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Apocalypse Movie Fans Are Better Equipped To Cope With The Covid-19 Pandemic

Researchers have found that individuals who are fans of apocalyptic movies are more resilient and prepared when it comes to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Artificial Intelligence

Australian Government To Invest $19 Million In Artificial Intelligence Healthcare Research

The Australian government announced this week that it will be investing $19 million into artificial intelligence-based health care research projects that are designed to prevent, diagnose, and treat a range of health conditions. This investment comes as an obvious reaction to the current Covid-19 pandemic that has killed over 500,000 individuals worldwide, however, the technology would also be widely beneficial for a slew of diseases/illnesses.

The money will be distributed over the course of three years and will be given to five different projects that are listed in the official investment plan for the government.

One of the projects involves the Center for Eye Research in Australia, which will be receiving $5 million of the investment. The center has recently developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system that could detect certain eye and cardiovascular diseases and the money will help bring that technology into a more feasible reality for the common individual getting an eye exam.

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The University of New South Wales will also be receiving $5 million of that investment for a new project that is focused on using AI technology to help diagnose and treat mental health conditions many University students face such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. This is a major development for University mental health resources in general in Australia.

Another $7 million from the investment will be put towards two projects that are being developed by the University of Sydney. One of the projects involves translating AI networks online to support clinical work and research in neuro-diseases, such as brain cancer. To simplify it, AI translation allows the technology to scan entire research sources in a matter of seconds to pull specific pieces of information in regard to a specific neuro-disease – in this case – or patient’s case to hopefully find something that’s useful, and otherwise wouldn’t have been thought of in terms of patient treatment.

“AI will be used to understand which interventions, or components of therapies provide the vital, active ingredients, and why they are more effective for some patients and not others,” said Minister for Health Greg Hunt.

The second project coming from the University of Sydney also benefits student mental health. This project is focused on using machine learning to improve young adult’s mental health. The aim is to shorten certain trial periods of mental health treatments for young people so they spend less time figuring out ways to treat and manage their specific issues, and instead can just be given the proper treatment right away.

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The remaining $2 million from the investment will be shared between St Vincent’s Institute of Medical research and Victoria, Australia. St Vincent’s is currently developing AI technology that will potentially change the way individuals screen for breast cancer. The Victorian government invested an additional $1.5 million into the budget as a means of establishing Victoria as one of the “leading destinations for AI technology within the Asia Pacific region,” according to the Minister of Medical Research and Digital Economy Jaala Pulford.

“It is essential to ensure our hospitals are using modern and effective technology to complete important tests and procedures and review in a timely manner because it improves patient outcomes,” health minister Roger Cook said.

The Victorian government is also specifically working with other companies to create a private fund of $8 million to be distributed among 32 AI upgrades within the current AI technology being used by the government.

This investment will hopefully allow Australian government officials, healthcare professionals, and mental health workers to make quicker decisions in terms of critical procedures and patient treatments, without losing any effectiveness of course.

Woman Cooking Salad

How To Manage And Relieve Your Stress During A Pandemic

Amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, it’s no surprise that we’re all feeling a lot more stressed than usual. On top of working from home, taking care of our families/loved ones, and having to worry about an infectious virus that spreads easily, there seems to be no time to just take a minute and breathe. However, now that we’re all home for an indefinite amount of time, there’s never been a better time to practice effective ways of managing and relieving your stress levels. 

When we’re more aware of how stressed we become throughout the day, it’s much easier to figure out ways to combat those feelings and recognize them before it builds up into an overwhelming cloud of anxiety. Make a note of what things are triggering a stressful response in you everyday, and then try to work on those specific areas. While this can be as specific as receiving an email from one particular coworker who never gets anything done, there are a multitude of general ways to help separate ourselves from the situation and calm down. 

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Getting exercise or at least some sort of movement in everyday life is a requirement for being quarantined. Even if it just means going outside and walking a few laps in your backyard, it’s essential that you’re at least stepping outside, breathing in some fresh air, and stretching out your muscles and bones everyday. 

It can be so easy to get wrapped into binge marathons on Netflix, especially now, but we can’t get too comfortable with making that a habit. The more you’re sitting around and just watching mindless TV shows or movies, the more likely it is you’re going to put off the things you have to do which will only lead to even more stress being added onto your already full plate. 

