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‘I keep away from people’ – combined vision and hearing loss is isolating more and more older Australians

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/moira-dunsmore-295190">Moira Dunsmore</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/annmaree-watharow-1540942">Annmaree Watharow</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-kecman-429210">Emily Kecman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health">ageing population</a> brings a growing crisis: people over 65 are at greater risk of dual sensory impairment (also known as “deafblindness” or combined vision and hearing loss).</p> <p>Some 66% of people over 60 have hearing loss and 33% of older Australians have low vision. Estimates suggest more than a quarter of Australians over 80 are <a href="https://www.senseswa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/a-clear-view---senses-australia.pdf">living with dual sensory impairment</a>.</p> <p>Combined vision and hearing loss <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0264619613490519">describes</a> any degree of sight and hearing loss, so neither sense can compensate for the other. Dual sensory impairment can occur at any point in life but is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.02.004">increasingly common</a> as people get older.</p> <p>The experience can make older people feel isolated and unable to participate in important conversations, including about their health.</p> <h2>Causes and conditions</h2> <p>Conditions related to hearing and vision impairment often <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-we-lose-our-hearing-and-vision-as-we-age-67930">increase as we age</a> – but many of these changes are subtle.</p> <p>Hearing loss can start <a href="https://www.who.int/teams/noncommunicable-diseases/sensory-functions-disability-and-rehabilitation/highlighting-priorities-for-ear-and-hearing-care">as early as our 50s</a> and often accompany other age-related visual changes, such as <a href="https://www.mdfoundation.com.au/">age-related macular degeneration</a>.</p> <p>Other age-related conditions are frequently prioritised by patients, doctors or carers, such as <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/health-conditions-disability-deaths/chronic-disease/overview">diabetes or heart disease</a>. Vision and hearing changes can be easy to overlook or accept as a normal aspect of ageing. As an older person we interviewed for our <a href="https://hdl.handle.net/2123/29262">research</a> told us</p> <blockquote> <p>I don’t see too good or hear too well. It’s just part of old age.</p> </blockquote> <h2>An invisible disability</h2> <p>Dual sensory impairment has a significant and negative impact in all aspects of a person’s life. It reduces access to information, mobility and orientation, impacts <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/09638280210129162">social activities and communication</a>, making it difficult for older adults to manage.</p> <p>It is underdiagnosed, underrecognised and sometimes misattributed (for example, to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbz043">cognitive impairment or decline</a>). However, there is also growing evidence of links between <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">dementia and dual sensory loss</a>. If left untreated or without appropriate support, dual sensory impairment diminishes the capacity of older people to live independently, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">feel happy and be safe</a>.</p> <p>A dearth of specific resources to educate and support older Australians with their dual sensory impairment means when older people do raise the issue, their GP or health professional may not understand its significance or where to refer them. One older person told us:</p> <blockquote> <p>There’s another thing too about the GP, the sort of mentality ‘well what do you expect? You’re 95.’ Hearing and vision loss in old age is not seen as a disability, it’s seen as something else.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Isolated yet more dependent on others</h2> <p>Global trends show a worrying conundrum. Older people with dual sensory impairment become <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">more socially isolated</a>, which impacts their mental health and wellbeing. At the same time they can become increasingly dependent on other people to help them navigate and manage day-to-day activities with limited sight and hearing.</p> <p>One aspect of this is how effectively they can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.25522">comprehend and communicate in a health-care setting</a>. Recent research shows <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/healthcare12080852">doctors and nurses in hospitals</a> aren’t making themselves understood to most of their patients with dual sensory impairment. Good communication in the health context is about more than just “knowing what is going on”, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9032/12/8/852">researchers note</a>. It facilitates:</p> <ul> <li>shorter hospital stays</li> <li>fewer re-admissions</li> <li>reduced emergency room visits</li> <li>better treatment adherence and medical follow up</li> <li>less unnecessary diagnostic testing</li> <li>improved health-care outcomes.</li> </ul> <h2>‘Too hard’</h2> <p>Globally, there is a better understanding of how important it is to <a href="https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240030749">maintain active social lives</a> as people age. But this is difficult for older adults with dual sensory loss. One person told us</p> <blockquote> <p>I don’t particularly want to mix with people. Too hard, because they can’t understand. I can no longer now walk into that room, see nothing, find my seat and not recognise [or hear] people.</p> </blockquote> <p>Again, these experiences increase reliance on family. But caring in this context is tough and largely <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2020.572201">hidden</a>. Family members describe being the “eyes and ears” for their loved one. It’s a 24/7 role which can bring <a href="https://doi.org/10.1159/000507856">frustration, social isolation and depression</a> for carers too. One spouse told us:</p> <blockquote> <p>He doesn’t talk anymore much, because he doesn’t know whether [people are] talking to him, unless they use his name, he’s unaware they’re speaking to him, so he might ignore people and so on. And in the end, I noticed people weren’t even bothering him to talk, so now I refuse to go. Because I don’t think it’s fair.</p> </blockquote> <p>So, what can we do?</p> <p>Dual sensory impairment is a growing problem with potentially devastating impacts.</p> <p>It should be considered a unique and distinct disability in all relevant protections and policies. This includes the right to dedicated diagnosis and support, accessibility provisions and specialised skill development for health and social professionals and carers.</p> <p>We need to develop resources to help people with dual sensory impairment and their families and carers understand the condition, what it means and how everyone can be supported. This could include communication adaptation, such as social haptics (communicating using touch) and specialised support for older adults to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09649069.2019.1627088">navigate health care</a>.</p> <p>Increasing awareness and understanding of dual sensory impairment will also help those impacted with everyday engagement with the world around them – rather than the isolation many feel now.<!-- 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/232142/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/moira-dunsmore-295190">Moira Dunsmore</a>, Senior Lecturer, Sydney Nursing School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/annmaree-watharow-1540942">Annmaree Watharow</a>, Lived Experience Research Fellow, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-kecman-429210">Emily Kecman</a>, Postdoctoral research fellow, Department of Linguistics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</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/i-keep-away-from-people-combined-vision-and-hearing-loss-is-isolating-more-and-more-older-australians-232142">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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

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

Mind

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Technology is alienating people – and it’s not just those who are older

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carolyn-wilson-nash-1255329">Carolyn Wilson-Nash</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/julie-tinson-277507">Julie Tinson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</a></em></p> <p>We take it for granted that technology brings people closer together and improves our access to essential products and services. If you can’t imagine life without your smartphone, it’s easy to forget that people who can’t or don’t want to engage with the latest technology are being left behind.</p> <p>For example, there have recently been reports that <a href="https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/cars/1618497/parking-poll-results-cashless-car-parks-card-smartphone-app-only-elderly-drivers-spt">cashless payment systems</a> for car parking in the UK are seeing older drivers unfairly hit with fines. This has led to calls for the <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10851103/Esther-Rantzen-tells-ministers-pensioners-not-use-apps-pay-parking.html">government to intervene</a>.</p> <p>Age is one of the biggest predictors of <a href="https://ageing-better.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-08/landscape-covid-19-digital.pdf">digital exclusion</a>. Only 47% of those aged <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/itandinternetindustry/bulletins/internetusers/2019">75 and over</a> use the internet regularly. And out of the 4 million who have never used the internet in the UK, only 300,000 people are <a href="https://ageing-better.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-08/landscape-covid-19-digital.pdf">under 55</a>.</p> <p>But older people are not the only ones who feel shut out by new technology. For example, research shows vulnerable people, such as those with disabilities, are also disengaging with e-services and being <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0267257X.2012.691526">“locked out” of society</a>.</p> <h2>The digital transition</h2> <p>From train tickets to vaccine passports, there is a growing expectation that consumers should embrace technology to participate in everyday life. This is a global phenomenon. Out in front, Sweden predicts its economy will be <a href="https://sweden.se/life/society/a-cashless-society">fully cashless</a> by March 2023.</p> <p>Shops increasingly use QR codes, virtual reality window displays and self-service checkouts. Many of these systems require a smart device, and momentum is building for QR codes to be integrated into <a href="https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/technology-and-supply-chain/the-time-has-finally-arrived-for-electronic-shelf-labels-heres-why/661068.article">digital price tags</a> as they can give customers extra information such as nutritional content of food. Changing paper labels is a labour intensive process.</p> <p>Technology pervades all aspects of consumer life. Going on holiday, enjoying the cinema or theatre, and joining sport and social clubs all make people feel part of society. But many popular artists now use online queues to sell tickets to their shows. Social groups use WhatsApp and Facebook to keep their members updated.</p> <p>When it comes to booking a holiday, there is a <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/919811/number-of-travel-agents-united-kingdom-uk/#:%7E:text=Overall%2C%20there%20were%203%2C710%20retail,as%20TUI%20and%20Hays%20Travel.">decreasing number</a> of in-person travel agents. This limits the social support to make the best choice, which is particularly important for those with specific needs such as people with health issues. And once travelling, aircrew expect flight boarding passes and COVID passports to be available on smartphones.</p> <p>Essential services such as healthcare, which can already <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0267257X.2022.2078861">be difficult</a> for older and other people to navigate, are also moving online. Patients are increasingly expected to use the GP website or email to request to see a doctor. Ordering prescriptions online is encouraged.</p> <h2>Not just older people</h2> <p><a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/digital-lifeline-a-qualitative-evaluation/digital-lifeline-a-qualitative-evaluation">Not everyone can afford</a> an internet connection or smart technology. Some regions, particularly rural ones, struggle for phone signal. The UK phone network’s plans for a <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire-61377944">digital switchover</a> by 2025, which would render traditional landlines redundant, could cut off people who rely on their landlines.</p> <p>Concerns about privacy can also stop people using technology. Data collection and security breaches impact people’s confidence in organisations. A 2020 survey into <a href="https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/risk-and-resilience/our-insights/the-consumer-data-opportunity-and-the-privacy-imperative">consumers’ trust</a> in businesses showed no industry reached a trust rating of 50% for data protection. The majority of respondents (87%) said they would not do business with a company if they had concerns about its security practices.</p> <p>Some people view “forced” digitisation as a symbol of consumer culture and will limit their technology use. Followers of the <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228310981_The_Voluntary_Simplicity_Movement_Reimagining_the_Good_Life_Beyond_Consumer_Culture">simple living movement</a>, which gained momentum in the 1980s, try to minimise their use of technology. Many people take a “less is more” <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JCM-04-2020-3749/full/html">approach to technology</a> simply because they feel it offers a more meaningful existence.</p> <p>One of the most common reasons for digital exclusion, however, <a href="https://www.iriss.org.uk/resources/esss-outlines/digital-inclusion-exclusion-and-participation">is poverty</a>. When the <a href="https://www.local.gov.uk/parliament/briefings-and-responses/tackling-digital-divide-house-commons-4-november-2021">pandemic hit in March 2020</a>, 51% of households earning between £6,000 to £10,000 had home internet access, compared with 99% of households with an income over £40,000.</p> <p>Limited access to tablets, smartphones and laptops can result in feelings of isolation. Many older consumers have developed strategies to manage and overcome the <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0267257X.2021.1945662">digital challenges</a> presented by these devices. But those unable to <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-older-people-are-mastering-technology-to-stay-connected-after-lockdown-165562">engage with technology</a> remain excluded if their family and friends don’t live close by.</p> <h2>Smart change</h2> <p>The solution is not simply to give devices to those without smart technology. While there is a need to provide affordable internet access and technology, and offer support in learning new skills, we need to recognise diversity in society.</p> <p>Services should provide non-digital options that embrace equality. For example, cash systems should not be abolished. There might be a demand for services to become digital, but service providers need to be aware of the people who will be isolated by this transition.</p> <p>Retailers, local councils, health providers and businesses in tourism, entertainment and leisure should try to understand more about the diversity of their consumers. They need to develop services that cater for the needs of all people, especially those without access to technology.</p> <p>We live in a diverse world and diverse consumers need choice. After all, access to and inclusion in society is a human 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/184095/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/carolyn-wilson-nash-1255329">Carolyn Wilson-Nash</a>, Lecturer, Marketing and Retail, Stirling Management School, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/julie-tinson-277507">Julie Tinson</a>, Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</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/technology-is-alienating-people-and-its-not-just-those-who-are-older-184095">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Technology

