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Learning More About Vaccines

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by Katelyn Maddox

The COVID-19 vaccine is already helping control the spread of COVID-19 worldwide, but how much do you know about vaccines in general?

Children are born with an immune system that has not been exposed and infected with many foreign antigens, so often when kids first get exposed to a disease, the immune system is not able to produce antibodies fast enough to properly fight the disease. Though newborns often have antibodies from their mothers, they go away during the baby’s first year. Immunity is what occurs after the body has produced antibodies so that the next time infection occurs the body is able to produce antibodies fast enough to fight the illness.

Vaccines are used to help an immune system become stronger and protect it from different harmful diseases. Throughout the years, they have saved millions of lives. They have proven especially life-saving in immunocompromised populations, like children and older adults. In the United States, vaccines for polio, smallpox, diphtheria, tetanus, rubella, measles, and mumps and more have been used to help reduce or eradicate the diseases. Smallpox, for example, killed over 300 million people in the world in the 1900s, but due to vaccination it is completely eradicated. Even if a disease is not common in the U.S., complete eradication is rare and worldwide travel can make diseases easy to spread so diseases that are preventable by vaccine require high vaccination rates to avoid.

Vaccines work by stimulating the body’s adaptive immune system and producing antibodies against a specific disease. Often, a weakened form of the disease, such as smallpox, is injected into your body and then your body creates antibodies to fight the weakened disease. This way, if you’re exposed to the actual disease then the antibodies the vaccine helped create will destroy and fight off the actual disease (the foreign antigens). The injected antigens are weakened so they don’t cause disease, but they are able to produce antibodies to contribute to immunity.

Some children and adults are unable to be vaccinated. There can be many reasons for this, such as age limits or specific medical conditions, so immunization helps protect others in the community. The more people who have taken a vaccine, the less the disease can spread. High vaccination rates are essential because low vaccinate rates can allow diseases to spread again. Everyone needs vaccines. There are more than 12 different vaccines recommended for children to receive before their 6th birthday and there are vaccines intended for later in life too. In order to prevent the spread of contagious diseases, immunizations are key.

There have been many advancements in vaccine creation and usage since the first vaccines were created. We now use vaccines containing weak, live, or killed microorganisms/viruses, as well as protein and/or mRNA. In the 21st century, vaccines are as important as a regular health check-up and are a vital part of preventative care. The U.S. requires stringent regulations for vaccines and has long approval processes for safety, and any side effects (such as a fever) are often considered normal and less severe than the actual disease as your body builds immunity.

In order to protect yourself, your family, and your friends, talk to a healthcare professional about which vaccines are recommended for you today. The CDC is also a great resource for most vaccination questions and further reading.

Why Are Vaccines Important

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by Nancy Huber

Eating well, exercising, practicing yoga and mindfulness, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and laughing (yes, laughing) are a few of the things we do during our life to stay healthy.

Another important item that definitely belongs on this list is getting vaccinations.  On that note, you might not have heard the U.K. was the first nation to administer fully vetted and authorized COVID-19 vaccines to its citizens.  A 90-year-old woman was first to receive it.  The second was 81-year-old William Shakespeare.  Everyone made a big deal of his name, but it seems to be Much Ado About Nothing.

It’s easy to get a vaccine, and when you do you are helping not only yourself stay healthy,  but your friends, family, community, and humanity too.  From infancy through adulthood, everyone needs vaccines.

Getting vaccinated is important for many reasons.  It aids in protecting us from diseases, thus preventing disabilities and complications such as hearing loss, seizures, arm or leg amputations, brain damage and even death.  Equity in immunization can contribute to health and economic advantages  by preventing illness and the high cost of treatment.  It saves millions of dollars in healthcare costs.  Getting vaccinated enables us to live healthier and fuller lives.

The immediate benefit of getting a vaccine is individual immunity.  That leads to long-term and, at times, lifelong protection against contracting a disease.  But if vaccination rates drop to low levels it’s possible to have outbreaks of epidemics of diseases we thought had been subdued.

