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Tuesday
Apr162019

New study reveals the possible dangers of long commutes during pregnancy

RuslanDashinsky/iStock(NEW YORK) -- From what to eat to how to exercise to what position in which to sleep, there's a lot for pregnant women to think about. Thanks to a new study, now they can add commutes to that list.

The longer the commute for a pregnant woman, the worse outcomes her child may face, according to a study published last month by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Lehigh University.

Women who travel at least 100 miles roundtrip between their homes and workplaces were found to be at "much greater risks" of having low birth weight babies and fetuses with intrauterine growth restriction.

Increasing the distance a woman commutes during pregnancy by 10 miles raises the probability of low birth weight by .9% and the probability of intrauterine growth restriction by .6%, the study found.

Long commutes, defined by the Census Bureau as 50 miles or more to work, during pregnancy are also linked to the "under-utilization of prenatal care" and increased maternal stress, according to the study -- so think missed doctors' appointments and delayed treatments.

Among the women studied, 15% with longer commutes skipped their first pre-natal checkup and were more likely to have their first pre-natal visit very late in their pregnancy -- as late as their third trimester.

The study, which looked at pregnant women in New Jersey, also found long commutes increase stress in pregnant women.

High stress in pregnancy is associated with poor fetal outcomes, like the low birth weight and intrauterine growth restriction also found in the study.

Male fetuses are at higher risk than female fetuses when it comes to pregnancy stress, a fact that has been known for quite some time. A mother's maternal stress can also increase their children's risk of mental health issues later in life, possibly more in female kids, recent research has found, because it, in a sense, hard-wires the stress system.

A long commute is a necessity of life for many working moms, but there are things they can do to lessen the burden of it, experts say.

Dr. Joanna Stone, director of maternal fetal medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, recommends women make sure the commuting option they're using, whether train or car or bus or boat, is the least stressful option possible.

Meditation methods can also be helpful for pregnant women to use to de-stress during their commute, according to Stone.

Finally, Stone advises pregnant women, even in difficult circumstances, take the time they need, whether it's asking to work from home, if possible, or making other parts of their lives at home less stressful.

"You need to take some time for yourself," she said.

In terms of lessening the burden for pregnant women, the study's authors wrote that they believe their research has "important implications" for maternity leave.

"Our study has important implications for public policy proposals that consider expanding maternity leave to cover the prenatal period, which is particularly relevant in the context of the United States," the authors wrote. "Even today, compared with other high-income industrialized countries, the United States is ranked last on every measure of family-friendly policies."

The U.S. is the only advanced industrialized nation without a guarantee of paid leave for new parents, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr162019

19-year-old woman meets 22-year-old stranger who donated his liver to her

ABC News(HAMDEN, Conn.) -- An emotional reunion more than three months in the making took place live on Good Morning America when a 19-year-old girl met the complete stranger who gave her his liver.

Madison Ricci, 19, and Jaelin Highsmith, 22, underwent a liver transplant surgery in December that took a total of more than 20 hours.

Ricci’s medical complications after the surgery delayed their meeting until Tuesday, when she was well enough to meet Highsmith in person. Highsmith surprised her live on GMA at her family's home in Hamden, Conn.

"I’m speechless," said Ricci, who just had two words for Highsmith: "Thank you."

"Unreal. That’s the best way to describe it," Highsmith said of their first meeting. "It’s been a long time in the making."

The journey to Ricci and Highsmith’s first meeting began seven years ago when Ricci was diagnosed with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, at age 12.

While on spring break last year as a student at the University of Tampa, Ricci’s health deteriorated. Doctors told her family that the best hope for survival for Ricci, already on the liver transplant list, was to find a living donor who would give her a piece of their liver.

After months of waiting – and bumps in the road like a potential donor who fell through – Ricci learned she had a match.

Highsmith volunteered to be Ricci’s donor after one of his best friends – a family friend of Ricci’s – sent out a text asking for help in finding her a donor.

He had only a five to 10 percent chance of being a match for Ricci, according to her family. Yet after over four months of testing, Highsmith was determined by doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital to be a match.

