Maggie ONeill M.F.A.

You’ll Never Be Tempted to Sleep in Contacts Again After Watching This Unsettling TikTok

You’ll Never Be Tempted to Sleep in Contacts Again After Watching This Unsettling TikTok

If you’ve ever worn contact lenses, you’ve likely heard the warnings: Never sleep in them; bad things will happen if you do. I’ve been wearing contacts since the fourth grade, and, I confess, I’ve spent more than a night or two in mine. It usually happens when I’m reading a book in bed at the end of the day—sometimes it’s simply too hard to force myself out from under the covers just to pluck them out. But thanks to a video that recently went viral on TikTok, I won’t be making excuses anymore.The video, which has garnered more than 21,000 views, shows California-based ophthalmologist Katerina Kurteeva, MD, removing not one, not two, but 23 contact lenses (yes, 23!!) from under a person’s eyelid. Dr. Kurteeva had already removed about two lenses from the person’s right eye before she started filming the process.“There’s a whole wad…We may have to count them. I think I’ve already counted more than 10 or 12,” she said in the video, while gently prodding the lenses out from under the eyelid with a cotton swab. “Oh, come on. I can’t believe you,” the person said. Dr. Kurteeva even joked that her patient could be in a Guinness World Records book.After watching the video, there are two questions that may immediately come to mind: Why were the lenses green? And how did the person in the video not realize so many were jammed under their eyelid?Dr. Kurteeva recently spoke with ABC7 Eyewitness News in Los Angeles to clarify what happened. First, the contacts weren’t actually green—they just appeared that way thanks to a stain Dr. Kurteeva put in the eye to help her easily identify the lenses. And as for how this happened, Dr. Kurteeva says this type of situation isn’t actually that strange.When a person wears contacts for a very long time, their cornea can become desensitized to them, she explained. “This is essentially a protective feature because otherwise you’d be really bothered by everyday contact lens wear,” she said. “After all, it is a foreign body in your eye. So when the cornea loses sensitivity, it’s sort of an adjustment, but at the same time you don’t feel when something is wrong as acutely.”Dr. Kurteeva also noted that her patient’s age may have exacerbated things here, explaining that as people get older, the pockets of their upper eyelids become deeper because you naturally lose fat around your eyes over time. “All those contact lenses were able to hide like a stack of pancakes really far deep inside in the least sensitive part of the eye,” she said.The lesson here, of course, is to always take your contacts out at night before you go to sleep. In addition to potential redness and irritation, sleeping in contacts can also up your risk of developing an eye infection, per the Cleveland Clinic. Warning signs to look out for include decreased or blurred vision, redness, excessive watering, and discharge. If you start experiencing these, you should see a doctor ASAP.Luckily, the person in the viral TikTok didn’t have any long-lasting eye damage—but that can easily happen if you don’t handle your lenses appropriately, Dr. Kurteeva said. “It doesn’t always end this well,” she explained. “I’ve been in practice for almost 20 years, and I’ve seen some cases really go south, where people develop vision-threatening infections from even, like, a day of overnight contact lens wearing.”In other words: It doesn’t matter how tired you are at the end of the day—you really need to take those contacts out before you fall asleep, switch out your contacts at the recommended time if you’re using an extended-wear option, and always handle your lenses with clean hands.Related:

A 5-Day COVID Isolation Probably Isn’t Long Enough, New Research Suggests

A 5-Day COVID Isolation Probably Isn’t Long Enough, New Research Suggests

Many people who get sick with COVID may still test positive five days—and sometimes up to 10 days—after their symptoms begin, according to a new study published in JAMA Network Open. The research only fuels the ongoing discussion about how long people should isolate after they contract the virus, experts say.For the study, researchers looked at data from more than 63,000 people who visited a community testing site in San Francisco from January 2021 to January 2022. The data spanned the pre-delta, delta, and omicron BA.1 periods. (BA.1 was the original omicron variant, first identified in November 2021.) The researchers found that, during the BA.1 surge, 80% of people (!!) had continued to test positive (via a rapid antigen test) five days after their symptoms had started.And that’s a bit concerning. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends isolating at home for “at least” five days if you test positive for COVID, even if you don’t have any symptoms. (FYI: The first day is technically the day after you test positive). At the five-day mark, you can end isolation if you test negative, if you don’t have symptoms, or if your symptoms are improving and you haven’t had a fever (without the use of fever-reducing meds) in 24 hours.So…does that mean all those COVID-positive people in the study were also still contagious at the five-day mark? Unfortunately, there’s no way to know for sure, Thomas Russo, MD, an infectious disease expert at the University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, who was not involved with the new study, tells SELF. Remember, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is still considered to be relatively new—meaning there’s a lot that experts don’t know or totally understand about it yet. A positive test at the five-day mark confirms the presence of the virus, yes—but that doesn’t totally tell doctors how likely a person is to spread COVID at that point in time. “[Doctors are asking:] Is that just parts of dead virus, or are you truly infectious?” Dr. Russo posits.That said, we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that some people will potentially be infectious five days after they test positive for COVID, William Schaffner, MD, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who was not involved with the new study, tells SELF. “Positive tests don’t tell us that a virus is live, but we think a substantial number of those people have live virus,” Dr. Schaffner says. “It’s likely that a lot of those people are still able to spread the virus.”In fact, the authors of the JAMA study note that some existing data suggest a person’s infectiousness may last for an average of eight days; sometimes, a person may remain contagious beyond 10 days, but that’s thought to be “less common.”This, Dr. Schaffner explains, is why it may not be totally safe to give everyone the all-clear after they isolate for just five days at home: “If you were going to visit your grandparents or a relative who had diabetes or heart disease and you had COVID, I would wait longer before I visited those high-risk people.”So, how long should you isolate after a positive COVID test?It’s frustrating, but many people probably won’t isolate longer than five days after getting sick with COVID—if they even bother to wait that long, Dr. Schaffner says. Pandemic fatigue is real, and many people are eager to return to their pre-COVID lives, he adds. Of course, some people simply don’t have the option to stay home from work that long.

Flu Season Is Ramping Up—and Some States Have Already Been Hit Hard

Flu Season Is Ramping Up—and Some States Have Already Been Hit Hard

Flu season is ramping up, folks. Cases are already “high” in certain parts of the US, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Southern regions are being hit the hardest right now, but influenza is gaining traction in most of the country.Current hotspots include Washington, DC; New York City; Texas; Alabama; Tennessee; and South Carolina. William Schaffner, MD, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, tells SELF that it’s not entirely clear why flu cases initially took off in southern regions this year. “The flu season is fickle,” he says. “It’s not predictable where it will start.”Cases in Washington, DC, and New York City may be more easily explained, since those are places people travel to and from often, Thomas Russo, MD, an infectious disease expert at the University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, tells SELF.But the important thing to note regardless of where you live, Dr. Schaffner says, is that flu season is here, and it’s not going to stay contained, he explains: “It will get around in due course, and it’s starting very energetically.”Understandably, we’ve all been pretty preoccupied with COVID-19—but the flu still poses a very real threat, especially when it’s circulating at the same time as COVID. According to data from 2010 to 2020, influenza causes anywhere between 9 million and 41 million illnesses in the US each year, per the CDC, depending on how rough the season is. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and tens of thousands die from the virus annually. For high-risk individuals, like children, older folks, pregnant people, and those with certain underlying conditions, the flu can also cause complications that can land a person in the hospital, like pneumonia, severe dehydration, or even neurological issues.The past two flu seasons have been surprisingly mild, largely because more people were masking up, social distancing, and practicing good hand hygiene, thanks to COVID-19, Dr. Russo says. But, given that mask guidelines are basically nonexistent in most parts of the country, that may not be how things shake out this year.Optimists may find themselves thinking, Does the early start mean flu season will end sooner this year? Unfortunately, that’s not how infectious diseases work, Dr. Schaffner says. Instead, this early data only fuels experts’ recent warnings: We may be in for a particularly rough winter. “[These early cases] make it more likely that it could be a more serious flu season and that it could be more prolonged,” Dr. Schaffner says. He adds that this pattern mimics what happened this year in Australia, where the flu season just ended: “We’re starting to see influenza early just as our colleagues in the southern hemisphere saw,” Dr. Schaffner says.So, consider this your reminder to schedule your flu shot—which experts recommend you get before the end of October—if you haven’t already. Remember, getting your flu vaccine isn’t just about protecting your health; it’s also a way to protect everyone in your community. Again, some people are more likely to develop severe disease from influenza, so getting vaccinated helps you protect loved ones, like baby cousins and grandparents—as well as your colleagues and essential workers in your community who may face a higher risk of getting really sick.It’s also especially crucial to just be aware of any flu-like symptoms you’re experiencing, which can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue, per the CDC. Sometimes, antivirals can help treat people with influenza, but early diagnosis is key here, Dr. Schaffner says. With this in mind, you should see a doctor if you start feeling really sick—especially if you take a rapid test at home and rule out COVID-19, he explains.Lastly—and we can’t stress this one enough—consider masking up before you head into public spaces. “We’ve learned very definitively during COVID that wearing masks really does protect the most vulnerable people,” Dr. Shaffner says. “Plan to do that when flu strikes your community,” he adds. “It will help.”Related:

Dry Swallowing Pills: Why Taking Meds Without Water Is Risky

Dry Swallowing Pills: Why Taking Meds Without Water Is Risky

You’ve probably found yourself in this scenario before: It’s the middle of the night, and you suddenly wake up with a pounding headache. You stumble around trying to find any kind of pill that will squash the pain fast, so you hopefully wake up feeling a bit better. Perhaps you “dry” swallow the medication without water—or you glug it with a drink but lie back down instantly.But that’s a potentially risky thing to do, and a recent TikTok highlighting the possible dangers of taking medicine the wrong way explains one reason why. The video, posted by content creator and video producer Lucie Fink, shared the story of “a friend of a friend of a friend” who popped an over-the-counter pain reliever without water during the night, went back to bed, woke up with it lodged in their throat—and then had to be rushed to the hospital. The reason? The pill had burned a hole in their throat because “it was just sitting there.” “It really stuck with me,” Fink said in the video, which has garnered more than 459,000 views. And well…same.So how (and why) does this happen? To find out why it’s so important to take pills with plenty of water, SELF spoke with a pharmacist for their tips.Here’s why dry swallowing pills can be potentially dangerous.It’s true, what happened to the person in the TikTok story can happen to anyone, Matthew Britt, RPH, a pharmacist at Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. “Taking oral medications with water is important to ensure that the drug passes through to your stomach and small intestine and does not become lodged in your throat,” Britt says. “This will allow the medication to be absorbed properly in the body and produce the desired effect.”You should also avoid crawling into bed, heading to the couch for a nap, or lying down at all right after taking any pills or tablets. That’s because “certain medications can cause irritation or damage” to the esophagus or your intestines if you don’t take them with a full glass of water and remain upright, sitting or standing, for at least 30 minutes after you swallow the drug, Britt says.In “extreme cases,” Britt explains, dry swallowing pills can sometimes lead to ulcers—which are crater-like sores that form when a layer of skin or tissue is removed—in any part of the digestive system. When this happens in the throat, it is called pill- or drug-induced esophagitis, and a 2014 paper published in the Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology found that “almost every kind of drug” can cause this type of ulcer, especially doxycycline (a commonly prescribed antibiotic). Over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and acetaminophen are also frequent culprits. Why? The residue or coating from the medication also gets stuck in the throat when the pill doesn’t go down, which can have a toxic effect on the delicate mucosal lining of your esophagus. In other words: It’s definitely worth the effort to find and refill that water bottle.Can taking pills the wrong way make them less effective too?Absolutely, Britt says. For example, he says, “some medications work best if taken on an empty stomach, and others are more effective when taken with a snack or meal; certain medications should be taken alone to maximize effectiveness,” which is important to keep in mind if you’re juggling multiple prescriptions.To be on the safe side, you should always have a conversation with your prescribing doctor anytime your medication schedule changes. Then, check in again once you’re picking up your prescription. “Always consult your pharmacist when starting a new medication,” Britt says. “Pharmacists can help you determine a schedule to ensure you are taking all of your medications properly.”Thankfully, this seems like the kind of thing you only have to hear about once—for Fink, that one story seemed to be enough to influence her habits. “Now every time I take a pill in the middle of the night,” she said, “I drink like 12 ounces of water to make sure I’m really getting it down.”Related:

People Still Aren’t Getting the New COVID Booster. Experts Say They Aren’t Surprised.

