Total 228 Blog Posts

  • 24 Mar
    Oyindrila Basu

    How does mindfulness reduce anxiety?

    mindfulness

    You must be wondering, again a new term for dealing with anxiety! What is it? How can it help? Yes of course, there is an answer. We never knew that something so beautiful and simple can actually be a modifying agent for behavioural problems, especially anxiety.

    We have spoken about power pose, we have spoken about determination for managing anxiety, and now we are into mindfulness which can be a scientific solution to your panic attacks.

    Mindfulness is your purposeful concentration on the present, and the better you practise it, the more you can keep yourself aloof from the thoughts of past and future.

    You can meditate focussing on the present moment of joy, or you can practice yoga with mindfulness. Try to feel the different sensations on your physical self during the daily life activities. For e.g. the breeze on your face, the dewdrops on your feet, tune in to sensing the fabric of your clothes on your skin. As you follow this process, you will notice that you are slowly and gradually being swept away from panicky thoughts like ‘what ifs’.

    How can mindfulness help in reducing anxiety?

    • Mindfulness changes the brain- Amygdala which is the centre of all emotions is hypersensitive to perceived dangers. Whenever, it can foresee danger, whether it is real or not, it tries to warn you, alarm you, and this comes in the form of anxiety, your ‘what if’. It has been scientifically proven, that practising mindfulness-
    1. Increases the density of the brain- 27 minutes of mindfulness can affect the density of the prefrontal cortex in a positive way which is responsible for calming down.
    2. Decreases the size of amygdala- the main player for anxiety reactions, the amygdala is reduced in size.
    3. Increases the level of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)- this is the chemical generated in the brain for reduction of hyperactive anxiety reactions.
    4. Decreases the cortisol- which is the main stress hormone in the brain.
    5. Activates relaxation response- contrary to the flight response, associated with nervousness and panic attacks, is the relaxation response which relates to settling down of the over-active sensations of anxiety, worry and stress.
    • Mindfulness improves well-being- By focussing on ‘now’ many people have been able to prevent themselves from getting caught up in worries, and thereby adhered to a satisfied life.
    • Mindfulness improves physical health- if well-being is just not enough motivation for you to start up with something new, know the health benefits of the practice-
    1. Helps relieve stress
    2. Mindfulness can treat heart disease
    3. Lowers blood-pressure.
    4. Fights with gastrointestinal difficulties
    5. Improves your sleep practices.

    Mindfulness attributes its roots to Buddhism, where it was a kind of formal prayer. Later, Professor emeritus Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, helped to bring the practice of mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine and demonstrated that practicing mindfulness can bring improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms as well as positive changes in health attitudes and behaviours.

    How can you practise it?

    • Mindfulness requires concentration. As you start focussing on the meditation, you will observe that your inner thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations are getting channelized without any judgemental reaction.
    • Watch over what comes and goes in your mind. Focus on the bodily sensations. Every day, there are a multiple collections of emotional and physical sensations that meet us, the idea is to get carried away with them, rather than holding on to any particular thought or sensation and ruminate on the past or future.
    • Initially, you may feel the pressure of trying too hard, such that it gives you a feeling of boredom, rather than relaxation. Don’t worry, keep practising, it will help you on a long run.

    Accepting your anxious thoughts is the key to reducing it. You have to acknowledge that you are worried, only then will meditation help.

    Ways of practising-

     

    1. Sit on a chair with your back straight or cross-legged on the floor, for this practice.
    2. Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing while chanting a particular word, expression or ‘mantra’ that can help relax your mind. Avoid the recurrent thoughts that provoke.
    3. Focus on small bodily sensations like itch, hiccup, or tingling, focus on each part from head to toe.
    4. Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Name them “sight,” “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” or “touch” without judgment and let them go.
    5. Allow emotions of joy, anger, frustration, despair and sadness to come and go without judgement. Do not get your mind involved in evaluating them.
    6. Cope with your cravings. Your desires will come, but don’t let them haunt you, just let them pass off. Concentrate more on your breathing regularity.

    Keep trying till you succeed. Often we fall short of time for yoga and meditation, but if you miss your schedule, try practising some other time in the day. Perseverance will help fight your anxiety.

    Image source

     

     

     

     

  • 24 Aug
    Oyindrila Basu

    Surprising Addictions

    We all speak about ‘quit smoking’ or letting go of alcohol, because they are things that become addiction if not overcome with time. Drugs are addictive and they slowly affect your internal organs, hence we say a big ‘NO NO’ to them.

    But what is this addiction? Is it only related to intoxicating objects?

    Well anything that alters your mood is an addiction.

    We have earlier spoken on checking your addiction with substance abuse in How to deal addiction with a tough handbut today we will speak of some other forms of addiction, which are present in our daily lives, but we do not identify them as addictions; nor do we do anything to recover from them.

    Some common forms are easily identified like addiction with the internet games, social media, and networking, either via texting or social networking, which takes up maximum time of our day; subconsciously, we focus more on messaging and commenting on posts, rather than talking to our family. Some of us are shopaholics; that is a form of addiction too.

    We are becoming really mechanical in our approach towards different things. However, some surprising addictions are there, which are really difficult to get rid of, but we do not realize that they are addictions.

     

    Smart phones and tablets: We really don’t know, what is so fascinating or important in our phones, that we keep scrolling up and down; if not anything, we just check the calendar; similarly, for tablets, if you are using it regularly.

    The average mobile phone user checks their device 150 times a day, and a recent study cited that 94% of college students reported feeling troubled when not carrying their phones with them. 80% of them said they felt jealous when someone else held their phones, and 70% said they expected to have feelings of depression, panic and helplessness if their phones were lost or stolen.

    A behaviour becomes a habit, and then a habit becomes a harmful habit. It has a neurological basis, when we regularly carry our phones, we are prone to check something or the other, and this slowly increases in probability, till we become impulsive towards it, just like we lock the door of the bathroom, out of practice.

    Smart phones are designed to make you check it again and again. However, this can cause cyber sickness and nausea, but we do not just give up.

    Digging and biting nails- some people say that tension and anxiety make them bite nails, however, this is a form of addiction. Digging on the corners of the nail is an obsessive compulsive action; the action gives you a sensation which, in Freud’s language is an indirect sexual urge; a sensation which is also associated with sucking of thumb or something for a child, hence it becomes an addiction, and we cannot get rid of it easily.

    Tanning: You won’t believe, many people across the globe are addicted to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. We Indians crave for #FairAndLovely skin, while many people, especially in America, are fond of getting a slightly dusky complexion, and for that they can lay down in the sun for hours; chances are that they will visit the beach as often as twice a week. In fact, according to Dr. Bryon Adinoff, an author of the study, the brain responds to UV light in areas that are associated with reward, causing some people to develop an addiction (“Tanorexia”) despite the potentially fatal health risks of tanning.

     

    Lip Balm: Have you ever imagined, that helpful stick that protects your lip skin during the winters, can become an addiction? But it is true; some people just get obsessed with the idea of keeping their lips moistened and hydrated, so much so that they always carry a lip balm in their bag; many a times, of a different flavour. Gradually, they get addicted to the taste and smell of the cosmetic. This is because while lip balm offers a temporary moisture boost for dry lips, it can interfere with the process of cellular turnover and the production of natural moisture, leading you to apply more and more lip balm to counteract these drying effects. It may not be life-threatening, but it can be the cause of many illnesses.

    Falling in love: Love and relationships complete our lives, but for some people, it is an addiction. They fall in love, and get off with it soon, and this becomes a habit, such people cannot stay single even for a day, they love being linked to someone or the other of the opposite gender, and they claim they are in love.

    Exercise: Exercise is a healthy habit; it keeps you healthy in mind and body, however, for some people it becomes not just a habit, but an addiction, so much so, that they won’t give up exercise, even if they are ill or injured. Now that can be dangerous.

     

    How can such addictions be cured?

    Unfortunately, addiction is not an acute illness like jaundice or diarrhoea, where a direct medicine can be implied.

    1. Cognitive behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be much of a help for recovering yourself of this urge of going back to your habit. CBT is especially popular for its non-invasive and non-drug-based approach to therapy, which allows the patient to exercise more control over treatment than with other options.

     

    1. Controlled environment- Sometimes, we can use a controlled environment to get rid of the habit, we are in. For e.g. you choose to be without your phone for a day; intentionally, forget your phone at home, and go for office; you will be disturbed initially, but, when you practice this for a couple of alternate days, you will no longer feel anything compulsive about your smartphone.

     

    1. Self-control and routine set- start your schedule from a fixed day. You need to make up your mind that you need to free yourself of the addiction. Promise yourself that you will not look into Facebook posts for more than half an hour in a day, and maintain this timing religiously.

