Smartphone doesn’t mean available 24/7

Since the release of the smartphone, we have all become more interconnected over the internet. It has definitely improve our lives in general by allowing us to access content from wherever we are and do the things previously we need a computer for. The side effect of that is it has also given rise to the expectation that all of us should be readily contactable even in the wee hours of the night.

There are stories I heard from my friends and read about online where some bosses would wake up as early as 4am to start sending work-related emails and messages to their subordinates and expect them to reply within minutes. Failure to do so would mean certain kind of penalty. Maybe you are pass over for promotion. Maybe you won’t get as much bonus as your colleagues who are more active.

As a software engineer, I’m not spared from that kind of expectation. There is this unspoken rule where I have to be available on weekends and late nights to respond to issues the customer faced. And I’m not saying all software engineers face this issue. Some get to work in a very chill culture where they can focus on just development work. So much so, I’m envious. Then there are those who work on projects or products that are available 24/7 will have to be ready to troubleshoot issues 24/7 too. Think engineers working at Netflix, Amazon Web Service, etc. So in a way, you are no different from doctors and nurses working in an ER.

Now, depending on your personality and tolerance, you may find yourself stressed out just by the very idea of anticipating receiving messages late in the night. I know I will. And for those who can handle such a culture will inevitably burn out when they have to be on edge or standby for long period of time. So you can see how, the requirement to be constantly online and available is just bad for your mental health.

Therefore, it’s very important to set boundaries if you don’t want to fall sick. Different people require different amount of rest time. Some people are also just better at compartmentalisation while some are not. Then there are highly-sensitive people to consider since they may not operate very well under high-stress, suffered from reduced rest and have tons of things to do, especially if they haven’t develop their own proven system for stress management and reduction.

For a start, you have to be assertive. You have to be ready to set expectations when it comes to your rest time, play time and work time. If you keep quiet, your bosses, family and friends would expect you to reply as soon as you receive their messages.

In the past, I would just keep quiet and be ready to respond to any messages received about work issues. But it always stress me out and tend to ruin my day. And bad mood spreads very fast especially when you are out with friends. These days, it’s different. I realised I could no longer keep quiet. So now, my team lead knows I need more rest and my body is ultra sensitive to certain allergens, and can fall sick easily. Thus, I don’t get that much work-related messages from him. Of course, it’s important that you are empathic here. Your colleagues are also humans and they need their rest too. And the company hire you to do a job and be professional. So they would expect business problems to be solved on time. So you have to compromise sometimes and do the work when required.

And it’s obvious that you can’t quit or leave work-related WhatsApp chat groups unless you have no intention of keeping your job. So what you can do for the sake of your mental health is to mute those groups. This way, you still can continue to use your phone for other purpose without seeing those work messages until the time you should.

But then, why should you stay on your phone for such a long time?

If muting chat groups ain’t enough and find that you are still susceptible to receiving calls from work, you can also activate your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” mode where calls, messages, notifications will all be silenced if not rejected. The latest iOS 12 release come with Screen Time feature that you can use it to limit your access to certain apps too. So in this case, you can block all the communication apps.

For me, I schedule “Do Not Disturb” to be active from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. Having an internet-connected smartphone doesn’t mean you have to be online 24/7. Your situation probably is different. So you have to schedule the “Do not disturb” mode according to your needs. But the idea is you get to switch off from work when you are not working. That way you can focus on doing the things that you should be doing at home.

If your bosses have boundary problems and make a big fuss about you blocking their calls late at night, then maybe you should evaluate whether your happiness and health is more important than the job.

Wednesday Science News Roundup #27

Below are 10 science news that I found interesting and are related to topics I care about.

