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Overcoming Self-doubt while Living with a Chronic Illness

(BPT) – Many people impacted by rheumatoid arthritis experience feelings of self-doubt – but a head-on approach can lead to self-love.

The mind is directly interconnected with your physical body, and while this stands true for everybody, it is something people living with a chronic illness are reminded of every day.

For people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – an autoimmune disease of the joints that impacts approximately 1.6 million people in the United States – it can be challenging to stay mentally and emotionally positive when your health is always on your mind. The symptoms of RA and their effect on physical functioning can impact overall well-being, which can lead to feelings such as self-doubt.

Does our physical health affect our mental health?

When first diagnosed with a chronic condition like RA, many patients may struggle to accept their disease. The emotional process to acceptance can be difficult, but try to understand your condition better and make a conscious choice to face it head-on.

Further, managing symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness, and fatigue can make it difficult to do common everyday tasks, which can lead to mental and emotional impacts.

So how can you overcome self-doubt?

Turning self-doubt into self-love

For people living with a chronic condition like RA, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to settle. That’s why taking one day at a time is critical in any approach to self-care.

Take the first step by becoming more aware of your emotions and feelings when it comes to the management of your RA. Own your experience with the disease by recognizing and accepting feelings of frustration, anxiety, or guilt about your RA in order to refocus your emotions toward resilience, hope, and joy.

Here are some additional tips and tricks to combat self-doubt:

* Ground yourself: Balance out the negative by thinking about the positive aspects of your life. In doing this exercise, remember that sometimes the positive things are small and simple: a bouquet of fresh flowers on your dining room table, a book that makes you laugh out loud, or a phone call with an old friend. Directing your focus toward these positive aspects of your life can make a huge difference!

* Set a timeline: It’s okay to acknowledge negative feelings sometimes, but don’t let this go on for too long. Give yourself a deadline for when it’s time to mentally shift your focus.

* Invest in yourself: Take some time each day to read, listen, or watch something that uplifts you.

* Set the mood: Create a set of your own soundtracks! One playlist might bring back good memories, another might make you feel motivated to take on a busy day, and perhaps another makes you feel calm and relaxed. Music is a powerful tool, and setting the mood through music is a fun and easy way to practice self-care and redirection of your energy.

* Reflect on your self-perception: Focus on what defines you as a person and learn to accept who you are. Remind yourself of a time when you overcame self-doubt. Ask yourself, “Am I talking to myself the way I would talk to my spouse or my friend?

* Connect with others: Surround yourself with people who love and encourage you. You may also find solace in connecting with others living with RA, whether it is online or in-person.

* Most importantly: Understand your own body and your own needs on your journey to self-love.

Above all, make time for yourself; this alone is an act of love toward yourself! Making time for yourself can take on many forms, including those listed above as well as things like going for a walk, taking a bath, even taking a moment to enjoy the view out of your kitchen window! Making “me time” happen is what can ultimately help you look beyond the negative!

“When I was first diagnosed, I struggled to keep things going,” says Elaine R., patient advocate and administrative assistant living with RA. “Even though I was unable to do my usual yoga routines, I did feel a sense of relief from my yoga music and deep breathing. I think focusing on the positive things in your life, no matter how small, is a great idea. Little joys are a necessity.”

If you have a chronic disease like RA, it’s important to remember that it does not define you and there are steps you can take to better manage lifestyle challenges as a result of your condition. With research and communication with your rheumatologist or other healthcare professional, there are ways to prioritize your health and choose self-love over self-doubt.

For more tips on how to overcome self-doubt and negative emotions, and choose self-love while living with RA, visit www.Arthritis.com.

Content was provided by Pfizer.

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Vettis

Infuse life into the bath for a spa-like oasis

(BPT) – Today, more than ever, homeowners gravitate toward design elements that transform the bath into a spa-like oasis. Designers look to incorporate pieces inspired by the natural world to bring renewed energy into the room and create a soothing environment. From fixtures inspired by booming waterfalls, to neutral color schemes and natural light, nature infuses life back into luxury bath design for a serene sense of calm.

Neutral calm

Light colors such as cool grays and muted blues evoke tranquility and peacefulness. Neutral colors for walls and fabrics create a soothing aesthetic that fosters relaxation in the space. To create visual interest within a neutral palette, incorporate varying shades of earth tones to serve as complementary accents throughout the room — from decorative rugs and plush towels to cabinetry and tiling.

