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How Organized Are Your Health Records?

 

Hurricane Irma was a reminder that it’s important to have “important documents” both safe and handy. But actually, this is really important all the time.

Recently I had my legal end-of-life documents rewritten, and my attorney gave me a binder to organize copies of every legal, financial and logistical thing that my designates would have to deal with if I became incapacitated.

We all hope this won’t ever happen. But then when natural disaster, accident or serious illness strikes, it can be sudden and unexpected! And the best thing we can do is be prepared by getting our stuff as organized as we can when life is calm.

When it comes to medical information, we need to be our own expert organized self-advocate. No one is more vested in keeping an accurate, up-to-date record of your health than you! Especially in today’s climate of specialists, no one doctor may have your complete picture.

Under the HIPAA law, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and laboratories are required to provide you with copies of your records within 30 days of you requesting them. You have to specify that you want everything: doctor exam notes, test results, discharge summaries if you’ve been hospitalized. Read everything and make sure it’s thorough and accurate.

Then create some kind of binder or organizer for your records. Make copies for anyone you designate to be your surrogate or at least make sure everyone knows how to access the information you compile. And consider creating some kind of abbreviated version of these records that you can give to any new health care provider you need to work with.

Consider having these records in virtual storage as well. There are many programs and apps that facilitate organization and allow controlled access to your medical files. A general program like Evernote allows you to scan documents and store them in a virtual “notebook” (evernote.com). Other apps that are medical record specific include healthspek.com, healthvault.com, freehealthtrack.com, mymedicalapp.com.

It’s also a good idea to carry some information with you at all times. You probably carry your insurance cards in your wallet. You can add another small card with important information for emergency personnel such as medications you take, allergies you have, medical conditions they need to be aware of, past surgeries, your blood type, your primary care physician’s contact information.

Most smart phones have emergency keys on them that allow you to store this information and permit emergency personnel to access that information even if your phone is locked. Here’s a link to how to set it up on an iPhone: http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/09/24/how-to-set-up-your-emergency-medical-id-with-ios-8s-new-health-app

We never know what life will throw at us. I hope you never need to have this information because you can’t speak for yourself. But it gives tremendous peace of mind to have records organized and available. And if anyone ever does need it, believe me, they will thank you for your foresight!

Source: “Organize Your Health Records,” Better Homes and Gardens, August 2017

Category : Blog &Health

Recovering from a Hurricane

I survived staying put through my second hurricane in eleven months and, like most Floridians, I am now regrouping and recovering from Irma.

For me, the damage was largely emotional. I lost power at home for just 3 days and found respite in my office with A/C and working outlets to recharge devices. My business sign blew down US 1 in tiny pieces. A total of 3 shingles were pulled off the roof of my house. Small branches broke and many of my plants looked like they had taken a beating. Because they had!

Although physical damage was minimal, I felt like I had taken a beating as well. I was already working through a couple of personal and financial crises when the storm approached. Even though I deliberately avoided sensationalized news outlets and checked in only periodically with data-based weather websites, tracking the storm’s changing forecasts was unnerving. Uncertainty is like that.

When the storm raged outside, I reminded myself that fretting doesn’t help. I focused on my breathing. I imagined that my guardian angel was hugging the outside of the house, literally wrapping her wings around the structure for protection. And I visualized the inside of the house being so completely filled to the brim with love, that there was no way the house could collapse. I would calm myself by self-talk like: instead of wondering “what if” something awful happens, imagine instead “what if” everything is perfectly fine?

I would start to feel pretty safe and optimistic. And then that small voice in my head would pipe up and ask, yea but what if a piece of the roof does fly off? Which part of the house do you run to? Do you just go and save yourself, or do you make sure the kids wake up and get to a safe area as well? Do you just go to the nearest closet, or do you make sure you grab the important documents and a gallon of water on the way?

Then I would repeat the process of breathing and meditation and visualization. I dozed off. Then my phone blasted me awake with the warning siren. It was a flash flood warning. I was thankful it wasn’t a tornado warning.

