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Déjà Vu

Déjà vu, French for ‘already seen’, is a feeling of having experienced something already. A feeling of being familiar with the current scenario as if it has happened to us in the same way before. According to a study, about 60 percent of the population has experienced déjà vu.

What makes déjà vu unique is that there is a conflict between the sensation and the actual awareness, a disorienting feeling that one has been tricked.


What causes déjà vu? The quirky neuroscience behind the memory illusion

According to neuroscientists, déjà vu isn’t a memory error or a sign of an unhealthy mind. It happens as the frontal regions of the brain, which process billions of neurons, tries to correct an inaccurate memory, fact-checking the information it is receiving. This can happen once a month on average, but being stressed out, tired or fatigued may increase the chances of experiencing this feeling.

Dopamine, which is a mood-boosting neurotransmitter, plays a part in déjà vu, especially in people who experiment with dopaminergic drugs.

According to extensive research, the younger population experiences more déjà vu, and as one gets older, the noticing of errors becomes less frequent. This is a natural part of ageing.

There are cases where people are persistently experiencing the feeling of Déjà Vu. The cause can be taking a mixture of medications that can have unpredictable side effects, as in some documented cases.

A lesser-known feeling is Jamais Vu or ‘never seen’. It is essentially failing to recognize or remember a situation that should be familiar to us. This is different from standard forgetting, like amnesia, but is a momentary lapse of awareness of the familiar.

What’s intriguing is that it has the same characteristics:

  1. It is a disorienting feeling.
  2. It happens more to young people.
  3. It is more likely to happen when one is tired.

An experiment to prompt the feeling of Jamais Vu involved writing a familiar word like apple or door, constantly on a piece of paper for a few minutes. 70 percent of the participants began to doubt the spelling or the authenticity of the word.

There are no shortcuts to a healthy life

You have to work on yourself:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Move your body throughout the day.
  • Eat well — a healthy assortment of foods. Mostly plants, and not too much.
  • Interact socially. Isolation is not good for the body, soul or mind.
  • Take some time to reflect on what you are grateful for.

Keep Things Simple For A Healthy, Long Life

Fight Or Flight Response
  • Also known as Acute Stress Response, the fight-or-flight response is a physiological reaction when we are mentally or physically terrified.
  • A stressful or terrifying situation triggers hormones that prepare our body to stay or either deal with the problem or run away towards safety.
  • American physiologist Walter Cannon first described this basic stress response towards danger.

The Fight-or-Flight Response Prepares Your Body to Take Action

When acute stress occurs, the body’s sympathetic nervous system gets activated with a hormonal release. It stimulates the adrenal glands, releasing catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline).

Heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate increases, lasting for about 20 to 60 minutes. Outward signs of an acute stress response include a flushed face, trembling, dilated pupils and rapid breathing.

The Fight-Or-Flight Response is an automatic survival technique to preserve our life, and is crucial for how we deal with stress, threats, and danger.

It primes our body to perform under pressure, making sure we are at our best when dealing with life-threatening situations, making it more likely for us to survive.

Iatrophobia is a fear of doctors

Since most people do not enjoy visiting a doctor, it can be difficult to know whether your symptoms of iatrophobia is a full-blown phobia.

But there are a few signs that may show if your fear is out of proportion with normal anxiety towards doctor's visits.

Why the Fear of Doctors or Iatrophobia Is so Common

  • Obsessive worrying. You may find it difficult to focus on other things. You may experience feelings of panic once you have reached the doctor's office.
  • Other illness-related phobias. You may worry that you need to see a doctor for minor ailments, fearing they will require medical treatment.
  • Postponing doctor appointments. You may put off checkups or even suffer through relatively serious illnesses on your own.
  • Dentophobia. The fear of dentists often occurs alongside iatophobia.
  • Whitecoat hypertension. The stress of seeing a doctor may raise your blood pressure to a clinically significant level.

It is important that you seek treatment as untreated iatrophobia can cause you to avoid needed medical care and put your well-being at risk.

  • Some mental health providers offer services via telephone or the internet and can help you tame your phobia enough to face an in-person visit.
  • Search for a mental health provider that offers services in a more homelike setting.
  • A good treatment provider will work at your pace and allow you to become comfortable before moving on to treating the phobia.
  • Many phobias are treated with cognitive-behavioural therapy, hypnosis, and group seminars.
Disturbing Thoughts

We all have thoughts going on in our heads all the time, stories, reimagining of the past, beliefs and ideas. Many of these thoughts are not in our direct control and can show up in our consciousness in an intrusive manner, without any effort or intention from our side.

