Most Common Diseases of Which Many Men Are Often Unaware

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

food-healthy-man-w-blueberries_PexelsMen, in general, are “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of guys, and they believe that they can fix anything by themselves. This is true many times in life. But when it comes to medical or health conditions, this could be a common yet dangerous misconception.

Sometimes, those “annoying” symptoms (e.g. snoring, bad breath, enlarged prostate, and unexplained weight gain or loss) show up and even persist, but a lot of guys would rather tough it out or put off a visit to the doctor with various excuses. I get that.

To help you strengthen your health and live a vibrant life, I’m calling attention to the most common diseases that affect men and necessary actions you can take to prevent potentially grave consequences.

Do you know top 10 diseases that kill men? Here they are:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Cancer: cancers of lung, prostate and colon. Testicle cancer is commonly seen in younger men.
  3. Accidents and injuries
  4. Stroke
  5. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  6. Diabetes
  7. Influenza and pneumonia
  8. Kidney disease
  9. Alzheimer’s disease
  10. Suicide

The good news is – Most of the killer diseases that affect men are potentially preventable by living a healthy lifestyle. So, stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight, keep physically active, and eat a healthy, nutritious diet.

Furthermore, here are a list of things you or loved ones can do for men’s health:

  • Check out critical numbers such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar, keep them in normal range.
  • Schedule a routine medical care or physical examination.
  • Schedule recommended screenings for prostate and colon cancer.
  • Acquire a routine testicle exam.
  • Keep mentally active, e.g. taking new classes or playing brain games.
  • Continue forging a close relationship with a circle of friends.
  • Never ignore some seemingly common symptoms such as snoring, bad breath, and enlarged prostate. If the problem persists, consult your physician to rule out any medical conditions.
  • Seek professional help if you have symptoms of depression.

Father’s Day is around the corner. Saving His life can be the best and priceless gift for Dad.

 

Image credit: Pexels

Cutting Sugar for Cancer Prevention

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Sugar in a teaspoon_DreamstimeIt’s easy to say “Sugar is bad for you,” but just how bad is it?

In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reducing its sugar intake recommendations from 10 percent of your daily calorie intake to 5 percent. To put this in a more measurable way, consuming 5% daily would be about 25 grams of sugar intake. This recommendation refers to all sugar – manually added and naturally occurring.

So, what does this translate for you? Adults with a healthy weight (a normal body mass index or BMI) are recommended to have less than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day from added or natural sources, given that 1 teaspoon = 4 grams.

The WHO warned the public that much of the sugar consumed today is “hidden” in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. This is alarming. Sure, you probably know a can of regular soda contains 40 grams of sugar, equivalent to 10 teaspoons. However, do you realize that a tablespoon of ketchup contains 1 teaspoon of sugar (4 grams)?

How about your frozen pizza? Or cereal, bread, soup, yogurt, and even mayonnaise? They all contain sugar. So it’s not just soft drinks, juice drinks, desserts, and other foods we think of as “sweet,” but many other common food items, especially processed ones.

Why is cutting sugar crucial to fighting cancer?

Candies in stop-sign -1025007-mEvery cell in our bodies needs sugar to promote a positive energy balance. Cancer cells are no exception, and they love sugar because it feeds them. Growing research evidence has shown how, though complicated mechanisms, increased blood sugar plays a significant role in cancer development.

Cancer hallmarks include accumulated mutations of DNA, increased proliferation, and the invasion and migration of cancerous cells. Higher blood sugar has both direct effects on cancer’s cellular events and indirect effects on rewiring cancer-related signaling pathways through other factors. This may also provide insight into the extensive findings that the diabetic population is at higher risk of site-specific cancers (e.g., breast, colorectal, pancreatic, and stomach cancer).

