Reflection #1: Pyramids

Hello there readers. Did you miss the rest of Team Courage? Well it’s all good because we’re back! All of us! A lot of you have been asking what has been going on in our lives lately, well I can give you the brief outline that we have all been insanely incredibly busy. Our senior prom was a little while ago and that was pretty amazing. Also, team courage is going in relay for life and we have almost raised $800 for it so far! We have been selling awareness bracelets and we are having a garage sale tomorrow to try and fundraise some more to bring up our funds to around $900! This month is all about physical health, so we have made the effort to try and be as healthy as possible. We start this month by reflecting on our eating habits and how that could change.

************************************************************************************

Nathan: I have to admit I may like my grains a little too much. Bread, rice, pasta, cereal, bagels, crackers; you name it, I love it. I am lacking in my dairy intake however. I mean, I love milk and yogurt and whatnot, but I always find myself drifting towards the lasagna instead of the cottage cheese (does anyone actually eat that stuff?). Healthy eating isn’t always about eating the “right” food (though a big part of it is), it’s a lot about eating the right amount of foods too.You can eat the exact right variety of foods, but if you’re inhaling carrots by the dozen, it’s not all that healthy. Yes, eating the right kinds of foods, avoiding junk food where possible, and ensuring you have a balanced diet is important, but quantity is just as important, and it’s often overlooked in this discussion. Weight control, increased energy, improved mood, protection from disease, and ultimately, extended life. With the proper nutrients, your body functions the way it wants to, and as you can probably guess, you’re the healthiest when your body functions properly.

Kyndra: To me eating healthy is usually pretty important because my body depends on a specific amount of certain beneficial parts of food. For example, if I don’t eat enough protein I become very nauseous, dizzy/lightheaded, and grumpy. I also find that healthy eating helps me with my fatigue, the better I eat, the less tired I am. I think healthy eating is listening to your body and knowing what’s best for it. For example, two years ago I finally listened to my body and I learned I was allergic to gluten, turns out I had been poisoning myself for 15 years. I think it is essential that you find what healthy eating means to you and stick to it! Eating healthy can help fight diseases which can be incredibly helpful in life. It can fight against heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. All of these can lead to serious symptoms and crucial, life changing effects. It can also help with diabetes, depression, arthritis and many other illnesses. It is highly important that one maintains a healthy diet to have a healthy body.

Hannah: The food group that I get the most of is probably grains. I am a big lover of pasta and I eat cereal pretty much every morning. But I happen to be lacking in every other aspect. The only nutrient I get enough of on a daily basis is sodium. I know that this is bad, deficiencies can have a lot of bad effects so hopefully this will change soon. I think that eating healthy is important because it really gets the body going and keeps you super awake. I like to actually be awake in the mornings when my alarm goes off, but this doesn’t usually happen because I don’t eat properly. Eating healthy is just all-around good. Building off of last month, healthy foods will actually improve your mood as well! Do you ever find that if you don’t eat you get really moody? Well try eating healthier… You may find yourself in a better mood most of the time!

Jeremiah: I love eating fruit, it’s cool because i just find it so delicious and easy but it’s also good for you so that’s a rare combination. Grains less so, I don’t have those too much, I like bread but I don’t put it in a lot of my meals. To me, eating healthy is pretty important. I just like staying as fit and in shape as possible so I enjoy not eating things that I feel will slow me down. I do this thing every July where I eat no unhealthy food the entire month, and at the end of each month I find I’m much happier and have a lot more energy. Unhealthy food honestly tastes kind of disgusting after not eating it for so long, so after a little while going off it it’s not as hard as you’d think. I think an awesome health benefit is how it effects your overall mood. Switching to eating healthier can just make you feel more awake, alive and turn a good mood into a great one. Lately I’ve been slipping a bit and giving into a tad more junk than usual, so I should try to pick it up soon.

****************************************************************************

Pyramids photo from https://simplysmiles59.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/1b687-pyramids.jpg.