And that’s why I had trouble remaining calm—because the threat was real. I was in fight-or-flight mode. I did my best not to make it worse with unnecessary worry. But our nervous systems are hard-wired to keep us safe, and that means being alert when our nervous systems feel like it’s important for us to be alert.

After the threat has passed, we have to deal with the aftermath. There’s a chemical process that happens with re-balancing adrenaline and cortisol and all the stress hormones. If you’ve ever been in a car accident or had a bad fall, you might recall the feelings of shock and soreness afterward, sometimes days afterward. These processes happen after any kind of trauma.

Self-care is especially important at a time like this. I re-shared a post on Facebook yesterday addressing the possibility of adrenal fatigue—when our adrenal glands are too stressed to help us cope with stress. The author writes, “You could feel some of the following symptoms: more fatigued, then normal, more emotional, less ability to handle stress, have low back pain, hormonal imbalance, restless sleep, low sex drive, dizziness, and have less strength and stamina physically.”

Here are the tips she shared for dealing with adrenal fatigue:

Sleep. Get some rest. If we feel extra tired, we need to give our bodies what they require by going to bed earlier, sleeping in later, and/or taking naps.

Go easy on the exercise. You might be eager to get back to your workout routine, but this is not the time to push for new personal bests. Go a little slower, push a little less, allow more time for things like yoga or Tai Chi.

Release emotions. Cry, journal, meditate, have a massage or reflexology or acupuncture session. While we all want to “get back to normal,” it’s not “normal” to go through a night wondering—with good reason—whether our home/community/livelihood/way of life will be destroyed. We need time to heal.

Take supplements. There are supplements to help adrenal glands recover. While this is outside of my scope of practice, I think it’s worthwhile to ask your doctor or nutritionist about it. And certainly, eating healthy to give our bodies the nutrients we need to for strength and wellness is always a good idea.

The article concludes: “Ignoring symptoms and just pushing through will only make you more exhausted in the long run…. When you go through a stressful incident or experience trauma you need to let yourself heal and recover.”

I agree. If you need solitude, give yourself permission. If you need to laugh with a friend, reach out to someone. People are stressed right now. We need to be gentle and kind to each other—and to ourselves!

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Finding Joy

 

Last week I was reminded to find joy every day, even if it’s in little things we really enjoy, such as savoring a delicious cup of coffee peacefully in the morning.

“What makes you happy?” we were asked. People said kids, exercise, helping others, laughing with friends. Happiness doesn’t just come from monumental occurrences. We were challenged to think about the last 24 hours and recall three good things that happened that made us happy. And to be specific. Where were we, what was said, how did we feel? Writing down specifics helps us remember and draw on those good feelings again whenever we need to.

It reminded me of an exercise a friend tasked me with several years ago: make a list of 100 things you’re grateful for. A gratitude list.

Try it! Literally take out paper and pen or pencil and number line by line from 1 to 100. At first, I found myself “cheating” in ways like naming each of my kids separately rather than having “my kids” as just one line item.

But as I kept at it, ideas started flowing almost faster than I could write them down. Think about indoor plumbing. How great is it that we can turn a handle and have running water anytime we please? And in most cases, it’s very clean water. We can choose hot, warm or cold. We can drink it, cook with it, draw a bath or run a shower, flush our waste away in a toilet, wash our clothes in a machine that does the work for us with a push of a button!

Not everyone has clean, running water, and I’m extremely grateful for it. I’m grateful for the eyeglasses that help me see clearly. I’m grateful for air conditioning. I’m grateful for my garden and the butterflies and bees and hummingbirds that visit daily. I’m grateful to live in a wonderful community, where I feel safe and am surrounded by natural beauty. I’m grateful to have so much energizing sunshine (have you ever lived through a gray, gloomy winter?) but I’m also so grateful when we get a nice rain. I’m grateful that I have a super comfortable rocking chair. I like to read in it—I’m grateful that I know how to read! I’m grateful for my health, family, home, car, dogs, friends, rewarding work, the computer I type this on, the Internet!, the abundance of food and gas and all the supplies we need, and on and on.

Reflecting on what I’m grateful for makes me happy! And this reminds me of another exercise, one that some people call keeping a blessing jar.

