All posts by Madison McGuire

Screen Fatigue

Zoom Exhaustion is Real. Here Are Six Ways to Find Balance and Stay  Connected - Mindful

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Prachi Shah

In recent months, millions of people around the world began using online video conferencing software for everything from business meetings to classes to weddings. While Zoom and other video chat programs have been invaluable in allowing our schools, businesses, and communities to continue operating in some fashion during the pandemic, many individuals are now beginning to point out the exhaustion they feel at the end of the day following several hours spent on camera. This phenomenon has come to be known as “video conference fatigue,” and social scientists say that there are a number of reasons why we may be experiencing this novel source of stress.

In-person, human communication has evolved over thousands of years, and while we often think of spoken language as the key to communication, studies have shown that more than half of our communication comes from intonation and nonverbal cues such as face and body position. Moreover, conversational aspects such as timing are vital to having a fluid, natural interaction and are so ingrained that even newborn babies show signs of this synchrony in their interactions. Video chat may disrupt this synchrony and the perception of nonverbal cues since there is often a split-second lag between a speaker and the listeners. Since video calls usually only feature someone from the shoulders up, aspects of nonverbal communication such as posture might be more difficult to perceive. 

In person, periodic, short sections of eye contact are considered a vital part of any interaction, as it’s been shown to play an important role in the participants getting feedback from and establishing a comfortable level of intimacy in the conversation. On video chat, each participant must make a choice between providing eye contact to another person (by looking directly into the camera) or receiving eye contact from another person (by looking at the screen where their video is streaming), which might contribute to feelings of screen fatigue. 

Some tips from experts for limiting video conference fatigue:

  1. Schedule time in between meetings when you can turn off the camera, stretch, and take time for yourself to help you recharge.
  2. Turn off the feature where you can see yourself, which takes away the need for you to spend your mental energy gauging how you look to others.
  3. Establish a consistent routine and a standard place where you work, and keep it separate from areas and times when you are relaxing.

All-day video calls can be exhausting, but being deliberate about how to incorporate these into one’s daily work using these and other tips can help combat video conference fatigue as we go through the next few months virtually.,other%207%25%20from%20words%20said.

The Feminine Cotton Controversy

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Madison McGuire

While we often associate the word “organic” with our produce and dairy options at the supermarket, this label has become increasingly attached to an intimate product used by millions of Americans each month: tampons. Although they’ve been around since the ‘80s, organic tampons have recently risen in popularity, and several brands frequently advertised on social media can be delivered to your door. Some women claim that these tampons have reduced their menstrual cramps or irritation, but has science found actual health benefits to switching to these more expensive products marketed as more “natural”?

Regular tampons are made from cotton and rayon (a substance derived from wood pulp), but they may also contain plastic components in the string or applicator and chemicals used for fragrance. On the other hand, organic tampons are one-hundred percent cotton and free from dyes, plastics, bleach, fragrances, and pesticide-treated cotton. Even though larger tampon companies aren’t as transparent about their complete ingredient list, the FDA considers all tampons a Class II Medical Device, and the industry is highly regulated. 

Dioxin, an environmental pollutant that has been linked to cancer and hormone disruption, was once found in trace amounts in conventional tampons when the wood pulp used to make rayon was bleached using chlorine gas. This chemical is still a source of concern for many women, but the FDA has stated that tampons are no longer bleached using elemental chlorine, so dioxin levels are negligible in every type of tampon. In fact, 90% of human exposure to dioxins is actually through food. One study showed dioxin concentration in tampons was “13,000-240,000 times less than dietary exposures.”

Research also found that non-organic cotton in regular tampons may contain trace amounts of the pesticide glyphosate, an herbicide used to kill weeds and rumored to be carcinogenic. The EPA, however, says it’s “not likely” to be carcinogenic, and the main risk of glyphosate exposure is through food or drinking water. 

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a rare but potentially fatal condition caused by a toxin produced by an overgrowth of bacteria. Cases of TSS spiked in 1980, which led super high-absorbency tampons to be pulled from the market. Many still have the misconception that regular tampons put women at a higher risk of contracting TSS than organic tampons, but a study comparing toxin growth in 11 types of tampons actually found higher levels of the dangerous toxin in cotton-only tampons versus regular tampons that included rayon and/or viscose as ingredients. Researchers hypothesized this is because cotton-only tampons are less structured with more air between fibers, which can help the bacteria to grow. Whether you opt for organic tampons or not, TSS is extremely rare and mostly depends on the absorbability and the length of use of a single tampon. 

Overall, there is not much scientific evidence to suggest that non-organic tampons are harmful to women’s health or that organic tampons are less harmful. Organic tampon manufacturers have put out warnings claiming that the ingredients used in conventional tampons can cause health problems, including period cramps, birth defects, infertility, and even cancer, but many doctors say there is simply not enough scientific evidence at this time to substantiate those claims or connect any health condition to any one ingredient in tampons. Many people make the switch to organic tampons based on the environmental benefits, but there are actually alternative products, such as menstrual cups or reusable menstrual underwear, that are more eco-friendly. No matter which feminine hygiene product is the new fad, it all comes down to personal preference and having the agency to decide what’s right for your own body.


Baby Walker Worries

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Madison McGuire

Baby walkers are wheeled devices consisting of a suspended fabric seat with leg holes that allow infants to push themselves around before they can walk. Some people believe that baby walkers can help their baby learn to walk. While these devices might seem like a great way to entertain or stimulate a child, they may delay a baby’s ability to walk independently and can cause serious injuries from the device tipping over or moving towards dangerous areas, such as an oven or a swimming pool. 

There is some research to suggest baby walkers may cause a delay in motor development. A previous study showed that 102 infants who used baby walkers started crawling about a month later and started walking about 3 weeks later on average than the 88 infants who didn’t. The delay was shown to be about 3 days for every 24 hours of walker use. According to many physicians, the explanation is that babies use their leg muscles in a different way while being suspended in a baby walker compared to pulling themselves up and learning to walk. Since the infants can’t see their legs or feet in the walker, they are not receiving the visual feedback normally associated with moving their limbs. When a baby is spending time in the walker rather than playing on the floor or learning pre-walking skills, such as rolling over, sitting up, and pulling up, they are not practicing movement and balance. 

The enhanced mobility also puts the child at risk for falling down the stairs, crashing into something, or easily reaching for potentially harmful items, even under a parent’s watch. Rather than using walkers, parents are encouraged to allow their baby to spend lots of time on the floor in a playpen to practice the movements needed for them to reach their walking milestones.