The Local Optimist Digest #36

Why fostering positive friendships makes us healthier, ‘Blue Monday’ explained & debunked, and Deepak Chopra's tips for instantly relieving stress.

Welcome to The Local Optimist Digest, your crib sheet for the latest news in mental health. Whether you want to know how the government is (or is not) investing in our well-being, discover the latest research on how the mind impacts the body, or find out which celebrities are helping continue the conversation by opening up about their own mental health struggles, we’ll be covering it all here every week. This week, we’re looking at why research has debunked the myth of ‘Blue Monday,’ how fostering friendships makes us healthier, and why Seattle school districts sued major social media companies.

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Debunking the Myth of 'Blue Monday' And Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder

The third Monday of January, also known as 'Blue Monday,' has been rumored to be the most depressing day of the year. Research has debunked this thought and proven that there is not any singular day more depressing than the other three hundred sixty-four. However, experts share that there is truth behind the winter blues, more clinically known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, and fortunately for us, there are ways to combat it. READ

Having Good Friends is Good for Your Health, According to Experts.

When seeking to improve our health, we often focus on familiar habits such as building a healthy diet, prioritizing sleep, and creating a workout plan. While these habits are crucial to maintain a balanced life, recent research has highlighted a new essential aspect: friendship. Studies have shown that maintaining positive friendships is just as important as maintaining a healthy diet or getting enough sleep. Not only that, but people with strong friendships tend to have better mental and physical health. Experts weigh in on the subject and share ways to develop and nurture lasting friendships. READ.

Seattle School District Sues Giant Social Media Companies Over Youth Mental Health Crisis

Filed earlier this month by the Seattle public schools district, a lawsuit accuses giant social media companies of "contributing to a mental health crisis among America's youth." The suit listed Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, Google, and their associated companies as defendants, claiming they harm the mental health of youth. The Seattle public school system states that they have a responsibility to file the suit as their students' mental health and productivity in the classroom directly impact the city’s educational mission. READ.

Deepak Chopra's Tips For Instantly Relieving Stress

  1. Try the S.T.O.P. Formula. “S” stands for Stop. “T” stands for Take three deep breaths and smile from your head to your toes. “O” asks you to observe your breath and “P” encourages you to proceed with awareness and compassion.

  2. Press the Pause Button. This will break the circuit of reactivity. Normally, people don't have a pause between the sensory information and the output. So before you react to anything, just press the pause button.

  3. Focus on Space. Instead of looking at an object, be aware of the space you're in. The space is always silent. And if you connect with space, your mind will also go silent.

Read MORE.


How Psychedelics Helped Prince Harry Cope With Grief

In an interview with 60 Minutes on January 8th, Prince Harry opened up about his personal struggles with mental health following the loss of his mother in 1997. To cope with grief, Harry revealed that he sought therapy and tried alternative treatments, including the use of psychedelics such as psilocybin and ayahuasca. Although Harry mentioned he would not use psychedelics for recreational use, he shared that, “these things have a way of working as medicine,” with the support and guidance from trusted therapists and medical professionals. READ


This week, we are excited to highlight Tempus, a leader in artificial intelligence and precision medicine. Tempus believes that mental healthcare should be personalized for each individual. Their mission is to share information with your provider that may assist in personalizing your care through pharmacogenomics (or PGx). PGx informs your provider about how your body may respond to different medications, based on your genes. To learn more about Tempus, head HERE.

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Welcome to our new referral program, in which we give you some goodies for sharing the Digest with people who might enjoy this mental health news recap (and its bad jokes) as much as you do. 

Here's how it works:1: Use the 'Click To Share' button below to access your personal link.2: Send this unique referral link to friends or family through email or text.3: Earn rewards like Local Optimist stickers, The Madhappy Journal, and Madhappy hats when they subscribe to the digest. Must be based in the U.S.