Don’t worry, be unhappy, at least it won’t affect your health

Monday, 14 December, 2015

Is happiness the key to a long life? While the notion appears to make clear sense, it may not necessarily be the case. In other words, unhappiness, of itself, may not be a health hazard, according to the conclusions of a recent study:

In an initial analysis, the Lancet ​study did find an association between mortality and unhappiness, but that association disappeared once they adjusted for baseline health. “I think the interesting implication is we’ve got very few things that really matter as far as health is concerned,” Peto says. He names smoking and obesity as two things that are very good predictors of mortality. But unhappiness, it seems, is not at all on their level.

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It’s possible to be too clean? Surely not?

Monday, 23 November, 2015

Long showers, possibly several times a day, may feel as if they are at the forefront of a healthy, clean, lifestyle, but the reality sounds like another matter all together. Being “too clean” runs the risk of removing too much of the “good bacteria” that helps keep us in good health:

Overall obsessive washing “disrupts the normal flora which keep you healthy by competing with harmful organisms”, says Ruebush. “Operating your immune system in an environment of sterility is like a sensory deprivation for the brain. Eventually, it goes insane, thus the increased amount of allergy and autoimmunity associated with persons who try too hard to avoid all exposure to anything in their environment,” she says. A long shower every day may not be advisable, as it removes the “good bacteria” from our skin. But you should wash around your genitals and anywhere you sweat a lot. And you should change your underwear every day.

So now you know.

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Treat every visit to the hospital emergency room as if it’s your last?

Tuesday, 10 November, 2015

Ashleigh Witt, a Melbourne based doctor, talks in frank terms about how emergency rooms at hospitals might go about assessing the best treatment, or care, options for critically ill patients, especially where the prognosis is not so hopeful. It’s thought provoking stuff, particularly when you place yourself in that category.

You see, as doctors, we have the ability to keep a person alive indefinitely. If our lungs fail, we can put a tube down your throat and have a machine breathe for you. If your kidneys fail, we can attach you to a machine that filters the toxins from your blood. We can even mimic the function of the heart. We can fill your veins with tubes and lines and attach you to life support. If the patient in front of me is 21, we usually do all of those things. If the patient in front of me is 101, I probably would do none of those things and focus on their comfort.

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A dash of pessimism, the wisdom of seeing the glass half empty

Wednesday, 28 October, 2015

There’s nothing wrong with adding a dash of pessimism to any decision making process, or to our assessments of other situations and happenings going on around us. That’s because there’s nothing worse than the let down that can result from an excess of blind hope and optimism. Too often though, I think we’ve lost sight of the wisdom of seeing the glass half empty.

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You can’t truly be optimistic unless you are also a tad pessimistic

Monday, 17 August, 2015

I’m all for being positive, or trying to be, but really I don’t think anyone can be truly focused unless they also consider the downsides to any given situation, proposal, or idea. Consider this point that Brett Terpstra makes, on the topic:

If a glass is half full, you’re celebrating the abundance of what the glass still contains, which leads to a more carefree approach to savoring the remaining contents. If you see it as half empty, you might savor it even more, being conscious of the fact that no matter how much is left, it’s less than you started with. I sometimes envy that realistic view.

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Do not underestimate the utility of boredom

Wednesday, 12 August, 2015

Thankfully, I don’t experience too much boredom. At the moment anyway. I’m not sure why this is, given the amount of routine, or what looks like routine, that envelopes my schedules.

Maybe I’ve the right balance between productivity and procrastination, or it could my ability to snap into a daydream at a minute’s notice, that shields me from the grips of boredom. Still, tedium has its place. In that it signals that we need to be in another place:

Think of boredom as an internal alarm. When it goes off, it is telling us something. It signals the presence of an unfulfilling situation. But it is an alarm equipped with a shock. The negative and aversive experience of boredom motivates us – one might even say, pushes us – to pursue a different situation, one that seems more meaningful or interesting, just as a sharp pain motivates us not to put pins into our bodies.

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The benefits of talking to yourself, that’s right, the benefits

Monday, 10 August, 2015

Ok, so doing things – such as going to the movies – alone, is to be encouraged, we should, from time to time, do more by ourselves. It has its upsides, and accordingly we should have little regard for others might think.

Now here’s another situation to apply your stigma breaking chops to… talking to yourself. Out loud. Doing so, like going it alone at the opera, also has benefits, quite a few it seems:

What helps me the most when I talk to myself is that I’m able to organize the countless wild thoughts running rampant through my brain. Hearing my issues vocalized calms my nerves. I’m being my own therapist: Outer-voice me is helping inner-brain me through my problems. According to psychologist Linda Sapadin, talking out loud to yourself helps you validate important and difficult decisions. “It helps you clarify your thoughts, tend to what’s important and firm up any decisions you’re contemplating.” Everyone knows the best way to solve a problem is to talk it out. Since it’s your problem, why not do it with yourself?

Now all we have to do is find somewhere to talk thus, without being seen or heard by anyone else.

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It’s not what is the best sunscreen, but the best way to apply it

Tuesday, 21 July, 2015

As someone – fair skin red head – who wears sunscreen every day, to some extent, even with all this wintery… Antarctic vortex weather we’re experiencing, I still took time out to read this in-depth sunscreen study. And seriously now is the time, the warm, sunny, weather will be back before you know it.

I’m not familiar with the specific products reviewed, but some of the points made about the use of sunscreen bear mentioning, namely most of us probably aren’t applying it in the correct quantity, and, more should be applied after swimming, or sweating, even if the product label says this isn’t necessary.

It still washes off quite easily. Better to be safe than sorry. Better still, become semi-nocturnal like me, and not have to worry about being in the Sun at all.

After spending 25 hours on research and interviews, and many more wearing sunscreen on our bodies, we’ve determined that the best sunscreen for everyday use is the one you’ll use correctly. But most people are doing it wrong – which means you probably are, too.

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Sometimes the best way to fit in is to not at first fit in

Thursday, 28 May, 2015

Talk about turning a weakness into a strength… being an outsider, an outcast, one who has been ostracised from a social group for whatever reason, has certain advantages, namely the ability to manipulate, or wield a significant degree of influence over the emotions of others:

Throughout human history, note Northwestern University psychologists Elaine Cheung and Wendi Gardner, ostracization has been personally painful, and sometimes life-threatening. Finding a way back into the safety of one’s tribe (or, perhaps, a way to attach yourself to a different social unit) is imperative. Their research, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, suggests this desperate need somehow activates our latent ability to display a key component of emotional intelligence. In short, it enhances our ability to make people like us.

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Would an instruction manual make better sleepers of us all?

Monday, 25 May, 2015

Instructions for falling asleep, because sometimes I think we all need a refresher on the topic. So, no smartphones or tablets after lights out, that’s one step for ensuring a good night’s sleep.

Not a big problem for me though. What I really need is to shut off the flow of thoughts and ideas that churn through my mind. But moving on.

Here’s one for people who feel they fall into the insomnia category, don’t sweat the potential loss of sleep, just lie back, relax, and let sleep happen. Probably easier to say than do, but perhaps there’s something in it:

But sleeping better is not just about those presleep moments, the “falling” part. It requires a certain degree of daylong mental and physical discipline. Above all, beware the psychology of insomnia, which Winter describes as a self-­perception problem of this sort: “Ed from accounting is the tall guy, Joanne is the cute girl, and I’m the one who does not sleep.” Sleep is not a bus stop; if your 10 p.m. bedtime passes by and you’re still awake, don’t fret. Trust that sleep – an innate physiological need, like hunger and thirst – will come. No one, especially children, should be given the impression that they are “bad sleepers,” Winter says.

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