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15 hacks that make running errands so much better

<p>Run errands during the week<br />More than 90 per cent of people do errands on the weekends, meaning shops will be packed and traffic will be a nightmare. Running errands on a weeknight will get you in and out in half the time. Once the kids are in bed, have one parent stay home while the other drives to the shops. You’ll miss the crowds and keep your weekend free for fun and family.</p> <p>Turn on a podcast<br />Radio music – and its deejays and commercials – can get intense. Switch off the FM and plug in your phone so you can listen to a podcast or audiobook. You’ll be more relaxed, and the time will fly as you get engrossed in the story.</p> <p>Make the most of your time<br />Never run out for just one task. Save time, petrol, and stress by getting more than one thing done when you’re out of the house. After dropping your child off at soccer practice, drop off your dry cleaning or pick up the milk from the supermarket.</p> <p>Set up an errand centre in your home<br />Keeping all the objects you’ll need to complete your errands – packages to be mailed, dry cleaning to be delivered, library books to be returned – in one place will make it easy to get out the door when you get the chance. Designate a space by the door or in your car as a visual reminder of what needs to get done.</p> <p>Buy in bulk<br />Picking up big batches of items like toilet paper, dog food, and tampons means fewer trips to the supermarket and less time running errands. Plus, you save money by buying bulk packages or stocking up while the items are on sale.</p> <p>Use long lines for ‘me time’<br />Instead of griping about how long your wait to the cash register is, think of it as a few peaceful moments to yourself. Close your eyes (don’t be self-conscious!) and imagine yourself sitting on a quiet beach or getting a massage. Take several deep breaths while you mentally escape to that place. You’ll be much more relaxed, and you can wait in line with less frustration.</p> <p>Practice mindfulness<br />Performing a ‘walking meditation’ while you shop will keep you engaged with your task instead of letting your mind wander to other stressors. By the end of your trip, you’ll have more energy and less frustration. Pay attention to the bright colours of the produce, the scents wafting from the bakery, and the feeling of each step you take.</p> <p>Do someone else’s errands<br />If you have an elderly neighbour or know a mother with young kids, offer to add some of their tasks to your to-do list. Studies have shown that helping others can reduce stress.</p> <p>Tune out<br />Instead of drowning out your thoughts with music, keep the radio off when you’re driving and allow your own thoughts to come to you. The stimuli of everyday life can be overwhelming, so this is your chance to recharge your energy in the silence.</p> <p>Keep a grocery list on your phone<br />You probably buy the same things on most of your grocery runs. Instead of writing a new list every week, keep an ongoing list on your phone, which makes it easy to add and remove items. Organise your list in the order you’ll find them at the supermarket. For instance, if you start near the produce section, write the fruits and vegetables first.</p> <p>Reward yourself<br />To keep yourself motivated while you’re out, add a little luxury to your shopping list. Treat yourself with nice bath soap, a bouquet of flowers, or your favourite craft beer.</p> <p>Keep an ongoing errands list<br />Write down your usual tasks, along with the ones you keep forgetting to do, like buying socks for your child or making a vet appointment for the dog, in a notepad. Carry it with you so you don’t miss anything when you’re out. When you’re home, stash it where the rest of your family can access it and jot down their needs.</p> <p>Buy online as much as possible<br />The possibilities are endless: order groceries, buy stamps, cash checks, and renew library books online. Giving your credit card number over a secured server is safer than stating your number over the phone, and sometimes safer than handing your card over at a store.</p> <p>Alternate tasks with your neighbour<br />Make a deal with your neighbours in which you do the grocery shopping one week, and they take care of it the next. You can watch each other’s kids when it’s your turn to stay home, and both of you will make fewer trips to the supermarket. Or plan to go grocery shopping with a friend. You’ll have more fun with the social support, and your kids might behave better with someone else present.</p> <p>Have dad run errands with the kids<br />Kids who cook, clean, and run errands with their dads have more friends and are better behaved, according to a University of California study. Make sure your partner (or you, if you’re a dad) takes the kids along every now and then. As a bonus, wives of men who do chores with their kids find their husbands more attractive.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by the Reader’s Digest Editors. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/15-hacks-that-make-running-errands-so-much-better/"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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Spooky facts about the moon

<p><strong>There’s a graveyard on the moon</strong><br />Most of the 181,437 kilograms of garbage on the moon is space junk and ephemera crash-landed or left behind by the 12 astronauts who have visited since 1969: abandoned satellites, spent rockets, cameras, backpacks, and golf balls. But here’s one of the more morbid moon facts: Among the detritus on the moon are the ashes of Eugene Shoemaker, one of the founders of the field of planetary science, sent skyward by NASA in a polycarbonate capsule.</p> <p><strong>“Lunatics” can blame the moon</strong><br />One of the moon facts from the Middle Ages is that scientists and philosophers believed that a full moon caused seizures and influenced episodes of fever and rheumatism. Because of the connection between the moon and unusual behaviour, the afflicted were called lunatics, or, literally, “moon sick.”</p> <p><strong>The moon is disappearing</strong><br />Each year, the moon’s orbit moves about four centimetres away from the Earth, meaning that in a mere 500 million years, the moon will be 23,496 kilometres farther away than it is right now.</p> <p><strong>There are fresh footprints on the moon’s surface</strong><br />Man hasn’t set foot on the moon in more than four decades, and yet, fresh prints remain. Is this evidence of an alien life form? Is Bigfoot taking up extra-planetary residence? Nah, they’re just leftover astronaut footprints. Because there’s no wind or water on the moon, tracks can last millions of years.</p> <p><strong>A full moon might keep you awake</strong><br />In a small study from the University of Basel in Switzerland, subjects monitored closest to a full moon experienced less deep sleep, produced less melatonin, and took five minutes longer to fall asleep that those monitored during other times of the month. Sleep researcher Marie Dumont, who wasn’t involved in the study, suggests that the full moon could indirectly affect the internal body clock by increasing volunteers’ exposure to light in the evening.</p> <p><strong>The truth about the blood moon</strong><br />As many people witnessed in late September 2015, the moon really can turn an eerie shade of red under the right conditions. But despite werewolf warnings and apocalypse alerts, scientists define the so-called “blood” moon as a purely astronomical event when the earth casts a rust-coloured shadow on the moon’s surface.</p> <p><strong>Shadows are darker on the moon than on Earth</strong><br />Astronauts on the moon immediately noticed that their shadows were much darker there than on Earth. The atmosphere that scatters light to create shadows on Earth is absent on the moon. The sun and the Earth itself provide a little bit of light, enough for shadows to still appear, but the shadows are much harder to see.</p> <p><strong>The moon experiences earthquakes (or moonquakes)</strong><br />Just like the Earth, the moon has a crust that shifts and changes. Moonquakes can occur when the lunar crust warms and expands, or they can be triggered by meteorite impacts. While moonquakes don’t reach the same level of intensity as earthquakes, they can last much longer, because the moon has no water to combat seismic vibrations.</p> <p><strong>The moon has a time zone all its own</strong><br />It’s called “Lunar Standard Time,” but it doesn’t correspond simply with a time on Earth. Time is quite different on the moon than on Earth; a year on the moon is divided into twelve “days,” each about as long as an Earth month. Each “day” is named after a different astronaut who has walked on the moon. The “days” are divided into 30 “cycles,” which are then divided into hours, minutes, and seconds. Oh, and the calendar started the moment Neil Armstrong walked on the moon: Year 1, day 1, cycle 1 began at July 21st, 1969 at 02:56:15 Universal Time.</p> <p><strong>The moon experiences a huge range of temperatures</strong><br />You probably think of Earth as located in the habitable, moderate zone of our solar system. Planets closer to the sun are far hotter, while the planets farther away experience frigid temperatures. But the moon experiences some pretty intense temperatures, on both ends of the spectrum, considering how close it is to our life-friendly planet. During the day, temperatures can be as high as 93.33 degrees Celsius. By the moon’s poles, though, the temperature stays around minus 204 degrees Celsius. This disparity is thanks to the moon’s lack of an atmosphere.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Beth Dreher. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/spooky-facts-about-the-moon"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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Funny words you probably don’t know

<p><strong>Friendlily</strong><br />No, it’s not misspelled. It sounds wrong, but – trust us – it’s right! Many weird words seem fake at first. Do you know what this one means? The definition: To do something in a friendly way. For example: “He friendlily questioned my use of the word friendlily.”</p> <p><strong>Macaronic</strong><br />Looking to find this word on an Italian dinner menu topped with cheese? You won’t. Think you can guess what it means? It actually refers to when someone mixes two different languages together like, “I vogilio a side of meatballs with my macaronic per favore…I’m saying it incorrecto, aren’t I?”</p> <p><strong>Dongle</strong><br />This sounds like it could be a brand that sells fancy new dog toys, but this is definitely not something you should put on the shopping list for your new puppy. Before you take a trip to PetSmart, find out what a dongle actually is. It’s a piece of hardware that connects a computer to another device. You may use a dongle on a regular basis to connect to a digital media player to stream shows or to use Bluetooth and WiFi.</p> <p><strong>Pronk</strong><br />Wham! Bam! Pronk? Not so much, unless it’s the sound you made when you bonk someone on the head. Any guesses what this funny word could mean? A pronk is a weak or foolish individual. It is also used as a verb when referring to antelope and similar animals, which means to leap with an arched back and stiff legs as a form of display or a sign it is threatened.</p> <p><strong>Abear</strong><br />Not the grizzly, terrifying kind! This word has nothing to do with animals. We’ll give you a second guess. Abear means to endure or put up with, which means you could feasibly say: “I abeared this encounter with a bear!”</p> <p><strong>Cabotage</strong><br />Let’s make one thing clear: Cabotage does not mean to sabotage a taxi driver, which we do not recommend in any circumstance, just as a general tip for safe driving. So what’s the real definition?</p> <p>It means the transport of goods and passengers between two places in the same country, or the right to do so. Originally, it only referred to coastal travel between ports, but the definition has expanded to include travel by air, railway, and by road.</p> <p><strong>Oxter</strong><br />As much as we would love to tell you that oxter is a group of oxen and otters that became friends and peacefully coexist against all odds, that would be a lie.</p> <p>Surprises! Oxter has nothing to do with oxen or otters or any kind of animal. Believe it or not, this funny word is an outdated term for “armpit.” Even when you think you know what a word means, misnomers will prove you wrong.</p> <p><strong>Agelast</strong><br />Funny words mean funny things, and this word does not refer to the fountain of youth. It actually means someone who never laughs, and you definitely don’t want to be that person.</p> <p><strong>Godwottery</strong><br />Hark! This term dost indicate an archaic or elaborate sort of speech. Godwottery is an outdated term, and today people may also describe it as “purple prose.” They seem like funny words to say, but you’ll probably be met with an awkward silence.</p> <p><strong>Spondulicks</strong><br />Thank goodness that this antiquated word for “cash” hasn’t been used since the eighteenth century; we think it would be a pretty difficult word for rappers to rhyme.</p> <p><strong>Fartlek</strong><br />A fartlek is a type of endurance training in which a runner switches between sprinting and jogging. Can someone give us the phone number for the marketing team that came up with this word? We have a few questions.</p> <p><strong>Popple</strong><br />This word, which means “choppy seas,” seems onomatopoetic. We can imagine waves breaking on the shore, making the noise “popple popple popple.”</p> <p><strong>Knurly</strong><br />“Knurly” describes something with “small protuberances,” such as knobs or tumours. This is one of those weird words you don’t want to hear at a doctor’s appointment.</p> <p><strong>Megadeath</strong><br />This unit refers to “one million deaths,” and is usually used to discuss nuclear warfare. This sounds like it belongs on our list of funny words, or even a list of metal bands. But the definition is actually terrifying.</p> <p><strong>Bumfuzzle</strong><br />This funny word means to confuse, perplex, or fluster, according to Merriam Webster. We sure would be flustered if someone used this word in conversation with us.</p> <p><strong>Tweep</strong><br />A person who uses Twitter can be called a “tweeter” or a “tweep,” but those of us who actually use the site just call ourselves “bored.”</p> <p><strong>Spim</strong><br />This weird word means “spam sent over instant message.” Take the -am out of spam and replace it with “IM” for “Instant Message,” and you have Spim. We know these funny words might sound made up but they’re not—unlike these fake words that actually made it into the dictionary.</p> <p><strong>Lickspittle</strong><br />This is one of our favourite funny words – it means something similar to “brown-noser” or “kiss-up.” A lickspittle is someone who reveres authority.</p> <p><strong>Spleenwort</strong><br />“Spleenwort” is one of those weird words that doesn’t sound anything like the thing it describes. Though this word sounds like the name of an intestinal disease, it actually describes a kind of evergreen fern.</p> <p><strong>Flummery</strong><br />A “flummery” describes a soft jelly or porridge made with flour or meal, but more commonly it is used to describe an empty compliment. “I love how you’ll just wear anything!” or “You look so awake today!” are examples of flummery.</p> <p><strong>Draggle</strong><br />To “draggle” something is to make something wet and dirty by dragging it. If you’ve ever worn too-long pants in the rain, you’ve draggled.</p> <p><strong>Penuche</strong><br />Never heard this word before? It’s no surprise if you’re not a baker. A penuche is a sort of fudge that is made from brown sugar, buttercream, and nuts.</p> <p><strong>Sobersides</strong><br />If you attend a memorial service, funeral or wake, you’ll encounter a lot of sobersides, or people with a serious or sad appearance. Sobersides can also be found outside of such events, and are also commonly referred to as “deadpans.”</p> <p><strong>Slumgullion</strong><br />A slumgullion is a cheap meat stew. It’s one of the English language’s weird words for food that don’t sound appetising at all.</p> <p><strong>Wamble</strong><br />This word means “to feel nausea,” and we think it’s perfect. This word seems like a combination of “rumble,” and “waddle,” which is exactly what we do when we feel sick. This word is a far cry from some of the most beautiful words in the English language.</p> <p><strong>Ufology</strong><br />“Ufology” is the study of UFOs, or unidentified flying objects. Working in this field is every kid’s dream!</p> <p><strong>Waesucks</strong><br />This word can be substituted for the classic “alas!” and is used to express sadness, exasperation, or pity in Scotland.</p> <p><strong>Taliped</strong><br />This word describes a foot that is twisted out of shape. Hopefully, this is some vocab you’ll never need to use.</p> <p><strong>Collywobbles</strong><br />Like “wamble,” this word is used to describe nausea and bellyaches. Next time you want to show off your repertoire of weird words, tell your boss that you’ve got a case of the “collywobbles,” and can’t come in tomorrow.</p> <p><strong>Stumblebum</strong><br />Any idea what “Stumblebum” means? It’s one of our favourite funny words! If you are a klutz, halfwit, nincompoop, or moron, add another descriptor to your resume. A “stumblebum” is a clumsy or inept person.</p> <p><em>Written by Dani Walpole and Alison Caporimo. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/true-stories-lifestyle/our-language/funny-words-you-probably-dont-know">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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20 rebus puzzles that are almost impossible to solve

