The vagus nerve influences nearly every internal organ. Can it improve our mental state, too? The New York Times, June 2, 2022
The vagus nerve has become an object of fascination, especially on social media (TikTok videos with the hashtag “#vagusnerve” have been viewed more than 64 million times). The vagal nerve fibers, which run all the way from the brain to the abdomen, have been anointed by some wellness influencers and companies as the key to reducing anxiety, regulating the nervous system, and helping the body relax. Here’s what the research says

We need to improve indoor air quality: Here’s how and why Scientific American, June 8, 2022
Upgrading buildings’ ventilation, filtration and other factors would not only decrease COVID transmission but also improve health and cognitive performance in general. Covid has injected unprecedented momentum into efforts to improve–and innovate around– air quality inside buildings…finally. 

In your own time: how to live for today the philosophical wayThe Guardian, June 10, 2022  
The author of Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How to Use It thinks there is a kernel of truth in the clichéd advice about the importance of “living in the moment.” The goal is not to meditate ourselves into a mystical state of total presence or concentration, but to simply recognize the fact that the past is past, and that soon we won’t have any future left–so we really might as well be here. “It’s not so bad. Often enough, it’s wonderful. And in any case, there’s nowhere else to be.”

How the Internet turned us into content machinesThe New Yorker, June 4, 2022 
Two new books examine how social media traps users in a brutal race to the bottom. The first (Content) defines content as digital material that “may circulate solely for the purpose of circulating” in an overwhelming flood of text, audio, and video that fills our feeds and has grown to encompass just about everything we consume online. The other (The Internet is Not What You Think It Is) argues that the Internet limits attention, with a business model of digital advertising that incentivizes only brief, shallow interactions.

How to revive your sense of wonderPsyche, May 18, 2022 
Wonder–a word with multiple meanings–motivates targeted explorations and discoveries.  It encourages learning  and enables us to engage with others more fully, helping provide a shield against misinformation. Wonder is embodied in the childhood urge to ask how and why, which usually fades with age. However, as this article explains (with very practical suggestions), we can all learn to rediscover the joys of wide-eyed discovery. 

A Striking Stat

Obesity was responsible for 2.8 million deaths in 2021–and the global costs are reaching $990 million a year, or over 13% of all healthcare expenditures. 

Source:  World Health Organization, May 2022 

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