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Why Do We Freeze Under Pressure?

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April 22, 2022 – Pat Sajak has a secret that brain researchers have spent decades studying: Anyone can choke under stress. You blank on a movie title. You freeze at a pop question. A pop question causes you to freeze. Two players were stumped by a seemingly simple puzzle, and they were ridiculed online. Sajak tweeted that they were “good people in a difficult situation under stress that you can’t begin to appreciate from your couch,” but you won’t find brain researchers mocking the poor players. They know stress can cause problems in your body and mind, including your golf swing and your sixth and seventh Wordle guesses. You may find it difficult to perform the physical and mental tasks that you are used to doing with ease. Sian Beilock, PhD is the president of Barnard College, Columbia University, and a cognitive scientist. “We worry about what others will think, what we might loose,” she says. And that worry actually hinders our ability to focus. “Beilock and other brain researchers around the world give tasks to test subjects in the lab – such as math problems, word games and golf putting – and then compare brain activity under stress (with monetary rewards or a time limit or physical discomfort). Your prefrontal cortex becomes cluttered. This is the part of the brain that holds your working memory, the information you need to complete the task at hand. “Working memory” is what Beilock calls our cognitive horsepower. He wrote the book Choke, What the Secrets of the Brain Have to Say About Getting it Right When You Need It. It’s our ability focus on what we want, and get rid of the rest. Stress can cause a disruption in working memory, such as external stimuli, time pressure, embarrassment, and audience members. All this clutter disrupts the prefrontal cortex’s ability to communicate with the rest of our brain. Beilock states that “we actually disrupt the brain’s connections, our ability to string together information and pull out important parts.” We perform worse. One of her first studies found that students with high working-memory capacities outperformed students with low capacity in tests. This was until monetary rewards were added to the stakes. Both groups scored the exact same. The “smart” ones choked. It also happens to presidential candidates. Gary Johnson thought it was an acronym when he heard the word “Aleppo” in 2016. Rick Perry was unable to identify the third federal agency he had repeatedly vowed to eliminate in 2011. He said, “Oops!” Your Brain Under Stress. Brain researchers even use this term in conversation, if not in peer reviewed papers. They are more likely to use terms such as “allocation of resource,” which refers to how the brain divides up work. “That allocation can be lost when you’re under stress,” says Seth D. Norrholm PhD, a professor of psychology at Wayne State University School of Medicine. Norrholm says that humans only have one way to deal with stress. It’s the ‘fight, flee, or freeze’ reflex. He says that if a snake appears on a hiking trail you might freeze. “Your body has entered survival mode.” “The higher-order cognitive functions are shut down or bypassed.” Keep your mind off of things – just be alive! Norrholm says that the body doesn’t distinguish between a predator and a game show. It’s going to kick in the natural responses within us. Your life is not at risk, but your heart starts to race and you begin to sweat. It’s more a threat your ego and your sense of self. However, biologically, your response is the same. “Your response could include verbal tap dancing or nonverbal sounds. Or the classic freeze-up. Norrholm states that everyone freezes when they are publicly criticized or called out. “That deer-in-the-headlights look is a freeze response. “A crowd can cause stress, whether it’s 10 family members watching you play carols at the piano or 8 million judgy geniuses sitting next to you on Wheel. What’s Really Happening in Your Brain? Vikram Chib (PhD), a professor of biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University studies how the brain processes motivational factors. He explains that incentives are processed in reward areas of the brain, such the prefrontal cortex. (That again! He says that when incentives are high, brain signals that help you perform “seem corrupted or degraded.” Chib says that if money is at stake, you might think, “I don’t want to lose this,” and that fear makes you choke. Brain imaging suggests that your brain is processing these incentives as losses, which could be affecting your performance. This intracranial sabotage is even more complicated. “This intracranial sabotage is more difficult.” Norrholm states that it’s not only your performance or memory recall that is impaired, but also your perception. For example, you might hear “Aleppo”, which you think of as a government agency. You might not see the Wheel board clearly if your brain is filled with thoughts of big wins, losing, embarrassment, and a spinning clock. Sajak was able to see what was happening and tweeted: “The players were stunned when I said it wasn’t right.” He continued, “Now imagine that you’re on national television and suddenly you’re thrown a curve. And you start worrying about looking stupid. If the feather isn’t in your hat where can it be? You begin to look for synonyms for hat instead of flailing around looking for them. Norrholm states that confusion can result from the inability to think clearly and conceptualize things when you are under duress. Professor of psychology at the University of Michigan Taraz Lee, PhD, likens our attention to a spotlight. He says, “When people are under pressure, that spotlight narrows.” Instead of looking at the big picture and trying many different things, you get stuck in a rut. There are no immediate solutions to a freeze-up. You can make them less likely and more severe by planning ahead. This can help “offload” anxiety. Research shows that this can help you push away worries so they don’t interfere with your crunch time. Motivational “self-talk” is a technique used by athletes to help them through stressful situations like a Zoom presentation. Beilock states that positive self-talk can increase self-worth and confidence. Take a deep breath. Norrholm states that this engages the parasympathetic nervous systems, which “counteracts the fight or flight or freeze response.” The pause allows you to “reorient cognitively” so that you can summon the brilliant bon mot at the tip of your tongue. Reframe the task. You can avoid worrying about a loss, whether it’s a contract, a game, or any other type of loss. Instead, think about the possibility. This will ensure that you don’t feel burdened as you go about your task. Chib says that this is another way of offloading. Lee suggests that you practice under pressure. All experts agree that the more you practice nerve-wracking events under similar circumstances, the greater your chances of success. Gather your family and pets, and use the same laptop as the props for your speech. Norrholm states that while you may still feel nervous, the anxiety will pass quickly. Beilock says that if you know you’ll feel sweaty or your pulse pounding, these feelings can be less powerful. Reframe these feelings. You can remind yourself that these feelings are normal and that you are motivated to succeed.

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Article: webmd.com

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New GR Pharmacy to Serve Spanish-speaking Patients

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — By the end of the year, Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood will have a new pharmacy.

Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria began construction Monday morning on the $1.5 million project. The new pharmacy will include both walk-up and drive-thru services.

Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria practice leader Kameron Selleck it will offer convenience in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a pharmacy close in proximity, making it challenging for patients to get their prescriptions in a timely manner.

“A lot of our patients do encounter a lot of social barriers in their lives,” Selleck said.

He added that a language barrier can make it difficult patients to get their prescriptions. He said nearly every employee at Clinica Santa Maria is bilingual in Spanish and the plan is for that trend to carry over to new pharmacy and pharmacy tech hires.

“I think this project was announced almost five years ago, so it’s here,” Selleck said. “I just really encourage the community to be as excited as we are.

The pharmacy is at 730 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. SW (formerly Grandville Avenue) at Martin Luther King Jr. Street (formerly Franklin Street) in Grand Rapids. It will be the seventh Trinity Health pharmacy in the Grand Rapids area, with the other locations being Cathedral Square, the Wege Building at Trinity Heath Saint Mary’s, Hudsonville, Rockford, Byron Center and Southeast Grand Rapids.

Original Post: woodtv.com

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Tulip Time Crowds Encouraging for Returning Festivals

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HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Tulip Time saw big crowds this year as it returned to a more regular schedule.

The event was cancelled in 2020 and scaled back last year because of the pandemic.

Hot temperatures caused damage to some of Holland’s tulips, Tulip Time organizers say.

The heat caused challenges for the 2022 festival. The Tulip Immersion Garden, a new attraction, had to close early because the hot temperatures caused too much damage to the flowers, Tulip Time Executive Director Gwen Auwerda said.

“They don’t like 80 degree, 90 degree weather. Tulips prefer it to be about 40 at night, 60 to 70, maybe 80 during the day,” Auwerda said.


Heat closes down Tulip Time Immersion Garden early

The organization is working on final numbers but saw attendance return to pre-pandemic levels.

“I do know that the carnival exceeded 2019 by 25 to 30%, so that was fabulous for them and it was packed everywhere in town,” Auwerda said.

Kevin Knight, the owner of Market Zero, said the festival definitely provided a boost as they worked to keep up with demand. 

“It’s a huge kick off to your summer season,” Knight said. “Our fridges were completely full and got completely empty and completely full and completely empty, so it was about everything we could handle.”

Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022. Inside Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022.

The return of crowds could be good sign for other events coming back this summer, like the Festival of the Arts in Grand Rapids. Mark Azkoul, an organizer for the event that began in 1970, sees the success of Tulip Time as encouraging.


Tulip Time has record-breaking opening weekend

“We’ve been out for two years so this is a big thing for us and for the city to get Festival back up and going,” Azkoul said.

Organizers created the Plein Air event for 2021, which combined outdoor art and music.

The 2022 event runs June 3 through June 5. After taking a break because of the pandemic the festival needs extra help.    

“A lot of people still don’t know yet festival is coming back, so we really want to get the word out. We need more volunteers,” Azkoul said.

People interested in volunteering can sign up on the Festival of the Arts website.

Source: woodtv.com

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Mom Does ‘small Part’ to Help Parents Who Need Formula

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HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Though there appears to an end of the baby formula shortage in sight, it’s still causing problems for parents, so a mother in Holland did what she could to help.

Abbott Nutrition has announced its entered into an agreement with the federal Food and Drug Administration to restart its Sturgis plant within two weeks. The closure of that plant has been a huge contributing factor to the shortage. The company expects its products to ship to stores eight weeks after production resumes.

But for now, many parents can’t find the formula they need. The low supply has some stores limiting the number of formulas customers can purchase, adding that they are in “extraordinary high” demand.

The baby formula shelves at a Meijer in Holland.

So Caitlin Dampier, a mother of two whose youngest is a 3-month-old girl, stepped up to help where she could.

“I really wish I could help out more, but this is just my small part,” Dampier said.

She got a box of Enfamil formulas that she’s not using because she’s breastfeeding.

“When you’re pregnant, you get free samples and so I thought I would just offer mine for free for mothers who need them,” Dampier said. “I kept it around in case I wasn’t able to breastfeed.”


5 things to know if you can’t find baby formula

Dampier made a post on Facebook this week directed at parents who can’t find formula. The box she received included three cans of Enfamil formulas and two ready-made formulas.

Two mothers reached out to her, including Kourtney Hann, another Holland resident. She’s one of thousands of mothers across the country who have had to go to great lengths to find food for their baby.

“I have had to go to stores maybe 45 minutes away just to even try to get formula,” she said. “It’s very hard to find them where I’m at right now. I went to Walmart yesterday and all they had was Similac and my daughter has a really bad reaction to Similac.”

Hann was able to connect with Dampier and picked up a can of Enfamil. Dampier left the box on her front porch with the message, “Please take only the formula you chose and tear out some coupons for yourself. My prayers are with you during this difficult time.”

The box of Enfamil products Caitlin Dampier left at her door for mothers to pick up.

Hann said she was down to her last can of baby formula which lasts her about five days. Now that she has received another can from Dampier, she’ll be able to feed her 9-month-old for the next two weeks.

“Being a mom is hard enough as it is. You have so many other struggles and to be afraid to know if you’re going to be able to feed your baby or not is a struggle,” Dampier said. “You want to do everything for your kids so when you’re not able to it’s hard. It’s just the worst feeling in the world.”

Article: woodtv.com

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