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Elaina Y.

@elaina_y61

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What mindfulness is

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

@elaina_y61

Getting Started with Mindfulness - Mindful

mindful.org

What meditation is

Meditation is exploring. When we meditate we venture into the workings of our minds: sensations, emotions and thoughts.

Mindfulness meditation asks us to suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness, to ourselves and others.

Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. And then I sometimes add, in the service of self-understanding and wisdom.”
Basics of Mindfulness Practice
  • You don’t need  special equipment, but you do need to set aside some time and space.
  • Observe the present moment as it is. 
  • Let your judgments roll by. 
  • Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. 
  • Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up.
  • Sit comfortably. 
  • Notice what your legs and arms are doing. 
  • Straighten your upper body—but don’t stiffen. 
  • Soften your gaze. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. It’s not necessary to close your eyes. 
  • Feel your breath. Bring your attention to the physical sensation of breathing.
  • Notice when your mind wanders from your breath. 
  • Be kind about your wandering mind. Practice observing them without reacting.
  • When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze. Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. 

  • Understand your pain. Mindfulness can help you reshape your relationship with mental and physical pain.
  • Connect better. Mindfulness helps you give your full attention to people you interact with.
  • Lower stress. 
  • Focus your mind. Meditation hones our innate ability to focus.
  • Reduce brain chatter, that nattering, chattering voice in our head seems never to leave us alone. 

The croissant

The croissant is a flaky breakfast food that is so culturally iconic and French that many defer to its native pronunciation (krwa-sohn).

Yet, in the 19th century, the French viewed the croissant as a foreign novelty that was only sold in special Viennese bakeries in Paris's wealthier parts.

Is the Croissant Really French?

smithsonianmag.com

The croissant was inspired by the Austrian kipfel - a crescent-shaped baked good featuring a generous amount of butter or lard.

  • The kipfel originated in 1683. The story is that during the Ottomans siege of Vienna, a baker, who rises early to make bread, saved the city when he heard the Turks tunnelling underneath the city and sounded an alarm.
  • The curved shape of the kipfel mimics the crescent moon of the Ottoman Flag.

The croissant started as the Austrian kipfel but became French when people began to make it with puffed pastry. There is no reference to the croissant in France before about the 1850s.

An Austrian entrepreneur named August Zang opened the first Viennese bakery in Paris in 1838. Zang's ability for marketing had Parisians flocking to his establishment to sample his Vienna bread, kaiser rolls, and kipfel. By 1840, there were at least a dozen makers of Viennese bread.

The croissant took the fast-food industry by storm in the late 1900s, as manufacturers introduced pre-made frozen dough and takeaway "croissanteries" that popped up throughout France.

The frozen croissant was introduced to America in 1981, which soon outpaced the pound cakes in sales. The croissant morphed into Cronuts (doughnuts made with croissant dough). The most recent incarnation is the Baissant, or bagel croissant.

Michel Lyczak was the 2014 winner of the "best butter croissant" award.

  • He states that an excellent croissant depends on the quality of the ingredients: sugar, salt, high-protein flour, eggs, fresh, cold milk, and butter.
  • The butter is a variety from the southwestern region of Poitou-Charentes, carefully washed in spring water before folding it by hand into the pastry dough.
  • After flattening and folding the dough, it is cut into triangles by hand, then refrigerated for 12 hours to ferment. Without this step, you won't get the layers and will end up with bread.
Popping Bubble Wraps
  • There is something uniquely satisfying in popping sheets of bubble wraps and it seems to relate to the calming power of touch.
  • Studies on undergraduates showed that popping two sheets of bubble wraps made them feel calmer, awake and alert.
  • Popping bubbles is a way to release muscle tension, and just like clicking the pen or jiggling one's foot, it helps reduce stress and stabilize one's nervous energy.

Why Is Popping Bubble Wrap So Satisfying?

thecut.com

Stress and anxiety: related, but not synonymous states

We often use the words “anxiety” and “stress” interchangeably. Both are normal, adaptive responses to life’s challenges and share many symptoms ( for example, worry, stomach aches, restlessness, muscle tension, racing thoughts, headaches, sleepless nights, etc.)

But despite their similarities, there are important differences between the two. And knowing the differences is the first step towards finding relief.

Am I Anxious or Just Stressed?

hbr.org

  • It is designed to make it easier for us to fight or flee from life-threatening triggers.
  • Stress is usually defined as a response to an external trigger, and can either be acute (a tight deadline) or chronic (persistent financial trouble).
  • While stress might not feel good in the moment, it can still be helpful by motivating us to stay alert and take action when we need to.

Anxiety is mostly triggered internally by excessive thoughts (for example, judgments about the past or worries about the future).

Like stress, anxiety can be useful in the right scenarios. The discomfort it makes us feel was designed to alert us of something, precisely so that we listen up and protect ourselves.

