Focusing On Yourself Once In A While Doesn't Mean You're Selfish

Focusing On Yourself Once In A While Doesn't Mean You're Selfish

Doing more for me than ever before.
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Throughout my whole life I have always been the "yes man."

If someone asked me to do something, I would do it even if I had fifteen other things to do that week. I have always tried to make other people happy.

If my sister had a cheerleading competition, I would miss hanging out with my friends to go to it. If my friend wanted to go one place and I wanted to go another place, we would go where they wanted to go. If someone needed a paper edited and I had three papers of my own to write, I would put their needs first. And I do not regret one single bit of any of that. Yes, it made my life stressful at times, but it was worth seeing them happy.

But now it is time for me to be selfish.

This is my last year of college and I have a lot to do. The fact of the matter is my life is unfolding before my eyes and I can't miss out on it. I have to do what I need to do in order to better myself. If you don't put forth the effort to talk to me or try to see me, you probably won't see me.

It's not because I don't care, it's just because I'm busy. I don't have time to worry about whose feelings will get hurt if I don't check in on them every few days. I keep up with most of y'all on Facebook and that is the beauty of social media. When I get five minutes out of my day, I check to see what my long lest friends are up to. I still see y'all out there slaying life.

I have had to learn to say no when I really don't have time to do something. This has stepped on a lot of toes and made a lot of people upset, but I can't help it. If I have 17 assignments due this week, I'm sorry, but I really don't have time to go out with you. Don't get mad at me when I put school before your need for adventure.

You know how if a plane is crashing you're supposed to put on your oxygen mask before you try to help other people? That's what I'm doing. If I don't finish school and get my life sorted out, then I'm not going to be any help to anyone. I have to make sure my priorities are straight and right now school is my number one.

If you're mad at me because I don't talk to you every day or because I just haven't called you in a while, sorry but I'm really not sorry. Right now my priorities are on other things, but once my life calms down, I'll be sure to get to you. Just please be patient with me while I stumble through my last year of college.

This is my last year to be selfish before I start a real job and begin thinking about starting a family. So please understand that I need to do me right now. Once I get those degrees, I'll help you with whatever you need. But for now, I need you to be okay with the fact that I am focusing on me.
Cover Image Credit: http://iancleary.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/relaxing.jpg

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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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Healthy Bodies Look Different, Even In The Summer

You've been told this a thousand times by your grandma, mom, sister, best friends, and even random articles on the internet, but when are you going to believe it?

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In all honesty, I didn't intend to write this week's article on this topic. It seemed as though the internet was already full of so many articles and ads that promote healthy bodies of all shapes and sizes. Now a days, people are told that if they want a "bikini body" this summer, all they have to do is put on a bathing suit and voilà.

Although I agree with this idea, there's a lot more that goes into it. Because while you can say that to someone, it doesn't mean she or he will believe it, at least not right away. In fact, self-love is a lifelong process, and some days are better than others.

My inspiration for this article and my thoughts surrounding the whole "a healthy body is a summer body" phenomenon really sparked when I posted a photo on Instagram. I captioned the photo of myself on the beach "Thigh gap? Don't know her" which was meant to be lighthearted and slightly comedic. However, the amount of love and support I received after posting that photo was overwhelming, to say the least.

But I didn't post that picture with that caption in order to receive all those compliments. So why did I post a picture of myself in a bathing suit, huge calves and some faint stretch marks out for all to see? There's no explanation other than the fact that I simply liked the photo (everything else about it, at least) and felt like making an Instagram post. And like I said, my accompanying caption was meant to be funny. Nonetheless, my heart was full of so much love after people left positive comments and reached out to me.

It saddens me that something as minuscule as posting a photo on Instagram can really make or break self-esteem now days, but one way to avoid all of this is to be confident in yourself and whatever you are posting before you even post it. That way, nothing can hurt, and positive comments will only lift your spirits even higher than they already are.

But let's stop focusing so much on social media posts and get into the deeper understanding of all this and the ways you can feel confident.

First off, there really is no such thing as a "summer body." Tell yourself this over and over. Bikini models and famous Instagramers may look generally similar in that they have bigger boobs, flat stomachs, tiny wastes, and toned butts, but most people in the world do not look like this. If you genuinely want to build a frame similar to this, then by all means go for it.

However, know that everyone is built differently. For example, I have always had more of an athletic-build, meaning I have larger hips and thighs and a bigger butt. I've honestly never had a thigh gap and I probably never will, which is something I have learned to accept because of the way I am built. Do I still struggle with this on some days? Absolutely. With all of that being said, though, I still workout and eat healthy to maintain my shape and stay toned. I also live a healthy lifestyle to keep a healthy BMI, or body mass index.

While I'm here to tell you how you can build your confidence and take pride in your body, I'm not here to tell you that you shouldn't worry about your BMI. Because everyone should worry about his or her BMI, as obesity is a legitimate health concern. But if you are a healthy weight for your height and you do take care of yourself, then you've nailed the recipe for a healthy body, a healthy body that may not look identical to all the models and celebrities, but still a healthy body nonetheless!

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