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Woman develops new accent overnight

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though Angie Yen has never been to Ireland or any immediate family from there, the Brisbane dentist claims to have woken up one day with an Irish accent.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The 27-year-old believes she has foreign accent syndrome, a isolating and uncommon speech disorder.</span></p> <p><strong>What is foreign accent syndrome?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The condition, typically triggered by a head injury, stroke, or brain damage, impairs a person’s ability to control the muscles used to produce speech.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The result of this is that people can appear to develop what sounds like a foreign accent overnight - despite never speaking with that accent before, nor mixing with people who do or spending time abroad.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, Angie hasn’t suffered a stroke, head injury, or brain damage, so experts say her case isn’t so simple.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Instead, the accent change came about following tonsil surgery.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I didn’t have any issues with talking or eating or anything like that, if anything the throat was ust very, very sore,” she told 7NEWS.com.au.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Everything was normal, I was just on painkillers, so I was living life normally. There was nothing out of the ordinary.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ten days after the surgery, while singing in the shower hours before a job interview, she noticed something strange.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I was singing notes that I didn’t think I could hit before, even though my throat was quite sore. I knew something wasn’t right.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When she spoke, her voice didn’t sound like hers either.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I was very shocked … I called up one of my friends who had travelled all over the world and asked where my accent is from. He said - you sound like you’re Irish,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While she hasn’t been formally diagnosed with the condition, her primary doctor says her symptoms sound like they match.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“He referred me to get some scans for an MRI and also some blood tests to rule out anything underlying that could be going on,” Angie said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The thing that has Angie, her doctors, and experts baffled is that the change didn’t occur until 10 days after surgery.</span></p> <p><strong>Spreading awareness</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though Angie has led a very private life, she has decided to document her journey spreading awareness about the condition on TikTok.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I felt that somewhere in the world someone might wake up with this one day and just feel as lost, alone, and isolated as I am,” she said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I hope by spreading awareness and letting people know that this is a serious health issue, that eventually we can encourage people to get the help they need and take it seriously.”</span></p> <p><strong>Mixed accents</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While most commenters said Angie sounds Irish, there has been a mixed response.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I’ve also gotten Canadian, American, Jamaican, British, New Zealand - all over the world,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“And most countries I’ve never been to. It’s very, very bizarre.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That’s not too uncommon for those with foreign accent syndrome, according to Lyndsey Nickels, a Professor of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“People with foreign accent syndrome don’t speak with all the features of a foreign accent, but there are enough things about the way they speak to make it seem as though they have a different accent,” Nickels told 7NEWS.com.au.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Different listeners may have different opinions about what the accent is because the features usually don’t clearly match a single accent.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Nickels confirmed the disorder is thought to be caused by brain damage which can make “moving or coordinating the muscles that we use to produce speech” more difficult.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“This causes inaccuracies in the speech, sounds with vowels being particularly vulnerable,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since the condition is so rare, many people - including some doctors - accuse sufferers of faking it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Speech pathologists can help those with the condition to improve speech muscle movement and coordination to regain accuracy in their speech.</span></p> <p><strong>Image credit: 7NEWS</strong></p>

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Are you a maladaptive daydreamer?

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most people daydream and can spend a lot of time doing it, with </span><a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/330/6006/932"><span style="font-weight: 400;">research suggesting</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that as adults, we spend over 50 percent of our time conjuring up fantasies in our heads.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some people can even experience daydreams that are so vivid they can feel like they are in the imaginary environment of their creation. Though this is a commonplace ability, depending on the severity, frequency and other factors, some daydreamers may be experiencing a psychiatric condition called maladaptive daydreaming, or MD. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Maladaptive daydreamers will feel compelled to switch to daydreams during the day, leading experts to believe it is a behavioural addiction much like any other.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since it is still an evolving area of research, it is yet to be formally recognised as a disorder in the </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition,</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> or </span><a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm"><span style="font-weight: 400;">DSM-5</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. But, some experts believe it is a real disorder that can have a significant effect on a person’s daily life.</span></p> <p><strong>What is maladaptive daydreaming?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though daydreams are a common and enjoyable experience, when the daydreaming interferes with a person’s social, academic, or professional life this is considered to be maladaptive, especially when human interactions are replaced with fantasy. However, maladaptive daydreamers also usually know that their daydreams are not reality and are still in touch with the real world in some way.</span></p> <p><strong>Why does it occur?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though experts are unsure what causes MD, Professor Eli Somer, who </span><a href="https://www.haifa.ac.il/index.php/en/2012-12-16-11-30-12/new-media/1754-our-researchers-discovered-a-new-psychological-disorder-maladaptive-daydreaming.html#:~:text=Our%20Researchers%20Discovered%20a%20New%20Psychological%20Disorder%3A%20Maladaptive%20Daydreaming,-A%20new%20psychological&amp;text=%E2%80%9CDaydreaming%20usually%20starts%20as%20a,it%20takes%20over%20their%20lives."><span style="font-weight: 400;">first defined the phenomenon in 2002</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, believed that it develops as a result of trauma, abuse or loneliness, acting as a coping mechanism that a person could use to escape from their reality.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In his study, Somer identified six survivors of sexual assault who would regularly escape into an imaginary world they created and would fantasize about themselves in empowering storylines that were missing in their real lives.</span></p> <p><strong>Symptoms</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a 2011 review by Cynthia Schupak and Jayne Bigelson that </span><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21959201/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">studied 90 self-identifying maladaptive daydreamers who fantasize excessively</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, they found several common behaviours.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The researchers found that 79 percent of subjects reported physically engaging with their fantasies, such as making faces or performing repetitive movements while daydreaming. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They also found that participants struggled against the compulsion to daydream and were concerned that their fantasies interfered with their real-life relationships.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Additional symptoms can include:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Extremely vivid daydreams with an evolving or complex story, characters and other detailed story-like features</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Daydreams triggered by real-life events</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Daydreaming for lengthy periods, from many minutes to hours</span></li> </ul> <p><strong>Can I be diagnosed with maladaptive daydreaming?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since it is not currently recognised by the DSM, you cannot be formally diagnosed with maladaptive daydreaming. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Experts have developed a diagnostic tool called the </span><a href="https://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S1053810015300611-mmc1.doc"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS)</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to help people determine whether they are experiencing symptoms of it. But, this should be treated as an indication rather than a formal diagnosis.</span></p> <p><strong>Can maladaptive daydreaming be treated?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There is no official treatment for MD. </span></p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19062309"><span style="font-weight: 400;">One study</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> found that fluvoxamine, a common treatment for OCD, was effective in helping an individual control her daydreams.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Experts believe cognitive behavioural therapy could help people manage their daily life and address their need to daydream.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Maladaptive daydreaming still isn’t an officially recognized condition, but it’s clear that people around the world are experiencing the same symptoms: the hypnotic movements, the plots and characters, and the crippling inability to focus on the real world. As a researcher, I hope to find out much more about this condition and help the medical profession learn to address it,” Bigelsen said.</span></p>

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Playful behaviour could be why we’re so brainy

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Though being called a birdbrain is insulting, birds can be quite clever which might be due to how playful they are. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Studies in animal cognition have traditionally tested the cognitive abilities of different animals by seeing how well they can use tools, birds included.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, recent research published in </span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-76572-7"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Nature Scientific Reports</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> suggests that the brain size of different Australian native birds might have more to do with their ability to play than knowing how to use tools.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In particular, scientists found that birds who played with others (called social play) had the largest brains relative to body size and lived the longest.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It also found that there was no significant association between tool use and brain mass, and that play behaviour could be a significant driver in how larger brains evolved in a number of species, including humans.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Research investigating the effect of tool use on brain size follows a classic theory called the “technical intelligence hypothesis”, which posits that humans and other animals developed larger brains because circumstances forced them to use increasingly sophisticated tools.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In this new study of 77 native Australian bird species found that there was no link between tool use and brain size or life expectancy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Instead, different kinds of play were found to be associated with brain size, where birds that didn’t play at all had the smallest average brain size, followed by birds that played on their own, then birds that play with objects and birds that play in groups of two or more.</span></p> <p><strong>What does this mean for humans?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though more research is needed to establish a connection between human and bird behaviour and brain size, both species have similarities in their stages of development, which could be significant.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Human offspring, along with offspring of great apes and other primates, develop slowly, have lengthened childhoods and play extensively, just like a surprising number of Australian antive birds.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While playing with others might just be a good way to pass the time, embracing our playful side could be a evolutionary driver for intelligence and a long life.</span></p>

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7 morning brain exercises to clear your mind

