Friday November 24, 2017

Stressing Over Work? A New Study Says Expressive Writing Can help Brain Relax and Perform Tasks Efficiently

Expressive writing can not only help individuals process past traumas or stressful event but also prepare for stressful tasks in the future

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Stressing over tasks is not going to help achieve targets. But turns out writing about it can. (Representational Image ), Pixabay

New York, September 15, 2017 : If the anxiety of performing an upcoming task is giving you stress, simply writing about your feelings may help you perform the task more efficiently, suggests new research.

The research – published online in the journal Psychophysiology — provides the first neural evidence for the benefits of expressive writing, said lead author Hans Schroder, a doctoral student in psychology at Michigan State University (MSU) in the US.

“Worrying takes up cognitive resources; it’s kind of like people who struggle with worry are constantly multitasking — they are doing one task and trying to monitor and suppress their worries at the same time,” Schroder said.

“Our findings show that if you get these worries out of your head through expressive writing, those cognitive resources are freed up to work toward the task you’re completing and you become more efficient,” Schroder said.

For the study, college students identified as chronically anxious through a validated screening measure completed a computer-based “flanker task” that measured their response accuracy and reaction times.

Before the task, about half of the participants wrote about their deepest thoughts and feelings about the upcoming task for eight minutes. The other half, in the control condition, wrote about what they did the day before.

While the two groups performed at about the same level for speed and accuracy, the expressive-writing group performed the flanker task more efficiently, meaning they used fewer brain resources, measured with electroencephalography, or EEG, in the process.

While much previous research has shown that expressive writing can help individuals process past traumas or stressful events, the current study suggests the same technique can help people — especially worriers — prepare for stressful tasks in the future.

“Expressive writing makes the mind work less hard on upcoming stressful tasks, which is what worriers often get ‘burned out’ over, their worried minds working harder and hotter,” Jason Moser, Associate Professor at MSU.

“This technique takes the edge off their brains so they can perform the task with a ‘cooler head,'” Moser 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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Foods that Fight Depression: Brighten Your Mood with a Rainbow of Food

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vegetables and fruits.
A well stocked stand of vegetables and fruits. VOA

A chocolate bar may make you feel better when you’re down, but a cup of yogurt or a handful of cashews might be a better choice for the foods that fight depression.

“I think about our body in some ways like a car engine,” says therapist Leslie Korn. “We need to give it the right fuel. And each of us has a need for a particular combination of proteins, and carbohydrates and fats.”

Korn has been treating people for trauma and depression for more than 40 years. She noticed that when her patients changed their diet and began eating foods like dark chocolate, sweet potatoes, eggs, and cherries, they had much more success in lifting their depression and decreasing their pain.

She turned her observations into a book: The Good Mood Kitchen. It contains recipes and nutrition tips that can help put you in a good mood.

Fat for the brain

Fats, she explains, are not the nemesis many diets have made them out to be. We need fats in our diet because our brain is made up of fat. “It’s made up of chemicals that talk to each other and that are lubricated by the fat in order to communicate across the synapses and contribute to our ability to focus, to apply attention and to lift our mood. Indeed, there is some very good research going on in the military looking at the role of Omega 3 fatty acids for not only treatment of depression and anxiety, but also for suicide prevention.”

Taking care of the digestive system, which breaks down the fat, is essential for the brain to benefit, and Korn has a suggestion for that, too.

“For example, if your liver and if your gallbladder is not working, you can’t break down fats that are absorbed into the bloodstream and then support brain function. What we know is that the greens, in particular, bitter greens, help us digest fats and send those fats to the brain where we need it.”(VOA)

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Is Your Child Not Getting Enough Sleep Due to Early School Hours? He is at risk of Developing Depression and Anxiety, Says New Study

School timings not only affect the sleeping habits but also the daily functioning of the body, which can harm the child's physical and mental health

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Unhealthy sleeping patterns can lead to major health problems like obesity, heart disease and others in adulthood, Wikimedia

New York, October 9, 2017 : Is your child not getting ample sleep due to early school hours? Beware, your kid is more likely to develop depression and anxiety, warns a new study. The study reveals that children, who start schooling before 8:30 a.m., get insufficient sleep or barely meet the minimum amount of sleep, that is 8-10 hours, needed for healthy functioning of the body.

“Even when a student is doing everything else right to get a good night’s sleep, early school start times put more pressure on the sleep process and increase mental health symptoms, while later school start times appear to be a strong protective factor for teenager,” said Jack Peltz, Professor at the University of Rochester in the US.

School timings not only affect the sleeping habits but also the daily functioning of the body. It aggravates major health problems like obesity, heart disease and others in adulthood. The study, published in the journal Sleep Health, suggested that maintaining a consistent bedtime, getting between eight and 10 hours of sleep, limiting caffeine, turning off the television, cell phone and video games before bed may boost sleep quality as well as mental health.

ALSO READ Prolonged Depression Can Change Structure of Your Brain

The researchers used an online tool to collect data from 197 students across the country between the ages of 14 and 17. The results showed that good sleep hygiene was directly associated with lower average daily depressive or anxiety symptoms across all students.

The risk of depression was even lower in the students who started school after 8:30 a.m. in comparison to those who started early. “One possible explanation for the difference may be that earlier starting students have more pressure on them to get high quality sleep,” Peltz stressed. (IANS)