to share.
and research proves him correct.
“Neuroscience journalist Sharon Begley wrote in a 2007 Wall Street Journal article, “Attention, … seems like one of those ephemeral things that comes and goes in the mind but has no real physical presence. Yet attention can alter the layout of the brain as powerfully as a sculptor’s knife can alter a slab of stone.”
”She describes an experiment at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in which scientists “rigged up a device that tapped monkeys’ fingers 100 minutes a day every day. As this bizarre dance was playing on their fingers, the monkeys heard sounds through headphones. Some of the monkeys were taught: Ignore the sounds and pay attention to what you feel on your fingers…Other monkeys were taught: Pay attention to the sound.”
“UCSF researcher Michael Merzenich and a colleague wrote that through choosing where we place our attention, “‘We choose and sculpt how our ever-changing minds will work, we choose who we will be the next moment in a very real sense, and these choices are left embossed in physical form on our material selves.'”
Originally posted on Curious to the Max. Click here to see more from Curious to the Max.
Scientists Find Neuron ‘Nursery’ in Adult Human Nose Tissue
Researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Duke Institute for Brain Sciences say they have discovered a thriving neuron ‘nursery’ in the olfactory neuroepithelium, a section of adult human nose tissue.
Previously, studies had been limited to nasal tissue samples from mice.
Sense of Smell
“We do not fully understand why people lose their sense of smell, which can occur for many reasons, and our data sets provide a wealth of information about the cell populations present in adult olfactory tissue,”Dr. Goldstein, lead researcher said.
“This is an important step in developing treatment strategies for conditions when this tissue may be damaged.”
Approximately one in eight Americans over age 40 — up to 13.3 million people — have measurable smell dysfunction.
“It will be very useful to use this window to analyze samples from people with conditions in which the nervous system has degeneration, such as Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Goldstein said.
“Alzheimer’s is of particular interest, since these patients lose their sense of smell quite early in the disease process, and we have few treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.”
“While we weren’t able to observe the neurons being made because of the nature of human samples, the molecular makeup of the immature neurons in the sample provides strong evidence that they were made in the nose during adulthood,” said Professor Hiroaki Matsunami, co-author of the study.
Avoidance of the truth can be hazardous to our health. “When people lie, they are more prone to feeling anxious or blue, and to experiencing frequent headaches, runny noses, bouts of diarrhea and back pain. When people change their ways and start telling the truth more often, however, they can improve both their mental and physical health, says University of Notre Dame psychology professor Anita Kelly, lead author of a new study on the effects of lying.”
“The Notre Dame study looked at 110 people, ranging in age from 18 to 71, over a period of 10 weeks. Half the participants agreed to try to stop telling lies (both major and minor) for the duration of the test. The other half received no special instructions. Subjects took weekly polygraph tests to assess the number and type of lies they had told in the previous week. “Those who were instructed to dramatically reduce lies experienced significantly better health than those in the group that continued to lie,” Kelly says.”
“Her team found that participants who began telling the truth more often experienced 54 percent fewer mental health complaints (such as anxiety or feeling blue) over the course of the study, and 56 percent fewer physical health complaints (such as nausea or headaches). Subjects who began telling the truth more often also reported happier relationships and improved social interactions.”
“Both white and major lies can be problematic,” she says,”because they can both cause the person to be seen as a liar. Both can violate expectations of honesty in a relationship.” And all of that leads to feelings of anxiety and guilt.
“Because you know it’s wrong to lie, doing so “goes against what you deem as ‘right,’ and builds anxiety,” Walfish says. The anxiety just increases as you try to keep from being caught. “A person who lies doesn’t want to be found out. They want the whole thing to go away,” she says.
“Just as you try to eat well and get regular exercise to maintain your overall health, experts say, you need to develop the healthy habit of telling the truth. “People need to experience the feeling of freedom and strength derived from telling the truth in difficult situations,” Walfish says. “Taking the leap of faith and telling the truth — regardless of the outcome — is a wonderful feeling of power. You feel you can handle anything.”‘
This was originally posted on Curious to the Max. To see more from Curious to the Max, click here.
