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Here's a mysterious-looking critter. Its name is Anxiety.

It looks like some sort of pest that'd hide out in the corners of your house and pop out whenever it wanted, causing you to feel a bit uneasy. You know, a little bit how anxiety can work in real life.


Just wait until you meet Depression.

It's "like a slump in fabric form," says creator Emily Monaghan.

Indeed, it is.

These critters are part of The Real Monsters project, and they're getting people to talk about mental health. Because, let's be real, it's hard to talk about.

Based on the 2013 digital series by Toby Allen, The Real Monsters is exploring mental health conditions through unique and thoughtful character designs — both digitally and, now, thanks to Monaghan, in soft, huggable form.

It poses an interesting question: What if mental health conditions were like visible monsters that hung around humans every day?

It'd probably make mental health easier to talk about.

Through characters, conditions like avoidant personality disorder...

...can now be more approachable and comfortable to talk about.


And that's exactly what Toby and Emily hope to achieve by tackling the stigma surrounding mental health.

Emily's launched a Kickstarter to help bring the critters to people all over the place. They're a great conversation starter.

"Whenever I showed the prototypes to friends, family or students, it would always prompt people to talk about their own experiences with mental illness - their own, or members of their family," she writes.

Imagine how productive the plush toys would be in a classroom setting or to help family members better understand a loved one's mental health condition.

So far there are four monsters available: Anxiety, Depression, Avoidant Personality Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder. But Toby has designed about 20 monsters, including Bipolar, Selective Mutism, PTSD, and more. You can help decide the next round of plush toys to be created through the Kickstarter page.

"I hope that together, we can play a small part in reducing the stigma, by making invisible conditions a bit more visible."

And huggable, too. The Real Monsters are unique, smart, and starting very important conversations. A big step in the right direction!

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

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She's enjoying the big benefits of some simple life hacks.

James Clear’s landmark book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide. The book is incredibly popular because it has a simple message that can help everyone. We can develop habits that increase our productivity and success by making small changes to our daily routines.

"It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis,” James Clear writes. “It is only when looking back 2 or 5 or 10 years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”

His work proves that we don’t need to move mountains to improve ourselves, just get 1% better every day.

Most of us are reluctant to change because breaking old habits and starting new ones can be hard. However, there are a lot of incredibly easy habits we can develop that can add up to monumental changes.

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