Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Is Your Teen Addicted to Gaming?

It's bad enough that you rarely see your teen but when he is home he spends his time staring at the computer playing interactive games. What should a parent do? Do you limit his time on the computer or ban interactive games altogether? How do you know when a simple game is becoming a problem?

Teens need alone time. Their life is changing at a rapid and stressful rate and they absolutely need down time do do nothing at all. But the amount of downtime they need is minimal - perhaps an hour a day depending on the teen. Gaming may be your teens way of getting down time.

If gaming is becoming a habitual way to avoid interacting with others or if it is beginning to prevent your teen from taking care of other responsibilities then perhaps it is time to talk to him about the role gaming is playing in his life.

Remember to ask him how gaming makes him feel and to listen rather than lecture or dictate new rules. The latter will invoke defensiveness and your teen will turn a deaf ear. But if you discover what your teen is turning his back on via gaming, it is possible to develop a dialogue about some of life's demands that are causing him to feel overwhelmed. Take this opportunity to learn about your teen and to see the gaming as a symptom rather than an enemy.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Overcoming Despair, and Holiday Blues

Depression is different than feelings of despair in that it may last longer and/or is more intense than despair. However, treating despair and treating depression have some similarities.

Despair often results from a faulty interpretation of an experience. For instance when something goes wrong you tell yourself that the situation is hopeless or that the situation is beyond repair. The fastest way out of despair is to redefine the situation. Instead of allowing your negative thoughts to dictate your feelings, train yourself to define the situation in a way that does not include exaggerated language. You might say to yourself "OK, this is bad, but it's not the end of the world."

Despair, no matter how intense, will not last forever. All feelings have a way of fading with time. Think back to another time when you felt like the world would end and realize that, in fact, it didn't. It may be difficult, but you will get through this too.

If you have feelings of despair following this advice may be just the medicine you need to get you back on track.

Smile: It sounds silly, but studies have shown that even a fake smile produces "feel good" chemicals (endorphins) in your brain. Go find a mirror and force yourself to smile for at least five minutes. If you’re not laughing by then, go outside and smile at strangers. It may sound strange, but it works. Do it.

Exercise: A good swift walk around the block or 15 minutes of aerobics will stimulate your brains’ "feel good" chemicals alleviating your negative mood. Work in the garden, vigorously clean the house or just go for a 20 minute walk every day, the difference will surprise you.

Keep a journal: Recent research has shown that writing about your despair doesn’t alleviate it. However, making daily lists of those things for which you are grateful can make a dramatic difference in your mood. Every day write down three things that you are grateful for, then write down one thing that you like about yourself.

Do a good deed: It sounds simple but it is a very important part of dealing with despair and depression. Studies confirm that when you step outside of yourself, and spend time helping others, you begin to leave your own issues behind; negativity is soon replaced with happiness and self pity is replaced with the uplifting feelings that come with helping others. Start small, bring cookies to a friend or take your teenager to lunch.

Caffeine can cause despair to worsen. Reduce or delete caffeine from your diet. And last but not least, make room in your day for 20 minutes of sunshine. It sounds simple but decades of research have proven that doing these two things will make a marked difference in your ability to cope with despair.

You are ultimately in control of your emotions and your life. The choices you make today will determine your tomorrow.