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

Decrease your Anxiety & Stress Increasing Immunity

Diaphragmatic breathing is the best known and one of the most powerful breath exercises to reduce the stress response, get oxygen flowing to your brain and in your body.

If you’re constantly and chronically stressed out, sleep-deprived, malnourished, or dehydrated over time your immune function will weaken.

Longer, deeper breaths into your abdomen, slows your heart rate and activates the calming, parasympathetic nervous system. 

Inhale . . . . . . . . . . . Exhale. . . . . . .  by Judy

The most basic type of diaphragmatic breathing is done by inhaling through your nose and breathing out through your mouth.  However, exhaling through your nose allows you to do this in public places.

Here’s how:

  • Sit in a comfortable position or lie flat on the floor, your bed, or another comfortable, flat surface.

  • Relax your shoulders.

  • To feel your diaphragm move as you breathe place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your ribs on your stomach.

  • Take a slow, full breath in through your nose for about two seconds. Experience the air moving through your nostrils into your abdomen, making your stomach expand. During this type of breathing, make sure your stomach is moving outward while your chest remains relatively still.

(your hand below your ribs moves in and out with each breath).

  • Press gently on your stomach, and exhale slowly for about two seconds through your nose (or mouth) and tighten your diaphragm

(just like squeezing a lemon to get all the juice out)

  • The hand on your upper chest should remain as still as possible throughout.

Repeat these steps several times for best results.

It may take you a bit of effort at first to do this cuz it ain’t the usual way you breathe.

With continued practice, diaphragmatic breathing becomes easier, Easier, EASIER.

After you get the hang of it, you can practice diaphragmatic breathing  . . . without using your hand.  

 

 

 

ME, a Stress Case? . . . This Anxiety Reduction Technique is for YOU too

Judy’s Self Reflection

I’m not a worrier by nature but during the past weeks and all the uncertainty about Covid-19 spreading throughout the world plus the fact that I have underlying medical conditions (I’m not mentioning my age!) I have had trouble falling asleep.

Tossing and turning, it took me 2 hours to realize my entire body was tense.

I relaxed my muscles. They tensed up againI relaxed again.  Muscles from head to toe tensed up again and again as if I were a trained athlete who had practiced so many times my muscle memory was so strong practice was no longer needed.

Flashing before my eyes was every therapy session I’ve ever had with anyone who had anxiety, PTSD, was a caretaker, had a sick loved one, experienced loss of any kind, anticipated loss, was in pain or had a medical condition. . . .

I had explained the relaxation response so many times that I automatically recognized the stress response in others (others being the operant word).

I know that our brains automatically perceive danger in any emotional, physical or imagined threat and sends signals to our bodies to ready us to flee or fight off our enemy.  Muscle tension is needed for running like hell or slugging it out – now’s not the time to relax if you want to live.

The opposite of DANGER is SAFETY

I’ve taught one of the very best, easiest mind-body techniques that calms the brain hundreds, maybe thousands, of times.  It absolutely works and only took me an hour of tossing and turning to remember to use it myself.

Best of all it requires no Rx, no money, no time and you take it with you where ever you go.

Safe Signal Breath:

1. Take a deep breath through your nose.
2. Hold the breath for just a moment
3. As you release the breath, through your nose, very gently, silently say: “Thank you brain, I’m safe.” (Be kind to your brain.  It’s just trying to keep you from being eaten alive)

Sound too simple!?

Our brains are relatively simple in that brains 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) or when we imagine danger through thoughts or other cues.

Imagine a snake, a spider, anything that you are afraid of. Your brain will signal “danger! danger!” and flood your cells with the neurochemistry of fear.  Watch a sad movie and your brain will flood you with the neurochemistry of sadness and, if you are like me, sob like a baby.
So, tell your brain you are safe and it will stop the neurochemistry of fear and anxiety.  

It’s not instant cup’o’soup because once you are flooded with the anxious feeling it will take about 20 minutes or so for the neurochemistry to metabolize out of your body’s cells.  No matter how you FEEL keep giving your brain the “I’m Safe” cue.

Here’s the Key for Continual or Chronic Threats

Yoga, meditation, mindfulness prayer, listening to relaxation recordings all help. However, to break into a CHRONIC cycle you need to chronically signal your brain to stop sending the neurochemistry of the stress response to your body. Let your brain know that no one is throwing grenades at you, animals are not trying to eat you alive, you are SAFE.

Continually “Sprinkle” the Breath/I’m safe cue throughout the day and evening. It’s a good idea to get a cue(s) to remind yourself to do this. A post-it-note on the bathroom mirror, every time your phone rings, a note in your appointment book etc.

You HAVE to breathe anyway so you’ve got nothing to lose — except your stress response!

My Self Realization

I figured out that I had a legitimate reason to be anxious while virus swirl around the world looking for bodies to inhabit.