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Head Back to School With 4 Be’s for Mental Health

RisMedia Consumer News - August 7, 2020 - 11:00pm

(TNS)—The COVID-19 pandemic has caused much stress and uncertainty for students, parents, teachers and staff.

“For students and the adults who care for them, the desire is so strong to have our lives return to normal, which also involves schooling,” says Craig Sawchuk, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic psychologist. “School is one of the most important places that we learn and grow intellectually, socially and emotionally.”

Whether classes meet in person or online, or use a hybrid approach, one thing is certain: Mental health is a vital part of the equation, Dr. Sawchuk says. To work on a healthy mindset for this school year, it may help to actively focus on the following 4 Be’s, Dr. Sawchuk suggests:

– Be flexible. Stay open to the possibility that the format of schooling might change over the course of the year.

– Be optimistic. Maintain a positive attitude about learning new ways to learn.

– Be supportive. Contribute to keeping the learning environment as safe as possible by practicing social distancing, masking and proper hand hygiene.

– Be kind. Be patient with each other as everyone works toward a common goal of ending the pandemic.

As schools determine their approaches, students will need varying behavioral health support based on their age and the class format, says Dr. Sawchuk.

For In-Person Schooling

Elementary school students may not fully understand why all the health and safety practices are happening.

“Parents and teachers, this is one more example of when modeling safe practices and answering questions patiently and calmly will offer reassurance to the young people in your life,” Dr. Sawchuk says.

Middle school, high school and college students may find their emotions vary between excitement and anxiety.

“It’s okay to not feel okay during these pandemic times, and teens and older students may need to hear that affirmed by the adults in their lives,” suggests Dr. Sawchuk.

One way to challenge worry at any age is by focusing on other possible outcomes and on steps to minimize exposure to risk, Dr. Sawchuk notes.

“Seek out information from reliable sources.”

For Remote Schooling

For students of all ages, schools provide structure and socialization. While it is still important to have structure if the school day is online, it is okay to have some flexibility with the schedule, especially for younger children, Dr. Sawchuk says.

Many children will adapt to a virtual learning format given their experience of growing up in a world filled with technology, but some may struggle with keeping up with homework, organizing tasks and being able to stay focused for extended periods of time.

“Open lines of communication between families and teachers are always useful, but routine communication is especially key in our current situation to help identify and problem-solve ways the learning content or approach can adjust to the student’s individual needs,” Dr. Sawchuk says.

Feelings of isolation and being disconnected from peer groups are common concerns affecting students attending school online. While virtual classes can be set up to enhance group discussions and connections, it is just as important to encourage and plan ways to socialize with friends in a safe manner outside of school-related activities, offers Dr. Sawchuk.

For Hybrid Schooling

Learning formats that stagger in-person school days or alternate start times, for example, are being proposed by some schools. Changes in daily routines can be a challenge for children and adults.

One simple but effective tip: Post a master daily schedule in a common area of the home, such as the kitchen. “That can help keep everyone on track on a day-to-day basis,” Dr. Sawchuk says.

The experience will help give you feedback on which learning formats are working well and those that can be improved.

“No matter the model, be encouraging of your school’s and teachers’ efforts, as they, too, aim to make the school year as successful and safe as possible for everyone,” encourages Dr. Sawchuk.

For ‘Mental Health 101’

For anyone feeling anxious, it’s common to be irritable, or feel a sense of loss or sadness. Problems with sleep, physical tension and worry can result.

– Maintain a normal daily routine. Aim to wake up and go to bed as close as you can to the same times each day. Stay hydrated, try to keep up with a healthy diet and focus on increasing physical activity during the day. A healthy body helps maintain a healthy mood and mindset.

– Learn new skills to manage stress. Explore how relaxation, mindfulness or yoga can calm the mind. Several free classes and mental health apps are online. Many of these skills are portable and can be used anytime, anywhere.

– Stay connected with healthy support in your life. While these social connections may be more virtual now, being around those you care about is important to well-being. Also, remember to disconnect from the news. Spending between 15 and 30 minutes one to two times a day is usually enough to keep informed but not overwhelmed.

Some people may struggle with more significant mental health difficulties, and Dr. Sawchuk encourages those who need help to talk to their primary care provider to locate local mental health resources.

“Effective treatments for mental health conditions do exist,” Dr. Sawchuk says. “Please reach out for help, if needed.”

2020© Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The post Head Back to School With 4 Be’s for Mental Health appeared first on RISMedia.

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Today’s Special: Bread Stale? Don’t Throw It Away, Make This Treat

RisMedia Consumer News - August 5, 2020 - 2:47pm

(TNS)—Perhaps you’ve made loaves of delicious challah or sourdough bread during the coronavirus lockdown or picked up crispy baguettes from your favorite bakery. White bread is so amazingly good when it’s fresh from the oven; sadly, it goes stale very quickly.

Of course, leftover bread can be ground into crumbs or torn into crunchy croutons (I keep crumbs and croutons in my freezer to top macaroni and cheese or to add to salads), but there are many more creative and enjoyable ways to use day-old bread.

Dried-out bread is very adaptable to soaking up flavors without getting mushy. Many cuisines rely on the use of stale bread such as Lebanon’s fattoush (a chopped salad of crisp vegetables, fresh herbs and strips of pita bread bathed in vinaigrette), and Italy’s Tuscan bread soups like pappa al pomodoro (ripe tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, garlic mashed together with a slice of country bread), or panzanella salad (ciabatta bread and ripe juicy tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, olives, capers, and red peppers).

Try tomato bruschetta (pronounced broo-skeh-tuh) for an appetizer (lightly toasted or grilled slice of sourdough or rustic country bread piled high with chopped tomatoes, garlic and balsamic vinegar).

For something sweet, French toast (pan perdu or “lost toast”) or New Orleans’ bourbon-infused sweet and custardy bread pudding can’t be beat.

Bread is used to thicken Spain’s roasted bell pepper Romesco sauce—traditionally served with fish, chicken or roasted vegetables. To make Romesco sauce, pulse one large roasted red bell pepper from a jar, one garlic clove, 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds, 1/4 cup tomato puree, two tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, two tablespoons Sherry vinegar, one teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper and one slice rustic bread in a blender or food processor. With machine running, slowly add 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

Coffee and Cornflake French Toast

Adapted from “A Flash in the Pan: Simple, Speedy, Stovetop Recipes” by John Whaite, Kyle Books ($24.99).

Red wine might be the perfect fit with breakfast; much like a Bloody Mary. French Toast goes very well with Oregon’s La Crema Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2018 ($26.95). The light oak in the wine melds with the honey and vanilla in the French toast, and if bacon or ham is on the menu, the pairing would be exquisite.

Whaite writes, “Cornflake French toast might seem a bit of a gimmick, but it’s a marvel. While the flavor is somewhat subtle, the added crunch to that pillowy soft bread is where the virtue lies. I’ve taken this a step closer to breakfast perfection with the addition of coffee, but if you’re a coffee-phobe, feel free to leave it out.”

I dump the cornflakes in a large plastic zipper bag and smash with a rolling pin or mallet.

1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon runny honey
2 large eggs
3 cups cornflakes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 thick slices of brioche or challah bread (day-old)

Maple syrup, to serve

Put the milk and espresso powder into a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add the honey and eggs and whisk until well mixed. Crush the cornflakes roughly—some should be fine powder, while other pieces should be fairly chunky. Tip into a wide bowl or plate. Set a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the butter, swirling it around the pan to melt. Dunk the bread slices, one at a time, into the egg mixture, pressing them down gently to soak them well. Dip both sides of the bread slices into the cornflakes to coat completely, then pop into the pan. If your pan is big enough, fry all four pieces at once; otherwise, cook the bread slices in batches, only dipping and coating them just before frying. Add more butter if necessary. Fry over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side, until deeply golden and crispy. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup.

2020© Miami Herald

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

The post Today’s Special: Bread Stale? Don’t Throw It Away, Make This Treat appeared first on RISMedia.

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Complete Your COVID-19 Back-to-School Checklist

RisMedia Consumer News - August 4, 2020 - 3:05pm

(TNS)—Families and school districts are weighing difficult decisions on whether to return to school in person, online or a combination of both during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“No matter what education model is chosen—in-person, distance learning or a hybrid of the two—we want to provide guidance to parents, children, teachers and staff on how to stay as safe and healthy as possible this school year,” says Nipunie Rajapakse, M.D., a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic. “These tips will be familiar, and they continue to be the most effective ways we have to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread. Certain strategies may be more effective for certain age groups of children. A combination of strategies is important because no single measure provides 100-percent protection from exposure,” says Dr. Rajapakse.

Practice safe distancing.
When possible, follow safe social distancing of at least 6 feet, even when wearing a mask.

“COVID-19 is primarily spread from person to person through respiratory droplets released into the air when coughing, sneezing, talking or singing,” Dr. Rajapakse says. “When you’re unable to wear a mask, such as when eating in the cafeteria, social distancing is even more critical to reduce the risk of virus transmission.”

Wear a mask.
Wear a mask to limit the spread of respiratory droplets.

“It’s a great idea for students, teachers and staff to keep a clean backup mask somewhere convenient, like their backpack, locker or desk,” notes Dr. Rajapakse. “Make sure to clearly label your child’s mask with his or her name, and teach children never to share or trade masks with others.”

Clean your hands frequently.
Wash your hands with soap and water, or apply and use hand sanitizer frequently. For appropriate use of hand sanitizer, follow these steps:

– Apply one to two squirts of sanitizer to the palm of one hand, enough to cover all surfaces of the hands.

– Rub the sanitizer over all the surfaces of hands, fingers and nails until dry. This should take at least 20 seconds.

– Keep a to-go size hand sanitizer container nearby.

Cleaning hands regularly throughout the day is very important, especially before eating, after using the bathroom, or before and after touching shared surfaces or your mask,” Dr. Rajapakse says.

Disinfect high-touch surfaces.
Disinfect surfaces routinely and immediately if they become visibly soiled. Disinfect items frequently touched such as light switches, door handles, faucets and keyboards.

Perform symptom self-checks and stay home if sick.
Every day before going to school, check for symptoms of illness, especially COVID-19 symptoms, such as new-onset cough or shortness of breath. If you are sick, avoid spreading germs by staying home from school or other activities.

“Even though it may seem like just a minor runny nose or cough, staying home from school or work is the right thing to do to reduce the risk of exposing others to not only COVID-19, but other respiratory viruses like influenza, as well,” Dr. Rajapakse says. “Everyone over 6 months old is strongly recommended to get an influenza vaccine this fall. During this pandemic, we have also seen many children fall behind on their routine vaccines so it is important to check with your primary care provider and ensure all of your child’s vaccines are up to date prior to returning to school.”

School year will be a challenge.
No matter which learning model is chosen by communities, the school year is going to be challenging.

“We know how important schools and teachers are, supporting students’ education, social development and mental health,” Dr. Rajapakse says. “Ultimately, how to participate in school will be a family decision, weighing all the factors in your specific circumstances—your own family’s health risks, the academic needs of your children, your work demands and, of course, the amount of COVID-19 transmission in your communities.”

2020© Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

The post Complete Your COVID-19 Back-to-School Checklist appeared first on RISMedia.

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