7 Treatments and Lifestyle Changes That Can Help Dry Eyes

How to treat dry eye

Millions of Americans suffer from stinging, burning, blurry, and gritty-feeling eyes due to dry eye syndrome. While everyone can have dry eyes once in a while, those folks have a chronic problem due to inadequate tear production. Some people are at higher risk of dry eye than others. (Here are some of the most common dry eye risk factors).

The good news is that there are several ways to treat dry eye, including natural remedies you can try at home, over-the-counter drops, and even prescription products and procedures that get at the root of the problem. What is important is to not ignore your symptoms. Because tears contain antibodies, lubricants, and nutrients that protect the eye, leaving these eye symptoms untreated for too long can damage your eyes.

Consider your medications

Often dry eye is a side effect of medication, everything from allergy meds to painkillers to blood pressure drugs. When you seek treatment for your eye symptoms, tell your doctor about any other meds you are taking. She can tell you if one of these (here are 14 dry eye-causing medications) could be triggering your dry eye. You might be able to switch to a different medication that doesn’t cause dry eye. If that’s not possible, read on.

Try OTC eye drops

The first line of treatment for dry eye is often eye drops known as artificial tears, which are available over-the-counter. These can be especially helpful if you have mild dry eye or if the symptoms only appear once in a while. Don’t confuse them with red-eye drops, which contain medications that can lead to rebound redness and won’t treat the dry eye. And the trick is to find the right products, and use them correctly. There are many types available over-the-counter, and a doctor can help you pick the right kind to address your problem.

“They’re actually really effective but you have to be consistent,” says Janet Cushing, OD, a clinical optometrist with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health in Madison. “Some people say they tried it once but it didn’t really work. Consistent use really works.”

If you find you need the drops more than six times a day, consider using a product with no preservatives, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, or talk to your doctor about other treatments.

Wash your eyelids

Oil (meibum) is a necessary component of tears, and is produced by meibomian glands found on the rim of eyes, near your lash line. Blocked meibomian glands can lead to dry eye. Washing your eyelids regularly and using a warm washcloth as a compress can help keep inflammation under control and restore the flow of oil to the eye.

“With your eyes closed, wash along the lash line,” instructs Cushing. “You can use commercially available lid cleansers or baby shampoo. It really helps.”

Some doctors may advise doing this every day, even if symptoms have subsided.

If the at-home version of this remedy doesn’t work, ask your doctor about unblocking your oil glands in his or her office with a procedure called LipiFlow. This device provides pressure and warmth to the eye to clear blocked meibomian glands.

Plug your tear ducts

Tear ducts or puncta are located at the inner corners of your upper and lower eyelid. Their function is to drain tears away from the eye into the nose. Plugging the ducts with sterile lacrimal plugs or punctal plugs can keep both your own tears and artificial tears in the eye.

“Basically you’re just closing the duct that drains tears out of your eyes,” explains Cushing. “Usually it’s reversible with a silicone plug but you can actually cauterize and close the punctum permanently.”

Wear therapeutic contact lenses

Although regular contact lenses can actually cause dry eye if worn over the long-term, special contact lenses called scleral lenses or bandage lenses can fix the problem by protecting the surface of the eye and keeping moisture from seeping away.

Eat more omega-3s

Adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet may also help relieve dry eye. Dietary sources include salmon, sardines, tuna, walnuts, and flaxseed.

Ask about prescription meds

In addition to over-the-counter preparations, there are prescription remedies available. There are eye drops that contain the anti-inflammatory compound cyclosporine (Restasis) and in 2016, the FDA approved a new type of dry eye treatment called lifitegrast ophthalmic solution (Xiidra). Corticosteroids, which also control inflammation, are also available in eye drop form, although these are generally not recommended for long-term use.

Which Teas Are Healthiest?

You know that a cup of tea can do you good, but are there different health benefits to the different varieties? Black, green, oolong, and white teas all come from the same plant (Camellia sinensis). It’s how they’re processed that sets them apart and gives them their distinctive flavors. Black is made from leaves that have fully oxidized; their chemical makeup changes when they’re wilted, bruised, and exposed to air (kind of like a cut apple that sits on the counter). Oolong is partially oxidized, while green is not oxidized. White is also not oxidized, and it’s made from young leaves or buds. And they all will deliver a slightly lower buzz than a cup of coffee: it takes up to four eight-ounce cups of black tea to deliver roughly the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.

