Can you guess the highest health endangering-behavior of U.S. High School Students?
Drinking alcohol? Yes, a risky and illegal under-aged behavior scoring at 45%, but not the most health-endangering.
Using marijuana? Yes, commonly used among teens but only coming in at 22% of U.S. high school students.
Smoking cigarettes you say? Yes, unhealthy and typical peer-pressure-type behavior rating at 22% of U.S. high school students.
Not enough exercise? Yes, a major issue, especially as high school students are communicating more on social media or via video games rather than outdoors in pick-up games or in skating rinks - 33%. Tying at 33% are high school students who got into a physical fight.
Thirty-seven percent (37%) failed to use a condom during their last sexual encounter while 47% are engaging in sexual intercourse.
The riskiest health-endangering behavior of U.S. high school students was not eating enough fruits and vegetables at an alarming rate of 78%. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/
Harmless, it seems, compared to abusing drugs, having unprotected sex, or getting into fights (Psychsmart, 2012).
Nutrition ranks #1 on the list of major health-promoting behaviors. Nutrition consists of eating a balanced, low-fat diet with appropriate caloric intake and maintaining a healthy body weight. Ranking a close second is exercise; at least thirty minutes of aerobic exercise, five days per week. Lowering blood pressure, #3, can be managed by adhering to a healthy diet (#1) and following a consistent exercise routine (#2) if medicine is not necessary. Limiting alcohol to no more than two drinks per day and abstaining from using drugs comes in fourth. Not smoking is number five; avoiding sleep deprivation and providing for periods of relaxation every day, number six; practicing safe sex to avoid unplanned pregnancy comes in at seventh while curbing dangerous driving habits, using seat belts, minimizing sun exposure, and foregoing dangerous activities all rest in the ninth category of reducing risk. Stress management is the tenth source promoting health. Although is appears at the bottom of the chart, learning how to manage daily stress and lowering levels of hostility is a major factor in keeping a positive mind set, leading to greater self-esteem and greater focus on self-care and health-promoting behavior.
Daily hassles are a normal part of life. Tension, conflict, apprehension, and worry are factors in each developmental stage of life and some stress may be healthy in motivating us towards achieving goals. However, if we remain unaware of our feelings for too long, suppressing our anger or ignoring our fears, feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness grow, and can lead to sickness and disease like one of the most common mental problems in the world: Depression. In an uncertain world full of violence, death of a spouse or a child is becoming eerily more common due to natural disasters or acts of senseless violence like terrorism. Divorce, the second highest-ranking cause of stress is rising at an alarmingly high rate in the United States. Losing a job ranks number five and is yet another painful reality in our struggling economy. An out-of-work parent may be forced to move creating stress for the family due to a change in living conditions (ranked #25), changing residence (#26), and changing schools (#31). Unresolved stress is causing all kinds of psychosomatic conditions like respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, headaches, backaches, and insomnia (Psychsmart, 2012).
Since change is the only constant in life, stress management is necessary for reducing stress and improving coping skills. Progressive relaxation is an effective way for producing deep relaxation throughout the body by progressively tightening all the muscles in an area and then relaxing them. Guided imagery is helpful and beneficial for overcoming stress as it uses visualizing images to calm the mind and body. Positive coping statements or affirmations can help control fear and anxiety and combat negative self-statements that are producing anxiety and lowering performance. Coping statements take practice in order for them to become more natural. With persistent determination, positive affirmations can effectively stop negative self-statements, creating a shift in perception. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm
Happy people have high self-esteem, have a firm sense of control, are optimistic, and like to be around other people. High stress levels and an inability to cope with daily stress makes happiness difficult, if not impossible. Who feels like eating vegetables when we're emotionally unstable? Bring on the Big Mac, greasy fries, and whipped up Frappuccino!
Subliminal messages lurk everywhere and greedy businesses want us addicted, dependent, and believing that their product provides what we're looking for. It's no secret Corporate America does not have our best interests at heart. Real happiness must come from within, requiring the clarity of mind to outsmart the manipulators, to step out from the drama. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/etc/producers.html
So where do we turn to escape the noise and combat the stress? We can start by tuning out of manipulative mainstream media and tuning in to our bodies for receiving our messages. http://www.louisehay.com/i-listen-to-my-bodys-messages/
Try this: lie on your back on the floor with knees slightly bent and feet planted firmly on the ground. Relax, breathe, and allow gravity to do the work. Starting from the feet, let's scan our bodies for tension. What's your body saying? Where are you blocked? Where do you feel pain? What do you need to do? Scanning allows us to get in touch with where the body is holding our "stuff;" it keeps score and it knows best. A body scan in the morning and once again before going to bed can keep us on top of our game. Feeling more in control can help develop a more positive outlook, a willingness for introspection, and an openness to self love and self care. Feeling more aligned, we may even turn to others . . . social support from friends and family can make all the difference. Reach out. Talk to a counselor. https://www.counseling.org/ Make a list of concerns before visiting a health-care provider. Be courageous, take action, and . . . don't forget your veggies!