• Re-evaluate your access control systems. Some buildings use finger biometrics for security reasons. These are easily replaced with card-controlled access systems which eliminate the risk posed by employees touching the same touchpad continuously.
• Automate your doors. Many doors have no closing mechanism which means staff must touch the handles. Automating doors with a door closer and a no-touch sensor button is an easy and unobtrusive step towards safety.
• Clear the clutter. Apart from having proven psychological benefits, a clean workspace will eliminate possible places for the virus to linger.
• Redesign the workspaces. Areas of top priority are worktops that are not hygiene friendly in reception areas and canteen areas, as well as sale points at retail spaces which should have sneeze guards.
• Have mobile hand sanitiser units at as many common touchpoints as possible for people to disinfect should they touch a shared space.
• Restructure open-plan layouts. The safest way to be in a shared space is to adhere to the 2m distancing as per the office quarantine solutions guidelines. Invest in mindful, sustainable technology for teams to restructure their collaborative meetings and team huddles, as well as information signage to keep all members of your company in contact and up to date.
We already know that a virus will survive on many surfaces that make up our office spaces and this means the potential risks for virus transmission in the workplace are everywhere.
And now, a few hours later, my brain feels a lot less sharp than usual. I have inadvertently bumped into one or two pieces of furniture, and my typos (as I attempt to write this) come thick and fast.
As a psychologist with a huge interest in brain health, I know that my clumsiness this morning is very likely to be a direct result of the disrupted, and thus poor quality, sleep I had last night.
And scientific studies show, unfortunately, that just one evening of poor quality sleep is enough to have a negative impact on many other less visible aspects of my functioning, including my immune system (as well as my microbiome and brain cells).
It seems that the main reason poor sleep has a negative impact on your immune system is because it disrupts your circadian rhythm which, in turn, triggers inflammation.
Circadian rhythms drive hormone, and other physiological, changes that cause us to move back and forth along a continuum of sleep and wakefulness throughout the 24-hour day. When your circadian rhythm is regularly disrupted by poor quality sleep, you become more prone to unhealthy chronic inflammation, and your immune system becomes compromised.
Going to bed at the same time and waking at the same time every day reinforces the healthy circadian rhythms that govern both our sleep and our immune function.
I describe a few habits below to improve your sleep hygiene and promote a better night's sleep in order to ensure a strong immune system. Bear in mind, that because your brain is somewhat unique in structure and function you should experiment a bit with all of these suggestions:
1. Create the conditions for quality sleep. These “conditions” are critical and start around mid-morning for many of us because what we do at this time of day can affect our sleep 10 hours later. Try to limit the following ‘inputs’ and see how this affects your quality of sleep:
- Caffeine is a crucial offender and blocks the brain’s sleep signal. It is found in: coffee, most ceylon teas, dark chocolate and some pharmaceutical drugs, e.g. weight loss pills and painkillers. Perhaps surprisingly, 50% of caffeine is still in your system 5 to 7 hours after you have drunk it, overriding your internal sleep cycles, so try to stop the caffeine intake about ten hours before bed.
- Electronic devices with LED screens also negatively affect the brain’s sleep signal. As the day wears on the sun’s light turns from predominantly blue light to predominantly yellow wavelength light. This causes your brain to start producing melatonin, the “sleep hormone” that makes you feel drowsy. LED screens, however, emit blue light, which stops the brain from producing and releasing melatonin.
So, turn off all electronic devices about 3 hours before bed-time. If this is just not possible, then ensure that you turn on the “dimmer switch” or choose the yellow light option on your smart phone and tablet. Also, bright light and/or cool white LED light, particularly in your bedroom, needs to be turned down or off.
- Food after 6:30pm can make it hard to fall asleep. Sugar-rich foods and heavy meals are especially problematic. The later you eat, the harder it becomes to achieve a full night of restful sleep. Also alcohol may help you to relax, but it will often impact your quality of sleep.
