Rewarding Our Brains to Break Bad Habits

Two non-threatening animations from Dr. Jud

On Monday, we presented an infographic to help reduce anxiety. PLEASE take a look.

Now, we offer a brief discussion and two clever videos on changing bad habits by Jud Brewer, M.D., Ph.D.: “Dr. Jud [as he is called] is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Center and associate professor in psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Brown University, as well as a research affiliate at MIT.”

As per Dr. Jud:

“How are habits formed? What is the biggest secret behind our mind’s choices? Why is it so hard to break some of our most unhelpful habits, including worry and panic during this challenging time? How can we upgrade our mind’s habit system?”

Video 1: The Habit Loop — Anxiety

The first animation deals with the three stages of the habit loop: trigger->behavior->reward.

Video 2: Breaking Bad Habits

The second animation notes some recent research that Dr. Jud’s lab has done to help people quit smoking and stop overeating. And it provides simple tips on how you can learn to leverage your own brain for habit change.

 

How Ethical Are WE Healthwise?

Would you inform your boss about a chronic illness before its effects are visible?

Interesting question, right? “How Ethical Are WE Healthwise?”

We often criticize others in the health professions for actions we consider inappropriate. Yet, we rarely question our own behavior.

With this in mind, here are excerpts from a recent Sunday NY Times’ ethicist column written by Kwame Anthony Appiah.

What Would YOU Do?

Excerpts of Question (name withheld): 

During my brief tenure, my boss has increased my responsibilities, promoted me, and proposed changing my position to be more in line with my previous employment. In essence, he is slowly transforming my work into the dream job I discussed during my interview. I suspect he has done so to ensure that I remain, not knowing that I am ill.”

“I have yet to tell my boss about my diagnosis. Legally, I suspect I am not obligated to, unless I need to take leave from my job. Yet morally, should I not at least advise my boss, particularly given his mentorship of me? I recognize that some of the potential requirements of my new job — frequent travel, increased responsibilities, extended time away from my instrumental supports — may be unsustainable 12 months from now, if not sooner. However, I am currently able to perform. What is my duty here?”

Excerpts of Response from the Ethicist (Kwame Anthony Appiah):

“As an employee, you are entitled to keep your diagnosis to yourself until it impairs your performance; and as long as you can fulfill the essential functions of your position, your employer must make reasonable accommodations for your emerging disabilities.”

“But as you’re well aware, you have another morally relevant relationship with your boss. This is someone you care about and who cares about you. That personal relationship brings burdens as well as benefits. On the one hand, your personal bond with him gives you the reasonable expectation that he won’t exploit what you tell him to your disadvantage, at least to an extent consistent with his duties as your boss. On the other hand, it also places a special demand on you to speak with him honestly. You may feel that you owe it to him to give him time to plan for your eventual decline and departure. More time, perhaps, than you would if you were dealing with a faceless institution.”

Click the image to read the full Q&A.

How Ethical Are WE Healthwise?
Illustration by Tomi Um.

 

At-Home Activities to Stimulate Us

Engage your body and mind. Think positive.

On Tuesday, we looked  at what we should do now – cleanliness. Today, we look at in-home activities to stimulate us.

Food for Thought: At-Home Activities to Stimulate Us

As we seek to find our own routine, we turn to the Automobile Association of America (AAA) for suggestions. According to the AAA:.

“News of the COVID-19 is everywhere. And many people try their best to stay healthy and help slow the virus’s spread. Due to high transferability, acts like social distancing, working remotely ,and self-quarantining are used as precautionary measures. Stuck inside the house for a while? Make make the most of it. Here’s how to stay busy, entertained, productive and healthy at home.”

        • Home maintenance — Start with home projects you’ve been meaning to get to, like small repairs or organizing a junk drawer, closet, and so on.. Go through your fridge, pantry, and cabinets, getting rid of anything expired.
        • Self-maintenance —  Take care of your physical and mental health, and know how to keep your mind busy,
        • Use technology — Watch movies. Play video games. Listen to music. 
        • Connect with others — Text. Face Time. Call..
        • Get creative — Do something artistic, like drawing, painting, scrapbooking, crafts, or writing. 
        • Engage your brain — If you enjoy learning, take online classes, quizzes or try watching some how-to videos/tutorials. Do crossword puzzles and/or Sudoku. Read a good book.
        • Connect with others — Text. Face Time. Call..

To conclude, click the image to read more.

What We Should Do Now - Activities to Stay Occupied

Best Health News Stories of the 2010s

Health advances of the 2010s

As we confront the ramifications of the coronavirus, we also have to consider the overall state of healthcare. [We will have a post on the coronavirus in the near future. We’ve been waiting to get more clarity, rather than make comments based on conjecture.]

