Want to be healthier? Help someone else!

older folksDanica Patrick for Edwards-Elmhurst Hospital shared that it’s impossible to walk away from an event where you’ve helped somebody (especially if it involves kids) feeling angry or bitter.

There’s something about shifting your focus off yourself and onto others in a positive way that lifts the dark clouds.

Giving of yourself — helping someone or using your own experiences to inspire others — is selfless, yet it boosts our mental and physical health.

Studies have shown that people who volunteer experience physical benefits such as weight loss, lower cholesterol and a decreased risk of high blood pressure.

Studies also suggest a mental benefit to volunteering. By creating a sense of purpose, volunteering eases us out of depression and stress.

The key is being genuine. If you want to help others, you’ll reap the benefits. If you’re only thinking of yourself the whole time, you won’t get much out of it.

Maybe you would like to help out, but feel like you don’t have the motivation or the time. Take it from me – you should make time. I do. And I find that giving back can be really fulfilling both mentally and in your heart.

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Six Easy Tips for Greater Health and Longevity

jennJennifer McGrath, L.Ac., Dipl.OM from Points of Wellness in Oakbrokk Terrace, IL shared that aging may be inevitable, but your later years can be vibrant and healthy if attention is given to supporting your physical, mental and emotional well-being. These tips are just a few of the ways that you can bring balance into your life. You don’t need to try doing all of them at once. Focus on one or two of them.

Practice Gratitude
Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, and optimism, and lower levels of depression and stress, according to Robert A. Emmons, a researcher and professor at University of California-Davis who has authored four books on the subject of the psychology of gratitude.

Dr. Emmons states that the disposition toward gratitude appears to enhance pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions. Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life, but they have a healthy attitude towards them.

Make Exercise a Priority
People who exercise more are less likely to be stressed and more likely to be satisfied with life, according to Danish researchers. Compared with sedentary people, joggers are 70 percent less likely to have high stress levels and life dissatisfaction.

Qi Gong and Tai Chi are non-impact exercises that focus on repetitive movements with attention to breathing. Tai Chi and Qi Gong use gentle movements and low physical impact, which are ideal for aging bodies.

The benefits of these exercises include a slower heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and drops in adrenaline and cortisol levels. Making these exercises a regular practice can lead to better health and vitality. The Mayo Clinic reported results from two studies on these ancient practices that concluded they can also alleviate chronic pain.

Take a Day of Rest
Take a day of rest per week from your regular schedule to recharge. Rejuvenation for the body and mind is worth its weight in gold and you will be more productive with the rest of your time!

Get Good Sleep Regularly
Your body repairs itself best at night, so allow plenty of time for it to do so. Good sleep patterns follow nature. Morning is bright and the most Yang time of day, indicating activity. Night is the dark period, a time to slow down and enter the Yin phase of the day.

Poor sleep has been linked to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Research has shown that getting at least eight hours of sleep is needed for good heart health.

Alleviate and Manage Stress Levels
Stress is a normal part of life, but if left unmanaged, stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains or an irregular heartbeat. Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress, anxiety and mental health.

In addition to acupuncture, Oriental medicine offers a whole gamut of tools and techniques that can be integrated into your life to keep stress in check. These tools include Tui Na, Qi Gong exercises, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, meditations and acupressure that you can administer at home.

Address Health Concerns Quickly: Don’t Wait!
Many diseases can be cured easily if they are caught early, but people often put off seeking treatment. They ignore important signals that something is wrong with their body. We all get warnings about our health and well-being, but these warnings are like traffic lights. They tell us what we ought to do, but they cannot make us do it.

Relief for Mood Swings

jennJennifer McGrath, L.Ac., Dipl.OM from Points of Wellness in Oakbrokk Terrace, IL shared that there are many things that can provoke mood swings, such as chemical imbalances in the brain, side effects from medications, everyday stressful events and, in the case of women in menopause or men going through andropause, fluctuations within the hormonal system.

Rapidly changing moods can present quality of life issues and may be a symptom of a larger problem. Even the emotion of joy, when taken to the extreme, can lead to an unhealthy and exhausting expression of mania.

From the perspective of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, symptoms of menopause and andropause reflect the changes in an individual’s level of yin and yang. Together they reflect the belief that the universe consists of two opposing, yet complementary energies. The interplay of yin and yang is the process that maintains balance in the world.

This philosophy of yin and yang can help explain the condition of a menopausal woman who is suffering from severe mood swings and hot flashes.

In this example, the fluids and cooling factors, which represent yin forces, are said to be drying up as a woman undergoes the process of menopause. This means the yang forces, manifesting as excess heat in the body, become stronger, which ultimately may be experienced as hot flashes and mood swings.

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Holiday warning signs that your elderly loved one needs help

sad-seniorSenior Helpers shared in the Daily Herald Newspaper that when family members get together for the holidays, they may realize that things aren’t the same as they used to be with their elderly relatives.

“It is important to look for warning signs that your loved one is struggling and may not be able to live safely, totally on their own anymore,” said Bob Tucker, a qualified dementia care provider and co-owner of the Senior Helpers office serving the North and Northwest suburbs.

Are you noticing any of these issues this holiday season?

• Under or over-dosing medications

• Weight loss or gain, missing meals, dehydration

“Any of these things may indicate that some changes may be needed to keep your loved one safe, healthy and happy. You may need to discuss this with your loved one, which unfortunately can lead to tense conversions and hurt feelings,” said Abbie Tucker, a senior advocate and client services director and co-owner of the local Senior Helpers office. “A doctor visit may be called for, or at least a discussion of ideas to provide greater safety and assistance.”

Senior Helpers recommends carefully selecting a time and place separate from traditional family activities for a meeting.

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Girls & autism

The gender effect is a hot topic in autism research and one that could lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating a condition that affects at least 1 in 68 U.S. children.

Better understanding of gender’s role is key to helping the most people, said Kevin Pelphrey, an autism researcher at George Washington University. “Autism may not be the same thing in boys and girls.”


The causes of autism aren’t known but various genetic mutations are thought to play a role and outside factors including older parents and premature birth also have been implicated.

Brain imaging suggests there may be an additional explanation for why many girls with autism have more subtle symptoms, Pelphrey said.

“The surprising thing we are finding is that even in girls who clearly have autism,” brain regions involved in social behavior that are normally affected are less severely impaired, he said. Read more

Animal magnetism

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Brain foods may help avoid dementia

berriesThe Daily Herald Newspaper shared on September 12, 2016 that a study, recently published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, suggests that eating certain “brain foods” decreases your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

The neurological disorder is the sixth-leading cause of death in America, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

A “brain food” is a food that is believed to be beneficial to your brain because it helps increase your intellectual power.

A few brain power foods include: leafy greens, blueberries, seeds and nuts, fatty fish, olive oil, lentils, legumes and whole grains. These foods are part of a Mediterranean-style diet, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, which also reported that this diet lowers the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

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National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month

lombardCollege of DuPage Nursing Student Sara Nalbach asks, “Did you know that in 2008 Lombard joined The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in proclaiming September as National Recovery Month? (http://www.villageoflombard.org/1018/National-Alcohol-and-Drug-Addiction-Reco). Is it time for you or someone you love to come to and start the recovery journey?”

In its 27th year, Recovery Month aims to “educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life” (https://www.recoverymonth.gov/about). “The observance reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.”

The 2016 Recovery Month theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!” This year’s theme highlights the important idea that addiction and recovery are not just about the addict; family, friends, co-workers–the entire support system can impact and be impacted by a person’s struggle with addiction (https://www.recoverymonth.gov/about/annual-themes).

There are many resources available to help the addict and those impacted by a loved one’s addiction to come to a new way of living that includes healthier choices in coping, stress management, self-care and overall mental and physical health. It is a personal journey, one that can start today.

What will you do this month to help yourself or someone you love who is struggling with addiction? Here are a few resources to get you started.


An online Addiction Assessment: https://ha.healthawareservices.com/ra/survey/1770?_ga=1.233088922.524924055.1472595303

A great article about addiction and getting help:

SAMHSA National Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

SAMHSA’s Youtube channel for Recovery Month:

DuPage County Alcoholics Anonymous:

24/7 hotline (630) 653-6556


Northern Illinois Al Anon and Alateen:

(630) 627-4441

http: www.niafg.org/home_top/about

Recovery is an action. Come to recovery, come to a new way of living. Just make the call and take a step in a different direction than the one you are on. It just might save your life or the life of someone you love.

Live music may make you happier

live musicAccording to a recent study in the journal Psychology of Music, live music events have been found to be positively correlated with a person’s sense of well-being.

For the study, researchers at Deakin University in Australia administered a survey to 1,000 respondents and discovered that those who attended community music events — including live shows at local cafes, clubs, concerts and festivals — or even simply danced in a crowd, reported higher levels of overall life satisfaction, salon.com reports.

The researchers focused on self-reported degrees of subjective well-being to determine a person’s level of happiness and found that the sense of community experienced at a live-music event was one of the most important factors.

The study suggests it’s not so much which band is observed, but the engagement between artist and fan, as well as the connection fostered among audience members, that is important.

By highlighting the interpersonal benefits of seeking out live music, the researchers hope that this can spur the development of new interventions to help treat anxiety and depression.

Senior programs, communities offer activities that can lengthen your life

Jean Murphy, a Daily Herald Correspondent, shared that loneliness and social isolation are literally bad for your health. Recent studies find that they are as much of a threat to your longevity as obesity is.

Studies of this phenomenon are coming in from around the world.

For instance, data from 3 million participants in a Brigham Young University study found that living on your own can increase your risk of premature death by 32 percent while loneliness raises the risk by 26 percent and isolation increases it by 29 percent, the Huffington Post reported.

A separate University of Chicago study explained that loneliness raises your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and that can lead to increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

In addition, researchers at the University of York in Great Britain, according to a CNN report, combined data from earlier studies done in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia to determine that loneliness and social isolation are equal to anxiety when it comes to causing heart disease and they are as much at fault as work stress when it comes to inducing a stroke. Smoking cigarettes remains a higher risk for these health problems, however.

Researchers suggest that people who live alone have worse diets; don’t exercise or sleep as much; and are less likely to pay attention to their medical problems, the CNN report continued. In addition, the stress and sadness of isolation drives up blood pressure, leading to heart disease and shortening life spans.

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