In psychology classes the first thing you learn is not to believe everything you hear. Be skeptical. I began thinking this way when it came to reading an article in a popular magazine, or having a conversation with a fellow student, even family members and friends. They give me a “fact” and I think about it and wonder where this information came from, if it’s true, and I consider doing my own research on the subject depending on my interest.
I understand being skeptical in daily conversation, in unreliable reading material (coughwikipediacough), and the news, but what about with professionals? What about talking to the people you see as the most trusted, like doctors, professors, and other highly educated individuals who specialize in a certain area of study? This is the area I have a hard time being skeptical in.
I took a great biological psychology class one summer and I loved my professor. She was very knowledgeable, funny, and over all a great professor. One fact that stuck with me has to do with how melatonin works. Melatonin is the chemical our bodies produce in the evening that makes us sleepy. Many people use melatonin supplements as sleep aids. What this professor told us is that if you take melatonin as a sleep aid at night, it doesn’t help. Our bodies already produce melatonin at night and adding more doesn’t have an effect. But taking melatonin for someone with jet-lag when their body isn’t producing the melatonin at the right time is very effective.
I recently posted this fact on a forum where someone asked what kinds of sleep aids are effective. I immediately got responses about people’s personal experiences with melatonin supplements being effective at night. I began to wonder, is taking melatonin supplements at night a placebo effect? Or was my professor, who I trusted so much, wrong?
Doing my own research on this subject would probably be exhausting and would come down to me wanting to do my own experiments on people, testing chemical levels, etc… none of which I have the means or knowledge to do.
I generally choose not to blindly trust my sources of information, I just need to learn that even experienced professionals can be wrong and can make mistakes.
I’m sitting here eating some vegetable soup I bought for my work lunch and started thinking about what is actually in the soup. It’s a tomato-based soup, tomatoes are fruits. Then I wondered why they don’t call it fruit and vegetable soup. I thought, maybe the makers of the soup are dumb and then realized…. fruit and vegetable soup sounds really disgusting.
I have two new year’s resolutions:
1. Be better about brushing my teeth before bed.
2. Start exercising again.
The first one…. well… once I lay in bed and get comfy and remember that I didn’t brush my teeth, I still don’t. I’m working on it.
The second one, on the other hand, is going very well so far. I started exercising every weekday, since weekends I work longer hours and its harder to fit in. I have had much success in the past with The FIRM videos, so that’s what I’m doing. Motivating myself can be a challenge. I wake up, lay in bed with my computer, play around on the internet, watch a show or two, THEN get my coffee and drink it while playing on the internet some more… I get so comfy and think, gah, I have to work out but I’m so comfy! Eventually I get out of bed and put my work out clothes on. Once I do this, I feel ready to get my butt in gear. There is something about getting changed and putting my hair up that makes me feel ready for a workout.
The other thing that gets me ready for a workout is the fact that I KNOW how wonderful I feel once I’m done. My head is clear, my body feels good, my endorphins are dancing around giving me more energy, and I feel ready to conquer the rest of the day.
So far I am feeling better physically and better about myself mentally. Trying to make this an ongoing habit is the hard part, starting it is easy.
I just finished watching the documentary, No Impact Man. This man and his family tried to live “no impact” for a year. They had no electricity for 6 months, used cloth instead of toilet paper, and produced almost no trash in this time (this small list doesn’t even cover half of what they did). Just the dedication and optimism of this man amazed me. I try to do little things like use my Klean Kanteen instead of plastic bottles, use my Chico Bag at the grocery store when I can, and I ride my bike when the weather is good. This documentary made me realize that even with these little changes, the amount of waste humans produce is scary and disgusting. It is hard to make changes to that lifestyle and figuring it all out could take years in itself. I love this quote from the film: “The fact of the matter is that if only I change, it’s not going to make a difference, but the hope is that if each of us as individuals change, it’s going to inspire everybody to change. So I believe the most radical political act there is, is to be an optimist. The most radical political act there is, is to believe that if I change, other people will follow suit.” Towards the end of the film he talks about community and how things we do affect other people, not just us. It hit me that it’s true. So many people do things and say things and don’t think it is going to have an impact on anyone else but themselves. The truth is that everything we do has consequences.
Breathing? Eating? Sleeping? Working? Avoiding? Thinking? Wishing? Hoping? Wanting? Knowing? Not knowing? Drinking? Laughing? Smiling? Frowning?
What am I doing with my life?
Right now, you might be fine. You might not have any sort of mental problems, no emotional stress whatsoever. But someday you will. My meanest college professor told our class this, and she is right. It may not be you who develops a mental health disorder, or who has emotional stress, but it may be a loved one. You may need to be there for someone when they are working through their problems. This is why I think mental health awareness is very important. It is also important to check on your own mental health. I’m not saying go to a therapist annually to make sure everything is running smoothly upstairs. Simply check up on yourself, don’t spread yourself too thin. Remember to take “you” days. Do things that relax you, even for ten minutes. It is much easier to take this time and keep yourself healthy than to break down altogether. I like to remind myself and others that the human mind is extremely fragile. The sticks and stones saying isn’t true. Words hurt. Be kind to others, you never know how badly your words might hurt someone.
A silly comment was made
A meaningless joke…
I smile at the imagery my mind has created.
It’s suddenly all that’s on my mind…
My heart races equally as my thoughts.
It wasn’t her…
It was me.
My mind and heart now pounded in confusion.
My thoughts now frantic
This is not who I am.
A good person is who I am.
With words far less eloquent than these…
My stomach burns with rage.
Desperate for understanding
Aching for the relief of being defended…
Doubled over in pain, I try to breathe.
My heart and mind continue to race
Now focused on the intense twisting of my abdomen
I make it home.
Horizontal on the couch
A pill is delivered.
The television absorbs my thoughts.
Body heavy and warm
Eyelids at half mass
These people know who I am.
My mind is no longer racing.
My body is relaxed.
Relief sets in…