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How to Train Your Brain To Stop Overthinking

Overthinking may be something you want to train your brain to stop doing, especially if it causes problems for you. For example, does your overthinking lead to a negative mood or increase your level of anxiety? Does it stop you from doing things that you need to get done? Are you procrastinating making a decision because you want to weigh all of the possible outcomes?

Overthinking can have negative consequences for those who are chronic worriers. Focusing on future uncertainties makes us anxious when we feel a lack of control. Overthinking can also keep us from enjoying the present moment. Let’s explore ways to train your brain to stop overthinking and start appreciating what is here for us in the now.

Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara showed images of kaleidoscope colors to study participants and then tested their ability to remember if they had seen an image before. Participants who took their best guess at the memory test did better than those who spent time trying to remember colors and patterns. The overthinkers focused their brain power on recalling the visual information that they were presented with did less well than those who did not focus their attention on remembering details.

The researchers say that this study shows ‘why paying attention can be a distraction and affect performance outcomes.’ The area of the brain in our prefrontal cortex that is active when we pay attention is the dorsolateral area. Participants with less prefrontal cortex stimulation during the test remembered the images better. In other words, paying more attention to details actually hurt their ability to remember what they had seen.

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO STOP OVERTHINKING AND SEE THE BIG PICTURE

The research shows that a more broad overview approach may be better for recalling complex images. To train your brain to process information this way, try to imagine taking in all of the details at once, as if your brain is taking a photo and seeing all of the pieces of information at once.

You can practice underthinking by finding a picture book, opening to a random page and looking at an image for 5 seconds. Close the book and try to recall everything that you saw. The short amount of time prevents your brain from overthinking, but you will be surprised at how much you can recall. Try this repeatedly until you feel more confident in your brain’s ability to process information quickly.

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO BE COMFORTABLE WITH UNCERTAINTY

There are things you can know, and things you may never know. Overthinkers have trained their brains to focus on the uncertainties because they are trying to solve them. For an overthinker, their brain is like that of a two year old constantly seeking answers. Although some questions can be answered, overthinkers may tend to dwell on those that can’t.

Or at least they think they can’t be answered, for example ‘What could they possibly have meant when they said that’ could be easily answered by asking the person to clarify their meaning. ‘I wonder what they think of me’ could be answered by asking the person whose opinion you are overthinking. Either seek the answer to the question that you are overthinking, or tell your brain that you’ll have to be okay with not knowing the answer.

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO OBSERVE YOUR NEGATIVE SELF-THINKING

Meta-thinking is thinking about how you think, which requires some self-observation. If you’re reading this article and have concerns about your overthinking, you are already aware of your own unproductive thinking patterns. People who experience distress about overthinking usually have negative thoughts about themselves because of their thoughts.

Allowing negative thoughts to exist while rejecting them as being part of what we identify as ‘self’ is part of a technique that can help overthinkers. Researchers in the journal Behavior Therapy found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) helped people to feel more self-compassion rather than negative emotions about their overthinking. People who went through MBCT therapy experienced less stress associated with their thoughts.

FIND ONE THING YOU CAN CONTROL

If overthinking is happening because you need to gain control over a situation, then find one concrete action step that you can do to gain back some sense of control. For example, writing down the problem is simple and it allows your brain to stop trying to remember the issue. Then identify one more thing you can do that will be a step in the right direction, for example, making a phone call to get more information.



REFERENCES:
HTTP://THEMINDUNLEASHED.COM/2014/09/8-WAYS-STOP-THINKING-FIND-PEACE.HTML
UC SANTA BARBARA
HTTP://WWW.NEWS.UCSB.EDU/2013/013593/OVERTHINKING-CAN-BE-DETRIMENTAL-HUMAN-PERFORMANCE
MINDFULNESS
HTTPS://WWW.INFONA.PL/RESOURCE/BWMETA1.ELEMENT.ELSEVIER-8BD302D8-2A24-3686-9CFC-C75269D9138D


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10 Habits That Improve Mental Health

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil Gibran

Some argue that mental health is just as important as physical health; fair enough, but one could make a strong case that the former supersedes the latter. Without proper mental faculties, no level of physical prowess will overcome this weakness.

