THIS WEEK’S TOP STORIES Older drivers: 7 tips for driver safety Sometimes, driving can be challenging for older adults. Follow these safety tips for older drivers, from staying physically active to planning ahead and updating your skills.
Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior You may think illness is to blame for that muscle pain, nagging headache or frequent insomnia, but stress may be the true culprit. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Here’s what you should know.
EXPERT ANSWERS Kidney dialysis: When is it time to stop? Learn what factors help your doctor determine how well kidney dialysis is working, when it might be time to stop and other health concerns that might need attention first.
What is hidradenitis suppurativa? Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic condition characterized by painful lumps under the skin. Learn more about the symptoms and causes of hidradenitis suppurativa, and when you should seek medical care.
HEALTH TIP OF THE WEEK Hay fever: How to avoid triggers If you have hay fever, the best thing you can do is lessen your exposure to allergens, such as pollen and mold. Try these strategies:
Close doors and windows during pollen season.
Use air conditioning in your house and car.
Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning, when pollen counts are highest.
Use a dehumidifier to reduce indoor humidity.
Use a high-efficiency particulate air filter in your bedroom.
Need practical advice on diet and exercise? Want creative solutions for stress and other lifestyle issues? Discover more healthy lifestyle topics at mayoclinic.org.
NOW BLOGGING Nutrition-wise: Why variety matters Eating a diverse diet is a key to good health. Yet the world’s food supply is based on an increasingly limited number of crops. Learn more about why this matters and what you can do to add variety to your diet.
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Stress is something that just about everyone knows well and experiences often. It’s that feeling of pressure, typically a result of too much to do and too little time to do it in. In a busy life, stress is almost unavoidable. Stress is caused by events hat are positive — new job, vacation or marriage — as well as negative — job loss, divorce or death int he family. Stress is not the event itself but rather, your psychological or physical reaction to the event.
Anxiety is a tense feeling that often accompanies stress. It’s typically directed toward the future — toward something that may happen soon. Some Anxiety can motivate you or help yo respond to danger. However, if you have ongoing anxiety that interferes with daily activities and makes it hard to enjoy life, then anxiety can be a problem.
Lifestyle and home remedies:
Keep physically active. Develop a routine so that you’re physically active most days of the week. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. It may improve your mood and help you stay healthy. Start out slowly and gradually increase the amount and intensity of your activities.
Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. These substances can cause or worsen anxiety. If you can’t quit on your own, see your doctor or find a support group to help you.
Quit smoking and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages. Both nicotine and caffeine can worsen anxiety.
Discuss your concerns. Talking with a trusted friend helps relieve stress and may provide a more positive perspective on your situation. This may lead to healthy plan of action.
Use stress management and relaxation techniques. Visualization techniques, meditation and yoga are examples of relaxation techniques that can ease anxiety.
Learn to relax. Your goal is to lower your heart rate and blood pressure while also reducing muscle tension.
Make sleep a priority. Do what you can to make sure you’re getting enough sleep to feel rested. If you aren’t sleeping well, see your doctor.
Eat healthy. Healthy eating — such as focusing on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish — may be linked to reduced anxiety, but more research is needed.
Art and music therapy can be helpful. You can use drawing, painting, clay and sculpture to express you inner thought and emotions when talking about them is difficult. The creation and interpretations of art is thought to therapeutic. Listening to or playing music even during medical procedures a]has also been shown to have relaxing and calming effects.
To cope with an anxiety disorder, here are things to consider:
Learn about your disorder. Talk to your doctor or mental health provider. Find out what might be causing your specific condition and what treatments might be best for you. Involve your family and friends and ask for their support.
Stick to your treatment plan. Take medications as directed. Keep therapy appointments and complete any assignments your therapist may give you. Consistency can make a big difference, especially when it comes to taking your medication.
Take action. Learn what triggers your anxiety or causes you stress. Practice the strategies you developed with your mental health provider so you’re ready to deal with anxious feelings in these situations.
Keep a journal. Keeping track of your personal life can help you and your mental health provider identify what’s causing you stress and what seems to help you feel better.
Join an anxiety support group. Remember that you aren’t alone. Support groups offer compassion, understanding and shared experiences. The National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America provide information on finding support.
Learn time management techniques. You can reduce anxiety by learning how to carefully manage your time and energy.
Socialize. Don’t let worries isolate you from loved ones or activities.
Break the cycle. When you feel anxious, take a brisk walk or delve into a hobby to refocus your mind away from your worries.
There’s no way to predict for certain what will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder, but you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you’re anxious:
Get help early. Anxiety, like many other mental health conditions, can be harder to treat if you wait.
Stay active. Participate in activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good about yourself. Enjoy social interaction and caring relationships, which can lessen your worries.
Avoid alcohol or drug use. Alcohol and drug use can cause or worsen anxiety. If you’re addicted to any of these substances, quitting can make you anxious. If you can’t quit on your own, see your doctor or find a support group to help you.
In times of stress, many of us turn for consolation to sugary, fatty, high-calorie foods. Macaroni and cheese? Meatloaf and mashed potatoes with extra butter? A massive hunk of buttercream-frosted cake? They don’t call them “comfort foods” for nothing.
“I often see unmanaged stress lead to overeating and binging with my clients,” says Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, author of Nourish Your Namaste e-bookandblogger at The Foodie Dietitian. “When we push away our basic needs for self-care — relaxation, spirituality, fun, sleep — we wind up feeling overexerted, depleted and stressed and turn to food as a way to fulfill an unmet need. Overeating because of stress often leads to more stress and anxiety and it becomes a vicious cycle.”
Given that, the results of a recent British study that found a link between long-term stress and obesity may not come as much of a surprise.
The study, conducted by researchers at University College London and published in the journal Obesity, looked at hair samples representing about two months of growth from more than 2,500 men and women age 54 and over participating in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to determine the levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, present in the hair. The researchers found that those with higher levels of cortisol, which plays a role in metabolism and fat storage, were more likely to be overweight or obese – to have a larger waist circumference, weigh more and have a higher body-mass index.
Although the study found only an association and not evidence of cause or consequence, the study is important in light of the dangers of excess abdominal fat, including heart disease, diabetes and early death, lead author Sarah Jackson, a research associate in the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, maintains.
“I think the take-home message from our study is really to try and maintain awareness of healthy lifestyle habits during times of stress,” Jackson tells Healthy Eats. “When we’re stressed out we may find it more difficult to find the motivation to go for a run or resist unhealthy foods, and that’s when it is easier for weight to creep on.”
The study also underscores the need to find ways of curtailing stress or dealing with it in ways that don’t involve food, Jackson says.
Lydon agrees. She recommends that, when you feel compelled to binge or overeat in times of stress, that you pause and ask yourself the food you’re about to tuck into is really what you need. “Often times, taking a walk outside to connect with nature or taking a warm candlelit bath is enough to fulfill an unmet need and the craving subsides,” she says.
Because everyone is different, Lydon suggests making a list of non-food-related things that help you combat stress – and keeping them handy. “Things like yoga, deep breathing, meditation, going out with friends, coloring, venting to a loved one, or getting a hug can all release some stress,” she says.
And unlike that buttercreamy hunk of cake, a hug, while equally sweet, is calorie-free.
Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.
ROCHESTER, Minn. – A new survey by Mayo Clinic revealed that more than two-thirds of African-Americans are concerned about their heart health (71 percent), which is significantly more than Caucasian (41 percent) or Hispanic (37 percent) respondents. Respondents from the South (51 percent) were also significantly more likely to express concern than those in the Northeast (39 percent) or West (35 percent).
These findings were uncovered as part of the Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup, which first launched in January 2016 and provides a quick pulse on consumer health opinions and behaviors at multiple times throughout the year.
“The Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup helps us to better understand the health knowledge and practices of all Americans, beyond the patients that walk through our doors,” says John Wald, M.D., medical director for Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic. “With each survey, we’re able to pinpoint what we’re doing well as a nation and what needs improvement, so that we can create a dialogue about those important topics.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Kelly Reller, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, [email protected]
Search engines help consumers learn more, manage health conditions
When it comes to knowledge of heart health, doctors (81 percent) were cited as having the biggest influence on consumer knowledge, followed by family members (63 percent). The most likely reasons to think about heart health include:
A family member or friend being diagnosed with heart disease (84 percent)
Visiting a primary care physician (80 percent)
Conversations with a significant other or children (69 percent)
1 in 4 has family history of heart disease before age 55
Nearly a quarter of respondents (24 percent) cited a family history of heart disease (i.e., heart attack, bypass surgery or stents before 55). This history impacted knowledge and behaviors for many respondents:
Eighty-five percent answered that they were more aware of the symptoms of a heart attack because of their family history.
Among baby boomers, 53 percent of those with a family history of heart disease answered that they took a daily aspirin, and the same percentage kept an aspirin with them at all times.
When asked what they do to help prevent heart disease, men (68 percent) were more likely than women (60 percent) to say that they exercise regularly, and women (68 percent) were more likely than men (58 percent) to answer that they eat heart-healthy foods.
“Knowledge is power,” says Dr. Wald. “You can manage your risk for heart disease by taking proactive steps, such as improving your diet, exercising regularly, and keeping a check on your cholesterol and blood pressure. To top it off, Mayo Clinic now offers a blood test that can predict the likelihood of having a heart attack within one year, which helps us intervene early and prevent a heart attack before it happens.”
Women exercise for weight loss; men exercise for recreation
The survey also explored healthy behaviors, such as exercise, revealing that men and women have different motivators. Women (70 percent) are more likely than men (60 percent) to exercise for weight loss or management; whereas, men (59 percent) are more likely than women (45 percent) to exercise for recreation. Less than half of respondents answered that they knew what their target heart rate should be during exercise. Maintaining a target heart rate can reduce the risk of overtraining or not training enough.
Job and/or school ranks as top stressor for Americans
Unrelieved stress can damage your arteries and worsen other risk factors for heart disease. When asked to pick the one factor that contributed the most to their level of stress over the past year, respondents were most likely to answer their job and/or school (29 percent):
Baby boomers (17 percent) were more likely than millennials (10 percent) to cite politics as a top stressor.
Hispanic respondents (41 percent) were more likely to answer job and/or school than Caucasians (27 percent) or African-Americans (18 percent).
African-American respondents (20 percent) were more likely to list health issues as their primary cause of stress than Caucasians (10 percent) or Hispanics (4 percent).
“Our third National Health Checkup revealed that African-Americans not only are more concerned about their heart health, but they also experience significantly more stress as a result of their health issues,” says Dr. Wald. “It is clear that we need to help empower all Americans, and in particular those who are most concerned about their heart health, to help manage their risk. Discuss these concerns with your doctor, and know your family history.”
About the Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup The Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup was conducted through an ORC International Telephone CARAVAN survey of 1,005 adults living in the continental U.S. and was conducted Dec. 15-18, 2016. To learn more, visit healthcheckup.mayoclinic.org.
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