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Friday, August 26, 2011

The Naked Truth

This is the hardest blogs I've written  so bare with me

I remember at the age of five sitting at the table over Christmas wishing for blonde hair and blue eyes.I lived in Europe and I hated being the only girl in my class with olive skin and long black hair. So, I was pretty upset when my my mum said that it wasn't possible.

 The need to fit in  even at that young age was overwhelming and still remains a huge struggle for me today.I remember first starting dieting when I was 10 years old hoping to become an overnight miracle and turn into one of the "popular" girls at school. I wanted kids to stop teasing me. To stop seeing me as the short and chubby girl. I would lie to my mother and pretend I ate my lunch at school. I doubt the bins at my school had seen so many curry lunches. When I went to college my whole dieting went out of the door and I put on 20 Lbs. I never felt so disgusted with myself. .I became a woman on a mission. I began dieting, exercising my ass off and sneaking diet pills . Though never becoming anorexic or bulimic I began entering a black hole that  I was struggling to get out of. When friends or family members commented on my weight (putting on) I felt daggers penetrating my heart and felt my self esteem just plummet. Counting calories and calories spent became a never ending and tiring cycle. At times I began hiding behind bathroom doors doing lunges and jumping jacks(albeit my attempts were quite poor) hoping to get rid of the extra biscuit I ate during tea time. At night at times I would  silently wait for time to stop.

Twenty years later, I'm not going to say the road to self love and healing has been easy. Each day is a struggle and push. But the point is I'm trying.

As a society we're often quick to blame others for our misfortunes whether it's the media or peers, it's as if we're afraid to become accountable for our actions as if our vulnerabilities would make us less human or less acceptable. When will we learn to embrace our flaws - everything that makes us unique, special and "weird"? Because frankly it's about damn time we did.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Children Relax and Decrease Stress with Colors | Stress Free Kids

Breathing Relaxes Kids, Decrease Stress | Stress Free Kids

Teen Stress Decreases With Proper Breathing Technique | Stress Free Kids

And I'm Like Forget You

There's nothing more stressful for me than waiting for my luggage at baggage claim, especially when they only release one bag at a time. As bags pass you by one mocking bag at a time you find yourself standing on your toes hoping to get a glimpse of your precious cargo. You keep reassuring yourself that it will come. You find yourself talking in soothing tones, counting backwards from twenty ......... You begin experiencing muscle  tension, abdominal pain and sweaty palms As passengers drift away with their luggage you keep consoling  yourself as you find yourself stuck with the few remaining miserable souls.

The wait is so long you begin getting delusional. One passenger  believed  his luggage might be stuck in some myserious vent. I became hopeful. We looked like two idiots staring at a vast hole hoping our luggage would magically pop up.  When it became apparent that my suitcase was indeed lost I found myself running to baggage claim like a mad woman. I began  spewing out all the virtues and qualities of my luggage to a slightly confused attendant. Namely all the clothes and makeup inside it.I sought reassurance from the baggage claim person.  I became irritable, unable to pay attention to what he was saying .I was too busy contemplating whether or not to have flyers printed out half expecting a ransom call ( I watch CSI.)

Once in my room I sank into my bed defeated (emotionally). I got up every other hour to call up baggage claim each time highlighting my stress. I became restless and began pacing around my room biting my nails. Around 2 pm the following the day my suitcase finally found its way back home. I've never felt so relieved.

The issue of  stress management is of huge concern in schools and is an issue that all of us struggle with. Stress is a normal physiological response to threatful events. During such events the hypothalamus in the brain  regulates metabolic and autonomic function and prepares the muscles to act  - to either fight or flee.  In each case heart rate is increased,  breathing is shallow and fast, digestion is slowed and muscle tension increases (Tanner, 2007).

Stress can result from being bullied, family/relationship conflicts, bereavement, academic problems,  hectic schedules and poor time management skills.

The first step in stress management is to identify the physical (heartburn/constipation/diarrhea, migraine/tension
headaches, shallow breathing. cold sweaty palms. jaw pain, neck pain, loss of/increased appetite, stuttering, dryness of mouth, increased heart rate) behavioral (low morale, sleep disturbances, use of aggressive behavior, carelessness, compulsiveness, blaming other, accident proneness, disturbed relationships and nervous ticks such as nail biting, foot tapping and teeth grinding) emotional (irritability, angry outbursts, depression, jealousy, withdrawal, negative thoughts and reduced self esteem,  anxiousness, tendency to cry, self deprecation and nightmares) and cognitive (forgetfulness, preoccupation, blocking, reduced creativity, lack of concentration and decreased psychomotor reactivity and coordination) signs of stress.

Once you've identified signs of stress, just like anger,it's worth noting that people react to stress in different ways. Some might get angry and act out while others may try to internalize it which could lead to maladaptive behaviors such as substance abuse or eating disorders.

In order to tackle stress in a healthy way it's useful to practice certain preventive techniques. These may include learning time management skills, being realistic, getting a good night's sleep,  deep breathing exercises, visualization, use of humor and getting regular exercise. Practice these regularly and you'll feel the stress melt away. Have a happy and stress free Sunday.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

$#*! My Mum Says

We all know parents say the craziest things. Case and point Justin Halpern. I remember once, when I was six my mum sat me down on her lap and thought she could teach me about sex through graphic images in an anatomy book (well graphic enough for any six year old). She couldn't understand why I had to be so overly dramatic as I proceeded to run and stumble into my room clearly traumatized. A few friends of mine just like Brittany from Glee with the sincerity  and anticipation of a little kid waiting for a slightly obese/diabetic  santa clause to shoot his ass down your overpriced  chimney truely believed that storks would deliver their babies. School attempted to teach us about sex education through videos about HIV and Pedophilia (videos always seemed to depict individuals of latin american decent )- I'm still not sure about the connection but I'm pretty sure the videos were quite racist and that  sex + piƱata +candy = bad.  But I'm still waiting for Fox News to get back to me on that.

Parents and schools often struggle with the concept of sex education. A lot of schools worldwide do not  provide enough  support , information and general resouces on sex education. In the UK incidences of unprotected sex, sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy are staggering high(http://www.bbc.co.uk/) with girls as young as 9-10 years old (Europe) getting pregnant.

Nowadays it's become quite common to hear about teen pregancies. The common misconception that many schools and parents have is that sex education leads to sex . While schools stubbornly refuse to talk about sex, television programs such as Boston Public, Dawson's Creek, 90210, Gossip Girl, Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant have been accused of glamorizing teen pregnancy. Bill Albert , the chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (MSNBC) highlights the need for governments to invest in sex ed programs and the need to encourage parents to broach the subject with children (MSNBC). Clearly multiple interventions need to be implemented in order to curb incidences of teen pregancy.  Interventions such as a) education b) skills and self esteem approaches, c) peer education (where peers can be used as facilitators) d) parental participation and e) clinical/social services, employment and training (Baker, 2007 Teen Pregnancy. ) Interventions not only need to be targeted at schools but at homes and community centres as well (Baker, 2007). A study by Baker (2007) highlighted the effectiveness of  these interventions in terms of improving knowledge, preventing risky behavior and reducing the rate of teen pregnancy. A number of studies and interventions such  as those  set up by Aral, Douglas & Handsfield ( 2008) support  Baker's research.

However, before any of this can be achieved we need to change  the stigma attached to sex education and our attitudes towards pregnant teens. Moreover, we need to establish a sense of empathy and mutual respect. Only then can one truely move forward.

"I guess it's hard for people who are so used to things the way they are - even if they're bad to change. 'Cause they kind of give up. And when they do, everybody kind of loses. " - Pay It Forward (2000).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kids Say The Craziest Things

A certain individual recounted to me the other day how her preschooler cussed during a family gathering (smart guy!), I even remember my own niece at the age of three (?) stringing words together such as "goodness gracious me" while striking a pose (though she may go to great lengths to deny it.). While working I even saw a child desperately eating fruit in the hopes of turning  into a motorbike (obviously it wasnt meant to be but his determination nevertheless was admirable). It's clear that children say  and do the wackiest things. Here's a list of  crazy things children say. What's your favourite?

1. A kindergarten pupil told his teacher he'd found a cat, but it was dead. 'How do you know that the cat was dead?' she asked her pupil. 'Because I pissed in its ear and it didn't move,'answered the child innocently. 'You did WHAT???' the teacher exclaimed in surprise. 'You know,' explained the boy, 'I leaned over and went 'Pssst!' and it didn't move.'

2. A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minuteslater..... 'Daad....' 'What?' 'I'm thirsty. Can you bring drink of water?' 'No, You had your chance. Lights out.' Five minutes later; 'Da-aaaad.....' 'WHAT?' 'I'm THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water??' I told you NO! If you ask again, I'll have to spank you!!' Five minutes later......'Daaaa-aaaad.....' 'WHAT!' 'When you come in to spank me,can you bring a drink of water?'

3. An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him 'How do you expect to get into Heaven?' The boy thought it over and said, 'Well, I'll run in and out and in and out and keep slamming the door until St. Peter says, 'For Heaven's sake, Dylan, come in or stay out!''

4. One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her son into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, 'Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?' The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. 'I can't dear,' she said. 'I have to sleep in Daddy's room.' A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice; 'The big sissy.'

5. It was that time, during the Sunday morning service, for the children's sermon. All the children were invited to come forward. One little girl was wearing a particularly pretty dress and, as she sat down, the pastor leaned over and said, 'That is a very pretty dress. Is it your Easter Dress?' The little girl replied, directly into the pastor's clip-on microphone, 'Yes, and my Mom says it's a b-tch to iron.'

6. One day the first grade teacher was reading the story of Chicken Little to her class. She came to the part of the story where Chicken Little tried to warn the farmer. She read, '..... and so Chicken Little went up to the farmer and said, 'The sky is falling, the sky is falling!' The teacher paused then asked the class, 'And what do you think that farmer said?' One little girl raised her hand and said, 'I think he said; 'Holy Shit! A talking chicken!'' The teacher was unable to teach for the next 10 minutes.