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Test yourself: Can you spot the hidden book?

<p style="margin-top: 0cm; background: white; vertical-align: baseline;"><span style="font-size: 11.5pt; font-family: 'Helvetica',sans-serif; color: black;">A new brainteaser is putting people’s perception skills to the test, challenging viewers to spot a hidden book in under 20 seconds.</span></p> <p style="margin-top: 0cm; background: white; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; orphans: 2; text-align: start; widows: 2; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial; word-spacing: 0px;"><span style="font-size: 11.5pt; font-family: 'Helvetica',sans-serif; color: black;">The image, which contains images of various electronic gadgets, was inspired by the increasing dominance of technology in our lives.</span></p> <p style="margin-top: 0cm; background: white; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; orphans: 2; text-align: start; widows: 2; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial; word-spacing: 0px;"><span style="font-size: 11.5pt; font-family: 'Helvetica',sans-serif; color: black;">The illustration was done by London-based educational company Edu Prints Plus.</span></p> <p style="margin-top: 0cm; background: white; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; orphans: 2; text-align: start; widows: 2; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial; word-spacing: 0px;"><span style="font-size: 11.5pt; font-family: 'Helvetica',sans-serif; color: black;">The creators have found that the hidden item can be located within five seconds, but how long will it take you?</span></p> <p style="margin-top: 0cm; background: white; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; orphans: 2; text-align: start; widows: 2; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial; word-spacing: 0px;"><span style="font-size: 11.5pt; font-family: 'Helvetica',sans-serif; color: black;">Can you find the hidden book?</span></p> <p style="margin-top: 0cm; background: white; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; orphans: 2; text-align: center; widows: 2; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial; word-spacing: 0px;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 500px;" src="/media/7821403/1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/1b6fc8b4ce454170b82e05146893a2ef" /></p> <p style="margin-top: 0cm; background: white; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; orphans: 2; text-align: start; widows: 2; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial; word-spacing: 0px;"><span style="font-size: 11.5pt; font-family: 'Helvetica',sans-serif; color: black;">Observant puzzlers will spot that the book is hiding towards the top right corner of the picture with the book mark hanging out.</span></p> <p style="margin-top: 0cm; background: white; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; orphans: 2; text-align: start; widows: 2; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial; word-spacing: 0px;"><span style="font-size: 11.5pt; font-family: 'Helvetica',sans-serif; color: black;">Speaking of his love of books, Edu Prints Plus founder Faisal Naisim said: “I love a brain teaser like this - something that helps you keep your vision sharp and puts your perception skills to the test.”</span></p> <p style="margin-top: 0cm; background: white; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; orphans: 2; text-align: start; widows: 2; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial; word-spacing: 0px;"><span style="font-size: 11.5pt; font-family: 'Helvetica',sans-serif; color: black;">“And in a world where it feels like technology is taking over absolutely everything, I get real joy out of picking up a physical book and casting aside my phone or tablet for an hour or two. That's really the inspiration around this puzzle.”</span></p> <p style="margin-top: 0cm; background: white; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; orphans: 2; text-align: center; widows: 2; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial; word-spacing: 0px;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 500px;" src="/media/7821404/2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/4368a1152ce04d03a955b2c514aa6d1c" /></p> <p style="margin-top: 0cm; background: white; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; orphans: 2; text-align: start; widows: 2; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial; word-spacing: 0px;"><span style="font-size: 11.5pt; font-family: 'Helvetica',sans-serif; color: black;">Did you spot the hidden book? If so, how many seconds did it take you? Let us know in the comments below.</span></p>

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Rebecca Gibney's heartbreaking confession about her depression battle

<p>Much-loved actor Rebecca Gibney has spoken candidly about her depression and anxiety, and the poignant turning points in her battle with mental health.</p> <p>In an interview with <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/lifestyle/stellar/rebecca-gibney-here-i-am-53-and-a-lesbian-heartthrob/news-story/d874ae702a2127733826edb5a69cb68b" target="_blank"><em>Stella</em></a> magazine, the star of <em>Wanted</em>, <em>Packed to the Rafters</em>, and <em>The Flying Doctors</em> said that motherhood had a cathartic effect on her.</p> <p>“Motherhood doesn’t complete you, but being a mother to Zac did help me overcome some of my own issues because all of a sudden it became all about him,” she said of her son, now 14 years old. “I was at a point in my life where I needed that.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bobk0RvgtxH/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bobk0RvgtxH/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank">When did that happen? 4 - 14. Happens in a blink 👁 I even miss the tantrums 🤷‍♀️ Love you Zac. You can stop growing now. XMum PS it’s not his birthday - I just looked at him last night and he is soooo big and grown up and beautiful..... my heart 💓</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/rebeccagibney_/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank"> Rebecca Gibney</a> (@rebeccagibney_) on Oct 2, 2018 at 5:33am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The actor admitted she experienced an “emotional collapse” in her early 30s, experiencing hourly panic attacks (she would even ask to be seated near an exit at the Logie Awards) and agoraphobia. </p> <p>She endured a difficult childhood – her father Austin Gibney was an alcoholic who sexually abused her mother Shirley Gibney. While she attempted to confront her issues at the time with a therapist, the star said it became too much.</p> <p>“I’d built up a library of self-loathing which I covered up with make-up and roles and pretending, but deep down I was dying inside,” she told the magazine. </p> <p>“I felt like a failure in my first marriage, I felt a failure as an actor because I was pretending, and I felt like a failure in my friendships because they weren’t real. A lot about me felt fake and I hated it.”</p> <p>But the Gold Logie winner found a novel way to deal with her frustration – smashing crockery.</p> <p>“I had all this rage and my therapist encouraged me to go to op shops and get crockery, which I’d go outside and smash on the ground. It’s a relief to get that anger out.”</p> <p>For the first time, Gibney spoke in detail about one of the hardest days of her life – the day she found herself contemplating suicide. It was a turning point in her ongoing battle with depression.</p> <p>“I’d been given prescription medication and on this particular day I put it all out on the coffee table and started writing a letter to my mum,” she said. “I got halfway through the letter and thought, ‘She’ll never understand. I can never do that to her.’ I started picturing my brothers and sisters and friends and I thought, ‘If I go through with this it will create way more pain for them than the pain I’m in now.’ I stopped, ripped up the letter and only told my mum years later. She was mortified and sad I didn’t tell her at the time.”</p> <p>The actor, who now lives in her native New Zealand with her son, and husband Richard Bell, after living in Australia for over 30 years, has found ways to deal with her anxiety, including breathing techniques. She also shares her mental health journey on social media in the hope they will offer hope to those suffering mental illness.</p> <p>“Perhaps they’ll think, ‘If it can happen to her, maybe I can take that extra breath, maybe I can go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow and do something about it’.”</p> <p>If you are troubled by this article, experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide, you can call the Depression Helpline at 0800 111 757 or visit depression.org.nz.</p>

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The 12 ways narcissists make you think they’re important

