Maybe sex is the last thing on your mind when you’re stressed out. But it might help lower your anxiety. Sex seems to lessen the amount of hormones your body releases in response to stress. And an active sex life can make you happier and healthier, which might also help keep anxiety at bay.
Research says people who have sex once a month or less get heart disease more often than those who have it twice a week or so. Part of the reason could be that you get a bit more exercise and are less likely to be anxious or depressed. But it could also be that if you have more sex, you’re physically and mentally healthier in the first place.
Sex typically burns about 5 calories a minute. That’s about equal to a brisk walk. And you use a bit more oxygen too -- about the same as digging in the garden or walking down the stairs.
That may not seem like much, but it starts to add up over the long term. And because sex can improve your mental health, you might be more likely to do other types of exercise like the neighborhood kickball team, hiking, or housework.
Well, not so much lose them as forget where you put them. That’s because regular sex seems be linked to improved memory, especially if you’re between ages 50 and 89. It’s not clear why.
Weekly sex seems to boost your immune system compared to those who have it less often. Part of the reason may be that it raises levels of a germ-fighting substance called immunoglobulin A, or IgA. But more is not always better here. People who had sex more than twice a week had lower levels of IgA than those who had no sex.
Sex bathes your brain in a chemical “afterglow” that lasts about 2 days and helps to bond you to your partner over the long term. Without it, you could lose some of the satisfaction of your relationship. A healthy, happy sexual relationship -- couples who do it at least once a week seem to be happiest -- can help build trust and understanding between you and your partner.
The reasons aren’t exactly clear, but in at least one study, men who ejaculated less than seven times a month were more likely to get prostate cancer compared to those who did it at least 21 times a month.
But unprotected anonymous sex and multiple partners can also raise your chances for the disease, so when you do have sex, take care.
Without sex, you’ll miss out on the hormones that promote restful sleep, like prolactin and oxytocin. Women get an estrogen boost that helps even more. The reverse is true, too: If you decide you want to start having sex again, a good night’s sleep is just the thing to keep you feeling frisky.
Sex can be a good way to take your mind off of any aches and pains you have. But it does more than that. Orgasm causes your body to release endorphins and other hormones that can help ease head, back, and leg aches. They may help arthritis pain and menstrual cramps, too.
It may seem odd, but “use it or lose it” may apply here. For women at menopause, vaginal tissue can get thin, shrink, and dry out without regular intercourse. That can make sex painful and weaken your desire. And some research says men who have sex less than once a week are twice as likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED) as those who have it weekly.
Sex seems to help keep your blood pressure down. That makes sense when you consider what it does: It adds a bit of aerobic and muscle-building exercise, and it can ease anxiety and make you feel better. Both of those can help keep your numbers where they need to be.
Thomas Kessler, LMFT, RAS
Start out slow. It may be the last thing you want to do when you're feeling down, but exercise releases feel-good chemicals in your brain and can help ease depression symptoms. You don’t have to do too much, maybe just go for a short walk. If you can push yourself to do it a few days in a row, you may not need as much of a push the following day.
Walk or Run
You don’t have to run a marathon or be a speed demon. You don’t even have to run. Start with walking, and you can decide if you want to go faster as you get stronger. It’s not just the exercise that helps -- the great outdoors can lift your mood, too.
The fixed and moving poses of this meditative form of exercise can make you stronger and more flexible. That can give you energy and a sense of well-being. The breath control involved in yoga also can calm your emotions. You can look for videos online, but a class gets you out into the world and around other people.
Touching soil may boost a key brain chemical called serotonin, and that can help lift depression. You'll also be active and outside. If you don’t have a patch of dirt of your own, call a local community garden to see if you could work a plot there.
It’s good exercise and a great opportunity to let out some emotion without talking about your feelings. You can just hit the ball against a wall, but if you want it to come back across a net, you’ll need someone on the other side. That's a chance to socialize. And if you commit to a time with someone else, you’re more likely to stick to it.
Exercise at Work
If you need a distraction to get your mind off negative thoughts, take a few minutes and step away from your desk. Find a quiet place and do some stretching, or go up and down a flight of stairs -- anything that gets you moving can boost your mood.
It’s a great, whole-body workout, and some people find the water helps calm them. It doesn’t have to take a huge chunk out of your day: Just 30 minutes of exercise 3 to 5 times a week may be all you need.
You can get good exercise on a stationary one, but hitting the bike path is a great way to take in the world around you. You don’t need anything fancy -- any two-wheeler will do. Ride it to the store, the coffee shop, or your friend’s house. Just make sure to get it checked by a mechanic first, and don’t forget to wear a helmet.
You use weights, machines, or your own body resistance (like with pushups) to build strength, muscle mass, and flexibility. A simple set of hand weights will work, or even just the floor. The workout isn’t the only thing that improves your mood -- a sense of accomplishment and better body image can help, too.
