How to Manage Autumn Allergens at Home

How to Manage Autumn Allergens at Home

Now that we’re well into October, we can be fairly certain that the allergens of the Spring and Summer months have settled. With Autumn, however, strong winds, humidity, and even household air can still present irritants to your respiratory system. 

If you suffer from allergies year-round, it’s a good idea to evaluate the possible sources of your sensitivity. A visit with your doctor can also help you identify what you need to do to care for your suffering sinuses. 

Today we’re sharing some easy ways to combat allergens inside the home. As the weather gets cooler, we’re more likely to spend time indoors, so it’s important to make sure that the air we’re breathing is healthy and clean. 

Allergen Sources and How to Manage Them

01.

PEt Dander

Our furry friends love to romp and play around the house or in the yard. To minimize how much of the great outdoors ends up in your home, wipe all paws after outdoor potty breaks, and brush out their coat after a day of outdoor play. This helps leave dirt and pollen outside. Because your pet’s skin releases oils and sweat (just like ours), allergens can easily stick in all that glorious fur. So, if it’s possible, bathe pets as often as is still healthy for their skin, coat, and overall wellbeing. 

02.

floors

If your pet is shedding or if there’s simply more dirt outside to track in because of high winds or harsh weather, cleaning the floors helps keep allergens from accumulating. You can keep a schedule to vacuum or mop on certain days of the week to help you build a routine around the extra chore.

03.

Windows

Closed windows are not a bad thing. In fact, recovering cancer patients are often encouraged to keep windows closed and to run the heater or AC to circulate and filter the air in the home. Outside-air can be heavy with traffic pollution, dust, pollen, and, if you live in areas that often experience wildfires or high winds, you’ll get a lot of pollution from that too.

In-Home Air QUality

You typically won’t need an expensive HEPA filter for your air system. If your existing filter is clean, it does a fine job of filtering out most pollutants. Of course, if you know you’re more sensitive to allergens than most, springing for a HEPA filter will help pull even more potential irritants out of the air. 

04.

Plants

Be aware of live plants in your home. Your AC or heater can kick up pollen and other irritants from the plant and its soil and carry it through your home. If you suspect that your indoor plants are a problem, try removing them or putting them in a closed room with the air vent closed. This will help keep plant particles from circulating through your home. 

05.

Mold

As the air gets humid with the cool autumn moisture, mold has the right environment to grow. Check your kitchen, bathroom, attic, basement, around your windows, and other areas of your home that tend to be exposed to moisture. For small mold patches, you can usually clean it away with a mild cleaning agent from the store. Larger problems may require some professional help.

To tell the difference between cold symptoms and allergy symptoms, we’ll need the space of another post. For now, we hope you feel armed with the knowledge to make your home a more restful place. 

For more wellness topics, check out our podcasts for a variety of interesting discussions, or, take a look at a written overview of our Podcast Favorites. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

The Importance of Sleep – Podcast Ep. 33

The Importance of Sleep – Podcast Ep. 33


Welcome to the 33rd episode of the Living Healthy podcast, presented by LA Fitness.

On this episode of the Living Healthy Podcast, we speak with Dr. Bob Davari to discuss the importance of sleep and what happens when you don’t get enough. We assure you this episode is not one to sleep through. You’ll hear about how your body’s rest time impacts your weight, the health of your brain, your memory, and a lot more. Listen in to hear what Dr. Davari has to say about this important component of your day-to-day life.

How Are We Doing? 


This podcast should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Timecard Markers – The Importance of Sleep – Podcast Ep. 33   

Intro 

 0:01 

Andrew Shares His Sleep Stories 

0:23 

Introduction of Dr. Bob Davari of Kaiser Permanente Orange County 

3:44 

Why Do We Sleep and What are the Benefits of Sleep? 

4:16 

What Happens (Chemically) in the Body During Sleep? 

6:33 

Impact of Interrupted Sleep on Memory 

7:55 

The Most Important Part of Your Sleep Cycle 

10:04 

Regulating Your Wake-Up Time 

12:28 

Do You Have to Get All Your Sleep Hours at the Same Time? 

13:46 

What to Do if You Can’t Sleep 

14:17 

Do Naps Help? 

