Posted in coronavirus, Covid-19, Health, news, video games

Shutdown Stir Crazy? How to Keep Yourself Busy

Up until recently our lives have been a whirlwind of home, commute, work, restaurants, sporting events, clubs and parties.  Now, for many of us, it has come to a screeching halt.  With shutdown/lockdowns imposed by local officials in attempts to mitigate the COVID-19 epidemic, our day now becomes home, home and home with an occasional outing and then….home.

One might at first think this to be an opportunity to get some long overdue rest. Maybe binge watch some TV series or play some Fortnite without feeling guilty. But after a few days you don’t feel right.  You feel confined, imprisoned, and if not remedied, will start feeling worthless and guilty of time lost not being productive.

So let’s change that.

Here are some ideas on how you can take advantage of the time off work, thus keeping your days at home from going to waste….


Finish Home Improvements

Many hardware stores may remain open if not deemed “non essential”, so grab a paint brush, hammer, drill and install or fix whatever needs fix’n.


Moreover, some additions to one’s house could increase its value, such as adding a decking, remodeling a kitchen, or enhancing the landscaping.

Spend Time with the Kids

Kids do grow up too fast and time at home with them can be the most precious moments ever. Some things the kids may really enjoy include:

  • Camping in the back yard or park
  • Going on a hike
  • Fishing
  • Planting some seeds or a mini garden
  • Painting pictures for the walls
  • Painting a wall or furniture in their room
  • Framing baby pictures
  • Washing the car
  • Building a dog or cat house
  • Playing board games, toys, model kits, chemistry setsmini-chemistry-set_fEWQ2jL.jpg
  • Baking cookies
  • Write a funny story or poem
  • Collecting items from the home to give to charity

Take an Online Course – Learn, Learn, Learn

Whether it’s a class for college credit or a second language you’ve been dying to learn, use this time to enhance your education and improve your resume.

Exercise and Go Outside if Allowed

Your ability to exercise, once heeded by your hectic work schedule, is now unimpeded.  If you don’t have access to a gym or home workout equipment, go for a walk, bike or run, while keeping a distance from others to maintain precautions.


Read a book

Most libraries offer free online book borrowing so checking out a book can be easily done from your home.

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Write a blog/book

While confined at home, don’t let your creative juices dry out.  Put your prose affinity for comedy, romance, suspense, or DIY to good use.  Others who are confined may be very interested and entertained by what you write.

Have Facetime/Skype Sessions with Friends and Family

You’ll be surprised how much you miss others when you’ve been away for a few days.  Being social and connected is a huge part of keeping one’s sanity when away from work and others.

Work on Your Selfies

I never seem to get the lighting right, or have food in my teeth. I could use the practice.

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Rest – You Deserve It

Don’t feel guilty about sleeping in a little or having a nap.  Although it’s a good idea to keep to the same schedule during a lockdown as when you’re working, you can take some time for yourself and relax if you need.


Enjoy the Internet and TV but Limit Screen Time

Television, computer, iPad and cellphone use can strain your eyes and give you a headache if you don’t limit your use and take frequent breaks.  It’s good to use the 20,20,20 rule.  After every 20 minutes of use, look away at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  This may help avoid eyestrain from excessive smartphone, TV and iPad use.


Our need to bunker down and isolate from our jobs, friends and family is something we never imagined doing in our lifetime, hence it can be a frightening and stressful time.  Yet, as the saying goes, When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade, could now apply, so let’s try to make the best of this crazy situation, while not going stir-crazy ourselves.


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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, iHeart Radio and is a Board Certified Family Physician








Posted in children, Entertainment, Health, news, smart devices, Social Media, video games

Most Parents Are Concerned With Their Child’s Gaming Habits

A poll from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital found 86% of parents feel kids spend too much time gaming.

They report the following:

Among parents who say their teen plays video games every day, 54% reported extended gaming of 3 or more hours each day, compared to only 13% of teens that do not play every day; 13% of these parents believe their teen spends more time gaming than other teens, while 78% believe their teen’s gaming is less than or about the same as other teens. One in five parents (21%) say their teen does not play video games at all.
Most parents agree or strongly agree (86%) that teens spend too much time playing video games. Parents try a variety of strategies to limit the amount of time their teen spends gaming including sometimes or frequently encouraging other activities (75%), setting time limits (54%), providing incentives to limit gaming (23%) and hiding gaming equipment (14%).
Overall, parents say gaming sometimes or frequently gets in the way of other aspects of their teen’s life such as family activities/interactions (46%), sleep (44%), homework (34%), friendship with non-gaming peers (33%) and extracurricular activities (31%). Parents whose teen plays every day are more likely to report that gaming has a negative effect on their teen’s mood compared to those who play less frequently (42% vs. 23%).
Although many parents (71%) believe video games can be good for teens, some (44%) try to restrict the type/content of the games they play. Parents of teens 13-15 years, compared to teens 16-18 years, are more likely to use rating systems to make sure games are appropriate (43% vs. 18%), encourage their teen to play with friends in person and not online (25% vs. 18%) and not allow gaming in their teen’s bedroom (28% vs. 14%).