"The bottom line was the opportunity as there and there’s no way I could pass it up," he said. "I knew from day one if I was able to do this, I would do it."

Highsmith and Ricci began to communicate by text message after the surgery and have stayed in touch via texts and social media before they were able to meet in person.

"Maddie and Jae have so many similarities, it’s just amazing to us," said Ricci's mom, Kristine Ricci. "We are forever grateful for Jaelin and his entire family as they are all now part of ours."

Highsmith has also stood by Ricci's family as they continue to support her recovery, including helping them raise money for her ongoing medical treatment.

"The connection and the love that we share between us all is just amazing," Kristine Ricci said.

For more information on living organ donations visit the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a private, non-profit organization that manages the nation’s organ transplant system.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr162019

Staggering number of measles cases in US just part of 300% global uptick

Manjurul/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The measles outbreak that continues to spread across the U.S. is just one of many that are going on around the world this year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that preliminary global data shows that reported cases of measles are up by 300 percent in the first three months of 2019 as compared to the same timeframe in 2018.

Countries with ongoing outbreaks include Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, and Ukraine among others.

"Many countries are in the midst of sizeable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases," the organization wrote in a news release Monday, adding that many of the outbreaks have caused deaths, "mostly among young children."

The organization noted that a number of countries that have high overall vaccination coverage -- including the United States, as well as Israel, Thailand and Tunisia -- are experiencing spikes in cases as the disease is spreading among clusters of unvaccinated individuals.

That is certainly the case in the U.S., with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noting that the outbreaks in New York and New Jersey are attributed largely to cases among unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities.

All told, there are now 20 states where outbreaks have been confirmed, bringing the case total to 555 cases as of April 11, the CDC reports.

The number of cases just three and a half months into 2019 is far greater than many previous years: there were 372 cases in all of 2018, 120 cases in 2017, and 86 cases in 2016.

The CDC notes that the 555 cases reported so far this year is the second-highest number of cases reported in the U.S. since the disease was eliminated in 2000. The only year where there were more cases was in 2014 when there were 667 reported cases over the entire year.

The fight over vaccinations, which the global and national health communities note are necessary to help spread the potentially deadly disease, is a personal one for some.

That can be seen playing out currently in Brooklyn, N.Y., where five anonymous mothers are pushing back against Mayor Bill de Blasio's emergency order calling for everyone over the age of six months to be vaccinated in certain at-risk communities.

"There’s no question that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving," de Blasio said in a statement when he announced the order earlier in April.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr162019

Bebe Rexha reveals bipolar disorder: 'I’m not ashamed anymore'

ABC/Image Group LA(NEW YORK) -- Singer Bebe Rexha has revealed she has bipolar disorder.

In a series of emotional tweets, she opened up about her diagnosis and said she’s “not ashamed anymore.”

“For the longest time, I didn’t understand why I felt so sick,” she wrote. “Why I felt lows that made me not want to leave my house or be around people and why I felt highs that wouldn’t let me sleep, wouldn’t let me stop working or creating music. Now I know why.”

She continued, “I’m bipolar and I’m not ashamed anymore. That is all. (Crying my eyes out.)”

Rexha went on to write that her next album will be her favorite one ever “because I’m not holding anything back.”

“I don’t want you to feel sorry for me,” she concluded. “I just want you to accept me. That’s all. Love you.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr162019

Debunking sleep myths that may be compromising your health

eclipse_images/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Sleep deprivation is a public health crisis, with potentially serious complications down the road for people not getting enough rest.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of Americans sleep fewer than seven hours nightly. So why do so many people believe they can fully function with only five or six hours of sleep? ABC News is here to debunk what many consider conventional wisdom surrounding sleep.

A survey conducted by sleep experts analyzed 20 of the biggest myths linked to sleep. Studies confirm that sleep deprivation, defined as fewer than seven hours a night, is associated with a risk of developing obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, mental disease and even early death.

Here are some of the top myths debunked:

"Being able to fall asleep 'anytime, anywhere' is a sign of a healthy sleep system." This is false, and, in fact, it's alarming because it suggests signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. If you find yourself falling asleep periodically throughout the day, snoring at night or waking up gasping for air during sleep, then you may be at risk for OSA, which has long-term health consequences including the development of heart failure and high blood pressure.

