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Photo: Evgenij Yulkin

If you think you’re the only woman who has ever let burnout take a toll on her marriage, I’m here to tell you this: There’s no way that’s the case. The decline in marital happiness can creep up on you so slowly that you almost don’t see it…until you do.

It begins when you start to focus more on your kids than your spouse. You start to forget to say goodbye in the morning when you leave the house, or hello when you return at the end of the day—though you’ve always got a hug and a kiss for the children. Your arguments become focused entirely on the kids—either your husband isn’t doing enough in caring for them or what he tries is always wrong.

And then there’s the fact that you haven’t had sex in weeks (OK, months) because you don’t have time or the desire for sex. You are exhausted, and this exhaustion is one that comes from trying to be the best, to be perfect, to be “super mom” in a world that demands it. The exhaustion leaks into almost every aspect of your marriage to the point where emotional and sexual intimacy is something of the past.

When I see couples in my private practice, all types of parents report this. They say that they are also tired and feel unappreciated and often criticized. The men will usually tell their stories this way; “I used to try all the time, but nothing seemed to make her happy, so I started giving up. The only thing she seems to care about is the kids, so I figure this is our new normal.”

It is no secret that both men and women are experiencing stress at very high rates, with women reporting slightly higher levels of stress than men. Consistently over time, we see gender differences in not only what stresses us out but what helps relieve that stress. Here is a quick reference guide to stress management techniques that work for women and men.

Move.

Women do well when they move. This means brisk, regular activity that you find joyful. This can be a walk in the park, a dance class, or kickboxing. Whatever it is, it should make you smile, not fill you with dread. What is most important is that you do it consistently, because just 20 minutes a day has real stress-relieving health benefits.

Reach out to a friend.

What women tend to do in their marriages is rely on their husbands to be their best (girl) friend. And while certainly he may be your best friend, he isn’t your best female friend. His attention span may be shorter, his empathy lower, and his tendency to want to solve your every perceived problem annoys you. So be sure you lean on your female friends for the emotional support that only your best friend can give you.

Nourish yourself with healthy foods.

You know you don’t feel great when you’re picking off your kids’ plates or eating the leftovers from breakfast or lunch. When you are stressed out, you tend to eat on the go, which only makes you feel physically and emotionally sluggish. So when you are feeling too tense, take that extra minute to eat a whole meal or grab something nutritious for your busy day. Your ability to handle stress when well-fed and hydrated is far better, just like your kids do better when they are well-fed and hydrated.

Do something productive.

While women like to talk things out, men generally like to do something productive while under stress. Men, consider this your permission slip to take on a project, work out, or fix a few things around the house. This is a great way to channel stress energy.

Focus on your friendships.

Men have fewer friends in married adulthood than their wives, and they are getting increasingly lonelier. Men let friendships go when they partner, reporting feeling “fulfilled enough” by their wives. However, just as a husband can’t fill the same void as a female friend, you aren’t his buddy either. Men need friendships outside their marriage.

Get enough sleep.

Studies suggest that men experience less deep, slow waves of sleep than women do and that they generally function worse than women when sleep-deprived. In order to deal with the multiple stresses of the day, men need to protect those valuable hours, even minutes of sleep. Men tend to go to bed later and function by day on coffee, which sets up a smaller reserve of patience and less fuel for creative problem solving when confronted with stress.

Last but not least, together as a couple, you have to find ways to focus on your marriage in order to preserve it. Make sure your bedroom is a sacred space, which means no eating meals there, no working there, no having the whole family sleeping there. Set time aside to speak every day, alone. And talk about something besides the children. Ask each other questions about your feelings, thoughts about your work, or simply how your day went.

Get back to showing basic affection; don’t multitask for just a few minutes while together. Make date nights a regular occurrence as much as you can, and make that time about the two of you. Find something you used to love doing together, even if it is something simple, and go do it again—alone, without your kids. To push the burnout away, you have to reestablish yourselves as a unit, not just in service of the children but as two adults who came together because you loved each other and enjoyed being together enough to create a family.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-avoid-mom-burnout-so-your-marriage-doesnt-suffer?utm_term=pos-5&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180223

Does Anesthesia Cause Memory Problems in Adults?