When left unchecked, both stress and anxiety can escalate into more severe mental health conditions.

  • Anxiety disorder, which includes generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is the most common mental health condition in the U.S., affecting more than 40 million Americans.
  • Globally, anxiety disorders are also the most common mental health condition, affecting up to one in 13 people.
  • The basic criteria for determining whether stress or anxiety have become problematic is whether they have begun adversely affecting key domains of your life.
Health benefits of dance
  • Boost Memory
  • Improve Flexibility
  • Reduce Stress
  • Diminish Depression
  • Help Your Heart, especially for those at risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Helps to Lose Weight
  • Improves Balance. Frequent dancing will help you stabilize and gain better control of your body.
  • Increase Energy
  • A dance class is the perfect setting to make new friends and branch out socially.

9 Health Benefits of Dance - Fitness Center - Everyday Health

everydayhealth.com

Stress defined

Stress is a state of mental tension or emotional strain due to adverse or demanding circumstances, events, and situations.

Stress is hard to measure and someone may be suffering from it while showing no external signs.

What makes us stronger

economist.com

Causes of stress

The American Psychological Association (APA) says that the most common causes of stress (in the US) are finance, work, and family-related and that they affect more of the younger generations.

Constant stress

There is a constant need to be hyper-connected in today's modern workplaces, leading to a constant feeling of anxiety. 

Social media is bombarding everyone with unattainable, unrealistic goals. There are rising cases of high blood pressure, headaches, and insomnia, all related to stress. Constant stress can lead to heart disease, diabetes, mental disorders and depression.

Moderate stress is good

A limited amount of stress can actually be beneficial. Situations and circumstances like a deadline, or a sports competition can boost the body in constructive and positive ways.

The body also recognizes 'good stress' which is positive in its workings on the body, during moderate challenges.

Stress can make us stronger

In less extreme situations, the body and brain produce adrenaline, and the heart provides more blood, the brain is sharper and the body releases stress hormones, which can be beneficial in coping up and handling those situations.

Get quality sleep

Sleeping is one of the most important things that you need so that your body won't feel exhausted on a daily basis. Try to sleep about 7-8 hours on a daily basis consistently.

Sleeping too little or too much can be damaging to your body which can cause many complications such as: weight gain, lowered immunity, increased risk of diabetes and heart problems, and an increase in risk of accidents as well.

Tips on How to Feel More Awake and Alert During the Day

verywellmind.com

Protein consumption and energy levels

If time allows, make yourself a decent breakfast like scrambled eggs or enjoy a fruit bowl. Consuming protein for breakfast allows your body to avert the inconsistent sugar level that would ultimately result to your body being more alert.

Having a proper diet is essential to having more energy that your body can consume, but having sugar for breakfast - muffins, cereal, or a doughnut - leads to a spike in blood sugar level which would make your body crave a nap.

Increase your energy levels by exercising

This may sound silly, but daily fatigue can actually be a way for your body to tell you that you need more stimulating activities.

Exercise raises your metabolism, boosts your mood and helps you sleep better at night. If hitting the gym ins't for you or doesn't fit in your schedule, a 20-minute brisk walk helps.

Dehydration and fatigue

Not enough people drink the right amount of water needed by their bodies. Dehydration can lead to fatigue so always make sure to keep a bottle of water at reach.

If you still feel sleepy after drinking water, try washing your hands and face in cold water. It would surely give you the zing needed to feel awake.

Let yourself have fun

The best morning energizers doesn't cost much. By doing something you find enjoyable in the morning, like listening to music, watching an episode of your favorite show, or engaging in sexual intercourse with your partner - could easily set your mood on the right track and start your day right.

Having small changes in your daily routine can keep you alert throughout the day.

Mood boosters

If you run out of activities to help boost your mood, here are some other ways to relieve stress:

  • Volunteering
  • Journaling
  • Practicing Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Practicing your faith.
Existential Angst And Our Future
  • We are increasingly faced with global issues related to politics, climate change, war, and other existential threats.
  • The normal tendency is to worry endlessly and repeatedly think about things that have happened, which can lead to depression.
  • The troubling fact is that if the threat is massive, we feel helpless and end up thinking more about the same.

Eco-anxiety: How does the human mind deal with existential threats? - BBC Science Focus Magazine

sciencefocus.com

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines Eco-Anxiety as a mental health issue due to climate change. This and other existential threats are processed in the anterior cingulate cortex(ACC), a region of our brain that is also responsible for our behaviour.

Eco-Anxiety cannot be treated as it is not a specific mental health problem (yet), and we need to calm our mind by taking affirmative action. We need to concentrate on what can be controlled, taking step-by-step action, no matter how small it is, like recycling or buying second-hand, to minimize our environmental impact on the planet.

