Category Archives: Holiday Health

Top Five Sharing Tips for Holidays 2015

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Holiday Greeting w-Label_Hui 2015Holiday time can be both joyful and overwhelmingly stressful. What is on your mind? Consider the following TOP FIVE thoughts and tips:

1. Gratitude It’s the best attitude!

Gratitude implies both the thankfulness to others for their aids in any way and a conscious, habitual focus on all positive aspects of life. Many Americans are stressed over traveling, gift shopping, cooking, disappointing (for various reasons) and debt. Counting blessings has a proven favorable effect on the human well-being.

2. Family and friends – Bonus is Fit!

Forget about work, stress, and any negative feelings, let your heart and spirit go with those of your family and friends, enjoy love, laughter, happy memories and fun time. One of the big challenges is health. Unhealthy diet and large portions of food, time on the couch, drinks and comprised sleep can all add up to a toll on your weight gain. Finding a way to move or boost your physical activities is very beneficial. For those weight-loss enthusiasts, how about losing 1-2 pounds over the holidays instead of gaining more?

3. Cancer care family

Individuals who are diagnosed, suffering or survived cancer, and those who want to fight or prevent cancer are all in one family. If you are a cancer patient or a cancer survivor, take it easy and enjoy simple pleasures or people around you. If someone close to you has cancer or you are a caregiver, take care of yourself and delegate more. If you have lost a loved one, the holidays can be understandably more difficult. Feel free to express your emotions and work through grief slowly. Remember, you’re not fighting cancer alone and you don’t have to cope with your loss alone either. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

4. Time for yourself

This should genuinely apply to everybody. Loving what you do is a blessing, whether it is your career or your pleasure or leisure. So, make sure to set aside some quiet or alone time for yourself, relax, recharge and re-energize or renew yourself.

5.  Heartfelt thanks for our military and their families.

Remember our military soldiers and families as well as veterans for their sacrifice to protect our country and our safety. While it’s understandable that Americans get concerned and anxious over national security, let’s transform fear and restlessness to gratitude and goodness by showing appreciation and helping them in any way we can. We can also contribute to peace and help end all forms of suffering of mankind.

Best wishes for a warm, wonderful Holiday Season & a healthier, happier 2016!

Wellness & Fun Tips for End of the Summer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

kids-chase-a-bubble-at-a-family-picnic-397582-mLabor Day can really make you feel like the end of the summer. As you know, after this weekend various popular summertime attractions will close, including pools. For some people, summer is a relaxing break from work and a happy time with their families. For others, they may have struggled with hectic schedules and unusual stressful workloads.

From a health and wellness perspective, how can you take advantage of Labor Day weekend to relax, renew and recharge? I’ll offer these cancer prevention strategies and tips as a farewell to summer:

  1. Go to book or music festivals, food and wine festivals, as well as an outdoor event in town. It can relax your mind, foster your joy, and promote your fitness as you walk and move around.
  2. Enjoy healthy meals and family picnics. This is the time when you can pack some antioxidant-rich foods, try out some healthy recipes, cook and share delicious food with your family and friends.
  3. Have a fun for fitness. Have you heard anything like Family Backyard Triathlon? What a creative idea and a marvelous way to get everyone move more! Certainly, you can do it at a local park too. Whether it’s a jump rope, push-ups, run or holding a yoga pose, these challenges are more beneficial than TV and internet times. Also pleasurable are team sports.
  4. Head for the beach or lake. In addition to those on the road trip already, if you live nearby the beach, there is always something for everybody, for a family fun activity. Yet again, be mindful for sun safe and sun protection.
  5. Practice your well-deserved stress-relieve treatment. This long weekend is a great opportunity to de-stress, hence to strengthen your immune function. Enjoy a peaceful time for yourself, a treat, a walk, or anyway that works for you.

Whatever you do, wish you the most happy, healthy, and adventurous Labor Day Holiday ever!


Image credit: by hortongrou

Coping with the Holiday Stress

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Family-unity_istock-photo-17507571Here we are in this festive Holiday Season full of beauty, joy, love, and cheer. But do you know that medical research shows that one of the clinical triggers for heart attack is holidays like Christmas and New Year’s day? Evidence also indicates that stress management can reduce the risk.

Holiday stress can come in various forms and levels, and from a wide range of activities, including gift shopping, cooking or baking, entertaining, partying, and traveling. Today, I’ll provide 30 strategies that can help you cope with stress during the Holidays and into the New Year.

First, understand stress versus your needs

Stress is a fact of life, even during the Holidays. It occurs when things seem to be going wrong or there’s too much to do and not enough time. One basic way to deal with things when you feel overwhelmed and stressed out is to set priorities and put things in perspective. Keep these points in mind this Holiday season:

  • Materials or gifts might bring you a moment of sensation or joy, but cannot fulfill your inner happiness.
  • Meeting outside social obligations and expectations might seem important, but it can’t replace time for family, friends, and fun.
  • Adjust your standards and any unrealistic desires so as to find happiness or contentment through satisfactory alternatives. Refocus on the “haves” instead of the “have-nots.”

Here are 30 easy ways to reduce holiday stress and change your mood:

  1. Have a dinner with your friend(s).
  2. Go for a long walk on a new route.
  3. Delegate family duties, such as cleaning or baking, to make it a teamwork time.
  4. Give yourself a time-out period. Just take a break.
  5. Go on a tour to see Christmas lighting decorations.
  6. Buy yourself a treat. It could be flowers, a delicious dinner, or whatever makes you feel special.
  7. Take a hot bath.
  8. Laugh, laugh, and laugh! You can easily find reasons to laugh and lighten up by going out to a bookstore and locating a humorous book, finding humorous pages online, or watching a funny video. Or, you can just laugh for no reason other than it makes you feel good.
  9. Watch an inspirational movie.
  10. Meditate.
  11. Start a gratitude journal.
  12. Take a yoga class. It surely reduces stress.
  13. Listen to music and dance with the beat. “Dance like nobody is watching.”
  14. Get a massage or spa treatment, a manicure or a pedicure, whatever you prefer.
  15. Breathe deeper, taking long, slow, deep breaths.
  16. Write a letter to an old friend.
  17. Call up an old friend out of blue to catch up or tell a joke.
  18. Read a magazine.
  19. Take a trip down memory lane by looking through those old photos.
  20. Try a new fitness movement or a new class at the gym.
  21. Go for a bike ride (by yourself or with your family).
  22. Work in your garden, decorate with a signature plant.
  23. Re-arrange your surroundings (a room or the office) and keep it clutter free.
  24. Go shopping or window-shopping to see what’s new in the marketplace.
  25. Visit a pet store or maybe buy a new pet for yourself.
  26. Create or try a new recipe.
  27. Volunteer to help a neighbor, a friend, or your community.
  28. Take a nap
  29. Have a good night’s sleep.
  30. Go outside and gaze at the sky or stars at night.

And one more for good measure: Learn to say NO. Don’t let “Yes” and “Yes” overwhelm you. Trust that people around you, at home or work, will understand when you say “No” once a while.

Choose whatever works best for you out of these de-stressing techniques. Think up your own additions to the list. Finally, remember these important “3Fs”:

The Holiday Season is a time for Family, Friends and Fun.

 Have a wonderful and safe Holiday!


Image credit: iStock

10 Joyful Moves to Boost Your Physical Activity during This Holiday Season

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Skating people_3203723978_6ae227e970_nIt’s the holiday season. We all tend to eat a lot and watch TV a lot, especially for football fans or other sports fans. To avoid physical inactivity, and consequently weight gain, here are 10 practical moves that benefit a healthy lifestyle and cancer prevention:

  1. Take a family walk, whether it is long or just around the blocks, or add extra walking by parking a little further from the stores or malls.
  2. Stretch frequently or move during TV time, or walk up and down the stairs as often as you can.
  3. Play a game with kids. It’s absolutely fun and invigorating!
  4. Dance at parties.
  5. Practice yoga together as a family activity. It’s fun and everyone can do it. Your body can tell you what’s the best or the most natural position. Inhale to breathe in joy, happiness and peace, then exhale to breathe out stress, hassles and worries.
  6. Go to a gym or local recreation center to engage in any physical activity.
  7. Go ice skating outdoors or indoors.
  8. Bike, if possible.
  9. Visit a museum, walk more.
  10. Keep up your daily exercise routine. Yes, it’s a challenge during the holidays, and my husband sets the best example!

Still feel less interested or less motivated? One secret – connect your activity with something greater than yourself. It could be for getting healthier to see the grandkids’ graduation, or being happier around the family, or more energetic to help others, etc. you get the idea.
Photo credit: By Let Ideas Compete

Smart Sweet Potatoes

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Let’s have a conversation on one of traditional Thanksgiving side dishes – Sweet potatoes

Grilled Swt Potato n Kale_7414329644_4d594e8b09_tFirst, why do I call it “smart”? It’s a cancer-prevention-wise vegetable, period. Here are top 3 benefits of sweet potatoes:

  1. Rich in beta-carotene, a cancer-preventative antioxidant: Sweet potatoes also contain polyphenol antioxidants. Antioxidants can eliminate cancer-causing free radicals and protect our cells from damage.
  2. Rich in fibers: Fibers stimulate intestinal movements and reduce toxin retention for colon cancer prevention.
  3. Good sources of carbohydrates and micronutrients, so they are immune-boosting.

Next, how about we share some healthy cooking and side dishes? Here are some tips:

-  Instead of deep-frying, bake sweet potato fries.

-  Instead of canned yam, roast sweet potato and turnip cubes – sprinkled with dill (or parsley); or grill sweet potato slices/chunks mixed with green onions.

-  Instead of having sugar- and fat-rich desserts, bake a sweet potato cake with cranberries and walnuts (or pecans, whatever desirable) – taking advantage of its natural sweetness, which can also be served as a side dish.

As an alternative to the well-known mashed sweet potatoes, there are a variety of recipes out there, such as:

  • Cinnamon sweet potatoes with vanilla
  • Garlic-thyme sweet potato rounds
  • Apple cider glazed sweet potatoes
  • Grilled sweet potato with wilted kale salad (as photo shown)

Just by mentioning a few, it makes me mouthwatering… Need more sweet potato recipes? Check Better Home & Garden or

Finally, we all look forward to Thanksgiving dinner, should we consider –

  1. Easy and stress-free preparations
  2. Healthy food, yet tasty, delicious, and gorgeous looking (if possible)
  3. Important – Memorable time?


Photo credit: By Tasty Yummies

Let the Season Joys Boost Your Immune System, Not Stress Ruin Your Happiness

Holiday Season is approaching! Are you excited? Or stressed out? The primary cancer risk factors during holidays are diet and stress. We covered the diet factor in our Newsletter December issue, and focus on coping stress here.

Holiday realities

The holidays are both a wonderful and stressful time of the year. Besides the usual work loads and family commitments, we have new functions, 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 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. Taken together, stress reduction is of importance for many health reasons.

Win control over stress with top 8 effective tips:

Since stress can translate into negative changes in the body, this year I challenge you to have the least holiday stress ever, and let the joyful spirit of the season boost your immune system! I’m here to help you achieve that.

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

And perhaps the most important tip of all is:


8. The holiday season is a time of Family, Friends and Fun! Connecting with others for laughter and love is the best stress-reliever and most effective immune-booster. And 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.

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Photo Credits: By dtweney; By Just a Temporary Measure