Every day, the Well+Being section offers expert advice that empowers readers to care for their physical and emotional health. Here are some of your favorite stories, with reflections from the journalists who wrote them about what they learned.
I was struck by how many researchers told me that there weren’t enough studies on women’s menstrual cycles in general, let alone on how the coronavirus vaccines impact periods.
After the story published, thank-you emails came pouring in from women who weren’t believed when they had talked about something being “off” with their periods. It meant a lot to them to see their concerns addressed with a substantive study. — Amanda Morris, disability reporter
Read more about covid shots and periods
The term “normal marital hatred,” coined by the author Terrence Real, is an over-the-top way to describe those vexing, rage-filled, you’re-driving-me-crazy moments every relationship experiences. After the story appeared, many people on social media disavowed ever “hating” their spouse. But privately, by email, DM, text and phone call, I heard from numerous people who said, “I totally get it.”
Real’s advice is to view your relationship as an ecosystem that you share with someone else, and it’s in everybody’s best interest to keep it in balance by taking care of each other. — Tara Parker-Pope, Well+Being editor
Read more about normal marital hatred
I love my cup (or two) of eye-opening coffee each morning, but I also enjoy the occasional calming tea. I started wondering which one may actually be better for me. To find out, I decided to put two of the world’s most popular drinks into the ring for a knockdown fight to see which one would claim the title of “healthiest.”
My colleague Anahad O’Connor combed through the research. The result was a popular and informative presentation comparing each drink for readers to enjoy. — Aaron Steckelberg, senior graphics reporter
Read more about the health benefits of coffee and tea
For a long time, the gut microbiome, the communities of trillions of microbes that live inside our intestines, was considered something of a black box to researchers. Now, an explosion of scientific research is showing that these microbes play important roles in our metabolic, physical and mental health. And we know from new studies that the foods we eat play an outsize role in shaping these microbial communities. Some foods help our healthy gut microbes flourish, while other foods promote less beneficial or even potentially harmful microbes.
The good news is that the dietary changes we can all make to promote our gut health are simple and easy to follow: cut back on processed foods and eat a wide variety of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. — Anahad O’ Connor, Eating Lab columnist
Read more about the best foods to feed your microbiome
It was the description of “active couch potatoes” in the middle of an otherwise sober-minded, scientific study that stopped me cold and convinced me I had to write about this new study. I immediately recognized myself — and almost everyone I know. “Active” couch potatoes, the study’s authors wrote, dutifully exercise but then sit the rest of the day, virtually erasing the health benefits of the exercise.
As someone who sits for long hours writing about exercise, this study’s message resonated and has gotten me up and moving more often. I’ve also heard from many readers that this story encouraged them to pay more attention to just how much time they spend glued to a chair. — Gretchen Reynolds, Your Move columnist
Read more about how sitting too much affects your health
This was a tough story to report — I was addressing problems that can be a downer to contemplate, including climate change, political rancor, a pandemic that won’t quit, the war in Ukraine, inflation and a looming recession. I wanted to validate people’s anxiety and give them ways to avoid sinking into paralysis or despair.
Many of the experts I spoke with reminded me that stressors and traumas may leave scars, but we tend to persevere. Psychologist Paul Slovic’s advice, “Just because you can’t fix an issue, doesn’t mean that you should ignore it,” rang true. I piggybacked onto his sentiment with this advice: Just because you can’t fix an issue, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak up, protest or find some fixable problem to solve. — Lesley Alderman, therapist and freelance writer
Read more about coping with anxiety and stress
We all have that friend or family member who gets eaten alive by mosquitoes. It might even be you. The question is: Why? Leslie Vosshall, the chief scientific officer at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, set out to answer it.
Human blood isn’t just blood, it’s a “big protein shake” for mosquitoes trying to reproduce. The odor mosquitoes are attracted to smells like cheese or smelly feet. And if you’re a “mosquito magnet” now, you will remain so. — Teddy Amenabar, health and well-being reporter
Read more about why mosquitoes are attracted to certain people
Writing about quirky pet behavior was both a joy and a purely selfish exercise to indulge my own curiosity. I’ve lived with cats and dogs for years and have always been intrigued (and mystified) by some of the weird things they do. Zachy, my domestic shorthair tabby, for example, is obsessed with my socks. He picks them up, carries them around, then drops them all over the house.
Chloe, my longhair half-Maine coon, “kneads” my chest incessantly with her front paws whenever she can. And Watson, my big sloppy kisser black Lab, always circles before he poops and paws the ground when he is finished. He also “makes his bed” on top of mine. Raylan, my recently departed yellow shepherd mix and tummy-rub fiend, did the same. — Marlene Cimons, freelance writer
Read more about why your pets do weird things
Boredom as an emotion is not boring. I became fascinated with research showing how far people can go to avoid it, and the purpose it serves by signaling when we could do something more engaging or meaningful.
Many readers wrote that they “never” got bored or that experiencing boredom was only something that boring people felt. In my interviews, researcher James Danckert suggested that some people may just be very good at addressing their boredom so that the emotion only lasts a few seconds.
As psychologist Erin Westgate noted, boredom can help us get the most out of our life. And there’s no need to feel bad for feeling it. — Richard Sima, Brain Matters columnist.
Read more about how your brain copes with boredom
The story about how cardiologist Steven Lome performed CPR on two runners suffering cardiac arrests during a half marathon in California elicited strong reactions online. Some denounced running itself. But to me, the story provided several sobering reminders.
Both runners survived, and this can be largely attributed to the quick actions of Lome and other passersby. Getting certified in CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) training can save lives. And while sudden cardiac arrests are uncommon among road race participants, there are precautions people should take. Talk with your doctor before participating in an endurance event, especially if you have risk factors. And most importantly, listen to your body. — Kelyn Soong, fitness and exercise reporter
Read more about heart health and running
Gender bias in health care, particularly concerning women’s pain, is well-established in medical literature. I had heard many anecdotal reports from women about their pain being dismissed or misdiagnosed by medical professionals.
Some women with very real physical problems were instead diagnosed with mental health conditions. I wanted to write a story that would build upon what we know — that this bias is real and harmful — and show readers how it happens. The best way to do that was to help women share their own stories.
I was struck by the realization that bias regarding women’s pain is not just an issue with male clinicians. Female doctors and nurses can hold the same views. So can men and women outside the medical system. It is part of our culture. — Lindsey Bever, health and well-being reporter
Read more from women who complained of pain and were ignored
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Body: What’s the difference between RSV, the flu and covid-19? You don’t have to worry about your stomach exploding if you overeat. For some with ADHD, brown noise quiets the brain.
Life: The Well+Being gift guide has our picks for the body, mind, pets and more. These five tips from experts can help students take a mental health break from college. What to feed and not feed pets from holiday dishes.
Food: Diet changes can improve sleep apnea, even without weight loss. Fiber alters the microbiome and may boost cancer treatment. How to support your sober friends when everyone is drinking.
Fitness: Dogs and humans both can get dementia, and more walks can help. Pickleball is popular, but how much exercise are you really getting? This is the speedy scientific workout you can do almost anywhere.
Mind: Tips for parents to help teens struggling with mental health issues. Want to feel happier? Try snacking on joy. Three ways to fix sleep issues when nothing else works.
11 health tips from your favorite Well+Being stories in 2022 – The Washington Post