Researchers may have spotted a secret weapon in the fight against loneliness.

Feeling connected to our world could be just a daydream away.

"The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness."

That's a quote from journalist and activist Norman Cousins. I think he was onto something.

I would argue the most ironic thing about that eternal quest Cousins speaks of is that so many of us are on it. Together. And in the U.S., a growing number seem to be (unfortunately) joining in on the journey.


A 2010 survey found that 35% of American adults over the age of 45 reported being lonely — up from 20% roughly three decades ago, according to Slate. That's not just cause for concern over America's mental health, either — feeling socially isolated increases our chances of dying prematurely, too.

Photo via Thinkstock.

Fortunately, though, we might have uncovered a secret weapon in the fight against loneliness.

And (awesomely enough) it may live within our own imaginations.

A new study by researchers at the University of Sheffield and the University of Sussex in the U.K. found that daydreaming about loved ones may "significantly [increase] feelings of connection, love, and belonging."

In case you're wondering how they got to that conclusion...

  1. Participants (143 students and staff at a British university) all underwent a "loneliness induction," where they answered several questions to gauge how lonely they were. Regardless of their actual answers, each participant was falsely told their score made them "much more lonely than average."
  2. Participants were then separated into three groups: social daydreamers, non-social daydreamers, and a control group.
  3. Both daydreamer groups were instructed to, of course, do just that — daydream. The social daydreamers, however, were asked to imagine a scenario where they were "interacting with another person that [they] have a close, positive, relationship with," while the non-social daydreamers were asked to imagine a scenario that "should just be about [them]." The control group simply did a memory exercise.
  4. Based on answers provided before the loneliness induction, after the loneliness induction, and after the daydreaming task, researchers concluded that those in the daydreaming groups felt a heightened sense of social connection over the control group — especially the social daydreamers.

Photo via Thinkstock.

Like all studies, we should consider the constraints that prevent it from perfectly reflecting reality. Because many respondents were university students, the average participant age was a relatively young 23 years. The sample group was also disproportionately female, as 87 of the 143 participants were women.

Despite the study's limitations, its findings suggest daydreaming could play a role in bettering our cognitive health.

"These findings demonstrate that through imagination, social daydreaming can replenish connectedness, providing a potential strategy for enhancing socio-emotional well-being."

It's nice to know that even just the thought of my friends and family may help me feel even more a part of this big, bustling world of ours. Sweet (day)dreams!

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

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via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

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Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

U.S. men's and women's soccer teams will now receive equal pay.

The U.S. women's national soccer team (USWNT) is the winningest women's soccer team on Earth, holding four FIFA World Cup titles, four Olympic gold medals and eight CONCACAF Gold Cups. In the three years following their 2015 World Cup win, the women's team also generated more game revenue than the U.S. men's national soccer team (USMNT).

The U.S. men's national soccer team team, on the other hand, has never won a World Cup and has brought in less game revenue than the women's team in recent years. And yet, players on the women's team have continued to get paid thousands of dollars less than their male counterparts. This pay discrepancy resulted in two major lawsuits against the U.S. Soccer Federation, one by five women's players in 2016 and one by 28 players in 2019.

In February 2022, a settlement was reached, which has the U.S. Soccer Federation paying $22 million in back pay to the women's team players. And on May 18, U.S. Soccer Federation announced a deal that will have players for the USMNT and USWNT being paid equally until at least 2028.

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Photo from Upworthy Library

A proud sloth dad was caught on camera.

Teddy the two-toed sloth has become a proud papa and thanks to a video posted by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, we all get to witness the adorable reunion with his newborn son.

Mama sloth, aka Grizzly, gave birth to their healthy little one in Feb 2022, which delighted more than 3,000 people on Facebook.



The video, posted to the Florida zoo’s YouTube page, shows Grizzly slowly climbing toward her mate, who is at first blissfully unaware as he continues munching on leaves. Typical dad.

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