Dr. Christina Liang-Boguszewicz is the founder of dR CLB, Partner and Group Managing Director of BI Group, and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Group Chair of Cyber Psychology & Cyber Space Mental Wellness (CyPSYCH) Special Interest Group and Policy Expert at the Global Foundation of Cyber Studies and Research Washington DC.
“In today’s digital world, mental health should be deemed as a socio-cyber imperative construct.” Says – Dr Christina
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, people have been seen working from home and connecting through the internet for work, shopping, schools and even appointments for doctors including psychiatrists. With this evolving cyberspace regime, cybercrime has also been observed to evolve in tandem – the ensuing stress has had serious impacts on the mental health of individuals.
With the billions of people on social media, and this figure rising, we now have a digital social landscape where all variations of minds are online. Cyber bullying is amplified exponentially as the target online audience is available in vast numbers. The variations of attacks are one aspect of cyber bullying that has caused major depression, alienation and a rise in teenage suicides, as depicted by various statistics.
How’s Cyber world affecting our health
Excessive reliance on digitalization is affecting the human brain, with relentless working regimes blurring the lines between work and private lives entailing over exposure to screens and, consequently, over stimulating the brain, leading to serious clinical and psychological disorders. This is particularly affecting children as their brains are in their early developmental stages where neural connections are formed, aiding in the development of various parts of the brain in a healthy way, a process which is now being impeded by the relentless and sustained intrusion of digital devices in their lives.
Understanding how our brain and body are connected
Our brain and body are connected through neural pathways made up of neurotransmitters, hormones and chemicals. These pathways transmit signals between our body and our brain to control our everyday functions from breathing, digestion and pain sensations to movement, thinking and feeling. While mind and body connection are determined from the interaction of psychological, social and biological factors
Stress is a multi-dimensional syndrome that can engage the entire human organism. Stress has become #1 killer in today’s world, affecting our mental, emotional, and physical well- being. Its effects on behavior can range from depression, irritability, aggression, and the loss of sense of humor. Mentally, long-term stress may affect a person’s ability to concentrate and lead to chronic depression. Physically, this can manifest as headaches, indigestion, aches and pains, heart palpitations, heart attacks, allergies, colitis, high blood pressure, PMS, eczema, autoimmune diseases, IBS, insomnia, lethargy, or a general breakdown of good health. People, who continually push themselves beyond the warning signs of fatigue and pain, often will not stop to rest, relax, and take the time to heal until there is a major breakdown of health.
In the Chinese medicine perspective, worries deplete the earth energies of the spleen, stomach, and pancreas. This affects the ability to think clearly, and digest nourishment properly. Since the spleen is the largest lymph node in the body, this may also indirectly affect the functions of the lymphatic and immune systems.
The Chemistry of Stress
The chemistry of stress has a deep physiological impact. It is known as the “fight or flight response,” triggered by the sympathetic response of the autonomic nervous system. The fight or flight response is designed to get the body moving and out of danger. During the fight or flight response, there is an increase in the heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, and sensory reflexes. When danger is identified by the senses, the hypothalamus secretes a corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF) into the blood stream, which then triggers the pituitary to release a second chemical known as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). As soon as the blood carrying the ACTH reaches the adrenal glands, they release adrenal hormones, principally adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream.
All of these chemicals precipitate a large number of specific changes in neural activities, tissues, and behavior. If accompanying physical exertion, in the resulting physical confusions, cannot safely diffuse the natural responses of our body there may be an expression of exertion on a mental or emotional level that turns to anger, fear, or other detrimental emotions.
How do we counter stress and live a healthier lifestyle
Creating a healthy and balanced lifestyle can help one cope and adjust to life’s stresses. Some of the ways of creating such a lifestyle include development of a positive mental attitude, choosing nourishing foods and liquids, adequate exercise or physical activity, time in the sunshine, and fresh air, deep breathing exercises, self-care, adequate rest, relaxation, meditation, and time for self.
Emotions are powerful forces and it can determine our outlook on life based on the events occurring around us. Building positive emotion can decrease the stress hormone cortisol and increase feel-good chemical messengers in the brain (such as dopamine and serotonin), helping one feel physically and emotionally safe, thus boosts feelings of safety and trust, which helps to build better bonds with those around them.
Positive emotions can enhance our survival over the long-term by giving us greater coping resources, clearer thoughts, increase creativity and enable us to see the “big picture” by stepping out of survival mode. Positive emotions also allow us to empathize with other humans, perhaps to share in joy or in pain.
Practice of positive emotions such as empathy, compassion and love on a daily basis can increase healing from emotional traumas, lower cortisol levels, increase immune capacity, and pave the way for happiness and optimum health.
