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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!]

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