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Allergic reactions

Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to environmental substances that are harmless to most people.

Common allergens are food, pollen, dust mites, animals, insect stings, or medicines.

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Health

Most allergic reactions are only mild to moderate and can effectively be treated with antihistamines. But other reactions can be life-threatening and require emergency medical treatment.

The most severe allergic reactions are known as anaphylaxis, and people who suffer from it should have an emergency management plan that includes an adrenaline auto-injector.

Allergies are becoming more frequent in the western world. One in twenty will develop a food allergy in their life, and one in 100 will have a life-threatening allergic reaction.

From 1994 to 2004, hospital admissions for anaphylaxis doubled. In children under five years old, it was five times higher over the same period, suggesting allergy in early life is increasing faster than in adults.

Theories for why the number of allergies is rising:

  • Decreased exposure to infections or microbes in early life. This is known as the hygiene hypothesis.
  • Delayed introduction of allergenic foods until later in childhood, such as eggs and nuts.
  • Different methods of preparing foods. For example, roasting peanuts increases allergenicity while boiling reduces them.
  • Vit D deficiency increases the risk of developing allergies, according to several studies.
  • Allergies may develop after exposure to allergens.
  • Altered gut bacterial species due to low-fibre diets and antibiotic use.
Staying mentally strong and healthy

Prevention is the best medicine. It is really difficult to pull out of negative spirals once we've fallen into them.

  • It's hard to pull out of a major depressive episode once we're in the habit of beating ourselves up.
  • It's hard to stop worrying once we've started imagining all the worst possible outcomes.

Not that pulling out of these problems is impossible. It isn't. But it can be a struggle. Life can be much better if we can creatively avoid these negative cycles in the first place.

Mindfulness is a great way to train and control your attention - what you choose to focus on. Mindfulness can help you stop worrying and instead focus on the positives in your life; it can help you stop criticizing yourself and prevent you from procrastinating.

Good ways to get started:

  • Formal mindfulness practice, where you practise in a structured way for a fixed time.
  • Ordinary mindfulness, where you apply the lessons learned in mindfulness practice to real-life situations.
High-Intensity Interval Training

This method is where you exercise very intensely for short amounts of time. For example, 3 - 4 intense 30-minute workouts per week.

Regular exercise is one of the best ways to stay mentally healthy. High-Intensity Interval Training is logistically convenient and has beneficial effects from sleep to depression.

Getting consistently good rest will benefit everything from your immune system to your emotions.

Do just these two things:

  1. Be consistent with your evening routine each night. Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This will train your mind to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  2. Don't think or worry in bed. Your brain should associate bed with falling asleep. This means you should have a dedicated time and routine for problem-solving before bed.
Intermittent fasting

Intermittent Fasting means that you restrict your eating to a certain window of time. For example, start eating at noon and eat the last meal at 7:00.

Intermittent Fasting is the simplest framework for eating well. Cultivating an effective and reliable intermittent fasting system is very good to maintain our physical and mental health.

We all have shortcomings and blindspots. Try to take active steps to counteract them by regularly asking for feedback from people you trust.

This is often uncomfortable but almost always productive as it forces us to stay self-aware and keep working on ourselves.

Assertiveness

The ability to directly and respectfully ask for what you want, and setting boundaries on what you don't want, is key to building self-confidence and living according to your values.

Being assertive is not being rude or demanding, but a way to respect ourselves enough to ask for what we want. In the long run, we're teaching our brain that our wants are worthy of being taken seriously.

When you feel stressed or anxious, never worry in your head.

If you must worry, write out how you think and feel rather than just letting it loop over in your head. Putting it on paper forces you to slow your thoughts down.

The 4:55 drill

Staying organized and on track with all your responsibilities is a big part of not getting stressed out.

An effective technique for staying focused and productive is the 4:55 drill. At 4:55 ( or five minutes before you leave your office), jot down the three most important things you need to do the following day and leave that face-up on your desk.

  • It decreases your anxiety and stress about work during the evenings.
  • It clarifies what you need to do and reduces friction in the morning.
  • Not all mental health habits and routines should apply to everyone, but most are universally applicable.
  • Not all mental health habits are mentioned, nor are they gospel.
  • Many of the mental health habits are not psychological in nature. Mental health is built on top of a foundation of physical health. If that foundation isn't strong, what sits on top will also not be strong.
All About Endorphins
  • Research in the 1970s revealed that endorphins are natural narcotics inside our body, neurotransmitters that pass along signals in the nervous system.
  • Endorphins are produced during stress, pain or fear and originate from the pituitary gland, the spinal cord and other parts of the brain and nervous system.
  • There are 20 different kinds of endorphins, with beta-endorphins being the strong type.

Endorphins are secreted during stress or pain to block out the bad sensations, and are also responsible for pleasurable sensations that we get from eating our favourite food or having sex. Our brain generates emotions from an area called the limbic system, which has a specific region called hypothalamus, responsible for functions like breathing, hunger and emotional response.

Problems with the endorphin binding process result in clinical depression or sudden changes in emotions.

Endorphins are our own personal drugs supplied to us by our body, without the addiction part. Opiates (the artificial, addictive drug) are not as effective or safe as endorphins, which provide us with a sense of well-being and pleasure simply by belief and anticipation, called the Placebo Effect.

Opiates are addictive while endorphins are completely non-addictive, due to the fact that endorphins are more easily broken down and digested by our body’s receptors, leading to non-dependence.

Our endocrine system decides when we eat when we will reach puberty and when we need endorphins and other hormonal secretions from various glands.

Endorphins are triggered by the hypothalamus in our bodies when we are in stress, in pain or are doing:

  1. Heavy exercise.
  2. Meditation or controlled-breathing exercise like Pranayama (Yoga).
  3. Childbirth
  4. Light drinking.
  5. Eating hot chilli.
  6. Acupuncture or massage therapy.
  7. Ultraviolet Light.
Love is vital in recovering from serious mental illness

Love is critical to help us keep faith with life and rescue us from severe mental illness.

In fact, anyone who has ever suffered from mental illness and recovers will do so because of love, whether from a friend, a partner, a child, or a parent.

When we are sick in our minds, we have this punishing sense of how terrible we are, even if we often can't point to a specific crime. We are appalled by, and unforgiving of, who we are.

In this situation, a loving companion can make all the difference. They don't try to persuade us of our worth. They make pleasant conversation about something that won't make us anxious. They can tolerate how ill we are and will stick by us. They love us for who we are rather than what we do.

Patronising pity can make the attention of others oppressive.

Loving companions do not judge us as beneath them. They don't oppress us by clinging to their belief in their own solidity and competence. Our companions indicate that they too might one day be in our place and suffer with and for us.

Many mental traumas are the result of abandonment, and the neglect has thrown us off balance ever since. We may find it hard to depend on others.

A loving companion is ready to fight to earn our trust. We may try to incite despair and frustration and say some awful things to a carer we love. A wise companion will remain unruffled because they understand they are tested.

The mentally ill person is continually worried about ongoing and limitless torment. What if someone wants to take them away? What if the voices in their head never go away?

The loving companion does their best to quieten the panic. They present the future as unknowable but that the future will be fundamentally safe and bearable. They insist that they will be there.

When mentally ill, we may want to return again and again to the subject that should normally have been dealt with.

However, the loving response is to take the worry as seriously as possible and address it head-on without scoffing or denying the scale of the concern.

A loving companion looking after a mentally sick friend doesn't care very much about what other people may think. They don't care if they are in a minority when loving us.

We are not loved for anything we have done, but simply because we exist.

Your mental health is like a wallet

This metaphor means seeing your mental health as a wallet: money comes in, money comes out. How much money is in there is how many adverse events you can go through while sustaining your mental health.

We usually only worry about our mental health during distressing events, and don't take into consideration the many daily events that empty our mental health wallet, often without us realizing it.

  • The ways people are using social media has more of an impact on their mental health than just the frequency and duration of their use.
  • Microaggressions and discrimination.
  • Urban life: urbanites are 21% more likely to have anxiety disorders and 39% more likely to have mood disorders.
  • Financial worries have been linked to mental health issues among university students, and about half of people in problem debt.
  • Lack of sleep, a poor diet and alcohol consumption.
  • Journaling has many science-based benefits. It can be used to reduce your anxiety or process traumatic events.
  • Exercise is powerful medicine. Whenever you are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed, try to go for a short run to clear your head.
  • Talking it out. Not expressing your feelings will not help you process them. And talking about your emotions is not about receiving advice. Instead, it’s about having someone to share what you are going through.
  • Educate yourself. Read about mental health, common adverse events impacting people’s mental health, and the different realities faced by different populations when it comes to mental health.
  • Listen without judgement. Validate the person’s experience. Do not jump to giving advice. Offer them a space to share.
  • Be mindful of your language. Avoid vocabulary such as “crazy” or “insane” which may dehumanise the person you are trying to help.

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