Monthly Archives: May 2011

Beautiful Photography

These are a few of the beautiful photographs I found on the Pokkisam website. They are all credited to the photographers of National Geographic.

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18 Ways to Trick Your Body

“Tricks of the Body” is by far one of the most informative articles I’ve read in a long while. It contains 18 tips on how to easily control simple things like a toothache or a stuffed nose. It also explains why these things work by giving examples of research conclusions.

I was actually able to test one of the points as I sat at my computer. Number 14 deals with preventing near-sightedness. The author explains that you should close your eyes, tense your body and take a deep breath. Release the breath and relax your muscles at the same time. Doing this every few hours in a day spent concentrating on a computer screen can reduce near-point stress on the involuntary muscles in the eyes. When I tried it, not only did my eyes just feel better, but the slight, nagging headache I’d been experiencing all day simply disappeared.

I think my problem with this article is going to be remembering exacly what I need to do when confronted with one of these situations. There is so much information in this article that I could find myself going through the motions to quell acid reflux in an attempt to ward of brain freeze. Maybe I should print it out and put it on a string around my neck..

Styles of Thinking

Eastern Washington University has an article on their website called, “15 Styles of Distorted Thinking” and unfortunately I fit into most of those 15 categories. Who among us can say that their actions at some point haven’t fit into most of these styles. This article is a part of their section on stress management and according to the site, recognizing these patterns of thinking can help you to understand the things that cause stress. These are simply ways of thinking to avoid.

I would assume, in a perfect world, a person might recognize after reading this article that they must be “Catastrophizing” a situation and if they just stop doing that, their stress level will dramatically decrease. What if there is an impending catastrophe? (Yes, I realize the very wording of the previous sentence is Catastrophizing) If so, a person would be denying their inborn sense of fight or flight in an attempt to ward off stress. Essentially a person would then sit and wait for the catastrophe to happen. Like falling and not stretching out your arms to catch your fall.

Since I was a small child, I was told to put myself in the other person’s shoes and think about how they must be feeling or thinking. In a sense, that is the idea conveyed by “Mind Reading” in this article. I’d like to believe that the article refers to an extreme version of this, where the mind reader doesn’t leave room for the chance that the observed person could possibly be thinking or feeling differently than they would. In my opinion that would actually be classed as something a little more severe than a stress point.

Most of these styles could easily fit into a diagnosis much larger than a simple stress point. That statement reminds me of another article that I recently read concerning an experiment with sane people willingly being admitted as patients in psychiatric hospitals. It was called the Rosenhan Experiment. These people pretended to hear voices and such and were diagnosed with psychiatric illnesses and admitted to several hospitals in various states in the US. After being admitted, they suddenly stopped hearing the sounds and voices and reverted back to “themselves.” Several of these people were kept in the hospitals for months and all were forced to admit that they had one mental illness or another and agree to take medications before they could be released. After these patients were released, doctors and nurses were asked to find fake patients in their hospitals. These healthcare workers were unaware that none of these patients were still in their care. The caregivers then proceeded to find a large number of patients in their care that seemed to have faked their conditions.

Thank goodness the days of lobotomies are gone. I don’t think any of us would be safe and I wonder how many of us would be classed as sane at the end of the day.

Bringing Folks Together

I ran across an extremely interesting website that deals with improving New York City but it could apply to any city anywhere. The site belongs to Candy Chang and it highlights several social experiments aimed at improving the city and bringing the people involved closer to their communities as a whole as well as to one another. I highly recommend a visit to the site and a browse through all of her projects.

One example is called “Before I Die.” One wall of an abandoned building was cleared to make way for chalk boards. Anyone passing by could grab a piece of chalk and fill in a blank describing what they would like to do before they die. This seems like a simple and pointless thing to do. A waste of money spent on chalk and chalk boards, not to mention the time it took for someone to put it all into place. In reality, the passers by found a psychological connection to those who had left their mark before them. Strangers on the street suddenly become “people” with feelings, hopes, dreams and real emotion. At the same time, this landmark building becomes a symbol of a community that cares about the hopes and dreams of those who live or work in the area. This was absolutely an amazing idea. There was so much more to this project and you can read about it and see more photos on Candy Chang’s site.

Another really neat idea was based on the amount of time that city dwellers spend walking from one place to another inside the city. Anyone who has used walking as their mode of transportation, knows that “walking time” is “thinking time.” So, while you are walking, instead of thinking of your grocery list or that huge pile of laundry you have to get to at some point, why not work on your mental state? That’s right, “Sidewalk Psychiatry!” This is nothing more than a few very broad questions stenciled onto city sidewalks designed to make people think about themselves and examine their own lives. Just think of how many life problems can be solved on a ten block walk if only you had been asked a question that brought you back to that subject and really made you think about it.

There are tons of other interesting projects on her site like the “I Wish This Was” stickers that were given out at no charge and people filled in the blanks and stuck them to something that needed an upgrade of some sort. An empty shop was labeled with types of businesses the community wanted and needed for example. Another project used sticky notes to anonymously get information about the amount of rent paid in different areas of the city. You fill in the number of bedrooms, the community name, how long you’ve lived there and how much rent you pay without signing your name to it.

Go have a look! Candy Chang

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