In the past 18 months we have all learned much about the importance of achieving herd immunity with COVID-19.  Specific rates of vaccination–which vary widely by disease but are always less than 100 percent–result in herd immunity.  Once that’s achieved it’s difficult for a disease to continue to spread because there are not enough susceptible individuals left to infect.  Herd immunity is particularly helpful for infants too young for certain vaccines and those not able to get vaccinated for health reasons.  So even for diseases that don’t see 100-percent vaccination rates, herd immunity picks up the slack to protect the entire community.

Before vaccines it was common to lose many children in the same family to certain diseases such as Whooping Cough (Pertussis), which can cause uncontrollable coughing, making it difficult to breathe; Measles, which can cause serious complications like pneumonia, seizures and encephalitis; and Diptheria, which can cause a thick coating in the back of the throat or nose, making it hard to swallow or breathe.

Thanks to worldwide vaccination efforts another disease, Polio, which causes paralysis, has been nearly eradicated after having been epidemic in the U.S. in the 1950s.  In 2000 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Measles eliminated, too.  But because of international travel it reemerges at times, causing pockets of outbreaks.  This is much as it was thousands of years ago, when increasing migration, exploration, and trade led to the spread of many diseases.

Also called the “speckled monster” because of the scarring it causes, Smallpox is the only disease to be totally eliminated.  That was declared in 1980 and credited to a worldwide vaccination campaign.  (You might remember getting a smallpox vaccine as a child, the scratching of the needle on your upper arm leaving a more desirable telltale scar.)  Smallpox appeared around 10,000 B.C.  It was frequently epidemic in the Middle Ages and caused massive destruction.  An estimated 300 million people have succumbed to its ravages.

Attempts to inoculate  against smallpox date back to at least the 1500s, when the Chinese ground up dried smallpox scabs into a powder and blew it up the nostrils, which might sound rather unpleasant.  But only one to two percent died from this deliberate infection, called variolation, compared to the 30 percent who died after contracting the disease naturally.  In 1798 the smallpox vaccine was the first to be developed against a contagious disease.

Other diseases have declined thanks to vaccines, and today many are almost gone in the US.  A few examples of more-recent vaccines saving lives are Meningitis and Rotavirus, and the HPV vaccine is helping to prevent cancer.  New vaccines are always in the works, such as for HIV.

Experts have concluded that the use of vaccines has prevented and will continue to prevent tens of thousands of deaths and spare millions of episodes of disease in children and other vulnerable populations in the US alone.

We should not let time blur memories of the devastation caused by disease in the days before vaccines.  The fight against our current pandemic, COVID-19, has shown how important it is to agree to develop, promote, and provide vaccines to the world to improve health and save lives.

6 Tips for Adjusting to College Dorm Life

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If you are reading this, it probably means that you are preparing for one of the most extraordinary adventures of your life. Even with all the difficulties and stress related to studying, this is the period of your life you will remember fondly. It is the time when you will have the most fun. All the crazy stories you will tell while reminiscing your youth will have one thing in common – they happened in college. And living in a students’ dorm plays a considerable part in the awesomeness that college life is. That said, adjusting to college dorm life will be necessary. But no worries, it won’t take too long before you start enjoying all the college life has to offer.

Regardless of how excited you are about living independently and taking care of yourself for the first time, be ready for something of an emotional rollercoaster once you first get there. It will be the first time you share your living space with a roommate not related to you. The fact that you have separated from your family becomes real. Everything in your life is new. While undoubtedly exhilarating, it is also pretty overwhelming. You may feel lonely and homesick at times. However, there is no need for despair. It’s all too common and passes quickly, especially if you follow a few tips to help you accustom to your new way of life. And if things become too stressful to bear, counseling is always a great option. Sometimes, we all need some help to kickstart making progress.

1. Make your dorm room feel like home

There is no better way to make a place feel homey and comfortable than making it look yours. Therefore, remember to bring some items you will decorate your room with. Personalize it with posters, pillows, or plants. Photos of your family, friends, and pets are an excellent idea. Also, some objects from your old room will remind you of home. If you have your favorite blanket, lamp, or even a chair from your old room, you will settle faster. It will also feel like you have brought a piece of your home with you.

When you decorate your room, make sure you choose ornaments and color schemes that reflect your style. However, don’t forget to check the school rules before making any changes, as there are restrictions as to the extent of your decorating. But regardless of the limitations, there are always simple ways to bring a piece of yourself into space.

Important note: Remember that you will be sharing the room with another thinking and breathing human being. So, before you get your belongings ready to be transferred to your new place, make sure they are on board with all your ideas and desires.

2. Shared space requires some ground rules

The existence of a single room has been rumored, but few have lived to see it. Jokin aside, chances are you will share your room with another person. For this reason, setting some ground rules from the word go is a must. Approach the matter with a friendly tone and discuss some basic house rules. For example, sleeping and cleaning schedules are critical points you have to be on the same page about. If one of you vapes or is a smoker, it may be best to quit those habits. Also, having people over is something you must discuss.

Even if you are not a perfect match in terms of your lifestyle preferences, you can compromise. Know that it’s okay if your college roommate doesn’t end up being one of your closest friends. But it’s in your best interest not to allow an intolerable living situation to take reigns in a small shared space.

3. Remember to live life outside the dorm too

Now that you have made your new room cozy and comfortable, it’s time to go out. No, really. Adjusting to college dorm life implies meeting other people, going for walks, studying at a library. Your room shouldn’t be like a prison cell. Sure, you can do everything there. But being confined in a small space for extended periods can make anyone go crazy.

You need time for yourself outside of your dorm. So go to a café, find a spot in a park where you can unwind and enjoy a change of scenery. If you try to form positive habits while in college, it will prove extremely beneficial.

4. Planning a monthly budget is an indispensable part of adjusting to college dorm life

Being in charge of your financials for the first time in your life may be challenging. Staying on top of everything may feel overwhelming. Therefore, plan your monthly budget carefully. It will give you a boost in confidence regarding your financial decisions and provide you with structure and organization.

Two sound pieces of advice to get you started:

  • set some money aside for emergencies
  • don’t overuse your credit card.

5. Get to know your Residential Advisor

In times of trouble, a Residential Advisor (RA) can be of tremendous help. Should you get into a conflict with your roommate or there’s an issue with your room, your RA is the person you turn to. RAs typically introduce themselves to new students, and sometimes there are regular floor meetings. That is the time to start interacting with them. They are usually students from upper classes whose job is to supervise several rooms in the dorm.

Although they will represent a sort of parental supervision, make no mistake – they are students too. And they, too, have a lot on their plate – work, studies, free time. So, try not to make their life more difficult. It’s in your best interest to build a rapport with them.

6. Keep in touch with your old friends and family

Even with all the excitement of the newness dorm life brings, many new students experience homesickness. For that reason, it’s important to make your room feel like home, go out and explore campus, meet new people and build a relationship with your roommate. But it’s also important to remember your family and friends and reach out to them. Sure, the new chapter of your life has started, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss your old connections.

Adjusting to college dorm life will largely depend on your personality. While some students instantly feel at home, others need a lot more time to settle in. If you are among the latter group, know that you can, and you will enjoy dorm life. It may just take a bit more time to get there. Remember that the most important thing is not to get cooped up in your room. Go out, explore the campus, breathe the fresh air, and find a spot outside you will call yours.

Let’s Talk About STI’s

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Let's talk about STIs

What are STI’s? STI, stands for sexually transmitted infection, which is an infection that is transmitted during sexual contact with someone who has an STI. Common STI’s include: Bacterial (Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Chlamydia) Parasites (Trichomoniasis) and viruses like HIV. I will be discussing a handful of the more common STIs, such as the symptoms, the mode of transmission, as well as the treatments for it.

