The holiday season is often an exciting and much anticipated time of year. This season—for all its fun and festivities—often
comes with long lines, burdensome traffic, inclement weather and various pressures leaving you to feel stressed out and overwhelmed.
For many of us the holidays are nerve-wracking. Some attribute the stress to having to spend time with family, travel and excessive spending. But, in reality, the holidays are difficult because our self-talk, that never-ending commentary going on in our heads
that manages to rob us of joy and happiness. Below are three habits you can practice before, during and after family gatherings that will help with the process. Remember, it's not that people and situations make us feel badly, it's our self-talk about people
and situations that cause our negative emotions.
Robert Farra, PhD, Psychologist at NorthShore, provides the following strategies to help make the holidays truly merry:
Do you get stressed out during the holidays? What do you do to reduce it?
Now is the time when our shopping lists for holiday giving may include items for children of varying ages. While walking through the aisles, you’ll see plenty of new toys along with many of the tried-and-true classics (like building blocks and dolls). With
all the options out there, how do you know which toys are best suited for what ages?
The most colorful or cute toy on the shelf doesn’t always make it the best choice. It’s worthwhile to recognize that children of varying ages have achieved different development milestones. Just as you wouldn’t give an infant a LEGO® set, you also wouldn’t
buy a four year old a teething rattle.
Kenneth Fox, MD, a pediatrician at NorthShore, gives the following recommendations when shopping for age-appropriate toys:
Play is essential to a child’s physical, cognitive, social and moral development. Toys, books and experiences that enrich creative play make wonderful gifts for the season and support healthy child development all year long.
Can you remember a time when one of your children received a toy not well suited for his or her age? What did you do?
Walk into any public restroom and you’re certain to see a sign stating that employees must wash their hands before returning to work. Hopefully you know that this sign applies to more than just employees—you should be washing your hands after going to the
Not only does washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds help wash away the dirt and grime, it also helps remove germs including viruses and other potentially harmful bacteria.
Becky Miller, MD, Infectious Disease Physician at NorthShore, gives the following tips on the importance of washing your hands:
How many times a day do you wash your hands? Do you wash them more frequently when you’re sick?
How often do you purge your medicine cabinet? You should plan to clean through your cabinet and properly dispose of any medications every six months. Using expired medications can be hazardous to your health. Therefore, you should not be saving unused prescription
medications for later use, nor be saving expired prescription or over-the-counter medications.
Tina Zook, Pharmacy Manager, provides the following instructions for properly disposing of medications:
There will be instances where instructions are not given on the drug label and a drug take-back program is not available. In these cases, you follow the following steps for disposing of medications:
How often do you clean your medicine cabinet? What has your process been for disposing of medications?
At one time or another, whether it’s because of work, family or social situations, almost everyone may feel anxious or stressed out. While these feelings are normal and common, when they begin to impact your daily activities and relationships it may be something
that requires attention and/or medical help.
Anxiety may trigger intense negative thoughts and feelings, panic attacks and withdrawal from usual activities. The most common types of stressors that bring people in for treatment include: social stress, environmental stress, physical stress and the stress
associated with the way we perceive our ability to handle these stressors.
A common question asked by those who seek treatment for anxiety is: Will I ever feel normal again? Bethany Price, PhD, Psychologist with NorthShore, encourages her patients to follow three steps to overcome their anxiety and return to a more “normal” lifestyle:
Are you easily stressed? How do you overcome it?
All of the holiday treats and temptations on the table can make for a difficult time managing your weight and portion control. While it’s okay to indulge from time to time, it’s important to make smart choices to help keep your plate balanced.
According to the USDA’s MyPlate recommendations, half of your plate should consist of fruit and vegetables, accompanied by grains, protein and dairy. You may find it hard to have this much balance on your plate during the holidays, but planning in advance
and thinking through your meal choices can be a huge help for keeping your plate (and waistline!) in check.
Goutham Rao, MD, gives his insight on how to plan your portions and still be able to enjoy the holidays:
What is your favorite holiday treat? What do you do to resist temptation and overeating?
With the holidays right around the corner, it’s hard not to be tempted by flavorful sides, festive drinks and decadent desserts. For those with diabetes, the struggle to avoid some of these foods may be a challenge, especially with many planned family dinners
and holiday parties.
However, diabetics don’t have to completely deprive themselves from the traditional foods and meals that the season brings. Romy Block, MD, a NorthShore endocrinologist, gives the following tips for managing diabetes during the holidays:
It’s important to note that these tips shouldn’t just apply to the holidays. Managing your diabetes is a process and making small changes can really help to make a big difference.
What ways have you found success in managing diabetes during the holidays? What holiday foods are the hardest for you to avoid?
Smoking is an unhealthy habit that can be hard to break. While we’ve all heard of the many ways quitting can be made possible—cold turkey, medications, nicotine patches and gum, or therapy—it often comes down to one’s determination and ability to make changes.
It is important to understand that it is never too late to quit smoking. Even if you’ve tried to quit before and haven’t accomplished it, you can still find success quitting in the future. Stacy Raviv, MD, a NorthShore pulmonologist, gives her insight on
how quitting can improve your health:
Have you tried to quit smoking? What methods worked for you? What didn’t?
A dash of salt here and there for flavoring can’t hurt, right? While moderate amounts of sodium in your daily diet are fine, it’s often easy to eat more than necessary. Look on any label – especially those of pre-packaged and more-processed foods—and sodium
is almost certain to be one of the ingredients.
The American Heart Association recommends 2,300 mg daily as the highest daily acceptable level, and if you are over 51 years, African American or have heart disease including high blood pressure, the recommendation is 1,500 mg.
Too much salt can lead to health problems, including cardiovascular disease particularly hypertension. For this reason, it’s never a bad idea to learn some quick ways to pass on the salt.
Mary Bennett, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at NorthShore, offers the following tips to help reduce your daily sodium intake:
What do you do to limit your sodium consumption? What is one salty food you couldn’t live without?
At one time or another, most women experience an irregular menstrual cycle. While regular for some women may be every four weeks, the length
between cycles will vary between individuals. However, most women get their period every 21-35 days.
Inconsistency often isn’t something to cause concern. In most cases it is due to a hormonal imbalance, which can be normalized with medication, such as birth control.
Sangeeta Senapati, MD, Endoscopic Surgeon at NorthShore, shares some of the causes of irregular menstrual cycles:
If you experience consistently irregular menstrual cycles it may be worthwhile to consult your physician.
Have you ever had an irregular period?