<p><strong><em>Susan Krauss Whitbourne is a professor of Psychology and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She writes the Fulfilment at Any Age blog for Psychology Today.</em></strong></p> <p>Have you ever noticed that some people you work with or interact with socially underplay their chances of succeeding? Perhaps they go into a situation in which their abilities will be put to the test, such as a entering a contest to get the most sales in the upcoming month or putting together a meal for an important family gathering. Maybe they announce they have a first date with a match made through an <span><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/basics/social-networking">online dating</a></span> site. Rather than predict a positive outcome in these situations, they put on a show of looking ill-prepared or incompetent. They claim that they're doomed to fail because they lack the necessary skills, people or otherwise, to achieve a positive outcome. Yet, you also have suspected for a while that these individuals seem to be quite self-centred and <span><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/basics/relationships">love</a></span> to grab the limelight. Why, then, would they go out of their way to seem ill-equipped to handle a challenge?</p> <p>New research by University of North Texas psychologist Michael Barnett and colleagues (2018) suggests that people high in narcissism engage in this self-handicapping presentation strategy as a twisted way of getting you to think that they truly are terrific. Their study, which was conducted on a college student sample of 818 participants, was based on the idea that self-handicapping, or what they call “sandbagging” is just one more way that people high in narcissism manipulate the way others regard them. Although testing this concept on a college student sample might seem to limit its applicability to the broader population, it is consistent with some of the earliest theories of <span><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/basics/personality">personality</a></span>. By underplaying their strengths, according to theorists such as Alfred Adler and Karen Horney, narcissists can’t possibly fail. If they don’t win at a situation, they can show that they didn’t expect to anyhow. If they do win, then they look all that much more amazing to those who witness their glory.</p> <p>The concept of sandbagging as a psychological self-presentation strategy was tested by Central Michigan University’s Brian Gibson and Minnesota State University (Mankato)’s Daniel Sachau in a 2000 study that described and validated a 12-item measure. Gibson and Sachau define sandbagging as “a self-presentational strategy involving the false claim or feigned demonstration of inability used to create artificially low expectations for the sandbagger’s performance” (p. 56). Although the origins of the term are unclear (possibly related to building dams, horse-racing, or acts of physical aggression), it’s a concept familiar in the world of “coaches and card-players.” In a press conference prior to a big game, a head coach will talk down, instead of up, the <span><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/basics/teamwork">team</a></span>'s chances of victory. Like the coach playing mind games on the opponent, by pretending to be less competent than you are you can lull those who might oppose you into complacency.</p> <p>However, as Gibson and Sachau note, sandbagging can be used in situations involving evaluation rather than <span><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/basics/sport-and-competition">competition</a></span>. A student who’s actually studied hard tells a professor not to expect much out of the upcoming exam performance. By reducing expectations, the individual either looks better after succeeding at the task or has a reason to explain low performance, should that be the outcome. People can also reduce the pressure on them if they predict poor performance to others because they’ve now got nothing to lose should this occur.</p> <p>Barnett et al., examining the relationship between narcissism and sandbagging, used the 12-item Sandbagging Scale developed in that 2000 study by Gibson and Sachau. The North Texas researchers note that people use this strategy primarily as a way of protecting their <span><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/basics/self-esteem">self-esteem</a></span>, as shown in previous research establishing a relationship between low self-esteem and sandbagging. People high in narcissism, the researchers maintain, are attempting to protect a fragile self-esteem reflected in feelings of vulnerability that they may cover up with grandiosity. As they note, “the high explicit self-esteem observed in narcissists is an attempt to cover up underlying low self-esteem and vulnerability” (p. 2). Not all psychologists agree that vulnerability and grandiosity are two sides of the same <span><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/basics/narcissism">narcissistic </a></span>coin, but for the purpose of studying sandbagging, such an assumption seems warranted. Going back to the theories of Adler and Horney, downplaying their abilities is a tactic that narcissists use to guarantee that they can’t fail, suggesting that their self-esteem indeed has a precarious basis.</p> <p>The Barnett et al. findings supported the roles of both grandiose and vulnerable narcissism in explaining scores on the sandbagging measure above and beyond the effects of self-esteem. Thus, people high in narcissism attempt to look good by predicting bad. They use sandbagging, the authors conclude, “to resolve the dissonance that stems from viewing themselves as superior yet potentially being negatively evaluated” (p. 5). This helps them manage their self-esteem by pretending that nothing’s at stake should they either succeed or fail.</p> <p>Before examining the implications of these findings, let’s turn next to the Sandbagging Scale. If Barnett and his collaborators are correct, the items on this scale should provide a novel way to test people’s levels of narcissism because those high in narcissism should score high on this measure.</p> <p>To test yourself, indicate your agreement with these items on a 6-point scale from disagree very much to agree very much:</p> <ol> <li>It’s better for people to expect less of you even if you know you can perform well.</li> <li>The less others expect of me, the better I like it.</li> <li>If I tell others my true ability, I feel added pressure to perform well.</li> <li>The less others expect of me the more comfortable I feel.</li> <li>I may understate my abilities to take some of the pressure off.</li> <li>When someone has high expectations of me I feel uncomfortable.</li> <li>I try to perform above others’ expectations.</li> <li>It’s important that I surpass people’s expectations for my performance.</li> <li>I like others to be surprised by my performance.</li> <li>I enjoy seeing others surprised by my abilities.</li> <li>I will understate my abilities in front of my opponent(s).</li> <li>I understate my skills, ability, or knowledge.</li> </ol> <p>In looking at your responses, flip your ratings of 7 and 8, which are the opposite of sandbagging. The 12 items divide into 3 subscales: Pressure (1-6), Exceeding Expectations (7-10), and Behaviour (11 and 12). The average scores were in the higher end of the 6-point scale, with most people scoring between about 3 and 5, but the highest scores were in items 7-10, the Exceeding Expectations scale. It appears, then, that most people engage in some <span><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/basics/leadership">management</a></span> of their self-esteem through sandbagging. As indicated by Barnett and his co-authors, people highest in narcissism should be particularly likely to do so.</p> <p>Hearing an individual expressing false modesty about an upcoming evaluation, as the Sandbagging scale would seem to reflect, can provide you with cues that the individual is trying to protect a fragile sense of self. Rather than project an outward show of bravado, then, people high in narcissism can use the reverse strategy. The audience might be fooled by all of this down-regulation of expectations and not recognise that they are actually watching the self-preservation tactics of the narcissist.</p> <p><strong>To sum up,</strong> be on the lookout for sandbagging when you suspect that you’re witnessing false modesty. Fulfillment in life comes from being able to engage in situations involving competition or evaluation with a reasonable sense of inner self-<span><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/basics/confidence">confidence</a></span>. People high in narcissism view every evaluative situation as a threat to their own fallibility and as a result, cannot experience this sense of fulfillment.  </p> <p><em>Written by Susan Krauss Whitbourne. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201809/the-12-ways-narcissists-make-you-think-they-re-important"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Psychology Today.</span></strong> </a></em></p>

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The science behind why mediation helps relieve stress

<p><em><strong>Michaela Pascoe is a postdoctoral research fellow in Exercise and Mental Health at Victoria University.</strong></em></p> <p>Stress is common, and ongoing stress can contribute to the onset of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23261775">a range of psychological issues</a>, such as depression and anxiety.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679190/">Meditation</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3447533/">yoga</a> have been shown to reduce people’s self-reported levels of stress. This is likely due, at least in part, to the effects that meditation and yoga have on the brain’s stress response system.</p> <p><strong>How the brain responds to stress</strong></p> <p>The body’s automatic stress response is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system plays a key role in stress reactivity via its two main divisions: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.</p> <p>A main function of the sympathetic nervous system is to mobilise the body to fight or flee from stressful or threatening situations, via control of internal muscles, organs and glands. This is called the “fight or flight” response.</p> <p>The parasympathetic nervous system counterbalances the sympathetic nervous system and returns the body to its natural baseline state after the systematic nervous system activates.</p> <p>In many cases the parasympathetic nervous system and sympathetic nervous system have opposing but complementary functions. For example, the sympathetic nervous system increases heart rate, blood pressure and the downstream release of stress-related hormones such as cortisol, whereas the parasympathetic nervous system decreases all of these factors.</p> <p>So by measuring these <a href="https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c6c0/dcc3ad330cf46f84fa5cabcacead7e3d4da3.pdf">we can identify</a> if people are experiencing a homeostatic state or a more stressful state, on a physiological level.</p> <p>We <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28863392">reviewed</a> how yoga and different forms of meditation influence the brain’s stress response system by studying physiological markers of stress.</p> <p><strong>What are the different forms of meditation?</strong></p> <p>A common method of classifying meditation techniques distinguishes between <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21254062">open monitoring</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21254062">focused attention</a>, and automatic <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27816783">self-transcending</a> meditation.</p> <p>Open monitoring or mindfulness-based meditations involve the practice of observing the content of our ongoing experience in a non-reactive way, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20041276">to become reflectively aware</a> of cognitive and emotional patterns. Instead of focusing attention on a particular object, the meditator aims to pay attention to and monitor all aspects of experience as they come up, without judgement or attachment. An example would be feeling the sensation of the seat beneath you while meditating.</p> <p>In focused attention meditation, attention is focused and sustained <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16536641">on a particular object</a> and brought back to the object when the mind has wandered. In this way, the meditator is controlling their own attention. The object the person focuses on may be the breath, a mantra, visualisation, a part of the body, or an external object. Each time the meditator notices that their attention wanders, they actively bring it back to their object of attention.</p> <p>Automatic self-transcending involves the use of a mantra, usually Sanskrit sounds, which the meditator can attend to without effort or concentration. The aim is that the mantra becomes secondary and ultimately disappears as self-awareness increases. In automatic self-transcending meditation, the mind should be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20167507">free from focus</a> and mental effort. It is practised for 15–20 minutes twice a day while sitting with closed eyes.</p> <p><strong>What the evidence says</strong></p> <p>We found that meditation and yoga reduce diastolic blood pressure (the lower range) by 3-8 millimetres of mercury (mmHg), compared with people who engaged in another activity, such as aerobic exercise or relaxation.</p> <p>Both focused attention and automatic self-transcending meditation styles, as well as yoga, reduced systolic blood pressure (the upper range) by 4-5mmHg, compared with people who were not practising any kind of meditation or yoga. This is important because reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure of as little as two mmHg can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24585007">reduce the incidence</a> of heart disease and stroke.</p> <p>Open monitoring and focused attention meditation and yoga reduced heart rate by three to four beats per minute. This is similar to the effects of aerobic exercise, which <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2094526/">reduced heart rate</a> by five beats per minute in one study.</p> <p>Focused attention meditations and yoga both decreased measures of cortisol.</p> <p>Our findings indicate that all forms of meditation studied reduce physiological stress markers in one way or another, and therefore, all forms are likely beneficial in managing stress.</p> <p>In terms of deciding what form is best for reducing stress, we would suggest practising a form that is enjoyable and therefore you will practise regularly and in an ongoing manner.</p> <p>While understanding the different types of meditation is useful, meditation classifications <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20167507">should not be considered</a> to be mutually exclusive, either within a single meditation session or over a lifetime of practice. Most meditative techniques lie <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2001-16215-001">somewhere on a continuum</a> between open monitoring and focused attention types.</p> <p><em>Written by Michaela Pascoe. Republished with permission of <a href="http://theconversation.com/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Conversation.</span><img width="1" height="1" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/97777/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-advanced" alt="The Conversation" 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;"/></strong></a></em></p>

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13 simple ways to improve your self-esteem

<p><em><strong>Susie Moore is a life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. </strong></em></p> <p>Good self-esteem helps you make sound choices, have a healthy regard for your wellbeing and live authentically.</p> <p>And it's not defined by a six-pack, a six-figure career, or a feel-good buzz after six beers. It's deeper. It's how you feel about you.</p> <p>Sadly, many of us sabotage our self-esteem unconsciously (and then wonder why we feel bad).</p> <p>Could you be holding yourself back?</p> <p><strong>1. Don't obsess over mistakes</strong></p> <p>So, you were underprepared for a meeting two months ago. Or you made an insensitive comment to a friend. Maybe you have credit card debt you feel shame over. That's OK. Fix what you can. Move on. Learn. Live in the now.</p> <p>2. Stop hanging out with people out of loyalty instead of intention</p> <p>Are you hanging out with people because they'd be offended if you didn't? That's the worst reason to maintain a friendship. Your crew should inspire and uplift you, and when you tell them your life goals, they should encourage you every step of the way.</p> <p><strong>3. Start employing your secret talents</strong></p> <p>Gifts you stop using (writing, teaching, designing, the list goes on...) will make you miserable over time. Your skills exist to be used and to bring joy to everyone who encounters them. They can even make a sweet side hustle.</p> <p><strong>4. Put yourself first</strong></p> <p>Just say "no" three times this week. Try it out. "No" is the magical word you've been waiting for – don't waste a self-esteem-destroying second feeling guilty about not people-pleasing.</p> <p><strong>5. Eat food that makes you feel good</strong></p> <p>I love a dollar menu, don't get me wrong. But how we eat is also a reflection of how we love our bodies. Are you cheaping out on yourself for no reason? Splurge on the incredibly fresh-tasting organic tomatoes. Heck – go for the second least expensive white wine on the menu the next time you go for dinner. Mini upgrades like this go a long way!</p> <p><strong>6. Quit trying to keep up with the 'cool crowd'</strong></p> <p>Be honest. Who are you trying to please? I know a girl who just bought a $200 sweater to impress a new friend at work when she had a house party. No-one noticed the sweater, and now she's $200 poorer. The cool crowd is an illusion because it changes constantly. Buy stuff because you need it, and/or it brings you joy – and for no other reason.</p> <p><strong>7. Stop procrastinating</strong></p> <p>Procrastination is directly related to our feelings of self-worth. Why use delay tactics on something that will bring you good? Get busy and stop sabotaging yourself. What are you waiting for, exactly? It's never the "right time".</p> <p><strong>8. Give yourself permission to walk away</strong></p> <p>Who do you need to leave? Change can be scary, yes – but nothing changes if nothing changes.</p> <p><strong>9. Ask for more</strong></p> <p>People who ask, get. It's that simple. But if you don't feel deserving, you're probably not asking enough. What can you test? Asking for a favour from a friend? Asking for an overdue raise? Asking for help at work? There's strength (and results) in asking.</p> <p><strong>10. Don't blame-shift</strong></p> <p>Who are you blaming, when you should really be being accountable to yourself? Accountability and responsibility always feel far stronger and empowering in the long term.</p> <p><strong>11. Stop believing you're not ready</strong></p> <p>Hey, guess what? You're dying. Yep. Every day you go to bed, it's one less of your total days here on Earth. You were born ready. This is all temporary. Do the damn thing.</p> <p><strong>12. Avoid criticising others</strong></p> <p>It doesn't really feel good, does it? That's because we do it when we're feeling bad about ourselves. It's a reflection of us. Can you try and halt it, even for a week?</p> <p><strong>13. Remember self-compassion</strong></p> <p>Self-compassion actually matters more than self-esteem. It's about being kind to yourself no matter what. And that means being patient, loving and accepting of yourself even if you tick off every single one of the mistakes on this list.</p> <p>Try approving of yourself a bit more. Remember what you like about yourself: "I'm good at things! I'm a decent cook! I do a badass tripod headstand! I'm not perfect in my marriage, but I'm loving and committed. I deserve good things in my life."</p> <p>Notice what's going right and what feels good upon reflection and see what happens. Then this new compassion toward the self? If you keep it up just a little, your self-esteem will take care of itself.</p> <p><em>Written by Susie Moore. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz.</span></strong></a></em></p>

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5 types of food to increase your psychological wellbeing

