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Do Facebook and Twitter Make You Feel Like You’re Missing Out On Life?

04/29/2013

Missing-out-with-social-media-mainI’ve noticed that if I’m bored or down on my own life, I tend to spend more time on social media. In reality, that's also when I’m the most vulnerable to feeling down in the dumps and I don’t need to feel worse by comparison.

Comparing yourself to those around you is a negative thought pattern that will never make you happy and social media provides easy access when you’re at your weakest. 

Fear of Missing Out

Researchers are studying the more negative side of social media through a phenomenon called the fear of missing out (FoMO). The rise of social media has given us a window like never before into the lives of those around us. It’s also caused the rise of FoMO, the fearing that others are having more fun and rewarding experiences than you are, according to Science Daily

Researchers at the University of Essex devised the first study of its kind to pinpoint FoMO. Published in the journal Computer in Human Behaviors, the study found that as social media has become more accessible as a result of smartphones, FoMO has become more prevalent. The next step is the look at the impact of FoMO on overall mental health. 

"I find Facebook rewarding to use, but how we are using social media is changing," explained lead researcher and psychologist Dr. Andy Przybylski to Science Daily. "It is no longer something we have to sit at a computer and log into as we have access all the time on our phones. It is easier to get into the rhythm of other people's lives than ever before as we get alerts and texts.

"We have to learn new skills to control our usage and enjoy social media in moderation. Until we do, it creates a double-edged sword aspect to social media."

The Most Vulnerable

Those under 30 are the most susceptible. Participants that didn’t have their psychological needs met by other means were likely to go on social media more often than others. According to Science Daily, you can take a version of the test yourself and see how you compare to the people taking part in the study here.

In this age of social media, parents need to be aware of the downsides of social media including depression and cyber bullying. Parents of kids 13 and younger should have parental controls in place on internet use. But as kids get older parents should have an open dialogue going with their kids regarding social media. 

Photo: Istock

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Read More: In the Age of Facebook, Is Finding Actual Friends Harder?

Shared Household May Equal A Better Relationship

03/24/2013

Women talking photoYoung couples often struggle during their first years as new parents. Times are busy and stressful with parenting, work, and household responsibilities. But new research shows that working together is always the best policy. Keeping score of chores and time with kids can put even more pressure on your marriage, according to Science Daily

Marriages where parents did chores together and spent ample time with the kids were the most successful. 

"We found that it didn't matter who did what, but how satisfied people were with the division of labor," said Brigham Young University professor Erin Holmes on Science Daily. "We found that when wives are doing work together with their husbands, they are more satisfied with the division of labor."

Researchers at the University of Missouri and Utah State University looked at 160 couples between the ages of 25 and 30, all with kids under 5. Published in the Journal of Family Issues, the study looked at how each couple handled housework and childrearing responsibilities. 

"For women, dad having a good relationship with the kids means that dad and mom are probably going to have a better relationship," Holmes said.

Women find men who value time with the kids more attractive. Just to see that your spouse understands how busy you are and that they are trying to make the burden of chores less arduous is also appealing. 

According to the study, “both husbands and wives report higher marital quality when they are more satisfied with the division of labor. When wives report their husbands have greater responsibility for family tasks, both spouses report higher satisfaction with the division of labor.”

Love your spouse? Then work together to build a happy, healthy household. 

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Read More: A Headache’s Best Cure...Sex

6 Intense Celebrity Workouts

03/07/2012

Jenn-anniston-mainLet’s be honest, some celebrity workouts can be insane. They’re just aren’t enough hours in the day to workout for two and three hours--this combined with ridiculous starvation diets. Unless you’re getting paid several million per flick, the motivation to maintain such a painful routine is minimal. 

That’s not to say that all workouts are so absurd. Some stars seem to take a more relaxed approach to fitness. I chose some of the most admirable bodies in Hollywood and took a closer look at their daily workouts. 

1. Jennifer Aniston

At 43, she looks like she’s ten years younger and has a body that women half her age would love. But she works hard for that killer physique. Aniston works out nearly everyday for long periods of time. She does 40 minutes of cardio, either spinning, running, elliptical, or a combination of all three. In addition to cardio, she does Pilates once a week and yoga three days per week.

2. Madonna

Madonna-inline

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

She's 50 and is at her best. She works out with celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, who is also Gwyneth Paltrow’s trainer. Madonna works out 6 days per week. She changes what she does every session so that her muscles won’t memorize the routine. She does 60 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of toning. She also works out on the Pilates Reformer and does Ashtanga yoga. 

3. Demi Moore

Demin-moore-inline

Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic/Getty Images

At 47, Demi Moore has slowed down her routine from her twenty’s when she nearly killed herself with her rigorous workouts. Today she does Bikram yoga, Pilates, and swimming. She also has a treadmill routine which she does to keep her backside in shape

4. Julia Roberts 

Julia-roberts-inline

Photo: Jason LaVeris/Contributor/Getty Images

Julia Roberts is definitely one of those people that you just assume it comes naturally. She’s always looked the same--downright gorgeous. But Roberts does workout moderately with trainer Kathy Kaehler. She does 20-40 minutes aerobics along with 40 minutes of body work including lunges, crunches, planks, and push-ups, four times per week. She also favors aquatic workouts in her pool.

5. Ryan Reynolds

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Photo: Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images 

In preparation for his role in Blade, Ryan Reynolds had an insane workout routine with trainer Bobby Strom. He worked out 6 days per week, one muscle group per day. Leading up to the movie, he worked out between 2 and 3 hours in an effort to gain muscle weight. He would start the workout with abs because it’s his least favorite and the hardest for him.

6. Anne Hathaway

Anne-hathaway-inline

Photo: Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images 

Anne Hathaway says that she didn’t used to like working out, but recently she’s grown to like it. She worked out 5 days a week in preparation for her role as Catwomen doing Bikram yoga along with high intensity stunt training and 90 minutes of dance class. 

Photo at top: Kevin Winter/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

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More on Celebrity Health 
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What Do the Happiest Nations on Earth Have in Common?

02/18/2012

Norway main photoOver the years a number of polling services have taken pains to figure out which countries rank as the happiest countries in the world. And it’s a worthwhile endeavor because it allows us to find out what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. But while you’d think that a country of white sand beaches and coconut cocktails would bring the most sustainable bliss, it seems that surprisingly, weather doesn’t have a whole lot to do with country-wide happiness.

Both the Legatum Prosperity Index and the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development have done a slew of polling to find out which countries rank high on the happiness meter and why. Time and time again the Northern European countries of Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands have ranked high on the list. In fact, Norway has hit Legatum’s top mark three years in a row, according to Forbes.

Canada, New Zealand, and Australia also do very well and the U.S. came in around the 10 mark and even lower on OECD's Index. So what do these happy blissful places have in common?

Personal Freedoms

All of the world’s happiest countries have a slew of personal freedoms. The governments are strong and the citizens feel that they have a roll in them. The more that citizens feel their views matter, the happier they were. And as an extension of political rights, the countries at the top of the list feel they have personal freedoms as well. Freedom to express opinions for one but also as in the case of Norway, decriminalization of drugs and prostitution. 

There are also fewer restrictions on labor. For example, in Denmark, which ranked number two, workers don’t have a whole lot of job protections, but they do have generous unemployment benefits. This gives citizens the ability to look for a job that they’ll be happy doing rather than worrying and taking the first job that comes up.

Read Also: 5 Ways to Find Happiness By Changing Your Outlook in 2012

Personal freedoms also extend to freedom to start any business you so choose. Every happy country listed also has a lower barrier to entry for small businesses, meaning the cost to start them is lower and the incentives to take such chances are higher. 

Denmark inline photo

Health and Happiness

The happiest countries were also the healthiest. The U.S. ranked highest in health services, spending high rates on healthcare which amounted to great vaccination rates, plentiful food, and clean water. But the U.S. did particularly poor when it came to diet. "People in the United States spend only 30 minutes per day on average cooking, the lowest in the OECD, as well as spending low amounts of time eating (1 hour 14 minutes per day, the third lowest in the OECD). But one third of Americans are obese, the highest rate in the OECD."

The countries that were the most unhappy, mostly located in Subsaharan Africa, also had the youngest average ages of death and extremely high infant mortality rates. Many of the worst off countries like Myanmar, Cuba, and North Korea don’t let pollsters in and they couldn’t get enough data in countries like Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Haiti, according to Forbes.

