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Drinking lots of water may seem like a healthy habit – here’s when and why it can prove toxic

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-taylor-283950">Adam Taylor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p>In late 2023, actor <a href="https://www.glamour.com/story/brooke-shields-recently-experienced-a-full-blown-seizure-and-bradley-cooper-came-running?utm_source=instagram&amp;utm_medium=social&amp;utm_content=instagram-bio-link&amp;client_service_id=31196&amp;client_service_name=glamour&amp;service_user_id=1.78e+16&amp;supported_service_name=instagram_publishing&amp;utm_brand=glm&amp;utm_social_type=owned">Brooke Shields</a> suffered a seizure after “flooding” her body with water. Shields became dangerously low on sodium while preparing for her show by drinking loads of water. “I flooded my system and I drowned myself,” she would later explain. “And if you don’t have enough sodium in your blood or urine or your body, you can have a seizure.”</p> <p>Shields said she found herself walking around outside for “no reason at all”, wondering: “Why am I out here?”</p> <blockquote> <p>Then I walk into the restaurant and go to the sommelier who had just taken an hour to watch my run through. That’s when everything went black. Then my hands drop to my side and I go headfirst into the wall.</p> </blockquote> <p>Shields added that she was “frothing at the mouth, totally blue, trying to swallow my tongue”.</p> <p>Like Shields, many people may be unaware of the dangers of drinking excessive amounts of water – especially because hydration is so often associated with health benefits. Models and celebrities <a href="https://www.teenvogue.com/story/drinking-water-flawless-skin#:%7E:text=If%20you're%20reading%20a,long%20hours%20at%20a%20time.">often advocate</a> drinking lots of water to help maintain clear, smooth skin. Some <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/75-hard-challenge-before-and-after-tiktok-b2382706.html">social media influencers</a> have promoted drinking a gallon of water daily for weight loss.</p> <p>But excessive water consumption can cause <a href="https://patient.info/treatment-medication/hyponatraemia-leaflet">hyponatraemia</a> – a potentially fatal condition of low sodium in the blood.</p> <h2>Worried about hydration levels? Check your urine</h2> <p>The body strictly regulates its water content to maintain the optimum level of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2323003/">total body water</a> and “osmolality” – the concentration of dissolved particles in your blood. Osmolality increases when you are dehydrated and decreases when you have too much fluid in your blood.</p> <p>Osmolality is monitored by <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9074779/">osmoreceptors</a> that regulate sodium and water balance in the hypothalamus – the part of the brain that controls numerous hormones. These osmoreceptors signal the release of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which acts on blood vessels and the kidneys to control the amount of water and salt in the body.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Qghf7Y9ILAs?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>In healthy people, the body releases ADH when osmolality becomes high. ADH tells the kidneys to reabsorb water, which makes urine more concentrated. The reabsorbed water dilutes the blood, bringing osmolality back to normal levels.</p> <p>Low blood osmolality suppresses the release of ADH, reducing how much water the kidneys reabsorb. This dilutes your urine, which the body then passes to rid itself of the excess water.</p> <p>Healthy urine should be clear and odourless. Darker, yellower urine with a noticeable odour can indicate dehydration – although medications and certain foods, including <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3433805/">asparagus</a>, can affect urine colour and odour, too.</p> <h2>How much is too much?</h2> <p>Adults should consume <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-guidelines-and-food-labels/water-drinks-nutrition/">two-to-three litres per day</a>, of which around 20% comes from food. However, we can lose <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK236237/">up to ten litres</a> of water through perspiration – so sweating during exercise or in hot weather increases the amount of water we need to replace through drinking.</p> <p>Some medical conditions can cause overhydration. Approximately <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3616165/">one in five</a> schizophrenia patients drink water compulsively, a dangerous condition known as <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/apr/15/woman-died-mental-hospital-excessive-water-drinking-inquest#:%7E:text=Woman%20died%20at%20mental%20hospital%20after%20excessive%20water%20drinking%2C%20inquest%20told,-Parents%20of%20Lillian&amp;text=A%20woman%20collapsed%20and%20died,water%2C%20an%20inquest%20has%20heard.">psychogenic polydipsia</a>. One long-term study found that patients with psychogenic polydipsia have a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18984069/">“74% greater chance</a> of dying before a non-polydipsic patient”.</p> <p>In <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22306188/">some cases</a>, people with <a href="https://psychiatry-psychopharmacology.com/en/childhood-and-adolescence-disorders-psychogenic-polydipsia-in-an-adolescent-with-eating-disorder-a-case-report-132438">anorexia nervosa</a> can also suffer from compulsive water drinking.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ReQew2zcN7c?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>For those suffering from polydipsia, treatment is focused on medication to reduce the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10675986/">urge to drink</a>, as well as <a href="https://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-the-treatment-of-hyponatremia-in-adults/print">increasing sodium levels</a>. This should be done gradually to avoid causing <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562251/">myelinolysis</a> – <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551697/">neurological damage</a> caused by rapid changes in sodium levels in nerve cells.</p> <p>In rare but often highly publicised cases such as that of <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/13/newsid_2516000/2516593.stm">Leah Betts</a> in 1995, some users of the illegal drug MDMA (also known as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6119400/">ecstasy)</a> have <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11265566/">died</a> after drinking copious amounts of water to rehydrate after dancing and sweating.</p> <p>The drug <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5008716/">increases body temperature</a>, so users drink water to avoid overheating. Unfortunately, MDMA also triggers the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12105115/">unnecessary release of ADH</a>, causing water retention. The body becomes unable to rid itself of excess water, which affects its electrolyte levels – causing cells to swell with water.</p> <p>Symptoms of water intoxication start with nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and dizziness. As the condition progresses, sufferers can often display symptoms of <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/psychosis/symptoms/">psychosis</a>, such as inappropriate behaviour, confusion, delusions, disorientation and hallucinations.</p> <p>These symptoms are caused by <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470386/">hyponatraemia</a>, where sodium levels are diluted or depleted in blood and the subsequent imbalance of electrolytes affects the nervous system. Water begins to move into the brain causing <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1572349604000149">a cerebral oedema</a> – brain swelling because of excessive fluid buildup, which is usually fatal if not treated.</p> <p>A healthy body will tell you when it needs water. If you’re thirsty and your urine is dark with a noticeable odour, then you need to drink more. If you aren’t thirsty and your urine is clear or the colour of light straw, then you’re already doing a good job of hydrating yourself.<!-- 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/228715/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/adam-taylor-283950"><em>Adam Taylor</em></a><em>, Professor and Director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</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/drinking-lots-of-water-may-seem-like-a-healthy-habit-heres-when-and-why-it-can-prove-toxic-228715">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Body

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Mothers’ dieting habits and self-talk have profound impact on daughters − 2 psychologists explain how to cultivate healthy behaviors and body image

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/janet-j-boseovski-451496">Janet J. Boseovski</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-north-carolina-greensboro-2069">University of North Carolina – Greensboro</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ashleigh-gallagher-1505989">Ashleigh Gallagher</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-north-carolina-greensboro-2069">University of North Carolina – Greensboro</a></em></p> <p>Weight loss is one of the most common health and appearance-related goals.</p> <p>Women and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db340.htm">teen girls</a> are <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db313.htm">especially likely to pursue dieting</a> to achieve weight loss goals even though a great deal of research shows that <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-thin-people-dont-understand-about-dieting-86604">dieting doesn’t work over the long term</a>.</p> <p>We are a <a href="https://www.duck-lab.com/people">developmental psychologist</a> and a <a href="https://psy.uncg.edu/directory/ashleigh-gallagher/">social psychologist</a> who together wrote a forthcoming book, “Beyond Body Positive: A Mother’s Evidence-Based Guide for Helping Girls Build a Healthy Body Image.”</p> <p>In the book, we address topics such as the effects of maternal dieting behaviors on daughters’ health and well-being. We provide information on how to build a foundation for healthy body image beginning in girlhood.</p> <h2>Culturally defined body ideals</h2> <p>Given the strong influence of social media and other cultural influences on body ideals, it’s understandable that so many people pursue diets aimed at weight loss. <a href="https://communityhealth.mayoclinic.org/featured-stories/tiktok-diets">TikTok</a>, YouTube, Instagram and celebrity websites feature slim influencers and “how-tos” for achieving those same results in no time.</p> <p>For example, women and teens are engaging in rigid and extreme forms of exercise such as 54D, a program to <a href="https://54d.com/">achieve body transformation in 54 days</a>, or the <a href="https://health.clevelandclinic.org/75-hard-challenge-and-rules">75 Hard Challenge</a>, which is to follow five strict rules for 75 days.</p> <p>For teens, these pursuits are likely fueled by trendy body preoccupations such as the desire for “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/06/well/move/tiktok-legging-legs-eating-disorders.html">legging legs</a>.”</p> <p>Women and teens have also been been inundated with recent messaging around <a href="https://theconversation.com/drugs-that-melt-away-pounds-still-present-more-questions-than-answers-but-ozempic-wegovy-and-mounjaro-could-be-key-tools-in-reducing-the-obesity-epidemic-205549">quick-fix weight loss drugs</a>, which come with a lot of caveats.</p> <p>Dieting and weight loss goals are highly individual, and when people are intensely self-focused, it is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2000.19.1.70">possible to lose sight of the bigger picture</a>. Although women might wonder what the harm is in trying the latest diet, science shows that dieting behavior doesn’t just affect the dieter. In particular, for women who are mothers or who have other girls in their lives, these behaviors affect girls’ emerging body image and their health and well-being.</p> <h2>The profound effect of maternal role models</h2> <p>Research shows that mothers and maternal figures <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2017.11.001">have a profound influence on their daughters’ body image</a>.</p> <p>The opportunity to influence girls’ body image comes far earlier than adolescence. In fact, research shows that these influences on body image <a href="https://www.teenvogue.com/story/how-toxic-diet-culture-is-passed-from-moms-to-daughters">begin very early in life</a> – <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.acdb.2016.10.006">during the preschool years</a>.</p> <p>Mothers may feel that they are being discreet about their dieting behavior, but little girls are watching and listening, and they are far more observant of us than many might think.</p> <p>For example, one study revealed that compared with daughters of nondieting women, 5-year-old girls whose mothers dieted <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-8223(00)00339-4">were aware of the connection between dieting and thinness</a>.</p> <p>Mothers’ eating behavior does not just affect girls’ ideas about dieting, but also their daughters’ eating behavior. The amount of food that mothers eat <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2018.04.018">predicts how much their daughters will eat</a>. In addition, daughters whose mothers are dieters are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2018.04.018">more likely to become dieters themselves</a> and are also <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2007.03.001">more likely to have a negative body image</a>.</p> <p>Negative body image is <a href="https://theconversation.com/mounting-research-documents-the-harmful-effects-of-social-media-use-on-mental-health-including-body-image-and-development-of-eating-disorders-206170">not a trivial matter</a>. It affects girls’ and women’s mental and physical well-being in a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105317710815">host of ways</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2011.06.009">can predict the emergence of eating disorders</a>.</p> <h2>Avoiding ‘fat talk’</h2> <p>What can moms do, then, to serve their daughters’ and their own health?</p> <p>They can focus on small steps. And although it is best to begin these efforts early in life – in girlhood – it is never too late to do so.</p> <p>For example, mothers can consider how they think about and talk about themselves around their daughters. Engaging in “fat talk” may inadvertently send their daughters the message that larger bodies are bad, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.07.004">contributing to weight bias</a> and negative self-image. Mothers’ fat talk also <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/15267431.2021.1908294">predicts later body dissatisfaction in daughters</a>.</p> <p>And negative self-talk isn’t good for mothers, either; it is associated with <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105318781943">lower motivation and unhealthful eating</a>. Mothers can instead practice and model self-compassion, which involves treating oneself the way <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.03.003">a loving friend might treat you</a>.</p> <p>In discussions about food and eating behavior, it is important to avoid moralizing certain kinds of food by labeling them as “good” or “bad,” as girls may extend these labels to their personal worth. For example, a young girl may feel that she is being “bad” if she eats dessert, if that is what she has learned from observing the women around her. In contrast, she may feel that she has to eat a salad to be “good.”</p> <p>Moms and other female role models can make sure that the dinner plate sends a healthy message to their daughters by showing instead that all foods can fit into a balanced diet when the time is right. Intuitive eating, which emphasizes paying attention to hunger and satiety and allows flexibility in eating behavior, is associated with <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-020-00852-4">better physical and mental health in adolescence</a>.</p> <p>Another way that women and especially moms can buffer girls’ body image is by helping their daughters <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2021.12.009">to develop media literacy</a> and to think critically about the nature and purpose of media. For example, moms can discuss the misrepresentation and distortion of bodies, such as the use of filters to enhance physical appearance, on social media.</p> <h2>Focusing on healthful behaviors</h2> <p>One way to begin to focus on health behaviors rather than dieting behaviors is to develop respect for the body and to <a href="https://theconversation.com/body-neutrality-what-it-is-and-how-it-can-help-lead-to-more-positive-body-image-191799">consider body neutrality</a>. In other words, prize body function rather than appearance and spend less time thinking about your body’s appearance. Accept that there are times when you may not feel great about your body, and that this is OK.</p> <p>To feel and look their best, mothers can aim to stick to a <a href="https://theconversation.com/whats-the-best-diet-for-healthy-sleep-a-nutritional-epidemiologist-explains-what-food-choices-will-help-you-get-more-restful-zs-219955">healthy sleep schedule</a>, manage their stress levels, <a href="https://theconversation.com/fiber-is-your-bodys-natural-guide-to-weight-management-rather-than-cutting-carbs-out-of-your-diet-eat-them-in-their-original-fiber-packaging-instead-205159">eat a varied diet</a> that includes all of the foods that they enjoy, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-runners-high-may-result-from-molecules-called-cannabinoids-the-bodys-own-version-of-thc-and-cbd-170796">move and exercise their bodies regularly</a> as lifelong practices, rather than engaging in quick-fix trends.</p> <p>Although many of these tips sound familiar, and perhaps even simple, they become effective when we recognize their importance and begin acting on them. Mothers can work toward modeling these behaviors and tailor each of them to their daughter’s developmental level. It’s never too early to start.</p> <h2>Promoting healthy body image</h2> <p>Science shows that several personal characteristics are associated with body image concerns among women.</p> <p>For example, research shows that women who are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.02.001">higher in neuroticism</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/2050-2974-1-2">and perfectionism</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.983534">lower in self-compassion</a> or <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2013.08.001">lower in self-efficacy</a> are all more likely to struggle with negative body image.</p> <p>Personality is frequently defined as a person’s characteristic pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors. But if they wish, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/per.1945">mothers can change personality characteristics</a> that they feel aren’t serving them well.</p> <p>For example, perfectionist tendencies – such as setting unrealistic, inflexible goals – can be examined, challenged and replaced with more rational thoughts and behaviors. A woman who believes she must work out every day can practice being more flexible in her thinking. One who thinks of dessert as “cheating” can practice resisting moral judgments about food.</p> <p>Changing habitual ways of thinking, feeling and behaving certainly takes effort and time, but it is far more likely than diet trends to bring about sustainable, long-term change. And taking the first steps to modify even a few of these habits can positively affect daughters.</p> <p>In spite of all the noise from media and other cultural influences, mothers can feel empowered knowing that they have a significant influence on their daughters’ feelings about, and treatment of, their bodies.</p> <p>In this way, mothers’ modeling of healthier attitudes and behaviors is a sound investment – for both their own body image and that of the girls they love.<!-- 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/221968/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/janet-j-boseovski-451496"><em>Janet J. Boseovski</em></a><em>, Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-north-carolina-greensboro-2069">University of North Carolina – Greensboro</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ashleigh-gallagher-1505989">Ashleigh Gallagher</a>, Senior Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-north-carolina-greensboro-2069">University of North Carolina – Greensboro</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/mothers-dieting-habits-and-self-talk-have-profound-impact-on-daughters-2-psychologists-explain-how-to-cultivate-healthy-behaviors-and-body-image-221968">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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15 money-saving habits self-made millionaires have in common

