Categories
anxiety Community happiness health Help ignorance knowledge Offers research Special Guest stereotype stress struggle

(48) Research on HEALTH: dementia.

… and so I went to the Brightland Campus in Heerlen. You will hear more about it in the international news, just give it some time. It was my second visit at one of it’s centers, BISS Institute and I already fell in love with it. It reminds me about the Dutch Central Statistics Bureau: innovative, large spaces, new style of organizational management. In one of the offices I met Danny, who’s startup name, in my view, is brilliant: “Rementis“, helps people facing ‘remembering’ problems – dementia. Speaking of which, do you remember when we agreed that Research is not only used and done at the university and only by scientists, but also in business? 😉 Here is how Rementis uses Research to advance in their work and explain to people that struggle with dementia. This is Research on HEALTH month on Researchista.

Hi, my name is Danny Pouwels, 27y. I work for the last 6 years with people who suffer from dementia and see a lot of struggles. So, in jan. 2016 I quit my job to help the people who suffer from dementia.

dsda.png
Danny Pouwels, social entrepreneur

Dementia is becoming one of the most intrusive diseases that crucially diminish the quality of life of those who suffer from it and the people around them. Seeing the struggles that dementia causes and the future developments of our population, it is important to tackle individual & demographic problems by cost-efficiently and effectively supporting the lives of people that suffer from dementia.

 Alzheimer Europe estimates the number of people with dementia in the Netherlands in 2012 as being 245,560. This represents 1.47% of the total population of 16,714,228. The number of people with dementia as a percentage of the population is somewhat lower than the EU average of 1.55%. The following table shows the estimated number of people with dementia between 30 and 59 and for every 5-year age group thereafter.

The biggest struggle they face at home is losing their ability to maintain a structured daily routine, or in other words being unable to face daily life independently. In almost all cases, enabling dementia patients to stay at home requires external help from (professional) caregivers.

As the condition of the patient declines, the caregivers (i.e. the people around them) become increasingly overwhelmed with tasks and soon face the issue of investing the majority of their persona time in giving care. This is an issue known to cause a series of mental problems. By enabling the dementia patient to continue to live independently, we reduce the time that caregivers are required to invest in order to take care of them. Consequently, the time and costs that are saved can be reallocated to individual or collective activities outside of the caregiving aspect.

We are Rementis and we want to remind people. Not only about the small things in life but also about the fact that, with the right help, an independent life is possible even when things look bad. We offer an in-house solution that supports them in independently completing those day-to-day tasks by sending constant reminders about what, when and how to do something. Moreover, to counteract the cognitive decline of the user we stimulate the cognitive, physical and social activity through various features.

A multifunctional display that serves as a smart-reminder, supporting the daily life of the user through various features that are offered on the Rementis platform. All features are based on either one of the aspects that stimulate the user on cognitive, physical or social level.

Post written by Danny Pouwels from Rementis.

With love for Research,

signature

Categories
Academia anxiety Community count definition health Help knowledge research Researcher Special Guest stress struggle

(47) Research on HEALTH: first aid (CPR).

This is Research on HEALTH month on Researchista. It is when Researchers from different medical fields bring their best knowledge and expertise in few words to explain their Research findings and to hopefully help you overcome certain health questions or problems you might have. Please say hi to Sebastian! 

Hi there!

I studied Medicine at the Maastricht University (2010-2016) and became a member of Taskforce QRS (CPR instructor) in 2012. My first cardiopulmonary resuscitation was on a ward in a small town in Germany, where I was at the time following an internship. At that moment, I was a CPR instructor for nearly 3 years and I thought I knew all the steps perfectly. But nothing could prepare me for the real thing….. ☺

 

sdfsf.png
Sebastian Sanduleanu, PhD student at Maastricht University

So, what to do when someone has a heart attack? First, let’s distinguish some key concepts:

“Cardiac arrest”

A “cardiac arrest”, not to be confused with a “heart attack” is when the heart stops beating (Figure 1). A heart attack may lead to a cardiac arrest.

Heart-Attack-vs-Cardiac-Arrest2.png
Fig. 1: Cardiac arrest vs. heart attack. Source: http://www.healthzone.org

If a cardiac arrest occurs, blood will stop circulating around the body and breathing will likewise cease within several minutes. Without a supply of oxygen, the cells in the body start to die. Especially brain cells are highly sensitive for low blood oxygen concentrations, after about five minutes of no oxygen brain cells will begin dying leading to brain damage and death.

Other key conceptual differences regarding symptoms:

HEART-attack-stroke.png
Source: http://www.positivemed.com

“CPR”

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, commonly known as CPR is one of the key elements of first aid. The purpose of CPR is by chest compression to keep oxygenated blood flowing through the body in order to keep the vital organs alive.

1212.png
Fig. 2. The BLS/AED algorithm Source: http://www.slideshare.net/adis23/cpr-prezentacija

It is important to know that CPR itself will not restart someone’s heart, it just keeps them alive until a defibrillator (Figure 3) arrives. This is a device which delivers an electrical shock to the heart in order to restart it. These defibrillators are, aside from hospitals, commonly found in sports parks, shopping malls, schools and near to crowded areas. Access is restricted to authorized users, from ambulance workers, (para-) medics to civilians trained in CPR (with a so called BLS = Basic Life Support certification).

111.png
Fig. 3. The automated external defibrilator (AED)

CPR numbers in the Netherlands

Around 10.000 people in the Netherlands face a cardiac arrest outside the hospital every year. A major influence on the survival rate is the high percentage of bystanders, which had already begun CPR before the arrival of the first ambulance (>75%), the connection of an automatic external de-fibrillator (AED) and a shockable heart rhythm early. These findings have been summarized in the chain of survival (Figure 4).

111111.png

Fig. 4. The chain of survival.

The survival in the Netherlands is on average 23%, one of the highest in Europe. If there is a shockable rhythm start, the survival rate can be as high as 44%.

For those living in Maastricht: QRS Taskforce Maastricht, purpose and background
In order to improve the survival chances for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) victims, Taskforce QRS Maastricht (Qualitative Resuscitation by Students), was founded in 2006 by medical students of Maastricht University3. In 2012 a new approach in CPR training, called Maastricht Quantity-orientated Resuscitation Session (M-QRS), was developed that focuses on the number of trained students per training. By comparing the new with the old approach quantitative growth could be assessed. Until now more than 12,937 secondary school students have now been trained by ERC-certified (European Resuscitation Council) CPR instructors with this efficient M-QRS approach. In comparison, a theoretical maximum of 6,469 could have been trained by means of the old approach. Sign up for CPR-training with Taskforce QRS: A civilian rescuer is a CPR trained volunteer that is contacted by 112 emergency rooms per SMS or via a special phone application to directly or after picking up an AED (automatic external defibrillator) go to the location of a victim of a cardiac arrest and to start CPR. Interested? Click on the link! 

(more at: Ghossein, A., Amin, H., Sijmons, J., Olsthoorn, J., Weerts, J., Houben, V. (2014). Taskforce QRS. European Heart Journal, 35(45), 3149-3151).

Heart physiology

The heart pumps oxygen and nutrients around the body through your blood. Waste products, e.g carbon dioxide and urea are removed through your circulation by respectively the lungs (diffusion) and the kidneys (urine filtration). In your lungs, oxygen enters your blood stream and carbon dioxide (a waste product) is removed in a process known as gas exchange (Figure 5).

fdsfs.png
Figure 5. Gas exchange in lungs (Pearson, 2013).

All the cells in your body are dependent on oxygen, aside from nutrients to survive. This oxygen is used as energy source in the powerhouses of the cell, the mitochondria in a biochemical activity called metabolism.

 

 Post written by Sebastian Sanduleanu, MAASTRO Clinic, Maastricht University, Maastricht

 

 

With love for Research,

signature

 

Categories
Academia Food health knowledge research Researcher Special Guest stress struggle

(46) Research on HEALTH: metabolism.

…(drums) and Researchista’s first Special Guest_Professor is Professor Dr. Ronit Shiri-Sverdlov! This is Research on HEALTH month and this month we will talk about metabolism. Let’s recall from school what metabolism is about? Metabolē means change” in Greek and is the set of chemical transformations within the cells of living organisms (that does not only include humans, but also plants and animals). Wikipedia says that this is usually divided into two categories: catabolism – the breaking down of organic matter, and anabolism – the building up of components of cells such as proteins and nucleic acids. Usually, breaking down releases energy and building up consumes energy [Break down food – create new energy = metabolism]. This post is about on side when metabolism does not work.. called Metabolic Syndrome. I hope the post below will inspire to eat fat in a smart way!

Metabolic Syndrome: beyond simple fat accumulation

Everybody knows that consuming a healthy diet and doing physical exercise regularly are essential for keeping our health in optimal condition and our body in good shape. Although there are general guidelines that may help in defining what a healthy diet is, the term ‘healthy’ very much depends on individual needs and opinion. What is healthy can influenced by genetics, gender, age, cultural habits, nutrient availability, and socioeconomic state, amongst others. The notion that continuous malnutrition increases the risk of developing the metabolic syndrome and the associated metabolic complications is widely accepted.

Why does eating an unhealthy diet lead to detrimental effects on our organs including the liver, in some but not all individuals? Surprisingly, the effect of unhealthy diet on our body goes beyond the amount of fat.  In fact, it is all about location!

xxx

Professor Dr. Ronit Shiri-Sverdlov, Maastricht University

From an evolutionary perspective, it has become clear that metabolism is a vital process, which is characterized by the efficient use of energy, as well as the ability to store excess energy for periods of food deprivation. In contrast to our ancestors, current industrialized habits are hallmarked by an excess intake of fat and sugar-enriched foods in combination with physical inactivity. This metabolic imbalance turned our former ‘survival’ state into a serious health problem, currently known as obesity, in which abnormal amounts of fat accumulates throughout the body. Nowadays, nearly one-third of the global population is overweight or obese. Lately, it has become apparent that not only adults suffer from obesity, but also children. As more and more individuals are getting obese, the metabolic syndrome is considered a major health threat.

www.png
Adapted from http://www.struggle.pk

Before taking a closer look at the liver, it is first important to understand the concept of the Metabolic Syndrome. The Metabolic Syndrome is an ‘umbrella term’ for a cluster of factors that increases the risk of developing fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

It involves a complex interplay between different organs, including the fat tissue, intestines, pancreas, brains, cardiovascular system and the liver, in which lipid homeostasis is dysregulated and metabolic inflammation is taking the lead. The liver is one of the most essential organs involved in metabolism, as it does not only regulate the storage and degradation of nutrients such as fats, carbohydrates and amino acids, but it is also involved in the detoxification of harmful compounds.

What is the exact link between the liver and the Metabolic Syndrome?

When we eat too much fat, the excess fat is transported to the liver, where it will be taken up and start to accumulate. Thus, the more fat that we eat, the more fat that accumulates inside our liver cells. Accumulation of fat in the liver is common in our society: it is present in approximately 15 percent of the general population and 90 percent of the people are currently obese. This simple accumulation of fat in the liver is still reversible and, therefore, not necessarily considered harmful. This condition, however, starts to become problematic, once the unhealthy lifestyle continue for long period of time. Accumulation of fat in the liver increases the risk of developing liver inflammation. Ultimately, liver inflammatory can lead to severe, non-reversible liver damage, including liver failure and other associated complications such as cardiovascular disease. Therefore liver inflammation is considered a major health threat.

qqq.png

 Why does continuous intake of fatty meals can cause severe complications to our body?

When our body is in a healthy condition, specific receptors on the plasma membrane of liver ensure that the fat will be taken up and further processed. Before fat can be broken down for direct energy supply or storage, it must first enter the lysosomes. These cellular acidic organelles are small vesicles inside our cells, which contain enzymes that are capable of breaking down the fat. Once the fat has been degraded into smaller lipid particles, it can leave the lysosomes and can be either stored in the cytoplasm of the cell or can return to the blood.

When the levels of fat intake are continuously high, as observed in obese people, the fat circulates longer in the blood and consequently get oxidized. We have shown that unlike non- oxidized fat, when oxidized fat is taken up by the cells, it accumulates inside the lysosomes. The accumulation of the oxidized fat inside the lysosomes is associated with the development of liver inflammation.

What did we conclude? It is not the accumulation of fat, but rather the location by which the fat accumulates, which triggers the inflammatory response in the liver. Therefore, the actual accumulation of oxidized fat in the lysosomes could be the actual trigger for the inflammatory response. These pioneering results have shed new lights on the possible underlying mechanisms which are leading to the Metabolic Syndrome and opened new venues for the treatment and prevention of the associated clinical complications.

by Professor in Hepatic Inflammation and Metabolic Health, Dr. Ronit Shiri-Sverdlov, Maastricht University UMC+ (Maastricht University Medical Centre = Academic Hospital+Maastricht University), Genetics and Cell Biology Department.

luchtfoto_mumc_smal
Maastricht UMC+

With love for Research,

signature

Categories
Academia anxiety count definition Environment health knowledge neuroscience origin research Researcher Special Guest stress struggle

(44) Research on BRAIN (extended): Misophonia

The quest into the unknown land of ‘misophonia’ continues. It is not included in any diagnostic manuals, it is not widely acknowledged by the medical community. Yet people who suffer from misophonia exist and here is what they are confronted with, in the words of Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout, the founder of International Misophonia Research Network, a New York State Certified School Psychologist, a Connecticut Professional Licensed Counselor, with a Doctorate in School/Clinical-Child Psychology, based here in the Connecticut, the United States of America.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAfbAAAAJDYyMmQ5MjMyLWEwYzYtNDZkMi05NzgyLWMyNGYyOTFiZjEwZg.png
Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout, International Misophonia Research Network.

Differentiating Disorders: Misophonia and Sensory Over-Responsivity

As all researchers know, almost comically, well, uncovering new scientific knowledge is no easy task. Whether you are engaged in investigating a well-trod topic, or, like me, you are forging relatively new territory, there are often not simple solutions to the complex problems we encounter. Perhaps you have recently read about the disorder I study and advocate for, misophonia, on this blog. Misophonia is a neurologically based disorder in which auditory, and sometimes visual, stimuli are misinterpreted within the central nervous system, leading sufferers to have unpleasant reactions to sounds others would consider barely noticeable.

research1
Source: internet.

