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    Lack of Education Is As Deadly As Smoking

    Lack of Education Is As Deadly As Smoking

    Data from over one million people born over 20 years finds a clear link between education and lifespan and shows that lack of education is as deadly as smoking.

    A strong link has been found between education and mortality. Data gathered from 1986 to 2006 on more than one million people estimated the number of mortalities that were linked to low levels of education.

    The research suggests that higher level of education can potentially save lives over time. To understand how, researchers studied people born in 1925, 1935, and 1945. They found a strong link between poor education and causes of death such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

    The survival rate was much higher for well-educated people as they were more likely to find ways to prevent and treat diseases. Higher education is also a strong predictor of living longer and being healthier because of factors including higher income, improved social and psychological well-being and social status.

    Dr Virginia Chang, associate professor of population health at NYU School of Medicine, said:

    “In public health policy, we often focus on changing health behaviors such as diet, smoking, and drinking.

    Education — which is a more fundamental, upstream driver of health behaviors and disparities — should also be a key element of U.S. health policy.”

    The research suggests that 145,243 deaths in the US could be saved if adults without a high school degree went on to complete that level of education.

    And 110,068 deaths could be saved in the US if adults with some college education completed their bachelor’s degree.

    Dr Patrick Krueger the first author of this study said:

    “Our results suggest that policies and interventions that improve educational attainment could substantially improve survival in the U.S. population, especially given widening educational disparities.

    Unless these trends change, the mortality attributable to low education will continue to increase in the future.”

    The findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE (Krueger et al., 2015).

    How To Get Rid of Negative Thoughts

    How To Get Rid of Negative Thoughts

    Repressing thoughts doesn’t work so here are 8 ways to get rid of negative thoughts.

    It’s one of the irritations of having a mind that sometimes it’s hard to get rid of negative thoughts. It could be a mistake at work, money worries or perhaps a nameless fear. Whatever the anxiety, fear or worry, it can prove very difficult to control.

    The most intuitive method to get rid of negative thoughts is trying to suppress them by pushing it out of our minds.

    Unfortunately, as many studies have shown, thought suppression doesn’t work. Ironically, trying to push thoughts out of mind only makes them come back stronger. It’s a very frustrating finding, but one that’s been replicated experimentally again and again.

    So, what alternatives exist to get rid of negative thoughts we’d rather not have going around in our heads? In an article for American Psychologist, the expert on thought suppression, Daniel Wegner, explains some potential methods to get rid of negative thoughts (Wegner, 2011). Here are my favourite:

    1. Focused distraction

    The natural tendency when trying to get your mind off, say, a social gaff you made, is to try and think about something else: to distract yourself. The mind wanders around looking for new things to focus on, hopefully leaving you in peace.

    Distraction does work but, oddly enough, studies suggest it is better to distract yourself with one thing, rather than letting the mind wander.

    That’s because aimless mind wandering is associated with unhappiness; it’s better to concentrate on, say, a specific piece of music, a TV programme or a task.

    2. Avoid stress

    Another intuitive method for avoiding persistent thoughts is to put ourselves under stress. The thinking here is that the rush will leave little mental energy for the thoughts that are troubling us.

    When tested scientifically, this turns out to be a bad approach. In fact, rather than being a distraction, stress makes the unwanted thoughts come back stronger, so it certainly should not be used as a way of avoiding unpleasant thoughts.

    3. Postpone the thought until later

    While continuously trying to suppress a thought makes it come back stronger, postponing it until later can work.

    Researchers have tried asking those with persistent anxious thoughts to postpone their worrying until a designated 30-minute ‘worry period’. Some studies suggest that people find this works as a way of side-stepping thought suppression.

    So save up all your worrying for a designated period and this may ease your mind the rest of the time.

    4. Paradoxical therapy

    What if, instead of trying to suppress a worrying repetitive thought about, say, death, you head straight for it and concentrate on it?

    It seems paradoxical that focusing in on a thought might help it go away, but some research suggests this can work. It’s based on the long-established principle of ‘exposure therapy’: this is where, for example, arachnophobes are slowly but surely exposed to spiders, until the fear begins to fade.

    This approach is not for the faint-hearted, but research suggests it can be useful to get rid of negative thoughts when used by those tackling obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour.

