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Community Corner: A dose of positivity

by Liz_ReachOut Community, Health, Mental Health, Moods

The Power of Positvity

I am continually amazed by the power of positivity and how our community members manage to hold onto it in the face of adversity. Here are 3 recent quotes from ReachOutHere forum members who have been through tough times, from drug addiction to depression, and chosen to share their experiences and help others through.

Take 2 minutes to join the ReachOutHere forums today and either get the support support you deserve, or make the tough times count by giving support to others who need it.

"Hey everyone!  I'm still fairly new to reachout and as I read different topics in the forums it really does sadden my heart to see how much a lot of people are really hurting inside, it also gets me angry to see in some people's stories they describe how people tease, bully or make them feel like a "freak" because they are going through whatever they're going through. Just remember no matter what your going through no matter what anyone tells u or says YOU are a fantastic individual no matter if you are gay, straight, bi, male or female, young or old, or race. Nothing is impossible if you dream it you can do it! Never let anyone tell you that you cant! Also never let anyone belittle any of your problems anything that affects you mentally, emotionally or physically needs to be addressed immediately no matter how big or small a problem may be. Nothing is worth jeopardizing you're happiness! Try and stay focused everyone I know it can be hard but I know you guys can do it! You'll have your good and bad days like we all do. What separates us from others is the ones that gave up and the ones that fell but got right back up =) keep showing the world you're smile! I guarantee you eventually you'll give the world no choice but to smile back" (RicanSurvivor) 

"New to the scene and full of optomism. Hey ladies and gents my name is Joshua. I just joined this site for multiple reasons: 1) Sometimes I feel like no one understands me and I am sure there are others who feel the same way; I am here to open up and listen to anyone who needs it and I hope that can be reciprocated, 2) Sometimes it is a good thing to just vent your feelings without worry of offending someone or being judged by others, and 3) I finally want to be able to let my guard down with other people who may come into my life so that I can once again be the person that I know I am To everyone on this site, if you ever have a problem that you need help on or need someone to listen to, I am here. I will try to help everyone that I can because I believe the only way we can help ourselves, is to help everyone else first!" (collinsje09)

"One of the things I have learned from having depression is that time is one of the best healers. If today is the worst day of your life, then you can be proud of yourself at the end of the day for getting through it.  And I don't think anything is wrong with you at all! The road to getting better is bumpy at times; some days and weeks will be better, and some worse. It takes time to learn how to deal with depression, but I promise, it will pay off. I know you can do this."  (Dragonrider)

Join now or login here.

‘Forever Alone’ on February 14?

by RO_Meredith Moods, Relationships

Let's face it. Valentine's Day can be hard to ignore. If you're single, it might make you feel sad, lonely or simply excluded. We get it and we're here to help. Today, we're reposting a blog from ReachOut Council member Brandon. Find out how he addresses the common challenges and how he plans to navigate the holiday. 

Walking past the Valentine’s Day section at the store can be really depressing when you feel have no one to celebrate it with. Sometimes you may feel like you’ll never find anyone, that you'll end up like the popular internet meme, “Forever Alone.” My name’s Brandon, and just like many other teens, I will be spending this holiday alone. It’s totally understandable why we get ourselves bummed out. There are the cards, flowers, chocolate, and fancy dates. And for some of us, it's just about feeling wanted. Well, when next week rolls around, try to gain a different perspective on the holiday. I know I have.

Although the history of the holiday has been masked by greeting card companies, it can generally be described as a day where you show your appreciation for loved ones. How we interpret "loved ones" is completely up to us. It could be your boyfriend/girlfriend, or it could be a family member, a friend, or anyone really. Instead of us focusing on how we don’t have the former, we should take that time and thank our friends and family for how much they mean to us and how much we love them.

Here are some valid (and some comical) reasons why being single can be beneficial:

- You can concentrate on doing things you enjoy. You don’t have to worry about pleasing someone else, so you can focus on yourself. Maybe finish reading that book you’ve always wanted to read or start up a new activity.

- Your decisions only affect you and don’t involve a partner's wants, needs or contradictory opinion. If you want to go to a certain restaurant, go for it. You have no one holding you back, no one you have to consult with first.

- You can save a lot of money. Let’s face it, relationships cost a lot of money. The dates, the presents, the clothes to look good, the gas money; it all adds up. When you’re, single you get to keep it all for yourself.

And when February 14 does roll around next week, here are some ideas thought up by all of us at ReachOut of what you can do instead:

"Make a date with friends!" –Chloe

"Buy those corny little kid valentines for your friends. It's not just a celebration of romantic love!"–Catherine

"Give your parents or best friend flowers and tell them how much you love them! Do something nice for yourself!" –Nich

"Do a nice thing and baby sit for a couple that can't get out that night because of kids." –Catherine

"Have a’ Single’s Awareness’ party with your friends where you just hang out, eat, and most importantly, have fun." - me

So just remember, no matter how you spend your Valentine’s Day this year, remember that you ARE loved by more people than you know, and just because you haven’t found the ‘right’ guy or girl yet, doesn’t mean you won’t!

Finally, you can check out these fact sheets and real stories that may also help you get through the holiday:

I'm single and I'm happy
Having difficulty finding the right person for you
Overcoming loneliness
Boys are confusing
Focus on who you are

Photo by Mandy Sousa

How do you plan to celebrate (or not!) Valentine's Day single or with your sweetie?

About Brandon
My name is Brandon. I am 17 years old and am currently a junior in high school. When I am not occupied with my part-time job or on my social networks (Facebook, Twitter, & Tumblr), I find myself active in National Honor Society, Rotary Interact, and Big Brothers Big Sisters all through my school. Outside of school, I volunteer at our local food pantry, am a student election judge, and am a worship leader at my church.  I look forward to helping those who are going through things similar to what I did, and to help then realize: I’ve been there. I’ve made it through. And I am now stronger than I ever thought I was before.

Oh Snap! ReachOut is on Instagram

by RO_Meredith Moods

In today's blog, Sara, one of the Peer Supporters behind the new @REACHOUTUSA feed on Instagram, shares how she got started sharing the insta #inspiration and why you should follow us today! 

If you’re like me, you spend a good amount of your down time looking at your phone, browsing through the latest posts uploaded to Instagram. Since I joined the photo-based social network, I’ve used it to connect with friends and family, but I also use it to follow those who post to inspire. I use it to find "feel-good" inspiration, especially when I’m feeling under the weather or need an extra boost to get into a cheerful mood.   

That’s why when I became a ReachOut Peer Supporter earlier this summer at a three-day training seminar, I hoped to find ReachOut on the app. It seemed like a natural way to connect with people who struggle like myself. Similar to the forums and the other social networks ReachOut is on, I thought it would be helpful to connect with a community that can relate and lift each other up.

When I discovered that there was no such thing as ReachOut Instagram, I knew I had to change that. So now, with the help and support of the amazing staff at ReachOut and some of my fellow Peer Supporters, I am excited to say that we are officially on Instagram!! 

What to Expect from ReachOut on Instagram

We want to create a place for you to feel supported and loved.  You’ll find anything from a positive quote to brighten your day to a funny animal picture that I can almost guarantee will make you crack a smile! And you better bet we’ll be throwing out hashtags left and right!

How to Find Us

It’s easy!

  1. If you have a smartphone and haven’t already, download the Instagram app.
  2. Search REACHOUTUSA and there we are!! Make sure to click the blue “follow” button. You can also find us online: http://instagram.com/reachoutusa
  3. Like and regram Away! 

And there you go! Get ready for daily doses of inspirational awesomeness.

About Sara
Hi all! My name is Sara, and I am entering my senior year of college as a nursing major. I feel lucky to be involved in a community of people that are open to sharing their struggles as well as their successes. The support that is given and received through ReachOut constantly amazes me! Quick personal fact: I love to explore! Whether it be hiking or trying out a new restaurant, I'm always open to new adventures.

ReachOut @ YTH Live 2013

by RO_Meredith Moods

swag from ythWhat do you get when you combine sex education with the power of technology? ReachOut Social Media Content Developer Erica Thompson and ReachOut California Director Nicola Survanshi found out last week at the YTH Live 2013 Conference hosted at the Stanford Court Renaissance Hotel here in San Francisco. In today's guest post, Erica, who is also a college student and aspring social worker, reflects on some of the memorable presentations and takeaways from the event. Be sure to check out her bio below!

Last week, ReachOut California Director Nicola Survanshi and I had the honor of attending YTH Live 2013, an annual conference hosted by YTH, short for Youth+Tech+Health. The multi-day event brings together health and technology professionals from all over the world in an effort to promote the advancement of sexual health education in young people. 

On the first day, I attended the panel “Reality TV (Not): Student Documentary and Teen Parent Panel.”  In this panel, the audience was treated to two brief digital documentaries about teenage mothers created by two California high school students followed by a question and answer session with the filmmakers The young mothers tried to dispel the inaccurate portrayals and glamorization of teen moms on shows like MTV’s “Teen Mom” or “16 and Pregnant” by sharing a more realistic narrative based in the struggles and triumphs of raising their own babies.  The young mothers expressed the negative stigma associated with teen moms as being characterized as “careless” or “irresponsible.”  The young mothers also expressed how sex can be healthy and natural as long as it is done with safety precautions, such as using birth control like condoms. 

Listening to their moving stories challenged my assumption that all the mothers were not taking birth control before getting pregnant.  To my surprise, Karla, one of the mothers confessed she was actually on birth control, but because she started taking antibiotics for a kidney infection the birth control no longer worked. It was a memorable lesson that one should always be knowledgeable about how medications may affect, or even counteract, their birth control method.

The following day started bright and early with breakfast in the foyer. Both Nicola and I attended the “Finding Communities on Facebook” session where we learned how advertising on Facebook has proven cheap and effective in engaging with a specific demographic, such as youth between ages 16-24.  Matthew Prior from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health talked about how Facebook advertisements enabled Take Control Philly, a mail-order condom program, to attract thousands of 13-19 year olds to get free condoms and practice safer sex.  Each advertising campaign cost roughly around $3,000 and lasts for two weeks.  After their first advertising campaign, Take Control Philly was able to increase Facebook followers from 200 to 2,000! As a social media content developer, this breakout session gives me hope that ReachOut can attract more traffic to the website if we invest in things like Facebook campaigns and other creative endeavors.

Tuesday marked the last day of the conference with a diverse array of breakout sessions and a closing theatrical performance called Secrets sponsored by Kaiser Permanente. Weaving in humor, drama, and music, the performance reinforced the importance of not giving into peer pressure when it comes to sex and the benefits of abstinence in STI prevention.

We were proud to represent ReachOut and Inspire USA at the YTH Live Conference and are looking forward to attend next year. 

For more information on sexual health, check out these fact sheets: 

Thinking about having sex
Intro to stds
Taking care of your sexual health
A girl's guide to sex myths
A
 guy's guide to sex myths

About Erica
ericaMy name is Erica Thompson, and I’m 20 years-old. I’m biracial: half African-American and half Chinese.  I've lived in the Bay Area all my life.  I enjoy gardening, learning new languages, and dancing.  Currently, I am studying at Laney College and dream of becoming a social worker. I want to work with foster care children and the homeless.  I am a Certified WRAP  (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) facilitator.  One of the key elements of WRAP is that there are no limits to your recovery from mental illness. I have a little niece named Atinuke TingTing Taiwo who is beautiful and speaks Mandarin.

Photo courtesy of Eventifier

Chilling Out: A Summer Survival Guide

by RO_Meredith Moods

girl sitting in the sunToday's blog comes from Youth Council Member Meredith who shares some handy tips for cooling down your mind, body and spirit this summer. Be sure to check out her bio below!

Summer is in full swing, which means temperatures are spiking everywhere. The last two months have seen some record highs for the United States especially, making it difficult to enjoy time off from school, work, and other obligations that accompany the school year. What should be a relaxing time of year instead becomes a stressful chore—always applying sunscreen, staying as hydrated as possible, and doing all we can to keep cool. So, what are some other ways to stay comfortable in the excruciating heat?

Cut back on carbonated beverages. They might seem to quench your thirst, but often they spike your blood sugar and dehydrate you worse than if you hadn’t had a drink at all. Reach for water instead—it might not taste the best, but it will truly hydrate you. Also, don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water! A dry mouth is a sign that you are already dehydrated. Drink water to avoid dizzy spells and health issues!

Place a tray or bowl of ice in front of a fan and let it blow toward you. This is a good tip if it's hot but not super humid in your region. That way, you’re not just fanning hot air around the room! Conserve the air by keeping windows and doors closed, and spray yourself with cold water if you can. It’s always smart to keep a glass of water and a spray bottle of water by your bed at night to avoid overheating and cramps.

Fill a cotton sock or shirt with rice, tie it closed, and store it in the freezer for a couple of hours. The homemade cooling pack becomes another overnight heat-reducer! Stick it between the sheets while you sleep, and enjoy the chill.

Keep the computer on low-power or sleep mode when you walk away from it for more than 15 minutes at a time. Also, make sure to shut down your computer at night so that it doesn’t continue to provide heat to the area around it—and around you!

Skip the dry cycle on your dishwasher and hand dry your dishes to reduce hot air. And whether pitching in with chores or just hanging around the house, skip wearing shoes. This will help you cool down from the feet up!

Wear sunscreen and always reapply, even if the label says it is waterproof. That doesn't mean it's sweat-proof, and you will sweat in these temperatures. But also remember that it’s okay to sweat; sweating is your body’s natural cooling system.

Take deep breaths before getting angry, especially in the heat when you might be feeling more irritable. Scientists and doctors have found direct links between heat and stress. Stopping to take a few deep breaths will help you calm down and cool down at the same time.

So keep cool, keep breathing, and stay healthy!

For more advice on how to stay healthy year-round, check out these pages:
Benefits of activity and exercise
Eating well and feeling healthy
Anxiety

About Meredith
My name is Meredith, and I was born in Kansas City, Missouri.  I spent half of my childhood in Sacramento, CA, and then moved back to KC, where I have been immersed in the NFL and NBA because of my parents’ jobs.  I graduated from the University of San Diego a year and a half early with a Communication Studies degree, and am back in the KC area taking a break from life and working part-time for a beauty store.  I have a twin sister and a younger brother, as well as a “puppy” named Kali.  I love to write, act, sing, and go on silly little adventures with my friends.  Music is my life.  I enjoy scrapbooking, home improvement projects, and am a very creative person in general.  I can’t wait to make an impression on the ReachOut community and to be inspired by all of you!

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