Human Behavior in the Social Environment (SWK 5223)

A course at the University of Oklahoma Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work taught by Carrie Jankowski, MSSW, LCSW

Month: December 2016 (Page 3 of 6)

Mindfulness and Takeaways

This week, we participated in a mindfulness exercise. Mindfulness is the process of mentally slowing down and allowing your mind to take a break from the stresses of life. The intention is a calm your thoughts, and find a few moments of peace.

As someone who struggles with anxiety and insomnia, mindfulness exercises are often cause stress for me. Quieting my mind and focusing on nothing is not something easily accomplished. I adjusted the assignment to something I knew would work a little better, and would bring a sense of calm without panic or frustration. I performed the 10 minute meditative exercise with soft piano music and the sounds of rain playing in the background. With that adjustment, I was able to spend the 10 minutes in silence, and felt recharged and relaxed following it.

I have learned quite a bit through this class and will take away two key things. The first, I will remember how empowering it can be to have the vocabulary to describe the stages of life you are going through, and how calming it can be to know that the challenges we face are shared with the majority of humanity. The second thing, is the value and the impact of epigenetics. Knowing how much of an impact the things we view as small can have will give me the drive to make changes to my own routines, and to empower my clients to make those changes themselves.

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I feel neutral towards the mindfulness exercise.  Although, it is a means of relieving stress and promotes being present, i found it difficult to clear my thoughts. I see this exercise as something to build on over time by starting with short periods and work to longer periods. This would be beneficial for clients who are overly stressed and not thinking clearly. It would give them an opportunity to try to  corral racing thoughts.

The two things I am taking away from this class is the importance of early childhood development and how it plays such an important role later in life. This will encourage me to follow through with making Soonerstart referrals and really encouraging clients to follow through with recommended services when very young children are involved.

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I found the mindfulness practice assignment to be extremely relaxing. At first it was hard for me to keep my mind off of the final, but eventually I was able to only focus on my breathing. I plan on using the practice of mindfulness multiple times a week as a way to give my mind a break from work and school.

The main thing that I am taking away from this class is the importance of early child development and how it effects later development. The second thing that I will take away from this class is the importance of authoritative parenting style and the impact positive interaction has on a child’s development.

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Practicing Mindfulness was a very positive experience for me. Being able to center yourself and take your mind away from everyday stressors is really impactful. This could be used as a coping mechanism in my clients or my own life to cope with everyday stressors. It could be used to take my own or my client’s mind away from what is bothering them and allow them to focus on themselves.

One of the things I’m taking away from this course is epigenetics. It is really reassuring to know that I can change the outcome of my heath or my children’s health by treating my body positively. Another thing I’m taking away is the positive parenting roles during adolescence. Adolescence is a hard time during development, and having the tools to practice proper parenting skills will make my children’s lives much better.

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Prompt: Regarding the Mindfulness Practice homework assignment, please reflect on that process and share its impact: positive, negative, or neutral. How could you use this in your own life or how could it benefit your clients?

As we discussed in class closure last week, please state 2 things that you are taking away from this course in Human Behavior and the Social Environment.

Response:

Part 1-It was not the first time to be exposed to the Mindfulness Practice since I currently work in Social Work, however I find the practice itself helpful in the line of practice. I currently have print outs of reminding myself to take a minute or so to clear my mind and just ‘exist’ rather than constantly on the go. It’s helped me to have clearer thoughts and to gather myself mentally before beginning a new work task or even socializing with my friends after a long work day.

Part 2- I am taking away the importance of seeing a client as a person and to see their environment. I am also applying the concepts of how a person’s childhood and current stage of life has shaped them into the person they are (whether that is healthy or unhealthy) in order to understand why they function the way they function.

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Regarding the Mindfulness Practice homework assignment, please reflect on that process and share its impact: positive, negative, or neutral. How could you use this in your own life or how could it benefit your clients?

As we discussed in class closure last week, please state 2 things that you are taking away from this course in Human Behavior and the Social Environment.

I did not care for the mindfulness practices that related to meditation like in the TedX discussion. I don;t think it would personally be helpful to me as I have my own ways of coping. I do think that perhaps for clients that do not have coping skills I could give them this information and refer them to a person who could be a better example and demonstrate to them.

I will certainly take away the importance of every stage of the lifespan from this course. Learning that the brain is ever evolving and constantly influenced by the environment is something I can see everyday. I also liked the application opportunity that the case study paper created. It helped me to put these theories into practice and apply them to a real life situation.

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In regards to the mindfulness activity, this is something I do nightly before bed. I lay in the dead mans pose on my bed and close my eyes, just concentrating on my breathing. I find it helpful for falling asleep. It helps me to empty my thoughts and to relax, and since doing this my sleep patterns have improved (according to my fitbit). I rarely wake during the night and my restlessness has dramatically reduced. This could be helpful for clients that have mental illness, especially those with racing thoughts and anxiety. learning basic yoga and breathing techniques are beneficial for coping with stress, and I think spending time working with an individual to at least attempt this will have positive results on their mental health. Restful sleep is important for maintaining physical and mental health.

2 things that I will be taking away from this class are the parenting styles and how kids develop. This will be helpful when we start the foster care classes in 2017 and begin to foster a child in the attempts to adopt. It’s helped me adjust the way I think parents should behave and given me new tools to approach parenting.

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Regarding the Mindfulness Practice homework assignment, please reflect on that process and share its impact: positive, negative, or neutral. How could you use this in your own life or how could it benefit your clients?

 

After watching the mindfulness video I went to YouTube to look up some actual mindfulness techniques. I found a few that were different types and different lengths. One was a guided meditation for 10 minutes that was focused on breathing and being mindful of my breath. At first it was easy and if my mind wondered the speaker in the video (which also played calming music and showed a gentle sea) would say to redirect your focus back to the breathing and to do so without judgment. I was only able to do this for a little over 4 minutes. I had a lot of trouble keeping my mind focused and the more time that went by the harder it was to focus. I realized this may not be the mindfulness exercise that will work best for me. I tried another video that talked about just taking 2 minutes out of the day to focus on a small physical object, whether it be a leaf or something like that. It talked about really focusing on the object’s shape, size, color, etc. To really make sure one is present and then to take in the other elements around us. I liked this one a lot. It is one I will try to incorporate into my routines at least a couple times a week. Overall I would say the impact was positive. In a profession of helping others I will always need ways to take care of myself. Using this in in my own life will be a positive form of safe care. Teaching this to clients will help them add to their own coping skills and would be a great benefit for them to know and learn about.

 

As we discussed in class closure last week, please state 2 things that you are taking away from this course in Human Behavior and the Social Environment.

One thing I will be taking away from this course is how important our genetics are and how they factor in to the way we are whether it is our temperament or response to stress. Another thing is the affects of trauma and stress from the mother and what she experiences (or has experienced in her lifetime) and how that will cause measurable problems to her child. Whether that leads to cognitive delays or difficult temperaments.

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As I have forgotten about my blog post the last couple of weeks I have not made any changes. One change that I need to commit to complete is purchasing the template that I am wanting to use. I do believe this website can assist me in the future within my career.

As Broderick and Blewitt (2015) have reported, the capacity to adapt to stress is critical to survival. If we continue to have problematic situations or stressors in our life, our mental and physical health are effected. Such as not getting enough sleep due to taking care of sick child while balancing employment.

While working with populations that struggle with copying skills or those who have roles that require a lot of attention it is important for them to understand that they need to take care of themselves. As a social workers I would start by restating how their physical and mental health is being effected by what they are reporting is going on in their environment. I would continue to explain to them the correlation between stress and their mental and physical health along with how decision making/ setting boundaries/ etc. can be effected. Then, I would assist them with creating a self care plan to practice everyday or when needed to reduce stress.

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I made 2 peer-recommended changes to my webpage. The first was adding my CV as a link in order to provide some background for my professional experience. Second, I added more to my About Me section, again, to provide more information about my experience in social work. It was also recommended to me to increase the font size, but I was unable to do so, as I had chosen a theme, which could not be edited.
Stress can have significant effects on both physical and mental health. As is noted in the text, stress can increase risk of developing several health conditions, affect changes in hormones, and impair one’s immune system. For example, the text informs that stress can increase the likelihood of the manifestation of health conditions that a person is already at risk for developing. Additionally, stress causes fluctuation in hormones such as cortisol, which can lead to impairments in the immune system.

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