People Still Aren’t Getting the New COVID Booster. Experts Say They Aren’t Surprised.

Many people are also simply less interested in COVID news these days, Thomas Russo, MD, an infectious disease expert at the University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, tells SELF. “People are now tuned out, trying to forget it and move on with their lives,” Dr. Russo says. “They don’t want to hear about COVID anymore.”This is understandable to a certain degree, given the federal government’s messaging around the state of the pandemic. In September, President Biden said the pandemic was “over” during a 60 Minutes interview, though he later tried to backtrack and say that the (ongoing) pandemic isn’t as bad as it had previously been. To add insult to injury, the CDC’s guidance has been confusing and ever-changing: In August, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky admitted the agency failed to effectively respond to the pandemic. When so many public health officials are either muddying critical information or communicating that the risk for serious COVID outcomes is low—even though it’s not, given the numbers—it makes sense that a large swath of the public wouldn’t prioritize getting the updated vaccine.Also worth noting: People are being called on to do more than they usually need to do to prepare for cold and flu season this year, and this, too, may be part of the problem, experts say. “It’s always a bit of a hard sell to get people to get the flu shot, and now we’re asking people to get two [vaccinations], which makes the public health effort more challenging,” Dr. Schaffner says.But if we continue on this route, the US could be in for a tough winter, Waleed Javaid, MD, hospital epidemiologist and director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York City, tells SELF. Specifically, if a lot of people get sick at the same time, we could see disruptions in health care settings again, Dr. Javaid says. “This year, the indications are that the flu could be much worse than last year,” he says. “Hospital overcrowding can occur for a variety of reasons—COVID, flu, or both—and we don’t want to see that.” A rise in infections could mean more than a shortage of hospital beds, Dr. Russo adds. It may cause delays in emergency rooms and walk-in clinics around the country too: “It’s a toll at all levels” of the health care system, he explains.Though it may be tempting to base your decision on whether to get boosted solely on personal risk, there’s more at stake here than any one individual’s health. Even though COVID is often billed (incorrectly) as being “like the flu” it does pose real risks, and not just to people with underlying health conditions. (Though, of course, people with underlying conditions are also…people.) Chief among these risks is long COVID, which may affect up to one in five people who contract the virus, as SELF previously reported. And even if you get infected and experience the best-case scenario here—spending a week in bed utterly exhausted, coughing and hacking—who wants to be out of commission and feeling like garbage for any amount of time?And as we saw last winter, if there is a big spike in COVID cases, all of our day-to-day lives could be affected in some way. Another wave may once again cause disruptions in schools at every level—from day cares to colleges—and temporary or even permanent business closures.The bottom line: Now is the time to get your COVID-19 booster (and flu shot), which will help keep you and those around you safe, Dr. Russo says. Getting boosted, if you’re eligible, truly is a civic duty, Dr. Javaid adds: “We are all in this together, and we need to think about [boosters] as community service.”Related:

Bryce Dallas Howard: ‘Battling Depression Has Been the Biggest Challenge to My Identity’

Bryce Dallas Howard: ‘Battling Depression Has Been the Biggest Challenge to My Identity’

