It is estimated that around 133 million Americans are battling chronic health conditions. That is nearly half the population. Some of the most common conditions include hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, respiratory disease, mental conditions, asthma, eye disorders, and diabetes—all of which can wrest significantly from one’s quality of life. The initial shock of being diagnosed with chronic disease can soon give way to worry about coping strategies.
The good news is that it is never too late to minimize the impact of these conditions on your life, and to avoid additional chronic disease from arising. The following tips can be of help.
Become an Expert in Your Condition
People can have major biases and preconceived notions regarding what it’s like to live with chronic disease or a disability. Don’t take anything for granted or assume the worst. Educate yourself on your condition and surround yourself with a caring, skilled, savvy team that can recommend the latest treatments and novel approaches that hold promise. One of the best ways to have a myriad of questions answered all at once is by joining support groups.
Through online and face-to-face networking, you can discover everything from top experts in your area to treatments, devices, and apps that can make a big difference to your quality of life. Try to join groups that are focused on your condition. Just a few of the most active groups around include Divas With Disabilities (catered to women of color who have disabilities), Chronically Academic (an international network of academics with disabilities who share resources and advice), The Phoenix Society (specializing in burn injuries), and the EPIC Foundation (which provides support to people with chronic illnesses), and Students with Diabetes (for college students with this disease).
Budgeting for Your Health Costs
One of the biggest issues surrounding chronic disease for Americans is cost. US government futures show that out-of-pocket healthcare costs have increased by 10.3%, year-over-year. What’s more, approximately 30 million Americans are uninsured. An average three-day stay at a hospital in the US costs around $30,000. For those who are uninsured, this short stay could pose a risk of total financial ruin. Those who are insured, meanwhile, often have high deductibles, high prescription co-pays, and limits on the medication covered. It is vital to inform yourself of any aid you may be entitled to—including Medicaid and Medicare disability benefits. Medicaid is offered to anyone with income and asset requirements, while Medicare is for people aged 65 and over.
Also check out online companies that enable you to save on prescription drugs (then pick them up at your local pharmacy), as well as sites that invite you to comparison shop. Finally, research into organizations such as The Partnership for Prescription Assistance, which helps you find needed medicines at little or no cost.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health
Many chronic diseases—for instance, heart disease—are linked to anxiety and depression. Being proactive with your mental health is therefore vital, as is seeking professional help if required. Gold standard treatments for anxiety and depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). CBT invites you to reframe negative thoughts into more positive or bearable ones, so you can respond in a reasoned manner instead of reacting emotionally to situations. DBT, a branch of CBT, is based on four principles: mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.
DBT is particularly useful for people who have difficulties processing difficult or intense emotions, and those with self-harming and depressive symptoms. It is also used to help bipolar patients deal with tough triggers. Finally, ACT is particularly focused on difficulties you cannot avoid (such as chronic illness). Its aim is to promote complete acceptance of the situation, and to commit to actions that can help make the experience more bearable.
Taking a Proactive Stance to Protect Your Health
Some conditions (such as secondary hypertension) are caused by other diseases—including kidney disease, thyroid problems, and sleep apnea. In order to avoid additional chronic diseases and complications, it helps to take a proactive approach to your physical and mental health. For instance, just a few risk factors that contribute to high blood pressure include smoking, being overweight or obese, being inactive, drinking too much alcohol, and facing high levels of stress.
If you have been diagnosed with chronic disease, talk to your health professionals about suitable lifestyle changes you can make to improve your symptoms and keep other diseases at bay. They may recommend a nutritional program and exercise regime that will achieve both these aims.
Advocating for Change
As the months and years go by, you will probably find quite a few challenges you feel you could overcome better with the right infrastructure and support systems. Advocate for change, finding inspiration in other people with disabilities and chronic illness who have blazed the trail for others. Just a few disabled people who are powerful advocates for change include Haben Girma—a deaf and blind lawyer who was the first person with both these disabilities to graduate from the Harvard Law School. She is the author of the book Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law, and she has fought tooth and nail for disability rights, speaking out against ableism and discrimination.
Another renowned activist is Brittany Packnett Cunningham—an educator and author who founded the online community #CripTheVote. Her aim is to encourage people with disabilities to vote, so that governments see them as a force to be reckoned with.
If you have been diagnosed with chronic disease, adopting a strategy to minimize its effects on your life is vital. Start by becoming knowledgeable about your condition, so you know what to expect and so you can choose the treatment that best fits in with your goals and budget. Next, work out how to reduce costs, relying on available aid. Take care of your mental health, so you can adapt better to the chances your illness may bring to your life. It is also helpful to make key changes to minimize your symptoms and keep disease at bay.
Finally, make sure to advocate for yourself and your community, by joining online and in-person groups that are centered on your disease. Find the inspiration you need in people who have faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and who have demonstrated that determination, commitment, and drive can take much farther than you may ever have imagined.
From Birch Trees to Breakfast Tables: The Story of Birch Syrup
Have you ever included Birch syrup in your breakfast? Breakfast is often hailed as the meal of the day, and birch syrup has become a popular addition to breakfast tables worldwide. How did this delicious and lesser-known syrup find its way from birch tree bark to our morning plates?
Let’s delve into the story behind birch syrup.
The First Step: Harvesting Birch Sap
The journey of birch syrup begins with the collection of sap from birch trees. Unlike maple syrup, which is famous for its sap-producing, birch syrup is more challenging due to its lower sugar content.
Typically, the sap is gathered during spring when temperatures drop below freezing at night but rise above freezing during the day. This temperature fluctuation creates an environment for sap to flow from the roots to the branches of the tree.
To collect the sap, a small hole is drilled into the trunk of a birch tree. A tap is inserted to allow it to flow into a collection container. The process resembles syrup production. Requires a higher volume of sap due to its lower sugar concentration in order to produce birch syrup.
Birch Sap: A Natural Gift
After being gathered, birch sap is often enjoyed in its form as a hydrating beverage. Throughout countries like Russia, Finland, and Canada, birch sap has long been cherished for its revitalizing properties. Finland, in particular, has a rooted tradition of consuming birch sap referred to as “koivunmahla.” It is regarded as a source of vitamins. It has been used traditionally as a tonic to support overall well-being.
What Sets Birch Syrup Apart?
In contrast to the sweetness of maple syrup, birch syrup offers a flavor profile. With its hue and complex taste ranging from hints of caramel to bitterness, birch syrup stands out as an adaptable ingredient perfect for both sweet and savory dishes.
The distinctiveness of birch syrup can be attributed to the varying composition of sugars found in birch sap compared to maple sap. Birch sap contains levels of fructose, resulting in a sugary syrup with more nuanced flavors.
The Artistry Behind Transforming Sap into Syrup
Once collected, the process begins to convert birch sap into the birch syrup that we cherish. To create birch syrup, the sap undergoes a boiling process where the water content is evaporated, concentrating the sugars found in the sap.
During this boiling process, it is important to prevent scorching as birch sap has sugar content and can be more prone to burning. It takes an amount of birch sap ranging from 100 to 150 liters to produce one liter of birch syrup. This highlights the labor nature of its production process.
Birch syrup’s unique flavor and versatility make it highly sought after in both kitchens and home cooking. Its distinct taste can enhance a variety of dishes ranging from pancakes and waffles to glazes and marinades. However, there are certain side effects of this birch syrup. So consider them before consumption.
In applications, birch syrup can serve as an alternative to traditional sweeteners like maple syrup or honey. Its caramel undertones perfectly complement baked goods such as cakes, cookies, and bread.
On the side, using birch syrup as a glaze or marinade adds depth to meat dishes like grilled pork or roasted chicken. The bitterness of the syrup helps balance out the richness of the meat. Creates a flavor profile.
Beyond its appeal, birch syrup is also valued for its sustainability and potential health benefits.
The process of collecting birch sap does not cause harm to the trees since the holes created from tapping heal quickly, allowing the trees to continue thriving. This sustainable practice ensures that there will always be a supply of birch sap for generations to appreciate.
Additionally, birch syrup contains minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. It also possesses antioxidant properties, making it an intriguing option for those who are looking for a syrup that’s rich in nutrients.
To sum up
Originating from the birch forests of Scandinavia and North America, birch syrup has gained popularity worldwide and can now be found on breakfast tables and in gourmet kitchens. Its distinct flavor profile, sustainable production methods and potential health benefits have all contributed to its increasing fame.
