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:
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
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
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!
This topic has been on my list for far too long, and I keep getting pulled in other directions answering other questions, but recent events in the news and elsewhere have compelled me to write this today. Earlier this week 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. Then fewer than 48 hours ago recent news events have shone another bright spotlight on a piece of our culture that make a small subset of men feel entitled to assault women (or others). Lastly, 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:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
It'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!
December 1st was World AIDS Day. I was invited to particpate at an event at the Mutter Museum here in Philadelphia where I got to meet all sorts of people who are working to encourage testing and HIV awareness here in the Philadelphia area. There were a lot of young people I met as well who are very engaged in this issue for their peers and classmates. One of the most powerful things I saw was an AIDS Timeline put together by Aids Fund Philly. I took a few pictures of dates that overlapped with significant events in my life. I remember when I moved to NYC to start college at Columbia, HIV and AIDS was relatively new and was a big part of the NYC community by then already. Then when I was looking at Medical Schools and going through my medical training, we saw so many sick people with end stage AIDS before there were any real treatment options. I look back and we have come a long way, at least in parts of the world and in communities that can actually access treatment for HIV/AIDS. But we have a long way to go. Let's keep moving forward.
And, teens, for you, yes, teens get infected with HIV too. In fact, a quarter - that's ONE IN FOUR new HIV infections are in young people between the ages of 13 - 24. And most of them don't know they are infected. SO to quote some wise teens that did a powerful performance this week at the World AIDS Day events at the Mutter Museum here in Philly:
STOP. THINK. PROTECT.
Without further ado, selected dates from the AIDS Timeline:
Over Thanksgiving, I got a question in that ASK-A-QUESTION box on our home page: "How do I lose weight on my stomach thighs and butt for a guy?" Now that we are all back to school and work and real life, here we go. Let's answer it!
I think that this question can actually be interpreted in 2 ways, so I will answer them both. 1: How does a girl lose weight for a guy since the guy told her to? AND 2: How can a guy lose weight specifically in the thigh and butt area?
Let’s start with Number 1: How does a girl lose weight for a guy since the guy told her to?
Take a minute and read THIS to see if you think your relationship has some signs of abuse, and also to see what to do.
Now, onto Number 2: How can a guy lose weight specifically in the thigh and butt area?
Hope this helps!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hard to believe we are now officially into the Holiday Season of 2015. 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?