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13 Things You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

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By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

What is Zika?

Zika is a virus first discovered in 1947 and named after the Zika forest in Uganda. The first human cases of Zika were detected in 1952, but until last year there had been only isolated outbreaks occurring mainly in tropical locales.

How is it transmitted?

Zika is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected by drinking the blood of a person infected with Zika, and then spread the disease to other people.

A man infected with Zika can transmit the virus through sexual intercourse. Also, people can be infected if they are given a blood transfusion tainted with Zika.

Who faces the greatest health risk from Zika?

Four out of five people infected with Zika do not develop any symptoms. Those who do most often suffer from mild symptoms that include fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes.

The true risk of Zika is to a developing fetus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that Zika can cause terrible birth defects if a pregnant woman is infected with the virus.

What kind of birth defects does Zika cause?

Microcephaly is the most common birth defect caused by Zika, and it involves abnormally small development of the head and brain. Zika also causes other brain-related birth defects, and can result in miscarriage, according to the CDC.

What are the chances Zika exposure during pregnancy will cause microcephaly?

Not every fetus exposed to Zika develops a birth defect. Women infected with Zika have given birth to apparently healthy babies, although health experts can’t guarantee that these babies won’t develop problems later in life. No one knows what the odds are that a birth defect will occur. This is one of the CDC’s ongoing areas of research.

What can a woman who’s pregnant or trying to get pregnant do to protect herself?

Women of child-bearing age who live in an active Zika region should protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using mosquito repellent when outside, and staying indoors as much as possible.

Women should use condoms or refrain from sex with a male partner if they are living in an active Zika area. They also should follow these precautions for at least 8 weeks if the man has traveled to an active Zika area, or for at least 6 months if the man has been diagnosed with Zika.

What can be done if a pregnant woman is infected with Zika?

There is no cure or vaccine for Zika. Pregnant women infected with Zika will be monitored by doctors, who will closely track fetal development.

Will a Zika infection threaten all future pregnancies?

The CDC has said there’s no evidence that a past Zika virus infection will endanger future pregnancies. It appears that once the virus has been cleared from a person’s bloodstream, it poses no risk to any subsequent pregnancies.

What other illnesses can Zika cause?

Zika has been associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare disease of the nervous system in which a person’s immune system attacks nerve cells. The disease causes muscle weakness and, less frequently, paralysis. Most people recover fully, but some have permanent damage and about one in 20 die.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden has said it is very likely that Zika causes GBS, given that the syndrome also is triggered by a number of different bacterial or viral infections. However, the link has not been confirmed. The CDC is investigating.

Where in the U.S. is Zika likely to become active?

Zika already is active in the territory of Puerto Rico, where one death has been reported, as well as American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Public health officials expect Zika to strike first in the continental United States in Florida, Louisiana or Texas, once the mosquito season gets underway. The A. aegypti mosquito can range as far north as San Francisco, Kansas City and New York City, although health officials have said infections that far north are unlikely.

What can I do to reduce the risk of Zika becoming active in my neighborhood?

People can help reduce their area’s risk by eliminating mosquito habitats from their property. Get rid of any source of standing water, such as buckets, plastic covers, toys or old tires. Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools and potted plants once a week. Drain or fill with dirt any temporary pools of water, and keep swimming pool water treated and circulating, according to the CDC.

Report any mosquito activity in your neighborhood to your local mosquito control program.

What should I do if I think I’ve been exposed to Zika?

The CDC recommends that people contact their health care provider if they are suffering from Zika-like symptoms, particularly if they are pregnant. Tests are available that can confirm Zika infection.

Is there a vaccine for Zika?

No, but the CDC is working with pharmaceutical companies to ramp up research into a vaccine for the virus.


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How to Eat If You're Trying to Lose Weight, According to a Dietitian

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Like most people trying to lose weight, I listened to the experts. Instead of eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I started scheduling meals and snacks so I was eating five or six times a day. This worked out to noshing on something every couple hours — 7 a.m. breakfast, 9 a.m. snack, 12 p.m. lunch, 3 p.m. snack, 5:30 p.m. dinner, and sometimes a late-night snack. The purpose was to ensure my hunger was satiated to prevent feeling so famished at each meal that I’d overeat. But then I realized I was eating all day long and never feeling hungry. I was also not losing weight. I was watching the clock instead of listening to my body. So which is better?