"It's better to have a warmer bedroom than a cooler bedroom." Get your blankets out and crank up your AC because this statement is false. Studies report that a "hot and stuffy" bedroom is associated with poor sleep. The optimal recommended temperature for ideal sleep in the bedroom is between 65 and 70 degrees F.

"Exercising within four hours of bedtime will disturb your sleep." This is false, according to a survey by sleep-medicine experts who found exercise and sleep appear to be mutually beneficial. A large study comparing morning and evening exercisers found no association with worse sleep in either group.

"Hitting the snooze button when you wake up is better than getting up when the alarm first goes off." We're all guilty of hitting that snooze button one too many times. Sleep disruptions of any sort are not optimal. Fragmenting your sleep, such as by hitting snooze, is associated with adverse outcomes, including decreased mental flexibility and subjective mood, sleep experts have said. It's better to set one alarm at the time you actually need to wake up.

"If you're having difficulties sleeping at night, taking a nap in the afternoon is a good way to get adequate sleep." Most of us look forward to a "siesta" or mid-afternoon nap. Sadly, this is false. According to a study in The Sleep Medicine Journal, frequent and even infrequent napping can be linked to elevated levels of inflammation in the body.

"Alcohol before bed will improve your sleep." Although alcohol might make you feel relaxed, it actually harms sleep quality. When you fall asleep, your brain goes through stages: NREM (non-rapid eye movement), composed of three stages, and finally REM (rapid eye movement). Alcohol has been shown to have an overall negative impact on sleep and delays the onset of REM sleep. Alcohol has also been shown to worsen symptoms of OSA.

"Watching television in bed is a good way to relax before sleep." A survey of U.S. adults found that 50 percent of respondents reported watching television in the 30-minute period leading up to bedtime. Evidence confirms a relation between television watchers and short sleepers. Screen time of any form exposes you to "artificial blue light." Blue wavelengths during natural day light are beneficial and boost attention. But artificial blue light from screens, especially before bedtime, suppresses the body's ability to secrete melatonin, according to a Harvard study. Look for ways to protect your eyes from the effects of blue light by avoiding screens two hours before bed or using blue-light-blocking glasses.

Keep these debunked myths in mind next time you decide to take a nap or watch your favorite Netflix show right before bed, and remember how much better you feel the next day.

"Sleep is important to health," Girardin Jean Louis, a population health expert, told ABC News. "And there needs to be greater effort to inform the public regarding this important public health issue."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr162019

Researchers develop first printed 3D heart in major scientific breakthrough

File photo. (Zinkevych/iStock)(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- For the first time in history, scientists have created a three-dimensional, fully vascularized human heart. The biomedically engineered heart was created using a 3D printer by researchers at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel.

Modeled on a human patient, the 3D heart “[matches] the immunological, cellular, biochemical, and anatomical properties of the patient,” Dr. Tal Dvir, study researcher and professor of molecular cell biology at Tel Aviv University, said in a press release.

He added that the heart is made from human cells, and “patient-specific biological materials.”

“Our results demonstrate the potential of our approach for engineering personalized tissue and organ replacement in the future,” said Dr. Dvir.

Though it is still in the early stages of development, this invention represents a breakthrough for transplant medicine, as it may impact the lives of thousands of patients who await heart transplants for end-stage heart failure each year. A number of these patients will die while on the waiting list.

The engineered heart is about the size of a rabbit’s heart. As it continues to be redesigned to better reflect human anatomy, scientists are intrigued by the potential for 3D heart printing to become a widespread, life-saving technique in medical centers around the world.

This latest invention represents a major turning point for patients with congestive heart failure (CHF), as heart transplantation is the only definitive treatment for patients in the end-stages of the disease. CHF symptoms range from extreme shortness of breath to leg swelling and unintentional weight gain. These patients are at higher risk from sudden death relating to dangerous heart rhythms.

As such, CHF patients are frequently in-and-out of the hospital, require life-saving procedures to prevent dangerous heart rhythm, and suffer from a poor quality of life. Heart transplantation is oftentimes the only way to improve their quality of life and extend survival.

Given the number of patients suffering from CHF each year, and its high healthcare costs, the study’s researchers were determined to “develop new approaches to regenerate the infarcted heart.”

The 3D heart was created from human cells obtained through biopsies. These tissue samples were experimentally reprogrammed to become “pluripotent” or de-identified stem cells. The stem cells were then exposed to chemicals or “bioinks” that helped to retrain them to become either heart or blood vessel cells.

"The biocompatibility of engineered materials [was] crucial to eliminate the risks of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments,” said Dr. Dvir.

Transplant rejection, which occurs when the recipient’s immune system targets transplanted tissue, is a common problem in heart transplant patients. It typically occurs within one year of heart transplantation, and accounts for a number heart transplant-related deaths.

Although the 3D human heart represents a promising step towards transplant engineering, further research is needed. The model needs to be studied in vivo, meaning in live organisms -- through future animal studies -- to understand its true biologic impact on the body, particularly in people with cardiovascular disease.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr162019

Mom has Disney World reunion with girl who received her son's heart

Courtesy Alicia Erchul(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Among the thousands of Disney World visitors last month were two families there for a very special reason.

Alicia Erchul, 43, of Jacksonville, Florida, met Morgan Price, the 4-year-old girl who received the heart of her late son, Gabriel Crystalus.

"I've felt this weight on my chest [since his death], like I can't take a full breath," Erchul told ABC News' Good Morning America. "[Meeting Morgan] felt like for the first time in a long time I could take a breath."
 
Gabriel was four months old when he died in 2014 from traumatic head injuries. He had been under the care of Erchul's then-husband, who was sentenced for his death.

At the time of Gabriel's death, Morgan, also four months old at the time, was hospitalized near her home in Alabama while awaiting a heart transplant. She had been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart condition, at two weeks old.

"When we were waiting for the heart, it seemed like an eternity to us," said Morgan's grandmother, Dorothy Johnson. "Every day you're hoping this is the day. By the same token, there's this bittersweet guilt because somebody had to lose a child."

On Nov. 2, 2014, after weeks of hospitalization, Morgan received Gabriel's heart.

"When she was admitted [to the hospital] she was in advanced congestive heart failure," Johnson said. "You couldn't imagine how bad that was, but you knew somebody had to lose a child for your child just to have a chance at life."

For Erchul, there was no doubt she would donate Gabriel's organs -- another child received his liver -- but the grief was too much to get in touch with Morgan's family.

"I didn't want to impact their joy with our sorrow," she said. "This year, I felt like I'd healed enough, and Aidan [Erchul's 6-year-old son] had started to process what happened enough that it would be OK to reach out to them."

Erchul and Aidan had used Disney World as a place to find joy after Gabriel's death, visiting the theme park on his birthday, his "angel-versary" and Christmas. Gabriel's nickname was Tigger, and some of the last photos taken of him show him dressed as the Pooh character for Halloween.

When Erchul reached out to Morgan's family, she discovered they were planning a family trip to Disney World in March. Erchul and Aidan drove the two hours from their home in Jacksonville to meet Morgan and her family and spend three days together at Disney.

"It was like we met a long-lost friend or family member," Erchul recalled. "Hugging Morgan and being able to be with her and feel her heartbeat, it just felt like a part of me that had gone came back."

Erchul met Morgan and her sister and mother, in addition to Johnson and other family members.

"She was nervous. We were nervous, but it was amazing meeting them," Johnson said. "They're family."

Erchul and Johnson are sharing their families' story, first reported by The Orlando Sentinel, in hopes of raising awareness around organ donations. April is National Donate Life Month, when activities are held across the U.S. to encourage people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.

More than 110,000 people are currently on the transplant waiting list and every 10 minutes another person is added to the list, according to U.S. government statistics. Each day, 20 people die while waiting for a transplant.
 
Morgan and her family gave Erchul and Aidan a pink unicorn that plays a recording of Morgan's heartbeat from her most recent sonogram. Erchul and Aidan gave Morgan a Tigger stuffed animal.

"She offered for me to feel her heart in her chest and she showed me her scar from the heart surgery," Erchul said about Morgan. "It was very touching and amazing that she's alive and doing so well. It's just a miracle."

What Johnson saw as a miracle, too, was that her granddaughter bonded so quickly with Erchul after meeting her for the first time.

"For 10 minutes after they left [Disney World], Morgan had tears rolling down her face and was holding onto the Tigger [stuffed animal]," Johnson said. "There is a definite connection between them. This is Alicia's baby's heart."

In the weeks since their first meeting, the families have stayed in touch via texts, emails and FaceTime. Both Johnson and Erchul said there is "no doubt" they will meet again in person.

Erchul said she has felt a "sense of calm" since meeting Morgan and is focused now on her mission of continuing to spread Gabriel's legacy.

"We ask our family, friends and colleagues to purposely do random acts that spread joy, experience wonder, create magic and share love," she said. "Either by doing an activity with their own children, donating time or toys or experiencing the wonder of a child, themselves."

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Apr152019

Everything you need to know about the measles outbreak

Manjurul/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The number of measles cases in the U.S. so far in 2019 is now more than 460, compared to 374 cases confirmed in all of 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Michigan has 39 cases of measles on record so far this year, the highest number of measles in the state since 1991, according to the state's Department of Health and Human Services.

New York's Rockland County issued an unprecedented state of emergency last month, banning unvaccinated minors from public places, as 153 cases of measles have been confirmed there as of late March.

While measles is in the headlines, many questions remain about what the virus is, the dangers it brings and how it can be prevented.

ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton appeared on "Good Morning America" Monday to break down what you need to know about what she describes as "the single most infectious virus in the world."

What is the big deal about measles?

These stats from the CDC show how serious measles really is.

- More than 100,000 people worldwide died of measles in 2017.

- Of children who are infected with measles, 1 in 10 will develop an ear infection that could lead to deafness.

- 1 in 20 children with measles will develop pneumonia that could require support in the intensive care unit.

- 1 in 1,000 cases of measles will cause brain swelling, which could be deadly.

- 1 to 2 out of 1,000 children with measles will die of the disease.

How does measles spread?


Measles is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing, according to the CDC.

Early symptoms of measles include fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat. Those symptoms are then followed by a rash of small, red spots that spread over the body.

Why am I hearing more about measles this year?

The CDC attributes the growth of measles cases in the U.S. in recent years to two factors:

1) "More measles cases than usual in some countries to which Americans often travel (such as England, France, Germany, India, the Philippines and Vietnam) and therefore more measles cases coming into the US," according to the CDC.

2) "More spreading of measles in U.S. communities with pockets of unvaccinated people."

How do I know if I'm protected against measles?


The CDC says that written documentation showing at least one of the following means you are protected from measles:

1) You received two doses of measles-containing vaccine, and you are a school-aged child (grades K-12) or adult who will be in a setting that poses a high risk for measles transmission.

2) You received one dose of measles-containing vaccine, and you are a preschool-aged child or adult who will not be in a high-risk setting for measles transmission.

3) A laboratory confirmed that you had measles at some point in your life.

4) A laboratory confirmed that you are immune to measles.

5) You were born before 1957 (In which case are presumed to have been naturally exposed to measles.)

According to the CDC, information about your vaccination history can be found by checking with your parents or other caregivers for records of your childhood immunizations; checking with previous employers and school health services for dates of immunizations; checking with your doctor or public health clinic; contacting your state’s health department if your state maintains a registry.

Keep in mind that schools, employers and doctors are only required to maintain patients' records for a limited number of years.

What is the measles vaccine?

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, as well as mumps and rubella.

The CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months, and the second dose at 4 to 6.

Two doses of the vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles, while one dose is about 93% effective, according to the CDC.

Do I need an updated vaccine if I've already been vaccinated?

In short, no.

If you received two doses of measles vaccine as children according to the U.S. vaccination schedule, you are protected for life, according to CDC guidelines.

Adults like college students, healthcare personnel and international travelers who are going to be in a setting that "poses a high risk for measles transmission" need to make sure they have had two doses of the measles vaccine separated by at least 28 days, according to the CDC.

Should I get a blood test to see if I'm protected against measles?

No, according to Ashton.

"The [blood] test was designed to see if you have been naturally exposed," she said. "That's different than vaccine protection."

A blood test would detect antibodies to the measles virus. People who have written documentation of two doses of the measles vaccine do not need to get their antibody levels checked.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Apr152019

Brooklyn parents sue to stop mandatory measles vaccinations

Hailshadow/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A group of parents in Brooklyn are seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent mandatory measles vaccinations from taking effect.

The parents’ lawsuit against the New York City Department of Health called the emergency order "arbitrary and capricious" and the measures it necessitates "drastic."

The order, issued by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last week, demands that all persons, starting at the age of 6 months old, who live, work or attend school within the specified zip codes of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, be vaccinated.

The parents who are suing argued "there is insufficient evidence of a measles epidemic or dangerous outbreak to justify" forced vaccinations and they accused the city of failing to take the least restrictive measures to end the outbreak.

The suit was filed by five mothers on behalf of themselves and their minor children. They are listed as living in Williamsburg and Clinton Hill, parts of Brooklyn included in the mandatory vaccinations.

In declaring a public health emergency, de Blasio called the measles "a very serious situation" and noted the "danger of this disease and how highly contagious it is."

The affected zip codes are heavily populated with Orthodox Jews and the mayor sought to get everyone vaccinated before people travel for the Passover, which begins Friday.

"To make sure it is a good holiday we have to ensure that people are protected," de Blasio said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 285 confirmed cases of measles in Brooklyn and Queens from October 2018 to April 8, 2019.

The CDC states that most of the confirmed cases involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community and the first case stemmed from an unvaccinated child getting infected while on a trip to Israel.

New York is one of 20 states where there have been confirmed measles cases in 2019. Between Jan. 1, 2019, and April 11, there have been 555 confirmed cases of measles in the U.S.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Apr152019

Five subscription boxes that bring self-care to your door

Go Love Yourself(NEW YORK) -- You can get everything from workout clothes to makeup to toilet paper delivered to your door on demand, so why not do the same for your mental health.

That’s the idea behind the latest monthly subscription trend: Self-care boxes that aim to bring joy, reduce stress and put yourself back at the top of your to-do list.

Here are five self-care subscription services to try:

1. TheraBox

For $34.99 per month, a box from TheraBox includes one activity "inspired by research" to help rewire the brain for happiness, from journaling to brain-training exercises and mindfulness activities.

The activity is accompanied by six to eight of what TheraBox calls "wellness goodies" -- that is, items that help promote relaxation and reduce stress.

"Each box aims to inspire more happiness, discovery, and inspiration," TheraBox says on its website.

2. Go Love Yourself Box

Founded by a woman, this service bills itself as "self-help that actually helps."

The Go Love Yourself Box includes a self-help book along with implementation resources -- like workbooks, book discussions and a magazine -- and self-care items. Each box also comes with a personalized message.

The price starts at $30 for just the book each month and goes up from there if you want extras to help you implement the self-care techniques, like eye masks and note cards to connect with friends.

3. My Hygge Joy

Hygge is a part of Danish culture that encompasses feelings of coziness and well-being and enjoying the simple things in life.

My Hygge Joy are monthly boxes, each with a theme, aimed at helping you slow down, savor and appreciate "even the tiny moments," according to its website. The products in each box are designed to "indulge your senses" and may include everything from food and drink to candles, bath products, books and home decor.

The boxes start at $39.95 per month.

4. Coffee and a Classic

If you want to learn how to slow down and smell the coffee, this box helps you, literally. Each Coffee and a Classic box comes with a classic book -- think Little Women -- something to sip on (coffee, hot chocolate or tea) and some book accessories, too.

The boxes range in price from $29.99 to $40.99, with the more expensive boxes coming with additional items like food and a mug to drink from as you read.

5. Hopebox

Each Hopebox contains at least six gifts handmade in the U.S. and a personalized message.

The company describes its boxes as "monthly assortments of uplifting treasures, handmade by creative artisans who each have their own stories of hope and healing, and a personalized message of inspiration and support."

The box options range in price from $38 to $79 per month.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







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