Doing Life Together

selfie-465563_1280My daughter tells me that I am not mastering the selfie! She is often horrified that I will post unattractive pictures taken with friends or people I meet. Honestly, I snap and post and don’t give it much thought. But come on, I finally learned to text with both hands to stop embarrassing her! Now this!

Apparently, this is a problem. Others are feeling the “I don’t look so good in that selfie” pain as plastic surgeons tell us that patients are scheduling appointments in order to correct their faces based on their social media appearances. They look at those pictures and think their noses are too big, My nose does look surprisingly bigger now that I think about it. But I always thought it was the angle of the camera. I mean, when you try to hold your phone far enough to get a good angle–well, you  can’t do it unless you have the wing span of Michael Jordan!

Never fear, the plastic surgeons can help us out. They actually studied this and here is what they found. What we see in the those selfies is not what we really look like. First, the  nose is closer to the camera lens than any other part of our face so they look bigger than in reality. I knew it!

When they measured faces, they found that if you take a selfie 12 inches away, your nose looks 30% larger than  if you took a picture 5 feet away. We just haven’t mastered the selfie angles to correct this!  And the plastic surgeons want you to know, this is not your real self-image. But because so many of us live on screens and post our selfies for the world to see, we are self-critical. You have to wonder if  there is selfie technology that adjusts for this. Wait, China already does this -it has software to optimizes the face to meet some standard of beauty!

So get out your filters, know your angles and don’t be like me and just click and post! Or,be like me and  just have fun with it and not care…I know I am showing my age by saying this but hey, I don’t need another way for people to tell me what I am supposed to look like to meet some standard of beauty someone makes up. How often have you met someone and thought that they look nothing like their pictures! Remember that when you meet me if you go off my selfie postings! My nose really isn’t that big!

And perhaps the message is that if we have to consult plastic surgeons based on our selfie, maybe we are focusing on the external a little too much these days and need to work on issues of the heart–being kinder, more compassionate and caring. You can’t really pick that up in a selfie! And so I muse and think of a day when my selfies may look more attractive, or maybe not, because I just don’t think it is that important. Selfie perfection is not my goal. I prefer real life, real people…and face to face contact.

laptop-3087585_1280I am in a job in which I can sit for hours at a time. I am writing at my computer, answering emails, and working on projects–all from my desk. And when I get into an assignment or project, I can sit for hours with very little movement. Writing a book, I can get in a zone and not move for days!

But what is this doing to my brain, if anything at all?

I didn’t think about it much until I read a new study. The researchers used MRI technology to look into the brain to see if they could predict what sedentary behavior does to the brain. They found that sitting reduces the structures of the brain that affects brain health. And even when you add physical activity, it doesn’t offset the harm that is done with prolonged periods of sitting. The parts of the brain affected, the medial temporal lobe (MTL) that thins, has to do with cognitive decline. Other memory structures in the brain are also affected in this negative way by sitting.

I wrote a blog awhile ago entitled Sitting is the New Smoking because so many of us have jobs that keep us glued to a desk. This study simply confirms the concern that sitting for long periods of time is hurting your health and specifically your brain. So, we need to get up and move, walk and talk instead of sitting at a conference table!

Be intentional about movement. If you want a healthy brain, get up off of that chair! Move,move, move!



Source:  Prolonged Sitting Tied to Brain Atrophy – Medscape – Apr 17, 2018.

time-3306753_1280Depression affects millions of people. It impacts how you interact with others, sleep, eat and think about the world. But have you ever thought about the language of a depressed person?  A study published in Clinical Psychological Science looked to see if there were words that marked anxiety and depression.  The findings are interesting and may cause you to pause and consider the power of your words.

Depression is marked by cognitive distortions–thoughts like, “There is no way out of this. I can’t go on. Life is too hard, ” etc. This tendency to be somewhat absolute about the way the world works is called “absolutist thinking.” And when scientists studied the words of people who are depressed, they found them using more of those absolutist phrases than people who are not depressed.

When we speak, we include both content and style. Content refers to what we talk about or express. In the case of people with depression, there are more words of content related to negative emotions. The content is usually about feeling sad, lonely, unhappy, etc. And people with depression reference themselves more often than other people. We think this may be  due to the lack of connection or social isolation depressed people feel. Also, a marker of depression is that you continue to think about the negatives of your life  which can worsen depression.

Language style relates to how you express yourself. In the case of depression, more often words like, “always and never” are expressed. This all or nothing thinking style characterizes depression and needs modification in order to change thoughts to more realistic expression. The more one thinks of the world as black or white and doesn’t allow grey in their thinking, the more likely the style of though can lead to feeling negative.

The take away from this interesting study on words and style of someone who is depressed it to change your thoughts and your emotions change too. This is part of the work of therapy.We teach people who are depressed to look at their automatic thoughts. If they have a negative theme, then the work is to find the positives and not be so back and white in terms of how you see things. Once a person is able to modify thoughts to a more positive and realistic view, their emotional state improves, leading to less depressed behavior as well. This is why we take thoughts captive and focus on good things in our lives. For some people, this shift in thinking may not be enough to pull them out of a depression, but it sure is part of the overall work to treat depression.

pretty-woman-635258_1280“I hate my body.” “My thighs are too big; my hair is too thin and I don’t like what I see in the mirror.”  

Do you ever think or say that? Do you obsess over your appearance? Those imperfections you see in the mirror—do they define your view of self? If so, keep those thoughts to yourself if you have children near you.

So much of a child’s attitude about his or her body comes from listening to how parents and other people talk about their bodies. If a parent is constantly dieting, making negative remarks, obsessing on fat and talking about the way other people look, children pick up on these themes and may feel they don’t measure up to perceived ideals. You set the stage for a child’s healthy view of self, early on in life.

Because we are all made in the image of God, God values us for who we are, not based on our physical appearance. The unconditional love of God is a message you want to give your children no matter what their flaws or imperfections. But first, you have to believe this message or it won’t be convincing. Do you accept God’s unconditional love for you? Or does His love and everyone else’s have to do with how you look? Parents, check your attitudes about your body. The messages you tell yourself often get passed on to your kids and young adults unknowingly.

Often, the emotional pain that comes from being teased or overweight can create self-hatred and lead to depression, anxiety and social isolation.  Children are faced with an unsympathetic culture when it comes to body image and feel pressure to conform to ideas of beauty and thinness that are not always healthy. Don’t add to their uncertainty about whether they look “good enough” with your own self-doubt. Instead, emphasize your love for them no matter what, and be kind to your own body in front of them.

Now, be healthy, don’t overeat due to stress and model unhealthy habits. But when it comes to how you talk about your body, be accepting. The goal is to teach children to eat well and develop healthy habits and be accepting of how they are designed.

When you refuse to measure up to some cultural ideal, you are winning the battle for self-acceptance. Don’t compare yourselves to others. God didn’t make a mistake when he put His image in you. Believe this and then reinforce this message to your kids! Help them develop a healthy self-image.