12 curious facts about the brain

Posted on March 28, 2022  in Uncategorized

Everything we do today will affect our thoughts and feelings tomorrow. This amazing property of the brain is called neuroplasticity . The brain adapts well to the surrounding reality, therefore, by changing habits, habitat, you will change your brain. Here are a dozen more interesting facts about how the brain works.

Caffeinated sleep – a recipe for cheerfulness

It’s important to take regular breaks while driving, and a caffeinated nap is the best option. Professor Jim Home and Dr. Louise Rayner of Loughborough University conducted an experiment on a simulated car to find out which of eight options was better for waking up: cold air, radio, break, sleep, caffeine pill, placebo, caffeine pill and sleep, placebo pill and dream. Caffeine and naps top the list. If you drink a cup of coffee and fall asleep for 20 minutes, caffeine will not interfere with sleep: the awakening effect will occur in about half an hour.

Television increases suggestibility

Elton John has publicly called television “brain deforming”. Do not believe him – listen to scientists: according to many scientific studies, television has a bad effect on the brain, especially children. It encourages intellectual passivity and deprives the brain of stimulating experiences. When we watch TV, the electrical waves in the brain take on an alpha pattern, which increases our suggestibility (handy for advertising and propaganda).

Excess weight leads to brain atrophy

Recent studies have shown that obese people are more likely to develop dementia. There are a number of possible explanations: obesity exacerbates sleep apnea (short pauses in breathing), which deprives the brain of oxygen and causes disturbances; increases blood pressure, increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. All this leads to brain atrophy. Obesity destroys the production of the hormone leptin, which is secreted by fat cells and plays a central role in fat metabolism; an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It leads to chronic inflammation of the brain – another cause of disturbances in its work.

Selectivity

You can see something important, but not notice it. The brain filters most of the incoming information from the senses. This is inevitable, otherwise we would not be able to focus on anything. The dangers of selective attention are discussed by researchers Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris . But first, take a short selective attention test (task: count how many passes the players in white footballs gave each other):

Simons warns: “We instinctively believe that attention will focus on what is important to us. But this is a dangerous mistake.” This is the most common cause of car-motorcycle collisions: the car enters an intersection in the motorcycle’s path because the driver does not expect the motorcycle, even if it was obviously in his field of vision.

The brain develops throughout life

“Ten years ago, most neuroscientists considered the brain to be a kind of computer in which fixed functions are formed at an early stage,” says Michael Merzenich of the University of California at San Francisco, one of the first researchers of brain plasticity. “We now know that the brain develops throughout life.”

Weakening of intelligence with age can be avoided

If you offer your brain stimulating, entertaining, new and challenging activities every day, get moderate exercise, eat healthy, and socialize regularly, there is no reason for the mental decline that is commonly associated with old age. Sometimes the process can even be reversed. Studies show that healthy people with increased intellectual stimulation are half the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. “The evidence suggests that intelligence decline is not part of aging, but a symptom of disease,” says John Morris, MD, co-director of the Alzheimer’s Research Center at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

My own doctor

Have you heard of placebo? This is not a trick for the gullible, but quite measurable brain activity. For example, in patients with depression, yellow placebo pills have a stronger effect than blue ones. Large tablets are more effective than small ones. And fictitious injections work better than fictitious pills.

There are a number of conditions that are easily affected by placebos: pain, anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, addiction, nausea. The proportion of patients on whom a placebo works can reach 80%. And that negates the need for real drugs. Suggestibility can relieve pain or cure a cold. Just think how important this is.

The dark side of suggestibility

But brain suggestibility also has a dark side. It’s called nocebo.

“Placebo” is Latin for “please”. “Nocebo” means “I will hurt.” If the placebo, interfering with brain processes, soothes the pain, then the nocebo provokes it. Nocebo can be called in the laboratory. It is also associated with dopamine and opiates. Pain, nausea, depression and anxiety also depend on it. Of course, the nocebo enhances them, not helps to cure them. Nocebo can provoke almost any disease.

Here is an example. Medical students find textbook signs of disease (this is the so-called sophomore syndrome). Have you ever heard of it working the other way around? Is it possible for a student to feel great while studying, for example, the functions of healthy organs? Of course not. We are much more attached to fear than to relief. Describing the nocebo, scientists often mention its faithful companions – anxiety and suspiciousness. For example, knowing that your medication causes nausea, you will almost certainly focus on that side effect and expect it.

In short, by all means avoid negative assumptions, scary stories and evil predictors.

False memories

It’s good to know that you can’t rely 100% on your memories. Memory is not a video recording, but an extended personal narrative. By understanding this, we can better understand people and events.

No one is immune from false memories.

In February 2015, TV presenter Brian Williams was accused of distorting the truth, and he lost his prestigious job. Williams has repeatedly told how, in front of his eyes, a helicopter was blown up by a grenade launcher. According to him, he was very close, he saw the barrel of the installation. In fact, the downed helicopter was very far from where Williams worked.

A similar incident happened with Hillary Clinton. She stated that she was nearly shot by a sniper at the Bosnian airport. It was an invention. The guests (Mrs. Clinton and comedian Sinbad ) were greeted very warmly, there were no incidents.

Clearly, from the public’s point of view, these are all cases of unacceptable lies. However, memory experts often sympathize with such people, as well as witnesses who identify criminals and only realize years later that they pointed to the wrong person.

How brands are changing taste

Research has long shown that branded packaging changes the taste of food. Experiments have shown that, from the point of view of the consumer, the taste of the product is not always its most important quality. For example, “Sweet Soda A” consistently outperforms “Sweet Soda B” in blind tasting, but also consistently loses out when subjects see their names. Here is another example. If the description of an expensive wine mentions a raspberry flavor with a hint of almond, it will taste better than the exact same drink in a plain bottle. Notice not “feels better” or “we think it’s better”. Psychologists say that in all essential respects it is really better. This does not mean that suggestible people eat cat food thinking it is pâté. This means that they eat cat food and it becomes pâté.

Of course, the colors are thickening here. Neuroscientists are sure that no one will confuse frankly bad wine with fine vintage. Expectations are a very serious force, but not limitless. A placebo will not relieve you of pain if you put your hand in boiling water. No amount of suggestion will make you believe that you were the President of the United States. Under hypnosis, you will not act contrary to your values and beliefs.

Glucose is not the only source of fuel

Almost every cell in the body contains at least a few hundred small descendants of an ancient bacterium called mitochondria. The energy that powers us is produced in these mitochondria, and you will be surprised how important they are to quality of life. If your mitochondria stop producing energy for even a few seconds, you will die. The number, efficiency, and strength of mitochondria determine not only whether you develop cancer or a degenerative disease, but also how much energy your brain receives at any given moment.

Mitochondria need oxygen to produce energy, and they also need glucose or fat (and sometimes amino acids). This does not mean that the more carbohydrates you consume, the more energy your mitochondria will produce. In fact, everything is exactly the opposite. Mitochondria work better if they can alternate fuel sources, like a hybrid car. If you eat too much sugar, it becomes harder for your mitochondria to get energy from fat. They begin to produce all the energy from glucose. As a result, the brain does not use fats as fuel, and they begin to be deposited in fat cells, and you gain weight. In the meantime, the brain is rapidly burning up glucose stores, your blood sugar levels are dropping, the inner Labrador perceives this as a threatening situation and turns on the alarm: “SUGAR! WE URGENTLY NEED SUGAR! This is how addiction occurs.

Mood depends on how the brain works

Many people are unaware that mood swings and “uncontrollable” outbursts of anger are a direct result of weaknesses in their brain. The prefrontal cortex requires the most energy to function. Due to its significant energy needs and because it is the last to receive it, this part of the brain is usually the first to suffer when we lack energy. It is the prefrontal cortex that helps control mood. This part of the brain is responsible for personal qualities, decision making and regulation of social relationships. Obviously, you will not perform well if you make bad decisions and act poorly in various situations. Therefore, it is critical that this part of the brain receives enough energy.

The brain is the most mysterious organ in the human body. Scientists continually discover new facts related to his work. How else can they surprise us?

Zero energy. What to do when you don’t feel like it

Posted on March 22, 2022  in Uncategorized

Each of us has such moments in life when interest in work and hobbies disappears. In the morning we wake up lethargic, during the day we force ourselves to do something with great difficulty, and by the evening we lose our last strength. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to get rid of apathy and get back on track.

