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Can you change your mind after you buy a house?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rosemary-gibson-1544081">Rosemary Gibson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>In the Bluey episode “<a href="https://iview.abc.net.au/show/bluey-the-sign">The Sign</a>”, the Heeler family enters a contract to sell their family home to a pair of English Sheepdogs, or as Bluey calls them, “the dogs with no eyes”.</p> <p>But towards the end of the episode, the Sheepdogs spy another house that they prefer. Unlike Bluey’s house, the new place has a pool.</p> <p>They telephone Bandit and tell him that they have changed their mind. Happily for Bluey’s family – and let’s face it, most of Australia – Bandit decides not to press ahead with the sale and the Heelers end up staying put in their family home.</p> <p>But aside from the fact that the contracting parties are all cartoon dogs – how realistic is this scenario? Is it possible to end a contract to purchase or sell a house simply because you’ve changed your mind?</p> <p>The reality is that once a contract of sale is signed, there are only limited circumstances in which buyers and sellers can bring the contract to an end.</p> <h2>What do you sign when buying or selling a house?</h2> <p>In Australia, each state and territory has its own standard form contract for the sale of land that buyers and sellers must sign.</p> <p>The terms of these contracts mirror relevant state or territory laws, meaning they differ throughout Australia. It is important for parties to obtain advice from a property lawyer with experience in a particular jurisdiction’s contract.</p> <h2>Can you change your mind after signing?</h2> <p>Once a contract has been signed, a buyer may only end it for a “change of mind” during the “cooling off period”. The cooling off period is a short period of time – usually between two and five business days – after the contract is signed.</p> <p>During this time, the buyer can end the contract, “no questions asked”. But there are usually financial consequences for terminating during the cooling off period.</p> <p>For example, in New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT, a buyer who ends the contract during the cooling off period must pay the seller 0.25% of the purchase price. For a house purchase of A$1 million, this termination penalty would be $2,500.</p> <p>But not all states and territories guarantee a cooling off period for buyers. And in such a hot property market, an individual seller may be unlikely to agree to include such a term in a contract.</p> <h2>What if something goes wrong down the track?</h2> <p>When negotiating the contract terms, the parties may agree that the sale is subject to certain conditions. Typically, these conditions are in the purchaser’s favour. If one of the conditions is not satisfied in time, then the contract can be brought to an end.</p> <p>It is up to the parties to negotiate which conditions (if any) are included in the contract, and the time by which the conditions must be satisfied. The most common conditions of sale are:</p> <ul> <li>the buyer obtains finance by a certain date (a finance clause)</li> <li>the buyer obtains satisfactory building and pest inspection reports by a certain date (a building and pest clause).</li> </ul> <p>The buyer may also want the sale to be subject to the buyer first selling an existing property.</p> <p>Once all of the conditions of sale are satisfied, the contract is said to be “unconditional”. From this time, there are no express circumstances in which either party may bring the contract to an end.</p> <p>When the Sheepdogs telephoned Bandit, the Heelers had already moved all their furniture out of the house. Clearly, the sale had already gone unconditional. There was no express basis on which the Sheepdogs could have terminated the contract.</p> <h2>Could the Heelers have sued for breach of contact?</h2> <p>A party who ends a contract without justification is liable to pay compensation to the other party.</p> <p>A house purchaser who wrongly terminates a contract would almost certainly lose their deposit. They may also be liable for additional losses the seller suffers as a result of the breach, including any deficiency in price on a resale of the property.</p> <p>But a buyer and seller may bring a contract to an end by “mutual agreement”, which seems to be what happened in Bluey. The Sheepdogs sought to end the contract and – to the relief of all Australians – the Heelers agreed.</p> <p>This is, however, unlikely to occur “in real life”, especially in today’s highly competitive property market.</p> <p>At the very least, the seller would be entitled to retain the purchaser’s deposit. There would also be the issue of who bears the costs incurred in advertising and agency fees.</p> <p>It seems Bandit followed his heart rather than the strict terms of the contract — and Australia is the better for it.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/234659/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rosemary-gibson-1544081">Rosemary Gibson</a>, Lecturer in Contract Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/can-you-change-your-mind-after-you-buy-a-house-234659">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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"Mind blowing": Michael J. Fox stuns with Coldplay performance

<p>British rock band Coldplay has made history at Glastonbury music festival this year, becoming the first band to headline the festival a record five times - and they had one special guest join them on stage. </p> <p>Fans were left in tears after Michael J. Fox hit the stage with Coldplay on Saturday to play the guitar during <em>Fix You</em> and <em>Humankind</em>. </p> <p>Chris Martin paid tribute to Michael and thanked him for being the "main reason" why the band was formed. </p> <p>"The main reason why we're in a band is because of watching <em>Back to the Future</em>, so thank you to our hero forever and one of the most amazing people on Earth, Mr Michael J. Fox. Thank you so much, Michael," he said, before welcoming the actor on stage. </p> <p>The actor, who is an avid musician and famously played the guitar in the iconic 1985 sci-fi movie, thanked his team and Coldplay for the incredible moment. </p> <p>"Glastonbury all the love and thanks to the @coldplay team who took such great care of us," his shared on Instagram. </p> <p> "Oh yeah in case you were wondering… it was f**king mind blowing. There is a time for every band and a band for every time. This is @coldplay's time. More pics to come," he added. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C82KTgiI95d/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C82KTgiI95d/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Michael J Fox (@realmikejfox)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Many fans were also left in tears following his surprise appearance. </p> <p>"Coldplay, wow just wow. What a show and Michael J. Fox, don't tell me you weren't in tears," wrote one fan on X. </p> <p>"Coldplay rocking Glastonbury and then bringing out Michael J. Fox will be the best thing I see all year," added another. </p> <p>"Coldplay bringing out Michael J. Fox is not what drunk me expected. Sobbing mess," added a third. </p> <p>"Michael J Fox bless his heart on stage with Coldplay," wrote a fourth. </p> <p><em>Images: BBC / YouTube </em></p> <p> </p>

Music

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Julian Assange was isolated for more than a decade. Here’s what that does to the body and mind

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carol-maher-217811">Carol Maher</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/johanna-badcock-995697">Johanna Badcock</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-western-australia-1067">The University of Western Australia</a></em></p> <p>Anyone who lived through the COVID pandemic would likely understand that even a small period of isolation can cause <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35787541/">physical and mental stress</a>.</p> <p>WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – <a href="https://theconversation.com/julian-assange-will-be-freed-after-striking-plea-deal-with-us-authorities-233210">who will return to Australia</a> after reaching a plea deal with the US Department of Justice – is <a href="https://www.afr.com/policy/foreign-affairs/his-health-is-very-risky-assange-s-brother-fears-for-his-life-20240327-p5ffjw">reported to have suffered</a> various mental and physical challenges during his almost 15 years in some form of isolation.</p> <p>Assange was first arrested in Britain in 2010 after Swedish authorities said they wanted to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2010/dec/17/julian-assange-sweden">question him over sex crime allegations</a>.</p> <p>After exhausting legal avenues to stop an extradition to Sweden, in June 2012 he entered <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/15/julian-assange-ecuador-london-embassy-how-he-became-unwelcome-guest">Ecuador’s embassy in London</a>, where he remained for seven years.</p> <p>In early 2019, he was <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN1S73H5/">jailed for skipping bail</a> and held at London’s Belmarsh prison where he spent most of the following five years fighting extradition to the US. Now, he’s coming home.</p> <p>While we have no idea how Assange is coping from being cooped up inside for so long with few visitors, we do know that isolation can have <a href="https://theconversation.com/my-own-prison-ordeal-gave-me-a-taste-of-what-assange-may-be-feeling-hes-out-but-the-chilling-effect-on-press-freedom-remains-233215">a severe negative impact</a> on many people.</p> <p><iframe id="qxq2l" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/qxq2l/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <h2>How physical inactivity impacts your body</h2> <p>Physical activity is vital for <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/articlepdf/2712935/jama_piercy_2018_sc_180005.pdf">overall health</a>. It keeps your heart strong, helps manage weight, and builds muscle and bone strength.</p> <p>Regular exercise also lifts your mood, reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, and sharpens your mind. Plus, it boosts your <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7195025/">immune system</a>, making you more resistant to infections and diseases.</p> <p>When you don’t move enough, especially in isolation, your health can take a hit. Muscles weaken and joints stiffen, making you less strong and flexible.</p> <p>Your <a href="https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/01.CIR.102.9.975">heart health</a> suffers, too, raising the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes because your heart isn’t getting the workout it needs.</p> <p>Metabolic issues such as obesity and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6908414/">type 2 diabetes</a> become more common with inactivity, especially if you don’t have access to healthy food.</p> <p>Isolation often means less fresh air and sunlight, both crucial for good health. Poor ventilation can lead to <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/8/2927/pdf">respiratory problems</a>. Lack of sunlight can cause <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-pdf/95/6/2630/9067013/jcem2630.pdf">vitamin D deficiency</a>, weakening bones and the immune system, and increasing the risk of fractures.</p> <p>These effects fit with the reports that Assange suffered a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2022/mar/23/today-i-will-marry-the-love-of-my-life-julian-assanges-fiancee">mini-stroke</a> in 2021 and a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2024/feb/18/julian-assange-press-freedom-wikileaks-uk-high-court">broken rib</a> from persistent coughing fits while in isolation.</p> <h2>What about mental health?</h2> <p>Social disconnection comes in two main forms, both of which have serious consequences for our mental health.</p> <p>The first is social isolation. The reasons for being isolated are many and varied, including geographical distance, lack of access to transport, or incarceration.</p> <p>The end result is the same: you have few relationships, social roles or group memberships, and limited social interaction.</p> <p>The second form of social disconnection is more invisible but just as harmful.</p> <p><a href="https://psychology.org.au/for-the-public/psychology-topics/loneliness">Loneliness</a> is that subjective, unpleasant feeling of wanting but lacking satisfying relationships with others.</p> <p>You can be isolated and not feel lonely, but the two are often unwelcome bedfellows.</p> <p>Social connection is not a luxury. It’s a fundamental need, as essential to our health as food and water.</p> <p>Just as hunger reminds us to eat, <a href="https://healthymale.org.au/health-article/what-is-loneliness-and-social-isolation">loneliness acts as a signal</a> alerting us that our social relationships are weak and need to be improved if we are to remain healthy.</p> <p>The science around the health impacts of social disconnection is clear, especially when it is prolonged. So much so, the World Health Organization recently launched a <a href="https://www.who.int/groups/commission-on-social-connection">Commission on Social Connection</a> to increase awareness of the impact of social isolation and loneliness on health and have it recognised as a global health priority.</p> <p>Substantial evidence shows social isolation and loneliness are linked to poorer cognitive functioning and an increased risk of dementia, though possibly in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9995915/">different ways</a>.</p> <p>Among adults aged 50 years and over, chronic (meaning persistent and severe) loneliness and social isolation may increase the risk of dementia by <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13651501.2021.1959616">around 50%</a>.</p> <p>A lack of cognitive stimulation that naturally occurs when interacting with others, whether it’s old friends or strangers, might explain <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9995915/">the link</a> between social isolation and cognitive difficulties (think “use it or lose it”).</p> <p>On the other hand, loneliness <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9995915/">may impact cognitive health</a> through its effects on emotional wellbeing. It’s <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-13049-9">a well-known risk factor</a> for developing depression, anxiety and suicidality.</p> <p>For instance, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35583561/">studies show</a> the chances of developing depression in adults is more than double in people who often feel lonely, compared with those who rarely or never feel lonely.</p> <p>Other research examining 500,000 middle-aged adults over nine years showed living alone doubled the risk of dying by suicide for men, while loneliness <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33096330">increased the risk of hospitalisation</a> for self-harm in both men and women.</p> <p>In a <a href="https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/surgeon-general-social-connection-advisory.pdf">2023 report</a>, the US Surgeon General’s advisory concluded:</p> <blockquote> <p>Given the totality of the evidence, social connection may be one of the strongest protective factors against self-harm and suicide among people with and without serious underlying mental health challenges.</p> </blockquote> <h2>What about after release?</h2> <p>When a person leaves long-term isolation, they’ll face many challenges as they re-enter society.</p> <p>The world will have changed. There’s a lot to catch up on, from technological advancements to shifts in social norms.</p> <p>In addition to these broader changes, there’s a need to focus on rebuilding physical and mental health. Health issues that developed during isolation can <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30460-8/fulltext?cid=in%3Adisplay%3Alfhtn0&amp;dclid=CNKCgb7nle0CFVUkjwodG0YCkg">persist or worsen</a>. A weakened immune system might struggle with new infections in a post-COVID world.</p> <p>To navigate this transition, it’s important to establish a routine that includes regular exercise, nutritious meals and comprehensive medical and psychological care.</p> <p>Gradually increasing social interactions can also help in rebuilding relationships and social connections. These steps are supportive in restoring overall health and wellbeing in a changed world.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/233214/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carol-maher-217811">Carol Maher</a>, Professor, Medical Research Future Fund Emerging Leader, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/johanna-badcock-995697">Johanna Badcock</a>, Adjunct Professor, School of Psychological Science | Freelance Research Consultant, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-western-australia-1067">The University of Western Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Ray Tang/Shutterstock Editorial </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/julian-assange-was-isolated-for-more-than-a-decade-heres-what-that-does-to-the-body-and-mind-233214">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Mind

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Out of the rabbit hole: new research shows people can change their minds about conspiracy theories

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matt-williams-666794">Matt Williams</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/massey-university-806">Massey University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-kerr-1073102">John Kerr</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mathew-marques-14884">Mathew Marques</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em></p> <p>Many people <a href="https://theconversation.com/was-phar-lap-killed-by-gangsters-new-research-shows-which-conspiracies-people-believe-in-and-why-158610">believe at least one</a> conspiracy theory. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing – conspiracies <em>do</em> happen.</p> <p>To take just one example, the CIA really did engage in <a href="https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/13/cia-mind-control-1266649">illegal experiments</a> in the 1950s to identify drugs and procedures that might produce confessions from captured spies.</p> <p>However, many conspiracy theories are not supported by evidence, yet still attract believers.</p> <p>For example, in a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12746">previous study</a>, we found about 7% of New Zealanders and Australians agreed with the theory that <a href="https://www.earthdata.nasa.gov/learn/sensing-our-planet/on-the-trail-of-contrails">visible trails behind aircraft</a> are “chemtrails” of chemical agents sprayed as part of a secret government program. That’s despite the theory being <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/8/084011">roundly rejected</a> by the scientific community.</p> <p>The fact that conspiracy theories attract believers despite a lack of credible evidence remains a puzzle for researchers in psychology and other academic disciplines.</p> <p>Indeed, there has been a great deal of research on conspiracy theories published in the past few years. We now know more about how many people believe them, as well as the psychological and political factors that <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-25617-0">correlate with that belief</a>.</p> <p>But we know much less about how often people change their minds. Do they do so frequently, or do they to stick tenaciously to their beliefs, regardless of what evidence they come across?</p> <h2>From 9/11 to COVID</h2> <p>We set out to answer this question using a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-024-51653-z">longitudinal survey</a>. We recruited 498 Australians and New Zealanders (using the <a href="http://prolific.com">Prolific</a> website, which recruits people to take part in paid research).</p> <p>Each month from March to September 2021, we presented our sample group with a survey, including ten conspiracy theories, and asked them how much they agreed with each one.</p> <p>All of these theories related to claims about events that are either ongoing, or occurred this millennium: the September 11 attacks, the rollout of 5G telecommunications technology, and COVID-19, among others.</p> <p>While there were definitely some believers in our sample, most participants disagreed with each of the theories.</p> <p>The most popular theory was that “pharmaceutical companies (‘Big Pharma’) have suppressed a cure for cancer to protect their profits”. Some 18% of the sample group agreed when first asked.</p> <p>The least popular was the theory that “COVID-19 ‘vaccines’ contain microchips to monitor and control people”. Only 2% agreed.</p> <h2>Conspiracy beliefs probably aren’t increasing</h2> <p>Despite contemporary concerns about a “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7320252/">pandemic of misinformation</a>” or “<a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30461-X/fulltext">infodemic</a>”, we found no evidence that individual beliefs in conspiracy theories increased on average over time.</p> <p>This was despite our data collection happening during the tumultuous second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns were still happening occasionally in both <a href="https://www.timeout.com/melbourne/things-to-do/a-timeline-of-covid-19-in-australia-two-years-on">Australia</a> and <a href="https://covid19.govt.nz/about-our-covid-19-response/history-of-the-covid-19-alert-system/">New Zealand</a>, and anti-government sentiment was building.</p> <p>While we only tracked participants for six months, <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0270429">other studies</a> over much longer time frames have also found little evidence that beliefs in conspiracy theories are increasing over time.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe class="flourish-embed-iframe" style="width: 100%; height: 600px;" title="Interactive or visual content" src="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/16665395/embed" width="100%" height="400" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" sandbox="allow-same-origin allow-forms allow-scripts allow-downloads allow-popups allow-popups-to-escape-sandbox allow-top-navigation-by-user-activation"></iframe></p> <div style="width: 100%!; margin-top: 4px!important; text-align: right!important;"><a class="flourish-credit" href="https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16665395/?utm_source=embed&amp;utm_campaign=visualisation/16665395" target="_top"><img src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/made_with_flourish.svg" alt="Made with Flourish" /></a></div> <hr /> <p>Finally, we found that beliefs (or non-beliefs) in conspiracy theories were stable – but not completely fixed. For any given theory, the vast majority of participants were “consistent sceptics” – not agreeing with the theory at any point.</p> <p>There were also some “consistent believers” who agreed at every point in the survey they responded to. For most theories, this was the second-largest group.</p> <p>Yet for every conspiracy theory, there was also a small proportion of converts. They disagreed with the theory at the start of the study, but agreed with it by the end. There was also a small proportion of “apostates” who agreed with the theory at the start, but disagreed by the end.</p> <p>Nevertheless, the percentages of converts and apostates tended to balance each other pretty closely, leaving the percentage of believers fairly stable over time.</p> <h2>Inside the ‘rabbit hole’</h2> <p>This relative stability is interesting, because <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/2564659">one criticism</a> of conspiracy theories is that they may not be “<a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/criterion-of-falsifiability">falsifiable</a>”: what seems like evidence against a conspiracy theory can just be written off by believers as part of the cover up.</p> <p>Yet people clearly <em>do</em> sometimes decide to reject conspiracy theories they previously believed.</p> <p>Our findings bring into question the popular notion of the “rabbit hole” – that people rapidly develop beliefs in a succession of conspiracy theories, much as Alice tumbles down into Wonderland in Lewis Carroll’s <a href="https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11">famous story</a>.</p> <p>While it’s possible this does happen for a small number of people, our results suggest it isn’t a typical experience.</p> <p>For most, the <a href="https://www.latrobe.edu.au/news/articles/2023/opinion/how-to-talk-to-someone-about-conspiracy-theories">journey into</a> conspiracy theory belief might involve a more gradual slope – a bit like a <a href="https://zslpublications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdfdirect/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1985.tb05649.x">real rabbit burrow</a>, from which one can also emerge.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Mathew Ling (<a href="https://www.neaminational.org.au/">Neami National</a>), Stephen Hill (Massey University) and Edward Clarke (Philipps-Universität Marburg) contributed to the research referred to in this article.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222507/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <hr /> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matt-williams-666794">Matt Williams</a>, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/massey-university-806">Massey University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-kerr-1073102">John Kerr</a>, Senior Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mathew-marques-14884">Mathew Marques</a>, Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/out-of-the-rabbit-hole-new-research-shows-people-can-change-their-minds-about-conspiracy-theories-222507">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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It’s normal for your mind to wander. Here’s how to maximise the benefits

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dr-anchal-garg-1491247">Dr Anchal Garg</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bruce-watt-1486350">Bruce Watt</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p>Have you ever found yourself thinking about loved ones during a boring meeting? Or going over the plot of a movie you recently watched during a drive to the supermarket?</p> <p>This is the cognitive phenomenon known as “<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2011.01.002">mind wandering</a>”. Research suggests it can account for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0044423">up to 50%</a> of our waking cognition (our mental processes when awake) in both <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1192439">western and non-western societies</a>.</p> <p>So what can help make this time productive and beneficial?</p> <h2>Mind wandering is not daydreaming</h2> <p>Mind wandering is often used interchangeably with daydreaming. They are both considered types of inattention but are not the same thing.</p> <p>Mind wandering is related to a primary task, such as reading a book, listening to a lecture, or attending a meeting. The mind <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00560/full">withdraws</a> from that task and focuses on internally generated, unrelated thoughts.</p> <p>On the other hand, daydreaming does not involve a primary, active task. For example, daydreaming would be thinking about an ex-partner while travelling on a bus and gazing out the window. Or lying in bed and thinking about what it might be like to go on a holiday overseas.</p> <p>If you were driving the bus or making the bed and your thoughts diverted from the primary task, this would be classed as mind wandering.</p> <h2>The benefits of mind wandering</h2> <p>Mind wandering is believed to play an important role in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797612446024">generating new ideas</a>, conclusions or insights (also known as “aha! moments”). This is because it can give your mind a break and free it up to think more creatively.</p> <p>This type of creativity does not always have to be related to creative pursuits (such as writing a song or making an artwork). It could include a new way to approach a university or school assignment or a project at work.<br />Another benefit of mind wandering is relief from boredom, providing the opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/a0031569">mentally retreat</a> from a monotonous task.</p> <p>For example, someone who does not enjoy washing dishes could think about their upcoming weekend plans while doing the chore. In this instance, mind wandering assists in “passing the time” during an uninteresting task.</p> <p>Mind wandering also tends to be future-oriented. This can provide an opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2011.08.007">reflect upon and plan</a> future goals, big or small. For example, what steps do I need to take to get a job after graduation? Or, what am I going to make for dinner tomorrow?</p> <h2>What are the risks?</h2> <p>Mind wandering is not always beneficial, however. It can mean you miss out on crucial information. For example, there could be disruptions in learning if a student engages in mind wandering during a lesson that covers exam details. Or an important building block for learning.</p> <p>Some tasks also require a lot of concentration in order to be safe. If you’re thinking about a recent argument with a partner while driving, you run the risk of having an accident.</p> <p>That being said, it can be more difficult for some people to control their mind wandering. For example, mind wandering is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.112901">more prevalent</a> in people with ADHD.</p> <h2>What can you do to maximise the benefits?</h2> <p>There are several things you can do to maximise the benefits of mind wandering.</p> <ul> <li><strong>be aware</strong>: awareness of mind wandering allows you to take note of and make use of any productive thoughts. Alternatively, if it is not a good time to mind wander it can help bring your attention back to the task at hand</li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p><strong>context matters</strong>: try to keep mind wandering to non-demanding tasks rather than demanding tasks. Otherwise, mind wandering <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00441">could be unproductive</a> or unsafe. For example, try think about that big presentation during a car wash rather than when driving to and from the car wash</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>content matters</strong>: if possible, try to keep the content positive. Research <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00900">has found</a>, keeping your thoughts more positive, specific and concrete (and less about “you”), is associated with better wellbeing. For example, thinking about tasks to meet upcoming work deadlines could be more productive than ruminating about how you felt stressed or failed to meet past deadlines.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219490/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> </li> </ul> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dr-anchal-garg-1491247"><em>Dr Anchal Garg</em></a><em>, Psychology researcher, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bruce-watt-1486350">Bruce Watt</a>, Associate Professor in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty </em><em>Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/its-normal-for-your-mind-to-wander-heres-how-to-maximise-the-benefits-219490">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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Are catnip and treats like it safe for cats? Here’s how they affect their minds and moods

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mia-cobb-15211">Mia Cobb</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anne-quain-12802">Anne Quain</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Cats kept indoors can <a href="https://safeandhappycats.com.au/">live a good life</a> when they get access to a variety of positive experiences. Examples include performing natural behaviours, feeling safe at home and using their full sensory capabilities, including their sense of smell.</p> <p>Plants such as catnip, cat thyme and silver vine are potent smelly stimulants that can affect cat minds and moods.</p> <p>Ever wondered if these mind-altering substances are safe gifts for our feline friends? And importantly, is it OK to provide these, or is offering catnip to a cat like offering alcohol to a child?</p> <h2>Catnip, cat thyme and silver vine, oh my!</h2> <p>Owners who are concerned about their cats feeling bored and frustrated might offer them fresh or dried catnip (<em>Nepeta cataria</em>), silver vine (<em>Actinidia polygama</em>), cat thyme (<em>Teucrium marum</em>) or other plant materials such as valerian (<em>Valeriana officinalis</em>) and Tatarian honeysuckle (<em>Lonicera tatarica</em>). These last couple <a href="https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-017-0987-6">could offer an alternative</a> if your cat doesn’t respond to catnip.</p> <p>Toys filled with the leaves or extracts of these plants can cause apparently euphoric behaviour in domestic cats (as well as big cats like leopards and jaguars). Not all cats respond this way to these smells, which is <a href="https://bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12915-022-01369-1">believed to have a genetic basis</a>.</p> <h2>Are these treats safe for cats?</h2> <p>Cats have a highly developed sense of smell. Some plants release chemical compounds to deter insects or to attract predators of insects that might otherwise destroy them. This includes <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.aba0721">nepetalactone</a>, an ingredient isolated from catnip and silver vine.</p> <p>Indeed, <a href="https://www.science.org/content/article/why-cats-are-crazy-catnip">it has been argued </a> that exposure to nepetalactone leads to an increase in feel-good hormones in cats. It may also act as a <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abd9135">natural mosquito repellent</a> (note that it does not repel all mosquitoes and is not effective for flea or tick control).</p> <p>This may be why sniffing catnip, silver vine and some other plants causes cats to roll on their backs and rub their chins, cheeks and bodies on the plants. Other <a href="https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-017-0987-6">observed behaviours</a> include: licking, shaking their head while carrying plant material in their mouth, drooling, kicking the plant material with their hind feet, and a “wavelike” motion of the skin over their backs as muscles contract and relax.</p> <p>These responses <a href="https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-017-0987-6">generally don’t last long</a>, usually seconds to minutes, before cats relax or resume their normal behaviour.</p> <p>Rather than becoming addicted to these substances, cats are more likely to become habituated and desensitised, with the plants having less effect over time. When sniffed, these plants <a href="https://www.cell.com/iscience/fulltext/S2589-0042(23)01925-9">appear</a> to have <a href="https://bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12915-022-01369-1">no adverse effects</a> on cats.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yNUz4zQTA1E?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Cats (and a dog!) react to the active compound in catnip and silver vine, nepetalactone.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Is it ethical to alter the minds of our cats?</h2> <p>When considering how to improve the lives of animals we care for, we tend to focus on whether the benefits outweigh the potential harms.</p> <p>Despite some marketing claims that these plants activates the brain’s opioid system, delivering a “natural high” for cats, there is no evidence these substances actually alter the minds of cats in the same way as alcohol or other drugs alter the minds of humans.</p> <p>The marketing of these cat treats as “kitty crack” or “<a href="https://www.meowijuana.com/">meowijuana</a>” and silver vine sticks as “<a href="https://www.nekopiapets.com.au/product-page/joycat-cat-cigarettes-silvervine-stick">kitty cigarettes</a>” is likely to deter some people from offering their cats <a href="https://bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12915-022-01369-1">this kind of olfactory stimulation</a>.</p> <p>Unlike offering alcohol to a child, though, the evidence suggests our cats are OK when given access to these treats. These items won’t induce psychosis and won’t lead to addiction or withdrawal symptoms. And we don’t need to worry about our cats operating heavy machinery or making important decisions under the influence of mind-altering substances!</p> <p>Provided they can walk away at any time, it seems reasonable to let them opt in to a fun time.</p> <p>In fact, we harness the power of cats’ sense of smell in other ways by using <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6435919/">synthetic feline facial pheromones</a>. This can help reduce fear, anxiety and distress in cats. These substances can come in useful in settings such as multi-cat households or when moving house.</p> <h2>How to make sure your cat has the purr-fect time</h2> <p>Offering a range of smells (olfactory stimulation) is just one way to ensure your cat has a varied and interesting life. Here are some tips:</p> <ul> <li> <p>offer cats choices to interact with treats and toys – don’t force them</p> </li> <li> <p>rotate the toys and experiences on offer, so every day offers something fresh</p> </li> <li> <p>offer items that cats can scratch – scratching posts and corrugated cardboard are popular items</p> </li> <li> <p>if you are concerned your cat has swallowed part of a toy or seems unwell, check in with your vet.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Given the short-lived effects of these plant-based olfactory stimulants on cats, it is important that we <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159119301054">optimise their environment, lifestyle and interactions</a> with humans to improve their welfare. We can’t just rely on catnip or silver vine to give our cats a good life indoors – it’s really up to us!<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/214947/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mia-cobb-15211"><em>Mia Cobb</em></a><em>, Research Fellow, Animal Welfare Science Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anne-quain-12802">Anne Quain</a>, Senior Lecturer, Sydney School of Veterinary Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-catnip-and-treats-like-it-safe-for-cats-heres-how-they-affect-their-minds-and-moods-214947">original article</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

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How do I stop my mind racing and get some sleep?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alexander-sweetman-1331085">Alexander Sweetman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a></em></p> <p>Martin turns off the light to fall asleep, but his mind quickly springs into action. Racing thoughts about work deadlines, his overdue car service, and his father’s recent surgery occupy his mind.</p> <p>As he struggles to fall asleep, the hours start to creep by. He becomes frustrated about how he will cope tomorrow. This is a pattern Martin has struggled with for many years.</p> <p>But what’s going on when your mind is racing at night? And how do you make it stop?</p> <h2>It can happen to anyone</h2> <p>In bed, with no other visual or sound cues to occupy the mind, many people start to have racing thoughts that keep them awake. This can happen at the start of the night, or when they awake in the night.</p> <p>The good news is there are effective ways to reduce these racing thoughts, and to help get some sleep. To do this, let’s take a step back and talk about insomnia.</p> <h2>What is insomnia?</h2> <p>If you are like Martin, you’re not alone. Right now, up to six in every ten people have regular <a href="https://www.sleepprimarycareresources.org.au/insomnia/epidemiology">insomnia symptoms</a>. One in ten have had these symptoms for months or years.</p> <p>Insomnia includes trouble falling asleep at the start of the night, waking up during the night, and feelings of daytime fatigue, concentration difficulties, lethargy or poor mood.</p> <p>Just like Martin, many people with insomnia find as soon as they get into bed, they feel alert and wide awake. So what’s going on?</p> <p>The more time we spend in bed doing things other than sleep, the more our brain and body start to learn that bed is a place for these non-sleep activities.</p> <p>These activities don’t just include worrying. They can be using a mobile phone, watching TV, eating, working, arguing, smoking or playing with pets.</p> <p>Gradually, our brains can learn that bed is a place for these other activities instead of rest and sleep. Over time the simple act of getting into bed can become a trigger to feel more alert and awake. This is called “<a href="https://www.med.upenn.edu/cbti/assets/user-content/documents/ppsmmodelsofinsomnia20115theditionproof.pdf">conditioned insomnia</a>”.</p> <p>Here are six ways to spend less time awake in bed with racing thoughts.</p> <h2>1. Re-learn to associate bed with sleep</h2> <p><a href="https://www.sleepprimarycareresources.org.au/insomnia/bbti/insomnia-stimulus-control-therapy">Stimulus control therapy</a> can <a href="https://www.med.upenn.edu/cbti/assets/user-content/documents/Bootzin%201972.pdf">help</a> re-build the relationship between bed and sleep.</p> <p>Follow these simple steps every night of the week:</p> <ul> <li> <p>only use your bed for sleep and intimacy. All other activities should occur out of bed, preferably in another room</p> </li> <li> <p>only go to bed if you are feeling sleepy (when your eyes are heavy and you could easily fall asleep). If you are not feeling sleepy, delay getting into bed. Use this time to do something relaxing in another room</p> </li> <li> <p>if you are still awake after about 15 minutes in bed, get out of bed and go to another room. Do something else relaxing until you are feeling sleepy again, such as reading a book, listening to the radio, catching up on some chores or doing a crossword puzzle. Avoid anything too stimulating such as work or computer gaming</p> </li> <li> <p>repeat the above two steps until you are asleep within about 15 minutes. This can take several cycles of getting in and out of bed. But during this time, you body’s natural need for sleep will increase, and you will eventually fall asleep within 15 minutes of getting into bed</p> </li> <li> <p>get out of bed at the same time each morning, no matter how much you slept the night before</p> </li> <li> <p>avoid long daytime naps, which can make it harder to fall asleep that night.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Over several nights, this therapy builds the relationship between bed and sleep, and reduces the relationship between bed and feeling alert and having racing thoughts.</p> <h2>2. Distract yourself with fond thoughts</h2> <p>Negative thoughts in bed or worrying about the consequences of losing sleep can make us feel more alert, worried, and make it more difficult to sleep.</p> <p>So try something called “<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2012.07.004">cognitive re-focusing</a>”. Try to replay a fond memory, movie, or TV show in your mind, to distract yourself from these negative thoughts.</p> <p>Ideally, this will be a memory you can recall very clearly, and one that causes neutral or slightly positive feelings. Memories that are overly positive or negative might cause an increase in alertness and mental activity.</p> <h2>3. Relax into sleep</h2> <p><a href="https://www.sleepprimarycareresources.org.au/insomnia/bbti/insomnia-relaxation-techniques">Relaxation therapy</a> for insomnia aims to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B9780123815224000043">reduce alertness</a> and improve sleep.</p> <p>One way is to progressively tense and relax muscle groups throughout your body, known as <a href="https://youtu.be/pyxvL1O2duk">guided progressive muscle relaxation therapy</a>.</p> <p>You could also try breathing exercises, soothing music, visual imagery or other <a href="https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-for-insomnia-cbt-i.html">relaxation exercises</a> that feel right for you.</p> <p>Part of relaxing into sleep is avoiding doing work in the late evening or screen-based activities right before bed. Give yourself a “buffer zone”, to allow yourself time to start relaxing before getting into bed.</p> <h2>4. Worry earlier in the day</h2> <p>Schedule some “<a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201811/simple-effective-trick-stop-worrying-so-much">worry time</a>” earlier in the day, so these thoughts don’t happen at night. It can also help to write down some of the things that worry you.</p> <p>If you start to worry about things during the night, you can remind yourself you have already written them down, and they are waiting for you to work through during your scheduled “worry time” the next day.</p> <h2>5. Know waking in the night is normal</h2> <p>Knowing that brief awakenings from sleep are completely normal, and not a sign of ill health, may help.</p> <p>Sleep occurs in different “cycles” during the night. Each cycle lasts for about 90 minutes, and includes different stages of light, deep, and dreaming (REM) sleep.</p> <p>Most of our deep sleep occurs in the first half of the night, and most of our light sleep in the second half.</p> <p>Everyone experiences brief awakenings from sleep, but most people don’t remember these the next morning.</p> <h2>6. What if these don’t work?</h2> <p>If these don’t work, the most effective next step is “cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia” or CBT-i.</p> <p>This non-drug therapy targets the underlying causes of insomnia, and leads to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2019.08.002">long-lasting improvements</a> in sleep, mental health and daytime function.</p> <p>You can do a self-guided online program, or access it via your GP or a psychologist. More details, including links to online programs, are available via the <a href="https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-for-insomnia-cbt-i.html">Sleep Health Foundation</a>.</p> <p>We are providing free access to online CBT-i through a research study. To find out more, <a href="https://www.flinders.edu.au/people/alexander.sweetman">contact me</a>.</p> <hr /> <p><em>The Sleep Health Foundation has several <a href="https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/fact-sheets.html">evidence-based resources</a> about sleep health and insomnia.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/207904/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alexander-sweetman-1331085">Alexander Sweetman</a>, Research Fellow, College of Medicine and Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-do-i-stop-my-mind-racing-and-get-some-sleep-207904">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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8 mind-boggling facts about your favourite flowers and plants

<p>We’ve found some fun, quirky and downright mind-boggling facts about our favourite flowers and plants.</p> <p>1. A sunflower is not just one flower. Each head is composed of hundreds of tiny flowers, called florets, held together on a single seed. This is the case for all plants in the sunflower family, including daises.</p> <p>2. Apples, pears, peaches, cherries, raspberries, strawberries and more are actually in the rose family, making them cousins to the long-stemmed flower of love.</p> <p>3. During the 1600s, tulips were so valuable in Holland that their bulbs were worth more than gold. No wonder the Netherlands is known for their tulips!</p> <p>4. Bamboo is the fasted-growing woody plant in the world. The current Guinness World Record title is held by a certain species of the 45 genera of bamboo, which have been found to grow at up to 91 cm per day or at a rate of 0.00003 km/h.</p> <p>5. Strawberries are the only fruit that bears its seeds on the outside. It has on average 200 seeds.</p> <p>6. The oldest known flower was discovered in 2002, in northeast China. The flower, named archaefructus sinensis, bloomed around 125 million years ago and resembles a water lily.</p> <p>7. The titan arum is the world’s largest flower. The circumference of the flower can be over three metres and a single leaf can grow to the size of a small tree. However, it smells horribly like rotten flesh, earning its nickname of corpse flower.</p> <p>8. You can change the colour of your hydrangeas by altering the pH level of the soil. Alkaline soil will create pinker blooms, while a more acidic soil will produce blue blooms.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Instagram</em></p> <p><strong>Related links:</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="../lifestyle/gardening/2015/05/gardening-and-soil-ph/">What you need to know about your soil’s pH levels</a></strong></em></span></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="../lifestyle/gardening/2015/05/over60-community-gardens-part-4/">Take a look inside the beautiful gardens of the Over60 community</a></strong></em></span></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="../lifestyle/gardening/2015/06/attracting-birds-to-the-garden/">Top tips for attracting birds to the garden</a></strong></em></span></p>

Home & Garden

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Meet the revolutionary beauty brand who are keeping kindness in mind

<p dir="ltr">As the beauty market continues to be flooded with new products, new trends and new ingredients that claim to change your life, it's easy to get lost in the overwhelming choices. </p> <p dir="ltr">Due to all this noise, many beauty consumers are trying to unveil the honest truth about what is going into their makeup and skincare, as priorities are shifting to include multi-use products to simplify daily beauty routines. </p> <p dir="ltr">On top of this, the majority of consumers are looking to support businesses that have a key focus on sustainability. </p> <p dir="ltr">Enter: The KIND Collective. </p> <p dir="ltr">This proudly Australian owned and female-operated business is on a mission to add conscious driven, multi-purpose cosmetic products to everyone’s beauty repertoire without breaking the bank. </p> <p dir="ltr">This is why The KIND Collective makes products that are more than just pretty to wear, but contain nourishing, native ingredients that have been mindfully selected.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CnjI1cZMCDm/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CnjI1cZMCDm/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by The KIND Collective (@thekindcollectiveaustralia)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">The KIND Collective are also cruelty-free, 100% vegan and are PETA accredited, helping customers indulge in guilt-free beauty. </p> <p dir="ltr">This revolutionary brand has also joined more than 500 B Corp Certified Australian and New Zealand businesses, with only 20 companies being certified in the skin, nail and hair space. </p> <p dir="ltr">This certification assessment measures a business’s ongoing impact on its workers, community and suppliers, while ensuring it is delivering its best for both customers and the environment. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CrcJ1euShUa/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CrcJ1euShUa/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by The KIND Collective (@thekindcollectiveaustralia)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Brand co-founder Lynda Chapman believes it is important for businesses to do their part both locally and internationally but looking at their social and environmental impact.</p> <p dir="ltr">She said, “Today consumers are demanding more from businesses and I think that is an amazing thing! We have always believed that a business has the power to create positive change… and we are so excited to be part of this global movement of businesses that are using their power to be a force of good.” </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/Ci6s1HaMGc6/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/Ci6s1HaMGc6/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by The KIND Collective (@thekindcollectiveaustralia)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">You can pick up all your makeup and skincare needs from The KIND Collective on their <a href="https://www.thekindcollectiveaustralia.com/collections/bundles">official website</a>, or in-store at <a href="https://www.priceline.com.au/brand/kind-cosmetics">Priceline</a>, <a href="https://www.bigw.com.au/health-beauty/makeup-cosmetics/c/6220?filter%5BbrandName%5D=Kind+Collective">Big W</a>, and select <a href="https://terrywhitechemmart.com.au/">Terry White</a> chemists. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Instagram</em></p>

Beauty & Style

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Be careful around the home – children say Alexa has emotions and a mind of its own

<p>Is technology ticklish? Can a smart speaker get scared? And does the robot vacuum mind if you put it in the cupboard when you go on holidays?</p> <div> <p>Psychologists from Duke University in the US asked young children some pretty unusual questions to better understand how they perceive different technologies.</p> <p>The researchers interviewed 127 children aged 4 – 11 years old visiting a science museum with their families. They asked a series of questions seeking children’s opinions on whether technologies – including an Amazon Alexa smart speaker, a Roomba vacuum cleaner and a Nao humanoid robot – can think, feel and act on purpose, and whether it was ok to neglect, yell or mistreat them.</p> <p>In general, the children thought Alexa was more intelligent than a Roomba, but believed neither technology should be yelled at or harmed. </p> <p>Lead author Teresa Flanagan says “even without a body, young children think the Alexa has emotions and a mind.” </p> <p>“Kids don’t seem to think a Roomba has much mental abilities like thinking or feeling,” she says. “But kids still think we should treat it well. We shouldn’t hit or yell at it even if it can’t hear us yelling.”</p> <p>Overall, children rejected the idea that technologies were ticklish and or could feel pain. But they thought Alexa might get upset after someone is mean to it.</p> <p>While all children thought it was wrong to mistreat technology, the survey results suggest the older children were, the more likely they were to consider it slightly more acceptable to harm technology.</p> <p>Children in the study gave different justifications for why they thought it wasn’t ok to hurt technology. One 10-year-old said it was not okay to yell at the technology because, “the microphone sensors might break if you yell too loudly,” whereas another 10-year-old said it was not okay because “the robot will actually feel really sad.”</p> <p>The researchers say the study’s findings offer insights into the evolving relationship between children and technology and raise important questions about the ethical treatment of AI and machines in general. For example, should parents model good behaviour for by thanking technologies for their help?</p> <p>The results are <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/dev0001524" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">published</a> in <em>Developmental Psychology</em>. </p> </div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/be-careful-around-the-home-children-say-alexa-has-emotions-and-a-mind-of-its-own/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Petra Stock. </em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p> </div>

Technology

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The truth about the effects of stress on the mind and body

<p>Worried. Anxious. Disheartened. Busy. If any of these are familiar to you, it’s likely you are also familiar with stress. By now it’s no secret that stress does more harm than good. Work/retirement, family life, finances, personal and societal pressures... there are a million reasons why we all get frazzled, and they all can take a toll.</p> <p>In an effort to better understand how this unease can affect our mind and body, Popular Science magazine took a closer look at the science behind worrying in this month’s issue. Here we’ve rounded up the key learnings and statistics about how stress can shape our lives – and what to do about it.</p> <p><strong>Stress runs deep</strong></p> <p>Unfortunately the emotions associated with stress don’t just affect us on the outside. Stress can actually influence us on a <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.popsci.com/chronic-stress-it-could-be-killing-you" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cellular level and even mess with our biological systems</a></strong></span>. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard University social psychologist, explains it like this: “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change outcomes."</p> <p>Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.popsci.com/chronic-stress-it-could-be-killing-you" target="_blank" rel="noopener">can negatively affect our cardiovascular system, cells, metabolic system, nervous system and digestive system</a></strong></span>. Chronic worry may also increase our risk for heart attack, contribute to irritable bowl syndrome or could lead to changes in the brain.</p> <p><strong>It’s a matter of the mind, too</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.popsci.com/chronic-stress-it-could-be-killing-you" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>According to Popular Science magazine</strong></span>, </a>30 percent of US adults say stress affects their physical health and 33 percent say it has an impact on their mental health. To lighten the heavy mental load, aim to have a good laugh – and often! Research shows a little giggle <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456" target="_blank" rel="noopener">releases endorphins from the brain and can improve your mood</a></strong></span>.</p> <p><strong>It can be sleep saboteur</strong></p> <p>Coritsol tends to follow its own natural rhythm, spiking in the morning and then again overnight. This can be a particularly problematic for those who have stress-related mental health disorders. According to the National Institutes of Health, people with depression have abnormally high levels of cortisol in the body, which may negatively impact body cycles – including sleep, Popular Science magazine reported.</p> <p><strong>Don’t worry, you’re not alone</strong></p> <p>A <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.popsci.com/whos-most-high-strung-data-visualization" target="_blank" rel="noopener">study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University</a></strong></span> found that our stress levels have steadily increased over the years – but the good news is, our worry tends to decrease with age. Financial concerns are also a major influence on how stressed we feel.</p> <p><strong>Tips for managing stress</strong></p> <p>These statistics may sound gloomy, but there is a bright side: Managing these emotions is entirely in our control. In fact, easing your stress may be as simple as tweaking your perspective. Columbia University researchers found that those who sat in expansive positions with their arms and legs spread out for two minutes saw lower levels of the stress hormone than those in more tighter poses, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.popsci.com/strategies-battling-stress" target="_blank" rel="noopener">according to Popular Science</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>You may also want to ensure you add some regular exercise, meditation and socialising to your schedule. Research shows that these activities can also help ease tension.</p> <p>Acute stress is one thing, but chronic worrying could be a sign of bigger health issues, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed you should speak to your doctor.</p> <p><strong>Related links: </strong></p> <p><em><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="../health/wellbeing/2015/03/qualities-of-happy-people/">The 4 qualities of happy people</a></span> </strong></em></p> <p><em><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="../health/wellbeing/2014/12/what-to-do-when-you-feel-stuck/">How to reboot when you’re feeling stuck</a></span></strong></em></p> <p><em><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="../health/wellbeing/2014/10/yoga-–-the-perfect-exercise-for-over-60s/">Yoga – the perfect exercise for over-60s</a></span></strong></em></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Mind

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“Make up your own mind”: Ed Sheeran slams music critics

<p dir="ltr">Ed Sheeran has made a bold declaration that professional music critics are not needed in this day and age. </p> <p dir="ltr">The British singer-songwriter was speaking with <a href="https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/ed-sheeran-interview-jay-z-sword-hot-sauce-bruno-mars-1234704439/">Rolling Stone</a> about the shift to streaming and music in the digital age, when he suggested that critics are obsolete given how accessible music is these days.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Why do you need to read a review?” he questioned. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Listen to it. It’s freely available! Make up your own mind. I would never read an album review and go, ‘I’m not gonna listen to that now.’”</p> <p dir="ltr">Sheeran’s controversial comments were met with mixed reactions, with some fans pointing out that critics have a much more varied role. </p> <p dir="ltr">One music fan said, “Ok, except music critics aren’t just there for ppl to decide what to listen to?? Taking a deeper look at music thru a deeper critical lense [sic], both positive and negative, is a celebration of music as a whole if anything.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Another added, “I don’t even think that critics are meant to sway the general public these days. It’s just a way for journalists to create discourse about music.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Elsewhere in the interview, Sheeran also shared his opinion on dividing music into genres, “I think it’s not being bogged down by what you started off as.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I think there’s two genres. It’s good and bad. And I don’t think kids believe in genres anymore, either. Now it’s just playlists and kids are like, well, I like this song by this artist, and I like this song by that artist. And it might be a Skrillex song next to a Doja Cat song next to a Kendrick Lamar song.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Music

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Rod Stewart's ultimate surprise for like-minded hobbyists

<p>Rod Stewart has paid a surprise visit to a local business in Sydney's west, mingling with like-minded hobbyists. </p> <p>On Wednesday night, the 78-year-old rockstar took to the stage of Sydney's Qudos Bank Arena in front of 21,000 adoring fans, performing his classic hits in a signature leopard print jacket. </p> <p>But just hours before, he stopped in at Woodpecker Model Railways, a model train store located in Pendle Hill, in search of model trains to add to his vast collection.</p> <p>"Look who casually walked into our shop," the business shared on their Facebook page, alongside a photo of staff members smiling with the rock legend.</p> <p><iframe style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fwoodpeckermodelrailways%2Fposts%2Fpfbid0Nfb2LeEtR5yXAcfCiBW8g4GVLqncdVbNz9AKJnZVwFzB345DUXMDt3C6ZvcGpReyl&amp;show_text=true&amp;width=500" width="500" height="504" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>"That's amazing!!!" one follower wrote on Facebook.</p> <p>"WOW how awesome !! Lucky you !!I think I would be in total admiration [and] shock if Rod walked into a shop I owned or was in lol," another said.</p> <p>"A very accomplished modeller..... sings a bit as well....." another wrote.</p> <p>Rod Stewart has long been known as a <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/property/real-estate/rod-stewart-s-hidden-track-inside-his-beverly-hills-home" target="_blank" rel="noopener">keen model train builder</a>, revealing in a 2019 interview with Railway Modeller magazine that he had been working on a giant and intricate model of a United States city at home for the previous 23 years.</p> <p>Following his admission in the interview, BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine suggested Stewart did not build the model himself, to which Stewart rebutted as he called into Vine's show to set the record straight himself.</p> <p>"I would say 90 per cent of it I built myself," Stewart insisted to Vine. "The only thing I wasn't very good at and still am not is the electricals, so I had someone else do that."</p> <p>"A lot of people laugh at it being a silly hobby, but it's a wonderful hobby," he said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Music

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Expert advice for finding the hobby that’s best for your body, mind, and soul

