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Vacation Might Change Your Gene Activity, According To New Study

Vacation Might Change Your Gene Activity, According To New Study

Most people’s lives are filled with high stress—the pressure of meeting deadlines, battling with colleagues and angry customers, or simply the monotonous, but demanding, day-to-day grind. Their minds and bodies are coiled up, defensive and taut.

A relaxing vacation in a resort-like atmosphere can allow your body to lower its guards, get out of the defensive posture, and unwind. The reduction in stress levels can positively affect the immune system cells at a molecular level.

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Relaxation versus Meditation

A study was conducted to compare the benefits of just relaxing in a pleasant locality with attending a meditation retreat in the same place. Improvements were seen in many cellular markers in the blood including better stress regulation and immune function. [1]

The researchers continued to measure the gene activity and blood markers, and they discovered that there was a large and immediate “vacation effect” in all the candidates. The benefits were seen even ten months later in the participants who continued meditating.

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Senior author Dr. Eric Schadt, founding director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at Mount Sinai in New York, revealed that on a relaxing vacation, stress levels are reduced, and this in turn affects the states of cells that are involved in your immune system. Schadt told Reuters Health that at the molecular level, additional changes only happened, or happened more, in the meditation group, including more effective manufacture and use of proteins. He said “We don’t know what this means exactly, but given associations with biomarkers of aging, there is the potential that these changes could enhance overall wellbeing and longevity.” [2]

How the Study was Done

102 women between the ages of 30 to 60 participated in this study in which their blood was tested before and after five days at the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California.

A third of these candidates were regular meditators who had already booked the retreat. Half of the remaining 70 non-meditators were randomly assigned to meditation or yoga programs, while the remaining ones were assigned to just vacation and relax. Reports were collected from these women concerning their depression symptoms, stress, vitality and mindfulness on day five, one month later and 10 months later.

The Study Results

At the end of the retreat, gene-expression changes and aging biomarkers in blood samples had improved significantly for all groups. This indicates the benefits of simply being on vacation. For all three groups, the psychological well-being scores improved by day five and one month later. The candidates who had meditated during their vacation had bigger reductions in their depressive symptoms and stress at the 10-month point compared to the ones who had only been on vacation.

Telomerase is an enzyme that repairs and fortifies the tips of chromosomes. Telomeres grows shorter and shorter as age progresses. The regular meditators in the study group showed a higher activity of the enzyme telomerase. The results of the study indicate that vacation and meditation seemed to turn down defense response, inflammation response, and innate immune response. Schadt said, “Of course you want these pathways activated if they are fighting off a disease, but if they are continually activated we have seen that they are partially responsible for increasing susceptibility to a whole range of diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.”

Limitations of the Study

The researchers acknowledged that there are several limitations to this study, which was funded by The Chopra Foundation and Benioff Foundation.

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“It’s not clear if a weeklong vacation or meditation sessions would lead to changes in corresponding diseases. I don’t know that our results are such that they would speak to changes people should make in their lives to achieve a more healthy state, but rather it is another strong piece of evidence that relaxing and meditating may produce favorable healthy benefits,” Schadt said.

 Conclusion

Irrespective of these study results, there is no doubt that high levels of continuous stress is harmful to our bodies, especially our immune system, and that reducing stress is definitely beneficial to our health. There are many things you can incorporate into your daily life to boost your immune system. Find ways to de-stress, massages with aromatic oils are a great way to relax, and essential oils like tea tree oil help stimulate the immune system and ward off colds and flus. Whenever you can find the time, enjoy a relaxing vacation in a great resort at a beautiful locality. It will surely lift your spirits, if not your immune system.

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Reference

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

Are you afraid of being alone?  Do you worry about your physical safety or do you fear loneliness? These are strong negative feelings that can impact your health.

One study found that when older people are socially isolated, there is an increased risk of an earlier death,[1] by as much as 26%.

If you experience loneliness and are worried about your fear of being alone, study these 6 ways to help you find your comfort zone.

But first, the good news!

How many times have you said to yourself, ‘I just can’t wait to be alone’? This might be after a day’s work, an argument with your partner or after a noisy dinner with friends. You need time to be yourself, gather your thoughts, relish the silence and just totally chill out. These are precious moments and are very important for your own peace of mind and mental refreshment.

But for many people, this feeling is not often present and loneliness takes over. As Joss Whedon once said,

‘Loneliness is about the scariest thing out there’.

Read on and discover how you can exploit being alone to your own advantage and how you can defeat loneliness.

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1. Embrace loneliness

When you are alone, it is important to embrace it and enjoy it to the full.

Wallow in the feeling that you do not have to be accountable for anything you do. Pursue your interests and hobbies. Take up new ones. Learn new skills. Lie on the couch. Leave the kitchen in a mess. The list can go on and on, but finding the right balance is crucial.

There will be times when being on your own is perfect, but then there will be a creeping feeling that you should not be so isolated.

When you start to enjoy being alone, these 10 amazing things will happen.

Once you start feeling loneliness, then it is time to take action.

2. Facebook is not the answer

Have you noticed how people seek virtual contacts instead of a live, face-to-face interaction? It is true that social networking can provide an initial contact, but the chances of that becoming a real life personal contact is pretty slim.

Being wrapped up in a cloud of sharing, liking and commenting (and insulting!) can only increase loneliness.

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When you really want company, no one on Facebook will phone you to invite you out.

3. Stop tolerating unhappy relationships

It is a cruel fact of life that people are so scared of loneliness that they often opt into a relationship with the wrong person.

There is enormous pressure from peers, family and society in general to get married or to be in a stable, long-term relationship. When this happens, people start making wrong decisions, such as:

  • hanging out with toxic company such as dishonest or untrustworthy people;
  • getting involved with unsuitable partners because of the fear of being alone or lonesome;
  • accepting inappropriate behavior just because of loneliness;
  • seeking a temporary remedy instead of making a long-term decision.

The main problem is that you need to pause, reflect and get advice. Recognize that your fear of being alone is taking over. A rash decision now could lead to endless unhappiness.

4. Go out and meet people

It was the poet John Donne (1572 – 1631) who wrote:

‘No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent’.

Human contact is essential to surviving in this world. Instead of wallowing in boredom and sadness, you need to get out as much as possible and seek contacts.

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Being a member of a group, however tenuous, is a great way. So when you are in the gym, at church or simply at a club meeting, exploit these contacts to enlarge your social circle.

There is no point in staying at home all the time. You will not meet any new people there!

Social contacts are rather like delicate plants. You have to look after them. That means telephoning, using Skype and being there when needed.

Take a look at this guide on How to Meet New People and Make Friends with The Best.

5. Reach out to help someone in need

A burden shared is a burden halved.

Dag Hammarskjold was keenly aware of this fact when he said:

‘What makes loneliness an anguish is not that I have no one to share my burden but this: I have only my own burden to bear’.

Simply put, it is a two-way street. Helping others actually helps yourself, here’s why.

Reach out to help and people will be there when you need them.

6. Be grateful and count your blessings

Study after study shows that if people show gratitude, they will reap a bountiful harvest. These include a stronger immune system, better health, more positive energy and most important of all, feeling less lonely and isolated.

If you do not believe me, watch the video below, ‘What good is gratitude?’  Now here is the path to hope and happiness:

Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

Reference

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