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Feeling frustrated? How and why the new year can be a time of positive change

If you find yourself feeling frustrated right now, then there are some changes you can make for the better.

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There comes a time in all of our lives where we can feel frustrated with the way things are going. Perhaps you have taken a direction in life and wonder where you might end up? Maybe you don’t like the career you find yourself in, the area you live, there’s something about your appearance knowing your confidence or simply you just don’t know what the next few years are going to bring. Often uncertainty can be seen in two ways, you are either excited about the adventure, or terrified of the prospect of what next. All of these feelings and thoughts are normal.

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But if you find yourself feeling frustrated right now, then there are some changes you can make for the better. Often when we feel frustrated the last thing we want to do is take steps for change, but the change can be the way to feeling better and also start us on a new path of self development, discovery and a positive approach to life. With the new year here, it is the perfect time to make some positive changes, set yourself goals and resolutions that will help enrich your life. So what can you do now? Here are some suggestions to help you get started. 

Create actions for the near future 

Sometimes the reason we feel this way is because we just can’t see past our current situations. This is when setting goals and considering what you want from life would be a great action to take. However, while it is amazing to think long term you may also want to take the time to think about the near future. Changes that could be made right now, things that could benefit you and goals that could be worked towards now. There are plenty of blog posts out there that could offer some inspiration for this. If doing this sounds overwhelming, then break it down a little. Look at your career, your relationship, what you do in your spare time, and the things you might want to do. Look at these areas and make some smaller goals to work towards. 

Are there physical changes you want to make?

In some cases, it can be our confidence that takes a knock, and this can be put down to the way we feel about our physical appearance or our personalities. It might be that you want to set small goals like a change of hair style, or maybe take action in other areas such as getting a brighter smile, changing your makeup routine or stepping out of your comfort zone when it comes to the clothes that you wear. In many cases it can be these changes that help us to feel more confidence in our physical appearance, which in turn can have a positive impact on our mental wellbeing and some of the other actions that we take in life. Are there things that you can control and change? What is holding you back?

Change your mindset for the better

Your mindset is a big part of how you feel, and if things seem a little negative it could be down to your mindset. So putting some focus on how you think is a great way to develop more positive habits when it comes to your thought process. Thinking positively means that other aspects of your life can be affected. It may feel forced at first, but a great tip is to stick with it and ensure that you develop the right habits for your mindset. Which can ultimately help you feel better about the way your life is going. Frustrations can be negative, so a positive approach may help you work towards the goals you set. 

Is a change of career needed?

Maybe this is the perfect time of the year to start focusing on your career. Perhaps you don’t enjoy the job that you do and want to make some changes to it such as finding a new job or a complete career change. This can be a great time of the year to feel motivated to take on a change such as this. A career change may even involve you taking the plunge to work for yourself and perhaps start a business. Allowing you to get the work and home life balance you crave. Your job and livelihood can be a huge frustration in your life if you don’t enjoy what you are doing. So maybe now is the time to start making some changes.

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Your diet and exercise regime

January is often the time of year where people focus on their diet and their health, and this can be a big frustration for you, especially if you have over indulged in the festive period. But, don’t be tempted to follow some unsustainable diet or try and exercise every day. Often we can set ourselves unrealistic goals in this area of our lives, which means that we are likely to not be able to keep up with it. Which causes more frustration as you feel bad about yourself. Instead, why not make small changes? It could be that you give up alcohol or sugary treats. It could be that you just increase the intake of fruit and vegetables in your diet. Maybe exercise for you is more about being active each day. Make small changes and the bigger changes will start following, helping you to feel better about yourself. 

It might be as simple as changing your lifestyle

Finally, it may be as simple as changing your lifestyle for the better. The food that you eat and the exercise that you take can make a big difference to how you feel in life. Frustrations can be caused by how you feel, and so making some physical changes that can make a more positive difference. Certain foods you eat or eating a more balanced diet can give you more energy, and even though exercise can be hard to handle there is no denying the great feelings you have once you are done. You don’t need to go to extremes, but taking better care of yourself could make a world of difference. 

Let’s hope that some of these positive actions help you to feel less frustrated in life.

Health & Wellness

Hedonism can lead to happiness

Of course self-control is important, but research on self-regulation should pay just as much attention to hedonism, or short-term pleasure. That’s because new research shows that people’s capacity to experience pleasure or enjoyment contributes at least as much to a happy and satisfied life as successful self-control.

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Relaxing on the sofa or savoring a delicious meal: Enjoying short-term pleasurable activities that don’t lead to long-term goals contributes at least as much to a happy life as self-control, according to new research from the University of Zurich and Radboud University in the Netherlands. The researchers therefore argue for a greater appreciation of hedonism in psychology.

We all set ourselves long-term goals from time to time, such as finally getting into shape, eating less sugar or learning a foreign language. Research has devoted much time to finding out how we can reach these goals more effectively. The prevailing view is that self-control helps us prioritize long-term goals over momentary pleasure and that if you are good at self-control, this will usually result in a happier and more successful life.

“It’s time for a rethink,” says Katharina Bernecker, researcher in motivational psychology at the University of Zurich. “Of course self-control is important, but research on self-regulation should pay just as much attention to hedonism, or short-term pleasure.”

That’s because Bernecker’s new research shows that people’s capacity to experience pleasure or enjoyment contributes at least as much to a happy and satisfied life as successful self-control.

Distraction disrupts pleasure

Bernecker and her colleague Daniela Becker of Radboud University developed a questionnaire to measure respondents’ capacity for hedonism, i.e. their ability to focus on their immediate needs and indulge in and enjoy short-term pleasures. They used the questionnaire to find out whether people differ in their capacity to pursue hedonic goals in a variety of contexts, and whether this ability is related to well-being.

They found that certain people get distracted by intrusive thoughts in moments of relaxation or enjoyment by thinking about activities or tasks that they should be doing instead. “For example, when lying on the couch you might keep thinking of the sport you are not doing,” says Becker. “Those thoughts about conflicting long-term goals undermine the immediate need to relax.” On the other hand, people who can fully enjoy themselves in those situations tend to have a higher sense of well-being in general, not only in the short term, and are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, among other things.

More isn’t always better

“The pursuit of hedonic and long-term goals needn’t be in conflict with one another,” says Bernecker. “Our research shows that both are important and can complement each other in achieving well-being and good health. It is important to find the right balance in everyday life.”

People’s capacity to experience pleasure or enjoyment contributes at least as much to a happy and satisfied life as successful self-control.

Unfortunately, simply sitting about more on the sofa, eating more good food and going to the pub with friends more often won’t automatically make for more happiness. “It was always thought that hedonism, as opposed to self-control, was the easier option,” says Bernecker. “But really enjoying one’s hedonic choice isn’t actually that simple for everybody because of those distracting thoughts.”

Conscious planning of downtime

This is currently a topical issue with more people working from home, as the environment where they normally rest is suddenly associated with work. “Thinking of the work you still need to do can lead to more distracting thoughts at home, making you less able to rest,” says Bernecker.

So what can you do to enjoy your downtime more? More research is needed, but the researchers suspect that consciously planning and setting limits to periods of enjoyment could help to separate them more clearly from other activities, allowing pleasure to take place more undisturbed.

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NEWSMAKERS

Research from Lenovo & Intel finds that tech could be great equalizer among different cultures

More than half of global respondents say that a company’s diversity and inclusion policies are “extremely” or “very” important when deciding where to apply and whether to accept an offer.

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The first chapter of a new global research report by Lenovo and Intel finds that technology will play an integral role in achieving diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace of the future.  With the power to bridge accessibility gaps, connect people who are otherwise divided, and expand the impact of upskilling and progressive training programs, tech already facilitates the ability to work in more dynamic, flexible ways than ever before.

The joint global study explores how people around the world view D&I in their personal and professional lives, and their perspective on the role technology plays to address systematic inequities, create more access, and enable growth.

“We know that when organizations prioritize diversity and inclusion, financial performance, innovation, and talent acquisition and retention flourish,” says Lenovo’s Yolanda Lee Conyers, Chief Diversity Officer and President of the Lenovo Foundation. “As the makers of devices that enable connectivity across cultural and geographic boundaries, tech companies like Lenovo have an obligation to ensure that products are created with diverse consumers in mind, and that can only be achieved with a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

“Intel has a long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion. We believe that transparency is key, and our goal is to see our representation mirror the markets and customers we serve. Just as we apply our engineering mindset to create the world’s leading technological innovations, we do the same with our D&I strategies, using data to inform our decisions and sharing it transparently to drive clear accountability and deliver results across the industry,” says Barbara Whye, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer and VP of Social Impact and Human Resources at Intel. “We know that to truly progress D&I, it takes companies working together and being a global company, this work can’t be limited to the US only. That’s why with both companies sharing a rich history of collaboration, we decided to extend our partnership and conduct a global survey.”

“We know that when organizations prioritize diversity and inclusion, financial performance, innovation, and talent acquisition and retention flourish.”

The findings within the technology chapter suggest that, if a more diverse and inclusive workplace is the goal, technology has the potential to get us there, as it facilitates human connection, understanding, and ultimately, empathy.

The study shows the potential of technology does not come without apprehension, though. Many respondents indicated they worry about whether technology, including AI, could potentially silence or leave behind those historically marginalized or underrepresented. Although participants expressed concerns over the harmful potential of AI, those in emerging markets are most optimistic, with more than 8-in-10 participants across Brazil and China agreeing that AI can be used to make the workplace more diverse and inclusive.

Lenovo and Intel’s Diversity and Inclusion in the Global Workplace study explores the attitudes of approximately 5,096 respondents across five key geographic markets of China, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Brazil between December 19, 2019 and January 7, 2020. This chapter focusing on the theme of technology is the first of four total installments. Additional chapters regarding “What Workers Want”, “Modern Mentorship”, and “D&I as a Workplace Trailblazer” are to be announced throughout the remainder of the year.

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Health & Wellness

Text messaging as the next gen of therapy in mental health

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many people’s schedules have been upended, which may prevent individuals with mental illness from having routine access to a therapist, such as parents who have children at home. Texting can bridge the gap.

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In the US alone, it is estimated that approximately 19 percent of all adults have a diagnosable mental illness. Clinic-based services for mental health may fall short of meeting patient needs for many reasons including limited hours, difficulty accessing care and cost.

In the first randomized controlled trial of its kind, a research team investigated the impact of a texting intervention as an add-on to a mental health treatment program versus one without texting. A text-messaging-based intervention can be a safe, clinically promising and feasible tool to augment care for people with serious mental illness, according to a new study published in Psychiatric Services.

Ninety-one percent of participants found the text-messaging acceptable, 94 percent indicated that it made them feel better and 87 percent said they would recommend it to a friend.

“This study is very exciting because we saw real improvement in those who utilized the text messaging-based intervention on top of normal care. This was true for individuals with some of the most serious forms of mental illness,” explained co-author, William J. Hudenko, a research assistant professor in the department of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth, and an adjunct assistant professor of clinical psychology in Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. “The results are promising, and we anticipate that people with less severe psychopathology may even do better with this type of mobile intervention.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many people’s schedules have been upended, which may prevent individuals with mental illness from having routine access to a therapist, such as parents who have children at home.

“Texting can help bridge this gap, by providing a means for mental health services to be continuously delivered. A text-messaging psychotherapy is an excellent match for the current environment, as it provides asynchronous contact with a mental health therapist while increasing the amount of contact that an individual can have,” explained Hudenko.

For the study, the research team examined the impact of text-messaging as an add-on to an assertive community treatment program versus the latter alone. Through an assertive community treatment program, those with serious mental illness have a designated team who helps them with life skills, such as finding a job and housing, managing medications, as well as providing daily, in-person clinic-based services. People with serious mental illness are likely though to experience symptoms each day for which they may need additional therapy.

The study was a three-month pilot, which was assessor blind. There were 49 participants: 62 percent had schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder, 24 percent had bipolar disorder and 14 percent had depression. Assessments were conducted at baseline, post-trial (three months later) and during a follow-up six months later.

A text-messaging psychotherapy is an excellent match for the current environment, as it provides asynchronous contact with a mental health therapist while increasing the amount of contact that an individual can have.

Licensed mental health clinicians served as the mobile interventionists. They received a standard training program on how to engage effectively and in a personal way with participants. The mobile interventionists were monitored on a weekly basis to ensure that they were adhering to the treatment protocol. Throughout the trial, over 12,000 messages were sent, and every message was encoded, monitored and discussed with a clinician.

The results demonstrated that 95 percent initiated the intervention and texted 69 percent of possible days with an average of four texts per day. On average, participants sent roughly 165 or more text messages and received 158 or more messages. The intervention was found to be safe, as there were zero adverse events reported.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Right rights: Is it fair for businesses to have rights?

Let’s take a look at the reasons behind business rights to give you an idea of how this all works. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a business can act exactly like a human.

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Since the earliest days of large-scale businesses, challenges have arisen when it comes to classifying these organizations. With many large companies being responsible for huge teams and contributing heavily to the economy, tying them closely to their owners can be a big mistake. This has led to companies receiving similar rights to those that individuals are afforded in many countries, but is this fair?

Let’s take a look at the reasons behind business rights to give you an idea of how this all works. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a business can act exactly like a human.

Why Do Businesses Have Rights?

The origins of business rights go right back to early industrial England. There had long been strict limits on how much money a business could spend, though this would rarely cause an issue, as the limits were high enough to never be a concern to most.

As businesses started to build revenues similar to their parent countries, though, their owners and managers needed to find a way to spend more money, and having their business registered as an entity similar to a person was the best way to do this. This has adapted over the last couple of centuries, with companies being given even more rights as time goes on.

What Rights Do Businesses Have?

Most of the rights that are giving to companies are simple and make a lot of sense. For example, companies have the right to own property and assets, making it possible for them to grow and expand. Alongside this, companies in the US have religious freedom, are allowed to trademark their own brand, and can borrow money and have their own credit rating.

The rights business has spread much further than this, with some arguing that companies have more rights than normal people. This doesn’t mean that they are treated unfairly, though; these rights are usually in place to solve complex problems that simply don’t apply to individuals.

How Can Business Rights Impact You?

It’s unlikely that the rights of business will ever impact you. If they do, it will usually be in your favor, with the company’s legal status as an entity making it possible for them to play roles in large transactions. You can find a good strawman argument example that illustrates how this works very nicely on DTSS. Alongside this, you may also see that companies are able to close down without their owners losing any money, as this is as a result of the company being seen as a completely separate entity. If you run your own business, these rights will impact you a lot more, making it much easier to handle issues surrounding your work.

With all of this in mind, you should have a much better understanding of the rights that businesses have. It’s always worth taking the time to understand issues like this, especially if you run your own company, as this could have a big impact on your work down the line.

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Health & Wellness

Frequent social media use influences depressive symptoms over time among LGBTQ youth

Social media use may foster a positive sense of self and a perception of being valued in a society or community, or it may do the opposite, which can affect adolescents’ psychological well-being. Youth with more negative emotional or psychological symptoms are at higher risk than their peers of developing problematic online engagement patterns in attempts to ease psychological distress, which can lead to problematic usage patterns for some.

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Frequent social media use can impact depressive symptoms over time for LGBTQ youth, according to research from a Washington State University communication professor.

Traci Gillig, an assistant professor in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, found that when LGBTQ adolescents attended a social media-free summer camp, they experienced a reduction in depressive symptoms, as outlined in her 2020 research “Longitudinal analysis of depressive symptoms among LGBTQ youth at a social media-free camp”.

According to Gillig, social media use may foster a positive sense of self and a perception of being valued in a society or community, or it may do the opposite, which can affect adolescents’ psychological well-being. Youth with more negative emotional or psychological symptoms are at higher risk than their peers of developing problematic online engagement patterns in attempts to ease psychological distress, which can lead to problematic usage patterns for some.

Previous research reveals that nearly half of youth (42%) report that social media has taken away from in-person, face-to-face time with friends in today’s digital age. Many also report feelings of social exclusion, which is popularly referred to today as the term FOMO (i.e., “fear of missing out”).

In Gillig’s study, LGBTQ youth ages 12-18 were surveyed before and after attending a social media-free summer leadership camp for LGBTQ youth. Survey questions examined the relationship between youth’s social media use prior to camp and changes in their depressive symptoms during the program.

Social media use may foster a positive sense of self and a perception of being valued in a society or community, or it may do the opposite, which can affect adolescents’ psychological well-being.

When examining the role of social media use in changes in depressive symptoms over time, significant findings emerged. Before attending the camp, the average number of hours participants spent using social media each day was about four hours and depressive symptoms among participants was moderate. By the end of the social media-free camp, depressive symptoms lowered by about half.

Youth with the highest levels of pre-camp social media use tended to experience a more “across the board” reduction in depressive symptoms. Gillig believes this can be attributed to the social, affirming camp setting that may have filled a critical need of social interaction for the high-volume social media users.

These findings highlight the positive influence of a “social media break” in a supportive environment on mental health, especially for LGBTQ youth. They also demonstrate the value of face-to-face interactions and how many youth may be unaware of the psychological benefits they could experience by trading social media time for face-to-face interactions in supportive contexts.

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Face-to-face interactions can be even more beneficial for marginalized groups, including LGBTQ adolescents, who may not have access to supportive contacts within their local community. Affirming programming that brings together LGBTQ youth for in-person relationship development, such as camps for LGBTQ individuals, shows promise to improve youth mental health trajectories.

Gillig hopes that other researchers continue to test for relationships between social media use and psychological distress, especially its impact on LGBTQ youth mental health over time. More research is needed to help practitioners make informed recommendations to distressed LGBTQ youth and their parents as to whether the youth may benefit from simply unplugging from social media or from unplugging in the context of LGBTQ-affirming programming.

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Health & Wellness

Prostate cancer: How can we decide when to treat?

Prostate cancer treatment can have significant side-effects such as erectile dysfunction and incontinence, so often avoiding intrusive surgery or radiotherapy can benefit the patient. Nevertheless, being told you have cancer puts great psychological pressure on men to agree to treatment, so understanding just how aggressive the cancer is before deciding on treatment is essential.

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You have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and your doctor gives you the option of not being treated, but of remaining under observation: Is there any objective way you can decide to be treated or not treated? What should you do?

Now using first results from analysis of the world’s biggest Active Surveillance prostate cancer database, the GAP3 consortium has begun to identify which patients are at risk of the disease developing and which patients can continue to safely delay treatment.

As lead researcher, Dr Mieke Van Hemelrijck (King’s College London) says: “Current methods of deciding whether or not to recommend treatment are not reliable. Our analysis shows that we should be able to produce a single global methodology, which will give accurate estimates on how aggressive these cancers are. These will feed directly into the treatment decision, and give men the reassurance they need to decide on treatment”.

Prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of death in men, but many men who discover they have prostate cancer are not in any immediate danger: they have Low Risk Prostate Cancer. Over the past 10 years, an increasing number of these men have been given the option of going on active surveillance, rather than being immediately treated.

Active surveillance means that men continue to be monitored and tested (via PSA levels, biopsy, and other tests), with treatment only starting when the cancer shows signs of developing. The number of men on active surveillance varies from country to country, with up to 80% of men delaying treatment in some countries. However, there are no generally accepted ways of understanding who is at risk, and as many as 38% of men who start active surveillance drop out within five years.

Van Hemelrijck said: “Prostate cancer treatment can have significant side-effects such as erectile dysfunction and incontinence, so often avoiding intrusive surgery or radiotherapy can benefit the patient. Nevertheless, being told you have cancer puts great psychological pressure on men to agree to treatment, so understanding just how aggressive the cancer is before deciding on treatment is essential. At the moment we just don’t have that reassurance”.

Although active surveillance is considered a real step forward in management of low risk prostate cancer, there is surprisingly little agreement on which men will benefit. Doctors consider a range of factors, such as age, PSA score, biopsy details, technical details of the cancer, and so on. But the decision on whether or not to start treatment is still often subjective. Erasmus MC , department of Urology was tasked by Movember to coordinate the development of a global database on Active Surveillance (the GAP3 consortium). Dr Van Hemelrijck worked with a team of researchers from the GAP3 Consortium to develop the world’s most accurate active surveillance nomogram.

The number of men on active surveillance varies from country to country, with up to 80% of men delaying treatment in some countries. However, there are no generally accepted ways of understanding who is at risk, and as many as 38% of men who start active surveillance drop out within five years.

A nomogram is a treatment calculator, similar to an App: you feed in the details and it gives you advice on whether or not to treat. Local nomograms exist, but a global version is needed to be generally applicable. Working with data from the 14,380 patients on the Movember database (the world’s largest), they were able to input data such as age, size and condition of the tumour, PSA, biopsy details, time on active surveillance, genetic factors, etc.

“Not surprisingly, we have found that even accounting for these factors there was still differences in outcomes between participating centers. But this work has shown that it will be possible to produce a nomogram which can guide treatment. Just as importantly, the work shows which additional factors need to be included in the nomogram in future to enable us to eliminate this variation and produce accurate estimates of tumor aggressiveness”.

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Commenting, EAU Adjunct Secretary General Professor Hendrik Van Poppel (University of Leuven, Belgium ) said: “This work shows that it should be possible to develop a global nomogram – in other words, a system which allows us to predict whether active surveillance will be suitable for individual low and intermediate risk prostate cancer patients. This would be an important step forward in terms of the reassurance we can offer patients, and in choosing treatment pathways. The urology community would welcome this, and will be happy to cooperate in taking this project forward”.

This is an independent comment; Professor Van Poppel was not involved in this work.

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