Saturday, May 29, 2021


Brain training sounds good, but it does not work!

According to the Georgia Tech Attention and Working Memory Lab, brain training tested in a well-controlled study provides no benefit to improving brain function and/or memory retention. Although disappointing, it helps to understand the two types of memory function and how we can cope with declining memory.

One is what is called “crystallized intelligence”, which is all the knowledge you have learned in school, job, or languages you speak.

The other is “fluid intelligence”, which is the biological side of intelligence. This will be your actions when you have not learned what to do and your ability to solve complex problems you have never faced using complex reasoning.

Unfortunately, “fluid intelligence” is heritable and biological and grows until around age 22 and then evens out until around age 40 and then drops like a rock. The theory is the myelin sheaths surrounding our neurons in the pre-frontal cortex start to deteriorate releasing chemicals to affect the surrounding neurons, which is also an underlying theory for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Crystallized intelligence” continues for the rest of your life and even at age 75 your vocabulary will be as high as it ever was, maybe higher.

But the real problem is as we age we lose our ability to focus or attempt attention control. This multitasking world is a myth. Not only have you lost most of your “Fluid intelligence”, but your ability to focus is diminished. Since “Fluid intelligence” is most correlated with short term memory control and has diminished so much, no one can multi-task or divide your attention effectively or efficiently. You can only handle one task at a time. No one has enough “fluid intelligence” that they can text and drive at the same time.

What do we do? Simple, aerobic exercise. Not weight lifting or calisthenics, but aerobic exercise. A 30-minute brisk walk daily will do the trick. Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain and there is also a gene called a “brain derived neurotropic factor” that leads to the formation of new blood cells.

So don’t think you are smarter and getting more accomplished by multi-tasking, you are just shifting your brief attention span around and more than likely screwing something up vs. concentrating on one task at a time and getting it right!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

 Stress and the garden hose

The creation and build up of stress in your system can be analogous to the average garden hose.

If the hose is straight and you walk in a straight pattern, then everything comes out alright and there are no problems. But, when you begin to move around objects on the ground or turn to water plants or grass in different areas, then the hose gets crinkled, caught, or worse. You then become upset and stressed over the problem and have to go back to the area where the problem occurred and unbend the hose, take it off the rocks or obstacle it became entangled spending more time in corrective action than you planned.

Life is like this also. We expect things to go a certain way but they get derailed and we spend time putting out fires or fixing things that should not have happened. The lesson is to plan ahead and visually scope out the area you are going to water or the life you want to live, and make sure you anticipate the rocks and obstacles to avoid having to go back for corrective action. This is pre-planning at its best and can save much time and frustration.

Not to say you won't experience crinkles, but you will have minimized your efforts and re dos. A very successful business man once said, "It is not what you expect, but what you inspect that counts" . Add this axiom to your quiver of stress management tools and you will increase your ability to plow through life, or the yard, with the greatest of ease.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2021



Stressful psychological, social, and physiological consequences for African Americans

A team of researchers from Wayne State University, the National Institutes of Health, Morehouse College, and the University of Michigan recently developed a model of how perceived racism, the subjective experience of prejudice or discrimination, leads to various psychological, social, and physiological stress responses among African Americans. Although the model is unique in that it deals specifically with perceived racism of African Americans, it is based on a well-known model of stress and coping proposed by Lazarus and Folkman in 1984.

According to the model, actions by others can be perceived as racist, which can lead to psychological and physiological stress responses, and over time, to physical and mental health problems if attempts at coping are unsuccessful. Additionally, the model shows that a variety of factors can influence the extent to which actions by others are perceived as racist, such as skin tone, socioeconomic status (e.g., education, income), self-esteem, sense of control, and expression or suppression of anger.

The researches comment that the model could probably be expanded to represent other ethnic groups.

Source: Clark, R., Anderson, N. B., Clark, V. R., Williams, D R. (1999). Racism as a stressor for African Americans: A biopsychosocial model. American Psychologist, 54, 805-816.

Monday, May 24, 2021

 Meditation is Free Health

Meditation is the best health producing behavior you can incorporate into your stress management tool bag!

The health benefits from this free exercise are quite astounding when compared to other drugs and procedures. When you practice meditation regularly, you lower your heart rate and breathing; blood pressure stabilizes; there is more efficient use of oxygen; and there is less sweat. The adrenal glands (on kidneys) produce less cortisol, (adrenaline and noradrenaline); and your system generates positive hormones; the body ages at a slower rate; and your immune function improves. Your mind is cleared up and your creativity increases. People who meditate regularly find it easier to give up life defeating habits like smoking, drinking and drugs.

With all these benefits, it is hard to understand why everyone is not engaged in meditation. But, the simple fact is the majority of people are either not interested, think it is "new age" mumbo jumbo, or are just too busy to fit it into their "busy" schedule.

Try to incorporate meditation into your life and enjoy not only the tremendous health benefits, but a more peaceful, less chattered mind which will reduce your stress and anxiety.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021


What is wrong with America and our weight?

You would think in the country with the best medical systems and information about good health that the majority of us would be sensitive about being obese.

The stats are telling: More than one-third (35.7 percent) of adults are considered to be obese. More than 1 in 20 (6.3 percent) have extreme obesity. Almost 3 in 4 men (74 percent) are considered to be overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity is similar for both men and women (about 36 percent).

Surely, everyone has heard or read that obesity is not good for your heart and can lead to diabetes and other maladies.

The simple solution is to eat balanced and proportioned meals and engage in regular exercise. But, it appears this is not working and the motivation is lacking. You are ok with the status quo because it requires no discipline, until that heart attack or diabetes hits you, and if you are lucky to live, you will probably start a weight reduction program, but that could be short lived also.

It is depressing to walk down the street and see how many people are truly overweight/obese. They are literally signing their own bad health or death warrant that will cost more in time and money to correct, if possible.

Think about how good you will feel when you do something good for your body and mind with weight loss and exercise a daily part of your life. You can exercise and lose weight with discipline. Let’s get going for yourself and loved ones.

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Monday, May 10, 2021

 It's the little things!

There is "acute" stress, which occurs for a high intensity short term period like a car accident and "chronic" stress, which lasts a longer period and does not seem to go away as a result of things like financial difficulties or marriage issues.

It's the "cumulative" stress that builds up daily over time that occurs on a steady basis which can do you in. It becomes cumulative and destructive. Your mind becomes numb and the ill effects of the stress hormones increasingly circulate in your system eating away at your blood vessels and organs.

So, how do you prevent or resolve these daily irritants? The same way you approach all your stress management issues, with steady resolve to challenge your negative, cognitive thoughts and replace them with healthy, positive thoughts. Make sure you are eating and behaving healthy, and you learn to relax your mind and your body. Even if you haven't incorporated these strategies into your stress management tool box, start today. They will not only help alleviate the daily stress, they will help to rein in the hormones and destructive, psycho-physiological damage being done by the cumulative stress.

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Friday, May 7, 2021

 "Miner" Stress

The recent Utah miner entrapment is a good example of 'Acute Stress' among four different groups-miners, owners, rescuers, and miner families. Since everyone reacts to stress in their own ways, there are probably many coping techniques being used by the different groups.

The miners, assuming they are alive, are battling for food, water, air, and basic survival.
The owners are battling the unions, media, seismologists, and basic business survival.
The families are battling uncertainty, fear of the unknown, and possible loss of a loved one.

The rescuers are battling the elements, time, and potential loss of life.
All can benefit from the basic stress management tools available. The first and foremost is using common sense and facts vs. emotion to evaluate the situation. 
Right now, there is no indication the miners are dead or alive, so assume they are alive and need rescuing. Projecting death or the worst case scenario only will bring up unwanted emotions and resignation. Getting out to exercise or walk around will be most beneficial to all, even the miners, assuming they can move around where they are. Praying and meditating and tuning out the media speculation will help calm the mind and emotions. Bonding and social interaction is one of the most important elements in the crises among family members, friends, co-workers, etc. 

Positive thinking will keep spirits alive and hope as a basic foundation for every one's effort. Watching what you eat and not filling up on caffeine will help to keep the tensions down and people flowing smoothly so they can work together and get their minds working for maximum concentration and effort.

So, even though there are different points of view from the four groups, they all can benefit during the crises by employing the same stress management strategies to help cope, not only during the acute phase, but just as important, afterwards. This is why stress management training is so important as an ongoing tool of coping mechanisms to use constantly for day-to-day functioning, but also in times of acute crises like the mine collapse.

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Thursday, May 6, 2021

 Positive Emotions During Stress

Although people generally do not feel good when they are stressed, some positive emotions can and do occur during stressful periods in people’s lives. Researchers at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California, San Francisco recently published a review of research that shed some light on what people can do to experience positive emotions during stress.

What was the research about?

Specifically, they demonstrated that positive emotions can occur during stress and discussed three types of coping that are associated with positive emotions during stress.

The first type of coping they covered was positive reappraisal, which involves focusing on the positive rather than the negative aspects of events. Positive reappraisal can be accomplished by finding opportunities for personal growth, noticing actual personal growth, and realizing how one’s own actions can benefit other people. Through positive appraisal, people can change the meaning of situations in a way that allows them to experience positive emotions. 

The second type of coping they covered was problem-focused coping, which involves thinking and behaving in ways that allow people to attack the underlying cause of their stress. This form of coping is effective when people can establish some amount of control over stressful situations.

The third type of coping they covered was the creation of positive events, which involves taking a mental “time-out” by thinking positively about ordinary events. Examples include savoring a compliment one received in passing and taking a moment to admire a beautiful sunset. Such time-outs give people a short break from ongoing stress.

Why should it matter to me?

If people want to take advantage of the positive emotions that are possible when they are stressed, they may want to consider using positive reappraisal, problem-focused coping, and the creation of positive events.

Source: Folkman, S., & Moskowitz, J. T. (2000). Stress, positive emotions, and coping. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9, 115-118.

Monday, May 3, 2021


Relaxation Programs should be a part of your daily exercise!

Whether you have a severe case of stress or anxiety or you just feel fine, relaxation programs should be a part of your daily exercise routine. They are very inexpensive and have no risks or side effects. 

Relaxation can reduce or eliminate some of the medications you may be using and helps you to keep a positive mind/body connection.

There are many techniques to consider including:

-Progressive Muscle Relaxation

-Autogenic Training



-Self Hypnosis

-Yoga/Tai Chi

-Guided Imagery


These relaxation techniques benefit you by lowering your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and stress hormones. They will raise your blood flow in the major muscles and help relieve muscle pain/tension. The end benefit is improved mood, concentration and confidence.

What are you waiting for?

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