Back-to-School Don’t Prep Like a Fool

By: Yvonne Sims

It’s that time of year again: back to school for your kids! With all the school shopping and preparing for the school year, you also want to make sure that you are keeping your children’s health in check as well. That means making sure they are getting proper rest, plenty of exercise, practicing good hygiene, and consuming healthy foods. Here are a few back-to-school tips that will ensure that your kids are heading back to their optimal health. 

  1. Plenty of Quality Sleep. Children, ages 6 to 12 should get 9 to 12 hours of sleep a night and teens should get 8 to 10 hours a night. Be sure that they are powering down electronic devices and stop watching tv 2 hours before going to bed. Caffeine should not be given to them in the afternoon, so they are not stimulated before bed. It is also helpful to make their room as dark as possible with dimming or blackout curtains and be sure their rooms are nice and cool.
  2. Exercise/Physical Activity. Children are not getting enough exercise in school anymore, so be sure they have at least an hour of exercise or physical activity outside each day. This will promote healthier minds and bodies because they are getting fresh air and sun as well as spending less time in front of the tv or on their electronic devices indoors.
  3. Good Hygiene. There are a lot of germs all around us, especially in our kids’ schools. Make sure they are properly and consistently washing their hands whenever they need to. This will help prevent illness and the spread of more germs. It is also helpful to pack hand sanitizer, wet wipes and Kleenex in their backpacks in case they are unable to wash their hands.
  4. Healthy Foods. When making snacks or lunch for your children, be sure to pack healthier foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and lean meats. Also, minimize the number of processed foods and sweets you give them. This will give them more energy throughout the day, decrease obesity, and promote a healthier mind and body.
  5. Eliminate Food/Environmental Intolerances. To be sure you are giving your children the right foods for them and not exposing them to a harmful environment, you can get a Food and Environmental Intolerance Test done for them at 5Strands® Affordable Testing. Here’s the link if you would like to purchase it: https://www.affordableallergytest.com/product/deluxe-package-children/ 

Their results will be specifically catered to them since we use the DNA from your child’s hair sample. It is painless, affordable, and the results are sent in about 5 to 7 business days!

6. Make sure Backpacks Fit Well. Be sure your child has a backpack that fits their body well. If it does not fit well, it can cause neck, shoulder, and back problems that can affect their posture. Make sure their backpacks have padded straps and that they utilize both straps, especially if they are carrying a heavy load. 

7. Engage in Real Conversations. Being in school can be very stressful and unfortunately, suicide rates are rising in teens and even young children; bullying is real! Make sure you are paying attention to your children’s behaviors and engage in real, meaningful conversations. Do not accept that they are just “fine” when they are showing odd behaviors and try to form a bond or nonjudgmental space where they can openly express their feelings.

Practicing these health tips with your children will not only ensure your kids are healthier but it will also limit the times they miss school because they’re sick as well as save you money on doctors’ visits. Also, when your kids see you consistently practicing these tips, they are more likely to be more consistent as well. So, make sure you are sending your children back to school as prepared and as healthy as possible!

References

4 Back to School Health Tips You Need to Know. (2019). Retrieved July 29, 2019, from https://www.immediateclinic.com/blog/4-back-school-health-tips-you-need-know

5 Must-Know Back-to-School Health Tips: Checklist for Parents. Kaiser Permanente Washington. (2018, October 30). Retrieved July 29, 2019, from https://wa-health.kaiserpermanente.org/back-to-school-health-tips/

Day of Friendship

By: Laura Boisson

In 2011 the United Nations General Assembly declared July 30 to be International Day of Friendship. It is a holiday that was already recognized and celebrated around the world (mostly in parts of Asia, and more specifically in India. However, International Day of Friendship in India is celebrated on the first Sunday in August; this year it is August 4. Originally, it was a holiday that the greeting card industry tried to establish in the 1920s, and while it did not become popular in the United States, countries around the world began the tradition. I will gladly take a day and turn it into nearly a week of celebrating my friends. I had to find out what specifically goes on during this holiday. 

It turns out, when it comes to friendship; there are no set rules! Acknowledge, embrace, & celebrate your friends in your own unique way – why else do we keep those special people around?! The most consistent gift for Friendship Day, and probably the universal symbol of friendship for most millenials, seems to be the trusted friendship bracelet. You know the one I’m talking about; made from embroidery floss, weaved into different patterns, and depending on how thick you make it, they can take hours to finish.

As I read more about International Day of Friendship, I felt nostalgic. Spending my summers growing up at a local pool with friends. The smell of sunscreen and flashbacks of tying embroidery floss around one of my toes to anchor the bracelet while I weave for hours, watching the pattern come to fruition. I always wanted to make a very wide bracelet, and often started them; once you have more than 8-10 strings, however, it gets very chaotic. I give props to anyone who is able to finish such a large task, because keeping the strings in the correct color order and from getting tangled takes time and patience. Making these bracelets are always a great idea in theory, but that’s only because I forget how long they take to make. I’m stubborn, so after researching Friendship Day I ran out to Joann Fabrics and picked up a handful of embroidery floss. 

