Tag Archives: depression

JUST WEEKS AWAY – 6th INTERNATIONAL FIBROMYALGIA CONFERENCE 2015

If you have not booked for our 6th  international Fibromyalgia Conference on April 24/27 2015, at Chichester Park Hotel,  it is not too late but  do not waste time. We have a lot of interest. The hotline to book  0844 887 2512.

Once again the cost is as low as we can make it to enable folks to enjoy the education, research news, make new friends, as well as entertainment, fun and laughter. You will have a chance to talk to the speakers personally 1-2-1 – almost a private consultation as part of the conference weekend and you will be among folk who understand your aches and pains. It has been said, “Conference is a great educational and life changing experience”. We aim to please.

If finding the fee is a stumbling block, you could make payment by using your credit card. Why not add it to your Tesco shopping credit card  as a “lend” and pay off a little each month. Paypal will accept  credit cards with an additional 4% charge. If you need help with the process please ask.

When folks talk about fibromyalgia there are several symptoms most of us suffer and  live with. This includes pain 24/7, chronic fatigue, sleeplessness, cognitive behaviour, IBS, morning stiffness,  depression and many more. This conference our experts will be highlighting some of these symptoms. With a wide and varied programme around the main FM symptoms, we are aiming to help with interesting speakers from the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK.

Iris Weverman, a registered physiotherapist from Canada who specialises in FM, will talk  about chronic fatigue, stiffness and exercise  for fibromyalgia. In her second talk she will discuss trigger points versus tender points … not to be missed.

Dr. Nick Read,  a gastroenterologist psychoanalytical psychotherapist, human nutritionist, interested in FM, will talk about his active involvement in the IBS Network , and integrated medicine.  As a nutritionist we are hoping he will give us a recommended diet for those with IBS.

Andrew Pothecary, a specialist pharmacist in Rheumatology & Biologics at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, will be  lecturing at The Clinical Pharmacy Congress on the Future of Clinical Pharmacy in London on the Friday. As an old friend, he has agreed to stop over and talk to us on Saturday. We hope to learn more about the medications that our GPs prescribe for fibromites  pains.

Afifah Hamilton, MNIMH Cert Phyt ITEC, GAP practitioner and nutritionist, is an alternative medical practitioner who uses herbal remedies for wellbeing. Afifah is medically trained and a specialist in physical, psychological and conventional treatments with herbal options. She will be discussing sleeplessness  among other symptoms. If you are prone to too  many drugs, you should not miss this presentation.

An American lady with fibromyalgia and a great reputation, will be with us to talk about her commitment for FM. We hope she will include news of research, life with FM in the States and living with fibromyalgia. Jan Chambers is President of the USA National  Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association, founder of the Centre of Understanding, Research and Education of Fibromyalgia (CURE FM) and co-founder of the NFA Leaders Coalition, Executive Committee. Married for 35 years and the mother of 5 children, Jan has had a roller coaster ride with fibromyalgia since 2005. Her background really makes interesting reading and will save a lot of questions if you are coming to conference. This is a lady who commands my highest respect and I am honoured she has agreed to visit us. Try http://www.fmcpaware.org/jan-chambers. “I’ve got my life back, and I love every minute of it” she said.

Another interesting speaker with big claims is Philip Rafferty. Born in the UK he lives  in Australia and travels the world. A specialist in fibromyalgia, chronic pain and CFS he is a kinesiology ‘wizard’. He claims the corrections he teaches fibromites keeps them out of fight/flight/ freeze/survival. What he does he says is different to anything else. He  claims he achieves instant dramatic pain reduction. This I  must see!

We are again pleased to welcome Wes and John with the Benefits & Debt Clinic which will be operating Friday afternoon from 3.15pm. Look at their website – for debt and benefits http://frontlinedebtadvice.org.uk/ – you might find it interesting.

As usual there will also be other attractions. On Friday evening we have the film premier of the documentary movie made at FM Conference 2014. Called ‘Focus on Fibromyalgia’ it includes consultants’ comments as well as the views of those who live with this condition. Be sure to see the film as it is a movie you should not miss. Lasting 65 minutes, it is full of information and you will need to go back and back again to the film to see what you missed. Copies of the film will be available to purchase with a donation from sales  to fibro research.

THERE IS MORE

Jen Lee is back with us again for some light relief and with more Belly Dancing steps to learn. We hope to have all doctors on stage Sunday afternoon for discussions and questions. Do not forget the fun auction of wine and other gifts donated by delegates on Monday morning.

Simon Stuart, a leading member of the FibCon team, who works in the medical profession with the elderly, will be giving a talk about Alzheimers – a hot topic at present. You will also meet Nicki Southwell this time. A name some will know, Nicki has been working with Simon and I for several months as Assistant Co-ordinator. We were sorry to lose Teresa White towards the end of last year, due to her health problems. We understand she is on the mend but taking things slowly. We have a great team of helpers this year who will be wearing their pink badges and should be able to help delegates and answer questions.

To join us for some worthwhile education, fun, laughter,  email Simon Stuart at fibcon2015bookings@gmail.com to check availability and book or ring the HOT LINE 0844 887 2512  to book or email jeanne@follypogsfibro.org. to reserve a room and get a booking form.

This conference will be an action packed weekend as usual – Friday to Monday –from April 24th  to 27th  2015 at Chichester Park Hotel, plus evening entertainment, all included for £220 per person sharing double room – just £55 a day all found. This covers the cost of  food, accommodation,  the conference and entertainment. There are no single bookings now only a waiting list. The food is good and the staff are very helpful. The hotel has an indoor pool, jacuzzi, spa and some  exercise equipment for use of our visitors.

STOP PRESS –  We have been offered  a trial run of the new and exciting ActiPatch. We have a patch for each delegate to try.  If it works for you Boots sell the patches which  I believe is  a forerunner of a Electromagnetic Pulse Therapy device which provide 90 hours of 8 hour treatments (720 hours). We only have patches.

ActiPatch is said to be a highly effective therapy by chronic pain individuals and trials have increased purchases. This reflects the result of the reported benefits of clinically significant and sustained decreases in chronic pain, large improvements in quality of life, and decreases in the reliance of analgesic pain medications including opioid based drugs. We have had news from an American FM group where members used the patch and are excited about it. There is only have a limited number of patches for FM delegates only.

Finally it is worth mentioning the weekend conferences are sponsored by Folly Pogs Fibromyalgia Research. Every booking makes a contribution to fibromyalgia research and the raffle and other paid items contribute to FM research. No one gets paid except the bills. We survive under The Old Pal Act 1845. We beg and borrow to make ends meet.

There is always someone to  talk to at conference if you come alone. You will soon make new friends and meet others at our Friday ‘onesie’ meeting for those who are alone.

We hope it will be another smash hit conference with entertainment, fun and laughter with educational and helpful tips. For more information about this and the last conference  –  see http://fibromyalgiaconference.weebly.com. Hope to see you at conference. Jeanne

car anf flag 4

RESEARCH HINTS AT WHY STRESS IS MORE DEVASTATING FOR SOME

RESEARCH HINTS AT WHY STRESS IS MORE DEVASTATING FOR SOME

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 3-Sep-2014                 Source Newsroom: Rockefeller University

 

Newswise — Some people take stress in stride; others are done in by it. New research at Rockefeller University has identified the molecular mechanisms of this so-called stress gap in mice with very similar genetic backgrounds — a finding that could lead researchers to better understand the development of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression.

“Like people, each animal has unique experiences as it goes through its life. And we suspect that these life experiences can alter the expression of genes, and as a result, affect an animal’s susceptibility to stress,” says senior author Bruce McEwen, Alfred E. Mirsky Professor and head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology.

“We have taken an important step toward explaining the molecular origins of this stress gap by showing that inbred mice react differently to stress, with some developing behaviors that resemble anxiety and depression, and others remaining resilient.”

