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Lauren W.

@lau_w51

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Taking A Proper Luch Break: Steps To Improve Your State of Well-Being
  1. Schedule an actual lunch break. Even though we're working from home it doesn't mean that we have to sit in our chairs the entire day working. It is important to have time for yourself.
  2. Move away from your work area and have a change in environment. Set the table where you can eat peacefully and not think about work for the next 30 minutes or so.
  3. Start behaving like you're actually going to work. Sometimes, it can be less stressful and even motivating to think that you're reporting to the office.

@lau_w51

Why You Should Never Eat Lunch At Your Desk (Especially At Home)

huffpost.com

Mindful Pause For Lunch

Since we've been deprived of socialization and have been away from people for as long as we can remember it's important to try and reach out to people.

Taking a break away from your workstation and having lunch maybe at the park or just by the balcony of your place and someone to talk to on the phone can recharge our batteries and possibly make us more focused and creative for the rest of the day.

Unconscious Eating

Having close proximity to food will increase the chances of developing a habit called "unconscious eating" where an individual will eat without giving it much thought and ignore the physiological cues that are being given to us while eating a meal.

When we do not pay attention to the cues being alerted to us regarding satiety we tend to eat quickly and don't feel full or satisfied from what we've eaten. Moreover, having easier access to food can also lead to higher calorie consumption.

Our Response To Stress
  • When we experience a stressful event, different hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released inside our body, resulting in a fight-or-flight response, and may experience volatility, extreme emotions and brain shutdowns.
  • Long-term stress has been linked with all kinds of problems related to physical and mental health.
  • Our community, the support we get from family, friends and relatives tend to factor in our response towards a stressful situation.

Why People Cope with Life Events So Differently

healthline.com

Mature adults have developed their coping skills and are not as reactive and stressful all the time as the young population, which are yet to understand steadfastness, resilience or the benefits of a calm mind.

When a person has successfully managed challenging situations, new problems are not reacted with panic as our past experiences give us strength and self-efficacy.

Right action comes when we take proactive steps to remedy a problematic situation, tapping into the things that are possible and can be controlled.

  • A person with an external locus of control blames others and acts like a hopeless victim.
  • A person who has an internal locus of control is able to move into positive action and cope up with the situation at hand.

A person with underlying and invisible mental health issues is likely to get triggered by any event.

Like the straw that broke a camel’s back, a person’s current mindset and problems can project a new problem in a distorted way, making even a small event feel overwhelming. This leads to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.

Our personality and upbringing play a major role in how we handle a stressful situation.

First responders, firefighters and surgeons have different skill sets and mental strength, apart from the professional training that they have undergone, leading to better handling of pressure situations.

  1. Take care of yourself by practising mindfulness meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
  2. Focus on what you are able to control, and regulate it, like watching less news.
  3. Ask for support from family or a therapist.
  4. Help others and listen to their problems, creating a reciprocating feeling of empathy and understanding.
  5. Understand that we are all different yet the same, and learn to live in harmony.
Keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle
  • Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day;
  • Avoid sleeping in, even on weekends;
  • Limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon;
  • Fight after-dinner drowsiness. If you get sleepy way before your bedtime, get off the couch and do something mildly stimulating.

How to Sleep Better

helpguide.org

Is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. 

Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark, making you sleepy, and less when it’s light, making you more alert. 

However, many aspects of modern life can alter your body’s production of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm

Influence exposure to ligh

During the day:

  • Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning. 
  • Spend more time outside during daylight. 
  • Let as much natural light into your home or workspace as possible.

At night:

  • Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime.
  • Say no to late-night television.
  • Don’t read with backlit devices. 
  • When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark.
  • Keep the lights down if you get up during the night.
Effects of exercising on sleep
  • People who exercise regularly sleep better at night and feel less sleepy during the day. 
  • The more vigorously you exercise, the more powerful the sleep benefits. But even light exercise improves sleep quality.
  • It can take several months of regular activity before you experience the full sleep-promoting effects. 
  • Try to finish moderate to vigorous workouts at least three hours before bedtime.
Be smart about what you eat and drink
  • Limit caffeine and nicotine.
  • Avoid big meals at night (within 2 hours of bed).
  • Avoid alcohol before bed.
  • Avoid drinking too many liquids in the evening.
  • Cut back on sugary foods and refined carbs.
Nighttime snacks help you sleep

If you need a bedtime snack, try:

  • Half of a turkey sandwich
  • A small bowl of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal
  • Milk or yogurt
  • A banana
Relaxation techniques for better sleep
  • Deep breathing. Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths, making each breath even deeper than the last.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. Starting with your toes, tense all the muscles as tightly as you can, then completely relax. Work your way up to the top of your head.
  • Visualizing a peaceful, restful place. Close your eyes and imagine a place that’s calming and peaceful. Concentrate on how relaxed this place makes you feel.
 Improve your sleep environment
  • Keep noise down. Earplugs may help.
  • Keep your room cool (around 65° F /18° C).
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable
  • Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex. No TV or working in bed - it will be easier to wind down when the brain associates the bedrom with just that. 
Ways to get back to sleep
  • Try not to stress over your inability to fall asleep again.
  • Make relaxation your goal, not sleep.
  • If you’ve been awake for more than 15 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet, non-stimulating activity.
  • Postpone worrying and brainstorming.
Eating before or after you exercise

Research shows the importance of nutrition for exercise. However, it is not always clear whether it's best to eat before or after you exercise.

The following should be considered:

  • What you're training for.
  • The level you're at. An elite athlete's needs differ from a beginner.
  • Considering what works for you.

Exercise nutrition: whether you should eat before or after a workout depends on your fitness goals

theconversation.com

When we exercise, our bodies use energy, either supplied by carbohydrates stored in our bodies, or from the food we eat.

  • If the exercise is demanding or we exercise for a long time, we use more stored carbohydrate.
  • If your energy is low, or you're doing a longer or more demanding session, consuming carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta, rice, cereals or fruit three to four hours before exercise can help.
  • Eating lower glycemic index foods such as porridge oats or whole grain bread can better sustain energy during exercise.
  • Eating right before exercising could cause indigestion, cramps or nausea.
  • If your goal is building strength or muscle, eating protein before exercise may improve overall recovery responses.

Recent research shows that training in a fasted state can lead to efficient fuel use, fat burning, improved blood sugar and hormone regulation. This is helpful when training for a marathon to help delay fatigue.

  • Studies also show that eating soon after exercise can help maximise recovery, particularly eating carbohydrates.
  • But there is also evidence that eating protein during recovery can maximise muscle growth. If training is done later in the day, eating a small protein meal before bed can help with acute recovery.

There is a clear advantage for eating before and during longer duration exercise. Using nutrition to strategically recover is essential for those who want to maximise their workouts.

When resistance training, consuming a combination of mainly carbohydrate, protein, and creatine before and after exercise, provide better muscle and strength gains over ten weeks.

Neuroplasticity: The Brain’s Ability To Adapt

The human brain is not static, but is shape-shifting, upgrading, maintaining and housekeeping itself all the time.

The constant rewiring, adapting and upgrading is happening not just in our formative years, but through the course of our lifetime. This neuroplasticity of the brain can be nurtured and stimulated for further development.

What is Neuroplasticity? A Psychologist Explains

positivepsychology.com

While neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form fresh connections and to rewire itself, neurogenesis is the brain’s ability to grow new neurons.

Experiments in the 1960s discovered that traumatic events, stress and anxiety are detrimental to the neuron cells of the brain. This led to new understandings about the brain being a regenerative organ, where cells can regrow and replenish, also known as neurogenesis.

Neuroplasticity has two broad types:

  • Structural neuroplasticity: When the synapses or the strength of connections between neurons changes.
  • Functional neuroplasticity: When learning and development lead to permanent changes in the synapses.

Just like medications and chemicals change our brain, neuroplasticity has the potential to reinvent oneself and get over the traumatic events of the past. It has the power to dissolve our hardwired memories which are fear-based.

When the brain learns new things, it connects neuron cells and creates new pathways. Learning new facts may not be very useful, but if one learns a new language, skill or a musical instrument, the neuron magic starts to happen and the rewiring begins.

If we have a growth mindset, where our skills and abilities can be consciously developed, the magic of the brain’s neuroplasticity starts to happen.

  • The brains of children are extremely adaptive and start to form patterns and connections as soon as they are born.
  • The exponential growth is then refined when the child grows up.
  • The neuron cells can be adaptive to learning special skills or recovering from injuries, impaired due to genetic/acquired disorders, and excessive negative growth due to incorrect pathway connections.
  • These abilities are present in adults though to a lesser degree.

