Wellness Wednesday – 10/2/19

WELLNESS TIP OF THE WEEK

Cold And Flu Season Is Here

by Chief Physician Executive Dr. Garrett Bomba, Pentucket Medical

Fall is here, and along with all the Halloween decorations and pumpkin flavored coffees, comes the cold and flu season. We all have to go through a cold from time to time, but how do we know when it is more than just a cold? The common cold usually presents with a mild fever (if any) as well as scratchy throat, nasal congestion and dry cough. These symptoms are mild, develop slowly over a couple of days and resolve within a week or so. The flu’s symptoms come on much more abruptly and are much more severe. If you find yourself experiencing a rapid onset of fevers, chills, body aches and fatigue, along with more than mild cold symptoms, you may have the flu.

Both illnesses are caused by viruses and are not treated with antibiotics, but decongestants and ibuprofen/acetaminophen can provide symptomatic relief until your body clears the infection. Some people, such as the very young, the elderly, pregnant woman and those with certain chronic medical conditions, may benefit from an antiviral medication such as Tamiflu that helps fight the virus that causes the flu.

If you do get sick this year, be sure to take care of yourself and seek medical attention if you develop chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, confusion, severe vomiting, or persistent or worsening symptoms.

Keep those hands washed, get your flu shot and hopefully you will have a healthy winter!

WELLNESS AROUND THE WEB

Why Some People Become Lifelong Readers

TheAtlantic.com said that, in 2017, about 53% of American adults (roughly 125 million people) read at least one book not for school or for work in the previous 12 months, according to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Five years earlier, the NEA ran a more detailed survey and found that 23% of American adults were “light” readers (finishing one to five titles per year), 10% were “moderate” (six to 11 titles), 13% were “frequent” (12 to 49 titles), and a dedicated 5% were “avid” (50 books and up).

Some people are much more likely than others to become members of the “reading class.” The more education someone has, the more likely they are to be a reader. Urban people read more than rural people, affluence is associated with reading and young girls read earlier than boys do, and they continue to read more in adulthood.

Of course, possessing any of these characteristics doesn’t guarantee that someone will or won’t become a reader, and there are additional factors involved in a child’s initial exposure to reading that can determine whether or not they will continue.

In order to become bookworms, children must first be fluent decoders, that is, to go from print on the page to words in the mind. This is something that schools teach, but parents can help with it by reading to and with their kids—especially when that reading involves wordplay, which particularly helps kids with the challenge of identifying the individual speech sounds that make up a word.

Also, these fluent decoders benefit from having wide-ranging background knowledge about the world. Parents can try to arm their kids with information about the world that will help them interpret whatever they come across in print, or make sure their kids have some familiarity with whatever it is they’re reading about.

Thirdly, how a child is introduced to the idea of reading will construct life-long connotations regarding how they perceive the pastime. So many parents are stressed out by all the research out there that says that reading is tied to things like academic success, testing success, executive function and emotional well-being. That mentality can lead them to frame reading to their children as an obligation. How do you counter this? Parents are constantly sending their children messages with how they choose to spend their free time. If you pick up a book after dinner, instead of scrolling through your social media, your children may be inclined to do the same.

Parents don’t have to have grown up avid readers themselves to raise avid readers, and there are many things that parents can do to make reading seem exciting and worthwhile: talk about books during meals or car rides, indicating that they’re just as compelling a subject of conversation as the day’s events; make regular stops at libraries and bookstores, and stay a while; and give books as birthday gifts.

The Ideal Conditions for Sound Art and Office Productivity Aren’t So Far Apart

In case you haven’t been tracking the progress of group exhibitions of sound art, a short history would be: they are generally a disaster, with many works either impossible to hear adequately in the situation or impossible not to hear while you are trying to listen to something else.

As stated by NewYorker.com, little has changed in regard to the exhibition of sound. But then, little has changed in the fundamental architecture of the institutional spaces for art. The modernist “white cube”—a term coined by the artist Brian O’Doherty in an article for Artforum, in 1976—remains the predominant archetype for galleries and museums. “Some of the sanctity of the church, the formality of the courtroom, the mystique of the experimental laboratory joins with chic design to produce a unique chamber of esthetics” is how O’Doherty characterized the phenomenon, and not with admiration.

