By Dr. Nina Radcliff
Health Benefits of Relaxation & Refreshment
Research continues to underscore the great health benefits from the simple act of relaxation. Of course for many, taking time to relax is not so simple. Facts are that it may be hard to take a break or to even plan to take a day off “to relax” or chill on vacation. But rest and relaxation is important to maintaining your physical and mental health.
Giving ourselves a break, and some quality downtime – away from the daily hustle and bustle – works!! And it doesn’t really matter what the “relaxation”activity or inactivity is but rather to give yourself (body, mind, heart, and spirit) a chance to relax, refresh and recharge. While being “on” 24/7 is a part of our modern day, we are not designed to go 24/7/365.
Rest and relaxation are essential if we wish to function properly and effectively. And doing so will leave you feeling ready to take on the world once more – along with added health benefits.
Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know: About Relaxation and Health Benefits
Sources define relaxation in psychology, as the emotional state of low tension, in which there is an absence of arousal that could come from anger, anxiety or fear – or a too demanding, busy lifestyle. According to the Oxford dictionary, “Relaxation is when the body and mind are free from tension and anxiety (resting mind and body). It may mean re-establishing equilibrium after a disturbance.” [Read more…]
By Dr. Nina Radcliff
Our pools, lakes, beaches, ponds and waterparks offer refreshing fun along with an oh-so-welcomed cooldown on hot days. And enjoying the water is a great way to spend time with family and friends (and get some exercise)—but as these water times arrive, so does the need for extra precaution!!
It’s a very sad fact that everyday 10 people die from unintentional drowning–and too that it is the second leading cause of unintentional injury related deaths to children under 14 years of age. And of those who survive, many receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries including severe brain damage. This may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).
These facts are staggering – and heartbreaking!! While we do not want to think about the chances of tragedy striking while we enjoy our fun, it is vital to take safety precautions to ensure a healthy, happy and safe time in the water.
Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know: Drowning and Water Safety
What is drowning?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as the “process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion or immersion in liquid.” This definition encompasses both fatal and non-fatal events. When water enters our lungs, it impedes the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Our lungs are meant to be sterile, meaning only air should enter—other elements are not welcome. And if these other elements enter, our body reacts with inflammation and swelling which further impairs air exchange. [Read more…]
By Dr. Nina Radcliff
Know the Signs of Dry Drowning, Secondary Drowning
As temperatures rise, millions upon millions throughout our nation respond to the call of sparkling bodies of water in our backyard or community swimming pools, lakes, beaches, ponds and waterparks, “to hop in, get wet, enjoy and cool down!”
It is so true, water can be refreshing and fun – but we must be prepared for serious fun as it can also be deadly – in less than a minute, without even a sound or a splash. Drowning, near-drowning and water submersion injuries are highly prevalent, yet preventable causes of death and injury for all ages. This week and next I am providing vital information on water safety.
You may have heard the tragic news that almost a week after playing in the water on a family vacation, a 4-year old boy from Texas took his last breath from what has been reported as a “Dry Drowning.” Reportedly, the young boy was playing in knee-deep water during a weekend trip in the waters of the Galveston Bay when he was knocked down by a wave from a distant ship. The young child’s head went under water but he was quickly picked-up by an accompanying family friend and “seemed okay.”
In fact, it was reported that the child had fun the rest of the day and it was not until the next day that the child began vomiting and having diarrhea. His parents had in the past taken him to the doctors for similar symptoms and they were advised it was the stomach bug, so they decided to treat him at home–the thought of a submersion injury did not cross their mind. [Read more…]
By Dr. Nina Radcliff
If you think you have everything figured out about ticks, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants you to revisit “what you know” – warning that it could be one of the worst summers on record. In fact, infections from tick-borne diseases in the United States are steadily increasing — and too, new tick-borne diseases have been discovered in recent years. Add to all of this, the geographic ranges of ticks also are expanding.
Most of us know that ticks are small insects (arachnids) that bite to fasten themselves onto the skin of an animal or human – and feed on blood. When an infected tick bites a person or an animal, the tick’s saliva transmits infectious agents—bacteria, viruses, or parasites—that can cause illness. They include: Lyme disease bacteria, Babesia protozoa, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and other rickettsia, even encephalitis-causing viruses, and possibly Bartonella bacteria. While “back in the day,” tick bites were more of an annoyance, today a bite is much more likely to make you sick and can even change your life!
And it is “tick season.” The CDC reports that from May through August, people get tick bites and tick borne diseases more often than any other time of year. Let’s look at important information, measures for prevention and symptoms to watch for – for your safety. [Read more…]
So many of us with dyslexia have not felt heard or understood until very recently, with the influx of new data about our condition.
One of my personal goals is to promote dyslexia awareness because despite new research about the condition, many misconceptions and inaccurate beliefs are still rampant. Why is it important to set the record straight?
Because dyslexia is not something that can be “cured” or reversed by any means: diet, exercises, medication, herbs, or talk therapy.
It’s very important to make sure that parents whose kids have dyslexia have realistic expectations for their loved ones and the resources to understand the full scope of their children’s needs.
