Day dreamers were in my day simply that. Today, our society feels the need to label them as defective. We expect kids to be small adults when they are neurologically different as you all know. Giving a psychostimulant to a child with an underdeveloped PFC that causes atrophy of the PFC sets the child up for a life time of chemical dependence and disability.
If we refuse to accept the disease model of depression or anxiety, that is, we seek to understand cause rather than to simply identify the symptoms, we arrive at some startling conclusions.
There have been many different definitions of what stress is, whether used by psychologists, medics, management consultants or others. There seems to have been something approaching open warfare between competing definitions: Views have been passionately held and aggressively defended. What complicates this is that intuitively we all feel that we know what stress is, as it is something we have all experienced. A definition should therefore be obvious…except that it is not. Physiological examples: headaches, tension, getting sick; Cognitive: can ’ t concentrate, forgetfulness; Emotionally: depression, anxiety; Spiritual: Distance from higher power e.g. sitting in a chair at a desk most of the day, giving yourself negative messages, fights with family members, lack of connection with a higher power, lack of relationships, projects at work, bosses, coworkers, etc.
Practical stress motivates us to accomplish things like tasks at work, cleaning the house, or paying the bills. If we are experiencing practical stress levels then once we address the stressor we no longer feel stressed. Critical stress levels happen when the stress does not go away because a stressor is too much too handle or there are too many smaller stressors.
Stress responses include “ Fight or Flight ” and General Adaptation Syndrome. FF is usually associated with traumatic and GAS with cumulative or long term stress. With traumatic think short-term stressors. We actually create hormones to help us cope in the short-term with these stressors—our senses our heightened awareness. After these effects wear off, however, we are less controlled, more anxious. Fight-or-flight, or adrenaline responsive stress is not only triggered by life-threatening danger. Recent research shows that we experience the fight-or-flight response when simply encountering something unexpected, are overly concerned with the future, or are unprepared for what we encounter. The situation does not have to be dramatic: People experience this response when frustrated or interrupted, or when they experience a situation that is new or in some way challenging. This hormonal, fight-or-flight response is a normal part of everyday life and a part of everyday stress, although often with an intensity that is so low that we do not notice it.. Starting with the observation that different diseases and injuries to the body seemed to cause the same symptoms in patients, he identified a general response (the “ General Adaptation Syndrome ” ) with which the body reacts to a major stimulus. While the Fight-or-Flight response works in the very short term, the General Adaptation Syndrome operates in response to longer-term exposure to causes of stress. But over time it builds causing the obvious issues. Selye identified that when pushed to extremes, animals reacted in three stages: First, in the Alarm Phase, they reacted to the stressor. Next, in the Resistance Phase, the resistance to the stressor increased as the animal adapted to, and attempted to cope with, it. This phase lasted for as long as the animal could support this heightened resistance. Finally, once resistance was exhausted, the animal entered the Exhaustion Phase, and resistance declined substantially. What level are you experiencing? What phase are you in?
You are trying your best to meet the challenges head on, but you still suffer for it. Note how stress affects physical, emotional, relational, cognitive levels.
When you are doing the minimum to get by.
Burnout, failure, emotional collapse..depression at the inability to cope.
Mostly unconsciously, we each have a default approach to dealing with this stress.
Some of us take action. We fully realize that we are stressed, and that we need to mitigate this stress in some way.
The best thing you can do here is to emotionally express what is going on.
My students who were taught to make a list of things in their lives to be thankful for once each week, say on a Saturday, reported feeling happier within a few weeks. Other students who practiced mindfulness and meditation also reported increases in feeling calm before exams. Friends who suffered from both depression and anxiety disorders who did not respond well to therapy or medications did significantly better using mindfulness and meditation.
My own journey to mindfulness and meditation was a reluctant one.
Time to practice one technique for relaxation.
Studies actually show that using imagery actually reduces heart rate and slows breathing. What do you see in front of you? To your left? Right? Take a look behind you, what ’ s there? What do you hear? What sounds do the things you see make? What do you feel? What is the environment like? Warm? Breezy? What do you smell? Taste? Another way to use imagery is to look at yourself and imagine all the stress leaving your body. What does stress look like to you? Finally, you can use imagery to imagine yourself performing well. Combine with Relaxed breathing, be mindful of how your breath feels.
Clearing the mind of our business is not easy. Yet with practice it becomes easier.
Being mindful of how we feel right now allows us to focus on the present, not the past of the future.
Pema Chödrön was born iin 1936, in New York City. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three grandchildren. While in her mid-thirties, She traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche, with whom she studied for several years. She became a novice nun in 1974 while studying with Lama Chime in London. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa came to England at that time, and Pema received her ordination from him. Pema Chödrön is a an American figure in Tibetan Buddhism. A disciple of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, she is an ordained nun, author, and teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage which Trungpa founded.