Walk Your Dog
Fido can help ease your stress, and he may be just the motivator you need. Grab a leash and maybe a Frisbee and get out there. The fresh air won’t hurt, either.
It’s a win-win-win: exercise, social engagement, and fun. All those can lift your spirits, and you can start at home. While nobody’s watching, turn on a favorite track and let your body move to it. Even short dance sessions can feel good. As you gain your footing and confidence, check for classes at local dance schools or look for a group that gets together to dance.
You may need to work up to it, but three 20-second sprints, with 2-minute breaks in between, may be as good for you as 50 minutes of moderate jogging. And they can be a quick way to release some pent-up emotion. Just make sure you warm up -- and ask your doctor if you don’t know if you’re healthy enough for that kind of high-intensity workout.
It’s a great workout: You jog, sprint, jump, and throw. You can do it indoors and out, winter and summer, and in a large group or with just one other person. You can even shoot hoops by yourself.
The focus needed for a long game can help distract you from negative thoughts, and being part of a team adds a feeling of connection. And when you’ve got a whole team that expects you to show up, you’re more likely to, right?
Thomas Kessler, LMFT, RAS
It’s pretty incredible how often you hear managers complaining about their best employees leaving, and they really do have something to complain about—few things are as costly and disruptive as good people walking out the door.
Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers. The sad thing is that this can easily be avoided. All that’s required is a new perspective and some extra effort on the manager’s part.
Organizations know how important it is to have motivated, engaged employees, but most fail to hold managers accountable for making it happen. When they don’t, the bottom line suffers.
Research from the University of California found that motivated employees were 31% more productive, had 37% higher sales, and were three times more creative than demotivated employees. They were also 87% less likely to quit, according to a Corporate Leadership Council study on over 50,000 people.
Gallup research shows that a mind-boggling 70% of an employee’s motivation is influenced by his or her manager. So, let's take a look at some of the worst things that managers do that send good people packing.
They overwork people. Nothing burns good employees out quite like overworking them. It’s so tempting to work your best people hard that managers frequently fall into this trap. Overworking good employees is perplexing; it makes them feel as if they’re being punished for great performance. Overworking employees is also counterproductive. New research from Stanford shows that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that you don’t get anything out of working more.
If you must increase how much work your talented employees are doing, you’d better increase their status as well. Talented employees will take on a bigger workload, but they won’t stay if their job suffocates them in the process. Raises, promotions, and title-changes are all acceptable ways to increase workload. If you simply increase workload because people are talented, without changing a thing, they will seek another job that gives them what they deserve.
They don’t recognize contributions and reward good work. It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all. Managers need to communicate with their people to find out what makes them feel good (for some, it’s a raise; for others, it’s public recognition) and then to reward them for a job well done. With top performers, this will happen often if you’re doing it right.
They fail to develop people’s skills. When managers are asked about their inattention to employees, they try to excuse themselves, using words such as “trust,” “autonomy,” and “empowerment.” This is complete nonsense. Good managers manage, no matter how talented the employee. They pay attention and are constantly listening and giving feedback.
Management may have a beginning, but it certainly has no end. When you have a talented employee, it’s up to you to keep finding areas in which they can improve to expand their skill set. The most talented employees want feedback—more so than the less talented ones—and it’s your job to keep it coming. If you don’t, your best people will grow bored and complacent.
They don’t care about their employees. More than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. Smart companies make certain their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the bosses who celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge people, even when it hurts.
Bosses who fail to really care will always have high turnover rates. It’s impossible to work for someone eight-plus hours a day when they aren’t personally involved and don’t care about anything other than your production yield.
They don’t honor their commitments. Making promises to people places you on the fine line that lies between making them very happy and watching them walk out the door. When you uphold a commitment, you grow in the eyes of your employees because you prove yourself to be trustworthy and honorable (two very important qualities in a boss). But when you disregard your commitment, you come across as slimy, uncaring, and disrespectful. After all, if the boss doesn’t honor his or her commitments, why should everyone else?
They hire and promote the wrong people. Good, hard-working employees want to work with like-minded professionals. When managers don’t do the hard work of hiring good people, it’s a major demotivator for those stuck working alongside them. Promoting the wrong people is even worse. When you work your tail off only to get passed over for a promotion that’s given to someone who glad-handed their way to the top, it’s a massive insult. No wonder it makes good people leave.
They don't let people pursue their passions. Talented employees are passionate. Providing opportunities for them to pursue their passions improves their productivity and job satisfaction. But many managers want people to work within a little box. These managers fear that productivity will decline if they let people expand their focus and pursue their passions. This fear is unfounded. Studies show that people who are able to pursue their passions at work experience flow, a euphoric state of mind that is five times more productive than the norm.
They fail to engage creativity. The most talented employees seek to improve everything they touch. If you take away their ability to change and improve things because you’re only comfortable with the status quo, this makes them hate their jobs. Caging up this innate desire to create not only limits them, it limits you.
