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Unprecedented work pressures and social isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic may worsen loneliness and sleep problems in healthcare professionals but a recent study has shown that Heartfulness Meditation can help fight loneliness and improve sleep. The study was conducted by Jayaram Thimmapuram, Robert Pargament, Theodore Bell, and Holly Schurk of the WellSpan Hospital, Department of Internal Medicine, York, PA; and Divya K. Madhusudhan of the Harvard Medical School, Department of Graduate Medical Education, Boston, MA.
Dr. Jayaram Thimmapuram Academic Hospitalist, Internal Medicine, WellSpan York Hospital, York, USA said that it is one of the first attempts to assess loneliness and sleep problems among physicians and advance practice providers during the Covid-19 pandemic in the US. He claimed that an improvement of sleep and loneliness was noted with the practice of Heartfulness meditation.
Heartfulness Meditation is a simple heart-based meditation system aimed at attaining a balanced state of mind. A prior study assessing the benefits of Heartfulness meditation practice on resident physicians, nurses, and faculty physicians demonstrated improved burnout and emotional wellness along with increased telomere length in a younger subset of the population. In patients with chronic insomnia, this practice was associated with favorable outcomes
Out of 1,535 eligible participants who were surveyed, 155 enrolled in the study. Participants were randomly assigned to intervention or control groups based on a prior study conducted for physicians and advanced practice providers within the same organization.
The study highlights the significant burden of loneliness and sleeps problems among physicians and advanced practice providers during Covid-19 with one in two participants feeling lonely and more than nine out of 10 having sleep problems. Interestingly, younger participants aged 30 and under had higher loneliness and sleep problems.
Further, as compared to a study conducted in 2018 using a 3-point loneliness questionnaire that showed a prevalence of loneliness in physicians at 43 percent, the current study reported a higher prevalence among physicians at 47.8 percent. Although it is difficult to ascribe any of the results to the Covid-19 pandemic, an increase in loneliness prevalence was notable.
Heartfulness intervention resulted in greater improvements in sleep quality and perception of loneliness when compared with the control group. The findings of this study are consistent with the conclusion of other studies reporting mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programs and other meditation practices for loneliness and sleep to have demonstrated favorable outcomes.
This study adds to the body of literature supporting the benefits of Heartfulness practice as reported by some of the previous studies utilizing Heartfulness meditation where changes have been noted in heart rate variability, electroencephalography in adults, and improved emotional well-being in school-age children.
Heartfulness is a Raja Yoga system of meditation, which is also known as ‘Sahaj Marg’, or the natural path. It originated at the turn of the 20th century and was formalized with the founding of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission in 1945 in India. With several million practitioners worldwide, Heartfulness meditation is a set of practices for self-development that help us find inner calm and stillness in our fast-paced world. (IANS/JC)
By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe
The festive season is a time of joy. Some people truly love it, but for many, it can trigger feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Feeling lonely is common and completely normal -- whether or not we're living through this pandemic. The social pressure to "be happy" can be relentless, but it is important to take a proactive approach to meet not only our emotional needs but also to maintain our mental stability and well-being. With the pandemic, holidays are likely to be challenging, instead, meet them head-on with a renewed dedication and a proactive mindset to avoid 'holiday blues'.
Kanchan Rai, Mental and Emotional Well-being Coach, Founder, Let Us Talk, mentions ways to turn your loneliness into action this season:
Say yes to socializing: When we are experiencing loneliness, it can be easy to slip into the habit of saying no to social activities. Seclusion can make it challenging to feel driven and the mere thought of physically seeing people can lead to stress. Hence it is recommended to saying yes to mingling to help build your confidence. Something as simple as going for a walk with a friend or chatting with your loved ones over the phone can make a huge difference.
It is recommended to saying yes to mingling to help build your confidence | Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Devote your time to others: An effective way to beat loneliness amidst the holidays is by helping others who are less fortunate. The good cause will remind you of all you have to be appreciative for. This will help you to be a part of something larger, thus immersing yourself in the true spirit of the holiday season.
An effective way to beat loneliness amidst the holidays is by helping others who are less fortunate. | Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash
Make the most of technology: For those with distant loved ones, technology can prove to be an enabler in helping to keep family traditions alive. For instance, celebrate the festive cheer virtually or opening festive gifts on video calls amidst all family members. Taking a moment to network with someone, communicating about shared interests or fond memories, even if it's online, can play a major role in reminding us of the good times.
Taking a moment to network with someone, communicating about shared interests or fond memories, even if it's online, can play a major role in reminding us of the good times. | Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash
Get distracted with healthy coping strategies: Distraction can be useful when it's done with the intention of proactively giving yourself a break. For instance, it is recommended to watch a movie to take your mind off stressful thoughts instead of drinking many glasses of wine to forget aloofness. Taking a break will help prevent burnout and will enable you to deal with problems better.
Taking a break will help prevent burnout and will enable you to deal with problems better. | Photo by Johan Godínez on Unsplash
Don't be afraid to speak up: Confiding in reliable friends or relatives about how you feel can often lift the weight off your shoulders, thus making you feel less isolated. It can also be helpful to consult your counsellor if the seasonal isolation has been impacting your emotional well-being. Counselling can help in building your confidence and will facilitate you to discover coping strategies to process any issue. (IANS/ MBI)
Confiding in reliable friends or relatives about how you feel can often lift the weight off your shoulders, thus making you feel less isolated. | Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
Keywords: Loneliness, action, socialise, technology, stress speak, share, friends
Ahead of the Windows 11 launch, Microsoft is rolling out some updates to Edge that include the addition of tab groups. Users will be able to assemble collections of tabs to make their browser a little less chaotic.
To create a group, hold the control button and choose the tabs you want to include, then select "Add tabs to new group" from the right-click menu, Engadget reported on Friday. Users can customise the label with a different colour for each group. When users hover over a tab, they will be able to see a preview of the web page as well.
Microsoft Edge is also getting some handy shopping features, the report said. The browser can give swift access to reviews and ratings for more than 5 million products. When users are on a product page, they can click the blue tag on the address bar and see expert reviews from reliable sources, as well as the average consumer star rating from various retailers.
When they do figure out what to buy, Microsoft aims to help them complete the transaction a bit faster. The new personalised news feed called Microsoft Start is integrated into the browser. Users will see headlines and articles relevant to their interests from a range of publishers when they open a new tab. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: microsoft, edge, update, tab groups, browser, shopping, address bar
When you think of the colours on your plate, do you ever think of black? Well, its time you do! As they are the new power food. We all know greens, yellows and reds are loaded with nutrients -- so are the lesser spoken about black ones too!
What are black foods? Foods with the pigments called anthocyanins are known as black foods. Anthocyanins are found in black, blue and purple coloured foods and have hidden nutrients and benefits galore. These pigments have rich anti-oxidant properties which promote health and have the potential to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. They play a huge role in immunity. They are fun, healthy, offbeat and make for a nice visual treat too.
Abhilasha V, HOD and Chief Clinical Nutritionist -- Cloudnine group of hospitals, Bengaluru, few interesting ones and their benefits:
Cultivated in South East Asian belt, this rice has a nutty flavour and can be used in many recipes. In China this was known as the Forbidden rice in ancient times as it was reserved for only royalty. Now, some parts of north East India grow black rice too. They are loaded with lutien and zeaxanthin and promote good eye health. They have cancer fighting properties due to their high anti-oxidant and fiber content. They can be used in puddings, stir fries, risotto, porridge, noodles, bread and even makes a great idea for a good kheer!
Cultivated in South East Asian belt, this rice has a nutty flavour and can be used in many recipes. | Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash
A closer to home surprise! Indians have used black dal since ages. They are used as gravies and in mixed dal preparations. They are rich in fibre, iron, folate and protein and can be quite delicious too.
A closer to home surprise! Indians have used black dal since ages | Pixabay
With the western influence on our eating habits, it has brought along a long list of good foods. Olives are one of them and they are versatile in their flavour. They can be added to salads, pastas, stir fries and some pickles and drinks too. Olives contain monounsaturated fats, Vitamin E, Polyphenols and oleocanthal -- which is a strong anti-inflammatory and pain-killer compound found in olives. This little power-packed food can protect your arteries from clogging, maintain eye health, prevent DNA damage, promote good skin health and also hair health.
Olives can be added to salads, pastas, stir fries and some pickles and drinks too. | Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash
Black sesame seeds
Commonly known as Til, they come with a huge bunch of benefits, loaded with fibre, protein, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcim, zinc, copper, selenium and Vitamin E. It also contains sesamin, which helps reduce inflammation and plays a vital role in joint pain. Yes! All of that in a daily allowance of 1-2 teaspoons can do wonders for your health. They can be used in salads as garnish, in laddoos, in breads, smoothies, soups, hummus, dips and even tahini. They can be consumed soaked, sprouted, baked or roasted too.
Commonly known as Til, they come with a huge bunch of benefits, loaded with fibre, protein, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcim, zinc, copper, selenium and Vitamin E. | Photo by Lluvia Morales on Unsplash
Known for their sweet taste and popular flavour, black grapes are a favourite for many. This seasonal fruit has a host of benefits to give us. Black grapes contain Lutein, Zeaxanthin which prevents retinal damage and macular degeneration. Resveratrol in grapes are known to have anti-cancer properties and have a huge protective effect on cardiac health by lowering LDL levels too. Proanthocyanidins present in this fruit has great benefits for skin health too. Use these grapes in salads, smoothies, jams, and even good old curd rice!
Black grapes contain Lutein, Zeaxanthin which prevents retinal damage and macular degeneration. | Photo by Tina Vanhove on Unsplash
Yes you heard that right. Well these aren't naturally found, but develop this colour due to a process that turns them black and used widely in Asian cuisine. It is regular white garlic that has been fermented or aged. It possesses a caramelized, savoury richness that adds flavour to stir fries, meat bakes, rice and noodles preparations and soups too. These have properties that prevent cell damage and hence protect us from cancers. Black garlic contains more anti-oxidants [almost 2X] than its white counterpart.So why wait -add them in small doses into your meals and let your health thrive.
Black Garlic possesses a caramelized, savoury richness that adds flavour to stir fries, meat bakes, rice and noodles preparations and soups too. | Wikimedia Commons
* Advantages: As mentioned above they come with a host of benefits such as anti-cancer, anti-ageing, good for eye, heart, skin and hair health too.
* Disadvantages: Nothing in particular. There are no real toxicities associated with these foods that are reported and are considered generally safe, but always do remember, too much of anything is not the rule in nutrition.
* Points to remember: Always ensure you have a balanced diet that contains all food groups, myriad colours, nutrients and varieties -- choose in moderation and build them into your daily meal plan with the help of a nutritionist. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Black, food, nutrition, black pulses, til, grapes, garlic, sesame, olive, rice