Create a Family Self-Care Plan

Action for Healthy Kids shared that self-care is for everyone. Simply put, self-care is the practice of taking actions to improve health… both physically and emotionally. Kids and adults need time to refresh, recharge and unwind from work, school, and current events. While it is important to focus on self-care individually, it’s also important to prioritize as a family to support healthy communication and a better understanding of how to support our loved ones.

Take Action

A few simple steps and a family brainstorm are all it takes to make self-care a priority at home. Get creative and modify as needed over time.

  • Create space for planning. Set time aside on a weekend or after dinner one night during the week to come together as a family and begin planning. It’s important to make sure that everyone can be present so the plan is representative of the family, as self-care can be practiced in many ways.
  • Set goals or clarify purpose. Creating a self-care plan can be simply to integrate mindfulness and other forms of relaxation into busy family schedules, or it can have attached goals. Think about things your family may want to work on together (e.g., decreasing screen time by an hour each day, reducing stress associated with busy schedules, etc.). Identify top stressors and use as a template to build out a plan that helps you achieve goals to decrease and improve on how you manage them.
  • Brainstorm activities. Create a nice balance of 5 or 6 activities. Activities included in a self-care plan should be inclusive of activities that support the mind and body.
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An aspirin a day may not be the best way to avoid heart disease and stroke

Heart-shaped stethoscope. Isolated on white backgroundEdward-Elmhurst Heath shared in its Healthy Driven Blog that for years, physicians have recommended some adults take an aspirin a day in late middle age to reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Aspirin, a blood thinner, can help prevent heart attack and stroke (also known as cardiovascular disease) by preventing blood clots from forming in blood vessels that carry blood to the heart and brain.

In 2016, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended a daily aspirin to reduce the risk of a first heart attack or stroke. But new evidence shows a daily aspirin may do more harm than good, especially in people age 60 and older.

The task force recently reversed its recommendation for certain individuals to take a daily aspirin to help prevent cardiovascular disease.

“The most serious potential harm a daily aspirin can cause is bleeding in the stomach, intestines, and brain,” the group said in its statement. “The chance of bleeding increases with age and can be life-threatening.”

The task force does not recommend that people age 60 and older begin taking aspirin to prevent heart attack or stroke and says people age 40 to 59 should talk with their doctor before starting a daily aspirin regimen to assess whether the benefit outweighs the risk.

“The group of patients this applies to are people who don’t have a history of heart attack or stroke,” says John Cahill, M.D., an interventional cardiologist with Midwest Cardiovascular Institute and on the medical staff at Elmhurst Hospital. “People who have already had overt heart disease such as a bypass, heart attack or implantation of a coronary stent clearly benefit from taking an aspirin, and the benefit far outweighs the risk.”

This task force recommendation applies only to those who are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, have no history of cardiovascular disease and are not already taking daily aspirin. Read more

Red Light Therapy for Sleep: The Safe and Natural Way to Better Rest

Kerri Flanagan shared that if you suffer from sleep disturbances, you’re certainly not alone. Sleep issues, particularly insomnia, have become quite prevalent in recent decades. In fact, according to the American Sleep Association, approximately 30% of Americans experience acute insomnia, and 10% suffer from chronic insomnia.

Modern treatments for insomnia are often no more than band-aid solutions, with some even bordering on unhealthy and dangerous (Ambien, for instance, has gained quite the reputation for its long list of bizarre side effects). That hasn’t stopped people from spending a significant amount of money seeking the elusive perfect night’s sleep. The global sleep economy, which includes everything from mattresses and pillows to sleeping pills and sleep apps, is valued at almost $500 billion.

The message there is that people want to sleep better, but they’re struggling to make it happen. Enter red light therapy. Researchers have been busy studying the vast (and growing!) list of benefits of red light therapy in the past couple of decades, and one of their discoveries is that it appears to be beneficial for a good night’s sleep. In this article, we’ll look at the importance of sleep, the various factors that can affect it, and how you can improve your sleep with red light therapy, safely and naturally.  Read more

It’s flu season! Learn how you can prevent the flu

Sick african american girl with flu at home, ill young black woman with fever and ice bag on head, resting in bed.The National Institute on Aging shared that each winter, millions of people suffer from seasonal flu. Flu — the short name for influenza — is caused by viruses. Viruses are exceedingly small germs. Some viruses can spread easily from one person to another. They cause illnesses or infections like the flu.

