Coffee Talk

Coffee is everywhere at Cooper and society at large. In Starbucks, break rooms, public spaces, the delicious drink has been ubiquitous throughout human history. But how much is too much? Coffee is linked with lots of health benefits, but there are some risks to consider from the caffeine it contains.

Alice Callahan at the New York Times recently wrote a piece exploring the pros and cons of coffee consumption.

Most adults can safely consume 400 milligrams of caffeine — or the amount in about four eight-ounce cups of brewed coffee or six espresso shots — per day, according to the Food and Drug Administration. If you’re pregnant, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends no more than 200 milligrams.

“Overall, coffee does more good than bad,” said Rob van Dam, a professor of exercise and nutrition sciences at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. But between your breakfast brew, lunchtime latte and afternoon espresso, is it possible to have too much? And if so, how can you tell?

Having too much caffeine can cause a racing heart, jitteriness, anxiousness, nausea or trouble sleeping, said Jennifer Temple, a professor of exercise and nutrition sciences at the University at Buffalo. It can also lead to headaches, acid reflux and, at high enough doses, even tremors or vomiting, said Dr. Adrienne Hughes, a medical toxicologist and an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health and Science University.

Caffeine overdoses typically result from taking in too much caffeine from concentrated forms, such as powders or supplements, in a short period of time, she said. And in most cases, you would need to consume at least 10,000 milligrams of caffeine — or the equivalent of about 50 to 100 cups of coffee, depending on the strength — for it to be potentially fatal, Dr. Hughes said.

That said, if you’re prone to abnormal heart rhythms, or if you notice palpitations after having caffeine, you may be more sensitive to its effects and should not consume more than you’re used to, or ingest large doses from concentrated sources, like supplements or energy shots, Dr. Hughes said. And having too much caffeine while pregnant is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, Dr. van Dam said.

At the end of the day, “you just kind of have to listen to your body,” Dr. Temple said. “If you’re starting to feel nauseous or jittery or anxious, maybe cut back,” she said. “If it’s affecting your sleep, cut back.”

Read the full article at

You’re Not Being Paid to Ruminate at 2 A.M.

Jancee Dunn is the Well columnist for the New York Times and, for over two decades, has written about health for a variety of publications in addition to being a New York Times bestselling author of nine books. Recently she turned her attention to a common problem: how to stop thinking about work all the time. Rumination is a common issue, whether our focus is on work, relational problems, geopolitics, or anything else under the sun. Her full article can be read at and some tips for battling this phenomenon are listed below:

Keep a Journal – Experts suggest keeping a “rumination journal” to record the hours they devote to chewing over work issues each week. This can help orient you to how much time you are really dedicated to ruminating, which one can think of as hours as overtime for which you’re not getting paid.

Set Guardrails – Establish a clear line when your workday ends, and be strict about maintaining it. Ritualize your transition from job to home by changing your clothes, putting on music or taking a walk. Doing so not only erects a psychological boundary but it can also make us more likely to use that time to rest or connect with people in real life. Keep in mind that technology “empowers rumination” so if possible turn off your notifications for email and workplace messaging apps after a certain hour; if you must check them, do so at a designated time. And set a timer, so you don’t spend the rest of the night responding to messages.

Turn Ruminative Thoughts into Productive Ones – There’s evidence that ruminating about work during leisure time can affect our emotional well-being, but thinking about creative solutions to problems does not. So when you’re stewing ask yourself: “Is there something I can do about this situation? And if so, what?” Frame specific concerns as problems to be solved. Are you brooding that a new hire is performing better than you? Ask yourself what that person is doing well, and what he or she is not doing that you are.

Learn the Difference Between Unplugging and Recharging – Unplugging at the end of the day will not stop rumination, but recharging will. A recharging activity leaves you feeling energized mentally, and pleased with yourself for doing it. That can include activities like working out, crafting or meditation.

Distract Yourself – Distraction techniques have been shown to break the rumination cycle. If you can’t find a way to solve an issue doing something that requires focus, such as a crossword puzzle or a word game, can help. Or, if it’s the middle of the night, try a memory exercise, like naming every teacher you can remember from kindergarten on up.

