Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Can Mindfulness Help Parents and Preteens Have Better Relationships?

By Summer Allen

A new study combines training, brain scans, and reports from kids to understand the impact of mindfulness on parenting preteens.

Adolescence can be a stressful period for the parent-child relationship. Could mindfulness help? A new pilot study took an innovative approach to the problem, combining classes for both preteens and parents with brain scans of the parents and reports from their children on how mom or dad were doing.
Previous studies found that mindfulness practice can lessen stress, depression, and anxiety in parents of preschoolers and children with disabilities—and that mindful parenting is linked to more positive behavior in kids. This new study is the first to use neural imaging to see how mindfulness practice changes the brains of parents—and the results suggest that cultivating moment-to-moment awareness may help them to become calmer and more empathic with their children.
The study, led by Elliot T. Berkman of the University of Oregon, included 18 parent-and-child pairs; children ranged from age nine to 13. Each pair attended an eight-week Mindful Families Stress Reduction Course, which was an age-appropriate adaptation of the gold standard Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course designed by mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Importantly, these sessions did not involve any explicit parenting instruction. “It was purely just coming together and doing a variety of mindfulness exercises,” says Lisa May, first author of the study. “There’s a famous one where everybody gets a raisin and everybody looks at the raisin and contemplates it.”
The parents and children were also sent home with some guided meditation exercises that they could practice at home, such as an exercise that required focusing on brushing their teeth mindfully. Not all the families were very diligent about practicing outside the weekly course meetings, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “I think that that partly speaks to being a busy family and even makes the results more promising,” says May.
Before and after the course, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at the neural activity in the parents’ brains while they practiced mindful breathing and during a period when they were asked to let their minds wander. Parents and children also completed surveys before and after the course.
Overall, parents reported decreased stress and increased mindfulness after completing the course. And there was a relationship between the two—parents who increased the most on measures of mindfulness showed the largest decreases in stress. While the adolescents, overall, did not report a significant change in how positively they viewed their family relationship, there was a significant increase overall in children’s perceptions that their parents were paying attention to them (so-called parental monitoring).
When May and colleagues compared the brain activity patterns in the parents during the breathing task and the mind wandering task, they saw that the mindfulness activity led to more activation in brain regions known to be involved in attention—consistent with previous results looking at the effect of mindfulness on the brain.
“But what was surprising is when we looked at what changed in that comparison from before the intervention to after the intervention, we saw something completely different: we saw areas related to emotion processing,” says May. The regions that showed increased activity after completing the course included ones known to be involved in self-awareness (the precuneous and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex), emotional regulation (the lateral prefrontal cortex), and emotional awareness (mid-insula).
But perhaps the most intriguing finding in this study was that parents who had the most activation in a part of the brain involved in empathy and emotional regulation (the left anterior insula/inferior frontal gyrus) had children who perceived the greatest improvement in their parent-child relationship.
These results, while quite preliminary, suggest that simply completing this brief course with their kids changed the parents’ brains and possibly made them more empathetic and able to recognize and regulate their own emotions.
“The thing that really hit home for me about this is one of the big outcomes that we often see from mindfulness interventions: People report that they’re better able to be present with their own emotions,” says May. “For example, they might be better able to say, ‘Oh wow, I’m upset right now,’ and just observe that feeling instead of trying to distract themselves from it by eating cookies or watching TV.” Being able to be present with their own emotions, says May, can help parents to be present for the feelings of their children.
May stresses that it is important to take care when interpreting this small pilot study, particularly since it lacked a control group. It could be the benefits of this study came from something as simple as parents and adolescents spending quality time together each week.
“Parents often reported feeling a lot of benefit, and their children reported benefit, just from going to something alone with their parent once a week,” says May. “That in and of itself is wonderful. If we were to do a really tightly controlled design we might see that fewer of these effects were related to the mindfulness practice and more was it was just relationship building for parents and kids.”
May recommends that parents who are interested in mindfulness check out the book Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn or look into Kabat-Zinn’s guided audio meditations. While the jury is still out on whether mindfulness practice—by parents or parents and children together—has specific benefits for the parent-adolescent relationship, at the very least it is likely to lessen parental stress—which is no small thing!

When Should You Forgive Your Partner?

By Amie M. Gordon

According to a new study, forgiving your partner may backfire if they have a certain personality type.

