Hello, and welcome to the August 2020 newsletter! How’s your current outlook? As we all learn to adapt to these pandemic days, many find the greatest challenge is maintaining a positive outlook.
With no way to predict how long we’ll be facing this crisis, it’s so important to create and maintain a healthy environment, both mentally and physically.
The information in this month’s issue comes from a useful site for researching health and well-being: studyfinds.org. Here are the results of two studies that could help you to function well during these trying times.
Massage can contribute some vital benefits for you. Highlights from the article: Massage Therapy for Mental Health from the website amtamassage.org:
Massage therapy has shown to significantly reduce stress on both physical and psychological levels.
Research supports that massage can relieve stress in those with chronic pain, cancer patients, children with illnesses, patients with generalized anxiety disorder, the elderly, and healthy adults.
Studies show that regular massages can improve mood and reset circadian rhythms, leading to improved mood, better sleep, and more energy.
Enjoy the rest of your summer; see you soon for your next massage!
No sleep, no smile: Lack of shut eye reduces positivity, feelings of happiness
by John Anderer
A new study is emphasizing just how important a regular and consistent sleep schedule is to one’s overall wellbeing. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology say that lack of sleep can make a person feel less happy, lazier, and less attentive the following day.
“Participants in our study experienced a flattening of emotions when they slept less than normal. They felt less joy, enthusiasm, attention and fulfillment,” explains Ingvild Saksvik-Lehouillier, an associate professor at NTNU’s Department of Psychology.
Sleeping two hours less has dramatic impact— Each person slept according to their usual schedule in their own bed for seven days. Following three of those nights, participants underwent a series of tests.
Then, for the next three nights everyone slept two hours less than they usually would. On two of the mornings following those shortened nights, participants underwent the same tests again. Researchers say the results were striking.
“Participants’ positive feelings scored worse after just one night of reduced sleep, and dropped even more after three nights,” comments Saksvik-Lehouillier.
Better sleep, better focus— All of the tests took place about an hour and a half after participants woke up, and no one was allowed to drink any coffee.
“We tested responsiveness and accuracy. The reaction time went down after the participants had been sleep deprived, but the error rate went up,” says Saksvik-Lehouillier. “It seems that we react more quickly to compensate for lower concentration. Then there’ll be more mistakes.” For each additional night the participants slept less than usual, the worse they performed on these tests.
Positive impact— “We didn’t find clear differences when it came to the negative emotions, but there were marked differences for the positive ones. Positive feelings scored worse after just one night of reduced sleep, and dropped even more after three nights,” Saksvik-Lehouillier notes.
“I think this is a really interesting find,” she continues. “We already know that fewer positive emotions have a major impact on mental health. We also know that poor sleep is included in virtually all mental health diagnoses.”
Early to rise, early in the sack— “How long we sleep is just part of the picture, but when we sleep is also important. An irregular circadian rhythm can be worse than sleeping too little. Going to bed and getting up at the same time is recommended,” Saksvik-Lehouillier says.
“Sleep is individual. Not everyone needs to sleep seven and a half hours every night. The most important thing is how you feel. If you’re in a good mood and alert when you get up, those are indications that your sleep habits are working for you.”
The study is published in Sleep.
What makes some people so resilient during a crisis? Study reveals keys to a positive mindset
by Craig T Lee
In the midst of a pandemic, accumulating good days can be challenging. For those who regularly find joy in their days, particularly during a pandemic, what’s their secret? A new study reveals the various factors that build resiliency in people, especially when facing hardship.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab surveyed 600 American adults and discovered ways people can create optimism during lonely days.
How to develop an upbeat mindset— According to the study, exercise, meditation, prayer are among the most common ways people stay centered. Blending favorite hobbies with some relaxation time is also key. “Most people know that these things are important, of course,” write co-authors Professor Barbara L. Frederickson and Michael M. Prinzing, a graduate fellow at the university. “But they are especially so these days as we stay at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus.”
The authors say that people who feel lonely, stressed, anxious, or depressed benefit the most from practicing self-care.
Keep in touch, using video— Social interaction plays a tricky role in the overall health of a person. Too much of anything is bad for you, especially if we’re talking about social media. Keeping up with the world’s troubles is important, but limiting how much news you consume is vital for positive emotions, researchers say. “Our data showed that the amount of time people spend passively browsing social media was unrelated to positive states, and strongly linked to anxiety and other negative feelings,” the authors write.
Social interaction also proves to be a strong way to limit negative emotions, say researchers. This is particularly key for those living alone. Face-to-face conversation is best, but video chats prove just as effective during social distancing, researchers say.
Conversely, keeping up with friends and family over text doesn’t elicit the same positive feelings. “It’s much harder to establish a meaningful connection with someone via text.”
Good deeds elicit positive emotions— Frederickson and Prinzing say that extending a helping hand to another helps produce positive emotions. Even a simple donation goes a long way, particularly during a crisis.
Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence,
so that's very important for good health.
— Dalai Lama