How disheartening it would be for a dyslexic child who had faithfully followed some form of “treatment” if a parent or teacher showed disappointment or frustration because the child’s dyslexia did not “resolve.” The last thing dyslexic kids need is more shame.
In one of my older dyslexia-related blog posts, a kind reader sent in her child’s experience with doing some kinesthetic exercises to help integrate both sides of his brain. There are lots of tried-and-true left/right brain integration exercises like the one her son benefitted from, and they can be quite effective for a number of situations. In this child’s case, he had been reversing some of his letters when writing, and so was thought to be dyslexic. After the exercises, though, his issues happily resolved. While I’m certainly delighted that her child no longer struggles to write, can all parents of struggling readers/writers expect similar outcomes?
No. [Read more…]
By Dr. Nina Radcliff
With Spring’s temperatures warming up, you may find yourself among the estimated 50 million people throughout our nation afflicted with puffy, itchy eyes; a scratchy throat; sneezing and coughing; or even shortness of breath. Reports are that local hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices are seeing high volumes of people suffering from allergies this season. And those with asthma may find seasonal allergies are making their condition harder to control. Also if you think you are immune to allergies but have noticed some of these symptoms, understand this….allergies can begin at any point in your life.
During this time of the year, major allergy triggers are often related to tree and flower pollination that occurs in the Spring. These pollens are often lightweight and can travel significant distances, often ending up in people’s noses and mouths.
And as much as we enjoy the charms of spring, seasonal allergies — also called hay fever and allergic rhinitis — can make you feel miserable. Add to this, allergies can affect your quality of your life—sinus infections, disrupting sleep, and ability to perform well on projects at work or in school. While there is no known cure for allergies, they can be managed through prevention and treatment. So, if you are – or someone you love is — battling allergies, here are some tips to help alleviate symptoms and manage seasonal allergies. [Read more…]
Agents Contributing to Better Health and Our Well Being
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art,” said the 17th-century writer François de La Rochefoucau. And there are many facets of this intelligence that comes to benefit our good health.
This week, millions of family dining room tables, kitchens and restaurant tables – as well as picnic tables — are welcoming family and friends of all ages as they join together in the spring and hope celebrations, Passover and Easter. And along with thoughtful, delicious meals, there are great health benefits that just gathering together as family and friends around a dining table provides – that ranks right up there with nutritious heart and mind healthy foods.
Yes, generally when we think about health benefits of eating, we typically consider what we should – or should not – eat; or what nutritious value is within what we are consuming; or calculating how much salt or sugar and even how much we should be eating. However, experts agree—along with the prospect of the eating experience being delicious and enjoyable – gathering around a dining table together has far reaching physical and mental health benefits, for everyone of all ages. At the table, we share stories, build upon relationships, learn from each other’s mistakes and triumphs, and not only creating bonds that define us, our friends, and our families but also architecting the hallmarks of our wellbeing. In fact, this time benefits every aspect of your wellbeing — emotionally, physically, socially, occupationally, spiritually, intellectually and mentally – which is all acts and interact in a way that contributes to our overall quality of life. [Read more…]
By Dr. Nina Radcliff
It’s Spring — and interestingly science finds that we actually get excited as we gravitate towards a time of renewal in nature and “lighter” times. For most our nation, our clocks spring forward and we enjoy lighter hours, longer; we begin shedding heavier gear for lighter outfits; and some researchers note that we tend to eat lighter and too, shift to lighter, sunnier attitudes.
And if that is not fascinating enough unto itself, two captivating studies I read a couple years ago in Social Psychology and Personality Science reported that the act of forgiving makes us lighter both emotionally and physically. In the first study, participants were separated into two groups. The first group was asked to remember and write about a time they were seriously offended by another but ultimately forgave them.
The second group was asked to remember and write about a similar time but when they couldn’t forgive and continued to hang on to the negative feelings towards the person. Following, each were asked to walk (individually) to a predetermined point at the base of a nearby hill to estimate its slant. Those who had recalled forgiving another perceived the hill to be less steep than those who had been thinking about a resentment they continued to hold. [Read more…]
By Dr. Nina Radcliff
Facts are that here, in the U.S., we are not getting enough sleep. We are a nation that loses sleep working, studying, taking care of personal and family needs, having fun and too, slaying a few dragons. The demands and expectations of our fast-paced 21st century lives have placed increasing loads on our time. And more than ever, people are making up for those strains by cutting back on sleep.
At the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that the cost of insufficient sleep is much higher than most people recognize. It can compromise output, resulting in reduced efficiency and overall poor productivity. Awareness can help you improve your sleep habits and in turn your well-being and productivity in order to “rise and shine” to accomplish what you really want (and need) to do on any given day. Here’s some of the impact that a lack of sleep has on our success with projects at work, school, or home.
Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About Sleep and Productivity
Weakened immune system: Not being able to function at optimum health
While you are sleeping, your body recharges and rejuvenates your immune system. Conversely, sleep loss can impair your ability to fight off germs. So while you may feel very productive staying up late or even pulling all-nighters, you become more vulnerable to infections that can result in slowing your abilities and production way down, even to a standstill.