The idea is to keep an open jar on the kitchen counter or some place very handy and visible. Make it a big jar, like a cookie jar. Each time something good happens, write it down on a little slip of paper and put it in the jar. Whenever the jar gets full, or whenever you need a pick-me-up, pull out the notes and reflect on all the good things that have happened in the recent past.

It’s remarkable how quickly we can forget the good stuff, and how easy it is to take little joys for granted. Recalling even small successes and highlights of our days can make us feel happy AND grateful.

And that is a blessing!

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Staying Hydrated

It’s important to stay hydrated all the time, but especially now during these hot days of summer when we lose more fluids through perspiration.

Severe dehydration causes disorientation, exhaustion, and nausea. Being even a little bit dehydrated can cause difficulty with regulating body temperature, digestion, and elimination. You might notice some of these symptoms:

Bad breath. If you’re dehydrated, your saliva production will slow down and that can cause bacteria overgrowth in your mouth.

Constipation. We need water to keep things moving!

Craving sweets. When we’re dehydrated, our body uses the some of the carbs (glycogen) stored for fuel. Then we crave sugar to replenish. If you find yourself craving something sweet, try drinking a big glass of water and/or have a juicy piece of fruit and see if that satisfies it.

Feeling dizzy. Being dehydrated can cause our blood pressure to drop because we have less fluid volume in the blood. Even mild dehydration can cause feelings of vertigo.

Dry skin.

Feeling cold. Our bodies shift into survival/conservation mode—less blood gets pumped to the skin and we can feel cold even when it’s hot outside.

Headache.

Irritability.

Muscle cramps. Dehydration causes a change in the balance of electrolytes in our system, and muscles need that balance to function optimally.

Feeling sleepy. If we’re not properly hydrated, our energy level will drop as we shift into that conservation mode. Some believe that drinking a glass of cold water will perk us up as effectively as a cup of coffee!

Here are the best ways to rehydrate and stay properly hydrated:

Drink water. Duh. Our bodies are trying to tell us we need more water. Best to sip it. Guzzling can cause nausea and increase urination. Drinking way too much water all at once can throw our electrolytes off just as much as not drinking enough water.

Avoid sugar, alcohol, oily foods, and caffeine. These all cause an increase in urine production which has a dehydrating effect.

Consume the right amount of sodium. Too much sodium can dehydrate us. But too little sodium can make rehydrating difficult.

Ask your doctor or nutritionist how much is right for you long-term. Short term, consider a salty snack like a few pretzels or a salted banana if you’re going to exert yourself and perspire a lot.

Replace electrolytes. If you’re planning a workout, including something like yard work or cleaning out the garage this time of year, you might need to have more than water. A drink like Gatorade (you might only need a little!) or coconut water can keep your electrolytes balanced. Some suggest that fruit juice can usually provide what we need, and because of the sugar content in any of these drinks, we can mix a little bit in a glass of water to get what we need.

Make your own sports drink. To control the amount of sugar and salt you’re getting, you can make your own Powerade type of drink. It’s basically water, fruit (citrus is good), sugar and salt. Here’s a link to some recipes: http://dailyburn.com/life/recipes/homemade-sports-drink-recipes/

Eat fruit. Fruits like watermelon, strawberries, and grapefruit are more than 90 percent water! Other fruits with a high water content include cantaloupe, peaches, pineapple, oranges, and raspberries. Eating them helps us rehydrate and replenish our store of glycogen. And we get fiber and nutrients while we’re at it!

Rest. After exertion, our bodies need extra rest to replenish fluid and return from conservation mode to full working capacity.

Drink milk. Research is showing that drinking milk helps us rehydrate, maybe because it replenishes fluids without stimulating the kidneys to make a lot of urine. Even chocolate milk is OK! But skim or low-fat milk is best. Higher fat content slows the fluid uptake.

Eat soup. Broth is a combination of fluid and sodium—a great combination for rehydrating. Add some vegetables and you’ll get fiber and nutrients while you’re at it!

Eat yogurt. Plain yogurt has a high water content and potassium and sodium. Add fruit for extra hydration and nutrition!

