Organ Donation: Living & Saving Lives

By Kimberly Baldwin | MAEd Student, UAB Community Health & Human Services

There are over 100,000 people waiting to receive a life-saving organ transplant.  Another person is added to the national waiting list every 10 minutes. A single organ donor can save 8 lives, and impact over 75 through bone and tissue donation.  Those waiting for a kidney transplant make up the vast majority of the national transplant waiting list, and experience the longest wait times due to the shortage of available organs for transplant.

Unlike those waiting for other organ transplants, kidney and liver transplant candidates can receive a life-saving organ one of two ways: from a deceased donor or from a living donor.  Through living donation, a healthy person can donate a portion of their liver or one of their kidneys to someone in need, and continue to live a normal, healthy life.

About 600,000 people in the United States live with kidney failure, and require dialysis treatments to remove waste from the body.  Hypertension and Diabetes disproportionately affect those living in the South, and contribute to a host of chronic disease processes including chronic kidney disease (and ultimately, kidney failure).  Alabama has some of the longest kidney transplant wait times in the nation, where 18% of those listed will have to wait more than 5 years for a kidney transplant (OPTN 2022).  Receiving a kidney directly from a healthy living donor can drastically reduce this wait time, as a living donor can be evaluated and cleared for donation in as little as 4 weeks (National Kidney Registry 2019).  According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS 2022), kidneys from living donors function better and last longer.  A kidney from a living donor will function for an average of 15-20 years, compared with a kidney from a deceased donor which will function an average of 10-15 years.  Increased awareness about living kidney donation can positively impact the number of those willing to donate, thereby improving the lives of those in need of a kidney transplant.

A living kidney donor must be:

  • Over the age of 18
  • Mentally and physically healthy

Living donors go through a thorough evaluation to determine if they are healthy enough to donate their kidney.   Once approved, the surgery is scheduled, and both donor and recipient are admitted to the hospital.  The average hospital stay for living donors is only 2-3 days, and most donors return to regular physical activity within 4-6 weeks. 

Donors are often willing to help, but are concerned about their own health, job security, and finances during recovery.  In order to alleviate these concerns and to increase the pool of living donors, many private organizations, states, municipalities, and the federal government offer their employees paid leave benefits for living organ donation and bone marrow donation (American Transplant Foundation 2020).  The cost for the transplant surgery is covered by the recipient’s insurance company; however, donation-related expenses extend beyond the surgery itself.  The National Living Donor Assistance Center (NLDAC 2021) can help donors cover travel expenses, lodging, lost wages, and dependent care expenses.  Increased awareness about living kidney donation can help to bridge the gap between those waiting and those willing to give.

Frequently Asked Questions about living donation:

Will donating a kidney shorten my lifespan?

Donors tend to live a longer life because they are even more health-conscious post-donation, and hence have a better quality of life.

Should I follow a special diet following donation?

A kidney donor should eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, but there are no dietary restrictions following donation.

Will I still be able to exercise and participate in sports?

A kidney donor should be able to return to regular activities and exercise about 4-6 weeks after surgery.

After I donate a kidney, will I have to take medications for the rest of my life?

A kidney donor will be given prescriptions for pain medication and stool softeners at discharge from the hospital, which are only for use during the immediate post-operative period (1-2 weeks).  After that time, a donor does not have to take medication.   A kidney donor does not have to take anti-rejection medications (National Kidney Register, 2019).

References

National Living Donor Assistance Center. 2021. How NLDAC Helps. Retrieved from:  https://www.livingdonorassistance.org/How-to-Apply/How-NLDAC-Helps

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). 2022. Living Donation. Retrieved from:  https://unos.org/transplant/living-donation/

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 2022. Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN). Retrieved from:  https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/data/view-data-reports/state-data/

American Transplant Foundation. 2020. Living Donor Laws: State by State and Federal. Retrieved from: https://www.americantransplantfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Living_Donor_Laws_Federal_And_State_By_State.pdf

National Kidney Register. 2019. Get The Facts About Kidney Donation. Retrieved from:  https://www.kidneyregistry.org/for-donors/i-want-to-learn-more-about-living-kidney-donation/kidney-donation-facts/ National Kidney Register. 2019. Am I Qualified to Donate a Kidney? Retrieved from:  https://www.kidneyregistry.org/for-donors/am-i-qualified-to-donate-a-kidney/


Reducing Stroke Risk in the South

By Tyler Cook | MAEd Student, UAB Community Health & Human Services

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Stroke is also preventable and treatable. Being intentional about your daily activities can minimize or increase your risk of having a stroke. Knowing your family’s health history and engaging in health promoting activities are some of the few approaches to minimize your chances of having a stroke. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The brain controls our movements, stores, our memories, and is the source of our thoughts, emotions, and language. The brain also controls many functions of the body, like breathing and digestion (CDC, 2022). It is important to keep our brain and body healthy in order to reduce our risk for stroke.

