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5-minute stress busters

Getty Images

Getty Images

By Allison Avery

Let's be honest: Sometimes a day at work is just no fun, and the stress starts to take its toll. Your heart races, you break out in hives or a sweat, or you have a headache from all that silent screaming. Next time, try to head off that stress attack with these calming tricks from Kathleen Hall, PhD, founder and CEO of The Stress Institute.

Serenity break
Take time to tune out. Listen to your favorite music (bonus points if you have an office that allows you to sing or hum along, which increases the calming benefits). Trigger your own slide show of favorite photos. Some people also find that it's very soothing to meditate, practice relaxed breathing, or repeat a mantra, such as "All is well in my life," Hall says. If all else fails, dab calming lavender aromatherapy oil on your pulse points. Which stress-busting gadgets really work?

The best medicine
Remember the time you laughed so hard with your best friend that you almost peed your pants? Stop what you're doing for a few minutes and relive a moment like that in your mind. Or, if you've had a less-than-comedic life lately, get your giggles at a joke Web site like or watch a Web cam at a doggy day care center.

Make a connection
With everything you have going on in your superbusy life, chances are you don't take time to stay in touch with your friends as well as you should. Schedule a few minutes to e-mail a pal and update her on your life. The act of feeling connected to someone will instantly calm you when the going gets rough.

Release endorphins
Keep some five- or eight-pound weights under your desk, so you can do some light lifting when things start to get heavy at work. Or try our at-your-desk stretches.

Write it down
Journaling is a great way to not only get those negative emotions out but also disconnect for a few minutes, Hall says. Your journal can be anything you want—typed or hand-written, or even drawn.

Sleep on it
The Spanish have reaped the benefits of midday siestas for years. Now it's your turn. "Recent research has found that napping may reduce your risk of death from heart attack and increase productivity, alertness, and concentration," says William Anthony, PhD, a psychologist and researcher at Boston University and author of The Art of Napping at Work. Even if your office doesn't encourage midday snoozing (yes, some enlightened employers offer napping rooms), close your door, slip on an eye mask, and put your head on your desk for five or ten minutes. "Nobel Prize winners, presidents, top scientists, and athletes all nap," according to Anthony, whose survey of several thousand people found that 70 percent nap on the job (though 70 percent of thosepeople do it on the sly). Pros and cons of napping

Change your mind
Take a mental break with a game of solitaire or sudoku. "Play can be very powerful," Hall says, "because it can take your mind off of work." 7 tricks for instant calm

Time for tea
Skip your Starbucks run and have a cup of tea when you find yourself in a 4 p.m. tizzy or slump. Every time we turn around, there's another report that black, white, and green teas can do everything from warding off cancer and heart disease to boosting metabolism.

Easy Ways to Add More Veggies to Your Diet

By: Charles Stuart Platkin

Research substantiates the claim that populations who consume plant-based diets have less chronic disease, such as hardening of the arteries, heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, and obesity, says Anne VanBeber, PhD, RD, a nutrition professor at Texas Christian University. In addition, plants contain vital health-promoting compounds in the form of pigments, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that reduce the onset of disease.

There's no need for everyone to become a strict vegetarian, but we all could benefit from eating a little more vegetables. Here, 10 ways to increase your veggie consumption in your diet.

#1: Join Something

Look into a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) where you support a local farm and get shares of the produce. Or look for an organic buying club. Visit for more information. Related: 10 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds

#2: Grow It

Use part of your yard to plant a vegetable garden. You'd be surprised at how many types you can grow. Also, look into starting a community vegetable garden on unused or abandoned plots.Related: Quick Ways to Start Eating Healthier

Here are a few Web sites to get you started:
  • A family-owned gardening and seed company that's been around since 1876.
  • Seeds in unique packets, including watercolor illustrations and planting instructions. Also sells organic seeds.
  • Provides quality natural and organic products, including fertilizers, seeds, and gardening equipment.
#3: Chop It Up and Have It Ready

Cut up vegetables such as onions, broccoli, peppers, and asparagus in advance. Put them in pre-portioned baggies and store them in the fridge. Related: 400-Calorie Lunch Recipes

#4: Buy Prewashed and Precut Veggies

Get bags of prewashed lettuce (try for organic), broccoli and cauliflower florets, or precut mixed vegetables. Check out the salad bar to stock up on other precut veggies. Yes, this can be more expensive, but it still costs less (and is a lot healthier) than fast food. Also, get veggies that don't require much preparation, such as baby carrots, celery, and cherry tomatoes. Related: Healthy Foods to Add to Your Diet

#5: Put Them in Front

Most people put their vegetables out of sight in the crisper drawer of the fridge to keep them fresher longer. But you can forget you have them, which defeats the purpose. Keep your cut-up vegetables out in the open in the main part of the refrigerator for fast, crunchy, healthful snacks. They're also great for making a quick salad, tossing into soups and omelets, or sauteing with garlic. Related:The Healthiest Foods from the Grocery Store

#6: Buy Garlic and Fresh Herbs and Spices

Learn how to cook your vegetables with flavor. Seek out fresh herbs such as basil, dill, and parsley, and spices such as oregano, salt, pepper, curry powder, cumin, and -- most of all -- fresh chopped garlic. Not only does garlic make vegetables taste amazing, it's an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of vitamins B6 and C, and a good source of selenium. Chopping garlic releases the enzyme that activates its phytochemicals. Cooking it too much, however, destroys that enzyme, so chop garlic and let it rest for about 10 minutes while you prepare other ingredients, then add it toward the end of the cooking process. Related: Low-Cal Cookout Recipes

#7: Experiment with Your Food

Buy frozen veggies. It's not fresh or nothing. Frozen vegetables retain most of their nutrients, so they're an alternative for people who have trouble keeping their fridge stocked with fresh. Look for frozen spinach, bell peppers, asparagus, peas, broccoli, mixed vegetables, and green beans. Eat Chinese or Indian, but make sure that you order your veggies steamed, and get brown rice. Make a big pot of delicious veggie soup. It's easy. Related: Our Best Salad Recipes

Green Tip: Make Your Own Toothpaste

Written by Melanie Kozlan, Four Green

Here's a fun way to avoid the chemicals and artificial sweeteners in regular toothpaste: Make your own! Not only is it better for you but it will also save you money, as well as save toothpaste tubes from littering overcrowded landfills. It might sound crazy but is actually incredibly easy and quick to make!

 In an airtight container mix together:

  • 3 drops of peppermint oil
  • 3 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons of glycerin (available at most drugstores)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt

*Not a fan of peppermint? Substitute cinnamon, or combine the two for a unique flavor.

Other Green tips for brushing your teeth:

  • Choose a toothbrush made from recycled material.
  • Don't let the water run or waste more water than you need.

6 Health Secrets from Around the Globe

Photo: Dan Saelinger

Photo: Dan Saelinger

By Dr. Mehmet Oz

From the Japanese to the Russians, the Greeks to the Kuna Indians of Panama, every culture has its own secrets to better health and longer life. These traditional remedies and practices—like drinking a calming herbal tea or cooking with a particular spice—might seem inconsequential, but researchers are discovering that these little things can make a world of difference. Try importing these six habits, all worth bringing home.

RELATED: 6 Health Myths, Busted

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock


The Secret
Harvard professor Norman Hollenberg, MD, PhD, has spent years studying the Kuna, an indigenous tribe on the San Blas Islands who drink five cups or more of unprocessed cocoa a day. He discovered that compared with residents of mainland Panama, who generally drink nutrient-poor grocery store cocoa, the islanders' risk of cancer, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease is reduced to less than 10 percent. They can likely thank cocoa's flavonoids, powerful antioxidants with a host of cardiovascular benefits.

The Prescription
For a heart-healthy beverage, stir a touch of honey and a tablespoon of pure cocoa powder (flavonoids are often removed from processed powders) into a cup of warm milk.

RELATED: Find the Most Flattering Swimsuit for Your Body Type

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock


The Secret
The Japanese live longer than almost anyone else on the planet—and this may be largely because their country has one of the lowest obesity rates in the world. One of their tricks for calorie control is a cultural practice known as hara hachi bu, which means eating until you feel about 80 percent full. At that point, your stomach is likely 100 percent full; your brain just doesn't know it yet.

The Prescription
Try to chew your food 20 times before you swallow. Slowing the pace of your eating makes it easier to recognize that 80 percent full feeling. 

RELATED: The "Wait" Loss Program: Why Eating Slowly Will Help You Lose Weight

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock


The Secret
Golden root, or Arctic root (a.k.a. Rhodiola rosea)—an herb that grows at high elevations in the harsh environs of the Arctic region—is a traditional Russian remedy used to treat ailments ranging from infections and altitude sickness to depression and nervous system disorders. The extremely resilient plant is known to be an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body adapt to stressors; scientific studies indicate that it can indeed boost endurance and mood while lessening stress and fatigue.

The Prescription:
Pick up the root at a natural foods store and use it to brew a cup of tea whenever you need to de-stress.

RELATED: Dr. Oz's 7 Ways to Reduce Stress

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock


The Secret
The Dutch ride bicycles as a form of everyday transportation. Almost one-third of all trips are made on two wheels, and each citizen pedals an average of 1.5 miles per day. A 2010 statistical review of Dutch drivers found that they'd live up to 14 months longer by switching to cycling for short trips on a daily basis, thanks to the extra exercise.

The Prescription
Cycle to work a few times a week, run errands on your bike, or just go for a joy ride. We know that 30 minutes of this kind of moderate physical activity at least three times a week can slash your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

RELATED: The Summer Shoe Threat-O-Meter: How Dangerous Are Your Sandals?

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock


The Secret
A large percentage of Indian meals contain curry powder, and curry contains turmeric—a spice that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Now research shows that turmeric may help prevent Alzheimer's disease because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action and immune-boosting properties—all of which may help to block or remove plaque from the brain. It's not surprising that one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer's ever reported was found in northern India.

The Prescription
Incorporate more vegetable and chicken curry dishes into your diet—at least one a week. And go heavy on the turmeric.

RELATED: 4 Exotic Grains That Can Improve Your Health

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock


The Secret
A 2007 study of more than 23,000 Greek adults may have revealed a surprising key to their legendary vigor—the siesta. Compared with those who power through the day, adults who nap for a minimum of 30 minutes at least three times a week have a 37 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease.

The Prescription
If your work schedule doesn't allow you to pencil in a snooze, nap on weekends—every little bit helps.

RELATED: Doctors Reveal Their Secrets for Sleeping Well

User Post: Holier Than Thou - Non-Smokers Need to Chill

This is a true story: My smoker boyfriend was in between classes on his college campus one day, and needed a cigarette. His campus prohibits smoking in certain areas, so not only did my boyfriend go to one of the "smoking OK" areas of campus, he even went the extra mile to pick a bench with nobody around so his smoke wouldn't disturb anyone. 

What happened? A couple walked up, while he was sitting there smoking, and sat down at the bench next to him. After a few minutes, the man loudly proclaimed to his girlfriend: "This smoke is so annoying, let's get out of here so we don't have to smell HIS smoke" and shot my boyfriend a dirty look.

Um, seriously? THEY sat down next to HIMwhile he was already smoking! And they have the nerve to complain about it? Pick another bench, jerk! 

Look, I understand non-smokers don't want to be exposed to second hand smoke, but when the non-smoker is the one to approach the smoker, then the non-smoker really needs to chill out. And the common view held by non-smokers about smokers - that smokers are evil dangerous beings who blow smoke in the face of babies and are out to infect everybody with their lethal second hand smoke - really needs to end. 

This is one area in which common courtesy should reign supreme. Smokers should be aware - and most often are - of where their smoke is blowing and be courteous about keeping it away from non-smokers. And non-smokers need to realize that there are millions of particles out there from pollution, smog and chemicals that are just as dangerous as second hand smoke, and if a little puff of smoke goes your way as a person walks past you on the street, it isn't going to kill you and is no excuse to be rude and judgmental. In fact, another person's smoking habit should only be discussed if that person puts you in contact with his or her smoke on a regular basis. Otherwise, mind your own business, get off your high horse, and don't be so judgmental!  

Get Toned, Sexy Arms Like Kate Middleton

Four exercises that will help you look as good in sleeveless dresses as the Duchess of Cambridge.

-Faye Brennan,

We used to lust after Michelle Obama's toned, muscular arms, wondering how on earth she didn't have those jiggly underarms we're all too familiar with. Now, there's a new first lady with arms to envy: Kate Middleton. The Duchess of Cambridge is small all around, yes, but she has definition in her lean arms, which means she definitely works those biceps and triceps out.

Fred DeVito, co-founder of Exhale Mind Body Spa and the Core Fusion workout, has developed four key arm workouts to achieve Kate's toned look. Simply do these exercises 3-4 times a week, and in 3 weeks, you can give Prince William'sother half a run for her money in those sleeveless designer gowns!

1. Kickback: (Tones: Biceps + Triceps)

Equipment: (2) three to five lb weights.

Stand feet hips width and parallel, knees bent, crease forward from your hips till your back is almost parallel to the floor . Abdominals are pulled in and tailbone is tucked under.

Hold the weights and hang them under your shoulders with your palms facing each other to start .

Movement: Pull the weights straight up with your elbows along side your rib cage until the upper arm is parallel to the floor. From there, extend the arms straight back without lowering the upper arm.

Then reverse the movement: curl first to shoulder without dropping the elbows and extend the arms straight down to the original starting position.

2. Parallel Push Ups: (Tones: Biceps, Triceps, chest and back)

Equipment: None

Kneel on the floor with knees bent, hips pressed flat + forward, abdominals pulled in, lower back neutral.

Position your hands right under shoulders with fingers pointing forward and elbows right along side the rib cage and arms straight.

As you bend your elbows, your body should lower as a unit and the elbows should stay alongside the rib cage.

A more advanced version is legs straight and even more advanced than that, your feet would be up on a chair so the body is angled forward + down.

20 reps and repeat 2 sets (the speed of the movement should be at a controlled tempo)

3. Basic Biceps Curl: (tones the front of your arms)

Equipment: (2) weights 5 to 10 lbs

Stand straight up + down, feet hips width apart and parallel, knees slightly bent, abdominals pulled in, lower back neutral spine.

Holding the weights with your palms facing up, lift the elbows so that they are at a 45 degree angle from your vertical stance.

Movement: Curls the weight to the shoulder and then reverse it and extend the arms only half way out.

Move at a steady, even pace. Do not rush otherwise you lose momentum.

2 sets of 20 reps.

4. Triceps Extension: (Tones the back of your arms)

Equipment: one 8 to 10 lb weight

Stand with feet hips width and parallel, knees slightly bent, abdominal muscles pulled in, lower back neutral.

Hold the weight vertically with both hands under the top head of the weight. Extend the arms up alongside your ears with your elbows bent and the weight hanging down behind your head, along your upper back.

Extend from a bent elbow position to straight arms, keeping your elbows close to your head.

Reverse the movement and lower the weight back to the starting position.

2 sets of 20 reps.

Tell us: Who do you think has better arms, Michelle Obama or Kate Middleton?]

Faye Brennan is senior editor at BettyConfidential.

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7 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Taste Buds

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Taste Buds

7 Things You Didn't Know About Your Taste Buds

You probably already know that your taste buds have something to do with your food preferences, but you'll likely be surprised to learn how deeply those preferences are rooted in your body's survival instincts. We spoke to the experts to learn more about taste buds, and uncovered loads of surprising information, from how pregnancy can affect taste to why some people have more sensitive palates. Read on to learn seven surprising facts about taste buds.

1. You can't see your taste buds.
Those bumps you see on your tongue when you say "ahh"? They aren't taste buds. "Those round projections are called fungiform papillae and each has an average of six taste buds buried inside its surface tissue," says Linda Bartoshuk, PhD, director of human research at the University of Florida Center for Smell and Taste. Specialized taste receptors inside the taste buds allow us to distinguish sweet, salty, sour and bitter—and a possible fifth taste called umami, which has a savory element––by sending a message to the brain. And you don't just have taste buds on your tongue—they're everywhere, from the roof of your mouth to your throat and stomach.

Learn why you really crave chocolate.

2. Not everyone has the same amount of taste buds.
According to Nicholas Bower, MD, district medical director at MedExpress, the average adult has between 2,000 and 10,000 taste buds. People who have more than 10,000 are considered to be "supertasters" because they taste things more intensely. "Research has shown that supertasters don't like vegetables very much because they taste bitterness so intensely," says Dr. Bartoshuk. "They also may find very sweet desserts, like crème brûlée, to be over-the-top sugary." To find out where you fall on the taste spectrum, Dr. Bartoshuk recommends an easy at-home test: Apply a couple of drops of blue food color to your tongue and swallow a few times. Then examine your tongue's surface; fungiform papillae won't pick up the dye, so they'll look like pink polka dots on a blue background. If your tongue appears to be almost solid pink, then you have tons of fungiform papillae and may be a supertaster.

3. Taste and flavor are not the same thing.
Taste is what your taste buds pick up: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and potentially umami (the fifth savory taste). Flavor is a combination of taste plus smell, specifically "retronasal olfaction," which is how your brain registers scent when you eat something. For example, sniffing a chocolate doughnut will send a scent message through your nostrils to one part of your brain, and eating it will send a different type of scent signal to a different part of your brain. It is the scent message from eating that combines with taste to create flavor. However, according to Dr. Bartoshuk, the scent message from smelling with your nose is not involved with flavor at all (your brain knows the difference between the two).

Check out nine sandwiches made with doughnuts instead of bread.

4. Taste buds are designed to keep us alive.
"The purpose of our ability to distinguish tastes is survival," says Trey Wilson, DDS, a New York City–based dentist. "Taste buds tell your brain whether or not to swallow what's already in your mouth." According to Dr. Bartoshuk, infants are born loving sweet and hating bitter, because natural sugar—not the sugar in, say, a processed candy bar, as we think of it today—is brain fuel, while bitter is the sensory cue for poison. "The taste system evolved to protect a baby who hasn't learned anything about what is good and bad for himself yet," she explains. Additionally, sodium is a mineral that's essential for making our muscles and nerves work, thus many people's cravings for salty snacks.

5. Your flavor preferences aren't set in stone.
You can train your palate to enjoy new foods—just ask any adventurous eater who used to be a picky toddler. "By our watching our parents and friends, our brain learns what foods are 'good,'" says Dr. Bower. Want to expand your child's—or your own—palate? According to Dr. Bartoshuk, bringing out the sweetness of something will make it more palatable, as will adding something fatty, since your stomach has fatty acid receptors, which send a pleasing signal to your brain. So pairing broccoli with cheese, or roasting it to pull out its natural sugars, will likely make it more enjoyable. "Or you could add social cues: Eat it with someone else who really enjoys it, or with someone whom you admire and like. All of these things can make the food seem more appealing." Similarly, if you eat something you used to love right before getting hit with the stomach flu, chances are you'll have an aversion to that food for quite some time.

Got a picky eater at home? Try these tricks.

6. Our taste preferences may fluctuate with our hormones.
Have you ever noticed that many pregnant women in their first trimester can't stand the sight of vegetables? Their taste buds may be protecting them against potential harm. "I suspect that because the taste of bitter is hardwired to be a cue for poison, early in pregnancy your brain becomes sensitized to avoid it in order to guard your baby," says Dr. Bartoshuk. Similarly, pregnant women crave foods that tend to be high energy sources—something women need more of during pregnancy––like sugars and carbohydrates in the form of bread, candy or other sweets. As for the classic pregnancy cravings of ice cream and pickles, according to Dr. Bartoshuk, they most likely have very little to do with what a woman's body needs. While craving ice cream could be a hankering for an energy source, pickles aren't a source of anything that a pregnant woman might need.

7. Taste buds are constantly regenerating.
Taste buds go through a life cycle where they grow from basal cells into taste cells and then die and are sloughed away. According to Dr. Bartoshuk, their normal life cycle is anywhere from 10 days to two weeks. However, "burning your tongue on hot foods can also kill taste buds," she says. "But they grow right back, which is why the ability to taste doesn't diminish with age." Though Dr. Bartoshuk notes that taste remains robust as we get older, the ability to taste bitterness does decline in women with the onset of menopause. Since, on a primal level, the ability to taste bitter may protect a pregnant woman's baby, those receptors may stop working after a woman's childbearing years are over because it is no longer a reproductive necessity.

3 Myths About How Your Body Ages

Photo: Photodisc

Photo: Photodisc

By Gretchen Reynolds

Not long ago, most people—scientists included—were convinced that the biological indignities of aging were more or less inevitable. Survive past midlife and you'd start losing muscle mass, height, energy, and your car keys. Well, nuts to that. New and inspiring research shows that the supposed physical "certainties" of aging are mostly avoidable. Muscles don't necessarily shrivel. You don't have to shrink or slow down. The key to aging well? One word: Move. Even minimal amounts of exercise can counteract the effects of time.

RELATED: 7 Things Nobody Ever Tells You About Aging

Myth #1: Your muscles will wither.
Reality: Only if you let them.

Many of us lose muscle mass after age 40. We also develop schoolmarm wattles. This is largely because aging muscle can become riddled with malfunctioning mitochondria, cellular structures that convert food and oxygen into energy. Without sufficiently robust mitochondria, muscle cells waste away and opportunistic fat cells move in. But not everyone suffers this fate—and an important study published last year by the Public Library of Science suggests why. Canadian researchers biopsied muscle from both sedentary and active adults between 53 and 75 years old, and found that the couch potatoes' muscles contained few healthy mitochondria. The active people's muscles, by contrast, teemed with almost as many functioning mitochondria as you'd find in 20-somethings. Best of all, the type of exercise was irrelevant—aerobic and weight-bearing activities have the same effect.

RELATED: The Decade-by-Decade Guide to Exercise

Myth #2: Your mind will become a...that thing full of holes, you drain pasta in it...
Reality: You can change your mind with a few steps—literally.

A growing body of neuroscience indicates that exercise can remake and strengthen the brain, no matter your age. Elderly mice that are given access to running wheels have been found to develop far more brain cells in their hippocampus—a portion of the brain devoted to memory—than nonrunners. And recently, in a telling experiment at the National Institute on Aging, active and sedentary adult mice were put in a Plexiglas box and encouraged to touch their noses to a spot on the wall in exchange for food. Only the mice that regularly ran on a wheel mastered the task (difficult by mouse standards) easily. They were able to remember and learn; the sedentary mice, on the other hand, struggled with the game.

RELATED: The Midlife Memory Meltdown

Humans don't have to run to benefit, though. Even walking seems to have the same effect on the brain: In a study published this year, researchers asked previously inactive older adults to take a 40-minute brisk walk three days a week for a year. At the end of the study, MRI scans showed that the volume of the subjects' hippocampus had increased by 2 percent.

RELATED: 11 Empowering Ways to Strengthen Your Brain

Myth #3: Your bones will shrink and so will you.
Reality: Not if you stimulate some stem cells.

Osteoporosis, the thinning of bone tissue, is not just debilitating but also demoralizing. Who wants to leave the sofa if you're worried your limbs might snap? Yet inactivity is one of the biggest threats to bone health. In experiments at the University of North Carolina, scientists removed stem cells from the bone marrow of mice; these particular stem cells are designed to turn into either bone cells (which strengthen the skeleton) or fat cells (which do not). Left to sit in a lab medium, the stem cells generally turned into fat. But when stimulated with high-frequency, low-intensity mechanical signals—similar to those generated during walking—they stopped turning into fat cells and retained their ability to become bone. Related studies in mice found that those same light forces led to greater bone density, too.

Borderline personality disorder: Warning signs

Woman with borderline personality disorder

Woman with borderline personality disorder

Recent headlines about Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall have drawn attention to a condition known as borderline personality disorder (BPD). Marshall, known for his temper on and off the field, and an alleged stabbing by his wife earlier this year, revealed that he has suffered from BPD throughout his five-year NFL career. What is BPD and how do you spot the signs?

Borderline personality disorder is not as well-known as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, but BPD is actually more common, affecting as many as two percent of adults. The mental condition causes emotional instability that leads to stress and many negative behaviors. Why?

Related:8 Ways To Feel Better In 30 Seconds Or Less

Confused sense of self leads to conflict

Remember the character played by Glenn Close in the movie Fatal Attraction? A dramatized example of BPD. people who suffer BPD have a distorted sense of self, characterized by low self-esteem and self-loathing. They can often see themselves as worthless or evil -- then the next moment they feel as if they don't exist at all. Or they feel unfairly misunderstood, mistreated or empty, so they turn on themselves and others. The BPD sufferer wants loving, close relationships, but her highly unpredictable and erratic behavior pushes people away. The defining characteristic of BPD is a pervasive instability in the person's life, with frequent changes in jobs, relationships, goals and values.

Related:Providing a Safe and Secure Home for your Child

Mood swings common with borderline personality disorder

A person with depression or bipolar disorder may endure the same mood for weeks and weeks. But BPD sufferers may have intense bouts of anger, anxiety or near-suicidal depression that can last an hour or a day. These bouts can lead to impulsive behavior – aggression, self-injury and drug or alcohol abuse. A 2008 article in Scientific American cited that this mental illness accounts for up to 10 percent of patients in psychiatric care and 20 percent of those who have to be hospitalized.

Warning signs of borderline personality disorder

According to the Mayo Clinic, BPD symptoms may include:

  • Impulsive and risky behavior, such as risky driving, unsafe sex, gambling sprees or illegal drug use
  • Strong emotions that wax and wane frequently
  • Intense but short episodes of anxiety or depression
  • Inappropriate anger, sometimes escalating into physical confrontations
  • Difficulty controlling emotions or impulses
  • Suicidal behaviour
  • Fear of being alone
Related:The Positive Attitude Can Change The World Around You

What causes borderline personality disorder?

As with many mental and emotional disorders, the causes of BPD aren't fully understood. The Mayo Clinic outlines factors that likely play a role, including the following:

  • Genetics. Some studies of twins and families suggest that personality disorders may be inherited.
  • Environmental factors. Many people with BPD have a history of childhood abuse, neglect and separation from caregivers or loved ones.
  • Brain abnormalities. Some research has shown changes in certain areas of the brain involved in emotion regulation, impulsiveness and aggression. In addition, certain brain chemicals that help regulate mood, such as serotonin, may not function properly.

Psychotherapy is the core treatment for BPD, and medications can help control symptoms and associated problems, such as anxiety and depression.

4 Back pain myths – debunked!

Woman with back pain

Woman with back pain

No, you didn't accidentally log onto an AARP site. Back pain is not limited to your twilight years and can, in fact, happen even in your 20s or 30s. Lifting groceries or just trying a new Zumba class can trigger muscle spasms from your body being tweaked the wrong way. Deciding what to do about back pain can be confusing. Should you skip the gym and just lie down? Take a hot bath or use ice? Some approaches may actually make matters worse.

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Before you reach for that heating pad, read on for the most common back pain remedy myths and the real, healing truth. (Note: If you experience shooting or severe pain that prevents you from getting around normally, see a doctor immediately.)

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Back pain myth #1:

If your back hurts, lie down until the pain subsides

The reality: Keep moving

Lying in bed for days and weeks can delay healing. Resting longer than 48 hours causes muscle atrophy (shrinking), which then causes muscles to spasm more and leads to weakness. Who needs that? Instead, go for light activity such as walking, swimming or low-impact exercise such as the elliptical trainer or recumbent bike to speed healing.

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Back pain myth #2:

Substitute a fitness ball for your office chair to strengthen back muscles

The reality: A little goes a long way

Sitting upright on a ball without back support makes it highly unlikely you'll be able to keep good posture for eight hours. Ultimately, you could end up with back muscle strain and feel worse. Sitting on a ball for shorter periods --  15 to 20 minutes at a time -- may help you feel better. Alternate between the ball and a regular chair to avoid muscle fatigue -- and get up and move around hourly.

Healthy Aging Is Getting Good Nights Sleep

Back pain myth #3:

Most back pain occurs suddenly and without warning

The reality: Trouble's been brewing

Pain may suddenly appear and be perceived as occurring instantly, but it likely has been behind the scenes for awhile. If you're not bending properly or you're using poor back mechanics (i.e., you bend over without bending your knees), at some point something simple like a sneeze may be the straw that breaks the camel's back -- so to speak. What may appear to be a sudden injury could have actually been building for months or even years.

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Back pain myth #4:

Apply a hot compress or take a hot bath to ease back pain

The reality: Cold first, heat later

A hot shower may initially feel good, but the heat may actually increase inflammation by opening up blood vessels. Both heat and ice work by breaking the cycles in which muscle spasms cause pain. Apply ice or use a bag of frozen peas -- 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off, then repeat six to eight times throughout the day. After the initial 48 hours, switch to an electric heating pad.

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