You’ve tried everything: Bug spray, citronella candles, bug repellent bracelets. You’ve planted mosquito-repelling plants, like rosemary, basil and marigolds. Yet despite how many different hacks you’ve tried, nothing seems to ward off the mosquitoes that attack when the sun sets below the horizon.

After so many attempts at trying to get rid of those pesky bugs, just hoping you can finally enjoy a night outside in peace, you may start wondering if there’s something else that’s making you a mosquito magnet. Do mosquitoes really gravitate toward certain blood types? Or could it really be as simple as how you smell?

Turns out, according to a recent study from researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, your smell can actually attract or repel those summertime pests—particularly the scent of your soap. These researchers found that soaps with the scent of plants and florals can unfortunately attract mosquitoes. That soothing rose body wash or that lavender-scented bar soap you love? They could be to blame for all of those bug bites you find yourself scratching at the end of the day.

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What the study says

Chloé Lahondère, Ph.D., a study author and assistant professor of biochemistry at Virginia Tech who focuses on research regarding Mechanisms of Thermal Adaption in Insects, explains that the purpose of this study was to determine which chemicals and scents humans add to their original body odor would attract mosquitoes.

“We expected that adding these chemicals to our body odor would affect their attraction, in one way or another,” Lahondere says. “But what was surprising in our results was the importance of the interaction between the specific soap chemicals and the body odor of each specific individual in determining whether a person would become more or less attractive to mosquitoes after applying soap to their skin. In other words, we were surprised to see that some soaps, but not others, would increase the attractiveness of some people.”

“Three out of four soaps we tested in this preliminary study increased mosquito attraction for our volunteers,” says Clément Vinauger, Ph.D., another author of the study who also works as an assistant professor of biochemistry at Virginia Tech and specializes in Molecular Genetics of Host-Seeking Behavior in Insects. “These soaps have in common that they are rich in terpenes, a class of chemicals typically produced by plants and found in the scent of flowers and fruits. Among them, we found allyl heptanoate, which is naturally found in the scent of tropical fruits and used in perfumery to imitate the pineapple scent, was often associated with increased mosquito attraction.”

In particular, floral scents tend to attract mosquitoes given that these bugs use plant-emitted volatiles to find these types of plants to obtain the sugars from the nectar. With soap that smells like these attractive florals, it makes sense that mosquitos would be attracted to similar-smelling skin.

However, Vinauger does point out that it is the combination of the scent and a person’s natural body odor that can attract bugs, so certain soaps may work for some and not others. For those who find themselves constantly attacked by mosquitoes, it may be a trial and error process to find the right soap that works for you.

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Look for particular chemicals in your soap

The results of the study not only point out specific scents that may attract mosquitoes, but also points out how personal care products contain certain chemicals that can increase mosquito activity due to these scents. Lahondere says this information could be critical for the hygiene industry.

“We should definitely be looking more carefully at the composition of the personal care products we use,” Lahondere continues. “As stated in the study, the same soap used by different people can have different effects on mosquito behavior. However, it might be better to stay away from personal care products that contain high levels of chemicals that mosquitoes are known to be attracted to, like linalool.”

Linalool is a popular floral chemical found in over 200 different flowers and plants—like lavender and citrus fruits—and is used in 60% to 80% of perfumed hygienic products such as soaps, lotions, detergents and shampoos. Previous studies have actually made a connection between linalool repelling female mosquitoes, sometimes more so than citronella, which is a scent commonly used in candles and bug repellents. However, with this study indicating otherwise, products that use this chemical may not have the repelling effect we once believed.

“We can provide critical information to the industry to develop new personal care products that do not contain mosquito attractants—or if they do, highlighting that a specific ratio of these compounds should be used so the soap or perfume does not increase mosquito attraction (and thus biting),” she says.

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The best soap fragrance for fighting mosquitoes

If floral-scented soaps aren’t helping with fighting off mosquitoes, then what will? According to previous research, it may be wise to swap out your go-to soap product with something that is coconut scented or based.

“Multiple publications—including ours—have shown that coconut-derived chemicals tend to have a repellent effect on blood-feeding insects,” says Lahondere. “To our knowledge, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear.”

One 2018 study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture even found coconut oil to be a better bug-repellent than DEET—a chemical used in popular bug-repellent products. The study found the coconut oil fatty acids had a strong repellency and long-lasting effectiveness (95% effective compared to DEET, which was only at 50% during the study) to ward off pesky bugs including mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies and bed bugs.

While more research needs to be done, if you had to choose a scented soap to use this summer, a natural coconut-based soap (with fewer chemicals) would give you more of a fighting chance against irksome mosquito bites compared to your usual floral-scented body wash.

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Alzheimer’s disease, the most pervasive form of dementia, threatens approximately one in nine people over the age of 65. With the rate of this devastating condition set to trend upward in the coming years, researchers are racing against time to uncover factors that might bolster cognitive resilience.

New research published in the peer-reviewed medical journal, BMC Medicine, suggests paying attention to deep, non-REM, slow-wave sleep. This often overlooked aspect of your rest could help increase resilience against dementia-related memory loss linked to the brain protein beta-amyloid. (Note: Beta-amyloid comes from a bigger protein found in the fatty membrane surrounding nerve cells.)

This finding could mitigate some of the most severe outcomes of dementia, making it a potentially critical revelation in cognitive science.

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The power of deep sleep

The research team included postdoctoral researcher Zsófia Zavecz, PhD, who performed this research at the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Human Sleep Science (and subsequently joined Cambridge University in April 2023). Dr. Zavecz and her team made a groundbreaking discovery: Having ample amounts of deep, slow-wave sleep acts as a protective shield against memory decline, especially among people with high amounts of Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

Dr. Zavecz explains in a recent press release via Science Daily that your sleep patterns—”specifically, deep sleep,” she said—can help moderate the effects of this pathology. That’s right: Your good night’s rest could substantially impact your cognitive health and help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

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The scientific evidence

The UC Berkeley team has previously established a correlation between diminished sleep and a faster rate of beta-amyloid buildup in the brain, a precursor to dementia. Cognitive reserve factors such as years of education, physical activity, and social engagement are typically used to bolster resistance to severe brain pathology. But here’s the catch: These factors can’t be easily modified retrospectively.

In steps sleep, the hero of the story. Matthew Walker, PhD, UC Berkeley professor of neuroscience and psychology and senior author of the study, proposed that sleep could be the “modifiable factor” and a missing piece in understanding why memory varies among individuals with the same level of amyloid pathology.

The team tested this theory, monitoring the sleep waves of 62 older adults from the Berkeley Aging Cohort Study using an electroencephalography (EEG) machine. At the same time, a positron emission tomography (PET) scan measured the amount of beta-amyloid deposits in participants’ brains. The results were encouraging: Those with high amounts of beta-amyloid who had better deep sleep performed better on memory tasks than their counterparts with less restful sleep.

Even when controlling for other cognitive reserve factors, sleep still demonstrated a considerable benefit, indicating that it contributes independently to preserving memory function amid brain pathology.

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Sleep your way to better memory

“Think of deep sleep almost like a life raft that keeps memory afloat,” Dr. Walker says, suggesting that deep sleep may play a vital role in combating the memory-impairing effects of beta-amyloid deposits.

So, how can you improve your sleep quality to reap these benefits? The researchers suggest maintaining a regular sleep schedule, staying mentally and physically active during the day, creating a dark, cool sleep environment, and minimizing stimulants like caffeine and screen time before bed. A warm shower before you hit the hay can also help do the trick.

In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, it’s sometimes tempting to overlook the importance of sleep, pushing it down your priority list to squeeze in more waking hours. However, the National Institutes of Health highlights the importance of why you should devote one-third of your time to a good night’s rest in their healthy sleep guide. Chronic sleep deprivation doesn’t just affect your Alzheimer’s risk—the guide also mentions that it increases your chances for serious health issues, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and infections.

The takeaway here? Get some quality shut-eye and check out these strategies for a better night’s sleep. The way you’ll feel will be something to remember.

For the latest in health and wellness, get The Healthy @Reader’s Digest newsletter and read more from Dr. Tricia Varacallo, DO.

Some recent research hints that most of us have some blindspots when it comes to judging how healthy our daily practices really are. The results of a 2022 study that involved nearly 10,000 participants concluded that an estimated 75% of us overrate how healthy our diet is, for instance. (No judgment if that sounds familiar!) Other research, such as one 2019 sports medicine study, suggests some of us tend to overestimate our activity levels.

Fitness and wellness trackers like the Apple Watch aim to close these gaps between perception and reality—but for a user, it can be tough to pinpoint how accurate these devices really are.

From personal experience, I credit my Apple Watch with helping me get fit during the pandemic. But with hobbies and my hours of work at the computer as a writer, it wasn’t practical to wear it all the time…and as I found myself constantly taking the watch on and off, one day, I just never put it back on.

So, for this journalistic experiment, I aimed to bring the wearable tech back into my daily life, doing everything the watch told me to do for a month and tracking the effects—plus, investigating how on-point my mental record of my lifestyle really is.

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Closing the “Move” ring was a challenge at first

I’m a really active person: Three to four days each week, I train on the flying trapeze, as well as log a few hours of aerial arts, and aim to get out rock-climbing. I don’t wear the Apple Watch during these activities, so they’re not logged against the “Move” ring that closes as you approach 500 calories burned each day.

But wearing the watch again revealed one of my major blind spots: Thanks to what working from home does to your body, I did not move much outside of these bursts of high-intensity training. So each day, I made it a mission to close that pink ring organically—moving however and whenever time allowed—and here’s what happened:

  • My heart rate variability improved. Dr. Marie Kanagie-McAleese, MD, recently explained to me that heart rate variability measures how quickly your heart rate increases with activity or stress, and decreases with rest. A higher heart rate variability is better—the swifter your heart rate adapts to your activity level, the healthier it is for you.

  • I experience less fatigue and brain fog during the day. Hopping up to jog in place or play catch with one of my dogs got my blood flowing and my heart pumping and delivered a burst of energy in the moments of the day when I often find myself starting to slump.

  • The tightness that I sometimes feel in my lower back and shoulders has started to ease. It might not seem like much, but Alaina Victoria, PT, DPT, a doctor of physical therapy, emphasizes how powerful it can be to break up the window of time you sit at your desk. “Adding periods of standing instead of prolonged sitting offers numerous health benefits, including alleviating back and shoulder pain, strengthening the core muscles, improving posture, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.” Those little moments of movement also promote blood circulation, boosting your heart health, she adds.

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The “Stand” prompt turned out to be a game changer

People love to hate the Apple Watch “Stand” notification. While the reminder to get up every hour can feel intrusive, one 2020 study asserted that the average American spends 7.7 hours a day being sedentary. This lifestyle, which some scientists are now referring to as the sitting disease, is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality (along with links to weight gain, neck pain, and depression).

As for the effectiveness of the prompt: According to Apple’s own Apple Heart and Movement Study, the notification increases the likelihood someone will stand by 50%. For those who close the other activity rings regularly, the reminder triples their probability of standing.

At first, I begrudgingly obeyed the stand prompt, mostly just hovering over my desk for a minute or two. But without realizing it, this cue turned into a habit-stacking ritual. When my wrist would buzz, I’d get up and refill my glass of water, clean a dish in the sink, go outside for a minute, or tackle something small on my to-do list. In fact, I started to look forward to these micro-breaks and noticed how refreshed I felt when I returned to my desk.

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The “Exercise” ring helped me stay accountable to my goals

I already exercise at least 30 minutes a day, so again, I didn’t count my current habits toward the Apple Watch goal. But I’ve been inconsistent in forming a routine around activities like stretching, soft movement like yoga, and mobility exercises—and that’s where the looming green ring helped to motivate me.

While I experienced the benefits of moving and standing more almost immediately, forming this routine took more patience. That’s where Apple’s ring design really gave me an assist. Some recent research explains why: The gamification of fitness and wellness objectives in devices like the Apple Watch is consistently shown to improve people’s motivation to achieve those goals. Seeing an extrinsic reminder that you’ve accomplished something—like the ring closing—activates your brain’s reward center, giving you a boost that encourages the habit. In turn, this leads to lasting behavior changes and improved outcomes, says Dr. Victoria.

So much so that in my case, I’d often squeeze in a few more minutes of downward dogs while watching TV at night to trigger that little green firework on the Apple Watch display.

It’s important to note that gamification is not without its challenges, Dr. Victoria says. “As much as it motivates, it can sometimes make people feel discouraged if they’re not able to keep up.” There’s also the risk of people becoming dependent on these rewards for motivation in ways that can conflict with true wellness—says Dr. Victoria: “In all the excitement of meeting activity goals or trying to get to the top of leaderboards, it’s essential not to overlook our body’s needs for rest and make sure the eagerness to close those activity rings doesn’t lead to overexertion,” she says.

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“Breathe” strengthened my mindfulness practice

I try to keep a meditation practice but tend to just “squeeze it in.” What I liked about the “Breathe” prompt was how it did serve as a sort of interruption in the day, reminding me to take a moment and reset even if it wasn’t necessarily convenient.

If you’re skeptical that just one minute of meditation is useful, these micro-meditation practices can yield significant benefits if practiced consistently, says Ryan Sultán, MD, a psychiatrist and research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center. “While it may seem brief, even one minute of focused, mindful breathing can help calm your mind, reduce stress, and bring a sense of relaxation,” Dr. Sultan says. Specifically, a minute of deep breathing (think: Big, slow, belly breaths and even longer exhales) calms the brain’s amygdala (the fear and anxiety center) and activates our relaxation-inducing parasympathetic nervous system, focusing our senses on the present moment.

Admittedly, I found the prompt a bit annoying at first. Once I started sticking with it, I noticed:

  • My focus improved, with less daydreaming or my mind wandering to my to-do list.

  • The deep breathing gave me a huge burst of energy.

  • The tiny, minute-long reminders made me crave more mindfulness—it motivated me to actually make the time for dedicated 10- or 20-minute meditation sessions later in the day.

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Bedtime reminders boosted my sleep schedule

A goal of mine over the past year has been to wake up at the same time every day—but I didn’t pay much attention to when I went to sleep. Sleep researchers say the best rest comes not from just a regular wakeup call, but ensuring you’re getting a consistent amount of sleep. That means adhering to a regular bedtime, too.

The first few days of heeding the Apple Watch’s bedtime reminder were harder than I thought. I’d normally go to sleep when I felt my body was “ready,” so there was plenty of tossing and turning as I forced myself to hit the hay at a specific time. But I was shocked at how quickly my body adapted—within about a week and a half, my body was trained to get sleepy just before the notification would even go off. The structure works: I wake up refreshed minutes before my alarm, too.

Read more from Leslie Finlay, MPA and stay well inside and out with The Healthy @Reader’s Digest newsletter, Keep reading:

There are the latest sex toys, libido-boosting aphrodisiacs, and tried-and-true expert wisdom to keep your sexual wellness sizzling.

We all have our own preferences—and whether you’re up for anything or you like to keep things traditional, the road to more satisfying sex could be contrary to what you think—no batteries required. A generations-old technique called edging during sex is making a comeback, experts say, thanks to the promise of better orgasms through a mindful approach to sexual experiences.

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Here’s what edging during sex means

Explains Evie Plumb, an accredited sex educator: “Edging is a technique during sex or solo play where you bring yourself to the brink of orgasm and then stop.” The effect of edging during sex, from a purely logistical standpoint, is that sex lasts longer. This invites more time for creativity, experimentation and intimacy-building.

But allowing intense sensations to build up and subside can have full-body effects. Sexual responses like orgasms require a coordinated effort between our parasympathetic nervous system (associated with rest and calm) and our sympathetic nervous system (associated with fight or flight responses). Arousal gets the body into a focused state while pumping blood to our genitalia, increasing physical sensitivity. Meanwhile, the brain gets flooded with hormones and activity that encourage feelings like anticipation and excitement—and then the sympathetic system kicks in, pumping up the heart rate, blood pressure and the physical sensations associated with orgasm.

With edging, the idea is that by stopping this physiological process before orgasm, you create a cycle that grows more and more powerful. By sustaining a heightened state of sexual arousal for longer, the theory is that anticipation, excitement, brain activity and sensitivity to touch may all intensify—and for some, so does the eventual orgasm.

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Possible benefits of edging during sex

Aside from the bigger O, edging is a go-to technique to improve sexual stamina, Plumb says, including those who experience premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction or who struggle to orgasm in general. Turns out it’s not a new trick: In 1956, a urologist published research in The Journal of Sexual Medicine that advocated for the “stop-start method,” what some are now calling edging, as a treatment for premature ejaculation.

Premature ejaculation affects an estimated 30% to 40% of sexually active men, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Sex research suggests the condition is not frustrating only for people who experience the symptom. A scholar studying sex from the University of Zurich found that men who experience premature ejaculation try to overcome it by focusing on controlling ejaculation. The research suggested this can backfire and lead to a poor sexual experience for both partners. Some data also show that this can lead to disconnection and sometimes threaten relationships.

Michele Waldron, PsyD, LADC-I, CSCT, a licensed psychologist and certified couples and sex therapist says practicing edging can help build a sense of confidence in people. “It can be really positive,” Dr. Waldron says, “teaching someone that sense of control, building up a kind of muscle.”

Edging during sex also brings a bit of mindfulness into the bedroom. “It allows you to sit with pleasure for longer rather than rushing to the finish line,” Plumb suggests. “On top of this, it is a great way to understand your body, be mindful of your pleasure, and slow down to find your sweet spot.” This could be a game-changer for the roughly half of all women who MedlinePlus reports aren’t satisfied with how often they climax.

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How to practice edging

Plumb says one way to see whether you’re comfortable with edging is to try it on your own. It it feels like a fit, you can invite your partner to join in.

This accredited sex educator says the best way to do a practice run with edging during sex is to consider the following steps:

  • Set the scene: “Edging is about mindfully experiencing pleasure and taking time, so ensure your surroundings fit that,” she says. “Dim the lights, light a candle and turn on the sexy playlist.”

  • Experiment with different sensations: “Toys, fingers, both simultaneously, or try using the opposite hand,” she recommends.

  • Notice how you become aroused: “Is your breathing different?” she says. “As you near climax, what is happening in your body?”

  • Right before climax, stop any stimulation: “Focus on your breath,” she says—then: “Wait about 30 seconds and then start again, and reflect on how it felt.”

Keep in mind that everybody’s different. “Some people don’t particularly like edging, and certainly some really do,” Dr. Waldron says. It’s all about experimenting and finding that fine line for yourself. “I’ve had some people say: ‘Well, if I hold it for this long, it’s a really great orgasm, but if I hold it for too long, it’s not that great.'” Ultimately, she says, it’s a way to really get to know yourself sexually—which helps you advocate for your needs better with a partner.

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There’s no doubt about it: Being a teacher in America is tough. Teaching was never a cakewalk—now add increased pressure from limited resources, low pay, heavy workloads, large class sizes, technology, shifting testing and curriculum standards, administration, parents, and—oh, yeah—guiding young minds to navigate a complicated world. It’s no wonder teachers are burning out in record numbers.

“Our profession has become such a frequently invalidated, scrutinized profession that any nice gesture is welcome, because it’s so rare,” says Jennie Berglund, who has been teaching middle school for over 20 years in Minneapolis, MN. Still, Berglund says, it’s worth it, thanks to her love for the kids and the satisfaction she receives from the role of helping to shape the future.

So how do you stay in a job that’s so high-pressure while feeling underappreciated and overworked? You have to prioritize self-care. How does Berglund do it? Read on below to find out how she, and 49 other teachers from around the country, relax, recharge, restore, and come back to teach year after year.

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Alabama

“I spend time with my husband and two littles every day,” says Maddie S., a preschool teacher for six years. “Every night before bed, we play chase, then read a book, sing a silly song, and then it’s bedtime for bonkers (me included!).”

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Alaska

“Brazilian jiu-jitsu,” says Pete H., a high school teacher for 18 years. “It’s kind of the running joke … that we choke people in the gym so we don’t choke people in real life.” He adds: “I make sure and get an extra session or two in before parent-teacher conferences.”

Arizona

“I turn off my phone and computer after 6 p.m.,” says Luke A., a high school teacher for 15 years. “I don’t want to hear all the notifications pinging, so after dinner is strictly tech-free!”

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Arkansas

“I have a date night scheduled with my husband every Friday night,” says Alexis V., an elementary teacher for seven years. “It gives me something to look forward to all week, and we have a rule that we don’t talk about either of our jobs!”

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California

“For me it’s burlesque dancing. I take an adults-only dance class once a week and it is the highlight of my week,” says Carlie L., an elementary teacher for three years. “It’s just so much fun and a great way to relax.”

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Colorado

“I go for a run,” says Jenae H., a middle school teacher for four years. “I come home feeling exhausted so you’d think running would be the last thing I’d want to do! I put my AirPods in and listen to podcasts and it’s actually really energizing.”

Connecticut

“I vent to my best friend,” says Ashley K., an elementary school teacher for 10 years. “She’s a teacher too, at a different school, and it’s our daily ritual to call each other. We get it all out on the drive home and then we’re ready to be present for our families when we walk in the door.”

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Delaware

“Electronic grading is my secret to recharging,” says Dan F., a high school teacher for 12 years. “I have made all of my tests and assignments such that they can either be peer-graded or electronically graded. That’s freed up so much of my time outside of teaching hours that I can use to recharge.”

Florida

Therapy, lots of therapy,” says Daniella M., a high school teacher for 15 years. “I work with a lot of at-risk students and their problems were taking over my life, to the point where I was losing sleep worrying about them. I started seeing a therapist two years ago and it’s been a game-changer. Now I know how to compartmentalize better, and I come out of my sessions feeling so much better!”

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Georgia

 “My students need a nap every day, and I do too!” says Lila M., a preschool teacher for 25 years. “When it’s nice, I nap on the porch.”

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Hawaii

Cropped shot of an unrecognizable woman rolling up her mat after a yoga session on the beach at sunset

“Yoga on the beach,” says Diane L., a high school teacher for 30 years. “I grew up doing yoga, but it wasn’t until I started teaching that I learned how essential it is to my mental and physical wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but even 15 minutes of sun salutations reconnects me with the earth and my body.”

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Idaho

“I go target-shooting on the weekends,” says Amy S., a middle school teacher for 22 years. “Probably not the most politically correct way to unwind, but honestly it’s my favorite way to recharge. I spend a couple hours at the range and it’s a great way to focus, calm down, and get out of my head.”

Illinois

Sheila P., an elementary teacher for 10 years, says, “It sounds harsh but this job will take 24 hours a day if you let it so you have to have good boundaries. One way I practice self-care is not working unpaid overtime.”

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Indiana

“I planted a ‘butterfly garden’ to attract bees, butterflies and other insects, and it makes me so happy,” says Jennifer P., a preschool teacher for five years.

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Iowa

“Scrolling Instagram gives me a little mental break and since I only follow close friends and positive accounts, it really lifts my spirits,” says Mackenzie M., a high school teacher for three years. “It’s good to scroll and remind myself of all the good in the world.”

Kansas

“I read one or two books a month just for fun, something totally unrelated to what I’m teaching,” says Emma S., a high school teacher for seven years. “The last book I read was Diamond Eye, about a woman Soviet sniper in World War II and it was so interesting to get immersed in her world. It helps me unwind every night. Over summer break I aim for one book a week.”

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Kentucky

“No-screen Sundays!” says Amber L., an elementary school teacher for 19 years. “I completely disconnect from my electronics on Sundays and spend the day focused on going outside, being with my family, going to brunch, or hiking.”

Louisiana

“I’m training for a half-marathon,” says Jeff A., a high school teacher for 14 years. “Having a goal gives me something to focus on, and working up a good sweat every day feels so good. Plus I also coach the boys’ basketball team, so it helps me keep up with them a little better.”

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Maine

Driving off road car in high altitude forest mountains

“Weekend road trips keep me sane and give me time to recharge,” says Tina S., an elementary school teacher for 15 years. “I love driving—something about a winding road really helps me unwind. Over the years I’ve seen so many fun sites, and planning the next one keeps me motivated.”

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Maryland

“Am I allowed to say sleep? I am obsessed with naps,” says Harlan J., a high school teacher for eight years. “I have my favorite napping spot at home with my special pillow, blanket, fan, and, of course, my cat Angel.”

Massachusetts

“I lift heavy weights,” says Bethany S., an elementary school teacher for four years. “Hitting the gym used to feel like a chore until I discovered powerlifting, and now I’m excited every day to do it. I push myself hard but leave feeling accomplished and refreshed.”

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Michigan

“I go fishing,” says Danielle V., an elementary school teacher for five years. “There’s something really soothing about just sitting on my boat on the lake. In the winter I go ice fishing. My goal is to learn to fly fish this summer.”

Minnesota

“Exercising is the best way to relieve my stress!” says Berglund. “I teach kickboxing and yoga classes at the YMCA. It is a great way to relax, recharge, and hang out with my friends.”

Mississippi

“Making and decorating cakes was a hobby I picked up during COVID and I’ve kept it going,” says Michelle W., an elementary school teacher for 10 years. “It’s creative and meditative! Sometimes when I’m in the zone, I’ll scrape the frosting off and redecorate the same cake three or four different times! Or I’ll practice icing roses on parchment paper.”

Missouri

“Sunrise walks with my dog are the best way to start my day—I’m always more relaxed,” says Jenny C., a high school teacher for 15 years.

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Montana

“It may sound weird but I love organizing my closet,” says Colette S., an elementary school teacher for 22 years. “I color-coordinate all my sweaters, line up my shoes, and get rid of old stuff. It’s cathartic!”

Nebraska

Swimming at the Y is my go-to when I need to unwind,” says Jacob S., a high school teacher for eight years. “I do laps and the rhythm of my body and the sound of the water and the feel of gliding—nothing is like being in that zone.”

Nevada

“Doing crafts with my kiddo,” says Maria A., an early education teacher for 20 years. “She reminds me why I love my job, and I enjoy the process of getting messy and creating new things. And it gives me time to bond with my daughter.”

New Hampshire

“Binge-watching Netflix. I’ll be honest … All I want to do is watch a fun comedy or a true crime documentary—it’s one or the other, no in-between!” says Leanne T., a middle school teacher for 12 years.

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New Jersey

man playing video game console on the sofa at home

“I just got the new Zelda game, so that’s all I’m doing in my spare time these days,” says Dan A., a high school teacher for 14 years. “It’s way too easy to lose track of time, but the upside of that is it feels totally immersive and it turns my anxiety way down.”

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New Mexico

“People don’t often think of hiking when they think of New Mexico, but I’m telling you we have some of the best hikes in the world,” says Enrique L., an elementary school teacher for 17 years. “I love day hikes—but when I really need to recharge, I take a backpacking trip.”

New York

“Trying new food trucks is my personal hobby right now,” says Patricio O., a K-8 teacher for five years. “I’m such a foodie! And Manhattan is foodie heaven. This week it was Ethiopian food, and it was amazing.”

North Carolina

“I play a ridiculous amount of Candy Crush on my phone. Sometimes Animal Crossing,” says Anna A., an elementary teacher for 28 years. “It’s repetitive, so I can zone out.”

North Dakota

“Over the summer I catch up on my dental cleaning, pap smear, mammogram, annual check up, and colonoscopy,” says Ashley T., a high school teacher for 23 years. “That may not sound relaxing to some, but it actually gives me a lot of peace of mind knowing that it’s taken care of.”

Ohio

“Walking my dog through the park always relaxes me,” says Lyla S., an elementary school teacher for nine years. “I leave my headphones out and just listen to the noise of kids playing, people laughing, the wind blowing, whatever. Sometimes my best friend comes, and we catch up.”

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Oklahoma

“I like to look up new recipes—I have a whole pinterest board I save them too—and then meal-plan,” says Ashlee M., a preschool teacher for 18 years. “I enjoy cooking. I enjoy the process of finding the recipes, trying new ingredients, and putting it all together.”

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Oregon

“Portland has so many great breweries, and doing a little beer tasting is relaxing,” says Matthew S., a high school teacher for two years. “My partner and I do it together. We spend a lot of time visiting different local breweries, and we even recently started a keg in our garage.”

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Pennsylvania

“I cross-stitch funny, off-color sayings. For instance, I just did one that said ‘Oh, for [image of a fox] sake’,” says Amelia F., a middle school teacher for 10 years. “I usually give them as gifts, they always make people laugh. And the process of counting and then stitching is very relaxing.”

Rhode Island

“Car karaoke is my jam,” says Laura L., a elementary school teacher for 20 years. “I have a whole YouTube playlist of karaoke songs and I listen to it and sing my heart out during my commute.”

South Carolina

“I do nothing. Literally nothing. When I need to recharge, I go in my room, lay face down on my bed in silence, and just…turn my mind off,” says Emma N., a school counselor for 18 years. “My husband calls it ‘blobbing’—it sounds funny, but it works.”

South Dakota

Woman Writes in Empty Notebook

“I write in my journal,” says Maria F., an elementary school teacher for nine years. “It’s a way to get all my feelings out and process things. Once I write out something I’m anxious about, then my brain will stop obsessing over it.”

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Tennessee

“I work on my side business,” says Chelsea W., a high school teacher for 11 years. “Teaching is my main job, but it’s not my forever job. I’m really passionate about entrepreneurship, and planning and running my little business is so invigorating.”

Texas

“I do house projects, which I know sounds like more work, but it’s a different kind of work than teaching,” says Alan F., a high school teacher for 10 years. “It’s really satisfying seeing a remodel through from start to finish and knowing I did it with my own hands.”

Utah

“I go kayaking on the lake with my husband and kids,” says Laura M., a middle school teacher for 15 years. “Being outdoors really speaks to my soul and I love the time together. We have a couple of inflatable kayaks and bring a picnic and spend the day on the water.”

Vermont

“Painting, specifically wildlife or landscapes, is my best way to relax,” says Ella, a middle school teacher for five years. “I get to sit outside and finding the right location to paint is half of why I love it. It also inspires me with different ways to teach my students.”

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Virginia

“Going to see a movie in a theater is my favorite thing in the world,” says Thomas K., a high school teacher for 29 years. “All I want is to be in the dark, in a reclining seat, with my popcorn and soda. I’m a simple man.”

Washington

“Going to concerts—preferably live and outdoors—is my favorite way to recharge,” says Andie M., a middle school teacher for 12 years. “I’m a huge fan of all the Nineties bands, but I just love listening to music, really. There’s such a fun, chill vibe at music festivals.”

West Virginia

“Reading autobiographies is a great way for me to recharge because it helps me put my own problems in perspective,” says Rachel F., a preschool teacher for three years. “I love reading people’s stories in their own words.”

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Wisconsin

“Going to the lake—barbecues and boating in the summer, ice fishing in the winter, walking in the spring and fall—is my happy place,” says Mel P., a college professor for 30 years. “And Wisconsin has the best lakes, don’t let Minnesota fool you!”

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Wyoming

“Facetiming with my family members who live in different states—especially my mom in Arizona—makes my heart full,” says Ami J., an elementary teacher for 11 years. “We live so far apart and I always miss them. Talking to my mom is the best!”

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You may have heard masturbation causes blindness, low sperm count, erectile dysfunction or is a relationship red flag: All myths experts wish we’d shut down for good. “People have perceptions that make them feel like [masturbation] is unhealthy, but it doesn’t do anything bad to your body,” explains Michele Waldron, Psy.D, LADC-I, CSCT, a licensed psychologist and Certified Couples and Sex Therapist. “Masturbation is a great way to learn about your body and be able to own your own pleasure.”

And not only are there no harmful physical effects of having some solo sexy time, experts say masturbation is a totally normal, healthy sexual behavior that triggers powerful changes in your brain. Through fMRI scans, researchers have been able to identify what areas of the brain respond when people are aroused, turned on, and experience orgasm, Dr. Waldron says—mapping masturbation’s feel-good effects.

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Masturbation boosts your mood

When we masturbate, the brain floods the body with beneficial chemicals that collectively boost overall well-being, says Evie Plumb, accredited Sex Educator and Here We Flo’s registered Sexpert. Notably, we get a strong dose of dopamine, a chemical responsible for allowing us to feel pleasure, satisfaction, and happiness. Not having enough dopamine has been shown to contribute to low energy, low moods and a general lack of motivation, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

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It’s an all-natural antidote to stress and anxiety

When we’re aroused, areas of our brain’s frontal cortex become less active, says Khristina Booth, DO, MS, a Family Physician at Union Health Center in New York City. “Think of this as the area that drives your decision-making,” she explains. With this logic-oriented region turned down, feelings of fear and anxiety decrease, encouraging relaxation.

Meanwhile, the hypothalamus releases oxytocin, a feel-good bonding hormone that promotes sexual arousal. Research shows that oxytocin actually acts as a protective buffer against cortisol—the stress hormone—by lowering cortisol levels and relieving stress.

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It’s one of nature’s best painkillers

The brain also releases endorphins during masturbation—and we get a huge hit of the hormones at orgasm. These endorphins “increase energy, blood flow and heart rate, decrease pain and stimulate our reward centers even more,” Dr. Booth says.

Endorphins play a critical role in pain relief, too. “Think of them as the body’s natural opioids,” Dr. Booth says. “Masturbation can relieve headaches and menstrual cramps and relax muscles,” for instance. In fact, 2020 research published in the International Journal of Molecular Science found that our body’s endorphins have a stronger pain-relieving effect than morphine.

7 Little-Known Erogenous Zones

Masturbation can help you get to sleep

“After orgasm, our brain signals our body to relax and enter the ‘rest and digest’ phase of the parasympathetic system,” Dr. Booth says. “We feel a sense of ease and can often sleep better.”

The release of serotonin—another happiness hormone—also has an effect. Serotonin helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle, and it’s an important building block to form melatonin, our body’s main sleep-inducing chemical. Research also shows that another hormone released during orgasm called prolactin promotes better rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, an important part of our sleep cycle for getting deeper, quality rest.

13 of Your Biggest Sleep Questions, Answered

It’s associated with self-confidence

While amped up on all these feel-good hormones, we’re in a safe space to understand what our body likes without the burden of self-consciousness, Dr. Waldron says. This self-exploration can strengthen our body image and confidence. One study from 2015 found that women who masturbate more frequently reported higher levels of self-esteem (as well as significantly more orgasms.)

It can trigger feelings like guilt and shame

Some people can feel what’s called “masturbatory guilt” because of the messages they’d received growing up, Dr. Waldron explains. “Many grow up in cultures of ‘slut shaming,’ which makes it hard for women especially to feel okay with enjoying the pleasure their bodies can give them.” Similarly, research shows men can experience anxiety over masturbation practices or frequency due to cultural, social, or familial influences.

“For these people, it can be helpful to unpack where all those messages are coming from,” Dr. Waldron says. “Ultimately, these psychological barriers are going to make it challenging for them to fully embrace their body and their pleasure.”

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Have you ever thought the secret to sustainable weight loss could be hiding in your head? Nope, not your brain—the latest research presented at the May 2023 European Congress on Obesity in Dublin, Ireland suggests that auricular acupuncture could be the breakthrough you’ve been looking for.

Auricular acupuncture is another term for a type of acupuncture that’s performed on the ear. Japanese researcher Takahiro Fujimoto, MD, PhD, MBA (who holds doctorates in medicine and engineering) and his expert team have discovered that ear acupuncture may help curb food cravings, reduce weight, decrease body mass index (BMI), and diminish body fat—all while supporting a mindful diet.

This innovative method diverges from conventional acupuncture, which utilizes intradermal needles and necessitates the skills of a seasoned acupuncturist. Instead, this ear acupuncture for weight loss modality uses small beads adhered to six strategic points on your outer ear.

Dr. Fujimoto stated in a news release via the American Association for the Advancement of Science that these six points “stimulate nerves and organs which regulate appetite, satiety, and hunger.” He adds that this method has been aiding weight loss for over three decades in Japan. (It’s worth noting that multiple sources of data suggested the obesity level for the Japanese population falls in the low single digits, in comparison to the United States’ obesity level of 36%, according to the website for Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.)

Afua Bromley, MSOM, Dipl. Ac (NCCAOM)®, and a licensed acupuncturist at St. Louis/Wellness, echos the role of acupuncture in weight loss. Bromley explained in a press release that while acupuncture may not be the miracle solution to weight loss on its own, it can certainly play a pivotal role when it’s combined with other healthy lifestyle choices including a healthy diet and regular exercise.

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Here’s how ear acupuncture might work for weight loss

This weight loss strategy is rooted in the practices of traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture. The underlying principle is simple: Your overall health is intrinsically connected to the flow of qi, or energy, throughout your body. This energy travels along pathways known as meridians, extending to every corner of your body.

Ear acupuncture, a unique subset of this practice, hinges on the idea that your outer ear mirrors your entire body. Here, tiny needles or beads are placed at precise points along the meridian lines to unblock and revive the natural flow of qi. As a result, this could alleviate a variety of health problems ranging from weight loss and smoking cessation to battling drug addiction and mitigating post-traumatic stress disorder. While the precise mechanism remains a mystery, 2019 research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests ear acupuncture might regulate the endocrine system, boost metabolism, enhance digestion, and decrease oxidative stress.

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Evidence and considerationsc

The study involved 81 Japanese men aged 21 to 78, all classified as overweight or obese (average BMI of 28.4), carrying high levels of harmful abdominal fat. The ear acupuncture procedure employed 1.5-millimeter metal ear beads, adhered to six specific points on the outer ear: Shen-men (which one source says falls at the center of the upper one-third of the ear), the food pipe, upper stomach opening, stomach, lungs, and the endocrine system.

These beads were secured to both ears with surgical tape, ensuring consistent, even pressure on the six acupuncture points. Alongside the acupuncture, the participants received dietary guidance and consistently monitored their body weight. Their total food intake was reduced by half over the three-month treatment period.

The results were promising. Unhealthy abdominal body fat decreased by an average of two points, and BMI dropped by nearly three points. Participants trimmed an average of 10.4 centimeters off their waistlines and shed 4% of their total body fat. That’s six pounds on a 150-pound individual—which might not sound like much, but could be a potential way to get the ball rolling and kick off a weight loss journey, or a possible way to shed those often stubborn last few pounds as you’re nearing a healthy goal weight.

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Is ear acupuncture really the secret to weight loss?

This research is not the first time Dr. Fujimoto’s work has spotlighted the impressive potential of ear acupuncture. A 2020 study published in OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine demonstrated that Japanese women who were obese or overweight and received bead ear acupuncture experienced more significant weight reduction than those who didn’t undergo the treatment. Even more inspiring, this weight loss was sustained six months post-treatment, demonstrating the long-lasting impact of this method.

Dr. Fujimoto’s findings suggest that coupling ear acupuncture with diet and exercise could facilitate weight loss. Dr. Fujimoto explains that ear acupuncture likely exerts its positive effects by mitigating cravings and appetite, enhancing digestion, and stimulating metabolism.

However, the researchers emphasize a note of caution. Since the study is observational and conducted over a short period with a small group of Japanese men, it cannot conclusively prove causation. But don’t let that deter you! Despite these limitations, the encouraging results are valuable to the emerging body of evidence supporting ear acupuncture as a potential tool for weight loss.

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Alex Rodriguez could talk about plenty as a World Series Champion, CEO, and co-owner of two professional basketball teams (Minnesota’s Timberwolves in the NBA, and the WNBA’s Lynx). Instead, seven years after retiring from Major League Baseball, there’s a personal topic A-Rod’s getting candid about that he says surprised him as much as it’s likely to surprise many fans. “You wish you could be talking about really great stuff all the time,” Rodriguez says, “but I think the platform gives me an opportunity to reach the masses.”

He’s stepping up to the plate. This week in New York City, The Healthy @Reader’s Digest sat down with Alex Rodriguez about the health issue that he says recently caught him off guard when in a routine checkup, his dentist identified gum disease. “It was definitely scary,” Rodriguez says. “I was shocked to know that over 65 million Americans have this gum disease and it’s even more prevalent in my community, in black and brown communities.”

Rodriguez’s interest in raising awareness about gum disease in partnership with the antibiotic gum disease treatment Arestin goes beyond the symptoms of swelling or bleeding that might come to mind—in fact, he experienced no signs and says this is one reason gum disease is “misunderstood, and underdiagnosed.” Rodriguez’s dentist explained that several recent studies have shown links between gum disease and often serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. (A good deal of existing research suggests not a cause-and-effect connection, but instead that gum disease and these other conditions may share inflammation as the common denominator.)

Here, A-Rod talks about the connection between success and self-care and shares an up-close glimpse into his own wellness routine: Sure he’s all business, but fans will find a soft spot for this Bronx Bomber’s favorite way to spend time at the end of a long day.

Alex at the dentist in a dentist chair

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The Healthy @Reader’s DigestAlex, thanks for talking about this. It’s timely, as we officially come out of the pandemic. A lot of us are still catching up on those routine checkups we put off.

Alex Rodriguez: They’re never fun, I don’t think you can sugarcoat it. But at the same time, if you go in there for a purpose—obviously you want to look good and you want to have a pretty smile—but you know, the misconception is that if you have a pretty smile, you’re safe. That if you don’t chew tobacco, you’re safe. If you don’t dip, you’re safe. [In press materials, Rodriguez says that tobacco use was “a habit I never really started.”]

All of that is wrong. Everybody is a target, and it could happen to anyone. And again, specifying that black and brown communities [experience] even more opportunity [for gum disease to develop], and as you get older, [there’s] more opportunity. So the biggest thing you can do is get there as early as possible. No one’s exempt from this. Go and see your dentist.

The Healthy: How have you tweaked your own dental practice?

Alex Rodriguez: It’s just being a little bit more aware. If you floss five days a week, make sure you do it seven days a week. Obviously brushing, all that stuff, two or three times a day, not just once.

The Healthy: We appreciate when guys talk about self-care. But for someone who’s working with a family, it can be tough to find even those couple of extra minutes in the day to invest in yourself.

Alex Rodriguez: I think the greatest investment as human beings, as Americans, that we can make is in ourselves—right? Whether that’s educating your mind, or I always think about health: Think about offense and defense. On the offense side, you want to get your eight hours of sleep, you want to stay hydrated, you want to have your multivitamins, you want to do a little cardio, whatever exercise floats your boat.

And then on the defensive side, this is the kind of stuff that OraPharma’s really passionate about: To go to the dentist; if you’re a male, you get into prostate cancer [screening] stuff and just making sure that you’re playing defense there. I think the balance is really important.

Then you have to enjoy life—have a good life and smile and have fun and celebrate life a little bit. ‘Cause so many times we’re in the rat race of like, What’s next? Like How many likes, and who? I think just stay in the moment. Those are things that at this stage of my life that I’m really emphasizing and prioritizing.

A Rod with a microphone

The Healthy: Do you think there’s a connection between self-care and success?

Alex Rodriguez: I call it “slow down to speed up.” From the time I wake up, say eight in the morning to noon, that’s my time. Whether that means going to workout, meditating, yoga, sauna, meditate—that’s my time. My office knows they have me exclusively from 12 to six, and then I go home and spend time with my daughters.

If you are not intentional about what’s important to you, then obviously your day’s gonna run all over and your schedule’s going to add up. Having discipline there—I go back to over-emphasizing: What are you doing for offense, and what are you doing for defense? You can’t win championships in sports without defense. I think the same way about life. I mean, going to your dentist is not something that you’re going to be super excited about, but if you know that it can avoid potential issues in the future, whatever those are, your doctor will tell you about that. But when we talk about [being] associated with, you know, diabetes and cardiovascular disease is something that is definitely should be front of mind, not back of mind.

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When it comes to our relationship with social media, the only simple way to sum it up is to say that it’s complicated. The 2023 digital media trends report from the market research firm Deloitte found strong samples of young adults who reported finding community and connection through their online presence, with almost 50% of participants engaging more with others through social media than in-person.

So when something rocks the boat between you and an online connection, it can hit in a unique way. To start, says Jonathon Alpert, LPC, a psychotherapist who specializes in social media use and the author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Dayswhen we put so much of ourselves into our social media image, we can get hypersensitive to even the slightest negative experiences or forms of rejection. Research has found that unfriending on social media has psychological and emotional impacts similar to being socially excluded in real life.

Social media also involves different (and constantly shifting) etiquette, norms, and ways of communicating, so it’s normal to feel confused about how to navigate a breakdown in these online connections. If you’re feeling the sting of a social media relationship lost, Alpert shares tips to heal and move forward.

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Here’s how to react when someone unfriends or unfollows you

Don’t jump to conclusions

“Remember that social media connections are not always reflective of the real-life relationship,” Alpert says. The nature of social media is that it allows people to curate their own personal world, whether that’s their tool for debate and expression or just a place to scroll for cooking inspiration.

“Don’t erroneously conclude that [unfriending] is a personal attack on you,” Alpert says. A coworker may enjoy your working relationship, for example, but your interests and hobbies don’t align in the social world, or they want some separation between work and play—and that’s OK. Similarly, you can’t always know what someone else is going through, and they may be setting new boundaries in their social media use to work on their mental health.

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Don’t ruminate

“It’s natural to feel a sense of loss or rejection when someone unfriends you, but dwelling on it excessively can be detrimental to your mental health,” Alpert says. Try to avoid overthinking their intentions or constantly checking their profiles for updates, he advises.

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Have a conversation

If you feel comfortable doing so, consider having an open and honest conversation about why someone unfriended you, Alpert advises. The way people interact with their own online world changes all the time, and curating their friends list may have nothing to do with you as a person but entirely based on how they want to shape their social media experience—and respecting their decision may be the most harmonious choice you can make (perhaps most of all for yourself).

Still, if you were intentionally unfriended, this conversation can help you explore potential unaddressed issues in your real-life relationship.

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Validate offline relationships

It’s important to take stock of how social media affects your mood and self-esteem. If you notice you feel especially snubbed by a social unfriending, this could be a sign to check in with your in-person network. “Meaningful face-to-face interactions provide a sense of belonging and support that social media often lacks,” Alpert explains. Just as others’ online behaviors and activities aren’t representative of real life, “your value as a person extends beyond social media connections.” Let your pals who know you well boost your spirits and reinforce your goodness.

Examine your own relationship with social media

Recent research shows that social media can have a positive influence on some people’s lives. A study from Pew Research Center found that a majority of teens say social media strengthens their friendships, allows them to show and cultivate creativity, and can be a place to find reassurance and acceptance in tough times.

But how people use social media is very personal. Alpert suggests if someone else’s behaviors have a big effect on how you feel about yourself, it’s worth considering how much of your self-worth is wrapped up in your digital presence. “Be mindful of your emotional reactions while using social media,” he says. “Developing self-awareness can help you identify triggers and take appropriate action,” like setting boundaries around your own social use, changing what content you’re exposed to, or learning to approach social media with a more critical mindset.

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Here’s when it’s OK to unfriend someone

On the flip side, being selective with your own social media network can help you create a digital world that’s positive, Alpert explains. “Just as it is important to set boundaries with people in real life, it’s important to set boundaries and prioritize one’s well-being when it comes to social media interactions,” he says. Unfriending someone on social media can be a reasonable action if maintaining that connection is causing negativity or making you feel bad about yourself, for instance.

But, this therapist says, it’s important to consider your motivation for unfriending someone. “Ask yourself: Is it based on a temporary disagreement or a fundamental difference in values and beliefs?” In cases where the relationship has become toxic or unhealthy, you might distance yourself from those negative people. Still, it’s important to make sure your decision to unfriend isn’t an impulsive or vengeful one. “It’s always best to first attempt to have open communication and attempt to resolve conflicts or misunderstandings before severing the online connection.”

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When we all were kids, the last day of the school year seemed to be infused with a certain kind of magic; a palpable energy that buzzed through the soon-to-to-empty classrooms and hallways.

But as grownups, the arrival of summer feels less definitive…and dare we say, maybe even a little bit of a downer? When your daily work and life routine doesn’t come with a pause button, the summer months usually fly by in a flash. For caretakers of kiddos, this period often comes with even greater responsibility than the school year does.

The good news? You don’t have to be a teacher to soak up the benefits of summertime. All you need is a little wisdom from experts that will make this season special, even if summer is serving up limited PTO time for you.

Here’s How Often You Need To Vacation To Prevent Premature Death, Says Overwhelming Research

A break don’t just feel good—it is good

As it turns out, simply switching up your daily routine and responsibilities can have a profound impact on your well-being. “One significant benefit of summer break is the opportunity for periods of downtime,” says Dr. Patrick Porter, PhD, a psychologist concentrating on neuroscience and creator of the mental wellness app, BrainTap. “During the academic year or work life, we’re often caught up in a whirlwind of activities, deadlines, and stressors.” Dr. Porter adds: “Summer break offers a chance to step back, relax, and recharge our mental batteries.”

The mental health benefits associated with summer break aren’t just good for your mind. The Mayo Clinic suggests that if you experience seasonal affective disorder, the summer sun and increase in vitamin D exposure may alleviate symptoms associated with the depressive disorder.

And, the Cleveland Clinic says, if your summer routine includes biking, swimming, gardening, or spending more time moving, you’ll benefit from an increase in the “feel-good” chemicals—endorphins and dopamine. More frequent movement produces endorphins which then signal your brain’s reward center to release dopamine. Together, these two neurotransmitters can boost your mood in big ways.

If you need another push to book that plane ticket, research shows vacation may even lead to a longer life (check out the story link above). Dr. Porter says this is due to the overall effect of stress reduction. Since the American Heart Association cites stress as a known contributor to high blood pressure, taking time off from the stressful stimuli of working life—even for just a few days—can help minimize associated risks of heart attack and stroke.

In support of this principle, Dr. Porter cites a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2010, which investigated the effects of vacations on burnout and work engagement among employees. The study revealed that vacations were associated with significant reductions in burnout and increased levels of work engagement. So don’t hesitate to set that OOO message and remove your employer’s messaging app from your phone for a week.

9 Signs Toxic Productivity Is Impacting Your Life

Does summer break reduce stress?

Because summer break has a tendency to shake up our routines, it can double as a stressful time for some. To best manage expectations, Kate Carmichael, MA, LPC-S, ​the clinical director of ATX Counseling, recommends taking inventory of your needs ahead of the summer months and consider what you want to have experienced by the time September arrives. “What are your needs, hopes, and wishes?” Carmichael says. “How can you set this time of year apart from the others to get the most out of this season?”

If you’re a parent or a caregiver, the addition of children at home with more downtime can pose a particular challenge during the summer. Carmichael, who has three-year-old twins, stresses the importance of practicing healthy boundaries during the summer to ensure your own needs are met, too. “Making sure I get time to reset allows me to take a much-needed breath and do some things for myself,” she says. “I want to model that taking care of yourself means plenty of time to rest, as well as connecting with special people in your life. Both are key ingredients to a great summer.”

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How can summer break habits help our health?

In the same way summer offers a break from the rest of the year, Dr. Porter says that making a practice of incorporating short breaks throughout the day, even as brief as a few minutes, has been shown to have positive effects on mental and physical well-being. Because these breaks allow for us to step away from tasks and lean into a more mindful state, they can help aid in stress reduction and lead to increased focus and productivity.

While taking a break from work or a vacation may not be possible for everyone this summer, Carmichael says there are ways to make the summer memorable. This can empower you to reap the mental health benefits for years to come. “Whether you intend to get some rest, do more reading, take a painting class, or do something special with your kids, it’s a time to do something you can look back on that will distinguish this season of life with fondness,” she says. “The years have a way of rolling by, and it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of life. Do something this summer that will make the whole year memorable.”

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The problem with toxic friends

Most anyone you care about will let you down at some point—whether they cancel plans last-minute, forget an important occasion, or misunderstand your feelings. It’s the chronic toxic patterns that can be dead weight for your mental health, says Kaytee Gillis, LCSW-BACS, a psychotherapist with Choosing Therapy.

And, adds Joyce Marter, LCPC, licensed psychotherapist and author of The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Lifein addition to the potential emotional tolls a toxic friendship can take—leading to self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and other issues—a pal who falls into this category can lead to physiological consequences, too. A landmark body of research in 2007, known as the Whitehall II study, followed 10,000 participants for 12 years. The study found that those who experienced more negativity and toxic behaviors in close relationships were at a greater risk of developing—and dying from—heart problems.

16 Warning Signs You Are (or Someone You Know Is) Addicted to Drama, Say Leading Doctors

Quiz: Is My Friendship Healthy?

Keep track of the number of Yes and No responses to tally your answers to the following nine questions from experts.

How to let a toxic friendship go

If you answered mostly Yes to the questions above, you may have a toxic friend. But, says Nichols, identifying that probably isn’t the toughest part. “It’s hard to break away from toxic friendships because they don’t often start out this way, and you can become attached to the idea of the potential of the friendship based on your past experiences, rather than the reality of the friendship today,” she says. It can also be hard to break away from a toxic friendship because most humans are creatures of habit, and change can be scary. “We would often rather stick with situations that are predictable than do something different, even if that predictability is harming us.”

Gillis suggests if you feel like you’re dealing with a toxic friend, it’s always important to try having a conversation with the person first. “They might not realize how they come across and can use this opportunity for self-exploration and maybe self-healing. However, you should never feel like you have to put up with disrespect or other toxic behaviors.”

Depending on how bad their toxic behaviors are, it might be time to distance yourself from the person or even end the friendship. Read more about friendship breakups here, including when, and how, to move on from a friend.

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In an era of choices between serums, masks, cleansing oils and balms, there are few beauty basics that have stood the test of time like Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser has. This iconic skincare product has weaved its way through generations of women who swear by its effectiveness as a makeup remover with hydrating benefits. While I may not have learned about the all-in-one product from someone in my own family tree, it landed on my radar by another iconic matriarch: Dolly Parton.

In a 2021 interview with Refinery29, Parton referred to Pond’s Cold Cream as one of her “old faithfuls.” Naturally, I figured if this nostalgic multi-hyphenate product was good enough to be on Dolly Parton’s shelf, it was certainly worth trying—so I bought myself a jar of the $9 staple and used it in lieu of my regular face wash. As I sit here one week later with visibly dewier skin, I can attest to the hype.

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What is cold cream?

Pond's Cold Cream

The name “cold cream” is derived from the cooling effect that takes place when it’s applied to the skin and the water in the formula evaporates, according to a explainer from PharmaEducation. While the origin of cold cream is credited to Galen, a physician in second century Greece, Pond’s formula dates back to 1846 when Theron T. Pond, a pharmacist from Utica, NY, introduced a witch hazel-based “wonder product” that was later coined as Pond’s Extract.

According to the brand, Pond’s Cold Cream hit shelves more widely in 1905 and was the first moisturizer that didn’t require refrigeration. Since then, Pond’s has become a versatile beauty staple purported to suit even the most sensitive skin types, which the brand attributes in part to its ingredients and its hydrating quality.

Unlike most face cleansers, Pond’s Cold Cream is made up of 50% moisturizer. According to Valerie Plaza, esthetician and owner of Golden Hour Skincare in Austin, TX, the formula’s main ingredient of mineral oil helps make for an effective moisturizer.

Does Pond’s Cold Cream have side effects?

For those who have oily skin (myself included), it might seem counterintuitive to reach for a product heavy with oil. But according to Pond’s, the Cold Cream is suitable for oily, dry, and sensitive skin.

What about the “clean beauty” factor in this near-200-year-old product? For clarity about the safety of Pond’s Cold Cream ingredients in a time when more consumers than ever are concerned about the chemicals in our products, we asked for the opinions of two PhD-level scientists who each spent decades leading research, toxicology testing and product safety at another major manufacturer of consumer cosmetics and personal care products. After reviewing the list of ingredients in Pond’s Cold Cream, here’s what one told us: “All of the ingredients in this product are commonly used materials,” one of these scientists said, adding that companies like Pond’s parent company, Unilever, “conduct testing on products among hundreds and even thousands of people before placing a product in the market as well as a complete safety and toxicology review.” This source also noted that when new safety or toxicology information is available, a manufacturer of this caliber likely “will reformulate products to ensure safety.”

The second scientist we spoke with noted that in fact, these companies “have departments that receive and review consumer comments and monitor for reports of undue health experiences. Analysis of these data are fed back to both the Quality Assurance and the Product Development departments to identify and understand any potential product- or use-related cause that might warrant product or label modification.”

While there aren’t any specific publicly known side effects to using Pond’s Cold Cream, if you experience any irritation or rashes, you’ll want to discontinue use. If the symptoms persist, it may be a good idea to reach out to a licensed healthcare professional.

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Can cold cream be used as a moisturizer?

Using the cold cream in my nightly routine proved to be an effective makeup remover. I was impressed by how efficiently it lifted even my toughest eye makeup, waterproof mascara included. But it was the added moisture that took me most by surprise. At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked the intense feeling of the cream. Since I usually stick with lighter products, I chalked it up to a learning curve.

On a day when I didn’t wear makeup, I decided to apply a thin layer at night and let it absorb as I slept. When I woke up to hydrated skin, sans breakout, I further understood why Pond’s formula has the following it does.

That said, it’s important to take inventory of the way any cold cream influences your skin when being used for the purpose of hydration. “If clogged pores and breakouts develop, it’s time to look for another moisturizer,” says Plaza. Consulting with a dermatologist or licensed esthetician may guide you in the right direction if it’s not a fit for your skin.

Here’s what I learned from using Pond’s Cold Cream for a week

While it’s probably generally safe to use Pond’s d Cold Cream everyday, I found I’m too attached to my arsenal of retinol-packed products to make the swap permanent. Instead, I plan to continue using it as a pre-cleanser in my nightly routine since it removes all traces of makeup with an ease I haven’t experienced in any other remover.

To use the cream cleanser, apply a light layer all over your face with clean, dry hands. Then, massage it in gently and follow by wiping it off with a cotton ball or wipe. To take things a step further, Plaza suggests using a cloth—like The Original MakeUp Eraser—to ensure all of the residue is removed before applying the rest of your skincare regimen.

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Your eye color could mean way more than a simple genetic pigmentation. For starters, it might reveal insightful clues into your health and personality. But here’s the shocker: It could also determine who you are most attracted to. While romantic partners may share a few physical traits, science says that your attraction to certain eye colors could actually come from another surprising source.

This Is the Rarest Eye Color in the World

In a 2017 paper published on the online database bioRxiv, Lisa DeBruine, PhD, and her colleagues at the University of Glasgow found that people tend to prefer lovers with the same eye color as their parents. Intriguing, right?

To test how someone’s eye color could determine their attractiveness, the research team recruited 300 heterosexual and homosexual men and women. Each participant’s eye color, as well as those of their lover and their parents, was logged. Then, the researchers categorized each response as either light—which included hazel, green, blue-green, blue, and grey eyes—or dark, including black, dark brown, and light brown eyes.

Overall, in this particular study straight women and gay men were both twice as likely to have a lover with a similar eye color as their father’s. Meanwhile straight men and gay women were two and a half times more likely have a lover whose eye color matched their mother’s.

DeBruine and her colleagues believe that children might “imprint” on, or determine their own sexual preferences by, the parent whose gender they are attracted to. Because the paper has not been peer-reviewed yet, more research is needed to determine if parental eye color really could influence our preferences in partners. Until then, you might want to rely on these 10 science-backed reasons for sexual attraction, instead.

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Of all Bravo’s reality TV personalities, Bethenny Frankel is one who went from a Real Housewife to a household name. At 52, Frankel has been a reality star, the author of four self-help books, a podcast host, a philanthropist (as an example, she once chartered planes to Puerto Rico after a disastrous hurricane), and an entrepreneur—most famously as founder of the Skinnygirl cocktails brand, which she sold in 2011.

Now Bethenny’s got a new accolade: Co-founder of the new Forever Young rosé, a female-led wine brand launching with two varietals: Côtes de Provence Rosé and Prestige Rosé Cru Classé Provence. If you follow her pharmacy beauty recommendations on social media, you know Bethenny Frankel is selective about anything she backs. In a recent chat with The Healthy @Reader’s Digest, Frankel told us Forever Young rosé is poised to be another hit.

What you also might know if you follow Frankel is that her outlook hasn’t changed much since she first burst into the spotlight on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York. There’s nothing she’s afraid to state bluntly, and nothing too tough for her to tackle. Whatever you think of the former chef and event planner’s outspokenness, her success and forthrightness have inspired many women.

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Bethenny Frankel’s new rosé wine

The Healthy @Readers Digest: Congrats on the new launch of Forever Young Rosé! You created it with Valérie Rousselle, the owner of Château Roubine in Provence, France. In the press materials, we read that you both feel the wine embodies things you cherish in life: Quality, beauty, prestige and fun. What made you decide to get into the rosé business?

Bethenny Frankel: Skinnygirl was an amazing invention. It created a new category, and … was the fastest-growing liquor brand in history. And to have invented the skinny margarita, which is ordered worldwide, is pretty amazing and interesting. In my thirties, that solved different problems—that I didn’t want to consume sugar, and you were going out and partying more and you wanted to not have the same hangover. It definitely solved the problem, but it was more functional.

As you get older, you have a different taste level. You’ve seen so many rosés everywhere, and it’s a lot of marketing and branding. To just walk into rosé is no small feat. I feel entitled to walk into spirits because I cracked the code in the industry. People like George Clooney and Randy Gerber have followed in my footsteps. These celebrities used to be afraid to hold a cocktail, so I’m proud of that.

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The Healthy: I don’t even think I ever realized that.

Bethenny Frankel: I remember Justin Timberlake’s manager coming up to me and saying, “He wants to get in because of you.” I feel entitled to be here, but also, I won’t come in unless I’m saying something different. And it is different. It is new, it is fresh, it is stunning. It is so elevated. We have the street cred, we have the winery, I have the female partner. It’s just all so perfect. The number-one most important thing is that the product is extraordinary.

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Bethenny Frankel on healthy aging

The Healthy: So the name is Forever Young, and you seem to have such a healthy attitude about aging. What has been challenging, and what have you enjoyed about growing older?

Bethenny Frankel: What has been hard was just the numbers—that you know the numbers, that you’re aware of the numbers. I have a daughter and I want to be young for her. It’s been great to just accept [it]. I see people, women, so desperately clinging on to youth and doing everything they can, and every gimmick and lying about their age and every filter. It seems there’s a desperation to aging and not allowing it to happen like in fine wine.

I like being older because you have to be comfortable in your own skin and you get to be that dorky aunt. That’s who I am to my daughter’s friends. That’s who I am on social media. I’ve embraced it, I get it. I like prioritizing sleep and travel and food. I like curating my life the way that I want it to be and only doing work that I want to do that’s very liberating. I’m peaceful. I’m level, I’m happy. The highs and lows are not what they used to be, which is positive.

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The Healthy: I’m curious, because you’ve been posting about beauty: How do you feel about the phrase anti-aging? When I hear that, it makes me feel like aging is a bad thing. What is your take is on that?

Bethenny Frankel: It doesn’t even matter. There’s nothing that anyone can do. The truth is that you never feel better than when you had a good night’s sleep, and when you’re hydrating, and when you’re just calm and rested and settled. There’s no cream. I put Nivea on the left side of my face and La Mer on the right. I was more hydrated from the Nivea. I’ve done it all. If you look like you’re 25 on a 55-year-old body—and I know I’m thin, so I’m not in a position to really talk about this—but you see the Ozempic [usage] … everybody looks the same and it’s weird. People should be fit and healthy, but there’s a desperation that is linked to that. I think that’s what’s bothering people.

The Healthy: Healthy means different things for different bodies.

Bethenny Frankel: Right.

Read READER’S DIGEST: 14 “Polite” Ways You’re Talking About Aging That Are Actually Rude

Bethenny Frankel’s beauty routine

The Healthy: What’s one self-care ritual you refuse to skip?

Bethenny Frankel: Consistency, hydration, spray tone, layering spray tone with serums. I have a sheet mask on right now because I flew yesterday, and a neck pillow that has lavender in it. Taking hot baths with epsom salts. It’s old-school just consistency. And hell, I prioritize health over what I look like, so even though I do these makeup videos, I wipe the makeup off right away. I don’t want my hair to be trapped with products to make it look better. I’m pretty natural in the sense that I just like to feel good. I want the mask on, the hydration on. I want the hair to feel healthy and clean. I don’t like all of the extra gunk and buildup and garbage everyone’s putting on top of themselves, and it does affect your skin. Everyone’s pounding this makeup on and no one’s really talking about how it traps your pores, and how brushes are dirty and have bacteria. It’s been fun to help other people, but I have way too much stuff and we don’t need it all.

The Healthy: We really love the beauty budget-busting videos that you’ve been sharing on social that highlight quality and affordability. What inspired you to start those?

Bethenny Frankel: I was on social media and I was thinking, Wait, I still have the same foundation that I’ve had for years and I don’t own any makeup, really. It’s very little. I felt like I was so behind. I did not realize these people are using filters. I did not realize that they were paid. I did not realize that most of the classic things that I had liked from years ago, I still liked. I realized that the drugstore stuff is 90% as good as all the expensive stuff, and it really is just packaging. It’s no different than most handbags or other things where you can buy something inexpensively if you’re not paying for the brand. But there are some brands that are elite and elevated. I just discovered this whole world and started posting without a filter, just my honest opinion.

The Healthy: You recently took your daughter to a Taylor Swift concert, it’s clear you two are close. What’s the most important thing you hope your child learns from you?

Bethenny Frankel: To be comfortable in her own skin, not to be trying to compete with other people, not trying to keep up. She’s very free and I love that she never wears something that makes me think she’s trying to be something she’s not. She’s well adjusted and she’s an unbelievable child.

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This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

When parents tell their children they are special and unique, they aren’t lying. But even though so many different features make up each individual’s appearance, some facial features are rarer than others. The one that appears most infrequently is heterochromia, or having different-colored eyes.

How rare is heterochromia, and does it reveal anything about the health of your eyes or your body? We have the answers, along with other interesting facts about this striking condition. And if you have blue eyes, don’t fret—you’re still special and unique. Brown eyes? Van Morrison wrote a song about you…and hey, maybe you have one of the rarest birthdays, too!

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What is heterochromia, exactly?

“Heterochromia is when a person’s irises are different colors,” explains Sidney Gicheru, MD, the medical director of LaserCare Eye Center in Dallas, TX and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. In case you need an anatomy refresh, the iris is the technical term for the circle on the front of the eye that contains the colored part and the pupil in the middle.

There are three types of heterochromia.

  • Complete heterochromia: The most obvious form of heterochromia, it describes irises that are completely different in color. Translation: When you see someone with complete heterochromia, you’ll notice that they have two different-colored eyes.
  • Central heterochromia: “With central heterochromia, there is an inner ring that is a different color than the outer area of the iris,” Dr. Gicheru says. There are two different ways this can present. In the first, most of the iris around the pupil is one color, but then it is essentially outlined with another color. In the second, there is a thin ring of one color around the pupil, then the rest of the iris is a different color.
  • Partial heterochromia: In this type of heterochromia, only part of one iris is a different color than the rest of it. From far away, a person with this form of heterochromia may not appear to have different-colored eyes. But a closer look will reveal that one of their eyes is two different colors, while the other is just one.

In a nutshell: The vast majority of people have just one color in their eyes (not counting the black of their pupils). People with heterochromia have two.

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How rare is heterochromia?

Heterochromia is extremely rare, affecting less than 1% of the world’s population, or fewer than 78 million people worldwide. If that sounds like a lot, consider that between 70% and 80% of people, or about 6.4 billion people, have brown eyes—by far the most common eye color on the planet.

Rounding things out are blue eyes, the second-most-common eye color, at 8% to 10% (or roughly 800 million people); hazel eyes and amber eyes at 5% (or 400 million people) each; gray eyes at 3% (or 240 million people); and green eyes at just 2% (or 160 million people). So the answer to the question “How rare is heterochromia?” is: Very. That said, it’s not as rare as the rarest blood type, which is found in fewer than 50 people worldwide!

While super uncommon in humans, heterochromia is actually fairly common in dogs. Breeds that are most likely to have two different-colored eyes include Australian cattle dogs, Australian shepherds, Great Danes and Siberian huskies.

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What causes people to have different-colored eyes?

The most common cause of heterochromia (and the cause behind everybody’s eye color) is genetics. Your genes determine how much melanin, a brown pigment, is present in each eye. More melanin means darker eyes, while less melanin means lighter ones.

Sometimes people are just born with it, according to Dr. Gicheru, the same way that some people are born with blonde hair and some are born with red. In this case, it is called congenital heterochromia. “It is usually harmless, but it can sometimes be a symptom of disease,” Dr. Gicheru notes.

When an infant is born with different-colored eyes or develops heterochromia shortly after birth, it can be a symptom of another eye condition, such as Horner’s syndrome or Sturge-Weber syndrome. “Horner’s syndrome results from a lesion to the nerve pathway that supplies the head and neck region. It can lead to heterochromia because the development of the pigmentation of the iris is controlled by these nerves,” explains optometrist Kerry Gelb. “Sturge-Weber syndrome is a rare neurological disorder present at birth and characterized by a wine-stain birthmark on the forehead and upper eyelid on one side of the face.”

A check from an ophthalmologist can determine if one of these, or another eye condition, is the cause, or if the heterochromia is benign (which it usually is).

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Can you develop heterochromia as an adult?

Yes. Heterochromia can appear later in life. Known as acquired heterochromia, this is often nothing to worry about—though as with most medical conditions, sometimes it’s a sign of a problem. “There are several potential causes a doctor will check for,” explains Dr. Gicheru, “such as iritis or uveitis (swelling of the eye), bleeding in the eye, glaucoma and/or some of the medications used to treat it, diabetes mellitus, ocular melanosis and central retinal vein occlusion, among other eye diseases.” If an ophthalmologist determines that one of these is behind the change in eye color, they will recommend treatment for that specific issue.

When should you see a doctor for heterochromia?

“It is always a good idea to see an ophthalmologist when you notice any change to your eyes’ appearance,” says Dr. Gicheru. This applies regardless of when the heterochromia develops. “An ophthalmologist is trained to spot and treat eye disease,” he adds. “If they conclude that there is no other health issue with the eye after an exam, heterochromia is nothing to worry about. If heterochromia is caused by another underlying condition, an ophthalmologist can recommend the right treatment.”

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Who are some famous people with heterochromia?

There are quite a few of them, given how rare heterochromia is. Perhaps it’s because different-colored eyes are so striking, which helps the person sporting them stand out from the pack—something that’s especially helpful in a field as competitive as acting. Some famous folks with heterochromia include:

  • Elizabeth Berkley, actress
  • Kate Bosworth, actress
  • Henry Cavill, actor
  • Jennifer Connelly, actress
  • Alyson Hannigan, actress
  • Josh Henderson, actor
  • Mila Kunis, actress
  • Jane Seymour, actress
  • Max Scherzer, professional baseball player
  • Christopher Walken, actor
  • Olivia Wilde, actress
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If you haven’t heard of board-certified dermatologist Shereene Idriss, MD, perhaps you’ve heard of the Pillowtalk Derm, the name she’s known by to the over one million followers across Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. Dr. Idriss has grown known for her no-nonsense videos that feel like an authoritative BFF setting you straight, as well as for calling out high-profile figures when she thinks their claim is bogus (see her takedown of Gwyneth Paltrow’s lotion routine).

Aside from Dr. Idriss’ videos is her talent. She’s mastered the low-key ways to emphasize a patient’s appearance by helping them give off a fresher, happier glow. If the plump-lipped Kardashian look was the face of the past decade, Dr. Idriss is on a quest to usher in the new face: One that actually looks like yours, just at your healthiest. She explains that her famous phrase, “Subtle is the new dramatic,” is to the field of dermatology “what ‘quiet luxury’ is to fashion,” she says: “It’s the you that only you can pull off.”

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Mindy Kaling, Jennifer Aniston and Emily Ratajkowski all follow her, but the truth is, she sees a lot more celebrities than you’ll never know about. “The reality is a lot of celebs that I treat in my practice don’t actually follow me on social,” said Dr. Idriss, who runs Idriss Dermatology out of her Bryant Park office in New York City.

For the masses who can’t make it into her practice, in 2022 Dr. Idriss debuted a skincare line, Pillowtalk Derm by Dr. Shereene Idriss. Her first three products made up the Major Fade system, which quickly sold out for the line’s ability to reduce hyperpigmentation and even out skin tone.

Dr. Idriss sat down with The Healthy @Readers Digest to talk about her latest product, The Depuffer, and bust a few skincare myths for our readers. If there’s one thing you leave this article remembering, it should be one of her mottos: “If you’re not aging, you’re dead.” We’ll gladly take healthy aging, please.

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Shereene Idriss on summer skin care

Pillowtalk Derm Product Shot Courtesy Dr. Shireene Idriss, Md

The Healthy @Readers Digest: The sun is finally out, summer’s on the way. What are some warm-weather skin prep advice that people just don’t talk about enough?

Dr. Shereene Idriss, MD: As the temperatures rise, our skin responds accordingly! What our skin gets acclimated to using in the winter months doesn’t necessarily apply for the warmer summer days ahead. It’s important to switch up how we deliver actives to our skin with temperature fluctuations. As the temperatures rise, I recommend swapping out thicker ointments and creams for lighter-weight hydrating serums and gel moisturizers. I would even go so far as to say that some people can skip moisturizing altogether in the more humid summer months.

The Healthy: You are one of the biggest SPF advocates out there with signs all over your office. What are your big sunscreen rules?

Dr. Idriss: Rain or snow, sunshine or clouds, SPF is always a must, and will never go out of style. People often associate wearing sunscreen with warmer temperatures. But the reality is that daily sunscreen is mandatory, regardless of how hot or cold the day is. UV rays can penetrate through clouds, the same way it can penetrate through your windows. Two finger lengths of sunscreen are the perfect amount to protect your face. (On Instagram, she suggests going for a little more if you’re bald.)

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Shereene Idriss on skin health myths

The Healthy: There’s a lot of misinformation out there online when it comes to skincare. Your Instagram “Pillowtalk” videos have gone viral for calling out bad advice. What are the top five skin myths you’ve called out and corrected? Let’s break them all down.

Dr. Idriss:

  1. Sunscreen will give you cancer. Get over it, especially if you live in a large city like New York City. Breathing in the fumes are more likely to be carcinogenic than sunscreen.
  2. Quality skincare needs to be expensive. It’s not about how much you pay, it’s how to use your skin care that pays off. Having a targeted skin care routine is what’s ultimately going to pay off for your skin.
  3. Hyaluronic acid serum. I’ve had enough of this one, especially the ones that cost hundreds of dollars for a 30-milliliter jar. You do not need a dedicated hyaluronic acid serum, as chances are one of the products in your skin care routine will likely have it in it. Save yourself time, money and unnecessary disappointment.
  4. You need to moisturize your skin all year round is something that is just not true. Acclimating your skincare to the climate that you’re in is invaluable. If you are in a humid environment, you can definitely skip the moisturizer.
  5. “Face cream is only for your face” is another myth that needs to be busted. Last I checked, you have skin on your neck, chest, arms, legs, and other body parts.

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Shereene Idriss on the latest in skincare

The Healthy: What does your personal skin care routine look like in the morning and at night?

Dr. Idriss: Shameless plug, but genuinely not so shameless plug. Ever since I launched my own skincare line, PillowtalkDerm, I have streamlined my routine immensely. I suffer from discoloration and hyperpigmentation and used to have a 10-step skincare routine in order to get the best of all the ingredients to help even out my skin tone. Over the past two years, I’ve been working on formulations that combine all of these ingredients into a simplified routine. So every day I stick to three to four steps by using my Major Fade solution system and sunscreen.

The Healthy: Your products that help fade sunspots and have notoriously sold out time and again. Tell us about your latest product, The Depuffer, and how it fits in with the rest of your line.

Dr. Idriss: Major Fade was the first trio that I launched, born not only from my own skincare routine, but also my experience from my practice through my patients. Achieving an even skin tone can give you your biggest bang for your buck when your goal is to look more refreshed. But taking a step back, your skin tone is primarily made up of two colors: brown and red. Major Fade addresses your brown discoloration, whereas the Depuffer targets redness.

The serum in the Depuffer is the powerhouse of this product, and the roller is an added benefit to the serum. The roller is the delivery mechanism of the packaging that comes into play as a tool with actual benefits. This serum does all the heavy lifting as it is formulated with Arnica Montana, traditionally used to help decrease the appearance of swelling; Centella Asiatica to combat redness and transient flushing; Niacinamide to soothe the skin’s barrier; and Ash Bark Extract to help reduce puffiness.

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The Healthy: What trends are you seeing lately in skincare and beauty?

Dr. Idriss: Buccal fat pad removal has been on the rise as of late, but given the speed at which information spreads on social, I hope it is a trend that is quickly dying.

The Healthy: For people who can’t afford to come into your office and get your personal touch, what can they do at home to take care of their skin?

Dr. Idriss: You can have all the lines and wrinkles in the world, but as long as your skin tone is even you will be golden. And wear the damn sunscreen. Your skin (and bank account) will thank you later.

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