What Are The Effects of Total Isolation? An Expert Explains

Being isolated in total darkness has many physical and psychological consequences. Vlue/Shutterstock

Imagine being confined to a small, dark room, with no social interaction whatsoever for 30 days. Not many people would jump at this opportunity. But, in November 2018, a professional US poker player Rich Alati bet US$100,000 that he could survive 30 days alone and in total darkness. He was kept in a small, completely dark room with nothing but a bed, fridge and bathroom. Even with all the resources he needed to survive, Alati couldn’t last the month. After 20 days he negotiated his release, taking a payout of US$62,400.

There are countless negative effects that social isolation and extreme isolation can have on our minds and bodies. Alati was no exception, reporting that he experienced a range of side effects, including changes to his sleep cycle, and hallucinations. But why is isolation so difficult for humans to withstand?

One of the reasons that living in isolation is difficult is because humans are social creatures. Many people that have lived in isolated environments – such as researchers stationed in Antarctica – report that loneliness can be the most difficult part of the job. Yossi Ghinsberg, an Israeli adventurer and author who survived weeks alone in the Amazon, said that loneliness was what he suffered from most and that he had created imaginary friends to keep himself company.

Loneliness can be damaging to both our mental and physical health. Socially isolated people are less able to deal with stressful situations. They’re also more likely to feel depressed and may have problems processing information. This in turn can lead to difficulties with decision-making and memory storage and recall.

People who are lonely are also more susceptible to illness. Researchers found that a lonely person’s immune system responds differently to fighting viruses, making them more likely to develop an illness.The impacts of social isolation become worse when people are placed in physically isolating environments.

For example, solitary confinement can have negative psychological effects on prisoners – including significant increases in anxiety and panic attacks, increased levels of paranoia, and being less able to think clearly. Many prisoners also report long-term mental health problems after being held in isolation.

Natascha Kampusch – an Australian woman who was kidnapped at the age of ten and held captive in a cellar for eight years – noted in her biography that the lack of light and human contact mentally weakened her. She also reported that endless hours and days spent completely isolated made her susceptible to her captor’s orders and manipulations.

Alone in the dark

The effects of isolation can become even more pronounced if you experience it in total darkness, causing both physical and psychological consequences. One impact of being in complete darkness is that it can wreck your sleep cycle. Two of the key mechanisms for sleep cycle regulation, the hormone melatonin and the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus, both rely on light to function.

Daylight reduces our levels of melatonin, helping us feel awake.

Daylight also helps the suprachiastmatic nucleus to reset our waking time if our sleep cycles start to drift. Without daylight, our 24-hour circadian rhythm can change. This explains why people exploring cave systems, for example, may find that their sleep-wake cycle becomes disrupted. This means that the time they feel like going to sleep doesn’t stay in a regular pattern and can shift each day.

Disruptions to our circadian rhythm can also make us feel depressed and fatigued. This has also been linked to increased cancer risk, insulin resistance and heart disease, as well as other physical problems such as obesity and premature ageing.

People placed in isolation may also experience hallucinations. The lack of stimuli causes people to misattribute internal thoughts and feelings as occurring in the outer environment. Essentially, hallucinations happen because of a lack of brain stimulation.

In fact, Alati revealed he began experiencing hallucinations by his third day in isolation, ranging from seeing the room fill up with bubbles, to imagining that the ceiling had opened up to show him a starry sky. People in total isolation may also feel that there is a ghostly presence or someone watching them.

While the impact of total isolation can be severe, the good news is that these effects are reversible.

Exposure to daylight can normally correct sleep-wake patterns – though this might take weeks, or even months in some cases, before it’s fully adjusted. Reconnecting with other humans can reduce loneliness and help restore us to good mental and physical health. However, some people who have been held in social isolation against their will may develop long-term mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But some people who have faced the challenge of being alone for an extended period of time may show personal growth – including emotional growth, feeling closer to family and friends, and having a better perspective on life – as a result of their experience. After 20 days willingly spent in total isolation, even Alati said he’s changed – reporting that the experience gave him a greater appreciation for people and life, better attention and focus, and overall feeling happier than before.

By:

Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Central Lancashire

Source: What are the effects of total isolation? An expert explains

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How To Stop Overthinking Your Relationship

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Have you ever had thoughts like these in your relationship?When your partner comes home late, you think, They’re neglecting me. Work is more important than I am. If your partner doesn’t initiate lovemaking, you think, We’re on our way to a sexless marriage. I knew this would happen.

If your partner is distracted at the dinner table, you think, They’re bored. They have nothing to say to me. I can’t believe it’s come to this. If they forget to ask a follow-up question after a doctor’s visit, you think, They’re selfish and insensitive. I’m alone in this relationship.

Thoughts like these can arise when you feel threatened in your relationship, and then similar thoughts may follow. Reflexive, negative thoughts fueled by anxiety multiply. They may even become thought-pinwheels, spinning into what psychologists call rumination. Your ruminative thoughts distort your perceptions of your mate. Over time, as the distortions build into stories about the other person, you stop opening up, relating directly, and sharing yourself. You lose touch with the adventure of love.

In my therapy practice, I’ve seen overthinking erode love between people whenever it operates unseen and unchallenged. My vantage point isn’t solely professional either. As a former chronic ruminator, I’ve suffered the destructive effects of overthinking firsthand, including a painful divorce in my late 20s.Now, over two decades later, I know differently. Happy love stories are created, not stumbled upon.

Not only have I lived the changes that come with undoing rumination in the relationship my husband and I have developed over the last 17 years, but I’ve also helped hundreds of couples foster deeper intimacy and safer, more fulfilling connections by doing this work. My new book Stop Overthinking Your Relationship shares these strategies to help couples nurture love, trust, and satisfaction.

Five kinds of relationship rumination

In romantic relationships, overthinking gradually—day after day, month after month—can turn into a bad cognitive habit. It shortens our bandwidth for awareness, empathy, curiosity, and whatever is happening in our own hearts.

Like a snowball rolling downhill and gathering momentum, ruminative thoughts turn in a seemingly endless loop around the same painful themes. I’ve identified five distinct rumination cycles based on my work with clients:

Blame. This is my fault. I’m such an idiot. How could I let this happen? It’s unacceptable, intolerable, horrible, awful. My partner is selfish. They’re wrong. They should pay for this. They should apologize. Don’t they realize how much pain they’re causing me?

The blame cycle revolves around painful past events. You’re sure you’ve been unfairly treated, taken advantage of, and misunderstood. You had good intentions, and your partner misinterpreted what you said or did. You planned a special trip, and your partner ruined it with their irritability. You recall the past selectively. Events confirming your own (or your partner’s) flaws are magnified.

Control. I know best. I’m rational. I’m in touch with my emotions. My views should hold sway. I’m more genuine. I’m kinder, wiser, healthier, superior, younger, older. Because I’m the extravert, I’m more suited to organize our social life. I’m the one who keeps us healthy, safe, and happy. I’m the one who knows how to handle this.

Control thoughts orbit a desired future outcome and the best way to achieve it. Your partner must sit down at the table immediately. They must talk to someone—a therapist, parent, boss, or realtor—ASAP. It’s time for an emergency meeting with your attorney because you know what the next step is. You’re curious about consensual nonmonogamy, and so they should be, too. It’s time to go to Hawaii. You’re done with long-distance relationships.

Tension, mistrust, and inflexibility accompany the control cycle. Thoughts have a moralistic edge. You believe in externally defined truths—and you’re the one who knows what they are. Your partner should and must fulfill your vision of the relationship. Possibilities and options are black-and-white. There’s good or bad, right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy.

Doubt. Can I be sure of my own perceptions? Maybe I’m imagining things. Did what I think took place really happen? Why is every other couple doing better than we are? Why did I choose my partner? Is there someone smarter, kinder, more attractive, or richer out there for me? Why did my partner choose me? Am I a fraud? Can I trust my own choices? My intuition has misled me in the past. What if I keep making poor choices?

In this cycle, there’s never enough certainty. There are never absolute guarantees. No evidence is ever ironclad enough to support your choices, decisions, or actions. Good times seem insubstantial and fleeting. Searching for evidence only reinforces doubts. Painful insecurity and self-judgment are the hallmarks of chronic doubt cycles. The more you overthink, the less you trust your own recollections and intuition.

Worry. What will happen if he gets hurt on the job? What if we divorce and I don’t see our children as much as I do now? What if they stop loving me? She might cancel our next date if she finds out I’m a type-1 diabetic. One of us might catch COVID and give it to my father. This could be the last time we’re happy together as a couple.

In this cycle, worst-case scenarios rule. Fear keeps this cycle going. You convince yourself you’ll be safe as long as you prepare for the worst. Your mind does this by thinking of everything that could go wrong.

Self-pity. Self-pity cycles are focused on oneself as a victim. Why me? There’s nothing I can do. Life is unfair. I don’t deserve this. How come bad things always happen to me? I’ve tried everything. My situation is hopeless. We don’t stand a chance as a couple. Nothing makes a difference. The universe is against me. There’s no solution. Nothing will ever change.

Often, the unacknowledged expectation is that by embracing the role of a victim, you’ll inspire your partner to rescue you. But when you make your partner responsible for your well-being or behave as though you’re completely helpless when you’re not, they end up feeling controlled.

All of us are capable of spinning all the rumination cycles, and it’s not unusual to spin a hybrid of two or even three of them at once. But most of us have a dominant cycle: the one we spin most often. We may spin it so much that it colors our identity and personality. You probably have a secondary cycle, too, that you spin when your dominant cycle fails to bring resolution, relief, or closure.

How to break the rumination cycle

While your thoughts may feel like truth, your rumination sometimes operates as a defense: a coping strategy used to distract you from your own vulnerability.

Let’s say your girlfriend hasn’t responded to a text you sent her six hours ago. You’re upset, and you think, What’s she doing? Has she forgotten about me? Is she ghosting me on purpose? I thought she enjoyed our weekend as much as I did. Is she already tired of me? As you talk to a friend, you focus on all the ways she has disappointed you.

But what if underneath the rumination, something else is going on: You miss her? Your overthinking about your girlfriend is a protection against heartache and longing, uncomfortable emotions you’d prefer not to feel.

To counter rumination, what you need to do—what we all need to do—is to pivot from thinking about moments that unsettle you to being with them.

This isn’t something most of us have been explicitly taught how to do. When an event takes you off guard and you feel something emotionally or physically unnerving, do you consciously spend time being with your inner experience? If your answer is no, then you’re a normal 21st-century human. Most people’s first instinct is to try to get rid of unsettling experiences.

Being with yourself and your partner is a radical act. The following four steps can help guide you along the way.

1. See thoughts to become aware of rumination.

  • Pause. Stop what you’re doing for one minute.
  • Direct your attention inward or relax into a full-bodied experience of awareness. Notice whatever mental or cognitive activity is taking place within you in the here and now.
  • Inquire. Ask, “Is what’s happening in my mind a thought (or a series of thoughts)?”
  • Tune in. Is the answer to this question “yes,” “maybe,” or “no”? (If it’s “no,” you’re probably focused, in the flow of the task, or at peace. If it’s “maybe,” go through these steps again until you receive a clear answer.)

If your partner cancels dinner and your mind spins with thoughts like, They’re trying to hurt me intentionally. I can’t trust them. Why would they do this to me? I’ll show them by going out alone tonight, seeing these thoughts as thoughts interrupts the momentum of your blame cycle. You don’t automatically believe your thoughts are accurate representations of reality simply because you’re upset.

2. Label the mental habit or pattern. Once you see that you’re having a thought, label it by noting several aspects:

  • The thought itself. If you realize you were anxiously envisioning yourself and your girlfriend bored and miserable 20 years from now in the same small apartment you live in now, the following words might capture these thoughts: My girlfriend won’t ever travel with me and explore new places. Life is passing us by. We’ll end up old and unsatisfied.
  • Is it a fact or pseudofact—an opinion, judgment, assumption, or expectation you mistake as truth? Much of our rumination includes pseudeofacts that aren’t necessarily true.
  • The rumination cycle that your thought reflects—is it blame, worry, doubt, control, self-pity, or some combination?
  • The trigger. A trigger can be an action your partner takes—or doesn’t take. Consider the long pause—an eternity!—when you say “I love you” and wait for them to say something. Or maybe you notice your partner wincing when you ask how you look in your bagel-print Hawaiian shirt. Or you smell alcohol on their breath when they kiss you goodnight and a few weeks ago they swore off drinking.

3. Open to what’s going on in the moment. Acting as a defense, rumination can block us off from our own sensations, emotions, and impulses. In order to open yourself up to what’s going on within you in the here and now, ask yourself these questions and notice what arises:

  • “What sensations am I aware of in my body right now?” Then, stay tuned in to your body. Be patient and curious.
  • “What’s here emotionally right now?” Tune in to any emotional undercurrents within you.
  • “Can I notice my experience of this impulse in my body and choose to be with it rather than act on it? What’s this impulse telling me?” Tune in to impulses within you patiently and with curiosity, letting go of any outcome you’re hoping for or dreading.

Mindfulness practices can help as you try to orient yourself to the present.

