<![CDATA[Real Talk with Dr. Offutt, a Teen Health Resource. Providing answers, not judgment. - Miscellaneous Thoughts for Teens about Health]]>Mon, 19 Mar 2018 16:06:48 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[It's The New Year - What to leave in 2017, and What to look for in 2018]]>Mon, 01 Jan 2018 19:14:35 GMThttp://realtalkwithdroffutt.org/miscellaneous-thoughts-for-teens-about-health/its-the-new-year-what-to-leave-in-2017-and-what-to-look-for-in-2018Happy New Year!
The start of a new year always makes me think about what was good about last year, and what I would like to leave behind.  And it gets me excited about a brand new shiny year ahead full of possibilities and unknown adventures!  I am not such a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, because as my teen said to me last night, “Why do resolutions happen only at the New Year?  I mean, maybe if February I think of something I want to tackle?”  She’s got a good point, and tons of people make Resolutions every New Year only to give up a week or two later.

One of our traditions on New Year’s Eve is that at midnight we float messages about what we want to leave in the old year and what our wishes are for the new one.  Not really resolutions, necessarily, but a nice way to let go of stuff that is dragging you down.  Today seemed like a good day to share some ideas about things to keep and things to let go of as 2018 gets under way.  Maybe one or two of these will inspire you!   
Practice Gratitude
Starting each day thinking about 3 things you are thankful for, or pausing when you feel negativity and stress ratcheting up, can really shift your mindset.  I recently read that there is actual evidence that you cannot feel thankful (truly thankful) and stressed at the same time.  Life is short and full of good things, but often we let the more negative things eclipse the bright spots.  So, what types of things?  Maybe you’re just thankful you survived a hard test, or that you have a dog that loves you, or that you have one incredible friend that you know you can go to for anything.

​Read More
For me, I am hoping to read one book a month.  I hope that peels me away from those screens that are so hard for us to look away from!  Right now I am in the middle of this book:  So I guess I have a head-start for January!

Say Yes More.
I love this one.  My son made a point of doing this a few years ago because he realized that he was missing out on new experiences / people / foods / ideas that he might actually like.  Often we have a knee-jerk reaction that we assume we won’t like something new.  Maybe we won’t, but the flip side is worth taking that risk!

Don’t Just Stand By
This can mean different things to different people.  A few examples – if you see someone being bullied at school, don’t stand by and do nothing.  Even just saying “Hey, that’s not cool” can go a long way to stopping bullying in your school.  A lot of research has been done about effective anti-bullying tactics, and some of the most effective is when students don’t stand by when they see bullying happen.  What about cyber-bullying?  If you see it, you can call it out or unfriend the bully.  Or you can block them from your social media or phone.  This year, block anyone that bullies you online and encourage your friends to do the same.   Bullying not an issue?  If there is a cause that you feel isn’t being addressed, speak up!  Propose a solution!  Make your voice heard!  This can be at school or in your community.  Old enough to vote?  Register to vote and make sure to vote in every 2018 election you can.  We have seen a lot of elections determined by a single vote.

Be Kind To Yourself
We all get frustrated with ourselves sometimes, but often we treat ourselves more harshly than we would a friend who made the same mistake or failed at a similar challenge.  When you feel really negative on yourself make a point to change how you “talk” to yourself from these negative thoughts (“I am so fat” or “I hate myself” or “How can I be so stupid?” or “I will never get in to college with a C on that test”, etc”) to how you would talk to a friend (“Beauty is not related to a size – let’s get some exercise; it will make us feel better” or “Hey, you may hate that you did this/that/or the other thing but you don’t hate yourself!” or “OK, that was a mistake, but learn from it and move on” or “It’s one grade, and there are a million colleges out there.  Happiness isn’t related to getting into any specific college!”, etc.)

Quit Toxic Friendships
Simply put, friendships should make you happier on more days than they make you sad.  All friends disagree or might hurt your feelings at one time or another.  But, if you have a “friend” that makes you feel bad about yourself, or feel like they are doing you a favor being your “Friend” or that always makes time for other people and not you, let them go.   If you have a friend that is important to you and they hurt your feelings, or you messed up, TALK to them!  A good conversation clears up misunderstandings and adds strength to a friendship.  And by TALK, I mean call them or talk face to face.  No texting doesn’t count!  You need to read their face to understand their emotions (and vice versa), and you don’t want secret screen shots of your conversation to be a worry.  Yes, you will be nervous, but yes, it will be worth it.

Treat Your Body With Love
Short version:  Move each day.   Give your body the nutrients it needs.  Get enough (but not too much) sleep.  You will feel better.  Promise.
Long version:  Pouring poison into your body (drugs, alcohol, junk food) isn’t showing that body of yours any love!  Sitting around fiddling with your phone or watching YouTube every spare minute isn’t showing your body love.  There is a time for treats and a time for blobbing around.  But keep those things special!  Not regular occurrences.  You will enjoy them more when you do have them, but every other day, your body will hum along feeling better – better sleep, more energy, stronger muscles, better skin, better moods, better stress management.

It’s Not Always About You
One of the best things we can all do is to realize that often other people’s moods and reactions actually have little to do with us – if it even has anything at all to do with us.  What do I mean exactly? 

Consider this:
You are walking down the hall at school and a friend looks at you and then looks away as they walk by.
  • 2017 You: OMG!  How rude.  Did I offend them?  Do they still like me?   Are we still friends?
  • 2018 You: Huh, that’s weird.  Maybe they have something on their mind.  I know they are stressed about midterms.

Or this:
You Snap your significant other.  You see they opened it.  But nothing.  No reply.  Silence. 
  • 2017 You:  OMG what is going on?  They must hate me!  Are they hanging out with their friends?  Why aren’t they replying?  Seriously, it has been like 15 minutes.
  • 2018 You:  (no reaction).  Oh, they must be doing homework or having dinner with their family.  Or their mother told them to PUT DOWN THAT PHONE (I know, it happens). Or at practice.  Or their battery might have died.   Or they are trying to think up something super cute to reply with.
Or this:
Teammate rude at practice?  Maybe it has nothing to do with you.  Maybe they had a bad day, got in a fight with their parents, hurt themselves, failed a test.

You get the idea.  Teens have a lot of stuff going on.  Very often, none of it has anything to do with you.  So don’t assume the worst and stress yourself out.  And, no, not everyone is going to like you.  But, as an old friend of mine told me, she realized long ago that she was okay with that, since there were a lot of people she didn’t like either!  It’s all about chemistry and common interests, not about your value as a person.

Be a Role Model
One last thought – someone out there looks up to you or looks to you as an example.  Maybe that is an underclassman, or a little sister, or a JV teammate.  It could just be someone that knows who you are at school and admires you for one of your gifts or characteristics.  So, knowing that, act like the role model you are.  Or, as I say, “Lead by Example”.  We all know positive role models > negative ones, and someone out there looks up to you and you may not even be aware!!!
With that, go into 2018 and have a great year.  It will have happy days and sad days, fun days and totally un-fun days.  But make it your own.  I am here with you to help you make it better.

Happy New Year!

Dr. O  

<![CDATA[Breaking News!  Thanksgiving Improves Teen Health!]]>Mon, 20 Nov 2017 05:00:00 GMThttp://realtalkwithdroffutt.org/miscellaneous-thoughts-for-teens-about-health/breaking-news-thanksgiving-improves-teen-health
photo courtesy of martha_chapa95
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Hard to believe we are now officially into the Holiday Season of 2017.  Of course, for many of us, that started with Halloween!  In honor of Thanksgiving, you should know 3 ways that Thanksgiving makes teens like you healthier!  
1.  TIME OFF!  
Yes, finally you get a break.  To catch up on sleep and relax.  To have some down time.  To recuperate from exams or a stressful first quarter of the year.  Taking a break is important.  Sleep is important.  Having time to do fun things is important.  Having time to spend with family and (or?) friends, yes, important.  Having time to get outdoors and exercise IMPORTANT!  All of these things improve your mental health as well as your physical health.  Enjoy!

Yes, this is a holiday all about giving thanks for all the good things in our lives.  Yes, there are bad things too, but all lives have good things as well.  And there are scientific data in teens about the relationship between having gratitude in your life and improved health!  How, exactly, you may ask?  Well, teens who kept a Gratitude Journal rather than a Hassle Journal were found to have a better sense of well-being and optimism and stronger social connections.  And more than that – in these teens, those with a focus on gratitude daily, had fewer physical symptoms (not related to medical conditions) like dizziness, stomach aches, feeling queasy, runny nose, etc). 

3.  Thanksgiving food is good for you!  
Yes, I am serious!  Turkey – a great source of lean protein and folic acid.  Cranberries – fiber, Vitamin C.  Sweet potatoes – a whole host of vitamins (A, B5, B6, etc) and fiber.  Pumpkin – fiber, vitamin A.  You get the idea.  And, one day of feasting is not going to damage you forever.  Just get back to normal the day after!  

