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It may be macabre, but dark tourism helps us learn from the worst of human history

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dr-neil-robinson-1312179">Dr Neil Robinson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-salford-878">University of Salford</a></em></p> <p>Dark tourism has become a much more well-covered pasttime in recent years, in which a macabre fascination lead tourists to travel to various places not served by Thomas Cook: the sites of battles and genocides, war cemeteries, prisons, and even <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/07/the-rise-of-dark-tourism/374432/">current warzones such as Syria</a>.</p> <p>The 20th century alone has provided such a <a href="http://www.therichest.com/expensive-lifestyle/location/10-great-places-to-visit-for-dark-tourism/">long list of places</a> at which catastrophes or great loss of life and suffering has occurred. Sites visited range from the spot from which JFK was assassinated, to prisons such as Alcatraz in San Francisco, through to battlefields of the World Wars, or the vestiges of genocides such at Auschwitz in Poland or Tuol Sleng in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but we shouldn’t condemn those for whom this is an interest.</p> <p>Dark tourism appears to be a manifestation of our media-rich society through which information found online may persuade us to see historical sites in person. But its origins can be traced back much further than the fascination with death and disasters of the 19th and 20th century. In the 11th century, people and pilgrims often visited places with religious significance such as Jerusalem, where the location of Christ’s crucifixion is a popular attraction; tourists visited Gettysburg, the site of the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War in 1863; and in more recent centuries, the Grand Tour offered an opportunity for the wealthy to experience Europe, with sites such as the classical ruins of the Colosseum in Rome – which in the name of entertainment saw execution, torture and death – one of the must-see attractions.</p> <p>Today, in parallel with the growth in popularity of dark tourism is the enormous growth of social media and the 24-hour news economy. The ease of access to such blanket coverage through the web, Facebook and Twitter has increased people’s awareness of, and fascination for, these historical sites of war, conflict and catastrophe. For example, the last decade has brought a surge in visitor numbers to <a href="https://theconversation.com/from-fiction-to-gallows-humour-how-chernobyl-survivors-are-still-coping-with-trauma-57923">Chernobyl</a>, where guides take visitors around the abandoned city of Pripyat (radiation levels permitting) which has been deserted since the nuclear power plant explosion on April 26, 1986. The 30th anniversary this year has in itself <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3526271/Chernobyl-tourists-pose-photos-eerie-sites.html">added to interest in visiting</a> the overgrown and crumbling city.</p> <p>As with tourism of any kind, this greater footfall brings benefits. In this case, not just the economic boost but also as a tool of education and even conflict resolution. For example, the <a href="http://www.belfasttours.com/package/belfast-political-mural-tour">taxi tours of Belfast’s murals</a>, which document Northern Ireland’s Troubles, offer visitors a way to understand the history and provide the communities involved a means to reflect and move on from the conflict. This model is <a href="http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=25852">viewed with interest</a> and hope by moderates on both sides of the Arab-Israeli divide searching for a peaceful solution for the long term.</p> <p>The tours of <a href="http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/916">Robin Island prison</a> in South Africa, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years incarcerated among many others, starkly present how those imprisoned by a corrupt and discriminatory political regime can later engage in peace and reconciliation. The <a href="http://www.bruisedpassports.com/africa/5-reasons-you-must-go-for-a-township-tour-in-south-africa">Soweto township tours</a> in Johannesburg have acted in part as a means through which generations of South Africans can better understand their country’s dark past and help to establish truth and reconciliation for the future.</p> <p>Dark tourism should not in my opinion by viewed as unethical, repugnant or even a self-indulgent activity. Certainly some dark tourists may engage in their pursuits for all the wrong reasons, seeing death and destruction as a commodity to be consumed with little thought for those who caught up in its wake. But others visit such sites to pay their respects, to better understand the magnitude of death and destruction, and to inform the outside world of the details of terrible events – even in some case offering to help. These are positive effects that may come from so much pain and suffering.</p> <p>We should strive to better understand the origins of the terrible events of human history to be more able to prevent us repeating them. In this regard, that more people visit sites associated with dark tourism and learn about them should be seen as a positive.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/60966/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dr-neil-robinson-1312179">Dr Neil Robinson</a>, Lecturer in Business, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-salford-878">University of Salford</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/it-may-be-macabre-but-dark-tourism-helps-us-learn-from-the-worst-of-human-history-60966">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Trouble

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Want to sleep longer? Adding mini-bursts of exercise to your evening routine can help

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jennifer-gale-1548741">Jennifer Gale</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/meredith-peddie-1548807">Meredith Peddie</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a></em></p> <p>Exercising before bed has <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352721815000157">long been discouraged</a> as the body doesn’t have time to wind down before the lights go out.</p> <p>But <a href="https://bmjopensem.bmj.com/content/10/3/e001774">new research</a> has found breaking up a quiet, sedentary evening of watching television with short bursts of resistance exercise can lead to longer periods of sleep.</p> <p>Adults spend almost one third of the 24-hour day sleeping. But the quality and length of sleep can affect long-term health. Sleeping too little or waking often in the night is associated with an <a href="https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article-lookup/doi/10.5665/sleep.1382">increased risk of heart disease</a> and <a href="https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/33/2/414/27149/Quantity-and-Quality-of-Sleep-and-Incidence-of">diabetes</a>.</p> <p>Physical activity during the day can help improve sleep. However, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352721815000157">current recommendations</a> discourage intense exercise before going to bed as it can increase a person’s heart rate and core temperature, which can ultimately disrupt sleep.</p> <h2>Nighttime habits</h2> <p>For many, the longest period of uninterrupted sitting happens at home in the evening. People also usually consume their largest meal during this time (or snack throughout the evening).</p> <p>Insulin (the hormone that helps to remove sugar from the blood stream) tends to be at a lower level in the evening than in the morning.</p> <p>Together these factors promote elevated blood sugar levels, which over the long term can be bad for a person’s health.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/fulltext/2023/08000/breaking_up_evening_sitting_with_resistance.14.aspx">previous research</a> found interrupting evening sitting every 30 minutes with three minutes of resistance exercise reduces the amount of sugar in the bloodstream after eating a meal.</p> <p>But because sleep guidelines currently discourage exercising in the hours before going to sleep, we wanted to know if frequently performing these short bursts of light activity in the evening would affect sleep.</p> <h2>Activity breaks for better sleep</h2> <p>In our latest research, we asked 30 adults to complete two sessions based in a laboratory.</p> <p>During one session the adults sat continuously for a four-hour period while watching streaming services. During the other session, they interrupted sitting by performing three minutes of body-weight resistance exercises (squats, calf raises and hip extensions) every 30 minutes.</p> <p>After these sessions, participants went home to their normal life routines. Their sleep that evening was measured using a wrist monitor.</p> <p>Our research found the quality of sleep (measured by how many times they woke in the night and the length of these awakenings) was the same after the two sessions. But the night after the participants did the exercise “activity breaks” they slept for almost 30 minutes longer.</p> <p>Identifying the biological reasons for the extended sleep in our study requires further research.</p> <p>But regardless of the reason, if activity breaks can extend sleep duration, then getting up and moving at regular intervals in the evening is likely to have clear health benefits.</p> <h2>Time to revisit guidelines</h2> <p>These results add to <a href="https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1087079221001209">earlier work</a> suggesting current sleep guidelines, which discourage evening exercise before bed, may need to be reviewed.</p> <p>As the activity breaks were performed in a highly controlled laboratory environment, future research should explore how activity breaks performed in real life affect peoples sleep.</p> <p>We selected simple, body-weight exercises to use in this study as they don’t require people to interrupt the show they may be watching, and don’t require a large space or equipment.</p> <p>If people wanted to incorporate activity breaks in their own evening routines, they could probably get the same benefit from other types of exercise. For example, marching on the spot, walking up and down stairs, or even dancing in the living room.</p> <p>The key is to frequently interrupt evening sitting time, with a little bit of whole-body movement at regular intervals.</p> <p>In the long run, performing activity breaks may improve health by improving sleep and post-meal blood sugar levels. The most important thing is to get up frequently and move the body, in a way the works best for a person’s individual household.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/234896/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jennifer-gale-1548741">Jennifer Gale</a>, PhD candidate, Department of Human Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/meredith-peddie-1548807">Meredith Peddie</a>, Senior Lecturer, Department of Human Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/want-to-sleep-longer-adding-mini-bursts-of-exercise-to-your-evening-routine-can-help-new-study-234896">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Body

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Why doesn’t water help with spicy food? What about milk or beer?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/daniel-eldridge-1494633">Daniel Eldridge</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>Spicy foods taste spicy because they contain a family of compounds called capsaicinoids. Capsaicin is the major culprit. It’s found in chillies, jalapeños, cayenne pepper, and is even the active ingredient in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31334983/">pepper spray</a>.</p> <p>Capsaicin doesn’t actually physically heat up your mouth. The burning sensation comes from receptors in the mouth reacting to capsaicin and sending a signal to the brain that something is very hot.</p> <p>That’s why the “hot” chilli sensation feels so real – we even respond by sweating. To alleviate the heat, you need to remove the capsaicin from your mouth.</p> <p>So why doesn’t drinking water help make that spicy feeling go away? And what would work better instead?</p> <h2>Water-loving and water-hating molecules</h2> <p>To help us choose what might wash the capsaicin away most effectively, it’s helpful to know that capsaicin is a hydrophobic molecule. That means it hates being in contact with water and will not easily mix with it.</p> <p>Look what happens when you try to mix hydrophobic sand with water.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/H8cj9CpHW7w?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>On the other hand, hydrophilic molecules love water and are very happy to mix with it.</p> <p>You’ve likely seen this before. You can easily dissolve hydrophilic sugar in water, but it’s hard to wash away hydrophobic oils from your pan using tap water alone.</p> <p>If you try to wash hydrophobic capsaicin away with water, it won’t be very effective, because hydrophilic and hydrophobic substances don’t mix.</p> <p>Going for iced water will be even less effective, as hydrophobic capsaicin is even less soluble in water at lower temperatures. You may get a temporary sense of relief while the cold liquid is in your mouth, but as soon as you swallow it, you’ll be back where you started.</p> <p>Instead, a good choice would be to consume something that is also hydrophobic. This is because of an old-but-true adage in chemistry that “like dissolves like”.</p> <p>The idea is that generally, hydrophobic substances will not dissolve in something hydrophilic – like water – but will dissolve in something that is also hydrophobic, as this video shows:</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/s5yfs-Pr_y8?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>My mouth is on fire. What should I drink instead of water?</h2> <p>A swig of oil would likely be effective, but is perhaps not so palatable.</p> <p>Milk makes for an ideal choice for two reasons.</p> <p>The first is that milk contains hydrophobic fats, which the capsaicin will more easily dissolve in, allowing it to be washed away.</p> <p>The second is that dairy products contain a protein called casein. Casein is an emulsifier, a substance that helps oils and water mix, as in this video:</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/S4XeQhZRLDE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Casein plays a large role in keeping the fat mixed throughout your glass of milk, and it also has a strong affinity for capsaicin. It will readily wrap up and encapsulate capsaicin molecules and assist in carrying them away from the receptor. This relieves the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36510373/">burning sensation</a>.</p> <h2>OK but I hate drinking milk. What else can I try?</h2> <p>What about raita? This dish, commonly served with Indian curries, is made primarily from yoghurt. So aside from being its own culinary experience, raita is rich in fats, and therefore contains plenty of hydrophobic material. It also contains casein, which will again help lock up and remove the capsaicin.</p> <p>Ice cream would also work, as it contains both casein and large amounts of hydrophobic substances.</p> <p>Some studies have also shown that consuming <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9328490/">drinks with large amounts of sugar</a> can relieve spiciness.</p> <p>What about reaching for that ice cold beer?</p> <p>This is commonly suggested as a suitable approach to stop the burning. At first glance, this may seem a good idea because capsaicin is highly soluble in alcohol.</p> <p>However, most beers only contain between 4–6% alcohol. The bulk of the liquid in beer is water, which is hydrophilic and cannot wash away capsaicin. The small amount of alcohol in your beer would make it slightly more effective, but not to any great degree.</p> <p>Your curry and beer may taste great together, but that’s likely the only benefit.</p> <p>In truth, an alcoholic beverage is not going to help much unless you go for something with a much, much higher alcohol content, which comes with its own problems.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/226624/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/daniel-eldridge-1494633">Daniel Eldridge</a>, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-doesnt-water-help-with-spicy-food-what-about-milk-or-beer-226624">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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To-do list got you down? Understanding the psychology of goals can help tick things off – and keep you on track

