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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A touch can say so much




Touch is the first non-verbal communication known to us. An infant, who is held and touched by his near and dear ones, grows up to be more secure and with less attachment problems.

Researchers have shown that touch releases oxytocin, a stress- releasing hormone, which creates a sensation of trust and being loved.

Psychologists have found that a quick hug, high five or belly bump can communicate a wide range of emotions, sometimes more accurately than words. Clinical psychologist Varkha Chulani says, "Since the human body is made up of five sensory organs — touch, taste, smell, vision and the auditory —they play an important part in our lives. Each in their own way serves the basic functions, besides serving the more intense ones of sensuousness and sexuality, deeper emotions, general well-being and contentment. In fact, if used well and to the maximum, nothing can be more fulfilling than evoking the sensory organs for a pleasurable living."

It's natural: Touch is the most natural form of communication. It can communicate love, security and trust. It communicates a feeling of oneness, in a group. Psychiatrist Dr Parul Tank maintains, "Cricket teams all over the world have started doing the huddle, which communicates togetherness! Touch can also communicate stronger negative feelings like disgust, hatred and creepiness. However, a hug or a warm touch can ease the pain and grief in a person, which often words fail to."

The best way to communicate: Touch is the first sensation that develops in human beings. Psychiatrist Dr Jyoti Sangle says, "It's the most superior mode of communication. A touch activates the neuronal circuits, which help the cerebral cortex to interpret the context and the quality of touch. A tight hug from someone near and dear is a strong expression of encouragement, assurance and affection. By the same token, a push could signal a sense of rejection."

Touch helps bond: The adage a touch can convey a thousand words holds true for most. Varkha Chulani says, "Since people vary in their sensory abilities – some being more tuned to visual stimulus, others to olfactory and some others to tactile stimulation — they react differently. A connection of sorts develops when people touch It could be a firm handshake to a gentle tap; the meaning being conveyed is that we relate." In a society, that's feeling more and more alienated, touch helps bond. It shows that there is not much of a distance or wedge between people.

More friends online than in real life!




Users of social networking sites such as Facebook have double the number of friends online than they do in real life, says a new study.

The study, commissioned by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, found that those typical users of social networking sites have 121 friends online versus 55 friends around them.

"It found that one in 10 people has found their best friend online and that people tend to be more honest with friends online than when faced with friends," the Telegraph reports.

One in 10 also believes that they will meet really good life-long friends via the web.

"For most people, the internet is a way of keeping in touch with loved ones and friends but for people who are isolated due to illness, it plays a more vital role and can often act as a lifeline," Helen Oxley, consultant psychologist at Manchester Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre, Wythenshawe hospital

"People with illnesses often rely on the internet's ability to facilitate friendships as they blog and use networking sites as a way of coming to terms with, and dealing with their illness."

"It can foster a sense of social connection for those who can frequently feel isolated, which is important to psychological wellbeing," said Oxley.

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust conducted the research as the internet plays an increasingly important role to those suffering with the illness who cannot physically socialise as much as they would like.

Additionally the research found that only five per cent of people will ask for a new friend's number, with 23 per cent of those polled preferring to add them on a social network by using their full name or taking down their email address.

Open heart open mind




You will agree that life dishes out different kinds of challenges to different people. Everyone has to face difficulties, problems, setbacks at some point or the other.

My life appeared to be one long-drawn out struggle. Like most people, every time I faced yet another problem that sapped my patience and forbearance, I asked myself in despair: Why me? Why can't life ever be smooth and hassle-free? These questions seemed to have no answers.

Being a religious person in the traditional sense of the word, I concluded that God was unhappy with me. So I made every effort to please Him. But I got no response. Was I dialling a wrong number?

As time passed, I began to lose faith in someone who could not answer my questions and lead me to a more meaningful life. I resolved to find the answer myself. To set my mind at rest, I became a seeker.

Life is a test
In the course of my journey as a seeker, I discovered the Creation Plan of God. According to the plan, life is a test and its many problems are part of that test. Once the test comes to an end marked by death, we are either rewarded or punished, in accordance with our deeds.

This world is like an examination hall where a student, with all the freedom to write whatever he wants, takes tests. It is only the result which determines his future. The student is made to confront pleasant and unpleasant situations — all meant only to test him. His response determines the life to come.

This was a logic to which my mind yielded without questioning. Everything fell into place. In the framework based on this ideology, I discovered that all phenomena of life were well-explained. To an explanation-seeking entity called man, only true reasoning can initiate him into the process that will eventually help him to discover his Creator.

God is generous
I desired little, but God gave me much; for what can be greater in this world than a satisfied mind? It is said, 'Ask God not for a specific thing but pray to Him to bestow upon you what He deems best'. It is possible that while you might be praying for a small car, God may wish to bless you with a luxury vehicle such as a Rolls Royce!

Looking back, I want to thank God for having granted me the ability to understand and acknowledge the answers that were presented to me.

I have come to realise that you become receptive to the wisdom of life only when you free yourself of biases. If you are unable to shed your bias, you become a dwarf thinker. It is important to live with an open heart and mind, so that you can think beyond your conditioning and discard inhibition and fear. When you discover the meaning of life, God Himself undergoes a transformation. This metamorphosis develops your personality and helps you to grow spiritually. It also helps you achieve material success.

Wondering why your face looks taut?




With the level of pollution going up, the only way to protect your skin is to keep it clean and hydrated and use regular face packs.

Different skin types need to be cared for differently and same is the case for a face pack. But there are a few things that you should know about face packs before blindly applying them:

- The first thing that you should know is that any face pack kept on your skin for more than 20 minutes will cause skin to stretch. This results in open pores, sagging skin and also wrinkles. So ladies, please do not go overboard with the pack.

- The second most important thing that you should keep in mind is that you should apply a pack on alternate days. This is because daily scrubbing results in erosion of the surface of the skin making it dry and devoid of moisture. This may also result in breakouts.

- Going near heat with the face pack on, results in chemical reaction in the products that go in your face pack. This leaves the skin dark, patchy and with open pores.

- After washing out the face pack and scrubbing do not forget to apply a little ice on the face. This is because after scrubbing, the skin pores usually open up. Ice helps to close those pores and avoid skin disorders. Rubbing ice also acts in toning the skin.

- You should preferably remove the face pack when it is partially wet. This prevents the face pack from being harsh on the skin.

- A lot of us do the mistake of applying the pack near the eye area. This should be avoided completely since the skin around the eye is very sensitive and thin.

My World: Tool to keep watch on children on facebook

My World: Tool to keep watch on children on facebook

Tool to keep watch on children on facebook




Internet security firm Check Point has launched software that lets parents watch over offspring on Facebook without being "friends" at the online social network.

ZoneAlarm SocialGuard alerts parents to signs of trouble in a child's Facebook account without them being privy to all posts, comments, pictures, videos or other digital content shared between friends at the website.

The program scans Facebook profiles, communications and "friend" requests and uses algorithms to identify potential bullying, sexual overtures, or talk of drugs, violence or suicide.

SocialGuard software runs unseen in the background, flagging suspicious activity and sending alerts to parents, according to its Redwood City, California-based creators.

"It's about protecting your kids from the social threats out there, while still respecting their privacy and fostering open communication," said Check Point vice president of consumer sales Bari Abdul.

"We are offering Facebook users a simple way to embrace social networking safely," he continued.

SocialGuard is crafted to detect hacked accounts, malicious links, online predators, and cyber-bullies, according to Check Point.

The software also checks to determine whether people contacting children online are being deceptive about their ages or if a stranger is trying to become a Facebook "friend."

"Parents are increasingly concerned, and rightfully so, about the dramatically increasing trend of criminals, predators and bullies targeting children over social networks," said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley.

"SocialGuard provides a strong suite of tools that can effectively protect children from these types of social threats that are keeping parents awake at night."

Check Point cited a survey indicating that 38 per cent of teenagers have ignored requests from parents to be friends on Facebook, and that 16 per cent of children have only done so as a condition of using the social network.

Teens experiment with drinking on the Net: Survey




Teenagers who drink alcohol spend more time on their computers for social networking, downloading and listening to music compared to peers who don't drink.

These results are based on an anonymous survey of 264 teenagers by Weill Cornell Medical College researcher Jennifer Epstein.

"It seems likely that adolescents are experimenting with drinking and activities on the internet," Epstein was reported as saying by the journal Addictive Behaviours.

In turn, exposure to online material such as alcohol ads or alcohol-using peers on social networking sites could reinforce teens' drinking, added Epstein, assistant professor of public health at Weill Cornell.

"Children are being exposed to computers and the internet at younger ages. For this reason it's important that parents are actively involved in monitoring their children's computer usage, as well as alcohol use," she said, according to a Weill Cornell statement.

"According to a national study..., more than half of parents of teenagers had filters installed on the computers their child uses to block content parents find objectionable, yet many parents do not use any form of parental monitoring, particularly for older teens."

The Weill Cornell survey was completed by participants aged 13 to 17. Drinking was also linked to more frequent social networking and listening to and downloading music. There was no strong link between video games and drinking or online shopping and drinking.

Women feel more pain than men



Women have more intense responses to pain than men, say scientists.

A study using MRI brain scanners found women process pain in the brain differently to men.

Doctors were investigating gender differences in how the sexes respond to the pain of chronic conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome - which affects more women than men.

But the findings also shed light on the age-old debate about the sensitivity of the sexes.

A research team from London and Japan led by Professor Qasim Aziz, of the Wingate Institute for Neurogastroenterology, Queen Mary University of London, studied brain activity and reactions of 16 men and 16 women in the anticipation and processing of pain.

The study involved healthy volunteers who were told that a tiny balloon would be expanded in the gullet, before the procedure lasting a second.

During the period leading up to it, women had less activity in areas that process fear and more activity in areas involved in preparing and planning movements to avoid the impending pain.

In men, fear was predominant when they were expecting to feel pain.

During the painful event the opposite reaction was seen among men who were more involved with pain avoidance.

In contrast, women showed greater activity in areas involved in processing emotions and feeling the pain.

"The fact that during pain our female subjects showed more activation of the emotion processing areas in the brain could suggest a mechanism whereby females may attribute more emotional importance to painful stimuli which may influence how they perceive, report and respond to pain in comparison to males," the Daily Mail quoted Prof Aziz as saying.

"Further research is now required to assess the clinical importance of these findings and to determine if brain imaging studies can help to guide therapy," Prof Aziz added.

Take tea without milk for weight loss




Beware, especially if you want to lose weight - don't add milk to tea, or you would pile on the pounds.

Scientists have discovered that tea contains high levels of compounds that help reduce the amount of fat but proteins found in cows' milk neutralise this fat-fighting ability.

New research has shown that the compounds, called theaflavins and thearubigins, prevent obesity when given to rats that were also on a high-fat diet.

Researchers now believe this could explain why people in Britain appear not to benefit from the healthy affects of tea despite being among the world's biggest consumers of the beverage, the Telegraph reports.

Devajit Borthakur, a scientist at the Tea Research Association at Jorhat in the Indian state of Assam, said: "When tea is taken with milk, theaflavins and thearubigins form complexes with the milk protein, which causes them to precipitate."

"It means that we don't get the health benefit from these compounds nor from milk protein. Therefore, it is always advised to take tea without milk."

A study by scientists in Japan, reveals that extracts from tea leaves inhibit the absorption of fat in the guts of rats being fed high-fat diet.

These rats also had less fat tissue on their bodies and lower fat content in their livers, reports the Journal of Nutrition.

Hiroaki Yajima, a scientist with the Kirin Beverage Company in Japan who carried out the Japanese research, said: "Black tea extracts may prevent diet-induced obesity by inhibiting intestinal lipid absorption."

Drinking water before meals good




Have you tried out every trick in the book to lose weight – crash diets, gyms, or simply starving yourself?

Now, try a simple trick – drink a glass or two of water before meals, as that's the best way to curb appetite and shed those pounds – says a new research.

Scientists have reported that just two 8-ounce glasses of water taken before meals, can lead to weight loss.

"In this recent study, we found that over the course of 12 weeks, dieters who drank water before meals, three times per day, lost about 5 pounds more than dieters who did not increase their water intake," said Brenda Davy of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

The simple reason is that it fills up the stomach with a substance that has zero calories. People feel fuller as a result, and eat less calorie-containing food during the meal.

And it gets even better if you replace sweetened calorie-containing beverages with it.

Although there's no exact amount of water one should drink, experts advise that most healthy people can simply let thirst be their guide.

The general recommendations for women are about 9 cups of fluids — from all beverages including water — each day, and men at about 13 cups of fluids.