Ergonomics: Important to your Work Day & Every day!

According to the US Department of Labor, musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs account for about one-third of all injury and illness costs of U.S. businesses. MSDs are health issues that affect our movement or musculoskeletal system (i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, etc.) In recent years, research has focused on establishing the links between physical activity and health, largely overlooking the important distinction between sitting and physical activity. The opportunities for long term sitting in modern times, such as sitting in a car or sitting at a desk, are unavoidable. Statistics prove the average adult spends 50–70% of their day in seated positions.
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Here are some valuable tips to incorporate ergonomics into your workday:

  • Make sure that the weight of your arms is supported at all times. If your arms are not supported, the muscles of your neck and shoulders will suffer
  • Manage your head position by keeping the weight of your head directly above its base of support (neck). Don’t “crane” your head and neck forward.
  • Slouching puts more pressure on the discs and vertebrae of your back. Use the lumbar support of your chair and use good posture while seated to balance your body weight evenly. Move your chair as close to your work as possible to avoid leaning and reaching.
  • Your computer monitor should be placed directly in front of you, with the top edge of the screen at your eye level. The keyboard should be directly in front of the monitor so you don’t have to frequently turn your head and neck. Because lap top computers do not allow to arrange the keyboard and monitor this way, try to avoid using a lap top for an extended period. Also, be sure to rest your eyes periodically for several seconds by looking away from computer screens to view objects at a distance.
  • Do not crunch a phone between your neck and shoulder! Try to use a headset or speaker phone if need your hands free for other activities while on a call. Repeating the abnormal position of tilting your head toward your should can do permanent damage to your neck as well as creating other uncomfortable issues.
  • Your feet should not be dangling when you are seated. If your feet don’t comfortably reach the floor or there is pressure on the backs of your legs, use a footrest or lower your chair.
  • Stay hydrated and active throughout the day by drinking the daily allowance for your weight in water and taking breaks form long term sitting (and repetitive activities) by doing some ergonomic stretching activities.getty_rf_photo_of_office_workers_doing_stretches_at_night.jpgRemember to stay healthy outside of the office as well by staying active on your time off with continued stretching activities, staying hydrated and enjoying your free time.  Apply more ergonomic tips to your household chores and other activities to keep your body fit!

 

☠⚠️ Toxic Cleaning Supplies: What to Avoid to Stay Safe ⚠️☠

We assume they are safe. But in fact, many popular household cleaners are dangerously toxic. Let’s learn about the scariest substances hiding under your kitchen sink…

Manufacturers argue that in small amounts these toxic ingredients aren’t likely to be a problem, but when we’re exposed to them routinely, and in combinations that haven’t been studied, it’s impossible to accurately gauge the risks. While a few products cause immediate reactions from acute exposure (headaches from fumes, skin burns from accidental contact), different problems arise with repeated contact. Chronic exposure adds to the body’s “toxic burden” — the number of chemicals stored in its tissues at a given time.

The average household contains about 62 toxic chemicals, say environmental experts. We’re exposed to them routinely — from the phthalates in synthetic fragrances to the noxious fumes in oven cleaners. Ingredients in common household products have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity

No one can avoid exposure to toxic chemicals altogether, but it is possible to reduce it significantly. 

Know Your Hazards:

Chlorine bleach is commonly used to treat drinking water, sanitize swimming pools and to whiten laundry, and is a strong eye, skin, and respiratory irritant. Mixing chlorine bleach with other cleaners like ammonia can release dangerous chlorine gas. Exposure to chlorine gas can cause coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, or other symptoms.

Ammonia is often included in glass cleaners and other hard-surface cleaners, and can be irritating to the skin, eyes, throat, and lungs. Ammonia can burn your skin, and can damage your eyes (including blindness) upon contact.

Triclosan and Triclocarban are commonly added to household cleaning products such as hand soap and dish soap as well as a broad range of other products from toothpaste to socks. These chemicals are persistent in the environment, and are linked to hormone imbalance, and potential increased risk of breast cancer.

Ammonium quaternary compounds (“quats”) are found in household cleaning products like disinfectant sprays and toilet cleaners, and some have been identified as a known inducer of occupational asthma. Certain quats have also been linked to decreased fertility and birth defects in mice.

Nano-silver can be incorporated into textiles, plastics, soaps, packaging, and other materials, giving each the natural antibacterial property of silver metal. Nano-silver particles can penetrate deep into your body and have been shown to be toxic to the liver and brain.

OK, maybe you don’t have straight ammonia or bleach sitting under your kitchen cabinet, but what about all the other cleaners that you have at home? Many of them contain the ingredients listed above…ALWAYS BE SURE TO CHECK THE LABELS.

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For more info on toxic household cleaners please visit: the Organic Consumers Association or the EWG.

 

 

Valentine Tips for a Healthy Heart 💗

When Valentine’s Day originated in England in the 1600’s, the heart symbol was the obvious choice for symbol to reflect the new holiday because as the circulatory center of your well being love is the center of well being. Every February 14, men and women around the world celebrate those closest to them with gifts commonly adorned with or designed in the form of traditional hearts…                                                                              

But what about giving some love and care to the most important Valentine of all: Your Own Heart!  Here are 7 ways to honor your heart and return the love to your heart that it gives you every day…

🍎 EAT HEALTHY 🍎

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Eating healthy always seems to be first on every list of what to do to improve your health in general, but how do we eat to make our heart healthy? Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals, also low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Both contain substances found in plants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables may help you eat less high-fat foods, such as meat, cheese and snack foods. Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products.

⚖️ CONTROL YOUR CHOLESTEROL ⚖️

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The American Heart Association recommends less than 300 mg a day for healthy adults; less than 200 mg a day for adults with high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol or those who are taking cholesterol-lowering medication. The best way to reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet is to limit the amount of solid fats — butter, margarine and shortening — you add to food when cooking and serving. When you do use fats, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats, found in nuts and seeds, also are good choices for a heart-healthy diet. Moderation is essential. All types of fat are high in calories. Limiting unhealthy fats and cholesterol is an important step to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. The American Heart Association offers these guidelines for how much fat and cholesterol to include in a heart-healthy diet.

⚖️  MANAGE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE ⚖️

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High Blood Pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys. High blood pressure means the blood running through your arteries flows with too much force and puts pressure on your arteries, stretching them past their healthy limit and causing microscopic tears. Our body then kicks into injury-healing mode to repair these tears with scar tissue. But unfortunately, the scar tissue traps plaque and white blood cells which can form into blockages, blood clots, and hardened, weakened arteries. To manage your blood pressure you should eat a heart healthy diet, reduce sodium intake, get regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid tobacco smoke.

🔻 REDUCE BLOOD SUGAR 🔻

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Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Your body makes a hormone called insulin that acts like a carrier to take your food energy into your cells. If your fasting blood sugar level is below 100, you are in the healthy range. If not, your results could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes. Although diabetes is treatable and you can live a healthy life with this condition, even when glucose levels are under control it greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, most people with diabetes die from some form of heart or blood vessel disease. Begin your healthy diet by reducing consumption of simple sugars that are found in soda, candy and sugary desserts. Also take your medications regularly if prescribed and get your exercise!

💪 GET PHYSICAL 🚵

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The first step is to talk to your doctor and get recommendations of what would work best for you on a personal level based on your medical history. Moderate exercise can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses as well as improve your endurance, strength and flexibility. Here are four simple ways you can get physical and be on your way to a healthier heart:
🚶 Brisk Walking: Whether you rack up the miles on a treadmill or hit the road, brisk walking is a natural way to improve your fitness.                                                                             🏃 Running: If you are a beginner to running, start out with a brisk walk and add 1 to 2 minutes of running every 5 minutes of walking. As you get more fit, you can increase the minutes you run until you don’t need to walk in between.
🏊 Swimming: Swimming laps or even participating in water fitness classes will not only raise your heart rate and improve your heart health, the water provides multi-directional resistance that will improve your muscular strength and tone. Swimming is a safe alternative if you have joint problems that walking or running can aggravate.
🚲 Cycling: Cycling is a low-impact exercise that you can do solo in the gym, in a spin class, or outside on the road or trails.

🔻 REDUCE STRESS 🔻  

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Reducing Stress seems easier said than done, but it can be achieved if you really want it – and you should! One simple mistake we make when stressing is dismissing it as temporary because of an overwhelming situation, but if you step back and look at life you’ll notice that more often than not you’re writing it off as temporary and several stressful situations pile up so the reality is that you have more stress than not in your life because you’re accepting it. Stop! When you are faced with stress, the ways you cope with it play a huge roll in either compounding it or truly eliminating it. Don’t look to escapes like drugs or alcohol, junk food, over sleeping, zoning out completely or taking it out on those around you. While some of these escapes may offer temporary relief, underneath the surface they’re just compounding the stress for a later explosion. Some of the best ways to deal with stress are to, try meditation, avoid people and situations that create stress in your life whenever possible, learn to say no to taking on too many tasks or finding yourself in the very situations you know will stress you, accept that you can’t control everything and quit trying to, get more exercise AND get more rest! Check out these great tips on reducing stress from Web MD.

