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There's a Lump in My Armpit—Should I Be Worried?

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Q: There’s a painful lump in my armpit. What could it be?

Does it look red and inflamed or filled with pus? If so, it may just be an ingrown hair or infected follicle from shaving or using antiperspirant. Avoid shaving and applying product there, clean the area gently with soap in the shower, and apply warm compresses several times a day for a few days, and it should clear up.

RELATED: Viral Photo Is a Reminder That Lumps Aren’t the Only Breast Cancer Symptom to Look Out For

Another possibility: You have a lipoma, which is a knot of fatty tissue that commonly grows in places like the shoulders, neck, and armpits. While you can get them at any age, they mostly form in adults between 40 and 60. They’re almost always harmless and painless. However, one may cause pain if it lies on any nerves. If it bothers you, your doctor can remove it, typically by making a small incision and taking out the tissue.

Or you could have a swollen lymph node. Predominantly located in the neck, groin, and underarm areas, lymph nodes act as filters to trap “intruders” in your body (think germs and cancer cells). They can become painful and enlarged when you have an infection, like strep throat or mononucleosis. The swelling and discomfort usually go away when the infection does. Some women also have small amounts of breast tissue near the armpit, so if you notice soreness just before your period, it may be due to the same hormonal changes that cause period-related breast tenderness.

RELATED: You Found a Lump In Your Breast. Now What?

If the lump doesn’t disappear in a couple of weeks or gets bigger, or if the pain seems to worsen, it could be a cyst, a breast infection or (very rarely) a tumor. See your doctor to get it checked out.

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

Also check out http://healthywithjodi.com

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Spending Money on Experiences Makes You a Better Person 

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You’ve probably heard about the health benefits of practicing gratitude—how it can boost your mood, help you treat others better, improve physical health, and keep stress and fear at bay. Now, here’s a little trick for how to automatically infuse more gratitude into your life: Spend more money on experiences, and less on material objects.

“Think about how you feel when you come home from buying something new,” Thomas Gilovich, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Cornell University and co-author a new study on gratitude, said in a press release. “You might say, ‘this new couch is cool,’ but you're less likely to say ‘I’m so grateful for that set of shelves.’”

“But when you come home from a vacation, you are likely to say, ‘I feel so blessed I got to go,’” he continued. “People say positive things ab­­­­out the stuff they bought, but they don't usually express gratitude for it—or they don't express it as often as they do for their experiences.”

Gilovich’s new study shows that people not only express more gratitude about events and experiences than they do about objects; it also found that this kind of gratitude results in more generous behavior toward others.

To examine these patterns, Gilovich and his colleagues looked at 1,200 online customer reviews—half for purchases made for the sake of doing (like restaurant meals, show tickets, or vacations), and half for purchase made for the sake of having (like furniture, jewelry, and clothing). They weren’t surprised to find that reviewers were more likely to bring up gratitude in posts about the former than the latter.

“People tend to be more inspired to comment on their feelings of gratitude when they reflect on the trips they took, the venues they visited, or the meals they ate than when they reflect on the gadgets, furniture, or clothes they bought,” the authors wrote in the journal Emotion.

First author Jesse Walker, a psychology graduate student at Cornell, says that experiential purchases may elicit more gratitude because they don’t trigger as many social comparisons as material possessions do. In other words, experiences may foster an appreciation of one’s own circumstances, rather than feelings of falling short or trying to measure up to someone else’s.

The researchers also performed several experiments with either college students or adults recruited from an online database. In one experiment, 297 participants were asked to think about a recent purchase over $100, either experiential and material. When asked how grateful they were for that purchase on a scale of 1 to 9, the experiential group reported higher scores (an average of 7.36) than the material-possessions group (average 6.91).

In a similar experiment, participants also said that the experiential purchase made them happier than the material one, and represented money better spent—findings that echo previous research on this topic.

Finally, the researchers performed two exercises to determine how purchase-related gratitude might affect how people behave toward others. In both, participants were asked to think for a few minutes about a meaningful purchase, either experiential or material. A few minutes later, they were given a seemingly unrelated task of dividing $10 between themselves and an anonymous recipient.

Which group was more charitable? Those who had been tasked with remembering an experience or event gave away about $1 to $2 more, on average, than the material group.

Co-author Amit Kumar, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Chicago, says that this link between gratitude and altruistic behavior “suggests that the benefits of experiential consumption apply not only to the consumers of those purchases themselves, but to others in their orbit as well.”

These findings can certainly apply to individuals looking to be more grateful in their everyday lives, Gilovich says, but they may have implications for communities and governments, as well.

"If public policy encouraged people to consume experiences rather than spending money on things, it would increase their gratitude and happiness and make them more generous as well," he says. Funding organizations that provide these experiences—such as public parks, museums and performance spaces—could be a good start, he adds.

If you’re looking to express more gratitude as you spend time with family, shop for gifts, and juggle your packed schedule this upcoming holiday season, you can keep the researchers’ advice in mind.

“All one needs to do is spend a little less on material goods and a little more on experiences,” the wrote in their paper. “In addition to enhancing gratitude, experiential consumption may also increase the likelihood that people will cooperate and show kindness to each other.”

 

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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Your Healthy Breasts From A to Z

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We admit it: We have a love-hate relationship with our breasts. We show em off when they're proud and perky, but freak the second they start to sag. We squeeze them into bras that don't fit, complain if they bob when we jog, and obsess over every little imperfection. But the minute we find a lump or feel a twinge of pain, we realize just how much we want them around—no matter their flaws. That's why we created this A-to-Z Guide to help keep your breasts——and you—healthy.

A: Alcohol

The numbers don't lie: Alcohol is to blame for 11% of all breast cancers, according to data from the United Kingdoms Million Women Study. That's because beer, wine, or cocktails—even just one or two drinks a day—hike your risk, and that risk increases with each additional drink. Scientists are still probing the alcohol-cancer connection but, for now, moderation is a must. “If you don't drink, don't start,” says Susan Love, MD, president of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and clinical professor of surgery at UCLA. “If you do, three drinks a week or less is probably OK.”

B: Breast-feeding

Yes, babies are more likely to attend college if they nurse, but what's really surprising: Breast-feeding may save your life. Women's Health Initiative data suggests that moms who breast-feed 12 months or more throughout their lives have less heart disease than women who don't nurse. And a new study shows that women with a family history of breast cancer cut their risks of getting the disease before menopause if they breast-feed their kids.

C: Caffeine

You've heard theres a link between caffeine and breast cancer? The truth: About 200 to 300 milligrams of the stimulant per day—the amount in two to three cups of coffee or (strong) tea, an energy drink or two, or about five diet sodas—probably wont hurt you, says Liz Applegate, PhD, director of sports nutrition at the University of California, Davis. But to be safe, don't overdo it.

D: Dècolletage

There's a simple reason you see freckles, sun spots, and those dreaded vertical wrinkles on your cleavage—youre not using enough sunscreen on the delicate skin there. Baby your bosom with a high SPF, plus a moisturizer, says Amy Taub, MD, a Chicago-area dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Try Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30 ($13.99). It offers sun protection and spot-reducing soy.

E: Eat right

Loading up on fruits and veggies and cutting back on fatty meat keep your whole body healthy. But which foods specifically help you fight breast cancer? Recent studies suggest you eat more: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and bok choy. They contain potential cancer-fighting compounds called isothiocyanates. Fish like salmon, tuna, and trout. They're rich in omega-3s and are a healthier protein source than meat. Bell peppers and broccoli They're full of flavonoids, a powerful good-for-you antioxidant. Kefir yogurt Its a yummy source of vitamin D and healthy bacteria (probiotics).

F: Fit

If you're like most women, you're wearing a bra that doesn't fit right. Blame the fact that your bust measurements change at least six times in your adult life. To make sure you're getting the right support, talk to a fitter in a department or lingerie store, or do your own sizing. Elisabeth Squires, author of Boobs: A Guide to Your Girls, swears by Size Me Up!, a doctor-designed system that measures the width of each breast to more accurately determine cup size. 

G: Genes

Most women who get breast cancer don't carry the harmful gene mutations known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women who do (roughly 1 in 500) tend to get cancer under age 50 and may have multiple cases of breast and ovarian cancer in the family. Who should be gene-tested? If relatives (sisters or other women on your moms or dads side) have had breast or ovarian cancer, its most helpful for one of them to be tested before you. Testing costs about $3,000, and most insurers don't cover it. If a mutation doesn't show up, your risk is still higher because of your family history. But if your relative has the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, your risk could be elevated even more, and you may want to talk with a genetic counselor about your own test.

