We’re all guilty of procrastinating from time to time – whether it’s due to can’t-be-botheredness or any number of silly distractions that win the battle for our attention when they REALLY could wait.
Other times, the reason for our procrastination can be an underlying problem such as fear of failure – or even fear of success. Procrastination can fill our bodies with anxiety hormones and lead to heightened stress and poor sleep long-term. So, is it better to be a doer?
New research has introduced the idea of pre-crastination. Pre-crastinators are amazing types that hate to delay deadlines and instead hurry to get them done and dusted as soon as possible. They like to chalk tricky tasks off their to-do list to offload the task from their minds. Even if it takes a lot more effort to do so.
“Most of us feel stressed about all the things we need to do, we have to-do lists, not just on slips of paper we carry with us or on our phones, but also in our heads,” said David Rosenbaum, a psychological scientist at Pennsylvania State University, who carried out the research. “Our findings suggest that the desire to relieve the stress of maintaining that information in the working memory can cause us to over-exert ourselves physically or take extra risks.”
Whether you’re a putting it off or a must do now kind of person, you can still be prone to stress-related symptoms.
Me? I’m going to start work on developing my pre-crastinator instincts pronto…
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Tis the season to eat plenty, drink until we’re merry and ease off on our usual healthy habits. Sleep – pah! Yet, this breakdown in our usual routines – less sleep, more party foods, stacks of booze, plus the pressure to be the perfect host and gift giver – can create a very real risk of the festive season making us ill, according to new research.
“At Christmas, when we’re trying to do everything, or get everything finished at work before the break, there can be a dip in desirable events and a rise in negative mood, caused by the varying pressures we all find ourselves under, such as financial worries, time constraints and a lack of support from friends or family,” says Dr Anna Phillips, a reader in behavioural medicine at the University of Birmingham.
When these kind of worries build up, Dr Phillips warns they can quite literally make us ill, as the stress affects the balance of the body’s hormones. This is due to a link between stress and a deficiency in secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA), a type of antibody that protects against infections at the mucous membranes of the mouth, airwaves and digestive tract. If we become deficient in this vital antibody, we are at greater risk of infection and generally feeling ugh.
So, what can we do to lower our risk of getting ill over Christmas?
“People need to look after themselves,” says Dr Phillips. “Ensure you have plenty of good quality support from friends and family, and ensure you continue to maintain some healthy behaviours – get some exercise and plenty of sleep. Listen to your body’s slow down signals and obey them. Most of all, make a holiday exactly that; a relaxing break.”
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For me, it’s where on earth have I left my house keys. I’m always invariably on the last minute to catch a bus, train or get to an appointment and have just realised my keys aren’t where I thought they would be. Cue mild panic: I usually find them a few minutes later in quite a sensible place. My trouble is I’ve absent-mindedly put them down while doing something else at the same time. Multi-tasking has a lot to answer for…
So, the reason for my forgetfulness introduction? New research by the Post-it brand (those providers of bright, sticky notes that are memory-jogging wonders) has revealed the average person forgets four facts, items or events every day. The study of 2,000 people found our constant busyness leads to some scatter-brained moments. It even suggests we can forget as many as 1,460 things over a year – yikes!
The brand has compiled a ‘forgotten fifty’ list of the top 50 things that slip our minds. The top five all have that air of familiarity about them, though my worst offenders are numbers one, two, five and 28.
1. Forget what you went into a room for
2. Misplacing keys
3. Forgetting items while food shopping
4. Forgetting people’s names when introducing them
5. Forgetting where you left your pen
28. Forgetting train or bus times
Our hectic lives can leave us forgetting things here and there, and this is all perfectly normal. When you add this to the fact we naturally become a little more forgetful as we become older – it’s easy to see how and why things can slip our minds.
However, if you are at all worried about your memory loss, don’t keep it to yourself: talk to someone.
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We all have days where our memory retention skills could do with a boost, whatever our age. US researchers feel the answer may lie (quite literally) in our own hands.
Scientists at the Montclair State University have found clenching the right hand for 90 seconds helps with memory formation, while the same movement in the left hand improves memory recall. In the experiment, 50 students were given a list of words to remember and found they performed better when using fist clenches. The researchers feel the fist clenching movements activate specific brain regions that are associated with memory processing. Further research will continue.
If you’re rubbish at remembering names or always forget at least one thing you want to pick up from the supermarket (like me), it’s certainly worth a try…
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While most of us are craving more sunshine and blue skies, summertime can be one of despair for the estimated 600,000 people affected by summer or reverse SAD in the UK.
Seasonal affective disorder is more commonly known as a wintertime condition, where the shortened days and decreased sun exposure cause symptoms of depression. Summer SAD is simply the reverse of this.
Symptoms include: increased sense of heat at night, agitation, restlessness, insomnia, reduced appetite and a general feeling of being miserable, often for no reason. You may also experience a sense of not enjoying what are usually pleasurable activities.
I’ve recently written a piece on summer SAD for the current issue of the Depression Alliance’s membership magazine Single Step. As part of the piece, I spoke to Ricky and Julia, two people who fantastically illustrated just how difficult life in the summer months can be for those affected.
Some tips that can help to minimise the effects of summer SAD include: using black-out curtains, opening windows at night, avoiding bright light, having frequent cooling showers, taking an ice-cold water bottle or cooling blanket to bed and exercising regularly.
For more information on the causes, expert insight, further tips and Ricky and Julia’s stories – take a look at my piece.
If you would like to commission me to write a piece for you, do get in touch!
Whether it is repeats of Friends or maybe one of the current crop of TV funnies such as Twenty Twelve, Facejacker, Benidorm or Celebrity Juice that tickles you and has you crying with laughter; those 30 minutes on the sofa can be a real health booster.
New research has revealed watching 30 minutes of telly that makes you laugh is very good for you. Having a good giggle not only helps to relieve stress but researchers also believe it is an excellent calorie burner.
While you sit back and have a hearty chuckle, experts say you can burn as many calories as you would in a short gym session. Though do bear in mind, coupling your comedy TV time with a snack attack, will significantly negate the positive health benefits!
Have a jolly Easter!
The UK rioting, violence and looting witnessed earlier this week caused a wave of fear, anger and bewilderment across the nation.
Humanitarian organisation, the Art of Living Foundation will offer free workshops across London to help eliminate and manage the mental and physical stress associated with the events of the past few days.
Founder of the Art of Living Foundation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has previously been instrumental in providing trauma relief workshops to victims of manmade disasters including 9/11, the 7/7 London bombings plus natural disasters including the Japanese earthquake, Haiti and Hurricane Katrina.
The workshops have also been effective in reducing trauma levels and stress in war-torn areas such as Kosovo and Iraq.
For more information, contact the press team.