Your partner just made fun of you in front of your friends. Now, you have to decide how to respond. Should you shrug it off and let it go, or really let them have it when you have a moment alone together?
On one hand, forgiving your partner is a nice gesture that might encourage caring and respect between you two. On the other hand, not getting angry might let your partner think they have carte blanche to do as they please. So what is the right course of action?
Recent research suggests that it depends on your partner’s personality—in particular, whether they exhibit a trait known as agreeableness.
People high in agreeableness prioritize their relationships over their own needs, and are more cooperative and concerned with social norms; people low in agreeableness are more focused on pursuing their own self-interests.
Across four different studies, the researchers found that more agreeable people feel a strong need to respond in kind when they are forgiven, which means not repeating the behavior that bothered or upset their partner—such as smoking, flirting, neglecting chores, or overspending. Why? The research provides some evidence that agreeable people feel a sense of obligation when they’re forgiven, a kind of moral contract: You forgave me, so I’ll reciprocate by treating you well.
In contrast, the researchers found that people who are less agreeable are actually more likely to engage in similar transgressions after receiving forgiveness. What is going on in their minds? They tend to believe that anger is the appropriate response to wrongdoing, but a partner providing forgiveness is not a very angry partner. These people seem to be thinking, “You didn’t get mad at me, so you must not care that much about what I just did—so I’m going to go ahead and keep doing it.”
So what are you to do after your partner hurts or offends you?
This research identifies a problem but doesn’t provide a solution. However, simply recognizing how you and your partner might have different responses and expectations following transgressions can be a launching point for a conversation about how best to deal with them.
To do this, you can begin by identifying whether you and your partner have similar or different personalities. Are you both forgiving? Both easy to anger? If so, you are well-matched to deal with transgressions in your relationship. But if not, you may often feel unsatisfied or unheard.
If you are someone who believes that forgiveness is the right way to respond when someone you care about hurts you, but your partner doesn’t, then you might be confused as to why your partner seems to ignore your forgiveness. You might also feel hurt or confused when your partner gets angry at you after you mess up, when you were expecting forgiveness.
If you are someone who sees anger as the appropriate response, and your partner doesn’t get angered by something you do wrong, you’ll likely feel the transgression didn’t really matter to them. You might even wonder how much they really care about your relationship. You might also feel confused when your partner seems to overreact to your anger and get angry yourself when your partner continues to transgress in the future. (Agreeable people may see anger as a violation of social norms, and so anger expressed towards them could actually backfire, making them less motivated to fix their behavior in the future.)
Recognizing these differences and having a frank conversation about what anger and forgiveness mean to each of you and whether they motivate you to behave better might help illuminate the best path forward.
Although this research suggests that forgiveness may sometimes be less likely to motivate behavior change, there are other reasons to practice forgiveness. For example, it has been linked with relationship satisfaction, as well as psychological and physical health. So when choosing whether to forgive or get angry, it’s important to think over all the potential benefits and burdens of each course of action.
If the transgression is small, might it still be better to forgive a less agreeable partner, particularly if forgiveness is in your nature? And if people do choose to get angry, are there long-term costs for their relationships? Is the best approach for both partners to adopt the same style? I hope future research will provide us with answers to these lingering questions.

Dropping the Struggle in Love

An Excerpt from Dropping the Struggle by Roger Housden

Love between two people is a great work, and that work is often not easy. It is not easy under any circumstance to stay awake to our self-deceptions and unconscious expectations, even less so when it involves someone else who is bound to have misperceptions of his or her own.

So inevitably struggle happens, both inside us and between us. We struggle to find the “right” person, or we launch a campaign, covert or otherwise, to change the person we are with. Yet struggle is not the same as work. Struggle needs us to hold to a position. It needs us to be right and the other to be wrong. Relationship work, on the other hand, needs us to engage in an honest and humble exploration of our vulnerabilities and those of our partner. Struggle tightens our defenses; work can loosen them.

We struggle internally, too — with our beliefs and positions and fears. Why am I not in a relationship? What can I do to call in the One? In the words of the Clash song, “Should I stay or should I go?” Do I want to take on the challenges of being alone or those of engaging in an intimate relationship? How can I honor my needs both for independence and for intimacy?

I am as much a fool in love as anyone, but I have learned that as soon as we stop looking for answers in the self-talk in our head, as soon as we rest back from any position at all, we soften. Then we have enough presence of mind to bring our attention away from the debate and down into our heart, down into our physical presence. Then our body can speak to us. The more we place our attention there, the more a spacious silence can rise in our heart, and miracle of miracles, we may begin to feel the love that is always present, the love that we did not make or decide on, the love that both includes and transcends ourselves and our partner. In that moment, we no longer need to look for love outside, from another person or people; we ourselves are that love.

