Friday, September 15, 2017

September 15: Health Day/ Hispanic Heritage Month Begins

Junior Elisson G. introduced our UD Peace Week, Chapel speakers, for Health Day, Dr. Marcia Moore and Chef Jeremy Canning of the Sage Dining Team.

Peace Week September 2017
Mental Health and Peace - U.D. Chapel talk
Marcia S. Moore, Ph.D.
Director of Psychological Services
Picture and Videos added by Carmen Clay, Service-Learning Director

Thinking about mental health is an important consideration during Peace Week because mental health is a crucial part  of  inner peace, peaceful relationships and ultimately world peace.
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological/personal, and social well-being.  It affects how we think, feel and act.  It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.  Positive M.H. allows people to *realize their full potential, *cope with the stresses of life, *learn and work productively, and *make meaningful contributions to their communities. M.H. is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.  
Ways to maintain positive mental health include *connecting with others, *having positive thoughts, *staying physically active, *getting enough sleep, *developing and using coping skills, and *helping others.  You may question, "Why is 'helping others' part of maintaining positive mental health?"  I was fascinated to learn this week about recent research which suggests that human beings have a "compassion instinct" which neuroscientists can measure in a primitive part of the brain called the amygdala.  The amygdala primarily has been understood as the response center for survival, the "stress response" center that recognizes danger (like the presence of a menacing tiger) and causes us to react/ protect ourselves by fighting, fleeing or freezing.   Our "compassion instinct" prompts us to help other people, which  protects and enhances the survival of humanity, and also helps us have positive thoughts about ourselves and to feel good.  Both kept our ancestors alive to pass on their genes.

Let's focus on mental health helping us cope with the stresses of life as one pathway to peace.  Many people these days, including some students, feel truly "stressed".   When we get stressed or upset, our body tenses up to fight, flee or freeze.  The number one way to reduce tension is through relaxation.  Studies have shown that relaxing routinely actually improves the expression of genes that help control the fight-or-flight stress response.  Somehow the effects of soothing and calming your body and your mind sift all the way down to affect tiny atomic units within your molecules of DNA: amazing!!

So how do you relax?  Do you know and choose healthy ways of relaxation?  Some healthy strategies to relax and deal with stress include taking a hot bath, talking with a friend or trusted adult, reading and getting exercise.  Some of you have learned to use visualization and/or relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga and meditation.  

In addition to relaxation, to become and to stay stress-resistant we need to do something fun at least once a week.  Does your way of having fun respect and protect your mind and your body?  Think with me for a moment about how often you could say, "I avoid smoking cigarettes and/or vaping;"  "I avoid using illegal or other mind- or mood-altering drugs;"  "I avoid drinking alcohol."  These chemicals stress and damage your developing brain, your mind and your body.
Do you get seven to eight hours sleep most nights?  At your age, even more sleep is recommended  but with homework, sports, and other activities, realistically a minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep is really good.  Sleep renews the mind and while we sleep, the mind stores what we've learned that day in long term memory.
Doing something positive for ourselves every day helps to relieve and resist stress. What do you do or could you do that's positive for you?  You could tell yourself, "I like myself flaws and all," for example.  One thing I do is to begin and end each day thinking about something for which I am grateful and thanking God for those blessings.   keeping a growth mindset is always positive.  You and I can remind ourselves, "My intelligence and talents are not fixed.  I'm growing.  When I'm confronted by something difficult, I will persevere until I get it.  Whether I do it perfectly or not, I will learn something."  A growth mindset leads to success and helps to keep us positive thinkers and doers.
Deriving faith and security from our religious and/or spiritual beliefs alleviates stress, too.  We know we are not alone and we feel more secure and peaceful as we relate to a power and presence greater than ourselves.
Relationships are extremely important in helping to reduce stress and stay positive.  Having one or more friends you really enjoy and trust and you can tell your innermost thoughts and feelings and having at least one parent or adult who lives with you or nearby, who is reliable and whom you admire and trust help to support and encourage you, and let you know you are loved and valued.  
And then there's eating balanced, nutritional meals and it's time to introduce Chef Jeremy  Canning.

SAGE Dining Services® - Scratch Cooking from SAGE Dining Services® on Vimeo.

During Activities, Dr. Carlos Torres will show the documentary Happy to observe Health Day and the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month

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National Hispanic Heritage Month is the period from September 15 to October 15 in the United States, when people recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate the group's heritage and culture.
September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. All declared independence in 1821. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21, respectively.