Apart from forming new pathways and connections, neuroplasticity can also:

  1. Recover the brain from strokes and injuries.
  2. Rewire functions if one area is damaged.
  3. Heighten the senses of a particular function if the other is damaged.
  4. Increase memory and cognitive abilities, helping in learning.

One can boost or enhance neuroplasticity by:

  1. Fasting: Intermittent fasting increases synaptic adaptation and promotes neuron growth.
  2. Travelling: Exposing the brain to new environments.
  3. Memory Training: Memory exercises enhance connectivity and prevent memory loss.
  4. Learning something new: New neural connections are formed when learning a musical instrument.
  5. Using the non-dominant hand: When the unused hand is exercised, new pathways are formed and the existing ones are strengthened.
  6. Reading fiction: Stories that are imaginative enhances the connectivity of the brain.
  7. Vocabulary expansion: Learning words exercises the memory, visual and auditory processes.
  8. Drawing: Creating artworks enhances the default mode network (DMN), increasing introspection, empathy, attention and focus.
  9. Dancing: Increases neural connectivity, mind and body coordination and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s.
  10. Sleeping: Sleep is crucial to process newly learned information and growth of the dendritic spines (connections between neurons).

Patients with severe brain damage are able to rapidly heal themselves, practically remodelling the brain a few days or weeks after the trauma.

What’s weird is that a brain injury is a great time to take advantage of the rapid reorganization, recovery and other significant changes that a brain can perform on itself. During stroke recovery, learning something new or even re-learning something can result in significant gains.

Psychiatric disorders, stress, anxiety and depression are by itself neuroplasticity, but in a negative, destruction-oriented way.

The damage caused to the brain by these mental disorders encourages unhealthy and dangerous pathways.

Breathing exercises, body awareness, changing thought patterns using meditation and memory exercises can help with the reversal of the negative neuroplasticity caused by mental disorders.

Depression and anxiety can be regulated and reversed by certain exercises:

  1. Memory games, crossword, or sudoku.
  2. Juggling, or learning to play a new musical instrument.
  3. Learning a new language.
  4. Yoga.
  5. Meditation.
  6. Regular exercise of the body.
  7. Learning a new subject in a short time.

These techniques can also be used for treating ADHD, OCD and autism. Online games and apps work more or less the same if the other aspects like learning and exercising are also engaged with.

Neurons are by themselves responsible for the experience of pain. The brain can adapt and manage chronic pain by:

  1. Mild electric shocks in the brain to stimulate certain areas.
  2. Magnetic stimulation of the brain.
  3. Fasting intermittently.
  4. Glucose supplements.

Apart from these, there are some regular things that we can do to treat chronic pain: exercising, avoiding junk food, quitting smoking, keeping the mind engaged and practising mindfulness.

  • Meditation has a profound effect on the neuroplasticity work inside the brain, with some regions like the hippocampus or certain parts of the amygdala becoming significantly larger.
  • Music lifts our mood and is a highly impactful way to facilitate structural and functional changes in the brain, like improving cognitive skills.
Exercise was not necessary until the mid-20th century

Most people didn't see exercise as necessary until the mid-20th century. Food scarcity meant people didn't overeat, and it didn't make sense to try to burn off the calories.

However, industrialization changed the nature of work and food production. Fewer farmers were doing physical labour, and more people were doing office desk jobs. The growth of automobile culture, the suburban sprawl, and the popularity of television, all led to a more sedentary lifestyle.

Trying to Get in Shape? Here's the History Behind the Common New Year's Resolution

time.com

The exercise culture in the U.S. only took off after World War II.

  • After a 1955 report showed that 57.9% of American kids failed one or more of six physical fitness tests - versus about 8 % of European kids - an executive order was issued to create the President's Council on Youth Fitness.
  • In 1960, President-Elect John F. Kennedy wrote that the increasing lack of physical fitness is a menace to society. This push for fitness led to an expansion of the President's Council on Youth Fitness.

Some entrepreneurs and trainers played a vital role in the rising exercise culture.

  • Health clubs were popularized by the Vic Tanny Gyms chain.
  • Weight-lifting for women was popularized in the 1930s and 1940s by female-bodybuilder Abby "Pudgy" Stockton.
  • In 1974, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act paved the way for women to go out and sign up for exercise classes on their own.
  • In the '60s and '70s, exercise became a more accepted and celebrated pursuit.
  • The '80s and '90s saw the expansion of a conversation about diet and fitness.

