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A man having some serious confusion brought on by brain rot.

Do you ever feel like your brain has turned to hamburger? You have difficulty concentrating, mental fogginess and zero attention span. That is a condition known as “brain rot.” Although it isn’t a medical term, plenty of research shows that overstimulation from spending too much time scrolling through social media can create a mushy mental state.

It makes complete sense that spending too much time scrolling through TikTok should break your brain because it evolved to hunt and gather on the African Savannah, not to endlessly scroll through Instagram reels.

When your brain feels like it has disintegrated into yogurt and you can’t muster up a cogent thought, you’re probably having trouble with executive functioning, which consists of your working memory, mental elasticity and self-control. Studies have shown that people who are addicted to social media have trouble with trouble sleeping as well.

Difficulty sleeping can exacerbate mental fogginess, making the brain fog even worse.

How do you know if you’re addicted to social media? If you get seriously agitated when you can’t scroll on your favorite apps or if it’s getting in the way of other hobbies, activities, or responsibilities.

It may seem like scrolling through your phone is a harmless activity, but it’s so enjoyable because it causes some strong neurochemical reactions in your brain.

Scrolling through social media triggers the release of dopamine, a neurochemical that creates feelings of satisfaction and pleasure. The more you scroll, the more you crave it. Your brain links scrolling with gratification, even if you know it has adverse effects. Over time, this can lead to a behavioral addiction.

When people spend too much time on their phones, it can rewire their reward centers so that getting positive mental dopamine rewards from rewarding things such as working on a hobby or hanging out with people in real life becomes less pleasurable than scrolling, posting and getting likes.

Brain scans of people who are addicted to social media resemble those of drug addicts.

When all of this information is taken together, it’s clear that the little phone in our pocket can tremendously impact our ability to think, feel and interact with the real world. So what can we do?

If you feel like your brain has become as helpful as an old catcher’s mitt, it’s probably time to put your phone down and touch grass, work on a non-digital hobby, or have coffee with a friend.

According to the American Psychological Association, enjoying nature is one of the best ways to overcome a sluggish mind. “There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well­being,” says Lisa Nisbet, PhD, a psychologist at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, who studies the benefits of people connecting with nature. “You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even in urban nature. And the sense of connection you have with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature.”


Hayden Panettiere proves that doing what's best for your child isn't always what's easy

Sometimes a parent's love looks like giving up to others, but it's far from it.

Hayden Panettiere proves what's best isn't always easy.

Parenting isn't always easy. I don't think there's a single person on this planet that would proclaim it's easy to parent a child and to parent that child well. But there's an additional layer to trying to be a good parent when you're also struggling with addiction. Hayden Panettiere knows that struggle all too well and recently went on Red Table Talk to discuss her life and the difficult decision she had to make when it came to parenting her daughter.

Panettiere has a 7-year-old daughter that she shares with her ex-husband Wladimir Klitschko, a world heavyweight boxing champion from Ukraine. When discussing her daughter on Red Table Talk she revealed that she signed over full custody to her ex-husband while she was struggling with her sobriety. While Panettiere feels she had little choice at the time due to how it was presented, she also explained her decision wouldn't have changed because it was best for her daughter at the time.

Panettiere isn't the first person to have to make a decision around caring for her child and caring for herself, it's a common thing that many parents struggle with. You don't have to be a parent in recovery to have an idea of how difficult that decision is for someone. A common theme in mom groups online is the guilt that comes with taking time to care for yourself so you can properly care for your children, so having to make a decision like that on a larger scale is heartbreaking.

Addiction in America is a real problem, whether it be something harder like methamphetamine and opioids, or something that seems innocuous like "mommy wine culture." It's an issue that hundreds of thousands of people face a day, and sometimes it results in people giving up their children by choice or by force. No matter which way a parent comes to be without their child, it's difficult, so Panettiere sharing her story so publicly can only help others who are struggling with the decision.

Admitting that you're not in the place to take care of your child is powerful because you're saying "I love my child enough to not intentionally or unintentionally cause them harm due to my addiction. I love them enough to care for myself so I can show up how they need me." There's strength in that decision and if we as society can talk about that more, it could be life-changing for those struggling with addiction.

Panettiere pointed how publications would make it seem that she simply gave her child away as if there wasn't deep thought and heartbreak in the decision. But there shouldn't be stigma attached to a mother doing what's best for her child, even though there is, and with the stigma comes guilt. No parent should feel guilty for taking care of themselves, even if it means they have to step back from being an active parent.

No matter if you're a celebrity or a suburban parent that has difficulty maintaining sobriety, a healthy parent who visits when they can is better than one that lost the battle of addiction. Everyone wants to root for people to get sober, but we also have to stand behind them when they make the difficult decision to step away from parenting to put all of their focus on healing. Respecting the entire process may save lives and end stigmas.

Photo by Inspa Makers on Unsplash

Powerful animation about addiction.

Nearly everyone is touched by addiction in some way. It could be someone you know, someone you work with or yourself. Most people have been exposed to addiction at some level, but understanding how it occurs and then takes hold can be tough. This short animation titled "Nuggets" by Andreas Hykade dives directly into what addiction feels like for the addict, all without saying a word.

The animation is of a kiwi, a bird that has almost nonexistent wings, wandering around before coming to a gold bubble of liquid on the ground. The curious bird takes a drink of the liquid before the once flightless bird takes off into the air. The symbolism of the bird missing its wings is powerful as it allows the creator to show the contrast of flight. But it doesn’t take long before the flights don’t last as long as they did the first time and the world isn’t so bright anymore. This video is very effective as a means for others to understand the addiction cycle and possibly evoke empathy for people who are in the middle of an active addiction.

Addiction is pervasive and causes trauma for everyone involved in the person’s life, including the person themselves. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2015, 4% of Americans met the criteria for drug use disorder in the past year and 10% had had a drug use disorder at some point in their lives. A cartoon like "Nuggets" can really do wonders for understanding addiction.

This powerful short film was originally created in 2014 and is now being revived by shares on TikTok. Hopefully Hykade will do a follow-up animation to depict recovery. So many experiences can be empathized with through film and seeing this animation is a wonderful example of that.

Macklemore and CLEAN Cause's "Drink to This" video series supports addiction recovery.

When visions align, partnerships become powerful catalysts for change.

Grammy award winning musician Macklemore (Ben Haggerty), a long-time advocate for recovery, has teamed up with CLEAN Cause, a beverage company dedicated to helping individuals find freedom from substance abuse.

CLEAN Cause donates 50% of its net profits (or 5% net revenues, whichever is greater) to fund sober living scholarships.

This type of financial support helps rebuild stability, something that's crucial during the recovery process. And as the second ranking yerba mate beverage company, that’s no small sum.

Nearly 3,000 scholarships have already been financially backed, amounting to close to $1.5 million.

Stepping into the role of CLEAN Cause’s new creative director, Haggerty will lend not only his artistic vision, but his own personal mission to raise awareness.

CLEAN Cause's first bit of content with the Macklemore stamp will be a touching series aptly titled “Drink To This,” where real people share their unique (and yet universal) stories of recovery.

Though the series has not dropped yet, you can get a taste for it in the video below:

In the video, we see people raise a glass (or can, rather) to things both simple and profound, and often taken for granted: family, health, peace of mind, second chances and healing, to name a few.

And of course, there's a heartfelt nod to the clarity of sobriety. All set to Haggerty’s distinctly soulful piano music.

The real triumph of this piece is that we see the road to recovery does not have to be a bleak, arduous task. And it is not reserved for the lucky few.

The people in this video come in all shapes and sizes. But one defining trait is shared: They all carry a sort of heroic grace, the kind only possessed by those who truly journeyed through darkness into light.

That kind of transformation is nothing short of inspiring.

The video ends with voice of Macklemore saying:

"To anyone in recovery ... to anyone who loves someone in recovery ... to anyone who needs recovery ... to anyone, anywhere, on the road to recovery ... to anyone who wants to help those in recovery ... drink to this."

It's simple, powerful and moving. And I cannot wait to see more.

In a recent press release, Haggerty shared his own motivations behind the partnership:

“I chose to align with and endorse a Brand that is at the forefront of creating awareness for addiction and actively supporting the recovery community. As Creative Director and a new investor of the already impactful brand, I am excited to combine my creative passions with a great product in an effort to save lives. Together, our goal is to inspire and educate individuals on addiction and support those who are in recovery.”

The famed rapper has been candid about his own journey with substance abuse, not only through his music, but in interviews as well. He even recently opened up about a relapse during the pandemic on an episode of Dax Shepard’s podcast, “Armchair Expert.”

Haggerty is not an isolated case of relapse. The American Medical Association reports that every state in the U.S. has had an increase in overdoses and drug-related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Addiction is already closely linked with loneliness, only to be exacerbated by stresses of the pandemic. Now more than ever, hope, support and empowerment are vital, making this new collaboration incredibly timely.

If you are wanting to help support CLEAN Cause, you can find their beverages at multiple retailers.

And if you’re currently in recovery and seeking support, you can apply for a scholarship here.