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Feeling the winter blues right now? You're not alone.

Depression grips everyone differently. To Trista Kempa, it means lying in bed and wishing she never woke up.

"It’s not that I wish I was dead," the 30-year-old New Yorker clarifies. "I just feel like I’m missing any feeling at all."

When Kempa was a college student living in Michigan, a doctor told her she she may have seasonal affective disorder — a form of depression, fittingly dubbed "SAD," that typically strikes when the days grow shorter in fall and winter. For patients, a persistent decrease in sunlight exposure may cause mood swings, energy loss, increased anxiety, and more.

It's the winter blues on steroids.



GIF by Emma Darvick.


To this day, however, Kempa's not even entirely sure she has SAD — or ever legitimately had it. And she's not alone. For many patients, and even for the doctors treating them, it's no easy task to identify seasonal depression with complete certainty. SAD, like most mental illnesses, can be a labyrinth to navigate — but you and your mental health are worth it.

Here are three things you should keep in mind when it comes to staying on top of your mental health during winter:

1. Many of us haven't warmed up to the idea that less sunlight can mess with our mental health. But we should.

Research has found seasonal depression is certainly real for millions of people, according to Norman Rosenthal, who first described SAD in a 1984 medical journal. Yet, "get some sunlight" fails to make it on most of our to-do lists.

"The mind naturally gravitates to psychological explanations for why one is feeling bad," he explains. It’s not intuitive to link a lack of sun exposure to our deteriorating mood. So we don't.

We tend to solely blame outside stressors — like breakups or career changes — and not even consider that short, dark days could be doing us harm too. Compounded with the general stigma that often accompanies any mental illness, many people are hesitant to acknowledge SAD's legitimacy.

"I was afraid of being weird, of seeing a therapist, of having an issue," Kempa says after having been told she may have SAD. "The stigma was very real for me."

2. Sorting out your own winter blues may not be so black and white. And that's OK.

Say it's mid-January. You've been feeling lethargic for weeks on end. You're craving sweets and starches, and your sleeping habits are out of whack. You undoubtedly have SAD, and you're stuck with it for life. Right?

“Oftentimes, it’s not that simple," says Rosenthal.

A spectrum exists when it comes to extreme SAD and mild winter depression, and patients may find themselves at various points on that scale depending on the year. While the American Academy of Family Physicians estimates about 4-6% of the population has SAD and another 10-20% has more subtle symptoms associated with the winter blues, Rosenthal says external stress and geography (distance from the equator affects the length of daylight) play roles in if and how severe you experience SAD.

One winter, for example, someone may be living in sunny San Diego and have low stress in their private and professional lives. The next winter, they could be living in upstate New York, overwhelmed by work deadlines and personal hardships. The difference may well manifest in a person's mental health, says Rosenthal: "You can have the winter blues one year and then full blown SAD the next."

What's more, if a person lives with other mental health hurdles that aren't necessarily tied to the seasons, it can be even more difficult to sort through how they're feeling and why. Physicians may also find it difficult to confidently diagnose a person with SAD, seeing as many of the symptoms are similar to those associated with other forms of mental illness, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"I still don't really know [if] I ever had [SAD]," Kempa says. "When you’re diagnosed with depression, or anxiety, or SAD, or anything that is trying to pinpoint what’s going on with your brain, it’s just complicated. It’s hard to know exactly what it is."

It's important to be aware of all the factors that could be contributing to your winter woes — including the amount of sunlight you're getting.

3. The good news is, there are many things you can do to curb the worst effects of Old Man Winter.

“Whatever your degree to which you are affected, there are lots of things you can do about it," Rosenthal says. "You don’t have to suffer.”

Let start with the most obvious: Get outside during the day, if and when you can! When winter daylight is short, many leave for the office in darkness and commute home after the sun sets. The struggle is definitely real. But even a short, brisk walk outside on a lunch break can make a difference.

