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Spotlight Blog 3: Option 1

We all face peer pressure in life. From small, meaningless things to big life decisions, we feel pressure from others to make a certain decision. A lot of times, the decision that others want you to make may not be the best one. For this reason, people need ways to deal with peer pressure. There are a lot of tips on the internet for dealing with peer pressure for all different kinds of audiences. For this post, I chose tips for college students, high school students, and athletes.

The first website I found was bestcollegereviews.org. Their first suggestion was to find a group of students that are focused on school. This is definitely a good first step. Surrounding yourself with the right people is very important. If your friends have the same values as you, it will go a long way towards not feeling peer pressure. Not everyone has the same values though, and even if you find a group of friends that are focused on school, stuff happens and you could still find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Whether it is alcohol, drugs, sex, or something else, you might need a way to deal with pressure. The website says to say “thanks, but no thanks” to offers to do something you are not comfortable with. If that does not work, politely leave the situation. Finally, if neither of those work, get in contact with an adult you trust. I think these tips work in an ideal world and should usually work but sometimes people will keep pressuring you. In that situation, being all nice about it will not really work. You should be firm or even get aggressive. It might not be the best for your relationship with that person but it will get you out of that situation. Getting out of the situation is usually the best way to deal with peer pressure.

The next website was 6 tips for dealing with peer pressure in high school. It is by teens.drugabuse.gov. I read through it and it really was not tips. The article was more of excuses to give people so you avoid drinking or doing drugs. These are good to have but they’re nowhere near perfect. People will eventually pick up on the excuses and one of two things will happen. Either you get left alone or pressured more. In the case that you get left alone, then the excuses did their job. But sometimes people will keep pressuring you. The website does not really give any tips for if you find yourself in this situation. If that situation does come up, it is probably best to follow the tips from the first website and politely leave.

My final website was tips for dealing with peer pressure for athletes. Peer pressure for athletes is a little different than regular peer pressure. It comes more as pressure to perform. This pressure can affect your performance positively or negatively depending on how you handle it. Their first tip is to reframe the pressure. Instead of seeing it as negative, see it as positive. This change in perception is huge. It puts you in a much better mindset which will go a long way towards performing better. They then say to reduce external and internal sources of pressure. Parents, coaches, and for some athletes, reporters can put a lot of pressure on. The website suggests that you talk to them about it. A lot of times, your parents and coaches do not know they are putting pressure on you and talking to them and letting them know will get them to stop. You also put pressure on yourself to perform. The website advises that you let it push you to perform better. Their next tip is to know the symptoms of pressure. If you can recognize the pressure, you can start to deal with it. The first step is knowing it’s there. Their next tip is to use the pressure in your training. Knowing you have a big game coming up can push you to work harder to get ready. This can be really good for you but it could also spell disaster if you overdo it. You have to make sure you are using the other methods of dealing with pressure, not just training. So many athletes have gotten hurt from pushing themselves too far while getting ready for a big game. Their last tip was to make a checklist. If you have a specific process that works for you, it is best that you write it down and follow it. Pressure could make us do some things that could harm our chances of success, having a checklist can keep you from doing something out of the ordinary.

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Week 15 First Impression: Option 2

At all points in life, you can never really know what someone is going through or dealing with. Mental illness can be sneaky like that. Someone seems fine on the outside but is really struggling on the inside. Thankfully, there are many organizations working to help people with mental illnesses get healthy again. One of those is Change Direction, a campaign supported by Michelle Obama. Their website shows some ways for people to keep good mental health, signs that someone may have a mental illness, what to do if someone is suffering, and some public service announcement videos. I think the campaign has a good chance to be successful. They give out clear, easy to follow steps for people to take in order to improve their mental health. They explain possible signs of a mental illness really well. In my opinion, the most important information they give are the ways to help those dealing with mental illness. A really close friend of mine at home was dealing with mental illness at one point. Along with the feeling of worry about my friend, there was this other feeling of having no idea what to do. They’re better now but at the time it was an awful feeling. Those tips would have gone a long way. I think the only real weakness of the campaign is that a lot of this is done on your own. I could see people checking in on themselves or others and just saying, “Oh, I’m fine” or “Oh, they’re fine” because they might be afraid of what it means if everything is not okay. Some college students will pay attention to this and some won’t. A lot of times, students just try to push through until they get a mental break. It’s not really healthy at all but with everything else you need to do in college it gets the job done. I think if Etown was to do a mental health campaign, they should model it after Change Direction. It would help the people who really need it.