One of several modifiable risk factors for cancer is poor diet, which is also a risk factor for obesity. What’s more, obesity is an independent risk factor for cancer and for many other common chronic diseases. There is a variety of ways to lower your sugar intake, including:

  •     Keep a healthy, nutritious diet.
  •     Eat a plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits.
  •     Avoid processed foods.
  •     Avoid artificial sweeteners.
  •     Drink water instead of sugar-loaded soft drinks.
  •     Read food labels attentively.

For more strategies and tips, see our cancer prevention blog.

The bottom line:

Cutting back sugar will help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity-related health problems, and cancer.

 

Image credits: By www.dreamstime.com and nazreth

“SHADE” — 5 Essential Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Girl Pointing At Sky In Summer_StokpicSkin cancer remains one of most common cancers in the United States. Fortunately, it is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Do you know that more than 90% of skin cancer is caused by excessive or unnecessary exposure to the sun?

Everybody loves the sun! However, you can suffer serious consequence from over-exposure. Just like anything else, moderation is key. Here I am going to guide you on how you can protect yourself from sun damage and skin cancer. The acronym “SHADE” is a handy way to remember the keys to your skin health.

1.     S stands for “Sunscreen application”.

This is an important sun safe practice. A wide variety of sunscreen are available on the market but not all products are created equal. Make sure to use sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB. Apply them generously to the parts of skin that will be exposed to the sun. In addition, use a moisturizer with SPF 15 or higher on a daily basis. Sun Protection Factor 15 provides protection 15 times longer before sunburn. Accordingly, SPF 30 provides protection 30 times longer.

2.     H stands for “Hide from the sun”.

Skin is the largest organ in the body; it’s necessary to preserve its function. Whether you stroll under the sun or enjoy outdoors adventures, wear sunglasses, a hat, and cover up with loose clothing. Also, make sure your sunglasses have both UVA and UVB blocking properties.

3.     A stands for “Avoid the sun during its most intensive time”

Staying away from the sun is especially paramount between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., because during this window of time, the sun is at its strongest, thereby making this time the riskiest for sun damage.

4.     D stands for “Detect early and Defense daily”.

Schedule an annual skin cancer screening if you are among those “high risk” individuals. Also, identify early signs of skin cancer through self-awareness or attentiveness from family members and friends. Look out for any moles, bumps or spots on your skin, notice any changes in size, color, height, asymmetry, texture and border, as well as any fluid or pain. In other words, know your ABCDEs as WebMD advised.

Sun damage is characterized by generating free radicals. Antioxidants are powerful weapons that fight or “catch” free radicals. So, build up your antioxidant defense by eating fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants and micronutrients such as carotenoids, lycopene, resveratrol and flavonoids. Eat more salmon, because higher Omega-3 essential fatty acids may protect skin damage and premature aging from UV radiation.

5.     E stands for “Educate everyone”.

Remember, E is for education, not entertainment under the sun! Start with children and young adults. Instruct skin care equally to women and men. Regardless of gender and age, we are all exposed to the same sun. These days, the sun is getting less merciful compared to two or three decades ago due to changes in ozone protection. Thinning ozone layers in the atmosphere cannot filter out UVA radiation and UVB radiation as well as they could previously. Therefore, skin damage happens earlier and at a deeper level.

Let’s recap the 5 essential ways for your sun protection and skin cancer prevention:

Sunscreen should be applied daily.

Hide behind the sun.

Avoid the sun during its most intensive hours.

Detect early and defense daily.

Educate everyone—young and old, men and women.

Take home message:

The acronym SHADE stands for a set of effective weapons against sun damage and skin cancer. To enjoy the great outdoors on a nice, sunny day, safe-guard yourself and your family with SHADE!

If you like the post, please share with others. Thanks for your help with cancer prevention!

 

Image credits: by Stokpic

Seven Novel Strategies for Spring or Anytime Cleaning to Prevent Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Spring flowers-fly-garden_PexelsFlowers are blooming and birds are singing as spring arrives after a long winter. Spring cleaning is a buzzword now. Some people are excited about cleaning for fresh and renewed homes; in contrast, others see spring cleaning as a daunting task and feel overwhelmed even just running down a long checklist. Either way is understandable.

Here is the point: spring cleaning doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all, and you can gain cancer prevention benefits out of different kinds of spring cleaning. You will know why after reading the novel yet actionable ideas and strategies I outline here.

1.     Manage spring cleaning with a workable goal.

It’s desirable all rooms and corners of your house spotless, but it’s not a must. So, setting a priority (e.g., the kitchen or bedroom) can be very workable, especially when time is not on your side. Furthermore, your goal is more achievable when you make spring cleaning a family function. A bonus is that working together as a family helps foster responsibility for kids. It’s of course important to do chemical-free cleaning (e.g., e-cloths, baking soda, and vinegar) if you can.

2.     Clean out junk foods to optimize your heart health and for cancer prevention.

Go to your refrigerator and your pantry and you will likely find foods or drinks containing some cancer-causing ingredients such as:

  • Trans fat: it increases your bad cholesterol (LDL) and at the same time lowers your good cholesterol (HDL). Therefore, it is not only a double whammy on your heart, but also a fireball for inflammatory diseases such as cancer.
  • Sweeteners: commonly used aspartame causes various illnesses from birth defects to cancer.
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or refined sugar: cancer cells have sweet teeth!
  • Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs): both GMOs and the chemicals used to grow them have been shown to promote tumor growth.
  • Processed meats: they contain cancer-promoting agents like sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate.
  • Canned food containing BPA.

3.     Clean mental clutter to lower stress and enhance immunity.

  • Get rid of stress.
  • Get rid of negative thoughts, worries, and self-doubts.
  • Take a yoga class, a bath, or a walk; treat yourself to a massage or go out for lunch or dinner with a friend; whatever works best as a stress reliever for you, just do it.

4.     Clean your mouth to reduce oral cancer risk.

  •  Quit smoking.
  •  Avoid alcohol.
  •  Make a daily habit of brushing and flossing your teeth.
  •  Schedule a dental cleaning and oral cancer screening.

5.     Clean the fat in your body to gain long-term health.

Obesity is a risk factor for certain cancers, in addition to increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. So, by promoting fat breakdown, you may compensate certain aspects of obesity that cause diabetes. Certainly, you cannot gain a healthy weight overnight, but you do have options to modify your diet and lifestyle starting with cleaning out junk foods and taking actions such as:

  • Stay away from high-fat and high-sugar foods.
  • Start or continue a balanced diet rich in fresh veggies, fruits, proteins, and fiber.
  • Burn some fat by exercising and being more physically active.
  • Drink more water or tea instead of sugar- or sweetener-rich drinks.

6.     Clean the air to remove pollutants that cause cancer and allergies.

  • Check for and remove asbestos, a lung cancer-causing agent.
  • Test for radon level while increasing ventilation in your house. Radon is a radioactive but colorless, odorless gas.
  • Install an air freshener, which is a great aid to cleaning indoor pollutants.

7.     How about “digital cleaning”?

In this digital age, our lives are influenced by digital devices in many ways. “Digital hazards” can affect your health more than you may realize. You can help detox yourself from them simply by doing the following:

  • Clean your inbox. This can be a jump start of a “digital detox.” Eliminate all junk mail, and if possible stop those pesky unwanted emails from arriving in the first place. Delete old and useless email, and organize your inbox in more efficient ways.
  • Clean out all electronic wastes, such as old cell phones or other electronic devices, and take them to a safe disposal location designated by your local government. Donate your old computer to a cause if it’s still functional.
  • Clean viruses, spyware, and malware that may be in your computer. Backup your files and organize your passwords – whatever you do to make your computer run faster and less vulnerable to cyber threats, it will make your stress level lower and your life easier.
  • Keep your bedroom free of iPads, iPhones, and other digital devices as much as you can, because they are hazards to your snoozing, and consequently your health.

Of course, you can do more beyond these lists, but you get the idea.

I hope these strategies provide valuable insight into some small, easy, and quick steps you can take towards lowering your cancer risk. Spring or anytime cleaning of the areas outlined here can be a great strategy for cancer prevention and other health benefits.

