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Camille A.

@camille_aa671

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Anxiety Is In What We Do

A new book by psychiatrist Judson Brewer, Unwinding Anxiety, proposes that anxiety exists in our daily habits, and is not something that simply goes away by breathing exercises.

Our brain is addicted to the habits due to the rewards attached to them, and we need to dismantle and decouple the rewards in order to break free from the habit and eventually the associated anxiety.

@camille_aa671

How Anxiety Hides in Your Habits

greatergood.berkeley.edu

We are struggling with anxiety as our habits don’t let us part with it, with the pleasure and pain coming in a package. The habit loop of any habit cycle is:

  1. Trigger: A feeling of anxiety.
  2. Behaviour: Doing something (like eating a chocolate or lighting a smoke).
  3. Result: Temporary distraction from anxiety.

Review your daily actions and map out the habits that create such loops.

Anxiety triggers habit loops, but can also be the result of a habit loop (like reading the news online). Constant worrying is also a reinforcing pattern of habit loops.

The reward can be a eureka moment towards a potential solution (which is rare) or a feeling of productivity and passive action, providing us with a sense of control.

The brain labels our actions and behaviour as ‘rewarding’, usually in our formative years. We need to review our behaviour and habits and update the brain’s reward system.

Example: We may be having a habit of eating a lot of cake, since our childhood. Now as an adult, the habit is resulting in a high intake of sugar, without our realizing it.

If we use this method to review and update our reward system, the brain will naturally lose the urge to take the habitual action, something much more powerful than using willpower, which only suppresses the urge.

Creating healthy habits requires mindfulness, so that new habit loops can be inserted when a trigger surfaces in your mind.

  • Be curious and mindful at all times if possible, tuning into your breath whenever anxiety arises.
  • Practice RAIN: Recognize and relax into the NOW, accepting it in your life. Investigate the sensations arising in your body, noting down what is happening to you.
  • Label each experience and witness it from a distance, creating space between you and the sensation.
  • Practice kindness and love towards yourself and others.
  • Review and update the brain’s reward system in a positive way, inserting good behaviour and positive habit loops.
The First Thing To Drink In The Morning

Nutrition experts provide their insights on our morning hydration process:

  • Drink water, even if not thirsty, as the body needs to rehydrate.
  • Make the ritual of drinking something beautiful, an easy activity that does not feel hurried or like another task. Avoid adding stress to your drink.

What To Drink First Thing In The Morning, According To Nutritionists | HuffPost Life

huffpost.com

  • Energy drinks with too much caffeine are not recommended early in the morning.
  • Hot or cold tea is an excellent choice with abundant health benefits, especially with lemon added.
  • Coffee is everyone’s drink of choice, and plenty of hydration before a cup helps the system. Make it healthier by adding cinnamon and brown sugar.
  • Do not start your day with diet or regular soda, ever.
What successful diets have in common
  • Low in added sugar. 
  • Eliminate refined carbs. 
  • Avoid vegetable oils high in Omega-6 Fat.
  • Eliminate artificial trans fats, linked to inflammation and conditions like heart disease.
  • Emphasize eating plenty of vegetables and in most cases, fruits.
  • Emphasize a lifestyle change that includes whole foods and let weight loss follow as a natural side effect.

6 Things the World's Most Successful Diets Have in Common

healthline.com

Exercise Defined

Exercise is a  movement of the body to enhance physical fitness. 

Most people know that exercise is important for the physical development of the self, yet a majority of them are skipping exercise often.

Why exercise alone won't save us

theguardian.com

Decrease in Human Strength

Historic evidence suggests that for many thousands of years, human beings were more active and stronger than today. 

The early humans had increased movement and activity, like going for long and tiring hunts, walking long distances that took weeks, making the prehistoric humans fitter than the best athletes today.

Technology as the Culprit

Technological breakthroughs have reduced our activity to a great extent ( vacuum cleaners, washer-dryers, self-cleaning ovens, and even cars).

The rise of the internet gave us a whole lot of technology, curbing our need to move even more.

Change in Work Profiles

While we aren't replacing our saved energy with a different activity, in the past 70 years, hard and manual labor, which required toil and sweat, has been replaced by desk jobs, leading to sedentary lifestyles.

Sedentary Lifestyle Death Toll

Sedentary lifestyle diseases like heart disease/strokes and diabetes are the leading cause of death in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

The Way Out

The way to change this sedentary epidemic:

  • Exercise and be active all day, not just for an hour a day.
  • Rethink your working style.
  • Limit the number of sitting hours.
  • Make it a habit to eat right.
Breathing And Stress Reduction

Breathing exercises are an ancient and time-tested technique to reduce stress, manage negative emotions and help with many other ailments.

New studies show that breathing exercises are extremely effective in both long-term and short-term stress reduction. Changing your breath from an irregular one to a calm, deep one has a calming effect on our emotions, slows our heart rate, and signals relaxation.

Research: Why Breathing Is So Effective at Reducing Stress

hbr.org

When we are in a highly stressed state, no amount of ‘talking’ can calm us down as our brain's prefrontal cortex region is impaired at those moments.

Breathing regulates our emotions like stress, anxiety and anger, and helps us regain control of our mind.

  • The most common and effective breathing exercise is to breathe in (inhale) for four seconds and then breathe out(exhale) for about eight seconds, for a few minutes. Lengthening our exhales reduces agitations, calming us down.
  • There are several deep breathing programs like SKY Breath Meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction (being aware of each moment without judgement) and others which are highly impactful and need to be studied in detail to get the full benefits.
The history of refrigeration

Refrigeration is the action of creating cooling conditions by removing heat. It is used for preserving food by slowing bacteria growth.

  • Around 1000BC, the Chinese used to cut and store ice.
  • Five hundred years later, the Egyptians and Indians left earthenware pots out during cold nights to make ice.
  • In the 17th century, it was found that saltpeter dissolved in water creates cooling conditions.
  • In the 18th century, Europeans collected ice in winter, salted it, wrapped it in flannel, and stored it underground for months. Ice was even shipped around the world.
  • People also used cool cellars or placed goods underwater.
  • Others built ice boxes out of wood, lined with tin or zinc, and insulated with cork, sawdust, or seaweed, and filled with snow or ice.

Who Invented the Refrigerator? | Live Science

livescience.com

  • 1720s. Scottish doctor William Cullen saw that evaporation had a cooling effect.
  • 1748. Cullen demonstrated his ideas by evaporating ethyl ether in a vacuum.
  • 1805. Oliver Evans designed a refrigeration machine that used vapor instead of liquid.
  • 1820. English scientist Micahel Faraday used liquefied ammonia for cooling.
  • 1835. Jacob Perkins, who worked with Evans, patented a vapor-compression cycle using liquid ammonia.
  • 1842. John Gorrie, an American doctor, built a machine similar to Evans's design to artificially create ice and cool down patients with yellow fever.
  • New and improved refrigeration ideas continued to be developed, including Albert Einstein's idea of an environmentally friendly refrigerator with no moving parts that did not rely on electricity.
  • By 1920, refrigerators were considered essential in American homes.

Refrigerators today work by evaporating liquids.

The liquids are pushed through the refrigerator through tubes and begin to vaporize. As the liquids evaporate, they carry heat away with them as the gases travel to a coil outside the refrigerator. Here the heat is released. The gases return to a compressor, where they become liquid again, restarting the cycle.

  • The first refrigerators contained flammable, toxic, and highly reactive liquids and gasses.
  • Most refrigerators use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are safer than Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs are known to be harmful to the ozone layer.
  • Refrigerators should be set at a maximum of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius) to prevent food contamination.

New technologies in refrigeration include solid-state refrigerators and refrigerators that use magnets.

  • Solid-state refrigerators use the refrigerator's entire surface to slowly get rid of the heat. Solid-state refrigerators are also free from harmful materials and loud operations.
  • Refrigerators that use magnets provide a vibration-free, silent, environmentally friendly refrigerator. It uses a magnetocaloric heat pump (using a material that heats up in a magnetic field and cools down when it is not) with water-based coolant. It also uses up to 35 percent less power than traditional refrigerators.
Sleep Paralysis

Apparent hallucinations of a dark monster holding the sleeping person, while he or she is unable to move or speak, is a phenomenon that is experienced by one-fifth of the population at least once.

Scientists dismiss these episodes as hallucinations, but cultural beliefs pinpoint towards mythical monsters/demons, black magic and paranormal activity.

Sleep Paralysis and the Monsters Inside Your Mind

scientificamerican.com

Scientists claim a brain glitch blurs the wakefulness and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) modes of sleep, making the dreams come out in the real world, creating a hallucination.

To prevent you from acting out these dreams, the brain paralyses your body. Sometimes this mechanism fails and you see your dream in augmented reality in the real world.

The Egyptians referred to sleep paralysis as something caused by a ‘Jinn’, which terrorizes and even kills the victims. Italians refer to this figure as Pandafeche, a giant cat.

South Africans interpret this as small creatures known as tokoloshe, who perform black magic, while in Turkey the creature has another name, the Karabasan.

The ‘brain glitch’ explanation does not do justice to what is experienced by many victims throughout history and many fearful of a ‘demon attack’ episode, as it might be deadly to them.

The fear and resulting panic create a vicious circle in the minds of the victim, feeding into the demon, and making sleep paralysis chronic and deadly. People who are under depression or have had a traumatic experience are often more vulnerable to the attack.

The human brain vs. the computer

When we contemplate which has more problem-solving power, the brain or the computer, we might think that the modern computer would come out on top. Indeed, computers have been built and programmed to beat human masters in complex games, such as chess.

However, humans still trump computers in many real-world tasks, such as identifying a particular pedestrian on a crowded city street. Computers are unable to beat humans at conceptualization and creativity.

Why Is the Human Brain So Efficient?

nautil.us

Comparing the computer and the brain has been instructive to both computer engineers and neuroscientists.

  • Computers are faster with basic operations, at a speed of 10 billion operations per second, while the brain can perform at about a thousand basic operations per second.
  • The computer has considerable advantages in the precision of basic operations. A 32-bit computer has a precision of 1 in 4,2 billion, while the brain has a precision of 1 in 100 at best.

The brain is not slow nor imprecise in performing calculations.

For example, a professional tennis player can follow the trajectory of a tennis ball after it is served at speed as high as 160 miles per hour, move to the best spot, position his arm, and swing the racket to return the ball within a few hundred milliseconds. It can accomplish all these tasks with power consumption about tenfold less than a personal computer.

This is all possible because the brain employs serial and parallel processing, while computer tasks are mainly performed in serial steps.

The brain takes advantage of the large number of neurons (100 billion neurons) and the large number of connections each neuron makes. (100 trillion synapses)

Each neuron collects inputs from and sends output to many other neurons. At the same time, many neurons that work on the same information can pool their data to the same downstream neuron, thereby enhancing the precision of information processing.

In the signaling mode of their elementary units, the computer and the brain have similarities and differences. The transistor in a computer employs digital signaling, which uses zeros and ones to represent information. The brain uses digital as well as analog signaling.

Another important property of the brain is that the connection strengths between neurons can be changed in response to activity and experience. Repetitive training enables the neuronal circuits to become better configured and results in improved speed and precision.

Over the years, engineers have taken inspiration from the brain to improve computer design.

The principles of parallel processing and use-dependent modification of connection strength have been incorporated into modern computers, for example, increased parallelism such as the use of multiple processors in a computer, and deep learning in the discipline of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Yet the brain is still superior in flexibility, generalizability, and learning capability. As more secrets about the brain are uncovered, engineers can take more inspiration from the working of the brain to improve computers.

Fitness vloggers

There are more than 30 million fitness videos on YouTube alone and many more on other social media platforms.

Upcoming fitness instructors can publish and gain a following without a star status, a fancy studio or expensive equipment, by recording and editing their workouts.

How has the fitness video adapted to the YouTube age?

bbc.com

The goal of the traditional workout video was weight loss and fitness. More recently, there has been a switch in fitness videos.

It is now more focused on an intimate and interactive experience with your favorite fitness vlogger.

Fitness vloggers are able to attract a mass audience and use their influence to introduce products to their viewers. They are picky about the products they introduce and want only to promote something they would use themselves.

A study by a marketing platform found that 92% of people preferred hearing about brands from influencers, rather than through paid adverts.

  • Fitness studios realize the potential of live streaming videos of classes and videos.
  • Standalone services, such as Flex Tv, provide online access to live high-intensity interval training workouts and yoga classes.

The revenue comes from advertising share and sponsorship for those with a large enough social media following.

While it feels satisfying to have sore, aching limbs, and a sign of a good workout. This is entirely unnecessary and one can eliminate the soreness by doing slow reps, or avoiding eccentric (muscle lengthening) movements that can cause muscle tears. Progress is possible without sore limbs.

Soreness is good and scales are pointless: the 10 biggest myths in fitness

theguardian.com

Heavy Lifting For Bulk

One can get stronger by increasing the size of the individual muscle fibers, and by recruiting more of the muscle fiber to work together when needed. 

A bulky body is also considered a negative in certain sports. Getting bulky is a specific, targeted training which includes high-volume exercises, calorie intake, and protein supplements, and cannot be attained by simply lifting heavier weights.

Scales are actually useful in providing you with information about your general progress and direction.

This oft-repeated myth is often used as an excuse. Knees actually get better with properly done squats. 

Running is also considered a great way to keep the knee stabilizer muscles in good shape and lower the risk of arthritis.

Spot Reduction Of Fat

While it seems logical to target certain areas of the body, it is best to exercise in a holistic manner, not messing up with any particular areas of the body. You can’t really choose where you will lose fat from.

While modern fitness classes detest rest, less of it between reps will, in fact, do the opposite: negate your hard work.

Machines, though limiting your natural movement, are providing extra stimulus to an isolated, specific set of muscles. 

Machines aren't counterproductive or dangerous, and simply need to be combined with free-body exercises.

While it does provide a designed body movement, there are many alternatives. Cross-trainers are popular as they are intuitive and do help burn some calories, but they aren’t the best.

Shorter and Faster

Speed is sometimes the enemy in a workout and longer workouts have effects which short sprints or micro-workouts cannot compete with. Doing ‘flash’ workouts may be necessary sometimes due to time limitations, but that’s all the benefit there is.

Not all of us are created equal and have different energy levels, body type, and general physiology. An ideal physical activity should be something that doesn’t injure us, does not make us weary or sad or make us want to stop doing it.

So there isn’t any best way to train ourselves, just that we can do any physical activity that suits us.

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