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Corrie Pikul (131 posts)
It's called Indian head massage, and while some therapists use essential oils, it can be done on dry heads, too (crucial for when you can't go back to work with greasy hair). I was a little worried about scheduling my first-ever appointment during the middle of the day, but Denise Galon, a certified massage therapist based in New York, told me that she'd tailor my treatment to include moves that made me nod off as well as some that helped me snap to attention. Galon practices a type of head massage called "champissage," which is a cross-cultural hybrid that involves both the frictional moves that are part of traditional head massages Indian people get from their families and at the barber shop, as well as the usual shoulder and neck squeezes.
When Galon had finished, I felt relaxed yet also surprisingly focused. Because I had a feeling that my circuits would be overloaded again in no time, I asked Galon for a takeaway exercise I could do on my own back at the office. This is what she calls the "occipital rub." Try it the next time you need to be calm and focused enough to settle into working at your desk, but not so relaxed that you want to put your head down on it.
To assess the cleanliness of the typical office building, researchers sponsored by Kimberly-Clark Professional swabbed nearly 5,000 surfaces of manufacturing facilities, law firms, insurance companies, healthcare companies and call centers with about 3,000 employees. The dirtiest surfaces turned out to be in break rooms: on the handles of sink faucets, microwaves and refrigerators (that reminds me: I went into our office fridge to get milk!). When you think about it, this isn't that surprising...but how often do we take the time to think about viruses when heating up our leftovers for lunch?
The Kimberly-Clark web site has an amusing-slash-alarming feature where you can roll your mouse over different office "hot spots" and learn germ facts. Check out the water cooler: Viruses can live from 20 minutes to 2 hours on surfaces like these. And the elevator buttons: "Just one finger can spread germs throughout an entire building."
But don't panic--and don't think you can hide out in your cubicle: the study showed that we bring a lot of these germs back with us to our computer mice and keyboards. As one of the microbiologists who consulted on the on the study advised, you just need to be as diligent as possible about washing your hands, using hand sanitizer where it's available, and wiping down surfaces with disinfectant wipes.
You could even use this new information to your advantage: those peanut M&Ms in the vending machine probably seem a lot less appealing now that you know you'll have to brave germ-saturated buttons in order to get to them...
What's better: Hand sanitizers vs. hand-washing?
"A goal is arguably just a random something that is sufficiently far away. A caprice. But somehow, if taken seriously, if treated as fate, a goal can make an odyssey out of what would otherwise just be the small hours of life. One sets out to fulfill the prophecy no prophet ever professed, and the drama of how to get there from here makes meaning out of what might otherwise be just meanderings."
--From an ELLE magazine profile of one of our heroes, Diana Nyad, who will make another attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida this summer.
Maybe, says Ellen Marmur, MD, vice chair of cosmetic and dermatologic surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, especially if you have sensitive skin. "Many of the children's products are free of irritating chemicals, which can be good for women who have sensitive skin and are possibly overdoing it with other anti-aging pharmaceuticals throughout the day," she says. However, it's important to do your research. Be sure to compare the kids' brand to the adult version (if the company makes one), noting active ingredients, because both sometimes contain the same chemicals. Marmur adds that the premium adult formulations also tend to be more sheer and easily absorbed into the skin, creating a more natural finish. While a shiny high-beam face might be perfectly appropriate for a day building sandcastles, you may prefer the subtle, matte protection of an adult sunscreen (they come in natural formulations, too) when heading to a grown-up BBQ or deck party.
Looking to go au naturel (or at least "more naturel")? The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit that monitors the use of potentially harmful chemicals in consumer products, recently issued their list of the safest, most effective sunscreens for 2012 (this includes products for kids as well as adults).
Should you apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer?
How much sunscreen do you really need?
Have you heard about the most epic film of the summer? No, it isn't Snow White and the Huntsman or Prometheus. It's ... Slinky on a Treadmill. Early reviews have called it "dramatic," "affecting" and "weirdly suspenseful:)". While we're not giving up our multiplex tickets, we did take something else away from this charming little video, with its low-fi technique and orchestral soundtrack: workout motivation. Watch how the Slinky puts one coil in front of the other, over and over again, in the rhythm of determination. Note its single-minded pursuit of a goal. Pay attention to how the Slinky trips, stumbles and then regains its balance and poise, falling right back into step. The next time we find ourselves slowing to a demoralized slog mid-workout, we're going to cue up this mental video and push ourselves to...slink up the pace.
More motivation to work out:
Think of it as play!
Scrap the excuses, with Bob Greene's help
Try one of these addictively fun workouts
Fortunately, there's a new product that makes that choice a little less stark. I recently heard about Just Great Stuff organic powdered peanut butter from Betty Lou's, a Oregon-based company that makes healthy snacks. Powdered peanut butter sounds like the kind of thing that would appeal mostly to astronauts and Boy Scouts, and I was initially uninterested--until I heard that it has 93 percent less fat than traditional peanut butter, and that it comes in chocolate flavor (I should admit here that in those moments when I've needed extra, um, inspiration, I've been known to dip spoonfuls of peanut butter into powdered hot chocolate). Two tablespoons of this stuff has only 40 calories and 1 gram of fat (but only 4 grams of protein versus the 8 grams in the same amount of regular peanut butter).
The ingredient list sounded tame enough: peanuts, coconut sugar (from the coconut palm flower), alkalized Dutch cocoa powder, vanilla powder, Stevia extract and sea salt (all organic). To make the peanut butter buttery, the instructions say to mix 2 tablespoons with 1 tablespoon water and stir until smooth (this creates a slightly watery consistency, so I advise starting with a teaspoon of water and adding more to thicken to your taste). With water, what had started as a bitter-tasting, crumbly powder (not the kind of thing you'd eat from the jar) became a chocolately, peanutty, just-slightly-gritty paste that made me think of Nutella's yoga-teaching, NorCal-dwelling cousin. I loved it, both plain as well as spread on bananas and whole-wheat toast, and I imagine it would be great in smoothies, too. Best of all, I found that the act of mixing and stirring broke my peanut butter trance so I didn't eat it in mindless mass quantities. For a classic PBJ sandwich, I'd still opt for the real deal, but this surprisingly tasty alternative allows me to have my peanut butter (in the house), and eat it, too.
Make your own peanut butter
This doesn't just make us feel tired and distracted--the researchers have found that living against your body clock can also make you gain weight. In a recent paper in Current Biology, Roenneberg estimates that for every hour of social jet lag, the risk of being overweight or obese rises about 33 percent, NPR reports.
Roenneberg's (rather unhelpful) advice is to pay attention to your body clock and get as much sleep as you need. But it's just not practical for most of us to get back on the sun's schedule--even modern farmers probably stay up past dusk to check email, Skype with Mom and watch HBO. We all know that sleeping differently on the weekends than you do during the week does you no favors. The fact that it makes social jet lag worse is one more reason to avoid staying up late on Saturday nights and snoozing on Sundays. By making it a priority to keep a consistent sleep schedule, at least then you'll only be juggling two clocks instead of three.
14 ways to get a good night's sleep
My friend could never have known it at the time, but her advice to follow a purpose-focused life--a message that will be echoed by countless speakers at graduations across the country this month--would turn out to be a scientifically-backed way to protect our brains against the almost-inevitable deterioration and damage of age. In one of the most inspiring things I've read this year, a paper in the Archives of General Psychiatry discusses how a sense of meaning can mitigate the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
As an article in the Atlantic explains, a group of researchers from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago have been following more than 1,400 senior citizens since 1997. Study participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their purpose in life, and then, after they died (from whatever cause, at whatever time), their brains were analyzed as part of an autopsy. Those who rated high on the "purpose" scale didn't necessarily have healthier brains--many had the same amounts of harmful plaques and "tangles" associated with Alzheimer's and dementia as others at different points on the scale. However, while alive, the living-for-a-reason people showed a 30 percent lower rate of cognitive decline. In other words, they didn't show as many outward signs of the disease. One of the researchers told the Atlantic that she and her team "were surprised at just how 'robustly protective' a strong sense of purpose in life really was." [Read more about the study, and the power of purpose, at Atlantic.com]
As I get older and start to think more about putting one foot in front of the other instead of where I want those footsteps to take me, this research was a reminder of my friend's youthful advice—and it gave me a reason to resume the search for that elusive weasel frolicking in the surf.
Each nylon duffel has beachy stripes and comes packed with supplies that Thompson, who also had a preventative double mastectomy, deems essential to a comfortable recovery. For example, Thompson explains that after a procedure involving tissue removal, some fluid accumulates at the surgical site, and patients are sent home with special drains they need to tend to. However, Thompson says that most of her patients were so woozy when they heard the instructions that they forgot what they were supposed to do. That's why her bag includes a little drain care kit with specific how-to's--not the sexiest Get Well gift, but one of the most useful, and therefore, one of the most thoughtful. The bag also includes a heart-shaped microbead pillow that women can put under their arms to ease the pressure on their incision, as well as surprises like slipper socks, earplugs (for creating silence in a bustling recovery unit) and high-end face lotion and eye balm. Thompson's company offers other bags designed for the unique needs of patients recovering from brain and gynecological operations and, soon, C-sections. (Fifteen percent of the net profit from each bag Bffl Bag will be donated to a related health charity.)
It will make you feel good to see your VIP (Very Important Patient) using Thompson's road-tested items in the bag during the first days after her surgery...and it will make you feel even better to see her tote the bag to the gym and the beach not too long after that.