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Tastes from our past can spark memories, trigger pain or boost wellbeing. Here’s how to embrace food nostalgia

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/megan-lee-490875">Megan Lee</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/doug-angus-1542552">Doug Angus</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-simpson-1542551">Kate Simpson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p>Have you ever tried to bring back fond memories by eating or drinking something unique to that time and place?</p> <p>It could be a Pina Colada that recalls an island holiday? Or a steaming bowl of pho just like the one you had in Vietnam? Perhaps eating a favourite dish reminds you of a lost loved one – like the sticky date pudding Nanna used to make?</p> <p>If you have, you have tapped into <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02699931.2022.2142525">food-evoked nostalgia</a>.</p> <p>As researchers, we are exploring how eating and drinking certain things from your past may be important for your mood and mental health.</p> <h2>Bittersweet longing</h2> <p>First named in 1688 by Swiss medical student, <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/44437799">Johannes Hoffer</a>, <a href="https://compass.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/spc3.12070">nostalgia</a> is that bittersweet, sentimental longing for the past. It is experienced <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2008.00595.x">universally</a> across different cultures and lifespans from childhood into older age.</p> <p>But nostalgia does not just involve positive or happy memories – we can also experience nostalgia for <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2F0022-3514.91.5.975">sad and unhappy moments</a> in our lives.</p> <p>In the <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Femo0000817">short and long term</a>, nostalgia can positively impact our health by improving <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0025167">mood</a> and <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Femo0000817">wellbeing</a>, fostering <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0017597">social connection</a> and increasing quality of life. It can also trigger feelings of <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Femo0000817">loneliness or meaninglessness</a>.</p> <p>We can use nostalgia to <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0025167">turn around a negative mood</a> or enhance our sense of <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Femo0000817">self, meaning and positivity</a>.</p> <p>Research suggests nostalgia alters activity in the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/scan/article/17/12/1131/6585517">brain regions associated with reward processing</a> – the same areas involved when we seek and receive things we like. This could explain the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2352250X22002445?via%3Dihub">positive feelings</a> it can bring.</p> <p>Nostalgia can also increase feelings of loneliness and sadness, particularly if the memories highlight dissatisfaction, grieving, loss, or wistful feelings for the past. This is likely due to activation of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352250X22002445?casa_token=V31ORDWcsx4AAAAA:Vef9hiwUz9506f5PYGsXH-JxCcnsptQnVPNaAGares2xTU5JbKSHakwGpLxSRO2dNckrdFGubA">brain areas</a> such as the amygdala, responsible for processing emotions and the prefrontal cortex that helps us integrate feelings and memories and regulate emotion.</p> <h2>How to get back there</h2> <p>There are several ways we can <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2006-20034-013.html">trigger</a> or tap into nostalgia.</p> <p>Conversations with family and friends who have shared experiences, unique objects like photos, and smells can <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2352250X23000076">transport us back</a> to old times or places. So can a favourite song or old TV show, reunions with former classmates, even social media <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2015/3/24/8284703/facebook-on-this-day-nostalgia-recap">posts and anniversaries</a>.</p> <p>What we eat and drink can trigger <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/QMR-06-2012-0027/full/html">food-evoked nostalgia</a>. For instance, when we think of something as “<a href="https://theconversation.com/health-check-why-do-we-crave-comfort-food-in-winter-118776">comfort food</a>”, there are likely elements of nostalgia at play.</p> <p>Foods you found comforting as a child can evoke memories of being cared for and nurtured by loved ones. The form of these foods and the stories we tell about them may have been handed down through generations.</p> <p>Food-evoked nostalgia can be very powerful because it engages multiple senses: taste, smell, texture, sight and sound. The sense of <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09658211.2013.876048?casa_token=wqShWbRXJaYAAAAA%3AqJabgHtEbPtEQp7qHnl7wOb527bpGxzIJ_JwQX8eAyq1IrM_HQFIng8ELAMyuoFoeZyiX1zeJTPf">smell</a> is closely linked to the limbic system in the brain responsible for emotion and memory making food-related memories particularly vivid and emotionally charged.</p> <p>But, food-evoked nostalgia can also give rise to <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hpja.873">negative memories</a>, such as of being forced to eat a certain vegetable you disliked as a child, or a food eaten during a sad moment like a loved ones funeral. Understanding why these foods <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02699931.2022.2142525?casa_token=16kAPHUQTukAAAAA%3A9IDvre8yUT8UsuiR_ltsG-3qgE2sdkIFgcrdH3T5EYbVEP9JZwPcsbmsPLT6Kch5EFFs9RPsMTNn">evoke negative memories</a> could help us process and overcome some of our adult food aversions. Encountering these foods in a positive light may help us reframe the memory associated with them.</p> <h2>What people told us about food and nostalgia</h2> <p>Recently <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hpja.873">we interviewed eight Australians</a> and asked them about their experiences with food-evoked nostalgia and the influence on their mood. We wanted to find out whether they experienced food-evoked nostalgia and if so, what foods triggered pleasant and unpleasant memories and feelings for them.</p> <p>They reported they could use foods that were linked to times in their past to manipulate and influence their mood. Common foods they described as particularly nostalgia triggering were homemade meals, foods from school camp, cultural and ethnic foods, childhood favourites, comfort foods, special treats and snacks they were allowed as children, and holiday or celebration foods. One participant commented:</p> <blockquote> <p>I guess part of this nostalgia is maybe […] The healing qualities that food has in mental wellbeing. I think food heals for us.</p> </blockquote> <p>Another explained</p> <blockquote> <p>I feel really happy, and I guess fortunate to have these kinds of foods that I can turn to, and they have these memories, and I love the feeling of nostalgia and reminiscing and things that remind me of good times.</p> </blockquote> <p>Understanding food-evoked nostalgia is valuable because it provides us with an insight into how our sensory experiences and emotions intertwine with our memories and identity. While we know a lot about how food triggers nostalgic memories, there is still much to learn about the specific brain areas involved and the differences in food-evoked nostalgia in different cultures.</p> <p>In the future we may be able to use the science behind food-evoked nostalgia to help people experiencing dementia to tap into lost memories or in psychological therapy to help people reframe negative experiences.</p> <p>So, if you are ever feeling a little down and want to improve your mood, consider turning to one of your favourite comfort foods that remind you of home, your loved ones or a holiday long ago. Transporting yourself back to those times could help turn things around.<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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232826/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/megan-lee-490875">Megan Lee</a>, Senior Teaching Fellow, Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/doug-angus-1542552">Doug Angus</a>, Assistant Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-simpson-1542551">Kate Simpson</a>, Sessional academic, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </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/tastes-from-our-past-can-spark-memories-trigger-pain-or-boost-wellbeing-heres-how-to-embrace-food-nostalgia-232826">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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Michael Mosley used science communication to advance health and wellbeing. We can learn a lot from his approach