H: Hormone therapy

If you're on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), its probably for a good reason: The treatment, usually a combo of estrogen and progesterone, can help relieve hot flashes, irritability, and night sweats. But many researchers are now convinced that using combo HRT for five years or more can double your breast cancer risk, which is why women should use the smallest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Fortunately, studies show that within two years of stopping hormones, your breast cancer risk goes back to normal.

I: Inflammatory breast cancer

If you don't know about IBC, you should. The five-year survival rate of this rare but aggressive disease is about half that of regular breast cancer. Symptoms can include redness and painful swelling around the breast; sometimes the skin feels warm and has the texture of an orange. If you have signs, see your doctor right away.

J: Jiggle

Too much jiggling can make you sag: According to one British study, breasts move during exercise up to 8 vertical inches, adding painful pressure on supporting ligaments. Solution: Make sure your sports bra is up to the job. Small-breasted women usually just need a compression, or “uniboob,” bra. If you're large, try encapsulating styles, which surround each breast separately. Champion makes good low-cost running bras, and sportswear companies like Title Nine even offer special rating systems for each bras support level.

K: Know em well

Take a good look in the mirror—is one breast bigger than the other? (That's typical.) Are your nipples inverted? Does anything look or feel different? You need to know your breasts well so you'll notice any changes during your monthly breast self-exam (BSE), which is an important way to catch abnormalities like lumps or swelling.

L: Lumps

The vast majority of breast lumps are benign—and more than 60% of women have fibrocystic, or naturally lumpy, breasts. Still, you should get all lumps and bumps checked, especially if they change. “Women get into trouble when they ignore lumps because they're afraid,” says Joan Bull, MD, director of the Division of Oncology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. The doc may recommend an ultrasound, mammogram, or biopsy to figure out what's up.

M: Mammograms

No one likes having her boobs squeezed flat in what feels like a refrigerator door. But its worth it: Early detection from regular mammograms is estimated to reduce the risk of death from breast cancer by at least 15%, according to a recent research review. Are there any downsides to recommended annual screening mammos? A report in the British Medical Journal suggested they could lead to overdiagnosis—detecting tumors that turn out to be harmless—and unnecessary treatment. But experts insist that the benefits far outweigh the potential costs.

N: Nipples

Smooth or bumpy, inverted or standing at attention on a chilly day, nipples seem to have a mind of their own. Together with the surrounding areola, they even change color during and after pregnancy. Here are some of the most common problems and how to, well, nip em in the bud.

O: Ouch!

About 10% of us have breast pain more than five days a month. Usually the ache (also called mastalgia) goes in cycles, since monthly hormone changes can make breasts extra achy. If the pain is unbearable, try tracking when it hurts most. Then talk to your doctor, and, if you're over 35, consider a mammogram. The doc may recommend pain pills, birth control pills (if you're in your 20s), or possibly evening primrose oil, which might bring relief for some women. Talking to your doc may ease your fears, too, since many women worry that breast pain is always a sign of cancer. It isn't.

P: Plastic surgery

Even in a down economy, boob jobs aren't sagging. But a lesser-known surgery is also on the rise: breast reduction. For top-heavy women, the surgery can bring much-needed relief from back, shoulder, and neck pain. If you want breast surgery—to get bigger or smaller—talk to the doc about scarring, healing time, and final appearance, says John Canady, MD, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Q: Number-one question to ask your doc: “Are my breasts dense?”

Women with dense breasts are five times more likely to develop breast cancer, Dr. Love of UCLA says, although its unclear why. The only way to find out density is after a mammogram—the info is in the results. Bring it up with your doc after the test or have the report mailed to you.

R: Rest 

One more reason to get your sleep: Getting enough zzzs may help protect you from cancer. In a recent study of nearly 24,000 Japanese women, those who slept six hours or less each night were 62% more likely to have breast cancer than the women who slept seven hours. Researchers think that the sleep hormone melatonin seems to regulate the release of estrogen.

S: Soy

Soy contains phytoestrogens, chemicals similar to estrogen. Docs say soy has many benefits, if you get it in natural forms like edamame. But concentrated forms found in supplements may be harmful—especially if youre at high risk for breast cancer, says Applegate, PhD, of UC Davis.

