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Evangeline E.

@evafe55

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The impending catastrophe in your mind

The worst-case scenario thinking is troublesome because it causes the very problem we're trying to prevent - an unpleasant or difficult situation.

How often does a negative thought turn into catastrophic thinking? A spot on your face becomes a cancerous tumour. Your child not attending a specific school spirals into him not getting a good job. From just entertaining an idea, it quickly turns into a worst-case scenario.

@evafe55

Catastrophic Thinking: When Your Mind Clings to Worst-Case Scenarios

psychcentral.com

When your thoughts tip from realistic anxieties into unlikely scenarios, take note of it. Also, if your thoughts become catastrophic, notice if you're judging yourself: "I always do this."

We often may not realise when our thoughts become catastrophic. A long-term solution for sharpening self-awareness is mindfulness meditation. It can help you become better attuned to your thoughts.

While you can't control everything, you can consider realistic options.

If you're worried about flying, research the physics and statistics, and remind yourself that you're safer in a plane than in your car. If you're concerned about a blemish on your face, make an appointment with your dermatologist.

The most effective way to overcome your fears is to face them.

If you fear flying, take a vacation where you have to fly. If you fear that you have a severe problem in your marriage, address it with your partner. This way, you will know what to work on instead of just worrying or feeling stuck.

Working with a therapist can help to overcome your catastrophic thoughts.

Focusing on the worst-case scenario may mask a different problem. For example, a fear of flying might be a fear to take a job out of state.

Counting calories in food

The system for counting calories comes from chemist Wilbur Atwater. To find out how much energy we get from eating, he measured the nutritional value in food and subtracted the amount of energy left in people's bodily excretion.

His research resulted in the 4-9-4 rule: Each gram of protein, fat, and carbohydrate provides 4, 9, 4 calories of energy, respectively.

Why you can’t trust the calorie count on food labels

popsci.com

Nutritionists are calling for calorie intake and nutrition information to be reviewed.

  • They say the present system does not differentiate between raw and cooked food. Processed food is easier to absorb, so it provides more calories.
  • USCA researchers found that pistachios' caloric value had been overstated by 5 percent on the nutrition label. Almonds were overstated by 32 percent.
Exercise is a new phenomenon

For much of history, human beings had an active lifestyle, but it did not include any kind of formal exercise.

Movement just for movement's sake is a relatively new phenomenon in human history.

Just Move: Scientist Author Debunks Myths About Exercise And Sleep

npr.org

Getting up every 10 minutes or so just to go to the bathroom or make yourself a cup of tea is turning on your muscles. It uses up fats and sugars in your bloodstream, and it produces molecules that turn down inflammation.

Interrupted sitting and not sitting in a chair that's nestling your body keeps your muscles going and is much healthier for you.

Our ancestors walked about 5 miles a day - or about 10,000 steps. Many people are moving less than they did before the pandemic. If 10,000 steps feel too out of reach, it's OK. It doesn't really matter what you do, as long as you're focused on movement.

In villages in remote parts of the world where people don't have chairs or a hunter-gatherer camp, people sit on average 10 hours a day. So it is not unnatural to sit a lot, but it is problematic if that's all you do.

Until recently, only the wealthy people had a chair with a seatback. Human beings used to either sat on the ground or on stools or benches.

A seatback makes sitting more passive than just sitting on a bench or stool because you use fewer muscles to stabilize your upper body. If you don't use your muscles in your body, they atrophy. And weak muscles make us more prone to pain.

There is this idea that running wears away your cartilage and causes arthritis in the knees. But it is not valid. Studies show that people who run more are less likely to get arthritis in their knees and more likely to benefit from physical activity.

Knee injury is indeed most common among runners. But these injuries can be prevented by learning to run properly.

As we age, physical activity becomes more important. One serious negative consequence of older individuals who are less physically active is that their muscles dwindle, they atrophy. The less they are active, the frailer they become.

The good news is that you can turn it around. The mechanisms that get turned on when we do a little bit of strength training don't diminish with age. Strength training will give you enormous benefits.

People often get stressed about how much they should be sleeping. The stress elevates their cortisol that prevents them from sleeping. So they get into a vicious circle.

People who live in places where there is no electricity, iPhones or TV's don't sleep any more than the average American. They sleep 6 -7 hours on average at night. They also don't nap. If you get six or seven hours of sleep a night and you feel fine, then it is enough.

Suffering from the fear of heights

People that have acrophobia have an irrational fear of heights. Many symptoms of acrophobia are shared with other anxiety disorders, such as shaking, sweating, a racing heart, difficult breathing, nausea, and a dry mouth. Symptoms unique to acrophobia include vertigo and the desire to drop to the knees or clutch on to something.

If your fear of heights starts to interfere with your daily life, then you might want to try to do something to reduce it.

How to overcome a fear of heights | Psyche Guides

psyche.co

People with height phobias think something bad will happen when they are up high. But you are safer than you think and your feared outcome about heights won't really happen.
Ask yourself:

  • What do you believe will happen when you expose yourself to your fear?
  • How likely do you think it is that this would happen?
  • What would be the outcome of it happening? (you might believe a tall building will collapse.)

Once you've answered the questions, start small with the thing you fear and see that the worst doesn't actually happen, or that it is not as bad as you feared.

  • A traumatic or frightening event, such as falling off a ladder could cause a fear of heights because the distressing experience gets paired with heights in the person's memories.
  • However, many people can't link their fear to a particular experience.
  • Some people that fear heights did not have repeated safe exposure to heights.
  • Finally, people with height phobia show subtle differences in their ability to maintain their balance, partly because they have more difficulty integrating perceptual information from their visual system.

Anxiety is a healthy response. When we detect a threat, our bodies respond with a fight-or-flight response to protect us. Our heart beats faster, and we breathe more quickly to get more oxygen to our muscles. We get a dry mouth, and our stomach turns.

Misinterpretation of these bodily sensations is common in many anxiety disorders. Try to see your symptoms for what they are: nothing more than your body’s natural fight-or-flight response.

Gradually expose yourself to your fear, starting small and slowly working up to more challenging situations. Practice a step until your anxiety subsides, then move on to a more challenging situation. It will help you to create new memories without feeling anxious.

Practise relaxation exercises before, during, and after exposure.

Identify any safety behaviours you resort to because you think they help to keep you safe.

The most common safety behaviour is avoidance. More subtle examples include closing your eyes, not looking down or over the edges, or tightly holding on to something. Once you've identified your defences, repeat the behavioural experiment without using them.

The sudden 'beep beep' morning alarm can lead to grogginess and disorientation of the brain, which can impact our work. This impact can be quite serious for workers with jobs that require constant alertness.
Morning alarms which are melodic and gently gain the attention of the brain work best to wake us up softly, without any jarring effect on the brain.

Your harsh-sounding alarm might be making you groggy all morning. Try a melodic one instead

fastcompany.com

Burnout and Chronic Stress

Burnout is the end result of chronic stress, and is increasingly common in this fast-paced, chaotic and complex world. Political instability, relationship issues, family problems, and even social media are making things worse.

A job search portal reports 69 percent of employees are experiencing burnout while working from home.

Does burnout recovery always require radical change?

bbc.com

If a person is aware of one’s condition and takes charge of one’s own wellbeing, it is possible to recover from burnout. At the end of the day, our life is our own world, and if we don’t like it, we should attempt to change it.

Example: To tackle Work from home burnout, one can take the necessary steps to clearly draw lines to separate work and home affairs, while getting adequate sleep.

  1. A break from work.
  2. Taking up a hobby, like painting or writing.
  3. Regular exercise.
  4. Ample amount of sleep.
  5. Working on one’s relationships.
Defining Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking is known as somnambulism. It's classified as an abnormal behavior during sleep that's disruptive.

The handbook for mental health professionals, the DSM-IV, defines sleepwalking by the following criteria:

  • You leave your bed while sleeping.
  • Others find it difficult to wake you during an episode of sleepwalking.
  • You can't remember what happened while you were sleepwalking.
  • When you do wake up from an episode, you're confused.
  • You don't suffer from dementia or another physical disorder.
  • It impairs your work or social life.

How Sleepwalking Works

science.howstuffworks.com

During the first third of sleep, your body is in non-REM - your deepest stage of sleep. Your brain quiets down and you aren't dreaming. Your body is active, and you tend to toss and turn.

People usually sleepwalk during the first third of their sleep pattern. Sleepwalking episodes can last from a few seconds to half an hour. Sleepwalkers can perform many activities, from walking around to driving a car or playing an instrument.

People used to think that sleepwalkers acted out their dreams. However, sleepwalking occurs during the deepest stages of sleep when you are not dreaming.

  • Mental health professionals state that sleepwalking is an arousal disorder, meaning that something triggers the brain, so the person is in a transition state between sleeping and waking.
  • Most sleepwalkers are children. It could be because their brains outpace others in development or that a child's brain is too immature to understand waking and sleeping cycles.
  • Children tend to sleepwalk more when they are overly tired or stressed. The same factors affect adult sleepwalkers, as well as medicines, alcohol, and fever illnesses.
  • Sleepwalking has been linked to seizures, REM sleep disorders, and brain disorders like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

In the arts, sleepwalking is linked to blood, danger, the occult, and loss of control.

  • Shakespeare used a sleepwalking scene in Macbeth to reveal a key element in Lady Macbeth's character development. She plots a murder but doesn't want to pull it off. In a sleepwalking episode, she confesses her sins.
  • In Bellini's opera "La Sonnambula," a sleepwalking woman is accused of being unfaithful to her husband when she innocently wakes up in another man's room.
  • The plot of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" centers on the idea of a murderer sleepwalker controlled by an evil doctor.
  • In "Dracula," the vampire sinks his teeth into Lucy during a bout of sleepwalking.

Sleepwalking isn't the only parasomnia.

  • There is sleep sex - sexual behavior during sleep.
  • Sleep-eating is associated with the sleep aid Ambien, where people eat anything, from tubs of margarine, eating cigarettes and raw meat.
  • Bruxism is where some people clench or grind their teeth while they sleep. It can damage the teeth, give you headaches, and make your jaw hurt.
  • Sleeptalking, also named somniloquy, is where the person could just make noises, or could have a long one-sided conversation.
  • Sleep enuresis, or bed-wetting.
Health and the weight-related stigma

Obesity should not just be defined by weight, but also by a person's health.

Doctors should go beyond only recommending diet and exercise. They should take a holistic approach to health.

Obesity not defined by weight, says new guideline

bbc.com

The new guideline, funded by Obesity Canada, acknowledges their clinical limitations. Obesity is a complex, chronic condition that needs lifelong management.

There is a dominant cultural narrative regarding obesity that adds to the assumption about personal irresponsibility and lack of willpower. Research shows many doctors discriminate against obese patients, and that can lead to worse health outcomes.

Obese person's "best weight" might not be their "ideal weight." A small reduction of about 3-5% can lead to health improvements.

The new guideline notes that keeping the weight off is often difficult because the brain will compensate by making the body feel more hungry. The guideline encourages doctors to provide support like psychological therapy, medication, and bariatric surgery. Physicians should ask permission before discussing a patient's weight and work with them to reach their health goals.

Rocking Sleep

Rocking babies back and forth while making them sleep is common as parents try to stop them from wailing and shouting. Even as adults, we can get lulled into sleep in the rhythmic motion of the train compartment or the hammock.

New studies show that our brains are evolutionarily programmed to respond positively to rocking, and it helps us sleep better.

Why Rocking to Sleep Is a Matchless Sedative—and Elixir

scientificamerican.com

  • People who rock while sleeping tend to be less disturbed during the night and maintain their deep sleep longer.
  • The memory function improves by a factor of three, according to a study.
  • Rocking synchronizes the brainwaves in the ‘thalamocortical’ networks of the brain, helping both sleep and memory consolidation while improving one’s mood.
Aphantasia: Image Not Found

Aphantasia is a phenomenon in which an individual cannot conjure an image of a face or thing in their minds. There is no inner ‘mind’s eye’ in these people and the mental imagery is essentially blank. People with Aphantasia can explain the object using words, but the mental image isn’t experienced.

Signs of Aphantasia include unable to vividly picture someone in one’s mind. It is estimated that about 1% to 3% of the population might be having Aphantasia.

Aphantasia: When You Are Blind in Your Mind

verywellmind.com

Aphantasia was first described in the early 1800s by Francis Galton in a paper on mental imagery. It was not until 2015 that the phenomenon was further studied and the term was coined.

One of the major studies was with a patient who had undergone a minor surgery in 2005 and later could no longer generate visual images within the ‘mind’s eye’. The details of the study were published in 2010, which led to many others coming up with similar symptoms.

This was a technique used by the researchers to help test the image forming inside the brain of the individuals.

The experiment led to the finding that a recent viewing of an image had no correlation with the imagining of the image.

MRI scans in patients show that while recognizing faces show no change, the person finds it hard to ‘imagine’ or conjure imagery, due to a significant reduction in activation patterns across the posterior networks in the brain. Patients, therefore, relied on a different cognitive strategy.

People with Aphantasia are only able to remember things by using words and lists of facts.

Research suggests that this phenomenon has a negative impact on their memory, like being able to remember the details of a particular day, but still not being able to visualize it. This also has an unexpected advantage of them not being disturbed by negative life events getting flashbacked in their minds.

Strangely enough, people with aphantasia can dream normally, being able to see the visuals. It is the intentional ‘imagining’ that is affected and not the dream state.

Dreams are a subconscious mind event, controlled by the brainstem, while visualization requires the conscious mind to process the image.

Not being able to imagine people and places can be bothersome and upsetting for the people with Aphantasia. Many people from all walks of life experience this, and it does not seem to impact their success in life.

This is a normal variation of human experience and is not something that can be treated. However, tools like photography, illustrations, visual aids and design software can be used to fill this gap in the mind.

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