Category Archives: Health & wellbeing

Five things you probably shouldn't say to someone who has had a miscarriage

For most people, miscarriage is a loss that society is not great at talking about. Here’s advice from experts on how to change that

When I asked my mum whether she had ever experienced a miscarriage, she said no. When I asked her a second time, she said yes. I spent the next four months trying to find out how a taboo can be so strong that even a doctor wouldn’t want to share the experience with her daughter. You can listen to what I discovered in the first episode of a new Guardian audio series, Strange Bird.

Before I spoke to people about pregnancy loss, I had only the vaguest sense of the experience – a stock image of a woman looking sad. The reality is so much more complex than that. There are females who, like me, think they haven’t experienced a miscarriage but could be mistaken. There are those who knew about the miscarriage and felt a profound trauma and there are those who felt relief.

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Source: gad

Every time I visit my family, they body-shame me

I have been through something similar, says Annalisa Barbieri. Try joking it off – or face the problem head on

I am being constantly body-shamed by my family, and it hurts.

I moved to the UK years ago and built up a good career. I am finishing my master’s degree part-time while working full-time; I have also recently started my first managerial role. Juggling my studies and a full-time job, means I go back to my country only once a year.

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Source: gad

Cornelia Parker: ‘When a deadline looms, you have to come up with the goods’

The sculptor and installation artist, 61, on anxiety dreams, eating with family and being blood sugary

I need eight hours of sleep, but I never get it, except at weekends. I have anxiety dreams, usually about putting up an exhibition and not having the work. Sometimes work comes to me in a dream. You can be gnawing away at something for months, years even, and suddenly wake up and it gels. I do 10 minutes of Pilates every morning, if I’m in the mood.

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Source: gad

Fit in my 40s: ‘I can now run for five minutes without wanting to die’

After eight weeks, I have learned what works. Listening to music? Yes. Taking the dog? No

I have reached the end of week four of the NHS’s Couch to 5K programme, although in real time this is week eight. It is like Clive James’s memoir May Week Was In June, except I wasn’t discovering myself, I was just lazing.

But I do have some observations, the first being that this programme is excellent: unlike almost all other advice I have seen on an NHS website, from eating five a day to going directly to A&E, it seems grounded in expertise – and it works. I am making progress, though the idea that I would happily run upstairs remains tragically metaphorical. It started with running and walking in 60- and 90-second intervals, and now I can run for five minutes without wanting to die (with a walk of two and a half minutes after each stint). But I have yet to find real enthusiasm for it and I have never come close to a runner’s high, where you are so alive with endorphins (according to rumour) that you feel as though you can go for ever.

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Source: gad

Do not intervene to speed up birth unless real risks involved, advises WHO

Women in labour are increasingly being subjected to unnecessary and unwelcome interventions such as caesarean sections, warns WHO

Medical staff and midwives should not intervene to speed up a woman’s labour unless there are real risks of complications, says the World Health Organisation (WHO), warning that too many are not having the experience of natural childbirth that they want.

New guidance from the WHO overturns decades of previous advice, which said that labour which progressed at a slower rate than 1cm of cervical dilation per hour in the first stage was risky. Women are often given the drug oxytocin to speed up labour and end up with epidurals because of the pain, followed by forceps or vacuum deliveries and in some cases a caesarean section.

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Source: gad

Undiagnosed adult ADHD could cost UK billions a year, report finds

Costs of the disorder in adults who are unable to work or hold down a full-time job are high, says thinktank

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, could be costing the UK billions of pounds a year, according to a new report that says awareness of the condition in adults in particular is very poor and many people go undiagnosed and untreated.

According to the thinktank Demos, ADHD is a major socio-economic burden. The costs to the nation of the disorder in adults who are unable to work or hold down a full-time job are high.

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Source: gad

It's not just in the genes: the foods that can help and harm your brain

Our diet has a huge effect on our brain and our mental wellbeing, even protecting against dementia. So, what should be on the menu?

As a society, we are used to the idea that we feed our bodies, and that our diet shapes our waistlines. But many of us forget that the same diet also feeds our brains, and that the food we give our brains shapes our thoughts and actions. I invested many years formally studying neuroscience and neurology, and have spent many more years as a scientist in those fields. Back when I started, most of my time was spent with medical journals. But 15 years into my research, much of my time is spent with cookbooks.

These books are essential to contemporary brain science. The recipes become food, and that food shapes our brains just as surely as it builds our bodies. Day after day, the foods we eat are broken down into nutrients, taken into the bloodstream and carried up into the brain. Once there, they replenish depleted storage, activate cellular reactions and become the very fabric of our brains.

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Source: gad

How do I find time for my family?

Don’t attempt to have your mind on work and children at the same time, says Sharmadean Reid

When my son, Roman, was born, I was a stylist, and I’d take him to meetings in a sling, schedule my work around his naps, and just carry on. When he was tiny, this was pretty easy; as he got older, it became less so. So my first piece of advice is don’t attempt to have your mind on work and children at the same time: it soon gets tough.

Instead, I decided to carve out dedicated family time and work time, and I now rule my life by a fairly tight calendar. If I am working from home and Roman wants me to play, I’ll explain that I need 10 more minutes, then the laptop is closed and he has my full attention.

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Source: gad

Don’t knock Donald Trump for playing so much golf. Here’s why | Oliver Burkeman

It really is good that he is out in nature

Spending time in nature, as you’re surely aware by now, is good for your mental health. Like, really, really good. People criticise Donald Trump for whiling away so many hours on golf courses, but they’re wrong: imagine the damage he’d wreak if his rage and repressed self-loathing weren’t offset by the restorative benefits of all that greenery! So there’s nothing intrinsically surprising about a new study, led by Viren Swami of Anglia Ruskin University, in Cambridge, suggesting that natural environments improve people’s body image; after all, they improve everything. What remains debatable is why. One of the most beguiling answers – first given three decades ago by the US academics Rachel and Stephen Kaplan – is also maybe the most pleasingly named concept in psychology. In a world of relentless, aggressive demands on our attention, the Kaplans argued, nature does something different: it exerts “soft fascination”.

Soft fascination has two crucial components. First, it’s effortless: you don’t need to “try to focus” on the wind in the trees, or a moor top blanketed in heather. Second, it’s partial: it absorbs some attention, but leaves some free for reflection, conversation or mind-wandering. The result is what the Kaplans called “cognitive quiet”, in which the muscle of effortful attention – the one you use to concentrate on work – gets to rest, but without the boredom you’d feel if you had nothing to focus on. This helps explain why nature’s benefits aren’t restricted to, say, trips to the Grand Canyon or Great Barrier Reef. Those places seize your whole attention, whereas your local park may seize just enough of it to let the rest of your mind relax.

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Source: gad

'I believed no man would marry me if I didn’t cut': battling FGM in Uganda

On the day marking Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, survivors are educating communities in border areas with Kenya, where the practice is still a rite of passage

In 2009, when Rebecca Chelimo was 12, she was forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM).

“I feared abuse and insults from the community. I was told it was a shame to be an uncircumcised girl. I believed no man would marry me if I didn’t cut. So I did it,” says Chelimo, from her home in Alakas village, in eastern Uganda.

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Source: gad