1. Planning

Sometimes apathy can be explained by the fact that you are simply drowning in business and do not know how to cope with all the responsibilities. Try making a to-do list every morning. Write down everything you plan to do during the day. You should not keep this in mind: this way you only load the brain with unnecessary information and expose yourself to additional stress.

Once you’ve made your list, prioritize three things. If all tasks are equally important, mark the most difficult and unpleasant. It is for them that you need to take it first . Many start with the easiest, but this is not the best strategy. You don’t want to waste energy on a bunch of small responsibilities, and by the end of the day realize that you haven’t started the main thing?

2. Concentration

According to neuroscientists, multitasking is a sure way to distraction, fatigue and low productivity. Therefore, do not spray on several things at the same time. Train yourself to focus on one thing.

Try to eliminate distractions that prevent you from working calmly: put your phone on silent, close social networking pages, turn off sound notifications. Don’t check email every ten minutes; instead, make it a rule for yourself to parse letters three times a day—in the morning, before lunchtime, and in the evening.

We recommend reading: “The Brain with Obstacles”, “Don’t Do It”.

3. Choice

Still not doing anything? You probably have too much on your to-do list. Think about what you should give up. These can be hopeless projects that you suffer from only out of stubbornness, requests from colleagues (learn to say no!), reports that no one needs, endless meetings and conferences.

You can’t do everything, so you’ll have to choose. Free up time for those tasks that are truly important, and get rid of the rest without regrets.

Sometimes the choice is not so easy. For example, when you are torn between several hobbies. If it takes away your strength, then something will still have to be abandoned. It is better to focus on one hobby than to completely deplete your energy supply and lose interest in everything at once.

4. Game

Monotony and monotony can drive anyone crazy. But let’s admit that it is not always possible to deal only with creative tasks. If you find yourself bored at work, add an element of play.

For example, imagine that each task is an enemy that you need to destroy in order to advance to the next level. Or imagine yourself as a spy, temporarily abandoned in enemy territory. The mission today is to pretend to be the perfect employee and earn the trust of the boss.

Consider whether your boring duties can be completed in some non-standard way. Sometimes just a little play is enough to regain vivacity and a sense of optimism.

5. Rest

If you are not a robot, you need small breaks during the day to recuperate. Allow yourself a five-minute rest every hour. During a break, completely disconnect from work problems. You can get some fresh air, have tea with colleagues, or do some light exercise.

A good rest is also needed after work. You will feel much more energetic if you start going to bed on time, exercising, walking more often and sitting at the computer less.

6. Refusing perfectionism

Perfectionists are always dissatisfied with themselves and the fruits of their labor. Such people spend a lot of energy on the most insignificant task, and they perceive any mistake as a catastrophe of a universal scale.

Trying to achieve perfection in everything, you not only waste time, but also earn stress. If your inner critic is forcing you to endlessly rewrite a long-done presentation, silence him. Instead of striving for perfection, learn to settle for “good enough.” Relax, enjoy what you’re doing, and don’t forget to praise yourself often!

7. Morning rituals

In the morning, it is most difficult to be alert and productive. First you set the alarm to lie down for another half hour. Then you tell yourself to leave the house. At the office, spend time talking with colleagues or reading articles online. The longer you swing, the more tasks accumulate and the less you want to start them.

Start small morning rituals that will help you wake up quickly and get ready for work: two minutes of meditation, exercise, contrast showers, checking email, making a to-do list. Get into the habit of starting the day with these simple actions, not procrastination.

8. Finding a calling

If none of the tips worked, you may just be doing the wrong thing. It’s time to think about where your soul lies. Remember your childhood dreams, make a list of all your hobbies, fantasize about the future. What do you want to achieve? What brings you joy? Be honest with yourself.


There is no need to immediately quit and change profession. Just start doing what you love after work and on weekends. This will be your first step towards happiness and freedom.

How to develop simple rules that will improve your life

Posted on March 16, 2022  in Uncategorized

Whether you’re struggling with bad habits, or trying to be more productive at work, or just wanting to be happier, you need clear rules that will get you there in the shortest possible time. We explain why they are so important and how to formulate them.

The power of simple rules

We all use simple rules every day, sometimes without even realizing it. For example, someone decides that they will not open email until they have had their morning cup of coffee, and another that they will no longer go on a second date with someone who talks only about himself.
Perhaps you, without knowing it, rely on the same simple principles in more significant matters, such as choosing clothes, a new diet, or when investing money.

Simple rules are good because they allow you to make the right decisions without delay, without stopping and thinking about each step for a long time.

Unlike more complex strategies where everything is written down to the smallest detail, simple rules give us flexibility and choice, but at the same time help us to remain consistent. They are also ideal for situations where you need to coordinate collective action.

Simple rules can take many forms, but they all have four things in common.

1. There are always few of them, which makes it easy to remember them and focus on the most important aspects of the case.

2. Simple rules are not universal. They take into account the needs of the one who applies them, whether it be an individual or an organization.

3. They apply to well-defined activities or decisions. Rules designed for several situations at once, as a result, are emasculated into vague banal instructions like “do your best.”

4. Simple rules set clear guidelines for us and at the same time leave us the opportunity to act at our own discretion.

Simple rules in practice

Simple rules are shortcut strategies that help you solve even the most complex problems efficiently and with minimal effort. Here are three great real life examples.

1. After publishing several bestsellers in a row, UCLA professor Michael Pollan crystallized three simple rules for healthy eating: “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly vegetable.

Today, Pollan’s rules are stickers on refrigerators in family kitchens around the world. These tips are easy to remember and provide reliable guidance. But at the same time, they leave enough freedom, since they do not specify what exactly you need to eat for lunch – blueberries, cantaloupe or cabbage.

2. The Great Depression crippled many destinies. However, the story tells of one banker – Gerald Loeb , the son of a French wine merchant, who not only rose from the ruins of the economy, but also emerged from them more powerful. He sensed the stock market crash when the clouds were still gathering on the horizon, and helped his clients avoid heavy financial losses.

Loeb ‘s secret weapon was a simple but powerful rule: “If an investment loses 10% of its original value, sell it.”

3. Oddly enough, simple rules are useful in creativity. By narrowing the circle of possibilities, they give impetus to ingenuity. Many great artists deliberately imposed certain restrictions on what to depict, what materials to use, and from whom to draw inspiration from other masters.

Or take, for example, the famous writer Elmore Leonard. At the request of the New York Times, he released his simple rules for writing, which included such as “Avoid prologue”, “When describing dialogue, use only the verb “said”” and “Try to avoid passages that readers are likely to skim through, do not reading.”

Of course, these rules may not apply to other writers. But such are the creative principles of Elmore Leonard, whose stingy and strict style was built on dialogues that energetically moved the plots forward.

You can develop your own set of rules that will help you improve relationships with others, improve your work efficiency, achieve peak self-improvement, improve your health, or, say, achieve material well-being.

Whatever your goals, you will have to go through several steps to create the most effective simple rules. Let’s talk about this process in more detail.

What will we improve?

Usually people are well aware of what aspects of their lives they want to improve. And if not, then with the help of a set of simple tricks you can determine them.

First of all, you need to understand that positive change comes from two sources.

1. You can become more active in activities and activities that energize you, fill your life with meaning and happiness, such as spending more time with your children or contributing to the well-being of your community.

2. The second way to improve is to get rid of what darkens your life, torments, prevents you from breathing deeply and taking everything that it can give from each day (this can be eternal concern about money or poor health). If the severity of these sufferings is mitigated, nervous tension, anxieties and fears will recede.

The more things in your life that give you joy and the less things that make you suffer, the happier you are.

Think about what improvements you most desire. You have a huge choice: from losing weight to a romantic acquaintance, from the harmony between work and personal life to the accumulation of wealth, from the joys of communication to the opportunity to devote more time to yourself.

It would be nice to pick up not one, but several aspects of life to improve, since not all simple rules are equally applicable to everyone. To get started, three to five points will suffice.

And one moment. The first version of the list usually includes very generalized values, such as family, wealth, and health. Try to narrow these concepts down to clearer, more measurable goals. For example, the desire to “eat right” can be specified: “lose five kilos,” “become more energetic,” or “control blood sugar levels through diet.”

At this stage, be sure to think about the following questions.

  • What area of your life do you most want to improve? What are the first three things that come to your mind?
  • What activities bring you the most joy and give you a sense of well-being? What should be done to devote more time to these activities?
  • What aspects of your life cause you the most fear, anxiety, or worry? What would help ease these feelings?
  • Look back at the past five years: do you regret not being able to change something during this time? What would you most regret when you remember your life on your deathbed?
  • How would a trusted friend, life partner, or lover answer these questions for you? (It is very helpful to ask them about this.)

Looking for a bottleneck

Having decided on which side of your life you would like to improve, move on to the next step – finding a bottleneck. This is a kind of stumbling block on your way to achieving one of your personal goals.

For example, if you set out to lose weight, then the bottleneck may be your diet. In this case, you will have to think about how to replace evening snacks or how to wean yourself from eating sweets during work.

The bottleneck is the surest point for applying simple rules.

Simple rules can be productively applied to dozens of different personal activities, but you need to focus your efforts on the cause or decision that will give you the maximum return.

Pay attention to the following points.

1. The best candidates for bottlenecks are recurring actions (rather than one-off solutions). This includes, for example, the way a couple settles money disputes or the distribution of household chores.

2. Simple rules work especially well in situations where the number of options outweighs the resources needed to implement them, such as when you are thinking about where to invest capital or what to spend the few hours that have been freed up.

3. Simple rules best guide decisions that require flexibility, such as when choosing a diet or parenting arrangement for your baby. If you have problems with mechanical memory (say, you always forget what things to pack for your business trip), then it is more appropriate to make a checklist than to fence the rules.

4. Simple rules are great for channeling willpower in the right direction and are therefore especially suitable for dieting, exercising, saving money, and doing other things in which you have to sacrifice momentary temptations for the sake of a big long-term gain.

A bottleneck doesn’t have to meet all of the above criteria, but the more conditions it satisfies, the better the simple rules will work.

Here are a few key questions to help you prioritize.

  • How often do you make such a decision or do such a thing?
  • Does the number of possible choices exceed the amount of time, money, energy, or attention you have?
  • Does this work require willpower?
  • Does this case or decision require some flexibility?
  • Can results be measured so that rules can be tested and improved?

It’s time to make the rules!

Simple rules are formed in many ways. They can be generated:

– based on a deep understanding of one’s own experience, and this is especially effective for people who have a solid load of accumulated knowledge and skills behind them;

– borrowing the experience of other people, transmitted firsthand or contained in books and similar examples from someone’s practice;

– relying on reliable and reliable scientific evidence in any field;

— by negotiation, which is appropriate in situations that involve many participants with diverging goals and opinions on the course of action.

The variability of potential sources of simple rules is not a flaw, but, on the contrary, one of their greatest virtues.

By drawing on different resources, you increase your chances of finding exactly the ideas that work best for your case. Be sure to spend enough time on this (at least a few days). Below are some more useful tips on how to work with rule sources.

1. Turning to science for inspiration, look for valuable ideas that are supported and replicated by the authors of various studies.

Nowadays, many scientists publish popular science books, blogs and give interviews to communicate their findings to a wide audience, and offer diagnostic tools that can be a rich source of potential rules.

2. A lot of ideas can be gleaned from someone else’s experience. For example, if you have taken up the creation of the first western in your literary career, it makes sense to familiarize yourself with the rules for writing a good action movie, which the recognized master of the genre, Elmore Leonard, brought out for himself.

If someone you know is particularly adept at handling a bottleneck similar to yours, it’s a good idea to consult with that person. Don’t limit yourself to friends and family. Spread your networks wider and talk, for example, with someone who attends a book club with you, a sports section, or is a member of the same volunteer organization as you.

3. You can transform into rules and your own life experience. A great start is to collect the most complete information about your recent activities.

Suppose you want to create simple rules for dividing household chores among family members; then you can write down in a journal for a week or a little more who and what did the housework.

When there is enough source material, try to divide examples of your past actions (deeds, decisions) into three categories: those that worked well; those that failed; whatever is left in the middle.

Compare your best and worst examples and see how they differ so you can quickly and accurately identify potential rules.

4. Negotiations acquire special value when the rules are intended not for one, but for several people.

The most common example is the rules governing the relationship of a married couple, children and their parents or club members. When multiple people are involved in a process, it is critical that they all focus on the same bottleneck.

Evaluation of results

You don’t have to go out of your way to make the perfect rules the first time. You will still have the opportunity to evaluate how well they work and, if necessary, adjust them.

Thanks to mobile applications, you can easily collect data and track your progress. The indicators of the effectiveness of the rules are, for example, lost kilograms for people who are losing weight or free dollars to invest for those who save for old age.

It is easier to evaluate the effect of simple rules if you collect a little information about the current state of affairs before you start working with them. The size of last year’s set aside or last month’s weight would be a good starting point.

The timing of control measurements depends on the characteristics of your chosen goal. A week or a month will do to check the progress in weight loss, and if you want to pull up your son in mathematics using simple rules, then you should evaluate progress no earlier than the middle of the semester.

The results will clearly show what works and what does not. And positive changes will inspire you and give you an incentive to strictly follow the rules further.

Three inspiring stories about change

Posted on March 10, 2022  in Uncategorized

The examples of other people show that there are no hopeless situations, and difficulties can become a magical kick towards the Best version of yourself. Of the three books, they chose cool stories about change. Get inspired!

Doors of Opportunity

All people are divided into two types: those who are looking for opportunities, and those who are looking for excuses. I recently got a message from a girl named Anya, who was left alone during the crisis with a $60,000 mortgage. But she persevered and even lives happily ever after.

“Hello Larisa! My name is Anna. A year ago, my financial stability collapsed in an instant. I was among the “lucky ones” – currency mortgages . I allowed myself to cry, scream, roll on the floor, swear, throw things, but … only three days. And that’s it! In three days I have to take a piece of paper, a calculator and go … debit – credit – balance.

The main task is to stay alive and not lose your mind. It was this difficult time that changed the vector of my movement. Ideas began to appear in my head, projects that I am currently working on, and at this stage I just get pleasure and energy from this. During this time I learned a lot and understood a lot. No, I’m not saying that starving, counting every penny and being afraid of losing your job, no matter how exhausting, is cool. Only, whatever one may say, it turns out that “a decisive step forward is the result of a good kick from behind.”

Anya wrote that, fortunately, she had and has a stable job, but thanks to the crisis, she opened a new direction in her life: “I paid, Larisa, paid regularly, no matter what. Now my debt is $25,000. And it’s cool! You will laugh now, but when I ran out of all my skin care products, I started washing my face with oatmeal and oil. Do peels with lemon and salt. And then I mastered the facial gymnastics course and even became a facial gymnastics trainer! Can you imagine? I’m waiting for the certificate! In general, every day I have so many things to do besides work that I have absolutely no time to monitor the dollar.

The summary is this: of course, sometimes “akhtung” happens – and it’s sad, and unpleasant, and blah blah blah.

But we always have a choice of how to respond to it. Either cry and blame someone, or look at the problems from the other side.

The Beatles in Hamburg

Beatles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – arrived in the US in February 1964, initiating the “British Invasion” of the American music scene and producing a string of hits that changed the sound of popular music.

But what happened before America? One important episode. In 1960, when they were still an unknown rock band, they were invited to Germany, to Hamburg.

“There were no rock and roll clubs in Hamburg in those days,” wrote the group’s historian, Philipp Norman. — There was one club owner named Bruno, who had the idea to invite various rock bands. The scheme was the same for everyone. Long speeches without pauses. Crowds of people roam back and forth, and musicians must play incessantly to attract the attention of the public. Here’s what Lennon had to say about it.

“We got better and more confident. It could not be otherwise, because we had to play all night long. The fact that we played for foreigners was very helpful. To reach them, we had to try our best, put our heart and soul into the music.

In Liverpool, we played for an hour at best, and even then we played only hits, the same ones at each performance. In Hamburg, we had to play for eight hours in a row, so whether you like it or not, you had to try.”

