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Living Our ‘Best Lives’. Or Are We?

THE FLORIDA STAR — With drastic advances in technology and the overuse, and oftentimes misuse, of social media research indicates that heavy social media use may also lead to fewer meaningful in-person (or real) human interactions. Without meaningful social interactions, it is virtually impossible for friends, family and loved ones to detect that there may be any issues or mental health concerns. Let’s face it, we post our best pictures on social media, snap shots of our favorite meals from those 5 star restaurants, fast and expensive cars, lavish vacations riding horses on the beaches of Aruba, jet-skiing on South Beach in Miami, the best and biggest houses, the nicest cars, clothes and jewelry and the list goes on. These images on social media often depict the persona of a life that is unbothered, free from stress, what can appear to be ‘perfect’.

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By Dr. Sheila D. Williams

With drastic advances in technology and the overuse, and oftentimes misuse, of social media research indicates that heavy social media use may also lead to fewer meaningful in-person (or real) human interactions. Without meaningful social interactions, it is virtually impossible for friends, family and loved ones to detect that there may be any issues or mental health concerns. Let’s face it, we post our best pictures on social media, snap shots of our favorite meals from those 5 star restaurants, fast and expensive cars, lavish vacations riding horses on the beaches of Aruba, jet-skiing on South Beach in Miami, the best and biggest houses, the nicest cars, clothes and jewelry and the list goes on. These images on social media often depict the persona of a life that is unbothered, free from stress, what can appear to be ‘perfect’.

This ‘perfect’ persona that many portray of themselves and the lives they live, is unrealistic and promotes a false image that many children and young adults feel immense pressure to live up to. By constantly being bombarded by the need to ‘fit in’ and overwhelming feelings of not measuring up, the unhealthy comparison to those on social media who have ‘perfect lives’ has led to increased rates of depression, thoughts, attempts and completion of suicide. Sure many of us can discern between what we see on social media and what is truly ‘reality’, but for children and those already suffering from low self-esteem, or emotional and/or psychological disorders, the constant images of others living their ‘Best Lives’, can lead to increased levels of stress and depression for those that are observing.

While income inequality and the percent of uninsured adults in the US has drastically increased, so has the rates of suicide. Did you know that suicide occurs in the US approximately once every 12 minutes and that suicide now claims two-and-a-half times as many lives in the U.S. than homicides? So why is it that we are not focusing more attention on this epidemic? Why are we not addressing this issue and the factors that lead up to suicidal ideations and attempts? Why are we not addressing the need for mental health services for children in schools, prisons or even hospitals?

I propose we take a minute to regain focus. Let’s be real with ourselves, FIRST. We have to get back to the basics of understanding that we are all a work in progress. None of us are perfect. In fact, to even think that we have perfect bodies, perfect hair, perfect relationships, perfect finances, perfect careers/jobs, and relationships is unrealistic and a set-up for disastrous thinking. Let’s get back to having ‘human interaction’. Let’s talk to one another (face to face) and develop real and meaningful relationships. You know, like we used to do. Let’s turn off and unplug from social media sometimes and simply enjoy one another and this thing called ‘life’. Let’s learn to enjoy the moment, be present in the moment. In fact, rather than quickly pulling out our smartphones to take pictures of those 5 star meals, let’s thank God for allowing us to be able to afford the meal, the health to enjoy the meal and even the company (if you have company) that is dining with you. As a person who loves to post and share on social media myself, I’m learning that everything doesn’t require a post and it’s okay to unplug and that, in my opinion, is how we Live Our Best Lives!

www.DrSheilaDWilliams.com

If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.

Dr. Sheila D. Williams, Ph.D.
Mental Health Advocate
Best-Selling Author of
‘My Mother’s Keeper’
Internationally Certified Speaker,
Trainer and Coach
www.DrSheilaDWilliams.com
Facebook: @DrSheila
Instagram:
@DrSheilaDWilliams
LinkedIn: @DrSheilaDWilliams
Twitter: @DrSDWilliams

This article originally appeared in The Florida Star

Advice

Know Your Zone

New Evacuation System for Alameda County

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Benjamin Sow/Unsplash

Alameda County has launched a new evacuation software system, Zonehaven, to provide neighborhood-level evacuation orders in the event of an emergency such as a wildfire. Under this system, all parts of Alameda are divided into zones to improve evacuation management. The website, which is compatible with computers, smart phones, and laptops, provides real-time data in the event of an emergency such as traffic conditions, weather, and incident location.

Know Your Zone before the next emergency – look up your zone number and memorize it. Be sure to bookmark the webpage for quick access to the site.

community.zonehaven.com

For more details, watch the Know Your Zone PSA HERE. This is a new tool that will complement existing emergency notifications, including AC Alert and Nixle. If you have not already, sign up for AC Alerts at acalert.org.

