BLOG 273 OVERWORKED
Americans seem to have a lot of excuses when it comes to prioritizing their health. The U.S. has dictated a full time works schedule to consist of 40 hours per 7-day week, consisting of 8 hours per day. Most people use this time Monday through Friday, having weekends off. However, the U.S. does not have any exact laws setting the maximum work length for each week. As a result, 85.8% of males and 66.5% of females work more than 40 hours per week. Statistics are showing that Americans work 137 more hours per year than the Japanese, 260 more than the British, and 499 more than the French.
Following this trend of overworking, the U.S. also does not have a federal law requiring paid sick leave days. There are also not any laws about mandated annual leave. Therefore, the very people that are issuing pay checks are making the decisions about how to compensate time spent at work. With money and profit at the heart of the issue, it is no wonder people are working more hours.
It is easy for outsiders to merely say to work less hours. In doing so, that can translate to less money, which leads to more stress and lower quality of life. The problem is that when work is taking up a person’s schedule, almost entirely, there is little time for family and loved ones, spending time enjoying hobbies, unwinding, being social, and then of course….exercising. High stress and sedentary work life do to make a healthy combination. Somehow the mentality of work first has led to being intimidated to ask for time off to raise a child, to take a vacation, to have a couple hours off during the week, etc.
The statistics show that Americans are hard working. The average person is working 47 hours, not just 40. Some places of employment also require a 9-hour day because the 1 hour lunch does not count. That adds to additional time away from home and for self. Americans are starting to get a reputation for being chained to their desks. Some people even work through their lunches. Many just eat at their desks. Some just skip lunch altogether. In Spain, Greece, and other countries, lunch hour is a lose term and last as long as desired or needed. In Sweden, workers take a fika, which is a coffee break for all employees to socialize. There are actually laws in France that require workers to ignore emails and calls after work hours.
So much time at work is now a reflection of American’s waistlines, stress, mental health, and family relations. Most children grow up in a home with both working parents and if they both are gone for extended hours, that means there is less interaction. The cycle continues, and yet people have to pay their bills and taxes. How does the rest of the world have this figured out and make their health and work life balanced? We have yet to find the balance but need to restore our priorities or else the health consequences will continue to rise.
BLOG 272 OVEREATING
We are all too familiar with that feeling of being stuffed. For some it’s a rare occasion, but for others each meal can present the chance to eat and eat until overeating strikes again. We might do this at the end of a long day. It’s a holiday so why not? Or maybe when home alone all inhibition lets loose. Then we feel frustrated with ourselves for letting this stomachache happen….once again. The truth is that right out of the gate we are nurtured with food. We eat to live, but somewhere along the lines living to eat can become the lifestyle. We have an emotional connection to food outside of just nutritional purposes.
Yet, the act of eating can get out of control. It can become a coping mechanism for negative emotions. Some people think about food all the time. We might laugh and joke after eating large quantities at Thanksgiving, but some people feel ashamed and guilty after far too many of their meals. For some people, overeating can just be a mindless habit. The duration of the movie requires snacking and then pretty soon the box is gone and the entire liter of soda.
Some people who overeat might have an actual eating disorder such as binge eating disorder (BED). This is characterized by eating large quantities of food in a short period of time. A person with BED might do this at least once per week for the course of 3 months or longer. Eating is associated with feelings of stress, loneliness, and then guilt and regret after eating so much. To be clear, not all people who overeating have binge eating disorder. For some people it’s just a love of food, while others might suffer from negative body image. Sometime dieting gone astray can lead to overeating. Feelings of deprivation lead to a desire for foods that were off limits and the more the better. The foods that were forbidden become more and more attractive.
The composition of foods can make them addictive in nature. High fat, high sugar, and high salt foods taste to please us. The brain senses the euphoric feeling much like drug use. Then the person become dependent of these foods as they crave their comfort and satisfaction. The difference is that no one can cut food “cold-turkey”. We are faced with eating each and every single day, more than once. The act of eating can become an addiction too.
If there’s strong ties to deep emotional problems and food seems to be the solution, then seeking help is important. A person needs to determine their triggers, especially those that transpire negative body image. A counselor can certainly help. Food should also not be constantly deprived or labeled as “good” or “bad”. Tuning into hunger cues is important. Understanding the why of the overeating leads to a better solution. A change of scenery can help change the environment you put yourself in during eating. Don’t be on autopilot and let the habit carry on and on. There is a lot more to life then chewing, but we have to find a healthy relationship with food in order to be healthy mentally and physically.
BLOG 271 COMPARISON COMPLEX
Getting stuck in a hole of comparing yourself to others can wreak havoc on self-esteem. Confidence in question leads to poor self-worth. In today’s social media imaged filled culture, one can find themselves lost scrolling, clicking, and then thinking about how they shape up to what they see. For example, when it comes to fitness, you can tell yourself from that start that your goal isn’t about the weight loss numbers. Then you look at a feed of so many before and after photos, only to find yourself wondering why your results don’t add up the same. At work, you compare your performance to others so that you feel productive or purposeful. In school, you become competitive with grades. At restaurants, you look around to see what others have ordered. Parents compare themselves to others. They question whether their child should have a cell phone or not because their friend’s child is the same age and has one.
We can become so busy worrying about others, we loose sight of ourselves. We start to blame others for our own actions. When we have done the best job that we can there is no need to compare to anyone else. You have to be proud of yourself, otherwise you never live up to what you expect. That leads to depression and a downward path to negative thoughts. You actually limit yourself when you compare yourself to others because you are basing your potential on someone else’s.
All of this means that it may be time for a social media detox. It many be time to water your own grass and not worry about your neighbor’s. Don’t resist the past and accept where you are and aspire for where you want to be. Life might have been messy or bumpy, but the straight and narrow path doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness. Lack of adventure doesn’t mean success. You are writing your own movie, and the ending isn’t fixed. There is more to come, so play out the scenes how you want to see them. Be grateful instead of always wanting more. Maybe you aren’t meant to have more. Don’t let fear guide you. Comparison is a form of fear. It is not being confident in your own self to be strong on your own, no matter where that leaves you in the line-up. It is okay to be inspired by others, but don’t compare yourself to their aspirations. You are you. You have to be nice to yourself and learn to ignore the bully in your head. It’s time to be happy and to be free from comparison. So let those scores go, you are the winner of your own life.
BLOG 270 SHINGLES
Shingles is a painful virus. The pre-requisite is having had chicken pocks first, even if it was decades before. This is because they come from the same virus called varicella roster. Chickenpox causes itchy blisters that can spread on the body, typically in the chest and back areas. On the other hand, shingles is a rash that causes a shooting, painful, sensation. The rash usually stick to one location or side of the body. When the virus first enters the body as chickenpox, after running its course, it retreats to nerve tissues located near the spinal cord and brain just makes its home there. Then for almost no reason doctors can understand, the virus wakes itself up again. That is when shingles occurs which is also called herpes zoster. Doctors do know that a weakened immune system is of course more vulnerable to virus waking itself up.
Others heightened risks for shingles include trauma, stress, have cancer, HIV, or take medications that lower the immune system over time (such as steroids). The mystery is that these possible causes are not always true for everyone.
Going to see a doctor is pertinent especially if the person feels a tingling feeling under their skin, an upset stomach, fever, chills, and/or headache coupled with raised dots on the body. The area of the skin will feel like a stabbing pain and eventually the redness turns into blisters. Within 7 to 10 days the blisters do dry out and pain lessens. Shingles cannot be entirely cured, but the painful symptoms and longevity of the blisters can be reduced.
Shingles is contagious to those who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine for it. A person is contagious until the blisters have dried out and crusted over. Pregnant women, infants, and those with weak immune systems are susceptible.
Currently there are 2 vaccines available for shingles. These include Shingrix and Zostavax. Shingrix is actually considered 90% effective, so it is the preferred option. The CDC does recommend people over the age of 50 get this vaccination, even if they have had shingles before.
Shooting pain should be kept away. Anyone who has had the Chickenpox should be aware of possible triggers and any symptoms associated with shingles. As we always intend to, keeping stress at bay is important. Be aware of germs and germ filled environments. Your body and immune system appreciate self-care. Don’t let the virus in and vaccination becomes very important.