15:34 

Chronic Insomnia and Trouble Sleeping 

17:01 

How Does Exercise and Room Temperature Play into Sleep? 

22:31 

What is Sleep Apnea and What are its Challenges?  

25:03 

What Happens to the Mind and Body When Not Getting Enough Sleep? 

29:13 

Can You Age Faster if You’re Losing Sleep? 

32:58 

Can Insufficient Sleep Affect Metabolism? 

35:49 

How Much Does Sleep Affect Mood? 

38:22 

Can You Catch Up on Lost Sleep? 

41:08 

Can You Get Too Much Sleep? 

42:54 

How Long Does It Take to Change Your Sleep Schedule? 

44:01 

How to Manage Jet Lag 

45:39 

As a Nation, Are We Getting Less Sleep? 

46:24 

Actionable Advice 

48:46 

Outro 

50:58 


Recommended Podcast Episodes 

Your Guide to Mindful Eating

Your Guide to Mindful Eating

Today is World Food Day! With over 2,000,000 farms across the U.S., we produce, export, and consume a lot of food! In 2015, about 48.5 billion pounds of red meat was produced. In 2014, grain production came out to approximately 442.4 million metric tons. 

With all this production comes a lot of waste; 62.5 million tons of wasted food each year, to be more specific. We’re not even considering the waste that comes from actual production, from packaging, and from transporting all this food. 

As an individual, you can easily and effectively help reduce food waste. Here are some ways that you can make a positive impact. 

Reduce Wasted Food 

01.

It can be hard to remember when you made that casserole in the back of your fridge. Create your own labels so you remember when you cooked and to avoid throwing good food out prematurely. 

02.

Create your own labels for store-bought foods as well, particularly if the expiration date is already difficult to see. This is also a great idea if you tend to store certain foods without the packaging it came in. 

03.

Make your grocery shopping trips smaller and more frequent instead of buying large quantities of food less frequently. If you must buy something in bulk, split it up into smaller containers that you can freeze for later use. 

04.

Eat before you shop. We’ve all fallen victim to the hungry shopping-spree that ended with a shopping cart full of items we never intended to buy. Even a light snack before you hit the store can help you make more conscious decisions. 

05.

Try to commit to cooking more at home. If you like to meal prep and you make a big batch of food, freeze some of it so you don’t get tired of eating the same thing. This should keep it from sitting around in your fridge too long. 

06.

Instead of throwing away leftovers, re-purpose them to make an entirely different meal. This article from Taste of Home can give you some ideas on how to make leftovers shine.

07.

To help ward off spoilage, wrap fruits and veggies in a paper towel or toss a napkin into the storage container. This absorbs moisture which will help keep produce fresher longer. If you’re worried about wasting trees, try tree-free products or use regular kitchen towels. 

08.

Don’t toss it just yet! The “Best By” or “Use By” date just means your food will taste the best and be the freshest up to a certain date. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be spoiled once that date has passed! The USDA explains that “with [the] exception of infant formula…if the date passes during home storage, a product should still be safe and wholesome if handled properly until the time spoilage is evident.”1 

Make Ecologically Sustainable Choices 

01.

Try your best to minimize trash. You may live in a state that has banned single-use grocery bags, but if you don’t, consider reusable grocery bags for your next shopping trip. You can go a step further and bring reusable bags or lightweight containers for buying produce and bulk beans, rice, nuts, etc.

02.

Buy sustainably sourced seafood and choose varieties that are more abundant. For example, choose Mackerel, Tilapia, Catfish, Mussels, Clams, or Oysters over less abundant species like Tropical Prawns, Swordfish, Atlantic Salmon, or Shark. 2

03.

Eat less meat or commit to buying from local sources. Buying local reduces the carbon footprint caused by packaging, shipping, and other transportation. This also goes for fruits and veggies. If you can, stick only to what’s in-season. 

04.

Try composting! Believe it or not, food takes a long time to decompose in a landfill. This is because there is actually very little dirt, oxygen, and very few of the microorganisms that help with decomposition.3 Composting at home is great for the health of your soil and will help you grow your own produce.

05.

If you haven’t invested in a reusable water bottle, this is a great move for your health and for the environment. It’s a reminder to keep hydrated and a way to keep unnecessary plastic out of landfills. You can do the same with straws and cutlery and replace plastic with some reusable and portable alternatives.