You could also create a "light room." Clean the window panes, open the blinds, trim the outside shrubbery, and make sure you have (at least) one space in your home that gets maximum sunlight. Shift as many daily activities — like reading, Netflix-ing, or hosting friends — to that room as you can, so you can take full advantage of the rays.

And if the real sun's just not cutting it at home, consider buying a sun lamp. According to the Cleveland Clinic, they're a safe way to help your body regulate melatonin and serotonin — hormones that aid in sleeping and stabilizing mood.  

It never hurts to bemindful of diet and exercise. Staying active and eating proteins and vegetables — and (sadly) avoiding sweets and carbs — can give you more energy throughout the day.

Of course, reaching out for help is always a great option too.

"Understanding mental health is really complicated," Kempa says, noting that because of supportive family and friends — and being more cognizant of what she's feeling — she's been in a great place for quite some time. "It’s not diabetes. It’s not a broken bone. You can’t just fix it. There’s no one-size-fits all drug or path to healing and wellness. I think this is what makes it all so daunting. And when you’re in it, it’s hard to put in the effort."

Sometimes we can't — or don't want to — do it all alone. And that's perfectly OK.

If you need help now, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. Read more about seasonal affective disorder at the Mayo Clinic.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Representative image from Canva

Because who can keep up with which laundry settings is for which item, anyway?

Once upon a time, our only option for getting clothes clean was to get out a bucket of soapy water and start scrubbing. Nowadays, we use fancy machines that not only do the labor for us, but give us free reign to choose between endless water temperature, wash duration, and spin speed combinations.

Of course, here’s where the paradox of choice comes in. Suddenly you’re second guessing whether that lace item needs to use the “delicates” cycle, or the “hand wash” one, or what exactly merits a “permanent press” cycle. And now, you’re wishing for that bygone bucket just to take away the mental rigamarole.

Well, you’re in luck. Turns out there’s only one setting you actually need. At least according to one laundry expert.

While appearing on HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast, Patric Richardson, aka The Laundry Evangelist, said he swears by the “express” cycle, as “it’s long enough to get your clothes clean but it’s short enough not to cause any damage.”

Richardson’s reasoning is founded in research done while writing his book, “Laundry Love,” which showed that even the dirtiest items would be cleaned in the “express” cycle, aka the “quick wash” or “30 minute setting.”


Furthermore the laundry expert, who’s also the host of HGTV’s “Laundry Guy,” warned that longer wash settings only cause more wear and tear, plus use up more water and power, making express wash a much more sustainable choice.

Really, the multiple settings washing machines have more to do with people being creatures of habit, and less to do with efficiency, Richardson explained.

“All of those cycles [on the washing machine] exist because they used to exist,” he told co-hosts Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson. “We didn’t have the technology in the fabric, in the machine, in the detergent [that we do now], and we needed those cycles. In the ’70s, you needed the ‘bulky bedding’ cycle and the ‘sanitary’ cycle ... it was a legit thing. You don’t need them anymore, but too many people want to buy a machine and they’re like, ‘My mom’s machine has “whitest whites.”’ If I could build a washing machine, it would just have one button — you’d just push it, and it’d be warm water and ‘express’ cycle and that’s it.”
washing machine

When was the last time you washed you washing machine? "Never" is a valid answer.

Canva

According to Good Housekeeping, there are some things to keep in mind if you plan to go strictly express from now on.

For one thing, the outlet recommends only filling the machine halfway and using a half dose of liquid, not powder detergent, since express cycles use less water. Second, using the setting regularly can develop a “musty” smell, due to the constant low-temperature water causing a buildup of mold or bacteria. To prevent this, running an empty wash on a hot setting, sans the detergent, is recommended every few weeks, along with regularly scrubbing the detergent drawer and door seal.

Still, even with those additional caveats, it might be worth it just to knock out multiple washes in one day. Cause let’s be honest—a day of laundry and television binging sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

To catch even more of Richardson’s tips, find the full podcast episode here.