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kirsten-adlard-684475">Kirsten Adlard</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>Overnight, we learned of the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-06-09/michael-mosley-body-found-greek-island-clare-bailey-mosley/103957382">tragic passing</a> of Michael Mosley, who went missing last week while on holiday on the Greek island of Symi.</p> <p>The British celebrity doctor was a household name in many countries, including Australia. Mosley was well known for his television shows, documentaries, books and columns on healthy eating, weight management, physical activity and sleep.</p> <p>During the days he was missing and once his death was confirmed, media outlets have acknowledged Mosley’s <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/michael-mosley-tv-doctor-death-b2558717.html">career achievements</a>. He is being celebrated for his connection to diverse public audiences and his unrelenting focus on science as the best guide to our daily habits.</p> <h2>From medicine to the media</h2> <p>Mosley was born in India <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/c8770jyz6vvo">in 1957</a> and was sent to England at age seven to attend boarding school. He later studied philosophy, politics and economics at the <a href="https://michaelmosley.co.uk/biog/">University of Oxford</a>. After a short stint in investment banking, Mosley opted to train in medicine at the Royal Free Hospital in London.</p> <p>Rather than forging a career in clinical practice, <a href="https://michaelmosley.co.uk/biog/">Mosley</a> started working at the BBC in 1985 as a trainee assistant producer. In the decades that followed, Mosley continued to work with the BBC as a producer and presenter.</p> <p>Mosley became a popular public figure by applying his medical training to journalism to examine a breadth of health and wellbeing topics. In 1995, following his documentary on <em><a href="https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/baf970949e3a46a992ae52420395a7c2">Helicobacter pylori</a></em>, a bacterium that causes ulcers in the stomach, the British Medical Association named him <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/profiles/2kczjZKp8sGSDxSxKYzxsyr/michael-mosley">medical journalist of the year</a>.</p> <p>His other television work on diet, weight management, exercise and sleep earned him <a href="https://www.emmys.com/bios/michael-mosley">Emmy</a>, <a href="https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0608839/awards/">BAFTA</a> (the British Academy of Film and Television Arts), and <a href="https://rts.org.uk/tags/michael-mosley">Royal Television Society</a> <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/profiles/2kczjZKp8sGSDxSxKYzxsyr/michael-mosley">award nominations</a>.</p> <p>Over the past decade, Mosley published <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/Fast-Diet-Original-Revised-Research/dp/1780722370/ref=sr_1_6?dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.75_akcxo8tanyLrD4CVMwd1lCTliHyckSLPU2W7K4HmdPqRlVqvMbKWKkJ6CPCsrFsAw4Vfw5SWOYkl_Y8ah4yNCSjQksdT3ByCSHhiycNB9AB5h6vVUqB99okxDDWPaXUCwD-CZMzHZDvAjuAotTN">several books</a> on <a href="https://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Fastexercise-Michael-Mosley-Peta-Bee-With/9781476759982?utm_source=googleps&amp;utm_medium=ps&amp;utm_campaign=AU&amp;gad_source=1&amp;gclid=CjwKCAjw34qzBhBmEiwAOUQcF3wd7d1bj8KMFeEtKS6ZU7py5rRzjiycZhcsMbSEQ9lXhjEBcY4GRxoCwgIQAvD_BwE">exercise</a>, <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/8-Week-Blood-Sugar-Diet-Recipe/dp/1925456595/ref=sr_1_7?dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.75_akcxo8tanyLrD4CVMwd1lCTliHyckSLPU2W7K4HmdPqRlVqvMbKWKkJ6CPCsrFsAw4Vfw5SWOYkl_Y8ah4yNCSjQksdT3ByCSHhiycNB9AB5h6vVUqB99okxDDWPaXUCwD-CZMzHZDvAjuAotTNxxkW3">healthy eating</a>, <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/Fast-800-Australian-New-Zealand/dp/B07MPRQWJP/ref=sr_1_8?dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.75_akcxo8tanyLrD4CVMwd1lCTliHyckSLPU2W7K4HmdPqRlVqvMbKWKkJ6CPCsrFsAw4Vfw5SWOYkl_Y8ah4yNCSjQksdT3ByCSHhiycNB9AB5h6vVUqB99okxDDWPaXUCwD-CZMzHZDvAjuAotTNxxkW">intermittent fasting</a>, <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/Weeks-Better-Sleep-life-changing-improved/dp/1761425927/ref=sr_1_1?dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.75_akcxo8tanyLrD4CVMwd1lCTliHyckSLPU2W7K4HmdPqRlVqvMbKWKkJ6CPCsrFsAw4Vfw5SWOYkl_Y8ah4yNCSjQksdT3ByCSHhiycNB9AB5h6vVUqB99okxDDWPaXUCwD-CZMzHZDvAj">sleep</a> and <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/Just-One-Thing-Changes-Transform/dp/B0BJVRP94X/ref=sr_1_9?dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.75_akcxo8tanyLrD4CVMwd1lCTliHyckSLPU2W7K4HmdPqRlVqvMbKWKkJ6CPCsrFsAw4Vfw5SWOYkl_Y8ah4yNCSjQksdT3ByCSHhiycNB9AB5h6vVUqB99okxDDWPaXUCwD-CZMzHZDvAjuAotTNxxk">behaviour change</a>. He sold millions of copies of his books around the world, including at least <a href="https://www.simonandschuster.com.au/p/mosley-1mil-sales">one million</a> in Australia and New Zealand.</p> <p>Alongside his wife, Dr Clare Bailey Mosley, he recently embarked on a <a href="https://michaelmosley.co.uk/live/">live theatre show tour</a>, yet another vehicle to bring his key messages to audiences.</p> <h2>A trusted voice</h2> <p>Mosley became a trusted voice for health and wellbeing throughout his journalistic career. His television program <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04j9gny">Trust Me, I’m a Doctor</a> drew on his medical qualifications to discuss health and wellbeing credibly on a public platform. His medical training also inferred credibility in examining the scientific literature that underpins the topics he was communicating.</p> <p>At the same time, Mosley used simple terminology that captured the attention of diverse audiences.</p> <p>For many of Mosley’s outputs, he used himself as an example. For instance, in his <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09by3yy/episodes/downloads">podcast series</a> Just One Thing and <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/Just-One-Thing-Changes-Transform/dp/B0BJVRP94X/ref=sr_1_9?dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.75_akcxo8tanyLrD4CVMwd1lCTliHyckSLPU2W7K4HmdPqRlVqvMbKWKkJ6CPCsrFsAw4Vfw5SWOYkl_Y8ah4yNCSjQksdT3ByCSHhiycNB9AB5h6vVUqB99okxDDWPaXUCwD-CZMzHZDvAjuAotTNxxk">companion book</a>, Mosley self-tested a range of evidence-based behavioural habits (while also interviewing subject-matter experts), covering topics such as eating slowly, yoga, listening to music, cooking, gardening and drinking green tea.</p> <p>His focus on intermittent fasting and high-intensity training was fuelled by his <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-06-08/how-dr-michael-mosley-popularised-intermittent-fasting/103952408">diagnosis of type 2 diabetes</a>, and his work on sleep health was based on his experience <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/sleep-revolution-michael-mosley/okmv5o7qe">with chronic insomnia</a>.</p> <p>At the most extreme end of the spectrum, Mosley <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-25968755">infested himself with tapeworms</a> in the pursuit of exploring their effects on the human body.</p> <p>By using himself as a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/article/2024/jun/09/michael-mosley-favourite-health-tip-slow-deep-breathing">human guinea pig</a>, he fostered a connection with his audience, showing the <a href="https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-personal-touch-using-anecdotes-to-hook-a-reader">power</a> of personal anecdotes.</p> <h2>Some controversies along the way</h2> <p>Despite his notable career achievements, Mosley received ongoing criticisms about his work due to differing opinions within the medical and scientific communities.</p> <p>One key concern was around his promotion of potentially risky diets such as intermittent fasting and other restrictive diets, including the 5:2 diet and low-carb diets. While <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9946909/">some evidence</a> supports intermittent fasting as a way to improve metabolic health and enable weight management, Mosley was criticised for not fully acknowledging the potential risks of these diets, such as a potential to lead to <a href="https://clindiabetesendo.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40842-023-00152-7">disordered eating</a> habits.</p> <p>His promotion of low-carb diets also raised concerns that his work added to a diet-focused <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/lose-a-stone-in-21-days-channel-4-criticism-eating-disorder-food-relationship-beat-a9656531.html">culture war</a>, ultimately to the detriment of many people’s relationship with food and their bodies.</p> <p>More broadly, in his efforts to make scientific concepts simple and accessible to the general public, Mosley was sometimes criticised for overgeneralising science. The concern was that he didn’t properly discuss the nuance and tension inherent in scientific evidence, thereby providing an incomplete synthesis of the evidence.</p> <p>For example, Mosley conceptualised the <a href="https://thebloodsugardiet.com">blood sugar diet</a> (a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean-style diet), which was <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/health-68452019">criticised</a> for lacking a strong grounding in scientific evidence. Similarly, <a href="https://www.thetimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/article/smoke-and-mirrors-the-truth-about-vaping-nmpf3przr">associating his name with e-cigarettes</a> may have drawn unhelpful attention to the topic, irrespective of the underlying details.</p> <h2>What can we learn from Mosley?</h2> <p>Overall, Mosley has been objectively successful in communicating scientific concepts to large, engaged audiences. Mosley showed us that people want to consume scientific information, whether through the news media, social media, podcasts or books.</p> <p>His passion and persistence in using science to promote health and wellbeing have likely supported public health efforts across the globe.<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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231934/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718"><em>Lauren Ball</em></a><em>, Professor of Community Health and Wellbeing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kirsten-adlard-684475">Kirsten Adlard</a>, Supervisor of Engagement, Communication, and Outreach, Centre for Community Health and Wellbeing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock Editorial </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/michael-mosley-used-science-communication-to-advance-health-and-wellbeing-we-can-learn-a-lot-from-his-approach-231934">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

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War in Ukraine affected wellbeing worldwide, but people’s speed of recovery depended on their personality

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/luke-smillie-7502">Luke Smillie</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>The war in Ukraine has had impacts around the world. <a href="https://mitsloan.mit.edu/ideas-made-to-matter/ripple-effects-russia-ukraine-war-test-global-economies">Supply chains</a> have been disrupted, the <a href="https://news.un.org/pages/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/GCRG_2nd-Brief_Jun8_2022_FINAL.pdf?utm_source=United+Nations&amp;utm_medium=Brief&amp;utm_campaign=Global+Crisis+Response">cost of living</a> has soared and we’ve seen the <a href="https://www.unhcr.org/hk/en/73141-ukraine-fastest-growing-refugee-crisis-in-europe-since-wwii.html">fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II</a>. All of these are in addition to the devastating humanitarian and economic impacts within Ukraine.</p> <p>Our international team was conducting a global study on wellbeing in the lead up to and after the Russian invasion. This provided a unique opportunity to examine the psychological impact of the outbreak of war.</p> <p>As we explain in a new study published in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-024-44693-6">Nature Communications</a>, we learned the toll on people’s wellbeing was evident across nations, not just <a href="https://ijmhs.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13033-023-00598-3">in Ukraine</a>. These effects appear to have been temporary – at least for the average person.</p> <p>But people with certain psychological vulnerabilities struggled to recover from the shock of the war.</p> <h2>Tracking wellbeing during the outbreak of war</h2> <p>People who took part in our study completed a rigorous “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2773515/">experience-sampling</a>” protocol. Specifically, we asked them to report their momentary wellbeing four times per day for a whole month.</p> <p>Data collection began in October 2021 and continued throughout 2022. So we had been tracking wellbeing around the world during the weeks surrounding the outbreak of war in February 2022.</p> <p>We also collected measures of personality, along with various sociodemographic variables (including age, gender, political views). This enabled us to assess whether different people responded differently to the crisis. We could also compare these effects across countries.</p> <p>Our analyses focused primarily on 1,341 participants living in 17 European countries, excluding Ukraine itself (44,894 experience-sampling reports in total). We also expanded these analyses to capture the experiences of 1,735 people living in 43 countries around the world (54,851 experience-sampling reports) – including in Australia.</p> <h2>A global dip in wellbeing</h2> <p>On February 24 2022, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, there was a sharp decline in wellbeing around the world. There was no decline in the month leading up to the outbreak of war, suggesting the change in wellbeing was not already occurring for some other reason.</p> <p>However, there was a gradual increase in wellbeing during the month <em>after</em> the Russian invasion, suggestive of a “return to baseline” effect. Such effects are commonly reported in psychological research: situations and events that impact our wellbeing often (<a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237535630_Adaptation_and_the_Set-Point_Model_of_Subjective_Well-BeingDoes_Happiness_Change_After_Major_Life_Events">though not always</a>) do so <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7062343_Beyond_the_Hedonic_Treadmill_Revising_the_Adaptation_Theory_of_Well-Being">temporarily</a>.</p> <p>Unsurprisingly, people in Europe experienced a sharper dip in wellbeing compared to people living elsewhere around the world. Presumably the war was much more salient for those closest to the conflict, compared to those living on an entirely different continent.</p> <p>Interestingly, day-to-day fluctuations in wellbeing mirrored the salience of the war on social media as events unfolded. Specifically, wellbeing was lower on days when there were more tweets mentioning Ukraine on Twitter/X.</p> <p>Our results indicate that, on average, it took around two months for people to return to their baseline levels of wellbeing after the invasion.</p> <h2>Different people, different recoveries</h2> <p>There are <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31944795/">strong links</a> between our wellbeing and our individual personalities.</p> <p>However, the dip in wellbeing following the Russian invasion was fairly uniform across individuals. None of the individual factors assessed in our study, including personality and sociodemographic factors, predicted people’s response to the outbreak of war.</p> <p>On the other hand, personality did play a role in how quickly people recovered. Individual differences in people’s recovery were linked to a personality trait called “stability”. Stability is a broad dimension of personality that combines low neuroticism with high agreeableness and conscientiousness (three traits from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/big-five">Big Five</a> personality framework).</p> <p>Stability is so named because it reflects the stability of one’s overall psychological functioning. This can be illustrated by breaking stability down into its three components:</p> <ol> <li> <p>low neuroticism describes <a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.2212154120">emotional stability</a>. People low in this trait experience less intense negative emotions such as anxiety, fear or anger, in response to negative events</p> </li> <li> <p>high agreeableness describes <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2018-63285-010">social stability</a>. People high in this trait are generally more cooperative, kind, and motivated to maintain social harmony</p> </li> <li> <p>high conscientiousness describes <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2023.112331">motivational stability</a>. People high in this trait show more effective patterns of goal-directed self-regulation.</p> </li> </ol> <p>So, our data show that people with less stable personalities fared worse in terms of recovering from the impact the war in Ukraine had on wellbeing.</p> <p>In a supplementary analysis, we found the effect of stability was driven specifically by neuroticism and agreeableness. The fact that people higher in neuroticism recovered more slowly accords with a wealth of research linking this trait with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10573882/">coping difficulties</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5428182/">poor mental health</a>.</p> <p>These effects of personality on recovery were stronger than those of sociodemographic factors, such as age, gender or political views, which were not statistically significant.</p> <p>Overall, our findings suggest that people with certain psychological vulnerabilities will often struggle to recover from the shock of global events such as the outbreak of war in Ukraine.<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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/224147/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/luke-smillie-7502">Luke Smillie</a>, Professor in Personality Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </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/war-in-ukraine-affected-wellbeing-worldwide-but-peoples-speed-of-recovery-depended-on-their-personality-224147">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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3 cholesterol myths debunked

<p>For years, cholesterol has been seen as the villain in your diet – responsible for many of the health woes people experience daily. But many of the “facts” about cholesterol are actually just misconceptions. So let’s clear up some of these myths now.</p> <p>As with everything to do with your diet, any major changes should be made in consultation with your healthcare professional or a nutritionist to make sure it’s right for you.</p> <p><strong>Cholesterol is bad for you</strong></p> <p>Just like cake, cholesterol should be enjoyed in moderation. Interestingly, it actually performs many important functions. It helps produce cell membranes, vitamin D, hormones, and helps with digestion. It also plays a role in helping to form memories. </p> <p>And, believe it or not, cholesterol is naturally created by your body. So most of the cholesterol in your bloodstream is not there because of your diet.</p> <p><strong>Eggs are the enemy</strong></p> <p>People with high cholesterol levels used to be advised to avoid eating too many eggs, but they’ve recently been put back on the “safe list.” Research at Yale University actually showed that even people with coronary heart disease could eat two eggs each day for six weeks without any effect on their cholesterol levels.</p> <p><strong>Low-fat diets are the best</strong></p> <p>While saturated fats do increase the “bad” cholesterol (LDL), it also increases the levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL). A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine showed no link between the consumption of saturated fats and an increased risk of heart attacks. </p> <p>Foods that are high or low in saturated fat can have a positive, negative, or neutral effect on your body – it all depends on the type of food. A diet that is low in carbohydrates is more effective at raising the levels of “good” cholesterol in your system.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Body

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How your favourite things can boost your financial wellbeing

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jingshi-joyce-liu-1424398">Jingshi (Joyce) Liu</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/city-university-of-london-1047">City, University of London</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-dalton-1425283">Amy Dalton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/hong-kong-university-of-science-and-technology-1153">Hong Kong University of Science and Technology</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anirban-mukhopadhyay-1425284">Anirban Mukhopadhyay</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/hong-kong-university-of-science-and-technology-1153">Hong Kong University of Science and Technology</a></em></p> <p>The cost of living crisis has left many people struggling to afford basic necessities such as food and heating for their homes. On the other hand, the top ten richest men in the world <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/04/economic-inequality-wealth-gap-pandemic/">doubled their wealth</a> during the COVID pandemic while 99% of people became worse off.</p> <p>While this is a comparison of two extremes, many people attempt to “keep up with the Joneses” – looking at what the people around them own and striving to afford the same things. Comparing material wealth and resources to those around you is even more common when others are better off. It’s hard not to wonder why someone else has a nicer car or better clothes.</p> <p>Lots of <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jasp.12631">research supports</a> this tendency, <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/00222437221141053">including our own</a>. For example, when we asked American people to watch a video about research on income inequality in their own country, unsurprisingly, it made them think about their own wealth and how it compares to those around them.</p> <p>And we found that it doesn’t matter how wealthy a person is. Relatively well-off people still tend to look upwards in this way. There is nearly always someone who has more money or owns a better car, a bigger house or the latest gadgets.</p> <p>But while money may not buy you happiness, <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/00222437221141053">our research shows</a> that a favourite possession can actually help to make you feel happier when facing income inequality. Thinking about a single treasured possession – even something small like a favourite book gifted by a friend or a keepsake from a trip – can help prevent these feelings of deprivation and actually boost your wellbeing.</p> <p>We used the <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/gini-index.asp">Gini coefficient</a> – a common measure of income inequality – to analyse more than 31,000 Instagram posts from 138 countries. We found that posts tend to convey less happiness in places with more income inequality (i.e., when the Gini coefficient of the location of the post increases).</p> <p>We focused on posts that were about favourite possessions (that used hashtags such as #favouritething, #favthing), comparing these with posts about favourite things in general, that is things that aren’t “owned”. The latter posts used hashtags such as #fashion or #favoritepeople.</p> <p>Posts that used hashtags about general consumption and favourite things that aren’t “owned”, such as music or friends, were typically less happy and posted in areas with more income inequality. But when we looked at posts that used hashtags about favourite possessions, such as #favouritething or #favthing, we found there was a weaker relationship with income inequality.</p> <p>So whether a post was happy or not wasn’t linked to the equality of the area it was posted in. These posts about favourite possessions were therefore less affected by income inequality.</p> <p>This means that encouraging people to think differently about things they already own could help some cope better with inequality. Rather than focusing on how much you own, which tends to exacerbate social comparison and undermine happiness, focus instead on your favourite possessions. Our research indicates that people who do this tend to make fewer material comparisons, and are happier as a result.</p> <h2>Simply remember your favourite things</h2> <p>A treasured possession doesn’t even have to be particularly expensive. From a memento purchased on a trip abroad, to your grandmother’s embroidered cushion, a football jersey that reminds you of your old school teammates, or even that tattered t-shirt of your favourite band, such items can feel priceless to their owners because they are unique and their value transcends any kind of price.</p> <p>In a separate multi-country study using an online questionnaire, we asked 1,370 participants from China, India, Pakistan, the UK, Spain, Russia, Chile and Mexico to describe either every item of clothing they had recently purchased, or a single favourite item of clothing. After participants described these things, we asked them about their wellbeing, as well as their perception of income inequality in their country.</p> <p>Those who thought about recent clothing purchases reported lower wellbeing when thinking about income inequality in their country. In comparison, those who talked about a single favourite piece of clothing were not as affected by the income inequality they perceived around them.</p> <p>Three more online experiments with over 2,000 participants <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/00222437221141053">revealed that</a> when people are reminded of their favourite possessions they feel less affected by income inequality because they are making fewer material comparisons.</p> <p>In one of these studies, we found that merely describing a favourite possession made people less likely to compare their wealth to that of others. When people stopped making these comparisons they were happier – even those living in places with more income inequality.</p> <h2>#FavouriteThing</h2> <p>Our research shows the benefits of focusing on a few favourite things that we own, rather than thinking about the amount of possessions we have and what else we need to “keep up with the Joneses”.</p> <p>Hashtag trends like #ThrowbackThursday encourage people to post photos on certain themes. In a similar vein, encouraging more people to post photos of their favourite possessions using hashtags like #FavouriteThing could do a lot to help boost happiness during the cost of living crisis.</p> <p>Income inequality is rampant and the cost of living crisis has only made its effects worse. But we all possess something dear to us that can keep us from comparing ourselves to others and help protect our wellbeing in this difficult economic environment.<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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/201997/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jingshi-joyce-liu-1424398">Jingshi (Joyce) Liu</a>, Lecturer in Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/city-university-of-london-1047">City, University of London</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-dalton-1425283">Amy Dalton</a>, Associate Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/hong-kong-university-of-science-and-technology-1153">Hong Kong University of Science and Technology</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anirban-mukhopadhyay-1425284">Anirban Mukhopadhyay</a>, Lifestyle International Professor of Business and Chair Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/hong-kong-university-of-science-and-technology-1153">Hong Kong University of Science and Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty </em><em>Images </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-your-favourite-things-can-boost-your-financial-wellbeing-201997">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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4 easy ways to avoid food temptations

<p>While you may have made some health-conscious new year’s resolutions, it’s very easy for our good food intentions to go flying out the window as soon as the year starts to get busy and booked up with events. Luckily, there are a few easy strategies you can use to help avoid temptation while you’re out and about.</p> <p><strong>Eat consciously</strong> – There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a delicious savoury or sweet treat when you’re out and about – say at a party or BBQ. The problems only start when we completely lose track of what and how much we’ve eaten! With multiple courses on offer (nibbles/dips/chips, mains/salads/sides, dessert), a plethora of drink options and plenty of distraction, it’s very easy to overindulge without even realising it. Try and keep your food intake in check by holding onto the same plate for the evening (so that you can see what you’ve eaten previously), consciously noting and enjoying your food (instead of piling it into your mouth at rapid speed) and filling up on mains and salads as opposed to high calorie nibbles.</p> <p><strong>Eat well while at home</strong> – With all the deliciousness on offer at the shops and at parties, it’s easy to pile your shopping trolley and plate high with food you wouldn’t usually eat. Try and avoid temptation at home by sticking to your usual diet as much as possible and only bringing home occasional treats. By ensuring you’re eating adequate amounts of protein/carbs/good fats, you’ll help keep cravings in check and also feel more satisfied and less likely to overindulge when out.</p> <p><strong>Be treat wise</strong> – There’s nothing like a helping of delicious dessert to really top off a meal. While refraining completely isn’t always possible, being wise with what you choose to indulge in can help keep your healthy eating on track. Dark chocolate is a fantastic after dinner treat. Decadent and rich, a small amount goes a long way.</p> <p><strong>Manage your emotional health</strong> – When we are feeling stressed, we often turn to food as a source of comfort. Unfortunately the food we turn to usually isn’t baby spinach or a healthy salad. Simple carbs, sugar and fat are generally what we crave. By managing your emotional health and staying on top of stress, we can help minimise cravings and emotional overeating.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Food & Wine

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5 healthy foods that can make you hungrier

<p>While often considered healthy food options, some diet choices could be leading you to overconsume later on. Take a look at some of the top offenders below.</p> <p><strong>1. Wholegrain bread</strong> – It may keep you fuller longer than its white counterpart, but bread is still a carb, and so elevates your blood sugar. Raised insulin levels can, on the more serious end, lead to diabetes, but at the least, the subsequent sugar crash can leave you reaching for more carbs and sugar.</p> <p><strong>2. Yoghurt</strong> – Many yoghurts contain added sugars, the effects of which are mentioned above, and due to its runny texture, won’t leave your hunger feeling satisfied. Add nuts and honey to unflavoured Greek yoghurt instead of consuming the non-fat sugary kind. Your satisfaction levels will thank you for it.</p> <p><strong>3. Green smoothies</strong> – Like yoghurt, despite being healthy, fast-consumed liquid smoothies don’t signal to our bodies that our hunger is satisfied so well as solid foods do, and could lead to more snacking later as a result.</p> <p><strong>4. Red wine</strong> – We’ve all heard of the benefits of having one glass of anti-oxidant rich red wine per day, but as wine lowers inhibitions, it could lead to over-eating at dinner.</p> <p><strong>5. Artificial sweeteners</strong> – You might think, with less calories than real sugar, that artificial sweeteners are a better choice, but as they trick your brain into thinking they are about to receive sugar-derived energy, they can actually lead to sugar or carb cravings later.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Body

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Four ways to mix up your fitness routine

<p>More Aussies in their 60s are choosing to turn up the heat at the gym than the bowling green. Here's why.</p> <p>The image of retirees spending their time playing lawn bowls and pruning back the hydrangea stems as part of their winter garden maintenance have been replaced with over 60s pumping it out at the gym.</p> <p>A recent study by over 50s insurer Apia found that older Aussies were almost five times more likely to regularly attend a gym or fitness group than they are to play bowls down at the local RSL club.</p> <p>Apia’s David Skapinker says many people tend to think that the lifestyles of older Australians have not changed much since our grandparent’s generation, when in fact they’ve changed quite dramatically.</p> <p>“Three quarters of our over 50s say they regularly walk to keep physically active and 14 per cent attend a gym or fitness group once a week or more, while just three per cent play bowls,” he reveals.</p> <p>The survey found that Aussies between 65 and 69 are the most likely to attend a gym or fitness group, which may indicate more free time as people reach retirement. With that in mind, here’s a few activities and classes you can try at the gym to get the blood pumping.</p> <p><strong>Hit the weights</strong></p> <p>This area isn’t just for those younger men who like to show off their muscles in tank tops. It’s for you too. Strong muscles don’t just make it easier to open that tight jam jar, they’re an important part of your health and fitness at every age. Muscles keep your bones strong, which is especially important as you get older as they are a powerful remedy to frailty and potential falls. You don’t need to pick up big 20 kilogram weights.</p> <p>Grab the dumbbells, which come in a range of weights, and do simple exercises, like bringing your arms from your hips to your chest. If you’re unsure about certain exercises, ask one of the gym’s personal trainers to show you a couple of different moves. You’ll feel the difference in no time. It doesn’t take long to build muscle, so nurture it by working at it and eating right.</p> <p><strong>Do some laps</strong></p> <p>Swimming is a great low-impact activity that you can do at any age. While it works a number of muscles in your body, it has also been shown to improve mental fitness. The next time you’re at the gym, why not jump in the pool and do some laps. It’ll keep your heart rate up but will take some of the impact stress off your body, which is important for those with joint pain or discomfit.</p> <p>Swimming also builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness while helping you maintain a healthy weight, a healthy heart and lungs. Some gyms also offer group exercise classes in the swimming pool, which can offer a similar low-impact workout. Whether you like backstroke, breaststroke or freestyle, change up your gym routine by doing a session in the pool.</p> <p><strong>Get into your dancing groove</strong></p> <p>Have you tried a Zumba class? The Latin-inspired dance fitness classes are popular with Aussies because they combine exercise and fun. While it’s usually a high intensity routine that incorporates fast and slow rhythms to achieve a balance of cardio and muscle-toning benefits, there are classes tailored for beginners and older Aussies.</p> <p>Check with your gym to see if they offer these specialised classes, which will be a low impact, low intensity version but with all the benefits of being a total body workout. Swivel those hips and move those feet to a South American beat that’s full of fun.</p> <p><strong>Bring the mind and body together</strong></p> <p>Yoga continues to attract fans all over the world for good reason. With a focus on breathing and calming the mind in connection with physical postures, the discipline is great for relaxation and as a form of physical activity. You’ll find that after a week at the gym, your muscles may be sore and a yoga class at the end of the week can be the best way to iron out those kinks.</p> <p>There are a number of different styles of yoga, so choose one you feel comfortable with. A common yoga class will usually involve an introduction, including some breathing exercises, a physical warm up, yoga postures and movements, and the best part, a bit of relaxation or meditation to finish off the session.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Body

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Why everybody needs a dog in their life

<p><em><strong>Rosie Hersch, 68, is a retired pharmacist, whose hobbies include studying, cooking and theatre. Her biggest passion is travel and like the song says, “I've been everywhere man (well almost).”</strong></em></p> <p>“Mankind has always loved dogs. The hunter gatherers, the Pharaohs, the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Chinese Emperors, the Monarchs of Europe all understood the pleasure of owning dogs. The evidence is there in ancient murals, texts and in portrait paintings by the European masters of the great kings and queens of Europe depicted with their dogs by their sides. Dogs were and probably still are so precious to the Inuit peoples of the frozen north. These dogs were once valued even above wives. It was only in the middle ages in Europe that owning a pet was suspiciously associated with witchcraft. Humans realised over the centuries that dogs have always been man’s best friend. I believe the dogs think in reverse, that man is dog’s best friend</p> <p>I was afraid of dogs as a child. My parents did not like dogs so I reached my twenties still scared whenever I saw a dog coming towards me. I met my husband in 1970. He had owned dogs since childhood.  His then current dog was this growling, visibly large teeth threatening cross between a Kelpie and Dingo. Peter had bought him from a pet shop in the mid-sixties with his pocket money. Jolie clearly did not like me and I was petrified to go near him. Peter says he was jealous that I had stolen his master’s affections. I was not yet convinced that dogs were wonderful.</p> <p>Then one day in 1973 as a young owner of a pharmacy in East Malvern a nice young man came in to purchase a baby toothbrush. When I enquired as to the age of the baby he explained that it was for a Samoyed puppy that was sitting in his van, having just picked him up from the breeder. I asked to see him. It was love at first sight.</p> <p>Immediately I summoned my husband to find me such a pup. One day later I was the proud mother of a male Sammy, the last of that particular litter. He was a cute ball of white fluff with three black dots, two for his eyes and one for his cute little nose. He was simply adorable. I pondered over a name for this gorgeous white wriggly pooch. Ah, there it was, the clue was on a pharmacy shelf, a bottle of Brufen tablets, such a doggy sounding name. We had considered Aspro, Barbitone and Bex but shop staff all voted for Brufen and so it was that he bore the name of an anti-inflammatory drug, still used extensively today. He was now part of our family. Brufen gave us such joy over the years. Our daughters were born a few years later and he was a wonderful companion for them. Samoyeds love to be around people, especially children. They are great protectors. Somewhere in Brufen’s collective memory of generations past the instinct of belonging to the pack like his long lost cousins, the wolves, is probably the reason Samoyeds are such social creatures.</p> <p>But sadly nothing is forever and at age 13, Brufen suffered hip dysplasia and arthritis and the pain became unbearable. He would cry himself to sleep. Strange we had named him after a drug used for such ailments. We had to let him go to his peaceful slumber. How sad it was. The family still reminisce about his wonderful loving nature.</p> <p>Years later when the girls were old enough to take some responsibility for walking and caring for a dog we adopted Marty. The ad in the newspaper stated his elderly owners were ill and could not care for him any longer. Marty was totally black except for a white blaze on his upper chest, with deep brown eyes and a tail we called the concrete tail because when he wagged it you had stay clear or it would cut across you like a whip. He was a cross Kelpie Labrador. He was so intelligent, so playful, so very cheeky and understood about 200 words. I swear I saw him smile many times. He was a joy and we all agreed he was the best member of our family. But inevitably once again old age caught up with him and he passed on some years back. We miss him to this day. His ashes are buried in the front garden of our previous house in Brighton, near the letter box and sometimes I drive past just to say hello.</p> <p>One day I will get another dog. I have my heart set on a West highland terrier. I love those dogs. I am told they are very lovable, extremely intelligent and think like a big dog but in a little body. At this point of time, our current lifestyle of lots of travel does not really allow for time to be a constant companion to a dog and my husband has said not now for if you get a Westie I will go Eastie! But I have not given up. The day will surely come when long distance travel will be too tiring and difficult. That’s when I will get my Westie for there is no greater pleasure than coming home to be greeted by an excitable frenzy licking, pouncing dog or snuggling up on a couch next to a dog , his paw stretched out to you, stroking his fur and knowing that his love towards you is pure and innocent.</p> <p>So, if you are widowed, lonely, ill, depressed, anxious, young or old or just need someone to cuddle and feel uplifting warmth, affection and beautiful selfless love and friendship the remedy is simple. Just get a dog.</p> <ul> <li>Dogs assist mankind and contribute to our wellbeing in various ways.</li> <li>Dogs are personal aerobics instructors. Walking a dog once or twice a day gives you that cardio vascular work out.</li> <li>Dogs are more rewarding than computer dating services. A dog will fill the loneliness gap and give you unconditional love with no strings attached.</li> <li>Dogs are the best anti-depressants. You can throw away the Prozac.</li> <li>Dog are great builders of self-esteem. A dog’s friendship will make you feel happy, positive and confident.</li> <li> Dogs combat stress. They will do more for you than any amount of Xanax pills.</li> <li>Dogs are helpers and rescuers. They assist people injured in the snow fields. They deliver mail in some of the almost inaccessible parts of the world.</li> <li>Dogs have a role in therapy. They don’t need 12 to 15 years of graduate and post graduate medical studies like humans do. Just being in the company of their spirited joyful selves aids in recovery of patients with mental of physical issues.</li> <li>Dogs were and still are crucial in exploration and expeditions in the Arctic Circle and Antarctica</li> <li>Dogs have succeeded in reaching celebrity status. The world has marvelled at movie stars such as Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Benji, Beethoven and more recently two Aussie icons, Odd Ball and Red Dog, both based on true stories.</li> <li>Dogs have been featured in literary works like “Call of the Wild” “White Fang”, “Marley and Me” and “Old Yella.”</li> <li>Dogs, most importantly are the eyes of those who are visually impaired.</li> </ul> <p>PS. My advice is to look for a dog either from a rescue shelter, or from someone who cannot for whatever reason look after their dog any longer or a private bona fide breeder. Do not go to one of those puppy farms where breeding is indiscriminate and money is the only concern of these vendors.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Why reading books is good for society, wellbeing and your career

<p>TikTok allows video up to 10 minutes, but says surveys show almost half its users are stressed by anything <a href="https://www.wired.co.uk/article/tiktok-wants-longer-videos-like-not">longer than a minute</a>. An Instagram video can be up to 90 seconds, but experts reckon the ideal time to maximise engagement is <a href="https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-reel-length/">less than 15 seconds</a>. Twitter doubled the length of tweets in 2017 to <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/30/twitters-doubling-of-character-count-from-140-to-280-had-little-impact-on-length-of-tweets/?guccounter=1&amp;guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&amp;guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAE7Ou03VeQ_VU9SZA2zdsZOLh6KKtVl5dj2ti0R3YgY_T_G9h7s3Ry9GOzQNecfcZbs_ko9I9YGELzKTM_2Ox9PTglVrcKM_xbBwh23aBAm12Q126TLMvre8SujfV3KkZnRIisVGD19Q3j5uP-P3RMMJuATO_ooLJgkF19ECOs3g">280 characters</a>, but the typical length is more like <a href="https://www.wired.com/2015/10/many-characters-tweet-ask-experts/">33 characters</a>.</p> <p>It’s easy to get sucked into short and sensational content. But if you’re worried this may be harming your attention span, you <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/jan/02/attention-span-focus-screens-apps-smartphones-social-media">should be</a>. There’s solid evidence that so many demands on our attention make us <a href="https://www.curtin.edu.au/news/media-release/short-attention-spans-linked-to-social-media-distress/">more stressed</a>, and that the endless social comparison <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-social-media-makes-you-feel-bad-and-what-to-do-about-it-197691">makes us feel worse</a> about ourselves.</p> <p>For better mental health, read a book.</p> <p>Studies show a range of psychological benefits from book-reading. Reading fiction can increase your capacity for <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.1239918">empathy</a>, through the process of seeing the world through a relatable character. Reading has been found to reduce stress as effectively as <a href="https://clutejournals.com/index.php/TLC/article/view/1117">yoga</a>. It is being prescribed for depression – a treatment <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2004-95164-009">known as bibliotherapy</a>.</p> <p>Book-reading is also a strong marker of curiosity – a <a href="https://hbr.org/2018/09/the-business-case-for-curiosity">quality prized</a> by employers such as Google. Our research shows reading is as strongly associated with curiosity as interest in science, and more strongly than mathematical ability.</p> <p>And it’s not just that curious minds are more likely to read because of a thirst for knowledge and understanding. That happens too, but our research has specifically been to investigate the role of reading in the development of curious minds.</p> <h2>Tracking reading and curiosity</h2> <p>Our <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00036846.2023.2174943">findings</a> come from analysing data from the <a href="https://www.lsay.edu.au/aboutlsay">Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth</a>, which tracks the progress of young Australians from the age of 15 till 25.</p> <p>Longitudinal surveys provide valuable insights by surveying the same people – in this case a group of about 10,000 young people. Every year for ten years they are asked about their achievements, aspirations, education, employment and life satisfaction.</p> <p>There have been five survey cohorts since 1998, the most recent starting in 2016. We analysed three of them – those beginning in 2003, 2006 and 2009, looking at the data up to age 20, at which age most have a job or are looking for one.</p> <p>The survey data is rich enough to develop proxy measures of reading and curiosity levels. It includes participants’ scores in the OECD <a href="https://www.oecd.org/pisa/">Programme for International Student Assessment</a> tests for reading, mathematics and science ability. There are survey questions about time spent reading for pleasure, time reading newspapers or magazines, and library use.</p> <p>To measure curiosity, we used respondents’ answers to questions about their interest in the following:</p> <ul> <li>learning new things</li> <li>thinking about why the world is in the state it is</li> <li>finding out more about things you don’t understand</li> <li>finding out about a new idea</li> <li>finding out how something works.</li> </ul> <p>We used statistical modelling to control for environmental and demographic variables and distinguish the effect of reading activity as a teenager on greater curiosity as a young adult. This modelling gives us confidence that reading is not just correlated with curiosity. Reading books helps build curiosity.</p> <h2>Gloom and doom-scrolling</h2> <p>Does this mean if you’re older that it’s too late to start reading? No. Our results relate to young people because the data was available. No matter what your age, deep reading has benefits over social-media scrolling.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/Dopamine-Nation-Finding-Balance-Indulgence/dp/152474672X">short-term dopamine rush</a> of scrolling on a device is an elusive promise. It depletes rather than uplifts us. Our limbic brain – the part of the brain associated with our emotional and behavioural responses – remains trapped in a spiral of pleasure-seeking.</p> <p>Studies show a high correlation between <a href="https://academic.oup.com/hcr/article-abstract/44/1/3/4760433">media multitasking and attention problems</a> due to <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781315167275/emotional-cognitive-overload-anne-fran%C3%A7oise-rutkowski-carol-saunders">cognitive overload</a>. The effect is most evident among young people, who have grown up with <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11126-017-9535-6">social media overexposure</a>.</p> <p>US social psychologist <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00296-x">Jonathan Haidt</a> is among the researchers <a href="https://jonathanhaidt.substack.com/p/social-media-mental-illness-epidemic">warning</a> that high social media use is a major contributor to declining mental health for teenage girls, "Boys are doing badly too, but their rates of depression and anxiety are not as high, and their increases since 2011 are smaller."</p> <p>Why this “giant, obvious, international, and gendered cause”? Haidt writes, "Instagram was founded in 2010. The iPhone 4 was released then too — the first smartphone with a front-facing camera. In 2012 Facebook bought Instagram, and that’s the year that its user base exploded. By 2015, it was becoming normal for 12-year-old girls to spend hours each day taking selfies, editing selfies, and posting them for friends, enemies, and strangers to comment on, while also spending hours each day scrolling through photos of other girls and fabulously wealthy female celebrities with (seemingly) vastly superior bodies and lives."</p> <p>In 2020 Haidt published <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00296-x">research</a> showing girls are more vulnerable to “fear of missing out” and the aggression that social media tends to amplify. Since then he’s become even more convinced of the correlation.</p> <p>Social media, by design, is addictive.</p> <p>With TikTok, for example, videos start automatically, based on what the algorithm already knows about you. But it doesn’t just validate your preferences and feed you opinions that confirm your biases. It also varies the content so you don’t know what is coming next. This is the same trick that keeps gamblers addicted.</p> <h2>Tips to get back into books</h2> <p>If you are having difficulty choosing between your phone and a book, here’s a simple tip <a href="https://www.katymilkman.com/book">proven by behavioural science</a>. To change behaviour it also helps to change your environment.</p> <p>Try the following:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Carry a book at all times, or leave books around the house in convenient places.</p> </li> <li> <p>Schedule reading time into your day. <a href="https://howtoliveameaningfullife.com/you-should-read-everyday-but-for-how-long-the-science-says/?fbclid=IwAR03mbaXPpM19aoaO4p1AsTD0EvZsLgFQJy0RoJo8JTx9g1Q6ukh4_FEbIU">20 minutes is enough</a>. This reinforces the habit and ensures regular immersion in the book world.</p> </li> <li> <p>If you’re not enjoying a book, try another. Don’t force yourself.</p> </li> </ul> <p>You’ll feel better for it – and be prepared for a future employer asking you what books you’re reading.</p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-reading-books-is-good-for-society-wellbeing-and-your-career-200447" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Books

