The Local Optimist Digest #49

The mental health impacts of undefined relationships, using virtual reality to confront your fears, and what it means to be an empath.

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 what it means to be an empath, the potential use of virtual reality to confront fears, and the mental health impacts of ‘situatationships’ and ‘ghosting.’

Experiencing Emotions As An Empath

If you consider yourself to be an “emotional sponge,” able to understand and metabolize the emotions of those around you on a consistent level, you might be an empath. Empaths are described as a distinct group of highly sensitive individuals with the ability to absorb all types of emotions. While this trait can be both a blessing and a curse, having an understanding of the various types of empaths and their unique challenges can help you manage your abilities more effectively. Experts explore the common signs of being an empath, how they differ from highly sensitive people, and practical strategies for thriving as an empath in today's world. READ

Take A Walk: The Physical And Mental Health Benefits Of Walking

Walking is a great low-impact exercise that provides a plethora of benefits for both your physical and mental health. Considered to be one of the most effective forms of preventive medicine, walking has the ability to improve cardiovascular health, reduce stress, and alleviate anxiety. Experts explore the science behind the benefits of walking, speak to how it can improve your memory and emotions, and offer practical tips on how to make walking a regular part of your life. READ.

Virtual Reality Therapy And What It Means For Mental Health Care

Virtual reality is proving to be a versatile tool that can be used for more than just entertainment. Researchers have recently been exploring the potential of virtual reality therapy as a means of helping people with post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, and anxiety disorders. By immersing patients in simulations that allow them to confront their fears in a controlled environment, virtual reality therapy has similarities to the traditionally used exposure therapy technique. With researchers continuing to explore the possibilities of this innovative technology, virtual reality therapy may very well lead to a new era in mental health care. READ.

4 Ways To Support Someone With Anxiety While Maintaining Boundaries

When dealing with someone else's anxiety, it can be difficult not to become overwhelmed. Here are 4 effective ways to help you cope:

  1. Start with compassion. Work to acknowledge the reality of the anxious situation with compassion. This gives you an opportunity to approach the situation with empathy and understanding.

  2. Identify patterns. People deal with anxiety in different ways, either through dependence on others or exerting control. Recognizing these patterns can help you understand how the person in your life is coping and how you can best support them.

  3. Create consistent boundaries. Once you've identified the coping mechanisms of your loved one, establish clear and consistent boundaries to help you both navigate the situation. Boundaries can help you manage your own stress and anxiety while providing a framework for the person in your life to feel more secure.

  4. Scaffold instead of accommodate. Scaffolding involves offering assistance and guidance while promoting independence and flexibility. This approach can help you both navigate the challenges of anxiety in a way that fosters growth and progress.

Read MORE.

The Mental Health Impacts Of ‘Situationships’ And ‘Ghosting'

Navigating romantic relationships is oftentimes confusing, especially in the digital age. Terms such as ‘situationships’ and ‘ghosting’ have gained popularity in recent years and created a new category of relationship status in modern dating culture. Experts discuss how these open-ended relationships may lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, investigate the psychological implications of undefined relationships, and highlight the importance of self-care in the world of modern dating. READ.

Conservation International  

On the heels of Earth Day, we are excited to highlight Conservation International (CI), a global organization created to protect nature for the well-being of humanity and ensure a healthy, prosperous, and sustainable planet for future generations. CI collaborates with governments, businesses, communities, and other partners to find solutions to environmental challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and unsustainable land use. Their approach promotes sustainable use of natural resources while safeguarding benefits such as clean air and water, food, and climate regulation. Learn more about their mission and ways to donate HERE.

Get Rewarded For Sharing The Digest

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.