<p><strong>Start saving smarter</strong></p> <p>Learning how to save money like a self-made millionaire can mean the difference between stressing to dress and dressing to impress. It can help you retire younger so you’re able to see more of the world sooner. It can mean finally building that dream house. And more than anything, it can mean having the money when you truly need it.</p> <p>But let’s face it: Not all of us are natural savers. We waste our money on frivolous supermarket buys we’re convinced we have to have in the moment. We don’t bother with high-yield savings or investment accounts. And we have a tendency to try to keep up with the Joneses. In other words, we could really use the help of a self-made millionaire who not only knows the tricks to getting rich but is also skilled at saving. Luckily, we talked to some financial geniuses who were willing to share their expert tips on the money-saving strategies all self-made millionaires share.</p> <p>Whether you’re planning to retire at 30 or are opening your first savings account, these are the money-saving habits you should borrow from self-made millionaires to become one yourself someday.</p> <p><strong>They follow the 50-30-20 rule</strong> </p> <p>Forget complicated budgeting or uncomfortable belt-tightening; the secret to saving big might boil down to three simple numbers. Kimberly Palmer, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet, says that many a self-made millionaire follows the “50-30-20” rule.</p> <p>Using this formula, they put aside 50% of the money they earn for savings and necessities such as rent and groceries, 30% for lifestyle purchases like new clothing and 20% for fun activities like concerts or eating out. By regularly and intentionally setting aside a fixed amount of savings, the self-made millionaire builds a nest egg faster.</p> <p>Ready to try it for yourself? To get started, download a budget app to help you divvy up your income accordingly. “You might find that with some adjustments, such as shifting your food spending toward groceries and away from takeout and restaurants, or cutting back on monthly subscriptions, you can take steps toward reaching your wealth-building goals,” Palmer says.</p> <p><strong>They automate their finances</strong></p> <p>Budgeting is a smart move, but there are times when it can backfire, according to nine-time New York Times bestselling author David Bach, the founder of FinishRich.com. “You’re too busy, and you will just get frustrated and fail,” he says.</p> <p>Instead, self-made millionaires automate their financial lives so they can’t fail. That includes setting up a regular deposit into their savings accounts to be automatically withdrawn from their pay.</p> <p>Bach also recommends using autopay for many of your bills, including car payments, mortgage payments and credit card bills. Doing so helps you avoid missing a payment and getting hit with those pesky late fees, saving you money in the long run. Just make sure to leave out any of these bills you shouldn’t put on autopay.</p> <p><strong>They spend less than they earn</strong></p> <p>Believe it or not, “self-made millionaires don’t necessarily look like millionaires on the outside,” according to Palmer. Rather than spending money on flashy holidays or new clothes, “they often spend less than they earn so they can put their money into savings and investments,” she says.</p> <p>To maximise your savings like a self-made millionaire would, Palmer recommends taking stock of your personal spending and cutting back on categories that matter less to you. For example, if you enjoy taking a big holiday every year, consider cooking lunches and dinners at home to curb your spending at restaurants. On the flip side, maybe you would rather have a smaller clothing budget and create a capsule wardrobe to free up spending for dining out with your friends.</p> <p><strong>They avoid "want spending"</strong></p> <p>Another way self-made millionaires avoid spending more than they earn? They never fall into the trap of “want spending,” according to Tom Corley, an expert on wealth creation and author of Rich Habits. “According to Census Bureau data, there are approximately 30 million people who make more than they need but who are, nonetheless, one pay away from poverty,” he explains. “These individuals engage in something called want spending.”</p> <p>Are you a “want spender”? Corley’s research found that some of the biggest indicators include:</p> <ul> <li>Surrendering to instant gratification, forgoing savings in order to buy things you want now, be it a 60-inch TV, nice holiday, expensive car or fancy pair of shoes</li> <li>Spending too much going out to eat or ordering in</li> <li>Incurring debt in order to finance your standard of living</li> </ul> <p>Essentially, want spenders create their own poverty by rationalising their desire to spend in various ways, whether it be by planning to make more money in the future or relying on the economy improving down the line. That’s why self-made millionaires shun spending money on their wants and focus more on their needs and savings. That said, if you do want to make a purchase that you didn’t budget for, here are some quick ways to earn extra cash.</p> <p><strong>They're smart spenders </strong></p> <p>Impulse purchases can happen to the best of us. No, you didn’t need the trucker hat at the petrol station on your long, boring road trip. And yes, stuff like that, when made a habit, adds up. To prevent extraneous spending and save more money, Corley suggests a few specific strategies that self-made millionaires followed in his research:</p> <ul> <li>They buy in bulk. “If done properly and with the right items, buying in bulk can save your household money and reduce waste,” he says. Toilet paper, soap, laundry detergent, paper towels and shampoo are items proven much cheaper when bought in larger sizes. Prioritise food items like applesauce, canned goods or yoghurt, which can be portioned into glass jars and saved for future use.</li> <li>They create a meal plan. “If you can sketch out a menu for the week that utilises similar ingredients, you’ll have a more focused trip to the supermarket, and you’ll end up throwing less away weeks after it’s been shoved to the back recesses of the refrigerator,” says Corley. “Making a conscious effort here saves you money, and it keeps food waste out of landfills.” For other smart tricks to save money on groceries, consider following a budget grocery list and learning how to find coupons.</li> <li>They reduce energy costs. “Lowering your energy consumption is low-hanging fruit when it comes to cutting monthly expenses,” he explains. This can be as simple as swapping incandescent bulbs for CFLs or LEDs to lower your utility bill.</li> </ul> <p><strong>They prevent lifestyle creep </strong></p> <p>Whether you tried out a new side hustle idea or learned how to negotiate for a higher salary, you’re now bringing in more money. But be careful! It’s all too tempting to splurge on a bigger house or fancier car as your income grows. “It’s a common habit among many who suddenly find themselves making more money,” Corley says. But self-made millionaires avoid increasing their standard of living in order to match their growing income—a money-burning practice called lifestyle creep.</p> <p>In fact, Corley’s research found that a whopping 64% of self-made millionaires lived in a modest, middle-class home; 44% purchased used cars; 41% spent less than $3000 on their annual holiday; and 28% mowed their own lawn to save money.</p> <p>Here’s why lifestyle creep can hurt you financially: “Once you spend your money, it’s gone,” Corley says. “When you hit a bump in the road, such as a job loss, you are then forced to sell your stuff. If the stuff you purchased depreciated in value, you get pennies on the dollar.”</p> <p>As a good rule of thumb, he recommends spending no more than 25% of your annual net pay on housing costs and 5% on car costs, no matter how much you earn.</p> <p><strong>They don't lend money to friends or family </strong></p> <p>The self-made millionaire knows that your love for your family and friends shouldn’t be measured by your generosity, but sometimes that’s exactly what it comes down to. You’re inevitably left in an awkward bind: If you don’t provide a loan, there can be tension, but if you do, you may never get the funds back and might find yourself resenting your pal. “You will lose both your friend and the money, and you’re not a bank,” advises Bach.</p> <p>Say you do lend them money. Did you come up with an agreement for a timeline for repayments? When it comes to friends or family, setting such boundaries can be difficult, but it’s even more awkward to continuously ask for the money back.</p> <p>If self-made millionaires absolutely must lend money to someone near and dear, they make sure the loan isn’t open-ended. Bach recommends coming up with a timeline and sticking to it. You can also take advantage of companies that specialise in peer-to-peer lending, like Zirtue, which formalises loans between family members and friends.</p> <p><strong>They're frugal, not cheap </strong></p> <p>Although it may seem counterintuitive, buying cheaper products is not a common money-saving habit among self-made millionaires. In fact, Corley’s research found that 66% of poor people admitted to being cheap. “Cheap, to them, meant spending their money on the cheapest product or service available,” he explains. But cheap products break or deteriorate at a much quicker rate than quality products, which means you end up spending more in the long run.</p> <p>He also points out that, when looking for services, those who provide cheap ones are typically inexperienced or not very good at what they do. “If they were good, they would be able to command higher prices. Cheap service providers can get you in a lot of trouble, especially when it comes to taxes, legal representation or even just getting your car fixed. Cheap service providers are able to keep their fees down by paying their staff lower wages. This means they are not getting the best staff or are settling for inexperienced staff.”</p> <p>Being cheap won’t make you poor, but it will mean you save less money because you’re constantly shelling out for new products or services to replace the low-quality ones you bought in the first place. Self-made millionaires focus on buying fewer, higher-quality products that will last a long time.</p> <p><strong>They don't play the comparison game</strong></p> <p>Keeping up with the Joneses is more tempting (and common!) then you might think. According to a recent NerdWallet survey, 83% of Americans say they overspend due to social pressures from seeing others dining at expensive restaurants or taking fancy trips abroad. “It’s easy to get caught up in overspending, especially when you see peers or neighbours spending more than you on cars, houses or vacations,” Palmer says.</p> <p>But when rich people feel green with envy, Palmer says, they put things into perspective—and keep in mind that what they’re seeing may not be the entire picture. “It’s important to take a step back and realise you might not want the same things they have, or they might be creating financial stress for themselves by buying those things,” she says.</p> <p><strong>They pay themselves first </strong></p> <p>By setting aside a portion of their income every day, week or month—in other words, “paying yourself first”—self-made millionaires take one of the most important steps towards building wealth, according to Bach. “You’re going to work 90,000 hours over your lifetime; you should keep at least an hour a day of the income,” he says.</p> <p>He recommends setting aside an hour’s worth of your income each day and then saving and investing it—preferably automatically to begin earning some passive income and reach that high-roller status.</p> <p><strong>They find a passive income source</strong></p> <p>Speaking of passive income, self-made millionaires save even more money by investing their savings in an account that creates passive income through accumulated interest, such as a high-yield savings or investment account. There are several types of accounts to consider, and ultimately, the one you choose will depend on your financial goals.</p> <p>“No strategy is a one-size-fits-all approach, since everyone’s financial situation is unique and different,” Palmer says. She recommends speaking with a financial advisor to learn the right strategy for you and to avoid the most common retirement-planning mistakes.</p> <p><strong>They put away the credit card</strong></p> <p>Credit cards can sabotage even the best of savers, according to Corley. “Credit card use can easily get out of control,” he says. “If you rely on credit cards to pay for ordinary living expenses, that means you are living beyond your means.”</p> <p>Not only are there high interest rates on credit card debt, but paying with plastic could also trick you into spending more money. In a study published in the journal Marketing Letters, MIT researchers found that shoppers spend up to 100% more when paying with a credit card—and were even willing to pay twice as much for an item as those who paid in cash.</p> <p>The 100-day credit card money-saving challenge could help you break bad spending habits, according to Corley. Essentially, the goal is to go 100 days without using your credit cards for purchases. The result? “Having to use cash or your ATM card forces spending awareness and restricts how much you can spend,” Corley says.</p> <p><strong>They design their dreams </strong></p> <p>What do you want your life to look like in five, 10 or 20 years? Self-made millionaires always know their answer to this question, Corley says. He calls this dream-setting or creating a clear vision of your ideal future life. From there, you should set and pursue financial goals that will help you accomplish those dreams. “Dream-setting is a springboard for creating the goals you’ll need in order to help you get to your destination,” he says.</p> <p>For example, if you want to earn a master’s degree so you can get a job with a higher salary, you can set goals like setting aside two hours every day to study for the graduate record exam (GRE). “Goals are the transportation system to your ideal future life,” Corley says. “Once you have a clear vision of your destination, the goals you’ll need to achieve will magically manifest themselves out of thin air.”</p> <p><strong>They invest in themselves </strong></p> <p>There’s no question that saving and investing your money is key to accumulating wealth fast. But according to Corley, the first (and most important!) money-saving habit that self-made millionaires practice is investing in themselves—whether that means reading for at least 30 minutes a day, listening to podcasts during a long commute or seeking out career mentors.</p> <p>Exactly how should you invest in yourself? The self-made millionaires in Corley’s research focused their daily reading on content that was directly related to the dreams and goals they were pursuing.</p> <p><strong>They never give up</strong></p> <p>Maybe it sounds cliche, but it’s the type of mindset that will keep you above water. “No matter what happens, no matter how many times you fail, as long as you get up and try again, you haven’t lost,” says Bach. So commit to the sort of money-saving tricks a self-made millionaire would follow, but give yourself a break if you fall off the wagon. Dust yourself off and recommit to your saving strategies.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/money/15-money-saving-habits-self-made-millionaires-have-in-common?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Money & Banking

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Martin Scorsese exposes Leo DiCaprio’s irritating on-set habit

<p dir="ltr">Martin Scorsese has exposed Leo DiCaprio’s irritating on-set habit that came to light while the pair were filming the new movie <em>Killers of the Flower Moon</em>. </p> <p dir="ltr">The award-winning director called out the A-list actor in a conversation with the <em><a href="https://www.wsj.com/style/martin-scorsese-killers-flower-moon-b4989f0c" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Wall Street Journal</a></em>, saying that the <em>Titanic</em> star tends to flesh details out and improv while filming, describing his technique as “endless, endless, endless!”</p> <p dir="ltr">Although Scorsese and DiCaprio have worked together on six other films, there was one more actor on the set of the new film that could not stand the ad libbing: Robert de Niro.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Then Bob didn’t want to talk,” Scorsese explained. “Every now and then, Bob and I would look at each other and roll our eyes a little bit. And we’d tell him, ‘You don’t need that dialogue.’”</p> <p dir="ltr">While de Niro wasn’t able to deal with DiCaprio’s improv, director Quentin Tarantino said the actor’s famous freakout scene as Rick Dalton in <em>Once Upon a Time in Hollywood </em>“wasn’t in the script,” but was brought to the table by DiCaprio himself, and took the film to another level. </p> <p dir="ltr">Despite the “endless” technique of DiCaprio’s acting, Scorsese said the actor was instrumental in the film’s success, after he helped determine that the film needed a rewrite in order to avoid being a “movie about all the white guys.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“It just didn’t get to the heart of the Osage,” DiCaprio told <em><a href="https://deadline.com/2023/05/martin-scorsese-interview-killers-of-the-flower-moon-leonardo-dicaprio-robert-de-niro-1235359006/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Deadline</a></em> in May, with reference to the original script. </p> <p dir="ltr">“It felt too much like an investigation into detective work, rather than understanding from a forensic perspective the culture and the dynamics of this very tumultuous, dangerous time in Oklahoma.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Killers of the Flower Moon</em> is in cinemas now. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Movies