     

     

    1. Spend more time in other activities- after you get home, instead of switching on the TV or computer game, or facebook, read a book, do some study on subject of your interest, practice some yoga, or just help your partner in cooking. Do some cleaning for the house. When you are engaged in something, you won’t feel the urge for addictive things.

     

     Image source 1 2 3 4 5

  • 22 Aug
    Trisha Ray

    Backup plans affect your chances of Success:

    backup plan

    Success is the key mantra of today’s living society. The first step that we take while thinking about achieving success is planning. Planning, deliberating, analysis and action are ascertained to be the four common steps we go through while searching for success.

    Planning for success can be stressful and energizing at the same time. Depending on the situation, environment and locus of control, someone might start planning for success.

    In the initial one or two days, there is a lot of energy around the planning. But slowly when stress starts creeping in, people generally start looking at a Backup Plan, just for the safety’s sake, as we call it.

    The question that arises here is Is making the Backup plan safe for your actual plan which is eventually going to lead you to success?”

    The answer might be “No, Not at all”. The so-called back up plan might actually overpower your actual plan and might make you complacent regarding your actual plan.

     There has been some research on this as well.

    A paper previously published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes found that a backup plan can reduce the effort you put forth to achieve a goal, thus hurting your chances of achieving it.

    Most of us think a backup plan is always a good idea. However, a latest study highlights an unintended cost of making backup plans: a lower chance of successfully achieving your primary goal.


    Investigation started with a simple survey at a large east-coast train station. Researchers approached people who were waiting for trains, asking them to write about a goal they were pursuing and how much effort they were putting forth towards achieving their goal.

    Then, participants were asked if they had made a backup plan for their goal. Analyzing the data collected from the survey, researchers found that the people who had made a backup plan were putting forth less effort towards achieving their goals.

    Although this finding was consistent with previous hunches about the risks of making backup plans, correlation does not always equal causation.

    The possibility for this kind of a result can be variant.

    It might be that people who were working less hard towards their goal were more likely to make a backup plan because they knew they were more likely to need one. Or maybe, people who didn’t really care much about goal achievement to begin with were putting in less effort and were more likely to make a backup plan.

    Coming back to our current discussion, a backup plan, however, can have various dimensions. Let’s elaborate with an example:


    Carol is dissatisfied with her current job. The reasons are manifold starting from dissatisfaction with the job description to a general distaste of the corporate culture after having worked in it for over 7 years now.

    The most obvious primary plan would be to discuss the matter with her current boss asking for a role change and to initiate any sort of discussions that would improve her dissatisfactions. Again, the obvious backup plan with regards to dissatisfaction with the Job description would be to change her current company.

    However, the distaste for corporate culture would require her to change her line of work. In this scenario, Carol is thinking of 2 kinds of backup plan.

    If she is only thinking of changing her current company, then her backup plan would entail having a one directional route. However if she chooses to change her line of work altogether, she would have to adopt a parallel route for a backup plan.

    In the first kind, Carol with the one directional backup plan seems to be in a safe place. The only interesting factor to be noted would be that the primary plan which is to stay back and talk about a role change will already have taken a backseat.

    Carol’s focus is most likely to shift to the backup plan rather than the primary plan because she would be already tired with the current company, she would focus on looking out for another job than go through the lengthy process of resolving the issue within the current company and her manager.

    This would hence make her complacent regarding her primary plan.

    In the second kind, Carol will have to parallely look for another complete different line of work while dealing with her current scenario.

    This would require her to deal with multiple scenarios at the same time, hence creating more confusion while searching for a job and preparing for the interviews.

    With all these setbacks in mind, the temptation to completely shift to an even newer plan increases or to drop both plans altogether.

     


    Hence, it is important to remember that while having a backup plan might seem somehow safe, the consequences of formulating it might not, in reality, be that way. It is advisable that the focus should be on the PRIMARY PLAN and not the BACKUP plan to gain success.

    With reference to the example and research mentioned above, it can be stated that a backup plan might not be the healthiest route to success.

    A healthier process can be adopted in the primary planning itself by doing the below:

    • Choose your goal practically, i.e., something that is achievable
    • Measure your resources before making the plan
    • Analyzing the consequences
    • Focus very deeply on your plan and believe that you have the strength to execute it.
    • Be prepared for the tough challenges that might come your way.
    • Be in a very mental calm state of mind while deciding on the planning.
    • Be patient

     

    Having these weapons with you makes you ready to take up the challenge of your primary plan and prevents you from making a backup plan, out of that stress of not being able to achieve.