Black tea

Black tea may be a heart helper. While black tea is not quite as high in flavonoid antioxidants as its green counterpart, it is good for your heart and may help reduce cholesterol levels. And it can also help boost your energy levels. Feel free to tackle your afternoon slump with black tea, which tends to have a higher caffeine content than green tea.

Green tea

Green tea is packed with good-for-you antioxidants that may keep you in great form long-term. It may also help fight certain diseases: “The polyphenols found in green tea not only reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering your total and LDL cholesterol but may also reduce your risk of breast cancer,” says Sonia Oyola, MD, of the University of Chicago.

White tea

Sipping white or green tea may help with weight loss, thanks to caffeine and antioxidants called catechins. It’s also a plant powerhouse. “White tea is the least processed,” notes Dr. Oyola, “so compared with other teas, it has a higher amount of polyphenols, which are known to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.”

Kombucha

Kombucha—tea that’s fermented using sugar and a starter culture from (good) bacteria and yeast—can be an excellent source of probiotics, which may help reestablish a balanced gut microbiome and improve the health of your digestive system, says Dr. Oyola. Just be aware that some varieties may contain alcohol (though usually less than 0.5 percent).

Weight loss teas

Are so-called “detox teas” for weight loss worth a try? Nope—here’s why: Some slimming teas combine caffeine with a diuretic, causing you to shed water weight, not actual fat. They may also contain herbs like senna, a natural laxative that can come with undesirable side effects (think stomach cramps and diarrhea). If your aim is fat loss, a clean diet and exercise are a safer bet, says Cynthia Sass, RD.

Veteran Kirstie Ennis Lands a Cover of ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue: ‘The Hardest Part Was Dropping the Robe’

Kirstie Ennis is used to facing challenges head-on —and her latest has her baring all on a cover of ESPN Magazine‘s Body Issue.

The Veteran Marine — who survived a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2012 that resulted in severe injuries and required more than 40 surgeries — had her left leg amputated above the knee at the end of 2015.

“I was intimidated at first,” Ennis admits of the prospect of stripping down for ESPN. But the thought of making a difference for other people going through similar struggles convinced her to say yes.

“I really thought about it and thought about the demographic and the people that would see it and I really realized that it wasn’t about me anymore,” she says. “Any man, woman, or child facing some sort of adversity has a potential to be inspired by these pictures and seeing somebody who only has been missing their leg for a few years go out and do things that she wasn’t doing with two legs.”

And though she says the first moment was the most nerve-wracking, she felt at ease by the end of the process.

“The hardest part was just dropping the robe,” she says. “At a certain point, it’s like, ‘Realistically, this is pretty badass. I don’t know of anybody else in the world that has ever climbed at Joshua Tree with no clothes on.’ “

Badass is an accurate description of Ennis, whose pursuits post-amputation are impressive. While her above-the-knee amputation came as a shock and slowed her recovery process, she didn’t let it stop her.

“That truly flipped my whole world upside down,” she says. “I didn’t think that I’d ever go back to snowboarding, I damn sure didn’t think I’d be climbing mountains or rock climbing. But I figured it out.”

Ennis is now one of the top Paralympic snowboarders in the world, and is looking forward to (hopefully) competing in PyeongChang next year. She’s also a mountain climber: She took on Kilimanjaro in March, Carstensz in a few weeks, and after that, Everest. Denali is on her schedule for the fall.

Despite these incredible accomplishments, Ennis’s recovery battle continues: Last November, she had to go back into the operating room to have two more inches of her leg removed.

“Curveball after curveball,” she says. “I’ve been blessed with a pretty strong body and I went right back into training as soon as they cleared me to get back up on two feet.”

Her injuries present not only physical hurdles, but mental ones, too. This is where the MVP Foundation — headed up by sports commentator and coach Jay Glazer — comes in. The program supports retired NFL players and combat veterans in their transitions to a life outside of professional sports and the armed forces. The group meets weekly, and after a 30-minute workout session, they all sit down for a “fireside chat” and talk about the importance of living.

“I said, ‘Show of hands, if this group wasn’t here, if we didn’t have this team, how many people in this room probably wouldn’t be alive right now?’ ” Glazer tells PEOPLE of a recent meeting. “And we had about 40 people raise their hands, including Kirstie.”

He says: “It’s just giving them a message of, ‘Different is good. Don’t be afraid to be different. You don’t need to blend in with the rest of society.’ Be proud of every battle scar you have, inside and out, wear that proudly.”

