Fat Loss 

Yoga Poses to Relieve Stress and Loosen Up Your Shoulders

Use these yoga poses to help you relax and stretch out your body. Do these poses after a workout or before you go to bed at night. These poses will help you relieve pain and loosen up any tight or sore muscles. Source by aysenrtrn

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How I Stopped Obsessing About Being Skinny

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I’ve always been passionate about being active, but I’d be lying if I told you that passion wasn’t once attached to the passion to be skinny. Skinny is a word I cringe at now, but for most of my life, skinny was everything.

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Part familial and part societal pressure, I grew up truly believing that being thin was synonymous with being beautiful. I’ve been on a diet for most of my life, not because I was overweight, but because the idea of being overweight was always a lingering worry, taunting me in the background. Although I was active, healthy, and toned, I never felt skinny enough, and it haunted me. I truly believed if I was skinny I would be happy and feel more confident.

The first time I ever gained real weight was my freshman year in college. I was ordering in, eating out, and drinking nearly every night. Immediately, I started up with two-a-day cardio sessions, barely ate a bite all day, then binged on a huge late dinner. At the time, I felt like I was being “good” and taking control of my body. I dropped weight so quickly, but it was at the price of my mental clarity, energy, and happiness. It was an unsustainable solution, and I put back on the weight just as quickly as I had taken it off — I knew I had to go about things in a different way. I cleaned up my act, cut out processed foods, and starting doing yoga every day, but I am embarrassed to admit that yoga wasn’t my primary form of exercise just because of all the healthy benefits it brought to my life — I saw it as a way to get skinny. A month into committing to a regular yoga practice, I began to acknowledge that my physical fitness was much more than a number on the scale or a body type I idealized. The stronger I felt in my yoga practice, the better I felt in the rest of my life. I stopped being as concerned about the skinny and started wanting more of that strong stuff.

This desire to be strong helped me realize the myth that lifting weights would bulk me up and make me feel unfeminine was just that — a myth. As soon as I unveiled the truth behind the myth, I started lifting and moving through bodyweight moves at home, and I began to see and feel a huge difference in my shape. I stopped stressing into fitting into a certain body type, because I was attaining something stronger, better, and more beautiful than I had anticipated. I was no longer about the number on the scale or the size of my jeans, and I found so much relief in giving up the numbers. Instead of obsessing over a tiny drop on the scale, I started reveling in the new definition I saw in my deltoids. Instead of trying to squeeze into my too-tight college pants, I realized that my backside had a little lift and was filling out my current jeans beautifully.

Once I realized I didn’t need to be thin in order to feel whole or content, I felt like I had been handed the keys to the kingdom. I am both thrilled and relieved that what was once referred to as a trend is starting to have some serious staying power. There is so much power in strength, and even more when there’s strength in numbers — I’m so ready for even more women to live by this truth! If you can relate to the anxiety I grew up with or you simply feel like the standard of skinny is unattainable (or, honestly, doesn’t sound like that much fun), stop being intimidated by the weight room, and try a workout program that supports your strength. If you’re anything like me, it will transform your life.

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The Best Natural Remedies for PMS, Pain, Sleep, and More

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Two years into medical school, Laurie Steelsmith needed something for pain in her hands and arms. It wasnt clear what was wrong, but it was a struggle just to braid her hair, take notes in class, and even drive a car. When high doses of ibuprofen prescribed by her doctors only made her ears ring, Steelsmith turned elsewhere—to all-natural medicine. Using herbs and other supplements, she says, her pain slowly but surely disappeared.

Seventeen pain-free years later, Steelsmith, 44, a doctor of Chinese and naturopathic medicine and author of Natural Choices for Womens Health, is one of 90 million American women who regularly use supplements. “I really believe in this medicine,” she says. “Its what my body needs.”

Which all-natural remedies are best for you? Health asked Steelsmith and other natural-medicine experts to identify safe and effective choices for women. Of course, as the word implies, any supplement is an add-on to a healthy lifestyle, not a substitute for eating well, exercising, or keeping your doctors appointments. Supplements are not cure-alls.

Best for pain:

Bromelain

This enzyme, found in pineapple, helped Steelsmith resume her daily tasks with a lot less pain. Scientists think bromelain may actually break down protein in the blood, which explains its ability to curb pain-causing inflammation (and why its used as a meat tenderizer). Unlike over-the-counter and prescription pain drugs that come with stomach and heart risks, bromelain is considered safe. Take 200 to 400 milligrams a day when youre hurting.

