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How Busyness Leads To Bad Decisions

PHJCG6 Silhouette of a man in the end of tunnel. Image shot 03/2018. Exact date unknown.

When we’re under pressure our mental bandwidth narrows – and that means we focus on the wrong tasks. So what’s the remedy for unproductive ‘tunnelling’? Let’s see if this sounds familiar: You churn through the day at work under deadline pressure, racing to meetings, dashing off emails, feeling busy, purposeful and a little breathless. Yet as the end of the traditional workday draws near, you realise with a sinking feeling that you haven’t even begun the big project you meant to tackle that day.

So you bring work home, or decide not to and can’t stop feeling guilty about it. Either way, your work is spilling over into the rest of your life, stealing time and mental bandwidth away from family or rest or fun, and leaving you feeling exhausted and a little resentful. You resolve that tomorrow will be different. But come morning, you inevitably find yourself back on the treadmill of busyness.

That’s a pattern Antonia Violante has seen a lot at workplaces she’s been studying in the United States for a project on work-life balance. Behavioural scientists and researchers like her call it “tunnelling”. When we’re stressed and feeling pressed for time, Violante explains, our attention and cognitive bandwidth narrow as if we’re in a tunnel. It can sometimes be a good thing, helping us hyper-focus on our most important work.

When we’re stressed and feeling pressed for time…our attention and cognitive bandwidth narrow as if we’re in a tunnel

But tunnelling has a dark side. When we get caught up in a time scarcity trap of busyness, a panicked firefighting mode, we might only have the capacity to focus on the most immediate, often low-value tasks right in front of us rather than the big project or the long-range strategic thinking that would help keep us out of the tunnel in the first place. “We see people end up tunnelling on the wrong thing,” she says.

Why email offers false rewards

Email certainly falls under that category. To Violante, a senior associate at ideas42, a non-profit firm with offices across the US and in New Delhi that uses behavioural science to solve real-world problems, email is the perfect addictive “attention slot machine”. Our brains are wired for novelty, so we actually love being interrupted with every random ping and ding of a new message. And humans enjoy feeling busy and productive. Combine time scarcity with that pull of novelty and our busyness craving and it’s easy to see how we end up focusing our time and attention on whatever’s right in front of us, which, these days, is email.

casino

Email pings feed our brains’ craving for busyness, like an “attention slot machine”, causing us to tunnel on unimportant, menial tasks (Credit: Getty Images)

Busy-loving humans have such an aversion to idleness, in fact, that one study found people preferred giving themselves electric shocks rather than have nothing to do. “So it’s easy to be swept up trying to keep on top of your email inbox,” Violante says. “It allows us to be busy, which feels good. But it leads to a false reward.” Like mistaking busyness for productivity. To get out of that particular busyness tunnel, Violante suggests experimenting with checking mail on a schedule.

That idea, which Violante herself has adopted, is based on research that found smokers given a smoking schedule had greater success quitting than through other methods. The reason, researchers surmised, is that a schedule not only gave people practice and confidence in not smoking, but also broke the link between habitual smoking cues and actually lighting up. A similar idea holds true for email: a 2015 study found that people who check their email on a schedule felt happier and less stressed out than those who checked constantly – which many of us do, spending about five hours a day nosing about our inboxes.

It’s not about having, literally, zero emails in your inbox, but having no ambiguity about what’s in there and having a plan for what’s most important to respond to – Antonia Violante

Violante also suggests that teams set communication protocols for when a response is expected and agree to send emails out only during work hours. To preserve mental bandwidth, she recommends an email mindset shift. “It’s not about having, literally, zero emails in your inbox, but having no ambiguity about what’s in there and having a plan for what’s most important to respond to,” she explains. Though she recognises it’s not easy. “Even behavioural scientists have addiction problems with email.”

How scarcity shrinks mental bandwidth

The concepts of scarcity and tunnelling were first described in behavioural science research on poverty. Anandi Mani, a professor of behavioural economics at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford, and her colleagues wanted to understand what led poor people to make bad choices with their money, such as borrowing at high interest rates or playing the lotto, that can keep them trapped in poverty.

They studied sugar cane farmers in India, and gave them cognitive tests both when the farmers were flush with money right after harvest and when, months later, money was scarce. The researchers found that scarcity itself created such a tax on mental bandwidth that the farmers’ IQ tests dropped 13 points between flush and scarce times.

sugar cane farmers

A research study on sugar cane farmers found that time scarcity creates such a tax on mental bandwidth, it can even temporarily lower IQ (Credit: Getty Images)

“There is a direct parallel between scarcity of money and scarcity of time,” Mani says. “With money, we do what’s urgent – we pay this bill, we try to make the budget work, even when we know it’s more important to take time to be a good parent or talk to your mom. At work, it’s the same. We get captured by whatever’s in front of our face, and we don’t give ourselves the space or introspection to think about what might be more meaningful to do.”

To step out of the time scarcity tunnel, Mani suggests first becoming aware of how you may be trapped in busyness. If you can, you might try smoothing your workload or spreading it out over time, much like research on how income smoothing helps those with money scarcity better weather financial volatility and keep from falling into episodic poverty. Then work with others to create and enforce group norms around taking breaks – at work, during the week, at the weekend.

If you can, you might try smoothing your workload or spreading it out over time

“The old rules – you don’t work on the Sabbath – creating forced slack in our schedules, has real value,” Mani says. She herself is experimenting with 15 minutes of meditation every morning. “It’s making me more aware during the day,” she says. “Honestly, this is a topic which pushes me to a lot of soul searching.”