<p><em><strong>Megan Lee is an academic tutor and lecturer at the Southern Cross University and Joanna Bradbury is a lecturer in Evidence Based Health Care at the Southern Cross University.</strong></em></p> <p>We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28427311">decrease our risk of developing</a> diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26317148">decrease our risk of depression and anxiety</a>.</p> <p>Mental health disorders are increasing at an alarming rate and therapies and medications cost <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673613616116">$US2.5 trillion dollars a year globally</a>.</p> <p>There is now evidence <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28431261">dietary changes</a> can decrease the development of mental health issues and alleviate this growing burden. <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2018/208/4/royal-australian-and-new-zealand-college-psychiatrists-clinical-practice">Australia’s clinical guidelines</a> recommend addressing diet when treating depression.</p> <p>Recently there have been <a href="https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y">major advances</a> addressing the influence certain foods have on psychological wellbeing. Increasing these nutrients could not only increase personal wellbeing but could also decrease the cost of mental health issues all around the world.</p> <p><strong>1. Complex carbohydrates</strong></p> <p>One way to increase psychological wellbeing is by <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26109579">fuelling brain cells correctly</a></span> through the carbohydrates in our food. Complex carbohydrates are sugars made up of large molecules contained within fibre and starch. They are found in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains and are beneficial for brain health as they <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24020691">release glucose slowly into our system</a></span>. This helps stabilise our mood.</p> <p>Simple carbohydrates found in sugary snacks and drinks create sugar highs and lows that rapidly increase and decrease feelings of happiness and produce a <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12415536">negative effect</a></span> on our psychological well-being.</p> <p>We often use these types of sugary foods to comfort us when we’re feeling down. But this can create an <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-05649-7">addiction-like response in the brain</a></span>, similar to illicit drugs that increase mood for the short term but have negative long-term effects.</p> <p>Increasing your intake of complex carbohydrates and decreasing sugary drinks and snacks could be the first step in increased happiness and wellbeing.</p> <p><strong>2. Antioxidants</strong></p> <p>Oxidation is a normal process our cells carry out to function. Oxidation produces energy for our body and brain. Unfortunately, this process also creates <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4290164/">oxidative stress</a> and more of this happens in the brain than any other part of the body.</p> <p>Chemicals that promote happiness in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin are reduced due to oxidation and this can contribute to a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29215971">decrease in mental health</a>. Antioxidants found in brightly coloured foods such as fruit and vegetables act as a defence against oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain and body.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29339318">Antioxidants</a> also repair oxidative damage and scavenge free radicals that cause cell damage in the brain. Eating more antioxidant-rich foods can increase the feelgood chemicals in our brain and heighten mood.</p> <p><strong>3. Omega 3</strong></p> <p>Omega 3 are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are involved in the process of converting food into energy. They are important for the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21279554">health of the brain</a> and the communication of its feelgood chemicals dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.</p> <p>Omega 3 fatty acids are commonly found in oily fish, nuts, seeds, leafy vegetables, eggs and in grass-fed meats. Omega 3 has been found to increase <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21279554">brain functioning</a>, can slow down the progression of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27063583">dementia</a> and may improve symptoms of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29215971">depression</a>.</p> <p>Omega 3 are essential nutrients that are not readily produced by the body and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21279554">can only be found in the foods we eat</a>, so it’s imperative we include more foods high in omega 3 in our everyday diet.</p> <p><strong>4. B vitamins</strong></p> <p>B vitamins play a large role in the production of our brain’s happiness chemicals serotonin and dopamine and can be found in green vegetables, beans, bananas and beetroot. High amounts of vitamins B6, B12 and folate in the diet have been known to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22251911">protect against depression</a> and too low amounts to increase the severity of symptoms.</p> <p>Vitamin B deficiency can result in a reduced production of happiness chemicals in our brain and can lead to the onset of low mood that could lead to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25644193">mental health issues</a> over a long period. Increasing B vitamins in our diet could increase the production of the feelgood chemicals in our brain which promote happiness and wellbeing.</p> <p><strong>5. Prebiotics and probiotics</strong></p> <p>The trillions of <a href="https://jphysiolanthropol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40101-016-0101-y">good and bad bacteria</a> living in our tummies also influence our mood, behaviour and brain health. Chemical messengers produced in our stomach <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27466606">influence our emotions, appetite and our reactions</a> to stressful situations.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27509521">Prebiotics and probiotics</a> found in yoghurt, cheese and fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi work on the same pathways in the brain as antidepressant medications and studies have found they might have <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27466606">similar effects</a>.</p> <p>Prebiotics and Probiotics have been found to suppress <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26645350">immune reactions</a> in the body, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23474283">reduce inflammation in the brain</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24888394">decrease depressed and anxious states</a> and <a href="https://jphysiolanthropol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40101-016-0101-y">elevate happy emotions</a>.</p> <p>Incorporating these foods into our diet will not only increase our physical health but will have beneficial effects on our <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24468939">mental health, including</a> reducing our risk of disorders such as depression and anxiety.</p> <p><em>Written by Megan Lee and Joanne Bradbury. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.theconversation.com" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Conversation.</span><img width="1" height="1" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/101818/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-advanced" alt="The Conversation" 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;"/></strong></a></em></p>

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Prince William gets candid about his mental health struggles

<p>Although he has grown up in front of the world and is second-in-line to the British throne, Prince William has candidly opened up about his own struggles with his mental health.</p> <p>The Duke of Cambridge vulnerably discussed his experience while launching a website that aims to improve mental health in the workplace. </p> <p>William partnered with the initiative after hearing that only two per cent of employees in Britain feel comfortable discussing their mental health to their HR departments.</p> <p>Recalling his time as an air ambulance pilot, William explained: “I took a lot home without realising it. You see [so] many sad things every day that you think life is like that."</p> <p>The royal spent two years as an East Anglian Air Ambulance pilot and admitted that while serving, he battled to deal with the emotions that were impacting his personal life.</p> <p>"You're always dealing with despair and sadness and injury,” he continued.</p> <p>"The attrition builds up and you never really have the opportunity to offload anything if you're not careful.”</p> <p>William explained that many who are struggling with their mental health are “suffering in silence” due to the lack of resources available.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">"If we are going to improve the mental health of our nation, we need to improve things at work.<br /><br />People spend more time there than almost anywhere else, yet research shows that it's also the place where we're least comfortable talking about mental health." <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MentalHealthatWork?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MentalHealthatWork</a> <a href="https://t.co/v3Cv6Nn1xy">pic.twitter.com/v3Cv6Nn1xy</a></p> — Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) <a href="https://twitter.com/KensingtonRoyal/status/1039527432519340032?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 11, 2018</a></blockquote> <p>"You're human and a lot of people forget the battles, you have shut it off to do the job—but ultimately something pierces the armour," he noted.</p> <p>Prince William, Duchess Kate and Prince Harry first became mental health ambassadors when they launched Heads Together in 2016.</p> <p>The website William launched, Mental Health at Work, is a free portal for employers and employees in the UK where they can access resources on mental health.</p> <p>Earlier this year in March, the 36-year-old expressed his determination to end the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace.</p> <p>"Just starting a conversation on mental health can make all the difference," Prince William said at the time.</p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p>"When you talk about something you have less reason to fear it and when you can talk about something you are much more likely to ask for help."</p> <p>Yesterday, he emphasised his view once again, saying: "It just takes one person to change the way a company thinks about mental health."</p>

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Why my trip back home unexpectedly filled me with pain and confusion