<p><strong>Test your smarts with these rebus puzzles</strong><br />Rebus puzzles, also known as word picture puzzles or picture riddles, use images or words to convey a phrase or message, typically a common idiom or expression. To help you solve them, make sure to look at word placement, size, colour and quantity. Take your time and don’t give up. These can be pretty tricky.</p> <p>To help you get your brain on the right track, take a look at the most frequently used idioms in the English language.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #1</strong><br />We’ll start off with a simple rebus puzzle. Can you guess this one?</p> <p>Answer: Green with envy.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #2</strong><br />Can you solve this puzzle? Hint: Focus on the word here.</p> <p>Answer: Split pea soup.</p> <p>Try these 21 brain games guaranteed to boost your brain power.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #3</strong><br />This is one of the rebus puzzles where you need to focus on the placement – and number – of numbers.</p> <p>Answer: For once in my life.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #4</strong><br />Tilt your head to solve this rebus puzzle.</p> <p>Answer: What goes up must come down.</p> <p>See how you fare with these 19 trivia questions only geniuses get right.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #5</strong><br />How fast can you solve this tricky rebus puzzle? Make sure to take note of the placement of the words.</p> <p>Answer: Overseas travel.</p> <p>Wrack your brain with these mind-bending logic puzzles.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #6</strong><br />You might think this rebus puzzle has something to do with wine, but think again.</p> <p>Answer: Win with ease.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #7</strong><br />Hint: Think of different types of house layouts.</p> <p>Answer: Split level.</p> <p>Here are 5 more puzzles sure to get you thinking.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #8</strong><br />The answer isn’t “try to stand.” If that’s what you thought, keep guessing.</p> <p>Answer: Try to understand.</p> <p>This puzzle was dubbed the hardest ever by a university professor. Can you solve it?</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #9</strong><br />Clear your brain and think hard about this rebus puzzle. Can you solve it?</p> <p>Answer: Summer (sum R).</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #10</strong><br />We’ll give you a hint to solve this rebus puzzle. What words start with “meta”?</p> <p>Answer: Metaphor.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #11</strong><br />Hmm, what do those numbers mean?</p> <p>Answer: Safety in numbers.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #12</strong><br />First, rearrange the letters to make a real word.</p> <p>Answer: Trail mix.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #13</strong><br />We’ll throw in one of the easier rebus puzzles to give your brain a rest. (The colour here matters.)</p> <p>Answer: Greenhouse.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #14</strong><br />Can you figure out why the word “cover” appears four times and the word “head” only appears once?</p> <p>Answer: Head for cover.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #15</strong><br />This one is tricky. What words do you see?</p> <p>Answer: Go up in smoke.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #16<br /></strong>This rebus puzzle represents an idiom you might use when you’re happy.</p> <p>Answer: Sitting on top of the world.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #17</strong><br />Notice the shape of this rebus puzzle to help you solve it.</p> <p>Answer: Street corner.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #18</strong><br />Can you decode this one?</p> <p>Answer: In between jobs.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #19</strong><br />Rebus puzzles aren’t easy. If you’ve solved every one so far, that’s super impressive.</p> <p>Answer: Up for grabs.</p> <p><strong>Rebus puzzle #20</strong><br />How many of these rebus puzzles did you get right? Guess this last one and finish strong.</p> <p>Answer: Forgive and forget.</p> <p><em>Written by Morgan Cutolo. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/thought-provoking/20-rebus-puzzles-that-are-almost-impossible-to-solve?pages=1"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em><span></span></p>

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7 silent signs of high-functioning anxiety

<p><strong>What is high-functioning anxiety?</strong><br />When we talk about people with high-functioning anxiety, we are talking about people who, at least on the surface, seem successful at school, work, or home, explains clinical psychologist Dr Inna Khazan. On the inside, however, they are experiencing a near-constant state of anxiety. “People with high-functioning anxiety push themselves to get things done, with anxiety constantly holding a ‘stick’ over their heads,” she says. “Fear of what might happen if they don’t move forward keeps them moving forward. And because these people are often high-achieving, no one thinks that there is anything ‘wrong’ with them.”</p> <p><strong>You worry excessively</strong><br />It’s normal to ruminate over things and have brief periods of worry. But if this is the mental state you experience 15-plus days a month for six months or more, you have an anxiety disorder, says psychotherapist Annie Wright. Specifically, this could signal generalised anxiety disorder. Wright explains that such worries can run the gamut from your love life to your retirement savings. “And, often, the amount and intensity of the worry you have are likely disproportionate to the event itself. In other words, everything feels like a really big deal when perhaps it isn’t.”</p> <p><strong>You can’t control your anxiety (but nobody realises this)</strong><br />Even if you know all the calming tricks – deep breaths, magic phrases to clam yourself down, jotting down your thoughts – you still live with your worries on a daily basis. Despite your self-care practices, your anxiety may still get the better of you because you simply cannot control it, says Wright. And while you’re aware of these feelings, chances are, others might not be. “People who experience it do not look like what we expect a highly anxious person to look like – frozen, unable to make decisions, failing to get things done,” she says. “Also, people with high-functioning anxiety rarely allow themselves to ask for help or admit that there is anything wrong.”</p> <p><strong>Nothing is ever good enough</strong><br />People who have anxiety disorders often feel a constant pressure to perform at top-notch standards across all areas of life. But after a while, this can wear on you. Generally, a person who we might classify as having high-functioning anxiety is ambitious, perfectionistic, and set in their way of doing things,” says Khazan. Interestingly, she explains that anxiety is often about feeling unsafe. “These structured rituals and certain ways of doing things provide people with high-functioning anxiety with a sense of safety,” Khazan says. “They may become quite upset if they are knocked out of their routine because the lack of familiar structure feels overwhelmingly unsafe.”</p> <p><strong>Your anxiety is interfering with your daily life</strong><br />You may be aware that it’s becoming harder to feel secure and competent at work and in your relationships with partners, relatives, and friends, says Wright. In other words, you appear calm and in control on the surface, but it’s a different story on the inside. As Wright puts it, “inwardly, you’re living out a high-drama movie each day and it’s starting to wear on your quality of life.”</p> <p><strong>You can’t sleep</strong><br />It’s not uncommon to have trouble falling or staying asleep, or to have a restless sleep. “You may rely on a glass or two of wine or paracetamol to mask it temporarily, but basically, you have sleep issues,” warns Wright. In addition, because your nervous system is in overdrive, you may also have a heightened startle response. This means you may jump or startle easily, such as when ambulance sirens go off or a door slams shut. Neither paracetamol nor wine are long-term solutions and may even worsen your sleep issues. Some people find taking melatonin helps with their nighttime anxiety, but ultimately you should talk to a medical professional about solutions for the long haul.</p> <p><strong>You can’t concentrate</strong><br />Concentration issues go hand-in-hand with anxiety, says Wright. For example, it may be hard to focus at work or you may have to re-read a page of a book several times because your mind wandered. Instead of concentrating on what’s happening in front of you right now, you may find yourself worrying about the future. Or, you might feel as though your mind is blank.</p> <p><strong>You’re irritable and tense</strong><br />Living with anxiety means living with a low capacity for stressors, says Wright. In other words, you sweat the small stuff, your patience is thin, and you feel grumpy. But it’s not just your mind that’s tense; many people with anxiety disorders experience tightness, constricting, and general tension in their muscles. “If you’re emotionally and mentally wound up in knots, your body is likely holding onto the tension, leading to a general feeling of physical tightness,” explains Wright.</p> <p><strong>How to get help</strong><br />Make sure you do indeed take care of yourself. “People often think they are fine because they get praise and approval from others about their leadership or accomplishments,” explains marriage and family therapist. “But ignoring it can cause burnout and increase your risk of physical health issues, sleep problems, relationship problems, anger, irritability, depression.” Individual or group therapy, along with medication, can help treat anxiety. You’ll learn to replace worrisome thoughts and behaviours with more beneficial coping strategies. Therefore, you’ll start to feel comfortable about things that previously left you anxious, she explains.</p> <div class="share-buttons"> <div class="addthis_inline_share_toolbox" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/7-silent-signs-of-high-functioning-anxiety" data-title="7 silent signs of high-functioning anxiety | Reader's Digest Australia" data-description="Your anxiety may be affecting your life – and your general health – more than you realise. Here are the warning signs."> <div id="atstbx" class="at-resp-share-element at-style-responsive at-mobile addthis-smartlayers addthis-animated at4-show" aria-labelledby="at-2c7a604c-a5b4-4c9a-99ad-f2b49444aed8"><em>Written by Claire Gillespie. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/healthsmart/7-silent-signs-of-high-functioning-anxiety">Reader’s Digest.</a> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></div> </div> </div>

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15 questions polite people never ask

<div class="share-buttons"> <div class="addthis_inline_share_toolbox" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/15-questions-polite-people-never-ask" data-title="15 questions polite people never ask | Reader's Digest Australia" data-description="While your intentions may come from the right place, you need to think about how a question will make the object of your interrogation feel before speaking. Here are the questions that experts say to put on your &quot;just don't say it&quot; list."> <div class="at-resp-share-element at-style-responsive addthis-smartlayers addthis-animated at4-show at-mobile" aria-labelledby="at-a02d1d62-6b60-4b42-a7aa-4fc057d9ccc5"> <p><strong>How to tell if a question is appropriate</strong><br />Asking questions is usually a means to an end. You need information, the person you’re speaking with (hopefully) has answers. However, while this works great for “What time does the store close” or “What is your favourite book?” it gets sticky when you veer into personal territory, says Sarah Epstein, MFT, a relationship therapist. Many people may think they’re just making “polite conversation” by asking questions of the other person but they are actually coming across as intrusive or judgmental, she says.</p> <p>How do you know the difference? “A good rule of thumb is that polite people always think about the impact of their words instead of only thinking about the information they want to learn,” she says.</p> <p><strong>You’re so cute, why are you still single?</strong><br />“Thoughtful, polite people don’t ask about a person’s relationship status because they know that it can be a sensitive subject for many,” Epstein says. The other issue with this question is the word “still” – something you should try to avoid because it comes across as inherently judgmental in any personal question, she adds.</p> <p><strong>Why don’t you have kids yet?</strong><br />Polite people never ask about reproduction because they know that a person’s choice whether or not to have children can be a very touchy subject, laden with potential landmines, Epstein says. “These types of questions often lead to hurt feelings, particularly for those who struggle with infertility or those who have chosen not to have children but continually receive questions about their decision,” she says.</p> <p><strong>You look so thin! Have you lost weight?</strong><br />For many people this may seem like the ultimate compliment, acknowledging someone else’s hard work. But unless you know for sure that the person was trying to lose weight and that they are OK with you commenting on their body, steer clear. “Polite people avoid questioning or commenting on others’ weight at all,” Epstein says. “Superficial questions rarely lead to fulfilling conversations. Plus weight loss can have many sources, including illness, eating disorders, anxiety and grief.”</p> <p><strong>Why haven’t you put a ring on it yet?</strong><br />Even in couples who’ve been together for years, not all relationships lead to marriage and not all partners are looking to be wed, says Jodi R. R. Smith, etiquette expert and founder of Mannersmith. “The only people who should be asking these questions are the ones in the relationship,” she says. “If you just want a reason to attend a big party, you should host one yourself (after the pandemic, of course).”</p> <p><strong>You seem like you’re doing well, how much money do you make?</strong><br />The only people allowed to ask this question are professional headhunters doing a confidential salary survey, Smith says. “If you are just curious how much your friend, cousin, or neighbour makes at their job, you can quell that curiosity by looking it up on a salary website,” she says. “Many etiquette rules have relaxed but asking about money is still tres gauche.”</p> <p><strong>I’m sorry to hear your dad passed, how did he die?</strong><br />Curiosity about someone’s death is natural and very human, especially during a pandemic of a deadly virus, but this is still one question you shouldn’t ask, Smith says. “You need to remember that the person you are talking to is in mourning and that’s no time to play amateur detective,” she says. “You should be expressing your condolences and looking for ways to comfort the mourner and that’s it.” Plus, there are generally kinder routes to finding that information (like Google) that don’t put the burden on the family.</p> <p><strong>Why do you look so tired?</strong><br />You may think you’re expressing concern for their health and wellbeing but what the listener likely hears is “you look bad,” says Bonnie Tsai, etiquette expert and founder and director of Beyond Etiquette. “They may be experiencing some health issues that are causing them to feel more fatigued than usual or they may just appear that way all the time,” she says. “There’s no need for you to make them feel like they need to appear a certain way that’s acceptable for your standards or society’s standards.”</p> <p><strong>So, who are you voting for?</strong><br />“Politics has always been a taboo subject for the dinner table and most social situations because it can alter the mood of a conversation very quickly,” Tsai says. “You can never be too sure of other people’s political affiliation and values and no one likes to be put on the spot by that question.” This is particularly important to remember these days when politics, religion, and other hot button issues are centre stage.</p> <p><strong>Why don’t you get out more?</strong><br />You may see this as a gentle way to chide your friend into trying new things, hanging out, or even travelling more. “However, this question can be perceived as offensive because it sounds as if you are suggesting the person needs more exposure and knowledge and they are uninteresting,” she says. This may also be a sore subject if someone doesn’t have the same financial resources as you and wants to do more things but can’t afford to, she adds.</p> <p><strong>Oh, where is his dad?</strong><br />This is one of these uncomfortable, painful and unnecessary questions that too often pop out in the moment, without thinking, Parker says. “This is an intensely personal question and if people would like to talk about their personal life they tell you,” she says. “Resist asking to satisfy your curiosity about their family situation.”</p> <p><strong>Are you a man or a woman?</strong><br />We are living in a very different time than previous generations and gender and sexuality are frequent topics around us but while it’s fine to discuss it in the abstract, it’s not fine to pepper an individual about their identity, surgeries, treatments, or anything else gender-related, Parker says. “Asking someone about their gender or sexual orientation is rude, inconsiderate, and in some circumstances, derogatory,” she says.</p> <p><strong>How old are you?</strong><br />This is the perennial “do not ask” question and it is still on the list for good reason, Parker says. “We all know people who do not feel comfortable answering this particular question and that’s all you really need to know about it,” she says. Why they’re not interested in discussing their age isn’t any of your business.</p> <p><strong>Why are you parking in the handicapped spot?</strong><br />“Any kind of question related to any kind of disability should be nixed,” Parker says. It’s normal to be curious but many disabilities aren’t readily visible and your question may lead them to feel uncomfortable or defensive. You’re basically asking them to tell you details of their private health history. “Anything about physical appearance related to a disability or disabilities should be strictly avoided,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Are you pregnant?</strong><br />There really isn’t a safe answer to this question, and that’s the problem, says Lisa Mirza Grotts, etiquette expert and founder of the Golden Rules Gal. She may be pregnant but if she wanted you to know she would tell you but more likely she’s not. “A lot of women carry weight in their midsection and pointing this out is insensitive and hurtful,” she says.</p> <p><strong>What religion are you?</strong><br />Just like politics, religious or faith-based beliefs are very personal and oftentimes questions about religion are based on assumptions, like location, ethnicity, or appearance, Grotts says. “In conversation with another you might have an idea about someone’s religion but never press the subject unless they bring it up first or they are a good friend,” she says.</p> <div class="author"> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Charlotte Hilton Andersen. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/15-questions-polite-people-never-ask?pages=1"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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13 of the funniest obituaries that really exist

