Having trouble concentrating during the COVID-19 pandemic? Neuroscience explains why

I’m not a good barometer of what is considered “good” concentration since I have always “multi-tasked” my whole life.  (I call it multi-tasking, others might refer to it as attention deficit disorder.  I suppose I could split the difference and call it multi-tasking disorder.)

I read about people, young to old, having trouble concentrating during this pandemic. Some lack motivation, and those who need to concentrate and complete tasks that require sustained intellectual engagement because of studies or jobs are having trouble.

Can science explain this? 

FIRST: Emotions CAN take over our minds – A question of the amygdala

Emotions can warn us and activate our bodies system for defense. The amygdala responds rapidly to anything that may be threatening. It responds to possible threats, so we are ready to act-to run or to fight, if the threat is real. It is faster than our prefrontal cortex, which can analyze if the threat is real or just looks like a threat.

Think of seeing a coiled shape on the ground. The amygdala immediately responds and starts to set in motion your systems to run or fight. A bit slower, the prefrontal cortex looks closely-is it a snake? Or just a coiled rope? The prefrontal cortex can shut down the emergency response that the amygdala has started if it is safe. But if it isn’t safe, if it was a snake, your body is already preparing, This helps you cope with danger and survive.

In people, the amygdala responds to social cues. People are very sensitive to the emotional charge of situations and people they encounter. Neuroscience shows we are unable to ignore the emotional charge we sense.

SECOND: Attention/focus/concentration are limited resources. 

The cognitive psychologist Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner in 2002, was among the first to propose that attention is a limited cognitive resource and that some cognitive processes require more attention than others. This is particularly the case for activities that require conscious control, like reading or writing. 
These activities use working memory, which is limited. The brain circuits for working memory are in the prefrontal cortex.

Researchers have thought that the emotions being processed in the amygdala do not affect the attention resources of working memory. But new evidence indicates the circuits that connect the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex are important in determining what is relevant and what is not for whatever activity is currently being undertaken. 

THIRD: Emotional stimuli interfere with tasks that require working memory.

For tasks that need a lot of cognitive resources, there is more interference. The more someone needs to concentrate, the more easily they are distracted. Research by Michael Eysenck supports this idea. He and his colleagues showed that people who are anxious prefer to focus on the perceived threat, rather than the task they are performing. This can include internal thoughts or external images. This is also true of worry. Both anxiety and worry use up attention and cognitive resources that are needed for working memory. This decreases performance, especially if a task is complicated.

 

FOURTH: Mental fatigue tells us that our mental resources are depleted.

It is also mentally draining to do a task while trying not to attend to other demands. Mental fatigue tells us that our mental resources are depleted. So even if we try to avoid attending to something other than the task at hand, this in itself depletes our attention. This explains why it is so difficult and tiring to work and focus when there is an emotional situation such as Covid 19 that concerns us.


In the context of messages of danger about the virus, people find it difficult to focus fully.

FINALLY!  An excuse I can use.  I just wish my excuse wasn’t connected to a viral killer. judy



https://theconversation.com/having-trouble-concentrating-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic-neuroscience-explains-why-139185


Thoughts on Solitude


There is no insurmountable solitude. All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are.  And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song — but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny.”

Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet and diplomat  (1904–1973)

5 Memorable Quotes from John R. Lewis

 

He was an orator unlike many others, his words galvanizing action for multiple generations. To honor his legacy, here are some of his most powerful quotes.


“Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.”
— From his 2017 memoir, “Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America”

“You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone — any person or any force — dampen, dim or diminish your light. Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant.”
— From his 2017 memoir, “Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America”

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
— A tweet from June 2018

“My dear friends: Your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union.”
— A 2012 speech in Charlotte, North Carolina

“When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something. To do something. Our children and their children will ask us, ‘What did you do? What did you say?’ For some, this vote may be hard. But we have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history.”

 

 

Do you want an easy and MEANINGFUL way to make a difference?

  • Macy is looking for a pen pal with interest in church, singing and playing checkers, because he is the current checkers champion.
  • Ms. Julie says she loves cats and crossword puzzles.
  • Ms. Edna is looking for someone to chat about her favorite show, “Family Feud”.
  • Roger is looking for a pen pal who likes Las Vegas and casino games.
  • Lenora, isn’t picky about what she is sent — she just wants to receive some mail.

Nearly four months into a strict no-visitor rule due to the coronavirus, an assisted living community in North Carolina tapped into the power of social media to get its residents connected with people from all over the world.

After reading this CNN report we thought it would interest some of our readers to take out a pen and address a card to brighten up someone’s life.  Isolation isn’t impacting only those at senior homes but many people around the world as the pandemic continues to change the way we are able to connect with each other.

Check out assisted living in your own area.  Our guess is they would be delighted to have cards sent, even one time, if you don’t want to be a pen pal.

“It has been mentally straining on them not to see family members and loved ones,” Meredith Seals, the chief operating officer of Victorian Senior Care, told CNN on Wednesday. “When you are used to having family there every day and then you can’t, it’s very lonely for them.”

“It only took one question for the post on Facebook to go viral: Will you be my pen pal?
Residents in the various Victorian Senior Care communities smiled for pictures while holding signs with their names and interests. Staff then shared the images on Facebook with the address of where to send the letters.”

“They are overcome with joy when they see the mail,” Seals said. “It’s good to bring people together as much as we can.”

Since this program started last week, mail and packages for residents have been received from all over the world including Germany, countries in Africa and New Zealand.
“We posted a world map in each facility and they are tracking where they are getting letters from,” she said.
She added that the residents are enjoying getting photos of pets and people. They are working to get a pen pal board added to each facility so residents can hang up pictures they get.”

Again . . .

. . . check out assisted living, in your own area.  Our guess is they would be delighted to have cards sent, even one time if you didn’t want to be a pen pal.

We’ve got a stash of cards in our Zazzle store.  Remember!  We donate half our proceeds to The Gentle Barn.

Here’s some samples:

Click here for quilt card 

 

Click here fo Cute Creatures Card

Click here for Mask Making card

 

Click here for Tree of Life card

Anyone can send mail to the residents. People can click through the images on the Victorian Senior Care Facebook page to select a pen pal, their addresses are in the captions.
For anyone having a hard time picking, the main office is collecting themed packages it will distribute to the appropriate residents. Seals asks that the sender write on the envelope what the theme is — for example, sports, veteran, dog, or crafts.

Those can be mailed to:
4270 Heath Dairy Road
Randleman NC 27317
Attn: VSCPenPals

https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/01/us/assisted-living-pen-pals-north-carolina-trnd/index.html

Please SHARE THIS Post by sending this link http://judithwesterfield.com

to a friend, neighbor or relative who might be interested.

Frankly Freddie – Poem Pun Intended

Dear Freddie Fans,

Have you missed me? I’m taking a bit of a sabbatical.

Here’s the not-so-good news:

A few weeks ago I had a HUGE seizure.   I’ve had several mini-seizures since.  Scared my humans a LOT so they’re being extra nice to me. My new veterinarian is giving me phenobarbital to hopefully control the seizures.  All your prayers are licking good.

Here’s the GOOD news:

My humans are not allowing me to eat carbohydrates – the vet said that was a good idea – and my treats are deeeeeelectible:  chicken, egg, cheese, pure beef patty bites.  Much tastier than the packaged treats, if I do say so myself.  

Resting


Pome

by Freddie Parker Westerfield

Life will always be full of surprise

So each morning you arise

inhale, exhale

 wag your tail

Even when things don’t go your way

Seize the Day!

Everyday Habits (like lounging in the nude) that Reveal your Personality

The results are surprising. Example: Are you a prolific curser?  Defend your habit as a sign of your open-mindedness . . .

1. Greater conscientiousness was distinguished by:

  • Avoidance of various activities, including such innocuous pastimes as reading  (speculated that it may be seen by the highly conscientious as a leisure-time luxury), Swearing and Chewing on a pencil.
  • Wear a watch
  • Comb their hair
  • Polish their shoes

Agreeably Ironing Things Out by Peggy

2. People scoring high on agreeability said they spent more time:

  • Ironing,
  • Playing with children 
  • Washing the dishes presumably because their strong motivation to keep other people happy means they’d rather do the chores than have domestic acrimony.
  • More likely to sing in the shower or the car.

3. Neurotic people engaged more often in:

  • Activities and substances associated with helping reduce mental distress, such as taking more tranquilisers and anti-depressants.
  • Anti-social behaviours, such as losing their temper more often,
  • Making fun of others – perhaps because they struggle to keep their own emotions in check.