<p><strong><em>Ray Thomas left his family farm in South Australia when he was in his 20s and moved to New Zealand. He has always loved writing short stories and watching sport. He married an amazing woman 16 years ago and they both retired three years ago. They love family life, travelling, spending time in their large garden and fostering young children.</em></strong></p> <p>It all began innocently and without warning. On a recent trip to my home state of South Australia, I had visited a niece and her family, and then my older sister, in the same day. Surrounded by the once familiar countryside, now almost drought-like after months of virtually no rain, pain and confusion slowly began to build within me. Initially, it felt like a small fire that I thought would soon burn itself out.</p> <p>After spending time with family, I began to realise the importance of being around family members. It started simply by talking about family members and loved ones, both past and present, which were reinforced when looking at old photos. Memories of family members I had not thought about for decades suddenly became very real, and for some reason, extremely important to me.</p> <p>Why now? Why after leaving the country of my birth more than 45 years ago? I didn’t have the answers, and to this day I still haven’t, but I knew the confusion to be real, the pain had not yet set in.</p> <p>Little did I know that during the remainder of the trip, the fire would not extinguish. Rather, it was like a wind had caught it and began to totally consume me. Staying with very dear and close friends, and spending time around my beautiful home city of Adelaide, did nothing to quell the fire. In fact it only inflamed it even further.</p> <p>A short time later, we were staying at my brother’s house at Port Elliot, and spent many happy days there, and nearby Victor Harbour, both places I knew really well and enjoyed. It was here that the pain began. The pain of possibly never again spending time in that part of the state with its magnificent scenery and memories was very real.</p> <p>Then we visited my parent’s graves at Mundalla and a chance to “talk” to them and former friends/neighbour who are resting nearby. Suddenly, an absolute realisation I was home and the pain and confusion really began which I could not understand but knew to be genuine and real. Now, I knew and accepted that the bushfire which had been burning strongly within me was totally real which while being frightening at times, also contained a sense of inner peace. Several precious days with my elderly, frail brother, his amazing wife and several members of their family, capped off an amazing trip.</p> <p>Upon returning to New Zealand, I have accepted the trip had a profound effect on me, left me feeling confused, with a very strong sense of being called home. The pain of wanting to return home is palpable, as is the confusion of knowing what to do next.</p> <p>Do I allow time to take its course, with the possibility that the strong feelings will disappear? I sense not, but this is a remote possibility.</p> <p>What I would like to do, is not rational, and totally unfair on my amazing wife. I could visualise us buying a house in Victor Harbour close to, or with views of the beach. A house with a large garden, because we both love gardening, would be ideal for us. We would obtain a cute, little dog which we would take for daily walks, along the many beautiful, picturesque walkways.</p> <p>However, realistically at our age to suddenly move to another country with all the associated issues involved with shifting, and adjusting to the scorching summer heat would be difficult, but problems we could overcome. The biggest issue for my wife would be moving away from her very close family, friends which would not be fair on her. As much as I would love to return to live, realistically I have to acknowledge that it is highly unlikely to happen.</p> <p>So what options do I have? There are several, but none that totally resolve the problem. Until this has happened, with me being an Aussie but now married and happily living in NZ has never been an issue, but now it is. I love everything about New Zealand. Over the years, it has been very good to me, including marrying my amazing wife. I love the magnificent scenery the snow-capped mountains during the winter time, the lakes and the comparative short distances between towns and cities.</p> <p>Driving across the South Island is approximately the same as driving from Adelaide-Bordertown. To drive from one end of the island to the other takes approximately the same amount of time of driving from Melbourne-Sydney. There is nothing NOT to love about this beautiful country, but it is NOT home. I usually describe Australia, in a general sense, as being “too flat, too dry, too boring, you travel great distances, to get anywhere”, but it is ultimately home.</p> <p>Many years ago, I purchased a plot at the local cemetery, near to where my wife will lay next to her first husband… the “love of her life” and the father of their two incredible children. The thought of resting reasonably close together has always been comforting for both of us. Now, however the pain and confusion becomes very real, not only to me, but my amazing wife.</p> <p>Do I forsake that or consider the option of having my ashes returned home to be close to loved family members? The thought of not being with my wife pains me a great deal, as does the thought of not returning home and being close to family.</p> <p>I have discussed my pain and confusion with her, and although she has not said a great deal, and doesn’t want to influence my decision, I sense she understands my desire to return home but saddened that after countless years of happy marriage, our final resting places may be separated by a great distance, rather than the close proximity we had always envisaged.</p> <p>With time, hopefully I will obtain total clarity and know what to do. Thereby my pain and confusion will cease, and allow my fantastic wife and I to live our (hopefully) long and precious lives together.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">A few weeks later</span></p> <p>Time is not necessarily a great healer, but it does allow a chance to reflect. At the time, my pain and confusion was very real, to the point that it was affecting me mentally, and physically.</p> <p>I have looked at possible alternatives regarding my burial, but have decided to not pursue that, at least for now, because it is too painful to think about and where there seems to be no perfect solution.</p> <p>It has become obvious, that returning to South Australia to live is no longer a viable alternative. The time has come, not to entirely forget about the pain and confusion, but not allow it to totally consume me, like it did for several painful weeks.</p> <p>I have needed a distraction, something else to focus my life on, and with the help of my amazing wife, we are about to do just that. We are both excited about what the future holds for us.</p>

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Why all seniors should play computer games

<p>As a woman who is almost 70 years old, I have not kept up with technology at the rate that I would have liked. I have, however, discovered a couple of games on my laptop or phone that I enjoy playing. One is called <em>Words with Friends</em> and follows the principles of <em>Scrabble</em>. And I love words! </p> <p>After watching my mother slowly decline cognitively with Alzheimer’s, I am conscious of maintaining my brain power, and what better way than a fun game?</p> <p>There is another bonus to playing <em>Words with Friends </em>(<em>WwF</em>)<em>, </em>and that is staying in touch (in a superficial sort of way) with people on a daily basis. I find this comforting since retiring from a varied career in education which spanned 44 years. I have a close friend, Teresa, who lives in the country about a two hour drive from where I live in Melbourne. Teresa’s husband of 32 years died suddenly three years ago, only two months after my best friend died of cancer. I spent time with Teresa at her beautiful property, supporting her in her grief and helping conduct the memorial service to celebrate her husband’s life. I introduced Teresa to <em>WwF</em> at that time and we have played almost daily since then. <em>WwF</em> is fairly easy to keep to a moderate use of time, as I must wait for the other to make their moves before I can play again. I also love playing several games with three local friends and several of my relatives in California.</p> <p>Another computer game I play is <em>Lumosity,</em> a brain training game that addresses such skills as speed, attention, memory, flexibility and problem solving.  <em>Lumosity </em>contains games with only one player versus the electronic game. So, there is no need to wait on another player to repeat the game.   Over time, I found myself self-selecting games that I particularly enjoyed.  I started playing the same two games over and over to try to increase my score.</p> <p>Lately, while playing <em>Lumosity</em> games, I have been reminded of a familiar compulsive behaviour to keep playing the same game.  So, the conversation to myself goes something like this: </p> <p>“OK, you’ve played <em>Train of Thought </em>five times now, so this will be your last game today”.</p> <p>“Oops! I’ve started another game...can’t quit now, this one will be my last game”.  At the end of this game, I hear my mind saying, “just one more...”!</p> <p>Why was this compulsive behaviour familiar to me? For most of my life I have battled serious overeating, favouring sweet foods. That began as a young child. This scourge, which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, was rife with breaking my own promises to myself, mental obsession, and experiencing a compulsion where it seemed I had no choice. The effect, naturally, was weight gain, followed by a rigid regime of dieting... over and over again. I have lost up to 30 kilograms on several occasions (using an array of diets, 12 step programs such as <em>Overeaters Anonymous</em>, hypnotism, numerous counsellors and therapists).</p> <p>So, when I observe the conversation in my mind, “this is your last game now”, I remember the same struggle with, for example, chocolate biscuits. I would eat 3 chocolate biscuits and then put the packet away in the cupboard, saying to myself, “that’s all you need”. I’d return back to the task at hand, but my mind was obsessed with the biscuits. Such messages drifting from my own brain would be, “go ahead, have a couple more. You deserve it. They are so delicious”. Inevitably, I ate the entire packet. Arrgghh!</p> <p>Fortunately, I have controlled the weight gain in the last few years with the help of Bariatric surgery.  I had a lap band fitted a few years ago, which limits the amount of food I can eat. I have learned to eat more slowly, take small bites, and chew thoroughly. I’ve been wearing the same size clothes for 3 years, which seems quite miraculous to me!</p> <p>One of the things these two compulsive behaviours have in common is that I only ever binged on food or <em>Lumosity</em> games when I was alone. It is a secret. Fortunately, I don’t believe there are too many downsides to spending 30-40 minutes a day on playing <em>Lumosity</em> games on my laptop and I am not too worried about it. I am pleased that I am aware of the compulsive behaviours when they creep in and I value my life experience at these times.  So, after playing and replaying <em>Lumosity</em> games for 40 minutes, I take my dog for a walk to the local dog park where she loves socialising with the other dogs. And I make sure I socialise with the other dog owners.</p> <p><em>Laurie Darby was a guest on Insight SBS, which explores video gaming and the impact it can have on Australian’s lives. Watch 8.30pm, August 7, on SBS. </em></p>

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Dr Michael Mosley: 10 steps to a younger brain and sharper memory