Plan your time with greater care

Anuj Shah, a professor of behavioural science at the University of Chicago, says scarcity creates its own mindset. His research, in which participants played online games and were either “rich” or “poor” in the number of guesses or attempts allowed, was surprising. Those who were “poor” were actually much more accurate or careful with their resources. But because scarcity narrowed their bandwidth, they were so focused on the current round, they were unable to strategise about the future and made disastrous choices, like borrowing at exorbitant rates, that wound up costing them dearly.

art gallery

We can avoid the scarcity trap if we treat our schedules like a spacious art gallery, rather than an overflowing pantry (Credit: Alamy)

So to keep from tunnelling on the wrong thing or neglecting important tasks that seem less urgent at the moment but will pay greater dividends in the long run, Shah says, people need to recognise that time and bandwidth are limited resources and begin to think of choices around them as trade-offs.

For instance, he says, when we look at our calendar six months from now, it often appears wide open and free of all commitments. So we can overcommit ourselves, which can lead to more time scarcity and tunnelling in the future. “But we know that in six months, that week is going to look a lot like this week, which is usually pretty busy,” Shah says. “So you need to think – how would I fit this in this week? What would I have to give up to do it? We need to realise that slack in the future is an illusion.” It’s a practice he follows as well.

Shah’s colleague Sendhil Mullainathan suggests thinking about our schedules as less like a pantry that we cram anything and everything into, and more like an art gallery where we intentionally decide what is most important and how to arrange it so that everything fits. He recommends setting alerts to help us remember what’s important when we start to fall into the scarcity trap.

“Once we’re short on time, we’re already in a bad situation,” Shah says. “But if we learn to manage the time beforehand, we can keep that from happening in the future.”

Author image

By: Brigid Schulte

Brigid Schulte is a journalist, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play when No One has the Time, and director of the Better Life Lab at New America

Source: How busyness leads to bad decisions

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If you suffer from anxiety, it could be messing with your decision-making! Here’s how. Follow Amy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/astVintageSpace Read More: Anxious people more apt to make bad decisions amid uncertainty http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03… “Highly anxious people have more trouble deciding how best to handle life’s uncertainties. They may even catastrophize, interpreting, say, a lovers’ tiff as a doomed relationship or a workplace change as a career threat.” What Anxiety Does to Your Brain and What You Can Do About It http://articles.mercola.com/sites/art… “Anxiety is a natural, normal response to potential threats, which puts your body into a heightened state of awareness.” Anxiety and the Brain: An Introduction http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/anx… “It should come as little surprise that your brain is the source of your anxiety.” Decision-Making http://www.brainfacts.org/sensing-thi… “Decisions. Decisions. Each day you make thousands of them. Many – what to eat for breakfast or what to wear to a friend’s party – have few, if any, long-lasting consequences. Others – whether to stay in school or look for work – can have a huge impact on the direction of your life.” ____________________ DNews is dedicated to satisfying your curiosity and to bringing you mind-bending stories & perspectives you won’t find anywhere else! New videos twice daily. Watch More DNews on TestTube http://testtube.com/dnews Subscribe now! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_c… DNews on Twitter http://twitter.com/dnews Trace Dominguez on Twitter https://twitter.com/tracedominguez Julia Wilde on Twitter https://twitter.com/julia_sci DNews on Facebook https://facebook.com/DiscoveryNews DNews on Google+ http://gplus.to/dnews Discovery News http://discoverynews.com Download the TestTube App: http://testu.be/1ndmmMq

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4 Tips on How to Make Board Meetings Less Stressful and More Productive, From an Actual Board Member and CEO

For far too many CEOs, board meetings are a cause of stress. They send their teams in a frenzy pulling together materials, there are late-night fire drills of prep sessions, and the meetings feel like one big show-and-tell.

We can all agree that boards are incredibly important: According to a 2019 survey, 94 percent of private companies report increased revenue after putting a board in place. In my experience–both leading meetings as a CEO and attending as a board member and investor–your time together is a tremendous opportunity to dig into your toughest problems as a business.

Here are my top learnings on how to make your board meetings as productive as possible.

1. Have the right people around the table.

The outcome of any meeting is based on who’s in the room. Just like choosing investors, you should think of your board members as serious, long-term partners. You need to vet them and ensure that the people around the table have meaningful and diverse perspectives. For example, my board at LearnVest included a fintech visionary who built and sold his company for almost a billion dollars and a seasoned investor who’s backed internet changing companies like Facebook.

Having board members with directly applicable experience matters. As I always say, if you were going to hike Kilimanjaro, you’d want to talk to people who have been-there, done-that. You’d ask them when to go, what to pack, and their best advice for getting to the top.

As you assemble your board, make sure that you’re building a diverse team–the typical board has a median of only 1.5 women. Ensure diversity in all ways–gender, age, experience, expertise, and beyond. Doing so enables a mix of perspectives that will make for better discussions and smarter business decisions.

Ultimately, your board is an extension of your core team. Get to know them the way you would any senior leader at your company.

2. Focus 95 percent of the time on the tough stuff.

Plain and simple, start the meeting with your worst problems. Dive right into whatever challenge is truly keeping you up at night, and do so at the top of the meeting while everyone is fresh.

Remember: A “good” meeting doesn’t mean you make yourself and your company look like everything is working perfectly. In a growing company, that’ll never be the case. That said, a board meeting is also not the time to unveil surprises. If the problems are especially difficult, be sure to communicate with everyone in advance, giving ample time to process the issues, and then use the meeting for problem-solving. The more transparent you are as a leader, the more your board will trust you. That may mean revealing that a new product launch didn’t go as planned, or that your new senior hire is creating tension. When you treat them like they’re in the weeds with you, they’ll be that much more helpful in getting the work done.

At the end of the day, the board is there to work for you. They’re also owners in the company and want you and the business to succeed.