The results, published September 2 in Molecular Psychiatry, point toward potential new markers to aid the diagnosis of stress-related disorders, such as anxiety and depression, and a promising route to the development of new treatments for these devastating disorders.

In experiments, researchers stressed the mice by exposing them to daily, unpredictable bouts of cage tilting, altered dark-light cycles, confinement in tight spaces and other conditions mice dislike with the goal of reproducing the sort of stressful experiences thought to be a primary cause of depression in humans. Afterward, in tests to see if the mice displayed the rodent equivalent of anxiety and depression symptoms, they found about 40 per cent showed high levels of behaviours that included a preference for a dark compartment over a brightly lit one, or a loss of interest in sugar water. The remaining 60 per cent recovered well from the stress. This distinction between the susceptible mice and the resilient ones was so fundamental that it emerged even before the mice were subjected to stress; some unstressed mice showed an anxiety-like preference for a dark compartment over a lighted one.

The researchers found that the highly stress-susceptible mice had less of an important molecule known as mGlu2 in a stress-involved region of the brain known as the hippocampus. The mGlu2 decrease, they determined, resulted from an epigenetic change, which affects the expression of genes, in this case the gene that codes for mGlu2.

“If you think of the genetic code as words in a book, the book must be opened in order for you to read it. These epigenetic changes, which affect histone proteins associated with DNA, effectively close the book, so the code for mGlu2 cannot be read,” says first author Carla Nasca, a postdoc in the lab and a fellow of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Previously, she and colleagues implicated mGlu2 in depression when they showed that a promising potential treatment known as acetyl carnitine rapidly alleviated depression-like symptoms in rats and mice by reversing these epigenetic changes to mGlu2 and causing its levels to increase.

“Currently, depression is diagnosed only by its symptoms,” Nasca says. “But these results put us on track to discover molecular signatures in humans that may have the potential to serve as markers for certain types of depression. Our work could also lead to a new generation of rapidly acting antidepressants, such as the candidate acetyl carnitine, which would be particularly important to reduce the risk of suicide.”

A reduction in mGlu2 matters because this molecule regulates the neurotransmitter glutamate. While glutamate plays a crucial role relaying messages between neurons as part of many important processes, too much can lead to harmful structural changes in the brain.

“The brain is constantly changing. When stressful experiences lead to anxiety and depressive disorders the brain becomes locked in a state it cannot spontaneously escape,” McEwen says.

“Studies like this one are increasingly focusing on the regulation of glutamate as an underlying mechanism in depression and, we hope, opening promising new avenues for the diagnosis and treatment of this devastating disorder.”

The Hope for Depression Research Foundation and the American Society for Suicide Prevention sponsored this research.

 

REACTING TO PERSONAL SETBACKS: DO YOU BOUNCE BACK OR GIVE UP?

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Embargoed: 4-Sep-2014        Citations Neuron 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.012Source Newsroom: Rutgers University

 

Newswise — Sometimes when people get upsetting news – such as a failing exam grade or a negative job review – they decide instantly to do better the next time. In other situations that are equally disappointing, the same people may feel inclined to just give up.

How can similar setbacks produce such different reactions? It may come down to how much control we feel we have over what happened, according to new research from Rutgers University-Newark. The study, published in the journal Neuron, also finds that when these setbacks occur, the level of control we perceive may even determine which of two distinct parts of the brain will handle the crisis.

“Think of the student who failed an exam,” says Jamil Bhanji, a postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers and one of the study’s co-authors.

“They might feel they would not have failed if they had studied harder, studied differently – something under their control.” That student, Bhanji says, resolves to try new study habits and work hard toward acing the next exam. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) used in the study showed activity in a part of the brain called the ventral striatum – which has been shown to guide goals based on prior experiences.

A different student might have failed the same test, but believes it happened because the questions were unfair or the professor was mean, things that he could not control. The negative emotions produced by this uncontrollable setback may cause the student to drop the course.

Overcoming those negative emotions and refocusing on doing well in the class may require a more complicated thought process. In cases like this, fMRI revealed that activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), a part of the brain that regulates emotions in more flexible ways, is necessary to promote persistence.