What they find could help illuminate poorly understood brain disorders such as stress, depression and even Alzheimer’s and autism. These diseases are very different from each other, but they share a common feature: In those afflicted, brain scans reveal strange behavior in the same region of the brain. This part of the brain is associated with internal thoughts, a poorly understood area referred to as the “default network.” It is called default because it seems to activate when people are not doing any particular task.
In a study published in the journal NeuroImage in 2009, Luders and her colleagues compared the brains of 22 meditators and 22 age-matched nonmeditators and found that the meditators (who practiced a wide range of traditions and had between 5 and 46 years of meditation experience) had more gray matter in regions of the brain that are important for attention, emotion regulation, and mental flexibility.
Functional MRI scans showed stronger connections in several regions of the meditators’ brains, especially those associated with attention and auditory and visual processing. The density of gray matter increased in regions governing such distinctly different activities as memory, self-awareness, and compassion, and decreased in the amygdala—the part of the brain associated with fear, stress, and emotional extreme states.
Finding Balance: Mindfulness, Meditation, and Mental Heath Dr. W. S. Davis
STRESS!! Stress. Neurochemicaly, the brain does not differentiate between psychological or biological stress. Whenever your brain perceives a threat, imminent or imagined, your limbic system immediately responds via your autonomic nervous system. This system includes endocrine glands These automatically regulate metabolism. Hormones initiate several metabolic processes that best allow you to cope with sudden danger.After a perceived danger has passed, your body then tries to return to normal. But what if it cannot?
STRESS!! Stress can dramatically increase the ability of chemicals to pass through the blood-brain barrier. During the Gulf War, Israeli soldiers took a drug to protect themselves from chemical and biological weapons. The drug should not have passed through the BBB, yet 25% experienced symptoms which occur only if the drug reaches the brain. Stress can exacerbate a number of psychiatric disorders, many of which are associated with the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain unique to humans. A Yale University examined stress on brain function. Results indicate that stress impairs PFC cognitive function through its influence on dopamine, a key neurotransmitter involved in many brain disorders, including ADHD and Parkinsons disease. ADHD medications are psychostimulants which cause atrophy of the PFC.
Commonalities of Stress Depression: Severe despondency and dejection, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. Inability to concentrate on the present because of the past. Stress from being trapped in the past. Anxiety: A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Inability to concentrate on the present for fear of the future. Stress from being trapped in the future.
StressStress Our reaction to events (environmental or internal) that exceed our current adaptive resources; Experienced physiologically, cognitively, emotionally, spiritually- Different Types of Stressors; Physiological (Physical or Biological) Psychological (Emotional) Familial (Interpersonal) Spiritual (Self)
Stress 89% of Americans report that they often experience high levels of stress Can be experienced at practical levels or can be brought to critical levels in two ways: Cumulative Stress Traumatic Stress
Stress Continuum•Stress can be either short term (chronic) or long term (cumulative). Both thebody and the mind have different methods of dealing with this stress.•Stress: Short Term (Chronic) Fight/Flight Exhaustion Anxiety.•Stress: Long Term (Cumulative)GAS Unresolved ExhaustionDepression.The stress reaction generally occurs in three stages: Stress, Conservation, andExhaustion. This exhaustion occurs when we can no longer cope with thestress.
The First Stage: StressStress manifests in many ways including depression or anxiety. Persistent irritability Forgetfulness Persistent anxious feeling Heart palpitations Periods of high blood pressure Unusual heart rhythms (skipped beats) Bruxism (grinding your teeth at night) Inability to concentrate Insomnia Headaches Prolonged feeling of sadness
The Second Stage: ConservationConservation manifests as self preservation: Social withdrawal Avoiding people Cynical attitude Decreased sexual desire Resentfulness Persistent tiredness in the mornings Increased caffeine or alcohol consumption Emotional or “weepy.” Apathy
Third Stage: ExhaustionExhaustion includes the collapse of coping abilities: Chronic sadness Chronic headaches Chronic stomach or bowel The desire to “drop out” of problems society Chronic mental fatigue The desire to move away from Chronic physical fatigue friends, work, and even family Self injury ideation Thoughts of committing suicide
How We Cope Humans will take one of three different approaches to this emotional stress: Action-oriented Confront the problem which causes stress by changing the environment, or situation (Fight or Flight) Acceptance-oriented We do not have the ability to change the situation nor do we have emotional control. This loss results in either acceptance (Depression) or conflict (Anxiety). Emotionally-oriented We do not have the ability to change the situation, but we can change our interpretation of it (re-thinking).
Action-Oriented Take care of yourself physically Exercise regularly, monitor your diet, get enough sleep Take time to do things you enjoy Talk with friends, family time Find a relaxing hobby Enrich your life spiritually
Acceptance-Oriented Accept that you are powerless. Allow for proper time to grieve. Share your feelings with someone who cares about you. Express your feelings through journaling. Leads to Depression or anxiety
DEPRESSION Most everyone will have times in their lives when they feel down, discouraged, or sad. Triggered by stress, disappointment, or problems in social or family relationships. If these feelings become overwhelming, we need to change something in our lives. If we have these feelings for long, we begin to question the value of life.