Advertisements

What’s Up With June

Well hello readers. We are approaching the halfway bump of June and can you believe how far Project Courage has come? Please continue to send us messages and comments because we love hearing from you. We apologize that we can’t answer them all because there are so many, but you guys are so special to us! 2014 has been an insane but amazing year so far, think about how far we have come. We have explored ourselves and who we are. We have challenged ourselves to become better friends and faced true courage in many different forms. We made time for our inner child and last month we dedicated to exploring mental health awareness.
image
So here we are, segueing from mental health into June, the month of physical health. I chose to have this theme for June in particular because of Relay for Life. For those of you who don’t know, Relay for Life is a 12 hour event that goes overnight, where participants can make teams and walk a track to raise money and awareness for cancer research. The money raised goes towards the Canadian Cancer Society, which is an amazing cause. We have registered as Team Courage, and we hope our readers register as well. Cancer affects all of us, whether direct or indirect. We 

To fundraise for relay, we are selling these bracelets around our community. We chose lavender because its a colour for general mental health as well as cancer awareness, and the words “it’s possible” have become our motto for this project. The words have so much hope and potential behind them. It’s possible to get through anything, it’s possible to overcome mental illness, to beat cancer. It’s possible to find love again, to have hope, to accomplish your wildest dreams and reach new heights. It’s possible to make a difference, and it’s possible to create the change.

image

June is all about how to stay healthy, and yes you will be getting challenges and reflections back this month! So you will be hearing from Team Courage yet again, as we all know how much you’ve missed them haha. It can’t be just me ranting all of the time.

So here it is.. Challenge 1.
*****************************************
CHALLENGE #1: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

The first step to being physically health is eating healthy. Now I won’t get into the complex details about biological molecules and the importance of various nutrients and how they are used in the body, but just trust me on this. A balanced diet is extremely important to maintaining physical health. Let’s talk about the food groups for a second. Grains are important for dietary fiber and b vitamins! They can help with weight management if consumed correctly and also reduce the risk of heart disease. Fruits and vegetables provide basically every nutrient you could possibly need, and essentially have no downfall except for the acidity of some citrus fruits but anyways! Dairy products provide an essential source of calcium, but also frozen yogurt is delicious. Finally, we have meat and alternatives. Now protein is kind of necessary, but eat too much and it quickly becomes fat and bulk that you do not want. But each too little and it can damage your blood cells and muscles. Therefore, it is essential to learn about eating healthy!
image
The challenge for this week is to record everything you are eating for two days. It can be two days in a row or two random days of this week. But you are going to write down everything that you ate from the moment you woke up to the moment you went to bed. Now there are some really good smart phone apps for this but you can always use the old pencil and paper. Be specific about quantities as well as ingredients! Then, highlight the foods based on the food groups and look at what you eat and where you need to eat less and where you should eat more.

Being reflective about what you eat and being consciously aware of your food choices can be greatly beneficial to your health. Making healthy eating choices is extremely important, and Team Courage challenges you to use the data you collected and challenge yourself to eat healthier!

And finally! To go with the theme of eating I’m going to challenge you all to watch this unrelated video essentially because I found out hilarious and it never gets old.

How Animals Eat Their Food | MisterEpicMann: http://youtu.be/qnydFmqHuVo
*****************************************
June word clip art from http://blog.3bscientific.com/science_education_insight/2013/06/june-an-inventive-month.html. Healthy heart from http://blogs.bu.edu/sargentchoice/2012/01/18/eating-healthy-isnt-all-or-nothing/

Mental Health Awareness (Video)

So to conclude the month of May, we created this mental health awareness video. We were challenged by a reader to film a video in two hours, so here it is, our awareness video. I apologize for the lack of quality, but hey, there is only so much you can do in 120 minutes! We hope that the message in this video is clear, that we need to understand that mental illness is closer than we think, that mental health affects more people than we think. We need to look beyond ourselves and even beyond our close group of people because you never who could be crying for help. You never know how your words and actions can affect other people, and you never know when a simple smile could change a life.

