Family History

Why Knowing Your Family Medical History is Important

Family History

We all know that traits can get passed down in families. Freckles, curly hair, brown eyes – some shared characteristics between family members are plain to see. However, there are also things that cannot be seen: a faulty gene, a heightened risk of heart disease, or a greater susceptibility to depression.

Knowing the medical history of your family can help to reveal these risks. Here, with some insights from Jonjo Hancock-Fell at Westfield Health, we’ll explore eight of the most common conditions that can run in families, what the likelihood is of them being passed on, and what to do if you know about a condition that is present in your family.

 

1. Cancer

According to Cancer Research UK, between 5-10% of diagnosed cancers are linked to an inherited fault in your genes. Some are more likely than others to be caused by genetic factors, including breast cancer and bowel cancer.

5-10% might seem low, but it is reason enough to be aware of any cancer in your family and consider getting regular tests. If more than one family member on the same side has developed cancer, or you are concerned about your risk, speak to a GP or specialist.

 

2. Diabetes

Although genetics cannot solely determine whether you’ll develop diabetes, it does play a big role in both Type 1 and Type 2. In fact, if both parents have diabetes, it can increase the child’s likelihood of getting it by 30% for Type 1 and 75% for Type 2.

If left untreated, diabetes can get progressively worse, and it’s important to get it diagnosed early so you can learn how to manage and live with the disease. This can include lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, regular exercise and insulin injections.

 

3. Cardiovascular conditions

These are often grouped under the umbrella term ‘Inherited Cardiac Conditions’ (ICC) and can include familial cardiomyopathies, familial arrhythmias, Marfan syndrome, and Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS). ICCs are caused by a genetic mutation, of which there is a 50% chance of passing it down to your children, even if you never develop an inherited condition yourself.

It can be difficult to diagnose an ICC, but if someone in your family has one, you may be advised to undergo tests such as an ECG or echocardiogram.

 

4. Parkinson’s disease

Research is still discovering the exact causes of Parkinson’s, but genetics is thought to be responsible for about 10-15% of all cases. Some evidence also suggests that environmental factors, such as being exposed to pollution or chemicals, can contribute.

If multiple people in your family have Parkinson’s, then you will be at a heightened risk, but overall, it can be a complex combination of factors. You may carry the gene that causes Parkinson’s but never develop the disease.

 

5. Sickle cell disease

Sickle cell disease affects the haemoglobin found in red blood cells. Cells will develop in an unusual shape, which causes problems, including painful episodes, anaemia, and an increased risk of infections.

This is a recessive condition, meaning that in order to inherit it, both parents must be carriers of the gene. If both parents have the sickle cell trait, there is a 25% chance that their child will have the disease and a 50% chance that they will pass on the trait, according to the Sickle Cell Society.

 

6. Dementia

Many people who have someone in their family affected by dementia worry that they will inherit or pass it on. However, most types of dementia have little or no genetic link. For example, less than one in every 100 cases of Alzheimer’s disease is inherited. Some kinds of dementia can be hereditary, although it remains rare and is usually affected by other conditions passed on, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Rarer kinds, such as frontotemporal dementia (FTD) or Huntington’s disease, can run in families.

 

7. Huntington’s disease

Around 1 in 10,000 people in the UK have Huntington’s disease, a type of dementia caused by a gene defect that damages the brain over time.

If someone in your family has Huntington’s disease, there’s a 50% chance that their children will develop it. It’s very rare to get the disease if there is no history of it in your family.

Though symptoms of the disease can be managed with treatment and support, there is no cure for Huntington’s. If there is a history of it in your family and if you’re planning a pregnancy, it’s advised that you speak to your GP for advice.

 

8. Mental illness

Mental illnesses can be distressing for both the sufferer and their loved ones, and thus it can be a big worry that an illness could be passed on.

While research is ongoing, it’s so far thought that mental illnesses are caused by four main factors: genetics, biology, environment, and psychological factors. Some illnesses are more likely to run in families than others, such as autism, bipolar disorder, ADHD, depression, and schizophrenia. The extent of the link between genetics and mental illness is still largely unknown. However, if you have a close relative, like a parent or sibling, who suffers from a mental illness, then you have a higher risk of getting it yourself.

 

How to gather your family’s medical history

You’ll be unable to access medical records without consent, but even starting conversations with family members can help. The British Society for Genetic Medicine suggests some questions you can ask:

  • Do you have any concerns about any illnesses that seem to run on your or your partner’s side of the family?
  • Does anyone have a major physical or mental health problem?
  • Has anyone in the family needed hospital treatment for a serious illness?
  • How old were they when they were diagnosed?

 

Questions such as these can help you paint a picture of your family’s medical history. You can also build a pedigree, which is a more systematic approach to building an extensive map of medical history.

 

What should you do if a condition runs in the family?

Early detection of a disease or condition is one of the main ways you can improve your outcomes. Even for conditions that cannot be cured or treated, knowing early on can allow you to make decisions about your future or make changes that will help you in the long term.

Identifying the exact risk of developing a condition can be difficult, but a specialist or genetic counsellor can help you understand your risk, which you can access through the NHS. If you need surgery and your condition is covered, private medical cover may offer a faster route to treatment.  

 

How to reduce your risk

When it comes to reducing your risk of getting a condition that runs in your family, it can be entirely dependent on the condition. You can’t change your genes, but you can make lifestyle changes that may help. For example, having a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and getting the right amount of exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes or some ICCs.

It can be scary facing the possibility of a genetic condition for you or your children. However, knowing your family’s medical history is the first step in becoming empowered to take control of your health.

Why January is One of the Worst Months for Accidents

With 2023 looking sombre for the UK health sector, it’s especially more important than ever to be prudent on the roads. Driving can be a stressful experience at any time of the year, but there are some months that are particularly challenging. In particular, January, and winter for that matter, stands out as one of the worst months to get behind the wheel.

With NHS appointments and emergencies to contend with, roads become busier, and car accidents can happen more often. That’s why it’s important for drivers to consider car gap insurance as well as comprehensive policies so that if an accident does occur, they are covered for all costs. Let’s look at why January is such a difficult month for driving.

Next month, more NHS employees will participate in two additional strikes by nurses in England and Wales as their dispute with the government over wages continues.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced that nurses will strike at 73 trusts in England on February 6 and 7, escalating the current round of industrial action. The two days of strikes in Wales will also include participation from about 12 health boards and organisations. While discussions are ongoing, the RCN will not participate in any strikes in Scotland or Northern Ireland at this time.

Why January is not a Good Month for Driving

One of the main reasons why January is considered one of the worst months to drive in a year is the fact that people tend to take on more journeys than usual during this period. After all, with Christmas and New Year just past, many people will be travelling for various reasons – whether it’s visiting family or starting off with their resolutions early. This means that roads become much busier than usual, and the chances of an accident occurring increase significantly. On top of that, you have to contend with darker days and generally worst weather. Snowy and icy conditions make the roads extremely dangerous to drive on, and January is a notorious month for producing these types of driving conditions.

Other Factors to Remember                

It’s also important to remember that during this period, road conditions can be especially bad due to colder weather, such as ice or snow making surfaces slippery or hard-packed snow causing dangerous visibility issues. This month alone has already seen its fair share of accidents and with the NHS under growing pressure, there are unfortunately higher likelihoods that emergency respondents may not be able to arrive at the scene of a crash as quickly as normal.

All in all, when it comes down to driving during this period, safety should always come first! Be sure you plan ahead before setting off on any journeys, and ensure you have car gap insurance just in case anything goes wrong along the way! By following these guidelines, you shouldn’t have any problems – but above all else, remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times as well as follow driving guidelines.

Work Burnout

How Visiting the Office Can Benefit Your Employee’s Mental Health

Work Burnout

Remote working has become the norm, with many jobs advertising this as a benefit. However, what about the benefits of working from the office? While the flexibility of working from home can be attractive to your employees from the outset, it can often have pitfalls further in. From the lack of socialising to simply struggling with online tech support, there are many reasons your employees might actually prefer and benefit from working in the office.

Here, we will explore the benefits of working in the office and how you can support fully remote workers in replicating these benefits from their home offices.

 

Better work-life balance

By encouraging your staff to work in the office or even take up a hybrid working opportunity, they will be better able to maintain structured routines. 40% of people claim to struggle with unplugging from work when working from home, and 48% find they work longer hours when remote working. This can increase the likelihood of burnout.

Building a company culture that prioritises mindfulness, self-care, and clocking off could help employees become accustomed to leaving their work behind when the hours are up.

Encouraging staff to finish work and to leave emails unchecked after closing time can help them maintain a healthy routine. Office hours offer structure to employees. However, how do you encourage remote workers to relax? Making sure deadlines are scheduled to avoid overnight stress could be an answer. You might also consider encouraging or even offering remote memberships for an individual office space. This can give your employees the flexibility and freedom of remaining out of the office while still having a separate location to work from.

 

Social aspects

Encouraging in-office working can also have good socialising benefits for your employees. In fact, 81% of young employees claim to feel isolated if they don’t have time to work in the office. Making sure your employees have the social aspect of work is important for their happiness.

This also encourages better collaborations, both within and between teams. As employees will be working face-to-face, questions which might previously have been unanswered can now be shared quickly. Likewise, employees who may not have been asked previously might be able to contribute now, offering new insights into problems.

To offer fully remote workers the same benefit, consider breakout zoom rooms which encourage employees from across teams to brainstorm ideas or ask questions openly. In order to achieve the networking benefits, you might hold online events. These might not be work-focused but rather a chance for your employees to meet one another and connect.

 

Less stress

Working in the office can help decrease stress in some employees, such as the worry of covering bills. As utilities are set to increase, with the price cap of £2,500 set to end in April 2023, many employees might be wondering how they will cover these costs. Working from home increases electricity usage, so coming into the office can save on utility bills during the working week.

It can also help solve technical problems. Being able to visit the IT department in person, with the equipment, can make diagnosis and solution easier. Rather than having employees explain the issue, which might cause stress, especially if they aren’t technologically savvy.

For remote employees, consider offering bursaries to cover bill costs which occur due to their working hours. You may also put in place technology training to increase their understanding of the equipment, making it easier for them to communicate any technical problems to your IT department. Training on stress relieving techniques, such as meditation and breathing training, might also help reduce the worries and stress of your remote workers.

 

Safeguarding

Having your employees come into the office means you can better monitor their physical and mental health. Remote working can often tell you miss key signs of burnout, such as chronic fatigue. By encouraging employees to come into the office, you will be able to better understand the emotional state of your staff through your conversations.

When caring for your remote employee’s mental well-being, you might want to set in place regular one-to-one meetings to assess levels of happiness, stress, and other emotional states. Having an open dialogue with your employees on their levels of work could better see you spotting potential well-being issues. You might also consider offering counselling and support services.

 

Caring for your employee’s emotional well-being is important for the success of your business. Burnout can negatively impact employee productivity, as well as increase levels of depression and anxiety. Making sure your staff are cared for not only benefits the employees but can also benefit your workload. Being in the office can have many mental health benefits, from increased social exposure to decreased stress. However, where being in the office is not possible, it is important that you can offer some of the same benefits to your remote workers.

Pilates On tap

Proven to improve strength, posture, energy, balance, flexibility, immunity, mood, and sleep, what’s not to love about Pilates?

In perfect time to support your New Year health and fitness goals, GHP has been speaking with Sarah Manners, actress and Pilates instructor who has launched “Pilates On Tap”. Sarah has practiced Pilates for over 10 years and was named an ‘Inspirational Woman in Tech’ by We Are Tech Women in December 2022, and we are fortunate to have had an opportunity to find out why.

Now, the online exercise market is heaving and to stand out, you need to be different. Fortunately, Pilates On Tap is unique. It’s perfect for busy, on the go people who crave a flexible and cost-effective, yet personalised and effective exercise solution. Sarah describes it as “the closest thing you’ll get to a personal Pilates instructor in your pocket”.

It travels with you, is fully mat based and has sessions to suit any level of experience or class length.

Unlike many apps which feature one long pre-recorded video, it works differently to let you decide exactly what you want to see.

You can customise almost every element of your class, from length of session, release stretches on demand, bespoke recovery times and whether you’d like to have the detailed voice over. You choose your level of difficulty and then you can select your focus area from either strength, mobility, or posture. You can then specify further based on what exactly you’re trying to strengthen – abs, glutes, legs, shoulders – you name it, it’s there.

Pilates On Tap doesn’t use pre-recorded videos. It uses short videos showcasing each exercise, threaded together to create a seamless class targeting the goals of the individual user.

It generates a unique tailor-made video for you, every time, taught by a real-life instructor. With a limitless number of possible class combinations, there’s no way you’ll ever need to do the same video twice.

iPhone Double Screenshot

It’s this ability to be specific about what you want to achieve that sets Pilates On Tap apart.

Both the app itself, and the content have been delivered to a meticulous standard. Sarah has spent many years in media production, both in front and behind the camera, which gave her an understanding of high-quality content and an aesthetic of excellence. The tech is neat, the algorithm will progress you on a sliding scale of difficulty or take things down a notch if you say a class was too much. You can also track your improvement on your progress chart as well as save any workouts that you simply loved.

Sarah guides each video with simple, accessible terms without confusing those new to Pilates, particularly when some of the more technical concepts arise. When asked about her vision, Sarah responded, “I wanted to create an app that would provide Pilates content in an entirely bespoke way, whilst being as close as possible to a class setting. That’s what Pilates On Tap is all about, bringing a new method of teaching to people who have been practicing Pilates for years, or for those who are just starting out”.

If you hadn’t guessed, Sarah is passionate about Pilates, having learned herself just how impactful it has been on her own health and wellbeing. She’s worked hard to create a solution that can bring these same benefits to her clients. Having had the opportunity to trial it here at GHP, we are converts!

Find out more about Pilates On Tap:

Visit the website: https://pilatesontap.co.uk/

Or scan the QR Code to download the app!

Pilates On tap

Pricing:

Monthly subscription £9.99

Annual subscription £49.99* per year

*Special offer ends Jan 31st at 23.59 GMT. Usual price £119.88

Shopping For Personal Care Products Online? 5 Tips And Tricks

Personal care products are crucial for maintaining your daily hygiene and beauty routine. With the convenience of online shopping, it’s easier than ever to stock up on your favourite products from your home. However, with the vast selection of online beauty products, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. 

That’s why it’s crucial to have a few tips and tricks up your sleeve to help you navigate the online shopping world for personal care products. And buying from reputable online stores such as Wizard Pharmacy Online can be helpful in filling up your stash. This article will provide you with seven essential tips and tricks to help you confidently shop for personal care products online.   

1. Know Your Skin Type And Concerns

Your skin type refers to the natural oil production of your skin, which can be classified as oily, dry, combination, or sensitive. Your skin concerns refer to any specific issues you may have, such as acne, aging, sensitivity, or dark spots.

To determine your skin type, try the ‘barefaced test.’ Cleanse your face and go about your usual morning routine without applying any products. After about an hour, take a look at your skin. You likely have oily skin if your skin feels oily and looks shiny. You likely have dry skin if your skin feels tight and looks dry. If you have oily areas, such as your forehead, nose, and chin, and dry regions, such as your cheeks, you likely have combination skin. You likely have sensitive skin if your skin is easily irritated and prone to redness.

Knowing your skin type and concerns can help you choose products that are suitable for your skin. For example, if you have oily skin, you may want to look for oil-free products labeled as “non-comedogenic,” as these are less likely to clog pores and cause acne. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to look for products labeled as “hypoallergenic” or “fragrance-free,” as these are less likely to irritate your skin.

It’s also a good idea to keep track of any changes in your skin over time, as your skin type and concerns can change due to factors such as age, hormones, and environmental conditions. By staying in tune with your skin’s needs, you can choose the best products to keep your skin healthy and happy.

2. Read Reviews

Reviews from other customers can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness and quality of a product. They can help you understand how well a product works for others and whether it may be a good fit for you. When reading reviews, pay attention to both positive and negative reviews.

Positive reviews can give you an idea of what people like about the product, while negative reviews can help you identify any potential issues or concerns. Remember that everyone’s skin is different, so what works for one person may not work for another.

It’s also important to consider the context of the review – for example, if someone is reviewing a product specifically designed for acne and they don’t have acne, their review may not be as relevant.

3. Look For Ingredients Lists

When reviewing the ingredients list, pay attention to any ingredients you may be allergic to or trying to avoid. For example, if you have sensitive skin, avoid products with fragrances or alcohol. If you’re trying to avoid certain chemicals, such as sulfates or parabens, you can look for products that are labeled as “sulfate-free” or “paraben-free.”

By reviewing the ingredients list, you can make sure the product does not contain any ingredients that may be harmful or irritating to your skin.

4. Compare Prices

It’s always a good idea to compare prices from different retailers to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Remember that the cheapest option may not always be the best; you might have saved a little but with consequences on your skin. So, consider cost and effectiveness when making your decision.

5. Look For Promotions And Discounts

 Keep an eye out for promotions and discounts from online retailers. Signing up for newsletters or following retailers on social media can help you stay up-to-date on sales and special offers.

Conclusion

Shopping for personal care products online can be a convenient and cost-effective way to stock up on your favourite items. Following these seven tips and tricks, you can shop confidently and buy the best products for your needs and budget. With some research and careful consideration, you can find the perfect personal care products to keep you feeling clean, fresh, and beautiful.

Ways to Combat Skin Aging

Skin aging is a natural process where skin cells decay and die away leaving us with wrinkles and other side effects. However, skin aging is a symptom and it doesn’t necessarily have to do anything with age. As a matter of fact, exposure to natural elements, bad habits and often hereditary factors can cause your skin to age faster than it normally would.

In most cases, such condition can be mended either by a change of habit or use of skincare products and even Profhilo treatments, for instance, to help rejuvenate and hydrate the skin and give it a fresh makeover.

That being said, some people dread akin aging to the point where they’ll resort to more drastic measures like plastic surgery by which point aged skin is the least of their problems. So with that in mind, here are some ways to combat skin aging and prevent premature wrinkles everyone is so afraid of.

Healthy eating habits to combat aging skin

Eating healthy is one of the best ways to combat aging skin. Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help keep your skin looking young and vibrant. Moreover, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This helps flush out toxins from your body and keeps your skin cells hydrated.

Eating foods rich in antioxidants like blueberries, dark chocolate, and green tea can also help protect against free radical damage that can cause wrinkles and other signs of aging. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon are also beneficial for keeping skin looking youthful as they help reduce inflammation which can lead to premature aging. Finally, limiting processed foods high in sugar and saturated fats will help keep your skin looking its best as these types of foods can contribute to inflammation and breakouts.

Does sun exposure speed up the process of skin aging?

Yes, sun exposure can speed up the process of skin aging. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause premature wrinkles, age spots, and other skin problems. UV radiation is also linked to an increased risk of developing certain types of skin cancer.

Nowadays, direct exposure to sunlight, especially during the hot summer days is especially risky as climate change has made sunlight much more inhospitable towards our skin than what it was a few decades ago. Therefore, when you’re out and about in the daylight, be wary of how much you expose your skin to direct sunlight.

Is it possible to reverse the effects of skin aging?

Once your skin starts to develop symptoms of aging, it’s impossible to reverse it. However, you can minimize the symptoms and maintain a healthy and younger look for your skin with proper treatments or products.

By that time, you’ll have to continuously rely on treatments or products because these methods only slow down the inevitable aging of skin, they do not prevent or reverse it. Everyone grows old eventually and there’s no cure for the mortality of our bodies yet.

To conclude, make sure to practice good skincare habits such as cleansing and moisturizing daily, wearing sunscreen and eating a healthy diet to help keep your skin looking youthful.

The Ultimate Guide To Finding The Right Dermatologist For You

Choosing a dermatologist requires the same thorough and careful selection as you would when finding a doctor for your other health concerns. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and requires precise care. No matter what issues you have with it, it deserves to receive attention from someone who’s trained to solve them.

Dermatologists can help you gain back that confidence that you’ve lost due to skin problems. Whether you have acne, wrinkles, visible pores, pigmentation, or any more complex issues, they will ensure you receive solutions that are sustainable, fit for your budget, and, above all, effective. But how do you find the right one for you?

This brief guide will show all the steps you need to take to find the ideal dermatologist for your needs.

1. Read Patient Reviews 

Before you even book an appointment with a dermatologist, you must first learn what other people think of them and their services. A clinic website is one of the best places to start looking. But you should also look up patient reviews from third-party websites if you want unbiased and more transparent opinions. Read customer testimonials on their Google business listing, too.

While you’re at it, take time to check for pricing so you can think about your budget if ever you choose to visit them. 

Also, don’t forget to visit their social media pages. Check how the doctor’s management team deals with patients’ inquiries, concerns, and questions. See if they’re professional, friendly, and accommodating. You may join discussion groups and forums and ask other patients about their experiences. It won’t hurt to get referrals from others who may have the same skin concerns as you. 

2. Assess Your Dermatology Needs 

There’s a good chance you have a dermatology concern that your preferred dermatologist cannot help you with. So, assess what kind of skin issue you have. Whether you have acne breakouts, dry skin, or sun-damaged skin, it pays to know who is best equipped to deal with them. Doing so will narrow down your dermatologist choices, making it easier to select who is the perfect fit.

There are three types of dermatologists. The first one focuses on medical care, so they’re the right choice if you want to treat issues like acne or rosacea. They provide non-extensive solutions for maladies and make your skin healthier.

The next type focuses on fixing skin issues with surgery. Whether minor or major, they perform operations to remove potentially serious growths on your skin. Visit them to deal with melanomas, cysts, and so on. 

Finally, if your skin concern is purely aesthetic, such as getting rid of pigments and fine lines or making your face look more refined and sculpted, a cosmetic dermatologist should be right for you.

All in all, the best dermatologist for you is one whose specialty closely aligns with your needs. If you’re unsure about what type of dermatologist to seek help from, you can ask your family doctor for advice; usually, they also have their own referrals.

3. Ensure Their Expertise In Your Field 

After assessing your dermatology needs, you now have a category to specifically sort through the available list of dermatologists in the field. For instance, you can check out the list of trusted experts in cosmetic dermatology. You can see what skills and expertise they have and what kind of services or treatments they usually provide.

Check if the dermatologist has treated skin problems similar to yours in the past by looking through their website, landing page, testimonials, portfolio, and customer reviews.

4. Consider Personal Referrals 

As mentioned, your primary care doctor can refer you to dermatologists because they usually have a solid network of fellow doctors from different fields. Aside from that, you can try asking your close family and friends. Chances are they’ve worked with a dermatologist before. 

Seek their personal recommendations. Talk about the skin issues you want to treat so they may refer you to a dermatologist who can deal with them. Ask for their contact information if they have them. Then, give them a call to ask about their clinic location, operating hours, and procedures for reservation. 

5. Check Their Credentials 

Finally, you need to check the dermatologist’s credentials. Check their educational backgrounds, certifications, and affiliated networks or organizations. It’s more likely that a dermatologist with extensive training and experience can provide you with various treatment options depending on your skin problem. After all, you’ll be entrusting them with your body, so it’s crucial to know they can provide the treatment you seek.

Board certification is a big thing you should look for. You can also verify if that dermatologist has been sued for malpractice or was the subject of litigation.

Start Your Search Today

No matter your skin concerns, there’s always a professional ready to help you with them. It’s a matter of finding which ones can give you the solutions you need. By doing careful research and considering these steps, you can narrow down your choices and find the ideal dermatologist to work with.

Happiness group of people huddle and smiling together

The Journey to Your Happy Place: Creating Equilibrium in Your Life

Do you ever just want to escape reality and go to a place where you feel safe, happy, and loved?

We all have that special memory of the past that we like to come back to, or a meditation corner we have created to help us recentre and take some weight off our shoulders.

Happy places are a great way to find balance in a busy world. Here are a few suggestions on how to create or access yours.

 

The happiest countries in the world

Going to a happy place can literally mean packing your backpack and jetting off to one of the happiest destinations in the world.

The 2021 World Happiness Report has determined the world’s happiest countries, and the headliner is Finland. It is followed by Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.

What makes these countries rank the highest is neighbourhood support, social benefits, and a feeling of security amongst a united community. In Denmark, for example, people are notoriously known for paying the highest tax. Yet they see it as an investment in their quality of life because the tax goes towards supporting free healthcare, education, and unemployment benefits.

Immersing yourself in the community these countries provide will charge you up with some good vibes, which you can then spread back home. Whether you’re going for a weekend or a long-haul holiday, it will definitely be a fresh restart.

 

Join a community

If you’re longing for that community feeling and social interactions to help you recharge your batteries, you can recreate your happy place at home. Just take some inspiration from the community-centred Nordic countries and apply it to your personal social life.

Perhaps you want to join a dance group, a book club, or a Friday night mums’ gathering. Whatever your interests and hobbies are, you are sure to find like-minded people.

A great way to take your friendships to the next level is by organising weekly or monthly gatherings around a certain topic. For example, you can get together and share three good things that happened to you and discuss them, or even do a moon ritual and connect with nature’s divine cycles.

Even indulging in regular shopping therapy and visiting your favourite stores can boost your happiness. There is nothing better than a girl-to-girl confidence boost, and the compliments you get on a pair of pink sandals will do wonders for your mood.

Instilling that sacred feeling of togetherness and love will make you long for more of those special moments. This is your happy place.

 

Imagine your happy place

What if you aren’t always able to visit a happy place physically? Then you can create one mentally.

We’re bestowed with such vast imagination that we can envision any world that we wish. Flicking through images of love, happiness, and beauty, we can easily transcend ourselves to where we feel happy and serene.

Alternatively, we can dive into the well of our memories and treat our bodies and minds to a journey across our cherished past. Thinking about feel-good moments increases our serotonin levels – the happiness hormone known as the mediator for well-being. By boosting this vital neurotransmitter, we’re not only uplifting our mood but are also taking care of our physical health, and mainly the digestive system.

 

Create a safe space

Whether you’re travelling through your memories, discovering new mental worlds, or simply surrendering to the peace and quiet, having a safe space where you can practise this is essential.

Find a corner in your home where you can set the scene. Place cushions and blankets on the floor, light up some candles or incense and ensure you are not disturbed.

You can also incorporate painting, writing, singing, and dancing into the process and unleash your creativity to maximise the results.

This is your ‘me time’, so make it special.

Whenever you feel down or simply need a serotonin boost, travelling to your happy place can be a great fix. Whether you’re visiting an actual place that emits happiness or going into your imagination, the springs of joy are always available for you. Yet the happiest place of all is within yourself – being comfortable with who you are and nurturing it – is your key to a long life!

Girl Wearing Face Mask

Mental Health and Air Quality: Are They Linked?

Girl Wearing Face Mask

Studies have found that poor air quality not only has detrimental effects on our physical health, but also on our mental well-being.

If untreated, being exposed to high levels of air pollution could result in spiralling cases of varying mental health disorders, and it may seem as though this is out of our control.

However, with efforts to reduce air pollution in areas with poor air quality, and individual efforts to monitor air quality in workplaces and households, combatting rising air pollution levels could result in drastic improvements to our mental health.

 

The link between mental health and air quality

“Mental health is an increasingly discussed topic, and our society is shaping into one that is becoming more aware and reactive to it,” says Dr Chunli Cao, Managing Director of Healthy Air Technology and Fellow of CIBSE, who has worked towards creating ground-breaking solutions in the sector.

“This means exploring different avenues that can affect our mental health is crucial, and air quality is one of them,” she adds.

Studies have shown that being exposed to higher levels of harmful particles like Particulate Matter (PM2.5) and Nitrogen Oxide (NO2) can result in a range of mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

The risks attached to poor air quality can be as severe as to have led to an increase in hospital cases, with mental conditions so poor that the amount of suicides has increased.

Pollutants can enter the body and impact our nervous system, damaging our DNA cells, whilst also entering through our olfactory system into our brain tissue, causing long-term brain damage. In doing so, they can affect how we process emotions, and over time the particles can harm the limbic system – which is the part of the brain that controls our emotional and behavioural responses.

Making the necessary changes to protect our mental health would have various benefits, and even just a small reduction with just one pollutant could save the NHS millions a year.

 

How poor air quality can affect mental development in children

The mental health risks for children can be severe if they are exposed to high levels of air pollution, and according to the World Health Organisation, 93% of children breathe polluted air that is hazardous to their health.

At such a young age, our brains and our behaviour are still developing, and poor air quality, particularly high levels of PM2.5, can greatly damage this development.

If there is continued exposure throughout childhood, there’s a risk of long-lasting effects to brain activity. This can result in anxiety, depression, and attention disorders.

Adolescents can also suffer from mental health disorders, with studies finding that young people living in relatively high levels of ozone led to an increase in depression, with feelings of loneliness, sadness, and self-hate.

Researchers have also discovered that young people who live in areas of higher pollution are three to four times more likely to develop depression by the age of 18.

Therefore, without tackling the root of the problem, the brain’s processes will weaken over time, leading to permanent mental health problems.

 

How to protect our mental health from poor air quality

“We must put measures in place to improve air quality, specifically by reducing air pollution in areas with high levels of pollutants,” states Chunli.

We can look at tackling the problem on a wider scale first, preventing the increase of air pollution through targeting traffic levels and encouraging alternative transport, working collectively as well as needing the council to contribute time and resources.

With years of expertise in air cleansing solutions, Chunli also advocates for monitoring indoor air quality in order to protect our mental health.

She comments: “Individuals and businesses can invest in air purifiers to monitor the air they breathe the majority of their day, both at home and in workplaces.

“This would ensure children are being protected, too, and that our mental health is being made more of a priority through taking preventative and reactive measures in areas that we have control over.”

6 Harmful Effects of Air Pollution on People’s Health

In this day and age, everyone knows that air pollution can be extremely harmful. Yet, still, not enough seems to be being done to reduce air pollution levels.

Motor vehicles, industrial facilities, and household combustion devices, among other things, all contribute to air pollution. Pollutants like particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and sulphur dioxide are all major public health concerns.

So, make no mistake, the air we breathe is becoming more and more dangerously polluted. Here is a look at just six harmful effects that air pollution can have on people’s health.

1. Air Pollution Can Kill

According to the World Health Organisation, nine out of ten people in the world now breathe air that is polluted, which results in approximately seven million deaths every year.

Those fatalities are attributed to both indoor and outdoor pollution and include both natural and man-made sources of air pollution.

2. Air Pollution Can Cause Asthma

Air pollution can cause various health conditions that can be fatal. That includes asthma. And children with asthma are affected the most.

For instance, in a landmark legal case in the U.K. in 2020, a south London coroner stated that the failure to reduce pollution levels to the legally required limits was a contributing factor in the death of a nine-year-old girl who suffered from severe asthma.

Her death, in 2013, was caused by severe asthma, acute respiratory failure, and air pollution exposure.

The coroner even specifically mentioned that the girl’s exposure to particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide pollution, which exceeded the WHO’s guidelines, was partially responsible for her tragic death. The principal sources of those air pollutants came from motor vehicle emissions.

Indeed, it is already known that up to 14% of children around the world aged between five and eighteen have asthma that is related to air pollution. Wrongful death lawsuits could potentially be brought against those responsible for air pollution that results in individual fatalities.

If you have a loved one who you believe was a victim of wrongful death, regardless of the cause, you should contact a wrongful death attorney.

3. Air Pollution Can Cause Other Health Problems in Children

Children who are exposed to air pollutants can be harmed in other ways in addition to potentially developing asthma. For instance, air pollution has been linked to childhood cancers and cognitive impairment.

Air pollution can also negatively affect the brain growth of foetuses.

4. Air Pollution Can Cause Strokes

According to the WHO, one-third of global deaths from strokes, heart disease, and lung cancer are caused by air pollution. Strokes are a serious life-threatening medical condition. They occur when the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off.

When someone experiences a stroke, it is a medical emergency that requires urgent treatment.

5. Air Pollution Can Cause Heart Disease

Heart disease is a major cause of death around the world each year. Symptoms to watch out for include chest pain, shortness of breath, feeling sick, feeling faint, and having pain throughout your body.

6. Air Pollution Can Cause Lung Cancer

Lung cancer starts in the lungs but can spread to lymph nodes as well as other organs in a person’s body, such as the brain. In the U.K. alone, over 43,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year.

There are few signs in the early stage of lung cancer, but many people who suffer from the condition develop symptoms like persistent coughs and breathlessness, unexplained weight loss, and coughing up blood.

While there are multiple causes of lung cancer, heart disease, and strokes, sadly, air pollution is one leading cause.

Aerobics

Aerobic Activity Can Reduce the Risk of Metastatic Cancer by 72%

Aerobics

A new study at Tel Aviv University found that aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of metastatic cancer by 72%. According to the researchers, intensity aerobic exercise increases the glucose (sugar) consumption of internal organs, thereby reducing the availability of energy to the tumor.  

The study was led by two researchers from TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine: Prof. Carmit Levy from the Department of Human Genetics and Biochemistry and Dr. Yftach Gepner from the School of Public Health and the Sylvan Adams Sports Institute. Prof. Levy emphasizes that by combining scientific knowhow from different schools at TAU, the new study has led to a very important discovery which may help prevent metastatic cancer – the leading cause of death in Israel.

The paper was published in the prestigious journal Cancer Research and chosen for the cover of the November 2022 issue

Prof. Levy and Dr. Gepner: “Studies have demonstrated that physical exercise reduces the risk for some types of cancer by up to 35%. This positive effect is similar to the impact of exercise on other conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. In this study we added new insight, showing that high-intensity aerobic exercise, which derives its energy from sugar, can reduce the risk of metastatic cancer by as much as 72%.  If so far the general message to the public has been ‘be active, be healthy’, now we can explain how aerobic activity can maximize the prevention of the most aggressive and metastatic types of cancer.”

The study combined an animal model in which mice were trained under a strict exercise regimen, with data from healthy human volunteers examined before and after running. The human data, obtained from an epidemiological study that monitored 3,000 individuals for about 20 years, indicated 72% less metastatic cancer in participants who reported regular aerobic activity at high intensity, compared to those who did not engage in physical exercise.

The animal model exhibited a similar outcome, also enabling the researchers to identify its underlying mechanism. Sampling the internal organs of the physically fit animals, before and after physical exercise, and also following the injection of cancer, they found that aerobic activity significantly reduced the development of metastatic tumors in the lymph nodes, lungs, and liver. The researchers hypothesized that in both humans and model animals, this favorable outcome is related to the enhanced rate of glucose consumption induced by exercise.

Prof. Levy: “Our study is the first to investigate the impact of exercise on the internal organs in which metastases usually develop, like the lungs, liver, and lymph nodes. Examining the cells of these organs we found a rise in the number of glucose receptors during high-intensity aerobic activity – increasing glucose intake and turning the organs into effective energy-consumption machines, very much like the muscles. We assume that this happens because the organs must compete for sugar resources with the muscles, known to burn large quantities of glucose during physical exercise. Consequently, if cancer develops, the fierce competition over glucose reduces the availability of energy that is critical to metastasis. Moreover, when a person exercises regularly, this condition becomes permanent: the tissues of internal organs change and become similar to muscle tissue. We all know that sports and physical exercise are good for our health. Our study, examining the internal organs, discovered that exercise changes the whole body, so that the cancer cannot spread, and the primary tumor also shrinks in size.”  

Dr. Gepner adds: “Our results indicate that unlike fat-burning exercise, which is relatively moderate, it is a high-intensity aerobic activity that helps in cancer prevention. If the optimal intensity range for burning fat is 65-70% of the maximum pulse rate, sugar burning requires 80-85% – even if only for brief intervals. For example: a one-minute sprint followed by walking, then another sprint. In the past, such intervals were mostly typical of athletes’ training regimens, but today we also see them in other exercise routines, such as heart and lung rehabilitation. Our results suggest that healthy individuals should also include high-intensity components in their fitness programs. We believe that future studies will enable personalized medicine for preventing specific cancers, with physicians reviewing family histories to recommend the right kind of physical activity. It must be emphasized that physical exercise, with its unique metabolic and physiological effects, exhibits a higher level of cancer prevention than any medication or medical intervention to date.”

Human Health

How Healthy Are We? Chilling Statistics Reveal Decline in Workplace Health

Human Health

An Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG) survey highlighted burnout and fatigue affecting 43% of employees equally within remote or on-site locations. Employee health and the rising burnout rates are among the primary challenges faced by employers today. Similarly, a PwC’s Pulse survey recording CHROs responses observed 51% of their respondents as having either anxiety or burnout, and see this as a huge challenge. This further highlights how significant the employee health crisis is.

“Around 6 in 10 US adults have one chronic disease,” notes Ausrine Cebatore, VP of Sales and Strategic Partnerships at Kilo Health. “4 in 10 have two chronic ailments. Employers are trying to change these statistics, but with limited success.” So what are the primary health concerns workers today experience? Understanding this is the key facet that can enable companies to invest better in their employee health.

 

How is workplace health declining?

Ischemic heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of workplace deaths, as recorded by the World Health Organization. Ergonomic inefficiencies, long working hours, and noise are recorded as possible reasons for this.

A Workplace Health Report conducted by Champion Health noted poor mental health affected 1 in 5 employees. This has directly resulted in a decline in productivity which has cost businesses heavily. This report has also highlighted that almost 60% of employees recorded new musculoskeletal pain. Extended hours spent sitting at a desk working was a prime reason behind this. Only 18% said they took regular breaks every 30 minutes. The pandemic has only worsened most of these statistics. 

A 2020 American Psychological Association survey recorded almost 70% of Americans experiencing stress due to the economic situation and their work. Parents were noted to have higher levels of stress among these cohorts. “We spend an endless number of hours a day working,” highlights Cebatore. “This has left us with very few hours to balance our lives with our work. This is why we are waking up to a time of The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting.”

Workplaces often address health needs only through simple awareness campaigns, not through proactive methods employees require. Additionally, many employees have felt that their diverse concerns may not be heard, resulting in unusable health benefits.

For instance, a McKinsey survey reported that 65% of full-time US employees have one basic health need unmet. This resulted in them missing approximately 5 days of work per year for this. These rates were higher among employees of color and LGBTQ+ employees.

The concerns relating to employee health are diverse. This means that companies need to start listening to their employees when tailoring their benefits package. 

 

How can companies invest in employee health?

When companies overlook their employee health, it’s not only employees that suffer. Employers also see high losses in terms of output. Health-related absenteeism can cost companies heavily in terms of productivity. Mental health issues alone are expected to cost businesses 16 trillion dollars in output by 2030. A notable concern for many of the employees is the limited and unusable health benefits present in their workplaces. A Pew Research Center survey recorded that 43% of their respondents have left their jobs, citing limited benefits such as health insurance and paid time off.

Companies often make the mistake of placing a one-size-fits-all health benefits package when employees sign their contracts. Unfortunately, a lot of these cannot be used or are not inclusive. For instance, employees who are disabled might require more accessibility to workplaces and more flexibility with their health insurance. Similarly, parents would need coverage for their families.

Additionally, a big ask following the times of the pandemic has been the need to have more flexible work times. Many employees think that commuting takes up a lot of their time, which could have been used to invest in their health. 

Management of finances also helped reduce employee stress. Around half, 51% of employees, rated their financial benefits as good in the latest Bank of America’s Workplace Benefits Report. This report also noted that 46% of employees recorded financial wellness as a key component of overall wellness. Increasing wellness budgets to cover a wider range of health benefits is crucial. Companies then record lower losses in their yearly financial turnouts.

 

Future of workplace health

The global corporate wellness market is expected to reach $66.20 billion in value by 2027, as observed by Allied Market Research. This means that new tools are being developed to improve employee health and increase economic turnover. Telemedicine and smart devices are some tools that will see an increase in their use within the workplace. Tailored nutrition plans, access to counselors, workout classes, and health monitoring are simple, intuitive tools employees can use to manage their health.

Understanding that time off or time spent to nurture other aspects of one’s individuality helps increase workplace productivity. 91% of employees in a study conducted by the American Psychological Society found themselves wanting to do their best within companies that invested in their wellness.  

“Kilo Health’s survey showcased that 87% of Americans know the basics of taking care of their physical health,” Ausrine Cebatore concludes. “This essentially means that the right tools are required to facilitate employee health and encourage a more holistic employee experience.”