www.usatoday.com /story/life/health-wellness/2022/08/27/why-our-brains-feel-too-full/7905272001/

I learned why our brains feel too full for more bad news

7-8 minutes
Emotional exhaustion and crisis fatigue are leaving us feeling overwhelmed and unable to pay attention to more bad news.

Every day another headline highlights something to worry about. 

Whether it's the latest health scare, economic challenges or social conflict, our brains start to feel like they're fill up – a feeling that's totally normal, according to experts I heard from this week.

I learned that what we're experiencing is emotional exhaustion and crisis fatigue.

"We've all reached the point of emotional exhaustion, and there is such a thing as crisis fatigue – our brains and our bodies can only be in a heightened state of alert for so long, and it's not natural for us to stay there," explains Amy Morin, psychotherapist and editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind.

Vaile Wright, senior director of health care innovation at the American Psychological Association, explains emotional exhaustion is "this sense of overwhelmingness. Overwhelmed to the point where you feel like you don't have the capacity to deal anymore... It's physical tiredness. It's mental tiredness. It's difficulty concentrating. It's all the things that we experience when we're just at our capacity."

There's also a point where our brains tend to shut off.

"We become desensitized to things after we watch the news for so long about something that could kill us," Morin says. "Then you hear more stuff about 'oh, and by the way, here's this extra threat...' It's almost like we meet it with an eyeroll thinking, 'OK, what's next?' Because right now it seems like there's always something coming out, telling us there's a different danger and don't relax yet."

Luckily, there are ways to help combat it. To learn how, click here to read my full story.

The problem with celebrities and transphobia

From Bette Midler to J.K. Rowling, another disappointing famous person pops up at every turn (or tweet or statement).

My colleague Patrick Ryan dug into this problem and the impact it can have on the transgender community. Here's a little excerpt:

Earlier this month, old tweets resurfaced of "Jojo Rabbit" filmmaker Taika Waititi, who in 2013, made jokes comparing trans people to "meth users" and dead-naming Caitlyn Jenner. Although he has yet to address them publicly, many fans were disappointed by Waititi's past remarks, given his penchant for working with LGBTQ actors and telling queer stories in HBO Max's "Our Flag Means Death" and "Thor: Love and Thunder." 

Waititi is just the latest celebrity accused of transphobia, with actress/singer Bette Midler and "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling similarly coming under fire for anti-trans rhetoric. It shows how purported queer allies like Midler and Waititi can still promote dangerous messages that harm trans people  – and why it's important to watch our words. 

By expressing anti-trans sentiments online and through their work, celebrities send a message that it's OK to target trans people in the real world.

"They don't seem to recognize the harm they can cause in the lives of people, whether they’re trans, a person of color or from a different culture," says Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive director for The National Center for Transgender Equality. "Famous people have a decision to make about what ideas they will lift up and promote. We are seeing a terrible increase in violence against transgender people – especially Black transgender women. Transgender youth are being bullied and told they can’t play school sports. Politicians in many places are trying to take away their healthcare.

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Bette Midler, left, and J.K. Rowling are two celebrities who have come under fire for transphobic remarks.

Why you should reconsider taking daily aspirin

In last week's column, our medical columnist Dr. Michael Daignault wrote about key cancer screening guidelines. This week, he went over a critical update you may have missed earlier this year for a medication many Americans take on a daily basis: aspirin. Here's a snippet of what he shared:

Low-dose aspirin has been a popular prevention measure for years. Millions of Americans take a daily aspirin, including 29 million who do not carry a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. A whopping 6.6 million do so without physician supervision. 

Earlier this year, the United States Preventing Services Task Force (USPSTF) made headlines about their latest recommendation on daily aspirin use.  The USPSTF came out strongly against initiating daily aspirin use in adults 60 years and older who have not had a first heart attack or stroke, citing specifically that the risks of internal bleeding outweighed the benefit. Scientists also found little benefit for daily aspirin for most healthy people.

The update can be confusing to interpret. But here are the recommendations broken down more simply:

There are many other proven ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease instead of taking a daily aspirin. Regular exercise (even just 30 minutes a day of brisk walking), better diet choices, meditation and other stress reduction measures as well as healthy sleep habits all have proven benefits – and better yet, come without the risk of dangerous side effects.

To read the full column, click here.

Today's reads

Today's pet

Meet Mary Kat.

Nothing like falling asleep to a good book...

"I wrote a book about my previous cats. Mary Kat was not impressed," Lonnie Hull DuPont from Jackson, Michigan, wrote in. 

If you're interested in Lonnie's book (unlike Mary Kat here), it's called "Kit Kat and Lucy: The Country Cats Who Changed a City Girl's World" (Revell Books). 

"It's the story of my husband and me moving from downtown San Francisco to rural Michigan, petless, and how in the middle of all that culture shock, a gorgeous tortoiseshell cat showed up at the front door. She moved in.  A year later a stunning Russian Blue kitten showed up at the back door. She moved in. Everything changed," explains Lonnie. "Mary Kat, one of our second generation cats, (is) named in honor of (previous cat) Kit Kat."