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11 simple daily habits of couples in healthy relationships

<p><strong>The secrets of happy relationships </strong></p> <p>Do you expect your partner to take out the bins every week without ever being thanked? Can you recall the last time you paid your partner a compliment? Find out the secrets of people in a happy and healthy relationship.</p> <p><strong>They Netflix and chill together </strong></p> <p>There are many little ways to boost your marriage – and chief among them is simple companionship. Even if you’re couch surfing, do it together. Spending time with one another is one of the highlights of a healthy relationship. If he’s reading a book, grab one and cuddle up next to him. Bring him a drink while he’s mowing the lawn. Does washing the car bore you to tears? Then simply stand nearby and chat while he suds it up.</p> <p>“In the beginning, couples go out of their way to impress each other and create new ‘first memories’ together,” says Julie Spira, an online dating expert, CEO of Cyber-Dating Expert and author of <em>The Perils of Cyber-Dating</em>. “After a while, just being together rises to the top of the relationship totem pole.” And there’s nothing wrong with a good binge-watch. One study found a direct link between media consumption while together and relationship satisfaction.</p> <p><strong>They compliment one another</strong></p> <p>Here’s how to have a healthy relationship: Tell him how hot he is. Or that he smells delicious. Give her rear a smack in those jeans you adore. Happy couples know how to give a sincere compliment in the moment. In fact, a study found that receiving a compliment has the same positive effect as receiving cash.</p> <p>“Compliments are the quickest way to put a smile on your partner’s face,” says Spira. “Find something appealing about the other and never forget what attracted you to him in the first place. If it’s her ability to fill in the Sunday crossword puzzle or his ability to take charge when you need it, let each other know.”</p> <p><strong>They say those three little words</strong></p> <p>If you’re looking to build a stronger relationship, you’re going to need to say “I love you.” Happy couples say it throughout the day – when they wake up, when they’re eating lunch, when they go to sleep. “Saying I love you to your partner, whether it’s first thing in the morning or at bedtime, is important,” says Bonnie Winston, a celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert.</p> <p>“And saying it with a shared kiss makes it extra special.” She says for variation to try other meaningful three-word phrases like “You amaze me,” “You enthrall me,” “I adore you,” or “You’re my everything.” They slip it into conversation whenever they can. Just be sure that you say these words genuinely. “Those three little words are great to say, as long as you say them with intent and not just purely out of habit,” says Alexis Meads, a professional dating coach.</p> <p><strong>They say thank you</strong></p> <p>One of the best ways to make your spouse feel loved is to show graciousness – even for something as seemingly trivial as picking up the kids from a playdate or grabbing a carton of milk at the supermarket. “Appreciation for all the good your partner contributes to your life is vital,” says Gilda Carle, PhD, relationship expert and author of <em>Ask for What You Want AND GET IT</em>. “Thank-yous go a long way to continuing wedded bliss.” In fact, a study in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased an athlete’s self-esteem, which is a component of an optimal performance.</p> <p>For the sake of your relationship, it’s important to express your appreciation for what your significant other does for you. “No one wants to feel taken for granted,” says Antonia Hall, MA, a psychologist and relationship expert. “By finding things each day for which you’re grateful and expressing it to your sweetie, you foster positive connectivity with him. It will make him feel appreciated and often sparks his desire to want to please you all the more.”</p> <p><strong>They show PDA</strong></p> <p>Public displays of affection aren’t just for teenagers. Happy couples aren’t afraid to show their affection for one in another – even in public. “Intimacy and touch keeps you connected with your partner,” says Hall. “It fosters a connectedness that supports a strong and happy relationship.” Don’t worry, you don’t need to have a full-on make-out session in front of your in-laws. But you can keep your love alive by holding hands at the mall or snuggling at the kids’ sports game. A little PDA goes a long way.</p> <p>“Just touching your partner will help you feel more connected, both physically, emotionally and intellectually,” says Spira. “Plus, it’s a great form of foreplay.” Not to mention that it shows that you’re vulnerable. “When vulnerability is shown and nurtured, then trust in your relationship has the ability to grow,” says Kristie Overstreet, a licensed professional clinical counsellor, certified sex therapist and author of <em>Fix Yourself First: 25 Tips to Stop Ruining Your Relationship</em>.</p> <p><strong>They check in with one another</strong></p> <p>You don’t have to speak on the phone or text 24/7, but couples in healthy relationships call or text – to show the dog’s latest mess, a funny street sign, or for no reason at all. “Checking in with one another boosts feelings of ardour and security,” Winston says. Dr Carle adds, “People who check in with one another during their busy days are letting their partner know they’re thinking of them, despite all the other things going on.”</p> <p><strong>They go to bed at the same time</strong></p> <p>“This doesn’t mean that you both have to fall asleep. But at least wind the night down and get into the bed at the same time,” says Overstreet. “This gives you the opportunity to close the day together, which is very important.” Research shows that 75 percent of couples don’t go to bed at the same time, usually because one person is surfing the web, working or watching TV.</p> <p>Happy couples do their best not to stay up late cleaning the kitchen or folding laundry while the other catches some shuteye. Save the chores for another time. “In my experience as a relationship therapist, couples that go to bed at the same time have a more trusting relationship than those who don’t,” says Overstreet. Bedtime is an opportunity to talk about the day ahead and maybe have a quickie before you hit the hay too.</p> <p><strong>They laugh together </strong></p> <p>Soccer is at 4pm; doctor’s appointment is at 5:30pm.; remember to pick up a pizza on the way home. It’s easy to get into the habit of talking only about the logistics of life and kids. Healthy couples make it a habit to laugh together – often. It keeps the joy and spirit alive in your relationship.</p> <p>A new paper from US professor Jeffrey Hall gives data-backed validity to something you may have figured for yourself: couples who laugh together, stay together. “Find a way to make each other laugh,” says Spira. “Whether it’s watching a funny television show together or doing some playful teasing, laughter and happiness go hand-in-hand.”</p> <p><strong>They share a hobby</strong></p> <p>Tennis anyone? How about writing music? Happy couples take up a hobby that they can do together. Even if they don’t have common interests, happy couples will develop them. Maybe they try new restaurants together or volunteer at the local soup kitchen side by side once a week. “By no means do you need to do everything together,” says Meads.</p> <p>“However, couples who stay together have fun doing some of the same things.” When couples see their relationship as full of fun, they’re more likely to be happier over the long term. “Adding your mutual hobby to your schedule gives you something to look forward to and a memory to look back upon,” says Spira. And living a stimulating life outside the bedroom will lead to a stimulating life inside it.</p> <p><strong>They ask for what they need</strong></p> <p>Happy couples ask for what they need and listen to each other’s requests. “Healthy relationships encourage people to be authentic in their feelings so they can genuinely express themselves,” says Dr Carle. You’re doomed if you just hope that your partner will be a mind reader and “just know” what you’re thinking.</p> <p>Happy couples openly talk about their needs and understand their differences. “When your significant other does something you like, tell him so,” says Winston. “This will give him a feeling of validation and he’ll continue to want to please you.”</p> <p><strong>They're a team </strong></p> <p>“With a team mentality, couples lift each other up and are stronger together,” says Hall. “They make sacrifices to benefit the long-term partnership.” They make decisions together – one person doesn’t call all the shots. It can be small issues like deciding what to watch on the TV to bigger issues like figuring out where you want to raise a family. “Knowing your partner has your back and vice versa is a great source of comfort in the game of love,” says Spira.</p> <p>You function as a unit and think in terms of “we” instead of “I.” Remember that you’re on the same team, says relationship expert Andrea Syrtash, author of<em> Cheat on Your Husband (with Your Husband)</em>. “It doesn’t make sense to have a winner and a loser in an argument,” Syrtash says. “You’re more likely to fight more fairly when you consider this.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/relationships/11-daily-habits-of-couples-in-healthy-relationships?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Relationships

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4 bad exercise habits & how to stop them

<p>Finding the time and motivation to exercise amongst the business of life is already a feat on its own. If you’re being active and keeping at it, take a moment to pat yourself on the back because you’re doing great. However, we are creature of habits and with time, even with our best intentions, we fall into traps that can work against us.</p> <p>No matter how hard we train, at one point or another we reach a plateau, a comfortable spot where if we don’t take action we can actually start undoing all the amazing work put in so far. You might feel like you’re not progressing, your focus is just not there anymore and you can’t even remember why you’re exercising in the first place. Time for a little “shake up”. Let’ look at how to do it.</p> <ol> <li><strong>You are on autopilot</strong></li> </ol> <p>It is quite easy to fall into a lull: your body follows a routine like it’s second nature, the mind is turned off and you find yourself running the same 5km track on autopilot. What you don’t necessarily know is that when your body does the same exercise every time, it is actually de-conditioning. Thankfully, you only need a few tweaks to wake up from the trance and progress again.</p> <p>Pick one thing in your exercise routine that you can rejig and give it deliberate attention: it could be run a different route (or change directions), walk somewhere different, join a different class, exercise with a friend, increase your time once a week or your distance. Keep it fresh so you can wake your mind and body.</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>You are overcommitted</strong></li> </ol> <p>It’s only human to want something, to want it badly and to want it now. So we throw ourselves at it 110% with great expectations and enthusiasm, but life is hectic and often we can’t sustain it all. The secret to overwhelm is to ‘slowburn’, find your own pace. Ask yourself if your expectations and exercise goals are realistic and achievable with what is on your plate at the moment.</p> <p>Ultra marathon runners are the kings of slowburn, they think long term, they train incrementally, they know they can only go the distance if they build their skills and condition bit by bit, over time. Think of training as a long term game, something you want to keep doing forever.</p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong>You are out of sync</strong></li> </ol> <p>Our external world can be pretty fixed as far as time goes: we work 9-5, we eat at 12:30pm, we exercise around those times, when we can fit it in. Our body though has an internal clock that runs to its own beat and so it is easy to get out of synch. The research on circadian rhythm has now mapped out when it’s the best time to exercise: too early in the morning and you’re not quite ready yet, too late in the evening and you can disrupt your sleep.</p> <p>The early afternoon is when activity levels, coordination and power are at their peak so that’s the ideal time to train. If you are restricted by fixed working hours, maybe take your lunch break a little later and exercise when you’re more in synch with your internal clock.</p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong>You are not investing in recovery</strong></li> </ol> <p>If you’re exercising chances are you follow a routine, or at least you try to stick to a regular schedule. You have days when you are active and “days off” when you can rest. Truth is, those quieter days in between are more than just times when you can take a break, they are your recovery days, a key aspect of your training. Recovery means exercising in a lower gear and with less load so you can work on nuances of your performance and reinforce good habits.</p> <p>As we get older your recovery days become a greater priority to help maintain muscle strength and continue to progress without using all your precious resources. So if you love cycling for example, have a spin day as recovery: you’ll still be doing the same movement turning your legs over but at different intensity. If you are a runner maybe go for a walk or hike on terrain, even the beach.</p> <p>No matter what exercise habit you inevitably fall into, just remember that going back to the reason why you are exercising will always steer you back in the right direction. It could be for health reasons or because you want to be the best for your family.</p> <p>It could be because you want to challenge yourself or bring a bit of change into your life. Your why is gold because it resonates with you, because it is you, and will always make you focus on what really matters.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><strong><em style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; caret-color: #212529; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji';">Dr Brett Lillie, author of Rediscover Your Athlete Within, is a sought-after speaker, coach and rehab professional who helps people rekindle their love for movement and find their mojo so they can live their best life. To find out more about Dr Brett’s programs, go to his website <a style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #258440; text-decoration: none; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out 0s;" href="https://www.brettlillie.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">www.brettlillie.com</a></em></strong></p>

Body

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Counting the wrong sheep: why trouble sleeping is about more than just individual lifestyles and habits

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mary-breheny-1269716">Mary Breheny</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/te-herenga-waka-victoria-university-of-wellington-1200">Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rosie-gibson-1051224">Rosie Gibson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/massey-university-806">Massey University</a></em></p> <p>Sleep may seem straightforward – everyone does it, after all. But as many of us know, getting enough sleep is not necessarily a simple task, despite what you might read in the media.</p> <p>How to sleep “properly” is a favourite topic of self-help articles, with <a href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/health/expert-advice-good-nights-sleep-27900333">headlines</a> such as “Expert advice to get a good night’s sleep whatever your age” promising the answer to your nocturnal awakenings.</p> <p>Older people are commonly the audience of these messages. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnad058">Our analysis</a> of articles published in the New Zealand media between 2018 and 2021 found sleep is presented as inevitably declining with age.</p> <p>At the same time, sleep is portrayed as a cure for everything: a good night’s sleep is depicted as a way to maintain productivity, ward off illness and dementia, and ultimately live longer.</p> <p>But most of these articles are aimed at the individual and what they can do to improve their sleep. Often missing is any reference to the external factors that can contribute to poor sleep.</p> <h2>Personal choice and sleep</h2> <p>A key message in many of the articles we examined is that sleep is a simple matter of making the right choices. So, if you’re not getting enough sleep it’s probably your own fault.</p> <p>People are lectured about poor “<a href="https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/%7E/media/CCI/Mental-Health-Professionals/Sleep/Sleep---Information-Sheets/Sleep-Information-Sheet---04---Sleep-Hygiene.pdf">sleep hygiene</a>” – staying up too late looking at their phone, having too many cups of coffee, or not getting enough exercise during the day.</p> <p>And it’s true, drinking too much caffeine or staring at a screen into the small hours might interfere with sleep. It’s also true that good sleep is important for good health.</p> <p>But things are a bit more complicated than this. As anyone who has struggled to maintain good sleep knows, simple tips don’t always overcome the complex situations that contribute to these struggles.</p> <h2>Awake to other factors</h2> <p>Good sleep is not just a matter of “making the right choices”. Internationally, there’s a growing body of research showing sleep is affected by much more than individual behaviour: it’s often shaped by a person’s <a href="https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-040119-094412">social and economic circumstances</a>.</p> <p>New Zealand research is adding to this pool of knowledge. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S235272181600019X?via=ihub">One study</a>, based on survey results from just over 4,000 people, found insufficient sleep was more common among Māori than non-Māori, partly due to higher rates of night work.</p> <p>International <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6524484/">research</a> has also found women are more likely to experience insomnia due to their caregiving roles.</p> <p>One US study found unpaid caregivers for children or parents (or both) reported shorter sleep quantity and poorer sleep quality than paid caregivers or people without such roles. A <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1471301220915071">survey</a> of 526 carers in New Zealand showed two-thirds reported mild or severe sleep disturbance.</p> <p>We also know lack of sleep is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/chronic_disease.html">linked to serious disease</a>, including diabetes and heart disease. Sleep duration and quality have been identified as predictors of levels of haemoglobin A1c, an important marker of blood sugar control.</p> <p>And hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease and irregular heartbeats have been found to be more common among those with disordered sleep than those without sleep abnormalities.</p> <p>Failure to acknowledge the social context of poor sleep means sleep messages in the media ignore the fundamental causes in favour of the illusion of a quick fix.</p> <h2>The commodification of sleep</h2> <p>Sleep is also increasingly characterised as a commodity, with a growing market for products – such as sleep trackers – that claim to help improve sleep quality.</p> <p>Sleep trackers promise to measure and enhance sleep performance. However, their reliability may be limited – <a href="https://mhealth.jmir.org/2021/6/e26462">one study found</a> the tested tracker did not accurately detect sleep, particularly in older adults who had greater levels of nighttime movement.</p> <p>Framing public health problems as matters of personal choice is common. Alcohol and fast-food consumption, for example, are regularly presented as <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1745691619896252">matters of individual responsibility</a> and poor personal choices. The <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hpja.737">role of marketing</a> and access to healthy food gets a lot less attention.</p> <p>Of course, simple tips for getting good sleep may be useful for some people. But ignoring the underlying social and economic factors that shape the possibilities for good sleep will not address the problem.</p> <p>Health promotion messages that focus on individual behaviour miss <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9566.12112">the structural barriers to better health</a>, including poverty, low levels of education, high rates of incarceration, substandard or crowded housing and racism.</p> <p>We need to move beyond messages of individual behaviour change and start talking about inequities that contribute to the problem of who gets a decent night’s sleep and who doesn’t.<!-- 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/210695/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/mary-breheny-1269716">Mary Breheny</a>, Associate Professor of Health Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/te-herenga-waka-victoria-university-of-wellington-1200">Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rosie-gibson-1051224">Rosie Gibson</a>, Senior lecturer, School of Psychology, Massey University, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/massey-university-806">Massey 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/counting-the-wrong-sheep-why-trouble-sleeping-is-about-more-than-just-individual-lifestyles-and-habits-210695">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Does artificial sweetener aspartame really cause cancer? What the WHO listing means for your diet soft drink habit

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250">Evangeline Mantzioris</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the specialised cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has declared aspartame may be a <a href="https://www.who.int/news/item/14-07-2023-aspartame-hazard-and-risk-assessment-results-released">possible carcinogenic hazard to humans</a>.</p> <p>Another branch of the WHO, the Joint WHO and Food and Agriculture Organization’s Expert Committee on Food Additives has assessed the risk and developed recommendations on how much aspartame is safe to consume. They have recommended the acceptable daily intake be 0 to 40mg per kilo of body weight, as we currently have <a href="https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/additives/aspartame/Pages/default.aspx">in Australia</a>.</p> <p>A hazard is different to a risk. The hazard rating means it’s an agent that is capable of causing cancer; a risk measures the likelihood it could cause cancer.</p> <p>So what does this hazard assessment mean for you?</p> <h2>Firstly, what is aspartame?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/additives/aspartame/Pages/default.aspx">Aspartame is an artificial sweetener</a> that is 200 times sweeter than sugar, but without any kilojoules.</p> <p>It’s used in a <a href="https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/additives/aspartame/Pages/default.aspx">variety of products</a> including carbonated drinks such as Coke Zero, Diet Coke, Pepsi Max and some home brand offerings. You can identify aspartame in drinks and foods by looking for additive number 951.</p> <p>Food products such as yogurt and confectionery may also contain aspartame, but it’s not stable at warm temperatures and thus not used in baked goods.</p> <p>Commercial names of aspartame include Equal, Nutrasweet, Canderel and Sugar Twin. In Australia the acceptable daily intake is 40mg per kilo of body weight per day, which is about 60 sachets.</p> <p><a href="https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/aspartame-and-other-sweeteners-food#:%7E:text=How%20many%20packets%20can%20a,based%20on%20its%20sweetness%20intensity%3F&amp;text=Notes%20About%20the%20Chart%3A,50%20mg%2Fkg%20bw%2Fd">In America</a> the acceptable daily intake has been set at 75 sachets.</p> <h2>What evidence have they used to come to this conclusion?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.who.int/news/item/14-07-2023-aspartame-hazard-and-risk-assessment-results-released">IARC looked closely</a> at the <a href="https://cdn.who.int/media/docs/default-source/nutrition-and-food-safety/july-13-final-summary-of-findings-aspartame.pdf?sfvrsn=a531e2c1_5&amp;download=true">evidence base</a> from around the world – using data from observational studies, experimental studies and animal studies.</p> <p>They found there was some limited evidence in human studies linking aspartame and cancer (specifically liver cancer) and limited evidence from animal studies as well.</p> <p>They also considered the biological mechanism studies which showed how cancer may develop from the consumption of aspartame. Usually these are lab-based studies which show exactly how exposure to the agent may lead to a cancer. In this case they found there was limited evidence for how aspartame might cause cancer.</p> <p>There were only three human studies that looked at cancer and aspartame intake. These large observational studies used the intake of soft drinks as an indicator of aspartame intake.</p> <p>All three found a positive association between artificially sweetened beverages and liver cancer in either all of the population they were studying or sub-groups within them. But these studies could not rule out other factors that may have been responsible for the findings.</p> <p>A study <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6284800/">conducted in Europe</a> followed 475,000 people for 11 years and found that each additional serve of diet soft drink consumed per week was linked to a 6% increased risk of liver cancer. However the scientists did conclude that due to the rarity of liver cancer they still had small numbers of people in the study.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35728406/">In a study from the US</a>, increased risk of liver cancer was seen in people with diabetes who drank more than two or more cans of a diet soda a week.</p> <p>The <a href="https://aacrjournals.org/cebp/article/31/10/1907/709398/Sugar-and-Artificially-Sweetened-Beverages-and">third study</a>, also from the US, found an increase in liver cancer risk in men who never smoked and drank two or more artificially sweetened drinks a day.</p> <p>From this they have decided to declare aspartame as a Group 2b “possible carcinogen”. But they have also said more and better research is needed to further understand the relationship between aspartame and cancer.</p> <p>IARC has four categories (groupings) available for potential substances (or as they are referred to by IARC, “agents”) that may cause cancer.</p> <h2>What does each grouping mean?</h2> <p><strong>Group 1 Carcinogenic to humans:</strong> an agent in this group is carcinogenic, which means there is convincing evidence from human studies and we know precisely <em>how</em> it causes cancer. There are 126 agents in this group, including tobacco smoking, alcohol, processed meat, radiation and ionising radiation.</p> <p><strong>Group 2a Probably carcinogenic to humans:</strong> there are positive associations between the agent and cancer in humans, but there may still be other explanations for the association which were not fully examined in the studies. There are 95 agents in this group, including red meat, DDT insecticide and night shift work.</p> <p><strong>Group 2b Possibly carcinogenic in humans:</strong> this means limited evidence of causing cancer in humans, but sufficient evidence from animal studies, or the mechanism of how the agent may be carcinogenic is well understood. This basically means the current evidence indicates an agent may possibly be carcinogenic, but more scientific evidence from better conducted studies is needed. There are now <a href="https://monographs.iarc.who.int/agents-classified-by-the-iarc/">323</a> agents in this group, including aloe vera (whole leaf extract), ginkgo biloba and lead.</p> <p><strong>Group 3 Not classifiable as a carcinogen:</strong> there’s not enough evidence from humans or animals, and there is limited mechanistic evidence of how it may be a carcinogen. There are 500 agents in this group.</p> <h2>So do I have to give up my diet soft drink habit?</h2> <p>For a 70kg person you would need to consume about 14 cans (over 5 litres) of soft drink sweetened with aspartame a day to reach the acceptable daily intake.</p> <p>But we need to remember there may also be aspartame added in other foods consumed. So this is an unrealistic amount to consume, but not impossible.</p> <p>We also need to consider all the evidence on aspartame together. The foods we typically see aspartame in are processed or ultra-processed, which have recently also been <a href="https://theconversation.com/ultra-processed-foods-are-trashing-our-health-and-the-planet-180115">shown to be detrimental to health</a>.</p> <p>And artificial sweeteners (including aspartame) <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892765/#!po=59.3750">can make people crave more sugar</a>, making them want to eat more food, potentially causing them to gain more weight.</p> <p>All together, this indicates we should be more careful about the amount of artificial sweeteners we consume, since they <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-who-says-we-shouldnt-bother-with-artificial-sweeteners-for-weight-loss-or-health-is-sugar-better-205827">do not provide any health benefits</a>, and have possible adverse effects.</p> <p>But overall, from this evidence, drinking the occasional or even daily can of a diet drink is safe and probably not a cancer risk.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Correction: this article originally stated each serve of soft drink in a study was linked to a 6% increased risk of liver cancer, however it was each additional serve per week. This has been amended.<!-- 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/208844/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/evangeline-mantzioris-153250">Evangeline Mantzioris</a>, Program Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Accredited Practising Dietitian, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</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/does-artificial-sweetener-aspartame-really-cause-cancer-what-the-who-listing-means-for-your-diet-soft-drink-habit-208844">original article</a>.</em></p>

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6 habits of people who don’t get sick

<p>Winter is a dangerous time. Although cold temperatures themselves don’t cause us to get sick, our winter habits invite the spread of germs and risk of contagion is high.</p> <p>If you find yourself sick every winter, here are some useful habits of those healthy people to take up.</p> <p><strong>1. They get enough sleep</strong></p> <p>It’s easy to experience disrupted sleep during winter. When air is too cold, it will negatively affect melatonin production and cause the body's sleep cycle to be disrupted. However, research shows that people who sleep only five to six hours a night have a 30 per cent chance of catching a cold when exposed to the virus; those who get more than seven hours reduce their risk to 17 per cent.</p> <p><strong>2. They pay extra attention to hygiene</strong></p> <p>With more germs in the air, now is the time to stay conscious about where they may be festering. Key areas include bathroom door handles, taps, fridges, elevator buttons and public transport. Keep antibacterial wipes on you so whenever you touch a high risk surface, you can cleanse you hand before eating, or touching your face and eyes.</p> <p><strong>3. They exercise regularly</strong></p> <p>Winter is notorious for zapping our work-out motivation. However, exercise strengthens the immune system and makes you less likely to catch upper respiratory infections.</p> <p><strong>4. The get their flu shot</strong></p> <p>Flu shots, approved for all adults, are effective 50 to 60 per cent of the time in preventing the flu and may also reduce the severity of symptoms.</p> <p><strong>5. They don’t smoke</strong></p> <p>Cigarette smoke appears to damage the mucus membranes, which act as the frontline barrier to infectious agents, making smokers twice as likely to catch a cold and several times more likely to develop the flu.</p> <p><strong>6. They enjoy a drink</strong></p> <p>Harvard University School of Public Health researchers found that red wine was particularly protective against colds, probably due to the anti-inflammatory action of the phenol, resveratrol. Just keep in mind that drinking more than two glasses a day raises the risk for infections.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

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This eating habit is key to losing weight

<p>New research has found the time of day you eat is key to losing weight.</p> <p>The findings reveal that your best efforts to cut back may prove ineffective if you’re not timing your meals correctly.</p> <p>A study found that mice lost weight when they were given a reduced calorie diet and only ate during the day.</p> <p>Rodents who consumed the same diet but ate at night did not reap the same results.</p> <p>Lead author of the study, Dr Joseph Takahashi, said, “Translated into human behaviour, these studies suggest that dieting will only be effective if calories are consumed during the daytime when we are awake and active.”</p> <p>Dr Takahashi added, “They further suggest that eating at the wrong time at night will not lead to weight loss even when dieting.”</p> <p>Scientists from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center also believe the timing of meals is important as it also affects circadian rhythms, the body’s 24-hour clock.</p> <p>They have highlighted how the research may explain how dietary habits impact lifespan.</p> <p>The study observed this by testing the day/night cycles of mice under different feeding schedules.</p> <p>Two groups of mice were fed at the wrong time during their normal cycle. One group was given 30 per cent less calories and the other group had unlimited food, but both groups were more active at night.</p> <p>Various research has associated sleep problems with an increased risk of obesity.</p> <p>“'It has been known for decades that calorie restriction prolongs lifespan in animals, but these types of studies are very difficult to conduct because they required manual feeding of subjects over many years," Dr Takahashi said</p> <p>“This automated system, which can be scaled up for large and very long longevity studies, provides the means to address open questions about what mechanisms extend lifespan in mammals.”</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>The research was published in the journal Cell Metabolism. </em></p>

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Tina Turner’s 12 daily habits that helped her live 83 inspired years

<h3>How did Tina Turner live such a long and successful life?</h3> <p>If you’ve ever seen Tina Turner perform live – which she last did on New Year’s Eve 2022 – you might have thought the music icon seemed ageless… immortal, even. From her powerhouse voice to electrifying stage presence and energetic dancing, you would never have known she was 83 years old. But earlier this year she became ill, with some sources reporting intestinal cancer and a stroke. On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, Tina Turner’s family announced she died peacefully at her home in Switzerland.</p> <p>Born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in Nutbush, Tennessee, Turner never had an easy life. In the 1960s and ’70s, she rose to fame as the lead singer of the Ike &amp; Tina Turner Revue, performing with her then-husband, before launching her decades-long solo career. Tina Turner was known just as much for her personal struggles and shared her experiences openly with her fans, earning a reputation for female strength.</p> <p>So how did Tina Turner live such a long and successful life despite her many struggles? The answer is that good genetics and chance likely played their roles, but a lot of the credit goes to her healthy lifestyle. Tina Turner had some famously great health habits and a resilient attitude. Ready to take notes from the Queen of Rock-n-roll? Following her lead won’t make you a famous singer (but who are we to crush your dreams?), but it will definitely make you happier and healthier.</p> <h4>1. Tina Turner maintained a spiritual practice</h4> <p>Turner grew up Southern Baptist but as her spirituality evolved, she eventually turned to Buddhism, crediting it for giving her a purpose in life – one of the best things you can do for your health and happiness. “After I began practicing Buddhism, I realised that my hardships could give me a mission – a purpose. I saw that by overcoming my obstacles, I could build indestructible happiness and inspire others to do the same,” she said in an interview with the Harvard Business Review. “I credit my spiritual practice with all the positive transformations – from the smallest to the largest – I’ve had in my career and personal life.”</p> <h4>2. Getting 10 (!) hours of sleep each night</h4> <p>Thanks to her rigorous touring schedule, Turner’s internal clock was set to ET (entertainment time, that is). “I am late to bed and late to rise, a habit of years of rock and roll touring,” she told Vogue in an interview. But, she admitted, she still prioritised getting enough shut-eye – “a good night’s sleep is the key,” she said, adding she aimed for about 10 hours each night.</p> <h4>3. Tina Turner meditated daily</h4> <p>Turner meditated daily and chanted a mantra when she felt anxious or stressed. One of her go-to mantras was change poison into medicine, to remind her to reframe negative situations or roadblocks and transform or remove them through positivity. “This allowed my true self to come out, and I became cheerful, confident, and resilient,” she wrote in her book Happiness Becomes You. “My approach to life and work became calmer and more thoughtful, and my reactions were more tempered.”</p> <h4>4. Tina Turner Loved to move</h4> <p>The key to making exercise a regular habit is to find something you genuinely love doing. For Turner that was clearly dancing, something she did with unabashed joy on stage. When Vogue asked what her exercise routine was to shape her famous legs, she replied, “Dancing! Any excuse and I will dance anywhere.”</p> <h4>5. Tina Turner had a strong a creative outlet</h4> <p>Songwriting was one of Turner’s greatest gifts, alongside her singing. But it wasn’t something that came easily to her and she dedicated countless hours to writing and composing. This creative outlet not only gave her a healthy outlet for her feelings but doing creative things, like writing, singing and painting have huge cognitive benefits. Not sure where to start to be creative? Write what you know: “I started with the topic I knew best: my own life. I wrote about my hometown of Nutbush in what became the 1973 hit ‘Nutbush City Limits,’” she said.</p> <h4>6. Tina Turner had a sensible diet</h4> <p>From Thai food to vegetarian to local delicacies, Turner was photographed enjoying a wide variety of delicious foods. So how did she keep her healthy muscular physique? Not by starving! “I knew a very long time ago that I always wanted to be as slender and attractive as I possibly could be,” she said in an interview with the Daily Mail. “But I hate all that calorie counting. I eat what I want and then if my weight starts to go up, I cut back.”</p> <h4>7. Tina Turner made time for friends and family</h4> <p>Fame can be isolating, as Turner found out when her ex-husband Ike used it as a way to abuse her. But as she got older Turner made it a point to spend time with her loved ones, including her four children. She also made friends wherever she went, recognising the joy and benefits of having a large social circle. “I do my best to see people as individuals and emphasise common ground,” she said.</p> <h4>8. Following a self-care routine</h4> <p>“I am blessed to have very good skin,” Turner told Vogue. But it wasn’t all genetics. No matter how tired she was after a show, she made it a point to practice self-care by washing off her makeup and using a deep moisture cream before bed. Clearly it worked: Tina Turner had glowy, supple skin well into her eighties!</p> <h4>9. Tina Turner exited a toxic relationship</h4> <p>Not all relationships are worth saving, especially those that are toxic or abusive. Staying with people who hurt you takes a terrible toll on your mental and physical health. Tina Turner’s escape from her abusive marriage was very public but, like many victims of domestic violence, it took the singer a long time to figure out how to leave. “For a long time I felt like I was stuck, with no way out of the unhealthy situation I was in,” she said. “Once I could see myself clearly, I began to change, opening the way to confidence and courage. It took a few years, but finally I was able to stand up for my life and start anew.” Not only did she save her own life, but she provided a powerful inspiration to other women in similar situations.</p> <h4>10. Tina Turner spent time outdoors</h4> <p>After retiring from the public eye, Turner and her husband Erwin moved their family to Switzerland – largely for the beautiful and relaxing scenery. “I love spending days in Switzerland with my husband driving into the mountains,” she said. “It’s relaxing and very spiritual to be surrounded by the lake and beautiful nature.”</p> <p>Are you a nature lover too? Being outdoors has powerful health benefits and is linked with a longer life in the research. It’s not just the exercise that boosts your health. Science has shown that simply being outdoors, in nature, lowers stress hormones, slows your heart rate, reduces blood pressure, and increases feelings of safety and well-being, according to a study on ‘forest bathing.’</p> <h4>11. Tina Turner embraced ageing</h4> <p>Ageing in showbiz is seen as one of the worst things a woman can do (as if she has any other option!), and many stars fight it as long as they can with surgery, drugs and photoshop. Not Tina Turner, though! “Of course, I’ve aged a bit in the face, but not enough to worry about it. I have common sense enough to know that if I’m [ageing], something has to happen,” she said to the Daily Mail. “As time passes, a woman goes through changes with her body, her hormones and all of that, but I don’t have a problem with that. So I am fortunate.” This happy attitude toward ageing is revolutionary and sets a great example, especially because how we talk about ageing has a powerful effect on our health and happiness as we get older.</p> <h4>12. Tina Turner chose happiness every day</h4> <p>Experts agree: happiness is a choice, not a circumstance. No one knew this better than Tina Turner. After suffering a stroke and cancer, she shared, “My challenges can either make me a better version of myself or break me apart, and I have a choice as to which it will be. It’s so important to remember that you do have a choice, even when it feels as if you don’t. I choose to be hopeful and to honour each experience in my life, negative and positive, as a chance to increase my wisdom, courage, and compassion.”</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p> <p><em>Written by: </em><em>Charlotte Hilton Andersen</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/articles/backtips-advice/tina-turners-12-daily-habits-that-helped-her-live-83-inspired-years" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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10 polite habits nail techs actually dislike – and what to do instead

<p><strong>Nail salon etiquette mistakes</strong></p> <p>Repeat after us: Pampering yourself is important. An easy way to do just that? Getting a manicure. Not only is it relatively affordable, but prettily painted nails can also put an extra pep in your step. Of course, the nail tech who does your manicure plays a large role in making you feel so good: From that wonderful hand massage to getting your cuticles in tip-top shape, their skills can make a huge difference. So, it only makes sense that you’d want to treat them really well.</p> <p>But here’s the thing: Certain seemingly polite etiquette rules can actually make a nail tech’s job harder. Plus, while it’s important to be nice, you don’t have to try extra hard to make their life easier. “A manicure is your time off, so you should relax,” says Karina Medrano, a nail technician.</p> <p>So what does that mean? It means there are certain polite habits that are totally a must. And then there are other moves you can (and should) skip so you can focus on your own relaxation. Since it can be hard to identify exactly what most people dislike, we turned to the pros to fill us in on polite moves that are actually etiquette mistakes at the nail salon.</p> <p><strong>Anticipating their next move</strong></p> <p>Over the course of your manicure, your nail tech will likely move your hands around a bit – turning them over to apply lotion and rotating each finger to paint your tips with the best nail polish. If you’ve had a number of manicures, you may even be able to anticipate what they’ll need you to do next and be tempted to save them from having to tell you how to move. Don’t do it. “Many times, clients position themselves in a way that seems to be helpful, but it’s the contrary,” says Medrano. You may make the wrong move and actually mess up their paint job, causing them to have to start over.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead:</em></span> “It’s best to let your nail tech move you around,” says Medrano. “There is no need to tense up – just relax.” Put simply, wait for them to direct you. One way to make that easier is to pay attention to what’s going on. If you have headphones on and are listening to music or a podcast, keep it at a low enough volume that you can hear your technician if they need you to do something.</p> <p><strong>Keeping the conversation going</strong></p> <p>When you’re getting your nails done, you’re literally face to face with your manicurist. Because of this, you may feel like it’s your job to chat with them and keep them entertained. But there’s no need to rack your brain for conversation starters. This is a job, and there is zero expectation that you should keep your nail tech entertained, says Medrano. If you want to chat, no problem. If you don’t? Well, that’s OK too.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead:</em></span> If you’d prefer quiet, Medrano says that it’s become totally normal to ask for a “silent appointment”. You can either let the salon know when you book your appointment or you can mention to your tech when you sit down that you are going to use the appointment to relax and have some quiet time.</p> <p><strong>Giving a colour a chance when you don't like it </strong></p> <p>You arrive at the salon and are faced with a wall of nail polish colours. Whether you want the trendiest colour of the season or just what you’re in the mood for, you’ll probably spend some time debating the perfect shade. Fast-forward to the moment your manicurist is slicking it on, and – you’re not so sure about it. But you feel bad and want to give it a chance. Maybe you’ll like it once the second coat is on, right? And you’d hate to make the tech take it off and start over.</p> <p>“For many, the hardest time to speak up during their appointment is when they don’t like the colour,” says Medrano. “But it’s better to tell us the second you start doubting your choice. Applying the colour is the most time-consuming part, and catching the colour change before doing all 10 fingers helps us stay on track with our appointments.” Plus, your nail tech wants you to walk away happy!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead:</em></span> If you’re not feeling the colour, speak up as soon as possible. You can simply tell them you’re not sure you like it. Then, tell them what you don’t like – maybe the red you chose is too orange or the pink is too sheer. They may be able to suggest another shade that is what you are looking for. After all, they see lots of different colours every day.</p> <p><strong>Removing your own gel</strong></p> <p>If you get gel manicures, you know that removing that type of polish can take a long time. You have to sit with remover on your nails for a while before the gel can be scraped away. But trying to do it at home to save time and work for your nail tech is not advisable. Gel polish needs to be removed in a certain way to minimise damage, warns nail artist Braelinn Frank. If you try to remove it yourself and wreck your nails, your tech will be left trying to get them back into shape to prevent your nails from peeling.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead:</em></span> When you make your appointment, let them know you have gel polish that will need to be removed. This allows the salon to build in more time for your appointment so the gel can be removed properly by a professional and you don’t make a bigger mess for your manicurist.</p> <p><strong>Deferring to the pro</strong></p> <p>Do you want rounded nails or more of an almond shape? Do you want your cuticles cut, or do you just want your manicurist to use really good cuticle oil before pushing them back? These are all decisions you’ll need to make during your appointment. Don’t just defer to the tech. Yes, they’re pros, but these are your nails. “It’s helpful when someone knows what they want their nails to look like,” says Medrano.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead:</em></span> If you really aren’t sure what you want, avoid telling the nail tech to do whatever they’d like. A better way to approach it is to ask them for their input on the different options and then make the decision that’s best for you based on what they tell you.</p> <p><strong>Cleaning up</strong></p> <p>There’s always a little bit of a mess when you get your nails done – think nail clippings, dust from filing, used cotton balls from removing polish. Worried that your nail tech is grossed out by all this and annoyed at having to pick up after you? They’re not. Not only that, but if you try to clean up, you might just get in the way. “It’s part of our job to keep up with the mess,” says Medrano. “And we know our way around our station best.” Remember, you can always give yourself a manicure at home, but if you go to the salon, one of the perks is not having to clean up!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead:</em></span> If you want to help, the best thing you can do is stay out of your nail tech’s way. As they try to wipe down their station, move your hands so they can do that. In other words, pay attention and adjust your positioning when needed – that will be the best way to help.</p> <p><strong>Moving your own stuff to the drying station</strong></p> <p>Your manicure is done, and it’s time to move over to the drying station. You feel bad about making a tech pick up your handbag, so you grab it yourself. While your intention is to be kind, you may smudge your nails and mess up all the hard work they just did. “We are here to help,” says Medrano, who confirms it’s better for them to help than to have you mess up your nails. Plus, even a little chip or smudge is a cardinal sin when it comes to making your manicure last longer.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead:</em></span> Allow them to move your bag (and any other items you have with you) to the drying station. Be gracious, and say thank you. Also let them pull out the chair or stool for you. Really don’t want someone to pick up your bag? Consider wearing a small crossbody bag so you can keep it on during your appointment.</p> <p><strong>Holding it in</strong></p> <p>Maybe you have to sneeze, or perhaps you are mid-manicure and suddenly have to pee. Holding it in does nobody any favours. While you may not want to interrupt the appointment, your nail tech would rather you be comfortable and enjoy the service. Plus, if you hold in your sneeze, it could backfire and lead to a bigger sneeze where you spray germs everywhere. “Do not be scared to ask if you need to do something,” says Medrano. “Nothing surprises us.”</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead:</em></span> Need to use the bathroom? Let your tech know, and ask when the best time would be for you to do so. Have to sneeze? Say, “I’m going to sneeze.” Then, rather than using your hands to cover your mouth (which your tech then needs to go back to touching), sneeze into the crook of your arm.</p> <p><strong>Trying to shimmy your credit card out of your wallet</strong></p> <p>If the end of your appointment has come and you still haven’t paid, sliding your credit card out of your wallet with wet nails may feel like a Herculean task. But you can’t possibly ask your nail tech to do that, right? That would be rude. Wrong again. It’s actually ruder to smudge the beautiful paint job your nail tech just put a ton of time and energy into.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead:</em></span> “The amount of times that I have helped take out credit cards? It’s quite often,” says Medrano. “Just ask! Truly, it’s no problem.” Make it easier on your tech by telling them exactly where it is and what colour the card is; that way, they don’t have to fish around for it. Also, there’s no need to apologise – just say thank you!</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/tips/10-polite-habits-nail-techs-actually-dislike-and-what-to-do-instead" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Beauty & Style

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Five ways to manage your doomscrolling habit

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/christian-van-nieuwerburgh-1157439">Christian van Nieuwerburgh</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rcsi-university-of-medicine-and-health-sciences-788">RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences</a></em></p> <p>Doomscrolling, according to <a href="https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/doomsurfing-doomscrolling-words-were-watching">Merriam-Webster</a>, is “the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing”. For many it’s a habit born of the pandemic – and one that is likely to stay.</p> <p>Some health experts recommend limiting access to social media to <a href="https://www.health.com/mind-body/what-is-doomscrolling">reduce the negative effects of doomscrolling</a>, and popular magazines <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-stop-doomscrolling-psychology-social-media-fomo/">highlight the risks</a> of social media addiction. According to the BBC, the barrage of negative coverage of doomscrolling has led to some people <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-60067032">ditching their smartphones</a> altogether.</p> <p>Although research showing the negative effects of doomscrolling is convincing and the <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1461670X.2021.2021105">recommendations are clear</a>, few of us seem to be following this well-intentioned advice. There are a few reasons for this.</p> <p>First, blocking out news during times of crisis may not be such a good idea. Second, many of us <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4675534/">don’t respond well</a> to being told what we can and cannot do.</p> <p>Finally, being asked not to do something can make matters worse. It can push us into a negative frame of mind and make us <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/words-can-change-your-brain/201208/why-word-is-so-dangerous-say-or-hear">less likely to change our behaviour</a>.</p> <p>Rather than quitting doomscrolling, what if we simply got better at managing it?</p> <p>It is helpful to start by acknowledging that seeking news and information during times of crisis is perfectly normal. In fact, this response is hard-wired in us humans.</p> <p>Staying alert to danger is part of our survival mechanism. Gathering information and being prepared to face threats have been key to our survival for millennia.</p> <p>Right now, there are many threats facing us: a war in Europe that could escalate to nuclear conflict, a pandemic that has already killed millions of people and predictions of a climate catastrophe, alongside many other natural disasters and human conflicts across the world.</p> <p>In this context, it is not surprising that we want to be alert to danger. Wanting to learn more about what is happening and equipping ourselves with the latest information is perfectly reasonable.</p> <p>Rather than avoiding the news altogether, let’s make sure that we are getting what we need from our interactions with the news. Here are five suggestions to achieve this.</p> <h2>1. Choose how much time you’re going to invest in consuming the news</h2> <p>Why not include all the ways you access the news? What amount of time each day seems reasonable to you? Once you have a time window, try sticking to it.</p> <h2>2. Be aware of confirmation bias when choosing what to consume</h2> <p>Remember, you are the consumer and you can choose what to learn about. However, we need to be aware of a tendency that psychologists call “<a href="https://www.simplypsychology.org/confirmation-bias.html">confirmation bias</a>”. This is when we favour information that supports our existing beliefs or viewpoints.</p> <p>In other words, we sometimes seek news that confirms what we already believe. This may have been one reason you clicked on this article. So just be aware of this tendency and be aware of what you’re not choosing to read.</p> <h2>3. Check the source</h2> <p>Any time you consume anything, it is helpful to know its source. Who has posted this information? Why are they sharing it with you? Are they trying to convince you of something? Are they trying to manipulate you to think or behave in a particular way?</p> <p>Knowing the answers to these questions will support you to stay in control of how you use the information that you have gathered.</p> <h2>4. Remember that things are not always black or white</h2> <p>We live in an increasingly polarised world. According to psychologists, “polarised thinking” is a <a href="https://exploringyourmind.com/polarized-thinking-cognitive-distortion/">cognitive distortion</a> (thinking error) that can occur when we’re under pressure. It is the tendency to see things as black or white, rather than recognising that we live in a world with many colours and shades of grey.</p> <p>Find ways to hold strong views while remaining curious about other opinions. Selecting and consuming articles that represent differing opinions may support this.</p> <h2>5. Be biased towards the positive</h2> <p>One reason that doomscrolling can be so detrimental is that many of us are drawn to negative information. Psychologists call this the “<a href="https://positivepsychology.com/3-steps-negativity-bias/">negativity bias</a>”. From an evolutionary perspective, it has been important for us to prioritise negative stimuli (threats such as predators) over positive stimuli (enjoying the warmth of a summer’s day).</p> <p>To counterbalance this tendency, we can adopt a bias towards the positive as we consume news. In practical terms, this means seeking positive news stories to balance out our experience of staying updated.</p> <p>Managed properly, keeping on top of the latest news can support you to feel better informed and able to respond in case it becomes necessary. If we’re going to doomscroll, let’s do it right.<!-- 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/183265/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/christian-van-nieuwerburgh-1157439">Christian van Nieuwerburgh</a>, Professor of Coaching and Positive Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rcsi-university-of-medicine-and-health-sciences-788">RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences</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/five-ways-to-manage-your-doomscrolling-habit-183265">original article</a>.</em></p>

Technology

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11 polite habits house cleaners secretly hate – and what to do instead

<p><strong>The dos and don'ts of cleaning etiquette</strong></p> <p>Housekeepers are like lawyers. They see you at your worst – yes, mostly your home, but you too – and keep their lips sealed. With a cleaning confidante like that, it’s only natural to want to do little things to show your appreciation, like asking about their lives or even helping them clean. But despite your good intentions, these kind gestures can sometimes miss the mark.</p> <p>The house cleaners we spoke with revealed tales of extra (dirty) work they were “trusted with” but didn’t want to do, “helpful” cleaning tips that weren’t actually helpful and little etiquette mistakes that simply sucked time from what you hired them to do: clean your house. To be fair, there aren’t any hard-and-fast etiquette rules on this topic. That’s why we asked cleaning experts to give us the inside scoop on some of the thoughtful things people do that drive them crazy – and what to do instead.</p> <p><strong>Cleaning before they arrive</strong></p> <p>You may truly believe you’re helping by cleaning before your housekeeper arrives, and maybe you are. It depends on what you mean by cleaning. If you’re quickly passing a mop over a grimy kitchen floor or wiping your granite benchtops with a wet sponge and not drying them, cleaning pros say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” With the grime now further embedded into the floor or streaks on the countertops, it could actually take them more time to fix your mistake. And at the very least, they’ll have to duplicate your work anyway.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: focus on the clutter. “Taking things off the counters and clearing the floors can help us work much faster, and that means a better cleaning for the same amount of money,” says housecleaner, Gretchen Boyd. “Clear the clutter for a better clean, but leave the scrubbing to us!”</p> <p><strong>Talking to them while they're cleaning</strong></p> <p>After a while, your housekeeper becomes more like a friend. You ask them about their lives and their families, and they certainly know all about yours. It would be rude not to talk to them while they’re there. Plus, they’re doing all the tasks you don’t want to do, so the least you could do is make things less boring with a little chitchat, right? Nope! In fact, that ‘entertaining’ chitchat can really mess with their cleaning schedule.</p> <p>“Once, a client wanted to discuss a personal issue with me while I was cleaning their home. I was happy to listen, but it extended my cleaning time by about 15 to 20 minutes,” says cleaner Laura Avila.  “I enjoy getting to know my clients, but it’s important to keep in mind that my priority is to provide them with a clean space, and conversations can sometimes hinder that goal.”</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: spend a few minutes chatting when your housekeeper arrives, then let them get to work. “What I really appreciate is when clients give me some space to work in silence or maybe put on some music that we can both enjoy without having to chat the whole time,” says Avila. “That way, I can focus on doing a great job and getting everything cleaned up efficiently.”</p> <p><strong>Following them around while they work</strong></p> <p>You’re not hovering; you’re keeping them company. Nope, sorry – you’re hovering. Even if you think you’re being polite by showing an interest in their work or keeping them company, this polite gesture rarely comes across as you’re hoping. Instead, house cleaners say that having someone watching them while they scrub and scour the shower gives the impression that the client doubts if their cleaner even knows how to clean the bathroom at all. And having someone watching your every move can be distracting and unnerving.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: “I prefer when clients let me work on my own,” says Avila. If you have specific requests or concerns, talk them over when your housekeeper first arrives. Checking on progress or asking questions is fine, but minimise those types of interactions. That way, they can focus on doing the amazing job that you want them to do.</p> <p><strong>Offering agency workers extra pay for extra work </strong></p> <p>Who wouldn’t like to make some extra cash easily? Customers who go through an agency may think they are helping their house cleaner by offering extra payment for work that isn’t in the contract. What they don’t realise is that this may actually be against company policy, and their house cleaner could get in trouble. Beyond that, because professional cleaners allocate a set amount of time for each job, doing that additional chore could cause them to run late to their other clients’ homes, says Rachel Rios, a cleaning professional. All this also puts the cleaner in the awkward position of having to say no and disappoint the client.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: talk to the agency ahead of time if you have a special request. Agree upon any additional charges it may incur, as well as when the cleaning will take place.</p> <p><strong>Giving vague instructions</strong></p> <p>Sometimes, clients feel like giving too many instructions will insult the cleaning pro – after all, this is their job. Or they figure the cleaner knows to include tasks like cleaning ceiling fans and windows in their weekly routine, so they casually say something like: “Clean the living room.” The problem? Without specific instructions on which areas of the house to clean, which surfaces to focus on or what kind of cleaning products to use, a house cleaner is not sure what exactly needs to be done.</p> <p>There may also be confusion about whether “cleaning” entails a thorough wipe-down or a deep-clean. “Each client has different preferences and expectations,” says Hugo Guerrero, a certified house cleaning technician, “so it’s important to communicate clearly.”</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: provide a list with specific details about how each task should be completed. “Be specific,” says Guerrero. “That way, there are fewer misunderstandings and more satisfactory cleaning jobs.”</p> <p><strong>Moving items before they arrive</strong></p> <p>You might think you’re helping your house cleaner by moving sculptures, photographs, vases and other home accessories off table tops and shelves. But this ends up creating more work for them, as well as confusion. After all, now they don’t know where these items belong – and where they should put them once they’re clean. They might also knock them over if you put them in a strange spot or accidentally break them while moving them back in place.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: leave everything in its original position, and let the cleaners move the items themselves. “Doing so makes it easier for the cleaner, who is used to cleaning a certain way,” says Ahmad Jamal, a cleaning expert with Cleaners Advisor. “When clients move items around, I may need to move things back to their original place in order to clean properly.” Plus, those decorative items need to be dusted and cleaned as well, and there’s a specific way to do that. If you need anything in particular moved, let your cleaner know in advance.</p> <p><strong>Pre-soaking the shower or tub with bleach</strong></p> <p>Clients who don’t really know how to clean a bathtub the right way may think it’s helpful to pre-soak the shower or bathtub with bleach, but this can actually be incredibly dangerous for your house cleaner. If the area is not rinsed thoroughly, it could result in a chemical reaction with the cleaning supplies the cleaning pro is using in your bathroom. For example, when bleach mixes with ammonia, it produces an odourless, toxic gas that can cause respiratory distress and even death.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: “If you do decide to do any pre-cleaning before your house cleaner arrives, communicate which chemicals you used and where,” says Toby Schulz, CEO of Maid2Match in Australia. “And please remember to make sure the room is well ventilated.”</p> <p><strong>Leaving a key with a neighbour </strong></p> <p>Sometimes scheduling conflicts arise, and you need to arrange for your house cleaner to get a key to your home. Of course, you don’t want to cancel at the last minute and totally upend your cleaning pro’s schedule, and this is a good solution. Well, it is when it goes off without a hitch … which rarely happens. What if the neighbour isn’t home or doesn’t hear the doorbell?</p> <p>“This never seems to quite work as planned,” says cleaner, Olive Cantor. “Plus, the entire cleaning job runs late, and that can impact not only our client’s cleaning but also our entire day.”</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: work out a mutually agreeable option, like bringing your key to your house cleaner earlier in the day or hiding it away in an uncommon place like under a driveway paver. If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, you might want to invest in a smart lock that lets you provide an employee with “digital keys” that work just for that day.</p> <p><strong>Providing your own cleaning products and tools</strong></p> <p>It’s a nice gesture to want to provide everything your house cleaner needs so it’s all right there waiting for them and they don’t have to lug it to your house every week. But insisting on the wrong tools and products can actually make the job harder, especially when you leave out all those items to “help.”</p> <p>“This [makes] it hard to find my way around and determine the right way to clean each surface,” says Jenna Shaughnessy, a former professional house cleaner who’s currently a home decor and DIY expert. “While you may have excellent intentions, it might make cleaning harder and take more time.”</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: communicate your preferences in advance (like, maybe you only want natural cleaning products or your kid is allergic to a certain scent), and then discuss your house cleaner’s preferences as well. They’re the pros, after all, and they know what’s good! Perhaps they find a certain vacuum to be more effective or love a product that cuts their work time in half.</p> <p>You can also discuss whether they would like you to stock up on these items for them or if they would prefer to bring their own supplies. “That way,” says Avila, “I can be sure that I’m using things I’m familiar with and that I know will work well for the job.”</p> <p><strong>Offering 'helpful advice' while they're working</strong></p> <p>It’s your home, and it has some quirks. To be fair, so do you. And you know your house cleaner wants to do the job to your specifications, so if you happen to be in the same room and notice they could be doing something differently, you might want to offer your two cents, whether it’s about the best way to clean that tricky oven rack or how to scrub the stainless steel sink. But truly, resist the urge.</p> <p>Lauren Doss, owner of a cleaning business, notes that all the stopping, starting and direction-giving makes it difficult to work efficiently. With one client who wanted things done a very specific way and kept interjecting as she worked, Doss says it “added a lot of time to the job, as I had to double-check each step with them.” Not to mention that this behaviour shows a lack of trust, even if you aren’t quite as intrusive as that client was.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: Provide clear instructions to your cleaner before they start working, then let them do their job. “It’s important for clients to trust their housekeeping professionals and allow them to work without interference,” says Doss. “If there’s a problem, offer constructive criticism rather than nitpicking.”</p> <p><strong>Not wanting to burden your house cleaner with other home problems </strong></p> <p>House cleaners don’t need to know tiny details about every maintenance issue in your house. Too much information! However, let’s be clear: they sure appreciate your telling them about problems that affect their job. A burned-out bulb in the fridge is not important … but a clogged toilet definitely is.</p> <p>And that’s not the only potential issue here. “I had one client who failed to tell me that the door on their second oven was loose,” recounts Cantor. “I went to open the oven to clean it, and off came the door! Not only was that scary – and potentially dangerous – but I was then worried that I was the one who broke it.”</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Do this instead</em></span>: let your house cleaner know if something they are going to be cleaning or using is broken. If you won’t be home when your house cleaner arrives, leave sticky notes on problem places. In the case of the broken oven door, Cantor says, “a little heads-up would have saved a lot of stress for everyone!”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/11-polite-habits-house-cleaners-secretly-hate-and-what-to-do-instead?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Home & Garden

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5 daily habits to improve heart, brain and eye health

<p><em><strong>Blackmores Naturopath Rebekah Russell shares her top five tips for boosting heart, brain and eye health.</strong></em></p> <p><strong>1. Stand up for your health</strong><br />Sitting is the new smoking. Sitting for hours on end, like most office workers do, increases the risk of heart attack and stroke – even if you are a regular exerciser. Unfortunately, a morning run or afternoon swim can’t negate the damage of sitting for eight hours or more a day. Try setting a diary reminder on your computer to stand up and walk around or try to stand during phone calls.</p> <p><strong>2. De-stress</strong><br />Despite modern technologies that are designed to make life easier, we’re all more stressed than ever. Long-term stress can spike levels of cortisol – a stress hormone which can affect the short-term memory regions of the brain. Meditation, spending time with friends and family, switching off from the Internet and social media, are all ways you can minimise stress and maintain long-term brain health.</p> <p><strong>3. Be a floss boss</strong><br />Not only can regular flossing prevent bad breath, it may prevent heart attack. While there is currently no definitive proof periodontal disease actually causes heart disease, there is proof that bacteria in the mouth can be released into the bloodstream and cause a hardening of the arteries. This can then lead to heart attack and stroke – reason enough to include flossing in your daily routine!</p> <p><strong>4. Good food</strong><br />Good eye, brain and heart health all starts with the food on your fork. Try to include two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables in your diet each day.</p> <p>Lutein (often referred to as the “eye vitamin”) and zeaxanthin, nutrients commonly found in vegetables, are disease-fighting antioxidants that are important for eyes, brain, and heart. Both nutrients are commonly found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, turnips and lettuce as well as broccoli, zucchini and brussels sprouts and eggs.</p> <p>Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and<strong> </strong>fish oil<strong>, </strong>may also help fight off macular degeneration and cataracts, while also maintaining good heart and brain health.</p> <p><strong>5. Get social</strong><br />If you need another excuse to catch up with friends, or hang out with family, it’s this one! Socialising stimulates the brain and can also help to encourage healthy behaviours such as exercising. Daily social interaction has also been suggested to protect the brain against diseases including dementia and Alzheimer’s.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Body

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Why do cats knead? An explanation of this weird habit

<p>First off, not all cats knead, and they don’t all knead in the same way. Most cats use only their front paws, but some use all four, or even just their back legs. Some kitties bring their claws out, while others don’t. A cat kneading at your lap might hurt, but your kitty probably doesn’t have any bad intentions; it just likes how you sound when you squeak. (You know, like a mouse.)</p> <p>In all seriousness, if your cat kneads, you’ve probably noticed how relaxed it seems when doing so – almost as if it’s in a trance. A kneading cat is a happy cat. But why do cats knead when the action doesn’t accomplish anything? After all, “making biscuits” doesn’t actually lead to fresh baked goods.</p> <p><strong>Does it last their lifetime?</strong></p> <p>Even when they’re too young for their eyes to open, cute kittens need to knead, says Katy Nelson, DVM, a veterinarian with Chewy. Nursing kitties push on their mother’s abdomen when suckling to help their mother’s glands release more milk. No one is totally sure why the habit lasts through adulthood, but there are a few theories as to why cats knead.</p> <p>For one thing, your cat might find it soothing. Felines grow up associating kneading with the comfort of their mama, and though they most likely don’t think about food when they’re kneading as adults, they still find it relaxing, as evidenced by the purrs you’ll probably hear as they’re doing it.</p> <p>“Like a kid sucking a thumb, it’s a calming thing,” says Dr Nelson. “A lot of cats have their eyes closed and look like they’re completely zenned out.” Maybe this is why cats sleep so much.</p> <p>If you’re wondering what it means when a cat makes biscuits on you, know this: It’s a good sign. Kneading indicates a cat feels safe and happy around you – or maybe even considers you a mother figure!</p> <p><strong>It's a territorial thing</strong></p> <p>Another theory is that cats knead to mark their territory. Here’s a cool cat fact: Cats have scent glands on both their faces and their paws. When felines rub their faces against the furniture or go to town on a scratching post, they’re not just letting off steam or exploring the couch. They’re also leaving behind their scent.</p> <p>The same happens when your cat kneads. Paws are the only places where cats sweat, which means rubbing them against something leaves behind their smell, says Dr Nelson.</p> <p>Other experts think kneading could be traced back to our sweet, domesticated house cats’ ancestors. Those wild cats didn’t have the soft blanket or fancy cat bed that your family pet got for its birthday, so they had to work a little to make the ground as comfy as possible, says Dr Nelson. Pushing at the grass, leaves, or dirt might have helped soften it up to “get their bed just right,” she says.</p> <p><strong>It's a sign of happiness, too</strong></p> <p>If you’re a cat owner who also owns furniture, you may spend less time wondering “Why do cats knead?” and more time asking “how can I get my cat to stop kneading?” Innocent as the habit is, it’s easy to get annoyed when your kneading cat digs its claws into your lap or furniture.</p> <p>Kneading makes cats happy, says Dr Nelson, so you should never stop your pet from doing its thing; just keep its claws short. “Keep the nails trimmed so it’s not painful and not messing up your blanket or your couch,” she says. Another option would be to get yourself a cat-proof couch that can withstand all the scratching.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/why-do-cats-knead-an-explanation-of-this-weird-habit" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Family & Pets

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7 nighttime habits that ruin your hair

<p><strong>Bad hair habits</strong></p> <p>Keeping your hair healthy goes beyond shampoo and conditioner. Celebrity stylists explain why and how you should kick these bad evening hair habits.</p> <p><strong>You sleep with wet hair</strong></p> <p>Hair is weakest when it’s wet, which is why sleeping with wet hair right after you shower could cause damage and split ends, says celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson.</p> <p>“Rubbing on the sheets at night if hair is wet can make the cuticle ends rough up, which makes hair frizzy and dry,” he says. If you shower at night, make sure your hair is dry, or you braid it before going to sleep, he says.</p> <p><strong>You leave your hair up</strong></p> <p>On some occasions, a topknot can preserve your style from the day before, says Gibson, but tying your hair in a tight bun or ponytail can damage your strands. “If you wear your hair up in the same place all day or every night while sleeping, that hair tie will stay in the same place and cause breakage,” says celebrity hairstylist Kylee Heath.</p> <p>If you can’t stand to leave your hair down, try sleeping in braids, which are easier on the hair and will create pretty waves, she says.</p> <p><strong>You use a hair tie</strong></p> <p>If you do decide to keep your hair up, don’t use a tight elastic. “Elastic, especially if the hair is wet, will make a crease, and within that crease can damage the whole area,” says Gibson.</p> <p>He recommends a hairpin, while Heath says a scrunchie is a good alternative because the fabric surrounding it is softer on the hair.</p> <p><strong>You skip brushing</strong></p> <p>Turns out your mother was right: brushing your hair before bed can promote a healthier mane. Your scalp produces natural oils, and brushing dry hair distributes them through your strands. “Running that natural oil through your hair before bed helps stimulate the scalp and hair follicle to promote hair growth,” says Gibson.</p> <p>As a bonus, brushing is relaxing, so it could help you drift off to sleep (and more sleep means healthier hair), he says.</p> <p><strong>You have cotton sheets</strong></p> <p>Silk is gentler than cotton, meaning it won’t be as rough on your hair when you lay your head on your pillowcase. “There’s no friction when it’s rubbing against the hair,” says Heath. “It helps with frizz and getting your hair stuck as your hair rubs back and forth.” Treat yourself to a silk pillowcase for a luxurious slumber and great hair.</p> <p><strong>You ignore a chance for extra moisture</strong></p> <p>If you shampoo in the morning, nighttime is your opportunity to condition your hair with products you’ll wash out when you wake up. Heath likes to run a deep conditioner through her ends, while Gibson recommends using coconut oil.</p> <p>“It helps to fill in the cuticle and helps moisturise for those eight hours while you’re sleeping,” he says. In the morning, wash out the conditioner or oil for super silky strands.</p> <p><strong>You sleep with hairspray </strong></p> <p>“If you have a lot of hairspray in your hair, it can be really drying,” says Heath. She doesn’t recommend showering before bed to wash it out, because wet hair is damaging too.</p> <p>Instead, take out any bobby pins holding up your style, then break the hairspray down with a bit of leave-in conditioner, and brush it out.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/beauty/hair-and-nails/7-nighttime-habits-that-ruin-your-hair" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Beauty & Style

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11 polite habits cruise workers actually dislike – and what to do instead

<p><strong>Onboard etiquette</strong></p> <p>At hotels and all-inclusive resorts, workers come and go over the course of your stay. That’s not the case on cruises, where cruise ship employees will be sailing with you throughout the entire voyage. Because of that, you get to know your stateroom attendant, preferred bartender and favourite performer in a different way, and you might want to go out of your way to be friendly and polite to them. But while your motivations may be good, the etiquette rules at sea aren’t necessarily the same as the ones on land.</p> <p>Some habits you think are polite don’t go over quite the way you’d expect. They may even affect cruise worker’s pay rate and the opportunity for them to be offered a future contract, according to Alissa M., a performer who’s worked on some of the world’s top cruise lines, including Holland America, Princess and Norwegian. And other seemingly kind gestures may actually be awkward or get in the way of an employee doing his or her job.</p> <p>So, what do you need to know before you embark on a cruise? We got the inside scoop from cruise ship directors, chefs, servers, entertainers, stateroom attendants and other employees to find out the missteps they wish you’d avoid – and what you should do instead. These cruise tips will make sure it’s smooth sailing for everyone, every time.</p> <p><strong>Raving about your special-request dinner</strong></p> <p>It’s wonderful when you have such a delicious meal that you want to compliment the chef and tell everyone at your dinner table about it. However, when the item in question is a special request – especially one that required advance notice for preparation – the chef won’t be able to replicate it right away, which may upset other guests who want it.</p> <p>“The problem is not when they share it but when everyone loves the dish and then wants it now. A special request cannot be mass-produced,” explains one chef on a small luxury cruise line who prefers to remain anonymous. “The other concern is that many people in the kitchen are now making dozens of special requests, and they’re being pulled away from preparing dishes from the regular menu.”</p> <p><em>Do this instead</em>: tell your dinner mates that your special-request dish was excellent after they’re finished with their meals. That way, you’ve complimented the chef, but you’ve also given him and other chefs in the galley ample time to recreate the dish for more passengers.</p> <p><strong>Sharing positive feedback about entertainers to the cruise director or guest services</strong></p> <p>Guests may think they’re doing entertainers a favour when they compliment their performances to other employees on the ship, but that message isn’t going to the right people. “A lot of people assume that the cruise director is the ‘boss’ of the entertainers, but rarely are they the ones making hiring decisions,” explains Alissa. “Because my agent and corporate personnel are shoreside, they don’t see what happens onboard.”</p> <p><em>Do this instead</em>: complete the surveys at the end of your cruise, and turn them in or submit them online. “The official feedback surveys are the only way positive messages get back to the decision makers who actually decide my bookings, pay rate and more,” Alissa explains. “If a worker really stands out to you on your cruise in any department, please mention them by name in the guest post-cruise survey. Telling the cruise director or guest services will do very little to benefit that employee who went above and beyond.”</p> <p><strong>Helping to bring in the boat after an excursion or expedition</strong></p> <p>It takes a lot of effort to get that Zodiac or tender boat back to where it needs to be after an excursion, and if you can help, why wouldn’t you? Well, because it’s not actually as helpful as you think it is. “Some guests grab the poles to ‘help’ when they are approaching the platform and returning to the ship, but this causes the boat to jerk, or the boat must pull away again from the ship because they have unsteadied it,” explains one expedition team leader on a small ship about this etiquette mistake. “Guests can also injure themselves by pulling too hard and straining a muscle, or they can hurt their hands and fingers.”</p> <p>Another problem? Sometimes people stand up in the boat, which causes a danger to the group, since the driver can’t see properly.</p> <p><em>Do this instead</em>: stay seated in the boat, and hold on tightly to the ropes until the boat is secured by the expedition team and crew on the ship. The team will tell you when it’s safe to get up and how to leave the boat. Leave the navigation to the experts to keep you and everyone else safe.</p> <p><strong>Offering to buy an entertainer a drink during the show</strong></p> <p>If you’re enjoying the performances of a singer, dancer or piano player on your ship, you might want to buy them a drink to say thank you during the show. However, that’s not the best way to express your gratitude. Plus, it might not even be allowed. “I worked for some cruise lines where our contracts explicitly stated we could not have alcohol onstage or drink close to showtime,” explains Alissa. “In some instances, this is a fireable offense.” Plus, it can be awkward. “We don’t want to be rude,” she adds, “but we also cannot break our contract rules.”</p> <p>Beyond that, beverages are expensive for cruise-ship guests – but workers can buy their drinks at cost. “I feel bad accepting a $17 to $20 drink from a guest that would cost me $1.25 in the crew bar,” Alissa explains.</p> <p><em>Do this instead</em>: show your appreciation for a worker by tipping them or purchasing a piece of merchandise. And remember: while you’re on holiday, they’re working, and there are certain lines you shouldn’t cross.</p> <p><strong>Asking personal questions to be friendly</strong></p> <p>It’s easy to get cosy with cruise ship employees. After all, you’re all at sea together for an extended period of time, and it’s their job to make sure you’re happy and comfortable. Since they’re seeing you with your family or hearing about your adventures, it seems rude not to reciprocate and ask them about themselves. While that’s certainly true to a degree, the problem comes when you forget that this is a professional relationship, not a friendship.</p> <p>“Guests ask very personal questions,” says Steve M.*, who’s been a cruise director for more than 15 years. “I am an open book, and I always say, ‘If you are ready for the answer, I will tell you the truth.’ Then you tell the truth and they either take offense or try to change you.” Think: relationships (like, why they aren’t married or chose not to have kids), religion and politics. Just like at the Christmas dinner table, these conversations can get uncomfortable quickly.</p> <p><em>Do this instead</em>: say hello and definitely be cordial, but limit your conversations to casual small talk. And before posing any personal questions, ask yourself this: How would you feel if the tables were turned—especially if you were being asked these questions at work?</p> <p><em>*Steve M. is a pseudonym.</em></p> <p><strong>Going to your stateroom as soon as you board the ship</strong></p> <p>While you might think it’s polite to get out of the way of other passengers during the boarding process by heading straight to your cabin, you’ll actually be in the way of employees if your stateroom isn’t ready. Sometimes, especially on smaller vessels, guests are permitted to board the ship before the rooms have been completely turned over and refreshed from the prior passengers.</p> <p>“If you arrive at your room too early, it slows down the process,” says Steve. “Plus, the crew then must be polite and become engaged with guests, which is not helpful.” And let’s not forget about your luggage, which takes a while to actually get to your room and won’t be there when you are!</p> <p><em>Do this instead</em>: if you board early, wait until the ship’s personnel announce when the staterooms are ready. (Or board later for less of an issue – and to skip the boarding rush.) While you wait, have lunch at the buffet restaurant, check out the cruise ship’s hidden features or chill out by the pool. Just remember to pack your bathing suit in your carry-on so you have access to it right away!</p> <p><strong>Stacking plates for your sever</strong></p> <p>It seems like stacking the plates would make it easier for your server to pick up dirty dishes, but this can actually cause all sorts of problems. “It really messes up removing the plates, especially if the standard in the restaurant is not to stack plates but take them away one or two at a time,” explains one restaurant employee with a small cruise line. “And it actually makes it more difficult to clear and wash the plates for the dishwashers.”</p> <p>The latter is especially true when the passengers haven’t eaten everything on their plates. This causes an uneven stack, which makes it difficult for the server to carry the stack back to the dishwasher … who also has to deal with a huge mess, since the bottoms of the plates are now covered in goop from the plates above them.</p> <p><em>Do this instead</em>: let the servers do their jobs. They have been trained in the ship’s preferred plate-removal method, and they’ll get those items to the back in the most efficient, least messy way possible.</p> <p><strong>Tipping your server on the restaurant check</strong></p> <p>If you’re dining at a specialty restaurant and you’ve had excellent service, you’ll want to leave a tip. But here’s what you probably don’t realise: “Passengers may think they are generously tipping a crew member by writing in a tip on the receipt, but it sadly doesn’t go to that crew member,” says one server with a large cruise line. “My understanding is that it goes into the ship’s account, and that’s how the ship pays for the ‘gratuities paid for’ incentives you see when you book your trip. It’s kind of distributed between all the crew … and maybe not even that.”</p> <p><em>Do this instead</em>: “It is way better to tip a crew member directly with cash,” she says. “That way, you are sure that member got the tip you think they deserved – and that you really wanted them to have. [But] the crew are not allowed to tell passengers that.”</p> <p><strong>Complimenting an entertainer's looks or appearance </strong></p> <p>Sure, compliments can be lovely, but they can also be super awkward when they’re from someone you barely know. “A big thing that bothers me is when passengers comment on my looks or my body, thinking it’s polite and a compliment,” explains Madeline D., a production singer on some of the larger cruise ships. “One time I had a guest, who was a repeat cruiser, tell me I looked like I lost weight.”</p> <p>There are many things wrong with a statement like that, starting with the fact that it’s an assumption and an inherent judgement, not to mention a backhanded compliment. It also implies that the guest is staring at her body and looking at it in an inappropriate way. Depending on the situation, it could also border on flirting, which crosses a line too.</p> <p><em>Do this instead</em>: save comments about appearances for friends and family – and honestly, maybe not even that. If you want to say something nice to a performer on the ship, tell them you enjoyed their performance that evening.</p> <p><strong>Telling the piano player how much you're enjoying the song</strong></p> <p>Cruise directors are also singers and entertainers, so they’re interacting with passengers in those roles as well while on board. According to Steve, some passengers love a performance so much that they want to tell the performer right away – even in the middle of said performance. “Guests will come to talk to you in the middle of a song to tell you how much they are enjoying your music, but then it’s sometimes difficult to remember where you were, and you can lose the song,” he says. “While it’s nice that people appreciate your talent, there are other ways of showing it.”</p> <p><em>Do this instead</em>: wait until the performance is over so you don’t accidentally trip up the performer. You’ll enjoy the song more this way, anyway – and so will your fellow cruisers!</p> <p><strong>Not letting the crew know when there's a problem</strong></p> <p>You may not want to bother employees or say anything negative while on your cruise, but this is a mistake. The crew is there to make sure you have an incredible experience, and they really want to help you make the most of it. Plus, your unhappiness will eventually seep out. “Guests will say they love everything while on board, and then in their survey, they’ll nitpick about very small things, and by the end of the review, they are unhappy,” says Steve.</p> <p><em>Do this instead</em>: if you’re not happy about something, let guest services know as soon as possible. And if you’re not happy with your meal, let the maître d’ know so they can bring you something more satisfactory. Remember: the ship’s staff and crew can’t fix something that they don’t know is wrong; let them know what’s going on, give them a chance to make it right and turn this into the best cruise you’ve ever taken. As mentioned earlier, the guest surveys are taken seriously – and used to determine staffing and pay rates – so it truly doesn’t help anyone when you’re complaining after the fact.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/11-polite-habits-cruise-workers-actually-dislike-and-what-to-do-instead?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Cruising

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How habit stacking trains your brain to make good habits last

<p><strong>Forming new habits</strong></p> <p>Forming new habits – even those you’re excited about – can be just as tricky as breaking habits. Adding more things to our daily to-do list can feel overwhelming, but with a little time-management ingenuity, making good habits stick can help us learn how to be happy, how to set goals and even how to be productive. Clueless about how to start with that? A behavioural trick called habit stacking can give you a major assist.</p> <p>The concept of habit stacking is akin to constructing a solid house: build a new habit on top of a strong, existing part of your daily routine. That way, it’s piggybacking on an old habit that’s already a no-brainer, so you’re far more likely to adopt the new habit going forward. “Habits are automated behaviours you don’t have to think about,” says clinical psychologist, Dr Pauline Wallin. “For example, there are several steps involved in tying your shoelaces, but you don’t consciously think about these during the process. Once your fingers grab the laces, it’s an automated process.”</p> <p>Why not make all your to-dos as effortless as tying your shoes? There’s really no downside to habit stacking. It turns chores into habits you don’t have to think about all that much. So here’s how you can make that happen.</p> <p><strong>What is habit stacking?</strong></p> <p>The term habit stacking was first used by author S.J. Scott in his book Habit Stacking, and it’s taken off like a rocket. “Habit stacking involves adding small routines to habits that are already established,” says Wallin. “With intentional practise, the established habit becomes a trigger for the new habit you want to adopt.”</p> <p>That new behaviour will eventually become a trigger for the next habit, allowing you to build on the progress you’ve already made.</p> <p><strong>How does habit stacking work?</strong></p> <p>At its core, habit stacking is simply pairing a small, new habit (say meditating for a few minutes) with one that’s already established (boiling water for your morning cup of tea). The more we practise doing it, the more automatic it becomes. It may take a little bit of adjusting to get used to it at first, but be intentional about how you go about stacking habits.</p> <p>“Adding a new behaviour to an established habit is not automatic at first but gradually becomes automatic as it is repeatedly paired with the longer-established habit, such that the earlier habit becomes a cue for the newer habit,” says Wallin.</p> <p>Eventually, you may not feel like you even need habit trackers anymore – you’ll be getting things done without even thinking about them. Here’s more about how habit stacking works to help you quickly adopt new behaviours.</p> <p><strong>It uses existing neural networks to make new habits stick </strong></p> <p>Everything we do and think draws on neural networks, which are how our brains organise information to communicate our thoughts and behaviours. Habits have many deep and redundant neural paths, so we can perform a habit even while our attention is elsewhere.</p> <p>“Your brain builds new neurons to support the behaviours we practise daily,” says clinical psychologist Bonnie Carpenter. “The more you practise a habit, the stronger the connections can become. If you don’t practise a habit, the connections will not be as strong.”</p> <p>So when you tap into the power of the habits you already have, the newer habits already have a framework to follow.</p> <p><strong>It turns an existing habit into a cue for the next one</strong></p> <p>We all have many behaviours that we’ve practised for years, just like tying our shoelaces. “If you attach a new behaviour to the old ones, it’s much more likely that you will make the new behaviour part of your routine,” says Carpenter. “You are teaching yourself and planning the path to behaviours in the future.”</p> <p>Eventually, you’ll take for granted those habits you couldn’t make stick.</p> <p><strong>It'll help you procrastinate less</strong></p> <p>You know you need to adopt a good-for-you habit, but you just don’t know how or where to start. And let’s be honest: you really can’t find the motivation for it. (Join the club.)</p> <p>That’s exactly when habit stacking works well. When you tie the dreaded thing you keep putting off to a strong, automatic habit, it’s suddenly possible to get ‘er done. “After a while, it becomes natural,” says Carpenter. Wasting time putting off what you don’t want to do will quickly be a thing of your past.</p> <p><strong>What is an example of habit stacking?</strong></p> <p>Different people have different habits they want to adopt, but these examples can get the wheels turning in your head about the ways habit stacking can help you streamline your life and become more productive. For each, we’ve included your established habit, then the new habit you can stack on top of it.</p> <p>When you turn off your work computer for the day or when you take a break from work,  tidy up your desk for five minutes.</p> <p>After you grab something to wear out of your overstuffed closet, put another clothing item into a bag to be donated to charity.</p> <p>When you finish dinner, immediately put your plates and silverware in the dishwasher so the kitchen sink is always empty.</p> <p>Once you’re done brushing your teeth, hydrate with a full glass of water.</p> <p>While your morning coffee is brewing, sweep the floor, open the mail or wash the dishes in your sink.</p> <p>When your car pulls out of work at the end of the day, phone your mother (you know she wishes you’d call more often!).</p> <p><strong>What are habit-stacking strategies?</strong></p> <p>How exactly you want to tackle this is entirely up to you, and that’s one of the best parts of the habit-stacking concept: it can and should be customised. Our experts suggest these ideas to get you started.</p> <p><em><strong>1. Find the right habits to pair</strong></em></p> <p>It probably makes the most sense to connect the old habit with the new one that’s in a similar vein, but that isn’t entirely necessary. For example, if you want to fit in more exercise, start a new habit of walking for five minutes every time you put on a pair of sneakers.</p> <p>But according to clinical psychologist, Dr Linda Sapadin, what matters most is that the new habit is specific, not that the habits are cousins. Maybe putting on your sneakers isn’t tied to exercise; instead, it might make more sense for you to take out the garbage whenever you lace up your tennis shoes.</p> <p>If the pairing makes sense to you, that’s all that matters. In other words, you do you.</p> <p>Timing matters too: “It’s also very helpful to decide when you are most likely to have a positive experience with habit stacking,” Sapadin says.</p> <p>If your aim is to practise gratitude by filling out a gratitude journal daily, it doesn’t make sense to tie this new habit to your morning shower. You won’t be writing under the spray of water, after all. Instead, you might stack the gratitude journalling habit on top of putting on your pyjamas.</p> <p>“Look at the habits you have daily, and look for the place where you might easily insert the new behaviour,” says Carpenter.</p> <p><em><strong>2. Don't use an emotionally laden habit as a cue</strong></em></p> <p>Certain ingrained routines are not the right triggers for new habits. If you wake up in the morning, hop on the scale and feel bad about yourself, for example, your am weigh-in is absolutely not the right cue for another habit. “If you pair a new habit with one that is emotionally triggering, you will unwittingly train the new habit to trigger similar emotions,” says Wallin.</p> <p><em><strong>3. Stack the habits for good </strong></em></p> <p>Most of us have already engaged in habit stacking for our bad habits, such as procrastinating on work. Let’s say you sit down at your desk to work, but you are reluctant to get started (usually due to some degree of anxiety). “To distract yourself from anxiety, you form a habit of scrolling through your social media feed for a few minutes,” says Wallin. Now you’re not working, and you’re not doing anything else terribly productive either.</p> <p>This pattern can continue to suck your time, which is the opposite effect of what habit stacking should be. “Next, suppose that, while scrolling through your social media, you see an ad for an item that you’ve been shopping for recently,” says Wallin. “What luck! You click to purchase it immediately. For the next few days, when you sit down to work, you check your social media and then look for other bargain offers. Now you are stacking another habit onto the sequence.”</p> <p>As you can guess, this type of habit stacking is easy, says Wallin. “But the sequence is counter-productive because it interferes with getting work done,” she says.</p> <p>If, instead, you want to mirror the morning habits of highly organised people, stack a productive task on top of another one. In time, you will become the naturally productive person you’ve always wanted to be.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/how-habit-stacking-trains-your-brain-to-make-good-habits-last?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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9 habits that secretly annoy your dentist

<h2>The importance of maintaining dental health</h2> <p>Maintaining good dental health does more than just keep your pearly whites bright. Recent research – such as one 2020 study – has found that poor oral hygiene is connected with other physical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.</p> <p>A recent report from the American Heart Association also found a link between poor dental care and declining brain health. But even if you’re brushing, flossing, and up-to-date with professional cleanings, dentists say many of us are guilty of some lifestyle and oral health habits that could be doing our mouths more harm than good.</p> <h2>Your love for citrus</h2> <p>Most people are aware that soft drinks are damaging to teeth, says dentist, Dr Arthur Jeske. “Others may be less obvious,” Dr Jeske says, like your morning smoothie with a squirt of lime juice or the lemon wedge you add to a beer or cocktail. This is because the high acidity levels in many fruits (even grapes and peaches are quite acidic) can cause demineralisation, “which means [they] can literally dissolve your tooth enamel over time.”</p> <p>Dr Jeske’s recommendation: drinking plain water after eating or drinking can help reduce fruits’ impact on your teeth.</p> <h2>That firm toothbrush</h2> <p>“Many people believe brushing with firmer toothbrush bristles and abrasive toothpaste will make their teeth cleaner and whiter,” says dental surgeon, Dr James Galati. But these products (and heavy-handed brushing in general) can actually damage teeth by taking off the protective enamel and traumatising gum tissue around the teeth – leading to receding gums and root exposure. Instead, aim for soft-bristle brushes and toothpastes with fluoride.</p> <h2>Overusing whitening toothpastes</h2> <p>Toothpastes vary widely in their abrasiveness, Dr Jeske explains. A product’s Relative Dentin Abrasion Value (RDA) is categorised by low, medium, and high abrasiveness.</p> <p>If you brush frequently, for instance, you may want to stick with a product on the lower end of the spectrum (this ranges from zero to 250, and Dr Jeske says you can look up the RDA for specific products online). But he points out that most whitening toothpastes tend to be among the more abrasive. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid them altogether, but he recommends using them less frequently in your routine and swapping in a gentler toothpaste to avoid excessive wear.</p> <h2>Brushing right after eating</h2> <p>It’s important to wait 15 to 30 minutes after eating or drinking before brushing your teeth, says dentist, Dr Jacquelyn Schieck. “[This time] allows the pH of the mouth to revert to neutral, which prevents brushing away enamel that’s been softened by acids in foods or beverages.”</p> <h2>Improper flossing</h2> <p>If you floss daily, you’re already ahead of the curve when it comes to your dental health. Population research is limited, but according to the Australian Dental Association only 25 per cent of Australian adults floss their teeth every day. So three quarters of Australian adults don’t floss daily.</p> <p>Still, “while flossing is considered a ‘gold standard’ for cleaning between the teeth and promoting gum health, it may not be as effective if used improperly,” Dr Jeske explains. For example, interdental cleaners – tiny, round brushes with handles – are recommended over string floss for certain people, such as those with more advanced gum disease. Your dentist and dental hygienist can advise you on what type of floss is best for you and how to use it effectively.</p> <p>Flossing technique is important, too: you want to be sure to thread your floss into your gums to make sure you’re effectively loosening food and other debris.</p> <h2>Charcoal toothpaste</h2> <p>Dr Galati says that one of the more potentially harmful internet fads he’s seen is charcoal-based toothpaste, powders, or tabs. These products are often promoted as eco-friendly, ‘natural’ teeth cleaners that can remove surface stains to whiten teeth and absorb bacteria that cause bad breath.</p> <p>But Dr Galati says that most charcoal-based toothpastes are very abrasive and can cause damage that makes your teeth more susceptible to decay and bone loss. Plus, “there are no studies showing they whiten teeth any better than standard toothpastes,” he says.</p> <h2>Your high stress levels</h2> <p>High stress levels and a demanding work or life environment have been linked to increased dental health problems, Dr Galati says. Stress can make you more prone to grinding and clenching your teeth, for example, which leads to excessive wear. Unconscious nervous habits like chewing on fingernails, hairpins, pen caps, or ice can cause similar damage, Dr Shieck adds.</p> <h2>Lying to your dentist</h2> <p>Medical professionals are there to help you, not judge your habits. Accurate information – including your lifestyle habits like smoking, vaping, diet, and alcohol use, dental habits, and medications or supplements you take – is crucial for your dentist to properly identify dental problems and design the optimal treatment plan. “Some misrepresentations are easy to detect,” Dr Jeske says, like if someone says they brush and floss twice a day but their gums bleed during a dental exam. “But others may confuse the diagnosis or delay it, resulting in additional harm,” (and often, financial costs.)</p> <h2>DIY orthodontics</h2> <p>“[This] is one of the most dangerous and concerning fads I’ve seen online,” says Dr Schieck. The movement of teeth is a complex biological process that requires a highly-trained doctor’s oversight to avoid harmful consequences. “It’s amazing what people will try,” she says. “But trying at-home aligner systems in the absence of orthodontic guidance, using elastics or other household items to move teeth, or even attempting to 3D-print appliances yourself is not safe or effective.”</p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/9-habits-that-secretly-annoy-your-dentist" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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