Priorities for 2021: Water, Sleep, And Outdoors

January 14th, 2020

People have gone through the cleansing juices, HIIT workouts, and daily naps phase because they hear about these healthy trends that are supposed to do wonders for you and  your body. All of these trends offer promising results but cost a lot more than just using natural resources that you have easy access too and can do the same wonders. Getting in the habit of using these natural resources will help you reduce the amount of money you’re paying for on expensive gym membership or equipment and groceries. 

Water is key to survival. 60% of our body is composed of water. Water is used to help all bodily functions such as your organs and tissue in your body. Water also helps transport nutrients throughout your body. Without water we would not be able to live. But the biggest thing it does is it keeps our body hydrated. You lose water in your body by sweating, peeing, and even breathing which is why drinking a lot of water each day can help regenerate the liquids in your body keeping you hydrated. Keeping yourself hydrated is key to living healthy. It plays a big role in maximizing physical performance, helps your brain functions and energy levels, and prevents many conditions such as headaches and kidney stones. Unlike other drinks, water has nothing to it, it has no chemicals or extra calories in it and performs the best jobs throughout your body to keep you healthy. 

We all know it is hard for teenagers to get a good night’s sleep with all the work and activities they have to deal with. But I can not stress enough how important getting on a good sleep schedule is. Getting a full eight hours of sleep is the best thing you can do to keep your body and immune system running smoothly. Even though getting a full night’s sleep helps you feel well rested, it is important to maintain a constant sleep schedule. Going to bed at12:00am, 2:00am, or even 3:00am does not do your heart any favors. Having an irregular sleep pattern can increase your chances at getting  heart attacks or heart diseases. The best ways for you to improve your sleep schedule is by avoiding caffeine and alcohol, trying to relax right before bed, and knocking the temperature down in your room so that it is cooler when you fall asleep(this allows you to reach your REM faster). 

With the pandemic limiting us to our houses for the majority of our  days, we really need to take advantage of the time we spend outside. The outdoors have everything. Going outside gives us fresh air to breathe after being stuck inside all day; sometimes we need that new refreshing scenery to  take in and relax. The outdoors also gives people the opportunity to exercise. You can walk through parks, run on trails, or  just sit outside and take in the beauty of nature. The outdoors improves your health in many ways. It can reduce your stress related hormones along with lowering your blood pressure. All it takes is a 15 minutes walk or run a couple times a week to improve your immune system and well being.

New Year, New Goals

December 17th, 2020

Heading into the new year, we all swear by our New Year’s resolutions to stop eating junk food, start exercising, and stop spending so much money, but is that really the case? Personally, I have never been able to stick by my word for any New Year’s resolutions, but with the pandemic, this is the best year to stick to realistic resolutions. When the year comes to an end, it is a great time to make positive changes and get a clean slate to start from. The best way to make these positive changes happen is to create goals that you will actually be able to accomplish. It does not matter if they are big or small, as long as they have a positive impact in your life. 

Goals should not feel like a burden or cause stress on yourself. Goals should make you feel more accomplished and determined to make a change or complete an act that makes you feel refreshed. With that, completing a goal is all about you. You are in charge of yourself and your ability to work towards it. If you tell yourself that you will complete this goal, you will. For example, whenever I was bored or anxious I would always bite my nails. It came to the point where my nails were short and stubby and I was so embarrassed of them. After a while, I told myself I was going to stop. It took me awhile to stop myself and even notice that I was biting my nails. But after some time, I have gotten used to it and now they are growing and are longer than they have ever been. Even though goals might take awhile to adjust to, if you put the work in to complete your goal, you will be able to accomplish it. 

It doesn’t matter if your goal is to remember to take the trash out or to create your own organization to help the homeless, every goal counts. Anything is possible when thinking of goals to reach. We are teenagers and we have a lot on our plate with sports, school, college, ACT or SAT, and our social lives, but even the smallest things, like making your bed every morning or taking 30 minutes to walk your dog everyday to get exercise,will make you feel good about yourself.  It will motivate you to keep going with your goals or even think of new ones that will make you feel less stressed, healthier, and more productive throughout your day. These goals should be something that you feel you need to work on or start doing to feel good about yourself. And you can always ask for help with your goals; you shouldn’t feel the need to do it alone. Surrounding yourself with people who will better your learning of new things will help you learn later on that you can do anything. 

With everything going on this year, the least we can do is aim to create and achieve goals for 2021 that will help you not only feel accomplished, but also make you more motivated, strong, and able to achieve anything you put your mind to.  

(Opinion) Optional SAT & ACT Has Helped Teens’ Health

December 10th, 2020

In a way COVID-19 has been good for teens. Since the beginning of the pandemic, colleges from all over the U.S. have started to become test optional, meaning it is not mandatory for students to submit their SAT or ACT scores as part of their college applications. This not only means students get the pressure off from having to do well with test taking, but it also creates this standard more equal for all students and gives teens the opportunity to focus more on their grades rather than being bombarded by more requirements for colleges.This weight on their shoulder will be lifted, helping teens to have a healthier mindset and equal opportunities. 

With over 1,500 schools being test optional, students are feeling more relieved and less stressed over not having to study months in advance for a four part test. This gives students more time to unwind and not put as much pressure on themselves to get everything perfect for their college applications. As a result, Kids are put in a less stressful environment and a lot of anxiety and stress that has built up from the anticipation of taking the SAT and ACT is resolved. Students will have more time to focus on their academic performance at school and it gives the opportunity for students to spend more of their time pursuing courses and activities that match their interests. The ACT and SAT tests put so much unnecessary pressure on these students;  this one timed test shouldn’t decide what college you get into. There are a lot more important factors like grades, exams, and extracurricular activities that should be taken into more consideration than just one test. These other factors show more about a person, such as how dedicated they are and how accomplished they are at the  interests they want to pursue. 

Not only do students get the chance to focus more on their grades and interests, but new test optional policies also get rid of the inequality this test brings. This inequality was created with some students not having the money or resources to be able to prepare for or take the ACT or SAT. Some students are not able to pay for tutors, buy prep study books, and pay the fee to take the test. With schools closed, they are unable to offer their students the free, school administered SAT, which gives students the easiest and most affordable way to take the test. This hurts students even more because not everyone has the funds to pay an immense amount of money to go out of state or out of district to take these tests.  

These tests  put more unneeded stress and anxiety on students when they could be focusing on other interests that could help them get into college. Colleges becoming test optional schools will be the solution to inequality among students and help relieve the anxiety and pressure students have on them to be the best.

Staying Connected Through Hard Times 

December 3rd, 2020

With COVID-19 cases further increasing throughout fall 2020, staying connected with family, friends, and coworkers is becoming a bigger struggle for teens and adults. People are losing motivation to stay in touch with others as the need for isolating from others is extending.  For most people, including myself, t staying inside has made it more difficult to have social interactions with others, causing relationships to distance. Even though it takes more effort than usual to stay in touch with people, we can’t just give up on relationships. Having those connections with people will help your healthy lifestyle and benefit your social interactions in the long run. We just have to get creative with the ways we interact with each other.

Staying connected with others is key. Being able to have someone to talk to when you are feeling sad, when you have something funny to share, or when you just want to have a nice conversation will keep your relationships going and allow you to feel happier. There are many ways that electronics can help keep people in touch. I know it is not in person interaction but it is better than nothing. One being zoom. We should all be experts with zoom by now, which can be beneficial to us when trying to stay connected to others. You can use your own personal account to video chat with a group of friends and to play online games together by sharing your screen. Another simple way is just through text, phone call, and facetime. These are all pre downloaded apps on most phones that can help you keep in touch with anyone that has an email or phone number. Technology has its ups and downs when it comes to a healthy lifestyle for people, but they play a big role in keeping people in touch more than ever right now.

Other than just electronics, we have another safe way to be able to see other people. We should be following social distancing orders (being 6 ft apart) when we are around others. This allows people to see friends, family, and coworkers in person at a safe distance with no contact. This helps prevent most germs being spread and allows people to come out of isolation and experience in person social interactions. As long as everyone is being cautious around others, this social distancing order can stay in effect. I believe we need this social distancing order to be able to have the opportunity to see other people in person. Additionally, it can help us get back to having normal social interactions.