The most common STI is the herpes simplex virus, upwards of 80% of the population have herpes. Herpes simplex virus has two distinctive types: HSV- 1 which is transmitted oral-to-oral “kissing” and HSV-2, which is transmitted sexually. Once you are infected with either type of herpes virus, it will remain in your system (though it often is dormant, or doesn’t show any symptoms). According to the WHO: “An estimated 3.7 billion people under age 50 (67%) have HSV-1 infection globally. An estimated 491 million people aged 15-49 (13%) worldwide have HSV-2 infection.” The symptoms of (genital) herpes include pain in the genitalia, and skin rashes, among others. Herpes is treated with antiviral drugs.Despite herpes being relatively common, there is a profound stigma around the herpes virus, a lot of that stems from ignorance about the virus itself. In fact, the virus is incredibly common with upwards of 80% of the population having it. The herpes virus is something that is relatively benign, in fact if you’ve ever had a cold sore, you have the herpes virus, which is typically the HSV-1 type. Herpes, for the most part, is asymptomatic, the vast majority of people that have the virus do not display any symptoms.

Chlamydia, according to the CDC, is one of the most frequently reported bacterial STI’s in the United States. The mode of transmission of chlamydia is, mainly through the exchange of bodily fluids during sex. The available treatments for chlamydia include antibiotics. Although there are symptoms of chlamydia, as is the case of most STIs, the onset of those symptoms are not immediately noticeable. The symptoms could include, discomfort while urinating, excessive discharge, etc. Symptoms differ in all bodies.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that primarily targets and affects the immune system of the individual. This can make it dangerous for people with preexisting conditions and those with a compromised immune system. If untreated, HIV can progress to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The symptoms of HIV may include fevers, chills, muscle weakness, headaches and fatigue, all associated with a weakening of the immune system. The virus has three stages, Acute HIV infection, chronic HIV Infection and AIDS. HIV can also be transmitted through non-sexual means, such as sharing needles. HIV can be transferred from mother to the baby during birth if appropriate health and medical measures are not taken. HIV is common. Unlike during HIV’s inception, today, there is treatment for HIV, such as PreP (pre exposure prophylaxis) which is a medicine that people who are at risk of exposure to HIV can take (and is offered here at myHealth). According to the CDC: “PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed.”

Destigmatizing Herpes

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In 2018, I had just broken up with my long term boyfriend and rejoined the dating scene. I was single and ready to mingle! I dove head first into hookup culture. I had a new date every other night of the week and not a care in the world. My version of safe sex was being on birth control and briefly asking someone “You’ve been tested, right?” in the heat of the moment. That quickly caught up to me as I was soon diagnosed with genital herpes and sidelined from the dating game.

Navigating a positive STI diagnosis wasn’t easy. Mine came with a lot of shame, self-blame, and anger. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. I was mourning the life I thought I had to give up on my own. I turned to the internet in hopes of finding some sort of cure (newsflash – it doesn’t exist), but it did lead me to a sex education crash course. Not only in how I should have been properly protecting myself, but that herpes wasn’t the terrifying pictures I was shown once upon a time in sex ed.

Educating myself on herpes made me reevaluate my initial shame. Herpes didn’t make me ‘dirty’, unworthy, or incapable of living a normal life. It didn’t change my personality, hobbies, or my values. My diagnosis was separate from who I was as a person. I began to see herpes not as a curse, but as a way to surround myself with people who would take the time to get to know me for me.

I started sharing my positive STI status with close friends. Each one of them reacted in a supportive way and asked for more knowledge. I gained more confidence with every person I told. Disclosing my status no longer seemed like such a daunting task. It became empowering. I was in control of who I told, I had the opportunity to educate other people, and if someone didn’t like it, I got to walk away knowing that they were missing out on the opportunity to get to know me.