These unwanted intrusive thoughts, which are without our consent, can be beneficial, mundane, disposable, or even disturbing and scary.

How to deal with troubling thoughts | Psyche Guides

Many studies show that thought suppression leads to the mind paying extra and frequent attention to the particular thought that is being suppressed, causing it to ‘rebound’ and become the dominant thought.

Example: Telling the brain to not think of a pink elephant conjures up the image of a pink elephant automatically for most people.

Many psychotherapeutic approaches like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) only touch the surface of the problem, not the origin of the disturbing thought.

Though simply having those unwanted intrusive thoughts does not automatically mean that those will be acted upon, as most people are simply terrified of having such thoughts.

  1. Acknowledge and label these thoughts as bad or negative, creating a distance between you and the thoughts.
  2. Write them down, to have it in front of you on a piece of paper, as you reflect on it and stop the worrying in the process.
  3. Recognize that the thoughts are real and are an unpleasant problem.
  4. Recognize and validate your own emotional response to the thoughts.
  5. Do not brood over them, and try to redirect your attention to something else, which is pleasant.
  1. Practice mindfulness meditation, focusing your attention to your breath or a mantra.
  2. Note the thought and ‘park’ it, reminding yourself to tackle it later.
  3. Do not distract yourself in a way that makes your mind rebound towards the unwanted thought you are trying to avoid.
  4. Do not take comfort or reassurance in others, as it can be a cause of false beliefs and incorrect notions.
  5. Do not worry, ruminate or delve into negative self-talk.
The olfactory sense at work

Our sense of smell works in wondrous ways since the chemical composition of our surrounding change instantly and constantly. Our noses pick up volatile airborne compounds that interact with our olfactory receptors.

The information that we get from our surroundings pass through our noses and then to the core cortex in the brain. We, humans have about 400 types of olfactory receptors which is used to identify many different types of chemicals that have varying odor quality.

Our Mind-Boggling Sense of Smell - Issue 91: The Amazing Brain - Nautilus

  • It is different from other sensory cortices in a way that it has a multidimensional stimulus.
  • Some things can smell different not just between different people but also for the same person.
  • Can measure an array of an uncertain variety of chemicals that can trace changes that detects pleasure, pain, or danger.
  • It does not require a map mirroring because its chemical stimulus is constantly changing. It relies on the brain to recognize the pattern or memory associated with the smell.
Contributors to the study of the olfactory sense
  • Santiago Ramón y Cajal: A founding father of neuroscience, he drew attention to the sense of smell as an exemplary model to learn how the brain makes sense of the world. He also believed that understanding smell would grant us better insight into other sensory systems
  • Linda Buck & Richard Axel: They discovered the olfactory receptors which happened to be the most structurally diverse and sizable member of the largest multi-gene family of protein receptors. They received the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Autonomous sensory meridian response - ASMR

ASMR is an emotional state that some people experience when they hear, see, and feel certain "triggers," such as whispering, delicate hand movements, and light touch.

The feeling is described as a tingling sensation that starts from the top of the head and spreads down the neck and limbs. Feelings of euphoria and relaxation accompany this "trance-like" state.

ASMR: what we know so far about this unique brain phenomenon – and what we don't

ASMR typically emerges in childhood. When people find out that ASMR is a "thing", they often report that they thought everyone had the same experience or that it was unique to them.

Common triggers include soft touch, whispering, soft-speaking, close attention, delicate hand movements, and crisp sounds. Situations that induce ASMR are often a combination of these triggers, such as getting a haircut or watching someone complete a mundane task.

One study showed that periods of ASMR tingling were associated with increased activation in brain regions involved in emotion, empathy, and affiliative behaviors.

Other studies show that people with ASMR have less distinct and more blended neural networks, suggesting that ASMR could happen because of a reduced ability to suppress emotional responses that we obtain from our senses.

Research suggests that people who experience ASMR have a larger tendency to have more immersive or absorbing experiences.

People with ASMR score higher on 'openness to experience,' reflecting imagination, intellectual curiosity, and appreciation of art and beauty. People with ASMR are also more empathetic when looking at compassion and concern for others.

People with ASMR show significant reductions in their heart rates when watching ASMR videos.

These stress reductions were similar to those experienced during mindfulness and music therapy. But research is not clear whether ASMR can and should be used as an effective form of therapy.

When pain is useful

Pain tells us when something is wrong. It also protects us. If you shut your hand in the car door, your hand will hurt will swell up. The resulting inflammation is part of the healing process.