4. Welcome vulnerability and the unknown. The final step is to welcome what’s arising. One way is by asking a question: “What’s under this?” This question communicates: I can take in what I’ve pushed out of my own awareness. I’m ready to recognize and accept what’s here.

It’s OK not to understand the way your body responds as you listen and wait. Maybe you’ll notice wisps of emotion. Or you might sense a surge of energy. There may be a twinge of discomfort or a rise in physical tension. Whatever it is, be with it while remaining grounded in your body, open, and tuned in. Sometimes, sustained, focused attention alone can amplify what your body is communicating and bring clarity.

You’ll always get an answer in some form. The absence of a response is also an answer. The answer you get doesn’t have to make rational sense. The answer may come over the course of a minute, a day, or a week. It may come piecemeal, in seemingly random insights.

Whatever arises, welcome it. Ultimately, this process allows us to increase our tolerance of uncomfortable emotions, sensations, and impulses and remain present to our own vulnerability rather than spinning imagined scenarios in our mind that distance us from what’s happening in our bodies and lives in the here and now.

The better you know yourself and what’s going on for you beyond your overthinking, the better equipped you are to express your feelings and needs more authentically and directly, hear your partner’s responses and feedback, and set limits based on self-awareness rather than anxiety. Cultivating vulnerability and authenticity helps partners foster connection.

Breaking the cycle of anxious rumination doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not magic. It happens one thought, trigger, and day at a time, one choice at a time. You and your partner are built to grow together, welcoming yourselves and each other more fully as you are right now. You don’t have to overthink it.

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Source: How to Stop Overthinking Your Relationship

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Opening up: a guide to creating and sustaining open relationships. Cleis Press. pp. 13–. ISBN 978-1-57344-295-4. Retrieved 20 November 2011.Gaal, Anna Gyulai (21 February 2019). “The many shades of open love”. EXBERLINER.com. Retrieved 4 July 2019.Bergstrand, Curtis; Blevins Williams, Jennifer (10 October 2000).

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How To Wake Up Smiling: 5 Daily Habits That Made Me a More Positive Person

I’m usually a pretty happy person, but about a year ago—perhaps due to a lack of social connections and laughter—I experienced a few dark months. During those months, I spent most of my waking hours (and probably nights as well) consumed with negative thoughts.

I woke up feeling angry in the morning, continued having negative thoughts most of the day, and went to bed in that same state of mind. Luckily, I didn’t have many opportunities to spread my negativity to others because we were in confinement.

On one of those moody mornings, I played a video of a spiritual teacher that a friend had recommended listening to while getting ready for the day.Halfway through the video, he said, “Humanity is ascending into more loving and conscious states of being. You are becoming more of who you truly are, which is love.”

At that moment, I caught my eyes in the mirror and stared at my unhappy face. “I’m not ascending. I’m descending further and further into the ‘hell’ in my own mind.”

My negativity was eating me alive, but, strangely, it was so addictive.

Since it had been escalating for some time (a few months by then) and had acquired a good bit of momentum, I really didn’t know if I’d be able to shift all that negativity into a more positive state of being. I knew that the longer I waited, though, the harder it would be.

Still looking at my face in the mirror, I noticed the corners of my mouth pointing slightly downward.

“If I continue like that, I’m going to get grumpy face wrinkles.”

I made my bed and then went to the kitchen. As the coffee was brewing, I grabbed my laptop and Googled “how to be a more positive person,” and I scribbled down a few ideas that resonated with me.

Later that day, after mixing and matching advice from different articles, I created what I called my “emotional hygiene routine.”

It’s a series of simple habits that I committed to doing most days of the week for an entire month (and still continue to do today on most days) and that, over that month, took me out of my depressive state and made me wake up smiling in the morning again.

I’d like to share them with you.

1. Fall asleep in the “vortex.”

One idea I came across in my research on being more positive came from Abraham Hicks:

“If you go to sleep in the vortex, you wake up in the vortex. If you go to sleep not in the vortex, you wake up not in the vortex.”

Being in the “vortex” refers to a state of pure positive energy. The idea in that quote is pretty straightforward: go to bed thinking positive thoughts and feeling happy feelings, and you’re more likely to wake up thinking and feeling positive in the morning.

I knew this had to be true. I knew it because when I went to bed thinking angry thoughts, I usually dreamed that I was unhappy and then woke up grumpy (and exhausted) in the morning.

