Diversity and Mental Health

the things that make us unique yet aim to destroy us

Many times people talk about diversity, what they understand by it is culture, race, language, social status, etc.

Sadly, diversity is more diverse than all those listed above.

Diversity is what makes us unique yet aims to destroy us because we don’t value or pay attention to it.

We are okay with it when is okay with us not concerned if others or those involved are okay with it.

Let us look critically at what diversity really means according to the dictionary :

“The state of being diverse” or “ a range of different things.”

These days, diversity ranges from cultural orientation to tribal affiliation, sexual orientation to gender association, opinions to views, social status to profession or work.

Now you may begin to wonder what this has got to do with mental health. I will get to it in a bit.

Before I go further, can we just remind ourselves again(that’s assuming you already know)? Here you go :

Mental health is the level of psychological well-being or an absence of mental illness. It is the state of someone who is "functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

Mental health is not the same as mental illness or mental disorders. It is what it is..mental state of our health which practically is determined by a number of factors and accepting people for who they are or what they are is one of it.

My sojourn in life has brought me across several people with diverse views, diverse thoughts and opinions, diverse sexual and gender orientation, diverse religious affiliations, diverse social status and not to forget, diverse intellectual ability(yes, I am judging, thank you).

What is most important is that we understand that the world won’t be fun if we all face just one direction. The world will be in chaos if we all have the same view and perspective towards all matters and issues in life.

A life devoid of diversity is a boring life. How would it be if we all were white, black, male, female, short, tall, rich, poor, literate, illiterate, etc?

When we begin to segregate and classify people, we begin to tell them to find their own clique and level. We begin to tell them that they are not in the same class as we are forgetting that we also long to belong to one group or another.

The lack of acceptance leaves people wondering if they are really who they should be or where they should be.

What then is the crux of this matter?

You don’t have to be who you don’t want to be

You don’t have to be where you don’t want to be

You don’t have to be what you don’t want to be

However, you need to allow people to be themselves without hassles.

Don’t get entangled in what you believe to the extent that it hampers your humanity.

I guess my work has given me room to meet people of diverse orientations and views and I have come to appreciate the fact the diversity exists.

Like I stated above, you don’t have to be them but you also don’t have to treat them like they don’t exist.

Treat people who are different from you as humans

Treat them like you would treat a person within your own class and status.

Numerous suicide attempts, self-esteem issues, depression just to mention a few are sometimes the resultant effects of refusing to embrace people for who they are.

I know it is not my right to tell you what to do but it is my right as well to say what I have to say and that is what I am saying.

Consider this an invitation to embrace diversity and in turn, change someone’s story.

Change someone’s journey

And experience fun.


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How To Handle Anxiety Pt2

anxiety and its relationship with other conditions

Understanding Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety is different for everyone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge

  • Hyperactivity

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Muscle tension

  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry

Types of Anxiety

People are all different—and so is anxiety. There are many different types of anxiety disorders that each have their own symptoms. According to the American Psychiatric Association, the most common anxiety disorders are:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: excessive anxiety and worry that is disproportionate to normal anxiousness around upcoming life events (such as work or school)

Social Anxiety Disorder: intense fear of social interactions, making it hard to go out, make friends, or interact with others

Panic Disorder: recurrent panic attacks that cause someone to change their behavior in order to avoid having them. Panic attacks are not your regular grade freak out; they’re an intense physical reaction to fear often causing an accelerated heart rate, sweating, and difficulty breathing.

Separation Anxiety Disorder: fear of being separated from someone usually because of worry that something may happen to them while they’re away

Specific Phobias: intense fear or anxiety about a specific thing or situation (ex. spiders, heights, flying)

Anxiety and its relationship with other conditions

Anxiety and Depression

Sometimes people experience anxiety along with other mental health disorders. Many people diagnosed with anxiety also experience depression. And, while people may experience both disorders, it’s important to note that they have different symptoms and causes.