<p>While some activities can seem more appealing - and some time periods more convenient - than others, there is never any shortage of evidence highlighting the benefits - both physical and mental - of picking up a brand new hobby. From reducing stress to improving social connections, assisting with symptoms of depression and anxiety, and enhancing wellbeing, there has never been a better time than now to start. </p> <p>Choosing a hobby - and sticking to it - can be hard work, but thankfully, experts have chimed in with their tips and tricks for finding something you’ll love, and that you’ll want to keep coming back to. </p> <p><strong>Find like-minded souls </strong></p> <p>David Helmers, Executive Officer of the community-based not-for-profit organisation Men’s Shed, believes in the value of hobbies bringing people together, saying that “hobbies are very closely related to social interaction. It can be the most bizarre hobby in the world, but through them you generally form an affiliation with like-minded people.”  </p> <p><strong>Enjoy it - then and now </strong></p> <p>While finding a hobby can be a surefire way to connect with people with similar interests, it can also be something that’s just for you. And commonly, the hobbies we turn to can be something we enjoyed earlier in our lives, but couldn’t keep up with for one reason or another. </p> <p>For example, parenthood can see many adults letting their usual activities fall to the wayside due to time constraints and other commitments - or, in a lot of cases, exhaustion. </p> <p>“I can speak from my own experience here,” Helmers said, “since I became a father, I don't think I ever went surfing again.” </p> <p>MindStep’s senior mental health coach Inouk Mackay believes that “going back to an old hobby you previously enjoyed” can be a great way to break back into the cycle, adding that “experimenting with how it feels” can help with the task of re-engaging. </p> <p>“If it’s right for you then your brain will kick into gear and remind you ‘yes, this was something I used to enjoy and will do again’,” she said. </p> <p>And for those who’d prefer to start over, “different is good, challenging yourself is good. But make sure you experiment with a few ideas before you make up your mind. If you don’t try, how can you possibly know if it’s a good fit for you?”</p> <p><strong>Shaking off the nerves </strong></p> <p>Starting something new can feel daunting at the best of times, but coupled with doing it alongside a brand new group of people, it can be downright frightening. </p> <p>However, David Helmers had some good news for those feeling the intimidation factor, speaking on behalf of his group, and those all across Australia, by declaring them to be “very open”, and agreeing that the hardest part of the process can be - and more often than not is - step one. </p> <p>“The hardest thing we have with Men's Sheds is getting the men to walk in the door in the first instance,” he explained. “Sometimes, people need a bit of pushing.” </p> <p>Inouk Mackay was in agreement, sharing in David’s advice that initial butterflies shouldn’t keep you from something worthwhile. </p> <p>“It might involve taking a bite of that ‘courage pill’,” she said, “especially if you’re joining a group-based activity. But we know that if anxiety or fear is present, it will dissipate over time if you just allow yourself to stay there and do your best to engage.”</p> <p><strong>Commit to what matters </strong></p> <p>Mackay made a point to stress the importance of committing to any new activity, and how scheduling it in a “diary as you would an important appointment” can help guide you towards maintaining your participation. After all, as Mackay said, “we know that if we commit to something on paper, we are much more likely to follow through.” </p> <p>“We all need to make some time for ourselves,” David agreed, before adding, “personally, I'm terrible at it, I know. But I’ve learned that it’s very important, and that if you want to have healthy, productive time for all the other significant things in your life, then you also need to make healthy time for yourself too.”</p> <p><em>Images: Getty </em></p>

Retirement Life

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Why does money cause anxiety? 5 finance habits to transform your peace of mind

<h2>Money and your mental health</h2> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">Money is the top source of stress among Australians, according to private health insurance provider, Medibank. And this pressure is taking a toll on our collective mental health. Another poll conducted in July revealed that almost 90 per cent of us are experiencing anxiety over our finances and the ever-rising cost of living.</p> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">Money can hold such power over mental health because it plays a big role in how we navigate our place in today’s world. Our financial perceptions and experiences closely overlap with our sense of self-worth, confidence, and personal power, explains clinical psychologist, Jonathan D. Friedman. That’s why “financial anxiety is a mix of material and psychological concerns,” he says, which can be based on both concrete and perceived realities. This means that freaking out about money may stem from a range and combination of situations, from the actual lack of funds to pay bills to social pressures and obligations.</p> <h2>Why does money cause anxiety?</h2> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">Your life experiences with money have a big effect on your current relationship with it, explains mental health counsellor, Aja Evans. At a base level, if you grew up in a financially insecure environment, many people will bring this anxiety-ridden scarcity mentality with them into adulthood – spending money feels wrong or dangerous, even if it doesn’t necessarily reflect their current reality. But other messages stick with us, too.</p> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">Maybe money was ignored or never discussed in your family, so dealing with finances as an adult makes you feel overwhelmed. Studies show that this type of anxiety often snowballs into to avoidance behaviours, like neglecting your finances. Whether that means you avoid checking bank statements, delay saving (or learning about money-saving methods), or don’t form a budget, “[this] can easily lead to a cycle of overspending and always trying to catch up with financial responsibilities,” says psychiatrist, Dr Jason Hunziker.</p> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">Or, if you grew up experiencing money as a way to deal with problems or your feelings, that can help explain your attitude toward “retail therapy” impulse buys today, Evans says. Similarly, society props up wealthier people as being smarter or happier, she says – cues we’re exposed to from a young age that are difficult to unlearn, even if we know better. And social media makes these messages stronger than ever. According to a survey from Allianz Insurance, 57 per cent of people spend money they hadn’t planned to because of what they see on social media.</p> <h2>Why do I keep overspending?</h2> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">“Our emotions or moods govern a lot of our actions,” Evans says. Often, she says, overspending and impulse-buying are coping mechanisms to deal with uncomfortable feelings. And research confirms that we’re more likely to spend money when we’re stressed out.</p> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">A major part of this tendency is that it works, in a sense. Spending money is a form of instant gratification, triggering a rush of dopamine through the body. But when this feel-good hormone wears off, we’re left back at where we started – and potentially with some added guilt or stress about that spending. That’s why overspending can be a vicious cycle.</p> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">Now, find out how to build better money habits.</p> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">“Looking for a quick fix to a problem, a temporary solution is extremely appealing when you just want to feel better,” Evans says. “At some point, the overspending and impulse buying becomes the go-to problem solver” – whether the problem you face is boredom, a bad day at work, or something deeper.</p> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">Plus, advertisers and marketers know this human tendency inside and out – and they’re good at using it to their advantage. “Our email inbox, home mailbox, ads on television, and social media are full of advertisements telling us that our life is incomplete unless we have the item that they are trying to sell,” Dr Hunziker adds. “Because this information is present in all aspects of our lives, it makes it easier for us to impulsively make purchases, even when it falls outside of our financial budget.”</p> <h2>Tap into your feelings</h2> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">Before heading into a store or opening a shopping app, take a pause, Evans urges. “What are you feeling? Are you upset, hungry, angry, lonely, tired? Recognising that you are trying to deal with discomfort through spending helps you to shift the behaviour.”</p> <h2>Find other ways to get that feel-good hit</h2> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">It will be hard to break an impulse-buying habit at first. But Evans recommends that once you realise that you’re shopping to mask a bad mood or emotion, be deliberate about getting gratification from another source. “Talking to a friend, taking a class, exercising, journaling, cleaning your home – literally anything that will take you out of the desire to shop,” she says. “You won’t get it right every time, but slowly you will begin to learn that you can shift your mood without spending money, and your brain will adjust to getting that rush from something other than spending.”</p> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">Just like with fad diets, totally depriving yourself isn’t sustainable – and trying to justify every single dollar you spend can create more anxiety. That’s why as you work on your spending habits, leave some room in there for the occasional indulgence. Just make sure that you’re spending with intention and in a way that aligns with your values.</p> <h2>Allow permission to treat yourself</h2> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">For example, ask yourself: will spending this money save you time, make your job easier, bring you relaxation or genuine connection with a friend? “You can make it a personal rule to never purchase anything impulsively,” Dr Hunziker offers. “Wait at least one night to ‘sleep on it’ before making a purchase.”</p> <h2>Reframe your shame</h2> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">Whether it’s the holiday you’ve always wanted, a new laptop for work, or a morning latte, if intentionally spending money still brings you feelings like shame and guilt, try this science-approved trick. Researchers found that shame around spending money creates a self-reinforcing cycle of financial anxiety. But their review of studies, published in Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, found that you can counter this feeling by ‘reaffirming valued aspects’ of yourself, like your kindness or your hard work.</p> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;">Over time, this process retrains your brain not to associate all spending with shame – but removing this barrier doesn’t mean you’ll just start spending frivolously. The study shows that taking shame out of the equation eases money anxiety while reducing poor or counterproductive financial decisions.</p> <h2>Understand your finances</h2> <p style="font-size: medium; font-weight: 400;"><span style="color: #444444; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial; font-size: 16px; background-color: #ffffff;">Avoidance behaviours work to keep you stuck in a cycle of money anxiety – so the experts say it’s important to take an honest look at your finances and spending habits for lasting peace of mind. “Start learning about the different aspects about money you don’t understand,” Evans says. Tackling your avoidance behaviours head-on is an important part of stopping the financial anxiety cycle. But “building comfort in navigating your money gives you a sense of control that reduces stress,” too, so you’re more resilient if something unexpected happens financially.</span></p> <p>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/money/why-does-money-cause-anxiety-5-finance-habits-to-transform-your-peace-of-mind">Reader's Digest</a>.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Getty</em></p>

Money & Banking

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5 steps to help you speak your mind

