Does T V Rot Your Brain?

television--electronics_19-105647Watching TV is something virtually everyone does, but did you know that TV can actually be harmful to you?  Television viewing can, for example, increase your risk of premature death, reduce your level of intelligence, completely obliterate your ability to concentrate and increase your risk of developing neurodegenerative brain disorders.

Researchers in Australia have concluded that watching television increases risk of death from heart disease, strokes and even cancer. Every hour spent watching television each day increases the risk of dying from heart disease by almost a fifth, say scientists. Studies found that people who sat in front of the box for more than four hours a day were 80% more likely to die for reasons linked to heart and artery disease.

“Even if someone has a healthy body weight, sitting for long periods of time still has an unhealthy influence on their blood sugar and blood fats,” said the study’s lead researcher, Prof David Dunstan, from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Victoria, Australia.

While we know a sedentary lifestyle can be dangerous to our health, few studies have  examined the effects of what watching too much TV can do to our brains. Research carried out over 25 years by California’s Institute for Research and Education has recently shown the dangers of television for our neurons, even in those who exercise regularly.

The participants were divided into two groups according to their television habits: frequent viewers (more than 3 hours of television per day) and moderate viewers (less than 3 hours per day). Their cognitive function was evaluated using the DSST (Digit Symbol Substitution Test), Stroop test, and RAVLT (Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test).

The results showed that the most frequent viewers over the 25 years (10.9%) were more likely to perform poorly on the cognitive tests. Secondly, the participants with low physical activity (16.3%) performed poorly on the DSST. Thirdly, when compared to moderate viewers engaging in regular physical activity, frequent viewers who exercised little were nearly twice as likely to perform poorly on cognitive tests. Too much television and a lack of physical activity represent independent factors linked to a decline in cognitive brain performance.

And the worst news: Exercise can’t compensate for the harmful effects of too many hours spent watching television. If you’re athletic, you are undoubtedly maintaining your cognitive abilities better than sedentary individuals, but if you also watch television for more than three hours per day, it is likely to have negative consequences on your intellectual activity.

Television reduces your ability to think critically. When you watch TV, brain activity switches from the left side of your brain (responsible for logical thought and critical analysis) to the right side.  This is significant because the right side of the brain tends not to analyze incoming information.  Instead, it uses an emotional response which results in little or no analysis of the information.  In other words, this is like someone telling you something and you believing what they say without doing your own research.

Your brain is actually more active when you are sleeping than when you are watching television! Since the health of your brain is largely determined by how much you actively use it, watching too much television can have a detrimental effect on the health of your brain.  One of the reasons that brain activity is so low when watching TV is because you really don’t have to do anything.  When you read, for example, you have to mentally create images of what you are reading. This requires significant brainpower to do so.

So, the saying ‘TV rots you brain’ has more truth to it than you might imagine. Excessive television viewing has also been linked to degenerative brain disorders later in life such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Beating Social Anxiety With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Have you ever had someone tell you… “Wow, you’re a really shy person.” It can be incredibly embarrassing. It’s difficult enough having to deal with social anxiety on a daily basis, it’s even worse when people point it out. The normal reaction to a statement like that for someone with social anxiety is probably to turn red, dart the eyes to the floor pretend to be completely invisible.

Social anxiety may seem silly to those who don’t have it, but for those that do it’s serious business. Social anxiety transforms even the smallest bits of social awkwardness into big mountains of fear and insecurity.

Thankfully, we now have more information and knowledge from psychology research on how to better manage social anxiety and not let it completely ruin people’s lives.

We’re constantly learning more in psychology and neuroscience about how to improve our lives and overcome certain obstacles and mental disorders. Interestingly, a new study has just come out in the journal Transactional Psychiatry with some incredibly promising results for those who suffer from social anxiety and excessive shyness.

After just 9 weeks of  cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), patients showed a significant reduction in social anxiety symptoms. But most surprisingly, the study found that the “fear center” in people’s brains – the amygdala – actually decreased in size by the time they were done with the course.

The shrinking of this “fear center” is neurological evidence that cognitive behavioral therapy can absolutely make a drastic impact on how our brains work.

Are you overthinking things??

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It  happens all the time.  Someone you know is going through something really tough.  You want to reach out to them, but you just don’t know what to say.  The more you think about it, the more your mind begins to overthink it.

We all have thoughts that inhibit our actions.  We question ourselves, should I call or email, or maybe text my friend in need? What if I say the wrong thing and make it worse? What if they don’t want to talk to me?  What if I make it worse?  Those negative self defeating thoughts keep coming and coming.  Sadly,  we end up not reaching out and continue to overthink the situations.

Our brains directly control our behavior. When the brain is ‘regulated’ properly it works better. It gives us clarity.  How do we get that clarity?

Biofeedback and Neurofeedback provide clearer thinking.

Biofeedback and  Neurofeedback are a great ways to help open our brain’s neural pathways that create self regulation to improve, and enhance our neurological and physiological responses. It can help us think more clearly and teach us how to respond to everyday stress in a healthy way. Biofeedback and neurofeedback provide the kind of evidence-based therapy that can benefit everyone. It enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and performance in our daily lives.

Clear thinking allows action:

  • Don’t assume others have called. Often, even good friends don’t call because they know what to say.
  • Don’t text or email. A phone call can make someone feel loved at a time they need it most. They will remember it.
  • Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. The act of you picking up the phone and giving your voice to their pain trumps any of the actual words you’d use in the conversation.
  • If they don’t want to talk, they won’t answer. Leave a message. It means just as much.
  • If you’re worried about it being uncomfortable, you’re focusing too much on yourself. The phone call isn’t about you. It’s about them, and there is nothing uncomfortable about taking a few minutes to let another human know they matter.

Don’t overthink things.  Just call.

Handle your stress – Don’t let it handle you

Stress is part of our everyday life, and some days we handle it better than others. Some days we get stressed about being stressed, starting a vicious cycle that wreaks havoc on our nerves, our work , and personal lives. However, you shouldn’t feel so guilty, as some of these are reactions are completely justified – in fact, it’d be strange if somethings didn’t cause you stress.

New research published in “The Journal of Neuroscience” shows that a stress you can control is very different from a stress that you can’t control. An example of an uncontrollable stress could be a traumatic event, such as the divorce or death of a family member. A controllable stress could be training for and running a 10k race, or preparing for your dream vacation. Not all stress is bad.

Since we’ve already identified that stress is inevitable and unavoidable, we can then agree that it’s how you handle the stress that is most important. After exposure to a controllable stress there is increased activity in the frontal cortex and research suggest that exciting this area can create resilience to stress in general. So just as with anything in life, practice dealing with stress. Set goals for yourself that required a certain amount of controllable stress, be they fitness, professional, or social. The  small amounts of stress that you are able to handle and conquer will help train your mind and body to deal with those unavoidable uncontrollable stressors in life.

But how do you keep the frontal cortex activated when the uncontrollable stress comes into play? The easiest and simplest way to do that is through the use of biofeedback, and slowing your breath rate down to a more optimal functioning level. By changing your breath rate, you change your heart rate. If you can get those two to dance together in sync, moving at the same beat, then you have created physiological balance. Both the autonomic nervous system and the central nervous system will preform better and keep the frontal lobes in an active state.

There are breathing programs that you can purchase for home use such as MY Calm Beat or M Wave, which I have both used and recommend. There are other things that you can do to help keep your brain balanced, depending on the different variables.

Remember, not all stress is bad; it is how we handle it that counts. Handle your stress, don’t let it handle you.

TEENS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP

Does your teenager want to sleep all day and stay up late at night?

The first sign that your child is becoming a teenager is when they start sleeping in until 11. Most teenagers get an average of 7.5 hours of sleep per night, when to perform at an optimal level they really need 9.25 hours. This results in teenagers not filling up their “sleep tank”, affecting their moods, ability to think, perform, and react appropriately.

Teens are learning a tremendous amount of information on a daily basis. The same part of their brain that works when learning continues when teens are at sleep, repeating and rehearsing, the brain consolidates and improves on what they just learned. The lessons are effortless. What determines how well a person will perform is a good nights sleep. Having a good nights sleep is what you need to be on top of your game. Some schools have even changed to a later start time, and have noticed that students were more alert, on task, on time and attendance was up.

It is important to make sure your growing teen is getting enough sleep. Here are some easy tips to get your teens to sleep at night.

-Breathing exercises and meditation.

-Limit Caffeine intake.

-Don’t let your teen go to bed hungry.

-Include daily “Winding-down” time.

-Make the bedroom an inviting, relaxing environment.

-Maintain a regular wake up time.

For more info, on teens and sleep please watch the video below.

www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/view/