My favorite heart health blog, My Heart Sisters has a great post. Here’s a tidbit:
“The Australian study on prolonged sitting adjusted for other factors such as age, weight, physical activity and general health status, all of which can also affect longterm health risks. It found a clear dose-response effect:the more people sat, the higher their risk of premature death.
Stand up is better
Healthy or sick, active or inactive, the more people sat, the more likely they were to die prematurely compared to those with non-sedentary lives. While the death risk was lower for anyone who exercised five hours a week or more, it still rose as these active people sat longer.
Why is prolonged sitting so comparatively hard on human beings? This study’s researchers concluded:
“Our findings suggested not only an association between sitting and all-cause mortality that was independent of physical activity but, because the findings persisted after adjustment and stratification for Body Mass Index, one that also appears to be independent of BMI.”
In another Australian study reported in the journal Diabetes Care, scientists at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne observed adults who sat for seven hours on some days and who rose every 20 minutes and walked leisurely on a treadmill for two minutes on other days. When the volunteers remained stationary for the full seven hours, their blood sugar spiked and insulin levels were erratic. But when they broke up the hours with movement, even that short two-minute stroll, their blood sugar levels remained stable. The scientists concluded that what was important was simply breaking up those long, interminable hours of sitting.”
Read more here: http://myheartsisters.org/2012/04/29/sitting-down/
Originally posted on Curious to the Max Click here for more from Curious to the Max
Nearly everyone feels lonely at some point. The good news is, for many of us, it’s a temporary condition, perhaps one caused by a life change: moving to a new location, starting a new job.
For others, loneliness can be a way of life, one that may stem not from the number of people around them but from a lack of connection with others. And, research has shown, chronic loneliness can have adverse consequences for your health.
Scientists are still examining the link between mental and physical health and how loneliness affects our bodies. But you may not know about some of their findings over the years.
1. It may affect your brain in a way similar to physical pain.
“From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense; our prehistoric ancestors relied on social groups not just for companionship, but for survival. Staying close to the tribe brought access to shelter, food, and protection. Separation from the group, on the other hand, meant danger.”
“Today when we feel left out, our bodies may sense a threat to survival, and some of the same pain signals that would engage if we were in real physical danger are flipped on. In the chronically lonely, levels of the stress hormone cortisol shoot up higher in the morning than in more socially connected people and never fully subside at night.”
2. People who feel lonely tend to experience more nighttime sleep disruptions than those who don’t.
3. Loneliness can increase your risk for dementia
In a 2012 study of nearly 2,200 older adults living in Amsterdam, researchers found that participants who reported feeling lonely — regardless of the number of friends and family surrounding them — were more likely to experience dementia than those who lived alone.
After adjusting for factors like age, the researchers found that feeling lonely raised the risk of dementia by 64%. But, they cautioned, that does not prove that loneliness causes dementia and noted that the opposite could be true as well, because dementia and its accompanying mood changes could contribute to some of the social withdrawal of loneliness.
4. Loneliness may contribute to premature death
Two other 2012 studies found that living alone — or just feeling lonely — may increase a person’s risk of early death.
One study followed nearly 45,000 people ages 45 and up who either had heart disease or were at high risk for it. Those living alone, the study found, were more likely to die from heart attacks, strokes or other complications over a four-year period than those living with family or friends or in some other communal arrangement.
A second study focused on those 60 and older and found that men and women were 45% more likely to die during the study period (six years) if they reported feeling lonely, isolated or left out. But those who reported loneliness — 43% of the study population — weren’t necessarily living alone.
Researchers said the link between lonely feelings and health problems held even after living situation, depression and other factors were taken into account.
5. Loneliness may break your heart (literally)
People who report being chronically lonely may have an over expression of genes connected to cells that produce an inflammatory response to tissue damage, according to a 2011 study of 93 adults. Although that inflammatory response may be good in the short term, long-term inflammation can lead to heart disease and cancer.
We’ve been posting self-help tips & techniques on how better to survive the pandemic. Most of the posts are on CURIOUStotheMAX, simply because that blog covers a wide range of topics, more than just the mind which is this blog’s focus.