Nature’s inspiration

Elements inspired by nature work together to produce a sense of relaxation in the home’s oasis. Intuitive in design, the Vettis Bath Collection by Brizo combines solid proportions and angular architecture with an optional four-sided open chamber that mimics the sensory experience of a waterfall. Inspired by the strength found in nature, the defined edges of the spout create a balanced aesthetic, while subtle facets offer visual depth. Paired with natural stone accents, this collection evokes elements of natural inspiration.

Stone serenity

A freestanding stone tub makes a luxurious statement to enhance the spa atmosphere. Sleek, oval architectures provide an organic contemporary touch, while rectangular basins deliver a strong geometric focal point. Take the spa-like experience even further and incorporate the use of essential oils. Lavender and chamomile reduce stress and encourage sleep, while peppermint and lemon oils increase focus and mental alertness in the morning. From modern to transitional aesthetics, a freestanding, natural stone tub paired with the sensory infusion of essential oils creates the perfect at-home getaway.

Living accents

Natural lighting and live plants blur the line between the great outdoors and the enclosed space. Large floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights serve as eye-catching accents while also naturally illuminating the room. Hanging succulents and potted bamboo plants are additional decor options to bring nature indoors without sacrificing clean, simple design.

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Healthy eating at holiday parties? It’s possible

(BPT) – The holidays bring a lot of temptations from every direction if dieting or watching your weight. Holiday parties and get-togethers can be a healthful-eating challenge. Caught up in conversation among friends and family, surrounded by tasty food and drinks, it’s easy to lose track of what and how much is being eaten. Registered Dietitian Sarah Galicki offers tips for staying the course through the holidays.

“There are a lot of calories packed into this time of year. You’re doing your holiday baking, people are dropping off candy and treats, there are parties with all-you-can-eat buffets and creamy drinks like eggnog, so it’s important to be prepared. It is possible to navigate the holidays without gaining weight by doing these things.”

Eat first. Never go to a party hungry. If you do, chances are you’ll wind up eating too much, too fast. Eat a snack before you go, such as some Greek yogurt, which is loaded with protein and calcium. Add fruit for extra taste and nutrients, and top with pistachios for crunch and good fats.

Drink wisely. If you want to indulge a little bit, have some champagne or white wine. A 4-ounce glass has approximately 100 calories. By comparison, a cup of traditional eggnog has 344 calories and 19 grams of fat (11 grams saturated fat). Skip the creamy drinks. The best bet is to avoid alcohol altogether if possible. Drink a spritzer made with sparkling water, cranberry and a lime instead. It looks festive, tastes great and has hardly any calories.

Fill up on finger foods. Bite-size appetizers limit the calorie impact. A good option? Pistachios. They’re great to snack on; 49 have exactly 150 calories, and they satisfy that crunchy craving. Plus, they’re full of nutrients and fill you up. The healthy fats will help regulate your blood-sugar level throughout the night, which is helpful if you’re drinking. Wrap some up decoratively and take along for a hostess gift to be sure there’s a healthy choice on hand.

Survey your options. Mindful eating is always key in any situation. Once the buffet table opens, take a visual sweep past it before jumping in line and making your selections. This way you’ll avoid piling one of everything onto your plate needlessly when you eventually pass through.

Don’t be first in line. The food in a buffet line looks pretty in the beginning. Once people serve themselves, it’s not as appealing and you’ll eat less.

Get a small plate. This trick helps limit portion size.

Avoid the white stuff. Given other options, skip the white rice, white pasta and white bread. They’re loaded with calories but no nutrients. Choose items with whole grains instead. They’re full of nutrients and have fiber, which will fill you up so you won’t eat as much.

Delight in dessert. Dessert is probably the toughest temptation of all. But there’s no reason to skip. Most of us have a sweet tooth. Satisfy that sweet craving with some fresh fruit. To make sure it’s available, bring some as a hostess gift; it’s always welcome.

“Overall, pace yourself,” advises Galicki. “Enjoy the food and festivities.”

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Entertaining tips: Worry-free ways to clean before your guests arrive

(BPT) – For many of us, this is the best time of the year to spend with friends, family and lots of food. The weather has turned colder, the clocks have shifted back and we’re ready to invite guests over to eat, laugh and make new memories for the new year.

Let’s face it, because you spend more time indoors this time of year, you’re also probably a bit more anxious when it comes to keeping the house tidy and making sure you’re keeping yourself and your guests healthy. So, what’s the best approach to cleaning up before your get-together starts? You’ve likely heard this before, but it’s true: Clean only what your guests see. There’s no need to push all your furniture into the middle of the room to clean your baseboards or grab those dust bunnies from underneath the china cabinet. Of course, you want the guest bathroom to be shipshape, as well as a few of the following areas, before guests arrive.

