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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Life

In Elemental. More on Medium.

It’s okay if your mental health is not bouncing back. Here’s why.

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At first, Lindsay Pearson felt hopeful. She was getting the Covid-19 vaccine, and case rates around the country were going down. The pandemic was, by many accounts, finally getting under control. Like many of us, Pearson, 23, who lives in Bakersfield, California, has had a miserable year — she has struggled with mental health problems her entire life, but being unable to work as an actress, her main creative and social outlet, made things so much worse. After Pearson got her first jab, she did feel some relief — until, suddenly, she didn’t. Her depression began to bear down on…


My Therapist Says

As the pandemic recedes, I’ve got to decide what kind of life I actually want to live

Illustration: Xinmei Liu for Elemental

When school let out for winter break of 2020, I finally started to lose my shit. It wasn’t the holidays, a possible election coup, my kids off Zoom school for a couple weeks, writing deadlines, managing my newsletter, or having to ready my online classes for a January 4 start date that had me at a breaking point. It was the upcoming vaccine rollout.

Everyone was starting to plan their vacations; schools were talking about bringing the kids back to campus; my partner was talking about going to a fall 2021 concert. Yet, I felt anxious. At the culmination of…


The connection between mind, body, posture, and stress

Image: Alexander Jawfox/Unsplash

If you’ve ever endured a nerve-racking situation followed by a throbbing noggin, it wouldn’t seem far-fetched to connect one with the other. Nearly one in four adults reports experiencing multiple headaches every year in the United States. The World Health Organization estimates 50% of all adults have at least one headache annually. Though there are over 150 types of headaches, tension headaches are the most common and often triggered by stress. Yet while doctors might agree the two can be linked, they still don’t understand exactly how.

Brian Cole, MD, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush…


Training your mind to find meaning in everyday life

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When was the last time you felt truly fulfilled? When your life felt meaningful and rewarding, or aligned with some deeper purpose or motivation? Take a moment to really think about that and observe what comes to mind. Most of us remember specific events when we think of life’s meaningful moments: the birth of a child, a major accomplishment, a rare moment in nature when all felt right with the world. These are the peak moments of life, and it’s true that they are also often the times when we feel truly fulfilled.

But these moments are aberrations.

We remember…


There are plenty of people whose health can’t afford a daily drink

Photo: Lisa Schaetzle/Getty Images

I am an alcoholic in recovery.

Before I quit drinking five years ago, I meandered through a slippery contemplation phase for several years. I knew I had a problem, but the perceived relief I got from drinking outweighed my desire to do something about my addiction. Instead, I tried to follow the safe drinking guidelines as a way to manage my relationship with alcohol.

Safe drinking is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. Moderate weekly drinking would then be less than seven drinks…


YOUR POOR PANDEMIC BRAIN

Your executive control center has helped your mental health survive the pandemic thus far. Here’s how to strengthen it for the future.

Illustration: Carolyn Figel

A lot has been written (including by this reporter) about the mental health toll of the pandemic, and for good reason. The latest numbers from the National Pulse Survey, a weekly mental health screen conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, estimate that nearly 40% of Americans are currently experiencing symptoms of either anxiety or depression, a 50% increase over pre-pandemic times.

In some ways, though, it’s surprising that this number isn’t even higher given the stress, trauma, loss, and loneliness of the past year. The vast majority of people have spent the last…


Monday Move

Is your butt dead? This move will bring it back to life.

I once worked out with a running coach who said that a huge chunk (scientific, I know!) of running injuries could be attributed to “dead butt” syndrome. It’s a real thing, and a diagnosis many runners have heard from sports medicine doctors and physical therapists. Here’s what happens: For those of us who spend much of our day seated, our gluteus medius muscles weaken. Over time they sort of “forget” how to switch on, which they need to do in order to keep our pelvis stable and our spine in proper alignment. For runners especially, this imbalance can force other…


Pandemic Reflections

I’ve made mistakes. We all have.

Photo: Emma Figuero/EyeEm/Getty Images

I’m a bit of a know-it-all. It comes with the territory of the job — I literally find out interesting things and then explain them to other people for a living. Depending on your view, I’m either the most fun at parties or the least fun at parties. At one event a few years ago, a good friend made the rule that if anyone had a fact-based question, they had to ask me first because I invariably (thought I) had the answer. It was the best night of my life.

With Covid-19, all of that came crashing down. I knew…


Pandemic Reflections

How the pandemic made time a treasure of the privileged while it was stolen from everyone else

Photo: Jocelyn Michel/Getty Images

The day we began sheltering in place, a year ago on March 13, we celebrated a family birthday. It was the first of five we would share in the coming year, in the same place, in what felt like the same eternal moment, because we’d lost all sense of time. With all of us working and learning at home, without our usual cues that the day had come and gone — a departure for work or school, an arrival back from the trenches — one day was much like any other.

In the first few weeks of shelter in place…


Pandemic Reflections

There is always a new voice, always a new idea. It never quiets here.

Photo: Pola Damonte/Getty Images

I often describe Medium as an incredibly busy intersection on the internet. A massive amount of overlapping activity happens here at once. Writers and readers are everywhere you turn — some on their daily commute, some parked with no plans of leaving, some visiting for the first time, some lingering in doorways, seated on rooftops, or clustered in conversation.

As an editor for Medium, I stand at this intersection every day.

I read countless stories in depth, and catch glimpses or jagged corners of others. One person’s idea leads me to another and another — I move from the grimy…

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