Wellness Wednesdays – 10/11/17

Wellness Wednesdays is a MVMag.net-exclusive feature that curates the best health & wellness content from around the Valley and the web.

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WELLNESS TIP OF THE WEEK

Trying to Shake Your Social Media Compulsions? Delete Those Smartphone Apps!

Is it any wonder so many of us have found ourselves participating in what Wired calls the “endless scroll”? After all, social media is designed to operate in the same manner as a Skinner box, pelting you with notifications that make the content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like awfully hard to ignore. Even once you’ve checked that box in your brain and satisfied your sense of completion, though, you can’t be done — you can never be done. Just about every one of us participating in the social media world can identify a time like this — you jumped on Facebook for a specific purpose, probably because your phone notified you about some thing or another, and now you’ve forgotten about that entirely as you swipe upward and upward, sliding down a never-ending cascade of fairly meaningless content until something (perhaps your boss knocking at your office door looking for that missing report, or your spouse impatiently wondering aloud why the dishes aren’t done like you said they’d be) jolts you back to reality.

In spite of this becoming a habit, it’s a safe bet that few people who engage in it actually enjoy it much. It often makes us much less productive and, as we’ll explore in the “Wellness Around the Web” section of this week’s Wellness Wednesday, a lot of the notifications on our phone and things we see on social media leave us feeling less than our best. The solution? Consider taking social media apps off your smartphone, or at the very least, turning off notifications for those particular apps in the settings menu. Being more deliberate about when you use social media — and more mindful of what you’re actually doing when you log on — can make a huge difference for your mood and your productivity.

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HEALTH IN THE VALLEY

Wellness Wednesdays - 10/11/17Happy Trails! A Slice of Hiking Heaven Awaits Amid Spectacular Valley Wilds

There’s an incline along the little-known Osgood Trail where, just as the lactic acid begins to kick in, you reconsider the car you abandoned some 10 minutes earlier. As you lumber past the watchful eyes of secluded owls and white-tailed deer, the footpath meanders through a family of oak trees, where a splash of sunlight mercifully finds your face.

If you can endure the burn in your legs for a few more strides, the forthcoming pines give way to a clearing that makes the preceding struggle well worth it — a summit spectacle that, for a moment, delays your next breath. (read more)

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WELLNESS AROUND THE WEB

One Third of Smartphone Notifications Have a Negative Effect on Our Moods

If the information in our Wellness Tip of the Week didn’t compel you to be a bit more selective about your smartphone notifications, perhaps this will: The Telegraph (UK) reports that a whopping third of those little pop-ups on our phone cause your mood to sink a bit, according to a study conducted by Nottingham Trent University. Out of over 500,000 notifications received by the 50 study participants, 32 percent caused them to feel “hostile, upset, nervous, afraid or ashamed.” Less surprising is which notifications caused the negative changes in emotion: notifications related to “non-human activity,” such as phone updates, caused the most downturns in feeling, with work-related notifications pulling in at a close second.

Reprogramming Your Brain with the “Four C’s”

Continuing this week’s theme of being down in the digital dumps — and more importantly, what one can do to remedy it — we thoroughly enjoyed Lifehacker‘s interview with Dr. Robert Lustig. Lustig, the author of “The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains,” says that the technology we’re surrounded by has been expertly designed to trigger a specific response in us — the same sort of response one might expect to see in an addict. Why else would we continue the “endless scroll” of social media even if, as research has shown, it’s having a net negative effect on us? Lustig suggests using the “four C’s” to counteract the “mind hacking” effects of modern media:

Connect: No, not on social media or over text, but this phenomenon we call “in person”: “According to Lustig, face-to-face connection with friends or loved ones drives neurons that increase empathy, which in turns boosts your serotonin.”
Contribute: Even if it’s just in a small way. “As Lustig puts it, this one is about ‘Contribution to the betterment of your family, your friends, the world at large […] doing something that makes the world a better place.'”
Cope: This one’s a three-parter: “getting adequate sleep (and ideally, keeping screens out of your room), increasing your mindfulness and cutting down on multi-tasking, which none of us are good at anyway; and exercise.”
Cook: Reach for a spatula or a stirring spoon instead of that takeout menu. “Making your own meals means that you know what’s going into them, and can avoid hidden add-ins (namely fructose) that not only make you gain weight, but also deplete your happiness.”

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LOCAL HEALTH HAPPENINGS

October 14

Windsoul Studio will hold a Mind-Body-Spirit Fair from 2 to 6 p.m. Sessions include “Introduction to Broga,” “Reiki: What Is It and How Does It Work?” and “How Meditation Can Help You Manage Stress.” Tyngsborough, Mass. | WindsoulStudio.com

October 16

Receive your annual flu shot, learn how to deal with anxiety and find out the role of a clinical research coordinator at Northern Essex Community College’s Health and Wellness Fair from 9 a.m. until noon in the Dr. Ibrahim El-Hefni Allied Health and Technology Center on the Lawrence campus. The fair is free and open to the public. Lawrence, Mass. | NECC.Mass.edu

October 22

Body & Brain at Riverwalk will hold a Gut Health Workshop where attendees can learn about the connection between their guts and overall health and happiness, which will help them experience pain relief, improved circulation and digestion, deep relaxation and more. Lawrence, Mass. | Facebook event page

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