Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

LIKE buttonYou log on to Facebook, check the status of your  500 plus “friends” and post a few comments. You notice that several of your friends are feeling down this post holiday season and are talking about feeling lonely and depressed. After reading their posts, you feel down too.

What just happened?

Can negative and positive feelings be contagious?

YES, according to University of Chicago researcher, John Cacioppo, and his colleagues. If you have a social connection with someone who is lonely, you have a 52% chance of feeling lonely too. If the connection is a little more removed, a friend of a friend, the percentage drops to 25%. And if the “friend” is a distant contact, you are only 15% at risk for loneliness.

The same is true for other emotions. Angry people (not birds) can infect you with anger! Emotions can be contagious on social media sites.

So if someone is always down and negative, you might want to defriend him or her. It may improve your mood and prevent you from getting Facebook Depression. Pick the happier people; but not the way too happy people. Because the way to happy people can make you feel lonely too because their lives appear to be better than yours. We tend to compare, come up short and feel depressed.

In terms of your children, the old adage, “Choose your friends wisely,” definitely applies here. Bad behavior from kids your’ve never met can influence your child’s emotions. So take a look at your child’s friends. Are they ramping up anger and hate or love and respect?

Bottom line, we can be highly connected and still be vulnerable to loneliness or other negative emotions. Virtual relationships are not a substitution for face-to-face relationships. You can be highly connected but still lonely–500 plus friends are not the same as 2 to 3 real life friends. So put down the technology and go meet someone face to face!

 

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Pop singer Ke$ha entered eating disorder treatment at Timberline Knolls on January 3 and asked her fans to give her 30 days to rehab, but eating disorders don’t begin or end suddenly. They develop over time and take more than 30 days to overcome. Hopefully, this inpatient time is just a beginning of Ke$ha developing a new relationship with food and dealing with the psychological issues involved.

People in the entertainment business live in a fishbowl and are constantly being evaluated for their performances and appearances. This is a classic set up for insecurity and self-loathing, roots of an eating disorder.

When I read the little bit of information on Ke$ha, four things stood out in terms of eating disorders:

1) Her music producer, Dr. Luke, reportedly made nasty comments about her weight, even referred to her as a refrigerator! She was bothered by this–most people would be! But if you have other issues in your life, nasty comments about your body can send you over the edge.

2) Ke$ha says she has had a hard time loving herself. People with eating disorders suffer from a lack of self-love. They can love others and be very giving, but when it comes to their own lives, it’s hard to apply that loving, generous spirit to the self. They tend to be perfectionist, obsessive and all or nothing thinkers.

3) Ke$ha is a vegetarian which is usually code for struggling with food. Not all vegetarians are on the brink of an eating disorder, but this can be a sign that food has become an enemy. A person with an eating disorder tends to narrow the field when it comes to food choices. Food restriction is a sign of an eating disorder. Some people become vegans or vegetarian as a way to reduce food choices, limit high fat foods and restrict eating.

4) Ke$ha admits to having times when she drinks too much. Binge drinking is also a common symptom of someone with an eating disorder. Many of my clients went back and forth bingeing for awhile on food, then alcohol, then food.

Keep in mind that while food and weight are the areas of focus, much more is involved that has little to do with either. People with eating disorders have problems with mood regulation, conflict, tolerating distress and more. These are psychiatric disorders, meaning they involve the way we think, feel, behave and relate to other people.

Ke$ha took the first step in getting better–she admitted to the problem and sought treatment. Both are necessary for healing to begin.

Let’s hope she continues to stay in treatment until she is fully recovered. Because like so many problems, recovery is a long and difficult road! But change is possible!

 

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workoutOk it’s only been days since the New Year. Did you make New Year’s resolutions?

Less than half of you did! And according to  a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, by the end of the year, only 8% of you will be successful .

These are not good odds. So should we forget the whole idea?

No, because another study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that you are 10 times more likely to change your behavior than people who do not make resolutions.

So how can we up our odds of beating the 54% who will drop out by six months, and the rest who will drop out by the year’s end?

1) Don’t shoot for the moon. When you decide to change too many areas of your life at one time, it’s a set up for failure. Whittle down your choices and pick one thing. Even if you feel your life needs an overhaul in many areas, you will be more successful if you focus on ONE thing.

2) Be specific with what you want to change and how change will happen. The classic, “I’m going to drop 10 pounds” has to be followed with a plan on you will accomplish this goal. Be very specific–“I’m cutting out sweets, watching portions and weighing myself daily” is more specific than, “I’m cutting back.”

3) Keep a daily log. If you track what you do differently every day, it will help you practice and be intentional about change. Think about a chart, or a checklist, something visual to show progress.

4) Reward yourself for even small changes. Celebrate and talk about your success.

5) Don’t give up just because you blow it one day. Hey we all have bad days, so give yourself some grace if you fall off the resolution wagon. Simply get back on track the next day. Lose the all or nothing thinking. One problematic day is not a reason to completely give up. In fact, this is normal.

 

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Happy New Year! Today’s blog is The Best of the Dr. Linda Mintle show. Body Image, Forgiveness, depression and more…CLick on the picture to listen!

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