For more food and nutrition topics, check out the Meal Prepping 101 Guide or this Super Snacking Guide. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Sources:

  1. “FSIS.” Food Product Dating, United States Department of Agriculture, www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/food-product-dating/food-product-dating.
  2. Charles, Alba. “How to Know If Fish Is Sustainable.” Onehowto.com, 2017, food.onehowto.com/article/how-to-know-if-fish-is-sustainable-10516.html.
  3. Talk, Earth. “Do Biodegradable Items Degrade in Landfills?” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 4 Jan. 2019, www.thoughtco.com/do-biodegradable-items-really-break-down-1204144.

Stamping Out Stigma – Mental Health

Stamping Out Stigma – Mental Health

October 6th – 12th is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Today, we’re breaking down the finer details of mental health. Our hope is that we can encourage a deeper understanding of what mental health is and start chipping away at the stigma. 

What is Stigma? 

Stigma is when you mentally attach shame to a person or group and this perception causes you to devalue or treat them differently. People with a mental health condition are often stigmatized because they are often perceived as different or not within whatever definition of “normal” we each carry. 

It’s not uncommon to feel like we need to distance ourselves from what is unfamiliar. Maybe we just aren’t sure how to approach or talk to someone with a mental illness. The hope is that by learning a little more, this unfamiliar territory will become less intimidating and we can start to understand that people with mental health concerns are simply, people.

Changing the Perception 

If, like many others, you find uncertainty in your interactions with those who suffer from a mental illness, consider that mental health does not fit a single definition or appearance.

In fact, there are a lot of mental disorders whose symptoms you can’t see! Even if you can see the symptoms, they can still be expressed differently among people with the same diagnosis.  

Let’s consider, for a moment, the loss of a loved one. For some, the grief is relived as though the loss occurred mere days ago. For others, it can be a more peaceful remembrance.  

Grief is not typically our first thought when we consider mental health. Often, we’ll think of disorders or illnesses whose names we hear often: ADHD, OCD, Depression, Schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, Autism, and others.1 However, the way we mentally process grief, and the way grief manifests itself in the body, (like physical exhaustion, digestive problems, stomach ulcers, etc.)2 is a great reminder that the experience is very impactful and very real. You do not need to have a diagnosable condition in order to experience the effects of atypical mental health. 

Mental health encompasses everything from everyday stress, sadness, and anxiety to diagnosable conditions like Major Depressive Disorder and PTSD. When you consider that everyone has a brain, and that brain has the potential to overreact or underreact, it’s a lot easier to think of fluctuations in mental wellness as a very normal thing. 

What About People Who Attend Therapy? 

Therapy isn’t only for people with a mental illness, or a specified “problem.” It can be beneficial to almost anyone.  

Let’s redefine therapy so it’s not exclusive to the treatment of a disorder and think about it in the sense that it is a way to care for your mental health. We always talk about protecting and healing the body, but our mind is equally in need of care.   

For example, therapy can help people address thoughts as simple as these: 

  • I got a bad grade on a paper this semester. I am a horrible student and should probably quit school. 
  • My significant other didn’t put an emoji in this text message. He/she/they is angry with me! 
  • I am bad at basketball; therefore, I am bad at all sports.  

These are all examples of cognitive distortions, or irrational thought processes. These thoughts are not so out of the ordinary. We’ve all had a moment of panic at some point and determined we were bound to encounter the worst-case scenario. Moments like these are helpful to remind us that changes in mental health affect everyone.  

Ways to Care for Mental Health 

Therapy is great when some guidance is preferred. However, caring for your mental health can take many forms. It can be that you do more or less of things like: 

  • Sleeping 
  • Exercising 
  • Getting some sunshine 
  • Playing video games 
  • Spending time with people whose company you enjoy 
  • Taking some time alone 

Closing Thoughts

Addressing the stigma starts with taking a moment to examine our own feelings about mental illness. Once you know where you stand, you’ll also know what questions you have and which blank spaces you need filled. Allow yourself some time this week to talk about it with others, to do some research, or to simply do some self-reflection.  