Your head is not so different. Pain is an early warning system for danger.

Listen to your migraine to help you feel better – and to learn about yourself

The hallmark of the migraine attack is a wave of excitation across the brain quickly followed by a wave of inactivity.

The neurochemical changes associated with these waves cause the blood vessels to narrow in the head. Since a lack of blood-flow in the head can be deadly, our body reacts with a massive blood vessel dilation in response. The heightened activity in your brain means you will have trouble moving, thinking, remembering things, and photophobia. In effect, migraines shut us down until the neurchemical balance is restored.

  • The classic migraine. Some notice it as an 'aura' - the sensory disturbance might be visual or feel like pins and needles.
  • The common migraine is without the auras.
  • An ocular migraine is when you experience the aura without the pain.

You may be able to point to many reasons for your headache: tension, eye strain, lack of sleep, dehydration, sinus, not eating well, alcohol, your environment.

Some migraines are triggered by visual effects. Other migraine triggers are hormones, diet, or cardiovascular origins.

Many sufferers fail to spot the first stage of a migraine: the prodrome phase. It is characterized by pronounced yawning, drowsiness, food craving, sensitivity to light, increased thirst, or blurred vision. These symptoms can happen days or hours before the onset of a migraine.

The best way to recognise the symptoms is by keeping a record of your day: what you ate, your exercise habits, what you drank, how you felt at different points.

  • Migraine is linked to depletions in serotonin. Chocolate contains tryptophan, which your body breaks down into serotonin. Craving chocolate before a headache is your body trying to self-medicate and restore serotonin balance.
  • Dopamine and oxytocin block pain receptors. It means that doing something you love will help increase them.
How we're sitting

The childhood advice of sitting up straight, shoulders back, is incorrect.

Sitting this way takes effort. We end up arching our backs by tensing up our muscles. When we tighten them, we shorten them, and that arches the back, loads the discs in the lower back, and pushes the edges of the vertebrae against each other. Over time, that could alter our anatomy.

You’re sitting wrong — and your back knows it. Here’s how to sit instead

If you tend to slump, you need to learn to lengthen your back. Use the time that you're sitting to stretch yourself against the backrest.

  • Sit with your bottom well back in your chair while moving your upper body away from the backrest.
  • Place your fists on the front lower border of your rib cage, then gently push back on your rib cage so as to elongate your lower back.
  • Then, grab some place of your chair and make yourself taller by gently pushing the top of you away from the bottom.
  • In that position, put your back against the chair's backrest. Ideally, the chair would have some grippy thing mid-back to hold you.

For a healthier back, develop the "inner corset" core strength: the group of core muscles that support your spine. Crunches are not the best exercises for this purpose as they also crunch your discs and nerves.

You should engage particular muscles deep in the abdomen and back; then your muscles can take care of your back.

Standing desks can be good, but it depends on how you hold your body. When the average person stands, they lock their knees back, the hips forward and arch their back.

When you stand, adopt a stance of "readiness," maintaining a little bit of spring in your knees. It takes muscular effort but will spare your joints.

It is important not to lie down on your front when you sleep as this position tends to arch your back, and your neck turns 90 degrees.

Instead, try sleeping on your back or side. If you suffer from pack pain, sleep with a pillow between your knees to balance your hips.

The Stress We Encounter Daily

A moderate amount of stress is beneficial for us but chronic, and toxic stress has the opposite effect of deteriorating our well-being.

Our current lifestyles provide us with above-average levels of psychological stress, which slowly drains us of our willpower and resilience, and makes us feeling hollow and unfulfilled.

We have a word for it: Burnout.

How I Broke the Cycle of Stress

The long-term effect of chronic stress is described as allostatic load. This is a fairly common form of chronic stress response of the body if it isn’t completely destroyed.

Prolonged stress makes the mind and body function in a different, sub-optimal way called maladaptation.

Many professionals have reported epidemic levels of burnout due to an abundance of stress-inducing activities that are not productive or necessary.

Chronic stress and burnout also result in errors, accidents, disability and even death.

Research in positive psychology shows that setting and pursuing a variety of goals that are meaningful to us is associated with less stress.

This includes being present in the moment and self-reflection activities like writing a journal.

This is about concentrating on your internal motivation, and perceived capability to attain a certain goal. It makes us achieve small goals, as we are motivated towards taking the small steps which eventually lead to our larger goals.

Remember that we are not machines, and we cannot sacrifice our well-being for someone else’s bottom line, or any artificial target.




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