Knowledge is key to a Healthy Life

This entry is part 12 in the series Improve Your Life, Improve Your Mind

Originally published as part of the A to Z challenge on 12 April 2018

The A to Z  challenge is over:

But the value of the posts is not. My theme for the challenge was “Improve your life, Improve your mind.” Nowhere is this topic more relevant than when you’re facing a huge challenge in your life like retirement, marital problems, health problems in your family, and especially cancer!

For that reason, it’s my intention to revisit each of the posts and invite folk who didn’t read them at the time to visit them now. And if you did read them before, if you were reading at the speed I did during the month, chances are you will find new thoughts to encourage you.

Please add your comments and share the posts on social media.

The purpose of Rise and Soar with its associated blog is to inspire and encourage those in the cancer valley, whether as patients, survivors, caregivers, family or friends. Please note that it is not a health site. It is meant to encourage folk. When I tackled the A to Z challenge I reasoned that these posts should apply to everyone who cares about what is happening to their bodies, be it through age or through cancer.

I plan to post one “letter” a week only, and will commence with those who saw the least amount of attention during April. Once the official Road Trip commences I will link to that.

So for this week, let’s look at 

Knowledge, the key to a healthy life.

Here are three easy ways to gain knowledge on most topics:

read more

Is Variety Really the Spice of Life?

This entry is part 23 in the series Improve Your Life, Improve Your Mind

This post was originally written for the A to Z Blogging Challenge (April 25 2018). Because I did the challenge on this, my 2nd (niche) website, Rise and Soar, I want to keep up the momentum on the site without constantly having to come up with new posts. 

Rise and Soar

Rise and Soar is a website with a blog, that I broke away from my main website, Write to Inspire, years ago, to concentrate on inspiring and encouraging those in the cancer valley, whether as patients, survivors, caregivers, family or friends. 

However, it was never meant to be a health site. It is meant to encourage folk. When I tackled the A to Z challenge I reasoned that these posts should apply to everyone who cares about what is happening to their bodies, be it through age or through cancer. 

Now the challenge is over:

Now the challenge is over, it’s my intention to revisit each of the posts and invite folk who didn’t read them at the time to visit them now. And if you did read them before, if you were reading at the speed I did during the month, chances are you will find new thoughts to  encourage you.

Please add your comments and share the posts on social media. 

I plan to post one “letter” a week only, and will commence with those who saw the least amount of attention during April. Once the official Road Trip commences I will link to that.

For this week, I invite you to explore with me the saying, Variety is the Spice of Life. Is this true? 

When routine is broken:

Some people will try and tell you that variety is the opposite to routine, and routine is important to keep life turning over. read more

A to Z 2018 Blogging Challenge List of Series

This entry is part 27 in the series Improve Your Life, Improve Your Mind

Theme for the month: Improve your Life, Improve Your Mind.

 

  • Theme Reveal: About the theme, Improve your Life, Improve your Mind.
  • A for Age. Read about how you can cut back on mental deterioration as you get older.
  • B for Brains. See how you can best improve the brain you have.
  • C for Care for and love your body and brain. Where are you falling short? How can you improve?
  • D for Dopamine. What does this do for you? And how can you counteract a shortage?
  • E for Exercise and how you can use it to improve your body and your mind.
  • F for Fitbit which has certainly turned my life around!
  • G for Genetics  which can be a death sentence or a wake up call for you. Which do you choose?
  • H for Hearing Loss. How good is your hearing? See how you can improve your hearing, your life and your mind.
  • I for Inflammation, Immunity and Infection and how you can avoid or deal with them.
  • J for Journal and ways you can use this to improve your life and your mind. 
  • K for Knowledge about ways to improve your life and improve your mind. 
  • L for Learn Something New every day and some suggestions how you can do this.
  • M for Music and ways it can improve your life and your mind. Fascinating study!

Then moving on through the alphabet:

  • N for Nourish your life which will in turn nourish your mind.
  • O for Opportunities! Life is full of them. Look out for ways to improve your life and mind.
  • P for Persevere if you genuinely want to improve your health and mind.
  • Q for Quiet and ways to find this necessary commodity in our lives.
  • R for Retirement – coming soon to a home near you! How to get the most out of it. 
  • S for Stress and the importance of handling it right. 
  • T for Thankfulness which can give you an attitude of gratitude and improve your life and mind.
  • U for Understanding  how important it is to look for ways to improve your life and your mind.
  • V for Variety, the spice of your life, and how to add this seasoning to improve your life and mind.
  • W for Water, it’s pros, its cons, and how to get the most out of it.
  • X for Xerosis, that pesky skin disorder most of us get at some point in time, and how to deal with it.
  • Y – now say YES! to going through these again next month and selecting the ones you’re going to tackle first!
  • Z is for Zipa-dee-doo-dah It’s over! And I’ve survived. Wonderful feeling! Wonderful day!

Zip-a-dee-deo-dah! Let’s Improve your Life, Improve your Mind #atoz

This entry is part 29 in the series Improve Your Life, Improve Your Mind

And so we’ve come to the end of the

2018 A to Z Blogging Challenge.

My theme for the month of April has been Improve your Life, Improve your Mind. Have you enjoyed it? More importantly, have you benefited from the topics covered? I  want you to have a happy approach  to life.

My goal was to convince you (and me) that just because we’re getting older, or we’ve been dealt a bad hand genetically, does not mean we have to give up and have a miserable life. Yes, cells degenerate and bodies grow older. Minds take in so much information over an average number of years it’s no wonder why some information falls off the edge and we  find ourselves forgetting some memories. 

But here’s the happy news!

Where we can’t prevent ourselves getting older in years, many degenerative  situations can be either avoided, or even reverted. The key is to  be sure of our diagnosis first. So your memory isn’t what it used to be? Are you sure it’s because you’re growing old?  Do  you  fear you’re getting Alzheimer’s, because after all, it runs in the family? Well, maybe there’s nothing wrong with your mind. It may be another problem, one that can be rectified.

Maybe you can’t walk without puffing and gasping for breath. Who says that’s because you’re old? Maybe you have a heart defect that can be put right,  or maybe you’re  eating the wrong foods. 

Perhaps you’ve developed a tremor and you’re terrified you have Parkinson’s. It could be that you have a shortage of dopamine or an over-active thyroid, both of which can be rectified.  Maybe you’re dizzy, have low blood pressure, and feel really ill. You know you’ve got something  terminal. Maybe. But maybe you just need to drink more water! 

Not every sign of getting old is an irreversible issue. It could be something totally treatable. Be sure of your facts before you write yourself off as old or ill. #atoz Click To Tweet

That’s all I’ve been trying  to  tell you this  month.  Get to know your body and your mind. Make the best of your life you can . . . and be happy! Sing along with this song that sums up the whole theme and  conveniently begins with Z!

Have a wonderful day, and a wonderful life.

If you’ve missed any of these posts or want to read one again, here is a full list of all of them.

Yes! Using this word to Improve your Life, Improve your Mind

This entry is part 26 in the series Improve Your Life, Improve Your Mind

We’re always being told that we need to learn to say No! Or is it just me? Certainly, coming up to the month of April it’s a word I needed to say a lot more than I did! “No! I can’t do that. I’m already over-committed!” But I didn’t. And I had a crazy month. 

But guess what? As I’ve been thinking about how to really calm my schedule down a bit, it occurred to me that I also need to learn to say “Yes!” I’m hearing the need to say “No” so often that I automatically turn down things that actually could be fun or would do me good. Things that would improve my life, improve my mind! read more

Xerosis and how to Improve your Life, Improve your Mind #atoz

This entry is part 25 in the series Improve Your Life, Improve Your Mind

X is always one of the biggest challenges in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, and this year was no exception. Then I found out I had Xerosis Cutis! Problem solved, at least as far as the A to Z is concerned!

What is Xerosis Cutis?

Xerosis cutis is the medical term for abnormally dry skin. The name comes from the Greek word “xero,” which means dry. This affects the skin, the eyes, and mucous membranes.

We have probably all, at some time or other, suffered from dry skin, especially if we’re in the older category. It’s usually a minor and temporary problem, but it can be extremely uncomfortable. Your skin needs to stay moist if it’s going to be smooth. If it loses water and oils, it becomes dry and rough.

Xerosis may appear as dry, rough, flaky or scaly patches, perhaps even with skin cracks. In people with darker skin, xerosis may appear ashy in appearance.

Causes of Xerosis Cutis:

Dry skin is usually triggered by environmental factors. Here are some of the activities or conditions which may cause Xerosis.

  • Cold weather especially with cold, dry winters.
  • Living in areas of low humidity.
  • Extremely hot weather.
  • Use of central heaters at home or work.
  • Too frequent baths.
  • Using harsh soaps.
  • Scrubbing the skin.
  • Too hot water when bathing or showering.
  • Too vigorous towel-drying.
  • Dehydration from not drinking enough water. (See Water in the previous post.)
  • Over-exposure to the sun.
  • People older than 65 are more likely to develop the condition due to hormonal changes.
  • Diabetics are at risk, so older people with diabetes are very likely to develop xerosis cutis.
  • Certain medications such as diuretics can cause xerosis. Check with your pharmacist.
  • Some diseases have dry skin as part of their symptoms. e.g. Atopic Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Thyroid imbalance, and Diabetes.
Do you have Xerosis Cutis? There are many causes, and just as many ways to help avoid it. X is for Xerosis Cutis. Please RT! Thank you. #atoz Click To Tweet

Symptoms of Xerosis

  • Skin becomes dry, itchy, and scaly.
    • This is especially on the arms and legs but may be only small patches. Mine is just one patch about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide on my leg, but it drives me crazy!
  • white, flaky skin, especially in folk with darker skin.
  • red or pink irritated skin.
  • tight skin, especially after bath or shower.
  • fine cracks appear on the skin.
  • dry itchy eyes, when the glands in the conjunctiva no longer function normally.
    • This causes a loss of tears and mucous.
    • It can, strangely, also cause a wet discharge from the eyes.
  • itchy dry mucous membranes elsewhere in the body.
Some ways to try and sort out that irritating itch that's driving you crazy! X is for Xerosis Cutis. #atoz. Please RT. Thanks. Click To Tweet

Care at home

  • Use an oil-based cream to hold in moisture.
  • Look for creams containing lactic acid, urea, or both.
  • A 1% hydrocortisone cream may help if the skin is very itchy. Ask your pharmacist for advice.
  • Note that water-based lotions may irritate xerosis cutis. Lotions contain less oil than cream.
  • Avoid sitting in front of heaters or using hot pads in bed.
  • Take lukewarm baths or showers.
  • Drink plenty water (see previous post).
  • Coconut oil may help hold in moisture and relieve itching.
  • Aloe Vera is not recommended as it may make the skin more sensitive.
  • Use mild cleansers that have no fragrance or alcohol.
  • Pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it with a towel.
  • Apply skin moisturizer immediately after getting out of your bath or shower.
    • I was told to put the cream on while still wet, then dab dry. This really helped.
  • Avoid scratching. (Not so easy. Apply an anti-itch cream whenever necessary.)
  • If needed, use a humidifier in your home.
  • Apply sunscreen regularly when going outdoors.
  • Avoid wearing nylon. Cotton fabrics allow your skin to breath.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily unless you have a medical condition.
  • Use gloves when washing dishes.
  • Wash your clothes in a detergent without dyes or perfumes.
  • Petrolatum or petroleum jelly (Vaseline®) can be applied frequently and often brings relief.
  • Use hand cream every time you wash your hands.
  • Apply a good moisturizing cream to your face first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

When to see the doctor

  • If cracks break open, they may develop a bacterial infection.
  • You may have a fungal or bacterial infection, an allergy, or another skin condition. Excessive scratching of dry skin can also lead to an infection.
  • Your skin starts to ooze.
  • Large areas of skin start to peel.
  • You develop a ring-shaped rash.
  • Your skin doesn’t improve with your own home treatment within a few weeks.
  • If your skin gets much worse or the problem spreads despite treatment.
  • At the sign of blisters or very hard scaly patches of skin. You may be developing Eczema.
  • Any signs of infection.
  • If there’s no response after seven days of treatment (if you’ve been caring for it regularly.)

This has been more of a medical article than my usual, but I believe it is important. If you develop Xerosis cutitis it can make your life most unpleasant. It can also prevent your mind from functioning well as there’s nothing worse than an aggravating itch that won’t go away! Even if you do not have any of these problems, start to look after your skin now. It is one of these problems that will catch up with you sooner or later if you don’t take adequate precautions.

Only two more posts to go in this A to Z series, and both of them are going to be fun and encouraging. So make sure you read Y is for Yes! And Z is for Zipa-dee-doo-dah! over the next two days.

Water and how to make sure it improves your life, improves your mind

This entry is part 24 in the series Improve Your Life, Improve Your Mind

And so we’re into the countdown to the end of the 2018 A to Z Blogging Challenge Drinking water, and we’ve come to W. Today we’re looking at the topic, W for Water. How much water should we drink? Is it possible to drink too much? What are the pros of drinking water? And what are the cons? And yes, believe it or not, there are cons.

Have you ever thought of the fact that water is the only drink on the planet where we are told how much we should drink? Interesting, and that alone should tell us a good deal about its importance.

Read on to find out how to benefit most from this extremely useful drink as well as how to avoid the dangers. read more

Understanding your Goal to Improve your life, Improve your Mind

This entry is part 22 in the series Improve Your Life, Improve Your Mind

We’re into the last week of the A to Z Blogging Challenge for 2018. As we enter into the last letters, we look at U, V, W, X, Y, and Z. The most difficult letters to come up with good titles.

It’s at times like this we ask ourselves the question, Why?

Why do we set aside 26 days of our lives to write about a topic which  may or may not be of interest to others, or ultimately even to ourselves?

And so today, I’m asking myself that question. Why have I dedicated what was already a crazy month in my life to writing on this particular topic? Improve your Life, Improve Your Mind?

read more

Thankfulness can Improve your life, Improve your Mind #atoz

This entry is part 21 in the series Improve Your Life, Improve Your Mind

Today, we reach the letter T in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. In the theme, Improve your Life, Improve your Mind, I’ve chosen T for Thankfulness

There is much that can be said for thankfulness and I’m not sure any of it is bad.  So much so that I’ve set myself a year-long challenge to keep recording thanks—2018 thanks in the year 2018 in fact. In order to get to 2018, I need to record 39 thanks per Thursday under the topic, Thankful Thursday. Although this has been somewhat difficult to keep up with during the A to Z challenge, I’m still on target, although there may be some necessary catch-up over the next couple of weeks.

read more

Retirement and how to Improve your Life, Improve your Mind #atoz

This entry is part 19 in the series Improve Your Life, Improve Your Mind

R is for Retirement.

Dreams of an idyllic lifestyle of relaxation and happiness suddenly evaporate unless you take certain precautions.

For me, retirement was something old people did. So when the time arrived for my husband to retire from full-time ministry, it was a challenging time for me. Although I no longer nursed, I still wrote, and I didn’t feel ready to stop that. So I have never actually retired.

After my husband retired, we moved to a retirement village in Port Elizabeth, a beautiful seaside city on the coast of South Africa. I looked forward to the time with mixed feelings. Would we now get old, because we were no longer earning an income?  How would we cope doing nothing?

Well, of course, given our personalities, that didn’t happen. We are as busy as ever. The great thing about retirement is you can say no! You are no longer under obligation to meet the demands of a busy company or boss.

Beware of these temptations: 

However, I soon realized there were certain dangers to watch out for if we  wanted to stay well physically as well as mentally.

  • There was no sense of commitment to a bigger cause. We were no longer working long hours so could lie in and become lazy and inactive.
  • The risk of living in isolation. We had never lived in Port Elizabeth. Although we had family within a few years they had all passed on (despite two of them being younger than us). So the risk of being  cut off from social interaction was real.
  • The temptation to no longer learn new things. Apart from challenges like learning to live on a pension, what else was there to learn? I have seen countless retired people fall into this trap. They sit with their newspaper, perhaps at least doing the crossword, or they take up bridge. But what are they learning?

There are so many ways to help improve your life, improve your mind, during retirement. Read more here:#atoz Click To TweetTips for a beneficial retirement:

Here are nine ways to ensure your time in retirement is beneficial and your life and mind both stay active as long as possible. Many of them have already been discussed in this series.

  1. Build a social network of friends (offline) with whom you can enjoy fellowship.  

  2. Join a church or another organization you believe in and get involved.

  3. Nourish your body through eating well including antioxidant-rich foods.

  4. Avoid regular braaiss (barbecue) or charred meat.

  5. Boost your diet with a good multivitamin/mineral and if necessary additional vitamin D and omega 3.

  6. Exercise plenty and get sufficient sleep.

  7. Allow at least 12 hours between the last meal of the day and breakfast.

  8. Keep learning. Teach yourself a new musical instrument or a new language. Learn chess or take up model building. 

  9. Have an annual checkup and ask your doctor to monitor your blood levels.