Mauricio Delgado, an associate professor of psychology at Rutgers’ Newark College of Arts and Sciences and the study’s other co-author, says people whose jobs include delivering bad news should pay attention to these results, because their actions might influence how the news is received.

“You may deliver the news to the student – no sugar coating, here’s your setback,” says Delgado. “But then you make an offer – ‘would you like to review those study habits with me? I would be happy to do it.’ This puts the student in a situation where they may experience control and be more likely to improve the next time.” This approach, Delgado says, may be far more constructive than curtly delivering a bad grade.

Bhanji says lessons from the study may even guide certain people toward giving up too soon on careers where they could do well. “We wonder why there are fewer women and minorities in the sciences, for example,” he explains.

“Maybe in cases like that it is fair to say there are things we can do to promote reactions to negative feedback that encourage persistence.”

That is not to say everyone should persist. “There are times,” Delgado adds, “when you should not be persistent with your goals. That is where the striatal system in the brain, which can be a source of more habitual responses, may be a detriment. You keep thinking ‘I can do it, I can do it.’ But maybe you should not do it. During these times, interpreting the setback more flexibly, via the vmPFC, may be more helpful.”

As research continues, adds Bhanji, important areas to explore will include “figuring out when it’s worth continuing to keep trying and when it is not.”

 

PROFESSORS PROVIDE MOST UPDATED INFORMATION ON ASPIRIN IN THE PREVENTION OF A FIRST HEART ATTACK

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 2-Sep-2014   Citations Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine    Source : Florida Atlantic University

 

Newswise — The first researcher in the world to discover that aspirin prevents a first attack, Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., Dr.P.H., the first Sir Richard Doll professor and senior academic advisor to the dean in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, has published a comprehensive review in the current issue of the journal Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine.

Hennekens and his coauthor James E. Dalen, M.D., M.P.H., executive director of the Weil Foundation and dean emeritus, University of Arizona College of Medicine, provide the most updated information on aspirin in the prevention of a first heart attack.

Hennekens also presented these findings from the article titled “Aspirin in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: Current Knowledge and Future Research Needs,” on Saturday, Aug. 30 at a “Meet the Experts” lecture at the European Society of Cardiology meetings in Barcelona, Spain. Serving as chair of a symposium on Sunday, Aug. 31, he also delivered a lecture on “Evolving Concepts in Cardiovascular Prevention: Aspirin Then and Now.”

In the article, Hennekens and Dalen emphasize that the evidence in treatment indicates that all patients having a heart attack or who have survived a prior event should be given aspirin. In healthy individuals, however, they state that any decision to prescribe aspirin should be an individual clinical judgment by the healthcare provider that weighs the absolute benefit in reducing the risk of a first heart against the absolute risk of major bleeding.

“The crucial role of therapeutic lifestyle changes and other drugs of life saving benefit such as statins should be considered with aspirin as an adjunct, not alternative,” said Hennekens. “The benefits of statins and aspirin are, at the very least, additive. The more widespread and appropriate use of aspirin in primary prevention is particularly attractive, especially in developing countries where cardiovascular disease is emerging as the leading cause of death.”

Hennekens also notes that aspirin is generally widely available over the counter and is extremely inexpensive. He cautions, however, that more evidence is necessary in intermediate risk subjects before general guidelines should be made.

Among the numerous honors and recognition Hennekens has received include the 2013 Fries Prize for Improving Health for his seminal contributions to the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease, the 2013 Presidential Award from his alma mater, Queens College for his distinguished contributions to society, the 2013 honoree as part of FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine from the American Heart Association for reducing deaths from heart attacks and strokes, and the 2014 honoree from the Ochsner Foundation for his seminal research on smoking and disease.

From 1995 to 2005, Science Watch ranked Hennekens as the third most widely cited medical researcher in the world and five of the top 20 were his former trainees and/or fellows. In 2012, Science Heroes ranked Hennekens No. 81 in the history of the world for having saved more than 1.1 million lives.

– FAU –

About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship..

Back soon. Jeanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROLONGED SITTING CALLED ‘NEW PUBLIC HEALTH ENEMY’

PROLONGED SITTING CALLED ‘NEW PUBLIC HEALTH ENEMY’

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton

Posted on July 7, 2014 by Stone Hearth News

 

Almost three quarters of older people sit for more than 8 hours a day, leading to increased risk of obesity, depression and even death.

Now a landmark study, led by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), will develop techniques to help older people get out their chairs, improving their physical and mental health.

Professor Dawn Skelton, expert in Ageing and Health, will lead a multi-disciplinary team of more than 15 academics from five UK universities, funded by the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing programme.

She said: “Long periods of sitting are associated with a bigger waist, depression and social isolation, even an increased risk of death. These associations appear to be strong even if people are active in other parts of their day. It seems that prolonged sitting is the new ‘public health enemy’, but this study will look at how we can change that behaviour.

“Our whole culture is ‘to care’ for our older population and encourage them to sit down. Nursing home residents spend most of their day sitting and chairs in hospital patients encouraged to sit.  We have known about the dangers of bed rest to bone and muscle for many years, so we should not be encouraging prolonged sitting.”

Researchers have already discovered that people say they sit for shorter periods than they actually do. A key part of the study will see the team unravelling the reasons behind this.

The team, including researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and Salford, will look at how National Health Surveys – one of the main ways the health service and government works out how healthy the population is – can better capture the length of time people sit for.

To do this they will compare self-reporting with monitors fitted to the body that objectively record the amount of time spent during the day.

Prolonged Sitting

The team will also interview older people about what are they doing while sitting and during which parts of their day might they be willing to get up and be more active.

The scientists will work with two groups of older people, one from the west of Scotland and one from the east, both born in the 1930s. The two groups have engaged with studies in the past, meaning historical data such as blood samples, medical diagnoses, education and brain scans can be investigated to see how they are related to the amount of time the group spend sitting.

The study also aims to discover how older people themselves think it is best to break up long periods of sitting.

Professor Skelton added: “Not all sitting is bad. People need to rest and there are many potential reasons why people become sedentary. But we should aim to get up regularly, say every hour, and move about.

“Researchers are learning more and more about the effects of sitting on the body and mind and the results of our study will help us further understand how and when we could intervene to increase regular movement.”

PASSING THE TIME….

by Jeanne Hambleton 

As the years wear on sadly we get slower,  discover pains here and there, and when it when it rains we feel it in our bones. We  possibly spend a lot of time looking at the television.

May I just gently remind you of the old saying, “use it or lose it”. We are talking about our brain power and your activities.

Had you thought about sorting out  all those lovely old photographs  in the cupboard.  Maybe you could start a new album and perhaps add your memory notes about when this picture was taken. Do remember your grandchildren and family will look at these photographs in years to come and doubtless wonder who is that lady in the funny hat.

I am sure they would welcome a little added comment about when it was taken  and  names of those who are in the picture.  If you can keep them in order  relating to when they were taken, you can sort them in the year they were likely taken. You will  enjoy the happy memories while you are doing this.

You could turn out your wardrobe and look at some of those clothes that have  sentimental and happy memories but do not fit you any more. If you have  a sympathetic charity shop they might sell my three or four items making a little profit for them and some pocket money for you.  In my book charity shops should be charitable. Fine if folk can afford to give them clothes but it would be charitable if they could help “ladies in retirement” sell some items. You could almost start your own small clothes sales with support from a friend or family.

If you belong to a social club, talk to the other ladies and suggest a little sale. You can then swop or sell a few things. Do not  take  too much as it will be heavy to carry and  you can always organise another sale in  a few weeks.

A bit of gardening can be rewarding of the weather is good. Ask someone in your family to help yu with a raised garden bed.  Maybe a son in law might help with some old bricks and soil from elsewhere and you would avoid bending and making your back ache. .  Maybe plant a few veg seed or flowers.  It is rewarding and it will keep you out of mischief.  If you have grandchildren get them involved if they are old enough to do some weeding, or cut the grass.

Find those old family recipe books and try  a bit of old fashioned cooking. Pudding the corner with suet baked dumplins in a sea of nice mined meat, comes to mind. Apples dumplins with custard… I do not think you  can buy that in a  food store.

Maybe you fancy  baking some fairy cakes  and decorate with sweet to take to your social club. You can reward your grandchildren with your cakes for helping in the garden.

Why not start a food diary and mark up  a meal you really enjoyed to try it again.  You can also  make sure that your diet is nutritious and is providing all you need.

You might like doing jigsaw puzzles. You could find some second hand puzzles in the charity  shops.  When you have done one  you could be cheeky and take it back and ask if you can exchange it, as this one was too easy.  Some folks find this very rewarding and  will certainly help to sharpen your brain.

If you have a pack of cards in the house try patience –  – join through all the cards until you find the top card in all four series, and again through the cards to find the king, the the Queen and so on.  Turn the rio on and see if you can still do the waltz or even thequicksep. If you are talented you might be able to do a little tap dance in he kitchen on the tiles but take it careful. We do no want any accidents.

Crosswords in the  newspaper  or buy one of these civity books with dots,lines and questions. do a title every day to harpen your responses.

Of course there is always knitting, crocheting or sewing. In my house someone always wants a  button or badge for  Beavers and Cubs sewing on.  With three small grandsons in the house I have a lot of stitching ahead of  me.

You can always flick around with the feather duster o a sing along and a few gentle dance steps.I have got some dust if you are looking for some nd I bet a lot of folk would be please to see you with your feather duster.

Maybe you can borrow one of your grandchildren’s games and play with them. Scrabble would keep you on our toes.  If you can get your hands on a Tesco Hudl tablet, this would be a new adventure.  No you do not take it with water at bedtime.

I think techno tablets should be provided when you get your pension. Do you think thee is a chance UJIP might put this on their election manifesto  – that would be some reason to look forward to the election  in May 2015.

It is a new adventure and if you could borrow one from a grandchild and have a go, you could become addicted.  You can play games, get your groceries delivered to you door and send emails saving on the scandalous cost of postage.  You could send all your Christmas card for nothing.  It really is a new electronic world.  When  your family asks what you want for a birthday tell them to get together and get you a tablet. That will make them  take notice  of their “techo gran”.  You can then say, been there, done that, and now I want the tee shirt.

 The University of the Third Age – U3A.

Have you heard of the University of the Third Age (U3A)? This might be the answer you have been looking for.  The  University of the Third Age (U3A) movement is an unique and exciting organisation which provides, through its U3As, life-enhancing and life-changing opportunities. Retired and semi-retired people come together and learn together, not for qualifications but for its own reward: the sheer joy of discovery!

Members share their skills and life experiences: the learners teach and the teachers learn, and there is no distinction between them. (http://www.u3a.org.uk/).

Local U3As are learning cooperatives which draw upon the knowledge, experience and skills of their own members to organise and provide interest groups in accordance with the wishes of the membership. The teachers learn and the learners teach. Between them U3As offer the chance to study over 300 different subjects in such fields as art, languages, music, history, life sciences, philosophy, computing, crafts, photography and walking.  A typical U3A has about 250 members but could be as small as 12 and as large as 2000.

The U3A approach to learning is – learning for pleasure.  There is no accreditation or validation and there are no assessments or qualifications to be gained.

The U3A movement is supported by its national organisation, the Third Age Trust. This would certainly keep your brain active.  If you contact your local  council offices they traditionally have a list of  local organisations and should be able to tell you who to contact if you are interested.

If you decided to join the University of the Third Age I reckon you would be wanting a tablet for Christmas from the family.  No time to get bored  that is for sure.

 

DOING SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN DOING NOTHING FOR MOST PEOPLE, STUDY SHOWS 

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton

Embargo expired: 3-Jul-2014 2:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: University of Virginia

Newswise — Most people are just not comfortable in their own heads, according to a new psychological investigation led by the University of Virginia.

The investigation found that most would rather be doing something – possibly even hurting themselves – than doing nothing or sitting alone with their thoughts, said the researchers, whose findings will be published July 4 in the journal Science.

In a series of 11 studies, U.Va. psychologist Timothy Wilson and colleagues at U.Va. and Harvard University found that study participants from a range of ages generally did not enjoy spending even brief periods of time alone in a room with nothing to do but think, ponder or daydream. The participants, by and large, enjoyed much more doing external activities such as listening to music or using a smartphone. Some even preferred to give themselves mild electric shocks than to think.

“Those of us who enjoy some down time to just think likely find the results of this study surprising – I certainly do – but our study participants consistently demonstrated that they would rather have something to do than to have nothing other than their thoughts for even a fairly brief period of time,” Wilson said.

The period of time that Wilson and his colleagues asked participants to be alone with their thoughts ranged from six to 15 minutes. Many of the first studies involved college student participants, most of whom reported that this “thinking period” was not very enjoyable and that it was hard to concentrate. So Wilson conducted another study with participants from a broad selection of backgrounds, ranging in age from 18 to 77, and found essentially the same results.

“That was surprising – that even older people did not show any particular fondness for being alone thinking,” Wilson said.

He does not necessarily attribute this to the fast pace of modern society, or the prevalence of readily available electronic devices, such as smartphones. Instead, he thinks the devices might be a response to people’s desire to always have something to do.

In his paper, Wilson notes that broad surveys have shown that people generally prefer not to disengage from the world, and, when they do, they do not particularly enjoy it. Based on these surveys, Americans spent their time watching television, socializing or reading, and actually spent little or no time “relaxing or thinking.”

During several of Wilson’s experiments, participants were asked to sit alone in an unadorned room at a laboratory with no cell phone, reading materials or writing implements, and to spend six to 15 minutes – depending on the study – entertaining themselves with their thoughts. Afterward, they answered questions about how much they enjoyed the experience and if they had difficulty concentrating, among other questions.

Most reported they found it difficult to concentrate and that their minds wandered, though nothing was competing for their attention. On average the participants did not enjoy the experience. A similar result was found in further studies when the participants were allowed to spend time alone with their thoughts in their homes.

“We found that about a third admitted that they had ‘cheated’ at home by engaging in some activity, such as listening to music or using a cell phone, or leaving their chair,” Wilson said. “And they did not enjoy this experience any more at home than at the lab.”

An additional experiment randomly assigned participants to spend time with their thoughts or the same amount of time doing an external activity, such as reading or listening to music, but not to communicate with others. Those who did the external activities reported that they enjoyed themselves much more than those asked to just think, that they found it easier to concentrate and that their minds wandered less.

The researchers took their studies further. Because most people prefer having something to do rather than just thinking, they then asked, “Would they rather do an unpleasant activity than no activity at all?”

The results show that many would. Participants were given the same circumstances as most of the previous studies, with the added option of also administering a mild electric shock to themselves by pressing a button.

Twelve of 18 men in the study gave themselves at least one electric shock during the study’s 15-minute “thinking” period. By comparison, six of 24 females shocked themselves. All of these participants had received a sample of the shock and reported that they would pay to avoid being shocked again.

“What is striking,” the investigators write, “is that simply being alone with their own thoughts for 15 minutes was apparently so aversive that it drove many participants to self-administer an electric shock that they had earlier said they would pay to avoid.”

Wilson and his team note that men tend to seek “sensations” more than women, which may explain why 67 percent of men self-administered shocks to the 25 percent of women who did.

Wilson said that he and his colleagues are still working on the exact reasons why people find it difficult to be alone with their own thoughts. Everyone enjoys daydreaming or fantasizing at times, he said, but these kinds of thinking may be most enjoyable when they happen spontaneously, and are more difficult to do on command.

“The mind is designed to engage with the world,” he said. “Even when we are by ourselves, our focus usually is on the outside world. And without training in meditation or thought-control techniques, which still are difficult, most people would prefer to engage in external activities.”

See you tomorrow Jeanne