So, there’s some food for thought for you this Thanksgiving.  I think I will start my Gratitude Journal right now:

I am thankful for my family and good friends, for my health, and for my work and for all the wonderful teens and adults who have helped me with Real Talk with Dr. Offutt since we started.  And that’s just a start!

What about you?

<![CDATA[Halloween Safety – It’s Not Just for Kids!  In Other Words, Better to BE Spooky, Than to GET Spooked]]>Mon, 23 Oct 2017 04:00:00 GMThttp://realtalkwithdroffutt.org/miscellaneous-thoughts-for-teens-about-health/halloween-safety-its-not-just-for-kids-in-other-words-better-to-be-spooky-than-to-get-spooked
Halloween is coming up pretty quickly!   And often the celebrating begins on the closest weekend.  While you make your plans with your costume and what you are going to do and where you are going to go, take a minute to make sure you have thought about my Top 10 things to remember Halloween Night.

10:  It’s all about that bass, I mean Costume.  Make sure you can move in it.  Like you can run if you need to.  Make sure you can be seen, especially by drivers who are distracted (or even worse, drunk).  That means avoid all black costumes outside in the dark night unless you have something with you to make you visible (flashlight, glow sticks, etc).

9:   More about drunk drivers:  Watch out for them.  And don’t be one.  Drunk driving is a thing on Halloween now.  As bad, and sometimes worse than on New Year’s Eve.  Pay attention to where you are walking and don’t dart suddenly in front of cars.  You won’t believe this, but more pedestrians between the ages of 12 and 18 get killed by cars on Halloween than on any other night of the year.  And 1/5 of those deaths are caused by drunk drivers.

8:  Stick with your friends.  Spooky (and not in a good way) people are more likely to mess with you if you are alone.  Keep an eye out for your friends too.  If a friend is drunk and unsafe, get him or  her to a safe place.
PicturePhoto by J.D. Hancock
7:  Glow sticks, etc:  These are cool and solve the problems in #10 and #9 by making you visible without messing up your costume.  But don’t chew on them.  They can make you vomit, even if what is in them is mostly non-toxic. 

I mean, who wants to vomit on Halloween?

6:  Dry ice can be spooky:  In a good way, but also in a bad way.  If there is some around as part of Halloween decorations or at a party, don’t touch it with your bare skin!  It can burn you and cause really bad skin peeling.  And, if you get the brilliant idea to have dry ice in a drink, don’t!  Don’t drink it since you can burn your insides (and yes, those can peel too!).  Some places do have “Food-grade” dry ice, but you will never know for sure, so a better rule of thumb is make sure you don’t swallow any dry ice.  Ever.
5:  Wise witches watch where they are going:  Pay attention when you are behind the wheel.  And don’t distract your friends if they are driving.  Remember, small kids are everywhere on Halloween, and they run out into the street without looking.  Keep an eye on the road and watch out for those cute little ghosts and goblins.  You don’t want to hit them.  

And like we talked about in #9, more kids get killed by cars on Halloween than any other day of the year.

4:  Practice Safe Halloween:  Carry with you cash and a charged cell phone.  And also, some phone numbers for local taxis if you think you might need a ride somewhere or need a way to get home safely.
3:  Watch those mysterious potions:  If you’re at a party, pour your own drinks and keep them with you.  If you lose your drink, just get a new one.  Don’t let someone you don’t know bring you a drink (this can be tricky with masks, so you might want to stick with just serving yourselves).  If you find a lost drink, don’t drink it.  Seriously, you want to know what’s in it.  There are drugs that can dissolve completely in drinks and have no taste or smell that can make you pass out.  And then you are not in control of what happens to you or is done to you after that.

2:  Watch those not so mysterious potions too….:  So even if you pour your own drinks, you might be opting to pour alcoholic ones.  Now, I’m not supporting that, but you are making your own choices here.  And I always want teens to know that alcohol poisoning is a problem.  And being drunk (or high or whatever) will make your judgment take a vacation.  So you might run out in front of cars yourselves, or wander off with some cute stranger, or decide you want to try to fly your own broomstick off a roof.  Seriously, make sure you are in control of yourself.  And keep an eye out for your friends.  Remember #8!

ANNNNDDDDD, Numero Uno: Trust your spidey-sense:  Seriously, listen to your instincts.  If something is weirdly creepy or making you uncomfortable or someone is really spooky and scary, trust your gut and get to a safe place with safe people.
<![CDATA[Survivors of Sexual Assault:  I Believe You]]>Mon, 23 Oct 2017 04:00:00 GMThttp://realtalkwithdroffutt.org/miscellaneous-thoughts-for-teens-about-health/survivors-of-sexual-assault-i-believe-youAbout a year ago I heard the incredible Annie Clark, author of “We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out” and co-founder of the non-profit End Rape on Campus, speak.  Since then stories of sexual assault and harassment have filled the news stream which shines a  bright spotlight on a piece of our culture that make a small subset of men feel entitled to assault women (or others).  The incredible social media outpouring of support and solidarity with the #metoo campaign really highlights the magnitude of this problem.    For college students, we are at the midpoint in time between college freshman orientation and Thanksgiving Break.  These few months, often referred to as the Red Zone, are notorious for the highest risk for sexual assaults on campus.   It is believed that 50% of sexual assaults on campuses occur during these months. 

Now I want to make a few general statements here:
  • The majority of men do not assault others.  The majority of men, young and old, are appalled that sexual assault exists and do not support those who assault people.
  • Young women who like sex are not “bad girls” or “sluts”.
  • Revealing clothes are not an invitation; they are a fashion preference.
  • Young men who “convince” another person to do something sexual that they do not want to, are not manly.
  • Men can “control themselves” if they see someone in revealing clothes.  They are not passively subjected to the demands of their hormones.  Treating them this way is an insult to them.
  • Sexual assault is not sex.  It is an act of violence.  It is not “boys being boys”.  It is not “girls asking for it”. 
  • Some people like sex; some people do not like sex; everyone who is ready for sex has gotten to that point at a different time in their lives.  This is the crux of why you need to know for sure that your partner wants sex before you go there.  Otherwise, you are assaulting that person.

Some people think that a video clip here or an audio recording there shows an unusual event or occurrence.  But I really believe what we are seeing these days (especially during this election campaign) is a bright spotlight exposing what happens to many girls, women and others every day.  The analogy for me is that cyber-bullying has been shown to occur at the same rates and by the same people that do regular old-fashioned bullying.  But seeing it in the bright light of the internet really exposes it for the harm that bullying can cause.

I am so fortunate not to ever have been subjected to assault, but I can tell you that I just one woman, and for most of my life I have been subjected to inappropriate and unwanted interactions.
For instance:
  • At 15, a friend’s step-dad tried to kiss me (I had never even had a real kiss by that age!)
  • At 18 in college, I was helping a friend deal with what I now realize was her PTSD from being raped in high school.
  • At 20, a PhD and a supervisor for a summer internship in a lab, grabbed me and tried to “kiss” me and physically held me back when I was trying to get out of his car after he gave me a ride to my student housing at the end of a work evening dinner.  I was counting on him for my recommendation for medical school and I was terrified what it would say.  My college counselor reassured me that “this happens all the time” and that she would check the recommendation to make sure it was appropriate.   
  • At 28 or 29, in residency, one of my married attendings (what we call our supervising, teaching physicians) made a big pass at me that I declined but then he leered at me for weeks after that.  He knew I was married too.
  • As a mature adult with 2 kids, during a business trip a colleague rearranged assigned seating to allow himself to “invade my personal space at dinner” (Biggest. Understatement. Ever.).  Another on that same business trip was joking with me that I must have been a pole dancer before medical school.  I laughed along.  Not because it was funny, but because, what could I do?!  I was thousands of miles away from home.  Fortunately, I had a male friend that looked out for me the rest of the trip since honestly I was not feeling comfortable walking to my room alone.

Okay, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but rather a few examples of what women face every day.   I personally don’t even think I’ve had it that bad!