Boswellia

An herb long used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine, boswellia may be more effective than drugs like ibuprofen for reducing inflammation. The acid in the herb seems to block an enzyme that generates inflammatory chemicals. Biochemist Holly Phaneuf, PhD, formerly of the University of Utah and author of Herbs Demystified, says the herb may be useful for pain associated with osteoarthritis, a common disorder among people over 40 that destroys the cushioning in joints. Another target: asthma, which is often linked to inflammation. A typical dose is 450 to 1,200 mg a day.

Best for PMS:

Chasteberry tree

Compounds in the fruit of this tall, blue-violet plant appear to increase the production (or block the breakdown) of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate the hormone prolactin. Elevated levels of prolactin can lead to irritability, painful periods, and breast soreness. Two German studies confirm the effectiveness of chasteberry tree supplements. “Its my favorite herb hands-down for PMS,” says Tieraona Low Dog, MD, director of education at the University of Arizonas Program in Integrative Medicine. She recommends that you take 250 to 500 mg daily for three months. If your next period approaches with a vengeance once you quit, start taking it again.

Best for “the blues”:

SAMe

A natural compound that your body makes by itself, SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine) helps you produce feel-good brain chemicals. In supplement form, it works as well as antidepressants, according to a recent government report. “As soon as you get SAMe, your body just slurps it up,” says Hyla Cass, MD, author of Supplement Your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesnt Know About Nutrition. Start with 400 mg a day, and build up to 800 to 1,200 mg until you start feeling better.

Best for tummy woes:

Peppermint

Dr. Low Dog highly recommends this age-old remedy for stomachaches and gas because it relaxes the muscles in your digestive tract, which reduces cramping and also helps expel gas. A research review found that peppermint-oil tablets may work as well as muscle-relaxing drugs in relieving the cramps and diarrhea linked to irritable bowel syndrome, a common problem for women. Take one tablet two to three times a day. Constipated? Dont use peppermint; it might make the problem worse. Try adding more fiber to your diet and drinking more water.

Ginger

When youre feeling green in the gills, this root-derived supplement can relieve nausea. Experts say it may block stomach-emptying signals and slow the production of a compound that makes you feel queasy. In several studies, ginger worked just as well on morning sickness as the motion sickness drug marketed as Dramamine—without the drowsiness. Take 1,000 mg daily for a few days.

Best for better sleep:

Valerian

Two-thirds of American women complain of frequent sleep problems; this herb may be just what many of them need. No one knows exactly how it works, but some studies show valerian helps to bring on sleep with no side effects. It isnt addictive, either. Take 400 to 600 mg 45 minutes before bedtime, and make sure you dont mix it with other sedatives like muscle relaxants or antihistamines.

Melatonin

Your body makes this hormone at nightfall—and makes less of it as you get older, which is one reason seniors often sleep less. Melatonin supplements are often suggested for re-establishing your sleep-wake cycle when you travel east across several time zones. And if you need to fall asleep faster, it may help; try taking 3 mg at bedtime.

Also check out http://healthywithjodi.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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The ‘Love Hormone’ May Help People With Ringing in Their Ears

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THURSDAY, Sept. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News)—People suffering from chronic ringing in the ears—called tinnitus—may find some relief by spraying the hormone oxytocin in their nose, a small initial study by Brazilian researchers suggests.

Oxytocin—dubbed the “love hormone” because it promotes social connections—might also help relieve the annoying and sometimes disturbing noises of tinnitus.

“Oxytocin has actions in the brain and the ear that may help in tinnitus treatment and provide immediate relief,” said lead researcher Dr. Andreia Azevedo. She is with the department of otolaryngology at the Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo.

But, at least one hearing specialist was unconvinced that oxytocin would help.

And, even Azevedo said it isn’t clear how oxytocin might work to relieve tinnitus. She speculated that it may have an effect in the ear, probably related to fluid regulation in the inner ear, and a brain effect that may be related to the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

“For some patients, tinnitus disappeared or reached a non-distress level,” Azevedo said. “As usual in tinnitus treatment, in some patients the tinnitus kept low, and for some it raised after drug therapy ended.”

