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Let’s state the obvious: The pandemic has been stressful, tiring and trying — and that’s putting it mildly.

So it’s no surprise that you’ve probably heard all sorts of advice about how important it is to practice self-care for your physical and emotional well-being.

But what is self-care exactly and — cue the skeptics — does it actually make a difference?

Morgan Turner, a licensed independent clinical social worker who sees patients at the UW Neighborhood Ballard Clinic, explains what self-care does and doesn’t mean, why it’s important and how to incorporate it into your everyday life.

What is self-care?

“Self-care is the…

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

Good news is finally here: The first vaccines for COVID-19 have been approved for emergency use in the United States.

While initial doses are being prioritized for front-line healthcare workers and those living in long-term care facilities — meaning most of us will have to wait several months for our turn — it’s still a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

Some more good news? These COVID-19 vaccines also represent a breakthrough in how we’ll fight future diseases.

Dr. Deborah Fuller, a vaccinologist and microbiology professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, explains what makes these…

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At the start of the pandemic, you and your family hunkered down and made do with video calls and physically distanced “get-togethers” with friends. Now, three surges later, your entire household is desperate for some in-person interaction.

But how safe is it to merge your social bubble with another family’s?

“A pandemic pod or social bubble is essentially a circle of trust,” explains Dr. Paul Pottinger, director of the Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Clinic at UW Medical Center — Montlake. “So you have to ask yourself, ‘Does everyone play by the same rules? …

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Photo by Jay Rembert on Unsplash

In the United States, thousands of children are killed or injured by a firearm every year.

While those younger than 18 can’t legally purchase a firearm, the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates about a third of U.S. households with children have a firearm in the home.

And in this year’s pandemic-fueled panic buying, that number is most certainly going up. In the first six months of 2020, gun purchase background checks were 69% higher compared to background checks in the first half of 2019.

So what can you do to protect your kids?

Dr. Frederick Rivara, a professor of pediatrics…

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By now, you can probably recite the standard COVID-19 safety measures in your sleep: Wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance.

In recent months, however, you might have read headlines touting a new safety measure: Take vitamin D.

Should you dash to the drug store and raid the supplements aisle? Well, not exactly.

“Right now there are a lot of studies going on about various vitamins and supplements, but there is no conclusive data yet to support the use for COVID-19,” says Dr. Jan Agosti, a UW Medicine infectious diseases specialist.

To help you understand what all…

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One minute, you’re enjoying a cozy winter evening at home. The next, you’re squinting into the darkness as your power goes out.

Yep, winter is coming all right.

“Trees falling on electrical lines leads to power outages, and snow and ice lead to dangerous travel conditions,” says Dr. Marie Vrablik, an emergency physician at Harborview Medical Center.

What can you do to ensure your household is ready for these winter scenarios? Vrablik says it all comes down to preparation, education and a little togetherness.

Keep up with home maintenance

Before the winter storm blows in, it’s a good idea to do an annual maintenance check…

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Photo by Ömürden Cengiz on Unsplash

Being pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic can sometimes feel surreal.

Not only are you preparing for the arrival of your little one, but you’re also rethinking which activities — from the major to the mundane — are safe.

Is it OK to meet up with friends, eat out at a restaurant or go to the dentist?

Something else you might be thinking about right now? Whether you should give birth in the hospital or at home.

Many expectant parents have changed their birth plans as a result of the pandemic, but there’s a whole lot you need to know before…

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When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, myths and misinformation about the new coronavirus and its resulting disease spread like, well, a virus.

Now, more than six months in, medical experts are still trying to bolster the facts and banish the fiction.

To help do just that, UW Medicine infectious disease specialist Dr. Jan Agosti debunks some lingering myths about COVID-19.

MYTH: Children can’t get COVID-19

“In reality, children do definitely get and spread COVID-19,” Agosti says.

For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that children accounted for 10.3% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States as of mid-September.

But while children do get…

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If you’re one of the 41.8 million Americans who care for an older family member or friend over the age of 50, you know the role has its ups and downs.

“It is really hard to be a family caregiver,” says Dr. Katherine Bennett, who sees patients at the Senior Care Clinic at Harborview Medical Center. “It can be very satisfying, but it can also be emotionally stressful and physically difficult.”

To help you and the millions of others taking care of a parent, grandparent or loved one, Bennett shares her top tips for navigating this complex relationship.

Discuss needs and wishes early

While there…

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It’s that time of the year. One minute you’re soaking up the autumnal goodness of the season — fall leaves! festive lattes! fuzzy socks! — and the next you’re curled up on your couch with a fever, body aches and a cough that just won’t quit.

Could it be COVID-19? Could it be the seasonal flu? Or could you actually have both illnesses at the same time?

The answers to all of the above are yes, yes and more yes.

“Flu season is, of course, variable from year to year,” says Dr. Amanda Casto, an infectious diseases fellow at UW…

Angela Cabotaje

Seattle-based editor and writer covering health and wellness. Lover of chocolate, laughing, margaritas and bad ’90s music.

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