True
BOKS

About a year ago, Amanda Ponzar’s son stopped being able to fall asleep.

"He would look at the clock, and it would get later and later," she says, but the boy absolutely would not nod off. At first, she and her husband chalked it up to standard kid stuff, a fear of the dark or bumps in the night. But as the problem persisted, they were baffled.

[rebelmouse-image 19533037 dam="1" original_size="500x375" caption="Photo via Ben Francis/Flickr." expand=1]Photo via Ben Francis/Flickr.


"We didn’t know what was going on. We didn’t have words for it," Amanda says. Sniffles, coughs, a temperature — those were the symptoms they were used to dealing with. Chronic insomnia in a 9-year-old? This was new territory.

"We were absolutely clueless until we took him in to talk to his neurodevelopmental pediatrician,” Amanda says. The doctor ran some tests and finally put a name to what they had been observing. The boy had anxiety.

Once the Ponzars figured out what was wrong, they could confront the issue head-on.

They started seeing a therapist regularly and found, collectively, that exercise was an effective way of helping their son cope with his anxiety.

"We had him out running laps some nights," Amanda says. "It would be 11, 11:30 at night, and he was out just running back and forth in a field."

[rebelmouse-image 19533038 dam="1" original_size="640x418" caption="Photo via John D./Flickr." expand=1]Photo via John D./Flickr.

But as they learned more about their son's condition, they realized they could prevent those late night insomnia sessions altogether by making sure he got physical activity during the day. It was time for a lifestyle change.

"We just started to build it into our family’s routine — playing basketball as much as possible, bike rides, the playground, being outside as much as possible," she says.

"We know that’s really going help, so why would we not just do it all the time?"

[rebelmouse-image 19533039 dam="1" original_size="1640x1108" caption="Photo by Albert Herring/Virginia State Parks/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Photo by Albert Herring/Virginia State Parks/Wikimedia Commons.

It’s easy to forget kids can struggle from mental health issues, but they can — and it’s important to recognize the signs.

It had never occurred to the Ponzars that their son could be suffering from an anxiety disorder. "We don’t make that connection," Amanda says. "What does a child have to be anxious about, right?"

But just like adults, kids can struggle with neurochemical imbalances that range from slight to serious. Parents need to be aware of the issue so they can look for the appropriate treatment.

[rebelmouse-image 19533040 dam="1" original_size="500x332" caption="Photo via jenny818/Flickr." expand=1]Photo via jenny818/Flickr.

"Once you realize that's what it is, then you can start doing research and looking into different strategies," Amanda says.

Working with their doctor, they've developed a management plan that works for them. If their son should need it, they're open to the possibility of medication, but since a combination of therapy and exercise has been effective so far, the Ponzars have decided to stick with that for now.

Research also shows that kids who establish a routine of physical activity are at less risk of developing mental health issues to begin with.

Even for kids as young as 6 and 8, studies show that increased physical activity can predict lower levels of depression up to two years later in life. The takeaway? If they're able to, everyone should be getting active to improve their mental health.

[rebelmouse-image 19533041 dam="1" original_size="500x333" caption="Photo via susieq3c/Flickr." expand=1]Photo via susieq3c/Flickr.

"It’s not just kids, it’s all of us," Amanda says. "And I think that’s how our kids learn to build it into their routine, by seeing us do it too."

For the Ponzars, what started as a scary health mystery has turned into a healthier lifestyle for the whole family.

"I am not an athlete. Let’s be clear here," Amanda laughs. "But I’m gonna go out there because it’s good for all of us. It’s modeling the behavior. And I feel better about myself and I’m healthier as well, mentally and physically."

After all, it's difficult to get her kids active if Amanda isn't willing to get active herself.

"What about you, mom and dad? Are you sitting in a chair all day? When you get home are you watching TV all night?" she says. "Kids see that. So I think we have to get our butt out of the chair somehow."

True

From the time she was a little girl, Abby Recker loved helping people. Her parents kept her stocked up with first-aid supplies so she could spend hours playing with her dolls, making up stories of ballet injuries and carefully wrapping “broken” arms and legs.

Recker fondly describes her hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as a simple place where people are kind to one another. There’s even a term for it—“Iowa nice”—describing an overall sense of agreeableness and emotional trust shown by people who are otherwise strangers.

Abby | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Driven by passion and the encouragement of her parents, Recker attended nursing school, graduating just one year before the unthinkable happened: a global pandemic. One year into her career as an emergency and labor and delivery nurse, everything she thought she knew about the medical field got turned upside down. That period of time was tough on everyone, and Nurse Recker was no exception.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

The Emperor of the Seas.

Imagine retiring early and spending the rest of your life on a cruise ship visiting exotic locations, meeting interesting people and eating delectable food. It sounds fantastic, but surely it’s a billionaire’s fantasy, right?

Not according to Angelyn Burk, 53, and her husband Richard. They’re living their best life hopping from ship to ship for around $44 a night each. The Burks have called cruise ships their home since May 2021 and have no plans to go back to their lives as landlubbers. Angelyn took her first cruise in 1992 and it changed her goals in life forever.

“Our original plan was to stay in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as we got older,” Angelyn told 7 News. But a few years back, Angelyn crunched the numbers and realized they could start much sooner than expected.

Keep Reading Show less
True

It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.

Keep Reading Show less

We're dancing along too.

Art can be a powerful unifier. With just the right lyric, image or word, great art can soften those hard lines that divide us, helping us to remember the immense value of human connection and compassion.

This is certainly the case with “Pasoori,” a Pakistani pop song that has not only become an international hit, it’s managed to bring the long divided peoples of India and Pakistan together in the name of love. Or at least in the name of good music.
Keep Reading Show less

Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas teaches you how to pee.

A pelvic floor doctor from Boston, Massachusetts, has caused a stir by explaining that something we all thought was good for our health can cause real problems. In a video that has more than 5.8 million views on TikTok, Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas says we shouldn’t go pee “just in case.”

How could this be? The moment we all learned to control our bladders we were also taught to pee before going on a car trip, sitting down to watch a movie or playing sports.

The doctor posted the video as a response to TikTok user Sidneyraz, who made a video urging people to go to the bathroom whenever they get the chance. Sidneyraz is known for posting videos about things he didn’t learn until his 30s. "If you think to yourself, 'I don't have to go,' go." SidneyRaz says in the video. It sounds like common sense but evidently, he was totally wrong, just like the rest of humanity.

Keep Reading Show less