🚭 QUIT SMOKING 🚭

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Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Smoking damages your entire circulatory system, and increases your risk for coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysm and blood clots. Blood clots and hardened arteries increase your risks for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease. Smoking can also reduce your good cholesterol (HDL) and your lung capacity, making it harder to get the physical activity you need for better health. Whatever it takes for you to stop smoking, it is worth it! Visit the American Heart Association’s Quit Smoking website for tools and resources.

Close Range Safety Training Academy wants YOU to be our Valentine for many years to come! Subscribe to our blog for safety tips, wellness tips and more to keep you informed, healthy and happy.

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✍️☑️ Your New Years Resolution Solution! 12 Tips to Beat the Stats in 2017…✍️☑️

A little more than half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but roughly 8% actually succeed in meeting their goals.

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Come the first of January, hoards of enthusiastic resolutioners account for the spiking sales of gym memberships, smoking cessation programs, diet programs and many other self-help programs. By the second week of February, some 80 percent of those resolutioners are facing remorse and disappointment in themselves for falling out of line. Why is it that such good intentions seem so elusive?

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“Change entails some degree of emotional friction, which in turn generates stress”, states clinical psychologist Joe Luciani. “Essentially, you build self-discipline by willfully enduring the transient discomfort of changing who and what you are”. Whether you’re feeling anxious, depressed, frustrated, fatigued, or simply bored, stress becomes the fuel of failure. “Like a muscle, you need to develop your self-discipline muscle, one challenge at a time. Starting today, instead of reflexively feeling a need to minimize or escape the friction involved in change, recognize instead the need to endure it.”

John C. Norcross, of the University of Scranton, agrees with the endurance theory stating “It’s not so much the resolution as it is how realistic the goal is. Someone says I’m going to lose 50 pounds and keep it off this year versus I think I’ll struggle to keep 10 off — that’s a little more realistic.”

Changing your behavior, whether it’s eating less, exercising more, quitting smoking, etc., is very difficult. Dr. David Wagner, a sleep expert at the University of Oregon, has identified a deeper cause of why we lack the self control to follow through. “When you’re tired you lack the self-control to eat healthy and the focus to be productive,” said Dr. Wagner. Keeping New Year’s resolutions requires self-control, energy, and focus and if you’re sleep-deprived you’re likely lacking in all of these departments. “With goals, we tend to want to want to rush straightforward,” Wagner said. “So slowing down to take a break and sleep seems wrong.” But there’s a lot to be said for a sleep-focused approach to goals. Research has repeatedly proven the ways in which exhaustion depletes our willpower and generates an unavoidable state of stress. A well-rested person will have a much easier time resisting that cookie than a sleepy one. And studies have also shown that people who don’t get enough sleep aren’t just more tired, but are also more distracted.