Become a Peer Counselor

In this online learning event, participants will learn how to develop therapeutic skills ‘just by listening and being kind.” There is the opportunity to practice skills needed to be present for others experiencing difficulties in life, work, home, school, or community.

It will take place on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. The session will be presented by Briana Moore of the Ahbedelight Education and Consulting Symposiums.

Being present requires the ability to listen for and be mindful of the other person or group. Participants will explore active listening skills, learn new creative tools, and develop an understanding of how stress and chronic stress can cause harm to the body, mind, and spirit. Register by August 23, 2021. REGISTER HERE

If you can’t attend on August 25, but would like to receive a link to a recording and resources, CLICK HERE.

Serve Your Community

Supervisor Carson needs District 5 Representatives in the following boards and commissions:

  • Alameda County Fair Association Board of Directors (1)
  • Public Health Commission (1)
  • Parks, Recreation & Historical Commission (1)
  • Consumer Affairs Commission (1)
  • Veterans Affairs Commission (1)

This is an opportunity to serve your community and represent District 5! Please note the eligibility requirements and commitments associated with each position.

For more information and to apply, visit the Boards and Commissions site: https://acgov.org/bc/

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Advice

Fearing the Unknown for Vaccinations

When we choose to trust science, we should then weigh our options before we accept or reject any product touted as being the cure.  

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Vaccine Bottles/ CDC

People have a right to be distrustful about the government and its claims about any vaccination being safe and dependable, especially for people of color. 

Through the years Blacks and other minorities have repeatedly been misled, tricked and hoodwinked into taking medications, vaccinations and treatment that have been alleged to be helpful, only to be used and abused.

However, to do nothing can be equally harmful to our well-being.

So, the question arises as to what we should do?

The simple answer is to do absolutely nothing.  But, obviously, doing nothing doesn’t resolve the dilemma. I suggest that you research as much as possible and figure out what is good for you and your loved ones.

Sometimes our scientists make mistakes. What is good for one person may have the opposite effect on another.

These can be life-and-death situations, so to err in decision-making can be fatal. You must trust your heart and understanding of what is at stake and be confident in your choice.

When we choose to trust science, we should then weigh our options before we accept or reject any product touted as being the cure.

The Tuskegee experiment was just a fragment of what was going on then, and, in some instances, experimentation with Black lives still exists. If need be, pray for a better outcome before you plunge yourself into the unknown.

Never allow group data, either pro or con, to be the deciding factor.

Personally, I took the vaccination in hopes to show that the perceived harm may be misplaced.

To this very day I have not had any known complications materialize from that shot. I can’t speak for the future, and I feel all that can be done is do what you feel is feasible and allow it to play out one way or another. I did the research and I got vaccinated.

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FOOD: Sweet Potato Creme Brûlée

NNPA NEWSWIRE — I put my foot down and said, “Today’s the day, no more procrastinating!” Until I realized I don’t know how to make it different than the rest. But my mom made a suggestion that changed the game: Sweet potato creme brûlée.

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A fantastic sweet potato creme brûlée recipe that’s easy and fun to make. Not to mention the fact that it’s delicious!
A fantastic sweet potato creme brûlée recipe that’s easy and fun to make. Not to mention the fact that it’s delicious!

The Bake

By Paris Brown, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Today is finally the day where I take on creme brûlée, one of the fanciest desserts of all. I’ve wanted to make it for a long time with my own twist, but I just never got around to it.

So, I put my foot down and said, “Today’s the day, no more procrastinating!” Until I realized I don’t know how to make it different than the rest. But my mom made a suggestion that changed the game: Sweet potato creme brûlée.

Since I couldn’t find a sweet potato creme brûlée recipe, I took a pumpkin creme brûlée recipe and tweaked it. Then boom!

A fantastic sweet potato creme brûlée recipe that’s easy and fun to make. Not to mention the fact that it’s delicious!

Ingredients

  • 12 oz heavy whipping cream
  • 2 roasted sweet potatoes, mashed and cooled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • additional sugar for topping

 Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar
  3. Add heavy whipping cream, mashed sweet potato, vanilla, and 1/4 cup sugar to a saucepan. Heat over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring often.
  4. Remove about 1/3 cup of the sweet potato mixture and add it slowly to the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Keeping the whisk moving quickly keeps the eggs from scrambling. Add the rest while stirring. Add spices.
  5. Add ramekins to a baking dish, then carefully place the mixture into ramekins. Add hot water into the baking dish about half an inch high. Be careful not to get any water into the ramekins!
  6. Bake for 42-45 minutes until the edges are set, and the middle is jiggly. Let stand for an hour, then place in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  7. Cover the tops with sugar and place in a broiler until caramelized.
  8. Enjoy!!

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