<p><strong>How can I sharpen my brain?</strong></p> <p>It can be mentally exhausting to try and resume your “normal” schedule during coronavirus. You may be working remotely, helping your children adapt to hybrid learning, keeping your family safe from coronavirus, or all of the above. Add trying to practice self-care in this mix of endless responsibilities. All this stress can zap your concentration, make you irritable or depressed, and potentially damage your professional and personal relationships.</p> <p>However, brain exercises, especially before work, can help get you through your day. “Working out areas of the brain before a full day can set us on a path of increased agility and flexibility in our thinking and enable us to communicate more calmly and effectively with our colleagues,” says Dr Jennifer Wolkin, a clinical neuropsychologist. Fold a mix of these brain exercises into your morning routine and you’ll find yourself working smarter and more efficiently from the get-go.</p> <p><strong>Relax with a good read</strong></p> <p><span>In today’s fast-paced day and age, it’s hard to remember to unplug and take time for the simple things that relax and stimulate the mind. Reading is certainly one of those—be it a chapter book, newspaper, or online article. “Some of the best activities to perform are ones that enrich the brain with new information, like reading,” says neurosurgeon Dr Jason Liauw. “Taking in a good book or the morning paper is not only a calming way to start your day, but it also can help you reorient your priorities, taking you momentarily out of the daily grind from yesterday before today’s begins.” Most importantly, reading can also cause a frameshift in your mind, so that when you’re in the middle of your day, you may be able to look at your routine and tasks through a different lens.</span></p> <p><strong>Do exercise</strong></p> <p><span>You probably know how important of a role exercise plays in your health and mood, but there are some additional brain-boosting reasons to sneak in a workout before work. “Exercise actually alters brain chemistry and has even been likened to the effect of taking antidepressants,” says Wolkin. “It signals the release of several key neurotransmitters, many of which play a vital role in keeping our brain sharp as we age.” Exercise also helps pump blood flow and oxygen to the brain, allowing your grey matter to work to its highest capacity, which translates to better and sharper decision making, judgment, and memory.</span></p> <p><strong>Practise meditation</strong></p> <p><span>“Studies have found that the amygdala, known as the brain’s ‘fight or flight’ center and the seat of our fearful and anxious emotions, decreases in brain cell volume after mindfulness practice,” says Wolkin. “The impact mindfulness exerts on our brain is born from routine—a slow, steady and consistent reckoning of our realities, and the ability to take a step back, become more aware, more accepting, less judgemental and less reactive.” Meditators also show a greater ability to recall information faster, leading researchers to believe that the ability to quickly “screen out” mental noise, allows the working memory to search and find information needed more quickly and efficiently, says brain expert Daniel Amen, double-board-certified psychiatrist, physician, and author of </span><em>Time for Bed Sleepyhead</em><span>.</span></p> <p><strong>Play classical music in the background</strong></p> <p><span>The gentle, peaceful sounds of classical music from the likes of Mozart and Beethoven have long been touted as beneficial to the brain and productivity in general. “Listening to classical music while getting dressed in the morning or exercising is a one-two punch of neural circuitry that’s been shown by researchers to significantly improve verbal fluency, cognitive functioning, and overall focus and concentration,” says Dian Griesel, entrepreneur and business and health spokesperson.</span></p> <p><strong>Play a fast logic-based game</strong></p> <p> </p> <p>Lifelong learners are definitely onto something, as continued education—not just higher education—promotes brain health and creates new neural connections. “Even just taking a stab at a crossword puzzle or taking online quizzes that challenge your mind, can help build cognitive reserves,” says Wolkin. The best tasks for the brain are not only challenging, but are varied and novel—think Sudoku, or memory-recall games or apps.</p> <p>“It’s important to keep brain-boosting activities constantly changing with increasing complexity as well as cross-training brain activities that use different parts of the brain,” says Dr Kristin M. Mascotti. “Consistency is key, and many of these techniques can be done in just a few minutes every day with different skills tested on different days.”</p> <p><strong>Make a gratitude list</strong></p> <p><span>When you bring your attention to the things in your life for which you’re grateful, your brain actually works better, especially with a gratitude list. “Brain imaging studies show that negative thought patterns change the brain in a negative way, but that conversely, practicing gratitude literally helps you have a brain to be grateful for,” says Dr Amen. Every day, write down five things you’re grateful for—whether that’s your dog, your job, or that the football season has started back up again.</span></p> <p><strong>Get a good night's rest</strong></p> <p><span>It sounds obvious, but between 33-45 per cent of adults report they get insufficient sleep at least one night per month, according to the Sleep Health Foundation. “Sleep is proven in countless studies to help our ability to recall—which directly affects our capability to control both our behaviour and learning,” says Griesel. “Sleep deficits actually result in performance comparable to intoxication.” The best way to prime your body for a great work performance the following day is to stick to a sleep schedule. Make sure that it doesn’t change much on the weekends. Also, remember to practice a relaxing bedtime ritual, like reading a book. Make sure your room is dark and cool at an ideal temperature of around 19 degrees celsius.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Jenn Sinrich</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">. This article first appeared in </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/7-morning-brain-exercises-to-clear-your-mind" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reader’s Digest</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Find more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></em></p>

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10 Sudoku tips that’ll help you win

<p><strong>Sudoku puzzles</strong></p> <p>T<span>here’s a lot more to Sudoku than simply writing numbers in a row and column. Sitting down before a fresh Sudoku grid and playing Sudoku requires logic, not guesswork, and a substantial knowledge of Sudoku solving techniques. Once you know these Sudoku tips, you will be able to solve even the most challenging puzzle.</span></p> <p><strong>What is required to solve a Sudoku puzzle?</strong></p> <p><span>You can read all the Sudoku tips you want, but you need more than an understanding of Sudoku rules and a Sudoku strategy to be a true puzzle master. “The best Sudoku players know how to cut through the visual clutter of a Sudoku grid and start scanning immediately for the most valuable clues and information that they need,” reports Sudoku.com. Other Sudoku players have the ability to “switch off their minds to the outside world and focus for hours to solve Sudoku puzzles.”</span></p> <p><strong>What is the technique to solve Sudoku?</strong></p> <p><span>There are more than a few techniques to solve a Sudoku puzzle, but per Conceptis Puzzles, the easiest way to a Sudoku solution is to, “Scan rows and columns within each triple-box area, eliminating numbers or squares and finding situations where only a single number can fit into a single square.” If you’re looking to learn how to play Sudoku, the scanning technique is a swift and generally efficient method of solving easy Sudoku puzzles from start to finish and can get players far into more difficult puzzles before switching to an advanced Sudoku strategy. Before you get started, rev up your brain by seeing if you can solve these puzzles that less than 60 per cent of people can.</span></p> <p><strong>What is pencil marking in Sudoku?</strong></p> <p><span>Sudoku pencil marking is a systematic Sudoku solver strategy in which puzzle doers use a pencil to write small numbers inside the squares, denoting which numbers may fit in. Conceptis Puzzles says that, “After pencil marking the puzzle, the solver must analyse the results, identify special number combinations, and deduce which numbers should be placed where.” Pencil is, of course, easy to erase in a hurry once you find the solution – or realise you made a mistake.</span></p> <p><strong>Can all Sudoku puzzles be solved without guessing?</strong></p> <p><span>According to Sudoku Of The Day, “Sudoku is a puzzle involving logic ­– no arithmetic or guessing is required!” While you can, guess, of course, if your guess is wrong, it will throw off the rest of the puzzle and you’ll need to start over.</span></p> <p><strong>What is a Sudoku candidate?</strong></p> <p><span>A single candidate is a very easy Sudoku strategy for solving a puzzle. Sudoku of the Day says this Sudoku strategy involves “Using pencil marks to store what candidates are still possible within each cell.” The site continues on to note that, “By then examining the surrounding column, row, and box, a single candidate means you’ve managed to rule out all other possibilities for a particular cell,” leaving just a single number left that could possibly fit. Want another challenge?</span></p> <p><strong>What is a hidden pair in Sudoku?</strong></p> <p><span>A hidden pair in Sudoku is “When a pair of numbers appear in exactly two squares in a row, column, or block, but those two numbers aren’t the only ones in their squares,” according to thonky.com.</span></p> <p><strong>A hidden triple in Sudoku is similar</strong></p> <p><span>Thonky.com explains that like a hidden pair, a hidden triple in Sudoku, “Occurs when three cells in a row, column, or block contain the same three numbers or a subset of those three. The three cells also contain other candidates.”</span></p> <p><strong>What is the swordfish technique in Sudoku?</strong></p> <p><span>You won’t need a Sudoku strategy involving the swordfish technique when just learning how to play Sudoku – not every puzzle has a swordfish pattern – but as you progress, you may run into this technically challenging puzzle pattern – and it may confound you.  “A Swordfish pattern occurs when three rows (or three columns) each contain two or three cells that hold a matching locked candidate,” according to Sudoku Essentials. This candidate must reside in each of the three rows and share the same three columns or vice versa.”</span></p> <p><strong>What is a jellyfish in Sudoku?</strong></p> <p><span>A jellyfish is when, “Four columns have a candidate in only four different rows, or vice versa,” per Sudoku Snake. The self-described, most advanced Sudoku application goes on to say that a jellyfish is like an, “X-Wing or Swordfish expanded into four units. The columns or rows that have these candidates are the primary units, and must only contain the candidates in the other four rows or columns called the secondary units. All other candidates in the secondary units can be eliminated.”</span></p> <p><strong>What is a unique rectangle in Sudoku?</strong></p> <p><span>Somewhat of a controversial subject in the Sudoku world, a unique rectangle (UR) is a situation in which a puzzle may have two different solutions. Hodoku notes that, “A unique rectangle consists of four cells that occupy exactly two rows, two columns, and two boxes. All four cells have the same two candidates left (in real Sudoku, not all cells have to hold all of the UR candidates).”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by <span>Jeff Bogle</span></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">. This article first appeared in </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/10-sudoku-tips-thatll-help-you-win?pages=2" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reader’s Digest</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V"><span style="font-weight: 400;">here’s our best subscription offer.</span></a></p>

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Living Language: Let It Go

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I was walking to work when I heard, then saw them. Two little girls, about six, both dressed as Elsa, singing “Let it Go” very loudly and badly. Behind them trotted what had to be a brother, as he had that eyerolling disgust only a sibling can manage. I was about to grin at him in shared </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Frozen</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> overload sympathy, when he lost his cool. “You’re doing it WRONG!” he shouted, before launching into a pitch-perfect version.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I sometimes feel we approach language not unlike that little boy, more upset with missed notes than with the joy in the singing. I know it took me years to come to grips with people using “fulsome” to mean “lots”. And our editor-in-chief has a little eye twitch when people say less instead of fewer. But we’re seeking help. The truth of the matter is that some things have changed, some don’t matter, and some were never rules anyway.</span></p> <p><strong>Moving with the times</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Often, the meaning of words just changes over time. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Enormity</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> is a good example. The word derived from the Latin </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">enormitas</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, meaning a transgression, and in English it meant the “extreme scale or seriousness of something bad or morally wrong” according to the </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Oxford English Dictionary</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">. So you would say of a mass murderer that “citizens were shocked by the enormity of his crimes.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But the word sounds very much like </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">enormous</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, and so has come to have a second, more common meaning of just “very large”. Some may point to this as a clear sign of Society In Decay, but English speakers have been doing it for over 200 years without civilisation collapsing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s a similar story for </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">fulsome</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, with “fulsome praise” once meaning “excessively flattering” and now just as often meaning “a lot of praise”. The problem is that both are meanings with lots of history. It started off in Middle English meaning </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">plump and full</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, morphed into </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">overstuffed </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">by the 17th century, and was used mostly in a negative sense from the late 1600s to the late 1900s. It’s one of those tricky words where you need to be really certain from context what the user meant.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This happens more than you might think. Some of our most common words have flipped meaning altogether: </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">nice </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">once meant </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">silly </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">and </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">silly </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">once meant </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">blessed</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">. And most of us are old enough to remember when cool was hot and hot was really cool.</span></p> <p><strong>But I know what you mean</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are a lot of words that many people do use “wrongly”. Fewer and less are the classic pair: the rule is that fewer should be used when referring to something that can be counted (“I have fewer shoes than Jack does”) while less is for amounts that can’t be numbered (“I have less interest in shoes.”)</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yet in many shops you’ll see “10 items or less” aisles, and even newsreaders say “Less than 50 people have been found”. Technically, it is wrong, but does it really matter? The meaning is still obvious.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s like </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">irregardless</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, which is the word </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">regardless </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">with an extra “ir”. It’s not an official word – regardless already means what irregardless would – but it is obvious what the person is trying to say. Same with people who use </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">decimate </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">to describe something other than killing one in ten. There are so few Roman legionaries around these days that I suspect we can move on from the original meaning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Which isn’t to say that it’s not a fine thing to be precise. It’s just that concentrating on a lack of precision rather than whether you understand what’s written can veer into pedantry and may cause premature frown lines.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I sympathise with those who flinch when it comes to </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">literally </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">being used to mean anything other than literally, even if some dictionaries have added “figuratively” to their list of definitions. But it’s usually easy to spot: “I literally exploded!” would have to come through a medium if meant traditionally.</span></p> <p><strong>You’re making that up</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some “rules” really aren’t. Infinitives (to run, to see, etc.) shouldn’t be split in Latin, but there’s no such rule in English: </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Star Trek</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">’s “to boldly go” is perfectly fine.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Similarly, aside from the fact it will irritate a handful of teachers, there’s no reason not to end a sentence in a preposition (about, of, for, to, off, on, with). It’s just another holdover from the days when Latin shared schoolrooms with English and people tried to force its rules onto the younger language.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ending with a preposition is often the only way to construct a sentence in a way that sounds “normal”. “Who’s he with?” sounds like friends talking; “With whom is he fraternising?” sounds like a magistrate interrogating. Many people say “What’s he on about?” while only characters in 19th century novels would ask: “On what topic is he expostulating?”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And it’s fine to start a sentence, or even a paragraph, with a conjunction. But it does create a relaxed tone, so keep it for writing that doesn’t need to be formal.</span></p> <p><strong>Worth fighting for</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite recommending a more relaxed attitude as a recipe for both lower blood pressure and occasional delight (whenever I read of a politician I dislike receiving “fulsome applause”, I giggle), most of us have words we still fight to protect.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For me, it’s </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">disinterested</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, meaning not having a stake in a topic and therefore unbiased, and </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">uninterested</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, meaning not caring about the topic. Their meanings are so usefully distinct that I find it distressing when people blur them. A disinterested jury will guarantee you a fair trial; an uninterested jury might spend all their time daydreaming.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Why fight this battle and not the others? In all the other cases, the shifts in meaning are usually clear. New words have risen up to fill gaps – snarky applause may not be identical to fulsome, but it’s definitely a fraternal twin, just as egregious does a lot of the heavy lifting enormity used to do. For disinterested, though, there is no other single word that does the job.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And if you still want to take a marker pen to “10 items or less” signs, I really can’t blame you. But for the sake of orderly behaviour in supermarkets, I think we need to accept that, like my attempted ban on </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Frozen </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">references in the magazine this issue, sometimes we just need to let it go …</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Donyale Harrison. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/our-language/When-To-Ignore-The-Rules-Of-Proper-English">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p>

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If you laugh at these dark jokes, you’re probably a genius

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Body:</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">A man walks into a rooftop bar and takes a seat next to another guy. “What are you drinking?” he asks the guy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Magic beer,” he says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Oh, yeah? What’s so magical about it?”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then he shows him: He swigs some beer, dives off the roof, flies around the building, then finally returns to his seat with a triumphant smile.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Amazing!” the man says. “Lemme try some of that!” The man grabs the beer. He downs it, leaps off the roof – and plummets 15 storeys to the ground.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The bartender shakes his head. “You know, you’re a real jerk when you’re drunk, Superman.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">—</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Let’s ignore for a moment whether or not that poor rube survived his fall (if it makes you feel better, let’s say Trampoline Man was waiting for him on the ground). The real question is: did you find this joke funny? Sick? Maybe a little of both?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to a </span><a href="http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10339-016-0789-y"><span style="font-weight: 400;">study</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> published in the journal </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cognitive Processing</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, your reaction could indicate your intelligence. In the paper, a team of psychologists concludes that people who appreciate dark humour – defined as “humour that treats sinister subjects like death, disease, deformity, handicap or warfare with bitter amusement and presents such tragic, distressing or morbid topics in humorous terms” – may have higher IQs, show lower aggression and resist negative feelings more effectively than people who turn up their noses at it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To test this correlation between sense of humour and intellect, researchers had 156 male and female participants read 12 bleak cartoons from </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Black Book </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">by German </span><a href="http://www.ulistein.de/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">cartoonist</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Uli Stein. (</span><a href="http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10339-016-0789-y"><span style="font-weight: 400;">One</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of them, which paraphrases a classic joke, shows a mortician reaching deep into a cadaver as a nurse muses, “The autopsy is finished; he is only looking for his wrist watch.”) Participants indicated whether they understood each joke and whether they found it funny, then took some basic IQ tests and answered questionnaires about their mood, aggressive tendencies and educational background.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The results were remarkably consistent: Participants who both comprehended and enjoyed the dark jokes showed higher IQs and reported less aggressive tendencies than those who did not. Incidentally, the participants who least liked the humour showed the highest levels of aggression and the worst moods of the bunch. The latter point makes sense when you consider the widely-studied health benefits of laughter and smiling; if you aren’t able to greet negativity with playful optimism, of course you will feel worse.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But what about the link to intelligence? According to the </span><a href="http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/01/a-twisted-sense-of-humor-just-means-youre-a-chill-genius.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">researchers</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, processing a dark joke takes a bit more mental gymnastics than, say, a knock-knock joke – it’s “a complex information-processing task” that requires parsing multiple layers of meaning, while creating a bit of emotional distance from the content so that it registers as benign instead of hostile. That emotional manoeuvering is what sets dark jokes apart from, say, puns, which literally pit your brain’s right and left hemispheres </span><a href="http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/12/heres-what-happens-in-your-brain-when-you-hear-a-pun.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">against each other</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> as you process a single word’s multiple meanings, but usually don’t force you out of your emotional comfort zone. Tina Fey sums up the difference pretty well: “If you want to make an audience laugh, you dress a man up like an old lady and push her down the stairs. If you want to make comedy writers laugh, you push an actual old lady down the stairs.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The takeaway: Pretty much any joke that relies on wordplay will put your brain to work – dark jokes just require a bit more emotional control to earn a laugh.</span></p>

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What is doomscrolling? What psychologists need you to know

<p><strong>Seeking out bad news</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I first discovered the r/Collapse Reddit community – an online board to “discuss the potential collapse of global civilisation” – after interviewing a prominent climate change scientist for an article. During the course of our interview, he confessed that all the projections they were putting out there were “overly rosy.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He and his fellow researchers felt compelled to water things down for the public, he said, out of fear we would all just give up – instead of take action – if they told us the truth.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I was not a fan of this scientific whitewashing. After our discussion, I started looking for more information about the range of projections on climate change, not just the palatable ones researchers felt like they “should” say. This was how I ended up at r/Collapse and found my people, which is to say a group of slightly paranoid, give-it-to-me-straight realists who also aren’t getting much sleep.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It actually made me feel better. It’s not a collective of extremist doomsday preppers (although there are some of those). Rather, it is made up mostly of people like me, those who “seek to deepen our understanding of collapse while providing mutual support, not to document every detail of our demise.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I loved it so much I didn’t want to admit it might be turning into a problem. What I was doing has a name: doomscrolling.</span></p> <p><strong>What is</strong><strong> doomscrolling?</strong></p> <p> </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This is the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news may be perceived as saddening, disheartening, or depressing. In addition to Reddit, my Twitter feed is an ode to the bleak. (Somehow, perhaps as a coping technique, I’ve managed to mostly keep my Facebook and Instagram shiny, happy places.)</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I’m not alone in this habit. For me, it started years ago with that interview, but for many people, the craziness of 2020 is how they got caught up in doomscrolling. And it makes sense, says Ken Yeager, PhD, a researcher and associate professor of medicine who leads The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Stress, Trauma, and Resilience Program.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“This year has been a year of unprecedented changes,” he says. “The pandemic, electoral issues, the economy, protests and public expression of raw emotions, natural disasters have all contributed to the phenomena known as doomscrolling.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Doomscrolling is the modern-day equivalent to watching a train wreck,” he adds. “It’s really very difficult to look away.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It should also be noted that this isn’t just an accidental phenomenon or a personality quirk. It’s also a business decision. From politicians to tech companies to mobile phone carriers, all kinds of people profit from us being overly engaged with technology.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The more often they can get us to click, the more money they make, says Jeff Gardere, PhD, a psychologist and associate professor. It’s in their best interest to do whatever it takes to keep us reading, even if it’s not in our best interest.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The phone is our connection with the outside world. We are inundated with bad or negative news and it happens every few minutes,” he says. “The sense of urgency, excitement, and danger can become very addictive.”</span></p> <p><strong>Why do we doomscroll?</strong></p> <p> </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Doomscrolling serves a real purpose in people’s lives, some helpful and some harmful.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">People have different reasons for doing it and it’s important to understand what’s motivating your news habit, says psychiatrist Leela R. Magavi, MD.</span></p> <h4>To try to make uncertain events make sense</h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s easy to feel helpless and scared during these uncertain times and some people find that staying informed, even through doomscrolling, helps them feel comforted and in control.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Understanding why and how something is happening can help it to feel less frightening. “It’s a way to understand or try to make sense of very uncertain times,” Yeager says.</span></p> <h4>A sense of connectedness</h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another benefit is feeling connected to others who have similar concerns and worries or are in similar situations, Dr Magavi says. You feel like you’re part of a group and you’re not alone.</span></p> <h4>Reassurance that you’re okay</h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The third potentially useful reason, and perhaps the most surprising one, is that it can be a way to reassure yourself that things actually aren’t as terrible as they seem and that you’re doing alright, Yeager says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For instance, seeing news about a devastating hurricane on the other side of the world may make you grateful you live in a place where such weather events are uncommon.</span></p> <h4>Feeling prepared</h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“For some people, it can be empowering that they are on top of the latest disaster before other people,” Gardere says. “It’s almost like being ahead of the game.” This can also be helpful for knowing what you should be doing now to prepare.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For instance, perhaps you need to pack a “go bag” in case of fire, while others may want to stock up on toilet paper in the face of new lockdowns.</span></p> <h4>Fear of missing out</h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Of course, there are also negative reasons people doomscroll. Top of that list: a deep-seated fear that you are missing out, Dr Magavi says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You’ve heard of FOMO (fear of missing out) for parties and weddings? Well, it turns out that you can get FOMO for natural disasters and wars, too.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Constantly reading bad news can be a way to reassure yourself that you’re not missing anything important, she says.</span></p> <h4>A way to manage anxiety</h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many people who doomscroll use it as a way to manage their anxiety about events they can’t control, Dr Magavi says. Unfortunately, this habit can quickly become a compulsion.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You start out doomscrolling to relieve your anxiety and then the bad news only creates more of it.</span></p> <h4>Boredom</h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Boredom stemming from being trapped indoors during restrictions is another reason many of us start doomscrolling, Gardere says. Our phones are the one thing that’s with us no matter where we are.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We’ve become more dependent on them for everything from information to entertainment to connection, he says. Some people scratch that itch with Candy Crush. Others read through alarming news reports.</span></p> <h4>Hypervigilance</h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Doomscrolling may be a manifestation of a deeper issue – hypervigilance, Yeager says. People who are in a state of hypervigilance have a heightened sensitivity to potential dangers and are constantly scanning their environment for threats.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It exists as a way to help people monitor and escape dangers. But the problem is that when everything feels dangerous, then you’re on constant alert, which is mentally and physically exhausting.</span></p> <h4>You’re addicted to your phone</h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Every time you pick up your phone, you’re rewarded with a little hit of dopamine, leading many people to pick up their phone 75 to 100 or even more times per day, Yeager says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What’s one major way your phone can capture your attention? A big, negative news headline. And before you know it, you’re doomscrolling through all the headlines. “Picking up your phone is consistently rewarding and it can be very hard to break away from news feeds,” he says.</span></p> <h4>It feels like doing something</h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While each of these reasons resonates with me on some level, for me personally, I think I like doomscrolling because it feels like I’m doing something.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It gives me the illusion of action without the responsibility or fear of stepping outside my academic comfort zone and, you know, actually doing something about all these problems.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Charlotte Hilton Anderson. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/what-is-doomscrolling-what-psychologists-need-you-to-know">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p>

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4 signs your loved one could have high-functioning depression

<p><strong>1. They decline social invitations</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">High-functioning depression looks a lot like chronic low-level depression and can last around five years in adults or one to two years in children and teens, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. And while it may not leave a person devastated and hopeless, high-functioning depression can seriously dent your quality of life, dampening your enthusiasm for work, school, family and even social activities. A change in social activities can be one of the earliest warning signs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“People with high-functioning depression still go to work and interact with people, but outside of work, they may stop hanging out with friends, and make excuses like ‘work’s been really stressful,’” says psychiatrist Dr Jason Stamper. “They will be somewhat isolative, and this often translates into distance in relationships.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Learn </span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/tips/12-simple-ways-to-make-friends-as-an-adult"><span style="font-weight: 400;">these simple ways to make friends as an adult</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><strong>2. They have other health issues</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This is a two-way street. On one hand, underlying medical conditions can prompt depression. “Co-occurring medical conditions, like diabetes or cancer, cause stress and strain that can lead to depression,” says professor psychiatry Dr Michelle Riba. On the other hand, depression can lower immunity, making you more vulnerable to getting sick.</span></p> <p><strong>3. They’re sleeping differently</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Whether you can’t nod off as easily, you’re snoozing more than usual, or you’re tossing and turning, sleep problems can warn of possible depression – and it can make your symptoms dramatically worse. “Good sleep is key to good mental health,” says Dr Carol Landau, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown University.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here are </span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/thyroid/9-silent-signs-thyroid-problem-you-may-be-ignoring"><span style="font-weight: 400;">the medical reasons you’re tired all the time</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><strong>4. They’re worried or anxious</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We’re so quick to equate depression with sadness that we tend to overlook another strongly-linked emotion: anxiety. It’s important to also note that anxiety isn’t limited to fear; it can manifest itself in multiple ways, according to Dr Stamper. You might experience mental restlessness, confusion and that feeling of having a “pit in your stomach.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Try sharing these </span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/thought-provokinginspirational/14-magic-phrases-to-instantly-calm-your-anxiety"><span style="font-weight: 400;">14 magic phrases to instantly calm anxiety</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Brook Bolen. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/signs-your-loved-one-could-have-high-functioning-depression">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p>

