Stress Less: Live More

Author: Gurpreet Sandhu

As a college student, I hear the phrase “I’m so stressed out!” so often that it no longer holds any true meaning. In a lot of cases, students wear their stress as a badge of honor, especially when exams roll by. Even in the working world, it is not uncommon for adults to take on an unhealthy amount of stress in order to meet deadlines and finish projects. In especially high stress environments, stress becomes a rallying point on which companies lay their foundation. Companies like Google even have sleep pods so that their employees can commit as many hours to their work as physically possible. But there are dangers to treating stress as an insignificant part of life.


The American Psychological Association began a survey in 2007 called Stress in America to see how adults rate their own stress levels. One trend in 2015 suggested that, on average, younger generations (particularly millennials) experience higher levels of stress than older individuals. Twenty-five percent of adults considers their own stress to be at an extreme level, rating themselves at an eight or more out of ten on the stress scale. However, the most telling statistic is that 42% of adults have experienced symptoms related to mental health as a direct result of their stress, the most common symptom of which is anxiety.

The study shows that stress has become a part of everyday life to the point that many don’t even consider it to be a health problem. But in reality, even moderate amounts of stress can have a negative impact on your long-term mental health. Ironically, personal health problems are considered to be one of the four most common sources of stress, ranking at 51% and following money (67%), work (65%), and family responsibilities (54%).

Abnormal amounts of stress have been linked to various neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, and other related health issues. Studies have shown that anxiety has strong ties to the onset of initial neurological symptoms. Common symptoms include nerve pains, lightheadedness, headaches, vision problems, and fatigue. In any case, it’s better to take action early on before the symptoms of extreme stress start to appear. Here are a few tips to reduce stress with very little time commitment.

  1. Express yourself – Finding a strong support network can help to ease the burden, and writing in a journal has been shown to reduce stress.
  2. Limit self-judgment – Negative thoughts have a way of manifesting themselves in your actions. Focusing on positive goals can reduce tension and help achieve goals.
  3. Limit the time that you spend multitasking – Switching from one task to another can sound beneficial, but it can also decrease productivity. You can prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed by focusing on one thing at a time.
  4. Know and accept your limits – You are human. There’s no getting around it. It’s okay to make mistakes, but dwelling on your flaws can bring on unnecessary stress.
  5. Practice relaxation techniques – Relaxation can lower blood pressure and pulse rates. Deep breathing and yoga are two very common methods, although massage therapy is also available for people who want to significantly lower their stress levels.
  6. Practice good nutrition and exercise – A diet rich in whole foods, fruits, and vegetables can help to lower stress, while physical activity can provide an outlet for frustration.
  7. Get a healthy amount of sleep – Students who get a good night’s sleep perform significantly better than those who are sleep deprived. It also assists in processing new information after you wake up.
  8. Make personal time each day – Finding a hobby, a new passion, or even making time for a nap can break down the clutter and provide you with a clear mind.
  9. Switch to decaf – Caffeine can lead to crashes throughout the day. However, if you are a heavier coffee drinker, it is recommended that you slowly wean yourself from it (reduce intake little by little) in order to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
  10. Try new scents – Certain scents have shown ties to reducing stress levels. Oils from plants such as bay, chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender, and rose are both common and have soothing effects.

Even if you feel that you have your stress levels under control, you still have the ability to help others improve their well-being. However, if you or someone you know is currently suffering from neurological symptoms, it is best to seek treatment soon from a medical professional. We at Plus One Foundation hope that you find success in reducing your stress levels.

2015 Stress in America” – American Psychological Association
Anxiety Causes Neurological Symptoms” – CalmClinic
Stress Reduction Tips” – University of New Hampshire
37 Stress Management Tips” – Reader’s Digest

Stroke Savior

Author: Olivia Madewell

Chances are, we all know at least one person who has had a stroke. Sometimes it is more distanced from us – perhaps a coworker’s aunt – and it’s easy to sign a card that is passed around the office and just forget about it. Other times, though, it is our own parent or grandparent, and we feel its acute effects.

The truth is that approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the United States alone. This is roughly one stroke every 40 seconds, each one impacting far more than just a single life. However, that’s not the end of the story. Every person has the potential to influence the outcome of a stroke and affect the lives around them for the better. How can you help?

1) Know the symptoms. Strokes symptoms tend to follow a pattern.

  • Speech – Strokes can affect both creating and comprehending speech. Attempts to speak may produce jumbled or slurred language, or there may be confusion when trying to understand another’s words.
  • Paralysis/Numbness/Weakness – Strokes can affect the face, arms, or legs, but often on just one side of the body. This symptom may appear suddenly.
  • Vision – Strokes can affect one or both eyes. This may be through blurring, blackness, or seeing double.
  • Headache – Strokes can affect the head by creating sudden or severe pain. Nausea may go along with a headache, varying from dizziness to vomiting to loss of consciousness.
  • Walking – Strokes can affect coordination and balance. This may present itself as stumbling and can overlap with the dizziness of a headache.

2) Take action. A common test for stroke is called F.A.S.T., comprised of four simple steps.

  • Face – Ask the person to smile. Watch for drooping on one side.
  • Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Watch for weakness in the forms of one arm dropping/drifting or degrees of immobility.
  • Speech – Ask the person to speak. Listen for slurring or other strangeness.
  • Time – Call 911 immediately if any of these signs are present.

Remember: It’s important to make note of the time at which symptoms are first noticed. This is important information for doctors to have for treatment. If symptoms disappear within several minutes, call 911 anyway. This could lead to full strokes or more damage later if left alone.

Increased medical speed and care in terms of treatment, as well as greater control of blood pressure, diet, and smoking, has helped to decrease the number of deaths from strokes by 30% in the last eleven years. While doctors will do all they can for stroke patients, population awareness is one of the greatest and most underappreciated factors in this number change.

The earlier strokes are recognized and action is taken, the better the chances of treatment preventing death and extensive damage. Strokes can shatter lives, so let’s each do what we can to keep the effects of strokes as minimal as possible for everyone.

If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, we at the Plus One Foundation are eager to help. Visit our website to see how we can support you on the road to recovery.

For more information on stroke symptoms and causes, please read Mayo Clinic’s article.

– “Stroke Signs and Symptoms” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
– “Signs and Symptoms of Stroke” – Johns Hopkins Medicine
– “Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Decline in Deaths from Heart Disease and Stroke — United States, 1900-1999” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
– “Stroke Statistics” – The Internet Stroke Center
– “Scientists Report Stroke Mortality is Decreasing” – Counsel & Heal
– “Stroke Deaths Steeply Decline in US” – Newsmax Health

Art as an Outlet

Author: Ali Roberts

When I was just entering middle school, my parents were getting a divorce. It was a difficult time for my family, and the added pressure of going into a new grade didn’t help. While I split time spent between my mother and father, I never felt completely whole at either one of their houses. While I was at my mom’s, I felt productive and semblances of accomplishment, whether it was things from school, or music. But I always felt a sense of loneliness and absence of fun. I felt like I wasn’t able to fully be myself and that I couldn’t express myself to the fullest. On the other hand, my time with my dad was always fun. We enjoyed each other’s company so much, but I felt a missing sense of guidance. I felt too free sometimes, felt like I was missing some of the more important lessons a child my age should learn.

ali-blog-1For a long time, I felt this way at both places, and school offered no outlet for me. Most people say middle school is a difficult time, and it certainly was the case for me. I kept myself busy with Jazz band and sports, but I felt like I was just getting swept away in the current. I fell into this mindless slump of going back and forth between my two homes and my two separate lives. I stopped taking care of myself. I didn’t find any joy or fun in sports anymore, and I stopped putting any care into how I dressed or did my hair. I felt trapped, in a way, and I didn’t know how to get out. I felt like this feeling of emptiness followed wherever I went, and I wasn’t able to shake it. I didn’t have any way of expressing myself until around 7th grade when I started to get interested in drawing.

When growing up, nearly every child will, at some point, draw, whether it’s at school or at home. Back then, it was just another activity for me to do, the same as playing with toys or reading. But those who continue to do it later on in life find that it has other “effects” on someone.

When I started drawing in middle school, I found a strange sense of accomplishment and pride in creating something entirely unique. Now that I’m older, I’ve found that art allows me to not only express myself but also to expel negative emotions that I feel.

See, when I draw it feels almost like a state of meditation.

I feel myself confined only to the small space I inhabit, while simultaneously being extremely aware of what is in front of me. Drawing is a skill, like anything else, and while some are more adept at it than others, it requires practice like anything else. The key aspect that really made it for me, though, was that drawing practice was fun. Whether I was drawing something from my head or doing exercises I found online, I was always enjoying myself. Anytime I felt down or alone, I just started to draw and I found my escape.

ali-blog-2This is something everyone needs to find. That thing that can make you happy, truly happy, just from doing it. I think often people worry about what others think and have an idea of what should really make people happy, but the truth is that you can pay attention to that. If you find something you enjoy, be it art, dance, singing, or sports, make sure you find it and stick with it. For me, drawing started as something I did to relax and energize myself, and it has been amazing to see the progression in not only my art skills but also my level of happiness. Finding a hobby that has made me happy has allowed for me to care for myself in other factors like health and fitness and allowed for improvement in my other interests.

