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5 Healthy Habits to Adopt This Year

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how to get healthy this year

We are nearing the time of year when we make lists of all the things we have resolved to change (and which two-thirds of us will fizzle out on within the first month).

The problem with resolutions is that often we make multiple major and life-altering changes and expect them to happen overnight. Then, frustration hits and burnout results.

For the last several years, I’ve stepped away from the grand resolutions and focused instead of small, short-term goals or experiments. It’s a shift in mindset that helps me focus on small, simple changes that are actually doable here and now. The change has really helped and I find that bigger changes naturally follow.

Free or Low-Cost Healthy Habits for the New Year

My challenge to you: as you read through this list of healthy habits to adopt in the New Year, don’t even let yourself think, “I should do all of those.” Truly only pick one to start, and reward yourself for completing the first mini-challenge by setting a new goal!

I’m sure you’ll think of many others that could be added to this list, but I’ve started with those that seem the most essential to mom-life.

1. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is a non-negotiable for health. (Some sleep experts say it is even more important than diet and exercise combined!) Sleep helps the body restore and heal, is vital for hormone production, improves mood, aids weight loss, and more. In short, if you aren’t sleeping, you aren’t healthy.

Sleep is also free and this is a pretty simple change to make if you commit to it. Granted, some people do have trouble falling or staying asleep, but there are often simple remedies to help with this as well.

The Challenge: If this area is a struggle for you, start small. Think through your bedtime routine. What is the one thing you could change that would make the most impact right away? Some ideas (remember, only pick one to start):

  • Buy some magnesium oil and put it next to the bed. Apply to feet every night before bed. Reward yourself for keeping this habit for 10 weeks (about the time it takes to form a new habit) by investing in something to improve your sleeping environment: new pajamas, a sleep mask, or a good book to read.
  • Blue light from screens can interfere with sleep. After dinner, dim the lights in the house and wear blue-light blocking glasses until bedtime. This is a small change that doesn’t cost much but will protect your body’s natural sleep cycle.

See this post for a full list of ideas on natural ways to sleep better (and no, sending the kids away isn’t on the list, but that would be a good one!).

2. Drink Water

Just like sleep, water is essential to digestion, mental health, removal of toxins, and more. Water is typically free and available to all of us, though purified water can cost a little up front if you invest in a quality water filter.

Though there are as many theories on how much water to drink as there are brands of bottled water, some good rules of thumb are:

  • Don’t let yourself get really thirsty as thirst is a good sign that you need to drink water (obviously).
  • Drink at least one cup of water for each cup of caffeinated beverage or alcohol that you drink (in addition to your regular water consumption).
  • Consider drinking some salt water in the morning. Sound strange? Here are some reasons you might want to drink salt water daily.

The Challenge: A generic “I’ll drink more water” resolution will evaporate all too soon! Keep goals small, specific, and tied to some daily action already in the day:

  • Every night when cleaning the kitchen after dinner, make a pitcher of fruit and herb flavored water to infuse overnight and drink the next day. The whole family will be more likely to drink it!
  • Commit to having a mug of hot lemon water before coffee in the morning. It’s the perfect wake-up call with plenty of health benefits in addition to the extra H2O.

3. Reduce Stress

Stress can do more to hurt your health than any cheat day ever could. Of course, adding “reduce stress” to your to-do list isn’t going to help much.

The list of what stress can do to a body is long. Hair loss, weight gain, infertility, headaches, muscle pain, higher risk of disease… you name it… stress can cause it.

From my post “Tips to Reduce Stress“:

While stress is often thought of as a strictly emotional and mental problem, there is a growing amount of evidence that is has a host of physiological effects as well. One study found that a chemical released when the body is in a stressed state, Neuropeptide Y, causes fat cells to open and store fat rather than burn it. Another study found that, especially in women, higher cortisol (stress hormone) leads to weight gain around the waist, even in otherwise slender women.

Another study found that stress shortens telomeres in cells at a faster rate, leading to premature aging and the increased risk of diseases that accompanies it.

