The Hartman Group, a market research firm which over the past 30 years has focused on food culture, made a pretty startling discovery in their latest study on health and wellness. For the first time ever, anxiety and stress were the biggest concerns of people, versus obesity or other more traditional “wellness” issues.
It is more important than ever that we start working on reducing stress, anxiety, and build up social support and physical practices.
I feel almost hypocritical writing this as I’m currently suffering from a stiff neck due to a combination of a bad pillow and stress (mostly stress). However, I think it’s important to share this data and point out the fact that this is a wide-spread issue, because we often feel so ALONE in our stress and anxiety; we have this sense that because we brought it on ourselves we need to suffer by ourselves. Stress, anxiety, and depression also make us want to turn inward and feel more lonely.
But it’s NOT our fault, and NOT something we should bear alone. First, anxiety or depression comes from two places – 1) our serotonin receptors are misfiring (not our fault), and/or 2) isolation and feeling overwhelmed, which is the PERFECT time to ask for social support!
Let’s break the cycle! How? As the Hartman article points out, exercise is a great option! Exposure to nature and natural serotonin regulation, not to mention building muscles and clearing your brain both figuratively and literally, as exercise as been shown to reduce the senile plaque that builds up in our brains as we age and is connected to dementia. Also creative endeavors and sleep are hugely helpful.
What things inspire you? Tell me in the comments below.
I heard an interesting story on NPR today: the increase in doll therapy for patients with dementia:
Guzofsky, who has Alzheimer’s disease [pictured above], lives on a secure memory floor at a home for seniors in Beverly Hills, Calif. She visits the dolls in the home’s pretend nursery nearly every day. Sometimes Guzofsky changes their clothes or lays them down for a nap. One morning in August, she sings to them: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray.”
No one knows whether she believes she is holding a doll or a real baby. What the staff at Sunrise Senior Living do know is that Guzofsky, who can get agitated and aggressive, is always calm when caring for the dolls.
Doll therapy is catching on at nursing homes and other senior facilities across the country. It’s used to help ease anxiety among residents with dementia, who can experience personality changes, agitation and aggression. But the therapy is controversial.
Supporters say the dolls can lessen distress, improve communication and reduce the need for psychotropic medication. Critics say the dolls are demeaning and infantilize seniors.
I understand the concern that critics may find this kind of treatment demeaning to seniors who now need care to do basic everyday tasks.
However, let’s think of this as something else: Play Therapy.
It’s true that it can be hard to tell if the patients realize this is a toy doll or real baby. However this could potentially be very similar to a child’s imaginary play with dolls or an imaginary friend: kids know it’s pretend, but also get very invested in their pretend world, taking care of their babies, feeding them, changing them, snuggling them for comfort.
I also agree that the positive results – reduced stress, increased verbalization, and more – without the use of medication, make it worth more exploration rather than outright rejection because of its use of toys and play. Maybe the nay-sayers should give it a try.
A really fascinating read about improving air quality through design by architect Blaine Brownell:
During a study-abroad tour of China that I led in May and June through the University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture (read more about the trip here and here), one topic, aside from architecture, that my students and I discussed regularly was air pollution. Although we were in southern and central China, which are less affected than Beijing and other northern cities, we often found ourselves in a murky atmosphere. For three weeks, we rarely saw blue sky even on sunny days, and the air imparted a palpable thickness.
We checked the country’s Air Quality Index (AQI) daily via mobile app for the local forecast—especially after a bout of intense allergies sent me to a local pharmacist. This led us to question how we as architects and designers can counter such an ever-present problem.
Air pollution influences not only our physical health but also our experience of the built environment. Buildings and landscapes become soft and gritty, losing their clarity, sharpness, and color behind a veil of smog. The azure backdrop that is beloved in architectural representations is rarely witnessed. Rather, gray predominates, at times accompanied by brown. Despite this reality, blue sky persists in renderings of projects in China.
It’s not as silly as it sounds; in fact it’s genius!
Hospitals could improve patients’ quality of life, satisfaction and even health outcomes if they simply model adult hospitals after the ones designed for children, according to an opinion piece written by a fourth-year medical student in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.
Mark A. Attiah, who attends Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, writes in the piece, “Treat Me Like a Child,” that adult hospitals should take a page from pediatric facilities by creating surroundings that distract and reduce stress and making clinical practices more patient- and family-oriented rather than more convenient for caretakers.
