If you're a chronic worrier, here's what you should know about your brain.

I worry a lot. I worry about my friends, my health, my planet. Heck, I worry about worrying too much.

Image from iStock.

It can keep me up at night wondering whether I've ruined my shoes by buying shoe polish, or it can make me read that one email 10 times before sending it off. It can be tempting to hate my brain for worrying so much.


Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh on myself. Every human being worries. And it turns out, worrying can have some surprising upsides, as professor Kate Sweeny recently wrote. So if you're the kind of person who worries about worrying, here are two big things to remember, courtesy of Sweeny:

1. Worrying is a track coach, keeping our brains active and motivated.

Image from iStock.

Nobody would hate their brains for making them feel scared when there's a big, obvious danger. Like an angry tiger. Or a bear. Or an angry tiger riding a bear. In that case, we need an immediate motivator for an immediate problem.

But our brains need a subtler response to subtler problems. Worry and anxiety can help our brains recognize and focus on long-term problems or motivate us to make better choices, like wearing our seat belts or applying sunscreen to avoid skin cancer.

2. Worrying is an emotional cushion, making our highs higher and lows not as bad.

Image from iStock.

Though worrying itself is unpleasant, it can help balance out our other emotions. One study showed the BBC television sitcom "Fawlty Towers" got funnier after watching a tense horror movie.

On the flip side, if things end up going south, your brain has already prepared itself. So worrying can be an emotional win-win.

But like all things, there's a right amount.

While a little worry can help us stay motivated, too much can paralyze us and can be a sign of anxiety disorders. If that's what's going on, taking a break from Facebook, practicing meditation, exercising, and talking with a therapist can all help reduce anxiety.

So, biologically, don't hate your brain for worrying.

Worry can be stressful. It's not fun to stay awake thinking about what you're going to say to your boss on Monday, whether you're eating right, or whether you're being a good friend. You might find yourself beset by worries at the worst time.

And that's OK. We can't always control our brains, but we worrywarts don't always need to feel bad for worrying. Sometimes it's our brain just helping us out.

Family

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture