STAYING FIT AND HEALTHY DURING THE HOLIDAYS

With the holidays coming up, the highlight for many people during this season is gathering with family and friends and enjoying favorite holiday treats. Here are some tips that will help you enjoy your holidays to the fullest while not increasing your waistline.

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MAKING AND KEEPING NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

Only 8 percent of individuals achieved their resolutions in 2016, according to Statistic Brain. This is likely due to most people having unrealistic expectations about the speed, ease and consequences of the resolutions they make. People attempting self-change rarely succeed the first time; most need five or six attempts, according to a paper published in American Psychologist by Janet Polivy and Peter Herman. The authors suggest false hope syndrome is the cause for failure.

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HEALTHY HOLIDAY OPTIONS

The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with family and friends to celebrate. These celebrations often consist of many delicious treats and hardy meals. You can still maintain a healthy diet with a little thought and planning in advance. Research from a recent Web-based survey found 18 percent of people feel they cannot eat healthily during the holidays because they don’t want to miss out on their favorite foods. You can still eat the foods you enjoy this season, just in moderation.

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After being exposed to the images, the participants completed a memory test. The female participants were able to recall significantly more of the images than their male counterparts. The women had a particularly enhanced ability to recall the positive images. The study’s lead author, Dr. Annette Milnik, hypothesizes gender-dependent differences in emotional processing and memory are due to different mechanisms in the brain.


More specifically, the data suggested men have less reactivity to negative emotional images, which is linked with decreased activity in the motor regions of the brain. It may also suggest this is why men show less reactivity to various forms of trauma encountered in war and violent life experiences.


Sources and Resources


•  Lee, R., Arfanakis, K., Evia, A.M., Fanning, J., Keedy, S., Coccaro, E.F. (2017). White matter integrity reductions in intermittent explosive disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology.


•  Plutchik, Robert. (2002). Emotions and Life: Perspectives from Psychology, Biology, and Evolution, Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.  

It is well known men are wired differently than women when it comes to emotions. Emotion is a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience, a physiological response and a behavioral or expressive component. Are women “wired” to be more emotional than men? Not exactly, but new research provides more evidence that the male and female brain may have very different ways of processing emotions. Previous research has shown women generally experience higher levels of emotional stimulation than men. Now, a large scale study from the University of Basel suggests gender differences in emotion processing are linked to variations in memory and brain activity.


Feelings of happiness and pleasure are linked to the pre-frontal cortex in the brain. Anger, fear, sadness and other negative emotions are linked to the amygdala. All human behavior can be broken down into four basic emotions, according to research by Glasgow University. The study has challenged a commonly held belief that there are six basic emotions of happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust.


Dr. Robert Plutchik (2002) is credited with developing a psycho-evolutionary theory of emotion. It is one of the most influential classification approaches for general emotional responses. He suggests there are eight primary emotions: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust and joy. Plutchik further introduces the concept

MEN AND THEIR EMOTIONS

of emotional contagion. Emotional contagion influences the feelings of one person from another person that transition into adoptive behaviors. This explains why some individuals are influenced by others and adopt their emotions as if they were their own. It is the phenomenon of having one person’s emotions and related behaviors directly trigger similar emotions and behaviors in other individuals. A good example of this is the marketing strategies used by advertisers to push their products: “If you have this certain condition, you need this particular medication.”


The Basel researchers designed an experiment to determine whether women perform better on memory tests than men because of the way they process emotional information. The researchers exposed 3,400 participants to images of emotional content.


They found women rated the images as more emotionally stimulating than men, particularly in the case of negative images. When presented with emotionally neutral imagery, however, the men and women responded similarly.

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

more articles by Dr thomas w. miller