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.
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:
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.
Nutrition experts provide their insights on our morning hydration process:
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.
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.
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.
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 diseases like heart disease/strokes and diabetes are the leading cause of death in the world, according to the World Health Organization.
The way to change this sedentary epidemic:
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.
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.
Refrigeration is the action of creating cooling conditions by removing heat. It is used for preserving food by slowing bacteria growth.
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.
New technologies in refrigeration include solid-state refrigerators and refrigerators that use magnets.
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.
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.
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.
Comparing the computer and the brain has been instructive to both computer engineers and neuroscientists.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.