And even in a room of inspiring people who have overcome so much, Glazer says that Ennis stands out.

“She is one of the biggest game-changers of a person you’ll ever come across in your whole life,” Glazer says.

Ennis has inspired countless people, including Prince Harry, who she met at a Walking With the Wounded event in 2015. Following the event, Harry called Ennis his “hero,” and she went on to compete at the 2016 Invictus Games. Ennis won’t be competing in this year’s Invictus Games in Toronto, but hopes to participate in next year’s event, in Sydney, Australia.

“He is a good man with a big heart,” she says of Harry. “He’s definitely his mother’s child.”

Her personal accomplishments mean a lot to Ennis, but nothing has a more of an impact than helping others. She recalls one moment in particular when she was able to inspire a young girl who also wears a prosthetic.

“I like to think I’m pretty tough but kids will bring me to my knees pretty quick,” she says. “There was a little girl at the prosthetics office who had never seen another girl with a prosthetic, let alone a grown-up. She was going into her first day of second grade. And she was just so in awe of me, calling me a princess. I still stay in touch with all of them. Her dad got ahold of me and he’s like, ‘You’ll never know what you just did for my daughter just by being there with her and walking with her.’”

Colorado Teen Wakes Up to ‘Crunching Sound’ as Bear Bites Into His Skull: ‘I Was Afraid for My Life’

Dylan McWilliams, a 19-year-old wilderness survival teacher at Glacier View Ranch in Ward, Colorado, says he was fast asleep on July 9 when he heard a “crunching sound” as a black bear bit into the back of his head while he camped under a full moon with staffers.

McWilliams says he punched the bear in the eyes and nose as it dragged him 12 feet in about 15 seconds before finally letting go.

“I just woke up to a loud crunching sound and I remember a lot of pain, and just being drug across the ground by my head by a bear,” McWilliams tells PEOPLE. “I kind of thought it was a dream for a second, I didn’t know what was going on.”

“I was very afraid for my life,” he continues. “After it dropped me and I got back to where everybody was, I just laid down, and the blood was all over my eyes and I couldn’t see. I thought I was blind.”

Though McWilliams has only taught wilderness survival classes for two months at the camp, thanks to his family of outdoor enthusiasts, he knew that fighting back against the bear was his best chance at survival. Their advice may have saved his life.

McWilliams was taken to a nearby hospital after staffers called 911, where he was given nine staples to his scalp before being released. During the time of the attack, 12- and 13-year-old campers were sleeping in cabins 100 feet away. No one else was injured in the attack.

Experts say unprovoked behavior such as this is not typical of black bears, and on Monday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced that they trapped and euthanized a 280-pound black bear believed to have been the one that attacked McWilliams, according to CBS Denver.

After the bear was captured, McWilliams was there to see it. “I looked into its eyes—for me, I’ve always loved the outdoors, and animals—and I kind of felt bad for it,” he says. “But then, I was like, this thing tried to kill me. It tried to eat me. Then I didn’t really feel bad for it.”

Though he is still experiencing pain and headaches, McWilliams is back at work at the camp, and his passion for the outdoors continues.

When asked if he’s nervous about camping again, he said, “No, I’ll probably go tomorrow night.”

FDA Panel Recommends Approval of the First Gene Therapy Treatment

An advisory panel for the FDA recommended approving the first gene therapy for use in the U.S., and the treatment is meant for children with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common blood cancer in children. The FDA doesn’t have to follow the advice of the advisory committee, but it often does.

The new therapy, called chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy, provides new hope that the disease won’t just be treated, but cured. It’s based on using the immune system to fight against cancer—currently the most promising way to fight tumors. Cancer cells arise from normal cells, so the immune system doesn’t always recognize that anything is wrong. A pioneering group of drugs already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), called checkpoint inhibitors, remove the brakes on the immune system and allow it to attack tumor cells that it normally wouldn’t.

The newly approved therapy CAR-T therapy works to co-opt the immune system in a different way. It involves removing a patient’s blood and essentially replacing it with a population of blood cells stacked with cancer-fighting immune cells known as T cells. To do that, researchers use gene therapy to change patients’ bone marrow cells, which make blood and immune cells, to recognize cancer cells.