    We have to constantly remind ourselves that life throws us challenges at every turn, especially when we want to achieve something and succeed in that.

    But we have to keep ourselves strong and be prepared for whatever challenge come our way and take a more focused approach rather than trying to play safe with keeping backup options and getting more boggled.

    Backup options can be kept in consideration, but only after you have tried full fledgedly to achieve your success as planned primarily.,

    References:

    “How backup plans can harm goal pursuit: The unexpected downside of being prepared for failure (Jihae Shina; Katherine L. Milkman)

     Paper: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749597816302096

     Google.com

  • 19 Aug
    Oyindrila Basu

    A win is a Win in the Game, only when you play it Happily.

    usain bolt

           

    A survey claims that,  when players are free from the pressure of the competition, they will play just for enjoyment, which is definitely not miles away from success. Being in the game in good spirit is a big achievement; you learn new techniques, physical skills and have fun while acting into the situation.

    A competition free environment will provide a stress free environment and a zeal for new learning. Losing a game can actually demotivate a person to move forward if they care much for it.

    There are more professional athletes like Rafael Nadal – whose enjoyment of different sports was such that he had to choose between tennis and football at the age of 12 – than Andre Agassi, who, pressured by his father throughout his childhood, prospered as a tennis player despite coming to hate the game.

    Even the compulsion of winning a game online, has reduced. Customized shooting games online are played just for maintaining a good kill/death ratio.

    Gradually, people are losing the passion for winning the match. One of the reasons in this case, could be, that they are obsessed with the idea of ranking-up system, especially in games like the #Doom.

     

    Well, in this case too, we will provide a positive side; if you are not engaged with the concept of winning or even trying to do so, you can easily get over your addiction of these computer and internet games, which will eventually save you a lot of precious time.

    It will keep you in good mental health, if you just play for fun, and not bang your fists on the keyboard or touchscreen, once you take a wrong path while playing #Asphalt.

    However, this indifferent attitude towards being a winner cannot go without criticism.

    Well it is good to be easy going, but casualty? Is it a good characteristic trait?

    A video game will not determine your life, however, if you are a professional sportsman, your attitude will determine your fate, your career.

    rio winner

    Especially, in sports like wrestling, boxing, martial arts or mere street fight, if you feel it is ok to lose, you might get trampled under the prowess of your opponent. Also in life situations, where you need to fight out a bunch of goons, you won’t be guided by any ring, or any set pattern of rules; there if you feel it is ok to lose, you might get killed.

    Sports is a competitive game, and it gets included in school curriculum, to teach children the importance of maintaining a healthy competition throughout their life. If you remove this quotient, sports will be nothing but a child’s play.

    For e.g. if a child knows that earning a good grade is not important, why will he/she then study at all; he/she will rather choose to play for most of the working hours in order to enjoy. If failing is alright, then why should someone work hard to pass with above average rank?

    We do acknowledge Rudyard Kipling’s promise of the earth, where we bear and ‘triumph and disaster’ with equal grace, however, that is an Utopian existence, which doesn’t come real; and we cannot forget the Darwinin rule of survival of the fittest; well I do not literally mean that you should do everything you can (like beg, borrow, steal or kill) to be successful, but maintaining a healthy competitive spirit within self is not that bad.

    It acts as a kind of motivation towards hard work.

    Again. The balance is very important; while in a game, a person should keep up with team spirit and follow the regulations in order to gain a fair win. He/she should not be tied down with the burden of winning; it should not be a compulsion, but a wish and a need.

    Winning a game should be a reward not something that needs to snatched at any cost. Vengeance and wicked strategies can affect negatively on the mind, and also consequentially affect the sportsman spirit within an individual.

    Excessive pressure can be the cause of anxiety, tension and stress which can make you physically unfit for a game.

    Hence it is important to remember, that win and lose are part of a game; you work hard towards a fair win, you give your best, but maintain a balance, keep to a healthy lifestyle, be happy with your work or sport, whatever you do, enjoy doing it, in order to achieve success.

    Image source

  • 15 Aug
    Oyindrila Basu

    They are lucky only because of their hard work and never-say-die spirit

    sakshi malik and pv sindhu

    Sakshi on 17th Aug became the first woman wrestler from India to win an Olympic medal.

