Gratitude

gratitude-2939972_640Hey Everyone!

Hope you are all doing well!

The Thanksgiving Holiday is coming up very soon here in the United States. In keeping with the Thanksgiving spirit, I wanted to write a little about gratitude.

Gratitude means different things to different people. Some people may be grateful to God while others may thank the Universe still others may be grateful to the people in their lives. Some people may express their gratitude by counting their blessings while others may take a more active approach. Some people may express their gratitude simply by savoring the special moments in their lives and not taking anything for granted.

For me personally, expressing gratitude helps put things into perspective. Whenever I am going through an especially difficult time I try to think about everything and everyone that I do have and everything that is going right in my life. As cliché as it sounds I also try to think of those that are less fortunate. Thinking about these things really helps me put my life into perspective and often I realize that my problem is not that big of a deal or it could be a lot worse.

There are countless ways of expressing gratitude. Here are a few suggestions:

If you enjoy journaling/writing feel free to dedicate a few minutes to think of (and write down) three to five things that you are thankful for. These things can be very simple things and they don’t have to be grand or extraordinary.

If you would like, you can dedicate a small journal specifically for gratitude. If you feel that this strategy might be helpful for you try to do this on a consistent basis but don’t do it so often that it becomes a chore. Studies have shown that doing this once a week is especially helpful however, feel free to do it more or less often.

Alternatively, instead of writing feel free to sit down and simply think about everything that you are grateful for. Try to set a fixed time to sit and think about everything that you’re grateful for. Or, you could think of one unhappy or ungrateful thought and replace it with a grateful thought.

As another option, choose a friend or family member as your gratitude partner. Share with each other what you’re grateful for and if one of you forgets to express gratitude the other can remind them.

Are you grateful to someone or a group of people in your life? Then, express your gratitude directly to them. This can be done through a wide variety of means. However, studies have shown that this can be particularly effective when done through phone, letter, or face to face. I personally think that in this day and age of quick emails and text messages there is something extra special and sincere about taking the time to write and send a letter of gratitude to someone.

Interestingly, studies have shown that if you write a letter but for any reason you choose not to send the letter, you will still reap the well-being benefits of gratitude.

On a final note, feel free to choose only one of the above strategies. Don’t ever force yourself to do any of these (or other) gratitude exercises. Because expressing gratitude in a fixed and consistent manner may not suit everyone. However, I truly feel that even occasionally expressing gratitude can be helpful in putting things into perspective.

Also, If you choose a strategy and after a while it feels like a chore feel free to spice it up and try another strategy instead of this one.

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

 

Simple Steps are Key

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I wanted to write this post as a reminder to myself and hopefully as a reminder to you my dear readers as well that success, well-being, and any other goal that we may have can be achieved by taking small (and consistent) steps towards the goal.

I know many people, including myself, who feel that in order to reach a goal they need to go all in and put an incredible amount of energy into reaching their goal. For some people, it is all or nothing. In some cases this type of mindset is definitely necessary.

However, most of us humans have multi-faceted lives. Each of us has several different roles and responsibilities that we have to care for and handle. Often times, we simply cannot afford (in terms of time) to put all of our energy towards achieving our goal.

I personally think that instead of trying to find a balance most of us just give up or postpone reaching our goals. This is why I believe that rather than pushing ourselves too much and then giving up it might be better to take small and consistent steps towards reaching our goals.

Here is a very basic personal example:

As some of you may know from a previous post, I always try to go out every day for a half hour walk outside in order to move and hopefully stay healthy. However, for the past few days, due to unforeseen circumstances I have been stuck inside (I have been helping to care for an ill family member. I will hopefully address this in a future post) and I haven’t been able to go outside for my daily walks.

Recently, I was feeling very out of shape and I started feeling sorry for myself. The next day, I decided to put on the radio and power walk at home for about ten minutes. Afterwards, I felt so much better and I truly felt that I had reaped most of the benefits of my daily outdoor walks. It was then that I decided to repeat this three times a day (10 minutes each). I even added going up and down a flight of stairs to include some cardio as well.

I definitely know that this was a very simple and “no-brainer” example but sometimes we are just so stuck on doing things one way that we fail to see other similar and simple ways towards reaching a goal.

With Love,

Yasmin

My Minimalism Journey

 

Hey Everyone!

 

Hope you’re all doing well!

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I am sure many of you have heard about minimalism and know what it is. To be completely honest I have come across this term many times throughout the past few years however, it was only a few months ago when I really started researching it and afterwards I realized that minimalism can definitely help make our lives a bit better.

Two of the most famous promoters of minimalism are Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of the famous blog The Minimalists . The Minimalists describe minimalism in the following way: “Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important-so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom”.

To me personally, minimalism is a way of life in which we can simplify our lives by eliminating the possessions that we no longer need and becoming a more conscious consumer by starting to really ask ourselves do we really need an item before we actually purchase it.

Minimalism may not be for everyone but I think that most people can benefit from minimalism. The reality is that minimalism is simply an idea and it is up to us to incorporate it into our lives in a way that benefits us. Basically there is no one particular type of minimalism. Based on many factors such as our age, our job, our roles within our families, etc. our type of minimalism may look very different from other minimalists.

My main motivation for embracing a minimalist lifestyle was to get rid of the junk that I no longer needed in order to have a more organized room so I can more easily find things when I need them. One fact about me is that I am absolutely horrible at finding things (especially things that I know are hidden among other stuff). Finding the things that I needed had become a source of stress and anxiety for me.

As a newly graduated college student, I had tons of papers that I no longer needed and I carefully recycled them. (As a side note: whenever you are trashing or recycling papers always make sure that you no longer need them, make sure that you don’t accidently trash important documents. Also, if the papers contain sensitive information about you its probably best if you shred these papers).

Once I had finished recycling all of the documents that I no longer needed I started going through my other possessions which for me, mainly consisted of my clothing and accessories. For me, this was definitely harder because there were some items where I couldn’t decide if I should keep them or donate them.

While following the Minimalists on various platforms I realized that for Joshua Fields Millburn, minimalism was a gradual journey and it took him several months to get rid of everything that he no longer needed.

However, Ryan Nicodemus got rid of his possessions within a few days. Nicodemus described how he actually had a packing party where he invited his friends and they helped him pack all of his possessions in boxes and for a period of time he lived mainly by only grabbing the things he needed and after a certain period of time he got rid of the things that he had packed but never used after packing them.

For me personally minimalism is a long term journey in the sense that I have gradually gotten rid of the things that I no longer need but I still have a ways to go.  One thing that has really helped me is the ninety-ninety rule. Basically if you have something and you’re not sure if you still need it or not, ask yourself if you have used it in the past ninety days or do you anticipate using it in the next ninety days. Of course, this is just a general rule that doesn’t work in every situation but it can be helpful.

Like I mentioned earlier, minimalism has made me a more conscious and aware consumer. Previously I would go to the dollar stores and purchase anything that seemed cute or seemed like it would come in handy one day. Now, I have really realized the power of creating shopping lists in which I list everything I need beforehand. If I come across something online or at the store that I want, I wait it out for a few days and if I still think that I need it then I will purchase it.

Some people may think that they can only have a set number of possessions in order to be considered a minimalist. However, this is simply not true. Minimalism is about getting rid of the excess but it is not about restricting you. Minimalism is not against material possessions it is simply about making sure that every item that you do have is of some value to you.

This post cannot do justice to this wonderful topic however, there are so many books, articles, blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos etc. on minimalism. Click here, here, here, and here to learn more about minimalism.

I hope that this post has inspired you to perhaps gradually declutter your life with the goal of making your life a bit better.

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

Here’s How Music can Cure You

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

When most of us think of music we think of it as a means of entertainment. However, the reality is that music can be so much more than entertaining, in fact, it can be used as a critical tool by medical professionals to help patients with a wide range of conditions.

Music therapy is basically the use of music to help patients with various physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs. Music therapy can be of benefit to people with dementia, brain injuries, respiratory problems, chronic pain and many other problems. 

Music therapy is not just given by random doctors and nurses there are professionals called music therapists who have rigorously studied this form of treatment. Music therapists work in a wide range settings including hospitals, community health centers, drug rehab centers, senior centers, nursing homes and schools. 

Here are just some of the ways that music therapy can help patients:

Regaining the Abillity to Move

Music therapy is very useful for patients who suffer from brain injuries such as car accidents, assaults, gun shot wounds, falls, stroke, lack of oxygen to the brain, etc. Often these patients are left with limited mobility. Rhythmic entertainment is used to help these patients gradually start to move again. 

Such patients are asked to listen to strong rhythmically accentuated music. Rhythmic entertainment works by locking the motor systems rhythm to an external auditory source. This works because there is actually a rich connection beteeen our auditory system and our motor system. We all have an “internal timekeeper” that helps us regulate our movements. When this “internal timekeeper” is damaged as a result of the injury the internal timing system can be retrained and the brain can gradually adjust itself and the patient can regain much of the lost ability. As an example the patient walks to the beat of the music starting off with slow tempo music and then gradually working their way up as their ability improves. 

Regaining the Abillity to Speak 

After certain types of brain injuries, some patients are no longer able to speak but music therapy can help them regain this vital ability. One prominent example of this is Gaby Giffords. As some of you may know Gaby Giffords was a member of the U.S. Congress who was tragically shot in the head in 2011. 

Due to damage to the language pathways in the left side of her brain Gaby Giffords was not able to speak after the injury. The good news for Gaby was that music, singing in particular, accesses language in a way that is different from talking.

Gaby started seeing a music therapist on a regular basis and she started being able to sing the words that she could not speak. After many regular sessions her brain started to reorganize and she gradually started to speak again!

Music therapy is a great tool for patients with damage to the left side of their brain because it helps the patient regain the abillity to speak by helping patients retrain their brain to use the right side of their brain to learn language. 

Reducing Effects of Dementia

Listening to music can help Dementia patients by bringing back memories and emotions. It can also reduce the stress of Dementia patients and it can help them more easily communicate with their healthcare staff. Listening to music can also help Dementia patients better interact with each other by discussing the memories and feelings evoked by the music.

With Dementia patients, songs from the patients young adult years (ages 18 to 25) are especially helpful because they’re most likely to evoke reactions and memories. However, unfamiliar music can also aid in relaxation and stress management.

Active participation in music can also be helpful for Dementia patients.  Studies have shown that Dementia patients who regularly sing have improved cognitive abillity and an increased life satisfaction. 

Easing Asthma Symptoms:

Active music therapy can be very helpful for children who suffer from asthma. One study compared the effects of asthmatic children singing to another group of asthmatic children who passively listened to music. The results showed that the group that sang had better breathing and overall more positive mood than the group that just passively listened to music. 

Playing a wind instrument can be especially helpful for asthma patients. Studies have shown that playing a wind instrument trains and improves the muscles involved in breathing. Playing a wind instrument can help asthma patients develop a relaxed breathing rhythm that can help them stay calm and focused during an asthma attack. Other studies have found that students who play wind instrument are more optimistic about their asthma and are less likely to have an athmaic episode. 

Helping Child Cancer Patients:

Studies show that music therapy music therapy has a positive effect on children who are hospitalized due to having cancer. Unfortunately, music therapy cannot cure cancer but it can improve the feelings of these young patients. Studies show that music therapy led students to have more positive feelings. Children who were more actively involved in music therapy (as judged by the music therapist) showed greater improvement. 

Basically music therapy can be effective in helping a young child cope with a tragic situation such as cancer. Some studies have shown that music therapy can improve the overall quality of life in these young cancer patients. 

Doctors and Music:

As a side note, in the healthcare field, patients are not the only ones who listen to music. A recent poll of 700 surgeons throughout the United States revealed that nearly 90 percent of them report that they listen to music in the operating room as it calms their nerves and helps increase the operating staffs morale. Of course, they do turn it down during the important parts of the operation.

It is amazing how much music therapy can truly help a wide range of patients without any of the negative side effects of some other treatments.

With Love,

Yasmin