Learn how to create boundaries between your work and personal life. This is imperative for those who are currently working remotely. It can be challenging to turn your work brain off and casual at-home brain on when you’re just home all the time. This is why it’s recommended that you set up your remote working station in an area of your home that’s as separated from the rooms that are known for inducing relaxation (such as the living or bedroom). 

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Another easy way of separating your work and personal life at home is to make sure you’re filling your personal time with activities that you want to and enjoy doing. This could include cooking, gardening, knitting, reading, and anything else that you consider relaxing. By filling your free time with things you want to do, and your work time with the things you have to do,  it’s easier for your brain to make that distinction, even if you are just moving from room to room everyday. 

Make sure you’re staying hydrated as well. Getting enough water everyday is obviously imperative for your physical health, but it also is for your mental health. According to Amanda Carlson, the director of performance at Athlete’s Performance, “studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol [stress hormone] levels. The National Academy of Medicine recommends that you drink one milliliter of water per each calorie of food consumed.”

Make lists of all your daily, weekly, and monthly goals. It’s easier to break down what you have to do for work, your family, and yourself when you have the general guideline in front of you. Daily duties can include things like returning emails, making phone calls, baking a cake for your brother’s birthday, etc. Weekly duties can include more generalized things such as going to the grocery store, ordering more dog food online, and basically anything else that isn’t an immediate need but should get done within a matter of days. Finally, monthly goals can more so pertain to you personally and how you’d like to see yourself grow in the near future, which includes managing your stress. This list can include things such as starting to exercise at least twice a week, or learning how to cook a new dish every week, etc. Have fun and be creative! This is your own personal list of goals, so make it personal. 

Finally, and arguable most importantly, you have to make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night. Not getting enough sleep is one of the number one causes of stress, as we all know, when we’re tired, we’re a lot more irritable, which makes it so much easier for us to get stressed out. The Sleep Foundation recommends getting between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Try going to bed at the same time every night and turning off all your screens at least one hour before bed. This will start getting your body into a proper sleep schedule and can help ensure that once you’re asleep, you’ll stay asleep until the morning.

Girl with Clear Skin

Taking Care Of Your Skin During Quarantine

The Covid-19 pandemic has definitely caused a lot of stress for everyone. Between working from home, taking care of the family, staying healthy, active, and relaxed, there’s no way not to get overwhelmed. One of the parts of self-care that many individuals are forgetting about is taking care of our skin. In times of uncertainty and panic especially, our skin is more susceptible to inflammation, wrinkles, acne, and general damage. 

Studies have also shown that increased exposure to blue light emitted from laptops or cell phones can also dramatically alter our skin’s condition, especially if we’re not getting any sun exposure as well. So what can you do to ensure that your skin is staying just as healthy as you are during this pandemic?

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First, make sure you’re still sticking to a daily routine everyday and maintaining healthy eating/drinking habits. You should be drinking at least 64 ounces of water everyday, and eating a serving of fruits and vegetables as well. Remember, orange foods like carrots or oranges are great for the skin. 

Sticking to a routine is much less stressful than waking up everyday blind to what you’re going to need to get done by the end of the day. Stress is one of the leading causes of acne, inflammation, and any other kind of negative skin condition. It’s important to implement things into your everyday schedule that keep you relaxed and separated from all things work, family, and coronavirus. 

As previously mentioned, drinking water and hydration in general is extremely important in terms of skin care. However, when you drink water, it actually hydrates your skin last, and takes care of the rest of your body’s organs first, so you have to make sure your skin is getting all of the hydration it needs. One of the best ways to do this is with a simple sheet mask. 

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Many face masks are great for relaxing and improving skin conditions like pimples or scarring, however, in terms of hydration, sheet masks really are the best bet. Doing a sheet mask every three to four days will keep your skin glowing and hydrated, while also giving you an excuse to disengage from the world for 30 minutes. 

Even though we’re spending an excessive amount of time indoors, it’s imperative that you continue your daily skin care routines and are putting on an SPF every morning. So many individuals think that just because a SPF’s main purpose is to protect our skin from sun damage that we don’t have to put it on now that we’re all stuck inside. This couldn’t be more false. 

SPF in general helps improve skin conditions like hyper-pigmentation, inflammation, acne, acne scarring, etc. Beyond that, SPF’s have amazing anti-aging properties, and if you’re younger, using an SPF daily will help prevent premature aging. 

Along those same lines, your skin does actually need sun exposure. The sun provides extremely beneficial vitamins for our skin, assuming that you’re wearing sunscreen/SPF. So make sure you’re getting outside at least once a day for 30 minutes if the weather permits it. Your skin will not only thank you, but your mental health as well.

Meditation

Take Care Of Your Mental Health During This Pandemic With Some Mindful Meditation

If you’ve ever been curious about mindfulness exercises and meditation in general, now is literally the best time to learn more. It’s totally normal for all of us to feel stressed out and overwhelmed while we endure this pandemic, and during times of uncertainty it’s important that you remember to take care of yourself. Beyond your physical health and protecting yourself from becoming infected with the coronavirus, it’s important to work on your mental health as well. 

Daily meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression levels, and with countless free online apps and YouTube videos on the subject, there’s never been a better time to start. 

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“When you practice mindfulness meditation, you focus on being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and/or your physical sensations with openness and curiosity, and without judging or evaluating what you notice. You begin by finding a comfortable, upright position, where your body feels alert and relaxed. Then you bring your attention to the sensation of your breath. When you notice that your mind has wandered, which it will, you gently bring your attention back to the sensation of the breath,” said Jamie Price, co-founder and president of Stop, Breathe & Think, an “emotional wellness and mindfulness platform that offers guided meditation and activities, including breathing exercises, acupressure, and more.”

Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that exclusively focuses on breathing. This is the most common form of meditation, as it’s meant to “anchor” the practicing individual in the present moment while removing any outside distractions regarding the current status of the world, troubles from the past, and fears for the future. The focus of meditation in general is to really clear your mind and place yourself in the present moment, which is why mindfulness meditation is all about being aware enough to control your thinking and focus it exclusively on the current moment, while also being unaware of how relaxed and stagnant you’ve become. 

The best part about making the choice to start meditating is that it doesn’t require any fancy gym equipment or advanced knowledge in order for you to do it. You can literally start practicing anywhere at any time, and now that we all are stuck inside for an indefinite amount of time, you can start practicing mindfulness exercises all over the house. 

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Find a quiet place to sit and relax. Price recommends trying to return to the same spot in your home everyday at the same time to really get yourself into a routine. After a while, your brain will begin to associate that spot with relaxation and isolation from the outside world of scary pandemics and uncertainty. 

Price also emphasized that you shouldn’t get discouraged if your mind begins to wander a lot, especially if you’re a beginner. Remember that your goal isn’t to stop all of your thoughts, but rather to focus on the present moment and strengthen your ability to watch your thoughts as they come and go without any further acknowledgement. 

“It’s the difference between standing on a riverbank watching the river flow by, as opposed to jumping in and trying to reverse the flow. Rather than getting frustrated, try to view it as a great opportunity. No matter how little or how often your mind wanders, each time you become aware of your mind wandering and choose to bring your attention back to your breathing, you are strengthening your awareness — your mindful muscles,” Price said. 

It’s important that we all are focusing just as much on our mental health as we are our physical health during this pandemic. Take at least 15 minutes everyday to just sit down with yourself and breathe. Put away all your devices, sit on the front lawn and take in the sun and fresh air. There’s never been a better time to center yourself in the present and remember that this too shall pass.

Young Girl doing Arts & Crafts

Unique Arts And Crafts Projects Anyone Can Do From Home

Sarah Urist Green is an artist and writer who’s on a mission to change the world through creative mediums that challenge the ways we think about what it means to be unique. In her most recent book “You Are An Artist” Green has curated a bunch of DIY projects that are inspired by her specific philosophy on making art. The book itself has risen in popularity on social media within the past few weeks, as all of the projects can be done in isolation and shared online. 

It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself an artist or not, during uncertain and scary times, it’s important to keep ourselves distracted while engaging in activities that stimulate both our bodies and minds. Tapping into our creative side to make some casual art while we pass the time is the perfect way to unwind and separate yourself from the world of scary virus’ and unknown tomorrows. So here are a few examples of fun projects that Green offers in her book

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Make A Shadow Portrait: This is one of the most creative and interactive projects in the book. All you’ll need is a wire hanger; beads, cloth, feathers, and other “accessory” crafting items are encouraged but not mandatory. Once you have your supplies, all you need to do is bend your hanger into the shape of a profiled-face. Adding things like beads and feathers will give the illusion of hair/jewelry. Once finished, find a blank wall and hold your hanger sculpture a few inches away from it until you see the face’s shadow. From there, you can take a photo and print it out for your enjoyment, hang the sculpture itself, or make another! 

Create A Fake Flyer: More often than not, when we see flyer’s it’s to advertise for a lost pet, job opportunity, garage sale, etc. Instead of doing something mundane and predictable like that, make a flyer that gives advice, or shares a certain story from your life. Want to get even more creative? Since all concerts and major events are cancelled for the foreseeable future, make up your own imagined event, whether it be a music festival with all of your favorite artists or a flea market with pop-up shops from all your favorite stores, don’t be afraid to make it personal! Green then suggests when you’re done, put whatever flyer you made out into the world; during times of quarantine this would mean simply posting online, don’t actually go out and hang any flyers. 

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Constructed Landscape: Since we aren’t able to go sight-seeing at the moment, think about where you’d want to go if you had the chance to walk out your door and leave right now. Think about landscapes specifically, like a beach, forest, pond, etc. Then, walk around your yard and house and look for materials to construct your own mini-landscape! Green suggests using both natural and man-made materials. Arrange your items any way you want, and consider turning your average mini-beach into a fantasy world using objects you find around the house, like glitter, or figurines. 

The Lost Object Project: This final project is a personal favorite of mine because of how unique it is. First, you’ll need to interview someone about an object that they owned, and then lost, as a kid. Ask specific questions and jot down as many details as possible. Get the object’s dimensions, what materials it was made from, its texture, shape, and any other unique qualities that the person you’re interviewing remembers about it. Then, you must recreate this object using only supplies you have on hand/around the house. Obviously, your recreation will likely look nothing like the original, but try to be as accurate as possible using what you have! Once completed, Green then invites you to give the object to the person. 

It doesn’t matter how creative you consider yourself to be, Green wrote this book to motivate those of us who have lost the ability to just sit down and create something silly for fun. These projects are simple and easy to make using what you have, and while the book itself is a great source for project ideas, you can also find a lot of options online for when you run out of inspiration. Now more than ever, we all could use a little positivity and light-hearted crafting to pass our time, so gather some tape, paper, colored pencils, and any other materials you can find, and get creative!

Girl Practicing Yoga at Home

The Benefits Of Doing Yoga While You’re Social Distancing

During this coronavirus pandemic, many of us are trying to find ways to spend our indefinite amount of free time without stressing too much about the aspects of this situation that we can’t control; which is most of it. Apart from working remotely, it’s important that we all try to find ways to occupy our time and remain productive. If we get caught in the trap of gluing ourselves to the couch and watching season after season of reality TV, it’ll be much easier to get caught up in negative thoughts and stresses, so we need to think of better ways to stimulate our mind, body, and soul. 

Doing yoga is one of the best things you can do for yourself during this pandemic. Yoga is a “super-workout” in the sense that it benefits your physical and mental health through its practices. It improves your physical health by promoting flexibility and proper blood flow throughout the entire body, while also focusing on the importance of breathing exercises and mindfulness as well. 

Thanks to services like Zoom and YogaDownload, there are a ton of digital yoga class options that put you in front of a live instructor to guide you as you move from position-to-position. If you aren’t trying to spend a lot of money, YouTube and other free video streaming platforms offer a wide variety of instructional videos on yoga from any level of fitness. 

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As previously stated, one of the greatest physical benefits of yoga is how much it builds flexibility and balance. These are two essential qualities to any other form of working out as well, so when you are finally able to go back to the gym, you’ll have a greater grasp on proper techniques and stances that will best benefit you in your other workouts. 