    5. Acceptance

    Along similar lines, but not so direct, there’s some evidence that trying to accept unwanted thoughts rather than doing battle with them can be beneficial. Here are the instructions from one study which found it decreased participants’ distress:

    “Struggling with your target thought is like struggling in quicksand. I want you to watch your thoughts. Imagine that they are coming out of your ears on little signs held by marching soldiers. I want you to allow the soldiers to march by in front of you, like a little parade. Do not argue with the signs, or avoid them, or make them go away. Just watch them march by.” (Marcks & Woods, 2005, p. 440)

    6. Meditate

    Similar to acceptance, Buddhist mindfulness meditation promotes an attitude of compassion and non-judgement towards the thoughts that flit through the mind. This may also be a helpful approach to get rid of negative thoughts.

    7. Self-affirmation

    Self-affirmation is the latest psychological cure-all. It involves thinking about your positive traits and beliefs and has been found to increase social confidence and self-control, amongst other benefits.

    It may also be helpful to get rid of negative thoughts, although it has only been tested experimentally a few times.

    8. Write about it

    In contrast to self-affirmation, expressive writing—writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings—has been tested extensively and it does have various health and psychological benefits (although generally only with a small effect).

    Writing emotionally about yourself, then, may help to get rid of negative thoughts.

    Common Vitamin Deficiency Linked to Depression in Women

    Common Vitamin Deficiency Linked to Depression in Women

    Very common vitamin deficiency linked to higher levels of depression

    Almost half of young women have insufficient vitamin D levels, which is linked to depression.

    The new study also found that over one-third of young women had signs of clinical depression. Dr David Kerr, the psychologist who led the study, said:

    “Depression has multiple, powerful causes and if vitamin D is part of the picture, it is just a small part.

    But given how many people are affected by depression, any little inroad we can find could have an important impact on public health.”

    While many suspect a link between the vitamin deficiency and depression, studies have not often confirmed it. Dr Kerr continued:

    “The new study was prompted in part because there is a widely held belief that vitamin D and depression are connected, but there is not actually much scientific research out there to support the belief.

    I think people hear that vitamin D and depression can change with the seasons, so it is natural for them to assume the two are connected.”

    Vitamin Deficiency

    To test the link researchers recruited 185 female college students between the ages of 18-25. The study focused on women because they are almost twice as likely to suffer from depression. Their vitamin D levels were measured from their blood. Depression symptoms were checked every week for five weeks.

    The results showed that women of colour had particularly high vitamin deficiency for vitamin D, with 61% being deficient. This compared to low vitamin D levels in 35% of other women.

    Vitamin D is important for both mental and physical health. Physically, it has been linked to better bone health, muscle function, and cardiovascular health.

    Vitamin D is created in the body with exposure to sunlight. It is also found in some foods, such as milk, eggs and oily fish.

    Dr Kerr concluded:

    “Vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and readily available.

    They certainly shouldn’t be considered as alternatives to the treatments known to be effective for depression, but they are good for overall health.”

    The vitamin deficiency study is published in the journal Psychiatry Research (Kerr et al., 2015)

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    Panic Attacks: Study Reveals Best Type of Treatment

    Panic attacks

    Large study compares the effectiveness of different types of therapies for panic disorders.

    Cognitive behavioural therapy is the best treatment for panic disorders, a new study finds. In addition, most people prefer therapy over taking anti-anxiety medication. Dr. Barbara Milrod, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, said:

    “Panic disorder is really debilitating — it causes terrible healthcare costs and interference with functioning.

    We conducted this first ever large panic disorder study to compare therapy types and see if one type of therapy is preferable over another.”

    Panic disorders involve suffering from an extreme feeling of anxiety and fear, sometimes for no apparent reason. Panic attacks can also be triggered by many things, including irrational fears such as phobias. During panic attacks people can tremble, become sweaty, feel sick and may experience heart palpitations.

    The study randomised around 200 people with panic disorders to various different commonly-used therapies. Therapy lasted for around three months and involved one 45-minute session each week.

    Across the two different sites where the therapies were tested, cognitive behavioural therapy was the most effective, and only one-quarter of people dropped out.

    Professor Milrod said:

    “If patients stick it out and continue with therapy rather than drop out, they have a far greater chance of seeing positive results or getting better.”

    The study was published in the  Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Mildrod et al., 2015).

    This Supplement May Stop Sadness Becoming Depression

    stop sadness becoming depressionProbiotics may stop sadness becoming depression by helping people let go of the past, a new study has discovered.

    Researchers at the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition found that probiotics stopped people ruminating so much.

    Rumination is when people focus on bad experiences and feelings from the past. Dr Laura Steenbergen, the study’s first author, said:

    “Rumination is one of the most predictive vulnerability markers of depression. Persistent ruminative thoughts often precede and predict episodes of depression.”

