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  • Health, School

    Sleep and Your Body

    girl sleeping

    Everyone likes to joke about and compare how little they sleep. To some, it’s a matter of pride. 

    I sleep 3-4 hours a night just so I can manage my workload. ”

    However, what people don’t realize is that preventing your body from getting the rest it needs has severe long-term effects and hampers your performance on a day-to-day basis. Not sleeping enough can result in memory loss, lack of alertness, and mood swings, affecting your work and personal relationships.

    Teenagers require 8-10 hours of sleep. Speaking from personal experience, I’m lucky if I even get half that amount. On average, we tend to get 7-8 hours of sleep. This is due to a multitude of reasons. After puberty begins, your biological clock shifts about two hours. For example, an individual who would go to sleep at 9:00 PM will now have trouble sleeping until 11:00. Though this is true and does affect younger teenagers in middle school, growing academic pressures involving grades, extracurriculars, obligations, and relationships also take a chunk out of your rest.

    What many teenagers and adults don’t realize is that the less they sleep, the more their sleep debt grows. Your body can very much feel that it’s not getting enough sleep. Your body summons sleep in two ways: by sending more adenosine (a neurotransmitter) around your body, and by sending signals from your circadian clock.

     Adenosine  can be considered a cellular  by-product and is produced and released into the bloodstream when [cells] use energy. It’s taken up to the receptors that govern wakefulness in the basal forebrain, acting as a slow buffer, minimizing your ability to be attentive and remember things. When there’s a lot of adenosine, you start to feel drowsy. (The way caffeine works is by blocking adenosine receptors in your brain, essentially numbing you to its effects.) 

    The circadian clock regulates all of your bodily functions. When it comes to sleep, it causes the human body to feel very sleepy between 12:00-6:00 AM, and a little extra sleepy between 2:00-4:00 PM.

    A study at the University of Chicago found that after having volunteers sleep four hours a night for six nights, volunteers developed higher blood pressure and larger amounts of the hormone cortisol. They also produced less antibodies and signs of insulin resistance, a precursor to type-2 diabetes. After sleeping the amount they needed to, they reversed all of these effects. Another study from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Medical School found that after having volunteers sleep for either 8, 6, or 4 hours a night for two weeks, and a fourth group of volunteers who didn’t sleep for three days, the groups that had slept 4-6 hours a night didn’t perform much better than the one that hadn’t slept for 72 hours. 

    The hours add up. Speaking from personal experience, during the spring semester, I averaged 2-5 hours of sleep. Every night. The moment summer began, I began sleeping inordinate amounts. Before this year, my circadian clock wouldn’t let me sleep past 7:30. Now, if I don’t use an alarm to wake up, my body won’t let me wake up until 10:00-11:00. The first week of summer? I slept 8-14 hours a night. I physically can’t sleep the way I used to. My body needs its sleep. Likewise, your body will react to you not sleeping well and you’ll have more difficulty performing daily tasks. Guard your sleep. 

  • Bullying, GirlSpring.com, Health, Mental Health, Social, Technology

    Dealing with hurtful instagram comments

    online bullying

    First of all, knowing your worth and being confident in who you are as a person can help you combat the things that people comment on your posts. Being strong in who you are as a person is the first tool to beating those hateful comments. You may want to disable comments or delete your instagram for a while so that you can recharge and help your mind heal from instagram trolls. Sometimes a break can help you focus on you and do things that make you happy. Fill your mind with positive thoughts and dispose of negative things people comment or say about you. They are wrong.

    Hurt people hurt people

    Whatever mean comments people write behind the comfort of their phone screen is usually out of a place of insecurity and self-doubt. People that have the audacity to spread their mean opinions are usually hurting inside and are broken.

    Don’t fuel the fire

    I know the first thing that you want to do is comment back but don’t. Be the bigger person because the reason they comment those things is to receive a reaction out of you and to spark drama which could ultimately reflect your character if you engage in it. So ignore it because if you do then they don’t even know if you saw it.

    Ignore the comments

    Don’t even take one look at them. I challenge you to not even look at who likes your photos or who comments and see how your perspective on social media changes. Social media has become a competition for the best photos, the best life, and the most likes. Strip the competition away and have fun. Take photos of you laughing or eating an ice cream cone.

