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Michelle Obama's Advice for High Schoolers is Perfect for Entrepreneurs

Career

You go to school. You dream. You work hard. And then one day…you start your own business with a huge support team. Sound like wishful thinking? Not according to Michelle Obama who spoke to 300 college-bound high school seniors (mostly first-generation) at College Signing Day last week. The former FLOTUS started the star-studded affair four years ago, and has plans to continue “celebrating you all and supporting you and lifting you up no matter what house we live in,” she says.


The MTV-hosted event, held at The Public Theater, was emceed by Nick Cannon, and featuring appearances from Bella Hadid, Andy Cohen, Billy Eichner, Questlove, Donna Karan, Tamron Hall, Robin Roberts, and Soledad O’Brien, but Obama’s main message of finding a community to support and encourage you was the real highlight, and, best of all, it can easily apply to female entrepreneurs.

"Getting in was just the beginning, because there will be struggles. I certainly had my share of struggles," Obama said wearing a Princeton Tigers shirt from her alma mater. "You’re not supposed to go through this on your own. No one gets through college, or life, on their own."

"Don’t sit in your room alone. Do not stew or stir," she continued. "Go out and build your base of support… You cannot do this alone. I didn’t. No one on this stage did, and we are not expecting that from you."

And, there’s good news that women in business can learn from.

"Once you find that community — and you have to find your community in college, and it may take some time — you’re gonna get this thing,” she says. “You're gonna soar, and you’re gonna continue to make us proud."

Michelle Obama at the College Signing Day // D DIPASUPIL/FILMMAGIC

Obama’s message couldn’t have been more timely. According to The Global Entrepreneur Monitor, there are 200 million women entrepreneurs across the globe in the process of starting or operating new businesses. And, that number is steadily increasing.

Supporting the youth and entrepreneurship isn’t new to Obama, in fact she hosted a similar event as part of her Reach Higher initiative through the White House last year in Harlem, in Detroit the year before, and again in San Antonio in 2014.

While there Obama also mentioned the importance of having a College Signing Day. “We want young people to know that there is nothing more important than getting your education,” she said. “We need to make going to college the event that we make so many other things. You know, it’s gotta be more important than going to the NBA. It’s gotta be more exciting than getting a recording contract. We gotta celebrate students going to college bigger than we celebrate the Final Four or the Super Bowl. This is important. The number of acceptance letters that you get should be more important than the number of followers you have on social media.”

Aside from the celebrities in attendance, other stars showed their agreement on social media. Kerry Washington tweeted “Join me in celebrating #collegesigningday with @MichelleObama and thousands of students across the country,” next to a photo of herself wearing a George Washington University hat.

Sounds like Obama’s support team is in full swing.

5 min read
Health

3 Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress Each Evening (Instead of Reaching for Another Cocktail)

When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.

The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.

While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.

Risks of Reaching for Another Drink

Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.

Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.

While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.

Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress

Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!

Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:

  1. Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
  2. Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
  3. Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.

Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.

Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First

It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.

However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.

If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.

I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.