Mental Unwinding – Decoding Breaks

Aren’t we all unwinding something or the other every time? Isn’t it too difficult to stay with the same old feeling which blocks our thinking? How about a break, how about times when you just look up to the sapphire sky and breathe, unraveling the mysteries of life and returning back home rejuvenated in the midst of mundane and tiresome routines.

We are prone to feeling fatigued and bored from routines, and perhaps what keeps playing on our mind is a break. Breaks are short periods of time when we change the boring routine of incoming information, which usually arrives via predictable, tedious, and well-worn pathways. And most of us have thought about taking a break, at some point or the other. The nature of breaks can have different forms; it may be a tea break or a power nap, depending on person to person. Each of us has different meanings of breaks and distinct needs that we aim to fulfill via such breaks. Breaks can be either volitional or forced. Volitional breaks are most often voluntary, we decide to take a break and hence we take it, such as a walk in between our work. Whereas on the other hand, forced breaks are unwillingly taken, such as any medical emergency or any urgency on board that can be exhausting too.

We often feel the need to give our minds a booster shot and rejuvenate our mental processes. Our brain requires substantial time to think of innovative ideas or just wander. While talking about wandering, the meaning may in itself take different forms. Wandering is when we diverge; it is not necessary to have any aim in mind. We are usually so structure ridden, that wandering gives us a new lens to view things.

People need free space to create a better capacity to work effectively and efficaciously. On a typical day, there is an overwhelming amount of data that our brains process, which is why there is a necessity to give our brains a break. Recent studies have shown how small periods of diversions from a task can dramatically have an impact on our ability to focus for a longer period. The results suggested that prolonged attention onataskhinders performance. Apart from those mentioned above, meditation and mindfulness training are other ways of taking breaks. Mindfulness is characterized by merely paying precise, nonjudgmental attention to the details of our experience as it arises and subsides, not necessarily rejecting anything. Instead of struggling to get away from the incident we find difficult, we move towards being able to be with them. We bring mindfulness to pleasant experience as well.  Being mindful is not a substitute for actually participating in our lives. In fact, the more mindful we are, the more skillful we can be. There are three basic aspects worked with, in this technique. First, is the environment surrounding our body and body position. Second, working on breath, and last, working on thoughts such as plans for future goals.

Breaks restore our brain’s stores; they encourage productivity and creativity and most essentially increase our attention because our brains are built to detect and respond to change. They enhance our abilities, and give us time to reboot and complete our unfinished businesses.

While on a break, we allow our minds to wander, replay, absorb, and rewrite the blunders we may be committing. It helps to give ourselves moments to craft our own innovative ideas; to have the script ready in our heads and improvise before executing in real life. Breaks are reminders to go back to the past menu and pick out the moments that are now golden and keep a constant check on our growth.  Also, breaks help us note the sensations and experiences of various aspects of life, making our own narrative unique to ourselves. We don’t immediately take actions to get rid of our thoughts. It may take time and we are constantly in the process of learning to be with ourselves. It is of course possible that we’re just daydreaming of impossible acts of heroism or remembering our golden memories, but it’s also possible that we are xylographing the old wood and unraveling our potential.

Well! You can go ahead and take that break.

Anjali Kanojia

Find the original post here.

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Capture: From Cognition to Concretization

Photography is a medium through which we try to preserve fleeting moments. The photographer makes an attempt to take a photograph from a suitable angle, with appropriate light and colors to make the photograph meaningful. 

Photography dates back 150 years, and has covered a vast journey where it was seen as a perfect documentary medium because of its nature, i.e.,”the   medium ensured, unadulterated, exact replicas of the subject matter.”    

There have been developments in the field of photography in terms of applications like, “Instagram”, “Snapchat”, and “Facebook” to name a few. This is shown in different forms, to give an example, Humans  of New York,   talking about people and aspects of their life through the medium of photography. There has been development in the types of photography,   such as those with a focus on varying subject matter like nature, still life,  abstracts, portraits and fashion. There have been changes in terms of how people perceived photography as something intruding their private space to inclusivity today, where it has become a compulsory ritual in every occasion, social and otherwise. The purpose of photography in itself has changed and extended its limitations from official work to a trend today. 

