Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stress and Its Effects On Your Body

Everyone has some stressors in their life, so how can these stressors affect you?

Stress is the body’s reaction to the many demands of your day. You may get it from your kids, your job, or even from the mailbox in the form of bills. These stress’s can affect your body, how you feel, and you behavior. The worst is that, according to Mayoclinic.com, stress can lead to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and even diabetes.

Did you know?
  • In your body stress can cause; headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, sleeping problems, and indigestion.
  • For your mood stress can cause; anxiety, depression, and a lack of motivation.
  • For your behavior stress can cause; overeating, anger, drug and alcohol abuse, and social withdrawal.

Take Mayo Clinic's Stress Assessment to see where you stand! http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-assessment/SR00029

Currently, there are two types of stress. One considered almost beneficial (sometimes causing motivation) and one considered problematic.

This is the immediate reaction to a threat or challenge. Generally there are no real health issues caused by acute stress nut if the event is severe enough it can caused PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder.
When stress piles up on top of you and tends to be constant, this is problematic to your health.

With everyone experiencing stress in their daily lives here are some easy ways to alleviate the build up including meditation, relaxation, taking deep breaths, yoga, creative outlets, and simply put: exercise.

You have probably heard more and more about meditation recently, a practice believed to have been started before the 15th century BCE, which can easily cut the tension of stress.   So here are some easy ways to practice meditation…

  • Yoga- has been practiced for thousands of years and includes doing poses called ansanas and can also include breathing and meditation exercises. Yoga can also increase your strength, flexibility, and balance.
  •  Tai Chi- promotes “serenity through gentle movements”. It involves self-paced movements and poses which are achieved through a slow, constant movement.
  •  Mantra- involves chanting a particular word of phrase of your choice, and pushes all other thoughts out of your head, therefore reliving stress and tension.
  • Qi Gong- is similar to combining all other stated forms of reflection like breathing, movement, exercise, and meditation. It is said that Qi Gong can promote a a calm mindful state and allow access to higher realms of awareness.
 And don't forget simple relaxed breathing

See WebMD for some more tips and tricks!

With any medical advice, please talk to your doctor before beginning something like meditation including yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. Some people can cause injury beginning a new exercise regimen. Meditation does not substitute treatment for ailments.

I feel relaxed already!

Have you meditated? What worked best for you? Let us know in the comments section.
As always, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, links are in the right panel!

-Maxwell Law

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Survivor: Eating Disorders

One more and then I’ll stop. These are empty promises we tell ourselves and our loved ones.  Just one more hit. Just one more drink. For me, it was just one more day without eating. One more binge and purge, then I’ll be done. One more day of consuming nothing. Then I’ll stop.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 24 million Americans currently suffer from some type of eating disorder. Over 50% of teenage girls as well as almost 33% of teenage boys use some form of unhealthy weight control. This epidemic is spreading to all ages and every gender identification. Everybody knows somebody with an eating disorder.

Think you don’t? My name is Casie and I’m a recovering anorexic. On my 22nd birthday I contemplated suicide over eating a handful of dry cereal. On the outside, everybody thought that I was in complete control. I was a senior at a state university, president of my lacrosse team, member of a sorority, and prepared to graduate with honors. But on the inside, I was rapidly losing my grip on reality. I was running on nervous energy fueled by an anxiety disorder, depression, and crippling OCD. I never slept. I was always cold. I isolated myself, making excuses so that I would never see my friends or family. I was a skeletal ghost, living only with the companionship of my eating disorder. I was alone and slipping into insanity, where food is weakness and emaciation is success.

There are many symptoms of these diseases and it is important to understand them as signs of mental illnesses, NOT lifestyle choices. The following are examples of symptoms but do not cover the full spectrum of symptoms a person may experience.

1.  Sudden and rapid weight loss.
2.  Skipping or avoiding meals.
3.  Stealing money or food.
4.  An obsession with thinness and outward appearances.
5.  A refusal to maintain a healthy body weight.
6.  Depression and isolation.
7.  Wearing baggy clothing.

