Daily Cup of Wellness

More and more Americans are turning to alternative and complementary forms of medicine such as yoga, meditation, chiropractors and acupuncture. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, more than 30 percent of American adults and roughly 12 percent of American children use “healthcare approaches that are not typically part of conventional medical care or that may have origins outside of usual Western practices.”

Non-mainstream practices used in place of conventional medicine are considered “alternative” methods. The combination of conventional medicine and non-mainstream practices are considered “complementary” methods. Complementary methods are growing in the United States according to the National Center for Health Statistics’ National Health Interview Survey. According to the survey, the practice of yoga rose roughly five percent in both adults and children between 2012 and 2017 while meditation jumped a little under five percent in children and soared roughly 10 percent higher in adults between 2012 and 2017. The use of chiropractors did not change much for children, but increased slightly with adults.

According to Richard Nahin, the lead epidemiologist at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and co-author of the reports, “Many people turn to complementary health approaches, such as yoga and meditation, in order to help with symptom management, such as pain. As well, they turn to these approaches for a general sense of wellbeing.” This is because all three methods of complementary medicine appear to have health benefits, Nahin noted. Yoga, for example, has been known to assist with mental health, stress management and lower back pain. Meditation, meanwhile, has been shown to help with irritable bowel syndrome. It is certainly good to know that there are real medical benefits to practices that are rapidly becoming a staple of so many Americans’ lives.

It turns out that working hard to get ahead may actually be the last thing you want to do if you are concerned about your health. According to research from NYU Langone Health, working more than 40 hours a week could be bad for your health. Long hours contribute to minor, chronic conditions that build up over time until they become potentially serious medical problems. A shorter work week, however, is connected with several benefits.


Less Stress

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, you have heard that stress is bad for you. Longer work weeks typically correlate with increased stress. Part of this is likely due to the fact that most people work longer hours during stressful times or because there is a great deal of work to be done at the office. That said, long hours also contribute to stress as you have less time to handle housework or run necessary errands. You also have less time for the relaxation that is necessary to counter inevitable daily stressors.


More Sleep

Sleep and exercise are the closest things to panaceas that exist in the world. Long hours can begin to interfere with both, but it is especially likely to hurt the amount of sleep you get at night. Longer hours tend to increase your stress which decreases your ability to get a good night’s rest. Also, many people postpone going to sleep when they work longer hours because they want to feel like they get more time to do things they enjoy. This lack of sleep, however, begins to affect their performance at work which requires them to work longer hours. This in turn cuts into their sleep more which worsens their performance thus forming a vicious cycle.


Healthier Body

Long hours at work are not good for your body. Your body is built for walking long miles hunting antelope and gathering food not sitting in a chair staring at a computer screen. Long hours can cause eye strain from staring at screens, back and gluteal problems from sitting all day, cardiovascular issues, increased risk of blood clots and neck problems among other things. Shorter hours reduce those risks as well as make it more likely that you will eat healthy and exercise instead of going straight from work to bed or munching on snacks from the vending machine.


Happier Life

Shorter hours allow you to spend more time doing what makes your soul happy. If you have more time to yourself, you can explore creative outlets, focus on spiritual growth and spend more time with your loved ones than if you spend all day trapped in your office.


Working long hours is necessary sometimes, but try to avoid making it a habit. Your mind, body and soul will thank you, and that is worth more than a few extra dollars in your wallet.

Marco Verch |

Marco Verch |

When it comes to keeping your finances safe, it pays to be a little more cutthroat. According to a new study from Columbia Business School and University College London School of Management, kinder individuals are more prone to both suffering financially and even declaring bankruptcy than their peers.

“We were interested in understanding whether having a nice and warm personality — what academics in personality research describe as agreeableness — was related to negative financial outcomes,” said Sandra Matz, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of business management at Columbia. “Previous research suggested that agreeableness was associated with lower credit scores and income. We wanted to see if that association held true for other financial indicators and, if so, better understand why nice guys seem to finish last.”

The study used data about more than 3 million individuals’ monetary habits including their savings, debt, negotiation styles, level of agreeableness and overall view of money in an effort to determine whether agreeable individuals were at greater risk of financial difficulties because they had lax negotiation styles and saw money as a lower priority in their lives.

“We found that agreeableness was associated with indicators of financial hardship, including lower savings, higher debt and higher default rates,” said Joe Gladstone, the study’s co-author and a lecturer at University London College. “This relationship appears to be driven by the fact that agreeable people simply care less about money and therefore are at higher risk of money mismanagement.”

“Our results help us to understand one potential factor underlying financial hardship, which can have serious implications for people’s well-being,” said Matz. “Being kind and trusting has financial costs, especially for those who do not have the means to compensate for their personalities.”

In short, being generous is a wonderful thing, but be careful to ensure your generosity does not exceed your means.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

It has been noted over and over again that obesity is an epidemic in America. An ever increasing number of people are unhealthily overweight even as the prevalence of eating disorders and starvation diets rises. Weight loss has become nearly a way of life, and millions of adults cycle through massive fluctuations in weight as they lose enormous amounts of weight only to gain it back a few months or years later. Schools made physical education mandatory, and an entire industry has grown around the desire to lose or control weight. Despite this, obesity continues to ravage the U.S. population. A recent government study may have found part of the reason for this epidemic.

According to a government survey, roughly a third of the American population eats fast food each day. That means more than 85 million people are hitting the drive thru every day. Suddenly, the rising average weight of the United States makes sense. If one in three people spend their lunch hour at the local McDonalds or Burger King, it is no wonder that people are likely to be overweight. Burgers, French fries and milkshakes are not part of a healthy diet.

The survey was based on a study of roughly 10,000 adults over a course of four years, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only released the final numbers last week. In addition to a concerning number of adults eating fast food with alarming regularity, a similar study found that the numbers were little different in children and adolescents. While saddening, this should not be surprising. Children, after all, cannot take themselves to get fast food. Their parents must take them there, and if parents are eating dinner at Wendy’s, the odds are good that they are buying burgers for their children as well.

The survey found that there was little difference between how often men and women ate fast food, but it was noted that higher-income families ate fast food more often than low income families. When examined by ethnic group, African Americans consumed fast food the most often.

The problem of obesity continues to be difficult to solve in the United States, but the survey offers a clue as to one thing people can do to keep themselves at a healthy weight. Skip the drive thru, and eat at home instead. For those that choose fast food due to limited time, do some research into fast recipes or prepare meals either the night before or over the weekend. Then, all anyone has to do is reheat the food. Meals become just as fast as the drive thru but with dozens of times the nutrition.

For all that young people tend to talk about how they are constantly connected to their friends through social media, a recent survey conducted by BBC Radio 4’s All In The Mind in conjunction with the Wellcome Trust found that people between the ages of 16 and 24 are actually more lonely than any other age group. A survey of more than 55,000 people found that nearly half of all young people reported that they felt lonely either often or very often.

Claudia Hammond, presenter of All In The Mind, wondered if the results were unique to modern life or if people naturally learned to deal with loneliness as they grew. “I wondered whether there is something about the stress of modern life, or young people’s ability to cope with it, that makes them feel lonelier. Or is youth simply a time of life when people feel isolation most keenly,” Hammond asked about the results.

The survey raises questions about whether or not loneliness is normal for young people, but it did confirm what other researchers have said about social media. It does not cure loneliness. If anything, it may only make it worse. According to the survey, those with more online-only friends felt lonelier than those who had more friends in real life.

“To help them to connect with others, young people today have social media. They are more connected than ever before,” Hammond said, “But this can bring its own problems. If you’re feeling lonely, looking at pictures of other people appearing to have endless fun isn’t going to help with those feelings of isolation.”

Social media has also been shown to decrease a person’s interest in seeking actual human conversation and connection while doing nothing to alleviate the need or replace the intimacy that comes with making real friends instead of merely virtual ones.

While young people tend to spend an alarmingly small amount of time interacting with real people, the internet alone may not be to blame for the high percentage of young people who feel lonely.

“Throughout the life course, you begin to realize loneliness is a feeling that doesn’t last forever,” Hammond said. “Younger people experience loneliness more intensely because it might be the first time they’ve experienced it at all.”

The age group with the highest loneliness rates, ages 16 to 24, supports this theory. It is during their late teens and early 20s that most people go to college or start their career. This often means leaving home and the support structure of a person’s hometown behind. Whatever the cause, the issue is clear, and a solution is needed. One can only hope someone finds it soon.