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With this valuable information in mind, here are 12 useful tips to help you create, maintain, and succeed with your New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. It’s about you! Make it something you actually want, not something you should want or what everyone tells you it should be.
  2. Make it count! Avoid a knee-jerk decision on a resolution in the moment.  Pick something that is meaningful to you.
  3. Think small.  Take a look at the habits that are holding you back in life. Find one that’s simple, like, “When I finish this meal, I’m going to wash my dish.” Make a contract with yourself that that dish must be washed. No ifs, &s or buts! Throughout the day, find simple challenges that you make happen. The better you are at achieving small changes, the easier it will be for you to keep going.
  4. Limit yourself with care.  Don’t pile several challenging resolutions on your plate and expect to achieve them all.  When you reach a list of resolutions, evaluate it to the top 3 and focus on those.  Should you achieve them within 6 months, you’ve learned what you’re capable of and you can have a seasonal evaluation of Summer resolutions too! “Once you understand that you have only a limited amount of willpower, it’s easy to understand why multiple resolutions aren’t likely to work,” says Ian Newby-Clark, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Guelph in Canada.
  5. Build self-trust. Once you get used to making small things happen, begin to recognize and embrace the truth:What I say to myself is what I do.  In order to guarantee success, don’t challenge yourself with a pledge that you’re not sure you can handle.  According to psychologist Connie Stapleton, Ph.D. it’s to better to  give your willpower some wiggle. “Absolutes like ‘I’m giving up all sweets’ or ‘I’ll never use my credit card again’ set you up to try to get around your own overly strict rules,” says Stapleton. Instead, try drafting more limited restrictions like “I’ll have sweets only when I’m in a fancy restaurant.”
  6. Invent challenges. Invent various challenges throughout the day to strengthen your ability to believe and to do. Don’t allow yourself to procrastinate. This falls in line with Dr. Luciani’s idea that you face building self control as you would face building your muscles.  Just as you would do repetitions at the gym to develop a muscle, you must you get your challenges in each day.
  7. Get proper rest! Without a good night’s sleep, the next day is challenging enough on it’s own without the added challenge of self control when you’re feeling week.  When you’re tired you fall victim to stress easily, and when you fall victim to stress you crave those comforting habits like a cigarette or candy bar that had brought you so much satisfaction in previous times of stress.  (Click here for other ways to manage stress too!)
  8. Refill your fuel tank! Did you know that self restraint can reduce your blood glucose? Your brain relies on glucose for energy.  Natural sugars, such as a glass of orange juice or a bowl fresh fruit can help you replenish the glucose you are actually burning just by over-thinking your resolution.
  9. Cultivate optimism. Positivity may be blocked by habitual pessimism, but if you are determined to stop complaining (to yourself and others) you can prevail. Pessimism is an instinctive habit most of us have and should be considered when making your resolution as a by-product of your resolution.  For example; “I will quit smoking and I will not complain to others about how much I miss it when the mood strikes, instead I will focus on how much healthier I feel.”
  10. Keep spirits high. Sometimes it feels impossible to cultivate optimism.  At those times, try a different approach.  Do something that makes you happy like watching your favorite movie, listening to your favorite song or doing something creative. Maybe this is a good time to catch up with an old friend and have a few laughs.
  11. Develop critical awareness. With critical awareness, you shed light on your destructive, reflexive habits and thinking and on any self-sabotaging mental roller coaster rides. When it comes to self-sabotage, destructive impulses is your number one enemy. (Click here to learn more about critical awareness and how to develop it!)
  12. Account and reward. Don’t focus on the goals as much as the achievements.  For instance, by quitting smoking you can save an average of $35 per week or cutting back on meals may save you an average of $80 per week.  This adds up.  If you keep a running tally of your your savings you can promise yourself a reward like a $200 spa day each month or a new wardrobe each quarter or even a nice vacation at the end of the year. Draw on the strength of images by putting a photo of those new clothes or that dream vacation on the fridge or PC desktop, or a picture of a Caribbean beach in your wallet near your credit cards to remind yourself of the vacation that you’re saving for.

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Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor missteps when reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Don’t give up! Everyone has ups and downs. Resolve to recover from your mistakes, get back on track and make 2017 your year!

Lack of Energy? Trouble Keeping Your Eyes Open? Supplements, Wellness Tips and More…

You stumble through the day and night, your brain slow, your body tired, your body aching; you’re tired, you’re groggy, and everything feels awful. Sound Familiar? 

Fatigue isn’t just tiredness, lack of energy and motivation can sometimes be a symptom of serious issues like depression, anemia, or thyroid problems. But in many cases fatigue is simply the result of bad habits. If you’ve ruled out any medical issue and developed better habit,s but are continuing to struggle with fatigue, it may be time to try supplements. 

Note: This article is not intended to serve as medical advice. If you have questions about taking supplements, consult a medical professional. 

Feeling tired is a normal and natural signal that tells you it’s time for sleep, and getting a full night’s rest may be all that is needed for relieving any fatigue that may be plaguing you. A chronic state of fatigue, however, represents a much bigger issue. Considering that energy is a cellular function dependent on the vitamins and minerals you consume each day, consistent low energy levels typically indicates a cellular imbalance. When cells are receiving the energy they need, you in turn feel energized. When cells struggle to produce energy, they suffer damage or die, leaving you drained.

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10 Supplements That May Increase Energy

Your morning latte or black coffee does have certain health benefits, but it does nothing for improving energy. Yes, caffeine stimulates, but it also stresses the adrenal glands and endocrine system. Energy drinks rely heavily on sugar and other short-term stimulants, like caffeine. Similarly to the effects of sugar in candy, cereal, and other nutritionally-deficient snacks, chronic caffeine consumption results in energy crashes and dependence. Constant energy relies on three key factors: sleep, exercise, and eating healthy food. For a bigger boost, you may want to try any one of the following supplements.

  1. Iodine

Hormones regulate metabolism and initiate the release of the many biochemicals associated with energy creation. The thyroid uses iodine to form triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), the two hormones which regulate all other hormones. The best dietary sources of iodine include seafood, sea vegetables (dulse seaweed, arame, kombu, and wakame), and dark leafy greens. Iodine supplements can also be taken. The best and most bioavailable supplements are colloidal or nascent iodine.

  1. Vitamin B12

Every cell in the human body requires B12 for energy metabolism. In fact, the entire cellular energy creation, known as the Citric Acid cycle or Kreb’s cycle, depends on it. Unfortunately, the human body cannot create B12 on its own, requiring it from dietary sources. Clams, mussels, red meat, and dairy are the best natural sources of B12. Supplementing with B12 is safe as no side effects or upper dietary limit exists. 

  1. Melatonin

Individuals with inadequate melatonin levels suffer from fatigue and accelerated brain aging. Research indicates sleeping with lights on disrupts melatonin production. If sleep is inconsistent, a melatonin imbalance may occur which can disrupt energy levels, blood sugar, and even weight.

  1. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo has long-been known for its powerful antioxidant activity and for improving blood flow. A recent review also suggests that it improves mitochondrial respiration and ATP (cellular energy) production in brain cells. This normalizes metabolic activity at the cellular level, protecting the cells and promoting health and longevity. 

  1. CoQ10 

Coenzyme Q10 plays a vital role in the process of cellular energy creation. Every cell in the body contains CoQ10, although organs like the heart, kidneys, and liver have higher concentrations. Still, a deficiency can result. As an electron transfer molecule in cellular metabolism, it neutralizes free radicals, reducing its availability to assist with energy creation. Fatigue is one of the top symptoms of CoQ10 deficiency, although high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, and blood sugar imbalance may also appear. 

  1. Androtrex® and Female Fuzion™

Hormone imbalances lead to fatigue and exhaustion. In today’s world of environmental toxins and poor dietary options, balancing hormones is becoming more or less a juggling act. Herbs such as Tribulus terrestris, ashwagandha, tongkat ali, and muira puama support endocrine organs such as the ovaries, testes, thyroid, pancreas, and adrenal glands. Each of these herbs can be found as individual supplements; however, the complementary effect each has makes herbal blends such as Androtrex® (for men) and Female Fuzion® an ideal supplement choice.

  1. Acetyl L-carnitine

Another biochemical necessary for energy metabolism, L-carnitine transports fatty acids into the mitochondria for conversion into energy. Acetyl groups also play an integral role in mitochondrial energy creation. While the body naturally creates acetyl L-carnitine, also called ALCAR, the body will use this biochemical to support and protect the brain. Supplementing with ALCAR ensures the body has enough acetyl groups for energy metabolism and neural health.

  1. Magnesium

Low magnesium levels have been linked to low energy and an increased struggle to complete basic physical tasks. The highest dietary sources of magnesium include raw spinach, pumpkin seeds, almonds, sesame seeds, beans, avocados, and quinoa. Supplementation can also help raise magnesium levels.

  1. Ginseng

A recent chronic fatigue study found that taking the ginseng significantly greater improvement in cognitive function and had lower levels of toxins and free radicals in their blood. Overall, the patients experienced increased energy. 

  1. Whole Food Supplements

While taking a multivitamin may help a little, many of the minerals supplied do not have the necessary phytonutrients to facilitate digestion. The most bioavailable mineral supplements will have digestible mineral forms in combination with plant biochemicals. A supplement like IntraMAX® and other whole food suppliments provides an all-in-one formulas with over 65 organic trace minerals, phytochemicals, and superfoods.

Supplements shouldn’t be the first step to fix fatigue. It’s most important to examine your stress management skills, nutrition, and sleeping habits. Seek out the opinion of a medical professional, if necessary, and then make the healthy lifestyle changes. But if you’ve eliminated unhealthy habits, ruled out underlying disorders, and are still struggling with fatigue, then supplementation may be effective in helping you get back the energy you need.

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Ready, Get Set, Go!!! Energy Boosting Tips:

Find 35 foods to help you stay energized here.

Find 5 foods that make you sleepy here.

Find daily habits that increase tiredness here.

Find daily habits to increase your energy here.

🍗🍗🍗The Day You’ve Been Waiting for is Almost Here! Don’t Spend it in the Emergency Room…

In the last 30 years it has been documented that Thanksgiving and the weekend that follows bring the largest annual amount of emergency room visits in the United States.  While most professionals state there is no exact reason for this coincidence and most issues patients are facing are common issues, it is a phenomenon that patients and hospitals alike wish could be avoided.

The preparation and mass consumption of a rich variety of food can send people to the emergency room for minor issues such as a cut thumb while turkey carving. Moderate and Major ailments and emergencies can also occur including gastrointestinal pain, sugar consumption issues, heart attacks and many others.

Dr. Corey Slovis, chairman of emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says the emergency department at Vanderbilt sees more patients coming in with chest pain on Thanksgiving afternoon and evening than on other days. “Some people consuming massive amounts of food are not in good shape to begin with,” he says. Overeating at a meal also can be a risk for some, as an excess of salt can be dangerous for people with conditions like congestive heart failure, kidney disease, diabetes or high blood pressure. “We see the effects of overindulgence,” Slovis says. “If people have heart disease, it can cause heart attacks.”

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Food preparation can result in emergency department visits. A common incident, according to Slovis, is people accidentally cutting their fingers and hands with a carving knife. Other times, people might get burned while trying to deep fry a turkey. The CDC cautions about proper care of food to avoid food-borne illnesses. The agency estimates that food-borne diseases each year cause roughly 1 in 6 Americans, or 48 million people, to get sick each year, hospitalizing 128,000 and killing 3,000. Bacterial contamination is high with any raw meat, says the American College of Emergency Physicians, and some food can make people sick if not heated properly or refrigerated afterward.

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To learn more about safe and proper food handling and preparation, please visit the website for: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Members of the American College of Emergency Physicians say another common emergency department visit involves injuries from people playing football, or doing anything athletic, when they aren’t used to such activity.

The holidays also can bring about mental health issues in addition to physical ones. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people diagnosed with a mental illness report that the holidays make their conditions worse, increasing symptoms such as sadness, loss, fatigue and frustration.

And, of course, there are always issues with long distance driving.  Nationwide, nearly 90 percent of holiday travelers this year will journey by car between Wednesday and Sunday. This represents the highest volume seen since 2007 and the third-highest since tracking by AAA began in 2000. Thanksgiving in recent years has been the deadliest holiday for road travelers.  In 2012, 416 people died in traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday, which is defined as lasting from Wednesday to Monday, according to the most recent available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of The majority of victims who died – 60 % were not wearing seat belts, and 42 % were killed in crashes involving a drunken driver.

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Here are 5 ways for you and your loved ones to avoid that crowded ER Waiting Room and enjoy your quality time together:

  1. Know your dietary limits!  Does your health require dietary guidelines that need to be followed? While we all want to give in to seasonal treats, some of us simply cannot afford to.  Do not cheat on any restrictions your physician has provided you for your own health! If possible, let the host know in advance of your restrictions or bring food items within your approved diet.
  2. Know your physical limits! If you’re not an athletic individual or you don’t exercise on a regular basis, do not overextend yourself in any physical activities such as back yard football. If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving celebration at your home, be sure to offer less physical activities such as horseshoes or charades!
  3. Safe handling of food is a must! Without proper care in the preparation and handling of your holiday eats, your entire party could end up in the emergency room! Learn the important steps in food handling and preparation by visiting the CDC’s food safety webpage here:  https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/groups/consumers.html
  4. Smart and Safe Driving is a must! Remember thousands of holiday travelers will be on the same freeways as you between November 23rd-27th this year (and every year that number increases).  Many drivers will be tired from eating a big feast and family activities while others may be intoxicated after celebrating more than they are used to.  We urge you not to drink and drive by having a designated driver, using a professional transportation service, or eating plenty to sober up after drinks. Avoid driving when you are extremely tired.  History shows us that people are generally sleepy after a large Thanksgiving meal, so be sure to get proper rest before getting behind the wheel of a car. Unfortunately, not everyone will follow these important driving suggestions so be sure that you and all of your passengers wear your seatbelts!
  5. Remember your loved ones who are ill.  Be sure to have foods available to supplement the dietary needs of your guests who have special needs.  Labeling your foods is a great way to advise your guests what items they may need to avoid.  But, don’t forget physical illness is not the only illness some people suffer.  People with mental illness suffer in silence. So, be sure to take a moment to reach out to everyone you love and let them know they are in your thoughts.  Sometimes, just a brief moment of showing you care to someone who feels alone makes an incredible impact on their day.  Encourage those who are alone to celebrate with you.  Just by opening your door and your heart you could save a life!

