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Wellness

Supporting your friends when the going gets tough

Mental health is a very large umbrella term, and it incorporates all sorts of different things. Think of it as an equivalent term to cancer. There are many different types of cancers, and each affects the mind, body and soul different. Well, so do the different types of mental illness. Just because you can’t see a lump or a scar, it doesn’t mean they are not there.

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Do you need some guidance on supporting a friend through a tough time?

Then read on for three scenarios, and how you can be the best friend possible.

Supporting a friendIMAGE SOURCE

If your friend… is suffering from a mental health problem

Mental health is a very large umbrella term, and it incorporates all sorts of different things. Think of it as an equivalent term to cancer. There are many different types of cancers, and each affects the mind, body and soul different. Well, so do the different types of mental illness. Just because you can’t see a lump or a scar, it doesn’t mean they are not there. People suffering from mental illnesses worry greatly about how they will be perceived by others. They also worry that they will be judged, or thought badly of. This is why one of the best things you can do in this scenario is to make it clear that you think no less of them. This goes for whether or not you spots signs and symptoms and bring it up with them, or if they come to you. Whichever, make sure you are available for them 24/7 while they work their way through it. They may need a hug or a cry, but they may just want to go for a coffee. Let them know you’re available to support them however they want, whenever it is they want it.

If your friend… is drinking too much

It can be tricky to tell the difference between enjoying a drink, binge-drinking, and impending alcoholism. While a touchy and delicate subject, it is part of your responsibility to watch out for these things. After all, too much alcohol can cause things from blood poisoning to blackouts to addiction. Similarly, if your friend comes to you have spotted a problem themselves, they will need your help and support more than ever to quit.

When it comes to how to stop drinking alcohol, different things work for different people. As well as providing your friend with solutions, you must reassure them that it’s okay if it doesn’t work straight away. It may take a period of trial and error until they find a technique or method that helps them.

If your friend… is struggling in their relationship

If your friend is having trouble with their relationship or love life, there is probably not much you can do to help. After all, a relationship is between two people, not two people and a best friend. With this in mind, the most valuable thing you can do for your friend is to listen to them. Give advice if you feel like you have something valuable to offer, and if they seem receptive. Do remember, though, when listening to them and giving advice, to be careful. Even if they are ranting and raving about their partner, keep an eye on what you say. If they make up with them, they will probably forget what they said to you. However, they might not forget what you said. Agree with their sentiments if you wish, but don’t let your own rant take over. It could make for some awkward dinner parties further down the line otherwise.

A registered nurse, “Ching” – as many fondly call Rachelle Grace – believes that a holistic approach to health and wellness is what everyone should aim for. She is, therefore, always on the lookout for what could help achieve this. And yes, she shares them openly, believing “knowledge about what works won’t be much use if it’s not known by as many as possible”.

Wellness

Top 5 heat tips for those with medical-based heat intolerance

Prolonged exposure to routine summer weather is a persistent issue for those with chronic diseases. But the recent record-breaking temperatures are causing ripple effects, sparking symptom flareups, inflammation, and debilitating fatigue.

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Photo by Raphaël Biscaldi from Unsplash.com

The current and seemingly relentless heat waves are dangerous to a growing, but often overlooked community, people with medically-caused heat intolerance, often associated with neurological and autoimmune diseases.

Prolonged exposure to routine summer weather is a persistent issue for those with chronic diseases. But the recent record-breaking temperatures are causing ripple effects, sparking symptom flareups, inflammation, and debilitating fatigue.

“The general public doesn’t really understand what fatigue means,” said Kim Klein, 63. “It causes overwhelming brain fog and I can’t think straight — it gets the best of me. Trying to stay ahead of my multiple sclerosis-related fatigue is the best thing I can do.”

“Extreme heat unfortunately impacts Kim Klein and many of our clients disproportionately,” says Kurtis Kracke, ThermApparel CEO. “But people without chronic disease need to be vigilant as well since many common medications for blood pressure, allergies, and depression, are compounding these issues for all of us. This is a recipe for disaster.”

ThermApparel’s Top Five Tips to Battle Unprecedented Heat Waves:

  1. Limit your exposure: reduce activity, stay indoors, find air conditioning, drink fluids, avoid caffeine, and liquor.
  2. Using a cooling vest can reduce symptom flareups, shorten fatigue, and increase recovery times.
  3. Inflammation and fatigue are your worst enemies: If you must be active, know that heat can aggravate inflammation, and increase corresponding fatigue.
  4. Understand your medications and which can increase your risk to heat-related illness: antidepressants, blood pressure meds, antihistamines, etc.
  5. Know that when it is over 85 degrees, your heart is working double or triple than normal to cool your body down.
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Fitness

Study finds moderate-vigorous physical activity is the most efficient at improving fitness

Dedicated exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) was the most efficient at improving fitness. Specifically, exercise was three times more efficient than walking alone and more than 14 times more efficient than reducing the time spent sedentary. Additionally, they found that the greater time spent exercising and higher steps/day could partially offset the negative effects of being sedentary in terms of physical fitness.

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In the largest study performed to date to understand the relationship between habitual physical activity and physical fitness, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that higher amount of time spent performing exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) and low-moderate level activity (steps) and less time spent sedentary, translated to greater physical fitness.

“By establishing the relationship between different forms of habitual physical activity and detailed fitness measures, we hope that our study will provide important information that can ultimately be used to improve physical fitness and overall health across the life course,” explained corresponding author Matthew Nayor, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM.

He and his team studied approximately 2,000 participants from the community-based Framingham Heart Study who underwent comprehensive cardiopulmonary exercise tests (CPET) for the “gold standard” measurement of physical fitness. Physical fitness measurements were associated with physical activity data obtained through accelerometers (device that measures frequency and intensity of human movement) that were worn for one week around the time of CPET and approximately eight years earlier.

They found dedicated exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) was the most efficient at improving fitness. Specifically, exercise was three times more efficient than walking alone and more than 14 times more efficient than reducing the time spent sedentary. Additionally, they found that the greater time spent exercising and higher steps/day could partially offset the negative effects of being sedentary in terms of physical fitness.

According to the researchers, while the study was focused on the relationship of physical activity and fitness specifically (rather than any health-related outcomes), fitness has a powerful influence on health and is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and premature death. “Therefore, improved understanding of methods to improve fitness would be expected to have broad implications for improved health,” said Nayor, a cardiologist at Boston Medical Center.

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Fitness

Tips to avoid common running injuries

Injuries are very common among runners. Recent research estimates that 82% of runners will become injured during their running career and up to 90% will experience injury while training for a marathon. Some of the most common include a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, hamstring tendinitis, ankle sprain, runners’ knee, and Achilles’ tendonitis.

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Photo by Malik Skydsgaard from Unsplash.com

Whether training for a marathon or preparing for your first community race, being knocked off course with pain can be hard to handle mentally and physically.

Injuries are very common among runners. Recent research estimates that 82% of runners will become injured during their running career and up to 90% will experience injury while training for a marathon. Some of the most common include a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, hamstring tendinitis, ankle sprain, runners’ knee, and Achilles’ tendonitis.

Injury prevention is critical. Here are some safety tips from Dr. Joshua Blomgren, a 15-time Chicago Marathon team physician and sports medicine physician, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush:

Don’t over-train

Don’t increase weekly mileage or intensity by more than 10 percent each week. Build up slowly and let a good training schedule determine how much you run.

Invest in good shoes

Go to a specialty running shop to be properly fitted for running shoes and/or orthotics. Replace them every 350-500 miles. Incorrect shoes can affect your gait, leading to injuries in your feet, legs, knees, or hips.

Choose the best running surface

Look for running surfaces that absorb shock. Opt for asphalt over concrete. Find grass or dirt trails, especially for higher mileage. Avoid uneven surfaces and seek paths with slow curves.

Stretch!

Training causes tight muscles, leading to strain and changes in your gait. Commit to a stretching program. Just 5 -10 minutes after each workout can make a big difference.

Strengthen muscles

Runners have tight hip flexors because their quads are overtrained. Strengthen your hamstrings and glutes to reduce chance of injury and abductors, adductors, and core to create stability.

Watch out for heel striking

Heel striking occurs when your feet land in front of you and your heel hits the ground first. This is common among new runners but can lead to injuries such as shin splints, stress fractures, and joint pain. Land mid-sole with your foot directly underneath your body.

Prioritize posture

Good form means staying upright and keeping your shoulders back and relaxed. Work core exercises into your training and do posture checks every so often. Hold your head right above your shoulders and hips.

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