Put Some Pep in Your Step with Peppermint

Green mint leaves growing in garden. Herb close upCollege of DuPage Nursing Student Justin Feliciano shared with Healthy Lombard that many people may not be aware of the fact that peppermint is an all-purpose ingredient used in many household items such as teas, coffees, essential oils, and even candy. Not only does it have a minty refreshing taste, it also has medical properties that we can all benefit from.

Peppermint is known to help with digestive properties to ease stomach upset. According to Dresden (2020), peppermint leaf and peppermint oil have a long history of use for digestive disorders and enteric-coated peppermint oil has recently been found to relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome may struggle to relieve symptoms and peppermint is easily accessible and aids with this problem.

Peppermint can also help to relieve gas, bloating, and menstrual cramps. In a double-blind study performed by Masoumi and colleagues (2016), 127 students who had experienced primary dysmenorrhea took a drug including mefenamic acid and mint and found that while the heaviness of the menstrual flow was not reduced, the pain and severity of symptoms decreased after taking peppermint. Women who suffer from menstrual cramps may have gastrointestinal problems although, with peppermint as a home remedy, they are able to promote their overall health.

This essential herb not only helps in the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract but also benefits the health of the mouth for many who suffer from plaque and gum disease. Oral hygiene is vital to the maintenance of health, for persons of all ages. Oral disease not only impairs nutrition but may also affect cardiac health. An easy way to combat oral bacteria is to mix tea tree oil, lemon, and peppermint and then gargle this solution (Fletcher, 2019). This combination reduces the odor caused by bacteria but may also decrease the occurrence of cavities. Toothpaste is one common item we see containing these ingredients to counteract these symptoms. With the help of peppermint, we can all have minty-fresh breath. Read more

Walking a Tightrope: 3 Ways to Stay Steady, Safe and Healthy

tightrope walkwr Healthy Lombard Partner Lori Wrzesinski, Health, Life, and Confidence Coach, wrote  the following article:

When I was a kid, I loved going to the circus.  Peanuts, cotton candy, three rings of entertainment.  The one act that really kept my attention was the tightrope walker.  I was nervous and excited at the same time.  “What if they fall?” I would think.  Then I remembered the safety net below them as they precariously traversed the tightrope 40 feet above the heads of the gawking audience. I never did witness anyone fall and be caught by that net, but I will tell you that I have too often felt like that tightrope walker and know many other such people.  We all hope that we don’t fall.

As a coach, I have had countless conversations with people on this topic. It’s not as if they came to me saying, “So Lori, I am just terrified that I’m on this tightrope and what will happen if I fall.”  What happens during our conversations though is, they begin to uncover this feeling and realize they are searching for a way to keep their balance.  I am most definitely not the consummate tightrope walker, but I have discovered three things that you can put into place that can help you find some confidence as you walk.

First step: Look at the tightrope and define its beginning and end.  When I am experiencing that dizzying sensation as I am on my tightrope, I must identify where the endpoint is.  If I think that this is how my whole day, week, month, or year is going to be before too long I realize I’m going to fall.  That means I am going to get “injured” in some way: my physical, mental, or emotional health could be compromised; my family connection comes more from the picture I have on my desk at work (even if you are working from home right now), or your work performance suffers.  When you define the endpoint of that tightrope, you first look at what it is.  Is it a multitude of projects that have no end? Is it this expectation you’ve placed on yourself that everything has to be done and done to perfection?  When you define the endpoint of your tightrope, that might be you saying: “I’m going to shut down my computer at 5:30 p.m. three days this week.  Or you might say: Better done than perfect, turning it into a mantra that can help shift your perspective and give you that endpoint of your tightrope.  Knowing there is an end can bring you some much-needed relief if you can see that it will not go on forever. Read more

Happiness is a Warm Puppy

Active senior woman hugs dogCollege of Dupage Nursing Student Nikki Szymanowski wrote for Healthy Lombard that any dog owner can tell you that dogs have such a huge influence on mental health. Dogs make people happy and anyone who owns a pet dog will attest to the fact that they can cheer them up even on their worst days. Studies have shown that dogs can ease the symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, bipolar disorder, and PTSD (Yarborough et. al, 2017).  Dogs can combat loneliness in seniors who may have lost their spouses.  Dogs also encourage exercise and play, which can help with many physical and mental conditions.

Many veterans of the military end up with mental health issues, which correlates with the high incidence of unemployment, homelessness, and suicide among veterans. Many of these people may not seek out traditional mental health support. That’s where service dogs can come in. There are many organizations that match veterans up with service dogs to help with mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. In a study performed on veterans with PTSD, service dogs provided benefits to them in ways such as licking or nudging the veteran to help them stay present during flashbacks and helping them prevent panic attacks by focusing instead on the dog (Yarborough et. al, 2017). Read more

Road Rage Statistics for Drivers 2021

An irritated business man driving a car is expressing his road rage with his hands in the air.Sibley, Dolman, Gipe, Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, shared that we’ve all gotten annoyed by another driver on the road, but when that feeling escalates to anger, a situation can turn dangerous fast. Road rage is an escalation of aggressive driving tactics such as making rude gestures, and it is a criminal offense. Our list of road rage statistics details the causes and their shocking impacts on U.S. roadways.

Road Rage vs. Aggressive Driving

Road rage and aggressive driving are sometimes used interchangeably — so what is the difference between the two? Aggressive driving is a moving traffic offense that endangers another driver, and road rage is when this violation escalates to a criminal offense such as violence or intent to purposely harm another driver.

Aggressive driving includes tailgating, flipping rude gestures, weaving in and out of lanes, and more. Road rage is more violent acts, such as rear ending or bumping a car in anger, throwing something at another car, or attacking another driver.

Another difference between aggressive driving and road rage is the penalty. Aggressive driving is a ticketed traffic offense whereas road rage is a criminal offense that can lead to serious jail time.

How Many Road Rage Fatalities are There Each Year?

Road rage leads to 30 murders each year, and aggressive driving is a factor in an estimated 56% of all fatal crashes. This means that road rage murders, while terrifying, are rare, but fatalities from crash-related injuries sparked by aggressive driving are extremely common.

What Causes Road Rage

There are multiple factors that contribute to road rage, and oftentimes more than one are at play. Road conditions such as traffic and congestion often escalate aggressive driving offenses, and when paired with an angry driver in the wrong headspace, these situations can turn ugly fast.

Life stress, such as a fight with a spouse or getting fired at work, can cause a driver to see red behind the wheel. Drivers who don’t have good anger management skills are also at risk to snap and endanger their neighbors. Read on to learn about the proven causes of road rage.

Read more

How COVID-19 Has Affected Children’s Mental Health

 

Children at school classroomDavid Whited, Director of Design Research & Strategy for Highland, shared that there likely isn’t a segment of the US population that hasn’t been profoundly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). While we don’t know the full, enduring impact, we know young children experienced multiple, potentially severe disruptions in the midst of crucial developmental stages. As classrooms became virtual and playgrounds sat empty, children faced radically new patterns of daily life, behavior, and thought.

In order to get a better understanding of how children are adapting and coping with these dramatic changes, Highland surveyed parents across the country about their child’s health, virtual learning, and socialization during the pandemic.

Here are their finding:

Virtual Learning

As another end to the school year approaches, district policies regarding a full-time return to classrooms vary across the country. All parents, whether their child has returned to in-person learning or not, are certainly concerned about the effects of the online, interactive virtual learning environment.

According to respondents, 72% of parents believe virtual learning is putting their child behind academically, and more than half (57%) say their child’s grades have fallen behind since the pandemic. Fifty-six percent of parents surveyed also say their child’s teacher has contacted them due to concerns over their child’s performance.

Parents have also felt the impact of virtual learning. According to our survey, 79% of parents say their child has experienced tech-related issues during virtual learning. Overall, parents are spending roughly 2.7 hours per school day assisting their children with those issues. Along with technical issues, parents cited issues such as keeping their child engaged during virtual learning (68%), limited contact with other classmates (42%), and difficulties with communicating questions to their teacher (34%) as the top challenges with virtual learning.

When will in-person learning fully return? It’s the question on the minds of many parents and students as they look toward the 2021-2022 school year. Overall, 68% of parents surveyed say they feel safe with their child returning to the classroom, and 69% believe students will return to full-time, in-person learning by the end of 2021. Read more

The Puzzles of Dementia

Retired people, seniors and free time. Old latino men having fun and playing game of domino in Cuba.College of DuPage Nursing  Student Andrea Armenta wrote for Healthy Lombard that the elderly population is growing rapidly every day. This includes our grandparents, our parents, and our loved ones. Our grandparents spent their lives creating memories that they will cherish all their lives till they pass away. Growing old is a normal part of life, however, a handful of the elderly population is at risk for developing dementia. According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2021), the worldwide prevalence of dementia is approximately 50 million individuals, with an estimated 10 million new cases each year. With the steady increase in those with dementia, it is important to consider how to protect loved ones and oneself from developing it.

Dementia is the deterioration in the cognitive function of the human brain. There are a variety of different causes of dementia contributing to its development. Although it may seem to be a normal part of aging, dementia impacts judgment, communication, orientation, social and emotional behaviors, and language according to the Alzheimer’s society. Dementia has also become a leading cause of disability and dependency among older people worldwide (WHO, 2021).

Although dementia has a massive impact on the elderly, there is no cure for the cognitive damage, however, ongoing research is currently underway to attempt to delay the onset of dementia. Leisure activities that may delay the onset of dementia or help to improve cognitive function in dementia patients include reading, playing musical instruments, and solving jigsaw puzzles.

Read more

How to Handle Stress at Work

Don't Panic Note Meaning No Panicking Or RelaxingZoe Talent Solutions, a site about learning for working professionals shared with Healthy Lombard that stress is not always negative. It can be a positive thing that helps us stay focused on current work, problems, or issues. It also helps us in being productive and to grow in our life. Getting stressed at work for some short periods might not be an issue. But when we are at work, we have to deal with the challenging and volatile environment with capricious variables and factors that force us to perform our duties and get the job done before the deadline. All the workload, emails, phone calls, and impromptu meetings are a perfect recipe for the continuous stress that will turn into anxiety.

The extended stress at work decreases your productivity, and it destroys your work-life balance. It hurts your emotions, and you feel everything slipping out of your hands, including life itself. According to researchers, more than 30 to 40 % of workers in the organizations score at higher stress levels in the survey.

The good thing is that you can manage stress by doing these easy to perform activities. You can manage workload stress and reclaim your life from the agonizing deadlines, pending stressors, and anxiety brewing factors at work.

Let’s start the lifesaving activities that will help you get back to work-life balance and get the maximum out of your abilities and physical and mental resources. Read more

A Bright Hobby to Pick Up

Man and young boy playing piano and smilingCollege of DuPage Nursing Student Quimco shared that learning a musical instrument can bring multiple benefits to a person, no matter what age they begin. Be it a wood or a string instrument, it can bring such benefits as improved motor and cognitive function and increased brain plasticity. It may seem daunting to begin to learn an instrument as an adult but with the right determination, anyone can learn to play.

Playing an instrument offers a fun, multisensory experience and demands motor skills to achieve a specific note in the music. It may be challenging when first beginning but helps develop reaction time and eye to hand coordination. A study by MacRitchie (2019) conducted in novice adult musicians showed improvement in manual dexterity after learning a musical instrument. Aging over time decreases reflexes but playing a musical instrument helps train the body to react more quickly and delays the natural aging process.

Not only does playing an instrument improve dexterity, but it also improves the executive functioning of the brain. Executive functions of the brain include attention, working memory, planning and organizing, and impulse control. Musical training can improve all these aspects of cognition in the frontal cortex of the brain. Music training has also shown to improve verbal memory, mathematical skills, and IQ (Bowmer, 2018). Read more

Understanding the Link Between Hormones and Anxiety

Anxiety can be triggered by almost anything — an unhappy email from your boss, being told you “need to talk” from a romantic partner, or even choosing between brands of pasta sauce at the grocery store. 

However, excess anxiety (also known as anxiety disorder)  can be triggered by something a bit more complicated than a stressful work situation—your hormones. Many researchers believe anxiety and hormones are a chicken-and-egg situation, where it’s hard to tell whether anxiety causes hormone imbalances or hormone imbalances cause anxiety. It has been studied that during high levels of hormone release (such as puberty, pregnancy, or menopause) more anxiety levels are recorded. 

There are four different hormones that can all affect your anxiety levels, stress responses, and overall mood. These are sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone), stress hormones, thyroid hormones, and oxytocin (the “love hormone”). 

Sex Hormones

Otherwise, known as estrogen and testosterone, these hormones have an impact on how much anxiety you do (or don’t) experience. Times, when these hormones are rapidly changing levels, can have a huge impact on your mood —explaining why teenagers experience anxiety while going through puberty and why expectant mothers have anxious periods while they’re pregnant or postpartum.

For the most part, women tend to experience more hormone-driven anxiety than men. One reason behind this is the role estrogen plays in the menstrual cycle where higher levels of serotonin (the happiness hormone) are released in the first two weeks of a cycle. However, if an egg hasn’t been fertilized in the last two weeks, estrogen levels drop dramatically. This helps explain why many women feel anxious physically or mentally while menstruating. Read more

Aromatherapy: Not just the scents

oilsCollege of DuPage Nursing Student Angela A. Coffie shared with Healthy Lombard that Aromatherapy is slowly becoming quite popular around the world. Aromatherapy originally stemmed from Ancient Egypt since it had different roles from its roles of today. The term “Aromatherapy” was originally identified by a French chemist and perfumer, Rene Maurice Gattefosse in 1937 (FGB Natural Products, 2016)) who accidentally burned his hand from pouring pure lavender oil on it and was then amazed that his scars were no longer visible, and how the pain diminished nearly immediately. This oil was then used during the Second World War and became a huge success (FGB Natural Products,2016).

Essential oils were initially extracted from flowers and used to embalm the dead (IFA, n.d). In Ancient India, these oils were used as an Ayurvedic, that is, to preserve health and wellness by maintaining a body, mind, and soul balance rather than as a cure for the disease (AIA, n.d). In ancient China, oils were used as part of “Traditional Chinese Medicine,” such as acupuncture (IFA, n.d.). In Egypt, India, and China the oils were used for medicinal properties.

Read more