This article originally appeared on 2.4.24

Doris Alikado talks about her personal experience of maternal health in Tanzania.

True
Stella Artois


Bathrobe. Socks. Insurance card. Snacks.

Sound at all familiar? Maybe, maybe not.


These items would commonly be found on a checklist of things that expecting parents should bring to the hospital with them — in the U.S., anyway.

environment, health, health wellbeing

Doing the checklist.

Image created from Pixabay.

But what is that list like in other parts of the world?

For Doris, that list included water.

Doris, who lives Morogoro, Tanzania, had to bring her own water to the health center where she was giving birth in 2014. The water she brought was used to clean the nurse's hands, clean the delivery area, and wash the babies (she had twins!). Unfortunately, the water Doris brought ran out before she was able to wash herself or her clothes, so she had to wait 24 hours before cleaning herself.

parenting, parenting and children, Tanzania

Doris and family lives in Morogoro, Tanzania.

via GQ/YouTube

I'll let Doris tell the story herself:

Lack of access to clean water in Tanzania is a very big deal.

Everything turned out alright for Doris and her babies, but thousands of other women aren't as lucky. But there are ways to help: Organizations and individuals are pitching in to help build water taps, rainwater tanks, and latrines in Tanzanian hospitals, and they're making a huge difference.

"I want to express my gratitude to the health workers ... because they have a great sense of humor with the patients. But the problem is the availability of enough water." — Doris Alikado


This article originally appeared on 03.26.15

Science

MIT’s trillion-frames-per-second camera can capture light as it travels

"There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

Photo from YouTube video.

Photographing the path of light.

A new camera developed at MIT can photograph a trillion frames per second.

Compare that with a traditional movie camera which takes a mere 24. This new advancement in photographic technology has given scientists the ability to photograph the movement of the fastest thing in the Universe, light.


The actual event occurred in a nano second, but the camera has the ability to slow it down to twenty seconds.

time, science, frames per second, bounced light

The amazing camera.

Photo from YouTube video.

For some perspective, according to New York Times writer, John Markoff, "If a bullet were tracked in the same fashion moving through the same fluid, the resulting movie would last three years."


In the video below, you'll see experimental footage of light photons traveling 600-million-miles-per-hour through water.

It's impossible to directly record light so the camera takes millions of scans to recreate each image. The process has been called femto-photography and according to Andrea Velten, a researcher involved with the project, "There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

(H/T Curiosity)


This article originally appeared on 09.08.17

New baby and a happy dad.


When San Francisco photographer Lisa Robinson was about to have her second child, she was both excited and nervous.

Sure, those are the feelings most moms-to-be experience before giving birth, but Lisa's nerves were tied to something different.

She and her husband already had a 9-year-old son but desperately wanted another baby. They spent years trying to get pregnant again, but after countless failed attempts and two miscarriages, they decided to stop trying.


Of course, that's when Lisa ended up becoming pregnant with her daughter, Anora. Since it was such a miraculous pregnancy, Lisa wanted to do something special to commemorate her daughter's birth.

So she turned to her craft — photography — as a way to both commemorate the special day, and keep herself calm and focused throughout the birthing process.

Normally, Lisa takes portraits and does wedding photography, so she knew the logistics of being her own birth photographer would be a somewhat precarious new adventure — to say the least.

pregnancy, hospital, giving birth, POV

She initially suggested the idea to her husband Alec as a joke.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"After some thought," she says, "I figured I would try it out and that it could capture some amazing memories for us and our daughter."

In the end, she says, Alec was supportive and thought it would be great if she could pull it off. Her doctors and nurses were all for Lisa taking pictures, too, especially because it really seemed to help her manage the pain and stress.