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Novartis applied for the approval for its drug, tisagenlecleucel, to treat acute lymphblastic leukemia in children who have exhausted all the existing treatments for the disease. Doctors say the drug, which helps to genetically engineer the cells, only needs to be infused once to repopulate children’s blood with healthy, cancer-fighting cells. In a small group of patients who have received the therapy, 83% were in complete or partial remission three months later.

“Novartis has long believed in the potential of chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapies to change the cancer treatment paradigm,” the company said in a statement responding to the decision.

Other companies are also pursuing CAR-T cell strategies but have struggled with major complications. Some patients receiving CAR-T therapy can develop a severe inflammatory reaction known as cytokine release syndrome, in which the immune system is overactive and can cause high fever, neurological symptoms and organ damage. Earlier this year, Kite Pharma, which also has a CAR-T therapy product being reviewed by the FDA, reported the death of a patient from brain swelling, and Juno Therapeutics placed its CAR T program on hold when its scientists weren’t able to overcome the toxicity.

Researchers at the hearing told the advisory panel that careful monitoring for the first signs of the inflammation can keep it under control. The advisory panel determined, unanimously, 10-0, that the benefit of the therapy outweighed the risks.

Tourist Killed by Jet Blast at Beach Famous for Low-Flying Planes

A New Zealand woman died Wednesday after being hit with an airplane’s jet blast at a Caribbean beach known for its close-up views of aircraft arriving and departing a nearby airport, police said.

The 57-year-old was seriously injured after being knocked over by the blast from a plane departing Sint Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport. She later died at the Sint Maarten Medical Center as a result of her injuries.

Tourists frequent the location, called Maho Beach, for unique views of low-flying planes as they land and take off from the airport, despite officials’ warnings about the potential dangers.

 

Before the incident, the woman and several others were holding on to a fence that separates the airport and the beach, police said. The fence has signs reading “Do not stand. Danger. Jet Blast” warning of the harm that can result from standing in the area.

Police did not say whether other deaths have occurred at Maho Beach. But Forbes reported that this week’s incident was the first to result in a fatality. In 2012, a woman was injured there when the jet blast threw her against concrete.

Rolando Brison, Sint Maarten’s director of tourism, told the New Zealand Herald that he had spoken with the woman’s family and expressed his condolences.

“I met with the family of the deceased this evening and while they recognized that what they did was wrong, through the clearly visible danger signs, they regret that risk they took turned out in the worst possible way,” Brison told the Herald.

Brison also told the Herald he would be reviewing security tapes of the incident to identify what had happened.

Police are now urging visitors to adhere to the warning signs posted at the destination to ensure no future deaths or injuries occur.

The Walking Dead Stuntman Who Suffered ‘Serious Injuries’ During Production Is Dead

John Bernecker — The Walking Dead stuntman who was hospitalized after sustaining “serious injuries” on the AMC drama’s Georgia set — has died, the Coweta County Coroner’s Office in Georgia confirmed to Entertainment Weekly.

The stuntman and actor, who also worked on The Fate of the Furious and Logan, was placed on life support after suffering massive head injuries that left him brain dead, Deadline reports.

Sources told the outlet Bernecker and an actor were rehearsing a fight scene that was supposed to end with a routine fall from a balcony, but he lost his footing and fell 30 ft. to concrete floor.

“We are saddened to report that John Bernecker, a talented stuntman for The Walking Dead and numerous other television shows and films, suffered serious injuries from a tragic accident on set,” AMC said in a statement. “He was immediately transported to an Atlanta hospital and we have temporarily shut down production. We are keeping John and his family in our thoughts and prayers.”

John McCain Had a Craniotomy to Remove a Blood Clot. Here’s What That Means

Senator John McCain is recovering from minimally invasive surgery performed Friday “to remove a blood clot from above his left eye,” according to a statement from his office. His absence from the Senate has caused Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to delay a vote on Republicans’ proposed health care bill.

During the procedure, called a craniotomy, surgeons successfully removed a 5-centimeter clot through an eyebrow incision. McCain is resting comfortably and is in good sprits, the statement adds, and will spend the week at home in Arizona.

Some doctors familiar with blood clots and craniotomies—but not involved in McCain’s case—say that this type of operation could indicate a more serious condition. Two neurosurgeons TIME spoke with say that the senator’s prognosis—and how quickly he can get back to the Senate voting chamber—will likely depend on the clot’s underlying cause.