3. Be prepared and prepare others.

Your time together in a board meeting is limited, so your prep work counts. There are a few simple things that I consider must-dos:

  • First, establish your board meeting dates at the beginning of the year. This ensures that the meetings get on everyone’s (very busy) calendars far in advance and increases the likelihood of everyone attending in person.
  • Second, share these board dates with your senior leadership team. Regardless of whether they’ll actually be in the room presenting, you’ll likely tap them to put briefing materials together. Advance warning will help them carve out enough time to do so.
  • Third, send briefing materials to the entire board a few days in advance of the meeting. Give everyone time to digest and sit with the information. Set the expectation that the board comes to the table ready to roll up their sleeves and work–not to simply watch the CEO present each slide. This is crucial to avoiding blindsiding the board.

4. Assign homework.

The board is there to support the CEO and help the company. So leverage them. Give the board meaningful tasks: Can they make a helpful intro? Close an important hire? I’ve been asked to do all sorts of things, like going with a CEO to scout the company’s next location before they signed a new lease.

Your board should help you throughout the entire year. Company challenges will never align perfectly to your scheduled board meetings. Ask for that extra white-boarding session, and whenever you send an update over email, highlight your clear asks in yellow. It’s simple, but it works.

Here’s to board meetings that make your company that much stronger, more productive, and sustainable.

By: Alexa von Tobel Founder and managing partner, Inspired Capital@alexavontobel

Source: 4 Tips on How to Make Board Meetings Less Stressful and More Productive, From an Actual Board Member and CEO

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Being a Board member in a community or condo association is hard work. Listening and working with residents to help resolve their issues or present their ideas can also be stressful. Our guest coach this episode is Board Certified psychiatrist, Dr. Mehra, who will coach us on how to deal with stressful and difficult board meetings and conversations. Have an issue or question for the Condo Coaches? Email us at help@thecondocoaches.com, or visit us at http://thecondocoaches.com. The Condo Coaches is hosted by a team of volunteers across the State of Florida with legal, educational, and informational resources that assist board members and residents living under a condominium or homeowner’s association. The goal of the program is to help associations run effectively, efficiently, and on budget while helping residents who live in these communities address common concerns and resolve any issues with the Board of Directors. Each week The Condo Coaches offer helpful tips and advice on everyday problems, electing volunteer board members and learning the do’s and don’ts of living in a community association. Website: TheCondoCoaches.com Email: help@thecondocoaches.com Phone: 813.331.5415 Facebook: facebook.com/thecondocoaches

How Can Schools Help Kids With Anxiety?

I met Brianna Sedillo when she pitched my radio station a personal perspective on anxiety, a topic that comes up over and over as teachers and parents try to support young people.

“Everything kind of started with the anxiety and depression after the passing of my grandfather,” Brianna said. “He was kinda my safe space. And losing that was really big.”

Brianna missed her grandfather’s supportive presence acutely during her middle school years, which were difficult. Middle school can be a difficult time for anyone, but for Brianna it was particularly hard socially because her family moved several times. She had trouble making new friends and felt each change of school acutely. Despite all that, she was a good student; she made the honor roll all three years in middle school.

But everything got worse when she started at El Cerrito High School, just outside San Francisco. Brianna’s feelings of isolation intensified, and her depression and anxiety kicked into high gear. She knew that she should be doing her homework, participating in class, and trying to be more social, but she couldn’t bring herself to do any of it. By sophomore year, Brianna was barely passing.

“It was just really rough for me,” Brianna said. She couldn’t stop worrying about what people thought of her, which made her so self-conscious she could barely function. “With my anxiety I tend to overthink everything. And I’m always aware of who’s looking at me and who’s talking about me, who’s judging me.”

Brianna remembers an endless cycle of waking up, going to school, taking work she couldn’t bring herself to do, and coming home to hide in her room and sleep. She lost a lot of weight and didn’t even enjoy playing soccer anymore, her favorite activity. She scrutinized her appearance every few minutes, and became so self-conscious she avoided answering questions she knew in class because she didn’t want people to look at her. When she got home, where she felt safe, all the anxiety she’d been bottling up all day came spilling out.

“It’s like something goes off and the anxiety kind of kicks in,” Brianna said. She would go over every tiny detail of the day. “Everything that I did that day. The way I pronounce something, the way I did something, The way I walked.” Then she would start thinking about her mom and how she should be working harder to make her mom proud, and that only made her feel worse.

“And then I start to panic and then it’s like, what am I going to do? Like, I’m going to disappoint my mom. And then I can’t breathe and then I get shaky, and I end up in a ball on the floor just trying to get my breathing back on track,” she said.

Brianna is just one of many young people around the country experiencing anxiety, and often the depression that comes with it. Teachers and parents all over the country are noticing an increase in mental health issues, including anxiety, among students.

There isn’t much research directly surveying adolescents on their anxiety. In 2004, the National Institute of Mental Health estimated that about a third of adolescents (ages 13-18) have been or will be seriously affected by anxiety in their lifetimes. More recently, a study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, based on parent surveys for the National Survey of Children’s Health, concluded that more than one in twenty U.S. children (ages 6-17) had anxiety or depression in 2011-2012. And a UCLA survey of college freshman conducted each year, found in 2017 that close to 39 percent frequently felt “overwhelmed by all I had to do.” Parents and educators are scrambling to understand why kids seem to be more anxious and how to help them.

One School’s Attempt to Dispel the Isolation That Accompanies Anxiety

Brianna is far from the only student at El Cerrito High suffering from anxiety. In fact, counselors at the James Morehouse Project, the school’s wellness center, began noticing a few years ago that more and more students named anxiety as a chief concern. Most felt completely alone.