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❄😔Holiday Blues got You Down? Try These Prevention & Survival Tips for a Happier & Healthier Winter Season😔❄

Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but for some people they are anything but jolly. Depression may occur at any time of the year, but the stress and anxiety during the months of November and December may cause even those who are usually content to experience loneliness and a lack of fulfillment.

Holiday blues are a pretty common problem despite the fact that as a society, we see the holidays as a joyous time,” says Rakesh Jain, MD, director of psychiatric drug research at the R/D Clinical Research Center in Lake Jackson, Texas. “Many people feel depressed, which can be due to the increased stress that comes with the need to shop and the decreased time to exercise which gets put on the back burner during the holidays.”

As we enter what many people consider the happiest time of year, thousands of people will be suffering silently. Some with an ongoing battle with depression and others who suffer from seasonal depression, also known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). So if the family gatherings, the endless parties, and the shopping get you down, you’re not alone.

Despondency during the holidays can be tough, especially when feeling disconnected from the holiday spirited world. “I think a lot of people would say that the holidays are the worst time of the year,” says Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Many people have, or come from broken homes, and the added emphasis of “family” during the holidays can be a real trigger for them. Those suffering from depression need to be especially careful when coping with holiday stress,  and those of us who are not facing this battle should learn how to recognize and ease the suffering for our loved ones who are.

While people with clinical depression should seek professional help, those with a touch of the holiday blues can try these strategies recommended by experts to assure a merry holiday and a happy new year:

  • Avoid setting up unrealistic expectations for yourself such as taking on hosting responsibilities for events or trying to be the peace keeper in family conflicts. Remember no one is perfect and you can’t perfect things in an imperfect world. So, it’s ok to say no rather than putting unreasonable demands on yourself. Sometimes, tasks that seem reasonable to others are not for you, and you are not in a competition to keep up with those who can.
  • Plan ahead by creating prevention routines for yourself and doing your best to follow your schedule. Set up a calendar of to do lists for positive actions for yourself. For example, schedule a time to read a favorite author, create art, write in a journal, take a nap, go on a long walk in a new area, etc.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others. Maybe now is not the time to scroll through social media seeing everyone’s perfect holiday pictures. Understand that everyone puts on their best face for these circumstances and trying to compare yourself to their world is unrealistic for anyone.
  • Remember it’s ok to grieve. If you’ve suffered a loss and this season is a painful reminder of that, don’t be ashamed to grieve that loss. Feelings are a sign that you’re human and reflect where you are in your healing process.
  • Don’t rob yourself of proper rest! Sleep and rest are important to everyone. Studies have proven that sleep deprivation is directly connected to depression. Do not cut back on your sleep in order to get more done during this busy season. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it.
  • Keep sunshine in your life. Many times seasonal depression is not linked to holiday activity as much as it is simply a darker time of year. Humans rely on sunshine and vitamin D (provided by sunshine) to live a healthy life both physically and emotionally. You can prevent this by simply enjoying 30 minutes of sunshine outdoors each day. Take a walk before work or during your lunch break, or go to a park and sit in the sun’s rays.
  • Avoid binging on food and alcohol. What feels good at the moment will have you facing regrets later on. Know your limits and stick to them at all times. In the moment binging may seem like a solution, but in actuality it creates more problems.

Most importantly, concentrate on what really matters and don’t let the static around you mix your signals! Remember, it’s ok to say no rather than over extending yourself financially, physically or emotionally. While the holiday season is a time for giving, never forget that every day is a time to take care of yourself first.


If your feelings of sadness during the holidays are accompanied by suicidal thoughts, do one of the following immediately: 1. Call 911  2. Go immediately to a hospital emergency room. 3. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).


Could I be Suffering from Depression?

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Depression is an invisible illness that goes unrecognized because many people don’t understand the causes, effects, or symptoms. Sometimes it goes unrecognized by those who suffer the illness, and often times it goes unrecognized by others because they simply cannot relate.

Depression is a treatable medical illness involving an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. It’s not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness. Just like you can’t “wish away” diabetes, heart disease, or any other physical illness, you can’t make depression go away by trying to “snap out of it.”

It’s an exasperating disease to live with because being depressed, frustrated, sleepless or numb for long periods of time is exhausting – especially when you can’t prove to anyone that you’re really sick. Many times depression is caused by hormonal imbalances, grief (death of a loved one or divorce), or situational factors (loss of a job or a move to a new city) beyond our control. No one should be ashamed of having this disease. Remember, like any other disease, treatment helps.