Beyond just flexibility and balance, yoga has been proven to improve heart health as well. Stress is one of the biggest contributors to any sort of heart health ailments that one could face, and yoga is one of the greatest cures to stress out there. It forces you to focus exclusively on your body and breathing. The breathing techniques that you’ll learn through yoga practices are important to take into your everyday life. 

The breathing techniques in yoga are quite literally designed to center you both physically and mentally so that when you find yourself in times of stress or feeling  overwhelmed, you can use the same breathing exercises you would in a yoga class to calm yourself back down. 

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Speaking of stress, our bodies release the hormone cortisol whenever we’re feeling overwhelmed. It’s known as the “stress hormone” because that’s the exact reaction we have whenever this hormone is released in our brains. Yoga has been scientifically proven to lower your levels of cortisol while you’re engaging in it, but also in the long run if you begin to practice yoga regularly. 

The same way that yoga is able to reduce cortisol, it’s also been proven to reduce the hormonal reaction in our brains that we feel when we’re depressed or anxious. Again, it all goes back to the breathing techniques that yoga instills in you while you’re stretching your body into a multitude of positions. It’s one of those athletic techniques that you’ll always find useful and want to bring into your everyday life. 

Now that we all are socially distancing and quarantining ourselves, there’s literally never been a better time to begin practicing yoga to reap it’s amazing long-term health benefits. Improve on your flexibility, balance, blood flow, stress levels and overall sense of feeling overwhelmed. We all could use some mindfulness at a time like this, so take some time to be with yourself and just breathe, we’ll make it through this.

Mindfulness Lotus Position

Is Mindfulness An Established Part Of Our Lifestyle?

As we approach the end of the first month of 2020, it’s normal to reflect upon how many of our new year’s resolutions have survived or slowly faded out. How many of our goals were essentially revolved around becoming happier and healthier? Can an overall objective of mindfulness help to fulfill them all?

In the last few years we have seen the area of mindfulness move away from a scorned and outlandish notion, to a legitimate health practice. As mental health slowly shakes its taboo and the desire for a more fulfilled and present lifestyle takes center stage, many turn to mindfulness. Practices such as meditation are used as a reprieve from the fast-paced pressures of day-to-day life in modern society. More and more people are openly admitting that they meditate and seeking out a different approach to life.

The roots of many mindfulness practices can be credited back to Buddhism, and many meditation teachers refer to these teachings in their practices. Some, like Andy Puddicome, co-founder of the meditation app Headspace, having come directly from practicing Buddhism for a decade.

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Mindfulness itself has evolved and moved into the modern realm, making itself available and easily accessed by the average person. Rather than approaching monasteries for teachings of a calmer mind; articles, videos, books, and apps are available at your fingertips. Many argue that the growing trend of mindfulness practices are a result of the chaotic and overwhelming digital society that we live in. It is a little ironic therefore that a popular solution is the growing use of digital mindfulness apps. Learning mindful meditation from the comfort and privacy of your own home is an inexpensive and easy solution. Especially in the case of these apps, as a focus on ten-minute sessions or less are designed to easily slot into your lifestyle.

Last year the mindfulness market was estimated to be worth $1.2 billion (according to marketresearch.com) and it’s still growing; it’s estimated to be worth over $2 billion by 2022. There are over 1000 meditation apps available with Headspace, Calm and Buddify among the market leaders. From sleep exercises to breathing techniques, to mindfulness guides and meditation practices, it has never been easier to practice mindfulness.

The trend isn’t just in these apps, it is not uncommon to see more and more people turn to these practices as alternate health solutions. Doctors themselves are beginning to recommend mindful practices as part of a healthy lifestyle. Mindfulness retreats, classes, studios and training in the workplace are all becoming the norm. In January 2019, Vox reported that mindful activities such as Yoga and Meditation had tripled in the US between 2012-2017 and has since not shown signs of slowing down. You don’t have to go far to find a Yoga class or meditation workshop. Carving out sections of your busy schedule to slow down and focus on this sort of self-care is said to have tremendous benefits.

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Anecdotal evidence may indicate that many of your friends, colleagues and acquaintances are embracing these techniques and showing signs of happier and healthier lifestyles. Can we argue that mindfulness is now an established part of society and not just a trend? Have you considered it yet?

