How to Talk Politics with Angry Loved Ones Who Disagree with You.

How to Talk Politics with Angry Loved Ones Who Disagree with You.

Millions of people will sit down at the Thanksgiving table this week across from family members on the opposite side of the political divide. If talk turns to the election, it could easily become a testy turkey day.
Yet these are people we care about. Isn’t there a way to communicate that allows both sides to be heard without further tearing our relationships apart?

Absolutely, experts say. Here are eight suggestions on how to bridge the gap.

Ask yourself: Why am I doing this?
“In terms of deciding whether or not you want to have a conversation with somebody across political lines, it is important to be aware of what your own motivations are,” said Tania Israel, author of “Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide: Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work.”

“If your goal is to change the other person’s mind in one conversation, you’re going to be really disappointed, because you’re not likely to be that effective,” cautioned Vaile Wright, American Psychological Association’s senior director of health care innovation.

It can help to keep your relationship with that other person top of mind, suggests Jacksonville, Florida, clinical psychologist Nina Silander, who has written about the lack of conservative views in the field of psychology.

“Think about why it is you care about this person, or why you like them or appreciate them,” Silander said. That can soften your response and help you “better articulate your perspective and lend credence to their viewpoint.”

Try curiosity first
Avoid approaching the exchange with a list of talking points or facts in mind, experts suggest. Instead, you want to ask questions and truly understand the response.

“The most important thing you can do is to listen to the other person,” advised Israel, a professor in the department of counseling, clinical and school psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

To do that, enter the conversation with simple curiosity, she advised.

“Being curious about where they’re coming from and trying to understand where they’re coming from helps set people’s expectations (about the outcome of the talk) more appropriately,” Israel said.

Be prepared to listen, not talk
To do that, you may have to learn and practice some new (or rusty) skills, the type taught in marriage counseling, for example.

Repeating back what you think you heard and asking questions are techniques known to elicit clarifications, as your loved one realizes either they misspoke or you misunderstood.

“Minimizing misunderstanding is incredibly important — repeating back what we think we’ve heard, asking questions to clarify, looking and really striving for opportunities to share and find common ground can go a long way,” Silander said.

“It helps you to really listen if you know that you’re going to need to summarize,” Israel added. “It’s also going to help them to feel more understood, and that’s going to help to create that connection and keep the entire conversation on a calmer level.”

Go a step further and acknowledge the other position, Silander suggests.

“Trying to understand someone else’s position, or trying to see the world through their eyes is what we call in developmental psychology, ‘theory of mind.’ It’s something we learn to do as older infants or toddlers, understanding that other people can see things differently,” Silander said.

Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements is another important way to facilitate dialogue, Wright said.

“For example, you could say ‘I have a lot of concerns about this election, and how it might affect health care because I have a preexisting condition.’ Keep it about you and your feelings and about the policies, not the people,” Wright added.

Experts CNN spoke to point out that these skills not only will help better our dialogue across political lines, but in our daily lives as well.

“They’re also going to help us to be better parents, better partners, better community members and coworkers,” Wright said.

Beware the minefield of human nature
Expect to feel an emotional flare-up when you hear things you don’t like. It’s part of being human, an ancient and automatic reaction to any perceived threat to our well-being.

“It turns out that our bodies don’t necessarily know the difference between the saber-toothed tiger and a shocking news event or a heated conversation with another person,” Israel said.

Our sympathetic nervous system goes into action when we perceive a threat, flooding the body with adrenaline and other stress hormones. Key signs of that reaction can be a racing heart, tense muscles, even a flushed face.

“We are ready to fight or to run away from the threat,” Israel said.

Such reactions to politics can even harm our health, research has found.

The hospitalization rate for heart attack and stroke in a major California health system was 1.62 times higher in the two days immediately after the 2016 presidential election than the same two days the week before, a study released in late October said.

“This is a wake-up call,” said study author David Williams, chair of the department of social and behavioral sciences and a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a statement.

“We need to pay greater attention to the ways in which stress linked to political campaigns, rhetoric and election outcomes can directly harm health.”

Ground yourself
It’s possible to interrupt our natural tendency to become stressed and anxious by using grounding techniques as soon as we feel ourselves tensing, psychologists say.

‘”We can do deep breathing,” Israel said. “We can physically ground ourselves by noticing the feeling of the chair underneath us or by touching our own arm and paying attention to that.”

