It’s a new day
time for a new do
a little color, a bit of spray
so the real you shines through
By David Robson
6th April 2020
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.
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?
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]
Don’t be lame
Get off your bum
Stretch, don’t strain
calm your brain
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
Happy Birthday Peggy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
From FreddieL, L, L, L, L, L, L, L
The Elephant says:
Since it’s only us
Here’s our new plan
No need to cook
Eat out of the can.
The Elephants says:
As long as you’re sitting
Let’s make masks
Give back to others
Live up to the task
The Elephant says:
Hair’s turning grey
You’re no longer a pup
No need to be dowdy
Let’s gussy you up
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
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.”
“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.
*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 says:
This room’s a bore
Let’s change up things
Bring in some pizzazzz
we’ll give it some zing
The Elephant says:
Let’s indulge a bit
Must eat ’em all up
Before they rot
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.
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.
Like the waves of the ocean
feelings come and go.
Choose which ones to ride to shore
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.
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.
*Steve Chandler, author of – “Reinventing Yourself” and “Fearless.”
It’s decisions, not conditions
that determine our fate.
“Good judgement comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgement”
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
In recent weeks we have been doing daily posts on coping with stress, anxiety and social distancing .
Click here for “Control your Stress & Anxiety: 6 Ways to Meditate for People Who Can’t “Meditate”
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!
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 security– the 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 systems– When 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 others – Even 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.
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
- 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 . . .
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
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
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!
Thank you Sharon M. for sharing this video!
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:
* 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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
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.
Judy’s Self Reflection
I’m not a worrier by nature but during the past weeks and all the uncertainty about Covid-19 spreading throughout the world plus the fact that I have underlying medical conditions (I’m not mentioning my age!)I have had trouble falling asleep.
Tossing and turning, it took me 2 hours to realize my entire body was tense.
I relaxed my muscles. They tensed up again. I relaxed again. Muscles from head to toe tensed up again and again as if I were a trained athlete who had practiced so many times my muscle memory was so strong practice was no longer needed.
Flashing before my eyes was every therapy session I’ve ever had with anyone who had anxiety, PTSD, was a caretaker, had a sick loved one, experienced loss of any kind, anticipated loss, was in pain or had a medical condition. . . .
I know that our brains automatically perceive danger in any emotional, physical or imagined threat and sends signals to our bodies to ready us to flee or fight off our enemy. Muscle tension is needed for running like hell or slugging it out – now’s not the time to relax if you want to live.
The opposite of DANGER is SAFETY
I’ve taught one of the very best, easiest mind-body techniques that calms the brain hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. It absolutely works and only took me an hour of tossing and turning to remember to use it myself.
Best of all it requires no Rx, no money, no time and you take it with you where ever you go.
Safe Signal Breath:
1. Take a deep breath through your nose.
2. Hold the breathfor just a moment
3. As you release the breath, through your nose, very gently, silently say: “Thank you brain, I’m safe.”(Be kind to your brain. It’s just trying to keep you from being eaten alive.)
Our brains are relatively simple in that brains can not tell the difference between when we are actually in danger (anxiety is our brain’s way of keeping us on alert for danger so we can survive) or when we imagine danger through thoughts or other cues.
Imagine a snake, a spider, anything that you are afraid of. Your brain will signal “danger! danger!” and flood your cells with the neurochemistry of fear. Watch a sad movie and your brain will flood you with the neurochemistry of sadness and, if you are like me, sob like a baby.
So, tell your brain you are safe and it will stop the neurochemistry of fear and anxiety.
It’s not instant cup’o’soup because once you are flooded with the anxious feeling it will take about 20 minutesor so for the neurochemistry to metabolize out of your body’s cells. No matter how you FEEL keep giving your brain the “I’m Safe” cue.
Here’s the Key for Continual or Chronic Threats
Yoga, meditation, mindfulness prayer, listening to relaxation recordings all help. However, to break into a CHRONIC cycle you need to chronically signal your brain to stop sending the neurochemistry of the stress response to your body. Let your brain know that no one is throwing grenades at you, animals are not trying to eat you alive, you are SAFE.
Continually “Sprinkle” the Breath/I’m safe cue throughout the day and evening. It’s a good idea to get a cue(s) to remind yourself to do this. A post-it-note on the bathroom mirror, every time your phone rings, a note in your appointment book etc.
You HAVE to breathe anyway so you’ve got nothing to lose — except your stress response!
My Self Realization
I figured out that I had a legitimate reason to be anxious while virus swirl around the world looking for bodies to inhabit.
Dr. Janet Tomiyama has been trying to figure out if eating because of stress works for us. Here is a summary of her findings:
- Rats were given access to comfort food — usually Crisco mixed with sugar!
- Researchers then stressed them out
- Over time, the comfort food actually dampened their stress hormones
- Dampened down their brain’s responsivity to stress
- Dampened down the signaling between the brain and the rest of the body, so they didn’t secrete as many stress hormones.
We tend to be critical of people who eat because of stress BUT “Not just psychologically, but also biologically — people who do a lot of comfort eating tend to show a reduced level of stress hormones and stress.”
What’s happening, according to Tomiyama:
- “When you do anything that’s rewarding to you the reward parts of your brain light up — those parts of the brain can dampen down areas of your brain that are freaking out with negative emotion. And that’s why comfort foods tend to be foods that are high in sugar and fat. They’re really rewarding; they really do light up the reward centers of our brains.”
- There’s also some work showing that when you do comfort eating, it builds up fat in your belly region and that fat pad sends a signal to your brain to decrease the amount of stress hormones that you’re producing.
- Then there’s conditioning. If throughout your whole life, you’ve paired stress relief with comfort foods over and over again, then soon enough, your body is going to automatically respond to eating these comfort foods with relaxation.
Many people have had the experience of being given comfort food to cheer us up as kids. Part of the comfort t then came from bing cared for but that became associated with the food, which now gives us comfort on its own.
“in addition to rodents, we also see comfort eating working in some non-human primate species as well. So my main take home from this is self-compassion: You’re not doing the comfort eating because you’re some sort of weak-willed human being; you’re biologically driven to do this. ” says Tomiyama.
What Tomiyama is trying to do now, is to see if healthy foods can also be comforting. Even in rat studies only unhealthy foods were used. Therein some data from surveys that say there are people who do use healthy foods for stress.
“Nobody stress-eats strawberries, do they?”
Actually, strawberries might work she reports. Anything sweet can dampen stress.
We’ll eat to that!
Yay. Sure. 100%. When I meditate it’s 50%-50% at best. My monkey mind swings from trees with great abandon, my thoughts rambling, rumbling and wildly roaming.
When the stress, thinking of “doing nothing” for 20 minutes, negates benefits here’s 6 alternative forms of meditation:
(I’ve tried five of them- and they work. You can guess which one I’ve ignored)
1. Take a Musical Bath
2. Dance When NO ONE Watches
Dancing is the natural progression from listening to music. Many of us have had the horrible feeling of dancing while being stuck in self-conscious over thinking and paranoid about how we look.
Meditative dance is ignoring everything that is going on outside our own body and becoming one with the music. Flay your arms, sway your hips, roll your eyes – Let go of protecting your self image, have fun and even be silly.
3. Draw with your eyes
Drawing is less about talent and more about learning to see. Thinking actually can get in the way so that’s why this exercise is meditative.
(Don’t worry about what it’s going to look like, it’s the meditative process that counts not the Museum of Modern Art.)
By drawing without looking you use your sight perception to get out of your head- what you THINK it should look like – and be in the moment.
- Choose what to draw — a cup, your foot, a chair, it doesn’t matter.
- Set a timer for 10 or 20 minutes.
- Arrange yourself so you can see the object you will be drawing without seeing the paper. Put your pencil through a paper plate so you can’t see your paper.
- Focus your eyes on some part of the object and coordinate your eye moving around the outline (contours) of the object with moving your pencil to record what your eyes observe.
- Without looking at your hand, your paper or your pencil focus only on the shape of an object.
Do not look down at the paper as you SLOWLY move the pencil, concentrating on the lines, and contours of the object as you let your pencil “flow” in time with your eyes.
- Continue observing and recording until the timer rings
Just like any meditation practice, this exercise can be difficult at first but will become easier as you learn to shift your thinking from an analytical, labeling mode to one that is more intuitive, MEDITATIVE.
Not only is yoga incredible for flexibility, balance and strength, it’s also one of the oldest forms of meditation. You combining various movements with coordinated breathing to help focus on your inner body.
Watch yoga videos on YouYube, there’s hundreds to choose from – and practice them a few times a week.
Don’t get caught up with all the bells and whistles, yoga is about feeling connected to the earth and your inner body. (The last time I checked your feet were already touching ground.)
5. Meditative Munching
Remember, the power of meditation comes with practicing full focus. When your mind strays return to taste, texture, temperature. Eating in front of the TV, in the car or standing over the sink only encourages the monkeys to leap around.
Eat slowly, savor each bite – focus on the textures, flavors, aromas and the temperature. (And while you’re chewing, feel grateful for each bite of nourishment.)
6. Restore with Chores
(We’ve gone from what I consider the most enjoyable – eating – to the least)
Chores can be meditative WHEN you focus solely on what your are doing. Your monkey mind will try and take over to keep you entertained and stimulated.
Just as in all meditative practices keep refocusing your monkey mind on the task at hand: Washing dishes – focus on the temperature of water, seeing the pot become cleaner and cleaner; Mowing the lawn – examine the cutting patterns, inhale the aroma of cut grass; Making the bed – notice the feel, color, wrinkles of sheets, the tension of folds, your hand motion . . .
(Personally, I’d rather monkey around.)
There is unprecedented anxiety in the entire world due to the pandemic. Fear and anxiety is a normal response to unknown threats to our survival and well-being. The problem for all of us is prolonged and chronic anxiety which elevates the stress response and lowers our immune response.