2. Develop a consistent evening routine. This is another crucial aspect of your “sleep hygiene” because it helps to ensure a long, deep night’s rest.
- Go to bed at about the same time every night. Set a bedtime alarm if you need to. Most adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Listen to your circadian rhythm, which essentially means determining whether you are a morning or an evening person. Then time your eight hours sleep to suit your body’s rhythm.
- Write a “to do” list for the next day, especially if the stress of your current situation is keeping you from falling asleep quickly. By doing this, you are essentially “downloading” your internal “worry programme”, before you shut your eyes.
- Sleep in the dark. Heavy curtains, Blackout blinds and not even one dim bedside lamp. Even a low lamp will delay the production and release of sleep-inducing melatonin.
- Cool your room. Your body temperature needs to drop two to three degrees to fall asleep. An ideal room temperature is between 15C and 19C (i.e. 65F).
- Cool your body by having a hot shower or bath. It’s not the water’s heat that makes you sleepy, but your body temperature dropping after you get out of the tub.
- Get into bed with enough time to fully relax. Take five or more deep breaths and consciously relax the muscles throughout your whole body lying on your mattress.
- Listen to a guided meditation once in bed and while your eyes are closed to help release stress, and/or take natural supplements to reduce anxiety and promote sleep.
Bear in mind that emotional stress, such as that accompanying the current uncertainties, is a common obstacle to sleep. And, in turn, not getting enough sleep makes us more vulnerable to the physical and emotional effects of stress. It can become a very difficult, and debilitating, cycle.
Now, more than ever, getting quality sleep is important for reducing your stress and supporting your immune system.
Crossways is a family friendly local pub situated at the start of the beautiful midlands meander.
Then share it with the other locals.
NEW VENUE - We have been given permission to use the vacant parking lot on Pin Oak Lane below the Lower Quarry. Here is the link to a Google Maps Pin: https://maps.google.com?q=-29.5594434,30.3023143&hl=en-ZA&gl=za
The collection time will be 3:30pm. There is no collection time window.
Remain in your car for the duration of the collection. Each producer will pre-pack your order and place it in your boot or back seat. It would be great if you have a crate or cooler box in your car that orders can be placed in.
This is strictly a COLLECTION. Only orders will be available for collection. We need to try and keep all the cars moving to avoid congestion and backing up in to Pin Oak Lane.
No payments on collection. EFT or other digital payments must be arranged with each producer prior to collection.
Strict hygiene regulations apply. We insist that everyone (consumers & producers) wear a face mask.
You’re sitting at home wondering “what next, what do I do, what’s this virus all about?”
Bombarded with messages on all platforms and media, you’re befuddled.
What’s true and what’s not? What’s fake news?
‘Fake news’ has been around a while. But what does it mean when we’re communicating about the coronavirus – COVID-19 and how does it affect our interpretations and how do we respond to it?
Is it propaganda, deception, misrepresentation or just plain you-know-what?
All of the above. Definitions of fake or hoax news include: “false information, published under the guise of being authentic news, to mislead and spread misinformation via social networks and word-of-mouth,”and “completely made up news designed to deceive readers to maximize traffic and profit. News satire uses exaggeration and introduces non-factual elements, but intended to amuse or make a point, not deceive. Propaganda can also be fake news.”
According to Mind Tools, there are two kinds of fake news:
1. Stories that aren’t true: deliberately invented stories designed to make people believe something false, to buy a certain product, or to visit a certain website.
2. Stories that have some truth, but aren’t 100 percent accurate: biased, and aimed to convince readers of a certain political or ideological viewpoint.
There are also people who claim that factually accurate stories are fake news, just because they don’t agree with them or find them uncomfortable. Trump perhaps?
Where Does Fake News Come From?
Getting info from Social media
What is new is how easy it’s become to share information – both true and false – on a massive scale. Social media platforms allow almost anyone to publish their thoughts or share stories to the world. But the trouble is, most people don’t check the source of the material that they view online before they share it, which can lead to fake news spreading quickly and going viral.
