Stay Sane in Quarantine by Going Outside and Being Positive

birds

Many of us need to stay inside as much as possible to reduce the spread of COVID this winter, and with less sun and no end in sight of the pandemic staying positive can be hard. You can do it though!

We can learn from places that are cold and lack sunlight to see how they stay healthy both physically and mentally. In the Norwegian city of Tromsø they have some tips and tricks that we can all use.

But Tromsø regularly reports fewer cases of seasonal affective disorder per capita than much sunnier places. This recently piqued the interest of Kari Leibowitz, a health psychologist from Stanford University. She designed a survey called the “wintertime mindset scale,” which focused on Tromsø, plus two other Norwegian locales: Oslo, the nation’s capital, to the south, and Svalbard, home to one of the world largest populations of polar bears, to the north. Leibowitz asked locals a series of questions about the darkest days of the year, with particular emphasis on how the winter affected their mindset.

Leibowitz’s main takeaway from the study? The power of positive thinking. Norwegians employ techniques like “active coping,” “mental framing,” and “visualization” to get through tough winters. They’re still susceptible to anxiety and wind chill like everybody else, but they actively choose to view the polar night, and its surrounding months, as an opportunity. More northward Norwegians have more cause to embrace winter, because they’ve evolved to understand that they have no other choice. The most potent tool these locals have for getting through the winter isn’t hiding from it, but preparing for it, going out in it, naming it, seeing — with expectations kept low — if there might be some bright spots in all the darkness.

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Deleting Facebook Improves Your Health

teen computer

You’ve probably heard that Facebook is bad for you and shrugged it off thinking that it’s not a big deal. Turns out it is, and you really should get off of Facebook.

We all know how Facebook spies on use and profits from our secrets by selling our data. Tracking blockers and using privacy friendly browsers can help protect you from their spying.

It’s also now well known that Facebook harbours white nationalists and profits from cult-like groups (QAnon), and those too can be avoided. Facebooks real damage to your well being is more insidious than its attempt to promote radicalism and profiting from it. Facebook will make you feel awful because of what others post there.

The solution to make your life better: stop going to Facebook.

Is deleting your account too extreme? Start by limiting how often you go to the site, maybe just once a week or once a month. Definitely don’t post on the site.

“Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being,” the researchers wrote in a Harvard Business Review article. “These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year.” Yikes.

Why is too much Facebook bad for your emotional health? Previous research has shown that the social network creates a sort of false peer pressure. Since most people are cautious about posting negative or upsetting experiences on Facebook, the social network creates a misleading environment where everyone seems to be doing better and having more fun than you are. As the researchers put it, “Exposure to the carefully curated images from others’ lives leads to negative self-comparison.”

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Want to Help People Escape Crazy Conspiracies? Read This

fog

2020 witnessed the rise of an absolutely bonkers conspiracy theory based around some anonymous internet poster. You may know somebody who believes the illogical thoughts that led to the insurrection in Washington last week and are concerned for their mental well being. If you know somebody deep into illogical and self-defeating conspiracies please check out this article from last November in the Guardian (to be clear, some conspiracies are real).

Like with most problems facing the world right now we can solve it by better educating people and applying critical thinking skills.

Finally, some conspiracy theorists greatly exaggerate debates among experts themselves. Not all epidemiologists will agree on the best measures to reduce the spread of the virus, but this disagreement shouldn’t be used to justify the idea that the whole pandemic has been engineered by the government for some nefarious end.

The tobacco industry used these tactics to great effect in the 1970s, with adverts that quoted fake experts and rogue scientists who questioned the harms of smoking.

“It’s a really persuasive form of misinformation,” says Prof John Cook, an expert in “science denial” at George Mason University. Fortunately, he has found that educating people about the history of this common deceptive tactic can make people more sceptical of other fake experts at a later point.

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Stop Interrupting People to Lower Stress

happy workers in a factory

If you want to be a good boss please don’t interrupt your workers. If you are coworkers, please don’t interrupt each other. A recent study has shown that we physically react to stress in the workplace cause by interruptions. We can use this nugget of knowledge to create workplaces which don’t increase people’s stress by basically respecting one’s work time.

If you have had a bad boss, I’m sure you can relate to this. Let’s all remember to give people their space.

“Most research into workplace interruptions carried out to date focused only on their effect on performance and productivity. Our study shows for the first time that they also affect the level of cortisol a person releases, in other words they actually influence a person’s biological stress response.”

What surprised the researchers were participants’ subjective responses in terms of how they perceived psychological stress. They observed that participants in the second stress group, who were interrupted by chat messages, reported being less stressed and in a better mood than the participants in the first stress group, who didn’t have these interruptions. Interestingly, although the two groups rated the situation as equally challenging, the second group found it less threatening.

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Be More Successful by Practicing Self Awareness

Interview

Self awareness helps in many aspects of one’s life, from romance to learning new things; it can also help you be successful in your professional life too. Let’s be honest though, self awareness is hard and is something that needs to be practiced everyday. Over at Fast Company they put together a list of five things you can do to improve your self awareness and how it can help you in your work life.

2. REVIEW YOUR SUCCESSES AND FAILURES

Take stock of the times you were successful, as well as those you weren’t. What happened in each situation? What was different? If you were to do it again, what would you change? Keep note of these reflections to see if patterns emerge and what you can learn from and take action on.

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