|No direct link found between rising inequality and reduced trust
||Does rising economic inequality causes trust to fall in society and thus endanger social cohesion? Recent academic research appears to support this notion. However, a study from the University of Luxembourg disagrees. As recent work from economists from the University of Luxembourg indicates, the apparent link between income inequality and lower general trust could be [...]The post No direct link found between rising inequality and reduced trust appeared first on PsyPost.
|Playing with puzzles and blocks may build children’s spatial skills
||Play may seem like fun and games, but new research shows that specific kinds of play are actually associated with development of particular cognitive skills. Data from a nationally representative study show that children who play frequently with puzzles, blocks, and board games tend to have better spatial reasoning ability. The research is published in [...]The post Playing with puzzles and blocks may build children’s spatial skills appeared first on PsyPost.
|Chimps with higher-ranking moms do better in fights
||For chimpanzees, just like humans, teasing, taunting and bullying are familiar parts of playground politics. An analysis of 12 years of observations of playground fights between young chimpanzees in East Africa finds that chimps with higher-ranked moms are more likely to win. The results come from an analysis of daily field notes recorded from 2000 [...]The post Chimps with higher-ranking moms do better in fights appeared first on PsyPost.
|Mental health monitoring through ‘selfie’ videos and social media tracking
||Researchers at the University of Rochester have developed an innovative approach to turn any computer or smartphone with a camera into a personal mental health monitoring device. In a paper to be presented this week at the American Association for Artificial Intelligence conference in Austin, Texas, Professor of Computer Science Jiebo Luo and his colleagues [...]The post Mental health monitoring through ‘selfie’ videos and social media tracking appeared first on PsyPost.
|How Do You Struggle Through Bipolar Depression?
||I received an email from a reader in South Africa, no less. How do I deal with bipolar depression? I am not sure I am qualified to give a statement here as I don’t always succeed in beating the depression, but here are a few tips I’ve learned along this...
|In Times of Great Stress, Reach for the Pause Button
||So I decided to move across the country and, not surprisingly, it’s turned my whole world upside down. While I’m micromanaging every detail and packing boxes when I go to bed instead of counting sheep, my anxiety and depression think they’ve won the Super Bowl. I’m taking this opportunity to...
|Seeing selves as overweight may be self-fulfilling prophecy for some teens
||Teens who mistakenly perceive themselves as overweight are actually at greater risk of obesity as adults, according to research findings forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. “Our research shows that psychological factors are important in the development of obesity,” says psychological scientist and study author Angelina Sutin of Florida [...]The post Seeing selves as overweight may be self-fulfilling prophecy for some teens appeared first on PsyPost.
|Beer compound could help fend off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
||The health-promoting perks of wine have attracted the spotlight recently, leaving beer in the shadows. But scientists are discovering new ways in which the latter could be a more healthful beverage than once thought. They’re now reporting in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that a compound from hops could protect brain cells from [...]The post Beer compound could help fend off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases appeared first on PsyPost.
|Children feel most positively about mothers who respect their autonomy
||Research shows that the quality of mother-child relationships greatly influences children’s development socially, emotionally and academically. Although previous studies have demonstrated the importance of promoting children’s autonomy, available research often has not addressed ways parental respect for autonomy may affect parent-child relationships. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that mothers who support their children’s [...]The post Children feel most positively about mothers who respect their autonomy appeared first on PsyPost.
|Concentrating on word sounds helps reading instruction and intervention
||A neuroimaging study by a University at Buffalo psychologist suggests that phonics, a method of learning to read using knowledge of word sounds, shouldn’t be overlooked in favor of a whole-language technique that focuses on visually memorizing word patterns, a finding that could help improve treatment and diagnosis of common reading disorders such as dyslexia. [...]The post Concentrating on word sounds helps reading instruction and intervention appeared first on PsyPost.
|Does getting 'expensive' drug affect how much patient benefits?
||People's perceptions of the cost of a drug may affect how much they benefit from the drug, even when they are receiving only a placebo, according to a new study of people with Parkinson's disease.
|‘Friending’ your way thin: Dieters who make more connections online lose more weight
||If you want to lose pounds using an online weight management program, don’t be a wallflower. A new Northwestern University study shows that online dieters with high social embeddedness — who logged in regularly, recorded their weigh-ins and ‘friended’ other members — lost more than 8 percent of their body weight in six months. The [...]The post ‘Friending’ your way thin: Dieters who make more connections online lose more weight appeared first on PsyPost.
|Consider These Terms of Engagement Before Having Your Next
|| With most couples, it’s not a matter of “if” there is another argument, but “when”. Whether you call it an argument, a difference of opinion, a conflict, a quarrel, a row, a misunderstanding, a squabble, a spat, or any one of a number of other synonyms or euphemisms, almost all...
|Keys to Creativity: Using anxiety to create.
||Anxiety is a common emotion experienced by creative people and while some of the symptoms may be similar from one person to the next, how and when people experience anxiety differs widely. Sometimes anxiety is experienced as a reaction to our surrounding environment. Something –negative or with negative connotations- happens...