So, I decided to try something. As I closed my eyes to sleep at night, I scanned the day from the moment I woke up until the present moment when I was lying in bed, and I tried to recall all the positive things (even tiny things) that had happened that day.

I could have thought about the delicious mocha latte that I drank that morning, the fact there wasn’t snow on the ground and that I was able to run outside in the afternoon, or a nice comment someone left on one of my videos.

I spent a few seconds remembering a happy moment before moving on to the next one. After scanning the entire day, I would do it again, trying to find even more subtle positive things, and I did this until I fell asleep.

This exercise is probably the number one thing that helped me (and still continues to help me) wake up happier in the morning.

2. Have something to look forward to on the following day.

Something else that has helped me wake up happier is having something to look forward to every day, even if I have a busy day ahead and have minimal free time available.

Still to this day, every evening, I schedule at least one activity that brings me joy for the following day. It can be going for a walk with a friend, baking cookies, or watching the sunset. It can also be as simple as wearing my favorite outfit.

Scheduling one activity that brings me joy for the following day gives my mind something fun to anticipate and puts me in a good mood in the evening.

And again, how the day ends is a good indicator of how the following day begins.

3. Absorb uplifting ideas in the evening.

We all know that what we feed our minds affects our mood. I don’t have a TV and don’t follow the news, but my Facebook feed is often enough to get me irritated. So, I decided to stop scrolling mindlessly on Facebook (or at least do so less often) and consume positive-only content instead.

For the past few months, first thing in the morning and before going to bed, I’ve been reading a few pages of an inspiring book—usually something spiritual. I just finished reading the entire Earth Life book series by Sanaya Roman, and right now, I’m reading Wishes Fulfilled by Wayne Dyer.

Reading those kinds of books brings me peace. I can notice a significant difference in my mood and stress level if I just take even fifteen minutes to consume uplifting content in the morning and evening.

(If you have any book recommendations, you can share them in the comments.)

4. Make a gratitude list—with a twist.

After reading in the morning, I write down three to five things I’m grateful for—and why I appreciate each thing.

I used to write gratitude lists of fifteen-plus items and do it very quickly—almost mindlessly—just to “get it done.” It made the practice sort of mechanical and not very effective.

I’ve found that writing fewer items on my list and taking the time to dive into the reasons each thing makes me happy intensifies the feelings of gratitude and makes the exercise more profound. I try to do this daily, although I do forget sometimes. When I forget several days in a row, I can feel the difference in my general mood.

Gratitude is perhaps the lowest-hanging fruit for cultivating a more positive attitude.

5. Choose your state of being as you open your eyes.

The last thing that has helped me is a piece of advice from Dr. Daniel Amen, one of the leading brain health experts. In an interview on The School of Greatness Podcast, he talked about the importance of setting a positive intention from the very start of the day to cultivate what he calls “a positivity bias.”

An affirmation he uses himself and recommends using is: “Today is going to be a great day.”

When we tell ourselves this in the morning, our unconscious mind then looks for things that are going right to prove that this is true. This isn’t toxic positivity—ignoring or denying the negative. It’s training our brains to see what’s positive instead of focusing on the negative by default.

I’ve taken the habit of saying this affirmation (or a similar one) just after waking up and before opening my eyes in the morning. It’s a bit like choosing and declaring from the very start of the day what attitude you’ll adopt that day. It’s easy to do, and it sets the tone for the day.

In the beginning, I didn’t always remember to declare my intention until later in the morning, but it didn’t take long before it became automatic. Now, just remembering to think about my intention (and then mentally saying it) makes me smile as I wake up.

Our lives don’t need to be perfect to wake up smiling in the morning; they just require a conscious effort to develop a positive attitude, which is what the five habits in this article have helped me accomplish.

I hope they serve you well, too, if you choose to implement them.

By: Emilie Pelletier

Emilie is a certified purpose and life coach, meditation instructor, and spiritual entrepreneur. She helps free-spirited minds to clarify their soul’s purpose, find their calling, and transform their work into play. You can get her free guide, “The Life Purpose Formula: The Easiest Way to Uncover Your Purpose and Calling,” or connect with her through her website ConsciousOriginals.com.

Critics by Kimberly Holland

Whether it’s stress, depression, anxiety, or lack of sleep, there are times when getting out of bed in the morning may feel overwhelming. But staying in bed every day is usually not a long-term option. Here’s how to get up and going when it may feel impossible.

Find an accountability partner

Friends and family members can serve as support and a point of accountability. They can check in with you and provide encouragement. They can also provide reassurance and assistance.

