Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Conflict Resolution in a Family

posted by Linda Mintle

What happens to children when the parents can’t deal with conflict? You might be surprised at the impact on kids.

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Look Out People: A Divorce May Just Kill You!

posted by Linda Mintle

Who likes to think about death, especially the things that can bring early death–getting hit by a car, smoking, excessive drinking, obesity, etc.

But did you ever think that getting divorce could bring early death?

Researchers at the University of Arizona decided to look at this possibility. They reviewed a number of studies regarding the association of divorce with early death. Over 32 published studies that included 6.5 million people and spanned a 27 year time period were reviewed. This meta-analysis (published in Perspectives on Psychological Science) found that divorced adults have a significantly higher risk of early death compared with married adults. Early death was defined as someone who died during the tracking periods of the studies. In other words, you have a better change of living longer if you are married rather than divorced.

In fact, the risk level for early death and divorce rivaled that of people who smoke 15 cigarettes a day, are overweight, excessively drink alcohol and exercise little. Even the researchers were a bit surprised at this.

Now, this doesn’t mean that if you are divorced, you are going to die early. There are plenty of divorced people who engage in self-care and are doing well. But divorce puts you at risk. The reasons why are not so clear. Is it because some people have problems adjusting after a divorce, they never remarry or develop sleep problems and become depressed? Future research will need to address the why.

And the researchers noted that divorced men were more likely to die early than divorced women. One possible reason for this is that men, in general, tend to die earlier than women. Another idea is that women do a better job with health care. Basically, the question is, does divorce lead to poor health, or does poor health lead to divorce?

For now, if you are divorced, look at how well you engage in self-care. Make sure you are eating well and get enough sleep. Stop smoking and watch the drinking. Pay attention to your health and live a balanced life. Develop a vibrant spiritual life and stay active.

Are You SAD, Down, Blue?

posted by Linda Mintle

Feeling down and blue? Has the gloom of winter gotten you? The sky is cloudy and dark. You feel tired, unable to concentrate, want to eat, crave carbohydrates, and feel like being alone. It’s hard to get out of bed. You feel irritable, anxious and down. It seems like winter will never end. All you can think about is sitting in the sun somewhere in the Caribbean. Actually this is not such a crazy thought. You, like 35 million Americans, may be affected by winter depression. The “winter blues” has a name, “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)”. It usually begins mid October and ends around April. It’s real and treatable.

Most sufferers of SAD are women in their 30’s (although the disorder affects others including children). SAD is a form of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. The farther north you live, the greater your chance to be one of 10 million diagnosed or 25 million suffering some symptoms of SAD. Why? Because during winter, people in the Northern states get half as much sunshine as those in the South. People with SAD need more light. During late fall and winter, days shorten which means less sunlight. In some cases less daylight can activate depression. So what can you do to stop being an irritable or depressed family member? Move to Florida? You could but there is a cheaper and easier solution.

Treatment for SAD is surprisingly simple. Get more light. The theory here is that light therapy regulates brain chemistry. When light interacts with the eye through the optic nerve, things happen to affect mood. In very simple terms, light  increases brain chemicals that help depression.

Some people are helped more by using intense light in the mornings, while others respond to increased light anytime of the day. There are commercial lighting devices and florescent light boxes. Some insurers will even reimburse you for the light devices. Or you can try 30 minutes of morning light by walking outside, sitting under a fluorescent light while watching TV, reading, etc. However, you shouldn’t  stare into a light source. You’ll only get a headache! Just do a normal activity with the light in your field of vision.

You should be careful not to self-diagnose SAD because you may confuse symptoms with other conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. And if you suffer from severe depression you should consult a mental health professional. Light won’t hurt you but it may not help either.

Isn’t it amazing that a source of God’s creation–light, can improve mood? Remember the Sunday School song, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine?”  Don’t hide it under a bushel like the song exhorts. Let it shine.  Let it shine. Let it shine!

Stick to Those New Year’s Resolutions

posted by Linda Mintle

I finally made it back to the gym a few week’s ago and noticed how crowded it was getting to my machines. I also know that by February, most of those eager faces will never brighten the YMCA again. Yes, we all have good intentions, but following through on them with consistent action is not so easy.

We are only a few weeks into our New Year resolutions. If you made family resolutions, it is time to evaluate how you are doing. For those of you losing steam, don’t give up on those areas of family life you know need change. Something prompted you to begin 2011 in a new way. Do not lose sight of that prompting.

Change is a process that involves several stages. Understanding those stages might help evaluate where you are so you can be successful this year.

In order to change, people go from not thinking about the problem to:

1. to considering the pros and cons
2. to making small changes
3. to making change
4. to incorporating change into their lives
5. to jumping back on the change wagon if relapse happens

If you’ve made a resolution, you are at least on no. 3. Any small change will lead to the big change you have in mind if you stick with it. Keep going. If you decided to praise your children more, do it two or three times this week. If your goal was to help out around the house, take out the trash or wash a floor. Maybe you wanted to be less critical of your spouse; if so, make it a point to tell him two or three things you noticed he did well this week. Small changes begin the habit of bigger change.

The key is to move beyond intentions and be the change. Keep plugging away at those resolutions, asking the Holy Spirit to empower you towards those goals. With God’s help, you can make those resolutions a reality and begin 2011 on a positive note.

I’m pulling for you!

Did you make a resolution? If so, how are you doing?

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