Our state of mental health is dynamic in the sense that it affects everything every experience. For example, when our mental health is good, our job performance, relationships, and overall quality of life are good as well. When it’s suffering, we cannot effectively navigate our daily life.

As important is mental health is, it’s quite easy to take for granted. In an externally-focused world, it is easy to succumb to social pressures that place physical attributes (e.g., appearance, body weight) over the mental. Furthermore, those that do seek consolation for any mental health problems fear being stigmatized, perceived as “weak,” or otherwise being negatively judged.

The truth is that mental health problems are not a character weakness – they are a chemical imbalance in the brain. Plain and simple. Nothing less and nothing more.

We do, whether we realize it or not, have a responsibility to maintain our mental health. This responsibility should be second-to-none.

Which brings us to the topic of this article: ways to maintain and improve your mental health.

HERE ARE 10 SUCH WAYS:

1. VALUE YOURSELF.

It’s natural to be our “own worst enemy” at times; harshly criticizing any (real or perceivable) mistake, and continually punishing ourselves psychologically.

Despite this default mechanism, make every attempt to practice some self-compassion (there are many ways of doing this, meditation among them.) Allocate time for the things that you enjoy, such as your favorite hobbies.

Put simply: do things that make you feel good about being you!

2. CARE FOR YOUR BODY.

The connection between physical and mental health is well-established. As such, it is important to take care of your body. Here are some things you can do:

– Do not smoke
– Drink a lot of water
– Get at least 30 minutes of exercise
– Sleep at least 7 to 9 hours per night
– Eat a well-balanced diet; avoiding high-fat and sweet foods and drinks

 

3. WATCH YOUR SOCIAL CIRCLE.

Not everyone is blessed to have solid family ties, which (unsurprisingly) helps with mental development. That said, it’s our responsibility to allow the “right kinds” of people into our life. This means supporting family members and/or friends; as well as searching for social events that can bring good people into your life.

4. GIVE WHAT YOU CAN.

You don’t need to give away half your paycheck to reap the mental health benefits of generosity. Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else; find a worthy cause you can fully support and stick with it.

5. UNDERSTAND AND PRACTICE STRESS-MANAGEMENT.

Here’s an uncomfortable truth: some of us are atrocious at managing stress. These types of people face significant disadvantages in terms of both physical and mental well-being.

Several structured stress-management systems exist, and many of them are quite effective. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is one worth mentioning. There are also plenty of simple stress-reduction techniques that can help, such as moment-to-moment mindfulness.

6. SILENCE YOUR MIND.

Our minds possess exceptional powers. Unfortunately, our minds can also be a liability. We can develop habits such as overthinking that threaten our mental states. As such, it’s important to practice techniques to counteract our “monkey mind.” Among them: mindfulness, prayer, deep breathing, relaxation techniques.

7. LOOK AT YOUR JOB

Job-related mental health problems are attributed their inherent stressful requirements. Certain professions, according to health.com, are associated with higher levels of depression (e.g. nurses, teachers, salespeople).

Should you suspect that your job is taking a dramatic toll on your mental health, it may be time to consider your options. Not many jobs are fun, but they shouldn’t be stressful as to threaten your mental stability.

8. GET RID OF ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUGS

Sure, booze and pills can offer some temporary stress relief. However, when this behavior becomes habitual, it manifests into some other severe problems.

The challenge lies in making people “see the light” when it comes to alcohol and drug use. More specifically, that the long-term consequences of their use are NOT worth it.

9. SHAKE THINGS UP

Monotony is an inductor of stress. When we do the same thing, day in and day out, accumulated stress can pose a (sometimes severe) threat to our mental health. Find a way to mix in something enjoyable, or find ways to “switch up” your approach to work, hobbies, and other routine activities.

10. GET SOME HELP

In the U.S., many employers offer something called an employee assistance program, or EAP. EAP is designed to help employees “with personal problems and/or work-related problems that may impact their job performance, health, mental and emotional well-being.” Other advanced countries offer something similar.

Regardless if it’s a board-certified psychiatrist or someone you look up to, find an outlet. Remember: getting help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and courage.

SOURCES:
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN. UNIVERSITY HEALTH SERVICE. (2017). RETRIEVED FEBRUARY 02, 2017, FROM HTTPS://WWW.UHS.UMICH.EDU/TENTHINGS
WIKIPEDIA. EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM. (N.D.). RETRIEVED FEBRUARY 02, 2017, FROM HTTPS://EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG/WIKI/EMPLOYEE_ASSISTANCE_PROGRAM
WORTH, T. (N.D.). 10 CAREERS WITH HIGH RATES OF DEPRESSION. RETRIEVED FEBRUARY 02, 2017, FROM HTTP://WWW.HEALTH.COM/HEALTH/GALLERY/0,,20428990,00.HTML/VIEW-ALL


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Combo Of Sleep Apnea And Insomnia Linked To Depression In Men

Men with both obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia are much more likely to have depression symptoms compared to men with either sleep disorder alone, suggests a recent Australian study.

The depression symptoms also seem to be worse for men who have both apnea and insomnia compared to men with depression but without this combination of sleep problems, the authors report in the journal Respirology.

“Obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia are the two most common sleep disorders and can occur together in the same individual,” lead author Dr. Carol Lang, a researcher at the Basil Hetzel Institute at the University of Adelaide Queen Elizabeth Hospital Campus, told Reuters Health.
“We know that each of these disorders is individually associated with poor physical and mental health outcomes in patients. However, we don’t know very much about if, or how, the two disorders interact with each other and the health outcomes when they coexist in the same individual,” Lang said in an email.

A person with obstructive sleep apnea has their breathing interrupted multiple times during sleep by narrowed or blocked airways. The condition is often treated by wearing a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, mask to keep the airway open.

Insomnia was defined in this study as the inability to fall or stay asleep together with feeling fatigued during the day.

Lang and her colleagues enrolled 700 mostly middle aged men in Adelaide with no diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. All of them underwent at-home sleep monitoring known as polysomnography and answered questions about their sleep habits, health conditions and possible depression symptoms.

cpap

Researchers found that more than half of the men had undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. In the entire group, 323 men had sleep apnea only, 37 had insomnia only and 47 had both conditions.

Of the men with both sleep apnea and insomnia, 43 percent also had depression, compared with 22 percent of the men who had insomnia alone and 8 percent of the men who had sleep apnea alone.

Sleep deprivation, which may occur in chronic insomnia, is known to adversely affect muscles involved in breathing and may contribute to the propensity and severity of sleep apnea, Lang noted.

“There are also many biochemical signaling pathways in the body through which sleep apnea, insomnia, and depression may interact with each other,” she said.

If one of the sleep disorders is suspected, primary care providers should consider the possibility of co-existing sleep apnea and insomnia as well as their patient’s mental health, said Lang.

“Since some hypnotic medications could potentially be counter-productive, patients should be referred to sleep clinics, and if necessary mental health clinics, for further investigation so that the most appropriate treatment strategy can be implemented for them as an individual,” she said.

Our sleep is important for our physical and mental health, Lang added, and a person who experiences sleep problems should talk to a medical practitioner to see if further investigation is necessary.

By Shereen Lehman       Tue Jun 20, 2017       Reuters Health
SOURCE: bit.ly/2tqz3bK        Respirology, online June 7, 2017        www.reuters.com


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The Best Health Advice Ever

The Best Health Advice Ever

Keeping your mind and body in tip-top shape is essential for living your best life. It’s difficult to attain success when you’re dragging yourself through the day, feeling stressed out, anxious, and generally unwell. That’s why you need to make yourself a priority. Focusing on your wellness is not selfish, it’s necessary for you to be able to give your best self to others. The Cheat Sheet spoke with six leading health experts about the best health advice they’ve ever received.