    In the study 40 people were given a sachet to take with water or milk every day for four weeks. Half of the people received sachets that contained a multispecies probiotic. The other half received a placebo for the four weeks. Before and afterwards people’s so-called ‘cognitive reactivity’ was measured.

    ‘Cognitive reactivity’ is the extent to which a sad mood can turn into something more serious.

    The authors explained the results:

    “…in the probiotics supplementation condition participants perceived themselves to be less distracted by aggressive and ruminative thoughts when in a sad mood.”

    In other words, when people felt sad, those taking the probiotics ruminated less. The authors write:

    “…studies have shown that the tendency to engage in ruminative thoughts is sufficient to turn mood fluctuations into depressive episodes, and that individuals who typically respond to low mood by ruminating about possible causes and consequences of their state have more difficulties in recovering from depression.”

    Probiotics have been increasingly linked to good mental health. But this is the first study to identify this specific link. Dr Lorenza Colzato, another of the study’s authors, said:

    “Even if preliminary, these results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood.

    As such, our findings shed an interesting new light on the potential of probiotics to serve as adjuvant or preventive therapy for depression.”

    The research is published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity (Steenbergen et al., 2015).

    PsyBlog

    Negative Emotions are Bad for Your Health

    Negative Emotions are Bad for Your HealthIf you’re an ‘A’-Type personality and get stressed easily at everyday irritations, you could be lining yourself up for mental health problems in the future. Negative emotions are bad for your health.

    In fact, getting irritated about the small things in life is just as bad for your health as eating a poor diet or not exercising.

    Using data from two national surveys, researchers found negative responses to daily stresses such as arguments with a partner, conflicts at work, standing in long queues or sitting in traffic led to psychological distress or anxiety and mood disorders ten years later. See real readings from a legitimate psychic medium here to know more about your future anxieties. Visit TranquilMe to learn more about massages that make your body relaxed.

    The results were published in the journal Psychological Science and based on data from the Midlife Development in the United States project and the National Study of Daily Experiences, from men and women aged 25 and 74.

    Team leader Professor Charles said: “How we manage daily emotions matters to our overall mental health. We’re so focused on long-term goals that we don’t see the importance of regulating our emotions. Changing how you respond to stress and how you think about stressful situations is as important as maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine.”

    If this sounds like you, you may benefit from my 7-week How to Beat Stress and Depression email course. You will learn how to spot the early warning signs of stress and identify thoughts, feeling and behaviours and understand the links. You will also learn techniques for making changes to your behaviour patterns, how to ‘diffuse’ your negative thoughts and use imagery techniques to de-stress.

    Remember, negative emotions are bad for your health — the sooner you learn how to deal with them the better…

    Five Quick Ways to Ease Anxiety and Feel Calmer

    Ease Anxiety and Feel CalmerWe all feel angry, stressed or like we want to give up sometimes. It’s perfectly normal. But these emotions can make you feel like you’re about to lose control. So, when you find yourself caught up in a stressful situation, try concentrating on one simple thing: breathing. Whether you have three minutes or an whole day to find stillness, the yoga techniques will give you five quick ways to ease anxiety and feel calmer:

    1. Create Calm for Yourself

    Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Keep your eyes closed or gaze a few feet in front of you, and then inhale deeply through the nose as you let the belly expand outward, like an inflated balloon. Let your breath spiral down through your chest and into your ribs, filling up the lungs fully and lowering the diaphragm. As your mind starts to wander, keep returning to the sound of your breath. Take a long exhale out through the mouth, guiding the navel back toward the spine, and release.

    2. Build Energy

    Practice the Breath of Fire, where air is pulled in and pumped out very rhythmically. Start with long, deep breathing with your mouth closed, then as soon as the lungs are completely expanded, start pumping the navel point in and out while breathing rapidly through the nose. With each breath, expand a bit faster and contract a bit faster until you find a good, steady rhythm, and then let that rhythm take over. When you have security issues, see here – SecurityInfo.

    3. Find Your Focus

    Balance your left and right brain through alternate nostril breathing (called Nadi Shodhan Pranayama). Place your left hand on the left knee, palm open to the sky. Place the tip of your index finger and middle finger of your right hand in between your eyebrows, the ring finger and/or little finger on your left nostril, and the thumb on your right nostril. Press your thumb down on the right nostril and breathe out gently through the left nostril. Now breathe in through your left nostril and then press your left nostril gently closed with the ring finger and little finger. Remove your right thumb from your right nostril and breathe out from your right. Reverse your breathing back and forth between nostrils.