T: Tomosynthesis

Watch for the looming debut of this new digital imaging system, which allows doctors to slice and dice super-clear 3D pictures of the breast, while applying less pressure to your boobs than standard mammos (hooray!). Early research shows the new technique may more accurately spot tumors, especially in very dense breasts.

U: Underwires are dangerous (and other myths)

Relax—, your sexy new number from Victoria's Secret wont give you cancer. Experts say the notion that underwires trap toxins just doesn't hold up. Ditto for antiperspirants, living near power lines, and being hit in the chest. Theres no evidence that any of these things causes breast cancer, Dr. Love of UCLA says.

V: Vaccine

Stimuvax, a vaccine currently in testing, may help women who have inoperable breast cancer live longer. The drug is designed to juice up the immune system so it can kill malignant cells. Its also being eyed for lung, prostate, and colon cancers.

W: Weight

 

Women who gain 55 pounds or more after age 18 have nearly 1 1/2 times the risk of breast cancer compared with those who keep their weight steady. But losing the weight substantially lowers risk as you age.

X: X-Rays

Radiation can cause cancer. That's why doctors say that younger women and girls should avoid unnecessary X-rays (a typical X-ray administers radiation at a higher dose than a mammogram). If your doctor recommends an X-ray for anything, ask how having it will change your treatment plan. If it won't, reconsider.

Y: Yoga

To keep “the girls” from sagging, Health expert Sara Ivanhoe, creator of the Yoga on the Edge DVD, recommends this Plank Sequence: Start with hands and knees on a mat, hands directly under shoulders and knees below hips. Firm your abs to support your lower back; extend right leg backward, curl toes and place them and on the ground; repeat with left leg. (Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your heels.) Hold for 5 full breaths. On an exhale, slowly lower yourself to the floor, keeping your elbows tucked in. Your chest and belly should touch the floor at the same time. On an inhale, push back to lean on your hands and knees; exhale into plank, hold for a full inhale, then exhale and lower again, then up into plank. Repeat 5 times.

Z: Zero!

That's the number of new breast cancer cases we all hope to see in our lifetimes—, and a project launched by the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and Avon Foundation for Women may get us there. The Love and Avon Army of Women's mission: Recruit 1 million women to participate in life-saving research. Sign up online at ArmyOfWomen.org.

 

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Natural Cures That Really Work

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Will placing a tea bag on a cold sore make it disappear? Can you ease hot flashes with herbs? And does putting yogurt on your nether parts have a prayer of curing a yeast infection? It used to be that you'd hear about these kinds of home remedies from your mom. These days, they're touted on websites, blogs, and online forums. In fact, 61% of American adults turn to the Internet to find help in treating what's ailing them, a 2009 study reveals. But do these natural moves actually work … and, just as important, could they do more harm than good? Health asked medical experts to weigh in on the Internet's most popular home cures.

The online claim: Yogurt can stop a yeast infection

Is it true? No

Yeast infections— and their symptoms, from intense vaginal itchiness to cottage cheese–like discharge—, are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus candida. Because studies show that yogurt can promote the growth of healthier strains of bacteria in the stomach and intestines, people have long assumed it might also keep candida in check. And that rumor keeps circulating, thanks to the Internet.

Unfortunately, "no study shows conclusively that eating yogurt cures or even lessens the severity of yeast infections," says Michele G. Curtis, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Neither will douching with yogurt, or (yikes!) dipping a tampon in the stuff, freezing it, and inserting it—a remedy suggested on some websites. In fact, douching can cause yeast infections, Dr. Curtis says, especially if youre using yogurt; its sugars could actually help yeast grow.

If youre sure you have a yeast infection, based on a past experience, Dr. Curtis recommends using an over-the-counter medication, such as Monistat. But, she points out, "everything that itches is not yeast!" So see your gyno when in doubt: That itching might actually be bacterial vaginosis, for instance, which requires treatment with antibiotics.

The online claim: Black cohosh eases hot flashes

Is it true? Yes

Commonly known as bugwort or rattle root, this herb is derived from a plant called Actaea racemosa. While it may sound like something from Harry Potters wizarding world, this remedy is not all hocus-pocus: Some studies suggest that black cohosh may indeed reduce hot flashes, according to guidelines re-released last year by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "It appears to have an anti-inflammatory effect," says Philip Hagen, MD, coeditor of Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies.

In fact, the herb is often prescribed in Europe; its a key ingredient in Remifemin, a popular drug there, which is also available in the United States. While U.S. studies haven't conclusively proven that black cohosh works, Dr. Curtis says it cant hurt to try the herb—just consult with your doctor about the dosage first, and stick with it for 12 weeks, she says. (Make sure you're getting black cohosh, not blue cohosh, which could potentially be harmful, she adds.)

The online claim: Pop calcium pills to quell PMS cramps

Is it true? Yes

Since theres scientific evidence that PMS sufferers have lower levels of calcium in their blood, its not a stretch to think that loading up on it would ease the cramps, headaches, and bloating that come at that time of the month. Indeed, research has shown that taking 600 milligrams of calcium twice a day can reduce PMS symptoms. And getting the nutrient in your food (such as calcium-packed dairy) may keep them at bay altogether: In a recent study conducted at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, women who consumed four servings a day of skim or low-fat milk reduced their risk of developing PMS by 46%.

Note: Some women's cramps are so severe that only prescription medication can curb them, Dr. Curtis says. So if calcium doesn't make a difference with yours, see your doctor.

The online claim: Tea tree oil can zap your zits

Is it true? Maybe

One brand of tea tree oil sold online is dubbed "Pure Liquid Gold," and it just may be, at least in the case of acne. A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that applying the extract to pimples reduced inflammation. "Tea tree oil is antifungal and antibacterial," says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City–based dermatologist. "Its so effective that many of my patients prefer it to benzoyl peroxide."

Other experts are not so keen. "The oil can cause rashes and even blistering," warns Jerome Z. Litt, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland and the author of Your Skin from A to Z. If you're nervous about using tea tree oil, Dr. Jaliman says, instead try a face wash for oily skin that contains salicylic or glycolic acid.

The online claim: Steam clears up sinus headaches

Is it true? Yes

This old-school treatment—touted in more than 400,000 Google results!—really works. "Inhaling steam flushes out your nasal passages, relieving sinus pressure," explains Neil Kao, MD, head of research at the Allergic Disease and Asthma Center in Greenville, South Carolina.

Add a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to make it more potent. "The minty smell causes a tingling sensation in the nasal membrane, and this has a decongestant effect," says Dr. Kao, who also suggests dabbing Vicks VapoRub at the lower rim of your nostrils. Another natural alternative: Using a neti pot to irrigate the nostrils with saline solution, which can also ease sinus symptoms, according to one study.

The online claim: Black tea bags help cold sores disappear

Is it true? No

If left alone, cold sores usually clear up in a few weeks—but who wants to wait? Online remedies for the blisters range from the absurd (like earwax) to the less silly, like placing a damp black tea bag on the sore. "Black tea leaves have tannins, compounds that may inhibit the growth of viruses and bacteria, but no studies have verified this," Dr. Hagen says. Tea bags may also have an anti-inflammatory effect, he says. But your best bet to shorten healing time is an OTC treatment like Abreva or a prescription med like Valtrex.

To prevent sores from popping up, stay out of the sun, and use a high-SPF sunscreen around your lips: "Sunlight can trigger cold sores if youre prone to them," Dr. Hagen says.

The online claim: Drinking cranberry juice prevents UTIs

Is it true? Yes

This popular home cure isn't just an old wives tale: Major medical institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, agree that drinking cranberry juice can be effective for treating urinary tract infections (UTIs). "The berries contain proanthocyanidins, which keep E. coli from attaching to the bladder wall and causing an infection," Dr. Hagen says.

If youre prone to UTIs, drink one to two glasses of cranberry juice daily to help prevent them. Doing so also works when you have symptoms—like a constant need to pee, or a burning sensation when you do—to speed recovery. (Theres also evidence that peeing immediately after sex can help prevent UTIs by flushing out bacteria.) Stick to juice that's at least 20% pure cranberry—or try supplements, taking up to six 400-milligram pills twice a day an hour before or two hours after a meal. If your symptoms don't end within 24 to 48 hours, see your physician—, especially if you have a fever or chills. "That points to something serious," Dr. Hagen says, "and means you should not be messing with a home remedy."

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4 skincare features to look for in your spring beauty products

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Feeling the pressure of spring’s social calendar to look and feel photo-ready? The next time you open your beauty cabinet, check the ingredients list for these four skincare elements for flawless, healthy skin. 

1. Home in on natural ingredients

 

Many skin care products, including cleansers and moisturisers, contain harsh chemicals that could be doing your skin more harm than good. Look for a simple ingredient list containing primarily organic, natural and plant-based extracts. 

