How can a family function better? Get outside together

first_imgShare LinkedIn Getting out in nature, even for just a 20-minute walk, can go a long way toward restoring your attention. But does it have the same effect when you make it a family activity?Family studies researchers at the University of Illinois have looked at the benefits of spending time in nature as a family, and theorize that families who regularly get outside together tend to function better.“When your attention is restored, you’re able to pick up on social cues more easily, you feel less irritable, and you have more self-control. All of these are variables that can help you get along better with others,” explains Dina Izenstark, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at U of I, and lead author of a recent study published in the Journal of Family Theory and Review. Share on Facebook Share on Twittercenter_img Email Pinterest Although research has already shown that exposure to natural environments can improve attention, Izenstark says the research is limited in that it is primarily focused on individuals and very short-term nature exposures.“Our research adds to that by asking, ‘what happens if you’re in nature and not alone, but you’re with a family member?’ We’re asking because we know that time spent in nature is often with one’s family, especially for children,” Izenstark says. “Our research takes into consideration the family unit, and if and how improved attention from being in nature transfers to family outcomes. We theorize that when your attention is restored, it transfers to your family relationships and allows you to get along better with your family members.”Izenstark and co-author Aaron Ebata, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at U of I, reviewed existing studies on how families use natural environments under the frameworks of attention restoration theory and family routines and rituals perspective. Attention restoration theory, first developed by Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, describes how interaction with natural environments can reduce mental fatigue and restore attentional functioning. Izenstark and Ebata’s goal was to develop a new theoretical approach to studying the benefits of family-based nature activities.Izenstark explains, “There is a growing body of literature that utilizes attention restoration theory to show how exposure to nature can restore attentional functioning. Kaplan and Kaplan propose that the natural environment is a unique context because it often has the four characteristics that encourage restored attention: being away, fascination, extent, and compatibility.“Everyone only has a finite amount of attention. Especially in today’s society where we are constantly looking at our cellphones or working on our computers and our email keeps popping up; we are constantly fatiguing our directed attention, but we’re not always aware that we’re doing it. It’s so important that we incorporate moments into our everyday lives that we can look into nature and experience soft fascination to restore our attention. When you’re at an amusement park or watching a sporting event, you’re using your hard fascination. Your brain does not have the opportunity to relax or restore itself. Even though you enjoy the activity, it’s still fatiguing you.”Ebata agrees, “There’s this notion that watching TV is relaxing. All the research we know shows that in fact it may not be as restorative as other things that might be even more beneficial.”The concept of feeling like one is getting away from the day-to-day also benefits the family. “Coming from experience, when you are a parent, especially with young active children and you’re feeling a little stressed, there is something about going to a park and letting them run off and be able to take a breath and watching them have fun,” Ebata says. “When you’re home and still in charge, that doesn’t feel like being away. But when you’re out, there is something about natural places that almost releases parents from feeling like they are on duty in the same way they are at home. They are still on duty, maybe in a different way.”So in addition to nature’s ability to restore attention, which in turn helps family members get along better, the researchers see how important it is for families to have nature-based routines or rituals that they participate in regularly. A common example for families might be walking the dog together almost every evening. This might be a simple activity, but one that brings a sense of belonging and identity to family members, the researchers say.Ultimately, when the family can communicate “who we are” to each other, through their routines and rituals, it also helps with family functioning.“Say a family goes to a park every Sunday. If you look at the long-term effects of family-based nature activities, you will see over time that the experience can foster a sense of identity and belonging. Because they go regularly or repeatedly, it’s a family ritual, and in addition to the benefits of short-term exposure enjoyed during visits, they have a shared experience which helps make them who they are as a family, something that can be passed down through generations,” Izenstark explains. “Even if you have a bad day during a visit, say you get rained on and everyone gets soaked, the total benefit of that ritual for the family becomes larger than just individual, short term benefits. The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.”Ebata recognizes that some families just don’t like to be outside. “There is research that shows that families that spend time in joint activities tend to have better relationship later on. But people tend to lump any kind of activity together, including watching TV,” Ebata says. “We would argue that if you only watch TV together, that may not be as beneficial for the relationship as other kinds of more interactive activities. I have recommended watching TV together really as a stimulus for being able to talk to each other about different types of things. If that goes together, it can enhance relationships.”Izenstark agrees, “Many different types of leisure activities are associated with a variety of family functioning outcomes. We are saying we agree with that, but our study proposes that activities in nature have the potential to have greater positive outcomes than other leisure contexts. Leisure activities are one of the few contexts where families spend time together today. We want to encourage families, even if you only have 20 minutes to spend together and you want to maximize the benefit of that time for your family, go take a walk in nature together.”In a continuing study, Izenstark is testing their theory. For the experiment, moms and daughters are asked to take a 20-minute walk at the mall, as well as a 20-minute walk at the park. Izenstark is looking at whether attention restoration for the mom and daughter happened more after a walk at the park or a walk at the mall.last_img read more

