|Physiological response to stress (fight or flight)|
Keeping my proverbial head above water during the summer school session has been a feat of note. I’m not much of a multi-tasker and (by my own admission) I have only recently learned how to study for a college exam. Summer school is a combination of speed and endurance – with a little bit of crazy thrown in.
I have to say that my favorite class so far is Health Education 300 (HEED 300), where we have already tackled subjects such as disease, stress, psychological health, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, contraception, and drug abuse.
There is always class participation.
My fellow students are diverse in age, background and academic majors. Most of them like to ask questions and participate. I laugh out loud almost every class; it’s so much fun.
These are some things I have learned while I have been enrolled in HEED 300:
· Wellness is different from health. Health typically refers to the absence of disease or physical injury. Wellness ( a relatively new concept) refers to the happiness and quality of a person’s life. We experience wellness in physical, emotional, spiritual, interpersonal, financial, and intellectual ways. Americans who form relationships on all of these fronts have a better chance at being WELL, not just healthy.
· Americans live a lot longer than we used to. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Americans today are living longer and healthier. Life expectancy in the United States has jumped from 47 years in 1900 to 78 years as reported in 2009. Disability in people over age 65 has dropped dramatically in the past 3 decades. In recent years, nationwide rates of new diagnoses and deaths from all cancers combined have fallen significantly.
· Chronic disease has replaced infectious disease in the USA. At the turn of the century, it was not unusual for someone to die from the flu; now the flu (even H1N1) has a harder time killing people. We know how to boost our immune systems, increase our fluid intake, rest and stay away from people when we are contagious. Yet, we surround ourselves with toxins: alcohol, tobacco, fast food, drugs, etc. that increase our chances of contracting disease. As a former smoker, drinker, partier, and McDonald’s French-fries addict, I have to fight the urge to stand on my chair and shout “YEAH!! Preach it, sister!!” at my teacher. I look around and see faces like mine, having heard it all before… and ready to go out and do it all over again.
· Stress can kill you. Not just figuratively, stress is a killer: it increases our chances of heart attacks and strokes and actually causes our systems to shut down – at least temporarily. Americans experience stress at work more than any other place, but they bring that stress home with them. To relieve stress many Americans go home and unwind by watching TV, drinking alcohol and eating “comfort foods” – all of which can kill you if stress doesn’t.
· I know where to get a bookmark with different colored condoms on the front. It wouldn’t be a health class if we didn’t get an obligatory visit from a “family planning clinic”. We had a guest speaker from Planned Parenthood who actually passed out bookmarks with colored condoms on the front. I laughed out loud -then took a picture. I doubt that anyone who actually reads books will take one of these, I thought. The bookmark had a long list of all the services that Planned Parenthood provides. In between rolling my eyes at the way she phrased things, I realized that she was a person who deserved a modicum of my respect. Once I got over myself, I was able to smile and join in. I even helped her to remember some HIV/AIDS facts that she had forgotten. I resisted the urge to ask for equal time from a Crisis Pregnancy Center.
If you think you know everything about health, you’d love this class. Really, it has been eye-opening on many levels for me. It has been the class that champions participation, and with extremely diverse opinions the conversations can get intense. It is only week three and the class activities force getting to know one another, so I have met a lot of my fellow classmates… and loved each one.
My kind of class.