Choose Music for Self-Care

Choose Music for Self-Care

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted February 26, 2017

Why Choose Music for Self-Care?

Historically, music plays a central role in human development. Scientists believe that people may have started to sing as soon as language developed.

Hunting tools may have been the first musical instruments. By about 10,000 B.C., people had discovered how to make flutes out of hollow bones. The first written music dates from about 2500 B.C.

Many ancient cultures, including the Chinese and Egyptians, used music in religious ceremonies. The Greeks used instrumental and vocal music in athletic games and in dramatic performances.

Musicians and musical instruments appear in many ancient works of art. For example, the kithara, an instrument of the lyre family, was an important stringed instrument of Greece. The Greeks believed that music played on the kithara had a healthful calming effect on listeners.

Today, you may choose to use certain kinds of music in your everyday life to experience calm and relief from stress. For example, you can learn to think of music as a helper in specific situations. All you need is willingness. You do not need to know how to play a musical instrument or even how to carry a tune.

Ten Ways to Choose Music for Everyday Self-Care

  • Attend a concert or musical program in your local community.
  • Introduce children to music from your childhood.
  • Listen to relaxing music for restful sleep.
  • Listen to music that helps you to cry when grieving.
  • Listen to music that brightens your mood and gives you hope in life.
  • Sample types of music with CDs, tapes, or records from your public library.
  • Serenade your partner with love songs.
  • Sing lullabies to your children.
  • Sing or dance along together for friendship.
  • Sing while cooking or cleaning or gardening.

For more information about how you might use music in your everyday living, see the Selected Information Resources following this blog post.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

Cunico, Evelyn. Choir Singing and Health. CHIME Consumer Health: Consumer Health Information Made Easy.
Posted December 23, 2014.
Summary Note: Selected list of physical, social, and emotional health benefits of choir singing. Selected References include links to clinical trial studies providing evidence that choir singing affects heart rate, blood pressure, and mood.
(Accessed 19 February 2017)

Hemingway, Colette. The Kithara in Ancient Greece. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. October 2002.
Summary Note: Relying on ancient artwork, author describes the kithara and the bodily position of the musician while playing the instrument. Author explains that by the end of the Seventh Century, B.C., the kithara played a major role in Greek public performances.
(Accessed 26 February 2017)

National Institutes of Health. Strike a Chord for Health. Music Matters for Body and Mind. NIH News in Health. January 2010.
Summary Note: Lists everyday Musical Activities, such as singing or dancing, that are healthy for body and mind. Neuroscientists discuss brain imaging techniques showing that music activates brain regions that have implications for treatment of patients with autism, depression, dementia, heart disease, or stroke.
(Accessed 19 February 2017)

National Institutes of Health. More than a Feeling. How the Arts Affect Your Health. NIH News in Health. June 2008.
Summary Note: Suggests particular Arts, such as dance classes, drawing, listening to music, or writing to reduce stress and improve quality of life.
(Accessed 19 February 2017)

Nemours Foundation. Kids Health. Music and Your School Aged Child. Reasons to Love Music.
Summary Note: Presents ideas on how parents can fill their child’s life with regular singing and music playing for fun and for mental and social development.
(Accessed 19 February 2017)

Ruud, Even, Professor. Can Music Serve as a Cultural Immunogen? An Explorative Study. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being. 2013 August 7; 8:20597.
Summary Note: Six narratives (personal stories) comprise interviews with persons who share how they used their own memories of music as a way to immunize (protect) their health. Author discusses how music can serve a range of everyday needs, such as feelings of well-being or alertness or relaxation.
(Full Text accessed 19 February 2017)

The World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book, Inc., 2015. Vol. 4 Entry: Classical Music History and Vol.13 Entry: Music. Print edition.
Summary Note: Illustrated general encyclopedia with authoritative information written in plain language. Music entries trace history from Antiquity (before 500 A.D.) through today.
(Accessed 19 February 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be an Informed Consumer: Use Multimedia to Know the Science

Be an Informed Consumer: Use Multimedia to Know the Science

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted January 26, 2017

Background

Understanding complex scientific concepts often requires specialized knowledge based on higher academic degrees and years of professional experience. However, basic scientific concepts are easier to understand.

Your desire to learn the science behind consumer health, with the guidance of multimedia instruction, can develop your scientific literacy to improve your personal healthcare decision-making.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is the Federal Government lead agency focusing on the study of the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative interventions.

