Test This Idea For Yourself

Man pulling the curtain up to a new colorful world.It’s well known that chronic exposure to bad news can increase risk for sadness, depression, and other negative emotional issues.

But the opposite is just as true. When you focus on positive aspects of your life, your brain is more likely to produce positive hormones and act as a bit of a buffer against the usual stressors of your day.

The changing seasons gives us a chance to test this idea for ourselves!

Now that we are moving into fall and then winter, health articles commonly focus on the symptoms that one might get as the seasons change. This exposure can lead some to become very concerned about them, looking for them, anticipating them. And once you get locked into this form of mental worry of looking for negative symptoms, even to the point of anxiety, the brain can produce the stress hormones that make those feelings of sadness even worse than they might otherwise be.

So this fall and winter, let’s test this idea for ourselves!

Make a conscious effort to create positive brain chemicals, which you get through positive emotions, which you get through positive thoughts. This will help bias your entire system in a more positive emotional direction.

It’s important to point out that the psychological changes that can happen with the change in seasons are absolutely real. And positive thinking will not remove them. But what they can do is nudge that emotional equilibrium more in a direction that will benefit you more in the long term.

As always, check with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns at all.

Your Health and the Changing Seasons

It is common to hear that moving into fall and winter can contribute to feelings of sadness or perhaps even weight gain. The condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder is the most well known emotional outcome of the shorter, colder days that are coming.

Woman in Field of spring Flowers Happy

But keep in mind that negative emotional changes are not inevitable! Of course, moving into spring and summer typically brings changes such as more energy or optimism. But autumn can be a time when we look forward to the holidays, chilly weather indoors with friends and family, fires, and the rest.

Whatever changes do happen to you, scientists have new explanations for why this can occur. For example, mood and metabolism changes with the changing seasons may be due to the expression of our DNA, which can vary when one moves from spring into summer, or from fall into winter.

However, even these changes in your DNA can be modified by your attitude. Creating positive expectations for yourself can help offset physiological changes, and head off the more negative emotional changes that can sometime come with the autumn weather.

As we get ready for the change in seasons this year, note how you feel and that these symptoms may simply be related to the changing seasons. And remember to do what you can to create more positive emotional balance by finding the good in your day, looking to the most positive interpretations and expectations you can create.

  • Immune System: DNA expression changes can affect immune system activity, making one more susceptible to infection.
  • Brain Activity: Another study looking at brain activity showed that attention and memory may be affected seasonal changes.
  • Migraines: A recent study found that seasonal weather changes can increase headaches, including migraines.
  • Sleep: Researchers showed that the shorter days of autumn can produce “hypersomnia”, which is the exact opposite of insomnia. Subjects slept nearly three hours more each day in the fall than at any other time of the year.

The Most Important Part of Your Brain That You Never Think of

Your blood vessels (arteries, capillaries, and veins) carry oxygen and nutrients into your brain cells to keep them healthy. If your blood vessels are unhealthy, they can break open. This is called a stroke and can lead to permanent impairment or death.

Brain model showing its blood vesselsIt is critical to keep blood vessels healthy. One easy way is through regular exercise, which has been shown to help keep blood vessels elastic and strong.

Another way to care for blood vessels is to make sure blood pressure stays under control. Certain foods can help control elevated blood pressure. These include walnuts, high-cocoa chocolate, olive oil, berries, and green leafy vegetables.

Finally, consuming healthy fats can help arteries stay pliant and healthy. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids not only helps prevent stroke but aids in memory and cognitive function.

With a proper diet and regular exercise, arteries will have their best chance to stay healthy for life.

With Exercise, Start Where You Are

If you have fallen out of your activity schedule over the past couple of months, it is time to reset your routine; if you think about exercise in the following way, it will be easier to start and sustain.

For any exercise you do, there is some amount you can complete before you tire out. That amount does not matter. Whether your activity is minutes walking, distance traveled, stairs taken, this is nothing more than your starting point. The most important metric each week is not that number, but how that number changes over time.

To reset your exercise, look for improvement over time. If you do X this week, but then do X + 1 the next time, you win! This sustainable goal allows you to start exactly where you are.

The Stress of the New Normal

The current COVID-19 pandemic has had us all adapt to a “new normal”. Changing old routines can create stressors; although we have no control over how long this situation will last, there are things we can control.

• With all the changes we face, it becomes more important than ever to keep as many personal routines intact as possible. These personal habits can act as stabilizing emotional anchors in the midst of so much other change.
• Personal routines include your daily morning habits, your family time, carving out quiet time for yourself, and making movement happen every day.
• Cherish these routines for yourself, as they will help provide a level of constancy in our ever-changing new normal circumstance.

 

Brain Boosters

Research demonstrates that learning new things and having new experiences can aid in preventing memory loss and keep the brain alert in the process.

CG Brain Lifting WeightsEngaging in novel activities is like taking your brain tissue to the gym. This encourages more connections to be formed and strengthened.

The outcome is that individuals tend to have less age-related cognitive decline and memory loss.

Just as we exercise other parts of the body, our brain needs a good workout too. Remember, it’s about trying something novel:

  • Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.
  • Cook a food you’ve never prepared before.
  • Pick a word and learn to say it in a variety of languages.
  • Give a new sport a try.
  • Learn a new dance.
  • Pick up a new hobby such as crocheting or gardening.

Traveling While Staying Put

The current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic may have put a hold on your travel plans. However, research shows creating time away from work is beneficial for stress management; yet this does not mean you need to take an elaborate trip to receive the benefits that a break from work can offer.

Pic of someone going to an online museum on their phoneHere are some tips to help you experience traveling while staying put. More than ever we need to practice stress management; we hope the ideas suggested can help you relax a bit. However, when doing so, please make sure to follow the guidelines set to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your place of living to keep you and others well and safe.

  • Host a culturally themed party. Pick a place, then create an artful invitation; delegate the invitees to bring a side, main, dessert or drink from the chosen region. Play that regions music at the gathering.
  • Take a couple days off work then only do things that you enjoy and or are new to you.
    • Pick up the guitar or camera that you have not utilized in quite some time.
    • Order takeout from a restaurant that is new to you. Or try a new hike. The goal here is to create enjoyment as well as to try new things.
  • Watch a positive movie based in a country that you have a desire to travel to one day.

 

CDC Recommendations If You MUST Use Public Transporation

Given the importance of the global pandemic, I think it’s important to provide the current advice from the Centers For Disease Control (CDC). This month, we will focus on being safe during the summer season.  

Rideshare, taxi, limo for-hire vehicle passengers

Follow the general principles listed above, plus the following. . .

Avoid touching surfaces.

  • Avoid contact with surfaces frequently touched by passengers or drivers, such as the door frame and handles, windows, and other vehicle parts. In circumstances where such contact is unavoidable, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol as soon as possible afterwards.
  • Avoid accepting offers of free water bottles and avoid touching magazines or other items that may be provided for free to passengers.
  • Use touchless payment when available.

Practice social distancing.

  • Limit the number of passengers in the vehicle to only those necessary.
  • Avoid pooled rides or rides where multiple passengers are picked up who are not in the same household.
  • Sit in the back seat in larger vehicles such as vans and buses so you can remain at least six feet away from the driver.

Improve ventilation.

  • Ask the driver to improve the ventilation in the vehicle if possible — for example, by opening the windows or setting the air ventilation/air conditioning on non-recirculation mode.

Practice hand hygiene.

  • After leaving the vehicle, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • When you arrive at your destination, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

bicycle light icon

Shared bikes, scooters, skateboards, and other micro-mobility devices

Follow the general principles listed above, plus the following. . .

Clean and disinfect surfaces.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on the device (e.g., handlebars, gears, braking handles, locks etc.) or shared equipment before you use it. Use disinfecting wipes, if available.

Avoid touching surfaces.

  • Use touchless payment when available and if applicable.

Practice hand hygiene.

  • After completing your trip, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

car side light icon

Personal vehicles

Follow the general principles listed above, plus the following. . .

Clean and disinfect surfaces.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly (for example, the steering wheel, gear shift, door frame/handles, windows, radio/temperature dials, and seatbelt buckles).
  • When using parking meters and pay stations, consider using alcohol wipes to disinfect surfaces or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol after use. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as soon as it is possible.

Practice social distancing.

  • Consider limiting the number of passengers in the vehicle to only those necessary (for example, choose one or two family members who are not at higher risk for severe illness to run the essential errands).

Improve ventilation.

  • Improve the ventilation in the vehicle if possible (for example, open the windows or set the air ventilation/air conditioning on non-recirculation mode).

CDC Gives “Do’s and Don’ts” of National Park Trips!

Given the importance of the global pandemic, I think it’s important to provide the current advice from the Centers For Disease Control (CDC). This month, we will focus on being safe during the summer season.  

 

Staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy. In many areas, people can visit parks, trails, and open spaces as a way to relieve stress, get some fresh air, and stay active.

Know before you go: While these facilities and areas can offer health benefits, it is important that you follow the steps below to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

DO

Visit parks that are close to your home.

Check with the park or recreation area in advance to prepare safely and to find out if the bathroom facilities are open and what services are available.

Stay at least 6 feet away from others you don’t live with (“social distancing”) and take other steps to prevent COVID-19.

Carefully consider use of playgrounds, and help children follow guidelines.

Play it safe around and in swimming pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds by keeping space between yourself and others.

DON’T

Visit parks if you are sick with, tested positive for COVID-19, or know you were recently exposed to COVID-19.

Visit crowded parks.

Do’s:

Do: Visit parks that are close to your home

Traveling long distances to visit a park may contribute to the spread of COVID-19, as:

  • Travel may require you to stop along the way or be in close contact with others with whom you may not otherwise have contact.
  • Travel may also expose you to surfaces contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Do: Check with the park or recreation area in advance to prepare safely.

National, State, or local parks

The federal or State and local authorities will decide whether parks and other recreational facilities will open. Check with the park in advance to be sure you know which areas or services are open, such as visitors’ centers, bathroom facilities, and concessions, and bring what you need with you, such as hand sanitizer or other supplies to maintain proper hygiene.

Beaches or other swimming areas

State and local authorities will decide whether swim areas at oceans, lakes, and other natural bodies of water will be open. Please check with individual beaches for specific details, including whether the water is open for swimming.

 

Do: Stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with (“social distancing”) and take other steps to prevent COVID-19.

When visiting parks, beaches, or recreational facilities open for public use, try to protect against exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, by practicing social distancing and everyday steps such as washing hands often and covering coughs and sneezes.
Follow these actions when visiting a park, beach, or recreational facility:

  • Stay at least 6 feet from others at all times. This might make some open areas, trails, and paths better to use than others. Do not go into a crowded area.
  • Avoid gathering with people you don’t live with.
  • Wear a cloth face covering as feasible. Face coverings are most essential in times when social distancing is difficult. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, can’t move, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • Adults and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer: Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and rub hands together until dry, if soap and water are not readily available.

 

Do: Carefully consider use of playgrounds, and help children follow guidelines.

In communities where there is ongoing spread of COVID-19, playgrounds can be hard to keep safe because:

  • They are often crowded and could make social distancing difficult;
  • It can be difficult to keep surfaces clean and disinfected;
  • SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread when young children touch contaminated objects, and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.

If you choose to visit a playground:

  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Adults and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer: Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and rub hands together until dry, if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Wear a cloth face covering, if you can. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on:
    • Children under age 2;
    • Anyone who has trouble breathing;
    • Anyone who is unconscious, can’t move, or is otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.

 

Do: Play it safe around and in swimming pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds, and keep space between yourself and others.

Evidence suggests that COVID-19 cannot be spread to humans through most recreational water. Additionally, proper operation of these aquatic venues and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity needed for a healthy life. Taking steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is one way you can play it safe in and around swimming pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds.

  • Don’t visit a swimming pool if you are sick with, tested positive for, or were recently exposed to COVID-19.
  • Practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet (two meters) from people you don’t live with.
  • Keep your hands clean by washing hands with soap and water, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • Adults and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer: Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and rub hands together until dry, if soap and water are not readily available.

Swimming does carry some health and safety risks. Visit CDC’s Healthy Swimming website for information to help you prevent illness and drowning, so you can safely enjoy the fun and health benefits of swimming.

Don’ts:

Don’t: Visit parks if you are sick with, tested positive for COVID-19, or were recently (within 14 days) exposed to COVID-19.

  • If you are sick with or tested positive for COVID-19, were recently exposed (within 14 days) to someone with COVID-19, or just don’t feel well, do not visit public areas including parks or recreational facilities.
  • Follow recommended steps to take if you are sick.

Don’t: Visit crowded parks

  • Do not visit parks where you cannot stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with.

 

 

CDC Recommendations for the Beach and Pools

Given the importance of the global pandemic, I think it’s important to provide the current advice from the Centers For Disease Control (CDC). This month, we will focus on being safe during the summer season.  

Visiting Beaches and Pools

What you need to know

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away, both in and out of the water, from people you don’t live with.
  • Wear a cloth face covering when you are not in the water.
  • Wash your hands often and don’t share items with people you don’t live with.

The places we visit to swim, play, and relax in water include beaches — swim areas in oceans, lakes, and other natural bodies of water — and pools, water playgrounds, and hot tubs. There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people through water in these places.

The virus is thought to spread mostly person-to-person, by respiratory droplets released when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. The virus might also spread to hands from a contaminated surface and then to the nose, mouth, or possibly eyes. Infected people can spread the virus whether or not they have symptoms.

Fortunately, there are several actions you can take to reduce your risk of getting or spreading the virus when you go to public swim areas, such as beaches, pools, water playgrounds, and hot tubs.

Before you go

  • Stay home if you have symptoms of COVID-19, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are waiting for COVID-19 test results, or were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Check to see if the public swim area, pool, water playground, or hot tub has steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Bring supplies that help you and others stay healthy—for example, a cloth face covering (or two, for each person, in case one gets wet), hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, disinfectant wipes, tissues, and paper towels.

Use social distancing in and out of the water

  • Whether you’re in or out of the water, stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with.
  • Avoid crowded swim areas, beaches, pools, water playgrounds, and hot tubs where you cannot stay 6 feet away from others.

Wear a cloth face covering

  • Wear cloth face coverings when you are not in the water.
    • Do not place a cloth face covering on children younger than 2 years of age or on anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without help.
  • Face coverings are especially important when physical distancing is hard.

Wash hands often and avoid sharing items

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating or drinking and when you arrive and leave the swim area. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and rub until your hands are dry.
    • Hand sanitizers are not as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy, so wipe sand or dirt off before applying it.
  • Avoid sharing items, such as food, equipment, toys, and supplies, with people who don’t live with you.
  • If you are not wearing your cloth face covering, make sure to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or inside of your elbow, throw the tissue in the trash, and wash your hands immediately, or if soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.

Check out more information on how to protect yourself and others. Know the symptoms of COVID-19, and contact your health care provider if you develop symptoms.

Swimming does carry some health and safety risks. Visit CDC’s Healthy Swimming website for information to help you prevent illness and drowning, so you can safely enjoy the fun and health benefits of swimming.

CDC Travel Recommendations for Summer!

Given the importance of the global pandemic, I think it’s important to provide the current advice from the Centers For Disease Control (CDC). This month, we will focus on being safe during the summer season.  

If You Travel …

Protect yourself and others during your trip:

  • Clean your hands often.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, after touching surfaces frequently touched by others, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and before touching your face or eating.
    • If soap and water are not available, bring and use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with others.
    • Keep 6 feet of physical distance from others.
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Pick up food at drive-throughs, curbside restaurant service, or stores.

Considerations for Types of Travel

Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. We don’t know if one type of travel is safer than others; however, airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces. These are also places where it can be hard to social distance (keep 6 feet apart from other people).

Consider the following risks for getting or spreading COVID-19, depending on how you travel:

Air travel

Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within 6 feet), sometimes for hours. This may increase your risk for exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

Bus or train travel

Traveling on buses and trains for any length of time can involve sitting or standing within 6 feet of others.

Car travel

Making stops along the way for gas, food, or bathroom breaks can put you and your traveling companions in close contact with other people and surfaces.

RV travel

You may have to stop less often for food or bathroom breaks, but RV travel typically means staying at RV parks overnight and getting gas and supplies at other public places. These stops may put you and those with you in the RV in close contact with others.

Learn more about how to protect yourself from COVID-19 on different types of transportation on CDC’s website Protect Yourself When Using Transportation.

Anticipate Travel Needs

  • Bring enough of your medicine to last you for the entire trip.
  • Pack enough alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and keep it within easy to reach.
  • Bring a cloth face covering to wear in public places.
  • Prepare food and water for your trip. Pack non-perishable food in case restaurants and stores are closed.
  • Take steps to protect yourself from COVID-19 when booking accommodations or planning an overnight stay.
  • If you are considering cleaning your travel lodgings, see CDC’s guidance on how to clean and disinfect.

State and Local Travel Restrictions

Follow state and local travel restrictions. For up-to-date information and travel guidance, check the state or local health department where you are, along your route, and at your planned destination. While you are traveling, it is possible a state or local government may put into place travel restrictions, such as stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, mandated quarantines upon arrival, or even state border closures. Plan to keep checking for updates as you travel.

Add Color To Your Diet

The expression “Eating a Rainbow” is used by multiple health organizations to encourage us to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. When you eat a broad variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, you get healthy nutrients called phytochemicals.

Happy boy on a diet with food, eating a red apple sitting at the tableThese are naturally occurring plant-based chemicals that protect plants against things such as insects and UV light. For us, they help us in the prevention of chronic diseases.

Phytochemicals are also found in many herbs, red wine, coffee, teas, and dark chocolate. In this issue, we’ll highlight some of the most common colors.

Here are some tips for ways to get more of these beneficial phytonutrients.

  • Dietary guidelines suggest eating 5 portions of fruits and vegetables daily. Set a goal for yourself to have at least 1 to 2 portions at each meal.
  • You get more antioxidants by leaving the colorful skin on! This includes delicious foods like the purple eggplant, the red apple, and the orange sweet potato.
  • In addition to the foods you eat, choose drinks that contain phytonutrients:
    • End your meal with a cup of green tea.
    • If you drink alcohol, enjoy a glass of red wine. Have it with food and in moderation.
    • Enjoy black coffee, leaving out excess sugar and other artificial flavorings.
  • End a meal with a piece of dark chocolate or frozen blueberries.