May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to start or continue good skin health habits to protect yourself against skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. This adds up to at least one in five Americans developing cancer by the age of 70.
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. More Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined.
Sun protection is a great and easy way to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), everyone should take the following steps to protect themselves from the sun’s damaging rays:
– Seek shade when appropriate. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
– Wear clothing with built-in sun protection, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats, and sunglasses. Look for clothing with a UPF label.
– Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 or higher, even on cloudy days. Most adults need about an ounce, enough to fill a shot glass. Reapply about every two hours.
– Never use tanning beds.
– Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand.
What to look for
The AAD also encourages regular skin checks. Brigham Health Hub recommends self-skin checks using the ABCDE rule:
A: Asymmetry (the two halves look different).
B: Borders (irregular or poorly defined edges).
C: Color (dark black or multiple colors).
D: Diameter of greater than six millimeters, or about the size of a pencil eraser.
E: Evolving size, shape, or color.
If you see any suspicious spots, talk to your doctor right away. See a dermatologist regularly for preventative skin checks.
How to prevent digital eye strain
If you’re experiencing dry eyes, headaches, or blurry vision, digital eye strain may be to blame. Here are five things that can help alleviate the effects of frequently looking at your computer, tablet, or phone screen.
1. Follow the 20/20/20 rule
Look up from your screen every 20 minutes and focus on something approximately 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This short break will give your eyes the needed rest to relax, refocus and reset.
2. Change your settings
If your job makes it impossible to avoid looking at a screen all day, try using a larger font size. Additionally, you can increase the contrast, sharpness, and brightness of your screen.
3. Adjust the lighting
Glare from the sun or overhead lights can cause your eyes to work overtime. Try dimming the lights in the room, closing the blinds, or installing an anti-glare filter.
4. Improve your posture
Bad posture can intensify digital eye strain. Avoid slumping over, craning your neck, or looking down at your screen for long periods of time.
5. Schedule regular eye exams
An optometrist can ensure that your uncorrected vision problems are addressed. Plus, they can provide professional advice on how to keep your eyes healthy.
Though digital eye strain is unlikely to lead to permanent damage, it can be uncomfortable. Taking precautions will help minimize difficulties with your vision and eye health.
Naps by duration: what you should know
Do you have days when it feels like a nap is just what you need to restore your energy and boost your mood? While a quick rest can provide these benefits, napping for the right amount of time is key. Here’s what you should know.
Five to 10 minutes
The brief moment of relaxation offered by a nap of this duration can slightly improve your attention span. Even just closing your eyes and breathing deeply for a few minutes can help reduce stress.
10 to 20 minutes
This is widely considered the ideal amount of time for a nap. It’ll leave you feeling refreshed and more alert, which can improve your concentration and productivity. To ensure this nap is restorative, set an alarm to prevent you from sleeping for too long.
A nap of this duration can actually make you feel more tired. Your body has enough time to enter a deep sleep but not enough to complete a full sleep cycle. This causes sleep inertia, which can leave you feeling sluggish and groggy for up to an hour after you wake up.
Although an hour-long nap can leave you feeling drowsy when you wake up, it can also enhance your performance of memory-related tasks. Additionally, it may provide you with enough deep sleep to boost your capacity to learn.
Since you have time to complete a full sleep cycle, a nap of this duration is easier to wake up from than a 30- or 60-minute one. It promotes creativity, alertness, memory, and concentration. While not recommended for people with insomnia, a 90-minute nap can help make up for a short or sleepless night.
If you have trouble sleeping or often feel exhausted, speak with your doctor right away. This will help you avoid the onset of related health problems.
4 apps to track your menstrual cycle
Are you looking for a simple way to keep track of your period? If you want to know when you’re ovulating or avoid being caught off guard without a tampon, here are four useful applications that might be right for you.
This app uses daily reminders to help track your menstrual cycle and provides science-based predictions about your next period and fertility window. You can also use the app to track information such as your sleep schedule and PMS symptoms to better understand how your body works. Available for Android and iOS.
In addition to tracking your menstrual cycle, this app offers ovulation predictions, a comprehensive pregnancy guide, and resources on a wide range of topics such as sleep, nutrition, and skincare. You also have the option to receive reminders to take your birth control pill. Available for Android and iOS.
3. Menstrual Period Tracker
This minimalist app by Efrac uses a standard calendar format to record your menstrual cycle history, make predictions about your periods and track up to four symptoms. You can also add notes about your flow, birth control, and mood. Available for iOS.
More than just a period tracker, this app allows you to log PMS symptoms and chart your fertility. You’ll also have access to reproductive health resources and an online forum. Additionally, this inclusive platform provides information and support for trans men who have a menstrual cycle. Available for Android and iOS.
Regardless of which app you use, there are numerous benefits to keeping an accurate record of your menstrual cycle. Among other things, you can gain a better understanding of your body’s patterns as well as your mood, sex drive, fertility, and overall health.
Too good to be true: Choosing the most effective sunscreens
Beauty fanatics called it a holy grail product HG for short. It layered beautifully under makeup, moisturized the skin, and didn’t cause acne breakouts. And according to Vogue Magazine, the manufacturer self-reported an unbelievable SPF of 84.5. The product was a South Korean sunscreen, Centella Green Level Unscented Sun SPF50+, by South Korean cosmetics company Purito.
The product rode the wave of popularity recently enjoyed by Korean beauty products in the United States to become a beloved favorite among social media influencers.
But there was a catch. It turned out that instead of SPF 84.5, the sunscreen was no higher than SPF 19, according to Cosmetics Business. And according to New York Magazine, overstated SPF levels is not new or uncommon. One Consumer Reports study found that 36 out of 53 sunscreens tested failed to live up to their SPF promises.
So all of this begs the question: How do consumers identify products they can trust to protect the health of their skin?
According to New York Magazine, the best way to ensure that sunscreen works the way you think it will protect your skin is to make sure it’s FDA-approved. To do that, look up the product’s name or NDC number (a ten-digit code) on NDClist.com. Inclusion on this list verifies that the manufacturer has conducted FDA-compliant testing.
You can also simply look at the label. Every sunscreen should be labeled with a drug facts box that lists the active ingredients and percentages. As cosmetic chemist David Petrillo told New York Magazine, one easy way to pick the best protection between two sunscreens with the same SPF is to choose the formula with the higher percentages of active ingredients.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, everyone should use sunscreens that offer broad-spectrum protection with SPF 30 or higher. Water-resistance is also recommended.
How to connect with your emotions
The fast pace of daily life can make it easy to brush feelings aside rather than reflect on them. And yet, the process of connecting with your emotions is crucial to your mental well-being. Here’s some advice that can help you get in touch with your feelings.
Learn to accept them
It’s important not to distract yourself from difficult emotions. Instead, you should aim to become more at ease with them. If you want to learn to accept your feelings, both positive and negative, you need to find a way to embrace rather than resist your emotions.
Identify them with words
Pay attention to your body and attempt to identify how you feel physically and mentally. Is there tightness in your throat, tension in your temples, or heaviness in your gut? Are you feeling angry, anxious, or sad? Putting your emotions into words, out loud or in a journal, will allow you to better understand them.
Recognize their impermanence
Accepting your emotions isn’t the same thing as resigning yourself to them. Remember that all feelings are temporary, and even the most powerful emotions will fade with time.
If you’re struggling with your emotions, keep in mind that speaking with a friend, family member or mental health professional can help you sort through them.
Can eating berries improve your memory?
Berries are a great source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, and several other nutrients. But did you know they may also support memory function? Here’s a look at how berries can give your brain a boost.
The role of polyphenols
For years, researchers around the world have been exploring whether the consumption of certain fruits can help prevent memory loss and other types of cognitive decline associated with aging. Several studies indicate that polyphenols, a micronutrient found in plant-based foods such as blueberries and grapes, might be the key. While more research is needed, it seems that polyphenols may improve long-term memory function and help delay age-related cognitive decline.
Which fruits to favor
In addition to being present in blueberries and grapes, polyphenols can be found in black currants, elderberries, strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, and more. To reap the benefits of berries, enjoy them fresh, frozen, or dried. Eat them as a snack, add them to a meal or drink them in a smoothie. Alternatively, you can opt to take a berry extract supplement, but be sure to consult your doctor beforehand.
To learn more about the health benefits of berries and other foods, book an appointment with a dietitian in your area.