STAYING FIT AND HEALTHY DURING THE HOLIDAYS

With the holidays coming up, the highlight for many people during this season is gathering with family and friends and enjoying favorite holiday treats. Here are some tips that will help you enjoy your holidays to the fullest while not increasing your waistline.

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MAKING AND KEEPING NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

Only 8 percent of individuals achieved their resolutions in 2016, according to Statistic Brain. This is likely due to most people having unrealistic expectations about the speed, ease and consequences of the resolutions they make. People attempting self-change rarely succeed the first time; most need five or six attempts, according to a paper published in American Psychologist by Janet Polivy and Peter Herman. The authors suggest false hope syndrome is the cause for failure.

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HEALTHY HOLIDAY OPTIONS

The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with family and friends to celebrate. These celebrations often consist of many delicious treats and hardy meals. You can still maintain a healthy diet with a little thought and planning in advance. Research from a recent Web-based survey found 18 percent of people feel they cannot eat healthily during the holidays because they don’t want to miss out on their favorite foods. You can still eat the foods you enjoy this season, just in moderation.

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regimens, especially early on. CBT differs significantly from forms of psychotherapy that typically examine how someone’s past is affecting their present thoughts and behaviors. CBT is much more focused on the here and now, attempting to stop the addict’s problematic behavior before dealing with other, longer-term issues. CBT specifically looks at things that trigger emotional discomfort and the desire to escape through compulsive use of the Internet to meet one’s needs. Web MD (2017) provides a good starting point with follow-up to specially trained and credentialed mental health professionals, including psychologists, social workers, nurses and physicians. The treatment protocol may also include an addictions specialist and a mental health counselor working with an integrated health care team.


Sources and Resources

•  Volkow, N.D., Koob, G.F., and McLellan, A.T. (2016). Neurobiological Advances from the Brain Disease Model of Addiction. New England Journal of Medicine, 374, 363-371.

•  WebMD (www.webmd.com)  

Many people enjoy visiting various Web sites and apps that challenge the brain by luring them deeper and deeper into cyber space. Cyber addiction comes in several forms, but all impact the brain. The past two decades have acquainted many people with the concept of hacking. It is why people strive to protect their computers and smartphones from outside sources trying to break in to steal information, implant malware and preocupy their lives.


It’s important to protect the brain as well. Hackers pose a threat to everyone from smartphone users to the computer databases of government organizations. Have you ever associated hacking with the way we think? When someone uses his computer excessively for offline activities that may include games, he may suffer from a type of obsessive compulsive disorder that needs to be accurately diagnosed and treated. Online obsessions are Internet addiction issues that become compulsive in nature. They may manifest as online gambling, stock trading or even buying items from Web sites and auction sites. Many individuals find compulsive shopping is a big issue. It may be hard to resist the impulse to make a purchase, resulting in brain hacking.


Exploring this phenomenon further, some people have an addiction to cyber relationships. These relationships are formed online by some who are lonely or unhappy. Whether they are social or sexual,

HACKING THE HUMAN BRAIN

these addictions can be destructive and have negative consequences. These online social connections often become more important to the addict than the real friends and family in his life.


Cybersex addiction hacks the brain by stealing the ability to make good choices. High on this list is exploring online pornography through a multitude of adult Web sites. This kind of activity can lead to sexual fantasy, chat rooms, Web cams with XXX ratings and other sexually related online activities. When these activities interfere with real-world sexual or romantic relationships, professional help is necessary.


Effective treatment of any of these addictions begins with recognizing the need and doing something about it. It follows the same basic approach that has proven to work in the treatment of general addictive and substance use disorders. If you or a loved one decide to work with a clinical specialist, treatment will likely involve counseling such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), coupled with group therapy and perhaps the inclusion of a 12-step program and other social support interventions. CBT is the backbone of most cyber-related addiction treatment

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

more articles by Dr thomas w. miller