Think Positive

By Abbie Lewis

In the past few years, self-care has become a very hot topic. Positive affirmations are a genre of self-care that I’ve recently been curious about. I never really knew how I felt about them and if I’m being honest they really did seem silly at first to me. Why do I need to tell myself in my mind, or out loud, that I’m awesome, and worthy of happiness? Surely that’s not going to do anything for me. But then I did a little research and found that there is a lot of science and theory behind it all.

Women are nearly twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. For women especially, things like positive affirmations can really go a long way. Positive affirmations come from the self-affirmation theory, which basically states that everyone needs to establish a sort of self-identity that is positive and warm, and assures oneself that they are deserving of kind words. I can only speak for myself, but I know that I often have a very negative inner voice when it comes to myself. I don’t always think very highly of myself. This can be a dangerous journey toward depression and the very simple act of telling myself positive things can help steer me away from that. It may sound silly, but wouldn’t you rather feel a little silly sometimes than suffer from depression?

The fun thing about living in our world of technology and social media is that there are all kinds of different apps, or profiles on socials to help beginners. I know that I didn’t even know where to begin so these tools are very useful just to give examples of affirmations and get you started. A couple of easy examples are:

I love and approve of myself,

I choose to enjoy this moment,

I am smart,

I am brave,

They can be as easy as that or as long and in depth as you want to make them, as long as you are always speaking in a positive light. This is such an easy tool for a long and happy life.

It’s Okay Not to be Okay Right Now.

By Mia Lukic

A global pandemic. Nationwide protests. An election. The everyday, mundane life annoyances. It is no surprise that most people are on edge and struggling right now. When will the pandemic end? When will we see our families and do the things we like again? Who will be the next president of the United States? Will we know immediately or will this take days, weeks, months? How will the choice impact my rights? The safety of our friends and families? The state of our environment?

A study conducted by CARAVAN and The Maple Counseling Center reported that 52% of people reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted by the 2020 presidential election. 64% when it comes to Gen Z and 57% when it comes to Millennials (healthline).

Not only that, but the Pandemic has been detrimental to mental health as well. A Total Brain survey announced today that 83% of women and 36% of men had experienced an increase in depressed moods. 53% of working women and 29% of men have experienced an increase in anxiety since February. The effects have been disastrous for everyone, including and especially women.

The CDC reports:

“Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes cause the following:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Worsening of mental health conditions.
  • Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.”

So what do we do when we feel like everything is awful and there’s little we can do?

Remember to put yourself first. Your mental health is important and self care is mandatory. Despite the world not pausing and deadlines and due dates persisting, find time to do what makes your heart happy. Go outside, draw, read, watch a show. Many websites suggest a social media cleanse or limiting news/politics.

Hopefully you can find time to pause and take care of yourself, and remember that you’re not alone in feeling this way. It is expected and okay to be frazzled, anxious, angry, or however else you are feeling. There are so many people that care and want to be with you through all of this. The UMKC Counseling Center has great resources and opportunities to speak with professionals, and know that 105 Haag Hall always has a listening ear and a helping hand.

 

SAD Winter Blues

By Abbie Lewis

It’s that time of year again where it’s dark all the time, or so it feels, and cold as all get out. Not my favorite of the weather options but we don’t get much of a choice living here in the Midwest, do we? I know that for a lot of us students, things are getting kind of stressful as well since we’re now over halfway done with the semester and things are piling up. People make a lot of jokes sometimes about the depression getting to them around this time, and about Seasonal Affective Disorder, but it is a very real disorder, and it’s never more important to monitor your mental health than in the cold months, especially for women.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, is a type of depression related to season and weather changes. People don’t always realize it, but the sun and good weather really can play a huge part on our moods and emotions! Going without them for a long time when things are already stressful can be very hard. I know that I personally go through this kind of depressive slump throughout the winter. When we get a random sunny day with even a glimpse of the 40s, I get beyond excited and feel the need to do my make up, get all cute and make the most of it!

This is especially crucial information for women.  According to Mayo Clinic, women are nearly twice more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men are. It’s partly due to our biology and our hormones, but it’s also due to the immense amount of social stressors women experience. A lot of women work a job as well as carry most of the weight in their home life, making depression a much more prevalent thing for them. During the cold seasonal changes, when SAD can occur, it can be very hard for women, especially the many of us who already battle with chronic depression.