A blood clot described as “above the eye” could either be in the brain or just outside it, says Dr. Joseph Serrone, assistant professor of neurological surgery at Loyola University Health System. Such a clot could be caused by a number of things, including a bump on the head or a minor stroke that might otherwise go unnoticed.

The risk for bleeding in or around the brain is higher for people who take aspirin or blood thinners, says Serrone. “These decrease the body’s ability to clot properly, and so if there’s a small trauma or even a spontaneous hemorrhage, blood can build up and that can be very serious.” (It is not known whether McCain takes any of these medicines.)

A clot can also indicate a tumor, says Dr. Steven Kalkanis, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at Henry Ford Health System. Because McCain has a history of melanoma—including a surgery in 2000 to remove a tumor on his left temple—the clot will likely be examined closely “to see whether it’s only blood, or if there are tumor cells in there that could represent a recurrence.”

The statement from McCain’s office notes that tissue pathology reports are expected “within the next several days” and that further care will then be discussed between the senator’s doctors and family.

McCain’s previous melanoma diagnoses could have been what prompted doctors to discover the new clot. While the senator’s statement says Friday’s procedure was performed “after a routine physical,” this type of abnormality is usually diagnosed via a CT scan or other type of brain imaging—not something that would normally be part of a check-up.

“It’s possible his doctors were being very diligent about the possibility of melanoma spreading and he was getting regular scans because of that,” says Kalkanis. “Otherwise he would have to say something like, ‘I’m having trouble seeing’ or ‘I’m having trouble with my speech’ that would prompt a doctor to include a CT scan or MRI.”

As for the surgery itself, craniotomies performed in a minimally invasive way—through a tiny incision around the eyelid or eyebrow—are generally well tolerated and heal quickly. “I think they said he’d be back next week, and I would expect that to be the case,” Kalkanis says. “It sounds like things went smoothly, so I wouldn’t expect him to have any neurological issues.”

Kalkanis also says people should not jump to conclusions that McCain’s clot is related to cancer or anything that could cause lasting problems. “He’s an 80-year-old man; he could have had a small stroke or had some small trauma,” he says. “It doesn’t mean his health is in jeopardy.”

Still, Serrone says that bleeding in the skull is actually “a very serious condition and a very serious public health issue,” especially for older people. “The brain is held in this rigid skull,” he says, “and if you put something in there that does not belong, it’s going to put pressure on the brain that can cause significant damage and affect your motor power, language ability, and so forth.”

Although the cause of McCain’s blood clot is still unknown, his diagnosis can be a reminder for people to pay attention to their own neurological health, Serrone says. “If you bump your head and have any kind of strange symptoms afterward, that’s something that should be examined by a doctor—especially for patients who are on blood thinners,” he says.

How to Drink Mindfully

A few years ago, I noticed a trend among the people I socialize with. Instead of suggesting we meet for coffee, it was, “Let’s get drinks!” Maybe this was because I was hitting a phase in my life where many of my friends were also divorced and therefore had some nights “off.” Or it might have been that drinks just sound more festive than coffee…and don’t we all need more festivity? Even though I’ve never been that much of a drinker—you can always spot me at the table, the one with five ice cubes in my white wine—I found myself having drinks out a lot.

My problem is, I tend to drink the way I shop and write: fast. Of the three, drinking fast is the only one that gives me trouble. Shopping fast gets you a good white shirt in under 20 minutes, but swigging drinks gets you a following morning filled with regrets. It makes it harder to realize when your slight buzz is turning into an “Oops, I’m drunk.” I don’t abuse alcohol, but I have had vague thoughts about whether I should reframe my relationship with it.

Enter the theory of mindful drinking. It is, as its name indicates, a conscious approach to consuming alcohol. The technique has become popular in the U.K., where a group called Club Soda teaches the approach and hosts mindful-drinking pub crawls; this summer, the organization will produce its first Mindful Drinking Festival. Research shows there has been a rapid decline in drinking among young people across Britain.

Though it sounds trendy, like mindful eating and mindful breathing, mindful drinking has long been practiced by Buddhists, says Lodro Rinzler, author of the millennial life guidebook The Buddha Walks into a Bar. Buddhist monks usually can’t have alcohol or other intoxicants, he explains, “but lay practitioners today are not expected to cut out those things in the same way. In fact, in the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition, there’s an emphasis on taking things normally viewed as obstacles as part of the spiritual path, which happens to include alcohol in some ceremonies.”

And many Americans in 2017 seem to prefer an all-or-nothing approach to alcohol. “All”—well, we know what that is. Drinking to excess increases your risk of certain diseases, such as breast cancer and dementia, as well as dependence. And the number of women who say they’ve had a heavy-drinking day at least once in the past year is at an all-time high, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Only 30 percent of women who drink stay within what NIAAA defines as “low-risk” limits, which in women is no more than three drinks on any given day and no more than seven per week. The Mad Men era brought us men swigging boilermakers at noon; in the current era, women are equally comfortable with their cocktail intake, and females’ patterns of alcohol use and abuse have grown to look more like men’s, according to NIAAA research. Look to the myriad Facebook posts of “Boozy brunch!” and “Wine o’clock!” Or to the philosopher of our time, the Pinterest board, bulging with cocktail-centric memes (“Sorry I’m late…I like to arrive fashionably drunk”).

As for the “nothing,” it comes in forms like Whole30, in which people eliminate sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, and alcohol in an effort to scour their system, or #DryJanuary, where the goal is abstention for one month (January being the month after #DrinkandEatEverythingInSightDecember). Post-cleanse, enthusiasts report how great they feel: clearer-headed and with looser jeans. But for so many women, the results of such drastic change are short-lived. If you enjoy drinking and aren’t addicted but do want to approach it in a healthy way, cleansing isn’t usually a long-term fix.

We were told to take a sip and savor it—really concentrate on how it felt, how it tasted, what memories or sensations it evoked.

Rinzler promises a middle path to lasting change. First stop: his MNDFL Meditation Studio in Brooklyn, New York, where he teaches mindful-drinking classes.

The MNDFL Studio felt more like a spa than the meditation centers I’d been to in the past. No incense-mixed-with-ramen smell, but there were indoor trees and super-flattering lighting. As we settled in on our assigned cushions, I looked around at the other attendees, who were easily 15 to 20 years younger than I am, and wondered where the 40- to 55-year-olds were. Did they not want to drink mindfully, or were they just not up for leaving the house on a Monday night?

Rinzler began with a brief history of mindful drinking. Nonmonastic Buddhists wanted to be able to drink comfortably, he said, so they developed the methods that morphed into mindful drinking. “In our newly conscious world, we feel a need for help to drink more responsibly, for ourselves and those we drink with,” he said. “Anyone here ever have an awful next-day feeling after a night of overimbibing?” Quickly he was greeted with a chorus of sympathetic groans. “Come back to me when you’ve been hung-over on a class trip to the Bronx Zoo with 40 second graders,” I thought. But I mindfully opted to remain silent.

He then began the practice, showing us how to take a moment to center ourselves before we went to drink. This could be done in the car on the way to a party or in your apartment while getting ready to go to a bar. The idea was to clear your mind as much as possible of the stress of the day.

Consider the specifics of the night ahead of you, he encouraged. Who are you going to meet? What do you want to do? If you’re going to meet friends, think about how you will talk and listen, and be present for the company, and enjoy your drink. By visualizing how you want to be mindful ahead of time, you’re more likely to experience mindfulness when the lights are down, the music is soothing, and the alcohol is flowing.

Rinzler then gave us an opportunity to test his approach, directing us to file into the kitchen reception area to get a rye whiskey with ice and an orange peel. The amber tinge reminded me of whatever Lou Grant had in his desk drawer.

Of course, in real life, Rinzler pointed out, you don’t walk into a bar and get handed a drink. You would mindfully consider the choices before you. I’ve always been wary of anything new, but I decided that the next time I went to a bar I would try something with subtle flavors and unusual accoutrements. Nothing crazy, but maybe mint!

In one lesson, bartenders are told to make a Negroni, first while thinking about someone they dislike, then while thinking about someone they love. The second drink is said to taste immeasurably better than the first.

We returned to our cushions, drinks in hand, and Rinzler instructed us to first feel the drink. How did the glass feel? How about the ice? Then we sniffed the drink and thought about how it smelled. We were told to take a sip and savor it—really concentrate on how it felt, how it tasted, what memories or sensations it evoked.

Right off the bat, I hated this drink. I’m not a whiskey gal, so I didn’t feel like it was a fair test of my self-control. But it was OK: Not loving it helped me pay attention.

Next, we were teamed up to simulate a bar or party scene, because the real challenge comes when you’re in a group. I was matched with two other women, one from South Africa and one from Italy. We told stories of the first drinks we’d ever had (mine was a screwdriver—total baby drink), all the while taking mindful sips. We were instructed to really listen, not listen while thinking of what you’re going to say when the person stops talking. It was hard, but no one said consciousness is easy.