They don't challenge people intellectually. Great bosses challenge their employees to accomplish things that seem inconceivable at first. Instead of setting mundane, incremental goals, they set lofty goals that push people out of their comfort zones. Then, good managers do everything in their power to help them succeed. When talented and intelligent people find themselves doing things that are too easy or boring, they seek other jobs that will challenge their intellects.
Bringing it all together. If you want your best people to stay, you need to think carefully about how you treat them. While good employees are as tough as nails, their talent gives them an abundance of options. You need to make them want to work for you.
Thomas Kessler, LMFT, RAS
When children reach adolescence, relationships, romantic or otherwise, can be a point of significant strife. Relationships between parents and children are crucial to healthy development, but may become strained by the many ups and downs of adolescent life. For example, most teenagers worry about romantic relationships, however, for some teenagers, worrying about relationships may excessively drain their energy and make it difficult to enjoy life.
Many mental health issues that teens face can be attributed in part to the social pressures and stress of adolescent life. As a result, teens may experience any of the following: generalized anxiety, depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), poor self-esteem, oppositional defeasance issues and substance abuse.
Experimentation with alcohol and drugs is fairly common among adolescents and can lead to serious developmental, social, and behavioral issues. When I work with teens together the teen and I develop therapy goals in a collaborative process.
Many times, the main goals are to help the young person to find new and healthy ways to cope with the stress or conditions that may have led to depression, anxiety and substance use.
Many types of therapy emphasize talking and thinking about feelings and experiences, which can be particularly challenging for teens. For each teen, I create a highly-individualized treatment plan that works to address problems that may be occurring at school, home, or in friendship circles. I do not subscribe to the “one size fits all” theory. Therefore, I use a variety of treatment modalities. My therapeutic approaches, include teaching mindfulness therapy. Each teen
Teens of any age may feel uncomfortable, afraid, or ashamed about communicating what they are experiencing to an adult they do not know. If you are a parent or caregiver, these tips can help when talking to children about therapy and mental health treatment:
Find a good time to talk and assure them that they are not in trouble. Listen actively. Take your teen’s concerns, experiences, and emotions seriously.Try to be open, authentic, and relaxed. Talk about how common the issues they are experiencing may be. Explain that the role of a therapist is to provide help and support. Explain that a confidentiality agreement can be negotiated so children—especially adolescents—have a safe space to share details privately, while acknowledging that you will be alerted if there are any threats to their safety.
When looking for a therapist it is important to find someone with specialized training and experience in working with teens and teens issues. When I work with teens I also include sessions with the family. Family therapy, in which multiple family members may attend sessions together, as well as independently, if necessary. I may include treatments designed to address parenting skills, such as parent-child interaction therapy. These treatments may be useful when a teen’s behavior becomes difficult to manage.
Many prominent bodies of research highlight the efficacy of a combined treatment approach, or the use of both medication and therapy when medication is prescribed by a psychiatrist for a mental health issue. In fact, the American Psychological Association’s Practice Guidelines Regarding Psychologists’ Involvement in Pharmacological Issues encourages, whenever possible, to include psychotherapy when medication is prescribed. The efficacy of medication increases when combined with psychotherapy
Many mental health professionals argue that medication is overprescribed as a “quick fix,” while therapy, which may teach a person long-term coping strategies and self-management, is not encouraged enough. If your teen is prescribed an antidepressant, antipsychotic, anxiolytic, stimulant, or other psychotropic drug, consider finding a therapist or counselor to pair with the drug treatment.
Thomas Kessler, LMFT, RAS
If a person struggles with their discomfort getting to know people, we know this is usually called social anxiety. While there are extreme forms of this problem – not being able to leave the house, for example – I have had people I work with in the past that suffered from this - the more mild symptoms of social anxiety could be caused by feeling alone. You may feel as if you’re unlikeable or unworthy of good relationships, causing fear and anxiety about the process of forming them.
Research suggests that people who suffer from social anxiety may actually have superior social skills than those who do not. In other words, people who have social anxiety is not necessarily that they don’t know how to talk to people. Instead, research suggest they struggle with relationships because they are scared of messing up – they worry about saying the wrong thing in social situations. Therefore, social anxiety can lead to people feeling lonely creating a cycle of social anxiety and loneliness.
Sound familiar…. You really do have very good communication and social skills…. you just have to believe that you are “good enough” and not worry about what people think, which is called “future tripping” and “mind reading” which is assuming that we know how people will react to us even before we interact with them then and once we do, that they will think negatively about us. All of our negative thoughts about ourselves usually have no evidence to back up our negative thoughts. That is why I like to call them Thinking Traps – because we fall into the trap of thinking negatively about ourselves.
This is where a therapist that practices Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) can help you to challenge any and all negative thoughts. CBT will help you look for the evidence that does support the thought(s) and then look for the evidence that does NOT support the negative thought(s).