Source: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/health/mindandbody/10-signs-you’re-dehydrated-—-and-how-to-hydrate-fast/ss-BBDt60c#image=1

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Deliberate Words of Kindness

I recently had the honor of attending my great-niece’s Bat Mitzvah. I’ve been to two such services, and it’s a somber, religious occasion.

It’s also personal and very meaningful to the young person and her family. My favorite part is when the parents get to address their daughter. They typically heap praise on her for how hard she had to work to prepare for the day. And they also recall stories that tell about her character in general.

This is an opportunity for parents to stand up and publicly tell their child how wonderful she is, how much they love her, and how proud they feel. It brings a tear to the eye just to witness the power and beauty of that.

Never in my upbringing was there such an opportunity. My dad made sure I knew he believed in me in his own quiet way. My mom was more reserved and critical. Atta-girls were very scarce in my Catholic school. I don’t remember anyone toasting in a meaningful way at my wedding. I remember receiving a few accolades when I worked in an office and feeling very moved when the recognition happened.

And maybe that’s appropriate. Maybe if we work hard to earn praise and it is reserved for special achievements, it is that much more rewarding.

But let’s not be too stingy! Let’s never underestimate the power of a kudos. Sometimes a kind word can make all the difference in someone’s day. What if someone has not heard any encouragement in a long while, and might really be uplifted by a compliment?

“When you see something beautiful in someone, tell them. It may take seconds to say, but for them it could last a lifetime.” — Unknown

I bet my great-niece will remember her Bat Mitzvah for a lifetime. What if we could each have a positive influence on someone, albeit in a much smaller way, simply by being bold enough to say something nice about them?

Let’s find ways to spread goodness, not only through “random acts of kindness,” but also through deliberate words of kindness.

Goodness knows the world could use more kindness!

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Today Is Special

 

“Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.” — Regina Brett

We’ve all heard the quotable quotes: Seize the day! Tomorrow is promised to no one! Enjoy life now, this is not a rehearsal!

When you hear these sentiments, how do you feel? Does it go in one ear and out the other? Or do you pause to think about it, but dismiss the thought? Live more fully—who has the time? I have to … (work, take care of the kids/grandkids/parents, clean the house, work in the yard, organize the garage, do volunteer duty, etc. etc. etc.)

We do have to be practical. But I can share with you a few observations. I sometimes see people at their worst: stressed out, in pain from overdoing and self-neglecting, tired and frustrated and irritable.

I also get to see people at their best: looking forward to or retelling about a vacation or special event. One client delights in sharing plans for each next trip off the “bucket list.” One details with a smile how the fishing has been since his last appointment and any new venues visited for dinner and dancing. One client lights up describing art projects in progress, music concerts coming up for the community band she plays in, and family gatherings being organized.

Do you have something you’re looking forward to? How/when will you make it happen? My mom and dad were always going to go to Hawaii when my dad retired. They talked about it often. Then my dad died suddenly of heart failure at age 59. He never got to retire, and they never made it to Hawaii.

If you have a trip you’ve been wanting to take, some china you’ve been waiting to use, a class or new hobby you’ve been curious to explore—I encourage you to do it now!

I’ll always remember the words an elderly client said to me once. She had been a caretaker for her husband, many years her senior, as he declined in his final years. She had injured her back lifting and helping him. By the time I met her, she was older, too frail to travel and do her bucket list items, and alone, missing her travel companion/life partner.

She looked at me with sad eyes one day and said, “I always thought I’d have more time.” Meaning, more time to be vibrant, to move around with ease, to explore all that life has to offer.

We don’t know how much time we have. Let’s not wait to take the trip, to wear the fancy lingerie, or use the nicest sheets, china, or candle!

I love this quote from an unknown author: “There are 7 days in a week, and ‘someday’ isn’t one of them.”

Here’s another: “Many great things can be done in a day if you don’t always make that day tomorrow.” —Unknown

Today is special! What great thing can be done today?

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Increasing Our Resilience

 

Virtually every day we have to deal with stress. Clearly too much chronic, day-in-day-out stress is bad for us, and we’ve learned about the physical and mental repercussions of that and strategies for managing them.