Anxiety and Panic

Think of anxiety and panic as cousins: they’re linked, though not always one and the same. It’s common to have panic attacks as a fear response with anxiety disorders. It’s also possible to have an occasional panic attack without having a disorder. Panic attacks can be scary—they often feel like a heart attack. The good news? They don’t do any long-term damage to your body. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a big deal. (Repeat, they actually feel like you are having a heart attack.)

Anxiety and Stress

Stress is a totally normal and expected response to situations and changes in our lives. Anxiety can also manifest as a response to stress. The trick is identifying when healthy levels of anxiety around particular stressors transition to disproportionate levels of anxiety around particular situations or events.

Anxiety and Depression

Sometimes people experience anxiety along with other mental health disorders. Many people diagnosed with anxiety also experience depression. And, while people may experience both disorders, it’s important to note that they have different symptoms and causes.

Anxiety and Panic

Think of anxiety and panic as cousins: they’re linked, though not always one and the same. It’s common to have panic attacks as a fear response with anxiety disorders. It’s also possible to have an occasional panic attack without having a disorder. Panic attacks can be scary—they often feel like a heart attack. The good news? They don’t do any long-term damage to your body. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a big deal. (Repeat, they actually feel like you are having a heart attack.)

Stress and Coping

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include

Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19

Children and teens

People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders

People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include

Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones

Changes in sleep or eating patterns

Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

Worsening of chronic health problems

Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.

Things you can do to support yourself include :

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs

  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

For parents

Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children if they are better prepared.

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include:

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children

  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)

  • Excessive worry or sadness

  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits

  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens

  • Poor school performance or avoiding school

  • Difficulty with attention and concentration

  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past

  • Unexplained headaches or body pain

  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

  • There are many things you can do to support your child

  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.

  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset.

  • Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn from you.

  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media.

  • Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.

  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.

  • Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

For responders

Responding to COVID-19 can take an emotional toll on you. There are things you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions:

  • Acknowledge that STS can impact anyone helping families after a traumatic event.

  • Learn the symptoms including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt).

  • Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the pandemic.

  • Create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy, such as spending time with friends and family, exercising, or reading a book.

  • Take a break from media coverage of COVID-19.

  • Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or concerned that COVID-19 is affecting your ability to care for your family and patients as you did before the outbreak.

For people who have been released from quarantine

Being separated from others if a healthcare provider thinks you may have been exposed to COVID-19 can be stressful, even if you do not get sick. Everyone feels differently after coming out of quarantine. Some feelings include :

Mixed emotions, including relief after quarantine

Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones

Stress from the experience of monitoring yourself or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of COVID-19

Sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious

Guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during the quarantine

Other emotional or mental health changes

Children may also feel upset or have other strong emotions if they, or someone they know, has been released from quarantine

How To Handle Anxiety Pt1

a special focus on COVID-19 era

The first step to mastering your anxiety is to recognize what it is when it happens. Instead of ignoring it and letting it build up and take over, simply note the anxiety as soon as you feel the buzzing in your heart, the spinning in your brain: This is anxiety.

When we do this, we take the emotion, or the anxiety even, out of anxiety. Recognizing the feeling of anxiety puts you back in control; instead of facing an amorphous threat that can feel overwhelming and scary, you’re now dealing with a known entity.

Once we recognize it, we can explore its source. Anxiety is an emotional response to an anticipated future threat. And while there’s a lot of panic around the general idea of the coronavirus itself, we can usually get more specific about what we’re truly concerned with.

WHEN WE NORMALIZE ANXIETY, THERE’S SOME COMFORT THAT COMES WITH KNOWING THAT OTHERS FEEL THAT WAY, TOO

Be easy on yourself. Some days will be worse than others.

Ultimately, anxiety is an inevitable part of life. No matter how hard you try to “hack” anxiety, it is still likely to seep in around the edges. Anxiety isn’t something to be conquered but something to acknowledge and manage.

Learn and practice ways to calm and center yourself

First, focus on bringing awareness into your own body, especially through internal sensations like your chest rising and falling with your breath. being mindful about your breathing helps switch off the neural circuitry that anxiety ramps up, leading to an overall feeling of calm. Whether in a quiet room or in the middle of what feels like a burst of panic, try counting your breaths — one slow inhale through the nose, one long exhale through the mouth, then repeat —relaxing into the process and being mindful of each one, and gradually feeling your heart rate slow.