<p><strong>Tickled to death</strong><br />Gosh, people really do just stop in their tracks to be quietly amazed and entertained by the people they love, and then file that image away to later craft into funny obituaries and eulogies capable of bringing down the house. Some of these are so pithy they should be written in stone (and some of them were – to make the funniest tombstones that actually exist).</p> <p><strong>“It pains me to admit it, but apparently I have passed away.”</strong><br />“Everyone told me it would happen one day, but that’s simply not something I wanted to hear, much less experience,” Emily DeBrayda Phillips goes on to explain. Emily DeBrayda Phillips’ obituary is hilariously self-written and self-aware about her existence and end: “If you want to, you can look for me in the evening sunset or with the earliest spring daffodils or among the flitting and fluttering butterflies. You know I’ll be there in one form or another. Of course, that will probably be comfort to some while antagonising others, but you know me…it’s what I do.” She concludes with simple instructions: “If you don’t believe it, just ask me. Oh wait, I’m afraid it’s too late for questions. Sorry.”</p> <p><strong>“Her last words were ‘tell them that check is in the mail.’”</strong><br />Jean Larroux III and Hayden Hoffman decided to honour their mother, notable Waffle House patron (and library fine-avoider) Antonia “Toni” Larroux, with an obituary that reads like a standup set. “We started to write a normal [obituary],” Larroux III told HuffPost, before realising “mum would be so ashamed.” Some of its greatest hits include, “She conquered polio as a child, contributing to the nickname ‘polio legs,’ given by her ex-husband. It should not be difficult to imagine the reasons for their divorce 35+ years ago,” and, “She considered Aaron Burrell a distant grandson (not distant enough).” However, the siblings rounded out the seemingly blithe memorial with a rather moving annotation: “On a last but serious note, the woman who loved her life and taught her children to ‘laugh at the days to come’ is now safely in the arms of Jesus and dancing at the wedding feast of the Lamb. Anyone wearing black will not be admitted to the memorial. She is not dead. She is alive.” Who is cutting onions in here?</p> <p><strong>“Bill Brown finally stopped bugging everybody.”</strong><br />Rabblerouser Bill Brown’s obituary details his lifelong commitment to mischief, all the way up until he roused his last rabble in October 2013. Notable rabble: “Right to the end, he would do things like racing to beat other oldsters to empty chairs,” and meeting his wife, Ruth, while “trying to scare neighbour kids by acting like a barking dog when he threw open the front door, only to find himself barking at the Avon lady.”</p> <p><strong>“Your father is a very sick man.” “You have no idea.”</strong><br />There is no better legacy than a laugh – and Joe Heller and his daughters all know it. When Heller was born, his daughters note, “God thankfully broke the mould.” The daughters go on to profile the lifelong jester: “His mother was not immune to his pranks as he named his first dog ‘Fart’ so she would have to scream his name to come home. … The family encourages you to don the most inappropriate t-shirt that you are comfortable being seen in public with, as Joe often did.”</p> <p><strong>“Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne chose to pass into the eternal love of God.”</strong><br />A regular Jane like me or you, Ms Mary Anne Alfriend Noland passed just six months before the 2016 election, to which her obituary references an extreme aversion. She was born, raised, and now rests in Virginia, USA – a swing state.</p> <p><strong>“Jesus had a backache only the world’s greatest chiropractor could fix.”</strong><br />Well, it appears Jesus had what could only be described as an unholy kink in his back, and Dr Mark Flanagan was there to make a house call. Not only was Dr Flanagan described as the “world’s greatest chiropractor,” but he also had “more dolphin paraphernalia than a gift shop at one of those places with actual dolphins.”</p> <p><strong>“Take magazines you’ve already read to your doctor’s office. Do not tear off the mailing label, ‘Because if someone wants to contact me, that would be nice.’”</strong><br />This is less the funniest obituary you’ll ever read and more the sweetest obituary you’ll ever read. Mary “Pink” Mullaney’s obituary is chock-full of advice from both the most lovable and loving soul to grace God’s green Earth, apparently: “If a possum takes up residence in your shed, grab a barbecue brush to coax him out. If he doesn’t leave, brush him for 20 minutes and let him stay. Go to church with a chicken sandwich in your purse. Give the chicken sandwich to a homeless friend after mass. Go to a nursing home and kiss everyone. Put picky-eating children at the bottom of the laundry shoot, tell them they are hungry lions in a cage, and feed them veggies through the slats.”</p> <p><strong>“First Church of God, which she attended for 60 years in spite of praise music and A/V presentations.”</strong><br />Betty Jo Passmore passed away in 2014, and her obituary recounts her love of her family, mystery novels, and dark chocolate – and her absolute ire for praise music and A/V presentations. That Ms Passmore used her final stamp on this earthly world to drag out a lifelong beef just a little longer is hilarious and iconic.</p> <p><strong>“Who the h*** taught her to fly?”</strong><br />Lois Ann Harry’s obituary exposes her as a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Originally from Idaho Falls – or is she?—Harry’s last confirmed sighting reports her departure from the Homestead wearing dark glasses and an ushanka. “Authorities are baffled by the disappearance of the 88-year-old woman, how she gained access to the aircraft, and who the h*** taught her how to fly,” the obituary reads. Even more baffling are her children’s contradictory assertions of her life: some swear she’s a pastry chef and freelance food critic, a professional gambler and race car driver, a square dancer, a botanist who ran a chain of recreational marijuana dispensaries in Washington state, and more. Ever a woman of mystery, she “loved her life, family, and friends but would prefer that you not follow her to Bermuda.”</p> <p><strong>“She wants her gold teeth back from the dentist that yanked them – those were HERS to keep.”</strong><br />This is exactly the kind of witticism you would expect in the obituary of someone who also requested “Another One Bites the Dust” be played at her funeral. Even more charming, Karen Short was affectionally referred to as “Hot Dog Lady” by the students who frequented her hot dog stand. Give Hot Dog Lady her gold teeth back! But overall, it’s actually a very moving, very touching obituary.</p> <p><strong>“She loved [her family] more than anything else in the world…except cold Budweiser, room temperature Budweiser, mopeds, fall foliage, the OJ chase and the OJ trial.”</strong><br />Jan Lois Lynch of Massachusetts was a woman of eclectic interests and sublime taste. Her aforementioned life’s loves sound like all the ingredients of an ideal Thursday afternoon. Plus, Ms Lynch’s sons note, “Dangling her feet over a 5,000-foot cliff at the edge of the Grand Canyon so she could ‘see what it felt like to feel the fear,’ taught us all the really good things in life are beyond the ‘Do Not Enter’ signs.” This is a woman after my own heart.</p> <p><strong>“Doug died”</strong><br />Douglas Legler of Fargo, North Dakota passed away in June 2015, but not before penning his own obituary, a testament to the adage “brevity is the soul of wit.”</p> <p><strong>“‘Triple Gemini!’ she shrieked. ‘How do you cope?’”</strong><br />When longtime Rolling Stone editor Harriet Fier passed in 2018, an obituary in the Washington Post chronicled her colourful and interesting life. It even included a brief anecdote about her unique Woodstock experience: “I spent the whole next morning picking up garbage because I felt bad about leaving a big mess.” However, the most entertaining part of her obituary is in reference to her landing at Rolling Stone: “As Ms Fier told friends, she had no firm direction after college and might well have attended law school if she had not joined Rolling Stone, where getting a job in the early 1970s required little more than a certain alignment in the stars. Interview paperwork asked for an applicant’s sun, moon and rising signs. ‘I didn’t know the difference, so I wrote Gemini on all three,’ Ms Fier recounted. Her answer was apparently good enough – although she startled the woman who took her form. ‘Triple Gemini!’ she shrieked. ‘How do you cope?’”</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Caroline Fanning. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/true-stories-lifestyle/humour/13-of-the-funniest-obituaries-that-really-exist?pages=1"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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7 ways a full moon can mess with your emotions

<p><strong>Swayed by the moon</strong><br />For a long time, it has been thought that a full moon makes people crazy. And while it may not turn you into a werewolf or land you in the psych ward, there must be some truth behind the idea that we are emotionally connected to the moon, right? LA-based astrologer Dr Athena Perrakis explains, “The full moon affects our bodies and it affects the oceans. Since our bodies are made up, proportionally, of so much water, it’s easy to understand how the moon would pull us and sway us just like the ocean.” When the moon is full, Dr Perrakis claims that it is high tide for emotions, and you best be careful not to get swept away.</p> <p><strong>It magnifies emotions</strong><br />Everyone has both light and dark inside them. Positive or negative, the full moon takes your strongest qualities and enhances them. According to Dr Perrakis, the full moon has a way of bringing both sides out into the open. “In the literal sense, what the full moon does is expand and it magnifies everything.” The sign of Aries, for example, is ambitious, outgoing, and personable. The positive side of an Aries during a full moon is the greater desire to be social and to share their opinions with others; however, Aries is also very headstrong. “Aries is ruled by Mars, which is a planet of war; they don’t hesitate to engage in conflict, especially in conversation. So at the full moon, they can feel agitated.” If you find yourself in an argument with an Aries around the time of the full moon, brace yourself, because they are prone to anger and will not hold back.</p> <p><strong>It intensifies feelings</strong><br />At the same time that a full moon can magnify an astrological sign’s natural characteristics, it can also make people feel things more intensely. This can be good or bad, depending on your state of mind when the full moon rises. The passionate Scorpio, for example, is already an intense sign, so things can get even more heated for this sign under a full moon. “Scorpio is the darkest sign of the zodiac, meaning that it takes all of its water energy that it shares with Cancer and Pisces and takes it to a deeper, darker place,” Dr Perrakis remarks. Moreover, Scorpio is known as the most sexual sign of the zodiac, and that can manifest itself twofold during the full moon: the intimacy a Scorpio is able to conjure up during a full moon is unparalleled, but the downside to the full moon is that it can intensify drama, stubbornness, and controlling aspects. Pisces, while also very passionate, is almost the exact opposite of a Scorpio in this instance. Instead of projecting intense emotions, Pisces open themselves up to them. “Of all the signs of the zodiac, Pisces is the most empathic. That can be a great thing at the full moon. It can make you feel really close to people. But if you’re too empathic and you don’t shield your energy well, you could end up feeling really drained.” On the bright side, Pisces can find itself feeling more inspired than ever during a full moon.</p> <p><strong>It energises</strong><br />The full moon can also lend an increased sense of energy, which each sign of the zodiac handles differently. For instance, a Leo would react much differently to the energy of a full moon than would a Virgo. “Leo loves the full moon because Leo is all about passion and creativity and enthusiasm,” Dr Perrakis says. “Leo is constantly craving access to bigger energy, so at the full moon you’re going to see Leos being extremely outgoing, extremely enthusiastic, [and] possibly creating something new. Leos tend to be very entrepreneurial and so they take that full moon energy and put it towards new ventures.” The dark side of those qualities, however, is that a Leo can become overly enthusiastic to the point that they are overbearing and bossy. A Virgo, on the other hand, enjoys the increased energy brought on by the full moon because it allows them to increase their work productivity. “Virgos love to get organised and they love to prioritise and they find that extra energy helps them get more work done.”</p> <p><br /><strong>It illuminates</strong><br />Yes, the full moon obviously provides more literal light than other phases of the moon, but it also has an illuminating property in terms of awareness and realisation. Now, Virgos don’t like this very much because they don’t thrive in the spotlight like some of the other zodiac signs do. “Virgos don’t like to be the focus of attention or conversation,” Dr Perrakis. “I always call the full moon the astrological spotlight because it just highlights whatever it touches. It makes Virgo a little uncomfortable.” Capricorns are a different story. “The magnifying energy of the full moon can actually help [Capricorns] have a better sense of visibility about their priorities. It actually will illuminate the path to achievement and success for them.” The overwhelming brightness of the moon can put some on edge while others use it as a powerful guide.</p> <p><strong>It destabilises</strong><br />While Capricorns do enjoy the increased success they might have during the phase of the full moon, on the whole, they find this time rather troublesome. All of the magnified energy that the full moon provides shakes up the usual routine. As emotions sway and strengthen, it is a time of uncertainty, which is one thing Capricorns hate and why they don’t like full moons. “Capricorns like to maintain a state of equilibrium in their life. They are about creating solid foundations and about making progress,” Dr Perrakis says. “They don’t like energies that destabilize their environment; it makes them uncomfortable.” But while Capricorn can get frustrated by the uncertainty of the full moon, Sagittarius and Aquarius revel in it. Aquarians love the full moon because they love to take on new things. This sign actually loves change, so any destabilizing effect the moon might have won’t bother them. Sagittarius, too, tends to be more positive about it. “Sagittarius has the most fun at the full moon because Sagittarius is the sign of freedom,” she explains. “At the full moon, they feel like it’s an opportunity to break out of old patterns, to find new ways to create excitement or to break a cycle that they’ve been stuck in.”</p> <p><strong>It makes moody Cancer moodier</strong><br />Cancer has the distinction of being a sign that is ruled by the moon, so everything about the full moon hits harder for them. “Cancers are the sign that feel everything very intensely, especially as it relates to home,” Dr Perrakis says. “The light side of that at the full moon is they feel like they have more energy than ever to communicate their feelings, to love their family, to be intimate with their partner. The other side of that is that they can become overwhelmed by their own feelings.” Don’t be surprised, Cancer, if you find yourself crying a lot at the full moon because your emotions are welling up and you can’t control them, she says. Normally adventurous, sociable, and fun-loving Geminis can have a hard time, too. “Sometimes Geminis feel misunderstood. They can feel isolated and alone, which Geminis do not like,” Dr Perrakis says.</p> <p><strong>Money woes for Taurus</strong><br />“Taurus has a focus on finances,” Dr Perrakis states. “And so at the full moon you might see a heightened anxiety about money.” While the full moon could provide great potential for success with financial endeavours, it can also cause a Taurus much more concern than usual. Libra, on the other hand, is not so consumed by material things, rather, it is a sign that preoccupies itself with creating harmony between others. This in itself might be anxiety-inducing during the full moon. “Full moons tend to bring out intense energy between people and so it’s harder for [Libras] to establish harmony. If you have an Aries who’s arguing with a Taurus about money, the Libra is going to want to make them both happy, and at the full moon that’s going to be harder to do than at any other time.”</p> <p><strong>How to handle a full moon</strong><br />While there’s nothing you can do to stop a full moon, obviously, what you can control is you. If you find yourself becoming increasingly agitated or negative around a full moon, take a step back. “For everyone, the key is awareness,” Dr Perrakis concludes. “Think about the strongest qualities of your sign. What would those qualities look like if they were given a turbo charge of energy? You have to be aware of that in yourself so you can understand how people react to you.” If you know that the moon gives you an excess of emotion or energy, think about how to direct it in a way that is positive. Instead of being at the mercy of the moon, use it to your advantage.</p> <p><em>Written by Taylor Markarian</em><em>. This article first appeared on </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/7-ways-a-full-moon-can-mess-with-your-emotions"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><em>here’s our best subscription offer</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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15 facts you learned in school that are no longer true

<p><strong>Dinosaurs are not extinct</strong></p> <p>Kindergartners will laugh at you if they find out you still believe dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. They’ll point out the blue jays, pigeons, hummingbirds, and seagulls flying around your neighbourhood with their dinosaur genes. As paleontologist Steve Brusatte, author of the book The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, told Reader’s Digest, “Today’s birds evolved from dinosaurs, which makes them every bit as much of a dinosaur as T. rex or Triceratops.”</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Women suspected of being witches were not burned at the stake</strong></p> <p>First, no one was burned during the Massachusetts Bay Colony witch scare in 1692. In Europe, convicted witches were sometimes burned, but in England, they were hanged, and that’s the tradition the colonists followed after a group of young girls started having “fits” that the doctor blamed on supernatural afflictions. In all, almost 200 people were accused of being witches; 19 were convicted and hanged. One person was crushed to death under stones. Another myth about the Salem witch trials is that all the accused were women. Five of those executed (including the elderly farmer who was pressed to death) were men; plus, the accusations affected people from all circumstances and social positions.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>There are more than three states of matter</strong></p> <p>You may have learned about three – liquid, solid, and gas. Those are the most common states of matter that we find here on Earth, but beyond our atmosphere, there’s a fourth state – plasma – and it might be the most common in the universe. When you add enough energy to an atom, its electrons can get away from its nucleus and react with a different nearby nucleus, creating plasma, which consists of highly charged particles with very high kinetic energy. Gases like neon are goaded into a plasma state by electricity to make glowing signs; stars are basically huge balls of plasma. But that’s not the only extra state of matter: In 1995, scientists created one called the Bose-Einstein condensate, where matter is super-cooled to almost absolute zero, causing molecular motion to practically stop. Nobody knows whether Bose-Einstein condensates exist in nature, but they can be made in a lab. Researchers are also investigating other states of matter, so the number could keep growing, according to Gizmodo.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>We either have eight or 13 planets in our solar system</strong></p> <p>My sixth grade science teacher taught us “Mary’s violet eyes make John stay up nights plenty” (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) – but then, in the 1990s, scientists found a doughnut-shaped region of the solar system out beyond Neptune that’s filled with asteroids, comets, and icy objects. They called it the Kuiper Belt and redefined poor little Pluto as a Kuiper Belt Object instead of a planet. While many ex-schoolchildren felt betrayed at the time, Pluto wasn’t the first planet to get demoted – it had already happened to a body called Ceres that orbits between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres was called a planet too when it was first identified in 1801, but over time astronomers realised it was part of an asteroid belt and revoked its planethood. But the story doesn’t end there – both Ceres and Pluto got bumped back up into a new category in 2006 when the International Astronomical Union declared them dwarf planets.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>We don’t really know all the planets in our solar system</strong></p> <p>According to NASA, there are three other officially recognised dwarf planets circling our sun (all in the Kuiper Belt, with Pluto) and possibly hundreds more that haven’t been identified yet. And then there’s the mystery of Planet X – so far, it’s only hypothetical, but researchers at Caltech think it could be the size of Neptune and follow an orbit that’s circling the sun way out beyond Pluto. The final tally as of now, according to phys.org, is eight planets and five dwarf planets.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Neanderthals may have been as smart as humans</strong></p> <p>New research suggests that Neanderthals were not hulking cavemen who died out because they weren’t as sophisticated as the humans with whom they coexisted and interbred. In fact, they produced cave paintings in Spain about 20,000 years before modern humans arrived in Europe, according to an article in Nature. They also used tools and made jewellery. So why did they go extinct? A 2017 study published in the journal Nature Communications suggests that they might simply have been outnumbered by the waves of Homo sapiens that filtered into their territory from Africa, beginning around 50,000 years ago; two species can’t occupy the same ecological niche without one changing or dying out.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>There isn’t such a thing as being left-brained or right-brained</strong></p> <p>I’ve always thought I’m left-brained, because of my analytical and logical nature, but it turns out that no studies have been able to show different areas of brain activity among people with different personality traits. Different parts of the brain definitely have different purposes – we know that from studying people who’ve suffered brain injuries or strokes, according to the Harvard Health Blog. Researchers still think control of language is located on the right side of the brain in most people, for example, and the back of the brain processes visual information.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Napoleon Bonaparte wasn’t that short</strong></p> <p>He was actually about average height for his time – approximately 5 feet 7 inches – but cartoons published in England depicted him as short, according to a 2016 column by Tristin Hopper in the Canadian newspaper the National Post. When he died, the people present said he measured 5 feet 2 inches, but that was because of a difference between French and British units of measurement. However, he had already been depicted for years as a small, petty, childish person in British cartoons.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>You have more than five senses</strong></p> <p>The big five—touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing—are our most basic senses, but we’re taking in information through a wealth of other mechanisms. Proprioception tells us where our bodies are in space, allowing us to stay balanced, according to Live Science. Kinesthetic receptors detect stretching in muscles and tendons, which helps us keep track of our various body parts. We also have receptors to keep track of how much oxygen is flowing through our arteries.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>A swallowed piece of gum doesn’t take seven years to digest</strong></p> <p>Nobody knows where this myth came from, but it’s been passed along through generations of school-aged kids gulping down their gum to avoid getting busted chewing it in class. Paediatric gastroenterologist named David Milov told Scientific American that it’s definitely not true—although he does state that he occasionally comes across a hunk of chewed gum in the digestive tract during colonoscopies or endoscopies. But “usually it’s not something that’s any more than a week old.” Most gum passes right through the digestive system, so this stomach-churning myth is one of the lies you were told as a kid that you still believe.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Hair and fingernails don’t continue to grow after a person dies</strong></p> <p>Once oxygenated blood stops circulating at death, the cells that produce new hair and fingernail tissue can no longer function. The idea that hair and nails keep growing is a misinterpretation of what actually happens to a corpse in the hours and days after a person dies, according to the BBC. The skin dries out and retracts at the fingertips, making nails look longer. Men’s facial skin also gets dehydrated, which can extend stubble and make it appear to have grown longer.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>We use way more than 10 per cent of our brains</strong></p> <p>Although it sometimes seems like we’re not running on all cylinders, brain scans show activity throughout the organ, even when we’re resting. Nobody’s sure where the idea came from that 90 per cent of our brain tissue is going unused, but any neurologist will tell you that’s definitely wrong.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>ROYGBIV is not the lineup of colours in the rainbow</strong></p> <p>You probably remember learning the “ROYGBIV” initialism to represent the colours of the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. Today, though, everyone from teachers to colour specialists have begun to forego indigo. The rainbow LGBT Pride flag also only has six colours – and many people are left to wonder why indigo, which seems to be just an arbitrary combination of two of the other colours (blue and purple/violet), found its way into the rainbow. Well, for that we can thank Sir Isaac Newton, a superstitious sort who believed that the number seven had a cosmic significance, per occult beliefs of the time. So he believed that seven colours, no more, no less, had to come together to make white, and chose indigo to join the other colours, potentially because of the popularity of indigo dye at the time.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The “I before E, except after C” rule does not always apply</strong></p> <p>In fact, there are so many instances where it doesn’t apply that even using the rule might seem silly when you stop to consider it. The rule, recited to elementary schoolers, works in words like friend, believe, and receive…but doesn’t in many, many other cases. In fact, estimates approximate that the rule is wrong 75 per cent of the time – words like weird, glacier, and science break the rule outright. Even the “…except when it says ‘A,’ as in ‘neighbour’ and ‘weigh’” addendum doesn’t help much.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The Great Wall of China is not the only manmade structure visible from space</strong></p> <p>This is untrue on multiple counts. For one thing, in 2003, Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei went up into space and subsequently claimed that he couldn’t see the Great Wall. Other space explorers have claimed that you can see it, but only under certain conditions, such as when there’s snow on it so that it stands out more from the surrounding land. Not to mention, you can see plenty of other manmade structures from space, including the pyramids and even some roadways and bridges.</p> <p> </p> <p><em>Written by </em><em>Krista Carothers</em><em>. This article first appeared on </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/15-facts-you-learned-in-school-that-are-no-longer-true?pages=1"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><em>here’s our best subscription offer</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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7 morning brain exercises to clear your mind

<p>It can be mentally exhausting to try and resume your “normal” schedule during coronavirus. You may be working remotely, helping your children adapt to hybrid learning, keeping your family safe from coronavirus, or all of the above. Add trying to practice self-care in this mix of endless responsibilities. All this stress can zap your concentration, make you irritable or depressed, and potentially damage your professional and personal relationships.</p> <p>However, brain exercises, especially before work, can help get you through your day. “Working out areas of the brain before a full day can set us on a path of increased agility and flexibility in our thinking and enable us to communicate more calmly and effectively with our colleagues,” says Dr Jennifer Wolkin, a clinical neuropsychologist. Fold a mix of these brain exercises into your morning routine and you’ll find yourself working smarter and more efficiently from the get-go.</p> <p><strong>Relax with a good read</strong></p> <p>In today’s fast-paced day and age, it’s hard to remember to unplug and take time for the simple things that relax and stimulate the mind. Reading is certainly one of those—be it a chapter book, newspaper, or online article. “Some of the best activities to perform are ones that enrich the brain with new information, like reading,” says neurosurgeon Dr Jason Liauw. “Taking in a good book or the morning paper is not only a calming way to start your day, but it also can help you reorient your priorities, taking you momentarily out of the daily grind from yesterday before today’s begins.” Most importantly, reading can also cause a frameshift in your mind, so that when you’re in the middle of your day, you may be able to look at your routine and tasks through a different lens.</p> <p><strong>Do exercise</strong></p> <p>You probably know how important of a role exercise plays in your health and mood, but there are some additional brain-boosting reasons to sneak in a workout before work. “Exercise actually alters brain chemistry and has even been likened to the effect of taking antidepressants,” says Wolkin. “It signals the release of several key neurotransmitters, many of which play a vital role in keeping our brain sharp as we age.” Exercise also helps pump blood flow and oxygen to the brain, allowing your grey matter to work to its highest capacity, which translates to better and sharper decision making, judgment, and memory.</p> <p><strong>Practise meditation</strong></p> <p>“Studies have found that the amygdala, known as the brain’s ‘fight or flight’ centre and the seat of our fearful and anxious emotions, decreases in brain cell volume after mindfulness practice,” says Wolkin. “The impact mindfulness exerts on our brain is born from routine—a slow, steady and consistent reckoning of our realities, and the ability to take a step back, become more aware, more accepting, less judgemental and less reactive.” Meditators also show a greater ability to recall information faster, leading researchers to believe that the ability to quickly “screen out” mental noise, allows the working memory to search and find information needed more quickly and efficiently, says brain expert Daniel Amen, double-board-certified psychiatrist, physician, and author of Time for Bed Sleepyhead.</p> <p><strong>Play classical music in the background</strong></p> <p>The gentle, peaceful sounds of classical music from the likes of Mozart and Beethoven have long been touted as beneficial to the brain and productivity in general. “Listening to classical music while getting dressed in the morning or exercising is a one-two punch of neural circuitry that’s been shown by researchers to significantly improve verbal fluency, cognitive functioning, and overall focus and concentration,” says Dian Griesel, entrepreneur and business and health spokesperson.</p> <p><strong>Play a fast logic-based game</strong></p> <p>Lifelong learners are definitely onto something, as continued education—not just higher education—promotes brain health and creates new neural connections. “Even just taking a stab at a crossword puzzle or taking online quizzes that challenge your mind, can help build cognitive reserves,” says Wolkin. The best tasks for the brain are not only challenging, but are varied and novel—think Sudoku, or memory-recall games or apps.</p> <p>“It’s important to keep brain-boosting activities constantly changing with increasing complexity as well as cross-training brain activities that use different parts of the brain,” says Dr Kristin M. Mascotti. “Consistency is key, and many of these techniques can be done in just a few minutes every day with different skills tested on different days.”</p> <p><strong>Make a gratitude list</strong></p> <p>When you bring your attention to the things in your life for which you’re grateful, your brain actually works better, especially with a gratitude list. “Brain imaging studies show that negative thought patterns change the brain in a negative way, but that conversely, practicing gratitude literally helps you have a brain to be grateful for,” says Dr Amen. Every day, write down five things you’re grateful for—whether that’s your dog, your job, or that the football season has started back up again.</p> <p><strong>Get a good night’s rest</strong></p> <p>It sounds obvious, but between 33-45 per cent of adults report they get insufficient sleep at least one night per month, according to the Sleep Health Foundation. “Sleep is proven in countless studies to help our ability to recall—which directly affects our capability to control both our behaviour and learning,” says Griesel. “Sleep deficits actually result in performance comparable to intoxication.” The best way to prime your body for a great work performance the following day is to stick to a sleep schedule. Make sure that it doesn’t change much on the weekends. Also, remember to practice a relaxing bedtime ritual, like reading a book. Make sure your room is dark and cool at an ideal temperature of around 19 degrees celsius.</p> <p><em>Written by Jenn Sinrich. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/healthsmart/7-morning-brain-exercises-to-clear-your-mind">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p>

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11 things you didn’t know could slow down ageing

<p>You may not be able to turn back time, but you can alter the effects of time on your body. It really is possible to slow physical and mental ageing. Research has shown that people the same chronological age may have a different ‘biological age.’</p> <p>In one study published in the journal PNAS, nearly 1000 participants of the same age were examined for cognitive abilities, cardiovascular health and other markers of fitness at three different ages: 26, 32 and 38. The researchers plotted the slope of each individual’s biomarkers and discovered that they didn’t all decline at the same rate.  Some, in fact, had no slope at all, meaning they weren’t ageing. At 38 years old, these volunteers had biological ages that ranged anywhere from younger than 30 to nearly 60 years old.</p> <p>What this means for you is that factors other than genetics can influence the rate you’ll age, the study authors said in a Duke University press release. Many of these are within your control, so read on to find out how to slow your pace of ageing.</p> <p><strong>Whole foods</strong></p> <p>Experts agree the best diet for preventing age-related damage and disease starts with whole, natural foods. “A healthy diet includes fewer processed foods without added sugars, fats and salt,” says Dr Benjamin Epstein. Avoiding unhealthy sugar and fats can help prevent inflammation, diabetes and heart disease.</p> <p>Epstein recommends “whole grains, such as whole wheat and brown rice; lean meats and fish, poultry and eggs; beans, peas and legumes; and five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.” Studies reveal that eating whole foods boosts your body’s supply of nutrients that keep cells healthy, reduce inflammation, and reduce the risk of major chronic diseases associated with age.</p> <p>Other research has found that proper nutrients also help keep the brain functioning better longer. “Like so many aspects of our body, what we eat also affects the mind,” says Dr Jyotir Jani.  “Eating food that is natural, home-cooked with love, and limiting red meat help keep the brain sharper.”</p> <p><strong>Getting enough protein</strong></p> <p>Eating healthily shouldn’t mean missing out on protein. Studies show protein is especially important in maintaining muscle mass as we age. “People over the age of 40 may lose up to eight per cent of their muscle mass per decade, and the rate of decline may double after the age of 70,” says dietitian, Abby Sauer.</p> <p>She recommends adults snack on protein sources like nuts, Greek yoghurt, or string cheese. Also, “add protein-toppers to meals, such as hummus to a turkey sandwich, diced chicken to pasta, or beans to salad, and aim to eat 25 to 30 grams of protein at every meal,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Being outdoors</strong></p> <p>Vitamin D, the ‘sunshine vitamin,’ helps keep your bones strong, and it may also help protect against age-related conditions like heart disease and cancer. According to a study of more than 2000 women, those with higher vitamin D levels also had longer telomeres, the caps on the ends of DNA cells that determine a cell’s lifespan. Another study found that older adults with low vitamin D levels had a harder time with everyday tasks like walking upstairs, dressing and even cutting their toenails.</p> <p>“Getting 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure a day should be adequate for vitamin D production,” says Jani. “Of course, that is not through sunbathing but by being outside with normal clothing.” You can also get vitamin D in foods, such as fatty fish like salmon, egg yolks and fortified foods including cereals.</p> <p><strong>Staying hydrated</strong></p> <p>As you get older, your kidneys work less efficiently, you may not be as sensitive to thirst signals, and you may take medications that lower your body’s fluids. Altogether, this helps explain why the elderly are more prone to dehydration. In a vicious cycle, dehydration derails the normal function of vital systems in your body and even cause dementia-like confusion.</p> <p>Because of these risks, “it’s especially important to stay hydrated as we age,” Sauer says. “Water is critical as it makes up about 60 per cent of adults’ body weight, and our bodies need water for important functions such as regulating body temperature, maintaining healthy skin and joints, digesting food and removing waste.” To keep these systems working better longer, drink even if you aren’t thirsty, and consume foods with high water content, such as fruits, vegetables and soups, she says.</p> <p><strong>Maintaining your teeth</strong></p> <p>It’s starting to look like there’s a connection between a healthy mouth and healthy ageing. Research has shown poor dental health is linked to age-related problems such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes, possibly because bacteria from oral infections may get into the blood and increase inflammation in other parts of the body. In addition, recent studies indicate that gum disease may be linked to a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Although these connections are still under study, it’s worth keeping your chompers healthy and possibly preventing these age-related diseases with good dental habits.</p> <p><strong>Keeping your gut healthy</strong></p> <p>Research has found the collection of ‘good’ bacteria in your intestines, called the gut microbiome, may have implications for how your body ages. It may even protect you from some age-related diseases such as dementia. In one study published in the journal Cell, the presence of certain gut bacteria actually slowed the rate of ageing in worms, which may lead to anti-ageing bacterial treatments for humans in the future.</p> <p>“About 70 per cent of your immune system resides in your gut, so maintaining gut health as you age is important to your overall health,” Sauer says. “Among other things, your gut provides protection from infections, regulates metabolism, supports your immune system and promotes a healthy gastrointestinal function.” To encourage healthy gut flora as you age, Sauer recommends choosing prebiotic and probiotic foods such as fibre-rich fruits, vegetables, kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. Exercise, fibre and fluids can also help keep things moving through your digestive tract.</p> <p><strong>Healthy digestion</strong></p> <p>Because older people, especially those who are overweight, are prone to acid reflux, you may think of your stomach acid as the enemy. But you need a healthy supply of digestive acids to absorb vital vitamin B12 – it helps keep your brain sharp. Atrophic gastritis, which affects 10 to 30 per cent of older adults, reduces stomach acid, and therefore absorption of B12. “Deficiency in vitamin B12 can contribute to decreased cognitive function,” Epstein says. In addition, “acid-reducing medicines, and medicines like Metformin for diabetes, can decrease the absorption of nutrients such as vitamin B12.”</p> <p>To prevent this, supplements and fortified foods may be necessary. You can also get B12 from fish, eggs, poultry, and dairy products. “Again, this shows the importance of a diet high in nutrients without being high in kilojoules, not only as we age, but throughout our lives,” Epstein says.</p> <p><strong>Reducing stress</strong></p> <p>Chronic stress causes a lot of problems, from wrecking your sleep to increasing your risk of heart disease. In a landmark study published in PNAS, stress was shown to shorten telomeres, the DNA protective caps that help keep cells thriving. People with the highest stress levels had shorter telomeres. It was as if these people were a decade older than people in the lowest stress category, say the study authors.</p> <p>But the good news is that you can lengthen your telomeres by reducing your stress. In one study, women who practiced meditation had longer telomeres than those who didn’t. Meditation may help focus the mind, which is also associated with better cognitive functioning. “Increased stress makes us distracted, frustrated and unable to focus,” Jani says. “Regular meditation that focuses on breathing or spirituality for 15 minutes per day can have profound effects on improving the concentration ability of the mind.”</p> <p><strong>Sleep</strong></p> <p>It’s called beauty sleep for a reason. When you’re snoozing, your body gets busy repairing cell damage. If you cut your sleep short, you can accelerate the visible and internal signs of ageing. As if bags and wrinkles under the eyes weren’t enough evidence of this, studies have confirmed that poor sleep ages skin faster. In addition, poor or inadequate sleep is linked to age-related diseases like heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p> <p>Sleep deprivation can also undermine your brain as you age – and many older adults suffer from insomnia. To get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night, create a calming bedtime routine, reduce lighting and screen time before bed, and don’t eat or drink caffeine close to bedtime. Also, talk to your doctor if you snore a lot, or think your insomnia may be due to medications or other health conditions.</p> <p><strong>An active brain</strong></p> <p>Numerous studies indicate that you may be able to lower the risk – or delay the onset – of age-related mental conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s if you have ‘cognitive reserve’ – resilient brain networks that keep working even if other parts of the brain suffer damage. You can build up this reserve by staying actively engaged in learning new skills and continuing to socialise throughout your life.</p> <p>“The best ways to keep your brain active and sharp is practising activity that focuses the mind,” Jani says. “In addition, constantly learning new things or expanding one’s knowledge in the profession that they may be in also helps tremendously.” For example, research shows learning complex skills like digital photography or quilting enhances memory and cognitive function in older adults.</p> <p><strong>Having a positive attitude</strong></p> <p>The old saying is true: you’re only as old as you feel. Research backs up the benefits of staying young at heart. Having a positive attitude about ageing, maintaining a purpose and staying socially engaged may help slow the physical and mental ageing process. One study revealed that people with a positive attitude lived 7.5 years longer than pessimists, regardless of health. Another found that negative thinking led to steeper physical and cognitive declines.</p> <p>Yet another study showed that those glass-half-full types were less likely to develop dementia, even if they had a high risk for the disease. “Maintaining a positive attitude and remaining connected socially not only helps us prevent depression, but also helps us better cope with health conditions, and even live longer,” Epstein says.</p> <p><em>Written by </em><em>Tina Donvito</em><em>. This article first appeared on </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/healthsmart/11-things-you-didnt-know-could-slow-down-ageing?pages=1"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><em>here’s our best subscription offer</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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27 teeny pick-me-ups for when you’re having the worst day ever

