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LIVE WELL

Woman down with the cold.

Why You Actually Get Sick in Cold Weather

Cold and flu season has officially arrived and it can be difficult to keep yourself from succumbing to one or the other, or both if you’re unlucky. It isn’t just a nasty cold or flu virus that can have you feeling less than great during the winter months, you may also experience a worsening of other health conditions such as arthritis or diabetes. Research from Cambridge University helps to bring some clarity when it comes to why you actually get sick in cold weather.

What Causes Cold Weather Illness
It’s a fact that illness rates go up during cold weather and there has been little indication as to what is actually causing this. A study conducted by John Todd, professor of Medical Genetics at Cambridge University, concludes that your genes are responsible for the increase in illness and discomfort you experience during the winter. Why does this happen? The theory is that your genes actually change their behavior in response to seasonal changes. This amazing bit of science was discovered by chance by one of Professor Todd’s Ph.D. students. The student noted that during winter, immunity genes were more active in white blood cells than they were at other times of the year. White blood cells are the cells in your body that are responsible for fighting off infection and illness.

Scientific Study Provides Support
Once the discovery had been made, Professor Todd launched a research study that included over 16,000 worldwide. The research team, lead by Todd, carefully analyzed blood and tissue samples from participants coming from a large variety of climates and environments. Your body contains around 24,000 genes and the research conducted by Todd and his team analyzed 22,000 human genes, making it a comprehensive study.

What they found was that nearly one-quarter of genes in the human body show signs of altered behavior during seasonal change. The weather in Britain changes significantly with the seasons, much like it does here. Todd found that during the winter months, immune system genes ramped up their activity during the winter months. However, samples from Iceland, where it is cold the majority of the time and there are few seasonal changes, showed that genes were more active prior to the rainy season in Iceland.

Why do Genes Change Behavior and Why Does More Immune Activity Make you Sick?
While the study indicated clearly that there are many genes that alter their behavior according to season changes, the reason why is still unclear. The researchers who conducted the study believe that genes receive natural clues from their environment, such as temperature or sunlight, and then respond accordingly.

If your immunity genes in white blood cells are more active during cold, winter months, then why do you still get sick? Shouldn’t more activity equal more protection? Not entirely. Professor Todd explains that the spike in activity can cause your cells to malfunction and attack your body instead of just foreign invaders. Your immunity genes control white blood cells, which triggers inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a major component of serious diseases such as heart disease, arthritis and type 1 diabetes.

What Does All of This Mean?
The research all boils down to one fact: if you know more about what’s wrong, you can treat the condition more effectively. Drugs that target inflammation may be more effective when used during the winter months to treat serious conditions like arthritis. Additionally, Professor Todd suggests that perhaps instead of getting vaccinated immediately when fall starts, it may be more beneficial to be vaccinated later in the winter when your body is already primed for immune action.

Staying healthy during winter weather can be a challenge and some places, like at work or school, you can’t fully control your exposure to bacteria and viruses. Understanding what happens to cause illness in cold weather is a promising step in discovering how to more effectively prevent and fight these illnesses as well. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and often and to stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading germs. Even though your genes alter their behavior, prevention of disease by hand washing and vaccination is still important because these practices can significantly lessen the severity of your illness.

Couple jogging during winter.

How to Boost Your Winter Workout

The benefits of exercising outdoors in the fresh include things like more energy, less tension and lowered rates of depression. However, when it’s freezing outside you may be tempted to just stay indoors and cuddle up under your blanket. Fitness expert Sean Burch says that winter might actually be a better time for outdoor workouts than summer. “The heat and humidity in the summer can drag you down and tire you faster, but cold weather is invigorating. It stimulates your senses, tunes you into your surroundings – it makes you feel alive.” We’ve got three ways to boost your winter workout so it is most effective and so that it is also safe for you to complete outdoors.

Play it Safe
In warmer months with less dangerous weather hazards, choosing challenging terrain for your outdoor exercise is often beneficial to your health, but when the temperatures dip it’s best to play it safe. For outdoor winter workouts, you want to stay closer to home than you normally might so that if you do slip and fall or overexert and exhaust yourself, you’re close to the warmth and protection of the indoors. If you exercise early in the morning or in the evening after the sun has gone down, you’ll want to look for areas near your home that are well-lit and plowed. Lighting is important so that you can spot potentially icy areas and steer clear of them to avoid injury. Additionally, it’s not just important to you that you have light, you need to be positive that you are visible to motorists who may have difficulty stopping quickly. Wear reflective or colorful clothing and use bike or flashlights to remain as visible as possible.

Warm Up and Cool Down
Before you head out the door, experts advise that you spend some time indoors preparing your muscles for your cold weather workout. Jog in place for five minutes before you plan to go outside to get your muscles revved up. The freezing temperatures can be an incredible shock to your muscles, so once you do step out the door, experts suggest taking short 30 second breaks during the first few minutes of your workout. This allows them to acclimate to the climate and helps prevent damage or discomfort.

Winter workouts also require a cool down period. Three to four minutes before you plan on stopping your workout, slow your pace down. Do your stretching indoors and remove any extra layers of clothing after you’re done. Walk around for another four to five minutes before showering for the most effective cool down.

Know Your Limits and Have Some Flexibility
In the summer, you may be able to run six or seven miles without a problem. During the winter, although you may be able to do the same amount of miles, it takes a much larger toll on your body. When the temperatures are freezing, your body is working overtime to keep you warm and overexerting yourself subjects your body to unnecessary stress. Experts recommend starting the winter slowly and then building up to a longer workout. For example, instead of running six miles, start with three and gradually add a bit more mileage each day.

If you enjoy working out as part of your routine and you keep to a certain schedule, winter can be a very frustrating time for your outdoor exercise. By taking necessary precautions, you can safely work out first thing in the morning, but experts suggest being a bit more flexible with your routine. If possible, stick to late afternoon hours for outdoor exercise when the temperature is at its peak and the roads have been attended to. It’s noble to believe there is no such thing as weather that is too bad to stop you from working out, but trainers and athletic experts remind you to put your safety first. Ice, snow, sleet, hail, unplowed roads or extreme darkness are all serious challenges and it’s best to know when to say no to your outdoor routine.

According to Dr. Kevin Plancher of Plancher Orthopaedics and Sports Medicines, NYC, exercise can help in increasing endorphin (feel good hormones) levels, but since the body has to work harder due to the cold, the endorphin production is further boosted, leading to an even more happier state of mind. Exposure to natural light, of which there is a shortage in the winter, is also proven to help alleviate depression. Your winter workout provides so many benefits, and using these three tips, you can be sure that you’re working out effectively and safely.

Friends shaking hands

Live Well: Links Between Gratitude and Depression

The holiday season has begun and while this is a festive and joyous time, many people still experience anxiety, depression and stress during this time of year. If you find yourself struggling with depression in the midst of all the holiday cheer, you might be interested to know that perhaps the most important aspect of Thanksgiving actually can lift your mood. The links between gratitude and depression are backed by studies and scientific research that tell you that giving thanks can make you a healthier, happier individual.

What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is derived from the Latin word, gratia, which can mean several things depending upon the context. Gratia means thanks, being grateful, graciousness and gracefulness. Harvard Health states “[i]n some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible.” To practice gratitude, you must acknowledge that your life is full of great things, even if you don’t always feel that way. In doing so, you will usually realize that there are many things outside of yourself that you are appreciative of and that give your life meaning and pleasure. Harvard notes that “…gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature or a higher power.”

It is important to note that realizing how much better off you are than others does not equal gratitude. You can certainly appreciate that you have a car that drives you where you need to go, that you don’t have to worry about where you’re next meal is coming from or that you have clothes that fit and are clean, but gratitude is not about making comparisons. Gratitude is all about you taking the time to truly acknowledge and appreciate what you have in your life.

Gratitude and Depression: The Science Behind it
In an article published on Psychology Today, author Alex Korb, Ph.D., several studies on gratitude and your health and happiness are summarized with the links being clear. A 2003 study lead by American researchers recruited young adults to see what effect gratitude has on happiness. One group of young adults was asked to keep a daily gratitude journal and to write in it every day. Other groups of young adults was also asked to keep a daily journal, and one group was told to write about things that annoyed them while the other was told to journal about ways in which they realized they were better off than others. “The young adults assigned to keep gratitude journals showed greater increases in determination, attention, enthusiasm and energy compared to the other groups.” The same researchers then conducted a separate study on adults and the findings were consistent with those of the young adult study findings. In the adult study, the links between gratitude and happiness were observed even if the adults did not write in the journal daily, and the researchers also noticed that exercise patterns approved in adults who were mindful of things to be thankful for.

How to Cultivate Gratitude
“Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone’s gratitude, it’s a quality that individuals can cultivate further,” according to Harvard Health. Your daily life is filled with so many stresses and obligations that it can be all too easy to forget how so many amazing things happen each and every day. It doesn’t have to take a natural disaster, like Hurricane Katrina, for you to realize that the simplest of things are sources of gratitude: running water, electricity and shelter. Practicing gratitude requires commitment and consistency in order to truly live a grateful life. One quick and easy way to practice gratitude daily is to keep a small notebook beside or near your bed. At night, before you tuck yourself into bed, write down at least one thing for which you were grateful that day.

Anxiety, stress and depression are incredibly common occurrences and taking proactive steps to combat these feelings can help empower you and significantly improve your mental health. A gratitude journal is an excellent way to decrease feelings of depression. Investing just a small amount of money for a notebook and pen (both of which you probably already have in your home) and a small amount of time each night can help significantly reduce depression.

Nutrient supplements

Judging Vitamin A Supplements: Which are the Best?

Vitamin A is absolutely critical for proper body functioning. This vitamin works in many areas of your body from your eyes and skin to your bones and reproductive system. Dietary sources of vitamin A are plentiful, particularly among fruits and vegetables like carrots, kale, spinach and sweet potatoes. If you are worried about a deficiency in vitamin A, talk to your doctor about vitamin A supplements.

Why Take Vitamin A Supplements?
Vitamin A is essentially a blanket term used to describe retinoids. Retinoids are biologically active complexes found in both plants and animals. Vitamin A is essential for your body as it assists with numerous aspects of your overall health. Perhaps most famously, vitamin A is vital to your eye health. Remember the whole carrots are good for you saying? While it’s not entirely true, it’s also not entirely false. The beta-carotene in carrots converts to vitamin A in your body, and benefits your eyes by helping you distinguish colors, protecting the cornea (outer surface of the eye) and preventing vision loss. Additionally, vitamin A has been shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration, though more study is needed.

It isn’t just your eyes that benefit when you are receiving proper vitamin A levels. Vitamin A is also essential for bone growth, reproduction and your immune system health. You may be familiar with vitamin A as retinol, one of the greatest skin care ingredients you can use. Vitamin A repels bacteria, making it an excellent anti-acne treatment, and helps to turn over newer, healthier skin cells.

How Much Vitamin A do you Need?
The amount of vitamin A, like all vitamins, depends upon several factors including your age and gender. In general, the following are the recommended daily intake of vitamin A:

  • Men – 3,000 IU (900 micrograms)
  • Women – 2,300 IU (700 micrograms)
  • Pregnant Women – 2,600 IU (770 micrograms)
  • Lactating Women – 4,300 IU (1,300 micrograms)

Because vitamin A can interact with other things and because taking too much causes adverse health reactions, it is highly recommended that you consult with your doctor to learn the appropriate daily intake for you.

Which Vitamin A Supplements are the Best?

  • NOW Foods Vitamin A from Fish Liver Oil – These are a highly rated supplement with satisfied customers raving about improved vision and skin.
  • NOW Foods Beta-Carotene – This supplement is produced from carotenoids that occur naturally in D. salina sea algae.
  • Nature Made Vitamin A – The Nature Made Vitamin A supplements take their primary source of vitamin A from sardine liver oil.
  • Source Naturals Vitamin A – These tablet use palmitate and are suitable for vegetarians.
  • Solgar Dry Vitamin A – Derived from deep-sea, cold-water fish these softgels have been molecularly distilled to remove any contaminants.

Warnings About Vitamin A Supplements
It is definitely true that vitamin A is crucial for your body, but there are some caveats when taking vitamin A. The U.S. National Library of Medicine states vitamin A may be unsafe when taken orally in high doses. Long-term use of large amounts of vitamin A might also cause serious side effects such as irritability, fatigue, anorexia, mental changes, nausea, stomach discomfort, vomiting, excessive sweating, mild fever, and more.

Experts recommend trying to get your daily intake of vitamin A from dietary sources and to use supplements as needed. Because there are potential interactions with medications or other herbs and supplements, it is advised to check with your doctor before beginning a vitamin A supplement regimen. Specifically related to beta-carotene, smokers are advised against using the supplement as it can increase the risk of lung cancer, though more research is required. Use of vitamin A supplements can be a great way to make sure you aren’t deficient in vitamin A, but be sure to consult with a healthcare professional so you take vitamin A supplements safely.

Child eating a carrot

Live Well: Can Vitamin A Improve Your Eyesight?

When you parents told you to eat your carrots because “they’re good for your eyes,” they weren’t just trying to get you to eat more vegetables. Carrots by themselves certainly are not solely responsible for your eyesight, but the vitamin A that is contained in carrots is definitely an important factor in your overall eye health.

What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a group of unsaturated nutritional organic compounds and these compounds are responsible for the maintenance or regulation of a variety of functions in your body. There are two types of dietary vitamin A: preformed vitamin A and pro-vitamin A. Preformed vitamin A is prevalent in meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. Pro-vitamin A is found in plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables. The most common form of pro-vitamin A found in plant-based sources is beta-carotene.

Vitamin A and Eyesight
Vitamin A does promote good visions and it is especially important for your ability to see in the dark or areas that are not well lit. This fat-soluble vitamin is also important because it aids your eyes in distinguishing colors. Another reason vitamin A is so essential for eyesight is that this vitamin protects your cornea, the surface of your eye. The mucous membrane that covers your eyes is responsible for acting as a barrier to keep viruses and bacteria your eyes, preventing infection. Vitamin A is so crucial to your eyesight that frequently the earliest and most common signs of a vitamin A deficiency are night blindness and/or vision loss.

Vitamin A and Overall Eye Health
In addition to improving and protecting your eyesight, there are multiple other eye disorders and conditions that vitamin A helps combat. Dry eye syndrome is uncomfortable, but highly treatable with eye drops. Vitamin A can fight some types of eye inflammation and the use of vitamin A eye drops can help cure dry eye syndrome. One study found that using over-the-counter lubricating eye drops with vitamin A was every bit as effective as using a more expensive prescription eye drop treatment for dry eye.

A study sponsored by the National Eye Institute suggests that vitamin A in conjunction with other antioxidants may play a role in decreasing your risk of macular degeneration, a condition that results in vision loss. Macular degeneration affects 10 million Americans, more than glaucoma and cataracts combined. The study focused on age-related macular degeneration and it indicated a 25% reduction in the risk of age-related macular degeneration over a six-year period.

Vitamin A not only improves vision, it also prevents the risk of vision loss and increases your overall eye health. The best way to get some added vitamin A is to increase your consumption of foods that are rich in vitamin A. Dietary sources of vitamin A include carrots, beef liver, kale, spinach and sweet potatoes. Vitamin A supplements are also an option for increasing your vitamin A intake and your parents were right….carrots are good for your eyes.

Peppermint oil.

Your Guide to Essential Oils

For centuries, essential oils have been used for a large variety of cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Knowing which essential oils to use for your specific concerns can be a bit overwhelming if you’ve never tried them before. Here, we’ve listed our top three essential oils that are perfect if you’re looking to learn more about how essential oils can benefit your overall health.

Lavender oil

Lavender
Lavender is one of the most widely used essential oils and rightly so because it is a versatile essential oil. Perhaps the most frequent use of lavender essential oil is to soothe emotional stress and increase feelings of relaxation. Lavender can help to release nervous tension, and relieve symptoms of depression. Physically, lavender helps to reduce inflammation in your body and can help alleviate headaches or migraines. Lavender is one of the essential oils that can be used safely on your skin and a few drops on your wrist or the nape of your neck may help to soothe you and eliminate headaches. If you have difficulty sleeping, add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a spray bottle filled with water. Mist lightly on your pillow before going to bed.

Peppermint
Peppermint is another hugely versatile essential oil providing benefits that range from headache and nausea relief to stimulating alertness. Stomach related uses for peppermint oil include relieving an upset stomach or indigestion, reducing motion sickness and even helping to curb your appetite. If your stomach is upset, try rubbing a few drops of peppermint oil onto your abdomen or dab onto your wrists. Simply inhaling peppermint oil’s scent can help you feel more full, but you can also place a bit on your wrists or a tiny (seriously an itty bitty drop) right under your nose before eating. Peppermint oil is also used to treat stress; place a few drops in a diffuser and feel the tension melt away. Another incredibly common use of peppermint oil is to eliminate headaches and stimulate energy. Place a few drops on the nape of your neck to take care of your headache and re-energize yourself.

Tea tree oil.

Tea Tree
Tea tree is not an essential oil that is commonly associated with aromatherapy, but it has incredible benefits. This essential oil is used frequently to treat skin problems such as blemishes, dandruff, athlete’s foot and minor cuts, scrapes and burns. While some can tolerate this oil directly on the skin without dilution, it’s generally recommended to add a few drops of tea tree oil to water or a carrier oil (such as jojoba or sweet almond oil) before applying to your skin. Once you have diluted the tea tree oil, rub onto cuts, massage into scalp or apply on blemishes. You can also add a few drops to your shampoo to receive anti-dandruff benefits without having to purchase an entirely new shampoo. A mixture of tea tree oil and water in a spray bottle is also a great way to sanitize beauty products such as tweezers or makeup brushes due to the antibacterial properties in tea tree oil.

It is important to note that while many essential oils are considered safe for skin, some like tea tree or bergamot may burn skin. Always do a patch test on skin before using an essential oil topically to be sure you won’t have a negative reaction. Other ways to use essential oils include diffusers, sprays or simply opening a bottle and inhaling. Our lifestyle partner, 21 Drops, offers custom essential oil blends to keep you energized, calm, happy and healthy.

Woman painting

Live Well: Ways to Instantly Improve Your Mood

If you’ve ever thought to yourself that it will nice to be happy someday, listen up. You don’t have to make happy an abstract goal for your future, you can do things to make yourself happy in the next few minutes. We put together three of the quickest and easiest ways you can instantly improve your mood no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Woman sitting besides a pond.

Head Outside
You know the saying ‘you’re only one workout away from a good mood?’ It’s completely true, but it can be difficult to increase physical activity during periods of depression or great stress. Even if you don’t have added feelings of lethargy from depression, it can be difficult to find time for a workout in the middle of your workday when you find yourself stressed and anxious. Taking a brisk walk can significantly boost your mood and energy levels, and venturing outside for your walk is even more beneficial. Research points to the fact that sunlight stimulates chemicals in your brain that help improve your mood. You don’t have to spend your entire lunch hour outside working up a sweat, just a 10-minute brisk walk is all you need to feel reinvigorated. And if you absolutely can’t get outside due to location or weather, spend some time roaming the office halls or walking the stairs for a quick burst of energy.

Chamomile Tea.

Drink Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea has long been a bedtime remedy for those who have trouble falling asleep and recent studies show that drinking this tea really is effective at reducing anxiety or feelings of stress. In a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, 57 participants who had been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder were given chamomile supplements for a period of eight weeks. The results were a significant drop in anxiety levels and increased feelings of calm. Research from the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that in addition to promoting calm, chamomile tea can promote sleep. Drink a cup of chamomile tea after a hectic work meeting in the afternoon or at the end of the day to promote peaceful, calm feelings or to really unwind, turn off your electronic devices (yes, including the TV and your cell phone) and enjoy a cup nightly with a book or your favorite music playing. This helps create a ritual that your body associates with feelings of rest and relaxation.

Aromatherapy oils.

Use Aromatherapy
For centuries, aromatherapy and essential oils have been used to address a vast number of concerns that include soothing ailments both physical and mental. The next time your mood declining, try one of the following essential oils. Lemon is particularly helpful when you are feeling angry, anxious or rundown and exhausted because it promotes concentration in addition to containing calming and clarifying properties. If you’re feeling sad or depressed, try jasmine. Jasmine, like lemon, also has a soothing effect, but it also helps lift your mood by increasing optimism, energy levels and confidence. When you need to really unwind and relax, reach for lavender because lavender soothes nerves, relieves nervous tension and can help control depression. One of our lifestyle partners, 21 Drops, features incredible, unique blends of essential oils in a fun and convenient packaging so you can take your essential oils with you wherever you go and not have to worry about spills or bulky glass containers.

It would be amazing to be calm, happy and energetic all the time, but that just isn’t very realistic. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to just muddle through feelings of anxiety or depression. These three tips help you to instantly improve your mood, helping you to tackle stress and negativity in a positive way.

Woman with the flu

Live Well: 5 Feel Better Tips for Flu Season

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “it is estimated that in the United States, each year on average 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications.” You may just consider the flu an uncomfortable nuisance, but it can be quite severe. Flu season is just around the corner, so we’ve compiled a list of our five best feel better tips for flu season.

