How To Bounce Back

How To Bounce Back

Big Sean and Jesus can teach us a lot.
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I woke up this morning with half of me hoping I could go back to sleep longer, the other half was frustrated because I slept past my normal wake-up time. I had my usual cup of coffee, dressed, and left for campus to go workout. On the way, I remember thinking, “I don’t know why I’m not in a good mood, but I guess I don’t have to be in a good mood every day.”

Before I started running, I prayed for God to lift my mood. Then I started my stopwatch, I focused on the sun, my strides, and how the wind blew against me on the East side of the track. I went over to the gym after, Friday is Fitness Friday after all. I started lifting, Friday is also Leg Day, and when I felt satisfied with exhaustion after almost two hours of working out, I felt elated. Funny how our mood can go bad to good within a matter of minutes, all I had to do was pray to God and start my day.

Running usually isn’t what people want to do on a Friday morning, but I had to get it done. I went from being in a slump to actually enjoy the morning and it is one of the best days I’ve had in awhile. It didn’t take long for my mindset to turn from negative to positive, all I had to do was pray.

On the other hand, sometimes my mindset goes from positive to negative and it seems to happen much quicker too. A day can turn south on a dime, when something you don’t want to happen, happens. We can’t control what happens to us, we can’t control when all the stoplights turn red, the workout is tough, the Keurig breaks, test results come back and frankly, they suck. So what do we do? We control what we can control. Our response.

Even Big Sean faces hurdles in life because didn’t he say “Last night took a L, but tonight I bounce back”? And what about that cliche quote that everyone knows, "When nothing goes right, go left"? Look at the Bible, people from two thousand years ago faced hardship, we read in 1 Peter 5:7 “Throw all your anxiety onto him, because he cares about you."

Yes, I did just reference a rap song and the Bible in the same paragraph. I did that because stuff happens, it’s inevitable. Whether you are a Christian or not, whether you are eighty years old or ten. Bad things happen. Why should they not? We aren’t entitled to a carefree life, we don’t deserve easy living. When stuff happens, the only thing we can do is respond as best we can.

How do you respond? Psalm 94:19 says “When my anxieties multiply, your comforting calms me down.” I woke up feeling less than great, but my response to this crappy mood was to just keep going, enjoy the little things, and to not let myself focus on the negativity. I prayed while I drove to the track, and I prayed before I started running. I listened to worship music and trusted that God was going to be with me throughout the day. Working out was just the activity, God was who I had my mind set on and that’s what changed my day. He was my response.

Big Sean must've taken a big L but he bounced back. Let's do the same.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

Increasing Evidence Points to Music as a Potential Solution to the Mental Health Problem.

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Okay, You caught me!

I am NOT just talking about everybody's favorite actor-turned-rapper— or second, if you've seen Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video. Unfortunately, current research hasn't explored specific genres and artists. However, studies HAVE provided significant evidence in possibilities for music to treat mental health disorders. Now, before you say something that your parents would not be proud of, ask yourself if you can really blame me for wanting to get your attention. This is an urgent matter concerning each one of us. If we all face the truth, we could very well reach one step closer to solving one of society's biggest problems: Mental Health.

The Problem:

As our nation continues to bleed from tragedies like the horrific shooting that shattered the lives of 70 families whose loved ones just wanted to watch the "Dark Knight Rises" during its first hours of release, as well as the traumatic loss of seventeen misfortunate innocents to the complications of mental health disorders in the dear city of Parkland— a city mere hours from our very own community— it's impossible to deny the existence of mental illness. As many of us can already vouch, mental illness is much more common than what most would think: over 19 million adults in America suffer from a mental health disorder. Picture that: a population slightly less than that of Florida is plagued by hopelessness, isolation, and utter despair.

Disease in the form of depression holds millions of people prisoner, as anxieties instill crippling desperation and too many struggles with finding peace. This can be you. It could be your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your friend, your roommate, your fraternity brother, your sorority sister, your lab partner, or just your classmate that sits in the corner of the lecture hall with a head buried into a notebook that camouflages all emotion.

I hope we— the UCF community— understand the gravity of the problem, but it's clear that some still see mental illness as a disease that affects only a handful of "misfits" who "terrorize" our streets, while the numbers reveal more to the issue. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. The problem is so serious that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds. While many continue to ask for more antidepressants and even the occasional "proper spanking," recent studies indicate increases in occurrence, such as one in depression from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. So, clearly, none of that is working.

The Evidence:

If we really want to create a world where our children are free from the chains of mental illness, we need to think outside the box. Doctors and scientists won't really talk about this since it's still a growing field of research, but music has strong potential. We don't have any options at the moment, which means we need to change our mindset about music and to continue to explore its medicinal benefits. If you're still skeptical because of the title, then please consider these 4 pieces of solid evidence backed by scientific research:

1. Music has been proven to improve disorders like Parkinson's Disease.

Researchers sponsored by the National Institute of Health— the country's largest research agency— saw an improvement in the daily function of patients with Parkinson's Disease. This makes patients shake uncontrollably, which often prevents them from complete functionality. The disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine— a chemical your neurons, or brain cells, release; since music treats this shortage, there's an obvious ability to increase dopamine levels. As numerous studies connect dopamine shortages to mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and ADHD, someone could possibly use music's proven ability to increase dopamine levels to treat said problems.

2. Listening to the music has the potential to activate your brain's "reward center."

In 2013, Valorie Salimpoor and fellow researchers conducted a study that connected subjects' pleasure towards music to a specific part of the brain. This key structure, the nucleus accumbens, is the body's "reward center," which means all of you have experienced its magical powers. In fact, any time the brain detects a rewarding sensation— drinking ice-cold water after a five-mile run in sunny, humid Florida, eating that Taco Bell chalupa after a long happy hour at Knight's Library, and even consuming recreational drugs— this structure releases more of that fantastic dopamine. So, with further research into specifics, doctors may soon be prescribing your daily dose of tunes for your own health.

3. Listening to Music may be more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medication.

In 2013, Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin— two accomplished doctors in psychology— reviewed a study wherein patients waiting to undergo surgery were given either anti-anxiety medications or music to listen to. The study took into account cortisol levels, which are used daily by healthcare professionals to gauge patient levels. This "stress hormone" was actually found to be lower in patients who listened to classical music rather those who took the recommended dose of prescription drugs. Sit there and think about that for a second: these patients actually felt more relaxed with something as simple as MUSIC than with chemicals that are made specifically to force patients into relaxation before surgery. Why pop a Xanax when you can just listen to Beethoven?

4. Music may release the chemicals that help you naturally relax and feel love.

Further studies continue to justify music's place in the medical world as results demonstrate increases in substances such as prolactin— a hormone that produces a relaxing sensation— as well as oxytocin— the substance that promotes warmth and happiness during a hug between mother and child. So this study basically showed us that music has the potential to actually make you feel the way you did when Mom or Dad would embrace you with the warmest hug you've ever felt.

The Future:

The evidence I present you with today is ultimately just a collection of individual situations where specific people found specific results. There are a lot of variables when it comes to any research study; therefore, data is never truly certain. We should take these findings as strong suggestions to a possible solution, but we must remember the possibility of failure in our search.

The neurochemistry behind the music and its medicinal properties is just beginning to unfold before the scientific community. In fact, extremely qualified scientists from the National Institute of Health— the organization that basically runs any important medical study in the United States— continue to remind us of the subject's youth with the constant use of "potential" behind any and all of their findings. Therefore, it's our responsibility as a community to look into this— not just that of the scientists at the National Institute of Health.

We're all surrounded by music. It's at the bars. It's in our ears during all-night sessions at the UCF library. It's keeping us awake through East Colonial traffic at 7:00 AM while hordes of students focus on their cell phone screens instead of the paved roads ahead. It's in the shoes we wear, the actions we take, and the words we say. IF YOU'RE READING THIS: it's accessible to you. So, don't be shy, and try to play with your Spotify account, or even just on YouTube, and gauge the power of music. As more and more of us see the light, we can promote the movement and carry on as more research comes out to support us.

Drop the bars, drop those addictive pills that destroy your body slowly, and pick up your headphones and press PLAY.

Just relax, close your eyes, smile, and live.

Cover Image Credit:

@champagnepapi

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5 Ways To Find Your More Sustainable Self

Plastic is out.

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The year is 2018 and plastic is finally going out of style. Due to media coverage of the horrible effects of plastic such as this video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nostril or this whale with 20 pounds of plastic in its stomach. Businesses and consumers are becoming more aware of the waste they produce through the products they use.

But it is not enough.

Every day in the United States more than 500 million straws are used. Plastic straws are not recyclable and contribute to horrible circumstances such as this large mass of plastic in the Caribbean.

My purpose in this article is not to tell you to buy another Contigo water bottle or carry a bowl with you everytime you go out, but I want you to be more aware of your responsibility as a citizen of this Earth and understand the consequences that your everyday convenient use of plastics have on your home and on future generations.

Here are 5 steps you can take to become more sustainable.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wH878t78bw

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