Attiah was inspired to write the opinion piece after encounters with two pediatric patients during a rotation and another who transitioned into an adult hospital, according to an announcement about the editorial. The children’s hospital was bright, had longer visiting hours and allowed families to stay at the child’s bedside throughout the night. In addition, pediatric patients enjoyed the distractions of group activities, arts and crafts, and concerts. “If I ever get sick, I’d want to be taken here,” he writes.
Kid’s hospitals keep stuff light, upbeat, and optimistic. which is exactly what we need to get healthier, and want to go back to a particular hospital for our next ailment, since most hospitals care about that sort of thing.
I think I’ve talked about ALL of these tips individually on the blog before, so I’m thrilled that somebody combined them into a “Top 10 With Science!” post:
Happiness is so interesting, because we all have different ideas about what it is and how to get it. It’s also no surprise that it’s the Nr.1 value for Buffer’s culture, if you see our slidedeck about it. So naturally we are obsessed with it.
I would love to be happier, as I’m sure most people would, so I thought it would be interesting to find some ways to become a happier person that are actually backed up by science. Here are ten of the best ones I found.
Hospitals and medical device makers are coming to the conclusion that making medical spaces and medical practices more user-friendly and less scary leads to speedier recoveries, shorter hospital stays, and overall just good medicine.
One way to do that is to make the devices less scary, a la a Medi-Teddy. 🙂
The product is called Teddy the Guardian, a plushie installed with sensors that measure heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and temperature, and then relay that data via Bluetooth to a parent’s phone. The sensors are scattered around the bear’s body; pressing a finger to the bear’s paw, for instance, takes heart rate and oxygen levels.
The idea behind disguising medical tech as a lovable toy is to provide parents and pediatricians more accurate, consistent data points. When a child is stressed out about going to the doctor, his or her vital signs will be skewed. Taking data points when the child is in a neutral emotional state can give doctors a wealth of good information to compare against when something is wrong.
Of course, the bear is just as much a tool for keeping parents attuned to their child’s general well-being as it is a medical device. IDerma co-founder Josipa Majić said that for busy parents who don’t have as much time to connect with their kids, the data can show when their child’s day has been particularly stressful or problematic.
Later versions of Teddy will be equipped with sensors specific to different medical conditions, Majić said. Blood sugar level measurements for diabetic children, for instance.
This is such a great idea to keep kids calm and cooperative during boring and possibly uncomfortable medical procedures. Heck, I know a lot of adults that would probably like to use this.
I’ve previously written about making MRI machines less scary for kids by making them space or aquatic themed, and how a natural view out of a hospital window is correlated with speedier recoveries, but what other things have you seen hospitals do to make it more patient-friendly? Let me know in the comments below.
This is an ongoing project in Seattle of sprucing up vacant office or retail space with art. It’s a plus for the artists, the building managers since it brings attention to their space, and the passersby who are charging to and from work or tourists who stop and linger a little bit longer to view. Always love seeing updates on new projects by this group.
Storefronts Seattle is proud to announce the first two of three projects in the Belltown neighborhood!
One Pacific Tower, 2006 First Avenue, Belltown
Through June 2013
Ingrid Lahtitraditionally works in neon, but has branched out into illuminated lighting gels in her new installation at First and Virginia. Inspired by the saturated color in Matisse paintings and Chinese artwork, Ingrid views the illuminated window pieces as a study on the emotional effects of color and light, fitting seamlessly into the vibrant neighborhood in Belltown.
These installations glow brightly at night, adding to the street-level nightlife of Belltown and kicking off a summer in Seattle with a burst of color.
Chris Papa 2505 Second Avenue
Through June 2013
Chris Papa, a local printmaker and sculptor, has installed 5 sculptures at Second and Wall, featuring playful sewn wood sculptures conflating art, craft, and architecture. Interested in the…
Happy Friday! After a looooong work week, here’s a little more incentive to make sure you get some time to play this weekend.
[Okay, fine, for all of you who are too “busy” to read the article, here’s a basic breakdown: you need free play in order to recover from stress, and that if we don’t we’re basically setting ourselves up for early brain deterioration and death.
Now will you take a second to read the article?] 🙂
“A playful brain is a more adaptive brain,” writes ethologist Sergio Pellis in The Playful Brain: Venturing to the Limits of Neuroscience. In his studies, he found that play-deprived rats fared worse in stressful situations.
In our own world filled with challenges ranging from cyber-warfare to infrastructure failure, could self-directed play be the best way to prepare ourselves to face them?
In self-directed play, one structures and drives one’s own play. Self-directed play is experiential, voluntary, and guided by one’s curiosity. This is different from play that is guided by an adult or otherwise externally directed.