This interview with Dr. Judson Brewer, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist at Brown University caught our attention since he touches on many of the same things we’ve been covering. NPR host Shereen Marisol Meraji spoke with Dr. Brewer about what’s going on in the brain when we’re anxious, how to get our “thinking brains” back online, and how not doing anything can actually be helpful to those around us.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. Dr Brewer’s responses are in italics & color:
Dr. Jud, everyone, including me, has been saying, “Take a deep breath,” or “I need to take a deep breath” way more lately — to the point where I feel like it’s becoming a little bit cliché. But you say this actually works?
“Yes, this is how our brain works. Fear is a normal adaptive response, but fear plus uncertainty makes our brains spin out in anxiety. And the best way to get our physiology calmed down and our thinking brain back online is literally to take a deep breath.”
“If we can understand why fear is a helpful adaptive response, we can understand how taking a deep breath can help. Fear helps us learn. For example, if we step out into the street and we almost get hit by a car, but step back just in time, our fear response here reminds us to look both ways before crossing the street.”
“We get revved up [and anxious] when the newer parts of our brain, the thinking and planning parts of the brain, don’t have accurate information. And [the newer parts of the brain] start spinning out into these “what if” worry loops. You know, “What if this happens? What if that happens?”‘
You’ve talked about how the prefrontal cortex in our brains needs very clear information. And we’re in a place right now where information is changing rapidly. So what’s going on in the prefrontal cortex while all of this is changing?
“Well, sometimes there’s not a lot going on in the prefrontal cortex. Let’s say we’re afraid and anxious and maybe we go on social media to try to get more information. We can actually catch something that’s even more contagious than a virus — [we can catch] panic and fear. [Panic and fear] can spread through social contagion, which is simply the transmission of affect or emotion from one person to another. And that actually makes our prefrontal cortex shut down. You can catch a virus from somebody by being near them, but someone can “sneeze” on your brain from anywhere in the world.”
“We can also see this playing out not only on social media, but when we say, go to the grocery store. If someone goes to the grocery store and sees somebody else hoarding toilet paper, suddenly, their scarcity brain kicks in. They might think, “maybe I’m not going to have enough toilet paper.” So they run to the toilet paper aisle and buy all the rest of the toilet paper, even though they probably have enough at home. So when this scarcity mode kicks in, it can also spread panic and fear through social contagion.”
People are trying to control this situation that we absolutely have no control over, right? I’m just cleaning everything that I can get my hands on and I’m never stopping, which makes me feel like I have some sort of control over everything. Is it ever helpful to try and control things in the ways that we can?
“Well, it depends on what we’re doing. So if we’re afraid or panicked and we try to control things, we’re going to actually fall back into old habit patterns. For example, if our habit pattern is to clean, we might start cleaning obsessively in a way that’s not helpful — It could use up cleaning supplies. If we start cleaning our house and nobody’s been in our house for a week, the likelihood that something infectious is going to suddenly show up on our countertops is pretty low.”
“So here, if our brain is anxious and our thinking brain is offline, the likelihood that we’re going to have any wisdom show up is pretty low. So again, it comes back to grounding ourselves and then asking ourselves, “What am I about to do? Is this actually helpful?”‘
“For example, in my psychiatry training, I learned this great phrase, “Don’t just do something, sit there.” The idea is, if I’m sitting with a patient and they’re anxious, I could catch their anxiety through social contagion. Here, I become anxious and then I try to do something to fix them to make myself feel better. When in fact, the best thing that I could do is simply to listen. And I think that applies to all of us.”
All of this feels simple and fairly easy — take deep breaths, feel your feet, take some time to just notice where you’re at and what’s going on around you in this very moment. But how do we make these into habits?
“There’s this phrase, “short moments, many times.” If somebody is going to create a habit of anything, they need short moments of repetition and they need to repeat it over and over and over. So it’s not just about trying to force ourselves not to check the news — that actually fails. You can’t think your way out of a bad habit. But we can tap into the strongest parts of our brain, the reward based learning parts, which feed on reward. For example, when we worry, we get more anxious. But if we can see that when we calm ourselves down — maybe we hug a loved one or pet our dog or take a deep breath— we feel less anxious, then we can start to change our habits.”
How are you talking to people to make them feel better about staying home? What are you telling people to make them feel empowered when they’re not allowed to leave the house?
“Two feelings I’m noticing here are guilt and shame. Guilt is feeling that we should do something when everybody else is doing something. This then can lead to shame about ourselves. So guilt is about a behavior and shame is about ourselves. So I think, again, the first thing to do is recognize what you’re feeling. Are you feeling guilt? Is that leading to a shame spiral where you’re beating yourself up? This can make our thinking brain go offline. We tend to do things that are not helpful when we’re not thinking.”
“If we can step out of that process, we can see that the best and most helpful thing to do is stay home. Because that’s what’s going to stop the spread of this virus. Running out there and trying to do something could actually make this worse. If we can step out of that shame spiral, our thinking and creative brains come back online and then we can think about what skills and talents we have that can be useful.”
I “stumbled” onto one of their introductory workshops in the 1980’s. I had already been certified in hypnosis but was never comfortable with the idea that as the hypnotherapist I held the key, I had the power, to create change.
When I attended that first AGI workshop it was a eureka moment for me. The process and technique of Interactive Guided Imagery(sm) Marty and David were teaching was how I intuitively did hypnosis: The client held the key, the power, I was the guide. Marty and David are brilliant and innovative. I was hooked and went on to study with both of them and served as an AGI faculty, teaching other health care practitioners how to do Interactive Guided Imagery(sm) since 1988.
I “stumbled” across this video of Marty Rossman and want to share what he teaches about the mind and how you hold the key and the power to create calm.
“Physician, author, speaker, researcher, and consultant Martin L. Rossman, MD, discusses how to use the power of the healing mind to reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain, change lifestyle habits, and live with more wellness.” THE HEALING MIND.org
In Part I we described ways the Pandemic has created massive amounts of loss and how it can manifest itself in physical symptoms we don’t always ascribe to grieving. OUR COMMENTS ARE IN RED
Here are excerpts from a WEBMD article on Normal vs. Pathological Grief
“Depression is not a normal part of grief, but a complication of it. Depression raises the risk of grief-related health complications and often requires treatment to resolve, so it’s important to know how to recognize its symptoms. Sidney Zisook, MD, a grief researcher and professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, says people can distinguish normal grief from depression by looking for specific emotional patterns.”
“In normal grief, the sad thoughts and feelings typically occur in waves or bursts followed by periods of respite, as opposed to the more persistent low mood and agony of major depressive disorder,” Zisook says.”
“He says people usually retain “self-esteem, a sense of humor, and the capacity to be consoled or distracted from the pain” in normal grief, while people who are depressed struggle with feelings of guilt and worthlessness and a limited ability “to experience or anticipate any pleasure or joy.”
“Complicated grief differs from both depression and normal grief. M. Katherine Shear, MD, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and director of its Center for Complicated Grief, defines complicated grief as “a form of persistent, pervasive grief” that does not get better naturally. It happens when “some of the natural thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that occur during acute grief gain a foothold and interfere with the ability to accept the reality of the loss.”‘
Symptoms of complicated grief include:
(NOTE: Rumination has also been show to be our cognitive brain and our emotional brain locked in a feedback loop which is set to protect us from further harm. Negative, ruminations are not because of personality or intelligence but a function of brain processes. We can break into this process by forcing our thinking into neutral or positive thoughts but it takes effort to do so and over-ride the brain’s natural stress response.)
“Rumination and other forms of avoidance demand energy and block the natural abilities of the body and mind to integrate new realities and heal. Research by Stroebe, and others shows that avoidance behavior makes depression, complicated grief, and the physical health problems that go with them more likely. Efforts to avoid the reality of loss can cause fatigue, weaken your immune system, increase inflammation, and prolong other ailments.”
This Pandemic has created loss of the most essential kinds – identity, connection, income safety, isolation from support systems and people, even loss of our daily routines and conveniences.
Initially, we are mobilized to find new ways of coping, new ways of living within the confines of an unseen threat. At some point grief follows, the natural response to loss of any and all kinds. We typically think of grieving as an emotional response but the first signs can sometimes appear in ways we don’t label as grieving.
What causes these physical symptoms? A range of studies reveal the powerful effects grief can have on the body:
“In normal, situational grief, the sad thoughts and feelings typically occur in waves or bursts followed by periods of respite. People usually retain “self-esteem, a sense of humor, and the capacity to be consoled or distracted from the pain” in normal grief.
What Can You Do to Cope With Grief?
Emotional and physical self-care are essential ways to ease complications of grief and boost recovery. Exercising, spending time in nature, getting enough sleep, and talking to loved ones can help with physical and mental health.
“Most often, normal grief does not require professional intervention. Grief is a natural, instinctive response to loss, adaptation occurs naturally, and healing is the natural outcome,” especially with “time and the support of loved ones and friends.”
For many people going through a hard time, reaching out is impossible. If your friend is in grief, reach out to them.
Grief researchers emphasize that social support, self-acceptance, and good self-care usually help people get through grief.
And if you feel like your whole life has fallen apart, It has. Now you haven’t lost your ability to decide how to respond.
Part II will follow explaining the difference between “Situational Grief” and Compounded Grief.
Research suggests that social isolation can trigger increased heart rate, muscle tension, and lead to chronic conditions such as hypertension
“Just after a few weeks of social distancing and self-isolation because of COVID-19, we have noticed the decline in our social interactions and might have felt the change in our mental and physical health. It is being called the ‘social recession’ — a collapse in our social contacts, matching the economic recession that is looming beyond COVID-19.”
“Usually when things get tough, we tend to lean towards our personal relationships to seek their advice and support. Ironically, that is the very thing we cannot do in the current crisis. While there are no quick fix solutions to deal with increasing anxiety due to social isolation, there are ways we can smarten our approach to deal with it.”
“Begin by acknowledging that these are unprecedented times, unlike what we have seen before, hence, it is quite normal to feel anxious and lonely. It is important to know that the whole world is in the same state as us, and we are all in this together. Use this time to establish forgotten connections via technology and catch up with friends and family whom you may have been putting on the back burner because of your busy schedule. Most importantly, put the focus back on your self-care, eat well, exercise regularly, find ways to calm and focus yourself.”
With a viral epidemic encircling the globe this information may not quell fear, it won’t make those who are ill feel better but it will explain how our miraculous mind-body is ultimately trying to keep us safe.
1. Activating the immune system, however, costs your body a lot of energy. This presents a series of problems that your brain and body must solve to fight against infection most effectively. Where will this extra energy come from? What should you do to avoid additional infections or injuries that would increase the immune system’s energy requirements even more?
2. Fever is a critical part of the immune response to some infections, but the energy cost of raising your temperature is particularly high. Is there anything you can do to reduce this cost?
3. To eat or not to eat is a choice that affects your body’s fight against infection. On one hand, food ultimately provides energy to your body, and some foods even contain compounds that may help eliminate pathogens. But it also takes energy to digest food, which diverts resources from your all-out immune effort. Consuming food also increases your risk of acquiring additional pathogens. So what should you eat when you’re sick, and how much?
(“Of course these changes depend on the context. While it may make sense to reduce food intake to prioritize immunity when the sick individual has plenty of energy reserves, it would be counterproductive to avoid eating if the sick person has malnutrition or on the verge of starvation.”)
“This kind of coordinating program is what some psychologists call an emotion: an evolved computational program that detects indicators of a specific recurrent situation. When the certain situation arises, the emotion orchestrates relevant behavioral and physiological mechanisms that help address the problems at hand.”
Some of these coordinating programs line up nicely with our understanding about what makes up an emotion. We understand the emotion of fear when in reality or imagination we think we are threatened by a threat OUTSIDE our body. For example:
“Imagine you’re walking through the woods, thinking you’re alone, and suddenly you are startled by sounds suggesting a large animal is nearby. Your pupils dilate, hearing becomes attuned to every little sound, your cardiovascular system starts to work harder in preparation for either running away or defending yourself. These coordinated physiological and behavioral changes are produced by an underlying emotion program that corresponds to what you might think of as a certain kind of fear.”
“This way of thinking has helped researchers understand why some emotions exist and how they work. For instance, the pathogen disgust program detects indicators that some potentially infectious agent is nearby. Imagine you smell the stench of feces: The emotion of disgust coordinates your behavior and physiology in ways that help you avoid the risky entity.”
“These coordinated physiological and behavioral changes are produced by an underlying emotion program that corresponds to what you might think of as a certain kind of fear.