From 1960 to the end of 1962, the Beatles visited Hamburg five times. On their first visit, they worked 106 evenings of five or more hours per evening. In the second visit, they played 92 times. The third – 48 times, having spent a total of 172 hours on stage. On their last two visits, in November and December 1962, they performed for another 90 hours. Thus, in just a year and a half they played 270 evenings. By the time the first big success awaited them, they had already given about 1200 live concerts. Do you have any idea how incredible this number is? Most of today’s bands do not give so many concerts during their entire existence.

The harsh school of Hamburg – that’s what distinguished the Beatles from all the others.

“They left without representing anything, and returned in great shape,” writes Norman. “They have learned more than endurance. They had to learn a huge number of songs – cover versions of all the works that exist, rock and roll and even jazz. Before Hamburg, they did not know what discipline was on stage. But when they returned, they played in a style unlike any other. It was their own find.

I hope this story inspired you as much as it did me. If so, then you will definitely have your own Hamburg.

The Power of Games

In the summer of 2009, I got a concussion. The recovery was delayed, and even a month later I was still tormented by constant headaches, nausea and dizziness. I couldn’t read or write for more than a few minutes. Memory failed. Most of the time I felt so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed. My head was in a fog. I had never experienced anything like this before, and this state frightened and depressed me.

I could not explain to friends and family what exactly was happening to me. At some point, I decided to describe my feelings. With great difficulty I chose the words, and this is what I got:

It’s Complicated.

My thoughts are clenched with an iron fist. My brain is under pressure.

If I can’t think, then who am I?

The doctors said that it would take a few months, and possibly a year or more, to feel better, and advised her to avoid anything that triggered the symptoms. That meant no reading, no writing, no running, no video games, no work, no email, no alcohol, no caffeine. I even joked: “In other words, there is no meaning to life.”

One day something happened. I had a crystal clear thought that changed everything. 34 days after my injury – I will never forget this moment – I said to myself: either I will kill myself or turn life into a game. Why into the game? By that time, that is, in 2009, I had already studied the psychology of games for 10 years. In fact, I became the first person in the world to receive a Ph.D. for studying the psychological qualities of players and the role of these qualities in solving real problems. Through years of research at UC Berkeley, I knew that gamers are more creative, goal-oriented, and problem solvers. And more often turn to others for help.

I wanted to turn these features to my advantage. So I created a simple game called “Jane the Concussion Slayer”, which aims to recover from an injury. The game had to come up with a secret identity, find allies, fight the “bad guys” and use power-ups. Jane became my secret identity, making me feel like a hero, determined, not desperate.

The first thing I did as a “concussion killer” was call my twin sister Kelly (author of the bestselling book Willpower) and say, “I play to heal my brain, and I ask you to participate with me.” I easily asked for help, and Kelly became my first ally in the game. Then my husband Kiyash joined us . Together we found the “bad guys” and fought them. The “bad guys” were anything that could trigger concussion symptoms and, as a result, slow down the healing process, such as bright lights and noisy places. We also collected and used bonuses. And that’s all I could do, even on the worst days, to feel a little better, happier or stronger. My favorite bonuses are five minutes of playing with our Scottish Shepherd, eating walnuts (good for the brain), and two walks around the house with my husband.

Despite the simplicity of the game, after a couple of days the fog in my head dissipated. Depression and anxiety subsided. For me it was a miracle. The game has not been a miracle cure for headaches or cognitive symptoms. I experienced them for more than a year, and that year was the hardest in my life. But I no longer suffer. I felt that my fate was in my hands. I started treating myself like a strong person. Those close to me understood how to help and support me.

What happened next shocked me. A few months later, I posted a short video on my blog explaining the rules of the game. Not everyone is familiar with the symptoms of a concussion, and not everyone wants to be their exterminator. So I renamed the game to SuperBetter . Why? After the injury, everyone hoped that soon I would “get better”. But I didn’t want things to be the way they used to be.

I wanted to be a superhero: happier and healthier than before my injury.

Soon I began to receive the first messages from people from all over the world. They invent their own secret identities, seek allies and fight the “bad guys”. They became superheroes in the fight against depression and fears, post-operative and chronic pain, migraines and Crohn’s disease. They managed to cure a sick heart and find a job after many years of failure. SuperBetter was played by people with serious, sometimes fatal diagnoses, such as terminal cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. From their messages and videos, I understood that the game helped them in the same way as it helped me. The players assured that they felt stronger and more courageous, better find a common language with friends and relatives. They became happier, despite the pain and the most difficult period in their lives.

And I thought, “What’s going on? How can a seemingly banal game have such a big impact on vital circumstances?” To be honest, without having tried it on myself, I would never have believed in its capabilities. After recovering, I immersed myself in the study of scientific literature. That’s what I understood. Some people become stronger and happier after an injury. This is exactly what happened to us. Play has helped us experience what scientists call post-traumatic growth. We rarely come across this term in everyday life. We often come across the concept of post – traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is a condition with symptoms of depression and anxiety that can occur in a person who has witnessed or participated in a serious or tragic event. But research has shown that traumatic events, struggles with extremely difficult life circumstances often help people reach and fulfill their potential, and their lives become much fuller.

What to do if there is no way out and dawn is coming soon? 7 tips for those who are in a dead end

Posted on March 4, 2022  in Uncategorized

This happens not only in songs, but also in life. The black stripe will not change to white. Everything falls out of hand. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

Have you noticed that it is with such stories that the most life-affirming books often begin? Many authors have been “at the bottom” – after illnesses, accidents, the loss of loved ones or the loss of the meaning of life. And they realized that if we overcome this period, we can become stronger, bolder and happier than before. Shall we try?

We chose practices and tips from books that helped the authors get out of the impasse. We hope they help you too.

Become a superhero and fight the bad guys

Jane McGonigal , author of SuperBetter , took a long time to recover from a concussion. The condition was so painful that she began to have thoughts of suicide. And then Jane decided to turn it all into a game. This is how the SuperBetter project was born , which helps people all over the world get out of the crisis.

The essence of the game is to set a goal, create a secret identity for yourself and fight the bad guys every day who prevent you from feeling strong and happy. Think who are these bad guys? For some, these are harmful products, for some – depressive thoughts, for some – insomnia . Bad boys are anything that causes anxiety, pain, and stress.

Find at least three bad guys who are ruining your life.

To catch the bad guys, use these leading questions:

What habit do you want to get rid of?

– What distracts you from work?

What causes you physical pain or discomfort?

What is taking your energy?

What thoughts or feelings make you doubt your goals or abilities?

What behavior would you like to stop?

Once you find the bad guys, start developing strategies to deal with them. Think of several ways to respond effectively so you have room to maneuver. For example, you can resist them, replace them with something else, or simply ignore them.

Use the 3:1 technique

Are you in a difficult situation? As a rule, at such moments it is difficult for us to remember something good. We do not notice success, we devalue our achievements. It’s as if we take out a symbolic magnifying glass and find as many misses as possible, as a result of which we feel even worse.

To stop this vicious cycle, do the 3:1 technique: Name three things you did well and one thing you could do better.

Consider an example. Jennifer was afraid to talk about her desires to a young man. She liked to please him, but because of this, she never got what she wanted. Jennifer used the 3:1 technique when she wanted to go to the movies and her boyfriend wanted to go to the pub. Here is what she told him and how she appreciated her approach.

What she said

In a broken, hesitant voice: “Well, we were already in the pub yesterday, and I would like to go to the cinema tonight for the premiere. Then, if you want, we can go to a bar. You do not mind?”

three good things

  1. She expressed her wish.
  2. She showed respect for the young man’s wishes.
  3. She found a compromise.

One thing she would change: next time she would speak in a more confident tone.

The 3:1 technique will allow you to be more objective, build on the positive aspects to replicate your success, and keep evolving. It’s energizing. Try it right now.

Call on the hormones of happiness

Happiness hormones – serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphin – are small but very effective helpers in overcoming the crisis. These are real antidepressants. And we can call them “on request”. Try to increase the content of each hormone of happiness in the blood.

Celebrate small victories to get dopamine. You make some progress every day. Try to see them and say to yourself: “I did it!” Success cannot be too small. As Adam Kurtz says , sometimes waking up is an accomplishment. Heed this advice and catch the smallest sparks of triumph. If you generate such sparks every day, you will gradually become your own best spark plug.

Cry to get endorphins. Crying causes a rush of endorphins due to the physical stress we experience. Of course, you shouldn’t cry all day long. However, if you have a desire to cry, do not restrain yourself so as not to increase internal tension. A few minutes of crying can release the negative emotions you’ve been building up for years.

Hug your dog or cat for oxytocin. Oxytocin is the confidence hormone. It develops when we are around those we trust. But communicating with people is not always easy. Animals are good substitutes – when in contact with them, less oxytocin is produced than during “human” meetings, but they do not betray and do not require explanations. So hug your pets.

To produce serotonin, find a reason to be proud. Try to find some achievement of your own and say to a friend or loved one: “Look what I managed to do!” Or remember situations in which you received public recognition. Pride is a navigator that helps us move forward. Don’t suppress this feeling.

fill the hole

Everyone in life has “holes” – periods of difficulties, trials, doubts. To make it easier to survive them, the pits need to be filled. We can find many examples of such filling in life. Let’s say everyone hates standing in line. Disneyland has made waiting less painful: places where lines form are decorated with colorful scenery, animators dressed as Disney characters entertain people, creating an atmosphere of anticipation of an amazing holiday that brightens up the wait and reduces the intensity of negative emotions.

If you feel like you’ve fallen into a hole, try to fill it with positive experiences.

Allow yourself what you love: watch a good movie, go on vacation, treat yourself to something delicious or beautiful. Do something that will give you bright positive emotions, wake up your senses, dilute the usual series of days. A properly filled hole can even turn into a peak – a moment that you will remember for a lifetime.

Do a mini practice

One day, James Altucher , author of Choose Yourself!, was in a difficult situation. He didn’t want to live. And then I began to do Mini-practice for every day.

“Only this Practice brought me out of the impasse, lifted me from the bottom, saved my life and even directed me to success,” he says. So he shared the Mini Practice on his blog and learned that it helps others too.

For the Mini-practice for each day, you need to do ONE of the following list every day.

1. Get eight hours of sleep.

2. Eat two meals instead of three.

3. Do not turn on the TV.

4. Do not eat fast food.

5. Don’t complain about anything all day.

6. Don’t gossip.

7. Reply to an email you received five years ago.

8. Thank a friend.

9. Watch a funny movie or comedian.

ten . Write a list of ideas – about anything.

eleven . Read a spiritual text – anything that inspires you: the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, whatever.

12 . When you wake up, say to yourself: “Today I will save someone’s life.” And all day, pay attention to situations where you can save someone’s life.

thirteen . Take up a hobby. Don’t say you don’t have time. Learn to play the piano. Take chess lessons. Try yourself in stand-up. Write a novel. Do something that breaks your routine.

fourteen . Write down your daily routine – list everything that you usually do. Then cross out one item and never do it again.

fifteen . Surprise someone.

Be careful on slippery roads

When the mood is at zero, we are able to say things to a friend or loved one that we later regret. Our thoughts are an unreliable ally, so do not trust them and act in haste. They cannot act as a guide to action.

Imagine that you are driving on a cold, dark night on a slippery road. Of course, you can do it – but you will have to act with extreme caution. You need to drive slowly, turning carefully and keeping a distance between your car and other road users.

Apply the same principle when dealing with others. Remember that in moments of crisis, instincts are not your best helpers.

Now is not a good time to tell a person what you think of him, to make a vital choice, or to solve a serious problem. Wait until you return to normal, and the mood elevator is back on the upper floors, and you will realize that you can deal with any problem much faster and more efficiently.

become a tree

Remember a tree during a storm. A strong wind sways its branches from side to side. There is an impression that the tree is not able to withstand the elements. But it is worth paying attention to its roots, as the situation will appear in a different light. The tree is firmly and deeply rooted in the ground, so it cannot be destroyed.

A person who is overwhelmed by strong emotions is like this tree.

He feels vulnerable, capable of breaking at any moment. Therefore, in those moments when a storm of emotions covers you, you cannot stay in its epicenter – at the level of the brain or chest. Direct your attention to the navel area – this is your trunk, the strongest part. Then start breathing slowly. Mentally observe the rise and fall of your belly. Practicing this in a stable posture, such as sitting, will make you feel better.

Just breathe. Don’t think about anything. Breathe through the up and down movement of the belly. Do this exercise for 10-15 minutes and strong emotions will release you.

There is an exit! 7 tips for those with depression

Depression is a very unpleasant disease. It prevents you from living fully and enjoying life. Fortunately, depression can be cured. We’ll talk about this later. For starters, a little test. How accurately do the following statements describe your condition?

  • You feel unhappy all the time. This continues for at least two weeks.
  • Nothing really makes you happy, including your hobbies, your favorite food, and hanging out with your friends. It’s like all the positive emotions have been sucked out of you.
  • You have no strength for anything. Sometimes it’s hard for you to even get out of bed.
  • You cannot concentrate properly on business and get tired very quickly.
  • You are not able to think as clearly as before.
  • It seems to you that life has suddenly lost its colors, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel and never will be.
  • You often feel guilty and think about your own uselessness.

Do you agree with most of the statements? It’s too early to diagnose, but you have every reason to suspect depression. Here are some tips to help you get out of the black hole.

Tip #1: Don’t Blame Yourself

“Come on, you have no reason to be sad. You are strong, pull yourself together, finally! – you can hear from relatives, friends, colleagues. Unfortunately, many still do not understand that depression is not just a bad mood or psychological immaturity, but a serious mental disorder that is accompanied by physical and biochemical changes in the brain.

Depression can result from a combination of several factors. Among them are chronic stress, somatic diseases, traumatic events, genetic predisposition. Whatever the reasons for your depression, it is important to understand that you are not to blame. This is a disease, not weakness, laziness or lack of will.

Tip two: see a specialist

When our teeth hurt, we go to the dentist. With high fever, runny nose and cough, we turn to the therapist. But for some reason we are not in a hurry to visit a psychiatrist, even if we understand that not everything is in order with our psyche. But in vain.

If you constantly cry and do not want to live, you need to go to a specialist. He will figure out what is really happening to you (it may turn out that you do not have depression, but, for example, an anxiety disorder), and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Here the question arises: to whom to enroll? To a psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist? We recommend starting with a psychiatrist – a specialist who has a higher medical education. He will make a diagnosis and, if necessary, prescribe drugs. It is possible that the psychiatrist will advise you to visit also a psychotherapist.

Tip #3: Don’t give up on medication

If you have severe or moderate depression, your psychiatrist will likely prescribe medication for you. No one can force you to take medicine by force, but it is better not to ignore the doctor’s recommendations. Do not be afraid that antidepressants will change your personality or cause addiction. The devil is not as scary as he is painted.

In simple terms, people with depression have an imbalance of hormones in the brain. The task of drugs is to restore it, in particular, to increase the level of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. The body will rebuild and continue to maintain balance on its own.

Like other medications, antidepressants can have side effects. Sometimes so minor that they can be tolerated for the sake of getting rid of depression. Sometimes very serious – in this case, you will need to change the drug or reduce the dose (but only after consulting a doctor).

Medicines will relieve your suffering, but you should not rely on them alone. Healing from depression takes effort.

Tip Four: Identify the Source of Stress

The limbic system of the brain is responsible for emotions. It is she who reacts to danger, releasing stress hormones into the bloodstream and forcing you to make a decision “fight or flight.” It is an important biological mechanism necessary for survival. However, it is not designed to keep you stressed all the time.

When chronically stressed, the limbic system goes into overdrive, and this failure can lead to depression. To heal, you need to turn off the constantly screaming alarm in the brain.

First of all, you need to determine what exactly causes you mental pain. Anything can be a source of stress – an overly stressful job, family troubles, a tyrant boss, unfriendly colleagues, a toxic friend.

The second step is to try to pull out this splinter. Think about how you can make a difference. Of course, leaving a tyrant husband or quitting a job is not easy. But it is much easier than spending your whole life in anguish and anxiety.

No sudden movements needed just sit down, think things through and make the most detailed plan for your salvation. Even if you do not immediately decide to implement it, the first steps have been taken – and this alone will bring you relief.

Of course, there are things that you cannot influence, such as the death of a loved one. Here it remains only to go through the pain, accept what happened and eventually overcome the grief. Over time, you will feel better – perhaps with the help of a psychotherapist and antidepressants.