In the hospital, she realized it was a lot harder to hold her camera steady than she initially thought it would be.

tocodynamometer, labor, selfies

She had labor shakes but would periodically take pictures between contractions.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"Eventually when it was time to push and I was able to take the photos as I was pushing, I focused on my daughter and my husband and not so much the camera," she says.

"I didn't know if I was in focus or capturing everything but it was amazing to do.”

The shots she ended up getting speak for themselves:

nurse, strangers, medical care,

Warm and encouraging smiles from the nurse.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

experiment, images, capture, document, record

Newborn Anora's first experience with breastfeeding.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"Everybody was supportive and kind of surprised that I was able to capture things throughout. I even remember laughing along with them at one point as I was pushing," Lisa recalled.

In the end, Lisa was so glad she went through with her experiment. She got incredible pictures — and it actually did make her labor easier.

Would she recommend every mom-to-be document their birth in this way? Absolutely not. What works for one person may not work at all for another.

However, if you do have a hobby that relaxes you, figuring out how to incorporate it into one of the most stressful moments in your life is a pretty good way to keep yourself calm and focused.

Expecting and love the idea of documenting your own birthing process?

Take some advice from Lisa: "Don't put pressure on yourself to get 'the shot'" she says, "and enjoy the moment as much as you can.”

Lisa's mom took this last one.

grandma, hobby, birthing process

Mom and daughter earned the rest.

Photo via Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

This article originally appeared on 06.30.16

Constance Hall asks for domestic equality.


It's the 21st century, and as a civilization, we've come a long way. No, there are no flying cars (yet), but we all carry tiny supercomputers in our pockets, can own drones, and can argue with strangers from all around the world as long as they have internet access.

And yet women are still having to ask their partners to help out around the house. What gives?




Recently, Blogger Constance Hall went on a highly-relatable rant about spouses assuming responsibility for housework, and women everywhere are all, "🙌 🙌 🙌 ."


Recently while bitching about the fact that I do absolutely everything around my house with a bunch of friends all singing "preach Queen", someone said to me "if you want help you need to be specific... ask for it. People need lists, they aren't mind readers."

So I tried that, asking.. specifics..

"Can you take the bin out?"

"Can you get up with the kids? I'm just a little tired after doing it on my own for 329 years"

"Can you go to woolies? I've done 3 loads of washing and made breaky, lunch, picked up all the kids school books, dealt with the floating shit in the pond."

And yeah, she was right... shit got done.But I was exhausted, just keeping the balls in the air.. remembering what needs to be asked to be done, constant nagging..And do you know what happened the minute I stopped asking...?

NOTHING.Again.

And so I've come to the conclusion that it's not your job to ask for help, it's not my job to write fucking lists.

We have enough god dam jobs and teaching someone how to consider me and my ridiculous work load is not one of them.Just do it.Just think about each other, what it takes to run the god dam house.

Is one of you working while the other puts up their feet? Is one of you hanging out with mates while the other peels the thirtieth piece of fruit for the day? Is one of you carrying the weight?

Because when the nagging stops, when the asking dies down, when there are no more lists....All your left with is silent resentment. And that my friends is relationship cancer..It's not up to anyone else to teach you consideration.

That's your job.Just do the fucking dishes without being asked once in a while mother fuckers.

Hall's post touches on the concept of emotional labor, which can be defined as "the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job."

In other words, although Hall's partner may be the one carrying out the tasks she assigns him, it is still Hall's job to be the "manager" of the household, and keep track of what things need to get done. And anyone who runs a household knows that juggling and keeping track of chores is just as exhausting as executing them.

At time of publication, Hall's post was shared nearly 100,000 times. That's a lot of frustrated ladies!

When your girl Far Kew sends you the perfect present. You will find this and more cunty cups on her facebook page 👌🏽
Posted by Constance Hall on Thursday, November 30, 2017

Women in the comments section seemed to overwhelmingly agree with Hall's post.

Let's all learn to share the load...laundry and otherwise.


This article originally appeared on 08.27.18