When I asked certified dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD of Whole Health Nutrition to answer that question, she said, “It’s better to eat when you are hungry. This is the concept of mindful eating.” Every time you go to put something in your mouth, ask yourself if you are hungry.

She also adds that it’s important to know what hunger is, since feeling hungry is important for weight loss. “Some people have stomach growling, some have salivation and increased food thought.” Being aware of the hunger scale will help you decide when it’s time to eat. You want to eat when you’re at about a three on the hunger scale, feeling hungry with a growling belly. And the important thing here is to eat enough until you’re at about a six on the hunger scale, where you feel satisfied but not stuffed or tired from eating too much.

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Eating when you’re hungry and eating just enough to feel satiated is the key. So instead of watching the clock and eating exactly at certain times of the day, eat when your body tells you it’s ready to eat. That might mean eating three times a day, and that might mean eating six times a day.

Leslie does say that, “I think if you are a person who is a meal skipper or someone who doesn’t really feel that hungry, setting times is a good idea.” Some people forget to eat because they’re so busy, or their work schedule only allows them to take breaks at certain times, so for these instances, it’s important to schedule snacks and meals. But overall, if you’re schedule allows for it, “go for the hunger/mindful eating approach.”

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This Is the Year I'm Actually Going to Run a Marathon

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This is the year I’m actually going to run a marathon. There. I said it! In fact, it’s one of my New Year’s resolutions. It was last year’s, too . . . but I chickened out. Now, before all you millions and billions of strangers (hey, guys!), I’m claiming it: I WILL run a marathon in 2017.

And now that I’ve said it, I can admit that I’m completely terrified. Though I ran my first five half marathons in less than two years, this is a big, lofty, scary goal for me. Instead of leaving one huge, daunting goal looming in the distance of 2017, I decided to give myself more actionable objectives to better structure my year for success (hello, I’m an A-type, nice to meet you).

And I know it might seem like I’m a fitness editor, and that this is no big deal since I work out literally every day, but please keep in mind that in 2014, I couldn’t run a mile in under 15 minutes without stopping to take several breaks. I’ve proven myself wrong before, broken down walls internally, and surprised myself in ways I never could’ve dreamed of — and if I can do it, anyone can do it!

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Are you thinking of taking on this big challenge in 2017? Let’s do it together! Here are some benchmarks I’m giving myself to set myself up for my first big 26.2 . . . and all the miles leading up to it.

Buy the damn bib. Step one of making sure I don’t back out of something: spend a lot of money. How else do you think I get up at 6 a.m. for SoulCycle? I can’t lose $32! Once you commit financially, you’ll be less likely to back out. I have my sights set on the Big Apple, so I’ll most likely be signing up for a Team in Training to get myself a spot in the race.
Get a second opinion . . . on shoes. Earlier this year I went on a run with Nike running coach Blue Benadum (he’s run almost 60 marathons!). And although I’ve done some shoe fittings that indicated I need more of a stability shoe, he analyzed my mid- to forefoot strike and told me I was wearing too much cushion in the heel. Apparently it’s time for a reevaluation! Ultramarathoner and coach Robin Arzon also emphasized to me the importance of choosing the right shoe, so I’ll be going through several fittings. Checking this off my list will help me feel more prepared and secure in my decision.
Schedule out other races this year. One way to make this race less scary is to schedule a handful of longer races and half marathons before the date of my full marathon. I’m already registered for a 10.6 miler at the Big Sur International Marathon (yay for checking things off my list of goals!), and I’m hoping to do a Disney half marathon at some point, too. Although these will still be HUGE victories and major goals for me (it’s still a lot of miles!), compared to the big race, they’ll be my mini victories along the way — or as Robin Arzon calls them, “micro successes.
Commit to cross-training. This race isn’t just about running — I want to make sure my body is strong enough and my endurance is *all the way up* so that I don’t feel destroyed at the end of this thing. I especially need to focus on my leg strength, as I have some run-induced patella inflammation that could potentially sideline me. Physical therapy, leg day, and foam rolling will be of the utmost importance this year.
Don’t wait for a certain date to start training. I talked with 11-time Ironman finisher and coach Marni Sumbal about this new adventure I’m embarking on, and this was her advice: don’t wait, start now. “Think of every day between now and your future half marathon as available time to get stronger and improve your endurance.” It made so much sense — waiting to start training is like procrastinating on a project you’re afraid of. I’ve already started running a little bit more than usual to get 2017 off on the right foot.
Choose the right training program. Although I plan on starting my training nearly a year in advance of my marathon, you can bet I’ll be following a strict beginner marathon training program about five months out. Commitment to this program is a goal within a goal.
Make mental health a priority. I may or may not have an emotional breakdown during training — knowing that ahead of time and preparing for “the worst” in a sense will remind me to cut myself some slack when things don’t go according to plan. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a run, or you don’t make a certain time, or you don’t feel your best on one of your training days; this is a marathon, not a sprint! Literally! Your commitment to this huge physical and mental goal is a gift to yourself; you’re celebrating your health and your body, so don’t get hung up on missteps or bumps in the road, and cherish every step on your journey to 26.2.

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What It's Like To Meditate with Deepak Chopra

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I’m not one for meditating. It’s not that I don’t believe in the virtues and benefits of the practice, but my mind tends to wander and instead of coming out of a session feeling zen, I instead emerge worried about my next deadline or the mysterious cough my 4-year-old daughter might have. Oh, and I’m eight months pregnant, so I feel my little girl kicking me pretty much constantly.

But when alternative medicine advocate and meditation guru Dr. Deepak Chopra organizes a small group, 20-minute meditation, it’s an opportunity not to be missed. Such was the case at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego, where on Tuesday, Chopra led a meditation for the conference’s two-hundred plus attendees.

Meditation has increasingly become a booming business. In 2015, the meditation and mindfulness industry raked in nearly $1 billion, according to research by IBISWorld, which breaks out the category from the alternative health care sector. There’s also revenue collected from the growing number of mindfulness apps, like Calm.com and Headspace.

Here’s what the Chopra experience was like:

Chopra first instructed the group to relax their stance and close their eyes with their palms open. He then asked the group to start paying attention to their breathing, and told the group that if their mind wandered that was ok, and to be bring it back to the present.

Chopra then asked the group to ask themselves a series of questions, including: “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose?”

He asked the audience to try to listen to their heartbeat, and see if they could feel the energy of it in their fingertips.

Chopra also asked the group to repeat their name to themselves, starting with their full name and then shortening it to their first name. And he called on the crowd to say a silent mantra to themselves.

Lastly, he told the group to slowly open their eyes.

I’m surely missing some of the moments—because at times, I felt like I was meditating. Twenty minutes felt more like five, and I returned to the present feeling surprisingly rested. And ready to tackle the deadline for this article.

 

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

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Healthy living with blogger Lauren Patterson

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You may recognise her as having some of the funniest Instagram tales at ___@laurenkate with her two kids Madi and Max. We caught up with Lauren to chat about healthy living, pregnancy and life post-babies.

At the time of the interview Max was six months old and Madi was three and a half, whom which she attritubes her love of health and fitness and the overcoming of severe mental illness to her children. A personal trainer and blogger, her Instagram is your go-to for cute-as selfies with her babies and down-to-earth posts concerining the trials and tribulations of parenthood. 

 

On healthy living

Leading an active and healthy lifestyle helps to manage my anxiety and just makes me feel good. Before having my kids, I was suffering from severe mental illness and an eating disorder and I had no goals or hope for myself. Now I am spending every day working as hard as I can to give my kids the life they deserve.

On pregnancy

Your body does whatever it wants when you’re pregnant. It flattened my boobs, created lots of deep stretch marks, a saggy belly button and loose skin – but it’s all part of the process. I think of them as my little pregnancy battle scars and I love them! On the other hand, pregnancy never stopped me from being active and that made it so much easier to get back into a routine after having Max.

On post-baby bodies

After having Madi, I joined a gym and I slowly learnt to adjust to a new routine as a mum: I found myself using a couch like a piece of gym equipment and learning how to add herbs and spices to make a meal tasty.

It takes hard work and eating well to get your body back in shape after having kids – it’s by no means easy. Loving your post-baby body is all about acceptance and remembering what it has achieved – it created a human!

Day in the life of Patterson

I love to include the kids in my exercise regimen, so we tend to walk everywhere. I try to go to the gym in the mornings because it helps to boost my energy levels during the day. If I can’t get to the gym, Max will be my weights in the lounge room and I find myself doing a lot of glute kickbacks during the advertisement breaks on television.