Ask someone to text or call you every morning to check on your progress and plans. The anticipation of the check-in may be an encouragement to get up.

Rely on a furry friend

Pets can be helpful for people with depression. ResearchTrusted Source has found pets, especially dogs, can:

  • reduce stress
  • lower anxiety
  • ease feelings of loneliness

They also encourage exercise, which boosts overall health. Plus, animals need you to get out of bed — they use the restroom outside! Having a panting pooch nuzzling you for love and a walk may be a useful way to encourage you to get out of bed.

Take small steps

If the day feels overwhelming, don’t focus on it. Focus on the moment. Give yourself a “next step” goal. Tell yourself you only need to get to the shower. When you accomplish that, tell yourself you only need to get dressed, then make breakfast.

Focus on successful moments and days

You’ve likely felt this way before. And you likely overcame it. Remind yourself of that and how you felt when you were able to accomplish what you did.

Whether it’s moving from the bed to the dining room table or successfully attending the business meeting you had scheduled, the feeling of accomplishment can be a strong incentive to go again.

Bribe yourself with good feelings

You know how good that first sip of coffee feels at your favorite coffee spot? Remember that and make yourself crave it.

Desire is a strong driver of energy. Maybe it’s not coffee, but you love listening to music and swaying on your porch in the sunlight. Picture that moment. When you crave an event or a feeling — or yes, even a food — you have something that encourages you to rise.

Turn on some tunes

It’s can be hard to stay down when you’ve got a tempo beating from your speakers. Turn on a fast-paced soundtrack (slow and relaxing songs are better another day) and sit up.

You don’t have to dance, but a sway, clap, or snap can help you feel movement in your limbs. Take the moment to stretch, and put one foot in front of another.

Shed some light

Dark, dim rooms are inviting for sleeping, but that’s a problem if you’re struggling to get out of bed. Turn on lamps or throw open the shades to invite bright, warming light into your room. This can help you feel more alert.

Work in threes

Long to-do lists can feel overwhelming. And if you don’t accomplish the full list, you may feel discouraged. Instead, give yourself just three things to accomplish.

Write them down if it helps you focus, but don’t exceed the limit of three. When you’ve marked off those three, give yourself a bit to rest. You may have done everything you need for the day, or you may want to write another list of three.

Work with what you know you can accomplish. Give yourself the time to rest between tasks.

Reach out to people you can trust

Depression, anxiety, or stress can leave you feeling isolated and alone. It’s a powerful feeling that can be difficult to overcome and make you want to avoid others. Resist this temptation and ask friends to make plans or a phone date with you.

Tell yourself your plan

When the thoughts in your head tell you to stay in bed, talk back to them (and to yourself). Say what your plans are to get going.

Once you’re in motion, it’s often easier to stay in motion. This technique can take work and time. A therapist can help you develop the right “talking points” and strategies, too.

Reflect on the positive

Photos, quotes, music: These are all things that can stir up positive feelings and happy memories. This may help you overcome the feelings of being “stuck” when you don’t feel you have the energy to get out bed.

Keep a photo album by your bedside, or purchase a book filled with inspiring quotes that speak to you. Open these books when you want to add a bit of brightness to your day.

Fill your calendar

Give yourself an event each day you can look forward to. It doesn’t have to be a large event. Meet a friend for coffee. Finally go try that new bakery downtown. Swing by your friend’s store to see their new items on the way home.

Giving yourself a goal that’s pleasurable and fun may help overcome feelings of dread or anxiety.

Step outside

Being outside is good for you. Some researchers believe getting outdoors can improve your concentration and help you heal faster. Exposure to sunlight increases the feel-good chemicals in your brain, like serotonin.

Even a few minutes outside can help. Start small and step out on your porch, balcony, or into your backyard. If you feel like it, go for a walk and soak in a little more sunshine.

There are many benefits of sunlight. From helping lift your mood to strengthening your bones, sunlight is powerful stuff.

Plan rest into your day

If you need downtime, whether it’s napping or reading a book, make sure you plan that into your day. This will give you the reassurance that while your day may be busy, you’ll be able to stop, rest, and refresh.

Give yourself some grace

Tomorrow is a new day. If you can’t get out of bed today, it’s OK. If you can’t get beyond the first goal, it’s OK. You can look to tomorrow to get things done. The fog will lift, and you’ll be able to return to your normal activities.