Tip Five: Watch Your Mind

In depression, we become hostages of automatic negative thoughts. They only appear to be true, but they are actually false beliefs. Let’s take a look at a few common thinking traps.

All or nothing. You can’t get through to a friend and say, “I don’t need anyone.” Or fight with your loved one and accuse them of “never listening to you.” It is obvious that this is not the case.

Mind reading. Your friend replied dryly to the greeting, and now you have been tormented for the third day, trying to understand how you offended him. Familiar? So, this is a completely pointless exercise: you are not a telepath and you are unlikely to guess what is going on in someone else’s head. Most likely, you are not here at all. Maybe this person is just tired, or maybe he just got scolded by his boss.

Catastrophization . You made a small mistake in the report, and your brain is already painting gloomy pictures: getting fired, unsuccessfully looking for a new job, a homeless, impoverished old age, and a lonely death under a bridge. Agree, all this is too unlikely.

Hanging labels. A person with depression tends to stigmatize himself. Get rid of this habit. Failure in the last competition does not make you a “loser”. Being sick doesn’t make you an “irresponsible mother.” Just because you haven’t been able to figure something out in your new job yet, it doesn’t mean you’re “stupid”.

To cope with depression, you need to change the way of thinking that undermines you from the inside. The next time you take on labeling yourself, predicting all sorts of horrors, or reading other people’s minds, remind yourself that these are just perceptual distortions.

Tip #6: Save energy

Depression lowers performance. You get tired very quickly. Motivation and rational thinking suffer. Every action that a healthy person costs almost no effort is given to you with great difficulty. What you used to do in an hour can now take a whole day, or even two. How to survive this period with the least losses?

Try to leave only the most important things on your to-do list — the things that affect your or someone else’s life — and cross out the rest. Cancel meetings that deprive you of energy, give up unnecessary part-time work, ask loved ones to take care of household chores.

Break the remaining tasks into very small steps. Let “open mail”, “read a message from a client”, “clarify information”, “write a reply”, “send a letter” will be five different tasks. Praise yourself for every item you complete. Now any action for you is a real victory.

Try to make a clear and detailed plan in the evenings for the next day. Then in the morning you will not have to load your brain with unnecessary work: you just need to follow the instructions. In addition, planning itself calms the nervous system.

Tip Seven: Replenish your “bank account”

Imagine that your mental energy is a bank account. Then everything you do during the day can be divided into two categories: income and expenses.

Expenses are, for example, morning preparations, work, household routine … Incomes are laughter, reading, food, movement, sleep. If you are overtaken by depression, you need not only to spend your resources more economically, but also to replenish your account more often. There are many ways to restore energy balance. Here are a few of them.

Physical activity. Exercise stimulates the production of serotonin, norepinephrine and endorphin, helps reduce anxiety levels, and has a positive effect on sleep quality. Of course, during depression it can be hard to even just get out of bed. But if you can still move, move. And it is not at all necessary to train for several hours in the fitness room, even a ten-minute walk to the store will be beneficial.

Warm bath. Helps to relieve stress a little, relaxes and improves mood at the end of a hard day.

Meditation. It alleviates the symptoms of depression, helps reduce anxiety, achieve a state of peace, harmony and concentration. True, for meditation to work, you need to do it every day. And one more thing: under certain conditions ( prepsychotic ), it can provoke deterioration.

Communication with those who recharge your battery. Usually during depression, we do not seek social contacts. However, we still need support. We offer this strategy: limit communication with people who seem to suck energy out of you, but leave around you those with whom you feel good and who can provide moral support (by the way, these are not always friends or relatives). Relief can also come from an online group where people share their ways of coping with depression.

6 types of phobias and “winter depression”: how life in a high-rise building affects us

We strive to live in cities: educational institutions, offices of large companies, entertainment and intellectual events are concentrated there. At the same time, we do not notice what influence the city has on us – even its architecture. We tell how life in high-rise buildings changes our well-being and what to do about it.

High-rise buildings: 6 types of phobias

Citizens most often live in high-rise buildings. That being said, there is an obvious truth: many people are afraid of heights. Environmental psychologist Robert Gifford believes that people are not adapted to live high above the ground. “For our ancient species, living on the upper floors is a completely new phenomenon. The conclusion suggests itself that high-rise buildings are unnatural for us, and it is possible that everything unnatural is somehow harmful.

Gifford says that, on average, upper-floor residents “develop at least six kinds of phobias.”

What are these phobias?

– one of the neighbors or relatives will fall or jump out of the window;

– during a fire they will be trapped;

– an earthquake will break out;

– there will be a terrorist attack;

– outsiders will enter common areas (and commit a crime);

– they are constantly attacked by viruses of infectious diseases.

Vertigo: The Story of Mrs. El -Dinnaoui

Here, for example, is the story of Mrs. El -Dinnaoui . In March 2013, an unusual decision was made in court: the London authorities had to relocate the tenant several floors below. The El -Dinnaoui family lived on the ninth floor, but after the birth of their third child, they needed a bigger apartment. They gave them an apartment, only seven floors higher. Already during the viewing of new housing on the sixteenth floor, Mrs. El -Dinnaoui fainted in the elevator.

At the hospital, she was diagnosed with a panic attack caused by “an incurable fear of heights.”

Her husband immediately refused the proposed living space. Local authorities assured that the woman could well adapt to life upstairs – she would curtain the windows and live for herself, as if on the ninth. The court, however, sided with the woman and ordered the officials to allocate another apartment.

Stressors and “winter depression”

In many high-rise buildings there are things that provoke stress. Although they could have been avoided. Architectural decisions have formed the following sources of stress:

  • lack of sunlight;
  • light pollution from street lamps and billboards;
  • dense traffic and street noise (high-rise buildings are most often located near highways);
  • traffic vibrations;
  • poor ventilation.

Residents of densely built cities (such as Hong Kong) experience a lack of natural light, which leads to rapid fatigue and the so-called “winter depression”. Correcting this situation is real: you can use reflectors to redirect light from the upper floors to the lower ones. They are installed in each apartment at an angle of 45 ° to the window.

Everyone is looking at me

Another source of stress is the dense arrangement of buildings. For example, residents of the new and prestigious N-Y-O- Bankside residential complex in London’s South Bank complained that visitors to the observation deck of the new Tate Modern building were watching them.
N-I-O Bankside and visitors to the new Tate Modern building

This problem of high-rise buildings is usually not taken into account by either developers or residents. For example, the director of the Tate gallery suggested simply hanging tulle on the windows. In essence, he stated that if a person chooses transparent windows, then he does not mind being watched. Don’t be surprised that everyone is watching.

Lack of external territory

In 1972, at the initiative of the UK Department of the Environment, a study was conducted on how mothers with small children feel on floors above the first. Housewives with children were most dissatisfied: the floor did not bother them, but they really wanted a house with a garden. Later, a study was conducted that compared living in an apartment with living in a house.

The results are stunning: apartment dwellers fell ill 57% more often, and their rates of neurosis were eight times (!) Higher.

Psychologists have suggested that the lack of external territory is to blame. Spaces where children could play, mothers could walk, and fathers could relax after a hard day’s work.

Is there a way out?

We made sure that life in a high-rise building is often not sugar. However, what to do? Move or endure?

The architects offer an obvious solution – to design an improved multi-storey housing equipped with green areas. It is these small gardens that make the yard well-groomed and allow people to relax. Residents of buildings become more attached to the house, because the atmosphere is inviting, regenerating and relieves stress.

Bedok-Kurt in Singapore

The first example of new high-rise buildings was Bedok-Kurt in Singapore. The new homes have “tropical patios” on each level, one per apartment. They are separated by ventilation shafts. The corridors between the apartments imitate kampongs (small Indonesian villages), they overlook the courtyards – you can say these are “tropical streets in the sky.”

Bosco Verticale in Milan

An unusual complex of skyscrapers, Bosco Verticale, has opened in Milan: its creators planned to build a vertical forest in the very center of the city. Eight hundred trees and four thousand bushes were planted.

Skyscraper in Redovre

The skyscraper in Copenhagen’s Rødovre district has yet to be built, but will be oriented to the north so that the glazed “gardens in the sky” face south, where there is more sun. The multi-level Sky Village could become a model for future high-rise building projects.

The world is changing. Today, more and more architects understand that people with average incomes should not live in “concrete” boxes, and more “human” skyscrapers should be created. So that each resident has his own private space, good neighborly environment, light, air and a green island of happiness.

Depression in everyday life, a downward spiral and 3 ways to cheer yourself up

Many people have moments when everything seems complicated and useless. It turns out that such sensations are just a by-product of the interaction of the components of the body’s neural network. For most, they pass quickly, like a breath of breeze. But the neurophysiology of each person is unique, so for some of us, depressive moments develop into long and difficult states.

Neurophysiologist, Ph.D. and author of the new “Ascending Spiral” Alex Korb knows how neurophysiology helps to cope with depression, negative thoughts and conditions that “attack” us from time to time. Today we will talk about the symptoms of depression, what a “downward spiral” is and how to cheer yourself up even on the gloomiest day.

Depression is a downward spiral

We all know what it means to get into the downward spiral of life. For example, one Friday evening you are invited to a party, but you suddenly decide: “It seems to me that it will not be fun” – and do not go. Instead, you lie on the couch and watch TV until late. Sleep long the next day, and when you wake up, you feel overwhelmed. Nobody calls, you feel lonely, and even more so you don’t want to communicate with anyone. Nothing is interesting, and here you are already lying on the couch all weekend.

The feeling of discomfort and loneliness intensifies, and you no longer know what to do with it. Either solution seems terrible. This is the beginning of a state that is usually called depressive.

Downward spirals occur because the events around you and the decisions you make change the way your brain works. If the direction of thoughts changes for the worse, you begin to lose control over the situation, the brain switches to the negative, which grows like a snowball.

Fortunately, in most people, the activity of various neural groups “reverses” in time and stops the brain from going into a tailspin. But many are not so lucky.

What does depression really look like?

A common misconception is that being depressed is just being sad all the time. In fact, everything is much more serious. In reality, a depressed person is not just sad – he is unemotional. He has a void inside. The person feels insecure. He has no hope. Those things that once liked are no longer pleasing: no food, no friends, no hobbies. The energy is going somewhere.

Everything seems very difficult, fears appear, but it is not possible to find an explanation for this. Nothing seems worthy of the effort it takes. It is difficult for a person to fall asleep and it is difficult to sleep. Pains and indispositions respond in all body more sharply, than before. It is impossible to concentrate on something, anxiety, shame and loneliness are constantly oppressing.

The problem with the downward spiral of depression is that it doesn’t just push the person deeper into that state, it keeps them there.

Life changes that can overcome depression seem difficult to implement. Healthy sleep would help out, but insomnia takes power. The joy of communicating with friends would help a lot, but there is no desire for contact and no desire to disturb anyone. The brain “loops”.

How Depression Occurs: A Neurophysiologist’s Perspective

Depression is caused by a malfunction in the interaction of neural circuits with each other and with the outside world. Imagine the simplest pair of neurons as a microphone and a speaker.

If you arrange them in a certain way, there is an unpleasant echo effect that scratches your hearing. Position the microphone and speaker a little differently and the problem will disappear. But it arose not because of the microphone or speaker – individually, they work fine. This is a matter of adjusting the system and its individual parts.

The downward spiral of depression is vaguely similar to this example: it is fueled by the special tuning of your neural circuits.

At its core, depression is associated with the problem of “breakage” of neural groups responsible for thinking and feeling. Although our brain is divided into dozens of regions, the neural circuits that cause depression are concentrated in just a few of them.

Two parts of the brain can be blamed for causing depression in people: the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. To put it simply, the prefrontal area is responsible for thinking, and the limbic part is for sensations. In depression, something goes wrong in the normal mode of interaction between these two areas.

The rational prefrontal cortex is supposed to help the limbic system, but in depression, something in this connection goes wrong.

3 ways to cheer yourself up

And now – a little practice. If you are depressed, frustrated and do not want anything, try (even forcefully!) These tricks. You’ll see, it will be easier for you.

  • If you feel that your mood is rapidly deteriorating, try go to places where there will be people around, such as a library or a cafe. You don’t even need to contact anyone. Simply being with other people in the same physical space will help.
  • Thinking about different versions of the same event activates the mid- prefrontal cortex, and this increases control over how the limbic system controls the emotional state. As a result, it improves.
  • The brain, as a result of versatile activity, leaves a lot of “garbage”, primarily in the form of decomposed neurochemical substances. Just like in your kitchen, these residues must be removed from the body, otherwise they will begin to accumulate and harm. In a dream, a similar “cleaning” plan takes place, which is extremely important for the normal functioning of the brain. So sleeping is a great idea.

In general, there is always hope. Scientific research has shown how small changes in lifestyle and human behavior can change the work and the neurochemical component of the activity of certain sets of neurons. And as the brain and the neurochemicals it produces change, so does the course of depression.

You cannot always change your location, but you can change the direction of your movement. What if, instead of diving, your life went into an upward spiral? Try it.

Warning: if you suspect that you have a depressive disorder, consult a doctor! The recommendations in the book can help, but should by no means be the only way out of the current situation. Be healthy!

Become the best version of yourself: June – depression is canceled

2016 will be a year of change. If you want to take control of your life, break down barriers and achieve incredible results, then you will love our program for every month. And if the rosy summer time doesn’t inspire you and you can’t get rid of negative thoughts, then now is the best time to deal with it. Once and forever.

Do you feel depressed?

Although summer is considered a carefree time, many do not pay attention to it, focusing on personal or professional problems. And if you do not solve them on time, then you risk earning unpleasant psychological consequences. Start by asking yourself:

· Do you wake up in the morning thinking: “I should have…”, “Why didn’t I…”, “I am hopeless…”, “I will never/will not get…”?
· Do such thoughts appear at other moments of your ̆ life (driving, walking, when you fall asleep) – at any ̆ moment when the defense of your consciousness weakens?
· Do you avoid mirrors because you don’t like your reflection? · When you make a mistake, do you scold yourself, mentally calling yourself stupid, idiot, jerk? · Do you feel unworthy of your partner?
Have you ever had to worry about it all the time after some tactless actions or mistakes at work? Do you have obsessive thoughts about such things? · Have you ever “scored an own goal” when you were already close to success, but made a mistake at the last ̆ moment?
· You don’t like to think about your childhood? · You don’t care about your health?
Are you constantly comparing yourself to others (“Why can’t I be like him?”)?
Are you putting yourself in a dangerous position?

If you’ve answered yes to the above questions multiple times, it’s time for a change. Heed the tips we’re going to talk about today.

Accept your reality

Believe it or not, your road to self-improvement starts in the trash. Yes, exactly where there is a mountain of clothes you don’t wear, a bunch of mismatched ̆ kitchen utensils ̆, a stack of newspapers and letters to sort through, countless packages of hotel soap and shampoo that you’ve been hiding in your locker for years. . This is where your path to freedom begins. Isn’t it amazing? You get down to business right where you are. This is a slow ̆ process, but any ̆ superfluous ̆ object that you get rid of brings you closer to freedom.

To put things in order, we must first accept our current position.

Start where you are – there is no other place to start.

– You are scared? Start with this.
– Are you heartbroken? Start with this. Are you overwhelmed and confused? Start with this.

We suggest trying drastic measures: love your current condition, no matter how bad it is. Love your difficulties, your pain, your fear, your heartbreak, your overwhelm, your confusion. Loving all this does not mean denying change. On the contrary, you love your life because you want to change it. Love is the only force in the world that can transform. It acts with faith in the invisible: in the light within the darkness, order within the chaos. Love is full of courage to enter the darkness to release the light. She intends to plunge into chaos to create order.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness will not drive out darkness—only light can. Hatred will not drive away hatred – only love can do it. Love is the strongest force of transformation. Loving something beautiful is easy. But transformation begins with love for something for which it is difficult to feel such feelings.

There is no such emotion that cannot be transformed by showing firmness, determination, courage and attention.

Write down your thoughts

You have probably heard the expression “a stone from the soul.” It is believed that this improves a person’s well-being. Perhaps you yourself even felt relieved after you “spoke out” to someone, describing all your worries and fears. After “removing a stone from the soul”, the mode of operation of the brain in stressful conditions changes. As a result, even in a tense situation, you can achieve greater success.

Writing down your feelings before an important test or presentation helps to avoid a psychological breakdown.

If you constantly doubt your abilities, then a frank presentation in writing of ideas that affirm your self-sufficiency can eliminate some of these doubts.

Learn to feel and express emotions

People ̆ in a depressed state have a special ̆ talent to eliminate feelings. They can show themselves and the world that they do not experience normal human emotions, they are very good at building protective barriers of repression, isolation and intellectualization, and they bring self-denial and self-sacrifice to such an extent that it seems that
the “I” completely disappears.

Expressing feelings helps to feel them more strongly. Ask anyone who has played in the theater: when you show sadness on stage, you experience it yourself. When the role is joyful, the artist is having fun. In an experienced actor, artificial mood swings are short-lived, but in everyday life, “changing masks” often helps to experience the emotions expressed in action . Role plays and reconstruction in group and family therapy are based on this principle. Forcing a patient to speak out what he has been holding back for so long opens the floodgates on a river of emotions. Given the relief it brings, it’s amazing why so many people avoid expressing their emotions not out of rational choice, but out of habit or fear.

Exercise: Learn to Express Yourself
Sit comfortably in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for half an hour. Freely and without embarrassment in expressions, express what is in your heart. Don’t worry if it comes out incoherently: just let yourself talk about the events of the day, the problem that occupies your mind, memories, fantasies, etc. As you talk, keep track of how your body feels. Are you sad? Are you depressed? Are you angry? Happy? Try to put these feelings into words. Or maybe you feel constrained? Concerned? Wary? Try to determine where these sensations come from, and leave them in the past.

Your partner should listen sympathetically and very carefully. He can only make remarks that draw emotions out of you even more. The assistant should not interfere with his thoughts, ask for clarification, criticize or change the subject. Instead, he should say something like, “That must have pissed you off” or “I think you’re enjoying it, but I don’t quite understand why.” In other words, your partner’s comments can only be directed towards the emotions in your story.

With a little practice, you will find that you have more feelings than you thought. This is exactly what needs to be achieved. People with depression tend to over-control the expression of their emotions. Perhaps if you can be more expressive with your partner, you can do it in other situations as well. Think about it.

Goodbye depression!

Today, one in four people experience depression at least once in their lives. And no wonder: in the modern world, people face a huge number of stressful situations every day. Any of them could be the last straw.

Chronic fatigue, inattention, memory impairment, a sense of hopelessness, derealization , low self-esteem … If this is all about you, it is possible that you need urgent treatment!

The New Year holidays are the best time to slow down a little, understand yourself and learn how to be happy. Shall we start?

What is depression?

First of all, depression is a disease, not a weakness of character, as many believe. In confirmation – a small list of people who survived this painful condition: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sigmund Freud, Joan Rowling, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain.

Unfortunately, most people are ashamed of depression and self-flagellate instead of taking treatment. But acknowledging a problem is the first step towards solving it.

Depression is not just melancholy or sadness. Emptiness, fatigue, tension, absent-mindedness, loss of meaning in life, a sense of hopelessness, lack of connection with reality, low self-esteem are far from all symptoms of depression. After all, it affects thoughts, feelings, behavior, and even the body.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that depression physically affects our brain. The hippocampus shrinks significantly, causing problems with memory and concentration. But there is good news: this process is reversible.

How does depression occur? Psychotherapist Richard O’Connor writes:

“Depression is the result of the impact of current stress on a vulnerable person. Stress is enough for a person to cross the invisible line and fall into a vicious circle of repressed thoughts, self-destructive behavior, guilt and shame, neurochemical changes. These elements both evoke and reinforce each other.”

Traps of thinking

“My friends, relatives and colleagues do not really know me, they do not even suspect how insignificant I am. I’m absolutely incapable of anything.” Depressed people often engage in this kind of internal monologue. The first step on the path to healing is to learn to notice such thoughts and perceive them as something alien, which has nothing to do with your personality.

Here are some typical thinking mistakes of a depressed person:
Expecting the worst.
In this way, depressed people try to protect themselves from disappointment. Some of them have experienced betrayal or aggression from those they trusted. Frustrated expectations can also relate to other events, such as failure to succeed.

Self-flagellation. The thoughts “I can’t”, “I don’t have a chance”, “I’m not capable of anything”, “I’m disgusting”, “I’m trapped” constantly appear in a person suffering from depression.

Fatalism. A depressed person usually believes that some external forces influence him. He believes that he cannot really change his life and decide something in his destiny.

Selective attention. A person pays attention only to what can confirm his expectations. So he tries to avoid stress and feel safe. But such behavior leaves no chance to see the love and respect of others, the beauty of the world, and so on.

Depressive logic (excessive responsibility, catastrophization , overgeneralization, self-obsession and other destructive thought habits).

How to change your mindset

Negative thoughts are just a bad habit. Fortunately, you can get rid of it: regular mindfulness meditation will help reprogram the brain and remove obsessive anxiety. Start with the following simple exercise.

Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for at least half an hour. Turn off all phones, TV, music. Sit comfortably. Place your feet under your knees, but without stretching. Sit up straight with your back straight. The weight of the head is directed down to the spinal column.

Close your eyes. Breathe calmly, slowly and deeply. You can focus on a word or phrase by linking the pronunciation to the rhythm of breathing – “inhale … exhale”, or something else according to your mood. Imagine that distracting thoughts and sensations are bubbles on the surface of a still pond. They rise and burst, the circles diverge and disappear. The water surface is calm again. Don’t rate anything. Do not worry if you are doing the exercise correctly.

Remember that intrusive thoughts and feelings are normal noise generated by the brain; it is used to working this way under stress.

To drive away intrusive thoughts, you can imagine putting them in a box or writing them down – see later. Or tell yourself, “No thanks.” Don’t get angry if you get distracted, just focus on your breathing again.

Sources of pride and self-respect

Reconsider your view of achievements, praise yourself more often and be proud of your successes, even if they seem insignificant to you. Finding a few minutes to read a book with a naughty child is already a major achievement, not only because it is difficult to find time, but also because it has benefited the child.

Whether you love your job or not, it’s important to remember that it brings a lot of pride. You get up and get to the office on time, stay there for the rest of the day, sometimes doing difficult or unpleasant things. It can also be a source of self-respect!

Recall right now for what recent achievements you are worthy of praise. Maybe you fed a stray kitten, supported a friend in a difficult situation, or just did your morning exercises?

Depression Behavior

Depressed people are often procrastinators . By postponing important things for later, they protect their own unstable self-esteem. If something doesn’t work out, then you can always find an excuse: “Now if I had more time!”

In this case, you need to gradually accustom yourself to action. Get rid of perfectionism and in no case expect the perfect result, but just take on real goals. First, you will experience relief when you complete a task that you have long been afraid to start. And secondly, work often helps to distract from problems. But even here it is impossible to go too far.

Sometimes the opposite habit develops: the desire to work until you drop. A depressed person does not know how to prioritize and mindlessly moves forward. The fear of stopping and being alone with emptiness makes you work without respite.

Those who are prone to workaholism need to learn how to relax. You can find a hobby and improve in it (then there will be no feeling of guilt for inactivity). Better to get used to enjoying doing nothing. Walking, meditating, playing with animals, or listening to music are great ways to pass the time.

Attention to your body

Depressed people do not care about their health. They seem to say in plain text: “We don’t deserve better.” These people may neglect physical activity, medical help (or turn to charlatans), develop poor eating habits, and abuse alcohol and drugs.

Such a careless attitude towards oneself and attempts to harm the body are considered skills of depression. This is another way to avoid meeting the real world.

Patients with depression need to learn to listen to their body and take care of it. Everything is important here: proper nutrition, timely rest, and exercise. The latter is especially useful.

Several studies in older age groups have shown that brisk exercise three times a week is as effective as medication in the short term, and that participants who continue the exercise program are significantly more likely to avoid future episodes of depression.

brain training

Really severe depression causes serious changes in the brain. This leads to the fact that we lose the ability to experience pleasure from something good: we are let down by degraded receptors for joy hormones. But don’t worry. Scientists have found out that the brain can be trained. We ourselves are able to influence it.
You can get rid of “depression skills” by improving your lifestyle. The facts confirm that by changing habits, we erase old neural connections in the brain and replace them with others.

In this article, you will learn how to make friends with the hormones of happiness and become an optimist.

The UK National Institutes of Health recommends mindful meditation as a cure for depression.