<p>Science journalist, author and TV presenter Dr Michael Mosley has shared his ten-point plan with the <em><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5929577/Dr-MICHAEL-MOSLEYs-5-2-diet-recipes.html">Daily Mail</a></span> </strong></em>to keeping a youthful mind, and perhaps even staving off dementia.</p> <p><strong>1. Check how well your brain is ageing</strong></p> <p>Test yourself with Dr Michael Mosley’s own questionnaire to determine your “brain age”. Answer yes or no to following statements:</p> <ul> <li>I eat a mainly Mediterranean- style diet. This is one that is low in sugar and processed foods, but rich in fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, oily fish – such as salmon or mackerel – and olive oil.</li> <li>I’ve been tested and I don’t have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.</li> <li>I don’t smoke.</li> <li>I drink 14 units of alcohol or less a week.</li> <li>I exercise most days.</li> <li>I do something sociable, with friends or family, at least once a week.</li> <li>None of my immediate relatives developed signs of significant memory loss or dementia before the age of 80.</li> <li>I’ve had my blood pressure tested and it is normal.</li> <li>I don’t have any obvious sleep disorders, such as snoring or sleep apnoea, and I get at least seven hours’ sleep every night.</li> <li>I don’t have a significant problem with stress or depression.</li> </ul> <p>Now add up how the number of yes answers you gave, with Dr Mosley’s advice below:</p> <p>0-3: You probably have a brain age that is about ten years more than your actual age. You are at increased risk of early memory loss and developing some form of dementia. You need to work on the sort of lifestyle changes I am about to recommend as soon as possible.</p> <p>4-7: Not bad, but not great. There is still some way to go – and you will benefit from following my advice.</p> <p>8-10: You are doing well, but do keep reading. This article contains further tips on ways to keep your brain young.</p> <p><strong>2. What is your blood sugar level?</strong></p> <p>Having persistently high blood sugar levels is bad for your brain, says Dr Mosely, adding that “being type 2 diabetic adds about ten years to your brain age and doubles your risk of developing dementia.” </p> <p><strong>3. Get some quality shut-eye</strong></p> <p>It’s no surprise getting some quality sleep helps rejuvenate the mind and body. “Scientists have recently discovered that during deep sleep channels open in the brain which flush the toxins out,” writes Dr Mosely.</p> <p><strong>4. Exercise</strong></p> <p>Moving your body is a good way of boosting your brain power. A recent study found that regular walkers have brains that look two years younger than the brains of those who are sedentary.</p> <p><strong>5. Quit your vices</strong></p> <p>If you’re a smoker, the best thing you can do for your brain is to quit. Cutting down on alcohol intake will also help with the guidelines recommending you not drink more than 14 units a week.</p> <p><strong>6. Change your diet</strong></p> <p>Get your brain in tip top shape by changing what you eat – and how you eat. Dr Mosely writes: “Numerous studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is also the ultimate brain diet – the version I advocate is low in starchy, easily digestible carbs, but packed full of disease-fighting vitamins and flavonoids found in olive oil, fish –especially oily varieties – nuts, fruit and vegetables.”</p> <p><strong>7. Test your hearing</strong></p> <p>Going deaf often leads to social isolation, a major risk factor for developing dementia. As humans are social creature, regular social interactions are good for our brains.</p> <p><strong>8. Take up a hobby</strong></p> <p>Learning a new skill does wonders for your brain. <strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/retirement-life/2016/04/5-new-hobbies-to-try-now/">Click here</a></span></strong> for some great suggestions, but anything fun, sociable and a bit mentally demanding will work.</p> <p><strong>9. Feed your gut bacteria</strong></p> <p>Dr Mosely writes: “There is mounting evidence that the microbiome, the 2 lb to 3 lb of microbes that live in our guts, have a profound effect on our mental health. A recent study found that people with Alzheimer’s have much higher levels of bad bacteria that cause inflammation, a process that can lead to dementia, and lower levels of the ‘good guys’, the bacteria that reduce inflammation.”</p> <p><strong>10. Avoid air pollution</strong></p> <p>Researchers from Edinburgh University’s Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre recently reviewed dozens of studies that looked at potential environmental triggers and tentatively concluded that air pollution might be one of them.</p>

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Why it gets harder to sleep as we age

<p><em><strong>Jo Abbott is a Research Fellow and Health Psychologist at Swinburne University of Technology. Imogen Rehm is a PhD Candidate at Swinburne University of Technology.</strong></em></p> <p>Getting a good night’s sleep can be challenging, especially as we age. About <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/foc.7.1.foc98" target="_blank">half of all older adults</a></strong></span> report sleeping difficulties. This can make them more likely to experience physical or mental health conditions, memory problems, and falls, due to poor balance.</p> <p>Older adults also have <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/foc.7.1.foc98" target="_blank">less deep sleep</a></strong></span> than younger people and their sleep is more easily interrupted.</p> <p>As we age, our body clock or “<span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/foc.7.1.foc98" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a></strong></span>” change. We have a less consistent pattern of feeling sleepy and awake. We also feel sleepy earlier in the evenings and wake up earlier in the mornings.</p> <p>Medical conditions commonly experienced in later life, and the medication used to treat, them can also <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/foc.7.1.foc98" target="_blank">interfere</a></strong></span> with sleep.</p> <p>Treatments for sleeping difficulties include medication for short-term relief and psychological treatments such as <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-insomnia-and-what-can-you-do-about-it-36365" target="_blank">cognitive behaviour therapy</a></strong></span> (CBT). CBT helps people to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that contribute to poor sleep.</p> <p>While CBT is <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15451764" target="_blank">very effective</a></strong></span> for clinically diagnosed insomnia, not everyone with milder sleeping difficulties needs such an intensive treatment. For some people, sleep quality can be improved by learning <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1983-33264-001" target="_blank">relaxation</a></strong></span> to reduce physical tension and worry.</p> <p>Another approach that is <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18005910" target="_blank">showing promise</a></strong></span> for improving sleep is to learn mindfulness.</p> <p><strong>What is mindfulness?</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://theconversation.com/meditation-mindfulness-and-mind-emptiness-21291" target="_blank">Mindfulness</a></strong></span> involves deliberately focusing on what we are experiencing, thinking or feeling in the present moment, without negatively judging our experiences. We can learn mindfulness by becoming more aware of where we are focusing our attention.</p> <p>Mindfulness is the opposite to absentmindedness or being on “auto pilot”, like when you read a book and realise you haven’t paid attention to what was written on the last few pages because you were distracted by planning tomorrow’s activities.</p> <p>Mindfulness also involves deliberately focusing on things we don’t normally pay much attention to. You may have experienced mindfulness when you’ve listened intently to a favourite piece of music and deliberately turned your attention to the sound of just one instrument.</p> <p><strong>How can mindfulness help sleep?</strong></p> <p>The findings of a <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2110998" target="_blank">recently published research study</a></strong></span>, led by David Black from the University of Southern California, suggest that practising mindfulness might be particularly helpful for improving sleep quality in adults aged 55 years or older with mild sleeping difficulties.</p> <p>The mindfulness program involved taking part in six two-hour group classes and between five and 20 minutes a day of home practice.</p> <p>The researchers found that adults who completed a structured mindfulness program showed greater improvements in sleep quality than adults who completed a program that taught them good “<span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/fact-sheets-a-z/187-good-sleep-habits.html" target="_blank">sleep hygiene</a></strong></span>” habits.</p> <p>Counter-intuitively, the way that mindfulness may influence sleep is not directly through relaxation, because mindfulness is about waking the body up and becoming more aware. By learning to become more aware of present-moment experiences, we learn not to react to thoughts and worries that can interfere with sleep.</p> <p>We still don’t know exactly how much and what type of mindfulness practice is needed before a person notices improvements to their sleep. But research suggests that regular practice activates the <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://monash.edu/counselling/docs/what-is-mindfulness.pdf" target="_blank">parts of the brain</a></strong></span> that help us experience our environment through our senses rather than through thoughts and worries.</p> <p><strong>Tips for practising mindfulness</strong></p> <p>Practise mindfulness regularly, in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. It’s best to learn mindfulness outside of the bedroom because to learn the skill, you first need to learn to pay more attention to your present-moment experiences rather than to go to sleep.</p> <p>There are a number of ways to start to practising mindfulness:</p> <ul> <li>Listen to a mindfulness meditation CD, MP4 audio or a mindfulness app</li> <li>Take part in activities that encourage mindfulness, such as yoga, pilates, walking, tai chi or running</li> <li>Undertake daily activities, such as cleaning your teeth or washing the dishes, in a mindful way by focusing on the experience of doing the activity</li> <li>Enjoy the experience of eating in a mindful way by using all of your senses and keeping your attention on the food.</li> </ul> <p>Try not to pressure yourself to get the hang of mindfulness straight away. The goal of mindfulness it to not judge your experiences. If you notice your attention straying you can gently bring your attention to what you are focusing on, such as your breath.</p> <p>Do you agree with this advice?</p> <p><em>Written by Jo Abbott and Imogen Rehm. Republished with permission of <a href="http://theconversation.com/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Conversation</span></strong></a>.</em><img width="1" height="1" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/37756/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-advanced" alt="The Conversation"/></p>

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Why you should investigate your family tree

<p>I believe existential wellbeing are fancy words for why we are here, and how we fit in. French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre described existence before essence and discussed the concepts of Being and Nothingness; he also wrote the fascinating <em>The Imaginary: A Phenomenological Psychology of the Imagination</em> which helped me understand what it means to be human and how we relate to the world.</p> <p>Standing in a graveyard in Dumbarton, Scotland beside the graves of your grandfather and great grandparents is a good place for me to contemplate my existential wellbeing and where I fit in the world and the continuum of time. It's also a bit spooky seeing my name and those of two of my children on a gravestone. I'm glad it's daylight. My son is the fifth Thomas Mulholland in a row and having that succession does contribute in a small part to one's existential wellbeing – if you want it to.</p> <p>Life is a treasure hunt, if you want to see it that way, and tracing your ancestors can be like that. A quick trip to the genealogy society in Edinburgh reveals what I had known that my great grandfather's father had jumped ship from Belfast to Glasgow, presumably to escape the great hunger in Ireland.</p> <p>So, I am on my first trip to Belfast, and the origin of the Mulhollands stirs up genetic memory and an existential blush. The locals are keen to meet us and greet us like long lost cousins as we track our family name and places of interest, like the giant Mulholland grand organ in the Ulster Hall. A trip through the troubled parts that divide Shankill Rd and The Falls and the divide between Protestant and Catholic is palpable as the Peace wall and colourful murals that celebrate the Struggles. We are all wired differently and some of us can add to our wellbeing bank account by taking an interest in our genealogy - the struggles and triumphs of our forebears give us perspective. In many cultures it is normal to pay respect to our tupuna and hold on to the belief that they walk with us. The fact that my grandmother was a Protestant and my grandfather was a Catholic makes the divides in Belfast and Glasgow even more relevant.</p> <p>I recently read that the number of habitable planets is exponentially more than we thought. The size of the universe to me is incomprehensible. So, to anchor yourself to space and time I suggest tracing your family tree, if you haven't already. If you are lucky enough to have living ancestors take an oral history and get to understand your existence before your essence. Dip into a bit of philosophy and the works of Sartre, it makes for interesting reading to add to the works of Facebook and Stuff.</p> <p>Use the psychology of your imagination to track your forebears and maybe embark on an adventure where you can visit where they were born, where they lived and where they died.</p> <p>Have you looked into your family tree?</p> <p><em>Written by Dr Tom Mulholland. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz</span></strong></a>.</em></p>

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Eating eggs will make you a nicer person

<p>A study has found that eating eggs activates serotonin – the happy hormone. And furthermore, it can turn you into, well, a good egg as it might also activate your charity instinct.</p> <p>In an unusual study, researchers decided to find out how much more charitable we become after eating eggs.</p> <p>The researchers already knew that serotonin not only helps to maintain mood balance and our sense of happiness but it’s also associated with social behaviour – acts of generosity and kindness, for instance.</p> <p>Those behind the study also knew that an amino acid, called tryptophan (TRP) – found in whole eggs, poultry, beans, oats, fish, cheese, tofu, seeds and nuts – converts into serotonin in the body.</p> <p>The researchers from Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition in The Netherlands have now found out that eating foods full of tryptophan can increase our willingness to give to charity by as much as double. </p> <p>“For the first time, we investigated whether the administration of a compound contained in food such as fish, eggs, soy and milk, can promote charitable donating,” said the Dutch authors.</p> <p>“Our study is the first demonstration that charitable donating can be enhanced by serotonin-related food supplements.”</p> <p>The team behind the study took 32 healthy students and gave half the group a placebo and the other half the equivalent TRP of three eggs. </p> <p>All participants were instructed not to eat or drink anything other than water the night before the experiment mornings. They were also required to refrain from alcohol or drug use for the duration of the study's period.</p> <p>The students were given $15 each for their participation in the study and were asked whether they would like to leave any of their reward to charity. </p> <p>Those who took the TRP donated, on average, double the amount donated by the placebo participants. </p> <p>The study was admittedly small and the authors acknowledged that more research was needed to see if the results could be replicated. </p> <p>Their results however, support the idea that “you are what you eat”, they said.</p> <p>“[This is] the idea that the food one eats has a bearing on one's state of mind,” the authors concluded.</p> <p>“The food we eat may thus act as a cognitive enhancer that modulates the way we deal with the ‘social’ world.”</p>

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Why you should check your heart if you're depressed

<p><em><strong>Jennifer Welsh, PhD Candidate, Australian National University and Ellie Paige, Research Fellow, Australian National University, explain why you should check your heart if you’re depressed.</strong></em></p> <p>Some people say depression leads to a broken heart. It’s a catchy expression, but is it really true?</p> <p>There is certainly a link between <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression" target="_blank">depression</a></strong></span> and <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/heart-conditions/what-is-coronary-heart-disease" target="_blank">heart disease</a></strong></span>, the most common cause of a heart attack. People with depression are <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-014-0371-z" target="_blank">30% more likely</a></strong></span> to develop heart disease than those without it.</p> <p>It seems logical then that depression could, quite literally, break your heart.</p> <p>However, our <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://jech.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/jech-2017-209535" target="_blank">new research</a></strong></span> suggests rather than cause heart disease, depression in people aged 45 or older can signal the early signs of the disease and the need for a heart check.</p> <p><strong>How are depression and heart disease linked?</strong></p> <p>To say one thing causes another, we first need to understand how the two things are linked, including which comes first.</p> <p>Does depression lead to an event like a heart attack? Or are there early signs of heart disease – which make people much more likely to have a heart event – that lead to depression?</p> <p>We know depression has physical effects on the body, some of which may <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12667498" target="_blank">harm the heart</a></strong></span>. Depression can increase inflammation, heart rate and blood pressure, all of which are involved in developing heart disease.</p> <p>However, it’s also true people with early heart disease can feel physically lousy long before a life threatening heart event.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://annals.org/aim/article/2478157" target="_blank">Half</a></strong></span> of people who survive a heart attack say they had heart disease symptoms leading up to it. The most common <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0075589/" target="_blank">early signs</a></strong></span> were fatigue, shortness of breath and pains in the chest, arm, neck or back. If experienced for long periods of time these symptoms can leave a person feeling depressed.</p> <p>Depression can also be linked to heart disease through <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/keep-your-heart-healthy" target="_blank">behaviours and other chronic diseases</a></strong></span>. Smoking, not exercising enough, heavy drinking and poor diet, and chronic conditions like diabetes, are all <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18291294" target="_blank">more common</a></strong></span> in people with depression. These are all also factors involved in developing heart disease.</p> <p>So before we can claim depression breaks your heart, we must account for the fact some behaviours and chronic diseases are more common in this group, and some people may have depression because of the early signs of heart disease.</p> <p>This is exactly what <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://jech.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/jech-2017-209535" target="_blank">our study</a></strong></span> did.</p> <p><strong>What our study found</strong></p> <p>We used data from more than 150,000 people <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.saxinstitute.org.au/our-work/45-up-study/" target="_blank">45 years or older</a></strong></span> who had not already had a heart attack or stroke.</p> <p>At the start of the study people reported their level of <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety-and-depression-checklist-k10" target="_blank">psychological distress</a></strong></span>, a commonly used measure of symptoms of depression and anxiety. We then followed them over five years to see how many developed heart disease.</p> <p>People with the highest levels of psychological distress were 70% more likely to go on to have a heart event (like a heart attack) within the next few years than people with the lowest levels of psychological distress.</p> <p>After taking smoking, exercise, alcohol, weight and diabetes into account, this dropped to just 40%.</p> <p>When we excluded people with early signs of heart disease, there was little evidence psychological distress increased the risk of developing heart disease at all.</p> <p>This suggests it’s more helpful to view depression as something that signals a <em>higher risk</em> of heart disease, rather than as a <em>direct cause</em> of the disease.</p> <p>This is in line with findings from other <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)01087-9/abstract" target="_blank">large-scale studies</a></strong></span> and <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21256471" target="_blank">robust trials</a></strong></span>. These have found treating depression does not reduce the risk of developing heart disease. If depression caused heart disease, we would have expected treating depression to have reduced the chance of developing heart disease.</p> <p><strong>If you have depression, get a heart check</strong></p> <p>The finding that depression is unlikely to cause heart disease suggests depression in people aged 45 or older might be an important sign of other things going on.</p> <p>If you experience depression, talk to your doctor about it and how <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/treatments-for-depression" target="_blank">treatments can help</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>If you’re 45 or older, while you’re with your doctor, ask for a <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/know-your-risks/heart-health-check" target="_blank">heart check</a></strong></span>. This is the first step to assessing your future risk of heart disease. It also helps your doctor find the best way to lower your risk.</p> <p>What are your thoughts?</p> <p><em>Written by Jennifer Welsh and Ellie Paige. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.theconversation.com" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Conversation</span></strong></a>.</em><img width="1" height="1" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/84283/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-advanced" alt="The Conversation"/></p>

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5 ways to make your brain happy

<p>My ultimate goal in life is to be happy. To be content and satisfied with where I am and what I'm doing at in any given point in time. Easier said than done.</p> <p>Life is notorious for handing out lemons and I've definitely received my fair share. But what if there were things we could do that would instantly boost our mood?</p> <p>Eric Barker from <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2015/12/make-you-happy-3/" target="_blank">Barking Up The Wrong Tree</a></strong></em></span>, recently spoke with Alex Korb, postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience at UCLA, to find out some simple ways to make your brain feel happy.</p> <p><strong>1. Get a good sleep</strong></p> <p>It sounds obvious but shut-eye is super effective at shutting out those inner demons. Power naps, nanna naps or the traditional full night's <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.juicedaily.com.au/fitness/6-yoga-poses-to-help-you-sleep-better/" target="_blank">sleep</a></strong></span>, whatever your method, a good dose of doze will make you feel mighty fine.</p> <p>What does the science say?</p> <p>While we know that depression can negatively impact people's sleep, it also works the other way too: bad sleep also causes depression.</p> <p>According to Korb, studies show that people who suffered from insomnia were much more likely to suffer from depression than those who slept well.   <br /> <br /> <strong>2. Smile</strong></p> <p>If someone tells me to smile when I'm in a bad mood, generally it makes me really goddamn angry. Turns out, however, they might be onto something. Science tells us that the simple act of smiling can make us instantly happier. And it's all because of "biofeedback".</p> <p>"Biofeedback is just the idea that your brain is always sensing what is happening in your body and it reviews that information to decide how it should feel about the world," says Korb.</p> <p>In other words, we can trick our brain into thinking we are happy.</p> <p>"That's part of the 'fake it until you make it' strategy," says Korb. "When your brain senses, 'Oh, I'm frowning,' then it assumes, 'Oh, I must not be feeling positive emotions.' Whereas when it notices you flexing those muscles on the side of the mouth it thinks, 'I must be smiling. Oh, we must be happy'."</p> <p>In fact, Barker <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2012/08/is-a-smile-as-pleasurable-as-2000-bars-of-cho/" target="_blank">writes</a></strong></span> that smiling can give us as much pleasure as 2000 blocks of chocolate (and it won't make you fat).</p> <p>Let's try it together. Relax your face, open your lips slightly, and start to move the corners of your mouth towards your ears. Hold for five seconds. Feeling good?</p> <p><strong>3. Listen to your favourite music</strong></p> <p>They're not called bangers for nothing. Music can instantly lift your mood and transport you back in time. Back to the days when Bomfunk MC used to rock the microphone and your only concern was the contents of your Kinder Surprise.</p> <p>According to Korb, music has the capacity to remind us of previous times because of our brain's <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://psycheducation.org/brain-tours/memory-learning-and-emotion-the-hippocampus/" target="_blank">limbic system</a></strong></span>, which is responsible for transferring information into memory. The main location where this transfer occurs is called the hippocampus, which is a portion of the temporal lobe.</p> <p>For example, many people say that their wedding was the "happiest day of my life". If they start listening to songs from that day, it can evoke the same joyful feelings they experienced. It's known as "context dependent memory".</p> <p>If you find the scientific terms a bit boggling, here is a simple equation that could help.</p> <p>Hippocampus + hip-hop = happy. Simple.</p> <p><strong>4. Think about your goals</strong></p> <p>Like, really think about them. What are your dreams? How do they make you feel? When do you want to achieve them? And why do they matter to you?</p> <p>When you're feeling down, thinking about your goals prompts your brain to release dopamine which can make you feel more motivated and in control.</p> <p>"The goals and intentions that you set in your prefrontal cortex change the way that your brain perceives the world," says Korb.</p> <p>Thinking about your goals can actually make it feel rewarding to be doing homework instead of going to the party, he says. "…your brain is like, 'Oh yeah. I'm working towards that goal. I'm accomplishing something that's meaningful to me," says Korb.</p> <p>"Then that can start to release dopamine in the nucleus accumbens and that can start to make you feel better about what you're doing."</p> <p><strong>5. Don't procrastinate</strong></p> <p>If you like feeling sad, stressed out and full of self-loathing then procrastination is your best friend. If, on the other hand, you prefer to feel calm and in control, it's time to get off <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://procatinator.com/" target="_blank">procatinator</a></strong></span> (I know.. it's rough) and get started on your goals.</p> <p>Procrastination is essentially a bad habit. There are three parts of your brain that control decision making: <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2015/12/make-you-happy-3/" target="_blank">the prefrontal cortex, the dorsal striatum and the nucleus accumbens</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>There's no need to get into the nitty gritty, but basically the second two are the guys responsible for procrastination. The prefrontal cortex, on the other hand, is the vigilant one. He's the guy that will help you achieve your goals.</p> <p>More often than not, we let the dorsal striatum and the nucleus accumbens overrule the prefrontal cortex because they give us instant gratification.</p> <p>It is possible, however, to retrain our brains. According to Korb, when we exert effort the prefrontal cortex can trump the other two. Do it regularly enough and we can rewire the dorsal striatum to replace old bad habits with good ones.</p> <p>The best way to retrain is to <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.juicedaily.com.au/spirit/how-i-finally-quit-making-excuses-and-got-healthy-habits-to-stick/" target="_blank">start small</a></strong></span>, says Korb. When we get stressed the prefrontal cortex goes offline and we fall back into old habits.</p> <p>"Instead of getting overwhelmed, ask yourself, 'What's one little thing that I could do now that would move me toward this goal I'm trying to accomplish?' Taking one small step toward it can make it start to feel more manageable," said Korb.</p> <p>Will you try these tips?</p> <p><em>Written by Neela Shearer. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz</span></strong></a>.</em></p>

Mind