If You are Stressed eat every 2 hours!?!!!???

 Warning! This is bad Bad BAD advice.

According to Dr. Tara Swart, neuroscientist: “If you are under stress, eat every two hours for optimal brain function. Your brain can’t store glucose and so it is important to keep replenishing your stores. This will help you to maintain your focus and ensures a productivity boost.”

“It also ensures that your brain is well fed for any of the decisions it may need to make.”

“She adds that if you have the space to develop your mental resilience, then it can be useful to practice intermittent fasting as it teaches your brain that you can manage small amounts of physical stress, because you are in control of your recovery.”

Eating by Peggy

 When I’m stressed (which is a chronic state with fibromyalgia) I self-medicate on sugar.  Sugar gives me an immediate dopamine boost which then sends my blood sugar crashing which then sends me to my medicine cabinet (the pantry) . . . .

When I read Dr Swart’s advice the pantry was bare (after I ate a package of sugar coated pineapple, 3 prunes, a bowl of Cheerios and a handful of almonds – I’m stocking the cupboards with health food).  

Knowing my two hours would be up in another two hours I made a dash to the store.  A mix of double chocolate brownies (on sale) was only $3.99 and a better bargain than the packaged bakery brownies at $5.99.  Maybe my mental resilience didn’t need practice.

I had already eaten up (pun intended) 45 minutes of my two hour zone by going to the store.  So I was doubly stressed making the double chocolate brownies knowing that two hours would be up before the brownies were done and the only thing left to eat were Cheerios.

Dr Tara Swart is a neuroscientist who probably is svelte, prefers salt over sugar and her brain is smarter to begin with than mine.  I’ll bet she’s never had to practice “intermittent fasting”

(jw)

Worry your life away – literally

As  psychotherapists we saw more people who were walking worriers (to coin a phrase) than most people meet in their lifetime.  Our “treatment” evolved over time based on our interest in neurochemistry and brain research.

Thirty plus years ago, when we were in school, excessive worry was labeled as an Anxiety Disorder. What we weren’t taught was there was a positive biological adaptation for the brain to “worry”.  Simply put the “brains” that knew best how to scan for danger were the “brains” that stayed alive long enough to produce progeny.

stock-vector-scared-cartoon-caveman-vector-clip-art-illustration-with-simple-gradients-all-in-a-single-layer-416053591

In our jungle days it was prudent and life saving for acute “worry”. The clients we saw who were anxious actually had very smart brains that were trying to keep them alive.  Unfortunately, our 21st century brains don’t realize we no longer live in the jungle and chronic worry is a problem.

We also live considerably longer than in caveman times and recently research has discovered that in addition to creating biochemical changes, dysfunctional worry profoundly affects our genetics.

“Obsessive worries — negative responses to stress — actually can shorten the component of DNA that governs a person’s life expectancy. Under excess stress, this DNA component becomes shorter.”

So our DNA structure is literally changed by dysfunctional worry that does not lead to resolution but that instead leads to destructive biological changes in the body.

Take a look at The Single Most Effective Antidote for Anxiety for a simple and highly effective way to better control, if not curb, chronic worry.

The Single Most Effective Antidote for Anxiety.

Pawsitively Tuesday, Eat, Pray, Love by Penelope

Penelope and I met many years ago.  I went for a carton of milk and there she was, an albino pig, in a grocery store.  She was in a dangerous situation – it was only time before she ended up on the meat aisle. (OIY VEY)  So for $9 I took her home with the milk.

I gave her a bit of color and a bow and she went to live in my therapy office.

Very few clients ever commented on her.  I always suspected new clients didn’t quite know what to say and my long-term clients knew me well enough that they didn’t need to say anything.
Penelope retired the same time as Freddie Parker but she still has a lot of good advice: 

How to Live Life to the Fullest

by Penelope the Pig, CPT*, RET

  • EAT greedily all the delectable things life gives you.

  • WALLOW in what’s soothing & cool.

  • SNORT at those who are not loving.

  • CELEBRATE how delicious you are.

  • PRAY you will not be eaten before your time.

  • PIG OUT on LOVE

*CPT, Certified Porcine Therapist

(jw)

5 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO CHEER UP QUICKLY, ACCORDING TO NEUROSCIENCE

Pick yourself up and dust yourself off.  Easier said than done.  When I’m “down” I often just want to wallow in my misery, lick my wounds and feel sorry for myself.  It’s easier just to brood.  

There are, however, easy things to do that actually alter your brain neurochemistry to help you feel better .   When you get tired of brooding:

1. Go for a Walk outside.

Moving releases feel-better neurotransmitters.  Research  shows that if you walk outdoors, somewhere green,  the effect is enhanced.  scientifically proven to make you feel better. 

Journal Writing by Peggy

2. Vent Your Frustrations Into a Journal

Get paper and pen and write whatever comes to your mind, and no matter what it is, just keep writing. Even if it’s just, “This is stupid. Why am I doing this? Need to take out the garbage,” Focus on your frustrations. Write for a minimum of 20 minutes so your unconscious takes over.  Once you’ve done a mind-dump your brain can move on .

3. Call a Friend or Family Member

You may not want to burden anyone else with your bad mood but sometimes a friend or family member is needed . Let them know up front you don’t need advice just a listening ear. It helps you feel not so alone, lets your brain “objectively observe” whatever is stressing you . . . and knowing there are people who care can help shift your perspective.

Cat ‘n Mouse Phone Chat, by Peggy

4. Practice Gratitude

A simple way to stop feeling sorry for yourself and dwelling on everything that is going wrong is to focus on what is going right. Write down 3-5 things in your life, or on that day, that you are grateful for. . . .  look for things you take for granted: indoor plumbing, no toenail fungus (that is, of course if you have indoor plumbing and toenails)  . . .  the more you practice gratitude, the more you experience it.

5. Laugh Out Loud in Front of a Mirror

This sounds a bit weird BUT your laugh muscles signal the brain to release positive neurochemicals.   Even if you just smile broadly it works.  

If you want the easiest way to feel better check out an over-the-counter remedy Click here: Rx for Gratitude

More? Four easy ways to get happy 

How to avoid getting upset around angry, mean, “toxic” people – Quick tip

The answer is sitting in your imagination (and in your kitchen) right now.

This was the topic in a group of patients who had been discharged from our hospital psychiatric unit.  That’s not me you’re thinking.  BUT you, too, have undoubtedly been confronted with “toxic” people.  

If not “toxic”, all of us, at one time or another, have wanted protection from otherwise unpleasant people .  Most of us don’t have the money or the wherewithal to move away or “divorce” ourselves from family or colleagues.  

The BIG question  

How do you protect yourself from the negative energy of people when they are standing right in front of you?   Listen to what this incredibly imaginative group of people came up with!

ELEVEN Uses for Press ‘n Seal

Imagine using “Press N Seal” to separate yourself from the person who is making you feel anxious, fearful, sad or just plain downright uncomfortable! 

While the “toxic” person is right there in front of you, in your imagination, rip off a huge piece of Press N Seal and put it between yourself and the offending party, then “seal” it with your finger.

Research shows our brains can’t tell the difference between what is literally happening and what we imagine happening. 

Imagining “press ‘n sealing” puts mental space between you and them – you stay calm and better able to cope with what they are saying or doing. It may even make you laugh, but consider the consequences of doing that . . . probably better to imagine yourself smiling while you wrap them tightly in another ripped off piece of Press ‘n Seal.

(PA)

Get a Move-on!

When I was growing up the only way the brain could be studied was after you were dead. With current technology researchers can now see electrical activity and brain structure in living brains.  The information on emotional states and the brain has exploded (the information, not the brain).  

Meowie Getting Her Move On by Peggy

We known for a long time how important exercise is for our body, but what we did not realize is how important exercise is for the brain.

Exercise has the same effects on the brain chemistry as antidepressant medications. Several studies have demonstrated that its benefits can ‘exceed even those of medication’.

“Exercise increases nerve growth factors, such as brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which are like steroids for the brain. Most people suffering from depression due to a deficiency of serotonin  depend wholly on psychiatric medications and consume antidepressants which target the serotonin system in your brain to elevate serotonin levels, that increase your motivation and willpower-and  minimize the activity of depression. Today neuroscientific research provides evidence that exercise can also ‘boost serotonin activity’.”

“Any movement such as:

  • walking  
  • jogging 
  • gardening
  • walking up and down the stairs

increases ‘the firing rate of serotonin neurons’, which causes them to release more serotonin to treat your depression or create new good habits. Similarly, exercise with moderate intensity increases your norepinephrine– which controls in depressive people the difficulties with concentration and deep thinking.”

“When you exercise your brain releases endorphins that act on your neurons like opiates (such as Vicodin or morphine) by sending ‘neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief’.  Exercise also speeds up activation of the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids (marijuana) are a naturally occurring chemical in the brain which reduces pain and increases positive feelings.”

Get Your Move On!  It’s legal everywhere.

To read the entire article by Professor B L Chakoo

Click here: http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/depression-and-neuro-science/

 

“1/4 of a second secret” to stop anger in its tracks

I met some remarkable people working as a therapist in a hospital psychiatric ward.  One of the most memorable was a Vietnam veteran who flew into rages.  He’d lost his lower left leg in battle. But the war or being severely injured were not what made him rageful. He had always raged, even as a child. His father raged as well.

His wife was the main target of his rages.  He would become uncontrollably angry at the smallest of things like forgetting where she left her keys, or spilling a beverage . . .  until he learned the “1/4 second secret” to controlling unwanted anger.

To understand the 1/4 of a second secret you need to understand the fight or flight reaction.

We have an ever vigilant watchdog,  a small almond shaped organ in our midbrain called the amygdala (amygdala from the Greek word for almond) that looks out for us 24/7 and alerts us to any POSSIBLE threat.  

When our brain receives a threat-cue, sounds, sights, smells, touches or even our imagination, our brain wants FAST action. No waiting around for a sign of safety, no thinking things through just FLEE or stay and FIGHT (there is also a “freeze” response but that’s another post).

Our amygdala floods the cells in our body with neurochemical signals to increase blood pressure, raise heart rate, send blood away from major organs to your muscles, constrict capillaries near the skin, increase breathing, and tamper down anything that isn’t crucial to fight or flee for survival. 

Unfortunately, our brain doesn’t discriminate between real threats, imagined threats, conditioned or potential threats.  That’s why things that are, in reality, not threatening can become threat-cues.

Luckily, many people tend to go with flight more easily than fight. But for those whose brain directs them to fight here’s the “1/4 second secret” that stopped the vet’s rages:


The thinking part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex, can STOP the fight or flight response. We have 1/4 of a second to interrupt the signal from the threatening stimuli (sounds, sights, smells, touches or our imagination).  In that 1/4 split second tell the amygdala “Stop” or “I’m safe” and take a deep breath.

If we don’t “catch it” in 1/4 of a second a neurochemical cascade will  flood our cells.  Once the cells are flooded it takes 15 – 20 minutes for the neurochemicals to metabolize out of our body (provided no new information saying the threat continues to exist is received).

This is what the vet learned to do:

  • First, he identified the triggers that sent him into a rage.
  • Second, when he anticipated a trigger he used his pre-frontal cortex to say “stop” to the amygdala.
  • Third, if he failed to anticipate the trigger and felt the stress response building he would take a 20 minute walk to speed up  metabolizing out the stress response.

I admired his remarkable determination.  It took him 1/4 of a minute at a time to stop his rage response, change his marriage and improve his life.

Do you have a “secret technique” to control your stress response?

(PA)