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kim-m-caudwell-1258935">Kim M Caudwell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/charles-darwin-university-1066">Charles Darwin University</a></em></p> <p>It feels like we are living in busy times.</p> <p>According to the <a href="https://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/work-life-balance/">OECD Better Life Index</a>, 12.5% of Australians report working at least 50 hours a week, higher than the OECD average. Many Australians are also <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-08-03/multiple-job-holders-hit-record-high-abs/102679190">working more than one job to buffer against cost-of-living pressures</a>.</p> <p>Psychology has long been interested in our goals – our mental representations of desirable outcomes. Much of this research is on how we form, pursue and attain goals, plus how goals make us feel. Across studies, we see a consistent pattern of <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-013-9493-0#Sec34">successful goal pursuit and wellbeing</a>. So, having time to work toward our goals is important.</p> <p>With this in mind, what is the best way to get things done – and how can we get better at achieving our goals, especially when we feel time poor?</p> <h2>Make a list</h2> <p>Most of us approach multiple goals with the age-old “to-do” list. First, you write down everything you need to do. Then you “check” or tick things off as you do them.</p> <p>One reason to-do lists are useful is because we are more likely to remember things we haven’t completed, rather than things we have. This is known as the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-F1U4bV2m8">Zeigarnik effect</a>.</p> <p>While to-do lists are easy to write, they don’t always work. There are however <a href="https://hbr.org/2021/01/i-tried-4-to-do-list-methods-heres-what-worked">various approaches for to-do lists</a> that may improve their effectiveness.</p> <p>Another thing to consider is the wide range of apps, tools and platforms that can make tasks more fun and outsource mental load. Adding elements of game play like point scoring or competition – called “<a href="https://theconversation.com/how-gamification-could-revolutionise-creative-thinking-in-the-workplace-122852">gamification</a>” – can <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563221002867">help people work toward goals in educational and work settings</a>. Similarly, app-based reminders can help people reach <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/2047487320905717">physical rehabilitation goals and form good exercise habits</a>.</p> <h2>Finding your why</h2> <p>Researchers have focused a lot on the psychology of <em>why</em> people pursue goals – and how this affects their approach to tasks.</p> <p>For example, some people want to complete a university degree because they want to get a job. Others may be more interested in developing skills or knowledge. In both cases, there is a desired outcome – albeit with differing reasons.</p> <p>Our goals can be differentiated by who or what is driving them. Goals that feel like our own, and for which we experience a sense of intrinsic motivation, are known as “self-concordant”. These goals represent enduring personal interests, are aligned with values and are positively <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12144-020-01156-7">linked to wellbeing</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10648-006-9012-5">Goal orientation theory</a> offers a similar perspective. Using the same example, you may study so you score well on a test (a performance goal) or because you want to be sure you develop your knowledge (a mastery goal). Mastery goals tend to lead to <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10869-010-9201-6">better results and self-regulation</a>.</p> <h2>Juggling goals – 4 to-do tips</h2> <p>So, what happens when we have multiple – perhaps even competing – goals, or goals that aren’t so enjoyable? We might want to finish writing a report or assignment, then read a few chapters of a textbook – but also go to the gym and binge a few episodes of our favourite TV show.</p> <p>In such scenarios, psychological science offers some insights into how we might stay task-focused, and on track to tick more items off our to-do list.</p> <p><strong>1. Beware the <a href="https://www.pwc.pl/en/articles/planning-fallacy-part-I-cognitive-traps.html">planning fallacy</a>.</strong> This happens when we underestimate the amount of resources (such as time) it will take to reach a goal. As writer and religious thinker William Penn put it: “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst”. Think through the all the steps and time required to complete your goal.</p> <p><strong>2. Monitor your progress.</strong> <a href="https://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/91437/8/3_PDFsam_Does%20monitoring%20goal.pdf">Incorporating goal monitoring</a> into an activity can boost progress. And reviewing your estimations and expectations against your actual times and achievements can be used to calculate a “<a href="https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/estimating-time-for-tasks">fudge ratio</a>” to aid future planning. For instance, you could multiply your expected time on tasks by 1.5 to help buffer against the planning fallacy.</p> <p><strong>3. Focus on mastery.</strong> Self-concordant goals and tasks feel easier, and their underlying tasks may be <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0146167215575730">less subject to forgetting</a>. Tedious but necessary goals (such as doing the dishes or filling out forms) are less intrinsically motivating. This means <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/EBHRM-04-2014-0013/full/html#idm45933122746592">planning, reminders and support become more important to goal progress</a>.</p> <p><strong>4. Plan for derailments.</strong> People vary in their ability to plan and might forget to take a goal-directed action at an appropriate time (this could be one reason the <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/the-streaming-services-winning-the-battle-for-attention-and-the-feature-australians-want/9crrpafgd">average Australian streams 27 hours of video each week</a>). <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10463283.2024.2334563">Implementation intentions</a> bring our attention back toward our goals by linking them to an environmental marker. These simple “if-then” plans are shown to <a href="https://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/brp/research/constructs/implementation-intentions#:%7E:text=Implementation%20intentions%20are%20formed%20for,might%20otherwise%20undermine%20goal%20striving.">help overcome issues with self-regulation</a>. Such a statement might be “if I see the ‘next episode’ icon appear, I will get up and turn off the TV so I can read a chapter of my textbook”.</p> <p>With time being frustratingly finite, it is inevitable we will run out of time to do all of the things on our to-do list. Finding an approach that works for us will take time and effort. But it’s probably a worthy goal in itself.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/230399/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kim-m-caudwell-1258935">Kim M Caudwell</a>, Senior Lecturer - Psychology | Chair, Researchers in Behavioural Addictions, Alcohol and Drugs (BAAD), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/charles-darwin-university-1066">Charles Darwin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-do-list-got-you-down-understanding-the-psychology-of-goals-can-help-tick-things-off-and-keep-you-on-track-230399">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Mind