 

Image credit: by Pexels

Make the Most of Your Sleep: For All Your Health, Including Cancer Prevention

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

alarm-bell-clock-338-524x350Here’s a troubling statistic: An estimated 60 million US adults have sleep disorder, making insufficient sleep an increasing public health issue.

How about you? Do you sleep too little or too much? Do you toss and turn at night?

Even if your answer to one of these questions is Yes, you may, like many people, consider trouble sleeping at night to be No Big Deal.

But that’s far from true. And that’s why today, we focus on how sleep can have a significant impact on keeping cancer at bay.

Let’s look at some facts:

  1. Both too little sleep and too much sleep are associated with higher mortality from all-cause illnesses.
  2. Working night shifts with long exposure to light at night disrupts circadian rhythms and has been found to contribute to an increased breast cancer risk.
  3. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA, often indicated by heavy snoring) is a condition in which the human body is temporarily deprived of an adequate oxygen supply to the blood.  Recent studies show that patients with OSA have a higher prevalence of cancer and cancer-related death than those without OSA, suggesting that OSA promotes cancer development and progression.
  4. One publication (by Matthews’ group, 2014) reported that people living a sedentary lifestyle (sleeping less than 7 hours/day, with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity less than 1 hour/week, viewing television more than 3 hours/day, and with a BMI greater than 25) had significantly higher all-cause cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality.
  5. Individuals with a sleeping disorder are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as depression, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
  6. Sleep disturbance is among the top 10 key health issues in menopausal women.
  7. Sleep disturbance and/or sleep deprivation can critically harm your health based on a reciprocal link between sleep and inflammatory biology. Sleep disorders can negatively affect your immune functioning, including antiviral responses and proinflammatory responses.

In sum, accumulating evidence has demonstrated that getting adequate sleep has a significant positive influence on your health, including preventing development of certain cancers.

If you have trouble sleeping, it’s best to seek professional advice to help determine whether it is due to a psychological or a pathophysiological issue. Adequate duration and good quality of sleep absolutely go a long way toward securing your optimal health, a lowered cancer risk, and an increase in your quality of life and productivity.

In brief, sleep is very important and valuable for your health; so, make the most of it!

Image credit: by Pexels

The Best Way to Prevent Colon Cancer: Know Your Risk First

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Colon cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Fortunately, it cancer is preventable especially by living a healthy lifestyle.

What can you do to prevent colon cancer?

There could be overwhelmed information and many things you can do for colon cancer prevention. However, one sure-fire step is to know risk factors of colon cancer. For those who are unaware of what risks are, let’s go through it.

1.     Age

Colorectal cancer risk increases after age 50. As you get older, your risk of colorectal cancer gets higher. More than 90% of this disease are diagnosed after age 50.

Colon cancer n polyp_MedincineNet2.     Colon polyps

Polyps are small growth in the colon or rectum. Most of them are not cancerous, but some can become cancer and they are commonly seen in people over age 50.The risk of colorectal cancer increases with the presence of polyps. Some polyps are inherited such as seen in familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), which can measurably increase colorectal cancer risk.

That is why early detection by colon cancer screening is vitally important. A colonoscopy remains the gold standard for screening, because it provides the best view of your entire colon and cancerous polyp(s) can be removed during the procedure.

3.     Family or personal history of cancer

Having biologically close relatives (parents, brothers, sisters, or children) with colon cancer doubles your risk of colon cancer. Previous personal history of cancer or any inflammatory bowel disease increases your risk of colorectal cancer too.

 4.     Obesity

Obesity has been linked to a higher risk of certain cancers including colorectal cancer.

5.     Physical inactivity

Sedentary behavior or lifestyle has been linked to diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. It can also increase the risk of several cancers including colorectal cancer. So, you may want to examine your TV viewing time, internet surfing time, recreational and/or occupational sitting time, and might be surprised by your total sitting time!