I apologize for the fact because this video was supposed to come out yesterday, the last day of May. However, I’ve been extremely busy and publishing this post completely slipped my mind. We just had our senior prom and the night was spectacular, as a consequence, I spent yesterday in a zombie-like, half-alive state of exhaustion. That is no excuse though! Thank you for being a group of patient, loyal, and understanding readers. You make this project and this blog completely worthwhile.

Mental health is not just the absence of a mental illness, but it is more encompassing than all of that. Mental health affects not only our thoughts and emotions, but also our outward appearances, our attitudes, our judgments, and our personalities. It changes how we act around people and affects what we say. It has a greater impact than we realize.

No one gets through life perfectly mentally healthy all the time. But if you can go one day without bashing yourself, without putting yourself down. One day being happy, not critical, selfless, and grateful, then you’re already off to incredible start.

POV: Bipolar Disorder

The word bipolar is another word that gets thrown around too much, and gets trivialized way too easily. You hear people say how the weather is being “bipolar” when it suddenly goes from sunny to cloudy and storming, or when a friend quickly goes from being furious to being happy, someone might comment “are you bipolar or something?” This is a problem in not only does it makes the condition seem less severe and trivial, but it gives a misconception of what bipolar disorder is really like. So POV from Project Courage is back, in hopes to shed some light on bipolar disorder from an insider’s view. Once again, we are not claiming to be experts in mental health, nor are we psychiatrists and can accurately diagnose anyone. However, the information we have used to write this comes from first hand experience interviews and case studies of individuals who suffer from Bipolar disorder. 

********************************************************************************

With being bipolar, it’s not the way its perceived. Like you don’t go from angry to sad in seconds. It’s more, you know when it’s happening, but you can go through every emotion within an hour, but you know the transition is happening. It’s not as random as it’s perceived.

Bipolar disorder causes extreme changes in mood, thinking, behaviours, and energy. It has a lot of symptoms that are very similar to some other conditions, which makes it often hard to recognize and hard to treat. It’s very commonly misdiagnosed or ignored because of how inconsistent it is from person to person. Statistics say that this disorder affects 3-5% of the adult population. This range in percentage is because it is so frequently misdiagnosed. Extreme mood shifts will often get categorized as bipolar tendencies, and sometimes true symptoms can get ignored. While some people with Bipolar disorder may have mood cycles lasting days, hours, even minutes, some might have cycles that last months, even years. It’s hard to control, and as of right now, there is no cure. 

There are generally two different “moods” for people with Bipolar disorder. These are depression and mania. Depression is associated with extremely low feelings while mania is great feelings of hyperactivity and excitement.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Sad mood
  • Preoccupation with failures or inadequacies
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Slowed thinking, forgetfulness
  • Difficulties in concentrating and in making decisions
  • Loss of interest in work, hobbies, people
  • Social isolation
  • Oversleeping or insomnia

Symptoms of mania include:

  • Elevated, expansive mood
  • Extreme irritability
  • Rapid, unpredictable emotional changes
  • Racing thoughts, flights of ideas
  • Misinterpretation of events
  • Excessive energy
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Poor judgment

 

Personally disorders running through my family, so genetic, and then a difficult environment to grow up in, and then it progressed through childhood that way, and then really escalated in high school when it became more difficult to go to school and became more difficult to do every day activities.

What we need to realize is that we have to stop throwing around the term “bipolar”, because it’s trivializing something serious that many people have to struggle with on a daily basis. We also have to realize that someone with Bipolar is not “crazy”, it doesn’t make them any less human, but they simply feel emotions different than you do. Their emotions are harder to control and more extreme, and may seem to change without any notice. They have rational thoughts, emotions, and ideas, just their way of thinking is more heightened and perhaps more extreme when they are in a mood. Bipolar disorder should be taken seriously, as with all degrees of mental illness, but we should also remember that their emotions are just as real as someone’s without Bipolar. 

