Smartphones Are Really Stressing Out Americans

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It’s easier than ever to stay in touch on multiple platforms throughout the day, but that 24/7 availability is stressing Americans out. Four out of five adults say they constantly check their email, texts and social media, according to a new report by the American Psychological Association (APA).

The APA polled about 3,500 adults in an online questionnaire during August 2016 and found that people who are always looking at their digital devices—called “constant checkers”—reported higher levels of stress compared to people who spend less time interacting with their gadgets.

The amount of time people spend on social media also appears to be stressing people out. 42% of constant checkers report that social media conversations about politics and culture cause them stress, compared to 33% of people who check less often. Constant checkers also worry about how social media is affecting their wellbeing; 42% say they worry about how social media can impact their mental and physical health, yet only 27% of people who check less often say the same.

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This digital obsession also appears to take a toll on families. Almost half of parents say they feel less connected to their family when technology is present, even when they are spending time together. Close to 60% say they worry about the impact of social media on their children’s mental and physical health.

Yet people are finding ways to cut back on the stressful effects of technology. The vast majority of parents, 94%, say they do something to limit their children’s use, like not allowing cell phones at the dinner table or limiting phone use before bed. That’s not always easy, though. Close to 60% of parents say they feel like their child is attached to their phone.

Overall, Americans want to unplug more often. Nearly two-thirds of people surveyed say they agree that taking an occasional digital detox is good for their mental health. However, less than 30% say they actually do so.


From a Size 2 to Sports Illustrated Swim's Curviest Model Ever: Hunter McGrady Is 'Much Happier' at a Size 16

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As a 16-year-old model, Hunter McGrady spent hours toiling away in the gym and starving herself to maintain her 114-lb., size-2/4 frame. But she was miserable — and she wasn’t booking jobs.

“My hips were always the bigger part of my body, and I was already so thin that I couldn’t keep shaving them down. I physically could not. And everyone was telling me that I could,” McGrady, 23, tells PEOPLE. “At that time I thought my dreams of becoming a model were crushed.”

And when she did get gigs, they weren’t going well.

“I walked into one of my very first modeling jobs at a size 4. They looked at me and said, ‘We didn’t realize you were this big,’ and they sent me home,” McGrady recalls. “And I was so upset, and so livid, that I was getting picked at, already, at just a young 16 years old.”


Fed up with trying to force her 5’11” body to be something it wasn’t, McGrady decided to accept her shape — curves and all.

“I love my body now. I love everything about it,” she says. “I’ve been an 18, I’ve been a 10/12, and I’ve been everything in between. Right now I sit at a 14/16, and I love it, because this is my God-given body.”


About four years ago, McGrady heard about curve modeling and went to Wilhelmina Models, where they signed her on the spot. She immediately landed jobs with Lucky Brand, Bare Necessities, Lane Bryant and more, but her big dream was the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

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“I always told myself that one way or another I was going to get in there.”

In December, she got the call — and she made a serious splash when the issue came out Feb. 15.

 Body Paint publicity image Hunter McGrady Anguilla 01/04/2017 SWIM-168 TK1 Credit: Clough, Josephine 02-20-17 Swimsuit     SWIM-168 TK1 SWIM168_TK1_01031_rawWMFinal.jpg Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Photographer

“It’s a moment — not just for me, but for women in history — to be in this issue. Finally, we’re being heard,” McGrady says. “I just want women to see this and feel inspired and feel sexy and feel like they can own their body and own their skin. And men, too!”


Aly Raisman Talks to Chrissy Teigen About Body Doubts and Posing in SI Swim: 'I Used to Be So Insecure'

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Even Olympians and supermodels have body insecurities.

Aly Raisman sat down with Chrissy Teigen and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day to talk about the gymnast’s jaw-dropping photoshoot in the 2017 issue.

“You brought home some medals for us. We owe a lot to you, and now you’ve been kind enough to grace us with that amazing a–,” Teigen, 31, tells Raisman at the SI Swimfest in Houston. “You look incredible in the magazine, like absolutely bonkers, strong, confident, beautiful, amazing woman.”

“[You] surprise yourself how comfortable you are when you’re shooting,” Raisman, 22, says. “It was one of my favorite days of my life — I’m not just saying that — because I felt so confident, so strong, so feminine, and it’s an incredible feeling, because I feel like a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it.”

 TK Photographer/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED - Caption must include "On sale February 15 (for placements after February 15, must say "On sale now.") - All international photo use must come through SI Content Management: and Swimsuit: 2017 Issue: Portrait of Aly Raisman during photo shoot. Houston, TX 9/26/2016 CREDIT: James Macari

The six-time Olympic medalist says she still deals with body doubts.

“It’s so empowering to be out there and just, you have insecurities just like everyone else, your body’s not perfect, but you feel confident and beautiful.”

“How do you have insecurities?” Chrissy asks, shocked.

“I used to be so insecure, I thought my arms were too muscular, but now I’m growing to like them,” Raisman admits.

 TK Photographer/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED - Caption must include "On sale February 15 (for placements after February 15, must say "On sale now.") - All international photo use must come through SI Content Management: and Swimsuit: 2017 Issue: Portrait of Aly Raisman during photo shoot. Houston, TX 9/26/2016 CREDIT: James Macari

Issue editor Day, who chose size and body diversity as the theme of the 2017 issue, explains that this very conversation drives home that idea.

“This is the point. Everyone thinks that because you’re an elite athlete, because you’re an enormous celebrity, superstar model, that your world is perfect, and that you think everything about yourself is perfect,” Day says.

“It doesn’t matter if you look like you, or you, or me, we all have our issues, and the world should know that. We should love everything that we’re given.”


Your Weekly Cry-Fest Over 'This Is Us' Has Surprising Health Benefits

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The This Is Us cast wants to apologize for making you cry every week. 

In a hilarious PSA-style clip by Entertainment Weekly, Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, and other cast members say they're sorry for the emotional rollercoaster they've been putting you on week after week. 

This video was originally published back in October, around the time when This Is Us premiered on NBC. But it's picking up steam now, perhaps because—spoiler alert!—a week after watching Randall endure a panic attack, the show delivered its most emotional episode yet with the devastating death of Randall's biological father, William. 

Some may wonder why it's so appealing to watch a TV show that consistently brings you to tears, but science actually has your back. Research shows that becoming attached to your favorite characters can actually be healthy. 

Crying over sad TV is a modern example of the paradox of tragedy, which philosophers have been writing about for thousands of years. “Sadness is a negative emotion that we don’t enjoy feeling, and tragic fiction makes us sad,” said Jennifer Barnes, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Oklahoma, in an interview with TIME. “And yet, somehow we seem to enjoy tragic fiction.” One theory is that tragic fiction provides catharsis, and some research shows that some people really do feel better after a good cry. 


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In her interview with TIME, Barnes goes on to explain that her own research suggests that watching TV dramas can improve emotional intelligence, or your ability to read the thoughts and feelings of other people. (She conducted her research using an episode of The Good Wife.) That's not all: additional research shows that watching TV shows that depict a lot of emotion and compassion (hello, This Is Us!) can actually make you a kinder, more altruistic person. 

All that said, if you feel emotionally wrecked for more than a couple hours after finishing an episode, you might care a little too much. “If you’re feeling sad about it several days or weeks afterward and it’s causing real-world distress, that might be a sign that you’re perhaps too invested in what’s going on,” Barnes told TIME.

Otherwise, your weekly sob sessions aren't bad for you—and might even make you a nicer person. Pass the tissues! 


Your Personality Changes More Than You Think Throughout Your Life

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If you think you’re exactly the same as your teenage self, new research may challenge that assumption. In a 63-year study, the longest ever conducted on human personality, scientists found that personalities can transform almost entirely over the course of a lifetime.

For the study, which began in 1950, psychologists at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom analyzed data from more than 1,200 personality assessments given to 14-year-old students by their teachers. The educators rated their pupils on the following six personality traits: self-confidence, conscientiousness, perseverance, desire to excel, originality, and stability of moods.

Approximately 63 years later, researchers tracked down 174 of the original students, now an average of 77 years old, who agreed to take another personality test. The participants took an assessment measuring the same six characteristics that they were judged on at 14 years old. They were also asked to bring along another loved one, who then weighed in on the same traits.

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The results, though published in the journal Psychology and Aging in December, are just gaining traction. And they're quite different from what researchers expected to find: There wasn’t a whole lot of overlap between now and then—aside from a small correlation between stability of moods and conscientiousness. “The longer the interval between two assessments of personality, the weaker the relationship between the two tends to be. Our results suggest that, when the interval is increased to as much as 63 years, there is hardly any relationship at all,” the researchers wrote in the study's conclusion. “Personality changes only gradually throughout life, but by older age it may be quite different from personality in childhood.”

It's important to realize that the data isn’t 100 percent conclusive. The sample size of the latter study was pretty small compared to the original sample, and a teacher’s personality assessment isn’t exactly the same thing as self-assessment. Nonetheless, it is an important look into how we can change over the years—in more ways than just our appearance.


21 Simple Tips for Finding Balance Through the Holidays

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In every issue of Health magazine, we crowdsource sage life advice from our readers: You’ve shared your personal tips on everything from curbing stress and staying motivated to keeping it all in perspective when life gets hectic. Much of that guidance feels especially useful right now during the holiday season. The 21 tips below bear repeating as many of us strive to find balance through the most wonderful-slash-overwhelming time of the year.

Quiet self-doubt.

“I remind myself of how strong I really am, even when I tend to forget.” —Amanda D., via Facebook

Know what you can change.

“The two things that you can control in life are your effort and your attitude.” —Linda D., via Facebook

RELATED: 12 Worst Habits for Your Mental Health

Process your emotions.

“When I’m down, I always feel better after I get it out. Have a good cry, talk it out, and go do some intense cardio.” —Elizabeth K., via Facebook.

Snap out of fix-it mode.

“Always remember: not your circus, not your monkey. Never take responsibility for a mess that wasn’t yours to begin with.” —Beth Ann J., via Facebook

Sleep when you need it.

“I owe everything to my 20-minute nap breaks.” —@gracewmurray

RELATED: A Sleep Meditation for a Restful Night

Let go of guilt.

“When life gets crazy, I accept that I can’t do it all, and I focus on what’s important—because vacuuming can wait!” —@hmebodiesdesign

Stay active.

“My grandmother, who lived to be 94, said, ‘Never stop moving or you will get rusty.’” —Diane T., via Facebook

Carry a reminder of where you’re headed.

“I have a smooth, shiny purple stone I keep in my purse or pocket. It is my anchor and reminds me of the beach where I found it after losing 206 pounds. When I hold it, I think of all my success and why I need to keep focused and never go back to where I came from.” —Annemarie K., via Facebook

Invest in the important stuff.

“Buy good shoes and a good bed because if you’re not in one, you’re in the other!” —Melissa W., via Facebook

Own your greatness.

“Approach each day with confidence. You are more beautiful than you think and more intelligent than you realize.” —Michelle C., via Facebook

RELATED: 22 Ways to Get Happy Now

Stick with what makes you feel good.

“Don’t quit anything that makes you happy, and don’t do anything so much that it becomes bad for you.” —@catella18

Stick to your values.

“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” —Melissa A., via Facebook

Seize the day.

“I always tell myself that today I’m privileged to be able to work out. You may not always have your health or be physically able to exercise. Do it while you can!” —Kerry A., via Facebook

Don’t let pride get in the way.

“Never be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Even the bravest sometimes need a helping hand or listening ear.” —@stylinstar 53

Take breaks.

“I love to go in the garden and pull weeds. I admire what beautiful things I’ve created; it’s my way of clearing my head.” —Katherine M., via Facebook

Do what it takes to get to the gym.

“I sleep in my workout clothes and go to the gym first thing in the morning. If I’m sleeping in them, I hate to change out of them if I don’t work out.” —Constance M., via Facebook

RELATED: 25 Genius Ways Fitness Trainers Stay Motivated to Exercise

Push yourself from time to time.

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!” —Lori K., via Facebook

Be prepared.

“Always bring a book.” —@RachelOnandOn

Treat yourself… in a healthy way.

“I love using fresh slices of cucumber when my eyes look tired. Plus the downtime helps me feel really zen.” —Christie A., via Facebook

Protect your joy.

“Happiness is circumstantial, but joy is internal. Never allow anyone to steal your joy.” —Darlita S., via Facebook

Love your body.

“It took me a while to realize how sexy confidence is, but no matter how big or small I am, I feel sexy. And that makes my workout more about health and less about losing weight.” —Momo P., via Facebook

RELATED: The Top 10 Body Positive Moments of 2015



1 in 100 Pregnant Women Infected With Zika Will Give Birth to Baby With Microcephaly

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By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 15, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Scientists say there’s more evidence supporting a link between the Zika virus and a serious birth defect.

