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Take a deep breath and other tips to keep holiday stress in check




Emily Thring is no stranger to stress. As the founder and director of a small but growing business, Thring faces daily challenges of managing a team, timelines and customers. Despite her business being in a critical moment — she opened her first storefront on King St. West in June — she finds simple ways to achieve peace and calm.

“Taking a five-minute meditation break helps me manage my long, busy days,” she says.

And Thring knows a thing or two about staying grounded. Her business, the Quiet Company, is marketed as Toronto’s first modern meditation studio. Unlike most meditation centres, the Quiet Company is secular and appeals to millennials and young professionals wanting to reduce stress and achieve clarity in thoughts.

And this time of year, stress can run high.

“The rushing, hurrying and the expectations that exist around the holidays make me stressed out,” she says. “Practising mindfulness and meditation helps me be more present in what I’m feeling and experiencing. It’s reconnecting with that true intention of the holiday season.”

Here’s how Thring would combat a few common stressful holiday scenarios:

Battling a packed shopping mall

“Stop and take a breath,” says Thring. “You are not alone in your experience of the lineups and the anxiety. Everyone is in the same boat.”

At the Quiet Company, Thring teaches breathing exercises to stay calm.

“Go to a quiet space. If you’re at a shopping mall, it could be a changing room or a bathroom. Take five deep breaths, really big inhales. Hold them at the top and exhale through the mouth. You’ll very quickly feel your energy shift.”

Preparing to host a big holiday meal

Take a moment to think of things you’re grateful for, says Thring.

“A gratitude practice in these moments is incredibly grounding and a great way to tap into those feelings of why you’re doing what you’re doing,” she says.

“List three to five things that you’re grateful for. They could be big or small, anything from the warm coffee you had this morning that gave you energy, to the house that you’re about to welcome your friends and family into. Bringing those feelings into our body and into our hearts makes us more present and more centred.”

Getting through end-of-year office deadlines

“Take a moment of transition between walking into the office or walking into your home after a long day of stressful work, to breathe or sit for a guided meditation. Even one minute resets your energy levels and brings you back to where you are,” says Thring.

For those new to mindfulness, another technique she recommends is called box breathing.

“Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts and hold for four counts. You sort of form the shape of A box with your breaths. You can visualize it or you can just do the counts.”

Beyond being mindful, people tend to have high expectations over the holidays — for themselves and for others — which can be highly stressful and if they are not careful can lead to feelings of disappointment and resentment. Toronto psychotherapist Katharine King, who has been guiding clients through challenging scenarios for more than a decade, says she sees “a lot of stress around where to spend the holidays, and how to fit in as many people as possible” in her practice.

“There’s a lot of pressure to be spread very thin,” King says.

King notices people can engage in unfair self-judgment and encourages taking a more compassionate approach in trying times. “Try to have the same compassion for yourself that you would for other people,” she says.

Here are a few tips from King on managing expectations over the holidays.

Set limits to the number of events you can attend

King reminds us of the “spoon theory,” a metaphor that conveys the limitations of those with chronic illnesses. It uses spoons as a unit of energy, representing the limited mental or physical capacities someone has to expend in a day. While some individuals may feel like they have limitless “spoons,” others may have to use more “spoons” than others to complete everyday tasks while some may run out of “spoons” before the day ends.

“There can be pressure to participate in more things than you have “spoons” for,” says King. “Very stressful events might take more spoons than you have.”

She encourages those who feel they have fewer “spoons” to set limits on what they can accomplish. The holiday season might also be a good time to share these limits with family members and friends, or be mindful of the limits of others. “It would do well for all of us to be sensitive to other people’s energy levels and capacity,” says King.

Balance distorted thinking

Some people are afraid of turning down invitations to holiday parties because they fear other will think the worst of them. King says this negative, distorted thinking can “catastrophize” events with thoughts such as “If I don’t show up to this party, so-and-so is going to be mad at me. Then it’s going to be awkward and I’m not going to see them anymore and our relationship is going to be over.”

King encourages clients to breakdown the thoughts that are causing stress.

“Think about your history with that person,” she suggests. “Has anything like this come up in the past? How did they react? What are the chances they’ll be upset about this one event? Would it be in character for them to hold it against you? Probably not.”

After reviewing the evidence, King helps clients reframe their reaction with more balanced thoughts. “So-and-so might be disappointed, but I’ll try to explain it to them and hope that they understand. And I trust that our friendship is stronger than this one event.”


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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high




(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine




(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states




In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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