Living More Sustainably

November 19th, 2020

Sustainability looks to protect our environment, human, and ecological health. Sustainability involves meeting our present needs without compromising future generations.  Living within a sustainable environment is crucial for communities. Some people think that recycling is a sufficient enough contribution to helping the environment.. While recycling helps, there’s much more that communities could be doing to not only help protect our earth, but also to benefit our health and quality of life. 

In order to live sustainably, we must help in making our communities healthy with the best environmental quality. Having access to clean air and natural resources leads the way toward a healthier community. Limiting the amount of nonrenewable resources used throughout communities can also better the environment. There are many different things you and your family can try to become more sustainable. First, we all must reuse and recycle. Reusing containers and recycling plastic and glass bottles reduces the need for extracting , refining and processing raw materials. All of these factors play a big role when it comes to air and water pollution. Recycling also helps conserve energy and reduces the greenhouse gas emissions into environments. Next, try to get in and out of showers as quickly as possible. We all know the best feeling is taking a nice, long, hot shower, but think about how much water you are wasting. Try and see if you can cut your shower times in half. Instead of buying all new books off amazon, try getting a library card checking out books. This might be a bit more difficult with the pandemic but as long as you are being careful and safe it should be no problem. After reading,always remember to turn the lights off in the room you were just in to conserve energy. Better yet, try to not use any artificial light at all and open up any windows in the room to use as your natural lighting. Lastly, Tell your parents when they go out to the grocery store to bring their own reusable bags to put their groceries in, so we limit the amount of plastic we use and throw away. When your parents make you dinner from the  food they bought,make sure you grab a good amount of food on your plate that you will finish. Leaving scraps on your plate and having to throw them out is a waste of food that could be put to good use somewhere else. Before throwing it out try to save as much of it as possible in the fridge to have as leftovers the next day. These acts of conserving food and energy and reusing bags makes a big impact in making our community healthier. 

Our environment needs our help. With the rate we use nonrenewable resources and how much we pollute our earth, we have only 7.79 billion years of habitable life left. Getting your parents, siblings, grandparents, and cousins to live more sustainably will make a big difference in bettering our environment.

New Routine For A “New School”

October 29th, 2020

We all have the temptation at 8:55am to just bring our computers and notebooks into bed and start the school day off laying down. Only having to get up out of bed to make lunch and use the bathroom everyday is like a dream come true. But it is not healthy. Being able to get out of that lazy funk and switching into a routine will play a big part in keeping you healthy, mentally and physically. 

Putting routines into your life can benefit you in many positive ways. Having a daily routine can be a stress and sanity saver during the COVID-19 pandemic. Creating your own routine to follow will lead to better stress levels, which will lead to an improved mental health and more time to relax, leading to less anxiety. Routines will also lead to better sleep leaving you more refreshed, energized, and sharper to complete your day and your routine. Routines might take a little extra planning but it ends with a result of better health. Making the time for exercise, eating, proper hygiene, and work will improve our well being. 

Making a routine work for you is easy. If there are some tasks you need to do that are daily, complete them at the same time during the day. Carving out enough time in your day to complete tasks will leave you worry free because you won’t have to worry about having to put it on your growing to do list. After completing your daily tasks, the next step is to remove all unnecessary variables from your day. Having to make a lot of decisions throughout your day adds on unnecessary stress. Picking out an outfit every morning when you think you have nothing to wear leaves you feeling anxious. All you have to do is set time aside when your schedule is clear to go through any unnecessary things that are getting in the way of your routine. 

With online learning underway, we all know our schedules have been out of sorts with the different ending times each day and having Wednesday as an independent day. Now is your time to get back into a system that will make your days more efficient. Start by getting up early and eating breakfast. I know it can be difficult to get out of bed in the morning, but once you do, you will feel more awake and have more time to get ready in the morning. Next, finish up any work you haven’t done, get some exercise in, or do some last minute studying. After the school day try to make some time for yourself to take a break and relax or meditate. Once you feel calm and refreshed, make a schedule you can follow for your afternoon. Start by planning how much time you want to spend on any homework, seeing friends (socially distanced), and spending time outside. Any free time you have can be spent on studying, going on a walk, or reading a book- whatever makes you feel relaxed. It might start to get boring to do the same thing everyday, so switch up your routine a bit and do your morning activities in the afternoon. It will take some getting used to, but as long as you push through, in the end you will feel more productive and healthy completing everything you need to do in a timely fashion.

