Sunday, April 26, 2009

Video Games Addiction

Study: Three Million American Kids May Be Addicted to Video Games

According to a study by Iowa State University, an estimated three million U.S. children — ages 8-18 — show multiple signs of behavioral addiction.

Douglas Gentile, lead researcher for the study, found that 8.5 percent of all youths who play video games exhibited symptoms. "It becomes an addiction when it starts damaging multiple areas of your life", said Gentile. "It's unlike TV, it's unlike other things that might be a waste of time, because video games actually become a replacement for real life," said Kurt Bruner, co-author of Playstation Nation.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Be Happy

Being happier doesn’t have to be a long-term ambition. You can start right now. In the next 30 minutes, tackle as many of the following suggestions as possible. Not only will these tasks themselves increase your happiness, but the mere fact that you’ve achieved some concrete goals will boost your mood.

  1. Raise your activity level to pump up your energy. If you’re on the phone, stand up and pace. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Put more energy into your voice. Take a brisk 10-minute walk. Even better…
  2. Take a walk outside. Research suggests that light stimulates brain chemicals that improve mood. For an extra boost, get your sunlight first thing in the morning.
  3. Reach out. Send an e-mail to a friend you haven’t seen in a while, or reach out to someone new. Having close bonds with other people is one of the most important keys to happiness. When you act in a friendly way, not only will others feel more friendly toward you, but you’ll also strengthen your feelings of friendliness for other people.
  4. Rid yourself of a nagging task. Deal with that insurance problem, purchase something you need, or make that long-postponed appointment with the dentist. Crossing an irksome chore off your to-do list will give you a big rush of elation.
  5. Create a more serene environment. Outer order contributes to inner peace, so spend some time cleaning off your desk and tackling the piles in the kitchen. A large stack of little tasks can feel overwhelming, but often just a few minutes of work can make a sizable dent. Set the timer for 10 minutes and see what you can do.
  6. Do a good deed. Introduce two people by e-mail, take a minute to pass along useful information, or deliver some gratifying praise. In fact, you can also…
  7. Save someone’s life. Don't be intimidated by this - I don't mean today! Sign up to be an organ donor, and remember to tell your family about your decision. “Do good, feel good” — it really works!
  8. Act happy. Fake it 'til you feel it. That's a favorite with folks I know. Research shows that even an artificially induced smile boosts your mood. And if you’re smiling, other people will perceive you as being friendlier and more approachable.
  9. Learn something new. Think of a subject that you wish you knew more about and spend 15 minutes on the Internet reading about it, or go to a bookstore and buy a book about it. But be honest! Pick a topic that really interests you, not something you think you "should" or "need" to learn about.

Some people worry that wanting to be happier is a selfish goal, but in fact, research shows that happier people are more sociable, likable, healthy, and productive — and they’re more inclined to help other people. By working to boost your own happiness, you’re making other people happier, too. That can't be wrong.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Pressure of Looking for a New Job

The Job Interview

Just like a blind date, there are some definite no-no's you need to avoid if you want to pass a job interview:

  1. Don't try to outwit or outguess the interviewer.
    Most candidates go into a job interview thinking it's a contest where the goal is to defeat the interviewer in some type of battle of wits. "Aha, they've asked me this question, that most certainly must be some type of trick question. I just don't know what the trick is yet. Here's how I would normally answer the question, but instead I should say what he probably wants to hear." That thinking is when good interviews go bad. Sit back, relax, and pretend it is a conversation with a friend. Those are the best interviews.
  2. Read the job description.
    And then read it again, because the job description is your "cheat sheet" for the interview. Chances are the items listed on the job description will come up in the interview. For instance, if the job description says, "looking for creative problem-solvers" one of the questions you will receive is, "Give me an example of when you creatively solved a problem."
  3. Have reasons for everything you've done.
    Most companies conduct behavioral interviews. It means they are more interested in the hows and the whys, as opposed to the whats. They want to know what makes you tick. An interviewer is not simply going to say, "Oh, I see that you worked as a sales rep in your last job. Cool." That interviewer may spend about 10 minutes asking questions about the job: "What did you like about the job? What were your accomplishments? What were your biggest mistakes?" And on and on. Be sure you have answers.
  4. Ask questions.
    There is nothing more damaging than not having a single question at the end of an interview. It shows that you have no curiosity or interest in the organization. Almost every interviewer will leave about five minutes at the end of the interview to answer questions. Make sure you have a couple. Two or three questions is appropriate, and they can be either personal questions -- "What do you like about working here?" -- or they can be business questions -- "How has the Internet affected your business?"