“After all, that’s why they call it work.” We’ve all heard people say that. For so many, the workplace sucks precious energy and joy from them that could be invested in their personal lives. For that, people do not like their jobs.
The truth, however, is that you have more control over your work environment than you could ever admit—until now. You have untapped mega-powers over your attitude and that of others in the workplace. What’s more, you in a more pleasant work environment means a healthier, happier, more upwardly mobile you.
You certainly can think of that one person who comes into a jovial, happy-go-lucky room and empties the atmosphere of all fun. Or conversely, there might be that colleague who can hop on a conference call, and their mere presence lifts your soul.
You can be either of these people. It’s up to you. You have an amazing power to command the energy of anyone in your environment because all of us are human and feed off one another. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and anyone else, and it’s free! What’s more, the more you help people to feel good, the more the energy you created in them will rub off on you.
Here’s how you can tap into this endless renewable energy resource:
Lead with your smile. When you are facing someone to speak, the closest part of your body to them is your face. How appropriate. After all, our face is the source of
over 50 percent of our communication. Thankfully, you are in complete control of what you wear on your face, which also affects the tone of your voice, from where another roughly 40 percent of your communication comes. Early in our public speaking careers, we were taught by the experts that if we projected our chin forward and smiled, that would take care of 90 percent of the energy in the room. A dirty little secret is that after that’s taken care of, the content of the speech is just icing on the cake. So if you take just one simple thing out of this article, realize the importance of smiling on those around you. It is a cinch and nothing short of huge.
Inquire and know about others. Having our own businesses for well over a decade, we are veterans of networking and, with that, the importance of being interested in others. An ABC of networking is to always record another person’s particulars in your rolodex—their birthday, children’s names, favorite music, etc. Funny is that many people only go into this mode when looking for a job or have their own businesses. How valuable is it in a full-time job to come into a room or hop on a conference call and begin inquiring about these types of things immediately as you wait for others to arrive for example? You’ll see a sense of teamwork and connection immediately start to bloom. The effect on others of taking interest in them is truly immeasurable. Try it. “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” - Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Encourage others to be genuine. For better or worse, people act like the person they think you want them to be. The result? Most have a rather homogenous view of the buttoned up professional at work—more email in the inbox than they can handle, juggling several critical projects at once, and having the phone in front of them during a conversation in case the President needs authorization to use the nuclear launch codes. Everyone strives to act fairly the same, making the workplace more boring and less interesting than it could be. During the writing of our bestseller Radical Sabbatical, we brought the related victories and defeats of authorship to our clients and friends, and we were brutally honest about it. As we shared something deep, unique, and personal, our clients began to do more of the same, creating a more engaged, creative, and connected energy in all our work with them. And it made it more fun to “inquire and know about others,” (see above) since they were more unique and interesting. Others will present you their genuine selves when you go first.
Pay compliments. As consultants, we have the fascinating privilege of witnessing team dynamics with detachment from the politics of our clients’ organizations. Part of that is watching personnel rise up through the ranks. When you are in a group setting and compliment others, you not only make them feel amazing and lift their energy, but you give off to others that most powerful trait that everyone is looking for in a leader—empowerment of others. So as with all the other pointers in this piece, you are creating positive energy in yourself by being positive about the other person, they receive your positive compliment, and those around you have a more positive image of the both of you. Again, all this stuff is full-circle.
Be thankful. This one will be fairly automatic if you follow the first four points above. Quickly review our recommendations, and see that you empower yourself
and others by focusing your energy on giving to them. Why is giving so powerful? Because—here’s something counterintuitive—it makes you more grateful. Nothing we have recommended you give costs a cent. Rather, it comes from within you—intrinsically. It is when people appreciate those things you created intrinsically that you feel an endless stream of riches at your disposal. It is at that moment you become truly grateful in the purest sense of the word, and recent study after study points to gratitude as possibly the greatest contributor to a happier life.
So it may be time to stop looking at your boss or company as the reason why you don’t like going to work. Likewise, it may be time to stop looking for a new job. All these are potential changes outside of you. A change inside outshines the value of external changes countless folds over, is more under your control, and can start with a decision right now to bring more happiness, health, and balance into your life, in and out of work.
Laura Berger, PCC and Glen Tibaldeo, PMP, CPA are authors and popular speakers at national conferences and for Fortune companies. Glen is a Project Strategist/Change Management Consultant and Laura is an Executive Coach, both for the Berdeo Group LLC. Their Bestseller Radical Sabbatical is described by Dave Barry as "the funniest book I have ever held in my hands" and is available on Amazon, kobo, Barnes and Noble, and at other major bookstores.
5 Ways to Inspire Others and Yourself to Greatness
Blog to Post to:
Most people prefer not to go to work. You have the power to change that.
Mature Audiences Only:
|What’s So Great About EMDR
||Recently, someone wrote to me at my Tumblr and shared how helpful her EMDR trauma therapy was. In particular, she was pleasantly surprised to find that she could process her childhood trauma even though her memories weren’t very clear or organized. She wanted to know about my experience as an...
|Attacking, Blaming, and Criticizing: How To Respond To Other
|| It always hurts when it happens, and often, it comes out of the blue. We are going along with our lives and then suddenly, someone interprets something we’ve done or said — and sometimes who we are — as wrong, and goes on the attack. And out come...
|Deflate-gate and the Psychology of Cheating
||As the biggest sports event of the year approaches (4 days 5 hours 48 minutes 32 seconds away as of this writing), the black cloud that’s been hanging over the NFL all season continues to darken. In a season that started with the Ray Rice fiasco, the NFL is now...
|Why upper motor neurons degenerate in ALS
||Scientists have revealed a mechanism underlying the cellular degeneration of the upper motor neurons that die in ALS, and developed a model system that will allow further research on the degeneration.
|Hypochondriacs and Cyberchondriacs—Do They Live Longer?
Surely, we all know (or know of) a hypochondriac. And a cyberchondriac—a colloquial term for hypochondriacs perpetually scouring the Internet for diseases that might fit their worrisome symptoms—have become increasingly prominent. But might there be some practical benefits to being hypervigilant about atypical or anomalous bodily sensations?—that is, super alert to possible aberrations potentially lethal to your health that would more than counterbalance the physical or psychological costs associated with such protracted, and exaggerated, anxiety?
Many writers have alluded to the circumstance that a hypochondriac’s (or cyberchondriac’s) acute attention to what’s going on in their bodies could lead them to see their doctor (or multiples of same!) earlier—as well as more frequently. And that this extraordinary body awareness could optimize the chance that any number of possible diseases might be diagnosed at an earlier stage, thereby increasing the odds of successful treatment. By implication then, such early detection might also be expected to positively affect their life expectancy.
Nonetheless, the many claims advanced against the hypochondriac’s nervous preoccupation with their symptoms far outweigh any case that might be made in behalf of such pathological self-absorption. And virtually all of these arguments relate to the elevated stress levels involved in such prolonged mental and emotional anguishing. (It might also be noted here that, at least according to Mayo Clinic Staff—and contrary to what most people seem to believe—this personality disturbance is about equally distributed between men and women.)
Back in the 1970s, Han Selye, M.D., defined stress in terms of its cumulative “wear and tear” on your system. Almost a half-century has passed since his empirically-derived viewpoint but, so far as I can determine, no researcher since has attempted to refute his perspective. In fact, many scientists have elaborated further on how, over time, stress takes a significant toll on your immune system.
So, ironically, your very ability to fight a disease is actually compromised by incessantly worrying about it. It might even be said that the more you obsess about having contracted a hazardous condition, the more likely you’ll end up with some condition (whether or not it’s the one you've been agonizing over). And it might be added that hypochondriacs can also “stress over their stress”—a most vicious cycle that, eventually, might even be fatal—as in, well, “stressing yourself to death.” (Talk about “wear and tear” on your system!)
Cortisol, an immune system suppressant manufactured by the body when it’s in fight-or-flight mode, is one of the most dangerous of stress hormones. And when hypochondriacs just can’t stop stressing over perceived health threats, such cumulative cortisol production can be viewed as toxically overloading—or disrupting the normal functioning of—the body’s organs, glands, and systems.
Plus, hypochondriacs are typically on a medication regimen, that not only may they put their doctor(s) under considerable pressure to prescribe but that, because the drugs may not really be indicated, can also put their health at further risk. It’s almost like unwittingly encouraging a premature death through opening up the possibility of major side-effects and complications. So taking unnecessary medications can significantly add to the physical stress already imposed on their body by their compulsive worrying.