Stillness, equanimity, love — it seems paradoxical that we can experience these qualities when we step back, disengage, and detach from our thoughts and feelings. But this form of detachment is not a closing off or a disassociation from our experience. It is a deepening of it. The poet 
Czesław Miłosz, in his poem “Love,” says:

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart...
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

Perspective, or detachment, heals the heart because it frees us from the illness of self-absorption. It’s no longer all about us. It allows us to see that the other has needs, too; that his point of view is as valid to him as ours is to us. We see things in context, as part of a larger picture. If we can look at ourselves this way, we may see that we are “only one thing among many.”

When my only son was a child, I was strongly attached to not being woken early, which is still the case. I was also very attached to my morning meditation practice. So when my son would wake up I made it clear that he needed to slip into the family room and stay there, playing on his own until after I had finished my meditation. The obvious — that he was alone and probably lonely — seemed to pass me right by. My habits were more important to me than my son feeling loved. Occasionally I would leap up out of meditation and call to him to be quiet, the irony almost completely lost on me. That was self-absorption, and it wasn’t pretty.

Now, decades later, I soften more around the edges of a reaction and stay present, in the stillness that is always the background, to whatever emerges. Another name for that stillness is love. Being willing to let go of the thoughts and feelings that prevent me from living fully into the moment is a humbling process, a lifetime’s work that has no arrival point. But my world feels a little more loving as a result; I am more generous both to myself and to others.

Roger Housden is the author of Dropping the Struggle and numerous other books, including the best-selling Ten Poems series, which began in 2001 with Ten Poems to Change Your Life and ended with Ten Poems to Say Goodbye in 2012. He offers writing workshops, both in person and online, with an emphasis on self-discovery and exploration. Visit him online at http://www.rogerhousden.com/.

Excerpted from Dropping the Struggle: Seven Ways to Love the Life You Have. Copyright © 2016 by Roger Housden. Printed with permission from New World Library.

Link to Dropping the Struggle: Seven Ways to Love the Life You Have

Dropping the Struggle for Meaning

An Excerpt from Dropping the Struggle by Roger Housden

The movement toward personal meaning — the level of becoming, or individuation — is usually associated with having a purpose, with the journey of becoming someone through action and some form of achievement in the world, whether it be raising a child, launching a business, or performing an act of service. Find your purpose, and your meaning will follow, the idea goes, because purpose can bring a sense of order into what might otherwise feel like a random jumble of events.

I once took a workshop in which we were asked to define our purpose. I sat there for a few moments with the usual tropes running through my mind, but nothing seemed to fit. I was stumped. Then I realized that I saw purpose in a way that was intrinsically different from flow charts and graphs.

I could not say how my purpose was distinct from whatever I was doing or not doing in the moment. If there was a pattern to my life, in terms of my activities and my relationship to the world, I experienced it as a secret that was revealing itself to me moment by moment, step by step. It has never been the result of a five-year plan.

It was a secret because it was not accessible to my conscious mind. It lay deeper than that, and sometimes it secreted its perfume and sometimes it didn’t. That’s why systems and maps prescribed by others are unlikely to catch our scent on the wind: because our deeper purpose leaves a trace that only we can recognize.

The pattern of our existence — our original template, you could say — may emerge in the form of some vague prompting, or as a genuine delight, or as an affinity for a particular activity. It might be the moment when long-held values finally translate into action, as happened for Jena Lee Nardella. She left college with an overwhelming desire to bring a thousand wells to African villages. She was motivated by her Christian faith and by a spontaneous desire to respond to the needs of others.

The result was Blood: Water, an organization that has brought water to millions of people all over Africa. Jena started out with the desire to change the world. Ten years later, having experienced firsthand both the brokenness and the beauty in our human condition, she realized that her deepest purpose was not, after all, to change the world but to love it. Her work became less driven by results. She relaxed into an appreciation and an acceptance of the process along the way.

You might find your true purpose — your particular, authentic expression of being — through a serendipitous encounter. It might come as an intuition, some coincidence or sudden memory, like a reminder, apparently unrelated to your situation. However it comes, however fleetingly, it will feel significant. It may seem trivial, but that moment may be significant in a way that a major life event turns out not to be. Our job then is to listen, to listen and catch the lilt in the voice of the wind.

Many Western cultures hold that each individual has his own unique calling or pattern of potentiality that he is born with. The Greeks called it your daimon, the Romans called it your genius, the Christians your guardian angel. The Romantics, like John Keats, believed the call comes from the heart. It is both within you and also not in you. It is the pattern of your unique existence that you are called on to decipher. It is the seed you were born with that wants to bear fruit, and it carries your fate.

There is no one and never will be anyone just like you. That is why your life, however it shows up, is your unique purpose. Whatever is happening, whatever you are doing, that is the expression of your purpose right now. So look around you. Your unfolding life is your gift to the world. It is a gift that no one else can offer.

But that doesn’t mean our individual story is already written and our life just lives itself out. It doesn’t mean there is an unalterable script somewhere deep in our bones. That would be fatalism. It would be to say that everything is in the hands of the gods, that all we have to do is to sit back and see what happens. But no. Everything is in play until the very end. We live the paradox: our life will always be a mystery, imponderable; and it will always be our responsibility.

The word fate in the ancient Greek meant “a portion.” Fate is only a portion of what happens, not, as fatalism would have it, the whole enchilada. The Greek idea of fate, rather than fatalism, is this: stuff happens. It happens in the convergence of different forces. Fate has a portion, a part, to play. Our personal energy, our authentic core, is also a portion. The context, the situation we are in, is another portion. The confluence of these forces at any one moment is expressed today as chaos theory. Life comes to us and through us out of left field. We are not in charge.

Roger Housden is the author of Dropping the Struggle and numerous other books, including the best-selling Ten Poems series, which began in 2001 with Ten Poems to Change Your Life and ended with Ten Poems to Say Goodbye in 2012. He offers writing workshops, both in person and online, with an emphasis on self-discovery and exploration. Visit him online at http://www.rogerhousden.com/.

Excerpted from Dropping the Struggle: Seven Ways to Love the Life You Have. Copyright © 2016 by Roger Housden. Printed with permission from New World Library.

Link to Dropping the Struggle: Seven Ways to Love the Life You Have

Dropping The Struggle

by Roger Housden

Is it possible to love the life you have — acknowledging and accepting the conditions of your life exactly as they are — and drop the struggle to make you and your life different?

That is the question that acclaimed teacher and bestselling author Roger Housden invites readers to live into in Dropping the Struggle: Seven Ways to Love the Life You Have. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book’s introduction.

Until a few years ago I had spent the greater part of my time in a more or less covert struggle with life. However well things were going, I often felt that something was not quite right. Either I didn’t want what turned up in quite the form it appeared, or I wanted something else that never quite materialized in the way I would have hoped. Always there was the pervasive feeling that something was missing, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

So I struggled to find the missing piece. I struggled for meaning and ran all over India and the Middle East looking for it. I struggled to feel that I was somebody rather than nobody, I struggled to find creative work that inspired me, I struggled with the past and with concerns for the future, I struggled in relationships, I struggled to improve myself, and sometimes I even struggled to get out of bed in the morning instead of hiding under the sheets. And yes, I would struggle to avoid the fact that I am not built to last and that the whole Roger show would be over before I’d even had time to discover what on earth it was all about.

And yet for much of my life I wasn’t even aware that I was struggling. It was so normal, and often so subtle — the background banter in my head as I went about my day — that I never even thought to call it a struggle; until, that is, I gradually became intimate enough with myself to acknowledge the feeling tones with which I moved through the day and to see through the ways I made my own life so needlessly difficult. Now the struggles are mostly over, or when they aren’t, I manage to see them more quickly for what they are and remember — mostly — to step out of the ring. Call it the natural wisdom of aging if you like. If I have not learned to drop the struggle by now, I probably never will.

Struggle happens for all of us, so it must have a place in the scheme of things, but I for one have spent way too much time struggling for what struggle can never accomplish. For struggle is not the same as effort — what is sometimes called “right effort.” We all need to make an effort in every area of our life, effort that allows us to fulfill an intention or that edges us toward what we know to be true, even if we don’t inhabit it now. Life doesn’t just provide us with food and shelter as a natural right. Roger Federer didn’t become the tennis champion he is without effort. If you are anything like me, you didn’t make it through college without effort. Effort is a natural exertion of the personal will toward a specified end.

But struggle is an added push that is born of fear. Ultimately, it is born of the fear of not surviving, of dissolving and disappearing, not just as a physical form but as a psychological self. Struggle reinforces the ego’s identity. It is one of the ways the ego asserts its existence.

Yet struggle will never get us the things we want most — love; meaning; presence; freedom from anxiety over the past and future; contentment with ourselves exactly as we are, imperfections and all; the acceptance of our mortality — because these things lie outside the ego’s domain. For these, we need another way. That way begins and ends in surrender, in letting go of our resistance to life as it presents itself.

We struggle with reality when we lose touch with the dimension of our being that is not defined by our egoic identity. Who or what is larger than the ego? You are. This book is dedicated to that larger, indefinable you, to reminding you to rest back into the life you already have, just as it is. And I say “reminding you” because deep down we already know. It’s easier than you think, but it takes more than an hour-long yoga class.

It takes an allowing, in the form of a persistent, deep, and courageous Yes! to life right now. That Yes doesn’t wave away the pain of the world as mere illusion; neither does it attempt to become some detached awareness or witness safely removed from the trials of life. It doesn’t mean not caring about what happens in the world or in our own lives. It means caring so much that the heart spills open. It means being willing to be fully here where we are, wherever we are, however dark or light it happens to be.

When that Yes happens, we open our arms to life as it appears and disappears, moment to moment. We fall back into the larger aliveness that we already are, out of range of the ego’s dictates. This is true relaxation; it is what we are here for. And it is what this book is for: to help you celebrate seven different ways of dropping the struggle and loving the life you already have.

Roger Housden is the author of Dropping the Struggle and numerous other books, including the best-selling Ten Poems series, which began in 2001 with Ten Poems to Change Your Life and ended with Ten Poems to Say Goodbye in 2012. He offers writing workshops, both in person and online, with an emphasis on self-discovery and exploration. Visit him online at http://www.rogerhousden.com/.

Excerpted from Dropping the Struggle: Seven Ways to Love the Life You Have. Copyright © 2016 by Roger Housden. Printed with permission from New World Library.

Link to Dropping the Struggle: Seven Ways to Love the Life You Have

Inspirational Quote for September 27, 2016

“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.”

Made me smile because, although it took me a minute to make sense of, it then made perfect sense. Let’s face it who would test your tolerance more than your enemy? Nobody, that’s who! Just by learning to deflect or deal with whatever comes at you from someone who doesn’t regard you as “flavor of the month”, in a calm and mature way, will test your tolerance limits big time. So you should be thanking whoever it is in a way, shouldn’t you, for teaching you to be the tolerant person you are today. Well, maybe not!

by CathiBew.co.uk

From Royalty to Relics: India's Dinosaur Princess

Known as India's very own "Jurassic Park," the Balasinor Fossil Park lies nestled in the tiny Raiyoli village of Gujarat's Khera district. And guarding the Park's 65-million-year-old eggs is a fiercely passionate, dinosaur-loving former princess, Aaliya Sultana Babi. Aaliya fell in love with the fossil beds when she was a teenager and is now an enthusiastic promoter and protector of the precious and awe-inspiring site.

Fierce Contemplation: The Nuns Who Stopped a Pipeline

On August 8, 2013, Ceciliana Skees and other sisters from Loretto and several other convents attended an informational meeting held by representatives of the Bluegrass Pipeline. A joint venture between Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, the project would have transported natural gas liquids from fracking fields in Pennsylvania and Ohio southwest across Kentucky to connect with an existing pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico, with Loretto's land directly in its path. Frustrated with what they saw as a lack of helpful information, several of the sisters, including Skees, gathered in the center of the room and broke into song. A video of the sisters singing "Amazing Grace" was picked up by media outlets, and reached hundreds of thousands of people. Read on to learn more about these active nuns, and how they stopped the pipeline in its tracks.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

6 Ways Binge Eating Can Hurt Your Health

Weight Gain and Obesity

If you eat a lot of food in a short amount of time on a regular basis, you might have binge eating disorder (BED). It can affect your health in a lot of ways, but two of the main risks are weight gain and obesity. Two-thirds of those with BED are obese, though average-sized people can have it, too.

What to Do About the Extra Weight

Set a goal to shed those added pounds. You can reach a healthy weight with exercise, portion control, and smart food choices. But you might need a special program that also treats eating disorders. Your doctor can help you find the right one.

Type 2 Diabetes

Overeating can lead to diabetes. That means your body can’t use the hormone insulin correctly, which makes your blood sugar levels harder to control. Over time, this can damage your kidneys, your eyes, and your heart.

How to Handle Your Diabetes

The more you know about diabetes, the better you can take control of your condition. You’ll need to keep track of your blood sugar levels, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of exercise. You may need medication to manage the disease, but not everyone does.

Depression and Anxiety

Binge eating disorder often goes hand in hand with mood troubles. Doctors think many things can lead to BED, so it’s hard to say for sure that depression or anxiety cause it. But people who binge eat often feel shame and guilt about their problem. Most try to hide it.

How to Manage Mood Disorders

Eat nutritious food, exercise, and get your ZZZs, because healthy habits like those can help you fight your anxiety or depression. But treatment for BED also might include sessions with a mental health professional, who could recommend talk therapy, antidepressant medications, or other medicines that can help treat binge-eating behavior.

Troubles With Digestion

Long-lasting heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can also happen to people who binge eat. Those issues are often linked with weight gain and obesity, so doctors aren’t sure if the disorder itself or the excess pounds are to blame.

Treatment for Heartburn and IBS

Heartburn that doesn’t get better can cause serious issues, including damage to your esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. See your doctor if you have it twice a week or more. She might give you prescription meds or tell you to see another doctor who specializes in digestion. For IBS, a healthy diet and cutting stress can help, but you may also need medication.

Gallbladder Disease

Many health problems linked to BED -- obesity, high cholesterol, high triglycerides (fat in your blood), and yo-yo weight gain and loss -- also raise the risk of trouble with your gallbladder. That's the small pouch that sits under your liver. The most common problem is gallstones, the buildup of cholesterol or bile in the organ.

Treatment for Gallstones

Your doctor might be able to remove them with surgery, or she may have to take out your gallbladder. Sometimes doctors prescribe a drug to dissolve gallstones, but that’s not a long-term solution.

Stroke and Heart Disease

High blood pressure and high cholesterol are common with BED, and they can raise your chances of a stroke and heart disease. When your blood pressure stays too high for a long time, it strains your blood vessels. And high cholesterol can clog your arteries.

Make Heart-Smart Changes

Stop smoking, lose extra weight, and exercise regularly to lower your blood pressure. Those same steps can lower your cholesterol, as will a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Your doctor might also prescribe drugs to keep your BP and cholesterol numbers low.

11 Things That Weaken Your Bones

1. Too Much Salt

The more salt you eat, the more calcium your body gets rid of, which means it’s not there to help your bones. Foods like breads, cheeses, chips, and cold cuts have some of the highest counts. You don’t have to cut salt out entirely, but aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day.

2. Binge Watching

It’s fine to enjoy your favorite show. But it’s way too easy to spend endless hours in front a screen, nestled on your couch. When it becomes a habit to lounge, you don’t move enough and your bones miss out. Exercise makes them stronger. It’s best for your skeleton when your feet and legs carry the weight of your body, which forces your bones and muscles to work against gravity.

3. Miles of Bike Rides

When you pedal to work or ride for hours on the weekend, your heart and lungs get stronger. Your bones? Not so much. Because it’s not a weight-bearing activity, bike riding does not increase your bone density, unlike walks, runs, and hikes. If you’re an avid cyclist, you’ll want to add some time in the weight room to your routine and mix it up with activities like tennis, hiking, dancing, and swimming (the water’s resistance helps your bones).

4. Too Much Time in Your “Cave”

Maybe you need to get out more. The body makes vitamin D in sunlight. Just 10-15 minutes several times a week could do it. But don’t overdo it. Too much time in the sun can raise your risk of skin cancer. And there are some other catches, too. Your age, skin color, the time of year, and where you live can make it harder to make vitamin D. So can sunscreen. Add fortified cereals, juices, and milks (including almond, soy, rice, or other plant-based milks, as well as low-fat dairy) to your diet. And ask your doctor if you need a vitamin D supplement.

5. Another Pitcher of Margaritas

When you’re out with friends, one more round might sound like fun. But to keep bone loss in check, you should limit the amount of alcohol you drink. No more than one drink a day for women and two for men is recommended. Alcohol can interfere with how your body absorbs calcium.

6. Overdoing Some Drinks

Too many cola-flavored sodas could harm your bones. While more research is needed, some studies have linked bone loss with both the caffeine and the phosphorous in these beverages. Other experts have suggested that the damage comes when you choose to have a soda instead of milk or other drinks that contain calcium. Too many cups of coffee or tea can also rob your bones of calcium.