I would describe it as, I don’t want to say it’s almost the feeling of hopelessness, but it’s difficult to watch other people do things so simply, and have simple tasks be so difficult, like getting out of bed, or eating a meal, or going to school, anything like that. Having people do it so easily and then you know how difficult it is for yourself to do.

Picture falling. Picture falling down a deep hole, Alice in Wonderland style. You can control the speed of your fall, you can maneuver yourself, at least just a little bit. Picture this as being your emotions. You are in control, at least a little bit. Sometimes you fall faster, and it feels like the world is passing you by. You can see everything, you can even interact with things. But its hard to have a conversation when you’re constantly falling. Sometimes everything changes, and everyone seems so completely surprised, everyone except for you. There are moments when you hang onto a ledge for a second, and you get the feeling of everything being okay. You feel normal, like gravity and your center of balance finally caught up to each other. But eventually you fall again. You never stop falling. 

******************************************************************************

Bipolar disorder wordle from http://thepridepost.com/living-with-bipolar-disorder.

Spoken Word: “Who Am I”

You might be wondering why I’m typing out a spoken word and not actually speaking it. Well honestly I don’t have the time to record a spoken word right now!

Society forces us to figure out who we are as individuals. We are constantly told to try and be unique while fighting the urge to fit in. We are given guides on self reflection and told that we should know who we are by now. But what truly defines a person? The spoken word I wrote explores this topic, and addresses the question that seems to be especially prominent in our teenage years. We live in the height of self discovery, where we realize new passions and interests. Where we explore new friends and attitudes and outfit choices, all to figure out who we are and where we belong. But what if it were easier than that? So here it is, “Who Am I”.

my-identity

*****************************************
When you’re born you are given a name. One name to define you. Written and signed on a now faded piece of paper, stamped by the government. An official seal saying, yes Laura, your name is Laura. Therefore we know who you are. So now when someone asks who you are, you reply that name. The letters and sounds strung together that once pronounced in the proper way, differentiate you from everyone else. Unless of course you get stuck in that class with twelve other kids named ” John” and suddenly, it’s a lot less clear.

Growing up is hard enough already. Its hard enough to deal with peer pressure, bullies, grades, teachers, friends, or so called ones. It’s hard enough without having to throw a big question mark above our heads screaming yes world, this girl is confused. Thrown into a world where happiness is not gained, but discovered. A world of lies, of conflict, of hurt. A world where the biggest struggle is no longer what type of cake to have at your birthday party or what movie to watch. A world where pain is no longer scraped knees and bruised elbows. A world of 7 billion where “Laura” is just another name, a number.

Eventually we reach our teenage days. Bright red zits and an awkward body that seems to be changing with the moon. A raging tidal wave of hormones and to top it off, the onset of an identity crisis. “Who am I?” we wonder. Are we our names? Are we defined by our minds or our spirits? Our abilities to laugh or think or feel love, joy, pain? Are we defined by our exterior motives or interior drives? A time where we are told to achieve, to dream, to hope. Where we strive for our hardest and when you can’t push anymore you keep pushing.

You are balancing on a tightrope, trying to fit in everything in a 24 hour day; school, work, family, friends, homework, chores, school, work, family, friends, homework, chores, school, work- but where is the time for me? How could we ever know who we are if we never spend time with ourselves? If you never take a moment for you? “But Laura, I don’t have time”. You have a life time to do everything else, but what’s the point when you can’t even make time for yourself? When the thought of you is but a distant shadow. When you can’t recognize your own reflection because you don’t know who that person staring back at you is. “That’s not me,” you’ll say. “I am thinner, I have brighter skin, my hair is thicker, I don’t have bags under my eyes. Not like that”. Stop. Because how would you know?

We live in a world of self-abuse, self-hatred, self-torture. Where our youth are sent away for starving themselves, hurting themselves, sometimes for being themselves. We live in a world of clouds and storms, fighting to get through. But what if I asked you to find the sunshine? If I asked you to push above the clouds, close your eyes, stretch your fingers, and feel the warmth? We spend our lives so unsure, roaming around trying to find peace when we don’t realize we are walking in circles. We look outwards to answer our hardest questions when we really should be looking in.

What if I said you weren’t defined by your actions, your words, your interests, successes and failures? Would you hesitate, would you be unsure? Why can’t we be confident and say I will, I could be, I am?

I am a daughter, I am a swimmer. I am a leader, I am strong, I am kind. I am clumsy, I am worried, I am a social butterfly and I am a dreamer. I am a fighter. I am a survivor. I am not sure who I’m supposed to be. I may not be who you want me to be but I am me. And no one can take that away. No one. What if we no longer asked, but instead we answered. What if we took the question “who am I”, rearranged, and said this is “who I am”.
*****************************************
Who am I clip art from stumingames.com.

10 Step Program to Mental Health

Here it is, the scientifically proven ten step method to make your mental health 100% amazing and completely better in every single way. It has totally changed the lives of millions, will you let it change yours? Are you ready?

image

Step #1: Forget the 10 step program.

*****************************************
You may be staring blankly at the screen right now, you might feel anger raging and bubbling as your fingers twitch and your eyebrows begin to furl. (I clearly am feeling descriptive today). You might be breathing fire through your nostrils (if you happen to be a dragon) and screaming at the top of your lungs because I am about to state quite simply what we all need to know.

There is no surefire way to mental health.

This has been just about the craziest year in the history of years.

I have spent a lot of time in the last few weeks crying, worrying, feeling lonely, stressed, anxious, and just about every emotion in between. Something that I lost was maintaining my mental health. We truly need to stop (hammer time) and understand how important having mental health is. I cannot stress this enough. Mental health is something that should be prioritized in all of our lives, because it can be seriously damaging to ourselves and our lives if we lose the control.

There are all these websites and books you can get that’ll provide ways for you to have positive mental health. But I believe that gaining positive mental health is achieved entirely differently for every individual. Finding mental health means curing yourself of what is causing the illness. Now I don’t mean illness in a literal sense, but what I’m saying is that if your horse refuses to go over that jump, don’t hide the jump with flowers or bushes that will temporarily cure the problem, just remove the jump. (Wow aren’t I full of amazing analogies today..) The real first step in achieving mental health is finding the problem, what is making you have low self esteem, what is making you stressed, anxious, worried? Why do you hate yourself? Why do you hate your decisions? Why can’t you look at the world in a positive way? For some of us, this is simple. But others may have to look deeper to find the source of the problem.

Now as always, I have a few challenges for you, the reader. Because it’s not simply enough to read these words, but to find something that you can apply to your life. Yes there are things you can do that will help with improving mental health, and that will be my challenge to all of you this week, to complete the list of mental health activities I will put below. But to truly fix the problem, we have to look at the source of the problem. Fortunately there is a reason for everything, no matter how small. There is a reason.

Close your eyes. (After you finish reading this of course).
For a little while, focus on your breathing. In and out. In and out.
Think about how you’re feeling right now, let yourself feel those emotions, and just breathe.
Now breathe exactly 17 times.
What are your thoughts like now?

Ready? Try it readers. Close your eyes.

Doing that exercise once a day will really help you focus on your emotions. You could do it anytime or anywhere. You don’t need to do any deep thinking or reflection, just breathe and be aware of your emotions. When you are ready you can open your eyes.

image

*****************************************
CHALLENGE

Alright readers, here are some proven ways to help with mental health. This week I want you to try as many as you can. You might find that some of them really work for you, or maybe none will. I also have written “too busy” options in case you have an extremely busy schedule like me and have problems making time for this. That’s completely okay, but at least you gave it the effort to try, right?

Eat a healthy and balanced meal. You need to prove healthy nutrients to your body and your brain. Eating healthy makes you feel healthy too! Healthy and balanced means keeping the salt levels low as well as having a good mix of fruits and vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy (four food groups, blah blah blah, etc.). It shouldn’t be processed or canned or frozen, because that takes away so many essential nutrients.
Too busy? Next time you are hungry for a snack or drink, choose something healthy. Grab some fruit or a granola bar instead of chips or chocolate. Little things can go a long way.

1 hour of physical exercise. Believe it or not, physical health and mental health go hand in hand. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, the “feel good” chemicals that give us a boost of happiness. Make it an hour but do something you enjoy. Perhaps go exploring and talk a walk on a new trail. Go swimming or rock climbing or on a bike ride. Take a yoga class or even do some dance! Make sure it’s something you’ll enjoy doing.
Too busy? Could you do 2 minute intervals throughout the day? All I’m asking for is 2 minutes of your time to take a short walk and come back, do a yoga pose or two, do some jumping jacks or push-ups and then go back to whatever you’re doing.

Make time for a friend. You know those people that you always love being around? The people that make you feel good about yourself and that totally brings you up? The people that whenever you’re around them you can’t help but smile? Make time for those kinds of people, set aside a period of your day to give them a phone call for half an hour, or go for coffee or ice cream together. What our friends and family do and say can have a tremendous impact on mental health, so why not make a positive impact?
Too busy? Write your friend a short thank you letter, or take 10 minutes just to call or text to see how they are. Not only will it improve your mental state, but talking to someone can be great for your friendship as well. 

Do something creative. Now there are a few options for this one. You can creative write, you can paint or doodle, or you can experiment with instruments and make a new song. You can try your skills on Photoshop or you can make something with Lego. Creativity makes our brain more elastic and creates neuronal bonds in new places. We not only feel happier, but we have a sense of accomplishment with creativity. Stuck? Here is a writing prompt: You are lost in the jungle when three giant pineapples fall from the sky. What do you do?
Too busy? Be creative in another way. Do your hair differently in the morning. Switch up your routine. Wear mismatching pajamas. Little things that change how you normally go through your day goes a long way and helps for a happier and healthier brain. 

image

*****************************************
Sticky note smiles from http://esciencecommons.blogspot.ca/2012/11/people-who-are-flourishing-both-feeling.html?m=1. Self esteem quote from pinterest.

She Is.. (Happy Mother’s Day)

To all my readers, Happy Mother’s Day! For Mother’s day I would like to share with my readers a poem that I have written for my mom.
image
*****************************************
She Is
She is a mother, today is the day.
We celebrate her work, in millions of ways.
But look at your mother, and what do you see?
Who is my mom, what does she mean to me?

Look beyond her authoritative stance,
Look beyond her duties, give reality a chance.
See her for her, a human with flaws.
Someone needing compassion, someone who needs your love.

She might not be the one to give you life,
she might not be your father’s wife.
Because our mother is not always in our line of kin,
she’s the one who raise us, our love deep within.

She is a mother, but deep down inside,
we still see a hero, a fighter, a bride.
We see the child, who now is full grown. We see the adult, with a child of her own.

We sometimes take for granted, her smile and her ways.
But let’s just be thankful, today of all days.
We love her, although this love we don’t always show.
Happy Mother’s Day, she is the best mother I know.
*****************************************
I would like to thank my mom for everything she has done. There is one day a year where we are reminded to celebrate her accomplishments but we should truly be doing this every single day. We should spend every day appreciative of how our mothers have impacted our lives, from giving us life, to raising us to the amazing people we are today.

My mom is a role model. She’s a hero, and she is a leader. My mom is kind, selfless, and talented. She is driven, and ambitious, which has been passed onto me. She has taught me about basic skills, cooking, cleaning, laundry. But she was also there when I was learning to ride a bike, she was there at my first music recital, she was there when I was sick and she was there to see me well. She was there when a guy made me cry, and she was there to see me laugh. She has been there through my successes and my failures, and she has pushed me to my limits. She was there for me, and I trust that she always will be there for me. She has given me wings to fly and the wind to soar.

My mom has given up so much so that I could live life to the fullest, and I feel like this is something that I can never truly express my gratitude for.

We fight, we argue, we misunderstand each other. But at the end of the day, I’m reminded of her love, and how much she has done for me. Happy Mothers Day mom, I love you. ❤
image