Depression linked to reduced arginine levels – People suffering from major depressive disorder, MDD, have reduced arginine levels, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows. Arginine is an amino acid which the body uses to produce, e.g., nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, in turn, is a nervous system and immune defence mediator, and it also plays a role in vascular regulation. The global arginine bioavailability ratio, GABR, is an indicator of the body’s arginine levels, and the ratio has previously been used to measure the body’s capacity to produce nitric oxide. Reduced arginine bioavailability is also known to be an independent risk factor of cardiovascular diseases. Science Daily

New stem-cell based stroke treatment repairs damaged brain tissue – A team of researchers at the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center and ArunA Biomedical, a UGA startup company, have developed a new treatment for stroke that reduces brain damage and accelerates the brain’s natural healing tendencies in animal models. They published their findings in the journal Translational Stroke Research. Science Daily

First vaccine in the world developed against grass pollen allergy – Around 400 million people world-wide suffer in some form or other from a grass pollen allergy (rhinitis) — with the usual symptoms such as a runny nose, cough and severe breathing problems. In collaboration with the Viennese firm Biomay AG, MedUni Vienna researchers at the Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research have now shown in a Phase II-b study with 180 patients in 11 European centres, that four injections of the synthetically manufactured vaccine BM32 in the first year and a top-up in the second year of treatment relieve the sufferers’ symptoms by at least 25%. Science Daily

We Might Finally Know Why The Blood of Young People Can Rejuvenate Old Brains – Scientists have been rejuvenating old mice with infusions of not just the blood of younger mice, but even blood from teenage human beings – and we finally have our first clues on why this strange technique works. Science Alert

Here’s Why Matching Your Diet to Your DNA Is a Waste of Time – Diets have always gone through fads. The grapefruit diet, Atkins, paleo, Whole30 – like a many-headed weight-loss hydra, just as soon as one falls out of favor, another rises in its place. Science Alert

Scientists Just Discovered a Never-Before-Seen Structure in Human Sperm – The sperm’s tail is perhaps one of the most iconic structures among all of the cells in the human body, so it’s odd to think there are still some things we don’t know about it. Science Alert

Household products make surprisingly large contributions to air pollution – In urban areas, emissions from consumer goods such as paint, cleaning supplies and personal care products now contribute as much to ozone and fine particulate matter in the atmosphere as do emissions from burning gasoline or diesel fuel. Science News

Babies can recover language skills after a left-side stroke – A stroke on the left side of the brain often damages important language-processing areas. But people who have this stroke just before or after birth recover their language abilities in the mirror image spot on the right side, a study of teens and young adults shows. Those patients all had normal language skills, even though as much as half of their brain had withered away, researchers reported February 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Science News

GM Crops Found To Increase Yields And Reduce Harmful Toxins In 21 Years Of Data – A study looking at 21 years of data on genetically modified crops (GMOs) in the US has found that not only can they increase crop yields, but they can also be good for you. IFLScience

Heavy Drinking Is The Biggest Avoidable Risk Factor In The Onset Of Dementia – An analysis of more than a million dementia patients has found that chronic heavy drinking puts you at serious risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, alcohol use disorders were found to be the biggest avoidable risk factor in the onset of dementia. IFLScience

Wednesday Science News Roundup #26

Below are 10 science news that I found interesting and are related to topics I care about.

Alzheimer’s disease reversed in mouse model – Researchers have found that gradually depleting an enzyme called BACE1 completely reverses the formation of amyloid plaques in the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s disease, thereby improving the animals’ cognitive function. The study raises hopes that drugs targeting this enzyme will be able to successfully treat Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Science Daily

Experimental therapy restores nerve insulation damaged by disease – When the body attacks its own healthy tissues in an autoimmune disease, peripheral nerve damage handicaps people and causes persistent neuropathic pain when insulation on healing nerves doesn’t fully regenerate. Unfortunately, there are no effective ways to treat the condition. Now scientists describe an experimental molecular therapy that restores insulation on peripheral nerves in mice, improves limb function, and results in less observable discomfort. Science Daily

Poor fitness linked to weaker brain fiber, higher dementia risk – Scientists have more evidence that exercise improves brain health and could be a lifesaving ingredient that prevents Alzheimer’s disease. Science Daily

Ancient ozone holes may have sterilized forests 252 million years ago – Volcano-fueled holes in Earth’s ozone layer 252 million years ago may have repeatedly sterilized large swaths of forest, setting the stage for the world’s largest mass extinction event. Such holes would have allowed ultraviolet-B radiation to blast the planet. Even radiation levels below those predicted for the end of the Permian period damage trees’ abilities to make seeds, researchers report February 7 in Science Advances. Science News

The small intestine, not the liver, is the first stop for processing fructose – When it comes processing fructose, the liver is a pinch hitter for the small intestine. Science News

Humans are overloading the world’s freshwater bodies with phosphorus – Human activities are driving phosphorus levels in the world’s lakes, rivers and other freshwater bodies to a critical point. The freshwater bodies on 38 percent of Earth’s land area (not including Antarctica) are overly enriched with phosphorus, leading to potentially toxic algal blooms and less available drinking water, researchers report January 24 in Water Resources Research. Science News

Watch nerve cells being born in the brains of living mice – Brain scientists have filmed a first-of-a-kind birth video. It reveals specialized cells in the brains of mice dividing to create newborn nerve cells. Science News

Surprise Discovery Shows We Have Been Totally Wrong About The Size of Andromeda Galaxy – A new technique for measuring the mass of galaxies has been applied to our closest galactic neighbour – and it has found that the Andromeda galaxy is roughly the same size as the Milky Way, and not two to three times bigger as was previously thought. Science Alert

Scientists Just Found a Super-Powerful New Class of Antibiotics in Dirt – The modern medical era began when an absent-minded British scientist named Alexander Fleming returned from vacation to find that one of the petri dishes he forgot to put away was covered in a bacteria-killing mould. He had discovered penicillin, the world’s first antibiotic. Science Alert

An Incredible New Type of Brain Implant Can Boost Memory by 15% – Neural implants that claim to boost memory function aren’t new, but a novel approach to the problem has led to a device that listens to the brain before responding. Science Alert

Wednesday Science News Roundup #19

Below are 10 science news that I found interesting and are related to topics I care about.

Scientists describe how solar system could have formed in bubble around giant star – Scientists have laid out a comprehensive theory for how our solar system could have formed in the wind-blown bubbles around a giant, long-dead star. The study addresses a nagging cosmic mystery about the abundance of two elements in our solar system compared to the rest of the galaxy. Science Daily

Memristors power quick-learning neural network – A new type of neural network made with memristors can dramatically improve the efficiency of teaching machines to think like humans. The network, called a reservoir computing system, could predict words before they are said during conversation, and help predict future outcomes based on the present. Science Daily

Specks in the brain attract Alzheimer’s plaque-forming protein – Globs of an inflammation protein beckon an Alzheimer’s protein and cause it to accumulate in the brain, a study in mice finds. The results, described in the Dec. 21/28 Nature, add new details to the relationship between brain inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease. Science News

New Type Of Bizarre Quantum Material Discovered – Reports are flying around the Web that speak of the creation of a fabled quantum material that may have some relatively magical properties. Whenever anyone suggests that a new quantum material has been discovered, skepticism should be front and center. IFLScience

Physicists Have Created a Set of Conditions in Which Time Seems to Run in Reverse – While we all take for granted the fact that time’s arrow forever points towards the future, physicists have always had trouble showing why this is necessarily the case. Science Alert

Scientists Observe Bizarre ‘Double Whirlpools’ in The Ocean For The First Time – For the first time, scientists have recorded a bizarre phenomenon in fluid dynamics, which up until now had only ever been theoretically predicted, but never observed in the wild. Science Alert

Federal maps underestimate flood risk for tens of millions of people, scientists warn – NEW ORLEANS — National flood maps are underestimating the risk for tens of millions of people in the United States. That’s the conclusion of researchers presenting a new study December 11 at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting. Science News

Christmas Music Could Harm Your Mental Health – You might want to put the Christmas decorations down for a second and unwrap some presents, because there’s a new warning that Christmas music could be bad for your mental health. That’s right, if you’re in the mood to hum along to Mariah Carey’s Christmas jingles, it might be best to leave the high notes to her this year. IFLScience

Gay, lesbian and bisexual high schoolers report ‘tragically high’ suicide risk – High school students who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual are more likely to report planning or attempting suicide compared with their heterosexual peers, a new study finds. Science News

Why Left-Handers Are Less Likely To Believe In God But More likely To Believe In The Paranormal – What do left-handed people and those with schizophrenia have in common? It may not be the first thing that springs to mind, but it’s religion, or rather a lack thereof, according to a new study. IFLScience

10 Science News Roundup #9

Here are 10 science news that I find interesting and important to take note.

What training exercise boosts brain power best? New research finds out – One of the two brain-training methods most scientists use in research is significantly better in improving memory and attention, Johns Hopkins University researchers found. It also results in more significant changes in brain activity. Science Daily

Brain waves reflect different types of learning – Figuring out how to pedal a bike and memorizing the rules of chess require two different types of learning, and now for the first time, researchers have been able to distinguish each type of learning by the brain-wave patterns it produces. Science Daily

A universal flu shot may be nearing reality – One of the planet’s deadliest viruses makes an annual pass through the United States with little fanfare. It rarely generates flashy headlines or news footage of health workers in hazmat suits. There’s no sudden panic when a sick person shows up coughing and feverish in an emergency room. Yet before next spring, this season’s lethal germ will probably have infected millions of Americans, killing tens of thousands. Still, it’s often referred to as just the flu. Science News

Your eyes make waste. Without it, you could go blind – One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, even at the level of the cell. That’s where—according to new research—a waste product of the retina fuels part of the eye that powers the rods and cones that help us sense light. Without this waste, that part of the eye “steals” glucose from the retina, leading to the death of retinal cells and likely vision loss. The finding could help explain why eyesight degenerates with age—and in diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetes. Science

Was this ancient person from China the offspring of modern humans and Neandertals? – When scientists excavated a 40,000-year-old skeleton in China in 2003, they thought they had discovered the offspring of a Neandertal and a modern human. But ancient DNA now reveals that the “Tianyuan Man” has only traces of Neandertal DNA and none detectable from another type of extinct human known as a Denisovan. Instead, he was a full-fledged member of our species, Homo sapiens, and a distant relative of people who today live in East Asia and South America. The work could help scientists retrace some of the earliest steps of human migration. Science

Blood Transfusions From Some Women Can Be More Dangerous For Men, Says Study – Providing a detailed medical history when donating blood could be more important than we know – and not just when it comes to screening for disease. Science Alert

An Alzheimer’s Drug Has Been Found to Help Teeth Repair Themselves in Just 6 Weeks – Dental fillings may soon be left in the ash heap of history, thanks to a recent discovery about a drug called Tideglusib. Developed for and trialled to treat Alzheimer’s disease, the drug also happens to promote the natural tooth regrowth mechanism in mice, allowing the tooth to repair cavities. Science Alert

In many places around the world, obesity in kids is on the rise – Over the last 40 years, the number of kids and teens with obesity has skyrocketed worldwide. In 1975, an estimated 5 million girls and 6 million boys were obese. By 2016, those numbers had risen to an estimated 50 million girls and 74 million boys, according to a report published online October 10 in the Lancet. While the increase in childhood obesity has slowed or leveled off in many high-income countries, it continues to grow in other parts of the world, especially in Asia. Science News

Having A High IQ Puts You More At Risk Of Mental Illness, Study Finds – If you look at television shows featuring a genius you very quickly see a pattern emerge. Hugh Laurie’s TV-doctor, House, is a medical genius but struggles with severe depression as well as a messiah complex. Sherlock Holmes can solve any case, but has many addictions and may just be a sociopath. Countless TV shows, films, and books all peddle the idea that highly intelligent people are prone to mental illness. IFLScience

Nine Year Study Finally Explains The Relationship Between Sugar And Cancer – Scientists have discovered the exact relationship between sugar and cancer by revealing that the way in which cancer cells break down sugar is linked to the stimulation of tumor growth. Cancer cells tend to produce energy differently from normal cells – they use a process that involves fermentation of glucose into lactate, rather than ordinary respiration. IFLScience