Summer is officially here, and one thing's for certain:

GIF via "Scrubs."


And while summer and warm weather typically go hand in metaphorical hand, this heat is unprecedented.

For days, the southwest U.S. has seen record-setting temperatures with highs reminiscent of a pre-heating oven.

Tucson, Arizona, hit 115 degrees on June 19, 2016, breaking a more than 20-year-old heat record. And Southern California is facing wildfires, too, as rising temperatures fan the flames.

A plane drops fire retardant in the Angeles National Forest in Southern California. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

Heatwaves are more than a sweaty struggle, though — they can be really dangerous.

When it comes to extreme temperatures, it can be difficult to know how our bodies will react, and situations can go from "just fine" to "catastrophic" in a matter of minutes. In mid-June, intense temperatures claimed the lives of hikers on four different trails in Arizona.

"It really shows how critical this heat can be and how it can really sneak up on you," Capt. Larry Subervi, a spokesman for the Phoenix Fire Department told The Arizona Republic.

Whether you're in the Southwest or waging your own battle with the sun, here are 11 easy (and affordable) ways to beat the heat and stay safe.

1. Ice cream. The answer is always ice cream.

This may seem like a pretty vanilla solution, but when it comes to the rocky roads of summer heat, don't drive yourself bananas. Just dish up some ice cream (or sorbet or ice pops) and wait this whole thing out.

GIF via Pusheen.

2. Dress for sun success — sun-cess, if you will.

As the temperature rises, think light: Swap heavy, dark colored clothes for lighter alternatives like linen, jute, or even cotton. Thinner, lighter fabrics will keep you cool and absorb less heat. And don't forget your hat!

3. Visit a community cooling station.

In periods of blistering heat, local communities, churches, and nonprofit organizations will often organize temporary cooling and hydration stations. These shelters offer bottled water and a safe place to cool off. Some even provide sunscreen, hats, and bandannas, anything to protect people from the heat.

A young girl takes a break at a Chicago cooling station. Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images.

4. Eat something spicy.

This may sound silly, but eating spicy food can actually keep you cool. It's a peculiar phenomenon called gustatory sweating. The condensed version: You eat spicy foods, your start to sweat, and as that sweat evaporates, you cool off. One the one hand, it can be time consuming, but on the other hand, tacos.

5. Or drink something mild.

The menthol found in mint can trick our brains into thinking we're cold, so a cup of iced peppermint tea can be the perfect refreshment on a hot day. And drinking plenty of water is absolutely vital. Staying hydrated is key to preventing heat illnesses.

Photo (cropped) by Esad Hajderevic/Flickr.

6. Go ahead, take a day off ... from strenuous exercise that is.

Are you one of those people who runs everyday or is just a mess without your daily bicycle commute? Physical fitness is great, but when heat strikes, exercising outside can be dangerous. Skip the outdoor workout, or if you can, move it to the gym. If you simply have to get outdoors, go before sunrise or at dusk.

GIF via "Harvey Beaks."

7. Be a fan's biggest fan.

Fans are an affordable, mobile, way to deliver cool air just where you want it, which is often more cost-effective than cooling down your entire home.

GIF via "The Simpsons."

8. Freeze your way to a good night's sleep.

Fold your pillowcase and slip it into a plastic bag. Place it in the freezer, and put it back on your pillow just before bed. The cooling sensation won't last all night, but the burst of cold may be just enough to help you get some rest.

GIF via "Monsters Inc."

9. Go ahead and be shady.

Keep your home cool by drawing blinds and shades when the sun is out. When you're ready for new ones, pick lights colors that reflect heat.

Photo (cropped) by Shayak Sen/Flickr.

10. Get your fill of free AC and entertainment at the movies.

OK, so you have to pay to get in, but once you do, you've got hours of uninterrupted, conditioned air in a big, dark room watching (hopefully) an entertaining, (or at the very least) loud story. Trying to save some dough? See a matinee, and check your local theater for weekday specials.

See also your local bowling alley or museum. GIF via Cartoon Network.

11. When all else fails, get more ice cream.

It's hot out there, and you've earned it.

GIF via "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt."

However you cool off this summer, stay safe, look out for your friends and neighbors, and have fun.

Because all the sweating aside, that's what this season is all about.

Connections Academy

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

True

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.

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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Photo by TR on Unsplash

Companies and organizations are on the side of their employees in light of stricter abortion laws.

The leak from the Supreme Court about overturning Roe v. Wade caused many people with uteruses to go into a tailspin. People began scheduling appointments for long-term birth control. Some opted for permanent birth control. Others stocked up on Plan B or called in preemptive prescriptions for the abortion pill mifepristone. In addition to making tangible plans for what the future might hold in some of these trigger states, people took to the streets to make their voices heard. Protests were held across America against the proposed overturning of Roe v. Wade, which protects people’s right to abortion under the 14th Amendment.

People are also organizing over social media. They’re helping locate nonprofits that will help cover the cost of travel from a restricted state to states where abortion will remain legal. Secret Facebook groups are popping up to help arrange transportation and accommodations for those who need access to safe reproductive care. People are coming together in ways you see in movies, all in an effort to prevent inevitable deaths that would occur if people attempt home abortions. It’s both heartwarming and heart-wrenching that this is something that needs to be done at all. It doesn’t stop with determined activists and housewives across the country, this fiery spirit has reached corporations as well.

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That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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