Personal Accounts

Why am I still stressed out?

Author: Francesca Flamini

As a high school student I tend to get stressed out a lot. It seems like every time I have all my work under control one of my teachers decides to throw in a ten page essay just for kicks. After multiple experiments with procrastinating until the last minute, throwing papers together right before school, and freaking out in between class periods, I knew my stress was getting bad. Not only was it affecting my grades, but it was impacting my mental health and emotional state. I knew I had to do something about it.

I’m the kind of person who wants to fix all my problems in the easiest, quickest way possible. So naturally I browsed Amazon. I got color coded folders, a planner, colorful pens, anything I thought would help me stay organized and focused. My complicated system was working perfectly, until end of the year finals rolled around. Over the course of the following weeks my classmates and I were handed packets upon packets of studying material and worksheets. My carefully color coded folders were overflowing with papers, spilling into my backpack. I found myself frantically shoving papers from the red folder into the blue and listening to my french textbook PDF at lunch instead of eating. Needless to say, I was more stressed out than ever. And I realized all my “solutions” to my stress were reliant on me being an organized person (which I’m not). I wanted to look into deeper solutions to stress management, so maybe next year I wouldn’t have to rely on folders to keep my sanity at school. If you’ve ever looked up how to deal with stress, you probably know how disappointed I felt when I saw some of the leading hospitals and medical programs in the nation telling me that it was as simple as getting more sleep, or managing my time. I wanted to know more about the science behind stress. From my thorough google searches, I learned that stress happens when your body feels like it's under attack. This triggers your body's fight or flight response which then causes it to release hormones and chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol.

After learning this I didn’t feel any better about handling my stress (except for maybe being able to answer a question on my next chemistry final). I was feeling pretty defeated. I had searched every question I had about stress and found nothing to help me. While I was searching my many questions, google must have felt my struggle because in my Youtube recommended section, I found Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and Stanford lecturers' Ted Talk. The talk is called “How to make stress your friend”. I skeptically clicked on the video expecting her to tell me to start a stress diary or drink more water, but what I got instead was an actual understanding of my stress and what to do about it. I highly recommend watching the talk because it explains it much better than I can, but here are the main things I took away from it. The stigma that stress is bad for you is just that: a stigma. Stress is not bad for you, stress is your body preparing you to handle the things you’re stressed about. By viewing your stress as helpful and not a sign that you are overwhelmed, your body believes it too and you stay calmer. I know, I just told you one of the things you least wanted to hear- "it's all in your head". But studies have found that stress only affects you negatively when you think that it will. This changed my whole entire outlook on stress. I was so captivated by this that the next day I asked some friends what they thought of stress being a good thing. One of my friends put it very eloquently. She said that whenever she felt stress about something, instead of giving in to the negative nature of stress, she worked through that feeling. She said some of her best work is done in her most stressed state.

After watching the TED Talk and hearing some of my friend’s thoughts, I decided to try to work through my stress instead of getting wrapped up in it. So while I was studying for my last final I decided every time I was feeling stressed, I would channel those emotions into focus and think of it as a positive. I ended up studying for three hours straight (something that was very rare for me). I ended up getting my best score on that final (in a subject I’m not the best at).  Now that I have a positive connotation with stress, I don’t get it as much. I also get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time. Although this has been a great solution for me, I’m still keeping my color coded folders just in case.

 

Sources:

TEDtalksDirector. YouTube, YouTube, 4 Sept. 2013,  www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcGyVTAoXEU&t=488s&index=2&list=PLfxK08mfoVvpqASJAAo49ysW0nELQMJTZ.

“What Is Stress? Symptoms, Signs & More.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress.

Go to Sleep

Author: Daniel Nguyen

I love sleeping, but like most people I sometimes have difficulty going to sleep. We spend a third of our lives sleeping, and making sure you get a sufficient amount of sleep is much more important than you think. Have you ever find yourself staying up at 3am because you just can’t go to sleep? I know it sucks, I’ve been there. But I personally have several methods that have worked for me to get myself to sleep. One method is exercise. Not only is exercise alone good for your health, but I found that moderate exercise in the evening helps me go to sleep because it helps me feel tired. Having a 30 minute jog never fails to make me have the urge to sleep. Another method is resetting your sleeping schedule. What I mean by this is that if you find yourself waking up super late because you stayed up late, set an alarm early such as 8:00, and FORCE yourself to wake up at that time. Don’t take any naps that day, and by the time your bedtime rolls around, you’ll feel very tired and will very likely fall asleep easily. One of the last methods I use to fall asleep is to avoid caffeine. I don’t mean avoid it entirely, but refrain from drinking it in the evening. Coffee in the morning is okay, but as a college student I know many others who use caffeine to help stay up late to study. Caffeine prevents you from falling asleep easily, and you also shouldn’t put off sleep. Sleep is way more important than you may realize.

This year in spring quarter I took an applied mathematics class, and before the midterm my professor gave a short speech in class about sleep. He mentioned how important it is for us to sleep and that he would rather have us get a good sleep than spend the whole night studying. Based on my experiences, I very much agree with him. If you don’t think sleeping is that important, a news article published by the Perspectives on Psychological Science has Christopher Barnes (from the University of Washington) and Christopher Drake (from Henry Ford Hospital) explained how sleep deprived workers will likely make more mistakes, lose creativity, lose self awareness, and an overall negative impact on self-control. So sleep as a whole is very important to our brain because depriving yourself with sleep with impact your thinking and cognitive function. So if you have something important tomorrow such as a test or interview, I would highly suggest to think twice if you’re thinking about staying up. You will perform at best if you get a good night sleep!

 

Sources:

"The Working World Has a Sleep Crisis." Association for Psychological Science. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2018.

I Tried Bullet Journaling: A Popular Creative Outlet

Author: Kelsey Fukuda

I recently picked up a new habit that’s been both fun and has helped me with organizing my thoughts. Bullet journaling is a fairly new trend that’s been appearing in a lot of my YouTube recommended videos, on Facebook, and on Pinterest. Bullet journals use “rapid logging”, which is quicker to jot down than other types of journals. The fun thing about bullet journals is that you can really customize it to be whatever you need it to be. In my case, I use my bullet journal as a planner, to-do list, and inspiration board. The format of my bullet journal is fairly similar to others out there. Each month has a cover page, each week has a weekly spread, and then there are extra pages used to write down ideas that I have.

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Not only has bullet journaling helped me organize my time, it has provided me with a creative outlet. Doodling and journaling are also proven to have cognitive benefits as well! Doodling is known to help with memory, stress relief, and improved focus. One researcher suggests that a reason why doodling is beneficial to us is the idea that doodles are similar to stress-relieving motor acts that alleviate impatience, boredom, and indecision. In some cases, doodling also helps with “affective attention”, which leads to increased watchfulness and concentration. On the other hand, journaling has its own benefits for your mental health and your brain. Journaling is known to help with managing anxiety and reducing stress by facilitating people to prioritize their problems and concerns, track their daily thoughts, and identify positive and negative thoughts or behaviors. Combining journaling and doodling creates a perfect pair.

Every week I try to sit down and plan my upcoming weekly spread. This helps me to organize my schedule and think about any important events I have coming up. At the start of every month, I like to think of a theme that I can stick with when designing my pages. Depending on the goals I have that month, I will sometimes create different visuals for tracking certain things such as habits, mood, sleep, and budget. I sometimes leave pages blank in case I want to create lists or have ideas to write down. For example, before traveling I like to list out places to see and things to eat in that area. Or sometimes I will have a list of recipes that I want to try. Even some gift idea lists are helpful to look back at. The great thing about bullet journals is that you can add whatever you need to it and make it your own. Personally, I like to look at Pinterest for ideas and then adjust them to my preferences and needs. I would definitely recommend trying out bullet journaling! You get to decide how much time and effort you want to put into designing it, so it doesn’t have to be a chore to write down your schedule anymore.

 
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Sources:

Schott, GD. "Doodling and the Default Network of the Brain." The Lancet. N.p., n.d. Web.

Pillay, Srini. "The "thinking" Benefits of Doodling." Harvard Health Blog. N.p., 11 Dec. 2016. Web. 08 May 2018.

"Journaling for Mental Health." Eastman Institute for Oral Health - University of Rochester Medical Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2018.

Want to Improve Your Performance Even Though You Have Anxiety? Don't Stay Calm, Get Excited!

Author: Daniel Nguyen

As a college student, I constantly fall into situations and activities that lead to anxiety and stress. Whether I'm taking a final, heading to a job interview, or doing a presentation in front of my class, anxiety always seems to get the best of me. Most of the time my anxiety cripples down to the point where it can negatively impact how I present myself in these situations. If you find yourself in an anxiety-inducing activity, you may have tried to tell yourself to calm down and relax. Many of us have probably been told that doing this will help, but I am here to tell you that this is the complete opposite of what you should do. Believe it or not, if you want to perform better and help dampen the effects of anxiety, get excited! If you tell yourself to get excited, you may find that you will do much better in these situations than if you focused on relaxation!

Studies on college students at Harvard University has shown getting yourself to become excited helps with performance on activities that trigger anxiety.  In the study, they had 140 participants prepare a public speech. They randomly told people to say either, "I am excited!" or "I am calm." before they begin. It was found that those who said they were excited gave longer, persuasive, and relaxed speeches than those who said they were calm.

If you are unsure on how to get yourself to become excited, try saying out loud a simple statement on excitement! Telling yourself, "I am excited!" can lead you to adopt a more opportunistic mindset which can help bring you to feel more excited about your performance! On the other hand, telling yourself to calm down is ineffective and will most likely produce unwanted effects because you will start thinking about all the things that can go wrong in the performance. You want to instead tell yourself about how things can go really well in your performance, and getting yourself excited will help a lot with this.

I've always struggled with presentations and interviews, and fighting against anxiety makes it twice as worse. But gradually I became better at managing it. It used to be the case where even knowing that I'm about to present next will cause my heart to race and my body to get all sweaty and itchy. My voice would sound weak and at this point I would start messing up my sentences when I speak. Thankfully, near the end of high school I adopted the excitement method to try to help with my anxiety, and I would say it helped a ton! It's hard to explain, but if I'm getting excited for something, my thought process changes as a whole. It makes me feel like I'm showing the class something amazing rather than feeling like the class will be judging every move I make.

Being excited helps drift my focus away from irrational thoughts. Whenever I get anxiety, I start thinking negatively about how other people might perceive my actions. This would always cause me to lose my train of thought during a presentation or interview because I would think to myself, "Wait…are people understanding what I am saying right now?" and I would proceed to ponder about what my next word choices should be. All of this contributes to an overwhelming feeling of doom. Gratefully, getting myself to be excited helps clear this mindset because it shifts my attention from how people perceive me to how exciting the subject is!

In a nutshell, anxiety can be a big influence in the choices we make and how we act. Feeling excited about what you're about to dive into will highly improve your performance. While this did help me a ton, I wouldn't say this got rid of all of my anxiety. I still get nervousness and irrational thoughts from time to time, but this method has helped calm my anxiety down immensely. And to whomever is still reading this and needs help with anxiety, please don't try to calm yourself, instead become enthusiastic! Be thrilled that you have the chance to perform! Be inspired that you can finally do your presentation! Be eager to take that test and ace it! It's all about populating your mindset with positive attitude and thoughts!

 

Sources:

American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2018.

Food for the Brain

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Author: Laura Freeman

Spring is a stressful time for many of us, whether it’s because we’re finalizing taxes, planning a big trip for the summer, or applying for jobs or internships. Overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done, and everything we want to do, we tend to overlook one of our basic needs – healthy eating. Too often, I find myself stopping by the Jack in the Box across the street for a quick meal and an Oreo milkshake, or ordering Italian from Postmates on the days I feel like spending a bit more. Besides contributing to the United States’ obesity epidemic, unhealthy eating can intensify the effects of a brain injury (Wolpert).

Studies also show that diets high in saturated fats and trans fats can hinder cognition. In particular, the consumption junk food and fast food has shown adverse effects on learning and memory (Wolpert). Fortunately, just as there are bad foods for the brain, there are also good foods! Folic acid, found in various foods such as spinach and oranges, is critical for brain function. Likewise, omega-3 fatty acids have been used to treat Alzheimers, as well as other memory deficits (Wolpert). Other healthy foods include whole grains, beans, seeds, and tea (Sorgen).

This got me thinking about how healthy eating may help me feel less stressed and more energetic. It isn’t that I enjoy eating fast food or ordering from Postmates every night – it’s just more convenient and cheaper (or so I thought). What could I make that is quick and healthy?

And then, it hit me: grain bowls! Grain bowls, like Mason jar salads and avocado toast have been all the rage lately, but they usually use expensive “superfoods”, like chia seeds, quinoa, and out-of-season avocados. Even though I can’t afford to use those ingredients regularly, I could still make grain bowls with cheaper alternatives!

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With those healthy brain foods in mind, I make a quick stop at Trader Joe’s and discover, to my delight, that the ingredients for five portions amounted to only $11.93 – cheaper than my average Postmates order! I begin peeling sweet potatoes, grinding spices, sautéing chickpeas, roasting tofu, boiling farro, and cubing feta cheese. Soon enough, it all comes together as a stunning, aromatic cornucopia of healthy foods. In just one hour of prepping and cooking, I managed to make enough food for the whole week’s lunches. In my mind, it’s a win-win-win situation; I pay less for healthier food that makes me feel energized and focused on the busy season to come.

 

Sources:

Sorgen, C. (2006). Eat Smart for a Healthier Brain. Retrieved April 10, 2018

Wolpert, S. (2008, July 09). Scientists learn how what you eat affects your brain - and those of your kids. Retrieved April 10, 2018

On Board: one Plus One staffer's personal experiences

Living with a brain or a body that doesn't work the same as other people's is hard. It's hard physically, and mentally; socially, as the world expects things that your brain and body can't deliver. One of my family members grew up with and lives with Autism. She was born in 1944, so Autism and the spectrum weren't commonly understood diagnoses. She was held to a standard which she could not reach and then punished for her differences. She's had a hard life. She's hyper focused, prone to paranoia, and full of fear but her life is not all darkness. The things that bring her joy light her face up and make such a difference in her life. Her laugh is so cute. As a caretaker, it's important for me to maximize those joy-related activities as much as possible.

Getting her active and out of her care facility is one of the things that brings her the most balance and happiness. Having access to physical activity in a caring environment is so important to her. For people like her who have limited access, who have perhaps fallen through the cracks in the system for most of their life, the opportunities Plus One provides can make the difference between good brain chemistry and depression, between isolation and a full life. I've seen personally the difference that swim therapy can make, that exercise can have for people like her.  I'm now on the board of Plus One and I'm so proud of the things that we're doing. I can't tell you how much it means to me to be able to work on a program that grants access to people who've never been considered or prioritized before in their lives. Some of my family member's life stories break my heart, but the program's she's participating in now, and the help that she's receiving gives me hope. 

Thank you Plus One, for all the people you prioritize, for all the brain changing services you enable, and for all your care.

Passion Over Pressure

Author: Siena Helland

I have been playing soccer for as long as I can remember, and I probably learned to kick a ball
before I learned to walk. The sport has been a large part of my life and has shaped me into the
person I am today. My dad introduced me to the sport at a young age, and my love for the game led me to playing for a club team. From there, I traveled across the United States competing against some of the top teams in the country, and I had my sights set on playing in college. As I was nearing the end of my high school years and preparing for college, I had realized that playing soccer was no longer fun. I no longer was excited to go to practice, compete in games, or wanted to play in college. My passion for the game was replaced by anxiety, and I was forced to outplay my friends so the college scouts would want me and not them. The pressure got to me, and by the end of my junior year of high school, I left my competitive team and lost my favoritesport.

After seeing the sadness from losing one of my favorite pass times, my dad had found a co-ed
adult team that I could join. My senior year of high school I had a trial run and they immediately invited me to join their team. It's now been three years and I continue to play every week with this team. This league is competitive and we play against good teams, but there is no pressure to be perfect, no one to impress, and no one subbing you out if you miss hit a ball. I finally found an atmosphere that allowed me to play soccer in a relaxed and pressure-free environment, providing me the happiness I'd been searching for.


Every week I look forward to my Thursday night games and being able to exercise, clear my
mind, and participate in an activity that I love. There are so many of us that exercise and play
sports in negative environments or under conditions that do not give us happiness, but instead
cause us stress. Exercise is supposed to be a stress reliever and provide us happiness along with good health. By finding joy in exercising, you create a healthy environment for yourself, not only physically, but mentally as well. Exercising can help you clear your mind of stressors and think about what's important to you. It can also help you find a positive attitude, boost your self-esteem, and bring happiness into your life. Exercising and playing a sport is one thing, but if you can do this while reducing stress and pressure and incorporating more passion and joy, the benefits of exercising will increase, and your well-being will thank you.

 

Sources:
Organic Facts. "Surprising Benefits of Playing Sports" Organic Facts.
https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/health- benefits-of- playing-sports.html.
Published February 14, 2018.

What Licensed Naturopaths Say About MS

Author: Catherine Waterbury

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS is “an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.” MS effects more than 2.3 million people worldwide and can be extremely difficult to diagnose. Unfortunately, there is not a cure for MS. Common treatments for MS include: teaming up with a healthcare provider, taking pharmaceutical medication, and participating in physical therapy.

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MS-Symptoms-FB

Other treatment options for MS are referred to as “Commentary or Alternative Medicines” (CAM). These treatments include exercise, alternative diet, and the addition of supplements. In a study done by members of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, 52% of the naturopaths being surveyed suggested dietary changes to treat MS. The study also indicated that 45% of the naturopaths suggested essential fatty acid supplementation and 33% suggested vitamin/mineral supplementation. At the end of the study, 59% of patients claimed they experienced an improved quality of life by using a CAM system.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society advises those with MS to not “abandon conventional therapy” and be sure to “keep your physician informed about everything you are taking”. With that being said, if you are interested in adding elements of CAM system to your treatment, you should! There are a large variety of therapies you could try, including: acupuncture, nutrition lessons, exercise, cooking classes, and many more!

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Can-acupuncture-mend-a-broken-heart

If you have MS and are interested in an CAM style therapy, The Plus One Foundation may be able to help you fund your therapy. Please look over our website for more information!

Sources:

"Home." National Multiple Sclerosis Society. N.p., 16 Feb. 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.

"All IssuesUp Arrow In This IssueDown Arrow Left ArrowPrevious Article Next ArticleRight Arrow The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine About This Journal... Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Multiple Sclerosis: Survey of Licensed Naturopaths." The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web.

Diabetes While Young

Author: Farhan Mohamed

I learned that the trouble in my family had finally reached me. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in May 2015. Since then my life has changed in many ways. I’ve been living with diabetes and I’ve learned a lot about myself since then. When I first learned I had diabetes, I was scared, and it was a big shock. My life was going to change. I couldn’t enjoy the things I loved anymore. All the sugary foods and drinks I had everyday were going to be a thing of the past. I was addicted to eating cookies. Cookies were and still are my favorite desert. It was something that was hard to give up but for my health I was willing to let it all go. I found a new passion for eating healthier. I was extreme with my diet and only ate foods that my nutritionist told me was okay. I gave up breads, pastas, and only drank water. This new healthy lifestyle lasted only 8 months and after then I slowly slipped back into my regular diet. I forgot I had diabetes and stopped taking my medicine. This was very dangerous for me. A normal person is supposed to have a blood sugar level between 80 and 120 and when I went to my yearly diabetes appointment last year my blood sugar level was 577.  My doctor was shocked and told me to fix my life because a person as young as I am can reverse a lot of the diabetes and live a healthy lifestyle through good dieting and working out. I am now on the road to recovery and my medication has changed. It is hard to give up the temptations of sugar, but I know I must change things while young or my diabetes will consume me when I’m older. It’s hard to take my medication every day and I’m still not good at remembering but I’m making an effort.

Diabetes is a disease that involves issues with insulin production in the body. There is no cure for diabetes. The only way to combat diabetes is to stay healthy with diet and exercise. There are three major types of diabetes being type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes often begins in childhood. It is an autoimmune condition. Treatment for type 1 diabetes involves taking insulin that is injected via syringes. You can keep track of how good you are taking care of your diabetes through your A1C level from the blood test. It estimates your glucose level in your blood over the previous three months. It’s helpful to help identify glucose level control and risks of complications from the disease. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and it accounts for 95% of diabetes cases in adults. Type 2 diabetes is milder than type 1 but can still cause a lot of complications. Type 2 diabetes effects the small blood vessels in the body that nourish the kidneys, nerves, and eyes. It is very controllable through diet and medication. For more information about diabetes check with your doctor.

 

Sources:

"Types of Diabetes Mellitus." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2018.

Traveling as a Stress Reliever

Author: Erin Keating

Shoes off, sweater off, everything out of my pockets. Laptop in separate bin, backpack and everything else in another. Arms up over head and feet spread slightly. Grab everything as fast as you can and head to the gate.

Airport security is something I like to think that I have mastered. I have learned a lot of tricks for making my time at the airport as easy as possible. Like not wearing difficult shoes, just a pair that you can take on and off easily. And making sure you at least have a couple snacks with you since airport food is more expensive and not that great.

Traveling is one of my passions and I’m always on the lookout for another opportunity to escape, especially somewhere warm in the winter months. Living on the west coast, a popular place I like to go to is California, sometimes to visit family in San Francisco and sometimes to just have fun in Los Angeles.

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Recently, I went to London and Paris for a month. I learned so much about new cultures and art and it was so much fun to roam new cities I have never been to before. There are great benefits for travel and I have found that by saving up a little bit here and there, making a trip happen is easy.

A study published by HostelWorld Global Traveler Report showed that there are five significant benefits of traveling abroad. First being that traveling makes you healthier and decreases the risk of heart disease. It also reduces stress, specifically after you’ve returned home and are feeling the benefits of being well rested and at ease. Traveling as makes you more creative with the immersion into a culture. It increases your happiness and satisfaction levels and it decreases depression.

All of these benefits I can attest to. When I return home from traveling, I feel happy to be home and to see my family and friends, but I also feel like I have gained a new experience and fun memories to look back on.

Sources:

"5 Reasons Traveling Abroad Is Seriously Good for Your Health." NBCNews.com. NBCUniversal News Group, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2018.

I Don't Have Time!

Author: Olivia Tang

Whether it’s because of school, work, or a combination of both. Our professional and educational lives seem to get in the way of doing what we love!

Admittedly, when I started my first year of college I had trouble adjusting to the class structure and the freedom of choosing what to do with my time. Teachers in high school would spend more time on topics than professors in college. The pace of college classes was faster as well.

Being new to the college grind, I didn’t know how to allocate my time for my classes while also leaving time for fun and social life. This made it easy for me to think that I didn’t have any free time at all. Everything became more manageable after I started planning.

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I started writing down all my tasks for the day into my sketchbook. I write everything I need to get done for the next week, and I circle all the important tasks I need to get done. I find that crossing off the tasks at the end of the day to be incredibly satisfying, and whenever I don’t have a spurt of motivation when I need it I use that time to draw in my sketchbook. It gives me more time to look at the to do list I’ve made for myself on the page and it also gives me time to do something I love, drawing! Psychologists say that 25% of our happiness comes from how we manage our own stress.

We feel happiness due to the effects of Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins. Together these chemicals help design our own happiness. According to Nicole Lazzaro, a world-renowned game designer that specializes on gamifying experiences, each chemical that affects our happiness plays a different role in how we experience happiness.

Lazzaro explains that we typically think of Dopamine as the “happiness drug” when in reality dopamine more affects our feeling of anticipation. Oxytocin is the chemical that allows us to feel empathy, and we feel closer to close friends and family when it is released. Serotonin is a mood regulated, which means it is responsible for our good moods and our bad moods, and Endorphins are hormones that mask pain and discomfort and help us power through workouts and achieve our goals.(Buckner)

Stress depletes these chemicals. When we are stressed we produce the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol depletes our levels serotonin and dopamine--chemicals that affect our motivation, and susceptibility to depression and anxiety. It’s normal to deal with stress, but it is not easy to deal with. Psychologist, Robert Epstein says “The most important way to manage stress is to prevent it from ever occurring.”- which means planning ahead!

Sources:

Buckner, Clark. "4 Chemicals That Activate Happiness, and How to Use Them."TechnologyAdvice. N.p., 18 Oct. 2017. Web. 01 Feb. 2018.

"Chronic Stress – The Effects On Your Brain." Australian Spinal Research Foundation. N.p., 30 June 2016. Web. 01 Feb. 2018.

Peláez, Marina Watson. "Plan Your Way to Less Stress, More Happiness." Time. Time, 31 May 2011. Web. 01 Feb. 2018.

Getting in the Habit

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Author: Kelsey Fukuda

As a senior in college, I want to express thankfulness towards my parents for continuously involving me in activities when I was younger.

In middle and high school, they encouraged me to join cheerleading, gymnastics, and ice skating. I admit that it was a lot easier to feel healthy when I was constantly exercising and had home cooked meals for me. When I started college, I had only moved about 15 miles away from home, but I was living in the dorms away from my family.

It was hard adjusting to a life where I was so busy with school work and I felt like I didn’t have the time or energy to maintain healthy habits.

 

In my junior year I started running with my roommate on a consistent basis. When you exercise with a friend, there’s a lot of joint motivation and you try to keep each other accountable. Now, in my senior year, my roommate stopped running but I’ve continued going. This is a huge contrast from what my life used to be like. Before, I used to think that exercising without being on a team or without a coach would be scary and difficult.

Looking back, I think the hardest thing about habits is introducing new ones into your life. It’s disruptive when you’ve become comfortable with something else. The next hardest thing is maintaining what you are doing when you start doing things right. However, just forcing myself to start leading a healthier lifestyle was a huge factor in improving how I feel now. Setting goals for myself that I felt like I could achieve greatly improved my mindset. Studies find that exercising is so good for your health AND your brain! Aerobic exercise improves brain function. Running in particular is associated with cell growth in the hippocampus (part of the brain related to learning and memory).

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My other habit I had issues with that I’m still working on involves cooking. My dad loves to cook, so before I moved away for college I hardly ever went out to eat. Last year I was talking with a classmate about desiring to cook my own meals more. She exclaimed that she recently started cooking her own meals and gave me a few tips: have a few favorite recipes, compile recipe lists for grocery shopping, and meal prep whenever possible.

One study found that cooking at home is both healthier and cheaper. Home cooked meals are associated with greater dietary compliance. Making home cooked meals has so many benefits and I want to get better at making it a habit! In relation to the brain, cooking helps people organize, prioritize, sustain focus, solve problems, retrieve memories and multitask.

My main takeaway for getting in the habit of exercising or cooking: if you have time, just do it! These habits are both better for you and they make you feel better yourself.

Sources:

https://www.brainhq.com/brain-resources/everyday-brain-fitness/physical-exercise  

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170314150926.htm

https://healthybrains.org/cooking-cognition-making-meal-good-brain

Being a Gymnast

Author: Catherine Bennion

As a semi-serious gymnast, I can easily say that there is no other relief like the relief that comes from exercise. There are few feelings greater than reaching a goal that I have been working towards for a while, or leaving a good workout feeling proud and accomplished. Being in school, I often go to practice after a long and stressful day and the last thing I want to do is exercise. It seems like too much, and a waste of time when I could be doing other things to reduce stress. Though after practice, I always leave feeling accomplished and free of stress, and exercise was a great distraction for all of the many other things going on in my life. This is because exercise triggers the release of chemicals in your body such as serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, dopamine. These chemicals dull pain, release stress, and make you happier. Not only will exercise make you feel better, but exercising even just once a week is great for your physical health.

Not only is exercise good for your physical health, but it is overwhelmingly great for your brain as well. Increased level of exercise are linked to decreases in depression, better memory, and faster learning. Additionally, recent studies have shown that exercising is the best way to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's. Though it is not clear why, scientists know that exercise changes the structure of the brain for the better. It increases blood flow to the brain which helps to promote the growth of new brain cells. It also triggers the release a protein in the brain called BDNF that triggers the growth of new neurons and helps to mend and protect the brain from regeneration.

I have been doing gymnastics for 12 years now and I can easily say that I have never regretted going to practice, though I have regretted not going. Exercise is one of the best releases for stress, as well as improving self-esteem and making you feel great! Next time you have an hour to spare, consider doing something active; go for a run or bike ride, take a yoga class or go for a swim, whatever works for you.

Sources:

http://time.com/4474874/exercise-fitness-workouts/

Noah's Success Story!

Plus One Foundation helps so many people and we love doing it. The thing that makes us truly happy is when we hear stories such as this one and it's such a wonderful story that we just had to share it!  My name is Trishana and I am the proud mom of a special needs child named Noah.

Noah is 15 years old, and has struggled a bit more than the typical child with Autism, club feet, Spina biffida acolta, scoliosis, Somatic dramatic language disorder, and dyslexia.

With that said he is such a compassionate, kind, loving child. When Noah sees a disabled person struggling he always says "Mom I just pray that other people don't make fun of them the way they made fun of me." Noah has always wanted friends so badly. It has certainly been a struggle for him and such a strong desire.

I'll never forget the day a few years back when three neighborhood boys who have always ignored my son and teased him throughout his childhood, knocked on our door asking Noah if he would like to ride scooters with them. Before I could stop Noah, he was out the door with his new birthday scooter and a giant smile on his face. Noah ran inside 5 minutes later Saying “Mama, mama they really want to be my friend now. They just asked me to check the time for them.”

When he returned with the time..... they were gone and so was his new scooter. Needless to say Noah was heartbroken and devastated.

Shortly after we found a program called Little Bit Horse Therapy and signed Noah up for riding lessons. He sure loved grooming the horses and looking in their eyes and learning their body language.

Noah finally found friends who loved him unconditionally. They were in the form of animals, but friends no less.

Due to financial struggles we could no longer afford little bits lessons. Noah was heartbroken as he had to say goodbye to the horses that truly became Noah's friends. I still remember Noah kissing goodbye to his favorite horse Sunny on the side of the face and a tear started rolling down Noah's cheek.

I called Little Bit to explain our situation and due to a lack of funding they couldn't help Noah at that time. The gal at Little Bit told me about an exciting new foundation called the Plus One Foundation and gave me a contact number and said you never know, maybe they can help Noah out.

Within 3 hours of me leaving them a voicemail message explaining our situation, I received a phone call back from Kacey Kroeger, from the Plus One Foundation. I'll never forget that compassionate, female voice on the phone. So excited to talk to me. Within the two minutes of our conversation, all Kacey could say over and over was: “We really want to help you. We want to find a way to help Noah.”

She began to say “This is exactly why we are starting this foundation. This is why we've spend all of these long hours fighting to get this foundation off the ground. For all the other Noah's in the world.” Kacey said “We can't give up on Noah. He deserves to experience all the same things other typically developing children do. Friendships, good self esteem and success.”

Because of Plus One Foundation’s generous donation Noah is still riding horses at Little Bit as of today. Noah's self esteem has improved tremendously. He has fallen in love with several horses and even made real human friends there.

Thanks to the Plus One Foundation we've discovered that Noah is really a very good rider. Noah even went on to compete in two horse shows. Noah's face lit up with such pride and amazement as he heard his name being called as the first place winner. Not once, but twice.

As you can imagine these ribbons are so proudly displayed in our home and most importantly in Noah's heart and his self-esteem.

This story that I share with you is bigger than just a special needs child, riding a horse. It's about a child who will now carry with him his entire life the feeling of success, true friendship, and the most importantly the knowledge that a group a strangers at the time, now known to our family as the Plus One Foundation, believed in Noah and his dream to ride.

Thank you Sincerely, Trishana

To help more children, like Noah, and adults with neurological disorders, diseases, or injuries check out our homepage at http://www.plusonefoundation.org/

Also we have our Retro Bingo Fundraiser coming up in less than a month. This is NOT your grandma’s bingo. Join us for a night of food, bingo, and fun to support a great cause! You can register online!

Or if you can’t make it you can always donate here

To hear more success stories check out our YouTube channel