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Super funds are using ‘nudges’ to help you make financial decisions. How do they work?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/fernanda-mata-1533222">Fernanda Mata</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/breanna-wright-267597">Breanna Wright</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/liam-smith-5152">Liam Smith</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>Late last year the federal government announced <a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/stephen-jones-2022/media-releases/government-unveils-comprehensive-financial-advice">measures</a> to make it easier for Australians to access financial advice.</p> <p>As part of this, the government wants super funds to use “nudges” to get members to engage more with their retirement investments and superannuation, especially when they’re starting work and approaching retirement.</p> <p>While the legislation containing the changes is still in the consultation phase, super funds are <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/financial-services/super-funds-spend-big-ahead-of-advice-reforms-20240418-p5fkx6">upskilling staff</a> and making other changes to improve customer service or risk a government crackdown.</p> <p>Telling funds to use <a href="https://www.behaviourworksaustralia.org/blog/nudging-what-is-it-and-how-can-we-use-it-forgood">nudge theory</a> to advise on super comes as more than five million Australians are heading towards retirement.</p> <h2>What is nudge theory?</h2> <p>Nudging is used to encourage people to pick the “better” option, without taking away their freedom to choose differently.</p> <p>For example, sending regular reminders to members about the benefits of voluntary contributions can get them to increase the amount they put in. This nudge makes it easier for them to contribute more – the better option – while still allowing them to choose not to.</p> <p>Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones <a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/stephen-jones-2022/media-releases/government-unveils-comprehensive-financial-advice">explained</a> the government’s changes were needed because so-called “fin-fluencers” were providing unregulated financial advice on social media platforms to Australians unable to pay an adviser.</p> <h2>Helping people protect their interests</h2> <p>There are three ways, supported by research, nudges can help Australians engage with their super.</p> <p><strong>1. Future self visualisation</strong></p> <p>This involves getting young people to think about their <a href="https://www.halhershfield.com/considering-the-future-self">future selves</a> and visualise their life in retirement. This can help them to recognise the long-term benefits of getting actively involved with their super.</p> <p>Showing fund members how they might look when older by using an ageing filter software, for example, can make this visualisation more real for them and <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/23794607231190607">enhance understanding of their future selves, leading to higher engagement</a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Simplification</strong></p> <p>We all know financial products and superannuation can be complicated. The information and choices presented can lead to <a href="https://thedecisionlab.com/biases/choice-overload-bias">decision paralysis</a>, causing people to delay or opt out of making a decision. By simplifying the process, funds can motivate people to get more engaged with their super.</p> <p>To get people to make voluntary contributions, for example, it might be more effective for funds to recommend <a href="https://siepr.stanford.edu/news/how-simple-nudge-can-motivate-workers-save-retirement">a specific percentage of their salary</a> rather than offering several options. Deciding whether to boost contributions by an extra 3%, 4% or 5% can be overwhelming, especially for people with poor <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-you-financially-literate-here-are-7-signs-youre-on-the-right-track-202331">financial literacy</a>.</p> <p><strong>3. Language and framing</strong></p> <p>The way options are framed and the language super funds use can significantly impact member engagement.</p> <p>Australians may be more likely to make higher voluntary contributions if they are asked how much they want <a href="https://www.bi.team/press-releases/the-small-nudges-that-could-make-young-people-142000-better-off-in-retirement/">to “invest” in their super </a> instead of how much they want to “contribute” or “add”.</p> <p>The word “invest” encourages people to think about future benefits, motivating them to make higher contributions.</p> <p>How options are labelled can also have an impact on <a href="https://www.bi.team/press-releases/the-small-nudges-that-could-make-young-people-142000-better-off-in-retirement/">member engagement</a> and decision making.</p> <p>For example, highlighting concrete benefits of different voluntary payments, such as “a 4% contribution keeps you above the poverty line”, and “a 10% contribution allows for a comfortable retirement according to Australian standards” can increase how much people are willing to contribute.</p> <h2>Ethical use of nudges</h2> <p>The <a href="https://www.superreview.com.au/news/superannuation/industry-body-backs-super-fund-nudges-though-parameters-need-be-set">Financial Services Council</a> backs the government on getting super funds to nudge members about contributions and investments but says there are limits.</p> <p>Parameters around nudging should be set […] to ensure that the language is appropriate and does not ultimately amount to defaulting.</p> <p>For example, letting a customer know that as they approach retirement, they need to make a decision about what retirement product they wish to utilise would be an acceptable nudge, while contacting a customer to let them know that they will be placed in a product when they retire, would not necessarily be acceptable.</p> <p>The council emphasises the importance of super funds recognising <a href="https://www.superreview.com.au/news/superannuation/industry-body-backs-super-fund-nudges-though-parameters-need-be-set">people’s autonomy</a> when delivering a “soft” or “hard” nudge.</p> <p>Soft nudges are gentle prompts and reminders designed to guide people to make good choices without pressuring them, such as sending an email reminder to review their investment options. Hard nudges are more direct in their guidance. These might include recommending specific investment options.</p> <p>Despite these differences, <a href="https://www.behaviourworksaustralia.org/blog/can-we-have-a-quiet-word-about-behavioural-science">ethical use of nudges</a> should encourage engagement while respecting people’s autonomy by making it easy for them to opt out.</p> <p>The use of nudges presents a valuable opportunity to increase superannuation fund members’ engagement.</p> <p>Whether through future self visualisation, simplification or language framing, ethical nudges can motivate members to take action, leading to greater confidence in navigating the retirement transition and achieving retirement goals.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/230404/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/fernanda-mata-1533222">Fernanda Mata</a>, Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/breanna-wright-267597">Breanna Wright</a>, Research fellow, BehaviourWorks Australia, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/liam-smith-5152">Liam Smith</a>, Director, BehaviourWorks, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/super-funds-are-using-nudges-to-help-you-make-financial-decisions-how-do-they-work-230404">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Weight loss: drinking a gallon of water a day probably won’t help you lose weight

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/duane-mellor-136502">Duane Mellor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/aston-university-1107">Aston University</a></em></p> <p>It’s often claimed that if you’re trying to lose weight, one of the things you should do each day is drink plenty of water – with some internet advice even suggesting this should be as much as a gallon (about 4.5 litres). The claim is that water helps burn calories and reduce appetite, which in turn leads to weight loss.</p> <p>But while we all might wish it was this easy to lose weight, unfortunately there’s little evidence to back up these claims.</p> <h2>Myth 1: water helps burn calories</h2> <p>One <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14671205/">small study</a>, of 14 young adults, found drinking 500ml of water increased resting energy expenditure (the amount of calories our body burns before exercise) by about 24%.</p> <p>While this may sound great, this effect only lasted an hour. And this wouldn’t translate to a big difference at all. For an average 70kg adult, they would only use an additional 20 calories – a quarter of a biscuit – for every 500ml of water they drank.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16822824/">Another study</a> of eight young adults only saw an increase in energy expenditure when the water was fridge cold – reporting a very modest 4% increase in calories burned. This may be because the body needs to use more energy in order to bring the water up to body temperature, or because it requires more energy for the body to filter the increased volume of fluid through the kidneys. And again, this effect was only seen for about an hour.</p> <p>So although scientifically it might be possible, the actual net increase in calories burned is tiny. For example, even if you drank an extra 1.5l of water per day, it would save fewer calories than you’d get in a slice of bread.</p> <p>It’s also worth noting that all this research was in young healthy adults. More research is needed to see whether this effect is also seen in other groups (such as middle-aged and older adults).</p> <h2>Myth 2: water with meals reduces appetite</h2> <p>This claim again seems sensible, in that if your stomach is at least partly full of water there’s less room for food – so you end up eating less.</p> <p>A number of studies actually support this, particularly those conducted in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2859815/#:%7E:text=Thus%2C%20when%20combined%20with%20a,meal%20EI%20following%20water%20ingestion.">middle-aged and older adults</a>. It’s also a reason people who are unwell or have a poor appetite are advised <a href="https://www.ageuk.org.uk/bp-assets/globalassets/salford/forms/improve-your-food-and-drink-intake.pdf">not to drink before eating</a> as it may lead to under-eating.</p> <p>But for people looking to lose weight, the science is a little less straightforward.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17228036/">One study</a> showed middle-aged and older adults lost 2kg over a 12-week period when they drank water before meals compared with people who didn’t drink any water with their meal. Younger participants (aged 21-35) on the other hand did not lose any weight, regardless of whether they drank water before their meal or not.</p> <p>But since the study didn’t use blinding (where information which may influence participants is withheld until after the experiment is finished), it means that participants may have become aware of why they were drinking water before their meal. This may have led some participants to purposefully change how much they ate in the hopes it might increase their changes of losing weight. However, this doesn’t explain why the effect wasn’t seen in young adults, so it will be important for future studies to investigate why this is.</p> <p>The other challenge with a lot of this kind of research is that it only focuses on whether participants eat less during just one of their day’s meals after drinking water. Although this might suggest the potential to lose weight, there’s <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20736036/">very little good-quality evidence</a> showing that reducing appetite in general leads to weight loss over time.</p> <p>Perhaps this is due to our body’s biological drive to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28193517/">maintain its size</a>. It’s for this reason that no claims can be legally made in Europe about foods which help make you <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/satietyenhancing-products-for-appetite-control-science-and-regulation-of-functional-foods-for-weight-management/E4CCAE4C90A220994FD29C27FAE7F666">feel fuller for longer</a> with <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nutrition-and-health-claims-guidance-to-compliance-with-regulation-ec-1924-2006-on-nutrition-and-health-claims-made-on-foods/nutrition-and-health-claims-guidance-to-compliance-with-regulation-ec-19242006#section-6">reference to weight loss</a>.</p> <p>So, although there might be some appetite-dulling effects of water, it seems that it might not result in long-term weight change – and may possibly be due to making conscious changes to your diet.</p> <h2>Just water isn’t enough</h2> <p>There’s a pretty good reason why water on its own is not terribly effective at <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/eating-habits-and-appetite-control-a-psychobiological-perspective/0D0605739F5150D1A7C49420D75F3CDF">regulating appetite</a>. If it did, prehistoric humans might have starved.</p> <p>But while appetite and satiation – feeling full and not wanting to eat again – aren’t perfectly aligned with being able to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20736036/">lose weight</a>, it might be a helpful starting point.</p> <p>Part of what helps us to feel full is our stomach. When food enters the stomach, it triggers stretch receptors that in turn lead to the release of hormones which tell us we’re full.</p> <p>But since water is a liquid, it’s rapidly emptied from our stomach – meaning it doesn’t actually fill us up. Even more interestingly, due to the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16934271/">stomach’s shape</a>, fluids can bypass any semi-solid food content that’s being digested in the lower part of the stomach. This means that water can still be quickly emptied from the stomach. So even if it’s consumed at the end of a meal it might not necessarily extend your feelings of fullness.</p> <p>If you’re trying to eat less and lose weight, drinking excessive amounts of water may not be a great solution. But there is evidence showing when water is mixed with other substances (such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30166637/">fibre</a>, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0031938494903034">soups</a> or vegetable sauces) this can delay how fast the stomach empties its contents – meaning you feel fuller longer.</p> <p>But while water may not help you lose weight directly, it may still aid in weight loss given it’s the healthiest drink we can choose. Swapping high-calorie drinks such as soda and alcohol for water may be an easy way of reducing the calories you consume daily, which may help with weight loss.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/211311/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/duane-mellor-136502">Duane Mellor</a>, Lead for Evidence-Based Medicine and Nutrition, Aston Medical School, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/aston-university-1107">Aston University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/weight-loss-drinking-a-gallon-of-water-a-day-probably-wont-help-you-lose-weight-211311">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Body

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Five tips to help you start new hobbies in retirement