So what are the benefits of mindfulness practices? Said to profit both mental and physical well-being, practicing to keep a calmer mind can alleviate mental states of anxiety, depression and stress. More surprisingly perhaps, researchers have begun to find that it can also help to relieve physical conditions such as chronic pain, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS, and even treat heart disease. Even without mental and physical health problems, mindfulness and meditation is a way of re-wiring the brain to become, among other benefits, a happier, calmer, kinder and more patient person.

Despite the booming economic market of mindfulness practices, especially meditation, mindfulness doesn’t need to be an expensive practice, but it does take practice. One of the main aspects of mindfulness and meditation is the notion of being present. Many techniques aim to help refine this ability, from mindfully eating to walking to meditating, all of which requires a focus on the body. Whether that is concentrating on a small morsel of food and recognizing taste, texture, and bodily reaction as you take your time to chew; or sitting down and meditating, in which you attempt to clear your mind, focus on the breath and the feeling of your body and allow wandering thoughts to come and go without judgement.

The practice of mindfulness has been hugely beneficial to many people and its shrinking taboo and growing availability has made the area easier to access. Consider seeing if your year could be improved by a clearer, calmer and happier mind.

Woman Enjoying the Day

U.S. Life Expectancy Increases For The First Time In Years

The life expectancy of the average U.S. citizen has gone up for the first time since 2014. A major contributing factor to this is likely the fact that cancer death rates have declined the most they have in U.S. history within the past year. Additionally, drug overdose deaths, whether intentional or unintentional, have also seen a major decrease since 2018, some good news for a country that’s typically always devastated by physical and mental health statistics. 

The reports come from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and went on to emphasize how drug overdose deaths have decreased by 4% nationwide since 2018, a shocking statistic considering the increasing threat of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s caused countless accidental overdoses; including that of famous rapper Mac Miller who passed away in September 2018. 

However, the CDC credits the overall increase in life expectancy to the decrease in deaths caused by cancer or heart disease; the two leading causes of death in the world. The average American now has a life expectancy of 78.7 years, which is one tenth of a year more than what the CDC said in 2017. While one tenth of a year may not seem like that big of a deal, in terms of preventable and unpreventable causes of death it says a lot, especially to the professionals who are working with those who are sick with these diseases; it indicates to them that what they’re doing is working, even if it’s just a little.  

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“While modest, it’s really great news that the data shows progress. We have to be a little bit optimistic that some of our approaches to the problems worked, but let’s strike while the iron’s hot. I credit [the decline in overdose rates to] the overdose antidote, naloxone, which states and cities have made available so emergency workers and others can save the lives of people overdosing on opiods. But naloxone is a last resort that doesn’t get at the root causes of why people turn to drugs or suicide,” said psychologist Benjamin Miller, chief strategy officer at the non profit Well Being Trust.

Miller is referring to the stigma surrounding mental health and its relation to addiction. The fact is, substance abuse and addiction isn’t seen by general society as a real illness because it has to do with will-power and your brain, not multiplying cancer cells that you have no control over in your organs. However, mental illness is just as severe as physical illness, and the statistics can back up that both are just as uncontrollable and deadly. 

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Destigmatizing addiction and expanding accessible mental health resources won’t fix everything, but it’s definitely a start, and the new data from the CDC proves that it works too. Miller emphasized this point as well, stating that within the past few years medication-assisted treatment for those addicted to opioids has become more accessible. This is extremely important as addiction to opioids specifically has become one of the biggest health epidemics the U.S. has ever endured. 

Before this new data, for the past three years the U.S. has seen a relatively steady decline in life expectancy due to disease and accidental death rates. Drug overdoses are looped into this conversation because they account for over a third of all accidental deaths in the U.S.. Accidental deaths are within the top 10 leading causes of death as well, and that top 10 has remained stagnant as well for the past few years. 

Other top leading causes of death in the U.S. include pneumonia when coupled with the flu, heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries that lead to unexpected complications, lower respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and suicide. By further opening up these conversations regarding mental health and addiction, we can at least work on preventing some of those top 10 causes from increasing while we let medical and mental health professionals work on the rest.

Young College Student

Managing Stress As A College Student 101

Going to college can be one of the most gratifying and exciting experiences when you’re a young adult. However, many go into college expecting it to be like a movie; constant partying, meeting new people every night, complete independence, etc. and while those are all real things you’ll likely endure, there’s a lot of other aspects to it that many don’t prepare enough for. 

