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21 Nov

Taking Care of Our Health and Our Healthcare

The headline in today’s Los Angeles Times caught my eye: “Healthcare insurers get upper hand.” The article is written by Tom Hamburger and Kim Geiger. You don’t have to read the paper every day to know that the healthcare system in the United States is a mess. We’re all living it every time we go to see a doctor or fill a prescription. We can’t keep going the way we’ve been going, there has to be some sort of a change. Unfortunately, the kinds of changes that the insurance companies are proposing just might make things worse instead of better. Linda Blumberg, a health policy analyst at the nonpartisan Urban Institute says that the insurance companies are going to have a very stable pool of customers, “…people getting subsidies to help them buy coverage and… they [insurance companies] will be paid the full costs of the benefits that they provide – plus their administrative costs.”

Einstein famously said that a problem can’t be solved at the same level at which it was created. What created this healthcare crisis was greed. The greed of both the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies.

How much of our insurance dollar actually goes towards insurance? That’s got to be a well-kept secret. I haven’t heard anyone talk about this yet. About 10% of every monthly premium goes to the agent who sold you the policy. And then another chunk, probably 20%, goes to the “general agent” or broker who the first agent has to go through to get to the insurance company. Before we even get to the entity that is providing the coverage we have to go through two middle-men. And these agents are doing quite well, indeed. Then the insurance company itself has tons of costs it has to build into our premiums, including all the paperwork and brochures they send us, and all the advertising they do to convince us that they are a reputable company. And of course, there’s the $35 million dollars that the health service and HMO sector spent in the first half of 2009 lobbying Congress, the White House, and federal healthcare offices. This figure came from the Center for Responsive Politics; I didn’t make it up!

Before my divorce, I had health insurance through my ex-husband’s company. I was able to keep the same policy for a little while through a plan they have called COBRA. But then I had to get my own policy, and I contacted an agent. My husband and I met with him one time, for about 20 minutes, to basically sign some papers and write a check. We kept the same policy for many years, even though the premiums went up every year. Every single month this agent of ours was making money off of us. For years we never saw him, or heard from him. Then when our premium went up another huge percentage, I called him to ask what our options were. He told me to look online, and gave me the insurance company’s website.

Now the insurance companies have all of their policies posted online so anyone can shop and compare for themselves. I figured out just how we could switch to a different plan and save some money, and called the insurance company direct. They told me I just had to write them a letter and they would take care of it. I didn’t need the agent to be involved. Then I pointed out that we had clearly eliminated the need for an agent, and hence, the need to continue to pay his monthly commission. I asked if I could have that commission discounted from my monthly premiums, they told me no, it doesn’t work that way. Isn’t this crazy? Even when the two middle-men do no work at all, they still make money every month! It doesn’t work that way for car insurance, or home-owner’s insurance, so why should this be the case for health insurance?

As intelligent people, we know that we are responsible for our own health. We strive to take care of ourselves, eating right, working out, keeping fit. But it seems that the health insurance companies are working against us. Most preventative care, like chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage, are not covered. Many times mental health care is not covered, or covered only up to a certain amount. Doesn’t it make more sense to do what we can to stay healthy, rather than spending tons of money trying to get our health back when we get stressed out and sick? And think of the money lost when we have to take sick days and miss work.

But then, people being sick benefits the pharmaceutical companies. They have all kinds of medications for all kinds of illnesses that are covered by the insurance companies. And just when we think we’re doing well, along comes a vaccine they promote that they insist we need to keep us from getting something else.

Doctors have sky high rates because they are forced to make deals with the insurance companies where they are paid a percentage of their fees. When you look at your “explanation of benefit” statement that comes in the mail from the insurance company, you’ll see what part of the charges are “allowed” and “not allowed” and what part goes toward your deductible. I don’t know how doctors can make much money when all is said and done. Many doctors now have set up “concierge” service, which means that you pay a monthly fee to be their patient. It’s a kind of secondary insurance. But do we really need that extra expense? Not me!

Obama has an uphill climb when it comes to healthcare reform. He’s the David and the insurance companies are the Goliath in this scenario. Gerald Shea of the AFL-CIO is hoping for a change, but knows that the insurance companies will fight every step of the way, with all of their power and all of their money. “They have us beaten six ways to Sunday. Any time we want to make a small change to provide cost relief, they find a way to make it more profitable.”

Health and Nutrition on CoffeyTalk

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12 Nov

How to Help End Hunger: Feed Your Mind

Food is huge right now. We’ve got The Food Network with programming around the clock, cookbooks flying off the shelves as people spend more time in the kitchen, and chefs are the new rock stars. And yet, for 1 in 8 people in the United States hunger is a reality. Worldwide the statistics are much worse. The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed, and one-third is starving. Approximately 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition, and about 8 million actually die from it each year.