A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when something blocks blood supply to a part of the brain or happens when a brain’s blood vessel bursts (CDC, 2022). The leading cause of strokes are high blood pressure, followed by high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and sickle cell disease. These conditions are commonly found in
individuals within the southern regions of the United States and is the main reason why stroke risk high in the South. According to the CDC (2022), “People with a family history of stroke are also likely to share common environments and other potential factors that increase their risk. The chances for stroke can increase even more when heredity combines with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking cigarettes and eating an unhealthy diet.” However, if those lifestyle
choices are poor choices, it can increase the chances of having a stroke. Those lifestyle choices including eating high in fat foods, lack of physical activity, alcoholism, and constant use of tobacco products.

Not only do unhealthy lifestyle choices contribute to stroke risk, but risk is also greater with older age, male sex, and certain racial/ethnic minority groups (i.e., African Americans, Latino Americans). Another major contributor to stroke risk is stress. Constant and increased stress can raise blood pressure and thusly increase risk for stroke. For these reasons, consider the following healthier lifestyle practices below and let’s lower our risk of stroke in the South.

Health Tips from the CDC:

  • Eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol.
  • Limit salt (sodium) intake
  • Keep a healthy weight in consultation with your doctor
  • Be physically active, getting at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, such as a brisk walk, each week.
  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day for men, 1 per day for women.
  • Manage your medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease in consultation with your doctor.
  • Work with your health care team, including health coach, pastor/spiritual advisor, counselor, etc.
  • Let’s support our family, friends and neighbors in the adoption of the health tips above

College Students: Why does Sleep Matter?

By Alliemarie Humphries | PhD Student, UAB Community Health & Human Services

Did you know college students are more susceptible to poor sleep hygiene and sleep quality? Over the last decade, studies have found that college students reported having poor sleep and poor sleep behaviors (Kloss et al., 2015; ACHA, 2020; Gipson et al, 2019). Getting a good night’s rest can improve your cognitive performance and capabilities, your mood, and overall health. The cited health risks include potentially developing a sleeping disorder, low sleep hygiene and practices can lead to a myriad of both long and short term adverse health outcomes.  Health ailments include: high blood pressure, depression, and obesity have been linked to poor sleep quality and quantity.  In extreme cases, individuals can be fatally injured while driving if they are experience poor sleep. An annual report by the Traffic National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that more than 697 accidents are as a result of falling asleep behind the wheel that resulted in fatal injuries (2020). This is an issue that places the individual driving and members of the community at risk.

It is recommended that adults receive 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night (CDC, 2017). To compare, young adults are recommended to receive 8 to 10 hours and infants are recommended to receive up to 16 hours of sleep nightly (CDC,2017).  A growing need to review the lifestyles and behaviors in the college context is necessary, especially regarding how students perceive their own wellness as a means of sacrificing healthy behaviors to achieve academic goals. The past 20 year of scientific literature explains that college students experience higher rates of poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation (Hicks et al., 2001). So which is more important, quality or quantity of sleep. Neither, they are both important. As college students, there are already numerous factors that must be balanced to ensure success towards graduation. How could one possibly add another item to the already many demands of college life? Remember, college is a period in your life, but sleep is a part of your whole life and is thusly important to your quality of life.

Sleep hygiene is a combination of an individual’s sleep quality and sleep habits. The regular maintenance of routine and consistency are found at the rudimentary comprehension of sleep (NHLBI, 2009). To improve this area of your health, specifically your relationship and perceptions towards your sleep, it’s helpful to consider what your current sleep hygiene routine and behaviors look like. To do this using a sleep journal can help to navigate what your behaviors are throughout the day and their influence on your sleep schedule and ultimately the quality of sleep. Additionally, some tips are below in support of sleep wellness.

For a healthier sleep, avoid:
– Avoid exercising within a 3-hour window of when you plan to go to bed
– Avoid eating heavy meals before bed
– Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and over the counter stimulants
– Do not use screens or other digital items with blue light before bed
– Avoid stimulating activities before bed
– Avoid drinking caffeine 8 to 10 hours prior to going to sleep

For healthier sleep, try:
– Daily physical activity (more than 3 hours before your bedtime)
– Implement a sleep schedule; going to bed and waking up at the same time each day
– Embrace a cat nap; keep your naps between 15 and 20 minutes
– Keep your sleeping environment clean and calming space
– Only use your bed for sleep and sex; avoid doing homework from your bed
– If you like to read before bed, read in a different space than your bed

If you have trouble sleeping, try:
– If you are unable to fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and engage in a light activity until you feel sleep once again
– Breathing techniques, such as meditation or light yoga stretches
– Journaling

References
American College Health Association (ACHA). (2020, May). The Healthy Campus Framework. Healthy Campus. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from https://www.acha.org/healthycampus 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, March 2). How Much Sleep Do I Need? Retrieved March 25, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html

George, D., Dixon, S., Stansal, E., Gelb, S. L., & Pheri, T. (2008). Time Diary and questionnaire assessment of factors associated with academic and personal success among University undergraduates. Journal of American College Health56(6), 706–715. https://doi.org/10.3200/jach.56.6.706-715

Gipson, C. S., Chilton, J. M., Dickerson, S. S., Alfred, D., & Haas, B. K. (2018). Effects of a sleep hygiene text message intervention on sleep in college students. Journal of American College Health67(1), 32–41. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2018.1462816 

Kloss, J. D., Nash, C. O., Walsh, C. M., Culnan, E., Horsey, S., & Sexton-Radek, K. (2015). A “sleep 101” program for college students improves sleep hygiene knowledge and reduces maladaptive beliefs about sleep. Behavioral Medicine42(1), 48–56. https://doi.org/10.1080/08964289.2014.969186 

Hanson, J. A., & Huecker, M. R. (2021). Sleep Deprivation. StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547676/

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). (2009, August). At-A-Glance: Healthy Sleep. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/ 

National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2020, December). Overview of motor vehicle crashes in 2019. (Traffic Safety Facts Research Note. Report No. DOT HS 813 060). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


We Believe You: The Harsh Realities of Sexual Violence

By Lacey George | MAEd Student, UAB Community Health & Human Services

Photo by Duanu00e9 Viljoen on Pexels.com

Conversations surrounding the controversial topic of sexual violence, and its effects on survivors, their loved ones, and our society, have been increasing over time. In light of the
#METOO movement, sexual abuse, assault, and violence survivors are finally given a voice to tell their story, sometimes years later. Because of this, we are finally confronting the
realities of what those brave women, men, and children have endured.

Sexual Violence is too Common

  • Each year, sexual assaults occur in approximately 463,634 Americans, which is roughly 1 every 68 seconds.
  • More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence, including physical contact in their lifetimes.

Sexual Violence Starts Early:

  • 1 in 3 females will experience rape between the ages of 11-17 years of age, and 1 in 8 experience it before the age of 10.

The effects of sexual violence are long-lasting and far-reaching. Sexual violence negatively affects the survivor’s quality of life, psychological wellbeing, and social opportunities, such as dating and social isolation. Sexual violence intersects with many chronic health problems, such as sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, depression, and sexual health problems. Moreover, sexual violence is linked to adverse health behaviors. For example, victims are more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, use drugs, and engage in risky sexual activities.

Stopping sexual violence before it has the chance to occur has become the primary focus of sexual violence prevention efforts. This type of prevention effort focuses on changing out-of-date beliefs and victim-blaming attitudes and framing sexual violence as a significant public health problem. To effectively prevent sexual violence, we must make the connection between all forms of oppression (including racism, homophobia, sexism, adultism, and many others) and how oppression has created a culture in which inequality thrives, and violence is seen as the norm.

Actions to Prevent Sexual Violence:

  • Promoting social norms that protect against sexual violence encourages men and boys to be allies for others.
  • Teaching skills that can prevent sexual violence, such as teaching safe-dating and intimate relationships skills, promoting healthy sexuality, and teaching healthy coping mechanisms to adolescents.
  • Creating protecting environments, such as improving safety and monitoring in schools, community centers, and workplaces.

Alabama & Local Resources for Support:

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Prevention strategies. Retrieved on February 2, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/prevention.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.) Sexual Violence. Retrieved on February 2, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/index.html

Cherniavsky, E. (2019). Keyword 1: #MeToo. Differences, 30(1), 15–23. https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-7481176

Jaffe, S. (2018). The collective power of #MeToo. Dissent, 65(2), 80-87. https://doi.org/10.1353/dss.2018.0031

Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network. (2020). About sexual assault. Retrieved on January 29, 2021, from https://rainn.org/about-sexual-assault

Smith SG, Zhang X, Basile KC, Merrick MT, Wang J, Kresnow M, & Chen J. (2018). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2015 Data Brief— Updated Release. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on January 28, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/2015data-brief508.pdf


Balancing Me When Stressed to Be a Better Mom

By Khalia Wilkinson, M.Ed.

Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels.com

Are you an over-extended mom who has not felt like herself lately? Maybe getting out of bed and getting moving in the morning has become difficult. Maybe you have begun stress-eating or you find yourself eating and drinking more and more of the unhealthy foods and beverages that do not refuel your body. If this is you, let’s work to understand what may be going on.

Multiple factors may be at the root of having low energy and/or feelings of stress and anxiety. In order to recognize these causes, let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

  • What is the real cause(s) of the stresses I am experiencing?
  • How do I hit the pause button in order to positively cope and regain self-control?
  • What can I implement today to take a step towards a healthier me?
  • Who are the trusted friends and/or resources that can support, encourage, and comfort me?
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

So what might this process look like?

Exploring the real causes of stress and then hitting the reset button may not be as easy as it sounds. Doing so requires focus and intentionality! If you are finding it difficult to process through your challenges and reset on your own, consider finding a positive and healthy accountability partner, mentor, or professional counselor. You may also consider journaling to get your thoughts and feelings out on paper where you can see them. Examine your journal over the next 30 days to find patterns in your thought processes, especially those that may trigger certain poor behaviors. Finally, know that you are not alone. Many of moms experience times of stress and frustration, but be encouraged but this season of stress will become a moment in the past.

Being Mom…

As you work through your processes…you are continuing to be a good mom. No one is perfect…No one! Continue to love your children; help your children to live life to the fullest; support your children; provide food; provide shelter; make time to have fun with your kids; and be a good model for your children. Of course, this is not exhaustive a list…but it sure is what we do as moms! You are great…you are a mom!


A Body Image Testament

By Flora Johnson, M.Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Alumni

Lizzo performs during The BRIT Awards 2020 at The O2 Arena on February 18, 2020 in London, England
Photograph by Samir Hussein/WireImage

“No matter how much positive energy you put into the world, you’re still gonna have people who have something mean to say about you.”

– Melissa Viviane Jefferson (Lizzo), Grammy Award Winning American Singer

What is Body Image?

The way people perceive and feel their physical selves is called body image. Men, women, and all peoples have concerns about their body image. Their weight, the shape or size of a body part, skin, or hair is often zeroed in, bashed, and picked apart. The fashion industry is a major contributor to widespread unhealthy body image through the careful selection of underweight models to display their products, but our peers, the media, and even family members all influence body image. This often promotes destructive feelings of inadequacy.

Body Acceptance Journey

Melissa Viviane Jefferson – known professionally as Lizzo – is an American music artist celebrated for her vocals, savvy personality, and positive body image. She attacks the world with explosive performances and lyrics. The singer shows the world how much she adores herself through outspoken music- inspiring others to accept, love, and protect their own bodies.

Following the release of her new single and a step back into the public limelight, Lizzo had an Instagram honest moment that addressed negative body image comments.

“On the days I feel I should be the happiest, I feel so down,” Lizzo told fans while sitting in her bathroom wearing a wig cap dabbing her eyes. “Like, I hurt so hard.” The Grammy winner revealed she feels unappreciated for working “quadruple” the time. “Sometimes I feel like the world just don’t love me back,” she sobbed.

Positive and Negative Body Image

Everyone struggles with body image. Having a positive body image is understanding that the value of self-worth is not dependent on appearance. It is a positive energy accepting and appreciating a stable body appearance. If a person is satisfied with their image, they flaunt it – unapologetically.