When you visit the NCCIH web page titled, Be an Informed Consumer, you will find many health information resources to help you to Know the Science behind health research.

For example, the NCCIH web page includes a video titled, What is a Placebo?

Get Informed Video: What is a Placebo?

In the video titled, What is a Placebo? Q and A with Ted Kaptchuk, M.D., a medical doctor discuses The Therapeutic Encounter between the clinician and the patient in terms of the Placebo Effect.

In this eight-minute video, Doctor Kaptchuk talks in plain language about the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. You will learn that a Placebo is usually a sugar pill. The Placebo Effect is about how you experience and react to things, such as symptoms and complaints.

In general, the Placebo Effect, also called the Placebo Response, has been defined as the benefit that patients receive from a treatment that has no active components.

What is The Therapeutic Encounter?

The Therapeutic Encounter is about how your doctor and you interact. If you feel hope and trust during your interaction, it is more likely that you will experience a Placebo Effect of relief from symptoms such as, anxiety, depression, headache, insomnia, nausea, or pain.

Of course, conventional prescription drugs, procedures, and surgery are crucial to treating many medical conditions. For example, Placebo Effects will not shrink a tumor or lower cholesterol.

However, a critical part of all health care is the thoughtfulness and caring that the clinician (for example, the doctor, nurse, allied health professional, or complementary health practitioner) communicates to the patient.

Find a Caring Clinician

The bottom line advice of this video is that you should try to find a clinician with whom you are comfortable, according to Doctor Kaptchuk. Finding a clinician whom you trust is one way to take charge of your own healthcare.

For more information on how to Be an Informed Consumer, see Selected Information Resources that follow this blog post.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Be an Informed Consumer.
Summary Note: Fact sheets, videos, and slides that can help you to think critically about issues such as effectiveness and safety, when considering complementary healthcare approaches.
(Accessed 21 January 2017)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Know the Science. Know, Discover, Get Informed: Videos. What is a Placebo? Placebo Effect. Q & A with Ted Kaptchuk, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School.
Summary Note: Eight-minute video discusses how the interpersonal style of a clinician may bring about a positive response called a Placebo Effect that is independent of any specific treatment.
(Accessed 23 January 2017)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Know the Science. The Facts about Health News Stories
Summary Note: Series of 12 slides present examples of health news stories. You are asked to answer what is missing from each news story. Answers are provided. One slide is a checklist of questions to help you to understand health news stories.
(Accessed 23 January 2017)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Know the Science. Nine Questions to Help You Make Sense of Scientific Research
Summary Note: Series of 10 slides help you to understand the information you may find in a scientific journal article, such as the Abstract, Methods, and Results. Defines basic, translational, and clinical research. Explains difference between statistical and clinical significance. Encourages joint decision-making with your clinician.
(Accessed 23 January 2017)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Know the Science. Understanding Drug-Supplement Interactions Test Your Knowledge.
Summary Note: Series of 13 slides asks you true or false and multiple choice questions, followed by correct answers, about your understanding of interactions between dietary supplements and prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Includes advice on how to avoid problems if you are going to have surgery.
(Accessed 23 January 2017)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Study Examines the Placebo Response in Patients with Asthma. NCCIH Spotlight, July 15, 2011.
Summary Note: Study of 40 asthma patients sheds light on the Placebo Effect on subjective and objective outcome measures in clinical trials. Data showed that only treatment with an albuterol medication inhaler improved lung function and relieved the symptomatic distress caused by the restricted movement of air. However, patients’ self-reports on their symptoms showed significant and approximately equal improvement with albuterol, a placebo inhaler, and sham acupuncture.
See citation for this study published in The New England Journal of Medicine at Wechsler and others, in this blog list of Selected Information Resources.
(Accessed 24 January 2017)

National Public Radio. One Scholar’s Take on the Power of the Placebo. Transcript of radio interview, January 06, 2012.
Summary Note: Discussion of potential applications for the healing power of trust and emotional support between clinician and patient. Interview with Ted Kaptchuk, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Director, Program in Placebo Studies and The Therapeutic Encounter, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.
(Accessed 23 January 2017)

