Health Trend: Activated Charcoal

 

Activated charcoal is the latest craze in face masks and for teeth whitening, and it’s being used in juice cleanses for overall detoxification. It is generally used in emergency rooms for patients who have ingested a poison, or maybe for your pet who has eaten something that they shouldn’t. It’s used in water filters to rid the water of toxins, so it should be great for detoxing your body, too, right?

Many people don’t know that there are risks involved in taking activated charcoal and side effects. Activated charcoal can reduce the absorption of certain drugs such as acetaminophen, digoxin, theophylline, and tricyclic antidepressants. Side effects include black stools, black tongue, vomiting and diarrhea, and constipation. It shouldn’t be combined with other drugs that are used for constipation such as sorbitol and magnesium citrate, as this can lead to electrolyte imbalances.

Since most of the newest products are topical such as face masks, there shouldn’t be many side effects to worry about. Those who use it orally on a long-term basis have to be careful. The capsules are sold in most grocery stores and it’s recommended to take two before and two after a meal to prevent gas and bloating. It can even be used rectally. Just make sure to tell your doctor about any other supplements you are taking, because it isn’t regulated by the FDA. If you have any success stories using activated charcoal, tell me in the comments!

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The Power of Attitude

We have all come in contact with those people who have a million excuses: they’re negative, complaining, and toxic. They have a poor attitude. They say “Woe is me, my life is so hard.” Sometimes it’s our friends, family, or co-workers. Sometimes it’s us!! After a while they drag you down to their level. This has happened to me numerous times, and maybe I’ve done it to others.

Attitude is everything and affects every setback and obstacle we face. Situations, obstacles, and problems are just situations, problems, or obstacles. They aren’t good or bad, they just are. It’s how we cope with such situations that turns them either good or bad. We can turn every negative into a positive with the right attitude, positive vibe, or flow.

I’m working on my positive attitude right now, and not letting my subconscious mind drag me down. I’m managing my thoughts and turning any negative thought into a positive one. Don’t watch the sad news and be dragged down by the negativity. Face everyday with enthusiasm, passion, motivation, and determination to have a positive attitude. When faced with anything or anyone that’s negative, turn it around with a positive attitude. Think big and loud. Feel content and satisfied, and you’ll be surprised at how fast your life will change!

The Stress Response

Last week at work I was dealing with a difficult situation. A patient wanted to make a complaint about me, personally, and even though there was nothing to it, I still felt an enormous amount of stress. I remember going into the bathroom and watching the hives break out on my neck and creep up my face. This happened one other time in nursing school, so badly that I had to leave clinical early and go to the doctors, afraid I was having an allergic reaction.

Now I know that when I break out in hives it really is my body telling me that I’m under stress. It’s kind of embarrassing that anyone who notices can point it out and say, “What’s that? Did you use some kind of new lotion or laundry detergent?…” Anyway, I tried to hide it underneath my shirt, pulling it up as far as it would go, but it was still pretty noticeable. I took a deep breath and left the bathroom to go face the patient and the rest of my shift. I still had about 3 to 4 hours left of an already bad day.

As a nurse, I think it’s important to realize the stress reaction is happening before it gets too out of hand. This is the point when you can say or do something you regret, because of the pressure. I discovered that there is now a tracker you can wear, like a FitBit, called Spire. It measures respirations and tells you if you are feeling tense. It can tell you when you need to take a break or meditate. I feel like this would be a good reminder for me, as I am always going about 100mph at work. Health professionals recommend Spire for their clients, but what about for us? If you’ve tried Spire or something like this let me know in the comments!

Change One Daily Habit, Change Your Life

Daily routines can be good, as I’ve pointed out before. Routines can give you a purpose and create meaning in your life. But what is that one habit that might be holding you back from being your best version of yourself? This is something you might do every day that gives you comfort but isn’t healthy for you in the long run. Maybe you are really good about eating breakfast, but it is not the best choice (like a muffin, bagel, or anything that resembles dessert).

For me, it was taking a nap in the afternoon when I didn’t have to work. Recently, I stopped taking an afternoon nap and I feel like I have more energy. I can get more done, and I also fall asleep easier at night. I’ve started working out instead of taking a nap, and breaking this one habit has helped me lose some pounds and feel healthier. One thing often leads to another to create a lifelong change. Sustaining that change is hard when you want to slip back into those old habits. Work to create healthy habits that make you feel so good that you won’t want to ever go back to the way you were! Take before and after pictures to help you stay motivated. Meditate when stress is getting to you (if you are able) to fight the urge to give in to cravings. Find out what your daily habit is that is holding you back, and figure out how to change it!

The Problem with “Body Positivity”

The new “body positive” movement, and “healthy at any size” mantras may make people feel good about themselves, but it won’t help them live any longer. The people who are angling for fat acceptance may not realize what kind of health problems they will face down the road. As a nurse, a lot of my patients are in their 30s and 40s, overweight, and have all the co-morbidities that go along with it. I don’t think they will make it to 70 or 80, and if they do, it won’t be an easy road.

The healthcare system is already burdened with those morbidly obese patients who drain the precious resources of the staff who must care for them. I remember a remark one of my techs made about an obese patient, stating that “she is literally killing us.” Every time this patient had to be repositioned, or put on the bedpan, or have a dressing changed for her bedsores, it took 4 staff people off the floor. That was time taken away from other patients who may be more critical. Not only that, but imagine how the patient felt that she was totally dependent on others for all of her care.

Most of the adult patients I see in the hospital suffer from chronic diseases that could have been easily prevented with a few lifestyle changes. Among the obvious: don’t drink or eat to excess, don’t smoke, and exercise on a regular basis to maintain a healthy body weight. By all means stay active as long as you can, into your 60s and 70s if possible. A healthy body weight will take stress off of your joints and go a long way toward improving your overall health!

 

Your Beliefs Create Your Reality

The past few weeks have been very stressful for me at work. I haven’t written anything in a while, being in the process of moving and taking a short vacation. I’m happy to announce that I will be trained for a charge nurse position at work, but unfortunately with this new role and position has come a lot of animosity from fellow co-workers who believe that the promotion should be theirs. This had made it hard to even face these people at work without a sense of anxiety. I feel like a “clique” is forming and I’m being ostracized.

Remember that whatever happens to you in life happens for a reason, good or bad. If you believe that you are worthy and your thoughts reflect that, good things will happen. If you believe that you are not worthy, or think, “I can’t do that,” then you won’t be able to do that which you don’t believe. Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right. Believe that you can, and you will.

I will make myself stronger, and go to work without fear. If I have fear of these people, they will control me. I won’t get sucked in by these toxic co-workers, I will rise above.

Financial Wellness

An often-overlooked category of health is the subject of financial wellness. As nurses, we work hard for the money so it’s very important to get the most out of our paychecks. According to a study by Fidelity, more than half of nurses lack confidence in making financial decisions. This is surprising, and not good for our own health because finances can cause stress and anxiety.

My employer offers classes on investing, home ownership, savings, and retirement. This is a great place to start if your employer offers this benefit. Guidance is an important part of financial wellness, and since there are so many products and investments out there, getting educated is a good first step. Sit down with a financial advisor or even your bank representative to discuss your needs when it comes to spending, saving, and investing for the future. Remember, do something today for which your future self will thank you, and you’ll be on the road to financial wellness.

Stretching

We tell our patients to perform range-of-motion exercises to increase their flexibility and better perform activities of daily living. Yet, during the course of a shift, I find myself getting tight muscles from stress, bending down too much (and too far), and just feeling like I need to do a big stretch. That’s why I take my own advice and stretch out during the day at work. I slip off my shoes and stretch out my feet with some plantar fasciitis-preventing stretches. If I’m sitting at my computer and charting for more than 15 minutes I’ll usually reach up to the sky and do a big stretch. It feels really good!

Stretching may sound mundane and boring, but it can help prevent injury, and improve your circulation and overall health. It also helped me with my plantar fasciitis. The pain didn’t go away completely, but it was better than it had been. Loosen up your muscles with at least 10 minutes of stretching a day, and you’ll be surprised by the results.

Eating Less and Intermittent Fasting

Yes, it’s hard, and it sucks, but it really does work! People say to me “You look like you’re losing weight, what’s your secret?” Oh, I tell them, I just stopped eating… “Okay, but I was looking for something easy to do!”

When I started my weight loss journey a few months ago, I thought it was hard, too. I told myself I wasn’t going to give up. Since February, I’ve been using something called The Venus Factor in preparation for a beach vacation. It’s designed for women so they understand you can’t eat as much as a man. Based on your height, you can eat a certain amount of calories per day for 6 days, then get one “maintenance” day where you can eat more calories. This changes after two weeks and you get an extra “maintenance” day. I was surprised how fast I lost the weight, combined with the strength training exercises provided.

Another important aspect is to not eat anything for 12 to 14 hours from dinner to breakfast the next day. It makes a huge difference! If you eat dinner at 6pm, don’t eat again until at least 6am the next day. This is hard to do at first, but when you become more mindful of the time you are eating it will become a habit.

Yes, it was hard to eat only about 1100 calories a day for almost two weeks, but worth it! Now it’s hard to even try to overeat, since my habits have changed so much. Really, not eating as much is the key! Keep track of your calories with the myfitnesspal app, if you have self-discipline you will be amazed at the results!

 

Get Creative

Is there something that you love to do that helps you to express yourself? Whether it’s playing music, doing a craft, or writing a blog (lol), it’s important to get your creative juices flowing. Being a little more creative can increase your critical thinking in other areas. Music helps to bridge both sides of your brain and studies show that studying music increases critical thinking skills. Writing also increases critical thinking skills, which is necessary to be a great nurse.  I love playing music and writing, but also baking or doing a craft. Whatever you do everyday, get creative!