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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.

A Personal Story

Author: Billy Hao

About a year ago, I lived in an orange and blue apartment building near the University of Washington Seattle campus. It was a warm, spring afternoon as I walked back to my room after class. As soon as I entered the room, I put my backpack on the floor and lay down on my bed. Bored, I opened the YouTube app on my iPhone and started watching some videos. After a few minutes, I became aware that closing the blinds would help keep the room cool. I immediately got up and started adjusting them. The next thing I remember is waking up next to a pool of blood. Confused, I started to clean up the mess. I wasn’t sure where the blood was coming from, but eventually discovered that there was a cut on the back of my head. I called a friend over to examine the severity of the wound and he convinced me to call my parents. They made the 30-minute drive from my childhood home to my apartment building and sent me to the emergency room. After asking a few questions to test my memory and cognition, the doctor stapled the cut together. It turns out that I had gotten up too fast and blacked out as I was adjusting the blinds. I fell backward and hit my head against the edge of a wall. It’s been about a year since the incident, but the scar is still visible today.

In the immediate aftermath of the injury, I had no problems with memory and no decrease in cognitive ability. As far as I know, my brain is working fine. However, there was a brief period of time when the fear of permanent brain damage kept me up at night. Watching the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith as doctor Omalu (IMDb, 2015) convinced me that I may suffer from CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Of course, this is far from the truth. After a few days of paranoia, I did some research and found that “CTE is not caused by any single injury, but rather it is caused by years of regular, repetitive brain trauma” (Concussion Legacy Foundation). Still, my injury taught me the importance of good health and the fragility of life. Life is dependent on being able to move and think clearly, and one head injury can take that all away.

My experience with a mild traumatic brain injury has inspired me to help others who have not been as lucky. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), neurological disorders affect up to one billion people worldwide (Bertolote & Medialine, 2007). Others in the world suffer from concussions and neurological disorders that are far more severe than my own. Reading the testimonials of recipients of Plus One grants compelled me to intern here at this company and share my story. Throughout my life, I plan to support non-profit organizations like this one in order to help the victims of such unfortunate circumstances.

 

Sources:

"Neurological Disorders Affect Millions Globally: WHO Report." World Health Organization. World Health Organization, 08 Dec. 2010. Web. 25 July 2018.

"What Is CTE?" Concussion Legacy Foundation. N.p., 20 June 2018. Web. 25 July 2018.

"Concussion (2015)." IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 25 July 2018.

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.

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.

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.

The Secret to Seasonal Sadness

Author: Natalie Andrewski

As the winter season blossoms into spring, it is almost impossible to notice a change of environment here in Seattle. Not only are flowers blooming and the sun is beginning to make more adamant appearances, but the people of this city seem to begin transitioning as well. During the winter months, the “Seattle Freeze”, as the often passive aggressive and not-so-welcoming demeanor of local Seattleites has been labeled by transplants, is very apparent. Groups of friends prefer to remain exclusive, and the activities they participate in may usually occur inside. However, once Spring has sprung, the frozen attitudes of Seattleites appears to defrost. Parks all over the city are filled with groups of people attempting the ever-tricky slack line, running with unexpected zeal, and hiking to new ascents. Rather than avoiding eye contact, members of the city are engaging in conversations with new people in attempt to try a new activity or finally say hello to a familiar face. I began to question why a singular season transition could have such a stark contrast in an entire city’s demeanor, and I believe my answer lies in the notion of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Growing up in Southern California, I was surrounded by sunshine basically 365 days a year. Most days were glorious enough to be spent outside, and my mom often referred to me as her “sunflower”. When I was in the 6th grade, my family migrated from California to the Pacific Northwest. Of course, the year we moved to Washington was recorded as having record rain fall in the Olympia area, and my days of playing outside were replaced with indoor entertainment. Even in my younger days, I knew my energy levels and happiness was positively correlated with my time spent in the sunshine. I began to struggle with depression, even though I didn’t quite understand that concept yet, and I would suffer from stress that would effect my quality of health poorly. After all these years, I have finally made the connection between the weather and my mood.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a “mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter”. It is quite an extraordinary event that people can maintain a stable mental health pattern for the majority of the year, but then be so affected by light levels that an imbalance occurs in the brain. These imbalances can lead to depression, hopelessness, and suicide. The main chemical involved in the brain during this process is serotonin, which is recorded as being in lower than average levels in patients suffering from the disorder. It appears that the brain becomes incapable of converting serotonin into N-acetylserotonin, which involves the enzyme serotonin N-acetyltransferase. In certain cases, antidepressants function by increasing levels of the enzyme serotonin N-acetyltransferase in order to increase levels of conversion and a reduction of depression-like symptoms. It has been discovered that patients that suffer from this disorder often have a delay in their circadian rhythm, which is a delay in their sleep patterns. The relation to sleep patterns also promotes the idea that the hormone melatonin is affected by this disorder. There are a variety of other factors that can contribute to suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, including a person’s predisposition to personality traits, such as agreeableness and an avoidance-orientated coping style (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

In order to begin alleviating the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, the interventions of light therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and supplementation of the hormone melatonin have been utilized, but I will focus on light therapy. In terms of light therapy, the use of a lightbox that emits an elevated level of lumens is necessary. The lights of the lamps can range in wavelength and lumen levels, usually depending on the light of the lamp: bright white “full spectrum” lights at 10,000 lux, blue light at a wavelength of 480 nm at 2,500 lux, or green-blue light at a wavelength of 500 nm at 350 lux. The process of light therapy usually lasts 30-60 minutes of being exposed to the light consistently.

 

Sources:

Seasonal Affective Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml.

Tommy Manning Act

Author: Aimee Garcia

Seattle has a relatively new initiative to help people with traumatic brain injury named The Washington Traumatic Brain Injury Strategic Partnership Advisory Council, commonly known as the Tommy Manning Act. It was created through House Bill 2055 by the Washington State Legislature in 2007. It is to “recognize the current programs and services are not funded or designed to address the diverse needs of individuals with traumatic brain injuries.”  Its creation is to close the gap in knowledge by collecting the expertise from both the public and private sector. Membership includes twenty two people from both sectors that includes medical professionals, human service providers, family members of individuals, state agency representatives, and many more that can provide useful information to advance their agenda.

The Tommy Manning Act has taken upon itself to work in unison with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services to address some of their goals. Unfortunately, the Manning Act has not posted their own goals on their website but directs the reader to the DSHS website, where they do not explicitly have goals that directly affect people with brain injuries.

Though the act is still fairly, new it could potentially have the momentum to change the lives and the families of those who have been affected by traumatic brain injuries. Yet, they have not stated their own goals and rely heavily on DSHS without any visible momentum to directly address the concerns of people with brain injuries. Yes, the program are only eleven years old but in those years, there has not been noticeable change for the people most in need.

Sources:

“Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Council.” Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Council | DSHS, www.dshs.wa.gov/altsa/traumatic-brain-injury/traumatic-brain-injury-advisory-council.

“About Us.” About Us | DSHS, www.dshs.wa.gov/altsa/about-us.

 

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.

MS-Symptoms-FB
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!

Can-acupuncture-mend-a-broken-heart
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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Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 12.12.53 PM

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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Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 2.47.11 PM.png

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/

A Reflection on Autism Awareness Month

We're coming to the end of April, Autism Awareness Month. But have any of us become anymore aware? Do any of us know that 30% of people who live with disabilities live below the poverty line? This includes those who have autism spectrum disorder. Most people don't know that this condition is called Autism Spectrum Disorder for a reason. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.  Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD. While other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS)." Most of those who live with this condition are diagnosed at a younger age due to unusual behavior and the inability to meet miles stones such as talking by age two. There has been success in helping treat symptoms with therapy but like no person with Autism is the same, no treatment can be the same. Most of these catered services and therapies are not covered by insurance and can be too expensive for these individuals and their families to afford.

Plus One Foundation held an event geared towards individuals with ASD, it was our Free Art Care for Everyone Work Shop. This event allowed these people to express themselves in the company of one another through paint and arts and crafts at Seattle Pacific University. According to the American Art Therapy Association, "art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.” A lot of individuals that have autism lack the ability to speak or process language and verbal communication, but what they can do is process information visually. They record information through images and visual information. This makes expressing themselves through this way by using art is essential.

Art Workshop 1Art Workshop 2

Plus One Foundation will be hosting more Art, Pilates, and Melt workshops. We invite those who have autism or care for someone with ASD to join. For more information about these workshops and the opportunity to apply for one on one programs visit our website.

www.plusonefoundation.org

Why Plus One?

With Seattle’s GiveBIG tomorrow, a lot of people are being bombarded with emails and their Facebook newsfeed is overrun with news from all the non-profits in the Seattle area. Thinking about GiveBIG and all the non profits raised some questions for me. Considering there are more than 1,400 non-profits participating in GiveBIG, what is a non-profit? And how do you choose who to give to for GiveBIG?

 

This is what I found for a basic definition:

A nonprofit is a tax-exempt organization that serves the public interest. In general, the purpose of this type of organization must be charitable, educational, scientific, religious or literary. The public expects to be able to make donations to these organizations and deduct these donations from their federal taxes.

 

As I was going through the 1,400 non-profits I found some that I had never heard of and just stood out to me. Such as the Plumbers Without Borders, this is not to help plumbers as I originally thought when I read that but to help people suffering from the lack of access to safe water and sanitation. Another was the Grandmother Project which is an international development organization working to improve the health and well-being of women and children. And another is Urban Sparks, a nonprofit that enables high performance volunteer leaders to bring their vast talents to public projects. These are just some non-profits amongst over a thousand. So this raises the question to which non-profit should you donate to during GiveBIG?

 

Well Plus One, DUH! Who did you think I was going to say? The Plumbers?

 

I do have a reason as to why Plus One is deserving of your donations. Let’s look at what Plus One does. We fund grants to individuals with neurological disorders, injuries, or disease. There are over 600 different documented neurological disorders worldwide and this list is always growing. Now let’s compare our goal to some of the other the non-profits, such as the Northwest Parkinson Foundation or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  There is one thing in common between these two large neurological non-profits; they both focus on ONE neurological disorder. Plus One’s goal is to help everyone in the list of 600+ neurological disorders, not just a portion of it. Now here is another way to think about it, there are approximately 1 billion people worldwide who are affected by a neurological disorder. Compare this to Multiple Sclerosis which affects 2.5 million people worldwide. As you can see we have a lot more work on our hands than the MS Society.

 

So tomorrow when you get up and think “hmmm who should I donate to today, the Plumbers Without Borders? Or Plus One Foundation?” The answer is simple, Plus One Foundation, because we have a lot of work to get done and we cannot do all that work without your help. So please donate to Plus One Foundation for it is thanks to you that we can to work on our goal to help 1 billion people.

 

To check out more information about GiveBIG and to donate go to http://www.seattlefoundation.org/Pages/Default.aspx

Or to see the list of non-profits go to http://www.seattlefoundation.org/npos/Pages/FindANonprofit.aspx

 

Also no offense to the Plumbers! I’m sure you do amazing work too!