Outrageous fortune

first_imgStay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe now for unlimited access Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our communitylast_img read more

Why are so many homes empty when we have a housing crisis?

first_imgTwo separate but related scandals demand our urgent attention.The first is the number of young people facing homelessness. Well over 120,000 young people a year approach their local authorities for help and advice around homelessness – as many as 85,000 go on to become homeless.It is a disgrace that so many young people have nowhere to call home, no safe and stable place in which to study, from which to go to work, to which they can return with friends or family. It’s a tragedy for those young people, and it’s a tragedy for us as a nation – what a waste of talent and ambition.The second scandal is that around 220,000 properties lie empty and unused for longer than six months in England alone. Following a successful government programme, the number of empty homes reduced from well over half a million, but that funding stopped in 2015. And so the number of empty homes rose again.Whilst empty homes have slipped down the government’s agenda, public opinion remains strongly in favour of taking action. Research by the Empty Homes Charity, released today, has found that four in five (83%) British adults believe the government should place a higher priority on tackling empty homes, and I agree. This is a cheap and effective option that addresses homelessness directly and quickly. It’s a win-win.As we face the worst housing and homelessness crisis in a generation, every empty property that could be used, should be usedAdmittedly, not all vacant properties are readily available for refurbishment and re-use. A majority are in the private sector – a much smaller number in local authority or RSL stock – and some are locked in probate. Others may be owned by those unable to afford the costs of refurbishment.But as we face the worst housing and homelessness crisis in a generation, every empty property that could be used, should be used.  And they should be brought back into use now.LandAid is the property industry charity. Funded with support from over 120 companies and their staff, one of our major campaigns is Sponsor a Home. Partners pledge to raise £30,000 – the average cost of refurbishing a two-bed property and bringing it back into use – through a variety of means including corporate donations, fundraising, and supply chain engagement.With projects in the pipeline around the country, we’re harnessing the industry’s skill and passion for building things and making places better, and their concern and determination to tackle youth homelessness. Through our initiatives, properties are bought at auction, gifted to charities, or leased at highly preferential terms. And, in over 90% of the projects we support, young people are being trained in the construction skills required to get the job done – simultaneously increasing their employability.This week is national Empty Homes Week. We salute the tireless campaigning work of the Empty Homes charity and its predecessors, the patient funding of fellow grant makers around the UK like the Nationwide and Ovo Foundations supporting this work, and the enthusiastic support of the eight companies that have pledged to sponsor a home with LandAid.Too many young people are homeless. Too many potential homes lie empty. We should all be ashamed that more is not being done to address this appalling and paradoxical situation.Help LandAid help charities around the UK to join the dots and tackle these two scandals.Paul Morrish, CEO LandAidlast_img read more

NC senator says ‘I’m fine’ after race collapse

first_imgNC senator says ‘I’m fine’ after race collapse Published: May 17, 2017 9:15 AM EDT Updated: May 17, 2017 12:03 PM EDT WASHINGTON (AP) Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina said Wednesday he’s “fine” after collapsing during a Washington, D.C., race and being taken away by ambulance.Tillis posted a video on Twitter from his hospital bed hours after the early morning race.“Hey everybody, I’m fine. Just running about 2 and a half miles in and got overheated, no CPR, no special measures, just checking me out. See you back on the Hill,” the first-term senator said.Tillis, 56, was seen on the ground at about 15-20 minutes into the race, which started at 8 a.m. Bystanders were observed working on the senator in what appeared to be cardiac pulmonary resuscitation, but Tillis said there was no CPR administered.Tillis at first appeared unconscious but was revived and breathing when taken away by ambulance. Tillis was participating in the ACLI Capital Challenge race, an annual event in Anacostia Park in the district. He was leading his own team, “Team Tillis.”Many politicians and other prominent Washington, D.C., figures run the annual race. Proceeds go to charity.When not in Washington, Tillis lives north of Charlotte and is a former speaker of the North Carolina General Assembly. He was elected to the Senate in 2014.Tillis is known for his athleticism as an avid mountain biker and participant in obstacle endurance races.He is married to Susan Tillis and has two children. Author: Associated Press center_img SHARE Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know.last_img read more

Co-op Legal in profit despite income slump

first_imgCo-operative Legal Services is trading at a profit three years after becoming the first consumer brand to enter the legal services market as an alternative business structure, the group reported today.In final results for the 52 weeks ended 3 January, the business reported an underlying operating loss of £5m, down from £9m in 2013, on revenue of £23m, down from £33m in 2013.Co-operative Legal Services, part of the Co-operative Group, blamed the fall in revenue on a decline in personal injury income following the Jackson civil litigation reforms and on the ‘restructuring of the business’.Caoilionn Hurley, financial director, said that all the losses had been incurred in the first half of the year, during which the business’s headcount fell from 560 to 342. In the first six months Co-op Legal chalked up a loss of £5,050,000, but edged into the black in the second half to post a £50,000 profit.Matt Howells (pictured), managing director of Co-operative Legal Services, said 2015 would be the ‘foundation year for our legal services businesses’.Describing the results as ‘in line with expectations’, he said they reflect ‘a year of two halves’. Family, wills and probate practices all reported positive growth, he said.  ‘This year, we are continuing to lay the foundations to build the business. We will be investing in our people, processes and technology and developing a range of products and services to support customer and member needs.‘We firmly believe that in a fragmented market there remains an opportunity to provide customers and members with high standards of customer service, transparent pricing and an affordable range of legal services, building a legal brand that consumers know and trust.’The group said: ‘With legal services increasingly a multi-channel, digitised market, we are enhancing our digital platform and capability, which will be released in early quarter 3 2015.’The Co-op was the first non-legal brand to enter the legal services market following liberalisation in 2012. Overall, the group reported an operating profit of £172m, down from £177m in 2013, on revenue of £9.4bn, down from £9.7bn. The UK’s largest mutual business announced that the first phase of its three-year turnaround had been completed successfully. The group announced a ‘member-centric’ strategy for its troubled general insurance business of ‘building strong data and analytical capabilities and developing key distribution partnerships’. The statement added: ‘We are developing similar plans for our Consumer Services Division – funerals and legal.’However, Howells denied that the investment in technology implied any plan to begin cold-calling funeral clients with legal services offerings.last_img read more

HMCTS cuts jobs despite steep rise in unpaid fines

first_imgThe value of outstanding court fines leapt 10% last year to over £600m as the government slashed the number of permanent staff in enforcement, the Gazette can reveal.Some £612m was owed to HM Courts & Tribunals Service in August 2015, up from £557m a year earlier.The sum includes fines imposed in the magistrates’ and Crown courts, prosecution costs orders, compensation orders and victim surcharge orders. While the outstanding balance leapt, the number of permanent staff members employed to administer collection of financial penalties fell, from 1,324 in August 2014 to 1,120 a year later. Agency staff were recruited to fill gaps, with temporary headcount rising from 165 people to 318.HMCTS says it is committed to collecting outstanding amounts, but critics will ask why enforcement efforts appear to be shrinking.The data was disclosed following a freedom of information request made by the Gazette last August to which HMCTS responded last week. The response also reveals a cut in spending on fine collection. The budget for the administration and collection of financial imposition was £44.3m in 2014/15, with £42.9m forecast to be spent in 2015/16.The last time total outstanding court fines were so high was five years ago, when the Gazette found they had risen by £21m in 12 months to £609.5m.Since then, the figure had gently declined each year until 2015.HMCTS said collection reached an all-time high at the end of 2014/15 with a total of £310m collected in the year. The total amount collected in 2014/15 was £20m (7%) more than in the previous 12 months.It added: ‘HMCTS takes the issue of financial penalty enforcement very seriously and is working to ensure that clamping down on defaulters  is a continued priority nationwide.’last_img read more

Weighed within 0·05%

first_imgWEIGHT: A vehicle weighing track installed at Bombardier’s Derby plant by Avery Weigh-Tronix can measure rolling stock weight distribution to within 0·05%, thanks to rail transponders and a controlled environment where wind, rain and rough terrain cannot affect results.The Weighline WI 1310 static rail weighing system was developed to provide deliver reliable, repeatable measurements axle by axle, producing a continuous display of the gross weight of each wheel as well as the total. The Derby installation can measure static weight to within 2·5 kg on each wheel. The equipment compensates for temperature fluctuations, and can cope with high dynamic overloads or off-set loadings. The date and time, vehicle number, wheel, axle, bogie and total weight are collected, stored and transmitted to a PC electronically, reducing operator involvement to minimise the potential for mistakes. I-Line software can indicate overloads, overspeeds and side-to-side and end-to-end imbalances.last_img read more

Basalt fibre insulated tank wagons ordered

first_imgRUSSIA: Chemical producer Bashkir Soda Co has ordered more than 70 Type 15-6900 tank wagons from United Wagon Co subsidiary TikhvinChemMash to carry caustic sodium hydroxide. Deliveries are scheduled by the end of 2016.In a development which the manufacturer claims is ‘unique to the market’, these wagons will incorporate mats of moisture-resistant basalt fibre thermal insulation to prevent the contents freezing even when ambient temperatures are as low as -40°C.The wagons will have a 54·5 m3 tank and 25 tonne axleload bogies allowing a payload of 73 tonnes, a 12% improvement on older designs.last_img read more

IRC to review electricity rates in Dominica

first_imgLocalNews IRC to review electricity rates in Dominica by: – October 8, 2013 31 Views   no discussions Share Tweet Sharecenter_img A review of Dominica’s electricity rates is to be conducted next year, the Independent Regulatory Commission (IRC) has announced. Executive director of the IRC Lancelot McCaskey made the announcement at the handing over ceremony of two 25 year licenses to the Dominica Electricity Company (DOMLEC) on Monday, 7th October. Mr. McCaskey explained that this imminent review is a component of the new 25 year license granted to company. He also noted that DOMLEC has not had a rate review since the IRC began operating here in 2007. “One of the things that we got from the license was the fact that DOMLEC is constrained to within seven days of the start of the licenses, advised the Commission of the process it will take to have a rate review that must begin not more than nine months after the start of the license which means that if the license starts on January 1st then some time by September we should begin a rate review,” he said. Dominicans have been calling for a review of the electricity rate amid claims that it is just too high. Some local hoteliers have also written to the government asking that the value added tax (VAT) be exempted from the price of electricity.Dominicans are being charged at least $1.16 cents per kilowatt hour, making the island among the highest in the Caribbean region.Government it optimistic that the cost of electricity could be reduced by 30 to 40 percent with the construction of a 15 megawatt geothermal energy plant which could be ready by the year 2015. DOMLEC is the island’s sole electricity supplier, serving over 34,000 customers.Dominica Vibes News Sharing is caring! Sharelast_img read more

Six killed as heavy rains pound Haiti

first_img Sharing is caring! 214 Views   no discussions NewsRegional Six killed as heavy rains pound Haiti by: – November 4, 2014 Share Sharecenter_img Tweet Share (file photo)PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) – At least six people were killed as heavy rains pounded the northern and western sections of Haiti, according to the Departmental Coordinator Civil Protection Nadia Lochard.Lochard said the rains, which had also forced the cancellation of several flights to Cap Haitien, were responsible for a wall collapsing on a house in Fontamara killing three children ages six to 10 years.The children’s mother was also injured during the incident.In the north, three other people were killed. The authorities said the body of Danielle Saint-Hilaire was found on Monday while 40-year-old Exza Jean-Baptiste, was electrocuted in the community of Limonade.The authorities also found the body of 64-year-old Jaccius Saingulier.They said the extent of the damage in areas such as Limonade, Cap-Haïtien, Grande-Rivière-du-Nord, Limbé, Petite-Ance and Fort Saint-Michel, has not yet been finalised, but initial reports said that at least 2,000 houses have been flooded and some destroyed.last_img read more