Media Production Project

For over a century, neuroscience has believed that memories are stored in the synapse of neurons. This thinking has driven efforts to treat mental illnesses like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Alzheimer’s. Findings from a recent study could potentially shake up all of this. Scientists at UCLA have found evidence suggesting that memories are not actually stored in the synapse and could possibly be located in the nucleus of the neuron.

The study, led by David Glanzman, focused on neural activity in a mollusk called Aplysia after it was given pulses in its tail. The Aplysia were put into groups and given the pulses. Then, after 24 hours, they were either given more pulses, nothing at all, or a blockade that should prevent the memory from coming back. In order to find out whether the Aplysia still had the memories of the pulses and how strong they were, the scientists looked at the varicosities in the neuron’s synapse. Varicosities are areas that react to the pulses. Glanzman’s team then ran two more experiments; one with another blockade and one with a blockade and more shocks to see if a memory could be “brought back”. The expectation was that the amount of varicosities would go up with the amount of pulses and that the varicosities that were made by the pulses would stay there.

Surprisingly, not all of the scientists’ expectations were met. The Aplysia that received two rounds of shocks had more varicosities. Ones that received either the blockade or nothing kept the same amount. This was expected but what the scientists did not see coming was the varicosities not staying in the same place. Some new ones formed and ones that were there for the first measurement disappeared. The second experiment followed the same pattern and the third experiment gave Glanzman’s team another perplexing result. Even when the Aplysia were given the blockade, memories of the previous pulses could be triggered by more pulses. None of these findings were consistent with the accepted theory that memories were stored in the synapse. This led the scientists to believe that 100 plus years of thinking could possibly be wrong. Memories may not be stored in the synapse.

Now while these findings could mean big changes in neuroscience, the experiment does not allow for causal claims. Before anything can be set in stone, more testing must be done and testing must be done on the human brain. To the scientists’ credit, this was acknowledged and they said there would be more experimentation to come.

There is a long way to go before it can be proven that memories are not in the synapse but imagine the implications if it is. Treatment for PTSD and Alzheimer’s is based off of the thinking that memories are stored in the synapse. This could change everything about how these illnesses are handled. New, more effective treatments will come out for those suffering. People will get their lives back, families will get their loved ones back. And on the negative side, people will have thrown away loads of money based off of false thinking. If Glanzman and his team are correct, their findings have the power to change science.

 

 

Reflection:

This project gave me a lot of insight into what being a journalist really is. There is so much more that goes into writing an article that I previously thought. Along with just summarizing something, there are deadlines and restrictions. All of that just adds stress. For me, the words restriction was the hardest to overcome. The article I found was a little over 550 words and it seemed like there would not be a problem at all. Then I started typing and came up on my restriction pretty quickly. I had to go back and really make my word use more efficient and that was really hard. In the end, I was able to get all of the information I wanted in but there were some details left out in the process. Most of the information that was left out had to do with the procedure of the experiment. There were a lot of steps taken in each procedure. I felt like I could leave them out because they were not very controversial steps and I thought I was able to give the reader a good understanding of what was happening even without those steps. What the findings of the experiment meant were the most important to me and leaving out the steps in the procedure gave me the space I wanted to talk about the findings. This project has not really changed how I see journalism but it does give me a new respect for it. The writing itself is not that difficult but what did it for me was the decision making. You need to think long and hard about what you need the reader to see and how you can do that given your restrictions. I can honestly say I was not prepared for that aspect but working through it was pretty eye-opening.

 

Links:

Original Article:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/memories-may-not-live-in-neurons-synapses/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Scholarly Journal:

https://etown.instructure.com/courses/5871/files/996724?module_item_id=212156

 

Johari Window Blog

Our psychology class recently did a project where we created a Johari Window. Basically, you select 5 to 6 traits from this wall of about 40 that you think describe yourself the best. You then send it to other people and have them do the same. At the end, you have an idea of what people think of you. Selecting the traits that best describe myself was a weird process. It really made me look myself in the mirror and to be honest, it was a lot harder to see that I imagined. I wanted to pick traits that I believed described me but also that other people would believe described me. The results actually surprised me a little. I had ruled out some traits that I thought described me because I did not think others would feel the same way. As it turned out, when everyone else filled out my window, those traits that I had previously ruled out were the most popular ones. It was eye opening and it made me happy to know that people saw me as I thought I saw myself. I also felt a little stupid for doubting myself in the first place. This project taught me to believe in myself a little more and that I do a pretty good job of actually being the type of person I want to be. I’m not sure how valid of a test this is. Sometimes, people could just pick “good” traits and not actually reflect who someone actually is. When done properly though, it gives a really cool perspective. Despite what a lot of people, including myself, may say, we care about what others think. The Johari Window is a good tool to show that.

http://kevan.org/johari?view=benthorpe

Week 12 First Impression: Option 1

IAT tests can show bias that you are not aware of. I chose to take 2 of the online today and they were actually pretty cool. They were given to me at random and both ended up being about differences between men and women. The first was about the association between men and women, and sport and dance. Results showed that I have a strong automatic association of men with sports and women with dance. While consciously, I don’t really believe that sports are for boys and dance is for girls, I can see where the association comes from. I play sports with all boys, the sports I watch are all boys and even sports video games are all boys. I believe that is probably the basis for that association. The second test was about the association between men and women and leading and supporting. This time the test showed a slight automatic association of men with leading and women with supporting. This one made more sense to me than the first. When I saw the results, I thought of how I handle conflicts that come up. If something happened and I needed comfort or emotional support, I would go to my mom or a girlfriend. If I needed a solution or something fixed, I was going straight to my dad. I never really gave it too much thought but after taking that test, all of that made sense. I can see this being used for a lot of things. For college students, it could be used in making a decision to pick a major or minor. Maybe the student has an unconscious preference to one or the other that the test can show. It could have the same use in your career when it comes to picking jobs. If you ever become a boss you could use it to find certain unconscious biases of people in the workplace. For example, the test could be used to see if people have negative biases towards their bosses/managers. You could use that information to make the workplace a little more comfortable.

Spotlight Blog 2: Option 2

I’m at a point in life where I am surrounded by stress. In order to function, I need to be able to manage that stress in healthy ways. I chose to find stress management tips for 3 groups of people; college students, athletes, and people in the workplace. I am currently a college student and an athlete. Both can be extremely stressful at times and I want to know how to deal with it better. In the future, I plan on joining the workforce so I will need to know how to manage stress in that aspect too. For advice on managing stress as a college student, I found an article by everydayhealth.com with 10 tips for managing stress in college. The first tip they give is to get enough sleep. This is important because the body needs its rest. The article says to get from 7 to 9 hours of sleep. According to the information from class, you ideally want 7 and a half OR 9 hours of sleep. If your wake up in-between these two times, you could wake up in a deep sleep cycle and feel crappy. Their second tip is to eat well. They claim that eating junk food lowers your energy level which leads to you having less ability to deal with stress. I can agree with this from personal experience. When I eat a lot of junk food, all I feel like doing is laying in bed. Next, Everyday Health says to exercise. Exercise releases endorphins. These help you feel better especially when you are dealing with stressful times. They advise students to avoid unnatural energy boosters and relaxing with alcohol. We learned in class that things like the unnatural energy boosters can just be placebos sometimes. They are bad for your body and usually leave you in a worse place then you were to start. As for using alcohol; abuse of this substance can lead to addiction. If someone uses alcohol to cope with stress, there is a good chance of them becoming an alcoholic. They stress finding emotional support. Taking to friends, family, or school psychologists can help you reduce stress through a process called self-disclosure.  Another piece of advice Everyday Health gives is to not overload yourself and not give up on your passions. You need time to relax and if you overload yourself, the chance will never come. Also, doing something you love can reduce stress. For me, playing baseball makes all the stressful things I face go away. I can’t really imagine what I would do if I gave up on that and that seems like it applies to everyone. Finally, Everyday Health says to breathe and get a massage. We never really spoke about either in class, but they have always been talked about in connection to relaxation.