Although oxytocin appeared safe, its long-term effects aren’t known, Azevedo said. “We did not have any side effects, but further larger studies are necessary to establish the role of oxytocin in tinnitus treatment,” she added.

The research team is conducting additional studies to see if increasing doses of oxytocin can improve and lengthen the response.

“We expect that these trials will raise the interest in this drug and result in larger randomized trials,” Azevedo said.

The results of the study were scheduled to be presented Thursday at the meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery in San Diego. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

As many as one in 10 Americans suffers from tinnitus. The disorder is characterized by hearing sounds when there are none. The sounds can be perceived as ringing, buzzing, crickets or hissing. For those who struggle with it daily, the noise is so bothersome that it interferes with thinking, emotions, hearing, sleep and concentration, according to a previously published study. That study was released online July 21 in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.

For the new study, the researchers randomly assigned 17 people with tinnitus, average age 63, to puffs of oxytocin or a placebo (distilled water) in each nostril.

The study volunteers were asked to assess their symptoms 30 minutes after treatment, and then again, 24 hours later.

Azevedo’s team found that patients who received oxytocin reported a significant reduction in tinnitus, compared with those who received the placebo.

Dr. Darius Kohan is chief of otology/neurotology at Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital in New York City. “It’s good people are doing research on this,” he said, “because there isn’t any one treatment that works very well.”

Kohan remains skeptical, however, about using oxytocin to treat tinnitus, because so many treatments have been tried and have failed.

“Whenever there is a medical condition and there are a thousand different treatments, it means that none of them work, because if there was one that worked we would all be doing it,” he said.

Results of this small trial are not sufficient to draw any conclusions about oxytocin as a treatment, Kohan added.

“There are too many ifs with this. Is it possible that it helps? Yes. Is it possible it’s a placebo effect? Yes,” Kohan said. “You can’t tell from this small study whether or not the treatment is effective over the long term.”

In addition, he said, the hormone can have serious side effects, including abnormal heartbeat, abnormally low blood pressure, high blood pressure, allergic reactions, breathing difficulty, nausea and vomiting.

People suffering from tinnitus shouldn’t start using oxytocin in hopes of curing themselves, Kohan said.

“This is not something you take lightly. You don’t know if it has benefits in the long term, and you can potentially have bad side effects. I would not recommend it,” he said.

More information

For more on tinnitus, visit the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery.

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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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The Best Stress Buster You're Currently Not Using

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If you've ever spent some time doodling with crayons or sculpting a lump of Play-Doh and emerged feeling refreshed and relaxed, science may have an explanation. Researchers found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol (which normally spikes during the fight-or-flight response) went down in a group of 39 volunteers who drew with markers, made collages, or played with clay for 45 minutes.

Although this study, published in Art Therapy, was done in healthy adults, it confirms what Lindsay Aaron sees all the time in cancer patients: "This is a very science-focused study but it's something you see on the outside of the individual, in body language, the emotional state, behavior," says Aaron, a healing arts therapist at Montefiore Health System in New York City. "We're being able to understand what goes on in the neurology."  

Much of the research thus far has been done in people suffering from different health conditions, and usually with much more defined tasks, such as painting a single tile. This study is the first to look at more freewheeling creative expression in healthy people.

RELATED: Pamper Yourself! 8 Natural Stress Relievers

Researchers took saliva samples from 33 women and six men aged 18 to 59 before and after 45-minute sessions with an art therapist, who was present to provide any assistance needed.​ Levels of cortisol in the saliva tend to mirror those in the blood, so are a good measure of how stressed you are.  

The participants were given no specific instructions other than to make anything they wanted with paper, markers, modeling clay, and collage materials. Some made collages out of magazine pages, some made small clay sculptures, and some combined clay, scribbles, and words cut out of newspapers. About half of the participants had little experience making art.

Cortisol levels went down in 75% of participants over the course of a session. Surprisingly, the remaining 25% had higher levels of cortisol than when they started, something the researchers are still trying to understand. It could be that the art led to new learning or self awareness, which raised stress levels. When asked to write about the experience, participants who said they had learned about themselves during the exercise were slightly more likely to have elevated cortisol levels. 

