A SURVIVAL KIT: THE VITAL THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW!

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Karen Gitlin A period Living SkillsNavarro

INFLUENCES
THE TEENAGE BRAIN
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There are tons of myths and stereotypes out there that have to do with teenagers and the way their brain is 'wired'. Teenage years are often the most confusing, complicated,and unstable. This may hugely in part be because of the fact that we have recentlydiscovered that the brain is still changing and developing during puberty, which affectsour logic, language, etc. Teenagers therefore are very often hormonal, risk taking,overreactive, rebellious, lying, passionate, lost, lustful, and quick at learning. Although the brain is continuing to change when we're teens, enrichment is vital to the teenage brain becausethat is when the brain begins to specialize in certain areas. The brain growth peak for girls is11 years old, and for boys if 12 years old. The teenage brain is capable of much more thanwe may realize, but it is often not able to reach it's full potential because teens nowadays are getting no where near enough sleep, which takes a huge toll on our brain. To be successful at Gunn however, you are going to need as much sleep as you can possibly get! Your classes will most likely be very challenging and you want to be sure to get a reasonable amount of sleep every night so you are able to keep up!
LEARNING STYLES
One of the most important things that you will learn in high school is learning about how you learn best. A lot of the time, you are going to have be responsible for learning things on your own at home and should therefore begin to pay more attention to the methods in which allow you to retain information to the best of your ability. There are 3 main different learning styles:
1. AUDITORY LEARNER- You are most likely an auditory learner if you find yourself learning information easily when you hear it. For instance, if your teacher is lecturing, it's easy for you to follow along andunderstand what they are saying. If this is the case for you, then try reading directions out loud to yourselfrather than reading it in your head, or have other people explain things to you verbally when you find yourself confused. 2. VISUAL LEARNER- Visual learners often find that things such as diagrams, pictures, and charts help them to understand concepts much more clearly. If you learn best by having people 'show' you things, thenthis is most likely your learning style. Some helpful techniques may include to-do lists andwritten notes.3. KINESTHETIC LEARNER- If you are a kinesthetic learner, that means that you learn well by touchingliv_skills_learners2.jpgorexperiencing things for yourself. You find ithard to sit at your desk for a long period of time and listen to your teacher lecture because you becomerestless easily. The kind of class activities that you probably find most effective are things such as sciencelabs, skits, dances, or anything else that requires you to be active and out of your seat. Once you are able to figure out what your style of learning is, then school may start to become more easyfor you. You will be able to apply techniques to your school work that you know work best for you. This willallow you to learn and work at the best of your ability rather than feeling held back or unable to keep up in acertain class because a teacher is constantly lecturing and you can't figure out why you find yourself feeling so restless and unable to pay attention or remember anything the next day.