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5 strange clues your body gives you about your health

<p>Ever wondered how your health will measure up as you age? Science has found a few quirky “tells” that can give an indication of the kinds of health concerns you may be facing. Read on to find out more.</p> <p><strong>A short index finger can mean arthritis is possible</strong></p> <p>Women whose index fingers are shorter than their ring fingers may be more prone to arthritis in the knees due to typically lower levels of estrogen. Prevent it occurring by keeping knees in tip-top shape with plenty of strengthening and stretching exercises.</p> <p><strong>Generous calves and thighs? Keep an eye on your liver</strong></p> <p>Stockier legs can sometimes mean a liver more susceptible to disease. This is due to higher levels of liver enzymes. Keep your liver healthy by following a nutritious diet and limiting alcohol intake.</p> <p><strong>Losing your sense of smell? Your brain may need some support</strong></p> <p>According to research published in 2008, older adults who couldn’t identify distinct smells like banana and cinnamon, were 5 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. Help prevent this from occurring by taking fish oil supplements/omega-3 fatty acids.</p> <p><strong>The short arm linked to Alzheimer’s </strong></p> <p>A recent neurological study found that women with short arm spans were one and a half times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those with longer reaches. Prevent it from occurring by taking up a hobby! Research has found adults who engage regularly in leisure activities are far less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.</p> <p><strong>Earlobe creases and heat disease</strong></p> <p>Got creased up earlobes? It may be wise to keep an eye on your heart. Studies show that linear wrinkles in one or both lobes may predict future cardiovascular issues. Keep your heart happy and healthy and prevent issues by ensuring you follow a healthy diet, stick to a healthy BMI, engage in regular exercise and minimise stress.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Body

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Loneliness can be twice as unhealthy as obesity in older people

<p>A study has found that loneliness is twice as unhealthy as obesity in older people. Over six years, the study looked at the impact variables had on death rates.</p> <p>After tracking more than 2,000 people aged 50 and over, scientists found that people who were identified as the loneliest were nearly twice as likely to die during the study than those who were the least lonely.</p> <p>Compared with the average person within the study, those who were lonely had a 14 per cent higher risk of dying, which was around twice the impact obesity had on early death rates. Poverty ranked higher than loneliness with a 19 per cent increase.</p> <p>A separate study in 2012 found that around a fifth of older people feel lonely all the time, and a quarter of them become steadily lonelier as time went on. People reported that loneliness was the worst at weekends, and three quarters felt the effects strongly at night.</p> <p>In the past, loneliness has been linked to health problems like high blood pressure, and increased risk of stroke, heart attack and depression.</p> <p>John Cacioppo, a psychologist at the University of Chicago recommends thinking twice before uprooting yourself during retirement. Moving away to “greener pastures” may have certain appeals, but it can often take you away from your support network of friends and family.</p> <p>In the light of these studies, it follows that people need to feel involved and valued by those around them. The results also reflected that company alone was perhaps not enough.</p> <p>If you know someone you think might be lonely, maybe you can invite them to take part in some activities with you and your friends. Phone calls are a great way to stay in touch with people who are further away, especially if you involve someone in your life by asking them for their advice on various subjects. Pets have also been shown to be great in alleviating loneliness.</p> <p>And if you’re looking to interact with some new friends, you can always vist our <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Over60-NZ-261868603973770/?fref=ts" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Facebook page</strong></span></a>.</p> <p><strong>Related links:</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><em><a href="http://www.oversixty.co.nz/health/mind/2015/11/kindness-leads-to-happiness-research/">People are happier when they do good</a></em></strong></span></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><em><a href="http://www.oversixty.co.nz/health/mind/2015/12/some-material-things-proven-to-make-you-happy/">The material things proven to make you happy</a></em></strong></span></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><em><a href="http://www.oversixty.co.nz/health/mind/2015/12/exercises-to-strengthen-your-willpower/">Simple exercises to strengthen your willpower</a></em></strong></span></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Mind

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The truth about video games in aged care homes

<p>Video games sound like a great way to bring senior community homes together, but are they really?</p> <p>A recent study decided to test this theory, based on past studies that have found positive effects as a result of introducing video games into senior homes.</p> <p>Dr. Kathrin Gerling led the project with Dr Regan Mandryk and Dr Conor Linehan. The study implemented a weekly gaming session in two care facilities over a three-month period of time.</p> <p>The games introduced included motion-based games like those of Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360.</p> <p>According to Dr. Gerling, "We were interested in the potential of games to engage older adults in long-term care in group activities. We looked at how people approached video games, to see if they stuck with it and found it enjoyable, and also to find out if this stimulated group activities and resulted in friendships.”</p> <p>The senior users caught on quickly, as Gerling expanded: “Players at the senior residence quickly understood how the games worked and it became an actual group activity. People formed relationships, took more ownership and adapted games to fit in with how they wanted to play.”</p> <p>Still, the experiment brought forth the reality of difficulties the games presented: “We found it more difficult to bring people together at the care home, mostly because of different age-related impairments. In some cases, players needed a lot of support from staff, and depended on them being able to attend gaming sessions."</p> <p>Gerling proposed that while the games benefited some seniors, others may have found more negative results: "You always have a split of people who like playing video games and those who don't, no matter what age. But older people learning to play new games in public may feel particularly uncomfortable if they are experiencing vulnerability over their age-related changes and impairments. Some older adults require extensive support, both to gain access to gaming sessions and throughout play.”</p> <p>Gerling outlined the necessary means for all community members to receive benefit from playing video games: "We need to make sure that video games created for older adults in long-term care are adaptive – there's a fine line between challenging people and giving them something meaningful to accomplish, as opposed to doing harm. To be successful games need to engage players of all abilities and be tailored towards specific groups. It's really important to be mindful of the context in which games will be played and be understanding of the individual abilities of the player. This is particularly important when evaluating the value of games for improving the quality of life, and when creating games with a purpose beyond entertainment, such as therapy and rehabilitation."</p> <p><strong>Related links:</strong></p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><a href="../health/wellbeing/2015/08/start-exercising-when-youre-older/">Start exercising at any age</a></em></span></strong></p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><a href="../health/wellbeing/2015/07/dementia-phone-screening/">Would you consider being screened for dementia over the phone?</a></em></span></strong></p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><a href="../health/wellbeing/2015/07/top-health-worries-of-60-year-olds/">Top 10 health worries when you’re 60-plus (and how to beat them)</a></em></span></strong></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Mind

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The truth about the effects of stress on the mind and body

