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Stress Less This Spring with These Nine Mood Busters

Stress Less This Spring with These Nine Mood Busters

What does your stress feel like? Is it a weight on your shoulders? A nervousness in your gut? A pounding in your head? What causes these feelings of stress? Work deadlines? The busy schedule that comes with being a mom? The pressure to make everyone around you happy and comfortable?

Believe it or not, you can reduce your stress levels, no matter what is causing them, and mitigate the stress symptoms that are bringing you down. Read on for nine mood busting tips that will help you take control of your mind, body, and soul, control your stress, and carry on with confidence.

  1. Deep Breathing. Breathing exercises are one of the most effective ways of learning to quiet your mind, calm your racing heart, and lower anxiety levels. When you feel your stress levels escalating, take a five-minute break and focus on your breathing. Place your hand on your belly, and slowly inhale through your nose and then exhale through your mouth, feeling your breath move from your abdomen to the top of your head. This simple exercise can help you learn to control your anxiety levels and reduce feelings of stress.
  2. Meditate. Meditation has been proven to help ease anxiety and improve your mood. Even a few minutes per day of quiet, inward reflection and focused breathing can help train your brain to better manage stressful moments when anxiety flares.
  3. Exercise Regularly. A regular fitness routine, especially one that involves cardio or yoga, can help you reduce stress. It may seem like the last thing you have the energy to do after a stressful day is haul yourself to the gym, but in reality, a quick sweat session can reduce stress, release tension, and help calm your nerves.
  4. Maintain a Healthy Diet. Well-nourished bodies are better able to cope with stress. Your diet has a profound impact of your mental and emotional health. If you smoke, regularly consume alcohol or illicit drugs, over-consume sugar, and/or drink caffeine, consider cutting back on these stress-boosting diet factors.
  5. Rely on Your Social Network. We don’t necessarily mean Facebook. When times get tough, reach out to the family and friends in your life who you can rely on for emotional support. Unburden your worries on a sympathetic ear. Talking through your problems can help you see solutions to your stresses and find your internal calm. Face-to-face support is always better and encourages you to get out, get moving, and enjoy a change of scenery.
  6. Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule. Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling agitated, restless, and stressed the next day. Make sure you get enough sleep—whatever the right number of hours is for you—to allow you to wake up feeling refreshed, comfortable, and ready to take on the day.
  7. Find the Humor. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress and is an inexpensive, and effortless way to reduce stress. Put on your favorite comedy or get together for a girls’ night out. What’s most important is that you give your stress somewhere to go by emitting it as laughter.
  8. Sing and Dance. Music can have a powerful effect on our emotions. Crank up your favorite tunes and sing, or dance. Movement and song can help release tension, give you a reason to smile, and help you focus on less emotionally strenuous factors in your life. If you prefer soothing music to upbeat music, consider a playlist of classical tunes, or ocean sounds. Listen to it while you relax quietly, focusing on your breathing and heart rate.
  9. Manage Your Time. One of the biggest stress factors that many people face is an overburdened schedule. Remember that it’s okay to say no to requests and invitations. Rather than packing each and every day full of work, volunteer shifts, social engagements, and favors to others, make sure each day includes a period of time that is just for you to ensure self-care and a daily moment of stress-free mental and physical rest.

Remember, your mood can be controlled by you and the decisions that you make to choose a healthy life. Don’t feel overwhelmed if you’re wondering where to start. Choose just one of these mood-busters, and then add more to your daily routine one at a time until you feel you have taken control of your stress factors. Remember, you can always talk to your doctor. He or she can give you advice for how to further manage the stress factors in your life so you can be the best version of you for your family, your friends, and yourself.

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Heart Health Month and Reducing Your Risk of Heart Disease

Woman holding a heartFebruary 14th is not the only day this month that we should wear red and think about our hearts. February is American Heart Health Month, an important initiative started by the American Heart Association to encourage men and women across the nation to focus on the importance of maintaining a healthy heart. Women in particular face serious risks for heart disease, heart attack, and other heart-related illnesses. This February, celebrate Heart Health Month by learning these important tips for reducing your risk of heart disease, and for staying healthy for your loved ones, this month and always.

If you smoke, quit.

According to the American Heart Association, smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke in women by two to four times. Women who smoke also have a 25 percent higher risk of developing heart disease compared to men.

Maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

A diet high in refined sugars and carbohydrates puts women at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a disease that makes adults two to four times more likely to develop heart disease or stroke.

Control your blood pressure.

High blood pressure is known as the silent killer, because it can sneak up on you quickly with deadly consequences. High blood pressure makes your heart work harder than normal. If not treated, it can damage and scar arteries, which puts women at risk for heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

Manage your cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a fat-like material that builds in body and blood cells. Overtime, if not properly managed, cholesterol that builds up in the inner walls of the arteries hardens and turns to plaque. This plaque narrows the artery walls, making it difficult for blood to pass freely. In the most severe cases, blockages in the arteries can form which can lead to blood clots, stroke, and heart attack.

Maintain a healthy weight.

Adults, especially women, who carry an unhealthy and excessive amount of body weight put themselves at greater risk for heart-related health complications. Carrying too much weight can strain your heart, and lead to high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and can put you at risk of diabetes—all risk factors that can lead to heart disease.

Stay active.

Maintaining an active lifestyle can help manage several of the risk factors listed above. Being active can help you maintain a strong, healthy heart, maintain a healthy weight, lower your risk of diabetes, and help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Eat a healthy diet.

Staying active and eating healthy go hand-in-hand. You can reduce your risk of heart disease by maintaining a healthy diet full of healthy vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats, and grains. A healthy diet will help you maintain your weight, lowering your risk of high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and ultimately, heart disease.

Remember, you are in control of your heart health. You don’t have to be a victim of a dangerous health incident. It’s never too late to start taking control of your heart health by making changes that will lower your risks. We recommend starting this February. Happy Heart Health Month from all of us at Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello, MD!

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Could You Be Suffering from Postpartum Depression?

Young new mother suffering from postpartum depressionPostpartum depression is a devastating emotional disorder that negatively impacts a significant number of mothers every year. It’s estimated that approximately 10 to 15 percent of women suffer from some form of postpartum mood disorder (PPMD), including postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum anxiety/OCD, or postpartum psychosis. If you feel that you or a loved one could be suffering from this emotionally, and physically painful disorder, know that you are not alone, and that treatment is available to help you recover and begin enjoying your time with your new baby in positive ways.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression symptoms typically develop within the first few weeks after baby is born, but could begin up to six months after birth. While every case is different, typical symptoms of postpartum depression may include:

  • Feelings of anxiety or sadness that result in pulling away from family and loved ones.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Unexplainable sadness that leads to seemingly unprovoked, excessive crying.
  • Rapid and severe mood swings.
  • Unexplainable feelings of sadness or depression.
  • Uncontrollable and intense irritability and/or anger.
  • Overwhelming fatigue.
  • Difficulty sleeping, or wanting to keep all the time.
  • The feeling of being overwhelmed, and/or unable to concentrate, think clearly, or make decisions.
  • Not feeling hungry as usual, or overeating.
  • Reduced interest in hobbies or typically enjoyable activities.
  • Having difficulties bonding with your baby, and/or a strong fear that you are not a good mother.
  • Irrational thoughts of harming yourself, or your baby.
  • Thoughts of suicide or death.

Your Doctor Can Help

If left untreated, postpartum depression may last for many, painful, and sad months where you are not bonding with your baby in the ways that you’d like. In the most severe cases, postpartum depression can have devastating, deadly consequences.