Stress can impact hormones and fertility as well. When cortisol is high in the body, progesterone is often low because the body uses progesterone to manufacture cortisol. This is often why stress and elevated cortisol levels correlate with trouble conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy.

The Challenge: This is always a tough one to tackle because it feels like fighting an invisible enemy. Plus, as a mom it often feels like there’s no time to step away and refocus. There are small changes that take no time or spa days away (although I recommend those too if you can manage it!):

  • Adopt an encouraging or calming saying to repeat to yourself throughout the day. One that really helps me is “Everything will work out perfectly.” Write it everywhere… on your fridge, on the mirror, and in a recurring reminder on your phone. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
  • Pray or meditate for 5 minutes a day. Attach this to a daily ritual you never miss, like your morning cup of coffee. (If the idea of meditation makes you scoff, check out this podcast on meditation for fidgety skeptics.)

4. Move

I don’t like the word “exercise” as it has a negative connotation of something people don’t enjoy doing (picture monotonous miles on a treadmill while watching a stress-inducing news channel). I also don’t like the idea of “exercise” as a hobby, as it isn’t something that one should just do for fun.

Instead, focus on just moving! Movement is (or definitely should be) a normal part of human life, yet many of us aren’t getting enough of it. Movement should also be functional. Endless reps on an exercise machine don’t mean anything if they aren’t helping improve your daily life.

Instead, focus on movements that are useful, such as:

  • Lifting heavy objects – useful if you ever need to carry someone out of a dangerous situation (house fire, car accident, etc.) or move an object without help.
  • Sprinting – useful if you need to escape a bad situation, rabid dog, or other threat. Running a consecutive 26 miles probably won’t be as helpful here but the ability to do a solid 100-meter sprint is vital.
  • Walking – In the past, humans have moved a lot more than we do these days. Walking is good for posture, digestion, and bone health. Do it!
  • Swimming – Great for overall health and lung capacity, but also useful if you ever fall into a body of water and need to be able to get out of it.

Mini-Challenge Ideas:  Functional exercises like walking, sprinting, etc. are free! If you need to up your movement quota but find the idea overwhelming, start with a few simple goals and build on your success:

  • Pick one move to master and do as soon as you get out of bed. Try legs-up-the wall, a squat, or this spider crawl exercise.
  • We’re often in a rush to get somewhere, but not when we get home. The next time you park the car, take a 3-minute walk up the street and back before going into the house.
  • Install a chin-up bar in a doorway you walk through often and do a dead hang (or chin-up if you can!) when you pass by.

Once you’ve mastered the habit, move on to the next one!

5. Volunteer

I know, who needs one more thing to do! Still, volunteering makes the list this year as a great habit to cultivate as a family. The hurricane that hit our area opened my eyes in a new way to the importance of contributing to a tight-knit and supportive local community.

While we may not think of this as a habit, volunteering takes a certain willingness to go out of our way and set our to-do lists aside to work on making someone else’s life better. It takes consistent effort, but it’s worth it!

Giving back outside the home teaches children (and adults) to think of others. Not only is it free, but it also benefits the community. Thinking of those less fortunate also increases our sense of gratitude, which has proven health benefits for mind and body.

The Challenge: Calculate the date 30 days from now and mark it on your calendar. Challenge yourself to complete one new volunteer activity by this time. Set reminders for every 5 days leading up to this date. These are your checkpoints to remind you to do your research, pick a cause, and add it to the calendar.

  • Use a site like VolunteerMatch or CreatetheGood to align your talents and passions with an organization doing similar work. If time is an issue, start with a once-a-month commitment.
  • Call a local hospital or soup kitchen and ask about opportunities and needs you can help fill. Other options are local home-building projects, food banks, community clean-up efforts, nursing homes, animal shelters, or other venues.
  • Sometimes it’s easy to forget those closest to us. Who in your circle of family or friends could use a helping hand or an encouraging note? Put it a recurring task on your calendar to pick one family member or neighbor to help each month. If you do well at that, move to each week! The reward is built-in… more health and happiness for everyone.

What are your goals for this year? Are any of these ones you’d like to adopt? Share below!

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Health

Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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