Home is where the oven is: Most people like to mingle in the kitchen (hello bacon-wrapped dates!), so you want it to smell like all your wonderful food, not harsh chemicals. While you might be tempted to clean every inch of the kitchen, keep it simple and remember to clean as you go, especially during food prep. From raw cookie dough to chicken wings, you want to be careful not to cross-contaminate surfaces, so disinfect and clean those food-prep areas often, including cutting boards. (Use a product like PURELL(R) Multi Surface Disinfectant, which contains no harsh chemicals, to keep those counters and prep stations worry-free.) Don’t let those dirty mixing bowls pile up, either. Rinse as soon as you can and load them into the dishwasher.

The hangouts: After the kitchen, you probably know where your guests will gravitate. Maybe the kids hit the basement or rec room and sports fans huddle in the family room around the TV. Vacuuming and dusting are a must, and put away all the non-essential items. Place anything you don’t need into your laundry basket and stash it in the laundry room.

So many things to touch: Now think about all those hands touching surfaces like doorknobs, remotes, toys or playpens, especially if you have little ones crawling about or you’re expecting lots of toddlers. No one wants to be sick, especially when there is fun to be had. To prevent the spread of germs, disinfect those often-touched items and surfaces with PURELL(R) Multi Surface Disinfectant, which not only kills 99.99 percent of germs on hard surfaces, but also sanitizes soft surfaces and other areas in the house where you normally wouldn’t use traditional products.

Runny noses: For every hostess gift or side dish people bring, you should also expect some sniffles and sneezes. Keep your guests comfortable by putting out some boxes of tissues and an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in key areas, like near the buffet line and next to the tissue box.

A little elbow grease and some targeted cleaning should leave you plenty of time for the really important stuff: cooking, eating and enjoying time with your loved ones.

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4 great gifts for your green-living friend

(BPT) – Here’s a stat for you: More than 145 million Americans report being alarmed or concerned about climate change, according to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Yes, over 145 million. That’s more than a third of the nation’s total population. Are you one of them? Whether you are or not, it’s a safe bet someone on your holiday shopping list is and you’d love to find the perfect gift that matches their passion.

Living an environmentally healthy, sustainable lifestyle is a personal thing and one every environmentally conscious person does a little bit differently. To complement that, Cool Effect is offering you the chance to personalize a great gift for those eco-conscious Earth lovers this holiday season. With a wide variety of carbon-cutting projects and flexible options, you can personalize the perfect gift package for anyone on your list. Cool Effect, a non-profit, has already done the work for you and created the holiday gift bundles below.

Breathe deep, breathe clean

Share the gift of clean air, literally, with The Cuckoo Combo. This pack, named for the threatened bird, supports efforts to capture methane and reduce nitrous oxide emissions while generating income for local communities.

Through your gift of this package, your loved one will be able to support the Native American Methane Capture program in Colorado that is converting this otherwise harmful gas to clean energy. They will also support technology initiatives to keep nitrous oxide emissions in check through the Mississippi-based Nitrous Oxide Abatement initiative.

Blown away with options

Most people have heard about the potential power opportunities that exist in wind harvesting, but it’s those living a more sustainable lifestyle that are especially excited about it. Support that enthusiasm with The Big Fan gift pack.

Your gift will support the creation of renewable energy wind turbines in Costa Rica, leading to long-term clean energy independence and jobs for local workers.

The wind turbines created through this initiative will provide power to 50,000 people and save 11,000 metric tons of carbon emissions. Your gift can help make it happen.

The power of poo

Initially this might seem like a white elephant present, but the aptly named Poo Package is actually a very real, important environmental project that anyone on your list would be grateful to support.

Using biogas digesters, animal waste — a source of harmful methane emissions — can now be turned into clean, usable energy. Your gift helps farmers in India build their very own biogas digesters that reduce these emissions while providing enough energy to power a neighborhood of Indian homes.

A brew-tiful gift

What’s the perfect gift for the environmentally conscious coffee drinker in your life? How about a package that supports the long-term sustainability of their favorite beverage? The Brew-tiful Gift package supports efforts to reduce logging in coffee growing regions, which reduces Earth-warming emissions and the hotter, drier climate they create that hinders coffee growth.

Through support of this gift pack, your loved one will be working to protect nearly 450,000 Peruvian acres from deforestation while also reducing firewood use in Honduras by nearly 50 percent — and those are initiatives everyone can drink to.

Pick the perfect project for your loved one today

These four projects are just a sample of the myriad environmentally conscious efforts your family and friends can support through your gift. To learn more about any of these projects or to shop other options and find the perfect gift, visit CoolEffect.org. Each project you find there can be customized to your price point and the passions of your loved one and they all support the same ideals of making this planet a greater, greener place to live during these holidays and all that will come after them.