There you have it - four quick ways that you can make sure you ace the interview and have the best chance of all at this job, that you want, and that you deserve. Good luck!

Feel Better Naturally

Nutritional fixes:

  • Fish oil contains high levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid); a deficiency in DHA has been linked to depression. When DHA is plentiful, your mood isn't the only thing that gets a boost — memory and learning are enhanced as well. Not a fish fan? Essential fatty acids are also found in a variety of seeds, nuts, oils and leafy vegetables.
  • Antioxidant-rich foods can also serve to bolster mental health. Try to include apricots, broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, blueberries, kiwi and oranges, among others, in your diet.
  • Daily multivitamins are the final step in keeping your brain and body properly regulated. When selecting supplements, look for B vitamins, magnesium, folic acid, selenium, and the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan. These brain boosters are important for curbing depression and anxiety due to their effects on the mood-regulating neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
  • Talk about your feelings. Everyone needs to talk about their feelings sometime. The only problem is, we have to be careful who we talk to. Psychotherapy or talk-therapy with a professional can help. Your confidentiality is insured.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Do You Need Christian Counseling?

  • If you can’t solve your problems in a biblical way, you probably need Christian Counseling.
  • If you and your church can’t get along, though you’ve tried talking to the pastor and/or officials, you may need counseling.
  • If you have children who are going astray, you could use biblical counseling.
  • If you want a life that pleases Christ more, and don’t know how to do so, you will need counseling.
  • If you make things worse when you try to solve them, you definitely need counseling.
  • If you are deeply in debt and not getting out of it, you need counseling.
  • If you are depressed, then surely you need counseling.

Not only do these problems indicate a probable need for counseling, there are dozens of others like this sample that would fit the category.

We stand ready to help. Call the Relationship Clinic today, or email us at

Friday, April 03, 2009

Your Brain and Your Food

We all love certain kinds of foods and when we eat them, our pleasure quotients increase dramatically.

Some recent work in brain imaging suggests that women with propensity for bulimia show “greater activation of key reward regions of the brain” after tasting a chocolate milkshake. These same individuals may also experience decreased activity in parts of the brain that control self-regulation and impulse control (as reported in the April 2009 Monitor on Psychology, pp. 48-49).

This area of research is new and so the results need replication plus interpretation. Does the brain function this way after years of bulimic behavior? Or, does the brain instigate or tempt such behavior (strong reward response plus increased impulsivity) with it’s prior functioning?

Of course, the individual struggling with bulimia cares only a little about the why. They really concern themselves with the what. How do I eat with moderation? How do I not eat for emotional reasons? Unlike alcoholics who can always avoid alcohol, everyone has to eat, and eat everyday. So, what to do when your brain responds the way it does to food? Here’s a couple of practical ideas to start you down the right path:

  1. 1. Get a “coach” or counselor who you will be completely honest with. This coach will help you construct an eating schedule and an array of responses to eating or purging temptations.
  2. Construct a realistic eating schedule that avoids avoiding food. Keep a food journal. Be honest. Keep troubleshooting with your coach until you find something that works best for you. Remember to check out your schedule (times and foods allowed) with a nutritionist.
  3. Construct and use an array of behavioral responses to eating temptations. These include distractions, connections with others, ways to make the moment better, crisis call opportunities.
  4. Develop mindful techniques to focus on eating, on stopping eating, on other forms of pleasure God has given you–even on the difficult emotions that you feel.
  5. Identify controlling automatic thoughts and lies in your “script” that drive you in particular emotional and behavioral directions. These can be about your body image, about your relationships, etc. Begin responding to them with truth from God’s point of view. Make sure your coach and others know what truthes you are trying hard to believe.
  6. As you recognize triggers, temptations, etc., also identify “ways of escape” offered you by God.

[from Musings of a Christian Psychologist by Phil]