“A lot of students [were] coming in saying, ‘people don’t get this. Other students don’t experience this. People don’t know what it’s like,’” said Rachel Krow-Boniske, a social work intern at the James Morehouse Project. “And seeing that from so many different students made me want to be like, ‘Actually, this is really common! And if you all got to talk with each other and connect with each other over the experience, it might feel less alienating.’”

So Krow-Boniske and another intern, Forest Novak, started an anxiety group in the 2018-19 school year. They recommended some students they were seeing individually, and spread the word among teachers, who also recommended students who might benefit from participating.

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The group includes students from all grades and fluctuates in size from eight to ten. It meets once a week so students can discuss their anxiety, gain confidence that they aren’t the only ones struggling, and learn coping strategies. Krow-Boniske and Novak want students to become more aware of the signs of their anxiety, what triggers it, and how they can tell themselves a different story about what’s happening.

The course is broken down into sections. The first several weeks the two counselors facilitate a process of self-discovery for students. They do writing exercises with students to help them think carefully about how their bodies feel when they’re getting anxious, what’s happening around them, and what messages their anxiety tells them about themselves. After they validate that a lot of people are having similar feelings, the curriculum moves on to dig into seven types of coping strategies: grounding, distraction, emotional release, thought challenging, self-love, and accessing the truest parts of oneself to help hold all the other coping mechanisms.

“I’ve been amazed by how much they know about their own anxiety,” Krow-Boniske said. “They seem so aware of what’s happening for them and just haven’t quite had the words or the space to talk about it.”

Part Of a Broad Strategy to Support Students Where They’re At

The anxiety group is just one of many student wellness services offered at the James Morehouse Project, or the JMP as everyone at El Cerrito High calls it. The center is named for a former staff member who had a gift for connecting with students. Jenn Rader, a former history teacher, started the JMP when she realized that her students were struggling with far more than academics in her classroom.

“Those things were taking up so much space that there was really nothing left over to receive what was being offered in the building,” Rader said.

When it opened more than 20 years ago, the James Morehouse Project focused on providing health services and a little bit of counseling to students. Now, it offers an impressive array of services. It has a free, full-service medical clinic where students can get physical exams and an array of reproductive health services. It also has a dental clinic for students with MediCal, California’s Medicaid program.

It offers a youth development program aimed at cultivating students’ leadership and activism. Its staff provide one-on-one counseling services, as well as groups dedicated to almost everything a struggling student would need: support for queer-identified young people of color, an Arabic-speaking girls group, a support group for Muslim students, another support group for students who’ve suffered a catastrophic loss, and social skills groups for students who have a difficult time connecting with other young people.

“I think there’s been kind of a culture shift, a growing awareness and a growing commitment to ensure that children and young people arrive in a building with what they need in order to enter a classroom ready to learn,” Rader said.

More than 1,500 students attend El Cerrito High. Rader says almost a third of them have a meaningful interaction with the JMP each year either through groups or counseling. That’s only possible because the JMP runs a robust clinical social work internship program.

All those extra adults make a big difference in the lives of kids. When Brianna first came to the JMP, she saw an intern counselor who she says changed her life.

“She didn’t tell me what I was supposed to be, who I was supposed to be,” Brianna said. “She sat there and she listened, and she helped me just discover who I was. She helped me get deeper with myself and realizing things I hadn’t realized before. By the end of that, I was a much happier person. It was like a weight was on my shoulders, and piece by piece, she helped me take it off.”

How Parents Can Help Their Kids With Anxiety

Many students I spoke with for this story feel misunderstood by the adults around them. Their anxiety makes it difficult for them to complete assignments or be proactive, and that can look like procrastination. Brianna, for example, felt she was letting her mother down when she couldn’t bring herself to do her homework. Feeling inadequate made the anxiety and depression worse.

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Nina Kaiser is a child psychologist based in San Francisco who has been working with anxious kids for over 15 years. She says the feelings Brianna describes, as well as the misunderstandings that can arise with parents, are common. If parents want to get to the bottom of the problem, the first step is to understand how anxiety works.

“Your brain is constantly scanning your environment, looking for danger,” Kaiser explained. “It’s true for all of us, every single one of us, but when you are experiencing anxiety, it’s like a smoke detector or alarm that goes off more frequently.”

Kaiser likes working with anxious kids because there are effective treatments. One of the most effective ways to treat anxiety is with cognitive behavioral therapy. She helps her patients address both their physical responses to anxiety, as well as their distorted thoughts or “cognitions.” These thoughts often tend towards catastrophizing or ruminating on something that happened in the past, or could happen in the future.

“You’re teaching kids strategies around noticing those thoughts and being able to push back against them, or to shift gears instead of getting stuck in that pattern,” Kaiser said.

But it takes a lot of practice to step back from the panicked feelings and to look at them with a little more objective distance. She describes anxious thoughts to her clients as junk mail or spam. She directs them to look for evidence that supports the negative thoughts, or disproves them. So, if a student is anxious about failing a test, Kaiser will coach them to think about their past performance on tests, their grades overall, and whether this one test even matters that much.

But, she adds, “Those [anxious] thoughts tend to be really powerful and really automatic. They’re coming into your mind really quickly, really loudly, and it’s challenging to step back and notice that there are other ways to think about the situation.”

Kaiser says anxiety can be tricky for parents to handle because they may see it as laziness on the part of their child. But rather than judging them for not doing their homework or not wanting to go out with friends, she recommends they try to approach the situation with curiosity. When parents don’t assume they know what’s happening with their child, they can open up more space for the child to confide what’s really going on.

Kaiser also says that one of the hardest parts about treating anxiety is confronting the things that make a person anxious. Kids aren’t going to want to do that, and a parent’s first instinct is often to protect their child from things that cause them distress. Kaiser reminds her clients and their parents that anxiety is trying to control them and the best way to get out from under that is to push back.