<p><strong>Take a walk outdoors</strong></p> <p>Beat a bummer day with a quick stroll outdoors. It’s no surprise that fresh air and nature can lift your spirits and reduce anxiety but it may surprise you to know just how little walking it takes to have a positive effect. Just five minutes walking through a park, trail or other green space is enough to spark a cascade of feel good brain chemicals, according to a study published in Environmental Science &amp; Technology.</p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>Nibble some dark chocolate</strong></p> <p>There’s a good reason so many of use a little chocolate therapy to deal with a bad day – it works! Eating just 42g of dark chocolate lowered stress hormones in people, according to research published in the Journal of Proteome Research. And the news gets better: People who regularly ate dark chocolate reported lower feelings of depression over time.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Soak your feet in a warm tub</strong></p> <p>Tired tootsies are just one small side effect of a tough day but when your feet hurt, everything else does too. A quick foot soak in a warm tub of water can do wonders for both your sore feet and your sore spirit. Or if you have time, take a long, luxurious full-body soak. Add some epsom salts to help relax tight muscles and feel your worries wash away.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Watch a funny cat video on the internet</strong></p> <p>Let’s be honest: Cat videos are pretty much why the internet was invented. And it’s a good thing! Because of their innocence, enthusiasm and total inability to understand modern life, animals are funny in a way that people just can’t be. Plus they don’t care if you laugh at them.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Text a friend or loved one</strong></p> <p>Feeling like you haven’t a friend in the world is a major part of most terrible days. It’s easy to forget just how many people love and care about you. But thankfully it’s also just as easy to get a quick reminder. Send a quick text to your bestie, sister or mum and tell them you need a little love. We’re guessing you’ll be showered with heart emojis in no time!</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Write down three things you’re grateful for</strong></p> <p>When you’re in the midst of a horrible day, nothing is farther from your mind than counting your blessings but that may be the best thing to help you feel better, according to a study done by the University of California. Writing down a list of things you’re thankful for refocuses your mind on the positive and provides an instant lift to your mood. In fact, this simple trick works so well that the researchers reported that it even helps people with depression who don’t respond to other treatments.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Switch your hair part</strong></p> <p>Flipping or combing your hair to the other side of your head may seem like a ridiculously small change but hair experts say it’s one of the quickest ways to give yourself a new look. The new part will change the way your hair frames your face and because it goes against your hair’s natural tendencies, it can give you more volume. At the very least, it’ll make you laugh!</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Send a kind anonymous note to someone</strong></p> <p>Handwritten notes aren’t utilised enough in our digital society but there’s something very personal and touching about taking the time to write out a thank-you note or compliment. It doesn’t have to be much (one Post-It note is plenty) but jot a few thoughts down, stick it to a co-worker’s desk, a friend’s car or a family member’s lunch and watch the happy roll in. Their joy will make your worries disappear, or at least help put them in perspective.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Count the stars</strong></p> <p>Sometimes it takes staring at the infinite expanse of universe to help us realise that our problems, no matter how significant they feel in the moment, are small in the grand scheme of things. Counting the stars in the night sky will help you put things in perspective, get some fresh air, and have some quiet time alone with your thoughts.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Snap a selfie</strong></p> <p>Selfies aren’t just for supermodels and teenagers with too much time on their hands. In fact, taking a quick, silly pic of yourself and sharing it with friends and family is an instant bad-mood buster, according to a study published in the Psychology of Well-Being. The researchers noted that strategic selfie sending helped ameliorate stress and anxiety from common problems like financial difficulties, feelings of loneliness and isolation and work issues. And don’t worry too much about how you look, the point isn’t to take a news-worthy headshot but just to connect with loved ones.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Have a little caffeine</strong></p> <p>Caffeine is the world’s most commonly used mood-altering drug and with good reason, according to a study done by the University of Florida. In as little as 10 minutes it provides a slight sense of euphoria along with an invigorating burst of energy. Of course, as anyone who’s ever had a few too many cappuccinos knows, the detail is in the dosing. Too much caffeine will have the opposite effect, making you anxious, jittery and unable to sleep. Instead aim for 30 to 90 mg, the amount in one cup of coffee, and make it an occasional indulgence.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Call your grandma</strong></p> <p>When it comes to life, our grandparents have done and seen it all so they’re a rich source of support and wisdom. Really, is there any trouble a loving grandma can’t fix? Plus you know it will make them just as happy as it does you. Don’t have a surviving or loving elder to call? Remedy that stat by adopting an elderly neighbour or other relative. Maintaining close social connections are one of the best things you can do to keep a positive attitude even in the face of a no-good, very bad day.</p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>Buy yourself a small gift</strong></p> <p>Getting a little something special can put a smile on anyone’s face. What? It’s not your birthday, you say? No matter! Make your own holiday if you like but you don’t need an excuse to treat yourself. Just make sure it’s something that won’t break the bank (causing even more bad days in the future) and is something you really like.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Better yet, buy someone else a gift</strong></p> <p>Giving yourself a little something is fun but if you want to maximise the feel-good benefits, use that money to give something to someone. People who were given cash and spent it on a gift for a loved one or a stranger felt happier and their happiness lasted twice as long as people who spent the money on themselves, according to research done by Harvard. And it doesn’t have to be much – just five dollars spent on someone else gave a week’s worth of good vibes.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Avoid the internet</strong></p> <p>While the internet has plenty of fun, interesting and educational things, it’s also home to people’s worst thoughts – thoughts that many are all too willing to share. People who use the internet to the point where it interferes with their real lives have a much higher risk of being depressed and even of committing suicide, according to a study published in Psychopathology. And it makes sense on a smaller scale as well. Whether you’re reading the latest government conspiracy, cringing at vitriolic diatribes on celebrities, or participating in flame wars in the comment sections of articles, it’s guaranteed to bring you down, especially when you’re already feeling fragile from a hard day.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Buy yourself flowers</strong></p> <p>There’s no need to wait for a special occasion or for someone to send you a bouquet as a gift. Flowers are the perfect antidote to a bad day with their bright colours and fresh scent. In fact, simply smelling a flower alters your gene activity and blood chemistry, soothing stress and giving you an immediate mood boost, according to a study done by The American Chemical Society. Plus, this way you’re guaranteed to get your favourite blooms!</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Eat a cookie</strong></p> <p>Comfort food is called such because it’s genuinely comforting, according to a study published in Psychological Science. They found that eating a warm chocolate chip cookie or a plate of gooey lasagne induces a rush of feel-good chemicals to the brain, specifically fighting feelings of loneliness and depression. For your health’s sake this probably shouldn’t be your primary method of dealing with a bad day but every once in awhile it’s totally fine to eat your favourite foods and relish the comforting memories and feelings that come with them.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Have a good cry</strong></p> <p>Too many of us resist crying as we fear looking weak or silly but there’s a healing power in tears, say scientists at Tel Aviv University. A good cry can release pent-up emotion so you can let it go and move on. In addition to the emotional benefits, they note that crying can also strengthen social ties, another way to combat a bad day.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Listen to a comedy sketch</strong></p> <p>Laughter really is the best medicine, especially for a day that’s been filled with bitter pills. And thanks to the internet, satellite radio and podcasts, a funny comedy sketch is never more than a few clicks away. Letting yourself laugh won’t fix all your problems but it may help you see the humour in them and feel a little less alone in your human predicaments.</p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>Play with a pet</strong></p> <p>Taking Fido for a walk or giving Fluffy a snuggle has been shown in multiple studies to help reduce depression and loneliness while improving mood in everyone from university students to the elderly to people with chronic pain. And it’s easy to see why a pet can be such a powerful positive force – their combination of unconditional love, an (adorable) listening ear, and soft fur to pet is just what you need to feel better fast. Don’t have a pet? Consider volunteering at a local animal shelter or visiting a neighbour’s pet (with their permission, of course).</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Give a kid a high-five</strong></p> <p>Kids get a lot of flack for crying in public places but while they do cry a lot, they also laugh a lot – and it doesn’t take much to get a smile. So if you see a little one having a bad day, offering a silly smile or a high five is a great way to make both your days better.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Do a little dance…</strong></p> <p>Whether you love to swing your hips in a salsa, practise your kicks in a line dance, tap your toes in a tap dance, or just go free form in your own living room, moving to music is a quick and easy way to boost your mood. And the effect lasts even after the tunes are turned off. According to a study done by IOS Press, dancing of any kind increases brain volume which has all kinds of physical and emotional benefits in the long run.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Make a little love…</strong></p> <p>Sex: Curing bad days since the dawn of humanity! You don’t need a scientist to tell you that a session of good lovemaking can make you feel better but what may surprise you is what kind of sex works best. According to a study done by Penn State, the sex that makes people feel the best afterward lasts an average of 3 to 13 minutes – good news for people who are exhausted and feeling down from a tough day.</p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>Get down tonight!</strong></p> <p>There is some real truth to the old adage “everything looks better in the morning.” In a study of identical twins, researchers from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that over half of people who got five hours or less of sleep a night reported being depressed. But this is not a case of more is always better as they also found a similar rate of depression in people sleeping 10 or more hours a night. The sweet spot for happiness is to get 7 to 8.5 hours of shut-eye a night. So if you’re having a rotten day, one of the best things you can do to make sure tomorrow is better is to hit the sack early.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Read a novel<br /></strong>Diving into another world via a novel is escapism at its finest! Reading a good book actually helps us take on the thoughts and feelings of the characters, providing temporary relief from our own woes, according to a study published in Psychological Science.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Try a headstand</strong></p> <p>Yogis know that doing an inversion – any posture where your head is lower than your heart – can have major health benefits, including mood elevation. Sometimes it takes literally changing your perspective to help you see your problems in a new light. But no worries if you’re not Cirque du Soleil. If trying a headstand against a wall is too much, try a gentler pose like laying on your back, planting your feet near your bottom and raising your hips.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Stay off social media</strong></p> <p>The more active you are on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, the more likely you are to be depressed, according to a study published in Depression and Anxiety. Researchers think that it’s because people tend to only post the best versions of themselves, leading others to compare their own lives negatively. So save yourself the pain of comparing your waistline, hairline, job or home to people you stopped talking to after high school by checking out of social media and checking in with friends IRL.</p> <p> </p> <p><em>Written by </em><em>Charlotte Hilton Andersen</em><em>. This article first appeared on </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/27-teeny-pick-me-ups-for-when-youre-having-the-worst-day-ever?pages=1"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><em>here’s our best subscription offer</em></a><em>.</em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/27-teeny-pick-me-ups-for-when-youre-having-the-worst-day-ever?pages=1"></a></p>

Mind

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Famous hoaxes that (almost) fooled everyone