<p>Whether it’s at work, with friends, or with your family, saying what you really think often sounds like a bad idea. But holding back from telling people what’s going on in your head can also cause problems, as you are bottling up your emotions and never letting them out.</p> <p>So how do you speak your mind in a way that gets your point across, without hurting people’s feelings or alienating them?</p> <p><strong>Try to remove the emotion</strong></p> <p>This can be tough, but avoid crying or yelling (if you can!) and speak in a calm, clear manner. You are much more likely to get your point across if people can understand you and see that you are talking from a level head. When you act calm, even if you’re not, it makes other people see you as more confident. Shouting often has the opposite effect, as people can begin to tune out to what you are saying. You could try something like ‘I can see that your new girlfriend makes you happy. However I feel that you may be moving too quickly, and I don’t think you should have to stop seeing your friends just because you are dating somebody.’</p> <p><strong>Use positive words</strong></p> <p>Try to steer clear of extremes like ‘You always…’ or ‘I never…’ Instead, focus on what you would like to happen, and be specific. So instead of ‘You only want to see me when you need me to babysit your children’ you could say ‘I would like to spend one afternoon a week together just the two of us, doing something special.’</p> <p><strong>Explain both sides</strong></p> <p>It’s easy to get caught up with ‘I’ and ‘me’ when you are getting your point across, but thinking of the other person’s perspective can be very useful for being heard. People naturally think ‘What’s in it for me? Why should I listen to this?’ so tailor your argument towards that. So instead of ‘I think you work too much’ you could say ‘I’m worried that your hours are too long and you are going to get burnt out. We don’t see each other as often as we used to, and I miss spending time with you. How can I help you to see that money isn’t everything?’</p> <p><strong>Ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen</strong></p> <p>At first you may be too worried about the ‘what ifs’ of speaking your mind. But ask yourself, honestly, what is the very worst thing that could happen if you do? Sure, people might initially feel upset or hurt if what you’re saying hits a nerve, but in the long run most would understand that you were saying how you felt so that you could make things better.</p> <p><strong>Accept that it may not be worth it</strong></p> <p>Sometimes you have to choose your battles, so if you know that speaking your mind will only cause ill-feeling and no good will come of it – let it go. Some things are not worth losing a friend over (like bad lipstick choices) whereas other things are too important to hold in (like issues with drugs or gambling).  A good way to decide whether to speak up is to think ‘will anything change if I speak up?’ If not, perhaps let it slide.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Mind

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14 mind-blowing facts about selfies

<p><strong>They’re a window into your personality</strong></p> <p>It turns out that your favourite selfie pose can say a lot about your personality. In a study published in <em>Computers in Human Behaviour</em>, researchers connected self-portrait styles to specific character traits. For example, conscientious people tend to hide the location of their selfies, showing that they’re concerned with maintaining privacy. Those who appear positive and look directly into the camera tend to be more agreeable. Incidentally, those who have a go-to “duck face” pose are more likely to be emotionally unstable.</p> <p><strong>They can be a red flag</strong></p> <p>Psychologists believe that taking selfies can become a dangerous addiction. More often than not, those addicted to taking and posting selfies are suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, or depression, all of which can significantly interfere with your daily functioning. British psychologist Dr David Veal, says selfie-addiction is a “mental health issue with an extremely high suicide rate.” Seek help if you feel yourself needing to snap selfies compulsively.</p> <p><strong>They date back to the 16th century</strong></p> <p>You might think selfies started with smartphones, but they have a much longer history. The first-ever selfie was painted in 1524 using oil on wood. In “Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror,” 21-year-old artist Parmigianino depicted his own reflection. This young artist had no idea he was 500 years ahead of a booming trend!</p> <p><strong>They weren’t always easy to take</strong></p> <p>Parmigianino’s oil painting self-portrait aside, the first photographic selfie as we know it today was taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as tapping his thumb on an iPhone’s front-facing lens. Cornelius had to set up the camera on a stand, remove the lens cap, run into the frame, sit for five minutes, then sprint back and replace the cap. In this exhausting process, he took what is believed to be the first photographic self-portrait.</p> <p><strong>Some cities take more selfies than others</strong></p> <p>Though selfies are a global phenomenon, it turns out that some cities produce more than others. Time investigated the geography of selfie-snapping by building a database of more than 400,000 digital self-portraits with the caption, “#selfie.” They then mapped out the photos’ geographic coordinates and managed to rank 459 cities based on the number of selfies they generated. The study concluded that Makati City in the Philippines is the ‘Selfie Capital of the World,’ followed closely by Manhattan and Miami in the US.</p> <p><strong>They’re not only taken here on Earth</strong></p> <p>Everyone loves an exotic selfie, including NASA’s astronauts. Believe it or not, multiple selfies have been taken in outer space. Buzz Aldrin proudly took the first space selfie during the Gemini 12 mission in 1966. That’s one small step for man, one giant step for self-portraits.</p> <p><strong>Women take more than men</strong></p> <p>In every city analysed, women take more cities than men – but the differences greatly vary by area. In Bangkok, women take 55.2 per cent of all selfies, which isn’t that much more than men. In New York, however, women take 61.6 per cent of selfie snaps, which is considerable. Moscow, by contrast, has the greatest disparity, with women taking a whopping 82 per cent  of all selfies! It seems Russian men simply aren’t that interested in documenting their own reflection.</p> <p><strong>They can make great book material</strong></p> <p>If you’ve been suffering with writer’s block, perhaps you should follow Kim Kardashian’s example and just fill your novel with selfies. In May of 2015, Kardashian published a book called <em>Selfish</em>, which is 448 pages long and comprised entirely of her favourite selfies. Sound absurd? Apparently not. <em>Selfish </em>quickly became a<em> New York Times</em> bestseller.</p> <p><strong>It’s a young person’s sport</strong></p> <p>As one might expect, selfies are especially favoured by millennials. The average age of selfie-takers is 23.6. However, this average may soon take a dip, as preteens are gaining momentum, snapping more digital self-portraits every year.</p> <p><strong>They’re all about the hashtag</strong></p> <p>As selfies have grown in popularity over the last few years, the corresponding hashtag has remained their official label and link. According to Instagram, the first ever photo captioned with “#selfie” was uploaded by a Jennifer Lee on January 16, 2011. Since then, Instagram has had over 227 million self-portraits posted with the same hashtag – and that number grows by the minute.</p> <p><strong>It’s been the word of the year</strong></p> <p>In 2013, “selfie” was named <em>The Oxford English Dictionary</em>’s Word of the Year. Most years, there will be some disagreement or debate over which word should receive the honour, but in 2013, ‘selfie’ was chosen almost unanimously and expected from the start. And how could they not choose it? Selfie’s usage in the English language had increased by 17,000 per cent that year alone.</p> <p><strong>They aren’t always welcome</strong></p> <p>There has been a growing ban on selfie-taking, specifically when using selfie-sticks as tools. Disneyland’s Paris, Hong Kong, and American theme parks have forbidden the use of selfie sticks on their premises. The Palace Museum in Beijing and the Sistine Chapel in Italy have done the same. Even festivals like Lollapalooza in Chicago and Coachella in California have called for a halt. It looks like visitors will have to document their fun the old fashioned way: by extending their arms.</p> <p><strong>They aren’t always what they seem</strong></p> <p>The purpose of a self-portrait is to reflect your true self in a moment worth capturing. Sadly, it seems online selfies, more often than not, don’t actually portray reality. According to a recent survey, 68 per cent of selfie-takers admitted to editing their photos before sharing online. This number is up from 48 per cent of people who admitted to doctoring their selfies in 2014, suggesting that the pressure to appear perfect has only increased.</p> <p><strong>They’re not the majority</strong></p> <p>Although selfies may seem to be every other picture you encounter online, they fortunately aren’t the majority of all photos taken. In fact, people take selfies far less than we assume. Only 4 per cent of all images are actually selfies (depending on the city). The other 96 per cent of photos feature monuments, food, pets, shoes, friends, family, and more.</p> <p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-5af27900-7fff-a180-8fa3-4da4a10c4d2c">Written by Aubrey Almanza. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/14-mind-blowing-facts-about-selfies" target="_blank" rel="noopener">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&utm_medium=articles&utm_campaign=RDSUB&keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Technology

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Looking for transformative travel? Keep these six stages in mind

