Don’t leave a phone in your child’s bedroom

Mike the Psych's Blog

talking_with_your_followers_1600_wht_9116Just the presence of a smartphone or device is enough to disturb children’s sleep patterns as they anticipate the possibility of getting a message and can’t relax.

Using devices  at any point in the 90 minutes before bedtime more than doubles the risk of a poor night’s sleep. Even leaving it charging in the corner can have a detrimental effect, possibly because children are subconsciously engaged with them if they know they are within earshot.

Researchers ta Kings College London examined the digital behaviour of 125,000 children across four continents. It’s known from previous studies that around three-quarters of children and adolescents have at least one device in their bedroom at night.

Screen-based media may adversely affect sleep in different ways: psychologically stimulating the brain, delaying or interrupting sleep time, and affecting sleep cycles, physiology and alertness. They effect both the quality and the duration of sleep.

Sleep is undervalued but…

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Lateness is a form of insanity……no it isn’t, it is a sign of lack of respect!

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

DSC_0043.jpgPeople who are constantly late may be suffering from a form of insanity, a science writer has claimed. Those who are chronically tardy to engagements struggle with how they view time and may have a ‘bizarre compulsion to defeat themselves’ by making plans that they know they cannot keep, according Tim Urban. And he has even created an acronym to describe those people he believes are suffering from the lateness compulsion: Clips, or chronically late insane people.

Being annoyed by a chronically late friend is a common grumble, but one scientist has claimed that those who are never on times for engagements could actually be suffering from a form of insanity.

The science writer claims there are three reasons why Clips are late so often: some are in denial about how time works, some ‘have an aversion to changing circumstances’ and some individuals are ‘mad’ at themselves.

While most…

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Girls’ desire to be perfect leads to eating disorders

stick_woman_gymnastics_1600_wht_12994So-called “Perfect Girl Syndrome” is leading to high-achieveing girls suffering eating disorders as they strive to be perfectly underweight (whatever that means) according toNHS  psychiatrists.

Over the last decade the number of 14-year olds with eating disorders admitted to hospital has more than quadrupled to 336 with a similar number of 15-year olds in 2014, three times the number in 20014.

The TimesTime to Mind” child mental health campaign is calling for greater investment in services which already have long waiting lists.

According to D Caz Nahman at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, “hard-working and persistent” girls were most at risk. “We believe the characteristics  that create a high-achieving pupil or athlete predispose to an eating disorder, and there is also something about a semi-starved brain that leads to high levels of focusing on details and increased perfectionism“.


My most popular posts in 2014

100%Once again those kind people at WordPress provide me with all kinds of statistics about my blog. 

Last year I published 168 new posts all with at least one picture on this blog. Not all my own work to be sure so thanks to those wonderful bloggers whose posts I re-blogged.

This blog is followed in 96 countries, mostly in the UK, the USA, Spain and the Philippines but with a small number of readers from African nations including Ethiopia, Qatar, and Iceland.

My ten most popular posts in 2014 were:

  1. Do you have a technical mind – top for the second year running and first published in January 2013
  2. Health predictors? Use your tape measure – published in May 2013
  3. Tough Mudder 2014 in Yorkshire – published in August 2014
  4. Everybody’s walking – published in September 2014
  5. Simple tests to predict your life expectancy – published in May 2014
  6. Dementia sufferers told to live dangerously – published in July 2014
  7. Don’t stress about Xmas – published in December 2014 but updated from 2011
  8. Burnley FC dreams become a harsh reality – published in August 2014
  9. Fun with screen printing – second favourite last year and first published in August 2013
  10. Scottish children laziest in the world – published in May 2014 jointly with Glasgow visit for Foodies – joint 10th place and reblogged from KindaDukish in May 2014

So thank you for reading and following and I look forward to another year of finding interesting and relevant topics for you.

The posts you liked in 2013

A real Christmas Tree can make a difference

christmas_tree_pc_1600_wht_4260Having a real Christmas Tree can be good for our mental health.

Environmental Psychologist Birgitta Gatersleben, from the University of Surrey, says being near a real tree helps people to cope better with stress or mental fatigue.

She has studied the benefits of natural environments on well-being and tested how exposure to plants and trees can hasten recovery from stress and mental tiredness.

In her most recent paper she says “Perhaps evergreen Christmas decorations also have a positive effect on our health and well-being without us being aware of it. Perhaps surrounding ourselves with such signs of life subconsciously improves our moods and reduces stress”.

She believes that the smell is the key as it evokes nature and its associations with health.

There is nothing new in this belief as people have decorated their homes with evergreens such as holly, ivy, and laurel for centuries. When we put up our tree, or hang mistletoe for kisses, we are drawing from folk traditions handed down from the early Druids, Romans and Christians?

The Christmas tree might be the best known form of greenery, but is a relatively recent addition to the decorative tradition, possibly introduced into Britain in the 1840s by Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert from German tradition.

In any event the ancients thought of evergreens as the symbol of life since it was always green, even  in the depths of winter.

Research has also shown that working within sight of greenery, trees and parks, makes you feel better at work and nature walks in groups has been recognised as a good way to treat depression by the NHS

So it does seem that being close to nature is good for your well-being and especially your mental health. And going back to Gatersleben’s point about smells, aromatherapists believe pine essential oils have a number of health benefits

How do you stop the ageing process?

elderly_man_holding_a_custom_text_sign_12871Forget the magic potions and snake oil. Start walking, stop eating puddings, stop eating full stop, that will work!

Fancy a nap? Then have one. Men don’t dye your grey hair it looks worse than having grey hair. Compare the new-look Tom Jones and Macca if you don’t agree.

Buy decent clothes. Nothing worse than an old geezer in rubbish clothes (and I include trainers in that category from bitter personal experience).

These are just a few of the ideas in the Times2 section today written by Matthew Parris with my own thoughts added.

The full article gives a great long list of things to do suggested by the Times team of experts and here are most of them with my own comments added here and there:

  • Get out of your comfort zone and do something different
  • Stop worrying about your status in society and comparing yourself with other people. Status anxiety just makes us unhappy
  • Learn something new every day. Apparently the Queen does this and a fat lot of good that has done Prince Charles
  • Get a pet. It reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and stress levels and is particularly useful if you have had a heart attack
  • Be an optimist and look forward to things. I’m looking forward to having a holiday again one day
  • Stop making lists and JUST DO IT
  • Eat less but eat better
  • Pay off debts
  • Get married and you’ll live longer. Certainly good for men
  • Wear comfortable shoes as soon in life as you can. I love my Clarke’s shoes and Geox trainers. Uncomfortable shoes lead to inflammation which impacts on everything from heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s
  • Walk if you can, use the stairs, lift weights . This improves your memory as well as your stamina NB you lose 1lb of muscle weight a year from age 50
  • T-shirts not a good idea if you have a paunch, better a tailored shirt
  • Get enough vitamin D i.e. get some sun on your back and avoid dementia
  • Have more sex. Only way to age-proof your sex-life is to keep having one.
  • Listen to boy bands. I know it’s hard to believe but apparently listening to Westlife’s “Safe”, One Direction’s “Midnight Memories“, Blue’s “All Rise” and Take That’s “When we were Young” is recommended for their invigorating bounciness and the way the lyrics speak to the older generation.  I suppose they’re a bit more positive than the lyrics to “My Generation” by The Who!

Soft Southerners?

stick_figure_sitting_on_pills_1600_wht_13337According to an Atlas of Mental Health created by CentreForum think tank people living in the South of England re more likely to say they are unhappy despite having lower levels of mental illness including depression.

People living in London Bedford, Milton Keynes, Brighton, and parts of Kent claim to be the unhappiest in the country – yet they have some of the lowest levels of diagnosed mental health problems.

Five of Britain’s unhappiest 20 places were in London including the borough of Barking and Dagenham which came in the top five on two measures of unhappiness and yet had the 23rd lowest level of mental health problems.

In the league table of areas with the highest long-term mental health problems only Brighton & Hove (which came 3rd in the table) and Nottingham (7th) were outside the North and North West.  The other worst areas in descending order were: Middlesborough, Blackpool, Manchester, Stockton on Tees, Knowsley, Nottingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, and Salford

Northern areas tend to receive less support for mental health issues and in some areas people are 4 times more likely to die from a mental health problem.

Poor mental health often leads to a poor diet, heavy drinking and smoking, all of which can lead to cancer or heart disease.

One in six adults suffers from mental illness such as depression or anxiety at some time in their lives.


My most popular posts in 2013

pencil_draw_checkmark_yellow_clipboard_1600_wht_3271Those kind people at WordPress provide all kinds of statistics about blogs. For example April 29th 2013 was my busiest day last year with the picture of the sheep among the hits.

Last year I published 234 new posts and 198 pictures on this blog; not all my own work to be sure so thanks to those wonderful bloggers whose posts I re-blogged.

My blog is followed in 94 countries but mostly in the UK, the USA, and Spain.

My five most popular posts last year, in reverse order, were:

5th: Living apart, the thoroughly modern couple

4th: Middle-born children do best

3rd: The Urn in Ramsbottom

2nd: Fun with screen printing

1st: Do you have a technical mind?

So thank you for reading and following and I look forward to another year of finding interesting and relevant topics for you.

The posts you liked in 2012

Latest on things to do before you die?

stick_figure_drawing_four_check_marks_nonlooping_500_wht_6582Many people over-50 dream of globetrotting but worry they’ve left it too late.

The latest fear apparently is that you won’t have time to write your memoirs.

A recent survey found that 1 in 8 of us dreams of putting our life story onto paper.

A third still have conventional dreams of seeing their kids get married or having grandchildren but 1 in 3 also want to travel.

Other ambitions include a thirst for knowledge and 13% wanting to learn a new language.

Men were more likely to want to play an instrument or learn to fly or sail.

A fifth wanted thrill seeking experiences like swimming with sharks or sky-diving.

Boringly the top ambition was to lose weight with a fifth of men and a third of women wanting to be slimmer.

And the bottom line for half of those surveyed by Populus said they didn’t have the money and if they did have it they didn’t think they’d find the time.

So this is not an exhaustive bucket list but what seems to me to be reasonable aspirations. So my suggestions are:

Apart from the fun you’ll have they’re all things that will keep you mentally and physically active longer.

The family that eats together makes children happier

stick_figure_watching_tv_pc_1600_wht_3837Although I’ve just posted about children having too sedentary a life-style one area where the government would like us to sit down more is to have a family meal together.

Public Health England says children are becoming anxious and unhappy because of lack of exercise, a poor diet and too much TV-watching.

The Director of Health and Well-being said there was ” a consistent association between behaviour and the impact on well-being”. The dangers for inactive children are both physical and mental.

The British Heart Foundation has gone so far as to warn that this generation of children might die before their parents because of inactivity and poor diet.

There are also links between inactivity and mental and social problems.  Activity is associated with better concentration levels , more positive social behaviours such as being kind to classmates, and higher self-esteem.

The more time children spend in front of a TV screen the more prone they are to experiencing social and emotional problems and low self-esteem.

Long hours watching TV or playing computer games “is associated with reduced feelings of social acceptance and increased feelings of loneliness, conduct problems and aggression”. Most of our 11-year old children watch more TV than in other European countries.

The recommendations, timed to coincide with the start of the new school year, has led to accusations of the government adopting a granny state approach. One website for Mums said it would be better if the government gave practical advice rather than being a parental authority.

We all want the best for our kids –  including wanting them to be happy and healthy – but some people need to be told!