Thomas Kessler, LMFT, RAS
There’s one in every neighborhood: a parent who allows unlimited screen time. They exist to make the rest of us feel better. Our own offspring might spend hours texting or watching cartoons. But at least we have rules. Our kids can sustain a conversation, cope with fleeting moments of boredom and last a birthday party without demanding a video game.
When we pass these other families in the supermarket, their dazed toddlers staring into iPads, we think — smug but terrified — we’re not that bad.
We know it’s crucial to stimulate and speak to young children, and our generation of parents complies to a possibly unprecedented — and exhausting — degree. Kamenetz notes that we need occasional breaks from this. She bemoans “an ideological stance that judges mothers for not being fully available to their children at all times and that scapegoats working-class families in particular.”
Class issues buzz around conversations about screen time. We’ve all read about the Silicon Valley executives who won’t let their children go online. Mothers who used to boast that their babies drank only breast milk now claim their preschoolers have never touched an iPad. (These same children will later be dispatched to pricey, screen-free summer camps.)
Low-income families — and especially single parents — can’t afford to police their children’s screen use as assiduously. Kamenetz writes that this requires more social supports, like guaranteed paid parental leave. I’d argue that universal health care and a higher minimum wage would help, too.
Of course, screens are an issue even in countries with great social services. In 2016, the city of Helsinki ran a campaign warning Finnish parents that they were neglecting children by spending too much time online.
Alas, the evidence is incomplete. Researchers aren’t allowed to overstimulate a random sample of babies to see what happens to their brains. (Though as Kamenetz says, you can do this to mice, and they go a little nuts.) Scientists even have trouble running studies in which some participants watch less; one said he could get families to reduce their screen times only by 20 minutes. And the iPad hasn’t even celebrated its eighth birthday.
But there are worrying correlations. Kids who watch more than two hours of TV per day have double the risk of childhood obesity. Those who watch screens before bed sleep less, making it harder to concentrate and learn. And simulated violence can desensitize children to real-life suffering, and is linked to increased anxiety and fear.
Living in a digital age has its benefits — practically instant access to information and the ability to connect with friends and family across the country. Naturally, people are more plugged in than ever, including young children. In fact, a study in JAMA Pediatrics found that between 1997 and 2014, screen time doubled for kids 2 years old and younger — but at what cost?
Spending too much time on devices — whether it’s playing video games, watching television, searching the internet, or even engaging with “educational” apps — can be harmful to a young child’s physical and mental health notes that children who spend more time looking at screens are more likely to be overweight and have disrupted sleep.
So, how can you help your kids develop healthy digital habits? Some insights and tips for creating a digital diet that works for your family.
How much screen time is too much for children?
The answer often depends on age, but generally, less is better. Dr. Land finds the American Academy of Pediatric's Council on Communications and Media guidelines useful for navigating your child's screen time:
6 everyday screen-time tips:
Overall, it’s important to teach your family to develop a healthy relationship with digital devices. Here are tips you can start using today.
1. Set limits
The age guidelines above can help you determine whether to cut back on your child’s screen time. But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Your digital diet will depend on your family. The American Academy of Pediatrics developed an interactive Family Media Plan so you can easily create a more personalized plan, set goals, and establish rules that work for your family.
2. Be an example
It’s important to take stock of how often we interact with our own devices, too. “If our kids see us distracted by our phones,” Dr. Land notes, “they feel ignored.” When you’re with your children, make them your priority — not your phone. Try setting your phone on silent and turning off notifications, so you won’t get a ping for every news alert or text.
“Children under 2 can’t learn from screens yet,” Dr. Land explains. “They learn by interacting with their caregivers.” So instead of watching television or using an app, spend time singing, talking, reading, or playing together. “These activities will always be a better way to teach vocabulary, language, and social skills,” says Dr. Land.
3. Keep mealtime screen-free
Meals are a time for families to reconnect and focus on each other — not focus on screens. Implement a “no devices at the table” rule. If you’re out at a restaurant, bring activities like a pad of paper and crayons or stickers to keep young children occupied. Need help keeping mealtime as stress-free as possible?
Sleep is paramount: I recommended no screens before bedtime, and none in bedrooms, ever. If your child is online I advocate talking to your kids making questions like “what did you see online today?” part of dinnertime conversations.
4. Shut off screens before bed
For kids and adults alike, it’s especially important to wind down at night. Dr. Land recommends avoiding screens 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. Try removing all screens from the bedroom. Instead, designate a specific area of your home where everyone can charge their devices overnight.
5. Share screen time
When your children do watch television or use an online app, join them. By engaging with them, you’ll encourage social interaction, bonding, and learning. Try repeating the information that’s shown and then ask your child to say it back to you. Make connections between what’s seen on screen and the real world. If a television show features a bird chirping, for example, take your child for a walk and point out birds and the sounds they’re making. “This helps them connect digital learning with the world around them,” says Dr. Land.
6. Avoid using devices to calm kids
While this approach may work in the short term, Dr. Land notes that using devices to calm kids prevents them from learning to self-regulate or self-soothe. Instead, help them focus on how to physically respond to their emotions using techniques such as deep breathing. You can also talk through the moment, hug them, sit quietly as they work through it, or distract them with something other than a screen — like their favorite book or song.
Thomas Kessler, LMFT, RAS
"Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance." - Brene Brown
The core of a mutually satisfying relationships depends on both partners being authentically themselves and feeling connected to one another. Honoring your needs and setting healthy boundaries are the foundation of authenticity, influences the types of partners you attract and fall in love with. When you fear being yourself, you worry that you are unlovable. When you believe you are unworthy of love, you will fall prey to the following problems.
If you've had relationships like this in the past, are currently single, and have struggled to attract a romantic partner who makes you feel important, loved, and cared for, then I'd recommend looking at your personal boundaries and how you honor your needs.
Many people have had to face their fears of being rejected and courageously ask for what they need during the dating process. At times this meant walking away from potential partners that they maybe were head over heels for. It can be extremely difficult to take these steps for people. However, if you fail to enact healthy boundaries, ask and receive what you need, you will continue to attract partners who are not good for you. As the old saying goes, "Change occurs when the pain to remain the same is greater than the pain to change."
Improving your personal boundaries, honoring your needs, and accepting yourself as you are, is the foundation to attracting a relationship that makes you feel loved, cared for, and important.
Thomas Kessler, LMFT, RAS
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They are highly effective and generally cause fewer side effects than the other antidepressants. SSRIs help to alleviate symptoms of depression by blocking the reabsorption or reuptake of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter (chemical) that is used by brain cells to communicate. As SSRIs mainly affect the levels of serotonin and not levels of other neurotransmitters, they are referred to as “selective.”
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (Ssris) include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), fluvoxamine CR (Luvox CR), paroxetine (Paxil), paroxetine CR (Paxil CR), sertraline (Zoloft).
Side effects of SSRIs may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sexual dysfunction, headache, weight gain, anxiety, dizziness, dry mouth, and trouble sleeping.
Although SSRIs are relatively safe, there are some safety concerns regarding their use. Serotonin syndrome: Serotonin syndrome is a serious medical condition that can occur when medications that alter the concentration of serotonin in the brain are taken together. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome may include anxiety, restlessness, sweating, muscle spasms, shaking, fever, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, and diarrhea. Examples of medications that can cause serotonin syndrome include antidepressants, some pain relievers such as meperidine (Demerol) or tramadol(Ultram), St. John's wort, medicines used to treat migraine headaches called triptans, and some street drugs such as cocaine.
Significant Warning Signs for SSRI’S
Suicidal thoughts or behavior: All antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults (18 to 24 years of age).
What Is Norepinephrine Used For?
Norepinephrine is indicated for blood pressure control in certain acute hypotensive pressure. Norepinephrine is also indicated as an adjunct in the treatment of cardiac arrest and profound hypotension. Norepinephrine is available under the following different brand names: Levarterenol, and Levophed.
What Are Tricyclic Antidepressants, And How Do They Work?
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are a class of antidepressant medications that share a similar chemical structure and biological effects. Scientists believe that patients with depression may have an imbalance in neurotransmitters, chemicals that nerves make and use to communicate with other nerves. Tricyclic antidepressants increase levels of norepinephrine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters, and block the action of acetylcholine, another neurotransmitter. Scientists believe that by restoring the balance in these neurotransmitters in the brain that tricyclic antidepressants alleviate depression. In addition to relieving depression, tricyclic antidepressants also cause sedation and somewhat block effects of histamine.
For What Conditions Are Tricyclic Antidepressants Used?
Tricyclic antidepressants are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating several types of depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and bedwetting. In addition, they are used for several off-label (non-FDA approved) uses such as:
panic disorder, bulimia, chronic (for example, migraine, tension headaches, diabetic neuropathy, and post herpetic neuralgia), phantom limb pain, chronic itching, and
Note: Alcohol blocks the antidepressant action of tricyclic antidepressants but increases its sedative effect.
Thomas Kessler, LMFT, RAS
French students are about to get a much-needed detox from their cellphones now that the government has banned them during school for kids 15 and under. When will our educational system follow France’s lead?
Sadly, most schools in the United States are turning a blind eye to a looming public health crisis. What are we waiting for? A tragedy? Ten years of data? A lost generation? Not on my watch. These are my children, their peers and their friends. As a parent, I will not allow them to be guinea pigs or data points. We have to do something.
In the beginning, most of us try our best to embrace phone technology; after all, it is the future. We try to let go and be open-minded.
While some teachers are able to control cellphones in their classrooms with a variety of innovative ideas and consequences, many either cannot or will not. Enforcing phone restrictions eats into precious class time, so some tired teachers have instead begged for 20 phone-free minutes, rewarding students with unregulated “work” time for the rest of the period. Cellphones make wonderful babysitters.
Others have flocked to a disturbing “govern yourself” policy. Instead of fighting phones, they give students the freedom to choose: Put them away and learn, or keep them out and do poorly. Imagine a typical middle school boy. Will rocks and minerals capture his attention or Fortnight on his phone? You don’t have to get too deep into brain research to know that he will often make the wrong choice.
So, what are we left with? Lower test scores. Struggling students. Brilliant screens dulling our children’s learning, discussion and creativity.
And that’s just scratching the surface. Phones are taking an astronomical toll on the social, mental and emotional health of our students. Bullying during school has shifted online. Boys meet in the bathroom to look at porn, and girls scroll through events they weren’t invited to and cut themselves to dull the pain. Kids are airdropping nude photos during class. No wonder there is little brain capacity left for a five-paragraph essay.
Lunch rooms are strangely quiet as kids play online games or pass around gossip-worthy photos, and we wonder why kids are suffering from depression and anxiety like never before. They will never get these years back.
Some have created an enforceable phone policy. Two approaches schools have implemented are as follows: Over-the-door shoe pouch where phones are held during class time. Zero-tolerance policy where phones are taken if they are seen or heard.
I am not sure what everyone is so afraid of. Parents could still get a hold of children if there is an emergency. Office phones are alive and well. School-owned computers and tablets can teach students how to use technology in ways that are actually educational. They will not fall behind the curve if they don’t master Instagram or Game Pigeon.
If very little is being done in your child’s You can try to pressure your school board and principals purchasing a flip phone for my seventh-grader and Looking back on the year, they were both grateful for a less distracted opportunity to learn.
But not every parent can or will regulate like this, so we must have policy. Public education exists to give every student a fair opportunity to learn, regardless of background, socioeconomic status or family situation, and phones — not politicians or lack of funding — are stealthily stripping that opportunity away. It’s time to take a stand.
School administrators everywhere must enact real, enforceable cellphone policies, now, that take phones out of classrooms and put education back in. They are responsible for the learning that does or does not take place during the seven hours students are in school and have the power to change this destructive environment. Teachers need administrative leadership and support, and our children need a fighting chance to excel in this oversaturated world. We cannot wait one year longer. Our children deserve more.
One thing parents can do is download and install an app that allows them to shut off their child’s phone during school time. I have listed several popular apps that allow parents to control screen time and content.
CONSUMER ADVOCATE – PARENTAL APPS
Thomas Kessler, LMFT, RAS
Today the word “hyperactive” doesn’t just describe certain individuals; it also is a quality of our society. We are bombarded each day by four times the number of words we encountered daily when my mother was raising me. Even vacations are complicated — people today use, on average, 26 websites to plan one. Attitudes and habits are changing so fast that you can identify “generational” differences in people just a few years apart: Simply by analyzing daily cellphone communication patterns, researchers have been able to guess the age of someone under 60 to within about five years either way with 80 percent accuracy.
To thrive in this frenetic world, certain cognitive tendencies are useful: to embrace novelty, to absorb a wide variety of information, to generate new ideas. The possibility that such characteristics might be associated with A.D.H.D. was first examined in the 1990s. The educational psychologist Bonnie Cramond, for example, tested a group of children in Louisiana who had been determined to have A.D.H.D. and found that an astonishingly high number — 32 percent — did well enough to qualify for an elite creative scholars program in the Louisiana schools.
It is now possible to explain Professor Cramond’s results at the neural level. While there is no single brain structure or system responsible for A.D.H.D. (and some believe the term encompasses more than a single syndrome), one cause seems to be a disruption of the brain’s dopamine system. One consequence of that disruption is a lessening of what is called “cognitive inhibition.” The human brain has a system of filters to sort through all the possible associations, notions and urges that the brain generates, allowing only the most promising ones to pass into conscious awareness. That’s why if you are planning a trip to Europe, you think about flying there, but not swimming.
But odd and unlikely associations can be valuable. When such associations survive filtering, they can result in constructive ideas that wouldn’t otherwise have been thought of. For example, when researchers apply a technique known as transcranial stimulation to interfere with key structures in the filtering system, people become more imaginative and inventive, and more insightful as problem solvers.
Individuals with A.D.H.D. naturally have less stringent filters. This can make them more distractible but also more creative. Such individuals may also adapt well to frequent change and thus make for good explorers. Jews whose ancestors migrated north to Rome and Germany from what is now Israel and the Palestinian territories show a higher proportion of the A.D.H.D. gene variant than those Jews whose ancestors migrated a shorter distance south to Ethiopia and Yemen. In fact, scientists have found that the farther a group’s ancestors migrated, the higher the prevalence of the gene variant in that population.
Or consider the case of the Ariaal, a Kenyan tribe whose members through most of its history were wild-animal herders. A few decades ago, some of its members split off from the main group and became farmers.
Being a wild-animal herder is a good job if you are naturally restless; subsistence farming is a far tamer occupation. Recently, the anthropologist Dan Eisenberg and collaborators studied whether people with A.D.H.D. might thrive in the former lifestyle but suffer in the latter. They found that among the herders, those who possessed a gene that predisposed them to A.D.H.D. were, on average, better nourished. Among the farming Ariaal, the opposite was true: Those who lacked the genetic predisposition for A.D.H.D. were, on average, better nourished. Restlessness seemed to better suit a restless existence.
A.D.H.D. is termed a disorder, and in severe forms it can certainly disrupt a person’s life. But you might view a more moderate degree of A.D.H.D. as an asset in today’s turbulent and fast-changing world.
Thomas Kessler, LMFT, RAS
Dealing with uncertainty is an unavoidable part of daily life. Because we can’t see the future, we can never be certain about what exactly is going to happen day to day. Research has found that people vary in their ability to tolerate uncertainty. That is, some people are okay with having a lot of uncertainty in their lives, and other people cannot stand even a small amount of uncertainty. Anxious people, particularly those adults who worry excessively, are more likely to be very intolerant of uncertainty. They will often try to plan and prepare for everything as a way of avoiding or eliminating uncertainty.
What’s Wrong with Being Intolerant of Uncertainty?
Obviously, it is normal, even common, for most people to be a bit uncomfortable with uncertainty. We prefer to know that the restaurant we are going to serves food that we like, that there will be people we know at the party we were invited to, and that our boss tells us exactly what he thinks about our work performance. This knowledge feels more comfortable to us than not knowing anything about the restaurant we are going to, being unsure about who will be at the party, and not knowing whether our boss thinks we are doing a good or a bad job.
Uncertainty as an allergy…
Being intolerant of uncertainty is a lot like having an allergy. If you are allergic to pollen, for example, you will sneeze and cough and your eyes may get red and teary when you are exposed to even a small amount of pollen. When people who are intolerant of uncertainty are exposed to a little bit of uncertainty, they also have a strong reaction: they worry, and do everything they can think of to get away from, avoid or eliminate the uncertainty.
But being very intolerant of uncertainty can cause problems, since it leads to a lot of time-consuming and tiring behaviors, causes stress and anxiety, and is the major fuel for worry.
What do people who are intolerant of uncertainty do?
If you can’t stand having uncertainty in your life, you are probably doing things that are designed to either remove all uncertainty in daily life situations or you are outright avoiding uncertain situations.
Some of the behaviors that people do when they are intolerant of uncertainty include:
Remember: Unless you can see the future, you will always be uncertain about some things.
Another problem with intolerance of uncertainty
If you can’t stand uncertainty and do everything you can to get rid of it, you might have noticed a problem: it is IMPOSSIBLE to get rid of all uncertainty in your life.
What this means for you is that all the work that you are doing to get rid of uncertainty is useless, it just doesn't work. If it did, you would probably not be struggling with anxiety and worry.
So, what is the solution?
If you can’t get rid of uncertainty in your life, the only way to manage your intolerance of uncertainty is by learning to be more TOLERANT of uncertainty.
How can I learn to become more tolerant?
Obviously, even if you agree that being more tolerant of uncertainty would be helpful, it is not easy to change an attitude. However, in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), we know that our thoughts, feelings and actions are all inter-connected, and that if you change one, you can change the others. So, the best way to learn to become more tolerant of uncertainty is to start acting “as if” you are tolerant of uncertainty. That is, you can change your behavior around uncertainty, using CBT and this will eventually help you to change your thoughts and feelings around uncertainty.
Learning to Act "As If"
Step 1: Make a list of behaviors
Start by writing down all of the things you do to try and feel more certain, or to get around or avoid uncertainty. You can use the sample of behaviors listed above as a guide. For example,
Step 2: Rank your behaviors according to anxiety
If you want to start acting “as if” you are tolerant of uncertainty, it is best to start small. That way, you are more likely to do it and to succeed. If you pick something too difficult, you might be unable to do it and you probably won’t want to try it again.
With this in mind, look at the behaviors that you have that might be easier to try to change. You can then rank your behaviors on a scale from 0 (“no anxiety at all”) to 10 (“extreme anxiety”) by imagining how anxious you would become if you could not do them.
Step 3: Practice tolerating uncertainty
Once you have a list of behaviors that you do to reduce or avoid uncertainty, then start picking small items that you can do to practice tolerating uncertainty. Try to do at least 3 things a week.
For example, you might try going to a restaurant and ordering a meal that you have never had, and then you might send a few emails without checking them first (and no cheating! Don’t send the email to yourself as well so that you can check it later).
Step 4: Write it down!
Keep a record of all the times you were acting “as if” you were tolerating uncertainty.
Step 5: Record what happened
If you are taking some risks and are not being 100% certain in your life, there is the chance that things will not go perfectly. For example, if you tolerate uncertainty and go to a movie without reading a review, you might not like the movie. If you go grocery shopping without a list, you might come home and realize that you forgot something.
When you allow some uncertainty in your life, sometimes things go wrong. For this reason, it is important to write down the outcome of your tolerating-uncertainty exercises, and what you did to cope. For example, if you forgot an item from the grocery store, what did you do? Did you pick it up the next day? Did you go back to the store? How horrible was the outcome?
Ask yourself the following questions:
REMEMBER: Sometimes things will not go exactly as planned if you allow some uncertainty into your life. But this is not a sign of failure on your part. Most people who tolerate uncertainty learn that even if bad things happen, they can cope with them.
It is also important to realize that despite trying to make everything certain, things often didn’t always work out. It just took a lot more energy and time trying to be certain. By becoming more tolerant of uncertainty, you can let go of all of the problems associated with being intolerant, and you get to realize that you can deal with things, even when they don’t go perfectly.
Step 6: Build momentum!
When you feel comfortable with the small steps that you have taken to tolerate uncertainty, gradually try more difficult things.
Look for opportunities to tolerate uncertainty in daily life. For example, if someone asks you to pick up a bottle of wine for a party, try going to the store and buying a bottle without asking for anyone’s advice.
As you start acting more and more “as if” you are comfortable with uncertainty, it will get easier and become a part of your life. Think of it like building a muscle; you need to do your exercises every day if you want that muscle to get strong!
Thomas Kessler, LMFT, RAS
These disorders come in many forms, like a panicked feeling in social situations or constant anxiety about your health, your job, or your family. If you can’t seem to shake something like this, talk to a qualified psychiatrist. They can work with you to figure out what’s going on and help you manage it.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
You may have unnecessary fears about simple, everyday things, like money, health, family, or work. You expect the worst, even when there seems to be little to worry about. It may be hard to control this kind of worry for months at a time. It can affect your sleep and concentration, and it may leave you feeling restless, tired, and irritable.
Social Anxiety Disorder
This is not simply shyness -- you’re terrified of humiliating or embarrassing yourself in social situations. It typically starts in your teen years, and it can make social, professional, and romantic life almost impossible. You may feel powerless and ashamed.
When You're Worried About How Much You Worry
These disorders come in many forms, like a panicked feeling in social situations or constant anxiety about your health, your job, or your family. If you can’t seem to shake something like this, talk to your doctor. She can work with you to figure out what’s going on and help you manage it.
A panic attack is a sudden rush of intense anxiety that seems to come out of nowhere. It can happen anytime, even while you’re asleep. If you have them regularly and are very afraid of having another attack, you could have panic disorder. It typically starts in early adulthood, and women get it twice as often as men. Many of the same symptoms that accompany general anxiety such as a racing heart or pain in your stomach happen with a panic attack. But panic attacks are more intense, build quickly and then subside. Other symptoms include trembling, feeling like you can't breathe, being afraid you're going to die, a sense that you're going crazy.
In the past, this condition had been linked to panic disorder, but it’s now thought of as a separate disorder. You may stay away from public places where it seems hard to “escape,” like sports stadiums, the subway, or a shopping mall. In severe cases, it can be impossible for you to go outside your “safety zones” without serious anxiety.
We all have things that scare us -- like spiders, heights, elevators, or the dentist -- but most people manage these fears. When a specific fear causes so much anxiety that it affects your daily life, it becomes a phobia.
I am Trained and use the Following Treatments in my practice.
Treatment: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
Most anxiety disorders are treated in similar ways. For example, this kind of therapy helps you learn about your condition and do things -- like keeping a journal, meditation, or reflection -- to understand and change certain thoughts and behaviors. It can take 12 to 16 weeks to notice signs that you’re feeling better.
Treatment: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
With this uncommon treatment, your therapist leads you through a series of side-to-side eye movements as you talk about a troubling thought or memory. This is like the natural rapid eye movement (REM) that happens when you dream. Research shows it works for post-traumatic stress syndrome, and some doctors use it to treat panic attacks and phobias as well.
Treatment: Exposure Therapy
The idea with this is to get rid of your fear by being around the thing that scares you in a planned, gradual way: The more you’re around it, the less anxious you’ll be about it. If you have social anxiety, it might be going to a restaurant. If you have an insect phobia, it might mean getting close to a picture of the bug and then actually getting near one.
Treatment: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
With this type of therapy, you work to be aware of and accept the negative thoughts brought on by your anxiety. You learn to think about them in a different way and commit to change any behaviors that interfere with your life.
Treatment: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
These medications affect the way your brain uses the chemical serotonin to send messages that control mood and anxiety. They’re used to treat all types of anxiety disorders, as well as many forms of depression.
Treatment: Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
Similar to SSRI drugs, these medications affect chemicals in your brain -- serotonin and norepinephrine -- that are related to anxiety and mood. They’re sometimes used as a first treatment for generalized anxiety disorder.
These medications relax tension in your muscles and help calm other symptoms of anxiety, but they also can slow your thinking and make you sleepy. If you use them for a long time, you might gradually need higher doses to get the same effect, and you can become addicted.
Thomas Kessler, LMFT, RAS
Marriage & Family Therapist and Registered Addiction Specialist