WELLNESS TIP OF THE WEEK
November Is Lung Cancer Awareness Month
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States and is the cause of more deaths than colon, prostate and breast cancer combined.
Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. In the United States, cigarette smoking is linked to about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths. The most important thing you can do to prevent lung cancer is to not start smoking or to quit if you smoke.
Other risk factors include: Secondhand smoke, radon gas in the home, exposure to certain chemicals, as well as family history and diet.
Early detection is key to successful treatment and outcomes. For more information visit Cancer.org.
WELLNESS AROUND THE WEB
Time Passes Faster For Meditators, Leaves Them Unable To Accurately Judge Time
In mindfulness meditation, you try to focus all your attention on the present moment. Doing so can help you reduce anxiety and depression, and you can change the ways in which different parts of your brain communicate with each other, according to neuroscience research. Now, a new paper suggests that mindfulness meditation can also change the way you perceive time.
Reported by BigThink.com, the paper, published in the journal PLoS One, describes a set of experiments that included participants who were trained in mindfulness meditation over seven days. In the test, one group of participants meditated for 30 minutes and another group did a control exercise in which they listened to an audio recording of someone reading poetry. After completing their assigned tasks, both groups were asked to estimate the duration of short and long time intervals (15 to 50 seconds or two to six minutes).
All the participants in the meditation group said that time seemed to pass more quickly. That finding echoed past studies, which showed that people report time passing quickly when they’re multitasking; perhaps that’s why it can seem the workday flies by when we’re busy.
The researchers suggested that mindfulness meditation, which often requires concentrated effort, takes up too much of their attentional resources, leaving meditators unable to accurately judge time. Indeed, compared to the control group, the meditators were more likely to underestimate the short durations and, curiously, overestimate the long ones.
“This reversal in the direction of the time judgment for the different temporal scales suggests that different processes might underlie the judgment of short and long durations in the same meditation condition,” the researchers wrote.
From Lawn Mowers To Rock Concerts, Our ‘Deafening World’ Is Hurting Our Ears
Our ears are complicated, delicate instruments that largely evolved in far quieter times than the age we currently inhabit — an early world without rock concerts, loud restaurants, power tools and earbuds.
Writer David Owen describes our current age as a “deafening” one, and in his new book, Volume Control, he explains how the loud noises we live with are harming our ears.
According to NPR.org, Owen warns that even small household appliances like food processors and hair dryers can generate noise at levels that lead to permanent damage. He notes that people who live in places without significant background noises tend to experience less hearing loss.
“There have been a couple of studies done with populations of indigenous people who live in places where there is very little background noise and elderly people in those populations tend to hear as well as infants do,” he says.
Owen recommends that people carry earplugs with them — and not be bashful about using them. Recently he popped in a pair of musician’s earplugs before watching “Dunkirk,” a movie long on explosions and short on dialogue.
“[Earplugs] made a big difference to me at that movie,” he says. “I think there are a lot of places to wear hearing protection.”
People who have trouble hearing tend to have more unrelated health issues of all kinds. It, sort of, overworks our brains. If you can’t quite hear what people are saying, you have to work harder to figure it out, and the brainpower that you use to do that is brainpower that you can’t use for anything else. People who have trouble hearing also tend to withdraw.
So it has effects that we don’t necessarily associate with it and that pervade all parts of our lives. And then, because of human nature, we tend to ignore it. The average wait for a person who first notices a hearing problem — the average delay between that moment and going to the doctor — is 10 years. That’s the average. We don’t treat it the way we treat other sensory problems. If you have trouble seeing things, you get glasses. But people tend to put off getting hearing aids for a long time.
Dopamine Fasts: Why Silicon Valley Tech Workers Are Avoiding Food, TV, Sex, Music, Exercise And Eye Contact
A new craze is gaining traction among tech workers and it entails doing absolutely nothing.
As humans become increasingly subjected to endless choices, whether they be for food, romantic partners or content, some people believe we run the risk of becoming overstimulated, which, in turn, could make it difficult to regulate emotions.
According to Dr. Cameron Sepah, a psychologist and professor at the University of California who published an article on the topic on LinkedIn, this overstimulation eventually makes us less sensitive to dopamine — a neurotransmitter in our brains that plays a role in how we feel pleasure and motivation.
“We may be getting too much of a good thing,” he explained.
To counteract this state of being, Sepah suggests dopamine fasting 2.0 — a concept that sees people limit behaviours that “trigger strong amounts of dopamine release” to allow “our brain to recover and restore itself.”
Acknowledging that the initial idea of dopamine fasting can be traced back to both silent Vipassana meditation retreats, and a more-recent version of the same tactic popularized in 2016, Sepah says the new-and-improved version of the technique, which focuses on abstaining from just one particular behavior, whether it’s a bad habit or addictive, can be useful in resetting the brain.
However, because excess is a theme in today’s world, people have begun implementing dopamine fasts to the extreme by cutting themselves off from anything that may produce the chemical for up to 24 hours at a time.
For three millennial founders of a sleep analysis start-up called SleepWell, who are based in Silicon Valley, California, a dopamine fast means a fast of “everything” because they believe they’ve become “addicted” to the chemical.
“And because we’re getting so much of it all the time, we end up just wanting more and more, so activities that used to be pleasurable now aren’t,” co-founder James Sinka told The New York Times.
To break the addiction, the men refrain from eating, using technology, listening to music, exercising, having sex or touching another’s body for any other reason, working, making eye contact and talking.
Instead, they engage in mundane tasks such as light stretching, or flipping through a textbook of photos of chemical compounds to find patterns.
After the fast, everyday tasks are “more exciting and fun” and “work is pleasurable again,” according to Sinka.
However, experts don’t necessarily agree that humans require fasting to break addiction to dopamine that is released through normal activities. According to Jaime Castrellon, who has published research on dopamine’s impact on value computation and self-control in the Journal of Neuroscience, addiction is not the same as enjoying pleasurable activities.
“Engaging in everyday activities is typically normal and should not be compared to substance or behavioral addictions,” Castrellon told Vice. “Generally, higher levels of dopamine has been linked to positive feelings like excitement and ‘wanting’ to engage in something pleasurable.
“These feelings support learning positive outcomes from past decisions and keep us motivated for future ones.”
HEALTH AROUND THE VALLEY
Cooking Through Grief: A No-Cost Event for Grieving Teens
Care Dimensions, the largest provider of hospice, palliative care and grief support services in Massachusetts, will be hosting a group cooking class to help grieving teens (13-18) cope with loss. Attendees will work together to cook up tasty treats for themselves and family, all while meeting new friends in the process.
This event will take place on Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. in North Andover’s Taste Buds Kitchen. To register, or to learn more about the event, visit Patch.com.