Wechsler, Michael E., M.D., John M. Kelley, Ph.D., Ingrid O.E. Boyd, M.P.H., Stefanie Dutlie, B.S., Gautham Marigowda, M.B., Irving Kirsch, Ph.D., Elliot Israel, M.D., and Ted J. Kaptchuk. Active Albuterol or Placebo, Sham Acupuncture, or No Intervention in Asthma . The New England Journal of Medicine. 2011 July 14; 365(2): 119-126.
Summary Note: The New England Journal of Medicine author manuscript is available in PubMed Central 2012 January 14. In this blog list of Selected Information Resources, also see Summary Note for NCCIH. Study Examines the Placebo Response in Patients with Asthma.
(Full Text accessed 25 January 2017)

 

 

 

Sleep Well to Stay Healthy and Safe

Sleep Well to Stay Healthy and Safe

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted December 22, 2016

Background

Sleeping is a basic human need, like breathing, eating, and drinking. Yet, sleep is often the first thing that busy people limit in their daily routines.

A common myth is that people can learn to get by on little sleep with no negative effects. However, scientific research shows that getting enough high-quality sleep at the right times is vital for physical health, mental health, and safety.

Sleep enhances your quality of life. With seven to eight hours of sound sleep each night, you may find that you are happier and more productive during your day.

Your Guide to Healthy Sleep

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) offers a free online guide called, In Brief: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep
The Guide explains why sleep is good for you, and why skimping on sleep is not healthy.

Physical Health

Your body and brain stay active during sleep. For example, sleep helps to repair and heal your heart and blood vessels. When you do not sleep enough, that sleep deficiency increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, obesity, and stroke.

Hormones released during sleep control your body’s use of energy. Scientific studies show that the less sleep people get, the more people prefer eating foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates, which may lead to obesity.

Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. When you routinely do not get enough sleep, your body’s sugar level becomes higher than normal, which may result in diabetes.

Getting too little sleep can also change the way in which your immune system responds. Your immune system defends your body against harmful substances. So, for example, if you get too little sleep, you may have trouble fighting common infections.

Sleep also supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps to repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults.

Mental and Emotional Health

While you are sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. During sleep, your brain is forming new pathways to help you to learn and to remember information.

In addition to improving learning, sleep helps you to pay attention, to make decisions, and to be creative.

Sleep also affects your mood, according to the NHLBI. For example, children and teens who do not get enough sleep may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation.

Scientific studies show that getting enough high-quality sleep changes the activity in some parts of the brain. Sleep helps you to control your emotions, to manage your behavior, and to cope with change.

Safety – What is Micro-Sleep?

What is micro-sleep, and why do you need to know about it? During the daytime, you may experience brief moments of sleep when you are normally awake. These brief moments of sleep, caused by lack of high-quality sleep overnight, are called, micro-sleep, according to the NHLBI.

You may not always be aware when you are micro-sleeping. For example, you may have driven somewhere and then not remembered part of the trip. Or, if you are listening to a lecture, you might miss some of the information or feel that you do not understand the point being made by the person who is speaking. Instead, you may have slept briefly through a part of the lecture.

To some extent, you can control micro-sleep by getting enough sleep. Or, if you know that you have not slept enough, you can learn to become more aware of micro-sleep risks and then take steps to protect yourself and others.

For example, drowsy drivers may feel capable of driving. Yet, studies show that sleep deficiency harms your driving ability as much as, or more than, being drunk. It is estimated that driver sleepiness is a factor in about 100,000 car accidents each year, resulting in about 1,500 deaths.

At first, it may seem strange to extend the warning, Do Not Drink and Drive, to the thought, Do Not Sleep and Drive. But, if you think about this before you drive, you might plan for safety. For example, on your driving route, you might plan to visit a transportation rest stop, or take time for a coffee break, or listen to upbeat music in your car.

Six tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

  • Plan and keep a schedule. Go to bed at a set time each night and get up at the same time each morning. If you are in the habit of sleeping later on weekends, plan an activity that will encourage you to get up at your weekday time. For example, you might plan to read a book, or write in a journal, or prepare breakfast with your spouse.
  • Sleep until sunlight. If possible, wake up with the sun. If this is not possible, use bright lights in the morning. Sunlight helps your body’s internal biological clock reset itself each day.
  • Exercise. Try to exercise for 30 minutes each day. If your schedule does not allow for 30 minutes at one time, space your exercise into two fifteen minutes sessions. Studies have shown that daily exercise helps people to sleep at night.
  • Stop smoking and limit drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol. Smokers sometimes wake up in the early morning due to nicotine withdrawal. Caffeine acts as a stimulant to keep you awake. Alcohol keeps people in lighter stages of sleep.
  • Relax before bed. With practice, you can train yourself to associate certain restful activities with sleep and make them a part of your bedtime ritual. For example, you could take a warm bath or read or listen to calming music.
  • Make an appointment to talk with your medical doctor. See the NHLBI website called, How to Discuss Sleep with Your Doctor, in the Selected Information Resources that follow this blog post.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or to treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Division of Population Health. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Sleep and Sleep Disorders.
Summary Note: CDC Sleep Home Page. Data, statistics, and other resources to promote science-based public policies that improve the sleep health of the U.S. population. Consumer links include Key Sleep Disorders and Sleep Hygiene Tips.
(Accessed 20 December 2016)