While talking about photography, I would like to shift the focus to how a photographer makes a photograph. The way in which a photographer notices or understands something using his/her own senses is called perception.   Senses  such as vision, hearing, touch, smell, balance help us create a detailed  understanding of our surroundings, which are then captured through photographs.

We are naturally curious beings, we keep looking, exploring, and wandering along random paths. Some concertize their expression through speaking, some through writing; and some express through photography. For every individual there are differences  in perceptions based on one’s age, sex,culture, and expertise. When  a photographer views a scene, he/she makes meaning of it based on the information they receive from their senses and their past experiences. This further helps the photographer in framing.

Framing refers to the presentation on visual elements in an image, mainly the placement of the subject in regards to other objects. The goal is to bring the focus of the observer on the subject. It is primarily concerned with the position and the perspective of the viewer. There are a couple of factors such as depth of field, white space, vignetting, perspective distortion to name a few. Framing can be of different types,   such as environmental, structural, framing with light or without. They work towards bringing the attention of the observer towards the subject.

A photograph for most of us is like a visual diary of our past memories, feelings, and emotions. A photograph provides an opportunity to revisit our sensations in a more structured form. The essence of photography is not simply about a black machine filled with lenses and flashes, but is a step beyond. It’s about frames: what we are referring to and what we are expecting it to be perceived as by the other side through the senses. 

Our eyes have a dynamic feature to see the brightest and the darkest of colours. Considering the harmonious and disharmonious color patterns Sanocki  and Sulman conducted an Color  Relations Experiment to gauge the impact of color on visual short-term memory. They conducted four trials of both harmonious and disharmonious color palettes. The results showed that participants were better able to remember harmonious color palettes. Color differences between the foreground and the background may enhance one’s ability to focus our attention. 

For photographs to come out in their most natural form,the process of photography needs effort. A photographer needs to have a vision of what the capture of an image will look like. Visualization is  an important aspect in the field of photography, making a vivid final impact. The photographer must be able to see into the mind’s eye of the frame before he/she captures an experience. Mental imagery impacts the processing of perceptions, motor control, and planning. Visualization improves performance of a photographer and enables them to diversify across a variety of perspectives, rather than sticking to a unilateral way of capturing images. A photograph has elements in a frame such as shades, highlights and shadow details, exposure, and so on.

Our perception about an image is about how we structure and give meaning to the information we receive from our visual senses. Understanding the intention of a photograph, the meaning it makes, the feelings it evokes and the impact of an image on our brain is interlinked. Perception can be bidirectional when we consider photography i.e., from the perspective of the photographer and perspective of the observer who is looking at the photograph. There is a story which either connects the two  or a parallel that runs between the two individuals.   

While discussing about photography and perceptions in the two parallels of the photographer, and observer, the schema varies starkly from individual to individual in terms of age, gender and cultural background and expertise. The meaning I make of an object may vary from the meaning you make of it. Similarly, the lens and thereby the intention, with which an individual captures an image may vary from others in terms of its angle, frame, and so forth. 

There are constant themes that we as individuals work towards; one often clicks in the context of a particular theme. The art of photography is from the lens of both the photographer and the observer, from cognition to composition based upon his/her’s visualizations. 

Towards the end I realize that the photographs are too often looked at and rarely looked into, by viewing them through the frame of reference of a photographer. Most of us simply glance over photographs without thinking about the intention behind photographer’s capture. Viewing images within their frames of reference can help viewers make meaning, beyond the cursory glances we often give to the multiple images crowding our feeds. So the next time you view a selfie or a breathtaking landscape, take a moment to contextualize it; maybe you’ll connect with it. 

Anjali Kanojia

Originally posted here

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In Courage

In courage-you find
no fear
and in courage-no weakness
does appear
In courage-steps toward
danger taken
and in courage-strength
within awaken
In courage- a hero
takes shape
and in courage- the villain
can’t escape
In courage-there is a call
to duty
and in courage-out of ugliness
comes beauty.

By- Dorsey Baker

On Good Friday, I really hope you all find courage in these words to fight the pandemic. Stay safe.

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Overcoming Is Your Superpower

What do you mean by overcoming?

