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Protect Your Mind as Much as You Protect Your Body

In a new epoch of Global Pandemic. Author Patrick Allan at LifeHacker pens some Stoic Wisdom for the ages.

Protect Your Mind as Much as You Protect Your Body
Stoic Wisdom in stone. Protect Your Mind as Much as You Protect Your Body. Photo by Paul VanDerWerf.

Epictetus in Enchiridion (28). asks why we don’t value our mind’s protection the same as our body’s:

“If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?”


Here’s another version:

“If a person gave away your body to some passerby, you’d be furious. Yet you hand over your mind to anyone who comes along, so they may abuse you, leaving it disturbed and troubled—have you no shame in that?”

What It Means

This question that Epictetus asks is in the form of a mini thought experiment. If you were walking along and somebody took your body and did whatever they liked with it, you’d be angry, right? So you do your best to keep people from touching, grabbing, or moving your body unless you authorize it.

But for some reason we don’t usually exercise such stalwart defenses when it comes to our minds. We hand our minds over to anyone and anything that comes along, be it an advertisement, a politician, a social media post, the news, or just a stranger who wants to put us down and disrupt our day. Doesn’t that bother you?

What to Take From It

There are so many things out there that distract us, confuse us, make us doubt ourselves, get us angry, and push us in directions we never intended to go. This is because we let it happen. We choose to let those things in and affect us, and this is the unshakeable basis of stoicism itself.

Granted, it’s not easy to just block everything out. We have to battle against our own instincts and biology to do that. Still, we can all stand to defend our minds a bit more. Every day, think about ways you can guard your inner self from the never-ending onslaught of persuasion. Learn to recognize what an attack on your mind looks like—from something as small as a superfluous distraction to something bigger like a villainous acquaintance—and, once a day, say to yourself, “No, I’m not letting this in.” The same way you’d slap away an unwanted hand trying to grab your body, slap away an incursion on your mind.

Your body and mind are the only two things you’ll always own as long as you’re alive and coherent. No matter what, you always need them both as they are your two most valuable possessions. Why not defend them equally?

You can read all of Enchiridion for free here.

via – Lifehacker | SourceLifehacker | Search  》stoic wisdom

How to Prevent Loneliness in a Time of Social Distancing

Here’s advice for preserving your mental health while avoiding physical proximity

How to Prevent Loneliness in a Time of Social Distancing
Human beings are social creatures. Necessary social isolation during the Coronavirus pandemic is a challenge for our social & mental wellbeing. (Credit: Richard Bailey Getty Images)

With increasing numbers of people isolated because of quarantine and social distancing, COVID-19 is not the only public health threat we should be worried about—loneliness is one as well.

While scientists are rushing to understand how the coronavirus works, researchers have long understood the toll that social isolation and loneliness take on the body. People who do not feel connected to others are more likely to catch a cold, experience depression, develop heart disease, have lower cognitive function and live a shorter life. In fact, the long-term harm caused by loneliness is similar to smoking or obesity.

In January, a national survey found that 79 percent of Gen Zers, 71 percent of millennials and 50 percent of baby boomers feel lonely. Similarly, the proportion of people who belong to any kind of community group, such as a hobby club, sports league or volunteer group, fell from 75 to 57 percent over the past decade. Even without the coronavirus keeping us apart, it seems the majority of the population suffers from poor social health.

Although isolation is the right response to the coronavirus pandemic, we need the exact opposite in response to the loneliness epidemic. So how can you cultivate your social well-being while avoiding infection?

An obvious answer is the device you are reading this article on. People often blame technology for the prevalence of loneliness, pointing out that we spend too much time scrolling through social media and not enough of it interacting IRL. Yet recent research by my colleagues at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health paints a more nuanced picture: how you use such platforms seems to matter more than how much you do so. We can all benefit from developing digital habits that support meaningful human connections—especially now that it may be our only option until the outbreak calms.

Whether you are quarantined, working remotely or just being cautious, now is the perfect time to practice using technology in socially healthy ways. Here are a few suggestions for how to connect without contact.

Face-to-face from afar: The next best thing to in-person interaction is video chat, because facial cues, body language and other nonverbal forms of communication are important for bonding. When possible, opt for video over messaging or calling and play around with doing what you would normally do with others. For example, try having a digital dinner with someone you met on a dating app, a virtual happy hour with friends or a remote book club meeting.

One-minute kindness: Getting lots of likes on a social media post may give you a fleeting hit of dopamine, but receiving a direct message or e-mail with a genuine compliment or expression of gratitude is more personal and longer lasting—without taking much more time. When you find yourself scrolling through people’s posts, stop and send one of them a few kind words. After all, we need a little extra kindness to counter the stress and uncertainty of the coronavirus.

Cultivate your community: The basis of connection is having something in common. Whatever your niche interest is, there is an online community of people who share your passion and can’t wait to nerd out with you about it. There are also digital support groups, such as for new parents or patients with a rare disease. Use these networks to engage around what matters most to you.

Deepen or broaden: Fundamentally, there are two ways to overcome loneliness: nurture your existing relationships or form new ones. Reflect on your current state of social health and then take one digital action to deepen it—such as getting in touch with a friend or family member you haven’t spoken with in a while—or to broaden it—such as reaching out to someone you’d like to get to know.

Use a tool: Increasingly, apps and social platforms are being designed to help us optimize our online interactions with loved ones, including Ikaria, Cocoon, Monaru and Squad. If you do well with structure, these resources may be a useful option for you. Or you can consider using conversation prompts, such as TableTopics or The And, to spark interesting dialogue during a video call.The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us that human connection can spread illness. But human connection also promotes wellness. Let’s take this opportunity to recognize the importance of relationships for our health and to practice leveraging technology for social well-being.

Solitude and Self-Realization: Why You Should Spend More Time Alone

Baltasar Gracián, the great Spanish Jesuit, baroque prose writer and philosopher once wrote – “Do not die of another person’s misery.”

In the era of Corona Virus where social life can prove a health hazard. This is a very interesting & inspiring video from the excellent Academy of Ideas.

Solitude and Self-Realization: Why You Should Spend More Time Alone
Watch this video on YouTube.

via – Academy of Ideas | Source – Academy of Ideas | Search  》Solitude & Health

The Reasons Stress Turns your hair White

Other than plain old genes. Stress is the main cause for hair whitening.

Ex-President Obama is a classic example of the effects of stress on your hair. (iStock/Getty Images)

In 1902, the British Medical Journal reported an unusual case of rapid hair whitening.

A 22-year-old woman “witnessed a tragedy of a woman’s throat being cut and the victim falling dead at her feet,” according to a physician at the London Temperance Hospital. The next day, the right side of her pubic hair turned white, while the left half remained black.

This historic case study makes for a terribly weird (and rapid) example of an otherwise common occurrence: gray hairs seem to accumulate when we’re stressed. And it’s not just random violence that sends people’s pigment running—college exams, children, and work pressure appear to change our coloring, too. But for millennia, scholars have been relying mostly on anecdotal proof and intuition to rationalize this phenomenon. In the absence of clear evidence, many scientists did not believe stress could turn hair snow white, instead arguing the change must be triggered by chemicals or strange immune system behavior. Rare cases where doctors observed the rapid whitening—like in the 1902 BMJ study—were a source of endless consternation.

A recent paper, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, may put some of these arguments to rest. In the study, stem cell and regenerative biologists from the United States and Brazil reported that stress can indeed cause hair to lose its pigment—and they identified a cellular pathway by which it can occur.

To study this vexing relationship, the researchers created an elaborate animal model, which basically involved trying to turn black-haired rats white with lab-made stressors. They tried three different tactics: restraint stress, chronic unpredictable stress, and nociception-induced stress, which is caused by physical pain (or the threat of it). Each successfully turned the rat’s hair white. Perhaps unsurprisingly, nociception-induced stress, which the scientists stimulated by injecting the rats with resiniferatoxin, an analogue of the chili pepper compound capsaicin, worked best and fastest.

Having identified the optimal way to make a rat panic, the team began searching for corresponding changes in the physiological pathways that give rise to coat color. They were particularly interested in the behaviors of two types of cells: differentiated melanocytes, which produce pigment in the hair and skin, and melanocyte stem cells, the raw material from which melanocytes develop. To observe each one independently, the researchers injected their tiny test subjects with the hot pepper-like substance when the rats’ fur was actively growing. At that point in the hair growth cycle, differentiated melanocytes naturally cluster in the hair bulb, while melanocyte stem cells gather together in a separate space called the bulge.

For five days after the injection, the rats’ coats remained black. The differentiated melanocytes in the hair bulb continued to pump out color. But in many follicles, the overtaxed melanocyte stem cells were “completely lost,” the researchers report. Pushed by a flood of noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter that surges in response to stress, the existing stem cells proliferated so quickly that they completely disappeared from their niche. The next time the rats’ coat grew, there were no melanocyte stem cells in these damaged follicles, so white hairs sprouted.

“In just a few days, the reservoir of pigment-regenerating stem cells [was] depleted,” Ya-Chieh Hsu, a professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard and the study’s senior author, told PopSci in an email. The loss was permanent. “And once they’re gone, pigment cannot be generated anymore.”

“This is an exquisitely elegant paper unrevealing an important mechanism of hair graying,” Alexey Terskikh, who researches development, aging, and regeneration at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, wrote via email.

But there are many other ways hair can lose its color. A 2018 paper suggested an overactive immune response can also destroy melanocytes and melanocyte stem cells in rats, bleaching their coat. Certain skin cancer drugs turn some patients’ hair transparent. Doctors think it’s a sign their bodies are responding positively to the drug. Genetic pathways, environmental pathways, and mutations can also play a role, according to Terskikh.

Hair still holds many secrets. We don’t know why hair loss plays out differently on someone’s scalp than on their face or, for that matter, their back. And, unfortunately for the anonymous Englishwoman with world-famous pubes, doctors still don’t agree about canities subita, the contested phenomenon where hair blanches seemingly overnight. But, in many cases, scientists are narrowing in on answers. In recent years, there’s been a surge in research and development for anti-balding solutions—and many of them show promise. Terskikh, for his part, is working on regenerating hair from scratch using things like pluripotent stem cells. If it works, we’ll have an unlimited supply of hair—presumably in every shade.

via – popsci | Source – Popular Science