Ask yourself a simple question

I don’t typically follow sports, except for the week the Milwaukee Bucks competed in the NBA finals. Watching the games in my Milwaukee home was exciting, but the really fun part came between the games. No matter where I went in the city, I felt connected to people, whether a stranger at the grocery store, my elderly neighbor, or another parent at my kids’ day camp. For that week, a city that’s normally divided had one thing in common: We were all Bucks fans.

This temporary kinship isn’t just an easy in-road small talk at the coffee shop. Feeling like…

It turns out there’s a right way to second-guess yourself

It happens lightning-fast. Someone on my Twitter feed makes a big announcement about their career — a cool new staff writing job or a book deal—and before I have a chance to think about it, I’m seething with jealousy. Or am I? I love freelancing, I remind myself, and I’ve never actually wanted to write a novel. Maybe I wasn’t actually jealous, and my brain just thought I was supposed to be.

It might feel like your emotions pop up automatically, but according to renowned neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, author of How Emotions Are Made, you have a lot more…

A simple rule to help you overcome burnout

The other day, a close friend and I were texting about something hard happening in her life. I asked how she had been doing lately, and she gave it to me straight: “I feel like I’m doing everything I can to stay sane, but no matter what I do, it doesn’t balance the scales.” Enter distressed emoji.

My friend’s insightful (and extremely relatable) observation reminded me the Belgian researchers Isabella Roskam and Moïra Mikolajczak, who study parental burnout and effects. While burnout can feel a lot like stress and even anxiety and depression, it’s not just about the presence of…

What lights you up is just as important as what upsets you

Recently, a friend posted a beautiful picture to Instagram: a quiet sunrise moment in her parents’ tree-filled backyard. “I’m trying to get better at finding glimmers throughout my day,” her caption read. I wasn’t quite sure what a glimmer was, but if my body’s sudden state of calm was any indication, I got the idea. Surveying the tiny, tree-lined square –– even on my iPhone –– felt like exhaling, the exact kind of beauty and calm I needed to reset after a stressful morning.

I clicked over to another post my friend had linked, and I learned my suspicion was…

Your body is trying to tell you something

I don’t like to say “no.” As a freelancer, I don’t make money unless I work––so when editors reach out with potential assignments, I typically say “yes” without a second thought. The extra money in my pocket is always helpful, but honestly? It’s more about FOMO. I’m worried work won’t keep coming to my inbox if I don’t say “yes” every time––even if I don’t have the bandwidth to do the work I’m agreeing to.

Here’s the problem: On fear-of-missing-out autopilot, I often don’t notice I’m approaching burnout until I’m already crashing and burning. As the work piles up and…

How a healthy dose of ferocity promotes healing and growth

“You need to calm down,” someone recently said to me on a phone call. “You’re making a huge deal out of nothing.” Adrenaline coursed through my arms and legs, like my body wanted me to run.

Normally, I’d bow out of the conversation to avoid conflict, make a mental note not to bring up personal topics with that person again, and recover with some self-care –– a hot bath, a walk through the neighborhood, or a chat with a supportive friend.

As I internally grappled with how to respond, I pictured myself as a kid, gaslit into doubting my feelings…

How amazement can improve your life

Staring down a snow-covered mountain. Gazing at a clear sky full of stars. Taking in the perfect neon pink sunset. Each of these experiences evokes awe –– that jaw-dropped, goosebumps-ridden feeling you get in the presence of something big and beautiful. While a moment of pleasure is enough of a reward, scientific research suggests the effects of awe long outlast the initial goosebumps, even improving people’s long-term well-being.

Like many emotions, awe likely evolved in humans for a reason: to boost the odds you’ll stay alive. Psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Dacher Keltner posit in a 2003 paper that awe may…

Here’s what helped me earn a six-figure income as a writer

When I swapped my full-time office job for part-time freelance writing in 2014, I had a simple goal: earn a couple hundred bucks a month to offset the diaper and baby food expenses I’d incurred as a stay-at-home mom. As my kids got older and my free time increased, I slowly built a portfolio of writing samples I could use to sell other ideas to higher-paying publications. My income increased a little each year, and in 2019, I hit a financial milestone, earning a six-figure income for the first time in my life.

I’m just as surprised as you are…

Two words for an instant dose of empathy

I have a friend whose best quality is seeing all sides of a situation. That Switzerland-level neutrality comes in handy when I need an objective opinion about a potential haircut, but when I come home and my haircut looks nothing like I expected? In that case, “Your hairdresser probably didn’t mean to give you a bowl cut” is probably the most annoying response I can imagine. I want my friend to see and embrace my side of the story––not necessarily to agree with my opinion about the hairdresser or salon, but to validate that yes, this experience sucks.

The other…

With normal feeling tantalizingly close, it’s time to reconsider how we think about trust

I got my Covid vaccine a couple weeks ago (Johnson and Johnson, in case anyone was wondering). If you’ve received yours, too, you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say the wave of emotions hit as soon as I felt the needle in my arm. Gratitude. Joy. Relief. And coursing underneath it all was the unmistakable rush of adrenaline: Every cell in my body seemed to be screaming at me to throw a party, jam myself into a crowded indoor happy hour, do all the things I so desperately craved.

Maybe most of all, though, I was thrilled…

Ashley Abramson

Writer-mom hybrid. Health & psychology stories in NYT, WaPo, Allure, Real Simple, & more.

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