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Here’s how to stay healthy when you’re traveling

When you’re traveling the world, picking up bugs, getting stressed, and risking your health on a myriad of other ways is something that can and does happen. That’s why you need to ensure that you take extra good care of your health when you’re on the road.

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Traveling is a wonderful way to expand your horizons, experience other cultures and feed the soul, but as anyone who’s put on their backpack to go on an adventure before will tell you it’s isn’t always glamorous. When you’re traveling the world, picking up bugs, getting stressed, and risking your health on a myriad of other ways is something that can and does happen. That’s why you need to ensure that you take extra good care of your health when you’re on the road.

To help you with that, here are some simple tips to stay healthy when you’re traveling.

Wash Your Hands Regularly

This is a pretty simple one, and something that you should really be doing whether you’re traveling or not, but when you’re visiting lots of crowded airports and staying in hostels, it becomes even more important that you wash your hands often. Doing so will help to get rid of most of the nasty germs and bacteria that can leave you with an upset stomach, food poisoning and a whole host of other nasties. Antibacterial hand gel will be your best friend on those long trips.

Know What You Can and Cannot Eat/Drink

Another no-brainer, but it’s worth reminding you that certain foods and tap water that it would be fine to drink at home could be contaminated in various locations overseas. So, always check what is safe and unsafe to eat and drink in every new location you visit. Nothing zaps travel of its glamour faster than a bad dose of food poisoning.

Do Some Yoga

When you travel, it’s pretty easy to get stressed out as you run to catch your flight, look for safe places to stay and deal with security amongst other things. Not only that, but your body can get pretty stiff and uncomfortable the more you travel packed into trains and planes too. So, it makes total sense to take some time out to do a little yoga (or even just stretching) to untangle those knotted muscles and help you regain your mental equilibrium. You can do yoga anywhere, even in surprisingly small spaces, so give it a go and you’ll feel so much better.

Protect Your Ears

When you’re traveling, especially if you’re on a plane, you can often experience problems with your ears due to the changing pressure in the cabin and the roar of the engines. If you have sensitive ears or hearing problems already, investing in custom protection for your sense organs is a great way of ensuring that you don’t experience things like tinnitus and hearing loss. Then to prevent the pain from your ears popping as the air pressure changes, be sure to do the Valsalva manoeuvre. This should be enough to keep your ears in good shape.

Get Lots of Sleep

Travel is so exciting and there’s so much to do that it’s so easy to stay up partying all night and then spend all day taking in the sights, but you need to sleep. If you don’t get enough shut-eye each night, your system will be weaker and you’ll be more likely to pick up bugs and get sick. Give yourself time to recharge and you’ll appreciate the experiences you do have so much more.

Have an awesome adventure.

Health & Wellness

Gender affirmation linked with trans, gender nonbinary youth mental health improvement

Having accessed multiple steps of gender affirmation (social, legal, and medical/surgical) was associated with fewer symptoms of depression and less anxiety. Furthermore, engaging in gender affirmation processes helped youth to develop a sense of pride and positivity about their gender identity and a feeling of being socially accepted.

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Enabling transgender and gender nonbinary youth to access gender affirmation processes is good.

This is according to a study – “Gender Affirmation Is Associated with Transgender and Gender Nonbinary Youth Mental Health Improvement” – done by Anna Martha Vaitses Fontanari, Felipe Vilanova, Maiko Abel Schneider, Itala Chinazzo, Bianca Machado Soll, Karine Schwarz, Maria Inês Rodrigues Lobato, and Angelo Brandelli Costa; and which appeared in LGBT Health.

The study aimed to evaluate the impact of each domain of gender affirmation (social, legal, and medical/surgical) on the mental health of transgender and gender nonbinary youth. To do this, 350 transgender boys, transgender girls, and gender nonbinary Brazilian youth, aged from 16 to 24 years old, were asked to answer an online survey.

Among the 350 participants, a total of 149 (42.64%) youth identified as transgender boys, 85 (24.28%) identified as transgender girls, and 116 (33.14%) identified as gender nonbinary youth. The mean age was 18.61 (95% confidence interval 18.34–18.88) years. Having accessed multiple steps of gender affirmation (social, legal, and medical/surgical) was associated with fewer symptoms of depression and less anxiety. Furthermore, engaging in gender affirmation processes helped youth to develop a sense of pride and positivity about their gender identity and a feeling of being socially accepted.

“Enabling transgender and gender nonbinary youth to access gender affirmation processes more easily should be considered as a strategy to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as to improve gender positivity,” the researchers stated.

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Health & Wellness

Bullying is common factor in LGBTQ youth suicides, Yale study finds

Death records of LGBTQ youth who died by suicide were substantially more likely to mention bullying as a factor than their non-LGBTQ peers.

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Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health have found that death records of LGBTQ youth who died by suicide were substantially more likely to mention bullying as a factor than their non-LGBTQ peers. The researchers reviewed nearly 10,000 death records of youth ages 10 to 19 who died by suicide in the United States from 2003 to 2017.

The findings are published in the current issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

While LGBTQ youth are more likely to be bullied and to report suicidal thoughts and behaviors than non-LGBTQ youth, this is believed to be the first study showing that bullying is a more common precursor to suicide among LGBTQ youth than among their peers.

“We expected that bullying might be a more common factor, but we were surprised by the size of the disparity,” said lead author Kirsty Clark, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale School of Public Health. “These findings strongly suggest that additional steps need to be taken to protect LGBTQ youth — and others — against the insidious threat of bullying.”

Death records from LGBTQ youths were about five times more likely to mention bullying than non-LGBTQ youths’ death records, the study found. Among 10- to 13-year-olds, over two-thirds of LGBTQ youths’ death records mentioned that they had been bullied.

Bullying is a major public health problem among youth, and it is especially pronounced among LGBTQ youth, said the researchers. Clark and her co-authors used data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-led database that collects information on violent deaths, including suicides, from death certificates, law enforcement reports, and medical examiner and coroner records.

Death records in the database include narrative summaries from law enforcement reports and medical examiner and coroner records regarding the details of the youth’s suicide as reported by family or friends, the youth’s diary, social media posts, and text or email messages, as well as any suicide note. Clark and her team searched these narratives for words and phrases that suggested whether the individual was LGBTQ. They followed a similar process to identify death records mentioning bullying.

“Bullies attack the core foundation of adolescent well-being,” said John Pachankis, the Susan Dwight Bliss Associate Professor of Public Health at the Yale School of Public Health and study co-author. “By showing that bullying is also associated with life itself for LGBTQ youth, this study urgently calls for interventions that foster safety, belonging and esteem for all young people.”

Other authors on the study include Anthony J. Maiolatesi, doctoral student at Yale School of Public Health, and Susan Cochran, professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

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Health & Wellness

Impact of children’s loneliness today could manifest in depression for years to come

Young people who are lonely might be as much as three times more likely to develop depression in the future, and that the impact of loneliness on mental health could last for at least 9 years.

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Children and adolescents are likely to experience high rates of depression and anxiety long after current lockdown and social isolation ends and clinical services need to be prepared for a future spike in demand, according to the authors of a new rapid review into the long-term mental health effects of lockdown.

The research, which draws on over 60 pre-existing, peer-reviewed studies into topics spanning isolation, loneliness and mental health for young people aged 4 – 21, is published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

According to the review, young people who are lonely might be as much as three times more likely to develop depression in the future, and that the impact of loneliness on mental health could last for at least 9 years.

The studies highlight an association between loneliness and an increased risk of mental health problems for young people. There is also evidence that duration of loneliness may be more important than the intensity of loneliness in increasing the risk of future depression among young people.

This, say the authors, should act as a warning to policymakers of the expected rise in demand for mental health services from young people and young adults in the years to come – both here in the UK and around the world.

Dr Maria Loades, clinical psychologist from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath who led the work, explained: “From our analysis, it is clear there are strong associations between loneliness and depression in young people, both in the immediate and the longer-term. We know this effect can sometimes be lagged, meaning it can take up to 10 years to really understand the scale of the mental health impact the covid-19 crisis has created.”

For teachers and policymakers currently preparing for a phased re-start of schools in the UK, scheduled from today, Monday 1 June, Dr Loades suggests the research could have important implications for how this process is managed too.

She adds: “There is evidence that it’s the duration of loneliness as opposed to the intensity which seems to have the biggest impact on depression rates in young people. This means that returning to some degree of normality as soon as possible is of course important. However, how this process is managed matters when it comes to shaping young people’s feelings and experiences about this period.

“For our youngest and their return to school from this week, we need to prioritise the importance of play in helping them to reconnect with friends and adjust following this intense period of isolation.”

Members of the review team were also involved in a recent open letter to UK Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson MP, focusing on support for children’s social and emotional wellbeing during and after lockdown.

In their letter they suggested that:

  • The easing of lockdown restrictions should be done in a way that provides all children with the time and opportunity to play with peers, in and outside of school, and even while social distancing measures remain in place;
  • Schools should be appropriately resourced and given clear guidance on how to support children’s emotional wellbeing during the transition period as schools reopen and that play – rather than academic progress – should be the priority during this time;
  • The social and emotional benefits of play and interaction with peers must be clearly communicated, alongside guidance on the objective risks to children.

Acknowledging the trade-offs that need to be struck in terms of restarting the economy and reducing educational disparities, their letter to the Education Secretary concludes: ‘Poor emotional health in children leads to long term mental health problems, poorer educational attainment and has a considerable economic burden.’

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NEWSMAKERS

Tech-related jealousy is real… including LGBTQIAs

According to the Pew Research Center, about one-third of LGB partnered adults whose significant other uses social media report that they have felt jealous or unsure in their current relationship because of how their partner interacted with others on social media (versus 22% of straight people who say this).

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Social media can be a source of jealousy and uncertainty in relationships – especially for younger adults.

This is according to a Pew Research Center study (with the survey conducted in October 2019, though the study was only released recently) that found that, indeed, many people encounter tech-related struggles with their significant others.

In “Dating and Relationships in the Digital Age”, Pew Research Center noted that “younger people value social media as a place to share how much they care about their partner or to keep up with what’s going on in their partner’s life.” However, “they also acknowledge some of the downsides that these sites can have on relationships.”

Twenty-three percent (23%) of adults with partners who use social media say they have felt jealous or unsure about their relationship because of the way their current spouse or partner interacts with other people on social media.

Now get this: the number is higher among those in younger age groups.

Among partnered adults whose significant other uses social media, 34% of 18- to 29-year-olds and 26% of those ages 30 to 49 say they have felt jealous or unsure in their current relationship because of how their partner interacted with others on social media. This is definitely higher than the 19% of those aged 50 to 64 who say this, and 4% of those ages 65 and up.

The insecurity is also common among those not married – i.e. 37% of unmarried adults with partners who are social media users say they have felt this way about their current partner, while only 17% of married people say the same.

Women are reportedly more likely to express displeasure with how their significant other interacts with others on social media (29% vs. 17% for men).

Meanwhile, college graduates are less likely to report having felt this way than those with some college experience or a high school degree or less.

And yes, LGBTQIA community members are no different.

According to the Pew Research Center, about one-third of LGB partnered adults whose significant other uses social media report that they have felt jealous or unsure in their current relationship because of how their partner interacted with others on social media (versus 22% of straight people who say this).

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Lifestyle & Culture

Does cannabis make you poo?

So, what exactly is going on, and how does cannabis affect the human stomach, and our need to do number 2?

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Besides calming, generally fun and beneficial effects it has on our nervous system, it seems that cannabis also affects our gastrointestinal system. And no, we’re not talking about munchies. 

If you ever felt the effects of cannabis on your gastrointestinal system, then you know we’re talking about running to the bathroom to make number two. And in case you were wondering, you’re not alone, because more than a few fellow herbal enthusiasts reported the very same thing. Apparently, weed interacts with our stomach and makes us poo.  

Now, to avoid presenting you with anecdotal evidence, we had to read through several studies regarding the effects that cannabis has on our gastrointestinal system. And according to a study published by The American Journal of Gastroenterology, any recent use of marijuana decreases the odd of constipation. However, this effect is counter to the already known physiological effect cannabis has on colonic motility.

So, what exactly is going on, and how does cannabis affect the human stomach, and our need to do number 2?

Puff-puff, poop-poop

To approach this topic properly and explain how cannabis makes us poop, first, we must understand how stress affects our brain, and our GI tract. 

From an evolutionary standpoint, it would be really impractical to defecate while you’re being chased or attacked by a predator. Our automatic nervous system unconsciously regulates our heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, sexual arousal, and urination and defecation. It’s a primary mechanism in control of fight-or-flight response. 

Whenever you find yourself in a dangerous situation, your sympathetic nervous system activates the physiological changes that occur dung fight-or-flight. It releases adrenaline or noradrenaline, and prepares the body for violent muscular action, like fighting, or running for your life. Among its many physiological effects, the release of adrenaline or noradrenaline slows down your stomach and digestion or stops it completely.

In contrast, the parasympathetic nervous system activates the “rest and digest” response, once the danger has passed, and returns the body to normal after the fight-or-flight response. Of course, it relaxes all the necessary muscles, regulates your heartbeat and breathing, and kickstarts your digestion. But what does cannabis have to do with all of this?

