Let go of burdens

During meditation, we should not develop a mind which accumulates and holds on to things, but instead we develop a mind which is willing to let go of things, to let go of burdens. Outside of meditation we have to carry the burden of our many duties, like so many heavy suitcases, but within the period of meditation so much baggage is unnecessary. So, in meditation see how much baggage you can unload. Think of these things as burdens, heavy weights pressing upon youI like to begin at the very simple stage of giving up the baggage of past and future.

Abandoning the past means not even thinking about your work, your family, your commitments, your responsibilities, your history, the good or bad times you had as a child…, you abandon all past experiences by showing no interest in them at all. As for the future, the anticipations, fears, plans, and expectations let all of that go too. This future is known to the wise as uncertain, unknown and so unpredictable. It is often complete stupidity to anticipate the future, and always a great waste of your time to think of the future in meditation.

When you have abandoned all past and all future, it is as if you have come alive. You are here, you are mindful. This is the first stage of the meditation, just this mindfulness sustained only in the present.

Ajahn Brahm, Sustained Attention on the Present Moment

New study links screentime to sixteen health and wellbeing problems

A new study published today in the influential BMJ (British Medical Journal) has systematically reviewed the evidence to date on the effects of screentime on health and wellbeing in adolescents and children.

The study, authored by UCL researchers Dr Russell M Viner and Neza Stiglic, concludes that there is moderately strong evidence linking higher screentime with depression and obesity.

The study also found moderate evidence supporting the link between elevated screentime and reduced quality of life, unhealthy diet and increased calorie intake.

Additionally, the researchers found weaker evidence linking higher screentime with behaviour problems, anxiety, hyperactivity and inattention, poorer self-esteem, poorer well-being and poorer psychosocial health, metabolic syndrome, poorer cardiorespiratory fitness, poorer cognitive development and lower educational attainments and poor sleep outcomes.

On the other hand, the study found weak evidence that small amounts of daily screen use is not harmful.

Strength of Evidence Linking Screentime with Health and Wellbeing Outcomes

  • Obesity – Moderately Strong Evidence
  • Depressive Symptoms – Moderately Strong Evidence
  • Reduced Quality of Life – Moderate Evidence
  • Unhealthy Diet – Moderate Evidence
  • Increased Calorie Intake – Moderate Evidence
  • Behaviour Problems – Weak Evidence
  • Anxiety – Weak Evidence
  • Hyperactivity and Inattention – Weak Evidence
  • Poorer Self-Esteem – Weak Evidence
  • Poorer Wellbeing – Weak Evidence
  • Poorer Psychosocial Health – Weak Evidence
  • Metabolic syndrome – Weak Evidence
  • Poorer Cardiorespiratory Fitness – Weak Evidence
  • Poorer Cognitive Development – Weak Evidence
  • Lower Educational Attainments – Weak Evidence
  • Poor Sleep Outcomes – Weak Evidence
  • Eating Disorders – Insufficient Evidence
  • Suicidal Ideation – Insufficient Evidence
  • Individual Cardiovascular Risk Factors – Insufficient Evidence
  • Asthma Prevalence – Insufficient Evidence
  • Physical Pain – Insufficient Evidence

What does this mean for business, innovation and marketing? First, this litany of nefarious screentime effects should be taken with a pinch of salt. The researchers note that there is a lack of quality research available to date, and so the findings are tentative. More research is needed to confirm the links between screentime and health and wellbeing – specifically to elucidate how exactly screentime affects us.

That said, this study adds credence to the idea that technology companies may have a duty of care to minimise the screentime that they encourage or impose on users. Whilst digital screens can help make products and experiences cheaper, more convenient, more reliable and more fun, these benefits should be weighed against the impact of increased screentime.

The full study, which involved a systematic review of prior research, including an assessment the quality of evidence, can be downloaded here.

Stiglic N, and Viner R. M. (2019) Effects of screentime on the health and well-being of children and adolescents: a systematic review of reviewsBMJ Open, 9, e023191.