Bryce Dallas Howard shared how depression has impacted her life in a candid Instagram post to celebrate World Mental Health Day earlier this week. In the caption, the 41-year-old Jurassic World actor wrote that “battling depression has been the biggest challenge to my identity.”Howard has been vocal about her mental health journey before. Over a decade ago, the actor wrote at length about what she called the “emptiness” of postpartum depression after the birth of her first son, Theo. In her recent Instagram post, Howard recalled an “existential moment” in her car alone as she left the last day on her first job as a new mom. Even though she was working, she was still in the “throes of postpartum depression” at that time, she said. Driving into an “exquisite sunset,” Howard shared: “Since no one could hear me, I asked the question aloud: What is the purpose of ALL OF THIS?!”Howard said it was then that an “anonymous voice” responded to her, saying: “The purpose of the human experience on earth is to move through obstacles with grace, and if you can do that, there will always be a sunset.” She went on to say this gave her clarity during a difficult time: “Those words are the response I received: to move through obstacles with grace, and that struggle will guide you toward the sunset. We are here FOR the obstacles, not to avoid them.”Instagram contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.Howard, who has been vocal about the benefits of therapy, also went on to write that she used to have a difficult time working through negative emotions. “I’m energetic, enthusiastic, passionate—and I have this big ole belly laugh!” she wrote. “My entire life, I had been so hyper-focused on blocking negative thoughts that I failed to embrace or appreciate that these feelings and emotions and crises were not only not to be avoided, but that they were integral to the human experience.”And that realization marked a turning point in her mental health journey: “It’s taken quite a bit, but what I’ve learned since is that my form of ‘optimism’ means having the grace to navigate both internal and external obstacles. Those challenges ARE the journey, the purpose, not an annoyance we can gaslight with militant optimism and denial.”Instead of fighting back every negative emotion that comes her way, Howard said she now tries to embrace all her feelings. “I’m not the optimist I once envisioned myself to be,” she wrote. “Instead, I’m an emotionally-charged ball of wonder and awe, practicality and possibility, with an indefatigable capacity to find humor and joy in the absurdity of whatever life serves up.”Howard said she wanted to share her experience with her 2.6 million followers in the hopes others may identify with her and feel less alone: “This is where I’ve landed today on my journey, and tomorrow may be different, but I share these musings on #WorldMentalHealthDay in case they can offer any hope or simply a ‘same, same!’”Related:

‘Mean Girls’ Actor Jonathan Bennett Explained Why He Gets Screened for Breast Cancer

‘Mean Girls’ Actor Jonathan Bennett Explained Why He Gets Screened for Breast Cancer

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Jonathan Bennett reminded his social media followers that sometimes cis men need mammograms too. The 41-year-old Mean Girls actor shared footage from his recent screening on Instagram last week.“I’m showing you what it’s like to get a mammogram,” Bennett, 41, said in the video. “After my husband had a scare a few years ago, and with cancer running in both of our families, screenings are important to us.”In the video, he gets scanned from multiple angles, and then he’s dismissed to go outside and eat a cupcake. “After a few different positions and X-rays, that’s it! The radiologist checks my images, and I’m done,” he said. (Bennett, who lost his father to cancer, according to an interview with The Knot, said in his post that he’s partnering with an organization raising money for the Ellie Fund, which provides services to breast cancer patients.)Instagram contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.While breast cancer mostly affects women, about 1 in every 100 diagnoses occurs in men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that 2,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer in men will be diagnosed this year, and 530 men will die from the disease.Possible symptoms of breast cancer in men can include a lump, swelling, nipple retraction (when the nipple turns inward), nipple discharge, redness (depending on your skin tone), and scaling of the skin, per the ACS. The changes can occur directly in the breasts or in nearby areas, such as around the collarbone. Of course, these symptoms aren’t always an immediate sign of breast cancer, but it’s best to see a health care provider if you notice any of these changes in your general chest area (especially if they’re new or persistent).Family history is just one risk factor for breast cancer in men. Others include older age (most men are diagnosed after age 50), certain genetic mutations, and certain underlying health conditions, including liver disease, per the CDC. According to the ACS, Black men are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than white men.If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, the CDC says you should have a conversation with your doctor about which screenings are right for you and how often you should get them—and Bennett echoed that recommendation in his video. He encouraged his followers to be proactive about their health and to “talk to your doctor about what’s right for you,” regardless of gender.Related:

How to Prep for Cold and Flu Season Right Now, Before You Get Sick

How to Prep for Cold and Flu Season Right Now, Before You Get Sick

Anyone who has an underlying health condition that boosts their risk of severe COVID should also make sure any rescue medications—such as inhalers for people with asthma—are up-to-date, Dr. Parikh says.If you’re high-risk, it could also be worth having a conversation with your doctor about how to minimize your chances of getting really sick. Some providers who have a trusting relationship with their high-risk patients may offer a prescription for an influenza antiviral before flu season even starts, so they can quickly get it filled if and when they get sick with the virus, William Schaffner, MD, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, tells SELF.3. Pick up other sick day essentials.If you’re sick, the last thing you’ll want to do (or should do) is trek to the store to buy other good-to-have items—you’ll need to prioritize rest and avoid other people as much as you can so you don’t spread germs. With that in mind, consider picking up extra toilet paper and tissues, hand sanitizer, hand soap, surface cleaners, and an extra box of face masks while you’re at the store this week. A humidifier and an air purifier are also great to have if you can afford to invest in them.Three other things that you may not think of but should definitely have include: a thermometer, a pulse oximeter, and at-home COVID tests. This is especially helpful if you prefer telehealth appointments instead of in-person visits: There’s a difference between telling your doctor you “feel feverish” and telling them your temperature is 103 degrees Fahrenheit, and the more data you can give them, the better your chances of getting an accurate diagnosis—and treatment—fast, Dr. Schaffner says.If you purchased or ordered COVID tests in the past year or so, you should also double-check that they haven’t expired—or aren’t set to expire during the coming months—before marking that item off your list.4. Give your kitchen pantry the same treatment.If you already know you’re going to crave chicken noodle soup the second you’re too exhausted to cook, grab enough to get you—and your family members—through the next couple of months while you’re at the store. While you’re at it, pick up other hydrating foods or drinks you always crave when you’re sick, since you shouldn’t go out in public once you’re experiencing symptoms.Remember: Cooking nutritious meals is a lot of work (even on a good day!) so you’re probably not going to be up for all that. But eating enough food and staying hydrated are key to feeling better ASAP. When shopping, try to think of foods with a long shelf life that also nourish you—like peanut butter, canned or frozen veggies, and your go-to protein bars. For more emergency food supply inspo, check out this guide.5. Make a plan with the people you live with.As you likely know by now, given that we’re nearly three years into the pandemic, there’s a lot of strategy involved in keeping people safe when one person in a home gets COVID-19 (or any other bug that’s contagious). You should decide on an isolation plan now, rather than waiting until someone tests positive, experts say. “It is always good to have a plan in place for quarantine to reduce the spread of infection,” Dr. Parikh says. This could mean deciding where a sick person will sleep, which bathroom they’ll use, and where everyone else in the house will stay.

How to Prep for Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms Before They Hit

How to Prep for Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms Before They Hit