    It's a result of 12 years of hard work, says Sakshi Malik .

    Pusarla Venkata Sindhu on 18th Aug became the first Indian woman to enter a Olympic Badminton final, after defeating 6th-ranked Nozomi Okuhara 2-0 (21-19, 21-10). Thus, assuring India of another medal.

    I was just thinking about the game. If you play really well you will automatically win the game, and a medal. I'm just focused on my match and the next match, the semis (against Okuhara). I hope I can give my best, says Sindhu .

    We often wonder why destiny is in favour of some people always, while for others, nothing can just go right. We call the formers, lucky… Really? Is there seriously something called readymade Luck!

    Well, don’t know, but if it was to be so, it should have been equally distributed to everybody; which means all of us would be having perfect timings at some point of time or the other, but it doesn’t happen, and we still continue to blame the Fate for being partial.

    A ten-year long scientific study, on the nature of luck concluded, that most often people are responsible themselves, for their good or bad fortunes. The results also show that is possible for increasing the chances of positive responses in your life.

    Those people who religiously believe in the matter of luck and destiny, are so much obsessed in changing the luck in their favour, that they often do not concentrate on their actions and the positive work opportunities around them, when ideally luck will come when you do the right thing at the right time yourself, and not wait for the Goddess to shower wealth on you.

    Let me narrate a story here-


    Raman was a big businessman; the year 2012 brought about a downfall in his company shares and profits went on declining slowly.

    he believed that his Luck has always been in favour and hence he could prosper so far, but now that it was turning down he wished to visit an astrologer and foreteller.

    This man seemed to be learned, wise and having far-sight into the future. But some shocking revelations were made by him, which astounded Raman. He never knew, he would be exposed to such deeper truths.

    The man with the crimson wrapper told him that he would die within the next 4 days in his city. Raman was in cold sweat, he didn’t want to die; death was far; he never suffered from any serious disease then why should he die so young! He started worrying, panicked and anxious he would wake up in the middle of the night, thinking of different ways to escape death.

    He would call for his personal advisors to ask for a remedy, however, nobody could provide a solution which would save him. One night he suddenly pondered, what if he escapes from his city!

    The prophesy said he would die in his city, what if he just leaves his house and city and goes to some other place!

    He quickly took a backpack with a few things, rode his car and asked the driver to rush.. “Hurry! Hurry! He shouted”, it was night time, and the highways were dusky due to mist rain that afternoon, but driver tried really hard to vision himself through the difficulties, and that too fast.

    Raman was not at peace, he kept shivering and every alternate second, he would ask his driver to speed up, the car raced at 80-90-140 km/hr, now the driver was sweating too, but he couldn’t slow down- “faster”, went the shout…..and suddenly everything calmed down with a shriek of the car.

    It had been hit by a truck at the turn of the road, and there was not a single nose from Raman anymore..


    Now whom can we blame for this instant bad luck befalling on Raman? The bad luck? Or Raman’s blind belief in the concept of Fate, which made him so nervous and mentally unstable, that he tried to escape the safe premises of his own house in the middle of the night?

    The scientific research has studied the importance of superstition in our live; hence the amulets, chains, lucky charms and talismans continue to glorify our homes and bodies; we all are looking for luck, and in the process we just start behaving insane; we turn away from our duties and responsibilities and do everything illogical to gain good luck.

    Whereas, just a wish of “goodluck” from someone, actually imbibes the positivity required for a good action which will bring good results; the term affects the brain making us more sensitive and responsible towards the work we are going to do.

    Lord Chumley Frampton, Dean of Statistical Analysis at Basingstoke University stunned the world with his findings, that if people are in poor mental health, they tend to get unlucky, hence it is important to ensure good mental health first.

    Besides, those of us, like Raman, are too much bothered about their Fate and bad luck, often get stressed out easily which lead them to nervous breakdown, or anxiety attack or panic attack.

    When we are mentally troubled, we cannot do any work properly, so how will we have anything positive?

    Luck is something we can bring to ourselves, by being positive in every situation, and we need to be in the best mental health for that.

    • Counselling therapies can guide us through the process,
    • self-affirmation and confidence is also important.
    • We need to set our goals right, so that we can succeed. Practical goals will direct you towards positive action plans.
    • Believe in yourself to be the best.