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How technology can unlock reading
How technology can unlock reading
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Today there are thousands of people living in the UK who are unable to experience the joy of reading for one reason or another. Four percent of the population have severe dyslexia, and a further six percent experience mild to moderate symptoms. There are also those who are illiterate, blind or partially sighted – and this amounts to a large segment of the UK that may find reading to be a highly frustrating or even impossible task.
 
However, there are things that can be done to get more people reading. Technology can be instrumental in making this a reality and over the years it has continued to break down the physical, visual and cerebral barriers to reading, making the process more accessible and enjoyable for many.
 
Today’s technology is certainly revolutionising traditional reading methods. The use of e-readers, smartphones and tablets has become commonplace and the simple reconfiguration settings available on such devices, such as adjusting font sizes and colours, can make a world of difference to people with visual impairments or learning difficulties. Furthermore, simple assistive technology tools such as digital highlighters, scanning pens and text-to-speech programmes allow people who may struggle with the written word to absorb it regardless. Fortunately, the equipment needed to do so is readily available, inexpensive and intuitively designed.
 
One of the most important factors when it comes to unlocking the potential to read independently is that the there are a variety of technological options available to suit a diverse spectrum of individual needs. For technophobes and traditionalists, there are devices that work in collaboration with traditional dead tree books to make the content inside more accessible. Likewise, for people who love having the latest gadgets and gizmos, most literary content has caught up with the digital age and in some case, even supplanted conventional methods. Online articles and publications, digital editions of newspapers, e-books and a multitude of open source research materials are available on the internet and mobile platforms which means you’re never far away from a variety of reading options.
 
Finally, for people that have not attempted to read for a number of years, I encourage you to take a look at the technology available today and see whether there is something well suited to your needs. Try to find out what works for you and experiment with options available until you find something that does. In this day and age, no one should feel locked out of such a rewarding process, one that much of the population perhaps takes for granted. www.cpen.com