  • Restrict our news consumption.
  • Spend more time with nature
  • Read a diverse range of material.
  • Spend time with friends and loved ones.
  • Be aware of the effects of constant worry on your health.
  • Eat healthily.
  • Sleep well.
  • Get adequate exercise.
1,700 distinct varieties of cheese

Animal milk is used to create over 1,700 distinct varieties of cheese; creamy Brie, buttery Gouda, crumbly Parmesan, stringy mozzarella, sharp Cheddar, to name a few.

The staggering variety of cheeses is testimony to cheesemakers' creativity throughout the ages, but the real stars of the show are the microbes.

Why is cheese so addictive?

sciencefocus.com

All cheeses start from animal milk, including cow, buffalo, goat, sheep, and even camel.

  • The milk is first warmed to a temperature ideal for microbes to flourish.
  • Next, acid or rennet is added, alongside some 'starter' bacteria that causes the milk proteins and fats to coagulate, curdling the milk.
  • The curds can be drained and chopped into chunks and scooped into moulds.
  • The initial 'starter' bacteria die off over several weeks and other microbes take over to enhance the flavour that creates the potent flavours and aromas.
  • Salt is added to stop microbes responsible for spoiling the process.
  • The 'ripening' microbes break the proteins in the cheese into amino acids, many of which have their own flavour.
  • Particularly voracious bacteria and fungi will break down amino acids even further to produce the truly smelly by-products.

Over the months of ripening, smelly parts can interact in new ways to produce more flavour-carrying molecules, such as a hint of nutty, spicy, woody, grassy, or burnt oats. More fat in the cheese generally makes it tastier.

Flavour compounds typically dissolve well in oils, fats, and alcohol, but poorly in water. Fat-rich foods will therefore cover your tongue with a flavour that lingers.

Some microorganisms digest more than proteins, they also digest fat, such as the Penicillium moulds found in blue cheese. The broken-down molecules may have a peppery taste, while others create an off-putting stink.

One of the substances, known as mushroom alcohol, has a mouldy smell, also found in breath and sweat. The really stinky cheeses, such as Munster and Limburger, contain molecules identical to those given off from old socks.

Our food-obsessed minds crave novelty. When we have a new flavour offered, the desire to try something novel is irresistible.

There are also some scientific-sounding claims that cheese is as addictive as cocaine because it contains opium-like chemicals called casomorphin peptides.

Understanding how long food lasts

Should humanity face a nuclear apocalypse of worldwide war, we need to understand which foods might be safe for survivors to eat, and how long the foods will last.

To understand this, we need to ask what makes food spoil.

The food that could last 2,000 years

bbc.com

Most foods spoil because of the growth of microbes. Preserving food is an attempt to limit microbial growth. Food can be preserved by drying, salting, chilling, or storing in air-tight containers.

  • Drying is the most effective because microbial growth is inhibited.
  • Salting is effective because it removes moisture, creating an environment where microbes cannot survive.
  • Sugar coating can prevent bacterial cells from functioning correctly.
  • Storing in air-tight containers is less effective because there are probably a lot of microbes on the food before you put it in the container. Some microbes are anaerobic, meaning they don't need oxygen.

Preservatives are used in foods to extend their shelf lives. One of McDonald's Big Mac in Iceland is an example of a long-lasting processed food. It has been on display since 2009, in a glass box. Preservatives that has been discontinued by McDonald's are:

  • calcium propionate that prevents mold growth on bread.
  • sorbic acid that also inhibits mold from cheese
  • sodium benzoate, which inhibits the growth of bacteria in the Big Mac special sauce.
  • Twinkies will last no longer than similar treats. One Twinkie has been kept in a time capsule for up to 44 years.
  • Honey is almost impossible to spoil because it is high in sugar and low in water. Some honey samples are 3,000 years old.
  • Very fat-rich foods like butter and cheese, tallow or oils can last for a long time. Bog butter, a highly fermented butter, is up to 4,000 years old.
  • The world's oldest champagnes, 200-year-old bottles of Clicquot, was perfectly palatable.
  • Ancient frozen flesh may look perfectly edible but quickly becomes putrid after defrosting.
  • Fish is even worse at surviving the freezing process. Meat tends to have all kinds of microorganisms, which makes it unsuitable for long periods of storage.
  • Unless a nuclear or chemical incident has contaminated the food, all foods that are not in the fresh aisle can be eaten with confidence. That is tinned or dried foods and even frozen foods. Vacuum packed would also be useful.
  • Slow-dried food could still harbor microbes. Spray-dried or freeze-dried foods, like instant coffee grounds and fine powders, will last longer.
  • Food designed for space travel could be right. Space food is dehydrated and vacuum-sealed.
  • General-purpose army rations are good for three years at 80F (27C).
  • Other food replacements to consider are Huel. Huel is a company that offers a complete diet in powder form, uses freeze-drying and milling to create powders with no moisture in them.

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