Christensen, Matthew A., Laura Bettencourt, Leanne Kaye, Sai T. Moturu, Kaylin T. Nguyen, Jeffrey E. Olgin, Mark J. Pletcher, and Gregory M. Marcus. Direct Measurements of Smartphone Screen-Time: Relationships with Demographics and Sleep. PLoS One. Published online 2016 November 09. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0165331.
Summary Note: Health e-Heart Study of 650 adults measured frequency of smartphone use and compared it to demographics and sleep quality. Study shows that exposure to smartphone screens around bedtime may negatively impact sleep. Study builds on previous research showing that back-lit technologies may lead to non-restorative sleep.
(Accessed Full Text 2016 December 13)

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Mayo Clinic. Healthy Lifestyle. Stress Management. Going the Distance. Surviving the Holidays. Blog posted by Edward T. Creagan, M.D. December 18, 2015.
Summary Note: Medical doctor offers Holiday Season stress management tips, such as, restorative sleep.
(Accessed 05 December 2016)

National Sleep Foundation. Lifestyle.
Summary Note: National Sleep Foundation Lifestyle section includes articles that help consumers to learn healthy sleep behaviors. Topic examples include, How to Sleep Well When Traveling, and How to Deal with Different Sleep Routines. For health professionals, National Sleep Foundation peer-reviewed journal titled, Sleep Health, is available by subscription.
(Accessed 22 December 2016)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth.org. All About Sleep.
Summary Note: Discusses topics related to sleep safety and health. Topics are organized by the child’s age, from infancy to teens. Available in English and Spanish. Icon allows sending information by email to a friend or family member.
(Accessed 05 December 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Relaxation Techniques for Health.
Summary Note: Discussion of Relaxation Techniques for Health, including what the science says about the effectiveness, safety, and side effects of relaxation techniques. Includes brief discussion of insomnia and stragegies for getting a good night’s sleep.
(Accessed 13 December 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Sleep Disorders: In Depth.
Summary Note: Information on the usefulness and safety of complementary approaches for sleep disorders. Discusses Mind and Body Practices and Dietary Supplements. Includes Section, titled, Is It a Sleep Disorder or Not Enough Sleep?
(Accessed 13 December 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). In Brief: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep .
Summary Note: NHLBI consumer guide discusses importance of sleep in terms of daily performance, mood, health, and safety. Includes a section called, Could You Have a Sleep Disorder?
(Accessed 05 December 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). How to Discuss Sleep with Your Doctor.
Summary Note: Ask yourself these questions before you talk with your doctor about your sleep habits.
(Accessed 13 December 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Why is Sleep Important?
Summary Note: Discusses sleep in terms of daily emotional, physical, and mental needs. Links to how much sleep is enough and strategies for getting to sleep.
(Accessed 13 December 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.
Summary Note: Discusses the five stages of sleep from Stage One to REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Includes
Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep.
(Accessed 05 December 2016)

 

Explore Spirituality as a Stress Management Skill

Explore Spirituality as a Stress Management Skill

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted November 02, 2016

Background

Sometimes, persons express their spirituality as part of a religious practice or as a belief in a Higher Power. Other times, spirituality is experienced as a response to art, nature, music, or a secular community of persons.

Spirituality is often found by getting in touch with your inner self. A key part is self-reflection. Slowing down your mind and body to self-reflect often helps to relieve stress.

Ten Tips to Explore Spirituality

Here are ten tips on how you can explore your spirituality to help manage stress and become more peaceful.

  • Focus your thoughts on the people and activities that are important to you.
  • Write in a journal to express your feelings.
  • If possible, talk with someone you trust about your beliefs.
  • Visit your public library to find inspirational stories or books.
  • Arrange time with family and friends.
  • Accept yourself and others without judgment.
  • Walk in the woods and experience the silence.
  • Listen to relaxing music and imagine yourself in motion with the sound.
  • Visit an art museum and enjoy experiencing a painting or a sculpture.
  • Eat mindfully, with others or by yourself, tasting and slowly enjoying your food.