College students have some of the most alarming mental health statistics out of any other demographic in this country. America is one of the only nations in the world that charges an unfathomable amount for a college education. When you add endless financial burdens on top of actual schoolwork and navigating the world of adulthood/discovering yourself, it’s easy to fall into long periods of depression and anxiety. 

In order to avoid this, it’s important to know what exactly you’re getting yourself into when you begin your secondary education. It’s also just as important to have the tools to navigate all the trials and tribulations you might face within your four years away. 

Freshman year can be one of the most overwhelming in terms of class schedules. This is the year where you’re most likely going to get a lot of your core curriculum, or general education, courses completed in order to actually take classes in the field of your choice. Because of this, you’re likely to have a wide range of course topics and assignments, so finding an organized way to plan out everything you have to do is essential.  

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Freshman year can also be the year where you discover all the extracurricular’s that you might want to take on during your time at university, which is an even better reason to find yourself a solid way of planning out your weeks. Getting a large planner, desk calendar, white board, etc. is a great way to visually see everything you have to complete within a given week/month. Having a larger planner, or white board, to list out all of the obligations and extra activities you want to take on will give you more visual space to write out specific details, and will make prioritizing what needs to get accomplished much easier. 

It seems silly to tell a college student to make sure they find time for a social life, but it’s also important. You need to make sure that you have a solid group of people in your corner with you as you deal with all the new coming stresses college has to offer. Going out on the town, attending club meetings, shopping, going to a frat party, etc. are all parts of college that should be taken advantage of as a means of reducing stress. If you’re not into partying or shopping, that’s okay! Find your crew of people who have the same interests as you; maybe that means going for a weekly hike, or trying out for the on-campus play, whatever it is there is a guaranteed group of people at your college who enjoy whatever it is you want to do in your free time. 

Don’t ever be afraid to reach out for help for anything. When you’re first starting your college journey, there’s a lot of aspects of it that can be overwhelming, luckily, most schools have a resource for any sort of stress you may be having. Your RA/RD staff has most likely already seen/heard/experienced any issue you might have, so utilize them even if it’s just to talk. 

If your classes are what’s overwhelming you, utilize your campus’ tutoring services/writing centers as well as your professors office hours. Like an RA, the individuals working on the educational side of college have been in their field for a while, so they’re prepared and more than willing to help you work out any classwork discrepancies. Remember, no one wants to see you fail, it might sound like an obvious thing, but it’s worth remembering that everyone is on your side, especially when it comes to doing better in school. 

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Mental health should always be your number one priority. If you’re not feeling good emotionally, you’re not going to excel in any other areas of your busy schedule. Utilize on campus mental health services and psychologists when you feel like you want to talk to someone with a completely unbiased perspective. Yes, your friends and family should always be there for you to help as well, but sometimes hearing things explained from a third-party can give you the final push you need to do whatever it is you need to do to get back on the right track. 

If your mental health continues to hinder, talk to your family about your options, maybe going away for college wasn’t the best fit for you, or maybe you still want to be away, but definitely closer to home than you originally thought. Whatever it may be, you will have support, so don’t ever hesitate to ask for help. 

Finally, going along with the theme of mental health, it’s most important to find time for yourself and your relaxation. Complete independence away from home is a major transition for anyone, and while it may seem like a total blast to not have anyone tell you what to do all the time, it can also be extremely eye-opening. Not having your parents there to prepare your meals or do your laundry will quickly catch up to you. Make sure you’re eating three meals a day, that “freshman 15” rule can also apply to losing weight, so don’t let college become so overwhelming that you forget to give your body the nutrients it needs to have you functioning at your best. 

Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep, especially during the week. While pulling an all-nighter seems like an inevitable experience to have while at college, I can tell you from experience it’s very easy to go all four years without doing so. It just takes, as discussed previously, proper planning, solid organization, a good team of individuals in your corner, a social life that’s balanced with plenty of “me time” and an optimistic attitude. College is meant to be a time of self discovery and fun, don’t let all the other stresses anchor you down from having a life-changing time creating unforgettable memories.