years ago,I wrote a post The KonMari Method for Tidying When Affected by a Chronic Conditionthat generated a lot of interest. With
the arrival of the Neflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” the popularity
of de cluttering by only keeping what “sparks joy” is making headlines. This
time it’s because so many people are doing it charity shops and landfills are
overwhelmed with the amount of stuff people are dropping off. In short, it’s gone
from a cluttering problem to a “waste crisis.”
our buy, buy, buy economy combined with get rid of it if it doesn’t “spark joy”
is creating a perfect storm for waste haulers. Yet, there is another Japanese
and impermanence of things-which we should be aware of along with KonMari
Mottainai follows the four Rs:
reduce, reuse, recycle and respect. It attempts to
communicate the inherent value in a thing and encourage using objects fully or
all the way to the end of their lifespan. It is an ancient Buddhist philosophy
deeply rooted in Japanese Culture for centuries, to have respect and not to
waste the resources and to use them with a sense of gratitude.
While Konmari appears to incorporate
some of these ideas, one has to wonder at the giant bags sitting outside the
homes of the Netflix series that have undergone the “spark joy” purge.
The big “miss” of KonMari is that many find “retail therapy” a release from life’s anxieties and stressors.
They also use it as a way to reward themselves as well as celebrate when good
things happen. Very often it’s a social opportunity, with shopping combined
with lunch or dinner at a special restaurant or cafe.
shows that shopping gives people a “sense of control,” which many of those
affected by chronic conditions feel like they don’t have much of. It’s also
been found to reduce sadness, and there is also the added bonus of walking and
getting exercise if you go to the mall or a big box store.
down sides of retail therapy are obvious-financial issues; creating more
clutter in your home; and ultimately a waste crisis-the landfills are already
full. However, there are ways to turn
this around, which is the focus of today’s post.
Tips to help you control
your “retail therapy” so you don’t end up amassing “stuff.” Yes you can still indulge
in a favorite past time but with some clear guidelines:
Set a budget and don’t waver. Your better off leaving credit cards at home and
only using cash.
Know your “spending triggers” What moods or
things will tempt you to make unplanned purchases? Recognizing them can help
reduce their power over you to make unnecessary purchases.
• Follow the 48 hour rule. Before
you drop a “want” into your shopping cart, write down the item and price and
give yourself 48 hours to think about it.
• Remove spending and coupon apps
from your phone and unsubscribe to Emails that will encourage you to spend.
•If you are shopping in a store, don’t give them your e-mail address or
agree to a credit card
• Window Shopping can improve moods.
Try shopping with a friend where you design a wardrobe, a room in someone’s
house etc. Make it a game. Set parameters such as how much money can be spent,
what colors can be used, etc.
Make reminder lists-use your smart phone to create various lists such
as-groceries; items you may need from a specific store; gifts-when you learn
about items that you think are right for someone add the item along with their
name. Only shop from your list.
Before you make a purchase think about how you will dispose of the item when
you are through with it.
Shop thrift stores over retail, though stick to the needs vs the wants.
Alternatives to Retail
provides opportunities for choice, exercising, and socializing. Yet, there are
a number of things to do instead that offer the same benefit resulting in your
feeling better as well as reducing waste.
• Repair rather than discard. With
sites like IFIXIT (electronics); the Family Handymanand 8 websites to find DIY & Home Repair Tips
learn how to repair items that you may have normally discarded. Do it long
enough and you can start helping friends and maybe even turn it into a small
business that you can run from home.
• Create a local swap group. You can
do this via Facebook or with friends.
• Host an abundance swap. These can
be a great deal of fun, particularly if you do this around the holidays when
people are looking for gifts and don’t have money to spend. Every year our town
holds a town wide tag sale and we have one village green that is designated as
a freebie zone. Check out the Ashland Abundance Swap that has been held every year since 2004.
• Look for, start or host a “fix it
clinic.” Basically these clinics will teach you repair skills. At Fix-It
Clinics, people small household appliances, clothing, electronics, mobile
devices and more and receive free guided assistance from volunteers with repair
skills to disassemble, troubleshoot and fix their items. Check out the Fixit Clinic Facebook page.
• Shop online, put items in the cart but don’t buy.
According to research, the actual act of
putting items in a cart and not buying produced the same sadness reducing
effects as actually purchasing something. So, it’s not the actual purchase
which produces the results, but the selection of items as if you were going to
buy them that reduces sadness.
• Go to the library and pick out a
book. You have a sense of control over what you choosing but without spending
Focus on the part of your social circle that don’t use retail therapy. Yes it
is fun to go shopping with a friend, where you have lunch or dinner as part of
the experience. However, if you are having a rough patch make a social engagement
with a friend(s) that isn’t necessarily tied in with the retail therapy scene.
What alternatives are there in your community to celebrate good news or combat
a negative experience? Some options could include inviting friends over for a
bonfire; tea; dinner and a movie; game night; or a walk in the park. Check the
newspapers and on-line resources for local events that offer entertainment
alternatives. You’ll meet new people that way that share a common interest.
of walking the mall, go for a walk in your neighborhood, a park, by the beach
Join an exercise, Qigong, or yoga class
Attend in person support groups that pertain to your particular chronic
if you don’t need it, don’t bring it
into your home or, if it’s a gift, don’t allow it to settle in if you don't like it.
celebrated Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama, has lived voluntarily in a
psychiatric hospital since 1977.With an
international following, Kusama was born in 1929 in the mountain
town of Matsumoto, began painting from hallucinations she experienced as a
young girl. Some of her antiwar sentiments stem from the fact that she lived
through World War II in Japan, going to work at a military factory to sew
parachutes when she was just 13 years old. “Since I was 10 years old I have
been painting every day,” she said. “And even now there is not a day that I do
not paint.” She added, “I still see polka dots everywhere.”
Kusama explains, "one day I was looking at the red flower patterns of the
tablecloth on a table, and when I looked up I saw the same pattern covering the
ceiling, the windows and the walls, and finally all over the room, my body, and
the universe. I felt as if I had begun to self-obliterate, to revolve in the
infinity of endless time and the absoluteness of space, and be reduced to
Hormone therapy may be best defense against knee osteoarthritis:There is an ongoing debate regarding the relationship
between knee osteoarthritis and hormone therapy (HT), with small-scale studies
providing mixed results. A new large-scale study from Korea shows that women
receiving HT had a significantly lower prevalence of symptomatic knee
osteoarthritis compared with women who did not take hormones. Menopause
Effect Sizes Uncertain for Meds Versus Placebo in Knee OA: For
patients with knee osteoarthritis and at least 12 months of follow-up, there is
uncertainty around estimates of effect size for the change in pain in
association with medications versus placebo, according to a meta-analysis
published in the Dec. 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical
One in Five Back Pain Patients Experience Persistent Pain:Significant differences seen in
patterns of medication, health care use across back pain trajectories. Eighteen
percent of patients with back pain experience a persistent trajectory,
according to a study published online Jan. 14 in Arthritis Care &
CBD in marijuana may worsen glaucoma, raise eye
pressure:A study has found that CBD
-- a major chemical component in marijuana -- appears to increase pressure
inside the eye of mice, suggesting the use of the substance in the treatment of
glaucoma may actually worsen the condition. Investigative Opthalmology & Visual
Endurance Exercise Tied to Anti-Aging at Cellular Level: Endurance exercise has
anti-aging effects visible at the cellular level, according to a study
published online Nov. 28 in the European Heart Journal.The effect seen with aerobic endurance and
high-intensity training but not resistance training.
Replacing Sitting Time With Activity Lowers Mortality Risk: Replacing
prolonged sedentary bouts with physical activity reduces mortality risk, but no
benefit is seen for replacement with short sedentary bouts, according to a
study recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Short bouts of stair climbing throughout the day can boost health:
A few minutes of stair climbing, at short intervals throughout the day, can
improve cardiovascular health, according to new research. The findings,
published in the journal Applied
Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, suggest that virtually anyone
can improve their fitness, anywhere, any time.
Patients with Sleep Apnea Have Increased Gout Risk: Patients with obstructive
sleep apnea (OSA) are at higher risk for developing gout than patients without
OSA for more than a year after diagnosis, according to a study published in the
January issue of Arthritis & Rheumatology.
Body-painting protects against bloodsucking insects: A study by researchers from Sweden and Hungary shows
that white, painted stripes on the body protect skin from insect bites. It is
the first time researchers have successfully shown that body-painting has this
effect. Among indigenous peoples who wear body-paint, the markings thus provide
a certain protection against insect-borne diseases. Royal
Society Open Science
Five Brands of Dental Floss May Expose People to Harmful Chemicals: People may
absorbe PFAS perfluorohexane sulfonic acid when they floss. The following
products tested positive for PFAS compounds CVS Health EaseBetween SuperSlip
Dental Floss Waxed, Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Mint and Glide Pro-Health Original,
Crest Glide Deep Clean Cool Mint Floss, Safeway Signature Care Mint Waxed
Comfort Floss, and Colgate Total Dental Floss Mint. Buzzfeed
Exercise Can Halve Heart Attack Risk in Healthy People:New research, appearing in
the European Heart Journal, suggests that lack of physical activity
can drastically increase the risk of a heart attack in the long-term, even if
there are no symptoms at present. Higher fitness levels can halve the risk of
Stress May Raise the Risk of Alzheimer’s: Vital exhaustion, a marker of
psychological distress, may raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
Vital exhaustion describes "a mental state of psychological distress"
that manifests as irritability, fatigue and a feling of demoralization. Journal
of Alzheimer’s Disease
Binge eating and smoking linked to bullying and sexual abuse:People who ever
suffered bullying or sexual abuse have a lower quality of life similar to those
living with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, depression or
severe anxiety, a new study from the University of Adelaide has found. They are
also far more likely to display harmful behaviours like smoking dependence and
binge eating. BMC Public Health
Routine Supplements to Prevent Chronic Disease Not Advised: Routine use of vitamin and
mineral supplements to prevent chronic disease is not recommended, according to
an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position paper published in the November
issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Citing a
lack of available scientific evidence, the academy recommends against the
routine use of micronutrient supplements for prevention of chronic disease.
However, micronutrient supplementation may be beneficial for requirements
secondary to growth, specific chronic disease states, medication use,
malabsorption, pregnancy and lactation, and aging. The academy is concerned
that consumers may not be well informed about the safety and use of
micronutrient supplement products and some may have difficulty interpreting
Genetics may influence the effects of vitamin E on cancer risk:A new study has investigated whether taking vitamin E
supplements could affect risk of cancer and found that genetic variations in
the gene COMT influenced whether vitamin E decreased or increased risk of
developing cancer during and after the study periods. JNCI
High-Dose Vitamin D No Better Than Low-Dose:Low
blood levels of vitamin D are tied to bone loss that can lead to falls and
fractures. But taking vitamin D supplements in high doses showed no benefits
over low-dose vitamin D, a randomized trial found. American Journal of Clinical
optimizes vitamin D status, study shows:A randomized
trial by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers indicates that magnesium
optimizes vitamin D status, raising it in people with deficient levels and
lowering it in people with high levels. The
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
High Fiber Intake Tied to Lower Risk for Noncommunicable Disease:
High intake of fiber is associated with a reduced risk for several
noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), according to research published online Jan. 10
in the The Lancet. With a daily intake of dietary fiber of 25 to 29 g,
the risk reduction associated with a range of critical outcomes was greatest.
Higher intakes of dietary fiber could confer even greater benefit to protect
against cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal and breast
cancer, according to the researchers. The findings for whole grain intake were
Metabolic syndrome patients need more vitamin C to break cycle of antioxidant depletion:
A higher intake of vitamin C is crucial for metabolic syndrome patients trying
to halt a potentially deadly cycle of antioxidant disruption and health-related
problems. Estimated 35 percent of the U.S. adult population that suffers from
the syndrome. Eat five to 10 servings a day and then you'll get the fiber,
you'll get the vitamin C, and you'll really protect your gut with all of those
good things." Redox Biology
Age, BMI Predict Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment
Success: Among patients with
obstructive sleep apnea, older age and reduced body mass index (BMI) are
predictors of upper airway stimulation (UAS) treatment response, according to a
study published online Nov. 28 in the European Respiratory Journal.
Risk-Reducing Meds for Breast Cancer:The U.S.
Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends risk-reducing medications
for women at high risk for breast cancer who are at low risk for adverse
events, but medications are not recommended for routine use. These
recommendations form the basis of a draft recommendation statement published
online Jan. 15 by the task force.
Stem Cell transplant slows down MS Progression:A
preliminary clinical trial shows that stem cell transplantation, along with a
tolerable dose of chemotherapy, is safe and more effective at slowing down
multiple sclerosis than other existing therapies. JAMA
is a bit of a let down. The holiday decorations come down. The weather can be
very iffy and while I’m a firm believer of being outside for some portion of
every day, I’m also much more of an indoor person in the freezing cold that is
Vermont’s winters. So some tips on relieving the January blues and upping the
cozy and comfy
Leave up decorations that are winter related, particularly those with some red
for Valentine’s Day
Make soup, pie, or something that just makes the place smell yummy
Embrace the light-Lots and lots of candles; fire in the fireplace; soft
lighting to read by
Reduce the amount of wood/tile between you and your feet with throw rugs. Add a
bedside rug so your feet stay warm first thing in the morning. Use under pads
to keep rugs from slipping.
Lots of soft fabrics to snuggle in. Pillows, pillows and more pillows. Throws
on couches and overstuffed chairs with ottomans.
bedroom slippers by the front door so as soon as you come home you can slip off
your outdoor shoes and slip into comfy. Have some extra pairs for guests.
your bed every morning. Throw pillows make it look very inviting and cozy.
Flannel is incredibly inviting (and warm) so save the crisp cotton and linen
for the spring and summer months.
Decorate your kitchen/dinning table. A table runner adds a pop of color
Special mugs and array of teas, coffees and hot chocolates sitting out invite
you and your family to curl your fingers around something warm.
Plants, particularly forced bulbs, add a much welcome touch of color as well as
remind you that spring will come.
Let you pet snuggle on the couch with you
is a good time to check out your local thrift store as they receive a lot of
unwanted items people receive over the holidays. Many thrifties have Facebook
pages, so worth keeping an eye for items that will bring some extra coziness
love archeology, particularly the paleoindian period, which is over 11,000
years old. I’ve been working on various digs and am amazed to hold the tools
these people made. Now with the advent of DNA research, we’re getting a better
handle on who these people were, how they lived and yes their life expectancy.
was fascinated when Vermont’s state archeologist, Jess Robinson, spoke about
how farming was the undoing of the Paleoindians as they had it made with their
hunter-gatherer lifestyle. So this week I was immediately drawn to an article
in the Huffpost Does Medicine Actually Make People Live Longer?
spite of the research I’m actively involved with, I had no idea that the
paleoindian lifespan (for those surviving childhood) was pretty similar to
today's. Once people started cultivating crops, longevity suffered. Populations
boomed, unsanitary conditions arose, humans and domestic animals lived in close
proximity and it wasn’t long before infectious diseases significantly impacted
life expectancy. Note that children, up to the 20th century and the arrival of vaccines, were at high risk
for early deaths.
expectancy did not start rising again, and finally attain similar levels as our
10,000 year old ancestors, until about 100 years ago. Sanitation/public health
was the primary reason. Due to a better understanding of germs, significant
changes in drinking water, improved hygiene of those attending births and
caring for the sick, building sewers etc. all contributed to a spike in life
expectancy. By the mid 20th century, vaccines helped to eradicate
many childhood diseases so more people achieved adulthood and the arrival of
antibiotics helped to stop some of the diseases that have plagued humans since
they began farming.
heart disease, which hunter-gatherers rarely develop, is the leading cause of
death, with cancer in 2nd place, I was surprised to learn of the
2016 British Journal of Medicine study that found medical error is the third leading cause of death in the US.
Interestingly medical error is not included on death certificates or in
rankings of cause of death.
find it fascinating that people are obsessed with a vegan diet, swearing it
improves life expectancy, while at the same time there are many who find they
feel healthier eating a Paleo diet. In truth, we’re not going to be adopting a
hunter-gatherer lifestyle anytime soon-and no they were definitely not vegans.
let’s not throw the baby out with the bath, medicines have definitely saved
lives and they are important. My question is simple, does medicine deserve the
power that society today gives it? Might we do better if we had as much
promotion for healthy lifestyle choices as we do medications? Would we do
better to invest in communities to make the healthy choice the easy choice?
written about this many times in this blog, but we only need to look at the
Blue Zone cultures to see that lifestyle makes a far
bigger impact on longevity and quality of life than access to medical care. Programs are underway in the US to bring the Power Nine lifestyles of the Blue Zones to the US.
research is showing that it’s not too late to make changes as significant
advantages are happening in communities where they are making the healthier
choice the easy choice. However, many health professionals I talk to have never
heard of the Blue Zones studies and would rather promote medicines (cause it’s
easier and people are more likely to do it) than lifestyle changes.
Interestingly though, when you look at who is sponsoring a lot of the Blue
Zones projects it’s health insurers. They’re not stupid as they save money when
people adopt healthier lifestyles and therefore don’t need a lot of medical
medicine today is a “sick care” model. If we want to be active and healthy for
as long as possible we need to start shifting our focus at creating healthy
communities. Clearly the early public health pioneers did this when they worked
to implement sewers and other measures that resulted in improved lives and life
expectancy. We need to be building on that model by creating communities that
promote walking; places for people to gather and socialize; ways
for people to be involved so they have a sense of purpose; public gardening and
It’s cold, snowy, sleety and just plain nasty
out. What a wonderful pick me up to have a bowl of nice warm soup that you make
yourself. The house smells cozy delicious while it's bubbling away and you can include
whatever ingredients you like.
The simplest soups have the same basic method
• In a soup pot (Dutch oven) sauté aromatic
veggies (onion, garlic, celery, carrot, garlic) in some type of fat (butter,
olive oil, bacon drippings)
• Cook your meat if your using it
• Add the base (except for milk or cream),
veggies, meat and spices. Your base can be chicken, beef, fish or veggie stock
or broth. In general you want your broth to just cover the veggies and meat.
Can add tomatoes.
• Allow to simmer for an hour or two. However
Instant Pots are great.
• Taste and adjust seasonings as you go.
• Add cream or milk before serving. Another way
to get a thicker soup is to take some of the soup and puree it. This will
thicken the soup, without using milk or cream, particularly if you have potatoes in the recipe.
I like roasted vegetable soup. Put cauliflower,
garlic cloves skin on, onions and carrots in a sheet pan, sprinkle olive oil,
salt & pepper. Mix and bake at 450 for about a half hour or until they start
to brown up nicely. I’m pretty casual so I’ve been known to turn the oven off
after 20 minutes and let them sit in the oven for a couple of hours. I then put
the roasted veggies, removing the skin from the garlic, in a soup pot adding
some potato, 4 cups of chicken stock with additional spices if it needs it.
After the potatoes are fork tender, I puree in a blender until smooth. Add whatever
toppings you like. Crispy Fried Onions are pretty tasty. I also make this soup
using butternut squash in place of cauliflower and add a sweet potato instead
of white potatoes.
feels great to kick back in a comfy chair after a long day, watch a little TV,
read a book or take a nap. The bane of interior designers, many people have
recliners in their homes for just that purpose. Hospitals, same day surgery
centers and other medical facilities find them very useful in helping patients
to relax and even recover from procedures.
are generally considered chairs that slide back with a footrest and a headrest.
These can include “zero gravity chairs.” Glide rockers (great for nursing moms
and colicky babies) come with separate ottomans that also glide and there are
plenty of lounge chairs with ottomans that are quite comfortable.
vary significantly based on materials and features. You can certainly pick one
up at your local thrift store, or may even know someone who wants to get rid of
one. If this is something you wont be using for a long time-e.g. recovering
from surgery-you’d do well to check around to see if someone has one that fits
and that you can borrow. Don’t borrow a chair that doesn’t fit you as in the
long run it could cause you more problems.
Before buying, loaning or modifying a recliner
consider the following:
Types of recliners: There are a lot of
different designs of recliners that can fit your needs, wallet as well as
decor. Check out Wall Hugger Recliners for the pros and cons
of lift recliner, zero gravity and many other types.
that zero gravity chairs are very popular for their sleek design but also because
they are comfortable. I’ve known a number of patients, particularly those with
pain issues, who prefer them to the conventional recliner as they take pressure
off the body and are excellent for circulation issues. During the summer months
you’ll often see them advertised as the outdoor chair of choice for as low as
$50. These can be modified with cushions and blankets for indoor use. However,
they can be hard for some people as they require that you lean back in order to
achieve the zero gravity position. Also, the cheaper the chair the more likely
it will “slip” so it’s important to get one that locks and has a variety of
position options. The outdoor varieties are good for traveling, sitting by the
pool etc. If you want this to be a more permanent feature, it’s worth spending
the money to get one that fits properly and is made of more durable fabrics.
Proper Fit: There are two “proper fits” you need to consider. The first
is where the recliner will sit in your house. Measure carefully and understand
how much space the chair will take when it’s in the recline position. A
standard or basic recliner typically requires at least 1 foot of travel space
in front of the wall to open completely. Give a little more room so when the
chair is in fully reclined position it’s not almost toughing the wall.
The second is how it fits
your body. You don’t want a chair that is too high where your feet dangle or too
low, where your knees rise above the seat. Feet should fit flat on the ground. While it’s recommended that
you try out a chair before you purchase it, it may not be possible and/or if
you are purchasing a chair for someone else, measure carefully before shopping.
In order to get the best fit, use a tape measure and write down the distance: • from the back of your
knee to your heel • from your tailbone to the
back of your knee • from your elbow to the
end of the palm of your hand, where your fingers attach • from your right hip to
the left hip.
For the correct back
support, no gap should exist from your tailbone or lower back when seated
against the back and seat cushions, so the measurements from your tailbone to
your knees should equal the length of the recliner's seat cushion. When seated
-- not reclined -- your feet should rest flat on the floor and not dangle or
extend to where your heels are resting on the ground. This will create ample
knee and back support as well as allow circulation in your legs and feet. The
armrest should extend from your elbow to your hand resting at the end of your
palm for wrist support -- so the armrest equals your arm length from your elbow
to hand -- and the width of your chair should have at least a small gap --
about 1 inch -- from the armrest to both hips. Finally, when the chair is
reclined, the heels of your feet should fit comfortably at the edge of the
footrest, not dangling over or stopping in the middle; otherwise, the chair
will not provide the correct support for your back and legs. If it’s possible to test out the recliner do so. Sit on the
recliner. Raise the leg platform. Press the back to its most reclining
position. If it’s comfortable and you find yourself snuggling into the seat,
then consider purchasing the recliner. In a sitting position, be sure your
thighs are supported completely, and when sitting and reclined, note the lumbar
support. Make sure you can’t feel the frame when your arm presses on the
Ask the sales person for the “foam density rating,” meaning the
density of the filler. You want a recliner with a rating greater than 1.9 for a
long-lasting and comfortable seat.
Motorized: Clearly motorized are more
expensive and you can have more mechanical issues with them. However, if it’s
going to be hard to operate a side lever or you don’t have the strength to push
back into a reclining position, it will be worth the money to get a motorized
Modifying a Recliner:
This is a very common practice when a person has a recliner to modify it while
they recover from hip or other type of surgery. Watch the video below to learn about modifying one as well as additional tips on selecting a chair that fits your body.