6.     Imbalanced gut bacteria

Growing evidence has pointed to how bacteria may influence the risk for cancer. Millions of microbes in your gut interact with your immune system, some are beneficial, but some are harmful. Experts believe that when bad bacteria overruns your digestive system, you might suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases, and may also be at a higher risk for colorectal cancer, because bad bacteria generate waste products that harm colon tissues and make them more vulnerable to malignancies.

 7.     Tobacco smoking

Cigarette smoking has been linked to a higher risk for several types of cancer; colon cancer is among them.

8.     Heavy alcohol consumption

Colorectal cancer has been linked to heavy intake of alcohol. The fact is that heavy alcohol users tend to have low levels of folic acid in their bodies. Most studies in humans indicate a clear link between colorectal cancer development and inadequate folate consumption. Furthermore, research has shown that folate deficiency increases DNA damage by decreasing the expression of two genes involved in DNA repair.

9.     Diet low in fiber but high in red meats

Surely, it is not clear how much diet might contribute to an increased risk of colon cancer. However, a diet that is high in red meats (e.g. beef, pork, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (such as hot dogs) can increase colorectal cancer risk. Again, a balanced, fiber-rich diet with a lot of vegetables can protect your colon from cancer.

Furthermore, if you are at age of 50+, you can assess your colorectal cancer risk using this interactive tool provided by NCI.

One more point, please be aware that some of these risks are potentially enhanced in modern society. For examples, TV watching is often associated with drinking sweetened beverages and eating junk foods. Sitting in your car during the long commute frequently comes with stress. Overall, these risk factors have a detrimental impact on colon cancer development.

So, what is the next? Take action, be proactive to optimize your colon health, and stop colon cancer NOW!

Image credits: By http://www.medicinenet.com

A Message from World Cancer Day 2015

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Does the word “cancer” scare you? Sure, it scares almost all of us.

Then the question is – Are you determined to do something every day to stay away from that “big C”?

environment-concept-1024966-mThis year’s World Cancer Day has focused on the fight against cancer with a positive and proactive approach to patient treatment and care. It also stresses that meeting challenge of prevention is not beyond our control. One of important approaches outlined is to promote an enabling environment for healthy living in our communities. Let me expand it a little more.

Raising awareness of healthy environment at home, work and communities at large is paramount. Harmful chemicals post a serious, sometimes lethal, threat to public health. Among them, some are known carcinogens to humans, others are tumor enhancers that are originated from the use of tobacco, alcohol and effects of food components as factors to promote cancers. Needless to say, many of them contribute to chronic illnesses such as heart problems, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease.

Keep in mind, these carcinogens and toxins are hidden, heavily-loaded, and unpleasantly surprised to many folks. Just take a quick tour around your home, you’ll have an inventory on the spot.

-   Household products from cleaners, drain openers, air fresheners to paints and art supplies

-   Personal care products such as body wash, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorants, and cosmetics

-   Food (fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and fish) containing toxic pesticides, herbicides and preservatives

There could be more…

Toxic environmental agents play a role in developing cancers and devastating millions of lives. In addition, the negative consequence could have an impact on our next generations. Without doubt, public health perspective is logical and scientific. However, there are obstacles such as convenience, economic or profit interests, and sometimes politics.

Preventable exposure to toxins is a key to fighting cancer. That’s why we should do our parts to remove those “scaring carcinogens or toxins” from our food, water, and air. We should take small steps every day to avoid or minimize any harmful exposure, whenever and wherever possible. Eventually, we can reduce the risk of cancers that are preventable and are associated with hazardous environmental chemicals.

Let “Green” environment beautify the world!

 

Image credit: by spekulator

Resolve to Get Healthier and Happier

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

2015 HappyHealthy_CPDWe all love a fresh start in the new year, right? It’s time to expect great things and to make various refreshing resolutions. So, let’s jumpstart the 2015 with some New Year’s Resolutions for Health.

What’s your top health resolution? Lose weight? Get in shape? Eat healthier? Whatever health challenge you face, whatever fitness goal you set, this year can be your year and your victory!

Unfortunately, it’s also easy to fall down the slippery slope with your New Year’s Resolutions, which happens to many by the middle of February and is often referred to as “falling off the wagon.” One of the primary reasons for this is that many people set unrealistic goals without including specific and attainable actions within a time frame. So, I’m here to help you stay on the wagon throughout the year with a lighthearted yet fully conscious approach.

Here are some suggestions that you can start with and then develop into whatever works best for you.

1.      Stick to a fitness routine. Sounds boring? Well, keeping healthy doesn’t have to be boring. Find a way to set a fixed time, implement a novel technique, alternate your regimens, or create some new motivations. But by all means, keep things interesting!

2.      Try something new. That’s always fun! Take up a new sport, start a new habit, or read a new book on health. Engaging in volunteer work is one way you can keep physically active.

3.      Say YES to kale. And certainly, you can also say YES to other green leafy vegetables. As for kale, it’s rich in health-promoting compounds; it’s also an anti-cancer agent because it can protect DNA from damage by free radicals. Personally, I’ve made this resolution and have already had a couple of dinners with kale this new year.

4.      Give a second thought to genetically modified (GMO) foods and fast food. These foods are characterized by too much salt, refined sugars, and saturated fat. They damage your heart, kidney, other organs, and immune system. Impaired immune function means a weakened natural defense against cancer. More dangerously, any poor dietary choices are encoded into our gut, our genes, and passed on to our offspring.

5.      Reduce stress by practicing a screen-smart solution (i.e., a “Digital Detox”). We are in an age when internet addiction is a real and serious problem, and it affects the health and social connections of many people, especially kids. Things you can do to reduce stress include – but are not limited to – not bringing your cell phone to your bedroom or having your iPad next to your pillow. You can also reduce email checking, as well as Facebook and Twitter time. By spending smart-screen time, you can make more time for your family.

6.      Get a health screen and/or cancer screen. Check your critical numbers and be aware of your body. For example, know your blood sugar level to prevent diabetes. If you’re over 50, get a cancer screen to detect any pre-cancerous growth early.

7.      Give yourself a pat on the shoulder, a treat, or a high-five as a reward.

It’s important to remember: Look up, look forward and move on, but don’t look back and look down. Resolve to get healthier and happier. You can do it!

 

Image credit: partial contribution by ba1969

How to Enjoy a Happy and Stress-proof Holiday Season

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Stress_is-it-friday-yet-704781-mHoliday Season is approaching! Are you excited or stressed out? The primary cancer risk factors during holidays are stress and unhealthy diet. We have covered the diet factor in a number of previous blogs, and let’s focus on coping stress here.

Holiday realities

The holidays are both a wonderful and stressful time of the year. Besides the usual work load and family commitments, we have new functions or activities, as we rush around trying to meet looming deadlines. Parties and social events, holiday shopping, decorating, trips, holiday meals, going to the new movie releases, entertaining the guests, … see how much we try to cram into the festive season! It gives me a headache just naming all the things.

The key danger of stress

Now imagine doing all that. It’s certainly a recipe for stress. Holiday stress normally falls into categories of financial, physical, psychological/emotional drains. Stress has a negative effect on your health. This is not just a theory. Many studies have found key mechanistic evidence at the cellular level. Chronic stress and/or depression can increase the body production of cytokines, that is, immune-modulating substances. One of them is called interleukin-6 (IL-6). High serum levels of IL-6 have been linked to risks for several adverse conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, mental health complications, and some cancers.

The relationship between stress and cancer is complex. Many factors may come into play. However, research has demonstrated that stress factors (e.g., the death of a spouse, divorce, social isolation, and medical school examinations) alter some white blood cell functions and promote immune dysfunction.

Additionally, many people who are stressed end up eating, drinking and smoking more but exercising and sleeping less, which would certainly worsen negative consequences for our health. Taken together, stress reduction is of importance for many health reasons.

Anti-stress-1-183748-mWin control over stress with top 8 effective tips:

Since mental stress can translate into negative physical changes in the body, this year I challenge you to have a stress-proof holiday season, and let the joyful spirit of the season boost your immune system! Here is how you achieve that.

1.      Plan ahead based on PBS. The keywords are Prioritize, Be realistic, and Simplify (PBS).

2.      Take it easy. Make the holidays enjoyable rather than perfect. If a card cannot get to its destiny on time, give the person a surprise call on that holiday morning! If you don’t feel like cooking or baking, buy some packaged prepared meals as an alternative, or go without one or two “traditions”. Instead of spending hours in the malls or sitting in the traffic, shop online for gifts to save time and get good deals.

3.      Tap the resources within your family, from neighbors and friends. Do what you enjoy, and make it fun for everyone. If you love decorating trees but hate shopping or dishwashing, trade chores within the family, so everyone picks up their favorite task.

4.      Create a budget within your means to avoid “New Year Depression” on debt. Folk wisdom tells us to shop ahead of time for bargains. However, we all can be creative and spend less, believe it or not. If your budget doesn’t allow you to buy expensive gifts, buy a small one. Everyone appreciates a gift regardless of its size. If it’s too costly to attend a fancy party, organize a new, fun activity to celebrate at home or go to a movie.

5.      Listen to your body and take care of it. If you are tired, acknowledge it; if you need a treat or massage, get it; and if exercises or physical activities make you feel good, go for it.  Also, be sure to get enough sleep.

6.      Practice stress-relieving techniques, particularly those that work for you. Breathe deeply, meditate freely, visualize a peaceful scene, or listen to soothing music. Enjoy some quiet time or “down” time for yourself, especially when you feel over-stressed or under uncomfortable conditions. Caution! Just because the letters in desserts can be used to spell stressed, it doesn’t mean you need to relieve stress with desserts. Avoid over-eating, particularly high sugar and/or high calorie foods.

7.      Laugh, laugh, and laugh! Laughter is an effective medicine.

8.     The holiday season is a time of Family, Friends and Fun! This is perhaps the most important tip of all! Connecting with others for laughter or fun, and love is the best stress-reliever as well as the most effective immune-booster. Please remember, for some, this is a time of loneliness and depression. Invite them to your home; show kindness to them. If you are alone during the holidays, reaching out to help others can benefit your own physical and psychological well-being.

If you like this post, please share it.  Sharing is caring and giving.

Image credit: by brainloc and Allyson

Health: It’s What We Are Most Grateful for Though Often Taken for Granted

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Gratitud for Health_CPDThe annual holiday season is approaching us. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, despite all there is to do to prepare for family festive activities. Yet many people stress out during the holiday season because they focus on what they don’t have or negativities.

But it is much wiser to be thankful.

Have you pondered for a few minutes what you are most grateful for?

I am grateful for many things in my life. One very important thing is my health. Without it, I don’t know if I would enjoy much of anything, even my time with my family and my energy for helping others. Here I share several ways I’m grateful for my health.

I’m grateful for each breath because it’s a gift of life.

I’m grateful for the oxygen I inhale because it’s a feeder/supporter of life.

I’m grateful for the carbon dioxide I exhale because it takes with it anxiety, frustration, and negativity.

I’m grateful for each step I take and each move I make because they are signs of my physical vitality.

I’m grateful for my heart and immune functions because they fight off illnesses from cold or flu to heart disease and cancer.

I’m grateful for my normal aging because I gain more wisdom over the years.

I’m grateful for my laughter because the sound helps lighten stress and bring bliss

I’m also grateful for being able to feel pain because pain could be my body’s alarm about a health concern, as well as an experience shared with many who are suffering.

The list can go on and on…

In reality, feeling and expressing gratitude can foster your happiness and boost your health. So, let your heart and days be filled with the spirit of the season—joy, peace, love, giving, harmony, and gratitude.

Let us spread the spirit of the Holidays!