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A Strong Social Network Helps Reduce Marital Conflicts and Stress

Social networks may help provide protection against health problems brought about by ordinary tension between spouses

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Marital conflict
Marital conflict between a couple. Pixabay

New York, Sep 17, 2017: Marital conflicts can take a toll on your health, but having even a few close friends and family members to turn to can help reduce the stress associated with such conflicts, new research suggests.

Social networks may help provide protection against health problems brought about by ordinary tension between spouses, said the study published online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

“We found that having a satisfying social network buffers spouses from the harmful physiological effects of everyday marital conflicts,” said Lisa Neff, Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin in the US.

“Maintaining a few good friends is important to weathering the storms of your marriage,” Neff said.

The research looked at 105 newlywed couples who kept daily records of marital conflict in their home environment and completed questionnaires about the number, quality and characteristics of their connections with friends and family.

In addition, the couples participating in the study collected morning and evening saliva samples for cortisol testing every day for six days.

Cortisol levels over the course of the day are a measure of the stress response.

The overall number of friends and family members that study participants reported having did not appear to affect couples’ ability to handle conflicts nearly as much as the quality of those outside relationships.

Also Read: Married Trans Couples Experience Less Discrimination: Study 

The researchers found that people who reported having even a few close friends or family members to talk to outside of their marriage experienced lower levels of stress when marital conflicts arose.

“Even everyday conflict takes a toll on people physiologically,” Neff said.

“But we found that the association between marital conflict and cortisol responses completely disappears when people are happy and satisfied with their available social network,” Neff added. (IANS)

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Lack of Social Communication Skills may cause Increase in Health Problems

How can lack of Social communication skills affect your mental health?

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Lack of Social Communication Skills may cause Increase in Health Problems
Lack of Social Communication Skills may cause Increase in Health Problems. Pixabay
  • Are you left out by your friends due to improper communicative techniques? Beware, as it may take a toll on your health. New research reveals that people with poor social skills may be at a greater risk of developing mental as well as physical health problems.

Importance of Social Communication Skills in avoiding Mental Health Problems

Social skills refer to the communication skills that allow people to interact effectively and appropriately with others. They are mostly learned over time, originating in the family and continuing throughout life.

The use of technology, like texting, is probably one of the biggest impediments to developing social skills among young people nowadays, the researchers said.

“We have known for a long time that social skills are associated with mental health problems like depression and anxiety,” said Chrin Segrin, a professor at the University of Arizona.

“But it was not known definitively that social skills were also predictive of poorer physical health. Two variables — loneliness and stress — appear to be the glue that bind poor social skills to health. People with poor social communication skills have high levels of stress and loneliness in their lives,” Segrin added.

The researchers studied over 775 people, aged between 18 to 91 years, and were provided a questionnaire addressing their social communication skills, stress, loneliness, and mental and physical health.

The results found that the participants who had deficits in those skills reported more stress, loneliness, and poorer mental and physical health.

The study, published in the journal Health Communication, mentioned that while the negative effects of stress on the body have been known for a long time, loneliness is a more recently recognized health risk factor. It is as serious a risk as smoking, obesity or eating a high-fat diet with lack of exercise.(IANS)

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When Is The Best Time To Drink Coffee?

Coffee is rich in caffeine which is known to wake your body and boost energy levels. But is there a specific time when our body needs caffeine?

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Do you prefer a cup of coffee every morning to wake your body up? Experts say that is an unhealthy practice. Pixabay

New Delhi, October 13, 2017 : Every morning as you are jostled out of sleep by your alarm, do you unconsciously crave for coffee? ‘Caffeine is just what I need to wake my body and begin my day with rising energy levels, so why not?’ you ask yourself.

Coffee is rich in caffeine which is known to wake your body and boost energy levels. But how does this happen?

How Does Caffeine Affect Sleep?

Caffeine is known to block adenosine receptors in the brain.

For easier understanding, adenosine is a nervous system depressant that transmits signals to our mind that the body is tired and needs rest, and has a slowing, calming effect on the brain.

When caffeine obstructs the production of adenosine, the brain interprets it as an ‘active period’ of the body and begins secreting adrenaline. This is characterized by the several effects of caffeine on the body that include increase in body temperature, blood pressure, sugar levels and an increase in heart rate.

ALSO READ Increasing coffee intake bad for your brain : Study

Additionally, the body also begins to produce dopamine in such a situation, the hormone responsible for mood elevation.

All these factors together work to prevent the body from falling asleep.

Coffee is your savior. And you are doing everything right –you are having rich, steaming coffee, completely devoid of sugar, milk or creamer (because that is the best way to have coffee for health; you had read so in the weekly health magazine). But did you ever wonder if you are having coffee when you should be? When is the best time to drink coffee? 

What, the practice is time conscious!?!

Yes, according to experts, there is a defined best time to drink coffee. And turns out we have all been unaware about it, which is why we have not been availing maximum benefits of the caffeine-rich drink.

A common behavior is to have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning in order to wake your body up. However, our body produces the largest amount of a hormone called cortisol immediately after we wake up, which is responsible for making us feel awake and alert.

Cortisol is known to increase the effect of caffeine in the body. While no two people can be the same, cortisol levels typically are the highest when you wake up. Additionally, the body is known to release cortisol between 8-9 am, 12-1 pm and 5:30-6:30 pm. This means, your body might be ‘naturally caffeinated’ at the time when you are usually having your first cup of coffee.

best time to drink coffee
Craving a cuppa every morning? Pixabay

A cuppa in the given hours will not be the best time to drink coffee. Still wondering why?

Consuming coffee in the given hours will dilute the effects of the caffeine, as cortisol will already be working to wake the system up. This will eventually lead to the tolerance to caffeine in your body and you will hence be forced to have more and more quantities of coffee to wake you up, which is in turn an unhealthy practice.

Cortisol, commonly known to many as the stress hormone, is associated with anxiety, fear and fatigue. Thus, doubling the cortisol levels with a cup of coffee will make you anxious and stressed. We are sure that is not how you want to feel like.

When Is The Best Time To Drink Coffee?

Experts suggest that you should have coffee when the body is producing low levels of cortisol – about three to four hours after waking up.

In an interview with CNBC, Certified dietitian and nutritionist Lisa Lisiewski suggested that the best time to drink coffee might be around mid-morning or early afternoon. “That’s when your cortisol levels are at their lowest and you actually benefit from the stimulant itself”, she said.

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Twitter Bots can Help Trigger and Promote Good Behavior, says a New Research

The research claims bots can be used to run interventions on social media that trigger or foster good behavior,

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Indian Railways
Twitter has become one of the most preferred medium of communication in recent times Wikimedia

New York, September 23, 2017 : Twitter bots earned a bad reputation for their alleged role in the 2016 US presidential election.  But recently, Researchers have found that automated tweets can also help promote good behavior such as getting the flu shot among the social network’s users.

In a large-scale experiment designed to analyse the spread of information on social networks. The researchers deployed a network of algorithm-driven Twitter accounts, or social bots, programmed to spread positive messages on Twitter.

“We found that bots can be used to run interventions on social media that trigger or foster good behavior,” said Emilio Ferrara, Research Assistant Professor at University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering in the US.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, also revealed another intriguing pattern — information is much more likely to become viral when people are exposed to the same piece of information multiple times through multiple sources.

“This milestone shatters a long-held belief that ideas spread like an infectious disease, or contagion, with each exposure resulting in the same probability of infection,” Ferrara said.

“Now we have seen empirically that when you are exposed to a given piece of information multiple times, your chances of adopting this information increase every time,” Ferrara added.

To reach these conclusions, the researchers first developed a dozen positive hashtags, ranging from health tips to fun activities, such as encouraging users to get the flu shot and high-five a stranger.

Then, they designed a network of 39 bots to deploy these hashtags in a synchronised manner to 25,000 real followers during a four-month period.

Each bot automatically recorded when a target user retweeted intervention-related content and also each exposure that had taken place prior to retweeting. Several hashtags received more than one hundred retweets and likes, Ferrara said.

“We also saw that every exposure increased the probability of adoption – there is a cumulative reinforcement effect,” Ferrara said.

“It seems there are some cognitive mechanisms that reinforce your likelihood to believe in or adopt a piece of information when it is validated by multiple sources in your social network,” he said.

The researchers believe that this discovery could also improve how positive intervention strategies are deployed on social networks in many scenarios, including public health announcements for disease control or emergency management in the wake of a crisis.

(IANS)