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A charity put her face on a poster and told all of London her secret. How would you have handled it?

I know Ruby Wax takes it seriously, otherwise she wouldn't have devoted her life to it. But I think her ability to joke about mental illness helps fight the stigma.

A charity put her face on a poster and told all of London her secret. How would you have handled it?

"I said, 'Yeah,' and I thought it was going to be a tiny fingernail clipping of a picture, but they were huge posters all over the U.K. — gigantic."

What is neuroplasticity?

Neuroplasticity in adults is burgeoning area of brain research that studies how adult brains learn and adapt to their environments — especially when it's injured somehow. It's trying to determine whether the brain is more like a bone (something that stops growing at adulthood and never grows again) or more like a muscle (something that get bigger, smaller, stronger, or weaker based on use).

So far, much of the research is showing that the brain is like a muscle you can train.

So if you work hard to learn the roads and landmarks of London, the part of your brain responsible for memory and navigation may get physically larger. But what about other parts of your brain?


But the power of changeable brain is not an infinite brain.

While some brain function can be restored after certain types of brain damage, neuroplasticity researchers are not sure the brain can recover from anything. Some types of brain damage are simply permanent even with time and treatment.

How can this help people like Ruby Wax who live with mental illness?

Researchers are finding that people with mental health issues like depression, addiction, and schizophrenia, are experiencing the flip side of neuroplasticity: Parts of their brains are shrinking or otherwise becoming less effective. In conjunction with standard treatments like therapy or medication, certain brain-stimulating activities seem to slow or reverse this "negative neuroplasticity."

So should I start exercising my brain?

The research doesn't indicate that it's as easy as looking at more things to get a bigger thalamus the way you would do more sit-ups to develop your abs. But if you want to have a stronger brain, several activities seem to make the brain faster, stronger, and more resilient.

But what about brain games?

The only peer-reviewed studies on the effect of brain games seem to be those commissioned and paid for by Lumosity, the leading brain game company. But that doesn't mean the research is bad; they've been working with some of America's most prestigious universities and hospitals.

Though the jury is still out on the myriad apps that purport to make you smarter, the research is promising. Even if regular cognitive "exercise" doesn't change the physiology of your brain, it certainly seems to have an effect on how well you think.

Photo: Canva

We're nearly a year into the pandemic, and what a year it has been. We've gone through the struggles of shutdowns, the trauma of mass death, the seemingly fleeting "We're all in this together" phase, the mind-boggling denial and deluge of misinformation, the constantly frustrating uncertainty, and the ongoing question of when we're going to get to resume some sense of normalcy.

It's been a lot. It's been emotionally and mentally exhausting. And at this point, many of us have hit a wall of pandemic fatigue that's hard to describe. We're just done with all of it, but we know we still have to keep going.

Poet Donna Ashworth has put this "done" feeling into words that are resonating with so many of us. While it seems like we should want to talk to people we love more than ever right now, we've sort of lost the will to socialize pandemically. We're tired of Zoom calls. Getting together masked and socially distanced is doable—we've been doing it—but it sucks. In the wintry north (and recently south) the weather is too crappy to get together outside. So many of us have just gone quiet.

If that sounds like you, you're not alone. As Ashworth wrote:

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Courtesy of Creative Commons
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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

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I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

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via Walt Disney Television / Flickr and jilhervas / Flickr

There comes a moment in everyone's social media life when they get stressed because they've been followed by an authority figure. When your boss, mother, or priest starts following you, social media immediately becomes a lot less fun.

When that happens, it's time to stop posting photos of yourself partying it up with an adult beverage. You gotta hold back on some of your saltier takes, and you have to start minding your language. Also, you have to be very careful about the posts you're tagged in.

Model, TV personality, and author Chrissy Teigen has been suffering through a mega-dose of this form of social media stress since January 20 when President Joe Biden followed her on Twitter. His follow came after Teigen made the request.

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