“It’s common sense that nature’s whole foods are the best choice for optimal health –and skin care is no different,” says holistic nutritionist and natural skincare expert Samantha Sargent. 

“Some supermarket and chemist brands are made with cheap synthetics and naturally derived irritants that wreck havoc on your skin and internal organs. Read the full ingredient label, get to know the brand owner and manufacturer, and ask questions about the source of ingredients.”  

Ayla Cotterill from the botanical based skin-care brand Eaoron agrees. 

“I think people are becoming more aware of what they’re applying to their skin and are beginning to adopt a more natural approach. It’s really about creating a lifestyle that fights the effects of aging to create naturally beautiful skin,” she says.

 

2. Say yes to hyaluronic acid

Sourcing products that include hyaluronic acid – a natural structural component of the skin – helps to retain moisture and improve its beauty, according to Cotterill.

“As we begin to age, our skin loses moisture, firmness and elasticity,” says Cotterill, 

“The beauty of hyaluronic acid collagen essence is its ability to transport essential nutrients from the blood stream, via the capillaries, while also attracting and holding water to plump the skin. This smooths fine lines and wrinkles, and stimulates cell growth.”

WH&F Pick: try Eaoron’s Hyaluronic Acid Collagen. With its combination of fast-acting botanical and natural ingredients you may start to see results instantly. Apply just before bed or first thing in the morning.  

 

3. Look for anti-ageing properties

Botox and dermal fillers are a temporary fix and in some cases can cause nerve damage if not performed correctly. According to Cotterill, a better option is to select skin care products that prevent fine lines, dullness and wrinkles before they happen. 

“Wrinkles on the face are a natural result of a reduction in collagen, so finding products with ingredients aiming to restore the balance can help reduce their appearance,” says Cotterill.

“For example, peptides encourage the skin to replenish collagen production in the dermal layer, helping to improve its firmness and condition.” 

WH&F Pick: we love this Ultra Anti-Wrinkle Face Serum. Its potent ingredients are specifically designed to help reduce wrinkles and firm your skin for a youthful and radiant glow.

 

4. Skin superfoods

The rise of superfoods has seen us tipping copious goji berries into our smoothies, so why wouldn’t we use the same logic when it comes to our skin-care? 

Cotterill suggests looking for plant-based ingredients that are going to provide sufficient antioxidants for improved skin health, such as bearberry leaf and white mulberry extract.

“We use bearberry leaf extract in our products to brighten and even out skin tone. It’s so effective because it contains a high level of arbutin, which can help clear dark spots and blemishes from the skin,” she says.   

“White mulberry extract comes from the white mulberry tree, which is native to China, but is cultivated in Australia, North America, Europe and Japan. It’s the food of silk worms and is used to treat dry, sensitive and blotchy skin.” 

NEXT: Looking for more way to freshen up your skin? Here are three ingredients for healthy looking skin.

 

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Is There a Natural Solution for Motion Sickness?

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Q: I get motion sickness, but meds make me zonked. Is there a natural solution?

A: There are a few home remedies many people find helpful, though the science is wishy-washy. One popular option is acupressure: Massage the underside of your wrist, about three fingers' width from the wrist crease and right between the two tendons, for five seconds or so. Proponents of acupressure believe that stimulating this point helps alleviate nausea. You can also buy bracelets that are designed to apply pressure to that spot. Whether the method actually works is unclear (some studies suggest it does; others, not so much), but there's no harm in testing it out.

RELATED: 19 Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Consuming ginger is another old trick. While you could eat the root raw, you may want to try a lozenge, supplement capsule (look for one that contains around 250 milligrams, and take it up to three times daily), or tea instead. Again, the research on whether ginger works is inconsistent, but it's safe as long as you aren't on any medications that interfere with blood clotting, such as aspirin or warfarin, since ginger can slow clotting.

If you don't have these items on hand, try taking very slow, deep breaths until the motion sickness passes. Rapid and shallow breathing might make it worse. Sit closer to the front of the vehicle, whether it's a car, plane or boat, and keep your eyes on the horizon if possible: A study in Plos One found that staring at the horizon at sea made people steadier than focusing on a point nearby. If all else fails, close your eyes and do your best to ride it out.

 

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

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The Reason You’re Burned Out at Work May Surprise You

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Workplace burnout has a lot of different causes: long commutes, horrible bosses, unrealistic expectations, the list goes on and on. But a new study suggests that one significant source of job stress isn’t necessarily a part of the job itself—it’s how mismatched your responsibilities are with your personality.

This may seem obvious. After all, why would anyone take a job that doesn’t suit her personality? But according to study author Veronika Brandstätter, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, it happens quite often. The problem is, she says, people can have perceived notions of themselves that don’t match up with their true, “unconscious needs.”

“People often choose a job because it fits their ‘conscious’ motives that are formed by social norms and expectations of others,” Brandstätter says. “For example, an individual with the self-concept of being a person of influence might choose a career as a manager, though the activities associated with a manager’s job do not provide the real affective satisfaction.”

So Brandstätter and her colleagues performed a study to see how people’s implicit motives affected their overall mental health in various workplace environments. They recruited 97 adults from a Swiss website for people suffering from burnout, asked them questions about their health and job responsibilities, and then gave them a writing exercise to tease out parts of their personality they wouldn't necessarily report themselves.

RELATED: 7 Subtle Signs You're Burned Out

The researchers focused on two important traits: the “power motive” and the “affiliation motive.” People who have a strong power motive have a need to take responsibility for others, maintain discipline, and engage in arguments or negotiation, they wrote. Those with an affiliation motive crave positive personal relationships, and want to feel trust, warmth, and belonging.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found that burnout happened across all types of jobs—those with lots of power, those with no power at all, those that offered plenty of opportunity to interact with others, and those that didn’t. In other words, the main predictor of burnout was not one single thing, but the discrepancy between the job and a person's implicit motives. 

The greater the mismatch, the higher the burnout risk. Mismatches pertaining to the power motive—how much oversight and influence a person desired versus how much they actually got—were even linked to an increase in physical symptoms like headache, chest pain, faintness, and shortness of breath.

"We found that the frustration of unconscious affective needs, caused by a lack of opportunities for motive-driven behavior, is detrimental to psychological and physical well-being,” Brandstätter says. “The same is true for goal-striving that doesn't match a well-developed implicit motive for power or affiliation, because then excessive effort is necessary to achieve that goal.”

This is important for employer and employees, says Brandstätter, since workplace burnout can cause both financial and heath burdens. It can lead to absenteeism, employee turnover, and reduced productivity—and it’s been linked to chronic conditions such as anxiety, heart disease, immune disorders, insomnia, and depression. The American Institute of Stress estimates that burnout costs companies $300 billion a year.

RELATED: Job Killing You? 8 Types of Work-Related Stress

So how do you avoid this kind of mismatch?

First, think about about what types of situations you truly thrive in: Is it when you’re making new friends and forming close bonds with others? If so, you’re affiliation-motivated. Or is it when you’re making decisions and yielding influence over other people? That shows you’re power-motivated. (And yes, it’s possible to be both.)

Now, Brandstätter suggests, run through a sort of “fantasy exercise” when considering a potential new job.

“Ask yourself: ‘When doing my job, how would I feel? Would I experience intensive positive feelings, such as joy, happiness, and pleasure? Would it be possible for me to experience a feeling of strength and impact?' The anticipated experience gives us a clue whether the job in question might match our motives,” she says.

For someone with a strong affiliation motive, it’s important that you anticipate feelings of joy, happiness, and friendly contact with others while doing that job. If you can’t picture experiencing that during day-to-day activities, it may not be the right job for you. Likewise, someone with a strong power motive should hope to experience feelings of strength, and have the sense that they’re making an impact.

RELATED: Here's How to Stop Work Stress From Turning Into Burnout

That advice is only helpful, though, if you’re considering a new job. For those stuck in a current job that doesn't match their motives, Brandstätter recommends talking with your boss and colleagues about ways you might “craft” your position to be more in line with your needs.

For example, an affiliation-motivated employee who has little contact with others might find a way to work more collaboratively with coworkers. And a power-affiliated person who is frustrated by her lack of influence might take a leadership-training course or apply for a supervisory position.

Admittedly, Brandstätter says, there is one situation that’s not as easily resolved. “A manager required to take responsibility of a team but who does not enjoy being in a leadership role probably would have to change jobs,” she says. Finding a position that doesn’t require these traits could make that person’s workday more enjoyable—and maybe even improve their well-being overall.  

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