September is Hunger Action Month. And there’s no better time to take action than right now. Feeding America, formerly named America’s Second Harvest, is one organization that is working hard to solve the hunger crisis. It is a network made up of individuals, local food banks, and national offices, as well as corporate and government partners. Feeding America secures food and grocery products on a national level and distributes as needed to local food banks. For every $1 donated, Feeding America provides 10 pounds of groceries to hungry people.

Many children in the United States rely on free or reduced-priced school lunches during the school year. And this is often the only meal they get each day. During weekends and school vacations these children go hungry. Feeding America has come up with the “BackPack Program” to help these kids. The program started at the Arkansas Rice Depot, after a school nurse asked for help because hungry students were coming to her with stomachaches and dizziness. The local food bank began to provide the school children with groceries in backpacks to carry home with them. Now the program serves more than 90,000 children each year.

Action Against Hunger is working on a global basis. Their program areas include nutrition, water and sanitation, food security, health and advocacy. They have started the Campaign to End Malnutrition. They say that the loss of life from malnutrition is all the more tragic because acute malnutrition is preventable, predictable, and cost-effective to treat. And they have a plan in place to save lives. Visit their website for all the details.

And while we’re online, there’s something we can do, once a day, everyday, to help eradicate world hunger. Just go to TheHungersite.com and click on the “Click Here to Give – it’s FREE” button. Since June, 1999, more than 300 million visitors have given more than 657 million cups of staple food. The food funded by clicks is paid for by the site sponsors and distributed to those in need by Mercy Corps, Feeding America, and Millennium Promise. 100% of sponsor advertising fees go to the aid of hungry people around the world. Besides clicking the button, which costs visitors nothing, we can also help by shopping in The Hunger Site store. With each item purchased, shoppers generate funds for the hungry. The store offers a wide variety of items to show support as well as fair-traded and handcrafted items from around that world that help families and communities pull themselves out of the poverty and hunger cycle.

Here’s another innovative way to help solve the world food problem. I love it when I find a site where I can have fun, learn and also do something good for the world, and that’s just what I found at FreeRice.com. With freerice.com you play a game to improve your vocabulary. For every word you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated to hungry people through the United Nations World Food Program. The game is challenging, even though it is multiple-choice. If you correctly guess the meaning of a word, you get a more difficult one next. If you get it wrong, you get an easier one. If you’re online playing games anyway, you might as well play this one. You’ll learn some new words, and help feed people in need at the same time.

Knowing about all the hungry people in the world gives us more reason to be grateful every time we sit down to eat. And now we can take action to help feed people every time we sit down at our computers. Every dollar counts, every click counts, every grain of rice counts to those who are hungry.

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23 Oct

Stress Much This Season?

‘Tis the season… for stress? NBC Dateline reports that 41% of people interviewed said that the holidays are as stressful as a job interview. In other words, “very stressful.” It’s not hard to imagine why this is the case. Besides our normal work schedule and routine, add to that the traditional holiday obligations: office parties, cooking, eating, shopping, wrapping, traveling, visiting and general socializing, and our capacity for stress tips the scales on the verge of overload.

Then of course, there’s the economy. A Los Angeles radio station does an annual poll of its listener’s resolutions. Every year “Get Fit” or “Lose Weight” ends up being the most popular goal. But this year “Get Out of Debt” ranked the highest. How do we reconcile this with the barrage of store catalogs and television ads broadcasting all the great deals we can get on all kinds of stuff? It’s enough to make a person cringe every time Jingle Bells plays in the grocery store.

We can’t fast forward through the season, even if we wanted to. But we can manage our stress, and find ways to relax and enjoy the beauty of this special time of year.

1. Fold your hands in prayer behind your back. When we get stressed we tend to tense up, and cave our chest in. This opens up our chest, so we can breathe more freely. Pull the shoulders back, tilt the head back, and breathe deeply.

2. Rub the circumference of each ear with your hands. Right hand rubbing the right ear and left hand rubbing the left ear. According to Ayurveda, India’s 5,000 year old Science of Life, there are marma points (like acupuncture points) in the ears that correspond to the various parts of the body. Rubbing the ears in this way is like giving yourself a little mini massage!

3. Stop and smell the flowers. Keep some lavender essential oil in your desk or purse. When you feel stressed, bring it out. Close your eyes and breathe in the fragrance. Count to 5. Then exhale through your mouth to the count of 5. According to Aromatherapy, lavender is very calming, and when we close our eyes it isolates the sense of smell so that we feel it more intensely.

4. Present moment awareness. Most of the time, when we’re stressed it is because we are living in either the future or the past. Bring yourself into present moment awareness by focusing on the now. Use your senses, which connect us to our environment. Hug yourself, to be more “in your body” instead of in your mind where the stress is. Look at something beautiful, a flower, a bird, the sky, and just be with that for a moment. Take a sip of sweet tea, and really taste it, and enjoy it. Be grateful in that moment, and stress just washes away. Gratitude and stress cannot be present at the same time!

5. Sit in your desk chair, or kitchen table chair – left foot on the floor, put your right ankle on your left knee, and learn forward with a stretch. Hold it as far as you can go, then bend forward a little more. This opens up your hips, and again balances that tensed up muscle feeling. Do each side equally.

6. Pay attention. Understand that it is our choice where we place our attention. We can look at the source of our stress, or we can look at the white snow, the blue sky, the green pines, the twinkling stars.

7. Release expectations. Simplify. Is it important to send out 100 cards with personal notes? Or would you be happier contacting a few close friends? Do you need to have the house decorated like something out of a magazine? Do you need to make a seven course meal? What expectations do you have of yourself, and of others? Rather than striving for perfection, allow things to just be, however they are. Know that whatever it is, it’s all good.

8. Remember these words: love, peace, joy. This is what the season is all about. When those other words creep into your consciousness, the ones that set off stress, replace them with what you know to be important: love, peace, joy.

Wishing you love, peace and joy this holiday season, and always.

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02 Oct

Health Care Reform And Mental Health Services

Years ago, when my son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), my life changed. I went from being a mother to also taking on the additional roles of advocate and mediator. In order to help my son get the help he needed and the services he was entitled to in school, I had to learn everything I could about the educational system, the healthcare system, and the law. It is a challenge, yet it is essential in order to work with teachers, administrators, doctors, and therapists as part of a team. I learned a lot, thanks in large part to an organization called CHADD, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders. This is a national, non-profit organization with local, volunteer-run chapters. Our local chapter held monthly meetings, which allowed parents to keep up with the various issues and changes. Most importantly, the meetings provided a forum for parents to network with each other and share experiences and resources.

We got over all the hurdles, and managed to get through the system despite the complexities. My son is in college now, and he has the tools to advocate for himself. But there are new kids coming up, and new parents who are starting from scratch to figure all of this out. Luckily, CHADD is still on it, providing us with the ongoing information we need to help our kids.

Following is an e-mail I received from CHADD regarding the current Healthcare Reform Legislation. I am happy to share it with you, and hoping that it will encourage all of us to look at the many children and families who will benefit from healthcare reform. To those of us working so diligently to take care of our children, this is most welcome, and long overdue.

“House of Representatives Passes
Comprehensive Healthcare Reform Legislation

Many Provisions Will Benefit
Children and Adults with AD/HD and Related Disorders

On Saturday, November 7, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a comprehensive healthcare reform bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962) by a vote of 220-215. It is expected that the full Senate will debate and vote on its version of the bill in the coming weeks, which will then be followed by the House and Senate having its leaders meet in a conference to reconcile differences and produce a final piece of legislation that can be sent to the President.

CHADD, through its membership in the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Campaign for Mental Health Reform, and the Mental Health Liaison Group has sent letters to members of Congress in support of the bill. CHADD’s views on and support for healthcare reform legislation can be viewed on the Healthcare Reform 2009 webpage and CHADD’s Leadership Blog. CHADD has no position on many of the provisions contained in the legislation. The three primary disability coalitions CHADD participates in, believe there are significant key provisions warranting support of the legislation.

A few key provisions in the final House bill that will benefit children and adults with AD/HD and related disorders include:

* Requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance, and mandating that most employers provide insurance to their employees, but also providing substantial federal subsidies to make coverage as affordable as possible;
* Providing coverage of critical services for people with disabilities in the new Health Insurance Exchange’s essential benefits package including behavioral health treatment, and mental health and substance abuse services in compliance with the Wellstone-Domenici parity law, rehabilitation and habilitation services, equipment and supplies for children under 21 years of age;
* Inclusion of “disability” as a category for purposes of health disparities;
* Inclusion of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, a new national long term services insurance program to help adults with severe functional impairments to remain independent, employed, and a part of their communities; and
* Not allowing individual or group health insurance policies to establish lifetime or annual limits on the dollar value of benefits and the elimination of discrimination based on health status or a pre-existing condition.

CHADD continues to actively monitor developments in healthcare reform. Updated information on the legislation, CHADD’s 13 principles for healthcare reform, children’s mental health coalition’s five principles for healthcare reform and CHADD’s work with other partner coalitions can be viewed on CHADD’s website: http://www.chadd.org

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09 Sep

Surviving Suicide

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. It is heartbreaking to think that suicide is that pervasive of a problem in our society to warrant such a week. And yet it is. Suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans every year. There are twice as many deaths from suicide as there are from HIV/AIDS. It is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year old Americans. And there are more than 800,000 attempted suicides every year.