The Health Effects of Online School

October 22nd, 2020

One thing we can all agree on is that zoom classes suck. We don’t have the opportunity to walk up four flights of stairs to A4 every morning,  run to the vending machines before class starts, and walk by all the classrooms to see where your friends are in each class. All we have is  sitting in front of a computer screen for 6 hours trying to focus while our eyes are giving out from looking at the bright screen for too long. Even though it is safer to be at home doing school  teens are still facing major health issues such as lack of exercise and impaired vision and focusing. 

I know we can’t consider the walk to A4 our exercise for the day, but it did help. Our everyday ritual consisted of walking from class to class getting some sort of exercise in. After school sports also played a big role in getting students out after hours exercising with other friends. With all of this gone, students’ don’t have as much motivation to get out and be active. We lost the ability to walk around the school in between periods and had to replace it with sitting at our desks all day ruining our posture and increasing our blood pressure and blood sugar levels. With team sports not happening, kids are struggling with getting their real exercise in for the day. However,.we can get creative with the ways we exercise like going for a short walk after eating lunch, walking laps around your house during a break, or making your own workout routine to do everyday after school. The sky’s the limit when it comes to getting out and exercising, even during a global pandemic. More hours sitting at a computer or phone means fewer hours of being physically active.

These electronic screens we do everything on these days are ruining our bodies and possibly our brain now too. These screens produce blue light, which disrupts our circadian rhythms (internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle) at night when we’re trying to fall asleep. We produce melatonin which is a hormone that regulates our circadian rhythms and helps us feel tired and fall asleep at night when the sun goes down, But many studies have found that blue light from screens can disrupt this process. Not only does it disrupt our sleeping cycle it also causes problems with our eyes. Staring at the screen causes our eyes to strain, get blurred vision, produces headaches, and causes neck and back pain. Unfortunately, all of these symptoms are linked to computer vision syndrome. With that, teens are struggling more when having to focus on a bright screen, making it hard to follow what their teachers are teaching and staying on top of  all assignments.. We all know we have no choice but to use a computer for most of school now, but we can try and prevent our bodies from getting hurt from these screens. Bluelight glasses can help prevent the brightness of the screen from attacking your eyes all the time. Teens can also set a time for themselves where they say they will put their phone down prior to going to bed or try to work on not going on any electronics once it gets dark out. 

Online learning has taken a toll on teens and their mental and physical health, jeopardizing their future with learning. Putting in the effort to minimize these health issues that could occur is beneficial to teens.

Sun Is Important

October 8th, 2020

Most people use the sun to their advantage, mostly just to get tan. Even though it is very nice to get a little pigment, there are many other  ways the sun helps people live a healthier life. Our sun is made up of gases (70.6% hydrogen and 27.4% helium) and is 5,505 degrees celsius. Not only does the sun provide us heat, it also gives us the resource that helps us obtain vitamin D, a good emotional well-being, a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy weight . Our world revolves around the sun, and thank goodness it does.

Vitamin D is responsible for our calcium and phosphate absorption in our body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy and strong. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it creates vitamin D from your cholesterol. The UV light from the sun is absorbed into the cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy that vitamin D needs to synthesize. Teens that don’t get enough vitamin D can end up getting rickets, which is a disease that softens and weakens the bones in your body. Just getting outside on a sunny day for 5 to 15 minutes can supply you with healthy amounts of vitamin D.

Not only does the sun provide vitamins and minerals for our immune system, it also helps nourish our brains. Sunlight aids a boost of a chemical in our brain called serotonin that provides people more energy and keeps people calm, positive, and focused. Researchers from BYU studied that days with plenty of sunshine result in better mental health and better moods. Many disorders like anxiety, depression, and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) are linked with low levels of serotonin. Sun exposure mixed with other treatments can help people with these disorders. With another problem present in the life of teens, not getting enough sleep, soaking up enough vitamin D and serotonin into your system can result in better sleep patterns. When you’re ready to begin the day, exposing your body to the sun will not only help alert the brain, but will also increase your amount of sleep later on. When sunlight appears in the morning you will have an easier time waking up.

