We Finally Know What About Meditation?

Meditation comes up in the news all the time as the newest “hot thing” to do for your heath. It has tons of research support for improving mental and physical health, but I was shocked to learn that its benefits for stress were only confirmed in the past few days.

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We know meditation can help quiet the mind, but this new study showed the meditation also helps calm the heart. When we are stressed, our heart physically beats differently and researchers have now found how to observe the combined changes of meditation, heart beat, and stress. Yoga meditation was found to have the strongest effect and the positive effects aren’t limited to only the period of time spent meditating. The physiological benefits, such as a calmer heart rate, persist even after the meditation session has ended. Some of those positive effects include mental ability for goal-oriented thinking, which requires strong executive control.

Again, we often underestimate the interconnectedness of mind and body.

I personally do not meditate as much as I would like–meaning I don’t make it a priority in my life. I’ve downloaded Headspace and really need the catalyst to commit and turn it into a daily practice.

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I pride myself on learning about health, integrating healthy habits into my life, and setting a positive example, although this is one are I just can’t seem to budge.

Everyone struggles with certain things like this. For example, I work at a company focused entirely on wellbeing. We preach mindful eating and taking short breaks at work, yet everyone eats at their desk while working…what’s up with that? It’s HARD to make the right healthy choices. We have to prioritize them. My coworkers would have to think “well, this email can wait until I’ve enjoyed my salad and caught up with a friend”, and I would have to say-, “pause your anxious mind for these five minutes and simply be.”

When it comes down to it, we all have to pick our battles and choose the ways we want to honor our wellbeing.


What are healthy habits you are striving toward? What’s stopping you?


Ted Talk Friday: Best-Self Activation

What a wonderful talk; this came out only a few days ago and it might be one the best talks I’ve seen in a while. Dan Cable, a new name to me, wove together a beautiful, complex, and persuasive story of what it means to “activate our best selves” and how we can do it more often.

I’ve completed the peer surveys for friends in the past and see it as such a valuable tool. Cable also mentioned a test to determine your values and positive character strengths–I highly recommend taking it. The survey is called the VIA and can be found here.


When do you feel like your best self is activated?

Ted Talk Friday: My story is painted on my body

I picked this talk randomly while looking for a shorter talk. At first I was not enjoying this, but it quickly took a turn halfway through. I was so intrigued how a young girl who was bullied then became a bully herself. I am sometimes naive to think that empathy is inherent and that we always learn by experience. Hearing this young woman reflect on her experiences really made me pause and think.

Are you surprised she was a bully after being bullied?

Our Negativity Bias & What It Means For Social Media

Dr. Rick Hanson offers one of the most simple, clear explanations of negativity bias:

“the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.”

This served us well during evolution; for example, remembering that lions are dangerous is much for useful than remembering how nice a rose smells. In order to stay alive, we prioritize the negative memories and experiences. As Dr. Hanson perfectly describes:

“The alarm bell of your brain — the amygdala (you’ve got two of these little almond-shaped regions, one on either side of your head) — uses about two-thirds of its neurons to look for bad news: it’s primed to go negative. Once it sounds the alarm, negative events and experiences get quickly stored in memory — in contrast to positive events and experiences, which usually need to be held in awareness for a dozen or more seconds to transfer from short-term memory buffers to long-term storage.”

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I studied PTSD at-length while in college, and one of the promising theories is that the disorder is actually the brain stuck in this negative cycle to an extreme point–over-activating the negative response (fear, startle, racing heart). The trauma is primed to be triggered by any similar negative experience.

Now, how does this relate to your social media consumption?

A recent study found that negative interactions on social media have a much stronger impact than positive interactions. Every 10% increase in positive interactions/experiences on social media was associated with a 4% decrease in chances of depressive symptoms, but those results were not statistically significant, which means that the findings could simply be due to chance (aka positive social media experiences might not effect us). On the flip side, for every 10% increase in negative experiences, there was a 20% increase in the odds of depressive symptoms–a finding that was statistically significant. Remember, correlation does not equal causation; while social media might increase depressive symptoms, it’s also possible that individuals with depressive symptoms seek out negative social media experiences.

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What we can we do about this?

Unfollow. Unfriend. Remove all the negativity from your news feed.

That girl who posts stunning photos that makes you feel ugly and boring? Unfollow.

That acquaintance who makes a snide remark on your new profile picture? Unfriend.

Think about how you feel looking at different posts, comments, and photos and make sure to use your social media mindfully. It can be a wonderful tool for connection when used with a focus on positivity, networking, and friendship.


Do you find yourself feeling sad while on social media? When was your last social media purge?

Ted Talk Friday: The harm reduction model of drug addiction treatment

The public health model of harm-reduction is one of the most powerful, and controversial, models I know of. While it might seem counterintuitive to provide the tools to use safely, think about addiction–addiction is a mental illness. If there are drugs available, addicts will seek them out, whether they can use them safely or what. Learn more about Harm Reduction here and watch the talk below to understand its value:





What  do you think of the harm reduction model?