Better Sex

What Do Women Want: New Book Explores Female ...
Sex has a bit of a reputation for messing with your emotional health, especially when you’re just not getting what you want. While male sexuality is a little more straightforward, as a woman your sexual wellness is seemingly tied up in a myriad of complexities and secret solutions – so what’s a girl gotta do to get laid around here? In walks sex-pert Daniel Bergner, who aims to tackle the mystery that is female sexuality in his new book What do Women Want?   In the book, Bergner explains that there are far more nuances to your sexual wellbeing than to your male counterparts’. One researcher describes it as flicking a single switch in a man, while women have a series of buttons, and no man is quite sure which does what. You’d think in this day and age that wellness experts would have this all figured out, but there’s actually limited research on female sexuality thanks, in part to a field historically dominated by men. Scientists are still arguing over whether the G-spot even exists for crying out loud.   Still, according the Bergner there is plenty of research in the works that indicate that our previously held assumptions about female sexuality are wrong. Notably, new studies suggest that monogamy may be more challenging for women than it is for men. Berger cites the work of Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Centre, who have found that female rhesus monkeys initiate sex, and then find a new partner when the old one gets tired. Study leader Kim Wallen, a psychologist and neuroendocrinologist, says he wonders whether women feel this drive but, due to social constraints, ‘don't act on or even recognize the intensity of motivation that monkeys do.’ In fact, he answers his own question, ‘I feel confident that this is true.’   Bergner’s book displays several examples to support this theory. For example, Meredith Chivers, an assistant professor of psychology at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, found that women's perceptions of arousal did not match their actual arousal. She showed women images of straight sex, lesbian sex, gay sex and sex between bonobo monkeys, and even though some women only claimed to be turned on by heterosexual images, they were, in varying degrees, aroused by all of these types of sex. Incidentally, both gay and straight men were accurate in their perceptions, and the bonobo boom boom did nothing for them.   Another finding by Chivers was that even though women claimed to feel more enticed by the idea of sex with a long-time partner, they actually became most aroused by stories about sex with strangers. Bergner takes a good look at the issue of low libido in women as a result of long-term relationships, pointing out that the problem is easily solved with a new partner. Canadian psychologist Lori Brotto, who supervised the section on female desire in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, says, ‘Sometimes I wonder whether it isn't so much about libido as it is about boredom.’ While Brotto’s treatments can help you to restore your libido, craving your partner again is one step too far. Bergner writes, ‘She couldn't provide that, not without a semi-miracle or someone new in the patient's bed.’   However, Bergner holds hope that open communication can hold the key to reigniting the passion in your relationship. He comments that plenty of long-term couples have approached him and said that the strength of their relationship depends on free-flowing communication about sex and desire. Bergner says, ‘despite the feeling of fear, of trepidation, of feeling threatened’ of communicating about your sexual needs, he advises readers to follow suit.
How to Enjoy Great Sex After the Birth of You...
For many women, the mental and emotional impact of going through childbirth can have a negative effect on their sexual wellness and wellbeing. They may be in pain, or fear that intercourse will cause them pain. They are also often stressed (due to having a very small baby) and don’t feel much of a desire to have sex. Gynaecologists often advice that new mothers to not have sex for six weeks after the birth, in order to give their genital tissues time to heal. After that time, however, it is perfectly normal to want to recover some kind of intimacy with your partner.   The first time you have sex after the birth of a baby, take it very slowly. Men need to understand that women’s bodies have changed, and that their genitals may be still recovering from the immense task that they have performed. Men should be supportive of their partners, and be willing to be gentle and tender with them.   Women should also remember that they are their husband or partner’s chosen sexual partner. It is too easy to feel unattractive or undesirable after going through childbirth, but they should be aware (and men should make them aware) that they are still completely desired by their partner.   Some women may (understandably) fear getting pregnant again too soon. In order to remove this as a possibility, look into suitable methods of contraception well ahead of any sexual encounter. There are various methods available to men and women, but mini pills are generally advised as being the safest method for women who are breastfeeding.   When women are breastfeeding, they should also be aware that not only does the hormone prolactin suppress sexual desire, but it also causes vaginal dryness. Some kind of artificial lubrication may, therefore, be useful in order to make the experience as straightforward and comfortable as possible.

Confidence

Baring All for Body Confidence: The Benefits ...
  You might not think stripping off and performing downward-facing dog is beneficial to your mental health, but many people tout the benefits of naked yoga. Don’t know much about it? Wellness writer Alice Oglethorpe went along to a naked yoga class to see how it might benefit her wellbeing.   ‘I like to make decisions based on what my 80-year-old self would want me to do,’ Oglethorpe notes. ‘Stay out dancing in Florence until the sun comes up? Absolutely! Volunteer to model white jeans on the Today show? Of course! But recently I forced myself to see just how deep that conviction went. At 32, getting naked in a room full of strangers wasn't high on my bucket list, but this was a chance to see how far I would go to put my belief to the test. I ran the idea by a few friends and concluded that 90 minutes of red-faced stretching was worth a lifetime of bragging rights. I found a class, and signed up. I'm no adrenaline junkie (my idea of living large is a vacation with a fancy hotel room and a beach chair to lounge in), but I think it's good to do things every so often that push your limits and scare you.’   Oglethorpe recalls, ‘My plan was to take cover in the back corner of the room – until I learned that everyone would form a circle and face each other. Now there was nowhere to hide! I put my mat down between a cute young guy, who was there with his girlfriend, and an Australian man in his forties and started stretching. And then things got real. "Take off your clothes in whatever way feels most comfortable," instructor Cindee announced, as she proceeded to lose her Lycra. Unable to think of a single way to undress that felt "comfortable," I stripped as fast as possible. The most nerve-wracking part: removing my underwear. Until then I could pretend I was in a bikini. I saw boxers and briefs hit the guys' mats beside me as I dropped my panties. And just like that, I was standing in a class with a bunch of naked strangers. I could feel my future 80-year-old self turning bright red. I was waiting for the ogling to begin, but the conversations around me turned to...the weather.’   ‘Cindee started us off with a seated position,’ Oglethorpe details. ‘A cross-legged seated position! She asked us to go around the room introducing ourselves and say why we had come here. I think I said something about wanting to embrace my flaws, but the whole time I was praying I would sink through my yoga mat and disappear. Thank goodness Cindee took over from there. She was so professional that it eased a lot of my embarrassment, the way a good doctor does in an exam room. Meanwhile I tried not to look below anybody's neck, which helped keep their bodies out of focus. But within minutes, things went from weird to...not. As we moved through the typical yoga poses – warrior II, downward dog, spinal twists – the initial shock of all that nudity faded. In fact, being naked was a great equalizer. I could see how everyone there had belly rolls when they bent forward, even the skinny guys. I had spent so many yoga classes thinking I was the only one concealing mine.’   Oglethorpe adds, ‘By the time the class wound down, I no longer flinched during seated twists, even though I knew that the guy on my left was getting a not-so-flattering view of my backside, and that the one on the right, a straight shot of my boobs. After we said Namaste, I didn't rush to put my clothes back on but made small talk with my classmates before slowly getting dressed. As I walked out onto the street, I noticed how I was standing tall in a way that seemed different from the good posture you get post-yoga. Those body flaws I had always fixated on? At the start of class, I had been paying lip service to overcoming them, and yet I had actually shrugged them off. And I had a feeling that the next time I was in my birthday suit, they would bother me a lot less than usual. I felt beautiful and brave, and that confidence has stuck with me since.’
Five Ways to Maintain Your Independence after...
  Suffering a traumatic injury can be devastating for anyone. If you have suffered a traumatic injury, you understand that coming to terms with your injury and your limitations afterward can be difficult. However, a positive mind set can make all of the difference in the world. Maintaining your independence can improve your quality of life. There are five ways to maintain your independence after a traumatic injury.   Remodel Your Space One great way to ensure you can still move and operate independently in your own space is to remodel that space to suit your needs. If you are bound to a wheelchair or scooter, you may need to widen doorways or hallways, build ramps to your front entrance, or lower counters in your kitchen and bathroom. Once you can access the things you need on a daily basis, you can go about your daily life on your own.   Purchase and Install Aides If you still find that you need help around the house and feel dependent on others, you can purchase and install aides to help you. For example, you can buy rails to attach to the walls near the bed, toilet, or shower to help you get up and down. You can also purchase special chairs and beds that help you if your movement is limited. There are also technological aides available for people with difficulty hearing, speaking, or writing.   Seek Mobility Solutions One of the most important ways to maintain your independence is making sure you are mobile, so you can take care of yourself. Speak with your healthcare provider or doctor to find out which mobility solutions are right for you. You may need a motorized scooter, a wheelchair, or other support devices to help improve your mobility, which means you won't have to rely on anyone else for your basic needs. These are widely available from medical supply and mobility scooter stores.   Find a Meaningful Purpose To maintain your independence, it is important for you to have something positive to concentrate on during the course of your days. Find a meaningful purpose in life. This might be a job that you can do, even with your injury. If your traumatic injury keeps you from working, you might volunteer your time. Having a purpose keeps your focused, happy, and independent.   Know Your Limits Finally, to maintain independence, know your limits. If you need assistance, ask for help. While you may not want to be dependent on anyone, you can ask someone to help you find solutions you can do yourself. Instead of asking someone to help you climb stairs, ask someone to install a chair lift, so you can go by yourself. Refusing to acknowledge your limitations could result in further injury or a longer recovery process, setting you back on any progress you've made towards reclaiming your independence.   Informational Credit to Crossroads Mobility Solutions Ltd

Depression

Could Depression be Linked to Disease Resista...
Diseases such as cancer are thought to be best treated using both the body and the mind, in order to boost the immune system in every way. Our immune systems do far more than simply fend off the common cold. Social support, for example, can significantly improve a person’s condition and extend the life of a cancer patient. In studies looking at victims of cancer, researchers found that women who attended support groups lived twice as long as those who didn’t, on average. A study in Los Angeles at the University of California found that patients who had survived cancer for a minimum of five years and attended group therapy lived three times as long as those who didn’t attend any therapy sessions. It seems that relying on others to boost our mood when we’re ill could help us fight conditions and diseases far more effectively. When people are grieving, their T-cells and the natural killer cells in the body, both of which are important for defending the immune system, function far less effectively. By being supported and comforted by friends and family members, this aspect of the immune system may well be bolstered. However, people who are depressed and anxious may suffer the opposite effect.    

In a study involving 4825 healthy individuals, 146 of them were depressed. In those who had been depressed for a minimum of six years, the chances of developing cancer were far higher. This is thought to be because of the fact that this condition kills of the natural ‘killer’ cells, so the body doesn’t fight off diseases. This isn’t to say that depression can cause cancer, but it does signify that depression and related issues such as anxiety can lower one’s immunity to the disease. This makes it not only a risk for cancer, but also other diseases. There are however other theories that suggest that cancer may cause depression, with a study discovering that in 43 liver tumour patients there was a direct link between clinical depression and an immune modulator. The chemical which is released when our immune system fights cancer is the same substance that may trigger depression biologically. Although this may seem like bad news, it is actually the opposite. It provides researchers with new tools for treating cancer - it also highlights the link between the mind and other diseases. Taking the time to meditate and de-stress is important in order to strengthen the immune system, so that we can better fight off illnesses.

Leading a stress-free lifestyle as best you can is one of the best ways to fight off anxiety and depression. This means doing plenty of exercise, which can boost your mood and release endorphins to keep you happy, as well as eating a balanced diet that’s rich in brain-healthy foods. Oily fish, plenty of fruit and vegetables, and omega-rich nuts and seeds will ensure that you’re happy through your food. Take time to meditate and relax at least a few times a week, so that you don’t overload your mind with worries and stress - this can be anything from some alone time each week to spending time with friends and loved ones. Lowering your stress levels and ensuring you lead a healthy lifestyle will not only help to reduce the risk of depression but it will also stave off other health concerns such as heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. If you think you’re at risk of developing depression, or think you’re displaying signs of cancer, speak to your GP as soon as possible for advice on the situation.
You Have Options: Five Different Depression T...
The reason why mental health and wellness experts are adamant about defining depression as a medical issue – rather than a feeling – is that this means you can treat it. Seeing depression as an emotional problem means that it can keep you from living the life you want to, but you should not hesitate in seeking help, as there is a way out. There are plenty of treatment options if your wellbeing is affected by depression, so which will you pick to overcome the mental problem and reclaim your life?   1. Lifestyle changes: There are multiple steps you can take in your own life to reduce and even get rid of depression. These include:     2. Psychotherapy: As talk therapy gives you tools to treat problems from a variety of angles, it’s an extremely effective treatment for depression. Often, a blend of approaches is used to help you to move forward and prevent depression from returning. This blend includes cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. Through these practises, you can work through the root of your depression, and understand why you feel a certain way, what your triggers are for depression, and what you can do to stay healthy.   3. Medication: While medication may help relieve some of the symptoms of moderate and severe depression, it doesn’t cure the underlying problem, and it’s usually not a long-term solution. There are also side effects and withdrawal concerns surrounding antidepressant medications, so learning all the facts can help you make an informed decision as to whether this is the right choice for you. Your GP can prescribe antidepressants, but it’s wise to first explore your options with other mental health professionals who specialize in depression, so ask for a referral.   4. Vitamins and supplements: There is little evidence that proves how well herbal remedies, vitamins, or supplements work in treating depression. However, if a nutritional deficiency is partly to blame for your depression symptoms, you may benefit from vitamin supplements. If this is an avenue you choose to pursue, only take supplements on the advice of your healthcare professional and remember that they can have side effects and drug or food interactions. Make sure your doctor or therapist knows what you are taking.   5. Acupuncture:  Again, we’re still waiting on absolute scientific confirmation here, but some research studies are showing positive results for acupuncture being used as a treatment for depression. The key here is to make sure that you find a licensed qualified professional.