Here’s What Everyone Gets Wrong About Aries

Although Scorpios are the quintessential zodiac sign that tends to get a bad rep (sorry, scorpions!), there are a few other signs that people tend to get wrong as well. While calming, empathetic Cancers have a passive-aggressive side (that’s the tea), and Libras aren’t as social as some say, strong-willed Aries have a whole other side to them you might not expect. If you have an Aries in your life you’re trying to understand, don’t fret — this guide will reveal aspects of their personality you never saw coming.

Aries are the ram of the zodiac, and in that sense, will head-butt into anything that gets in their way. Confident, fiery, ambitious, and definitely impulsive, this sign will give anyone a run for their money — especially those who don’t believe in their abilities (via Astrology Zodiac Signs). While their determination is impressive (and dare we say sexy), this sign gets a reputation for being a bit of a rollercoaster, moody, and a bit aggressive in nature. Plus, we know Aries signs love to be the life of the party, and are known to compete with others to shine the brightest. Natural leaders, Aries signs will lead the pack, racing through life to complete their latest goal. While some see this sign as too much to handle, difficult, and even self-centered, there are whole other aspects to them that are truly shocking.

Aries are far more devoted than they get credit for

As a sign ruled by Mars, named after the Roman god of war, Aries are always willing to fight for what they believe in, or confront anyone who gets in their way (via Allure). While many see this sign as aggressive or selfish, their motivations are purely about bettering themselves — and who can blame them for that? Plus, as per Allure, Aries are actually notoriously “upbeat, positive, and playful creatures” that live every day as if it were their last. If this sign brings you along for the ride, prepare for highs, lows, and a lot of fun in between.

Moreover, as per Refinery29, Aries might be self-centered at times, but they’re hardly loners. This sign thrives by being around people, and are supremely devoted to their close inner circle. If an Aries picks you as their person, they will do anything for you, whether picking you up at 2 a.m. from getting a flat tire, or lifting you up career-wise.

Aries are more open to relationships than people think

Moreover, Aries’ competitive streak can be a lot, but it’s not just about beating others — this sign simply want to feel the high of self-improvement (via Refinery29). As the true first sign of the zodiac wheel, Aries are all about headstrong youth and vivacity, and their personalities can be addicting.

When it comes to relationships, many believe Aries are too freedom-loving and strong-willed to settle down and prioritize a romantic partner. However, according to PureWow, that’s not necessarily true. Venus, the planet of love, might have “a hard time expressing herself in the assertive fire sign of Aries,” but that doesn’t mean this sign wants to be forever alone. While deeply independent, once an Aries knows they want you, they will prove it with grand gestures and serious passion. Plus, this sign loves the idea of a power couple, and can find happiness in routine. That being said, two Aries can be a lot, so tread with caution!

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What the experts do to stave off dementia:

What the experts do to stave off dementia: After exciting new drug breakthrough, our guide to the precautions you can take to lessen your chances of the condition

Survey after survey shows that dementia is the disease we fear more than any other, even cancer — and last week came the news that there is now a new treatment for it.

A drug called aducanumab has been given the go-ahead by U.S. regulatory authorities — making it the first new drug for the condition to be approved in 20 years.

Dementia is an umbrella term for several brain diseases that affect memory, thinking and cognition. Treatments such as donepezil (brand name Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Reminyl) help with symptoms but tend to become less effective as the condition worsens over time.

Aducanumab is different. It tackles the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, which is associated with a build-up in the brain of a protein called amyloid.

This protein forms tangles, called tau, that are thought to interfere with the way brain cells communicate with one another.

Learn French! Carol Brayne, a professor of public health at the University of Cambridge, says she likes to sustain her French language skills through reading and speaking whenever she can. A stock image is used above [File photo]

‘Aducanumab removes amyloid from the brain and slows down memory loss,’ says Dr Susan Kohlhaas, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK.

However, some experts have expressed concern about the lack of trial evidence for the drug. 

Not least because aducanumab previously failed two clinical trials, and it was the findings from these trials that were used to get the drug approved (after one of the trials was re-analysed and the drug was found to have some benefits).

Aducanumab also costs $56,000 (nearly £40,000) a year and may have severe side-effects, including brain swelling and haemorrhage.

Also there is no guarantee that it will halt cognitive decline.

New medication is not the sole focus of medical research, with scientists also concentrating on what can be done to reduce the risk of developing dementia.

The updated Lancet Consortium on Dementia Prevention, published last year, concluded that 40 per cent of dementia cases could be prevented or delayed by targeting 12 modifiable risk factors, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, physical inactivity, excess alcohol intake and smoking.

Giving up smoking is particularly key, says Joanna Wardlaw, UK Dementia Research Institute group leader and a professor of applied neuroimaging at the Centre for Clinical Brain Science at Edinburgh University.

‘A natural part of the ageing process is that your brain tends to shrink a bit,’ she says, ‘and the more it shrinks, the more you are likely to have problems with cognitive ability.

‘Smoking causes accelerated thinning of parts of the brain, including the grey matter [which processes information]. If someone smokes from the age of 20 and gives up at 30, on average, someone who has never smoked won’t get the same level of damage to the grey matter until they’re 53.’

We all need to realise that the processes that cause dementia don’t just happen in old age, adds Professor Paul Matthews, a director of the UK Dementia Research Institute and head of the Department of Brain Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London.

‘The FINGER study, which monitored 1,200 people in Finland at risk of cognitive decline [as a result of lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise and high blood pressure] found that interventions to help with diet, exercise and cognitive training significantly improved or maintained cognitive function,’ he says.

‘This was an important finding — the first reasonably large study in dementia to show that you could possibly reverse the progression of early phase cognitive performance loss, with interventions.’

A follow-up trial, METFINGER, is now being run in the UK and other international centres looking at providing lifestyle changes and adding in the diabetes drug metformin, which helps to lower blood sugar in the body.

‘The hypothesis is that metformin can tweak the ageing process of cells, including brain cells,’ says Professor Matthews. ‘It could have a similar effect to the impact statins have had on preventing cardiovascular disease.’

In addition to the usual lifestyle factors that we’re all advised to address, what other steps do the top dementia experts themselves take to ward off the disease? 

In bed by 10pm for a good night’s sleep 

Dr Ian Harrison, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging at University College London, who specialises in brain imaging, says: ‘When it comes to lowering my own dementia risk, I swear by a good night’s sleep. I used to go to bed later, but for the past three years I’ve been strict about going to bed at 10pm every day, even at weekends.

Dr Ian Harrison, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging at University College London, who specialises in brain imaging, says: ‘When it comes to lowering my own dementia risk, I swear by a good night’s sleep

‘The time I wake up depends on my children, aged one and three, but I set my bedtime early to give my brain the best chance to rest and have a clearout during the night.

‘The brain has a cleaning system, called the glymphatic system, which removes a build-up proteins and waste products.

‘We know from studies that the glymphatic system is 70 per cent more active when we sleep. If there is an impairment in the system due to lack of sleep, then this may lead to a build-up of proteins, including amyloid.

‘Anecdotally, we all know that we have a fuzzy head if we have a bad night’s sleep: this may be due to the glymphatic system not clearing out all the waste products.’

A review of studies by the University of Florida, published in the journal Sleep in 2017, followed up patients with sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnoea [where people stop breathing momentarily as they sleep], over nine and a half years and found a higher risk of them developing Alzheimer’s compared with those who had no sleep disturbances.

He says: ‘We know from studies that the glymphatic system is 70 per cent more active when we sleep’

Dr Harrison also makes sure he gets plenty of exercise.

‘We know from animal studies that exercise boosts the function of the glymphatic system,’ he says, ‘so I also go for a run and go to the gym every week, as well as cycling to work.’

Separately, but for the same reasons, Roger Watson, a professor of nursing at the University of Hull who works in care of older people, always switches off his phone at night. 

‘The light and potential buzzing can be disruptive to sleep — and studies suggest that broken sleep has an impact on our risk of dementia,’ he says. 

Chews on mints with xylitol 

Chris Fox, a professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of East Anglia Medical School, and a consultant old age psychiatrist at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, says: ‘As well as looking after my health generally, I take good care of my teeth to reduce the risk of dementia.

‘I use mints containing xylitol [an artificial sweetener] to keep the microbiome, the community of bacteria in the mouth, healthy.

‘This not only reduces dental cavities but xylitol actually gets rid of nasty bacteria, too. There is emerging evidence that it creates a healthier oral microbiome.

Chris Fox, a professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of East Anglia Medical School, and a consultant old age psychiatrist at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, says: ‘As well as looking after my health generally, I take good care of my teeth to reduce the risk of dementia’

‘One study from Bristol found the same bugs that can cause problems in the mouth were found in post-mortem brains of people who died from Alzheimer’s.’

(Note, xylitol in excess may cause bloating or diarrhoea in those with a sensitive gut.) One suggestion is that oral health may be linked to dementia as the bacteria may trigger inflammation in the brain.

The thinking is that porphyromonas gingivalis, the bacterium in the mouth that causes gum disease, crosses the blood brain barrier — a protective boundary between the bloodstream and the brain.

This can potentially alter brain cells, contributing to dementia, explains Karl Herholz, a professor in clinical neuroscience at Manchester University.

‘We know the disease begins around 20 to 30 years before symptoms become apparent, so it makes sense to have good oral health by brushing and visiting your dentist regularly, which I ensure I do to protect myself against dementia,’ he says. 

Avoids walking besides busy roads 

Dr Tom Russ, a consultant old age psychiatrist, director of the Alzheimer’s Scotland Dementia Research Centre, at the University of Edinburgh, says: ‘I make a conscious effort to avoid walking along main roads and find back street routes where possible’

Dr Tom Russ, a consultant old age psychiatrist, director of the Alzheimer’s Scotland Dementia Research Centre, at the University of Edinburgh, says: ‘I make a conscious effort to avoid walking along main roads and find back street routes where possible.’

Air pollution was added to the list of modifiable factors to reduce dementia by the Lancet Commission in 2020. This follows studies, including one in Canada of 6.6 million people, that have shown living on a main road is associated with a higher risk of dementia.

Those living within 50 metres of a major road were 7 per cent more likely to develop dementia than people living more than 300 metres away, where fine particulate matter levels [the particles of pollution that can get into the bloodstream] can be up to ten times lower.

‘Pollutant distribution depends on weather conditions, though,’ adds Dr Russ. Heatwaves and high pressure, for instance, can create stagnant air and pollutants are not dispersed — and winds can distribute pollutants over a wide area.

‘There are questions that remain unanswered about pollution and the brain, though. One is whether pollution is just a subtle effect on your thinking skills or does it have a structural effect on the brain.’

There is some suggestion that pollution contributes to brain inflammation, says Gill Livingston, a professor of mental health in older people at University College London. ‘My work is located near one of the most polluted roads in London, so if I walk there I drop back a street and walk parallel to the road, to avoid traffic.

‘It’s why it is also important to try to get away from pollution as much as possible, by spending leisure time or doing exercise in parks or in the countryside.’

She also avoids exposure to wood fires and passive smoking as both produce particulate matter. 

He says: ‘There are questions that remain unanswered about pollution and the brain, though. One is whether pollution is just a subtle effect on your thinking skills or does it have a structural effect on the brain’

Halved alcohol intake

Professor Paul Matthews, a director of the UK Dementia Research Institute and head of the Department of Brain Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London, says: ‘I have certainly reconsidered my own alcohol consumption since completing this study, and I’ve cut back to between seven and ten units a week, down from 14‘

Professor Paul Matthews, a director of the UK Dementia Research Institute and head of the Department of Brain Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London, says: ‘We’ve recently done a study that shows that there is an association between drinking alcohol and higher rates of brain volume loss.

‘In adults, the brain begins to lose half a teaspoon of its size [about 0.3 per cent of its volume] every year, and on average drinking two small glasses of wine a day doubles the rate of volume loss.

‘The base rate is low, though — doubling only increases the volume loss from 0.3 to 0.64 per cent. But we know people who experience more rapid rates of brain volume loss tend to develop more cognitive symptoms earlier than people who don’t have a rapid rate.

‘We have observed this association between alcohol and loss of brain volume in people who drank within the normal range (not excessively), though the effect was larger in those who drank heavily.

‘I have certainly reconsidered my own alcohol consumption since completing this study, and I’ve cut back to between seven and ten units a week, down from 14.’

Has an eye test every year 

While it’s no surprise to learn that regular hearing tests — and wearing hearing aids when you need them — are key, Dr Emer MacSweeney, a former NHS consultant neuroradiologist and founder of Re:Cognition Health brain clinics, says it is also important to have your eyes checked

It’s now well-established that hearing loss — specifically, hearing loss when you don’t wear hearing aids if you need them — is a leading preventable cause of dementia, and addressing it could reduce the risk by 8 per cent, according to the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention.

Mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk, moderate hearing loss tripled it and severe hearing loss increased the risk by five times.

The theory is that not being able to hear well and the lack of social stimulation that follows is associated with a higher risk of brain shrinkage and damage.

But while it’s no surprise to learn that regular hearing tests — and wearing hearing aids when you need them — are key, Dr Emer MacSweeney, a former NHS consultant neuroradiologist and founder of Re:Cognition Health brain clinics, says it is also important to have your eyes checked.

‘The less well we hear — or lip read, which is key for our understanding of what’s being said — the less opportunity there is to have meaningful conversations that can stimulate the brain.

‘It’s why I make sure I have an eye test at least once a year. And if you think you might need glasses, you should see your optician.’ 

Dr Emer MacSweeney says: ‘I make sure I have an eye test at least once a year. And if you think you might need glasses, you should see your optician’

Doesn’t add salt when cooking 

Dr Sarah-Naomi James, a dementia research fellow at University College London, says: ‘Dementia doesn’t just happen in old age, it starts decades before’

Dr Sarah-Naomi James, a dementia research fellow at University College London, says: ‘Dementia doesn’t just happen in old age, it starts decades before. We now know that there is an association between high blood pressure [around 140/90 from midlife, roughly between the age of 40 and 50] and developing dementia.

‘I’m in my early 30s but I look after my physical health and I’m particularly careful about checking salt levels on packets. And I don’t add salt to food, either.

‘Blood pressure tends to rise with age, but there is something about what happens in mid-life that seems to be particularly important, although we don’t know what the mechanism is yet. One theory, though, is the pulsating pressure damages the brain.’ 

She says: ‘‘I’m in my early 30s but I look after my physical health and I’m particularly careful about checking salt levels on packets. And I don’t add salt to food, either’

…And deliberately uses ‘wrong’ hand 

Another step Dr MacSweeney takes is to try to put pressure on her brain by using her non-dominant hand for some tasks.

‘So as well as making sure I brush my teeth and use interdental brushes [to protect against mouth bacteria linked to dementia], I swap hands when using my toothbrush,’ she says. ‘Using the non-dominant hand can provide an additional workout for the brain.’

Similarly, she ‘supercharges’ her exercise regimen.

‘It’s well-recognised that exercise plays a role in helping reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, with a 2019 study finding that aerobic exercise may specifically help combat changes in the brain associated with dementia,’ she says.

‘But research also tells us that you’ll get an even greater boost if you do a form of exercise that say, unlike jogging, makes you have to think about what you’re doing.

‘So as well as running, I do HIIT — high-intensity interval training — four to five times a week.

‘This involves short bursts of exercise, with lots of instructions to follow. This mental effort can play a part in reducing your risk — which is why I also do yoga, which requires concentration.’ 

Carol Brayne, a professor of public health at the University of Cambridge, says: ‘Studies have shown that factors such as social engagement, intellectual engagement, having a complex occupation and higher education are associated with a lower risk of dementia, although they don’t eradicate it completely.

‘Our brains change quite a bit as we age, in the ways they are wired, and I think at the highest level our brains are meant to be stimulated.

‘We know that from child development: if you don’t stimulate a child, their brain won’t develop.

‘We are organisms that respond to the environment, and we need stimulation in order to maintain things.

‘My message would be that you need to do things you enjoy, though. Enrich your life by taking up activities that you like and can become better at, at any life stage.

‘On a personal note, I enjoy trying to sustain my French language skills through reading and speaking whenever I can!’

Additional reporting: Angela Epstein 

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What Your Zodiac Sign Says About Your Fashion

Your zodiac sign reveals quite a bit about the inner workings of your mind and, as it turns out, your personal style as well. Whether you’re a career-obsessed Capricorn with a penchant for sophisticated pantsuits or an adventurous Gemini who works hard to follow the latest trends, your fashion sense is impacted by those qualities you inherit based upon your zodiac sign.

While Capricorns may be incredibly driven when it comes to their career, they are not so driven to go above and beyond when dressing to go into the office. Capricorns tend to gravitate toward safe but sophisticated and comfortable ensembles that include skinny jeans, little black dresses, boots, and button-downs paired with elegant accessories, according to PopSugar. Virgos are also attracted to classic, polished looks like tailored suits and sleek dresses. Their style is subtle but never boring or inauthentic, per Stitch Fix.

Unlike Capricorns, who tend to play it safe, Tauruses embrace a bold and adventurous fashion statement that accentuates their body. “Luxurious Taurus will enjoy wearing faux leather dresses, or skirts that tug at their curves,” astrologer Lisa Stardust told InStyle. Stitch Fix reports that fiery, headstrong Leos are just as daring when it comes to picking out an outfit for the day. Leos are especially drawn to clothing in vibrant colors and tend to ignore trends in favor of following their own personal style compass. Authentic Aries are trendsetters with a penchant for sporty chic clothing like sweatsuits and the latest sneaker styles.

Your zodiac sign will likely dictate your favorite silhouettes and colors

Falling in line with their fellow fire signs, the Sagittarius astrological sign craves the bold and experimental fashion pieces. However, according to PopSugar, they tend to be a bit more polished in their approach. Feminine silhouettes, prints, bright colors, and wild accessories are a must for the Sagittarius. And, of course, social Geminis wear trendy and head-turning pieces sure to spark conversation, per Stitch Fix. Contrary to trend-obsessed Geminis, an Aquarius is focused solely on expressing their vibrant individuality with intense prints and whimsy. “Aquarius should try a bold-printed dress that expresses their individuality and personality,” Lisa Stardust told InStyle.

Artistic Libras are fashion chameleons, notes PopSugar. Libras are masters at dressing for any occasion and often switch up their style based on the mood of the day. Whether they are reaching for something feminine or menswear-inspired, they are always mixing in an edgy element or two. Free-spirited Pisces, meanwhile, find that free-flowing skirts and maxi dresses suit their playful, down-to-earth style the best. Breezy, gem-toned fabrics are a go-to for the romantic Pisces, according to Stitch Fix. 

Cancers borrow just a few style elements from sophisticated Capricorns and Virgos. Typically, Cancers are drawn toward feminine, grown-up pieces like classic coats, cocktail dresses, and structured pants in equally classic colors like taupe, red, and ivory, per PopSugar. Scorpios are just as classic with a sporty twist, opting for tailored suits paired with sneakers.

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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Return of the Public Option

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

The “public option” is back — both in Washington, D.C., and the states. President Joe Biden as a candidate supported the idea of a government-run or heavily regulated insurance plan that would compete with private insurance. But until now it has been more of a concept than a plan. Two top health leaders in Congress say they will try to put a plan together, while public options in various forms work their way through legislatures in Colorado and Nevada.

Meanwhile, bioethicists are debating whether the U.S. should be vaccinating low-risk adolescents against covid-19 while high-risk adults in other countries remain vulnerable.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico and Rachana Pradhan of KHN.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who each chair key health committees on Capitol Hill, have put out a request for ideas about the public option. The idea has been championed by many Democrats since it was excluded from the Affordable Care Act, and some lawmakers have introduced bills to set up such a program. The sound bites are appealing but creating such a program would be exceedingly complicated. Murray and Pallone’s initiative is an effort to start a detailed inquiry into what would be needed for a public option and where the political fault lines lie.
  • State efforts to set up public options are generally seen as much less effective than a national program would be.
  • Five Senate Republicans joined Democrats to support the confirmation of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure as administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Although the agency isn’t exactly considered a glamour post, it is one of the most influential jobs in government. By controlling spending and administration of both Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the ACA’s insurance marketplaces, the agency controls about a quarter of all federal spending.
  • Early reports of Biden’s first budget suggest that while he will not be putting dollars behind plans to lower Medicare eligibility or establish a government-run public insurance option on the ACA marketplaces, he will acknowledge that those options are goals he would like to see Congress pursue.
  • Biden is also expected to signal he wants federal funding bills to no longer include the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing federal policy to deny government funding for abortion in most cases. Many Democrats have complained that the provision keeps low-income women who have Medicaid insurance or federal workers who are covered through their jobs from securing an abortion if they need it. Republicans have argued that taxpayers shouldn’t have to finance abortion if they are morally opposed to it.
  • New federal data shows that more than 50% of adults have been vaccinated against covid. But the success of the U.S. inoculation campaign is raising questions about what Americans should be doing to help other countries. Some argue that vaccine supplies here should be given to countries that are struggling before many lower-risk people in this country — including children — get their shots.
  • New reports are casting suspicions on the assumption that covid came from a natural transmission from animal to human in China and suggest it may be tied to a viral research lab in Wuhan, China. This could have implications for research protocols in the future and U.S.-Chinese relations on health studies and other issues.

Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read, too:

Julie Rovner: The New York Times’ “Covid Killed His Father. Then Came $1 Million in Medical Bills,” by Sarah Kliff

Alice Miranda Ollstein: HuffPost’s “Can America Close the COVID Vaccine Race Gap?” by Jonathan Cohn

Margot Sanger-Katz: KHN’s “Corporations Encourage Employee Vaccination but Stop Short of Mandates,” by Anna Almendrala

Rachana Pradhan: The Wall Street Journal’s “Intelligence on Sick Staff at Wuhan Lab Fuels Debate on Covid-19 Origin,” by Michael R. Gordon, Warren P. Strobel and Drew Hinshaw

To hear all our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to KHN’s What the Health? on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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What Is Craniosacral Therapy?

If you have ever been to a chiropractor or massage therapist, you may have experienced craniosacral therapy (CST). However, if this sounds alien to you, and you live with chronic migraines, neck pain, neuralgia, or even are suffering with side effects from cancer treatments, CST may be worth exploring. 

The gentle, non-invasive technique has been used as a form of healing and can be dated back to the 1800s, when Dr. Andrew Taylor founded The American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville Missouri, later known as the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (via ATSU). Although John E. Upledger, a doctor of osteopathy, is credited with developing the technique in the 1970s (via Irish Association of Craniosacral Therapists).  

Considered an alternative form of medicine, CST is often used by chiropractors, massage therapists, and osteopaths (per Medical News Today). The Cleveland Clinic describes CST as similar to massage therapy, as most sessions are accompanied by low lighting, soft music, and even aromatherapy to help you fall deeper into relaxation.

Craniosacral therapy may help with pain

During the CST session, the provider will use gentle pressure on the head, neck, and back to relieve pain caused by compression, and to help the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system to become normalized (via Healthline). Many people may benefit from three to 10 sessions of the treatment by a licensed professional. Much like chiropractic care, the theory behind CST is that the better the flow of the spinal fluid, the less pain a person will feel and the easier it will be for the body to heal.

The light touch therapy has been associated with treating both physical and psychological conditions, and, according to the Upledger Institute International, “CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease.” Craniosacral therapy has been used to treat conditions such as chronic pain, autism, central nervous system disorders, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, PTSD, and stress (per Medical News Today).

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These Guys Shared What It Really Means to Be Mentally Healthy

If you’re trying to make healthy changes when it come to your body, you can do simple things like eat right, exercise daily, sleep better, and drink water (always hydrate!). Stay committed to these habits and your body will begin to shed fat, gain muscle, and overall become healthier. It takes work, but it’s relatively straightforward at the end of the day.

But what do you to get fitter when it comes to your mind? Since mental wellness is so personal and mental health isn’t discussed among men (or anyone TBH) nearly enough, it can be a difficult question to answer.

EVRYMAN, a group created to support men and their journey towards wellness, took over the Men’s Health Instagram on Wednesday to pose this question and get a fuller sense of what being mentally healthy and well means to guys from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

“To me, what it means to be mentally fit and well, is to be able to turn the noise down when everything else is going on, so I can just be present and accountable to the moment I’m living in and enjoy my life,” says Blake Kasemeier, co-founder of Slide 32.

For Rhone co-founder Kyle McClure, being mentally fit means being in tune with himself and his emotions. “Addressing my feelings before they address me, making sure I’m open and honest with all the people in my life.”

Ashanti Branch, who founded the youth peer mentoring program Ever Forward, has a similar definition. He defines a healthy mind as accepting all of his emotions, both the good and the bad.

EVRYMAN co-founder Owen Marcus also had a few words to say about a healthy mind: “What it means to be mentally fit, for me, is to be emotionally fit. To be emotionally fit means to be connected to me and connected to others.”

Becoming mentally fit—being in tune with your emotions and spirit—takes time. But just like there are personal trainers to optimize your body, there are also wellness experts to help you optimize your mind.

If you’re ready to begin your journey—or continue a journey you’re currently traveling—be sure to register for the Men’s Wellness Summit, a free virtual event presented by Men’s Health, EVRYMAN, and Rhone. On June 3rd, a group of men, from therapy professionals to athletes, will discuss ways to strengthen your mind, exercise your emotions, and become more mentally fit.

The journey to a fitter mind may be long and difficult at times, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Register for the event here:

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What It Really Means When You Dream About Dogs

Dreams about man’s best friend can be cute, cuddly, and make you not want to wake up — that being said, they hold serious symbolic meaning, too. As per Bark Post, dreams about animals are representative of your instincts and hidden nature, examining your “basic feelings, behaviors and reactions.” Specifically, dog dreams give insight into your thoughts about friendship, loyalty, and protection. Dogs in dreams can also have a spiritual meaning, and act as a sign to trust your path, or as an omen to change course (via YourTango).

Dogs in dreams tend to symbolize human relationships, but are also associated with emotions you might be feeling toward a difficult situation in your life (via Aunty Flo). Most often though, dreaming about a dog is a sign that you need to protect someone, or that someone unexpected might be protecting you. Dogs represent good luck in a wide array of cultures: The Celtic people associate hounds with Gaelic gods of healing and a successful hunt, while elements of Chinese mythology believe dogs bring good fortune to a home (via World Birds). It’s no wonder dreaming about dogs is usually seen as a good sign.

It is important to note that the type of dog dream you have can deeply affect its meaning: While dreaming of a happy-go-lucky pup can be a positive signal, an aggressive or biting dog can mean something much different. The place and activity are also deeply significant, as well as the color and breed.

Dreams about happy, energetic dogs

The temperament of the dog you see says multitudes about the meaning of your dream. Whether you know the dream pup or not, a friendly dog can be a symbol of someone in your life guiding or guarding you. As per Aunty Flo, a happy dog is a “sign of recovery,” especially if dealing with anxiety or difficulties in your life. A joyful pup can even signify you will have some luck in the love department soon.

Happy puppies can be representative of a nurturing instinct deep within you. Seeing puppies with their mother can symbolize your own love of nurturing, and even imply a desire to have children (via Aunty Flo). If you are starting a project or business plan, a litter of puppies can symbolize how long it will take to come to fruition, with each puppy representing a six-month period. Seeing just one good-natured puppy may depict your own even-keel personality, your energy in life, or the improvement of a relationship.

As per Bark Post, a happily-barking dog might mean you take pleasure in being social and feeling accepted in a group, or you even might be missing that element of your life.

Dreaming about temperamental dogs

Of course, just like in real life, dream dogs aren’t always perfect — sometimes they are grumpy, aggressive, or can even bite and attack. According to Aunty Flo, this kind of dream has a totally opposite meaning to other kinds of dog dreams. Dreaming about being chased by a dog symbolizes anxiety, or fears about making decisions in your work or love life. This dream can signify pressure or a need to escape, especially if you felt scared while running. Overall, being chased by a dog means you feel burdened, and if it is violent, you’re probably scared of the unknown. Regarding signs for the future, a friendly dog running toward you implies career success, while an aggressive dog chase can mean falling into a trap (via Aunty Flo).

Dreaming about aggressive dogs could mean someone in your life is being disloyal or untrustworthy (via Bark Post). According to The Cut, an angry barking dog could mean you are too demanding, or that you feel someone should take it easier on you. A dream about a dog attack means you have difficulty communicating with others, while a dog-pack attack might mean you need to work on your happiness (via Aunty Flo). Vicious dogs symbolize your own anger toward others, but dreams about dog bites vary in meaning. Leg bites mean a lack of life balance, wrist bites mean being held back, and a hand bite means someone you’re close to might be harming you (via The Cut).

All about dreaming of a dog you know

Who doesn’t love the idea of dreaming of a dog from your past, especially if you still miss them dearly? That being said, this kind of dream is deeply significant in unexpected ways. For one, if you dream about a loving childhood pet, it could signify a need for comfort (via Nolah). Similarly, according to Aunty Flo, dreaming about a dog you previously owned or still have could mean you are “missing something or someone in your life.” Trying to figure out the missing link is paramount, and if you feel overworked, this might be a sign to unwind.

Dreaming about a dog who has passed away might mean they are trying to reconnect with you. According to dream analyst Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, this kind of mystical dream “could be a visitation of a beloved pet letting you know they’re still around and watching over you,” which harks back to dogs as a symbol of protection (via The Cut). Even more, dreaming about a dog from your past could be your own unique way of “getting closure or trying to remain connected to that animal.”

On the totally opposite end of the spectrum, dreaming about adopting a new dog might mean you feel a need for companionship. If you are gifted a dog in your dream, you can take it as a positive sign: It means you are being protected by a higher power (via Aunty Flo).

Unique dog dream meanings

The meaning of your canine dream can also depend on your activity of choice. According to Bark Post, rubbing a dog’s belly in a dream can mean you feel content in a relationship, and deeply trust your partner. If you’re walking the dog, you may have a bout of success soon and achieve your goals. Seeing someone else walking a dog means you feel in charge of your life, while seeing a dog walking like a human might mean something unexpected will happen soon (via Aunty Flo).

Dreaming about finding a dog may signify a need for companionship, while a sick dog could symbolize a neglected relationship. Dreaming about an injured dog may mean you’re concerned about your health or friendship, or feel you haven’t taken enough care of your own real-life dog (via The Cut). A dog guiding you could signify you need help getting out of a sticky situation, while giving a dog away means you might be disloyal (via Aunty Flo). Dreaming about a pack of dogs is a sure sign of a need for belonging, especially if you are part of the pack (via Bark Post).

Giving a dog a bath in your dream means you are nurturing, while seeing a dog chase its tail means you are not dealing with an issue properly (via Aunty Flo). If your dream was more surreal, a two-headed dog means you are energetic, while a three-headed dog means a new beginning (via Aunty Flo).

Meanings by the dog's color and breed

Just like temperament, a dog’s color and breed are incredibly significant when it comes to interpreting your pup-centered dream. For one, a black dog is connected to evil and death, but before you get too scared, it could also mean several life possibilities (via Aunty Flo). Black dogs are associated with bad weather, and English mythology describes a large black dog with flaming eyes that could give your dream a foreboding significance. This shade could also signify dishonesty or worrying about a friend.

On the other side of the spectrum, a white dog is a symbol for purity, and either means you have good intentions, or should protect a treasured friendship. If your dog is multicolored, you could feel disapproval towards someone, or feel isolated (via Aunty Flo). In terms of breeds, Bark Post explains that dreaming of dachshunds denotes your loyalty and rationality. German shepherds mean you are feeling protective, while golden retrievers should be taken as a good sign regarding a friendship.

If you dream of a cute pug, you are probably a playful person and might need to be more open to change. A Siberian husky signifies someone is about to be especially loyal towards you, and that you made the right decisions in your life. Bulldogs are the ultimate indicator of difficult on the outside and emotional on the inside, while dreaming of Yorkshire terriers means you need to lose your fear and up your confidence in life.

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Here’s What You Should Eat And Drink After Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine

You’ve probably heard stories about how people feel after getting their COVID-19 vaccine, and some of those stories may be extremely off-putting. But there are ways to help prevent unpleasant after-effects from your shot, and that comes from what you eat and drink right after being vaccinated.

Fever, chills, headaches, nausea, and soreness at the injection site have all been reported as side effects of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines. Smithsonian Magazine reported, however, that the percentages of significant side effects are fairly low. In the two-shot process for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, only 3.7% of those vaccinated experienced a fever after the first short, and only 15.8% reported a fever after the second shot. For those 55 years of age or older, the rates are even lower. 

For the Moderna vaccine, less than 1% of people (no matter the age) experienced a fever after the first dose, while 17.4% of younger people and 10.2% of older people felt feverish after the second dose (via Smithsonian). The same side effects have also been reported for the one dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to Medical News Today. But proper nutrition can help alleviate the after-effects for all three approved vaccines in the United States.

Water, water, and more water is essential for post-vaccination health

Hydration is key when getting any vaccine, and that includes the three vaccines approved to combat COVID-19 — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. To avoid dehydration, do not drink alcohol prior to getting jabbed or after, Health noted. Alcohol can interfere with your immune system and you want the best immune response possible for this important vaccine.

Of course, one of the best ways to stay hydrated is to drink water. You don’t have to get excessive about it, but do stick to the recommended 64 ounces of water a day both before and after receiving your shot (via Health). You can break down all this water consumption throughout the day in eight 8-ounce glasses, or you can use a refillable water bottle to keep hydrated. Health also noted that it’s perfectly fine to flavor your water with lemon or lime if you just don’t like the taste of plain water. Proper hydration also helps you sleep, which also boosts your immune system.

Fuel your body with healthy foods after your COVID-19 vaccine

Whole foods, rather than processed foods, can help your immune system work correctly and can also assist in warding off vaccine side effects — especially nausea. Shop before your vaccine appointment and have some bland foods on hand like bananas, apple sauce, broth-based soups, brown rice, and potatoes, as noted by Health. All of these foods can both prevent nausea and treat it.

Health also advised that you can eat takeout if you’re not feeling up to cooking soon after being vaccinated, but stick with healthier options instead of ordering fried or fatty fast food. Choose Indian curry, an Asian stir fry, or even veggie tacos (we’re getting hungry just thinking about it).

It’s also possible to lose your appetite after your shot, but you still need to eat. Try to stick to smaller meals and healthy snacks, because your body still needs nutrition no matter what (via Health). The healthier you eat, the healthier you will be, so finally getting vaccinated against COVID-19 might just be the right time to start your journey towards wellness and nutrition.

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A Psychiatrist Explains What to Do If You or Someone You Know Has Suicidal Thoughts

Any safety concerns since last time? I ask my patients that question, or a longer version, Are you having any thoughts about wanting to hurt yourself or wanting to die? Part of my work as a psychiatrist is identifying those who are at highest risk for suicide and then doing my best to prevent it.

There aren’t concrete statistics for how many men are thinking thoughts like that at this very moment, but I can tell you it’s not a small number. One survey by the CDC conducted last June suggested that twice as many people in the U. S. reported serious consideration of suicide in the previous 30 days as felt that way in 2018—and Hispanic and Black respondents were more likely to report it than people who are white or Asian. Essential workers and unpaid caregivers also reported elevated rates of these thoughts.

That’s why I ask my patients about suicidal thoughts, also known as suicidal ideation. I was recently caught off guard when a longtime patient of mine, whom I’ll call Peter, reluctantly admitted, “To be completely honest, yeah, I’ve had thoughts like that off and on for years.”

Many of us at some point have speculated about the what-ifs of life, or death. Usually, when men are talking about this type of inclination, what they’re looking for most is to feel supported. Only after I sat and listened to Peter’s thoughts did I ask the next questions. Questions like “How long have the thoughts been going on? Have you considered a plan?”

It became clear that he was experiencing passive suicidal thoughts—he wasn’t actually planning to hurt himself, and he didn’t want to, but every once in a while, he would think to himself: What if I weren’t here? When I asked him why he hadn’t told me about them before, he said, “They’re just thoughts.” But they’re really important to discuss.

Lots of people don’t want to say anything about suicidal thoughts, believing they make you seem “crazy” or “off.” Sometimes my patients are afraid that if they tell me, I’m going to admit them to a psychiatric hospital against their will. This is far from the first step; it’s for urgent mental-health crises, and usually men choose to go voluntarily. They’re also worried that friends and family would feel uncomfortable if they said anything, or would start to avoid them or act differently toward them. It’s never comfortable talking about suicidal thoughts, and that’s okay, because conversations about suicide aren’t supposed to be comfortable.

Staying silent is really what makes suicidal thoughts dangerous—that’s when they could potentially gain traction and cause people to consider acting on them. Talking helps you learn how to make sense of what you’re thinking so that you can develop healthy ways to move beyond it.

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Here’s What It Really Means If You Have A Leo Moon Sign

Almost everyone knows their sun sign, but did you know there’s a lot more to it? It’s true, now everyone needs to know their big three: Sun, Moon, and Rising. Your sun sign is basically your basic identity, your moon sign is about your emotional needs, and your rising is basically how others perceive you (via Shape). There’s a lot more to one’s birth chart, but let’s focus on moon signs for now.

Many people don’t feel connected to their sun sign, they say it doesn’t fit them fully. And that’s pretty normal! That’s where moon signs come in. According to Allure, your moon sign is based on the position of the moon at the exact time of your birth. Your moon sign is basically your internal self, and what you feel on the inside. So it’s time to start digging through those attic boxes for your birth certificate and get researching!

Moon Leos have extremely creative spirits

Like the sun sign, Leos are always working to get the best of the best. They crave the spotlight, money, or anything that drives them to keep going. However, the moon sign works a little bit differently. Once you get in the spotlight, you’re a bit hesitant and your fear of criticism takes over. Leos are innately very talented, creative spirits, and they take immense pride in everything they do. According to Astro-Seek, since Leos are so creative, they can be quite sensitive as well. They are very much all-or-nothing and can perceive everything as either praise or an insult.

Moon Leos want to share their gifts with the world, but they have to work with their fear of criticism and possibly being eclipsed (via Allure). Luckily, since they’re so generous and warm, they’ll have lots of friends to help them work through it (via LiveAbout).

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