This Week's Newsletter

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Monday Motivation


Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.

Weekly Quote


“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough!”


Six Relaxation Techniques to Reduce Stress


  Following are six relaxation techniques that can help you evoke the relaxation response and reduce stress.

1. Breath focus. In this simple, powerful technique, you take long, slow, deep breaths (also known as abdominal or belly breathing). As you breathe, you gently disengage your mind from distracting thoughts and sensations. Breath focus can be especially helpful for people with eating disorders to help them focus on their bodies in a more positive way. However, this technique may not be appropriate for those with health problems that make breathing difficult, such as respiratory ailments or heart failure.

2. Body scan. This technique blends breath focus with progressive muscle relaxation. After a few minutes of deep breathing, you focus on one part of the body or group of muscles at a time and mentally releasing any physical tension you feel there. A body scan can help boost your awareness of the mind-body connection. If you have had a recent surgery that affects your body image or other difficulties with body image, this technique may be less helpful for you.

3. Guided imagery. For this technique, you conjure up soothing scenes, places, or experiences in your mind to help you relax and focus. You can find free apps and online recordings of calming scenes—just make sure to choose imagery you find soothing and that has personal significance. Guided imagery may help you reinforce a positive vision of yourself, but it can be difficult for those who have intrusive thoughts or find it hard to conjure up mental images.

4. Mindfulness meditation. This practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your mind's attention to the present moment without drifting into concerns about the past or the future. This form of meditation has enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years. Research suggests it may be helpful for people with anxiety, depression, and pain.

5. Yoga, tai chi, and qigong. These three ancient arts combine rhythmic breathing with a series of postures or flowing movements. The physical aspects of these practices offer a mental focus that can help distract you from racing thoughts. They can also enhance your flexibility and balance. But if you are not normally active, have health problems, or a painful or disabling condition, these relaxation techniques might be too challenging. Check with your doctor before starting them.

6. Repetitive prayer. For this technique, you silently repeat a short prayer or phrase from a prayer while practicing breath focus. This method may be especially appealing if religion or spirituality is meaningful to you.

Rather than choosing just one technique, experts recommend sampling several to see which one works best for you. Try to practice for at least 20 minutes a day, although even just a few minutes can help. But the longer and the more often you practice these relaxation techniques, the greater the benefits and the more you can reduce stress.

-Source: Julie Corliss

Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Georgia Among Top States For Childhood Obesity


GEORGIA — The obesity rate among children between 10 and 17 years old in America is 15.8 percent, according to a new report from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In Georgia, the obesity rate among children is 18.4 percent, landing in among the top 10 states for childhood obesity.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a nonpartisan philanthropic and research group dedicated to improving the country's health, released its report last week, finding that nearly one in six young people are obese, putting them at a greater risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.

The authors noted there are significant disparities along racial lines. Obesity rates were "significantly" higher among black and Hispanic children than among white and Asian kids. Black children had the highest rate at 22.5 percent followed by Hispanic youths at 20.6 percent. That number was 12.5 percent for white youths and just 6.4 percent for Asian kids.

Mississippi had the highest obesity rate among kids ages 10-17 at 26.1 percent, followed by West Virginia and Kentucky. Here are the 10 states with the highest proportion of obese kids:

Mississippi, 26.1 percent

West Virginia, 20.3 percent

Kentucky, 19.3 percent

Louisiana, 19.1 percent

Oklahoma, 18.7 percent

Ohio, 18.6 percent

Texas, 18.5 percent

Georgia, 18.4 percent

Alabama, 18.2 percent

Iowa, 17.7 percent

Nine of the 10 states with the highest rates are located in the South, the organization highlighted. Meanwhile, nine of the 10 states with the lowest rates are located either in the West or Northwest.

Two states had rates under 10 percent, with Utah pacing the country at 8.7 percent followed by New Hampshire at 9.8 percent. Washington, Minnesota and Wyoming rounded out the five states with the smallest percent of obese children.

If there was a "most improved" award, it would go to North Dakota, which saw its youth obesity rate drop from 15.8 percent in 2016 all the way to 12.5 percent in the combined 2016-17 data set. It was the only state to see a statistically significant change.

The study used data from the 2016-17 National Survey of Children's Health, which is based on parent reports of their kids' heights and weights. The parent reports are used to calculate body-mass index (BMI), which establishes percentiles in different age groups and identifies children who are obese.

The 2016-17 national obesity rate was down slightly from 16.1 percent in 2016 alone. The drop was not enough to be deemed statistically significant.

The survey was significantly redesigned before the 2016 report, the authors said, so it is impossible to directly compare results from the 2016 or 2017 survey to previous versions.

Scientists predict more than 50 percent of today's kids will be obese by age 35 if current trends continue, the report noted. To change that future, the authors recommended federal lawmakers strengthen vital nutrition programs for low-income children and expand programs to make healthy foods more accessible, among other things.

-Source: Daniel Hampton

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