And if you want to dig deeper, here is a list of the individual research studies that the study used as data sources.

Carson, V., Hunter, S., Kuzik, N., Gray, C. E., Poitras, V. J., Chaput, J. P., … & Kho, M. E. (2016). Systematic review of sedentary behaviour and health indicators in school-aged children and youth: an updateApplied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism41(6), S240-S265.

Costigan, S. A., Barnett, L., Plotnikoff, R. C., & Lubans, D. R. (2013). The health indicators associated with screen-based sedentary behavior among adolescent girls: a systematic reviewJournal of Adolescent Health52(4), 382-392.

Duch, H., Fisher, E. M., Ensari, I., & Harrington, A. (2013). Screen time use in children under 3 years old: a systematic review of correlatesInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity10(1), 102.

Hale, L., & Guan, S. (2015). Screen time and sleep among school-aged children and adolescents: a systematic literature reviewSleep Medicine Reviews21, 50-58.

Hoare, E., Milton, K., Foster, C., & Allender, S. (2016). The associations between sedentary behaviour and mental health among adolescents: a systematic reviewInternational journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity13(1), 108.

LeBlanc, A. G., Spence, J. C., Carson, V., Connor Gorber, S., Dillman, C., Janssen, I., … & Tremblay, M. S. (2012). Systematic review of sedentary behaviour and health indicators in the early years (aged 0–4 years)Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism37(4), 753-772.

Marsh, S., Mhurchu, C. N., & Maddison, R. (2013). The non-advertising effects of screen-based sedentary activities on acute eating behaviours in children, adolescents, and young adults. A systematic reviewAppetite71, 259-273.

Oliveira, R.Gd., Guedes. D. P. (2016) Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Metabolic Syndrome in Adolescents: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Evidence. PLoS ONE 11(12): e0168503.

Pearson, N., & Biddle, S. J. (2011). Sedentary behavior and dietary intake in children, adolescents, and adults: a systematic reviewAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine41(2), 178-188.

Suchert, V., Hanewinkel, R., & Isensee, B. (2015). Sedentary behavior and indicators of mental health in school-aged children and adolescents: A systematic reviewPreventive Medicine76, 48-57.

Tremblay, M. S., LeBlanc, A. G., Kho, M. E., Saunders, T. J., Larouche, R., Colley, R. C., … & Gorber, S. C. (2011). Systematic review of sedentary behaviour and health indicators in school-aged children and youthInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity8(1), 98.

Van Ekris, E., Altenburg, T. M., Singh, A. S., Proper, K. I., Heymans, M. W., & Chinapaw, M. J. M. (2016). An evidence‐update on the prospective relationship between childhood sedentary behaviour and biomedical health indicators: a systematic review and meta‐analysisObesity Reviews17(9), 833-849.

Wu, X. Y., Han, L. H., Zhang, J. H., Luo, S., Hu, J. W., & Sun, K. (2017). The influence of physical activity, sedentary behavior on health-related quality of life among the general population of children and adolescents: A systematic reviewPloS One12(11), e0187668.

Is it possible to “Just Do It” in ED Recovery?

One of the most difficult parts of eating disorder recovery is taking the initial steps to get well. After all, those steps requiring doing things that are filled with fear and anxiety. As difficult as it may be, there is power in taking those first steps. The more you are able to take action and behaviorally challenge those things that cause fear (e.g. eating, trying challenging foods, wearing clothes that expose body parts), the easier these things become over time. Our brains become rewired to recognize these actions are not as scary as our mind believes in the eating disorder thinking.

However, just doing these things is not so simple! Anxiety can paralyze us and cause great fear.

  • Develop a list of feared/avoided behaviors.
  • Use your support.
  • Work with your treatment team
  • Drive your own bus. You can set your own pace!
  • Practice the art of self-compassion. Have your heard that self-compassion is the new black? Try it!
  • Stay connected with what motivates you.
  • Stay present. Practice mindfulness skills. 

The post Is it possible to “Just Do It” in ED Recovery? appeared first on Mindfullness.

A Much Needed Eating Disorder resource for Metro Detroit Opens with CEDARS!

I have most definitely been slacking at blogging over here at Mindfullness, but I promise there is a good reason! I have been busy building and investing passion, energy and sweat in our newest endeavor, the Center for Eating Disorder Assessment, Recovery & Support, (CEDARS).

CEDARS is a comprehensive boutique eating disorder treatment center offering intensive outpatient (IOP) and comprehensive group therapy as well as therapeutic yoga, art therapy, and intuitive movement. It is the first of it’s kind in southeastern Michigan, and we are thrilled to be offering much needed resources.

Those of you in the trenches of your eating disorder know it is painful and recovery can be hard. As professionals, we are familiar with the challenges the recovery process can bring. We also know recovery is possible (and so worth it!) That is why CEDARS was born- as an opportunity to provide the resources that can assist each individual in the way they need it most and to also provide a community of support and healing.

We hope you will join us and learn more about the services we provide, We would love to have you as you progress in your recovery journey!

The post A Much Needed Eating Disorder resource for Metro Detroit Opens with CEDARS! appeared first on Mindfullness.

How to stop Instagram deaths

“I have no doubt that Instagram helped kill my daughter”.

These are the words of father Ian Russell in the news this week. Ian Russell is the parent of the 14-year-old UK schoolgirl Molly Rose Russell, who recently took her own life. When Molly’s family looked into her Instagram account they found distressing material about depression and suicide.

Molly’s father Ian says he believes Instagram is partly responsible for his daughter’s death.

Suicide Contagion

The case is tragic and Facebook, which owns Instagram, has issued a statement that it “does not allow content that promotes or glorifies self-harm or suicide and will remove content of this kind.” Currently, users can self-police Instagram by tagging posts as inappropriate if they contain self-injury. Yesterday, Facebook pledged to do more on self-harm, in addition to deploying AI technology and running a suicide prevention page.

Is it possible that exposure to online material portraying self-harm or suicidal behaviour could contribute to a distressed individual’s decision to self-harm or take their own life? This was the topic of the subject of my PhD research and thesis.

The answer is almost certainly yes. The phenomenon is known as online ‘suicide contagion’.

Suicide contagion describes the spread of suicide-related behaviour through social networks (online and offline). Evidence suggests that exposure to suicide-related behaviour can facilitate or precipitate similar behaviour in vulnerable individuals already contemplating suicidal behaviour. My own research supports this. As does an increasingly large body of other scientific research.

The effect of exposure to suicide-related behaviour, depending on how it is portrayed, may help normalise or rationalise suicide. This, in turn, may precipitate or facilitate a decision to engage in suicide-related behaviour in distressed individuals contemplating such behaviour. The risk of suicide contagion is believed to be severe and significant, particularly among the young. This has led to the development of guidelines for mitigating and containing the risk of outbreaks of suicide contagion by the WHO, CDC and other bodies. The effect of suicide contagion can be seen in regular spikes in suicide statistics following high profile suicide stories circulating in the media.

So yes, it is possible that Instagram content influences at-risk individuals to self-harm or take their own life. Suicide is already the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds globally. By allowing users to search for suicide-related material on Instagram using (often veiled) hashtag searches, and by suggesting similar accounts to follow, it follows that Instagram could potentially precipitate deliberate self-harm, including suicide.

How to stop Instagram deaths

So what can we do to prevent self-harm and deaths that are possibly facilitated or precipitated by Instagram?

The first ‘option’ as the UK health minister has proposed is to instruct Facebook to remove all self-harm and suicide-related content from its social networks. There are technical, practical, legal and even ethical issues with this. Importantly, the social network can be a valuable source of support for distressed individuals, and flagged posts can alert health professionals to otherwise hidden individuals who are at-risk of self-harm.

A better option, I believe, is to build on work that has already been done to reduce the risk of suicide contagion by the WHO and CDC, and voluntary organisations. This involves a rolling out a systematic education program on how to discuss and portray suicide-related behaviour safely in the media. First designed for media professionals, guidelines have now been drawn up to help young people discuss suicide safely online.

It is called the #chatsafe project

The #chatsafe project is a digital literacy program being pioneered in Australia, in collaboration with Facebook. The goal of this digital literacy initiative is to educate young people on the risks involved with posting or seeing suicide-related content online. If the #chatsafe project became part of a systematic, universal and balanced digital literacy classes in schools, then the risk of Instagram deaths could be reduced.

The problem, however, is that there is little funding for digital literacy`in many schools around the world. Digital literacy is rarely a core component of national curricula, and there has been little investment in developing evidence-based standards or goals for teaching digital wellbeing. In a world where digital technology and media is so central to our lives, this is quite frankly perverse.

Children are taught to cross t’s and dot i’s but not to stay alive.

So here’s the solution. Facebook commits to being taxed on advertising revenue generated in each country, with tax receipts invested by governments in universal, independent, and evidence-based digital literacy classes in all schools, including education on how to discuss self-harm and suicide safely online.

After a trip to the hairdresser’s, I feel refurbished | Hannah Jane Parkinson

They aren’t qualified counsellors, but could legitimately whack those skills on to their CVs

There was a time when I went years without visiting a hairdresser. I know. But I found sitting bang in front of a starkly lit mirror faintly terrifying, and did my best to avoid it. Nobody enjoys confronting cavernous pores or realising that, while you think you are Galadriel, up close the vibe is more Gollum. There is also no silence I can leave unfilled; the stress of coming up with something remotely witty or interesting to say left me in danger of losing hair, rather than having it improved.

I wish I could be one of those people who nails going to the hairdresser: saying nothing for four hours; flicking through Vogue, drooling over unaffordable clothes; relaxing into a head massage. Incidentally, who are the people who say no to the head massage? Would they refuse an oxygen mask on a plane?

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How I accepted I'm an introvert – and learned to refuse invitations without guilt

I whined, feebly. But when I thought about it, I knew that it was true: I absolutely hate talking to folks I don’t understand. I’d rather stumble around lost for hours compared to ask for directions. If I visit a co-worker at work kitchenI turn and wait for them to leave instead of stay and talk. I swerve after-work beverages as a rule, and media events feel just like a complicated kind of torture. Nearly all social interactions are routinely debilitating, and also the only ones which aren’t involve a set of long-standing friends who I maintain about me enjoy that the petulant child-queen of a medieval court.

I had been on holiday in Turkey, seeing a Roman amphitheatre at dusk, when I realised I was an introvert. As sunlight dimmed and cicadas hummed supporting olive trees, even my friends and I chose to have our photo taken. “Here,” I said, thrusting my telephone in a friend. “Will you ask that man around to take a picture of us?” He whined. “You won’t speak to strangers, will you?”

After years of drinking social engagements to make them More Tolerable, I Eventually Confessed my fear of Speaking to strangers and made peace with it

How I accepted I'm an introvert – and learned to refuse invitations without guilt

After years of drinking through social engagements to make them bearable, I finally acknowledged my fear of talking to strangers and made peace with it

I was on holiday in Turkey, visiting a Roman amphitheatre at dusk, when I realised I was an introvert. As the sun dimmed and cicadas hummed behind olive trees, my friends and I decided to have our photo taken. “Here,” I said, thrusting my phone at a friend. “Will you ask that person over there to take a picture of us?” He laughed. “You won’t talk to strangers, will you?”

I protested, feebly. But when I thought about it, I knew it was true: I absolutely hate talking to people I don’t know. I would rather stumble around lost for hours than ask for directions. If I see a co-worker in the office kitchen, I turn and wait for them to leave rather than stay and chat. I swerve after-work drinks as a rule, and networking events feel like a complicated sort of torture. The majority of social interactions are routinely painful, and the only ones that are not involve a set of long-standing friends who I keep about me like the petulant child-queen of a medieval court.

Continue reading…