The University of Wisconsin Madison Police Department posted an article this week about safety tips on campus and, of course, people are manufacturing reasons to get mad about it.
I really do mean manufacturing. These are really simple and effective safety tips that are not aimed specifically at women or the issue of campus rape. The only offensive thing about the article was the original title, “Shedding the Victim Persona: Staying Safe On Campus.” Once it was brought to the UWPD’s attention that “victim persona” unduly puts blame on victims for the crimes committed against them, they changed the title (albeit not the URL) to “Tools You Can Use: Staying Safe On Campus.” Voilà. They did their part to correct bad language. When contacted about the article, they stood by it as useful information for everyone. Keep reading »
Oh thank goodness, someone finally says that mindfulness practice isn’t for everyone. Neuroscientist Catherine Kerr studies the effects of mindfulness practice on the brain, and is a practitioner herself, but denies that it is the emotional and scientific wonderdrug it’s been made out to be.
Kerr was an author on a 2005 paper that claimed, tentatively, that mindfulness meditation — basically, focusing one’s attention on the feelings, sensations and emotions in the present moment — increases the thickness of the cerebral cortex, which many news outlets jumped on as proof that meditation is absolutely an effective treatment for stress and depression for everyone. Kerr is much more reserved: There’s evidence that meditation is beneficial to brain function, but not enough to paint it in the unfalteringly positive light that some have done. Keep reading »
One of the focuses (focii?) of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project is figuring out how to break bad habits and moderate indulgences. Yesterday on the project’s blog, she talked about two different ways to manage temptations: Abstaining and moderating.
She describes author Delia Ephron as a “Moderator”: When she goes to bakeries, for example, she can take a few bites of whatever she buys, get bored with it, and throw the rest away (Ephron’s husband has named this “Discardia”). Moderators can indulge a little bit at a time, but they panic if they’re told that they absolutely can’t have something. Rubin describes herself, on the other hand, as an Abstainer: Abstainers have a hard time stopping once they’ve started, but find it easy to just totally cut themselves off from something, too. Keep reading »
I’ve had anxiety and depression for years, long before I started therapy and began taking medication under the advisement of a psychiatrist. I look back at my teenage and college years and see glaring signs that I was unhappy but didn’t know how to put it into words that anyone, including myself, could understand. Mental illness runs in my family, the most notable example being my dad, who died nearly two years ago from drug addiction, something that developed as a “coping” mechanism for his untreated mental health issues, if you ask me. I’ve taken my mental health very seriously as a result, as I’ve seen far too tragically what can happen if you don’t. I’ve been seeing the same bad ass therapist for eight years now and my prescription for Lexapro, an anxiety-focused anti-depressant, has helped clear the fog so that I can delve deep into the exacerbating issues. I think I’ve made an extraordinary amount of progress in that regard, though I’ve come to accept that a dull, ever-present level of sadness might always reside within me. In some ways, I’ve been oddly okay with that. As an extremely sensitive person, I don’t know that it would be physically/mentally possible for me to exist in this world, with all its terribleness, and feel completely happy. To me, the pursuit of total happiness is a blind one — to actually achieve it, you’d have to be just that. Blind.
With that said, I know enough about my brain chemistry to be aware of when I’m feeling an unhappiness that is outside the realm of what I consider normal. And for the last, oh, eight months to a year, it has become increasingly abnormal. Keep reading »