I always start my day with breakfast: I like to have a protein shake and oats, fruit or wholegrain toast. Lunch is normally fish and rice with broccoli. I’m not overly strict with my clean eating practices and I believe in balance; if I feel like sauce with my dinner, I’m going to have sauce!

 

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Why Is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Spreading at Florida State University?

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A viral infection known as hand, foot, and mouth disease is sickening students at Florida State University and other schools around the country. The illness—which spreads through contact with bodily fluids or contaminated surfaces—can cause a rash, fever, blisters in and around the mouth, and painful sores on the hands, feet, and buttocks.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is usually seen in young children, and outbreaks are often linked to daycare centers. But in the last month, it’s been reported at high schools in Indiana, Vermont, and New Jersey.

The University of Colorado at Boulder also experienced several cases on campus in August. And NBC News reports Florida State University (FSU) has seen 22 cases so far this semester.

While hand, foot, and mouth disease can sound—and look—scary, it’s not usually dangerous, says Nadia Qureshi, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Loyola Medicine in Maywood, Illinois. It can be quite uncomfortable, though, and usually lasts five to seven days. There’s no cure and no vaccine to prevent it, so the best treatment is staying hydrated and taking over-the-counter medicine for pain and fever.

The most common cause of hand, foot, and mouth disease is the coxsackievirus, which spreads just like the common cold or flu. Dr. Qureshi says that outbreaks among older children and adults are rare, but not entirely surprising.

“In the past couple of years we’ve seen a new strain of the virus that causes a more severe and more atypical presentation of symptoms, and it does affect children as well as adults,” she says. “And a college dorm is the perfect place for it to spread: People are touching doorknobs, sharing things, living in close proximity to each other, and it’s easy to pass the infection back and forth.”

RELATED: Health Hazards in College Dorms

The new strain, a natural evolution of the virus, tends to cause a more widespread rash and more painful blisters. But even this form rarely requires medical intervention, except in the case of very young children who have trouble swallowing because of painful blisters in their mouths. In very rare cases, says Dr. Qureshi, the coxsackievirus has been linked to serious brain or heart complications.

According to WCTU TV, FSU administration has speculated that the outbreak may be due to a sewage spill during the recent Hurricane Hermine, or to a related electricity outage that prohibited laundry from being done and allowed germs to spread. 

To help prevent new cases, FSU is sanitizing all public spaces on campus, and has advised all living facilities on campus to sanitize their residences, as well. They’ve also encouraged frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers. (CU Boulder also warned students working in science labs that the coxsackievirus can be especially harmful to rodents, and urges them to take “extra care not to spread the disease.”)

Those are smart steps, says Dr. Qureshi. “If you want to avoid it, the most important thing to do is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, avoid touching your face and your mouth as much as possible, and avoid close contact with someone who has it,” she says. People who’ve had hand, foot, and mouth disease as children don’t seem to have much immunity to the virus, she adds, especially to this relatively new strain.

RELATED: 6 Health Hacks Every College Freshman Should Know

People can continue to transmit the virus for several weeks after their symptoms are gone, she says, but only through saliva or fecal matter. “If you practice basic good hygiene and you no longer have a fever, you should be fine,” she says. “Just stay away from kissing and sharing cups for a while.”

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Toxic Coworkers? Rude Behavior Is Contagious, Study Says

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When we’re on the receiving end of condescending or curt remarks at work, we may think we can brush them off. After all, they’re not as openly hostile as threats or outright bullying. But a new study shows that subtle incivility in the workplace can deplete employees’ mental resources—and makes us more likely to act rudely to other coworkers, as well.

This is how toxic culture can spread through professional networks, say researchers from Michigan State University. Workplace incivility is estimated to have doubled over the past two decades, they write in the Journal of Applied Psychology, and has an average annual impact on companies of $14,000 per employee due to loss of production and work time.

To look at what might be fueling these behaviors, the researchers surveyed 70 employees, three times a day for 10 consecutive workdays. They found that incivility tended to “spiral”—with one unkind act leading to another—and that it often occurred unintentionally.

RELATED: 12 Ways to Make Your Office Better for Your Health

The reason, they say, has to do with mental fatigue and a subsequent loss of self-control. “Incivility can be somewhat ambiguous,” says co-author and management professor Russell Johnson, PhD. “So when you’re exposed to it, it can take some mental energy to understand why you were targeted and whether there was a negative intent.”

It’s depleting to manage those emotions, he adds. “You feel frustrated, angry, and anxious—and, somewhat ironically, when people are depleted like that they are more likely to pay it forward to others, even if it they don’t mean to.” He compares the phenomenon with someone who hasn’t gotten enough sleep, and is more likely to snap at others as a result.

One way employees can stop the cycle, he says, is to make sure they’re always working “with a full tank of mental fuel.” To replenish that tank, he recommends taking five-minute walking breaks to blow off steam, leaving the office to have lunch with a friend, or—if your company has the facilities for it—taking a quick power nap. “Sure, you’ll lose 30 or 40 minutes,” he says, “but you’ll be more refreshed when you return and less likely to succumb to other people’s incivility.”

RELATED: The Reason You're Burned Out at Work May Surprise You

When workers are confronted with put-downs, sarcasm, or passive-aggressiveness, he says, the best thing to do is address the matter upfront. “Confront that person and ask what they meant or why they treated you that way,” he says. “It’s better than sitting around wondering about it, since that rumination seems to be what leads to those detrimental effects.”

The study also found that workplaces with “politically charged” environments—those where employees do what’s best for themselves and not for the company, and where rules and processes are not clearly laid out—had the highest levels of incivility-induced mental depletion.

“When it isn’t made clear how you should go about conducting your work or how rewards, like promotions, are given out, it can lead to undermining and one-upmanship,” says Johnson. “If managers set clear boundaries and give good feedback about what’s acceptable and what’s not, they can limit those behaviors.”

RELATED: Crappy Relationship With Your Boss? Blame Your Parents

At the very least, says Johnson—even if you can’t do much to improve your coworkers’ attitudes—simply being aware of how incivility spreads can be a positive step.

“If you know that you’re more likely to be curt to others when you’re feeling burned out, hopefully you’ll be motivated to work harder not to act this way,” he says. Now if you could just get everyone else in the office to adopt this attitude, too, maybe those rude remarks wouldn’t happen in the first place.

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8 Ways to Actually Unplug on Vacation

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After months of lamenting to your friends, coworkers and cats that, “Ugh, I need a vacation”—but refusing to take one—you’ve finally given in and put in for a few much-needed PTO days. Hooray!

But if your first question is “Can I get WiFi?” you’re not alone. In a culture where we earn our vacation days yet don’t always take them, it can be difficult to let go, unplug and relax once we’re physically out of the office. But it’s so important.

“Taking time off allows us to physically, mentally and emotionally recharge, and allows us to gain perspective, which boosts our creativity when we return,” says Brandon Smith, also known as “The Workplace Therapist” and faculty member at Emory University’s Goizeuta Business School.

Here’s how to snap into vacation mode ASAP so you don’t waste half your trip trying to chill.

RELATED: How to Get the Most Out of Your PTO

8 Ways to Make Your Vacation Time Totally Worth It

1. Stay within your budget. If a two-week European luxe vacation is out of the question, consider a long weekend or opt for a resort within driving distance. “Taking shorter breaks more frequently can be more beneficial than just taking one long break once every year or two,” says Melanie Greenberg, PhD, a clinical psychologist in California and author of the upcoming book The Stress-Proof Brain. You don’t want to return from your trip to a negative bank account balance, which will no doubt cause even more stress than what you had before you left.

2. Get yourself in order before you go. You’re not going to be able to chill and eat cake by the ocean if you’re thinking about that deadline you missed or the email you were supposed to send. “Try to work extra hard before you leave, and let people know you’ll be gone,” says Greenberg. Smith adds, “In addition to setting your out-of-office notifications, provide a person that can be reached in your absence.” (Just be sure to give that person a heads up.)

RELATED: 7 Fitness Retreats You Can Actually Afford

3. Remind yourself that, yes, you deserve a vacation. People tend to feel guilty for taking time away for themselves. But don’t! “Relaxation is something we often view as only appropriate for the weekends or vacation time,” says Lodro Rinzler, chief spiritual officer and co-founder of MNDFL in New York City. Rinzler reminds us that we need to take breaks during the week, too, and enjoy the things that make us feel relaxed and happy.