Second, try to keep yourself grounded in the present. Anxiety is, after all, based in uncertainty around and fear of the future — what might happen next. To help practice physical mindfulness, run your finger from your forehead straight back to the top of your head. Focusing this attention to the midline of the cortex naturally quiets stress about the future and the past, and tends to bring you into circuits on the other side of the brain that supports present-moment mindfulness and a sense of well-being.

There’s research that supports the idea that “crossing the midline” has calming benefits — it’s why activities that require careful, precise hand movements, like knitting and crocheting, are often recommended as possible anxiety relief methods.

Third, he recommends turning to physical remembrances of strength — flashing back to your own moxie and grit. Think back to when you held your first crow pose in yoga, or when you carried that window AC unit up to four flights of stairs, or even when you patiently held a friend close who was going through a hard time. By bringing up the somatic memory — the body sense — of being strong and determined, you will remind yourself that if you could get through that, you can get through this, too.

Four Ways People Process Information during a Crisis

We simplify messages. Under intense stress and possible information overload, we tend to miss the nuances of health and safety messages by doing the following:

■ Not fully hearing information because of our inability to juggle multiple facts during a crisis.

■ Not remembering as much of the information as we normally could.

 ■ Misinterpreting confusing action messages. To cope, many of us may not attempt a logical and reasoned approach to decision making. Instead, we may rely on habits and long-held practices. We might follow bad examples set by others.

We hold on to current beliefs. Crisis communication sometimes requires asking people to do something that seems counterintuitive, such as evacuating even when the weather looks calm. Changing our beliefs during a crisis or emergency may be difficult. Beliefs are often held very strongly and not easily altered. We tend not to seek evidence that contradicts beliefs we already hold. We also tend to exploit any conflicting or unclear messages about a subject by interpreting it as consistent with existing beliefs. For example, we might tell ourselves, “I believe that my house is a safe place.” Before an impending hurricane, however, experts may recommend that we evacuate from an insecure location and take shelter in a building that is stronger and safer. Although the action advised is actually for us to evacuate our house to seek safer shelter, we can easily misinterpret the recommendation to match our current beliefs. We might say, “My home is strong and safe. I’ve always been secure in my home. When we left last time, the hurricane went north of us anyway. I’ll just stay here.” Faced with new risks in an emergency, we may have to rely on experts with whom we have little or no experience. Often, reputable experts disagree regarding the level of threat, risks, and appropriate advice. The tendency of experts to offer opposing views leaves many of us with increased uncertainty and fear. We may be more likely to take advice from a trusted source with which we are familiar, even if this source does not have emergency-related expertise and provides inaccurate information.

We look for additional information and opinions.

 We remember what we see and tend to believe what we’ve experienced. During crises, we want messages confirmed before taking action. You may find that you or other individuals are likely to do the following:

 ■ Change television channels to see if the same warning is being repeated elsewhere.

 ■ Try to call friends and family to see if others have heard the same messages.

 ■ Turn to a known and credible local leader for advice.

 ■ Check multiple social media channels to see what our contacts are saying. In cases where evacuation is recommended, we tend to watch to see if our neighbors are evacuating before we make our decision. This confirmation first—before we take action—is very common in a crisis.

We believe in the first message. During a crisis, the speed of a response can be an important factor in reducing harm. In the absence of information, we may begin to speculate and fill in the blanks. This often results in rumors. The first message to reach us may be the accepted message, even though more accurate information may follow. When new, perhaps more complete information becomes available, we compare it to the first messages we heard. Because of the ways, we process information while under stress, when communicating with someone facing a crisis or disaster, messages should be simple, credible, and consistent. Speed is also very important when communicating in an emergency. An effective message must do the following:

■ Be repeated. ■ Come from multiple credible sources.

 ■ Be specific to the emergency being experienced.

 ■ Offer a positive course of action that can be executed.

