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Why Do Social Networks Increase Stress?

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It’s hard to remember life before social media. How did we ever know what our distant, high school friends’ kids looked like? Or what they cooked their family for dinner? Or the fabulous places they visited on their seemingly-bi-monthly tropical vacations?

Although Facebook and Twitter feel almost ubiquitous today, according to the Pew Foundation, only 60 percent of Americans belong to a social network (For the record, our data says 61 percent but we’ll defer to Pew). Shockingly, that means well over one-third of people in the U.S. may never see a picture of their niece’s swimming trophy or know if that guy they met at the conference is nearing his two-year job anniversary.

But, are the 40 percent of Americans who are un-networked really worse off? Are the active tweeters and status updaters living a more enriched life or a more stressful one? We dug into our piles of data to shed some light on these questions.

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We quickly found that social network users are, in fact, 14 percent more likely than non-users to characterize their lives as at least “somewhat stressful.” Non-users, conversely, are 28 percent more likely than users to say their lives are “not at all” stressful. Clearly, there is a strong association between social media and stress, but why? I’m glad you asked.

Here are a couple possibilities:

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES

Like it or not, social media is one of the most prevalent ways people learn about new movies, music, fashion, books, or other products. Twenty-eight percent of people say their friends on social media influence the music they listen to, 36 percent the TV shows and movies they watch, and 36% the brands and products they buy.

All of this influence appears to correlate closely with stress. People who say social media influences the products they buy “a lot” are 45 percent more likely to say their lives are “very stressful.” Maybe we can’t afford all the fancy new products our friends are buying. Maybe we’re too busy to follow the trends in music or fashion. Whatever the reason, it’s evident that the more we pay attention to our friends’ activities, tastes, and possessions, the more stress we report in our lives.

KEEPING UP WITH YOUR “SELF”

There’s a secondary, if unconscious, effect of all this social media influence: We feel pressured to portray our ideal selves for everyone to see. When surveyed, 40 percent of social media users admitted they often post/share things to improve their image. Honestly, how often do you see someone check-in at Dollar General, boast about their job demotion, or post pictures of the frozen chicken nuggets they microwaved for their kids? Seldom, right? Instead, we tend to highlight the positive aspects of our lives and personalities, if only to compete with everyone else who is doing the same thing.

This need to measure and curate our social media persona has a strong association with stress. People who say they post things on Facebook or Twitter to improve their image are over 4.5 times more likely than other people to “always” feel stressed.

KEEPING UP WITH THE NSA

Maybe the lack of privacy and discretion in social media is driving up our stress levels. When nearly every part of our lives is only a cell-phone-camera-click away from being viral content, are we doomed to high anxiety? Our data suggests this is possible. For example:

  • Social network users who are “very concerned” about consumer privacy are 20 percent more likely to characterize their lives as “very stressful.”

  • 83 percent of people believe Facebook does the worst job of protecting their privacy, compared to 11 percent who say Google, and 6 percent who say Apple.

  • 69 percent of Facebook users do not believe the social network does enough to protect privacy.

  • 77 percent of Americans do NOT believe employers should be able to review Facebook profiles as part of the job application process (even though they do).

Obviously, most people with extreme privacy concerns never join social networks in the first place. That might just be too much anxiety for them to handle.

KEEPING UP WITH TECHNOLOGY

Finally, simply being “plugged in” all the time is a major stress-driver. Consider that 51 percent of U.S. adults admit to being addicted to their digital devices, which they use primarily to be connected to the rest of the world. These addicts are 32 percent more likely than non-addicts to consider their lives at least somewhat stressful. What’s more, social network users who are addicted to their digital devices are 76 percent more likely than average to say their lives are at least somewhat stressful.

KEEPING IT IN PERSPECTIVE

Using free services like Twitter or Facebook is a trade-off. We get to keep in touch with friends and read some great content; but we lose a lot of discretion and privacy as a result. We just need to keep it in perspective. Remember the earlier stat that 40% of people post things to improve their image? When asked the question differently, 77% of people (almost 2X more) believe that their friends DO post things to improve their image. You know your friends’ lives aren’t any more perfect than yours, so don’t let it stress you out. Put down your device every once in a while and enjoy the life you have.

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Health & Lifestyle

Effects of Hot baths on inflammation, glucose metabolism

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According to new research, a hot bath could have effects that extend way beyond mental relaxation. According to the authors, regular hot baths might reduce inflammation and improve metabolism.

Over recent years, hot baths, saunas, and other so-called passive heating therapies have received growing attention from scientists.

Scientists now believe they offer some potential benefits, including improved vascular function and sleep.

Because hot baths are low cost and unlikely to cause significant side effects, understanding any benefits that a hot bath might have could be a quick win for medical science.



Recently, researchers set out to understand whether hot bath immersion could have an impact on metabolic disorders, such as diabetes.

 Almost 20 years ago, a paper concluded that hot water immersion of individuals with type 2 diabetes enhanced insulin sensitivity. However, it is still unclear how this might occur.

In the most recent study, the researchers dug a little deeper into the mechanisms at work. They theorized that the influence of a hot bath over glucose metabolism might revolve around the inflammatory response.

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Inflammation and insulin resistance

There is some evidence that chronic, low-level inflammation increases insulin resistance. In other words, inflammation reduces a cell’s ability to respond to insulin, potentially contributing to the development of diabetes.

Conversely, exercise has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity — meaning that the body has better control over glucose levels.

Although doctors often recommend exercise to reduce the risk of developing metabolic disorders, not everyone can exercise — perhaps due to health conditions or physical capacity. It is, therefore, essential to find alternative ways to improve insulin sensitivity for these people.

Exercise, as with other physical stressors, sparks a brief inflammatory response, followed by a more extended anti-inflammatory response. The researchers wanted to see if a different type of physical stressor — a hot bath — might have a similar effect on the immune system.

For this study, the researchers investigated the impact of a hot bath on overweight, mostly sedentary men. The findings were published recently in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

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Hot bath intervention

Each participant immersed themselves in a water bath set at 102°F (39°C) for 1 hour. Scientists took blood just before and after the bath, and then 2 hours later.

Also, the researchers charted the participants’ blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate every 15 minutes.

 Over the following 2 weeks, the participants had a further 10 hot water immersions.

The researchers found that a single hot water immersion caused a spike of interleukin — a marker of inflammation. Similarly, there was an increase in nitric oxide (NO) production.

The spike in NO is important because it causes blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure. NO also improves glucose intake into tissues, and scientists think it has anti-inflammatory properties.



As expected, the 2-week intervention saw a reduction in fasting blood sugar and inflammation. In the same way that exercise influences inflammation, the researchers saw an initial increase followed by a long-term decrease in inflammation.

The researchers also write that it “might have implications for improving metabolic health in populations unable to meet the current physical activity recommendations.”

It is important to note that the people who took part in the study did report some discomfort. This was either due to the length of time that they were required to stay in the bath or the high temperature. Future research might investigate whether shorter periods or lower temperatures might have similar benefits.

Of course, hot baths alone cannot treat metabolic disorders, but they may be a simple, cost-effective intervention that can run alongside other treatments.

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Health & Lifestyle

Experts recommend natural remedies to Diabetes.

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Medical practitioners have recommended some natural remedies that could curb the increasing rate of diabetes in the country.

The practitioners offered the remedies in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

They spoke against the backdrop of this year’s World Diabetes Day, which is celebrated globally on November 14.



The practitioners said the awareness had become imperative because diabetes is a condition that impairs the body’s ability to process blood glucose.

“Diabetes usually is prevalent in middle aged and older adults but now becoming common in children. Adults are still at the highest risk than children,’’ Dr. Iorwuese Charles told NAN on phone.

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He said that diabetes has to do with an increase sugar level in the blood caused by an absolute deficiency of insulin that affects one out of three adults.

Charles, a medical practitioner at Police Hospital Ado, Ekiti State, said that diabetes is a group of diseases that usually ends up in too much amount of sugar in the blood.

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He advised families to always maintain good lifestyle habits to curb diabetes in their homes.

Charles said the symptoms in diabetes include increased frequency of urination, increase thirst, dry mouth, increase in eating with weight loss.

Other signs, he said, are: “Blurring of vision, tiredness, fatigue, mood swings, irritability, frequent urination at night and headaches.”

According to him, the symptoms of diabetes are endless with no permanent cure but with proper maintenance one could live a healthy life.

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