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Are We Being Served? How Technology Has Become Our Puppet Master

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Our preoccupation with technology

There are over two billion smartphone users in the world.

Using a cellular phone while driving is illegal in forty-eight states. In 2001 New York became the first state to ban the use of cellular phones while driving. Technology continues to tighten its grip.

Today, much of our time is spent using technology.

I am by no means exempt. Some days I immediately reach for my phone as soon as my eyelids separate.

I often take no thought to first giving God praise for waking me up. Sometimes I do not take a moment to plan my day before I reach out and touch technology.

Much of the projects I procrastinate on are due to the distractions of social media.

Some days I arise with a post already mentally written, only to become distracted by one ding from my phone. Or, I go to my email for some small detail and remain there for some time. Worse still it leads me to a ‘browsing’ spree.

More valuable time lost. Time I can never replace.

We have become so dependent on technology. Many of us spend more one-to-one time online than with our families.

This was not always so. Being a woman of a certain age, I did not grow up with a cellular phone in one hand.

How did this necessity become such an obsession? From the smallest child to the oldest adult, technology is all the rave.

I really never leave home without it.

Photo by abillion on Unsplash

Some time ago a video circulated of an older woman in New York, she was so engrossed in her cell phone she walked into an open manhole suffering severe injuries.

There are reports of persons walking into oncoming traffic and into the arms of death, all as a result of our fascination with social media. Each is trying to one-up the other with the perfect image or post for increased likes or follows.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, approximately 76,000 persons have suffered injuries due to cellular phones use. For each 100,000 cell phone users, at least two injuries are reported.

You can do the math.

The National Library of Medicine posits that cellular phone injuries of the head and neck have drastically increased over the past 20 years, with the majority of injuries among those aged 13 to 29 years.

Photo by Beth Macdonald on Unsplash

Text neck syndrome

Text neck syndrome is a fairly new diagnosis characterized by pain and headache, soreness to the neck, arms, and upper back.

The cervical spine is an amazing and efficient part of our bodies. It is the pathway for nourishment, provides support, protection and allows for 180° movement.

Widespread use of technology, texting, and computers have allowed for a steep increase in injuries of the neck and upper back.

A human head weighs approximately 12 pounds and, in its correct anatomical position, the weight is evenly distributed. But as we extend our necks forward and downward, the weight on the cervical spine increases.

At a 15-degree angle, the weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s about 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.

Imagine toting 40 to 60 pounds hanging on your neck each day!

Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash

Ways to prevent injuries

Technology is here to stay, and I would predict that the time spent on our devices may actually increase. Since prevention is not an option, let’s see how we can cure some of the pitfalls before they start: —

  1. Avoid using your device for greater than 20-minutes at any one time. Take short breaks. For every 20 minutes of screen time, take 20 seconds and look 20 feet ahead.
  2. Alternate your fingers to reduce repetitive injury. Keep your wrists as relaxed and straight as possible.
  3. Reduce injury by placing your device on a hard surface, in this way you won’t have to ‘grip’ with the other hand for prolonged periods.
  4. Be mindful of your posture and keep your device at your chest, chin, or eye level, this reduces the bend and strain to your neck and upper back. If you must have your phone below eye level, try to look down using your eyes rather than your neck, (very difficult to remember and do).
  5. Stay hydrated
  6. Blink your eyes often to keep them moisturized.
  7. During breaks, walk away from your phone and perform a few stretches.

Closing thoughts

Without a doubt, the web, cellular phones, and technology have revolutionized our world. It is a thing of beauty. It has made it possible to communicate, share information, and trade goods and services in real-time.

Our world is better for it. But we have a responsibility to educate ourselves and each other so that we can master its use safely.

Photo by Ravi Sharma on Unsplash

Irresponsible use of handheld devices is not only an error of the young, the older adults fall prey to its charms as well.

There is an urgent need for consumers to be educated about the dangers of the irresponsible use of technology, and on injury prevention while using these devices.

Remain mindful as you go about your life, practice helpful body mechanics so that you may be able to enjoy browsing the world wide web for a long time to come.

Posted on 18 Comments

Claustrophobia — Overcome The Crippling Fear!

