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How to Avoid Foggy Eyeglasses

Billions of people across the globe need eyeglasses to drive a car, read a book, watch television, and perform a host of other tasks of daily life. Although glasses are highly effective, people who wear them understand they may have to make a few concessions while doing so. Unlike contact lenses, which sit directly on the eye, glasses rest on the bridge of the nose. They may slightly impede peripheral vision or even slip down if not properly fitted. Those accustomed to wearing glasses in the cold weather understand fogging of the lenses is a nuisance they may be forced to confront. That nuisance became even more profound when masks became a must-have accessory to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Glasses may fog due to the formation of condensation on the lens surface, which happens when moving from a cold outdoor environment into a warm indoor one. This is a problem that has affected eyeglass wearers for some time, including health professionals who often wear masks. The issue has become even more widely known due to the sheer number of people who have been wearing face masks as a public health safety measure. So how does one counteract the condensation and fogging that occurs from both winter weather and increased mask usage? There are a few different methods, but eyeglass wearers should always consult with an optometrist to verify the safety and efficacy of any method before trying it.

Use soapy water

A 2011 study published in the Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England found that washing eyeglasses in soapy water and shaking off the excess can help reduce fogginess. Afterward, let the spectacles air dry before putting them back on. The soapy water leaves behind a thin surfactant film that reduces surface tension and causes the water molecules to spread out evenly into a transparent layer. This can help prevent fogging.

Use a commercial product

Antifogging products are widely used to prevent fogging of scuba masks or ski goggles. Get a mask that fits tightly Make sure the mask fits securely over the nose, advises The Cleveland Clinic. Also, a mask with a nose bridge will help keep warm exhaled breath from exiting up to the glasses. Use your glasses to help seal the mask on your face by pulling the mask up higher on the nose.

Block breath with a tissue

The AARP suggests placing a folded tissue between your mouth and the mask. The tissue will absorb the warm, moist air, preventing it from rising up to reach the glasses.

Adjust the fit of glasses

Choosing glasses that sit further away from the face can improve air circulation and reduce the formation of condensation.

Consider other options

If these tricks seem like a lot of work, you also can speak to an eye doctor about contact lenses or eye surgery.

6 Ways to Be Kind to Food Servers

These are unprecedented times. As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, people have had to adapt to many significant changes in a relatively short period of time. Throughout the pandemic, many hardworking individuals have helped to keep the world moving forward in an uncertain time. Though many food servers have temporarily or permanently lost their jobs during the pandemic, many more have continued to work.

Restaurants are vital components of local communities, serving as more than just somewhere to enjoy a great meal. Restaurants are gathering places and have helped people get out of the house during the age of social distancing. Servers are at the heart of the restaurant industry, and there are various ways to show them how much their efforts are appreciated.

1. Leave a sizable tip. Etiquette suggests customers tips servers anywhere between 15 and 20 percent. Because servers today are increasingly putting their health on the line, why not increase that tip to 25 or 30 percent? Such tips can provide some financial relief to servers whose earnings have been adversely affected by the pandemic and a bigger tip lets servers know their efforts are appreciated.

2. Write a thank-you note. Jot a few words of encouragement on the back of the bill or receipt. If time allows, thank the server in person for a job well done.

3. Don’t forget school staff. While certain schools are still serving breakfast and lunch to students, others have had to forego in-person dining at school due to local regulations and capacity restrictions. However, food servers and other staff may still be distributing food to those who qualify for financial assistance. Food services is often an overlooked job in the school system and parents can offer small tokens of appreciation to these workers.

4. Be courteous and kind. Food servers experience all sorts of personalities during a typical workday. Being kind and respectful brighten up a server’s day.

5. Be a tidy customer. Do your best to leave a tidy table behind when you finish your meal. Collect trash and dispose of it properly. Try to be as neat as possible, stacking dishes and preventing items from falling on the floor so servers and bussers have an easier go of it.

6. Follow restaurant rules. Policies regarding in-person dining and mask usage vary depending on local laws. Follow the rules so you don’t put servers’ health at risk.

Food servers have faced unprecedented challenges during the pandemic. Customers can do many things to show their servers how much their efforts are appreciated.

The Many Ways Walking Benefits Your Body

Life changed dramatically in 2020. When the World Health Organization declared a COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, hundreds of millions of people across the globe were forced to change how they go about their daily lives, including how they exercise. Health-conscious adults accustomed to exercising at local gyms had to find new ways to exercise in the wake of the pandemic. Many gyms were forced to close in areas hit hard by COVID-19, and that left many people without access to fitness equipment like weights and cardiovascular machines. Resilient men and women soon found ways to exercise, and many of them embraced walking.

Though walking might not provide the same level of intensity that fitness enthusiasts are accustomed to, the Arthritis Foundation® notes the various ways walking benefits the body.

• Walking protects against heart disease and stroke. Walking strengthens the heart and protects it against heart disease. The AF also notes that walking lowers blood pressure. In fact, post-menopausal women who walk just one to two miles per day can lower their blood pressure by nearly 11 points in 24 weeks, while women who walk for 30 minutes a day can reduce their risk of stroke by 20 percent.

• Walking strengthens the bones. New York-based Plancher Orthopedics and Sports Medicine notes that walking can stop the loss of bone mass for people with osteoporosis. In addition, post-menopausal women who incorporate 30 minutes of walking into their daily fitness regimens can reduce their risk of hip fractures by 40 percent.

• Walking can extend your life. The AF notes that one study linked walking to longer life expectancy, finding that people who exercise regularly in their fifties and sixties were 35 percent less likely to die over the next eight years than people who never walked.

• Walking can improve mood. One study from researchers at California State University, Long Beach, found that the more steps people taking during the day, the better their moods were.

• Walking can lower risk for cognitive decline. Walking also has been linked to a lower risk for age-related cognitive decline. A study from the University of Virginia Health System found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease compared to men who walked less. In addition, a study from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was lower among women ages 65 and older who walked 2.5 miles per day than it was among women who walked less than half a mile per week.

Foot traffic increased as people were forced to find new ways to exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic. Walking is a great way to stay in shape and even provides some lesser known benefits for people who walk each day.

The Benefits of Making New Year’s Resolutions

The end of December is a busy time of year. Families are shopping for gifts for loved ones and friends, holiday celebrations are in full swing and thoughts begin to turn to the new year ahead.

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, it is customary to sip a glass of champagne and toast to the new year. Many people use the dawn of a new year as a time to create a list of resolutions that reflect positive changes they hope to make in the year ahead. Between 40 and 45 percent of American adults make resolutions each year, according to the health and wellness group Proactive Mindfulness. According to John C. Norcross, Marci S. Mrykalo and Matthew D. Blagys, coauthors of the study “Auld Lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers,” within six months of starting a resolution 46 percent of people are still maintaining their resolutions. Resolutions may seem silly to some, but there are several positive reasons to make them.

• Resolutions provide practice setting goals. Goal-setting is an important component of life. Goals are key because they provide general direction in life. A goal is a map that can give you an idea of where you are heading and what path you need to take to get there, according to the self-improvement guide Success Consciousness. Resolutions can be fun, low-pressure goals. Think of them as dress rehearsals for bigger life changes.

• Resolutions offer time for reflection. Too often people are rushing through daily life without stopping or slowing down to truly assess the impact of their actions. Resolutions help you reflect on the past, present and future, figuring out what has been working and what may need to be changed to provide a boost, according to the wellness resource Alternative Daily.

• Resolutions can serve as a catalyst for positive change. When something isn’t working with your routine, personal health or relationships, resolutions can serve as the catalyst that ultimately rights the ship.

• Resolutions can promote self-esteem and empowerment. Making resolutions and keeping them can provide a sense of accomplishment that comes with goal-setting and following through. Resolving to lose five pounds and then seeing the proof on a scale can be a powerful motivator that compels you to make other self-improvements. Accomplishing small goals also can boost self-esteem.

Resolutions are often made at the dawn of a new year. These efforts can provide the motivation and direction people need to make positive changes in their lives.

Safety Tips When Giving Kids Electric Toys

Youngsters’ eyes light up each holiday season at the sight of toys. Gift-giving during the holiday season is practiced by people of various faiths and backgrounds, and the joy of giving is only increased when witnessing the excited children unwrap gifts. Though no gift giver wants to imagine children being hurt while playing with their toys, it’s important that adults recognize the dangers posed by certain toys. Regulations mandating the safe production of electric toys have been in place for decades, but the risk of injury remains. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recognizes that threat and offers the following tips to consumers who intend to give children electric toys this holiday season.

• Heed the age recommendations. The CPSC notes that children should never be given toys, including electric toys, that are made for older kids. The idea that kids “will grow into it” may entice some consumers to ignore age recommendations, but that only puts youngsters at risk. Age recommendations are the minimum age children should be before they play with a toy.

• Consider kids’ maturity levels. Children mature at different paces, so even kids who meet or exceed the minimum age listed on the package may not necessarily be capable of safely playing with the electric toy. To determine if a child is mature enough for a given toy, consumers can consult with the child’s parents or, if buying for their own children, pay particular attention to how the child plays with age-appropriate toys he or she already has. If the child tends to gravitate toward toys designed for younger children, he or she might not yet be ready for electric toys designed for his or her age.

• Carefully and clearly explain the toy to children. Before allowing a child to play with a new electric toy, parents should carefully read the instructions and then read them aloud to their children. Play with the child when he or she uses the toy until you are confident the youngster understands the toy and how to operate it safely. The CPSC recommends parents always supervise children when they’re using electric toys and make sure that toys that must be plugged into the wall fit snugly into the outlets. Prevent electrical shock by ensuring prongs are never exposed.

• Store toys safely. Safe storage also is vital to prevent electric toy-related injuries. Store electric toys in dry areas that are not accessible to children.

• Inspect toys regularly. Routine inspections of electric toys can alert parents to broken parts, frayed cords and/or damage to enclosures of wiring and other protected components. If parts like batteries or bulbs need to be replaced, make sure children know that only adults are allowed to replace them.

Electric toys can be hazardous to children. But parents and gift givers can take various steps to ensure kids stay safe when playing with electric toys.

The Various Advantages to Shopping Locally

Residents of a given town or city are often encouraged to support local businesses by looking to these firms to fill their needs. Small businesses are not just integral parts of communities, employing millions across the country, they also are operations that fund the very communities they service.

Efforts to promote shopping local appear to be working. According to the Commonwealth Financial Group, over the last several years there has been a shift in consumer purchasing behavior marked by a preference among consumers to support locally owned shops and stores over big-box retailers and even online shopping. The following are some key reasons why shopping locally not only benefits small business owners, but also the communities they call home and the customers they serve.

• More money stays in the community: According to the American Independent Business Alliance, for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remains in the community. Conversely, only 43 percent of every $100 spent at a chain retailer stays in the community.

• Job creation: The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies says local businesses create the majority of economic growth. They employ millions of Americans by creating roughly two-thirds of private sector jobs. Local business owners also tend to hire people who represent the demographics of the communities where the business is located, which may include historically underserved populations.

• Diversity of products: Local stores tend to diversify their products and services to meet the needs of the local communities, whereas chain stores often stock their shelves based on national demands.

• Personalized service: A small business owner may be more inclined to go to great lengths to make customers happy because the long-term success of the business depends on customers becoming repeat customers.

• Personal connection: Knowing the people behind a business facilitates a connection not easily achieved with other companies. Customers may celebrate when a favorite business succeeds and look to spread the word about that business because they feel like they played a positive role in its success.

Shopping locally has gained momentum and is fueled by the many advantages to supporting local businesses.

Must-Haves to Achieve a Holiday Wonderland

The end of the year marks a period of heightened festivity. Come the holiday season, homes and businesses are decorated and everyone seems to have an extra spring in their step.

The sight of snowflakes, candy canes, evergreen wreaths, and Christmas trees can elicit nostalgia for happy holidays of the past, as well as excitement for what is yet to come. When it comes to decorating for the holidays, there are certain items that set the scene.

• Christmas trees: Germany is credited with starting the modern Christmas tree tradition. It dates back to the 16th century when devout Christians brought trees into their homes and decorated them. German settlers brought Christmas tree traditions to America upon their arrival in Pennsylvania in the 19th century.

• Mistletoe: Mistletoe is known as the “kissing plant” and it is customary for couples to kiss while standing beneath the plant, typically hung in doorways and arches. Mistletoe was once hung to drive off evil spirts and ensure fertility. Kissing under the mistletoe was first found associated with the Greek festival of Saturnalia and later with primitive marriage rites.

• Lights: Lights are commonly seen during the holiday season. The custom of having holiday lights dates back to when Christmas trees were decorated with candles, which symbolized Christ being the light of the world. These traditions evolved from pagan rituals that would celebrate the return of light of the sun as the days grow longer after the winter solstice.

• Yule log: Many families burn a yule log in the fireplace and watch it burn while listening to Christmas carols. The familiar custom of burning the log dates back to solstice celebrations and the tradition of bonfires. The Christmas tradition called for burning a portion of the log each evening until Twelfth Night, also known as the Epiphany, which takes place on January 6.

• Poinsettias: Poinsettias are a tropical plant that originated in Mexico. Joel Roberts Poinsett was the first Ambassador from the United States to Mexico. He became enamored with the plants, and brought them back to his native South Carolina. An old Mexican legend suggests a poor girl had nothing to offer baby Jesus at Christmas Eve services, so she picked a handful of weeds and put them at the bottom of the nativity scene. These weeds burst into bright red flowers and became known as “Flores de Noche Buena,” or “Flowers of the Holy Night.”

Holiday decorations borrow traditions from all over the world to help establish a festive wonderland.

6 Ways to Stick to a Holiday Budget

The holidays are an exciting, fun and joyful time of year. And for many people, the holidays also are expensive. According to the Motley Fool Company, a financial wellness resource, the average American spent $882.45 on Christmas gifts, food, decorations, travel, and other holiday-related expenses in 2019. Around 56 percent of gift shoppers set a budget for holiday spending, but only 64 percent stuck to it. In addition, 21.5 percent of respondents went into debt due to holiday shopping.

Who doesn’t want to have a super holiday with delicious foods on the table and lots of presents to share with family and friends? While that’s tempting, such a bounty should never result in financial peril. These six strategies can make it easy to establish and stick to a budget this holiday season.

1. Budget for everything. When working out holiday spending plans, factor in all of the expenses associated with the holidays — not just the most obvious, like gifts. Costs for gas, parking lot fees, greeting cards, postage, travel expenses, and much more should be included in your final number.

2. Determine how much you can spend. Money for gifts and other holiday expenses should ideally come from your disposable income. Look at your finances in advance of the holiday season and figure out how much extra cash you have for the holidays, and use that figure to determine how much you should spend. Find ways to make up any deficit by curtailing expenses like dining out or entertainment extras. Many people plan to use credit cards to pay now and worry about the aftermath later. Only use credit cards if you have the money in the bank and can pay off the entire bill when the balance due is in January.

3. Set a spending limit for individuals. Based on your numbers and how much you plan to spend overall, start allocating money to categories, including gift recipients. Come up with a spending range for each person and stick to it.

4. Pay in cash as much as possible. It’s easy to know what you’re spending when using cash as opposed to credit. There is some risk with carrying around cash, but that risk may be offset by the benefit of spending only what you can afford to spend.

5. Track all purchases. Save the receipts and keep a running total of expenditures so you can see how you’re spending is measuring up to your budget. If necessary, scale back on one category if you’ve tipped the scales in spending on another.

6. Shop sales and deals. High-end stores may have the impressive tag, but their prices can set you back. Instead, look for comparable gifts at discount stores and other retailers. Also, if you must use a credit card, use one that earns you a cash-back bonus for added savings.

A holiday budget is a must to avoid overspending and finding yourself in debt early next year.

How to Support Small Businesses This Holiday Season

The holiday season is an important one for small businesses every year, and it figures to take on heightened importance in 2020. The outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in late 2019 and early 2020 hit small businesses especially hard, with many being forced to close their facilities to customers in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading. Estimates regarding the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on small businesses varied, but many small business owners were forced to let go employees as they confronted steep declines in revenue. A ZenBusiness survey of more than 1,000 small business founders, senior managers and decision makers found that 37 percent of small businesses that employ between 11 and 25 people were considering laying off more than one-fifth of their workforce.

As small businesses face difficult challenges, it’s no surprise that many consumers want to support locally owned small businesses this holiday season. Such support not only can help small businesses, but also can help to revitalize local communities.

Shop online. Online shopping has traditionally been dominated by big box retailers. However, many small businesses increased their e-commerce capabilities to generate revenue. Shoppers concerned about shopping in person this holiday season should explore the delivery and curbside pickup options available at locally owned small businesses. Even businesses that have not traditionally been allowed to deliver, such as breweries and wineries, have been able to do so during the outbreak, giving consumers unlimited online shopping options.

Purchase gift cards. Gift cards take the guesswork out of holiday shopping, and such cards are easily shipped or even emailed to loved ones. That’s a significant benefit during the 2020 holiday season, when delivery times are expected to be lengthy. Gift cards to local businesses simplify holiday shopping, support small businesses and help shoppers avoid potential delivery delays.

Share your experience. Word-of-mouth is vital to small businesses at any time, and can be especially valuable as these companies try to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak. Holiday shoppers can share their experiences with local businesses via social media. Share information about the lengths local small businesses have gone to in regard to safety measures, order fulfillment and their delivery and pickup efforts. Such sharing may compel neighbors and friends to follow your lead and provide vital support to local businesses in need this holiday season.

Small businesses are the backbone of many communities, and the holiday season provides a great opportunity to support such firms as they look to recover from a difficult year.

Simple Ways to Save on Heating Costs This Winter

Comfort takes center stage each winter. As people look to stay warm, many may be quick to turn up the thermostat so their entire home is toasty warm. But much like cranking air conditioners during the dog days of summer, turning up the thermostat each time the winter winds begin blowing can prove costly for homeowners. According to estimates from the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, homeowners spent an average of $911 on home heating costs in the winter of 2019-20. The winter of 2020-21 could prove even more expensive, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force much of the world to practice social distancing. That means many professionals are still working from home full-time, while even those who aren’t are no doubt spending more of their free time at home. All those hours spent at home figure to increase reliance on heaters this winter, which means heating bills are likely to go up as the temperatures go down.

Finding ways to save on heating costs will no doubt prove a priority for many homeowners this winter, and the following are some ways to do just that.

• Add insulation. Extra insulation throughout the house can dramatically reduce home heating (and cooling) costs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, adding insulation in attics, crawl spaces and basement rim joists can help homeowners save as much as 15 percent on heating costs.

• Lower the temperature on your water heater. Another way to trim your energy bill this winter is to lower the temperature on your water heater. The U.S. Department of Energy notes that, for every 10 F reduction in temperature on their water heaters, homeowners can save between 3 and 5 percent on their water heating costs.

• Close the flue on your fireplace. Fireplaces can keep a home’s inhabitants warm in winter, but only when they’re in use. When they’re not being used, fireplaces can allow heat to escape a home. When the fireplace is not being used, close the flue to prevent heat from escaping the house. Keeping all windows and doors closed throughout the day is another way to prevent unnecessary heat loss.

• Have your HVAC system serviced before winter begins. Inefficient HVAC systems cost homeowners considerable amounts of money each year. Annual maintenance performed by a certified HVAC professional can ensure filters are clean and operating at peak efficiency, saving homeowners the costly trouble of having to turn up the thermostat to overcome dirty systems.

Home heating costs figure to increase this winter as people spend more time at home. Various simple strategies can help homeowners stay warm without overpaying to heat their homes this winter.