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Personal Health
May 31, 2024

Understanding men's mental health: breaking the stigma

5 minutes

Societal stigma and fear of judgment can make it tough for men to discuss mental health. Here, we're tackling the topic together.

In 2021, it was estimated that nearly 20% of men were living with a mental illness. In the same year, 82% of men reported dealing with extreme stress, and 73% reported experiencing anxiety. If you're a man living with a mental health issue, you may feel like you're alone, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Men's health is often ignored due to stigma and societal conditioning. While the tides are slowly turning, many men still feel uncomfortable discussing mental health issues, reporting embarrassment and negative stigma as the reasons they're hesitant to reach out. While talking about mental health can take courage, it's essential that men in crisis seek help. In 2021, deaths by suicide were four times higher in males than in females.

Here, we'll explore the steps that you can take to protect your mental health, as well as how you can get the care you need if you're struggling.

An important note: if you're having thoughts about hurting yourself or someone else, or if you're dealing with a crisis or emergency, call or text 988 to connect with a mental health professional who can support you.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety

Sometimes, it can be hard to recognize the signs of mental health distress in men.

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Clenched jaw and/or grinding teeth
  • Pounding heart and/or high blood pressure
  • Indigestion, stomach cramps, constipation, diarrhea
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • Chest pain, pounding heart, and/or high blood pressure

Psychological symptoms may include:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Increased substance use
  • Decreased anger control
  • Changes in relationships
  • Withdrawal
  • Sadness and crying

The role of healthy habits in mental health management

Incorporating healthy behaviors into your day-to-day life can go a long way in supporting your mental health. If you've been feeling overwhelmed, or you've fallen off of using healthy habits to manage your stress levels, it can feel like a struggle to get back into the habits that help you feel your best. Thankfully, adding just one or two healthy habits to your daily routine can support your mental health.

Stress management techniques: mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation exercises

Taking just a few minutes each day to incorporate stress management techniques can help you keep your cool throughout the day, no matter what life brings your way. Paying attention to your surroundings can help you practice mindfulness. Simply put away your phone and take a few moments to notice what's happening in the world around you. Using meditation apps and other relaxation tools can also help you stay centered despite stressors that occur in your day.

Exercise and physical activity: boosting mood and reducing anxiety

Exercise can work wonders when it comes to stress relief. Using a tracker on your phone can be a great way to keep an eye on your physical health, and to notice how your stress levels shift depending on your activity. The positive effects of exercise aren't in your head—research shows that physical activity works to stimulate chemicals in your brain that reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.

Nutrition and diet: fueling the mind and body for mental wellness

When you eat in a way that fuels your body, you get the energy that's necessary to cope with difficult emotions, including stress, according to Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Adding omega-3 fats (such as those found in seafood) and loading up on veggies can help to regulate your body's levels of cortisol (a stress hormone).

Sleep hygiene: the importance of quality sleep for mental health

Getting high-quality sleep can make a world of difference when it comes to mental health, but often, getting a good night of shut-eye is more easily said than done. Using a sleep tracking app can provide you with some insight on where you're starting with your sleep hygiene, and can inform your next steps when it comes to getting the rest you need.

Thankfully, there are some simple steps that you can take to increase the quality of your sleep:

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day
  • Abstain from drinking alcohol for at least six hours before going to bed
  • Stop drinking caffeinated beverages after noon
  • Spend some time exercising each day, and don't exercise too close to bedtime if it makes it harder for you to sleep
  • Keep your room around 65 degrees
  • Use light-blocking curtains to make your room as dark as possible

Social connection and support systems: building strong relationships

Connecting with friends, family, and those in your community can help to bolster your mental health. Spending time with others doesn't just help your well-being in the moment—doing so can also help you to recover from anxiety, stress, and depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Seeking professional help: therapy, counseling, and other resources

If you're struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, or another mental health issue, you aren't alone. While it can feel nerve-wracking to reach out for help, doing so can be a life-saving sign of strength. If you're not sure where to start, click here to take a look at Mental Health First Aid, where you'll be able to access screenings and learn more about treatment options. Working with a therapist, counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist can help you learn the coping strategies necessary to manage stress, anxiety, and depression.

If you notice that a friend or a loved one is struggling with their mental health, don't hesitate to reach out to them and offer them support when necessary. Letting them know that you're on their side and there to help can turn the tides for someone who is in the throes of anxiety, depression, or extreme stress.

While prioritizing your mental health can take some practice, it's an important step in creating an overall sense of well-being. Taking steps to manage anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health issues can help you fully enjoy your life, and incorporating healthy habits into your routine can support your efforts to improve your mental health. The Evidation app, with your permission, uses the health data you're already tracking to provide you with personalized insights and articles to help you make the most of every day. Click here to check out the app and learn more.

Personal Health
May 24, 2024

10 easy tips to stay healthy in the summer with Evidation's expert advice

10 minutes

10 tips for the summer season to keep you healthy, including travel health advice, self-care planning, and staying safe when exercising outdoors.

The warmth of the summer sun is just around the corner! From the feel of the ocean on your toes to the sound of little ones playing outside enjoying the warm weather, summer is a fantastic chance to reset and relax. At Evidation, we're here to help you feel your best, and that includes providing you with expert tips to help you stay safe and healthy this summer. Let's take a look at 10 ways you can boost your wellness in June, July, and August.

1. Sun safety: Tips for protecting your skin

Wearing sunscreen every day is a simple, effective way to protect both the health and the appearance of your skin. Even if you've already been applying SPF as a part of your normal skincare routine, be sure you're also following this expert advice to keep your skin healthy this summer.

  • Get the SPF you need. For daily skincare, you'll want to choose sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. If you're going to be spending time outdoors, you'll want to shoot for an SPF of at least 60.
  • Use the correct amount. Most people don't use enough sunscreen, which can lessen your protection against the sun's rays. You'll need to use about an ounce of sunscreen to protect your arms, legs, face, and neck. An ounce of sunscreen is enough to completely cover your palm prior to application.
  • Reapplication matters. Experts recommend that you reapply your sunscreen at least every two hours, especially if you're swimming or sweating. If you're only spending time indoors, however, reapplication may not be necessary.
  • Take additional precautions. While sunscreen is a simple and effective way to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun, using additional sun protection is a smart move. Sunglasses, protective clothing, and wide-brimmed hats can all provide a physical barrier that can work to keep your skin safe.

2. Hydration: Staying cool and hydrated in the heat

Nothing beats a cold glass of water on a hot summer day, and your body will thank you every time you hydrate while you're spending time in the heat. This is especially important when you're exercising outdoors, or when you're spending time in extreme temperatures.

According to Sarah Adler, a performance dietitian with UCLA Health Sports Performance, about 60% of the body is made up of water, and it's super-important that we replenish water lost through sweat during the hot summer months. Adler says that proper hydration is necessary to support brain function, support mood, regulate body temperature, and to keep the digestive system running smoothly.

Not sure how much water you need to drink each day? We get it – there's plenty of conflicting information out there, and it can be hard to pinpoint your exact hydration needs. Adler recommends that people should drink between .5 and 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day, and people who are exercising or working in the summer heat should make the 1 ounce per pound guideline their hydration minimum.

"We may need more, we may need less," says Adler. While you should certainly drink when you're thirsty, this isn't always the most reliable indicator that you need to hydrate. For some people, thirst doesn't become apparent until the body has already become dehydrated. Adler says that noting the color of your urine can be a much more accurate way to assess your body's hydration needs – a light, pale yellow color can be a sign that your body is properly hydrated.

3. Healthy eating: Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables

In addition to drinking plenty of water, enjoying hydrating foods can help you feel your best. Produce options loaded with water include lettuce, watermelon, strawberries, bell peppers, celery, and tomatoes.

Enjoying fresh summer produce isn't just great for keeping your body hydrated, however. Many fruits and veggies are in season during the summer months, allowing you to enjoy maximum flavor and maximum nutritional benefits.

While the exact fruits and vegetables that are in season during the summer vary depending on your location, common summer season produce includes:

  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Beets
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Peas
  • Strawberries

If you're able, summer can be a fantastic time to load your freezer up with produce. Freezing fruits and veggies in-season can give you a delicious treat to enjoy once the weather turns chilly in a few months.

4. Exercise: Fun and fitness in the sun

It feels great to get out and enjoy exercise in the summer, but it's important that you take precautions to stay safe in the heat. It can be easy to overdo it, and you may not notice signs of struggle until your body is already in the throes of a health issue.

Follow these tips from the American Heart Association in order to prioritize your safety while exercising in the summer:

  • Consider your timing. If possible, you'll want to exercise in the morning or evening. Summer days tend to be the hottest between noon and 3 pm, so avoid exercising outdoors during these hours if you can.
  • Drink water regularly, even if you don't feel thirsty. If you're hitting the road or the trails, bring water with you, or plan for water stops along your route. If you're exercising in especially hot temperatures, or you're going to be working out for more than an hour, you'll also need to replenish electrolytes (packing a banana can be a good idea to give your body what it needs in addition to water).
  • Don't push it. We're all for encouraging you to go the extra mile, but if your body is telling you that something feels off, listen. It can take time to adapt to the heat (up to two weeks). If it's hotter than you're used to, you may not be able to work out as hard or for as long as normal. There's nothing wrong with this – take breaks, spend time in the shade, and call it quits early if necessary.

5. Allergy management: Coping with seasonal allergies

Sniffing, sneezing, watery eyes – seasonal allergies can make it tough to fully enjoy summer. When your body has an allergic response to environmental irritants, you may also feel tired and sluggish.

Thankfully, there are plenty of options to manage seasonal allergies that can help you enjoy all that the warm months have to offer. Over-the-counter options like saline rinses, eye drops, and antihistamine sprays may be all that you need to soothe occasional seasonal allergies.

If you find that your seasonal allergies are interfering with your daily life, it's a smart move to make an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss prescription options that can support your health.

In addition to medication, there are lifestyle modifications you can make to lessen the effect of seasonal allergies, including:

  • Invest in an air purifier. No matter how clean you keep your home, it's impossible to keep it free of all allergens, especially those that you track in on your shoes and clothes. Running an air filter can help remove allergens from the air in your home, providing symptom relief.
  • Shower after spending time outdoors. While it may not be practical to shower every time you leave the house, taking a shower when you notice your allergy symptoms are acting up can be helpful, as it physically removes pollen and other allergens from your hair and body.
  • Check the pollen count. Taking a look at the pollen count in your area can help you decide whether it makes sense to spend more time indoors or outdoors. When you notice that the pollen count is especially high, you may want to take over-the-counter allergy medication proactively (if you're not already using a daily medication prescribed by your doctor).

6. Sleep hygiene: Tips for quality sleep during hot nights

It can be tough to get high-quality sleep when your area is in the midst of a heat wave. Thankfully, there are some tricks you can try to get the rest you need when the temperatures outside are sweltering.

  • Hydrate early. Keeping your body hydrated can make it easier to sleep on a hot night, but it's important that you stop drinking water early enough that you won't be running to the bathroom all night. For most people, finishing up water an hour or two before bed works well.
  • Skip the cocktails. The damage of booze in hot weather is twofold: alcohol dehydrates your body, and makes it more likely that you'll experience night sweats. On super-hot days and evenings, it's a good idea to forgo the booze in favor of a more hydrating beverage.
  • Exercise early. Getting plenty of physical activity can make it easier for you to fall asleep. During a heat wave, however, it's a good idea to get your workout in early. Exercising too close to bedtime can make it difficult for your body to cool down. Getting your workout in as soon as you wake up – during the cooler hours of the morning – can be a good idea.

7. Mental health: Stress management and relaxation techniques

Summer is associated with kicking back and relaxing, but this doesn't mean that your self-care practices can take a backseat. For many, summer brings new and different schedules, increased family gatherings, and social obligations that can bring stress.

Setting boundaries can be key to protecting your mental health during the summer. Between kids' sports schedules, vacations, filling in for others at work, and social obligations, it can be tough to find time for yourself. Keep a calendar just like you do during other times of the year, and don't be afraid to say no when things begin to look too busy.

Immersing yourself in nature can also be helpful for relieving summer stress. According to Harvard Health, spending as little as 20 minutes in nature can lower stress levels. Enjoying a hike, swim, or yoga class outdoors can help your mind relax and reset, no matter how busy your schedule gets.

As always, don't be afraid to reach out for professional help if you're struggling. Talking with a counselor, therapist, or other licensed mental health professional can provide you with the support you need to feel your best.

8. Safety precautions: Preventing heat-related illnesses

While children, seniors, people who live with obesity, and people who are physically ill are at higher risk for heat-related illnesses, anyone can fall victim to heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and more. Taking precautions to keep yourself healthy in hot weather can help you rest assured that you and those you care about are enjoying the sun safely.

Important heat-related illness prevention tips include:

  • Stay in air-conditioned areas when possible. Spending time in air conditioning can help your body get relief from the heat. If you don't have air conditioning in your home, spending time in a mall, community center, or public library can help.
  • Slow down. When temperatures spike, move your workouts indoors, or schedule them for early in the morning or during the evening hours.
  • Avoid hot foods: While burgers and corn are delicious straight off of the grill, eating hot foods and drinks can make it tough for your body to cool down. On especially hot days, opt for salads, smoothies, cold sandwiches, and other heat-free options.

9. Travel health: Staying healthy on summer vacations

There's not much that feels worse than getting sick on vacation, and taking some precautions to help you stay healthy when you're enjoying a getaway can be well worth the extra effort.

  • Talking with your doctor before going on a long trip – especially if you're traveling overseas – is a smart move. Your physician will talk with you about any vaccines or medications you'll need to stay safe, and can discuss whether you should make an appointment to check in upon your return.
  • Get rest. Traveling is taxing, and traveling to a different time zone can do a number on your well-being. Rest when you're feeling tired, and give yourself time to adjust to a different pace.
  • Stay hydrated. We said it earlier, and we'll say it again – water matters. When you're traveling, drink plenty of water (and be sure to check whether you need to opt for bottled water if you're in a new location).

10. Use Evidation to track your health during summer

Tracking your health data can provide you with valuable insights into what your body needs, and at Evidation, we're here to help. With your permission, the Evidation app safely and privately uses the health data you're already gathering to provide you with the information you need to support your health. Bonus: with your OK, we're also able to use your health data to inform medical studies, allowing you to effortlessly contribute to a healthier world.

Evidation is built upon a foundation of privacy, and we adhere to an opt-in model. That means:

You control who sees your data—or doesn’t

You give consent every time there’s a request for your data

Get started with Evidation today

At Evidation, we're excited to partner with you to help you get the most out of your health data by providing personalized articles and insights that can help you feel your best. No matter where you're at on your health and fitness journey, we'll be by your side, every step of the way. Learn more about how Evidation works and download the app today.

Personal Health
May 15, 2024

The best way to get rid of mosquitoes in the summer

5 minutes

Mosquitoes are pesky creatures, but these flying insects also carry diseases such as West Nile, malaria, and Zika.

Mosquitoes are pesky little creatures and the bane of everyone who enjoys outdoor living. Besides being annoying when we're cooking outside, taking a hike, or doing other activities, mosquitoes are a vector for several diseases. These include yellow fever, malaria, Zika, dengue, and West Nile virus.

A big part of outdoor safety is repelling mosquitoes. To control mosquitoes in and around your home, you'll have to take a multi-pronged approach. This begins with controlling their breeding sites, but we'll also share some other tips to keep you as mosquito-free as possible.

Eliminate standing water breeding sites

What's the best way to get rid of mosquitoes outside? The first step to preventing a mosquito infestation is to control the sites where they breed. Mosquito larvae develop in standing water. While ponds and containers can attract mosquitoes, the larvae can also thrive in small amounts of water, such as what would fit in a rain gutter or bottle cap.

Mosquitoes love to nest and rest in humid, dark areas. This includes not just standing water containers but also under patio furniture and even inside the garage or carport. If you regularly eliminate any standing water around your yard, you'll go a long way toward mosquito control. Be sure to check all of these areas:

  • Used tires in the yard or garage
  • Birdbaths
  • Puddles
  • Tree stumps
  • Kiddie pools
  • Trash cans
  • Rain gutter extension pipes
  • Fountains
  • Uncovered rain barrels or cisterns

Containers that stay outside need to be emptied and scrubbed on a regular basis. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests doing this once a week. You can treat water features like ponds and fountains with a dissolvable disk available at home improvement stores or online. These disks are toxic for the larvae.

Install protective screens and netting

Barriers are one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family. Window screens or mosquito netting are an effective second line of defense after eliminating water breeding sites.

Window screens

To control mosquitoes inside your house, one important step is to make sure you have screens on any windows or doorways you like to open. Window screens can be fixed and attached to the outside of your windows, or you can install roll-up mosquito screens.

For windows and doors that are sometimes opened, use a fine mesh screen with openings too small for mosquitoes to enter. Also, consider screening on your porch or deck. You can choose a permanent solution if you live in a warm climate. However, options are also available for roll-down patio screens.

Traditionally, door screens are a separate door, but we mostly see this type of screen in older homes. If your doors don't have screens, you can opt for a net-like screen that allows people to walk through. This option is a solid mosquito repellent for doorways. Just keep in mind that mosquitoes can enter quickly.

Mosquito netting

Insect netting provides a protective barrier mesh. These nets are typically made of woven polyester. Most of us don't have an indoor mosquito problem. However, some climates struggle with this issue more than others. Mosquito infestation is especially common in warm, humid climates.

If indoor mosquitoes are a concern, try a mosquito net placed around beds. You can also find mosquito nets designed specifically for your needs. For instance, we see door nets, window nets, and bed nets.

Mosquito nets are useful for doorways without screens. Letting fresh air into the home in the spring and summer is an excellent self-care activity. If you have a sliding glass door without a screen, you don't have to forego the pleasure of opening your doors to let fresh air into your home. Find an appropriately sized window net and install it correctly to deter mosquitoes and other insects.

Mosquito netting is particularly useful when you're camping or spending a day outdoors. For example, a large mosquito net or tent net is ideal for draping or placing around a patio table.

Using mosquito repellents and insecticides

According to the CDC, anything with DEET is effective as a mosquito repellent. This chemical doesn't actually kill mosquitoes. Rather, it makes it hard for mosquitoes to smell humans.

While many people see DEET as a harsh chemical, both the CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency confirm that using DEET-based spray properly doesn't present a health concern to most people, including children.

Insecticides can be used in most of your outdoor areas. Using larvicides like capsules in water will eliminate mosquito larvae before they become adults. There are EPA-registered mosquito foggers and sprays formulated to spread toxins in outdoor areas.

Employing natural mosquito control methods

Plants

Mosquito infestation in yard areas is a huge problem. In addition to insecticides, there are several natural methods for controlling mosquitoes. To get rid of mosquitoes on porches or other outdoor gathering spots, placing specific plant varieties around your home's high-traffic outdoor areas can help. This might include putting plants around your deck or porch, in window boxes, and along your walkways. Mosquitoes tend to avoid areas where these plants are present:

  • Feverfew
  • Catnip
  • Tulsi (also called holy basil)
  • Citrosa (sometimes referred to as citronella plants)
  • Lemon thyme
  • Rosemary

Oils

A few naturally derived oils can be combined with water to make a natural mosquito repellant spray. These include camphor, peppermint, lemon eucalyptus oil, and citronella oils. Apply the oil and water mixture directly to your skin when going outside.

Specifically, a study conducted by the Journal of Insect Science found both lemon eucalyptus oil and DEET-based products perform well for repelling mosquitoes.

Bug zappers

Mosquito zappers—also called electrocutors—use carbon dioxide and heat to attract and kill harmful mosquitos. Another option is high-tech mosquito traps that use combinations of scent and heat to imitate human targets. This attracts the mosquitoes, and when they fly in, a vacuum built into the unit draws them into a special chamber where they're eliminated and trapped.

Conclusion

We can't allow mosquitoes and other insects to prevent us from enjoying our favorite outdoor summer activities. Proactive steps for protecting yourself and your family against mosquitoes will ensure you're ready to enjoy healthy outdoor living. From repellents such as DEET to natural oils and plants, there's a solution for everyone concerned about controlling mosquitoes around the home, yard, and beyond.

With Evidation, you can participate in health programs, along with receiving personalized content and tips for better health. Download the Evidation app today to learn more about how to track healthy habits.

Personal Health
May 3, 2024

Mental Health Awareness Month: 8 Evidation expert tips to help take care of your mind

9 minutes

Setting self-care goals, checking in with your doctor and mental health care provider, and setting boundaries can all work to bolster your mental health.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to fight the stigma and stereotypes that are often associated with mental health struggles. Supported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect opportunity to check in with yourself on your mental well-being and create new routines that can support your mental wellness. At Evidation, our team of experts is here to provide you with easy-to-implement tips and tricks to support your mental health. Here, we'll explore some simple steps you can take to feel your best during Mental Health Awareness Month and beyond.

1. Seeking support: a sign of strength

If you're living with a mental health issue or simply going through a stressful time in life, you're not alone. Reaching out to a mental health professional is a sign of bravery and strength, and helps you get the support you need to thrive.

Know your baseline

If you've never worked with a therapist or counselor before, today is a great day to start. Even if you don't have any current pressing issues, working with a therapist can help you understand your emotional baseline and discover new ways to cope with stress.

When something feels off, don't wait

When you feel your baseline beginning to waver, it's smart to reach out for support right away. If you notice that you're not coping with emotions well, or you encounter a particularly stressful situation, make an appointment with your counselor or therapist – and don't hesitate to let them know if the situation is urgent.

2. Self-care strategies: Practical tips for stress management and well-being

Taking care of yourself is vital for your mental health, but prioritizing consistent self-care is sometimes easier said than done.

Practice setting boundaries

While it can be hard to say no to people you care about, doing so can be vital for preserving your mental health. Letting friends, family members, and coworkers know that you'd love to help with their request or attend their gathering but are unavailable takes practice, but it gets easier over time. Check out these tips on how to set boundaries with the people you care about.

Stop putting yourself last

You've heard the old adage that you can't pour from an empty cup, and it's the truth: you've got to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. If you feel like you've been overwhelmed at home, at work, or with friends, it may be time to take stock of where some responsibilities can be shared.

3. Mindfulness practices: Cultivating presence and inner peace

Proactive stress management can help you stay centered when tough issues arise. Try adding one or more of these mindfulness practices to your day to bolster your ability to handle whatever life throws your way.

Meditation

You can reap the benefits of meditation with less than five minutes of practice each day. According to meditation expert Vishen Lakhiani, "You can take a one- to three-minute dip into peacefulness, and you can see remarkable results. The biggest benefits are going to happen in the first few minutes."

Unplug

Taking time away from your phone can help you de-stress, disconnect from work, and get better sleep. While it's not often feasible to take a full day away from your phone, taking an hour or two to fully focus on friends, family, or yourself can help you feel centered.

4. Managing emotions: Strategies for emotional well-being

Meeting your feelings head-on can be tough, but doing so can save you from the effects of chronic stress. If you're used to avoiding your feelings, this can be an adjustment. Be kind to yourself if you're working on managing your emotions for the first time, and don't be afraid to ask for help from family, friends, or a mental health professional if you need it.

Check in with yourself

Many of us operate on autopilot day in and day out, moving from one part of the schedule to the next with little time to reflect. Creating a few minutes in your day to check in with yourself can be a smart way to stay on top of your emotional needs. Setting a reminder on your phone or smartwatch to take a few minutes to do breathing exercises, take a quiet moment, or write in a journal can help you get in touch with your feelings.

Practice speaking up

If you fall into patterns of people-pleasing or otherwise struggle to stick up for yourself, starting to share your feelings with others can work to validate your emotions. A simple way to get started: answer the question "how are you?" honestly when you feel comfortable. Doing so doesn't just give you the chance to express your emotions – it also gives people close to you the chance to support your needs.

5. Creating healthy habits: Incorporating wellness into daily life

Making time to practice regular healthy habits can go a long way in protecting your mental health and helping you feel your best.

Start small

There's no need for a total lifestyle overhaul – incorporating a few wellness practices into your routine may be all that you need to feel happier and healthier. Going for a 10-minute walk during your lunch break each day can give you time to enjoy some sun and quiet your mind's chatter about your work day. Adding a fruit or vegetable to two meals each day can provide you with the nutrition boost that you need to feel great. Give yourself time to establish one healthy habit before diving into another.

Check-in with your doctor

Depending on your mental and physical health, some wellness practices may carry more weight than others. Talking with your doctor can provide you with insight into what behaviors will best support your well-being. Your doctor may also be able to refer you to a mental health professional, dietitian, or other health care professional who can work with you to help support your well-being.

Set achievable, effort-centered goals

When it comes to mental health, action matters! Setting goals based on effort – rather than results – can be helpful in keeping you encouraged to work on your mental health. For example, committing to talking to a therapist twice a month for the next few months can feel much more realistic than overcoming a lifelong mental health issue in the same period of time. Setting effort-based goals can also help you realize what works well for you when it comes to your mental well-being.

6. Balancing work, life, and self-care

You already know that your workplace can affect your mental health, and it's important that you balance your time at work, at home, and at rest. It can be tough to speak up at work when your workload becomes unfair or unmanageable, but doing so can help you preserve your mental health while you work.

In order to get the support you need to thrive while balancing work, home, and self-care, try these tips.

Speak clearly about your workload

It happens all too often: you take on a position with a manageable workload, and over time, your duties begin to pile up. You find yourself working late, checking your email on weekends, and struggling to figure out how you'll complete all that's expected of you. There's a fine line between being a team player and keeping your sanity, and it's important to talk to your supervisor if you feel that your workload has crossed into dangerous territory. If you're feeling like you've been taking on too much, schedule a time to talk with your boss about solutions.

Remember, explanations aren't always necessary

If you're being asked to go above and beyond the duties of your job at work, with family, or with friends, remember: an explanation isn't always necessary. It can be tempting to bolster a "no" with reasoning, but doing so takes away your power to simply refuse a task.

Some polite ways to decline an invitation or request include:

  • I wish I could make that work, but I'm afraid I'm not able to.
  • Thanks, but I can't fit that into the schedule today.
  • I appreciate the invitation so much, but I already have something else going on this evening.
  • Thanks so much for thinking of me, but I can't add anything else to the calendar this week.

Schedule weekly self-care appointments

Life gets busy, and it's all too easy to put yourself on the back burner. Making your self-care a priority can go a long way in helping you feel your best. Self-care isn't all about getting a haircut or enjoying a dinner out with friends (even though those activities can certainly be a part of your self-care routine). Self-care is also about making time to prepare healthy foods, keeping up with regular dentist and doctor appointments, and discovering ways to feel and express your emotions.

7. Nutrition tips for optimal mental health

Just like the rest of your body, your brain requires balanced nutrition in order to maintain optimal health. While it can be easy to let healthy eating go by the wayside when things get stressful, doing so can make it tough to keep stress levels low and utilize effective coping strategies.

Some ways you can use your nutrition to support positive mental health include:

Eat regularly

When you're running from one task on your to-do list to the next, it can be easy to skip a meal, or try to run on caffeine. Some people also find it tempting to skip eating throughout the day, only to enjoy a large dinner immediately before bed. While different eating styles work for different people, it's important to pay attention to what type of eating schedule lets you feel your best. Many people find that eating regularly throughout the day allows them to maintain blood sugar homeostasis, guarding against the mood swings and energy dips that can come with serious blood sugar highs and lows.

Enjoy the rainbow

Ever find yourself stuck in a rut when it comes to the produce in your diet? You're not alone. There's nothing wrong with settling into a routine when it comes to eating well, but adding variety can serve both your physical and mental health. Foods from different color families offer different benefits. For example, red fruits and vegetables are typically high in lycopene, a nutrient that can support healthy brain function. Blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain compounds that can improve memory and brain health.

Create a weekly menu

Planning your meals in advance can help you get the variety you need in your diet, as well as relieve some of the stress that can come with figuring out what to make for dinner each night. Taking a few moments each weekend to decide what you'll be eating for the week can help make eating well exciting, and knowing what you'll need to prep for the evening can help you get through some of the chopping, slicing, and dicing in advance.

8. Sleep routine for improved mental health

Getting plenty of high-quality sleep is important for maintaining positive mental health, but getting the rest you need to thrive is sometimes easier said than done. Try these sleep-easy tips to help you feel great each morning.

Maintain a regular sleep schedule

While it can be tempting to get some extra shut-eye on the weekends, serious sleeping in can do more harm than good, according to experts. While getting an hour or so of extra sleep isn't likely to do much harm to your brain's Circadian rhythms, adjusting your sleep and wake schedules by more than an hour can throw you off for the work week ahead.

Create the right environment for rest.

Your bedroom should be an oasis of calm, and taking a few simple steps can help set the scene for a fantastic night's sleep. Making your bedroom as dark as possible, de-cluttering your space, and using a white noise machine if you live in an area where nighttime noise is unavoidable can all go a long way in helping you get the rest you need.

Cut back on caffeine

We get it – it can be rough to get through the afternoon without a caffeinated pick-me-up. Enjoying caffeine in the afternoon, however, can wreak havoc on your sleep hygiene. If you're having trouble falling and staying asleep at night, keep the caffeine to morning hours only, or consider switching to decaf altogether.

Evidation: Here to help you track habits to maintain positive mental health

At Evidation, we're here to support all aspects of your well-being, including your mental health. Take your time implementing the tips above, noting what works well for you and what doesn't. Mental health can be complicated, and there's nothing wrong with reaching out for help when you need it. If you aren't using our app yet, we're excited to help you get started. Click here to learn more about Evidation and download the app today.

Personal Health
April 5, 2024

The best way to lose belly fat and how to track fat loss with Evidation

9 minutes

Getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated, practicing stress management techniques, and exercising can all help you reduce dangerous belly fat.

While many people work to reduce the amount of belly fat they have because they don't like the effect it has on their appearance, the negative effect of excess belly fat goes beyond what we see in the mirror. Carrying excess body fat can have many serious health consequences.

If you have excess belly fat, there are plenty of options to help. Taking a holistic approach that incorporates both diet and lifestyle changes, as well as setting realistic goals can help you move toward becoming your healthiest self. Using your health data trackers (such as your smartwatch, fitness apps, nutrition apps, etc.) can help provide you with information that lets you know whether you're moving toward your goals. At Evidation, we're here to help! With your permission, we'll analyze your health data to provide you with personalized insights that can help you improve your overall wellness.

Here, we'll explore why belly fat is so dangerous and take a look at some of the options you have to make positive changes that can help reduce the amount of belly fat you're carrying.

Understanding belly fat: Causes and health implications

In order to understand why excess belly fat is so dangerous, it's important to understand the difference between visceral (belly) fat and subcutaneous fat, which lies just beneath the surface of the skin and can be easily pinched. Visceral fat settles deep in the body, surrounding both abdominal organs and the heart. The fat cells in this area secrete cytokines, chemicals that can cause endocrine and cardiovascular issues.

Excess subcutaneous fat poses far fewer health risks than excess visceral fat. Research shows that too much belly fat is associated with a higher likelihood of developing heart disease. People with higher levels of visceral fat are also more likely to develop asthma, dementia, and certain types of cancer.

The best way to understand the amount of belly fat you're carrying is to have a CT scan or MRI performed in a doctor's office, but there are simpler ways to understand whether you're at risk for conditions associated with excess visceral fat.

Some ways to understand whether you're likely to be carrying excess visceral fat include:

  • Be aware of your body type. People who have "apple" body shapes (tend to carry most of their weight in their abdomen) are more likely to have excess visceral fat than people who are "pear" shaped (tend to carry their weight in their hips and thighs).
  • Keep tabs. Measuring your belly regularly (at the level of your belly button – not at the smallest part of your waist) can help you understand whether you're carrying too much visceral fat. Generally, a waist measurement of more than 35 inches in women or 40 inches in men indicates that an unhealthy level of visceral fat may be present. If you have a large body size, it can be helpful to simply keep track of your waist measurement so that you can know whether your waist is getting larger over time.
  • Use the height-to-waist ratio. Some medical professionals prefer using this method to gain insight into the amount of visceral fat a person is carrying. To calculate your height to waist ratio, take the circumference of your waist in inches and divide it by your height in inches. A healthy ratio is 0.5 or below in both men and women.

Dietary strategies for losing belly fat: Nutrition tips and meal planning

Visceral fat accumulates when we eat more calories than we burn. Creating a healthy nutrition plan is a smart first step to help you win the war against visceral fat.

Your breakfast can go a long way in helping you reduce belly fat. Some registered dietitian-recommended breakfast options that can help blast visceral fat include avocado toast topped with an egg, oatmeal with nuts and fruit, or a fruit salad packed with fiber-loaded produce like berries, bananas, and kiwi.

Enjoying a balanced lunch and dinner is also key in helping your body burn visceral fat. Being sure you're getting enough iron and plenty of fiber can help to slim your belly. Incorporating foods like pumpkin seeds, kidney beans, avocado, kale, beef, lamb, squash, and navy beans into your lunches and dinners can give your body the support it needs to burn away belly fat.

The effect of exercise on belly fat

Whether you're trying to lose belly fat or simply want to feel your best, regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. When you exercise and stick to a nutrition plan that's right for your body, research shows that you can burn existing visceral fat or prevent it from growing in the first place. Both strength training and aerobic workouts can help to reduce belly fat.

An important note: while crunches, planks, and other abdominal workouts can strengthen your core muscles, it's not possible to spot-reduce fat. These exercises can be a healthy part of any exercise program, but hyper-focusing on abdominal exercises during your workout won't make you lose belly fat faster.

Stress management techniques: Addressing cortisol levels and its impact on belly fat

When our bodies experience stress, the adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol. This is a part of your body's natural fight or flight response. Cortisol slows down certain body processes, so you can focus all of your energy on responding to the threat at hand.

Cortisol is helpful in the short-term, but constant cortisol release due to prolonged stress can have negative health effects, including an increase in blood pressure and visceral fat. Today's high-pressure, ever-changing world can make it tough to slow the release of cortisol.

Stress management is a key part of any healthy lifestyle, and it can be especially important if you're working to reduce the amount of visceral fat in your body. When you practice stress management strategies, you can support your body's ability to reduce cortisol levels, which may help you lose dangerous visceral fat.

Helpful stress management tools can include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Spending time with a pet, friends, or family
  • Journaling
  • Mindfulness activities (like grounding)

If you're struggling to manage stress on your own, it's important to reach out to a counselor or therapist. Doing so is not a sign of weakness–it's a sign of strength and power to ask for help to feel your best.

Importance of sleep for fat loss: Tips for optimizing sleep quality

Researchers are still working to fully understand the connection between sleep and weight. Research has shown that in recent years, Americans have gotten less high-quality sleep. During the same years, Americans tended to report higher body weights, leading researchers to want to know more about the connection between sleep and weight.

Research suggests that people who get the right amount of high-quality sleep are more likely to have a healthy body weight than those who do not get high-quality sleep. While this relationship is still being studied, some research shows that a lack of sleep is linked to an increase in ghrelin (a brain chemical that causes the body to experience the feeling of hunger) and a decrease in leptin (a brain chemical that causes the body to experience the feeling of being full).

There are several simple steps you can take to make it easier for you to get the rest that you need, including:

  • Set a bedtime routine and stick to it. Going to bed and waking up at about the same time can help fight fatigue.
  • Put screens away. An hour or two before it's time to bed, shift away from TV, computers, and your phone. Take the time to unwind, read a book, enjoy hobbies, or spend time with family instead of staring at a screen.
  • Exercise. Physical activity can help you fall asleep more easily and provide you with high-quality rest. You may need to think about working out earlier in the day if exercise in the evening gives you an energy boost.
  • Stay away from alcohol. While it may be easy to fall asleep after a drink or two, you likely won't get the rest that you need to feel your best. In the event that you do have a drink in the evening, be sure to drink at least an equal amount of water to keep your body hydrated as you rest.

Role of hydration in reducing belly fat: Hydration tips and its effect on metabolism

Drinking water can help your body burn fat in several ways. Research shows that getting enough water can boost the metabolism by stimulating thermogenesis–the process by which the body produces heat. When you drink water, your body has to use energy to warm the water to your body temperature. That being said, this effect isn't likely to make a big difference when it comes to the number you see on the scale, but there are several other reasons why getting enough water can help you reduce fat and achieve a healthy weight.

Staying hydrated boosts the impact of exercise. When your body is dehydrated, our muscle cells break down, making workouts less effective. Drinking enough water also makes it easier for your body to release heat through sweat, allowing you to feel more comfortable during your workouts.

The general rule of thumb to follow when it comes to hydration is to drink half of your body weight in ounces each day, and more if you're working out, spending time in hot weather, or are pregnant or breastfeeding. It can be tough to keep track of how much you're drinking each day. Using a tracker on your phone or smart watch can help you be sure you're getting the water that you need. When you sync your tracker with Evidation, we'll be able to provide you with tips and tricks to ensure that you're meeting your daily health goals.

Tracking fat loss progress with Evidation: Utilizing the app's features for monitoring changes in body composition

When you're working toward weight loss, it can be motivating to see that your hard work is paying off. While we can't help you track your exact loss of belly fat, we can help you track things like sleep patterns, exercise, and mood so you can get a holistic picture of your health and how it relates to your weight loss journey. As we analyze your progress, we'll be able to offer personalized articles, tips, and insights that can help you take the steps necessary to continue moving in the right direction.

Incorporating lifestyle changes: Sustainable habits for long-term fat loss success

It can be hard to figure out how to make habits stand the test of time. Developing strategies to keep you on track even after motivation and willpower begin to fade can help you maintain the habits that effectively help you burn belly fat.

Some tips to help your habits stand strong over time include:

  • Be realistic. Your habits should be achievable. Choosing habits that offer some flexibility (for example, working out four days each week instead of committing to spending two hours in the gym every day, no matter what) can help you stay on track, even when life gets in the way.
  • Get your family on board. If you're concerned about how belly fat is affecting your health, talk with your family about the lifestyle changes that you want to make to feel your best. Their support can help you stay on track, and they may even be inspired by your influence and start their own health journey.
  • Make appointments with yourself. You wouldn't cancel an important appointment with your doctor, and it's important that you treat yourself with the same respect. Scheduling time to exercise, meal prep, cook, and de-stress can help you remember to make your well-being a priority.

Evidation: Here to support every step of your wellness journey

At Evidation, we're here to help you move toward your healthiest, happiest life. If you're searching for the best way to lose belly fat, we're glad that you found us, and we're excited to provide you with the insights and information you need to move forward in your health journey. Learn more about how Evidation works here, and download the app today–we're excited for you!

Personal Health
March 7, 2024

Introducing My Health: your personalized health Hub on Evidation

2 minutes

We're thrilled to unveil a new addition to the Evidation app: My Health. This new feature is designed to provide you with valuable insights into your well-being.

We're thrilled to unveil a new addition to the Evidation app: My Health. This new feature is designed to provide you with valuable insights into your well-being. 

At Evidation, we understand that your health journey is unique, which is why My Health is tailored to provide personalized guidance and correlations between essential aspects of your lifestyle.

What Can You Expect from My Health on Evidation?

  1. Daily Surveys for Comprehensive Insights: By answering the daily questions you see on the home screen, you'll gain deep insights into your health trends over time. You can now find these in the My Health tab. 

            Currently, you’ll see quick surveys each day asking about your sleep and mood, allowing you to track your progress and make informed decisions about your well-being. 

            In the future, we’ll add other topics such as healthy eating, prevention, exercise, and so on. 

The screenshot below illustrates how these surveys offer valuable insights into your daily habits and behaviors.

  1. Seamless Device Integration for Real-Time Data: Take your health monitoring to the next level by connecting your health-tracking devices to Evidation. By syncing your wearables and other health-tracking apps, you'll unlock real-time data insights and gain a deeper understanding of your health trends. 

            Additionally, we’ll provide you with valuable information about conditions you may be at risk for, empowering you to take proactive steps towards better health. Expect to             start receiving these insights within 1 day after connecting your device. 

The screenshot below demonstrates how connecting your devices offers a comprehensive overview of your health metrics.

How to Maximize Your My Health Experience

  • Stay Consistent: Make a habit of answering daily surveys to ensure accurate and meaningful insights into your health trends.
  • Dig into My Health: Check out your My Health tab often to get meaningful insights into your activities and patterns. 
  • Utilize Device Integration: Connect your devices promptly to start receiving real-time data insights and personalized recommendations.
  • Act on Insights: My Health isn't just about tracking; it's about taking actionable steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Use the insights you get to make informed decisions and prioritize your well-being.

At Evidation, we believe that proactive health management is the key to living your best life. With My Health, we're putting the power of personalized health insights directly into your hands. 

Whether you're striving to improve your fitness, manage stress, enhance sleep quality, prevent illness, or adopt healthier eating habits, Evidation is your trusted companion on your journey to optimal well-being.

Get Started with My Health Today

Ready to take control of your health? Update your Evidation app now to access the My Health feature and start your journey towards a healthier, happier you. Don't have the app yet? Download it today and unlock a wealth of personalized health insights at your fingertips.

Here's to a healthier tomorrow with My Health on Evidation!

Personal Health
February 28, 2024

Can high blood pressure cause headaches?

5 minutes

Mild to moderate hypertension isn't correlated with headaches, however, a hypertension headache can be a sign of a medical emergency.

If your healthcare provider has notified you that you have high blood pressure, or you've taken several self-readings with a blood pressure above the ideal pressure of 120/80 mm Hg, you may begin to realize that some health issues--such as headaches--may be influenced by your blood pressure.

Here, we'll demystify high blood pressure, explore the connection between high blood pressure and headaches, and discuss what you can do to relieve blood pressure related headaches.

Understanding high blood pressure

Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure means that the force of the blood being pushed against the walls of your arteries is too high. High blood pressure means that your heart is working unusually hard to pump blood throughout your body.

The American College of Cardiology offers four distinct categories for blood pressure readings:

  • Normal: Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm HG (or lower).
  • Elevated: In this category, the top number can reach up to 129 mm Hg while the bottom number is 80 mm Hg or less.
  • Stage 1 hypertension: The first stage of high blood pressure is classified as a top number between 130 and 139 mm Hg and a bottom number between 80 and 89 mm Hg.
  • Stage 2 hypertension: The second stage of hypertension is classified as a top number of 140 mm Hg or above, and a bottom number of 80 mm Hg or above.

There are many risk factors that can contribute to a person's development of high blood pressure, including:

  • Age (men develop high blood pressure earlier in life, while women typically develop the condition after age 65)
  • Race/ethnicity (Black people are more susceptible to high blood pressure than people of other races)
  • Family history
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Eating too much salt
  • Being obese or overweight
  • A high-stress lifestyle
  • Pregnancy
  • Drinking too much alcohol

Hypertension and headaches: What's the connection?

Research shows that people who have mild to moderate hypertension are not more likely to experience headaches than people who have healthy blood pressure. People who have high blood pressure, however, may experience headaches related to hypertension. Headaches that are related directly to high blood pressure are known as primary headaches. Secondary headaches, however, are related to other conditions that also cause blood pressure to spike. Conditions that can cause high blood pressure and headaches include pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, hypertensive encephalopathy, and pheochromocytoma.

If you're aware that you have high blood pressure, and you experience a severe headache, unlike any headache or migraine pain you've ever had before, it's important that you go straight to the emergency room. You may be experiencing a hypertensive emergency. In addition to an extremely severe headache, you may experience dizziness, an altered mental status, shortness of breath, vomiting, chest pain, and/or changes in your vision.

Managing high blood pressure

If you have high blood pressure and are experiencing headaches, it's important that you work closely with your healthcare provider to ensure that you're not suffering from a secondary condition. Here, we'll take a look at the steps that you can take to alleviate high blood pressure that is not caused by another health issue.

Quit smoking

There are many reasons to quit smoking, and lowering your blood pressure is one of them. Smoking makes your heart work harder, and quitting can help improve your overall health, including lowering your blood pressure.

Lifestyle changes

There are many lifestyle changes that you can make to lower your blood pressure. For many people, blood pressure is positively correlated with weight gain. Typically, blood pressure can be expected to go down about 1 mm Hg for every 2.2 pounds of body weight lost.

Talking with your doctor, a registered dietitian, or a licensed personal trainer can help you learn what weight goal is healthiest for your body. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly (more on that in a moment!), and maintaining a waist measurement of less than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men can all help to keep your blood pressure down.

Stress management

Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but chronic stress can take a serious toll on your health. While more research is needed to understand exactly how stress levels affect blood pressure, taking steps to lower stress can benefit your health in many ways.

Some tips to lower your daily stress levels include:

  • Take control of your to-do list. Learning how to say no to others and being realistic about the number of tasks you can handle can help you prioritize your health.
  • Chat with a licensed therapist. There's nothing wrong with asking for help, and talking with a licensed professional about mental health can help you develop personalized coping strategies that can help you feel your best.
  • Prioritize self-care. Taking time for yourself to exercise, meditate, and spend time with loved ones can all help you lower your stress levels.

Prioritize rest

Getting high quality sleep can contribute to lower blood pressure. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, it's important to talk with your doctor to rule out underlying conditions. Generally, going to bed and waking up at the same time each night can help you get the most out of sleep. Avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening can help you improve your sleep quality as well.

Dietary changes

Making small changes to your diet can go a long way when it comes to achieving healthy blood pressure. Steps that you can take to lower your blood pressure include:

  • Limit salt in your diet. Cook at home more often, and don't add salt to your food when you cook.
  • Enjoy foods lower in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Increase the amount of whole grains, vegetables, and fruit in your diet.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Talk with your doctor

In some cases, medications are necessary to keep you safe while you implement lifestyle changes that can help you lower your blood pressure. Talk with your doctor about the best path forward after you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Start tracking your health with Evidation today.

If you're ready to take control of your health, our team is here to support you! With Evidation, you'll be able to get insights and support that you need to achieve your health goals. Download the app today to start getting rewarded for treating your body right.

Personal Health
February 21, 2024

Recovery strategies: How to get over the flu fast

5 minutes

When you get the flu, the first question is "When does the flu go away?" Here is a guide to how to get better fast.

Cold and flu season is here in full force. When you get hit hard with the flu, balancing your health becomes even more challenging. It’s important to find ways to recover as quickly as possible while maintaining your energy. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to get past the flu as quickly as possible and get back to enjoying your life.

What is the flu?

“The flu” is a term that’s used by many to describe everything from gastrointestinal viruses to the common cold. But it’s actually a shortened name for influenza, a viral illness that can come on quickly and last for about a week. 

Some common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Respiratory concerns, including cough, runny nose and sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle aches

In contrast, a cold typically doesn’t have a fever and extreme weakness, though it can cause similar respiratory symptoms.

How to get over the flu fast

How long do flu symptoms last? This depends on the person, but the typical time frame for the flu is four to seven days. If you want to ease your symptoms fast, consider these tactics:

1. Rest up

Allowing yourself to rest is a key part of how to treat the flu. If you keep pushing yourself to work and take care of family responsibilities rather than taking time to rest, you might find that your symptoms linger far longer than they should.

2. Drink up

Drinking plenty of fluids can help your immune and respiratory symptoms do their jobs so you get well faster. In addition to water, which is a great choice, consider electrolyte sports drinks and bone-broth-based soups. These also add nutrients along with hydration.

3. Treat symptoms

For the flu, the best line of defense is often to treat your symptoms. If your body aches and fever are intense, consider taking OTC medications. However, if the fever doesn’t bring body aches and isn’t very high, you can let it do its job, which is getting the virus out of your body.

In addition to the fever, you may want to treat your cough and congestion. Decongestants can loosen the mucus so your body can get rid of it. An expectorant can help you clear mucus out of your lungs so you don’t develop complications such as pneumonia.

4. Talk to your doctor

If you have the flu and are at high risk for complications, your doctor may be able to prescribe an antiviral medication. While these don’t stop the flu, they can shorten it or reduce the chances of developing complications. If you have any additional symptoms beyond the typical flu symptoms, such as wheezing, ear pain, shortness of breath, or an extremely high temperature, it’s a good idea to get your doctor on board.

Nutrition for recovery

During your recovery, nutrition can help speed things up. You may not feel like eating, but you’ll want to keep your body nourished as best you can. Some foods that may speed up your recovery while providing important nutrients include:

  • Bone broth soups with antioxidant-rich vegetables
  • Fresh fruits, specifically berries
  • Lean protein from fish and poultry
  • Smoothies made from fruits and vegetables with almond milk

Eat as much as you can, even if you’re not feeling hungry, and choose these healthier options to fuel your body’s recovery.

Hydration strategies

Staying hydrated can be challenging when you don’t have an appetite. One option to try is to put yourself on a schedule to keep pushing water through. Also, if water tastes unappealing while you’re sick, don’t be afraid of clear sodas, fruit juices, and sports drinks. These can all help hydrate you and give you some calories while you’re recovering and not eating as much. You might also want to use broths and soups to add both nutrition and hydration to your recovery journey.

Rest and sleep

You’ll need to rest while you’re sick, but you may find it hard to sleep. One strategy to use to help you sleep is to treat your fever and body aches before it's time to go to bed. The relief you get may let you sleep.

When you can’t sleep, do less. This is a great time to curl up with a blanket and a favorite movie or to listen to a podcast or some favorite music. The less you do, the more your body can rest, and the faster you’ll get better.

Stress reduction techniques

Being sick is a stressful situation. Not only does your body have the stress that comes with fighting illness, but you may feel stressed because you’re missing work or other responsibilities. Using stress reduction techniques won’t change these situations, but it may improve your ability to rest even while facing them.

While you have the flu, some stress reduction techniques aren’t going to apply. Heavy exercise, for example, isn't a great idea when you're fighting the flu. However, you might find that mindfulness and meditation exercises are beneficial during this time, and they might help you reduce your stress levels.

Building resilience: Long-term habits to boost the immune system and prevent future illness

When it comes to the flu, prevention is the best strategy. Once you have the flu, you can speed up your recovery somewhat, but it does have to run its course. Some strategies that can help you prevent future illness include:

  • Supporting your immune system with balanced nutrition
  • Adding immune-boosting supplements, such as vitamin D and vitamin C
  • Drinking the right amount of water
  • Practicing good hand hygiene
  • Increasing physical activity to improve strength and endurance

In addition, consider taking the annual flu vaccine. It will protect against the most recent variation of flu, giving your immune system the information it needs to fight the flu better when you’re exposed.

Tracking your health can also help you stay on track with your wellness goals. While it may not keep you from catching the flu, making healthier choices may improve your immune system’s ability to fight it. 

Evidation can help by rewarding you for healthier choices. We’re also working on an innovative flu monitoring program called FluSmart. This program allows members to connect their health-tracking devices and record their symptoms, so we can track flu cases and help members pick up on their symptoms early, sometimes even before they realize they’re getting sick. Learn more about FluSmart and how it’s helping track and monitor the flu.

Whether you’re hoping to speed up your recovery from the flu or prevent it in the first place, tracking your health can be beneficial. Use Evidation to track your health and earn rewards for healthy choices along the way.

Personal Health
February 9, 2024

What triggers migraines? 7 triggers to track

5 minutes

Common migraine triggers include certain foods, alcohol, dehydration, changes in sleeping patterns, and high stress levels.

Migraine pain can make it impossible to carry on with your day-to-day activities. In addition to throbbing headache pain, many people who experience migraines also experience nausea and a painfully heightened sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for days.

Thankfully, identifying your migraine triggers can help you enjoy more pain-free days. Here, we'll take a look at how the medical community defines migraines, common migraine triggers, and how you can manage your triggers to reduce the frequency of your migraines.

What are migraines?

A migraine is a severe throbbing or pulsing headache. Often, migraines are only felt on one side of the head. Some people experience a condition known as aura before they begin to feel the headache pain of a migraine. Symptoms of an aura can include tingling in the face, arm, or leg, difficulty speaking normally, visual disturbances like blind spots in the vision, and more. Some people experience an aura without migraine pain--this is known as a silent migraine.

Common migraine triggers

People who experience migraines typically have triggers that can bring on a migraine attack. It's important to understand your triggers so that you're able to lower the number of migraines you experience. Triggers can differ from person to person, and your triggers may change with age.

1. Unhealthy amount of sleep

Many people know that a lack of sleep can cause headache and migraine pain, but a recent study showed that getting too much sleep can do the same. If changes in your sleeping pattern trigger migraines, it's a good idea to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.

If you struggle to sleep and notice that it affects your day-to-day well-being, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor to learn more about participating in a sleep study. This can provide you and your healthcare provider with valuable insights on how to improve your sleep, as well as reduce the number of days that you experience migraines.

2. Stress

Lowering your stress levels isn't just good for your blood pressure--it can also help to reduce how often you get migraines as well. Stress is a known trigger of migraine pain, especially in kids and young adults.

Taking steps to lower your daily stress benefits your health in many ways. If stress is a migraine trigger for you, it's especially important that you evaluate where your stress is coming from, and create an action plan to move forward.

Some changes you can make to reduce the amount of stress in your life include participating in meditation or yoga, practicing breathing exercises, journaling a few times each week, getting regular exercise, and talking with a licensed therapist if you need support in lowering your stress levels.

3. Dietary influences

Many people who experience migraines notice that their pain is often tied to food triggers. While exact triggers differ from person to person, many people have the same food-related migraine attack triggers.

Common dietary migraine triggers include:

  • Smoked fish
  • Aged cheese
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Yeast extract
  • Alcohol
  • Cured meats

Many people find that when they have another risk factor for migraine--such as a high stress level--their dietary triggers are more likely to cause an attack. Keeping a food log can help you learn more about what foods trigger migraines for you.

4. Hormones

Many women find that migraines tend to occur at the same time in their menstrual cycle. Changes in estrogen are related to migraine pain. You may find that you experience migraines just before your period, when estrogen drops.

If you notice that your migraines are related to your hormones, it's a good idea to talk with your doctor about medications and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your migraines. Your doctor may recommend birth control to make changes to your estrogen levels, or may recommend migraine medication.

5. Caffeine

Caffeine is tricky when it comes to migraines, as the compound can both relieve and trigger attacks. When the body is dependent on caffeine, withdrawal from coffee or other caffeine-containing substances can cause the blood vessels to enlarge (normally, caffeine shrinks the blood vessels). A person who is not dependent on caffeine may be able to drink caffeine during a migraine to shrink the blood vessels.

6. Dehydration

Not getting enough water is a migraine trigger for many people. In addition to drinking plenty of water each day, it's also important to pay attention to how much fluid you lose through physical activity. If you're spending a lot of time outdoors, or you're exercising heavily, it's easy to forget that you're losing water through sweat. Drinking plenty of water can help you avoid a dehydration headache after exercise or hot weather.

If you find that you're extremely dehydrated and drinking water isn't helping you feel better, it's a good idea to go to your local emergency room so that you can get IV fluids to rehydrate quickly.

7. Alcohol

About 33% of people who experience migraines find that drinking alcohol can make them more likely to experience an attack. Researchers are unsure of exactly how alcohol is related to migraines. It's possible that the dehydrating effect of alcohol contributes to the development of a migraine after drinking.

If you find that drinking alcohol is a migraine trigger, it's a good idea to give it up in favor of mocktails. If you choose to drink, have a glass of water between each drink, and be sure to get plenty of sleep to avoid a migraine attack in the morning.

Managing migraine triggers

Once you understand your migraine triggers, it can be helpful to keep a journal of your daily migraine symptoms. Every few weeks, look back at your journal to learn more about your triggers.

Migraines can be hard to decipher, and it can be tough to figure out exactly why you're getting migraines so often. Focusing on (and confirming or eliminating) one potential trigger at a time can help you get to the root cause of your pain.

Evidation: Here to support you through every step of your health journey

If you're dealing with migraines, you know how important it is to keep track of your health data so that you can have more pain-free days. At Evidation, we believe in the importance of tracking--and putting health data to good use. We're excited to provide you with personalized insights, guidelines, and articles to help you feel your best, day after day. Download the Evidation app today to get started.

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