Ten (Research-Tested) New Year’s Resolutions
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Need help choosing a New Year’s resolution? Research from the University at Buffalo can provide some direction. Below is a summary of useful health and wellness tips assembled from studies published by UB researchers in 2010.
Have a happy, healthy and safe new year.
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EXPERT CONTACT :
Michael J. Poulin,
Assistant professor of psychology
University at Buffalo
With regard to the 32 Chilean miners trapped 2300 feet below the earth, Michael Poulin, whose research and publications focus on human response to stress and adversity, says that it is difficult but not impossible for would-be rescuers and the miners themselves to manage the emotional distress provoked by this situation.
"There are few direct parallels to their experience," Poulin says, 'but laboratory and field research suggests that there are several ways to handle the crowded conditions and lack of control over their environment that these men face.
"Media reports indicate they already are coping well by taking control of what they can: organizing their living space, choosing leaders, relying on their religious faith and fashioning games and toys out of available materials.
"Loved ones and colleagues on the surface can help by insisting that the miners be kept as fully aware of rescue progress as possible and that they are consulted for input wherever feasible," he says.
"Overcrowding can be mitigated by establishing minimal personal space like individual sleeping areas; taking expeditions into side tunnels provided they are safe; and, as materials are sent down from above, by carving out private, virtual "space" by immersing themselves in reading material or listening to music via headphones," Poulin says.
"Another source of stress is the fact that they are cut off from the social world. Individuals can control that," he says, "by developing strong bonds with one another and by frequent communication by loved ones above ground. Research in my laboratory and elewhere suggests that the miners ability to support one another during this crisis may be crucial for their well being.
"So far they seem to have spontaneously adopted multiple strategies with which to successfully manage the stress they face in this situation," Poiulin says, "which suggests that, like others who have faced traumatic events, they are remarkably resilient."
EXPERT CONTACT :
Steven L Dubovsky, M.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Psychiatry
University at Buffalo
"It is pointless, and even harmful to search for the motivations of mass killers," says Dubovsky, who also is president-elect of ProtectNY, an academic consortium that studies the prevention and management of disasters. "They kill because they can.They don't kill because of political or religious beliefs, or because they feel hurt or disenfranchised, and they certainly do not kill because they are mentally ill. There are no psychiatric causes of mass murder. There are no social causes of mass murder. The causes are deviant individuals who do not feel bound by human empathy or any other attachment to the human race.
"Experience with similar tragedies and with the massive intervention following the World Trade Center attacks have taught us how people react to civilian trauma and how to help the survivors," says Dubovsky, who studied the psychological impact of the Columbine murders. We know that a single debriefing does not prevent later problems and in some cases makes things worse. On the other hand, established structured therapies can treat acute distress and prevent chronic problems such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"The more we can draw on and lean on friends and loved ones, and the more we can increase our sense of control over what comes next, the better we will weather the storm."