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Sufferers of high-functioning depression could have these four symptoms

<p><strong>1. They may be relying more on vices of choice</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That might mean drinking more alcohol than usual, taking drugs, eating more ice cream, or playing more video games – whatever behaviour serves as an emotional crutch. “If you’re feeling sad or lonely or otherwise ‘off,’ you may drink more wine more often to cover it up,” Dr Landau says. “This kind of self-medicating is especially troubling because substance abuse adds an extra layer of care that you need.” In addition to being addictive, drugs and alcohol especially can exacerbate symptoms of depression, anxiety and sleep problems, further hindering people’s abilities to cope.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Watch out for </span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/8-silent-signs-stress-is-making-you-sick"><span style="font-weight: 400;">these 8 signs stress is making you sick</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><strong>2. They’re a successful, Type A personality</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Affluent, educated people are, surprisingly, more likely to have high-functioning depression.” The paradox of high-functioning depression is that these are very often people who are educated and have important jobs,” Dr Stamper says. “They have the benefit of education and status, yet often their careers can be huge stressors.” Dr Landau says she works mostly with women whose lives and list of personal accomplishments is long and impressive. “In some ways, you’re better off as a low-functioning person,” she says, “because high-functioning people often don’t allow themselves to have all the necessary support.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Consider suggesting </span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/10-habits-people-who-never-get-stressed"><span style="font-weight: 400;">these 10 habits of people who never get stressed.</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><strong>3. They’re pretty grouchy</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Irritability is another common symptom of high-functioning depression, and it’s especially problematic for women, according to Dr Landeau. “People are more likely to see an irritable woman as a ‘bitch,’ rather than showing concern, like, ‘Hey, you don’t seem the same lately. Are you okay?” she says. Because women are conditioned at an early age to be less assertive and to suppress “troublesome” emotions like anger, more subtle symptoms like irritability can be missed. Consider that some one in four women have been, or will be, depressed at least once in their lives, according to Landau, and irritability may be the chief sign.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These </span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/16-science-backed-ways-to-overcome-depression-naturally/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">science-backed ways to overcome depression naturally</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> are worth sharing.</span></p> <p><strong>4. There is a family history</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Experts agree that knowing your family’s history is essential for predicting and diagnosing depression. Studies show that the more relatives you have who have been diagnosed with mood disorders or drug or alcohol dependence, the more likely it is that you will too. “Knowing your genetics and family history can be enormously helpful,” says Dr Riba. Life changes and stress can trigger your biological predisposition to depression, so knowing your history can help you not only predict, but shape, your future.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Brook Bolen. This article first appeared in </span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/signs-your-loved-one-could-have-high-functioning-depression"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reader’s Digest</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V"><span style="font-weight: 400;">here’s our best subscription offer.</span></a></em></p>

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What could happen when you start meditating every day

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Thought about adding meditation to your daily routine? Wellness counsellor Deepak Kashyap reveals four more health benefits you might experience from practising mindfulness meditation on a regular basis.</span></p> <p><strong>1. It can complement the treatment of substance abuse</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you’re struggling with substance abuse – whether it’s drinking or drugs – there’s no substitute for medical care, and that starts with a discussion with your family doctor. That said, meditation has been shown to be an effective complement to medical treatments for substance abuse, particularly in terms of managing cravings and addictive impulses. In fact, mindfulness-based interventions are increasingly incorporated into medically-supervised programs for substance abuse.</span></p> <p><strong>2. You might build a healthier relationship with food</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You don’t need to be diagnosed with a full-blown eating disorder to have a disordered relationship with food. With 67% of Australians over 18 now considered overweight or obese, it’s quite clear that our patterns of eating (not to mention what we’re eating) are putting our health at risk. A number of studies have shown that mindfulness-based interventions – think mindful eating techniques – can be helpful in addressing disordered eating habits.</span></p> <p><strong>3. You might sleep better</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As a mindfulness coach, I’m very aware of the day-to-day anxieties and worries that can interfere with a good night’s sleep. One of the most effective ways of easing ourselves out of those stresses is through daily meditation. Meditation apps such as Insight Timer offer guided meditations such as Yoga Nidra specifically aimed at relaxing your muscles to help you drift off to sleep. If this is indeed your first attempt at meditation, you’ll likely find the meditation interrupted by thoughts flashing through your mind. It’s important for you to know that this isn’t a failure on your part, and that you aren’t doing anything wrong. Thinking is just what the brain does, as naturally as lungs take in air. The point is to be non-judgmental yet aware of your thoughts, bodily experiences and breath, moment by moment.</span></p> <p><strong>4. You might become more compassionate</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Thanks to the frantic pace of our lives, there seems to be precious little time for compassion. Sadly, that means that we’re often easily frustrated and annoyed not only by others, but by ourselves. By practising mindful meditation on a regular basis, you may find your potential for compassion slowly building. Over time, compassion may become a habitual attitude – and a powerful motivational force.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Deepak Kashyap. This article first appeared in </span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/what-might-happen-when-you-start-meditating-every-day"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reader’s Digest</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V"><span style="font-weight: 400;">here’s our best subscription offer.</span></a></em></p>

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What might happen when you start meditating every day

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Thought about adding meditation to your daily routine? Wellness counsellor Deepak Kashyap reveals four health benefits you might experience from practising mindfulness meditation on a regular basis.</span></p> <p><strong>Daily motivation could improve your focus</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a world that bombards us with information, it’s hard to tell what deserves our attention – and even harder to give our undivided attention when it’s required. Meditation can be an effective tool in eliminating distractions, allowing us to stay focused on what matters – whether that’s reading the next page of a novel, or completing a presentation for work. A specific branch of mindfulness meditation called Focused Attention Meditation (FAM) can be particularly helpful in developing your powers of concentration.</span></p> <p><strong>1. You might stress less</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A lot of people turn to daily meditation simply because they want to breathe a bit easier – and there’s plenty of scientific evidence to back them up. Spending as little as 10 minutes a day meditating – sitting comfortably, concentrating on your breathing and focusing on being “present” – has the potential to significantly reduce stress.</span></p> <p><strong>2. You might love yourself more</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">How many of us can look at our reflection in the mirror and truly say, “I love myself”? Self-acceptance is hard to develop, especially since it’s human nature to regret the decisions we’ve made (or didn’t make!), and compare ourselves to the skinnier, richer and more popular people on our Instagram and Facebook feeds. After regularly practising mindfulness meditation, you may find yourself acknowledging your perceived shortcomings without judging yourself too harshly. Self-acceptance is about recognising that you’re a work in progress – and there’s no such thing as perfection.</span></p> <p><strong>3. It may help you bounce back from depression</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you struggle with depression, you may find mindfulness meditation particularly helpful. In fact, several studies have shown that mindfulness-based interventions can reduce the risk of a depressive relapse for people with a history of recurrent depression.</span></p> <p><strong>4. It can help alleviate anxiety</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The act of meditation targets the cycle of incessant worrying and negative rumination that’s at the heart of stress and anxiety – to the point where clinical psychologists are increasingly opting for mindfulness-based therapy to treat anxiety and mood disorders.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The ability to focus on the present – often achieved in meditation through controlled breathing – can provide a welcome sense of relief if you’re constantly dreading what the future might hold.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Deepak Kashyap. This article first appeared in </span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/what-might-happen-when-you-start-meditating-every-day"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reader’s Digest</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V"><span style="font-weight: 400;">here’s our best subscription offer.</span></a></em></p>

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I have anxiety – and here’s how it actually helps me

