Benefits of Reading

Reading is often recognized for its entertainment value or as a requirement for those in school , rather than the physical, psychological, and emotional benefits that it offers to those willing to side aside a little bit of time every day devoted to reading. Unlike other areas in culture, such as films, television, museums, etc., books are widely available to almost everyone in the United States through their local public library. While there are numerous benefits of reading, here are just a few.

Exercise for the Brain – Just as you need to exercise your body in order to stay fit, t he brain also requires stimulation. Studies have suggested that reading regularly can defend against the spread of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. In addition, this stimulation leads to improved memory and critical thinking skills.

Stress Relief – Reading offers a way to escape the stress and strain of life after a particularly hard day at work or home. Instead of dwelling on the frustration or difficulties in the “real world”, readers can temporarily find comfort and distraction in fictional characters and far-off places.

Knowledge and Creativity – Books are full of facts and pieces of information, which are not only valuable for exercising your brain, but also make great conversation starters. The more information you learn about other cultures and traditions the greater creativity you can introduce into your daily life and projects.

Expanded vocabulary – The vocabulary found in many books is more sophisticated than the vocabulary of an average conversation between adults. Stories and dialogues provide an excellent way to pick up new words and exercise your brain by using context clues to figure out meaning s of new words.

Better Writing – One of the reasons why schools make students read the classic s of literature is to introduce them to different ways and styles of writing. These varied styles allow students to learn different composition techniques opening a door to new creative flow and thinking processes.

If at the end of the day you have a choice of cracking open a new book or turning on some reality TV, test out a new book. Challenge yourself to take the opportunity to broad en your mind, creative processes and increase your vocabulary. Read for an hour at the end of your night instead of watching TV and see how it enhances your evening routine.

Cooking and Eating Together as a Family

Americans today have been taken in by the fast-food and restaurant industries at the expense of home-cooking and family dinnertime. Fast food and dining out suit busy schedules and over-committed families. It’s important for families to spend time together at mealtimes, by cooking at home, or dining out together. And while there is nothing wrong with eating out every once in a while, home-cooked meals save money, support the local economy and bring families together, among other benefits.

Here are a few of the pros of cooking at home:

Cost Savings – By purchasing ingredients to cook at home, you save money. Restaurants have to pay for rent, staff and numerous other overhead costs that are passed on to the customer and pre-packaged foods have the added costs of packaging and transport. When you cook at home, you cut out those costs to provide meals for you and your family.

Health – Processed meals and fast-food are often full of chemicals, pesticides, and preservatives, which some studies have shown to be detrimental to your health. Cooking at home gives you greater control of what you’re putting into your body, so that you can make the choices that are most beneficial to you and your family. Also, you have the freedom to prepare food to your own taste and play with the recipes to make something old and worn out new again.

Sustainability – Home cooking supports local farmers and vendors. When you bu y organic or locally-grown food, you are contributing to your community’s economy, which in turn increases investment and development in other areas. Also, you have the opportunity to make use of parts like vegetable trimmings and chicken bones in stocks and other meals.

Family Time – Sitting down around the dinner table over a home-cooked meal is a fantastic way to bring the family together, even if only a few times per week. Let everyone go around the table and tell their favorite story from the week or about events coming up. You might even consider making the cooking part of family time; children love to help out in the kitchen and you can teach them to appreciate home-cooked meals early on while also practicing math skills and following directions.

Studies by Cornell University have even shown that children whose families dine together are 35% less likely to develop eating disorders, 24% more likely to eat healthier foods and 12% less likely to be overweight. Start small with one meal a week. Let your family decide what to cook together. Eventually, cooking and eating together will become a routine the family will look forward to.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

october-blog

Amidst the beauty of the orange and red leaves there’s one other striking color that catches eyes every October, pink! The minute we see the ribbons, balloons and NFL football players’ gloves and cheerleaders shaking pink pompons we know it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. But, breast cancer awareness month is more than just wearing a pink ribbon or article of clothing or joining in on a walk or fundraiser, it’s a reminder to make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions to take care of yourself and loved ones.

In 2015, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 23 1,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer. Regular mammograms increase your chances of finding cancers before the symptoms become present. Those with an increased risk because of age, genetics, etc. are recommended to have MRI screenings as well.

Each year we see posts about how to do your own exams at home and early detection signs so instead of that we will give you some ways that you can join the fight against breast cancer.

Set up a mammogram reminder – Visit the American Cancer Society website and sign up for your mammogram reminder. Then, share the link with your friends and family.

Become an advocate – Stay up-to-date with legislative actions and current advocacy initiatives that support funding and treatment.

Volunteer or Hold a Fundraiser – Many programs are available through Susan G. Komen and the National Breast Cancer Foundation to raise money to provide mammograms, support and education.

Breast Cancer Awareness should be practiced year round but October is a special month in the fight. Celebrate the survivors and remember those whom lost the battle by wearing your pink this October. But remember, early detection is key in increasing survival rates. Set up your reminders and stay in-the-know with the latest research so you can make the right choices for you and your loved ones.

Summer Colds

Nothing dampens the spirit of summer like a summer cold. While most people associate colds with wintertime, studies show that between 30 and 50 percent of colds are caused by rhinoviruses, which happen to be very active during the spring and summer.

Whether you already have a summer cold or you’re afraid of catching one, here are a few tips to protect yourself and those around you:

Cover your mouth - While this may seem like an obvious tip, covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough prevents the airborne spread of germs to those people and surfaces around you. Use the inside of your elbow, or a tissue.

Wash your hands - Warm water and soap are one easy way to protect yourself against germs. This or hand sanitizer, along with not touching your face, offer significant protection against the viruses that cause colds.

Be wary of touching surfaces - Busy areas are far more likely to transfer germs from one person to another. Avoid touching surfaces that you don’t have to touch like doorknobs and handles, or consider opening the bathroom door with a paper towel

Stay home - If you’re already sick, avoid coming in to work if possible and take the appropriate over-the counter medication.

Stay hydrated - Increased physical exertion during the summer results in increased dehydration, which makes it more difficult for your body’s immune system to fight off sickness. Stick to water, and avoid coffee, juice, and alcohol, which can actually dehydrate you even more.

Make the most of the summer, and enjoy it without being sick.

Stroke Awareness Month

May is stroke awareness month, a time to build awareness of stroke warning signs and prevention. Nearly 800,000 strokes occur annually. In fact, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. Although stroke is associated with the older adults, it more often occurs in people under 65. Stroke is largely preventable and treatable, so it’s important for everyone to learn more about the warning signs and ways to prevent it.

Stroke occurs when a blockage stops the blood flow to the brain or when the blood vessel around the brain bursts. Stroke can cause paralysis or weakness on one side of the body, pain the in hands and feet, speech problems and more. Although there are demographic risk factors for stroke, there are things people can do to lower their risk including:

  • ABCS of Health
    • Aspirin Therapy – Consult with your doctor on taking aspirin
    • Blood pressure – Keep your blood pressure under control. Be sure to check your blood pressure before taking birth control pills. High levels may increase your chances of stroke.
    • Cholesterol – Manage your levels to keep your arteries in good condition.
    • Smoking – Quit smoking – it can increase your risk of stroke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy diet – low in sodium
  • Prevent or control diabetes
  • Limit alcohol intake (fewer than two drinks for men, one for women)

Warning Signs of Stroke

When responding to a stroke, every minute counts. Strokes can be hard to detect and the symptoms for women are unique. It can start with a headache and could then lead to hearing sounds in your head and overall confusion. Recognizing the symptoms of a stroke is critical to getting the treatment needed for recovery.

table

Strokes can progress quickly, so it’s important to act fast if you feel you are having symptoms. Here is a checklist if you or someone you know may be having a stroke -- using the acronym FAST:

-  Face - Check if your face is drooping or numb on one side. Check to see if the smile is uneven.

A  -  Arms – Check to see if you can raise both arms without any weakness and if one arm drifts

downward.

S  -  Speech – Check for slurred speech or difficulty forming words. Repeat a simple sentence, like

“the sky is blue,” to see if it is correct.

T  -  Time – Call 9-1-1 for help as soon as possible. Treatment within three hours of the first 

symptoms can help reduce disability in the long term. Every 15 minute delay in a clot treatment can impact recovery of a stroke, so time is crucial.

 

Visit www.strokeassociation.org for more information on stroke.

Earth Day –Take Care of Our Planet

Today is Earth Day…a day to recognize all that we can do to support the environment. We have made many achievements, but there are still many challenges ahead facing the world toward solving climate changes and protecting the environment. We need to unite together to educate and inspire everyone from policy makers and corporations to artists and citizens to take immediate action to preserve the earth for future generations. “It’s our last chance to tackle climate change before it is too late,” said Ki-moon Ban, United Nations Secretary-General. “Take your passion and compassion to make this world sustainable, prosperous…and let’s make that our global reality.” Here are a few ways you can join the movement to preserve the earth:

Reduce Your Energy Use – One of the best ways to help the environment is by reducing the amount of energy you use. Try to be aware of how many light switches you have on in your home and remember to turn them off when you leave the room. Even appliances that are not currently in use draw energy. Be sure to keep them unplugged when you are not using them.