<p>In today’s technology-saturated Internet age, fake news and misinformation are everywhere. But these are by no means new concepts! People have always had the tendency to dupe and be duped, as these major hoaxes, which occurred as recently as 2017 and as long ago as 1726, prove. Some were meticulously planned in hopes of striking it rich. A few were accidental consequences of otherwise harmless actions. Many were perpetrated to be funny or malicious, and still others were done to prove a point. No matter the reason, here are 11 hoaxes that hoodwinked the world. For some more recent scams, here are some of the most outlandish things the Internet told us that just weren’t true.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>War of the Worlds</strong></p> <p>Orson Welles didn’t mean to mastermind one of the greatest hoaxes in history. Mass hysteria was simply a by-product of a high-quality radio play in an era where world war loomed, the space race was in its early stages, and most people got news and entertainment from their receivers. According to History.com, the October 30, 1938, broadcast began at 8pm with an introduction presenting the Mercury Theatre’s update of H.G. Wells’ science fiction novel The War of the Worlds, but unfortunately, many people were listening to a popular ventriloquist on another station until 8.12 and therefore missed the disclaimer. Welles take on Wells’ Martian invasion tale started with a weather report and a concert live from the Hotel Park Plaza before news alerts about explosions on Mars, a meteor crashing into a New Jersey farm, and eventually aliens with tentacles, heat rays, and poisonous gas broke in. Terrified announcers were then saying cylinders had landed in Chicago and St. Louis, 7000 National Guardsmen had been wiped out, and that people were fleeing.</p> <p> </p> <p>Only the panic part turned out to be real as potentially a million listeners thought Earth was under attack. People crowded the highways, armed themselves, begged police for gas masks, requested their power be shut off so the aliens wouldn’t see them, and were treated for shock at hospitals. A woman ran into an Indianapolis church during evening service to proclaim, “New York has been destroyed. It’s the end of the world. Prepare to die!” When CBS got wind of hysteria IRL, Welles went on the air as himself to remind listeners that it was fiction. The FCC investigation found no wrongdoing but networks agreed to be more cautious regarding programming going forward. The attention scored Welles a Hollywood contract, which enabled him to write, direct, and star in his 1941 masterpiece Citizen Kane.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The Shed at Dulwich</strong></p> <p>For just six short months in 2017, The Shed at Dulwich, where patrons ordered entrees by mood, became the highest-ranked restaurant in London on TripAdvisor and the hardest reservation in town to get. Calls and emails poured in begging to be squeezed in for birthday dinners, romantic dates, and media coverage. All were ignored or told to call back as they were booked solid for more than half a year. Except that was a lie. The reason they couldn’t score a table was actually because the business was bogus. It was an experiment in algorithm manipulation and buzz creation by freelance writer Oobah Butler, who had been paid in the past by owners to review their restaurants positively without ever stepping foot inside on the site. To turn the South London garden shed he resides in into a fake fine dining experience, he bought a burner phone and a domain, created a website with soft-focus pictures of delicious-looking dishes made with ingredients you wouldn’t want to eat (paint, bleach tablets, shaving cream, the heel of his foot), and drummed up interest by providing minimum details, making it an appointment-only establishment, lying about it being full, and soliciting friends to write glowing reviews. According to The Washington Post, people contacted him looking for work and companies sent him free samples of their food products. He opened The Shed for one night and served canned soup—and some diners still asked to come again. Butler outed himself in an article and video for Vice a month after hitting the top spot and TripAdvisor removed the listing.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The Cardiff Giant</strong></p> <p>This gentle giant remains one of 19th-century America’s most legendary hoaxes. Gideon Emmons and Henry Nichols unearthed a ten-foot petrified “man” on October 16, 1869, while digging a well on the New York farm owned by William Newell. Word spread about the discovery and Newell put up a tent and started charging a quarter (and then 50¢ as business boomed) to take a peek at the ground Goliath. Hundreds of curious onlookers and amateur archaeologists made the pilgrimage, many believing it was an ancestor of the Onondaga people and some claiming it was proof of the giants mentioned in The Bible—even after most professionals like Yale palaeontologist Othniel C. Marsh said it a fake. The “mummy” was eventually sold to a group of businessmen who sent him on tour. Greatest showman PT Barnum offered to buy it for $50,000, and when they declined to sell, he made a plaster knockoff and arranged for it to be shown in a New York City museum. By December, Binghamton cigar salesman George Hull admitted this was a stone-cold swindle. He’d commissioned a German stone cutter in Chicago to carve it out of a block of gypsum he’d bought in Iowa before he and his cousin Newell buried the 1356-kilogram statue. While it was a get-rich-quick scheme, Hull, an atheist, was also trying to prove a point about what he considered silly religious stories and how science could disprove most of them. Even after the hoax was revealed, the Cardiff Giant still made appearances and money. According to Archaeology.org, he showed up at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo and was sold in 1947 to the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, where he’s on display today.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Michael Jordan is dead</strong></p> <p>In February 2015, an article published on the Cronica MX website said that former Chicago Bull Michael Jordan had gone to that big basketball court in the sky after suffering a heart attack while he slept. It even quoted his wife, Yvette Prieto. They also posted a video clip designed to resemble a breaking news segment on YouTube with footage of a tearful ESPN reporter Rich Eisen saying goodbye. According to Snopes.com, the footage was real but recycled from a NFL Game Day episode from a month earlier when Eisen had learned that his long time co-worker and friend Stuart Scott had lost his battle with cancer. It recirculates every once in a while, always trying to lure fans to click through to a spammy site or to provide their personal information. The same story was used again in 2017, this time by a site called Viral Mugshot, according to Inquisitr.com. Despite it containing the same spelling and grammar errors, it went viral on social media until debunking sites and news agencies reported it as fake news. And Jordan isn’t the only celebrity targeted by pranksters and hackers. If you believed everything you read on stars’ sites, fake Twitter accounts, or items reported by newspapers erroneously, many of your favourites would have been gone long before their time, including: former President Barack Obama (assassinated while campaigning in an Iowa restaurant), Will Ferrell (died in a 2006 paragliding accident), Nick Jonas (heart attack after a lap dance in a Dallas strip club), and, of course, Justin Bieber (suicide twice, nightclub shooting, and an overdose).</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Piltdown Man</strong></p> <p>Since Charles Darwin released his evolution theories in 1859, scientists have been on the lookout for proof of the missing link—a phase between full ape and full man—and in 1912, Englishman Charles Dawson announced he’d found it in a gravel pit in Piltdown. He used the fossils to build a skull model with a human-sized brain and an ape-like jaw and England declared itself the real birthplace of modern humanity. But other scientists immediately took issue, mostly because it didn’t match other fossils found around the world including the Australopithecines one dug up in South Africa. In 1915, Dawson doubled down and claimed he retrieved a second similar fossil, which was enough evidence for many average Joes. The hoax was not revealed until 1953 when British scientists used new technology to date the Piltdown pair. They deduced that the remains were only 500 years old, not the 1 million years old needed to be the link. They also took a bite out of his claim by discovering that the jaw was from an orangutan whose teeth had been filed to resemble human wear patterns and that the bones had been stained to match each other. Most people involved were dead by the 1950s so the prank plotter was never identified. One whodunit theory, according to the BBC: The doer was none other than Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He lived near the pit and was a member of Dawson’s archaeological society. The motive was revenge for being constantly mocked by scientists for his belief in spiritualism.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The Cock Lane ghost</strong></p> <p>Even royals can fall prey to paranormal pranks, according to The Daily Mail. In 1762, Prince Edward, Duke of York and Albany, visited a home on Cock Lane in London that was said to be haunted by Scratching Fanny, a woman who had died of smallpox in the rented house after her loan shark lover William Kent had lent their landlord money with a high interest rate. Kent took the landlord Richard Parsons to court over the loan and won. Strange noises that sounded like a cat scratching a chair were reported at the property around this time, and Parsons and his daughter Elizabeth, who the noises actually emanated from, claimed the ghost was Fanny. To prove it, they held séances regularly, which were written up in the newspaper and drew religious leaders, the prince, the mayor, and so many other onlookers that the street became impassable. At the time, people widely believed that a person would return from the great beyond to warn the living or seek revenge, so they quickly accepted that it was Fanny communicating via a system of knocks that Parsons and a preacher developed. During one such communing, the “ghost” accused Kent of poisoning her and requested he be hanged. To clear his name, Kent and two doctors who had tended to Fanny on her deathbed attended a séance, and again Fanny declared he was her killer. But during a later gathering, Dr Samuel Johnson witnessed Elizabeth creeping from the bed where she was during encounters to pick up a piece of wood that she used to knock. She’d usually hidden the branch in her clothes. Parsons was trying to frame Kent after losing the case, but it was he who ended up behind bars for two years. (His wife also got a year in prison.)</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The Hurricane Harvey freeway shark</strong></p> <p>Between social media sites and the 24-hour news cycle, it is impossible not to be bombarded with insane photos of daring rescues and heartbreaking destruction following any natural disaster these days. Hurricane Harvey hitting Houston in 2017 was no exception, with one image in particular proving you can’t always believe what you see. Twitter user @Jeggit posted a startling shot of a shark swimming in the floodwater that filled a Houston highway. It appeared to have been taken from the driver’s seat of a stalled car. It was retweeted almost 84,000 times and liked by 141,733 users fairly quickly. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fox News host Jesse Watters was also fooled by the photo, even mentioning it during his show The Five. He later apologised for the mix-up on his Twitter account once Politifact tracked the doctored photo back to 2011. It appears to have first been circulated after Hurricane Irene struck Puerto Rico and posted on imgur.com. In 2012, social media users posted it saying it was taken in New Jersey during Sandy. It is believed that whoever created this fishy photo took the shark from an image that ran in Africa Geographic in 2005.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Hitler’s fake diaries</strong></p> <p>In 1979, Der Stern Magazine reporter Gerd Heidemann met with Nazi memorabilia collector Fritz Stiefel, who claimed to have a diary penned by Adolf Hitler. Stiefel said it’d been recovered from a 1945 crash of a plane transporting Hitler’s personal effects. (Records indicated the crash was real and that a chest was also recovered likely containing other journals.) After a couple of handwriting experts authenticated the script, more volumes turned up through Konrad Fischer, who’d procured them from an East German General who was planning to smuggle them out of Germany in pianos, according to the UnMuseum.org. Heidemann convinced his outlet to pony up 9.9 million marks (almost US$4 million) for 60 diaries. The magazine knew it could make their money back and then some from reprints. In April 1983, Stern broke the story and then Newsweek and London’s Sunday Times ran excerpts.</p> <p> </p> <p>Historians immediately balked, as Hitler loathed writing and there had been no indication from those close to him that he’d kept notes. Also, the content sparked skepticism as they portrayed Hitler as having little knowledge of concentration camps and wanting to deport, not exterminate, Jews. After many experts questioned the handwriting, the West German Federal Archives ran more tests. They concluded that the paper, ink, and glue were manufactured after the war had ended and Hitler had died. Heidemann, who always maintained he wasn’t in on it but had inflated the asking price and skimmed money off the top, was fired. Fischer turned out to be Konrad Kujau, a criminal specialising in forgery. He faked memorabilia first and worked his way up to whole documents and paintings. (In fact, a quarter of the works that were featured in the 1983 book Adolf Hitler: The Unknown Artist were done by Kujau.) Both Kujau and Heidemann were sentenced to almost five years in prison. Most of the money was never retrieved. While Heidemann was a pariah after serving, The Guardian reports that Kujau made regular appearances on talk shows and became a minor celebrity.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Mary Toft’s bunny babies</strong></p> <p>In 18th-century Europe, people paid good money to see weird stuff, particularly human deformities and unexplained phenomena. It gave poor Surrey servant Mary Toft a particularly gross idea in England in 1726, according to HowStuffWorks.com. She went into “labour” and her neighbour and mother-in-law “delivered” a liverless cat. After other animal bits were retrieved from her nether region, they rang local obstetrician John Howard. Over the next month, he “delivered” a rabbit’s head, a hog’s bladder, the legs of a cat, and nine dead baby bunnies. (Womb-ship Down happened in the course of one day, according to the University of Glasgow Library’s special collections.) She became the talk of the town and many paid to witness the bizarre births, including a Swiss anatomist and the Prince of Wales’ secretary. But her foetal fame didn’t last long. A German surgeon proved a rabbit could not have developed inside Toft because he found corn and hay in its dung. Someone was then caught smuggling a rabbit into her room. The jig was up and Toft confessed she’d been inserting animal parts into her vagina after suffering a miscarriage.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Balloon Boy</strong></p> <p>On October 15, 2009, the nation could not take its eyes off the non-stop news coverage of a homemade silver helium-filled balloon that looked like a UFO floating around the Colorado skies. After releasing it from Fort Collins, Richard and Mayumi Heene called emergency services to report that their six-year-old son Falcon was trapped aboard. National Guard helicopters and local police followed the blimp, which topped out at 7,000 feet, for 90 minutes and 80 kilometres until it landed 24 kilometres from the Denver airport. Falcon was not inside, but as some had seen something fall from the balloon, a land search ensued. That too turned up nothing. Several hours later he came out from hiding in the attic at home. When interviewed on air by Wolf Blitzer, the kid slipped and said his father had told him they were doing it to get a reality show. The first responders didn’t like their time or money wasted and the Heenes were arrested for the hoax. According to CNN, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department tallied the cost to be at least US$47,000. In addition, the FAA imposed an US$11,000 fine because airport traffic was delayed because the balloon had flown and landed close to it. The case’s judge decided it was “clearly a planned event done for the purpose of making money” and that it was “exploitation of the children, exploitation of the media, exploitation of the emotions of the people.” Both parents were sentenced to jail, four years probation, and more than 100 hours of community service and agreed to pay restitution of US$36,016. On the five-year anniversary, USA Today found the family living in Florida and the sons had started a heavy metal band. One of their CDs has a song called “Balloon Boy No Hoax.”</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Russian royal or insane Polish factory worker?</strong></p> <p>The 1918 grisly basement execution of Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra, and their five children aged 13 to 22 in the dead of night by bullet and bayonets by Bolshevik revolutionaries is hardly the stuff of fairy tales. Which is likely why so many people wanted to desperately believe the rumours that the youngest daughter, Anastasia Romanov, had escaped. The mystery and hope were fuelled by the fact that no bodies had been found. Women popped up all over the world claiming to be her, the most believable of which was Anna Anderson, according to Refinery29. She had tried to kill herself by jumping off a Berlin bridge two years later and landed in an asylum for two years. She was the right age, had scars on her body, and a Russian accent. Some relatives and former Romanov friends and servants confirmed her identity while others denounced it. The murders had become common knowledge and Soviet counterintelligence did nothing to quell survival rumours. Her tale inspired multiple books, tabloid fodder, an Ingrid Bergman classic, an animated film, a stage musical, and an Amazon Prime TV series.</p> <p> </p> <p>After leaving the hospital, Anderson bounced around Europe, staying with distant relatives and wealthy supporters, but she was usually uncooperative, even malicious, when people tried to prove or disprove her identity. She also knew things the late royal would have known, which is how the son of a doctor who was killed with the family became her most ardent defender. Together they hired an attorney to try to get legal recognition of her title and access to the Tsar’s estate. The case lasted 32 years, the longest in German history, and ended without any conclusions. During the investigation, her detractors posited that she was Franziska Schanzkowska, a Polish worker who disappeared after being declared insane after being injured in a factory explosion shortly before the incident at the bridge. Anderson died in 1984. Seven years later, five skeletons were found in a forest near the town where the family was executed and DNA testing identified them as Romanovs. With two bodies still missing, people argued she had been telling the truth all along. But that did not last long, as they tested their DNA against an intestinal sample from a prior Anderson surgery. No match. In 2007, the final two bodies were found at a different gravesite.</p> <p> </p> <p><em>Written by Carrie Bell. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/famous-hoaxes-that-almost-fooled-everyone">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe" target="_blank" class="c-link" data-stringify-link="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe" data-sk="tooltip_parent">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p>

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The real life kids with actual superpowers

<p><strong>Adas the unfreezable</strong></p> <p>Humans begin to experience hypothermia when their core body temperature sinks below 35°C, with death usually occurring below 21°C. But in late 2014, a Polish toddler defied these principles, inconceivably surviving a harrowing night outside in the freezing cold during which his core body temperature plummeted to an inhuman 12°C, reported the Guardian. After a few days in an induced coma, Adas emerged essentially unscathed. He’s seen here as he recovers in the hospital with his parents.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Lucas the echolocator</strong></p> <p>Lucas Murray, who was born blind, learned to use his ears to ‘see’ when he was just five years old. He does this by clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth and then listening for echoes, which tell him of objects that are in his vicinity. This process, known as echolocation, is common among bats, dolphins, and some species of whale. It’s almost unheard of in humans (although Lucas learned how from a man named Daniel Kish), but Lucas mastered it in three days’ time and uses it to get around independently. He’s shown here with his mother, Sarah.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Aurelien the autobiographer</strong></p> <p>Memory loss can be devastating. But imagine losing the ability to forget? When Aurelian Hayman was 11 years old, that’s precisely what happened, at least with regard to autobiographical events. Now an adult, he can describe any past moment from his life in incredible detail – from what he ate, to the temperature, to the music that was on the radio. In 2012, he was featured in a documentary titled, The Boy Who Can’t Forget.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The bionic boy (with the super dad)</strong></p> <p>At just ten days old, Sol Ryan suffered a blood clot that required his left arm to be amputated. When his parents learned there were no truly functional prosthetic options for him, his dad, Ben Ryan, set about designing what is essentially a bionic arm for Sol. Then he 3D printed it. Not only did it give Sol his superpowers, but it also makes him look incredibly ‘high-tech cool.’</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Wolf boy (or the boy who was raised by wolves)</strong></p> <p>In 1976, a boy of about ten was found living among a pack of wolves in an Indian forest. The boy, who’d never lived among humans, walked on all fours and subsisted on raw meat, survived for another ten years under the care of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. Ramu, as he was called, learned to bathe and wear clothes, but he was never able to speak and never lost his taste for raw meat or his well-developed instinct to hunt. He’s shown here with Mother Teresa.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The musical genius</strong></p> <p>Czech pianist Lukáš Vondráček gave his first public concert at the age of four, placing him well within the definition of a prodigy, a child who demonstrates professional abilities before age ten. Prodigies are as rare as 1 in 10 million, and many struggle past childhood, but Lukáš, now 32, has beaten the odds, making him even more of a rarity.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The youngest professional magician</strong></p> <p>Daniel Rhodes, now 15, was already a professional magician/illusionist by the time he was nine, making him one of the youngest professional magicians in the world and the youngest in Great Britain. “My love for magic began when I was just six years old when I was given a basic magic kit for Christmas,” he says, and “I’ve not stopped showcasing my tricks on people since!”</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The boy who survived being crushed alive</strong></p> <p>Domenico Bacon shouldn’t even be alive. In 2007, when he was just three years old, he’d just been picked up from day-care when a 12 metre tree crashed down on him, crushing his skull and his legs. Yet Domenico not only survived without significant brain damage, but he also, inconceivably, learned how to walk again.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The boy with the enormous IQ</strong></p> <p>Jacob Barnett was diagnosed with autism when he was two, with his doctors predicting he’d never even be able to tie his own shoes. But the doctors were wrong. It turns out Jacob has an IQ of 170, which is 30 points higher than Albert Einstein’s was. He finished grades 6 through 12 in less than a year, went to college at age ten and became a published physicist by 13.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The girl with the mathematical superpowers</strong></p> <p>At age ten, math prodigy Ruth Lawrence became the youngest person to be accepted to Oxford University. There, she completed her degree in two years and scored the highest grades of any of her fellow students. Although child prodigies rarely become adult geniuses, Lawrence defies the odds. Now 47, she’s a mathematician and an associate professor of mathematics at the Einstein Institute of Mathematics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as well as a researcher in knot theory and algebraic topology.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The youngest member of Mensa</strong></p> <p>Adam Kirby was only two years old when he scored 141 on the Stanford-Binet IQ test, qualifying him for membership in Mensa, the international society for geniuses. “While most toddlers are busy learning to walk and scribbling on walls, child prodigy Adam Kirby enjoys reading Shakespeare, learning Japanese, Spanish, and French, and even potty-trained himself,” the <em>Daily Mail</em> wrote in 2013. His parents realised there was something unusual about Adam when he potty-trained himself at age one, after reading a book on the subject.</p> <p> </p> <div class="body-container"> <div> <p><em>Written by Lauren Cahn. Republished with permission of<span> </span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/11-real-life-kids-with-actual-superpowers">Reader’s Digest</a>.</em></p> </div> </div>

Mind

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How to help someone you live with who has depression