Some psychologists suggest these emotion programs likely evolved to respond to identifiable situations that occurred reliably over evolutionary time, that would affect the survival or reproduction of those involved.”
The next time you “feel” sick try to remember your mind-body wants you to survive.
This article was originally published on The Conversation by Joshua Schrock.
If you are irritable, less motivated, sad, or even angry, depressed,you are not alone. With loss there is a grief reaction. Not only are we dealing with loss of life, loss of mobility, choice, sense of safety, during this current time our emotional reactions are compounded by anxiety & fear.
It’s easy not to recognize less obvious, existential and secondary lossesbut important to honor our own losses even if those losses seem small compared to others. Left unrecognized grief can negatively impact our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
We can’t deal with, or heal, what we aren’t aware of
Consider how you feel when you think of these losses:
Grief is not a problem to be solved
Before I was licensed I was the director of a Rape Trauma program. It proved to be wonderful training and in private practice I went on to successfully treat people with all manners of traumatic experiences from being in airplane crashes to being buried alive. However, one of the hallmarks of trauma is disturbed or disrupted sleep. No matter what suggestions I had or what the clients tried, including sleep medications, didn’t often help.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst asked more than 100 healthy adults to rate their emotional responses to a series of images, some depicting unsettling scenes. Twelve hours later, they rated the images again. The difference: Half of the subjects slept during the break; the other half did not.
“Not only did sleep protect the memory, but it also protected the emotional reaction,”said Rebecca Spencer, a neuroscientist at UMass Amherst and co-author of the study that was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Study subjects who stayed awake for 12 hours had a weaker emotional response to the unsettling images the second time around, suggesting sleep serves to preserve and even amplify negative emotions. Their memories were also weaker than those of their well-rested counterparts, as they struggled to remember whether they had seen the images before.
“It’s true that ‘sleeping on it’ is usually a good thing to do,” said Spencer, citing evidence that sleep boosts memory and other cognitive functions. “It’s just when something truly traumatic or out of the ordinary happens that you might want to stay awake.”
Spencer said people often find it difficult to sleep after a traumatic event.”
“This study suggests the biological response we have after trauma might actually be a healthy,”she said. “Perhaps letting people go through a period of insomnia before feeding them sleeping meds is actually beneficial.”
While the findings may have implications for post traumatic stress disorder, Spencer emphasized that daily emotional ups and downs are not grounds for sleep deprivation.
“Just because we have a bad day doesn’t mean we should stay awake,” she said. “We need to maintain some memories and emotional context to know what to avoid. We do learn something from them.”
This post was originally posted on Curious to the Max. Click here to see other Curious posts.
This stress and anxiety QUICK technique is my favorite. I’ve taught it, shared it, used it for years and it just occurred to me, why not post it! So for those of you who suffer from anxious thinking or under stress here’s a simple technique that works.
Sound too simple!? A brain is easily fooled in that it can NOT tell the difference between when we are actually in danger (anxiety is our brain’s way of keeping us on alert for danger so we can survive) and when we perceive danger through thoughts or other cues.
Imagine a snake, a spider, anything that you are afraid of – Your brain will register “danger!” and flood your cells with the neurochemistry of fear/anxiety. Watch a sad movie – Your brain will flood you with sadness and if you are like me, you’ll sob like a baby. Neither are real but your brain doesn’t know and reacts to protect you as if it is actually happening.
Soooooooooo, tell your brain you are safe and it will stop flooding you with the neurochemistry related to fear and anxiety.
Originally posted on Curious to the Max.Click here to see more from Curious to the Max
During our 30+ years as psychotherapists we never had to address the fear and uncertainty the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic has created. The disruption to individual lives and society is surreal.
I’m so relieved to know that my urge to read the Tabloid Headlines at the check-out stand means I’m highly adaptive in the food chain . . . if not the food market.
Psst! The Human Brain Is Wired For Gossip
by Jon Hamilton
“Hearing gossip about people can change the way you see them — literally.
Negative gossip actually alters the way our visual system responds to a particular face, according to a study published online by the journal Science.
“Gossip is helping you to predict who is friend and who is foe,” says Lisa Feldman Barrett, distinguished professor of psychology at Northeastern University and an author of the study.