Everyone knows exercising does more than just keep people in shape. It helps people contract a positive mindset and helps improve self confidence. Now imagine all of those outcomes paired with exercising outside. There is evidence from the University of Essex that working out in nature can improve your self-esteem. Exercising outside gives you the benefit of receiving your necessary vitamin D and allows you to get a better workout. The heat from the sun gets rid of the bad toxins within your body and allows you to sweat more,burning off more calories.

If exposed to too much sun, it can cause major consequences to the inside and outside of your body. However, if you are able to get just enough sunlight-around 30 minutes a day-it will help your physical, mental, and emotional well being and allow you to live a better and healthier life.

Why Breakfast is Really the Most Important Meal of the Day

October 1st, 2020

Most kids used to rush out the door on their way to school without breakfast while their mom or dad always told them, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. I never listened to my mom when she said this; I thought it wasn’t a big deal and I could wait till lunch to eat. But boy was I wrong. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and for good reason. Now, while doing school and everything online, no one has a reason to be skipping out on the meal that prepares you for the rest of your day.

 The name “breakfast” stands for breaking the overnight fasting period. When you’re sleeping your body is still working to digest the food you had for dinner and is controlling the fluctuations of your blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate. Our body’s energy source that takes care of all these processes comes from glucose. Glucose is absorbed by carbohydrates you eat. Eating your first meal in the morning allows you to refuel the energy you need for the next day. Not only does eating breakfast give you higher glucose levels, it also gives you essential nutrients to stay healthy. Breakfast foods play a big role in giving your body key nutrients like calcium, iron, B vitamins and minerals, and fiber. You can only get essential nutrients through food, making it a lot easier to consume the vitamins and nutrients you need through eating breakfast. 

Brain power plays a big role when it comes to eating breakfast. When you get sluggish and it becomes hard to focus on things, one reason could be you did not eat breakfast. Your brain also needs glucose to get it going, without it it’s harder for your brain to pay attention and concentrate. Studies have shown that children who eat breakfast tend to do better in school and create better connections with teachers, leading to further positive academic outcomes. 

One reason people don’t eat breakfast is because they can’t tolerate it. People have trouble eating in the morning because it makes them nauseous. This is due to having your last meal the night before too late or not finding any type of breakfast foods appetizing. Eating your night meal earlier, finding some new recipes to  make that satisfy your breakfast appetite, and starting with a mid morning snack can help get you closer to being able to tolerate breakfast in the morning.

Getting Into a Self Care Routine

September 24th, 2020

Teenagers have always been prone to stress, but with everything going on, stress levels have skyrocketed.  In addition to the normal pressures of school, social demands, and parents, teenagers now also have to deal with being stuck at home during a global pandemic. Students are under immense pressure to exceed perfection with their academics, community service, athletics, and family. While there is no perfect solution to solving this anxiety and stress,  there are ways to improve students’ well being. Young adults need to prioritize themselves and their health before their studies and social lives by practicing self care routines. Teenagers should have the chance to carve out time for themselves, to meditate and practice mindfulness, and to exercise. 

Carving out time for yourself is the most basic way to take care of yourself and your body. Teens put themselves aside to focus on their futures and the standard they need to live up to. It is not easy to set aside time while everything else in life is going on, but if you start now it will become a habit to adapt to. Carving out time will give people a chance to destress and focus on themselves. Saving 15-20 minutes a day to sit outside and relax, do a face mask, or listening to your favorite music gives you an opportunity to zone out, focus on the present, and give yourself a pat on the back for how much you have accomplished. 

Meditation and mindfulness is not just an excuse to sleep. Mindful meditation has been proven to change the structure and function of people’s brains and promote relaxation that reduces stress and anxiety. Practicing mindfulness has a way of making you feel more conscious and connected throughout the day. Just taking 5-10 minutes to close your eyes and look up meditation videos on YouTube can help you to unwind. 

Exercise does not necessarily mean you have to run five miles or do a workout plan of squats and  push ups. Exercise can be as easy as walking your dog or going on a bike ride. This exercise is not only to keep you fit; it also allows you to get outdoors and provides a natural way to reduce depression and anxiety. Exercise is also a convenient way to get out with your friends and socialize while maintaining a safe distance. Personally, exercising allows me to clear my brain and just focus on my workout without stressing about what homework I have to do later that night or what studying I have to do for my quizzes the next morning. 

Putting off time for yourself each day is key to help teens live a stress free and healthy lifestyle throughout high school.