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Good Vibes Are Contagious

One of my favorite threads of research shows just how interconnected we humans are. Studies reveal that if you bear witness to someone else experiencing pain—whether it’s a friend stubbing their toe, a person experiencing homelessness on a damp street corner, or a somber face in the waiting room of a hospital—you’re likely to experience some degree of pain yourself. The Association for Psychological Science (APS) dubs this the “I feel your pain” effect, and most everyone experiences it from time to time.

“When we witness what happens to others, we don’t just activate the visual cortex like we thought decades ago,” Dutch neuroscientist Christian Keysers told the APS. “We also activate our own actions as if we’d be acting in similar ways. We activate our own emotions and sensations as if we felt the same.”

Pain isn’t the only contagious emotion. Researchers from Yale University closely monitored just under 5,000 people living in the small town of Framingham, Massachusetts, for more than three decades. They found that when someone became happy or sad, that emotion rippled throughout the entire town. Another study, published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, showed that even below-the-surface emotions, such as motivation, are contagious.

If someone is working in the same room with people who are internally driven, their attitude also improves. If, however, someone is working in the same room with those who aren’t too excited about their work, then their motivation decreases. A 2017 study out of Northwestern University found that sitting within 25 feet of a high performer at work improved an employee’s performance by 15 percent. But sitting within 25 feet of a low performer hurt their performance by 30 percent. That’s an enormous effect!

Emotions even spread virtually. Another study, aptly titled “I’m Sad, You’re Sad,” found that if you are in a negative mood when you text your partner, they are likely to pick up on it and experience a lower mood state themselves. The same is true of Facebook posts, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Emotions like happiness, sadness, and anger spread like wildfire on the platform. (Not that you needed a study to prove this.)

Instead of meeting sadness with sadness, you can meet it with compassion and support.

This science all points toward the same basic truth: we are mirrors reflecting onto each other. The people we surround ourselves with shape us, and we shape those around us, too. The implications of this truth are important and actionable.

For starters, you’d be wise to associate with people you admire and aspire to be like. It’s not so much rote skill that is contagious as it is the motivation and emotions that lead to skill development. In other words, it is much better to work with the scrappy but less-talented performer than the all-star who phones it in. This is every bit as true on the playing field as it is in the office.

What’s more, just being aware of how easily emotions spread allows you to change yourself and, in turn, change those around you. For example, if you receive a text message that suddenly makes you sad, or if you read a social-media post that makes you angry, rather than immediately reacting, you can pause for a moment and then respond thoughtfully.

Instead of meeting sadness with sadness, you can meet it with compassion and support. Instead of meeting anger with anger, you can try to meet it with understanding (or just ignore it altogether). The flip side is also true. When you are feeling good you’re liable to spread it—though my hunch is that this happens naturally, without trying.

None of this is new, of course. Over a decade ago in the foothills of the Himalayas, before much of the above science unfolded, I asked a Nepali Sherpa named Indra about the prayer flags that were all over. “It’s simple,” he told me. “When you are feeling a strong emotion, you plant a flag. Since the beginning of time, my culture believes the wind will spread that energy and the universe will receive it.”

Brad Stulberg (@Bstulberg) is a performance coach and writes Outside’s Do It Better column. He is also bestselling author of the books “The Passion Paradox” and “Peak Performance.”

Source: Good Vibes Are Contagious

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Related Contents:

Barrett LF, Mesquita B, Ochsner KN, Gross JJ (January 2007). “The experience of emotion”. Annual Review of Psychology. 58 (1): 373–403. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.58.110405.085709“Emotion |

Definition of Emotion by Oxford Dictionary on Lexico.com also meaning of Emotion

“Listening to Your Authentic Self: The Purpose of Emotions

Scherer, Klaus R.; Shuman, Vera; Fontaine, Johnny R. J.; Soriano, Cristina (2013), “The GRID meets the Wheel: Assessing emotional feeling via self-report1Cowen AS, Keltner D (2017).

“Self-report captures 27 distinct categories of emotion bridged by continuous gradients”“Emotion and decision making” (PDF). Annual Review of Psychology.

66: 799–823. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115043.

PMID 25251484“Different Types of Emotions in Psychology All Questions Answered”Caroline Blanchard, D; Hynd, April L; Minke, Karl A; Minemoto, Tiffanie; Blanchard, Robert J (1 December 2001).

“Human defensive behaviors to threat scenarios show parallels to fear- and anxiety-related defense patterns of non-human mammals”.

Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 25 (7): 761–70. doi:10.1016/S0149-7634(01)00056-2. ISSN 0149-7634. PMID 11801300. S2CID 24732701“History of Emotions | Max Planck Institute for Human Development”

.Kleine-Cosack C (October 2006).

