Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Why Talking on the Phone is Like Driving Drunk

posted by Linda Mintle

2driving and text copyI now live in a fairly small town and have noticed how many people drive and talk on their cell phones. Without fail, when someone is driving erratically, too slow in a lane or crossing over the mid line, I look, and yes, the person is talking on the phone.

Researchers tell us that talking on the phone while driving is like driving drunk. Your brain cannot pay attention to the distraction of the phone. It has to switch tasks back and forth to the driving and the talking.  When it does, it loses concentration.

Here’s what we know happens when you “drive drunk” on phone call talking:

1)   You follow cards in a more wild fashion.

2)   You are a half second slower at hitting your brakes when you need to emergency stop.

3)   It takes longer to return to normal speed after an emergency.

4)   Your risk for an accident increases

5)   You miss more than 50% of the visual cues of driving when on a cell phone.

In fact, all the task switching involved with driving and doing anything puts you more at risk. Just reaching for an object makes you nine times more at risk for a crash.

So next time you decide to put on your mascara, eat that sloppy burger or even check out other drivers, know you are increasing your risk for an accident.

Your brain simply cannot pay attention to more than one thing at a time. Multitasking is a dangerous myth when it comes to cell phone usage and driving.

 

 

What Does Your Clutter Say About You?

posted by Linda Mintle

ID-10036003Is your closet a window into your mental health? Are you what you wear? 

Does saving your old college sports uniform remind you of the glory days of your life? 

How about those hundreds of books you will never read again, but can’t bring yourself to part with them? 

Maybe closer to home is that bin of children’s clothes that brings tears to your eyes. How could you give those away? 

Maybe you just find it difficult to part with things you MIGHT use or that have some meaning.

But what does all the clutter say about you?

What you save and hold onto may reveal some of your deepest thoughts and feelings. Sometimes clutter can indicate a focus and organizing problem. People with ADHD, OCD or even dementia have trouble organizing.

Maybe you have trouble making decisions because of, What if…You obsess on the possibility of needing it later.

Or maybe, just  maybe, you will lose those 10 pounds and need that dress that is hanging there with the tag still on it.

Perhaps you’ve watched episodes of Storage Wars and saw how many people throw out valuable items but didn’t know it. You don’t want to be one of those people and miss the chance to cash in big!

Stop! Pause! Help yourself by a little self talk like this, “Someone else can use this stuff now.” “The likelihood that I have a real gem in my hoarding is slim.” Or “The item may be so old, I wouldn’t want it even if I could use it again.”

One of the biggest reason we hold on to clutter is that something in the clutter has sentimental meaning. “If I throw away that toy, I lose my daughter’s childhood forever.” “If I clean out the garage, then the divorce feels very final.” Holding on means not letting go! Let’s all sing the theme to “Frozen” right now. “Let it go… Let it go…”

If all the clutter is distressing you, look at the psychology behind holding on to it. What would it mean to give it away and down size the closet or storage bins? Your clutter may be telling you that you are too perfectionistic, obsessive, disorganized, overly sentimental, worried, and/or having trouble closing out the past. You might even be a hoarder, a legitimate psychiatric disorder now.  So if your living quarters are so cluttered it causes you distress, get some help.

Take a look at that closet. What is it saying about you?

 

Teens and TV: Are They Overdoing It?

posted by Linda Mintle

Raising Healthy KidsBy now, most of you are aware that too much screen viewing for children and teens is linked to  elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression, and being overweight. And we know that teen viewing habits often carry over to adult viewing habits.

So how are teens doing with the American Academy of Pediatricians’ recommendation to limit screen time to two hours or less a day. Yes, that is ALL screens. Furthermore, children under the age of two are supposed to have ZERO hours of screen time.

The 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the 2012 National Youth Fitness Survey reports the following:

  • 31% of youths that are normal or underweight are meeting the guideline  (this includes computer use)
  • 23% of overweight and 20% of obese youths are meeting the guideline
  • 99% of teens report watching TV every day
  • 91% of teens report using their computers every day outside of school
  • Gender differences for the amount of TV viewing were not significant, meaning there was little difference between boys and girls
  • A break down of TV habits by race and Hispanic origin show 29% white, 26% Hispanic and 20% black teens meet daily screen-time requirements

Clearly, we still have work to do when it comes to limiting screen usage. And keep in mind these numbers could be low given it is difficult to capture screen usage with all the possible devices kids and teens could be using.

In my book, Raising Healthy Kids in an Unhealthy World, I encourage all parents to make a media plan and list several suggestions. Here are 5:

1) Take TV out of a child’s bedroom.

2) Find the “good media”. The right kind of media can improve learning and teach empathy, tolerance and interpersonal skills

3) Model good media usage as a parent. Kids watch what you do to learn.

4) Turn off the TV during meals and don’t have it on for background noise.

5) Bypass commercials in order to limit exposure to junk foods and other unhealthy choices.

 

Body-Brain Connection: When Bigger Really is Better

posted by Linda Mintle

brain“As your weight goes up, the size and function of your brain goes down.” This, according to psychiatrist, Daniel Amen. It’s true, smaller doesn’t always mean better, especially when it comes to the size of your brain!

Dr. Amen, author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, wants us all to get on his brain program and avoid what he calls the “Dinosaur Syndrome.” Yes, dinosaurs, those creatures with little brains and big bodies. Apparently some of us fit the description. Our bodies are growing in size, but are brains are getting smaller.

When a person is overweight, brain function decreases, especially in the area know as the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex in the brain  is responsible for impulse control, decision-making and other reasoning functions. So when you see that large scrumptious piece of chocolate cake, your overweight brain may say, “Go for it!” When you are confronted with multiple choices of tempting concoctions at that buffet, reason goes out the window. You give in and eat!

And to add insult to injury, when Dr. Amen imaged overweight brains, he found that the overweight brain also appears to be more typical of older people. To use the dinosaur metaphor, not only are our bodies bigger, our brains smaller , but like the dinosaur, our brains appear older! You might be thinking, “Great, is there any good news here?”

Yes. With so many of us overweight, Dr. Amen says exercise can help increase gray matter and even help avoid dementia in some cases. He also advocates a healthy diet that includes eliminating sugars, too much alcohol and processed foods. You can make lifestyle choices to not only improve your brain, but make it bigger. In this case, bigger is better!

As usual, the solution here is one that you have heard repeatedly–eat better and exercise more. There seems to be no way around this tried and true advice. So if you want a bigger brain that functions along with your age, get on that treadmill, walk the dog and commit to those five servings of fruits and vegetables we all need daily. When you do, your expanded brain will thank you!

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