O’Doherty could have been describing a modernist office as well as a gallery. The isolation of the white cube—from the outside world, from other people, even (as O’Doherty went on to argue) from our own bodies—is the same isolation found in most twentieth-century office design. The white cube is also the white cubicle.

The first modernist skyscraper in the U.S., the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society Building, completed in 1932, was also the first to successfully control sound inside its spaces. Using the latest technologies of acoustical ceiling tile, sealed exterior windows with internal H.V.A.C., and office partitions built from Insulite so that neither typewriter clatter nor telephone jingling could penetrate; the P.S.F.S. building created a newly “silent” workspace. “Quiet reigns!” shouts a contemporary advertisement for the building. “Efficiency is enhanced. Concentration is possible. The silence you have wished for is available.”

If you contrast modern coworking spaces with older office models, some of the most striking differences relate to sound. Gone are the sound-absorbing dropped ceilings and acoustical tile, cubicle dividers, wall-to-wall carpets and upholstered chairs. In their place are reflective high ceilings with exposed H.V.A.C., hardwood surfaces, mesh chairs, and lots and lots of glass. The goal is a buzz, similar to the free-flowing coffee and beer that many provide to their clients. A common citation in the literature that promotes co-working is a 2012 study from the Journal of Consumer Research that concludes the right amount of ambient noise—70 decibels, roughly the level of a household appliance like a vacuum cleaner, or about the volume you might typically use for a radio or TV—“enhances performance on creative tasks.” Apparently, too much (85 decibels) or too little (50 decibels) both suppress that behavior.

Sound is also a crucial way that coworking companies articulate the different uses of the space that they manage. A Boston-based chain, WorkBar, explicitly maps out areas for users according to four different sound “neighborhoods.” The “café” has (piped-in) music, and allows the use of phones. “Commons” has no music, and no phones, but encourages chatting. The “study” has no music, no phones, and no chatting—plus a white-noise machine. And the “switchboard” has “phones, phones, phones”—this is where sales and telemarketing people do their thing, with the sound of others doing the same lending their energy (think “Sorry to Bother You”). Meanwhile, sound-isolation booths—for private calls—dot all co-working spaces, just as they do recording studios, where they are similarly used to isolate vocals.

WeWork, the dominant player in coworking—they manage forty-five million square feet of it and are growing exponentially—doesn’t maintain such an elaborate articulation as WorkBar of their “hot desk” spaces, but they do micromanage sound to the point that identical music is playing in every single one of their U.S. locations. Until recently, you could even tune in, should you want, through the “Work Radio” station on the iHeartRadio app and web site. “Music has always been a huge part of the WeWork experience,” said the press release announcing that partnership. “The music we play in our locations helps to set the rhythm and energy of the space and fuels the productivity of our global community all over the world.”

LOCAL HEALTH HIGHLIGHTS & UPCOMING EVENTS

October 5

NECC Campus Classic 5k

Participants can run or walk the USATF-certified 5K course through NECC’s picturesque Haverhill Campus and surrounding neighborhoods, cheer on their friends as they race to the finish line or enjoy any number of activities and programs that will be available on campus throughout the morning.

Haverhill, Mass. | NECC.Mass.edu

October 6

Annual Walk Against Domestic Violence

Hear live music, enjoy a scenic 3-mile walk and nosh on refreshments. Proceeds from this important event benefit life changing and saving programs and services to our community such as: 24-hour emergency hotline, family-centered crisis counseling for adults and children, art therapy, court advocacy, on staff legal representation and emergency and transitional housing.

Newburyport, Mass. |  Eventbrite.com

November 3

2nd Annual AllForAng 5k

The 5k course heads out of Bradford Country Club. The AllforAng 5k is now certified by USA Track & Field. Your performance will be accepted as a record or be nationally ranked.

Haverhill, Mass. | AllForAng.com

 

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