If you or a loved one think you may be suffering from postpartum depression, your OGBYN can help. A variety of treatment options are available. Your doctor will customize a treatment plan that is right for you, based on your unique circumstances or symptoms. Your recovery plan may include any of the following treatments:

  • Medication — Postpartum depression is caused by severe fluctuations in hormones. To treat these changes and restore balance to your system, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant. Medication can also be helpful in improving your sleep- and appetite-related symptoms.
  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy) — For many women suffering from postpartum depression, talk therapy has proven successful either as a stand alone treatment, or when used in conjunction with antidepressant medication. Psychotherapy helps women suffering from postpartum depression to work through their feelings and resolve internal emotional conflicts with the support of a trained professional.
  • Support groups — Similar to individualized psychotherapy, support groups can be an effective way for women to feel the support of others with whom they share similar feelings and experiences. Support groups may be recommended in conjunction with medication.
  • Inpatient treatment — In the most severe cases, such as when a woman’s postpartum depression is presenting as suicidal ideation, your doctor may recommend a more intense treatment program provided in a focused, inpatient setting. When your doctor is confident that you are not a danger to yourself, or your baby, you will be discharged for continued outpatient treatment.

The initial months after your baby is born are essential for proper emotional bonding, and developing the skills you will need to care for your baby long term. Don’t let postpartum depression interfere with those precious months. Talk to your OBGYN today and learn what your options are, not just for managing symptoms, but for treating the underlying condition that is impacting your emotional and physical well-being.

The doctors at Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello take your physical and mental health very seriously.  If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above post pregnancy, please schedule an appointment to talk with us.

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Every Second Counts. Don’t Ignore the Symptoms of a Major Heart Event.

Heart healthPeople who suffer from major heart events, such as heart attack and stroke, too often report noticing symptoms, but being too afraid of what they may mean to seek medical care. If you think you could be having a heart event, never hesitate to seek medical treatment. Even if your symptoms represent a minor, non-heart related illness, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to question what you’re feeling.

This February, in honor of American Heart Health Month, familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke, and make a promise to yourself that if you suspect you could be experiencing the onset of a heart event, you will seek medical care immediately.

Heart Attack Symptoms

The symptoms of a heart attack may include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or may go away, only to come back. The discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, a fullness in the chest, or pain.
  • Discomfort or pain in parts of the upper body, such as one or both arms, the back, the stomach, the neck, or jaw.
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. This symptom may present with or without chest pain or discomfort.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat.
  • Nausea.
  • Lightheadedness.

What to Do if You Suspect You’re Experiencing a Heart Attack

Reacting immediately to the signs of a possible heart attack can help to limit damage to your heart. Call 911, rather than attempting to drive yourself to the emergency room. When your heart is in danger, ever second counts. The minutes it will take you to drive to the emergency room are critical, and allowing emergency personnel to begin treating you that much sooner could make a significant difference in your recovery.

Stroke Symptoms

The symptoms of a stroke may include:

  • Feeling as if one side of your face is numb, or the appearance that one side of your face is drooping. When you smile, your mouth may look uneven.
  • Difficulty speaking, or slurred speech. You may also find it difficult to repeat back phrases or sentences.
  • Weakness or numbness is one arm. When raising both arms in the air, one arm may want to drift downward.

What to Do if You Suspect You’re Experiencing a Stroke

Just like with a heart attack, every second for a stroke victim is critical. When a stroke occurs, a blood vessel bursting, or clotting in the brain is robbing the brain of precious oxygen. If you believe you may be having a stroke, act quickly to minimize potential brain damage. Call 911 immediately.

Many stroke victims report feeling sleepy after the event occurs. You must resist the urge to rest or go to sleep. Call 911 and seek medical treatment as soon as you suspect an incident has occurred. Just like with a heart attack, allow emergency responders to drive you to the hospital, rather than driving yourself, to ensure you are receiving treatment as quickly as possible.

 

 

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The Dangers of Substance Abuse During Pregnancy

No alcoholOverconsumption of alcohol or drugs can have potentially life-threatening consequences. Taking those risks for yourself is dangerous enough, but taking those risks on behalf of your unborn baby means a threat to both of your lives. Use of alcohol or illegal drugs during pregnancy puts your baby at risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, premature labor, placental abruption, and even death.

You likely know that women are not supposed to drink or consume drugs while pregnant, but it’s time to learn the details. What follows are the risks associated with drinking, smoking tobacco, or using three common illicit drugs, while pregnant.

Alcohol

When women consume alcohol while pregnant, it can negatively affect the growth of the baby’s brain and spinal cord cells. Depending on how much alcohol the baby was exposed to in the womb, he or she may suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Mild to severe FASD health complications may include physical developmental disorders or other birth defects, or learning and behavioral issues. In the most severe cases, heavy alcohol use during pregnancy can lead to preterm labor, miscarriage, or stillbirth.

Tobacco

Tobacco products contain chemicals that are dangerous to you and your baby, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar. According to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these chemicals increase the risk of both miscarriage and stillbirth. Other health risks may include problems with the placenta or slow fetal development, two factors that can also cause a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Marijuana

Like cigarette smoke, marijuana contains toxins that can impede your baby’s ability to get the necessary amount of oxygen needed to develop properly. Marijuana puts your baby at risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and other developmental or behavioral problems.

Heroin

Heroin is extremely addictive. Babies exposed to heroin while in the womb may develop a dependency on the drug themselves. Upon birth, such babies are born suffering from such withdrawal symptoms as convulsions, fever, irritability, and sleep abnormalities. Babies born to mothers who use heroin are also at greater risk of a preterm birth, low birth weight, low blood sugar, breathing difficulties, bleeding within the brain, and even fetal death.

Cocaine

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecology (ACOG), pregnant mothers who use cocaine have a 25 percent increased chance of premature labor, and babies born to women who have used cocaine while pregnant have a higher risk of being born with a physical birth defect. Like other drugs consumed during pregnancy, cocaine can cross the placenta and enter your baby’s circulatory system. Your baby won’t be able to process and eliminate cocaine as quickly as you can, which can complicate your baby’s health risks.

If you consume cocaine early in your pregnancy, it may increase the risk of a miscarriage. If your baby is exposed to cocaine later in your pregnancy, your baby could be at risk of being born with a birth defect, or could face placental abruption, a condition that occurs when the placenta peels away, either partially or completely, from the inner wall of the uterus. Placental abruption could lead to severe bleeding, premature birth, or even fetal death.

Babies exposed to cocaine later in pregnancy may also be born with a dependency, and may suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as sleeplessness, muscle spasms, feeding difficulties, and tremors.

Getting Help

Whether you are already pregnant or looking to become pregnant, if you regularly drink or utilize recreational drugs today, know that it’s never too late to quit. Every day that you choose to live drug and alcohol-free is a day you choose a healthier life for you and your baby.

You don’t have to go it alone — please talk with your doctor today.  He or she can help you get on the path to recovery and a healthy life ahead.

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Discover Why Prenatal Vitamins Are Essential to a Healthy Pregnancy

Prenatal vitaminPregnant or Trying to Become Pregnant? 

When you become pregnant, your top priority becomes doing everything possible to keep you and your baby healthy. The fight for good prenatal health starts with a commitment to prenatal vitamins. If you find yourself pregnant unexpectedly, it’s important to start a prenatal vitamin routine immediately. If you are trying to become pregnant, your OBGYN will recommend that you begin taking prenatal vitamins as you work to conceive. Read on to learn how these tiny tools can make a big difference on the health of your baby.

What are Prenatal Vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins help to fill the nutritional gaps that may be in your diet before and during your pregnancy to help you and your baby maintain optimal health, and to prevent certain health complications. An ideal prenatal vital should contain essential vitamins and minerals that you and your baby need, including the following:

Folic Acid – Folic acid can help to prevent neural tube birth defects, which threaten to develop in the first 28 days after conception, making it essential that women begin their prenatal vitamin routine immediately upon finding out their pregnant, or, more ideally, when they decide they want to become pregnant. It’s recommended that women take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily before conception and throughout the first twelve weeks of their pregnancy.

Calcium – Calcium can help protect women from losing important bone density as baby uses calcium for its own growth.

Iodine – Critical for the healthy functioning of your thyroid, iodine should be supplemented during pregnancy to prevent your baby from suffering from stunted growth, deafness, or severe mental disabilities. A lack of iodine, in the most severe cases, can even result in miscarriage or stillbirth.

Iron – Important for mother and baby, iron is essential for carrying oxygen in the blood.

Other important nutrients and minerals that should be included in your prenatal vitamin include:

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin C
  • Thiamine
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc

An Important Note if Your Prenatal Vitamin Makes You Feel Sick to Your Stomach

Some women report that prenatal vitamins make them nauseas, or that their vitamins exacerbate existing nausea symptoms during their pregnancy. If your prenatal vitamin is making you nauseas, do not make the mistake of simply stopping your vitamin routine. Talk to your OBGYN. He or she can prescribe an alternative for you, which may include a chewable, liquid, or pill to swallow whole, depending on your tolerance.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you’re wondering which prenatal vitamin is right for you, know that you don’t have to decide on your own. Your OBGYN will help you to choose the prenatal vitamin that is right for you and your baby, which will put you in the best position for a healthy, full-term pregnancy. And if you are newly pregnant or trying to become pregnant, and looking for a new doctor, please give our practice a call.  We are accepting new patients.

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Newly Pregnant? Learn Why Prenatal Care is Most Important in the First Trimester.

Pregnant Woman Looking At Ultrasound Scan Of BabyAt the moment your doctor says those three amazing words, “Congratulations, you’re pregnant,” your life is about to change. Most importantly, every decision you make, you make for two people, and for every choice you make, you need to ask yourself what is best for both you and your baby. As you adjust your lifestyle and prepare for being a mom, know that prenatal care is most important during your first trimester.

Studies have found that babies born to mothers who don’t get proper prenatal care are three times more likely to suffer from low birth weight, and are five times more likely to suffer fetal death. Prenatal care includes regular visits to your OBGYN. Such visits are crucial to identifying and treating potential health risks early.

To prepare yourself for welcoming a healthy and happy baby into your life, review our prenatal best practices.

Schedule Routine OBGYN Visits

Plan to see your OBGYN on a regular basis during your pregnancy, starting in the first trimester. Your doctor will monitor such health factors as your weight, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing capacity, and general health along with the health of your baby.

Obtain Necessary Tests

During your first trimester, your OBGYN will want to schedule you for some important tests. This may include a pap test to check for cervical cancer, a Rhesis (Rh) status test, and a hemoglobin test. Your OBGYN will also want to check your immunity to certain infections, which may include a test for rubella and varicella (chickenpox). He or she may also want to test you for other infections, including sexually transmitted diseases. Your baby will receive tests too. Your doctor will likely want to schedule an ultrasound in the first trimester to detect any potential abnormalities or health issues.

Start with Vitamins

Your OBGYN will want you to begin your first trimester with regular prenatal vitamins to make sure you’re getting all the minerals and nutrients that you need for a healthy pregnancy. Even before you’re pregnant, if you’re hoping to conceive, your OBGYN will recommend that you begin regularly taking prenatal vitamins.

Adapt Your Lifestyle

Right from the first trimester you’ll need to commit to a healthier diet, and lifestyle, which means eliminating alcohol, quitting tobacco or any recreational drugs, limiting caffeine, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly as directed by your doctor. Your OBGYN will also want to talk to you about any regular prescription or over-the-counter medications that you are currently taking and what may need to change during your pregnancy.

For more information on what to expect during your first trimester, and how to maintain the best possible prenatal health, talk to your OB-GYN. He or she can tell you what to expect, and can help you build a care plan to keep you and your baby happy and healthy for the next exciting nine months and beyond.

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Recognizing Stroke Symptoms. Know the Signs to Save a Life.

It feels like a stroke can happen to anyone, at any time, and it can happen incredibly fast. It is a terrifying condition that seems like it has the power to strike the old, the young, the healthy, the fragile, and everyone in between. While a mild stroke can cause little or no brain damage, a major stroke can cause severe brain damage or even death.

One of the most important ways to protect yourself from the risk of a stroke is to know the signs and symptoms that signal the onset of a stroke event. Early identification of a stroke can help to minimize the long-term damage, and can even save a life. Most stroke victims experience only one or two symptoms before their condition worsens. Take note of all of the potential signs of a stroke listed below to prepare yourself in case you or a loved one ever fall victim to this life-threatening health event.

Signs of a stroke may include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (usually on just one side of the body).
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, or feelings of dizziness, or a loss of balance.
  • Sudden difficulty speaking, understanding speech, or general mental confusion.
  • A painful headache that comes on quickly with no known cause.

Women are at risk for unique stroke symptoms as well. These symptoms may include:

  • Sudden face and arm or leg pain.
  • Sudden hiccups.
  • Sudden nausea.
  • A sudden sensation of exhaustion.
  • Sudden chest pain.
  • Sudden shortness of breath.
  • Sudden pounding or racing heartbeat.

If you or a loved one experience any of the symptoms listed above, call 9-1-1 immediately.

What You Need to Know About Mini-Strokes

A “mini-stroke,” also called a transient ischemic attack (TIA), occurs when, for a short period of time, the amount of blood that travels to the brain is restricted or slowed. If a mini-stroke occurs, you may or may not experience some of the signs of stroke listed above.

A mini-stroke could last from a few minutes to a full day. The signs can be so subtle that many sufferers do not even know they have suffered a stroke. The greater risk, however, is that a mini-stroke could be a sign that a full stroke is imminent. If you believe that you or a loved one are suffering from a mini-stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Diagnosing a Stroke

To determine if a stroke has occurred, your doctor will conduct an evaluation, asking questions about the symptoms that occurred and their onset. He or she will also test your reflexes to determine if physical damage has occurred. In addition, your doctor may request a computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan, or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. He or she may also require an electroencephalogram (EEG) test, an evoked response test, or a blood flow test such as a doppler ultrasound to determine if any changes have occurred in the blood flow to the brain.

By recognizing the potential signs and symptoms of a stroke, and acting fast by calling for emergency responders, you can help to save the life of a loved one—or even your own.

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Three Tips for Enjoying the Holiday Season

Holiday stressThe holiday season is in full swing! While the holidays are, for many, the most wonderful time of the year, they can also be fa la la frustrating. Between parties, shopping, gift wrapping, baking, traveling, and unpredictable weather, not to mention our normal day-to-day responsibilities, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being. To ensure you are able to enjoy the holidays this season, and to help you mitigate the risk of holiday stress, read our three tips to help you enjoy the holiday season.

Stay Organized

A normal week for you may already include work, your kids’ extracurricular activities, volunteering, and other appointments. Add to that holiday parties, concerts, community events, and shopping, and you can easily find yourself double or triple booked. Rely on a calendar or day planner to keep you organized. Whether you prefer a paper planner or a calendar app on your smartphone, there are plenty of tools that will help you plan your daily schedule.

Remember, before you commit to attending the town tree lighting, or you make plans with your church group to deliver holiday gifts, check your calendar to see what else you had planned for that day. Make sure you’re not taking on so many activities that the stress of participating in so many events diminishes the enjoyment you feel at each one. Know that it’s okay to pass on an activity, event, or invitation if you can’t fit it in, or if you just need a break. The holidays are about friends and family, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise your own wellbeing.

Eat Healthy and Stick to Your Exercise Routine

The holidays bring with them an overwhelming amount of food that is not normally part of our usual routines. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, you may find yourself participating in a work potluck, three parties, and a cookie exchange, not to mention the fact that you may be the recipient of gifts of candies, cakes, and baked goods from friends and family.

It can be hard to pass-up those holiday treats that we only get once a year, like frosted sugar cookies, yule logs, and rum balls, but keep in mind that if over the course of the holiday season your diet slips, you’ll be feeling it come New Year’s.

Commit to indulging in only your absolute favorite holiday treats. Otherwise, make healthy decisions at parties and events. Sample just a small amount of holiday appetizers, or stick to the veggie tray and just sip one glass of wine. Remember that parties and events are about spending time with loved ones. With that focus, food will easily take a back seat.

Also, remember to stick to your regular exercise routine. This can be especially difficult when you start adding extra holiday events to your calendar, but make sure you are prioritizing exercise, even if that means saying no to an invitation. If you maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine, you’ll sleep better and feel better throughout the season, and start 2017 out on the right foot.

Set a Budget

One of the most frustrating aspects of the holidays can be the financial strain it can cause. You may find yourself shopping for dozens of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, co-workers, and other family members, or making extra-large holiday charitable donations, or chipping-in for the office holiday party, or even indulging in a new dress for that swanky holiday party you’ll be attending.

To ensure you don’t over-spend and end-up with a pile of holiday debt and the stress that comes with it, set a budget for all things holiday: gifts, donations, and extra events. Most importantly, stick to that budget. It can be hard to pull back when you find a special gift you really want to give, but remember, what’s more important than what you give to someone, is the time you spend with them.

By staying organized, eating healthy, and maintaining a budget, you can focus on what really matters this holiday season—the joy you feel spending time with those you love.

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How to Prevent Painful UTIs

Close up of a woman with hands holding her crotchIf you’ve ever experienced the searing, burning, indescribable pain that is a urinary tract infection (UTI), then you certainly never want to experience one again. If you are among the lucky ones that have never experienced this painful health condition, count yourself among the fortunate. Regardless if you have experienced a UTI in the past or not, there are several steps that all women can take to stay healthy, and mitigate their risk of experiencing this unpleasant condition.

  1. Stay hydrated. Women should drink plenty of water throughout the day for a variety of health reasons, but staying hydrated can also be an effective prevention technique for preventing UTIs. Water helps to dilute your urine, and encourages you to urinate more frequently—two factors that help ensure that the bacteria that can cause a UTI is regularly flushed from your urinary tract. When you urinate, your urine should be a very pale yellow if you are drinking enough water.
  2. Hydrate after sex too. Also, be sure to drink a full glass of water after sex, and immediately empty your bladder after intercourse. These two practices will again help to flush unwanted bacteria out of your urinary tract.
  3. Wipe front to back. After a bowel movement, be sure to wipe from the front to the back, and never wipe twice with the same tissue. Following proper cleansing techniques can prevent pathogenic bacteria that originates in the anal region from spreading to your vagina and urethra, where it can cause a UTI.
  4. Carefully choose feminine products. Irritating feminine hygiene products, such as certain douches, powders, and deodorant sprays, can irritate your urethra, and lead to infection.
  5. Choose tampons over sanitary napkins. Unlike sanitary napkins or pads, tampons keep the bladder opening area drier, which limits the possibility of bacterial growth.
  6. Urinate frequently. Avoid long periods of time in between urinating. Aim to empty your bladder completely at least once every four hours during the day to mitigate the risk of bacterial build-up.
  7. Consider changing your birth control. If you use diaphragms, or unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms, these forms of birth control can put you at risk of bacterial growth that can cause a UTI.
  8. Wear loose clothing. Tight-fitting undergarments and non-breathable materials can encourage moisture build-up, which can lead to maceration of the skin and bacterial overgrowth. Choose breathable underwear to prevent contamination of the bladder opening area.
  9. Choose showers over baths. Avoid soaking in bathwater for prolonged periods of time. Bath water can become contaminated with skin florae as you bathe, and allow bacteria to reach the bladder opening area.

If you have any questions or concerns about your risk for developing a UTI, speak with your OBGYN. If you feel you may be experiencing UTI symptoms, be sure to contact your docotor immediately so that he or she can prescribe treatment and set you on the road to recovery.

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