And for the most part it doesn’t hurt my feelings; I don’t care!

Lizzo

Unsatisfaction with one’s appearance is called negative body image. People may compare themselves with others, feel ashamed about parts of their bodies, lack confidence, or feeling uncomfortable in their own body.

Improving Body Image

Learning to love your body is a journey. A balanced lifestyle that incorporates healthier attitudes, food, exercises, and practices is easier when you are in tune with and respond to the needs of your body.

These tips can help a person feel more positive about their body.

  • List 10 things you like about yourself
  • Practice positive self-talk. Say, “My arms are strong” or “I am beautiful.”
  • Do something nice for your body
  • Aim for a healthful lifestyle and eat a nutritious diet
  • Wear comfortable clothes that look good on you
  • Avoid comparing yourself with other people.
  • Be actively critical of media messages and images that make you feel inadequate.
  • See yourself as a whole person, and an imperfect body part.
  • Start a hobby or blog

I don’t have time for your negativity – your internalized self-hatred that you project onto me with your racism and fatphobia. I don’t have time for it. Anyways, I’m going to continue to be me. I’m going to continue to be a bad b—-.

Lizzo

You can listen to a podcast episode from Flora “Coach Flo” Johnson discussing body image here: Pillow Talk – Body Image Entanglement.

If you or someone you may know is experiencing body image or eating concerns, seek immediate help. Speak with a doctor, dependable friend, therapist, or parent about your situation.


Use this image to share the positive messaging on social media!

Sources:

Brazier, Y., & Marney, W. A. (2020, October 11). Body image: What is it, and how can I improve it? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/249190.

Hussein, S. (2021, February 18). Photograph of Lizzo. WireImage.

National Eating Disorders Collaboration. (2021 March). Body Image [Fact Sheet]. Australian Government Department of Health. https://nedc.com.au/assets/Fact-Sheets/NEDC-Fact-Sheet-Body-Image.pdf.

Yang, R. (2021, August 15). Lizzo tearfully slams ‘fatphobic,’ ‘racist’ haters as cardi B and more celebs Offer Support. EW.com. https://ew.com/music/lizzo-cardi-b-haters-fatphobic-racist/.


Simone Biles

By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Original Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP

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.”


Similar articles from the Lab:

Take Care of Yourself! by Adrienne Stokes

Serena Williams by Jaelyn Copeland


Sources and Further Reading:

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 treatment12, 2807–2818. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S111543

Mental health by the numbers. NAMI. (n.d.). https://nami.org/mhstats.

Ramsay, G., & Sinnott, J. (2021, July 27). Simone Biles withdraws from women’s team gymnastics at Tokyo 2020 Olympics as ROC Wins gold. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/27/sport/simone-biles-tokyo-2020-olympics/index.html.

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

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Mental health. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/westernpacific/health-topics/mental-health.

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Mental health: Strengthening our response. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response.


Change Your Scence and Mood at Oak Mountain Park!

By Jerrica Lake, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Image credit clockwise from left: Magda Ehlers, PNW Production, Oak Mountain State Park

Did you know Alabama’s largest state park can be found just outside its largest city? 

Nature and Activities 

Mountain biking and hiking are two of the park’s most popular activities, but there are plenty more activities to feed your interest! 

  • Lakeside beach with swimming 
  • Watersports cable skiing 
  • Boat rentals 
  • Fishing 
  • Picnic area 
  • Golfing (with a full 18-hole course and driving range) 
  • Mountain biking (with a pump track and BMX course) 
  • Basketball courts 

Camping and Cabins 

Summer camping is hallmark of the season and Oak Mountain has the perfect spots, but if that is not your speed, try the cabins! For guests, Oak Mountains’ lake cabins are a place of peace and tranquility! The cabin grounds are found around Lake Tranquility; a 28-acre lake tucked away in the foothills of the mountain. Oak Mountain State Park offers ten fully equipped cabins that are open year-round, each with two bedrooms and one bath.   

Education and Learning 

Life science and avian rehabilitation are key components of the park. The Alabama Wildlife Center provides rehabilitation services to injured birds every year to return them to the wild.  Birds can be seen from the Tree Top Nature Trail. The Park is also home to the Oak Mountain Interpretive Center, a 2,500 square foot interactive exhibit space and teaching laboratory. Families can enjoy nature programs (including a demonstration farm full of animals to feed and interact with) and visit the extensive equestrian center for horseback riding. 

Whether you’re interested in a peaceful getaway, an action-packed weekend, or an educational experience, Oak Mountain has you covered. 

Get active and check out your local area for parks!


Sources: 

https://www.alapark.com/parks/oak-mountain-state-park


Take Care of Yourself!

by Adrienne Stokes, M. Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Services Alumni

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

The COVID-19 pandemic may be stressful, but you can get through it. Take care of yourself and cope with the stress by addressing your physical, emotional, and mental health.

Take care of your Physical Health through

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Regular physical activity
  • Plenty of good sleep
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol and drug use

Take care of your Emotional Health through

  • Connecting with others
  • Taking a break (unwinding)
  • Staying informed (but avoiding too much exposure to news)
  • Seeking help when you need it

Take care of your Mental Mealth through

  • Meditation
  • Connecting with your faith-based organization
  • Continuing with your treatment and staying aware of new or worsening symptoms
  • Calling for help if needed

Black Mental Health Resources

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255

• TC Counseling & Consulting (205) 377-5537

• Allworld Counseling & Consulting (205) 583-0237

• Strive Counseling Services (205) 721-9893

• Black Mental Health Alliance (410) 338-2642

• National Crisis Hotline (800) 273-8255

• The Crisis Center – Birmingham (205) 323-7777


ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP? TEST YOURSELF AND TRY THESE TIPS

by Adrienne Stokes, M. Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Services Alumni

Photo by William Fortunato on Pexels.com

A good night’s sleep should not be taken for granted. Not getting enough sleep is linked to increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, and depression. Exhaustion can also lead to vehicular accidents and mistakes at work.

Sufficient sleep is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. It is recommended that most adults sleep 7-9 hours each night for optimal health. It is also important that your regular sleep is of good quality, so you feel rested when you wake.

Getting enough sleeps means less sickness, a healthy weight, lower health risks for serious health conditions, reduced stress, improved mood, clearer thinking, and better decision making.

Talk to your doctor if you often have trouble sleeping or still feel tired after sleeping as these are symptoms of a possible sleep disorder.


Good Sleep Habits

  • Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, even on the weekends
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature
  • Remove electronic devices from the bedroom (i.e. TVs, computers, cell-phones)
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
  • Enjoy some physical activity before bedtime

Are you getting enough sleep?

Take the Sleep Hygiene Index below to see if you are getting enough sleep. Answer the following thirteen (13) questions. If after adding your total below, your score is 7 and above, consider trying the good sleep habits above.

  1. I take daytime naps lasting 2 or more hours (Yes or No)
  2. I go to bed at different times from day to day (Yes or No)
  3. I get out of be at different times from day to day (Yes or No)
  4. I exercise to the point of sweating within 1 hour of going to bed (Yes or No)
  5. I stay in bed longer than I should 2 or 3 times a week (Yes or No)
  6. I use alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine within 4 hours of going to bed (Yes or No)
  7. I do something that may wake me up before bedtime (play video games, browse internet, clean) (Yes or No)
  8. I go to bed feeling stressed, angry, upset, or nervous (Yes or No)
  9. I use my bed for things other than sleep or sex (watching TV, reading, eating, studying) (Yes or No)
  10. I sleep on an uncomfortable bed (poor mattress or pillow, too much or not enough blankets) (Yes or No)
  11. I sleep in an uncomfortable bedroom (too bright, too stuffy, too hot, too cold, too noisy) (Yes or No)
  12. I do important work before bedtime (pay bills, study) (Yes or No)
  13. I think, plan, or worry when I am in bed (Yes or No)

Score

For every Yes add 1 point, for every No add 0 points. Add up your totals.

0-3 Very Good

4-6 Good

7-9 Poor

10-13 Very Poor

(Sleep Hygiene Index Adapted from Mastin, Bryson & Corwyn, 2006)


Please check out the sources below to learn more about the practicing good sleep habits. Please also share your thoughts about sleep and sleep hygiene in the comments section of this post or via our page on Facebook @WilkinsonWellnessLab.

Resources and Further Reading

https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/everyday-healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep#panel-4

https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/index.html