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Dreading footy season? You’re not alone – 20% of Australians are self-described sport haters

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-fujak-290599">Hunter Fujak</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/heath-mcdonald-92440">Heath McDonald</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p>With the winter AFL and NRL seasons about to start, Australia’s sporting calendar is once again transitioning from its quietest to busiest period.</p> <p>For many, the return of the AFL and NRL competitions is highly anticipated. But there is one group whose experience is very different: the approximately 20% of Australians who hate sport.</p> <p>We are currently conducting research to better understand why people feel this way about sport and what their experiences are like living in a nation where sport is so <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1329878x15616515">culturally central</a>. We have completed surveys with thousands of Australians and are now beginning to interview those who have described themselves as “sport haters”.</p> <h2>Australia, a ‘sports mad’ nation</h2> <p>Australia has long been described as a “<a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14660970902955588">sports mad nation</a>”, a reasonable assertion given the Melbourne Cup attracted crowds of <a href="https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/catalog/2178266">more than 100,000 people</a> as far back as the 1880s.</p> <p>Australia’s sport passion is perhaps most evident today from the number of professional teams we support for a nation of 26 million people, one of the highest per capita <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Heath-Mcdonald/publication/326140082_Are_Sport_Consumers_Unique_Consumer_Behavior_Within_Crowded_Sport_Markets/links/5e9465fd92851c2f529c4322/Are-Sport-Consumers-Unique-Consumer-Behavior-Within-Crowded-Sport-Markets.pdf">concentrations</a> in the world.</p> <p>In addition to our four distinct football codes – Australian rules football, rugby league, rugby union and soccer – we have professional netball, basketball, cricket and tennis. In all, there are more than <a href="https://www.clearinghouseforsport.gov.au/kb/structure-of-australian-sport">130 professional sport teams in Australia</a> today (across both genders).</p> <p>Australia also hosts – and Australians attend – major sport events at a rate wildly disproportionate to the size of our population and economy. <a href="https://www.blackbookmotorsport.com/news/f1-australian-grand-prix-record-crowd-melbourne-albert-park/">Formula One</a>, the <a href="https://ausopen.com/articles/news/record-breaking-australian-open-ao-2024-numbers">Australian Open</a>, the <a href="https://nbl.com.au/news/nbl-sets-new-season-attendance-record">National Basketball League</a>, the <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/sport/nrl/nrl-attendance-records-tumble-as-fans-flock-back-to-footy-20230902-p5e1ib.html">National Rugby League</a> and <a href="https://mumbrella.com.au/64-of-aussie-population-watched-matildas-new-deakin-research-claims-797902">Matildas</a> have all recently broken attendance or television viewership records.</p> <h2>Why people hate sport</h2> <p>The ubiquity of sport in our culture, however, conceals the fact that a significant portion of people strongly and actively dislike sport. Recent <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14413523.2023.2233342">research</a> by one of the co-authors here (Heath McDonald) has begun to shine light on this cohort, dubbed “sport haters”.</p> <p>Sport haters account for approximately 20% of the Australian population, according to two surveys we have conducted of nearly 3,500 and more than 27,000 adults. Demographically, this group is significantly more likely to be female, younger and more affluent than other Australians.</p> <p>Their strong negative sentiments are reflected in the most common word associations <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14413523.2023.2233342">study participants</a> used to describe sport. In the case of AFL, these were: “boring”, “overpaid”, “stupid/dumb”, “rough”, “scandal” and “alcohol”.</p> <p>While the reasons for disliking sport vary from person to person, research shows there are some common themes. The first is in childhood, where negative experiences participating in sport or attending games or matches can lead to a life-long dislike of all sport. As one professed sport hater said in an <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskMen/comments/1zxfyt/guys_who_do_not_like_sports_can_you_explain_why/">online forum devoted to men who don’t like sport</a>: "My brother would force me to play soccer against my will all the time as children. I think that is where my resentment for physical sport comes from because the choice was taken away from me by my twat of a brother."</p> <p>Sport hatred can also derive from social exclusion or marginalisation. Sport has historically been a male-centric domain that <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0277539587900525">celebrates</a> masculinity and can lead to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-20/taylor-swift-effect-sports-fandom-nfl/103486274">toxic behaviour</a>, which can exclude many women and some men.</p> <p>Sport has also had to overcome racism, perhaps most symbolically visible by AFL player Nicky Winmar’s <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-04-17/nicky-winmar-indigenous-afl-racism-anniversary/102222960">iconic protest</a> in 1993. In addition, individuals with a disability still face <a href="https://www.sportaus.gov.au/integrity_in_sport/inclusive-sport/understanding-our-diverse-audiences/people-with-disability#:%7E:text=People%20with%20disability%20receive%20the,than%20adults%20who%20don't.">barriers</a> that result in lower rates of sport participation.</p> <p>Here, the current <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-20/taylor-swift-effect-sports-fandom-nfl/103486274">Taylor Swift effect</a> is noteworthy. The singer’s attendance at National Football League games, including the Superbowl, resulted in huge spikes in television viewership. Through her association, Swift helped make the sport more <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096969892300317X#bib122">psychologically accessible</a> for many women and girls.</p> <p>The <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&amp;lr=&amp;id=AvjrDwAAQBAJ&amp;oi=fnd&amp;pg=PT125&amp;dq=Contesting+national+Culture&amp;ots=1_lQuBpKK7&amp;sig=dMb-5s0PgpUumUTSFeEKZiNq0dg#v=onepage&amp;q=Contesting%20national%20Culture&amp;f=false">cultural dominance</a> of sport also fuels its detractors, with many critical of sport’s media saturation and its broader social and even political prioritisation. (The <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-16/macquarie-point-stadium-dominates-election-campaign-day-one/103473124">debate in Tasmania</a> over the controversial AFL stadium proposal is a good case in point.)</p> <p>From a media perspective, Australia’s particularly strict <a href="https://theconversation.com/regardless-of-the-rules-sport-is-fleeing-free-tv-for-pay-and-it-might-be-an-avalanche-154640">anti-siphoning</a> laws have ensured that sport remains front and centre on free-to-air television programming.</p> <p>Sport’s cultural dominance also fosters resentment for overshadowing people’s non-sporting passions and pursuits, as well as creating societal out-groups. Journalist Jo Chandler’s <a href="https://libraryedition.smedia.com.au/lib_a/Default.aspx#panel=document">2010</a> description of moving to Melbourne is no doubt shared by many: "In the workplace, to be unaligned is deeply isolating. Team tribalism infects meetings, especially when overseen by male chiefs. In shameful desperation, I’ve played along."</p> <p>In life, it’s fairly easy to avoid most products you might dislike. But given sport’s ubiquity, simply tuning out is sometimes not an option.</p> <h2>The Anti-Football League, a club for haters</h2> <p>In 1967, two Melbourne journalists, Keith Dunstan and Douglas Wilkie, launched an anti-sport club in response to this growing cultural dominance. In his founding address to the <a href="https://www.academia.edu/7584522/Football_is_a_Fever_Disease_Like_Recurrent_Malaria_and_Evidently_Incurable_Passion_Place_and_the_Emergence_of_an_Australian_Anti_Football_League">Anti-Football League</a>, Wilkie made clear who the club was for: "All of us who are tired of having football personalities, predictions and post mortems cluttering our newspapers, TV screens and attempts at alternative human converse – from beginning-of-morning prayers to the last trickle of bed time bathwater – should join at once."</p> <p>Membership quickly reached the thousands. Soon, a Sydney branch was launched, bringing national membership to a high of around 7,000. According to sport historian Matthew Klugman, members found joy in being “haters”.</p> <p>"…they wanted to find a shared meaning in their suffering, not to extinguish it, but to better enjoy it."</p> <p>This led to some curious rituals, with members ceremonially cremating footballs or burying them. An Anti-Football Day was also launched, taking place on the eve of the Victorian Football League Grand Final.</p> <p>The club would go on to experience periods of both prosperity and hiatus over the years, but has been dormant since <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/vale-keith-dunstan-gentle-footy-hater-cyclist-and-master-of-words-20130911-2tklh.html">Dunstan’s death</a> in 2013.</p> <p>With eight more years to go in Australia’s so-called “<a href="https://this.deakin.edu.au/career/golden-decade-of-sport-ahead-for-australia">golden decade of sport</a>”, which began with <a href="https://www.fiba.basketball/womensbasketballworldcup/2022">2022 Women’s Basketball World Cup in Sydney</a> and culminates with the 2032 Brisbane Olympics, it may be time sport haters to start a new support group.</p> <p>If you consider yourself a sport hater, and are interested in contributing your experience to our ongoing research, please provide your contact information <a href="https://researchsurveys.deakin.edu.au/jfe/form/SV_a4CqHyqipjYj5SC">here</a>.<!-- 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/223733/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/hunter-fujak-290599"><em>Hunter Fujak</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Sport Management, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/heath-mcdonald-92440">Heath McDonald</a>, Dean of Economics, Finance and Marketing and Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT 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/dreading-footy-season-youre-not-alone-20-of-australians-are-self-described-sport-haters-223733">original article</a>.</em></p>

TV

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How to be kind to yourself (without going to a day spa)

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lydia-brown-179583">Lydia Brown</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>“I have to be hard on myself,” Sarah told me in a recent telehealth psychology session. “I would never reach my potential if I was kind and let myself off the hook.”</p> <p>I could empathise with this fear of self-compassion from clients such as Sarah (not her real name). From a young age, we are taught to be kind to others, but self-kindness is never mentioned.</p> <p>Instead, we are taught success hinges on self-sacrifice. And we need a healthy inner critic to bully us forward into becoming increasingly better versions of ourselves.</p> <p>But <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167212445599">research shows</a> there doesn’t have to be a trade-off between self-compassion and success.</p> <p>Self-compassion can help you reach your potential, while supporting you to face the inevitable stumbles and setbacks along the way.</p> <h2>What is self-compassion?</h2> <p><a href="https://self-compassion.org/">Self-compassion</a> has <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15298860309027">three</a> key ingredients.</p> <p><strong>1. Self-kindness</strong></p> <p>This involves treating yourself with the same kindness you would extend towards a good friend – via your thoughts, feelings and actions – especially during life’s difficult moments.</p> <p>For instance, if you find yourself fixating on a minor mistake you made at work, self-kindness might involve taking a ten-minute walk to shift focus, and reminding yourself it is OK to make mistakes sometimes, before moving on with your day.</p> <p><strong>2. Mindfulness</strong></p> <p>In this context, mindfulness involves being aware of your own experience of stress or suffering, rather than repressing or avoiding your feelings, or over-identifying with them.</p> <p>Basically, you must see your stress with a clear (mindful) perspective before you can respond with kindness. If we avoid or are consumed by our suffering, we lose perspective.</p> <p><strong>3. Common humanity</strong></p> <p>Common humanity involves recognising our own experience of suffering as something that unites us as being human.</p> <p>For instance, a sleep-deprived parent waking up (for the fourth time) to feed their newborn might choose to think about all the other parents around the world doing exactly the same thing – as opposed to feeling isolated and alone.</p> <h2>It’s not about day spas, or booking a manicure</h2> <p>When Sarah voiced her fear that self-compassion would prevent her success, I explained self-compassion is distinct from self-indulgence.</p> <p>“So is self-compassion just about booking in more mani/pedis?” Sarah asked.</p> <p>Not really, I explained. A one-off trip to a day spa is unlikely to transform your mental health.</p> <p>Instead, self-compassion is a flexible <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-031-22348-8_7">psychological resilience factor</a> that shapes our thoughts, feelings and actions.</p> <p>It’s associated with a suite of benefits to our <a href="https://iaap-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/aphw.12051">wellbeing</a>, <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15298868.2011.639548">relationships</a> and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17437199.2019.1705872">health</a>.</p> <h2>What does the science say?</h2> <p>Over the past 20 years, we’ve learned self-compassionate people enjoy a wide range of benefits. They tend to be <a href="https://iaap-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/aphw.12051">happier</a> and have <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2012.06.003">fewer psychological symptoms</a> of distress.</p> <p>Those high on self-compassion <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167212445599">persevere</a> following a failure. They say they are more motivated to overcome a personal weakness than those low on self-compassion, who are more likely to give up.</p> <p>So rather than feeling trapped by your inadequacies, self-compassion encourages a <a href="https://hbr.org/2018/09/give-yourself-a-break-the-power-of-self-compassion">growth mindset</a>, helping you reach your potential.</p> <p>However, self-compassion is not a panacea. It will not change your life circumstances or somehow make life “easy”. It is based on the premise that life is hard, and provides practical tools to cope.</p> <h2>It’s a factor in healthy ageing</h2> <p>I research menopause and healthy ageing and am especially interested in the value of self-compassion through menopause and in the second half of life.</p> <p>Because self-compassion becomes important during life’s challenges, it can help people navigate physical symptoms (for instance, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378512214001649?via%3Dihub">menopausal hot flushes</a>), life transitions such as <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0956797611429466">divorce</a>, and <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-031-22348-8_7">promote healthy ageing</a>.</p> <p>I’ve also teamed up with researchers at <a href="https://www.autismspectrum.org.au/">Autism Spectrum Australia</a> to explore self-compassion in autistic adults.</p> <p>We found autistic adults report significantly <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10803-022-05668-y">lower levels</a> of self-compassion than neurotypical adults. So we developed an online <a href="https://www.autismspectrum.org.au/blog/new-online-self-compassion-program-for-autistic-adults">self-compassion training program</a> for this at-risk population.</p> <h2>Three tips for self-compassion</h2> <p>You <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jclp.21923">can learn</a> self-compassion with these three exercises.</p> <p><strong>1. What would you say to a friend?</strong></p> <p>Think back to the last time you made a mistake. What did you say to yourself?</p> <p>If you notice you’re treating yourself more like an enemy than a friend, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, try to think about what you might tell a friend, and direct that same friendly language towards yourself.</p> <p><strong>2. Harness the power of touch</strong></p> <p>Soothing human touch <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychiatry/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.555058/full">activates</a> the parasympathetic “relaxation” branch of our nervous system and counteracts the fight or flight response.</p> <p>Specifically, self-soothing touch (for instance, by placing both hands on your heart, stroking your forearm or giving yourself a hug) <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666497621000655">reduces</a> cortisol responses to psychosocial stress.</p> <p><strong>3. What do I need right now?</strong></p> <p>Sometimes, it can be hard to figure out exactly what self-compassion looks like in a given moment. The question “what do I need right now” helps clarify your true needs.</p> <p>For example, when I was 37 weeks pregnant, I woke up bolt awake one morning at 3am.</p> <p>Rather than beating myself up about it, or fretting about not getting enough sleep, I gently placed my hands on my heart and took a few deep breaths. By asking myself “what do I need right now?” it became clear that listening to a gentle podcast/meditation fitted the bill (even though I wanted to addictively scroll my phone).<!-- 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/223194/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/lydia-brown-179583"><em>Lydia Brown</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-be-kind-to-yourself-without-going-to-a-day-spa-223194">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

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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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‘Self-love’ might seem selfish. But done right, it’s the opposite of narcissism

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ian-robertson-1372650">Ian Robertson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a></em></p> <p>“To love what you are, the thing that is yourself, is just as if you were embracing a glowing red-hot iron” <a href="https://archive.org/details/jungsseminaronni0000jung">said psychonalyst Carl Jung</a>.</p> <p>Some may argue this social media generation does not seem to struggle with loving themselves. But is the look-at-me-ism so easily found on TikTok and Instagram the kind of self-love we need in order to flourish?</p> <p>The language of <a href="https://theconversation.com/teaching-positive-psychology-skills-at-school-may-be-one-way-to-help-student-mental-health-and-happiness-217173">positive psychology</a> can be – and often is – appropriated for all kinds of self-importance, as well as cynical marketing strategies.</p> <p>Loving yourself, though, psychological experts stress, is not the same as behaving selfishly. There’s a firm line between healthy and appropriate forms of loving yourself, and malignant or <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-many-types-of-narcissist-are-there-a-psychology-expert-sets-the-record-straight-207610">narcissistic</a> forms. But how do we distinguish between them?</p> <p>In 2023, researchers Eva Henschke and Peter Sedlmeier conducted <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/355152846_What_is_self-love_Redefinition_of_a_controversial_construct">a series of interviews</a> with psychotherapists and other experts on what self-love is. They’ve concluded it has three main features: self-care, self-acceptance and self-contact (devoting attention to yourself).</p> <p>But as an increasingly individualistic society, are we already devoting too much attention to ourselves?</p> <h2>Philosophy and self-love</h2> <p>Philosophers and psychology experts alike have considered the ethics of self-love.</p> <p>Psychology researcher Li Ming Xue and her colleagues, <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.585719/full">exploring the notion of self-love in Chinese culture</a>, claim “Western philosophers believe that self-love is a virtue”. But this is a very broad generalisation.</p> <p>In the Christian tradition and in much European philosophy, <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10848770.2020.1839209">says philosopher Razvan Ioan</a>, self-love is condemned as a profoundly damaging trait.</p> <p>On the other hand, <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/2107991">many of the great Christian philosophers</a>, attempting to make sense of the instruction to love one’s neighbour as oneself, admitted certain forms of self-love were virtuous. In order to love your neighbour as yourself, you must, it would seem, love yourself.</p> <p>In the Western philosophical context, claim Xue and her colleagues, self-love is concerned with individual rights – “society as a whole only serves to promote an individual’s happiness”.</p> <p>This individualistic, self-concerned notion of self-love, they suggest, might come from the Ancient Greek philosophers. In particular, Aristotle. But <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/philosophy-stirred-not-shaken/201502/love-yourself-love-your-character">Aristotle thought only the most virtuous</a>, who benefited the society around them, should love themselves. By making this connection, he avoided equating self-love with self-centredness.</p> <p>We should love ourselves not out of vanity, he argued, but in virtue of our capacity for good. Does Aristotle, then, provide principled grounds for distinguishing between proper and improper forms of self-love?</p> <h2>Bar too high?</h2> <p>Aristotle might set the bar too high. If only the most virtuous should try to love themselves, this collides head-on with the idea loving yourself can help us improve and become more virtuous – as <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9781137383310_6">philosophers Kate Abramson and Adam Leite have argued</a>.</p> <p>Many psychologists claim self-love is important for adopting the kind and compassionate self-perception crucial for overcoming conditions that weaponise self-criticism, like <a href="https://theconversation.com/clinical-perfectionism-when-striving-for-excellence-gets-you-down-43704">clinical perfectionism</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-many-people-have-eating-disorders-we-dont-really-know-and-thats-a-worry-121938">eating disorders</a>.</p> <p>More broadly, some argue compassion for oneself is necessary to support honest insights into your own behaviour. They believe we need warm and compassionate self-reflection to avoid the defensiveness that comes with the fear of judgement – even if we’re standing as our own judge.</p> <p>For this reason, a compassionate form of self-love is often necessary to follow Socrates’ advice to “know thyself”, says <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10677-015-9578-4">philosopher Jan Bransen</a>. Positive self-love, by these lights, can help us grow as people.</p> <h2>Self-love ‘misguided and silly’</h2> <p>But not everyone agrees you need self-love to grow. The late philosopher <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/nov/29/guardianobituaries.obituaries">Oswald Hanfling</a> was deeply sceptical of this idea. In fact, he argued the notion of loving oneself was misguided and silly. His ideas are mostly rejected by philosophers of love, but pointing out where they go wrong can be useful.</p> <p>When you love someone, he said, you’re prepared to sacrifice your own interests for those of your beloved. But he thought the idea of sacrificing your own interests made no sense – which shows, he concluded, we can’t love ourselves.</p> <p><a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/3751159">He wrote</a>: "I may sacrifice an immediate satisfaction for the sake of my welfare in the future, as in the case of giving up smoking. In this case, however, my motive is not love but self-interest. What I reveal in giving up smoking is not the extent of my love for myself, but an understanding that the long-term benefits of giving it up are likely to exceed the present satisfaction of going on with it."</p> <p>We often have conflicting interests (think of someone who is agonising over two different career paths) – and it’s not at all strange to sacrifice certain interests for the sake of others.</p> <p>This is not just a question of sacrificing short-term desires in favour of a long-term good, but a matter of sacrificing something of value for your ultimate benefit (or, so you hope).</p> <h2>Self-compassion</h2> <p>Hanfling fails to consider the role of compassionate self-love. While we might understand it’s in our interests to do something (for instance, repair bridges with someone we’ve fallen out with), it might take a compassionate and open disposition towards ourselves to recognise what’s in our best interests.</p> <p>We might need this self-compassion, too, in order to admit our failures – so we can overcome our defensiveness and see clearly how we’re failing to fulfil <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10677-015-9578-4">these interests</a>.</p> <p>Self-acceptance in this context does not mean giving ourselves licence to run roughshod over the interests of those around us, nor to justify our flaws as “valid” rather than work on them.</p> <p>Self-love, as promoted by contemporary psychologists, means standing in a compassionate relationship to ourselves. And there’s nothing contradictory about this idea.</p> <p>Just as we strive to develop a supportive, kind relationship to the people we care about – and just as this doesn’t involve uncritical approval of everything they do – compassionate self-love doesn’t mean abandoning valid self-criticism.</p> <p>In fact, self-compassion has the opposite effect. It promotes comfort with the kind of critical self-assessment that helps us grow – which leads to resilience. It breeds the opposite of narcissistic self-absorption.<!-- 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/205938/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/ian-robertson-1372650">Ian Robertson</a>, PhD Candidate (Teaching roles at Macquarie &amp; Wollongong), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</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/self-love-might-seem-selfish-but-done-right-its-the-opposite-of-narcissism-205938">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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Maintaining friendships after a dementia diagnosis can spur feelings of joy and self-worth