“So if a kid is really spiraling about something, if parents are overly reassuring, they’re also sending a message that there’s something valid about that anxiety,” Kaiser said.

She recommends parents and their kids read reputable sources about anxiety ahead of time, when tensions aren’t high. Then, when a panic attack hits or a student is particularly anxious, it’s easier for parents to gently push them without making their child feel they aren’t emotionally supported. Kaiser knows this is hard for parents to do, but she says having a collaborative relationship established ahead of time will make it easier.

It’s All About Resilience

After Brianna got help with her depression at the James Morehouse Project, she also developed coping strategies for her anxiety. She still gets panic attacks sometimes, but now she knows how to handle them. And she’s headed to community college in the fall, a new phase of life that excites her.

James Morehouse Project director Jenn Rader says it’s no surprise students are anxious in today’s world. Her students are dealing with a lot of trauma from the world around them. Their families are struggling to make ends meet in an economy that is increasingly unequal. They are worried about their futures in an insecure world. Many feel that if they aren’t perfect, they’ve failed. And they’re constantly comparing themselves to others on social media. They are terrified of school shootings, immigration raids, violence in their neighborhoods, and even not getting into a good college.

Nina Kaiser says she’s seeing patients with serious anxiety at younger and younger ages. She’s even started an anxiety group, called Mighty Minds, with elementary school-aged children to help kids build up the resilience they’ll need to face middle and high school stress before they get there.

“Why are we waiting until kids are already struggling? These are really life skills. The ability to calm yourself down, to notice when you’re feeling stressed. I’m practically 40 years old. These are still skills that I’m practicing day by day.”

She hopes with these tools available to them, kids will have skills to fall back on when they run up against adversity.

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Source: How Can Schools Help Kids With Anxiety?

 

No, Eating Chocolate Won’t Cure Depression

A recent study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety has attracted widespread media attention. Media reports said eating chocolate, in particular, dark chocolate, was linked to reduced symptoms of depression.

A recent study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety has attracted widespread media attention. Media reports said eating chocolate, in particular, dark chocolate, was linked to reduced symptoms of depression.

Unfortunately, we cannot use this type of evidence to promote eating chocolate as a safeguard against depression, a serious, common and sometimes debilitating mental health condition.

This is because this study looked at an association between diet and depression in the general population. It did not gauge causation. In other words, it was not designed to say whether eating dark chocolate caused a reduction in depressive symptoms.


Read more: What causes depression? What we know, don’t know and suspect


What did the researchers do?

The authors explored data from the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This shows how common health, nutrition and other factors are among a representative sample of the population.

People in the study reported what they had eaten in the previous 24 hours in two ways. First, they recalled in person, to a trained dietary interviewer using a standard questionnaire. The second time they recalled what they had eaten over the phone, several days after the first recall.

The researchers then calculated how much chocolate participants had eaten using the average of these two recalls.

Dark chocolate needed to contain at least 45% cocoa solids for it to count as “dark”.


Read more: Explainer: what is memory?


The researchers excluded from their analysis people who ate an implausibly large amount of chocolate, people who were underweight and/or had diabetes.

The remaining data (from 13,626 people) was then divided in two ways. One was by categories of chocolate consumption (no chocolate, chocolate but no dark chocolate, and any dark chocolate). The other way was by the amount of chocolate (no chocolate, and then in groups, from the lowest to highest chocolate consumption).


Read more: Monday’s medical myth: chocolate is an aphrodisiac


The researchers assessed people’s depressive symptoms by having participants complete a short questionnaire asking about the frequency of these symptoms over the past two weeks.

The researchers controlled for other factors that might influence any relationship between chocolate and depression, such as weight, gender, socioeconomic factors, smoking, sugar intake and exercise.

What did the researchers find?

Of the entire sample, 1,332 (11%) of people said they had eaten chocolate in their two 24 hour dietary recalls, with only 148 (1.1%) reporting eating dark chocolate.

A total of 1,009 (7.4%) people reported depressive symptoms. But after adjusting for other factors, the researchers found no association between any chocolate consumption and depressive symptoms.

Few people said they’d eaten any chocolate in the past 24 hours. Were they telling the truth? from www.shutterstock.com

However, people who ate dark chocolate had a 70% lower chance of reporting clinically relevant depressive symptoms than those who did not report eating chocolate.

When investigating the amount of chocolate consumed, people who ate the most chocolate were more likely to have fewer depressive symptoms.

What are the study’s limitations?

While the size of the dataset is impressive, there are major limitations to the investigation and its conclusions.

First, assessing chocolate intake is challenging. People may eat different amounts (and types) depending on the day. And asking what people ate over the past 24 hours (twice) is not the most accurate way of telling what people usually eat.

Then there’s whether people report what they actually eat. For instance, if you ate a whole block of chocolate yesterday, would you tell an interviewer? What about if you were also depressed?

This could be why so few people reported eating chocolate in this study, compared with what retail figures tell us people eat.


Read more: These 5 foods are claimed to improve our health. But the amount we’d need to consume to benefit is… a lot


Finally, the authors’ results are mathematically accurate, but misleading.

Only 1.1% of people in the analysis ate dark chocolate. And when they did, the amount was very small (about 12g a day). And only two people reported clinical symptoms of depression and ate any dark chocolate.

The authors conclude the small numbers and low consumption “attests to the strength of this finding”. I would suggest the opposite.

Finally, people who ate the most chocolate (104-454g a day) had an almost 60% lower chance of having depressive symptoms. But those who ate 100g a day had about a 30% chance. Who’d have thought four or so more grams of chocolate could be so important?

