Articles

The world isn’t made for night owls.

You struggle into work in the dark hours before 10 a.m. — or your morning coffee — and you’re greeted by some chipper person who has already been to the gym and is six items into his to-do list. I used to fantasize about fitting punishments for such morning people, but in the last two years I’ve seen the (morning) light, and I’ve become one of them.Read the entire article on The New York Times

It’s that time of year again.

If you’re one of the roughly 150 million Americans who gets insurance through work, you’re probably going through “open enrollment,” that annual ritual of picking a health insurance plan.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

Let’s Wage a War on Loneliness

LONDON — We humans make a lonely crowd, and it’s killing us.

Social isolation is more lethal than smoking 15 cigarettes a day, or than obesity, according to research published by Julianne Holt-Lunstad of Brigham Young University. Since obesity is associated in the United States with 300,000 to 600,000 deaths a year, the implication is that loneliness is a huge, if silent, killer.Read the entire article on The New York Times

A friend of mine digitally disappeared recently. Dropped all social media. Several others mentioned they might do the same. No doubt you’ve seen similar posts from people you know (and people you don’t) about needing a break from their digital lives.Read the entire article on The New York Times

Can You Teach People How to Love?

How many times have you used the word “love” in the past week? Maybe you were referring to someone’s outfit, ending a phone call, or talking to a romantic partner. Did you really mean it? Did you feel it? Did you mean the same thing each time? The overuse of the word “love” is a major problem, said Cambridge-based therapist and relationship expert Kyle Carney in an interview with the HPR. Ending a call with “I love you” is “quite empty,” Carney explained,  and yet “we seem to have a focus on it in our culture.” Varying definitions as well as overuse of the word love contribute to Americans’ struggles with romantic relationships. We don’t know how to love, when we are in love, or how love transforms over time. Forty to 50 percent of United States marriages end in divorce, with even higher rates for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th marriages. One in four women and one in nine men experience severe intimate partner physical violence. Why are we so bad at something so central to our culture? To solve this challenge, some have proposed a system of love education — teaching Americans, particularly young people, how to love, just as we teach sex education or math.

Read the entire article on Harvard Magazine

My name is Kevin, and I have a phone problem. And if you’re anything like me — and the statistics suggest you probably are, at least where smartphones are concerned — you have one, too.Read the entire article on The New York Times

How to Foster Empathy in Children

As the year’s end approaches, most Americans get bombarded by emailed and snail-mailed requests for donations to all manner of charities, A to Z.

I’m an easy target, a softy readily seduced by impassioned pleas to help improve the well-being of people, animals and the environment, and I often respond to more appeals than my earnings warrant.Read the entire article on The New York Times

How to make friends as an adult

Stay home alone binge-watching Netflix. If you do go out, commune with your phone only. Do not volunteer. Join no groups. Exude an “unavailable” vibe when walking the dog. Or better yet, get an indoor cat. Runners, run solo. Freelancers, skip the coffee shop and work from your kitchen table. Moms and dads, rush from school drop-offs and birthday parties. Adult ed classes should be taken online. If your kids play sports, stand alone on the sidelines, ideally sending e-mails.

And don’t forget to frown!

Or . . . if you want to make friends as an adult, emulate George Costanza in Seinfeld’s “The Opposite” episode and do the opposite of what your instincts are telling you.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

Janna Koretz saw a number of her classmates from Cornell University go on to “big jobs” after they graduated, only to burn out quickly from the intensity of the work. So Koretz, a clinical psychologist, decided to open a practice in Boston that addressed their needs. Nearly six years later, her business, Azimuth Psychological, focuses exclusively on people in high-pressure careers, and she can’t hire therapists fast enough. “It’s just sort of blown up,” she said.

As our jobs become all-consuming, with employees answering e-mails around the clock and companies trying to squeeze higher profits out of fewer people, more attention is being paid to the effect all of this is having on workers’ psyches.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

Are you grateful?

As a physician, I have helped to care for many patients and families whose lives have been turned upside down by serious illnesses and injuries. In the throes of such catastrophes, it can be difficult to find cause for anything but lament. Yet Thanksgiving presents us with an opportunity to develop one of the healthiest, most life-affirming and convivial of all habits — that of counting and rejoicing in our blessings.

Gratitude’s benefitsRead the entire article on The Boston Globe

Let Children Get Bored Again

“I’m bored.” It’s a puny little phrase, yet it has the power to fill parents with a cascade of dread, annoyance and guilt. If someone around here is bored, someone else must have failed to enlighten or enrich or divert. And how can anyone — child or adult — claim boredom when there’s so much that can and should be done? Immediately.

But boredom is something to experience rather than hastily swipe away. And not as some kind of cruel Victorian conditioning, recommended because it’s awful and toughens you up. Despite the lesson most adults learned growing up — boredom is for boring people — boredom is useful. It’s good for you.Read the entire article on The New York Times

If December is the month of self-indulgence, January is the month of self-reproach. Gym memberships and diet programs are part of the traditional response, but so, increasingly, is mindfulness. We are exhorted to improve our health and outlook by growing more intimate with the present.

While many Americans added mindfulness to their portfolios long ago, others are wary. What if it’s boring? How can I tell if I’m doing it right? Will I lose my drive? Does this mean giving up potato chips? Still, beset by technological overload and runaway worries, almost everyone would like to feel more serene. For those who do not know where to begin, a few reading suggestions.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

It wasn’t even noon, but there was Kirsten Blair, in a Hudson News at Logan Airport, trying to fight off the siren call of a 10.7-ounce “sharing” bag of Peanut M&M’s.

“It’s bad,” the usually disciplined eater, a young mother from Fayetteville, N.C., said on a recent day. “I turn into a different person when I fly.”Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

Roll your clothes. Use mesh packing cubes. Tuck socks in shoes. Make a list and edit ruthlessly. Choose a travel palette.

At this point, I’ve read so many “how to pack a suitcase” stories I could recite their lessons in a coma. Slip tissue paper between garments to prevent wrinkling.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

The martyr. The mooch. The whiner. The foodie. The control freak. The peacemaker. The iron fist. The drunk. The obsessed pet owner. The “I ran 10 miles before dawn, what did you do this morning?”

When it comes to the family vacation, everyone has a role.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

The playground is deserted with the exception of my toddler and me. It’s pitch black out and she’s clad in a puffy snowsuit, perched on a swing, under a glowing street lamp. You might guess the whole tableau is playing out at 9 p.m., well past her bedtime. You might question my parenting.

Actually, it’s not even 5 p.m.

These are dark times, specifically in the Northeast, where we are currently experiencing little more than nine hours of daylight in a 24-hour period, according to the National Weather Service.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

Valentine’s Day spending is hyped as a way to show your love.

But one way to truly have a successful, loving relationship is to have frank, regular discussions about your finances. Bare your financial soul to your soulmate.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

All our problems should be so easily solved. In Cambridge, longtime therapist Kyle Carney has nearly foolproof advice for clients who complain that their college-age and adult kids don’t answer texts.

Shhhh. Don’t tell the children, but here’s the trick: Text a picture of the family pet.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

How to tell your boss you need time off for therapy

Anna Swenson has been in therapy for seven years to help her manage her depression and anxiety. But until taking her most recent job six months ago, she’d never discussed it at work. When she had her weekly appointment, she’d sneak out of the office. She worried that in her previous workplaces, people would resent her for taking the time out from a hectic workday. Some, she worried, may even see the appointment as a value judgment on her skills or her sanity.

Swenson isn’t alone in approaching the “T word” with some trepidation. The conversation is hard for people to navigate, in part because the stigmas around mental health force some into silence. Combined with traditional ideas about “ideal workers,” who need little to no support from their employer and work tirelessly for the company, these stereotypes can make the conversation feel even more intimidating.

Deciding to discloseRead the entire article on CNN

It was hard to admit that a mental health crisis had crept up on me, just weeks after one of the happiest days of my life. I told myself that I was exaggerating my own symptoms, that I was just overtired. Many women have it worse, I thought. I could make it work. And yet, even as I was “making it work,” I was pierced by moments of breathtaking sadness. I was underwater before I saw the tide coming in.

I loved my baby more than it was possible to describe. I also had postpartum depression and anxiety. It was hard to square those facts.

Worry was a constant companion. It was especially present at certain times — when hooked up to a pump in the “mother’s room” at the office, typing out work emails while fretting that I was not producing enough milk. At night, I watched the baby asleep in the bassinet next to me, my brain too electrified to sleep. During my commute, I thought about how for nine months she had traveled with me on the train, in me, and how now leaving her felt like having a limb removed, only to be reattached each night when I returned home.Read the entire article on Stat News

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