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15 minutes of solitude "deactivates" your stress, researchers find
Boredom has benefits. New research finds that device-free solitude deactivates high arousal emotions while reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
If you want to know the state of a nation, we generally look no further than online. A proper portrait, that does not yield. Look, instead, at the line in front of you, waiting for a cappuccino or to pay for groceries. Look into the cars surrounding you at a red light. Look around anywhere in the public space, except at your phone. Then you’ll get a sense of where our heads are at.
Our heads are down, perpetually angled at the screen, whenever a moment of potential boredom arises. Waiting for a meal? Barista taking too long? Or even the proper amount of time—those 30 seconds are crushingly dull. Caffeine is a secondary stimulation, a little jolt to turn your attention so that it can immediately be pulled into the innumerable waves of inattention on Instagram.
Where did boredom go? What happens when we stop allowing ourselves the habit of staring into space, letting our minds wander? Instead of a deluge of constant information, can we, as Michael Harris writes in The End of Absence, “engineer scarcity in our communications, in our interactions, and in the things we consume?”
Research recently published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that might be a good thing. According to lead researcher Thuy-vy Nguyen at the University of Rochester, 15 minutes of device-free solitude deactivates high arousal emotions while reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Boredom has benefits.
Maybe solitude just needs rebranding. As the research team writes, it is often related to social rejection, withdrawal, and isolation, with being shy and lonely. Why suffer any of these fates when a friend can beckon you from your pocket? Yet, ironically, being virtually connected triggers many of these very conditions. We never feel so lonely as when engulfed by our virtual friends.
To set the stage in the four studies included in this research, the team writes:
We operationalized solitude as an experience of being alone without any communication with others, without any other activities, and without other types of active stimuli present. We then examined how having other people present, doing activities such as reading, or thinking particular kinds of thoughts might affect people’s experiences of being alone.
The four experiments: comparing solitude with social interactions; comparing solitude with being alone during an activity, like reading; comparing solitude with being alone thinking certain types of thoughts; understanding how daily solitude impacts affective experiences by utilizing diary data.
In the first study 75 students sat by themselves in a comfortable chair, while the control group of 39 students talked to a research assistant. Each group was handed a questionnaire before and after the session. Solitary individuals showed a “deactivation effect.” Both positive and negative emotions were reduced. Follow-up experiments showed similar deactivation results:
It seems solitude doesn’t have a simple emotional effect that can be caricatured as good or bad; rather, it changes the intensity of our inner experience, both positive and negative: accentuating low-key emotions, while dialing down our stronger feelings.
The same occurred with the groups that were asked to jot down evening diary entries for two weeks. Those writing after a device-free 15 minutes showed a reduction in positive and negative emotions.
Is this necessarily a good thing? Not if you think reducing positive emotions is beneficial. Yet it would be interesting to know the levels of contentment that followed these boredom sessions. Did the calmness and reduced stress make the students more at ease? Is feeling content in the moment better than being joyous? It is an arguable point, considering the superfluous nature of emotions and the stability of a disciplined contentment.
The real value here appears to be affective control. Instead of being carried away by emotional responses—something the Internet, at times, seems designed for—the students who spent time alone were better able to decide how to respond to stimulation. As the team writes:
The set of studies thus suggested that people can use solitude, or other variations on being alone, to regulate their affective states, becoming quiet after excitement, calm after an angry episode, or centered and peaceful when desired.
We all need breaks from arousal, not only when sleeping. Being constantly stimulated keeps us on edge throughout our day and even affects our unconscious hours. Allowing breaks for boredom, for being alone with our thoughts, is a helpful ally to combat life’s stresses. Regulation is worth the price of deactivation. It is then we see transience clearly, better equipped to deal with the rigors of our inner terrain. In the words of the researchers:
It is clear that solitude can play a role in the self-regulation of affective experiences, and it also appears to be the case that having positive thoughts and making choices or being volitional in solitude can enhance people’s positive experiences.
Derek is the author of Whole Motion: Training Your Brain and Body For Optimal Health. Based in Los Angeles, he is working on a new book about spiritual consumerism. Stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.