As I mentioned before, playing baseball makes all my stress go away. Unfortunately, there are a lot of stressful factors that go into actually being able to play. Everyday practices after class, weightlifting, keeping a healthy diet, preparing for games, and balancing your time leads to a lot of stress. Because of this, I looked to find tips on how to manage stress as a athlete. I found an article by Nova 3 Labs on stress tips for athletes. Their first three tips were also included on the list of stress tips for college students. First, they advised athletes to get enough rest. Just like in the Everyday Health article, they said to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. This is starting to look like a common misconception and they should watch out for this. The other three tips that Nova 3 Labs shared with Everyday health were engaging in fun activities, managing your time, and getting support. They again stress the important of having time to relax and doing things you love, and confiding in others to lower stress. The final tip is to check your attitude. This is sort of a form of mindfulness-based stress reduction. Staying positive and staying in the present will allow you to not focus or stress over things like a bad performance in the past or a challenge that lies ahead.

Once I graduate college, the stress will not stop. There are a lot of stressors around the workplace, including meeting deadlines and dealing with your bosses. I found an article from the American Psychological Association (APA) with tips to deal with stress in the workplace. Their first tip is to track your stressors. It’s important to know what your stressors are and how they work so you know how to handle them. They then say to develop healthy responses. Examples of this that they gave were exercise, get enough sleep, or do something you love; all things that the previous two articles touched on. The next tip is to establish boundaries and take time to relax. They suggest having set times where you are not doing anything work-related. This can go with the “leave time to relax” aspect that the previous articles talked about. It’s important to have this in your life because without it, there is no healthy escape from stress. After that, the APA says to learn how to relax. They support doing meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction activities. Both of which we know are healthy stress reduction activities. Just like the other two articles, the APA suggests finding support. Finally, they suggest talking to your supervisor. Supervisors want their employees to perform to the best of their abilities. This happens when everyone is healthy so if there is a problem, he or she will do what they can to help.

People always need ways to deal with stress. With the exception of sleep tips, I think that these three articles all give good, accurate advice and I will keep them in mind the next time I am dealing with stress.

 

https://www.everydayhealth.com/college-health/college-life-10-ways-to-reduce-stress.aspx

https://nova3labs.com/five-stress-management-tips-athletes/

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/work-stress.aspx

Week 10 First Impressions: Option 1

I would have to say that most of my intelligence, and probably a lot of people’s intelligence, comes from school. Interactions with teachers went a long way towards helping me build that intelligence. My interactions with teachers were usually good. I was quiet but I did my work, got good grades, and was never an issue. As a result, my teachers put more focus on others that were struggling but if I ever needed help with something, they were happy to lend a hand. That worked well for me. I liked being able to figure things out for myself before I go to someone else. Doing things on my own did lead to me not being as close to some of my teachers as others but I was okay with that. When I did interact with my teachers, it went well. They always tried to do what they could to help me with whatever I came to them with. This was exactly what I needed in order to learn as much as I could and perform academically.

While those methods worked for me, they do not work for every student. Everyone’s ideal environment for learning is a little different. To get students to learn and do well, teachers need to do their best to understand what that environment might be for each student. In order to do this, they need more time working as close to one-on-one with students as possible. Smaller class sizes could achieve this. The average class in my high school probably had 30 people in it; it can be hard to learn the specific preferences of 30 people. Cutting down on class size makes it easier for the teachers to learn that. Another thing to change could be the curriculum. In Pennsylvania, we have these tests called the keystones. They suck, they’re stupid, and I spent a ton of time in class just learning how to do well on those tests. Instead of designing the curriculum to get students to perform well on standardized tests like that, make the emphasis on trying to make sure students are really learning the material. I think making those changes could help schools improve the performance of their students.