This study and the media coverage that followed are perfect examples of the pitfalls of translating population-based nutrition research to public recommendations for health.

My general advice is, if you enjoy chocolate, go for darker varieties, with fruit or nuts added, and eat it mindfully. — Ben Desbrow


Blind peer review

Chocolate manufacturers have been a good source of funding for much of the research into chocolate products.

While the authors of this new study declare no conflict of interest, any whisper of good news about chocolate attracts publicity. I agree with the author’s scepticism of the study.

Just 1.1% of people in the study ate dark chocolate (at least 45% cocoa solids) at an average 11.7g a day. There was a wide variation in reported clinically relevant depressive symptoms in this group. So, it is not valid to draw any real conclusion from the data collected.

For total chocolate consumption, the authors accurately report no statistically significant association with clinically relevant depressive symptoms.

However, they then claim eating more chocolate is of benefit, based on fewer symptoms among those who ate the most.

In fact, depressive symptoms were most common in the third-highest quartile (who ate 100g chocolate a day), followed by the first (4-35g a day), then the second (37-95g a day) and finally the lowest level (104-454g a day). Risks in sub-sets of data such as quartiles are only valid if they lie on the same slope.

The basic problems come from measurements and the many confounding factors. This study can’t validly be used to justify eating more chocolate of any kind. — Rosemary Stanton


Research Checks interrogate newly published studies and how they’re reported in the media. The analysis is undertaken by one or more academics not involved with the study, and reviewed by another, to make sure it’s accurate.

Associate Professor, Nutrition and Dietetics, Griffith University

Rosemary Stanton is a Friend of The Conversation.

Visiting Fellow, School of Medical Sciences, UNSW

Source: No, eating chocolate won’t cure depression

The Importance of Working For A Boss Who Supports You

Employers seek loyalty and dedication from their employees but sometimes fail to return their half of the equation, leaving millennial workers feeling left behind and unsupported. Professional relationships are built on trust and commitment, and working for a boss that supports you is vital to professional and company success.

Employees who believe their company cares for them perform better. What value does an employer place on you as an employee? Are you there to get the job done and go home? Are you paid fairly, well-trained and confident in your job security? Do you work under good job conditions? Do you receive constructive feedback, or do you feel demeaned or invisible?

When millennial employees feel supported by their boss, their happiness on the job soars — and so does company success. Building a healthy relationship involves the efforts of both parties — boss and employee — and the result not only improves company success, but also the quality of policies, feedback and work culture.

Investing In A Relationship With Your Boss

When you’re first hired, you should get to know your company’s culture and closely watch your boss as you learn the ropes. It’s best to clarify any questions you have instead of going rogue on a project and ending up with a failed proposal for a valuable client.

Regardless of your boss’s communication style, speaking up on timely matters before consequences are out of your control builds trust and establishes healthy communication. Getting to know your boss begins with knowing how they move through the business day, including their moods, how they prefer to communicate and their style of leadership:

  • Mood: Perhaps your boss needs their cup of coffee to start the day. If you see other employees scurry away before the boss drains that cup of coffee, bide your time, too.
  • Communication: The boss’s communication style is also influenced by their mood. Don’t wait too late to break important news. In-depth topics may be scheduled for a meeting through a phone call or email to check in and show you respect your boss’s time. In return, your time will be respected, too.

Some professionals are more emotionally reinforcing that others. Some might appear cold, but in reality, prefer to use hard data to solidify the endpoint as an analytical style. If you’re more focused on interpersonal relationships, that’s your strength, but you must also learn and respect your boss’s communication style.

  • Leadership: What kind of leader is the boss? Various communication styles best fit an organization depending on its goals and culture, but provide both advantages and disadvantages. Autocratic leaders assume total authority on decision-making without input or challenge from others. Participative leaders value the democratic input of team members, but final decisions remain with the boss.

Autocratic leaders may be best equipped to handle emergency decisions over participative leaders, depending on the situation and information received.

While the boss wields a position of power over employees, it’s important that leaders don’t hold that over their employees’ heads. In the case of dissatisfaction at work, millennial employees don’t carry the sole blame. Respect is mutually earned, and ultimately a healthy relationship between leaders and employees betters the company and the budding careers of millennials.

A Healthy Relationship With Leaders Betters The Company

A Gallup report reveals that millennial career happiness is down while disengagement at work climbs — 71% of millennials aren’t engaged on the job and half of all employed plan on leaving within a year. What is the cause? Bosses carry the responsibility for 70% of employee engagement variances. Meanwhile, engaged bosses are 59% more prone to having and retaining engaged employees.

The supportive behaviors of these managers to engage their employees included being accessible for discussion, motivating by strengths over weaknesses and helping to set goals. According to the Gallup report, the primary determiner of employee retention and engagement are those in leadership positions. The boss is poised to affect employee happiness, satisfaction, productivity and performance directly.

The same report reveals that only 21% of millennial employees meet weekly with their boss and 17% receive meaningful feedback. The most positive engagement booster was in managers who focused on employee strengths. In the end, one out of every two employees will leave a job to get away from their boss when unsupported.

Millennials are taking the workforce by storm — one-third of those employed are millennials, and soon those numbers will take the lead. Millennials are important to companies as technology continues to shift and grow, and they are passionate about offering their talents to their employers. It’s vital that millennials have access to bosses who offer support and engage their staff through meaningful feedback, accessibility and help with goal-setting.

In return, millennial happiness and job satisfaction soar, positively impacting productivity, performance, policy and work culture. A healthy relationship between boss and employee is vital to company success and the growth of millennial careers as the workforce continues to age. Bosses shouldn’t be the reason that millennial employees leave. They should be the reason millennials stay and thrive in the workplace, pushing it toward greater success.