Credit: Shutterstock

“Going under” for surgery might lead to future memory problems, but any effects appear to be small, a new study suggests.

Middle-age adults who underwent surgery using general anesthesia performed slightly worse on memory tests afterward, according to the study, published today (Feb. 22) in the journal Anaesthesia. The people in the study had no signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or even mild cognitive impairment, before the surgery.

However, though the changes were noticeable for researchers, “the cognitive changes after surgery are small — most probably asymptomatic and beneath a person’s awareness,” study author Dr. Kirk Hogan, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, said in a statement.

The study analyzed participants from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP), in which middle-age people underwent a battery of psychological and cognitive tests over several points in time. The average age of people in the WRAP was 54 years old.

The researchers identified 312 people in this group who had had one or more surgeries using general anesthesia and compared them with 652 participants who had not. (The team excluded those who had neurological or heart surgery, both of which can affect cognitive performance). All of the participants had normal cognitive functioning at the start of the study.

On average, those who went under general anesthesia had small declines in their immediate memory over four years, compared with those who did not have. In addition, people who spent more time under general anesthesia (for longer surgeries) showed greater declines in executive functioning, which includes skills such as planning and focusing. However, these changes were small — for instance, those who had surgery had a one-point drop in immediate memory, out of a possible 30 points.

“The evidence is increasing, albeit indirect, that there is, at the time of surgery, a combination of factors that lead to a reduction in cognitive performance,” said Dr. Beverley Orser, a professor of physiology and anesthesia at the University of Toronto, who was not involved in the study.

Still, the study can’t directly tie memory declines to anesthesia; the underlying condition, other aspects of surgery, or other unknown factors could also be responsible for those declines, Orser told Live Science.

For instance, when someone breaks a leg, their body releases inflammatory chemicals, such as cytokines, which then travel to the brain and worsen its performance, Orser said. So, if that person has cognitive declines after surgery, is it the surgery, the anesthesia or the original injury that’s to blame, Orser asked.

Other studies tying anesthesia and surgery to memory problems have found conflicting results. For instance, a 2016 study in the journal Anesthesia found significant post-surgery declines in cognitive function in older adults, especially if they started out with cognitive impairment. And a study published Feb. 19 in the journal JAMA Neurology found high levels of chemical markers of brain cell damage in patients who had surgery under anesthesia. However, not all studies find a link between anesthesia and cognition. For instance, a study of more than 8,000 elderly and middle-age twins found a negligible difference in cognition if one twin had surgery.

Source: https://www.livescience.com/61830-anesthesia-may-affect-memory.html

 

doctor examining pregnant woman

 There’s some good news for expecting moms who are trying to weather a brutal flu season — a new study shows that getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy causes no harm to newborns.

Researchers reviewed records on more than 400,000 infants born between 2004 and 2014, and found no increased risk of infant hospitalization or death following maternal inoculation during pregnancy with either the flu vaccine or Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis, or whooping cough) vaccine.

The study provides the longest-term look at the vaccines’ effect on newborn health, with the babies followed out to 6 months of life, said study author Dr. Lakshmi Sukumaran, a pediatric infectious disease researcher with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We didn’t expect to find any increased risk in these infants,” Sukumaran said. “We wanted to do this study because pregnant women are especially concerned about how any exposures during pregnancy could negatively impact their children.

“We wanted to provide reassurance that these vaccines, which are recommended for every woman during pregnancy, aren’t creating a risk for the baby,” she added.

A flu shot is recommended for every person older than 6 months in the United States, even though the CDC reported on Thursday that this year’s vaccine is only 25 percent effective against H3N2 influenza, the cause of most illness so far this season.

That recommendation holds, the CDC says, because the vaccine is more effective against the three other major strains of flu virus, potentially preventing a second round of flu caused by another strain. Every flu shot a person receives also adds to their long-term immunity.

Additionally, among children ages 6 months to 8 years old, this year’s vaccine’s effectiveness is 59 percent, the agency reported.

“The flu vaccine is recommended at any point during pregnancy,” Sukumaran said. “It’s not too late to get the vaccine this season.”

Expecting mothers are advised to get the flu shot because their immune system undergoes changes during pregnancy intended to protect the unborn fetus. “These changes also predispose women to an increased severity of influenza during pregnancy,” Sukumaran said.

Pregnant women are five times more likely to die of influenza, and they also are at increased risk of flu complications and hospitalization due to their infection, she said.

The flu shot also helps their baby. The antibodies generated by the mom’s immune response are shared with the fetus, providing it protection during the critical first six months of life, Sukumaran said.

The same goes for the Tdap vaccine. “Most deaths from pertussis are in very, very young babies who aren’t eligible to get the vaccine,” Sukumaran said. “Vaccinating the mom is a way to protect both the mom and her baby.”

To assess the safety of the flu and Tdap vaccines, Sukumaran and her colleagues gathered information from the Vaccine Safety Datalink, a collaboration between the CDC and eight health care systems across the nation.

From the database, the researchers found records on more than 413,000 live births between 2004 and 2014. Of those newborns, 25,222 were hospitalized and 157 died within the first six months of life.

Comparing babies born of vaccinated and unvaccinated moms, the researchers found no association between infant deaths or hospitalizations within the first six months of life and either the influenza or Tdap vaccine.

“Hopefully, the study will help to increase immunization rates of pregnant women as they — and the fetus they are carrying — are at particular risk for severe complications of these vaccine-preventable infections,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“Influenza is particularly concerning as pregnant women are disproportionally at risk for complications that range from pneumonia to miscarriage to death,” Adalja said.

The new study was published online Feb. 19 in the journal Pediatrics.

More information

The Mayo Clinic has more about vaccination during pregnancy.

SOURCES: Lakshmi Sukumaran, M.D., M.P.H., pediatric infectious disease researcher, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Amesh Adalja, M.D., senior scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Baltimore; Feb. 19, 2018, Pediatrics, online

Source: https://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/flu-news-314/flu-shot-during-pregnancy-poses-no-harm-to-baby-731221.html

Photo: BONNINSTUDIO

Whether it’s winter where you live and you’re experiencing dull skin thanks to cold, dry air, or your skin isn’t at its best because you’ve been traveling, your sleep schedule is off, or you simply haven’t been taking care of it—the cause doesn’t matter. What matters is that there’s a pretty simple solution.

Over the years, I’ve done makeup for countless celebrities using mostly nontoxic products. One of their chief complaints is dull skin—which, sure, you could hide it with makeup. But in the long run, it’s better to take care of your skin and let your natural, glowy complexion shine through. The following techniques are tricks of the trade I’ve put to the test and have seen time and time again work wonders for dull, tired skin:

1. Exfoliate dead skin.

One of the first things to do when facing dull skin is employ a gentle exfoliant. If there’s a layer of dead skin, oil, or debris sitting between your skin and your products, it could be slowing their efficacy and dulling your complexion. To treat dull skin, I like REN’s Ready Steady Glow AHA Tonic or True Botanicals’ Resurfacing Moisture Mask (let it sit for three to five minutes—no longer). Juice Beauty’s Stem Cellular Exfoliating Peel spray is a serum in a spray bottle—rub it into the skin and it will ball up all the excess product, dead skin, and other dirt.

If you don’t have one of these products on hand, head to the grocery store and pick up some papaya. Papaya is one of the best fruit acid enzymes that will exfoliate that top layer. Mash up the papaya and put it directly on clean skin for five to 10 minutes. Rinse it off and follow with an organic Greek yogurt mask mixed with Manuka honey, which can be super calming for any redness or breakouts.

2. Use a face balm.

If you can handle a balm on your face, use one! I like Lina Hanson’s Global Treasures Balm, which utilizes matcha as an anti-inflammatory agent. Alba’s Un-Petroleum Balm is a more wallet-friendly option. Even if you can’t tolerate putting it on your whole face and leaving it on all day, you have options. Try putting it on the higher planes of your face in the morning to get a little bit of a glow. Or leave it on for five minutes as a face mask after cleansing and before putting on any makeup for a dewy, hydrated look.

3. Spritz toner before and after your makeup.

If you’re wearing a full face of foundation, especially if it’s powder (see No. 4 below), spritz an alcohol-free toner on your skin before and after you apply the makeup. The trick is to hold the bottle far enough away from the face so that the mist that lands on your skin is fine and even, so as not to disturb your freshly applied (or hours-old) makeup. Make sure you do your research—for this technique, you want a spray bottle that releases a fine mist. It gives you a glow so dewy, it looks like you’re wearing highlighter.

4. Say no to powder.

That being said, if your skin has been looking dull—particularly if it’s dry—just say no to powder. It’s better to forgo your favorite powder than to cake it on rough, dry, or dull skin. This goes for powder eye shadows, too, which can make your lids look dry and crepey.

You can also try a liquid foundation. Vapour Organic Beauty makes a liquid foundation that’s great to wear along the top planes of your face.

5. Try a hydrating highlighter.

You may have seen this trend…basically EVERYWHERE. Here’s the most simple way to try a highlighter. Apply it with your finger or a brush to the cheekbones, eyelids, orbital bones, and the cupids bow for an instant glow.

Kjaer Weis makes a set of three hydrating highlighters that are great for a variety of skin tones. Ilia makes a creamy stick highlighter that’s available in three different tones as well, and for the budget-friendly, Honest Company’s highlighter is a great option you can find at Target.

6. Find “your color” in tinted lip balm.

Find a tinted lip balm color that wakes up your face. One way of doing this is matching a color to the inside of your bottom lip—it will look more defined but still natural. Pro tip: Any lipstick can be made into a tinted lip balm by putting a sheer gloss over tapped lipstick. Often, using a tinted lip balm is better for dull skin, as a dense, highly pigmented lipstick can weigh down the face.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-pep-up-dull-winter-skin?utm_term=pos-2&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180219

Photo: HEX.

As an athlete, being at the top of your game doesn’t only involve hours of practice and dedication to the weight room. There are mental capacities that need honing in order to heighten performance. While being a top-notch sports player is a physical feat, the mental game is just as important. When athletes become more aware of their bodies, they also build inner resilience to handle stress, which unlocks elevated performance levels. In essence, mindfulness training can grow the inner capacities of distress tolerance, present-moment awareness, and acute focus to fuel what athletes seek most—results.

What is mindfulness anyhow? Mindfulness is about cultivating awareness of the present moment, intentionally and without judgment. Although mindfulness originated from Buddhism in the East, we’re now utilizing secular mindfulness in various domains of life here in the West. Studies in neuroscience show that a consistent mindfulness practice grows new neural pathways that support focus and emotional regulation in addition to decreasing matter density in areas of the brain that encode negative emotions, such as the amygdala. In effect, if we make a mistake on the court or field, and our mind is still ruminating in self-judgment about this failure, we’re less present and more likely to repeat mistakes moving forward in the game.

Why the best athletes are mindful—and mindfulness makes the best athletes.

study in the Journal of Health Psychology recently found that athletes who practice mindfulness meditation techniques were more motivated to exercise regularly and were more satisfied with their workouts. This indicates that the more present we are in the moment, the more capacity we have to tap into inner resources such as motivation and satisfaction.

Phil Jackson has become the poster child for implementing mindfulness in athletics. From the Chicago Bulls to the Los Angeles Lakers, he used Zen philosophy and mindfulness approaches to help his teams grow mental strength. He equates this mental training to the physical training his teams also commit to. Phil introduced mindfulness in training camps, and it ultimately became a standardized process for his teams to center and ground themselves. From Phil’s perspective, “Mindfulness is about aligning with who you are and living from an authentic place.” So whether you’re a professional athlete or you simply enjoy sports for stress-release, mindfulness can harness your presence, enjoyment, and ultimately elevate your performance.

Here’s how to infuse your training with mindfulness.

1. Practice pausing.

Perpetual busyness is our modern-day epidemic, and it includes our minds. We have about 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day, and about 70 percent of those thoughts are negative in content. These negative thoughts fuel poor performance in the athletic world, but if we can weave in periods of mental pausing before we walk onto the court or go on a run, we can create space to align with intentions and stay positive. As a mindfulness-based psychotherapist, I work with many athletes who want to achieve some pretty big goals. I encourage them to pause for five to 10 minutes before they engage in competition to breathe, reset, and repeat a positive affirmation. Example? Repeating “I trust in my tremendous ability to step into greatness today. I let go of self-doubt” a few times before competing.

2. Balanced beliefs.

Mindfulness isn’t about having zero thoughts; it’s about cultivating awareness of our thought patterns. If we can begin to excavate entrenched negative beliefs about who we are as an athlete or performer, we can shift our belief system to embrace our true abilities. Psychology Today reported, and other studies suggest, that mental practice can be almost as effective as physical training. Knowing this, you realize it’s important to begin to visualize yourself achieving athletically. Truly feel what it would be like to win that trophy, make that three-point shot at the buzzer to win the game, or cross the finish-line running your best time. When we tap into the feelings that support our goal, we create optimal conditions to make the goal a reality.

3. Bring spirit back into the sport.

When we’re competing, we often lose the meaning of what sports and competition are all about. In a culture of “us versus them,” the power of playing sports is often muddied by the intensity of taking the other guy or team down. But when you align with the friendship, love, and passion of athletics, you bring spirit back into sport. In this moment, mindfulness and joy naturally arise. Before competing, drop into the body using mindful breathing and align with your inner intention connected to this game or race you’re about to dive into. In this place of embodied presence, you ignite the power of performance. Through this power, we elevate our human potential beyond what we thought was possible.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/meditation-and-athletic-performance?utm_term=pos-1&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180218

Photo: Nadine Greeff

Did you know that one-quarter of the bones in your body are in your feet? Our feet are sturdy, reliable, and can handle miles upon miles of supporting the weight of our bodies. But to that end, they are also the most overworked and under-appreciated limb. Often the only time they get to rest at heart level to restore is when we’re sleeping, so making a weekly or monthly ritual of giving them a little extra TLC will not only help your feet feel better, it will provide relief for your entire body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are many meridians that converge in the feet and spending a little time with them with acupressure, self-massage, body oils, and salts help us feel grounded.

Set your timer for 20 minutes (or don’t, if you have more time), put on your favorite relaxing playlist, and get ready for a real treat.

1. Prep.

Light a candle, palo santo stick, or a bundle of sage to smudge—even if it’s during the day, a burning ritual is a wonderful way to set the mood.

Before getting your feet wet, remove any nail polish that may be left over with non-acetone nail polish. After giving the feet a rinse, you have the option to buff your toenails. This is helpful if your nails tend to have ridges but feel free to skip this step if you’re short on time or prefer a more natural look.

2. Soak for five to ten minutes.

Using warm to hot water and your favorite bath salts, run a foot soak. You can do this in your bathtub or, if you don’t have one, a big lobster pot or stew pot works just as well. Epsom salt baths help soothe sore and tired muscles, so adding the salt a good place to start. Feel free to add a few drops of your favorite essential oil—astringent scents like eucalyptus or peppermint can be especially therapeutic. Top it off with an oil like avocado, jojoba, or even olive oil to help the skin stay moisturized.

Sit here for five to 10 minutes soaking it up and letting the salts and oils work on your feet. Put your phone away—this is not a time to answer emails or scroll through Instagram—and pick up a favorite, book, magazine, or your journal instead. Another idea is to use this time as a five to ten minute meditation.

3. Buff the feet and calves with an exfoliating scrub.

Once your soak starts to cool down, take your favorite body scrub and massage it into the feet and calves. If you don’t have a body scrub on hand, you can make one easily with brown sugar and olive oil. Add a 1/2 cup of brown sugar to a bowl, and about a 1/8 cup of olive oil. Stir until the sugar is coated, adding more sugar or oil as needed.

Take your time here—spend at least a full minute per leg sloughing off the dead skin working around the ankles, on the heels, and the balls of the feet where it tends to get a calloused and rough.

4. Moisturize with a muscle-soothing oil or balm.

Rinse off the scrub with warm water and pat it dry with a cotton towel. Then, using a muscle soothing oil or balm, moisturize your foot and bottom leg. Oils containing arnica and astringent, mentholated extracts like peppermint are known for their ability to calm and release sore muscles. Try EiR’s roll-on liniment oil, Weleda’s arnica massage oil, or look for a natural oil in your local health food store that contains arnica. Be sure to get the full calf and foot.

5. Set aside a minute or two for acupressure.

Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbologist, and mbg class instructor Paige Bourassa recommends foot acupressure in routines that help ease lower back pain, can help you sleep by moving stagnant energy, quell PMS symptoms and cramping, dull the pain of headaches, and more. In each of these acupressure sequences, there’s a specific pressure point on the foot that helps facilitate a release.

If you want to get fancy, use a tennis, lacrosse, or trigger point ball underneath the feet once they’re dry to roll out any residual tension.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-give-yourself-a-spa-quality-pedicure?utm_term=pos-1&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180217

Photo: Alexander Grabchilev

The beauty of self-love lies in the ritual, the actual practice of it. And what better time of the year to discover a new self-love ritual than Valentine’s Day? Even if you’re not currently in a romantic relationship, it’s an occasion to celebrate love, fertility, romance, and passion of all sorts. And let’s be honest, a little extra love can do everyone a world of good. Here are a few spiritually infused practices to help you call it in:

1. Be your own love scribe.

Grab a diary, journal, notepad, or even postcard and pen, and allow yourself to write about what love means to you, letting your heart do the talking. By channelling your heart’s desires, you can release old wounds, let go of what no longer serves you, outline what you wish to bring into your life, and even send out well wishes for others. When you are writing about something negative or love that you want to release, use a black pen. If you are writing positive things that you wish to manifest, use a red pen. Burn anything you write in black so it can be banished. Bury anything you write in red so that it can grow and be nourished.

2. Feed your appetite for love.

No, this doesn’t mean seeking out dipped strawberries and Hersey’s kisses. (Although a few squares of dark chocolate never hurt anyone.) I’m talking about choosing to nourish your body with an infusion of self-love. Find a book that lights your heart aglow, watch a feel-good film, or spend time with like-minded souls who you love and adore. Energetically feast on things that nourish you inside and out.

3. Dance with your senses.

Light a few candles, burn rose-scented incense, dim the lights, and allow your senses to be seduced. Or, if you have a bath, throw in a few flower petals or floral essential oils for an indulgent soak.

4. Steep a special tea.

Combine herbs that sing to your heart and senses. Try thyme, which is associated with affection and devotion, calming lavender, or joy-inducing oregano. (This can also make a beautiful gift for someone you know who needs a pinch of extra love in their day.) Don’t just go through the motions of it; be mindful throughout the whole process of making your tea. Use it as an opportunity to think about what you adore about yourself and others in your life. As you sip your brew, imagine that you’re physically drinking love.

5. Bump up any ritual with rose quartz.

A rose quartz crystal can take any ritual up a notch. I personally like to wear a rose quartz close to my heart by wearing it in a necklace. You can also hold one in your hand as you meditate, affirming to yourself, “Here, my heart finds peace.” This is a soothing and sensual ritual that will melt away any matters of the heart.

Self-love shouldn’t be exclusive to Valentine’s. Call upon these rituals whenever you need a dose of positivity. The rules are up to you: Combine them; practice them separately; make them your own. Here’s to some serious love magic.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/self-love-rituals-for-valentines-day?utm_term=pos-9&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180216