Skip to main content

mental health mondays :: the tease

here's a little something different for mental health mondays: a brain teaser. what's the link, you ask?

well, many people argue that the brain is much like every other part of the body, in that you need to keep working it in order to maintain its good health and superior function. as it turns out, the scientific evidence is divided, although the theory sounds reasonable enough. [at least until you think about it too hard. after all, the brain is an organ, not a muscle and encouraging other organs to work harder doesn't generally make them healthier. if it did, alcoholics would have healthier livers than any of us.]

that said, there are a couple of good reasons why i think that exercising the brain is a very good thing for staving off mental disorders. first of all, it forces the brain to focus on something other than depression or anxiety. since those conditions often rob the brain of focus at all, merely the act of concentrating on the problem is fighting them. at the very least, it's a distraction from the things that might be making you feel depressed or anxious. second, problem solving is linked to the brain's "reward" system. we persevere at brain teasers because we know on a molecular level that when we solve them, our brain will reward us by releasing sweet, sweet chemicals. it's the same sort of high you get from doing drugs, but it's a lot cheaper. [and has no side effects!]

so here's a nifty little teaser that i picked up from the guardian [their website has an article with the solution and how to find it if you get desperate, but i'm not linking it, because i'm a very mean person].



to be clear, i'm not saying that these sorts of tests will work against serious mental disorders, so don't think that solving the new york times crossword puzzle is a good substitute for your medication. but if what you need is a break from everyday stresses, or if you just need a dopamine hit, there are a lot worse things you could do.

[feel free to let me know if you got the answer!]

Comments

as long as you're here, why not read more?

don't speak

you might think that it sounds dramatic, but linguistic genocide is something that happens. people in power will go to great lengths to eradicate certain languages, not just for the sheer joy of making the world a lesser place, but as a way of beating down the culture that's associated with it. language has a unique reciprocal bond with culture, and every group that has attempted to break down another has recognised that forbidding a cultural group from communicating in their own language is an extremely effective way to tear apart their culture.

there are lots [and lots and lots and lots] of examples of this sort of thing, some successful, some not, but far too many to cover in one blog post. however, i thought it was worth looking at some languages that have been the subjects of active repression, and what the political consequences of that have been.

devastation :: the native north american languages :: it should come as no surprise that the largest genocide in history [by a ma…

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …