6 Ways to Set Boundaries with Energy Vampires

A man's silhouette in front of red smoke at night

Even if you haven’t heard the term “energy vampire” before, you’ve surely experienced the phenomenon. You know that exhausted, worn out feeling you get after being with someone who just emotionally drains you? Yep, that’s an energy vampire in action, sucking out all your good vibes, leaving you frustrated and tired.

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How to Stay Balanced During Major Life Changes

A pair of feet balancing books and a strange cocktail

If there’s one thing that’s inevitable in life, it’s change. Sometimes those changes are small, but every once in awhile they’re major — think marriage, divorce, loss of a loved one, a new job, having children, going back to school, or buying a house. These transitions often uproot our world, sometimes in ways we aren’t prepared for or don’t want to deal with.

For all the pain, uncertainty, or joy these major life changes bring into our lives, there’s no doubt they can take a toll on our mental health as we try to navigate our way through uncharted territory.

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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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Why Gossip is So Seductive (and How to Avoid It)

A mother and daughter tell secrets while one holds string cheese

Gossip is like the junk food of communication. We know that it is bad and unhealthy, but it’s hard to resist its draw. It is rude and unkind, and of course it’s always terrifying to think that something you said could get back to the person you were gossiping about.

Knowing all of its downsides, why is gossip still so hard to resist?

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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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4 Ways Your Stomach’s Microbiome Might Impact Your Mental Health

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Brain chemistry, self-esteem, and personal relationships all play an integral role in your mental health. Now researchers are looking beyond these well-known factors to understand how microbial activity — specifically in your gut — impacts how you feel mentally every day.

The Human Microbiome Project started in 2007 to catalog the micro-organisms living in our body. Since then, researchers have pinpointed two million unique bacterial genes found in each human microbiome.

While there isn’t an direct connection between our stomachs and our brains, the stomach sends messages to the brain, just as the brain sends messages to the rest of the body. If the microbiome is out of balance and the neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that partially determine how you feel on a daily basis aren’t produced effectively, your mental health could suffer.

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Why Black Men Face Greater Mental Health Challenges

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The emotional stoicism of Black men is something that few authors have talked about. Most notable of the few books on the topic, the author bell hooks’ work We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity discusses the lack of love and acceptance that Black men face, creating an emotional crisis.

Many men have not been told how to process and talk about their emotional experiences, furthering a sense of isolation, anger, and resentment. For these men, this creates an emotional volatility that can sometimes manifest in seeming “shut down” in relationships and friendships. At its worst, this budding resentment can manifest in outward expression of anger, aggression, and even violence. This is discussed further in Charlie Donaldson’s and Randy Flood’s book Mascupathy: Understanding and Healing the Malaise of American Manhood.

Many men (arguably most) struggle with the idea of being openly vulnerable and sharing their emotions. And for those who grew up as sensitive boys, they are often subject to ridicule and shaming for what are natural and healthy expressions of emotion. Black men face a unique challenge in that most of what is most prized about them may be their looks or bodies, but rarely ever their intellect and emotional intelligence. These things are often deemed too soft for any Black man to experience, delivering the message that if you are those things then you must change…and fast.

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7 Men Breaking the Mold on Mental Health

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

Understanding your mental health requires spending a lot of time analyzing and sitting with your thoughts — something that goes staunchly against everything the patriarchy stands for. Both men and women suffer from this culturally embedded misogyny: talking about your “feelings” is considered women’s work and an entirely unsuitable activity for manly men.

Mental health issues affect men and women equally, but men are less likely to seek help and more likely to die by suicide. In order to break down the stigma surrounding mental health, more men are coming forward publicly to share their struggles. Normalizing these issues for both men and women is an important step in our national mental-health conversation — and these seven men are leading the way.

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How Science Says Meditation Eases Anxiety (and 4 Simple Ways to Begin)

Snorkeler dives toward meditating buddha

Whether it is a looming work deadline, pressure at school, or a case of FOMO brought on by social media, stress and anxiety are, unfortunately, a normal part of this modern age. But, just because you experience these uncomfortable feelings, it doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do about it. In fact, practicing mindful meditation is a low-cost, scientifically proven way to help reduce your anxiety ― and anyone can do it.

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Attempting to Understand Suicide

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In light of the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, and headlines that suicide rates have climbed in the past twenty years, suicide has become a topic that is widely covered in the media.

Many sociologists and epidemiologists attribute increased suicide rates at least partially to economic variables. Suicide rates often rise in times of economic uncertainty, like the most recent recession, since this makes people feel more scared and hopeless. The opioid crisis may also play a part. You can read more about these theories here.

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