Being a Gymnast

Author: Catherine Bennion

As a semi-serious gymnast, I can easily say that there is no other relief like the relief that comes from exercise. There are few feelings greater than reaching a goal that I have been working towards for a while, or leaving a good workout feeling proud and accomplished. Being in school, I often go to practice after a long and stressful day and the last thing I want to do is exercise. It seems like too much, and a waste of time when I could be doing other things to reduce stress. Though after practice, I always leave feeling accomplished and free of stress, and exercise was a great distraction for all of the many other things going on in my life. This is because exercise triggers the release of chemicals in your body such as serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, dopamine. These chemicals dull pain, release stress, and make you happier. Not only will exercise make you feel better, but exercising even just once a week is great for your physical health.

Not only is exercise good for your physical health, but it is overwhelmingly great for your brain as well. Increased level of exercise are linked to decreases in depression, better memory, and faster learning. Additionally, recent studies have shown that exercising is the best way to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Though it is not clear why, scientists know that exercise changes the structure of the brain for the better. It increases blood flow to the brain which helps to promote the growth of new brain cells. It also triggers the release a protein in the brain called BDNF that triggers the growth of new neurons and helps to mend and protect the brain from regeneration.

I have been doing gymnastics for 12 years now and I can easily say that I have never regretted going to practice, though I have regretted not going. Exercise is one of the best releases for stress, as well as improving self-esteem and making you feel great! Next time you have an hour to spare, consider doing something active; go for a run or bike ride, take a yoga class or go for a swim, whatever works for you.



Hiking = Happiness!

Author: Daniel Nguyen

As an individual who constantly enjoys being outdoors, I would say that hiking is a must-try activity here in the Pacific Northwest. There are so many different opportunities here to take a hike, and many of them reward you with a fantastic view at the end. Whether it is a calm isolated lake, or a ledge giving you a bird’s-eye view of a canyon, hiking not only rewards you with a view, but benefits your health as well! Researchers from Stanford University’s School of Graduate Education has discovered that a mere hour of hiking can burn well over 500 calories! However, each hiking trail is different in terms of difficulty such as incline, so make sure you pick a hike that you think is right for you!

Hiking also helps your body in many ways, not just burning calories. Studies from the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that long distance hikes can improve the body’s antioxidative capacity which helps fight disease in oncological patients. The physical benefits you get with hiking also improves cardiovascular health. But that’s not all! Research has shown that hiking can serve as another form of therapy that can significantly help those who have depression. Having an active lifestyle will help individuals feel less hopeless. So not only does hiking have health benefits, it can have emotional benefits as well!

I have hiked more than dozens of times in the Pacific Northwest, and I can say that I have never been to a hike where I regretted it. I strongly recommend hiking to anyone, especially those who don’t see nature often. If you’ve never hiked before, I suggest starting small and choose a hike that won’t be too much for your body to handle. Even if the hike is very short, it is better than not hiking at all. Last but not least, I would advise to hike with as many of your friends and family as you can!


Get Outside!


Author: Darby Jenny

Living in Seattle gives us so many opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature. In a one hour drive you can be in the beautiful alpine wilderness or you can take a short bus ride and make it to one of Seattle’s phenomenal parks. Seattle is so connected to the natural world and there is a myriad of opportunities to explore it. Even better, time outside can help your brain! This has been something many people have noticed for centuries but there has not always been empirical evidence.

There are so many wonderful aspects of nature such as lush forests, the scent of flowers, fresh air, sunlight, and so much more. But what is it about nature that helps the brain and how does it help? A study at Stanford University sought out to find just how much nature and green spaces affects brain activity. The study had volunteers walk through either a park or along a busy highway. The researchers analyzed activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain that is the area associated with decision-making and personality behavior. Not surprisingly the people who walked in nature were more relaxed and less stressed and there was less blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which supports the hypothesis. Walking outside is such an easy solution to reducing stress in your life and in turn helping your brain.

Countries outside of the United States have even began promoting spending time outside as a public health initiative. In Finland the government recommends spending 40-50 minutes outside to produce physiological changes. South Korea has gone one step further and has designated three forests as healing forests with plans for many more.

If you are looking to find a great hike near you I suggest checking out for information about all the hiking trails in Washington. Additionally, Seattle has many wonderful parks that might be more accessible than a day hike. Some of my favorites are: Discovery Park, Seward Park, and Carkeek Park.



Fidget Spinners: Toy or Therapy?

Author: Melissa Chan

In the past few months, one toy has swept the nation: fidget spinners. If you’ve never heard of them, or if you’ve heard of them but aren’t sure what they look like, this is the toy everyone’s been talking about:


These spinning toys have a simple structure and concept, yet they have become one of the most popular toys this year. Though its audience has expanded to the ordinary person, fidget spinners have been continuously advertised as being able to relieve stress, increase focus, and even relieve symptoms of anxiety, ADHD, and autism. But, do these claims hold true? According to experts, these claims have no scientific evidence. Scott Kollins, a clinical psychologist and professor at Duke University, shared, “I know there’s lots of similar toys, just like there’s lots of other games and products marketed toward individuals who have ADHD, and there’s basically no scientific evidence that those things work across the board.” In other words, fidget spinners may work for some, but ultimately, there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that they have therapeutic qualities.

With more than six million children in the United States diagnosed with ADHD, there is a huge market for therapy/treatments to help these children cope with their ADHD symptoms. Fidget spinners are relatively cheap and if buying one is helpful, then that’s great. However, people shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that these toys are a replacement for therapy or treatment. As Dr. David Anderson, a clinical psychologist and senior director of the ADHD and Behavioral Disorders Center at the New York-based nonprofit Child Mind Institute, put it, “Mental illness is difficult to treat, and it’s not something for which there are simple solutions.”

On another note, if you’re looking for a fun toy this summer and want to understand the craze around fidget spinners, buy one and see for yourself! You never know, it might just be the perfect stress reliever for you…



Author: Geethika Yarlagadda

blogoggHuman beings are the most intelligent species on earth. Ever since we inhabited this planet we invented great things, waged wars, cured diseases, and the list goes on and on; making us the most incredible creation of Mother Nature. But is that still true? With all our intellectual capabilities we were blessed with another inherent unique gift – COMPASSION, which is slowly but surely diminishing with every passing century.

Every living being on Earth can feel, but only we have the capacity to express our compassion in ways which can not only make our lives a true bliss, but also turn around those of everyone we touch. Losing this blessing is undoubtedly the biggest bane of our species. Wars, cruelty, violence and every social evil we face today are the byproducts of lack of compassion. Forget entire mankind, we are unable to understand our own kin. Small thorn pricks seem like the end of the journey to us. Everyone has their own share of sadness, happiness and struggles. We do not know their story; we may not end their struggle. But a small gesture of love and compassion can help them smile and may give them the strength to fight another day. Let us find our compassion and make this world a better place to live.

“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou

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