There are ways to combat SAD though, cool things like a lamp that mimics the sun and you can set it to be an alarm for you in the morning so it’s more like waking up to sunlight. As always, therapy can help tremendously too! I’m no expert by any means but I think that making sure you go easy on yourself during these times and staying as positive as you can, can help a lot. Hang in there and we will make it through this cold winter and come out on the other side!

 

My Secret Eating Disorder

By Abbie Lewis

I’ll never forget the day I stepped on to the scale and saw a number that horrified me, and made me want to change everything I knew about myself. I used to be a very overweight woman. I didn’t know or care a lot about healthy living, nutrition, or any of that stuff. What I did know was: that number I saw when I looked down made me feel disgusted with myself, and made me want to take drastic measure to make sure it decreased. Looking back now, I realize that that was my first mistake, not loving my body for what it was and not deciding to go a way that would benefit my health as well as celebrate who I was. Instead, I developed an eating disorder and went about things very wrong.

Eating disorders are common, and I’m sure if you really investigated, you would find that you know someone that has or had one at some point in their life. In fact, over 30 million Americans have experienced an eating disorder at some point. The most common eating disorder is anorexia nervosa, a disorder that implores people to starve themselves. The eating disorder that I developed was bulimia nervosa, where one either purges the food they intake via self-induced vomiting or using laxatives. I would eat what I considered pretty healthy but then take an obscene amount of laxatives to purge everything out of me so that I could lose weight rapidly. It worked to an extent and I dropped weight pretty fast but the pain it was causing me was unbearable. The stomach cramps and nausea was so intense that soon I saw what I was doing was wrong and changed my ways. I then did my research and learned how to be healthy and exercise to lose weight and ended up dropping over 50 lbs. and becoming very proud of my accomplishment.

I’m not telling you all of this to make you think that you have to be thin to be pretty or happy or feel accomplished. In fact, I’m trying to tell you the exact opposite. Going to insane lengths like bulimia to lose weight all because you’re so unhappy with yourself is not the way and chances are, there’s something going on inside that you probably need to deal with or you’ll never find inner peace. During my weight loss journey I also learned a lot about myself and what makes me happy and I truly believe that that is the reason I become so proud of myself. Being a woman or non-binary person in today’s beauty standards is really hard and I think we all need to be there for each other and lift each other up. We should share out stories and become one with them and only then can we learn how to overcome our hardships.

Fall into a New Hobby

By Jordan Tunks

With Fall only two weeks away, depression and anxiety will be on an increase in women. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, from the time a girl reaches puberty until the age of 50, she is twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder as a man and anxiety disorders also occur earlier in women. This is important for younger women to know so they can be aware of the signs. Common signs are irritability, low motivation, increased heart and breathing rate, and trouble sleeping. Knowing these signs and can be critical in taking the proper steps to get the help needed.

With colder weather coming it is sometimes hard to find activities to help fight depression and anxiety. Some activities that can help alleviate these poor feelings are cleaning, cooking, finding a good book to read, or doing arts and crafts. Finding a hobby that can be done indoors is important for fighting and coping with these sometimes-negative feelings. This can be a time to find a new hobby as well. Learning more about yourself is important and finding activities that you enjoy is important in keeping calm and keeping your feeling positive.

Keeping in touch with family and friends can also help with depression and anxiety. If you have a close relationship with someone, simply talking to them can help ease the mind and bring you a calming feeling. Having normalcy can be comforting instead of having new conversations and experiences that could increase anxiety. Sometimes it is hard for people to venture out to new things or even have conversations with new people so keeping close friends and family can be beneficial.

