Why is Talking About Looks Damaging to Mental Health?

A woman holds her hand in front of her face

I’m a pretty confident gal. Actually, that’s an understatement. I am a seriously confident woman. I think I’m gorgeous, exceptionally talented, super interesting, and not least of all, very humble.

I’m lucky to have a fantastic mom, who always modelled body confidence, never talked about weight, and told me I was the most beautiful woman in the world (well, except for my equally beautiful sisters). My partners have never made me feel bad about my body. I go for a “queer, curvier Sophia Loren in 1964” vibe, and I’m pretty pleased with the results.

And yet…

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I’m Worried About My Friend’s Suicide Risk. How Can I Help?

A man sits by a mountainous beach

I don’t know who she was.

It was the early 2000s, the height of the AIM craze, when middle schoolers rushed home at the end of the day to log on and start chatting. These were the early days, where we could hardly distinguish an LOL from a G2G and emojis had yet to replace emoticons (I know, (☉_☉)!).

One day, I was chatting with my friend when I started panicking: She had seen an apparent suicide note on someone else’s AIM profile, and didn’t know what to do. All of 13 years old, we called our respective parents to help save the day. Our parents called the police. But this was the early days of social media, when it was next to impossible to figure out where someone was or how to reach out to them.

To this day, I still wonder if that person is alright.

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Why It’s Healthy To Lower Your High Expectations in College

A woman stands over a balcony with a graduation cap and gown on

A group of us were getting together for the first time since graduation, reminiscing about our earlier selves.

“We were all horrible in college,” my friend said recently over drinks. “We were so status-obsessed and trying to keep up with everyone else who was status-obsessed.”

Another friend, sipping his beer, put it more succinctly: “We were all so depressed in college.”

He meant this literally.

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How to Emotionally Prepare Yourself for Your Next Relationship

Grimacing emoji balloon

I’ll admit it: when my Talkspace editors suggested that I write about how to overcome harmful relationship patterns, my first thought was “Hey man, I wish I knew.”

I, like most of us, have had my fair share of bad relationships, from “it’s complicated,” to “it’s really complicated,” to abuse (and there’s no Facebook status for that). I, like most of us, have gone into each new relationship hoping it will be different this time, but worrying that old patterns will come back to bite me in the derrière. And I, like many women and queer people, have swiped through a dating wasteland of those too eager to show me their genitals, wondering why it has to be so difficult to find someone who will treat me with respect. And of course, I’ve had my fair share of wonderful moments, sweet partners, and fulfilling relationships, too.

But in a world where many of our experiences of intimacy are marked by trauma or negative patterns of behavior, how can we work through the bad stuff to find enduring, healthy love?

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5 Ways to Turn Your Day Around NOW

A smiling fox with his eyes closed

Science knows the secret to happiness — and it’s a lot more simple than you’d think.

That, at least, was the message of a recent New York article that summarized the scientific consensus on what makes humans happy. And, well: turns out that you could probably guess the answers. Beyond having your basic needs met, money, as your mom probably could have told you, does not buy happiness — though it can buy free time to do what you want, which does make you happier. Gratitude is good. Social connection is important. Doing things for others makes us feel better about ourselves.

This is all well and good for the long term. Sure, we all plan to incorporate more family time into our days, take up a hobby, and give back. But when you’re having a crappy day, it’s not enough to plan for the future — you want to know how can the research on happiness can make your day better now.

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How Does People Pleasing Negatively Affect Your Mental Health?

a hamster with its front paws together

Imagine walking down a crowded street. You’re strolling along, minding your own business, when suddenly someone who is texting while walking (a dangerous pastime!) bumps right into you. You know that person bumped into you and not the other way around. You know that it wasn’t your fault and that it was, in fact, their fault.

Do you say sorry?

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5 Ways Black and White Thinking Poisons Your Perspective

A man's silhouette behind a screen in black and white

I’m a terrible person.

My sister is so beautiful and I’m so ugly.

My boyfriend is the most attractive person I know and I’ll never be as into anyone else again.

We all think of the world in black and white terms at times. From refusing to see the flaws in our loved ones, to being overly hard on ourselves, the human brain’s tendency to understand the world in either/or terms has a profound effect on our relationships.

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Why Feeling Your Anger is Good for You

A man yelling in anger

Hell hath no fury like me in a political argument. My heart pounds. My breath speeds. My face reddens. I look like I just worked out, but that sweaty, vibrant flush is pure, righteous anger.

Wise people throughout human history have taught us to beware the excesses of anger. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and ancient Greek philosophy all provide some choice wisdom on the subject. Science bears these teachings out. Frequent, intense, or prolonged anger causes physical and psychological stress, increasing our risk of committing intimate partner violence, getting into a car crash, abusing drugs, and even suffering from heart disease.

Anger is also associated with several mental illnesses, like Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, and can exacerbate the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Yet there’s another body of evidence, which indicates that not all anger is bad. Indeed, psychologists argue that in moderate doses, anger can: motivate us, make us more creative, deepen our relationships, help us advocate against social ills, and inspire us to pursue our goals.

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7 Insightful Mental Health-Themed Books to Read This Summer

Bookstore patrons read books in the aisle

Kids are out of school, adults are playing hooky from work, and we’re all sweating from parts of our bodies we didn’t even know could sweat. Summer is the time to rest, relax, and recharge. Whether that be taking time to see friends and family, going on a trip, or taking a much-needed staycation with Netflix, this summer, prioritize things that give you joy.

While you take some much-deserved time and a mental health break for yourself, why not read for pleasure? We know, we know, in the age of constant social media updates and endless work emails, reading for pleasure is a rare luxury. But taking that time to crack open a good book keeps your brain healthy and gives your imagination space to roam.

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10 Inspiring Self-Love Quotes from LGBTQ Icons

Stonewall Inn in New York

When trans women of color led the way in the Stonewall Riots of 1969, Pride was born. It was a movement against police harassment and to claim space for a marginalized community. By fighting back, members of New York City’s queer community signaled they would not be pushed into the shadows anymore.

The Stonewall Riots are part of a decades-long campaign for LGBTQ visibility, inspired by the belief that accepting and celebrating ourselves and our community — even when society won’t accept or celebrate us — is a radical act. The courage to come out transformed LGBTQ people’s status in society, and in the face of continued discrimination, it remains a powerful weapon to guard one of our most powerful resources: our mental health.

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