Businessman Stressed

What is Post Pandemic Stress Disorder?

The pandemic has been mentally and physically challenging for many of us, and as many countries hope that the vaccine rollout could mean the restoration of ‘normality’, the effects of the pandemic on many people’s mental health will have taken its toll. Whether this is a understandable trepidation to be in crowds or attend local events, or an increase in mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Some experts have been discussing the likelihood of a rise in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms after the collective trauma and upheaval experienced from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Many experts are simply discussing the function of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. PTSD can occur after an individual has experienced a traumatic event. Nature writes: ‘a major infectious disease pandemic may have widespread and pervasive detrimental effects on individuals’ mental health. For example, a sudden disease outbreak that is associated with high infectivity and rapid transmission results in fear, distress, and anxiety in the public. Long-term stress and anxiety that are caused by a pandemic may further induce symptoms of depression. This ongoing exposure to danger, illness, death, disaster situations, stigma, and discrimination during a pandemic can induce an acute stress response and even cause posttraumatic stress reactions.’ 

However, others are specifically linking this to the pandemic. Reported in Metro, psychotherapist and former NHS clinical lead for mental health has coined the term ‘Post Pandemic Stress Disorder’ to focus on the mental health issues specifically stemming from the pandemic.

Embed from Getty Images

Post Pandemic Stress Disorder is not yet a formal term nor diagnosis, but as Metro reports: ‘Owen’s concern is that many people will have experienced varying degrees of trauma over the past year: loss, isolation, illness, unable to say goodbye to loved ones, business failures and daily horrific news headlines.’ He explains that there are two types of trauma’s ‘large T traumas’ manifesting in PTSD and ‘little t traumas’ which turn into anxiety and/or depression. Many will have experienced a culmination of ‘little t’ traumas over the course of the pandemic. 

Owen stated to Metro: ‘I suspect we will see an increase of symptoms relating to anxiety and mood after lockdown restrictions ease. I believe many of these symptoms will be related directly to underlying trauma and if this isn’t recognized now, then we will be inadequately prepared.’ He adds: ‘Ultimately, without PPSD being recognized and respected by those in positions of authority, the trauma people have experience will not be processed.

This is likely to have a detrimental impact on the health of a society which is already under a massive amount of strain… ‘The pandemic has undoubtedly had a severe impact on every single one of us, and I am not alone in the belief there will be a post-pandemic mental health crisis… Therefore, it is not inconceivable or dramatic to want a new diagnosis which pays respect to the challenges we have faced over the past year and I hope we can create an appropriate framework which will help people to move on and lead happy and healthier lives.’

The symptoms of PPSD that were outlined by outlined Owen, are not dissimilar to the symptoms of PTSD and include: ‘Increased levels of anxiety, variations in mood, sleep issues, nightmares, avoiding situations that remind you of pandemic/lockdowns, Feeling on guard on constantly vigilant about future pandemics or recurrences of Covid-19 and Intrusive type thoughts about your pandemic experiences.’

Embed from Getty Images

Our understanding of PTSD derived from health pandemics is apparently limited and varied in conclusions. A recent study entitled ‘Prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder after infectious disease pandemics in the twenty-first century, including COVID-19: a meta-analysis and systematic review’ published in Nature wrote:

‘Numerous studies have investigated the prevalence of PTSD after pandemics. However, controversy exists with regard to the prevalence and pattern of PTSD (e.g., PTSD with acute onset or delayed onset) after such infectious disease outbreaks. The prevalence of PTSD that has been reported in epidemiological studies has varied widely, depending on the particular outbreak, target population, and methods that are used to assess the disorder. Such prevalence estimates range from 2.3 to 55.1%… Although epidemiological data on PTSD are growing, the global prevalence of PTSD and its drivers in individuals after pandemics remain largely unknown.’ 

The same study concluded however that: ‘The combined prevalence of PTSD after infectious disease pandemics that was found in the present study (23%) was even higher than the estimated pooled prevalence after other disasters, such as major traumatic events (~20%) [112] and floods (~16%) [110].

Our results indicate that PTSD is common in individuals who experience infectious diseases outbreaks, which may persist over a relatively long period of time. Confirmed cases of infection, frontline healthcare workers, and quarantined individuals tend to be vulnerable populations who have a higher potential of developing post-pandemic PTSD.’