Sometimes, when we’re feeling let down by the health care system, we need to also read about good news. Thus, today’s post: Best Health News Stories of the 2010s.

According to 24/7 Wall St., here are 15 of the top health news stories of the past decade, MOSTLY good: 

“The 2010s will go down in history as a decade of many newsworthy health-related stories, many of which are not good news — Ebola, measles, antibiotic resistance. But the years since 2010 were not all bad. Many good things happened, too, and some of them will have a lasting effect for generations to come. 24/7 Tempo went through multiple news archives. We read dozens of articles published since 2010 and selected 15 of the most positive health news that made headlines.”

“Some of the most talked about stories over the last few years have influenced health guidelines, treatment of serious disease, and even government policy. Reports of significant research developments in the treatment and prevention of chronic and other conditions gave hope to millions of Americans. Some of the good news broke as recently just a few months ago .”

Here are the 15 – in chronological order from earliest to latest. Click the link above to read a lot more.

        • CT scans in high risk patients to reduce overall lung cancer mortality
        • Melanoma drug approved
        • Gene editing now possible
        • FDA reports trans fat should not be considered ‘safe’
        • HIV prevention pill
        • New way to treat cavities
        • 3D printing of human organs
        • Immunotherapy and cancer
        • Opioid crisis recognized as national public health emergency
        • Early-stage Alzheimer’s treatment
        • Smoking rates at all-time low
        • Cystic fibrosis treatment approved by FDA
        • Second HIV patient goes into remission
        • Blood test detects breast cancer 5 years early
        • Finding a cure for arthritis

Unfortunately, the one negative story out of the 15 involves the opioid epidemic.
 

I Am Now a Five-Year Cancer Survivor

Hope is a precious commodity.

 

Amazing. Unbelievable. Lucky. Blessed. I am now a five-year cancer survivor.  Although some define the 5-year period as beginning at the date of diagnosis, I prefer to use the date of my Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer. February 12, 2015. So, exactly five years ago today.

I am kind of melancholy about reaching this point. But I don’t feel the euphoria about beating the less than 10 percent survival rate for PC that I expected. I just learned this is not uncommon. According to Dr. SP, a leading psychologist, my melancholy reflects a lot of subconscious feelings about the traumatic events during my journey. Even though I try as hard as possible to be upbeat on a daily basis. Also, it relates to my profound sorrow about others with cancer who have not been so lucky. And my own continuing challenges.

Live life every day. Live as long as you can, as well as you can.

Observations about Surviving Cancer

From Cancer.Net:

“A person who has had cancer is commonly called a cancer survivor. ‘Co-survivor’ is sometimes used to describe a person who has cared for a loved one with cancer.”

“Not everyone who has had cancer likes the word ‘survivor.’ The reasons for this may vary. For instance, they may simply identify more with being ‘a person who has had cancer.’ Or if they are dealing with cancer every day they may describe themselves as ‘living with cancer.’ Therefore, they may not think of themselves as a survivor. Living with a history of cancer is different for each person. But most people have the common belief that life is different after cancer.”

“Other common reactions that people have after cancer include:

              • Appreciating life more.
              • Being more accepting of themselves.
              • Feeling more anxious about their health.
              • Not knowing how to cope after treatment ends.”

           

        • Now, check out this video.

       

Five of the Best Health-Related Innovations in 2019

As we begin 2020, consider these innovations.

Trendwatching studies global trends from a variety of perspectives. For many different industry sectors. In this post, we look at five health-related innovations for 2019 that it identified.

According to Trendwatching, these are the top trend-driven innovations for the healthcare industry in 2019:

“The consumerization of healthcare — behaviorally, technologically, culturally — remains the biggest industry trend on our radar. People will always still want world-class ‘traditional’ (i.e. hospital-based) reactive medical care in an emergency. But innovations that empower people to engage with their health in new ways will bring huge benefits to both individuals and over-stretched healthcare systems. Here are five to inspire you.”

          1. Seed — “The D2C probiotics company launched an Instagram Stories-based ‘certification’ to train influencers in the science behind its products and FTC regulations. #accountable > #adfraud.”
          2. University of Washington — “Researchers launched an app that can detect fluid behind the eardrum using a paper funnel attached to a standard smartphone. Dr. DIY and the democratization of healthcare in action.”
          3.  AXA Insurance — “Hong Kong-based patients with social anxiety can access a six-week therapy program. The twist? The sessions are delivered in virtual reality.”
          4. Life Kitchen — “Medical treatment is just a small slice of healthcare. This cooking school for cancer patients offers those going through chemotherapy an experience filled with empathy and humanity.”
          5. United State of Women — “The best ideas are often the simplest. The Womanikin is a breast attachment for CPR mannequins, designed so that first aid givers can get familiar with giving chest compressions to female bodies.”