The dictionary defines it as – “succeed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty).”

For each one of us overcoming is different in its meaning and the ways in which you overcome.

It’s something that is subjective in nature and that which keeps on transforming based on your experiences, your abilities, your resilience and your skill set.

I find this word powerful because it brings in ease even in the state of stress, disappointment, fall, heartbreak or even grief.

Sometimes it takes me back to my school days song, “we shall overcome”, if you haven’t just google it. I assure you, you won’t be able to leave the song halfway. It’s both beautiful and strengthening.

So, what do you think about overcoming? Look back on the pages of the past wherein you overcame, where you triumphed your victory on the smallest and on the biggest things that were once impossible in your own head.

There are different ways, definitely. For some of you it could be surrendering, could be your favourite song, could be a friend who supports you, could be a family member, could be a quote, could be dancing or singing at the top of your voice, could be anything.

Don’t worry, if you are still searching. Keep looking, don’t settle (just like Steve Jobs said it).

Yes, you can overcome. And, I do believe that.

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Anxiety Management – 10 Ways

Most of us experience anxiety at some point or are still struggling with it.

Here I share 10 ways how you can teach your brain to manage anxiety

1. Begin to choose what matters more, you can do so by writing down the why’s – why you want to beat anxiety. Go back to the quotes which help you drive your motivation from.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

2. Make willingness a frequent practice. Begin with a non-judgmental attitude. Change your rules, for instance – I can do this. Build on your physical acceptance. Sit with anxiety while facing your fears. Meditation can help you here. You can download apps such as headspace. Learning grounding can calm both your mind & body.

3. Build emotional muscles; your brain is a big bunch of muscles, the more you practice, the better it becomes. It may take time initially just like your first day to gym but you’ll end up becoming stronger.

4. Give up on the idea of perfectionism. It won’t help you overcome. Bring about a growth mindset instead. Share your mistakes and learnings. It will help not just you buy others too.

5. Letting go the can’t handle stuff. You are undermining your potential. Let’s not forget that it comes from perfectionism.

6. Try shifting his you see or perceive your situations. Understand that there can be a cognitive bias hidden there. You can find a list of cognitive distortions from an authentic website and begin working on it with the help of your therapist.

7. Often said but rarely done, take baby steps. Write down your fears and set them in a hierarchy from lowes to highest. You can take help of your therapist.

8. Stay with your fears, I know it’s uncomfortable . Try this, allow yourself to be uncomfortable. Make it an activity and grade it down 1-10. Don’t force yourself, slowly and steadily. Remember small steps.

9. Get support, it is different from dependency. You need support to get up and stay motivated. It is a good thing to have someone around in our journeys. Take support from people who understand you, could be friends, family or your therapist.

10. Stay compassionate towards yourself. Your little wins matters. They go a long way.

I hope this helps you.

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Don’t Quit – John Greenleaf Whittier

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyong of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out,
Dont’ give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is falure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
For all the sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!”

End note-

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Laugh out lots

Remember when you were a child and you’d giggle and laugh every now and then. Whether it was about watching a baloon flying up in the air or a friend slipping on the floor.

Then why in the world did you forget it all and become so serious?

I am not saying keep laughing all the time. But just once in the 24 hours. It not only elevates your mood but also produces positive hormones.

I want to ask you a couple of questions and see the answers for yourself.

1. Did you ever had a parallel stream of thought when you saw a child having an ice-cream?

2. Have you ever laughed when your partner tried to compete with you in the things you do perfectly?

3. Did you ever hide your favourite sweets and saw one of the family members looking for it?

4. Did you watch a show full of dark humour and related it with yourself?

Yes, that was small. Just four questions.

Were they relatable?

I will be a little optimistic here and say that, you must have related to it. All I want to tell you is that find things within yourself and on the outside that brings a good laugh to your face. Send those vibrations to your beautiful heart and soul.

Coping mechanisms are everywhere, we just need to find one that suits us better.

And, a little bit of humour does zero harm.

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Some Mental Health Tips

You have the power to enact real change in the way you think, behave, and cope on a daily basis. But you need to put in the work.