Barrett is part of a team that’s been studying how gossip affects not just what we know about an unfamiliar person but how we feel about them. The team has shown that getting second-hand information about a person can have a powerful effect.
But Barrett and her team wanted to answer another question: Once hearsay has predisposed us to see someone in a certain way, is it possible that we literally see them differently?
It makes sense when you consider that the human brain has lots of connections between regions that process visual information and areas involved in our most basic emotions, Barrett says.
Volunteer subjects looked at faces paired with gossip. Some of these faces were associated with negative gossip, such as “threw a chair at his classmate.” Other faces were associated with more positive actions, such as “helped an elderly woman with her groceries.”
Participants in the study were shown a neutral face paired with (A) negative gossip, (B) positive gossip, (C) neutral gossip, (D) negative non-social information, (E) positive non-social information, and (F) neutral non-social information. When the study participants viewed the faces again, their brains were more likely to fix on the faces associated with negative gossip.
Then the researchers looked to see how the volunteers’ brains responded to the different kinds of information. They did this by showing the left and right eyes of each person very different images. So one eye might see a face while the other eye would see a house.
The finding suggests “we are hardwired to pay more attention to a person if we’ve been told they are dangerous or dishonest or unpleasant.”
“If somebody is higher than you in the food chain, you want dirt about them. You want negative information, because that’s the stuff you can exploit to get ahead.”
“Even when primitive humans lived in small groups, they needed to know things like who might be a threat and who was after a particular mate, McAndrew says. And learning those things through personal experience would have been slow and potentially dangerous”, he says.
One shortcut would have been gossip.
“People who had an intense interest in that — that constantly were monitoring who’s sleeping with who and who’s friends with whom and who you can trust and who you can’t — came out ahead,” he says. “People who just didn’t care about that stuff got left behind.”
“And it makes sense that our brains pay special attention to negative gossip”, McAndrew says.
“If somebody is a competitor or somebody is higher than you in the food chain, you want dirt about them,” he says. “You want negative information, because that’s the stuff you can exploit to get ahead.”
Originally posted on Curious to the Max. Click here for more on Curious to the Max
This information is from http://theworrysolution.com by Dr Marty Rossman.
Togetherness, particularly if it’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week can create stress and unresolved, unrelieved tension.
The rosy pictures of family harmony isn’t always rosy. As psychotherapists we were privy to the fact that being cooped up with family, whether in a family business or on-demand family functions, often brings out the worst in people and interpersonal relationships.
When you ____________________ Fill in with a SPECIFIC, identifiable, VISIBLE, concrete BEHAVIOR. No generalizations or blame, like “you hurt me”.
I feel _________________________ Fill in with an emotion – angry, happy, sad, frustrated, mis-understood, devalued . . . etc. Do NOT BLAME and say “I feel that YOU ________”
I want you to ________________ Fill in with a SPECIFIC, identifiable, concrete BEHAVIOR
Example: When you walked away when I was talking. (WALKED AWAY is a behavior)
I felt devalued. I want you to stay, listen
“Repeated studies have found that people prone to depression can get worse if they excessively dwell or ruminate on a stressful incident such as a quarrel or a loss. But experiments by Exeter University psychologists have found that when individuals practised running emotional incidents through their head, focusing on sensory details and recalling exactly what happened, how it happened, and even where it happened, it helped them respond constructively and stopped them becoming so upset about a future or past stressful experience.“
“Psychologists at the University of Exeter have found that recalling (imagining, NOT vocalizing) the detail of shouting matches and disagreements, including exactly who said what to whom and how, may not be destructive and prolong the tension, but could help people keep incidents in perspective and stop the triggering of self-doubt and even depression.”
“After training to recall the details of an upsetting incident including the tone of a voice, the words used and how the event happened, people became more resilient and put the upsetting incident into context, stopping a downward spiral into low mood.”
“The same exercise of focusing on the sensory details of sad experiences and asking “How did it happen?” “How can I do something about it?” was also found to speed up recovery from doing badly on a test in undergraduates, and to improve interpersonal problem solving, such as finding a way to make up with your partner after an argument, in people who were currently or formerly depressed.”
I JUST ADDED THIS: Some of these tips are general, suggesting a mindset to cultivate. Others are more specific in advising you what to do in the moment.