But somehow, I got out. Somehow, many other people get out too. On my 22nd birthday, my parents picked me up from school at midnight. Two days later I was in treatment. Hospitalized for a month, I began to pick up the pieces of my life. Therapy, monitored meals, medication, and support groups have helped me regain myself. It is a long process, and one that I cannot describe fully. I am not recovered. I am, and forever will be, recovering. Always there will be the whisper in my head, taunting me to return to my disorder. But always, I will be fighting.

Marya Hornbacher, novelist and recovering anorexic/bulimic eloquently describes the healing process:

“There is never a sudden revelation, a complete and tidy explanation for why it happened, or why it ends, or why or who you are. You want one and I want one, but there isn't one. It comes in bits and pieces, and you stitch them together wherever they fit, and when you are done you hold yourself up, and still there are holes and you are a rag doll, invented, imperfect. And yet you are all that you have, so you must be enough. There is no other way.”

About the author: Casie is a survivor of anorexia nervosa. She works with young students with psychiatric illnesses and is currently a nursing student at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. 

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, please visit www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

-Casie Fain

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Family Meals Mean Values

Work, soccer practice, cheerleading, dropping off Timmy, what don’t you have to do today?! First off, don’t forget to add dinner to your list, but don’t be swayed by slick advertising and the ease of grabbing fast food on your way home, you may pay for it later.

We know that both parents and kids these days lead very busy lives, but something every family needs to take time for is family meals. Did you know teens who ate with their family 5-7 times per week are 4 times less likely to try tobacco, 2 times less likely to drink alcohol, and 2.5 times less likely to use marijuana, according to Columbia University when compared to those who only had family meals 3 or fewer times per week. Pretty big difference, eh?
Having family meals daily can promote positive behavior in your children, create a sense of belonging, and provide an easy way to communicate! When’s a better time to talk to your kids about their day then around the table? Family meals should be a priority which can promote healthy childhood development like increasing good decision making when approached with the ever so common peer pressure and don't forget that according to Professor William Doherty, “One is better than zero” the more you do it, the better. So try to plan meals as often as possible.
An even better idea is to have your kids cook with you! This will teach them life skills for when they become quality, healthy adults (they will love being able to cook once they taste the cafeteria food in College).
Better mental health is not the only health benefit to a family meal time, it can also be linked too:
O        Better nutritional intake
O        Decreased influence for unhealthy weight control practices like crash dieting, bulimia, and anorexia
O        Less substance abuse risk
O        Less chance of childhood obesity
O        Positive attitudes
O       Lasting memories!
How do you make your family meals work? Got any easy recipes the kids can help create? Comment below!
Follow us on Twitter to help you make more healthy choices https://twitter.com/preferredfamily
-Maxwell Law

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Prevention is Key

*SMACK*. You swat at them, you loathe them, and you are scared of them.  It’s that time of year again when mosquitoes and ticks are out and hungry. But how dangerous can these little buggers be?
I will outline diseases caused by ticks and mosquitoes and a few ways to avoid them this summer and fall.
Ticks are small arachnids that feed on the blood of mammals, birds and sometimes reptiles that absolutely make my skin crawl! Just googling pictures of them make me squirm. They are also known to carry disease which can be transferred through blood. According to the CDC, ticks carry pathogens which can cause a disease like anaplasmosis. Caused by the bite of a blacklegged tick, which can be found in the Upper Midwest and Northeastern states, this disease causes fever, headaches, and chills. Next is babesiosis, which can be very harmful to people who do not have a spleen, have a weak immune system, or are elderly. Complications can be unstable blood pressure, malfunction of vital organs and death in some cases. A common disease caused by ticks is called Lyme disease. Typical symptoms include rash (commonly identified), fatigue, and headache. Lyme disease is very serious because if left untreated for a period of time it can cause swelling, shooting pains, Bell’s palsy, and arthritis. Finally I’ll mention TBRF or tick-borne relapsing fever which can be found in 15 states and is from the bite of a soft tick. TBRF is a bacterium which causes relapsing fever, muscle and joint pain, rash, and dizziness. The worst part is that the fever will disappear and reappear between 1-4 times. If you believe you have been bitten by a tick please seek a health care provider.
For more tick related diseases see http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/
Here’s a checklist on how to prevent ticks:
o   Avoid tall grasses and walking through wooded or bushy areas.

