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Bad Habits of Inconsiderate Doctors and Therapists

Most of us have had direct experience with seeing a doctor or therapist, whether it's for a checkup or some sort of problem we've identified. Some docs are a pleasure to see. I once had the kindest physician who was the epitome of an old-fashioned French country doctor. I'm not sure if he was my best doctor ever (he tended to treat my concerns with a "wait and see" attitude), but he certainly had a fantastic bedside manner and never kept me waiting more than a few minutes.

I appreciated that even more when I went to see my most recent doctor. He was far more gruff, business-like, and running more than 20 minutes late for our appointment. He didn't apologize for keeping me waiting, and while he listened to my family history with detached professionalism, he went through his canned speech about needing to exercise regularly and other kinds of things with the kind of empty delivery you find in a person who's said the same thing so many times it has lost all meaning.

Doctors and therapists both can keep bad habits, and they are the kinds of things that turn patients off from them. Patients rarely feel it's appropriate to address these bad habits directly with the doctor (especially if they intend to keep seeing them), so it was with some relief I came across Dr. Dominic Carone's blog entry about the "10 ways doctors can lose their patients."

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8 Ways to Keep Your Sanity During the Holidays

The weather outside might be frightful but inside it’s definitely worse. According to New York psychologist Jay Seitz, 25 percent of people experience some kind of holiday anxiety or depression. That is, one in four people sipping eggnog feel like that stale, bland, unpopular fruitcake that was re-gifted five times before it was fed to the neighbor’s cat on Christmas Eve. Yes, the holidays do bring a magic and excitement to the month of December, but the stress, loneliness, and blues pre-packaged with the festivities can be enough to drag a quarter of us across the tenuous line from sanity to insanity.

Here are eight tips intended to keep you from hurling the mistletoe at Uncle Fred because he asked for the butter in the wrong tone of voice.

1. Find your kind of people

The good/bad news of holiday depression is that so many people suffer from it that it’s easy to find a person with whom to relate. It’s unfortunate that one-fourth of the US population would prefer to skip the month on December. However, this means that people who hide from carolers are certainly not alone—and, if they join up with the folks chucking holiday letters in the trash unopened, they will feel a companionship that can definitely lift their moods. The trick is identifying this 25 percent.

Here’s a hint. They are typically the ones who don’t say much after the question, “How are you?” Or, if they do, their response is something like, “Okay... How are you?,” which is code for “How the hell do you think I am?” Stick with them.

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Can Wii Fit or Xbox Kinect Exergames Actually Help You Burn Calories?

With the rise of video game controllers that don't require you to be wired to the console and be adept at thumb button-pressing -- such as the Wii and the xBox Kinect -- a new genre of video games have also been developed: active video games (AVGs).

Active video games -- also known as "exergames" -- are games that combine game mechanics with activity or exercise. Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), for instance, is a simple dance competition game that has sold over 11 million copies worldwide since its latest release just two years ago.

Many people buy exercise games, such as Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus, to help them enjoy exercising more. Which then begs the question -- do such exergames actually act as good substitutes for a more traditional physical workout?

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Introducing My Meds, My Self

More and more people are exposed to psychiatric drugs earlier and earlier in their lives. Some professional associations now say children as young as 4 years old are old enough to start receiving medications — usually with little research demonstrating their long-term safety on a still-developing brain.

With so many people growing up medicated and on psychiatric medications, it seems like a good time to launch a blog that talks about the in’s and out’s of living a life medicated. I’m proud to introduce My Meds, My Self with Kaitlin Bell Barnett.

Kaitlin will discuss the experience of taking psychiatric meds, with a focus on long-term use, as opposed to people new to medication treatment altogether.

“In my experience, there’s lots of information available for people in the latter category to help them adjust to psychiatric drugs, but there’s very little for people who are supposed to be old hands at it.

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Keep Your Connection Strong This Holiday Season

This guest article from YourTango was written by Jennifer Chappell Marsh. 

The holidays are special because of the opportunities we get to connect or reconnect with friends and family. But we all know that they can also cause a lot of stress because of the complexity that is added to our everyday lives: travel, in-laws, financial pressures, cooking, and shopping all start to pile up in our already busy schedules.

We are all equipped to deal with a certain level of stress, but at a certain point our bodies throw up the white flag and we’re left feeling exhausted and short-tempered. As a result, we may be less capable of managing relationship conflicts and keeping a positive outlook. So, how do we manage the holidays while maintaining a strong connection with our partners?

Below are five ways to  help keep that connection strong and avoid a food fight with the fruit cake.

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Brain and Behavior

How Portion Size and Paying Attention Affect Your Eating Behavior

It has been suggested that we are often unaware of external factors that influence eating behavior (Wansink, 2006; Vartaninan et al., 2008).  There is a substantial body of research that shows external factors have a robust influence on eating behavior (Epstein et al., 2009; Remick et al., 2009; Rozin et al., 2003). 

