Your “Best Doctor’s Visit Ever” Cheatsheet (Fill this out + bring it to your next doctor’s appointment for better, faster care.)

Doctors often have to be detectives, looking at various clues, both visible and invisible, to
determine what might be happening in your body.Doctor's Visit

No clues? No information? No back-story about what’s been happening in your life recently? Then even if your physician is Sherlock Holmes, it’s going to be pretty tough to “solve the crime.”

The unfortunate reality is that most physicians have an overwhelming number of patients to care for each and every day. That’s a whole lot of “cases to solve” at a rapid-fire pace. This means most physicians usually spend about 15 minutes or less with each person.

If you want to avoid that frenzied, rushed feeling, your best course of action is to walk into the examination room fully prepared, ready to dive into work.

Being prepared will help both you and your physician to work together more efficiently, get to the root of the issue faster, maximize those precious minutes, and come up with a terrific plan to get you feeling better!

Want to make your next doctor’s visit the best one ever?

Here’s a cheatsheet to help you collect the info that your doctor is (almost definitely) going to need. Print it out, fill it out, and bring it along to your visit. Or email it ahead of time. Your physician will be delighted, and you’ll be more likely to walk out the door feeling clear and empowered.

The Best Doctors Visit Ever Cheatsheet

  1. The issue I am having is:  [describe your issue, pain, symptoms, etc]
  1. This issue has been going on for:  [duration of time]
  1. Around that time, something changed in my life / lifestyle / environment, which was:  [describe any changes or events that may have contributed to this issue, like a stressful break up, a job change, moving to a new home, a medication change, switching to a new brand of face moisturizer, a new exercise regime, anything you can think of]
  1. Here is what I have done to try to manage my symptoms on my own:  [describe what you’ve been trying, including natural / alternative remedies]
  1. Here is what seems to be helping:
  1. Here is what seems to make it worse:
  1. Here are all of the medications I am currently taking:  [don’t forget birth control and over the counter meds]
  1. Here are all of the vitamins / supplements I am currently taking:
  1. Three questions I have for you are:  [the more specific, the better]
  1. My goal today is:  [describe the result you’re hoping for, and your timeline, if applicable. like: “I want to come up with a plan that will clear up my acne by my wedding day, which is 4 months from now.”]

You’ve just made yourself the most well prepared patient in your doctor’s entire waiting room.

Have an excellent visit, and feel better soon. 

Dr. Sue

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Can’t forgive? You could be shortening your life

Forgiving someone who has wronged or disappointed you  can be incredibly difficult. Forgiving yourself?  Even harder. But it’s essential to learn how to do it.

 Forgiveness

Research shows that clinging to bitter, resentful feelings about past events has a negative impact on your health, while letting go creates a number of health benefits. (As just one example: People who learn how to forgive unconditionally tend to have longer life spans than people who don’t. Unable to forgive? You could literally be shortening your life.)

 

It’s always the “right time” to let go, lighten your emotional load and move on. I noticed on a “special events” list that June 26 was Forgiveness Day. Maybe I’ll mark it in my calendar next year, but until then, here are three important lessons on forgiveness:

 

1. Remember that forgiving doesn’t mean “it’s totally cool if this happens again.”

 

You can forgive a partner for cheating on you, for example, while still making it clear that this behavior is not acceptable. You can forgive yourself for missing a deadline at work, while simultaneously taking action to make sure that you get back on track.

 

Many people are unwilling to forgive because they think that “forgiveness” is like issuing a free punch card to engage in inappropriate behavior again … and again … and again. It’s not.

 

Forgiveness means that you are choosing to let go of negative emotions that are burdening you, because you recognize that carrying this emotional weight is unhealthy and unhelpful. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean “This can happen again.

 

2. Remember that forgiving is a process, not a one-time deal.

 

If someone has hurt you, deeply, it’s unlikely that you will mull it over for five minutes and poof! You’re over it.

 

Think of it like carrying around a backpack full of heavy, unnecessary items. You might be able to unload a few items today, a few more tomorrow, a few more next week.

 

To accelerate the “unloading process,” try a forgiveness meditation, work with a psychologist, punch a pillow and cry, write a forgiveness letter (you don’t necessarily have to send it) or get inspired by true stories of incredible forgiveness and compassion.

 

Keep unloading, little by little, as best you can. You will feel progressively lighter and freer, and eventually, your backpack will be empty again.

 

3. Remember that forgiving is a gift from yourself, to yourself.

 

Many people think, “Why should I forgive so-and-so for such-and-such? They don’t deserve my forgiveness!

 

But what the other person “deserves” or “doesn’t deserve” is irrelevant. Forgiveness is a gift from yourself, to yourself.

 

When you forgive, you are choosing to engage in an act of courage and self-care that decreases your stress hormones, lowers your blood pressure, improves your immune system and lengthens your life. YOU deserve that.

 

Forgiveness is not always easy.

 

The greater the injustice, the more difficult it tends to be.

 

After all, it’s completely reasonable to feel angry when somebody does something hurtful or disrespectful. Especially if it’s a repeated offense. That is a natural human response.

 

But remember the wise words of the philosopher Plato: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

 

Everyone is dealing with “something.” Everyone is trying to make it through this complicated world. Nobody is perfect 100 percent of the time.

 

If you slip up, break a promise or let yourself down, do everything in your power to forgive, reset and move on.

 

The journey of life is already challenging enough without needing to load more weight onto your shoulders. You could be adding years to your life—beautiful, satisfying, healthy years. Years where your kids and loved ones will get to enjoy your company, simply by choosing to release emotions that don’t serve a long-term purpose.

 

Forgiveness is medicine. Take as much as you need.

 

Let go … and live well.

 

~ Dr. Sue

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How to care for yourself when your job is caring for others

A typical workday for me begins around 5 a.m. with a little exercise, then emails, patient
paperwork and, on most days, breakfast with my son. Around 8 a.m. I head into my clinicStones_Balanced_large at Catalyst Medical Center to begin a full day of patient appointments, surgeries, Botox and filler treatments and meetings with my
team.

After work? I have an occasional meeting, then dinner and some hangout time with Grant. It takes a while to convince Grant that bedtime really is a good idea, then we do our story ritual of “Magic Tree House.” When I climb into bed myself. I am thoroughly satisfied and proud, but also thoroughly wiped out.

It’s a full life, and that’s my choice.

Some weeks I manage to create a decent amount of time for rest and self-care. Other weeks, not so much.

It is definitely not easy to care for yourself when your life—and career—revolves around caring for others. This is a common conundrum for so many men and women that I know. And when you work in the medical world, as I do, things get even trickier.

I’m not a “master” of “balance” but I am continually tweaking my daily routine to try to plan more wisely, create pockets of time for myself, and avoid the dreaded “burn out.” Over the years, through trial and error, I’ve found a few strategies that really help.

Here are a few of my personal “self-care hacks” for exceptionally busy people who spend a lot of time caring for others:

Put it in writing. You mark a note on your calendar to schedule car repair appointments, job interviews, big events and important meetings, right? Give the same level of respect to your “self-care appointments.” If you say to yourself, “I intend to go to my water aerobics class twice this week,” you might be unlikely to actually do it. But if you mark the class times on your calendar, in writing, just like any other important appointment, deadline, or goal, you are 42 percent more likely to follow through.

Set yourself up for success. If it’s 10 minutes before your water aerobics class begins and you’re scrambling to find your swimsuit, gym bag, and car keys, it’s pretty unlikely that you’re going to make it. Try to employ the French principle of mise en place, meaning: “put in place.” In other words: get organized in advance!

Pack your gym bag the night before and store it in your car so that it’s right there, completely un-ignorable.

Do a big Sunday night cook-a-thon and prep dinners for the rest of the week so you’re not scrambling to whip something together at the end of your workday when you’re already tired.

I’ve recently discovered HelloFresh.com and have enjoyed having a bag with all the ingredients for a meal ready. With just a little chopping and cooking, I’ve had restaurant quality meals in 30 minutes.

If there are certain self-care practices you chronically skip or struggle to do (like getting enough sleep, exercising, eating well) ask yourself, “How could I plan better, and put everything in its place, to set myself up for success?

A little prep work will make it so much easier to stick to your plan.

Choose “big payoff” practices that don’t take much time. There are certain self-care practices that take practically no time at all but yield a big payoff in terms of the physical and psychological benefits you receive.

For example, it’s been shown that the simple act of breathing deeply can reduce your stress hormones, reduce pain levels, improve digestion, and strengthen your immune system. The benefits begin to kick in after just one long deep breath. No matter how busy you are, I guarantee you’ve got time for one deep breath. (Otherwise we might have an even more serious problem on our hands!)

A few “big payoff” ideas: try a 4-minute stretch break with yoga instructor Rodney Yee on YouTube. Or follow a 1-minute meditation video. Or try a “chocolate meditation” (yes, it’s a real thing!) where you dissolve a delicious piece of chocolate on your tongue, eyes closed, paying close attention to the sensations in your body until the chocolate dissipates. (I need to try this. I can already envision a new sign for my office door: “Do Not Disturb: Meditation In Process.“)

It’s taken awhile to figure them out, but the strategies I just shared have really helped me to take better care of myself, even when I’m operating on a tight “time budget.”

The irony, of course, is that the more care I give to myself, the more energy I am able to pour into my work and give to the people I love. I’ll try to remember that the next time I am feeling a bit frazzled and overextended.

And on that note, I think it’s definitely time for a “chocolate meditation.”

~ Dr. Sue

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Why you need to take a vacation even if you “don’t have the time” – and how to make it happen.

Some folks say that July 4 is the pinnacle of the summer, and that it’s a fast, slippery slope toward back-to-school night from here on out. I’d say there’s plenty of time to enjoy the sunshine and warmth, but you have to be intentional and make some plans.

 Yellowstone

Here’s a sad, though not particularly surprising statistic:

 

Many Americans take 10 days of vacation per year or less. That’s a piddly amount compared to our global-friends in countries like Brazil (41 days a year) and Austria (38).

 

So, there’s not a lot of time to recharge our physical and mental batteries, even if you love your job.

 

Is it any wonder that 70% of Americans take prescription drugs to manage physical and emotional issues? Or that 33% of our population is considered obese? We are overworking and exhausted, with little free time to pursue passions outside of work – not to mention: eat well and exercise consistently.

 

As a physician, this is heartbreaking. But as a business owner and service provider with an exceptionally full schedule, I know the struggle all too well. It is not easy to “make time” for fun, pleasure, and relaxation, no matter how badly we crave it!

 

Taking 40+ days off this year, Brazilian style, might not be realistic for you. But even taking a mini-vacation or a stay-cation in your own hometown is better than nothing at all. Consider it a wise investment in your health and longevity.

 

Here are my tips on how to plan a much-needed vacation for yourself this year, even if you’re extremely pressed for time:

 

Block out the time – even if it’s not much. Whether you’re going to be on vacation for one day, a weekend, a week, or more, mark the time on your calendar right now. Make it official. Just saying, “Oh, I will definitely head to the lake this summer!” is not enough. Block out the specific time frame in advance.

 

Commit with your whole heart. Treat this vacation time like a precious commitment — just like an urgent doctor’s appointment or your best friend’s wedding. Start thinking about it as an event that you cannot skip. Non-negotiable downtime. Required self-care.

 

Choose a passion. Use this vacation time as an opportunity to pursue a passion or interest that you’ve always wanted to explore. Painting, weight lighting, yoga, tai chi, cooking, writing. Dedicate this vacation to learning, exploring and expanding your world, even if you’re going to be right in your hometown.

 

Cement a new habit. Another smart idea: use your vacation as an opportunity to start cementing a healthy new habit in your life — like going to bed earlier, drinking more water, or moving every hour instead of sitting all day. Without your usual responsibilities and distractions surrounding you, this will (probably!) be easier to do. Then, hopefully, you can bring this good new habit back home with you. (The best kind of “souvenir!”)

 

Don’t pack “shame” in your carry on bag. So often, people step into their vacations burdened with guilt and shame. (“Should I have brought the kids?” “Ugh, I didn’t finish that one project at work before I left.” “Maybe I should check my email to make sure nothing’s blowing up…”) Leave those emotions on the curb before you board your plane, train or automobile. You deserve to rest deeply and replenish yourself. If you spend your entire vacation worrying, you’re not going to get the kind of rest you need. You’ll return home frazzled instead of recharged — and that’s not helpful to you, your family, your colleagues, or anyone else!

 

Taking a vacation has been linked to a huge array of benefits — improved mental health, a lower risk of heart disease, heightened productivity, closer relationships.

 

So, break out the tiny drink umbrellas, sunscreen, swimsuit, magazines, hiking gear, or whatever says “playtime!” to you…and give yourself this gift.

 

At the end of your life, you might regret working excessively (even if you love your job). But you will never regret moments spent traveling, playing, connecting with loved ones, pursuing passions, or exploring new corners of your city, state, or the world.

 

We’re going on a road trip to Yellowstone. I haven’t been there since I was 13 and can’t wait to experience it through my son Grant’s eyes.

 

Vacation time? No longer “optional.”

 

Make the time and make it happen.

 

Doctor’s orders.

 

~ Dr. Sue

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Ask. Listen. Learn. Love. How to interview your parents, capture their stories and make memories.

We celebrated Father’s Day in grand style last weekend with a wonderful lunch at the new Porter Creek restaurant, flowers, candy and a card. 7 year old Grant all on his own found the perfect card for his dad, with a reference about having a relaxing day and a joke
about snoring! We also bought cards for my dad, Grandpa Mark and my late father-in-law Grandpa Howard. Grant also selected some flowers for his grave.

Son Interviewing Father

When my grandparents passed away and my father-in-law passed away and I found myself thinking, “I wish I had known them better.”

I wish I knew more stories about them, stories I could pass along to my son Grant.

I wish I had asked deep, thoughtful questions a little more often.

I wish I had recorded them speaking, just to preserve the sound of their voices.

Now it’s too late, and quite honestly, I regret it.

Parents get some well-deserved attention on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but it’s important to celebrate moms and dads on the other 363 days of the year, too.

One beautiful idea:

Sit down with one (or both) of your parents, a pad of paper, and a voice recorder app, and interview them for an hour. (Or more).

Try to ask questions you’ve never asked before, or haven’t asked for a long time.

Questions that dive below surface level.

Questions like:

– What is one of the biggest challenges that you’ve had to overcome? How did you do it?

– What was the world like when you were very young? What do you remember?

– What were some of your favorite things to do when you were a teenager?

– How did you meet [mom / dad]? How did you know that you were in love?

– What kinds of careers did you consider pursuing, or dream about pursuing, when you were a kid?

– What matters most in life? What doesn’t really matter?

– What’s something you often worried about when you were younger that you don’t worry about anymore?

– What is something you regret?

– What is something you will never regret?

Encourage your mom or dad to share how certain events felt — revealing emotional details, not just facts and dates. Record their stories. Get them transcribed. If you like, you can turn the transcription into a beautiful “legacy book” — complete with photos and scanned images of handwritten letters, receipts, newspaper clippings, recipes, and other pieces of history — for yourself, your kids, and future generations.

Need inspiration? Listen to exquisite, vulnerable recordings of conversations between ordinary people (mothers, fathers, kids, friends) at the StoryCorps website.

Want more questions? Use TableTopics cards to spark conversation around the family dinner table.

Ready to print? Add a few pictures, get your book formatted, then bound in softcover or hardcover and shipped to your doorstep using a self-publishing service like Lulu or Blurb.

Want some professional writing, editing, or design help? The folks at Echo Memoirs specialize in producing beautiful, professional-quality family legacy books.

All too often, parents pass away and we feel like we “never really knew them.” Don’t let that happen. Create the time to connect deeply, listen, and learn.

Walk with me for a while, my friend you in my shoes, I in yours and then let us talk. ?Richelle E. Goodrich

Sit, share a cup of tea with a loved one, and let the stories begin…

~ Son Interviewing FatherDr. Sue

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15 things to do when you’re sick, injured or stuck at home

I hurt my knee last week and struggled though my clinic day, limping and grimacing.

Checking List

The good news is a little bit of rest, ice and Aleve did the trick, and I was back at it
Monday, zipping (almost) from room to room.

But I’ll admit, I did worry that I might need a knee scope and would be out for a few days. At first I stressed out. Then I fantasized for a few minutes about what I might do with forced leisure time, a “get well soon” list. You could do a few of these on a snow day next winter, too.

  1. Reorganize the inside of your fridge. (I don’t know why, but this is so incredibly satisfying!)
  1. Use your downtime as an opportunity to upgrade your diet. Your body needs high-quality foods to heal faster! This could be the perfect time to start experimenting with green smoothies, Paleo breakfast bowls, Chia pudding or even something as simple as sprinkling some walnuts or flax seeds on top of your green salad. Pack in those nutrients!
  1. Ask friends and family members to add their favorite books, songs, movies and TV shows to a public (or private) Google document. Build an epic list of things to watch, listen to and read during your recovery, curated with love.
  1. Choose seven people that you’d like to reconnect with, or get to know better, and write one letter per day, to a new person each day for a week. There’s something so soothing about writing a handwritten note. (Receiving one is rare and amazing, too!)
  1. Exercise, slowly and safely, to the best of your abilities, even if it’s just stretching in bed or rolling out your sore muscles on a foam roller. Even mild, gentle exercise will boost your endorphins and immune system and help you heal faster.
  1. Watch the most inspiring TED Talks of all time. Feeling creative? Outline your own TEDx Talk and practice delivering it to an audience of one (your cat or spouse, perhaps). Someday soon, perhaps you will feel ready for the main stage.
  1. Get a massage. A good massage can alleviate anxiety, lower your blood pressure, soothe sore muscles and tension headaches and much more. Some insurance providers will even cover part (or all) of the cost for certain types of injuries and issues. Call your provider to find out.
  1. If you are feeling lonely or isolated, host a storytelling night in your home. Invite loved ones over for a potluck (bonus, you won’t have to cook much) and have everyone take turns answering one question, like, “What’s been the toughest part of your year so far, and how did you overcome that challenge?” or, for a lighter twist, “What’s been the best part of your week so far?
  1. Make a “grown-up list” — a list of all of those grown-up, responsible things you’ve been meaning to do for a long time but keep putting off. Like cleaning your bathtub. Or renewing your fishing license. Or buying more postage stamps. You don’t necessarily have to “do” everything (or anything) on your list right now, but organizing your thoughts and getting it all down on paper will still feel good.
  1. Get some sunshine. Sunlight helps your body heal by stimulating the production of white blood cells, which boost your immune system. If you’re healing after breaking a bone, good news: Your body produces more vitamin D after being exposed to sunlight, and vitamin D is what allows your body to absorb calcium — essential for bone health.
  1. Master the ultimate chicken noodle soup recipe. Or make a big vat of bone broth — a rich broth made by simmering bones for multiple days, rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other minerals that your body craves. (Pro tip from a chef I know: Add some miso, kombu and dashi to your bone broth in the final hour of simmering for a yummy Asian-inspired twist. Not into those flavors? Add a big handful of fresh parsley and basil and just a hint of salt for an Italian-inspired broth.)
  1. Indulge in some extra-special deliveries and TLC. Our local grocery stores deliver for a very small fee. In some cities, you can use Taskrabbit to find a housekeeper, organizer or handy fix-it guy or gal. Outsource an administrative project that’s weighing heavily on your shoulders through HireMyMom. Order dinner through Grubhub. Help is readily available. Seek it out, with zero guilt!
  1. Detox your inbox. Unsubscribe from all of those newsletters you never read (try Unroll.me for a one-click solution). Create an “out of office” email auto-responder to let people know that you’re recuperating and might be slower to respond than usual. Give yourself permission to unplug and check out. If there was ever a time to take a “digital sabbatical,” it’s now!
  1. Learn how to meditate. Try a free guided meditation online, and if you enjoy it, try a meditation tip of the day. If you’re dealing with pain, try Jon Kabat-Zinn’s wonderful meditations for pain relief. Got a short attention span when it comes to meditation? Try this one-minute meditation for a quick mind-body shift.
  1. Help someone less fortunate. It can be so difficult to stay positive and maintain a healthy sense of perspective when you’re dealing with pain or physical limitations, but the reality is, no matter how icky you currently feel, it could probably be much worse. This quote says it all: “There are people who would love to have your bad days.

See if there is a way you can reach out and lift somebody else’s spirits, even if it’s just with a text, an email or leaving a loving comment on someone’s blog.

If it’s within your capabilities, volunteer your time or make a charitable donation to a service organization, like Dakota Medical Foundation’s Lend A Hand, helping those in medical crisis.

Committing an act of generosity, big or small, will lift your mood and help you feel better, every time.

Take good care of yourself. Get well soon.

~ Dr. SueChecking List

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What is growing in the garden of your mind?

Did ever grow anything in the Garden of your Mind?

You can grow ideaspeony 2

In the Garden of your mind

 

It’s good to be curious about many things

You can think about things and make believe

All you have to do is think

And they’ll grow

~ Fred Rogers [listen to the song here]

The peonies are in full bloom and the community garden done by Farm In The Dell is already looking gorgeous with neat rows of seedlings growing before my eyes. We have basil and thyme in pots and Grant will try to train Luke the Cuke to grow in a patio pot.

But regardless of the color of your thumbs, green or black, Mr. Rogers reminds us that we’ve all got gardening to do. Are we growing ideas and thoughts like beautiful veggies and flowers, or weeds in the garden of our minds?

We’ve come to realize that our minds are a very powerful force and thoughts warrant tending. Unfortunately we are programmed to have automatic negative thoughts (ANTs- how appropriate) so it takes mindfulness and intention to overcome them.

Your mindset, not your environment or other external circumstances, is ultimately what determines the quality of your life.

If you focus on the beauty in a particular situation, even a challenging one, that beauty is magnified.

If you focus on the darkness of a particular situation, that darkness is magnified.

There’s an old saying, “We teach the lessons that we need to learn,” and for me, that’s always been very true.

Though I am quite a few birthdays older than my son, I am still learning how to master the art of positive thinking.

Still learning how to fill “the garden of my mind” with positively beautiful thoughts.

Still learning how to nourish those thoughts so they can grow.

One question that helps me tremendously — especially when I’m faced with a distressing or challenging scenario — is simply asking myself:

What is working here?

Maybe my workday at the medical center didn’t go exactly as planned. Flexibility and grace under pressure are an art to be practiced!  But I still managed to help several patients look and feel better — and I even made one crack a smile in the midst of a procedure. That’s a big checkmark in the “win” column.

Maybe Grant is being a bit cranky or refusing to eat his dinner. But then he says something so unbelievably wise, funny and observant, my little philosopher inside a seven-year-old body! — and I can’t stop smiling at his perspective.  Another check in the “win” column.

There are so many opportunities, every day, to focus on what is working — what is good, meaningful, precious, and beautiful — rather than what is not working.

Wherever you invest your focus, that is what grows.

What is working in your life right now?

Keep placing your focus there.

As Mister Rogers reminds us, you can grow new ideas in the garden of your mind.

All you have to do is think

And they’ll grow

Dr. Sue

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Drowning Doesn’t Look or Sound Like Drowning

Despite gray skies and cooler temperatures drowningon Memorial Day Weekend, Grant and I christened the summer and went to the pool. We were the only ones there, but the lifeguard came out of the pool house and sat with eagle eyes watching him swim and jump off the diving board.

Even though, I was watching too, I was thankful for the lifeguard’s attention. Drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 14, behind motor vehicle crashes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

A lapse in adult supervision is thesingle, most importantfactor in child drowning deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

But even if a lifeguard is on duty, drowning can occur so quickly, and so silently, that a swimmer can die before anyone notices. The CDC says that 50% of drowning deaths occur within 25 yards of a parent or other adult, and that in 10% of cases, a bystander watched the drowning with no idea it was happening.

Why? Because drowning doesn’t look or sound like “drowning.” There is no splashing, yelling waving or calling for help. “Drowning is often silent,” says Mario Vittone, a water safety expert and a former U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer.

As a parent, I’ve learned that quiet in the house is usually a sign that there is mischief going on… the furniture gets decorated with markers, chocolate syrup makes lovely designs on the carpet and once, Grant sported his new shaggy bangs look.

But around water, quiet can be deadly.

The best way to know if your child is OK is to ask: If they’re in trouble they most likely won’t be able to answer. They are too busy trying to breath and stay afloat.

The Instinctive Drowning Response—so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scenemagazine, suggests  being on the lookout for these signs of drowning when persons are in the water:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs—vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder
  • May be unable to reach out for an assistive device like a rope or life-ring.

The best prevention is swimming lessons and vigilance. Wherever kids are swimming in pools, backyards, lakes or rivers, an adult needs to be nearby and attentive.

One other part of this PSA article… Please keep your eyes on the men in your lives too.

Male drowning victims outnumber women 4 to 1. In the teen and young adult years, that number is 9 to 1.

Research presented at the 2011 World Conference on Drowning Prevention showed that each hour spent in water is two hundred times more likely to prove deadly than an hour cruising the highway.

Why? Men’s Health Magazine had some answers. Men are more likely to swim in oceans, lakes and rivers, which are 3 times more risky that pools. Men have a greater propensity to swim solo, at night, and in unguarded waters. Men tend to over-estimate their swimming prowess. Men tendAnd men tend to drink and swim. Over 50% of male drowning victims have elevated blood alcohol levels.

The moral of this story, have a great summer at the pool and lake. Keep everyone safe by teaching swimming and water safety, being very vigilant with eyes and ears, and by not taking risks.

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Beauty bullying: it’s got to stop.

“That outfit is totally inappropriate. Does she think she’s seventeen? Looks ridiculous.”

“I can’t believe she’s eating a donut. Has she looked in the mirror lately?”

“Wow. She’s going to the gym… again? She’s already so skinny. Talk about obsessive.”

“Looks like she got some ‘work’ done. How sad. She looks terrible.”

If there’s one thing that breaks my heart more than just about anything else, it’s seeing and hearing women cruelly pick apart and tear down other women.

It’s disturbingly common. Even women who are usually gracious, spiritually centered and kind can slip into this kind of vicious gossip around a brunch table. Especially when the mimosas are flowing… and the victim of this cruel banter is out of earshot.

We see it in the news as female political candidates are judged by their hairstyle and size of their ankles. There was lots of “talk” about Princess Kate because she dared to put a little makeup on and brush her hair shortly after giving birth…. She was deemed “too beautiful” for a new mom. And don’t forget Fashion Police was one of the most popular shows on E! Network.

Why do we do it?

I’m a physician and surgeon, not a psychologist, but if I had to guess… I’d say that this kind of behavior is a reflection of deep insecurity.

When you feel fearful, resentful or powerless, it’s much easier to tear somebody else down than it is to face what is not working in your own life.

Making comments other people can (temporarily) make you feel more virtuous and powerful.

Part of the problem is the beauty paradox that has become part of our generational story. Vivian Diller, PhD, describes the “beauty paradox” as the predicament created by two incompatible messages:

Message 1: Deny. Your looks shouldn’t matter. If they do, don’t let anyone know. Stay true to your real self. Let your looks take their natural course as you age.

Message 2: Defy. Your looks should matter, and don’t you forget that. Buy wrinkle creams, work out at the gym, and defy aging at whatever cost, in any way you can. Oh, and be sure to make it look natural.
 
These contradictory messages foster and inflame these deep insecurities we have about our looks and are part of the reason for the comments.

But understanding the reason doesn’t make it right. The comments are mean-spirited and cruel. But we can learn to navigate this paradox and come up with a definition and an expression of beauty that empowers us: Not too much, not too little,  but just right.

Beauty bullying means criticizing other women because their definition of “beautiful” is different from yours.

We’ve got to put an end to this kind of behavior, and we all play a role in making it stop.
We teach our kids about kindness and being accepting of others as we shine the light on bullying in school and online.

We need to shine the light on beauty bullying as well. Light is the cure for darkness.

If one of your friends is beauty bullying… call her out as compassionately as possible. Say, “Hey, I don’t enjoy talking about other women. She has the right to dress, look, and behave however she wants, just like you and I do. Can we change the topic of conversation?”

If you catch yourself in the act of beauty bullying… stop. Say out loud to yourself and the group, “Whoa. What I just said was really cruel and unnecessary. I don’t want to talk about other women that way and I apologize for my snarkiness. Let’s talk about something else.”

If you are the victim of beauty bullying… let it go. Know that it has nothing to do with you — and everything to do with other people’s insecurities and unresolved emotional muck.

In certain situations — like if someone says something offensive directly to your face (“You’d look so much prettier without all of those tattoos…”) — you can choose to turn the situation into a “teaching moment,” if you want to.

You could respond, “Actually, I think I look beautiful just the way I am. I think you are beautiful, too.”

Or, “I love having the freedom to express myself however I want. It’s wonderful that you have that same freedom, too. We’re all allowed to have our own definition of ‘beautiful.’”

Imagine if every single woman on the planet took a pledge, today, to never engage in beauty bullying again.

That one pledge — that one choice — would create unimaginable shifts in our culture. Not only for women, today, but also for the next generation of girls growing up.

Repeat after me:

“I have the right to live, love, work, dress, enhance and adorn my body however I want — and so does every other woman in the world.”

May our love and mutual respect drown out the bullying voices.

May we all lift each other higher — instead of tearing each other apart.

~Dr. Sue

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Your guide to the ultimate power nap.

What do Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, nap in the shadeEleanor Roosevelt, Capuchin monks and top-performing military pilots and astronauts all have in common?

They are all proud, devout nappers!

While some people view napping as “lazy,” or something that’s only appropriate when you’re recovering from an illness, the truth is that taking a daily nap is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and well-being, mental clarity, and productivity.

To me a nap sounds like the ultimate guilty pleasure, rarely indulged. But after reviewing the research, I may have to reconsider!

Taking a nap is like plugging yourself into wall socket and recharging your batteries for the rest of the day. Need proof? A study at NASA on sleepy astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34%.

If you’d like to feel 34% more alert, energetic and productive for the rest of the day… read on. Your official guide to the ultimate power nap is right here.

– Time it right.

A high quality nap… is all about timing. Use Dr. Sara Mednick’s brilliant “Nap Wheel” to calculate the optimal time for your nap based on when you woke up and when you intend to go to bed.

Nap at this time and you’ll reach “a perfectly balanced state in which REM and slow-wave sleep are equally proportioned, and where The Ultimate Nap occurs.”

– Set the scene.

You don’t need a sleep researcher to tell you that napping is easier when you are comfortable! If you’re at home, draw the blinds to darken your room. Gather your favorite pillows and blankets. Invest in ear plugs and a light-blocking eye mask or some aromatherapy oils. Lavender is especially relaxing and nap-inducing.

– Quiet your mind.

If your mind is racing, write down whatever tasks or concerns are frittering around in your noggin. Or make a list of everything you intend to do once you wake up, if that’s helpful to you. (Personally, I’m always worried I will forget something important, so dumping everything into a list instantly alleviates some stress.)

Quiet your thoughts and remind yourself, “Everything on my to-do list will still be there when I wake up… and I’ll be much more alert and efficient. Everything will be easier after my nap!”

– Have a cup of coffee.

Surprised? It’s counter-intuitive, but having a cup of coffee immediately before settling down for a nap means that you’ll wake up extra-bright and bushy tailed.

Why? To quote this piece on The Huffington Post:

“It all boils down to body chemistry — specifically, to the competing effects of caffeine and adenosine, a drowsiness-inducing chemical compound that accumulates in your brain when you’re awake and dissipates as you sleep.

Caffeine’s alertness-boosting effect typically peaks about 30 minutes after the stimulant is consumed. So by sleeping for 20 or so minutes of those 30, you can reduce the amount of adenosine the caffeine has to compete with. And voila, the caffeine has a greater effect.”

Translation: a cup of coffee turns a power nap into a super-powered nap!

But this doesn’t give you carte blanche to chug triple-shot lattes all day long.

Try to ramp down your caffeine intake starting a few hours before you intend to take a nap so that you can relax. Then have a cup just before you close your eyes. That’s the ideal timing! And most of us should cut-off caffeine for good by mid-afternoon so that you can sleep well at night.

– Aim for 45 minutes or less.

There’s a bit of disagreement about how long the “perfect” power nap ought to be.

Most sleep researchers agree that a 10 – 20 minute nap can provide a measurable alertness and productivity boost.

Other studies suggest that a longer nap — about 45 minutes — can provide different kinds of benefits, including heightened creativity and problem solving abilities.

If you’ve got plenty of time, you could aim for a 90-minute nap, which will allow your body to move one complete sleep cycle, passing through all five phases of sleep. This means you’ll wake up feeling as rested as possible, instead of groggy and discombobulated.

My thoughts… Who has time for a 90-minute nap? You probably won’t be sleepy at your usual bedtime, which could throw your body and lifestyle out of whack. But everyone is different. Experiment with naps of different lengths to figure out what feels best for your body.

(Maybe, like the eccentric artist Salvador Dali, you will become obsessed with a “one second nap!” He swore by these micro-naps and believed they unlocked new depths of creative brilliance. Could be worth trying, at least once!)

“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”
— Barbara Jordan, American politician and Civil Rights movement leader

I could not agree more!

Even with a frantic schedule, could you plan for a short nap? You might just wake up refreshed and better equipped to tackle everything on your to-do list.

Whether you are flying a space ship, leading a civil rights march, working on a blog post, or finishing up a project at home, everything feels more doable after a nap!
 

~ Dr. Sue

Question of the day: what is the strangest place you’ve ever taken a nap?

(Me: At a club concert during college…I was soooo tired. I still remember the band Robots Raised In The Wild. My body needed it badly, and my friends didn’t mind that I snagged some spontaneous shut-eye. And the music was really bad, so I didn’t miss much!)

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