“For many of us, the fact that we’re physically and emotionally unable to relax during the week takes a toll on our bodies. We need to walk away from our work life for a bit in order to recharge and come back to full health.”

RELATED: 17 Positive Affirmations That'll Change the Way You Think

4. Don’t worry about what you should be doing. In an Instagram and Snapchat-driven world, there’s this idea that you should either be super active, totally lazy or whatever other idea you have in your head about what a vacation should be. However you choose to spend your time off, make sure that it serves your interests.

“For some people, that’s being next to a pool. For others, it’s climbing a mountain,” Greenberg says. “Use your vacation to build healthy habits and spend time with people you love. Don’t use your time visiting relatives who stress you out or trying to run around catching up on household errands. Just focus on recovering from your everyday stress.”

RELATED: 5 Easy Tips for Healthy Travel

5. If a problem pops up while you’re away, redirect it. To put it lightly, stuff happens. “If you discover a burning fire during your vacation, don’t tackle it yourself,” says Smith. “Pass it on to others, and remind yourself that you’re on vacation.” Repeat after us: Vacation is not a dirty word!

6. Try meditating. Need help unplugging while on vacation? Do a quick 10-minute meditation to start your day. You can’t meditate while Snapchatting. “Meditation can help you work with whatever stressful situations come up in life,” says Rinzler. “It’s been scientifically proven to reduce stress, relax the body, normalize sleep, and boost the immune system.”

RELATED: Can the Right Mattress Change Your Life?

7. Set some connectivity ground rules—and abide by them! Whether you need to check on the kids or get back to a few clients, we can’t always escape the real world entirely. “Some of us have no choice but to monitor what’s happening at work or back home,” says Greenberg. “Try to keep this to a minimum and check email only once or twice a day.”

Other guidelines you can set for yourself: checking and answering email for only 30 minutes a day before logging off. Or, limiting Instagram scrolling to five minutes each day but maybe avoiding other apps. “If you want to post a photo of your perfect vacay, fine, but post it and walk away,” Rinzler says. Don’t fall down the rabbit hole of going through every friend’s account.

RELATED: 7 Tips to Actually Succeed at Your Digital Detox

8. Ease back into reality. Try to schedule your flight back home on a Friday or Saturday, so you have time to readjust to real life. “Plan a re-entry day that serves as a buffer between your vacation and your first day back to work,” says Smith. “This day should be used to catch up on email and prepare for going back to work. This will relieve pressure to check your email while you’re gone.”

Ultimately, says Greenberg, “Some stress when coming back to work is unavoidable. Integrate healthy and pleasurable activities into your everyday life after vacation—and every day, ideally—so you’re not always reliant on vacation to de-stress.”

This article originally appeared on DailyBurn.com.

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4 Simple Tricks to Improve Your Concentration

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Do you find yourself powering through work one minute and watching cat videos the next? That sounds about right: A study last year by Microsoft discovered that the average attention span is eight seconds. (Curse smartphones!) Refocus with these four adjustments.

1. Take a break

Give yourself two short breathers over the course of an hour. While that may sound counterintuitive, research shows that periodic diversions make it easier to zero in on one thing for a longer amount of time. Why? The brain gradually gets habituated to whatever the stimulus is (say, doing your taxes), so you need to stop and “reactivate” your goal from time to time to maintain your concentration.

RELATED: The 5 Steps to Quitting Anything Gracefully

2. Turn off your cell phone

It’s not just making a phone call or sending a text message that distracts you from what you’re doing: A study out of Florida State University revealed that people who merely received text or call notifications committed more mistakes on a computer task they were working on than those who did it free of phone interruptions. On deadline? Put the iPhone on silent and stash it away.

3. Reel in your multitasking

Eating dinner, watching TV, and also skimming a report? Stick to two activities (or one!): Your brain can’t handle more than two big tasks simultaneously, suggests a 2010 study in Science. Why? A part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex helps divide the work so that half the region attends to one task while the other focuses on the second one, leaving no room to juggle a third.

RELATED: How to Fall Asleep Fast, According to 6 Health Editors

4. Practice mindfulness

During breaks at home or on the job, take some steady, deep breaths and simply concentrate on your inhalations and exhalations. The Buddhist technique has been shown to improve mental performance by helping ground your mind in the present, instead of letting it wander throughout the day.

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