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Messages - abu_jafar

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511
Business Administration / Faith, Fear And Future
« on: September 08, 2014, 05:03:38 PM »
The 3F's Of Life

Faith and fear are great measures to determine the future. Faith and fear are great infectious words because they spread like epidemics, but you must be careful of what you listen to and those you associate with. Many people have allowed the faithless words of others to drive them into despair by which they end up being a failure.
What is Faith? Faith is simply:

F - future
A - actions
I - intended and expected
T - to
H - happen
While fear is:

F - fake
E - experience
A - appearing
R - real

Thus, a person with fear is known as a coward because "a coward dies ten times before their death".
Here is a true story.

A man started running down the street of his town screaming, "The dam has broken". Women shopping in the supermarket heard the scream and they dropped their grocery baskets and joined him; men in the barbershop and offices heard the mob and joined them; so also the police and the firemen. Soon the street was filled with people screaming, "The dam has broken!"
One old man ran as fast and far has he could and then sat down on the curb for a moment and thought, "I've lived here all my life. What dam?"
The truth and fact was there was no dam. There was no danger.
A short while later the citizens came shuffling back into town embarrassed by their collective response to fear. Some suffered from the stampede, some died, while others were lucky.
Reject fear and choose faith to get a better future.
The Future is just:

F - focused
U - utility/utilized
T - timing
U - used in
R - realizing
E - expectations

512
Business Administration / Something Positive to Read Before the Day Begins
« on: September 08, 2014, 05:01:50 PM »
I don't know what is coming but I am prepared for the worst with infinite energy, courage, passion, patience, and confidence.
I am fearless. I am on a quest of finding my true self. I am working hard to meet the true me. I will get to it. I am in no hurry.
I want to start from basic. I have learnt to be cheerful and enjoy every moment. I have no complaints or regrets. I thank everyone for their contribution in forming me.
I will strive for what I want, no matter what. I'll help others to maximum themselves as best I can and harm no one. I'll be myself in my purest form.
I'll learn from my mistakes.
I'll take care of my parents.
I'll be socially responsible and do my part.
I'll strive for the best and shall not compromise on quality I offer.
I'll work from my full heart.

513
Business Administration / Ten Qualities of Exceptional Teachers
« on: September 08, 2014, 05:00:35 PM »
1. Definitely, respect for students is a very important attribute.
2. Encouragement
3. Teachers who never show off.
4. Practice equality for boys and girls, rich and poor, brilliant and average students.
5. Inspiring to question and challenge.
6. Sense of Humor.
7. Hands-on Learning.
8. Make Tests Tasty, Not Testy.
9. Students Do Want to Learn
10. -- Did I say it before? Never hurt them.
Some of the best teachers I've had in my long years with them the above exceptional qualities. I carry them in my mind as my role models. They've made me, me. These artisans have changed a piece of rock -- the pathor -- into a somewhat refined object of a somewhat good-looking entity.
I'm happy I've known these exceptional teachers.


514
Business Administration / 10 things an effective leader will tell employees
« on: September 08, 2014, 04:48:01 PM »
1. "I really don’t care whether you like me."
You’re an adult; if I’m a hard ass and provide you constructive criticism, I expect you to evaluate the input and take corrective action to meet my expectations
I’m a big boy and understand criticism is hard to take, so I really don’t care if you like me, my goal is to provide you leadership that grows your capabilities and ensures you provide value add to the company.

2. "I don't think I know everything."
I don’t know everything, never said I did. But I am a subject matter expert in this field because I had mentors that poured time and energy into me in addition to my own hard work. I have been promoted because I demonstrated capability, so when I provide constructive criticism, it’s goal is to make you a better resource (assuming you learn from the input).

3. "It’s OK to be cheerful and make the job fun"
Work hard, play hard. If you complete the task I provided and have time left at the end of the day I understand that. If you chose to take it easy after that and not to take on more responsibility I’ll make not of that as well.
Have fun working, doesn’t mean wasting excessive time. It means enjoying the work and having a cheerful disposition.

4. "I'll pay you."
I’ll pay you a balance of what the job allows and what value add you provide the company. If money is your end goal, there will always be someone who will pay more, but I’m fair and will equip and train you to be a subject matter expert. I will train you to be my replacement.
If you cannot figure out that money doesn’t grow on trees and that I have a budget to keep, maybe I overestimated you when I hired you.

5. "Job hopping reflects character and ambitions"
In the world we live in if you are job hopping more that once a year, I will question your capabilities. If you job hope every 3-4 years and assumed more responsibility each move I will consider you a viable candidate that will likely show initiative, but also presents a flight risk that may take general IP with you when you leave.
To climb the ladder you will likely have to change jobs, be wise when you do so.

6. "You do what you have to, until you do what you want to, until you do what you were made for."
Don’t be too proud to scrub a toilet or mop a floor. Do what must be done to provide for your needs. All the while have a plan and work your plan to get to a job that you enjoy. And God willing along the way, you will understand what God made you for and you can pursue that.

7. "Autonomy is earned."
I will train you to be my replacement. The more you demonstrate the skills I need, and can meet or exceed my expectations, the more I will train you and the more responsibility I will give you.
Time in a job does not equate to being a subject matter expert, successfully demonstrating technical and tactical proficiency will make you a subject matter expert.
You want to be respected and enjoy autonomy, become a subject matter expert.

8. "It's my job to have situational awareness."
I praise in public, reprimand in private, and train you all as a team. I know everyone’s strengths and opportunities for improvement. If you are concerned about someone else you should talk to them as a team member. If you think they are not responding to your encouragement, come talk to me.

9. "Need to know."
In life we are all on a need to know basis. If my task is not clear, or the reason I need the task completed is not clear, of if you are not clear on how to accomplish the task, please come and talk to me.
But you are not in my position, and you will not have all the information I have. I will keep you informed, and I will be transparent about why things need to get done. You must accept these facts in order to not be miserable.

10. "I worry -- about everything."
When we do our job right, 150 people are employed, and 150 families have some security in their lives. I take this job seriously, and consider all factors that impact this reality.
So if I ride your ass it’s because you are not the center of my universe and I am concerned about how your work impacts 150 other families.
At the end of the day, you should think about how your work impact those around you, because I sure do. I take this job everywhere I go, I pray for wisdom, discernment, and ability.

515
Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Exercise Can Improve Long-Term Memory
« on: September 08, 2014, 04:46:00 PM »
Exercise improves mood, information processing and makes your thinking more flexible.
But what effect does exercise have on memory? Well, it depends on the type of memory, since it is split into two main types: short and long.
Working memory
Something like short-term memory is usually called ‘working memory’ by psychologists.
Working memory includes what’s in your conscious mind right nowand whatever you’re doing with this information. This might include the gist of the last sentence or two and the meanings, conclusions and thoughts you’re having about them. Roughly speaking, it’s the stuff that your mind is working on right now.
Studies suggest that exercise is broadly beneficial for working memory. After 30 minutes exercise, people’s working memory improves. There’s some evidence that accuracy drops a bit, but this is more than made up for by increases in speed (McMorris et al., 2011).
Long-term memory
For psychologists, long-term memory is pretty much what you think it is: it’s anything that leaves conscious thought to be recalled much later.
The effects of exercise on long-term memory are less clear. Some studies show benefits, others not.
But a recent study suggests that exercise only benefits long-term memory under certain conditions (Schmidt-Kassow et al., 2013).
This study had young women trying to learn new words, either after or while they rode an exercise bike.
What they found was that there was a boost to long-term memory when the new vocab was learned during exercise, but not if the learning took place afterwards.
Studies suggest that the exercise should be relatively low-intensity or the brain gets over-stimulated and the benefits may be lost.
We don’t yet know if these benefits extend to other types of learning, or during other types of exercise, but it’s likely they will.
So, if you’re trying to learn a new language, it might be worth listening to those language tapes while you’re working out. Not only will you be keeping fit, but you’ll also be giving yourself a better chance of laying down stronger long-term memories.
 