It occurred to me that when I’m in a drinking situation, I’m very aware of “the next drink” and whether I’m going to have it or not. I tend to speed up the one I’m drinking if another round is possible. When I’m drinking this way, I’m not fully present in the conversation and not being courteous to the person I’m with. I felt great relief at this epiphany and more than anything looked forward to being more aware of this with my friends.

We repeated the exercise, this time paired with a new person. We were given the option of having a second drink; I was surprised to realize I still had most of my first one in my glass. But after only a couple of sips, I did notice I was tired and tuning out. Mindfulness requires a lot of mental energy. I felt very ready to go home.

Over the next week, I practiced Rinzler’s teachings at home. I enjoyed a single beer with my boyfriend one night. The next night, at my monthly potluck dinner, I poured myself a glass of wine and carefully sipped…until a friend came in with pitchers of Cosmos and insisted I have one. I had my mindful glass of wine in one hand and my crazy-gals’-night-out Cosmo in the other. (Side note: Cosmos are tasty but strong, so if you chug them like Gatorade, you will be drunk, and if you’re drunk, you can’t be mindful.)

I mentioned my experiment to my friend Rosie Schaap, a bartender and author who has written about cocktail culture. “As a server,” she told me, “I’m aware that it’s our responsibility to be mindful as well. Look customers in the eye, ask them how they are, and really mean it. Take an interest in what they are saying.” Rosie told me about Gary (a.k.a. “Gaz”) Regan, also a bartender, who cofounded the global Institute for Mindful Bartending. In one lesson, bartenders are told to make a negroni, first while thinking about someone they dislike, then with the exact same ingredients but while thinking about someone they love. The second drink is said to taste immeasurably better than the first. Schaap pointed out that with the popularity of craft cocktails, with their fragrant, interesting ingredients and pleasing presentation, mindful drinking is even more satisfying.

All of this is well and good if you’re able to do it. If you have concerns about alcoholism, then any drinking, whether mindful or not, is ill-advised. Mindful drinking, says Rinzler, “is for people who want to have a healthy relationship with alcohol, but it’s no substitute for a recovery program. It’s born of a more pedestrian desire to change our relationship to something in our life, in the same way we might want to reevaluate our relationship to technology.”

As someone who’s been through a mindless drinking phase and now Rinzler’s session, I realize my evenings are vastly improved with these new tools. More than once after an evening out, I’ve felt a twinge of guilt—not for drinking too much but for forgetting to feel my drink or smell it or something. But there’s no question I feel physically better the next morning. It’s lovely to slow down and savor our drinks and our precious time with friends. And to realize that this mindful approach just might help me make more of life’s other pleasures as well.

Lena Dunham Claps Back at Haters by Showing off Her Latex Bodysuit and Crystal Crown

While internet trolls are spreading hate, Lena Dunham is busy feeling herself.

The Girls creator and star shared a mirror selfie on Instagram in which she poses in a racy brown latex bodysuit and a sparkling tiara, sending a message to those trying to put her down.

“It’s only important to me that people know as they’re busy tweeting bulls— about me I’m most often dressed in a latex suit and crystal crown working from home on imagining new worlds,” the 31-year-old captioned the snap.

Dunham, who was just announced to be joining American Horror Story season 7, has never shied away from standing up for herself. After years of dealing with body shaming over her weight, she found herself getting attacked for slimming down.

“I was frustrated by it, because it really was evidence that as a woman in Hollywood, you just can’t win,” Dunham said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “It’s just so crazy because I spent six years of my career being called things like ‘bag of milk’ on the internet, baby cow, aging cow.”

Dunham kicked up her fitness in the last few years, after she learned that working out helps her manage her anxiety, and started doing yoga and taking classes with celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson.

“She didn’t come to me to make her body look different, she came to me to feel better,” Anderson previously told PEOPLE. “And I think that she’s our most important influencer of our time. She came to me and when she was so vocal about how my program helped her with her OCD … for me, when people come to me from the vanity thread, I know that they have a lot of balance work to do in their bodies. So when somebody comes to me with, ‘My health matters first, I just want to feel good in my skin, I want to be healthy,’ that’s where it needs to come from. Because there’s not one specific definition of beauty and we really have to move the needle in the other direction for that.”

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