Resolve to follow Mom's advice

Try in 2007: Get organized, sit up straight and smile

Try in 2007: Get organized, sit up straight and smile

January 01, 2007|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Perhaps, the world would be a better place if we all listened to our mothers.

Our homes would be immaculate. Our postures would be perfect. We would be with Mr. or Mrs. Right. We would not be spending our allowance money on candy and baseball cards (or more recently, shoes and video games) and will have, instead, saved enough to buy that dream home.

Wouldn't everything be lovely?

Instead of vowing to fulfill the same old New Year's resolutions - to stop smoking, eat better and exercise more - why not revisit that other list of things you've been meaning to do but haven't: those things your mother has been harping about for years?

The Herald-Mail has compiled a list of a few things most mothers nag about in order to see what would happen if people actually followed Mama's advice. Perhaps, she has been right all along.


Clean your room

Medical researchers say a neater living environment can have a positive effect on your mental health.

"You feel better when there is order in your life," said Dr. Mary Alvord, a psychologist with offices in Rockville, Md., and Silver Spring, Md.

In fact, officials from the National Mental Health Information Center, federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, recommends creating a living space "that honors the person you are" in order to boost self-esteem.

Stop slouching

It's bad for your lower back.

Lower-back pain is the most common cause of work-related disability and the leading cause of absenteeism, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health.

NINDS estimates that back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States, with headaches being the first.

But sitting up straight, at a 90-degree angle, might not be the best way to go, either, according to the Radiological Society of North America's recent findings.

The RSNA released in November a study suggesting that sighting upright at 90 degrees places unnecessary strain on the back, leading to potential chronic pain problems for those who spend a lot of time sitting down. Slouching also causes wear and tear, according to the study.

The report studied 22 volunteers with no history of back pain or surgery. The volunteers assumed three different sitting positions: slouching, upright and relaxed (backward, 135 degrees). Researchers then measured spinal angles, spinal disk heights and movement across different positions.

Results showed sitting "relaxed" at a 135-degree angle was the optimal sitting position.


The world is not that bad.

"There's data that shows people who are optimistic live longer," said Alvord, former chairwoman of education affairs for the Maryland Psychological Association.

Optimists aren't the "Pollyanna-ish" thinking people "looking at the world in rose-colored lenses," Alvord said.

"They are realistic," she said. "It's important to look at life realistically. An optimistic person knows that if there's a negative event, it's usually specific to that event."

"A pessimist will try to globalize that event, even though it's tied to a specific thing."

Negative thinking, Alvord said, leads to stress, which does more than cause mental strain.

A feature on the American Psychological Association's online help center allows users to view the physical effects stress has on the body.

According to the APA's interactive feature, constant stress experienced over a prolonged period of time increases the risk for hypertension, heart attack or stroke.

For women, stress can worsen premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.

The feature also shows how stress affects the nervous, endocrine, respiratory, gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal systems.

The feature is available at

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