“Recognition and Simulation of EmotionsScherer, K (2005).

“What are emotions and how can they be measured?” (PDF). Social Science Information. 44 (4): 695–729. doi:10.1177/0539018405058216. S2CID 145575751

Scientists Figured Out How Much Exercise You Need to ‘Offset’ a Day of Sitting

We know that spending hour after hour sitting down isn’t good for us, but just how much exercise is needed to counteract the negative health impact of a day at a desk? A 2020 study suggests about 30-40 minutes per day of building up a sweat should do it.

Up to 40 minutes of “moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity” every day is about the right amount to balance out 10 hours of sitting still, the research says – although any amount of exercise or even just standing up helps to some extent.

That’s based on a meta-analysis across nine previous studies, involving a total of 44,370 people in four different countries who were wearing some form of fitness tracker.

The analysis found the risk of death among those with a more sedentary lifestyle went up as time spent engaging in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity went down.

“In active individuals doing about 30-40 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity, the association between high sedentary time and risk of death is not significantly different from those with low amounts of sedentary time,” the researchers wrote in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) in 2020.

In other words, putting in some reasonably intensive activities – cycling, brisk walking, gardening – can lower your risk of an earlier death right back down to what it would be if you weren’t doing all that sitting around, to the extent that this link can be seen in the amassed data of many thousands of people.

While meta-analyses like this one always require some elaborate dot-joining across separate studies with different volunteers, timescales, and conditions, the benefit of this particular piece of research is that it relied on relatively objective data from wearables – not data self-reported by the participants.

The study was published alongside the release of the World Health Organization 2020 Global Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior, put together by 40 scientists across six continents. In fact, in November 2020 BJSM put out a special edition to carry both the new study and the new guidelines.

“These guidelines are very timely, given that we are in the middle of a global pandemic, which has confined people indoors for long periods and encouraged an increase in sedentary behavior,” said physical activity and population health researcher Emmanuel Stamatakis from the University of Sydney in Australia.

“People can still protect their health and offset the harmful effects of physical inactivity,” says Stamatakis, who wasn’t involved in the meta-analysis but is the co-editor of the BJSM. “As these guidelines emphasize, all physical activity counts and any amount of it is better than none.”

The research based on fitness trackers is broadly in line with the new WHO guidelines, which recommend 150-300 mins of moderate intensity or 75-150 mins of vigorous-intensity physical activity every week to counter sedentary behavior.

Walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift, playing with children and pets, taking part in yoga or dancing, doing household chores, walking, and cycling are all put forward as ways in which people can be more active – and if you can’t manage the 30-40 minutes right away, the researchers say, start off small.

Making recommendations across all ages and body types is tricky, though the 40 minute time frame for activity fits in with previous research. As more data are published, we should learn more about how to stay healthy even if we have to spend extended periods of time at a desk.

“Although the new guidelines reflect the best available science, there are still some gaps in our knowledge,” said Stamatakis.

“We are still not clear, for example, where exactly the bar for ‘too much sitting’ is. But this is a fast-paced field of research, and we will hopefully have answers in a few years’ time.”

The research was published here, and the WHO guidelines here, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

By: David Nield

Source: Scientists Figured Out How Much Exercise You Need to ‘Offset’ a Day of Sitting

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Related Contents:

28 Bodyweight Exercises that Build Serious Muscle

Effects of Body-weight Squat Training on Muscular Size, Strength and Balance Ability in Physically Frail Older Adults

Growing stronger: Strength training for older adults

Physical activity for older adults

President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Definitions for Health

Exercise for Your Bone Health

Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd edition

Effects of 16-week high-intensity interval training using upper and lower body ergometers on aerobic fitness and morphological changes in healthy men: a preliminary study

Enlist : Army Physical Fitness Test

High-intensity interval training to maximize cardiac benefits of exercise training

Exercise: A Drug-free Approach to Lowering High Blood Pressure

Physical activity, exercise, and inflammatory markers in older adults: findings from the Health

Fitness Tips for Menopause: Why fitness counts

Depression and anxiety: exercise eases symptoms

Benefits of Physical Activity

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Weight Training

Exercise as a novel treatment for drug addiction

Exercise and Mental Health: Many Reasons to Move

Optimal Load for Increasing Muscle Power During Explosive Resistance Training in Older Adults

Exercise, Inflammation and Aging

American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults

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