Mental Health matters
Claustrophobia, some practical ways to cope with the fear and anxiety. Phobia, Claustrophobia, Anxiety, Fear, Feeling of dread, Terror
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
— Louisa May Alcott

Practical ways to cope with the fear and panic

Fear is a predator! If it senses any chink in the armor it will pounce!

Claustrophobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is characterized by the fear of and avoidance of confined spaces.

As a person who knows what it feels like to wrestle with this dreaded evil, I utilize some practical ways of subduing this beast without the use of medicine.

In many of my day-to-day activities, I am forced to use the elevator at my place of work. The thought of having to use an elevator causes my heart rate to accelerate and beads of sweat on my brow. If there is someone else in the elevator with me I can handle the anxiety better.

When I find myself alone in that elevator fear begins to unfurl on the inside creating a tornado of anxiety, with the potential to leave nothing but debris in its wake.

It feels like a tomb and I fear the doors will never reopen.

I imagine my co-workers finding me in a whimpering heap on the floor of the elevator. Not a comforting thought in my position.

I will go to any lengths to avoid the triggers unless there is no other recourse.

Photo by Heidi Fin on Unsplash

The manifestation

Phobias generally develop during childhood or our teenage years and manifest by the avoidance of small and confined spaces. Phobias create the belief that ‘something awful’ will happen if you remain in that situation. Your flight or fight response is activated with physical symptoms such as: —

  1. dry mouth
  2. Sweaty palms
  3. Nausea
  4. Wobbly legs
  5. Pressure in the head
  6. Getting hot or cold
  7. Racing heart
  8. The feeling of dread or terror

Your thinking becomes clouded and you are consumed with one thought — ‘I’ve got to get out!’.

Emotionally, the person feels great fear and trepidation and has a sense of dread and doom.

Photo by Melanie Brown on Unsplash

How is it diagnosed?

Claustrophobia is characterized in one of four ways.

Though a definitive cause is not known, many people who experience claustrophobia may find its origins stem from a single incident or trauma. They may experience symptoms from getting trapped in an elevator, locked in a cupboard by a sibling, etc., which triggered their anxiety. Some other etiologies may be:-

  1. A traumatic birth event
  2. A learned behavior
  3. The result of a difficult life situation
  4. A symptom of generalized anxiety disorder

Claustrophobia, Phobias, Fear, Deep breathe, Distraction, Calm

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Ways I cope with the dread:

  1. Always have my charged cell phone with me.
  2. I pray to calm my mind.
  3. I try to ride with others.
  4. Find something interesting to read/listen to on the ride up and down.
  5. Think calming thoughts, (go to your happy place).
  6. I take the stairs if at all possible.
  7. Locate exit doors in a room
  8. Medication is always an available option as well.

Final thoughts

I cannot pinpoint the origins of my phobia. The only causative factor for me could be birth trauma. According to totalhealth.co.uk a traumatic birth could result in a “body memory”. A “body memory” is an innate consciousness in the construction of different short-term body images and provides real-time information about the posture and location of our bodies.

My mom recalls mine was a long and difficult labor. Perhaps being stuck in the birth canal could be a possible cause of the anxiety disorder.

Whatever its origins, one option is to try to recognize the triggers and manage them before they become a full-blown issue. Employ the above strategies and try to calm yourself as much as you can. Have your cellular device with you at all times and try to engage yourself in something interesting.

I feel that having my cell with me enables me to at least call for help and not feel so helpless or alone.

I employ these strategies, pray that the elevator ride goes quickly, and breathe a sigh of relief as the door begins to open.

Please feel free to share any tips you use in coping with fear and panic.

Thank you for reading.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_memory

https://www.totalhealth.co.uk/clinical-experts

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article

Posted on 11 Comments

The Shoulders Upon Which We Stand

Video copied from Facebook

I found this profound, this phenomenal woman. 

Stated here and more eloquently than I ever could, are some of the reasons why we have to pay it forward.

I hope your take away is similar to mine.

Be blessed and be well!

Posted on 29 Comments

Manage Your Stress

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Photo by Thao Le Hoang on Unsplash

Learn how to reclaim your emotions and your life

Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at different times in our lives. Our lives have without preamble been turned upside down. We could never have predicted the current situation that has become our ‘new normal”. Our stress levels are at an all time high! While some folks seem to have various methods of coping, others encounter varying degrees of difficulty in managing their stress levels.