Use Renewable Energy Sources – Shifting away for using non-renewable resources for energy is essential to reducing greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. Most energy companies offer renewable energy plan options through non-biomass sources of energy (hydropower, geothermal or wind). Utilizing solar energy when possible helps too. More and more home owners are adding solar panels to their homes to draw energy from the sun.

Recycle – We can re-use items and create less waste by recycling paper, glass, aluminum and more. This will help control our landfills and better preserve our natural resources. Plastic is not biodegradable and can be harmful to wildlife and the environment.

Reduce Use of Paper – We have certainly been more mindful of going green, but we still have a long way to go. Try to reduce your use of paper. Consider using an app instead of paper for notes, calendars and more. Move away from traditional invitations. Many websites, like Evite, offer creative invitations for a variety of events. Using digital invitations eliminates the need for paper and allows you to easily track RSVPs and send reminders and messages to guests.

Sign the Climate Petition – You can sign a petition to encourage national and international leaders to phase out carbon. Global warming is a real issue that is threatening our survival. You can sign a petition to encourage the movement toward 100% clean energy by 2050. Sign Up

 

Take Control of Seasonal Allergies

Living with allergies can be difficult, and unfortunately, allergies are extremely common. It’s estimated that as many as 50 million people in the U.S. experience allergy symptoms, including nasal congestion, sneezing, sinus pressure, eye irritation and even asthma for severe allergy sufferers. Allergic reactions are triggered by many different types of allergens, like pollen, which are worse seasonally when particles are released from trees, weeds and grasses. Pollen can even travel long distances through the wind, so you don’t need to live near trees that trigger your allergies to be affected by their pollen. No matter what type of pollen that affects you, these tips can help get your allergies under control:

Limit your time outside – Stay indoors at times when pollen counts are highest. It also helps to know what pollen triggers your allergies. Pollen is typically highest from 5 am to 10 am and on windy days.

Find out pollen counts in your area – You can look up pollen counts in your area. Click here to look up counts by zip code.

Stay indoors on hot, dry days – Pollen is more likely to be in the air on hot days and on the ground on cooler, wet days.

Wear a mask when working outside – It can help while gardening or doing other yard work. You may want to avoid mowing the lawn if you are experiencing allergy symptoms.

Change your clothes after spending time outside – Pollen may have been picked up on your clothes when you were outside. For severe sufferers, showers are recommended to remove pollen that may have collected in your hair and skin.

Keep your home clean – Frequent vacuuming can help. Be sure to change your air conditioning filters often.

Keep windows closed – This will limit the amount of allergens that enter your home. The same thing applies to your car.

Wash your hands frequently – This can especially help if you have a pet, as they can bring in pollen they have been in contact with outside.

Consider allergy medication to treat symptoms – Antihistamines reduce or block histamines – the chemicals the body makes when allergic reaction is triggered. Many medications are available over-the-counter. If you’re not sure which medication to use, be sure to consult with your doctor, especially if you have other health conditions.

Heart Month – Take Care of Your Heart

February is a month all about the heart -- and not just through showing appreciation for friends and loved ones on Valentine’s Day. It’s a time to recognize the importance of heart health during American Heart Month. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death among men and women in the United States. There are a number of risk factors that contribute to developing heart disease including age, gender (men are at more risk), family history, smoking, poor diet, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol (LDL), diabetes and lack of physical activity. Here are some strategies that can help you prevent heart disease:

Stop smoking – Smoking puts you at significantly more risk of developing heart disease. The chemicals in tobacco can damage the heart and narrow the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack. If you are a smoker, it’s not too late to make a difference. Quitting will reduce your risk to the level of a nonsmoker in about five years.

Regular exercise – A sedentary lifestyle puts people at greater risk of heart disease. Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity most days a week will strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system, improve your oxygenation, as well as help you reduce body fat, increase strength and lower blood pressure. So sit less and get that blood pumping.

Heart-healthy diet – A diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and certain types of fish, like salmon, can help you stay healthy and manage your weight. Be sure to limit fat intake like saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fat, which can be found in foods like red meat, dairy, fried foods, packaged foods and bakery product.

Lose Weight – An unhealthy weight puts strain on your heart and increases your risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. BMI numbers of 25 and higher can be associated with higher blood fats and blood pressure. If you need to lose weight, don’t be discouraged. Simple lifestyle changes can make the difference toward your weight goals.

Sleep – Believe it or not, getting a good amount of sleep each night not only reduces tiredness, but also helps reduce your risks of obesity, high blood pressure and heart attack. In fact, insomniacs who take longer than 14 minutes to fall asleep face an even greater risk of hypertension, according to the American Heart Association. Try to reduce stress and get some good sleep - 7 to 9 hours a night is recommended. If you’re a night owl, you may have to adjust your schedule to make sure you get plenty of rest each night.

Health Screenings – Make sure to check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly. Untreated hypertension can cause hardening and thickening of arteries, which narrows the vessels, while high cholesterol can cause plaques in the vessels. Having a diabetes screening is a good idea also, since the disease can put you at significantly more risk of developing heart disease. If you’re not sure if you are at risk for heart disease, talk to your doctor.

Sources: Heart.org; Mayo Clinic.org

Keep Your Resolutions on Track

The new year, for many, means making resolutions. But in reality, most don’t keep their resolutions. One reason might be that the resolution is too difficult to keep. Making resolutions is a good idea, but keeping them realistic may make it easier to achieve. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, try making small adjustments at a time. Weight loss may be necessary, but generally a goal of leading a healthier lifestyle may be in order. Diets tend to be short lived for a reason. Here are some tips that may help you keep your weight loss resolution:

Change Your Eating Habits

It’s not just the quantity of what you eat that makes a difference, it’s also what you eat. A healthy diet with protein, fruits and vegetables is essential to staying on track. If it becomes a habit, you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Make sure you eat the food you actually like. You may want to play around with different recipes.

Watch Your Snacks

Be savvy with your snacking. Try to stick with healthier food in general, but if you do eat crackers, chips or other unhealthy snacks, be sure to eat small quantities. Try pouring them into a small bowl. This will help you avoid eating too much out of the package. Be sure to check the serving size on the box.

Control Your Serving Size

In reality, Americans eat way too much food. The serving size at restaurants is typically not for one. Over time, we have all starting eating close to double what people ate at each meal within the last 50 years. In fact, the plates used to be smaller. Try using the salad plate at meals. It will help you slim down your portion.

Drink Lots of Water

Drinking water before a meal will help fill your stomach and you’ll be likely to eat less. This helps between meals too. Sugary drinks are a vice that many of us have – and the calories add up fast. Replace juice, sodas, sweet tea and coffee drinks with water.

Cheat Occasionally

Treating yourself to your favorite food or drink, even on a diet, isn’t always a bad thing. Moderation is key, of course; but occasional splurging can help you to not feel deprived and more likely to stick with your diet.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

No matter what your resolution is, plan on treating yourself to something special when you reach your goal. Remind yourself why you have the goal in the first place. It may motivate you to stick with it – plus it will give you an excuse to treat yourself to something special. You deserve it.

Dealing with Holiday Stress

The holidays are joyous time filled with special moments with family and friends; however, for many people, the holidays can be stressful and hectic. Dealing with the hustle bustle while shopping in crowded stores, worrying about how to stay on a budget, and the hassle of entertaining can cause stress during an already busy time. No matter the reason for the stress, here are some tips that may help alleviate some tension this holiday season.

 

  • Plan ahead – Get organized. Make a plan for holiday shopping. Try not to put off shopping for gifts until the stores are overcrowded and there is limited supply. Planning ahead for holiday meals works too. Don’t wait until the day before your event to buy food. Shopping at off-peak hours or online is a plus for avoiding crowds.
  • Ask for Help – Don’t be afraid to ask family or friends to bring a dish to share with others. You may want to do it all yourself, but one less side dish or dessert will save your time and money. Even if your family member doesn’t cook, they can buy already prepared items in grocery stores.
  • Just Say No – It’s easy to overextend yourself during the holidays. Parties and special gatherings can be fun, but can also lead to added stress. Plus, it can contribute to overconsumption of food and drink, which can lead to weight gain. The holidays are already a difficult time to manage weight with all the holiday treats and fattening meals. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid parties all together, just be selective.
  • Volunteer – A great way to relieve some stress is to volunteer. Helping others in their time of need can bring you joy and take your mind off other concerns. There are many opportunities to give back this time of year when many families can’t afford food or gifts for their loved ones.
  • Plan Family Time – One thing that can help during the busy holidays is to take the time to do something with your family. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Looking a Christmas lights in neighborhoods or window shopping can be fun for everyone and can even set new holiday traditions.
  • Take a Break – Find time to do something you love. You can spend some time on a hobby or treat yourself to a spa treatment. The time off will renew your spirit.
  • Be Grateful and Enjoy – Take the time to be grateful for all you have. Misery and gratefulness don’t work together. Although being around your family can be trying at times, it’s those special moments together that make lasting memories.