The mental States in a Crisis

 During a disaster, people may experience a wide range of emotions. Psychological barriers can interfere with cooperation and response from the public. Crisis communicators should expect certain patterns, as described below, and understand that these patterns affect communication. There are a number of psychological barriers that could interfere with cooperation and response from the public. A communicator can mitigate many of the following reactions by acknowledging these feelings in words, expressing empathy, and being honest.

Fear, Anxiety, and Dread

 In a crisis, people in your community may feel fear, anxiety, confusion, and intense dread. As communicators, our job is not to make these feelings go away. Instead, you could acknowledge them in a statement of empathy. You can use a statement like, “we’ve never faced anything like this before in our community and it can be frightening.” Fear is an important psychological consideration in response to a threat. Bear in mind the following aspects of fear:

 ■ In some cases, a perceived threat can motivate and help people take desired actions.

 ■ In other cases, fear of the unknown or fear of uncertainty may be the most debilitating of the psychological responses to disasters and prevent people from taking action.

■ When people are afraid and do not have adequate information, they may react in inappropriate ways to avoid the threat. Communicators can help by portraying an accurate assessment of the level of danger and providing action messages so that affected people do not feel helpless.

Hopelessness and Helplessness Avoiding hopelessness and helplessness is a vital communication objective during a crisis. Hopelessness is the feeling that nothing can be done by anyone to make the situation better. People may accept that a threat is real, but that threat may loom so large that they feel the situation is hopeless. Helplessness is the feeling that people have that they, themselves, have no power to improve their situation or protect themselves. If a person feels helpless to protect him- or herself, he or she may withdraw mentally or physically.

Denial refers to the act of refusing to acknowledge either imminent harm or harm that has already occurred. Denial occurs for a variety of reasons:

■ People may not have received enough information to recognize the threat.

■ They may assume the situation is not as bad as it really is because they have not heard the most recent warnings, didn’t understand what they were told, or only heard part of a message.

 ■ They may have received messages about a threat but not received action messages on how people should respond to the threat.

■ They may receive and understand the message, but behave as if the danger is not as great as they are being told. For example, people may get tired of evacuating for threats that prove harmless, which can cause people to deny the seriousness of future threats. When people doubt a threat is real, they may seek further confirmation. With some communities, this confirmation may involve additional factors, such as the following:

 ■ A need to consult community leaders or experts for specific opinions.

■ The desire to first know how others are responding.

■ The possibility that the warning message of the threat is so far outside the person’s experience that he or she simply can’t make sense of it—or just chooses to ignore it.

Denial can, at least in part, be prevented or addressed with clear, consistent communication from a trusted source. If your audience receives and understands a consistent message from multiple trusted sources, they will be more likely to believe that message and act on it.


To be continued…

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7 Lessons Learned From The Book

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by Joseph Medina

The number one factor for predicting marriage success

John Gottman’s ability to predict the success or failure of a marriage is close to 90% and he can do it within minutes of interacting with a couple. After years of observation, he identified certain behaviors that hold the most predictive power.

Gottman created an intervention strategy based on improving the behaviors that predict marital success and eliminate the ones that predict failure. His intervention drops divorce rates by nearly 50%. His interventions show couples how to decrease both the frequency and severity of their hostile interactions.

Gottman also noticed that when a couple has a baby, the couple’s hostile interactions increase dramatically. Causes range from sleep deprivation to increased demands from the child. By the time the baby was 1-year old marriage satisfaction had decreased by 70%.

Gottman and a fellow researcher started introducing intervention strategies to married couples while the wife was still pregnant whether the marriage was in trouble or not. They found that babies raised in the intervention households didn’t cry as much and had stronger attention-shifting behaviors. They responded to stress in a more stable way.

The dangers of multi-tasking 

We can walk and talk at the same time, but when it comes to paying attention multi-tasking doesn’t work. The brain naturally focuses on things one at a time, and sequentially.

Three researchers at Stanford University did a study and found that multitaskers, in this case, students who spent a lot of time on their laptops during lectures and tended to have multiple tabs open at once were terrible at focusing. They weren’t good at filtering out irrelevant information, they couldn’t organize their memories well and do poorly on every task-switching experiment. They had a habit of thinking about the tasks they weren’t doing and had difficulty keeping things separate in their minds.

There’s a sequential order that the brain goes through every time you switch from one task to another. That’s why we find ourselves losing track of previous progress, wondering where we left off. A person who is interrupted takes 50% longer to accomplish a task and makes up to 50% more errors.

Large fractions of a second are consumed every time the brain switches tasks, making multi-tasking dangerous in some situations. For example, driving while talking on a cell phone is almost as dangerous as drunk driving. It takes only a half-second for a driver going 70 mph to travel 51 feet. More than half of visual cues spotted by attentive drivers are missed by cell-phone talkers. Eighty percent of crashes happen within three seconds of some kind of driver distraction. One study showed that simply reaching for an object while driving multiplies the risk of a crash or near-crash by 900%.

Why sleep is important

Different people need different amounts of sleep, and it changes with age and life circumstances. When it comes to the amount of sleep one should get, generalizing doesn’t work. But there are some things worth taking into consideration:

Cumulative sleep loss creates a deficit that must be paid back later. If you don’t sleep enough today, this week, etc., you’ll have to make up for it later by sleeping even more than you would normally need to.

One study showed that if a student who normally scores in the top 10% gets less than 7 hours of sleep a night during weekdays (and about 40 mins more on weekends) his or her scores will begin to match the bottom 9% of students who are getting enough sleep.

Another study showed that one night of lost sleep resulted in a 30% loss in overall cognitive ability and a drop in performance for soldiers operating complex military hardware. Two nights of lost sleep resulted in a 60% drop.

Other studies showed that when sleep was restricted to 6 hours or less per night, cognitive performance was equivalent to 48 hours of continual sleep deprivation.

In another study, students were given math problems and a method to solve them. They weren’t told that there was also an easier way to solve the problems. Researchers found that if they let students sleep for 8 hours they were three times more likely to find the easier method.

When people don’t get enough sleep it also affects how the body functions. The body’s ability to use the food it consumes falls by 1/3. The ability to make insulin and extract energy from glucose (which the brain needs a lot of) falls. And the body’s stress hormone levels rise, causing it to need even more of the above.

If this goes on long enough it will speed up the aging process. According to one study, if healthy 30-year olds average only 4 hours of sleep per night for 6 days, parts of their body chemistry become like a 60-year old. It takes about one week to recover.

The dangers of multi-tasking 

We can walk and talk at the same time, but when it comes to paying attention multi-tasking doesn’t work. The brain naturally focuses on things one at a time, and sequentially.

Three researchers at Stanford university did a study and found that multitaskers, in this case students who spent a lot of time on their laptops during lectures and tended to have multiple tabs open at once were terrible at focusing. They weren’t good at filtering out irrelevant information, they couldn’t organize their memories well and did poorly on every task-switching experiment. They had a habit of thinking about the tasks they weren’t doing and had difficulty keeping things separate in their minds.

There’s a sequential order that the brain goes through every time you switch from one task to another. That’s why we find ourselves losing track of previous progress, wondering where we left off. A person who is interrupted takes 50% longer to accomplish a task and makes up to 50% more errors.

Large fractions of a second are consumed every time the brain switches tasks, making multi-tasking dangerous in some situations. For example, driving while talking on a cell phone is almost as dangerous as drunk driving. It takes only a half second for a driver going 70 mph to travel 51 feet. More than half of visual cues spotted by attentive drivers are missed by cell-phone talkers. Eighty percent of crashes happen within three seconds of some kind of driver distraction. One study showed that simply reaching for an object while driving multiplies the risk of a crash or near-crash by 900%.

How to do presentations that aren’t boring 

If you want people to pay attention, don’t start with details. Start with key ideas and form the details around the larger ideas. Meaning first, details after.

Here is John Medina’s proven process for keeping his university students engaged in a lecture:

  • Divide the presentation into 10-minute segments, because it’s difficult for an audience to pay attention beyond that mark.

  • Each segment should cover a single core subject. That subject should be large, general, and explainable in 1 minute. Use the remaining 9 minutes to cover the details in a hierarchical fashion, making sure that each detail is easily traced back to the general concept. Pause to explain the link.

  • If you’re going to go past the 10-minute mark, it should be the start of a different core subject, but related. Repeat the same process of explaining the core concept in 1 minute and linking the details for the remaining 9 minutes.

  • You’ll want to make the switch from one core concept to the next by using a “hook”. The hook has to trigger an emotion, such as fear, laughter, happiness, nostalgia, or incredulity. Telling a story that is crisp and to the point is especially helpful. The hook also has to be relevant to the subject.

  • If you’re covering multiple core concepts in say, a 1-hour lecture, make sure to stop once in a while to briefly remind the audience where you’re at in terms of what core concepts have been covered up to that point and where they fit into the overall presentation. This prevents the listener from trying to pay attention to two things at once: what’s being said, and where it fits into the big picture.

Different types of intelligence 

Learning causes physical changes in the brain which are unique to each person. Not even identical twins are wired exactly the same way.

We have many large pathways that are basically the same in everyone, but other smaller ones that vary from person to person based on individual experience. There are a lot of the smaller pathways. That’s why there are different types of human intelligence, such as verbal/linguistic, musical/rhythmic, logical/mathematical, spatial, body/kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.

How to remember more

Memories have different lifespans. Some memories last for only a few seconds, others for days or months, or even a lifetime. We usually forget 90% of what we learn in a class within 30 days. And the majority of it is forgotten within the first few hours. The lifespan of a memory can be increased by repeating the information in spaced time intervals. In other words, repeat the information many times, but don’t squeeze the repetitions together, space them out in a systematic way. Maybe 3-times on the first day, once more 3 or 4 days later, and again every 6 months to a year.

The events that happen the first time you’re exposed to information play a disproportionally greater role in your ability to accurately retrieve that information at a later date.

Memory retrieval works best if environmental conditions at the time of learning are recreated. That includes mood. For example, if you learned something while you were sad, it’s easier to remember it if you’re sad at the time of retrieval.

The more you focus on the meaning of the information you’re trying to learn the better you’ll process it and remember it. This is best achieved through relevant real-world examples. The greater number of examples the more likely the information will be remembered. The more personal the example, the better.

In an attempt to fill in gaps, the brain infers, guesses, and even uses memories not related to the event. The brain does this in an attempt to create an organization. The brain is constantly receiving new inputs and needs to store some of them in places already occupied by previous experiences. New knowledge can become intertwined with past memories as if they were encountered together.

Transforming a short-term memory into long-term memory can take years. During that time, memory isn’t stable. Forgetting plays a role in our ability to function. It’s a way of prioritizing. Information deemed irrelevant would cause too much cognitive load. There are people who have a special ability to recall everything, but they tend to have difficulty with meaning.

The power and deception of vision  

Brain researchers did an experiment with dozens of professional wine-tasters by putting odorless, tasteless red dye into white wine. Every one of the wine-tasters were fooled into believing it was red wine. Vision overrode their other senses.

A phenomenon called Charles Bonnet Syndrome causes some people to see things that aren’t there. Sometimes objects or even people unexpectedly come into the person’s view. These illusions usually occur in the evening and are more common in the elderly, especially those with a damaged visual pathway. Almost all the patients know that the hallucinations aren’t real.

The brain doesn’t actually know where things are. It guesses what things should look like. It does so partially based on past experience. The brain deconstructs the information the eyes are gathering, pushes that information through various filters and reconstructs what it thinks is there. This all happens in the blink on an eye. Visual processing takes up about half of everything our brain does, which explains why it can override other sense.

Amputees sometimes perceive that their missing limb is still there, but that it’s frozen in place. An amputee can sometimes perceive that the missing limb is moving when watching the opposing limb move through a mirror.

Vision is probably the best tool for learning. The more visual an input is the more likely it is to be recognized and remembered. Tests have shown that people could remember pictures with 90% accuracy several days later, even though they saw each picture for only 10 seconds. For oral presentations, the retention rate is about 10%. Text presentations are also far less efficient than photos, because the brain sees words as tiny pictures—that’s a lot of images for the brain to process. Pictorial information is also superior at capturing attention, regardless of the size of the image.

You should get yourself one.

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