    Know your worth

    Realize that the things people say are meant to tear you down, but know that the things they say are lies. One person does not define who you are as a person and you should not let them have that power over your mind. Speak truth over who you are.

    Think about your happiness

    Post pictures because you want to share them with the world and because those pictures make you happy. Never approach social media for the likes or attention or for whatever you are lacking because it will leave you empty and always coming back for more.

    Behind those phone screens, we are all people with real emotions and real feelings. Never be afraid to show the world who you really are. People value that more than anything.

    Social media has changed the way we connect with people, but it can also make us feel lonely and less than. Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter all have so many pros but the one thing that rings true for all of them is that there can be awful and mean things said. Here are tips on what to do if you’re faced with them

  • Articles, Body Image, Confidence, Health, Mental Health, Puberty

    What Body Positivity Means to Me

    Three girls smiling at the camera

    Body Positivity In Our Society

    We live in a society that claims to be “body positive’, but doesn’t accept all types of people. I always hear “every person is unique” and I get that. I don’t understand why everyone isn’t celebrated. I don’t mean that we should all get participation trophies or be praised for anything we do, but everyone deserves to be comfortable and welcome without exception. It’s true that we are all unique. We are different shapes, sizes, and colors, but we should feel the same – confident and comfortable.

    I was taught to be “body positive”. What does that even mean? Why do other peoples bodies concern me? That’s just it. Other peoples bodies don’t concern me, and my body doesn’t concern anyone else. Is that body positivity? Not really. It definitely isn’t my place to tell anyone else what to do with their body. Different things empower different people. I don’t think to be body-positive means that you can’t make observations about other people’s appearance, but I believe they do need to be empowering.

    I know that the celebration and representation of all people can be directly related to self-confidence, so why isn’t diverse representation more common? It’s because we, as a society, have become used to a particular image being showcased. Some people cannot see themselves in this image, so they begin to feel inferior. Most people’s first reaction is to be judgemental. I’ll admit it. Sometimes I see someone and think. What are they wearing? but then I remember they can wear whatever works for them. It doesn’t matter what I think. If I don’t like it, then I won’t wear it. We have to train ourselves not to be critical of others because we are constantly reminded of something that doesn’t really exist. The “ideal body” cannot be captured in one image. Everyone has a different body, and that is enough, we shouldn’t accept or strive for one type of body. 

    On the other hand, we are too harsh on ourselves. I am. You are. We are all hypocrites. We tell others they should be confident, and turn around to belittle ourselves. At the same time, we get dressed, stand in front of the mirror, and pick ourselves apart. This would look better if my stomach was flat…or if my thighs were smaller, I’d be happy. The truth is, I’ll never be 100% satisfied with my appearance, and that’s normal. It’s important to remember that body positivity is for everyone – including ourselves. 

    I decided to write about how contradictory our society is when it comes to body image, because of a song I love. “Body” by Julia Michaels begins with an apology that we should all take notes on. She is apologizing to herself. She knows that she makes herself lose confidence and feel insecure. She knows that she shouldn’t treat herself like that, but she still does. All she wants is to love her body like she loves others’ and they love hers. Why are we like that? Why can we see the beauty in others, and others can see it in us, but we can’t see it in ourselves?

    Personal Relationship With Body Positivity

    My relationship with my body is constantly changing. My entire childhood I was a gymnast. I was short, strong, and could never find jeans that fit. Around the age of 11, I got taller. I was thinner, and the strongest I had ever been. Still, I hated my body. Then came an injury that ended gymnastics forever. For the rest of middle school, I was getting zero exercises and eating terribly. I was depressed. I hated myself, and I hated my body even more. The little bit of confidence I had was gone. I wouldn’t even look anyone in the eye.

    Then high school started, and I was more comfortable with myself. I was adapting well. I was doing everything I wanted to – succeed academically and socially. Spring semester of my 9th-grade year, I got sick. I lost my appetite almost immediately, I was on a lot of medications, and the doctors were running dozens of tests that were not providing any answers. Nothing. I was also participating in swim team, so I was burning lots of calories and not eating any. Obviously, this resulted in rapid weight loss( almost 45 pounds in a few weeks). The sad part is I liked how I looked. I felt confident. Friends told me “Wow! You look great! Have you lost weight?” Yes, I did lose weight, but I was so unhealthy. I was ill. The time I felt most confident was when I was thin from illness…how twisted is that?

    Remember that how you feel is always more important than how you look. 

    We should live in an environment where every shape and size is not only welcomed but celebrated. It isn’t difficult to be kind to those around us and ourselves. We all need to stop trying to fix what we see and focus on how we make each other, and ourselves, feel.

    Want to read more about body positivity and self-love? Check it out here and here!

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Health

    Making the Most of Your Doctor’s Visit

    doctor's visit

    It is a fact that a large proportion of teenagers in the United States miss their annual doctor’s checkups and do not see their primary care physician regularly. For some teenagers, seeing a doctor may feel like an unnecessary part of their schedule; they may feel that they are healthy and are having to give up valuable time just to see their doctor. For others, seeing a doctor may feel like a stressful experience that should be avoided.

    Talking about serious issues concerning sexual, mental, and physical health is a huge challenge for many teenagers. They may feel uncomfortable or even shameful to admit certain information about their health to their health care provider. Some teens may also be afraid that their health information will be shared with their parents, and for others, costs associated with visiting the doctor can be a concern too.

    Teens Need to See Their Doctor

    Regardless of the reason, this is a big issue. It is very important for teenagers to see a doctor regularly because they can be going through issues with not very apparent symptoms that need to be addressed. Therefore, it is crucial for doctors and patients to have good relationships with effective communication. Teenagers should try to see their primary care physician at least once a year for an annual check-up. These are the visits where the doctor can keep track of changes in one’s development and offer lifestyle advice.

    In order for a doctor’s visit to be successful, there are obvious things that a health care provider should be doing: creating a safe environment, listening to patients, and offering helpful, relevant advice. But, there are also things that you can do as a teenager to make the most of your doctor’s visit.

    How to Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Visit

    Understand Confidentiality

    For starters, understanding confidentiality can be very helpful. Confidentiality is the concept of keeping certain medical information private between a patient and their health care providers. Something that many teens do not know is that they have a right to confidential health care. Most health care providers are trained to outline their confidentiality policies with their patients at the beginning of each visit. However, if your health care provider doesn’t do this, definitely ask them to. It is very important for you to know what you are able to share confidentially and give consent to. For example, all fifty states allow teens to give consent to STI services and some also allow them to give consent to reproductive and prenatal care. Hearing your rights from your health care provider is very helpful and can help you better manage your health care.

    Additionally, not everything that is shared during a doctor’s visit can be kept confidential. Health care providers are mandated reporters, which means that that they are bound by law to report to authorities when abuse is suspected or observed. Understanding the concept of mandated reporting is very important.

    Many health care providers also start allocating time alone with patients starting during the pre-teen years. This is a good time to share information with your provider that you may want to discuss individually with them. If you feel like you want more one-on-one time with your provider, be sure to let them know. That way, they can plan ahead and cut out some extra time during your next visit. Additionally, if you’re calling to schedule your own appointments, it’s smart to let whoever is taking the call know beforehand too.

    Coming Prepared to Appointments

    Next, it is important to come prepared for the appointment. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming when a doctor is asking you questions about your health and lifestyle. This may cause you to forget to touch on certain details that you were planning on discussing with your provider. It’s helpful to take time before your visit to clarify what you want to talk with your provider about. For some individuals, writing things down and coming to the appointment with pen and paper is beneficial. This shows a health care provider that you are interested in your health and are taking responsibility for it. It also allows you to remember what you wanted to discuss and lets you take notes during the visit (which is helpful for remembering important information later on).

    Be Honest

    It is also important to be honest. Sometimes, it can be embarrassing or may even feel awkward to admit certain information to your health care provider. But it is important to realize that they are there to help you. When you give incorrect information, doctors can’t provide you with necessary care because they don’t fully know what’s going on. Health care providers aren’t mind readers and they cannot force you to tell the truth. It is your job to be as truthful as you can be. This does not mean that you need to share every single thing; use your best judgment and help out your doctor by being honest with them.

    Ask Questions

    If there is anything you are unsure about— like a medical term or accessing your online health portal— be sure to talk to your health care provider about it. Most providers love when their teen patients ask questions, and it is always important to do so. Asking questions ensure you can understand any possible next steps. This is your health that is being discussed, so no question is a bad question. 

    Get a Visit Recap

    Before you leave, it is always a good idea to kindly ask your health care provider to summarize what you discussed during the appointment. Although most providers give patients an after-visit summary sheet to read and follow at home, it is helpful to hear a brief version of those instructions out loud. This will allow you to better remember what next steps you need to take. It will also give you a final opportunity to ask any last-minute questions that may arise as your doctor summarizes what was discussed. This will also further motivate you to actually follow through on your doctor’s advice and instructions, which is something you should always be doing!

    Seeing a doctor regularly is very important during the teenage years. Take these recommendations into consideration when attending your next visit so you can make the most of the experience!

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Health

    Health Care: Teens Have Rights Too!

    teen health care rights

    One big misconception I had about the health care system up until my senior year of high school was that my parents had full control over my medical care. Being someone who prefers to make medical decisions with her parents, this was fine with me at the time. However, I know that there are many teens who would prefer to have more freedom and control over their healthcare, and it is important to educate teens about the rights they have.

    When individuals are under the age of eighteen and live with a parent, the parent must give consent for many types of care. However, most teens don’t know that they have rights too. These usually aren’t discussed in health classes at school, so it’s important for teens to learn about these rights early on so they can use these resources to their benefit. Although laws may vary state to state, most of them are pretty standard and should apply wherever you’re from. There are no federal regulations that specify a teen’s rights regarding medical care, so you should look up your state medical board’s regulations to learn the specifics.

    Here are some common rights that minor teens have in many states:

    Mental Health. In many states, individuals above the age of twelve or thirteen can consent to receive outpatient mental health services, if approved by their health care provider. In some cases, notice must be provided to the parent, but a teen is allowed to provide consent for themselves.

    Substance Abuse. Some states allow teens over a certain age to receive outpatient substance abuse treatment services by a licensed provider. Many inpatient options require parental consent. So, if you are considering receiving this type of service, definitely look into your state’s guidelines to learn more.

    Sexual/Reproductive Health. In many states, regardless of age, birth control, family planning, and pregnancy care can be administered to a patient without parental consent or informing a parent that their child is undergoing such care. Testing and providing diagnoses and treatments for STDs and STIs are also allowed in some states if the teen if over a specific age. Additionally, abortion services are available in some states for individuals and do not require parental consent. This link includes a list of some states and their specific abortion laws. If your state isn’t on this list, go to its medical board website to find the exact rules and regulations.

    If your provider isn’t providing the reproductive or sexual health care that you are looking for without parental consent, and you would like to consent for yourself, organizations such as Planned Parenthood may be able to help you. Exact laws will vary depending on the state you live in, so you should do some research and look into these rules if you are interested.

    Now, you know your rights!

    These are just a few of the most common rights minor teens have in most states when it comes to their medical care. Always do additional research and ask around to learn about all the rights and resources available to you in your specific state. Teens have power, and although it may not seem like very much depending on where you live, you should always stay educated so you can exercise your rights in medical situations that may come your way.

  • Articles, Body Image, Confidence, GirlSpring.com, Health, Lifestyle

    5 Small Tips for Loving Yourself More

    body confidence

    Everyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I’ve struggled with my body confidence throughout my whole life. My extra pounds and my acne when I was younger, being taller and bigger than everyone, maybe too muscular when I used to weightlift or having no muscles at all now that I’m recovering from an injury. There’s always something to complain about my body or the way that I look… I can never be truly satisfied. 

    These past few months, after a guy that I was seeing decided to end our relationship because he “couldn’t love me if I didn’t love me”, I’ve decided to change the pattern. See, since I had been feeling the same thing for almost 22 years and it wasn’t helping me at all. Maybe it was time to try something else! And I still don’t know how, but I’ve managed to make huge changes in my confidence. So what better way to celebrate these changes than to share them with everyone else?