Researchers report that one in every 100 pregnant women infected with the virus during the first trimester will give birth to a baby with microcephaly—an abnormally small head and the potential for neurological issues.

The new risk analysis did have one important caveat, however.

“The findings are from the 2013-14 outbreak [of Zika] in French Polynesia, and it remains to be seen whether our findings apply to other countries in the same way,” study co-author Dr. Simon Cauchemez said in a news release from The Lancet. The findings were published in the journal on March 15.

The analysis was based on data from an outbreak of Zika infections in French Polynesia, a group of islands in the South Pacific. Cauchemez and colleagues said over 31,000 cases of infection were reported during the 2013-2014 outbreak, and eight cases of microcephaly were confirmed.

“Data from French Polynesia are particularly important since the outbreak is already over,” said study co-author Arnaud Fontanet, a colleague of Cauchemez at the Institut Pasteur in France.

“This provides us with a small—yet much more complete—dataset than data gathered from an ongoing outbreak,” Fontanet added.

The researchers believe that the findings strengthen the notion that maternal infection during the first trimester of pregnancy may be especially linked to microcephaly in babies.

Dr. Richard Temes directs neurocritical care at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. He called the emergence of the Zika-microcephaly link “a global public health dilemma.”

“Although the risk of transmission is low in comparison to other viral infections, such as congenital rubella [German measles], the authors rightly conclude that the risk to the population is much greater given the higher incidence of Zika virus during outbreaks,” Temes said.

In other related news, U.S. health officials on Friday gave tentative approval to a field test in the Florida Keys of mosquitoes genetically tweaked to help curb the spread of the Zika virus.

Officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they made the preliminary determination that the test of the genetically engineered insects poses little harm to people, animals or the environment, The New York Times reported.

But, final approval for the trial won’t come until the FDA considers comments from the public, which is likely to take months, the newspaper said.

And last Thursday, U.S. health officials said they were learning much about the virus. However, the more they learn, the more they realize how much they don’t know, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a media briefing.

“Unfortunately, the more we learn, the worse things seem to get,” Fauci said.

The Zika virus is suspected of causing an epidemic that started last spring in Brazil, where there have been more than 5,600 suspected or confirmed cases of microcephaly.

Zika has also been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, an immune system disorder that can occasionally lead to a fatal form of paralysis.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said: “We are learning more about Zika every day. The link with microcephaly and other possibly serious birth defects is growing stronger every day. The link to Guillain-Barre syndrome is likely to be proven in the near future, and the documentation that sexual transmission is possible is now proven.”

First discovered in Uganda in 1947, the Zika virus wasn’t thought to pose major health risks until last year, when it became clear that it posed potentially devastating threats to pregnant women.

But, for most other people the virus offers little threat—approximately 80 percent of people who become infected never experience symptoms.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread in Latin America and the Caribbean.

It is not expected to pose a significant threat to the United States mainland, federal health officials have said in the past.

In Puerto Rico, however, the situation is “of great concern,” Frieden said.

“Puerto Rico is on the frontline of the battle against Zika,” said Frieden, who had just returned from the island. “And it’s an uphill battle.”

By next year, Frieden said, there could be hundreds of thousands of cases of Zika in the territory, and “thousands of infected pregnant women.”

Last month, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion to fight the Zika virus. To date, Congress has not approved the funding and both Frieden and Fauci expressed concern that efforts to fight Zika are in jeopardy if the funds aren’t forthcoming.

One goal is to create a vaccine that can be given to children before they reach puberty to prevent Zika infection, Fauci said. “We cannot do what needs to be done in a sustained way without those resources,” he said.

The CDC currently has this advice for pregnant women:

• Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
• If you must travel to or live in one of these areas, talk to your health-care provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
• If you have a male partner who lives in or has traveled to an area where Zika transmission is ongoing, either use condoms the right way every time, or do not have sex during your pregnancy.

The Zika virus has now spread to over 33 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean. The World Health Organization estimates there could be up to 4 million cases of Zika in the Americas in the next year.

More information

For more on Zika virus, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To see the CDC list of sites where Zika virus is active and may pose a threat to pregnant women, click here.


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