Actress Meghan Markle talks about how simple changes in perspective can help you build self-esteem and be comfortable in your own skin.Meghan Markle, known for playing Rachel Zane on the TV show Suits, has become a role model for girls and women everywhere, speaking out as a women’s advocate with the United Nations and getting real about things like race and beauty in the media. Most recently, she has been working with Dove to promote self-esteem among youth. We spoke to her about how to refocus your perspective to build the confidence you need to conquer anything.
Headaches are one of the most common health complaints for Canadian women. Here's the rundown on five types of headaches: what causes them, how to proven them and how to feel better faster.
Headache type: Tension
If you've ever experienced a headache—and who hasn't?—this is probably one you've had. "It's your regular garden-variety headache, with aching around your whole head and more steady pressure than migraines," says Dr. Michael Zitney, the director of the Headache & Pain Relief Centre in Toronto. You're not likely to have any nausea, and there won't be sensory sensitivity. "You can usually still watch TV or work at your computer, for example, through a tension headache," he explains.
Why they happen: Doctors used to think tension headaches were caused by too-tight muscles in the neck, shoulders, face and head, but experts now believe they might be due to inflammation of the lining and main nerve areas in the brain. "Some of the triggers can be similar to migraine triggers," says Dr. Farnaz Amoozegar, a neurologist in Calgary. These include stress, sleep and dietary factors.
Treatment options: Most tension headaches will go away on their own, but taking ibuprofen, acetaminophen or acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) can help. There are also preventive medications that can help reduce the frequency or severity of chronic tension headaches, ones that occur more than 15 days a month; your doctor might recommend a muscle relaxant or an antidepressant (amitriptyline and nortriptyline are a couple of the common forms), though the latter needs to be gradually increased and can take a few weeks to start working.
Headache type: Migraine
These headaches, which typically last four to 72 hours, are one of the most common in women—about one-quarter of us suffer from them, compared to about eight percent of men. The diagnostic criteria are very specific, says Dr. Sian Spacey, a neurologist, physician and director of The University of British Columbia's Headache Clinic in Vancouver. Patients must have two of the following characteristics: throbbing, moderate to severe pain, unilateral pain (on one side of your head) and pain that worsens with activity. They must also experience nausea and vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound.
Why they happen: Frustratingly, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause, but it seems to be a mix of genetics and environmental factors. If you have a family history of migraines, you might be more prone to them. And there are common triggers, says Dr. Zitney. These include substances found in foods (MSG, nitrates and other preservatives, aspartame, alcohol and ca eine), lifestyle factors (skipping meals, dehydration and getting too much or too little sleep), weather changes, stress and fluctuating hormone levels thanks to our menstrual cycles.
Treatment options: Dr. Zitney recom-mends three stages of treatment. "The simplest and easiest thing to use is an anti-inflammatory," he says, adding that over-the-counter ibuprofen is a good option, as are prescription medications such as naproxen. If those don't o er relief, the second stage is triptans, migraine-specific medications that target pain at its source. "Migraine pain develops from a circuit of neuronal pathways and molecules in the brain,"says Dr. Amoozegar. "Once these path- ways were discovered, scientists began working on medications that specifically target them." There are seven triptans approved for use in Canada. They're available by prescription and come in oral, injectable and nasal-spray forms— but they're not an option if you have heart problems, as they can increase your risk of a serious cardiac event. You can also use a triptan and an anti-inflammatory in combination, as they approach pain in different ways. The last stage is a stronger painkiller, used sparingly—and only if you aren't at risk for addiction.
It's also worth asking your doctor about preventive meds, like antiseizure medication, beta-blockers and even Botox (which works by inhibiting the release of pain-related molecules). And if your menstrual cycle triggers migraines, you can also look into hormonal manipulation. "If it's safe for you to use the birth control pill or the hormonal IUD, you can fool your body into not having periods, which stops menstrual-related migraines," says Dr. Zitney.
Headache type: Medication-overuse
Formerly known as rebound headaches, these tend to occur in patients who have a high frequency of headaches and take a lot of painkillers, says Dr. Amoozegar. Folks who get migraines tend to be more prone to this type of headache, especially those who take medication for their migraines more often than they should.
Why they happen: It's the headache we cause ourselves due to regular, long-term use of painkillers, says Dr. Zitney. "If you take medications too often, they can turn around and bite you," he adds. "The head- aches start to come more often. Then, when the medication wears off, you have to take more, which brings on another headache. It's a pattern that's very hard to get out of once you're in it." As a general rule, it's OK to use medication (either over-the-counter or prescription) to treat headaches about 10 out of every 30 days. But if you find your-self using drugs more than 15 days out of the month for three consecutive months, see your doctor.
Treatment options: Education is key. "People need to know that their meds are the culprit," says Dr. Amoozegar. "Depending on what they're using, they need to gradually stop taking painkillers and start taking preventive medication." Beta-blockers and antiseizure medication aren't painkillers, but they can help reduce the frequency of migraines.
Headache type: Cluster
This is a rare, distinct type of headache. Cluster headaches are often seasonal or occur during the same time every year (or every couple of years). "These are shorter headaches that last from 15 minutes to three hours. They're unilateral and accompanied by symptoms like tearing, a droopy eyelid, a change in pupil size and nasal congestion on the side of the face where the pain is," says Dr. Spacey. This is the most severe type of headache you can get, and it's been dubbed the "suicide headache" because of the sufferers who have either committed suicide or thought about it during a cluster attack. Though they're more common in men than women, a 2012 study in the Journal of Neurological Sciences found that when women do get cluster headaches, they tend to have more daytime attacks and worse pain during nighttime attacks.
Why they happen: Causes haven't been pinpointed, but there's evidence that suggests abnormalities in the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that regulates sleep- wake cycles) could be part of the problem. Cluster headaches usually occur in the spring or fall, and triggers vary widely. Alcohol can worsen an attack.
Treatment options: Over-the-counter drugs won't make a dent in treating a cluster headache, nor will triptans (the attack is usually over before they kick in). For the drugs that do offer relief, opt for injections or nasal sprays, which are often faster acting. Giving the sufferer oxygen via a mask can also help some patients.
Headache type: Sinuses
You know those throbbing headaches where you also have a fever, a runny nose, congestion, an icky green discharge and pain in your face? That sounds like a sinus headache, says Dr. Amoozegar. But, she adds, they're often misdiagnosed. Many headaches that occur in the face are actually migraines; it can only be a sinus headache if you also have a sinus infection or another serious sinus issue.
Why they happen: Blame inflammation of the sinuses (a.k.a. sinus- itis), which is caused by anything that stops them from draining properly, such as a cold or flu, allergies or respiratory infections.
Treatment options: The first step is a visit to the doctor's office to confirm you have a sinus infection. If you do, you'll likely get a prescription for antibiotics. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen or acetylsalicylic acid can help ease the pain while you're waiting for the meds to kick in.
©iStockphoto.com/slidezero_com Credits: ©iStockphoto.com/slidezero_com
Learn how feng shui techniques can declutter your home and create positive space in your life.
Do you want to bring happiness, good fortune and wellness into your life this year? Turn to the positive energies of feng shui as your guide. The ancient Chinese art of living in harmony with your environment can help spruce up your home and simultaneously create balance and joy.
Bridget Saraka, the Saskatoon-based owner of Feng Shui by Bridget, says the practice offers life-changing benefits. "Feng shui is about creating a space that's not only pleasing to your eye, but also pleasing to all your senses, so that your home supports and enriches your life," she says. "How we live has a profound impact on what our experiences will be. When you apply feng shui principles to your home, you can attract a great new year."
If your home is cluttered, dimly lit and has poorly arranged furniture, feng shui principles state that your life will be filled with obstacles and present few opportunities for growth. As a result, your job, relationships, finances and health can become stagnant. By making a few small changes, you can revitalize your space and your life. Here are six simple tips to get started:
1. Make your front door visible to receive blessings
In feng shui, a hard-to-read house number or a blocked walkway to a door will prevent positive energy from entering the home. "Have an address that's easy to see from the street and a path from your front door into your home that isn't cluttered with obstacles," says Saraka. "If the universe can't find you, how can fortunate blessings find you?"
2. Add colour for good health
Taupes and other neutral colours are popular in home decor, but they might contribute to low moods and energy levels during Canada's long, dark winters. "They're the wrong colour palate for Canadians because many of us suffer from seasonal affective disorder," says Saraka. From a feng shui perspective, these colours absorb the winter light, leaving Canadians feeling depressed and directionless.
To boost health and energy, start by painting your walls. "Choose a colour that's warm yet still reflects light – soft yellows, soft greens – colours that give a feeling of the sun and nature," says Saraka. "Green makes all colours pop, plus it's about life, vitality, growth and new vibrations." If you can't afford to paint, use colourful accessories—accent pillows, throws, live flowers, lighting in dark corners—to ignite powerful energy shifts in your home. "It's the easiest and most affordable way to do it," says Saraka.
3. Edit your belongings
Clear the bad vibes that accompany clutter. "Go through your home with a keen eye to what no longer serves you. If you haven't worn or used it within a year, donate it," says Saraka. "If it's broken and you're not going to repair it, remove it from the space. This editing practice opens up your home so you have room to experience a new chapter." Items that hold upsetting memories should be removed, too.
4. Let indoor plants and water bring prosperity
¨Want to attract wealth this year? Bring plants and a water fountain into your home. "Jade plants and fountains are symbols that represent wealth and finance in feng shui," says Saraka. Your health may also benefit from plants and flowers inside the home. "They purify the air," says Saraka, "And as you nurture the plant, you're nurturing yourself."
5. Position furniture for safety
If you don't feel safe and comfortable in your home, your furniture placement might be to blame. "Feng shui is first and foremost about comfort and safety," says Saraka. "Make sure that the largest piece of furniture in any room is in a position where you can see the door. If the sofa or head of the bed is against the same wall as the door, you can't see who is coming in. This creates a sense of vulnerability."
6. Use essential oils to attain happiness
Essential oils can help clear negative energy and add happy vibes to your home. "Put distilled water in a spritzer bottle, add three to six droplets of oil, and then spritz the air," says Saraka. If someone has been ill, Saraka recommends a blend of frankincense and cinnamon. ¨"To infuse a space with joy, use rose and orange essential oils. Rose is about love. Orange is about joy. So you're infusing joyful love into your space." Essential oils can be purchased from most health-food stores.
For more feng shui tips, check out how you can declutter your car.
Istockphotos.com/Deklofenak Credits: Istockphotos.com/Deklofenak