Couple Holding Red Heart

How To Cope With Missing Someone

The last year and accompanying coronavirus pandemic, has been extremely difficult for many for reasons that vary from one personal situation to the next. Safety restrictions put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19 have also varied from place to place and country to country, meaning that globally, we all were not dealing with the same restrictions at the same time but yet many experiences are still shared universally.

One of which, is not seeing loved ones, many people across the world are still unable to see their relatives or friends and the process of missing someone can be quite difficult to navigate.

If you are currently struggling with being apart from a loved one, or perhaps preparing again not to see someone close to your heart for a long time, here are some ways to help you cope.

Embed from Getty Images

Care for yourself

It is natural to mourn for someone when they leave however temporary, and this can sometimes lead to self-neglect. Make time to care for yourself, whether that is getting a good night’s sleep, eating nourishing foods and exercising, talking to others or spending your time on fulfilling activities – from relaxing with a good book to attending to any personal projects or errands. You may also try to combat the loneliness of missing a person by spending time with other cherished friends or loved ones – whether this is in person or over a video/phone call. 

It is also important to take some time to acknowledge and ‘sit-with’ how you feel, rather than avoiding any negative emotions. Accept and explore your emotions and care for your wellbeing mentally. Healthline advises: 

‘…research from 2010Trusted Source suggests that accepting negative emotions may help relieve the distress they can cause. Avoiding them, on the other hand, could contribute to worsened mental health symptoms, including depression. Of course, you probably don’t want to let your distress take over your day. Instead, find some quiet time where you can investigate your feelings:

  • Accept whatever emotions — love, regret, anger — come up without judgment.
  • Explore your emotions to better understand where they come from.
  • Encourage yourself with positive self-talk. “This is hard, but it will get better” may have a more positive impact than “They left. Get over it already.”’

Projects

A great way to deal with many emotional situations is to ride it out by immersing yourself in something that you enjoy. Although work can be a good distraction, it is not always a positive experience, so try to eek out some time with activities that you enjoy. This can be anything from learning a new skill, embarking on a new project, taking up a new hobby or simply immersing yourself in some of your favorite pastimes. Spending time by yourself does not need to be a lonesome experience, instead look at it as time to fill doing things for yourself and your own fulfilment. Projects can be anything from home improvement tasks, to arts and crafts, to sport or outdoor activities, to learning an instrument to volunteering.

Embed from Getty Images

If you do choose to spend your time with a new task, or perhaps a long put off task, also spend time relaxing as well, watching TV, reading a book, listening to music. Anything to help cheer you up and nourish your soul. 

Just miss them

If you are missing your romantic partner, you may feel that you need to be in contact with them constantly to make up for the distance. You may also begin to feel jealous and left out if they are having fun without you. This is all pretty normal. However, you don’t need to be in contact constantly – sometimes it can feel smothering if you are. Instead cherish the times that you do call, text or catch up. Don’t overly worry about ‘keeping in touch’, sure, communicate with each other regularly, but try to relax and allow the times that you do communicate to be natural rather than forced, it will likely make you both feel happier. Also, be open, honest and clear communicators with each other.

As for feeling ‘left-out’ – this is also very normal, but understand that this does not mean that the other person is not missing you too, but making the best of it as well. Try to see your separation as an opportunity to get back in touch with yourself and do things that you would not necessarily do with them. Finally, just miss them, it’s okay to miss someone and experience those feelings. Write notes, schedule video chats and do whatever you need to get through.  

 

Friends Meeting in Social Distance Style

Have Your Socialization Needs Changed During the Pandemic?

The pandemic has deeply impacted our way of life when it comes to socialization. For many it has completely removed the opportunity for small talk with strangers in coffee shops, bars or on the street, with many working from home it has also lessened the opportunity to catch up with colleagues over the water cooler. From these small interactions to bigger ones, we have been unable to see close friends and even family. Social events from parties to small outings or a quick cup of coffee has been lessened or eliminated completely. Much of the world has dealt with these restrictions and lockdowns due to the pandemic for around a year, and slowly our socialization needs may have adapted to this brave new world. 

Many people may have found that they are now less inclined to participate in social events or perhaps have less energy to give to social situations. Huffington Post writes that this is due to the inability to socialize imposed upon us from various restrictions to safeguard against the coronavirus pandemic. Due to this inability we were unable to exercise our ‘social muscles’ so to speak and they shrunk as a result – the digital social opportunities that we did have, such as Zoom, led to a fatigue. Huffington Post adds: 

Embed from Getty Images

‘At the same time, we’ve lost the habitual bonding we’d become so used to in our day-to-day lives pre-pandemic – the chats with colleagues near the office kettle, the hugs with best friends, the weekend shopping trips with parents – so our desire to love and connect has diminished, says therapist Dee Johnson. “We create a powerful neurotransmitter called oxytocin – a behavioral hormone [when we socialize], which some call the love hormone, as it’s responsible for sexual bonding,” explains Johnson. Oxytocin is important for social bonding, “driving us to want to hug and cuddle, and re-engage with people”.’

There is also the issue that we have been wary of socialization due to the risks of infection it may carry. With social distancing drummed into our minds, it can become very panic-inducing to think of going to a large gathering or even hugging a friend in greeting again. For many this anxiety is at the forefront of their reluctance to jump straight back into socialization, and this is pretty normal.

As we have been forced to be asocial, there may be concerns that our ability to interact smoothly with other, once so instinctive, may have atrophied in some way, and it may take some time to re-learn social cues and interactions. However, as BBC Worklife writes: ‘fortunately, these muscles are fairly resilient, and accounts from places that have been less affected by Covid-19 suggest that it doesn’t take long to return to some version of a social normal. Still, some hiccups are to be expected along the way, so it will help to be prepared for them.’

In terms of the brain, less social contact may have adjusted our cognitive ability somewhat (but not permanently). BBC Worklife writes: ‘It’s not surprising many of us might be feeling socially ‘rusty’. We’ve all, to varying extents, experienced loneliness and social isolation during the pandemic, two things that can be linked to cognitive decline in specific ways.

For instance, people with smaller and less complex social networks tend to have a smaller amygdala, the brain’s emotion-processing center. Chronic loneliness can affect levels of hormones associated with stress and social bonding; one effect may be a greater propensity to depression. In general, lonely people tend to be more paranoid and negative.’

The pandemic will have affected people in different ways and to varying degrees, those with an anxiety disorder for instance, will need to navigate the lifting of restrictions in a way that best suits them.  The BBC added: ‘It’s not just how our brains may have changed, however. Overall, psychologists are seeing more adults report stress over social interactions, ranging from not knowing how to bookend interactions without a handshake or a hug, to running out of things to talk about. But certain groups are particular sources of worry.’

Embed from Getty Images

The key that many experts highlight is to take it slowly. The ease of social interactions will return and we will slowly begin to feel more positive about these occurrences. Give yourself time, patience and understanding. You don’t need to jump straight back into hugging, but instead take it at your own pace – don’t book a week’s worth of events immediately but take it slow. Speaking to Huffington Post, therapist Dee Johnson said:

“As we start to see and engage with others and activities again, this will improve our moods and give us better emotions… The key to this is, the more we produce happy hormones such as serotonin and dopamine from the rush of the non-essential shop or first football match, it motivates our brain to want more.

Therefore, the stale, heavy, wading-through-mud feeling will lift the more we slowly and carefully re-enter a world that we feel was so long ago we had started to lose hope.”

Drew Barrymore Announces Launch Of Lifestyle Magazine 

Drew Barrymore has become a lifestyle guru within the past decade of her career. Between her numerous acting jobs, role as talk show host, and overall social media presence, the mogul has become a major influencer in terms of how people lead their everyday lives. 

‘Drew’ will be a quarterly lifestyle magazine which will aim to continue the same legacy that Oprah Winfrey led with her O Magazine brand. Fashion and lifestyle magazines in general have been closing or reducing their output within the past year as a result of the pandemic, and a lack of interest in the subject matter that these publications pushed. 

Embed from Getty Images

Barrymore, however, is hoping that her magazine will revitalize the lifestyle/fashion/wellness magazine brand, especially considering the pandemic is coming to an end. 

“Magazines are such a huge part of my life and they’re such a huge part of my inspiration for everything I do. I’ve lined my walls with magazine tear sheets since I was like 10 years old. I have a picture of myself in my bedroom and it’s like floor to ceiling and wall to wall. I’ve always loved magazines because of the paper and the experience,” Barrymore explained. 

According To Barrymore, Drew the magazine will emphasize her role as a celebrity, and feature her experiences with beauty, travel, and food. The magazine will first be made available at Walmart and then all US newsstands a week later, and it will retail for $10. She calls the project an “optimism magazine that is both very commercial and very personal.”