We have searched all our posts which address stress and anxiety to give you some tools to incorporate into your daily life and better cope with uncertainty.
Have a look at these past posts:
And from Curious to the Max:
For the Foodie
If you don’t know what a “foodie” is you are probably around the same age as Peggy & Judy. For all you “oldies” . . . “gastronome” and “epicure” define the same thing. If you don’t know what gastronome and epicure mean it’s a person who enjoys food for pleasure.
- Have a picnic on the floor (benefit-no ants, just dust).
- Get takeout. Support independent restaurants which are hurting right now by eating their food. It’s reported that takeout service Grubhub will stop collecting commission of up to $100 million to support independent restaurants that use their service. (Just make sure you limit your contact with the delivery driver and wash your hands after unpacking the food.)
- Have your own wine tasting of whatever bottles you have. No wine? Have a tea-tasting.
- Make a new recipe, like dog biscuits.
- Perfect grandma’s special recipe.
- Make coffee, and study how many beans you use, which types, how hot the water is, how long it brews and whether any of that even makes a difference.
- Read your cookbooks and find new culinary sites on the internet.
- Make doggie biscuits – peanut butter should be the #1 ingredient
- Watch “The Great British Baking Show,” and bake something with the ingredients you have on hand
- Organize your spice rack alphabetically.
- Make a cocktail or mocktail (if you don’t know what a mocktail is you’re over the age of 21) Don’t forget the garnish.
- Cook something special – make a double recipe and give half to an elderly neighbor and the other half to your dog.
To better control your anxiety and stress every single one of you has all the equipment you need:
A pair of lungs and a nose.
Slow, deep breathing hacks your brain’s chemistry, resets the autonomic nervous system and activates the parasympathetic nervous system that calms and relaxes the body reduces anxiety and stress.
Inhale and exhale through your nose*
Inhale deeply for a count of four
Exhale for a count of four
Repeat 4 times
(Can’t get easier than this IF you know how to breathe and count to 4)
It’s best, during really stressful times, to so this breathing exercise throughout the day and evening. You can do it anytime and anywhere . . . even lying down or upside down.
*Nasal breathing is better than mouth breathing: Your lungs extract oxygen from the air and the absorption of oxygen happens mostly on exhalation. Exhaling through the nose (because it’s smaller than your mouth) creates greater air pressure and therefore a slower exhalation. Your lungs get extra time to extract a greater amount of oxygen.
Coloring books aren’t just for kids anymore. Adults have discovered coloring provides a brief focus, away from the world within and the world around us. It’s a form of meditation: Concentrated visual focus on color, patterns and repetitive motion are hallmarks of the meditative process.
We’ve picked out some Curious Critters that lend themselves for for quick & easy coloring. Embellish them, add patterns, squiggles and make them your own.
Click on the download at the bottom
Get out your crayons or colored pencils
CREATE your own meditation.
(Don’t want to meditate? Color with a child!)
Scroll down for more posts in this series.
Here are some fun, FREE resources for social distancing and self isolation-check them out!
Online University learning of all kinds of subjects
Join Coursera for free and learn online. Courses from top universities like Yale, Michigan, Stanford, Imperial College-London, Tel Aviv University, Duke, Johns Hopkins, University of Cape Town, University of Tokyo etc. . . . and leading companies like Google and IBM.
I (judy) have taken 2 of the courses and they were excellent. Since I don’t need any more degrees or certifications I never did the papers or took the tests . . . just watched the lectures and did the reading. There is a large catalogue of classes from colleges and universities all over the WORLD. Fabulous resource.
Online exercise classes – Planet Fitness
Planet Fitness, one of the nation’s largest chain gyms, is offering free online exercise classes
The at-home workouts are streaming on the company’s Facebook page, open to anyone, including non-members.
Because I love all of you I (Peggy) sacrificed myself and tried two Planet Fitness on-line workouts.
I tried 2 Planet fitness workouts. They were actually great! The instructors made it easy to follow all the exercises, all of which could be modified to easier levels.
To make sure all of you could do the routines I did the easier levels, even though I didn’t NEED to, of course . . .
I am recovering from a sprained ankle and didn’t want to jump on my foot, so I was clever enough to figure out ways to keep both feet on the ground. (I couldn’t think of other excuses to modify more exercises but carefully watched how they were done.)
Instructors do warm ups and cool downs. Have a chair handy and water. You get 15 second rests in between the exercises.
Another thing I liked is the instructor stopped exercising in order to continue talking. That allowed me to stop early too so I could hear what he was saying without the distraction of exercising . . . The workouts are scheduled for 4pm PST. I was late but no one said anything. There are many workout videos on the Planet Fitness Facebook page so if you’re late I’m positive they’ll let you in the class.
Fun things to do from NASA for kids and adults
“NASA’s website has a plethora of opportunities for kids and adults alike to learn more about astronomy and spaceflight. Whether you want to be an astronaut, kill some time learning about the universe or help the agency work on future space exploration activities, there’s no lack of things to do.”
“So, if you’re looking for a little out-of-this-world escape while you’re stuck at home, There is a list of free space-themed activities from NASA to keep you occupied.”
The National Park Service is waiving entrance fees at all national parks that remain open during the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to aid public social distancing.
Dear Freddie Fans,
Because I’m not allowed to go anywhere without a leash I KNOW how to cope. This week I will share what you humans can do. Since I’m Editor-in-Canine-Chief for several blogs I have a trove of posts to share with you. Here’s today’s bit of my wisdom.
Get out of the house. Just remember to keep 6 feet of distance from other people, Find an area where you won’t encounter crowds.
- Pot a plant
- Repot house plants.
- Weed, mulch, rake & mow
- Start birdwatching. Coronavirus hasn’t bothered birds. Download a birdwatching map. Sit in your backyard or near a window.
- Take a brisk walk You can still exercise – It helps your immune system be strong.*
- Go on a stroll. Sniff around and clear your mind.
- Sit outside & breathe fresh air. Notice things about the world around you that you didn’t see before.
- Bike ride.
- Meditate, journal, draw in your yard or patio.
Resting after munching the lawn, bird watching, walking and sniffing.
*Exercise which increases immunity and reduces the stress response . . . even if it’s marching in place for 5 minutes without a leash.
Take a 10 minute walk outside – 5 minutes out and 5 minutes back. The colors of nature are also calming to the brain.
Sports fans are going bonkers since all the games are canceled or have no spectators. Don’t go bonkers it’s not becoming, unless you are in a parking lot, eating hot dogs and drinking beer from the back of your pick-up truck. Do these things instead:
- Become an expert. Read up on your sport so that when your team starts playing again, you’ll have even greater insight into the game.
- Show your team some love. Tweet them a positive message or send them a photo of you wearing team gear in solidarity.
- Even better, support a charity that your favorite player loves.
- PLAY FETCH
- Practice painting your face in the colors of your favorite team. Keep your “art work” above the neck. Bare chests make you look like an “animal”.
- Revisit an old game. You know the one – The game that made you fall in love with the sport. If you have a subscription to a sport-specific streaming service, check if they have your favorite game. YouTube has clips of large collection of games.
- Play Keep-Away or Dodge Ball. No yard? Use balloons
- Watch sports documentaries about games of the past and present.
- Donate all your clothes that aren’t in the colors of your favorite team.
- Pretend you’re an athlete and do calisthentics. (If you don’t know what calisthenitics are do jumping jacks).
- PLAY FETCH
- Go Bonkers!
The constant flood of precautions and warnings, whether it’s from the medical authorities or recirculated, dubiously-sourced information on social media, can take a toll on our mental health.
The uncertainty of what a pandemic portends for our future, the drastic changes it means for the present can be unnerving.
It’s ok, it’s normal, to feel anxious and stressed when everything familiar has seemingly come to a halt in the entire world and when experts, whom we normally turn to, have no answers, no treatments and are impacted in the same way we are. We feel helpless and our fears are heightened when we can’t see or predict where the threat may strike.
Social Distancing for your Brain
Pare down your sources of information
- Continually tell yourself it’s ok not knowing every little thing because there will always be an update a click away.
- Don’t carry your phone around so you’re not tempted to check it.
- Leave your phone on a charging station, put it in “airplane mode” or turn off notifications
- Limit time on social media. Your friends and acquaintances filter what they share through their own fears and lenses.
- Unfriend those who are conspiracy theorists.
- Install social media apps or tools that limit access to content, or limit aimless scrolling.
- Schedule a set time, and no more, to get updates from reliable news or health organizations.
Hand-Washing for your Brain.
Don’t Chastise Yourself for Worrying
“You are allowed to worry or feel bad. When discussing how to talk to children about the coronavirus, health experts say people should acknowledge a child’s fear and let them know their feelings are valid.”
“Surely, you can afford yourself the same compassion. The key is to work toward understanding and contextualizing your fears so they don’t keep you from living your healthiest life.”
Name your Fears
A virus can’t be seen by the naked eye. It’s threat is abstract. Writing things down makes the worries concrete and stops your brain from going over and over the worries. Here’s what to write to reassure your brain that you’ll remember everything it’s been reminding you of. You may do all steps at once or over several days.
1. List what specific threats worry you. Do you think you will catch the coronavirus and die? (The fear of death taps into one of our core existential fears). Someone you love falls ill? Would you need treatment? What would happen if self quarantine was necessary? Not able to work? No access to support or childcare?
Keep writing small fears, big fears, rational and irrational, until you can’t think of anything else.
2. Mark the ones that are REALISTIC. Consider your personal risk and how likely it is that you will actually come in contact with the virus, lose work etc.
3. Write down what you are in CONTROL of – what you are currently doing and what you might consider doing.
4. Make a plan – Brainstorm options and write them down even if they seem out-of-reach or impractical. Being prepared for your fears will help keep them in scale.
5. Review and add, delete, rearrange, update all the steps frequently to keep your brain in the know.
Think Outside Yourself
Since action can allay our anxieties, also consider what you can do to help others who may be more affected by the outbreak than you. Service workers, medical workers, hourly workers and people in the restaurant or entertainment industries may have their livelihoods paralyzed or have to put themselves in disproportionate danger.
Talk to your brain: “Most of the precautions put in place to help stall the spread of the virus aren’t just for me. They’re intended to keep entire communities and vulnerable people safe.”
There are ways to reach out that don’t demand a lot of time or energy. Examples: Double the recipe you are making and give half to a neighbor, donate money, (if you have the means) to a reputable charity, write a letter or a note to someone in quarantine, e-mail friends who are isolated . . .
Seek Support Wisely
Talking to friends about the latest news, outbreak cluster or your family’s contingency plans is a good idea so you don’t feel alone. However, if you are overwhelmed, don’t seek out someone who also is overwhelmed. Find someone who does not support or inflame you on your anxiety and can provide some advice. Always consider professional help which can be short-term. Most psychotherapists and doctors are offering phone sessions. There are community agencies or religious clergy that are free or low fee.
Enforce or Create Healthy HABITS
Pay attention to your daily basic needs – healthy practices that affect your wellbeing.
If you haven’t practiced self-care, NOW is the time to create healthy habits that will last after this crisis is over.
- Get adequate sleep
- Have proper nutrition
- Go outside as much a possible
- Engage in regular physical activity
- Practicing mindfulness, prayer, meditation, yoga or other forms of self care can also help center you in routines and awareness, and keep your mind from wandering into worry and fear.
Remember! Fear and Anxiety is . . .
. . . overestimating the likelihood of something bad happening, and underestimating our capacity to deal with it.
Dear Freddie Fans,
Because I’m not allowed to go anywhere without a leash I KNOW how to cope. This week I will share what you humans can do. Since I’m Editor-in-Canine-Chief for several blogs I have a trove of posts to share with you.
CULTURED: characterized by refined taste and manners and good education.
cultivated, artistic, enlightened, civilized, educated, well read, well informed, discerning, discriminating
sophisticated, urbane, intellectual, scholarly, erudite
If you are lacking in any of these here’s what you can do:
- Download e-books and audiobooks and READ.
- Create a virtual book club and video call each other to discuss.
- Take a virtual museum tour. Many museums offer audio tours on your smart phone. The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim Museum are two that host online tours.
- Explore overseas? Google Arts & Culture has a collection of virtual walk-throughs for dozens of international museums, from Paris to New Delhi.
- Become a film critic. Write a review of the latest. Catch up recent Oscar winners and snubbed gems and share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter. To exchange recommendations with your fellow cinephiles, join a site like Letterboxd, a social networking service for film geeks.
- Learn a language — or just the basics. Learning a few phrases in another tongue will make you feel smart.
- Bolster your vocabulary. Remember when reading the dictionary was a form of punishment? No longer. Flip through a thesaurus or take online quizzes to test your vocabulary.
Dear Freddie Fans,
Because I’m not allowed to go anywhere without a leash I KNOW how to cope. This week I will share what you humans can do. Since I’m Editor-in-Canine-Chief for several blogs I have a trove of posts to share with you. Each day I’ll share a bit of my wisdom.
Here’s my first recommendations for HUMANS
Ya Gotta Take Care of your Mental Health.
- Connect with family, friends. If you can’t get a scratch behind their ears you will have to settle for the phone, internet or writing a note or letter.
- Meditate, pray.
- Take a nap. One of my favorites.
- Video chat.
- Share funny messages on social media. Do NOT share conspiracy theories – leave theories to bonifide scientists.
- Take a warm bath.
- Take another bath.
- Go outside, get some fresh air and sunshine .
Keep your paws busy:
- Tackle a puzzle.
- Make art. Download my human’s free coloring pages.Click here for the PDF
- Humans like to knit, sew, paint
- Do all the stuff I’ve watched humans put off – taxes, clean closets.
- Play board games. Chess and checkers seem to be fun for humans . . . go figure
- Fix something around the house.
- Rearrange the furniture.
- Give yourself a manicure.
- Pet your pet.
- Brush your pet.
- Feed your pet.
- Give your pet treats
Tell me what you do to keep your paws busy!
See ya tomorrow.
Peggy is on the look-out for a long-haired kitty to adopt. After she reads this I hope she adopts a dog or . . . a lion.
- edited for precious blog space
- emphasized the scientific proof and
- pointed out the obvious (in red)
“Ask Daniel Mills, professor of veterinary behavioural medicine at the University of Lincoln, UK. In a recent study, Mills and his colleague Alice Potter demonstrated that cats are more autonomous and solitary than dogs. Carrying out the research for the project was as difficult as the cat’s reputation might suggest.“
“They are challenging if you want them to do certain things in a certain way,” says Mills. “They tend to do their own thing.”
“Cat owners (with the exception perhaps of Peggy) everywhere will sympathise. But why exactly are cats so reluctant to cooperate, either with each other or with a human? Or to flip the question around, why are so many other animals – wild and domestic – willing team players?”
1. It’s a well known that cats are greedy and don’t share. (Not nice).
” . . . domestic cats . . . hunt small animals. “You don’t want to be around somebody else when they’ve just caught a mouse, because they’re going to eat it whole,” Packer says. “It’s gone. There is not enough food to share.”
2. Cats are gate-crashers which is rude.
“All domesticated cats are descended from Middle Eastern wildcats, the “cat of the woods”. Humans did not coax those early cats out of the woods; the cats invited themselves into our grain storehouses, where an abundance of mice fed unchecked. Gate-crashing this mouse party marked the start of a truly symbiotic relationship. The cats loved the well-stocked storehouses, and the people appreciated the pest control.”
3. Cats are stubborn at best and unsociable at worst.
“They retain a large degree of independence and approach, or stay close to us, only when they want to,“says Dennis Turner, a cat expert and animal behaviourist at the Institute for Applied Ethology and Animal Psychology in Horgen, Switzerland.”
“Cats have evolved lots of mechanisms to keep themselves apart, which aren’t exactly conducive to herding,” says Mills. Cats spray their territory to help avoid awkward meetings with each other. If they do accidentally come face to face, the hackles rise and the claws come out.”
“In some circumstances it can appear that domestic cats have embraced group living; for instance, a colony living in a barn. But do not be fooled . . . “
“They’re very loose aggregations and they don’t have any real group identity,” he says. “They just have a common place they come to keep their kittens.”
“In keeping with their solitary, uncooperative reputation, cats turned out to be neurotic, impulsive and resistant to being ordered around.” (I didn’t say that the SCIENTISTS did).
4. Cats are uncooperative which creates unnecessary tension in an already tense world.
“In fact, even in the face of extreme danger, which often brings animals together to form a defensive unit, it is unlikely cats would cooperate. “It’s just not something that they typically do when they’re threatened,” says Monique Udell, a biologist at Oregon State University. Cats just do not believe in strength in numbers.”
“A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Comparative Psychologysaw scientists probe the personality traits of domestic cats. In keeping with their solitary, uncooperative reputation, cats turned out to be neurotic, impulsive and resistant to being ordered around.” (SCIENTISTS know.)
I rest my case. Please Peggy, get a cuddly canine. We don’t raise hackles or claw furniture.
Freddie Parker Westerfield, CCT, RET
If you don’t believe me here’s the full article:
Originally posted on Max your Mind. To see more from Max Your Mind, click here.
“It turns out that the answer to that question has to do with the bat’s status as the world’s only flying mammal.”
“During flight, a bat’s body temperature spikes to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Its heart rate can surge to more than 1,000 beats per minute.”
“For most land mammals, these are signals that would trigger death,” says Linfa Wang, who studies bat viruses at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore. But bats live it every day.”
Wang says it seems that bats have developed special immune systems to deal with the stress of flying.
“Their bodies make molecules that other mammals don’t have, which help repair cell damage. And their systems don’t overreact to infections, which keeps them from falling ill from the many viruses they carry (and also prevents conditions like diabetes and cancer).”
“This shows that it’s not always the virus itself but the body’s response to the virus that can make us sick, explains Wang.”
“Olival at EcoHealth Alliance says let’s be clear: it’s not the bats’ fault that people are getting diseases. “They’ve just sort of coevolved with these viruses and these bugs that basically don’t cause them any harm.”‘
“The problem, he says, is when the viruses jump to new species. And it’s human activity that makes that likely to happen.”
“In wildlife markets, like the one in Wuhan, Olival says animals that would rarely mix in nature come together. A bat in a cage could be stacked over a civet. And those animals are then mixed with humans — for example, butchers handling animals without gloves.”
“The way that we’re coming into contact with these animals, hunting, selling, and trading them is to a scale that really we haven’t seen before,” he says.”
“Investigators found traces of the virus in 22 stalls and a garbage truck at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, which also sold live animals. The market was shut down in early January, as it was tied to many of the early cases.”
“While the animal in the middle is still a mystery (some early reports point to pangolin), Wang says it’s easy to imagine how an infected animal could spread the virus to humans. “The animal can sneeze, the animal can urinate,” he says, “If a human touches [it] and blows their nose or whatever — they’ve got it.” Infection could also spread through eating undercooked meat.”
“And bat researchers stress that bats aren’t just a possible source of viruses. They play a hugely important role in Earth’s ecosystem. They eat tons of insects and pollinate plants and disperse seeds for hundreds of plant species. And they’ve found a way to coexist with the viruses they carry — which means, says Wang, that even though bats may be the source of viruses that affect humans, they could also be the source of potential therapies if we study their immune systems.”
