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?
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.
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!
By Flora Johnson, M.Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Alumni
“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!
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—-.
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
By Jerrica Lake, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
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
Golfing (with a full 18-hole course and driving range)
Mountain biking (with a pump track and BMX course)
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!
by Adrienne Stokes, M. Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Services Alumni
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.
I take daytime naps lasting 2 or more hours (Yes or No)
I go to bed at different times from day to day (Yes or No)
I get out of be at different times from day to day (Yes or No)
I exercise to the point of sweating within 1 hour of going to bed (Yes or No)
I stay in bed longer than I should 2 or 3 times a week (Yes or No)
I use alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine within 4 hours of going to bed (Yes or No)
I do something that may wake me up before bedtime (play video games, browse internet, clean) (Yes or No)
I go to bed feeling stressed, angry, upset, or nervous (Yes or No)
I use my bed for things other than sleep or sex (watching TV, reading, eating, studying) (Yes or No)
I sleep on an uncomfortable bed (poor mattress or pillow, too much or not enough blankets) (Yes or No)
I sleep in an uncomfortable bedroom (too bright, too stuffy, too hot, too cold, too noisy) (Yes or No)
I do important work before bedtime (pay bills, study) (Yes or No)
I think, plan, or worry when I am in bed (Yes or No)
For every Yes add 1 point, for every No add 0 points. Add up your totals.
0-3 Very Good
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.
By Jerrica Lake, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
Looking for a safe place to get a dose of sunshine this summer? Try Railroad Park, located in the heart of Birmingham and situated along 1st Avenue South between 14th and 18th Streets. The park is open 7 a.m.-11 p.m. daily with around-the-clock rangers on patrol and 24-hour security system surveillance. Free parking is available along the outer perimeters of the park along 1st Avenue South.
Get Active in the Park!
Featuring 19 acres of green space, including 9 acres of open lawn, Railroad Park is the ideal place to have a picnic, go for a jog, or play frisbee with peers or pets. There are onsite restrooms, water fountains, and a café with a delicious menu, so feel free to make a day of it!
Railroad Park is abundant with greenery and water features, with ponds, streams, an eye-catching lake, and a stunning rain curtain feature. More than 600 trees have been planted for shade and the abundance of flowers make the park a luxurious landscape for the senses.
There is large outdoor gym area inspired by Muscle Beach in California. For kids, the park offers two playgrounds and a climbing dome. For skaters, there is a designated skate zone with three skate bowls available. For an adult looking to get active, it offers a variety of walking trails including
The Magic City Loop (3/4 mile)
Rail Trail (1/3 mile)
Powell Avenue Promenade (1/3 mile)
Limestone Trace (1/2 mile)
With sweeping lawns, picturesque streams and the beautiful Birmingham skyline framing it all, Railroad Park a prime spot for relaxing and connecting with nature within our urban jungle.
By Shayna Bryan (UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern) with contributions from Dr. Larrell L. Wilkinson
On Thursday, June 17th (2021), the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was signed into law, making this year’s observation of Juneteenth, the first observation of the new federal holiday. On Friday, the 18th, Dr. Larrell Wilkinson had the opportunity to speak to a diverse group of college sophomores and juniors about aging research within the fields of community health and human services. During his talk, Dr. Wilkinson spoke about the day’s federal observance of “Juneteenth” which is traditionally celebrated on June 19th in celebration of the day in 1865 when enslaved African-Americans were informed of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. Dr. Wilkinson shared with the young diverse scholars his hope for the Juneteenth commemoration to help foster “understanding given diverse racial experiences among Americans, which could support racial healing and reconciliation among Americans, and lead to greater solidarity within our country.” He ended by saying that “we have to do the work…Americans can overcome challenges when working together and tackling the issues.”
Juneteenth is about celebrating the end of chattel slavery in the US as well as African American history, culture, and progress. But make no mistake, this is an American celebration for everyone because it marks a turning point in our nation’s history that is painful to remember but essential to understand for our future. Slavery was a terrible human and economic institution that has bathed our country’s history in blood and conflict. In our present day and into the future we have opportunities to reduce the instances of racial violence and prejudice and heal the hurts from our many past circumstances of injustice. Keeping systems of segregation, discrimination, and oppression due to the social construct of race in order to preserve power, resources, or wealth for a select racial category is un-American and will not lead to the forming of a “more perfect union.”
We should never forget the terrible atrocities conducted under the system of slavery or the harms performed during the eras of Reconstruction and Jim Crow. But we should also remember to celebrate the recovery and progress made towards racial harmony and cultural proficiency by all racial groups and work to secure the “blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” What are your thoughts? From your point of view, what is the best way(s) to improve cultural and racial harmony in the United States of America? Please feel free to leave comments below or engage with us @WilkinsonWellnessLab on Facebook.
By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
If you’ve ever spent time looking for healthy diets to follow, but wanted to avoid a highly restrictive diet (like vegan) or a commercial diet plan (like Weight Watchers), you probably have come across the Mediterranean Diet. It has been the subject of research for over 50 years and has been ranked the best overall diet by the U.S. News and World Report for four years running. The American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the World Health Organization have all endorsed the Mediterranean diet as a healthy and sustainable eating style that reduces risk for heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. The Mediterranean Diet also may assist with weight loss in obese people and is associated with lower rates of depression, cognitive decline, cancer, and all-cause mortality.
This diet has a lot of major endorsements! So then, what’s up with this diet and why is it so special?
The Mediterranean Sea is a meeting point of three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe. When health experts and researchers recommend the “Mediterranean Diet” they’re not talking about the food of just one people or one culture, but the common shared characteristics of the simple everyday meals made for centuries in this region of the world. Meals are built around plant-based foods, heavily seasoned with herbs and spice (though not tons of salt). These meals are made, shared, and enjoyed amongst a community of families and friends.
Here’s are the common characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet:
High consumption of vegetables, often raw or slightly cooked
Beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, potatoes, and unprocessed or whole grains
Olive oil as the principal source of fat
Fruit treated as a dessert
Moderate consumptions of fish, poultry, and dairy (mostly in the form of yogurt and cheese)
Low consumption of red meat
Moderate alcohol consumption, often in the form of red wine
Please check out the source below to learn more about the Mediterranean Diet. Please also share your thoughts about the Mediterranean Diet in the comments section of this post or via our page on Facebook @WilkinsonWellnessLab.
“What is missing is fun. We need to unplug and do something fun! It may sound cheesy, but having fun is self-care.” – Khalia Wilkinson
Are you ready to live well, be healthy, and walk into abundant life? Conversations with Khalia is a platform designed for women to speak freely about matters of life. Conversations with Khalia is a virtual talk on women’s wellness hosted through the East Lake Branch of the Birmingham Library every fourth Monday of the month. Mrs. Khalia Wilkinson is a coach and minister working with women looking to ditch feeling stressed, overwhelmed, drained, and desiring to be accomplished, healthy, and thriving. On April 26, 2021, she will host an online conversation at 12:15PM CST. You can register here (https://tinyurl.com/Online-Conversations) or call (205) 836-3341 to attend.
Khalia Wilkinson is a counselor and wellness coach with 15 years of experience mentoring and training women. She has written The Women’s COVID-19 Survival Guide to uplift women experiencing wellness withdrawals due to the sudden shifts in their schedules caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The guide discusses in-depth how to navigate the required activities of daily living in this new unforeseen space while managing isolation, mental wellness, schedules, and self-care. She also hosts the Woman31 Podcast, a podcast rooted in biblical principles found in Proverbs, Chapter 31 with an accompanying website: Woman31.
Khalia believes that a woman’s health and well-being is foundational to ensuring all other scheduled family activities are successfully completed. The Women’s COVID-19 Survival Guide embraces concepts of self-care in support of one’s overall health and wellness. The guide offers easy-to-perform tasks that can help individuals better manage their well-being.
Self-care is typically visualized as a spa day. However, Khalia suggests that adequate sleep, eating a healthy and satisfying meal, praying, laughing at a good movie, and/or speaking with a trusted and supportive friend are all excellent modes of self-care. Understanding where you are and what health areas you need to focus on is pivotal to living well.
Khalia says that mental health is vital to overall wellness. She suggested that seeking professional counseling is absolutely a “good thing” to do, especially when one is experiencing serious mental illness. She also mentioned that feeling negative emotions is a signal to our body that something is not “okay.” Thus, it is important to listen to our body and seek help. When asked if there was any wellness advice she could offer, she said, “Do something fun and find ways to get back to the activities we love, because it can be healthy for our bodies.” You can always connect with Mrs. Khalia Wilkinson on Instagram, @khalia.woman31.