At the same time, it’s become harder to identify the source of news stories, particularly on the internet, which can make it difficult to assess their accuracy. But not all fake news stories are found online. Friends, family and colleagues who gossip and share or publish info without checking their facts, for example, are also guilty of spreading misinformation, even if inadvertently.
Hunt says, “These stories – compelling to click on, and with a “truthiness” quality to them – soar on the social web, where links are given the same weighting regardless of source, and particularly on Facebook where there is a potential audience of 1.8bn.”
“There are activists out there, it’s the same thing as people setting fires. Some of these people are trying to stir up emotions; in other cases, it’s just sheer stupidity.
“The same people who buy into conspiracy theories are the best breeding ground [for sharing fake news].”
Should we be worried about fake news?
You darn right we should be afraid, very afraid, especially at a time of uncertainty, fear and anxiety when people are reaching out for facts and reassurance.
William Bird, director of Media Monitoring Africa, told News24 there had been a significant spike in fake news and conspiracy theories since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
“This kind of thing is increasing. That specific complaint [about the contaminated swabs] was submitted to us several times. There are also several illegitimate WhatsApp voice notes being distributed. People are sending them around in the hope that they sound a whole lot more compelling [than they are] or that they connect with people – it’s a similar thing with videos.
Bird said fake messages were in the past predominantly shared on open platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, which made it easier to control, but that there has been a predominant shift to WhatsApp, where it is much harder to track or monitor.
“Some people make statements that are just fundamentally misinformed because they haven’t applied their brains or logic, so there is some level of ignorance. But some of them are deliberately seeking to deceive people and instil fear or get people to distrust things.”
Social media lawyer, Emma Sadleir, said that, as much as we are facing a health epidemic, we are also facing a fake news epidemic. “Whenever emotions are heightened, it creates a breeding ground for fake news. In some cases, these spreaders of fake news seek to profit from it, while others are using it for political gain, particularly when they have a specific narrative.”
Referring to the man who posted the testing swab video, Sadleir said his Facebook page was filled with various conspiracy theories and misinformation. [Follow the Stephen Birch case where he was prosecuted for a post that claimed the DoH’s testing kits were contaminated.]
“I think when it comes to the regulations of the Disaster Management Act, and the intention to deceive, we have to read in there dolus eventualis – where there is recklessness with regards to the truth, you’ve made that requirement of intention to deceive, which is a criminal offence that should come with a prison sentence or a fine. I believe that they are going to make a test case out of this guy.”
Sadleir warned people not to share information unless they are 100% sure that the source is credible, and the information has been verified.
Social media expert, Arthur Goldstuck, believes fake news completely destroys public discourse and undermines democratic values: “Anyone who participates in this in order to advance their objectives should realise the long-term damage. It ultimately renders everything they put out untrustworthy.” He believes there should be consequences and prosecutions.
‘Do the crime, do the time’
National police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo previously told News24: “People mustn’t think that they can post these videos and fake news and think they can get away with it. We have the capacity and capability of tracing them. If they want to do the crime, they must be prepared to do the time.”
So, how do you tell what is fake news?
Surely, it’s easy to tell fake news from real news? Actually, no, it’s not. People are too quick to assume that if it’s on social media and Whatsapp, it’s true.
A study by Stanford’s Graduate School of Education assessed more than 7,800 student responses on their ability to assess information sources. Researchers were shocked by students’ “stunning and dismaying” inability to evaluate information at even as basic a level as distinguishing advertisements from articles (from The Guardian article by Elle Hunt).
Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to separate fake news from the truth.
It’s vital to know how to separate the real from the fake. According to Mind Tools, you can do this by following these six steps:
1. Develop a critical mindset.
2. Check the source.
3. See who else is reporting the story.
4. Examine the evidence.
5. Look for fake images.
6. Check that it “sounds right.”
There are several fact-checking websites dedicated to assessing the credibility of stories, like www.snopes.com and africacheck.org And people are encouraged to report fake news to real411.org. It gets reviewed by experts and then action is taken.
Facebook also may flag stories of questionable legitimacy with an alert that says “Disputed by 3rd party fact-checkers”.
Melissa Zimdars, a professor at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, compiled a list of websites (https://www.dailydot.com/debug/fake-news-sites-list-facebook/) that either purposely publish false information or are otherwise entirely unreliable.
And what can we do to stop its spread?
Don’t spread fake news.
We need to be smarter at recognising and combating news that is fabricated especially around a topic as seriously impactful as COVID-19.
“Share responsibly”, says Hunt, “you are an influencer within your own social network: put in the legwork, and only post or share stories you know to be true, from sources you know to be responsible. You can help shape the media you want, too. Withhold “hate-clicking” on stories you know are designed to make you angry”.
Rely on the words of The World Health Organisation (WHO), The Department of Health, Registered, verified and accredited researchers and health professionals and news organizations. Engage responsibly with social media and only pay for journalism and news that have real value.
News supplied by Real Communication Consulting.
How to reduce Edition 6 with Alistair Mork-Chadwick - Are you experiencing chronic Emotional Stress?
Apart from battling to sleep well when I experience emotional stress, (which causes me to feel tired, irritable and even more stressed the next day… which leads to more problems sleeping) I am very aware that if I allow my emotional stress to continue unchecked then it will trigger chronic inflammation within my brain and body.
At a biological level, research clearly shows that your body and brain will respond to mental and emotional stress as they would to a harmful pathogen, or to a direct physical threat, such as a mugger confronting you, with a “fight or flight” (stress) response.
Brief exposure to a difficult situation, as sometimes happens during the course of one’s day, results in a short-lived, i.e. acute, stress response. These moments of emotional stress may result in a temporary inflammatory process being triggered, but they are unlikely to have a long-lasting negative effect on your health or immune system.
It is when you experience ongoing or prolonged periods of emotional stress, such as most of us have experienced over the past month, that chronic inflammation is triggered and the functioning of one’s immune system becomes compromised.
So, two important questions to ask yourself now are: To what extent am I prone to experiencing chronic emotional stress? And, to what extent have I been experiencing chronic emotional stress during the lockdown?
Over time, chronic emotional stress creates chronic, systemic, low-grade inflammation that not only compromises the functioning of our immune system but makes us more vulnerable to almost every chronic health problem known to science, including depression, Alzheimers disease, various cancers, diabetes, and a multitude of auto-immune conditions.
What is absolutely critical to understand and acknowledge is that it is most often your thoughts about a difficult situation that will cause you to experience chronic emotional stress.
Consider where your thoughts have taken you when you have worked for an unreasonable boss, have had financial difficulties, or have suffered a chronic health problem. Consider where your thoughts have taken you over the past month. In each of these ongoing difficult situations, it is quite possible that you have found yourself regularly thinking about the situation and, as a direct consequence, experiencing some level of ongoing anxiety, worry, frustration and/or other unpleasant emotion.
This is chronic emotional stress, and it results in the ongoing release of the stress hormone cortisol and other chemicals that trigger and maintain chronic inflammatory processes within your brain and body and have negative effects on both mental and physical health.
So, how can you reduce chronic emotional stress effectively? Well, ongoing difficult situations will trigger your habitual ways of dealing with the unpleasant emotions, including thoughts and feelings, that arise within you. These are the habits of thinking and feeling that each of us has developed over the course of our lives.
These habits may be thought of as your “autopilot” reactions, and may involve a habitual avoiding or blocking of the difficult inner experiences (of thinking and feeling).
An equally common autopilot reaction involves getting caught up in the difficult thoughts and feelings (and unpleasant physical sensations). The habit of ruminating is an example of this.
What most people do not know, is that whether you avoid thinking about an ongoing difficult situation and/or ruminate upon it, the chronic stress response is still very much in operation!
So, you may be asking: what is the alternative? Well, it may sound counter-intuitive, but the acceptance of the unpleasant feelings and thoughts that arise within us all is an alternative response that has, in fact, been proven to be far more effective in limiting emotional stress.
The most well-researched and most effective approach to accepting difficult emotions is what has been termed a mindful approach to emotional stress reduction. As such, I would like to encourage you to experiment with this mindful approach to by taking one or more of the mental steps listed below to calm yourself when faced with a difficult situation:
1. Remind yourself that emotional stress involves three separate but closely linked inner experiences; difficult feelings (e.g. of anxiety or frustration), unpleasant thoughts, and uncomfortable body sensations (e.g. butterflies in one’s tummy).
2. Recognise that your unpleasant inner experiences are normal and natural human reactions to difficult situations.
3. Note your autopilot reaction to these inner experiences, perhaps to try to avoid them and/or to get caught up in them, which often involves rumination.
4. Accept your difficult thoughts, feelings and body sensations as temporary experiences. (This step generally requires that you release your previous autopilot reaction/s.)
5. Hold your difficult thoughts, feelings and body sensations in your awareness while breathing deeply and slowly. (This quickly deactivates and calms the “stress centre’ in your brain called the Amygdala.)
Keep an eye open for my next newsletter delivered to your inbox in a few day’s time.
News supplied by Alistair Mork-Chadwick (Psychologist).
Focusing on Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas, Porky’s People, has created a campaign on donations based crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy, to support as many families as possible with food and other essential items during the lockdown.
Honoring social distancing guidelines, funds raised by their campaign will be converted into digital food vouchers that can be redeemed at any local Shoprite supermarket.
The campaign went live on the 19th of April 2010 and has thus far raised a total of R3 848.00 with contributions from 16 donors.
“With our campaign, we will do our best to help as many people as possible on a first-come, first-serve basis. We hope the public will join us in raising funds as we strive to overcome this global pandemic.” – Porky’s co-founder, Theresa Pienaar
The platform also welcomes donations in the form of food parcels, if any individuals or small businesses would like to join their efforts to feed vulnerable families during this time.
With kind donations from Joey’s Breakdown Services, Car Towing PMB and ABC Towing, Porky’s has thus far managed to feed 20 families. Any businesses wanting to get involved, can reach out to Porky’s here: https://form.jotform.com/201083991673561
“During this uncertain and unprecedented time, we need to look to our communities and lend a helping hand where we can. While we are physically apart, we are still connected and have the possibility to create meaningful change. Alone we can’t do much, together we can change the world.” – Porky’s co-founder, Zane Groenewald.
Support Porky’s People in feeding vulnerable families in Pietermaritzburg, by making a donation here: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/feeding-pietermaritzburg
Please note: Funds raised will be administered by BackaBuddy NPC and transferred directly to Shoprite for its intended purpose.
And although running is my favourite way of obtaining a regular dose of exercise and a big energy boost, I am finding it very difficult to muster the enthusiasm and motivation that is required to run around (and around) the garden for 30 minutes each morning!
I am just grateful, in an ironic sort of way, for the fact that the very gradual but insidious deterioration that is now slowly unfolding within my body as a direct result of my inactivity is invisible to me. And, of course, herein lies a key danger for those of us who, like me, have not yet found a regular way to keep active during this lockdown period.
Recent scientific research has shown that a lack of physical activity has a negative impact on immune system functioning. This is because of the chronic, systemic inflammation that starts to take place within your body and brain when you don’t regularly exercise. And this process happens slowly and silently and you can't feel it happening until it is often too late.
Inflammation is part of the body's immune response. The body sees a problem such as stress, injury, or foreign invaders (such as bacteria or viruses) and enacts this response as a defense. Whether this is beneficial or not depends on the type of inflammation and how much time the body remains in that state.
Acute inflammation is short-term, with effects subsiding after a few days. It occurs in response to things like minor injuries (e.g. cuts, scrapes, sprains) and minor sicknesses (sore throats, etc). Damaged body tissues rely on this type of inflammatory response in order to heal.
Chronic inflammation (which is almost always systemic inflammation) is long-term, persistent, and unhealthy, even if it is only low-grade. When this process does not resolve, the immune system is compromised and health issues emerge, including almost all age-related, and chronic, diseases.
In each situation, the number of white blood cells is increased in order to accelerate healing.
In chronic inflammation, white blood cell activity is increased more than necessary, however, and remains elevated for long periods of time. This prolonged state of emergency can trigger disease processes, causing lasting damage to heart, brain, and other organs. It also slows recovery, and negatively impacts your immune system thus increasing rates of infection and sickness. Your own defenses literally bombard you with “friendly fire”.
Not only does exercise decrease the levels of certain proteins, such as cytokines, involved in chronic inflammation but activity also keeps your body and organ systems in optimal health.
A lack of physical activity means that all of your organ systems, including your musculoskeletal system (involving your muscles and bones), your cardiovascular system (involving your heart, lungs and blood vessels), your gastrointestinal system (involving your stomach, intestines and related organs), and your endocrine system (involving your hormones and the glands that produce them), quickly start to falter and leave you more vulnerable to infectious diseases.
With little or no activity:
- All muscles in your body, including your heart, start to atrophy. A weak heart means that it's harder for your cells to get oxygen.
- Your blood vessels become thicker and less flexible, while your blood becomes stickier, increasing your blood pressure and your risk for a blood clot.
- Your muscle cells start using less insulin, and the binding sites for it start to disappear. As a result, your body becomes less responsive to the hormone, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
- Your circadian rhythm, which is enhanced through exercise, becomes disrupted which, in turn, interferes with your sleep cycle and causes sleep problems.
However, just as inactivity promotes chronic inflammation so exercise reduces it. And research suggests that only 20 minutes of moderate exercise is all that you need in order to experience the wide range of positive consequences, of which an improved immune system is but one.
Researchers have shown that exercise improves your body’s anti-inflammatory response by activating the sympathetic nervous system. This works to increase heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, which helps your body keep up.
During this time your body releases adrenaline and other hormones into the bloodstream which activate the immune cells. And just a 20-minute session of exercise is enough to suppress the production of inflammatory cytokines.
This is very good news for all those people with reduced strength or mobility who are intimidated by the thought that physical exercise needs to be intense and for a long duration.
So, if you have been inactive, you will need to start slowly. You can keep adding more exercise gradually. The more you can do, the better… But just do what you can. Eventually, your goal can be to get the recommended amount of exercise for your age and health.
Below are just some of the many different ways to get exercise at home; try to find the types that are most enjoyable / do-able for you:
• Housework and gardening are all physical work. To increase the intensity, simply do them at a more vigorous pace.
• Keep moving while you watch TV. Lift hand weights, do some yoga stretches, or pedal an exercise bike (if you have one).
• Work out at home with a workout video (on your TV or on the internet).
• Stand up when talking on the phone.
• If you do not have exercise equipment then perhaps you may be able to substitute household items for equipment such as yoga balls, exercise mats, stretch bands, and hand weights.
Bekker says, “To make it through this pandemic and to prevent total economic collapse, regular South African consumers must continue to make their payments to businesses. SME’s are the heart of our economy and employ millions of South Africans who still need salaries.”
• The annual turnover of your business must be less than 20 million rand
• Your accounts and tax must be paid up to date including payments for March
• Your business must be in good standing with the bank
• The payment holiday does not include payments on which your business has already fallen behind.
The role the UCSI is playing in our community is invaluable. The support offered to SAPS and Law Enforcement is critical in monitoring who is moving in and out of our areas. The UCSI also plays a fundamental role in helping “clean-up” databases. No matter how small the contribution – it all matters and makes a difference.
Please join the UCSI as a contributing member. The UCSI will not be sustainable without monthly community support from business entities, shopping centres, hospitals, schools, estates, security companies and private individuals.
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