The Helicopter Theory

Many parents may have inadvertently fueled their child’s gaming habits as if their child is in their home playing a video game, they are not away and getting into mischief….a “helicoptering” if you will…..

Parents fear drug use, unsafe sex practices, DUIs, abductions with their teens and so gaming at home while socializing online seems safer and may not be discouraged in a household.

But it’s not “safe” as predators lurk online and hours of gaming can lead to obesity, blood clots, sleep disorders, and depression.


Gaming Disorder Now Considered “Mental Illness”

Those who find themselves playing video games for hours on end may end up with a mental health diagnosis.  The World Health Organization suggested adding “gaming disorder” to its list of disease classifications.

But do those World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Fortnite, and Candy Crush fans need to seek professional help immediately?  Well to qualify as having a “gaming disorder”, the WHO suggests the following guidelines:

  • The compulsive pattern of behavior has to exist for at least 12 months.
  • The behavior affects one’s personal life, occupation or health negatively.
  • Once the behavior negatively affects one’s life, the behavior continues or escalates.

They write: impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

They continue:  The inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 follows the development of treatment programs for people with health conditions identical to those characteristic of gaming disorder in many parts of the world, and will result in the increased attention of health professionals to the risks of development of this disorder and, accordingly, to relevant prevention and treatment measures.

Why are we getting addicted?

Video games act on the pleasure centers of the brain, just as alcohol, opiates and chocolate do.  We get “rewarded” by certain behaviors, giving us confidence and ego boots that we don’t get in the real world.  We begin to prefer to be alone with our controller than outside being written up by a supervisor, or turned down by a potential date.  Colors, sounds, awards, level advancement is psychologically addicting.

How to treat a gaming disorder

Many times gaming disorders are accompanied by other internet addictions such as porn and online shopping.  The following are treatment options used to curb one’s compulsive gaming behavior:

  • Limit screen time to one hour a day
  • Screen time holidays, or only use screen time for academic, work purposes
  • Play old school games with the kids such as Chess, Monopoly, or Dungeons and Dragons
  • Encourage family and friend outings such as camping, hiking, and cool projects
  • Visits to the library to use encyclopedias rather than going to Google (avoiding online ads that could tempt one to continue playing/shopping)
  • Cognitive/behavioral therapy
  • Medications, such as Zoloft, that treat OCD.
  • Treatment of the underlying disorder…depression, anxiety, loneliness, etc.


Some play but some blay….

Blaying is when one continues to play a level of a game despite being bored and disliking it.

Researchers estimate over 420 million people are addicted to the internet.  Smartphone addiction is rising exponentially as well.  These addictions many times involve gaming.  Hours are spent playing online games and levels within these games many times require multiple attempts.  If the level is not mastered, one is “stuck” on the level, but continues to play it in hopes the next level will be “better”.  This is all too time consuming.

Those of you who play Candy Crush know exactly what “blaying is”.  For example, you get stuck on level 2124 and can’t advance until you master that level.  But you hate it.  You keep losing and are really bored with the level.  But everyday you return to blayin the hopes that your luck will change and you can advance to a new level.  Eventually that level gets tiresome and you must blay your way through that one.


Another example:  Advancing to a new World of Warcraft level can be so tempting that one blays for weeks until they finally complete all the quests necessary to advance.

Remember “Around the World” in basketball.  One shoots from  different markers on the court and can’t advance until they make a basket.  But some of us get stuck forever on level 3, and cringe everytime we miss.  But we continue to blay until someone wins or has the chutzpah to say “This is boring!”.

But the psychology behind it is fascinating in that rather than having a quitting mentality, the gamer drudges on.  But why go through such boredom and anguish?  If we can get to the psychological root of blaying, maybe we could be a step closer to fighting internet addiction.




Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, iHeart Radio and is a Board Certified Family Physician