Must make friendship bracelets.

There’s way more to all of this madness, however. Why is friendship so important to us humans? Why do we care if there is a holiday or not? Well, I dug deeper. We shouldn’t forget that humans are part of the animal kingdom, and we are very social animals. In fact, there have been studies to show that socialization helps to improve our psychological and physical health. Because of this, I think it’s fair to say that social connection is just as important as proper diet, exercise, and rest. It’s another factor in keeping balance in the human body. These same studies also shows that a lack of socialization is just as harmful to us, if not more, than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. 

We hear people experts talking about these health concerns and ways to improve our health almost daily on the news. It would be nice if we heard more health professionals speak on the impact of creating human connection, right? Let’s look at the positive aspects of friendship. It’s been shown that establishing a human connection increases our chances of longevity by fifty percent. Likewise, our immune system is strengthened when we have others we can confide in and trust. The same genes in the human body that code for our immune function are actually impacted by socializing. So influential, actually, that recovery from disease has been seen to increase as a result of human connections.

It’s no surprise that as our immune function and longevity increases, the rate of anxiety and depression decreases. This leads to higher self esteem, plus increased ability to trust and cooperate with one another. I don’t want to use the word “trend,” but there is a growing interest in humans practicing self love, and becoming more intuned with their internal health. This is an important part of socializing, because we need to be comfortable and confident with ourselves before we can be vulnerable with others, and allow them into our lives. A leading voice in human connection and this wave of self-realization, is Brene Brown. I wanted to watch her Netflix special for some time now, and it wasn’t until I listened to her episode of Under the Skin podcast with Russell Brand, that I definitely knew I wanted to watch it. She has spent a large chunk of her career studying the human connection.

“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” – Brene Brown (interview with Emma Seppala, link below)

By establishing deep friendships and social connections, we create a positive feedback loop, which improves many aspects of our health. In 1985, a study taken in the United States showed that on average, Americans had three close friends that they felt they could trust and confide in. That number decreased in 2004 to only one. In other words, twenty-five percent of Americans do not feel like they have any one person they can turn to for comfort or trust. It’s 2019, however, so we can turn this around!

If you’re looking for ways to show appreciation for those around you, I have a couple of ideas. First, remember it’s never too late to build up a current relationship into a closer and deeper friendship. Likewise, it’s never too late to make new friends! There are a number of ways to meet new people these days, including meet-up groups, sewing circles, online dating apps (Bumble has a Bumble BFF feature for women to meet other women to create friendships). We have options everywhere. The best chances to make friends are generally in the realm of your current interests. The people are there – now go find them!

With that said, you could go the traditional route of making friendship bracelets. Honestly, I plan on mailing out the ones I’ve been making while writing to some of my closest friends, because we all live in different cities now. It’s a nice little reminder that I still love them. With the popularity of taking care of ourselves emotionally, mentally, and physically, the most effective way to do so is to look out for each other’s health as well. Pay attention to each other’s health concerns, dietary habits, and they may just do the same for you. That’s why we get gym buddies, right? We need to hold each other and ourselves accountable for our health goals. That’s why I think the perfect gift for International Day of Friendship is buying a loved one a 5 Strands testing kit. We can help identify any food and environmental intolerances that someone you care about may be struggling with. We offer a variety of options, for people, as well as for pets, so if your crazy cat lady friend does not need one – maybe her cat does!

Take the time this week to tell those close to you how much you care about them. It’ll feel good for you and for them. 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-it/201208/connect-thrive
https://www.edge.org/response-detail/25395
https://medium.com/dose/18-diy-friendship-bracelets-that-are-way-cooler-than-the-ones-you-made-at-camp-9d62a0f63902
https://www.un.org/en/events/friendshipday/

Massages… Ooh la la

In honor of Everybody Deserves A Massage week, I’ve been browsing my options at the local spas and you should too! I have a strong relationship with any form of massage. For years, I treated myself to a massage on my birthday; then four years ago I began studying Traditional Chinese Medicine bodywork for animals. Yes, that is a thing. If you read my last blog post about horses, you may have picked up on that. I am a practitioner of small animal acupressure, to be exact. I’ve always loved getting massages for myself, but after studying bodywork through an acupressure scope, I had a renewed appreciation for all bodywork healers. There are a wide range of the types of massage you can get, but I am going to focus on some of the benefits of receiving any massage.

One of the most obvious benefits of getting a massage is relieving physical pain. We put a lot on our bodies, often with little rest. Without the proper restime and nutrition, the body has difficulty repairing the damage we do on a daily basis. I don’t know a single person who has never felt a knot in their muscles somewhere on their body. What exactly are those knots? We think of them as our muscles as being tied up tightly together. They are actually patches or bands of connective tissue, often called myofascial trigger points, that have become clenched or irritated. The tightness and inflammation that comes along with these knots can cause an incredible amount of pain. If you’re reading this and have never felt a knot in your back or shoulders, I’d love to know how you live! The physical discomfort that comes along with these myofascial patches can lead to a number of other issues, like limiting our range of motion, lack of sleep, pain in other parts of the body (headaches), and even affect our mood. By applying the appropriate amount of healing touch to those troubled areas, we can help loosen those tight fibers and relax the muscles. 

To repeat myself, I’d love to meet the person who has never felt an ounce of stress in their life. In today’s society, we live in large communities and cities, where we are surrounded by so much energy. All of this energy, including the pressures of social media and the fast paced lifestyles that we put ourselves through, play a big role in the amount of stress and anxiety that falls so heavily into our minds. Stress, anxiety, and panic attacks can make us feel like life is falling apart. Stress can cause a lot more than emotional pain, however. Everything in the body is interconnected, so emotional stress can lead to headaches, muscular tension (see above paragraph), and even digestive issues. When we take the time to disconnect from the outside world, and spend time with ourselves during a massage, we can really clear our minds. There is a big push for self love these days, and I am all for it! In my personal experience, when I am feeling happier, relaxed, and more confident I am far more inclined to pay it forward to others. We create our happiness, right? So, we might as well start with a relaxing massage.

A less than obvious benefit of bodywork and massage is helping our bodies heal from injury or surgery. While, I would never recommend massaging directly on an injury or surgical location, healing touch is a great way to encourage circulation in the body. When the body is experiencing a trauma of any kind, it reacts with inflammation in that area. By stimulating the energetic pathways above and below the affected area, we prompt the body to bring vital fluids to that area to help heal. Likewise, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, these pathways (meridians) flow throughout the entire body; so a trigger point on your arm can help clear heat and inflammation from any part of the body. The human body is a pretty incredible interconnected machine in that way. Furthermore, you don’t need to have an injury or surgical trauma to benefit from this healing aspect. By massaging the whole body, we can incite better circulation throughout the whole system. Better circulation can lead to proper delivery of nutrients to our muscles and organ systems. When we feel good physically, we feel good emotionally.

In 2013, I began suffering from debilitating migraines. For those of you who have never felt a migraine, it can be worse with sounds or with light. Mine are light sensitive. Symptoms of migraines include (but are not limited to) pounding headaches behind one or both eyes, nausea, vomiting, obscured vision, and what is called aura experiences. Lucky me, my migraines were with aura. In other words, my senses were often obscured. My vision often felt like constant vertigo, but in a horizontal direction. People and objects appeared to be really up close or really far away from me. It was as if someone was adjusting the zoom lens on my eyes. Other sensory issues I felt were with my taste and touch. Some foods tasted very weird and different to me, and my hands would often feel gigantic. My acupuncturist at the time explained to me that headaches and migraines are often viewed as a stagnation of energy in the body. That stagnation can cause tension, leading to a headache, and even physical pain. Of course, the stress that can also come with having a headache does not benefit the situation. Receiving a massage can help move the stagnant energy along, and relieve one from headaches and migraines.

I’ve already stated that massage can lead to improved circulation in the body, and I’m going to say it again. Massage can lead to improved circulation in the body. This circulation of energy can help strengthen the immune system. By assisting in the flow of energy and vital fluids throughout the body, we can help provide our organ systems with everything they need to function properly. When our organ systems are working together to keep us moving at full capacity, it strengthens our immunity. Strengthening our bodies does not just happen by building muscle. While physical activity works wonders for the body, we also need to provide it with nutrients and healing touch to create and maintain balance. Everything in our body is interconnected. Our physical, emotional, and mental health all work together. 

When one aspect of our health is compromised or imbalanced, it can affect other areas of our bodies. This is no different for our fur babies. This is where my specialty comes into play. I have a background in nutrition, so I often try to integrate a pet’s diet into my acupressure sessions. Sometimes imbalances or health issues can be linked to food and environmental sensitivities. I found out that my migraines were associated with a wheat and gluten sensitivity. If you think that you or your pets (dogs, cats, or horses) are suffering from a food or environmental intolerance, we can test a hair sample to help you narrow down the cause. 

In addition to using our test to find out what may be causing symptoms, you could also look into body work to help balance out the body. Human massage therapists are much easier to find for yourself, but what about your pets? If you’re in the Atlanta area, I work at a dog daycare and grooming facility called The Clean Dog, Inc. We have two locations in Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park. At our newly renovation Inman Park location, I will be practicing acupressure for dogs and cats. It is something worth checking out (for the sake of your four legged loved ones) whether you’re in Atlanta or not. You could probably be able to find practitioners in your area online.

I hope you treat yourselves and loved ones to a massage, because every body deserves one!