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Image credit: clipart.com

Stress is often the result of mental or emotional pressures. You feel overwhelmed with life. The disconnect begins with a real or perceived demand placed on your brain or your physical body. The stress is compounded when multiple competing stressors are placed on us. Presently we are faced with many unpleasant stimuli and this may cause us to feel incapable of holding the reigns.

We try valiantly to hang on but may become unable to and just let go, retreating into ourselves.

A funny image of a man unable to keep a hold of the reigns to his horse.

Image credit: clipart.com

Stress can present in one of two ways:

  • Acute stress

or

  • Chronic stress

Acute stress:

Acute stress has its origins in the fight-or-flight response. It is the body’s signal of imminent danger that alerts us to the presence of a threat and prepares us to fight or to take flight. It is part of our built-in protective mechanism.

Chronic stress:

This type is more insidious, the stressor remains for longer periods of time, and will generally affect your health and your everyday lives. This ongoing stress produces symptoms, such as, shortness of breath, headaches and insomnia, etc. These chronic-stress responses are sneaky and subtle than those of the acute-stress response, but their effects are longer lasting and way more problematic.

Stress may also be triggered by sudden emotional changes, i.e., a loss or a change in your living situation, our health and our world, e.g., COVID-19.

A funny and utilitarian sign that states: Stress Relief at the next exit.

image credit: clipart.com

Some ways to manage are:

  • Get enough rest
  • Take deep breaths
  • Use guided imagery
  • Recognize factors that trigger your stress
  • Keep a diary, things seem much less threatening when you see it in writing
  • Try progressive relaxation
  • Laugh
  • Music / dance
  • Get a massage
  • Meditate
  • Get physical e.g., yoga, exercise
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Limit caffeine & alcohol
  • Avoid illicit drugs, they may make stress and anxiety worse
  • Get moving, change your scenery e.g., take a walk
  • Try medication therapy
  • Develop some hobbies

Deep breathing − Breathe in slowly through your nose. Hold your breath for about 3 seconds. Exhale slowly out your mouth. Close your eyes, if you can and concentrate on controlling and slowing down your breathing.

Guided imagery − Close your eyes and picture a safe, peaceful scene. Choose some place you love and where you feel safe. Concentrate on the details of the scene and remember how you feel when you are there.

Progressive relaxation − Sit or lie quietly. Start by making a group of muscles tense or tight and then relax them. Tense your muscles for at least 5 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat. Then, move to another group.

Laughter − Laughing helps lower stress. Try watching a comedy on television. Tell funny stories. Share jokes, books or laugh with a friend.

Music − If you love music like I do, this is a surefire way to allay feelings of stress and anxiety and help you to relax. If you play an instrument, now is a good time to give it a go.

Massage − We all know the joys and benefits of a good massage, get a back rub from someone you feel safe with just bask in the presence of their companionship.

Meditation − Do a familiar activity that calms you and helps you clear your mind. If a walk or a run helps you to feel calm, do so in a safe space.

Take a 10-second break − You may feel very stressed but not able to leave where you are. If so, close your eyes and breathe deeply for 10 seconds, e.g., on an airplane.

Yoga or other forms of martial arts− These slow and purposeful body movements coupled with deep breathing, serves to take your focus off the stressor and can help you feel better.

Limit/stop caffeine, alcohol and illicit street drugs — these substances can all cause/increase stress and anxiety, so avoid them when and if possible.

Finally medication therapy — talk to your healthcare provider about what medication / therapeutic options are available and may be effective for your particular situation. Together you can initiate therapy that still allows you to remain a productive member of society.

3 red puzzle interconnected pieces labelled laughter, yoga and connections.

image credit: clipart.com

With our lives are turned inside out and our current circumstances are extremely stressful, we hopefully have the support of family and friends. We should seek out resources to that offer assistance as well as use some of the techniques set out above in learning to cope and self de-stress for better mental health.

Reference:

Posted on 17 Comments

Lithium — More Than a Mood Stabilizer

A toddler, laughing in a field of red flowers.

A happy and laughing young woman.

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

A look at the many uses of this element and how it can improve your life

Happiness is the quest of every person alive.

