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mental health day, self-care
Photo by Darwin Vegher on Unsplash

With one turn of the wheel, my dad taught me a lesson about self-care in high school that I'll never forget.

When I was in high school, I woke up one morning feeling overwhelmed. I was an honors student, I was involved in various activities and clubs, and for whatever reason, I felt thoroughly unprepared for the day. I don't recall if I had a test or a presentation or if it was just a normal school day that I couldn't face—I just remember feeling like I'd hit a wall and couldn't make my mental gears turn right.

I usually walked the mile and a half to school, but I was running late so my dad offered to drive me. In the car, I tried to keep it together, but halfway to school, the tears started to fall. My dad looked over and asked if I was OK.

"I don't know," I sobbed. "I feel like … I just … I need a day."

He knew I wasn't sick. He could have told me to tough it out. He could have given me a pep talk. He could have forced me to go. But he didn't do any of those things.

With zero hesitation—and just a simple "OK"—he turned the car around and took me home.


I have no memory of what I did the rest of that day. Three decades later, the only thing that sticks out is the basic-but-profound lesson my dad instilled in me the moment he turned that steering wheel: It's totally OK to take care of yourself.

We talked about it briefly on the way home. As it turned out, he was also taking a "mental health day." My dad was a social worker, and as an adult, I can totally understand why he would need to take a random day off sometimes. But it didn't really matter what he did for a living. Most of us need an occasional mental health day—adults, teens and kids alike.

Some schools have begun incorporating this understanding into their school attendance policies. Utah passed a bill in 2018 that allows a mental health day to count as an excused absence from school. Oregon enacted a similar law in 2019 and Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Nevada and Virginia have followed suit.

“Mental health days are not only good for the practical aspect of giving young people a break," psychologist Caroline Clauss-Ehlers, Ph.D., told Healthline, "but they also validate that the community and society are saying, ‘We understand and we’re supporting you in this way.”

Occupational therapist Shelli Dry concurs, telling Healthline that acceptance of mental health days can help eliminate the stigma that often comes with mental illness.

“For schools to recognize that sometimes it’s better to take a mental health day than push through when you cannot seem to cope, is a tremendous support for students to feel understood and accepted, and [this, in turn, encourages] students to understand and accept themselves more,” she said.

Sometimes we forget how hard it is being a kid. In some ways, I think it's way harder than being an adult. Considering the fact that 1 in 6 kids between the ages of 6 and 17 experience a mental health disorder each year, we need to acknowledge that a lot of kids have days where they're struggling. But even kids who don't deal with mental illness sometimes need a down day. Modern life is busy and complex, no matter our age. Managing it all daily—and then also handling whatever extra stuff life throws at us—is a lot.

Part of good parenting is teaching kids to persevere through challenges, but encouraging perseverance has to be balanced with insight and wisdom. Sometimes kids might cry wolf, but it's important for parents to understand that kids might be dealing with more than we know. Sometimes kids need to be encouraged to dig deep for resilience. Sometimes kids have already been resilient for a long time and need a little time and space to just be.

My dad knew me. He understood that I wasn't just being lazy or trying to get out of doing something hard. He trusted me to know what I needed, which in turn taught me to listen to my inner alarm and trust myself. As a result, I've spent my adult life with a good sense of when I need to push through and when I need to pause and reset—a gift I'm immensely grateful for.

All of that said, this advice does come with a caveat. As a parent of kids who are learning to manage anxiety, mental health days can be a mixed bag. There's a difference between taking a mental health day because you really need it—which happens—and taking a mental health day to avoid facing fears—which also happens. Avoidance feels good in the moment but fuels anxiety in the long run, so parents and kids have to be aware of how the idea can be misused and unintentionally make certain mental health issues worse.

The bottom line, however, is that kids need breaks sometimes. And when you allow them to take an occasional day here and there to breathe, to do some self-care, to reconnect with themselves and reset their mental and emotional barometer, you teach them that their well-being matters. You teach them that it's OK to acknowledge when they've hit a limit and pause to recoup their strength.

It's OK to turn the car around when you know you need to. That's a lesson we all need to learn, and one we need to support with work and school policies in addition to internalizing individually. We're making some good strides toward that goal, and the sooner we all get on the same page, the better everyone's well-being will be.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

popular

Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

'I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.'

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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Education

How a 3,800-year-old stone tablet helped create modern legal systems

'Innocent until proven guilty' isn't that new of a concept.

Kind of looks like the Matrix code...

The modern justice system is certainly not without its flaws, however most can agree that the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is one that (when not abused) stands as the foundation of what fair due process looks like. This principle, it turns out, isn’t so modern at all. It can actually be traced all the way back to nearly 3,800 years ago.

historyLady Justice, the image of impartial fairness. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

English barrister Sir William Garrow is known for coining the "innocent until proven guilty" phrase between the 18th and 19th century, after insisting that evidence be provided by accusers and thoroughly tested in court. But this notion, as radical as it seemed at the time, can, in fact, be credited to an ancient Babylonian king who ruled Mesopotamia.

During his reign from 1792 to 1750 B.C., Hammurabi left behind a legacy of accomplishments as a ruler and a diplomat. His most influential contribution was a series of 282 laws and regulations that were painstakingly compiled after he sent legal experts throughout his kingdom to gather existing laws, then adapted or eliminated them in order to create a universal system.

Those laws were inscribed on a large, seven-foot stone monument, and they were known as the Code of Hammurabi.

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Pop Culture

TikTok star's surprising method for finding good Chinese food is blowing people's minds

Yelp can be a helpful tool for scoping out food joints, but maybe not in the way you think.

Photo by Debbie Tea on Unsplash

Different cultures view service differently.

Content creator Freddy Wong has a brilliantly easy way to find authentic Chinese food.

As he reveals in a mega viral video that’s racked up 9.4 million views on TikTok and 7.7 million views on Twitter, the trick (assuming you live in a major metropolitan area) is to “go on Yelp and look for restaurants with 3.5 stars, and exactly 3.5 stars." Not 3. Not 4. 3.5.

He then backs up his argument with some pretty undeniable photo evidence.

First, he pulls up an image of a Yelp page from P.F. Chang’s. With only 2.5 stars, one can tell the food is “obviously bad.” Alternatively, Din Tai Fung—a globally recognized Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant—has four stars.

Sounds good right? Wrong. In this case, “too many stars” means that “too many white people like it,” indicating that the restaurant is being judged on service rather than food quality. According to Wong, if “the service is too good, the food is not as good as it could be.”

He then pulls up the Yelp page for a couple of local Chinese restaurants, both of which have 3.5 stars. The waiters at these establishments might “not pay attention to you,” he admits, adding that they might even be “rude.” But, Wong attests, “it’s going to taste better.”

@rocketjump

Why I only go to Chinese restaurants with 3.5 star ratings

♬ original sound - RocketJump

"The dumplings here are better [than Din Tai Fung's]. I've been here," he says of the 3.5 star Shanghai Dumpling House. Considering his Twitter profile boasts a “James Beard Award winning KBBQ Gourmand'' title, it seems like he knows what he’s talking about.

So, why is this 3.5 rule the “sweet spot”? As Wong explains, it all comes down to different “cultural expectations.”

“In Asia, they’re not as proactive. They’re not going to come up to you, they’re not going to just proactively give you refills, you need to flag down the waiter,” he says, noting the different interpretations of service.

"People on Yelp are insufferable,” he continues, arguing that “they're dinging all these restaurants because the service is bad,” but the food is so good that it balances out the bad service. Hence, a 3.5-star rating. His reasoning is arguably sound—people do often give absurdly scathing reviews that in no way accurately reflect a restaurant’s food quality.

“A good Yelp review doesn’t mean it’s a good restaurant — it simply means the restaurant is good at doing things that won’t hurt their online rating,” Wong said in an interview with Today, adding that “highly rated Yelp restaurants are often those with counter service and limited menus, minimizing potential negative interaction with staff.”

He also added the caveat, “I don’t have anything against those places, but I think people who only eat at the ‘highest rated’ restaurants on online review sites are only eating at the most boring restaurants.”

A ton of people in the comments seem to back Wong’s theory.

best chinese food

100% accurate, some say

TikTok

Plus, the theory seems to not be limited to just Chinese restaurants, further implying that maybe there’s more of a cultural misunderstanding, rather than any real lack of quality.

thai food near me

No drink refills but the food is fire.

TikTok

yelp reviews, yelp

2.8 is the new 5

TikTok

One of the gifts that our modern world provides is the opportunity to truly experience and appreciate other cultures. Since food is easily one of the most accessible (and enjoyable) ways to do that, perhaps we should prioritize seeking authenticity, rather than rely on a flawed and superficial rating system.

As Wong told Today, “I hope it encourages people to go out and eat more food from not only Chinese restaurants, but restaurants representing the whole world of cultural cuisines.”