The health benefits of watching the World Cup

It’s the fever that has infected millions of people around the planet, the same that paralyzes businesses, offices, and even traffic…It’s the Soccer World Cup!

Yes, soccer, the game that concentrates two teams of 11 players each in a field where everyone fights for the ball, and where the winner is the team that manages to get more goals to their opponent. Soccer is not only one of the most popular sports in the world, but also the one that attracts every year thousands of American teenagers who want to be part of the soccer wave.

According to recent statistics, the number of high school soccer players in the U.S. reached a record just a year ago with more than 800 thousand boys and girls joining and playing the popular sport.

Then, it’s not strange to see that today everybody stops to watch a game in the middle of the morning or even before the sun goes up. Every 4 years the World Cup gathers the most important national teams and millions of fans want to witness history with them.

Now, if you’re still not part of that mass of people who vibrate with a goal and suffer from their soccer team, you may change your mind after knowing that watching soccer is not only fun but has benefits for your life and for your health.

  • It’s relaxing and distracts you from stress. Since you never know what’s going to happen, it keeps your mind focused on the game and out of your daily problems. It also stimulates the neuronal activity reducing the stress hormone level in your brain.
  • It allows you to scream, jump and vent your emotions without being judged.
  • A soccer game it’s the perfect opportunity and scenario for you to interact and socialize with different people. Classes, background, and even political views stay behind while you and others are watching a game together.

So let yourself get infected by soccer fever and make time for you to enjoy the biggest sports party on the planet, after all, it’s even healthy!

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What happened in Vegas… affected all of us

It happened miles away from Florida, more than 2,400 to be accurate. However, the impact of the attack that claimed the lives of 58 people and wounded almost 500 in Las Vegas touched each and every one of the lives of this country’s residents, in one way or another.

According to mental health specialists, that’s not strange. We live as a community and the fact of knowing that so many people died in a matter of minutes, people like you or me, housewives, nurses, teachers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, wives, and husbands, could shake anyone and sow fears.

Every time we hear tragic stories like that attack in Las Vegas, and who were the victims, it’s inevitable to find similarities with our life or our own loved ones. It’s impossible not to identify ourselves with one or more of the involved people. That could be the cause of stress, anxiety and even depression, it doesn’t matter how close or far away are you from the epicenter.

This week it happened in Las Vegas, last year, in June, it was Orlando, in 2015 San Bernardino was the scenario, and like those, every violent episode brings questions, fears, and doubts that could affect our mental health, our emotional stability, and our peace.

Experts say that those scars will be there forever. It’s impossible to delete from our memory and our heart the pain that dozens of families have experienced, the anxiety that entire cities have to face after such a tragedy. But rather than fearing what could come next, specialists say, it’s important to prepare for future events.

If you feel that this situation is overwhelming for you, it’s important to take some action:

  • Avoid news exposure at least until you feel that you can handle it.
  • Talk to other people. Express your fears and ask others how are they coping with their own.
  • Consult your physician if you feel like the anxiety and the fear are taking over.
  • Your family and close friends are your best support. It’s healthy to open the conversation with them to listen how are they feeling about this.
  • It helps to discuss the specific situation that causes more anxiety.
  • Look for relaxation methods that you can apply easily and constantly.

Distance doesn’t define who we are and how we feel. The important thing is to be able to face the situations that cause us pain or anguish in the best possible way, and always thinking and knowing that there are ways to get ahead.

 

What we learned from Irma

There is a saying that from every tragedy we learn, that from the dark moments, always a light is born. Did we learn the lessons from Irma?

The destructive and monstrous hurricane announced its presence, took its time, and came to us, and even though we knew it was coming, many people decided to ignore the warnings of the authorities.

Yes, we have seen dozens of hurricanes, we have heard the warnings and at the end of the day, things are not as bad as they were pictured, right? But how is it possible to know how strong it will beat us? Reality is that we don’t know. Mother nature is always unpredictable.

We know now that the communications and electrical infrastructures around us are vulnerable, and some would say even weak. If you think that has nothing to do with you, it actually has!

When we know that after a storm we could lose basic services like water and electricity, we have to be ready and prepared to face that situation. Some thought that as usually happens, the regular canned food and extra couple of bottles of water would be enough. But they were not.

The long lines in front of almost empty supermarkets are proof of it. The fear of thousands of families for not being able to get their medicines or basic foods for their kids are proof of it.

Irma showed us that enough is not what we think. Irma showed us that optimism should not be confused with neglect. Irma showed us that what at first sight seems to be “just rain”, is not. That rain paralyzed thousands of families, thousands of businesses, thousands of people who had to stay at home, without working and not being able to earn a dime for days. They probably didn’t lose their roofs or their walls, but they lose the services that make those roofs and walls habitable.

Irma showed us that a couple of hours are enough to change the lives of whole cities for months. Irma showed us that we have to be humble before mother nature.

Memory is fragile, but it’s important that we keep these lessons alive and in mind.

 

The importance of friends as we age

At the end of the day, only the good ones, those who really care, those who know us best, are the ones that will stay. Friends are more than just company because now we know that as we age, they become an important part of our happiness equation.

It’s not like we didn’t know the relevance of good friends for every human being, but now there is new research that proves that the friends we keep as we age, will actually have a great impact on our health, and as consequence, in our happiness.

But, how is it that friends could play a bigger role in our wellness than family? Experts say that there are different factors and explanations.

We can start with the obvious reason. Friends are chosen people in our lives, while family members are not an option. It means that you choose people who you find an identity to, people who make you feel good,  and who you can trust.

While friends are only the people you decide to allow in your circle, it means that you have good times with them, you build positive memories around them and it grants you a wellness feeling. On the other hand, family relationships could be monotonous and intense. You can’t just leave or forget about your family, but the friends that are not your perfect fit, the superficial ones, or the ones who are there only to bring drama to your life, are usually left behind to let space only for the good ones.

So, is not crazy to hear now that as a natural reaction, older people tend to trust more their friends and very close family members, like a spouse or children, than any other family members, and is not crazy at all to know that they declare themselves happy and healthy people.

The research about this topic included chronic health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and arthritis, and the specialists found that friendships had an impact on senior health levels related with this conditions. In conclusion, if you have good friends, cultivate those relationships, value them and remember that they could be your main support at the end of this road called life.

How’s Your Life Through Social Media?

It’s #SMDay!

Happy Social Media Day! Yes, there is a commemorative day for that. Actually, it’s a global celebration that today completes 8 years. If you think about it, is not crazy. After all, we basically live in two worlds simultaneously: the real one, and the virtual one. The virtual world is the one that helps us to escape from the real one and is a mix of social media platforms.

Thanks to social media we have our loved ones and life friends within the reach of a click. We know now what happened to old classmates we never saw again. We know who’s marrying, divorcing, having babies, dying or welcoming a new life era into this crazy world.

But social media is responsible also for the lack of personal communication between us and the people who live under our own roof. Social media is keeping us far away from our kids, our partners, our parents, and our siblings. A conversation is almost a rarity during a family meal because everybody is busy posting and eating…in that order.

Social media is the heart of the communication around the globe and there is nothing we can do to stop its accelerated and overwhelming growth. What we can do is to be conscious about its use and abuse. There is no reason why we can’t enjoy the benefits of social media and its speed, its immediate effects and its incredible flexibility to find or post content.

Every day is a learning process. Social media offers updates, tools, and developments made to facilitate our lives, not to hinder our interpersonal relationships. Itś in our hands, literally!

We carry the world in our hands, we can connect with whoever we want with a simple click, but we can also use those wonderful technological benefits only when we really need so.

Every app, every platform, and every site are there, always! We make the decision to use them or not, and how.

Let’s celebrate these great tools that modern times and technology are giving us thinking about the relationship we have with social media. We can commemorate this anniversary evaluating how healthy or not is our link to those platforms.

It is #SMDay and we can make it bigger and more important for our own sake. Again, it’s in our hands.

Telemedicine and Virtual Doctors

Do you remember when doctors were called by patients and they would actually do a home visit? Many years ago doctors were more like a family member, but times have changed.

We are living in a different era, one where a shortage of doctors is a national problem, and one where technology has become a daily helper for almost everybody, even for those who can’t visit the doctor or those who can’t go to an emergency room. Thanks to technology we are going back to the concept of having the doctor at home, but now, virtually.

Telemedicine is a reality and is an increasing practice in our country. Is not only that we don’t have enough primary care and some specialist doctors, but also that one-quarter of the population lives in rural areas where access to healthcare could be not only difficult but sometimes impossible.

So, we are talking about more than 10 million people using every year the services or virtual doctors. And by virtual doctors, we mean video chats, and video conferences with a physician using a smartphone, a computer or a tablet. Yes! Real-time conversations with doctors without the waiting room and the time that it involves.

Of course, there are certain limitations. Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, is perfect for monitoring chronic conditions or situations, or for minor issues’ diagnosis and prescription. It’s so popular and useful that now some health insurance companies are offering telehealth as part of their portfolio of services and plans.

Different studies have shown the benefits provided by this practice, especially in older adults, people with serious conditions limiting their mobility, patients with mental health problems, and residents of rural areas.

If you think that Telehealth or Telemedicine could help you, consult your health insurance company and ask about it.

The future is here to bring us a benefit from the past, have your doctor at home.

Support and Service Animals, What You Need to Know

They are loyal, unconditional, always happy to see us, never mad at us. Pets are without a doubt the most pure love we can find, only after the one between parents and children. A pet won’t expect from you nothing more than love and care.

Over time we have discovered that dogs, for example, are great for kids and sick people. Now some dogs are not only allowed, but required to be present at certain hospitals where they can offer that unique love to lonely, depressed or very specific patients. They are considered Therapy Animals and they need to have obedience training. Their primary purpose is to provide affection and comfort to people in hospices, disaster areas, hospitals, nursing homes, or retirement homes. They are great also for patients with learning disabilities.

Now, Service Animals, just like those who are a guide for blind people or patients with other physical conditions are dogs, or in some cases miniature horses, trained to perform major tasks to assist people with physical disabilities. In order to be a service animal, they have to be certified on their training, and those who qualify to have a Service Animal are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Now, there are patients who suffer from other kind of conditions like phobias, anxiety, depression, or stress due to a specific situation. They might find relief having an animal by their side. In this case, they could qualify to have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), and usually, they are dogs, cats or other animals that are not required to be trained to perform a specific task. However, in order to have an ESA, the animal has to be prescribed for a person by a licensed therapist, like a mental health professional, in a formal letter that should state the need of the animal for the treatment of that person.

ESAs are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act  and the Fair Housing Amendments. Those laws protect an emotionally disabled person and his or her Emotional Support Animal. However, and different from the Service Animals, other businesses, places or institutions, like restaurants, hotels or stores are not obligated by law to admit your ESA.

While we have seen an increase on the number of Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals, it is important to understand the difference between those categories and over all, the importance and seriousness of their role in someone’s life. If you believe you may qualify to have a Service Animal or an Emotional Support Animal, talk to you physician and ask all the questions you need.