 I believe we all desire and deserve to be happy. The dream however is an oft-elusive one for many. I have always measured happiness in terms of hills and valleys. Life seems to be a continuous cycle of being down in the valley followed by lapses atop the hills. Be sure to enjoy these lapses as you may soon find yourself free-falling into the abyss of another valley…

We are often blessed with moments of sublime happiness.

Recently I came across an interesting tidbit of information that set me on a path of investigation. Several areas in the state of Texas and the world were found to have Lithium present.

Lithium is a naturally occurring element that resides in the soils and leaches into the drinking water. This “accidental” consumption  provides a plethora of health benefits.

The National Library of Medicine states that Lithium found in the drinking water supply has a positive impact on the mental and physical health of those who benefit from the water supply. The element was found in varying quantities depending on seasons and uptake.

Although Lithium is not considered a micro-nutrient, according to science its loss has a profound effect similar to a deficit of sodium, potassium and magnesium, to name a few.

Lithium — what it is

The element Lithium(Li) was first discovered in 1817 as a naturally occurring metal within the earth’s crust. Noted as the least dense of all the elements, it has been used to treat disorders of mentation since 1949 and lauded for its normothymic effect.

Lithium is used primarily in treating bipolar disorder, manic episodes, suicide and schizophrenia.

A number of studies have shown that elemental Lithium found naturally in the soils and leached into the drinking water supply. Also found in some of the fruits and vegetables we consume. It has been proven to decrease the rates of suicides, depression, rapes and crimes of violence as well as numerous benefits on the physical well-beings such as; Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, muscles, heart, bone and cartilage repair.

Many colorful vegetables that contain lithium
Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

How is it used?

Lithium taken as Lithium orotate has greater ease of bioavailability and ease of transport across the cell layer by simple diffusion utilizing the sodium channels. Scientists believe that its similarity to sodium and magnesium affect its bio-availability and therapeutic levels. Blood level availability is also dependent upon various enzymes, hormones and vitamins. The management of Lithium in any disease process will need close and constant monitoring to titrate dose for maximum benefit per patient.

How does it benefit us?

Lithium has been known to increase density of the gray matter and increase the size of the amygdala and hippocampus (the emotional brain). It is known to stimulate the production of neural stem cells. Has protective effects against oxidative stress and its consequences. It modulates immune response.

Where can I find it?

A glass of clear drinking water known to contain lithium
Photo by KOBU Agency on Unsplash

 

Lithium is present in the water supply of many countries and in many of the foods we eat. Some of the main sources of Lithium are; cereals, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage and some mineral waters. It is also present in some spices of nutmeg, coriander seeds, or cumin of course the amount present will depend on the soil in which they are grown.

Lithium is available as an over the counter(OTC) supplement and can also be prescribed by your physician for psychiatric disorders. Be sure to discuss with your primary care provider before  you  begin taking any new supplements or medications!

Contraindications:

Lithium is not the first line drug for persons with:

  1. Significant renal disease
  2. Cardiovascular disease
  3. Severe debilitation
  4. Severe dehydration
  5. On diuretic therapy
  6. Sodium depletion
  7. Pregnancy

The risk of toxicity is too high as the Lithium toxicity is closely related to serum therapeutic lithium levels. The care is best done under the care of a medical provider.

You should not attempt this on your own!


Conclusion:

Lithium appears to be the panacea for diseases of the psyche with added benefits to the physical body. It is water soluble and can be promptly bio-available for uptake by the cells. By its proven record it has the ability to influence the mood, depression and overall mental health of many.

It is naturally occurring in soil and as such is present in the drinking water supply of many. Lithium occurs naturally in many foods, albeit in varying degrees dependent upon its availability and uptake by plant life for use. It is touted as a micro-nutrient although the nomenclature does not reflect that at this time. It has proven to offer a number of health benefits, including some longevity.

Science continues to study the properties of Lithium as a first line of defense in the rising issue of mental and physical decline in the hopes that fortifying food with this element will become a strategy of primary prevention in mood disorders and pre-suicidal syndromes.

How much do I need?

Provisional recommended intakes set at 1000 μg/day for a 70-kg adult (14.3 μg/kg body weight).

References:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net
  2. https://www.psychiatryadvisor.com
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/journal/1879-1379_Journal_of_Psychiatric_Research

Click here to learn more about stress and how to cope.