It’s an established fact that nothing beats practice and determination. A therapist can teach you tools and help you with your concerns. But what happens outside of an hour long therapy if you don’t bring into practice.

Also, therapy is not accessible to everyone. For those who are not able to take therapy, it is okay. I understand that it is an investment that for the time being you need to put in somewhere else.

Here are some things you can do.

1. Try writing your thoughts down. Venting is a good way to relieve Just take five minutes, write down your thoughts, ideas. A good way to go about it is through making bullet points. You can maintain one through apps on your phone or just use your notes app on phone.

2. Put a positive spin. It’s easy, when you observe yourself in stress, worked up or sad. Get up, shake yourself off that. Jump sometime or just a little bit of wiggle-wiggle. Look outside at the sun/moon/stars. Sing your favourite song, read something that you like. Choose your favourite spin.

3. Talk to your inner voice. Not that tough. It might need a bit of practice. Remember when you answered something in class and you on the inside are guessing if it is correct or wrong, or even when you on the inside are giving yourself a crappy feedback. All of that counts. Try shifting that, help that part of you to nourish. Tell yourself what that you are worthy. That it is okay to learn things while making mistakes.

4. Some stretching takes a long way. It releases happy hormones. Take out 30 minutes and go for a walk in a garden nearby. Look at the trees and flowers. If you like doing yoga, you can do some of it. There are ton loads of material on asanas available online. Check it out.

5. Have healthy meals. Cook meals or make some salads. The act of preparing it in itself makes one feel better. Add nuts, fruits and ample amount of water to your routine.

6. And lastly, add a bedtime routine. Brush your teeth, read something light. Turn your lights dim that helps you induce sleep. Or just have a light conversation with your partner.

End note – There are a number of small but impactful ways to improve your mental health every day.

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Emotions And The Chemistry Behind

Every time you feel something your body initiates a physiological change, a chemical release and a behavioural response. This process involves multiple processes working together, including your major organs, neurotransmitters and the limbic system. Your limbic system is the most primordial part of your brain. It’s filled with ancient neural pathways that activate our emotions in response to stimuli and controls our fight-or-flight response through the autonomic nervous system.

This response evolved from a need to make decisions based on our emotions. The biological sensations in our bodies in response to emotions can feel very similar to one another. Imagine your palms sweating, feeling your cheek warm as they flush red, and your heart pounding jn your chest. You could feel this because you are sitting nervously in the dentist’s waiting room, or you could be excited as you wait to see your loved ones after they return from a holiday- the physiological reaction is the same.

Now that you have understood about the physiological part of it. Let me tell you that your emotions depend upon fluctuations in the neurotransmitters. It further activates the different parts in your brain responsible for different moods.

Adrenaline
Released by the adrenaline glands that sit on the top of the kidney, adrenaline increases the blood flow in muscles, raises heart rate & dilates pupils. It has a crucial role to play in the flight-fight survival response.

Dopamine
This one is an addictive reward chemical in your brain. Gives you the motivation to seek out things that you need for your survival.

Oxytocin
Aka “cuddle hormone” , often released when you are close to another person. Essential in developing social bonds, & a key part in why we want to trust people.

GABA
Regulates muscle tone. Regulates communication between brain cells. Can bring calming effects by slowing down neurons firing.

Glutamate
Most abundant neurotransmitter in the vertebral nervous system. Glutamate is used by nerve cells. But excess of it can cause cognitive impairments.

Serotonin
It is linked to our wellbeing and happiness. Our levels of it is affected by exercise and exposure to sunlight. It helps to regulate our mood balance , sleep cycle and digestion.

Endorphins
Triggered by the sensation of pain. It works on inhibiting the transmission of the pain signals. It is capable of producing euphoria. Some studies suggest that it may be stimulated by laughter.

Now, when you feel a certain way. You will know what inside mechanism working.

believe believe in yourself boost capacity building conscious consistency create deal with disappointment discoverempower engage entreprenuer fitness gratitude growth mindset happiness heal changes light love manifest Mental Healthmotivation new beginning positive power preventionproblemsolving psychology punctuality quotes rise save selfcareselfgrowth selflove stay strong subconscious mind trustunwind wellness work in progress