Embed from Getty Images

Crystal Meers is expected to act as editor-in-chief for the magazine; Meers used to contribute to Gweneth Paltrow’s Goop website. Christy Doramus will serve as the magazine’s editor-at-large and Barrymore will be providing an “agony aunt” column along with acting as the founder of the publication. 

The magazine will be published by Bauer Media, and while both Bauer and Barrymore are aware of the risk of publishing a magazine in 2021, they have confidence people will be reaching for it. “A lot of the magazines that are struggling are very, very driven by advertising. Our focus is always on the consumer revenue stream. And we start with something that can make money just from engaging the consumer the right way. Our philosophy has always been if we do that, the advertisers will follow, versus trying to start someplace where we think there’s a really nice ad market and what can we create to satisfy that.”

“My goal with the magazine is to get to do a second one and to keep going from there,” Barrymore said.

“You just need chances so I hope to get the chance to do another one. That’s where my focus is – not being afraid and not planning too far ahead for what I don’t know is possible yet. I’ve never been good when people are like: ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ I’m like: ‘I have no idea.’”

Businessman Stressed

How Burnout Can Be Bad For Not Only Your Mental Wellbeing But Physical Health Too

Burnout is normally caused by excessive and long-lasting stress, causing a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion. It is most commonly connected with chronic job stress or dissatisfaction; however, it can occur in other areas where one is exposed to prolonged stress from a ‘job’ – such as caring for an ill family member. Burnout syndrome has also been called ‘Vital Exhaustion’ has been known to lead to some physical ailments such as a reduced immune system or digestive issues, however, a study among men has now found that it can lead to an increased likelihood of having a heart attack. 

The American Psychological Association defines Vital exhaustion as a state characterized by excessive fatigue, lack of energy, sleep disturbances, and feelings of demoralization.” Referring to the same condition, but instead with the title of ‘burnout’, the World Health Organization defines it as “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy…”

Embed from Getty Images

The term ‘burnout’ was first coined in 1974 by Herbert Freudenberger who defined the occurrence as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.” Burnout is not considered a psychological condition but can still be identified in a number of ways, commonly, exhaustion, isolation, irritability, escape fantasies and frequent illnesses, according to Healthline

It surpasses ordinary fatigue, making it difficult for people to get on with everyday activities and cope with stress. Burnout can lead to feelings of pessimism, cynicism and alienation. It can cause physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach aches, digestive issues and a lowered immune system. It can lead to people feeling emotionally and mentally drained, tired and unable to cope – reducing performance in a variety of tasks. It shares some symptoms with mental health conditions such as depression – a person with burnout may not want to get out of bed in the morning for example.

According to Healthline, Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North outlined the Twelve phases of burnout, which they reference as:
 

  1. Excessive drive/ambition. 
  2. Pushing yourself to work harder. 
  3. Neglecting your own needs – such as sacrificing sleep, self-care, exercise and eating well. 
  4. Displacement of conflict – blaming others for your troubles rather than yourself for pushing yourself to the max.
  5. No time for nonwork-related needs. 
  6. Denial – Impatience and blaming others for laziness or incompetence.  
  7. Withdrawal – from family and friends, social invitations are a burdon rather than enjoyable. 
  8. Behavioral changes – increased irritability or aggression. 
  9. Depersonalization – feeling detached from your life and out of control. 
  10. Inner emptiness or anxiety – this can lead to substance abuse or thrill seeking to regain feeling. 
  11. Depression. 
  12. Mental or physical collapse.

    Embed from Getty Images

The Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Russia conducted study on vital exhaustion on men, which was presented to the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). It found that men with vital exhaustion are more likely to have a heart attack. Dr Dmitriy Panov from the study stated that the issue is a response to peoples lives, “particularly when they are unable to adapt to prolonged exposure to psychological stressors”.

The Huffington Post reported: ‘For the study, researchers used data from the WHO’s Monica Project – 657 men aged 25 to 64 years old in Novosibirsk, enrolled in 1994. Symptoms of vital exhaustion were assessed and participants were classified according to their level: either none, moderate or high. They were then followed-up for 14 years. Overall, two-thirds (67%) of the men had vital exhaustion – 15% had high level exhaustion and 52% had a moderate level – while 33% were unaffected. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of men with high blood pressure had vital exhaustion.’

The link between vital exhaustion and risk of cardiac arrest was examined, finding that men with moderate or high levels of ‘burnout’ had a 2.7-fold greater risk of heart attack within five years and a 2.25 greater risk within 10 years. 

The the issue to be particularly prevalent in men who were divorced, widowed or never married – which was connected to less social support from living alone. Dr Panov stated: “which we know from our prior studies is an independent risk factor for myocardial infarction and stroke”.


The Huffington Post also reported that: ‘An analysis of studies on burnout found the issue is also a significant predictor of other physical issues like: high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, musculoskeletal pain, prolonged fatigue, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, respiratory problems, severe injuries and dying before the age of 45. Insomnia, depressive symptoms, and other psychological ill-health symptoms are some of the mental implications of burnout, the same analysis found.’ The study published in PLos One is entitled: Physical, psychological and occupational consequences of job burnout: A systematic review of prospective studies.

Woman Reading Book near Window

UK to Address the Gender Health Gap

In a campaign that should have started in 2020 but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, women and girls in the UK are being asked about their experience of the country’s health system in order for the UK government to take a closer look at, and close the gender health gap. 

Beginning on March 8th, International Women’s Day, the UK government’s Department for Health and Social Care will launch a 12 week ‘call for evidence’ to gather information on women’s experience of healthcare. The survey is public and open to all women to share their experiences, it is designed to be user friendly and quick and easy to fill in. According to the UK Government, ‘the strategy will set an ambitious and positive new agenda to improve health and wellbeing and ensure health services are meeting the needs of women.’ 

Areas of healthcare that will be examined include fertility, maternity and menopause care, but also cover areas such as mental health, addiction, heart conditions, dementia and so forth. Evidence has shown that whilst women are expected to live longer, they will spend more of their lives in poorer health. A recent survey by Manual, a wellbeing platform for men, analyzed health data across 156 countries worldwide, looking at life expectancy, rates of disease, mental health disorders and so on, to find where the largest gender health gaps lie. Medical Net reported: ‘surprisingly, over half of the G20 countries studied have healthier men than women. The UK has the largest G20 female health gap, where women are worse off. It’s also the 12th largest globally.’

Embed from Getty Images

Last year, a discussion in the UK parliament concluded that urgent attention was needed when it came to endometriosis care in the UK. Endometriosis is a debilitating gynecological condition that affects one in ten women, it causes extreme pain, heavy periods, internal bleeding and can lead to infertility. The average wait time for a diagnosis is between 7-10 years and treatment for endometriosis is limited, as the condition is currently incurable. It is argued that much of the issues of surrounding endometriosis treatment stem from a lack of medical research and understanding, which emphasizes the gender health gap.

Historically, female conditions have not been given as much scientific attention as some male conditions. The UK parliament concluded that care needs urgent improvement and diagnosis times need to be cut in half. Evidence suggests that female specific health conditions such as endometriosis, alongside issues such as menopause and pregnancy related matters are overlooked, as well as the impact these have on women’s lives and workplace participation. 

In the press release announcing the Women’s Health survey, the government wrote: ‘Less is known about conditions that only affect women, including common gynecological conditions which can have severe impacts on health and wellbeing, but for which there is currently little treatment. A key example of this is endometriosis with the average time for a woman to receive a diagnosis being 7 to 8 years, and with 40% of women needing 10 or more GP appointments before being referred to a specialist.’ 

Embed from Getty Images

iNews reported: ‘The biggest causes of death for women range from suicide in adolescence, 

to breast cancer in middle age, and dementia in older age – all of which lead to different 

interactions with the health service…’ 

Speaking on the move, the Minister for Women’s Health, Nadine Doris said: “Women’s experiences of health care can vary and we want to ensure women are able to access the treatment and services they need. It’s crucial women’s voices are at the front and center of this strategy so we understand their experiences and how to improve their outcomes. I urge every woman, and anyone who cares for women, to feed into this call for evidence and help shape the future of women’s health.” 

The survey looks to examine the experiences of women throughout the entirety of the healthcare system and will hopefully contribute to an improvement in women’s healthcare. The government statement said: ‘High-quality research and evidence is essential to delivering improvements in women’s health, yet studies suggest gender biases in clinical trials and research are contributing to worse health outcomes for women.

Although women make up 51% of the population, there is less evidence and data on how conditions affect women differently. A University of Leeds study showed women with a total blockage of a coronary artery were 59% more likely to be misdiagnosed than men, and found that UK women had more than double the rate of death in the 30 days following heart attack compared with men.’

 

How Growing Mushrooms At Home Became The Newest Pandemic Trend 

Michael Crowe has been growing mushrooms as a business since 2017. He fills his bags with coffee grounds and other organic matter to help keep his product fresh for his customers, who have now expressed interest in growing their own mushrooms from home thanks to a new internet trend that involves people creating their own personal mushroom gardens at home. 

Crowe claims that a lot of his customers have been sending him live updates of their process, which he loves. “It’s just so cool because it can bring together people of all ages, from all walks of life and people all over the place can grow food and have a really good time learning about it.”

Crowe claims that the pandemic gave people the perfect opportunity to explore the multitude of mushroom growing kits online. “It just blew up, it seemed like one day everybody was looking to grow mushrooms.” 

Embed from Getty Images

This new trend makes sense considering that crafty hobbies in general have grown in popularity throughout the pandemic, especially hobbies that involve growing your own food. Many people have taken their newfound free time at home to better their skills as a chef and begin growing their own ingredients for healthier meal options and a more natural alternative to eating out. 

Growing mushrooms at home is also one of the easiest projects one could do, which is also why it’s become so popular among parents and guardians at home with their children who need constant entertainment. The process gives them something engaging and fun to do, while also providing an educational aspect of how plants grow from seed to table. 

Grocycle is a mushroom company that claims its home-grown kits saw a 320% increase in popularity during the last 12 months compared to the year prior. North Spore is another company based in the US that claims their mushroom growing supplies have been selling out at a rate 400% more when compared to the year prior. 

Embed from Getty Images

Barclay Bram is a London resident who spoke with the media recently about the rise in this trends popularity and his own experience growing mushrooms at home to pass the time. “I picked up a grow kit at my local market last November. Oyster mushrooms are a popular beginner’s shroom, being hardy and low-maintenance. Plus, it turns out eating the fruits of your own labor is tastier, too so that’s what I went with initially. I love cooking, and they were honestly some of the best mushrooms I’ve ever eaten,” says Bram.

Mushrooms are also extremely easy to cook and work with a multitude of meals, which is also likely why they specifically have become so popular. Bram also says there’s a greater sense of community that comes with growing your own food because you begin to communicate with other gardeners and home-growers of all kinds. 

“Sharing them is such a nice thing, and I’ve been swapping the mushrooms with people for backyard eggs or sourdough bread. They’re like an alternative currency, which is pretty cool.”

Jenn Xu is another London resident who claims to have bought three different growing kits since the start of the pandemic. “People want something new to do, we’re stuck at home, and if we can’t move, we want to see something move. I buy them for the novelty and for observing the growth patterns because they’re so diverse and interesting – it piques this childlike wonder … If you look away for two hours and look back, it’s doubled in size.”

Man Sleeping in Bed

Sleep Pattern Could Be Based On Your Chronotype

There are many of us who find getting up earlier in the morning and getting on with our day preferable to a lay in, and others who find keeping a morning routine a struggle but come alive in the evenings – often doing their best work. Science has long outlined these two different ‘chronotypes’ as: ‘morning larks’ and ‘night owls.’

Huffington Post writes: ‘morning chronotypes (or ‘larks’) tend to do better early in the morning, while evening chronotypes (‘owls’) seem to do better in the evening. Your chronotype is largely genetic, but environmental factors such as exposure to daylight, work schedules, and family life can also influence it.’ However, new research has now found that your chronotype may be more important than a simple preference, affecting sleep levels and productivity. 

Researchers looked to a large ongoing study of people taking part in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 Study to look at how chronotypes affect people’s lives. The Northern Finland Birth Cohort consists of 12,000 people of which is a near 50/50 split between men and women and follows the lives of people born in 1966. At the age of 46, each participant was asked about various aspects of their lives – sleep patterns, overall health and their working life – those surveyed were divided into morning people, and evening people or intermediate.

IFL Science wrote: ‘most men were either M-type (46%) or intermediate (44%), with just 10% being E-type. Women were very similar, with 44% being M-type, 44% intermediate, and 12% E-type. The skew may be due to the age of the population, with older people often waking earlier than adolescents and young adults.’ Approximately 2,672 men and 3,159 women were surveyed, all of whom were in work in 2012 and monitored for the next four years. Monitoring showed who had stopped working and taken disability pension. 

Embed from Getty Images

EurekAlert reported: ‘during the 4-year monitoring period, underperformance was strongly linked to a heightened risk of taking a disability pension for both sexes, with male owls three times as likely to take a disability pension as male larks, although the impact of chronotype was significantly weakened when sleep patterns and working times were taken into account. During this period, 84 people received a new disability pension;17 people died, 3 of whom had taken a disability pension. The proportions of those who were larks, intermediate chronotype, and owls were, respectively: 46%, 44%, and 10% among the men, and 44%, 44%, and 12% among the women. ’

The information derived from the study suggested that ‘morning larks’ were likely to perform better in many different areas. Shorter sleep duration, insomnia, social jet lag were all common ailments of night owls, who were also more likely to be unmarried and out of work, the study showed. Previous studies have suggested that nightowls often exhibited poorer health when compared to morning larks, and this recent study seems to confirm that posit. Participants rated their work performance between 1 and 10 and according to IFL Science ‘evening owls were underperforming at work significantly more often than morning larks, with around 1 in 4 reporting work issues.’ 

Embed from Getty Images

Night Owls, do not usually fall asleep at a time where they can get the recommended 7+ hours of sleep which has a knock-on effect to productivity and overall health. Sleep specialists, scientists and health professionals alike have long underlined the importance of a good night’s sleep in a person’s overall health and cognitive function. A long-term or chronic lack of sleep can cause or exacerbate both physical ailments, mental health issues and generally affect all areas of one’s life. 

IFL Science added to their report: ‘Genetic chronotypes continue to be difficult to uncover, with genome studies constantly revealing more genetic variants that contribute to being a morning or evening person. A large-scale study in 2019 discovered various areas of the genome thought to be involved, whilst other studies have highlighted 22 variants currently known to be linked, which are involved in circadian rhythms and photoreception (perceiving light). Chronotypes are thought to be heritable, which means if your parents love the morning sun, you may be in luck for your future work performance.’

The research, published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, concluded that ‘eveningness appears a previously unrecognized risk factor for poor WA and early disability. We suggest that individual chronotype be considered in attempts to lengthen work careers.’ This conclusion although fair, highlights how much of society and working life is set up for morning larks rather than night owls, which could be another factor as to why morning larks are seemingly performing better. 

Shopping Cart

Random Lockdown Purchases That Have Actually Improved People’s Lives 

Many have been turning to retail therapy to help cope with the past year in lockdown. Now that vaccines are being distributed throughout the world, many are ready to get back to their normal day-to-day lives, however, they also are realizing their lockdown purchases have proven to be quite useful, and will likely continue to be as the pandemic comes to a slow end. Here’s a list of some of the most unusually popular purchases of the past year in quarantine: 

Treadmill: Starting on a relatively basic level, many individuals have taken their time at home to finally focus on their physical health and get into a solid exercise routine. Treadmill’s have always been one of the most popular pieces of at-home exercise equipment because they’re easy to use and can provide one of the best cardio workouts, and the past year has proven that. Especially when the weather got colder and we all were really stuck indoors, many found purchasing a treadmill or other fitness equipment helped keep their minds occupied at home. 

Embed from Getty Images

Electric Bike: Along those same lines many have been turning to electronic bikes to cope with colder weather. Pelaton’s have been rising in popularity due to the fact that they provide personal trainers and scheduled classes to help keep clients motivated and on a steady schedule. 

Furry Friends: For those living alone especially, adopting a new pet has been one of the most popular purchases within the past year. Something that’s important for all new pet owners to remember is that our furry friends have no idea what the past year has actually been like for us, so as we start to get back to normal and enter into the real world again, remember to transition your animal the same way you transition yourself back into normalcy. You are your pets whole world, and your absence does and will impact them emotionally, so be there for them. 

Bread maker: Many were obsessed with making bread in the beginning of the pandemic, and for some, they discovered a real talent for baking. Bread makers in general have risen in popularity immensely within the past year because they’re easy to use, and don’t take up a lot of space, so anyone can have fresh, ready-to-eat bread on any given day. 

Embed from Getty Images

Motorhome: For those with the financial ability to do so, purchasing a motorhome has been the perfect way to continue to vacation in a world where you need to stay separated from everyone, not to mention one of the safest. With thousands of campsites and trailer parks throughout the nation, a motorhome has been the perfect addition for any traveler. 

Bed: Now that we’ve all been spending an obscene amount of time at home, many have realized that our furniture is not exactly up to our liking. Beds in general have risen immensely in popularity due to the fact that many are realizing they haven’t upgraded their sleeping set up in a while, and what better time to do so then when we all are forced to stay home in bed anyway? 

Projector: On Amazon projectors range from $200-$500 depending on the size, but many people have been buying them to do socially distanced movie nights in their backyard. For others, they’re realizing that buying a projector and displaying it on a blank wall is the perfect solution to buying a large entertainment system without completely breaking the bank. 

Keto Diet

How to Boost Your Energy Levels

Many people will be feeling exhausted, whether it is due to the strains of a stressful job, recovering from an illness or simply the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. When we feel burned out and exhausted, it becomes difficult to find the energy and motivation to get on with the tasks at hand, whether that is within our work or home lives. There a several different ways in which you can attempt to boost your energy levels, which may in turn aid your productivity levels. 

Eat Well

It makes sense that since our energy predominately comes from what we eat, than maintaining a diet that is health and consists of the right foods will provide better and perhaps more longstanding energy levels. Aiming to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, ensuring you aren’t skipping meals (yes that includes breakfast), snacking on healthy alternatives to candy bars, chips and cakes – with options such as nuts or vegetables will hopefully help your energy levels.

Eating balanced meals that include carbohydrates, vegetables and proteins will provide your body with the sustenance it needs to support you through your day. You can also incorporate superfoods and multivitamins into your diet for an extra boost. Also ensure that you are staying hydrated throughout the day, drinking plenty of water and opting for healthier drinks. If your alcohol intake is high, it may be affecting your sleep levels which can cause tiredness the next day. 

Embed from Getty Images

Exercise and don’t oversleep

If you don’t find much time to exercise, consider incorporating even a small level of exercise into your daily routine. It may feel like the opposite to what you need when you are feeling exhausted, but getting up and moving can really help to boost your energy levels. You do not have to do a high-intensity work out, but if you like running, a quick daily jog has enormous benefits. For low-intensity options, Yoga or a walk outside can be very beneficial to both your mental energy levels and physical. In fact, getting outside in the fresh air and daylight can work wonders on energy levels and overall outlook. Spending time outside can help us sleep at night, as the daylight allows for the production of melatonin. So if you are feeling exhausted due to sleep problems, fresh air and exercise can help that. 

It is important to try to get a good night’s sleep and keeping a regular bedtime and rising time will help with this. On average, an adult should get 7-8 hours per night, so begin with that and slowly adjust to what your body needs as the amount of sleep we need varies from individual to individual. You may find you need to wind down before bed to help you sleep better.

However, on the other hand, exhaustion leads to feeling that we need to sleep more, and if you are getting more sleep than what your body needs, it can lead to further exhaustion. Harvard Health writes: ‘research bears out the connection between too much sleep and too little energy. It appears that any significant deviation from normal sleep patterns can upset the body’s rhythms and increase daytime fatigue. The best solution is to figure out how many hours of sleep are right for you and then stick with it — even on weekends, vacations, and holidays.’

Embed from Getty Images

Look after your mental health

One way to boost energy is to actually slow down. Often our mental health whether stress, anxiety or depression can lead us to feel burned out, sluggish and exhausted. If you are overworking in your job, you may become more stressed and may be prone to taking less breaks. However, sometimes taking time out, to relax, do yoga, meditate or look after your mental health, actually creates more time and provides us with more energy. 

A recent article from Huffington Post spoke to Dr. Amy Shah author of ‘I’m So Effing Tired”, writing: ‘Dr. Shah says we should also focus on our “psychobiology” – that is, assessing how our mental health affects our physical health and energy levels. “Our thoughts can trigger inflammation in the body and vice versa,” says Shah. “In our culture, the attention to the mind has been lost. Hence the sharp rise in burnout anxiety and fatigue.” Focus on positive energy, she says, which means surrounding yourself with people who bring you up. “My motto has always been, ‘If it won’t matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes worrying about it’”. It might also be worth practicing gratitude – something you may find hard to do in a pandemic, but one that will lift you up.’