Tag Archives: Blog Post 2 – Connected Writing

September is National Recovery Month!

Happy National Recovery month! September 2021 marks the 32nd year of National Recovery Month that celebrates the millions of people in our nation who are in recovery from a substance use disorder.

Read the proclamation here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/08/31/a-proclamation-on-national-recovery-month-2021/

Why is this important information for me to share with you? I am amongst the millions living a new an purposeful life in recovery. I am also a proud Collegiate Recovery Program Student Member. I choose to live my recovery story out loud because I have a passion for promoting recovery through advocacy, education, and demonstrating the power and proof of long-term recovery. Metropolitan State University has a new initiative called the Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP). It provides support and resources for students who have challenges with substance use disorders. Additionally, it supports students living in recovery both academically and professionally.

For more information on the Metropolitan State University CRP, please visit: https://www.metrostate.edu/students/support/collegiate-recovery-program

https://www.instagram.com/p/CP5CEoLD27A8Kb1m8JLNpfsCUZxWzCks0cpMLg0/

Thinking About the Suburbs in the Midst of a Pandemic

I grew up in a suburb 30-minutes outside of a major US city. By the time I was sixteen, all of my dreams of college were wrapped up in the idea that I just had to get the heck out of the ‘burbs. I have felt a practically unhealthy loathing towards suburbs for the entirety of my adult life at this point, but it’s starting to seem like I’m not the only one. In fact,  America’s suburbs have been receiving an increasing amount of scrutiny in recent years. People have started to take notice of the issues surrounding transportation, housing costs, and city planning, which all lead to expansive areas that are not quite as enjoyable, or profitable, as walkable cities.

Not Just Bikes, a YouTube channel that often talks about city planning, sums up the issues of North American suburbs and how this actually causes cities to lose money in this fantastic video titled “How Suburban Development Makes American Cities Poorer”. To oversimplify many great points made in the video, a town or a city that is walkable, that has a mixture of single family, multi-family, and businesses all in one area, is actually much more profitable than single family suburbs with big-box stores that take up lots of precious land with large parking lots. Suburbs, as they are right now, are exclusionary in nature by only allowing single family housing.

Enter the pandemic. Remote work has skyrocketed and the trajectory of our work lives has been drastically changed. This change in the way we work has also created big changes in the hosing market. This article, from The Wall Street Journal, discusses how the increase in remote work is changing the ways renters and homeowners are re-evaluating what is necessary for their home-life and the kind of space they crave.

Our thoughts about housing are changing, and with remote work shaping the types of spaces people are looking for, I think it’s time we re-evaluate the ways our cities and towns are laid out in America. Suburbs can no longer be these large expanses of wasted space, but instead need to utilize the areas they have to create more affordable and multi-use housing options. They need to think about the ways businesses are laid out to create the best revenue stream and, to be honest, a better view. Everybody is sick and tired of the pandemic, (in fact, I nearly didn’t write this blog because I didn’t want to have to talk about it anymore) but it has shaped the world we’ve been living in for the last year, with affects that are likely to last much longer than that. If we play our cards right, we have the opportunity to reanalyze if the methods we’ve been using up until now are really what’s best for everyone.

I’ve hated the suburbs for the last ten years, but I’ve realized that doesn’t mean I’ll always have to.

ADHD and Online Learning

I recently was looking up some information about online learning since I was interested in writing a blog post for it. I came across this article by University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences and started thinking about the benefits they listed such as:

1. You don’t need to relocate

2. It’s easier to achieve optimal school-life balance

3. It helps you develop and stick to healthy habits

4. You have more time to do the things you love

5. Online learning makes it possible to keep your job

6. You can create your own office

7. It’s easier to concentrate and participate

8. You can boost your time management skills

Although these definitely seem like great benefits I thought about how for someone like me who has ADHD, that it may be difficult to experience any of these benefits. Although I have adapted to online learning, I needed a lot of resources to make it possible and less stressful. These thoughts I had about the connection between online learning and ADHD led me to find an article by Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) about this exact topic.

I think that a lot of us can agree that online learning isn’t the most ideal choice in most cases, but it creates an even greater challenge for students who live with ADHD. In the article they discuss how it is more difficult to concentrate and easier to fall off of a schedule. It can also lead to students being less likely to communicate regularly with classmates and teachers. For a student with ADHD these things can be quite detrimental to their learning, relationship with classmates, grades, and their self-esteem.

Overall I believe that online learning can provide some great advantages to most people and some people with ADHD may even be more suited to online learning. However, it might be difficult for many students with ADHD to find a better work-life balance and schedule like the first articles suggests. Especially since many students have already struggled to adapt to in person learning through their lives, suddenly being taught online can cause a lot of distress.

Travel and Improved Health: A relaxing yet exhilarating combination.

Dawn Edwardson, MDST 485, Post #2, Type #2

Travel and Improved Health: A relaxing yet exhilarating combination.

I love that moment when you make the decision that you’re actually going to do it…you’ve been dreaming about it for weeks, maybe even months. You’ve had that hotel room sitting in your cart and you just clicked “complete purchase”…ahh, what a great feeling!  Now I’ve got to book the flight!

I often find myself dreaming of a get-a-way when life begins to feel too overwhelming or too mundane. I believe that travel can be a way to ease the mind and body of stress and pre-occupation. Pre-occupation with the many seemingly overwhelming responsibilities we face daily. We wake up to them each and every day: work, school, family, pets, church, youth groups, extra-curricular activities and the list goes on and on. It’s not a wonder that we have physical and mental illness on the rise – we need a break!

How do I know when a vacation is due? This is a question many people ask and there are some tall tale signs to be on the lookout for such as: constant irritability with co-workers, disinterest in your work, and making mistakes daily. The list goes on and on and we can read about many more of them here https://www.businessinsider.com/signs-you-need-vacation-from-work-2017-5. Ultimately, it’s about knowing yourself and monitoring your behavior to know when you need to get away.

What are the health benefits of taking action on my dream of walking on the beach or hiking in a National Park? WebMD is a source many rely on for health advice and they recently shared (2020) on their website, that “exploring new places and immersing yourself in new cultures is mentally stimulating. Doing this regularly can have great effects on your mental health.” You can read more about the details here https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/how-travel-affects-mental-health.

I have experienced many of the health scenarios that spoken about above. I have found travel to be a source of escape and rejuvenation from life’s daily grind. I’ve learned that it’s ok to plan a little and let the rest be an adventure. We’ve made it a point on our family vacations to remove watches and not pay attention to time, rather, we get up when we feel rested, east when we’re hungry, and go to bed when we’re tired. It’s amazing how freeing it is to simply release yourself from the constraints of living every minute of your life by a schedule. I hope that this message has been helpful and inspiring! Take care of yourselves and go on an adventure!

https://www.instagram.com/p/COJvEU9pDQ1/?igshid=1l4wdvp32uvzj

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Sleep. Some of us love it and some of us hate it. Usually only because it escapes them too quickly.

Have you ever gone to bed at a decent hour and woken up feeling like you barely slept at all? There’s clearly something that needs to be addressed, and the best way to start is by analyzing your sleep. You might be surprised at what you find.

Last year when Minnesota went under lockdown, I made a point to continue waking up early and moving my body so that I didn’t get into a bad habit of sleeping in and getting lazy. I downloaded a sleep tracker app called Sleep Cycle that I turn on every night and it tracks my sleep.

I know that sounds crazy, and I don’t know how to explain exactly how the technology works, but I can testify that it works. And if nothing else, it lends some insight on the quality of my sleep which helps me make changes that will improve it long-term.

How much sleep do you really need?

The average person has five sleep cycles of about 90 minutes each. 90 minutes x five sleep cycles = 450 minutes of sleep total. To figure out the ideal number of hours of sleep you need, take 450/60 = 7.5 hours of sleep. Count backwards from the time you want to wake up to figure out when you should go to bed.

For example, if you wake up at 7:00 am and have five sleep cycles per night, then you should go to bed at 11:30 pm. But if you’re like most people and don’t fall asleep right away you should probably give yourself some wiggle room and shoot for 11:00 pm.)

But what if you don’t have five sleep cycles every night, or what if they last longer than 90 minutes?

This is where the Sleep Cycle app comes in handy. Track your sleep for a week and then go back and look at the data and you can see exactly how many sleep cycles you went through each night and how long they lasted.

Take this information and plug it into the formula above to figure out exactly how many hours of sleep you need. Count backward from your desired wakeup time to figure out what time you should go to bed.

Sleep Cycle has a cool feature that allows you to make notes about things you did throughout the day such as exercising, drinking coffee, experiencing stress, being sick, drinking alcohol etc. It’s helpful to see how these different factors affect the quality of your sleep.

My biggest takeaway in using this app was how sleeping with background noise affected the quality of my sleep.

I don’t normally fall asleep with anything on, but my daughter was having a sleepover in my room one night, and she likes to sleep with a meditation on.

When I woke up in the morning, I felt like I had been hit by a train. I felt like I could barely open my eyes and I was exhausted despite sleeping for seven hours. When I looked at my Sleep Cycle app, I was shocked.

The screenshot on the left is a normal night of sleep for me. About five sleep cycles of about 90-120 minutes. On the right was the night I fell asleep with the meditation playing.

Only once around 7:00 am (when I normally wake up) did I reach full REM (deep) sleep.

I slept in on this day.

The point is, sleep is important because if you don’t have energy to sustain yourself throughout the day than your productivity levels are severely impacted. Getting enough sleep makes you feel better and work more efficiently so you can do more work in less amount of time.

And yes, I snore. Thank you, Sleep Cycle, for ending countless nights of arguments between my fiancé and I.

Are our kid becoming addicted to video games?

Are our kids spending way too much time on video games? Has this become the new normal? These days that all kids talk about and do. The World Health Organization declared that compulsively playing video games has become an all time high and is considered as a mental health disorder. Its proper name is called “gaming disorder”. Its becoming a new wave that kids are just getting hooked on. Kids who have become really addicted too it are spending all there free time and even times when there not free playing video games. That also get withdrawn afterwards if they lack on not playing the game for a little bit. But the real question is? Why are our children so addicted too this? “Game creators work hard to hook players to their games. They use predictive algorithms and principles of behavioral economics to make the gamer binge”. Its so scary too think about when you read this because there starting this at a young age. A kids mind is developing every day and as time goes by they can also be destructive because of this and see what the games are doing and think its okay in real life. 

I can relate too this a lot. I have a little brother. He’s eleven years old and addicted too video games. Any game out there he has it and plays it. It was already an issue before the pandemic but ever since the pandemic has started its been through constant playing the game can be very hard on us when we tell him too stop even disciplining kids now is an issue because he’s constantly wanting too do it

Ethics of Online Research Using Publicly Posted Opinions

Quinton Miller, Public Relations Major, MDST 485, January 29th, 2021

Ethics are the moral principles that dictate a persons possible courses of action in given situations. This academic journal goes into depth on the belief that social media is or isn’t effective for collecting health research data. Relevancy to us is is captured by the means to how that data is collected in relation to a change that has happened in technology since this was written. The article explains that some individuals wonder if the data collected affects the people who posted it. Paraphrasing peoples words instead of copying still provides the same amount of insight. Gonzalez-Hernandez argues that the anonymity of sites such as Reddit allows for full reproduction of statements even when the wording is not changed. This could pose as an alternative source to peoples social network postings like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as the identities are further concealed in anonymous posts. As an additional personal input, I would argue that publicly made posts are already made to be seen as well as share opinions that can be used as research information on the web. Therefore, finding a conglomerate of unnamed opinions for researching purposes isn’t a terrible idea. Especially when social media sites, companies and developers actively listen for key phrases as is.

What I had absorbed is that the way things are done determine their clearance. This could help marketers in the way they present the data collected for commercial and legal purposes. This passage suggests that asking for opinions via surveys makes the research more clinical which requires consent. If the information is expressed publicly it illuminates the issue of meeting a full review by the National Institute of Health. For example, this entity, The National Institute of Health, wouldn’t allow research information related to medical marijuana to surface for credibility if it goes through them because the study of the drug is illegal in designated states, thus negatively pressuring it’s expansion and help to the nation. If anonymous opinions are recorded this study would be allowed to be utilized.

This is only one way to gather information as technology is ever changing and evolving. Bio-technology is predicted to become a more widely used assessment of specific individuals health structure in the near future. Biotech has been used by ancestry.com, myheritage.com and others to determine the ethnic make up of its paying users. I, myself, am awaiting my assessment. This technology will now be used more widely as it becomes more affordable and accurate than doctor diagnosis. Physicians, as qualified as they may be, sometimes inaccurately diagnose patients. This leads to more cost and less effectiveness. This redundancy can be avoided by using a biotech analysis of inherited health concerns and personalize a template for all age ranges of users.

Overall, what’s expressed in the reading is that the way things are done, determines its clearance. This could help marketers in the way they present the data they’ve collected for promotional and legal purposes. An example being, the passage suggesting that asking for opinions via surveys makes the research more clinical which requires consent. If information is expressed publicly, it leads the issue of needing a full review by the NIH.

Gonzalez-Hernandez, G. (2019) On The Ethics of Using Social Media for Health Research https://nlmdirector-nlm-nih-gov.mtrproxy.mnpals.net/2019/06/25/on-the-ethics-of-using-social-media-data-for-health-research/comment-page-1/

Biotechnology Innovation Organization https://archive.bio.org/articles/diagnostics

Bridging the Gap Between Social Media and Advertisement by Accessing How Audiences Are Targeted

Quinton Miller, MDST 485 Communicating with New Media, Public Relations Major, Metropolitan State University

January 22nd, 2021

This scholarly journal keys in on the increasing popularity of CBD products. Through algorithms set for identifying certain words, this passage explains the analysis taking place surrounding the conversation concerning attitudes towards cannabinoid (CBD) and its purpose. Terms including anxiety, stress or nausea were identified as indicators for therapeutic necessities. This could help with uncovering what language companies who sell these types of products would use in their advertisements going forward. It may also provide insight into a drug policy that needs revision for places that do not allow it due to the products legality based on those first hand accounts documented from forums. This includes Cannabinol/CBD, hemp oil and Cannabis. There are pieces of qualitative data from these findings which is what some new age advertising services utilize. Not only does this tie into the cannabis sector of public relations in new media through explanation of a methodology professionals can use on social media platforms, this academic journal is relevant to us as citizens. When using social media, we often find advertisements geared towards something we’ve recently posted, viewed or talked about. The algorithm, similar to a control F function in a word document, gives an example of how our data is utilized in studies. Once we, as users of these platforms, think outside the box and consider other ways our words are used, we can conduct other research as to how social media and advertisements have played hand-in-hand.

Does this remind us of anyone who whistle blew about this in the past?

This news article was originally written in the beginning of 2018 and revised in October of 2020. This article includes a video experiment of a couple conversing about cat food to see if ads would begin to appear in relation to their conversation. They concluded that facebook had been listening for keywords in their conversations due to the fact that cat food advertisements begun appearing days later. These readings seem distant on the surface, but with a little critical analysis in the mindset of media communication, people can bridge the gap between an obvious new age of targeting methods and terminology. Both articles involve keywords instead of age groups. All users of either the forum or social media who used certain words were taken into account. Each of these had different ways and different purposes, but they could relate to the ways companies use new media to gather and target data on potential consumers.

Take a look below and try it out for yourself !

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0SOxb_Lfps

Of course this isn’t the real Edward Snowden’s instagram. (I doubt we’ll see the real Snowden on social media). This is a instagram fanpage dedicated to the man who informed the world of what the NSA had been doing.

Narcity Media, October 2020, Why You Keep Getting Ads For Things You’ve Talked About But Haven’t Searched Up Online https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.narcity.com/amp/why-you-keep-getting-ads-for-things-youve-talked-about-but-havent-searched-up-online

International Journal of Drug Policy Vol. 77, Mar 2020, Social Media Surveillance for Perceived Therapeutic Effects of Cannabinol (CBD) Products https://www-sciencedirect-com.mtrproxy.mnpals.net/science/article/pii/S0955395920300293

Keep Trying That’s Why It’s Called a Practice

Keep Trying That’s Why It’s Called a Practice

Background

I have been meditating off and on for almost 10 years now. I love meditating. It’s one of the most difficult and most rewarding things I do for myself. It’s funny because whenever I talk about meditating, I usually go on and on about how much I love it and the benefits I receive from it and then end usually somewhere around ‘that’s why I rarely do it.’ I say that to make people laugh which I love to do, but it’s also a little true. I don’t meditate nearly as much as I would like.

A Beginner’s Guide

When one is first beginning a meditation practice it helps to have someone guide you through it or have something to focus on either the breath, counting from 100 backwards and starting over if your mind wanders or even a body scan practice. In an article by Tara Healey found here: https://www.mindful.org/a-10-minute-body-scan-practice/. She not only describes how to do a meditative body scan but links to an audio version you can listen to and practice along right at home.

Vipassana – Silent Meditation

After you have practiced meditating several times or if you want to explore other methods of meditation another option is Vipassana or silent meditation. I used to go to the Zen Center in Minneapolis and I have also attended many sessions at Dharma Field in South Minneapolis. Both places offer meditation where essentially there is a group of people in a room, someone leading the meditation clangs a metal bowl or bell three times and then it’s quiet for 20 minutes. There is something about meditating with a group of people that is much more powerful than doing it alone and I don’t know why. John Mac explains that one can meditate anywhere. One of his favorite places is in the forest.

Walking in the forest can be meditative and very effective.

It’s called a meditation practice for a reason.

Whichever way you decide to practice meditating is up to you. Any advice I could give on it would be the same advice I would give myself. Your mind is going to race and it’s going to wander because that is what the mind does. Clearing your mind for 30 seconds or 10 minutes or 30 minutes is a gift. I like to think of it as a vacation from my thoughts. All the lists I create in my head and all the future plans I absolutely adore making will be there waiting and ready to be picked back up again once I’m done meditating. But for just those few moments I’m allowing myself a break, a pause from the constant go go go of life. Even if you think you could never meditate you probably already have without even knowing it. Have you ever caught yourself ‘zoning out’ staring off into space while waiting in line or looking out the window? That’s meditating. You’ve already done it. Look at you already practicing!

Domestic Violence in times of Covid-19 Lockdown

The fear of contracting the Corona virus, wearing masks, social distancing, unemployment, economic crisis etc. have been the most highlighted topics since the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 as a Pandemic. Following the declaration, governments declared stay at home or shelter in place orders in some cities. Governments shutting down cities, employers furloughing or asking their employees to work from home, schools, shopping malls and recreational areas being closed, and isolation has taken a toll on many. It is one thing to go through a pandemic and experience a lockdown, but it is immensely unimaginable to be locked down with abusive partners for unknown number of days. The increased amount of time that families have been spending during such times can escalate domestic violence.

As the death toll rises, the stay at home solution deemed to be effective to somewhat reduce the spread of the virus. It is during these lockdowns that some struggle to survive not because they are afraid of the virus killing them (well that too) but in fear of losing their lives in the hands of their own partners. In times like this, victims also find it challenging to report the abuse as they are constantly monitored by their abusers.

According the Marshall project, a non-profit journalism about criminal justice, it is always hard to measure the scope of domestic violence and its particularly hard during a pandemic when families are essentially confined to homes, where a victim can’t easily escape an abuser.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline highlights some of the unique COVID-19 impacts on intimate partner violence survivors:

  1. Abusive partners may withhold necessary items such as sanitizers or disinfectants
  2. Abusive partners may frighten victims by misinforming them about the pandemic to prevent them from seeking medical help if they have symptoms
  3. Abusive partners may withhold insurance cards or threaten to cancel insurance cards
  4. Victims fear if they leave, there may not be space availability in shelters, and they may fear being in close quarters with a group of people
  5. Travel restrictions may also impact a victim’s escape or safety plan

The Decline of Domestic Violence Reports

During the Covid-19 health crisis, victims must contemplate whether to continue to live with an abuser and tolerate pain or look for places to live amid the virus scare, unemployment and lack of access to other public places during the lock down. They are also afraid of further threats from their abusers if they report such cases to the police. Margaret Bassett, a training director at the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at the University of Texas, Austin highlights that for victims, sometimes tolerating the abuse is safer when the alternative is moving into a shelter where victims and their children may be exposed to the coronavirus or when the abuser is the primary bread winner as tens of millions lose their jobs. Margaret heard a victim once say “women stay because they are afraid to leave, and they leave when they are afraid to stay”

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/04/22/is-domestic-violence-rising-during-the-coronavirus-shutdown-here-s-what-the-data-shows

Katie Ray Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, gave an interview on Tamron Hall show stating that the agency was concerned about survivors being trapped in their homes with abusive partners and that they would have the inability to seek out help because they were in such close proximity to the person who is most likely watching their behaviors and watching who they are talking to”.  Victims are afraid to report in fear of the several threats they continue to receive from their abusive partners. Margaret emphasizes that for victims of Domestic Violence, their homes are not their sanctuaries and calling the police is a complicated factor especially during a pandemic like Covid-19.

What are Domestic Violence Indicators?

Examples of domestic violence indicators include the following:

  1. Bullying
  2. Physical abuse
  3. Verbal abuse
  4. Sexual abuse
  5. Isolation from friends and family
  6. Confinement at home
  7. Restricted movement
  8. Restricted access or no access to finances
  9. Threats

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-domestic-abuse-signs#1

What can victims do to Seek help?

  1. Have a strategy and carefully come up with a plan
  2. Never announce their strategy to the abuser
  3. Reach out to family members and friends
  4. If possible, leave unannounced and stay with friends and family members
  5. Reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline https://www.thehotline.org/
  6. Remember that they are not alone and there is help out there, the sooner they leave the safer

To reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline which is available 24/7:

  1. Call 1-800-799-7233
  2. Chat @ thehotline.org
  3. Text LOVEIS to 22522

Here is a link of resources for victims and survivors of Domestic Violence

https://ncadv.org/resources