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5 Of The Worst Places In The World To Get Sick

5 Of The Worst Places In The World To Get Sick

Traveling abroad can be an incredible and enlightening experience. But if you intend to stay abroad in a foreign country for a few days or weeks, then you have to remember that not every country’s health care system is up to the standards of the West.

Countries like Iraq, Syria, and North Korea have dismal healthcare systems thanks to war and poverty, but few tourists make plan to visit those countries. But tourists should in fact be leery of many popular tourist destinations and their health risks.

Here are five places where tourists should take particular care of their health, both in preventing illnesses and in ensuring proper treatment when ill.

1. Mexico

Traveler’s diarrhea is nicknamed “Montezuma’s revenge” for a reason. Any travel guide will tell you that if you carelessly eat contaminated food or drink the tap water in Mexico or other developing nations, you will find yourself laid up for about three to five days and need to go to the bathroom frequently. This disease results from bits of human feces or garbage which can contaminate your food or water. About 30 to 50 percent of travelers to tropical destinations like Mexico will get this disease, so it is critical to be prepared.

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Boiling tap water or drinking bottled water will prevent one of the main causes of this disease, but that is not enough. You cannot eat foods which have been washed with tap water. This means eating no unpeeled raw fruit or vegetables, such as apples and lettuce. Furthermore, water used for brushing and shaving should also be purified, and try to avoid swallowing any shower water.

2. China

China is an interesting case. Health care in cities like Beijing and Nanjing is adequate, if not on par with the West. But if you travel into the interior, things start to get dicey. Hospitals are not as sterile, and doctors and nurses will not hesitate to reuse needles. The latter should be particularly concerning given that HIV has made inroads into the Chinese population.

One thing which visitors to any hospital should do is make it clear that they will not accept any blatantly unsanitary practices like reused needles, and perhaps carry their own supplies just in case. Doctors and nurses will undoubtedly grouse afterwards about the arrogant, whiny foreigner. But if the choice is between hurting someone else’s feelings or risking a deadly disease, it should be obvious what is the proper choice.

3. India

India has many of the problems which afflict Mexico and China. Its health care facilities outside the major cities are problematic and it is advised to purify any food and water before consumption.

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But unlike those countries, India is noticeable for having a problem with malaria. Even though this disease has been all but eradicated in the Western world, about 40,000 Indians die from the disease every year.  Furthermore, malaria is present throughout all of the non-mountainous regions of India, though it is worse in East India around the area of Kolkata.

Travelers planning to go to India should see about getting preventative medicine for malaria, in addition to vaccinations for typhoid fever, Hepatitis A and B, and maybe even yellow fever if you are passing through a country with a risk of that disease. This preparation should take place four to six weeks before departing.

4. Morocco

There is more to being healthy than just eating the right foods and avoiding diseases. In much of the Middle East, you will have to take care to avoid heatstroke, especially if you plan to vacation there in the summer. In Morocco, this is even more of a concern with the inconsistent level of health care you are likely to receive.

Many expats have reported that medical facilities, outside the main cities, are basic. It is advisable for anyone visiting the country to get private insurance. There is also other salient advice to follow when visiting this North African country.

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As a tourist who may not be used to such heat, you should probably do the same thing. Drink plenty of (purified) water and wait until it cools down before you explore the beautiful beaches or the rich culture there.

If you do end up needing medical care, make sure you read the fine print of any hospital forms you will be signing. It is not unheard of for healthcare professionals to charge significantly more to tourists and hospital negligence continues to be a problem. Taking out private insurance is a must but also make sure that your cover includes emergency evacuation and repatriation.

5. Aboard a cruise ship

A cruise ship may not pose the same health risks as a village in the Chinese interior, but the luxury which you can find aboard a cruise can pose opposite health problems. Eating too much good food too quickly combined with the roiling of a ship can lead to nausea, seasickness, and a cruise where you end up spending way too much time in the bathroom.

Moderation is key to all health. Eat in moderation, get exercise outside by walking on deck when you can, and do not get completely drunk. All those things will ensure that you actually enjoy yourself and do not end up with a vicious headache or worse.

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Traveling abroad without preparing is a foolhardy enterprise, and this applies above all to your health. But this does not mean that you should stay home in fear of a few days’ diarrhea. Some risk-taking is acceptable, and as long as you take adequate health and safety measures, you will gain the experience of a lifetime.

Featured photo credit: Nick Kenrick via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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