But unexpected things happen, and usually bring stress. How do we build the mental fortitude we need to deal with it? Believe it or not, we can practice skills to increase our resilience, so that when a major life event causes stress, we can cope. If we can deal with stress better mentally and emotionally, the physical effects will be lessened as well.

An article in the “New York Times” titled “How to Build Resilience in Midlife,” by Tara Parker-Pope gives us techniques to “stretch our resilience muscle.” Professor and author Dr. Adam Grant says, ““There is a naturally learnable set of behaviors that contribute to resilience,” and he claims that adults—because of the perspective that comes from life experience and (hopefully!) the ability to regulate our emotions—are in a great position to deliberately boost our emotional survival skills.

Here are the tips Parker-Pope recommends:

1. Be optimistic. As with most traits, optimism is part nature and part nurture. So even if we’re not natural born optimists, we can still work on increasing our positivity. That doesn’t mean we deny the reality of challenges or negative events. But we can always choose how to react to situations. The example she gives is when a person loses their job. An optimist would replace dire thoughts like “I’ll never recover from this,” with “This is going to be difficult, but it’s a chance to rethink my life goals and find work that truly makes me happy.”

More and more research confirms that reframing how we look at things, and changing our internal dialog to more positive self-talk, really does improve our outlook and our ability to cope with the inevitable hurdles of life. So does surrounding ourselves with more positive, optimistic people.

2. Don’t take it personally. We are quick to blame ourselves when something bad happens, and ruminate about what we could have done differently. To build resilience, we can remind ourselves that even if we did make a mistake, there were likely numerous factors that contributed to the situation. It’s rarely ever ALL one person’s fault. Practice self-compassion (forgiveness!), and shift into problem-solving mode: what can we do now to repair any damage and prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future?

Smart companies have a corporate model of looking at mistakes as procedural, not personal, and they use the opportunity to refine processes and training.

3. Recall previous triumphs. We get a resilience boost by remembering challenges we have overcome in the past. Although a common strategy is to be grateful that things aren’t worse (and even calling to mind someone who has it worse than ourselves), a better exercise is to look back and say—I’ve made it through something even worse than this in the past. This is not the toughest thing I have ever faced or will ever face. I know I can handle this!

4. Be of service to others. While it’s really important to have a support network, it’s even more empowering to BE part of something larger than ourselves. Studies show that gratitude, altruism, and a sense of purpose lead to greater resiliency. Experts say a key component of being resilient is taking responsibility for our lives—creating a life we consider to be meaningful and finding our purpose. It doesn’t have to be a grand mission, but even if our purpose is to support our own family, that focus can see us through all kinds of adversity.

5. Make peace with stress. Stress is an inevitable element of life. Some would even argue that a little bit of stress is good for us and necessary. (Think how boring life would be with no challenges whatsoever!) So rather than resist it or dread it, one expert suggests we just welcome it as an opportunity for personal growth, AND create concrete opportunities to recover. Taking a walk, meditating, laughing with friends—we can schedule breaks from stress just as we schedule breaks from strenuous workouts.

6. Commit to a challenge. We can build resilience by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. Take an adventure vacation. Climb a mountain! Or go skydiving. Or finish a half marathon or triathlon. Or share your writing at a poetry night. Or sing karaoke. Each time we rise to the occasion, our bodies become better at processing stress hormones. If we live our lives with regular opportunities to overcome stress, we get better and better at it. Then we are in a better position to cope when a crisis arises.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/well/mind/how-to-boost-resilience-in-midlife.html

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Stress, Part Two

 

Are you, or is someone you love, the type of person who is always feeling stressed out? Last week we learned how chronic stress can be really bad for our health.