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A cup of tea can be the best solution for everyday wellness

(BPT) – Before medicine and pharmaceuticals filled our remedy box, food and food ingredients were considered healing agents. Hippocrates was wise in his understanding of the special powers of food, beyond satisfying our appetites: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

There are many cultures that rely on herbal remedies and natural foods for everything from soothing an upset stomach to lifting our spirits when we’re down, to calming jittery nerves and even fending off colds and flu. Many of the best cosmetics tout ingredients to smooth skin, prevent aging, block the sun, reduce inflammation and minimize puffiness. There are four common herbs that have been used by many cultures and that are found in many of our kitchens.

1) Turmeric is a commonly used ingredient in Ayurvedic practices. In Hindu, the bright yellow color of turmeric is associated with the sun. In India, turmeric is used in wedding and religious ceremonies and is thought to bring good fortune. Not only is it said to brighten our spirits, but it has also been found to have some anti-inflammatory properties, which are healing for the body

2) Ginger, a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-find root, is considered a very healthful spice in the same family as turmeric. It is rich in many healthy components and has a strong aroma caused by the compound gingerol. Ginger has a long history of use in traditional and alternative medicine. It is most commonly used to soothe a stomach ache and combat nausea, and is frequently used by women to prevent morning sickness during pregnancy. Like turmeric it also has anti-inflammatory properties and can be helpful in reducing pain caused by osteoarthritis and menstruation.

3) Another popular spice is cinnamon, which is known for its healthy antioxidant properties and delicious sweet taste. It may help to reduce inflammation and be heart healthy. It may also be helpful in regulating blood sugar levels within the body, and even have some protective effect against developing colds.

4) Chamomile is a flower that has historically been associated with relaxation and calming. Many different cultures have used it alongside lavender as a soothing beverage to enjoy before bedtime.

Many of these ingredients can be found in our pantries, and including them in our diets is as simple as incorporating them into recipes or brewing up a delicious cup of tea. Herbal teas are a delicious and probably the easiest way to introduce these ingredients into our daily lives. Sipping tea throughout the day provides a natural break. Many tea drinkers proudly sport their mugs to stay hydrated, refreshed and alert.

Tea itself (from the plant Camellia sinensis) contains many healthy compounds such as polyphenols, which are great antioxidant compounds. Studies with this phenomenal beverage are linked to many areas of health and wellness. It’s no wonder that tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world. People drink tea proudly knowing they are not only enjoying something delicious, but also giving their well-being a boost.

Bigelow Tea has long understood the art of blending top-quality ingredients in their teas and has recently introduced a new line called Bigelow Benefits, which takes the concept of herbal tea one step further by carefully crafting a tea bag with an enticing mix of beneficial herbs, flowers and fruits that supports your daily health. The flavorful combinations include Cinnamon & Blackberry, Peach & Ginger, Chamomile & Lavender and Turmeric Chili Matcha to name a few.

Designed to add everyday value to a regular healthy lifestyle, each contains ingredients that are commonly thought to help safely support and enhance life’s everyday moments and bring the wellness benefits of ancient civilizations to your teacup. For more information about Bigelow Benefits, visit bigelowtea.com/benefits.

So next time you are looking to have a more healthful lifestyle, or just a good night’s sleep, look no further than your tea cup.

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I am a strong woman!

Instant confidence: 5 easy ways to boost your self-image

(BPT) – Feeling good about yourself these days? If so, you’re ahead of the game, since a recent study shows your perception of your own image has a profound effect on how you present yourself to the rest of the world.

Those findings could be empowering in light of the fact that even small changes to your self-care routine can significantly boost your self-confidence.

The study by researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business found those who believe in their own attractiveness view themselves as having higher social status. “The finding that your assessment of yourself shapes your view of yourself and others puts power into your hands,” the authors note.

Want to give yourself some instant confidence? Consider how these science-based suggestions may help you put your best foot forward when dealing with everything life throws your way.

* Get moving. Regardless of your fitness goals (or lack thereof), the fact is you’re likely to feel better physically, emotionally and mentally after you exercise. Research also shows it can improve your self-esteem.

* Ramp up your smile. Scientists say our brains are zapped with an instant mood boost when we smile, and that boost is reinforced when others smile back. Further, whiter teeth can have a direct effect on our social and professional interactions, and they’re now easy to achieve through consumer brands like Rembrandt’s 1 Week Whitening Kit that can achieve professional-level results at home within a week. In study results transcending gender, age, income, education, employment and marital status, 58 percent of participants were more likely to be hired after whitening their teeth, while 53 percent received higher salary offers. Sixty-one percent were deemed more confident, and 54 percent generated more interest from others in terms of further interactions or dating.

* Let your body language communicate self-respect. Keeping your shoulders pulled back and your body straight and tall communicates confidence to your brain, one study confirms. Other research found the most empowering stance is one in which your arms are held slightly away from your torso, your body is open and your head is up.

* Optimize color in your clothing. The right shade may light up your entire face and have a surprising impact on your mood. “Choosing the color of your office, your clothes or your desktop should not be taken lightly — colors do affect our moods and productivity,” states a recent article on Scienceofpeople.com. “When given the choice, picking a color that will work with you and not against you can only help.”

* Wear scent strategically. Because our brains link certain smells to positive experiences, research suggests we may be able to ramp up our confidence with scents that remind us of happy times. That’s why aromatherapy can help alleviate anxiety, depression and sleeplessness, and improve quality of life for those with chronic health issues, confirms Mayo Clinic.

Bottom line: When you’re taking care of yourself and projecting your best self, you’re far more likely to project the confidence you need to deal effectively with life.

“Confidence can make or break a lot of things,” advises Lecia Bushak on Medicaldaily.com. “In our extrovert-centric society, confidence can get you a job, a girlfriend, and the courage to say no to people or situations that are toxic to you. Confidence is knowing yourself and taking care of yourself, too.”

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Invisible hearing aids make myths of wearing one disappear

(BPT) – While 48 million Americans have significant hearing loss, many of them do not wear a hearing aid. In fact, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, 80 percent of people who would benefit from wearing a hearing aid do not wear one.

Looking older, doesn’t fit lifestyle and too much of a hassle are just a few stigmas that keep people from using a hearing aid.

However, today’s technology makes those challenges disappear with completely invisible, invisible-in-canal (IIC) and completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid options.

Hearing aid differences

So, what are the differences between the three options? It’s all in the placement:

* Completely invisible hearing aids are inserted into the canal by a hearing professional. They stay in the ear 24/7 for months at a time until the hearing aids are replaced by the professional.

* Invisible-in-canal (IIC) hearing aids are a custom-made style that is inserted into the ear canal; however, they are designed to be removed daily.

* Completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids are custom-made to sit completely in the ear canal. Only the tip of a small handle shows outside the canal. This is used to insert and remove the device.

Let’s explore how invisible hearing aids can make a person feel better about wearing a hearing aid.

Out of sight and out of mind

No one wants to look older than they are. Unfortunately, hearing loss is misperceived to be a sign of old age. However, 40 percent of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss are younger than 60.

For some people, wearing something that points out that misconception may serve as a detractor. With completely invisible hearing aids, the device slips into the canal, making it indistinguishable from everyone around the hearing aid wearer.

“Completely invisible hearing aids are out of sight and therefore, out of mind for the hearing aid wearer,” said Dr. Nicole Klutz, audiologist and product manager at Phonak. “They don’t have to worry about anyone seeing their hearing aid or associating old age with hearing loss.”

Keep an active lifestyle

The United States of Aging Survey showed that more than half of survey respondents (52 percent) who were 60 and older exercise or are physically active at least four days per week. For those who wear hearing aids, having a device that allows them to stay active is important.

Completely invisible hearing aids don’t have to be manipulated or taken in or out of ears. “A completely invisible hearing aid allows wearers to live their life as they did before they started wearing the device,” said Klutz. “They don’t have to take their hearing aid out to use the phone, exercise or participate in activities they enjoy.”

Eliminate the hassle

Completely invisible hearing aids are hassle-free because the hearing aid wearer does not have to do anything. Once the completely invisible hearing aid is in their ear, they simply forget about it and go about their normal lifestyle, according to Klutz.

“Thanks to the placement of completely invisible hearing aids, the hearing aid wearer doesn’t have to worry about taking the hearing aid out and dropping it, stepping on it or misplacing it,” she added.

Get in tune with invisible hearing aids

Klutz said the longer someone with hearing loss waits to address it, the longer and harder they are working to understand conversations where they may be missing parts of words or sentences. They also are more likely to withdraw themselves from activities they previously enjoyed but are no longer enjoying due to their hearing loss.

“People with hearing loss deserve to live a fulfilled, sound-enriched life just as everyone else, without having to worry about being judged for wearing a hearing aid,” she added.

Completely invisible hearing aids now available

Completey invisible, IIC and CIC hearing aids are available now from Phonak. For more information, visit www.trylyric.om or find a licensed hearing care professional who has been specially trained to fit the latest in hearing aid technology.

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