    4. Extraverts are more likely to ink themselves with tattoos

    • Wallow more in hot tubs
    • Spent more time planning parties
    • Drinking in bars
    • Discussing ways to make money
    • Talking on the phone while driving

    5. Open-mindedness went together with some obvious behaviors like:

    Open-minded by Peggy

  • Going to the opera
  • Smoking marijuana
  • Producing art
  • Swearing around others,
  • Lounging around the house with no clothes on. (To be precise, the highest scorers said they were about twice as likely to have sat around in the nude for more than 15 times in the past year, compared to the lowest scorers.)
  • Less likely to follow a sports team.

The serious side to this field of research is learning more about the harmful and unhealthy everyday behaviors linked to the different personality traits which then could contribute to better, more targeted health campaigns and interventions. 

*”The researchers, Benjamin Chapman at the University of Rochester and Lewis Goldberg at the Oregon Research Institute, profiled nearly 800 people in Oregon, USA, most of whom were white, and their average age was 51. The personality test asked participants to rate how accurately 100 different trait adjectives described their personalities, including words such as bashful, kind, neat, relaxed, moody, bright and artistic. The researchers then compared these personality test scores with the same participants’ answers, recorded four years later, to how often they had performed 400 different activities over the last year, from reading a book to singing in the shower.”

Here’s the entire article: Everyday Habits that Reveal our Personalities 

This post was originally published on MaxYourMind (peggy arndt.com). Click here to see other posts like it. 

How to Sleep Better: 6 cool cat tips & 4 human techniques

Did you know sleep isn’t for your body?  Sleep is for your brain.  When completely deprived of sleep, for only a few days, research shows that at best our immune system is depressed, we have trouble concentrating or processing information and at worst become paranoid and schizophrenic.

sleep-small

Maui, my cat, was a superb sleeper. No matter where I went in the house I found him stretched out. Whatever magically found its way to the floor (I certainly never put it there) I’d find him asleep on it – pillows, magazines, empty boxes, dirty clothes . . . new clothes. A particular comfy spot was in the middle of a pathway at the top or bottom of the stairs.

As far as I could tell Maui was never sleep deprived, paranoid or schizophrenic.

sleepfoot

Superbly Sleeping

Maui’s Tips for a Good Nights Sleep . . . for humans only

  1. Exercise every day but never just before bedtime. (Chasing things like children and dreams doesn’t count)
  2. Stay away from alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine (catnip is fine).
  3. Have a relaxing bedtime routine (stretch, turn in circles and always clean your paws and teeth).
  4. Keep the room temperature cool.  It helps us hibernate.
  5. Limit catnapping during the day to 10 minutes, 20 minutes max.  Any longer and your brain goes into deep sleep (and you’ll be a ornery cat when you wake up)
  6. Keep your bedtime consistent. 
  7. Don’t sleep all day and be up all night – it messes with your circadian rhythm.

Peggy’s Tips on Sleeping Well

  • Mind won’t shut off? Do a brain dump 30 minutes before bed. Write down your worries, things to do, random thoughts until your brain is empty. (takes about 3 days for this to work, but it works!)

  • Talk to your brain.  Assure your brain it can solve any problem or cope with difficulties much better when you are rested.  Your unconscious mind is always working and give you solutions while you sleep.

  • Get bright sunlight in the morning when you first wake up.  Go outside if you can.  Even if it is cloudy you get 3000 lumens vs 200 inside. (That’s a lot of lumens!)

  • Turn off cell phones, computers – anything that emits blue light.  It keeps the brain awake. 

Here’s a bonus tip to help you sleep well!!

Buy Guatemalan Worry Cats from the Greater Good Site  Charity Site

images

Handmade Guatemalan Worry Cats

 http://GreaterGood.com

Tell them your troubles and they’ll worry for you while you sleep!

Sleep even better knowing you’ve contributed to worthy causes.

This post first appeared on Max Your Mind. Click here to see more like it. 

Sneak Peak into my painted pears & favorite foods

After painting ice cream sundaes, cupcakes, doughnuts and pecan pie I did a “chaser” of fruit.  It wasn’t as fun as the desert but a lot easier than dripping ice cream or frosting. (jw)

Acrylic

Fruit Chaser

Appetizer

Main Course

How Many Symptoms of Happiness Do You Have?

I was embarrassed!

Patients who had just been released from the hospital’s psychiatric unit caught me red-handed.   I was leading a group therapy session about how important it is to focus on the positive – what they wanted instead of what they did not want. I went on and on explaining that when we think negatively the neo-cortex part of our brains triggers neuro-chemical emotions which correspond to those thoughts.

Not happy

I smoothly segwayed into explaining the many symptoms of depression. The patients had been listening, and stopped me by not so diplomatically pointing out I was focusing on the negative. Lesson learned!  MY lesson learned.

The group decided that instead of learning symptoms of depression, they would create a list of  symptoms of happiness.  Here’s their list:

Symptoms of Happiness

  1. Feeling good (or at least “decent”) most of the day, for two weeks or more.
  2. Eating an appropriate amount of food with good appetite.
  3. Sleeping well and awakening refreshed.
  4. Taking pleasure in most everyday activities and enjoying fun activities.
  5. Having a good energy level most of the day, every day, for two weeks or more.
  6. Having thoughts of fun or good times to come.
  7. Being able to concentrate on the activity on hand.
  8. Thinking that one’s life matters.
  9. Able to exercise three times a week for half an hour, or more.
  10. Socialize in person or on the phone with 5 to 7 people each week. (FaceTime and zoom count too)
  11. Laugh or at least smile every day.

    tailupsmall

    Happy is as Happy Thinks

Tell us what your happiness “symptoms” are.

PA

Are you one of the 30% who is sensitive to negative ions?

Am I lucky, or what!  Not only do I live in a house with running water, I live close to the  ocean (Pacific to be exact).  There’s evidence that some people are especially sensitive to the effects of water and even feel their mood lifted by fresh, humid air.

Roughly one-third of the population seems to be particularly sensitive to negative-ion depletion . . .  can lead to feeling “down” at best and depressed at worst.

I am one of the 30%.  Even a humid breeze lifts my spirits.  I remember getting off a plane in Hawaii, breathing in the fresh, humid breeze and instantly feeling my mood elevate.  Perhaps it’s not only the incredible beauty of islands that attracts but the humidity that lifts the spirits?

“Columbia University studies of people with winter and chronic depression show that negative ion generators relieve depression as much as antidepressants.”

scan-11

The atmosphere we breathe, normally is full of positive and negative ions. However, air conditioning, lack of ventilation, and long dry spells remove negative ions from the air.  The proportion of negative ions is highest around moving water – storms, oceans, rivers, waterfalls.  No wonder I feel so energized at the beach.

The best ratios of negative to positive ions are associated with waterfalls and the time before, during, and after storms. The worst are found in windowless rooms and closed, moving vehicles. Air purifiers typically work by emitting negative ions, which purify room air by attaching to impurities and sinking them.

Marian Diamond, professor of neuroanatomy, University of California, Berkeley, found that levels of negative ions are inversely related to levels of serotonin in the brain. Negative ions suppress serotonin levels in much the same way that natural sunlight suppresses melatonin.

Deplete the air of negative ions and you experience an increase in serotonin and its attendant drowsiness and relaxation—not what you want when mental agility is demanded.

Feeling a bit down right now?  Go take a shower . . . or move to Hawaii . . .

(PeggyA)

Source: Robert E. Thayer,  Biopsychology of Mood and Arousal

Read Falling Water Raising  Spirits for more ion information.

This post was originally on Max Your Mind.  For more from Max Your Mind, click here.

The game that can give you 10 extra years of life

WATCH THIS VIDEO!

and add 7.5 minutes to your life today

https://embed.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life</div></div>”><div style=”max-width:854px”><div style=”position:relative;height:0;padding-bottom:56.25%”>https://embed.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life</div></div>

 watch video here

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately trying to explain My Baha’i spiritual belief that life here on earth IS about learning and growing from difficulties and adversity.  Pleasure, happiness breed stagnation since we want to hold onto the status quo.  Pain, suffering, fear lead to spiritual, emotional AND even scientific growth.

This video is not just how to find a more satisfying life BUT the story of how Jane McGonigal’s physical and emotional pain led to a fascinating approach to health and healing.   Post Traumatic GROWTH!  Love it!

“When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better. She dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter.”

Happy gaming by Peggy

“A traumatic event doesn’t doom us to suffer indefinitely. Instead, we can use it as a springboard to unleash our best qualities and lead happier lives”, Jane McGonigal

P.S. Her twin sister is psychologist Kelly McGonigal who wrote “The Upside of Stress” and “The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works and What You Can Do to Get More of It”

Neuroscience Gives me a Pass for “laziness”

My earliest memory was my mother waking me up. It was dark outside and chilly inside.  I don’t remember how many times she came into my room to get me out of bed.  I do remember pulling the covers over my head and refusing to get up in the dark and cold to get ready for pre-school . . .  