So what words of wisdom do I have?  
  • First of all, let us not stand passively by when a few entitled people continue to assault and threaten others.   A single person who is left unchecked can repeat their crime again and again.  In general, rapists are repeat offenders.
  • Be aware that:
Getting a mixed message is not an excuse for assault.  If you think someone likes you “in that way” and they happen to be drunk or otherwise impaired, and they do in fact like you “in that way”, they will still like you “in that way” in 12 hours when they are sober and rested.  And if you think you are old enough to have sex, you are old enough to wait 12 hours to make sure your potential partner is definitely into whatever it is you had in mind.
  • Have a buddy system.
  • Watch your drinks – never leave them out of your sight.
  • Don’t allow jokes about rape and assault to be accepted.  That is simply crossing a line and a way to try to normalize this criminal behavior.
  • If you see someone at a party that looks like they are really drunk, and another person looks like they are trying to persuade them to go upstairs, or whatever – intervene – just ask, “Are you OK?  Do you know where you are?” 
Any other ideas or suggestions?  Share them in the comments below.
Each generation helps our society continue to evolve and improve.  Let’s keep moving the right direction.
<![CDATA[Stroke: My Story.  According to Guest Teen Blogger, G.]]>Thu, 10 Aug 2017 18:34:20 GMThttp://realtalkwithdroffutt.org/miscellaneous-thoughts-for-teens-about-health/stroke-my-story-according-to-guest-teen-blogger-g​Wheel of Fortune shows characterized my weekday nights, bringing laughter and competitive spirits in the living room. Since watching the show for many years, I’ve grown accustomed to the medication ads that flashed by the screen every intermission. I always watched them with a mindless view, detached from purpose and anxiously waiting to return to my favorite show. I can’t say that is the same now.  

Last November marked the end of a fantasized life and begun an era of calculated importance. My dad suffered from a massive hemorrhage and required emergency surgery. Unfortunately, my family’s ignorance on the severity of the issue potentially worsened what could have been a slightly more manageable issue. It was a traumatizing event for all of us.  

I remember boarding ambulances and a helicopter that day, still unable to process what life was presenting to me in the moment. At the final hospital, the doctors told me that surgery was inevitable. Death was the only other option. 

Hearing those words snapped me back to reality. My mom and I patiently waited while they operated. We couldn’t speak a word to each other except the occasional “it’ll be okay”.  6 hours later the doctors returned. At this point, my mom and I were mentally and physically exhausted; we just wanted an affirmative answer.   Surgery was successful. That night we returned home by train. My dad was still unconscious and the doctors told us there was no point in waiting.  

We couldn’t sleep that night. My mom and I called friends who had heard the news throughout the day, trying to comfort them even though we weren’t quite comforted ourselves. We reached out to my dad’s workplace and his co workers. Many calls later, we ended our agenda for the day.  

My mom and I reached the decision early on that I would be taking a few days off from school until my dad’s condition becomes more stable. We agreed to let my brother attend school in the meanwhile.   The next day, we woke up with heavy hearts. Our gracious friend spent the night finding public transportation routes and joined us on our way to the hospital.  

A few hours later, my dad regained consciousness for the first time post-surgery.  
​I keep this story on the rather shorter side because it still remains as a painful memory for me. As a teenager in the midst of her junior year, I was overwhelmed with schoolwork and had to take on a new role outside of the academic atmosphere. I tried to keep my bubbly personality alive in school, but I couldn’t help but feel dejected for the first few months after the surgery. Life moved on, yet I wanted it to stay at a standstill for the time being.  

Now looking back on the event months later, I still remember the day with extreme clarity. It was the first time I realized I really might lose someone I love this early in my life. Everyone passes away at one point in their life but no one expected my 49 year old dad to reach death’s gates that early. 

This “experience” has also taught me to be more mindful of my body as well. As youthful as I may be, my long-term habits that I develop now may affect my health as I reach an older age. In the following months after the surgery, my whole family went on a low-sodium diet together with my dad to lower his blood pressure. We cut back on processed foods and opted for more wholesome fruits and vegetables.  

Our Wheel of Fortune nights have resumed to its original excitement in recent days. I always used to wonder why there were so many medication ads, especially in between a family-friendly game show. Now they hold a special connection with my family.  
Thank you for listening to my story. If you or a loved one is going through a similar time like I did, I send all my wishes to your family. It’s a truly tough time, and staying strong during something as emotionally burdensome is commendable on your part. Find a support system. Your family and friends are there to help you. Ask for help. Tell your teachers. They will understand. And most importantly, trust yourself. You will get through this. Best of luck.  

Dr. O adds:
G.,  thank you for sharing your personal story.  Unfortunately, teens have to go through difficult situations like many adults do, but having a sick parent is something no young person anticipates.  It is hard enough to balance academics, physical development, social situations and planning your future without the additional stress from the uncertainty that having a sick parent brings.  Your words will let others going through similar stressors know they are not alone, and that they should not be shy about reaching out for support.

There are many different types of strokes.  A stroke is what happens when blood supply gets cut off to part of the brain.  This can happen because there is a blockage (like the same kind of blockage that happens in your heart with too much fat and cholesterol in your diet), from a clot that forms or travels to a brain blood vessel, from the long-term effects of high blood pressure that damages blood vessels all over your body, or from bleeding that happens in the brain from an aneurysm or other problem.  G. is right that taking care of yourself now as a teen, by eating junk food (fat, sugar, salt) in moderation as a treat, rather than as a steady diet, can decrease your risk later in life.  You may not think “later in life” is so very far away, but believe me, it isn’t!
<![CDATA[Emma shares her tips to manage Social Media and Technology Stress]]>Mon, 23 Jan 2017 15:54:43 GMThttp://realtalkwithdroffutt.org/miscellaneous-thoughts-for-teens-about-health/emma-shares-her-tips-to-manage-social-media-and-technology-stress
In honor of Pennsylvania Teen Health Week this year, a Pennsylvania teen put together a video where she shares her tips to keep technology and social media from taking over your life.  I mean, we all know the internet and social media has a lot of good stuff about it, but we all need to be careful we don't let it take over all our time or let it stress us out!  Wise words from Emma:
<![CDATA[Processing the election results, and how to get back to hope.]]>Thu, 10 Nov 2016 15:18:34 GMThttp://realtalkwithdroffutt.org/miscellaneous-thoughts-for-teens-about-health/processing-the-election-results-and-how-to-get-back-to-hopeMood
There has been much written over the past 24 hours about the election of 2016.  I am still at the stage of processing what has happened.  I am not going to lie – I am deeply disappointed in the results.  But I know we need to move from sadness and upset to hope and continued progress.  Teens like you, in particular, are upset by these results, since it is often your generation that drives forward progress and acceptance and change, especially regarding LGBTQ issues, racial discrimination, gender equality, climate issues and more.   
At my daughter’s high school yesterday, there was an announcement acknowledging that as many students are probably upset by the results as are happy, and that disagreement and different views are fine.  But what is not fine is being disrespectful of each other.  I think that is a great message and something we all need to remember.
I do know that the election results have triggered a whole host of sad and dangerous reactions.  If you feel suicidal or triggered, remember there is always (24/7) the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273- TALK or you can live chat here:  http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/
Now I know you may be feeling anger.  That is ok.  Often we are told anger is a bad feeling, but that is not true.  Anger is a feeling, and no feeling is a bad feeling.  We need to channel that anger into healthy outlets and productive action.  Destructive acts represent neither of those things.  Peacefully protesting discrimination and violence and ideals with which you do not agree is good.  Violently protesting an individual or group of individuals is not.  Taking a kickboxing class to take the edge off is good.  Punching another human or throwing bricks through a  window is not good.
Next thing I want to do is to reassure you.  Most people do not share the awful views that have gotten so much attention these recent months.  I have to believe that this is even true of most of the people who voted for our president elect.  This is not what Americans are about.  There are people, to be sure, that do have these views, but we do not have to accept them or stand idly by when others are oppressed or harassed or treated without the respect they deserve.  We, as a country, have been in this situation before and have come out the other side.  This is not something you are not old enough to have seen in your own lifetimes, but this is one place you can trust the older adult generation since we have.

So what can you do to move from 


to here:

Stand up against bullying in your schools and communities.  Much of what we have seen (and what we are witnessing now) is adults bullying other adults.  Young people do not need to follow that example.  You are the future and can shape the now by example.  So much talk and so many initiatives are in place to decrease bullying by youth, but you know what works the best?  When students speak up when they see another student being bullied.  Simple things like “That’s not cool”.   Be kind to students that are bullied – sit with them at lunch or on the bus.  Let them know they aren’t alone.  Tell a trusted teacher or adult.  For more ways you can help:  https://www.stopbullying.gov/kids/what-you-can-do/
Limit your social media consumption for a while and be really critical of what you read online (I say that all the time about health info, and this is no different!).  One of the big lessons this election has taught us all, is that misinformation (aka lies) can be spread quickly online.   It’s true for cyber-bullying and it’s true for “news”.   Don't spend a lot of time consuming bad news - that is not good for your mental health nor for your mood.  You can set aside 10 minutes each day to catch up on news, but don't keep checking your social media feed all day long for more bad news.  Don’t share information that you aren't sure is accurate.  Don’t retweet or repost negative information.  Here’s an interesting fact – do you know that a negative tweet is 2.5 times (yes more than twice as likely) to get retweeted than a positive one?  Which gets me to my next suggestion:
Let’s change the flavor of social media right now by sharing positive stories.  I myself see so many sad and negative stories about discrimination and hate and violence and suicide and other awful things after this election.  We need to address those problems certainly.  But let’s share positive stories too – like when we see one kid standing up for another.  Or when people volunteer to help others.  Or when a student starts a new club at school to address a social need.  Let’s lead by example.   Let’s use the power of social media to remind all of us that there is more good than evil in the world.  Historically bad news travels faster and further.  Let’s change that.
In our communities and in our schools, let’s all reach out to our Muslim, Mexican, Black, LGBTQ friends (really to any friends who are fearful about hateful acts after the election) and tell them we care about them and they are important to us and that we are happy to have them in our lives and country and community, and that we support them. 
Let’s all speak out loud and clear that we accept and value everyone no matter their skin color, gender identity, sexual orientation, country of origin, religion, economic status, education.  That is true for those of us who supported our Democrat candidate, and equally true for those who supported our president-elect.  Like I said at the beginning, in my heart I do not believe most Trump supporters share the bigoted views we have seen highlighted so much.
So teens out there who do support Trump (and that is probably about half of you) prove me right!  Show your friends and classmates and adults around you that you do NOT stand for discrimination, that you do NOT stand for harassment of immigrants, that you do NOT oppose freedom of religion that this country was founded on, that you will NOT stand by when the less fortunate are being ignored.  
And teens who supported Hillary or another candidate, you too need to speak out on the same.  You must not insult or disrespect others who are different from YOU – who might have different views than you or who see the world differently.   
All teens (and adults as well!)– do not cut off views of others.  Continue to have discussions about opposing views.  Read about the views of others.  Don’t un-follow or refuse to be friends with someone whose views are different than your own.  Don’t just find evidence to reinforce your own view.  None of us are right all the time about everything, and we can learn something from every single person with whom we interact every day.  Don’t ignore those opportunities.
Lastly, if you are unhappy with what you are seeing now, remember at least in our country we have system where the voice of every citizen can be heard.  My own mother did not grow up in a country where voting, protesting and freedom of speech were protected, and that is why she came here.  How do you make your voice heard?  Through your vote and through civic involvement.  Fewer than 1/5th of youth voted in this election, and typically youth are under-represented in votes cast.  Let your generation be the one that changes that.  If you do not feel represented by any candidate, consider a career in government or politics or public service.  Our country is the better for diverse views, citizens and leadership and you each are a part of that equation.
So now, grieve, be angry, digest what is happening.  But then figure out how YOU are going to move all of us forward to acceptance, equality, respect and hope.   Lead by example.  Each of us can continue to make the world a better place if each of us does just a little bit

Future Mood

<![CDATA[In Honor of Election Day 2016 ]]>Mon, 07 Nov 2016 16:48:22 GMThttp://realtalkwithdroffutt.org/miscellaneous-thoughts-for-teens-about-health/in-honor-of-election-day-2016
Whew!  What a year!  What a long and exhausting campaign season.  Tomorrow is Election Day at last.  Even though some of the angst raised this season may not end with the election results, at least all the advertising will!

In honor of Election Day 2016 I would highlight some posts that address topics that have stood out for me over this endless campaign season as I think about teens, health and information.

Obviously, listening to all the fear mongering in the election triggers stress and anxiety.  We have talked a lot about these topics here, and it makes sense to highlight a few posts today:

Totally Stressed Out

How Music Therapy can help you.

There has been so much discussion about "Others".  People from other countries, who speak different languages, with different color skin, who love different people and more.  I am so saddened to see an increase in bullying in fact against immigrants, LGBTQ, and other teens over this election campaign period.  Remember, if a group of people look so different to you, you also look so different to them.    This stress was captured in a post answering a question from long ago:  "Am I normal?"

Also upsetting in this campaign is all the talk of sexual assault.  First things first, victims of sexual assault - WE BELIEVE YOU!  Recent weeks has shown a spotlight on the unfortunate truth that assault and rape culture and blame are all alive and well.  We need to change that.  
Survivors of Sexual Assault - I Believe You.

Lastly, one thing we have all seen time and time again is that just because something is on the internet does not make it true!  That fact alone is so true with seeing what has been considered election "news".  This whole problem is why I started Real Talk with Dr. Offutt to begin with.  I still think the internet is a great place to find information, but we all need to learn how to be critical of the information we see online and how to assess the accuracy of online resources.   To that end, here's a video of me showing you how to evaluate health websites:  But I read It Online!

<![CDATA[Guest Blogger, Kristen shows how Time Management is Easier than it Seems]]>Sat, 06 Aug 2016 14:13:10 GMThttp://realtalkwithdroffutt.org/miscellaneous-thoughts-for-teens-about-health/guest-blogger-kristen-shows-how-time-management-is-easier-than-it-seems
Believe it or not, school time is just around the corner and as scary as it seems life is going to be a lot busier. School season is the time to juggle homework, home commitments, friends, and extracurricular activities. As impossible as it may seem, managing your time can be easy if you keep certain things in mind. The first thing you want to do is prioritize your commitments. Ask yourself which things are most important to you. Which classes are most important to you? Which assignments are more important to hand in? Then you want to make sure you complete those items first on your list. After prioritizing, you want to organize the deadlines of assignments that need to be completed. By doing so you can create a visual timeline of what you have to do and when you have to do it. I suggest writing down due dates and important events to keep track of everything. Using post-its are also a great way to keep organized and you can also stick them around your room as reminders so you are never forgetful.

Overall the most important thing is to just be self-aware. Don’t fall behind just because you are bad at managing your time. Be aware of the tasks either big or small that you have to complete. Take your time in completing your tasks, be conscious and get your assignment in on time! School can be overwhelming but it is possible to handle it all if you take things one step at a time. Also, remember that you should also schedule time to relax and take a step back. Don’t let school consume your life. If you manage your time, stay on top of your assignments, and keep organized you are sure to make school life much easier on yourself.
Dr. O adds:
These are all great tips!  Prioritizing what is important to you really helps you focus where you need to spend your time.  Sometimes what is important to you isn’t the same thing that others think SHOULD be the most important.  But that’s OK!  That is part of becoming your own adult.  I completely agree with scheduling breaks.  Sometimes alternating 45 minutes of work with a regular 15 minute break gets that work done faster than trying to plow through hours without a break.  Another important thing to remember is to make sure you sleep enough!  When you are too tired, things easily become overwhelming and then it is hard to calm down long enough to figure out what to do first.
<![CDATA[Getting into that Summer State of Mind!]]>Mon, 20 Jun 2016 15:03:46 GMThttp://realtalkwithdroffutt.org/miscellaneous-thoughts-for-teens-about-health/getting-into-that-summer-state-of-mindIt's officially the first day of summer!  Yay vacation, no homework, long days, warm nights!

Summer is a great time to press that Reset Button!  Seriously.  If your life got all crazy and out of control over the school year, take advantage of this big change in your schedule to reset some things to get back on track.
It’s a great time to become more active.  In any way!  Just get out there and move.  Swimming, water balloon fights, hiking, tennis, anything.  Anything at all!  There is more free time and the days are longer!

Also, summer is a great time to improve what you eat every day.  All those fruits and vegetables are in season.  Which means they are cheaper and they taste better.  Add a fruit or vegetable to every meal and that’s 3 of your 5 a day right there!  The hot weather makes us have a taste for lighter things like salads and fruit, so take advantage of that to get into a habit of having more of those types of foods every day.  And less of those heavy greasy foods which, really, just make you feel blechhhh when it’s hot out. 

Switch junky drinks to water.  Yes, plain old plain old.  Better for you than sports drinks or “juice” drinks or any sugary beverage.  Sugary beverages actually make you thirstier - who needs that when it’s hot out?  And getting used to water now means next year, you will keep that good habit going.  And you will save money too, as a bonus!
Learn how to relax.  Really relax.  You worked hard this year, so take a break!  Maybe take an on-line vacation.  Meaning power down for a day or a week or once a week.  Get a break from all the online social pressure.  This is a great time to vanish for a while!  Enjoy it!

Even if you have a summer job, just mentally having a break from the stress of school is good and important.  So get into that summer frame of mind!  It's a good time to hang out with friends in your free time.  Hopefully you'll have or make new friends at work, too!  Speaking of friends.....
Reconnect with old friends who you used to enjoy hanging out with but you couldn’t at school since you weren’t in the same classes or didn’t have the same lunch periods.  Nurture and grow those healthy friendships.

Toxic friends?  Or should I say “friends”?  Or Frenemies?  This is a great time to cut off contact.  Delete them from your snapchat.  Unfollow their Instagram.  You get the idea.  You have about 10 weeks to completely release yourself from the unhealthy hold they have on you.  If they make you feel worse about yourself, rather than better, BUH-BYE!

And, if you happen to be a recent graduate and looking forward to moving past high school onto bigger and better things, make sure you tackle this short to-do list this summer too.  I want you to get to college or your new life all tuned up and in a good place mentally and physically so that you can go out there and BUILD and awesome future!

Happy Summer!  And, don’t forget that sunscreen!

Dr. O