These external factors include things such as portion size, labeling, variety of food we eat, and how much attention we pay when we're eating (or whether we're distracted by socializing, for instance). Even the plate size can affect how we eat.

Now, some researchers have suggested that external factors may play a larger role in eating behavior than internal factors, such as hunger, satiety, flavor, macro-nutrient content, and so on (Wansink et al., 2007; Levitsky, 2005; Wansink, et al., 2005). 

What's behind these external or environmental factors and their role in how we eat?

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How Twilight Inspired Me To Do Better With My Resolutions

I'm a huge fan of Twilight (books and movies)—a fact about myself that continues to fascinate and puzzle me. Last night, I went to see the fourth movie in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn, which inspired me to look back at a post I wrote two years ago. I really love that post, so here it is again.

* * *

Following my resolution to Enter into other people’s interests, last week I watched the movie Twilight with my older daughter. This wasn’t a sacrifice for me; I love Stephenie Meyer's books, so I was curious to see the movie.

I found the movie interesting for many reasons not relevant here (other than to say I’m thinking about Jung generally, Frazier’s The Golden Bough, and George Orwell’s discussion of “good bad poetry” in his essay, “Rudyard Kipling”), but in particular, I loved the depiction of wordless, instantaneous, passionate love.

Many of my happiness-project resolutions are meant to help me be more tender, more loving, more-lighthearted, more appreciative... and more romantic.

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A Quick Creativity Pep Talk

Patti Digh’s book Creative Is a Verb is a favorite of mine. (I refer to it often, such as in this post.) Digh is an author, consultant and speaker, who writes the beautiful blog 37 days.

Her book first introduced me to the idea that everyone is creative. In fact, the subtitle of her book is: “If You’re Alive, You’re Creative.” (When I saw this, I instantly grabbed the book off the shelf.)

For a long time, I thought creativity was akin to art and making things—activities that I stopped doing a very long time ago. But, of course, we use creativity every day, whether we’re an artist, consultant, doctor, chef, teacher, CEO or homemaker.

Today, I wanted to share a powerful passage that Digh writes in response to a common question she gets: “How can I build a successful blog?”

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A Few Quotes on Overcoming Adversity

"The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests."
-- Epictetus

"Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines."
-- Robert Schuller

"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials."
-- Chinese proverb

"The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail."
-- Nelson Mandela

“I have not failed 10,000 times. I found 10,000 ways...
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10 Helpful Hints for Holiday Spending

Money is a major stressor. In fact, finances top the list as the biggest source of holiday strain, according to a recent Mental Health America survey. And it makes sense.

Take gift-giving, for instance. “Holiday gift giving is often a very public event, fraught with comparisons, excitement, and disappointment,” said Jonathan Rich, Ph.D., psychologist and author of The Couple's Guide to Love & Money. Pricey presents tend to disappoint less, he said. “So we often go way over budget because it’s such a pleasure to give a thrilling gift and so distressing to give a gift that disappoints.”

Overspending for the holidays can leave you super stressed, in debt and pinching your pennies on the more important things. But you don’t have to feel like a slave to Santa’s wish list. Below are 10 ideas to help you reduce your spending, create a budget and fret less about your finances.

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4 Quick Tips to Help Protect Your Relationship During the Holidays

This guest article from YourTango was written by Dr. Bonnie Weil. 

The holidays can be both beneficial and detrimental to a relationship. Over a lifetime, 22 percent of married men and 14 percent of married women have had sex with someone other than their spouse. As Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil points out, circumstances often coalesce around the holidays to produce an environment hostile toward building or maintaining a healthy relationship.

Consider the holiday parties, the added stress, the additional budgetary constraints that come with gift buying, family politics, drinking and eating more than normal. When considering some of the main reasons people have affairs, they can all be found wrapped up in holiday stress.

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Best of Our Blogs: November 25, 2011

The mad dash of the holiday season is upon us now, and if you're one of the saner ones who aren't out shopping today, then you're in good company -- neither am I.

But shopping really is the least of our problems. The holidays bring the added stress of juggling not only our usual responsibilities, but also the joys of planning large get-togethers or dinners, hanging out with relatives (some of whom you like, others not so much), and doing the million and one activities that the kids and others demand of you.

Luckily, as we do every year, we've put together a great Coping with Thanksgiving Guide and its companion, Coping with the Holidays Guide. You should check them out if you haven't already.

Also, now's a good time to check out our new e-book, Tending the Family Heart Through the Holidays by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker. Just in time for the season, it is packed full of great ideas in 31 essays for making it through the holidays with a healthier, stronger family. Best of all, it's only 99 cents.

Here are a few blog entries from the past week talking about the holidays and Thanksgiving I think you'll enjoy.

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