Flu is a mild illness for some people. For older people, especially those who have health problems like diabetes or heart disease, the flu can be serious, even life-threatening.

How serious is the flu?

Most people who get the flu feel much better in a week or two. But some people can get extremely sick. For example, because your body is busy fighting off the flu, you might pick up a second infection. Older people are at elevated risk of these secondary infections, such as pneumonia.

How does the flu spread?

The flu is contagious — that means it spreads from person to person, often through the air. You can pass on the infection before you feel sick. You are contagious for several days after you get sick. Likewise, you can catch the flu when someone near you coughs or sneezes. Or, if you touch something the virus is on, like Ellen and Jack’s phone or doorknob, and then touch your nose or mouth, you could catch the flu. The flu virus can live on a surface like a book or a doorknob for several hours. Remember to wash your hands often when you are around someone who is sick. Make a point of washing them before eating or touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you can, stay away from sick people. That will help stop the flu from spreading. Read more

50 Shocking Drunk Driving Statistics

Drunk driving concept image with a hand holding some car keys and a glass of beer isolated over a white background.Reviews.com shared that with an increasing focus on the problem of drunk driving, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities have been decreasing steadily. However, 28 people are still killed every day in the U.S. due to drinking and driving. We still lose 10,000 of our fellow citizens every year from drunk driving.

A drunk driving incident impacts many people in very serious ways. Of course, the worst-case scenario leaves families devastated by the death or severe injury of a loved one. These consequences are irreversible. Other people are also impacted, especially if a family member is sentenced to jail time, and the incident inevitably adds to financial stresses.

Even if the situation does not result in severe injury, a drunk driving conviction can be costly as fines and attorneys’ fees escalate. Long term, the cost of insurance increases dramatically, and even the best carriers will impose higher premiums and other restrictions on coverage.

50 shocking drunk driving statistics

Accidents and arrests

  1. In 2016, more than one million drivers were arrested for drunk driving or driving under the influence of narcotics. (CDC)
  1. In 2019, 31% of drivers involved in single-vehicle crashes with fatalities were alcohol-impaired. (NHTSA)
  1. 13% of drivers involved in multiple-vehicle fatal crashes in 2019 were intoxicated. (NHTSA)
  1. Alcohol involvement in fatal accidents is most prominent after dark. In 2019, 49% of fatally injured drivers had blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or above between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., while 18% of fatally injured drivers had a similar BAC during the daytime. (IIHS)

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Green Tea; The Super Plant

College of DuPage Nursing Student Daszawn Burgess wrote for Healthy Lombard that Green tea has been a viable herb for many years. In fact, green tea has been consumed by many cultures since 2737 BC. Green tea was first adopted by Chinese Emperors, used not only for its unique taste, but was thought to be a medical plant of the gods. With that being said, green tea has many health benefits; anti-inflammatory properties, aids in weight loss, and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

According to Pahwa et al. (2021), over 60 million people are affected by inflammation due to biological, chemical, and physical factors that are affiliated with various forms of cancer, whereas anti-inflammatory therapies aid in the prevention and treatment of cancer. According to the finding of Rueter et al. (2019), green tea may help to prevent breast cancer; one of the most common cancers in women.  Rueter et al. (2019) found women who drank the greenest tea experienced a 20–30% decreased risk of breast cancer. Green tea is thought to be one of the main chemicals in helping to prevent inflammation by preventing its progression throughout the body.

Green tea is also beneficial in maintaining weight and reducing body fat in individuals of all ages. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2021), more than 650 million people in the United States are currently considered obese. In a 12-week randomized controlled study of 240 people with obesity, however, green tea extract was found to reduce body fat and prevent cardiovascular risk by boosting metabolic rate in the short term, thereby reducing body fat, especially abdominal fat (Nagao et al., 2021). The study findings also demonstrated in those who consumed green tea that a significant decrease occurred in overall weight, body fat, and waist circumference, compared to controls.

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Bullet Journaling, Fruit for The Soul

College of DuPage Nursing Student Sofie Langan shared that on the surface, bullet journaling appears to be a trend straight out of Pinterest. With a simple Google search, thousands of photos of pastel-colored tapes, rainbow highlighters, and pens designed especially for the thin paper of a journal, appear. Endless blog posts, books, and tutorial videos are available to teach bullet journaling. It almost feels intimidating to try. However, diving a little deeper into the topic can be truly eye-opening. Journaling is a beautiful and creative process that gives one’s imagination no limits. Everything can be designed, drawn, colored, and decorated, to meet the ideals of a creator. The benefit of this practice is the mindfulness and reflection it encourages. When done constructively, bullet journaling can be extremely effective in maintaining good mental health.

Stress Reduction  – Journaling can decrease stress by providing an outlet to reflect and think. For example, many people feel stressed in a state of chaos or disorganization. A day-to-day spread, or journaling a to-do list, can help manage time and organize events. For those that struggle with stress affiliated with negative thoughts, gratitude or a prompt-based journal can promote positive thinking and general optimism. The truly amazing aspect of bullet journaling is that whatever is causing stress can be used as inspiration for creation. Everything can be specifically designed for the purposes of the individual and their personal growth goals.

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Face the Cold Before the Cold Faces You

This young woman sneezing into a tissue either has a cold or really bad allergies.College of DuPage Nursing Student  Jessica Morice shared that an ice-cold shower is the furthest thing from one’s mind when cold symptoms arise. That is, unless you are Wim Hof, or one of his millions of global-wide followers. Who is Wim Hof? He is a 61-year-old Dutchman, who has created his own ‘cold exposure’ method for people all over the world to control their mind and body to do unimaginable things.

Wim Hof explains that his method ‘is based on three simple, natural pillars: cold exposure, conscious breathing, and the powerful mind.’ (Hof, xvii). The method ranges from cold showers to ice baths, to hiking world-famous mountains in a pair of shorts. Anyone can start at any time and assistance is provided by a downloadable free app offered by Wim Hof called ‘the WHF’, which stands for the Wim Hof Method. Beginning with deep breathing techniques, small steps are taken to eventually reach the goal of cold showers, every day. Each of the pillars contributes many benefits and with routine, any individual can unlock the advantages that this method has to offer.

 

A long list of benefits is contributed by the compilation of the three pillars. Cold therapy boosts mood and the immune system, reduces inflammation, and enhances better sleep; Deep breathing improves energy levels, enhances detoxing, rebalances the nervous system, and reduces stress levels; According to his most recent book, ). The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential, ‘Commitment to the method encourages movement out of one’s comfort zone and reaching deeper psychologically’ (Wim Hof, 2020). Studies from universities including Radboud University in the Netherlands and Wayne State University in Michigan have interviewed Wim Hof followers all around the world. Some of the benefits reported from the Endotoxin study, ‘Influencing the Immune System’ done at Radbound University include better sleep, recovery from workouts, anti-inflammation, and overall increased energy (Kox et al. 2014). The study also stated that diseases and illnesses such as Lyme Disease, anxiety, depression, arthritis, MS, diabetes, and asthma have been positively affected by this method and thousands of people continue to attest to these findings.

The feeling of being cold is not considered a pleasant feeling. Maybe that is why it has taken so long to be discovered or studied. It wasn’t until 2011, that research teams began to take his methods seriously. Radboud University completed a study that revealed the results of the Wim Hof method and found the improved immune system and sympathetic nervous system function by injection of endotoxin. Another study done by Wayne State University called the ‘Brain Over Body’ (Muzik et. al., 2017) aimed to understand the brain function that allows Wim Hof to be able to withstand the freezing measures experienced by the body. The findings included activation of pain suppression and self-reflection of the brain, showing that his method does in fact produce the results that members are reporting. These studies are just a few examples of the findings, although other researchers are currently exploring his methods.

Overall, the method continues to expand and millions of people across the world live their lives based on these beliefs and teachings. Just like any other type of routine, building up from small steps to extreme measures takes time, but many people continue to experience the many benefits of the Wim Hof Method. Both physical and mental benefits continue to be reported and Wim Hof himself continues to impress the world as he develops his next big accomplishment.

 

References

Hof , W. (2020). The Wim Hof Method Activate Your Full Human Potential . Sounds True.

Kox, M, et al. “0026. Voluntary Activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System and Attenuation of the Innate Immune Response in Humans.” Intensive Care Medicine Experimental, vol. 2, no. Suppl 1, 2014, doi:10.1186/2197-425x-2-s1-o2.

Muzik, Otto, et al. “‘Brain over Body’–A Study on the Willful Regulation of Autonomic Function during Cold Exposure.” NeuroImage, vol. 172, 2018, pp. 632–641., doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.01.067.

Wim Hof Method. (2018). Welcome to the Official Wim Hof Method Website. http://www.wimhofmethod.com/.

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