For more information on spirituality and stress management, see Selected Information Resources that follow this blog post.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

Anandarajah, G and Hight, E.  Spirituality and Medical Practice: Using the HOPE Questions as a Practical Tool for Spiritual Assessment. American Family Physician. 2001 January 1; 63(1):81-9.
Summary Note: Describes a spiritual assessment tool as a way to begin incorporating spirituality into medical practice. Suggests questions that a medical doctor may ask a patient, based on hope, organized religion, personal spirituality, and effects on medical care. Free American Family Physician (AFP) Full Text link from PubMed abstract page.
(Abstract and Full Text accessed 10 October 2016)

Greeson, JM, Webber, DM, Smoski, MJ, Brantley, JG, Ekblad, AG, Suarez, EC, and Wolever, RQ. Changes in Spirituality Partly Explain Health-related Quality of Life Outcomes after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Journal of Behavioral Medicine 2011 December; 34(6):508-518.
Summary Note: Observational trial study of more than 200 adults participating in 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program found that daily spiritual experiences may be part of a key mechanism underlying mental health benefits. Full Text HHS Public Access.
(Full Text accessed 10 October 2016)

Levin, J. Prevalence and Religious Predictors of Healing Prayer Use in the USA: Findings from the Baylor Religion Survey. Journal of Religion and Health. 2016 August; 55(4):1136-58.
Summary Note: Study investigated prevalence and religious predictors of healing prayer use among U.S. adults. Higher scores were associated with more frequent healing prayer. Full Text available on subscription from Springer.
(Abstract accessed 10 October 2016)

Mayo Clinic Staff. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Healthy Lifestyle. Stress Management. Spirituality and Stress Relief: Make the Connection
Summary Note: Discusses spirituality as a stress management skill. Suggests self-discovery questions that can clarify personal value and life purpose.
(Accessed 10 October 2016)

National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute. PDQ® (Physician Data Query) Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board. PDQ®  Spirituality in Cancer Care – Patient Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated May 18, 2015.
Summary Note: PDQ® Spirituality in Cancer Care summary provides information about religion and spirituality as coping approaches. Describes a spiritual assessment approach to help medical doctors understand patient beliefs about their care.
(Accessed 10 October 2016)

Nemours Foundation. How Can Spirituality Affect Your Family’s Health?
Summary Note: Discusses spirituality as a family coping approach during difficult decision making.
(Accessed 10 October 2016)

 

Breathing Exercises Calm Mind and Body

Breathing Exercises Calm Mind and Body

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MSLIS
Posted on October 02, 2016

Background

How can you calm your mind and your body to help manage the stress of everyday life challenges?

Be Aware.
The first step is to learn to be aware that you are feeling stress. For example, if you feel tension in your neck or shoulders, be aware that you are feeling stress.

Choose.
The second step is to choose a way to manage your stress. For example, if possible, choose to avoid the event that leads to your stress. If you cannot avoid the event, make a decision to change the way you react to stress.

Practice.
The third step is to practice your new reaction to stress before you experience a stressful event. For example, just as you may schedule 30 minutes of physical exercise into your day, set aside 15 minutes of each day to practice slow, focused breathing.

Practice is Key to Success

There is no single, correct approach for activating the body’s Relaxation Response or using any other mind body technique, according to Herbert Benson, M.D., Mind Body Medical Institute Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Director Emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

For example, some persons do not enjoy being still, so they might prefer focused breathing while doing yoga exercises. However, whichever technique you choose, you must regularly practice that technique to gain benefits.

The goal is to break the train of everyday thoughts, so that your mind and body can relax, according to Benson.

Relaxation Response

Following are steps that can activate the Relaxation Response, a phrase that Benson created in the 1970s to identify the body’s physiological reaction that is opposite to the stress (fight or flight) response.

  • Select a word, a sound, a short prayer, a phrase, or an image, or focus only on your breathing during the exercise.
  • Sit comfortably in a quiet place and close your eyes.
  • Breathe slowly and naturally. As you exhale, repeat or picture silently your word or phrase, or just focus on your breathing.
  • If you keep thinking of other things, do not judge yourself for this, but just return to your focus word and your breath.
  • Continue to repeat these steps for ten to twenty minutes.
  • Practice this exercise once or twice daily.

