Do You Have News Fatigue?

Are you overwhelmed with the news?

Do you dread the constant news alerts popping up on your phone?

Are you sick of hearing about, talking about and thinking about what’s going on in Washington, DC and beyond?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might be suffering from new fatigue. I know I am!  I recently got a chance to talk about why news fatigue happens – and more importantly – what to do about it! This segment aired on ScrippsTV channels across the country yesterday – including on our very own Denver Channel 7.

Fifty Shades: As Bad As We Think?

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I recently posted about my experience seeing Fifty Shades of Grey in the theaters.  In short: Not so great for men or women.  But is the book a different story?

In case you missed all the hype a couple years ago, the Fifty Shades of Grey saga started as a series of books by E.L. James.  Its super-racy content was the stuff of which guilty pleasures are made.  Some people loved its star characters – Ana and Christian – and others slammed the book for shoddy writing.  Still others wondered if writing quality really matters if people are actually spending their time reading!

I recently came across this fun graphic which measures Fifty Shades’ grammar with other, popular love stories.  Check it out:

Grammarly: Fifty Shades of Grammar

I have to admit that I am squirming in my seat as I write this, wondering how many grammatical errors I’m making.  Eeek.

Mistake-ridden or not, both writing and reading can be wonderful stress management strategies and avenues to mental health.  Happy reading!

Thanks to Grammarly Grammar Check for this cool infographic

A Guy’s Perspective on Fifty Shades of Grey

OK, yes, I saw the movie. And read the book. All of them.  And yes, the 50 Shades of Grey series is:

  • a guilty pleasure
  • potentially harmful to women’s self esteem, sense of power, and psycho-sexual health
  • not fine literature or cinema
  • not a great representation of the BDSM lifestyle

But that’s not what I am going to write about today.  Instead, I am going to summarize the conversation I had after seeing the film.  I was so glad I went with a man because he gave me a completely different perspective on the story line.

The first part of the conversation centered around the fact that the Fifty Shades story has been told (and will continue to be told) a zillion times.  Pure, sweet, young girl meets wordly, wealthy, and super-hot guy.  He woos her, they fall in love, have a couple problems, then live happily ever after in a big house with a bunch of kids.  Interestingly , my male companion had no idea that pretty much all romance novels have this same story line (think: Twilight, Nora Roberts, etc).  “I guess this is a fantasy for most women” I said.  “What is the male version of this fantasy?” I asked.  After some thoughtful consideration he guessed, “big boobs?” Hmmm.

After that insightful comment about the male psyche, he offered a few of his own observations about the Fifty Shades movie:

  • How, at 27 years old, has Christian Grey had enough time to create a multi-billion dollar company?
  • How does he have time for all these sexual shenanigans and stay at the helm of his empire?
  • How would he have time to work all day, have dinner with a friend until at least 9pm, fly from Seattle to Georgia, make reservations to take a glider tour, rent a car just like his ride at home, and arrive fresh as a daisy to romance Ana early the next day?
  • Why is Ana still using a flip phone?

All kidding aside, these observations really made me think about women’s expectations of the men in our lives.  Just as it isn’t so healthy to expect all women to have big boobs, no wrinkles, and long blond hair – it also isn’t so great to expect men to be wealthy, endlessly romantic, and apparently have no need for sleep.  Perhaps we need to be a little more fair when considering stereotypes of sexiness.  And just as women can be damaged by unhealthy, unattainable expectations – so can men.

Why Should I Care About Diversity in Media?

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Does it matter what you watch on TV?

Does it matter if your kids have role models in media?

Does watching movies with diverse casts, with diverse groups of directors, with diverse messages make a difference?

Yes, yes and yes.

Even for those of us who aren’t huge movie buffs, or TV fanatics – we are all influenced by media in one way or another.  Maybe it’s traditional print media, billboards, YouTube, Netflix – whatever – it’s hard to escape media’s influence.  And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  What IS bad is when the media you are consuming isn’t reflective of who you really are.  Instead it’s full of stereotypes or unhealthy (physically and psychologically) portrayals of people you identify with.  Here are a few examples:

  • TV and print commercials focusing solely on female’s looks (or cleaning abilities) as a way to identify them
  • TV sitcoms portraying a large proportion of men as lazy, selfish, and intellectually inferior to their wives
  • Movies including women in only supporting roles to more powerful men
  • TV, movies and print media encouraging cultural/racial/ethnic stereotypes by type-casting actors

The list could go on and on.

Why should you care?  Because media matters.  And when we see stereotypes reinforced over and over again, they become more ingrained in all of our brains  – even if we don’t want them to! And in our increasingly diverse world, it’s important for us to get past stereotypes and see each other (and ourselves) for the unique individuals we are.  Nobody’s mental health is improved by narrowly defining ourselves and others.  Understanding and accepting diversity (again, in ourselves and others) is a key piece of overall psychological health.

So, now what?

I am excited to announce that I have joined with Public Radio International (PRI) and SheKnows Media in their partnership to shed light on global news stories highlighting women.  Follow along and be a part of the news coverage that will change the lives of women.  You can also follow the stories #womenslives

Want to know more about diversity, psychology and why any of it matters?  Check out this FANTASTIC video made by psychologist Dr. Ali Mattu:


How Many Emotions Do You Have in a Day?

I was recently contacted by this cool group – People With Emotions – check it out:

Screen shot 2014-09-24 at 10.21.21 AMHere’s what they are about:

The People with Emotions Movement is about breaking the taboo of feelings. It’s about getting people to realize that it’s normal to feel. Actually, there is a lot more to emotions than we realize.

Sounds like something that a psychologist like me would be interested in, right? Well, I am, and I think there campaign is pretty cool.  They encourage people of all walks of life to first feel, then share, their emotions. Take a look:

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And…guess who else got to participate in the campaign?

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Dr. Stephanie Named a Top Mommy Blog

Just like most people, I wear several hats: psychologist, blogger and mom.  While I don’t typically consider this blog a “mommy blog,” as I try to write about lots of different issues – I am a mom and I do have a blog…so by default I suppose I am, in fact, a mommy blogger.  Semantics aside, I am thrilled to announce that Dr. Stephanie has been named a Top Mommy Blog! Yippee!

So what can you do about it? You can vote for Dr. Stephanie to keep me atop the list of blogs!

Check it out here:

Top Mommy Blogs

Technology and Mental Health

I am excited to share the footage of the television program I was a part of earlier this week: Studio 12 What’s New in High Tech.  I had a great time hearing from Denver Post writer Andy Vuong and Google Glass expert Rob Rusher about all the cool new gadgets available.  (Who knew you you could program your sprinkler from your phone?)  I provided some insights into how technology affects our mental health, including our social and emotional well-being.

Host Tamara Banks was smart, warm and delightful – I felt right at home in the studio!

Click on the photo below to watch the segment (caution: it’s a hour long)!

Thanks for having me Colorado Public Television – I hope I get to come back soon!

Girl Power, Continued

Photo by Keds

Photo by Keds

Looks like Keds and Taylor Swift are on the Girl Power bandwagon along with Covergirl. I love Taylor (and Keds are pretty cute, too) and even though I’m not sure that dying one’s hair a new color counts as “brave” I still like the message. Take a look:

Everyone’s mental health, self esteem and confidence improves when we encourage each other to aim high and be who we truly are.

Missed my last post about girl power? Check it out here.