Category Archives: Emotional

Emotional wellness encompasses optimism, self-esteem, self-acceptance, and the ability to share feelings. It also includes the ability to manage stress. People who manage stress well and have a high level of emotional wellness have more time to enjoy life. Techniques for managing stress include: surrounding yourself with a positive support network, eating well, managing your time appropriately, and practicing relaxation techniques and exercising.

“You’re the least drunk, you can drive us home!”

Take a moment to think, have you ever said this to one of your friends? Has one of your friends uttered these same words to you?
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Well these words could kill.

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As the amount of alcohol consumed in one’s body increases, their ability to be attentive and make decisions greatly decreases. Therefore, getting in the car with someone who has been drinking throughout the night or driving after a night of drinking could have detrimental consequences. Even the slightest drink can cause changes to your body and its’ functions. For example, at .02% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) an individual has trouble performing two tasks at one time and their visual functions decline. At .05% BAC an individual can experience difficulty steering and have less of an ability to track moving objects. At .08% BAC the individual loses ability to control speed, or detect signals from traffic lights, other cars, and pedestrians. More importantly, they show signs of short term memory loss and an inability to concentrate at the task at hand.

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The facts are pretty numbing. More than 17,000 Americans are killed each year to drinking and driving. Did you know that most fatal car accidents happen between 12 a.m. and 3 a.m?
Shockingly, on average a drunken driver kills someone every 40 minutes in the U.S. And equally important to note is that the rate of drunk driving is highest amongst the age group of individuals 21-25 years old. [NCAAD] Don’t become a statistic; think before you let yourself or someone you know drive drunk. Take steps to ensure you are participating in risk free drinking and check out the protective behaviors to understand what that looks like.

Check out some of the laws North Dakota has in place for drinking under the influence here: http://dui.drivinglaws.org/ndakota.php
Check out a personal story from a man whose life changed after a night of drinking: https://vimeo.com/35282858

Sources:
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Drinking and Driving Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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I’ve started this a thousand times.

I’ve started writing this blog post roughly a thousand times in my head. I’ve edited it, I’ve redrafted it, I’ve added, I’ve deleted… but I’ve never actually stopped to write a sentence down.

Our little one came in-

(sorry about that- she was crying and needed to be held… now, where was I?)

Our little one came in November and turned our family of 3 (husband, myself, and our dog) into a family of 4. To say she’s given us a run for our money is an understatement.

I’ve always been pretty protective of my schedule and my routine. I don’t like to deviate too much from what I know and am familiar with. Let’s just say that babies throw that ALL out the window. It’s been a total and complete adjustment, but in a good way. And to be honest, it’s taken me a few weeks to be able to say that- to say that it’s a good thing.

Change is hard. And harder for some (my hand is WAY up).

She cried a lot those first 5 weeks, and didn’t sleep a lot. I felt like a human milk machine. Showers were few and far between, while the tears rarely ceased (for both of us). I felt empty and defeated at the end of most days, just thinking “This is it? This is life now?!” There were times I mourned* the loss of my freedom and ability to shower each morning and eat a hot meal while it’s still hot and just get in my car and go to the store in under an hour. (*mourned=sobbed uncontrollably)

Luckily, it’s getting easier. She’s crying less and sleeping (a very little bit) more. Or maybe I’m just getting used to the sleep depravation- it’s anybody’s guess. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the kindness of others. It takes a village to raise a child, and even telling a mother that she’s doing a great job sparks a fire that I cannot describe in words. Feeling that love and support helps to refill my tank.

It’s a slow process. And I’m a constant work in progress.

As I became a bit more comfortable with my role as Mom, I longed to do the things that helped me feel like myself again- working out and eating things that aren’t necessarily  Spaghettios or Oreos. (Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE those and still enjoy them from time to time, but I also know they don’t make me feel as good as my leafy greens do.) I’m ready to start feeling better about the new person that I’ve become- inside and out.

It’s Love Your Body Week at UND- one of my favorite times of the year. I love the idea of celebrating yourself no matter WHAT. Love your body or not, it’s a great reminder that there is always something to be thankful for.

A friend asked me what I loved about my body the other day. The truth is, since having a baby there isn’t much. Sometimes I like the way my hair falls. And I like my eyes- they seem to be one of the only things that didn’t change with pregnancy and birth. Almost everything else stretched and expanded. It’s incredibly frustrating to have nothing that fits unless it has an elastic waistband or extra fabric gathered around the middle or 3 sizes bigger.

But this friend is one of the more resilient, thoughtful, and positive people I’ve met in my life; she helped me to remember that my body is not just a size. And I suddenly felt as though I had permission to look at my body with love and acceptance as I thought about it’s capabilities.

This beautiful body created and carried and delivered a baby (that’s pretty bada**). My legs carried me for many miles throughout the pregnancy, despite sciatic nerve pain that brought me to tears some days; and now they help me rock.and rock and bounce.and bounce.and bounce.and bounce until our little one finally quiets and drifts off to sleep. My arms are strong enough to carry her from place to place and give her a bath almost every night- a favorite time of the day for both of us alike. My mouth allows me to make funny faces and noises that bring a smile to her sweet face…oh how I love those sweet little smiles.

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Geez, when I stop and really think about it… my body is pretty dang awesome. Sure, my clothes may never fit the same again… or at least not for quite awhile… but in the meantime it’s doing exactly what I need it to be doing. And I LOVE it for that, and I accept where it’s at- stretchy waistbands and all.

And now I turn to you, Dear Reader, and feel inclined to ask:

What do YOU love about YOUR body?

Keep Moving

I tried to get off the couch last weekend, only to realize that this baby inside of me is slowly robbing me of my ability to bend and move as easily… and sometimes, at all. Now I knew this day would come. I’ve had moments of struggling to bend over or get up off the ground… but not like this. This was laughable– like a turtle stuck on its back. I think my loving husband and dog enjoy the show every time I get up to use the bathroom or grab a snack.

When I sleep at night, it’s become a major feat to roll from one side to the other. Occasionally I will stop for a breather when I’m on my back. And to get up when I need to pee? Let’s just say I’m glad we have a firm mattress or we’d be in some SERIOUS trouble.

In the very beginning of my pregnancy, I was often so tired and winded that working out was something I dreaded and barely made it through, but I was determined to keep moving. I figured that by my 7th month I could possibly be couch or bed bound because this was my first pregnancy and you just never know about those things, so I made pact with myself to move while I could. I also mapped out strategies like looking into a swimming pass to help relieve the potential aches and pains I heard so much about.
But for the time being, I wanted to keep moving. Walking the dog. Making it to the gym most days of the week. Dusting off the ol’ walking videos in the basement. Zumba-ing my heart out. Whatever it took.

I’m proud and relieved to report that I’m at the point of “any day now” with my pregnancy and I am still able to take our dog for a “long walk” occasionally (FYI: “Long walks” are anywhere from 1.5-2 hours… “Walks” are around an hour… and “Barely Even” means that we walked 30 minutes or less) Granted there are days where she more or less walks me, but we get there. And back. And then collapse on the couch until it’s snack time- which cannot be missed.

I was thinking about it while being walked by the dog the other day… I cannot believe how fortunate I am to still be able to walk that long. Granted, it takes me a lot longer to walk a shorter distance thanks to constant potty breaks and occasional leg pain/numbness… but still. I’m moving.

And do you know why I think I’m still moving like this? Because in the beginning I kept moving. I stuck to my commitment. (I also LOVE double stuffed Oreos and peanut butter/peanut M&Ms, so I told myself I had to find some sort of “balance.”) No matter what the reason, I stuck with it for the past several months. And I truly believe it’s made all the difference.

Now… you may be reading this thinking, “Who cares?! I’m not pregnant. This is irrelevant.” But try to see the big picture. It’s been about making a commitment to physical activity or something to do with living a healthy life and sticking with it… and then seeing results. So maybe the scale isn’t where I’d like to see it at this point in my pregnancy, but I’m still moving. And I hope it will continue to be a reward with a faster labor and delivery. I guess we’ll (hopefully) find out soon!

What kind of commitment can you make today? It doesn’t have to be a big, huge, extravagant goal. You don’t have to walk forever like I do (for me, walking is thee BEST therapy). Start small and work your way up. I bet it will surprise you how amazing and capable your body is when you push a little bit at a time.

So what you do say?
Let’s make your pact…

Weed 2.0

A few weeks ago I wrote about the use and abuse of marijuana, and I learned a lot about how popular the drug has become. What you may not know is that last week we did an outreach project in the Memorial Union about marijuana. I was surprised at the questions we received and the controversy we heard about the drug from the students. One of the questions that caught me off guard was, “what are the long-term effects of marijuana use if you’re not smoking it, just eating it?” I honestly have never even thought about this before, so I started to do some research and here’s what I found:

Overall, there has not been enough research to determine the exact long-term effects of marijuana use if you are consuming it in ways other than smoking. However, eating marijuana has much different short-term effects on the body. When people consume marijuana, let’s say in a brownie, it takes up to an hour to feel the effects. Once the marijuana begins taking effect, it is usually stronger than if you were to have smoked it. People tend to have strong hallucinations from eating marijuana. Because it takes longer to feel the effects, many people keep eating more because they think that it’s not working, and then they eat way too much.

Even though we don’t know the major long-term effects of eating marijuana, it doesn’t have many positives. Any use of marijuana may lead to severe anxiety, depression, and lower grades and GPA (if you’re a student). Until more research is done on the long-term effects of eating marijuana, I would avoid it because there are more negative consequences than positive ones when it comes to using marijuana.

MJ

Contemplating the F-word

I recently attended an outstanding conference hosted by the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals, and one of the speakers in particular has left me thinking…

and thinking…

and thinking.

Even on a weekend. Which is almost unlawful.

She talked about the F-word. You know: Failure.

Her message was simple. We must not fear failure and rob ourselves of living life, we must share our failures with others, and we must celebrate failures in order to create a culture of innovation. This concept blew my mind. I’ve always held myself to the standard that failure is unacceptable. It means I didn’t try hard enough, or I made the wrong choice, or I did something incorrectly- whatever “it” is, I screwed it up. And she wants me to CELEBRATE and SHARE these things?!956b2cadd449b6b6a05ed4f8e65b9ee1

She asked for volunteers to share a time they’ve failed and what they learned from it. I have to admit that it rarely crosses my mind to think, “What did I learnfrom this mess?” when it’s all over. I usually think “Oh my gosh thank GOODNESS that’s over! Time to move on.”I try to stay on the safe side of everything, and if something doesn’t work out right, I sweep it under the rug and move past as fast as possible. The last few jobs I’ve had have been “firsts” for the companies- I was the first Executive Director and I’m currently the first Events Coordinator. (Did I mention that my degree is dietetics?!) Anyway, before I took my last job as ED, I was almost paralyzed with fear that I would say or do something wrong in the position and somehow make the entire organization crumble. I sat down with this same great lady at the time and rather than offering pity or comfort, she challenged me with statements like: “What’s the worst that could happen?” and “So what?!” I was not ready to even consider the outcomes, as my mind was too consumed with the possibilities.

I’m someone who can easily get lost in her own mind. I think about thinking- to a fault at times. So now I have this new challenge to start celebrating and sharing my thoughts on failures I’ve had. I’m not going to lie- it’s been a few weeks, and I still find myself paralyzed with fear at times when I think about failing- but I try to stop and open my mind to the possibility that it may happen as a lesson- as something to celebrate. I believe that most things happen for a reason, even if it’s a reason I don’t like. Or a lesson I don’t want to learn. It still happens, and it’s up to me to decide how to close the cover on that book.

Girl walking in a field carrying a suitcase

What have you failed at recently? And what became of it? Share it with me- let’s CELEBRATE!

 

A *bit* of Credit.

As I approach most new and different things in life, I generally have the same mindset.

It goes something like this:
“I can’t do this. I’m going to say the wrong thing. I won’t be good enough. They’re going to get rid of me/dislike me. Someone will do better after me. Someone did better before me. I can’t do this. I shouldn’t do this.” And so on.

I get stuck in a spiral of negative self-doubt.  It’s terrifying and… exhausting.

To be honest, I have no idea where it came from. I have been surrounded by a lot of encouraging and loving people in my life who have lifted me up and given me confidence in my abilities… yet… I still go back to that same black hole. Every. Time.

Motherhood is quickly approaching. Part of me wants to keep this little one safely inside of me forever. And to be completely honest, a selfish part of me is terrified of the changes we’re going to face when we add one more human to our mix. Right now, aside from the occasional leg cramp or ache, life is pretty predictable. I can come and go as I’d like. I can eat when and what I want. I can take a nap when I need it. I know my schedule and have a pretty good idea of how the day will go. And I like it like that.

But that’s all about to change. In just a few short weeks, our whole world will be flipped upside down. All of the control will go out the window, and our lives will be dictated by a tiny little creature that we created. If parental personalities and tendencies have anything to do with it, I already KNOW this one is going to be stubborn and independent. And Mom and Dad will learn a whole new level of patience and acceptance. (And Dad will be even LATER every time we left the house.)

I can’t do this. I mean, I’m not ready.

“How are we going to get through all of the sleepless nights without turning on each other?” “What happens when/if breastfeeding doesn’t come along quickly enough or easily enough?” “Will I have the love that I need to be a good mother?”

Those of you who are already parents are chuckling right now; you know the answers to all of these questions, and perhaps you’re reliving those “glory days and nights” of old…

It’s time to stop and get real.

I *CAN* do this. After all, it’s a little late to go back now, right? I’m guessing that the sleepless nights, breastfeeding, and love will come much more naturally and easily if I start by believing in myself. This little one is going to believe in me and rely on me… and the least I could do is give myself a *bit* of credit to start the journey off on the right foot.

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Where do you need to start giving yourself more credit?

Pain Killers That Kill

…Did you know that 70% of Americans are using at least one prescription drug?…

In the past 20 years, the use of prescription stimulants has increased exponentially from 5 million to 45 million. With this increase of prescription drug use, the increase of abuse has also risen. Prescription drug abuse has become the fastest growing drug problem. The abuse of prescription drugs has caused more deaths than car accidents in the past year; it is also the 3rd leading cause of accidental death in the country.  So, why is this important to us?

As we think about the abuse of prescription drugs we start to wonder who’s doing it, how they are getting the drugs, and where it is most common. One group of people abusing prescription drugs are college-aged students. There are a few common reasons that college students abuse prescription drugs. The biggest reason?…To get high and relieve stress related to work, school, relationships, and finances. Students also use ADHD medications to stay up all night to study for a test. What these students don’t realize is just how dangerous this can be.  There are other ways to cope!

Although the percentage of college students abusing prescription drugs is quite high, the average number of students abusing prescription drugs at UND is quite low. According to the ACHA-NCHA survey and the KNOW campaign, 97.3% of students at UND do NOT abuse prescription drugs. This is an amazing and encouraging statistic! I hope UND students keep aspiring to stay drug- free and healthy. If you or a friend is struggling with a drug problem, get help right away. There are two great places to go on campus for help; Student Health Services and the University Counseling Center.

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McCannel Hall, Room #200; 701.777.2127

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McCannel Hall Room #100; 701.777.4500

Social Media Microphone

I remember quite clearly when Facebook was introduced to me by a friend. It was the fall of my freshman year of college, 2004, and she swore this was going to be “all the rage” in no time at all. I bought into it, thinking it’ll be a nice way to keep in touch. Of course, the trick back then was trying to get your friends to join so it would work right.

It was a time when you were limited on the number of characters you could use in a status,  and it was always “Stacey is…” You were given a lot less freedom in creating yourself on a webpage than what we have today. Things began to evolve, and soon you could have your very own picture, you could write your very own statuses (without the annoying “is” directing your path), and you could find almost anyone in the Facebook family.

My friend was right; this had become the “place to be.”

As the years have flown by, I’ve been disheartened and encouraged all at the same time. I see things like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as  awesome people connectors and a form of self-expression. I’m able to tell my story creatively through pictures and thoughts. I’m able to keep in touch with friends and family- both near and far. I’m able to spread the word on anything I choose…which leads me to this question for you:

What are you trying to tell the world?

As times have changed,  I’ve seen some sobering displays of disrespect, distasteful outspokenness, and downright embarrassing outbursts. I won’t lie; I’m just as guilty as many in saying that I’ve posted a thought or opinion that I’m not proud of. At the time, it was too easy to post something to “get back” at a person or vent about a situation. All I had to do was write it, hit post, and wait for the satisfaction of people liking it- and therefore obviously (-in my own mind) agreeing with me…

But that’s just.not.right. Remember when you were little, and you said something out of anger or spite, perhaps even taking a swing at someone because you felt like they deserved it in that moment- but were corrected for your behavior shortly thereafter? The trouble with Social Media Microphones is that we don’t always have a parent or a teacher that corrects our behavior or unplugs the power source- so things can escalate quickly. Feelings get hurt and friendships get lost. And unfortunately, sometimes it all happens because of a misunderstanding.

Sometimes I’m so proud of the way people use social media to spread a positive message or awareness of something, to share really exciting life news with their friends and family, to connect with new people in new ways. And sometimes… well, in the wake of things like elections or this “instant news source” that doesn’t always even allow us to know the whole story before forming opinions and taking action or the ability to create alternative personalities and profiles online to totally trick and … sometimes, I just need to quiet the World Wide Web. All of those opinions just get to be too much, and I’m not proud of our human race.

I get that there are times when emotions take over and passion is not containable, but in those moments try to go for a walk. Or write it down using a pen and paper. Find something that will make you slow down and really think about what you want to say. Many of you cannot imagine a time when you didn’t have this Social Media Microphone to blast your thoughts out to the world, but it used to exist. If I was frustrated with someone, I had to just sit with that uncomfortable feeling, write a letter, or make a phone call. 2 of those options made me face the person, and that was not always attractive enough to pursue. As a result, feelings were hurt less. Relationships were destroyed less.

You hold a lot of power with your Social Media Microphone. Use it wisely. Please remember that we’re all human on the other side of the screen.

Retro microphone on stage

 

A new kind of Bump.

When I was younger, my “life plan” was to be married by 20 and have at least one child by 21. I was also going to live in a purple house and play saxophone for the former President Clinton. (Because he was President at the time, also played the saxophone,  and I was obsessed with that instrument.)

Then life happened.

I starting losing weight… graduated from high school… started college… lost too much weight… struggled to find my purpose… switched colleges and degrees (again)… found a healthy and attainable weight… graduated from college… first “big kid” job in a new city… new job in a different city… met a boy and his dog… bought a house… got married… next job…

and now we’re here. I’m almost 29 years old and I don’t live in a purple house. I rarely play the saxophone for ANYONE- definitely NOT the former President.

But, now the “child” thing is happening. I’m 1/2-way to meeting our newest family member, and it’s been quite the journey so far. In terms of symptoms, I’ve had a ridiculously easy pregnancy. Aside from feeling like a walking zombie for most of my baby-growing time, I’ve had just a few aches and ailments, and I’m pretty darn thankful.

My loose skin which has hung so haphazardly for 10 years is now forming into a rounded “bump.” I love that little bump.  I’ve often found myself just holding it- holding my baby– to keep it safe and show love to both the child and my body. It’s important to do that. Just as important has been to surround myself with love having people who support me and lift me up, who encourage me with their words and actions. I’ve felt an outpouring of all of these things since sharing our exciting news and there are so many days that these people have been the reason that I am able to remember how lucky I am.

The biggest struggle in all of this has been in the growing. In the beginning, I can remember having conversations with myself about what pregnancy may entail, and that it WILL include a weight gain. A good and important kind. And there was nothing wrong with it- as long it was done in a healthy way.  I’ve worked so hard on losing and maintaining a weight loss of over 100 pounds, and for the first time since I can remember, I’m having to process that it’s OK to gain. That when a shirt or pant or skirt no longer fits it’s a natural part of the process rather than a sign that I need to kick myself for eating all those peanut M&Ms.
If any of you have lost a significant amount of weight before pregnancy, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a weird (for lack of a better word) thing to have to accept and be OK with. It’s even harder when you have the appetite of a linebacker and a strong addiction to cake and candy and French fries that no longer seems to be avoidable. I’m certain that lost a lot of my self-control, and I swear people can just smell it on me… and know just what to offer to make me drool and make my knees buckle. I mean, even the Ice Cream truck drives by me while I’m out walking and by my house at least 4 times a week (I wish I was kidding).

So for now my goal has now been to (try to) eat healthy about 90% of the day (and yes- I do count down the minutes), as well as try to get some form of physical activity in almost every day… I know I eat more than I should, so this way I rest a little easier knowing that I’m trying. Like I said, I’m by no means perfect (like the times I’ve eaten jars of peanut butter as a “snack,” or the entire popcorn cake by myself, or that pan of delicious double cake, or….), but I give it a shot. Every day.  Just like I did before I was growing a human.

I want my child(ren) to grow up with healthy self images and love their bodies rather than avoid any reflective surface because they hate what they see. I want them to see food as fuel rather than “good or bad.” And I want them to enjoy playing rather than feeling like they need to torture themselves with exercise. I know that all of these messages- negative and realistic- are out there. And I know I can be one of the first to send the “right” messages about bodies and health from an early age.

Until Baby D arrives, I can practice being a good role model to those around me by keeping my self-talk positive, by forgiving myself for the jar of peanut butter, by appreciating the fact that I can still exercise and eat what I want.
Being love and showing love.

Is THAT what You call Commitment?

Throughout your day, if you really think about it you commit to a lot. You commit to the outfit you’re wearing. You commit to wearing your seatbelt on the way to school/work. You commit to riding your bike or walking to work. You commit to your responsibilities at work. You commit to cooking supper or maybe choosing where to pick up something to eat. You commit to taking the dog for a walk or going to the gym. You commit to sleeping at night.

Do you think of it that way? Do you see your life as a series of choices to commitments you make?

Maybe I’m off… maybe your car is broken so you HAVE to ride your bike or walk. Maybe your favorite shirt is dirty so you HAVE to wear the other shirt. Maybe it’s raining out so you HAVE to find a different way of exercising. But really, don’t you still have a choice in committing to these things at a certain level?
I mean, you could call for a ride, you could pick your 2nd favorite shirt, you could embrace your exercising alternative… do you see what I mean?

I’m not saying that you need to walk around and high five everyone you pass on the street because you were “tasked” with picking up all of the dog poop at a recent volunteer event… but you could at the very least remain a pleasant human being. I think most people would agree that isn’t the best job in the world, but you are greatly appreciated for doing it. Pull up your big kid pants and put a smile on your face- after all, it’s only temporary!

There are other times when you choose to do things- like attend an after work event with coworkers. It’s up to you to be mindful and respectful of all of the others present with your conversation… meaning, you aren’t bashing those who chose not to come. And you aren’t negatively simmering over the fact that you showed up. You are simply there and enjoying whatever unfolds. Choosing to see the bright side of your choice and only worrying about yourself.

Commitment… what does it look like? In my mind, it looks strong. It looks reassuring. It looks positive. It looks attractive.

What does your commitment look like?

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