The rise of exercise culture has that has led to fitness-focused New Year's resolutions does not mean people will exercise. Only 1 in 4 U.S. adults and 1 in 5 high school students meet the recommended physical activity guidelines.

The relentless optimism displayed each year in setting fitness resolutions may reflect an American ideal. The New Year's resolution to get in shape demonstrates a belief in the individual's ability for self-improvement.

Eustress: The Good Stress

Most of us think of stress as something negative, akin to anxiety.

  • Positive stress, also called eustress, is the other end of the spectrum where exciting, stressful events provide us with a chemical rush and motivation.
  • Distress is when one is overwhelmed with negative emotions and feelings of inadequacy when faced with certain circumstances, leading to anxiety and depression.

Why Eustress Is Good Stress

healthline.com

Eustress makes us grow emotionally (inspiration), psychologically (resilience) and physically (body-building challenge).

Eustress creates excitement, satisfaction, fulfilment, meaning, well-being and the satisfaction of a challenge. It is something positive that is taking us out of our comfort zone. Example: Relocating due to getting a new job in a different city.

  • At work, eustress is the fine balance when tackling a challenging project, which is not unrealistic. Distress is what comes from impossible projects, impositions and toxic work culture.
  • Our hobbies and personal interests have to be moderately challenging and provide us with fulfilment and satisfaction. One has to be in the learning zone, which leads to growth.
  • Travel is stressful yet thrilling and is always a great learning experience.
  • Exercise is basically stressing out your body to improve strength, muscle growth and stamina.

One can include positive stress by:

  1. Learning something new every day.
  2. Move out of your comfort zone by taking new responsibilities.
  3. Exercising daily.
  4. Set professional and personal goals that are not that difficult.
William Pullen
"Movement is medicine. When we reconnect to the world with our feet, we can experience a powerful shift in mental and emotional states. Deeply therapeutic, mindful running simply offers a return to the real world from which we so often find ourselves adrift."

How to Be Mindful When Running

nytimes.com

  1. Once you get moving, find a comfortable pace.
  2. Become aware of the weather, the surroundings, colors, smells and shapes that pass you by as you move.
  3. Be mindful of your intention to run with awareness and count your steps if possible.
  4. If a thought hijacks your mind, return back gently to counting your steps.
  5. Become aware of your recurring thought.
  6. Try to get in a zone where thoughts cease to exist, even the runner is no more and only the running remains.
How smell works
  • Odour molecules that move through the air up your nostrils will bind to special smell receptors on the surface of nerve cells.
  • The nerve cells send a signal to the brain's olfactory bulb, that is behind the bridge of the nose.
  • People have about 400 different smell receptor types.
  • The odour molecules create a pattern of activation in the nerve cells that the brain translates as a smell.

What’s in a smell?

sciencefocus.com

  • Smells can alert us about danger - we're repulsed by the smell of sewage and rotting food.
  • We don't all respond to odour molecules in the same way.
  • Butyric acid contributes to the smell of both Parmesan cheese and vomit, so it may smell offputting or appealing, depending on the situation.

A complete loss of smell, known as anosmia, can occur after a cold, sinus infection or even a bump to the head.

Anosmia affects the flavour of food. However, it isn't always permanent and may recover naturally or through exercises like 'smell training' to re-stimulate the olfactory system.

Understand the process

There has recently been an important change in the way clinical psychology is being handled.

Nowadays, it can be clearly seen that what is the most important is the understanding of what has led to the specific mental illness, of its underlying process rather than of the therapy itself.

Psychology is Changing. This Is What You Need To Know

psychologytoday.com

Process Based Therapy bases itself on Network Science, which emphasis the importance of networks, nodes and possible barriers to change in order to get a better understanding of the mental illnesses.

Process Based Therapy implies the belief that variation and flexibility are the elements that influence the most your recovery.

This Meta Model refers to the idea according to which dynamic and complex networks change or shift dramatically rather than gradually.

When this occurs, the so-called Process Based Therapy aims to turn the network from maladaptive to adaptive while using strategies such as exposure or mindfulness.

Change in clinical psychology has led to discovering the Process Based Therapy that is, by all means, a great evolution in the field.

What makes PBT so special is the fact that this therapy involves flexibility when handling the issue, which can only result in good consequences for an individual's self perception.

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