Given the profound effect that stress, particularly prolonged or chronic stress, can have on one’s body, how could hypochondriacs' overblown concerns about particular symptoms (which, by definition, are actually minor, inconsequential, or frivolous) not adversely affect their lifespan? How could all their obsessing not be detrimental when it typically leads not only to their taking needless medications but also to putting themselves through interminable (and at times invasive) diagnostic tests and procedures—which, it might be noted, they gladly subject themselves to, or even demand?
As an important caveat, it ought to be noted that genetics, too, plays a role in determining a person’s longevity. Nonetheless—and somewhat surprisingly—that role is substantially less than up till recently has generally been assumed. Wikipedia’s heavily documented article on the subject concludes that “[identical] twin studies have estimated that approximately 20-30 percent of an individual’s lifespan is related to genetics; the rest is due to individual behaviors and environmental factors.” And the research I’ve personally undertaken definitely corroborates this verdict.
The one academic study that most closely applies to hypochondria—and its negative influence on one’s lifespan—comes from the University of Zurich. Discussed in the Daily Mail (February 11, 2012), journalist Fiona Macrae sums it up this way: “Scientists believe that hypochondriacs really may be destined for an early grave.” And I’d add that they may be so fated not because of their genes but because of the protracted and intense anxiety intrinsic to this disorder.
Here are some pivotal details of this recent study. Scrupulously controlling for as many variables as possible, this research team found that individuals who complained about their health were three times more likely to die in the next 30 years than those who perceived themselves as more able-bodied and hearty. In other words, the first group’s notions about their physical wellness alone—that is, independent of other factors, such as their health at the start of the study, their family life, whether or not they smoked, etc.—appeared to substantially affect their mortality.
The university’s investigators—utilizing information from the 1970s, which involved more than 8,000 men and women specifically asked how they’d describe their health, and then painstakingly analyzing subsequent death records and other data—concluded that (to put it a little differently) the worse a person estimated their health, the less likely they were to be alive 30 years later. Macrae’s quotes from co-researcher Dr. David Fach are telling: “‘Our results indicate that people who rate their state of health as excellent have attributes [my emphasis] that improve and sustain their health. These [qualities] might include a positive attitude, an optimistic outlook and a fundamental level of satisfaction with one’s own life.’” Pointedly, Macrae adds here that earlier research has demonstrated that “pessimists are more likely to die young than their more optimistic counterparts.” (And it can hardly be contested that as a group hypochondriacs lean heavily toward pessimism.)
So this study provides yet more evidence that obsessing about the precariousness of one’s health can have precarious ramifications for—or maybe I should say, against—one’s health. Another irony here is that it’s sometimes been suggested that hypochondriacs torment themselves over body anomalies as a way of distracting themselves from other matters that might feel even more threatening to them. And unquestionably, so-called cyberchondriacs can easily push to the rear various personal, relational, or professional fears through tirelessly consulting the Web to research their supposed afflictions. (Not to mention exposing themselves to the innumerable TV programs, articles, and advertisements so frequently devoted to an enormous miscellany of illnesses and conditions, and their related symptomatology.)
Returning to Hans Selye, the more stress you inflict on yourself, the more wear and tear you’re subjecting your body to. And the more wear and tear, the sooner your organism—under such constant bombardment—will break down. So if habitually anguishing over your health is warrantlessly using up too much of your life’s mortal energy, the message should be clear:
Of course, pay attention to your symptoms, especially if they’re serious or you find them bewildering. But don’t give them sovereignty over you either. And if believing that you’re fundamentally healthy is too much of a “leap of faith” for you, despite all the assurances you’ve already received from your physician(s), then maybe your next trip shouldn’t be to a doctor . . . but to a therapist.
Note 1: If you learned anything useful from this post, and think others you know might also, please consider forwarding them its link.
Note 2: If you’d like to check out other posts I’ve written for Psychology Today online—on a broad variety of topics—click here.
© 2015 Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.
---I invite readers to join me on Facebook, as well as to follow my miscellaneous (and frequently “out of the box”) musings on Twitter.
How does constantly obsessing about your health affect your longevity?
Blog to Post to:
Evolution of the Self
Surely, we all know (or know of) a hypochondriac. And a cyberchondriac—a colloquial term for hypochondriacs perpetually scouring the Internet for diseases that might fit their worrisome symptoms—have also become increasingly prominent. But might there be some practical benefits to being hypervigilant about atypical or anomalous bodily sensations?
Mature Audiences Only: