Colon Cancer Prevention

In light of actress Kirstie Alley’s recent death from colon cancer, the topic of screenings and cancer prevention has come to the light again. Approximately 1 in 25 women in the United States will be diagnosed with colon cancer during their lifetimes, and screenings truly can save lives.

What should you do? The American Cancer Society has recommendations that all adults 45 and over get regular colon cancer screenings. These can be either stool analyses or colonoscopies, based on what your doctor recommends in your individual situation.

Of course, should you have any symptoms, you should immediately get things checked out with a doctor. Symptoms can include changes in bowel movements, rectal bleeding, dark stools, unexpected weight loss or extra fatigue. The symptoms often only appear after the cancer has already spread, so the preemptive screenings are incredibly important.

In addition, if you have a family history of colon cancer, you should start screenings 10 years before your youngest relative with cancer was diagnosed.

Tips for Great Sleep When Bed Sharing

There are a lot of compromises that come with being married, or living with a loved one. One of those compromises shouldn’t be sleep. It’s vitally important that you get a great night sleep to be able to function throughout the day and to maintain your health. But what are you to do if your partner snores? moves around a lot? talks in their sleep? steals the covers?

This article does a great job breaking down the many challenges to sleeping with a partner. The main solution they come up with in the end is that you may, simply, need to have separate beds (or even separate rooms). But before taking that drastic step, and after reading the article, there are some other solutions to consider.

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  1. Separate bedding: No one says that you have to share a comforter just because you’re now sharing a bed. Many sleep issues for couples may actually be solved by buying more sheets and more comforters. Give yourselves the space you need in the bed to curl up, flop around, and throw off those covers without it ruining your partner’s sleep.
  2. Sleep machines: If snoring or other noise issues are the problem, it might be worth turning on some music or white noise at night. These sounds can drown out the other, more distracting noises, and can allow you to focus on these new and pleasant sounds.
  3. Insomnia: If it’s an issue of insomnia, try to take a warm shower before bed and drink some decaffeinated tea or some warm milk before bed. Make sure not to exercise within a few hours of going to sleep, as this raises your endorphins and makes it harder to fall asleep.

Certainly, if these and other suggestions don’t work for you, it may be time to take drastic measures. Here’s to a good night sleep for all of us!

Holiday Fun Even From Home

Whether for financial reasons, health worries, or other considerations, it’s nice to have options that are close to home for the holidays. Keep in mind that there are fun ways to enjoy yourself with family and friends, even if you don’t have the money or time for expensive travel. You can enjoy yourself right in your own neighborhood and area. Here are a few suggestions for getting the most out of your staycation.

  1. Television shows and movies: There is so much to watch these days with the availability of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney and more. Snuggle up together on the couch and watch some great shows. One show that it really mesmerizing and that can get you into the holiday spirit is Blown Away: Christmas. See the trailer below and get in the holiday spirit with this lovely show.
  2. Games: There are so many games on the market today that can enable a family to interact, laugh and compete. Go to any toy store (or shop online) and you’ll see selections like Monopoly, Perpetual Commotion, Jungle Speed and so many others.
  3. Local events: Check with your local community center, YMCA, or religious institution to see what community events are taking place right in your area. You don’t have to travel far to enjoy a tree lighting ceremony, a Chanukah party, or another event. You can find many non-demoninational events as well and even plays and musicals that aren’t expensive.

Here is a sneak-peak at Blown Away: Christmas. Enjoy your holidays at home this year!

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An Unusual Window Into the Ancient World…

Most of us probably don’t grow up declaring that we want to study ancient poop when we get older. But it’s a good thing that some people do actually end up making this their life’s work. Ancient poop – called Paleofeces – has given us a window into the ancient world and can show us what people used to eat, how they found their food, what types of bacteria they encountered and more.

Recently, researchers from the Natural History Museum in Vienna, led by Kerstin Kowarik, have been studying paleofeces found in salt mines of the Hallstattt-Dachstein UNESCO World Heritage area in western Austria. They have found two specific fungal species. These species indicate that people ate both blue cheese and beer during the Iron Age in Europe.

Their findings allowed for some important observations. It allows us to understand more about fermentation during this time period and that people were already working on food preservation then. It also shows that blue cheese was already being produced 2700 years ago.

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Sotheby’s Highlights Black Jewelry Designers

Sotheby’s recently had a show in New York that was groundbreaking, as it was dedicated to the skill and brilliance of 21 black jewelry designers from around the world. The works were on display from September 17-26 and was called Brilliant & Black: A Jewelry Renaissance.

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Sotheby’s has a beautiful web page dedicated to highlighting the works and backgrounds of each of these artists. It offers feasts for the eyes and also inspirational stories of how these artists got to where they are today.

See more from this coverage on CNN as well.

Stress-Busters and Warning Signs

We all feel stress at certain times in our lives, of course. The question is if your level of stress is normal, or if it has seeped into anxiety or depression. Typically, if stress resolves after a triggering situation and you can go back to functioning at your regular level, then the stress is probably normal. If, however, the worry permeates beyond the stressor and infringes upon your ability to function, you may be experiencing anxiety. And if the worry turns to sadness that you can’t seem to life, then you might be experiencing depression.

Certainly, if you feel that you are at the point of having debilitating anxiety or depression, it might be time to seek help. You can ask your health care provider for the name of a psychologist or therapist who might begin to assist you. You can also ask friends and relatives for suggestions of anyone with whom they might have worked for their recommendations.

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While seeing help, you may also want to try some stress-relieving techniques. This could include mindful meditation, aerobic exercise, breathing techniques and more. You can find many stress relieving techniques online, most of which have the goal of turning off your mind and having you focus in the here and now.

Recognizing that these are stressful times and that many people are having trouble can also be helpful. Reach out to others and share your concerns and worries. You may think you’re alone, or you’re the only one who feels as you do; but you may be surprised to realize just how many other people share your worries and concerns.