When practicing this exercise, these are the two most important things to remember, according to Benson:

  • Repetition
  • Letting go of other thoughts

For more information, see the Selected Information Resources that follow this blog.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians. Stress: How to Cope Better with Life’s Challenges
Summary Note: Tips and exercise steps for managing stress
(Accessed 22 September 2016)

Benson, Herbert, M.D. and William Proctor, J.D. The Relaxation Revolution: Enhancing Your Personal Health through the Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 2010.
Summary Note: Book highlights scientific evidence that the mind can restructure thinking processes to expect good health, and that the expectation, in turn, influences the body to change its genetic activity in a healthful direction.

Benson, Herbert, M.D. with Marg Stark. Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1996.
Summary Note: Chapter 6: The Relaxation Response

Cunico, Evelyn, M.A., M.S. Meditation: Resources for Stress Management. CHIME Consumer Health. November 2014.
Summary Note: Blog identifies resources on the history of meditation, scientific research on meditation, and meditation features, such as relaxed breathing. References link to the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health.
(Accessed 25 September 2016)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Relaxation Techniques for Health. Summary Note: Describes relaxation techniques that science researchers have evaluated to find whether the techniques might help to manage a variety of stated health conditions. Includes References and consumer information about NIH Clinical Research Trials.
(Accessed 22 September 2016)

National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Relaxation Techniques for Stress.
Summary Note: Patient instructions on simple ways to relax, including breathing slowly, biofeedback, progressive relaxation, yoga, and tai chi. Emphasizes the importance of regular, frequent practice.
(Accessed 07 September 2016)

Nemours Foundation. TeensHealth. Yoga: Meditation and Breathing
Summary Note: Explains that meditation and focused breathing are important parts of yoga. Practical step-by-step breathing approaches, with or without yoga. Encourages visualization and daily breathing exercises to develop calmness and self-assurance.
(Accessed 24 September 2016)

 

 

 

 

 

Family Health Websites

Family Health Websites

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MSLIS
Posted September 04, 2016

Family Health Websites from MedlinePlus

Early fall is the start of a new school year, which is a good time to learn new things and to remind yourself and your family of things you already know. This month, CHIME Consumer Health highlights a few of the many authoritative family health websites from the U.S. National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus Healthy Living topic page.

Five Minutes (or Less) for Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Summary Note: Health tips, such as how to wash hands, how to keep food safe, how to know asthma triggers, and how to learn the signs of developmental problems. Also includes sections on One Minute or Less for Health, and More than Five Minutes for Health.

Supertracker: My Foods. My Fitness. My Health.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Summary Note: Interactive tools to help track daily diet and physical activities. Offers weight management guidance by tracking weight goals and progress over time. Includes interactive tool to create a profile with a personalized plan.

Kids: Passing On Healthy Habits to Your Children
American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)
Summary Note: Suggestions for parents to set a good example by choosing healthy nutrition and avoiding drugs. Encourages parents to ask their family doctor for information and facts to help children understand sexuality in terms of love, intimacy, respect, and safety.

How Can Spirtuality Affect Your Family’s Health?
Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth.
Summary Note: Discusses studies linking spirituality with physical and mental health through social support and a philosophy based on purposeful living.

Disability and Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD).
Summary Note: Clarifies that having a disability does not mean that a person with a disability is not healthy or cannot be healthy. Offers tips for leading a long and healthy life. Discusses ways to stay well, active, and a part of the community.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Information Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians. Kids: Passing On Healthy Habits to Your Children
(Accessed 03 September 2016)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Five Minutes (or Less) for Health
(Accessed 01 September 2016)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Disability and Health
(Accessed 03 September 2016)

National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus Healthy Living
(Accessed 01 September 2016)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth. How Can Spirituality Affect Your Family’s Health?
(Accessed 03 September 2016)

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Supertracker: My Foods. My Fitness. My Health.
(Accessed 02 September 2016)

 

Drink Water for Good Health

Drink Water for Good Health

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MSLIS
Posted 29 August 2016

Why Water is Important

Water makes up more than two-thirds of your body weight. A person cannot live without water for more than a few days.

Here are ten important ways that water helps to keep you healthy:

  • Your blood, which contains a lot of water, carries oxygen to all cells and organs in your body.
  • Water makes up saliva.
  • Water lubricates your joints.
  • Water in tears helps to keep your eyes moist and clean for clear vision.
  • Water in sweat regulates your body temperature.
  • Water helps to digest your food.
  • Water flushes out toxins, as it gets rid of waste through urine and poop.
  • Water is in lymph (pronounce, limf), a fluid that contains white blood cells that defend against germs.
  • Water provides a moist environment for your ear, nose, and throat tissues.
  • Water helps to prevent fatigue, keeping you physically and mentally alert.

How Much Water Should You Drink Everyday

The advice, “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day,” is easy to remember. The rule should be phrased as, “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day,” because all fluids count toward the daily total, according to Mayo Clinic staff.

Food, such as fruits and vegetables, provides about 20 percent of total water intake. In addition, beverages such as milk and juice are made up mostly of water. However, water is your best choice for the following reasons:

  • Water is calorie-free.
  • Water is less expensive than other drinks.
  • Water is usually readily available.

Drink Water to Prevent Dehydration

  • Drink a glass of water with each meal and between each meal.
  • Drink water before, during, and after exercise.
  • The time to drink water is before you are really thirsty. So, drink plenty of fluids every day, especially when the weather is hot.
  • If you or family or friends have a fever, or are vomiting, or have diarrhea, drink plenty of fluids to make up the water that your body is losing.

Take Action

The National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia cautions, DO NOT WAIT for signs of dehydration to take action. Actively prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water.

Here are some signs of dehydration:

  • Not urinating much, or urine that is dark yellow
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Extreme thirst
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability or confusion

If you experience signs of dehydration, call your medical doctor or other healthcare provider. For severe dehydration or heat emergency, you may need to stay in a hospital and receive fluid through a vein (IV). The health care provider will also treat the cause of the dehydration.

Cut Calories: Rethink Your Drink

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a free brochure called, Rethink Your Drink. The brochure talks about how you can cut calories in your diet by drinking water, instead of other drinks. For example, calories in 12 ounces of fruit punch equal 192, and calories in 12 ounces of a sports drink equal 99, and calories in 12 ounces of water equal zero.

When reading a food nutrition label, notice that sweeteners go by different names:

  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose

The CDC brochure includes a section called, Better Choices Made Easy. For example, follow these choose-water tips:

  • For a quick, easy, and inexpensive thirst-quencher, carry a water bottle and refill it throughout the day.
  • Serve water with meals.
  • Make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or watermelon, or drink sparkling water.
  • Be a role model for your friends and family by choosing water, or healthy, low-calorie beverages.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or to treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Information Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. Cutting Calories. Rethink Your Drink
Summary Note: Suggestions on how to cut calories by thinking about what you drink. Offers may choices to encourage friends and family to drink water.
(Accessed 07 March 2016)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Water and Nutrition.
Summary Note: Basic information on how water is central to physical health.
(Accessed 19 August 2016)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Water Access in Schools.
Summary Note: Physical and cognitive performance benefits for students who drink water. Includes references.
(Accessed 19 August 2016)

Kenney, EL, Gortmaker, SL, Carter, JE, Howe, MC, Reiner, JF, Cradock, AL (2015). Grab a Cup, Fill It Up! An Intervention to Promote the Convenience of Drinking Water and Increase Student Water Consumption During School Lunch
American Journal of Public Health 105(9) (September 2015):1777-83.
Summary Note: Controlled trial in ten Boston, Massachusetts schools in 2013 showed that providing disposable cups in cafeteria increased student water consumption.
(Abstract accessed 19 August 2016)

Mayo Clinic Staff. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Healthy Lifestyle. Nutrition and Healthy Eating.
Water: How Much Should You Drink Everyday?
Summary Note: guidelines for drinking enough daily fluids to stay healthy.
(Accessed 19 August 2016)

National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Dehydration
Summary Note: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention of Dehydration.
(Accessed 28 August 2016)

National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Drinking Water.
Summary Note: MedlinePlus main topic page for Drinking Water
Includes links to health information from other government agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(Accessed 19 August 2016)

Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. Why Drinking Water is the Way to Go
Summary Note: Website on children’s health and development explains why humans, plants, and animals need water. Includes link to audio cast of Full Text.
(Accessed 19 August 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office on Women’s Health  Water.
Summary Note: GirlsHealth dot gov is a website covering hundreds of topics for teen-aged girls. Webpage on Water discusses how much water to drink, background on bottled water, and ways to drink more water.
(Accessed 19 August 2016)