Currently viewing the tag: "health"

Approximately 42.6 million adults over age 45 in the United States are estimated to be suffering from chronic loneliness, according to AARP’s Loneliness Study. In addition, the most recent U.S. census data shows more than a quarter of the population lives alone, more than half of the population is unmarried and, since the previous census, marriage rates and the number of children per household have declined. –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story with a protagonist whose loneliness drives him/her to make a mistake.

Journaling Prompt: Who do you know who might be lonely? Write about why you think they are lonely, then give them a call!

Art Prompt: Loneliness

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the health effects of chronic loneliness.

Photo Credit: Geraint Rowland on Flickr

Eat healthy fruits and veggies bowl

salubrious adj1. Favorable to health; promoting health;healthful.

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use the word of the week in whatever you write today.

Journaling Prompt: What are you doing to improve your health?

Art Prompt: Salubrious

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt:Use the word of the week in your article or speech.

Photo Credit: Trace Nietert on Flickr

Marital Joy

Liu set out to learn how marital quality is related to risk of heart disease over time, and whether this relationship varies by gender and/or age. Among her findings:

  • Negative martial quality (e.g., spouse criticizes, spouse is demanding) has a bigger effect on heart health than positive marital quality (e.g., spousal support). In other words, a bad marriage is more harmful to your heart health than a good marriage is beneficial.
  • The effect of marital quality on cardiovascular risk becomes much stronger at older ages. Over time, the stress from a bad marriage may stimulate more, and more intense, cardiovascular responses because of the declining immune function and increasing frailty that typically develop in old age, Liu said.
  • Marital quality has a bigger effect on women’s heart health than it does on men’s, possibly because women tend to internalize negative feelings and thus are more likely to feel depressed and develop cardiovascular problems, Liu said.
  • Heart disease leads to a decline in marital quality for women, but not for men. This is consistent with the longstanding observation that wives are more likely to provide support and care to sick husbands, while husbands are less likely to take care of sick wives. “In this way, a wife’s poor health may affect how she assesses her marital quality, but a husband’s poor health doesn’t hurt his view of marriage,” Liu said.
    Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write about a marriage gone bad and show through internal monologue how it affects both partners and their health.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a relationship you had that affected your health.

Art Prompt: Marital bliss

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the correlation between happiness in a relationship and heart health.

Photo Credit: Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. on Flickr

After a year in San Francisco, my legs grew strong again. A hill and a half lay between the bookstore where I found work and the apartment I shared with the Kotos. Every morning and evening I walked, breathing mist and rain into my desert-scarred lungs, and every morning the walk was a little easier. –The Litany of Earth by Ruthanna Emrys

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a 3 sentence description like this one that creates a back story for your character while establishing the current setting and circumstances.

Journaling Prompt: What healthy thing do you do for yourself every day?

Art Prompt: Walking to work

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the health benefits of walking.

Photo Credit: Prayitno on Flickr

Unknown Couple, Tintype, Circa 1895

Victorians were cautious about giving meat to women or sedentary scholars as it was believed to arouse passions that, finding no outlet, would lead to nervous introversion and illness. But it was regarded as the ultimate food for the strong, aggressive, and manly Englishman. -Lizzie Collingham, Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerers

Fiction Writing Prompt: What does your protagonist believe about different foods, healthy or dangerous?

Journaling Prompt: What foods do you believe help your health? What foods do you believe hurt it?

Art Prompt: Meat is for Men

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about a strange dietary fad.

Photo Credit: lisby1 on Flickr

Neighbour's Kids

I grew up in a small town in Michigan where there were no fences between houses. Now, I live in the Phoenix area, where everyone has a 5 foot high block privacy fence separating them from their neighbors. It was interesting to read this new study.

A new study from the University of Missouri shows that increasing trust in neighbors is associated with better self-reported health.

“I examined the idea of ‘relative position,’ or where one fits into the income distribution in their local community, as it applies to both trust of neighbors and self-rated health,” said Eileen Bjornstrom, an assistant professor of sociology in the MU College of Arts and Science. “Because human beings engage in interpersonal comparisons in order to gauge individual characteristics, it has been suggested that a low relative position, or feeling that you are below another person financially, leads to stress and negative emotions such as shame, hostility and distrust, and that health suffers as a consequence. While most people aren’t aware of how trust impacts them, results indicated that trust was a factor in a person’s overall health.”

“I was surprised about the direction in which relative position was linked to distrust. If affluent individuals are less likely to trust their poorer neighbors, it could be beneficial to attempt to overcome some of the distrust that leads to poor health,” Bjornstrom said. “It is possible that shared community resources that promote interaction, such as sidewalks and parks, could help bridge the neighborhood trust gap, and also promote health and well-being. Residents of all economic statuses might then benefit if community cohesion was increased. Additional research can address those questions.” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Create a community in your world and write about how the trust/distrust of the inhabitants relates to their health.

Journaling Prompt: How is your community laid out? Does the design of your community affect your relationship with your neighbors? 

Art Prompt: Community

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a story about your neighborhood and how it fosters community or distrust. Give your audience tips for building community in their neighborhoods.

Photo Credit: Mike Babiarz on Flickr


I used to think that I had insomnia. Some nights I do, but mostly I have Delayed Onset Sleep Syndrome. Either way you slice it, I’m not at my best before noon.
Insomnia is costing the average U.S. worker 11.3 days, or $2,280 in lost productivity every year, according to a study in the September 1 issue of the journal Sleep. As a nation, the total cost is 252.7 days and $63.2 billion. “We were shocked by the enormous impact insomnia has on the average person’s life,” said lead author Ronald C. Kessler, Ph.D. “It’s an underappreciated problem. Americans are not missing work because of insomnia. They are still going to their jobs but accomplishing less because they’re tired. In an information-based economy, it’s difficult to find a condition that has a greater effect on productivity.” –Science Daily
Writing Prompt: Create a scene where your character is having difficulty sleeping. What is keeping him or her awake?
Journaling Prompt: How do you cope when you can’t sleep?
Art Prompt: Insomnia
Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about the cost of insomnia to society and in your workplace or family.
Photo Credit: Alyssa L. Miller on Flickr

happy people in hot springs

balneotherapy n. [mass noun] the treatment of disease by bathing in mineral springs. 
late 19th century: from Latin balneum ‘bath’ + THERAPY.

Writing Prompt: Write a scene, poem, or haiku inspired by today’s word.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you visiting a mineral springs or hot springs. If you’ve never had the pleasure, then write about hot tubs, hot baths, hot showers, or some kind of therapeutic experience involving water.

Art Prompt: Balneotherapy

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about the benefits of balneotherapy.
Photo Credit: Stig Nygaard on Flickr


Life is about relationships. What happens when people are rejected and locked out of relationship with others?

…belonging to a group was probably helpful to our ancestors. We have weak claws, little fur, and long childhoods; living in a group helped early humans survive harsh environments. Because of that, being part of a group still helps people feel safe and protected, even when walls and clothing have made it easier for one man to be an island entire of himself.

But acceptance has an evil twin: rejection. Being rejected is bad for your health… They don’t sleep well, their immune systems sputter, and they even tend to die sooner than people who are surrounded by others who care about them.

Being excluded is also associated with poor mental health, and exclusion and mental health problems can join together in a destructive loop. People with depression may face exclusion more often because of the symptoms of their disorder — and being rejected makes them more depressed… People with social anxiety navigate their world constantly worried about being socially rejected. A feeling of exclusion can also contribute to suicide.

Exclusion isn’t just a problem for the person who suffers it, either; it can disrupt society at large… People who have been excluded often lash out against others. In experiments, they give people much more hot sauce than they can stand, blast strangers with intense noise, and give destructive evaluations of prospective job candidates. Rejection can even contribute to violence. An analysis of 15 school shooters found that all but two had been socially rejected. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write about a character dealing with rejection.

Journaling Prompt: When have you felt rejected? How did you act? How did it affect you?

Art Prompt: Rejection

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about the problem of exclusion and rejection in our culture.

Photo Credit: Annie Wu on Flickr

people help an elderly man

It’s not a surprise that people born into wealth think differently than than people born into a lower class background. I was surprised, however, at the conclusions the authors came to.

“People who come from a lower-class background have to depend more on other people. “If you don’t have resources and education, you really adapt to the environment, which is more threatening, by turning to other people,” Keltner says. “People who grow up in lower-class neighborhoods, as I did, will say,’ There’s always someone there who will take you somewhere, or watch your kid. You’ve just got to lean on people.'”

“Wealthier people don’t have to rely on each other as much. This causes differences that show up in psychological studies. People from lower-class backgrounds are better at reading other people’s emotions. They’re more likely to act altruistically. “They give more and help more. If someone’s in need, they’ll respond,” Keltner says. When poor people see someone else suffering, they have a physiological response that is missing in people with more resources. “What I think is really interesting about that is, it kind of shows there’s all this strength to the lower class identity: greater empathy, more altruism, and finer attunement to other people,” he says. Of course, there are also costs to being lower-class. Health studies have found that lower-class people have more anxiety and depression and are less physically healthy.
Upper-class people are different, Keltner says. “What wealth and education and prestige and a higher station in life gives you is the freedom to focus on the self.” In psychology experiments, wealthier people don’t read other people’s emotions as well. They hoard resources and are less generous than they could be.

“One implication of this, Keltner says, is that’s unreasonable to structure a society on the hope that rich people will help those less fortunate. “One clear policy implication is, the idea ofnobless oblige or trickle-down economics, certain versions of it, is bull,” Keltner says. “Our data say you cannot rely on the wealthy to give back. The ‘thousand points of light’ — this rise of compassion in the wealthy to fix all the problems of society — is improbable, psychologically.” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a character sketch. What is your character’s background? How is this expressed in her strengths and weaknesses?

Journaling Prompt: What socioeconomic class did you grow up in? Do you agree or disagree with this research? Why or why not?

Art Prompt: Thousand Points of Light

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the differences between people’s willingness to help based on their socioeconomic status.

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon on Flickr