Vaccine.

Get Vaccinated Early
If you’ve ever been vaccinated with the flu only to end up in a bed for a week, it might be due to the timing of your flu vaccine. The flu vaccine takes roughly two full weeks to take effect, so if you head to your doctor in the middle of a nasty outbreak, you may end up coming down with the flu before your body has sufficient time to build antibodies. Keep in mind that the flu vaccine is not 100% effective at preventing the flu, but it is associated with lower hospitalization rates in both children and adults.

Washing hands.

Wash Your Hands
You hear this advice all the time, but with good reason. Sudsing up your hands and scrubbing them often is one of the best ways to prevent coming down with the flu. Dr. Fran Wallach, hospital epidemiologist at the Mount Sinai Hospital and associate professor Medicine, Infectious Diseases as the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai says, “[t]he two most important things you can do for yourself to avoid the flu is to get an actual flu vaccine and the second is to have good hand hygiene.” Your hands are in constant contact with germs and many viruses spread when your fingers make contact with your mouth or eyes. Washing your hands helps to eliminate that risk. If you can’t make it to a sink, it’s a good idea to carry hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60% on you so you can sanitize when you need to.

Washing hands with soap

Wash Your Hands…Correctly
When washing your hands, use warm water and soap and lather together for at least 20 seconds. As you lather, be sure to get under your nails, between your fingers, the fronts and backs of your hands and go up the wrist a bit. After 20 to 30 seconds, rinse and then dry with a dryer or paper towels. Avoid using shared towels, where germs and bacteria can grow. If you’re using hand sanitizer, be sure to use enough to thoroughly cover the hands (about a nickel sized amount) and rub the solution into your hands for 15 to 20 seconds.

Woman walking on a treadmill.

Get Moving
Engaging regularly in moderate exercise is associated with a stronger immune system and the CDC recommends being active as one way to combat getting sick. Take advantage of the beautiful fall scenery with a hike or park as far away as possible at the mall when doing your holiday shopping to get some extra walking in. If you feel like hitting the gym, head over to the treadmill for some brisk walking, use the stair-climber or sign up for a yoga class.

Woman down with the flu.

Stay Home
Taking a sick day sometimes seems like a complete luxury, but during flu season it’s best to think of staying away from work as a necessity. Not getting enough sleep in itself is a factor in contracting the flu because lack of sleep is associated with lower immune functions, so it’s extra important to be sure that you are getting plenty of sleep when you do have the flu. But staying home isn’t only about you and your rest. The flu can be active in your body without you experiencing any symptoms of the illness and by the time you do display flu symptoms, you are definitely contagious. Avoid getting sicker and infecting those around you by taking a few sick days to fully rest and recuperate. When you absolutely must leave your home, be sure to cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing (into your elbow is the recommended method).

Healthy habits and good hygiene are two of the most important factors when it comes to avoiding the flu this season. Children and the elderly are among those with the highest risk of catching the flu, so it is especially important to use these tips if you fall into, or if you care for someone who falls into, those categories. Using these five feel better tips helps you to survive flu season as healthy as possible.

Woman taking a shower and shampooing her hair

Why You Shouldn't Shower Daily

You may shower to wake you up in the morning or help you wind down at night and you probably look forward to doing so. Chances are you also do this on a daily basis. You may want to rethink your daily shower, as dermatologists deem doing so as potentially harmful to your skin. Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a Boston dermatologist, says “[w]e over bathe in this country and that’s really important to realize. A lot of the reason we do it is because of societal norms.” So, should you skip your daily cleansing ritual? Not necessarily. Resveralife researched the thoughts behind not showering each and every day and how to properly shower to protect your skin from damage.

Why Skip Showers
Dr. Casey Carlos, assistant professor of medicine in the division of dermatology at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, says “[p]eople don’t realize that the skin does a pretty good job of cleaning itself.” Still, our inclination is to do it ourselves daily in the shower. Carlos and other dermatologists advice showering less to keep skin at its healthiest.

How to Shower
You know how to shower; you’ve been doing it since you were a kid, but dermatologists suggest that perhaps it’s how you shower that does the most damage to your skin. The first thing you should be doing is lowering the temperature of the water. Hot showers may feel soothing and relaxing, but they also add to the damage your skin suffers in the shower. Use warm, not hot, water when you shower.

Your natural inclination is to step into the shower and lather up everything from your hair to the tips of your feet. “It’s the hardest thing to get people to use soap only where they need it,” says Dr. Casey Carlos. Soap is designed to remove oils from the skin, and sometimes it can do too good of a job. Using soap only on areas that need it (armpits, feet, and groin area) can help minimize the damage that showering does.

And, if you’re still washing your hair every day, you might want to give that up too. Shampoo, like soap, strips your hair of natural oils. If you must shampoo, use a gentle shampoo only at the roots of the hair because it will rinse down into the ends of your hair and clean them. Condition the mid to ends of your hair to avoid irritating the scalp with unnecessary heavy products.

Once out of the shower, moisturize immediately. Adding moisture back into the skin while it is still damp helps your skin to better absorb moisturizing products.

It may feel completely unnatural to not shower or shampoo daily, but you will get used to it. If you want to protect your skin but absolutely must have water to do so, consider taking a warm bath in between shower days. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes in warm water then moisturize afterward. Post workout use, refreshing pre-moistened cloths to keep yourself feeling fresh. Skipping your daily shower helps strengthen and take care of your skin.

Woman looking at her phone in a beach.

5 W's of Digital Detox

When was the last time that you took a break from all digital devices and just turned everything off for 24 hours? Chances are you don’t remember. Computers, smartphones, tablets and watches, among others, keep you constantly connected no matter where you are and what you’re doing. There are constant demands for your attention in the digital age and constantly responding to every notification, feed update or e-mail is not only overwhelming, it may be doing more harm than good. If you really can’t remember the last time you put technology away for an entire day, it’s time for you to consider a digital detox.

What is a Digital Detox?
A digital detox is pretty much what the name implies; unplugging from all digital technology for a set period of time. All devices (computers, tablets, laptops, smartphones, etc…) are switched off so you can enjoy some time away from the screens and focused on the other areas of your life that you may neglect. The amount of time you spend on a digital detox is up to you, but most experts recommend that you spend at least 24 hours away from all of your digital devices. It can be jarring to go from being updated on everything by the second to being completely screen-free, so start with 24 hours and work your way up to longer periods of time.

Woman working on a tablet.

When Should You Digital Detox?
The frequency of how often, and for how long, you participate in a digital detox is completely up to you. Realistically, there are times when being away from your work computer or your smartphone just isn’t an option, so pick a day where you know that you don’t have any obligations. If you have kids, then you may feel uneasy about keeping a phone off all day if kids are out of the house. If this is the case then either plan to have your kids spend the day with someone you trust implicitly, or make the detox a family event and spend some quality time reconnecting to one another.

Who Needs a Digital Detox?
Let’s face it, modern society is swept up in constantly checking social media accounts, news and entertainment sites, playing games or texting no matter where people are or what else is happening. Everybody can benefit from a digital detox now and then, especially you.

Beautiful resort.

Where do You do a Digital Detox?
The beauty of a digital detox is that you don’t need to go anywhere at all. You can keep technology off for 24 hours in the comfort of your own home and rediscover that book you’ve been meaning to read or tackling a home improvement project that you’ve been postponing. While some people think that digital detox is just a fad, there are others who take the idea very seriously. There is an increasing number of hotels, resorts and spas that are dedicated to providing a soothing, luxurious atmosphere that is completely free from digital distraction.

Why do a Digital Detox?
While staying connected every waking moment may seem like a productive way to spend your day, doing so can actually have adverse effects. When your attention is divided among so many different types of news, information and alerts, you are actually decreasing your attention span. A digital detox allows you to have conversations that reach a conclusion instead of just stopping because your phone is going off every five minutes. Additionally, a digital detox is an important way to make the loved ones in your life feel cherished. Spending time not staring at screens and actually making contact and allowing yourself to fully listen and pay attention during conversations shows those around you that you do value them. But perhaps most importantly, a digital detox gives you time to unwind, relax and recharge so that when you do return to work, you are returning more productive than before.

The idea of shutting everything off for 24 hours can be super overwhelming, but it provides so many benefits. To get the rewards a digital detox offers, practice resistance and leave everything off. A true digital detox does not allow “just checking one e-mail” or tweeting about your experience. Further, practicing a digital detox is not a once and done thing. You should aim to do so every few weeks in order to allow yourself to fully experience life and to return to your digital world with a fresh perspective.