To hold yourself accountable, consider scheduling weekly or monthly hangouts, she says. This could mean starting a book club, a dinner club, or a board game night.If hanging out inside doesn’t sound relaxing to you—for instance, if you face a higher risk of severe COVID or if you live with someone who falls into this group—consider scheduling a weekly FaceTime date with people you’d like to stay in touch with, or brainstorm ways to bundle up and meet with friends outdoors as it gets colder.Whatever the activity, the important thing here is to get something on the calendar and stick with it, Dr. Gallagher says. That way, you know that every Wednesday night or Saturday afternoon you’ll get to catch up with others and reap the benefits of that social connection.Ease back into indoor workouts.We know this one is especially painful for all you long-distance runners, but it’s better to plan for this reality now rather than waiting until it’s too icy to do the workout you love the most, Dr. Drerup says.Fortunately, there are a number of ways to prepare for the day when it’s officially too frigid to exercise outside. You could join a gym (and, to kill two birds with one stone, set up gym dates with a friend—that way you’re setting yourself up for exercise and social connection), invest in some home gym equipment, or just start looking up at-home workout routines that don’t require loads of space or special equipment.Depending on where you live, you also may be able to find other ways to move your body outdoors with an activity like skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating. If you’re able, these can be extra beneficial, Dr. Drerup says, since they give you both a workout and some much-needed fresh air.Create a list of new things you’d like to try.If your lifestyle revolves around outdoor activities in the summer—like reading in the park or picnicking with friends at a local lake—winter can seem pretty jarring. You may find yourself wondering how to fill the time when there are very few hours of sunlight each day.With this in mind, try making a list of all the indoor activities you want to explore this winter now. “Trying something new can be really good for our mental health,” Dr. Gallagher explains. These projects can be as low-maintenance or involved as you want, Dr. Drerup adds. Unsure where to start? A lot of folks find fulfillment in journaling, trying new recipes, getting into a new board game, or revisiting old hobbies (like knitting or coloring).The important thing, again, is being intentional here. Don’t wait until you’re so bored and feeling cooped up indoors that you can’t think straight. Make a plan now for how you’ll fill the time once you’re getting hit with three-day snowstorms and below-freezing temperatures.Touch base with a mental health provider, if you’re able.If you’ve been putting off the (admittedly tough) challenge of finding a therapist, consider this your sign to get going today. One of the biggest hurdles to mental health care is cost, but this guide can help you find an affordable provider. If you’re totally new to therapy and don’t know where to begin, make an appointment with your primary care doctor if you have one. They should be able to guide you to the appropriate mental health experts available near you or via telehealth.If you already have a therapist but haven’t seen them in a while thanks to all those fun summer activities that kept you busy, get your winter appointments on the books now. What you shouldn’t do is wait until February when you’re experiencing SAD symptoms…only to find out your therapist now has a three-week wait. “Be proactive about your mental health,” Dr. Gallagher says. That way, you and your therapist can have a plan in place to take care of your mental health when you need help most.Related:If you are struggling with feelings of depression and need someone to talk to, you can get support by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or by texting HOME to 741-741, the Crisis Text Line. If you’re outside the United States, here is a list of international suicide helplines.

Constance Wu Shared How a Friend Saved Her Life During a Mental Health Crisis

Constance Wu Shared How a Friend Saved Her Life During a Mental Health Crisis

Constance Wu has talked about how she found the care she needed after a suicide attempt in two interviews this week, on Good Morning America and Red Table Talk. The Crazy Rich Asians actor also spoke about returning to social media after a three-year break, experiencing sexual harassment on the set of Fresh Off the Boat, and mental health awareness within the Asian American community.Wu, 40, said her mental health started spiraling after she tweeted disappointment that Fresh Off the Boat had been renewed for another season in 2019. At the time, Wu clarified that she wasn’t upset that the show would continue filming; instead, her disappointment stemmed from the fact that by working on another season of the show, she would have to give up a different project she was excited about. Even still, the online backlash was intense.“There was a huge pile on, and I was essentially canceled for coming off as ungrateful,” Wu told GMA. “And the most painful thing of all was it was really the Asian American community that either ostracized or avoided me the most.” The judgment went beyond her tweets, Wu said, explaining that people called her a “diva” for not wanting to do the show following the 2018 blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians: “I was canceled for not being the Asian people wanted me to be, ungrateful, bratty, whatever,” she said.Wu told Red Table Talk that she tried to kill herself after reading DMs sent to her by another Asian American actor who criticized her tweets. Fortunately, a friend who was checking in on her at the time saved her life by taking her straight to a psychiatric emergency room. “They checked me in, and I slept the night on a cot in the waiting room in the psychiatric ER in New York City under observation. And then there were two counselors the next morning who talked to me,” Wu said. “Then I had to be in therapy with a psychiatrist and a psychologist every day for a while.” Wu told GMA that she also started a medication that helped, though it took some time to determine what worked for her.When asked what the healing process was like, Wu said, “I needed it. I was unsafe at that point. I was in a mental place of just beating myself up.” She added the toll that being “canceled” took caused her a lot of pain: “So much shame…and feeling like I’d ruined everything for everyone.”Wu also said she had stayed silent about being sexually harassed while filming Fresh Off the Boat because she wanted to protect a show that was important to her community: “My abuser on the show was an Asian American man, a producer, and it was really a conflict for me because I didn’t want to stain the reputation of the one show Asian Americans had to represent themselves.” She said the response she got after tweeting her frustration about the show’s renewal is among the reasons she doesn’t want to out her abuser now: “Am I afraid of backlash? Of course.”

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