Those are the statistics.

And then there are the stories.

Perhaps the worst thing about suicide is the pain that it causes to those left behind. These people are known as the survivors. And telling our stories can help us to heal from the trauma of this experience.

When Gia Allemand, the reality television star, took her own life last month, the topic of suicide became a part of a national discussion. Gia’s distraught mother spoke with Dr. Phil about her feelings, which echo that of many survivors.

Sometimes there are warning signs. And then sometimes the incident seems to come from out of nowhere. That’s how it was when I found out that my friend Ophir had died. I remember getting a phone call from our mutual friend Curt. He was in a state of disbelief as he had just gotten the news. It took a few phone calls to figure out exactly what had happened. Ophir had committed suicide.

I knew Ophir as an extremely talented and creative composer. We worked together on several music projects. We had a close friendship, and a great respect for each other. Ophir helped me bring my songs to life. When Ophir had a hernia operation, I had him stay at my home while he recovered.

I was aware that Ophir used drugs. I spoke with him about it many times, offering him alternatives and suggestions for a more healthy way of life. But he did not want to hear it. He did not want to talk about it. He always functioned perfectly well when we were working, and he assured me that he did not have a problem. When I heard that Ophir had died, I assumed it was an accidental overdose. But there was no accident about Ophir’s death. He planned it. He put a rifle in his mouth and shot himself.

Like most people do in this situation, I started asking myself all kinds of questions. What could I have done to prevent this? Why didn’t I see this was coming? What was so terrible that he had to do this? I felt awful, not only for myself, but for his family, everyone who loved him.

Suicide is such a violent act. It is terribly hurtful to everyone left behind with so many unanswerable questions. I don’t know what brought Ophir to his decision. I do know and recognize that although our relationship has changed, he is still very much a part of my life. I have the songs we wrote together on my websites. He taught me so much about music and the creative process. When certain songs come on the radio I am reminded of him, and his amazing energy, sweet smile, and sly sense of humor. His words still influence me. His music still moves me.

I know that the agreement that Ophir and I had was complete even before his death. There was no unfinished business between us. We learned from each other, both creatively and personally. At his funeral I met many others who felt the same way.

This was the second time that I had been affected by suicide. When I was around 11 years old, shortly after my parents’ divorce, my mother’s brother took his own life. He was a Vietnam veteran, and he became hooked on drugs while he was in the war. When he got home, he couldn’t handle normal life after seeing everything he saw in combat. His drug problem got worse, he would have hallucinations and he overdosed to escape the pain.

I saw how this shattered my mother and grandmother. He also left behind a wife and baby daughter. It was tragic. As a child I could sense how awful this was for everyone. And now as an adult I can see how my uncle’s life mattered. Even in the short time he was with us, he brought joy to his mother, and love to his family. He struggled with life, and he chose to die. But while he was here he lived, and he had the opportunities and experiences that allowed him to learn and grow. He may not have made the best choices, but they were his choices. In situations like this you have to get past the blame, and the guilt, and know that there is nothing you could have done to change the outcome. For whatever reason, this person took his own life. It is not rational, or logical, or right. But it is irreversible. And we learned by going through all of this together as a family.

Chaim Nissel, Psy.D., is the Director of Yeshiva University’s Counseling Center in New York City, and an expert with the American Association of Suicidology. He has this to say about coping with the loss of a loved one from suicide:

The death of a loved one by suicide has all the trappings of conventional grief plus a host of other intense, difficult and confusing emotions. These include feelings of guilt and responsibility, anger and blame and often a disconnect with the individual who killed himself. When we lose a loved one to cancer or AIDS, we accept the reality, feel the loss, grieve, yet we don’t blame ourselves. Following a suicide, it is hard to accept the reality that the individual chose death. We feel responsible and wonder, ‘If I had only… he’d be alive today.’ We would rather blame ourselves because it is difficult to place the responsibility where it belongs, on the individual who killed himself.

One who experiences the death of a loved one to suicide is fittingly called a ‘survivor.’ They must now learn to cope and survive their loss. Most survivors experience anger, guilt and emotional turmoil. There is often anger at the deceased for taking their own life, it is seen as selfish, because their pain ends, but the survivor’s pain begins. Guilt over what they could have and should have done to prevent it (although if the loved one wanted to die, they would have despite your interventions). We like to think that we can control events, but when another person is in such emotional pain that they want to die, the choice to kill themselves remains their choice, despite everything that you can and did offer them.

There is still tremendous stigma and shame associated with suicide and when the fact that one died by suicide is hidden or denied, it becomes so much more difficult to come to terms with it. When we try to ‘cover’ or pretend the death was accidental, it takes its toll on the survivors and will impact them the rest of their lives.

To help us find closure, Dr. Nissel has this advice:

— Talk about it! Find supportive people in your life who you can share your feelings with.

— Focus on the person’s life and the good memories you have of the person. Know that you will never truly know why he killed himself.

— Recognize that the person’s pain is over, now it’s time to start healing your own pain.

— Have answers prepared for when people ask questions. This will help reduce your anxiety and emotional reactions. You can say “he took his own life,” or, “died by suicide,” or, even “he suffered a long illness.” It someone is persistent, blaming or insensitive, you can say “it is too difficult to talk about right now,” and end the conversation.

— Know that you are not responsible for your loved one’s death, in any way. Only the individual who killed himself is responsible.

— Know that the likelihood is that the person was in such pain, for so long and now the suffering is over. 90 percent of those that die by suicide suffered from some form of mental illness, most commonly an affective disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder.

— Seek resources such as professional counseling, support groups and books.

— Being exposed to a suicide makes you somewhat more susceptible to suicidal thinking. If you are having thoughts of killing yourself, get help immediately by contacting a local psychologist or psychiatrist. If you feel you may act on these suicidal impulses, call 911 or go to your local emergency room.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) helps survivors of suicide. Actress Michelle Ray Smith, who played “Ava” on the daytime drama Guiding Light, talked about her father’s suicide in an interview with Soap Opera Digest magazine a few years back. She said that participating in AFSP’s “Out of the Darkness” event, an overnight 20-mile walk, helped her connect with people who had been through the same thing. “For the first time since he died — it’s been three years in September — I feel at peace.” Talking with people, sharing our stories, is one way that we can help each other to heal.

For more by Lissa Coffey, click here.

For more on healthy living health news, click here.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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10 May

Feng Shui Fixes for Fabulous Sleep!

May is Better Sleep Month and The Better Sleep Council is celebrating by helping all of us to be #BetterInBed – when it comes to sleep, of course!

Your bedroom is not only your sanctuary, your retreat from the world, your place of rest – it’s the one room where you spend the most time. Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese science that works with the energy of the earth to make spaces most harmonic and peaceful. This energy, or “chi,” when used positively can help strengthen relationships, support health, promote wealth, and also help you to achieve better sleep. Feng Shui shows us how, with just a few simple adjustments, the energy in the bedroom can work for you, even while you sleep!

Location, Location, Location

Where the bedroom is located within the house can affect how well you sleep. Feng Shui advises to choose a bedroom that is at the back-end of the home, close to the backyard. This area is usually much quieter because front-end rooms are closer to the street, and hence street noise. With a room near backyard you also get more privacy, so you feel safer.

If you have a two-story home, avoid stationing your bedroom over the garage. Having a room on top of the garage is disruptive to sleep for many reasons: noise, smells, warmer temperatures, and even insects. For similar reasons, it’s best to not place your bedroom over the kitchen, particularly over the stove. Much heat comes from the kitchen due to the appliances, and this will affect the temperature of the room above, as heat rises.

You also want to avoid placing your first-floor bedroom below very active areas. You can imagine how sleep would be affected if you’re hearing laughter, a TV, footsteps, or a toilet flushing right over your head. Fortunately, apartment buildings and hotels tend to have thick sound-proof flooring so that this doesn’t apply in those circumstances.

Size Matters

When it comes to both size of the bedroom, and size of the bed, we’re looking for that “Goldilocks” fit: not too big, not too small, but “just right!” We are at our most vulnerable when we are asleep. If the room is too big, it can be difficult for us to fully relax enough to sleep soundly. This feeling of needing to be “on alert” is a survival instinct from way back when. If the room is too small, we can feel cramped, or trapped, like we’re in a prison cell.

A twin sized bed is generally too small for an average-sized adult to feel comfortable in. Most colleges provide “XL Twin” mattresses in their dormitories for this reason. A full-size or queen-size bed is usually a good fit for most adults. If you happen to play in the NFL or NBA, you’re going to want a King size bed for your large frame! Most couples are happy with a Queen mattress. If you prefer a King, look for one that does not have split box springs under the mattress, so as not to create “disharmony” in your relationship, according to Feng Shui.

The Command Center

Feng Shui says that the bed should be placed in a “commanding position” in the bedroom. When you are lying in bed, you should be able to see the door in front of you so that you have a feeling of safety and stability – you can easily see when someone or something enters your space. The wall opposite the door is the best place to position the bed. At the same time, you do not want to be directly in front of the door. The head of the bed should be placed against a wall, and there should be a headboard to “stabilize” the bed’s position in the room. Ideally there should be equal space on either side of the bed so each person can get in and out easily and the room feels balanced. In the command center you want to have access to turning on the light quickly and easily.

Avoid putting the head of the bed under a window. Windows represent the gateway from the bedroom to the outside world. Having your head right under a window affects sleep from all the energy that comes from the outside – including noise, light, wind, scents, and shadows. When you sense something unfamiliar, that survival instinct kicks in and you wake up, and it can be difficult to fall back asleep.

Circulation

It is important that chi, or energy, be allowed to circulate freely throughout the room, and around and under the bed. For this reason, clutter should be kept to a minimum. The bed should be elevated off the floor on a frame or a platform, not placed directly on the floor. Don’t store boxes, books, or shoes under the bed; leave that space open for chi to flow through. Don’t overcrowd the room with furniture, and keep any work-related, or exercise-related items out of the bedroom. This works on a practical level as well – as you probably know the agony of stubbing a toe in the middle of the night. How can you not wake up after that?

A clean and organized bedroom also helps you to feel more relaxed, and that is good preparation for sleep.

For the best sleep, all doors and windows should be kept shut to keep out noises and smells. Closet doors and cupboards should also be closed at night so that chi can circulate in the room and not get “stuck” in small spaces. During the day, open windows to allow fresh air in.

Décor

When it comes to décor, choose colors that are soothing and relaxing. Nature’s colors, blues, greens and browns, are ideal. Think of the sky, a field of trees, a beautiful meadow, this is the feeling you want to evoke. Warm colors signify activity and are energizing, so avoid colors like bright reds, pinks and oranges. If you like those tones, choose more muted versions such as peach, maroon, or lavender.

For wall décor, choose artwork that makes you feel happy. A beautiful floral design is more likely to make you feel relaxed than a painting of a shipwreck, for example. Think about what you see when you first wake up in the morning, and how you want it to make you feel.

It is always best to keep electronics out of the bedroom, but if you insist on having a TV in the room, keep it in a media cabinet behind closed doors. You can also cover it with a pretty blanket or piece of fabric when not in use. This way you don’t have a big black void taking up valuable space in the room.

Mirrors are not generally recommended in the bedroom per Feng Shui. The main rule is that you don’t want to see yourself in the mirror when you’re in bed. This can be startling, and disturb your sleep. So, if you want to have a mirror in the room, place it inside the closet door. Also, mirrors that are round, or oval, are preferred because they can help with the flow of energy in a room, and the shape symbolizes continuity in a relationship.

Keep water features, such as fountains, out of the bedroom. The sound can be disruptive to sleep, and the sound of water might make you feel like you need to get up to use the bathroom!

Lighting should be set on dimmers wherever possible, so you can control the light in the room and have options depending on how much light you need during any time of day.

Comfort is Key

Feng Shui recognizes how important it is that the bedroom be a comfortable place to rest. The room needs to be cool, a nice 68 degrees is good. The room should also have good windows treatments to block out lights from outside. Most importantly, your mattress is the foundation of a good night’s sleep. Invest in the best mattress you can afford. And make sure your mattress continues to support you with time. Mattresses generally need to be replaced every 5-7 years, so keep checking to make sure your mattress is in good shape.

Bedding is also important. Choose soft fabrics that are comfortable against the skin. Pure cotton is best, as it breathes. A standard rule of thumb is that the higher the thread count, the softer the sheets. Blankets should also be soft and cozy. And don’t go crazy with the pillows! Beds with too many decorative pillows can feel cluttered and crowded. You need one great pillow to actually sleep on, one that works for your preferred sleep position. Pillows you sleep on need to be replaced about every 2 years. After that, one or two decorative pillows is sufficient.

A good night’s sleep prepares us for a good day’s activity. When we implement some of these feng shui strategies to circulate chi in the bedroom, it helps us to have good energy, too!

More tips for Better Sleep from the Better Sleep Council. 

 

Feng Shui Living Room Make-Over on YouTube.com/CoffeyTalk

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03 Feb

Reducing Your Cancer Risk: A holistic approach

Guest post by Carl O Helvie, R.N., Dr.P.H.

Did you know that the current risk of cancer is 1 of every 2 people in the United States? And did you know that 40% of these are preventable according to research. Thus, it is important to learn how to reduce your cancer risk to avoid being in a cancer or cancer survivor group. .

What areas of life offer an opportunity to reduce your cancer risk. . The author uses a public health framework to answer this question. Assuming health and illnesses (cancer) are processes resulting from the interaction of the human host, a disease or disabling agent, and the environment, disease can occur when the host is weak, the agent is strong, and the environment that brings them together is favorable. Thus, it is important to avoid or reduce environmental carcinogens, to strengthen the host, and to make the environment less favorable for an interaction. Intervening before the host interacts with an agent in a favorable environment is known as prevention and is most cost effective and less traumatic for individuals.

There are four major areas of environmental carcinogens that can be avoided or reduced in intensity. These include electromagnetic frequencies (EMF), ultraviolet rays, carcinogenic chemicals, and carcinogenic metals. The author discusses research related to each area as it relates to cancer and ways to avoid them. There are also over 45 national expert interviews linked to appropriate topics throughout the book. For example, Bisphenol A (BPA) a carcinogenic chemical, is an endocrine disrupter responsible for cancers of the prostate and breast. It is found in plastic and you can avoid it by replacing plastic water bottle in which the plastic leaches into the water during hot weather or transporting with glass containers, replace plastic utensils, and not eating canned foods that havw BPA linings in the can.

There are many things you can do to build your bodies immunity against carcinogens. Some physical interventions include working with nutrition, fluids, exercise, adding supplements and herbs, using immune builders, getting adequate rest and sleep, and avoiding or stopping smoking. For example, research shows that daily exercise reduces your risk of cancer by 50% and proper nutrition reduces it by 35%. Looking at nutrition, the Standard American Diet (SAD) of high animal protein and fat, saturated fats and cholesterol, high sugar and processed foods, and low complex carbohydrates and vegetables with GMO, pesticides, and other pollutants is considered a potential causal factor for cancer and should be replaced with a diet with more fruit and vegetables especially raw ones and lesser amounts of nuts and proteins. Researchers are finding that the vegan diet lends itself to reducing several diseases including cancer. A proper diet should also include organic, non-GMO food without growth hormones, pesticides and other pollutants. Good sources of oil should be used such as cold pressed organic olive oil for low or no temp cooking, and coconut oil for high temp cooking. Anti- inflammatory foods and anti oxidants should also be included. Also avoid farm grown fish and seafood, large fish that eat smaller ones and have higher mercury levels and avoid foods that raise the glycemic level in the body. Some physicians believe eliminating inflammation will reduce most diseases and taking anti-inflammatories canl help overcome them. Antioxidants are important because the cells give off waste including free radicals that lead to inflammation and are precursors to disease. The body produces some antioxidants to balance the free radicals but with radiation, processed foods and other contaminants this process cannot keep up so additional ones in food are necessary. .

A last area of interventions to reduce cancer risk are mental/spiritual ones such as prayer, meditation, affirmations, visualization, faith, helping others, compassion, gratitude and others. These were important in my cancer journey with lung cancer 43 years ago when I was given 6 months to live and was offered chemotherapy and surgery which I refused. Instead I used a holistic natural approach.

Although there is no research to support mental/spiritual interventions killing cancer cells there is currently adequate research to show the supplemental role they play. Overall these include reduce blood pressure, heart and breathing rates, improve memory. Increase DHEA, a hormone that reduces aging and decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, by 23%, increase happiness and self esteem, improve immune functioning. Improve tolerance to aches and pains, reduces stress, improves quality of life and others. Specifically. Cancer patients with a sense of purpose have an increased life spam, and those who are spiritual have less pain and a higher quality of life,. Patients who meditate have 31% lower stress symptoms, and 67% less mood disturbances, and music can lower patient’s anxiety, pain, heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. Visualization can improve immune functioning in cancer patients. .More information at: www.HolisticCancerFoundation.com

Carl O Helvie, R.N., Dr.P.H. is a nurse with a doctorate in public health and over 60 years’ experience as a nurse practitioner, educator, author and researcher. He had published 9 books and chapters in 4 additional ones and over 100 international research papers and articles. He has been listed in most national references and Wikipedia. At age 85 he continues hosting the Holistic Health Radio Show, and serving as President of the Carl O Helvie Holistic Cancer Foundation.

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24 Jan

unmedicated

I’m happy to let you know about a new book from my dear friend, Madisyn Taylor, co-founder of DailyOM. It is a gentle and accessible step-by-step guide to moving from excessive reliance on medications to fundamentally healing yourself through four pillars of natural wellness.
Madisyn was plagued by depression and anxiety, suffering from chronic physical problems that left her desperate for solutions. Spending decades searching for answers, she first turned to the medical community, which put her on a rollercoaster course of numerous doctors, tests, and an unhealthy reliance on medications that left her numb and lifeless.

With her happiness and future on the line, she then made the decision to become unmedicated, reaching out to the natural, holistic health realm. And after years of practice and research, Madisyn developed an integrative wellness program that put her back in the driver’s seat of her health, and ultimately, her life.