<p>That breathless feeling<br />My first panic attack came out of nowhere and left me breathless and scared in a bathroom cubicle – I felt helpless. I’m not exactly sure where my anxiety originates from, but I’ve learned to treat it like a sort of character trait – I’m free-spirited, funny, creative – and anxious. Because I have chronic anxiety and panic attacks, despite taking medication, I had to find a way to deal with anxiety to get my life back. It may sound crazy, but not only have I learned tricks to control my anxiety, I’ve found that dealing with my condition has made me a healthier person.</p> <p>According to BeyondBlue, anxiety disorders affect around 3.2 million Australians aged 16 to 85. What’s more, women are twice as likely to be affected as men. Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.</p> <p>“Anxiety can be a positive trait,” says psychiatrist Dr Megan Schabbing. “Someone who worries about being on time or performing at a high level often excels in various aspects of life, both professionally and personally.” She adds that while anxiety is known to trigger excessive worrying and racing thoughts, both can actually help a person function at a higher level. Dr Schabbing does caution that anxiety should not be a green light to act on grandiose plans – or use it as an excuse for misbehaving. The key is to seek medical treatment first, because – as I discovered – medication and therapy can play a huge role in managing anxiety.</p> <p>Anxiety makes me exercise<br />Like a lot of people, I find that anxiety makes me feel jumpy and energised. I can deal with this one of two ways: Let my legs shake and mind race while I overthink everything, or I can use that jolt of energy to my advantage. Whether I’m at work, home, or my kid’s soccer practise, there is always a healthy way to channel anxiety. If I’m working, I might grab my water bottle and take the long way to the kitchen to get my steps in. If I’m home, I jump on my exercise bike, take the dog for a long walk, or grab my free weights. Moving eases anxiety and is good for my overall health, keeping me in shape.</p> <p>“Exercise can combat anxiety because it helps to distract a person and provides an outlet to release stress in a positive way,” says Dr Schabbing. Plus, exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which activate the body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect.</p> <p>Anxiety has made me more creative<br />When my 12-year-old son was much younger, I would ease my anxiety by joining him to build with Legos, colour-in, or sculpt with Play-Doh. Focusing on those tiny, bright bricks or shading in a cartoon character with a coloured pencil distracted me and calmed me down. These days, I’m not ashamed to say I own adult colouring books and have sat at the kitchen counter during bouts of anxiety with my trusty coloured pencils. I also write, paint with watercolours, and spend time colour coordinating my closet and bookshelves.</p> <p>“Engaging in a soothing activity like knitting or colouring is extremely helpful,” says Dr Schabbing. “The repetitive motions, exercised during an art project, engages parts of the cerebral cortex while relaxing the brain’s fear center.”</p> <p>Dr Schabbing also recommends journaling or even light housework like doing laundry. “The key is that, when you fill your brain with other activities and thoughts, the anxiety is no longer able to take control of your mind.”</p> <p>Taming anxiety reminds me of the good things in my life …<br />Anxiety used to hijack my brain – I would often jump to the worst-case scenario: “My throat feels tight. It’s closing up and I’m going to suffocate!” During a therapy session many years ago, the psychologist proposed an alternative: “What if you thought of something wonderful, instead?” It was a pretty simple thing to do, so I gave it a shot the next time anxiety struck. Instead of convincing myself the world was ending, I thought about a trip I took to Paris when I was in my early 20s. I found myself thinking about cheese, wine, pastries, and the iron-strong Eiffel Tower; that happy memory took over, helping me gain control.</p> <p>“Thinking about something good and positive when you’re anxious can help to push the irrational thoughts out and replace them with positive and more reality-based ideas, Dr Schabbing says.</p> <p>Battling anxiety improved my health<br />For the past 20 years, I’ve been managing my anxiety with medication, talk therapy, creative and physical outlets, and natural remedies. Because there is evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may ease anxiety, I incorporate them into my diet. Foods, like tuna, salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed keep my diet on track and encourage me to meal plan; I’ve made overnight oats, with a sprinkle of flaxseed a go-to breakfast. I also take proactive measures to omit anxiety in the evenings by using an oil diffuser in my bedroom. According to sleep expert Dr Michael J. Breus, lavender may interact with the neurotransmitter GABA, helping to quiet the brain and nervous system activity, reduce agitation and restlessness, making it an ideal oil to diffuse when I’m feeling restless.</p> <p>Anxiety taught me to ask for help<br />One of the best things I did for myself was seeking out professional guidance. Anxiety and panic attacks are real and debilitating – I had to tune out all the well-meaning people saying it was all in my head and that I just needed a glass of wine to relax. Once I told my doctor about my troubles and signed up for sessions with a therapist, I began to gain control. They have been excellent sounding boards and helpful in my treatment. “Managing anxiety by talking to a professional in the field about your feelings can help you to avoid physical and emotional symptoms by providing an unbiased outlet for your stress,” Dr Schabbing says.</p> <p>Sure, my life isn’t all roses and rainbows, but accepting that my anxiety is a part of who I am as a person has helped me feel less like someone with an anxiety disorder and more like a functioning human who is making gallons of lemonade out of life’s lemons.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Christine Coppa. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/i-have-anxiety-and-heres-how-it-actually-helps-me-2"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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32 little life skills everyone needs to be a grown-up

<p>Balance a budget<br />The old advice used to be that everyone needed to know how to balance their chequebook, but thanks to digital banking and credit cards, check registers have gone the way of the woolly mammoth. But that doesn’t mean that budgeting, perhaps the most important household skill there is, should too. In lieu of a physical accounting, make sure you know how to track your income and expenses. You can create your own spreadsheet at home or use an app, but whatever you do, make sure you do it.</p> <p>Say “no”<br />For such a short word, it’s amazing how many of us have a hard time saying it. But learning how to graciously but firmly say “no” – without padding it with excuses or white lies – is a critical life skill. If you’re one of those people who automatically says “yes” when someone asks you to do something and feels guilty saying “no,” try saying “I need to think about it” instead. That will give you time to think through your schedule and decide if it’s something you can really do without the pressure of having the person’s pleading eyes boring into you. And remember: Every time you say “yes” to one thing (like working late), you’re also saying “no” to everything else (like the gym, dinner with your family, and a reasonable bedtime).</p> <p>Boil an egg<br />Eggs are a cheap source of quality protein, and when you boil them you add portable to their list of wonderful qualities. But boiling the perfect egg can be tricky – too short and you end up with gross gooey whites, too long and you have a bouncy ball that crumbles when you try to bite into it. Listen up adults: It doesn’t have to be hard.</p> <p>Accept criticism<br />You did something wrong? Congratulations, you’re human! Unfortunately we often treat mistakes as personal failures, which makes hearing about them upsetting (to put it mildly), and when others try to offer criticism it can unleash your inner Hulk. But if you can teach yourself to see mistakes as learning opportunities instead, it makes them – and the inevitable criticism that comes with them – so much easier to handle.</p> <p>Sew on a button<br />Clothing quality has been markedly decreasing over the years, and unfortunately, so have sewing skills. This means that not only is a popped button, a hanging hem, or a hole in a sweater inevitable (thank you fast fashion!) but you’re stuck buying a new item or relying on safety pins in weird places instead of doing what should be a simple fix.</p> <p>Understand consequences<br />Want to party but not wake up with a hangover? Stuff yourself with cake but not gain weight? Take off every Friday but still have a job on Monday? Speed but never get a ticket? Well, we’re sorry to be the ones to break this to you, but this is not the way the world works. (Usually.) We all know this on an intellectual level, and yet we rage against it on an emotional level, living as if we don’t understand the immutable law of consequences. So here you go: When you make a choice to do something, you are also choosing the consequence. It’s a package deal.</p> <p>Change a tyre<br />The NRMA and roadside service are a godsend for sure, but it takes only one time of having your car tyre go flat on a mountain road two hours away from the nearest town to make you realise the importance of knowing how to change a tyre. You won’t need to use this skill very often (we hope!) but it’s well worth the time spent learning it for the handful of times you do. After all, mountain roads are fun to drive!</p> <p>Have a face-to-face conversation<br />Communicating with another person while looking them in the eye may be humankind’s oldest skill, but in an age of FaceTime, texting and email we’re rapidly losing the talent for robust conversation. Yet nothing shows your interest and commitment more than simply talking with someone in person. Once the conversation is flowing, remember the golden ratio: 51 percent listening, 49 percent talking.</p> <p>Change a nappy<br />Babies are tiny, fragile humans that literally have holes in their skulls, so it makes sense that a lot of people are nervous to be left alone with them. But newborns not as breakable as they first seem, and learning a few basics, including changing a nappy, can go a long way toward making you look and feel like a competent caregiver. Even if you don’t have kids, knowing how to change a nappy can still come in handy in case of a babysitting emergency. Thankfully modern nappies make this a pretty painless process.</p> <p>Pay a bill<br />Paying your bills is Adulting 101, but it’s not as simple as handing over the money. You need to read through the bill and make sure it’s correct, check your bank balance for sufficient funds, ensure you’re paying it in a timely fashion, use the correct method, and make sure they got it and applied it correctly to your account.</p> <p>Do a load of laundry<br />Who doesn’t love the feel of freshly washed sheets? Or the look of white socks? Or the reassurance of clean underwear? No one, that’s who. The importance of learning how to properly use your washer and dryer cannot be overstated.</p> <p>A good work ethic<br />There comes a day in every young person’s life when no one is kicking them out of bed in the morning and telling them where to be and when. It’s a milestone moment when you realise it’s all on you to make sure you get to work, do all your work, and not do too much work – and then get ‘er done.</p> <p>Understand a lease agreement<br />Your parents probably didn’t make you sign a lease to live at home, but it’s likely that everyone you live with thereafter will have some paperwork waiting for your John Hancock. Unfortunately, leases can be full of legalese and tricky to read, often coming with ironclad provisions that can come back to bite you in the butt later if you don’t understand what you’re signing.</p> <p>Do your own taxes<br />Taxes have a bad rep for being hair-pulling, pillow-screaming, papers of frustration. And with good reason. But just because they’re complicated, boring and crazy-making doesn’t give you a pass on doing them. So why not skip the pain and just pay someone else to do them for you? Doing your own taxes, even if it’s just for one year, gives you vital insight into how your own finances work and a better understanding of how the government works.</p> <p>Cook a meal<br />Spaghetti counts. So does chicken and rice. Frozen pizza does not (sorry). Learning to make a meal, from selecting a recipe to shopping for ingredients, to cooking to clean-up, is a vital life skill for anyone who likes to eat. (So, everyone.) You don’t have to be a chef or even make something with more than five ingredients, but you’ll be amazed at how empowering and fun it can be to play around in the kitchen.</p> <p>Write a resume<br />Getting a job helps decide everything from where you live to what you eat to how happy you are, so pick a good one. Step one to getting your dream job? Crafting a solid resume.</p> <p>Shop for groceries<br />He’s making a list and he’s checking it twice – and we’re not talking about Santa, we’re talking about you. Walking into a store without a plan is the fastest way to blow your budget and end up home with three boxes of doughnuts and no milk. Making the effort to plan your meals, write an organised list, and shop from said list will save you money, time and frustration. To make it easier, keep a running list throughout the week, adding items as you go. Some pro shoppers find it helpful to make categories, like produce, dairy and frozen – so you don’t have to zigzag around the store to find all the stuff on your list.</p> <p>Have good table manners<br />Chew with your mouth closed. Know what fork is for which dish. Put a cloth napkin on your lap. Chew with your mouth closed. Don’t pick up food with your fingers. Don’t slurp your soup. Serve food from communal dishes to your plate, not your mouth. Oh, and did we mention chewing with your mouth closed? Make your mother proud and use your good table manners, whether you’re eating at home, at the local cafe, or a four-star restaurant.</p> <p>Drill a hole<br />Basic home repairs like drilling a hole, levelling a picture, unclogging a toilet, fixing a leaky tap, repairing small holes in drywall and other household fixes will make your life simpler and save your hard-earned cash.</p> <p>Navigating public transport<br />Cars are great but buses, trains, trams and ferries are a daily necessity for many city dwellers, so knowing how to use them efficiently is a handy skill. Even if you don’t live in an area where mass transit is a thing, knowing how to navigate public transportation can be a lifesaver when you travel, especially in foreign countries.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Charlotte Hilton Andersen. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/32-little-life-skills-everyone-needs-to-be-a-grown-up"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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Successful people do these 8 things each weekend

<p>Time management expert Laura Vanderkam reveals the subtle secrets to restorative and productive weekends in her book What Successful People Do Before Breakfast.</p> <p>Flex different skills<br />Your weekends need to feel different from your weekdays, which happens if you rotate in different activities and hobbies you don’t have time to do during the week, Laura Vanderkam shares in her book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. For examples, she notes that celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson plays soccer, television correspondent Bill McGowan chops firewood, and architect Rafael Vinoly plays piano. (Check out these other characteristics of wildly successful people.) Doing a different kind of labour allows your mind and body to recover from the typical stresses you encounter during the week.</p> <p>Plan it out<br />In today’s distracted world, no weekend plan likely means you’ll end up mindlessly watching television or browsing the internet. “Failing to think through what you wish to do on the weekend may make you succumb to the ‘I’m tired’ excuse that keeps you locked in the house,” she writes. You don’t need a micromanaged, minute-by-minute playbook, but sketch in three to five “anchor” activities. Planning also lets you savour the joy of anticipating something fun; psychology research shows we’re often happier anticipating an event, like a holiday, than we are during or after it.</p> <p>Do something fun on Sunday night<br />Dampen those Sunday night blues by giving yourself something to look forward to. “This extends the weekend and keeps you focused on the fun to come, rather than on Monday morning,” according to Vanderkam. You could make a tradition of a big dinner with your extended family, take an early-evening yoga class, or find a volunteer opportunity, such as serving meals to those less fortunate.</p> <p>Maximise your mornings<br />Weekend mornings tend to be wasted time, notes Vanderkam – cleaning up toys, throwing in laundry, flipping through programs you’ve recorded through the week. But if you’re willing to get up before your family, they’re great for personal pursuits, like training for a marathon. “It’s less disruptive for your family if you get up early to do your four-hour run than if you try to do it in the middle of the day,” she explains.</p> <p>Create traditions<br />Happy families often have special activities they do most weekends that don’t require special planning – Friday night pizza, a walk to religious services, Sunday morning pancakes. “These habits are what become memories,” she writes. “And comforting rituals boost happiness.”</p> <p>Schedule nap time<br />It’s not just for toddlers. Encouraging your whole family to have rest time in the mid- to late afternoon ensures you’ll actually take the time out of your busy schedules to let your body rest and recuperate.</p> <p>Compress chores<br />We know what you’re thinking: When else am I supposed to get errands done? Rather than let them take over your whole weekend, Vanderkam suggests that you designate a chore time, maybe on Saturday while you wait for the babysitter to come or for a designated period on Sunday mornings. “Giving yourself a small window makes you more motivated to get chores done quickly so you can move on to the fun things,” she writes.</p> <p>Cut down on tech<br />Even if you’re not religious, observing a “technology Sabbath” is good for your brain. “A stretch of time apart from the computer, phone and work stresses creates space for other things in life,” says Vanderkam. (It’s especially true if you show these signs you’re addicted to your phone.) Encouraging your whole family to put away their smartphones for a day, or even a few hours, forces you to have a different relationship with your spouse, friends, and kids. If you need to work on the weekends, consider a specific window to finish a project or sort through your inbox, rather than periodically checking and writing back to emails all day long.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by <span>Lauren Gelman</span>. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/successful-people-do-these-8-things-each-weekend"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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14 etiquette rules we should never have abandoned

<p>Good manners never go out of style<br />Good manners evolve, but they never go out of style. If you’re skipping these social niceties, your manners may need a makeover.</p> <p>RSVPing in a timely manner<br />Maybe it’s because people receive so many invitations or perhaps it’s because invites have become so casual, often sent via email or social media, but the fact is that RSVPing has become as rare as men removing their hats indoors. While the hat issue isn’t a big deal anymore, failing to respond to an invite is not just a breach of good etiquette but a breach of basic humanity, says etiquette expert and author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life, Diane Gottsman. “People need to buy food, plan entertainment, and other things that take significant cost and time,” she says. “Not RSVPing or waiting until the last minute makes the host’s job infinitely harder.”</p> <p>Taking off your sunglasses indoors<br />Go anywhere these days and you’re likely to see a variety of shaded eyes, even in indoor venues. Is everyone nursing a hangover, or is it just one more sign of our avoidance of others? “Unless you’re an A-list celebrity, don’t be shady: remove your sunglasses when greeting someone,” says etiquette expert and author of A Traveler’s Passport to Etiquette, Lisa Grotts. “Without eye contact, you can’t communicate properly, and looking at someone when they’re speaking increases understanding and shows respect.” If you’re outdoors, it’s fine to put your sunglasses on after you’ve greeted the person, but skip the shades when you’re indoors.</p> <p>Returning phone calls<br />Etiquette changes with the times and technology has forced some interesting compromises in this area, but not all of them are good. Take, for instance, the common practice of returning a phone call with a text. “Many people don’t like to talk on the phone and feel it is an inconvenience, but if someone has made the effort to call you, it is polite to call them back – with an actual phone call,” Gottsman says. “It’s easier to hear context, and complicated or sensitive information can be shared better via voice.”</p> <p>Waiting in line<br />Who isn’t in a hurry these days? Yet too many people feel like they’re entitled to special treatment and, as a result, they skip basic kindergarten-level niceties, like waiting in line and taking turns. Being late or impatient doesn’t mean you’re special and you get to cut to the front of the line, Grotts says. Ironically, people who jump the queue are often the ones who get the most upset when others take a shortcut. The bottom line about queues: treat others the way you’d like to be treated.</p> <p>Holding the lift<br />Too many people have developed an unfortunate wariness of strangers or have an attitude of ‘not my problem’ when they see someone else struggling in public. However, as long as safety isn’t an issue, you should still adhere to basic niceties, like holding the lift door for someone running down the hall, Gottsman says. “Many of us don’t even realise someone needs help because we’re looking at our phones,” she explains. “You should try to be mindful of others around you.”</p> <p>Being on time<br />Punctuality is a seriously underrated skill in today’s society. Even as things get more efficient and technology gets more accurate, it seems that we humans are finding more and more reasons to be late. This is very disrespectful, Grotts says. “When you are late, it says that your time is more important than everyone else’s.”</p> <p>Opening doors for men and women<br />Strange views of chivalry abound, but politeness is not gender-specific, Gottsman says. “Everyone appreciates not having a door slammed in their face, and it’s so easy to do. Why wouldn’t you do that small kindness?” She adds that it’s equally important for the person for whom the door is being opened to acknowledge the kindness with a ‘thank you’ or even just a nod. Note: You don’t have to hold open the door for the next 30 people.</p> <p>Remembering the little words<br />‘Please’. ‘Thank you’. ‘You’re welcome’. ‘May I?’ These simple words matter, Gotts says. “These basic social niceties can never be said too much and are the foundation of politeness,” she explains. “There is no excuse not to use them.”</p> <p>Asking permission first<br />This one may seem like a no-brainer, but we live in a society that seems to go by the motto ‘it’s better to apologise than ask permission’. People often assume consent and act accordingly – whether that’s hugging someone, posting a picture of them online, or snagging a taste of their food. “It’s polite to always ask permission before doing something to or for someone else,” says Bonnie Tsai, founder and director of Beyond Etiquette. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time or involve a formal contract. Getting permission can be as simple as asking, “Are you OK with this?”</p> <p>Sending thank-you notes<br />Everyone loves to be thanked, but hardly anyone seems to remember to do it these days. “Any way of saying thank you is wonderful, including a text or email,” Gottsman says. “But the gold standard is still a handwritten thank-you card.” Seeing your handwriting is meaningful to your loved ones, as is knowing that you took the time to do this. Plus, many people like to save these cards, and that’s much harder to do with an electronic thank-you.</p> <p>Minding your own business<br />Gossip makes for excellent television but terrible real-life relationships, and that fact is truer than ever in this age of constant information and instant communication. “You need to be so careful about what you say, both in public and private, about others,” says Gottsman. “Not only is it not polite to speak about others behind their backs, but it protects you as well. Remember: The internet is forever!”</p> <p>Standing when greeting someone new<br />When being introduced to someone new or greeting someone who’s coming into a group, it’s polite to stand to acknowledge them – and this is true for both men and women, Tsai says. “It shows that you are welcoming and also indicates respect.”</p> <p>Apologising, sincerely, in person<br />Watch any news channel and you’ll see many examples of faux-apologising – pretending to say they’re sorry while not actually accepting any responsibility or changing their behaviour. This is not only terrible etiquette but also counterproductive, Gottsman says. “If you’ve made a mistake, the right thing to do is to own up to it and apologise, sincerely, in person,” she says. If you’re too far away for this to be feasible, a phone call or video chat is the next best thing. Apologising over text almost never goes well since it’s too difficult to read tone and intent.</p> <p>Using good table manners<br />“Having proper table manners is sometimes seen as being ‘stuffy’ or ‘stuck up,’ but nothing could be further from the truth,” Gottsman says. “The whole point of practising good manners at the table is to ensure everyone has a positive, comfortable dining experience.” It’s not as tricky as you think.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by <span>Charlotte Hilton Andersen</span>. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/14-etiquette-rules-we-should-never-have-abandoned?pages=1"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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Don’t be afraid to pass your first language, and accent, to your kids. It could be their superpower

<p>Australia is a multicultural society. There are different traditions, cultures, accents and languages all over the country.</p> <p>The latest Census data show almost 30% of Australians speak a language other than English, or English and another language, at home.</p> <p>In our latest survey, we have had responses from 281 multilingual families across Australia, who speak a variety of languages at home. They include Arabic, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Teo Chew and Spanish.</p> <p>We found many first-generation migrant parents are hesitant to pass on their first language to their children. This is because they believe a different language at home will give their children a foreign accent. Yet some parents also feel if they speak English to their children, their children will pick up their own accented English.</p> <p>This can leave some parents in somewhat of a catch-22, feeling that no matter what, their children will be faced with the same discrimination as them.</p> <p>But it’s important to speak to your children in your own language, and your own accent. By being exposed to multiple ways of communicating, children learn multiple ways of thinking.</p> <p>They learn to understand that everyone plays different roles, has different identities; and that others may speak or look different.</p> <p><strong>Bias against foreign languages</strong><br />Research suggests people are highly biased in their preferences for certain accents and languages. According to the linguistic stereotyping hypothesis, hearing just a few seconds of an accent associated with a lower-prestige group can activate a host of associations.</p> <p>Hearing a stereotypical “foreign accent”, for example, can lead people to immediately think of that person as being uneducated, inarticulate or untrustworthy.</p> <p>These kinds of biases develop early in life. In a 2009 study, five-year-old children chose to be friends with native speakers of their native language rather than those who spoke a foreign language or had an accent.</p> <p>One hypothesis is that this is due to our broader survival mechanism. Babies learn early to tune in more to the voice of their caregiver rather than a stranger’s voice. This means they are better able to detect when they are in a dangerous situation.</p> <p>However, over time, these stranger-danger associations become stereotypes, which can lead us to hear or see what we expect. When we get older, we need to unlearn our biases that once kept us safe to become more accepting of others.In Australia, there is systematic discrimination towards speakers of Australian Aboriginal English, as well as towards speakers of “ethnolects”, which are a way of speaking characteristic of a particular ethnic group — such as Greek, Italian or Lebanese.</p> <p><span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/arabian-family-portrait-park-792334939" class="source"></a></span>When people hear these accents, they may think that person does not speak English well. But having an accent is special: it signals you are multilingual and you have the experience of having grown up with multiple cultural influences.</p> <p><strong>Accentuate the positive</strong><br />Many of the parents we surveyed felt hesitant to speak multiple languages at home, or felt their efforts were not being supported at school.</p> <p>One parent told us:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Instead of helping her (my daughter) develop the language, all primary teachers assessed her language in comparison with the monolinguals and demanded to cut the other languages “to improve” the school language.</em></p> <p><em>I would not have dared to experiment here in Australia with the kid’s second language. The peer pressure, the teacher’s pressure and the lack of language schools are main factors.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>But over the centuries, some of the world’s brightest people, such as author Joseph Conrad spoke with a strong accent. Many others, such as Vladimir Nabokov, Gustavo Pérez-Firmat and Eva Hoffman (who wrote Lost in Translation in her second language) harnessed the benefits of being bilingual to produce astounding literary works, drawing on the different “voices” in their heads to act out different characters.</p> <p>In this way, a second language can be a superpower.</p> <p>Children who can speak several languages tend to have higher levels of empathy. They also find it easier to learn languages later in life.</p> <p>Multilingual exposure facilitates interpersonal understanding among babies and young children. This social advantage appears to emerge from merely being exposed to multiple languages, rather than being bilingual per se.</p> <p>Being multilingual is also an amazing workout for the brain: speaking multiple languages throughout your life can help delay the onset of dementia and cognitive decline.</p> <p><br /><strong>Parents’ confidence translates to children</strong></p> <p>Research shows migrant parents who feel pressured to speak to their children in their non-native language feel less secure in their role as parents. But if they feel supported in using their first language, they feel more confident as parents, which in turn has a positive effect on children’s well-being.</p> <p>We found migrant parents who do raise their children in more than one language report feeling good about passing on their culture to their children, and feel they have given them an advantage in life. They also feel as though their children are more connected to their extended family.</p> <p><strong>So, what could you do?</strong><br />Here are some ways you could help your children keep their native language, and accent, alive:</p> <ul> <li> <p>check out your local library or BorrowBox for books or audiobooks in different languages</p> </li> <li> <p>connect with other multilingual families on social media for virtual or face-to-face playdates</p> </li> <li> <p>schedule video chats with grandparents and extended family members. Encourage them to speak their language with your child</p> </li> <li> <p>find out if your child’s preschool has a program for learning a new language, or check out <em>Little Multilingual Minds</em>. If your child is older, encourage them to take up a language in primary or high school. It’s never too late.</p> </li> </ul> <p>One parent shared their strategy for helping their child speak in different languages and accents:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>I play games with accents, one child is learning French, the other Italian, so I play games with them about the pronunciation of words and get them to teach me words in the language they are learning and emphasise the accent.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>We hope linguistic diversity becomes the status quo. This way, all children will gain cultural awareness and sensitivity. They will become more attuned to their evolving identities, and accept others may have identities different to their own.</p> <p><em>Written by Chloé Diskin-Holdaway and Paola Escudero. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/dont-be-afraid-to-pass-your-first-language-and-accent-to-your-kids-it-could-be-their-superpower-143093">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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