Pink Ribbon

Morgan with her Mother

By Morgan Clark

I still remember the day my mother told us she had breast cancer. It was like any other day: my dad was upstairs fixing something, like always, and I was sitting in the living room watching Netflix. My mom walked into the house, I greeted her but she didn’t respond. That was uncommon, we were a household big on greeting one another when entering the house. I was getting upset because she was clearly ignoring me, but that all change when I saw her face. I asked her what was wrong but she didn’t answer. I got so concerned that I yelled out to my father to come downstairs and speak to my mom. He came down with a grumble but was instantly concerned when he saw her face, just like I had been. It was that day I learned my mother had breast cancer. It was one of the hardest years for our family. Cancer is a beast that can consume a person and their family. Even though it was a hard year, we made it through and persevered. In that year I began to see my mother as a warrior. To fight that beast with such poise was very honorable of her. She didn’t let Cancer defeat her spirit which gave us strength. There were days that were really tough for her, but she continued to push through it.

Luckily for my mother, she knew how to check herself for any lumps in her breast. As we get older, we must learn how to self-check ourselves. We also need to know at what age one needs to get a mammogram, and if you need to check early because of family history. Now that breast cancer is a part of my life, I have learned quite a few things about my family history. For instance, I learned that my great-aunt also had breast cancer. Meaning, this is possibly a disease that runs in my family. It is very important to know your family history in regards to health, that knowledge could save your life.

I also learned that the most common form of breast cancer is TNBC or Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Which is one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer because it grows quickly and comes back even after treatment. And although breast cancer effects white women the same as black women, black women have a higher death rate. According to the CDC, death rates for black women are 40% higher than white women. Black women are also more often diagnosed at a younger age than white women.

It’s important that women, especially black women, know all of this and more about breast cancer. These stats can help save one’s life. Knowing these things now, emphasizes to me that my health is an important thing to keep an eye on, even at a young age. So, for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I advise you to learn these facts about it, and then continue to expand your knowledge. You never know when that knowledge might save your life.

Pink October

By Jordan Tunks

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to Young Survival Coalition, in 2015, there were 231,840 cases of invasive breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 15 to 39. Early detection is a vital component in recovery and remission. Most insurance plans offer a free mammogram once a year. If one doesn’t have insurance and are below the poverty line, Wyandotte Public Health Department and Swope Parkway Health Center offer free mammograms here in Kansas City. On Freemammograms.org you can search any state and city to see where free mammograms are offered and the criteria for these. This could be critical in saving someone’s life if they aren’t sure where to go for help.

According to Young Survival Coalition, 80% of young women diagnosed with breast cancer find the breast abnormality themselves. Knowing how to conduct these tests on yourself is a very important tool to know. Doing these tests on yourself is important to do at least once a month. Using your fingertips and circling the nipple and tracking to the outside of the breast is a simple way to check for any new bumps. Also looking for redness and new markings is important.

Approximately 30% of all breast cancer in young women occur in the few years after a woman has had a baby or while she is still pregnant. If you are pregnant or have been pregnant in the last five years, your body is more vulnerable and can become more susceptible to things like Breast Cancer. All women, but especially mothers, should be informed on when and how to do this exam on themselves. Check out this diagram and become familiar with how to perform the exam properly, and make sure to make yearly appointments for mammograms to ensure you are staying as healthy as possible!

New Times, Same Habits

By Jordan Tunks

The world we live in today is very new and different. Everyone is being impacted differently, and are experiencing new obstacles and barriers to overcome every day. One thing that we should be focused on while we are stuck inside and have limited access to gyms or recreation services is our physical health. Women tend to have lower iron compared to men because of pregnancy or heavy menstruation. Women lose a lot of blood during periods and childbirth, so it is important to replenish this mineral. Being low on iron can cause dizziness, weakness, and headaches. These can severely impact one’s daily lifestyle. Adding beans, dark leafy greens such as spinach or kale, nuts, or whole-grain bread can increase the iron intake and prevent the headaches and dizziness. Some easy ways to add these into your diet could be to add them into a smoothie, eat a salad every few meals, try a new bean soup, or trying a new trail mix.

Sometimes it is difficult to add these things to a diet and it takes time for a change to be made, so in this case a multi-vitamin can be added to the daily routine. These will increase iron and some other vitamins that can be hard to get in one day. Finding the right multivitamin for your body is also important and making sure it will work with your body and lifestyle. There are multi-vitamins specifically for women and these would be a beneficial addition to the daily lifestyle.

Nutrition is a big factor in one’s overall well-being and lifestyle. Making sure to still make time for at least 30 minuets of exercise each day is still very important. This can be achieved by daily walks, at home yoga, cleaning the house, or even doing yard. It is important to find a way that is enjoyable to you so it does not seem daunting and you will be more motivated to keep consistently doing it.

