A Bit About Depression

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

As someone who has studied psychology in college I have read and heard quite a lot about depression. I am a firm believer that antidepressants should not be the first option in treating depression. However, I hope that by the end of this quick post I can convince you that antidepressants should not be completely avoided either.

First of all, a person is diagnosed with major depression when they have been in a depressed mood for more than two weeks. Specific symptoms of major depression include some of the following:

  • loss of interest in activities they normally enjoy
  • weight loss/gain
  • trouble concentrating
  • guilt
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • worthlessness
  • suicidal ideation

Depression can impact a person’s social life, career, and/or performance in school. A family history of depression can slightly increase one’s risk of depression. However, there are a number of environmental  factors that can contribute to depression as well:

  • history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • major life events such as the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job
  • other mental illnesses or other physical ailments
  • history of, or current, substance abuse.

Of course, taking antidepressants is not the only effective treatment option for depression. Effective alternatives include physical exercise, psychotherapy, and in extreme case electroconvulsive therapy or ECT.

Physical exercise can increase endorphins, which can counteract the symptoms of depression. Research has shown that physical exercise can also improve overall brain health by promoting the birth of new neurons.

Psychotherapy, where the depressed person talks to a mental health professional, can help the depressed person change their negative thoughts and actions and replace them with positive ones. Psychotherapy can also help people find better ways to cope and solve their problems. Research has shown that psychotherapy can be just as effective as antidepressants for people with moderate to severe depression. Overall, psychotherapy is especially beneficial to people who experience depression due to the challenges or difficulties they’ve faced in the earlier days of their life.

In extreme cases where no other treatment option including antidepressants, has worked Electroconvulsive therapy or ECT can be used. During the ECT procedure, the patient is given general anesthesia and then a series of small electrons are passed through their brain and this purposefully triggers a seizure. ECT impacts the neurotransmitters in the brain to help relieve symptoms of depression. For many patients this is only a temporary option.

What some people may not know about depression is that aside from affecting our moods and behaviors it also negatively impacts the biology of our brain. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released by the body during times of physical and mental stress. However, in people with major depression excessive amounts of cortisol are released and sent to the brain.

In the long term excessively high levels of cortisol in the brain can lead to a wide range of problems. Some of these include:

  • slowing down the birth of new neurons
  • memory problems
  • shrinking the prefrontal cortex (which is responsible for regulating emotions and making decisions)
  • High cortisol levels also increase the size of the amygdala which is responsible for emotional responses. This can lead to sleep disturbances and it can cause the body to release irregular amounts of hormones and other chemicals.
  • High levels of cortisol also decrease the brains structural plasticity (which is the brains ability to adapt to different situations).

The reality is that for many people depression is not limited to constantly feeling sad. For some people depression is caused by biological changes in their brain and for many people if depression is left untreated, in the long-term it can cause potentially irreversible damage to the brain.

Unfortunately, physical exercise, psychotherapy and ECT cannot prevent or improve the biological causes and the long-term biological damage that is associated with untreated major depression.

Once again, if someone is diagnosed with depression they should most definitely try physical exercise, psychotherapy, or any other non-prescription remedy. However, after a certain period of time if these other remedies don’t work it might be time to try an antidepressant.

For those that are wondering about the effectiveness of antidepressants, the latest research has shown that compared to a placebo (in a scientific experiment a non-drug  sugar pill that is presented to the patient as an antidepressant) the actual antidepressant are significantly more effective in treating depression. Of course, some antidepressants are more effective than others and only a doctor can correctly prescribe the right medication for you.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most people with depression do not get the help and treatment that they need. In developed nations only one in six people receive treatment for depression and in the developing nations its only one in twenty-seven people. If you do suffer from depression, please make sure to reach out for help regardless of which treatment option you choose, never leave depression untreated.

I know that for many people this is much easier said than done because unfortunately,  here in the United States not everyone has access to a mental health professional and going to visit one can be very expensive. These are systemic problems that the government and those with power have the responsibility of fixing.

Aside from exercise here are some free mental health resources.

With Love,



10 Uses of Coconut Oil

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

A few weeks ago, I posted about some of the benefits of coconut oil for hair. Since that post received a lot of positive feedback I thought I would create another post about some of the benefits of coconut oil for the skin and skin related conditions. As a reminder, in all of these cases its best to use virgin organic and unrefined coconut oil.


Coconut oil is a great skin moisturizer. A little bit goes a long way so just take a dime sized amount and rub it on your face or on any rough or dry patch of skin.

Coconut oil actually has a small amount of SPF sun protection (like around SPF 4) so if you’re going to be inside during the day, coconut oil can help protect your skin from some of the harmful radiation from the sun that might for example, come through the window. However, obviously it is no substitute for sunscreen.

Coconut Oil and Acne:

If you have acne prone skin I would recommend approaching coconut oil with caution because some people claim that coconut oil makes then breakout but then others argue that coconut oil can actually help with acne due to its antibacterial properties.


People of all ages who suffer from eczema, including babies and toddlers, can benefit from coconut oil. All you have to do is rub a small amount on the affected area or as a preventative measure rub some of the oil on areas that generally tend to flare up.

Ideally the best time to do this is after a shower or bath. Coconut oil can help with eczema due to the fact that it has vital nutrients such as lauric acid, caprylic acid, and vitamins E and K. Coconut oil can really help ease the itchiness associated with eczema.


Its important to mention that you should always wear a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to prevent a sunburn. However, if you do get a sunburn the first thing you should do is apply a cool damp towel on the sunburn for around 15 minutes to hopefully cool down the skin and ease the burning sensation.

After a few hours have passed, apply some coconut oil to the affected area. The coconut oil can prevent the sunburned area from becoming excessively dry and it may even speed up the healing process.

Mosquito Bites:

If you get a mosquito bite or other bug bite, consider applying some coconut oil to the affected area. It can protect the affected area from bacteria and it can help quickly stop the itching and reduce swelling. It is best to use warm coconut oil so it penetrates faster and reapply two to three times a day until symptoms improve.

Lip Care:

If you’re like me and you have dry chapped lips, coconut oil can be a great natural alternative to most lip balms that contain alcohol. At night, you can dab a small amount on your lips and overtime you will wake up to softer and more moisturized lips.

Alternatively, you can mix one tablespoon of melted coconut oil with two tablespoons of brown sugar to create an easy and effective lip scrub to exfoliate your lips.

Also, the MCT, or the good fats in coconut oil can help speed up the healing process of cold sores. Or, alternatively, if you feel a cold sore is about to pop out rub some coconut oil on the area to prevent it from getting larger.

Fungal Infections:

The lauric acid and caprylic acid in coconut oil help fight many different types of fungal infections. Just cleanse and dry the area and apply warm coconut oil and massage it in. For more severe cases, consider adding a drop of tea tree oil to the coconut oil and then apply to the affected area.

Make-up remover:

Coconut oil is very helpful in removing make-up from the face. It is especially useful in removing stubborn eye make-up. It can even remove waterproof mascara.

Shaving Cream:

Coconut oil is a great all-natural shaving cream. Just apply warm coconut oil onto your legs and make sure to spread it evenly over the area you will be shaving. Then, just shave the area and if you take a shower afterward your legs will feel extra soft and smooth.

Cracked Heels:

Coconut oil can help soften and heal the rough skin on your heels. First, while you’re in the shower use a pumice stone or any other exfoliator to slough off some of the dead skin and then rub coconut oil onto your heels once or twice a day.

A few additional uses:

Mouthwash: thanks to its antibacterial properties you can take a spoonful of coconut oil and swish it in your mouth for a few minutes to help freshen your breath and fight bacteria.

Coconut oil is also great for gum health. Just massage the oil onto your gums for a few minutes to prevent gum damage.

My father was taking a medication that can cause gum damage as a side effect. He found that rubbing coconut oil helped decrease the damage of the medication on his gums.

Coconut oil is also great for your nails and cuticles. The fatty acids in coconut oil can lead to healthy nails and cuticles. It can also help strengthen weak and brittle nails and thanks to its anti-fungal properties coconut oil can help prevent nail fungus.

You may have never considered rubbing coconut oil on your armpits but the coconut oil can act as a natural deodorant. It won’t prevent you from sweating but thanks to its antibacterial properties it can kill the bacteria that causes the bad smell.

A Word of Caution:

Without a doubt, there are many great topical uses of coconut oil. However, it is important to mention that the American Heart Association warns against eating a lot of coconut oil. This is because coconut oil consists of 80 percent saturated fat which is more than lard or butter. Saturated fat can increase bad cholesterol so its best to limit your intake of coconut oil.

I really hope you found these tips to be helpful!

With Love,


Five Tips for Optimizing Your Smartphone

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I feel that most people who own a smartphone use it throughout the day every day.

I definitely believe that excessive use of our smartphones can potentially harm our physical and mental well-being.

On the other hand, smartphones often do help us stay connected to our friends and family and the world around us.

Without a doubt, smartphones do have their pros and cons however, in this post I would just like to share a few simple tips for optimizing your smartphone experience.

Cover it:

If you’re clumsy like me I would definitely recommend investing in a good case to make sure that if an accident happens and you drop your phone, its not completely damaged. If you have an iPhone or any other phone with a large glass screen I would also recommend getting a screen protector just to ensure extra protection. I cannot count how many people I have seen who have accidently shattered their screens. The initial investment in a good case and screen protector can definitely be worth it in the long run.

Battery Saving Tips:

In order to make sure that your phone is always charged you can invest in a portable charger, which is basically a battery power bank which you can insert the USB of your charger and charge your phone without an outlet. However, there also a number of free ways to increase the battery life of your phone:

  • Always make sure to close power draining apps and tabs.
  • Even if your phone has 80 or 90 percent charge try to put your phone in low power mode so it increases the battery life.
  • If you’re in a hurry but you do have access to an outlet, put your phone in airplane mode so that it charges faster.

Consider adjusting the settings of your phone. For example, you can tinker the email setting so it doesn’t automatically update and you can adjust the settings so that your apps do not automatically update.


Some apps and websites require us to put in our passwords before being able to access the app or site. However, if you have different passwords for different sites (which you really should because it’s a bad idea to use one password for everything) you might occasionally forget your password.

One possible option is to download a password manager app on your smartphone. You use one password to access this app and this app manages all of your other passwords and it can autofill your passwords whenever you need them.

When you’re trying to create a password, a longer password is often safer than a shorter one. In order to make the password easier to remember choose chunks of data to make it easier to remember. Also, the more crazy or exotic your password is the more likely you will be to remember it.

Tune Down Distractions:

The best solution to avoid the distractions of your smartphone is probably to turn it off completely or hide it far away or even in another room when you are trying to get work done. However, other options include turning on the Do Not Disturb button if you have an iPhone or putting it on airplane mode.

Likewise, if you’re like me and you don’t even turn off your phone at night you can put it in airplane mode, preferably 20 to 30 minutes before bed. This way your sleep will not be disrupted and when you wake up in the morning you will only see the time and you won’t be distracted by a barrage of notifications.

Keep It Clean:

I know this sounds quite gross but studies have found that often times our smartphones have as much as ten times more germs than public toilet seats!

The average adult touches their eyes, noise or mouth an average of 16 times an hour and this could lead to a variety of potentially dangerous germs being transmitted onto their phones. Some of the viruses that can be transmitted are the flu virus, viruses that can lead to the common cold, noroviruses that can lead to diarrhea and vomiting, and the E. Coli virus.

As scary as this sounds, the good news is that the solution is fairly simple and straightforward. All you have to do is clean your smartphone at least once a week to prevent the buildup of nasty germs and viruses. I personally prefer using pre-moistened anti-bacterial wipes however, please do some research to make sure that you do not accidently damage your phone during the cleaning process. Click here for a helpful article.

I am definitely not tech savvy but I do hope you found these tips to be helpful.

With Love,



Deep Work: How to be More Productive

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

If you’re anything like me, you sit down with the intention of getting some work done and then before you know it, you’re tempted to check your phone and then once you grab your phone, its hard to put it down!

Even if you’re focusing on your work, you may hear or see a constant string of notifications or messages and you may then be tempted to respond and in many cases you do stop working and respond to these notifications or messages.

Unfortunately, every time we respond to an email/text or every time we google something while we are working on a cognitively demanding task, we pay a small price. In the moment we may not notice the price but overtime, it adds up. Basically, every time we are distracted by technology, it takes us longer to go back to being focused on the task we were working on and overtime this affects our creativity and it prevents us from reaching our cognitive potential. This phenomenon is known as attention residue.

Social scientists have tested this idea of attention residue in their labs. They gave their subject a task to do and then at some point they distract the subject by briefly making them look at something else, etc. When they then turn back to the cognitively demanding task , their performance decreases and it drops for a while.

I was recently listening to a podcast interview with Cal Newport, who is a computer science professor at Georgetown University. He has come up with the concept of deep work.

Deep work is an almost flow like state of work where we are only focused and concentrated on our work without letting anything distract us.

Cal Newport has written a book on deep work and in the podcast, he gave some of the following suggestions for how we can achieve deep and meaningful work:

Limit Social Media:

Newport claims that he has never had a social media account. He is not necessarily completely against the idea of social media, its just that he feels if he were to have a social media account it would take too much of his time.

For me personally, as a blogger and as someone who has family all over the world, social media is very important and I don’t plan on giving it up. In order to avoid wasting too much time on social media I would suggest choosing a specific part(s) of the day where you can check social media and I would suggest setting up a time limit as well.

Organizing Your Time:

Before starting your work, its important to create a daily schedule in which you plan out your day. Newport mentions that he works during very set hours during the day. One point that really resonated with me is that he mentioned: “I don’t let my mood dictate how my day unfolds”. Newport also mentions that great creative thinkers approach their time like accountants. They’re very structured and systematic with their time and they produce the most unstructured creative works.

Being Comfortable with Annoying People:

Okay, so this is one of the hardest tips for me to apply to my own life because when someone reaches out to contact me I almost always try to reply as soon as possible. Newport explains that he is someone who is very bad at responding back to others and he has set this expectation that he is simply unavailable most of the time. He admits that this has occasionally become a problem for him but ultimately it allows him to have a lot of time to focus on his deep work.

Although this tip may not be applicable to everyone’s lives I do think that taking the time to reply to texts, emails, comments, etc. should be incorporated into our daily schedule. By setting up a specific time we can still be social without damaging our work concentration.

Ratio of Deep Work vs. Shallow Work:

Not everyone works in a profession where they can dedicate long hours to deep work. Newport suggests talking to your boss or supervisor explaining to them what deep work is and then asking them how much time you should dedicate to deep work and eventually once your work is optimized your boss will see the benefits and this could potentially improve the workplace culture.

Reconfiguring Peoples Expectations and Channels of Communication:

You might be wondering, when you’re in deep work what happens if there is an emergency were someone needs to reach you? Or, what happens if you work in a very client-based environment. Newport suggests that some effort and creativity need to be used in order come up with different ways of communicating. For example, this can include creating an emergency number or a client email with someone there to respond at all times.

Shutdown Properly:

At the end of every work day it is absolutely vital to stop working and spend plenty of time relaxing and unwinding, with your family or however you choose to unwind. Sometimes, even after we have stopped working, its difficult to stop thinking about work. Newport suggests coming up with a mantra to help you stop thinking about work. Newport admits that his mantra: “Schedule Shutdown Complete” is slightly nerdy but it works for him.

Benefits of Deep Work:

Deep work and the ability to really focus on the current task is important to students and to many people who work in a knowledge-based economy where most workers rely more on their brain than their physical body for their jobs.

Deep work can also add meaning and joy to our lives. Studies have shown that people who are engaged in deep work end up being happier. People who spend a lot of their professional time concentrating on their work tend to enjoy their work more.

With Love,



Coconut Oil for Healthier Hair!

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

If you’re interested in improving the health or texture of your hair, there are literally hundreds of products out there, some that work better than others. However, if you’re interested in using an all-natural product then in my opinion the number one product would be coconut oil.

Coconut oil is very helpful in helping your hair to become healthier and shinier. Many people from the Indian sub-continent, at least partially, attribute their luscious locks to coconut oil. In fact, the gorgeous Priyanka Chopra swears by this oil.

Hair Benefits of Coconut Oil:

  • Strengthens hair strands
  • Adds shine to the hair
  • Fights frizz by moisturizing the hair
  • Fights dandruff thanks to its antibacterial properties.
  • It’s an all-natural product without any harmful ingredients.

Additionally, according to a study by the Journal of Cosmetic Science, coconut oil can strengthen the hair shaft because it can reach deep levels of the scalp.

How to Use Coconut Oil:

It is best to purchase virgin cold pressed coconut oil. Depending on the temperature, the oil will either be in a solid or liquid state. When you’re getting ready to apply the oil on your hair it is best to use it in its liquid state so if its solid feel free to warm it up so it becomes liquid.

Before you start applying the oil make sure that you’re wearing something that you don’t mind getting dirty because this can be a messy process.

First of all, to reap the full benefits you should rub the oil on dry hair. Start rubbing the oil between your fingers and then rub your hair from the roots to the ends. Most people say you should focus only on the ends of your hair but I personally make sure to rub the oil throughout my hair including my scalp as well. I find that this makes my hair shinier and helps keep the dandruff away. If you have excessively oily hair than you might want to avoid the roots but in most cases your shampoo should remove most of the oil.

By the time you have finished applying the coconut oil your hair should look wet (just like you came out of the shower) In order to make sure the oil is fully absorbed you should leave it on overnight to wash it out in the morning. Obviously, you might want to wear a night cap or put a cloth over your pillow to avoid getting the oil on your bed.

If you’re not able to apply the oil at night then just feel free to apply the oil during the day and let it sit for a minimum of 45 minutes before washing it out in the shower.

Caution: While this treatment works for many people, it may not work for everyone. Additionally, Coconut oil interacts with Keratin products so do not use this treatment if you’re currently using keratin products on your hair.

For best results, use this product once a week. Also, be patient, it may take a number of months to see all of the benefits of this treatment.

With Love,


Water and Other Blessings

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

This post might be a little bit all over the place but I just wanted to share some things that have been on my mind lately.

I know this might sound a little weird but lately I have been thinking a lot about water.  I think it all started when I heard that the beautiful city of Cape Town, South Africa is about to run out of water in as little as three months. I just found it so shocking that a large city of nearly four million people would run out of water so quickly. I cannot even imagine how much of a nightmare it would be for the people and government of Cape Town if Day Zero becomes a reality.

And then yesterday I was listening to NPR news on the radio and there was a story that UNICEF reported that the majority of the children that are dying in impoverished and war torn nations are not dying from bombs and bullets rather they are dying due to a lack of access to safe and clean water.

These two stories really made me realize that often we take the things that we have for granted. Whenever I get thirsty I go grab my cup and put it under the water filter in our kitchen and thank God in a matter of seconds I am able to drink a cup of safe and clean water but it breaks my heart that millions of innocent children do not have access to this most basic human necessity.

Also, the Cape Town story has really reminded me to be more mindful of how I use water and it has encouraged me to try to avoid wasting water. I think this is especially important for me and all others living in drought stricken areas to start implementing water saving strategies because some reports are suggesting that other large drought stricken cities, such as Los Angeles, should also be careful.

In the mornings, I usually like to listen to the news on the radio and recently I heard a story about the increasing number of homeless people here in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Once again, this story really pulled at my heart strings because it reminded me that there are people that are suffering right in my own backyard. To make matters worse the story added that the local authorities were basically trying to kick out the homeless people from the encampments they had created and in the process they were throwing away many of the basic possessions that these homeless people had with them. Its tragic that in one of the most affluent parts of the world there are still people that are suffering.

On another note, my heart goes out top my parents homeland, Afghanistan. More than 130 people have died in the past two weeks due to various terrorist attacks. Yes the story has been covered by the news media but unfortunately I haven’t seen an outpouring of support on social media. I think that, God forbid, if this were to happen to a Western nation then there would have been a larger outpouring of condolences and support.

To be completely honest I don’t blame anyone I just think that people have gotten so used to hearing about tragedies in war torn nations such as Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, etc. that they’ve become desensitized to it. We assume that these tragedies are just a common part of life in these nations but we often forget that these people are human beings just like us and they have similar dreams and aspirations and for them this unnecessary and inhumane death and destruction is just as painful.

I certainly hope that this post doesn’t make anyone too sad rather my goal is to remind myself first and then my dear readers that sometimes we are stuck in our own bubble as they say. We are often so focused on our own problems and we focus on what we lack rather than all that we have been blessed with.

With Love,




Tips for Fighting Bad Breath

toothbrush-571741_640Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I think its safe to assume that no one wants to have bad breath but sometimes it can happen to anyone. In fact, according to Prevention magazine 50 percent of people suffer from bad breath at one point or another.

If you’re worried that your breath is not as fresh as you’d like, lick the back of your hand, then smell that hand. If it smells bad then you know that the odor is likely coming from your mouth. An alternative would be to fill a cup with water and then blow onto the water and then check to see if there is an odor.


There are many things that you can do to prevent bad breath from occurring in the first place.

  • Obviously, having good oral hygiene can go a long way in preventing bad breath. Make sure to follow the common advice of brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day.
  • The buildup of sulfur on the tongue can cause bad breath so make sure to brush your tongue as well. In fact, a study showed that brushing the tongue reduced sulfur compounds by a third.
  • Brushing twice a day is a must but every time you eat a snack or a meal try to go rinse your mouth to quickly remove most of the food particles.
  • If you know you will be having close face to face interactions, try to avoid eating onions, garlic, and anything with sugar. The problem with sweet treats is that they increase the bacteria that causes bad breath.

Home Remedies:

If you do suffer from bad breath there are a few simple things that you can do at home to eliminate the odor.

  • Make sure to sip water throughout the day. A dry mouth is a breeding ground for the bacteria that causes bad breath.
  • Most dentists recommend renewing your toothbrush every three months because consistent use may cause the bristles to become less effective at removing food residue and bacteria from the teeth. I know this is pretty obvious but don’t share your toothbrush with anyone because this can lead to a host of other dental problems.
  • An alternative to the toothbrush is the miswak. The miswak is basically like an all-natural toothbrush that you can use without toothpaste. The miswak is a twig that is extracted from the roots and barks of the Salvadora Persica or Arak tree. Thanks to its nutrients, such as, fluorine, Vitamin C, Potassium, Sodium, etc. and its antibacterial properties the miswak can maintain and/or improve oral health. You don’t have to give up on the traditional toothbrush but consider using the miswak as a complimentary method of oral hygiene. This video does a great job of teaching you how to prepare the miswak twig as a toothbrush.

Medical Causes and Options:

If you’ve tried some of the above tips and you still suffer from this problem here are a few additional tips:

  • If you take any sort of prescription medication read the pamphlet of information that comes with the medication to see if bad breath is a side effect of a medication. Consider visiting your doctor to evaluate your options.
  • Try to visit a dentist at least once a year (ideally twice a year) for a dental cleaning. Even if you have good oral hygiene the dentist can help remove some of the more stubborn residue that you may not be able to see. The dentist can check your oral health and let you know of any possible problems that you may not have been aware of.


I hope you find these tips helpful.


With Love,