o   Use repellents that contain DEET. This usually lasts a few hours.

o   Wear protective clothing that contains permethrin.

o   Bathe right after coming indoors and visually check body for ticks, for parents, check your younger kids because they could miss them. Ticks can be found in armpits, behind ears, in the belly-button, and in hair.

o   Clean items with you. Heat clothes in a dryer for an hour to kill ticks and make sure none tagged along on you camping gear or etc.

o   Finally, remove a tick from your body by using tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin as possible, pull upward (evenly and without twisting), and clean the area with rubbing alcohol. http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html

Mosquitoes are very common. Simply sitting outside for a few moments can invite them to come bite you. “Fewer than 100 of the world’s 2,700 mosquito species carry disease,” says the U.S. Department of Agriculture. So what are the diseases that these pests cause? The most common disease causes 300-500 million infections worldwide, however is not commonly found in the U.S, is malaria. The disease is spread by the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito and regardless of precautions, travelers to regions of Central and South America, Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe can contract the disease. I’m sure you have heard of West Nile Virus or WNV, which is said to flare up in the summer and fall in North America. Although only causing 18 deaths in the U.S. since 1999, WNV can cause some serious illness, especially of those 50 years of age or older. Commonly associated with WNV is arboviral encephalitides, which causes brain swelling. Though cases are rare, this disease is found in the U.S. and has four varieties, and can cause coma, brain damage, and death.
Here’s a checklist on how to prevent mosquitoes:
o   Do not let water sit. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

o   Wear insect repellant or burn citronella candles.

o   Do not wear perfume or cologne outside; mosquitoes are attracted to sweet scents.

o   Keep body covered with clothing.

o   Keep mosquito netting around you (around deck, etc.) and keep tent flaps closed at all times.
Prevention is the easiest way to stay safe this summer and fall!
At Preferred Family Healthcare, we strive to be a dynamic, caring organization united to assist others in achieving their potential.
For more health and wellness tips don’t forget to follow us for #wellnesswednesday on twitter! https://twitter.com/preferredfamily 

-Maxwell Law

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Be Water Safe

It is the time of year where all you want to do is cool down in the pool, drive to your favorite lake, or take a vacation on the beach.

Before you enjoy the water there are many ways to ensure not only your safety, but your families safety as well. For people aged 4-24 drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death. Though a scary figure there are many simple ways to ensure you and your family will be safe this summer.

Most people know this first rule, but it can be forgotten in the heat of the moment when the water starts calling your name. NEVER SWIM ALONE. You do not know what could happen in the water, even experienced swimmers can get severe cramps and have trouble swimming to the edge of the water and getting out. Always swim with a partner, they made need your help too.

KNOW YOUR RESCUE TECHNQUES. Understand how to pull someone from the water if they are having trouble, know how to perform CPR, even have a floating device nearby to throw to someone in trouble. Some organizations like Red Cross or the YMCA may offer free training in your community!
Practice safe swimming!

Just like “Don’t Drink and Drive”, DON’T DRINK AND SWIM. Mixing alcohol and strenuous activity is a bad idea. Alcohol is involved in many water-related injuries and up to half of all water-related deaths. The statistics for teenage boys are particularly scary: One half of all adolescent male drownings are tied to alcohol use.
A large part of water safety involves BOATING SAFETY. Boating is a fun and relaxing activity, but can become deadly if you are not being safe. First, know the weather. Do not plan to go out on a boat in inclement weather. There are many factors like lightening (we all know water conducts electricity), wind gusts, waves, and hail which can turn your trip into a tragedy. Second, make sure your captain and boat are up to the task. Your captain should be experienced and able bodied to drive the boat, he should know the laws of the water. The boat should be well maintained and water ready too! Remember: Don’t drink and drive. Third, make sure the boat has enough floatation devices for everyone aboard, you do not want to be caught in a situation where you run out! Finally, it may be a good idea to let someone on shore know where you are going, how long you’ll be there, and when you will be back. This will ensure that if someone will be keeping an eye on you and if you need assistance it can be there quickly.

Just remember to be cautious and aware and have a great safe summer brought to you by Preferred Family Healthcare.

For more health news, follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/preferredfamily

More safety information can be found at:

-Maxwell Law