Set yourself up for success by making sure you’re in top mental shape for the conversation, Wright suggests.

“It’s not great to have these conversations at the end of a long, hard day, or when people have been drinking or a situation where you’re not as emotionally in control as as you’d like to be,” she warned.

Beware of tribal urges
It’s natural for people to want to be in groups with similar viewpoints, or to “find our tribe,” experts say.

“During an election year, we can become rather tribal, and that can be inflamed by media, it can be flamed by special interest groups, and it caters to our own human nature,” Silander said.

“The people media choose for spokespeople usually are more extreme in their views, but it’s also our basic psychology that we tend to have these distorted perceptions of people who we see as being different from ourselves,” Israel said.

This instinctual feeling of “us versus them” intensifies with divisive rhetoric, Wright said, which can lead us to label people in ways that make it difficult to find common ground.

“It isn’t just that you and I have differences on how the educational system should run,” Wright said. “It becomes ‘You don’t care about teachers, you don’t care about kids.’ It becomes not about the issue, but about you as a person and your values.”

Try to find common ground
To combat that, Silander suggests learning about the fundamental value differences between liberals and conservatives in an objective and considerate way.

“It really enables us to better understand and empathize with one another,” Silander said. “And we can start to see that maybe we often share concerns that are more similar in nature than we would have thought, even if we disagree with what solutions to those concerns would look like.”

As an example, Silander points to civil rights issues as a way for liberals to try to understand why some conservatives believe mandates to wear masks are an infringement on personal liberties.

“The underlying theme or principle can at least be one way to relate even if we disagree,” she said.

Join a group and practice
Practice makes perfect, as they say. Over the last four years, groups of people dedicated to bringing political opposites together have sprung up around the country.

Joining a training — such as those offered by The Better Arguments Project — can jump-start your skills for that all-important talk with a loved one.

“The concept of a better argument is really all about caring more about one another than we do about our opinion on a specific subject,” explained Caroline Hopper, managing director of the Citizenship & American Identity Program at The Aspen Institute, which oversees the program along with The Allstate Corporation and educational nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves.

If we politely ignore our differences — especially with those closest to us — we are “giving up our public discourse, our family discourse, to the voices that are the most polarized,” Hopper said.

“We’re not going to be able to seek any kind of informed solutions together because we’re not getting the full scope of information that we need,” she added.

“To make our democracy work, we really need to be engaged with each other,” Silander said. “I honestly think we are stronger If we can find ways of listening to each other and connecting and working together. I hope that we will take those opportunities no matter what the outcome of the election is.”

Contributor: Sandee LaMotte, CNN Health

Spicy Peppers May Help You Live Longer, Preliminary Research Finds

Spicy Peppers May Help You Live Longer, Preliminary Research Finds

Reader, if you’re anything like me, life without spicy food is not a life worth living. You binge Hot Ones and daydream about what the sauces taste like and whether you’d be able to handle the last dab. You live for that temporary panic, that “oh crap” moment when you’ve added too much wasabi to your sushi and suddenly your nasal passages are ablaze. You tried the fire noodles your roommate brought back from their mid-Quarantine shopping trip from Brooklyn to K Town and ate the remaining package for dinner on a Tuesday, despite the pain of it all.

Although at moments, your stomach may hate your penchant for heat, eating spicy foods may actually do a body good, according to preliminary research, according to a report from the American Heart Association. The early information, which is set to be presented at the organization’s Scientific Sessions 2020 showed, among other things, that those who eat chili peppers may live longer lives, with decreased risk of cardiovascular issues or cancer.

While previous studies have shown that the spicy fruit’s capsaicin has positive health effects, including its “anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer and blood-glucose regulating effect,” researchers analyzed 4,728 studies, which included over 570,000 health records, to come to this conclusion, The Independent reported.

“We were surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all cause, CVD and cancer mortality. It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health,” Bo Xu, who is the senior author of the study and works as a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute said of the findings. Despite these positive indicators is a caveat.

The exact reasons and mechanisms that might explain our findings, though, are currently unknown. Therefore, it is impossible to conclusively say that eating more chili pepper can prolong life and reduce deaths, especially from cardiovascular factors or cancer. More research, especially evidence from randomized controlled studies, is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.

Although the jury may still be out, I’m going to treat myself to a bag of hot chips anyways — after all, I am a female born after 1993. It’s one of the few things I know.

Contributor: Carly Tennes:

4 Benefits of Adding Baking Soda to Your Coffee

4 Benefits of Adding Baking Soda to Your Coffee

Even the best “high quality” dark roasts can make an acidic cup of coffee, though cheaper blends are notorious for being overly acidic. And acid can be hard on a sensitive stomach, particularly if you enjoy more than one cup of coffee a day. So how does baking soda improve an acidic cup of Joe?

Even the best coffee beans produce acid

Beyond using it as a natural cleaning agent to remove stains for your coffee pot, some believe that baking soda can actually improve the taste of coffee. It’s no secret that coffee can be a tad acidic. But for many, giving up their morning cup of coffee is not an option. And truthfully, with science continuing to study coffee and the many benefits it provides, it’s easy to see why coffee lovers would never want to give up their morning cup of brew. Yet, if drinking coffee is contributing to excess stomach acid and causing you digestive upset, then you’re probably thinking you’d be better off without. Think again.

According to Harvard Health, coffee drinking is associated with a lower risk of depression among women, a lower risk of fatal prostate cancer among men, and a lower risk of stroke among both men and women. Human and animal studies show some protection against Alzheimer’s disease and a lower risk for some cancers like estrogen-negative breast cancer.

Coffee is fairly acidic on a pH scale Coffee has a pH of five, and baking soda can help neutralize it. Acidity is something that’s measured on the pH scale, which uses 7.0 as an indicator of neutrality. So, numbers under seven as are naturally more acidic than numbers above seven. For instance, according to Science Buddies, battery acid is zero. Clearly, that’s highly acidic. Lemon juice registers at about two, and black coffee registers at a pH of about five. But rather than kicking your “acidic” coffee habit — and there are clearly good reasons to keep drinking coffee — why not neutralize the acid in your brew?

Helps neutralize an acidic cup of coffee

In water, baking soda is mildly alkaline and can be used to neutralize acid. That’s why, when it dissolves in water, it works well as a natural antacid remedy. Its alkalinity is also why it makes a great deodorizer — by countering slightly acidic scent molecules. On the pH scale baking soda registers as a nine.

That means by simply adding a little baking soda to your coffee you could neutralize the acid to avoid stomach upset. There’s two way you can do that. You can add about a quarter teaspoon to your coffee beans for a pot of coffee, or you can add just a pinch (small pinch) to your cup of coffee.

Helps acid reflux or GERD

Research shows that baking soda can counteract acid reflux. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee exacerbate gastroesophageal reflux according to a German study. However, coffee creates more reflux than simply caffeine added to water. This suggests that other components of coffee contribute to acid reflux. A small pinch of baking soda can help counteract acid reflux.

May help relieve gout

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. It develops in some people who have high levels of uric acid in the blood. The acid can form painful needle-like crystals in a joint and cause severe episodes of pain, tenderness, redness, warmth and swelling.

Due to baking soda’s pH neutralizing effects, it may help lower uric acid levels. According to baking soda introduced to the blood alkalinizes it, causing the uric acid structures to break up. Then, they can easily filter out the kidneys and expel through the urine. Add a pinch to your coffee or more as needed.

If you suffer from ulcers, baking soda can help

Since baking soda neutralizes stomach acid, it can help make coffee drinking more bearable if you suffer from a stomach ulcer. Add a quarter to a half teaspoon to your coffee grounds.

Let’s break down baking soda

Most of the baking soda in America comes from Wyoming. While most of us often keep a box baking soda in the house for baking, as a deodorizer for the fridge, or as a natural cleaning alternative (and now for neutralizing acidic coffee), some still aren’t sure what exactly baking soda is. So, let’s break it down.

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a chemical salt that occurs naturally as the mineral nahcolite. This is a soft, colorless or white carbonate mineral. Nahcolite was first described in 1928 when it was found in a lava tunnel at Mount Vesuvius, Italy. NaHCO3, as it’s known chemically, contains sodium (NA), hydrogen (H) and carbonate (CO).

Baking soda in North America

So, where does America get its baking soda from? Well, most baking soda in the U.S. comes from Green River, Wyoming. According to Arm & Hammer, the baking soda from Green River is mined from trona ore. Trona deposits were molded over four million years ago after the evaporation of great salt lakes in Wyoming. Trona also comes from Kenya, Egypt, Venezuela and the deserts of Central Asia. After it’s mined, it’s heated to make soda ash, which is then dissolved in water. When carbon dioxide bubbles under pressure through the solution, sodium bicarbonate is formed.

Side effects of baking soda

Now that you know all about baking soda, let’s talk about how to use it properly. Although larger quantities of baking soda have been used to remedy indigestion, in much the same way antacids are used, you can still go overboard and risk side effects. Drinking baking soda is like drinking salt water. It’s extremely high in sodium and will raise your blood pressure. And too much sodium is linked to kidney and heart issues in healthy people.

And of course, too much baking soda in your coffee can leave you with a less than tasty cup that leaves you with a soapy taste in your mouth. Generally, to reduce the acidic nature of coffee, just a small pinch is all you need. Enjoy!

Contributor: Katherine Marko: The Alternative

5 Surprising Ways People Are Coping During the Pandemic

5 Surprising Ways People Are Coping During the Pandemic

Claremont Colonic Clinic
Every year, World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10. This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, has been uniquely stressful and taxing on mental health. Still, people have found surprising ways of coping during the shutdowns and the economic crisis that have improved mental health and wellness.

1. Baking Bread
When “Stay-at-Home” orders were first issued, people began making bread. People magazine named bread-making the number one viral quarantine trend. The hobby became so popular that bakeware, yeast and flour were sold out for months online and in grocery stores, USA Today and The Guardian reported.

“Stress baking” can help steer thoughts away from worrying about the future by demanding present attention and mindfulness, The Guardian reported. Bread-making also forces people to slow down because it is time-consuming, the report said. It is calming and meditative through the rolling, kneading and mixing. That tangibility is grounding in a world that otherwise has largely gone virtual, The Guardian reported.

2. Picking Out Pets
Pet adoptions and sales have soared during the pandemic, Fox News reported. Fostering dogs made People’s top 5 for most viral quarantine hobbies, and AP News reported shortages in many places of pets to rescue. One New York non-profit helping to place fosters has seen an increase from about 140 applications for adoptions per month at this time last year to around 3,000 during the pandemic, the report said. The constant companionship, love and affection between a pet and its owner has taken on more importance during the pandemic. Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) cited a survey of pet owners, 74% of whom reported mental health improvements from pet ownership. Pets can also help instill routine into an otherwise confused, upturned daily life, U.S. News & World Report reported, and caring for something helps give people a sense of purpose that can stave away anxiety and depression.

3. Planting Through the Pandemic
People have turned to home gardening and buying seeds during the pandemic as a “soothing, family-friendly hobby” to do, Reuters reported. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) listed gardening as one of the home design trends that emerged from the pandemic. Seed demand typically rises in tough economic times as people try to plan against food scarcity and economic hardship, Tom Johns, owner of Territorial Seed Company in Oregon, told Reuters. Caring for a garden brings many mental health benefits, CNN reported. It can give a sense of accomplishment, community and belonging, and help people remain connected to nature, even while stuck at home. Being surrounded by green or even just looking at it is linked to less anxiety and depression and better stress management, Psychology Today reported.

4. Home Organizing Is Happening
Being at home with so much extra time has also inspired many to reorganize their homes. With home offices and virtual classrooms jammed into existing spaces, the need to maintain “liveable space” has made decluttering a necessity during the pandemic, a personal blog on the trend said.

“When there’s lots of clutter, you lose control over your physical environment, which is very defeating and can bring on stress, depression, or anxiety,” Catherine Roster, a professor studying the effect of clutter on our psychological well-being, told Everyday Health. On the flip side, decluttering can help restore a lost sense of control and reduce stress and depression.

Decluttering, aside from being energizing, also creates confidence and efficacy, Psychology Today reported.

5. Learning a New Language
In March, U.S. sign-ups for the language-learning app Duolingo grew 148%, reported Business Insider. Other similar technologies have also experienced a boom in interest since the shutdowns, Forbes reported, and investment in the sector has increased.

“We’ve seen evidence of many people taking up language learning during this period of isolation and quarantine as a means of self-improvement,” Duolingo’s Michaela Kron told Business Insider. “Learning a new language comes with numerous benefits, including cognitive ones such as improved memory and social ones such as connecting better with others.”

Not only does learning a new language provide a productive outlet, but it can combat anxiety and depression, Language Network USA reported. It also can boost confidence, increase multitasking skills and open your mind, Language Network USA reported.

Contributor: Tiffany