1. Let go of unforgiveness

Learn to forgive! At the heart of many chronic diseases is stress. At the heart of much stress is a lack of forgiveness. Not being able to let go of the past produces a lot of stress in our lives. This stress increases the incidence of hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and more.

My advice for men: Don’t be embarrassed to see your doctor if you ever have an episode of erectile dysfunction. After your first episode of ED you have a 25% chance of having a stroke or heart attack in the next five years. See your doctor immediately and start to change your lifestyle with diet change and exercise to reduce your risk.

Dr. Chidi Ngwaba, Director at the European Society of Lifestyle Medicine

 2. Get enough sleep

Medical training can be grueling with some weeks lasting 110+ hours on the job. The lecture I had on sleep hygiene and making sure to set aside time for sleep was the best health advice I’d ever received. All-nighters or just neglecting sleep creates havoc on your health and happiness.

Dr. Jared Heathman, Psychiatrist

3. You are in control of your health

The best health advice I ever received is to recognize that I am the expert in my own health. I will meet many professionals and hear many opinions, but I am the only person who will have to live with the consequences, and I am the one who knows my body and my mind the best. So it is up to me to listen to the input and decide what will serve me best. This has allowed me to live my life with amazing freedom and to let the outside judgments roll off of me as I know that I am doing what is best for me.

Crystal Johnson, MSc, MCP, RSLP, RCC, Registered Clinical Counselor

4. Take preventative health measures

Be able to do 25 push-ups. This doesn’t sound like very profound advice, but it may have changed my life. I tried out for the wrestling team at age 13, never having thought about exercising before. At try-outs, the coach said we should all be able to do at least 25 push-ups (and a certain number of sit-ups). I tried, and found I could do about five! I started working out that day — and have worked out almost every day for the 40 years since. I can do considerably more than 25 push-ups now. I think it’s idiosyncratic that this had such an affect on me, but the clarity, the specificity, and the practicality of it really resonated. It suggests we might all benefit from specific, actionable goals related to our health and fitness.

My advice for men: Think beyond your own skin. As a son, brother, husband, and especially father — what you do about your own health will influence others. The most important reason to protect your own health may be somebody else — like a son or daughter who will emulate you. It has always been ‘guy stuff’ to defend hearth and home. These days, the wolves at the door are diabetes, obesity, and so on. We can best defend against them by walking the walk ourselves — and leading our families toward vitality. So I’m calling on my fellow sons, brothers, and dads to step up accordingly!

Dr. David L. Katz, MPH, FACPM, FACP, Director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, Griffin Hospital

5. Eat real food — and then take a walk

The best health advice I’ve gotten is eat food, but not too much — mostly plants. It comes from author Michael Pollan. I love this advice because it’s so simple and clear, yet so incredibly effective. If this is the only eating advice you follow, your diet will be fantastic!

Second, move. If you have a desk job, get up every hour and move for at least two minutes. While working out is great, our bodies are designed to move throughout the day. Sitting all day, even if you exercise, is bad for your health. Studies show that sedentary behavior can lead to death from cardiovascular issues and cancer and cause chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Ellen Albertson, PhD, RDN, CD, Psychologist, Nutritionist, Certified Wellcoach, Founder, SmashYourScale.com    Twitter: @eralbertson

 6. Don’t forget mental health

Stress, anxiety, episodes of sadness, and depression are very common and can have a negative impact on physical health. Healthy eating, sleep, and exercise are all crucial. [Practice] daily mindfulness or meditation — even 5 to 10 minutes a day. End each day recognizing the positive and the things that make you happy. Increase your brain’s receptiveness to positivity. I like using the idea that we go through the day collecting negativity in an imaginary “BAG.” At the end of the day you can empty the BAG and refill it with the letters BAG by answering these three questions: B — What was the Best part of the day and why? A — What did I Accomplish, why was it important to me today? And G — What am I truly Grateful for?

Cara Maksimow, licensed clinical social worker, speaker, and owner of Maximize Wellness Counseling & Coaching LLC

Sheiresa Ngo     October 27, 2016
 


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Why We All Need Green In Our Lives

(CNN) It’s the color of the Emerald Isle, the hue of sickness and envy, and a shade associated with grotesque monsters. And its most universal interpretation conjures imagery of nature, a vibrant symbol of the environmental movement and healthy living.

Green, the mixture of blue and yellow, can be seen everywhere and in countless shades. In fact, the human eye sees green better than any color in the spectrum.

This, along with many other facts about this earthly color, makes it an essential part of our everyday lives.

But why is that?

Helping you see

We see green with ease because of how light reaches our eyes; the human eye translates waves of light into color.

When we see a green frog, the color that we see is the light reflected off of the surface of the frog’s skin, perceived by our eyes as green.

When we see these colors, the cones in our eyes are able to process the wavelengths and tell the brain what color is being observed.

Humans are trichromats, meaning we perceive three primary colors: blue, green and red. The retina in a human eye can detect light between wavelengths of 400 and 700 nanometers, a range known as the visible spectrum.

Each primary color corresponds to a different wavelength, starting with blue at the lowest (400 nanometers) and red at the highest (700 nanometers).

In the middle of the spectrum resides the color green, at around 555 nanometers. This wavelength is where our perception is at its best. Because of its position in the center of the spectrum, both blue and red light waves are enhanced and better perceived with the help of green waves.

Knowing your environment

Green space sweeps the planet. Before skyscrapers and suburbs popped up, our ancestors resided in forested regions full of greenery.

As they scavenged for food, the ability to differentiate between colored berries against the backdrop of green foliage was critical for survival.

The evolution of eyesight and the increasing ability to detect color with fine detail gave our primate ancestors an evolutionary advantage over other mammals who could not discern such differences as well.

Color changes in leaves, fruits and vegetables can indicate age or ripeness and even offer a warning that something may be poisonous or rotten.

Today, we continue to use this ancestral instinct at a farmers market or grocery store.

Sourcing your food

Bananas, though widely considered to be a yellow fruit, start off as green due to the presence of chlorophyll. Just as grass and leaves have chlorophyll to give them color, so do fruits.
Located in the cells of plants, chlorophyll plays a crucial role in photosynthesis, allowing plants to harvest energy from sunlight and convert it into energy that the plant can use to grow.

The molecule absorbs blue and red light well while reflecting the green light that we see.

The peels of bananas are bright green in color until the chlorophyll inside the peel begins to break down. As the fruit ripens, the molecule in the peel breaks down and we observe a color change from green to bright yellow – and we prefer to eat yellow bananas because they are sweeter.

While the chlorophyll in the banana breaks down, the starch in the peel is converted into sugar, so more yellow means more sugar – until it begins to rot.

Because of their high starch content, greener bananas are sometimes favored as a cure for upset stomachs.

This change in color also applies when glancing over an aisle of bright bell peppers. Our eyes help us find our favored ripeness and sweetness. Green peppers, with more chlorophyll, are less sweet. As they turn yellow and red, the peppers become sweeter.

When we’re enjoying a salad, a brown piece of wilted lettuce or kale is almost always discarded. And our eyes tell us the lawn is overdue for some maintenance when the color darkens.

So although we may not reside in the forests anymore, our keen perception of green continues to play a significant role in keeping us healthy.

Keeping you calm

Some scientists and researchers also believe that because our eyes are at the peak of their perception to detect the wavelengths corresponding with the color green, the shade may calm us down.

With less strain to perceive the colors, our nervous system can relax when perceiving the tone.

This sedative quality of green may explain why there is so much of it in hospitals, schools and work environments. Historically, actors and actresses would recess to green rooms after so much time looking into bright lights on stage, though modern “green rooms” are rarely painted green.

Helping you live longer

Natural environments, full of green vegetation, might help you live longer.

A 2016 study found that living in or near green areas can was linked with longer life expectancy and improved mental health in female participants. Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital compared risk of death with the amount of plant life and vegetation near the homes of more than 100,000 women.

After the eight-year study was completed, the data revealed that participants who lived in the greenest areas had a 12% lower death rate than women living in the least green areas.

With more green space, study authors said, came more opportunity to socialize outdoors.

Additionally, the natural settings – compared with residential regions where plants and greenery were sparse – proved to be beneficial to mental health.

“We were surprised at the magnitude of the mental health pathway,” said Peter James, study author and research associate at the Harvard Chan School’s Department of Epidemiology.

Of those who did not live in greener areas, respiratory issues were the second highest cause of death. The study indicated that less exposure to polluted air may have been one of several reasons for increased life expectancy among for those who lived in green areas.

Our ancestors lived their entire lives outdoors. The benefits we stand to gain from adopting an outdoor mindset, James says, could have a positive impact. “We know already that vegetation can help mitigate the effect of climate change. Our study suggests the potential co-benefit for health.”

Article by Robert Jimison, CNN        Mon June 5, 2017
source: www.cnn.com


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Just 10 Minutes of Meditation Boosts Mood and Focus for People With Anxiety

It also prompted a shift away from future-oriented worrying and helped people focus on the present. 

People who suffer from anxiety are often plagued by repetitive thoughts, which can distract from the task at hand and affect mood and productivity. But a new study suggests that just 10 minutes of daily meditation can help reduce episodes of mind wandering, especially for people who report high levels of emotional stress.

Previous research has found that meditation can help prevent “off-task thinking” in healthy individuals, but this study, published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, aimed to determine the benefits of mindfulness specifically as they relate to anxiety.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo asked 82 college students, all of whom met the clinical criteria for anxiety, to perform a monotonous computer task that measured their ability to stay focused. At random points throughout, the participants were asked to reveal their thoughts “just prior to this moment.”

Then they divided the participants into two groups: One listened to an excerpt from The Hobbit, and the other listened to a 10-minute meditation that instructed them to focus on breathing and “remain open-minded to their experience.” (You can listen to the same recording, called Mindfulness of Body and Breath, here.)

The groups then repeated the computer task. This time, 43 percent of thoughts in the meditation group were considered “mind wandering,” meaning they weren’t related to the task or to things going on around them, down slightly from 44 percent in the pre-test.

In the group that listened to the audio story, the percentage of mind-wandering thoughts actually increased—from 35 percent in the pre-test to 55 percent in the post-test.

The meditation group also reported a significant decrease in “future-oriented thoughts,” from 35 percent before the mindfulness exercise to 25 percent after. This could indicate a shift in thinking from internal worries (about tomorrow’s exam, for example) to things going on around them in the moment (say, a dirty computer monitor or a flickering light), the authors say. That’s important, because stressing about future events is a hallmark of anxiety.

And while meditation didn’t reduce all forms of off-task thinking in the study (like being distracted by external stimuli), it did appear to lessen performance disruptions associated with those thoughts. Both groups also experienced a decrease in negative emotions between the pre-test and the post-test.

“In short, meditation is beneficial in both improving mood and helping people stay focused in their thoughts and also behaviors,” says lead author and PhD student Mengran Xu. “The two do go together.”

Mind wandering accounts for almost half of humans’ daily stream of consciousness, Xu adds. It can cause us to make errors on everyday tasks, like mailing an envelope without its contents, but it’s also been associated with an increased risk of injury and death while driving, difficulties in school, and impaired performance in everyday life.

By Amanda MacMillan        May 3, 2017


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Secretly thinking you’re better than everyone else is good for your mental health, researchers suggest.

  • Memory improves when you imagine yourself doing something.

 

  • Drinking 2 cups of cold water on an empty stomach can boost metabolism by 30%.

  • Five Things you can do to help you be happier:

    1. Meditation 2. Smiling 3. Exercise 4. Help others 5. Follow your passion.

Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact