Showing posts with label Health Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health Related. Show all posts

14 November 2020

Why Lockdowns Don't Necessarily Infringe On Freedom

Why Lockdowns Don't Necessarily Infringe On Freedom
Why Lockdowns Don't Necessarily Infringe On Freedom (Image by Tumisu)
Europe is dealing with its “second wave” of COVID-19. And governments seem powerless to stem the tide. Dutch political leaders find it difficult to convince their citizens to wear face masks. A large majority of French voters think that Emmanuel Macron’s government has handled the pandemic badly. And Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, is facing anger from all sides about the circumstances that led to a new English lockdown.
According to these leaders, the arrival of a second wave has nothing to do with their own policy failures, or poor communication. No, the numbers are rising because Europeans are freedom-loving people and it’s hard to make them follow rules. “It is very difficult to ask the British population, uniformly, to obey guidelines in the way that is necessary,” said Johnson for example, in response to criticism of his government’s testing policy. Similarly, in the Netherlands some were quick to attribute soaring infection rates to the fact that the Dutch are famously averse to being “patronised”.

The same explanation is often invoked to account for why Europe is doing significantly worse than countries in East Asia, where the disease seems more under control. According to some commentators, the authoritarian, top-down political culture of countries like China and Singapore makes it far easier to implement strict measures than in liberal Europe.

Singapore’s “effective crisis management”, for instance, was supposedly made possible by the fact that its government “has always wielded absolute control over the state, with an iron fist and a whip in it.” Conversely, many believe that a devotion to “individual liberty” doomed the west to its ongoing crisis.

Why Lockdowns Don't Necessarily Infringe On Freedom
A coronavirus screening centre in Singapore. (EPA-EFE)
Is this true? Is a poorly functioning government indeed the price that must be paid for freedom? If that is the case, then perhaps we had better give up on liberty. After all, anyone who is dead or seriously ill does not benefit much from being free.

Collective freedom

Fortunately, that’s a conclusion we needn’t draw. As history shows, freedom is quite compatible with effective government. Western political thinkers ranging from Herodotus to Algernon Sidney did not think that a free society is a society without rules, but that those rules should be decided collectively. In their view, freedom was a public good rather than a purely individual condition. A free people, Sidney wrote for instance, was a people living “under laws of their own making”.

Even philosophers such as John Locke, it is worth noting, agreed with this view. Locke is often portrayed as a thinker who believed that freedom coincided with individual rights, rights that should be protected at all costs against state interference. But Locke explicitly denied that freedom was harmed by government regulation – as long as those rules were made “with the consent of society”.
Freedom then is not … a liberty for every one to do what he lists, to live as he pleases, and not to be tied by any law,” he wrote in his famous Second Treatise. “But freedom of men under government, is, to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the legislative power erected in it.
It was only in the early 19th century that some began to reject this collective ideal in favour of a more individualistic conception of liberty.

A new liberty

In the wake of the French Revolution, democracy slowly expanded across Europe. But this was not universally welcomed. The extension of the right to vote, many feared, would give political power to the poor and uneducated, who would no doubt use it to make dumb decisions or to redistribute wealth. 

Why Lockdowns Don't Necessarily Infringe On Freedom
Storming of The Bastile, Jean-Pierre Houël, 1789. (Wikimedia Commons)
Hence, liberal elites embarked on a campaign against democracy – and they did so in the name of freedom. Democracy, liberal thinkers ranging from Benjamin Constant to Herbert Spencer argued, was not the mainstay of liberty but a potential threat to freedom properly understood – the private enjoyment of one’s life and goods.

Throughout the 19th century, this liberal, individualistic conception of freedom continued to be contested by radical democrats and socialists alike. Suffragettes such as Emmeline Pankhurst profoundly disagreed with Spencer’s view that the best way to protect liberty was to limit the sphere of government as much as possible. At the same time, socialist politicians such as Jean Jaurès claimed that they, and not the liberals, were the party of freedom, since socialism’s goal was “to organise the sovereignty of all in both the economic and political spheres”.

The ‘free’ West

Only after 1945 did the liberal concept of freedom prevail over the older, collective conception of freedom. In the context of cold war rivalry between the “free West” and the Soviet Union, distrust of state power grew - even democratic state power. In 1958, liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin, in a one-sided reading of the history of European political thought, stated that “Western” freedom was a purely “negative” concept. Every law, Berlin stated bluntly, had to be seen as an encroachment on freedom.

The cold war is of course since long over. Now that we are entering the third decade of the 21st century, we might want to dust off the older, collective concept of freedom. If the coronavirus crisis has made one thing clear, it is that collective threats such as a pandemic demand decisive, effective action from government.
This does not mean giving up our freedom in exchange for the protection of a nanny state. As Sidney and Locke remind us, as long as even the strictest lockdown can count on broad democratic support, and the rules remain subject to scrutiny by our representatives and the press, they do not infringe on our freedom.

About Today's Contributor:

Annelien de Dijn, Professor of History, Utrecht University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

13 November 2020

A New Data-Driven Model Shows That Wearing Masks Saves Lives – And The Earlier You Start, The Better [Video Included]

A New Data-Driven Model Shows That Wearing Masks Saves Lives – And The Earlier You Start, The Better [Video Included]
A New Data-Driven Model Shows That Wearing Masks Saves Lives – And The Earlier You Start, The Better (screengrab)
Dr. Biplav Srivastava, professor of computer science at the University of South Carolina, and his team have developed a data-driven tool that helps demonstrate the effect of wearing masks on COVID-19 cases and deaths. His model utilizes a variety of data sources to create alternate scenarios that can tell us “What could have happened?” if a county in the U.S. had a higher or lower rate of mask adherence. In this interview, he explains how the model works, its limitations and what conclusions we can draw from it.

What does this computer model do?

This is a nationwide tool which can show the effect that wearing masks can have. If it’s a county where people wear masks regularly, it will show you how many COVID-19 cases and deaths they avoided. If you pick a county where people don’t wear masks, it will show you how many cases and deaths could have been prevented there.

How does it do it?

We need a lot of data to do this. The New York Times surveyed almost every county in the U.S. over the summer and assigned a mask-wearing score of 0-5 to each of them, so this is at the heart of the model. We also use New York Times and Johns Hopkins data for real-time case numbers; census data for demographics such as population size, median age and more; and geographic data to measure the distance between counties.

It is based on a mathematical technique called robust synthetic control, which is often used in drug research, where there is a control group and there is a treatment group.

For example, let’s look at Wyandotte County, Kansas. It has a relatively high mask-wearing score of about 3.4. Because the model is designed to tell us the “what if?” scenario, it will look at what would have happened if the mask-wearing score was reduced to 3.0, which is our cutoff for “low mask-wearing,” but the user can experiment with other values too just to see what happens. We arrived at 3.0 based on analysis of nationwide mask-wearing habits. The actual values ranged between 1.4 and 3.85, with a national average of 2.98.

We can set a date at which the mask-wearing score changes to 3.0. If we set it to run from June 1 to Oct 1, it tells us that Wyandotte County would have had 101.5% more cases and 150 more deaths in that period. It tells the user how many deaths have occurred or been prevented based on a mortality rate parameter that the user can set. In this example, it was set at 2%.

How does the model create the “what if?” scenario if it didn’t actually happen? It does this by looking at other counties that are close by and have similar demographics and case count but a lower mask-wearing threshold. It tries to come up with a weighted average to form a synthetic control group which is similar to our county of interest (treatment group). The model then looks at how much the two groups have diverged in terms of the case counts. The difference in case counts between the two groups is converted to a difference in deaths using the mortality rate parameter.

A New Data-Driven Model Shows That Wearing Masks Saves Lives – And The Earlier You Start, The Better [Video Included]
Computer scientist Biplav Srivastava provides a demo of the simulation to show that earlier policies to recommend mask-wearing make a bigger difference on the spread of the coronavirus.(screengrab)

What does this tell us about the impact of mask-wearing policies?

Keeping up mask-wearing or implementing a mask policy at any time can be helpful. But its impact is highest when you do it early. When you run this model multiple times using different dates, you see that the impact reduces as you delay implementing a mask-wearing policy. So if a county implemented a mask policy on June 1, it would have prevented many cases. If it acted on July 1, it would have a smaller impact. If it acted in August, it would still have prevented cases, but a very small number.

What are the limitations of this model?

This tool works better for some counties than others. In general, it works best with counties that are closer to the average, because it will have closer matches to compare against. There is also a limitation in the sense that The New York Times mask adherence survey was done in the summer, and things keep changing. So if other researchers use this tool, they will have to account for the changes.

But what you see is that when you implement a mask policy or the population regularly wears masks, it makes a positive impact. And the earlier you do it, the more effective it is.

I would like to acknowledge the work of my team, Sparsh Johri, Kartikaya Srivastava, Chinmayi Appajigowda and Lokesh Johri, in developing this program.

The Video:

About Today's Contributor:

Biplav Srivastava, Professor of Computer Science, University of South Carolina

The computer model simulates how many COVID-19 cases could have been prevented in a particular county in the U.S. (Leontura/DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images)

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

The Knight Bros. Slay COVID-19 [Video Included]

The Knight Bros. Slay COVID-19
Wee Beasties - Written and Illustrated by Dr. David Knight, Music by Bradford Knight (The Knight Bros.) - a handwashing book and song for kids
Amid ongoing pressure from COVID-19 to keep kids and communities healthy, The Knight Bros. have created an illustrated children's book and song called Wee Beasties, that uses humor, art and rhyming verse to encourage good handwashing habits for early learners age 2 – 8, releasing November 16, 2020.
Wee Beasties is the first in a series of new illustrated books and songs by two brothers. Author and illustrator, Dr. David Knight, is a professor from Colorado State University who was en route to help lead an international program in Wuhan, China when the coronavirus effectively changed the world and put everyone on lockdown. His brother, Bradford Knight, is a singer-songwriter-musician living in southern California. 

  • In an unexpected twist of fate, the brothers found themselves quarantined together for five-months, giving rise to a steady stream of creativity and the launch of The Knight Bros. Their works now include more than two dozen titles.
The Knight Bros. Slay COVID-19
The Knight Bros. (image via
Commenting on Wee Beasties, Colleen Fracisco, a veteran nurse of 25 years' experience, said, "This book and song are great tools for parents and teachers to make handwashing meaningful for children. The book takes a hilarious look at germs and how they need to be washed away. It will help build quality hand hygiene skills that will last!
Preschool teacher, Kelly Gross, who has two decades of teaching experience at Los Angeles Unified School District, said, "Wee Beasties is an adorable picture book bound to inspire my preschoolers to wash their hands. The author's peppy and engaging rhyming text, combined with the bright and vibrant illustrations, and a creative song, lead to a fun reading and singing experience."

The Video:

Five more titles from The Knight Bros. collection will be released November 23 and December 12, building on safe, clean themes that both entertain and educate
  • BONNIE McBOWER is about a girl who has an insatiable showering experience 
  • BRUSHING brings attention to oral hygiene 
  • SMELLY FEET focuses on cleaning relentlessly stinky feet
  • BALLOON and ROLLER COASTER promote safety
Imparting important life lessons in a humorous way is the common thread woven through The Knight Bros. stories. While the primary audience is younger, the big kid in many of us will also enjoy it. 

SOURCE: The Knight Bros.

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10 November 2020

90% Efficacy for Pfizer's COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine is Striking. But We Need to Wait for The Full Data

90% Efficacy for Pfizer's COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine is Striking. But We Need to Wait for The Full Data
 90% Efficacy for Pfizer's COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine is Striking. But We Need to Wait for The Full Data (University of Maryland School of Medicine/AP/AAP)
German biotech company BioNTech and US pharmaceutical Pfizer announced on Monday promising early results from their phase 3 clinical trial for a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

These early results are what is known as an “interim analysis”. It’s an early look at the data before a study is complete, to understand if there is any indication of whether the vaccine might work.

Currently, this trial has enrolled 43,538 volunteers, giving half the volunteers two doses of the vaccine and the other half two doses of a placebo. These volunteers then continued their normal lives, but they were monitored for any symptoms that could be COVID-19, with testing to confirm.

Analysis of 94 volunteers with confirmed COVID-19 suggests the vaccine has an efficacy of over 90%.

This means that if you took ten people who were going to get sick from COVID-19 and vaccinated them, only one out of ten would now get sick.

Can we get excited yet?

There is more data to come. This is a press release and the data have not undergone “peer-review” through scientific publication, although it has been assessed by an independent monitoring board. The study also won’t be complete until 164 volunteers have confirmed COVID-19, and the estimate of efficacy may therefore change. Finally, the volunteers must be monitored for a defined period of time after vaccination for any side effects and this must be completed.

Important questions also remain. It’s unclear how long protection will last, as this study has only been underway for three months. It’s unclear if this vaccine protects against severe disease or if this vaccine will work equally well in everyone. For example, a phase 1 clinical trial with this vaccine showed that immune responses were lower in older people.

90% Efficacy for Pfizer's COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine is Striking. But We Need to Wait for The Full Data
90% efficacy would be far higher than the FDA’s threshold of 50%, and greater than that of many flu vaccines, which tend to provide around 60%. (Virginia Mayo/AP/AAP)
But 90% efficacy is striking. To give some context, the US Food and Drug Administration indicated they would licence a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine with 50% efficacy. The flu vaccine often provides around 60% efficacy and the mumps vaccine, which is currently the fastest vaccine ever made at four years, provides around 88% efficacy.

The BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine could outstrip that, after just nine months of development. This level of efficacy means virus transmission could be very effectively controlled.

That has the research community excited. It bodes well for other vaccines currently being tested for SARS-CoV-2 and we could end up with multiple successful vaccines. This would be great because some might work better in certain populations, like older people.

Multiple vaccines could also be manufactured using a broad range of established infrastructure, which would accelerate vaccine distribution.

Producing mRNA on a commercial scale

The BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine is what’s called an mRNA vaccine.

As this article by Associate Professor Archa Fox, an expert on molecular cell biology from the University of Western Australia, explains:

mRNA vaccines are coated molecules of mRNA, similar to DNA, that carry the instructions for making a viral protein.

After injection into muscle, the mRNA is taken up by cells. Ribosomes, the cell’s protein factories, read the mRNA instructions and make the viral protein. These new proteins are exported from cells and the rest of the immunisation process is identical to other vaccines: our immune system mounts a response by recognising the proteins as foreign and developing antibodies against them.

A problem for Australia is that it can’t make mRNA vaccines onshore yet.

The Australian government has an agreement for ten million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. Since this vaccine requires two doses, this agreement is sufficient for five million Australians. It’s unclear how long it will take until any vaccine is widely available, but we may hear more about this in the coming weeks and months.

The vaccine requires storage at a temperature below -60℃. This will certainly be a challenge for shipping to Australia and local distribution, although not impossible. One solution to this problem is to form vaccination centres to roll out the vaccine once it becomes available. In a briefing by Pfizer, the company said it will use ultra-low temperature shipment strategies and the vaccine can then be distributed on “dry-ice”.

Currently, Australia has no capacity to produce mRNA on a commercial scale given the technology’s novelty. But we (the authors) and others have been working to coordinate and build the manufacturing capacity in Australia for future mRNA vaccine and therapeutics. With financial support aimed at private-public mRNA manufacturing collaboration, Australia can equip itself with this vital technological asset.

About Today's Contributors:

Harry Al-Wassiti, Bioengineer and Research Fellow, Monash University; Colin Pouton, Professor of Pharmaceutical Biology, Monash University, and Kylie Quinn, Vice-Chancellor's Research Fellow, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

6 November 2020

UNICEF and WHO Call for Emergency Action to Avert Major Measles and Polio Epidemics

UNICEF and WHO Call for Emergency Action to Avert Major Measles and Polio Epidemics
A baby is being weighted and vaccinated in the health center of Gonzagueville, a suburb of Abidjan, in the South of Côte d'Ivoire. (CNW Group/Canadian Unicef Committee)
UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) have issued an urgent call to action to avert major measles and polio epidemics as COVID-19 continues to disrupt immunization services worldwide, leaving millions of vulnerable children at heightened risk of preventable childhood diseases.
  • The two organizations estimate that US$655 million (US$400 million for polio and US$255 million for measles) are needed to address dangerous immunity gaps in non-Gavi eligible countries and target age groups.
"COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on health services and in particular immunization services, worldwide," commented Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "But unlike with COVID, we have the tools and knowledge to stop diseases such as polio and measles. What we need are the resources and commitments to put these tools and knowledge into action. If we do that, children's lives will be saved."
"We cannot allow the fight against one deadly disease to cause us to lose ground in the fight against other diseases," said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. "Addressing the global COVID-19 pandemic is critical. However, other deadly diseases also threaten the lives of millions of children in some of the poorest areas of the world. That is why today we are urgently calling for global action from country leaders, donors and partners. We need additional financial resources to safely resume vaccination campaigns and prioritize immunization systems that are critical to protect children and avert other epidemics besides COVID-19."
A 3-year-old girl receives a vaccine shot at a community health centre in Beijing, China, on 26 March 2020. Provinces other than Hubei, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, gradually resumed full vaccination services that had been halted due to the outbreak. (© UNICEF/UNI315081/Yuwei)
In recent years, there has been a global resurgence of measles with ongoing outbreaks in all parts of the world. Vaccination coverage gaps have been further exacerbated in 2020 by COVID-19. In 2019, measles climbed to the highest number of new infections in more than two decades. Annual measles mortality data for 2019 to be released next week will show the continued negative toll that sustained outbreaks are having in many countries around the world.

At the same time, poliovirus transmission is expected to increase in Pakistan and Afghanistan and in many under-immunized areas of Africa. Failure to eradicate polio now would lead to global resurgence of the disease, resulting in as many as 200,000 new cases annually, within 10 years.

New tools, including a next-generation novel oral polio vaccine and the forthcoming Measles Outbreak Strategic Response Plan are expected to be deployed over the coming months to help tackle these growing threats in a more effective and sustainable manner, and ultimately save lives. The Plan is a worldwide strategy to quickly and effectively prevent, detect and respond to measles outbreaks.