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/colleen-whyte-1281976">Colleen Whyte</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/brock-university-1340">Brock University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/darla-fortune-1363967">Darla Fortune</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/concordia-university-1183">Concordia University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-genoe-1363968">Rebecca Genoe</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-regina-3498">University of Regina</a></em></p> <p>What would our lives be like if we could no longer depend on our most cherished friendships? The people who know us best, who have been there through our ups and downs, and share a history with us?</p> <p>For many people living with dementia, this is a reality. Over 500,000 Canadians <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/en/about-dementia/what-dementia/dementia-numbers-canada">are currently living with dementia</a>, and a diagnosis often leads to <a href="https://www.alzscot.org/news/friendship-and-dementia">a loss of friendships</a> and social opportunities.</p> <p>The reactions of friends greatly affect the experience of someone living with dementia. When friends distance themselves because they don’t know what to say or presume they no longer know how to interact with their friend, a person with dementia can experience <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275353356_Friendships_for_People_Living_with_Dementia_in_Long-Term_Care">feelings of isolation and loneliness</a>.</p> <p>When people living with dementia can depend on their friends, they continue to enjoy meaningful leisure activities, experience <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afx186">feelings of joy and self-worth</a>, and see themselves as <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/en/take-action/become-dementia-friendly/meaningful-engagement-people-living-dementia">valued members of their social circles</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://dementiaandfriendship.ca/">Our research</a> had us interview friends together, asking them to share tips and strategies for navigating dementia. We heard moving stories of deepened bonds of friendship, genuine acceptance and the joy of simply being together.</p> <h2>Adapting to changes</h2> <p>Our research allowed us to speak with people who shared a 70-year friendship and couldn’t imagine life without each other. We learned that for some, a neighbourhood walk together was an opportunity to say a quick hello and how a weekly trip to the pub enabled some friends to connect and re-connect in a familiar space.</p> <p>People living with dementia and their friends <a href="https://doi.org/10.1017/S0714980821000301">may adapt to changes</a> brought about by the diagnosis in several ways. For example, they may prioritize their friendship by setting aside time for regular phone calls and visits. They may alter the way they think about the friendship by being accepting of the changes. They may also use practical strategies, like providing reminders for plans, and offering additional support when spending time together.</p> <p>Friends of individuals living with dementia may seek ways to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1471301220980898">continue enjoying meaningful time together</a>. Sometimes this involves identifying activities that are comfortable and familiar. It may also involve providing direction and encouragement to support the continuation of enjoyable experiences, such as visiting a favourite restaurant.</p> <p>For some, additional comfort may come from hanging out as a group because there is extra support available if needed.</p> <h2>Open and honest communication</h2> <p>Open and honest communication is key to maintaining any friendship and becomes particularly important following a diagnosis of dementia. Yet, that may be the biggest challenge.</p> <p>Below are <a href="https://dementiaandfriendship.ca/">some questions that friends might find helpful</a> to ask over a cup of coffee, on a walk or in a quiet, shared moment:</p> <ul> <li>What do you value about our friendship? Can I tell you what our friendship means to me?</li> <li>What is one thing I do that makes you laugh? Here’s something you do that makes me laugh…</li> <li>How can we make sure we maintain our friendship (i.e., talk on the phone, over the internet, go for coffee)? How often do you want to connect? How do we need to change our time together? What can stay the same?</li> <li>How can we support each other to continue enjoying the leisure activities that are meaningful to us?</li> <li>What are the best times and days to plan activities (i.e., morning, afternoon, weekday, weekend)? Are there exceptions?</li> <li>Do we need to schedule something in advance (need time to prepare, or get more rest the day before) or can we be spontaneous?</li> <li>Where do you feel safe and able to be yourself?</li> <li>When we are in public and you need me to step in for you, how will I know? What is “our” signal?</li> <li>What do I do if I notice you’re starting to make decisions that are not like you?</li> <li>Can I ask you these same questions in a few weeks?</li> </ul> <p>The need for friendship <a href="https://alzheimer.ca/en/help-support/im-living-dementia/living-well-dementia/staying-socially-connected">does not diminish with age</a> and <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/happiness-in-world/201312/the-true-meaning-friendship">friendships continue to deeply enrich our lives</a>.</p> <p>Given that a dementia diagnosis often puts individuals at an increased risk of social isolation, we must pay careful attention to understanding ways to ensure that friends remain engaged with their networks in personal and meaningful ways.</p> <p>The first step is to trust in the friendship and begin to explore how it can be sustained over time.<!-- 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/187038/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/colleen-whyte-1281976"><em>Colleen Whyte</em></a><em>, Associate Professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/brock-university-1340">Brock University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/darla-fortune-1363967">Darla Fortune</a>, Associate Professor, Applied Human Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/concordia-university-1183">Concordia University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-genoe-1363968">Rebecca Genoe</a>, Professor, Kinesiology and Health Studies, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-regina-3498">University of Regina</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/maintaining-friendships-after-a-dementia-diagnosis-can-spur-feelings-of-joy-and-self-worth-187038">original article</a>.</em></p>

Relationships

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How to stop self-criticising and build yourself up instead

<p><strong>Stop the self-harm</strong></p> <p>It won’t hurt as much when you say something mean about me if I say it about myself first. For decades, this had been my mantra, a type of self-defence mechanism I developed as a kid against those who would criticise, bully or belittle me. On one hand, it made me humble, aware of my flaws and open to improving myself. On the other, self-criticising stunted my ability to be confident and trust my gut.</p> <p>The self-criticism quickly took on a life of its own – to the point where I was constantly trying to anticipate what people might not like about me and then beat them to the punchline. “I know I can be too much, and you’re probably sick of me,” I’d tell friends, which was a statement born less out of self-awareness and more out of fear. That sort of self-deprecating remark made it impossible to love myself, put others in an awkward position and backfired on quite a few occasions. A new friend once quipped, “If that were true, why would I be friends with you? Are you saying I have bad taste in friends?”</p> <p>That hit hard. For people who didn’t have good intentions, well, I’d just handed them a laundry list of all my insecurities. What I was really saying was I’m afraid you’ll hurt me, so I’ll hurt myself first. That’s a pretty harsh way to live life. Luckily, there’s a path out of the self-criticising trap. I talked to the experts to find out why we’re so good at putting ourselves down – and how to stop.</p> <p><strong>Why do we criticise ourselves so much?</strong></p> <p>I’m not the only one who made self-criticising a personality trait. In fact, a lot of women are conditioned to be this way, says psychologist Dr Traci Stein, who is also an author and creator of a series of programs to fight critical self-talk and build self-compassion.</p> <p>“Having negative thoughts about ourselves is human nature. We all want to fit in, be accepted and not be ostracised,” she explains. “We are all under a lot of pressure to measure ourselves according to other people’s evaluations and expectations. So we subconsciously fixate on something to ‘fix’ so we will feel loved and accepted.”</p> <p>The irony of these thoughts is that while they’re based on a desire to fit in and feel accepted in our community, they often have the opposite result, says Latasha Blackmond, author of Be You, No Filter: How to Love Yourself and Stay #SocialMediaStrong. “Over time, self-criticism does the very thing you’re afraid of: It isolates you by making you very self-centred and, yes, selfish. You’re too busy worrying about yourself to love and help others,” she says.</p> <p>Ouch.</p> <p><strong>What is self-criticism and how do you spot it?</strong></p> <p>Self-criticism is any thought that highlights a flaw or problem you have – or think you have (as Stein points out, critical thoughts are often untrue). These negative thoughts can become ingrained so deeply in your inner voice that they become hard to recognise in the moment.</p> <p>You can identify these thoughts, she says, because they are often self-defeating and repetitive, leading to feelings of insecurity, confusion, self-doubt, sadness and anger. The connection between self-criticising thoughts and negative emotions is so strong that many people with chronic depression find that a habit of severe self-criticism is at the core of their mental illness.</p> <p>Often tell yourself you’re a massive failure? That’s self-criticism. Other examples of self-critical thoughts include:</p> <ul> <li>I’ll never be good enough. I’ve always failed at everything I try.</li> <li>I don’t deserve to be loved.</li> <li>I hate myself.</li> <li>If only I were richer, thinner, prettier or smarter. Then people would like me.</li> <li>I don’t deserve good things, but I deserve all the bad things.</li> <li>I’m so annoying. Everyone must hate me.</li> </ul> <p>These are just the tip of the garbage iceberg. Self-criticism can cover any area of your life, including your body, relationships, sexual encounters, career, finances, goals, hobbies, family and education – even your life in general, Stein says.</p> <p><strong>What is the harm in self-criticising?</strong></p> <p>On a basic level, being able to recognise our own faults benefits us because it gives us a chance to correct them and improve. But this is different from the type of malignant self-criticising many people engage in, Blackmond says. “Self-criticism is rarely productive and often impedes growth,” she says. “You start to believe all the bad things you are saying about yourself, which can then turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. This, in turn, leads to anxiety and depression, creating a vicious cycle of negativity.”</p> <p>Case in point: You tell yourself you’re too dumb to get the promotion at work, so you don’t even try. When you don’t get the promotion, you tell yourself that proves you were right. You beat yourself up for your “failure,” which reinforces the belief that you are dumb, starting the whole cycle over again.</p> <p>“People who are very self-critical lack the confidence to make mistakes they can learn from. Fearing they aren’t good enough can lead to struggles at school, work and in general, and can lead someone to avoid any situation that generates more worry and self-doubt,” Stein says, adding that these people are also more likely to end up in toxic or abusive relationships.</p> <p>Another issue arises when self-criticism framed as self-improvement turns into excessive worrying, Stein says. “So someone might wind up worrying about an awful lot of things, from whether they are ‘good enough’ in some way to excessive worrying about their health, safety or competence – even if there is no objective evidence suggesting they have something to worry about,” she explains. “These worries take up a lot of time and energy.”</p> <p><strong>How to stop self-criticising once and for all</strong></p> <p>The good news about these negative thoughts is they are just that: thoughts. And you can change your thoughts, Blackmond says. It starts by cultivating a positive mindset through self-compassion. “Be aware of the negative thoughts and interrupt that internal dialogue,” she says. “Change them into something positive. Speak to yourself kindly, like you would to someone you love and care about. You’d never tell your child that they are stupid and ugly, so don’t speak to yourself that way either.”</p> <p>Easier said than done? Here are 12 tips from our experts that will help you cultivate self-compassion and nix harmful critical thoughts.</p> <p><strong>1. Celebrate imperfections </strong></p> <p>Kintsugi is a Japanese art form that repairs broken pottery with gold, highlighting the “flaws” and showing the beauty in breaking down and repairing. Look for kintsugi in your life, metaphorically and physically. “Look to art, music, poetry and prose, drama and [other areas] that celebrate imperfection and see it as a gift, not a flaw to be hidden,” Blackmond says.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Try this:</em></span> Start by reading body-positivity quotes and confidence quotes. For a hands-on lesson in the beauty of imperfections, get a kintsugi craft kit. Or watch a play, read a book or listen to a song that celebrates our flaws.</p> <p><strong>2. Be less judgemental of others</strong></p> <p>People who are harshly critical of others are usually harshly critical of themselves as well, so learning to offer others grace and compassion can open the door to doing the same for yourself, Blackmond says. “It’s about not seeing the world as black or white, good or bad,” she says.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Try this:</em></span> Whenever you catch yourself thinking negatively of someone else – from your sister to a celebrity to a terrible driver – stop the thought and offer a more compassionate take. Let’s say your mind automatically thinks What kind of idiot can’t park between the lines? Replace the thought with a kinder take: This person must have been in a big hurry or having a bad day. I hope things get better for them.</p> <p><strong>3. Delete your social media apps</strong></p> <p>Or at least lessen the amount of time you spend on them. “Social media can have this immense impact on our self-esteem because it encourages us to compare our worst selves to other people’s best selves,” Blackmond says. Besides, what you see is often photoshopped or cherry-picked.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Try this:</em></span> Stop comparing yourself to others. Limit your time on social media to one hour or less per day. Curate your feed, and unfollow anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself.</p> <p><strong>4. Get therapy</strong></p> <p>Self-critical thoughts can be really sticky, especially if you’ve made a habit of them, Stein says. “A good therapist will help you learn to recognise these thoughts, challenge them and come up with anxiety-management strategies,” she says. “They can also act as a mirror, helping you see yourself in a more accurate light.”</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Try this:</em></span> Find a therapist who specialises in self-compassion or read a book about self-compassion.</p> <p><strong>5. Do a mindfulness meditation</strong></p> <p>Mindfulness is simply the practice of being present in the here and now, and when you’re focused on this moment, you can’t beat yourself up by looking to the past with regret or looking to the future with worry, Stein says. “Mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool for learning to reframe or stop self-critical thoughts,” she says.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Try this:</em></span> Download a meditation app like Calm, Headspace or The Mindfulness App, and do a daily guided mindfulness meditation. Don’t worry about acing the practice on day one. Being mindful is a learned skill, and mindfulness meditation is useful even at the beginner stage.</p> <p><strong>6. Use self-deprecating humour sparingly </strong></p> <p>Making other people the butt of your jokes is cruel… and so is making yourself the butt of the joke. “A little self-deprecating humour in the right situation can help defuse tension and build relationships, but a little goes a long way,” Blackmond says. Heavy-handed self-deprecating humour makes others uncomfortable, and it can affect how you see yourself.</p> <p>“Be very careful with how you speak about yourself, even in a joking way,” she says. “Better yet, pick a different type of humour to bond over.”</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Try this:</em></span> Brush up on your public speaking, and if you’re going to crack a joke, pick one that has nothing to do with you.</p> <p><strong>7. Go outside </strong></p> <p>Self-criticism makes your world get smaller and smaller as you limit yourself. The antidote? Make your world bigger. “When you find yourself getting trapped in a cycle of negativity, go outside and take a walk,” Blackmond says. Breathe the fresh air, look at the sunset, say hi to your neighbours, pick up a little trash along the way – all these things will help you instantly feel better about yourself and the world.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Try this:</em></span> Take a walk outdoors each day and boost both your mental and physical health. Listen to some confidence-boosting songs in the process to really break your negative mindset.</p> <p><strong>8. Learn a new hobby</strong></p> <p>From painting to computer coding to rock climbing, trying new things helps you focus on the positive while “proving” the negative thoughts wrong. The trick, Blackmond says, is to go into it with a positive attitude. Be open to new things and accept that failing is a part of the learning process. “It’s OK to fail,” she says. “Expect mistakes as part of the learning process – celebrate them.”</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Try this:</em></span> Sign up for a class, find a new hobby or go back to an activity you used to love.</p> <p><strong>9. End toxic relationships </strong></p> <p>“A lot of us are self-critical because we were criticised early on by parents or other loved ones,” Stein says, adding that people often see this type of criticism as good because it’s “done out of love.” But this is not loving behaviour.</p> <p>“Go where you’re celebrated,” Blackmond says. “Everyone deserves to be celebrated and lifted up by their loved ones.”</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Try this:</em></span> Break the cycle by keeping relationships with only those people who build you up and encourage you to grow. Avoid people who use “brutal honesty” or “tough love” to show their care. Stand up for yourself and kick those toxic relationships to the curb.</p> <p><strong>10. Try cognitive behavioural therapy</strong></p> <p>Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and its companion, dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), are powerful psychological tools for reframing negative thoughts and learning how to think more positively, Stein says. “CBT helps people become more aware of the specific, core beliefs behind all of these in-the-moment worries and identify what is triggering the negative self-talk,” she explains. They sound technical, but the concepts are simple, and anyone can implement them with practice.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Try this:</em></span> Even if you have to get out of your comfort zone a little, it’s worth signing up for a course of CBT. Not ready for that? Do a CBT workbook at home.</p> <p><strong>11. Help other people</strong></p> <p>The fastest way to feel more positively about yourself is to do something positive in the world, Blackmond says. “Self-criticism is inherently selfish. Serving others is selfless,” she says. “Pure altruism sparks a cascade of love and positivity that fills you and radiates outwards.”</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Try this:</em></span> Do something for someone who can’t do anything for you, she suggests. For instance, volunteer at a local school or food bank. Not only will you be doing some good in the world, but you’ll reap the many benefits of volunteering.</p> <p><strong>12. Use self-reflection instead of self-criticism </strong></p> <p>No one is saying that you need to think you’re perfect exactly the way you are, or there’s no room for improvement. Rather, Blackmond says, you should be looking honestly and realistically at your flaws. The trick is to do it in a positive way. Self-reflection encourages insight and action based on self-love and a desire to do better and be better, she explains. Self-criticism stops that process, trapping you in a cycle of negativity and stunting your growth.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Try this:</em></span> Keep a journal of the things you like about yourself and the things you can improve on. Practice gratitude for yourself and others. Make positive goals to help you progress in those areas, track your progress and celebrate your successes.</p> <p><strong>Stop the self-criticising cycle </strong></p> <p>“At the core of every self-critical belief is the question ‘Am I lovable and worthy of love the way I am?’ And the answer is yes, you are,” Stein says. Too many people, like me, use self-criticism as a self-defence tool, and it cuts us off from the very love and acceptance we crave.</p> <p>Learning how to build emotional strength and quiet that critical self-talk through self-compassion is the key to stronger relationships and a happier life. “You’ve only got this one life, so don’t waste it on regret and worry,” she says.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/how-to-stop-self-criticising-and-build-yourself-up-instead?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Mind

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A guide to overcoming loneliness during the holidays

<div title="Page 1"> <div> <p>Navigating the holiday season during adulthood isn’t always smooth sailing. Often, the arrival of the festive period can bring with it a sense of loneliness. Whether it’s being away from family or missing out on celebrations, the holiday blues can be hard to shake and for many, the significance of togetherness during the holidays can accentuate feelings of isolation or detachment.</p> </div> <div> <p>Offering her insight on how to overcome these emotions, Jacqui Manning, resident psychologist at Connected Women, an organisation that facilitates friendships for women over 50 shares her top tips to help you enjoy a more connected and fulfilling holiday season.</p> </div> <div> <p><strong>Acknowledge Your Feelings</strong></p> <p>“It’s ok to admit that you feel lonely. In fact, it’s the first step to overcoming and accepting these feelings,” explains Jacqui.</p> <p>“Christmas is traditionally a time that is associated with togetherness and so recognising your emotions is the foundation for developing effective coping strategies. Reach out to the friends you do have, family or support groups and let them know you might need extra support during this time. You should also invest in your mental wellbeing, either by incorporating mindfulness techniques to help break any negative thoughts or creating a mindset of gratitude by reflecting on the positive aspects of your life. Both these techniques can shift your focus towards positivity.”</p> </div> <div> <p><strong>Invest in Yourself</strong></p> <p>If you’re feeling down, Jacqui suggests prioritising self-care.</p> <p>“Investing in yourself is an act of self-love and resilience. It shifts the focus from external pressures to internal fulfilment, fostering a deep sense of empowerment. This approach is particularly valuable during the holidays, as it allows you to create a positive and nurturing environment for yourself.”</p> <p><strong>Find New Connections</strong></p> <p>Prevention plays an essential role in mitigating the risks of social isolation before they take hold. When it comes to combating loneliness, it’s all about identifying the connections you might be missing and actively seeking ways to build them.</p> <p>Jacqui explains, “In the modern-day era that we are in, recognising the potential of technology is vital. If you don’t have anyone nearby, dive into the online world to explore nearby community meetups or virtual events; I assure you, you’ll discover something that aligns with your interests, and you'll find others who are in a similar situation to you,” Jacqui concludes.</p> </div> <div> <p>“Whether you want to relax in a bubble bath, use the holiday season as an opportunity to discover a new hobby or simply spend more time outdoors to connect with nature, remember that these intentional acts of self-investment are gifts to your own well-being. Taking time for yourself is not only a deserved treat but a crucial element of maintaining balance and happiness.”</p> <div title="Page 2"> <p>As the festivities draw near, it’s essential to tune in to your own needs, invest in self-care and actively seek connection, whether with new or pre-existing relations. These steps will not only contribute to your well-being but also serve to enrich and elevate your experience throughout the festive season.</p> <p><strong><em>About Connected Women</em></strong></p> <p><strong><em>Phoebe Adams is the co-founder of Connected Women, an organisation providing a community for women over 50 to connect and build meaningful friendships. With a rapidly growing community in Perth, Sydney, Wollongong, Melbourne and Geelong, Connected Women provides a safe and welcoming space for women to come together and share experiences. To learn more about the organisation and how you can get involved, visit <a href="https://www.connectedwomen.net" target="_blank" rel="noopener">connectedwomen.net</a>.</em></strong></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> </div> </div> </div>

Family & Pets

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Baby boomers fight back against "self-entitled whingeing generations"

<p>Angry baby boomers have hit back at young Australians for continuing to blame the ageing population for the current housing crisis. </p> <p>A group of disgruntled seniors have shared their thoughts with the <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/blaming-baby-boomers-for-your-money-woes-is-unfair-lazy-and-wrong-20231127-p5en21.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Sydney Morning Herald</em></a> about the "self-entitled" young Australians, who are facing never-before-seen financial and social barriers to break into the housing market. </p> <p>The open letters come in the wake of Census data showing empty-nesters are hanging on to their big homes in inner-city suburbs, while young families are struggling to find suitable housing while also battling mortgage stress and renters are getting relentlessly price-gouged. </p> <p>Despite the current system disproportionately affecting younger Australians, boomers have hit back at universal claims that they had it easier back in the day. </p> <p>"We bought and paid for these homes; it's not our job to house the next generations, it's the government's," explained Kathleen Kyle in a letter to the <em>Sydney Morning Herald</em>. </p> <p>"Nobody questions people who spend their money on lovely cars or antiques, or suggests that they don't need them any more."</p> <p>In another letter, Kathy Willis from Kew near Port Macquarie wrote, "Boomers have worked very hard to get what they have, having brought up their families in these homes."</p> <p>"I suggest the discourse be directed to people such as town planners, local councils and state governments for their lack of vision in the past, and what the present authorities are going to do about it – and of course, the taxpayers' expense."</p> <p>Suzanne Hopping from Redfern, Sydney, wrote that she could no longer stay silent on "boomer bashing" from "self-entitled whingeing generations".</p> <p>"I bought my first home when I was 39 in an undesirable suburb. Buying a home (at 17.5 per cent interest) was as difficult then as it is today."</p> <p>"When I left home I had no expectations of ever being able to afford to buy a place of my own."</p> <p>"Self-entitled whingeing generations, if you don't like what you see, do something positive about it. Each generation has its unique problems, stop the moralising."</p> <p>Wendy Cousins from Balgownie NSW wrote that "boomer bashing" is futile, adding, "Why encourage resentment of boomers because many choose to stay in their homes? This will not free up any housing."</p> <p>"Many have already downsized and those who haven't, have a variety of reasons why they don't. We have enough division in our society without the constant boomer bashing."</p> <p>Despite the views of many disgruntled boomers, University of Melbourne Professor Allan Fels, an economist and mental health advocate, said figures show beyond a doubt that life is much tougher for the younger generation, and basic economics prove it is much harder for them to buy a house.</p> <p>"We baby boomers have had it a lot easier than the new generation of young people," he told <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12793605/Boomers-hit-self-entitled-whingeing-young-Aussies-reveal-theyre-not-blame-housing-crisis.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Daily Mail Australia</em></a>.</p> <p>"They face a future of much less home ownership and associated mental health stability. The mere fact they are missing out is a cause of stress."</p> <p>"The trend of rising prices adds to the stress because many used to think that they could buy their own house but they keep missing out because prices are continually rising just beyond their grasp."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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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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The world’s least visited countries revealed

<p dir="ltr">The world’s least visited countries have been revealed for those who like their holidays to be well and truly off the grid. </p> <p dir="ltr">These 10 countries should be on the travel bucket lists of those who prefer to be away from everyone and everything, and who revel in a crowd-free getaway. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to the <a href="https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/least-visited-countries" target="_blank" rel="noopener">United Nations World Tourism Organisation</a> 2023 report, these ten countries welcome very few tourists for a range of logistic reasons. </p> <p dir="ltr">Some of these remote countries are lying in hard-to-reach corners of the globe, while others are just “too small to host vast numbers of tourists”. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, they're all worth the effort for a traveller after a certain kind of holiday, as they offer golden beaches, crystal clear waters and blissful isolation. </p> <p dir="ltr">The country that came in at number one, as the least visited country in the world, was the country of Tuvalu, which welcomes just 3,700 annual visitors. </p> <p dir="ltr">Tuvalu is located 1,000km north of Fiji in the west-central Pacific Ocean, just below the equator. </p> <p dir="ltr">The three coral islands and six atolls that make up the country have a total land mass of around 10 square miles, making it the fourth-smallest country in the world. </p> <p dir="ltr">Sadly, the future of Tuvalu is uncertain, as the small country is expected to be a victim of climate change, with rising sea levels putting the country and its residents in danger. </p> <p dir="ltr">Tuvalu is also tricky to reach, with no direct international flights, and only three flights a week running to the island from Fiji. </p> <p dir="ltr">Here is the full top 10 list of the least visited countries in the world. </p> <p dir="ltr">10. Guinea-Bissau. Annual visitors: 52,000</p> <p dir="ltr">9. Comoros. Annual visitors: 45,000</p> <p dir="ltr">8. São Tomé and Príncipe. Annual visitors: 34,900</p> <p dir="ltr">7. Solomon Islands. Annual visitors: 29,000</p> <p dir="ltr">6. Montserrat. Annual visitors: 19,300</p> <p dir="ltr">5. Micronesia. Annual visitors: 18,000</p> <p dir="ltr">4. Kiribati. Annual visitors: 12,000</p> <p dir="ltr">3. Niue. Annual visitors: 10,200</p> <p dir="ltr">2. Marshall Islands. Annual visitors: 6,100</p> <p dir="ltr">1. Tuvalu. Annual visitors: 3,700</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Shutterstock</em></p>

International Travel

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Feeling lonely? Too many of us are. Here’s what our supermarkets can do to help

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/louise-grimmer-212082">Louise Grimmer</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>Even <a href="https://endingloneliness.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Ending-Loneliness-Together-in-Australia_Nov20.pdf">before COVID-19</a>, <a href="https://aifs.gov.au/resources/resource-sheets/understanding-and-defining-loneliness-and-social-isolation">social isolation and loneliness</a> were all too common across the community. Living among millions of other people is no comfort for people in cities, where the pace of life is often hectic, and technology and digitisation often limit, rather than help with, social interaction.</p> <p>The pandemic <a href="https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-amp0001005.pdf">amplified these problems</a>. In its wake, more of us report we’re lonely.</p> <p>For some, a weekly shopping trip may be the only chance to interact with others. A supermarket chain in the Netherlands is helping to combat loneliness with so-called “slow” checkouts where chatting is encouraged. Could a similar approach work here?</p> <h2>We’re getting lonelier</h2> <p>Around a third of Australians report feeling lonely. <a href="https://lonelinessawarenessweek.com.au/download/512/">One in six</a> experience severe loneliness.</p> <p>According to the annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (<a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/hilda/publications/hilda-statistical-reports">HILDA</a>) Survey, people <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-07-17/social-media-work-hours-cost-of-living-rising-loneliness/102563666">aged 15 to 24</a> report the greatest increase in social isolation over the past 20 years and the highest rates of loneliness. Another <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-07-14/middle-aged-men-experiencing-high-level-loneliness/102563492">Australian survey</a> found men aged 35 to 49 had the highest levels of loneliness.</p> <p>Loneliness and social isolation are <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-07-17/social-media-work-hours-cost-of-living-rising-loneliness/102563666">not the same</a>. Social isolation is a matter of how often we have contact with friends, family and others, which can be measured.</p> <p>Loneliness is more subjective. It describes how we feel about the “quality” of our interactions with others.</p> <p>Technology is <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/live-long-and-prosper/202210/technology-use-loneliness-and-isolation#:%7E:text=Technology%20compulsion%20might%20lead%20to,disconnection%20and%20reduce%20well%2Dbeing.">contributing</a> to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-07-17/social-media-work-hours-cost-of-living-rising-loneliness/102563666">high rates of loneliness</a>. Instead of meaningful face-to-face interactions, many of us now rely on social media, phone apps and video calls to socialise.</p> <p>We’re also working longer hours, often at home. And due to the cost of living, many of us are choosing to stay home and save money, rather than eat out or go to “the local”.</p> <p>It isn’t only in Australia where this is happening. In the UK, around <a href="https://www.lonelinessawarenessweek.org/statistics">3.9 million older people</a> say television is their main company. Half a million may go five or six days a week without seeing anyone.</p> <p>The World Health Organisation <a href="https://www.who.int/teams/social-determinants-of-health/demographic-change-and-healthy-ageing/social-isolation-and-loneliness">recognises</a> loneliness and social isolation as public health issues and priorities for policymakers. These issues seriously affect people’s mental and physical health as well as longevity. The impacts are comparable with other <a href="https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-023-15967-3">risk factors</a> such as smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity and not being physically active.</p> <h2>Could slow, ‘chatty’ checkouts be part of the solution?</h2> <p>For many, a visit to the supermarket may be the only time they interact with others. Sadly, increased use of technology, including self-serve checkouts, and cashiers tasked with speedily processing customers can make it challenging to have a conversation.</p> <p><iframe title="The FASTEST checkout cashier ever😮 TikTok: rogerlopez7511" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TpALSOvw4LU" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Four years ago, the Netherlands’ second-largest supermarket chain, <a href="https://jumbo.com">Jumbo</a>, introduced <em>Kletskassa</em> or “chat checkout”. It’s for shoppers who want to chat and aren’t in a hurry. Recognising loneliness was an issue for many, the idea was to increase social interaction between customers and staff by slowing things down and encouraging conversation.</p> <p>Jumbo’s chief commercial officer, Colette Cloosterman-van Eerd, <a href="https://www.dutchnews.nl/2021/09/jumbo-opens-chat-checkouts-to-combat-loneliness-among-the-elderly/">explained</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Many people, especially the elderly, sometimes feel lonely. As a family business and supermarket chain, we are at the heart of society. Our shops are an important meeting place for many people, and we want to play a role in identifying and reducing loneliness.</p> </blockquote> <p>The first <em>Kletskassa</em>, in Vlijmen in Brabant, was so successful the family-owned company started rolling out slow checkouts in <a href="https://www.dutchnews.nl/2021/09/jumbo-opens-chat-checkouts-to-combat-loneliness-among-the-elderly/">200 of its stores</a>. Not only were customers responding positively, the concept also appealed to Jumbo’s employees. They are trained to recognise signs of loneliness and come up with local initiatives to combat social isolation.</p> <p>Cloosterman-Van Eerd said:</p> <blockquote> <p>We are proud our staff want to work the chat checkout. They really want to help people and make contact with them. It’s a small gesture but it’s a valuable one, particularly in a world that is becoming more digital and faster.</p> </blockquote> <p>The original focus of Jumbo’s initiative was older shoppers. However, the trial showed people of all ages were keen to use the <em>Kletskassa</em>. The desire for human interaction didn’t change across age groups.</p> <p>So, these “chatty” checkouts are open to anyone who will benefit from social connection. Some Jumbo stores also have an <a href="https://www.brightvibes.com/dutch-supermarket-introduces-a-unique-chat-checkout-to-help-fight-loneliness/">All Together Coffee Corner</a>, where locals can enjoy a coffee and chat with neighbours and volunteers who also <a href="https://scoop.upworthy.com/dutch-supermarket-introduces-a-unique-slow-checkout-lane-to-help-fight-loneliness-595693-595693">help out</a> with shopping and gardening.</p> <p>The Netherlands’ government is partnering a range of organisations, local government and companies to come up with solutions to combat loneliness across the country. Some 50% of the 1.3 million people over 75 report they regularly feel lonely. Jumbo’s initiatives are part of the Health Ministry’s <a href="https://www.globalwellnesssummit.com/blog/governments-ramp-up-the-war-on-loneliness/">One Against Loneliness</a> campaign.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/11SY0wG6Zc8?wmode=transparent&amp;start=10" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Jumbo supermarket’s innovation of slow chat checkouts has been extended to 200 of its stores.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Supermarkets as ‘third places’ to combat loneliness</h2> <p>In the 1980s, sociologist Ray Oldenberg coined the term <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00986754">“third place”</a> – a place that’s not home (the “first place”) and not work (the “second place”). Third places are familiar public spaces where people can connect over a shared interest or activity.</p> <p>Libraries, coffee shops, book stores, community gardens, churches, gyms and clubs are examples of third places. They all provide the opportunity for close proximity, interaction and often serendipitous conversations with other people we might not usually meet.</p> <p><em>Kletkassa</em> have helped thousands of people, of all ages and backgrounds, by providing a few minutes of kindness and conversation. Imagine what could be achieved if our supermarkets offered their own version of the “slow checkout” for anyone who’s in need of a chat to brighten their day.</p> <p>The first chain to introduce this sort of initiative in Australia would have a solid advantage over competitors through differentiation and prioritising customers. At the same time, it would make a small but meaningful contribution to improving social wellbeing.</p> <p>Challenge extended!<!-- 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/211126/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/louise-grimmer-212082">Louise Grimmer</a>, Senior Lecturer in Retail Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</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/feeling-lonely-too-many-of-us-are-heres-what-our-supermarkets-can-do-to-help-211126">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

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"Self-indulgent narcissism": Tina Arena slammed for breaking lockdown restrictions

<p>Tina Arena has come under fire for bragging about breaking Covid lockdown restrictions to resist what she called a "totalitarian" regime. </p> <p>The 55-year-old singer spoke candidly with <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>The Weekend Australian</em></a>, reflecting on the 2021 Delta lockdowns and why she chose to deliberately break the restriction that prevented people from travelling within 5km of their homes. </p> <p>"Why can't you drive more than five kilometres? Guess what – watch me. So I did. I drove past my five kilometres. Am I a criminal now? You want to pull me up? Pull me up. You want to fine me? Fine me. I'm not the one with the issue here," she told the publication.</p> <p>"The issue is, there is no logic. You have no right to do that. You are fining me. This is totalitarian. We don't work like that."</p> <p>Tina went on to claim that she was the only person who was frustrated by the harsh lockdown measures enough to speak up. </p> <p>"I didn't hear anybody complaining ­during lockdown other than me: 'Why are we locked up? Where's your science? What? Why?; The fear was so much for me; it was choking me, I was like, I can't cope with all of you being so fear-driven like this, and compliant," she said.</p> <p>Tina's comments sparked outrage online, with many people weighing in on her "selfish" choice to break the rules.</p> <p>"Tina Arena is just the Pete Evans of Music," wrote one person, referring to the disgraced television chef who was criticised for his anti-vax views. </p> <p>"Tina Arena - just another ignorant, selfish, fearful individual who was unwilling to comply with lockdown orders at the height of a deadly pandemic before vaccines were available. Yes 'deadly'! I have zero sympathy for those who blatantly ignored the restrictions," said another. </p> <p>Another disgruntled reader said, "Tina Arena's self indulgent narcissism is astounding, does she think she was the only person feeling fearful, locked up and battling mental health issues during the pandemic?"</p> <p>Another person called out her actions, writing, "Very selfish of Tina Arena. Hundreds of healthcare workers were f***ing exhausted, people with disabilities and severe health conditions were (and still are) living in fear of getting sick and she decided the rules wouldn't apply to her. Very disappointing."</p> <p>Social media users were quick to point out her "selfish" comments, with one person putting things into perspective by saying, "Most of us weren't wallowing in self pity, we were just doing what we needed to do to keep our families safe."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Legal

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Why young people are self-diagnosing illnesses

<p dir="ltr">A lot of people turn to Google when they get symptoms of being sick, and jump to the conclusion that it may be a serious issue, however, for the younger crowd - Dr Google is now Dr TikTok. </p> <p dir="ltr">The social media app is filled with content about all sorts of topics, known for its 15-second clips it has been applauded for starting important conversations about mental health, especially among young people. It allows people to share experiences and support each other.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, as beneficial as that may be, it’s causing a lot of children to self-diagnose themselves with several mental and neurological disorders. These conditions include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), dissociative identity disorder (DID), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette’s syndrome, and more.</p> <p dir="ltr">It’s troublesome as a doctor must diagnose a patient with an illness, and kids are taking it into their own hands based on videos that resonate with them.</p> <p dir="ltr">Psychologist Doreen Dodgen-Magee, said, “There are many accounts, hosted by educated, trained, and licensed professionals where reliable information can be found,” says Dr. Dodgen-Magee. But not all posts contain accurate, science-backed information — and many people scrolling through TikTok don’t know this”.</p> <p dir="ltr">It’s an issue that continues to grow as young people are getting medical advice from fellow TikTokers rather than seeing a doctor. </p> <p dir="ltr">If you have any symptoms of poor physical or mental health then you must be professionally diagnosed and set up with a treatment plan. Don’t rely on a social media app targeted towards children to diagnose you with health issues.</p> <p dir="ltr">Image credit: Shutterstock</p>

Mind

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“I didn’t want to come out!”: Spanish mountaineer emerges after 500 days underground

<p>When Spanish mountaineer Beatriz Flamini descended into her cave - and home for the next 500 days - the world was an entirely different place. </p> <p>COVID-19 restrictions were still enforced, Queen Elizabeth II was still alive and on the throne, war hadn’t been declared in Ukraine, and Flamini herself was only 48. </p> <p>She entered the cave on November 20 2021, and while she was forced to surface for eight days while repairs were made to a router - one used for transmitting audio and video - she spent that brief period isolated in a tent. </p> <p>And then, a year and a half later, a 50-year-old Flamini emerged from 230 feet underground outside of Granada, Spain. And while most would be eager for some sunshine and some company after such a stint, Flamini had an entirely different take, informing everyone that she had actually been sound asleep when her team came to collect her. </p> <p>“I thought something had happened,” she said. “I said, ‘already? Surely not.’ I hadn’t finished my book.”</p> <p>And when it came to whether or not she’d struggled while down there, Flamini was quite to declare “never. In fact, I didn’t want to come out!”</p> <p>To keep herself occupied during the marathon stay, Flamini tried her hand at a whole host of popular pastimes, from knitting to exercising, painting, knitting, and reading. The effort paid off, the days flying by as the determined mountaineer successfully lost track of time.</p> <p>“On day 65, I stopped counting and lost perception of time,” she explained. “I didn’t talk to myself out loud, but I had internal conversations and got on very well with myself.</p> <p>“You have to remain conscious of your feelings. If you’re afraid, that’s something natural, but never let panic in, or you get paralysed.”</p> <p>Flamini was given a panic button in case of emergency, but she never felt the need to use it. And while her support team were on hand to give her clean clothing, provide essential food, and remove any waste that had accumulated, they were not to talk to her.</p> <p>“If it’s no communication it’s no communication, regardless of the circumstances,” Flamini said of that particular decision. “The people who know me knew and respected that.”</p> <p>As for what comes next, Flamini will now be studied by a team of experts - psychologists, researchers, and the like - to determine what impact the isolation of her extended time below might have had on her. </p> <p><em>Images: Getty, Sky News</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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We were told we’d be riding in self-driving cars by now. What happened to the promised revolution?

<p>According to <a href="https://electrek.co/2015/12/21/tesla-ceo-elon-musk-drops-prediction-full-autonomous-driving-from-3-years-to-2/">predictions</a> <a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/09/lyfts-president-says-car-ownership-will-all-but-end-by-2025">made</a> nearly a decade ago, we should be riding around in self-driving vehicles today. It’s now clear the autonomous vehicle revolution was overhyped.</p> <p>Proponents woefully underestimated the technological challenges. It turns out developing a truly driverless vehicle is hard.</p> <p>The other factor driving the hype was the amount of money being invested in autonomous vehicle startups. By 2021, it was estimated more than <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/02/04/self-driving-cars-why/">US$100 billion</a> in venture capital had gone into developing the technology.</p> <p>While advances are being made, it is important to understand there are multiple levels of autonomy. Only one is truly driverless. As established by <a href="https://www.sae.org/blog/sae-j3016-update">SAE International</a>, the levels are:</p> <ul> <li> <p>level 0 — the driver has to undertake all driving tasks</p> </li> <li> <p>level 1, hands on/shared control — vehicle has basic driver-assist features such as cruise control and lane-keeping</p> </li> <li> <p>level 2, hands off – vehicle has advanced driver-assist features such as emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, auto park assist and traffic-jam assist</p> </li> <li> <p>level 3, eyes off — vehicle drives itself some of the time</p> </li> <li> <p>level 4, mind off — vehicle drives itself most of the time</p> </li> <li> <p>level 5, steering wheel option — vehicle drives itself all the time.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Why the slow progress?</h2> <p>It’s estimated the technology to deliver safe autonomous vehicles is about <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/mar/27/how-self-driving-cars-got-stuck-in-the-slow-lane">80% developed</a>. The last 20% is increasingly difficult. It will take a lot more time to perfect.</p> <p>Challenges yet to be resolved involve unusual and rare events that can happen along any street or highway. They include weather, wildlife crossing the road, and highway construction.</p> <p>Another set of problems has emerged since <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonmainwaring/2022/08/22/cruise-ride-hailing-goes-green-and-driverless/?sh=6a7439376843">Cruise</a> and <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/19/23467784/waymo-provide-fully-driverless-rides-san-francisco-california">Waymo</a> launched their autonomous ride-hailing services in San Francisco. The US National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2022/12/16/cruises-autonomous-driving-tech-comes-under-scrutiny-from-safety-regulators/">opened an investigation</a> in December 2022, only six months after the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/jun/03/california-driverless-taxi-cars-san-francisco">services were approved</a>. It cited incidents where these vehicles “may have engaged in inappropriately hard braking or became immobilized”.</p> <p>The San Francisco County Transportation Authority <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/01/technology/self-driving-taxi-san-francisco.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">stated</a>, "[I]n the months since the initial approval of autonomous taxi services in June 2022, Cruise AVs have made unplanned and unexpected stops in travel lanes, where they obstruct traffic and transit service and intrude into active emergency response scenes, including fire suppression scenes, creating additional hazardous conditions."</p> <p>In several cases, Cruise technicians had to be called to move the vehicles.</p> <h2>What’s happening now?</h2> <p>Active autonomous vehicle initiatives can be grouped into two categories: ride-hailing services (Cruise, Waymo and Uber) and sales to the public (Tesla).</p> <p>Cruise is a subsidiary of General Motors founded in 2013. As of September 2022, it operated 100 robotaxis in San Francisco and had plans to increase its fleet to 5,000. Critics said this would increase city traffic.</p> <p>Cruise also began to offer services in Chandler (a Phoenix suburb), Arizona, and Austin, Texas, in December 2022.</p> <p>Waymo, formerly the Google Self-Driving Car Project, was founded in January 2009. The company lost <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/11/23453262/waymo-av-driverless-taxi-phoenix-california-dmv-progress">US$4.8 billion in 2020 and US$5.2 billion in 2021</a>.</p> <p>Waymo One provides autonomous ride-hailing services in <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2023/2/28/23617278/waymo-self-driving-driverless-crashes-av">Phoenix as well as San Francisco</a>. It plans to expand into <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2022/10/19/23410677/waymo-los-angeles-autonomous-robotaxi-service-launch">Los Angeles</a> this year.</p> <p>Uber was a major force in autonomous vehicle development as part of its business plan was to replace human drivers. However, it ran into problems, including a crash in March 2018 when a self-driving Uber killed a woman walking her bicycle across a street in Tempe, Arizona. In 2020, Arizona Uber sold its AV research division to Aurora Innovation.</p> <p>But in October 2022 Uber got back into autonomous vehicles by <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/samabuelsamid/2022/10/06/motional-and-uber-announce-10-year-deal-to-deploy-automated-vehicles-in-multiple-us-markets/?sh=44d83a84273e">signing a deal</a> with Motional, a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv. Motional will provide autonomous vehicles for Uber’s ride-hailing and delivery services.</p> <p>Lyft, the second-largest ride-sharing company after Uber, operates in the US and Canada. Like Uber, Lyft had a self-driving unit and in 2016, Lyft co-founder John Zimmer <a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/09/lyfts-president-says-car-ownership-will-all-but-end-by-2025">predicted</a> that by 2021 the majority of rides on its network would be in such vehicles (and private car ownership would “all but end” by 2025). It didn’t happen. By 2021, Lyft had also <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/26/lyft-sells-self-driving-unit-to-toyotas-woven-planet-for-550m/">sold its self-driving vehicle unit</a>, to Toyota.</p> <p>In 2022, Zimmer <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2022/10/20/lyft-co-founder-says-autonomous-vehicles-wont-replace-drivers-for-at-least-a-decade/">said</a> the technology would not replace drivers for at least a decade. However, Lyft did partner with Motional in August 2022 to launch <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/lyft-and-motional-deliver-the-first-rides-in-motionals-new-all-electric-ioniq-5-autonomous-vehicle-301606519.html">robotaxis in Las Vegas</a> and <a href="https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/lyft-motional-launch-robotaxi-service-los-angeles-2022-11-17/">Los Angeles</a>.</p> <p>Telsa is the <a href="https://www.ev-volumes.com/">world leader in sales</a> of battery electric vehicles. It also purports to sell vehicles with full automation. However, by the end of 2022, no level 3, 4 or 5 vehicles were for sale in the United States.</p> <p>What Telsa offers is a full self-driving system as a US$15,000 option. Buyers acknowledge they are buying a beta version and assume all risks. If the system malfunctions, Telsa does not accept any responsibility.</p> <p>In February 2023, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration <a href="https://amp.theguardian.com/technology/2023/feb/16/tesla-recall-full-self-driving-cars">found</a>, "[Fully self-driving] beta software that allows a vehicle to exceed speed limits or travel through intersections in an unlawful or unpredictable manner increases the risk of a crash."</p> <p>This led to Tesla <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/feb/16/tesla-recall-full-self-driving-cars">recalling 362,000 vehicles</a> to update the software.</p> <p>Another setback for autonomous vehicle sales to the public was the October 2022 announcement that Ford and VW had decided to <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2022/10/26/ford-vw-backed-argo-ai-is-shutting-down/">stop funding autonomous driving technology company Argo AI</a>, resulting in its closure. Both Ford and VW decided to shift their focus from level 4 automation to levels 2 and 3.</p> <h2>So, what can we expect next?</h2> <p>Autonomous vehicle development will continue, but with less hype. It’s being recognised as more an evolutionary process than a revolutionary one. The increasing cost of capital will also make it harder for autonomous vehicle startups to get development funds.</p> <p>The areas that appear to be making the best progress are autonomous ride-hailing and heavy vehicles. Self-driving car sales to the public are <a href="https://www.drive.com.au/news/level-4-self-driving-technology-mercedes-benz/">further down the track</a>.</p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-were-told-wed-be-riding-in-self-driving-cars-by-now-what-happened-to-the-promised-revolution-201088" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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Jamie Lee Curtis on ageing in Hollywood

<p class="p1"><span class="s1">Hollywood star Jamie Lee Curtis has taken a swipe at society’s emphasis on youth, no more apparent than in her own industry.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The 59-year-old, visiting Sydney to promote new movie Halloween, the sequel to the 1978 horror classic of the same name, spoke of her dislike of the term “anti-ageing”.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">“The term anti-ageing makes me crazy, the amount of marketing towards anti-ageing and making it a pejorative,” Curtis told <em><a href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/entertainment/sydney-confidential/actor-jamie-lee-curtis-on-why-the-term-antiageing-makes-her-angry/news-story/eec877ecef45fbb08670b1d872d2f8d5">The Daily Telegraph</a></em>.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">“(Ageing) cannot be the pejorative because it happens to everybody. It is like everything else, it is an evolution,” said the actor.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Curtis’ comments come at an apt time in her career. She has reprised her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who took on serial killer Michael Myers 40 years ago on Halloween. Decades on, her character, now a grandmother, is still deeply affected by their battle but is as strong as ever and more than ready for the next round.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The actress too, seems at the top of her game. The sequel is raking it in at the US box office, and not only is she a formidable performer in the film, but it was really Curtis doing many of the fight scenes too.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">“I am sitting here in my very nice red suit but this movie was obviously not a glamorous job and I am grateful that I get that opportunity,” she admitted to the publication. “Every fight is me.”</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">“I am fit but I am not a gym rat. It is just what we do. It is the nature of the beast — it is physical and it is painful. I cracked a rib, that is what happens.”</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">But Curtis, the daughter of Janet Leigh – who memorably starred in another iconic horror Psycho – and matinee idol Tony Curtis, has previously acknowledged her “struggle with my own self-esteem” when it comes to her body. She says she’s found a way to deal with it.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">“So I have a big secret: I don’t look in the mirror,” Curtis told <em><a href="https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/entertainment/a22993869/jamie-lee-curtis-confidence-secrets/">Good Housekeeping</a></em> in a recent interview.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">“I’m a 60-year-old woman. I am not going to look the same as I used to, and I don’t want to be confronted by that every day! When I get out of the shower, I have a choice: I can dry myself off looking in the mirror, or I can dry myself off with my back to it. I turn my back to the mirror and I feel great!”</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The actress, who also counts children’s author, entrepreneur and budding screenwriter on her resume, has an inspiring message about chasing and realising creative passions saying she has “no time to waste”.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">“On the very clear passage of 50s to 60s, I have no time to waste,” said Curtis. “None. If you have creative ideas and you don’t bring them out into the world in some way before you go, that is a tragedy.”</span></p> <p class="p1"><em><span class="s1">Images: Getty</span></em></p>

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