When you find yourself yearning for something flavorful, consider grabbing a bottle of birch syrup. You can explore its versatility by using it as a topping for your morning pancakes or experimenting with it in dishes. From the birch trees to your breakfast table, birch syrup brings a touch of nature and culinary creativity to enhance your dining experience.
Essential Habits that Can Help You Avoid Unnecessary Stress
If you feel like you are stressed all the time, then it is high time to make some effective lifestyle changes that will help you reduce stress naturally instead of having to rely on meds – or worse – experiencing a mental or nervous breakdown.
When it comes to your routine, you see that it is a set of lifestyle habits, and once you start noticing your habits and what your default mode is in certain situations, you will find it easier to spot the bad habits that are bringing you down or causing stress.
Once you have assessed the bad habits, you will want to turn into your conscious mode of being and replace the bad habits with better ones. Or, you could give yourself a framework where you will reinvent yourself and introduce healthy habits in your life that will help you become the best version of yourself.
Here are some essential habits that will help you live a more productive life without unnecessary stress.
Read on to learn more!
If you are living a sedentary lifestyle, it will lead to nothing but stress, anxiety, and, of course, obesity. That said, the worst thing you can do to yourself is become a potato couch. Physical movement can render you great benefits, including mental health benefits.
According to countless studies, people who move their bodies and live an active lifestyle experience less stress and anxiety than those who rarely move. Now, many people join a gym or promise to run and move their bodies every day, but they fail to do so.
If you can relate, you will want to know that the underlying trick is to opt for a workout activity you enjoy. For instance, if you like to run on a treadmill, then you will want to stick to that activity. This way, you are more likely to be consistent with your workout sessions.
In fact, if you do a physical activity you like, including skating or skipping a rope, you will have something to look forward to. This way, you will feel less anxious whenever the term workout pops up in conversations.
Suppose you have a busy lifestyle and rarely find time to hit the gym; in this case, you will want to focus on wrapping up your day the right way so that you don’t go to bed feeling stressed. You could go for a walk in the nearby park after work so that you can take your mind off the stress.
Workout doesn’t only help you get your heart rate up and pushes your brain to produce good chemicals that are essentially anti-stress, such as serotonin and endocannabinoids. You will instantly improve your mood, and your perspective about the day will change.
Opt for Marijuana
If you have chronic anxiety, you can get certified online for a marijuana card in Arkansas as a way to manage your anxiety and get into a better mindset. Speaking of marijuana, it is important to mention here that this herb can also help you improve your sleep, which is a potent stress reducer.
However, you will want to get in touch with your healthcare provider and ask them about the recommended dose of marijuana for effective stress management. You can also opt for CBD Oil or CBD tincture and add it to your morning coffee or tea to calm your nerves and relax.
While marijuana is more frequently used for recreational use, CBD, which is a compound of marijuana, is essentially used for inducing a calming effect on the mind. So, you might want to include this herb in your daily life to decrease stress.
We all know someone who has gotten into the vicious cycle of alcohol to deal with stress. However, alcohol only worsens stress, so you will want to avoid alcohol at all costs. Undoubtedly, there might be some truth behind the notion that alcohol can potentially decrease stress; however, you will want to know how alcohol impacts your mind and body.
You might want to see alcohol as a sedative that impacts the central nervous system in a way that it can give the drinker the appearance of false courage, which can simultaneously help the drinker take their mind off their problems. So, alcohol can temporarily boost your mood and help you feel relaxed, but alcohol is not the cure.
Alcohol essentially interferes with the brain’s neurotransmitters, responsible for better mental health. This interference leads to a chemical imbalance in the mind that can worsen anxiety symptoms.
So, if you want to bid farewell to stress and anxiety, you will want to steer clear of alcohol. Often, alcohol and tobacco go hand-in-hand, so we also recommend quitting tobacco cigarettes. If you are struggling with going cold turkey, you will want to transition to e-cigs first, as e-cigs contain fewer toxins than tobacco cigs.
You can also opt for journaling to boost your emotional and mental well-being. We live in a world that is dominated by tech gadgets, which has somehow decreased the beauty of using pen and paper to jot down one’s thoughts.
However, if you are looking for a natural way to calm your mind and put things into perspective, then you will want to find a healthy way to express your thoughts and emotions. Journaling can become your ideal way to let it all out and feel good daily.
You can find an outlet for your concerns, fears, and problems by writing it all out. You can also track down your daily symptoms and recognize the things that trigger you, which will eventually help you find a way to control your emotions.
Journaling also provides you with an ideal platform to indulge in positive self-talk and reassess situations that might have made you feel stressed and anxious.
Soon, you will start seeing your diary as your best friend that you can confide in and instantly feel better. You can also use the diary to practice gratitude and feel better about life.
The Link Between Foot Health and Mental Well-being
In today’s fast-paced world, the importance of mental well-being cannot be overstated. While many factors contribute to our mental health, one often overlooked aspect is foot health. Surprisingly, there’s a significant link between the health of our feet and our mental well-being. Dive with us into this connection between foot health and the state of our mind.
The Foundation of Our Body: Our Feet
Our feet, comprising 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments, are the foundation of our body. They bear our weight, help us move, and connect us to the ground. Like a building’s foundation, the entire structure (our body) can be affected if our feet are not in optimal condition.
How Foot Health Impacts Mental Well-being
- Pain and Discomfort: Chronic foot pain, whether due to injury, deformities, or conditions like plantar fasciitis, can be debilitating. Persistent pain can lead to frustration, anxiety, and even depression. The constant discomfort can disrupt sleep, leading to fatigue and mood swings. Finding proper footwear can make a difference in managing pain for those dealing with plantar fasciitis. Additionally, seeking timely medical intervention and therapy can aid in alleviating symptoms and improving quality of life. Regular foot care routines, including stretches and massages, can relieve and prevent further complications.
- Mobility and Independence: Healthy feet are crucial for mobility. Foot problems can limit our mobility, leading to a sedentary lifestyle. Reduced physical activity has been linked to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Moreover, losing independence can lead to feelings of helplessness and decreased self-esteem. Maintaining foot health becomes even more critical as we age to ensure continued independence and the ability to perform daily tasks without assistance.
- Physical Activity: Regular physical activity releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Foot problems can hinder participation in physical activities, depriving the body of these beneficial endorphins. This can result in a decline in mood and overall mental health. Engaging in low-impact exercises, tailored to one’s foot condition, can still offer the benefits of endorphin release and keep the body active.
- Self-perception and Confidence: Our self-perception can be influenced by how we feel about our feet. Conditions like fungal infections or foot odor can lead to embarrassment and social withdrawal. Avoiding social situations can lead to feelings of isolation and negatively impact mental well-being. Proper foot hygiene and seeking treatments for foot-related issues can boost confidence, allowing individuals to engage more freely in social interactions and maintain positive mental health.
The Psychological Benefits of Foot Care
Prioritizing foot health can have several psychological benefits:
- Stress Relief: Foot massages and reflexology reduce stress and induce relaxation. The feet have numerous pressure points connected to various parts of the body. Stimulating these points can promote relaxation and alleviate stress. Furthermore, focusing on foot care can serve as a form of mindfulness, drawing attention away from daily stressors and allowing the mind to reset. The rhythmic motions involved in foot care can be therapeutic, creating a sense of calm and tranquility.
- Improved Sleep: Addressing foot pain and discomfort can enhance quality of sleep. A good night’s sleep is essential for mental clarity, mood regulation, and overall well-being. Chronic foot pain can lead to restless nights, making it challenging to achieve deep, restorative sleep. By addressing and managing foot issues, one can remove this barrier to restful slumber, leading to more energized and productive days.
- Boosted Self-esteem: Taking care of one’s feet through regular pedicures or simply keeping them clean and moisturized can boost self-confidence. Feeling good about one’s feet can translate to a more positive self-image. Additionally, well-maintained feet can enhance one’s overall appearance, leading to increased confidence in social situations. Investing in foot health not only ensures physical comfort but also fosters a sense of pride and self-worth, reinforcing the interconnectedness of physical and mental well-being.
The link between foot health and mental well-being is undeniable. While it’s easy to overlook our feet, they are pivotal to our health and happiness. By prioritizing foot care, we ensure our physical well-being and promote mental wellness. Whether through regular check-ups with a podiatrist, indulging in foot massages, or simply wearing comfortable shoes, taking steps to care for our feet can profoundly affect our mental state. Remember, a happy foot leads to a happy mind!
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