Final SOH Blog Post (#3)

Final SOH Blog Post (#3)

The most important lesson that I will take away from this class is that you are your own best advocate. I am not someone who has severely suffered from mental health or substance abuse, but I have definitely had my ups and downs with both. This class has helped me to put my experience into perspective and understand the nature of these ‘situations’ (for lack of a better word). For example, it was really enlightening to come to learn that personality types are a strong baseline for substance abuse. It was very interesting to learn how the brain’s neurochemistry can get “hooked” on a substance; I think this knowledge kind of knowledge is fundamental if we hope to combat the ongoing drug epidemic. There’s a sort of positive feedback loop: the substance disinhibits your self-control and you’re more likely to continue using.

Mindfulness was another topic that I found extremely helpful. I was familiar with the concepts of mindfulness, flow, and meditation but I did not realize that there was scientific evidence to support these as a avenue to happiness. I will definitely start getting into a routine of meditating and yoga. For one of my two events outside-of-class I choose to go to another yoga session (in part because I accidentally wore jeans the first time – oops!). I used practice yoga regularly and it was really nice to get into it again because it’s largely a mental experience/escape. Exercise falls into the same category, really. One of the lecturers said that exercising was like taking an “anti-depression” medication – and that resonated with me.

Social-emotional learning was a topic I found really interesting from a sociological perspective. One lecturer stated that impulse control would be a primary concern of the 21st century. It’s frightening to think that today’s youth spend the vast majority with digital entertainment to such an extent that they lose the ability to navigate through society. Another tremendous take-away from this class is knowing when to disengage from the media. I caught myself spending an alarming amount of time scrolling though memes that were utterly meaningless (many of them are). This ties back to being your own best advocate – you have to be introspective and notice how something (ie media) is making you feel – mindfulness! Only once you identify the cause of a problem can you address how to enact change!

Insights from this class will undoubtedly stay with me for the rest of my life. The changes that I’ve already started to make are – for the most part – improvements in areas that I was already pretty OK in. For example, I was already good about not being absorbed in my phone when I’m around other people, but now I’m even more cognisant of it. I need to adopt a healthier diet; I’ve dabbled in veganism over the years, and I’m realizing that it’s something I want to work towards again. I think graduating college may be a kind of coming-of-age story for me (and likely for many of my classmates as well). There’s a saying, “it’s not alcoholism until you graduate.” I expect that post-graduation life will be a lot less stressful (I’ve taken a job that isn’t very rigorous). I look forward to having a healthier diet and overall lifestyle after graduation. Reasons for this are focused around longevity and living a healthy life.

I think I will create some sort of board or pictogram to keep track of adhering to lifestyle changes. Otherwise, I’ve found that it’s easy to slip back into old habits. Another thing that will be difficult but rewarding is to cut toxic people out of my life. After I graduate I am moving to a new [very small] town where I know no one; I think it will behoove me to be rid of some of my former associates.

I probably will not share many of my insights from this class on social media. For starters, I don’t like to share personal things online. But I also find that people are reluctant to listen. Again – you’re your own best advocate. People who aren’t ready to make changes for themselves don’t like to hear other’s raving about their positive experiences. I have changed some of the content I share – For example, I recently discovered/shared from the ‘Wholesome Memes’ facebook page.

However, I will definitely share insights from this class with my friends in-person or in private messages. Sometimes when I have told a friend about this class they are immediately intrigued, “Teach me how to be happy.” It’s really common for people to feel down at times. I’m very glad I took this class because it had armed me with a defense against misery, and I will be able to spread this among my friends and acquaintances. It was amazing to learn that you are 15% more likely to be happy if you have friends that are happy. This has profound consequences! Not only is it a reason to cut unhappy/negative people out of your life immediately. But it’s also a great reason to be happy yourself! I think one of the very best ways to share insights from this class is to practice them yourself and let others catch on.

~Good vibrations~

SOH Blog Post 2 ~ Weeks 7-10

SOH Blog Post 2 ~ Weeks 7-10

Topics covered in weeks 7-10 are similar because the concepts discussed are ones that enable people to live better lives. Week 10, “Social Emotional Learning” we discussed learning that typically occurs early in life whereas “Getting to Know Yourself” was about understanding yourself later in life when habits have been established. The topics tended to be about emotional aspects of self.  

The main ways in which earlier content informed new content are by providing a conceptualization of what happiness is and how character traits are studied. An especially important topic was depression, and understanding that feeling sad isn’t the same as major depression. I believe this is was an important topic because it fosters the understanding that affect is, in part, a physiological phenomenon. Also, affluenza (learned about in week 3) plays a role in social media addiction.  

An overarching insight from the first 10 weeks of class is that awareness is paramount. Being able to tap into your thoughts and emotions is critical for self-betterment and happiness.  

This class has been very useful in helping me identify habits that I can/should change in order to live a more productive and fulfilled life. Besides reducing social media use, I have not enacted any changes to my daily routine. I intend to do so after college once life’s pace has slowed. I plan to start being more physically active again and cut down on alcohol consumption. This decision was informed by the speaker who explained that substance use can further impulsive tendencies.  

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”
– George Bernard Shaw

The photo I choose is meant to represent awareness. I like the image because it has crops in the background and I think a healthy diet is a key to happiness. Also I think it’s symbolic that the person is holding something near their chest as if it’s important to them.

Blog #1

Blog #1

The topics of the first four weeks relate to each other in their common purpose to achieve course learning objectives. Readings and lecture material complimented one another in order to instill  fundamental working knowledge of the factors related to behavioral and emotional heath and how they contribute to overall wellbeing and mental health.

I found it disappointing (yet not all-together surprising) that “positive psychology” is not a more prominent pillar of psychology research. Before transferring VCU I had all the requirements for a minor in psychology from a small liberal arts school. I’ve taken classes such as “cognitive psychology,” “biological basis of behavior,” “health psychology,” and “evolutionary psychology.” Yet, I had never heard of the Keyes’ model of complete mental health. I did not know, for example, that mental illness and mental health exist as separate entities. My understanding of happiness evolved when I came to realize that mental health is not merely the absence of mental illness.

The material I found most interesting was the lecture on translational science. I have perviously considered making a career of science writing (science journalism) because I think a major shortcoming of the scientific community is the failure to disseminate research findings in a meaningful way. COBE, The Well, and library services all VCU resources that strive to improve students’ performance by integrating health perspectives/knowledge. I think it’s critical that society begins to recognize that mental disorders, such as major depression, are physiological phenomenons similar to diseases.

Adolescence is the age at which many genetic predispositions  most commonly emerge. I’m glad to be taking this course as a (super)senior because you can be retrospective of the undergraduate journey and reflect on my personal growth during this period. With age and counseling, I’ve become able to to better cope with/understand my mood states over the years. I’m eager to improve my well-being through the concepts we’re learning in this course..

I commented on the posts of Kyla Claiborne and Mosbysc.