Health News

Disagreeability, neuroticism and stress: What drives panic buying during the COVID-19 pandemic

Panic buying has returned to Australia in the wake of its second-biggest city experiencing a spike in COVID-19. The Victorian government has reimposed stay-at-home restrictions on 36 of Melbourne’s 321 suburbs in response.

Once again supermarket stores are being emptied of toilet paper and other consumables.

But this panic buying isn’t just in affected areas. It’s not even limited to Victoria. Empty supermarket shelves have been reported in Canberra, Mittagong in the New South Wales southern highlands, and Bathurst in the NSW central tablelands.

As a preventative measure Coles and Woolworths have reintroduced nationwide limits on the amount of toilet paper shoppers can buy. Coles is also limiting packets of pasta, rice and long-life milk nationally, while Woolworths has so far done so only for Victoria.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called the panic buying “ridiculous”, and previously dubbed it “unAustralian”.

But are admonishments helpful in stopping panic buying?

That depends on what motivates people to panic buy. The COVID-19 pandemic has given us the chance to ask.

What motivates panic buying?

We’ve surveyed more than 600 Australians, first in April then again in June, about their stockpiling behavior, attitudes and feelings.

Our results show about 17% of shoppers admitted to panic buying in April. About 6% were continuing to stockpile two months later, joined by an equal number who did not buy in April and feared missing out again.

Panic buyers and stockpilers were more likely to be younger and under financial and personal stress. A number of personality traits were also significant predictors. Those less agreeable, more anxious and less able to cope with uncertainty were more likely to panic buy.

These findings suggest panic buyers are likely to feel a lack of control in their lives and worry more about COVID-19. Stocking up on items gives them a sense of security in one part of their lives. They are likely to be less cooperative and considerate of others.

Studying panic buying

We recruited our 600 participants via consumer-survey company Pure Profile, which ensured our sample was representative of the Australian population.

We asked if they had “stockpiled”, and how much, in response to COVID-19, as well as questions about their income, education attainment, attitudes and personality.

Participants indicated their agreement with more than 100 statements such as:

  • I am someone who is emotionally stable, not easily upset
  • I spend too much time following COVID-19 related news coverage
  • Obtaining food and basic household items has been a major source of stress.


The strongest predictor of “early” panic buying was low “agreeableness”.

Agreeableness describes how motivated people are to cooperate with and consider the feelings of others. It is typically expressed as polite and compassionate behavior. We measured this trait by asking respondents to agree or disagree with statements such as “I am someone who is sometimes rude to people” and “I am someone who can be cold and uncaring”.

Measures of agreeableness predict a range of considerate and helpful behaviors such as treating others fairly and helping others in need.

In our results, 23% of low scorers on agreeableness reported panic buying compared with 14% of high scorers.


The second strongest predictor was high “neuroticism.”

Neuroticism describes a person’s experience of negative emotions such as worry, anxiety and uncertainty. Those with this trait tend to agree with statements such as “I often feel sad” or “I am temperamental and get emotional easily.”

High scorers experience negative emotions more intensely and more often. Our data shows that 22% of high scorers on neuroticism reported panic buying compared to 12% who scored low.

Our results also suggest these individuals are driven to stockpile to limit their need to go to the supermarket as much as fear of store supplies running out.

Financial stress

Stress also appears to be a significant factor. Panic buyers in our survey were significantly more likely to have been stood down or had their hours reduced due to COVID-19.

Those 32 and younger were about 40% more likely to have panic bought than those older. This is likely due to the economic impacts hitting younger workers hardest, as well as young families generally facing more financial and domestic strain.

Panic buyers also reported more time worrying about COVID-19, and more conflict in their household as a result of the pandemic.

Fear of missing out

The fear of missing out was the main predictor of respondents stockpiling in June. More than half these “late” stockpilers did not do so in April. They were far more likely to agree with the statement “Difficulties in obtaining basic household has been a major source of stress” than the April panic buyers.

So while panic buying is indeed more common in “selfish” people, it might also serve as a coping mechanism. People who experience higher levels of instability and uncertainty—due to personality disposition and/or their life circumstances have been disrupted—are most likely to panic buy and stockpile.

Stockpiling gives such individuals some sense of control and reduces one source of potential stress in their lives—the possible difficulty to obtain essential food and household products.

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Health News

Fat check: Researchers find explanation for stress’ damage in brown fat

In their search for what triggers the damaging side-effects caused by acute psychological stress, Yale researchers found an answer by doing a fat check.

In the face of psychological stress, an immune system response that can significantly worsen inflammatory responses originates in brown fat cells, the Yale team reports June 30 in the journal Cell.

Since the hormones associated with stress, cortisol and adrenaline, generally decrease inflammation, it has long puzzled researchers how stress can worsen health problems such as diabetes and autoimmune disease as well as depression and anxiety.

“In the clinic, we have all seen super-stressful events that make inflammatory disease worse, and that never made sense to us,” said Dr. Andrew Wang, assistant professor of internal medicine and immunobiology, and corresponding author of the study.

Cortisol and adrenaline, hormones released in the classic “flight or fight” stress response, generally suppress the immune system, not activate it. These hormones also initiate a massive metabolic mobilization that provides fuel to the body as it addresses threats.

The scientists found that it was an immune system cell—the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6)—that triggers inflammation in times of stress. IL-6 has also been shown to play a role in autoimmune diseases, cancer, obesity, diabetes, depression and anxiety.

Wang and colleagues began to study the role of IL-6 in stress after a simple observation: When the researchers drew blood from mice, a very stressful procedure, the blood showed elevated levels of the cytokine.

In a series of experiments in mice, designed by Hua Qing and Reina Desrouleaux in Wang’s lab, the researchers found that IL-6, which is usually secreted in response to infections, was induced by stress alone and worsened inflammatory responses in the stressed animals.

And to their surprise, they found that in times of stress IL-6 was secreted in brown fat cells, which are most known for their roles in regulating metabolism and body temperature. When signals from the brain to brown fat cells are blocked, stressful events no longer worsened inflammatory responses.

“This was a completely unexpected finding,” said Qing, a postdoctoral associate at Yale School of Medicine.

The researchers reasoned that IL-6 must play another role in the “fight or flight” response besides triggering inflammation. They learned it also helps prepare the body to increase production of glucose in anticipation of threats. The brown fat cell response causes IL-6 levels to peak well after the metabolic production of glucose and the release of cortisol and adrenaline. This may explain why stress can trigger inflammation even while immune-suppressing hormones are being released, the researchers said.

Blocking IL-6 production not only protected stressed mice from inflammation, it also made them less agitated when placed in a stressful environment.

Wang and his team also suspect IL-6 may play a role in mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Wang observes that many of symptoms of depression, such as loss of appetite and sex drive, mimic those caused by infectious diseases such as the flu—so-called “sickness behaviors”—that can be triggered by IL-6.

Existing drugs designed to treat autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis block the activity of IL-6. Preliminary findings suggest these drugs may help alleviate symptoms of depression, the authors note. There is also preliminary evidence that IL-6 may also play a role in diabetes and obesity as well.

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Health News

Couples sleep better – natural healing naturopathic specialist portal

Improved quality of sleep by co-Sleeping

When couples sleep together, increase the time of Rem sleep, and there is generally less disruption of sleep. One reason seems to be that couples synchronize their sleep.

In the case of a current investigation with the participation of the University of Kiel was found that common Sleep of pairs has a positive effect on the quality of sleep. The results were published in the English scientific journal “Frontiers in Psychiatry”.

What causes common sleep?


Many people around the world to share your bed with your Partner. This raises the question of how the co-Sleeping in a bed affects the sleep itself. To find out, the researchers examined twelve young, healthy, heterosexual couples who spent four days in a sleep laboratory.

Sleep parameters of the Participants were measured

The research group measure, with the help of the dual simultaneous polysomnography in the sleep parameters of the Participants – both in the presence and in the absence of the partner. By the polysomnography sleep was recorded on four levels, from the brain flows to the movements, the breathing, the muscle tension and the heart activity.

Questions about the relationship had to be answered


In addition, the Participants completed questionnaires, which relationship characteristics should be measured. Including, for example, the duration of the relationship, the degree of passionate love and relationship depth.

Increased movement of the limbs found

Interestingly, the research group found in pairs, sharing a bed, increased movement of the limbs during sleep. These movements are not, however, interfere with the sleep structure. In other words, the brain is not expressed: When couples sleep together in a bed, the body is somewhat restless, however.

REM sleep improved by co-Sleeping

The results of the study show that so-called REM-sleep (sleep with rapid eye movements) increases in the sleeping couples and less disturbed, compared to alone nights spent. This is quite relevant, because the REM sleep is associated with emotion regulation, memory consolidation, social interactions and creative problem solving, explains how the research group.

Sleep patterns of couples synchronize

The Team also found that couples synchronize their sleep patterns, if you sleep together in a bed. This synchronization is positively associated with relationship depth. With other words: The higher Participants rated the importance of their relationship for your life, the stronger the synchronization with the Partner.

Less emotional Stress by co-Sleeping

The co-Sleeping seems to be a positive Feedback loop to trigger in REM sleep and stabilizes is improved, which in turn improves the social interactions and the emotional Stress is reduced, the researchers say. Although these possible effects were not measured in the study, specifically, were this to be well-known effects of REM sleep.

Further research is needed

Although the results are promising, but many questions remain still open. In the future, the effect of the common sleep of pairs must be checked in a more diverse sample. Up to now, it seems that the co-Sleeping could be with a Partner in a bed is actually an extra boost in terms of mental health, memory, and creative problem-solving skills, conclude the researchers. (as)

Authors and source of information


Try this deep breathing technique to relieve stress

Incorporate this deep breathing exercise in your daily routine to relieve anxiety and stress.

Rising stress levels could be a result of various things, including one’s financial condition, job or can even be triggered by the prevailing circumstances. Stress has been known to be a root cause of many lifestyle diseases, including diabetes. According to a 1992 study published in Diabetes Care, “Stress is a potential contributor to chronic hyperglycemia in diabetes.” More recently, Rice University’s 2016 study said, ‘a positive link between emotional stress and diabetes found that the connection had roots in the brain’s ability to control anxiety’.

Emphasising on how important it is to deep breathe, lifestyle coach Luke Coutinho shared a deep breathing technique that is useful to relieve stress and anxiety.

You are ONE DEEP BREATH away so many positive changes in your body and mind. More and more medical and scientific research is showing the connection between breathing exercises and Immunity, cancer, better sleep, better emotional health, better digestion, oxygenation at a cellular level, concentration, focus, mindfullness, acidity, inflammation and so much more… it is prana after all …the very reason we are alive today. It's simple, free and can be practiced multiple times a day. Do it the right way. Be informed of the contraindications for certain breathing exercises. Teach this to your kids too. #deepbreathing #powerofbreath #thenewreligionlifestyle

A post shared by Luke Coutinho – Lifestyle (@luke_coutinho) on

In an Instagram post, Coutinho suggested how deep breathing, done on a regular basis, can help people who suffer from stress or anxiety. Here’s what he said: “You are one deep breath away (from) so many positive changes in your body and mind. More and more medical and scientific research is showing the connection between breathing exercises and immunity, cancer, better sleep, better emotional health, better digestion, oxygenation at a cellular level, concentration, focus, mindfulness, acidity, inflammation and so much more… it is prana after all …the very reason we are alive today.”

He further said that the technique is “simple, free and can be practiced multiple times a day. Do it the right way. Be informed of the contraindications for certain breathing exercises.”

ALSO READ | From reducing stress to managing blood sugar: Ashwagandha and its health benefits | Stress triggering diabetes in developing nations | Simple lifestyle changes to reduce your blood sugar level naturally | Simple lifestyle changes to reduce your blood sugar level naturally | What is box breathing

How to deep breathe

*Sit in a comfortable position (floor/chair) with your spine straight and chin parallel to the ground.
*Place one hand on your belly and the other on your heart; gently close your eyes.
*When you breathe in, feel your belly inflate like a balloon.
*When you breathe out, feel your belly deflating. Exhale for longer than you had inhaled.
*Continue breathing this way for five to 10 times.
*Try to make your breath slow and steady.
*Each time you exhale, imagine letting go of your worries.

When to perform it

*Can be done multiple times a day.
*Use this breathing style when stressed/fearful/anxious before going to sleep.

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