Build resilience through the 4 domains – Emotion, Physical, Mental and Spiritually
Resilience has most frequently been defined as positive adaptation. Some may associate resilience with mental toughness, but it requires experiencing emotional pain and discomfort to show resiliency.
Building resilience is important as it gives people the necessary strength to process and resolve hardship. Those who lack endurance are easily overwhelmed and can resort to unhealthy strategies for coping. In order to solve obstacles and work through difficulties, resilient people tap their abilities and support networks. For a good reason, you hear a lot about rising and improving resilience—in ourselves and children alike.
Why resilience is a great trait:
- Greater endurance leads to better learning and academic attainment.
- Resilience is linked to a reduction in work or school absences due to sickness.
- Those with more endurance tend to engage more in group and family events.
- Increased resilience is related to lower death rates and increased physical activity.
- It helps minimize risk-taking habits like binge drinking, smoking, and substance use.
Meditation is basically a simple process of conscious relaxation. It is a combination of processes and postures, which involves human brain to achieve state of pleasure and tranquility. Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation, allowing you to focus on your attention and help to reverse your body stress response. Thus, this enhance physical and emotional well-being
Aromatherapy, also known as Essential Oil Therapy is a holistic healing technique that encourages health, equilibrium and wellness by using natural plant extracts. It uses essential aromatic oils to improve, enhance and heal the body, mind and spirit. It improves both physical and emotional health. It is both viewed as an art and a science.
Essential oils have also been known to have a positive effect on all the major physical systems of the body including the circulatory, lymphatic, digestive, eliminative, reproductive, endocrine, muscular, and skeletal. Modern day research has confirmed their therapeutic and medicinal qualities of being anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti- venomous, anti-depressive, anti-neuralgic, stimulant, nervine, digestive, diuretic and more.
A healthy diet is essential for good health and nutrition. It protects you against many chronic noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The human body is designed to be slightly alkaline instead of acidic, although the body is acidic by function (breathing, digestion, dealing with acid foods and drink). Plant based foods, which are mostly alkaline foods, are the principal ingredients that keep us healthy and work well in this slow moving human digestive system.
Benefits of eating healthy can improve heart and brain health, memory, mood and energy levels. It build strong bones and teeth and of cos, it also helps with our overall weight management.
Sleeping well directly affects both your mental and physical health. Fall short and it can take a serious toll on your daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight. Unhealthy daytime habits and lifestyle choices can leave you tossing and turning at night and adversely affect your mood, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and weight. But by experimenting with the following tips, you can enjoy better sleep at night, boost your health, and improve how you think and feel during the day.
How can I get a better night’s sleep?
Keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle
Control your exposure to light
Exercise during the day
Be smart about what you eat and drink
Wind down and clear your head
Improve your sleep environment
Learn ways to get back to sleep
Mental health is extremely important for the sound functioning of an individual. With ever advancing technology and the pace at which cyber space has occupied center-stage in our lives, it is extremely important to make sure that it does not negatively affect our mental health.
Dr Christina is a seasoned business transformation leader, a trusted C-level adviser, and one of the pioneers in Singapore and Asia to combine Science and Technology in transforming organizations into a Profitable, Resilient, and SMART Corporation. She is known for UAIME techniques, champions in aligning Organisation Growth with Human Capital x IoT x Blockchain and has delivered projects globally.
Dr Christina is the author of “Fostering The Wisdom of Resilience“ and co-written a white paper titled “The Fourth Industrial Revolution & CyberSpace Mental Health Stigma”. She is also a certified aromatherapist in clinical practice. A strong believer in holistic therapeutic treatment and in giving back to society, Dr Christina founded The Third Space, a Project for Good, “TWEL”, and started the “Pay Forward” program.
Dr Christina holds a Doctorate of Business Administration in Management, is a Certified Six Sigma Green Belt practitioner, Charter Member of ICOR, and Association of British Business Psychology. Member of Stanford Philosophy, International Society for Performance Management, Social Psychology Network and NAHA. She receives education from The Wharton School-University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University and Wesleyan University
Dr Christina follows the work of Dr Richard Davidson (mindfulness and mediation ), Dr Philip Zimbardo (individual behavior, Persuasion), Dr Daniel Gilbert (Cognitive biases), Dr Howard Gardner (Multiple intelligences), Dr Martin Seligman (positive psychology and wellbeing), Dr Greg Oldham (Job Characteristics Theory) Dr Deepak Chopard, and a believer in his holiness the great Dalai Lama teaching of being mindfulness, selfless and compassionate.