<p>The coronavirus pandemic has meant sudden changes to our daily lives, with restrictions on free movement, imposed lockdowns and social distancing. Many of these measures will have taken a toll on people’s mental health.</p> <p>These changes have increased our exposure to known risk factors for developing depression, such as <a href="https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.17111194">physical inactivity</a>, lack of structure and routine, lack of <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12888-018-1736-5">social support</a>, <a href="https://www.jaacap.org/article/S0890-8567(20)30337-3/fulltext">loneliness</a>, and limited opportunity to do enjoyable and valued activities.</p> <p>Also, <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30460-8/fulltext">evidence from previous pandemics</a>, such as Sars and swine flu, suggests that disease-containment measures, such as quarantine and social isolation, may be detrimental to mental health. There is growing evidence that the effect of these changes on people’s mental health across the age groups is significant, especially for <a href="https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.06.16.20133116v1">those who are younger</a>.</p> <p>Rates of depression in adults and young people are already concerning, and are predicted by the <a href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/depression#tab=tab_1">World Health Organization</a> to rise. By 2030, depression will be the highest <a href="https://www.who.int/foodsafety/foodborne_disease/Q&amp;A.pdf">burden of disease</a> globally, which refers to the overall impact of a health problem, including the financial cost. So although the initial focus during the pandemic has understandably been on physical health, it is therefore crucial that we also turn our attention to people’s mental health, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/45/1/131/2363790">particularly as the two are related</a>.</p> <p>A lot of advice addresses the person with depression, but here we give advice on what you can do if you live with someone who is depressed.</p> <p><strong>Clues in their behaviour</strong></p> <p>Many people find it difficult to ask for help and to let others know how they are feeling. Don’t assume someone is OK just because they say they are. It’s better to ask more questions and risk being annoying than to miss something important, such as <a href="https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/symptoms/">symptoms of depression</a>. If they don’t want to tell you, watch their behaviour and notice anything unusual, such as sleeping much later, not eating, staring for long periods, cancelling and avoiding many things.</p> <p>People’s feelings are often linked to their thoughts and behaviour, and this is demonstrated in the <a href="https://www.babcp.com/public/What-is-CBT.aspx">cognitive behavioural therapy</a> model. When people feel depressed, they often experience repeating streams of negative thoughts. It can be helpful to encourage someone who is thinking this way to try to look at different sides to a situation. Useful questions might be: “What advice would you give a friend in this situation?” or “What would be a more helpful way of thinking about this?”</p> <p>Depression gives rise to self-critical thoughts, such as “I’m no good”, “I shouldn’t feel this way”. Not surprisingly these thoughts then fuel the depression further. It’s helpful to let the depressed person know that you can see how they are feeling and that their feelings are understandable and valid, and will pass in time. This type of validation can help someone who is depressed refrain from criticising themselves for having difficult feelings and to develop more <a href="https://www.compassionatemind.co.uk/resources">self-compassion</a>.</p> <p>People who are depressed commonly withdraw from other people and activities. By doing fewer enjoyable and valued activities, it can compound a person’s depression. Try to counteract this by helping the person to re-engage with things that are important to them. Start with small things such as putting some structure into the day and perhaps <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004366.pub6/full">increasing exercise</a>, or time spent in nature, if possible. Help the person gradually re-introduce activities and social contacts that they see as valuable. Make some small plans together for the future (short, medium and long-term).</p> <p>A person with depression may commonly find it difficult to problem-solve, and daily activities and issues can quickly start to feel overwhelming. It’s helpful to stay calm and keep conflict and stress in the house to a minimum. Support the person to generate <a href="https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mental-health/mental-health-self-help-guides/problem-solving-self-help-guide">simple solutions to problems</a> and encourage them to put these <a href="https://cedar.exeter.ac.uk/media/universityofexeter/schoolofpsychology/cedar/documents/liiapt/Problems_to_Solutions.pdf">solutions and ideas into action</a> rather than avoiding things.</p> <p><strong>Seek outside help</strong></p> <p>There are a number of other effective <a href="https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg90">treatments for depression</a>. Encourage the person you are supporting to seek extra help if needed. This might be in the form of <a href="https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/treatments/#TalkingTreatmentsForDepression">online information</a> and online courses for both <a href="https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/anxiety-depression-and-cbt">adults</a> and <a href="https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/low-mood-during-covid-19">young people</a>; through <a href="https://reading-well.org.uk/books/books-on-prescription">self-help books</a>; or by contacting your local healthcare provider or mental health services in your area.</p> <p>Remember, your wellbeing is extremely important when supporting someone with depression. Take time for <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-mental-health-and-wellbeing-aspects-of-coronavirus-covid-19">self-care</a> so you can model positive behaviours and be replenished enough to provide this crucial support.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/141480/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/monika-parkison-1129916">Monika Parkison</a>, Research Fellow and Clinical Psychologist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-reading-902">University of Reading</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/maria-loades-1131527">Maria Loades</a>, Senior Lecturer, Clinical Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bath-1325">University of Bath</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-help-someone-you-live-with-who-has-depression-141480">original article</a>.</em></p>

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What’s the point of grief?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-the-internet-is-changing-the-way-we-grieve-100134">Grieving</a> is an experience almost <a href="https://theconversation.com/bowie-diana-and-why-we-mourn-in-public-53396">everyone will go through</a> at some point in their life. And is something we often have no control over.</p> <p><a href="https://animalstudiesrepository.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1133&amp;context=animsent">It isn’t just humans either</a>. There is plenty of evidence, albeit anecdotal, that <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-the-grieving-mother-orca-tells-us-about-how-animals-experience-death-101230">other mammals</a>, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAafj--lRW0">particularly primates</a>, stay close to their dead relatives or babies – even carrying them around for a time before descending into a period of depression.</p> <p>In terms of evolution, <a href="https://theconversation.com/from-mummification-to-sky-burials-why-we-need-death-rituals-60386">if grief were not helpful</a>, it would long have been bred out of our species. The real question then is not why do we grieve, more what purpose does it serve?</p> <p><strong>Stages of grief</strong></p> <p>People often talk of the “<a href="https://theconversation.com/the-five-stages-of-grief-dont-come-in-fixed-steps-everyone-feels-differently-96111">stages of grief</a>”. The “five stages” model is the best known, with the <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13576275.2012.758629">stages</a> being denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – though these were actually written to describe coming to terms with dying rather than bereavement.</p> <p>For many working in the area of bereavement of counselling, the stages of grief are little more than of <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0030222817691870">historical interest</a> now, as the stages are seen as too rigid and not individualised enough – grief don’t come in fixed stages and everyone feels things differently.</p> <p>In fact, most of what we understand about grief today, is down to psychologist, John Bowlby’s <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-everyone-should-know-their-attachment-style-105321">attachment theory</a>. Essentially, attachment theory focuses on the “psychological connectedness between human beings”.</p> <p>The theory looks at the quality of the intimate bonds we make during the course of our lives, with a specific focus on parent-child relations. And it seems that grief is the flipside to these very close attachments we, as humans, are able to form.</p> <p>Every parent knows the ear-splitting protest when their infant is left alone. If they return quickly, peace is restored. Bowlby concluded that this behaviour evolved to keep the infant close to parents and safe from predators.</p> <p>If, for whatever reason, the parent is unable to return, Bowlby noticed that after a prolonged protest, the child became withdrawn and despairing. <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00332747.1970.11023644?journalCode=upsy20">Colin Murray Parkes</a>, guru of bereavement theory and research, and a colleague of Bowlby’s, noticed the similarity between this behaviour and grief.</p> <p><strong>Science of grief</strong></p> <p>As a <a href="http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/17661/">bereavement counsellor and researcher</a> this is something I see in my clients. Initially they cry out in protest, but as time passes, they begin to despair, realising their loved one has gone forever.</p> <p>Grief isn’t just a mental experience either. It also has a physiological effect as it can raise the levels of the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.08.009">stress hormone cortisol</a>. This may explain why many of my clients experience stress reactions in the form of panic attacks, particularly if they attempt to bottle up their emotions.</p> <p>Modern techniques in neuroscience allow us to see grief in real time. In MRI scans, a brain region called the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2553561/">nucleus accumbens</a>, which lights up when we talk fondly of our love ones, also glows at our grief at losing them.</p> <p>These reward centres in our brain that make us happy together, keep us bonded by making us sad when we are apart. In this sense, <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2001-18149-011">evolutionary biologists</a> have suggested the protest phase of grief lasts long enough for us to search for our loved one, yet is short enough to detach when hope is lost.</p> <p>The despair phase, a form of depression, follows – and may serve to detach us from the one we have lost. It saves us from an energy-draining and fruitless search for them. And in time, emotional detachment allows us to seek a new breeding partner. It has also been suggested that both protest and despair may function to foster family and tribal cohesion and a sense of shared identity through the act of <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4889573">shared grief</a>.</p> <p><strong>A changed world</strong></p> <p>Most people associate grief with losing someone they love, but in reality people can <a href="https://theconversation.com/you-really-can-die-of-a-broken-heart-heres-the-science-57442">grieve for all sorts of reasons</a>. In essence, knowing what to expect and feeling secure and stable is important for our survival - so when a loss occurs in our lives, our world shifts and is turned upside down.</p> <p>In grief and trauma work, this is knows this as “<a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1972-21034-001">assumptive world theory</a>”. In the face of death and trauma, these beliefs are shattered and disorientation and even panic can enter the lives of those affected.</p> <p>Life is split into two halves – before the loss and after the loss. We grieve for the loss of the safe and familiar and it feels as though things will never be the same again. The loss of a loved one triggers both the grief of separation and the loss of our assumptive world in which they were a part.</p> <p>But over time, we adapt to our new world. We <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/10397-002">relearn the world changed by our loss</a>. Indeed, one of the privileges of working with grief is watching how so many clients learn and grow from the experience and emerge from their grief better equipped to deal with future losses.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/137665/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-frederick-wilson-1037315">John Frederick Wilson</a>, Honorary Research Fellow, Director of Bereavement Services Counselling &amp; Mental Health Clinic, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/york-st-john-university-833">York St John University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/whats-the-point-of-grief-137665">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Why some people are willing to challenge bullying, corruption and bad behavior even at personal risk

<p>Utah Senator Mitt Romney voted in February to convict President Donald Trump on the charge of abuse of power, becoming the first senator ever to <a href="https://www.vox.com/2020/2/5/21125118/mitt-romney-impeachment-vote-history">vote against his own party’s president in an impeachment trial</a>.</p> <p>Two Theranos employees – Erika Cheung and Tyler Shultz – <a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/549478/bad-blood-by-john-carreyrou/">spoke out about their concerns</a> regarding the company’s practices, even though they knew they could face lasting personal and professional repercussions.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/us/harvey-weinstein-harassment-allegations.html">Actors Ashley Judd</a> <a href="https://deadline.com/2019/12/harvey-weinstein-moment-of-reckoning-silence-breakers-ashley-judd-rose-mcgowen-1202803517/">and Rose McGowan</a> came forward to report <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/24/us/harvey-weinstein-trial-verdict/index.html">Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assault</a>, despite his threats to ruin their careers if they did so.</p> <p>All of these people spoke up to call out bad behavior, even in the face of immense pressure to stay silent. Although the specifics of each of these cases are quite different, what each of these people share is a willingness to take action. <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=-dCo5lYAAAAJ&amp;hl=en&amp;oi=ao">Psychologists like me</a> describe those who are willing to defend their principles in the face of potentially negative social consequences such as disapproval, ostracism and career setbacks as “moral rebels.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674241831">Moral rebels</a> speak up in all types of situations – to tell a bully to cut it out, to confront a friend who uses a racist slur, to report a colleague who engages in corporate fraud. What enables someone to call out bad behavior, even if doing so may have costs?</p> <p><strong>The traits of a moral rebel</strong></p> <p>First, moral rebels generally <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/10508422.2015.1012765">feel good about themselves</a>. They tend to have high self-esteem and to feel confident about their own judgment, values and ability. They also <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167209346170">believe their own views are superior</a> to those of others, and thus that they have a social responsibility to share those beliefs.</p> <p>Moral rebels are also <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2015.10.002">less socially inhibited than others</a>. They aren’t worried about feeling embarrassed or having an awkward interaction. Perhaps most importantly, they are far less concerned about conforming to the crowd. So, when they have to choose between fitting in and doing the right thing, they will probably choose to do what they see as right.</p> <p>Research in neuroscience reveals that people’s ability to stand up to social influence is reflected in anatomical differences in the brain. People who are more concerned about fitting in show <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.01.012">more gray matter volume in one particular part of the brain</a>, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex. This area right behind your eyebrows creates memories of events that led to negative outcomes. It helps guide you away from things you want to avoid the next time around – such as being rejected by your group.</p> <p>People who are more concerned about conforming to their group also show <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.12.035">more activity in two other brain circuits</a>; one that responds to social pain – like when you experience rejection – and another that tries to understand others’ thoughts and feelings. In other words, those who feel worst when excluded by their group try the hardest to fit in.</p> <p>What does this suggest about moral rebels? For some people, feeling like you’re different than everyone else feels really bad, even at a neurological level. For other people, it may not matter as much, which makes it easier for them to stand up to social pressure.</p> <p>These characteristics are totally agnostic as to what the moral rebel is standing up for. You could be the lone anti-abortion voice in your very liberal family or the lone abortion rights advocate in your very conservative family. In either scenario it’s about standing up to social pressure to stay silent – and that pressure of course could be applied about anything.</p> <p><strong>The path of a moral rebel</strong></p> <p>What does it take to create a moral rebel?</p> <p>It helps to have <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2005-08753-003">seen moral courage in action</a>. Many of the civil rights activists who participated in marches and sit-ins in the southern United States in the 1960s had parents who displayed moral courage and civic engagement, as did many of the Germans who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. Watching people you look up to show moral courage can inspire you to do the same.</p> <p>A budding moral rebel also needs to feel empathy, imagining the world from someone else’s perspective. Spending time with and really getting to know people from different backgrounds helps. White high school students who had more contact with people from different ethnic groups – in their neighborhood, at school and on sports teams – have higher levels of empathy and see people from different minority groups in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12053">more positive ways</a>.</p> <p>These same students are more likely to report taking some action if a classmate uses an ethnic slur, such as by directly challenging that person, supporting the victim or telling a teacher. People who are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-010-9109-1">more empathetic</a> are also more likely to defend someone who is being bullied.</p> <p>Finally, moral rebels need particular skills and practice using them. One study found that teenagers who <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01682.x">held their own in an argument with their mother</a>, using reasoned arguments instead of whining, pressure or insults, were the most resistant to peer pressure to use drugs or drink alcohol later on. Why? People who have practiced making effective arguments and sticking with them under pressure are better able to use these same techniques with their peers.</p> <p>Moral rebels clearly have particular characteristics that enable them to stand up for what’s right. But what about the rest of us? Are we doomed to be the silent bystanders who meekly stand by and don’t dare call out bad behavior?</p> <p>Fortunately, no. It is possible to develop the ability to stand up to social pressure. In other words, anyone can learn to be a moral rebel.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/catherine-a-sanderson-1126074"><em>Catherine A. Sanderson</em></a><em>, Poler Family Professor and Chair of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/amherst-college-2155">Amherst College</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/heres-why-some-people-are-willing-to-challenge-bullying-corruption-and-bad-behavior-even-at-personal-risk-140829">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How the pandemic upended our perception of time

<p>Think back to life before stay-at-home orders. Does it feel like just yesterday? Or does it seem like ages ago – like some distant era?</p> <p>Of course, time is precise. It takes <a href="https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/days/en/">23.9 hours</a> for the Earth to make one rotation on its axis. But that’s not how we experience time. Instead, internally, it’s often something we feel or sense, rather than objectively measure.</p> <p>It turns out our emotional state tends to play a big role in our perception of time – a dynamic that <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=klgb90kAAAAJ&amp;hl=en">I’ve studied</a> for 10 years. Much research has shown that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2009.0013">relative to an emotional negative state</a>, a positive one <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/02699930341000194">makes time appear to pass more quickly</a>.</p> <p>Back in the early days of the pandemic, when it became clear that the virus would upend our everyday lives, it wasn’t a stretch to assume that the coming weeks and months would be an emotional roller coaster.</p> <p>Thanks to <a href="https://www.ua.edu/news/2020/03/ua-to-study-how-emotions-impact-behavior-to-covid-19-pandemic/?fbclid=IwAR2ChEbiK95XxgtHck6xGALcvXM8xw7XOFLBf2MKMEC8cZ1BFNmLUY5zAkc">a grant from the National Science Foundation</a>, my team and I developed a smartphone application to document the <a href="https://www.cbs42.com/alabama-news/ua-researcher-studying-emotional-response-to-pandemic/">emotions, perceptions and behaviors of Americans</a> during the pandemic on a month-by-month basis. We’ve been able to track the extent to which Americans’ internal clocks went haywire – and explore why this might have happened.</p> <p><strong>The turbulence of time</strong></p> <p><a href="http://scenlab.as.ua.edu/GablePoole12Time.pdf">There’s truth</a> to the aphorism “time flies when you’re having fun.” On the other hand, the opposite seems to occur when we’re scared, sad or anxious. For example, people often remark how <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-accidents-and-emergencies-seem-to-dramatically-slow-down-time-122569">car wrecks or accidents seem to happen in slow motion</a>.</p> <p>Why does this happen?</p> <p>Emotion and motivation are intertwined. Emotion compels us to act in certain ways, whether it’s diving into a project when we’re excited or hiding when we’re terrified. The former is called “approach motivation,” while the latter is called “avoidance motivation.”</p> <p>My team and I <a href="http://scenlab.as.ua.edu/GableNealPoole16MotivationScience.pdf">have been able to show</a> how approach motivation causes our sense of time to speed up, but avoidance motivation causes it to slow down. The more motivation we feel in either direction, the more pronounced the change in our perception of time.</p> <p>This happens for a reason. When we’re motivated to do something, we have a goal in mind, whether it’s finishing a puzzle or evading a car that’s blown a red light.</p> <p>The speeding or slowing of time may help us achieve these goals. When time passes more quickly, it makes it easier to pursue a goal for a longer period of time. Think about a hobby you enjoy and how time passes more quickly when you’re engaged with it.</p> <p>In contrast, when avoidance motivation is triggered, time slows down to prevent us from lingering in potentially harmful situations. If time seems like it’s dragging when you’re frightened or disgusted, you’ll act more quickly to get yourself out of harm’s way.</p> <p><strong>Our pandemic clocks</strong></p> <p>It’s this avoidance situation that many of us found ourselves in at the beginning of the pandemic. There was this threat that we wanted to evade, but since we couldn’t see it, we were left trying to avoid a range of potentially harmful situations. Because these included routine activities like shopping and exercising, our avoidance motivation was constantly triggered.</p> <p>If you felt like time slowed down during the early days of the pandemic, you weren’t alone.</p> <p>In April, we asked 1,000 Americans how time seemed to be passing during March. About half said they felt time dragged and a quarter indicated that time passed more quickly than normal. The remaining quarter reported that they didn’t experience a change in the passage of time.</p> <p>Whether time slowed or sped up was most closely related to people’s emotions. Those who reported that they were most nervous or stressed also indicated that time passed more slowly, while those who felt happy or glad tended to experience time passing more quickly.</p> <p>Our findings also revealed that people who tended to experience the slowing of time practiced social distancing more often. So while time slowing down might be an unpleasant side effect of anxiety and avoidance, the behaviors did end up benefiting society.</p> <p>In April, about 10 per cent of our sample moved from feeling like time dragged to feeling like time flew. More people were feeling relaxed and calm, and interestingly, it was these positive feelings, along with the perception of time flying, that predicted whether people would engage in social distancing. So it’s possible that people’s improved mood and the shift in their perception of time motivated their willingness to socially distance.</p> <p>Still, there was a big chunk who felt – and probably still feel – that time is dragging.</p> <p>Fortunately, if you feel this way, you can do something about it. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.08.009">Exercise</a>, hobbies and a routine help speed up your perception of time. Sure, it might not “fly by,” but its pace could quicken just enough to make you feel a little better.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/philip-gable-1095287"><em>Philip Gable</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-delaware-820">University of Delaware</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-stay-at-home-slowdown-how-the-pandemic-upended-our-perception-of-time-139258">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How to stop the COVID-19 stress meltdown

<p>Let’s face it: We’re all under stress right now. The uncertainty and constant health threats surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have upended our lives.</p> <p>We may need two vaccines: one to protect us from the coronavirus and another from the toxic effects of too much stress. Could we train our brains to prevent this stress from becoming lodged in our brains, so we can bounce back faster from stress – and even collect a kernel of wisdom from the experience?</p> <p>Perhaps. <a href="https://www.ebtconnect.net/ebt_hypothesis.pdf">Neuroscience research</a> points to the stress-reactive circuits in the emotional brain as a trigger of toxic stress. These circuits are made of neurons that can guide us to respond ineffectively to stress. Once triggered, they unleash a cascade of stress chemicals. Instead of the brain orchestrating a symphony of effective self-regulatory processes and moderation, we have a garage band of dysregulation and extremes, which can cause chronic stress and rising rates of emotional, behavioral, social and physical <a href="http://doi.org/10.1177/1745691613506907">health problems</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=JmgNEGsAAAAJ&amp;hl=en">As a health psychology professor</a>, I work on <a href="https://www.ebtconnect.net/science">emotional brain training</a> to help people deactivate and rewire the circuits that cause this <a href="http://doi.org/10.1177/1745691613506907">stress overload</a>.</p> <p><strong>A new crisis in emotional health</strong></p> <p>Scientists have been exploring these issues for over a century. Some 100 years ago, the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud speculated that <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00071">pathways in the brain</a> caused emotional and behavioral problems. Tom Insel, as director of the National Institutes for Mental Health from 2002 to 2015, called for revolutionizing psychiatry with neuroscience to focus on <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/faulty-circuits/">faulty circuits</a>. The <a href="https://braininitiative.nih.gov/">White House BRAIN initiative</a>, launched in 2013, has been busily mapping the brain’s billions of neurons and their connections to improve understanding of and treatments for a number of disorders.</p> <p>Then came COVID-19, and suddenly 70% of the U.S. population was identified as moderately to severely distressed in a <a href="http://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/wc8ud">nationally representative study</a> in April. That was up from 22% just two years earlier.</p> <p>With a <a href="https://theconversation.com/new-study-shows-staggering-effect-of-coronavirus-pandemic-on-americas-mental-health-137944">crisis in emotional health</a> upon us, people can benefit from learning to take charge of these stress-reactive circuits and switch off the toxic stress chemical cascade they activate.</p> <p><strong>Understanding the emotional brain</strong></p> <p>Most of us aren’t aware that the neural circuits in our emotional brain – the <a href="https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain/brain-anatomy/limbic-system">limbic system</a> and subconscious memory systems in what’s sometimes referred to as the “<a href="http://doi.org/10.19080/PBSIJ.2018.08.555738">reptilian brain”</a> – are the major controllers of our emotional responses in daily life.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jcrWPo_s6EE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>When a stimulus arrives in the brain, it activates either stress-resilient circuits, the internal calmers and healers, or stress-reactive circuits, the rabble-rousers that spiral us down into toxic stress.</p> <p>The brain activates the strongest circuit, which then controls our responses. If it triggers a reactive circuit, that unleashes strong emotions that are challenging to process, especially since stress compromises the functioning of the part of our brains responsible for higher-level thinking and planning. The brain struggles to untangle those stuck emotions, and we become stressed out.</p> <p>It gets worse. The longer these stress-reactive wires are activated, the more likely they are to activate other stress-reactive wires. One circuit can trigger another and another, which can cause an emotional meltdown of anxiety, numbness, depression and hostility which can overwhelm us for hours or days.</p> <p>These problematic stress-reactive circuits are encoded during <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.08.019">adverse childhood experiences</a>, and later experiences of stress overload. The social isolation from sheltering in place and financial and health uncertainty has strengthened these faulty wires, turning the pandemic crisis into a virtual incubator for making our brains even more reactive and setting us up for a crisis in emotional health.</p> <p><strong>How to retrain the stressed brain</strong></p> <p>The stress wires in the emotional brain change through <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcomdis.2011.04.011">experience-dependent neuroplasticity</a> – the brain learns to be resilient by being resilient. It takes becoming stressed, then using <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Whats-number-Question-Unlocks-Happiness/dp/1893265013/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2JIUYUH01IX20&amp;dchild=1&amp;keywords=laurel+mellin+whats+my+number&amp;qid=1591263479&amp;sprefix=laurel+mellin%2Caps%2C215&amp;sr=8-1">emotional techniques</a> to discover and change the unreasonable expectations and unwanted drives stored in that circuit.</p> <p>Here’s one technique: First, briefly complain about what’s bothering you. For example: “I can’t stop beating myself up for all the things I have done wrong.” This activates the reactive wire that has encoded a faulty response and makes rewiring possible.</p> <p>Then, rapidly express emotions. Start with a burst of anger, which decreases stress and keeps the stressed “thinking brain” from becoming stuck in ruminating, zoning out or overanalyzing. Notice that you can then stay present to your strong, stress-fueled negative emotions, which will then flow rapidly. You can talk yourself through them by finishing phrases like “I feel sad that …”; “I feel afraid that …”; or “I feel guilty that …”</p> <p>That simple emotional release can ease your stress, and the previously unconscious unreasonable expectation encoded in the circuit will appear in your conscious mind. With the wire unlocked, you can then change the expectation into a reasonable one. For example, change “I get my safety from being hard on myself” to “I get my safety from being kind to myself.” The unwanted drive that amplifies your stress fades.</p> <p>In small but important steps to release stress day by day, you train your brain for resilience.</p> <p><strong>Stress resilience as a social responsibility</strong></p> <p>Research has shown that emotions transmitted during social dialogue can eventually become <a href="http://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-50770-4">large-scale group emotions</a>. We can spread stress to others, and much like secondhand smoke, secondhand stress is becoming a concern.</p> <p>I’ve been surprised in my clinical practice at how quickly individuals link stress with social responsibility. One technology company executive said, “Switching off my stress is good for me, keeps me from triggering stress in my family, and it’s something I do for our country. We are a stressed nation, and I want to be part of the solution.”</p> <p><strong>Stress resilience as a foundation for health</strong></p> <p>Even though stress overload is a root cause of many <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Robert-Paul_Juster/publication/26887860_Juster_RP_McEwen_BS_Lupien_SJ_Allostatic_load_biomarkers_of_chronic_stress_and_impact_on_health_and_cognition_Neurosci_Biobehav_Rev_35_2-16/links/5a5cb9290f7e9b4f78395e83/Juster-RP-McEwen-BS-Lupien-SJ-Allostatic-load-biomarkers-of-chronic-stress-and-impact-on-health-and-cognition-Neurosci-Biobehav-Rev-35-2-16.pdf">health problems</a>, the current model of treating the symptoms of stress rather than <a href="http://doi.org/10.1177/2470547017692328">rewiring the brain’s stress response</a> is not sustainable.</p> <p>At some point, <a href="https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/Reforming-Americas-Healthcare-System-Through-Choice-and-Competition.pdf">health care’s addiction</a> to using medications and procedures to treat the health problems caused by stress will require detox. A new emphasis on training the emotional brain for resiliency may emerge.</p> <p>If we could reboot our brains for the high-stress times in which we live, just about every aspect of life would improve. Resiliency could provide a needed <a href="http://doi.org/10.1177/1559827609335152">internal health safety net</a>.</p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/laurel-mellin-239264"><em>Laurel Mellin</em></a><em>, Associate Professor Emeritus of Family &amp; Community Medicine and Pediatrics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-california-san-francisco-689">University of California, San Francisco</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/want-to-stop-the-covid-19-stress-meltdown-train-your-brain-138785">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Brain research shows the arts promote mental health

<p>During self-isolation due to coronavirus, <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/arts/a-long-and-entirely-subjective-list-of-creative-challenges-to-get-you-through-covid-19-1.5503687">many are turning</a> <a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1061802">to the arts</a>. Perhaps they seek a creative outlet or opportunity for expression; but it’s also possible that their attraction may be driven by an innate desire to use their brains in ways that make them feel good.</p> <p>As a professor and arts educator for over 20 years, I have witnessed the mental benefits of an arts-rich life — but don’t take my word for it. There is a powerful and compelling case, supported by cutting-edge research, that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/10720530601074721">the arts have positive effects on mental health</a>.</p> <p>Mental <a href="https://cmha.ca/fast-facts-about-mental-illness">health issues affect nearly half of the global population, at some point, by age 40</a>. Add to that, recent <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/campaigns/connecting-the-world-to-combat-Coronavirus/healthyathome/healthyathome---mental-health">challenges of the pandemic for maintaining mental wellness, managing fears and uncertainty</a>, and one thing is clear: it’s time to think differently when it comes to how we engage our minds.</p> <p>The arts offer an evidence-based solution for promoting mental health. While practising the arts is not the panacea for all mental health challenges, there’s enough evidence to support prioritizing arts in our own lives at home as well as in our education systems.</p> <p><strong>For managing well-being</strong></p> <p>The relationship between the arts and mental health is well established in the field of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2004.10129496">art therapy</a>, which applies arts-based techniques (like painting, dancing and role play) as evidence-based <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000000897">interventions for mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression</a>. There is also growing evidence that the arts can be used in non-therapy contexts for promoting mental health, such as using <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.22329/jtl.v11i2.5057">performing arts to learn about the core subject areas in schools</a> or doing visual art with adults who are mentally well, and want to <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2017.12.009">sustain that sense of wellness</a>.</p> <p>In other words, practising the arts can be used to build <a href="https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/amh/Page2754.aspx">capacity for managing one’s mental and emotional well-being</a>.</p> <p><strong>Neuroesthetics</strong></p> <p>With recent advances in biological, cognitive and neurological science, there are new forms of evidence on the arts and the brain. For example, researchers have used biofeedback to study the effects of visual art on <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1535370219883634">neural circuits and neuroendocrine markers to find biological evidence that visual art promotes health, wellness and fosters adaptive responses to stress</a>.</p> <p>In another study, cognitive neuroscientists found that creating art <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832">reduces cortisol levels (markers for stress), and that through art people can induce positive mental states.</a> These studies are part of a new field of research, called <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2010.21457">neuroesthetics</a>: <a href="http://doi.org/10.1126/science.1062331">the scientific study of the neurobiological basis of the arts</a>.</p> <p>Neuroesthetics uses brain imaging, brain wave technology and biofeedback to gather scientific evidence of how we respond to the arts. Through this, there is physical, scientific evidence that the arts engage the mind in novel ways, tap into our emotions in healthy ways and make us feel good.</p> <p><strong>Mindfulness and flow</strong></p> <p>The arts have also been found to be effective tools for <a href="https://cjc-rcc.ucalgary.ca/article/view/59860">mindfulness, a trending practice in schools</a> that is effective for <a href="http://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-010-9418-x">managing mental health</a>.</p> <p>Being mindful is being <a href="http://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822">aware and conscious of your thoughts and state of mind without judgement</a>. The cognitive-reflective aspects of the arts, in addition to their ability to shift cognitive focus, make them <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1535370219883634">especially effective as tools for mindfulness</a>. Specifically, engaging with visual art has been <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2017.05.004">found to activate different parts of the brain</a> other than those taxed by logical, linear thinking; and another study found that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00696.2003">visual art activated distinct and specialized visual areas of the brain</a>.</p> <p>In short: the arts create conditions for mindfulness by accessing and engaging different parts of the brain through conscious shifting of mental states. For those of us who practise regularly in the arts, we are aware of those states, able to shift in and out and reap the physiological benefits through a neurological system that delights in and rewards cognitive challenges. Neuroesthetic findings suggest this is not an experience exclusive to artists: it is simply untapped by those who do not practise in the arts.</p> <p>Research shows that the arts can be used to create a unique cognitive shift into a holistic state of mind called <a href="https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789401790871">flow, a state of optimal engagement first identified in artists, that is mentally pleasurable and neurochemically rewarding</a>.</p> <p>There is a wealth of studies on the relationship between <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2013.787211">the arts, flow and mental health</a>, and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.132.2.180">flow-like states have been connected to mindfulness</a>, <a href="http://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-neuro-062111-150525">attention</a>, <a href="http://doi.org/10.1126/science.1062331">creativity</a> and even <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2010.03.014">improved cognition</a>.</p> <p><strong>Benefits in education</strong></p> <p>Despite increasing evidence published in top, peer-reviewed journals, on the measurable <a href="https://doi.org/10.2307/1602156">benefits of the arts in education, such as increased academic performance</a> and the <a href="https://cje-rce.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/07/CJE_Martin.pdf">development of innovative thinking</a>, the arts continue to be <a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/40327130">marginalized in education</a>.</p> <p>Could the study of neuroesthetics finally provide the evidence decision-makers require to prioritize the arts in education? If so, we may be on the verge of a renaissance that remembers our human instinct to create.</p> <p>One thing is certain: <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thesundayedition/the-sunday-edition-for-december-15-2019-1.5393079/the-mental-health-crisis-among-young-canadians-1.5393085">the mental health crisis affecting young people</a> implicates <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/children-mental-health-suicide-depression-self-harm-1.5266603">a systematic failure to provide the right tools for success</a>. That should not be acceptable to anyone.</p> <p><strong>Three tips for arts-based mindfulness</strong></p> <p><strong>Make mistakes:</strong> Try something new and be willing to make mistakes to learn. Most artists practise for years before they are able to render something realistic, and they are willing to make many mistakes along the way, likely because the brain rewards learning. If you are trying this at home, don’t encourage anything messy with children unless you have time to oversee it. There is nothing worse for kids than getting in trouble for something you have encouraged — it can crush their love of art and inhibit creative exploration.</p> <p><strong>Reuse and repeat:</strong> Play and experiment with reusable materials, like dry-erase markers on windows that can be easily wiped away, or sculpting material, like playdough that can be squished and reshaped. This emphasizes practice and process over product and takes the pressure off to make something that looks good. If you really must keep a copy, snap a quick photo of the work, then let it go.</p> <p><strong>Limit language:</strong> Try not to talk when you are making art, and if you are listening to music, choose something without lyrics. The parts of the brain activated during visual art are different than those activated for speech generation and language processing. Give those overworked parts of the mind a break, and indulge in the calm relaxation that comes from doing so. The neurochemicals that are released feel good, and that is your brain’s way of thanking you for the experience.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/136668/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brittany-harker-martin-998149">Brittany Harker Martin</a>, Associate Professor, Leadership, Policy &amp; Governance, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-calgary-1318">University of Calgary</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/brain-research-shows-the-arts-promote-mental-health-136668">original article</a>.</em></p>

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