INDIVIDUALITY

MEDIA INFLUENCES
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On average, an American will see 3000 adds every day, and over their whole life will watch a total of three years of advertising. This means that what we are seeing in the advertisements and the message they are giving, will have a huge influence on how we live our lives and the opinions that we will subconsciously begin to form. From a very young age girls are told that they need to be skinny, large chested, carefree, self confident, have flawless skin, and be extremely desirable to all men. If they are not all of those things, then there is something wrong with them. Failure therefore becomes inevitable because girls simply cannot become this ideal woman who is flawless in every aspect. It is vital to constantly be reminding yourself that the girls in the magazines are in reality not as 'perfect' as they appear becausechances are, they don't actually look the way they do in the magazine in real life. Their pictures are most likely being strategically altered and therefore no girls should feel any pressure to look like something that isn't real. The media however not only puts pressure on girls. Men have also become a target of the mediabut in a very different way. The ideal 'man' is portrayed as a tough, strong, angry, violent and powerful person who always gets his way. In addition, he is overly tall and muscular and always has a good looking girl by his side. If you ever find that you are feeling bad about yourself because you are not like that 'man', then takea quick look around and you will realize that NO ONE is like that. Just like the flawless woman does not exist,neither does that man. That's why it's so important that you ignore the unrealistic and foolish advertising that ispurposely trying to make people feel bad about themselves because it is not only their profession, but theirsource of income.
SEXUALliv_skills_LGBT.jpgORIENTATION
HIgh school can be a very confusing time in many people's lives. It's a time in which you will learn the most about yourself and begin to discover who you really are. This may include what you want to do with your life, political opinions, the kinds of people you want to be friends with, and very importantly your sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is not something you can decide for yourself, and you can't simply wake up one day and decide to be straight, gay, lesbian, etc. It's something that develops over a long period of time and it's just the way you are. Just like you can't choose where your family descended from or what color your hair is naturally, you can't choose what sexual orientation you would like to be. One major problem that teens who are questioning their sexual orientation have to deal with, is acceptance. One of the healthiest and most important things to be able to achieve is self acceptance. This could be extremely difficult especially if you thnk you may not be straight. Teens are extremely concerned with what their peers think of them, and by being something other than straight, it only worsens the problem. Because teens worry so much about what others think of them, they very often won't come out in fear of rejection or even being disowned by family members as well as friends. This however, will make all of your problems ten times worse. If you bottle everything up inside of you, you are risking becoming severely depressed and having ongoing feelings of loneliness. This not only puts you at emotional risk, buy physical as well because LGBT teen suicides compromise up to 30% of all teen suicides annually. The best thing that you could do for yourself if you think you may be LGBT, is to find a trusted friend or family member who you feel comfortable enough to discuss your situation with. Even if you aren't ready to come out to your whole family or all of your friends, having atleast one person there will help a tremendous amount.
HEALTH STRESSliv_skills_stressed_teen.jpgStress can take it's toll on you not only mentally, and emotionally, but physically. If you are extremely stressed, you can experience a number of different things. For instance, some of the less extreme examples are sweating, stomach pains, having your body feel tense, rapid or shallow breathing or not being able to sleep well. If your stress continues to worsen and nothing is being done, then eventually your stress could lead to stress related disorders, diabetes/high cholesterol, digestive disorders, hypertension, prolonged injuries, infertility, immune suppression, and neuron death or depression. There are however ways out allowing your stress to spin out of control. For instance, meditating and doing relaxing exercises such as yoga can be of great help. Any type of physical activity for that matter, is good for your body and will help you to reduce stress. Also, sleep is key because without enough of it,our brain can't function properly, which would just become another source of stress.SLEEP On average, teens need about 9 hours of sleep a night to be able to wake up the next day and have a brain that is fully functioning. Getting enough sleep is a huge problem for way too many high schoolers because how busy their schedules are between homework, sports, extracurriculars, friends, family, etc. By not getting enoughliv_skills_teen_sleep.jpg sleep, you will have difficulty staying focused or alert during school or any other activity, become very irritable, and put yourself at risk for loss of short term memory. This being said, not getting enough sleep could make a huge dent in your grades and overall success in school. So, what can you do to prevent yourself from getting to that point? You can set a bedtime routine for yourself to get used to alway being in bed at an earlier time, or finish homework as early as possible and don't procrastinate so as to avoid pulling an 'all nighter' the night before a project is due. In addition, the more stressed you are, the harder it will be for you to fall asleep. You can try meditating, taking deep breaths, or listening to calming music before going to bed.
SUBSTANCE ABUSETOBACCO--ALCOHOL--MARIJUANA At one point or another, you will probably have the opportunity to try at least one of the following substances; tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana. High school is a time when many students begin to experiment with drugs and alcohol. They could get into the whole scene because of their friends, personal choices, or even family, but either way, tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana don't do anyone any good. Tobacco is legal, and contains 4,000 chemicals [one of which is used to preserve dead bodies]. The use of tobacco hugely increases the risk of lung cancer or chronic lung disease. In addition, it can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. Marijuana can be very dangerous as well because it contains 2,000 chemicals when smoked, has sever effects on the brain, and is a 'gateway' drug. Also it can cause cancer, damage to immune system, panic, anxiety, flashbacks, etc. The most commonly used among high school students however is alcohol. Alcohol impairs your judgement and coordination, can cause respiratory failure, and brain, liver, and stomach damage, as well as hallucinations. Although many use tobacco, alcohol or marijuana for a number of different reasons, many become addicted. If you are a addicted and would like help, you can go to rehab and receive the medical and professional attention that you need.liv_skills_alcohol.jpg
SHORT AND LONG TERM EFFECTSliv_stills_drug_effects.jpg Any type of substance abuse will lead to short and long term effects, physical and emotional. Some physical effects are different types of cancer, respiratory failure, insomnia, hallucinations, tremors, brain and liver damage, emphysema, damage to immune system, panic, anxiety, flashbacks, infertility, severe coughing/nosebleeds, slowing of the heart rate, weight or hearing loss, blurred vision and dizziness, lung damage, stroke, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, burst of blood vessels, nausea, vomiting, dulled senses, loss of memory, high body temperature, Parkinson's disease, and high risk of death. On the other hand, the emotional effects can be just as painful. Substance abuse can cause relationships that were once vital in a person's life to deteriorate whether it be a romantic relationship, friendship, marriage, or close family member. In addition, unfortunately those who get deep into any sort of addiction, may end up spending all their money on that substance[s]. If they spend all their money, then when they run out with may go to desperate measures to get a hold of the substance they've grown to depend on. This may lead them to steal, lie, manipulate, or even kill someone to get what they feel they need.
SEXUALITY
METHODS OF BIRTH CONTROL AND ABSTINENCE About 50% of teenagers are sexually active. That does not mean that of that 50%, all are having sexual intercourse, but it does mean that they are engaging in some sort of sexual activity. However, there are many teens who are in fact having sex. Whether or not you are one of them, it's still important to know how to protect yourself from STD's as well as teen pregnancy, so that when the day comes, you will be prepared and well informed. Many women who choose to be sexually active, take birth control. Birth control is a contraceptive. It prevents your chances of becoming pregnant and is 99% effective. Even if you are on the pill [birth control], you should still use a condom whenever you have sex because birth control does not prevent against the transmission of STD's [sexually transmitted diseases]. Although the usagliv_skills_birth_control.jpge of birth control and condoms are very effective, the only method that is 100% safe from pregnancy is abstinence. Abstinence means that you are choosing not to have sex. A person may practice abstinence for a number of different reasons ranging from moral values, lack of trust with partner, or uncertainty of being ready to have sex.

SHOULD I OR SHOULDN'T I? How can you know if you are really ready to have sex? Before you even begin to think about having sex, you need to be fully aware and educated of the many different possible outcomes, and how to be safe. For instance, how to have safe sex, and what to do incase you do become pregnant or get an STD. Once you have done that, you need to seriously think about sex before you do anything irrational. You have to ask yourself WHY it is that you want to have sex. Do you just want to fit in with your friends? Are you just giving into pressure? if so, then having sex is not a good option because you are probably not ready to deal with something if anything were to go wrong, therefore taking the risk is not worth it. On the other hand, if you find someone who you truly love and the desire to have sex with that person has become mutual, then it may be okay as long as you and your partner have discussed it and you both feel that you are ready to take that next step.
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LAST THINGS YOU'RE GONNA NEED TO KNOW!liv_skills_sports.jpg MANAGING YOUR TIME When you start school at Gunn, you will immediately be able to tell how busy you're going to be. With the homework load alone, you should have plenty to keep you busy. Chances are though, that homework isn't going to be the only thing you want to do after school and over the weekends. You're probably going to have extracurriculars or sports, and friends you want to spend time with as well. All of that is perfectly normal and doable, just as long as you keep the right mindset. I advise you to prioritize right from the very start and realize that things which may seem very important [such as going to your friends party over the weekend the same weekend you know you have a huge project to do] aren't going to help you in the long run. That doesn't mean that you can't hang out with your friends or have fun, it simply means that you can't pick fun over school. Friends can wait, but school work can't. You only have a limited amount of time to work to the best of your ability and before you know it, college applications will be due. The last thing you want is to regret having put school on the back burner for so long because you were having so much fun with your friends that the thought of homework and studying never seemed to cross your mind.
CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS WISELY High school is a very different experience for every single person, but we all have one thing in common; we each posses the power to make it into whatever we please. With this power, comes responsibility, and mainly the responsibility of making good choices. One of the most important choices you are going to make throughout high school are who you will become friends with. Friends are a vital part of the high school experience because they help shape you into the person that you are and will become. The last thing you want are friends who pressure you into doing things that you've made clear you don't want to do. If you find that your making friends who are doing this to you, then unfortunately you don't have friends. Friends aren't the people who care about what you look like or what other people think about you. It's important to stay away from the people who simply care about their reputation and themselves because a friendship with them will end in nothing but heartache and regret. Make good choices academically and socially, and high school will become an extremely positive experience.liv_skills_friends.jpg
















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