How I (Finally!) Learned to Turn My Brain Off Before Bed

Geber86/iStock.com

Geber86/iStock.com

Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on honing habits that aren’t just good for my body, but for my mind, too. And (like many other sleep-deprived Americans), refining my sleep schedule was a main priority on that list.

I know I don’t need to tell you that catching the right amount of zzzz’s per night is super important for maintaining healthy brain and bodily functions, but not everyone realizes how important it is for your mental well-being, too. When I’m sleep deprived, I turn into an emotional, irrational, short-tempered, annoying version of myself who — ask any of my family or friends — is not pleasant to be around. Caution: if you see me out rocking my under-eye bags that day, do yourself a favor and stay away. Far, far away.

Unfortunately, I wear my eye bags (not confidently) wayyy more often than I’d like. You see, sleep is one of the things that pretty much goes out the window when your schedule is packed with classes and work, forcing you to stay up until 2 (or 3 or 4) a.m. plugging away at what seems like a never-ending to-do list.

But recently, even if I DO make it to bed (also known as my favorite place on Earth) at a reasonable hour, I often lie awake for hours on end stressing about what the heck I’m going to do with my life once I graduate school or thinking other unnecessary thoughts about things totally out of my control. Sometimes my brain can really get on my nerves! Am I the only one who wishes this thing had an off switch? Like, seriously, I am trying to catch a REM cycle over here, dude.

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The Checkup: How Doing Too Much Of This Is Actually Backfiring On You

• Creativity is a highly appreciated skill, both in the workplace (hello, pitching ideas to your boss) and in social situations (hello, not coming off as a totally eye-roll-worthy guy in your Tinder profile). Which is why, if you’re looking to be creative, you should stop thinking so much all the freakin’ time — really. A new study found that people who had serious mental load (read: too much to think about) were way less creative than those who didn’t. So de-clutter your minds and quit thinking so much, people!  [Fast Company]

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What to Do When Anxiety Is Driving You Nuts (No Deep Breaths Involved)

If you never again want to hear the words “Take a deep breath” when you are freaking the f$#@ out about a work presentation — or about pitching an idea or about a first Tinder date — here are some other words of advice: Say “I am excited.” The folks over at The Atlantic just posted a video explaining how saying those three words can turn anxiety into excitement — easier than going from anxious to calm — which in turn makes you perform better at the anxiety-inducing task. Check out the video below then go put the advice into practice. (Your office mates will just have to deal with your cubicle pep talks.)
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Is Milton Hershey School to Blame for Abbie Bartels’ Suicide?

Abbie Bartels. (Photos via Twitter)

Abbie Bartels. (Photos via Twitter)

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a statement from Milton Hershey School.

It has been three years since 14-year-old Pennsylvania girl Abbie Bartels died by suicide, and now her parents have filed a lawsuit against the prestigious Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania, accusing the boarding school of causing her death by expelling Bartels and barring her from eighth grade graduation after she expressed a desire to harm herself. Read more »

The Checkup: Words for All the Emotions You’ve Never Been Able to Explain

• Humans are strange creatures and our brains are filled with all sorts of odd thoughts (“I wonder what Missy Elliot is doing today”) and emotions (“I’m not sad, exactly — my heart just feels like a train ran over it, then reversed back onto it, pressed the brakes and stayed there”), many of which we have a hard time describing. To help us out, the folks over at Science of Us have created a handy list of real words  from around the world — like pronoia and malu — for emotions you never knew how to describe before. Guarantee: The list will have you saying “Ahhhhh-ha!” for a good five minutes. [Science of Us] Read more »

The Checkup: These Are the Best Cities for Fitness in America (No, Philly Did Not Make the Cut)

• Looks like D.C. is kicking our butt when it comes to the fitness game. The District was just ranked the fittest city in the country for the third year in a row by the American Fitness Index, followed by Minneapolis in second place and Denver in third. Philly came down much further on the list at number 24. Let’s work on that, shall we? [Huffington Post]
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New Study: How Taking Tylenol Can Turn You Into a Bit of a Jerk

Welp, here’s an unexpected side effect of popping a Tylenol: A new study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that acetaminophen – the most common drug in the country — can screw with a person’s ability to empathize, along with reducing pain, the Washington Post reports. In other words, taking a Tylenol can turn you into a bit of a jerk. Read more »

Petition Demanding Penn Mental Health Reform Approaching 5,000 Signatures

On April 11th, Penn junior Ao “Olivia” Kong was killed by an oncoming SEPTA train near 40th Street Station. The death was later ruled a suicide. Now, a week-old petition imploring university officials to address the problems plaguing the school’s mental health resources has garnered nearly 5,000 signatures.

Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price released a statement addressing the community’s concerns and providing updates on the steps the school is taking to ramp up its mental health resources. Gutmann has called for the school’s Task Force on Student Psychological Health and Welfare to reconvene — it completed a year-long study on the subject in 2015 following several high-profile suicides at the school. The school had vowed to fight a culture of “destructive perfectionism.”

“We have asked the chairs of the Task Force, Anthony Rostain and Rebecca Bushnell, to immediately reconvene the Task Force to determine as expeditiously as possible what additional steps can be taken to help ensure the health and well-being of our students,” Gutmann and Price’s statement reads. The school has extended the hours of its counseling service (CAPS) in the wake of Kong’s death, but some Penn students have expressed extreme discontent with the school’s ability to treat students effectively.  Read more »

Does Your Sanity Depend on Running?

You know those conversations you’ll never forget because they just left you so confused? I had one of those with my best friend, Anja, when I was around 16 years old. We’d both gotten in trouble with our parents for something I now can’t remember and, for whatever reason — probably because we were 16 — we were convinced our lives were over. At 16, our lives were OVER.  It was upsetting. So, naturally, we both got into huge screaming matches with our parents, arguing that life wasn’t fair and we knew what we were doing. We were basically adults! You know, behaving the way teenagers, always so rational, do.

And here’s where it got confusing: When we called each other to commiserate, Anja told me she’d been so upset that she just had to go for a run, and she ran and ran and ran and it made her feel better. Meanwhile, I’d been so upset that I just had to watch 16 episodes of Laguna Beach. Needless to say, I didn’t get the whole running-as-emotional-pain-relief thing. The way she turned to running — to feel better mentally — baffled me for years.  Read more »

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