Anxiety Everyone has the feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, at some point in their lives. They feel as if they have no control over anything. Often, but not always, triggered by stress, disappointment, or problems. If these feelings become overwhelming, we need to change something in our lives. We begin to question the value of life.
Emotionally Oriented Stress is often due to our own Relaxation perceptions of reality Yoga, Tia Chi or Qigong Our perceptions are ours Mindfulness alone and may not reflect Embrace the now reality Meditation Mind-Body practice Focus the mind Positive psychology Practice thankfulness
Relaxation Techniques Meditation Often stigmatized by stereotypes (e.g. as a mystic practice). Get comfortable and consciously and progressively relax your body and focus on one thing (e.g. your breathing, an object, a sound, an image, etc.) for a sustained period. This focus creates observable changes in the left prefrontal lobes of Buddhist meditation practitioners. This area of the brain is involved with positive emotional states. Do this for 10 to 20 minutes (set a timer so you don’t have to think about time).
Relaxation Exercises It’s time for you to sit back and relax. It’s stressful talking about all this stress! Let’s take a break and then practice some of the things you can do for yourself, and your clients, to better manage stress.
Relaxation Exercise Imagery Imagine a peaceful setting Safe, peaceful, restful, beautiful, happy Bring all your senses into the experience, one- by-one Imagine stress flowing out of your body like a gentle stream, bubbling among the stones. As the stress flows away, your breathing becomes slower. You are more and more relaxed.
Relaxation Exercises How do you feel after only a few minutes of practicing just one relaxation technique?
Relaxation Techniques Autogenic relaxation: Visual imagery and body awareness The technique we just used Progressive muscle relaxation: Slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group. Visualization: Take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation. Mindfulness: Being aware of the present moment. Be aware of how you think and feel right now.
Mindfulness without Meditation Take three or four conscious breaths while resting your attention on the sensation of the breath coming in and going out of your body. You may have been aware of a sound, a smell, or maybe a bodily sensation other than your breath. Careful attention to whatever is happening in the present moment is the essence of mindfulness. The sensation of the breath is often used as an anchor because breathing is always present in the moment.
Living in the Moment Mindfulness gives the mind a rest from our fixation on discursive thinking The mind tends to get lost in stressful thoughts about the past and the future; We replay painful experiences from the past; we create worst-case-scenarios about the future; Paying attention to what is happening in the present moment is a welcome relief from these stressful and habitual thought patterns.
Living in the Moment Mindfulness takes us out of ourselves. It is refreshing and energizing to open our awareness to the world around us instead of always being preoccupied with our personal stories. Mindfulness helps us cope with painful physical sensations when their intensity takes over our entire sense of self. Mindfulness allows the world to speak.
Let the World SpeakMindfulness opens the mind to the world unfolding rightbefore us. We often try to speak for the world byinterpreting what we hear, see, feel.Pema Chödrön describes this as, “Letting the world speakfor itself.” We are not translating for reality.The world answers with the full array of lifes experiencesfrom the gentle brush of a summer breeze on theface, the sound of rustling leaves, or the laughter ofchildren at play.
Recent Studies The University of Massachusetts studied 12 healthy volunteers with no previous experience in meditation. Half completed the eight- week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program. The University of California-Los Angeles compared the brain activity of volunteers who had finished eight weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction training with those who did not meditate. Massachusetts General Hospital, researchers used MRI scans to document before and after changes in the brain’s gray matter—the “processing” neurons—associated with mindfulness meditation.
Conclusions Meditation allows us to tap into our awareness, creating space in our minds. Meditation keeps us in touch with our emotions. If we listen to what is going on inside we won’t under-react of over-react. Meditation allows you to spend more time in your own company and take time to sit and pay attention to how you’re feeling without thoughts and judgment. Meditation allows us to feel more empathy without getting lost in the outside world. Meditation brings your attention to the present moment. It prevents you from living in the past or worrying about the future. Plan for the future, but live in the moment.
Conclusions Meditation allows you to let go of limits. It keeps you grounded and centered. Your intuition becomes clearer about what is right for you. Meditation reminds you that what’s happening on the physical level is very much a reflection of what’s happening on the emotional and spiritual levels. Regular meditation helps you deal with stress. Stress is an inevitable part of life, and our thoughts directly impact on our physical functioning. When we meditate, we create a unique psycho-physical state in which we bring together physical relaxation with mental alertness. Prolonged stress leads to wear and tear on the body and the mind, so it is important to respond to stressful situations appropriately. Meditation lowers the levels of blood lactate and increases serotonin levels. Meditation creates measurable changes in gray matter.