Carolyn L. Todd

Grunting, Screaming, and Sobbing My Way Through ‘The Class’ Is My New Self-Care

Grunting, Screaming, and Sobbing My Way Through ‘The Class’ Is My New Self-Care

After my first encounter with The Class, I knew immediately it was not for me. The electric workout with a mind-body-spirit bend started over a decade ago, and it quickly gained a fiercely loyal following. By the time I first tried it, in 2017, it was no longer new, but it was still just as fashionable and popular. When I stepped into the chic Tribeca studio brimming with the scent of palo santo, I was hit with the distinct vibes of a fitness cult a la SoulCycle in 2009, and an army of petite, pretty twentysomethings sporting smooth ponies and pastel, abs-baring Lululemon sets.The soundtrack was great and the workout itself was challenging, but I was turned off by the strange chorus of people “HAH”-ing (more on that later) or sobbing as they squatted, as well as the instructor’s bewildering suggestion as we slogged through the third long set of burpees that I just be with my burning quads and blaring thoughts (“FUCK THIS!”).Fast forward to September 2021: My exercise and meditation routines were starting to feel stale and rote. I was also looking for ways to get out of my head and into my body. After a recent spell of anxiety and depression spirals, I’d realized how thinking thinking thinking only ever led me in tighter circles. I would feel so effing stuck in my own head. I needed to drop into my body and let my contracted mind take a break.My sister, who had been doing The Class virtually and religiously (and rather loudly, in our tiny Brooklyn apartment) since the pandemic started, told me it was just the thing I was looking for. So I decided to give The Class one more go. And this time, I also knew immediately: This was now for me. The Class has since become a cornerstone of my self-care, mental wellbeing, and exercise routine—somewhere between therapy, meditation, and a good ol’ sweat session. So, what the hell is The Class, what changed for me, and why do I freaking love it today?The Class is better understood as a whole-being practice than a physical workout.Founded by former fashion exec Taryn Toomey in New York City in 2011, the Class combines an eclectic mix of elements—ritual, mindfulness, embodiment, repetitive and rhythmic movement, meditation, music, spiritual teachings, and vocalization. It blurs the line between workout and self-help, physical and energetic work, exercise science and woo-woo, sweat and spirit, routine and unpredictability, structure and fluidity, instruction and “you do you.”A classic Class, as led by Toomey or a few of my other favorite instructors, begins with grounding: eyes closed, hands on your torso, and a big stretch. The instructor drops in a nugget—a reflection, a question, an intention—on a topic like self-care or the ego, to inspire how you work with whatever arises over the next hour. The meat and potatoes of the class is a series of strength and cardio moves, each done for the length of a song: high-impact, full-body classics (squats, burpees, skaters, jumping jacks) and barre- and Pilates-inspired pulses or isometric holds targeting your butt or core. Sprinkled in are down dogs and child’s poses, modifications, reminders to return to your breath, bits of food for thought on that original theme, and, most eccentrically, cues to release sound: a forceful, verbal “HAH!” on the outbreath at the top of your burpee or an “Arggggh!” mid-mountain climber. The Class closes with heart-clearing, or heart-opening, where participants sit kneeling and flap their arms in front of and behind your chest, elbows bent.Between 2017 and now, I’ve changed in ways that have made me more open to what can unfold during a Class, if you allow it.A few years ago, I established a mindfulness meditation practice, cultivating a capacity and willingness to be present with my thoughts and emotions; study their patterns. And then at some point, I got kind of bored. My formal sitting routine started to feel more rote than supportive, the stillness more oppressive than grounding; the neutrality of observing my thoughts, clinical and intellectual. I was craving a livelier, juicier mindfulness practice when I re-encountered the Class.

I Have Diabetes and Finally Found a Fitness Tracker Made for Me

I Have Diabetes and Finally Found a Fitness Tracker Made for Me

Another interesting development is how I’ve started connecting the subtlest initial physical sensations of impending low or high sugar to my readings. Those earliest symptoms (like feeling a teeny bit faint or having a quickened heartbeat with low blood sugar, and a slight tinge of nausea or dehydration with high blood sugar) can mimic some of the effects of exercising, so it’s trickier for me to discern what is blood sugar-related or not during a workout. Checking that real-time data point against how my body is feeling more frequently has been helpful for learning more about what these sensations are indicating.The Venu 2S has really come in handy during workouts outside the house, too.While I mostly exercise at home, I’ve also used the Venu 2S while hiking in the mountains or at fitness studios in the city. It makes checking my blood sugar less of a hassle and more subtle—I can do it while in downward dog or on a Pilates reformer, for instance.Before the Garmin, I’d generally leave my phone in my bag during classes and look at my blood sugar on my pump. While I usually give the instructor a heads up that my insulin pump may beep during class, I still get side-eye from people (who perhaps think I’m checking my phone), and sometimes the instructor forgets and says something, too. That’s not on me—and no one should ever feel like they should conceal their medical technology—but I do like having a more discreet option that’s there if I want it.The Venu 2S is also a great diabetes management tool outside of exercise.My biggest surprise is how the Dexcom-Garmin integration has become a useful component of my diabetes care outside of working out, too. There are so many times during the day where glancing down at my wrist is simply more quick and seamless than consulting my phone or insulin pump. (Wearing my Garmin nearly around the clock is easy given the impressive battery life—as someone with a habit of letting my devices die, I love that a full charge lasts a good four to five days.)I’ve found the watch useful while driving, walking, showering, booking it through the airport, and even getting a massage. It’s also been clutch in certain social situations—while out to dinner with a friend, at a movie, or on a date, for instance. (My phone is often in my bag and my pump tucked in my back pocket or bra, making it a little awkward to fish out.). Plus, I like not having to take out my phone mid-conversation.Something else I appreciate is how the customizability of the Venu 2S lets me take what I need from a smartwatch and leave the rest behind. I can turn off a lot of the notifications that feel excessive and pare down the data visible on the screens so I’m not overwhelmed by metrics. I’ve only scratched the surface of this watch’s tracking capabilities, but the reality is that I’m already required to quantify and monitor so much when it comes to my health for the sake of diabetes management, that adding more of that to the mix is just not a priority.And overall, it’s a good general fitness tracker—though there are a few drawbacks.Outside of the CGM functionality, I really like this watch as a general fitness tracker. The touch screen, side buttons, and accompanying app are all simple and intuitive to use. While I haven’t utilized some of the Venu 2S’s more advanced fitness tracking capabilities, I still find the most basic metrics valuable. I love seeing my heart rate get up there when I’m really pushing myself, as well as my heart rate range breakdown after my workout—it enhances my sense of accomplishment more than I thought a number would. I’m a big walker, so I like the step count function too. And the distance tracker was helpful while hiking.

19 Creative Ways to Get a Little Self-Care Outside

Kuang and her ANFT colleagues lead therapeutic nature walks inspired by Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing), an evidence-based Japanese practice where you immerse yourself in the soothing, healing forest atmosphere. “Forest bathing is more about being here versus getting there,” Kuang explains.Why a forest? Forests are rich in not only oxygen and beauty but phytoncides—chemicals emitted by trees that researchers believe explain some of the research suggesting that forest bathing is good for the immune system, Dr. Stryer explains. A few small studies have shown that forest bathing interventions increase natural killer cells (a type of anti-cancer and anti-microbial white blood cells).11. Try nature journaling.Nature journaling is a method of observational, illustrative journaling championed in the modern age by naturalist John Muir Laws (no relation to naturalist John Muir). The essence of the field sketching practice is paying attention to, reflecting on, and recording your surroundings, and all you need to get started is a sketchbook and pen or pencil. “It’s a wonderful process to help you be present where you are, and a great way to make memories of where you’ve been,” Dr. Razani says. You can learn more about the process on Laws’s site, where he offers a free book and video series.12. Go barefoot.An easy way to immediately feel more grounded in the most literal sense is to take your shoes off and feel the earth—the grass, the sand, the soil—with the bottoms of your feet, Kamau says. (Only if it’s safe, of course!) “There’s this instant sense of rejuvenation and renewal when I am able to place my feet on the [ground],” Kamau says. (Kuang is also a fan.) At least one small study has found that grounding (also called earthing) is associated with improved mood, and while the science is nascent, some research suggests it may also have positive physiological effects (on inflammation, for instance).13. Find a sit spot.A sit spot is just what it sounds like: an outdoor spot—your yard, a nearby park bench—where you go sit over and over again. Mortali says this is one of the most simple, accessible, and powerful ways to experience nature more deeply. “You just basically sit,” Mortali says. “The idea is to be still and keep your eyes open, and just allow yourself to observe what’s moving and what’s happening on the land for 15 to 30 minutes on a regular basis.”A lot of formal meditation practices are about holding your attention on a specific anchor, like your breath. “The cool thing about sit spots is that you let your attention go wherever it’s fascinated,” Mortali explains. A flower bobbing in the breeze, a buzzing bumblebee, a slowly moving cloud. This sort of soft focus is pretty much the opposite of squinting at a screen. “It’s a very restorative practice to help us recover from attention fatigue from over-focusing,” Mortali says.14. Challenge yourself physically.It’s nice to get out of our heads and into our bodies sometimes. “Feeling like you’re grounded in your physical body is a way to connect to yourself and can be really important for healing,” Dr. Razani says. While sitting in a meditation posture is the best way to do that for some people, others might find that a bit of movement and sweat, like a hike or vigorous walk, is actually more effective. “The physical challenge of being on uneven terrain or pushing yourself can help you become more embodied and present in your physical body,” Dr. Razani explains.15. Befriend a tree.Returning to the same place over and over again is a common theme with restorative nature practices. Applying that principle to one tree specifically is a special way to start cultivating a more intimate connection with nature, Kuang says. Because “a tree is not just a dumb vegetable—it’s a life form that has its own innate intelligence.” You can watch the tree change through the seasons and weather storms, or get to know its inhabitants. Over time, you can develop a greater appreciation for the tree’s steady presence, and how generously it provides you with shade and oxygen and beauty. You can even talk to it like you might a pet. “It sounds odd,” Kuang says. “But I’ve learned that a lot of people talk to trees!”16. Make some art.Research suggests that nature fosters the creative process, and creativity in itself can be rejuvenating. Bring along some drawing or painting materials—or try using the nature around you. On a recent guided walk, Kuang cleared a space on the forest floor to create a blank canvas, and had participants collect objects that spoke to them—fallen leaves, rocks, sticks, flowers—and organically arrange them on the ground as a sort of contemplative art project. Try the same on your own for a fun experiment. This activity is less about capturing your surroundings (like with nature journaling), and more about stretching your creative muscles and using nature itself as your plate and paper.17. Pick up some eco-conscious habits.Mother Earth is always giving—food, minerals, sunsets, rain, beauty, oxygen—and we’re in the habit of taking, depleting her resources without giving back. “Many of us have a really one-sided relationship with the Earth,” Kamau says. While we often think of being eco-conscious as something we just do for the planet, Kamau points out that being kinder to the environment is good for us, too—being alone in nature and connecting with the natural world feels better when we know we are treating the earth well in our daily lives. “When you are in a reciprocal relationship, it’s beneficial for both sides,” Kamau explains. “That truly is restorative.”

This Plant-Based Meal Kit Has Delicious Freezer-To-Table Meals

This Plant-Based Meal Kit Has Delicious Freezer-To-Table Meals

I unexpectedly had to run out for a few hours on Wednesday evening, and when I got home my giant box was waiting for me downstairs in my apartment building. When I opened the box, everything was waiting for me—the recyclable cardboard containers all neatly stacked and still frozen inside an insulated freezer bag lined with dry ice packs. I loved that all the packaging is recyclable. Ease of UseDaily Harvest’s meals couldn’t be easier to prep. You simply pop one out of the freezer and follow the heating instructions, sometimes adding a couple of tablespoons of water (or broth if you want). Most dishes take six minutes or less and can be made in the microwave or on the stovetop. The microwave is easiest since you can cook the meal right in the container. The stovetop method dirties a pan and produces only a very slightly better texture (to my surprise). I would often top things with an additional sprinkle of seasoning or a squeeze of lemon juice. The only meals that require any foresight and more than a few minutes are the flatbreads and harvest bakes, which have to bake in a pretty hot oven for 20-27 minutes. I cheated and used my beloved air-fryer instead a few times, which cut the cooking time in half and yielded great results. And the protein crumbles—a supplementary meal add-on—were the most work to make. And when I say “work,” I definitely mean emptying the desired amount of crumbles into a nonstick pan, breaking apart with a fork, and stirring over medium-high heat for five to seven minutes.Nutrition ProfileDaily Harvest’s nutritional profile is generally stellar. The plant-based meals are packed with a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds—plus spices, plant oils, umami-rich flavor enhancers (like miso, mushroom powder, or nutritional yeast), and fresh and dried herbs. That means plenty of complex carbs, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, 95% of the ingredients are organic. I can’t deny how nourished my body felt eating these meals. My main complaint about many of Daily Harvest’s meals is that they’re not quite enough—many are on the lower end in terms of protein and overall calories. I purposely selected as many meals containing beans and legumes as I could for that reason, but even so a lot of them failed to provide more than 10 or 15 grams of protein or 400 calories. That’s fine for a lighter meal or big snack, but not as a comprehensively nourishing, totally satisfying, keep-me-full-for-hours kind of meal. I found a few ways to make up for the less satiating, lower-protein menu items (like the smaller bowls or lighter soups). I could either eat two dishes together, add a serving of the protein crumbles (13 grams per serving), or stir in some extra ingredients of my own (like nutritional yeast, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, or diced tempeh). The only thing about the crumbles, which are made with ingredients like lentils, hemp seeds, and walnuts, is that they’re quite high in fat, adding 18 or 24 grams of fat to my meals (depending on the flavor), many of which had a good amount of fat as is. That may not bother most people—fat is good for us and has a positive satiating effect. But for me, higher-fat meals can be difficult to dose insulin properly for and keep my blood sugar in range over the next few hours, thanks to how fat delays the absorption of carbs. Again, probably not an issue for most folks—just something to note for anyone who tries to avoid high-fat meals for whatever reason.Overall Taste and SatisfactionDaily Harvest meals are prepared plant-based food at its best. The meals were shockingly textured, flavorful, and fragrant for frozen food. (According to Daily Harvest, they harvest their produce at peak ripeness and flash-freeze it to preserve the taste and texture.) While in my past experience frozen produce can sometimes end up tasting kind of blah, mushy, and all the same, the flavors were strong and easily identifiable; the textures appropriately delicate and tender or firm and crunchy, depending on the ingredient. The mulberries in my oatmeal were plump and juicy while the steel-cut oats were firm and chewy. The diced carrots in my bolognese were crunchy while the lentils were just soft enough and the tomatoes ripe. 

I’m a Home Baker with Diabetes and Swear by These Sugar Substitutes

I’m a Home Baker with Diabetes and Swear by These Sugar Substitutes

As a person with diabetes, a massive sweet tooth, and a set of anti-diet values, sugar and sugar substitutes are something I’ve wrestled with quite a bit. Sugar restriction crashed into my orbit when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age seven. During my hospital stay, I learned that sugary foods were now a challenge for my body, and found comfort in the candy-red cups of sugar-free Jello that I was allowed to safely enjoy—my first taste of a substance that tasted sweet, but wouldn’t affect my blood glucose like actual sugar.I came home to a pantry cleared of sweets, soon replaced by sugar-free versions of everything. Sugar-free pudding after school and sugar-free Swiss Miss at bedtime. Sugar-free chocolate Santas on Christmas and bunnies on Easter. At restaurants, little pink and blue packets of white powder mixed in with lemon water for sugar-free lemonade.In theory, these sugar-free treats satisfied my sweet tooth without spiking my blood sugar. In reality, they delivered an artificial approximation of the real thing that tasted just close enough to what I really wanted—without ever actually hitting the spot—that I kept coming back for more. But as I got older, I was increasingly turned off by the saccharine overload, icky aftertaste (hello, aspartame), serious stomach upset (thanks, sugar alcohols), and sense of perpetual dissatisfaction. By my mid-teens, I admitted to myself that the miraculous promise of sugar substitutes was too good to be true after all, and all but cut them out.Today, sugar substitutes and I are on happier terms. First, I now eat plenty of the real thing. I think the demonization of sugar in recent years—similarly to the austere medical guidance I received as a kid—has done real harm to people’s relationships with food. I firmly believe that eating real sugar every damn day can be part of a balanced and varied diet, people with diabetes very much included. At the same time, it’s a biological reality that processing a large amount of sugar is different for me. A healthy pancreas can handle an influx of simple sugars no problem, but the insulin pump I use to try and mimic my pancreas is imperfect. (Even if I precisely calculate and time my insulin dose, my blood sugar can soar.)Sometimes this tradeoff is 100% worth it, and sometimes I want to enjoy a tray of homemade brownies without worrying about my blood sugar or feeling like crap shortly after—which is where sugar substitutes come in handy. “Sugar alternatives can be a helpful tool to add sweetness without the blood sugar spikes of actual sugar,” Hailey Crean, RD, a Boston-based certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified intuitive eating counselor, tells SELF.While I still generally avoid most sugar-free packaged foods, sugar substitutes have become a helpful (and fun!) ingredient in one of my favorite hobbies: baking. I love creatively tinkering with recipes—muffins, quick breads, cookies, bars—to lower the final product’s glycemic load (impact on my blood sugar) without sacrificing taste. I often swap out anywhere from ¼ to ¾ of the sugar in a recipe for a sugar substitute (in addition to adding yummy sources of blood sugar-friendly fiber, like nuts, fruit, and whole-wheat flour). While it depends on the sweetener and the recipe, I generally notice very modest effects on my blood sugar (and digestive system), and the baking results are excellent.Originally, I felt conflicted about using sugar substitutes because I worried it clashed with my anti-diet stance and intuitive eating aspirations. But I realized that shunning sugar alternatives because I feel like I should mirrors the black-and-white thinking around food that makes diet culture so harmful. Today I embrace the nuance of being an anti-diet, diabetic sweets lover, and see sugar substitutes not as a silver bullet but a tool for helping me find balance with priorities that can sometimes feel in competition—enjoying food, and my life, while also taking care of my body. “For someone living with diabetes, we ideally want to keep the diet as liberal and enjoyable as possible while still keeping blood sugar in mind,” as Crean puts it. “Using sugar alternatives can sometimes support this goal.”Of course, everyone’s body and relationship to food is different, and the physical effects and emotional implications of sugar substitutes are very individualized, Courtney Darsa, RD, a Manhattan-based certified diabetes care and education specialist and owner of Nourishing NY, tells SELF. It really depends on the person’s health history, food history, tolerance for various sweeteners, and preferences.Darsa’s advice is to pay close attention to how sugar substitutes affect your system in a holistic way—from your blood sugar’s response to gastrointestinal issues to your sense of satisfaction—to learn what’s best for you. After eating sugar substitutes, “ask yourself, ‘How do I feel, mentally, physically, and emotionally?’” Darsa advises. If you have diabetes and/or other challenges surrounding sugar, it’s best to discuss all this with a health-care provider who understands how sugar substitutes can impact your body and well-being, like an endocrinologist, registered dietitian, or certified diabetes care and education specialist.All that said, if you are looking to experiment with sweet alternatives in the kitchen (or just in your morning coffee), then let’s talk about the best sugar substitutes. There are a ton of options on the market today, and I’ve sampled a lot of them. Thankfully, the overall quality has improved significantly over the last couple of decades—thank you, science!—and many come much closer to the real thing than the Splendas, liquid stevias, and maltitols of years past. Again, these recommendations are based on my personal experience, but you should trust your gut, monitor your blood sugar, and consult your health-care team (and taste buds!) about what works for you. Here are my favorite sugar substitutes.

These Photos Show What a Monkeypox Rash Actually Looks Like

These Photos Show What a Monkeypox Rash Actually Looks Like

Questions about the rare monkeypox virus are on the rise in tandem with reports about new cases of the zoonotic disease. Among them: How worried should you be about the recent outbreak? How does monkeypox spread? And what does a monkeypox rash look like, anyway?After confirming the first U.S. case in Massachusetts last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating four suspected cases of the virus at the time of publication, all of which are in men who recently traveled outside the country, NBC News reports. The smallpox-related virus, typically endemic to areas of western and central Africa, has also been reported in at least 15 other North American countries and European countries where it’s not normally found, according to a travel notice from the CDC. As of May 21, the World Health Organization (WHO) had received reports of 92 lab-confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases in 12 countries. While scientists and public health officials in the U.S. and abroad continue to monitor the outbreaks, the risk to the general public is low, experts say. Case numbers are relatively small and we do have vaccines that could help prevent or treat the illness should they be needed, per the CDC. But as headlines about monkeypox continue to percolate into your newsfeed, you might have understandable concerns and questions about what you should be aware of, just in case. What are the typical signs and symptoms of monkeypox? What makes a monkeypox rash different from other skin rashes? Here’s what you should know. What are the most common monkeypox symptoms? The incubation period for monkeypox (the time between getting infected and showing the first signs of illness) is on average one to two weeks but can range anywhere from five days to three weeks, according to the CDC. People do not have symptoms and are not contagious during the incubation period. The next period is called the prodrome period, when the first set of symptoms occurs (not including a rash). According to the CDC, the most common early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, malaise, headache, and swollen lymph nodes. Symptoms might also include a sore throat and cough, muscle aches, backache, chills, and exhaustion. The swollen lymph nodes may occur in the neck area, armpits, or groin, on both sides of the body or just one. Lymph nodes usually swell at the same time as the fever begins, or one to two days before the rash begins (or, rarely, at the same time as the rash begins), the CDC says. People may or may not be contagious during this time. One to three days after the fever starts—though sometimes a little longer—the monkeypox rash begins to appear. What does a monkeypox rash look like and how does it progress?A monkeypox rash has a very distinct appearance—clearly defined and deep-set lesions—and follow a specific progression of stages over the course of two to three weeks, as the CDC and WHO explain. 

Here’s How the U.S. Handled Its Last Big Monkeypox Outbreak

Here’s How the U.S. Handled Its Last Big Monkeypox Outbreak

Symptoms of monkeypox are similar to smallpox but milder. Symptoms usually begin one to two weeks after exposure. Early on, this can include fever, headache, exhaustion, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes (which is the only notable symptom present with monkeypox but not smallpox), according to the CDC. One to three days later, a rash appears, often starting on the face and then spreading to other areas of the body. The lesions change over time, eventually turning into pustules and then scabs before falling off. People are usually sick for two to four weeks. The 2003 monkeypox outbreak was contained through a multi-pronged approach.Spearheaded by the CDC, federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and state public health departments, the response included lab testing; epidemiological investigation; the development of treatment guidelines for patients and doctors, as well as vets and other people who handle animals; the distribution of smallpox vaccines and treatments; and federal regulation. For instance, the CDC quickly issued a ban on the importation of African rodents (dead or alive), including animals who were born outside of the African continent but whose native habitat is in Africa. The FDA also issued a ban on the interstate sale, transportation, or release of prairie dogs and six types of African rodents, though it was rescinded in 2008.That first outbreak was a primer on how to quickly mount a multifaceted defense. It also prompted authorities to take preparatory steps that left us better resourced to handle the situation today. Namely, the government renewed interest in smallpox vaccination, which has not been routine in the U.S. since 1972, when smallpox was eradicated, according to the CDC. (Currently, the smallpox vaccination is only recommended for military personnel and lab workers who work with certain kinds of poxviruses.)Observational studies in Africa have indicated that smallpox vaccinations are about 85% effective in preventing monkeypox, per the WHO. Experts also think that getting vaccinated after monkeypox exposure can help either prevent the disease or lessen the severity, the CDC explains. (The agency recommends vaccination within four days of exposure.) The U.S. is in the process of securing more smallpox vaccines in the event of an emergency. The Danish pharmaceutical company that created the smallpox vaccine licensed for use against monkeypox in the U.S. said in a news release that the U.S. government is exercising options from an existing contract to order $119 million in smallpox vaccines to be manufactured starting next year. However, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson told Axios that this order was unrelated to the recent monkeypox cases. The company says they have been working with the U.S. government on the smallpox vaccine since 2003. Another smallpox vaccination has also been FDA-approved for monkeypox prevention, although it isn’t CDC-recommended or available yet. The CDC committee that issues vaccine recommendations is currently evaluating that vaccine for use in people whose jobs put them at higher risk of exposure.The federal government says it is monitoring the current situation in the U.S. closely.“We’re working on it hard to figure out what we do,” President Joe Biden said on Sunday.  continued. “It is a concern in the sense that if it were to spread, it’s consequential.”He also sent a more hopeful message during a news conference in Tokyo on Monday, per USA Today. “I just don’t think it rises to the level of the kind of concern that existed with COVID-19,” President Biden said.Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, told ABC News on Sunday that he feels the country is well-prepared should the outbreak grow. “This is a virus we understand. We have vaccines against it,” Dr. Jha said. “I am confident we’re going to be able to keep our arms around it. We’re going to track it very closely and use the tools we have to make sure that we continue to prevent further spread and take care of the people who get infected.” Related:

Here’s How to Find Empathetic Mental Health Support for Your Trauma

Here’s How to Find Empathetic Mental Health Support for Your Trauma

Finally, you’ll want to learn about how the therapist works, Dr. Crawford says. In addition to some of the points covered earlier, ask direct questions like the following: What trauma-informed approaches are you trained or certified in? How does that treatment work? How would you describe your style of working?10. Ask yourself if you can envision working with this person.Another purpose of the first session (or first few sessions) is feeling out the dynamic of the therapeutic relationship, Dr. Bryant says. After a session while it’s still fresh, check in with yourself and reflect on whether you feel comfortable and emotionally safe connecting with this person, she recommends. Do you feel like you were heard, respected, understood, and validated? Did you feel a sense of calm, safety, or hopefulness in their presence? Those are positive signs, Dr. Bryant says. On the contrary, do you feel like you were misunderstood, disrespected, dismissed, talked over, or talked down to? Did you feel a sense of unease, lack of safety, or coldness in their presence? Those are generally signs the therapist is not the right fit.11. Don’t be discouraged if it’s not a match.“I want to normalize the experience of having to meet with several different therapists before you find the right fit,” Dr. Crawford says. If it doesn’t feel like a match, it doesn’t mean therapy is not for you, Dr. Bryant emphasizes—it just means it’s not the right therapist for you.A non-match can also be a good opportunity to reflect on what didn’t feel right, Dr. Bryant says, which can help guide your search going forward. For instance, you might make a list of what you did and didn’t like about the interaction, questions that you wished you asked sooner for next time, or qualities that are important to you in a therapist that you didn’t realize before.12. Have an honest conversation about medication.While therapy is a cornerstone of trauma care, medication is also “a really helpful tool” for some people, Dr. Crawford says. Antidepressants, which are the most studied drugs for PTSD, can help reduce distressing symptoms and therefore help enhance a person’s quality of life. In turn, they may feel better engaged in the deeper healing work of therapy, Dr. Crawford says.If you start your trauma treatment search at your primary care doctor’s office, you can ask them about medication, including what side effects you might experience and whether you may need to try various medications before you find the best fit. A therapist is also a great resource here. “You can share some of your ongoing symptoms and get their insights as to whether medications could be helpful,” as well as a psychiatrist referral if you’re interested, Dr. Crawford says.It’s also entirely understandable if you are feeling nervous or hesitant about medication. “If you prefer not to take medication for whatever reason, let your therapist know so they can provide coping techniques tailored to your personal preferences,” Dr. Crawford adds. “Therapists can provide support to help you navigate your situation without medication.”13. Consider support groups or group therapy.If you can’t afford one-on-one therapy, consider support groups (which are free) or group therapy (which is typically lower cost). These groups offer a safe space for openly talking about your experience and learning about additional resources, Dr. Crawford says. “Seeing other people in recovery can open up your mind to the possibility that recovery is a possibility for you,” she adds.

The Hidden Trauma of My Chronic Illness

The Hidden Trauma of My Chronic Illness

That’s the first traumatic memory that I ever recovered and worked through with my current therapist, four years ago now. Processing Penny’s death and the way it affected me—how it seeded deep in me fears of my own body and fate—was the breakthrough I needed to recognize the tremendous trauma that had been slowly unfolding within me over many years.Chronic illness is an under-recognized and misunderstood source of trauma. “Oftentimes in our society and our culture, we think about trauma as something that’s associated with combat or a very violent, terrifying event,” Ashwini Nadkarni, MD, a Harvard Medical School instructor and psychiatrist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital who specializes in working with people living with a chronic illness, told me. “What’s not well understood is that the burden of having a chronic medical condition very much meets those criteria for a trauma experience.”The trauma of my diabetes diagnosis began to manifest in the perfect storm of adolescence. I was experiencing new stressors: my mom’s mental health struggles, and, having managed my own care for a couple years now, diabetes burnout—a term used to describe feeling emotionally fried by the around-the-clock management. Never-processed traumas billowed up into waves of anger, terror, self-loathing, and, though I couldn’t name it then, grief—for the body, the health, the easy relationship with food, the self-trust, and the potential future I had lost. At 13, for the first time, I grappled with the magnitude and permanence of my disease.I blamed myself for getting diabetes. I believed my existence was a burden on everyone, a feeling I can trace back to a specific memory from a few years earlier. On a family vacation in Utah one summer, we were trying to figure out who was going on a hike with my parents and who was staying back, and I volunteered to join. Once my parents were out of earshot, my sister hissed at me, “Don’t you think Mom and Dad want to get away from worrying about you and your diabetes for once?” The guilt crushed me, and I didn’t feel like going after all.Paralyzing fear and morbid assumptions clouded my visions of the future. These core beliefs have been the hardest for me to recognize as traumatic residue, because for many years they were simply the lens through which I saw myself and the world. Beliefs like: I will probably experience complications like going blind and kidney failure by the time I’m 30. I shouldn’t have children because they will be sick and hate me. I will die young.I was besieged not by traumatic flashbacks, but traumatic flash-forwards into a coffin of sickness and suffering. Depression and anxiety consumed me. Intrusive thoughts and a sense of impending doom kept me up at night as I googled phrases like “average life expectancy female type 1 diabetic.”I eventually started attending therapy and taking antidepressants. With a body I saw as fundamentally, irreversibly broken, I readily accepted that my brain was broken too. I started to numb out with sugar, an exceptionally self-destructive impulse for a person with type 1 diabetes. I developed a binge eating disorder—which wreaked havoc on my blood sugar—that I hid from everyone.

There’s an ‘Unprecedented’ Bird Flu Outbreak—Here’s What Scientists Want You to Do

There’s an ‘Unprecedented’ Bird Flu Outbreak—Here’s What Scientists Want You to Do

Bird watchers across the U.S. received a sobering request this week amid rising concerns about an ongoing outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu virus in wild birds and poultry. On Wednesday, the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota advised people to take down their bird feeders in order to discourage the congregating of song birds and help curb an “unprecedented outbreak” of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in wild birds. Scientists are urging caution in the face of many unknowns about this strain of HPAI, a particularly contagious and hard-to-kill version of the H5N1 virus, although it is thought to pose low risk to the general human population, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts know that certain wild bird species (like waterfowl and seabirds) are more likely to be vectors for the virus—which spreads via feces and respiratory secretions—without appearing ill, and that it’s common for raptor species (like eagles) to quickly develop severe illness and die. But less is understood about how this unusual outbreak of HPAI may spread or present in other less surveilled species, like songbirds. “Unfortunately, we have a lot of gaps in knowledge about the role of songbirds in HPAI outbreaks,” veterinary epidemiologist and executive director Victoria Hall, DVM, wrote on the Raptor Center’s Facebook page. While experts have some data from past outbreaks in other countries to work with, this current outbreak is “unique” from those instances because of the extremely high levels of wildlife transmission seen with the strain of H5N1 currently circulating, Dr. Hall explained. “During these unprecedented times, we recommend doing anything that we can to try and help our wild bird populations,” Dr. Hall said. “Because the science is unclear on the role of songbirds in this current H5N1 outbreak, one consideration is to not encourage birds to gather together at places such as bird feeders or bird baths. These are places where things like viruses could easily be exchanged between individuals.” The center is asking people to stop using bird feeders and bird baths for the next couple of months, until there is a significant decline in transmission rates. The Raptor Center is testing and treating wild birds like bald eagles and great horned owls that are “intensely suffering from fatal neurological illness due to HPAI” on a daily basis, according to Dr. Hall—who notes that “humane euthanasia is the only tool we have left to help them.” Scientists at the raptor center have also observed severe illness connected to this outbreak in species like blue jays, crows, ducks, and geese. Since this avian flu outbreak began in late 2021, the virus has been detected and reported in 637 wild birds in 31 states (as of April 8, 2022) and over 27,000,000 backyard and commercial poultry (as of April 15), per CDC data. The virus spreads particularly easily in the crowded, wet conditions at commercial poultry farms, requiring farmers to euthanize entire flocks—including over 24,000,000 chickens and turkeys in the U.S. over the past two months, as CBS Minnesota reports.

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