In the interest of not spreading false information or maligning bats more than they are already maligned, we have reproduced this article in it’s entirety.
An international research team suggests that humans are hardwired to favour leaning to the right while kissing their romantic partners, which may have wider implications for neuroscience and cognitive sciences.
“According to an academic study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, over two-thirds of the kiss initiators and the recipient of the kiss have a bias to turn their heads to the right and men were about 15 times more likely than women to initiate kissing.”
“Psychologists and neuroscientists at the universities of Bath Spa and Dhaka, Bangladesh, invited 48 married couples to kiss privately in their own homes, and after kissing they were asked to go to different rooms, open an envelope and then report on various aspects of the kiss independently of each partner.”
“The setting for the study was significant as kissing in Bangladesh is not typically observed in public and may censored from television or films. That means similar results from the western countries could be attributed to cultural factors or having learnt how to kiss through influences on TV or film.”
“Building on the previous studies from western countries, which have involved couples kissing in public places, this study is the first to investigate an inherent bias for turning the head to one side while people kiss in a non-western context. And it is also the first study in the world to show that the kiss recipients have a tendency to match their partners’ head-leaning direction.”
“Head turning is one of the earliest biases seen in development – even in the womb a preference for turning the head to the right is observable before that of favouring the right hand or foot. Whether this fundamental bias is innate and extends into adulthood is a lingering question for neuroscience and psychology,”
“The new research suggests that the act of kissing is determined by:
The brain splitting up tasks to its different hemispheres. Different hormone levels in each hemisphere and neurotransmitters might be unevenly distributed to each hemisphere as giving rise to a bias to turn right.”
This post was originally posted on Max Your Mind. Click here to see more from Max Your Mind.
Wondering if your pet rat is feeling happy? You should check its ears, researchers say.
A team of scientists in Switzerland found that a rat’s ears are more pinkish and are positioned at a more relaxed angle when it is experiencing positive emotions. The researchers recently published their findings in the journal PLOS ONE.
Scientists have not yet pinpointed what a rat is feeling when it is experiencing a “positive” emotion. As Melotti explains, they are currently at the point where they can distinguish “positive” emotions from “negative” – but not finer emotional graduations between happiness, joy and optimism, for example.
It’s interesting that rats show emotions on their faces because they are not particularly visual creatures, Melotti says. They’re nocturnal and rely primarily on their sense of smell and touch.
The team says their findings could indicate that rats “may at least partly sense … the facial expressions of their partner, along with other body postures, to gather information on the likelihood the partner will initiate play, and how intense that play is likely to be.”
DISCLAIMER: We’ve taken note that sex sells . . . or at least boosts the number of hits (no pun intended) . . . on the blog, not us . . . So in an unabashed ploy to raise our “ranking” . . . this article is by Rob Picheta, CNN, not Peggy, Judy nor Freddie.
* . * . *
(CNN)”A womanizing tortoise whose rampant sex life may have single-handedly saved his entire species from extinction has retired from his playboy lifestyle, returning to the wild with his mission accomplished.”
“Diego’s unstoppable libido was credited as a major reason for the survival of his fellow giant tortoises on Espanola, part of the Galapagos Islands, after being shipped over from the San Diego Zoo as part of a breeding program.”
“When he started his campaign of promiscuity, there were just two males and 12 females of his species alive on the island.”
“But the desirable shell-dweller had so much sex he helped boost the population to over 2,000. The Galapagos National Parks service believe the 100-year-old tortoise is the patriarch of around 40% of that population.
“He’s contributed a large percentage to the lineage that we are returning to Espanola,” Jorge Carrion, the park’s director, told AFP. “There’s a feeling of happiness to have the possibility of returning that tortoise to his natural state.”‘
“A total of 15 tortoises took part in the breeding program to boost the island’s population, but none played a big a role as Diego.”
“About 1,800 tortoises have been returned to Espanola and now with natural reproduction we have approximately 2,000 tortoises,” Carrion told AFP.”
“This shows that they are able to grow, they are able to reproduce, they are able to develop,” he said.”
Now that’s what we call WILD LIFE.
February is the month of love. And here at CURIOUStotheMAX love includes all God’s creatures as we are fascinated by this CURIOUS, WONDERFUL and WILD World we all share. Marvel with us at the incredible lengths nature goes to help mayflies survive.
Mayflies have an curiously interesting life cycle. Adult mayflies have no mouths, don’t eat, only live for a few days and their only purpose is TO REPRODUCE.
Males swarm above the water in a thick colony while females fly into the colony to mate. The males hold onto the females and mate in air. (No, it’s not the mile-high club since they stay a bit closer to the ground.) After mating, females fly down to the surface of the water to lay eggs and die – usually devoured by hungry fish either before or after death. The males also die, though on land.
Mayfly mating season-fish come to the surface looking for a tasty meal,
and fly fishers come looking for a tasty fish
The eggs fall to the bottom of the water where they land in mud and attach or stick onto stones or vegetation. The eggs remain in the mud for anywhere from a day to weeks before hatching. After hatching, the mayflies turn into their nymph stage (which you might attribute to teenage years). The mayfly nymphs are an aquatic life stage and do not have wings or contain gills.
Nyphs spend their time, anywhere from 1-2 years, searching for food in the relative safety of the lake bed bottom. When the time is right, the nymphs rise to the surface, molt and rest on the water’s surface to allow their wings to dry. After drying, they fly onto land where they wait in the vegetation before they molt once more and become a more colorful specimen..
Roses are red
Violets are blue
I’m not allowed chocolate
Valentine’s day . . . pooh
Did you know chocolate has been linked to lower rates of heart disease and stroke? You would think that my humans would want me to have a healthy heart.
Freddie Parker Westerfield, Published Poet
I sit alone, no valentines, no candy, no cake. The only thing I get is dog food.
If you are sitting home alone on Valentine’s day with dog food you are not alone.
Find out how:
by Freddie Parker Westerfield, published author
Once upon a time in a land far away lived a little orphan wolf. How he became an orphan is not known, the records being lost long ago in the archives of the forest. All the tales simply begin: Once upon a time, in a land far away lived a little orphan wolf.
Never having been around others of his own kind he didn’t know what big teeth he had. He didn’t know what big eyes he had. He didn’t know what a long tail he had. He didn’t know how hairy he was. He didn’t know how scary he was. All he knew was that he was alone in a big, big forest filled with creatures that ran away as soon as he approached.
Day by day, so the birds wouldn’t fly away, he sat far, far below the tree tops listening to them sing to each other from high above.
He watched from far, far away the forest creatures playing so they wouldn’t leap out of his sight.
He snuck peaks at all the critters sharing their meals from behind a bush so they wouldn’t know he was there.
Every morn he dined out for breakfast, alone. Every eve he dined out for super, alone. Every night he settled down to sleep, alone.
One day the little orphan wolf decided to set out from his forest home to find someone, somewhere, to be his friend.
Along the way he came upon a little girl. She had a little curl and wore a red cape and hood. Why she wore a red cape and hood is not known, the records being lost long ago in the archives of the forest.
Because she was so young she didn’t know how scary the orphan wolf was and asked.
“Where are you going Mr. Wolf”?
“I’m off to find a friend so that I am not alone. I’m off to find a friend to dine with. I am looking for a friend to play with and most of all I want a friend to talk with. I am very lonely.”
The little girl, feeling sorry for the little orphan wolf, said, “Do come with me to Grandma’s house. She makes delicious muffins from berries I pick in the forest. She sits at the table and listens to me talk. Grandma loves all of God’s creatures. Although she can’t be your grandma, perhaps she can be your friend”
“I don’t know what a Grandma is,” replied the little orphan wolf, “but she sounds exactly like the friend I’m looking for.”
And so the little orphan wolf set off with the little girl with a curl, wearing a red cape and hood to Grandma’s house.
They passed by a giant berry bush.“Stop here to pick berries for the delicious muffins Grandma makes.” They picked bushels of berries and carried them in the little girls red cape and hood.
They passed by a field of flowers.“Stop here to pick flowers for Grandma to put on the table where we sit and she listens to me talk.”They picked bouquets of flowers and carried them in the little girls red cape and hood.
They passed a bubbling brook where cool waters ran.“Stop here for a drink to refresh ourselves after all our work picking berries and flowers.” They drank from the bubbling brook and rested on the little girl’s red cape and hood so as not to get dirty.
As they passed over the crest of a hill the little girl cried, “There’s Grandma’s house. Let’s see if she will be your friend.”
Grandma greeted the little girl, the little orphan wolf peeking out from behind not sure what a grandma was, with a big smile, the biggest smile the little orphan wolf had ever seen.
The little girl announced, “Grandma, I’ve brought you berries so you can make delicious muffins. I’ve brought you flowers to put on the table where we sit and you listen to me talk. I’ve brought you a little orphan wolf who is lonely and looking for a friend”
Now, the little orphan wolf’s eyes grew big, having never seen a Grandma before. Not knowing what to do he opened his big mouth, showed his big teeth and wagged his bushy tail.
“My! What big teeth you have”, gasped grandma. “The better to protect you with”replied the wolf.
“My! What big eyes you have”, marveled Grandma. “The better to lovingly look up at you with”, replied the wolf. “
“My! What a bushy tail you have”, exclaimed Grandma. “The better to wag with happiness,” replied the wolf.
“My! How hairy you are”, said Grandma. “The Better to cuddle and keep you warm,” said the wolf.
“My oh my”, Grandma sighed. “You may stay with me. I’ll feed you delicious muffin treats, and you can sit and listen to me while I talk”.
“And because you are one of God’s creatures I will call you D-o-g.”
Where upon he looked up at Grandma with big eyes, opened his big wolf mouth, showed his big wolf teeth, wagged his bushy wolf tail, stuck out his wet wolf tongue and gave Grandma an appreciative lick.
He had found his friend.