The Local Optimist Digest #51

Why self-love can make us lonely, ChatGPT’s role in supporting mental health, and anxiety-reducing benefits of sour candy.

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 self-love can make us lonely, the anxiety-reducing benefits of sour candy, and the concept of metacognition or "thinking about thinking."

Time / Getty Images

Metacognition: The Spiral Of Thinking About Thinking

Have you ever found yourself completely absorbed in your thoughts to the point of reflecting on your entire thinking process? This experience is known as metacognition, a field of psychology that is gaining more and more attention. One area of focus is understanding how negative thought patterns can impact mental health, and how cultivating metacognitive skills can help us differentiate between productive and distorted thoughts. Experts stress the importance of positive thinking and provide tips to recognize and challenge negative thoughts to cultivate a more positive mindset. READ.

Can Self-Love Make Us Lonely? 

In recent years, the concept of self-love has gained immense popularity in our society. In a world that often prioritizes individualism over collaboration and self-sufficiency over seeking help, self-love has emerged as a survival tool. However, this commodified form of self-love, fueled by corporate ads and social media, actually has the potential to encourage self-sabotage and isolation, as it can prompt individuals to hyper-focus on themselves at the expense of connecting with others. Nevertheless, self-love without doubt remains a powerful tool and experts offer tips on how to cultivate the kind of love that brings us together. READ.

AI Therapy: Benefits And Concerns With ChatGPT

ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI, is now being used as a tool for AI therapy. By interacting with individuals struggling with mental health issues, ChatGPT uses natural language processing to carefully analyze conversations and provide personalized guidance and recommendations. The use of AI therapy is becoming more popular due to the increasing demand for mental health services, and some say it has the potential to make mental health support more accessible to a wider population. However, experts are raising concerns about the effectiveness and ethical implications of using AI for therapy without proper understanding of the language model and its communication patterns. READ.

7 Ways To Be More Mindful Without Meditating

  1. Three-minute breathing space: This exercise involves setting a timer for three minutes and bringing your full attention to your breath, focusing on the sensation of the air flowing in and out of your body. From there, expand your awareness to include your whole body and notice what's happening in the present moment.

  2. Listening mindfulness: This technique involves focusing on a specific sound in your current environment, taking note of its tone, rhythm, and volume. Try to stay with the sound as best you can and bring your attention back to it if your mind wanders off.

  3. Dishwashing: Instead of doing chores on autopilot, you can use them as opportunities to practice awareness. The next time you wash the dishes, ask yourself questions about the physical sensations you're experiencing, such as the temperature of the water and the texture of the dishes.

  4. Body scan: This exercise involves focusing on the different areas of your body one by one, from your feet to your head, and then back down to your feet. Work to notice the physical sensations in each area without judging them as good or bad.

  5. Four-seven-eight mindful breathing: This is a type of deep breathing exercise that involves inhaling for a count of four, holding for a count of seven, and exhaling for a count of eight. You breathe deeply from the pit of your stomach and stay with this pattern as best you can.

  6. People-watching: This exercise involves noticing strangers around you during your commute or leisurely walk. Try to observe their actions, clothing, and body language without judgment.

  7. Gratitude practice: This exercise involves taking a moment to reflect on something you're grateful for, such as a supportive friend or a beautiful sunset. You can write it down, say it out loud, or simply hold it in your mind for a moment.

Read MORE.

Health / Getty Images

How Sour Candy Reduces Anxiety

Can sour candy really be the antidote for anxiety attacks? According to TikTokers and online sources, the answer is yes. With 22.5 million views on the platform, the TikTok trend has gained significant attention. But does this TikTok trend hold up scientifically? While it is acknowledged that sour candy can be a useful tool to provide relief by distracting the brain with an intense taste sensation, experts caution that relying solely on it is insufficient for long-term success in managing anxiety. Professionals also offer insights into the effectiveness and sustainability of using sour candy to combat panic attacks, elaborating on the pros and cons of the coping technique. READ.

Depression And Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

This week, we are excited to highlight the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), a nonprofit organization aimed to improve the lives of individuals living with mood disorders by providing peer-led support groups, educational resources, and advocacy efforts. Founded in 1985, DBSA has grown to become the leading national organization providing education, support and resources for people living with mood disorders, as well as their families and friends. To learn more about DBSA and ways to support, head HERE.

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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.