3 things you already have in your house that are good for your mental health
You can incorporate these science-backed activities into your evening routine tonight.
It's getting dark earlier now, as we head towards the crisp snap of November air. Days at work, as a result, can feel longer: You're leaving the office and it's already nearly nighttime. Those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder begin to experience the effects during the fall, according to the Mayo Clinic. And even if you don't have SAD, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed this time of year, as we begin to think about the holidays ahead. Luckily, science shows us that there are things we can do right in our own homes to increase our happiness and well-being.
These relaxing activities, backed by research, can turn a stressful day into a calm night with minimal time and effort. They utilize common household amenities and take place around the house, too — you can use one of these ideas (or all of them) tonight.
Take a hot bath
This may sound like a familiar recommendation — but it's now backed by science. A small new study by researchers at the University of Freiburg found that a hot afternoon bath just twice a week had a significant, positive effect on depressive symptoms in study participants. The onset of that symptom relief was quicker than the relief provided by a control group, at two weeks compared to eight. The reason for the effect, the study authors postulate, is that a warm bath helps increase core temperature and thus synchronizes circadian rhythm, a struggle for some depression sufferers. Even if you can't follow the study's procedure and get home to bathe in the afternoon, try to take your bath as soon as you get home from work: The study explains that our best sleep happens when core body temperature is low, so practicing circadian-rhythm synchronizing through the heat of the tub is better done farther away from bedtime.
Throw some lavender essential oil in your bath
When I couldn't sleep as a child, my mom used to sprinkle a few drops of lavender oil on my pillow — it would, she said, help me relax. The idea, which she brought across the Atlantic from Eastern Europe, isn't unique to my family: lavender pillows and candles abound. Science, this week, has caught up with the popular appeal and relaxing association many of us have with the herb: a new studyreveals that smelling vaporized lavender, or more specifically, the compound linaloo that it contains, has a calming effect. There are plenty of ways to harness this research to help achieve maximum evening relaxation, including my mother's trick of lavender essential oil on your pillow, but a great option is also putting some drops of the oil in your bath — why not double up your benefits?
Listen to the Song "Weightless" by Marconi Union
While research has shown that listening to music in general can have mental health benefits, there's one song that can reduce stress by up to 65 percent, according to reporting by Melanie Curtin. The song was actually formulated with this relaxing effect in mind, through consultation between the band Marconi Union and sound therapists. So queue it up during your lavender-scented bath and enjoy: warm, fragrant, and serenaded, you may find yourself reaching maximum relaxation.
To create wiser adults, add empathy to the school curriculum.
- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now
To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.
The future of education and work will rely on teaching students deeper problem-solving skills.
- Asking kids 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' is a question that used to make sense, says Jaime Casap. But it not longer does; the nature of automation and artificial intelligence means future jobs are likely to shift and reform many times over.
- Instead, educators should foster a culture of problem solving. Ask children: What problem do you want to solve? And what talents or passions do you have that can be the avenues by which you solve it?
- "[T]he future of education starts on Monday and then Tuesday and then Wednesday and it's constant and consistent and it's always growing, always improving, and if we create that culture I think that would bring us a long way," Casap says.
These Jurassic predators resorted to cannibalism when hit with hard times, according to a deliciously rare discovery.
- Rare fossil evidence of dinosaur cannibalism among the Allosaurus has been discovered.
- Scientists analyzed dinosaur bones found in the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in western Colorado, paying special attention to bite marks that were present on 2,368 of the bones.
- It's likely that the predatory carnivore only ate their already-dead peers during times when resources were scarce.
As a doctor, I am reminded every day of the fragility of the human body, how closely mortality lurks just around the corner.