Radically Inclusive Running

Martinus Evans is a fitness influencer and the founder of the radically inclusive Slow AF Run Club. He calls himself proudly slow and has taken great pride in proving wrong the people who have underestimated him. Told by his doctors to lose weight or die, Martinus Evans decided to do something no one thought his body was capable of – run a marathon. His new book empowers would-be-runners to lace up, no matter what their size.

Since a doctor’s appointment over a decade ago where he was confronted with this, Evans has founded the Slow AF Run Club, a community of over 10,000 members worldwide, has been featured by the likes of The New York Times and Men’s Health and has even appeared on the cover of Runner’s World US. With 84K followers on Instagram – @300poundsandrunning – he’s become a voice for ‘back-of-the-packer’”, encouraging and empowering those who perhaps thought that running wasn’t really for them and campaigning around issues related to size-inclusivity.

Read more about Martinus’ inspirational story at

Watch What You Say to Yourself

Many of us have a near-constant internal monologue running in our head. Sometimes the content is as dull as listening to someone read the dictionary, other times it is joyful or entertaining, but all too often the content contains harsh criticisms toward ourselves. As Ethan Kross noted in a recent interview with NPR’s Life Kit this kind of negative self-talk can get in the way of creating strong relationships with ourselves and others. Researchers of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have studied this phenomenon for some time, and much of CBT focuses on techniques such as Socratic questioning to begin to address this. In the above linked article, Kross and others summarize several of this techniques in six tips for quieting that harsh critic, summarized below.

  • Get Perspective – Assessing a situation from different angles can help you avoid the unproductive thought loop that can prevent our ability to move on. Try coming up with as many different explanations for something that is bothering you, regardless of how unlikely they initially feel, then way the evidence for and against each.
  • Be Your Own Best Friend – The next time you’re tempted to disparage your looks or criticize your decision-making, ask yourself: would I talk this way to my best friend? If not, practice using the same kind and gentle language that we use with the people we love, because we’re also people who we hopefully love, right?
  • SIFT – The acronym SIFT (source, impact, frequency and trends), developed by research scientist Mike Caulfield, can help you figure out whether you should listen to feedback from others or just ignore it. Say someone calls you out for poor email communication. Did that criticism come from someone you trust and value? Is it demanding a big change or a minor tweak to your behavior? Is this something you’ve heard from other people? And have you heard this from different communities in your life, or just at work? Consider these points before deciding to act.
  • Focus – The mind is a tricky thing. It can lead us to fixate, for example, on one bad aspect of a year-end review from a manager instead of their positive feedback. This is called “negativity bias,” says Yale psychology professor Woo-kyoung Ahn, and it illustrates our propensity to weigh negative events a lot more heavily than an equal amount of positive events. This “thinking error,” she says, is dangerous because it can lead us to make the wrong choices. Find out how to counteract this bias here.
  • Talk It Out – If someone you love is causing you distress, don’t be afraid to communicate with them about it, says psychologist Adia Gooden. It may help clear up any assumptions you may have and offer new perspectives about the incident. For example, instead of jumping to conclusions if your partner is always on their phone at dinnertime, you might say to them: “Because you’re always on your phone, I feel like you don’t think I’m worthy of your attention,” says Gooden. “And they might say, ‘Oh, shoot, I didn’t mean to be on my phone. Or, you know, I’ve been kind of frustrated with you and I didn’t know how to bring it up. So I’ve been looking at my phone instead of making eye contact. Let’s talk.”
  • Focus on Growth – Instead of defining yourself by your failures or limitations, consider every loss as part of your learning process. This idea, developed by psychologist Carol Dweck, is called a “growth mindset,” and it can help bolster that internal dialogue when you’ve taken an L and can’t stop kicking yourself about it. Let’s say you lose a round of pool. Those with a fixed mindset, she says, think that talent and intelligence are static: I give up, I’ll never get good at this! Growth-minded people believe that effort can lead to mastery: Hey! I’m getting a lot better at putting some power behind the ball! It’s all about finding the right perspective.

Rules for Life from the World’s Happiest Man

Matthieu Ricard is an ordained Buddhist monk and an internationally best-selling author of books about altruism, animal rights, happiness and wisdom. Recently, he was interviewed by David Marchese at the New York Times interviewed him. While you can read the full piece at here, within the article Ricard shares some rules for a fulfilled life, however one of the most meaning exchanges between Ricard and Marchese is summarized here after Marchese asks if Ricard, a peaceful monk, ever feels despair:

Marchese: “Your response to my question about despair was, “There’s no point,” which suggests that you’re making conscious choices about your feelings — whether to follow them or not — based on their perceived value. That’s not something everyone is able to do. Short of also becoming a Buddhist monk, how might other people start developing the ability to control their emotions like you can?”

Ricard: “Emotions are just like any characteristic of our mental landscape: They can change. We can become more familiar with their process; we can catch them early. It’s like when you see a pickpocket in a room: Aha, be careful. Twenty-five hundred years of contemplative science and 40 years of neuroplasticity — everything tells you we can change. You were not born knowing how to write your columns. You know it’s the fruit of your efforts. So why would major human qualities be engraved in stone from the start? That would be a total exception to every other skill we have. That’s why I like the idea of Richard Davidson’s that happiness is a skill. It can be deeper, more present in your mental landscape. We deal with our mind from morning to evening, but we spend very little attention on improving the way we translate outer conditions, good or bad, into happiness or misery. And it’s crucial, because that’s what determines our day-to-day experience of the world!”

Do You Validate?

Maureen Salamon is the Executive Editor at Harvard Women’s Health Watch. She recently penned a piece looking at the importance of validation. As she writes, validation is fundamental to a type of talk therapy called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which is geared toward people who experience emotions very intensely. Many people use some aspects of validation in everyday communications with family members, friends, and colleagues, but usually fall short, Jordan-Arthur says. As she said, people “jump into problem-solving, saying something validating, but then immediately tell the person what they should have done or what they should do next,” she says. “They don’t let that validation sink in. It’s like putting on anti-itch cream and then immediately washing it off.”

So how can you offer good validation? Salamon suggests starting with the following for validating another person:

  • Give them your full attention.
  • Make eye contact and nod appropriately, saying “uh huh” while showing your interest.
  • Reflect what you’ve heard by restating their message, such as, “It sounds like you feel worse about this situation today than yesterday.”
  • Verbalize the unspoken, such as, “I hear that you feel you can’t get anything done because of this obstacle,” or “It sounds like you’re frustrated.”
  • Give it time to work! Be sure to let the validation sink in before attempting to problem- solve.

Validation is an approach that can help people feel heard and understood, validation is especially useful when navigating emotionally charged situations. Validating someone shows you understand their feelings and point of view, even when you disagree. It establishes trust, helping the other person feel supported and open to discussing solutions.

Ready to learn more? Read Salamon full article at Harvard Health Publishing.

Record a Win Every Day

Christina Caron is a reporter for the Well section at The New York Times, covering mental health and the intersection of culture and health care. Recently she wrote a pice discussing how cultivating a grateful outlook, and taking a few minutes a day to count our blessings, can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, increase self-esteem, and improve life satisfaction. Noting that, she asked her readers to tell her how they practice gratitude, and curated the nearly 800 responses she. received. Some of the best are highlighted below, but be sure to read the whole list and her entire article at Then ask yourself, which of these might you be able to apply today?

  • Record it. More than 100 respondents said that they use journals or apps like Day One, Gratitude Plus and Flavors of Gratefulness to keep track of the good things in their lives. “The best thing my therapist taught me was to record my ‘win’ every day,” said Elizabeth Chan, 35, who lives in San Antonio. “Doing so helped me develop my optimism muscles, which had atrophied for decades.”
  • Walk It. Deborah Rathbun, 66, from Sharon, Conn., goes on a walk several times a week, always focusing on the beauty that surrounds her: “the blue of the sky, the leafy green trees, how the flag is moving nobly in the breeze, a drizzle that’s badly needed for the gardens.” Next, she reflects on the last 24 hours and thinks about the “very small things that went well or I’m pleased about.” It might be a friendly or funny exchange with a cashier or the thoughtful text she finally sent to a friend.
  • Give thanks as a group. Louise Miller, 52, from Boston, said she writes her gratitude list in a journal and then texts the list to a group of friends who also share theirs. “They almost always include something that inspires more gratitude in me — it’s contagious!” she said. Zach Ford, 33, a Brooklyn resident, said he has been following a near-daily gratitude practice since his first weeks of sobriety about six years ago. Each morning he shares his gratitude list in an email with a handful of others.

The Benefits of Morning Meditation

Research has shown it to help with everything from anxiety and depression to better sleep, lower stress levels and chronic pain relief. In a recent New York Times article, health and wellness writer Holly Burns reviewed why incorporating a mindfulness practice into your daily life can be beneficial, and how to get started.

She suggests starting small, with five minutes of breathing exercises to calm and focus the mind every morning. Not only will it “set the tone for the day,” said Dr. Eva Tsuda, a meditation instructor at the UMass Memorial Health Center for Mindfulness, but meditating earlier may make the practice easier to stick to.

Burns offers a few additional suggestions and things to consider as you get started. These include deciding on a specific, quiet place where you are unlikely to be interrupted. Once you do so, set a timer, again, for as little as 5 minutes and go in without expectations of “success.” Just noticing what that 5 minutes is like is a good start. If you need some place to rest your focus during these 5 minutes, see if you can simply describe your breath or what you are noticing via your 5 senses. A grounding exercise is a good place to start. You can read her full article at Or, if you are looking for some help getting started, try a different, brief exercise via any one of many playlists available on YouTube.

Pride and Joy

This year’s Pride Month spans from Thu, Jun 1, 2023 – Fri, Jun 30, 2023. Born out of the Stonewall riots, this is meant to be a time dedicated to celebrate and commemorate the ongoing work and legacy of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people everywhere. Year round, and especially this month, Pride Month is meant to both honor the movement for LGBT rights and celebrates LGBT culture. To that end, the wellness blog will focus this month on content relevant to promoting wellness in the LGBTA+ community, and we start with a story published by Margot Harris at NAMI entitled “Being Queer is Joyful,” which describes her coming out story, a discussion of privilege, and her hope the future. Please be sure to read this piece at

Are You Ready For The Summer?

While it may seem like we just rang in the new year, the unofficial start of summer is slowly creeping up on us. And while you might not think Minneapolis when you think summer, the good folks at the University of Minnesota have put together some great tips for a season of wellness! These tips are summarized below, but be sure to check out their full summer of wellness site at

Explore new foods: Expand your palate by trying new recipes that include seasonal foods you can’t get year-round. You can visit local farmer’s markets for fresh ingredients, or harvest your own veggies at home. Take advantage of the long sunny evenings while they’re here and grill healthy options outside. [Learn More]

Exercise outdoors: If the weather is pleasant and you have the ability to get outside, do it. If you’re tired of going for a jog, think outside the box of a traditional workout. Mowing the lawn with a push mower, gardening, or swimming at a local pool are all great ways to move your body while soaking up some sunshine. [Learn More]

Get better rest: Long, sunny days may mean you stay up later than usual, and hot, sticky weather can also prevent you from falling into a deep slumber. Make your bedroom summer-friendly by keeping it cool with a fan or open window (experts recommend about 68 degrees Fahrenheit), hanging light-blocking curtains, and relaxing before bed by putting away your phone and reading a few pages of a new novel. [Learn More]

Catch up with loved ones: This summer, double your wellbeing by spending time with the people you care about while doing nature-based activities you can’t do during colder months, such as visiting a beach or eating dinner outside. Funnel your energy toward staying connected even when your schedules don’t match up—if you go out of town, send handwritten postcards to let friends know you are thinking of them. [Learn More]

Ease stress with mindfulness: Even if you go on vacation to a tropical destination, even if you plan on summer to be completely relaxing, there will undoubtedly be situations that cause stress. But that’s not a problem. Rather than putting an expectation on the season to bring a sense of calm, cultivate it yourself. Being in nature is one of the best ways to unwind from stress. Take a few minutes each day—maybe right when you wake up in the morning—to step outside and simply enjoy the outdoors as a child would. Drop thoughts of any plans for the day and simply notice the green of the grass and trees, the feeling of a breeze on your skin, and the sound of birds and other animals. [Learn More]