When misophonia sufferers are exposed to particular “trigger sounds,” the fight/flight response is set off within the body. For these individuals, hearing a noxious noise can feel akin to being confronted with a wild animal, as their hearts race and muscles tense.

Because misophonia (does not appear in diagnostic manuals, such as DSM-5 or ICD-10) is only recently gaining wider recognition in the public and scientific communities, studying this disorder presents a unique set of challenges. 

afda.png

Though there is a scant amount of research on misophonia at this point, fortunately, there is a large body of research that has been developed over the past 15 years on a similar disorder, Sensory Over-Responsivity (a subtype of Sensory Processing Disorder). Individuals suffering from Sensory Over-Responsivity react to all types of sensory information as thought it were dangerous, and their fight/flight systems can be activated by seemingly inoffensive sights, smells, tastes, touches, or sounds. In both, misophonia and Sensory Over-Responsivity, certain sounds can leave sufferers feeling angry, fearful, disgusted, and “out of control.”

research2
Source: Internet.

Though it may seem natural that the research on Sensory Over-Responsivity be used to inform our understanding of misophonia, this has, largely, not taken place. We may ask ourselves, why are these two highly similar disorders rarely compared in misophonia academic articles, or articles in the popular press? My answer to this question is an unfortunate one: for the most part, researchers are not used to working within a cross-disciplinary model.

While psychology researchers, audiology researchers, and occupational therapy researchers may be competent and successful within their own fields, they are often not accustomed to reaching beyond them to integrate other types of research into their own work. There is a long pragmatic and political history behind the lack of cross-disciplinary research work that is not necessarily the fault of academic researchers or clinicians. However, in the “age of information” that we are living in, sharing valuable knowledge between researchers from different disciplines should now be as quick and easy as doing a google search, and as common. As it is, this lack of information sharing trickles down to the public, and often leads Misophonia and Sensory Over-Responsivity sufferers to find inaccurate information about their own conditions.

research 4.png

Unfortunately, another important problem facing both misophonia and Sensory Over-Responsivity is that neither disorder has been accepted into the diagnostic manuals (DSM-5 or the ICD-10). It is difficult to understand the logic behind this fact, as studies have estimated that up to 20% of children are affected by sensory-based disorders. Likewise, tens of thousands of people have gathered on social media platforms to form support groups for misophonia, helping one another fill the gaps left by a large portion of the mental health community. There is a long political history involving how a disorder gains entry into diagnostic manuals, and though the National Institute of Health has taken steps recently to try to change this process, this change comes long after the damage has been done. Therefore, what we are left with is two disorders that “don’t exist,” that are not reimbursable by insurance, and for which research funding is extraordinarily difficult to come by.

Sensory Over- Responsivity and Misophonia share more than symptoms. They share neglect from the medical and psychiatric communities, which has resulted in the dissemination of more than enough inaccurate and confusing information to do damage to sufferers lives. My hope is that going forward, receptive practitioners and researchers from all facets of the healthcare community can work cooperatively to study and treat these disorders, discovering important knowledge and improving sufferers’ quality of life.

This post is written by Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout  (who is also the mother of adult triplets, and is a Misophonia sufferer herself) and Miss Madeline Appelbaum, a recent alumna of Reed College (Oregon, USA), with a particular interest in educational psychology. Madeline wrote an undergraduate thesis on the effects of autonomous and controlled motivation to learn on college students.

14202695_10154452811021753_8423034886095690784_n.png
Madeline Appelbaum, Intern at International Misophonia Research Network

International Misophonia Research Network (Amsterdam)

With love for Research,

signature

Categories
anxiety boring enthusiasm Environment future happiness health knowledge love passion research stereotype struggle

(38) Research on Food: make-your-own-little-Research.

Every Monday, during a month on Researchista’s Blog you will find a new subject in which we invite one or more Researchers to talk about it. They are called “Special Guests” (because they are special and because they are guests). At the end of every subject (4th week of each month), Researchista is inviting anyone willing to explore how that topic affects their daily life. This section is called “Make-your-own-little-Research” and is encouraging everyone to make their Research (it’s called little, because is our own private investigation 😉 ), by giving an example of how to use different Research concepts and methods to investigate that subject. As a results we hope to help changing our own behaviour about a topic in selected area. This is Research on Food (industry) month on Researchista, so our little Research is going to be on this subject.

Say hello to Irina B. aka Researchista and Diana Z. aka Social activist, i-care-about-the-environment-lets-do-it-together friend! This is our little Research. What would yours be like? m?

Little Research: “How to Read Food Labels”.

How to know which ingredients are not good for your health? Research is your best friend. Let’s start by making it clear: we love food. So much. You can not imagine.

dfs.png
Irina B. aka Researchista

At the same time, we wonder what is healthy to eat and what is not? When we go shopping for food, are we actually buying the healthy food? This is our ‘Research question’ (a r.q. is usually stands for the aim/goal/purpose/objective of a scientific study): to what extent the food we buy is healthy? In other words, how to understand what it says on the package of content we buy.

ddddd
Diana Z. aka Busy Avocado

And here we start our journey, with the help of food blogger to become and corporate activist in this area, Diana and Irina ‘willing-to-learn how to read the labels’. Let’s figure this out.

14874920_10157711857950008_1168083161_n.png
in Park & Shop, Dubai (United Arab Emirates)

First, determine what package of food you consume often and wish to know if it contains any chemicals or unhealthy products.

Hema.png
in HEMA, Maastricht (Netherlands)

Food labeling is required by law and should be clear, accurate and easy to understand and protect the consumer. It should help the consumers to know what they are buying. It is regulated by different bodies in different countries. Information required to be displayed: ingredients, weight, name of food, storage instructions, use-by-date, clear preparation and cooking instructions, name and address of manufacturer, place of origin, batch number, any genetically modified ingredients, beverages which contain >1.2% alcohol. Nutritional information is only required if there is a nutritional claim made.

dubai

Fats and sugars are contents that need extra research. If most of the fat content comes from healthy unsaturated fat, then it is a green light. If the fat is mainly saturated and/or the product has any trans-fat, it is definitely a no. Also watch out for Vegetable Oil.

Fat-and-Sugar.png
Source: internet

Vegetable oils are manufactured in a factory, usually from genetically modified crops that have been heavily treated with pesticides. Sugar, another “watch out!”,  has many names, 56 to be precise. If we notice these ingredients, besides sugar and if they come as first or second ingredient, better place this product back on the shelf.

TTAC-Sugar-Graphic.png
Source: thetruthaboutcancer.com

Once we are clear on the nutrition facts, we can continue with the individual ingredients research. Unfortunately, majority of manufacturers use various sickening ingredients that we cannot even pronounce their names. I have a general rule regarding this, if I cannot read and understand it, I don’t buy it. Watch out for the sickening ingredients: growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, BPA, artificial flavors and sweeteners, dyes and conditioners, carrageenan and others.

hormones-milk.png
Source: simpleobtainablesolutions.com

In conclusion, Researching food products’ labels can be an overwhelming task and maybe sometimes we can end up thinking there is nothing safe left to eat, but eventually the label understanding skills become habits and the process of identifying the good food is becoming as easy as ABC.

19155cfc8d59843dd2b24d5d9432142b.png
Source: Pinterest, Mariasea

 

Happy Shopping!

Literature review with the courtesy of Busy Avocado and

With love for Research,

signature

Note from Diana:

“As people are becoming more health conscious, the demands for ethical food is on the rise. By ethical we mean not only sustainable, but also ethically grown, processed, packaged and marketed. Unfortunately, we witness that many large corporations are taking ethics for granted and only care about their profit, thus maximizing production, while neglecting the nutritional value of food. Many products already enter the food chain filled with chemicals and substances that can damage our health. Later on they are processed with additives, dyes, preservatives and thickeners, and eventually packaged in materials that are also hazardous for health. But the worst part is that companies spend thousands to promote these products, create beautiful packages, advertisements and incentives. Moreover, many of them go to the extreme to portray these products as healthy and suitable for children. Stopping these companies from producing and marketing products that contain harmful ingredients is not easy. In many countries corporations have a lot of power in the food industry. But there is another way to combat them. Learn to read and understand labels and avoid products that are clearly damaging your health.

Categories
Academia first years of PhD knowledge research Researcher Special Guest stereotype struggle

(34) Impostor Syndrome in Academia.

Dear Researchista friend, allow me to introduce you to Laurien, our ‘intern’ (is unusual to call a PhD, an intern), whom I had the pleasure to meet through Maastricht University’s Alumni Office (thanks to Guido Vanderbroeck). In the light of Researchista’s strong encouragement for Researchers to get creative, please welcome this PhD post. This is Laurien’s first creative-writing-with-academic-flavour post, support and enjoy!

audio-post: 

1

 ‘I just had a whole lot of luck’

Whilst I am sitting here writing this first post for Researchista, various dark thoughts run through my mind. Did I bite off a bigger piece than I can chew? Are people going to think this is a dull piece of text? Can I combine blogging with my PhD work? Self-doubt and critique are a pretty common phenomenon that many of you are familiar with. These feelings are quite normal and adaptive because they make us go the extra mile. They urge us to practice that presentation one more time before getting on stage or to repeat those materials a last time before the test.

A far worse feeling is feeling like a real fraud, feeling like you do not deserve the job/title you currently hold. People afflicted with the ‘imposter syndrome’ are truly convinced that they are frauds in their job and that they just had a lot of luck. These anxious individuals worry that their boss and/or peers will soon discover they are not capable or intelligent after all. Once discovered there will be a fall from grace and complete humiliation. There are plenty famous figures that suffer from the imposter syndrome. One of them is UN Women Goodwill ambassador Emma Watson. She admitted feeling like an imposter and stated that she could never meet the expectations the public has from her.

When digging into the plenty of popular science articles and YouTube videos on imposter syndrome, I came across a video lecture from Chris Lema. His definition of imposter syndrome speaks to me: imposter syndrome is the inability to internalize success. It is the inability to respond to an accomplishment with the feeling ‘I did that’. It is the person immediately diminishing his/her efforts when receiving a compliment: ‘Oh that was just luck’ and ‘Oh I have great colleagues’. I like Lema’s definition a lot because it accounts for the paradox that is the imposter syndrome: the ones feeling like a fraud are often immensely successful at the same time. I would dare to say that having success but not internalizing it, not owning it, is the same as not experiencing success at all …. ?

Many blogs and opinion articles claim that imposter syndrome is rampant throughout academia. When looking in my personal circle of academic colleagues, I tend to agree with such statements. Of course the syndrome is not exclusive to academia, but what makes academia such a fertile ground for the development of fraudulent feelings? Here are a few potential reasons:

Academia is a competitive There is a limited amount of grants, tenure positions, etc. You are competing with peers for the same position. Comparing yourself to peers is thus inevitable, especially when you know that admission committees will compare you directly either way. When we observe our peers, we see a ‘filtered picture’. Just like on Instagram, we see our peers publishing articles, shining on a stage when presenting, etc. What we do not see is the behind- the-scenes grind of last minute work, procrastination, failure and emotional turmoil. No wonder we feel like an imposter when we experience all the flaws that we do not see in our peers.

1. Academia has a clear hierarchical structure with the tenured professor on top, followed by non-tenured assistant professors, postdocs and graduate students. Because of the clear division between positions, it somehow seems that you need to be ‘a lot smarter’ to move one step up. The process can be perceived as non-gradual and therefore employees might feel like an imposter when taking on a new position.

2. In addition there is also a ‘timing issue’ because of expectations from our environment (and also from ourselves) arise: A PhD should finish in 3/4 years. A postdoc should roll out a few first-author papers a year. Certain grants can only be attained in a certain time frame (x years after getting the PhD). Whenever we fail to meet a ‘deadline’, we feel inadequate and somehow less capable than our colleagues finishing ‘in time’.

3. Academia is a personal strive. Even though researchers are embedded in research labs/ groups, at the end of the day only your work counts. Only the papers that proudly carry your name count. Your teaching evaluation is looked at and your progress is looked at. You cannot hide behind a team. This much responsibility might be too overwhelming to handle for some of us. There is no way that you can handle all of that responsibility.

4. Academia has an ‘elite’ feel to it. Academia still is a bit of an ‘ivory tower’, there is no reality check. I am comparing myself with genius people, and therefore feel stupid. I think it is good to get out of the academic bubble now and then to realize that you have many strengths. It is good to distinguish your personal worth from your researcher’s worth. One has nothing to do with the other, even though it might feel like it.

5. ‘Universitas’ means broadening your knowledge, yet more often universities enable specialization in one field. Because of the specialization, you might feel inadequate when a colleague talks about his research and you do not understand a single word of what he/she is saying. You might feel like an imposter: ‘How did I come so far without studying more biology?! .. what a fraud I am!’. I myself often suffer from the ‘knowing more is knowing less’ phenomenon. When I delve into an undiscovered neuroscience topic I often feel confused and overwhelmed. There are so many articles and studies out there that a seemingly simple paradigm turns into a three-headed dragon.

6. Academia attracts high achievers, and in turn it is known that high-achievers are more prone to the imposter syndrome. These high-achievers might have certain personality traits that predispose them such as perfectionism, anxiety, etc.

Even though imposter syndrome is not an officially recognized disorder in the DSM, there are some real consequences. A study from Gent University found that employees identifying themselves with the imposter syndrome, report to be less likely to volunteer for tasks that are beyond their job description. This adds another layer to the riddle of imposter syndrome: suffering from it doesn’t make you work harder, but perhaps even less hard. So, dear readers, we have to combat the imposter syndrome. The first step, as always, is recognizing one has a problem. Step two is talking about it to a colleague or a friend. Especially friends outside academia might give you some perspective. A small tip that I am practicing daily is this one: Next time you get a compliment, own it. Stop yourself when you feel ‘I had a whole lot of luck’ rolling out of your mouth. Celebrate even the smallest accomplishment. You are pretty awesome 😉

Here you go dear readers, my first-ever blog post for Researchista. Imperfect as it is, it is real, tangible and a proof that I am not a ‘blog imposter’, I just sometimes feel like one.

This text was written on my personal title.

by Laurien Nagels-CounePhD student in Cognitive Neuroscience at FPN, Maastricht University

 

With love for Researchers,

signature

Categories
Environment Fashion health passion Photoshoot research Researcher Special Guest stereotype struggle

(24) Fashion & Research: intro.

Browsing through the Fashion Bible – “VOGUE”  just like I would do with a book, I was looking for its introduction. It took me  12 pages of pictures with clothes and accessories to find the compass through a book: the introduction. Ah, fashion, are you only about selling? I don’t believe you! 😉

By the way, before the introduction, in a fashion magazine you will always find an Editor’s Note. Yes, just like in a scientific journal (for example, “Science” or “Elsevier“), fashion magazines have an Editor that is in charge of it all. But, who reads a fashion magazine anyway, if you see so many colourful pictures in it? Only joking, the fashionistas will probably prove me wrong. As of today, Researchista invites you to her Fashion  & Research Month!

New Picture

Why fashion? To some, fashion is an art form. To others, it is almost like a religion. For most people though, fashion is a method of utilizing clothing, accessories and grooming to show or hide something about yourself. Fashion can be an extension of your personality, allowing you to introduce parts of your personality to the world without saying a word“… Fashion is not only about clothing in ourdays, it’s about lifestyle in general. The ads in fashion magazine advice you what bags to wear with what accessories and make-up to match, what events to go and  what places to visit.

Yet, clothing is the backbone still of the entire fashion industry. Designers create,  we buy and we buy, because we want to look and feel good/or to transmit a signal to the rest about ourselves. Ah, finally I understood the “statement bag” expression that I would hear sometimes in Russian, it’s probably about the intention of someone wearing a specific bag to communicate a message to the public about their personality (their character, their seriousness, their coolness, etc.).

Fashion Industry: Behind the fashion curtains, you will find the designers and tailors, who work very hard to create that perfect piece of thing that will match everyone’s tastes.

The Story of Gabriel Chanel, Coco Chanel

Just like in academia and policy, fashion industry has a certain life-cycle (see Figure 1) or more phases from the moment when the clothing exists only as a piece of material (raw material), till the moment the costumer wears it and hopefully takes care of it after it has been used to either reuse or recycling it.

It looks like a perfect cycle, but we are not living during the time of Coco Chanel, now it is much faster to produce and buy more pieces of clothes that look the same. Mass-production of clothes became a norm.

Figure 1. Fashion cycle

FASHIONCYCLE

Source: modevlinder.com

Fashion retailers, otherwise known as “fast fashion” or big brands of clothing where most of us go shopping, unfortunately not always respect ethical conditions for their workers and nor do they always create a healthy environment for the clothing production.

Special Guest: This is the Fashion Month on Researchista. Our Special Guest Hasmik Matevosyan, whom I had the pleasure to meet at TEDxMaastricht, will enlighten us about the ‘dark sides’ of fashion cycle and how you and me and each of us can individually contribute towards a healthy clothing production, good for our environment, for our skin and for our wallet. Here she is flesh and bones (video) giving useful tips on how to wash your clothes to avoid pollution.

602742_451444354954060_1436981454_n
Photo by Kevin Kwee

Hasmik did a lot Research during her masters studies and as a result of it, she published a book in which she came up with a business model by which she aims to change the way fashion industry currently works.

“The first time I got in touch with fashion was when I was a little girl. We were living in Armenia and after the Soviet Union feel apart, mom was earning money by knitting clothes. I saw all the hard work and creativity that went into designing and making a garment. I also saw how the clothes made her clients feel happy and confident. Mom taught me how to knit at the age of six and from that point on I wanted to become a fashion designer so that I could design clothes that contribute to people’s lives, make them happy”. Get to know better Hasmik as of next Monday. See how she could help us to help others to us all in reducing the harm caused to nature and people treated unfair in this area.

Researchista goes Fashionista: Instead of conclusion, I want to share with you a sneaky little story. Now, that it’s summer and nobody’s watching, Researchista is doing a little fashion experiment. Oh no, no, I did not start to sew, unfortunately. Neither I want to mass-produce something for you to wear. Instead… I decided to wear some fancy clothes on the street of this fancy town where I live to feel what is like to be someone doing fashion. Internet went viral recently in number of fashion bloggers, so I came up with my own little fashionista experiment…. voila! Are you a Researcher living in Maastricht? Do you want to join me next time? Leave me your letter at researchistas@gmail.com 🙂

add

 

 

With love for Research,

signature

 

 

Categories
anxiety first years of PhD health last years of PhD research Researcher stress struggle

(16) Anxiety during PhD (2): prevention is the key.

As symptoms of anxiety can hold you back enormously in your career, it is essential to open up the discussion about this topic and to share knowledge and tools that help you manage and prevent anxiety. This blog/video is made with the goal to help you as a researcher to feel good and achieve great results in your career. This is not in any way a replacement of medical care and if you experience severe anxiety symptoms, make sure to contact a medical professional.

As a Researcher you might worry about your future, about your next paper and whether or not you will make the deadline. You are constantly envisioning what could potentially go wrong… As a result, the body and mind starts to respond as if there is a real threat.

Your body is actually preparing you to run away as quickly as possible. After a while you might start to experience anxiety symptoms such as :

  • Panic attacks
  • Racing heart
  • Quick breathing
  • Excessive worrying

Combined with other circumstances, such as not enough sleep, unhealthy food and products such as coffee and sugar, it not so surprising that you are experiencing these symptoms. That is why prevention is key!

Symptoms of anxiety are completely normal. They can happen to everyone, at any time.  It doesn’t mean you are weak or not strong enough. First of all I would advise you to not focus too much on anxiety. Where attention goes, energy flows. So if you focus a lot on the symptoms, you are directing your attentions towards it.

You can learn to direct your attention as much as possible to feelings of trust and feeling good, while at the same time managing the symptoms of anxiety you are experiencing.

https://vimeo.com/166627150

In this video I am going to give you a number of easy lifestyle tips to prevent anxiety. Then I am also going to tell you more about a method that can be very beneficial to stop your worrying mind – and prevent anxiety on the long run.

 

By Daniëlle Branje,

Health Researcher & Trainer/Coach

 

Sign up and receive a feel good email: http://www.daniellebranje.com 

 

Categories
anxiety first years of PhD health last years of PhD research Researcher Researchista stress struggle

(15) Anxiety during PhD (1): an introduction.

This introduction probably summarizes it best: “I want to tell you right away that you will not find an answer to the question above in this short blog piece, but I am sure most of those involved in PhD studies asked that question at least once. We all think we are so strong, tough, resilient, and adaptable, but somehow PhD gets under our skin, penetrates our brain and produces irreversible changes (and often not good ones) on physical, emotional and mental level” (Dr. Aksana Chizjevskaia).  Another PhD says: “we want to come across as super heros, but we are humans as well”.

By raising this topic, Researchista hopes to not fall in the ‘victim trap’, but to present some facts that makes one wonder why is this the case. Studies show that in the Netherlands at least 36.5 % of PhD students suffer medical depression. The situation in the UK does not seem to be brighter, 64% of PhD students (aged between 18-34 years) are feeling in isolation (more statistics here). What are the statistics in your country?

It was by chance that I found out that some PhD students do actually take anti-depressants. It is one thing when people randomly say they are ‘depressed’ because of heavy work loads, but when you friend tells you she takes anti-depressants to cope with her PhD, it might shake your world.

The special Guest Blogger of this month is Danielle Branje, she supports young professionals and business owners to create a meaningful and inspired career & life without sacrificing their body, mind and soul. She will try facilitate the work process of those who struggle with anxiety at the moment.

https://vimeo.com/166611795

 

This month is entirely dedicated to health issues that Researchers might face. On ResearchistaFacebook & Twitter we try take some actions, join us by sharing the posts with those who might struggle.

With love for Researchers,

signature

 

Categories
health ignorance last years of PhD research Researcher Researchista struggle writing

(14) Writing & no RSI.

Intellectual work demands a lot of energy and effort. Apart from eating a lot of nuts and chocolate for brain, one also needs to be fit to be able to stay long hours in front of the computer. Someone told me once, a PhD student with no particular health problems was so exhausted from writing (typing) that was not able to hold a cup of tea anymore. He had R S I…  find out here what that is. RSI happened to me also, for a while I had no power in my arms/hands at all. I learned later that one of my colleagues even had surgery to both of her wrists and that RSI stays for life.

So, what to do if you have RSI? Do not avoid to ask for help from friends/family at times like this, you might make it worse by forcing your arms and do everything yourself.

Adjust your work station to your body parameters. Every modern institution/company is equipped with ergonomic chairs, etc. By the way, if you work at Maastricht University an entire department is dedicated to such questions. It works a bit like an ambulance, upon request they will visit your station (asap) and explain everything, maybe give you an ergonomic mouse or keyboard. Here is how you can contact them, fast and painless.

Reducing-the-Risk-of-Repetitive-Strain-I_D8BE_clip_image003_b87b497b-1a92-452a-aff6-4e9e3fc28e742
photo credit: internet.

Visit a physio-therapist… First thing I did was to go see a physio-therapist who could unblock the pain in my arms and shoulders. There are so many services in Maastricht, I went to Jasper’s Physio Therapy  and found a really nice doctor, who said smiling that she was having an entire PhD crowd enrolling to her sessions, especially the last year ones.

When you are back on track, join Researchista and Backforward to strengthen those muscles, do sports – the best proven remedy against RSI. One full-year discount voucher to all Researchers in Maastricht and neighbouring areas is offered to you as of today! 😀 Download it here and present it at your first session.

final

Certainly “the evil is not so black as it seems”, keep calm and carry on. RSI compared to other issues is probably minuscule, yet is good to know about it and prevent on time, so that you can hold strongly that cup of tea and make that lemonade out of those lemons! 🙂

jgghj
Palma-de-Majorca, Spain (2014)

Stay RSI-free!

With love for Researchers, R.