"It’s important that we learn how to relieve the stress that builds during the day," Dr. Amit Sood, author of The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-free Living, says in a recent Mayo Clinic video. "Even a five-minute break can help in reducing your overall stress level."

Demanding days can make you sick, he said, and many medical conditions are made worse by stress. Sood discussed ideas to reduce that stress.

Describing the brain as "hungry for uplifting emotions," Sood said taking a break is step one.

After a few hours of intense focus, he recommends watching a funny video or listening to an uplifting song. Another idea is to send a friend an email, just to say hi.

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He also takes what he calls "wishing well walks."

On this short stroll, he silently wishes everyone he sees well.

"It never fails to uplift me," he said.


Vaccine refusal rates are up, new study shows

According to a new study, the Health in America Report by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, although vaccine rates continue to rise, so do vaccine refusal rates.

The rate of documented vaccine refusal went up by nearly 70 percent for children born in 2013 compared to those born in 2010.

The results of vaccine refusal played out in Minnesota last year, when an outbreak of measles, a disease that had been eradicated in 2000, spread through the public school system in the Twin Cities, hospitalizing dozens of unvaccinated children.

For more information, or to download the Health of America report, visit www.bcbs.com/healthofamerica.


Women and heart disease

Around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the U.S., says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other facts:

— While some women have no symptoms of heart disease, others may experience heavy sharp chest pain or discomfort, pain in the neck/jaw/throat, or pain in the upper abdomen or back.

— Conditions and lifestyle choices that increase a person’s chance for heart disease include diabetes, being overweight or obese, poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use.

— High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease.


10 easy ways to eat healthier

Making even small changes in your diet will help you lose weight, feel better and reap powerful health benefits in no time. Here’s how, according to Blue365:

— Start small. Small changes are easy to stick with.

— Plan your meals for the week. No surprise visits to fast-food outlets.

— Cook at home. You control what you eat.

— Explore your health insurance benefits. Some offer incentives for healthy living.

— Eat the rainbow. Colorful foods are nutrient-packed.

— Slash the sodium. Watch for hidden sources like cottage cheese and frozen shrimp.

— Watch your sugar. If there’s double-digit sugar counts on the label, ditch it.

— Meatless Mondays! A great way to get more veggies in.

— Eat anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich foods. Your overall health will thank you.

— Practice mindful eating. Focus on what you’re eating, how you’re nourishing your body, and how much you enjoy the taste of the food.