516
Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / How to Stop Your Mind Wandering
« on: September 08, 2014, 04:43:24 PM »
A lack of concentration can be combated using a short form of mindfulness training, a study of undergraduates finds.
Mind wandering in general is often associated with increased stress and a lack of academic success.
The college experience, however, offers many distractions much more absorbing than academic work.
The recent study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, split students into two groups: one which received the mental training, the other which received no training (Morrison et al., 2014).
All the students were tested for how much their minds wandered and how they did on a test of sustained attention.
Students in the mindfulness group were taught to observe and be aware of the activity in their own minds, as well as keeping their focus in the present moment.
One of the benefits of mindfulness is that while being mindful it is harder to ruminate: to worry about things that have already happened or which are going to happen in the future.
The training took 1 hour a week for 7 weeks.
The results showed that the groups did not differ at the start of the experiment, but by the end those that had received the training scored better on the test of sustained attention.
Not only that but the mindfulness group reported that their minds wandered less than those who had received no training.
Amishi Jha, who co-authored the study, said:
“This work was the first to integrate mindfulness training into the academic semester by embedding training in students’ course schedules, hosting training in the academic building to best accommodate their schedules, and providing a supervised space for mindfulness exercises.”


517
Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Tea: 6 Brilliant Effects on the Brain
« on: September 08, 2014, 04:41:57 PM »
1. Green tea may help fight Alzheimer’s
Scientists have found that a natural component of green tea may eventually provide a way of curing Alzheimer’s disease (Rushworth et al., 2013).
Early-stage research has found that a component of green tea–epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG)–can disrupt the build up of plaques in the brain, which is what causes the cells to die.
Eventually this may help lead to a cure for the crippling disease.
2. Old brains love tea
While we’ll have to wait for the Alzheimer’s research to progress, tea has been shown to have more immediate effects.
A study of 2,031 people aged between 70 and 74 found that those who drank tea–which contain micronutrient polyphenols, like EGCG–had better cognitive performance (Nurk et al., 2009).
Polyphenols are also contained in red wine, cocoa and coffee.
3. Improved cognition
You hardly need me to tell you that tea makes you feel alert, but it’s down to more than just the caffeine…
Tea also contains theanine, a psychoactive amino acid almost unique to tea.
Although we know much less about the effects of theanine than we do caffeine, there are multiple studies connecting it with enhanced cognitive performance (Einother & Martens, 2013).
4. That famous calming effect
Not only is theanine responsible for improving cognition, it also provides the famous calming effect of tea.
When theanine is given to people, their brains exhibit more α-waves, which are indicative of relaxation without drowsiness (Juneja et al., 1999)
5. Tea boosts memory
Theanine, along with EGCG, has also been implicated in improvements to memory.
Korean research by Chung et al. (2011) has found that green tea extract and L-theanine can produce memory improvements in people suffering from mild cognitive impairments.
Mouse studies on EGCG suggest that it helps memory by increasing the production of new brain cells (Wang et al., 2012)
6. Better mental health
All the benefits of drinking tea mean it could be a factor in improved overall mental health.
Hozawa et al. (2009) tested this in a population study of 42,093 Japanese. This study found that drinking green tea was associated with less psychological distress.
The same positive effect of drinking tea has been found in 1,058 elderly Japanese people (Niu et al., 2009).
Theanine has even been tested in the treatment of schizophrenia with some success in reducing anxiety and other symptoms (Ritsner et al., 2011).

518
The six steps to mindfulness
For those of you who’d like to try this at home, here’s what the mindfulness classes involved:
“(a) sitting in an upright posture with legs crossed and gaze lowered,
(b) distinguishing between naturally arising thoughts and elaborated thinking,
(c) minimizing the distracting quality of past and future concerns by reframing them as mental projections occurring in the present,
(d) using the breath as an anchor for attention during meditation,
(e) repeatedly counting up to 21 consecutive exhalations
(f ) allowing the mind to rest naturally rather than trying to suppress the occurrence of thoughts.”

519
Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Green Tea Improves Working Memory
« on: September 08, 2014, 04:39:38 PM »
New evidence for thecognitive benefits of teacomes from a study published inPsychopharmacology.
Researchers at the University of Basel have now found that green tea extract can improve working memory (Schmidt et al., 2014).
Working memory is vital to holding pieces of visual, verbal or other information in your mind while you manipulate them.
Better working memory has been linked to improved learning, attention and other vital outcomes.
Synaptic functioning
In their study, participants were given a drink which sometimes contained green tea extract and were then asked to complete a series of tests of their working memory.
Either way the drink looked and tasted the same, whether or not it contained green tea extract.
Meanwhile, their brains were scanned to see how the green tea affected synaptic functioning.
What the researchers found was that not only did participants do better on the tests after ingesting the green tea, but that it enhanced the connections between the frontal and parietal regions of the brain.
The findings are interesting especially for older adults, as a series of studies have suggested green tea may be beneficial in this area:
“…consumption of green tea improved memory and attention in subjects with mild cognitive impairments and that the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods such as green tea reduced beta-amyloid-mediated cognitive impairments.
[...]
Furthermore, higher consumption of green tea has also been associated with a lower prevalence of cognitive impairments in older adults.” (Schmidt et al., 2014).
 

520
If you find it difficult to remember what you’ve read, try giving the memory time to consolidate.
I have a great memory for books I’ve read on trains.
I always thought this had something to do with the nature of train travel: the rocking of the carriage, the rhythm of the stops, the continually changing picture window. Perhaps the combination of all these helps induce a focus which is harder to achieve in familiar circumstances.
Or perhaps the answer is simpler.
Psychologists have found that brief resting periods after learning aids memory. In studies, when people take a little rest after learning, say, a string of numbers, they do better in recall than other people who’ve been given another task straight away.
It is thought that this little rest helps consolidate the memory, making it easier to retrieve. On the other hand if you go straight on to another task, the memory doesn’t have a chance to solidify.
I began to wonder if this suggested why I find it easier to recall books I’ve read on trains.
Unlike at home where I read continuously, on a train I tend to stop more frequently to look out of the window or see who is getting on at the next stop. These would be exactly the type of restful periods described in this research.
The problem is these findings have only been shown over very short periods. That is until now.
10-minute break
In a new study the effect of a 10-minute break was tested on participants’ recall of a story 7 days later (Dewar et al., 2012).
They found that even after 7 days people’s memory was enhanced when they took a 10-minute break after reading the story. In fact, 7 days later people who’d taken a break were as good as those trying to recall the story just 15-30 minutes later, but without the break.
So perhaps this helps explain why I have a clearer memory of books I’ve read on trains.
It also shows that one of the pleasures of reading—pausing to let it wash over you—is not only agreeable but also helps you remember what you’ve read.

521
Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Six Memory Myths
« on: September 08, 2014, 04:37:30 PM »
1. People suffering from amnesia typically cannot recall their own name or identity.
Fully 83% of people agreed either ‘mostly’ or ‘strongly’ with this statement. In contrast all the experts disagreed ‘mostly’ or ‘strongly’ with this statement. In fact people suffering from amnesia normally canremember their own name and identity.
The reason people get this so wrong is probably because they are often exposed to incredibly inaccurate depictions of amnesia. Films like ‘The Bourne Identity’ (and every sitcom ever made that uses an amnesia plot) are partly to blame; while films like ‘Memento’, with its much more accurate depiction of amnesia, are in the minority.
2. In my opinion, the testimony of one confident eyewitness should be enough evidence to convict a defendant of a crime.
37% of the public agreed, while all 16 experts disagreed. Actually eyewitness testimony can be frighteningly inaccurate. One of the problems with memory is that people are surprisingly suggestible.
Even relatively small differences in the way eyewitnesses are handled can have a huge impact on what they claim to have seen. For a good example have a look at this article I wrote about faulty eyewitness testimony.
3. Human memory works like a video camera, accurately recording the events we see and hear so that we can review and inspect them later.
63% of the public agreed, while all 16 experts disagreed. This is a surprisingly high percentage given how most people frequently have problems recalling basic facts. Human memory works nothing like a video camera.
In reality what we recall is affected by our current emotional state, our motivations and so on. And, of course, a lot of the time we can’t remember it at all. See this previous article on the transience of memory.
4. Hypnosis is useful in helping witnesses accurately recall details of crimes.
55% of the public agreed, while 14 experts disagreed and 2 didn’t know or thought it was unclear.
Hypnosis is a bit more controversial, but still the public had a lot more faith in it than the psychologists. Part of the problem with hypnosis is that it can make people incredibly suggestible to completely false information. Through hypnosis, eyewitnesses can come to believe things that never happened. One great example is the ‘lost in the mall‘ study.
5. People generally notice when something unexpected enters their field of view, even when they’re paying attention to something else.
78% of the public agreed and 13 experts disagreed, while 3 agreed. This one was the most controversial for the experts, but probably because there’s little evidence about how often we fail to notice when something unexpected comes into view.
The general point here is that people are much more absent-minded than they think. That’s because of the paradox that we don’t notice what we don’t notice. For all the classic examples check out this previous article on attentional blindness.
6. Once you have experienced an event and formed a memory of it, that memory does not change.
48% of the public agreed while 15 experts disagreed and one thought it was unclear. Actually even so-called ‘flashbulb memories’—like where you were when Kennedy was shot—can be quite inaccurate or easily change over time.
For a great example of how malleable memories are, check out this previous article on how memories are distorted and invented.

522
1. Write about your problems
To do complex tasks we rely on our ‘working memory’. This is our ability to shuttle information in and out of consciousness and manipulate it. A more efficient working memory contributes to better learning, planning, reasoning and more.
One way to increase working memory capacity indirectly is through expressive writing. You sit down for 20 minutes a few times a month and write about something traumatic that has happened to you. Yogo and Fujihara (2008) found that it improved working memory after 5 weeks.
Psychologists aren’t exactly sure why this works, but it does have a measurable effect.
2. Look at a natural scene
Nature has a magical effect on us. It’s something we’ve always known, but psychologists are only just getting around to measuring it.
One of nature’s beneficial effects is improving memory. In one study people who walked around an arboretum did 20% better on a memory test than those who went for a walk around busy streets.
In fact you don’t even need to leave the house. Although the effects aren’t as powerful, you can just look at pictures of nature and that also has a beneficial effect (I describe this study in detail here).
3. Say words aloud
This is surely the easiest of all methods for improving memory: if you want to remember something in particular from a load of other things, just say it out loud. A study (described here) found memory improvements of 10% for words said out loud, or even just mouthed: a relatively small gain, but at a tiny cost.
4. Meditate (a bit)
Meditation has been consistently found to improve cognitive functioning, including memory. But meditation takes time doesn’t it? Long, hard hours of practice? Well, maybe not.
In one recent study, participants who meditated for 4 sessions of only 20 minutes, once a day, saw boosts to their working memory and other cognitive functions (the study is described here, also see my beginner’s guide to meditation).
5. Predict your performance
Simply asking ourselves whether or not we’ll remember something has a beneficial effect on memory. This works for both recalling things that have happened in the past and trying to remember to do things in the future.
When Meier et al. (2011) tested people’s prospective memory (remembering to do something in the future), they found that trying to predict performance was beneficial. On some tasks people’s performance increased by almost 50%.
6. Use your body to encode memories
We don’t just think with our minds, we also use our bodies. For example, research has shown that we understand language better if it’s accompanied by gestures.
We can also use gestures to encode memories. Researchers trying to teach Japanese verbs to English speakers found that gesturing while learning helped encode the memory (Kelly et al., 2009). Participants who used hand gestures which suggested the word were able to recall almost twice as many Japanese words a week later.
7. Use your body to remember
Since our bodies are important in encoding a memory, they can also help in retrieving it. Psychologists have found that we recall past episodes better when we are in the same mood or our body is in the same position (Dijkstra et al., 2007).
This works to a remarkably abstract degree. In one study by Cassasanto and Dijkstra (2010), participants were better able to retrieve positive memories when they moved marbles upwards and negative memories when they moved marbles downwards. This seems to be because we associate up with happy and down with sad.