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alison-bishop-1522973">Alison Bishop</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-east-london-924">University of East London</a></em></p> <p>Retirement can be an exciting but also scary prospect for many. How you fill your time is totally up to you, but with so many choices it can be a bit daunting. But it’s important to make sure you keep active, physically and mentally.</p> <p>Hobbies can <a href="https://www.careuk.com/help-advice/why-are-long-lost-hobbies-important-for-older-people">increase wellbeing</a> by boosting brain function, enhancing social skills and improving fine motor skills. <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/366160647_Psychological_benefits_of_hobby_engagement_in_older_age_a_longitudinal_cross-country_analysis_of_93263_older_adults_in_16_countries">A study carried out in 2022</a> found that spending time on hobbies was associated with lower symptoms of depression and a perceived increase in a person’s sense of health, happiness and overall life satisfaction.</p> <p>However, many older people don’t take up hobbies for all sorts of reasons. This might include fears that they are not as good at something in their older age as they were when they were younger. This fear of trying new things can lead to increased feelings of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4338142/">loneliness and isolation</a>.</p> <p>Here are five tips using <a href="https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/ppintroarticle.pdf">positive psychology</a> that could help you or someone in your life if they are scared or nervous about picking up a hobby.</p> <h2>1. Broaden your strengths</h2> <p>Our idea of what we are good at is formed at a very young age and often reflects subjects that we were good at in our school days. Positive psychology’s “<a href="https://www.viacharacter.org/character-strengths-and-virtues">theory of strengths</a>” encourages us to think more broadly about what constitutes a strength. For instance, it considers curiosity, kindness and bravery as strengths. When applied to choosing a hobby, it means that if you believe one of your strengths is kindness, you could consider working in outreach or charity as a hobby or spending time speaking with people who are housebound.</p> <h2>2. Find activities you already enjoy</h2> <p>The “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1693418/pdf/15347528.pdf?inf_contact_key=9944754ba1372fa9ce5ee1421d8427bc">broaden and build theory”</a> suggests that when we feel positive emotions such joy or love, we are more likely to engage in new activities, thoughts and behaviours. It follows then, that if you look at times in your life when you experience these emotions this could help you start a new hobby. So, if you enjoy walking in the countryside, then the theory suggests that those feelings would enable you to join a rambling club.</p> <h2>3. Remember moments you’ve lost track of time</h2> <p>Another way to identify an activity that would be good to do is by using “<a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/flow-state#what-it-is">flow theory”</a>. This suggests that when we are doing something that we become completely absorbed in, that our brainwave patterns change and we can lose track of time. For this to happen, we need an activity that is meaningful to us to complete, with just the right amount of challenge so that it is not too easy or too hard.</p> <p>An exercise that reveals your personal flow template involves looking back on your life to find as many times as possible when you’ve been doing something and completely lost track of time. Write these down and see if these moments have anything in common. For example, are they all creative activities or all outdoors and physical? This will reveal something about yourself and the type of activity that is aligned with who you are, and could suggest new hobbies.</p> <h2>4. Be kind to yourself</h2> <p>“<a href="https://self-compassion.org/">Self-compassion theory</a>” teaches us the importance of being as kind to ourselves as we would be to a friend. When we are thinking about what we are good at, we can be unkind to ourselves by comparing ourselves unfavourably to others or to an imagined high standard.</p> <p>Self-compassion theory states that our imperfections make us human, and it is our shared knowledge of this that connects us to others. Where a goal in an activity is kindness with ourselves and those doing the activity with us rather than performance, we can access a new more meaningful reason to take part in something.</p> <h2>5. Imagine your perfect day</h2> <p>The last tip from positive psychology involves creating <a href="https://www.thepositivepsychologypeople.com/reflections-on-a-beautiful-day/">a story of the perfect average day</a> and then planning to actually live it. How do your hobbies fit into this? How does this day tap into your broadened idea of your strengths? How does it include kindness to yourself and others?</p> <p>It also helps to identify goals either for retirement more generally or for participating in a hobby. By picturing the perfect average day you can create more meaning and purpose in life by seeing how all the parts of your life fit together. It also reveals short term goals for example, if you plan to go to an art club but can’t get there, then a goal could be asking for a lift from another club member. When these pieces are in place, hope is ignited, and a vision created of how life can go forward so that you really can live your best retired life.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alison-bishop-1522973">Alison Bishop</a>, Lecturer in Positive Psychology Coaching, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-east-london-924">University of East London</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-tips-to-help-you-start-new-hobbies-in-retirement-226764">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Retirement Life

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‘Sleeping on it’ really does help and four other recent sleep research breakthroughs

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-denis-158199">Dan Denis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-york-1344">University of York</a></em></p> <p>Twenty-six years. That is roughly <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-34624-8">how much of our lives</a> are spent asleep. Scientists have been trying to explain why we spend so much time sleeping since at least the <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/alcmaeon/">ancient Greeks</a>, but pinning down the exact functions of sleep has proven to be difficult.</p> <p>During the past decade, there has been a surge of interest from researchers in the nature and function of sleep. New experimental models coupled with advances in technology and analytical techniques are giving us a deeper look inside the sleeping brain. Here are some of the biggest recent breakthroughs in the science of sleep.</p> <h2>1. We know more about lucid dreaming</h2> <p>No longer on the fringes, the neuroscientific study of dreaming has now become mainstream.</p> <p>US researchers in a 2017 study woke their participants up at regular intervals during the night and asked them what was going through their minds prior to the alarm call. Sometimes participants couldn’t recall any dreaming. The study team then looked at what was <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nn.4545">happening in the participant’s brain</a> moments before waking.</p> <p>Participants’ recall of dream content was associated with increased activity in the posterior hot zone, an area of the brain closely <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05097-x">linked to conscious awareness</a>. Researchers could predict the presence or absence of dream experiences by monitoring this zone in real time.</p> <p>Another exciting development in the study of dreams is research into lucid dreams, in which <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-ability-to-control-dreams-may-help-us-unravel-the-mystery-of-consciousness-52394">you are aware that</a> you are dreaming. A 2021 study established <a href="https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(21)00059-2?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0960982221000592%3Fshowall%3Dtrue">two-way communication</a> between a dreamer and a researcher. In this experiment, participants signalled to the researcher that they were dreaming by moving their eyes in a pre-agreed pattern.</p> <p>The researcher read out maths problems (what is eight minus six?). The dreamer could respond to this question with eye movements. The dreamers were accurate, indicating they had access to high level cognitive functions. The researchers used <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/polysomnography/about/pac-20394877">polysomnography</a>, which monitors bodily functions such as breathing and brain activity during sleep, to confirm that participants were asleep.</p> <p>These discoveries have dream researchers excited about the future of “interactive dreaming”, such as practising a skill or solving a problem in our dreams.</p> <h2>2. Our brain replays memories while we sleep</h2> <p>This year marks the centenary of the first demonstration that <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/1414040?origin=crossref">sleep improves our memory</a>. However, a 2023 review of recent research has shown that memories formed during the day <a href="https://portlandpress.com/emergtoplifesci/article/7/5/487/233796/Neural-reactivation-during-human-sleep">get reactivated</a> while we are sleeping. Researchers discovered this using machine learning techniques to “decode” the contents of the sleeping brain.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-24357-5">A 2021 study</a> found that training algorithms to distinguish between different memories while awake makes it possible to see the same neural patterns re-emerge in the sleeping brain. A different study, also in 2021, found that the more times these patterns re-emerge during sleep, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-23520-2">the bigger the benefit</a> to memory.</p> <p>In other approaches, scientists have been able to reactivate certain memories by <a href="https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)31035-8?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0960982219310358%3Fshowall%3Dtrue">replaying sounds</a> associated with the memory in question while the participant was asleep. A <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7144680/">2020 meta-analysis of 91 experiments</a> found that when participants’ memory was tested after sleep they remembered more of the stimuli whose sounds were played back during sleep, compared with control stimuli whose sounds were not replayed.</p> <p>Research has also shown that sleep strengthens memory for the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2202657119">most important aspects</a> of an experience, restructures our memories to form <a href="https://www.jneurosci.org/content/40/9/1909">more cohesive narratives</a> and helps us come up with <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0956797619873344">solutions to problems</a> we are stuck on. Science is showing that sleeping on it really does help.</p> <h2>3. Sleep keeps our minds healthy</h2> <p>We all know that a lack of sleep makes us feel bad. Laboratory sleep deprivation studies, where researchers keep willing participants awake throughout the night, have been combined with <a href="https://www.open.edu/openlearn/body-mind/health/health-sciences/how-fmri-works">functional MRI brain scans</a> to paint a detailed picture of the sleep-deprived brain. These studies have shown that a lack of sleep severely disrupts the <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn.2017.55">connectivity between</a> different brain networks. These changes include a breakdown of connectivity between brain regions <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11682-018-9868-2">responsible for cognitive control</a>, and an amplification of those involved in <a href="https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)30761-4?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0960982219307614%3Fshowall%3Dtrue">threat and emotional processing</a>.</p> <p>The consequence of this is that the sleep-deprived brain is worse at <a href="https://academic.oup.com/cercor/article/33/5/1610/6573958">learning new information</a>, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/44/6/zsaa289/6053003">poorer at regulating emotions</a>, and unable to <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2167702620951511">suppress intrusive thoughts</a>. Sleep loss may even make you less likely to <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3001733">help other people</a>. These findings may explain why poor sleep quality is so <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsr.13930">ubiquitous in poor mental health</a>.</p> <h2>4. Sleep protects us against neurodegenerative diseases</h2> <p>Although we naturally <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-34624-8">sleep less as we age</a>, mounting evidence suggests that sleep problems earlier in life <a href="https://jnnp.bmj.com/content/91/3/236">increase the risk</a> of dementia.</p> <p>The build-up of β-amyloid, a <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alzheimers-disease/causes/">metabolic waste product</a>, is one of the mechanisms underlying Alzheimer’s disease. Recently, it has become apparent that deep, undisturbed sleep is good for <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.aav5447">flushing these toxins</a> out of the brain. Sleep deprivation increases the the rate of build-up of β-amyloid in parts of the brain involved in memory, <a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.1721694115">such as the hippocampus</a>. A longitudinal study published in 2020 found that sleep problems were associated with a higher rate of β-amyloid accumulation at a follow-up <a href="https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(20)31171-4?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0960982220311714%3Fshowall%3Dtrue">four years later</a>. In a different study, published in 2022, sleep parameters <a href="https://elifesciences.org/articles/78191">forecasted the rate</a> of cognitive decline in participants over the following two years.</p> <h2>5. We can engineer sleep</h2> <p>The good news is that research is developing treatments to get a better night’s sleep and boost its benefits.</p> <p>For example, the <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsr.14035">European Sleep Research Society</a> and the <a href="https://jcsm.aasm.org/doi/10.5664/jcsm.8986">American Academy of Sleep Medicine</a> recommend cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). <a href="https://www.cntw.nhs.uk/services/nctalkingtherapies/what-do-nc-talking-therapies-offer/cbt-i-cbt-for-insomnia/">CBT-I works by</a> identifying thoughts, feelings and behaviour that contribute to insomnia, which can then be modified to help promote sleep.</p> <p>In 2022, a CBT-I app became the <a href="https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/nice-recommends-offering-app-based-treatment-for-people-with-insomnia-instead-of-sleeping-pills">first digital therapy</a> recommended by England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for treatment on the NHS.</p> <p>These interventions can improve other aspects of our lives as well. A <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1087079221001416?via%3Dihub">2021 meta-analysis</a> of 65 clinical trials found that improving sleep via CBT-I reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, rumination and stress.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/230484/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-denis-158199">Dan Denis</a>, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Senior Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-york-1344">University of York</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/sleeping-on-it-really-does-help-and-four-other-recent-sleep-research-breakthroughs-230484">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Body

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The voice in your head may help you recall and process words. But what if you don’t have one?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/derek-arnold-106381">Derek Arnold</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>Can you imagine hearing yourself speak? A voice inside your head – perhaps reciting a shopping list or a phone number? What would life be like if you couldn’t?</p> <p>Some people, including me, cannot have imagined visual experiences. We cannot close our eyes and conjure an experience of seeing a loved one’s face, or imagine our lounge room layout – to consider if a new piece of furniture might fit in it. This is called “<a href="https://theconversation.com/a-blind-and-deaf-mind-what-its-like-to-have-no-visual-imagination-or-inner-voice-226134">aphantasia</a>”, from a Greek phrase where the “a” means without, and “phantasia” refers to an image. Colloquially, people like myself are often referred to as having a “blind mind”.</p> <p>While most attention has been given to the inability to have imagined visual sensations, aphantasics can lack other imagined experiences. We might be unable to experience imagined tastes or smells. Some people cannot imagine hearing themselves speak.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.sciencealert.com/we-used-to-think-everybody-heard-a-voice-inside-their-heads-but-we-were-wrong">recent study</a> has advanced our understanding of people who cannot imagine hearing their own internal monologue. Importantly, the authors have identified some tasks that such people are more likely to find challenging.</p> <h2>What the study found</h2> <p>Researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/09567976241243004">recruited 93 volunteers</a>. They included 46 adults who reported low levels of inner speech and 47 who reported high levels.</p> <p>Both groups were given challenging tasks: judging if the names of objects they had seen would rhyme and recalling words. The group without an inner monologue performed worse. But differences disappeared when everyone could say words aloud.</p> <p>Importantly, people who reported less inner speech were not worse at all tasks. They could recall similar numbers of words when the words had a different appearance to one another. This negates any suggestion that aphants (people with aphantasia) simply weren’t trying or were less capable.</p> <h2>A welcome validation</h2> <p>The study provides some welcome evidence for the lived experiences of some aphants, who are still often told their experiences are not different, but rather that they cannot describe their imagined experiences. Some people feel anxiety when they realise other people can have imagined experiences that they cannot. These feelings may be deepened when others assert they are merely confused or inarticulate.</p> <p>In my own <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychology/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1374349/full">aphantasia research</a> I have often quizzed crowds of people on their capacity to have imagined experiences.</p> <p>Questions about the capacity to have imagined visual or audio sensations tend to be excitedly endorsed by a vast majority, but questions about imagined experiences of taste or smell seem to cause more confusion. Some people are adamant they can do this, including a colleague who says he can imagine what combinations of ingredients will taste like when cooked together. But other responses suggest subtypes of aphantasia may prove to be more common than we realise.</p> <p>The authors of the recent study suggest the inability to imagine hearing yourself speak should be referred to as “anendophasia”, meaning without inner speech. Other authors had suggested <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8551557/">anauralia</a> (meaning without auditory imagery). Still other researchers have referred to all types of imagined sensation as being different types of “imagery”.</p> <p>Having <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0010945222000417">consistent names</a> is important. It can help scientists “talk” to one another to compare findings. If different authors use different names, important evidence can be missed.</p> <h2>We have more than 5 senses</h2> <p>Debate continues about how many senses humans have, but some scientists reasonably argue for a <a href="https://www.sensorytrust.org.uk/blog/how-many-senses-do-we-have#:%7E:text=Because%20there%20is%20some%20overlap,sensation%20of%20hunger%20or%20thirst.">number greater than 20</a>.</p> <p>In addition to the five senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing, lesser known senses include thermoception (our sense of heat) and proprioception (awareness of the positions of our body parts). Thanks to proprioception, most of us can close our eyes and touch the tip of our index finger to our nose. Thanks to our vestibular sense, we typically have a good idea of which way is up and can maintain balance.</p> <p>It may be tempting to give a new name to each inability to have a given type of imagined sensation. But this could lead to confusion. Another approach would be to adapt phrases that are already widely used. People who are unable to have imagined sensations commonly refer to ourselves as “aphants”. This could be adapted with a prefix, such as “audio aphant”. Time will tell which approach is adopted by most researchers.</p> <h2>Why we should keep investigating</h2> <p>Regardless of the names we use, the study of multiple types of inability to have an imagined sensation is important. These investigations could reveal the essential processes in human brains that bring about a conscious experience of an imagined sensation.</p> <p>In time, this will not only lead to a better understanding of the diversity of humans, but may help uncover how human brains can create any conscious sensation. This question – how and where our conscious feelings are generated – remains one of the great mysteries of science.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/230973/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/derek-arnold-106381">Derek Arnold</a>, Professor, School of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-voice-in-your-head-may-help-you-recall-and-process-words-but-what-if-you-dont-have-one-230973">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Mind

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Step up: take the stairs to help your heart

<p>Climbing stairs is associated with a longer life, according to research presented this week at an annual meeting of Europe’s leading cardiologists.</p> <div class="copy"> <p>The systematic review of 9 previous studies covering nearly 500,000 participants investigated whether climbing stairs as a form of physical activity could play a role in reducing the risks of <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/biology/how-organ-on-a-chip-technology-is-revolutionising-the-way-we-study-cardiovascular-disease/">cardiovascular diseases</a> and premature death.</p> <p>Study author Dr Sophie Paddock, of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Foundation Trust, UK, says: “if you have the choice of taking the stairs or the lift, go for the stairs as it will help your heart”.</p> <p>“Even brief bursts of physical activity have beneficial health impacts, and short bouts of stair climbing should be an achievable target to integrate into daily routines.”</p> <p>Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of disorders of the hearth and blood vessels. They are the leading cause of non-communicable disease death globally, with 17.9m people estimated to have died of one in 2019 alone. Physical inactivity is one of the most important behavioural risk factors for developing CVDs. More than 1 in 4 adults do not meet the global <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">recommended levels</a> of physical activity.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3049418/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">meta-analysis</a> on the best available science  covered 480,479 individuals aged 35-84 years old. 53% of participants were women.</p> <p>Stair climbing was significantly associated with a 24% reduced risk of dying from any cause and a 39% lower likelihood of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared to not climbing stairs.</p> <p>It was also linked to a reduced <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/covid-19-impacts-on-cardiac-health/">risk of CVDs</a> including heart attack, heart failure and stroke.</p> <p>“Based on these results, we would encourage people to incorporate stair climbing into their day-to-day lives,” says Paddock.</p> <p>“Our study suggested that the more stairs climbed, the greater the benefits – but this needs to be confirmed. So, whether at work, home, or elsewhere, take the stairs.”</p> <p>The research was presented to <a href="https://www.escardio.org/Congresses-Events/Preventive-Cardiology" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">ESC Preventive Cardiology 2024</a>, an annual congress of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology in Greece this week.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <div> <p align="center"><noscript data-spai="1"><em><img decoding="async" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/q_lossy+ret_img+to_auto/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/MICROSCOPIC-TO-TELESCOPIC__Embed-graphic-720x360-1.jpg" data-spai-egr="1" width="600" alt="Buy cosmos print magazine" title="step up: take the stairs to help your heart 2"></em></noscript></p> </div> <p><em><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=302751&amp;title=Step+up%3A+take+the+stairs+to+help+your+heart" width="1" height="1" loading="lazy" aria-label="Syndication Tracker" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --></em></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/step-up-take-the-stairs-to-help-your-heart/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/imma-perfetto/">Imma Perfetto</a>. </em></p> </div>

Body

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Condolence messages that will help you find the right words

<h2>Condolence messages for every situation</h2> <p>When someone you care about has lost someone they care about, it’s important to reach out and show your love. “We’re hard-wired as human beings to connect with others, especially when we’re grieving,” says Abigail Nathanson, a licensed social worker and professor of grief and trauma at New York University. “Being able to talk about the pain and loss and receive support from others is an essential part of the grieving process.” While you may eventually engage in longer discussions, condolence messages are the first step after any loss.</p> <p>These messages of sympathy are a simple and beautiful way to connect with a grieving loved one. But even though death and grief are universal experiences, it can be hard to find the right things to say to someone who is grieving or know what to write in a condolence card—probably because there aren’t any words that can take away their pain.</p> <p>But it’s proper etiquette to say something rather than to stay silent. Otherwise, the person who’s grieving might think you don’t care.</p> <h2>What can you say to comfort someone who’s lost a loved one?</h2> <p>“Just like there is no one ‘right’ way to grieve, there is no one script for what to say to someone who has experienced a great loss,” Nathanson says. “However we do know that there are some things that many people find comforting and supportive.”</p> <p>When thinking of what to say when someone dies, Nathanson offers these tips:</p> <ul> <li>Lead with sympathy or empathy.</li> <li>Offer to listen (and then listen without interrupting).</li> <li>Don’t offer banal platitudes, like: “Everything will turn out for the best.”</li> <li>Don’t tell them how to feel, like: “Your father wouldn’t want you to be sad.”</li> <li>Reinforce your love and support for them.</li> <li>Offer to help in meaningful ways.</li> <li>Don’t offer advice unless they ask for it.</li> </ul> <h2>How to write a condolence message</h2> <p>“Remember that the goal of a condolence message is not to talk the person out of being sad or to ‘cure’ their grief,” Nathanson says. “It’s to offer love and support during a trying time.”</p> <p>Expressing condolences in person is incredibly powerful, but if you can’t be there with them, sending a condolence message is the next best thing. In this digital age, you have lots of options.</p> <ul> <li>Video messages offer the added bonus of face-to-face connection.</li> <li>Condolence text messages are an immediate way to reach out.</li> <li>Email is a great way to share longer thoughts, including pictures or memories of the loved one. They can also be read at the person’s leisure.</li> <li>Handwritten notes show extra care and are often sentimental keepsakes.</li> <li>Comments on social media show public support and allow you to interact with others who may be grieving the loss as well.</li> </ul> <p>Regardless of which method you choose to convey your love and support, keep your message relatively short. Grief can induce brain fog, making it difficult to concentrate on long messages, Nathanson says. And send your message as soon as you can (but better late than never!), and consider attaching it to one of these beautiful sympathy gifts.</p> <h2>Short condolence messages</h2> <p>To help you find the right words, here’s a list of heartfelt short condolence messages messages. Your kind words will be appreciated more than you know.</p> <ol> <li>I’m so sorry for your loss.</li> <li>My heart breaks for you.</li> <li>This hurts, and it sucks!</li> <li>You are in my prayers.</li> <li>My heart is with you at this time.</li> <li>I love you, and I’m here for you.</li> <li>I’m so sorry you are hurting.</li> <li>Sending love and peace.</li> <li>You are in my thoughts.</li> <li>May you find comfort at this time.</li> <li>Blessings for you and your loved ones.</li> <li>I’m with you during this difficult time.</li> <li>I hope you can feel my love.</li> <li>Love and support for you and yours.</li> <li>I wish I could give you the biggest hug.</li> <li>Sending you peaceful and loving vibes.</li> <li>Praying you feel comforted.</li> <li>You can cry on my shoulder.</li> <li>I’m devastated for you.</li> <li>My heart goes out to you at this difficult time.</li> </ol> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/inspirational/condolence-messages-that-will-help-you-find-the-right-words" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Caring

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Kick up your heels – ballroom dancing offers benefits to the aging brain and could help stave off dementia

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-blumen-1231899">Helena Blumen</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/albert-einstein-college-of-medicine-3638">Albert Einstein College of Medicine</a></em></p> <h2>The big idea</h2> <p>Social ballroom dancing can improve cognitive functions and reduce brain atrophy in older adults who are at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. That’s the key finding of my team’s <a href="https://doi.org/10.1123/japa.2022-0176">recently published study</a> in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.</p> <p>In our study, we enrolled 25 adults over 65 years of age in either six months of twice-weekly ballroom dancing classes or six months of twice-weekly treadmill walking classes. None of them were engaged in formal dancing or other exercise programs.</p> <p>The overall goal was to see how each experience affected cognitive function and brain health.</p> <p>While none of the study volunteers had a dementia diagnosis, all performed a bit lower than expected on at least one of our dementia screening tests. We found that older adults that completed six months of social dancing and those that completed six months of treadmill walking improved their executive functioning – an umbrella term for planning, reasoning and processing tasks that require attention.</p> <p>Dancing, however, generated significantly greater improvements than treadmill walking on one measure of executive function and on processing speed, which is the time it takes to respond to or process information. Compared with walking, dancing was also associated with reduced brain atrophy in the hippocampus – a brain region that is key to memory functioning and is particularly affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers also know that this part of our brain can undergo neurogenesis – or grow new neurons – <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0611721104">in response to aerobic exercise</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/unmbhUvnGow?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Research shows those who regularly dance with a partner have a more positive outlook on life.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>While several previous studies suggest that dancing has beneficial effects <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afaa270">on cognitive function in older adults</a>, only a few studies have compared it directly with traditional exercises. Our study is the first to observe both better cognitive function and improved brain health following dancing than walking in older adults at risk for dementia. We think that social dancing may be more beneficial than walking because it is physically, socially and cognitively demanding – and therefore strengthens a wide network of brain regions.</p> <p>While dancing, you’re not only using brain regions that are important for physical movement. You’re also relying on brain regions that are important for interacting and adapting to the movements of your dancing partner, as well as those necessary for learning new dance steps or remembering those you’ve learned already.</p> <h2>Why it matters</h2> <p>Nearly 6 million older adults in the U.S. and 55 million worldwide <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2019.01.010">have Alzheimer’s disease</a> or a <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia">related dementia</a>, yet there is no cure. Sadly, the efficacy and ethics surrounding recently developed drug treatments <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/21507740.2022.2129858">are still under debate</a>.</p> <p>The good news is that older adults can potentially <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30367-6">lower their risk for dementia</a> through lifestyle interventions, even later in life. These include reducing social isolation and physical inactivity.</p> <p>Social ballroom dancing targets both isolation and inactivity. In these later stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, a better understanding of the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/23337214211005223">indirect effects of COVID-19</a> – particularly those that increase dementia risk, such as social isolation – is urgently needed. In my view, early intervention is critical to prevent dementia from becoming the next pandemic. Social dancing could be a particularly timely way to overcome the adverse cognitive and brain effects associated with isolation and fewer social interactions during the pandemic.</p> <h2>What still isn’t known</h2> <p>Traditional aerobic exercise interventions such as treadmill-walking or running have been shown to lead to modest but reliable improvements in cognition – <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617707316">particularly in executive function</a>.</p> <p>My team’s study builds on that research and provides preliminary evidence that not all exercise is equal when it comes to brain health. Yet our sample size was quite small, and larger studies are needed to confirm these initial findings. Additional studies are also needed to determine the optimal length, frequency and intensity of dancing classes that may result in positive changes.</p> <p>Lifestyle interventions like social ballroom dancing are a promising, noninvasive and cost-effective path toward staving off dementia as we – eventually – leave the COVID-19 pandemic behind.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/194969/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-blumen-1231899">Helena Blumen</a>, Associate Professor of Medicine and Neurology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/albert-einstein-college-of-medicine-3638">Albert Einstein College of Medicine</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/kick-up-your-heels-ballroom-dancing-offers-benefits-to-the-aging-brain-and-could-help-stave-off-dementia-194969">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Mind

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Paris in spring, Bali in winter. How ‘bucket lists’ help cancer patients handle life and death

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/leah-williams-veazey-1223970">Leah Williams Veazey</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alex-broom-121063">Alex Broom</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katherine-kenny-318175">Katherine Kenny</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>In the 2007 film <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0825232/">The Bucket List</a> Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play two main characters who respond to their terminal cancer diagnoses by rejecting experimental treatment. Instead, they go on a range of energetic, overseas escapades.</p> <p>Since then, the term “bucket list” – a list of experiences or achievements to complete before you “kick the bucket” or die – has become common.</p> <p>You can read articles listing <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/11/cities-to-visit-before-you-die-according-to-50-travel-experts-and-only-one-is-in-the-us.html">the seven cities</a> you must visit before you die or <a href="https://www.qantas.com/travelinsider/en/trending/top-100-guide/best-things-to-do-and-see-in-australia-travel-bucket-list.html">the 100</a> Australian bucket-list travel experiences.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UvdTpywTmQg?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>But there is a more serious side to the idea behind bucket lists. One of the key forms of suffering at the end of life <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pon.4821">is regret</a> for things left unsaid or undone. So bucket lists can serve as a form of insurance against this potential regret.</p> <p>The bucket-list search for adventure, memories and meaning takes on a life of its own with a diagnosis of life-limiting illness.</p> <p>In a <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/14407833241251496">study</a> published this week, we spoke to 54 people living with cancer, and 28 of their friends and family. For many, a key bucket list item was travel.</p> <h2>Why is travel so important?</h2> <p>There are lots of reasons why travel plays such a central role in our ideas about a “life well-lived”. Travel is often linked to important <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2003.10.005">life transitions</a>: the youthful gap year, the journey to self-discovery in the 2010 film <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0879870/">Eat Pray Love</a>, or the popular figure of the “<a href="https://theconversation.com/grey-nomad-lifestyle-provides-a-model-for-living-remotely-106074">grey nomad</a>”.</p> <p>The significance of travel is not merely in the destination, nor even in the journey. For many people, planning the travel is just as important. A cancer diagnosis affects people’s sense of control over their future, throwing into question their ability to write their own life story or plan their travel dreams.</p> <p>Mark, the recently retired husband of a woman with cancer, told us about their stalled travel plans: "We’re just in that part of our lives where we were going to jump in the caravan and do the big trip and all this sort of thing, and now [our plans are] on blocks in the shed."</p> <p>For others, a cancer diagnosis brought an urgent need to “tick things off” their bucket list. Asha, a woman living with breast cancer, told us she’d always been driven to “get things done” but the cancer diagnosis made this worse: "So, I had to do all the travel, I had to empty my bucket list now, which has kind of driven my partner round the bend."</p> <p>People’s travel dreams ranged from whale watching in Queensland to seeing polar bears in the Arctic, and from driving a caravan across the Nullarbor Plain to skiing in Switzerland.</p> <p>Nadia, who was 38 years old when we spoke to her, said travelling with her family had made important memories and given her a sense of vitality, despite her health struggles. She told us how being diagnosed with cancer had given her the chance to live her life at a younger age, rather than waiting for retirement: "In the last three years, I think I’ve lived more than a lot of 80-year-olds."</p> <h2>But travel is expensive</h2> <p>Of course, travel is expensive. It’s not by chance Nicholson’s character in The Bucket List is a billionaire.</p> <p>Some people we spoke to had emptied their savings, assuming they would no longer need to provide for aged care or retirement. Others had used insurance payouts or charity to make their bucket-list dreams come true.</p> <p>But not everyone can do this. Jim, a 60-year-old whose wife had been diagnosed with cancer, told us: "We’ve actually bought a new car and [been] talking about getting a new caravan […] But I’ve got to work. It’d be nice if there was a little money tree out the back but never mind."</p> <p>Not everyone’s bucket list items were expensive. Some chose to spend more time with loved ones, take up a new hobby or get a pet.</p> <p>Our study showed making plans to tick items off a list can give people a sense of self-determination and hope for the future. It was a way of exerting control in the face of an illness that can leave people feeling powerless. Asha said: "This disease is not going to control me. I am not going to sit still and do nothing. I want to go travel."</p> <h2>Something we ‘ought’ to do?</h2> <p>Bucket lists are also a symptom of a broader culture that emphasises conspicuous <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH_Pa1hOEVc">consumption</a> and <a href="https://productiveageinginstitute.org.au/">productivity</a>, even into the end of life.</p> <p>Indeed, people told us travelling could be exhausting, expensive and stressful, especially when they’re also living with the symptoms and side effects of treatment. Nevertheless, they felt travel was something they “<a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/14461242.2021.1918016">ought</a>” to do.</p> <p>Travel can be deeply meaningful, as our study found. But a life well-lived need not be extravagant or adventurous. Finding what is meaningful is a deeply personal journey.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Names of study participants mentioned in this article are pseudonyms.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225682/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/leah-williams-veazey-1223970">Leah Williams Veazey</a>, ARC DECRA Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alex-broom-121063">Alex Broom</a>, Professor of Sociology &amp; Director, Sydney Centre for Healthy Societies, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katherine-kenny-318175">Katherine Kenny</a>, ARC DECRA Senior Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/paris-in-spring-bali-in-winter-how-bucket-lists-help-cancer-patients-handle-life-and-death-225682">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Caring

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What is childhood dementia? And how could new research help?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kim-hemsley-1529322">Kim Hemsley</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-smith-1529324">Nicholas Smith</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/siti-mubarokah-1529323">Siti Mubarokah</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a></em></p> <p>“Childhood” and “dementia” are two words we wish we didn’t have to use together. But sadly, around <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awad242">1,400 Australian children and young people</a> live with currently untreatable childhood dementia.</p> <p>Broadly speaking, childhood dementia is caused by any one of <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/what-is-childhood-dementia#what">more than 100</a> rare genetic disorders. Although the causes differ from dementia acquired later in life, the progressive nature of the illness is the same.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awad242">Half</a> of infants and children diagnosed with childhood dementia will not reach their tenth birthday, and most will die <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/what-is-childhood-dementia#what">before turning 18</a>.</p> <p>Yet this devastating condition has lacked awareness, and importantly, the research attention needed to work towards treatments and a cure.</p> <h2>More about the causes</h2> <p>Most types of childhood dementia are <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/146/11/4446/7226999">caused</a> by <a href="https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/Mutation">mutations</a> (or mistakes) in our <a href="https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/Deoxyribonucleic-Acid">DNA</a>. These mistakes lead to a range of rare genetic disorders, which in turn cause childhood dementia.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awad242">Two-thirds</a> of childhood dementia disorders are caused by “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459183/">inborn errors of metabolism</a>”. This means the metabolic pathways involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates, lipids, fatty acids and proteins in the body fail.</p> <p>As a result, nerve pathways fail to function, neurons (nerve cells that send messages around the body) die, and progressive cognitive decline occurs.</p> <h2>What happens to children with childhood dementia?</h2> <p>Most children initially appear unaffected. But after a period of apparently normal development, children with childhood dementia <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2023.09.006">progressively lose</a> all previously acquired skills and abilities, such as talking, walking, learning, remembering and reasoning.</p> <p>Childhood dementia also leads to significant changes in behaviour, such as aggression and hyperactivity. Severe sleep disturbance is common and vision and hearing can also be affected. Many children have seizures.</p> <p>The age when symptoms start can vary, depending partly on the particular genetic disorder causing the dementia, but the average is around <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093%2Fbrain%2Fawad242">two years old</a>. The symptoms are caused by significant, progressive brain damage.</p> <h2>Are there any treatments available?</h2> <p>Childhood dementia treatments currently <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/news/report-reveals-global-research-inequity">under evaluation</a> or approved are for a very limited number of disorders, and are only available in some parts of the world. These include gene replacement, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/jmd2.12378">gene-modified cell therapy</a> and protein or <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1712649">enzyme replacement therapy</a>. Enzyme replacement therapy is available in Australia for <a href="https://australianprescriber.tg.org.au/articles/cerliponase-alfa-for-neuronal-ceroid-lipofuscinosis-type-2-disease.html">one form of childhood dementia</a>. These therapies attempt to “fix” the problems causing the disease, and have shown promising results.</p> <p>Other experimental therapies include ones that <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/life12050608">target</a> faulty protein production or <a href="https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2310151">reduce inflammation</a> in the brain.</p> <h2>Research attention is lacking</h2> <p>Death rates for Australian children with cancer <a href="http://www.childhooddementia.org/getasset/2WX39O">nearly halved</a> between <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/children-youth/australias-children/contents/health/cancer-incidence-survival">1997 and 2017</a> thanks to research that has enabled the development of multiple treatments. But over recent decades, <a href="http://www.childhooddementia.org/getasset/2WX39O">nothing has changed</a> for children with dementia.</p> <p>In 2017–2023, research for childhood cancer received over four times more funding per patient compared to funding for <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/getasset/2WX39O">childhood dementia</a>. This is despite childhood dementia causing a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awad242">similar number of deaths</a> each year as childhood cancer.</p> <p>The success <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/children-youth/australias-children/contents/health/cancer-incidence-survival">for childhood cancer sufferers</a> in recent decades demonstrates how adequately funding medical research can lead to improvements in patient outcomes.</p> <p>Another bottleneck for childhood dementia patients in Australia is the lack of access to clinical trials. An <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/news/report-reveals-global-research-inequity">analysis</a> published in March this year showed that in December 2023, only two clinical trials were recruiting patients with childhood dementia in Australia.</p> <p>Worldwide however, 54 trials were recruiting, meaning Australian patients and their families are left watching patients in other parts of the world receive potentially lifesaving treatments, with no recourse themselves.</p> <p>That said, we’ve seen a slowing in the establishment of <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/news/report-reveals-global-research-inequity">clinical trials</a> for childhood dementia across the world in recent years.</p> <p>In addition, we know from <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/join-us/professionals/impacts">consultation with families</a> that current care and support systems <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/getasset/44MLP8">are not meeting the needs</a> of children with dementia and their families.</p> <h2>New research</h2> <p>Recently, we were awarded <a href="https://www.premier.sa.gov.au/media-releases/news-items/major-funding-boost-for-research-into-childhood-dementia">new funding</a> for <a href="https://www.flinders.edu.au/giving/our-donors/impact-of-giving/improving-the-lives-of-children-with-dementia">our research</a> on childhood dementia. This will help us continue and expand studies that seek to develop lifesaving treatments.</p> <p>More broadly, we need to see increased funding in Australia and around the world for research to develop and translate treatments for the broad spectrum of childhood dementia conditions.</p> <p><em>Dr Kristina Elvidge, head of research at the <a href="https://www.childhooddementia.org/our-people">Childhood Dementia Initiative</a>, and Megan Maack, director and CEO, contributed to this article.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228508/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kim-hemsley-1529322">Kim Hemsley</a>, Head, Childhood Dementia Research Group, Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute, College of Medicine and Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-smith-1529324">Nicholas Smith</a>, Head, Paediatric Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Group, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/siti-mubarokah-1529323">Siti Mubarokah</a>, Research Associate, Childhood Dementia Research Group, Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute, College of Medicine and Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-is-childhood-dementia-and-how-could-new-research-help-228508">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Mind

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If you have money anxiety, knowing your financial attachment style can help

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ylva-baeckstrom-1463175">Ylva Baeckstrom</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/kings-college-london-1196">King's College London</a></em></p> <p>The number of people struggling with money in Britain is at a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2024/mar/18/record-numbers-of-uk-people-in-debt-warns-charity">record high</a>. Financial charities say that people are contacting them for help with debt, paying bills and insolvency. The campaign group Debt Justice found in a <a href="https://debtjustice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/WalnutOmnibus-Debt-Justice-Policy-Development-Weighted.xlsx">survey</a> that 29% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 25% of 25- to 34-year-olds had missed three or more bill payments in the last six months.</p> <p>A majority (65%) of people don’t think they can survive on their savings for three months without <a href="https://www.money.co.uk/savings-accounts/savings-statistics">borrowing money</a>. Statistics from the UK’s financial markets regulator show that more than one-third of UK adults have less than £1,000 in savings. And a survey by Money.co.uk found that 30% of Brits aged 25-64 do not save at all <a href="https://www.pensionsage.com/pa/Nearly-one-third-of-Brits-are-not-saving-for-retirement.php">for retirement</a>.</p> <p>With figures like that, is it any wonder that 75% of people in the UK feel <a href="https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/about-us/news/financial-strain-driving-uks-anxiety#:%7E:text=Almost%20three%2Dquarters%20of%20the,cited%20job%20insecurity%20or%20unemployment">anxious about money</a>?</p> <p>The current state of the economy is particularly scary for young people. Unless you were born with a trust fund (not most people), you are likely part of the first generation to be financially worse off than <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/11/politics/millennials-income-stalled-upward-mobility-us/index.html">your parents</a>. Retirement seems like an impossibility, and you’re unlikely to own your own home. Eighty percent of people in their early 20s worry about <a href="https://www.youngminds.org.uk/parent/parents-a-z-mental-health-guide/money-and-mental-health/#Thelinksbetweenmoneyandmentalhealth">not earning enough</a>.</p> <p>It is important to start planning for your financial future early in your career, but you may find it overwhelming. The good news is, there are ways to overcome this.</p> <h2>Finding your financial attachment style</h2> <p>As a psychotherapist and finance researcher, I work with people to help them to increase their financial confidence and find the motivation to start planning. This often starts with understanding what influences their relationship with money.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences/article/bowlbyainsworth-attachment-theory/6D35C7A344107195D97FD7ADAE06C807">Attachment theory</a> is a psychological concept introduced in the late 1950s. Your attachment style – which can be, for example, secure, anxious or avoidant – explains how you approach creating emotionally intimate relationships with other people. Some people feel secure building relationships, while others are extremely anxious. Some avoid close relationships altogether.</p> <p>Attachment style can also apply to your finances. If you feel confident and safe when it comes to money, you are secure in your relationship to saving and spending. But if the thought of opening an ISA or filling out a tax return, let alone planning for retirement, fills you with dread and panic, you may be anxiously attached. And if you if you push money worries to the back of your mind, you are likely avoidant.</p> <p>Attachment theorists and psychotherapists like me think that attachment styles are shaped by childhood experiences – for example, how well you were looked after by your parents or carers, and how safe and loved you felt.</p> <p>The way money was handled in your family growing up is likely to have set the blueprint for your <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200225114410.htm">financial attachment style</a>. Outside influences like education or work experiences may shape this too.</p> <p>Although financial education is part of the <a href="https://maps.org.uk/en/work-with-us/financial-education-in-schools">school curriculum</a> in the UK, 76% of children leave school without sufficient <a href="https://maps.org.uk/en/media-centre/press-releases/2024/hundreds-of-thousands-leaving-school-without-money-skills#:%7E:text=In%20its%20poll%20of%201%2C012,knowledge%20they%20need%20for%20adulthood">financial knowledge</a> to manage their lives. Similarly, financial services like banks have done a poor job helping people establish secure financial relationships. Complex and <a href="https://www.pwmnet.com/private-view-blog-time-for-the-financial-industry-to-jettison-the-jargon">off-putting language</a> has placed a barrier between those who know about money and those who need to learn.</p> <p>If you feel unable to keep up with financial terms, or that you don’t understand money, this is likely to hurt your confidence in your financial planning abilities and fuel a more avoidant attachment style.</p> <p>Identifying your attachment style can help you nurture a better relationship with money. You will be able to understand and predict how and why you react to finances in certain ways. And, it can provide confidence by reminding you that money struggles are not necessarily your fault.</p> <h2>Getting over financial anxiety</h2> <p>Some of the recent financial trends spreading on social media may give an insight into your attachment style. Are you <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/select/what-is-loud-budgeting-trend-can-it-work/">“loud budgeting”</a> (being vocal about why you aren’t spending money)? This could be a sign of financial confidence and that you have secure financial attachment. Or are you “doom spending” (spending money you don’t have instead of creating a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2024/jan/31/are-you-loud-budgeting-or-doom-spending-finance-according-to-gen-z">nest egg</a> for the future)? You may be avoidant.</p> <p>Healthy relationships with <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/lifes-challenges/maintaining-healthy-relationships-and-mental-wellbeing/#:%7E:text=People%20with%20healthy%2C%20positive%20and,such%20as%20stress%20and%20anxiety">people</a> and <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/lifes-challenges/money-worries-mental-health/#:%7E:text=Our%20mental%20health%20might%20be,earning%20enough%20or%20currently%20unemployed">money</a> are both critical for our survival and mental health. As an adult, you have the power to improve these relationships. But because attachment patterns were formed early on, they are difficult to change. Therapy and other support can help you adopt healthier habits, as can increasing your financial knowledge.</p> <p>If you want to change your relationship with money, you should try to be mindful of what may be influencing you. While financial advice on social media may be useful and help young people feel more empowered to <a href="https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/financial-advisor/adults-financial-advice-social-media/">talk about money</a>, it can also <a href="https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/it-or-not-social-medias-affecting-your-mental-health">increase anxiety further</a> and be <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-you-get-your-financial-advice-on-social-media-watch-out-for-misinformation-222196">full of misinformation</a>. A good place to start for accurate and helpful information is the government’s <a href="https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en">Money Helper website</a>.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225243/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ylva-baeckstrom-1463175">Ylva Baeckstrom</a>, Senior Lecturer in Finance, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/kings-college-london-1196">King's College London</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-you-have-money-anxiety-knowing-your-financial-attachment-style-can-help-225243">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Nicole Kidman's daughters help celebrate mum's historic first

<p>Nicole Kidman taken to the red carpet with her family in tow for a rare appearance, as Nicole accepted a lifetime achievement award. </p> <p>The Aussie actress was joined by her husband Keith Urban and their two daughters, Sunday, 15, and Faith, 13, who were all dressed to the nines for the occasion.</p> <p>Nicole was also surrounded by her sister Antonia Kidman, brother-in-law Craig Marran and their family for the glitzy event. </p> <p>The 56-year-old actress has now become the first Australian to win the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award, with the award often being dubbed the highest honour in American cinema. </p> <p>The accolade has also been won by the likes of Julie Andrews, Al Pacino, Denzel Washington, George Clooney, Meryl Streep Morgan Freeman and many other iconic figures in the industry. </p> <p>The Academy Award winner who grew up in Sydney said on social media she was "deeply moved" to receive such a prestigious award. </p> <p>"Thank you to all of you and to the American Film institute for including me in this illustrious group of honorees — now let's have some fun!" she wrote on Instagram. </p> <p>When announcing Kidman as the recipient of the award, AFI released a statement saying, "Both a powerhouse performer, spellbinding movie star and accomplished producer, Nicole Kidman has captured the imaginations of audiences throughout her prolific career, delivering complex and versatile performances on-screen."</p> <p>"She is a force both brave in her choices and bold in each performance. AFI is honoured to present her with the 49th AFI Life Achievement Award."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Family & Pets

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‘Girl math’ may not be smart financial advice, but it could help women feel more empowered with money

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ylva-baeckstrom-1463175">Ylva Baeckstrom</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/kings-college-london-1196">King's College London</a></em></p> <p>If you’ve ever calculated cost per wear to justify the price of an expensive dress, or felt like you’ve made a profit after returning an ill-fitting pair of jeans, you might be an expert in <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/girl-maths-tiktok-trend-its-basically-free-b1100504.html">“girl math”</a>. With videos about the topic going viral on social media, girl math might seem like a silly (<a href="https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/girl-math-womens-spending-taken-seriously">or even sexist</a>) trend, but it actually tells us a lot about the relationship between gender, money and emotions.</p> <p>Girl math introduces a spend classification system: purchases below a certain value, or made in cash, don’t “count”. Psychologically, this makes low-value spending feel safe and emphasises the importance of the long-term value derived from more expensive items. For example, girl math tells us that buying an expensive dress is only “worth it” if you can wear it to multiple events.</p> <p>This approach has similarities to <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/modernportfoliotheory.asp">portfolio theory</a> – a method of choosing investments to maximise expected returns and minimise risk. By evaluating how each purchase contributes to the shopping portfolio, girl math shoppers essentially become shopping portfolio managers.</p> <h2>Money and emotions</h2> <p>People of all genders, rich or poor, feel anxious when dealing with their personal finances. Many people in the UK do not understand pensions or saving enough to <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/workplacepensions/articles/pensionparticipationatrecordhighbutcontributionsclusteratminimumlevels/2018-05-04">afford their retirement</a>. Without motivation to learn, people avoid dealing with money altogether. One way to find this motivation, as girl math shows, is by having an emotional and tangible connection to our finances.</p> <p>On the surface, it may seem that women are being ridiculed and encouraged to overspend by using girl math. From a different perspective, it hints at something critical: for a person to really care about something as seemingly abstract as personal finance, they need to feel that they can relate to it.</p> <p>Thinking about money in terms of the value of purchases can help create an <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/every-time-i-use-my-card-my-phone-buzzes-and-that-stops-me-shopping-ps0fjx6nj">emotional relationship</a> to finance, making it something people want to look after.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GPzA7B6dcxc?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>The girl math we need</h2> <p>Women are a consumer force to be reckoned with, controlling <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/bridgetbrennan/2015/01/21/top-10-things-everyone-should-know-about-women-consumers/#7679f9d6a8b4">up to 80%</a> of consumer spending globally. The girl math trend is a demonstration of women’s mastery at applying portfolio theory to their shopping, making them investment powerhouses whose potential is overlooked by the financial services industry.</p> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/28/women-paid-less-than-men-over-careers-gender-pay-gap-report">Women are disadvantaged</a> when it comes to money and finance. Women in the UK earn on average £260,000 less than men during their careers and the retirement income of men is twice as high as women’s.</p> <p>As I’ve found in <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Gender-and-Finance-Addressing-Inequality-in-the-Financial-Services-Industry/Baeckstrom/p/book/9781032055572">my research</a> on gender and finance, women have lower financial self-efficacy (belief in their own abilities) compared to men. This is not helped by women feeling patronised when seeking financial advice.</p> <p>Because the world of finance was created by men for men, its language and culture are <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Gender-and-Finance-Addressing-Inequality-in-the-Financial-Services-Industry/Baeckstrom/p/book/9781032055572">intrinsically male</a>. Only in the mid-1970s did women in the UK gain the legal right to open a bank account without a male signature and it was not until 1980 that they could apply for credit independently. With the law now more (<a href="https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2023/03/02/pace-of-reform-toward-equal-rights-for-women-falls-to-20-year-low">but not fully</a>) gender equal, the financial services industry has failed to connect with women.</p> <p>Studies show that 49% of women are <a href="https://www.ellevest.com/magazine/disrupt-money/ellevest-financial-wellness-survey">anxious about their finances</a>. However they have not bought into patronising offers and <a href="https://www.fa-mag.com/news/gender-roles-block-female-financial-experience--ubs-says-73531.html">mansplaining by financial advisers</a>. This outdated approach suggests that it is women, rather than the malfunctioning financial system, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/16/women-are-not-financially-illiterate-they-need-more-than-condescending-advice">who need fixing</a>.</p> <p>Women continue to feel that they do not belong to or are able to trust the world of finance. And why would women trust an industry with a <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/bulletins/genderpaygapintheuk/2019">gender pay gap</a> of up to 59% and a severe lack of women in senior positions?</p> <p>Girl math on its own isn’t necessarily good financial advice, but if it helps even a handful of women feel more empowered to manage and understand their finances, it should not be dismissed.</p> <p><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ylva-baeckstrom-1463175">Ylva Baeckstrom</a>, Senior Lecturer in Finance, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/kings-college-london-1196">King's College London</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/girl-math-may-not-be-smart-financial-advice-but-it-could-help-women-feel-more-empowered-with-money-211780">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Huge reward to help solve cold case of missing mum

<p>Police are offering a $500,000 reward for information to help solve a cold case that suspect was a murder. </p> <p>Tammy Lisa Dyson, also known as Tamela Menzies, was 23 when went missing from the Currumbin area in 1995. </p> <p>The mother of two was picked up from a drug rehab clinic by a woman claiming to be her sister on July 20, 1995 and has not been seen since. </p> <p>Dyson was born and raised in Victoria before moving to Brisbane in 1988, where she worked in the adult entertainment industry under the nickname "Pebbles". </p> <p>Police believe she began mixing with criminals and using drugs while working in strip clubs on the Gold Coast.</p> <p>In early 1995 Dyson arranged for her young sons, Jyles and Rainey, to stay with their grandmother in Victoria temporarily.</p> <p>A few months later she made a distressed call to her sister Olivia, who said she had been assaulted. </p> <p>Olivia and her partner then dropped Dyson off to a drug rehabilitation centre at Currumbin on the Gold Coast, and on July 20, 1995 she was picked up by someone claiming to be her sister. </p> <p>The following day, Tammy completed a statutory declaration signed by a Justice of the Peace in Tweed Heads, giving custody of her children and her possessions to her mother.</p> <p>She also called her sister one last time, with Olivia recalling that Tammy "didn't sound like herself" and she had mentioned underworld figures. </p> <p>Police have received a number of reported sightings of Tammy since 1995 but all proof of life inquiries have  been proven negative.</p> <p>In 2012, the Queensland coroner said that they believed Tammy was deceased and indicated that she may have been a victim of violence, although a certain date, time and cause of death have not been determined. </p> <p>Police are now offering the huge reward for new information and immunity from prosecution for any accomplice who comes forward.</p> <p>"Tammy associated with criminals that were known to police and vanished without a trace after giving custody of her children and possessions to her mother; we believe the circumstances of her disappearance is suspicious," Detective Senior Sergeant Tara Kentwell said.</p> <p>On Wednesday, her sons, who were only three and one when their mother disappeared, made an emotional appeal for public help to find her. </p> <p>"Growing up without mum and not knowing what happened to her has been very hard," Jyles Lebler said through tears during a media conference. </p> <p>"Whoever has picked her up, I'm not saying they have done something but they must know something bad has happened."</p> <p>"We hope we find out what to mum to give grandma some closure before it's too late," Rainey added.</p> <p><em>Images: Queensland Police</em></p>

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The unique travel hack that is guaranteed to help beat jet lag

<p dir="ltr">Experts have revealed how to beat jet lag on your next overseas holiday, and it all comes down to your modes of transport. </p> <p dir="ltr">Sleep researchers said it's good news for cruise lovers, as exposure to sea air and bright natural light improves sleep to cure the annoying condition quickly.</p> <p dir="ltr">Some experts say to avoid travelling by plane all together, and always opt for cruising holidays instead. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, if you have to travel to your cruise by plane, being on board is a great way to tackle the dreadful feeling, compared with holidaying on land, Panache Cruises said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr Lindsay Browning, expert at Trouble Sleeping said exposing yourself to bright lights at the right time after a long-haul flight is one of the most powerful things we can do to boost and help shift circadian rhythm, and being on a ship is the perfect place for that.</p> <p dir="ltr">"As a general rule, you want to get lots of bright light exposure during the daytime and avoid light at night," Browning said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"When travelling on a cruise ship, you will naturally get a lot of bright light exposure during the day, helping your circadian rhythm.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"Further, when travelling by ship you will have a cabin with a proper bed and curtain, enabling you to sleep at night when you want to."</p> <p dir="ltr">The company claimed research showed how prolonged exposure to sea air can improve blood oxygen levels, boost vitamin D, and improve breathing leading to higher-quality sleep, helping to rid travellers of pesky jet lag so they can enjoy their holidays. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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