Well, if you’re under stress, your nervous system might perceive that as a threat, at least to some degree. Unfortunately, many people take their work-related stress home with them, still thinking and stressing around work, which can definitely affect bowel movement. So, when the times come for you to empty your bowels, you might be too stressed to do so without even realizing it.

We need a relaxed and comfortable place to be able to defecate, but our minds need to be relaxed and comfortable too. And that’s where weed kick’s in. Its calming properties can suppress the excessive sympathetic activity caused by stress, allowing your body to shift into “rest and digest” and do the deed.

But does it really work?

It does. A study from 2016 concluded that our endocannabinoid system plays an important role in regulating gastrointestinal motility. In other words, it can help regulate bowel movement. 

Until recently, clinical evidence suggested that cannabinoids slow colonic transit. However, according to the study published by the AJG, cannabinoids from the marijuana plant have unique effects on bowel movement. The study concluded that, despite slowing down colonic transit, cannabinoids reduce the odds of constipation by 30%. 

In truth, many weed enthusiasts noted more effortless bowel movement after indulging in some cannabis. Still, there are two sides of that particular coin. If you suffer from pain or anxiety-related constipation, cannabis can help alleviate the symptoms and allow you to go more comfortably.

But weed can also worsen the situation if you’re not constipated due to stress or pain because it suppresses muscular contractions and secretion in the colon. This, in turn, slows down colon transit, making it harder to defecate, but helps with diarrhea.

These studies provided groundbreaking insights that can help with many other issues like irritable bowel syndrome or clinical endocannabinoid deficiency. Still, further studies are needed to identify how to utilize cannabis for alleviating constipation clinically. You can follow the news on websites like Leafly or MedSignals.

Conclusion

In conclusion, cannabis can make you poo, if you’re suffering from stress-related constipation. So, the next time your poop train refuses to leave the station, relax and spark up a doobie. Not only can it help you make dookie, but it can slow your poop train down if it starts running wild and free. 

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Lifestyle & Culture

4 Signs you suffer from anxiety and how to treat it

Here is a list of the symptoms to watch out for and how to get relief.

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Did you know that anxiety disorders are the most common types of mental illnesses in the United States of America? In fact, it is estimated that approximately two in every ten adults are affected. If you think that you might be one of them, you are probably wondering what your treatment options are.

Here is a list of the symptoms to watch out for and how to get relief. 

You struggle with insomnia 

Anxiety and stress lead to the release of strong stress hormones that can drastically impact your ability to both fall asleep and stay asleep. This insomnia often sets off a vicious cycle of fatigue throughout the day combined with dreading going to bed at night, which only exacerbates your worries. 

You constantly feel nervous 

Most people diagnosed with anxiety report feeling consistently nervous, ‘on edge,’ or restless. These feelings are not always associated with events but become a part of daily life regardless of what they are doing or where they are going. 

You notice a wide array of physical symptoms 

Along with feeling jittery and nervous, you might also notice a few physical manifestations of anxiety. For example, many anxiety sufferers will experience an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, profuse sweating, shaking hands, weakness, and certain stomach problems. 

You cannot rationalize with yourself 

Have you noticed that no matter how much you try to tell yourself that you are overreacting or to remind yourself that everything is going to be fine, your symptoms still do not dissipate? This is a sure-fire sign that anxiety is present. Anxiety is not rational, and it can be challenging to control it without outside help.

Treatment options for anxiety 

There is no doubt that one of the most effective solutions for the treatment of anxiety is CBD or hemp oil. The relief brought about through the ingestion or inhalation of CBD or hemp oil is due to the powerful natural agents working wonders on re-balancing your brain chemistry. There are both animal and human studies that corroborate these benefits, so it is definitely worth giving it a try to see if it helps you. Luckily, it is very easy to buy ready-made CBD/hemp oil (although costly) or to buy bulk hemp seeds and start growing the plants yourself at home. 

Other treatment options to consider for anxiety relief include meditation, finding a proper outlet for stress, cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and hypnosis. Many of these therapies are about trial and error, so be sure to try them all to find out which one works best for you. 

In some cases, simply talking to a therapist or a psychologist can help you to learn productive coping strategies for getting your feelings of anxiety under control. 

Once you are aware that your anxiety is playing a key role in your life and influencing you negatively, you can proceed to take action. Here’s hoping that you will find a worthwhile source of relief sooner rather than later.

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