<p>Worried. Anxious. Disheartened. Busy. If any of these are familiar to you, it’s likely you are also familiar with stress. By now it’s no secret that stress does more harm than good. Work/retirement, family life, finances, personal and societal pressures... there are a million reasons why we all get frazzled, and they all can take a toll.</p> <p>In an effort to better understand how this unease can affect our mind and body, Popular Science magazine took a closer look at the science behind worrying in this month’s issue. Here we’ve rounded up the key learnings and statistics about how stress can shape our lives – and what to do about it.</p> <p><strong>Stress runs deep</strong></p> <p>Unfortunately the emotions associated with stress don’t just affect us on the outside. Stress can actually influence us on a <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.popsci.com/chronic-stress-it-could-be-killing-you" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cellular level and even mess with our biological systems</a></strong></span>. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard University social psychologist, explains it like this: “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change outcomes."</p> <p>Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.popsci.com/chronic-stress-it-could-be-killing-you" target="_blank" rel="noopener">can negatively affect our cardiovascular system, cells, metabolic system, nervous system and digestive system</a></strong></span>. Chronic worry may also increase our risk for heart attack, contribute to irritable bowl syndrome or could lead to changes in the brain.</p> <p><strong>It’s a matter of the mind, too</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.popsci.com/chronic-stress-it-could-be-killing-you" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>According to Popular Science magazine</strong></span>, </a>30 percent of US adults say stress affects their physical health and 33 percent say it has an impact on their mental health. To lighten the heavy mental load, aim to have a good laugh – and often! Research shows a little giggle <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456" target="_blank" rel="noopener">releases endorphins from the brain and can improve your mood</a></strong></span>.</p> <p><strong>It can be sleep saboteur</strong></p> <p>Coritsol tends to follow its own natural rhythm, spiking in the morning and then again overnight. This can be a particularly problematic for those who have stress-related mental health disorders. According to the National Institutes of Health, people with depression have abnormally high levels of cortisol in the body, which may negatively impact body cycles – including sleep, Popular Science magazine reported.</p> <p><strong>Don’t worry, you’re not alone</strong></p> <p>A <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.popsci.com/whos-most-high-strung-data-visualization" target="_blank" rel="noopener">study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University</a></strong></span> found that our stress levels have steadily increased over the years – but the good news is, our worry tends to decrease with age. Financial concerns are also a major influence on how stressed we feel.</p> <p><strong>Tips for managing stress</strong></p> <p>These statistics may sound gloomy, but there is a bright side: Managing these emotions is entirely in our control. In fact, easing your stress may be as simple as tweaking your perspective. Columbia University researchers found that those who sat in expansive positions with their arms and legs spread out for two minutes saw lower levels of the stress hormone than those in more tighter poses, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.popsci.com/strategies-battling-stress" target="_blank" rel="noopener">according to Popular Science</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>You may also want to ensure you add some regular exercise, meditation and socialising to your schedule. Research shows that these activities can also help ease tension.</p> <p>Acute stress is one thing, but chronic worrying could be a sign of bigger health issues, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed you should speak to your doctor.</p> <p><strong>Related links: </strong></p> <p><em><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="../health/wellbeing/2015/03/qualities-of-happy-people/">The 4 qualities of happy people</a></span> </strong></em></p> <p><em><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="../health/wellbeing/2014/12/what-to-do-when-you-feel-stuck/">How to reboot when you’re feeling stuck</a></span></strong></em></p> <p><em><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="../health/wellbeing/2014/10/yoga-–-the-perfect-exercise-for-over-60s/">Yoga – the perfect exercise for over-60s</a></span></strong></em></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Mind

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Strange things happening inside your body

<p>Our bodies do an amazing job of keeping us healthy and happy. How they do that however can be a little on the stomach churning side. Here are five completely normal but slightly disgusting things your body is doing right now.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Producing huge amounts of sticky mucous –</strong> While we only really associate mucous with having a cold, our body is producing it constantly. Up to one litre a day is made to help prevent pathogens from making their way into our bodies.</li> <li><strong>Processing food using gastric juices –</strong> The path from your mouth to the other end is quite remarkable. After you eat, the food travels to your stomach where it’s broken down by litres of gastric juice. It then travels through metres and metres of intestine before finally being “expelled”.</li> <li><strong>Dust mites are colonising your eyelashes –</strong> According to recent research, there are two types of dust mite that make their home on your eyelashes where they live happily and uninterrupted for months on end.</li> <li><strong>Your tonsils are storing plenty of stuff –</strong> If you’ve still got your tonsils, chances are good they are stashing plenty of stuff. Tonsils are filled with nooks and crannies which often fill with dead cells, mucous and bacteria. While most people can manage this build up perfectly fine, others find that they develop tonsil stones from too much build up.</li> <li><strong>You’re producing litres of saliva –</strong> The body seems to love producing liquid. Case in point? Saliva. We produce one to two litres of the stuff a day to help break down food and aid digestion.</li> </ol> <p><strong>Related links:</strong></p> <p><a href="../health/wellbeing/2015/10/best-high-protein-foods/"><em><strong>Best high-protein foods for your diet</strong></em></a></p> <p><a href="../health/wellbeing/2015/10/easy-at-home-weight-workout/"><em><strong>An easy at-home weights workout</strong></em></a></p> <p><a href="../health/wellbeing/2015/10/simple-way-to-fight-depression/"><em><strong>The simple thing that's proven to fight depression</strong></em></a></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Body

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The wellbeing ‘pandemic’ – how the global drive for wellness might be making us sick

<p>Are we in the midst of a wellbeing pandemic? The question may seem curious, even contradictory. But look around, the concept is everywhere and spreading: in the media, in government institutions and transnational organisations, in schools, in workplaces and in the marketplace. </p> <p>To be clear, it’s not just wellbeing’s infectiousness in public discourse that makes it pandemic-like. It’s also the genuine malaise that can be caused by the term’s misuse and exploitation.</p> <p>Do you sense, for example, that your wellbeing is increasingly being scrutinised by peers, managers and insurance companies? Are you noticing an increasing number of advertisements offering products and services that promise enhanced wellbeing through consumption? If so, you’re not alone. </p> <p>But we also need to ask whether this obsession with wellbeing is having the opposite to the desired effect. To understand why, it’s important to look at the origins, politics and complexities of wellbeing, including its strategic deployment in the process of what we call “<a href="https://otagouni-my.sharepoint.com/personal/jacst99p_registry_otago_ac_nz/Documents/Documents/SJ-Wellness/SJ-Conversation-Wellbeing/Jackson-Sam-Dawson-Porter-Frontiers-Sociology-Wellbeing-2022.pdf">wellbeing washing</a>”.</p> <h2>The halo effect</h2> <p>While concerns about wellbeing can be traced to antiquity, the term has emerged as a central feature of contemporary social life. One explanation is that it is often conflated with concepts as diverse as happiness, quality of life, life satisfaction, human flourishing, mindfulness and “wellness”. </p> <p>Wellbeing is flexible, in the sense that it can be easily inserted into a diverse range of contexts. But it’s also surrounded by a kind of halo, automatically bestowed with a positive meaning, similar to concepts such as motherhood, democracy, freedom and liberty. </p> <p>To contest the value and importance of such things is to risk being labelled a troublemaker, a non-believer, unpatriotic or worse.</p> <p>These days, there are two main concepts of wellbeing. The first – subjective wellbeing – emphasises a <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsoc.2022.950557/full#B21">holistic measure</a> of an individual’s mental, physical and spiritual health. This perspective is perhaps best reflected in the World Health Organization’s <a href="https://www.corc.uk.net/outcome-experience-measures/the-world-health-organisation-five-well-being-index-who-5/">WHO-5 Index</a>, designed in 1998 to measure people’s subjective wellbeing according to five states: cheerfulness, calmness, vigour, restfulness and fulfilment.</p> <p>Translated into more than 30 languages, the overall influence of the WHO-5 Index should not be underestimated; both governments and corporations have embraced it and implemented policy based on it. </p> <p>But the validity of the index, and others like it, has been questioned. They’re prone to oversimplification and a tendency to marginalise alternative perspectives, including Indigenous approaches to physical and mental health.</p> <h2>Individual responsibility</h2> <p>The second perspective – objective wellbeing – was a response to rising social inequality. It focuses on offering an <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsoc.2022.950557/full#B60">alternative to GDP</a> as a measure of overall national prosperity. </p> <p>One example of this is New Zealand’s <a href="https://www.treasury.govt.nz/information-and-services/nz-economy/higher-living-standards/our-living-standards-framework">Living Standards Framework</a>, which is guided by four operating principles: distribution, resilience, productivity and sustainability. These new and purportedly more progressive measures of national economic and social outcomes signal societal change, optimism and hope.</p> <p>The trouble with such initiatives, however, is that they remain rooted within a particular neoliberal paradigm in which individual behaviour is the linchpin for change, rather than the wider political and economic structures around us.</p> <p>Arguably, this translates into more monitoring and “disciplining” of personal actions and activities. Intentionally or not, many organisations interpret and use wellbeing principles and policies to reinforce existing structures and hierarchies. </p> <p>Consider how the wellbeing agenda is playing out in your organisation or workplace, for example. Chances are you have seen the growth of new departments, work units or committees, policies and programs, wellness workshops – all supposedly linked to health and wellbeing. </p> <p>You may even have noticed the creation of new roles: wellbeing coaches, teams or “champions”. If not, then “lurk with intent” and be on the lookout for the emergence of yoga and meditation offerings, nature walks and a range of other “funtivities” to support your wellbeing. </p> <h2>Wellbeing washing</h2> <p>The danger is that such initiatives now constitute another semi-obligatory work task, to the extent that non-participation could lead to stigmatisation. This only adds to stress and, indeed, unwellness. </p> <p>Deployed poorly or cynically, such schemes represent aspects of “wellbeing washing”. It’s a strategic attempt to use language, imagery, policies and practices as part of an organisation’s “culture” to connote something positive and virtuous. </p> <p>In reality, it could also be designed to enhance productivity and reduce costs, minimise and manage reputational risk, and promote <a href="https://otagouni-my.sharepoint.com/personal/jacst99p_registry_otago_ac_nz/Documents/Documents/SJ-Wellness/SJ-Conversation-Wellbeing/Jackson-Sam-Dawson-Porter-Frontiers-Sociology-Wellbeing-2022.pdf">conformity, control and surveillance</a>. </p> <p>Ultimately, we argue that wellbeing now constitutes a “field of power”; not a neutral territory, but a place where parties advance their own interests, often at the expense of others. As such, it’s essential that scholars, policymakers and citizens explore, as one author <a href="https://www.google.com.au/books/edition/Measuring_Wellbeing/lWBXjk1nocIC?hl=en&amp;gbpv=1&amp;dq=%E2%80%9Cwhat+and+whose+values+are+represented,+which+accounts+dominate,+what+is+their+impact+and+on+whom%E2%80%9D&amp;pg=PA4&amp;printsec=frontcover">put it</a>, “what and whose values are represented, which accounts dominate, what is their impact and on whom”. </p> <p>Because if wellbeing is becoming a pandemic, we may well need the “vaccine” of critical reflection.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-wellbeing-pandemic-how-the-global-drive-for-wellness-might-be-making-us-sick-198662" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

Caring

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The hidden health benefits of spices

<p>Spices have a lot more to offer than just adding flavour to your dishes. Many spices have hidden health benefits that you might not be aware of. Add these spices to your diet to aid in anything from digestion to brain function.</p> <p><strong>Turmeric –</strong> Found in many mustards and cheeses, turmeric has been known to work as a pain reliever and possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There is also evidence to suggest that it benefits Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and cancer.</p> <p><strong>Saffron –</strong> Saffron contains vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It can be used to treat coughs, insomnia, cancer, gas, depression, Alzheimer’s, heartburn, PMS, and dry skin, to name a few.</p> <p><strong>Cumin –</strong> A staple in curries, cumin is a great source of iron and helps aid brain function.</p> <p><strong>Cayenne pepper –</strong> Hot and spicy, cayenne pepper helps to stimulate your metabolism and aids in circulation and digestion.</p> <p><strong>Ginger –</strong> As well as adding a kick of flavour to your green smoothies ginger helps treat upset stomachs, bloating, and gas. It also helps sooth sore throats, arthritis, colds, and motion sickness. Is there anything it doesn’t do? </p> <p><strong>Cinnamon –</strong> An antioxidant that contains iron and calcium, cinnamon has been known to reduce inflammation, reduce blood sugar levels, calm nausea, and aid in the body’s burning of fat.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Body

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Mentally challenging work might actually be really good for you

<p>Mentally challenging work, despite feeling draining at the time, could help to better protect people from memory and cognitive decline in old age, according to a new study. Published in <em>Neurology,</em> the research suggests that workers, who are required to speak more, develop strategies, manage others, and resolve conflict may be better off than their colleagues who do less of the same activities.</p> <p>Author study, Francisca Then, from Germany’s University of Leipzig explains, “Our study is important because it suggests that the type of work you do throughout your career may have even more significance on your brain health than your education does. Education is a well-known factor that influences dementia risk.”</p> <p>It has been shown in the past that, just like education, staying mentally active with puzzles and games, as well as maintaining a healthy social life may delay dementia’s onset, and reduce mental decline.</p> <p>The study assessed 1,054 individuals aged 75 or older from the Leipzig Longitudinal Study of the Aged, which is a representative population-based cohort study. Each of the study’s participants underwent cognitive testing every 18 months to evaluate their memory and thinking abilities for eight years in total. They were also asked to discuss their work history, categorising the types of tasks they did into one of three groups:</p> <ul> <li>Executive tasks, like conflict resolution, or strategy development</li> <li>Verbal tasks, such as interpreting and evaluating information</li> <li>Fluid tasks, like data analysis</li> </ul> <p>The research showed that participants who had performed tasks at the highest level of all three categories during their careers scored highest on the memory and thinking evaluation. They were also found to have the slowest rate of cognitive decline over the eight-year study.</p> <p>The study’s authors concluded that, “The results suggest that a professional life enriched with work tasks stimulating verbal intelligence and executive functions may help to sustain a good cognitive functioning in old age.”</p> <p><em>Source: <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/293325.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Medical News Today</a></strong></span></em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Mind

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5 signs you need to get more sleep

<p>They don’t call it beauty sleep for no good reason – a good night’s slumber results in increased energy and productivity, improved heart and immune system health, a better mood, even a longer life.</p> <p>As your body naturally regenerates itself at night, if you’re not getting enough sleep – or enough adequate quality sleep – you will likely see (and feel) the clues.</p> <p>If you experience more of the following indicators of a lack of sleep than you’d like to admit, chances are you’re not getting enough shuteye.  </p> <p><strong>Dullness</strong></p> <p>Lack of sleep reduces your skin’s natural moisture barrier, leaving your skin dry and flaky.</p> <p><strong>Fine lines</strong></p> <p>When you sleep, your body releases melatonin, a natural antioxidant. Get too little shuteye and there aren’t enough antioxidants to help fight off wrinkle-causing free radicals.</p> <p><strong>Breakouts</strong></p> <p>Stress hormones, like cortisol, skyrocket when you’re tired. They increase inflammation, provoking pimples to appear.</p> <p><strong>Puffy eyes</strong></p> <p>Cortisol is a pesky little bugger – as cortisol levels increase, not only are your hormones affected but your body also retains water. Since your eyelid skin is the thinnest on your body, it’s most obvious there.</p> <p><strong>Weight gain</strong></p> <p>Sleep deprivation causes your body to release too much ghrelin, a hormone that makes you hungry and simultaneously causes it not to create enough leptin, a hormone that tells us we're full.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Body

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Social media use and poor wellbeing feed into each other in a vicious cycle

<p>We often hear about the negative impacts of social media on our wellbeing, but we don’t usually think of it the other way round – whereby how we feel may impact how we use social media.</p> <p>In a <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00127-022-02363-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recent study</a>, my colleagues and I investigated the relationship between social media use and wellbeing in more than 7,000 adults across four years, using survey responses from the longitudinal <a href="https://www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/new-zealand-attitudes-and-values-study.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study</a>.</p> <p>We found social media use and wellbeing impact each other. Poorer wellbeing – specifically higher psychological distress and lower life satisfaction – predicted higher social media use one year later, and higher social media use predicted poorer wellbeing one year later.</p> <p><strong>A vicious cycle</strong></p> <p>Interestingly, wellbeing impacted social media use <em>more</em> than the other way round.</p> <p>Going from having “no distress” to being distressed “some of the time”, or “some of the time” to “most of the time”, was associated with an extra 27 minutes of daily social media use one year later. These findings were the same for men and women across all age groups.</p> <p>This suggests people who have poor wellbeing might be turning to social media more, perhaps as a coping mechanism – but this doesn’t seem to be helping. Unfortunately, and paradoxically, turning to social media may worsen the very feelings and symptoms someone is hoping to escape.</p> <p>Our study found higher social media use results in poorer wellbeing, which in turn increases social media use, exacerbating the existing negative feelings, and so on. This creates a vicious cycle in which people seem to get trapped.</p> <p>If you think this might describe your relationship with social media, there are some strategies you can use to try to get out of this vicious cycle.</p> <p><strong>Reflect on how and why you use social media</strong></p> <p>Social media aren’t inherently bad, but <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/jcmc/zmz013" target="_blank" rel="noopener">how and why</a> we use them is really important – <em>even more</em> than how much time we spend on social media. For example, using social media to interact with others or for entertainment has been linked to improved wellbeing, whereas engaging in comparisons on social media can be detrimental to wellbeing.</p> <p>So chat to your friends and watch funny dog videos to your heart’s content, but just watch out for those comparisons.</p> <p>What we look at online is important too. One <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.02.002" target="_blank" rel="noopener">experimental study</a> found just ten minutes of exposure to “fitspiration” images (such as slim/toned people posing in exercise clothing or engaging in fitness) led to significantly poorer mood and body image in women than exposure to travel images.</p> <p>And mindless scrolling can also be harmful. Research suggests this passive use of social media is more damaging to wellbeing <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/sipr.12033" target="_blank" rel="noopener">than active use</a> (such as talking or interacting with friends).</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/489514/original/file-20221013-6097-aup4h7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/489514/original/file-20221013-6097-aup4h7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/489514/original/file-20221013-6097-aup4h7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/489514/original/file-20221013-6097-aup4h7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/489514/original/file-20221013-6097-aup4h7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/489514/original/file-20221013-6097-aup4h7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/489514/original/file-20221013-6097-aup4h7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/489514/original/file-20221013-6097-aup4h7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="A person scrolls through a social media site on their phone" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Mindless scrolling can be damaging to your wellbeing.</span> <span class="attribution">Shutterstock</span></figcaption></figure> <p>So be mindful about how and why you use social media, and how it makes you feel! If most of your use falls under the “harmful” category, that’s a sign to change or cut down your use, or even take a break. One 2015 experiment with more than 1,000 participants found taking a break from Facebook for just one week <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2016.0259" target="_blank" rel="noopener">increased life satisfaction</a>.</p> <p><strong>Don’t let social media displace other activities</strong></p> <p>Life is all about balance, so make sure you’re still doing important activities away from your phone that support your wellbeing. <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.609967" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Research</a> suggests time spent outdoors, on hobbies or crafts, and engaging in physical activity can help improve your wellbeing.</p> <p>So put your phone down and organise a picnic with friends, join a new class, or find an enjoyable way to move your body.</p> <p><strong>Address your poor wellbeing</strong></p> <p>According to our <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00127-022-02363-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">findings</a>, it may be useful to think of your own habitual social media use as a symptom of how you’re feeling. If your use suggests you aren’t in a good place, perhaps you need to identify and address what’s getting you down.</p> <p>The first, very crucial step is getting help. A great place to start is talking to a health professional such as your general practitioner or a therapist. You can also reach out to organisations like <a href="https://www.beyondblue.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Beyond Blue</a> and <a href="https://headspace.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Headspace</a> for evidence-based support.<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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/191590/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em>Writen by Hannah Jarman. Republished with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/social-media-use-and-poor-wellbeing-feed-into-each-other-in-a-vicious-cycle-here-are-3-ways-to-avoid-getting-stuck-191590" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Technology