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Practice Makes Perfect
September 2011

Skills Satisfy Body and Soul

PracticeThe difference between a crafter wielding a glue gun obtained from a hobby store and a craftsperson hand-planing a piece of cherry wood to make fine furniture might seem wide, but “It is one of degree, not kind,” advises Monica Moses, editor-in-chief of American Craft magazine. Some people get schooling in their craft, while others are self-taught, with or without a mentor.

Sociologist Richard Sennett estimates that about 10,000 hours of experience are required to produce a master carpenter or musician. He observes in his book, The Craftsman, “As skill progresses, it becomes more problem-attuned, such as the lab technician worrying about procedure, whereas people with primitive levels of skill struggle just to get things to work. At its higher reaches, technique is no longer a mechanical activity; people can feel fully and think deeply about what they are doing, once they do it well.”

 
Tai Chi Can Turn Depression Around
September 2011

Try This Gentle Mind-Body Medicine

Tai_ChiArecent study published in the online edition of The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry reveals that more than 2 million people age 65 and older suffer from depression, including 50 percent of nursing home residents. In seeking an alternative to aggressive drug treatments, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), turned to a gentle, westernized version of Tai chi, a 2,000-year-old Chinese martial art.

During the study, 112 adults age 60 or older that had been diagnosed with major depression were treated with a standard antidepressant drug for four weeks. The 73 adults that showed only partial improvement continued to receive the medication, but were also assigned to 10 weeks of either Tai chi or health education classes. The group practicing Tai chi experienced greater improvement in their levels of depression, as well as an enhanced quality of life, better cognition and more overall energy than the non-practicing group.

Dr. Helen Lavretsky, the study’s first author and a UCLA professor-in-residence of psychiatry, says, “This study shows that adding a mind-body exercise like Tai chi, that is widely available in the community, can improve the outcomes of treating depression in older adults that may also have other, coexisting medical conditions or cognitive impairment. With Tai chi, we may be able to treat these conditions without exposing them to additional medications.”

 
Brew Aha
September 2011

Tempest in a Teapot

Tea_BagTea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water, and many drinkers prefer the convenience afforded by prepackaged individual servings. The remains, however, add up to 1,500 tons of landfill waste annually. At least there are things to do with an old tea bag before giving it the heave-ho, starting with some surprising natural health benefits.

- Try reusing a tea bag as a compress for bee stings, bug bites, sunburn and bruises. It will ease pain and reduce inflammation.

- Get rid of a plantar wart by pressing a wet, warmed tea bag directly onto the area for 10 to 15 minutes, then let the skin dry naturally. Repeat the treatment for a few days until the wart completely disappears.

 
Living Abroad Boosts Creativity
September 2011

Multicultural Learning Provides Inspiration

TravelingStudents that have lived abroad appear to be more creative than peers that haven’t had such an experience, according to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Enhanced creativity was linked directly to the students’ open-minded approach in adapting to a new culture in another country. Results indicated that multicultural learning is a critical component of the adaptation process, which acts as a catalyst for creativity.

 
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