By LaTangellia Walker | Community Health and Human Services Intern
Shame is a painful, self-critical emotion; A feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. When we feel shame, it is common to think of ourselves in a negative light. We begin to think that we are ugly, incompetent, or stupid (The psychology of shame, 2023). The moment we begin having these thoughts, we separate our true selves with an ideal image of who we aspire to be. Our ideal image is usually represented by a strong figure, not someone who drowns themselves in self-pity.
Shame is associated with many mental health disorders. The most common mental health disorder that shame is correlated with is suicide, which is often seen as a motive for suicidal behavior. In 2021, 47,646 people died by suicide (CDC, 2022). Suicide rates have been skyrocketing for years and there is evidence that social factors such as loniless, financial ruin and shame are more direct causes of this dramatic increase.
The most common questions we are asked in the United States are “What do you do?” or “Are you seeing anyone?” or “When are you going to have kids?” Oftentimes, when we are being asked these questions, we judge ourselves before anyone else gets a chance to. But what would happen if we let others judge us without judging ourselves? When we leave this world, we aren’t going to care what people say about us.
So how can we learn let go of our shamefulness?
Admit when you feel shame and explore why.
Talk to someone you trust about what you are feeling.
Find compassion for yourself.
Remember that your opinion of yourself matters the most!
By Terrie Johnson | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern
Photo by Cottonbro Studio on Pexels.com
Plants are essential in relieving stress due to their mood-boosting properties. They provide a positive experience beneficial to a person’s mental and physical inclinations (Gu et al., 2022). The 4 most common plants that are known to reduce stress are Lavender, Jasmine, Lemon balm and Rosemary.
Lavender is one of the plants that help reduce stress. It contains a rich fragrance that boosts an individual’s mood once inhaled. Lavender’s floral smell is stipulated to have a calming effect, which decreases the experience of stress (Thrive, 2023). Consequently, it can be planted in one’s green space to help create positive moods.
Jasmine is also a stress-relieving plant because of its fragrant flowers. Even though it is identified as a shrub, it gives rise to flowers that release a pleasant smell (Thrive, 2023). Thus, when the fragrance is inhaled, an individual experiences a positive mood. This feeling reduces stress and increases contentment with the surrounding (Gu et al., 2022). Jasmine flowers are also colorful, which makes them visually therapeutic. Thus, they help to advance emotional and mental relaxation that reduces stress.
Lemon balm is recognized as one of the plants with positive effects on stress reduction. When used as an herb, its leaves release tantalizing flavors with calming effects (Thrive, 2023). The relaxing properties advance the mitigation of stress and its related issues. Lemon balm also has purple flowers that appear during summer. Their relevance is the provision of visual relaxation, which combats stress. Therefore, the use of this plant would reduce the condition.
Rosemary is a plant that can be used to trigger benefits that limit the experience of anxiety. In the green space, it transforms the atmosphere with its scent. Since it belongs to the mint family, it releases a fresh fragrance (Thrive, 2023). The resultant smell has positive psychological impacts. For example, when inhaled, the fragrance calms the body. It also energizes the mind, which shifts one’s thoughts from stress. Therefore, it is a meaningful plant that would advance the experience of positive outcomes.
Gu, J., Liu, H., & Lu, H. (2022). Can even a small amount of greenery be helpful in reducing stress? A systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(16), 9778. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19169778
Relieving stress is part of instigating one’s well-being. Today, varied approaches can be applied to limit the experience of the condition. For example, wearable smart devices can be used to monitor one’s involvement in physical activities (Can et al., 2020). They can then provide data that guide changes in an individual’s exercise routine. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also an instrumental approach that advances stress reduction. This intervention provides perspectives concerning the situation that a patient experiences. It can also enable one to regain control and reduce the intense feeling of stress. Thus, the above approaches would relieve an individual from the condition.
Stress can also be managed through the application of biofeedback. This technique involves an individual learning how to control their body’s functions. Since one is connected to electric sensors, information is relayed about body functions (Can et al., 2020). Thus, an individual can make decisions to control functions such as the heart rate. This facilitation provides leverage to mitigate the experience of stress. Additionally, breathing exercises can be used to reduce the condition by relaxing muscles (Can et al., 2020). The application of this intervention allows one to feel comfortable. Therefore, it relieves one from stress, which improves life’s quality.
Other techniques that promote positive outcomes are relaxation approaches and guided therapies. These interventions advance the provision of a desired environment that support stress reduction. The use of relaxation approaches helps mitigate the experience of anxiety or emotional reaction to difficult situations. As such, they allow the affected person to handle issues that lead to stress. Guided therapies also work toward the alleviation of the condition. They work by encouraging an individual to conceptualize situations that lead to stress. Thus, the affected person develops knowledge of the best practices that reduce the condition. The adoption of the above interventions would help relieve the experience of stress.
Can, Y. S., Iles-Smith, H., Chalabianloo, N., Ekiz, D., Fernández-Álvarez, J., Repetto, C., Riva, G., & Ersoy, C. (2020). How to relax in stressful situations: A smart stress reduction system. Healthcare, 8(2), 100. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare8020100
By Jaelyn Copeland | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern
Depressed and Anxiety are fairly common mental health issues among individuals across the world. According to the CDC, depression occurs when a sad mood lasts for a long time, and interferes with normal, everyday functioning (CDC, 2022). Symptoms of Depression include:
Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time
Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun
Feeling irritable‚ easily frustrated‚ or restless
Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
Waking up too early or sleeping too much
Eating more or less than usual or having no appetite
Experiencing aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment
Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
Feeling tired‚ even after sleeping well
Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself
Fortunately there are existing supplements that can help treat symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha is part of an evergreen plant that grows in both Asia and Africa. The plant is known to have health benefits when ingested as teas, powders, tinctures and supplements, or in raw form (Chandrasekhar et al., 2012). Ashwagandha is a classic example of a adaptogen, a plant or mushroom used for a variety of stress-related ailments such as anxiety, sleeplessness, aging and well-being. Ashwagandha also aids the body’s ability to withstand both physical and mental stress (Kumar et al., 2021).
Here are 7 benefits of using Ashwaganda:
Relieves stress and anxiety
Lowers blood sugar and fat
Increases muscular strength
Improves sexual function in women
Boosts fertility and testosterone levels in men
Sharpens focus and memory
Supports heart health
Ashwagandha is usually consumed by using supplement capsules or in tablet, powder, tincture and tea form (Forbes, 2023). For more creativity, you can add the raw form of Ashwagandha into nut butters, granola, smoothies and overnight oats with low exposure to high heat. Have you tried Ashwagandha? What has been your experience? Feel free to leave a comment and join us on Facebook.
Kumar S, Bouic PJ, Rosenkranz B. Investigation of CYP2B6, 3A4 and ß-esterase interactions of Withania somnifera (L.) dunal in human liver microsomes and HepG2 cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 2021;270:113766.
Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 34(3), 255–262. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.106022.
By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
Simone Biles is an American gymnast with a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals. She is widely regarded by many as the greatest gymnast of our generation. Biles was the favorite to win multiple individual and team events in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but shocked the public when it was announced on July 27th that she would be pulling out of the final team competition for undisclosed health reasons. The following day, she pulled out of the rest of her planned events and gave further explanation: She’d been struggling with the immense pressure that comes with her position and could not compete due to physical and mental health issues. With Biles out of the competition, America’s chances of sweeping the gold for Olympic gymnastics all but vanished. This announcement was met with reactions of anger, outrage, betrayal, sympathy, and support. Why the mixed response?
If Biles had broken a bone or torn a ligament that rendered her unable to compete, the American public may have universally replied with kindness and empathy, viewing it as a tragedy. But because Biles’ reasons were partially mental, the feedback was not at all kind. Why such anger? The answer lies in our complicated and at times antagonistic relationship with mental health.
The World Health Organization describes mental health as “the foundation for the well-being and effective functioning of individuals.” According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 American adults have a mental illness, but less than half of those will receive treatment. This is likely due to the great stigma associated with mental health treatment and the common perception that seeking help is a last resort. As a result, the average delay between onset of symptoms and treatment is 11 years.
This is not at all how we treat physical issues, where prevention and prompt treatment are the norm. There is pressure to keep issues related to mental health invisible. Tough it out. This is especially a common thought among the athletic community.
The whole situation reminded me of a conversation I had about a month ago with Susan Chambers, a friend of mine who competes nationally in powerlifting. She was struggling with her own stubbornness in knowing when to quit and call it a day. When she’s tired and can’t focus, she’s at risk for serious injury which has happened to her in the past. On this day, she asked herself aloud, “Are you actually worried that will happen or are you being lazy and looking for an excuse? What’s the line between self-destructive and dedicated?”
I responded: “Guilt and shame.” If you’re pushing yourself because you feel inspired, all is good, but if guilt, shame, or fear of failure is motivating you, that’s bad. That’s when you risk seriously hurting yourself, mentally and physically.
Sue was silent for a moment, then said, “You win this round of self-care.”
Simone Biles is a gifted athlete who inspires many and will for years to come. She has the grit and determination to become a champion and the deep maturity to know herself and her limits. No matter the full circumstances, Simon Biles does not owe us further details or explanations. She does not need to justify her decision or apologize for the disappointment it caused, because she owes us nothing. She may be our pride and joy, but she belongs only to herself.
I reached out to Sue again for her thoughts on Simone Biles and the public response. She had this to say:
“Knowing your limits and prioritizing your health and well-being is laudable. Simone Biles is a world class athlete under an incomprehensible amount of scrutiny from the public. For her to advocate for herself and her needs was extraordinarily brave. We need more role models like her, who will demonstrate self-compassion as something more valuable than competition. I guess the short form is: She is a champion, and championing her own well-being proves it.”
Chambers, S. (2021, June 29). Personal communication [online chat].
Chambers, S. (2021, July 29). Personal communication [online chat].
Choudhry, F. R., Mani, V., Ming, L. C., & Khan, T. M. (2016). Beliefs and perception about mental health issues: a meta-synthesis. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 12, 2807–2818. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S111543
Riedel, C. (10 August 2019). Photograph of Simone Biles at US Championships. Associated Press.
@USAGym. “After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition. We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.” Twitter, 28 Jul. 2021, 1:14 a.m., twitter.com/USAGym/status/1420266286441922562