Here are some ideas for quick ways to reduce the negative impact of stress:

  • Chew gum. Studies show that chewing gum lowers anxiety and stress. Some researchers think the rhythmic act of chewing may calm us and improve the blood flow to our brains, while others believe the smell and taste of gum help us relax.
  • Go outside. Being active is best, especially in a setting that you find beautiful. But even close to home, just quietly being outside is sometimes enough to achieve a respite from stressors.
  • Smile. Even if you don’t feel happy, keeping a genuine smile on your face (including the muscles around your eyes as well as your mouth) reduces the body’s stress response. It helps lower our heart rate quicker once the stressful situation is over. Turns out “grin and bear it” is actually pretty good advice!
  • Smell lavender. One study demonstrated a significant reduction in stress when nurses pinned a vial of lavender to their clothes and sniffed it throughout their shift. WebMD cautions that lavender can intensify the effect of some pain killers and anti-anxiety medications, so checking with your doctor for possible interactions is always a good idea. If lavender doesn’t do it for you, there are other essential oils that can provide calm, such as chamomile, frankincense, and vetiver.
  • Listen to music. Sometimes listening to music you like is even more calming than listening to trickling water or other relaxing sounds. One study showed a positive benefit from listening to Latin choral music such as “Miserere” by Gregorio Allegri.
  • Take some deep breaths. Focusing on our breathing distracts us from negative thoughts and quiets the body’s fight-or-flight response. Sit or lie comfortably and take in a full, deep breath that makes your belly move. Really engage the diaphragm! Breathe out slowly—it should take a few seconds. You can say a word or phrase as you exhale that helps you relax. If nothing else, think: inhale relaxation, exhale tension. Repeat ten times.
  • Practice self-compassion. We have something like 50,000 thoughts in a day, and a large percentage of them are negative. We tend to be especially hard on ourselves. Using more positive self-talk helps us calm down and come to better terms with our situation. Self-compassion includes gently talking to ourselves with as much encouragement as we’d offer to our best friend. Try reassuring yourself with “Everything will be OK,” for instance, or “I can figure out how to handle this.”
  • Journal. This one has helped me so many times! Sometimes we just need to write our thoughts and feelings in a free stream of consciousness, either with pen and paper or electronically. Once we have it in front of us, it’s easier to make a plan. And you can write the plan down, too! But the most important thing is just to give yourself an outlet to be honest and let stuff flow out of you.
  • Talk with a friend. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s nice to share with a good listener we trust. If you have a friend who’s dealing with the same worries that you have, even better! You can share ideas and concerns, and feel less isolated.
  • Exercise. When we work up a sweat, we improve our mood, clear our head, and take a breather from whatever is stressing us out. Go for a hike or a swim or a bike ride, hit the gym, dance as if no one is watching. As long as we don’t overdo it, moving always helps us feel better!
  • Play. Be silly. Do something joyful!
  • Enjoy a reflexology session. Human touch is powerful, and there’s almost nothing better to get our nervous system out of fight-or-flight mode than relaxing foot reflexology.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/balance/ss/stop-stress-now

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Stress, Part One

 

You probably know that stress is bad for you. But do you know why?

A stress response in our bodies is normal and sometimes even helpful. If you have to make a presentation or do well on an exam, the stress you feel leading up to it can actually help you stay more keenly alert and actually perform better.

If we are facing an actual threat, our “fight or flight” response is actually necessary for our survival. Our pupils dilate so we can see a little better, our heart rate increases so we have more fresh blood delivering resources to our cells, more of that blood is diverted to our extremities so that we’re ready to run or fight for our lives.

The modern-day problem is that we can have a stress response when we’re sitting in a meeting, or sitting in traffic in our cars—when we don’t actually need more physical resources but our brains perceive that we do. When we are subjected to daily stressors we can get stuck in a perpetual state of imbalance—the part of our nervous system responsible for revving things up does its job well, but the part of our nervous system responsible for calming things down isn’t given enough opportunity to do its work.

And it isn’t only a response to a negative or threatening situation. Sometimes planning a fun vacation or celebratory event can cause people great stress. Biologically speaking, our bodies can respond the same way to the demands of “good” and “bad” challenges.

So we all feel stress from time to time and it serves a purpose. But when we experience chronic stress, when we constantly feel stressed out—it can cause real health problems.

Chronic stress diminishes our immune system, so people who are stressed out all the time tend to get sick more often. Our bodies divert energy and resources to fight or flight, and things like fighting viral infections (colds and flu) suffer.

Stress also causes our bodies to divert energy away from digesting food, so being stressed all the time leads to digestive issues including constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Emotional eating and stress hormones can cause us to gain weight, especially harmful belly fat. And stress can interfere with our bodies’ ability to absorb nutrients even when we eat healthy.

Stress also leads to having a short temper, frequent headaches, tight muscles and body aches, and insomnia. And being sleep deprived just makes things worse! Stress has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression. Both men and women can lose interest in sex, and men can experience erectile dysfunction and a reduction in quantity and quality of sperm due to chronic stress.

Chronic stress can even lead to diabetes. According to WebMD: “When you’re stressed, your liver puts glucose in your blood to fuel the fight-or-flight response. But this can be released when you don’t need it—say, in a stressful meeting, for example. If you’re already at risk for high blood sugar and it happens too often, it can lead to diabetes.”

So how do we deal with stress? The first step is understanding and accepting it! If we have the mindset that stress is necessary and can even be positive when we need focus, it’s less likely to be physically or emotionally taxing.

Next week: ways to combat the ill effects of stress.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/rm-quiz-stress-test

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Having a Stroke

 

How do you know if you or someone you’re with is having a stroke? And what should you do?

According to mayoclinic.org, the following are the telltale signs. If at all possible, notate when the symptoms began, because their duration can guide treatment options:

  • Difficulty speaking and/or understanding. People having a stroke can slur their speech and can have difficulty understanding words.
  • They experience confusion.
  • Paralysis and/or numbness of the face, an arm or a leg. People having a stroke can develop sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis is the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of their body. See if they can raise both arms over their head at the same time. Ask them to smile. If one arm begins to fall, or one side of the mouth droops, they may be having a stroke.
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes. People having a stroke can have sudden blurred vision, blackened vision, or double vision.
  • Headache—sudden and severe, which may be accompanied by vomiting, dizziness, or “altered consciousness.”
  • Difficulty walking. In addition to dizziness, a person having a stroke can stumble, lose their balance, or seem suddenly uncoordinated.

What should we do? Think FAST: Face, Arms, Speech, Time.

  • Face = ask the person to smile. Does one side of the mouth droop?
  • Arms = ask the person to raise both arms. Does one not go up, or drift back down?
  • Speech = ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or sounding strange?
  • Time = if you observe any of these, call 911 immediately!

Don’t wait to see if the symptoms go away. Every minute counts! The longer a stroke goes untreated, the greater the potential for brain damage and disability.

What Causes Strokes?

A stroke is when the blood supply to our brain is interrupted or diminished. The brain doesn’t get enough oxygen and nutrients, and that causes the brain cells to die.

A stroke can be caused by a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) like from a blood clot, or the leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke) like from an aneurysm. Some people have a temporary disruption of blood flow to their brain, which is called a transient ischemic attack or TIA. Sometimes folks refer to these events as “mini strokes” because the blockage is temporary and doesn’t leave lasting symptoms. But it’s still important to get medical help! It’s not possible to know if you’re having a TIA or a full blown stroke just from your symptoms. And having a TIA puts us a greater risk of having a more severe stroke in the future.

Risk factors include:

  • being overweight or obese
  • being physically inactive
  • engaging in heavy or binge drinking
  • using illicit drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamines
  • having high blood pressure
  • cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • cardiovascular disease
  • family history of stroke, TIA or heart attack
  • being 55 or older
  • race—African-Americans have a higher risk of stroke than people of other races
  • gender—men are at a higher risk than women.

Strokes can cause serious disabilities like paralysis, difficulty talking or swallowing, memory loss, difficulty understanding, and reasoning, emotional problems, pain and tingling, changes in behavior and self-care.

Even if these complications are temporary, it often takes a huge effort in rehabilitation to gets one’s faculties back to full strength. It’s worth it to do what we can to take good care of ourselves and avoid having a stroke.

For inspiration, here’s a fascinating account of a brain scientist remembering what it was like to have a stroke, and what she learned from the experience:


Source:http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stroke/home/ovc-20117264

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