Insufficient sleep can hinder your ability to assess situations and, hence, perform tasks that require logical reasoning or complex thought. And, too, sleep experts and the medical health community agree that when someone is sleep-deprived, their brain simply cannot process feedback from their actions and changing circumstances. As a result, we become more likely to make impulsive, ill-considered decisions.
Diminished Ability for Learning New Skills
The memory necessary in the process of learning – both short- and long-term –is heavily reduced by a lack of sleep, thereby hindering growth and improvement. This is a major problem for business professionals as well as students, who must continually hone their skills and pick-up new abilities in efforts to advance.
Research suggests that the nerve connections that make our memories are strengthened during sleep. In other words, sleep embeds the things that you have learned and experienced over the course of your day into our short-term memory. Nightly sleep cycles play different roles in consolidating new information into your memory. If your sleep is cut short or disrupted, it interferes with these cycles and your ability in learning new skills, is weakened.
This is a distinctive problem when driving or doing work or other tasks that could require a quick response. Fatigue is cumulative and it is estimated that missing the equivalent of one night’s sleep is like having a blood alcohol concentration of about 0.1 — above the legal limit to drive. We all need to take note, as a slowed reaction time can endanger our goals and lives – and those we love –in many ways.
Emotional and Mental Health Out-of-Balance
People who sleep poorly can be more irritable, erratic and short-fused. And no professional, community or home environment needs someone who lashes out in anger or frustration at others. The National Sleep Foundation reports that the “walking tired” are more likely to seethe and quarrel with other people.
Not getting the proper amount of ZZZ’s can leave you feeling “foggy.” In a phone survey of over 10,000 Americans, researchers found that those who reported symptoms of insomnia were almost twice as likely to have committed a workplace accident or make a mistake that either caused damage or work disruption with a value of $500 or more. From the findings, the mistakes were costly with an average cost of an accident or an error over $20,000.
How Do You Know if Sleepiness Is a Problem?
Experts agree the best way to gauge whether you’re getting enough sleep is by how you feel or by what your body is telling you. In other words, you should not wake up feeling sleepy. Also, if you know you are not falling to sleep or sleeping soundly through the night, that’s a problem. You should be experiencing energy throughout the day to take on the tasks. As well, you should be engaged, attentive and exhibiting good concentration, memory tracking and people skills.
Tips to improve your sleep quantity and quality:
- Make sleep a priority — for our physical, mental, and emotional health as well as being the best we can at school, work, and our relationships
- Get in the mood. Engaging in relaxing activities in the hour before it’s time to hit the sack can help us doze off. Think of falling asleep as a continuum, not an abrupt transition. Before bedtime, quiet things down; pick up a book, pray, meditate, or take a warm bath.
- Avoid stressful psychological and physical activities– work, heavy exercise, rehashing things from your day, or arguing–a few hours before desired sleep time. Stress causes our body to produce hormones that send us into a “fight or flight” mode–the opposite direction of sleep and slumber.
- Avoid stimulants. Coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate contain caffeine that stimulates our brain and can increase our heart rate. It takes our body approximately 5-7 hours to clear half of the caffeine that is consumed, and 8-10 hours to clear seventy-five percent. If you are struggling with your sleep, consider discontinuing these items in the early afternoon, depending on your target bedtime. And, too, nicotine—contained in cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, is also a stimulant.
- Allow melatonin to rise. This hormone induces sleep and increases when it is dark. Artificial lighting—televisions, smart phones, computers and laptops, tablets, and light bulbs can put a damper on this.
- Make it a point to power down, turn off, and dim the lights at least 30 minutes before bedtime, and longer if needed.
Getting enough sleep is only part of the sleep equation. You also need to ensure the sleep you’re getting is good quality sleep. Inconsistent sleep creates a feeling similar to jet lag, where your body’s circadian rhythm is affected. Getting to bed at the same time every night allows the body’s circadian rhythm to become regulated, causing you to wake-up feeling more refreshed.
Too many think of sleep as a luxury or they have a cavalier tone about it. The record needs to be set straight on just how crucial sleep is to cognitive ability, concentration, emotional well-being, and other necessary qualities. Add to these, chronic deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality. Sleep plays a vital role in your ability to rise and shine to tackle each day’s tasks successfully as well as with your good health – throughout your life.
The widespread emotional challenges that are epidemic in our world today stem from the mind. Depression, for example, affects more than 350 million people and is the leading cause of disability worldwide (World Health Organisation 2014). Anxiety affects over ten percent of the population in the West (Recovery Ranch).
The question is, how heal the challenges of the mind and go forward in a way that anxiety and depression become experiences of the past? The answer is learning how to understand and work with our mind. Meditation is a powerful tool for creating a mind that is calm and peaceful.
Meditation began over 5000 years ago in India and was formalized with the beginnings of Buddhism 2500 years ago in India. The benefits of meditation on a physical, mental and spiritual level caused it to spread throughout Tibet and in the sixth century, BC the Indian Buddhist scriptures were translated into Chinese. Later Buddhism moved into Japan as “Zen” meditation.
Meditation has become increasingly popular in the West, over the past five decades, as people have looked for answers to transcend mental suffering and instead live more peacefully and happily.