UNICEF & WHO's Call for Emergency Action to Avert Major Measles and Polio Epidemics - front cover
Generous support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has enabled previous access to funding for outbreak response, preventive campaigns and routine immunization strengthening, including additional support for catch-up vaccination for children who were missed due to COVID-19 disruptions in Gavi-eligible countries. However, significant financing gaps remain in middle-income countries which are not Gavi-eligible. This call for emergency action will go to support those middle-income countries that are not eligible for support from Gavi.

25 October 2020

A Guide to Going to the Gym During Covid-19

A Guide to Going to the Gym During Covid-19 (Photo by William Choquette from Pexels)
We get it, exercising at home can be tough. It’s hard to find motivation at home and when you do, you often have to modify your practice because of space or noise restrictions. Thankfully, after months of gyms being closed, many are finally starting to re-open with limited capacity. While measures are likely in place at your gym to keep people safe, you should also think carefully about what you can do personally to eliminate as much risk as possible. Grab a pair of men’s or women’s supportive sneakers and follow the checklist below to ensure maximum safety for you and those around you at the gym.

Consider Your Risk Level:

According to the CDC, those most at risk of developing severe symptoms of Covid-19 are people who are 65 years old and older and anyone with health conditions. If you fall into either of these groups, it is recommended that you avoid going to gyms while Covid-19 is still at large. While gyms should take precautions like cleaning equipment frequently and taking everyone’s temperature upon arrival, there is still a chance that you could contract the virus.

Avoid Big Group Classes:

Instead of jumping back into crowded classes at the gym, opt for solo practices or classes of small groups with less movement. For example, you should avoid a jam-packed hot yoga class in favor of a small, eight person or less Yin yoga class. Swap an organized cycling class for an hour of solo cycling indoors or biking outdoors.

A Guide to Going to the Gym During Covid-19
A Guide to Going to the Gym During Covid-19 (Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels)

Abide by the Six Foot Rule:

If your gym is following CDC guidelines, they should have separated equipment and blocked off machines so that people exercising are always at least six feet away from each other. Make sure you follow this six foot guideline anytime you are in a public place, especially while at the gym.

Wear a Mask When Possible:

Many gyms aren’t requiring a mask while you are exercising, as it makes it more difficult to breathe. However, at least when you are coming and going at the gym or doing a low intensity exercise, you should wear a mask. 

A Guide to Going to the Gym During Covid-19
A Guide to Going to the Gym During Covid-19 (Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels)

Consider Exercising Outdoors:

There is an alternative to working out in your home that doesn’t involve going to the gym. Slip on a pair of women’s or men’s supportive sneakers and head outdoors for your exercise; whether to run, bike, or do a circuit routine. Even going for a vigorous walk or swim can break up the monotony of working indoors all day long and keep you feeling active and healthy. The bonus is that you can also soak up the sun and get a dose of Vitamin D, which helps ward off viruses by keeping your immune system strong.

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18 October 2020

Shh! At-Home Workout Tips To Not Disturb the Neighbors

Shh! At-Home Workout Tips To Not Disturb the Neighbors
Shh! At-Home Workout Tips To Not Disturb the Neighbors (Photo by Elly Fairytale from Pexels)
With paper thin walls, apartment living can be a real bore sometimes. No playing piano at midnight, singing in the shower, or Hiit class will go unheard by the occupants below you. As we’ve been spending so much time at home this year because of the pandemic, keeping quiet all the time has been especially difficult.
Still, there are little workarounds that we all must do to avoid becoming the most hated tenant in the building. Exercising in particular presents a challenge, but there are plenty of modifications that will allow you to move around quietly. Grab your mens or womens supportive sneakers and try these tips for a whisper-soft workout at home.

Try Bodyweight Exercises, Rather than Lifting Weights

Lifting weights, especially with a weight bench, can be very noisy. All that clanking when you put the weights down might start to annoy your neighbors, so skip the weights and opt for bodyweight exercises instead. An online mat class, like Pilates or yoga, uses only your own body to develop long, lean muscles. If you are going to use weights, try some free weights that are coated in rubber to muffle the sound of the metal.

Skip the Jumping Exercises

If you are going to do a Hiit or other cardio class, modify the exercises by taking out the ones where you are jumping. Avoid burpees, doing quiet burpees that step through the positions instead. These will still be effective without making a ton of noise.

Use a Chair or a Wall

You don’t need anything to get a killer workout at home, but having a sturdy chair to do exercises with can be a help. You can get a full workout done, targeting your arms, legs, and core just by using a chair. According to, tricep dips using a chair are the most effective exercise to target the muscles on the backs of your upper arms. You can also do wall sits and pushups agains the wall without making any noise.

Skip the Machinery and Head Outdoors

A treadmill or stationary bike can be great, but they can also be loud. Plus, they take up a lot of space and are costly. Instead, why not head outside for your workouts? All you need is a pair of womens or mens supportive sneakers and you’re ready to run. You’ll get the benefit of fresh air while making sure not to disturb the neighbors. Exercising outside can be done much more safely than in an enclosed space like a gym.

Shh! At-Home Workout Tips To Not Disturb the Neighbors
Shh! At-Home Workout Tips To Not Disturb the Neighbors (Photo by from Pexels)

12 October 2020

4 Tips To Follow When Driving A Truck This Winter

4 Tips To Follow When Driving A Truck This Winter
4 Tips To Follow When Driving A Truck This Winter (Photo by Seb Creativo on Unsplash)
Winter is approaching and driving a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) during this time of year can be extremely dangerous, especially when the temperatures plummet and the roads can be icy. No matter how long you have been driving a HGV, it’s important for you to brush up on your driving knowledge to ensure you are prepared for a long journey that will get you to your destination as safely as possible. This post will look at four tips to follow when driving a truck this winter. 

Make sure you are well-rested

The winter months can affect everyone and leave you feeling more tired and sluggish than usual. As a truck driver, it’s essential that you get plenty of rest to avoid a potential accident on the road. The daily limit for driving a truck is 9 hours which includes a 45-minute break every 4.5 hours. Try to sleep as long as you possibly can to avoid exhaustion and remember to read up on tacho rules as there are some that all operators and drivers need to be aware of.

Drive slowly and carefully

Winter conditions can include heavy rainfall, wind, fog, ice, and snow so you must drive extra carefully. There will be times when you will need to drive slowly and take extra precaution on the roads. By slowing down, this will give you more time to react should you need to. Even the most experienced drivers still need to be careful on the roads in winter because bad weather can mean poor visibility or slippery roads. Remember to keep a safe distance from other vehicles around you for your safety as well as the safety of others on the road. If you are taking medication make sure you read the possible side effects that could also affect your driving ability.

Pack a winter emergency kit

Breakdowns and delays increase during winter, so it’s best to be prepared by packing a winter emergency kit. If you find yourself stranded, some items you may need to assist you during this time include a high-vis jacket to ensure you are visible to other drivers, a flashlight, jump cables, de-icer and scraper, and a shovel with sand and salt to grit the road. Other important items to pack are extra clothes, a blanket, and some food and water in case you are stranded for a long period.

Make sure your vehicle is prepared

Driving in the winter can be unpredictable so try to prepare your truck as best as you can. It’s advised that your tank should be half full at minimum before setting off on any journey. Ensure that your windows and mirrors are clean, as well as your lights and that they are working and visible. Before you set off make sure the heater works, check your defroster, top up the washer fluid, and check that your tyre pressure meets the legal requirement. 
It’s important that you plan your journey and to make sure that you and your vehicle are as best prepared for the trip as you can be.
4 Tips To Follow When Driving A Truck This Winter
4 Tips To Follow When Driving A Truck This Winter (Photo by Cris Tagupa on Unsplash)

30 September 2020

140 Singers Bring Awareness for World Mental Health Day on October 10th in 'Breathe!' [Video Included]

140 Singers Bring Awareness for World Mental Health Day on October 10th in 'Breathe!'
'Breathe!' is an international, community project, joining 140 singers from Los Angeles and Montreal in a choir-driven song and video. (image via
In honor of World Mental Health Day on October 10th, two California-based artists, Celleste and Eric, have created a movement to raise awareness for this essential cause. 'Breathe!' is an international community project, joining 140 singers from Los Angeles and Montreal in a choir-driven song and video. 

  • The two seasoned artists are joined by Grammy and Juno award winners and nominees, artists, musicians, couples, families, comedians, singers from such productions as “The Voice” and “Cirque du Soleil”, and actors from popular TV shows like "Full House" and "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina".
"The anthem's lyrics highlight the importance of breathing as a tool to help regulate our feelings of isolation, stress, anxiety, and fear," said Eric, producer and co-writer of 'Breathe!'. "We hope this project can bring some comfort and relief to all those who are suffering from mental health-related challenges."
According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 47 million adults experience mental illness each year. The isolation, fear, and economic hardships of the pandemic have further exacerbated these numbers, and created a mental health crisis in the U.S. that researchers warn could make the already-rising suicide rate much worse.
"When sharing our idea for 'Breathe!' with fellow artists, we were completely overwhelmed and inspired by their eagerness to participate in our mission. We believe the project can have the same impact around the globe, raising awareness for mental health, and highlighting all the incredible foundations doing so much for their local communities," said Celleste, lead singer and co-writer of 'Breathe!'.

Breathe! - The Video:

Reviews and Feedback From Breathe!:

This song came up on my newsfeed just at the right time. Life can be so stressful as it is. You add a pandemic to the mix and all the stress in everyday life just seems to become tenfold. I think your song is a timely reminder that as bad as the world is right now we can all just stop and breathe. Your song is a lifesaver Celleste. - Dominique Domingo, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
I just wanted to say thank you so much for this beautiful song! I struggle with Anxiety and ever since I heard this song it has helped me to cope so much thank you Celleste!!! - Haley Abernathy, Houston, Texas
As a lifelong sufferer of Bi-Polar, this song is amazing and so pertinent to sufferers of all mental illnesses. Just breathing helps in that pause that is needed to help calm the mind. - Troy Carter, Auburn, New South Wales
140 Singers Bring Awareness for World Mental Health Day on October 10th in 'Breathe!'
140 Singers Bring Awareness for World Mental Health Day on October 10th in 'Breathe!' (screengrab)

Breathe! - The Lyrics:

Stuck in the corner and the walls are closing in Can’t see the end so tell me where do I begin? Better look up to the sky and just breathe
Head under water, I’ve been drowning in my tears Feels like the finish line’s a million miles from here So I stop and close my eyes and I breathe, I breathe
I tell myself to breathe, deep inside, take my time, it’s alright I tell myself to breathe, count to five, and come alive, cause I’m alive I tell myself to breathe Can I part with tomorrow, leave my yesterday behind? Live in the here and now with nothing on my mind? Never stop to question why, and just breathe Just breathe! I tell myself to breathe, deep inside, take my time, it’s alright I tell myself to breathe, count to five, and come alive, cause I’m alive Over and over the weight on my shoulders gets heavier every day I need to stop this train, so I can breathe again… Let go and breathe again, just stop and breathe again God help me - breathe again, show me how to breathe again Slow down and breathe again Just stop and breathe

140 Singers Bring Awareness for World Mental Health Day on October 10th in 'Breathe!'
Celleste and Eric

About Celleste and Eric:

  • Celleste is a singer and songwriter, based in Los Angeles, California. You can learn more about her at
  • Eric is a singer, songwriter and music producer based in Los Angeles, California. You can learn more about him at
SOURCE: Celleste and Eric

29 September 2020

How To Be More Mindful About the Medication You Take

How To Be More Mindful About the Medication You Take
A transparent coffee cup with colourful pills on gray background. (Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash)
When it comes to illnesses, it’s common for us to rely on our doctor for most things. We’ll book an appointment, we’ll speak to a medical professional and we’ll get a diagnosis. From there, we’ll usually be given a mixture of different drugs and medication to help improve our situation. That’s probably the most common approach when it comes to solving any issues with our body.

However, a lot of people feel like this approach can make you overly reliant on your doctor. While most people only visit their doctor for serious issues, some would visit their physician for something as basic as a headache or aches in their body. While it’s never a bad idea to be cautious, there is a point where you need to step back and ask yourself if you really need your doctor for so many things.

Not only can it save you time and effort, but it might be more effective to have some kind of remedy at home ready for when you have a headache or if you experience aches. As the saying goes, prevention is the best type of treatment. If you focus on improving your health in a holistic fashion, you’ll typically have a much healthier body that can actively avoid developing illnesses and other troubling conditions.

So how do you take a more mindful approach to the medication you take?

Understanding the side effects of medication

Did you know that most medication comes with side effects? Some medication might cause minor drowsiness, headaches or even vomiting. However, on the more serious side of things, some medication can actually make you see hallucinations or even cause hearing loss. Prescription drugs are incredibly powerful because they’re designed to be effective at dealing with the problem they’re made for. However, it also means they can affect other parts of your body with unintentional consequences.

These side effects can range from being incredibly dangerous to relatively minor. Whatever the case is, it’s important that you understand the different levels of side effects and the ones associated with any medication you’re taking. In fact, some people might find that they feel depressed or even anxious after taking certain types of medication. Others might feel that their health was better before taking some medication. In some cases, taking medication might be the trigger that causes you to feel more tired and weak due to the way it works on your body.

Some situations will be unavoidable, especially if you’re dealing with a pressing condition that requires you to take powerful drugs. However, if it can be avoided, it’s never a bad idea to look for alternative treatments. You may want to first let your doctor know about the side effects and how it’s affecting your body. They may have alternatives for you that might be slightly less effective at dealing with your condition, but it’ll be better in the long run since it doesn’t take a huge toll on your body.

Understanding that there are usually always alternatives available

It’s a good idea to be more mindful about the alternatives available to you. With so much research being put into alternate forms of medicine, it’s a good idea to do your own research and look for testimonials from others that have suffered similar conditions to you.

For example, CBD is one of the more popular forms of alternative medicine that has grown significantly over the past few years. Most people associate CBD with marijuana or cannabis because it’s derived from the plant. When these two terms are mentioned, people might link CBD with weed and its psychoactive properties. However, this isn’t the case. CBD is a compound that has seen a lot of positive research in recent years. It has been shown to reduce pain in some patients and it can even help with anxiety and depression. In some cases, studies have shown that it can reduce the effect of seizures and even soothe certain cancer symptoms.

A CBD dosage calculator is a great tool to use if you decide to start using CBD. It can be taken in a number of different ways, so it’s important to know how much you should be using for your particular symptoms or use case. Of course, before you use any kind of alternative medicine, it’s vital that you speak to your doctor and have them perform a health check to confirm that it’s suitable for your needs. If you try to use too many different alternative remedies, you might find that it does more harm to your body than good. You also don’t want to waste money on snake oil that others are pushing into your hands. It’s a good idea to get a professional opinion first.

How To Be More Mindful About the Medication You Take
How To Be More Mindful About the Medication You Take (Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash)

Natural remedies are plentiful and can give you more control

Natural remedies can give you more control over your body and what you put into it. Many people listen to doctors without a second thought. Considering they’re healthcare specialists, this is usually fine because they’re looking out for your wellbeing. However, you may find that you want a bit more control over what you put in your body.

In a case like this, natural remedies can be an effective alternative. For instance, taking supplements and switching your diet around can be a great way to avoid or cope with certain conditions in the body. However, you should still be taking professional advice whenever possible so that you don’t make your situation worse.

However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid regular medicine

Despite the direction of this post, you should never actively avoid regular medicine if you’re facing some kind of serious illness or issue with your health. You have to make sure that you’re communicating with your doctor to ensure your health doesn’t suffer negative consequences. If they feel that an alternative remedy can be a good option to help you avoid the side effects of certain drugs, then they’ll let you know and help you transition to a different treatment. However, if they believe the best course of action is a standard form of medication, then it’s usually best to listen to them.

19 September 2020

Signs You Need Healthier Personal Boundaries

Signs You Need Healthier Personal Boundaries
Signs You Need Healthier Personal Boundaries (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)
You have boundaries, but they don’t seem to be working. You still feel like people are taking unfair advantage of you. Your self-esteem is taking constant hits, and the criticism is unending. What gives?
Chances are you need to take a hard look at your boundaries. Perhaps the ones that used to work, don’t anymore because you aren’t the same person. Or it’s time for a tune-up so that you can not only strengthen the boundaries you have but make them healthier at the same time.

What are (some of) the warning signs that your boundaries need work?

  • When someone bullies you, and you stay silent.
  • You agree to things you don’t agree with (such as political opinions) to avoid ‘rocking the boat.
  • You suffer from guilt anytime you do something for yourself
  • You feel invisible.
  • You constantly say ‘yes’ even when you want to say ‘no’ when people ask you to do things.
  • You’re the one who does all the giving in your relationships.
  • You give your time to people who don’t deserve it. 
  • When someone is in your personal space, you don’t say anything, despite how uncomfortable you feel. 
  • You don’t speak up when the joke isn’t funny - and it’s at your expense. 
  • People bully you, but you do nothing about it. 
  • You’re always playing the victim. 

  • People take you for granted. 
  • You worry all the time about what people think of you. 
  • When someone tells you to ‘do something for yourself’ you have no idea what to do. 
  • You over-share when talking to others about yourself. 
  • You take on other people’s guilt as though that will absolve them somehow. 
  • You’re in a career that was chosen for you, rather than in one that you want to do (such as working in a family business you had no desire to be part of)
  • You don’t speak up when someone touches you physically even though you don’t want to be touched. 
  • You wind up in relationships with controlling individuals. 
  • You see yourself as the ‘sacrifice.’ 
  • You feel like people won’t like you if you don’t do things for them. 
  • You use actions as currency with people by doing things in hopes that they will someday do something for you in return (that day never comes, does it?
  • You tend to manipulate people to get your needs met 
  • Reading this list is making you uncomfortable because you’ve already recognized more than one thing on it that sounds like you.
It is a daunting list.

The good news is, there is room for you to change. Remember, boundaries are always a good idea. Making sure that the boundaries are healthy is crucial to your development into the individual you’ve always been meant to become. 

Signs You Need Healthier Personal Boundaries
Signs You Need Healthier Personal Boundaries (Photo by Naveen Annam from Pexels)
  • By checking your boundaries periodically, you will likely see places that need work. But you’ll also see where you can do things to keep them strong and healthy enough to serve you going forward. 
It might seem like a lot of effort on your part, but in the end, don’t you think you’re worth it? With that in mind, it’s time to get down to work. You’ve got this!

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