Here are some symptoms to help identify depression in yourself or in a loved one:

  • Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Struggling with concentrating
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Overwhelming and uncontrollable negative thoughts
  • Loss of appetite or significant increase in appetite
  • Escalating irritability, aggression, or anger
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities previously enjoyed
  • Developing an increase in alcohol consumption or reckless (acting out) behavior
  • Thoughts that your life is not worth living or thoughts of death or suicide
  • Fatigue, exhaustion, lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Pessimism, indifference
  • Unexplained aches and pains

If you are experiencing these symptoms you should seek professional help immediately. If you observe these symptoms in a loved one, gently encourage them to consider professional help.

If you are suffering this invisible illness, you need to know you’re not alone. Millions of people do understand your situation. It is a clinical illness that can be helped. What you are feeling may be connected to other health issues, seasons, previous life incidents and many other factors. In fact, just because you may have the symptoms of depression it does not always mean you have the illness. It is important that you seek medical attention if you think you may be suffering from depression and get a professional assessment.

For a listing of depression support groups, please visit the DBSA online


For Family and Friends

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Keep in mind that a mood disorder such as Depression is a physical, treatable illness that effects a person’s brain. It is a real illness, as real as diabetes or asthma. It is not a character flaw or personal weakness, and it is not caused by anything you or your loved one did.

A “tough love” approach is widely considered  unhelpful in terms of aiding someone with depression. Here are some simple ways to reach out to someone battling depression this holiday season:

  • Please Do educate yourself about your loved one’s illness, its symptoms and its treatments. Read brochures and books from DBSA and other dependable sources.
  • Please Don’t ask the person to “snap out of it.” Your friend or family member can’t snap out of this illness any more than he or she could overcome diabetes, asthma, cancer or high blood pressure without treatment.
  • Please Do give unconditional love and support. Offer reassurance and hope for the future.
  • Please Don’t try to fix your loved one’s problems on your own. Encourage him or her to get professional help.
  • Please Do have realistic expectations of your loved one. He or she can recover, but it won’t happen overnight. Be patient and keep a positive, hopeful attitude.
  • Please Do take care of yourself so you are able to be there for your loved one. Find support for yourself with understanding friends or relatives, in therapy of your own, at a DBSA support group, or other support group. It is important to take care of yourself, and it is normal for you to have symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression when someone you care about is ill. It’s important for you to build your own support system of people who will listen to you and be concerned about your well-being, including friends, relatives, and possibly a doctor or therapist. You might think your problems are minor in comparison to what your loved one is coping with, but that doesn’t mean you are any less deserving of help and comfort. Take time out for yourself, and make time to do things that relax you and things you enjoy. You will be best able to support the person you care about when you are healthy, rested and relaxed.
  • Please Do express your understanding and concern by acknowledging their struggles as a whole. Make helpful recommendations such as getting treatment. Arm yourself with helpful information about treatment and ways they can achieve it. Offer help if needed such as transportation and your willingness to join them if they don’t want to go alone.

What can I do to make sure my loved one gets good treatment?

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Encourage your loved one to seek treatment. Explain that treatment is not personality-altering and can greatly help to relieve symptoms.

Help him or her prepare for health care provider appointments by putting together a list of questions. Offer to go along to health care appointments.

With permission, talk to your loved one’s health care provider(s) about what you can do to help.

Encourage or help your loved one to get a second opinion from another health care provider if needed.

Help him or her keep records of symptoms, treatment, progress and setbacks in a journal or Personal Calendar.

Help him or her stick with the prescribed treatment plan. Ask if you can help by giving medication reminders.

Depression may cause someone to have feelings of unbearable sadness, guilt, worthlessness and hopelessness. The person does not want to feel this way, but can’t control it. Make sure the person’s doctor knows what is happening, and ask if you can help with everyday tasks such as housekeeping, running errands, or watching children.

Help your loved one try to stick to some sort of daily routine, even if he or she would rather stay in bed.

Spend quiet time together at home if he or she does not feel like talking or going out.

Keep reminding your loved one that you are there to offer support. It can be helpful to say things like: “I’m here for you”, “I care”, “I may not understand your pain, but I can offer my support”, “You are a worthwhile person and you mean a lot to me”, “Your brain is lying to you right now, and that is part of the illness”, “Don’t give up. You can get through this.”


What to do in Crisis Situation

If you believe your loved one is at an immediate risk for suicide, do NOT leave the person alone.

In the U.S., dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK