Friday, 2 February 2018

Flame-throwers and stress-relievers!

Here are some of the odd things I have come across recently:-

An American businessman called Elon Musk, who sells a variety of things such as cars and has a kind of side business that he calls The Boring Company, has been selling “boring” flame throwers. Marketed as being really good things “to liven up a party”, they sold for $500 dollars and in the space of a few hours some 7000 of them were sold. What kind of parties do they organise in the States? Who uses a flame thrower to make a party go with a swing? Am I missing something here?

The University of Bristol is to open a puppy room to “aid relaxation and calmness” and help students through the stresses and strains of revision. Some 20 dogs and puppies will be rotated through the day on May 18th, which is, of course, pretty close to the exam period in universities. Students can book 15 minute slots, making a donation of £2 to the Guide Dogs charity, which helps run the event. Three other universities - Nottingham, Aberdeen and Central Lancashire - have also offered puppy rooms in the past.

Oh dear! This is one of those things that wake up my inner cynic. If the students wait until just before the start of the exams to find some way of dealing with their stress then maybe it’s a bit late. Do students really suffer from more stress than we used to do all those years ago? Everyone talks about it a lot more. All the media go on about it. Is the power of suggestion contributing to the number of students suffering from stress? But maybe all the stuff about stress and so on is working; after all, far more first class degrees seem to be awarded nowadays than back when we were students! Oops! There goes my inner cynic again!
I would be interested to see some statistics about precisely who uses the puppy room. Are there more female students than male students who do so? Does my question count as gender stereotyping?

On the topic of gender stereotyping, Formula One has apparently decided that they will no longer employ girls to hold umbrellas at pit stops and in other situations around the race tracks. This has caused some outcry from girls who like to do this work as they feel they are losing an employment opportunity.

How long before the Tour de France follows suit? Will we no longer see girls in matching outfits presenting bunches of flowers, soft toys and jerseys to sweaty riders? A certain amount of pageantry might be lost.

Getting back to pets and stress and the benefits of being around animals. People who have pets apparently tend to have lower blood pressure, heart rate and heart-disease risk than those who don’t. Some of this comes from actually having to take your dog out for a walk and thus getting some exercise, so I think I will stick to going for a run in the mornings. This means I do not have to buy a birthday present for a dog, something that half of dog-owners in the USA do! But then, according to a recent poll, 95% of then think of their animal as a member of the family!

And scientists are now digging up evidence that animals can also help improve mental health, even for people with challenging disorders.

“Though the studies are small, the benefits are impressive enough that clinical settings are opening their doors to animal-assisted interventions–pet therapy, in other words–used alongside conventional medicine. “It used to be one of the great no-no’s to think of an animal in a hospital,” says Alan Beck, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University, citing the fear of causing infection. “Now, I don’t know of any major children’s hospital that doesn’t have at least some kind of animal program.” The rise of animal therapy is backed by increasingly serious science showing that social support–a proven antidote to anxiety and loneliness–can come on four legs, not just two. Animals of many types can help calm stress, fear and anxiety in young children, the elderly and everyone in between.”

And here’s another related thing:-

“In one study, a stressed-out group of adults were told to pet a rabbit, a turtle or their toy forms. The toys had no effect. But stroking a living creature, whether hard-shelled or furry, relieved anxiety. It worked for people regardless of whether they initially said they liked animals”

I have a few questions and comments.

First of all, is it really possible to stroke a turtle? Isn’t their hard shell just a little off-putting?

I am not sure this therapy would work on me, but then I am not really a stressed person.

As for stroking toy animals, I wonder if it possible to persuade yourself that it works. After all people squeeze stress-relief balls and convince themselves it works.

That’s all!

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