7. Bowls of Wheat Bran With Milk

What sounds healthier than 100% wheat bran? But when you eat it with milk, your body absorbs less calcium. Don’t worry about other foods, like bread, that might contain wheat bran. But if you’re a fan of the concentrated stuff and you take a calcium supplement, allow at least 2 hours between the bran and your pill.

8. Smoke Breaks

When you regularly inhale cigarette smoke, your body can’t form new healthy bone tissue as easily. The longer you smoke, the worse it gets.

Smokers have a greater chance of breaks and take longer to heal. But if you quit, you can lower these risks and improve your bone health, though it might take several years.

9. Your Prescriptions

Some medications, especially if you have to take them for a long time, can have a negative impact on your bones. Some anti-seizure drugs and glucocorticoids, like prednisone and cortisone, can cause bone loss. You might take anti-inflammatory drugs like glucocorticoids if you have conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, asthma, and Crohn's disease.

10. Being Underweight

A low body weight, a BMI of 18.5 or less, means a greater chance of fracture and bone loss. If you’re small-boned, do weight-bearing exercises and ask your doctor if you need more calcium in your diet. If you’re not sure why you’re underweight, ask your doctor about that, too. She can check to see if an eating disorder or another medical condition is the reason.

11. If You Take a Tumble

When you tripped as a child, you probably got right back up again. As you get older, though, falls get more dangerous, especially if you have weak bones.

A fracture or broken bone can take a long time to heal. In older adults, it can often be the start of a decline that’s hard to come back from. Walk easier at home with safety features like grab bars and non-slip mats. Clear the clutter from your path, indoors and out, to avoid a misstep.

Inspirational Quote for September 25, 2016

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

This asks us to look at ourselves when we are inclined or tempted to judge other people. Sometimes we can be very judgmental can’t we? I know I can. However, I really understand what this is saying. Every one of us is defined by the words or actions we use to judge someone else, usually without really getting to know them, or being able to get to know them. How many times have you judged someone, then got to know them better, and reversed your initial judgement? What do you think of the person you were when you made that judgement? Exactly! Get it now?

by CathiBew.co.uk

Should You Ask Your Children to Apologize?

By Craig Smith

When kids say sorry, are they learning a lesson or just parroting empty words?

Have you ever felt deserving of an apology and been upset when you didn’t get one? Have you ever found it hard to deliver the words, I’m sorry?
Such experiences show how much apologies matter. The importance placed on apologies is shared by many cultures. Diverse cultures even share a great deal in common when it comes to how apologies are communicated.
When adults feel wronged, apologies have been shown to help in a variety of ways: Apologies can reduce retaliation; they can bring about forgiveness and empathy for wrongdoers; and they can aid in the repair of broken trust. Further, sincere apologies have the physiological effect of lowering blood pressure more quickly, especially among those who are prone to hold on to anger.
How do children view and experience apologies? And what do parents think about when to prompt their young ones to apologize?

How children understand apologies

Research shows that children as young as age four grasp the emotional implications of apology. They understand, for example, that an apology can improve the feelings of someone who’s been upset. Preschoolers also judge apologizing wrongdoers to be more likable, and more desirable as partners for interaction and cooperation.
Recent studies have tested the actual impact of apologies on children. In one such study, a group of four to seven year olds received an apology from a child who failed to share, while another group did not get an apology. The participants who received the apology felt better and viewed the offending child as nicer as well as more remorseful.
Another study exposed children to a more distressing event: A person knocked over a tower that six to seven year olds were building. Some children got an apology; some did not. In this case, a spontaneous apology did not improve children’s upset feelings. However, the apology still had an impact. Children who got an apology were willing to share more of their attractive stickers with the person who knocked over the tower compared to those who did not get an apology.
This finding suggests that an apology led to forgiveness in children, even if sadness about the incident understandably lingered. Notably, children did feel better when the other person offered to help rebuild their toppled towers. In other words, for children, both remorseful words and restorative actions make a difference.

When does a child’s apology matter to parents?

Although apologies carry meaning for children, views on whether parents should ask their children to apologize vary. A recent caution against apology prompting was based on the mistaken notion that young children have limited social understanding. In fact, young children understand a great deal about others’ viewpoints.
When and why parents prompt their children to apologize has not been systematically studied. In order to gain better insight into this question, I recently conducted a study with my colleagues Jee Young Noh and Michael Rizzo at the University of Maryland and Paul Harris at Harvard University.
We surveyed 483 parents of three- to 10-year-old children. Most participants were mothers, but there was a sizable group of fathers as well. Parents were recruited via online parenting discussion groups and came from communities all around the U.S. The discussion groups had a variety of orientations toward parenting.
In order to account for the possibility that parents might want to show themselves in the best light, we took a measure of “social desirability bias” from each parent. The results reported here emerged after we statistically corrected for the influence of this bias.
We asked parents to imagine their children committing what they would consider to be “transgressions.” We then asked them how likely they would be to prompt an apology in each scenario. We also asked parents to rate how important they felt it was for their children to learn to apologize in a variety of situations. Finally, we asked the parents about their general approaches to parenting.
The large majority of parents (96 percent) felt that it was important for their children to learn to apologize following an incident in which children upset another person on purpose. Further, 88 percent felt it was important for their children to learn to apologize in the aftermath of upsetting someone by mistake.
Fewer than five percent of the parents surveyed endorsed the view that apologies are empty words. However, parents were sensitive to context.
Parents reported being especially likely to prompt apologies following their children’s intentional and accidental “moral transgressions.” Moral transgressions involve issues of welfare, justice, and rights, such as stealing from or hurting another person.
Parents viewed apologies as relatively less important following their children’s transgressions of social convention (e.g., breaking a rule in a game, interrupting a conversation).

Apology as a way to mend rifts

It’s noteworthy that parents were very likely to anticipate prompting apologies following incidents in which their children upset others on purpose and by mistake.
This suggests that a focus for many parents, when prompting apologies, is addressing the outcomes of their children’s social missteps. Our data suggest that parents use apology prompts to teach their children how to manage difficult social situations, regardless of underlying intentions.
For example, 88 percent of parents indicated that they would typically prompt an apology if their child broke a peer’s toy by mistake (in the event that the child did not apologize spontaneously).
Indeed, parents especially anticipated prompting apologies following accidental mishaps that involved their children’s peers (and not parents themselves as the wronged parties). When a child’s peer is a victim, parents likely recognize that apologies can quickly mend potential interpersonal rifts that may otherwise linger.
We also asked parents why they viewed apology prompts as important for their children. In the case of moral transgressions, parents saw these prompts as tools for helping children take responsibility. In addition, they used apology prompts for promoting empathy, teaching about harm, helping others feel better, and clearing up confusing situations.
However, not all parents viewed the importance of apology prompting in the same way. There was a subset of parents who were relatively permissive: warm and caring but not overly inclined to provide discipline or expect mature behavior from their children.
Most of these parents were not wholly dismissive of the importance of apologies, but they consistently indicated being less likely to provide prompting to their children, compared to the other parents in the study.

When to prompt an apology

A card from daughter to mother.A card from daughter to mother.Todd Ehlers, CC BY-ND
Overall, most parents in our study viewed apologies as important in the lives of children. And the child development research described above indicates that many children share this view.
But are there more and less effective ways to prompt a child to apologize? I argue that parents should consider whether a child will offer a prompted apology willingly and sincerely. A recently completed study sheds some light on why.
In this study—currently under review—we asked four- to nine-year-old children to evaluate two types of apologies that were prompted by an adult. One apology was willingly given to the victim after the apology prompt; the other apology was given only after additional adult coercion (“You need to say you’re sorry!”).
We found that 90 percent of the children viewed the recipient of the prompted, “willingly given” apology as feeling better. However, only 22 percent of the children connected a coerced apology to improved feelings in the victim.
So, as parents ponder the merits of prompting apologies from children, it seems important to refrain from pushing one’s child to apologize when he or she is not ready, or is simply not remorseful. Most young children don’t view coerced apologies as effective.
In such cases, interventions aimed at calming down, increasing empathy, and making amends may be more constructive than pushing a resistant child to deliver an apology. And, of course, components like making amends can accompany willingly given apologies as well.
Finally, to arguments that apologies are merely empty words that young children parrot, it’s worth noting that we have many rituals that involve rather scripted verbal exchanges, such as when two people in love say “I do” at a wedding or commitment ceremony.
Just as these scripted words carry deep cultural and personal meaning, so too can other culturally valued verbal scripts, such the words in an apology. Thoughtfully teaching young children about apologizing is one aspect of teaching them how to be caring and well-regarded members of their communities.