Category: Stress Articles
June 25, 2014
Here we are again. June 27 is National HIV Testing Day. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. The data are even more pointed – as Blacks/African Americans account for 44% of the population living with HIV.
Michel Martin of National Public Radio (@TellMeMoreNPR) discussed HIV and the Black church during a December 2013 segment. Listening to the segment with the @myhealthimpact research scholars who were, then, undergraduate college students raised many reactions. These reactions are shown below:
The diagram speaks to the following reactions; some of which were of surprise to the young adults:
- Wow. Half of million!
- My church has never talked about HIV/creates stigma
- Great that this TX pastor (in the NPR segment) is offering HIV testing
- OMG! The ratio of black mean affected with HIV is almost the same of black men in the jail (1/16 and 1/15)
- What IS this stigma surrounding HIV…statistics do not lie because the facts are there!
- Why is the congregation ahead of their leadership—bold statement!
After recently watching the HBO special, The Normal Heart, I asked the team what did they learn? While the special was described as graphic and provided a “visual”, one of scholars offered a few parting words:
“What I learned about HIV awareness has come from this project. We were born in the mid-90s, so the visuals and impact of the virus is not with us. We were not born when Magic made his announcement. The connection is somewhat difficult and missing for us”.
Powerful and even more reason to “Know Your Status”. June 27 is National HIV Testing Day. See the myhealthimpactnetwork.org link to HIV testing centers in your area.
Follow us @myhealthimpact on Twitter and on Tumblr.
June 04, 2014
I’ve recently begun blogging and the story of Karyn Washington the creator of ‘For Brown Girls’ caught my eye and captured my heart. Washington reportedly committed suicide at the tender age of 22 after suffering from depression stemming from the loss of her mother. This hit my heart for two reasons. 1. She’s only a year older than me…a college student and 2. She’s a blogger that was interested in empowering and encouraging women to love themselves. These two things are practically I. I’m amazed at the fact that as she still desired to help others and while doing so, she was dealing with her own things.
Mental health is something serious. Did you know that depression is a mental illness? Let me make something really clear: you, we, she, he is not exempt. College students are not exempt. We (the black community) always seem to think that some things “aren’t what black people do”. Mental issues, mental health and stability have no face, color, socioeconomic status or background. Depression and suicide are things we deal with right in our own backyards…our own living rooms. We have to know and understand that there is nothing wrong with seeking help. You aren’t crazy for seeking help with coping with the loss of a parent or dealing with suicidal thoughts or even for being sad. Those sad thoughts may be more serious than you think if not tackled. To me and I don’t know how much my opinion counts to you but I truly admire those that are out to better themselves and are worried about their own well-being; self-love. I’ve noticed that the black community…it’s of our culture to believe that what happens in our home, stays in our home and that our issues will not be talked about and ridiculed among complete strangers or the Joneses’. Seeking help is saying I know I’m dealing with some things and recognizing the fact that all things aren’t able to be solved in the comfort of your own home but better on someone’s couch. We, yes WE must kill the stigma placed around seeking help. Did we think that these resources were put into place to hinder? We must kill our prides.
I’m sure committing suicide was the last thing on Karyn Washington’s mind at some point; let’s be real here her purpose was to help, promote self-love and seeing the beauty in which we are. I think it’s fair to say everyone can put on a façade but a façade can only be put on for so long. You never know what people are dealing with. Take the time to say something nice. Take the time to check on someone that you haven’t talked to in awhile. You never know what someone is going through and how much of a positive effect your nice words and thoughtful actions can be of help. Know that it is ok to seek help. Do not allow someone to talk you out of taking care of you.
See @myhealthimpact on Twitter, the web at myhealthimpactnetwork.org and on Tumblr for more information on mental health.
Gone too soon….
May 25, 2014
Summer is all about having FUN, and leaving behind all the worries. It’s the season when most people take the time to refocus, reenergize, and find what truly makes them happy again. With that said, I plan on going into summer with a clear heart, mind, and of course, the perfect summer playlist. The songs below provide me with a sense of happiness, a relief from stress, and most importantly, they never seem to get old to me. Whether you are riding around town with your windows down, or jamming out solo in the room, these songs will have you wishing summer would never end.
May 12, 2014
So our university had the opportunity to host one of the greatest concerts of the current music age. The new rebellious hype of Migos accompanied by the classic hard rhymes of Pusha T had the potential to be the greatest concert of ones undergraduate career. This potentially great concert ended before it even began. Two days before the scheduled date of the concert I found out via twitter that the concert that we’ve been so anxious about had been cancelled.
I personally, like many of my colleagues, was looking forward to this concert. This concert was supposed to help me get through the week. As soon as I found out that it was cancelled my mood completely changed. I had my stress reliever for the month taken from me. Stress is real, and when a stress reliever is taken away what do you have left; STRESS.
But this is much more than just a cancelled concert. We as the African American community on campus have had the repeated issue that our voices aren’t truly being heard. Even if we are “heard” our ideals are effortlessly tossed away as trivial or even not relevant to a “bigger” issue. For example there was a historic low of African American students that got accepted by NC State this past fall semester. A total of 215 African American freshmen were accepted to State last semester; yup only 215 out of a school of 35,000.
I know one of the biggest fears coming to state is that I would become white. Straight up, I thought I would be white washed by the very PWI I chose to get an education. I came to African American visitation day before it was renamed “Embrace NC State” and I perspective changed completely. Seeing people “like me” is important, not the most important, to my social skills, my culture, and the quality of my education.
Aside from my disappointment I had to find another way to relive this accumulated stress. I ended up hanging out with friends and just talking about the entire issue. Stress is real and we all need a healthy way to deal with it.
April 17, 2014
Since graduating in December, I find myself transitioning into the next phase of my academic career—Medical School. Though easier said than done, “I want to be doctor”, I find myself trying to find the balance between working and studying for the MCAT. It was just a month ago I was blessed with the opportunity to be hired as a clerical/medical assistant. Being able to gain a hand on experience as well as learning how healthcare is facilitated has been one of my best opportunities. Which in turns only motivates me more. With that said, my road to Medical School continues to become easier and shorter, knowing that I possessed all the support and resources available to make my dream come true. Whether I am going through my MCAT Flashcards or spending countless hours staring at MCAT books, I can’t help to think that every new concept or equation I learn, the closer I get to acing my MCAT in July. In the meantime, I’m learning how to manage my time wisely and become more productive. Every now and then, I make sure to take a personal day to reset and get rid of some stress.
This way I can maintain a healthy lifestyle as I prepare effectively. Overall, I feel like I am making improvements in my study habits and identifying things I need to work on. With three more months to go, I have no time to waste or get behind. At the end of the day, everything I am doing to prepare for this test is worth it. I can’t help to think, that one day “I” could be working as a physician. And it is that thought, that everyday I leave work I find the hidden strength to study. The road to Medical School can be hard and discouraging if you allow it to. However, I will not. As long as I have faith in my ability, I can do all things.
January 29, 2014
Happy New Year everyone, as my first blog of 2014, I wanted to choose a song that would depict the rest of the year. Happy by Pharrell Williams has been the smoothest rack to start my year off. Not only is it a great song, but it is also has the world’s first ever twenty four hour music video. Not saying that listing to it makes me “happy” but it definitely puts me in a mood to groove, which I guess does lighten up my frame of mind. This song helps my drive to complete my work, take initiative, and even make someone else’s day a little bit better. More importantly it lets me know that I can still be innovative. Pharrell has produced and co-produced several classics that my generation enjoys. For him to continue to work and create work that’s original is inspiring. So even in tough times remember stay happy.
January 23, 2014
1) Find a medical doctor who cares and you feel comfortable with sharing your medical history.
2) See your doctor once a year.
3) Get the appropriate medical tests and screenings done (e.g., HIV, blood pressure, bone density).
4) Document your medical history.
5) Know your family medical history; talk to family members about your and their health.
6) Consider using technology to track your health goals (calorie intake, exercise times, types of exercises, weight loss, calories burned, etc.).
7) Get a good night’s sleep.
8) Estimate portion sizes for what you eat.
9) Check condoms for expiration date which is provided on the packaging.
10) Keep a positive spirit.
January 16, 2014
With the New Year, I wanted to create a healthy lifestyle I could maintain throughout the year. It is important to set yourself up for success with a clear mind and body. With that said, I developed 5 easy ways to create a healthy lifestyle.
1. Exercise Daily
If you want to live well and live longer, you must exercise! Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Whether it’s going to a gym class on campus or going on a jog at your local park, there are plenty of ways to incorporate exercise in our daily routines. Try walking to class instead of taking the bus, or joining an intramural sport team. Studies show that just 10 minutes of exercise makes a difference—so do something!
2. Be a picky eater!
Set yourself up for success! Think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change.
Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients.
Eat in moderation. Moderation means eating less than we do now. It doesn’t mean you eliminate the things that you love. Just try to eat more healthy things than unhealthy ones. Also think smaller portions. For example, when dining out, choose a starter instead of an entree, split a dish with a friend, and don’t supersize anything. When at home, use smaller plates, think about serving sizes and start small.
Eat breakfast! Eating fruits and whole grains in the morning can help jumpstart your metabolism and energy for the day.
Avoid eating at night! Try to set a time where don’t eat after. Eating late at during a time when you are less active, can cause weight gain and create unhealthy habits. Studies show that after-dinner snacks tend to be high in fat and calories. So avoid them!
3. Get a good night’s sleep
Keep a regular sleep schedule. Set a regular bedtime and wake up at the same time every day. Nap to make up for lost sleep, but make sure to be smart about napping. While napping can help you recharge, it can also create bad habits when it comes to your sleep cycles. Lastly, create a relaxing sleep environment. Make your room more sleep friendly. Keep the noise down, keep your room cool, and make sure that your bed is comfortable!
4. Keep Healthy Relationships
The healthiest people are those who have relationships with other healthy people. Healthy relationships reduce stress, unhealthy habits, and help motivate you to succeed and do better. Surround yourself with people who are going to uplift you and make you feel better about yourself. Having a strong foundation is essential to life.
5. Give yourself a break!
Find fun activities for you to do to relieve stress! Go to the movies or go shopping. Create new hobbies. Hang out with your friends. Do anything that makes you feel happy. It’s important for you to take a break from life’s stresses and create awesome memories.
October 21, 2013
Health Literacy is defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. It requires a complex group of reading, listening, analytical, and decision-making skills, and the ability to apply these skills to health situations. For example, it includes the ability to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, appointment slips, medical education brochures, doctor's directions and consent forms, and the ability to negotiate complex health care systems. When patients are faced with complex information and treatment decisions, there are specific tasks that should be carried out to ensure that one is getting the best treatment possible. Those tasks include:
• Evaluating information for credibility and quality
• Analyzing relative risks and benefits
• Calculating dosages
• Interpreting test results
• Locating health information.
In order to accomplish these tasks, individuals may need to be:
• Visually literate
• Computer literate
• Information literate
• Numerically or computationally literate
• Oral language skills are important as well.
In addition to that, it is important for patients to articulate their health concerns and describe their symptoms accurately. They need to ask pertinent questions, and they need to understand spoken medical advice or treatment directions. In an age of shared responsibility between physician and patient for health care, patients need strong decision-making skills.
Next time you visit your local physician, make sure you are practicing and carrying out these tasks. It is important for patients to receive the best care possible, as well as, know how to make accurate decisions when it comes to healthcare.
October 06, 2013
I recently attended a program on my campus, which focused on discussing various “hot topics” that affect college students. The topics discussed including: Sex, Relationships, Voting, Religion, and Social Media.
What age is it appropriate to start having sex?
Though many of the topics discussed were interesting, one particular topic stood out to me—What age is it appropriate to start having sex? At first I was appalled. I never knew there was an appropriate age for sex. And if there was, what made that age, the right age?
The answers included: 13, before you go to college, when you’re married, and when you are ready to deal with the consequences.
As I sat in my seat, I began to listen to what others had to say. The answers included: 13, before you go to college, when you’re married, and when you are ready to deal with the consequences. For a moment, I felt embarrassed and hurt that peers thought this was an acceptable topic to discuss. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
Whether I agreed with some of the answers or not, I didn’t want to participate in a discussion that could potentially affect how another individual could make a decision when it comes to sex. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in educating my community about safe sex, but I think it’s important for people to know how much influence they could have on a person.
Whether or not I had an opinion on the topic, I made sure to keep it to myself. I didn’t want my opinion to influence someone else to make an irrational decision about sex. With that said, I think people should realize that we live in a society that most learn by example. And by that topic being discussed, we are saying its okay to assign sex to an age. And if you see nothing wrong with that, than maybe we as people need to evaluate ourselves. From this one experience I learned a valuable lesson: Think before you say, act, and do!
In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State
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