    4. Develop Mindfulness

    Softly close your eyes and take a few deep breaths — naturally, without trying to influence it. Ideally your breath will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary. Begin counting “one” to yourself as you exhale. The next time you exhale, count “two,” and so on up to “five.” Then begin a new cycle, counting “one” on the next exhalation. Never count higher than “five,” and only count on the exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself up to “eight,” “10,” even “20.”

    5. Connect Inward

    Find a comfortable breathing rhythm in and out through the nose. Focus your attention on how your breathing feels in other parts of the body. Start by focusing on the area just below your navel. Breathe in and out, and notice how that area feels — is there any tension or tightness? If there’s tension, think of relaxing it. If your breathing feels jagged or uneven, think of smoothing it out. Now move your focus to the area just above your navel and repeat the same process. Continue your way up through the chest and into your throat, pausing for a few moments on each spot. When we learn to explore with curiosity and let go of attachment, we begin to understand the natural rhythm of our journey.

    But most of all, enjoy the calmness and stillness of it all!

     

    The Benefits of Monotasking

    Multitasking verses Monotasking

    Multitasking verses Monotasking

    It’s official! Multitasking is out and Monotasking is in! And it’s about time too…

    Personally, multitasking has never been my thing. I’ve simply never been able to do more than one thing at time and I’ve never particularly wanted to. But, I know many of you out there will gleefully claim to be able to juggle the washing, watch the kids, answer your emails and walk, talk and eat all at the same… but why, oh why would you want to? I blame the 90s. I really do. But times change, and us monotaskers may have had it right all along…

    It turns out that what our brains are actually best at is concentrating on one job at a time. What they’re in fact doing when we ask them to double or triple task is jumping at super high speed and inefficiently from one thing to another. Literally scatter brained.

    Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO of thinking research and learning organization Herrmann International, said: “The brain is not a parallel processor. There’s at least a 50 percent increase in error rate and it takes you 50 percent longer to do something while multitasking.” A simple examination of how many car accidents happen because of people eating, texting, talking or otherwise not devoting all their attention to the road proves this theory. “We feel like we can do many things at the same time, but really we’re just switching between the different parts of the brain handling each task.”

    What happens to your brain when you Multitask

    Multitasking brain

    Multitasking brain

    Earl Miller, a professor of neuroscience at MIT, explains. “Our brains are not wired to multitask. Though we think they’re handling multiple activities at the same time, what they’re really doing is constantly switching between them. “The problem is, there’s a cognitive price to pay each time we put them through that process.”

    By which he means we become less productive and more anxious, because multitasking pushes up our levels of the stress hormone cortisol. We even become measurably less ‘intelligent’, because the noise in our head from all those activities clouds our concentration, resulting in a drop in IQ scores.

    Dr Daniel Levitin, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Montreal’s McGill University and author of The Organized Mind, Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, says brain scans prove this.

    “The message is very clear: we don’t multitask. We think we’re juggling a lot of different things but really we’re like amateur plate spinners. We get one thing going, move on to something new and then have to run back to the first thing to check on how it’s going.”

    And each time we go through that process, we waste energy and time. And besides, think how much nicer it would be to have your partner all to yourself, instead of having a ménage-a-trois — you, your partner and a mobile phone…

    7 Things You Should Never Say To Someone With Anxiety

    If you’ve ever suffered from anxiety, you’re probably familiar with the control it can have over you and your life. And you’re not alone — it affects approximately 40 million adult Americans per year.

    Anxiety and panic disorders can cause feelings of fear and uncertainty — and with that suffering often comes comments that are more hurtful than helpful. According to Dr. Terry L. Whipple, clinical psychologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, while it usually comes from a heartfelt place, a lack of understanding from others can make working through a panic attack incredibly challenging…

    “So many of the things you might say end up having a paradoxical effect and make the anxiety worse,” Bea told The Huffington Post. “Anxiety can be like quicksand — the more you do to try to defuse the situation immediately, the deeper you sink. By telling people things like ‘stay calm,’ they can actually increase their sense of panic.”

    Despite everything, there are ways to still be supportive without causing more distress. Here are seven comments you should avoid saying to someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder — and how you can really help them instead.

    1. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
    spilled milk

    The truth is, what you consider small may not be so minute in someone else’s world. While you may be trying to cast a positive, upbeat light on a tense situation, you may be diminishing something that’s a much bigger deal to another person.

    “You have to enter the person’s belief system,” Bea advises. “For [someone with anxiety], everything is big stuff.” In order to help instead, try approaching them from a point of encouragement rather than implying that they “buck up” over something little. Reminding them that they overcame this panic before can help validate that their pain is real and help them push beyond those overwhelming feelings, Bea says.

    2. “Calm down.”
    calm

    The debilitating problem with anxiety and panic disorders is that you simply can’t calm down. Finding the ability to relax — particularly on command — isn’t easy for most people, and it certainly can be more difficult for someone suffering from anxiety.

    In a blog post on Psychology Today, psychologist Shawn Smith wrote an open letter to a loved one from the viewpoint of someone with anxiety, stating that even though there may be good intentions behind it, telling someone to calm down will most likely have the opposite effect:

    Let’s acknowledge the obvious: if I could stop my anxiety, I would have done so by now. That may be difficult to understand since it probably looks like I choose to [panic, scrub, hoard, pace, hide, ruminate, check, clean, etc]. I don’t. In my world, doing those things is only slightly less excruciating than not doing them. It’s a difficult thing to explain, but anxiety places a person in that position.

    According to Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, your words don’t have to be your most powerful method — offering to do something with them may be the best way to help alleviate their symptoms. Humphreys says activities like meditation, going for a walk or working out are all positive ways to help.

    3. “Just do it.”
    When someone with anxiety is facing their fear, a little “tough love” may not have the effect you’re hoping for. Depending on the type of phobia or disorder someone is dealing with, panic can strike at anytime — whether it’s having to board an airplane, speaking with a group of people or even just occurring out of nowhere. “Obviously if they could overcome this they would because it would be more pleasant,” Humphreys says. “No one chooses to have anxiety. Using [these phrases] makes them feel defensive and unsupported.”

    Instead of telling someone to “suck it up,” practicing empathy is key. Humphreys advises swapping pep-talk language for phrases like “that’s a terrible way to feel” or “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

    “The paradox is, [an empathetic phrase] helps them calm down because they don’t feel like they have to fight for their anxiety,” Humphreys said. “It shows some understanding.”

    4. “Everything is going to be fine.”
    While overall supportive, Bea says that those with anxiety won’t really react to the comforting words in the way that you may hope. “Unfortunately, telling someone [who is dealing with anxiety] that ‘everything is going to be alright’ won’t do much, because nobody is going to believe it,” he explains. “Reassurance sometimes can be a bad method. It makes them feel better for 20 seconds and then doubt can creep in again.”

    Bea suggests remaining encouraging, without using blanket statements that may not offer value to the situation. Sometimes, he says, even allowing them to embrace their worry — instead of trying to banish it — can be the only way to help. “They can always accept the condition,” Bea said. “Encouraging them that it’s okay to feel what they’re feeling — that can be a pretty good fix as well.”

    5. “I’m stressed out too.”
    secondhand stress

    Similar to “calm down” and “don’t sweat the small stuff,” you may be accidentally trivializing someone’s struggle by creating a comparison. However, if you are stressed or suffering from a mild anxiety or panic disorder, Humphreys warns that camaraderie after a certain point can get dangerous. “It’s important not to obsess with each other,” Humphreys advises. “If you have two people who are anxious, they may feed off each other. If people have trouble controlling their own anxiety, try not to engage in that activity even if you think it might help.”

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    Research has shown that stress is a contagious emotion, and a recent study out of the University of California San Francisco found that even babies can catch those negative feelings from their mothers. In order to promote healthier thoughts, Humphreys advises attempting to refocus the narrative instead of commiserating together.

    6. “Have a drink — it’ll take your mind off of it.”
    drink at bar

    That cocktail may take the edge off, but when dealing with anxiety disorders there is a greater problem to worry about, Humphreys says. Dr. Terry L. Whipple and prescribed treatments are more of the answer when it comes to dealing with the troubles that cause the panic. “Most people assume that if someone has a few drinks, that will take their anxiety away,” he said. “In the short term, yes perhaps it will, but in the long term it can be a gateway for addiction. It’s dangerous in the long term because those substances can be reinforcing the anxiety.”

    7. “Did I do something wrong?”
    It can be difficult when a loved one is constantly suffering and at times it can even feel like your actions are somehow setting them off. Humphreys says it’s important to remember that panic and anxiety disorders stem from something larger than just one particular or minor instance. “Accept that you cannot control another person’s emotions,” he explains. “If you try to [control their emotions], you will feel frustrated, your loved one suffering may feel rejected and you’ll resent each other. It’s important not to take their anxiety personally.”

    Humphreys says it’s also crucial to let your loved ones know that there is a way to overcoming any anxiety or panic disorder — and that you’re there to be supportive. “There are ways out to become happier and more functional,” he says. “There is absolutely a reason to have hope.”

    Lindsay Holmes
    The Huffington Post