from the world's big
Your mind is stronger than the anxiety it creates. Learn to shift your mindset.
Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal discusses a three-step process to shift your mindset when anxiety creeps in.
Fear and anxiety disorders affect 20 percent of the American population, making these disorders the most prevalent psychiatric problem in the nation. While many understand anxiety as an overstimulated response system reacting to an uncertain environment, NYU Professor Joseph Ledoux believes this evolutionary argument is misguided.
We have not inherited feelings from our animal predecessors, he says, but rather inherited “mechanisms that detect and respond to threats." Consciousness plays a decisive role in how we translate messages we receive from our environment. In Anxious he writes,
When these threat-processing mechanisms are present in a brain that can be conscious of its own activities, conscious feelings of fear or anxiety are possible; otherwise threat processing mechanisms motivate behavior but do not necessarily result in or involve feelings of fear and anxiety.
Anne Marie Albano, Professor of Medical Psychology and Director of Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, works with anxiety, which is actually her advice as well—work with it, not against it. Sensations of anxiety evolved to protect us. This system, she says, goes awry when you perceive immediate danger that isn't really there.
An example: About a decade ago I had a severe panic attack in an East Village restaurant. I'm not certain of the trigger, but it caused me to rise from my seat to flee to the bathroom. I walked roughly ten feet and didn't wake up for nearly a minute, when I was cradled by a woman I apparently landed on.
(Turns out I walked twenty feet after blacking out, straight into a wall and then onto the poor woman. I only knew this because, unbeknownst to me, a woman I had recently met was seated nearby. Ironically, she is a neuroscience journalist who had just published a piece on the brain and anxiety.)
Two days later I had another attack at the Wall St subway station in which I nearly blacked out. Every subsequent time I entered that station an attack occurred. My workaround was walking a few blocks to City Hall and thereby increasing my commute time, which is always fun in a New York City winter. I didn't return to that restaurant for years.
As Albano phrases it, we envision an immediate danger that isn't there. We do it all the time. Research shows that roughly 50 percent of our day is spent thinking about something not in your immediate environment. Other research shows that we have thousands of daydreams every single day. How we fill that mental space can bring great pleasure to our lives, but it can also cripple us.
Albano differentiates between everyday anxiety (which we all have and is helpful as our brain evolved to cope with stress)—and chronic anxiety. That's creating a big problem, socially and economically: one study found that Americans lose 321 million work days every year due to anxiety and depression, which costs the economy $50 billion. More Americans head to the doctor for anxiety than for migraines or back pain. The World Health Organization claims anxiety disorder is the most common mental illness on the planet.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been the most successful course of treatment, according to Albano. When combined with the right pharmaceutical treatment for anxiety she says symptoms can be alleviated. Of course, this is a challenging balancing act, given our pill overload. Cure-alls are impossible when anxiety is so individual and specific. Albano is hopeful; the cognitive and biological mechanisms behind anxiety are being discovered, which she believes will disrupt the chain between a trigger and attack. She also believes we'll soon be able to address the process in young sufferers to tamp down the process earlier in life.
While Albano is a fan of talk therapy and pharmaceutical interventions, health psychologist Kelly McGonigal discusses a three-step process to shifting your mindset when anxiety arises.
- Acknowledge stress when you experience it
- Welcome the stress by recognizing that it's a response to something you care about
- Make use of the energy that stress gives you, instead of wasting that energy trying to manage your stress
Before I understood the depths of my disorder (which thankfully, I no longer suffer from) that third step was part of my arsenal. When an attack occurred I'd run around my neighborhood or jump on a treadmill. Anxiety is physiological as well as psychological; using your bodily systems to work with, instead of against, it is therapeutic.
Because anxiety can “create a state of concentrated attention," McGonigal suggests using that intense focus for something positive. Let's face it: triggers are everywhere. If one of every five people suffer from this disorder something cultural is happening. And when so many people are unwilling to talk about it, scared that it's “only in your head," as I was told for so long, we need to create supportive environments, which on a broad level we definitely are not. Given our current health care uncertainty, not everyone can afford the therapies Albano suggest, useful as they might be.
Your brain is wired for anxiety, as Albano suggests, as well as for dealing with it. Reframing your mindset is available to you at every moment. It's not easy, but it just might help you work with your mind instead of fighting it every step of the way.
Derek's latest book, Whole Motion: Training Your Brain and Body For Optimal Health, is out now. He is based in Los Angeles. Stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter.
Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.