The study included no control group, which means the researchers don't know if the changes in cortisol levels were due to making art or to some other factor, like hanging out with other people, says study lead author Girija Kaimal, assistant professor of creative arts therapies at Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions in Philadelphia. 

RELATED: 25 Surprising Ways Stress Affects Your Health

It's possible that cortisol levels would decrease after an hour of watching TV as well, points out James W. Pennebaker, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Pennebaker has done numerous studies linking expressive writing with better heath and lower stress levels.

That said, "The findings are certainly consistent with the idea that self-expression can reduce stress and improve health," Pennebaker added.

Art serves two purposes at least, according to Kaimal. "It helps us express things that we don't often have words for but are deeply felt and experienced," she says. "Second, it helps us communicate to others this inner state, and when you communicate, you can build relationships. You are really communicating 'This is who I am and where I am.'"

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Paige Hathaway on health and fitness

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Women’s Health and Fitness July 2016 cover model Paige Hathaway shares her insights on keeping fit, recovery and a balanced lifestyle.

 

On fitness

I set my fitness schedule at the beginning of each week with personal goals for the upcoming seven days. On average, I try to spend an hour in the gym at least four to five days a week, focusing on a different body part each day. For balance, I dedicate a day to yoga and a day for performance training. Depending on my travel schedule, I usually take one to two rest days.

On eating habits

When it comes to nutrition, I believe in the 80/20 method because balance is important. My commitment is to clean eating 80 per cent of the time and I make sure I consume all the essential macronutrients each day. On average, I eat three to four meals, which include 170 to 230 grams of carbs, a chicken or white fish protein, and a healthy fat such as an avocado. Every few days I’ll swap out the chicken or fish for a lean skirt steak. 

On ‘me’ time

I relieve stress with a nice sports or deep tissue massage, or a hot bath at the end of a long day always helps. A little glass of wine after dinner doesn’t hurt either! 

On daily life

The truth is there is no typical day in my life. Every day is different, which is what makes things so exciting. I do try to start each day at 5am with one of my Fit in 5 routines – each program is quick, intense and effective, and I feel like they set the tone and energy for the next 24 hours.

Read the full cover story Q&A in the July issue of Women’s Health and Fitness Magazine.

 

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If You're Taking an Antidepressant for a Reason Besides Depression, You Should Read This

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One in 10 Americans is taking an antidepressant, according to the latest stats from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But a new study suggests that depression may not be the only reason: Doctors are increasingly doling out prescriptions for antidepressants to treat other conditions—from sexual dysfunction to eating disorders—according to the research published in the journal JAMA.

The study analyzed more than 100,000 prescriptions for antidepressants written by 158 doctors in Quebec over the last decade. Of those scripts, 44.8% were written to treat a disorder that was not depression. And 29.4% of the drugs were given for an off-label indication. (For the purposes of this study, that meant the drug had not been approved by the FDA or Health Canada to treat the condition in question.)

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The researchers found that many of the off-label scripts were for insomnia (10.2%) and pain (6.1%). But doctors were also prescribing antidepressants for migraines, ADHD, digestive system disorders, and symptoms of menopause. 

“The problem isn’t with off-label [use] in general," says study co-author Jenna Wong, a PhD candidate at McGill University in Montreal. "For some antidepressants there is good documented research to show they can treat certain conditions. But there’s a problem when medications are used off label with no scientific evidence at all.” 

She points out that when your MD prescribes a drug, you assume it has been approved as a treatment—in other words, that it's been through a regulatory process designed to help keep you safe. But clearly that's not always the case.

An off-label treatment might not be inherently bad, but it does open you up to side effects—and it may not even help you feel better, says Wong. 

“For so many of these conditions, there aren’t really great medications known to be effective," says Wu. "If a patient asks their doctor for something to relieve their symptoms, and are given an antidepressant, they should be aware that it may be off label.” 

​RELATED: Fish Oil Plus Antidepressants May Be One-Two Punch for Depression

The takeaway? It’s important to be involved in your care—even when you’re understandably eager to find a cure for what ails you. That doesn’t mean you need to dig into the scientific literature yourself. But ask your doctor questions—like why an antidepressant might be appropriate, what the research says about it. It’s up to doctors to scrutinize that kind of information, says Wong. Then, discuss the pros and cons of the drug with your provider. The technical term is "shared decision making," and the idea is that together, you and your doc can come up with a plan that’s right for you.

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