To hear from Rachel Robins, Manager of PR and External Relations at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), read her post on How Fitness Improved My Mental Health. Or, learn more by listening to our NAMI Podcast or our podcast dedicated to Mental Health Month. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today!

Sources:

  1. Grohol, John M. “Mental Disorders & Conditions – DSM5.” Psych Central, 18 July 2019, psychcentral.com/disorders/.
  2. Byrne, Jennifer. “Biological & Psychological Effects After the Death of a Spouse.” Healthfully, 10 Jan. 2019, healthfully.com/233023-biological-psychological-effects-after-a-death-of-a-spouse.html.

5 Minute Guided Relaxation for Stress Relief

5 Minute Guided Relaxation for Stress Relief

 

Every day holds its own set of stressors. We find it on the road, at work, at school, in our families, our friendships, and our romantic relationships.

Many people don’t take much time out of their day to practice self-care. Our busy lives seem to come first, and our own needs fall second.

In this article, you will be guided through a simple relaxation technique. It is easy enough to do on your own, and versatile enough that you can do it almost anywhere. You can take as much time as you like, but you can easily do it in just 5 minutes.

Getting Comfortable

Before we get started, find a comfortable seated position with your feet flat on the ground, or find a comfortable place to lie down. Make sure you are in a quiet space where you will not be disturbed or startled by noise as you settle into your relaxation. This is also a good time to silence your phone.

If you like, you can play soothing instrumental music or nature sounds to help you silence your mind from the to-do lists, worries, and turbulent emotions that may keep you from relaxing.

While it’s healthy to address our concerns and process our emotions, doing so is an entirely different exercise. This guided relaxation is meant to help you create a safe space that will give you the opportunity to relax any stress-tightened muscles and to enjoy a state of stillness and calm.

Preparing Your Mindset

 

 

 

 

 

Take in a deep breath. Fill your lungs with air and exhale it slowly.

Much of the tension we carry often sits in our shoulders and jaw muscles.

With another deep breath, exhale the tension out of your body.

Notice the way your body is resting. Notice the contact points between your body and your chosen furniture. Let your muscles relax into the space.

Scanning the Body

We will now scan the body from head to toe and focus on relaxing every muscle along the way.

Bring your attention to your forehead. Take another breath and as you exhale allow the muscles in your forehead to release and relax. Feel your eyebrows settle and your eyelids soften.

With another breath, bring your attention to your jaw. Notice any tightness in the muscles there. With your exhale, unclench your jaw and release the tension with your breath.

Now bring your attention to your neck. There is likely a lot of tension there as well. Take a deep, calming breath, and allow your neck muscles to loosen and relax with your exhale. You may notice your shoulders drop to a more relaxed position as well.

The shoulders are often tense and tight. As you inhale, notice the way your shoulders are resting. With your exhale, allow your shoulder muscles to loosen and drop away from your ears.

 

 

 

 

 

Now bring your attention to your arms and hands. As you take a breath in, notice any tightness you’re carrying here. As you exhale out, allow your arms and hands to go limp and rest softly in your lap or at your sides.

Turn your focus to your back and your chest. Take a deep breath and exhale out any stiffness or tightness residing in the muscles here. Feel your spine, your chest, and your ribcage lighten with the release of your breath.

Lower your focus to your thighs, your legs, and your feet. As you breathe in, notice any tightness. Your lower body contains your largest muscle groups, so scan this area slowly from your thighs all the way down to your feet. Let any tension here dissolve with your exhale.

Preparing to End the Session

Give your body one more brief scan from head to toe and unlock any muscles that may have returned to a tense position.

Take one more deep breath in and exhale it out. When you are ready, bring your awareness back to the room, to the sounds you can hear, to the temperature of the air, and to any smells that are present. Hopefully, you feel more relaxed now than you did several minutes ago.

How Do You Feel?

Body scans are a powerful piece of guided relaxation because they allow us to focus on and tend to the muscles that work the hardest and carry our stress. Of course, you can’t relax your way out of any injuries or physical pain, but the hope is that exercises like this will allow you to rest your mind and your body during an otherwise busy day.

For information on What it Means to be Mentally Healthy, (hint: it isn’t just the absence of a mental disorder), read our blog on that topic. To learn how you can Combat Stress with Food, read the post by our Registered Dietician, Debbie James. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today!

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