Unmedicated is her thoughtful account of how she broke free from binding mental chains and physical ailments to be happy, healthy, and productive; it is also a guide for you to apply her practical techniques to your own healing journey. Madisyn offers a daily program of easy-to-follow actions based on four pillars that will build a lifelong foundation for health: clear your mind; strengthen your body; nurture your spirit; and find your tribe.

Whether you want to be happy and stay happy, find relief from depression and anxiety, or heal and create a healthy change, Unmedicated is a gentle, compassionate, and achievable path that empowers you to take back your life and live fully.

Here’s an excerpt:
“Learning to heal myself through natural means, I came to the profound realization that my healing path is a lifelong process. The motivation and desire to be happy and healthy in the most natural way possible stemmed from an authentic part of myself, and it is from this authenticity that real change lasts forever. I also came to discover that healing does not have to be expensive, dramatic, or complicated. Healing can be inexpensive, drama free, and simple.
By “simple” I do not mean easy; though I don’t consider my process difficult by any means, it does take dedication. Most people are looking for a quick fix, or a pill to make their life better, or the next fad diet, or a guru who will change their life forever. People look everywhere outside themselves in order to avoid facing the truth of what is inside. I want to tell you that there is power in simplicity and there is strength in building a foundation from within.
 
I am asking for your time and dedication to do the work. When you do this work and follow the practices, you are declaring to the Universe, “I want this; I am ready.” The Universe will respond in kind. It is in your actions that you speak volumes, and I will tell you from firsthand experience that this works. I teach a healing process involving your entire being-mind, body, and spirit.”
 
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08 Jan

How About Those Resolutions?

ARE YOU KEEPING UP WITH YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS?

A study from the Better Sleep Council says better sleep may be the key to making 2018 goals stick

 

ALEXANDRIA, VA – January 9, 2018 – While it’s no secret Americans struggle each year to keep their New Year’s resolutions, one key toward helping them stick to their goals may be right on their pillows. Sleep.

 

“Adding better sleep to your list of New Year’s resolutions can make it easier to reach some of the other goals on your list, whether that’s exercise, getting fit, or even losing weight,” says Lissa Coffey, a lifestyle expert and BSC spokesperson. “It seems so simple, but getting adequate rest can positively impact every other part of your life. When you’re well rested, it’s easier to choose healthier foods and to feel energized to exercise.”

 

According to a new survey from the Better Sleep Council (BSC), the nonprofit consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association, 45% of Americans who make 2018 resolutions don’t make much of an effort to keep them and of this 45%, about 9 million Americans won’t make any effort at all. Key findings from this survey suggest sleep may be the resolution that helps Americans stay on track with their top goals in 2018.

 

A majority of respondents (88%) considered making New Year’s resolutions. Based on the survey, these resolutions included:

  • 53% – Exercise more/get fit
  • 49% – Get/stay fit and healthy
  • 46% – Lose weight
  • 42% – Spend less, save more
  • 37% – Enjoy life to the fullest
  • 31% – Get organized
  • 28% – Start a budget
  • 27% – Spend more time with family and friends
  • 19% – Read more
  • 19% – Learn a new hobby
  • 14% – Stop smoking
  • 8% – Cut back on alcohol

 

Of those 88%, 27% picked getting more/better sleep. Additionally, those who reported that they wanted more sleep/better sleep as one their resolutions also reported other health-related goals, including exercising more (69%) and staying fit and healthy (68%), which were the top two selected New Year’s resolutions overall.

 

Also, Americans surveyed who wanted to prioritize sleep in 2018 planned to do so by getting to bed earlier (65%), maintaining a consistent bedtime (62%), and having new nighttime routines (53%). Almost half of those surveyed said they also plan to upgrade their sleep environment by purchasing a new mattress or other bed-related items.

To sleep more soundly – and make health a priority in the New Year – the Better Sleep Council offers these suggestions:

  • Make daily sleep appointments. Develop a routine in which you go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day. Don’t let social media or work distract you, and when it’s bedtime, go to sleep no matter what.
  • Create a great bed for great sleep. If you’re not waking up refreshed every day, it’s time to examine your mattress and decide if you need a new one.
  • Keep it cool, even in the winter. A comfortable sleeping temperature is between 65 and 67 degrees, so turn on an air conditioner or lower the thermostat before bed to make the room right for you.
  • Try yoga. Practice yoga before bed to de-stress after your day, relax your muscles and bring your body to a restful state before hitting the hay.

 

For more information on getting better sleep, visit http://bettersleep.org/better-sleep/how-to-sleep-better/.

 

About the BSC
The Better Sleep Council is the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association, the trade association for the mattress industry. With decades invested in improving sleep quality, the BSC educates consumers on the link between sleep and health, and the role of the sleep environment, primarily through
www.bettersleep.org, partner support and consumer outreach.

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