Mom was the first to give up our morning battle and I started kindergarten with “learning deficits”. Decades later I continue to not want to greet the new day until it is DAYtime. Morning and me ain’t buddies.

Furthermore, people, like Peggy, who bound out of bed alert and cheerful are jarring at best and obnoxious at worst.  

I take umbrage at being labeled “lazy” by you early-morning-worshipers who think those of us who understand that moving any extremity in increments larger than a few inches is not natural before 10 am. 

NOW!  FINALLY I’m vindicated!!!  Read this excerpt!  (jw)

“As anyone who struggles to get out of bed in the morning knows, fighting laziness is a losing battle. From beneath the covers, the world outside seems colder; the commute to work seems longer; the number of e-mails to answer unbearably high. Authority figures may chalk our lethargy to lack of self-discipline, but . . . 

. . . new research suggests that we’re just being our true selves: Choosing the path of least resistance, scientists argue, is hard-wired into our brains.” (What a relief.  I thought my wiring was simply “loose”)

“When we make decisions to act (or not), the brain thinks like an economist and runs a cost-benefit analysis. If the “cost to act,” as the researchers call it, is too high, it can bias our decision-making process, making us less likely to do things.  Applied cleverly, their findings can help us do things that we should be doing — and those that we should be avoiding. For example, going to the gym in the morning could seem more effortless if you sleep in your sweats, just as stashing your booze on a hard-to-reach shelf might make drinking it seem like more effort than its worth. There’s no guarantee that these hacks will work, but . . . “

“. . . if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that we’ll always take the easy route when it’s available — and becoming less lazy may simply come down to avoiding that option altogether.”

If you don’t believe me read the article: Neuroscientists Just Gave Lazy Humans a Free Pass

Originally posted on Max Your Mind. To see more from Max Your Mind, click here.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”*

I’m “prone” to procrastination.  I’m not talking about things that are tedious, difficult, unappealing or boring.  I’m talking about things that interest me.  

These 3 things often feed my hesitancy to start or finish a project:

  • Wanting to do something “perfectly” (or at least competently)
  • Waiting for the “perfect time” before starting.
  • Thinking that everyone else does it perfectly so I should do on first try.

Collage by judy

From now on “Do it Badly” is my motto to give me the courage to try new things, stop me from focusing on the outcome and have more fun.

“Do it Badly” today and . . .  improve as I go.

(jw)

Let us know if this works for you.

*writer and poet GK Chesterton

Mind over Matter – Maui the Miracle Cat & Cassidy the Miracle Kitten

Maui, my cat was the inspiration for MAXyourMIND blog where we focus on neuroscience research for all forms of wellness – mind, body and soul.  Maui’s healing journey taught me that with time and persistence retraining the brain is possible.  

Watching Maui struggle to walk and his recovery set the stage for my interest in the neuroplasticity of the human brain and how our our thoughts and behavior actually change the structure and neuro-connectivity in the brain.  When I was a practicing psychotherapist and working with in-patients in a hospital what I learned about neuro-science I taught my clients.

Luckily animals don’t have the ego that gets us humans in trouble. Animals with “disabilities” prove time and time again that living life, rather than bemoaning what they lack, is yet another important lesson.

Take a look at Cassidy, The Miracle Kitten!

See how Cassidy, the two-legged #MiracleKitten is doing 7 months after his rescue.

Be inspired!

Click here and read about Maui’s Healing Tale

Peggy

Just Say’n . . .

The early bird

“gets” the worm.

(LOVE_no_need_to_explain_poster available on Zazzle, click here)

Check out other Curious Critters and  inspirational sayings on Max Your Mind every Pausitively TUESDAY

A WARNING for You and HOPE for Me

I’ve written so many times about my Fibromyalgia (ME)/Chronic Fatigue symptoms that they bore even me. However . . .  COVID-19 symptoms and Fibro/Chronic Fatigue symptoms have an eerily similar overlap.  Some people who have had COVID-19 are experiencing a slow, protracted recovery with chronic, unremitting exhaustion, body aches,  mental fog, strange dermatological sensations or rashes, gastrointestinal issues,  irregular heartbeats, depression . .  

“COVID-19 may produce a lot of ME/CFS-like cases. Will we be able to use them to understand ME/CFS?
A lot of infections can trigger chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) but in some ways SARS-CoV-2 is different in ways that reminds one of ME/CFS.  For one, it’s causing weird symptoms (loss of smell and taste, buzzing, electric, vibrating sensations, red/purple faces, purple toes, pink eye, digestive issues, nausea, dizziness, cognitive issues) that aren’t usually associated with a virus.”
“The director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Hospital attributed the weird fizzing-type sensations to the immune system acting up:

Immune Responses
“Our immune cells get activated so a lot of chemicals get released throughout our body and that can present or feel like there’s some fizzing. When our immune response is acting up, people can feel different sensations… I have heard of similar experiences in the past with other illnesses”.’

My own immune system is in chronic overdrive with chronically elevated. cytokine levels.   When I first read about the COVID-19 cytokine flooding that causes organ failure with viral infections I immediately went into isolation – weeks before anyone even suggested isolation. 

THE WARNING:

“It leaves something inside you – and you never go back the way you were before.”  Everyone reading this should be worried not just of catching/surviving this viral pandemic but what might happen to their life even if they catch it and survive. Because one of the known triggers for ME/CFS is a viral illness. A huge population of ME/CFS patients got the virus Mono and never fully recovered, instead they wound up with ME/CFS.”

Charcoal on paper by judy

“Paul Garner, an infectious disease professor, and Director of the Centre for Evidence Synthesis in Global Health, and Co-ordinating Editor of the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group, knows infections on both a personal and professional level . During his tropical infectious disease research, he came down with malaria and dengue fever, but nothing he’s encountered has compared to his bout with COVID-19.
In the British Medical Journal Garner, called post COVID-19 a: “a roller coaster of ill health, extreme emotions and utter exhaustion.”
Garner doesn’t appear to be describing post-COVID-19 illness so much as he’s describing a descent into ME/CFS. All the hallmarks are there – the post-exertional “malaise”, the delayed and mind-boggling symptom flares after little exertion, the inability to understand his limits, Garner talked about the “apparition”, a semblance of improved health that kept getting smashed as he innocently overreached.
“People who have a more protracted illness need help to understand and cope with the constantly shifting, bizarre symptoms and their unpredictable course.”

“Some of the longest-suffering Italians are finding themselves in physical and financial uncertainty, unable to shake sickness and fatigue and get back to work.”
“We have seen many cases in which people take a long, long time to recover. It’s not the sickness that lasts for 60 days, it is the convalescence. It’s a very long convalescence.” Alessandro Venturi, director of the San Matteo hospital, Pavia, Italy.”

“Another doctor noted that after all the different, initial symptoms were gone, it was the fatigue that remained. That rang bells. Early studies of the ME/CFS outbreaks came to the same conclusion: the early symptoms were often different but the fatiguing state that ultimately remained was quite consistent.”

 MY HOPE

“Because we generally, in the past, haven’t taken viruses seriously, we simply tell patients to ‘go home and rest up’. The significant fraction (which might be as high as 1-10%) of patients who do not recover normally after infection have often been marginalized and forgotten.”
This time there may simply be too many unrecovered patients for the NIH and other medical funders to ignore. 
“An unexpected element is a growing number of reports that even people with mild Covid-19 illness, who didn’t go to hospital, are experiencing long-lasting symptoms. Some people infected in February or March are still being ambushed by extreme fatigue, headaches, sudden breathlessness and problems concentrating or doing even light exercise.”
Many will probably recover, but if COVID-19 patients go the way of past Ross River virus, Coxsackie B, Giardia and SARS patients and others, a subset will remain quite ill.”

So, you ask, What’s HOPEFUL about THIS?


The Open Medicine Foundation Launches International ME/CFS COVID-19 Study
Research into Fibro (ME)/Chronic Fatigue has had few funds for  research even though there are estimated tens of millions of people in the world with that diagnosis.  
But now the entire world is focused on COVID-19. More research in a shorter period of time has been put to work on COVID-19 than ever before. With hundreds of thousands of people potentially coming down with post-infectious illnesses, there’s an opportunity to include fibro/chronic fatigue into the biggest, single medical research effort ever.”

The Open Medicine Foundation (OMF) will produce an international effort to understand how COVID-19 turns into ME/CFS. The OMF’s four-site COVID-19 study (Stanford, Harvard, Canada, Sweden) will collect body fluids, do continuous health monitoring using wearables, and collect symptom data over two years. Its genomic, metabolic, and proteomic analysis will attempt at the molecular roots of ME/CFS as it occurs.

“With the NIH otherwise occupied, Open Medicine Foundation’s COVID-19 research effort is our best chance at helping both people with ME/CFS and COVID-19 patients who are having trouble recovering. In fact, it’s the only effort going right now that seeks to directly understand and help the possibly many people, who, after surviving COVID-19, find their lives unalterably changed.”

Your Warning and My Hope:

Stay Vigiliant.  Be Safe.  Wear a Mask.  Social DIstance.  Stay Isolated if possible.  

Don’t think because you are healthy now there can not be long term consequences . . . and I’m speaking from experience.

judy

 

Click here For a list of other post COVID-19 efforts/studies that are underway and the full article

There’s an Elephant in the Room – Self Isolation, Series ON!

If indeed you despair

Isolation needn’t be a bear

Find your own elephant  

 whose advice waxes eloquent

(not to mention relevant)

And if your friends are petulant

 please share!

We’re all about self-care

Click on each image to read Elph’s guidance

First Week of Self Isolation

Second Week of Self Isolation

Third Week of Self Isolation

 

 

 

The Elephant in the Room – Self Isolation, Knitting Us All Together

The Elephant Says:

Don’t just sit and stare

Let’s knit and prepare

Something warm to wear

Winter is near

and we may still be here . . . 

Get Inspired by Peggy

Week #1 The Elephant in the Room

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Get Involved by Peggy

How to spend Week #2, The Elephant in the Room

Click here for: So, Sew Sew Sew

Click here for: Do it Up

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Get Creative by Peggy

Click here to  Week #3

Click here for: Posing

 Click here for: Going out’a your mind purposely

Click here for : Dye Job

The Elephant in the Room – Going out’a your mind purposely

The Elephant says:

 When you’re going crazy

 breath deep and meditate

a pillow for your bum

and sit up very straight

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Elephant in the Room: It’s to dye for

Elephant says:

It’s a new day

time for a new do

a little color, a bit of spray

so the real you shines through

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Why smart people believe coronavirus myths

(We are posting this article in its entirety, including pictures, because of it’s importance to the health and safety of everyone.)

By David Robson
6th April 2020

“From students to politicians, many smart people have fallen for dangerous lies spread about the new coronavirus. Why? And how can you protect yourself from misinformation?

It is a sad truth that any health crisis will spawn its own pandemic of misinformation.

In the 80s, 90s, and 2000s we saw the spread of dangerous lies about Aids – fromthe belief that the HIV virus was created by a government laboratory to the idea that the HIV tests were unreliable, and even the spectacularly unfounded theory that it could be treated with goat’s milk. These claims increased risky behaviour and exacerbated the crisis.

Now, we are seeing a fresh inundation of fake news – this time around the coronavirus pandemic. From Facebook to WhatsApp, frequently shared misinformation include everything from what caused the outbreak to how you can prevent becoming ill.

In past decades, dangerous lies spread about Aids which exacerbated the crisis (Credit: Getty Images)

We’ve debunked several claims here on BBC Future, including misinformation around how sunshine, warm weather and drinking water can affect the coronavirus. The BBC’s Reality Check team is also checking popular coronavirus claims, and the World Health Organization is keeping a myth-busting pageregularly updated too.

At worst, the ideas themselves are harmful – a recent report from one province in Iran found that more people had died from drinking industrial-strength alcohol, based on a false claim that it could protect you from Covid-19, than from the virus itself. But even seemingly innocuous ideas could lure you and others into a false sense of security, discouraging you from adhering to government guidelines, and eroding trust in health officials and organisations.

There’s evidence these ideas are sticking. One poll by YouGov and the Economist in March 2020 found 13% of Americans believed the Covid-19 crisis was a hoax,for example, while a whopping 49% believed the epidemic might be man-made. And while you might hope that greater brainpower or education would help us to tell fact from fiction, it is easy to find examples of many educated people falling for this false information.

Just consider the writer Kelly Brogan, a prominent Covid-19 conspiracy theorist; she has a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and studied psychiatry at Cornell University. Yet she has shunned clear evidence of the virus’s danger in countries like China and Italy. She even went as far as to question the basic tenets of germ theory itself while endorsing pseudoscientific ideas.

Kelly Brogan received a medical degree from Cornell University, yet has questioned germ theory and the existence of Covid-19 (Credit: Getty Images)

Even some world leaders – who you would hope to have greater discernment when it comes to unfounded rumours – have been guilty of spreading inaccurate information about the risk of the outbreak and promoting unproven remedies that may do more harm than good, leading Twitter and Facebook to take the unprecedented step of removing their posts.  

Fortunately, psychologists are already studying this phenomenon. And what they find might suggest new ways to protect ourselves from lies and help stem the spread of this misinformation and foolish behaviour.

Information overload

Part of the problem arises from the nature of the messages themselves.

We are bombarded with information all day, every day, and we therefore often rely on our intuition to decide whether something is accurate. As BBC Future has described in the past, purveyors of fake news can make their message feel “truthy” through a few simple tricks, which discourages us from applying our critical thinking skills – such as checking the veracity of its source. As the authors of one paper put it: “When thoughts flow smoothly, people nod along.”

Eryn Newman at Australian National University, for instance, has shown that the simple presence of an image alongside a statement increases our trust in its accuracy – even if it is only tangentially related to the claim. A generic image of a virus accompanying some claim about a new treatment, say, may offer no proof of the statement itself, but it helps us visualise the general scenario. We take that “processing fluency” as a sign that the claim is true.

The mere presence of an image alongside a statement increases our trust in its accuracy (Credit: Getty Images)

For similar reasons, misinformation will include descriptive language or vivid personal stories. It will also feature just enough familiar facts or figures – such as mentioning the name of a recognised medical body – to make the lie within feel convincing, allowing it to tether itself to our previous knowledge.

The more often we see something in our news feed, the more likely we are to think that it’s true – even if we were originally sceptical

Even the simple repetition of a statement – whether the same text, or over multiple messages – can increase the “truthiness” by increasing feelings of familiarity, which we mistake for factual accuracy. So, the more often we see something in our news feed, the more likely we are to think that it’s true – even if we were originally sceptical.

Sharing before thinking

These tricks have long been known by propagandists and peddlers of misinformation, but today’s social media may exaggerate our gullible tendencies. Recent evidence shows that many people reflexively share content without even thinking about its accuracy.

In one study, only about 25% of participants said the fake news was true– but 35% said they would share the headline

Gordon Pennycook, a leading researcher into the psychology of misinformation at the University of Regina, Canada, asked participants to consider a mixture of true and false headlines about the coronavirus outbreak. When they were specifically asked to judge the accuracy of the statements, the participants said the fake news was true about 25% of time. When they were simply asked whether they wouldshare the headline, however, around 35% said they would pass on the fake news – 10% more.

“It suggests people were sharing material that they could have known was false, if they had thought about it more directly,” Pennycook says. (Like much of the cutting-edge research on Covid-19, this research has not yet been peer-reviewed, but a pre-print has been uploaded to the Psyarxiv website.)

Perhaps their brains were engaged in wondering whether a statement would get likes and retweets rather than considering its accuracy. “Social media doesn’t incentivise truth,” Pennycook says. “What it incentivises is engagement.”

Research suggests that some people share material they would know was false if they thought about it more directly (Credit: Getty Images)

Or perhaps they thought they could shift responsibility on to others to judge: many people have been sharing false information with a sort of disclaimer at the top, saying something like “I don’t know if this is true, but…”. They may think that if there’s any truth to the information, it could be helpful to friends and followers, and if it isn’t true, it’s harmless – so the impetus is to share it, not realising that sharing causes harm too.

Whether it’s promises of a homemade remedy or claims about some kind of dark government cover-up, the promise of eliciting a strong response in their followers distracts people from the obvious question.

This question should be, of course: is it true?

Override reactions

Classic psychological research shows that some people are naturally better at overriding their reflexive responses than others. This finding may help us understand why some people are more susceptible to fake news than others.

Researchers like Pennycook use a tool called the “cognitive reflection test” or CRT to measure this tendency. To understand how it works, consider the following question:

  • Emily’s father has three daughters. The first two are named April and May. What is the third daughter’s name?

Did you answer June? That’s the intuitive answer that many people give – but the correct answer is, of course, Emily.

To come to that solution, you need to pause and override that initial gut response. For this reason, CRT questions are not so much a test of raw intelligence, as a test of someone’s tendency to employ their intelligence by thinking things through in a deliberative, analytical fashion, rather than going with your initial intuitions. The people who don’t do this are often called “cognitive misers” by psychologists, since they may be in possession of substantial mental reserves, but they don’t “spend” them.

Cognitive miserliness renders us susceptible to many cognitive biases, and it also seems to change the way we consume information (and misinformation).

We consume headlines and posts differently depending on our amount of ‘cognitive miserliness’ (Credit: Getty Images)

When it came to the coronavirus statements, for instance, Pennycook found that people who scored badly on the CRT were less discerning in the statements that they believed and were willing to share.

Matthew Stanley, at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, has reported a similar pattern in people’s susceptibility to the coronavirus hoax theories. Remember that around 13% of US citizens believed this theory, which could potentially discourage hygiene and social distancing. “Thirteen percent seems like plenty to make this [virus] go around very quickly,” Stanley says.

Testing participants soon after the original YouGov/Economist poll was conducted, he found that people who scored worse on the CRT were significantly more susceptible to these flawed arguments.

These cognitive misers were also less likely to report having changed their behaviour to stop the disease from spreading – such as handwashing and social distancing.

Stop the spread

Knowing that many people – even the intelligent and educated – have these “miserly” tendencies to accept misinformation at face value might help us to stop the spread of misinformation.

Given the work on truthiness – the idea that we “nod along when thoughts flow smoothly” – organisations attempting to debunk a myth should avoid being overly complex.

To fight misinformation, it’s important to present the facts as simply as possible (Credit: Getty Images)

Instead, they should present the facts as simply as possible – preferably with aids like images and graphs that make the ideas easier to visualise. As Stanley puts it: “We need more communications and strategy work to target those folks who are not as willing to be reflective and deliberative.” It’s simply not good enough to present a sound argument and hope that it sticks.

If they can, these campaigns should avoid repeating the myths themselves. The repetition makes the idea feel more familiar, which could increase perceptions of truthiness. That’s not always possible, of course. But campaigns can at least try to make the true facts more prominent and more memorable than the myths, so they are more likely to stick in people’s minds. (It is for this reason that I’ve given as little information as possible about the hoax theories in this article.)

When it comes to our own online behaviour, we might try to disengage from the emotion of the content and think a bit more about its factual basis before passing it on. Is it based on hearsay or hard scientific evidence? Can you trace it back to the original source? How does it compare to the existing data? And is the author relying on the common logical fallacies to make their case?

One thing we can do is simply think about a post’s factual basis before we pass it on (Credit: Getty Images)

These are the questions that we should be asking – rather than whether or not the post is going to start amassing likes, or whether it “could” be helpful to others. And there is some evidence that we can all get better at this kind of thinking with practice.

Pennycook suggests that social media networks could nudge their users to be more discerning with relatively straightforward interventions. In his experiments, he found that asking participants to rate the factual accuracy of a single claim primed participants to start thinking more critically about other statements, so that they were more than twice as discerning about the information they shared.

In practice, it might be as simple as a social media platform providing the occasional automated reminder to think twice before sharing, though careful testing could help the companies to find the most reliable strategy, he says.

There is no panacea. Like our attempts to contain the virus itself, we are going to need a multi-pronged approach to fight the dissemination of dangerous and potentially life-threatening misinformation.

And as the crisis deepens, it will be everyone’s responsibility to stem that spread.”

_____________________________________________
David Robson is the author of The Intelligence Trap, which examines why smart people act foolishly and the ways we can all make wiser decisions. He is @d_a_robson on Twitter.

As an award-winning science site, BBC Future is committed to bringing you evidence-based analysis and myth-busting stories around the new coronavirus. You can read more of our Covid-19 coverage here.   https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200406-why-smart-people-believe-coronavirus-myths?xtor=ES-213-[BBC%20Features%20Newsletter]-2020April17-[Future%7c+Button]

The Elephant in the Room: Posing

Elephant Says:

Don’t be lame

Get off your bum

Stretch, don’t strain

calm your brain

Yoga-phant by Peggy

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Frankly Freddie – It’s her birthday!!!!!!!!!!

Dear all my Freddie Fans,
It’s Peggy’s birthday today


I won’t tell you her age
But she’s reached that stage
When considered a sage.
Tho no longer a pup
She still whoops it up
Please send her some “licks”
from your ruby red lips

Peggy by Peggy

Happy Birthday Peggy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From FreddieL, L, L, L, L, L, L, L

(air kisses)

The Elephant in the Room – Self Isolation: Veg About

The Elephant says:

Since it’s only us

Here’s our new plan

No need to cook

Eat out of the can.

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Do you have Zoom Fatigue?

On my fourth zoom meeting I kept my video off. It was strangely calming not to have others see where I was looking or looking at me.  

No matter how many times I’ve written about the level of fatigue I feel it still seems unbelievable, inconceivable that such a thing could exist.  But it’s real.  I have Post Exertional Malaise – Malaise being a fancy French word for what I experience as exhaustion.  It’s a symptom that some people experience with fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue.  Without going into the theories of what causes it – any energy expenditure – physical, mental, emotional, including intense focus – exhausts me, often for days.  

 Zoom meetings are now added to the list of what exhausts me.  Distractions, during in-person conversations which are relegated to background, swirl around in the foreground of my brain:  The small audio delay contributes to people talking over each other or weird silences, visual cues are distorted or magnified,  people fiddling with controls, some sitting too close, some too far from cameras, background noise . . . exhaust me but I thought too weird to admit to anyone.    judy

judy by Judy

Low and Behold when I read this article it was a hallelujah moment!

What’s ‘Zoom fatigue’? Here’s why video calls can be so exhausting
by Ryan W. Miller

“As social distancing remains in effect across the country during the coronavirus pandemic, people are moving from one video call to another. But there may be an unintended effect, mental health and communications experts warn: “Zoom fatigue,” or the feeling of tiredness, anxiousness or worry with yet another video call.”

Why are we all experiencing ‘Zoom fatigue’?
“From having to focus on 15 people at once in gallery view or worrying about how you appear as you speak, a number of things may cause someone to feel anxious or worried on a video call. Any of these factors require more focus and mental energy than a face-to-face meeting might”, said Vaile Wright, the American Psychological Association’s director of clinical research and quality.

“It’s this pressure to really be on and be responsive,” she said.

According to Jeremy Bailenson, the founding director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, the platforms naturally put us in a position that is unnatural. A combination of having prolonged eye contact and having someone’s enlarged face extremely close to you forces certain subconscious responses in humans.

“Our brains have evolved to have a very intense reaction when you have a close face to you,” he said.

During normal, in-person conversations, “eye contact moves in a very intricate dance, and we’re very good at it,” Bailenson said. When one person looks one way, another changes where they look. A small eyebrow raise from someone at one end of the room can trigger a glance between two people on the other. But typically, we don’t stare into our colleagues’ eyes, up close on a computer screen, for an hour at a time.

So much of human communication is through these nonverbal cues that can be either lost or distorted in a video conference.

“In a way, we’re closer but we’re still communicating through this weird filter, so it gets tiring to get to the real stuff through this filter,” Degges-White said.

For video calls with old friends or virtual family reunions, the forced structure can create different challenges.

“A lot of us are thinking I want social stuff to be fun and having to be locked in front of this computer … it’s just not how I want to be spending my time,” Bailenson said.

Degges-White described it creating a structure to conversation like email. One person speaks and everyone takes their turn and waits to reply.

“That’s not normally the way we do social interactions,” she said. “It’s not that easy give and take.” Side conversations are lost. Some people who are naturally reserved may never get a word in. Others may get distracted by people in their house.

The context of this happening during the coronavirus pandemic can’t be lost either, Wright said. We’re worried about loved ones but apart from them physically.

How do you combat the ‘Zoom fatigue’?

Degges-White suggests:

  • Set ground rules before a call. ‘Can we just go audio only?'”
  • Only the person speaking has their video on. And at least for one meeting a week with his team, he says they all keep video on the entire time to have that shared sense of being together.
  • If you’re uncomfortable with how you look on camera, it’s worth spending time adjusting your settings and trying different lighting in your house, 
  • If you notice one person not very responsive or always turning their video off, check in with them one-on-one.  Some people don’t like to speak up in large groups.

Hallelujah, I’m not as weird as I thought . . . 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/04/23/zoom-fatigue-video-calls-coronavirus-can-make-us-tired-anxious/3010478001/
USA TODAY

The Elephant in the Room – Self Isolation : Sooooo Sew Sew Sew

  The Elephants says:

As long as you’re sitting

Let’s make masks

Give back to others

Live up to the task

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The Elephant in the Room – Self Isolation: Do It Up

The Elephant says:

Hair’s turning grey

You’re no longer a pup

No need to be dowdy

Let’s gussy you up

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The Elephant in the Room – Self Isolation, Selfie Rumba

The Elephant says:

Take some selfies, send to friends

Show ’em you’re hip

Come on, let’s dance

Put on a dress

Get out of those pants

 

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Messy is ME – making a mess of my life on purpose

Declutter! Focus! Do one-thing-at-a-time! Plan! Schedule!

There are thousands of books and articles on how to be organized.  I’ve read them.  I understand them.  I don’t follow them.

I rarely keep a things-to-do list.  I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda person.  My  process is divergent, I am a piler not a filer, not logical and I used to think there was something wrong with me. (jw)

AND NOW I’m vindicated!  Read this excerpt*:

“Sometimes, we place too much faith in the idea that if something looks well-organized, then we’ve got our lives under control.”

“It’s all too easy to fall into this trap. Many of us feel embarrassed about our cluttered desks, for example, assuming that they are an externalization of our internal chaos. Yet emptying your desk may, ironically, clutter your mind more than ever. All those tasks—read that book, reply to that letter, pay that bill—still exist. But lacking physical reminders that you trust, you may be forced to rely on your subconscious to remind you of all these incomplete tasks. Your subconscious will do a pretty good job of that: it will remind you every few minutes. An empty desk can mean an anxious mind.”

Piler Cat by Peggy

“Nor are empty-deskers necessarily better organized in their work lives. In 2001, Steve Whittaker and Julia Hirschberg, then researchers at AT&T Labs, studied the behavior (pdf) of “filers”, who scrupulously file away their paperwork, and “pilers” who let it accumulate on their desk and any other convenient horizontal surface.”

“. . .  the researchers discovered that the “filers” accumulated bloated archives full of useless chaff. Whittaker has a term for this: “premature filing.” That’s what happens when we take a new document and promptly file it in a fit of tidy-mindedness before we really understand what it means, how it fits into our ongoing commitments, and whether we need to keep it at all. The result: duplicate folders, folders within folders, folders holding just a single document, and filing cabinets that serve as highly-structured trash cans.”

“Meanwhile, the “pilers” flourished. They were much more likely to throw paperwork away—after all, it was in plain sight on their desks—and when they did file something, they were more likely to understand it. Paradoxically, the messy workers had lean, practical and well-used archives. Their organizational system was messy, but it worked.”

“It’s possible to over-structure your life in other ways, too. As the psychologist Marc Wittman told Quartz in August, a partly or wholly unplanned holiday tends to feel longer and fuller than a holiday in which every decision has been made in advance. Critical decisions have to be made in the moment, which means you pay more attention to what’s happening and have richer memories after the fact. But to carry out Wittman’s advice, of course, means letting go and taking a risk. Switching off autopilot always carries an element of danger. That’s why it works.”

“One fascinating study conducted in the early 1980s examined the well-worn question of how structured one should make a calendar. Some people think that if you want to get something done, you should block out a time to do it on the calendar. Others think that the calendar should be reserved only for fixed appointments, and that everything else should be a movable feast”

“The study, run by the psychologists, Daniel Kirschenbaum, Laura Humphrey and Sheldon Malett explored this question, asked undergraduates to participate in a study-skills course. Some were advised to set out monthly goals and study activities; others were told to plan activities and goals in much more detail, day by day.”

 “The researchers, assuming daily plans would work better than months were wrong: “The daily plans were catastrophically demotivating, while the monthly plans worked very nicely. The effect was still in evidence a year later. The likely explanation is that the daily plans simply became derailed by unexpected events. A rigid structure is inherently fragile. Better for both your peace of mind and your productivity to improvise a little more often.

I believe our brains are hard-wired to be logical or creatively divergent.  What works for one person, one situation, will not work for another.  If I can learn to stop berating myself when piles and projects surround me you can stop berating yourself for being overly organized.

(jw)

*Source:  Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford, Financial Times columnist.

Originally posted on Max Your Mind. Click here to see more from Max Your Mind

The Elephant in the Room – Self Isolation: Liven Up Your Environment

The Elephant says:

This room’s a bore

Let’s change up things

Bring in some pizzazzz

we’ll give it some zing

Doing Introversion in the time of Isolation – “I vant to be alone”

Many people think I’m extroverted, simply because I am genuinely interested in people and am comfortable in social situations.  However, self-isolation is a relief because I’m an introvert – I recharge my “batteries” in private. 

Simplistically, extroverts recharge in the company of others. 
if you’re someone, like my husband, who is an extrovert and thrives on social connection, isolation is particularly difficult. He has spent an inordinate amount of time on phone calls – needing to hear other people’s voices – and calls out greetings to neighbors from across the street. 

Note:  My experiences and suggestions are EXAGGERATED because of my fibromyalgia/ME, Chronic Fatigue I’m physically depleted to begin with and overly sensitive to social interactions of the “normal kind” which drain me to the point of exhaustion. Many  people who are introverted and/or have life-altering medical conditions cope a bit differently than those who are extroverted and better thrive on personal and community connections. 

Me by judy

My personal experience in isolation:

Zoom meetings can be overwhelming:  Too many people, too much to track, people talking over each other or too long silences.  During the last Zoom meeting I stopped my video so no one could see me.  It helped me not be concerned how I was visually responding, even if it might have bugged others.  I excused myself and logged off before the meeting was over when I noticed my attention & physical energy was flagging.

Phone conversation have long been exhausting to me and I’m relieved when the phone doesn’t ring.  E-mail is my chosen means of communication because there is a one-way conversation – no need to think on my feet, and can time my responses for when I have energy and focus.

Exercise is a solitary experience. I walk Freddie, our dog, late at night, when no one is out and there’s no demand to interact with neighbors.  Freddie likes being able to sniff at his leisure and not have to patiently wait for human conversations to stop to resume his exploration.

Luckily, we introverts are no longer labeled as anti-social.  Research by social scientists have found that while some people can’t get enough of spending time with large social groups, others find the experience more of a mixed bag: usually gratifying, but ultimately draining. 

If you have a friend or relative who’s introverted: 

  • When you reach out keep your conversations short.
  • Don’t pressure people to stay longer in a virtual hangout than they want to be there. 
  • Ask what their preferred means of communication are.
  • Be patient if your contact doesn’t respond back quickly.
  • If a friend starts wrapping it up, just wish them well. (It will make them more likely to want to reach out again.)
    And MOST OF ALL Don’t take any of this personally 


We’re all in this together, even if us introverts want to be alone much of the time!

My caveat:  There are people, all over the world,  who would give anything to be able to be with the people they love – people hospitalized, others unable to hold new born grandchildren, isolated from parents, fearful of infecting others. Loneliness is also an epidemic.  We all want to make sure our friends and loved ones are physically or emotionally OK.   Embracing community in a times of hardship is one of the best and most universal qualities of humanity. Some introverts are my best friends.  I am, grateful for them and my introverted life.  

I’d like to know how you cope socially in these unsettling times.

judy

If this isn’t a reason to stay out of public spaces, we don’t know what is

TERRIFYING SIMULATION SHOWS HOW VIRUSES SPREAD WHEN YOU COUGH
A new 3D-rendered simulation by Finnish researchers shows how aerosol particles coughed out by a person in an indoor environment can spread terrifyingly far.

BY VICTOR TANGERMANN (posted in it’s entirety)

The research aims to determine how the coronavirus can spread through the air, and found that “aerosol particles carrying the virus can remain in the air longer than was originally thought, so it is important to avoid busy public indoor spaces,” according to a statement.

The 3D environment is trying to provide an analogue for the average grocery store with run-of-the-mill ventilation.

“In the 3D model, a person coughs in a corridor bounded by shelves under representative indoor ventilation air flow conditions,” reads the video. “As a result of coughing, an aerosol cloud travels in the air to the corridor. It takes up several minutes for the cloud to spread and disperse.”

“Someone infected by the coronavirus, can cough and walk away, but then leave behind extremely small aerosol particles carrying the coronavirus,” explained Aalto University assistant professor Ville Vuorinen in the statement. “These particles could then end up in the respiratory tract of others in the vicinity.”

Aerosol particles from a dry cough — a common symptom of COVID-19 — are so small (less than 15 micrometers) that they float through the air rather than sinking to the floor. Air currents can help them spread. According to the researchers, previous studies have shown that influenza A viruses can be found in even smaller particles — less than five micrometers.

The model underlines that avoiding crowded places or “nodal points” could be an effective way to curb the spread of the virus.

Masks have also proven to be an extremely effective way to curb the spread through aerosol particles and droplets — that is, if a recent study published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature is to be believed.

Trying LSD

LSD was rampant in the 1960’swhen I attended The University of California at Berkeley.  I was soooooo naive, having lived in Phoenix Arizona, all my life.  The first time I heard of LSD was at a party where I was told to be careful drinking the punch because it was spiked with “acid”.  I turned to my friend and questioned:  Hydrochloric?

I admit to “doing other substances“but was too afraid of LSD having seen people take “bad trips”.  But NOW I’m willing to give LSD a try, the Steve Chandler*way:

Laughing, Singing & Dancing

Since I can’t carry a tune and have 3 left feet LAUGHTER will be easy.

(jw)

*Steve Chandler, author of – “Reinventing Yourself” and “Fearless.”

Important things to know about COPING so you aren’t more anxious

During our 30+ years as psychotherapists we never had to address the fear and uncertainty the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic has created.  The disruption to individual lives and society is surreal.

There are coping truths that we know are real:

  1. Everyone copes with horrible situations differently.  Some use humor (even gallows humor), some become immobilized or depressed, for others anxiety explodes, some grasp at things that are seemingly frivolous but under their control (like hoarding toilet paper).  I watch the news obsessively since I find comfort in information.
  2. We want our family & friends to cope in the same way we cope.  “Why aren’t you acting more worried?”, “Don’t be so obsessive”.  “Do something productive.”  “Calm down and slow down.” There’s comfort in thinking we are connected and not alone in our own way of seeing and responding to threats, real or perceived.  When other people don’t cope the way we cope it makes us nervous, as if something is wrong with them.
  3. The higher the stress the more the brain reverts to automatic, old, tried and true patterns and coping mechanisms that are basic to who we are and how we are in the world.  Our mind-body stress response says this is NOT time to change our normal behaviors and natural tendencies because doing something new creates more stress.
  4. It’s normal to feel productive anxiety right now, and while we need to allow ourselves to feel these feelings.  Some anxiety is productive—it’s what motivates us to wash our hands often and distance ourselves from others when there’s an important reason to do so. If we weren’t reasonably worried, no one would be taking these measure to help reduce the viral spread.
  5. Unproductive anxiety— unchecked rumination—makes our mind spin in frightening directions. Our anxiety is actually trying to keep us safe by focusing on potential threats preparing us for fight, flight or freeze. However, anxiety when constant elevates our stress response chronically which dampens the immune response which is the last thing we want during a pandemic. 

    Click here for your FREE Incredibly Creative Stress Kit PDF

In recent weeks we have been doing daily posts on coping with stress, anxiety and social distancing .

Click here for “Ways to Cope in Uncertain Times 

Click here for “Control your Stress &amp; Anxiety: 6 Ways to Meditate for People Who Can’t “Meditate”

Click here for: “Control Your Stress and Anxiety: Comfort Eating Actually Comforts”.

Click here for : “ME, a Stress Case? . . . This Anxiety Reduction Technique is for YOU too “

Click here for:”Decrease your Anxiety &amp; Stress Increasing Immunity”

Click here for: “How to Reduce Fear and Anxiety in 30 Seconds”

Click here for: “How to Empty your Brain to Reduce Stress &amp; Control Anxiety – Write On!”

Click here for: “How to activate your own Placebo to reduce Stress &amp; Anxiety”

Corona-Crisis breeds fear, panic . . .and INNOVATION

You can now calculate just how long your stash of toilet paper will last you during a quarantine.

As households continue to stock up on toilet paper — emptying shelves across the country — a new website is attempting to answer the question: How much TP do we really need?

Howmuchtoiletpaper.com is a website created by student software developer Ben Sassoon and artist Sam Harris, both based in London, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The tool calculates just how long your stash of TP will last you during a quarantine.”
“The idea came to them naturally, while talking about how much toilet paper they used, and how that would change during the pandemic.”

Users enter how many rolls of toilet paper they have and how many times they visit the loo.

“If you scroll to the “Advanced Options” section, you can really get detailed, customizing the average number of wipes per trip, the number of sheets per wipe, sheets on the roll, and people in the house.”

“More than 2 million people have used the tool, the website says, and the average user has a whopping 500% more toilet paper than they need for quarantine.”

“The whole point of the tool is to reduce the toilet paper shortage around the world, which has begun as folks panic-buy rolls out of fear of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”

“Not everyone is able to get to a store and stock up on toilet roll. Don’t be selfish.”  

the Howmuchtoiletpaper.com website says bluntly.

Thanks to Sharon M. for the cartoon!

How to Recognize & Honor Your Losses in this Time of Uncertainty

If you are irritable, less motivated, sad, or even angry, depressed, you are not alone.  With loss there is a grief reaction.  Not only are we dealing with loss of life, loss of mobility, choice, sense of safety, during this current time our emotional reactions are compounded by anxiety & fear. 

It’s easy not to recognize less obvious, existential and secondary losses but important to honor our own losses even if those losses seem small compared to others.  Left unrecognized grief can negatively impact our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.


Recognize your losses

We can’t deal with, or heal, what we aren’t aware of

 Consider how you feel when you think of these losses:

  • Social connections – One of the most impactful loss is the separation from friends and family. 
  • Separation from colleagues – Our work environment can be like a second family. 
  • Habits and habitat – The world outside our homes no longer safe and we can’t engage in our usual routines and rituals.  No matter how mundane – from getting coffee at the local café, driving to work, or picking up kids from school – routines help define your sense of self in the world. 
  • Assumptions and securitythe spread of the virus has upended assumption we once counted on. And so we’re losing our sense of safety in the world and our assumptions about ourselves,
  • Trust in our systemsWhen government leaders, agencies, medical systems, religious bodies, the stock market and corporations fail or are unable to meet expectations, we can feel betrayed and emotionally unmoored. 
  • Sympathetic loss for othersEven if you’re not directly affected by a specific loss, you may feel other’s, grief including: displaced workers, health care workers, the homeless, people barred from visiting relatives in nursing homes, hospitals, or those who have already lost friends and family and to those who will.

4 ways to “honor” your grief

Grief is not a problem to be solved

  • Communicate & Share your stories
    If you “bottle up” emotion your brain neurochemistry can negatively impact you physically and emotionally.
    Communicate with your friends or family about your experience.
    Pick up the phone, send an e-mail.  Ask to share your feelings and give permission/direction to NOT give or receive  advice nor “fix” anything. 
    Gather a group of friends to share losses together on social media. 
  • Write – Writing, whether it’s a journal or just a piece of paper, is another way to express, identify and acknowledge loss and grief.
  • Create – Make a sculpture, draw a picture or create a ceremonial object that symbolizes your feelings. This is not about making art but about expressing yourself.
  • Ritual – Do breathing exercises to symbolically blow away sadness, fear or anger.  Find a rock to throw away. Write feelings on paper and rip it up.
  • Meditate
    Regular meditation gives you time to slow down your thinking.  Take several deep, breaths throughout the day to lower stress.
  • Be open to joy & gratitude – Look for it in small places – the chirping of a bird, a funny video.

Remind yourself that grief is a normal reaction to loss

Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/26/820304899/coronavirus-has-upended-our-world-its-ok-to-grieve

Frankly Freddie – Good things about Social Distancing

Dear Freddie Fans,
My human is a pro at self-quarantine.  She’s been using paper towels to open doors, pushing elevator buttons with her knuckles and washing her hands obsessively for years.  I encourage her to do all this because when she gets sick all her fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue symptoms flare up for weeks and she won’t go on walks.
I cheer her up by reminding her all the benefits of isolating herself:
  • I stay home with her so she’s never lonely.
  • She can wear the same clothes every day.
  • She can take a shower once a week or not at all.
  • She saves money on laundry detergent, soap, shampoo
  • Her excuse for doing the cleaning, cooking TOMORROW is plausible.
  • Naps are a good thing.
  • She saves money on gasoline and car washes.
  • Alarm clocks never need to be used
  • She has an excuse for whatever she needs an excuse for . . . 
I’ve been posting a daily series on coping with self-isolation, social distancing on all my blogs.  In case you’ve missed any of my sage observation and advice click on these links.  
And tell your friends to read FRANKLY FREDDIE!
and here are my blogs:
CURIOUStotheMAX – Stuff that makes us love, learn and laugh.
Art, prose, poetry, personal reflection, inspiration, animals, FREEBIES and . . . .FREDDIE the dog.
Neuroscience and research – tips & techniques for mind-body health and wellness,  shared with a wink and a smile and . . .FREDDIE
The HeARTofSpirituality – Exploring spirituality through art, prayers, self reflection & inspiration

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Frankly Freddie: Self-Isolated Dog Owners are Healthier Hoofers

Did you know that a record number of animals are being adopted?  Yup, humans who are self-isolating are finally figuring out what it’s like for all us animals who are isolated in shelters.

I prefer to think the adoptions are about animals rather than humans feeling lonely.  

There are lots of reasons to adopt an animal.

1. In a study published in the journal BMC Public Health, dog owners on average walked 22 minutes more per day compared to people who didn’t own a dog.

The study found that the dog owners walked briskly and got their heart rates up. At times, their pace was about 3 miles per hour, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers moderate intensity.

I take my human out for a walk as often as I can.  She’s a bit delusional . . .  she thinks she’s walking me. So I constantly have to remind her that she needs to quit patting herself on the back and pat me.

We canines keep you humans healthy.  It’s a big job.

2. Other studies have shown that moderate-intensity walking is just as effective as running in lowering the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and other conditions. And the more people walk, the more the health benefits increase, according to the American Heart Association.

(“The national physical activity guidelines call for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise.”)

3.  If you look at studies on pet ownership, people who own pets seem to live longer than those who don’t own them. 

Get a life.  Adopt a dog . . . like me

Frankly,

Freddie Parker Westerfield, CHT

Certified Human Trainer

If you don’t believe me read this: Dog Owners Walk 22 minutes more per day 

If you want a kitty or bunny you can teach them to walk!  

If you don’t believe me Google it!

Mary Poppins just flipped her umbrella

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins with some Coronavirus inspired lyrics! The tune and all rights of course belong to Disney and all of the creators. This was created as parody, and is intended to bring some levity to the Coronavirus epidemic and to those who are spending long periods at home. I hope this video brings you a laugh in the midst of some hard times.”

Thank you Sharon M. for sharing this video!

How to activate your own Placebo to reduce Stress & Anxiety

In uncertain times we all need help to calm our fears so that our bodies are not flooded with stress hormones & neurochemicals.  

A placebo is NOT imaginary but creates biological changes in the brain that actually ease our symptoms and are very similar to the biological changes when we take drugs.

There are many DOCUMENTED placebo effects, depending on what we think a treatment is going to do for us. Examples:

  • Fake painkillerscause the release of natural painkillers in the brain called endorphinsand work through the same biochemical pathway that an opiod painkiller would work through.
  • A Parkinson’s patient takes a placebo they think is their Parkinson’s drug, they get a flood ofdopaminein the brain, which is exactly what you would see with the real drug.
  • Altitude sickness – someone at altitude inhales fake oxygen, there’s a reduction in prostaglandinswhich actually work to dilate blood vessels that cause many of the symptoms of altitude sickness.

Some explanations for the placebo effect 

Stress and anxiety— if we feel that we are in danger or under threat, the brain raises its sensitivity to symptoms like pain. Whereas, if we feel safe and cared for and things are going to get better soon, we relax and are not so alert to symptoms.

Physiological mechanisms like conditioning*   We can all be conditioned to have physiological responses to a stimulus, even immune responses. For example, take a pill that suppresses your immune system and on another occasion take a similar looking placebo pill, with no active drug, your body will mimic same immune response. Astonishingly, it doesn’t even matter if you know it’s a placebo.

Stress can rewire the brain — and create more stress

Like a muscle, the more you exercise any part the stronger it gets.

Brains are shaped by our thoughts and behaviors. Research shows your brain structure, neurochemical and electrical activity responds to and reflects how you think throughout your life.   For example: If you play a musical instrument, speak a second language, train for athletics for eight hours a day – the parts of your brain responsible for performing those activities gets more active and larger. 

If you’re thinking stressful thoughts for the whole day parts of the brain involved in the stress response get larger and other parts of the brain actually deteriorate.  Consequently, the very brain circuits we need to counter stress no longer work as well as they should.  

It’s not as simple as saying, “I’m going to change how I think now. I’m not feeling stressed.” It takes a long time to change your brain. 

In the middle of your face – your personal placebo “pill”

When stressed, the brain influences your body AND the body influences your brain.  The stress response speeds up your breathing to pump more oxygen when your brain perceives danger, either real or imaginary.  If you deliberately speed up your breathing when not stressed you’ll start to feel more aroused and on edge.  The opposite is true: Slow your breathing down, forcing your body into a more relaxed state.  Your brain responds with more calming thoughts and feelings.

Condition your own calming response using your breath . . . salivating optional.

Click below to read two ways to slow your breathing down:

Decrease your Anxiety &amp; Stress Increasing Immunity

Control your Anxiety: Easy, Fast, Effective and Square

* Ivan Pavlov, a physiologist, conditioned dogs so that whenever he gave them food he made a noise, like ring a bell.  Eventually the dogs associated the bell with their food and they would salivatejust to the sound of the bell.

 

 

 

https://www.npr.org/

A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant, PhD. in genetics and medical microbiology

How to Empty your Brain to Reduce Stress & Control Anxiety – Write On!

Non-stop writing, stream of consciousness, free writing . . . it doesn’t matter what you call it – it can change your brain, change your day.

I’m not being overly dramatic as there is a body of research which shows that

simply putting pen to paper changes your brain to reduce anxiety & stress.

Write on! by Peggy

Easy Peasy Writing How-to

Choose a focus – a situation, feeling, thought and create a “topic Sentence”

If you can’t think of a specific begin with

 “When I ____________”,  Right this moment I am thinking . . . ” ,   “I am feeling . . .”,  

“I can’t think of anything to write because . . . “

It can be anything in the past, the present or the future.

  • Use a pen that writes smoothly and comfortable to your hand.  

Don’t use a keyboard since the act of writing with your hand is important.  Your small muscle movement is expressive (much like artistic expression, your handwriting is unique to you).  It doesn’t matter if it’s legible or beautiful as your hand movement registers with your brain in ways that tapping out letters on a keyboard do not.

  • Set a timer for approximately 20 minutes. It takes that long for your unconscious brain to push through your logical thinking processes.
  • Use a journal, a piece of paper, a brown bag- it doesn’t matter.
  • Start with your “topic sentence”,thought, feeling . . . just start. 
  • Write continuously for 20 minutes, never letting the pen stop. If your mind goes blank simply makes loop-d-loops with the pen until you have words to put down. Write quickly, spontaneously, intuitively. It doesn’t matter what you write just put down on paper where your mind takes you.
  • Do not be concerned about spelling, punctuation or grammar.
  • Do not be concerned if it doesn’t make sense.

Read  research: How Writing About Past FailuresMay Help You Succeed In The Present

 click here

How to reduce fear & anxiety in 30 seconds

Affect labeling—the act of naming one’s emotional state—helps blunt the immediate impact of negative feelings and begin the process of reducing stress.

Ina small study* of 30 subjects, researchers conducted a series of brain-imaging experiments in which participants were shown frightening faces and asked to choose a word that described the emotion on display. Labeling the fear-inducing object appeared to:

  • Reduce activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain in which the fight or flight reflex originates.
  • Increased activity in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, which is associated with vigilance and symbolic processing.
  • The brain’s perception of the images shifted from objects of fear to subjects of scrutiny.
  • Experientially, the fact that there is a name for what you’re going through means that other people have experienced it as well, which makes an overwhelming emotion feel less isolating.

How to “Affect label” 

30 seconds . . . as long as you don’t count the 15 minutes of moving.

*The University of California, Los Angeles. Study led by psychology professor Matthew Lieberman,

https://qz.com/989060/reduce-stress-and-anxiety-with-a-pen-and-this-simple-neuroscience-backed-trick/

Decrease your Anxiety & Stress Increasing Immunity

Diaphragmatic breathing is the best known and one of the most powerful breath exercises to reduce the stress response, get oxygen flowing to your brain and in your body.

If you’re constantly and chronically stressed out, sleep-deprived, malnourished, or dehydrated over time your immune function will weaken.

Longer, deeper breaths into your abdomen, slows your heart rate and activates the calming, parasympathetic nervous system. 

Inhale . . . . . . . . . . . Exhale. . . . . . .  by Judy

The most basic type of diaphragmatic breathing is done by inhaling through your nose and breathing out through your mouth.  However, exhaling through your nose allows you to do this in public places.

Here’s how:

  • Sit in a comfortable position or lie flat on the floor, your bed, or another comfortable, flat surface.

  • Relax your shoulders.

  • To feel your diaphragm move as you breathe place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your ribs on your stomach.

  • Take a slow, full breath in through your nose for about two seconds. Experience the air moving through your nostrils into your abdomen, making your stomach expand. During this type of breathing, make sure your stomach is moving outward while your chest remains relatively still.

(your hand below your ribs moves in and out with each breath).

  • Press gently on your stomach, and exhale slowly for about two seconds through your nose (or mouth) and tighten your diaphragm

(just like squeezing a lemon to get all the juice out)

  • The hand on your upper chest should remain as still as possible throughout.

Repeat these steps several times for best results.

It may take you a bit of effort at first to do this cuz it ain’t the usual way you breathe.

With continued practice, diaphragmatic breathing becomes easier, Easier, EASIER.

After you get the hang of it, you can practice diaphragmatic breathing  . . . without using your hand.