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Daily Archives: November 24, 2016

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How to Stop Feeling Guilty About Everything

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Constantly feeling guilty gnaws at your emotional well-being and causes negativity to snowball. “It can make you feel defeated, anxious, or even depressed,” says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD, professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. And we often beat ourselves up for no good reason, she adds: “Most of the time, we manufacture guilt in our minds simply because of the ridiculous expectations we set for ourselves.” Yank yourself out of the spiral with this three-week plan to being your own best friend. 

Week 1: ID your guilt triggers

“If you can learn to pause and recognize when you feel guilt coming on, you’re halfway toward fixing the problem,” says Whitbourne. So right off the bat, get to the bottom of what makes you feel the most remorse. 

Pay attention: Notice any moments you feel guilty, as well as what prompted the pangs (you missed a deadline, you spent a lot of money). It may help to take some notes, either on paper or in your smartphone. 

Check the frequency: Did you get ticked at yourself each time you bought a $15 lunch this week? Do you lie in bed every night wishing you’d been more patient with your kids? Track how often specific subjects leave you regretful. 

Group the majors and minors: At the end of the week, pinpoint the issues that incited guilt more than once or weighed on you more heavily than others. (You’ll deal with the lesser regrets in week three.) 

RELATED: 5 Reasons You Always Feel Guilty (and How to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself) 

Week 2: Change your perspective

"You don’t want to try to just be ‘over’ a guilt that’s coming up a lot for you," says Whitbourne. "Pull it out, look at it and come up with some alternative interpretations."

Envision a redo: Think (or even talk out loud) about what you wish you were doing differently—maybe you want to have a better attitude at work, or you think you should reel in your spending by creating a budget. “It doesn’t mean you have to go out and make some drastic change right this minute, but you’re talking about it, and that’s productive,” says Susie Moore, a life coach in New York City and the author of What If It Does Work Out?. 

Pick a different emotion: "Guilt and sadness and anxiety are all on a continuum in a way,” says Whitbourne. “And when we’re stressed, it’s easy to be self-critical." Try asking, "Wait, does it really make sense to be feeling guilty at this moment? Or am I letting stress get to me?” 

Realize you’re human: "Perfectionism is often what drives guilt," says Whitbourne. "At some point, you have to just accept your limitations." Moore adds that it can even help to tell yourself, "No mom or wife or employee is doing everything flawlessly."

RELATED: This Is What the Scary Side of Perfectionism Looks Like

Week 3: Shake off the small stuff

"To say you will never feel guilty again about something silly would be ridiculous," says Whitbourne. "But it’s important to recognize when you may be blowing things out of proportion." Practice short-circuiting your regret when it’s truly unnecessary. 

Reframe a fail: Look at it with a practical eye. Instead of "I shouldn’t have left the office early today with my current workload," tell yourself, "I needed to cut out in order to attend this doctor’s appointment that was long overdue." 

Laugh it off: "Humor is one of the greatest antidotes to guilt," says Whitbourne. Poke fun at yourself: You ran out of time to bake and brought a store-bought dessert to the holiday party? How dare you even show up! 

Find a silver lining: Let’s say you’re upset because you slapped together your gift wrapping this year. "Well, you also didn’t go to the department store and have them wrap it for you," says Whitbourne. "You’re showing the person that you love them enough to put in the effort."

Also check out http://healthywithjodi.com

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The Lung Cancer Symptoms You Need to Know, Even If You've Never Smoked

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Ashley Rivas was 26 when she noticed she was getting tired earlier than usual on her runs. Over the next few years, the X-ray technician from Albuquerque, New Mexico, developed a persistent cough and wheezing, which her doctors attributed to exercise-induced asthma. She had other symptoms, too: weight loss, fever, and several bouts of pneumonia. Still, when Rivas finally decided to perform a chest X-ray on herself, cancer was the last thing on her mind. 

The image revealed a mass on her right lung that turned out to be a malignant tumor. Rivas was 32 and had never smoked a cigarette in her life. "I want people to know lung cancer can happen to anyone," she says.

Rivas has joined the American Lung Association's Lung Force campaign, to spread the word that her disease isn't just a smoker's affliction. "It's true that the majority of people with lung cancer have some history of tobacco use," says ALA spokesperson Andrea McKee, MD, the chair of radiation oncology at Lahey Hospital Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts. "Having said that, 15% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer have no history of tobacco use—and they may be quite young."

Other known risk factors aside from smoking include a family history of the disease, as well as exposure to certain air pollutants, such as asbestos, arsenic, radon, even diesel fumes, says Dr. McKee. Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide; and each year, it kills more women than breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer combined. 

RELATED: 25 Breast Cancer Myths Busted

If it's diagnosed early, the disease is actually highly curable, Dr. McKee says. Luckily this was the case for Rivas. She had her tumor removed in 2013, and is now thriving. (She ran a half-marathon last year!)

But only about 16% of cases are caught at stage 1. "Usually it’s like a 7- to 8-millimeter nodule sitting in the middle of a lung that doesn’t have any symptoms associated with it," says Dr. McKee. Most patients are diagnosed later, once the tumor has grown large enough that it's "pushing on an airway, resulting in some breathing problems," she explains.

That's what Marlo Palacio experienced just before the holidays in 2013, when she developed a cough unlike any cough she'd ever had before. "I would feel like I was out of breath or gagging," she says. At first, the social worker from Pasadena, California, assumed she'd picked up a bug from her toddler son. But six weeks later, the cough hadn't gone away. Doctors diagnosed Palacio—an otherwise healthy, 39-year-old non-smoker—with stage 4 lung cancer. 

At stage 4, lung symptoms like Palacio had (and others such as pneumonia and coughing up blood) may be accompanied by problems elsewhere in the body, such as back pain, bone pain, headaches, weight loss, and confusion, says Dr. McKee. That's because "once the disease has spread, [it's] usually having an effect on a system outside of the lungs," she explains.

After several different treatments, Palacio developed a new, isolated tumor in September. But she says she is doing well, physically and emotionally. "I'm feeling pretty positive that this will be something that we can just eliminate and maintain," she says. "I just accept that this is a lifelong fight for maintenance, and keeping my cancer down."

RELATED: 6 Cancer-Fighting Superfoods

Dr. McKee is hopeful that rising awareness of lung cancer, and advances in screening will mean fewer late-stage diagnoses in the future—because catching the disease early can make all the difference

Frida Orozco knows that fact first-hand. She was diagnosed with stage 2 in her late twenties, a few months after she developed a dry cough. "I started to feel a pain every time I coughed on the lower side of my ribs, and also on the left side of my chest, near the clavicle," she says. When Orozco came down with a fever, headaches, and dizziness, she went to an urgent care facility; a chest X-ray revealed the mass in her lung. 

But today, the 30-year-old student at Borough of Manhattan Community College happily reports she has been in remission for a year and a half. "You can't even tell I've been through all of this," she says, "except for the scars."

RELATED: 15 Thyroid Cancer Facts Everyone Should Know

So when should you get a lingering cough checked out? "To be safe, I would say that any cough that you're concerned about that's persisting beyond a few weeks, you should talk with your doctor," says Dr. McKee. "A cough shouldn't linger beyond two or three weeks."

If you suspect something is not right with your health, follow up, urges Rivas. "You know your body better than anybody," she says. "Push, because you're probably right. My pulmonologist told me that if I hadn’t caught [my cancer] when I did, I would’ve died. And it was because of my persistence. I knew something was wrong, I kept pushing."

To learn more lung cancer, check out the ALA's Lung Force campaign.

Also check out http://healthywithjodi.com

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