5 Empowering News Stories to Smile About
After a weekend of blazing hot weather, it’s understandable if this similarly blistering Monday morning you’re feeling a little glum about having to pack up the paddling pool, and get stuck back into work. Don’t worry – these five empowering news stories are sure to put a bit of pep back in your step.
1. MENTAL HEALTH – Feel-good festival
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What does positive mental health look like? Calmer and Psychreg bring you the Good Mental Health festival 2020, unpacking how to thrive in work and all aspects of your life! Exploring the topics of #workplaceculture #beyondresilience #mensmentalhealth #mentalhealthinthecreativeindustries and #digitalstorytelling. Find out more on our website, link in bio! #goodmentalhealth #goodmentalhealth2020 #gmhfestival #worldmentalhealthday #festival #event #talk #workshop #paneldiscussions #mentalhealthblog #creatives #entrepreneurs #business #mensmentalhealthawareness #resilience #speakers #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #wellbeing #healthandwellbeing
The sort of festival where you can drink cider in a field as a band you’re actually not all that keen on belt out both of their hits feels like fantasy right now. And so festivals are taking on a different hue, by moving online.
That’s the case with Good Mental Health 2020, an empowering festival being staged by Calmer and Psychreg. Award-winning entrepreneur, author and founder of Calmer, Tania Diggory, says: “We are so excited to launch this festival in collaboration with Psychreg, to provide an empowering approach to exploring mental health. We feel there is a need for more focus on the various states of mental health. While we can experience mental health struggles, we can also fluctuate in how we feel from day to day depending on many circumstances, and indeed we can experience positive mental health. This event aims to explore what that looks like, and empowers individuals to embrace practical strategies, techniques and resources that can support a thriving state of mental health – no matter what comes your way in life.”
And Psychreg founder Dennis Relojo-Howell adds: “I’m thrilled that Psychreg will be co-hosting this important event with Calmer. Our shared ethos allows us to add fresh and nuanced perspectives to the wider conversations within mental health and well-being. GMH 2020 aims to highlight ways in which we can nurture our mental health across different aspects of our lives so that we can all flourish and thrive.”
2. COVID-19 – Electric dreams
Is there anything an electric multicooker can't do?
— U of I News Bureau (@NewsAtIllinois) August 6, 2020
Sometimes you pick up handy tips that can prove to be absolute nonsense. For example, BALANCE had recently been told that if you hang up a bag of copper coins from a window, it keeps wasps and flies out (upon reading this back, we can’t believe we thought there would be something in this). Having tried this for a week, we can say with absolute certainty that it doesn’t work; our kitchen has been like the bug section at London Zoo of late.
So it’s reassuring to stumble across an absolute gem in the form of this tip: electric cookers are a great way of sanitising N95 respirator masks. Given the current climate, it’s very good to know. It was felt that N95 masks were a case of “one and done”, but this breakthrough from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign means masks can be re-used – empowering us to do our bit for both the planet and the pandemic.
Civil and environmental engineering professors Thanh ‘Helen’ Nguyen and Vishal Verma carried out the study, and Nguyen explains: “A cloth mask or surgical mask protects others from droplets the wearer might expel, but a respirator mask protects the wearer by filtering out smaller particles that might carry the virus.”
And Verma adds: “There are many different ways to sterilize something, but most of them will destroy the filtration or the fit of an N95 respirator. Any sanitation method would need to decontaminate all surfaces of the respirator, but equally important is maintaining the filtration efficacy and the fit of the respirator to the face of the wearer. Otherwise, it will not offer the right protection.”
And Verma explains how the breakthrough was made: “We built a chamber in my aerosol-testing lab specifically to look at the filtration of the N95 respirators, and measured particles going through it. The respirators maintained their filtration capacity of more than 95% and kept their fit, still properly seated on the wearer’s face, even after 20 cycles of decontamination in the electric cooker.”
3. EQUALITY – Empowering women
Pope Francis named six women to the high-level group that oversees the Vatican's finances Aug. 6, in what may represent the most senior appointments yet of women among the Catholic Church's exclusively male leadership structure. https://t.co/313TIZc0gE
— NCR (@NCRonline) August 6, 2020
It’s fair to say that Catholic Church has needed to undergo a period of self-reflection (this is BALANCE being diplomatic); to say the church has been rocked by scandal this past few years would be a gross understatement.
And so the Vatican has taken the progressive, historic and empowering step of hiring six women in “leadership positions” with a view to helping their ailing finances. The new six are: Britain’s Leslie Jane Ferrar and Ruth Kelly (the latter is a former Labour minister), Spain’s Eva Castillo Sanz and María Concepción Osákar Garaicoechea, and Marija Kolak and Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof of Germany.
In joining, they become the most-senior female officials to work at the Vatican. The Vatican had previously said how Pope Francis “has affirmed that the Catholic Church needs more women in leadership positions. In the Vatican and the Roman Curia, he is gradually preparing the ground.”
The Vatican’s finances have been rocked by the global pandemic, and the National Catholic Reporter says: “That six are women is a pretty big quota. But the important thing here is that these six women are part of a group that essentially oversees all of the financial activities of the Vatican, so obviously that’s a pretty top-level group.”
4. NATURE – Nice beaver
OK, the headline suggests we’ve taken this down smut street – please know it’s a reference to Leslie Nielsen’s memorable turn as detective Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun (Priscilla Presley replies, “Thanks, I’ve had it stuffed”). We, as ever, digress. But it’s good news: beavers have been given the go-ahead to live in Britain for the first time in around 400 years.
The news follows a five-year trial which concluded that beavers – dams and all – are good for wildlife. Peter Burgess, Director of Conservation at Devon Wildlife Trust, enthuses: “This is the most ground-breaking government decision for England’s wildlife for a generation. Beavers are nature’s engineers and have the unrivalled ability to breathe new life into our rivers and wetlands.”
And James Wallace, director of the Beaver Trust, says: “Having shown through research and community engagement many of the benefits, challenges and ways of living alongside beavers, it is time to apply the learning from the River Otter Beaver Trial across the rest of the country. We invite the Government to collaborate with us on planning, resourcing and supporting the future management and restoration of beavers across suitable river catchments in England.”
5. FOOD – Chocs away
Need a reminder of some good news? @bcmhouston's Dr. Chayakrit Krittanawong says chocolate contains heart healthy nutrients! Find out how much you can eat via @cnnhealth https://t.co/e45nJxZY57 pic.twitter.com/8R8Z9vY8yG
— BCM Media Relations (@BCMHouston_News) July 23, 2020
Yes, yes, we know. One day, you can read in a newspaper that red wine will cause your body to explode. And then, two days later, you read another article telling you it’s actually great for your teeth and skin and makes you really good at maths… OK, we’re paraphrasing there, but you get the gist.
However, given many of us have turned to chocolate throughout the global pandemic, we’re taking any wins wherever we can get them. And so we perform the sign of the cross while praying that new research from the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology proves correct. The study claims that eating chocolate at least once a week (does on the hour every hour count? Please?) can lower the risk of heart disease.
And study author Dr Chayakrit Krittanawong, of Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, explains: “Our study suggests that chocolate helps keep the heart’s blood vessels healthy. In the past, clinical studies have shown that chocolate is beneficial for both blood pressure and the lining of blood vessels. I wanted to see if it affects the blood vessels supplying the heart (the coronary arteries) or not. And if it does, is it beneficial or harmful? Chocolate contains heart healthy nutrients such as flavonoids, methylxanthines, polyphenols and stearic acid which may reduce inflammation and increase good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol).”
Dr Krittanawong adds: “Chocolate appears promising for prevention of coronary artery disease, but more research is needed to pinpoint how much and what kind of chocolate could be recommended. Moderate amounts of chocolate seem to protect the coronary arteries but it’s likely that large quantities do not. The calories, sugar, milk, and fat in commercially available products need to be considered, particularly in diabetics and obese people.”
Got a good news story? Email James on [email protected]