523
Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / How to Easily Improve Your Memory
« on: September 08, 2014, 04:35:15 PM »
1. Clench your right fist
If you squeeze your right hand into a fist during learning, it can aid memory.
Later on, to aid recall, squeeze your left hand into a fist.
In study by Propper et al. (2013), participants who squeezed their right fist during learning and their left during recall, did better than control groups clenching the other fist or not clenching at all.
2. Chew gum
Chewing gum can help you stay focused on a task and so improve your memory.
A study by Morgan et al. (2013) tested the audio memory of those chewing gum, compared with those who didn’t.
The gum chewers had improved short-term memory compared with non-chewers.
3. Go to sleep
One of the many benefits of sleep is that it makes memory stronger.
That’s because the brain is surprisingly busy during sleep and one of the things it’s doing is working on our memories.
Not only does sleep make our memories stronger, it also restructures and reorganises them.
Studies have shown, for example, that people are more likely to dream about things with a higher value to them, and are subsequently more likely to recall those things (Oudiette et al., 2013).
And, if what’s important to you is learning to play the piano, you could even try listening to the piece while you nap, as one study has shown this helps cement the memory (Anthony et al., 2012).
More on how the mind learns during sleep.
4. Go for a walk
Many people suffer memory problems with advancing years.
But, walking just six miles a week helps to preserve memory in old age.
One study has found that older people who walked six to nine miles per week had greater gray matter volume nine years later than those who were more sedentary (Erickson et al., 2010).
5. Stop smoking
Although the physical benefits of quitting smoking are well-known, it’s less well-known that it will also benefit memory.
That’s because smoking damages the memory, and quitting can almost restore it to normal function (Hefferman et al., 2011).
That’s one more reason to quit (or to be happy that you don’t smoke).
6. Ignore stereotypes
If you think your memory will get much worse with age, then it probably will. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Older people who are reminded of stereotypes about age and memory perform worse in tests (Hess et al., 2003).
So, suffer fewer memory problems with age by paying no heed to the stereotypes.
7. Read Facebook posts
One study has found that people’s memories are much stronger for posts on Facebook than for sentences from books, or even people’s faces.
Mickes et al. (2013) found that Facebook posts were probably easier to remember because they were ‘mind-ready’: they were already in an easily digestible format and written in spontaneous natural speech.
Facebook is also full of juicy gossip, which probably doesn’t hurt!
8. Sniff rosemary
The smell of the essential oil, rosemary, has been shown to improve long-term memory, mental arithmetic and prospective memory–remembering to do things at certain times.
In one study, participants who sat in a room infused with the scent of rosemary performed better on a memory task than a control group (McCready & Moss, 2013).
9. Lose weight
Like smoking, putting on weight is associated with memory problems–but these are also reversible.
Lose some of the weight and memory function is likely to return.
Petterson et al. (2013) found that older, overweight, women whose weight dropped from an average of 85kg (188 pounds) to 77kg (171 pounds), over six months, saw improved memory function.
10. Turn off the computer and sit quietly
Now that you’ve read this article, it’s time to turn off the computer, tablet or phone and sit quietly.
That’s because when we are idle, the brain is actually still performing important memory functions.
Professor Erik Fransén explains:
“The brain is made to go into a less active state, which we might think is wasteful; but [is] probably [when] memory consolidation [...] takes place [...].
“When we max out our active states with technology [...] we remove from the brain part of the processing, and it can’t work.”

524
Common Forum/Request/Suggestions / Relaxation Techniques for Anxiety
« on: September 07, 2014, 05:57:15 PM »
1. Progressive relaxation
The most commonly studied type of relaxation therapy may be familiar to you. It involves mentally going around the muscle groups in your body, first tensing then relaxing each one. It’s as simple as that. And with practice it becomes easier to spot when you are becoming anxious and muscles are becoming tense as, oddly, people often don’t notice the first physical signs of anxiety.
This is based on the idea that the mind follows body. When you relax your body, the mind also clears.

2. Applied relaxation
Applied relaxation builds on progressive relaxation. First you learn to relax you muscle groups one after the other. The next stage is to cut out the tensing phase and move straight to relaxing each muscle. Next you learn to associate a certain cue, say thinking ‘serenity now!’ (hello Seinfeld fans!) with a relaxed state. You then learn to relax really quickly. Finally you practice your relaxation technique in real-world anxiety-provoking situations.
Once again, mostly this is about mind following the body.

3. Autogenic training
Goes back to the 1930s and is another technique for progressively relaxing the muscles. To help you do this it has a mantra which you repeat to yourself as you go around major muscle groups: “my right arm is very heavy” and so on. A second stage involves inducing a feeling of warmth in the muscles. Once they feel ‘heavy’ from the first stage, you follow another mantra about warmth: “my right arm is very warm” and so on.
Further stages involve calming the heart and the abdomen and cooling the brow in much the same way.
Once again, you’ll notice that this is all about the mind following a calm body. As before practitioners recommend daily practice so that you can relax more and more quickly. With practice the simple intention to start the training will be enough to cause the body to become relaxed and warm.

4. Meditation
Here’s our old friend meditation which has so many different benefits. If you’ve been reading PsyBlog for a while you’ll have seen this come up in numerous contexts. There is certainly evidence that it can work for people who experience anxiety as well. I describe the basics of mindfulness meditation in this article about attention and meditation.
Be aware that meditation is quite difficult and the drop-out rates are high from studies which investigate it (Krisanaprakornkit et al., 2009). This suggests some people don’t find it particularly acceptable. For people who can manage it, though, the results are often better than the other techniques (Manzoni et al., 2005).
Notice that this technique is much more actively related to the mind than the first three methods. It doesn’t just target the body and wait for the mind to follow, instead it’s about the way attention is focused. This may be partly why people find it harder. Still, it probably won’t do any harm to try.
→ Find out more about the benefits of meditation.

5. Cognitive behavior therapy
Finally cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, targets both mind and body. As it’s primarily a talking therapy you normally have to go to a psychologist who will help you target unhelpful thinking patterns. But there are books available that explain how it works (I mention a few here: 6 Self-Help Books for Depression Recommended by Experts). However these don’t specifically target anxiety, they’re mostly for mild depression.
All together now
And there’s no reason why you should stick to only one approach. When Manzoni et al. looked at studies which used multi-modal techniques, they found these were effective as well.
If you need to relax—for whatever reason and at whatever time—then try one or more of these different methods. As you’ll have noticed the effective techniques share a lot in common. Regular practice is the key and, if you give it a chance, the mind really will follow the body.

525
1. Awareness
This is the step most people skip. Why? Because it feels like we already know the answer. You probably already think you know what makes you anxious.
But sometimes the situations, physical signs and emotions that accompany anxiety aren’t as obvious as you might think. So try keeping a kind of ‘anxiety journal’, whether real or virtual. When do you feel anxious and what are the physical signs of anxiety?
Sometimes this stage on its own is enough to help people with their anxiety. As I never tire of saying, especially in the area of habits, self-awareness is the first step to change.

2. Breathing
If you’ve been reading PsyBlog for a while you’ll know all about how both mind and body each feed back to the other. For example, standing confidently makes people feel more confident. Mind doesn’t just affect body, body also affects mind.
It’s the same with anxiety: taking conscious control of breathing sends a message back to the mind.
So, when you’re anxious, which is often accompanied by shallow, quick breathing, try changing it to relaxed breathing, which is usually slower and deeper. You can count slowly while breathing in and out and try putting your hand on your stomach and feeling the breath moving in and out.
In addition, adopt whatever bodily positions you associate with being relaxed (although suddenly lying down before giving a talk in public might be a step too far!). Typically these are things like relaxing muscles, adopting an open stance to the world (unfold arms, hint of a smile).

3. Calming thoughts
It’s all very well saying: “Think calming thoughts”, but who can think of any calming thoughts when stressful situations are approaching and the heart is pumping?
The key is to get your calming thoughts ready in advance. They could be as simple as “Calm down!” but they need to be things that you personally believe in for them to be most effective. It’s about finding what form of words or thoughts is right for you.

4. Increase activity
It might seem strange to say that the answer to anxiety is more activities, as we tend to think the answer to anxiety is relaxation and that involves doing less.
But, when unoccupied, the mind wanders, often to anxieties; whereas when engaged with an activity we enjoy, we feel better. Even neutral or somewhat wearing activities, like household admin, can be better than sitting around worrying.
The problem with feeling anxious is that it makes you less likely to want to engage with distracting activities. You see the problem.
One answer is to have a list of activities that you find enjoyable ready in advance. When anxiety hits at an inactive moment, you can go off and do something to occupy your mind.
Try to have things on your list that you know you will enjoy and are easy to get started on. For example, ‘invent a time machine’ may be biting off a tiny bit more than you can chew, but ‘a walk around the block’ is do-able.

5. Sleep skills
Often when people are anxious they have problems sleeping. Sometimes when you feel anxious there’s nothing worse than lying in bed, in the dark, with only your own thoughts to occupy your attention.
And lack of sleep leads to anxiety about sleeping which can lead, paradoxically, to worse sleep.

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