    Here are 5 small tips that I’ve used to accept and care for myself more:

    1. Tell the voice in your head to shut up. I know… It’s like every time I look at myself in the mirror, or I see myself in a picture, there’s an instant voice yelling “ugh… disgusting!” Well, it’s time to make a conscious effort to shut it down. I understand it will be hard, but try covering it up with positive thoughts such as “I look amazing!” “I feel great!” At first, it might seem unnatural, but after a while, you can revert the habit.
    2. Take a look at your beautiful self in the mirror. If you feel uncomfortable with yourself, it’s highly likely that you avoid seeing yourself in a mirror. I used to close my eyes a lot when I had to see myself in some sort of reflection. I didn’t want to face what was in front of me. It’s time to quit that: see yourself carefully, every little part of you. Look at yourself in the eyes and get to know who you are. 
    3. Make a list of all the wonderful things you’ve done in your life and what you’re capable of doing. When I feel sad, I remember something amazing that I did a while ago: maybe that time that I did stand-up comedy on TV, or how strong I was in a sports competition. I also take time to be grateful for what’s to come, for the many things that I am capable of doing. Body confidence to me is not about how I look, but about what I am able to do. When you take some time to remember what you’re good at and the things you’re passionate about, you accept your own self more.
    4. Be careful with social media! Social media can be very toxic. When your feed is full of pictures of what beauty is supposed to feel like, or hurtful tips about “how you should achieve your summer body” (ALL bodies are summer bodies!) it’s very hard to get out of the negative spiral. We spend lots of hours surfing through social media, so my suggestion is to clean up your following list. Be careful with who you take advice from, and try to find other inspiring things rather than just pictures of other people. 
    5. Get out. Go for a walk! Work out! Play the piano! Do whatever makes you happy. Appreciate time with yourself, do things that are healthy for you, follow your passions. I find that when I have an amazing day just with myself, I am the happiest when I go to sleep.

    Learning to love yourself can be a long journey, here are some tips on self-care that can help you along the way!

  • Articles, Cooking, Food, GirlSpring.com, Health

    More Smoothies to Keep Your Summer Cool

    smoothie

    Summer is approaching fast, and so is the excruciatingly high temperatures that come with it. In order to beat the heat this season, hydration is a must– and what better way to accomplish that than with fruity, satisfying smoothies? 

    Below are a few simple, refreshing recipes to help you cool down this summer, sipping by the poolside. All you need to do is gather the ingredients, blend together and enjoy! 

    Pineapple Mango Smoothie

    Ingredients: 

    • ½ cup of pineapple juice
    • ½ cup of canned coconut milk
    • 1 cup of frozen mango
    • ¾ cup of frozen pineapple
    • ½ of a frozen banana

    You can modify this recipe by using a different substitute for milk or adding spinach or kale for a healthy twist. 

    Find the full recipe at https://www.iheartnaptime.net/pineapple-smoothie/.

    Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie

    Ingredients: 

    • 2 cups of frozen strawberries
    • 1 cup of ice
    • 1 cup of lemonade

    Simple, sweet and sour! This strawberry lemonade smoothie would be perfect at a picnic or pool party. Add a flavor to your lemonade, such as strawberry or raspberry, for some extra flavor.

    Find the full recipe at https://recipeforperfection.com/strawberry-lemonade-smoothie-recipe/.

    Watermelon Peach Smoothie 

    Ingredients: 

    • 3 cups of chopped watermelon
    • 1 ripe peach, sliced
    • ½ cup of plain coconut milk (refrigerated, not canned)
    •  A handful of ice
    • Mint for garnish (if desired) 
    • 1-2 tablespoons of honey to sweeten (if desired)

    Since watermelon is mostly water, this smoothie won’t only satisfy your cravings, but it will quench your thirst. 

    Find the full recipe at https://www.seasonalcravings.com/watermelon-peach-smoothie/.

    Peanut Butter Espresso Smoothie

    Ingredients: 

    • 1 frozen banana
    • ¼ cup of peanut butter
    • 1 teaspoon of espresso or instant coffee powder 
    • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup

    Ditch your boring cup of iced coffee this summer with this energizing, refreshing smoothie. Coffee is a must-have in my everyday routine, so I’m always looking for new, delicious ways to consume it, like this recipe. 

    Find the full recipe at https://thealmondeater.com/peanut-butter-espresso-smoothie/.

    Smoothies are easy to make, taste amazing and will cool you down in the upcoming hot weather– what more could you possibly be looking for? These recipes, plus some other GirlSpring smoothies, will quickly become one of your summer staples.