In my time at the Plus One Foundation, I’ve seen how others can grow in the same way I did, through art. I’ve felt the effects firsthand, but it feels miraculous to see others also experience the joy and benefits from it as well. And now, I feel so fortunate to be able to use those same art skills I’ve developed to be able to help such a wonderful cause that is aiding people get the same care and activity that I got. Being able to do something I love and help a great cause at the same time is the best feeling in the world. Our clients who use art as therapy know firsthand the effects of how art, or really any activity that you love, can change your mindset and feelings on everything around you for the better.

Not everyone finds joy in art, but something out there in the world will surely make you happy. Just make sure you take the time to look for it, because it can do more good for you than you think.


September is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

The beginning of September marks the month of world awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease around the world. In 2016, it is estimated that around 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, with the majority being age 65 and older. Alzheimer’s effects not only those diagnosed with the disease but also their families and friends. In honor of raising Alzheimer’s awareness this month, here are some interesting things to know about the disease.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Plaque develops in the spaces between nerve cells, limiting the communication between the cells, which results in a decreased cognitive function. Proteins that channel chemical messages inside the nerve cells deform and tangle which leads to the loss of these nerve cells. There are three general stages to Alzheimer’s: mild, moderate, and severe. In the mild stage, people with Alzheimer’s can independently function but may have trouble remembering words, names, places, or objects. In the moderate stage, people with Alzheimer’s may confuse words, become frustrated or angry, act in odd ways, and have difficulty expressing thoughts and performing everyday tasks. In the severe stage, people with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty communicating, have changes in personality, need extensive help and care, and lose the ability to control movements. Within these three stages there are many more symptoms that can occur.

Some facts about Alzheimer’s disease

  • Twice as many women have Alzheimer’s as men do
  • Early onset Alzheimer’s can start in people as young as age 30
  • Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States
  • Every 68 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
  • Alzheimer’s has only been discovered since 1906

Where can you find support?

For people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, there are free and local support groups that are designed to provide emotional and social support. There are also free and local support groups for caregivers and family members that are educational but also emotionally supportive.

Check out our website to learn more and see how we’re making a difference.

Alzheimer's disease concept

Although Alzheimer’s is a tragic and horrific disease, there are many people out there that are affected by it because it is so common. The most important thing to remember is you are never alone and there is always help available for you.

Aquatic Therapy for Traumatic Brain Injuries

By: Megan Brodsky

aquatic therapy

Last week we held our annual Mermaid Event Fundraiser created in honor of Mary McKillop, a friend of Kacey’s who swam together at the Seattle Public Swimming Pools. Mary passed away in 2010, but her generous and giving spirit never left. The Mary ‘Mermaid’ McKillop Fund was created and the Mermaid Fundraiser as well. The Fundraiser helps provide more people with access to aquatic therapy, which has shown many benefits for brain injury rehabilitation.

What is aquatic therapy?

Similar to physical therapy done on land, individuals with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and other neurological injuries, diseases, and disorders who participate in aquatic therapy have the ability to exercise in water. The reason aquatic therapy is so useful for people with TBIs and other neurological injuries, diseases, and disorders is because many are unable to exercise on land due to loss of balance or fear of falling, but the buoyancy of water allows them to do so comfortably. Aquatic therapy patients are relieved of most of their body weight when exercising in water, which helps their ability to complete exercises they would otherwise could not do on land.

What are the benefits of aquatic therapy?

One specific benefit of aquatic therapy is the hydrostatic pressure that exists in water. Hydrostatic pressure is the force applied on the body when in water by fluid molecules. Essentially, this makes it so the patient can get the benefits of hydrostatic pressure just by going in the water, with no exercise required. Hydrostatic pressure reduces pain and increases range of motion. It also helps blood circulation throughout the body.

Being in the water gives a feeling similar to compression socks for individuals going through rehabilitation. This provides equal pressure throughout the body and also works the respiratory system harder. This allows the muscles engaged in the respiratory system to tone up without strenuous activity.

Along with the physical benefits of aquatic therapy, it has also shown helping psychosocial areas. Aquatic therapy helps reduce stress and anxiety, increase concentration abilities, strengthen one’s confidence, enhance one’s well-being, and help find a calm center and relax.


aquatic therapy 2

Aquatic therapy has shown multiple benefits for individuals with traumatic brain injuries and other neurological injuries, diseases, and disorders from physical to emotional areas. Aquatic therapy is a unique experience in that the patient has the ability to exercise without the strain caused by physical therapy on land. Not only does it help patients improve their range of motion but also gives them a feeling of confidence they may have lost.

Investing in Yourself and The Path to Happiness

By: Megan Brodsky


One of the greatest feelings a person can know is the fulfillment of progress and improvement. For those who have suffered from traumatic injuries, it is arguably most important to recuperate and advance their debilitated functions. There have been endless developments in therapeutic treatments, from music and dance to exercise therapy. But what has been taken for granted and easily glanced over is the self-impression we have of ourselves. The impact we have on how we feel about ourselves is so immense and strong it can undoubtedly change the way we go through our lives, especially when it comes to dealing with injuries and recoveries.
Working at a salon, I have seen how a simple hair style can change the way one looks at his or herself. There is no question the best part of my job is seeing the glow on clients’ faces when they leave with that extra boost of confidence from our services. It seems silly, but the reality is that everyone needs to feel that satisfaction in themselves. To some, it may seem superficial to give the way you look such power over how you feel about yourself, but to others, it is much needed self-appreciation. Investing in ourselves is something I have learned to be very important for one’s happiness. Doing things for ourselves that make us happy is so crucial to living our lives to the fullest. It do12383577_453694364823802_1786089101_nesn’t have to be changing our physical appearances, but simply anything that makes us feel good inside. It is especially important to give ourselves things to look forward to and feel good about when we are going through rough times in life. I used to be so concerned with what other people thought about me and the things I do that give me a boost of confidence and make me happier. However, I have learned that the only person whose opinion matters on the subject is my own. If there is someone or something stopping you from investing in yourself, take a step back and look at who is really benefitting from it – because it’s most likely not you, which is all who matters when it comes to your happiness, right? I cannot stress enough how important it is for each of us to be fully satisfied with the lives we live and to go to bed at night truly happy with who we are. It has personally taken me a while to get to that point, but with a little self-investment, my outlook on myself and my life has only gotten better and more positive.

So for those of you who are having a hard time feeling fully satisfied with what life has given you, I strongly encourage you to go out and find something that brings you pure joy. Though it may be hard to override the opinions of others, listen to yourself and only then will you be able to really understand what you need in your life to feel whole. Now go out there and be inspired – read a book, take a yoga class, or get your hair done!


Exercise Therapy and Neurogenesis: The Road to Recovery

By Jack Stimson    Feb 25, 2016


When neurons were first discovered to be individual units, linked through electrical and chemical signals, no one thought that new neurons could be reproduced in adulthood. Essentially, the belief was that you were born with the maximum neurons you would ever have and they would slowly decrease in number as we aged. As technology advanced, however, this viewpoint changed. We now know that the reproduction of neurons (neurogenesis) is possible in the adult brain and that it serves many functions that benefit us on a day-to-day basis.

Exercise Therapy and Neurogenesis

One of the most prominent findings regarding neurogenesis is the beneficial interaction of exercise on the neurogenesis process. The primary studies that I read use evidence of brains that have undergone radiotherapy treatment (to eradicate brain tumors) to indicate how the effects of exercise altered the production of new neurons. They showed that even in a significantly inhospitable environment, such as a brain that has been damaged by radiotherapy, neurogenesis could be restored to pre-radio therapy levels through exercise therapy.

This increase in neurogenesis is great and all, but what exactly does this mean for the body? Well, newly created neurons use their connections with the hormonal-endocrine pathway to help reduce and regulate stress levels throughout the body. They have also been found to increase/maintain memory ability, which we know can decrease dramatically. On a side note, memory tasks are often used as the main measure of cognitive performance and so by engaging in exercise therapy you are basically maintaining your cognitive abilities (read: you basically get smarter).

Neurogenesis also aids in the production of glia cells, which serve numerous roles in the brain and actually make up 50% of the neurons within the brain. Although their role is often understated, they are extremely important to our functioning and without them we would die. That being said, glia cells maintain our blood brain barrier, which acts as a buffer between the blood and what makes it into our brain. It is extremely important because we can’t just let any old substance get into our brains!

Neuro 1

This figure above shows a blood brain barrier that isn’t doing such a good job of keeping things out of the brain. Neurogenesis, however, has been shown to aid/repair the blood brain barrier through the production of new cells, thus keeping weird junk out of our brains.


Exercise therapy is incredibly beneficial to those recovering from any sort of brain injury or neurological condition due to its positive effect on neurogenesis. Even just getting up from your desk and walking around can have huge benefits on not only your mood but cognitive abilities as well. If you don’t know where to start, we at Plus One would love to help you achieve your goals and make new neurons!