I am a digital marketing specialist, freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, a career advice blog that focuses on happiness and creating a career you love. I graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 2014 with majors in Marketing and Economics and a focus in psychology. After graduating, I began my career and started writing on the side after studying the psychology of happiness.

Source: The Importance of Working For A Boss Who Supports You

 

 

 

Best Stress Medication? This Doctor Says It’s RediCalm Doctor Formulated

The Biological Cause of Anxiety

Scientists have identified why it can be so difficult to escape the cycle of negative behavior.Your mood is strongly influenced by two key neurotransmitters, GABA and serotonin. When levels are low, anxious thoughts fill your mind and you don’t you feel like yourself.

But promoting healthy levels of GABA and serotonin helps restore your mind to a state of calm. More importantly, this feeling is maintained even when you are faced with a stressful situation.

Prescription medication is often considered the only treatment for anxiety. However, a new group of doctors are advocating for a more natural approach.

“Our Research Confirms a Natural Approach Is Best”

Dr. Hoffman reveals new clinical evidence supporting the use of natural remedies for anxiety relief.

Ronald Hoffman, MD, has been practicing for over 30 years in New York City and is an internationally recognized expert in integrative medicine. He and his team of researchers have been investigating the most effective alternative remedies to boost levels of GABA and serotonin naturally.

“After months of research and testing, we arrived at a formula of 5 natural ingredients that outperformed all others in terms of safety and effectiveness,” Dr. Hoffman states. “Following the results of the placebo-controlled clinical study, we decided to release the formula to the public.”

Ashwagandha

Passion Flower

L-Theanine

Lemon Balm

5-HTP:

The Clinical Study

  • More than 2 out of 3 participants experienced anxiety relief within just 30 minutes of taking RediCalm.
  • More than 95% of participants felt improvement in their overall anxiety level over the course of 30 days.
  • None of the participants reported any negative side effects.
  • Every participant said that they would recommend RediCalm to a friend or relative.

Each of the ingredients in the RediCalm formula has a long-standing history of safety and effectiveness.

RediCalm can be taken with most prescription and over-the-counter medications. When taken as directed, RediCalm is safe, poses no short-term or long-term health risks, and is not addictive or habit-forming.

As with any dietary supplement, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before taking RediCalm. Please visit our Safety Facts page for more information about contraindications and possible side effects.

* For more details, click here to view the complete results of the study.

Source: Clinically Proven Natural Stress Relief

8 Simple Steps to Relieve Stress

Stress is never good for you or your health. But with almost 54% of the Americans, stress has become part of their lives. It can be stress from work, family or could be of dealing with financial issues. Whatever the cause of stress, it isn’t good for your health.

Here are 8 simple steps to relieve stress from your everyday life.

Understand the Source of Stress

When it comes to stress, it’s surprising that most people don’t even realize they are stressed. Common indications of stress include tense muscles, clenched jaws, and hands or a feeling of cramps in your stomach. Other telling symptoms are frustrations and anger.

Whenever you feel stressed, find out the reason for your stress. One of the most common stress factors includes financial problems. Enlist help. Talk to a financial advisor. They will help you guide you out of your financial situation. For instance, they will guide you on how to deal with debt collectors effectively.

Other sources of stress could be your workplace or family issues. Find out how you can deal with them. Don’t leave everything to time. Try to find solutions for your issues. This will help you use your energy is a positive way, which can also be a great stress buster.

Practice Deep Breathing Techniques

When you are stressed, your body starts releasing stress hormones. When you feel an increase in heart beat and your breathing get quicker, sit down and practice deep breathing. Deep breathing activates your nervous system which in turn will help your body to relax.

Start by focusing on your breathing. Take a deep breath. Breathe through your nose. Fill up your lungs with air. Slowly release the breath through your mouth. Practice for 10x times. Bring down your breathing rate. Feel your body relaxing.

Exercise

One reason for the increase in stress for many people is the decrease in physical activity. Your body needs physical stress, to give the brain some rest to relieve itself of all the mental stress.

When you exercise, your body releases hormones called endorphins. Endorphins are natural pain killers and help your body in combating stress. The release of these hormones also improves your sleep quality, thus improving mood and reducing stress.

Some forms of exercise you can try out are walking, running, yoga, dancing, swimming etc.

Use Your Senses

Sensory experience can help you deal with stress is an effective manner. When you employ the use of your five senses, you become more aware of your surroundings which help you relieve stress in a calming manner. Here’s how you can employ the use each of each sense to relieve stress:

Sight: Close your eyes and imagine your happy place. It could be your childhood home or just a beautiful place you went to recently. Another way to use your sight is to go outdoors. Go to a park or a scenic place. Talk a walk around. You can also put flowers in your home to enlighten it.

Hearing: Listen to some calming, good music. You can also turn on some background classical music to help you relax.

Smell: Light candles or burn essential oils. Some good calming scents you can try are Lavender, Germanium, Neroli, Rose, and Sandalwood.

Touch: Relax your muscles and body with a good massage. Get a professional masseur to unknot the tensions in your muscles. Give your spouse or partner a good kiss. Hug your children closely. Taking a warm bath or resting under a warm blanket will also do the trick.

Taste: Mindless eating can add inches to your waistline. That can also be a source of constant stress for most people. Whenever you eat, enjoy the entire experience. Take small bites and savor the flavor with each bite. Enjoy your favorite snack or meal. Give it time. Some stress relieving foods you can try out are dark chocolate, citrus foods and foods containing omega 3 fatty acids. You can also try drinking calming, herbal teas.

Unplug from the World

When most people feel stressed, they turn to media. They watch TV or scroll through their cell phones mindlessly. The idea is to switch off the stress by focusing on something else. But research concludes that the use of media including smart phones actually increases stress levels.

Unplug from the world and media. Even if you don’t feel stressed on a particular day, don’t let media entertain you. Turn off the TV for the rest of the day. Go without using the Wi-Fi on your cell phone for a day. Turn off your cell phone when you get home. If you can’t do it daily, do it at least three or four times in a week.

Get Together with Family and Friends

The right way to forget about your stress is by spending time with family and friends. Plan an outdoor picnic together. Laugh and smile together. Discuss your problems. Be each other’s support system. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

When you spend time with your loved ones, your body releases oxytocin. Oxytocin is a natural stress reliever. This is especially true for women and children.

Source: 8 Simple Steps to Relieve Stress

The misery is real: A third of the world is stressed, worried and in pain, Gallup report finds

Image result for STRESSED PEOPLE

About a third of people worldwide were stressed, worried and in pain last year, and more than half of Americans feel pressure and strain. That’s according to the 2019 Global Emotions Report, Gallup’s annual snapshot of the world’s emotional state.

Chad, a North African country beset by violence, was the most negative country in the world last year, the report found, and Paraguay and Panama led a host of Latin American countries atop the list of most positive countries.

The USA? Well, we’re more stressed than almost anybody.

Most Americans (55%) recall feeling stressed during much of the day in 2018. That’s more than all but three other countries, including top-ranking Greece (59%), which has led the world in stress since 2012.

Nearly half of Americans felt worried (45%) and more than a fifth (22%) felt angry, they told Gallup – both up from 2017. Americans’ stress increased, too, topping the global average by 20 percentage points.

“Even as their economy roared, more Americans were stressed, angry and worried last year than they have been at most points during the past decade,” Julie Ray, a Gallup editor, wrote in a summary report.

A country where 66% feel pain

Americans were more stressed than residents of Chad, the world’s saddest and most pain-stricken population. Fifty-one percent of Chadians report stress last year, along with 54% reporting sadness. Two-thirds there felt worried, and 66% felt physical pain.

“The country’s overall score at least partly reflects the violence, displacement and the collapse of basic services in parts of Chad that have affected thousands of families,” Gallup says in an analysis, noting seven out of 10 residents struggled to afford food that year.

West African nations of Niger and Sierra Leone follow Chad in Gallup’s report, which ranks each nation based on resident responses to phone and face-to-face interviews with about 1,000 adults worldwide. Iraq and Iran follow, respectively, in the top five.

A vaccine drive in the village of Agang in the Ouaddai highlands region of eastern Chad, bordering west Sudan on March 25, 2019.

Latin American countries are the most positive. But why?

A train of Latin American countries leads the most-positive list. Guatemala, Mexico and El Salvador follow top-ranked Paraguay and Panama in a tie. All of the top 10 most-positive nations are Latin American save one: Indonesia.

“I think it’s not a coincidence,” says Ricardo Ainslie, a Mexican-born psychologist and a director at the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas-Austin. “Latin Americans tend to be so family-focused that I think that provides a sense of ‘Whatever happens, I’ve always got this. (Family) is always my bedrock.’ ”

Indeed, Gallup notes its scores strongly relate, in part, the presence of social networks, and Latin American nations prevail on its positive list “year after year.”

The Gutierrez family, diplaced by floods, prepare for breakfast in a temporary shelter in Asuncion, Paraguay, Friday, April 5, 2019.

Gallup posed questions to residents of more than 140 countries for the lists, asking about the positive (“Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?”) and the negative (“How about sadness?”).

A family focus in top-ranked Paraguay bleeds into day-to-day culture, says Barbara Ganson, a Florida Atlantic University professor and editor of “Contemporary Paraguay: Politics, Society, and the Environment.”

Paraguayans typically work from 7 to 11 a.m., she says, before returning home for lunch and relaxation with family. They finish work from 3 to 7 p.m.

“Family-work balance is very different from what we experience here in the United States and in many other countries,” Ganson says.

Follow Josh Hafner on Twitter: @joshhafner

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The misery is real: A third of the world is stressed, worried and in pain, Gallup report finds

Source: The misery is real: A third of the world is stressed, worried and in pain, Gallup report finds

How Do You Steer Through Turbulent Waters? Five Steps To Successfully Navigate Conflict At Work – Jay Sullivan

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Conflict is part of life. Most of us avoid conflict when we can, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable. Early in our careers, when we feel powerless relative to those around us, we tend to deal with conflict by ducking, dodging or deferring, knowing that we don’t have much leverage to push back. But as we progress in our careers, we gain clout, credibility and control, and our approach evolves. How can we handle conflict more effectively, regardless of where we are on the seniority spectrum? Let’s start by defining terms. For the purposes of this piece, “conflict” means a situation where two or more people believe strongly in differing paths and a certain stubbornness…………….

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysullivan/2018/11/15/how-do-you-steer-through-turbulent-waters-five-steps-to-successfully-navigate-conflict-at-work/#63292f1850c2

 

 

 

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We Need to Talk More About Mental Health at Work – Morra Aarons-Mele

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Alyssa Mastromonaco is no stranger to tough conversations: she served as White House deputy chief of staff for operations under President Obama, was an executive at Vice and A&E, and is Senior Advisor and spokesperson at NARAL Pro-Choice America. So when Mastromonaco switched to a new antidepressant, she decided to tell her boss. “I told the CEO that I was on Zoloft and was transitioning to Wellbutrin,” Mastromonaco said. “I can react strongly to meds, so I was worried switching would shift my mood and wanted her to know why…….

Read more: https://hbr.org/2018/11/we-need-to-talk-more-about-mental-health-at-work

 

 

 

 

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