<p>After a cooped-up few years, Americans are hungry to travel. Passport offices <a href="https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/processing-times.html">are overwhelmed</a> with applications. In July, airlines scheduled and operated <a href="https://www.bts.gov/newsroom/air-travel-consumer-report-july-2021-numbers">the highest number of flights</a> since the pandemic began, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/22/national-parks-are-booming-that-may-ruin-your-next-trip.html">Record numbers</a> of travelers visited the U.S. national parks this summer, after <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/annual-visitation-highlights.htm">a nearly 28% drop</a> due to the pandemic. </p> <p>But why do we travel in the first place? What is the allure of the open road? </p> <p>As a professor of <a href="https://divinity.vanderbilt.edu/people/bio/jaco-hamman">religion, psychology and culture</a>, I study experiences that lie at the intersection of all three. And in my <a href="https://www.fortresspress.com/store/product/9781506472065/Just-Traveling">research on travel</a>, I’m struck by its unsolvable paradoxes: Many of us seek to get away, in order to be present; we speed to destinations, in order to slow down; we may care about the environment, but still leave carbon footprints.</p> <p>Ultimately, many people hope to return transformed. Travel <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/02508281.2017.1292177">is often viewed</a> as what anthropologists call a “<a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Arnold-van-Gennep">rite of passage</a>”: structured rituals in which individuals separate themselves from their familiar surroundings, undergo change and return rejuvenated or “reborn.”</p> <p>But travelers are not just concerned with themselves. The desire to explore may be a defining human trait, as I argue <a href="https://www.fortresspress.com/store/product/9781506472065/Just-Traveling">in my latest book</a>, but the ability to do it is a privilege that can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2017.11.002">come at a cost</a>to host communities. Increasingly, the tourism industry and scholars alike are interested in <a href="https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cog/tri/2012/00000016/F0020003/art00003">ethical travel</a>, which minimizes visitors’ harm on the places and people they encounter. </p> <p>The media inundate tourists with advice and enticements about where to travel and what to do there. But in order to meet the deeper goals of transformative, ethical travel, the “why” and “how” demand deeper discernment.</p> <p>In writing “<a href="https://www.fortresspress.com/store/product/9781506472065/Just-Traveling">Just Traveling</a>: God, Leaving Home, and a Spirituality for the Road,” I studied travel stories in sacred scriptures and researched findings from psychologists, sociologists, ethicists, economists and tourism scholars. I argue that meaningful travel is best understood not as a three-stage rite but as a six-phase practice, based on core human experiences. These phases can repeat and overlap within the same journey, just as adventures twist and turn.</p> <h2>1. Anticipating</h2> <p>Traveling begins long before departure, as we research and plan. But anticipation is more than logistics. The Dutch aptly call it “voorpret”: literally, <a href="https://www.wordsense.eu/">the pleasure before</a>.</p> <p>How and what people anticipate in any given situation has the power to shape their experience, for better or worse – even when it comes to prejudice. Psychology experiments, for example, have shown that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000899">when children anticipate greater cooperation between groups</a>, it can reduce their bias in favor of their own group.</p> <p>But <a href="https://iep.utm.edu/phenom/">phenomenology</a>, a branch of philosophy that studies human experience and consciousness, emphasizes that <a href="http://ummoss.org/gall17varela.pdf">anticipation is also “empty”</a>: our conscious intentions and expectations of what’s to come could be fulfilled or dashed by a future moment. </p> <p>With that in mind, travelers should try to remain open to uncertainty and even disappointment.</p> <h2>2. Leaving</h2> <p>Leaving can awaken deep emotions that are tied to our earliest experiences of separation. The attachment styles psychologists study in infants, which shape how secure people feel in their relationships, <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-is-attachment-and-how-does-it-affect-our-relationships-120503">continue to shape us as adults</a>. These experiences can also affect how comfortable people feel <a href="https://www.proquest.com/openview/cdd5594c53a7864881fb71e54a7422f1/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&amp;cbl=1819046">exploring new experiences</a> and leaving home, which can affect how they travel.</p> <p>Some travelers leave with excitement, while others experience <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0047287520966392">hesitation or guilt</a> before the relief and excitement of departure. Mindfulness about the stages of travel can help people <a href="https://web.a.ebscohost.com/abstract?direct=true&amp;profile=ehost&amp;scope=site&amp;authtype=crawler&amp;jrnl=1931311X&amp;asa=Y&amp;AN=31381043&amp;h=nduDC2UXNGxscORELrBj%2fjZ6b4Xdbo4r5mkTwNhY2n2D7Oi0KAOPOw%2fsqhqshijmc4%2bMd%2fLjR2%2b3rONsdCopzg%3d%3d&amp;crl=c&amp;resultNs=AdminWebAuth&amp;resultLocal=ErrCrlNotAuth&amp;crlhashurl=login.aspx%3fdirect%3dtrue%26profile%3dehost%26scope%3dsite%26authtype%3dcrawler%26jrnl%3d1931311X%26asa%3dY%26AN%3d31381043">manage anxiety</a>.</p> <h2>3. Surrendering</h2> <p>Travelers cannot control their journey: A flight is canceled, or a vehicle breaks down; the weather report predicts sunshine, but it rains for days on end. To some extent, they have to surrender to the unknown.</p> <p>Modern Western cultures tend to see “surrendering” as something negative – as hoisting a white flag. But as a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/00107530.1990.10746643">therapeutic concept</a>, surrendering helps people let go of inhibiting habits, discover a sense of wholeness and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-2005-006">experience togetherness</a> with others. The perfectionist learns that a changed itinerary doesn’t mean a diminished travel experience and lets go of their fear of failure. The person with a strong sense of independence grows in vulnerability as they receive care from strangers.</p> <p>In fact, some psychological theories hold that the self longs for surrender, in the sense of liberation: letting down its defensive barriers and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0022167820975636">finding freedom</a> from attempts to control one’s surroundings. Embracing that view can help travelers cope with the reality that things may not go according to plan.</p> <h2>4. Meeting</h2> <p>Meeting, traveling’s fourth phase, is the invitation to discover oneself and others anew. </p> <p>All cultures have unconscious “<a href="https://www.routledge.com/The-Location-of-Culture/Bhabha/p/book/9780415336390">rules of recognition</a>,” their own ingrained customs and ways of thinking, making it more difficult to forge cross-cultural connections. Carrying <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Serene-Tse-2/publication/347739970_Assessing_explicit_and_implicit_stereotypes_in_tourism_self-reports_and_implicit_association_test/links/60ad92f1299bf13438e82cbe/Assessing-explicit-and-implicit-stereotypes-in-tourism-self-reports-and-implicit-association-test.pdf">conscious and unconscious stereotypes</a>, travelers may see some people and places as uneducated, dangerous, poor or <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229405">sexual</a>, while hosts may see travelers as rich, ignorant and exploitable. </p> <p>Going beyond such stereotypes requires that travelers be mindful of behaviors that can add tension to their interactions – knowing conversational topics to avoid, for example, or following local dress codes.</p> <p>In many parts of the world, those challenges are intensified <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1468797603049658">by the legacy of colonization</a>, which makes it harder for people to meet in authentic ways. Colonial views still influence Western perceptions of nonwhite groups as <a href="https://hrcak.srce.hr/index.php?show=clanak&amp;id_clanak_jezik=80794">exotic</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/14616688.2012.762688">dangerous</a> and inferior.</p> <p>Starting to overcome these barriers demands an attitude known as <a href="https://melanietervalon.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/CulturalHumility_Tervalon-and-Murray-Garcia-Article.pdf">cultural humility</a>, which is deeper than “cultural competence” – simply knowing about a different culture. Cultural humility helps travelers ask questions like, “I don’t know,” “Please help me understand” or “How should I…” </p> <h2>5. Caring</h2> <p>Caring involves overcoming “<a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781003070672/moral-boundaries-joan-tronto">privileged irresponsibility</a>”: when a traveler does not recognize their own privilege and take responsibility for it, or does not recognize other people’s lack of privilege.</p> <p>[3 media outlets, 1 religion newsletter. <a href="https://theconversation.com/us/newsletters/this-week-in-religion-76/?utm_source=TCUS&amp;utm_medium=inline-link&amp;utm_campaign=newsletter-text&amp;utm_content=religion-3-in-1">Get stories from The Conversation, AP and RNS.</a>]</p> <p>Travel becomes irresponsible when tourists ignore injustices and inequities they witness or the way their travels contribute to the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1108/TR-03-2017-0066">unfolding climate crisis</a>. Ethically, “empathy” is not enough; travelers must pursue solidarity, as an act of “<a href="https://www.fortresspress.com/store/product/9781506472065/Just-Traveling">caring with</a>.” That might mean hiring local guides, eating in family-owned restaurants and being mindful of the resources like food and water that they use. </p> <h2>6. Returning</h2> <p>Travels do end, and returning home can be <a href="https://doi.org/10.4337/9781786438577.00025">a disorienting experience</a>. </p> <p>Coming back can cause <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/90015633">reverse culture shock</a> if travelers struggle to readjust. But that shock can diminish as travelers share their experiences with others, stay connected to the places they visited, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2016.05.004">deepen their knowledge</a> about the place and culture, anticipate a possible return trip or get involved in causes that they discovered on their trip.</p> <p>I believe that reflecting on these six phases can invite the kind of mindfulness needed for transformative, ethical travel. And <a href="https://www.scielo.br/j/aabc/a/76CfqdL5pPBZLcQy9FdWwxn/?lang=en&amp;format=html">amid a pandemic</a>, the need for thoughtful travel that prioritises host communities’ well-being is clear.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/looking-for-transformative-travel-keep-these-six-stages-in-mind-167687" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

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Playing music as a child leads to sharper mind as we get older

<p dir="ltr">A new study claims to have found an unusual link between having a musical childhood and sharper thinking as we get older. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to a research paper from the University of Edinburgh, people with more experience of playing a musical instrument as a child showed greater lifetime improvement on a test of cognitive ability than those with less or no experience.</p> <p dir="ltr">Researchers found that this was the case even when accounting for their socio-economic status, years of education, childhood cognitive ability, and their health in senior years.</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite the results of the study, professor emeritus Ian Deary, formerly director of the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at the university, said, “We have to emphasise that the association we found between instrument-playing and lifetime cognitive improvement was small, and that we cannot prove that the former caused the latter.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“However, as we and others search for the many small effects that might contribute toward some people’s brains ageing more healthily than others, these results are worth following up.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Out of the study’s 366 participants, 117 reported a level of experience with playing an instrument between childhood and adolescence. </p> <p dir="ltr">The most commonly played instrument was the piano, with other participants having experience with the accordion, guitar, violin and even bagpipes. </p> <p dir="ltr">The participants were tested on a series of mental and physical functions, as well as retaking the standardised cognitive ability test each took as an 11-year-old as part of the Scottish Mental Survey of 1947. </p> <p dir="ltr">The university said the findings provided fresh evidence that playing an instrument is associated with small but detectable cognitive benefits over a lifetime.</p> <p dir="ltr">Judith Okely, now a lecturer in psychology at Napier University, said, “These results add to the evidence that activities that are mentally challenging, such as learning to play a musical instrument, might be associated with better thinking skills.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Artist’s mind-mending portraits age before your eyes

<p dir="ltr">Throughout art history, many artists have used the craft of optical illusions to trick their audiences into believing their art can shift and change before their eyes. </p> <p dir="ltr">This is a craft that self-taught artist Sergi Cadenas has mastered, as his intricate portraits seem to age before the viewers with a simple shift of perspective. </p> <p dir="ltr">His portraits contain dual images, as they transform from young to old as you move from one side of the artwork to the other. </p> <p dir="ltr">In one of his works, the face of a woman ages several years when you take a few steps in the opposite direction. </p> <p dir="ltr">In another, the piercing blue eyes of a young girl morph into the inky black ones of a little boy.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CRBOn4aIL-o/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CRBOn4aIL-o/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Sergi Cadenas (@sergi.cadenas)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Sergi, who began his career as an artist in his 30s, was inspired by flip-books he had seen as a child to create his own distinctive technique. </p> <p dir="ltr">Using a piping bag intended for decorating cakes, the artist creates vertical ridges on the canvas to provide a relief upon which he can paint two separate images.</p> <p dir="ltr">Each subject in Cadenas’ paintings can be individually viewed by simply observing the artwork from one side or the other. However, the transformative nature of his work allows him to address deeper themes and meanings of society. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CEUTl4EK2bE/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CEUTl4EK2bE/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Sergi Cadenas (@sergi.cadenas)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Some of his paintings confront complex subjects, such as the fleeting nature of youth, mortality, the dichotomy of emotions, and even racial equality. </p> <p dir="ltr">In an interview with <a href="https://www.augustman.com/sg/culture/art-design/spanish-artist-sergi-cadenas-discusses-transformative-art-and-bringing-dual-portraits-to-life-in-a-single-painting/">Augustman</a>, Sergi said, “My paintings reflect the candid, natural moments of people — memorialising their portraits in time. My portraits of famous people however, allow us to see the beauty, gifts, and transitory nature of time.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Instagram </em></p>

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