High GDP

While money is by no means the greatest influencer of happiness, it does do a lot of good when it comes to providing healthcare, education, opportunity, and lower start up costs. Norway has a per capita GDP of $54,000 and it's among the richest in the world. But it’s not just that the country is rich, it’s that the per capita wealth is high. As a result of its wealth and its trust in government, it’s also among the most safe and secure countries in the world. 

Denmark has similar social equality but it’s also known for its low start-up business costs. Additionally, working hours are moderate, and in the case of high ranking Sweden, there are a lot of environmental protections in place. The highest rankers also had low unemployment, usually lower than 4 percent, which is an indicator of a stable economy, according to OECD Social Indicators

Trust 

OECD found that happy countries also had a lot of social structures including ties to family, friends, and community. And trust was among the most important features of happy cultures. In Norway, 74 percent of people said that they can trust people. This trust extends to government as well. 

Are you happy and do these social indicators hold true in your life? Let us know in the comments below. 

Australia inline photo

Photos: Thinkstock

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More on Happiness
Second Guessers Question Their Way to Depression
Science Proves That Givers Live Happier Lives Than Takers
6 Tips For Finding Success Without Killing Yourself at Work in 2012

 

Is Cracking Your Joints Bad For Your Health?

02/14/2012

Cracking joints photoI’ll be the first to admit that this is a habit I’ve been fighting since I was a teenager. I have countless memories of riding in the car with my mom only to be chastised for cracking my knuckles. 

It’s not as gross as some habits but it’s not appealing either. But more than the outward yuck factor of popping knuckles, is the fear of damage to the joints. So on to answering the age old question: Is Cracking Your Joints Bad For Your Health?

First off, what is really happening when that POP POP POP occurs? Cracking your knuckles is actually the release of negative pressure on the joints. It happens when synovial fluid which protects the joints is pulled apart, according to  Dr. Jonathan Kay, clinical director of the rheumatology unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. When the thick gel is pulled apart through pressure, the seal of the synovial fluid is broken and that’s what makes that popping sound. It takes about 20 minutes for the seal to be reestablished and that’s why your knuckles will only pop every so often.

While cracking your knuckles has not been shown to cause arthritis, it can do damage to the knuckles by stretching out the ligaments, according to one study that followed 300 knuckle crackers in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.

And then there’s the question as to why we tend to feel a release after cracking our knuckles or going to the chiropractor. This results because the Golgi Tendon Organs, a set of nerve endings, are stimulated when the knuckles are cracked. This relaxes the muscles surrounding the joint. 

Cracking joints inline photo

Photo: Thinkstock

However, some chiropractors have warned against cracking your neck. Usually constant cracking in the neck means that you’re hyper-mobile in your joints or there’s too much room and your joints could go out of alignment. Because of that hyper-mobility, the muscles around the joints in the neck can tighten to hold it in place. This can cause tightness in the neck.

So while cracking your joints won't cause arthritis it's not a habit I'd start if I wasn't fighting it already.

Photo: Thomas northcut/Thinkstock

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More on Cracking Joints
What makes your knuckles pop?
5 Old Wives' Tales about Your Health
 

New Research Uncovers How to Make Online Dating Work For You

02/13/2012

Online dating photoWe’ve long sought the help of others in finding a mate. Maybe your aunt knew a friend of a friend or your best friend’s husband had a single friend at work. It’s all in an effort to expand your dating pool in order to meet a fitting mate.

The advent of online dating is just one more way of expanding that pool. And it's in fact become more and more acceptable, especially in larger cities and amongst those that have a smaller dating pool either because they have kids or are in minority sexual orientation groups.

Online dating cannot be underestimated because recent research found that for couples that met between 2007 and 2009, 23 percent of them met online, according to Reuben J. Thomas, an assistant professor of sociology at the City University of New York.

A recent review in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest set out to answer this question and found that though it's more and more wide spread in our busy culture, it does have its shortcomings.The review found that while online dating does expand the dating pool and help people meet each other, it may not be as successful at finding lasting couples because chemistry isn’t easy to judge online and there’s no substitution for face-to-face communication.

Rutgers communications assistant professor Jennifer Gibbs has studied online dating patterns and found that people feel pressure to amp up their profiles in order to stick out of the crowd even though they’d rather be honest and find a better match.

Study author Eli Finkel, a psychology professor at Northwestern University describes the evolution of online dating, which started in 1995 with Match.com. The problems with Match.com are that you can’t tell enough from a profile and there’s too much choice. In 2000 eHarmony made its way into the online dating world. It’s more effective at filtering potential mates through an algorithm but it’s unclear as to whether that algorithm works. 

Online dating inline photo

Photo: Thinkstock

The most successful choice in the online dating world, according to Finkel is mobile dating:

 With the advent of smartphone apps, mobile dating was launched. Mobile dating's ability to get people face-to-face fast may make a big difference, according to the new Northwestern research.

"You have a little bit of basic information," Finkel said. "Is this person below threshold or above threshold for a five-minute meet-up—five minutes from now? There’s no better way to figure out whether you’re compatible with somebody than talking to them over a cup of coffee or a pint of beer."  

The important take away from this research is to use online dating as an avenue to get offline and meet new people face-to-face to see if any chemistry exists. 

Photo: Photodisc

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More on Online Dating
Dating Do's and Don'ts
Cyber Relationships: The Risks and Rewards of Online Dating 
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US News and World Report Ranks the Dash Diet Number 1

01/10/2012

Veggie salad photoUS News and World Reports just released its ranking for the best diets and it found the DASH Diet to be number 1. It’s the second year in a row that the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet (DASH) has been crowned number 1. US News found that the diet was not only easy to follow, but it worked and required little outside supplementation, according to a report on Live Science

Weight Watchers beat out Jenny Craig as the best commercial diet because it was easy to follow and dieters went back to it again and again. It also required less prepackaged foods when compared to Jenny Craig.

What is the DASH Diet?

The DASH Diet was originally created to reduce blood pressure but was found to also have good nutritional value. It advocates eating 7 to 8 servings of whole grains everyday as well as 4 to 6 servings of fruits and 4 to 6 servings of vegetables. Dieters should have 2 to 3 servings of low fat dairy and 2 or less servings of lean meats, poultry, and fish. Vegan protein sources such as nuts, seeds, and legumes should be eaten 4 to 6 times per day. Fats and sweets should be limited. 

The DASH Diet boasts a slew of benefits. Namely, it's really low in meat intake and instead pushes vegan protein sources. It’s loaded with fruits and vegetables so there’s little need for multi-vitamin supplementation. It also includes ample servings of whole grains, which are incredibly important for pushing toxins out of the system and keeping the body balanced. And of course, excessive sweets, which by nearly all accounts have no nutritional benefits, are shunned. 

Bean soup photo

Photo: Thinkstock

If I were to criticize any aspect of the diet it would be the need for meat at all. While fattier fish offer nutritional benefits in the form of omega 3 fatty acids, which the body cannot make on its own, meat is a different story entirely. Beyond B12 and iron, which can be found in other sources, meat causes health issues rather than being beneficial, especially with regards to heart health. 

Meat And Heart Health 

According to a study at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (a teaching hospital for Harvard), heart disease is directly related to meat consumption. The study involved 617,119 men and women who were 50 to 71 years old at the start of the study. 

Results of the Study:

"Compared to people in the lowest levels of red meat consumption (average 0.32 ounces per 1000 calories), men with the highest levels of red meat consumption (average 2.39 ounces per 1000 calories) experienced a 27 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease."

While meat levels are low, it's best to eliminate them completely. 

Go meatless photo

Photo: Eising/Thinkstock

No Fat No Good

The study is also very low fat which can be problematic if good fats are left out of your diet. Essential fatty acids regulate blood clotting, blood pressure, blood lipid levels, and the body's response to injury and infection. So what does that mean for you? Deficiencies in essential fatty acids may mean that the body has trouble healing from cuts and scraps. And a lack of these fatty acids burdens the body's cardiovascular system meaning deficiencies can increase the instance of heart attacks, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

The DASH Diet is certainly a step in the right direction, but a closer look means even more changes. In 2012, stop looking at food as calories, rather decide if what you’re about to eat will do the cells it is about to become any benefit. If not, dash away my friends.

Photo: Adrian Samson/Thinkstock

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More on Diets
What Did Cavemen Really Eat and Were They Actually Healthier? 
Florida Inmate Sues Citing His Heavy Soy Diet is Cruel and Unusual Punishment 
Study Shows Why Dieters Often Gain Weight Back and Then Some 


Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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