Three years ago I knew herpes was going to change my life, but I didn’t know that it would going to change for the better. Through my diagnosis I established an amazing support system of friends, a sex education that I would have never learned otherwise, and gained confidence within myself. Being diagnosed with herpes or any STI can be scary, but it doesn’t diminish your value as a person. You are still worthy of everything life has to offer.

Step Up for Mental Health 2021

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Make every step count!

Join us as we take a virtual trek across the USA, learning fun facts, getting healthy and supporting the mental health program at myHealth for Teens & Young Adults. Last year, with your help, we were able to raise over $11,000 with this event. With your help, we hope to top that in 2021!

Register today with your donation of $25 or more.

Visit mightycause.com/story/4kssjf or TEXT myhealth to 56651

Donating will create a link you can use to connect your phone or other device to a Walker Tracker account. Once those steps are complete, you’ll be off and running! (Note: donations for myHealth’s mental health program are welcome regardless of whether the donor chooses to participate in the challenge.)

Start: May 1, 2021               End : May 31, 2021                            Daily step goal: 7,000

PRIZES:

  • $250 (1) random winner drawn at the end of the event from all who meet the daily goal
  • $250 (1) random winner drawn from all participants
  • $50 (1) random winner drawn each week from all participants
  • Lots of fun surprise drawings too! More chances to win when you get a friend to join too!

UPDATE – June 1, 2021:

Together, we successfully raised $20,024. THANK YOU to everyone who participated!

Your generosity, the sponsorship of Newport Healthcare, and a matching gift from The Crocus Foundation have made this possible. Thank you for your commitment to improving mental health and to myHealth. We couldn’t do this without you.

Staying Connected (woman with iPad)

How to Stay in Touch With Friends While Away at College

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Going away to college is a significant step in your life. It’s a turbulent time when everything you know changes; your surroundings, lifestyle, and, yes – even your old friendships. However, even though distance may keep you apart, it doesn’t have to tear you apart. Quite the contrary! It can be an endless source of inspiration that will keep the flame of friendship alive. And in today’s age, with all the gadgets and apps, it’s easier than ever. Here are some ways we recommend you explore to stay in touch with friends while away at college.

Instant messaging – an obvious first choice

Instant messaging apps are the easiest way to stay in touch with friends while away at college. FB Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat – these are all accessible and convenient. Also, with the inclusion of gifs, emojis, and filters, they became much more versatile. Not only can you express your thoughts and feelings accurately, but you can also do so in a fun way.

Upgrade the experience with Group chats

Another great thing to consider is making a group chat for your old crew. All the apps we mentioned have some sort of option for group chat. They can be a great way to organize a virtual get-together and share new experiences. Just remember to limit that MemeLord texting privileges, and you’re golden.

Go old-school

The digital era we live in gave us so much. Among others, a possibility for instant communication. Instant messaging apps are fast and reliable. Still, some find it generic and lacking in personality. So, what can you do to remedy that?

Simple – go old-school! Sharpen that quill, break out that papyrus and ink bottle, and let the words flow. Okay, maybe not that old-school, but you get the point. Writing a letter may not be as fast and convenient as WhatsApp. Still, you can’t deny the allure of the written word.

Email can be an excellent option for busy students.

Contrary to popular belief, email isn’t meant only for uptight businesspeople. In fact, it can be a fantastic, non-intrusive way to stay in touch with friends while away at college. Between lectures and enjoying student life, your friends won’t have too much time on their hands. Email can give them that much-needed leeway and allow them to answer when they find the time. They will certainly appreciate the lack of obligation to respond right away.

Like, comment, and get into heated arguments (on occasion)

We live in a world where “if you’re not on social media, you don’t exist.” Although this is arguably true, you can’t deny the benefits these can have when you want to keep in touch. So check their feed regularly and don’t be shy to engage in conversations. You will both meet a lot of new people at college, and a friendly debate is an excellent way for you to meet their new friends and vice versa.

Phone and Video calls are irreplaceable

Nothing beats a good old phone call when you want to stay in touch with friends while away at college. Even a short conversation can be enough to lift your spirit and relieve you of stress. So, schedule a “chat date” and talk your hearts out. Or, even better – use video chat for a virtual “coffee break”.

Visit your friends in their natural habitat

Moving to college is an inevitability both you and your friends will have to face. The pursuit of knowledge will scatter you all over the US, Canada, and even the globe. However, this doesn’t have to be a downside. In fact, it is a unique opportunity to visit different cities and meet new people.

The US may be immense, but in this day and age, traveling from one end to another isn’t an issue. Despite the standing joke that students are always broke, you’ll always find a budget option to get together with your friends in another city.

Canada is also a popular choice for those in search of higher education. Cities like Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal are big student centers with excellent colleges. That’s why many decide to go to Canada and pursue their diplomas there, and the previous statement remains true: You can easily find a cheap way to get from the US to Canada.

However, there’s one crucial thing to keep in mind: don’t make it a surprise visit. We don’t doubt that your friends will be happy to see you. But their schedule can prevent them from hanging out, so give them a call well in advance.

Use virtual worlds to stay in touch with friends while away at college

Did you and your buddies love raiding dungeons, destroying Nexuses, and surviving the ARKs? Then a virtual environment may be an ideal place to get together. In this case, gaming is an excuse to chat and have a good time. A familiar environment, albeit a virtual one, is a great meeting place.

Was your crew was more of a board game or pen-and-paper type? If so, there are many options that will let you sit down, roll the dice, and enjoy your favorite pastimes. Things like Tabletop Simulator are amazing for board games.

The distance can make friendships stronger

It is well-known that distance causes friendships to fade. However, if you stay in touch with friends while away at college, this doesn’t have to happen. Yes, you will change, and so will they. But keeping in touch will allow you to grow together as people. And once your college days are over, your friendship will be stronger than ever.

Women’s Empowerment

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What does it mean to be empowered? Merriam-Webster formally defines empowerment as possessing “the knowledge, confidence, means, or ability to do things or make decisions for oneself.” Being empowered means independence, agency, courage, will, and determination. Such descriptors embody people who identify with being a woman, a label which welcomes a broad range of identities. It exists along the LGBTQ+ spectrum, including expressions of masculinity, femininity, and everything between and beyond. It exists among and within racial divides, overcoming the weight of multiple oppressions. Our world of binary classifications is far too eager to confine women to a small box of characteristics. A woman is expected to do one thing, instructed to do another, and evaluated for doing something else, walking along a constricting line of double standards.

Historical efforts toward gender equality persist to present day, as we celebrate the first woman to hold the second-highest position of leadership in the nation. While recognizing the efforts exerted in feminist movements as revolutionary and unprecedented, it’s vital to acknowledge that many identities are excluded from the images these heroic forces of women created. The experience of rising from oppressive sentiments of society looks different for each woman: easier for some and more challenging for others. This is the experience of intersectionality, the idea that details of a person’s life context, their race, gender, sex, and class, interact and accumulate to yield unique combinations of privilege and discrimination. From a lens of intersectionality, it is clear that experiences of womanhood are not universal, but each is undeniably special. All are irrefutably valid and important.

Women are often prescribed specific societal roles that assume their characteristics match a neatly curated image, one that describes what a woman should be rather than what a woman could be. When we ask what women could be, we are shown endless possibilities. Women have soared to spaces of great responsibility, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg who devoted a lifetime’s efforts to filling the gaps of gender equality as a trailblazer in law, or like Kamala Harris who demonstrates impressive and unconditional moral will, holding the title of ‘first’ in every public office she’s held in her career. The image of a woman in leadership is powerful and witnessing a woman lead is inspiring. However, a woman need not reside in Washington D.C. or claim power to display influential leadership. Women lead in their communities, in their schools, in their hospitals and clinics, in their businesses, and in public offices. Women lead by being advocates, activists, and allies of each other in the vast variety of spaces they occupy.

Everything is stronger together than apart. Compassion is stronger when practiced with others. Kindness is stronger when multiplied by millions. The impact of one woman is amplified in collaboration with another. Maya Angelou famously expressed that “each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” When one woman stands, they encourage another to do the same. When women stand together, they set an example. An example of change, progress, and the will to rise to success.

— Ellen, Health Educator Intern for myHealth

Tips to Quit Vaping for Teens

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1. Know Why You’re Quitting

There are many good reasons to stop vaping. Do you want to feel healthier? Save money? Knowing why you want to quit vaping can help you stay motivated and focused on your goal to become vape-free.

Think about the things in your life that are important to you. Does vaping get in the way of what’s important? If you’re not sure, try asking yourself these questions:

  • Is vaping affecting my health?
  • Is vaping controlling my life?
  • How does vaping affect the way I think and feel?
  • How does vaping affect my relationships with my friends, parents, boyfriend/girlfriend, or other people important to me?
  • How does vaping or thinking about vaping interfere with my schoolwork or grades?
  • Are there activities that I used to enjoy that I don’t enjoy anymore because of vaping?
  • Am I spending a lot of money to keep vaping?
  • What am I looking forward to the most after quitting?

2. Commit to Your Quit

The first step to giving up vaping is to choose a date to quit. Here are some tips to help you pick a quit date:

  • Give yourself time to get ready. Getting ready can help you feel confident and give you the skills you’ll need to stay quit.
  • Don’t put it off for too long. Picking a date too far away gives you time to change your mind or become less interested in quitting. Choose a date that is no more than a week or two away.
  • Set yourself up for success. Try not to pick a quit date that will be stressful, like the day before a big test.

Have you picked your quit date? Circle it on your calendar or set an alert on your phone, and make sure you have a plan for what you will do on the big day.

3. Know What Challenges to Expect

The first few weeks of quitting vaping are usually the hardest. Take it one day at a time. You may face some challenges along the way, but knowing what to expect and being prepared can help.

Learn your triggers. Certain people, feelings, or situations can cause you to want to vape. It’s important to know your triggers. It may be best to avoid situations that can trigger you to vape when you’re in the early stages of your quit.

Prepare for cravings and withdrawal. Think about how you will fight cravings and deal with withdrawal symptoms. Knowing what to expect and having strategies for handling thoughts about vaping or uncomfortable feelings will help you succeed and stay with your quit in those tough moments.

Resist temptations. Avoid places and situations where others are vaping. If you can’t avoid being around vaping, plan for how you will handle these situations. Maybe that means you take a temporary break from friends you vape with and think about what you will say if somebody offers you a vape.

4. Imagine Your Vape-Free Self

It might be hard to imagine your life without e-cigarettes – especially if vaping is something you do a lot throughout the day. You might feel like a piece of yourself is missing when you first quit. It can take time to get used to the new vape-free you, but over time this will become your new normal. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Make the mental shift. Start thinking of yourself as someone who doesn’t vape. This will help separate you from vaping and give you the confidence to quit and stay quit.
  • Focus on the positive. Make a list of all the positive things about yourself that don’t involve vaping and put it somewhere you can see often, like on your bedroom wall or phone. It will remind you that vaping does not define who you are.

Picture the future you. Think about who you want to be in the future. Compare that with who you are now. Ask yourself: How are they different? How does vaping get in the way of what you want for the future? The answer to this can help motivate you to stick to your decision to quit.

5. Build Your Team

Surrounding yourself with supportive people can make it easier to quit vaping. Friends, family, co-workers, and others can be there to listen, boost your mood, and distract you from using your vape.

Ask for help. You don’t have to do it alone. If you feel comfortable, tell your friends and family that you’re quitting vaping and that you will need their support. Here are some ways to ask for the support you need.

  • Be specific. Whether you need tough love or something softer, tell your friends and family what type of support you want, and how often you want their help. For example, if you are feeling stressed or anxious after school, ask a friend to help keep you distracted.
  • Say thank you. Tell your support team you appreciate them. A thank-you can go a long way – and it doesn’t take much time. Research also shows that being grateful can improve physical health, mental health, and self-esteem.
  • Support others. Support is a two-way street. Check-in with your friends and ask them what you can do to help them. Or, do something to brighten someone’s day.

Talk to a doctor. Talk to your doctor or another health care professional about how to quit vaping. Ask how they might be able to help you. They can offer support and resources.

Talk to a tobacco cessation counselor. Get free, personalized support from an expert. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or 1-877-44U-QUIT to talk with a tobacco cessation counselor. You can also chat online using the National Cancer Institute’s LiveHelp service.

Dealing with people who don’t get it. Some important people in your life may not understand your decision to quit. It can be frustrating or discouraging when someone in your life is not as supportive as you’d like. Try one of these strategies:

  • Distance yourself. You may need to take a break from unsupportive people when you first quit. Let them know that you need to make quitting vaping your priority right now.
  • Recommit to quitting. Remind yourself why you are quitting and why being vape-free is important to you.
  • Ask them to respect your decision. Not everyone will know how to be supportive, and that’s okay. Ask them not to vape around you or offer you to use their vape.
  • Lean on positive people. Spend time with people who make you feel good about your decision and who want you to quit.

Set a date to quit vaping and make a plan that works for you. You’ll be healthier and happier in the long run.

At first, putting down the vape may seem impossible, but you CAN do it, and it will get easier with time.

Nicotine addiction can make you feel like you can’t go a minute without vaping. Quitting can help you feel more in control of your life.

Avoid reminders of vaping by changing your routine. Small changes—like taking a different route to school—can help.

https://teen.smokefree.gov/quit-vaping/how-to-quit-vaping

Forming Positive Habits

Forming Positive Habits

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It’s that time of year. Time for the inevitable New Year’s resolution. Ugh. Who needs this kind of stress to start out the new year? Not me. Especially after the truly awful events of 2020. But honestly, I do it every year anyhow. So here we go, again.

I have a piece of paper taped to my door that lists all the ways to ‘Find Your Happy Place.’ In fact, I placed several of them around my office in the hopes of encouraging others to find their happy place. Some of the things listed are a little unrealistic, but a few make sense to me and might help you find a way to start off the new year.

Take small steps towards your goal but do these steps every day. Habits are formed because you do them all the time. Maybe the small step towards being present is to meditate a few times a week, or for five minutes a day. Start small and work up to big. For instance, don’t scroll through social media when you’re with friends/family. Daydreaming during class or a zoom meeting? Make note of it and bring yourself back to what your teachers, classmates and peers are saying. Stay present.

Make a list of what you want to accomplish and mark off the accomplishments each day. I take pleasure in using a big black Sharpie to cross off to-do items on my list. When my list is mostly a sheet with lots of black lines on it, I start a new to-do list. It is cathartic. Also, a great way to stay organized and not ignore things that you know you need to do. Finishing things on a list will make you feel good about yourself and your activities.

Ask a friend to work on your new habit too. Telling someone about your goals will help you be accountable. Better yet, get your friend to work on a goal too. Having a partner to talk to and check-in with about what you want and how you are doing can be very rewarding. Knowing that the other person is looking for support from you and expecting to give you support back can help you both accomplish something big.

Give yourself love. Celebrate your accomplishments. Remind yourself that you are good enough and you are making a difference. Even if the steps feel small, a small win is still a win! Change takes time. Know that bad habits took time to develop and so will good habits. Track your progress and forgive yourself when you don’t accomplish everything the first week.

New Year’s resolutions often fail because we try to set our goals too high. Let’s be realistic, after 2020, accomplishing anything in 2021 that makes us feel good should be cause for applause! Good luck.

Gerilyn Hausback, myHealth Executive Director

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