Physical Heath: How often to go to the Doctor, Gynecologist, and Breast Exams

By Brianna Green

If you did not know, September 30th is National Women’s Fitness and Health day. I’ve been talking a lot about the female anatomy, so I think it’s important to acknowledge when it’s time to get it checked out and how often to do so.

Although it’s debatable whether yearly visits to the doctor are actually necessary, it’s still suggested that you see your primary physician for a physical once a year. Afterall, as Dr. Earlexia M. Norwood was quoted in Health.com, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Although skipping a year might not hurt you it’s important to make sure that you’re doing everything to prevent illness, watching out for early signs of an issue, and having your vitals (like blood pressure) checked. It’s better to catch something small while it’s still not an issue and treatable than dealing with a mess later on. Plus, it’s reassuring to know you’re in good health (especially now).

Like the physical exam, it’s suggested to also see your gynecologist once a year. They can test you for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and preform pap tests (aka pap smears) to check for cervical cancer. Although, pap smears are not tested every year, but are suggested every 3 years starting around 21 years old. Gynecologists also preform breast exams to check for cancer.

However, they’re not the only ones who can perform breast exams. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), “Adult women of all ages are encouraged to preform breast self-exams at least once a month.” This self-exam should be performed a week after your period, while in the shower, in front of the mirror, and lying down. You should do these exams “with the pads/flats of your 3 middle fingers, check the entire breast and armpit area pressing down with light, medium, and firm pressure. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, hardened knot, or any other breast changes”. Also, make sure that you’re visibly checking your breasts in the mirror to see any discoloring, swelling, dimpling, and/or discharge from the nipples. Like I said before, it’s better to catch something small while it’s still not an issue and treatable than dealing with a mess later on. Please stay on top of your physical and mental health, especially right now in this abnormal world.

Music and Mental Health

By Emma Gilham

The effects of COVID-19 have shaken the world. It is easier than ever to fall into a spiral of pessimism and apathy. While we shouldn’t hold ourselves to the same standards as we hold ourselves during a non-pandemic, it is disorienting to look in the mirror and not recognize who is looking back. The World Health Organization reports, women are at a higher risk of having mental disorders. Not to mention, “The high prevalence of sexual violence to which women are exposed and the correspondingly high rate of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following such violence, renders women the largest single group of people affected by this disorder.” With that in mind, the isolation we are experiencing due to COVID-19 may escalate risk factors or amplify existing psychological struggles. Listening to music has always been a path to inspiration, solace, and focus for me. In fact, listening to music can be beneficial in multiple psychological aspects. Research has suggested that it could improve cognitive performance, decrease symptoms of depression, improve sleeping patterns, and help manage pain. To clarify, I am not saying listening to music will cure mental illnesses or replace any form of professional treatment. However, music could help bring relaxation and reminders of strength to day-to-day tasks.

Have you been needing to clean for the past week, but haven’t had any motivation? Throw on your favorite grooves and get going! Do you need workout inspiration? Look for tracks with 125-140 beats per minute! Are you feeling down? A 2014 study found “overall sad music can evoke positive feelings such as peacefulness, harmony, and kindness.” Go ahead and blast those sad songs, and maybe get a good cry in. You might just come out of it, in a better mood. As we’ve all heard a million times since April, “This is a trying time for all of us.” Don’t forget the simple joys that could help each day be a little better. My personal quarantine favorites by womxn are listed below:

 

Songs

· Gold Dust Woman -Fleetwood Mac

· I Put A Spell on You – Nina Simone

· Savage (Remix) -Megan Thee Stallion (ft. Beyoncé)

· Midnight Sky -Miley Cyrus

· Here You Come Again -Dolly Parton

· Still -Seinabo Sey

· Heart of Glass -Blondie

· Flowers- WILLOW

Albums

· It Was Good Until It Wasn’t -Kehlani

· Folklore -Taylor Swift

· ANTI -Rihanna

· Rare -Selena Gomez

· Cheap Queen -King Princess

· Chilombo -Jhene Aiko

· The Seven Deadly Sins – Shreya