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.

Prevention:

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,

Yasmin

Study Tips for the Successful Student

dog-734689_640Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

For many students, this time of the year marks the start of a new academic semester or quarter.

Being a successful student definitely requires a lot of hard work. Part of this hard work consists of studying for tests. In order to get the best grades possible, it is really helpful to have some good studying strategies. The following is just a short list of possible study strategies to hopefully help you earn the best grade possible.

Before Class

If you’re a new student to the campus, I would definitely recommend taking some time a day or two before classes begin to walk around campus and find the exact location of your classes just so you don’t have to worry about it during the first day of class. I personally attended UC Irvine which has a fairly large campus so at the beginning of each and every quarter I would go and find the location of my classes because it just relieved me of additional stress.

Throughout my educational life many of my teachers and professors have encouraged us students to read the textbook before class. Many of us often ignore this piece of advice. However, I think that even if you don’t read the whole chapter or section of the textbook you should at least open up the textbook. Just try to scan the major topics by reading the title of each section.

Many textbooks have bolded or highlighted words and sections so try to briefly review those areas as well. All you have to do is get a basic idea of what topics will be discussed in class.

During Class: I know that this sounds really obvious but try your best to really pay attention in class. If necessary, turn off your smartphone. Really try to absorb everything the instructor is saying. If you scanned the textbook the night before then you will hopefully be somewhat familiar with the topics.

Taking notes is essential. Many instructors nowadays have PowerPoint or other material that they can place on a screen for the whole class to view. However, these may not contain all the information or some areas may be rather vague. It is your job as a student to really take good notes. You don’t have to write every word down rather just try to get the main ideas. If the instructor does use PowerPoint quickly skim the slide and see what you don’t understand or what is missing and try to fill it in with what the instructor verbally states.

Many students at my university have laptops. I see quite a number of students scrolling through their social media sites or their favorite online stores during lectures. If you do this on a regular basis you are truly doing a disservice to yourself. You could potentially miss out on valuable information that might be on the test. Also, if you’re a university student who has to pay for their education (as is the case here in the United States) you are literally wasting your money if you don’t pay attention in class.

After Class: During the student orientation of my university one of the professors was giving us his study tips and one of the things that he said was: “The time you should start studying is immediately after class”. Although this may not be possible for everyone I think that he makes a very important point. You should definitely try to study as soon as possible when the material is still fresh in your mind and studying during this time will further cement the information in your brain.

 

Don’t Procrastinate: Most students have several classes to study for. Undoubtedly some classes will be harder than others. However, it is very important that you set aside a specific amount of time dedicated to studying every day. Also, you can use your own judgment to decide how long you should study for each class. As a general rule for every hour of lecture you should study two hours outside of class during the whole week. As a psychology major one of the things that I learned in my human memory course is that in order to best absorb the material it is not just enough to spend a lot of time right before the test to review the material. Rather, the best strategy is to spend frequent intervals of time studying the material. Basically, rather than studying for a test in one cram study session it is best to spread out your study time.

Break it into Pieces Let’s say you have to memorize something like the periodic table for a test. It is very helpful to break it up and try to memorize a few columns or rows at a time. Each day make sure that you have really learned the previous days’ material before going on.

Reviewing Notes While reviewing your notes it might be helpful to bring a few extra pieces of paper and a pen and start re-writing the most difficult parts of your notes. I have heard from many people who swear by this strategy. In fact, research does support this idea.

Avoid Distraction and Block Noise: Nowadays, for many students their smartphone is most often a huge source of distraction. As a good student, do whatever you have to in order to avoid the large number of distractions that can arise from your smartphone. I understand that you can’t just turn it off all the time but try keep it at a distance and only quickly check for calls or important texts at set intervals of time. If your phone has a Do Not Disturb or a similar option consider using it to limit distractions.

Ideally, I would recommend studying in a quiet location such as a library. However, sometimes this is just not possible. When I was a student, sometimes even studying in my own bedroom was a challenge because my teenage brothers would be making a lot of noise across the hall. One possible solution would be to invest in purchasing noise-cancelling headphones. I personally have not tried these so I can’t give you a recommendation but I have found a great review of some of these

Reviews.com has a really informative review of 13 well-known headphones and in their review, they share their top two choices. What makes their review especially credible is that they have consulted with audio engineers and audiologists and they took many factors such as the right way of blocking sound, the sound quality, comfort and the right fit into consideration.

Chill Out After a period of studying give yourself a break. Get a bite to eat. Try to get some fresh air. Try to do something that is truly relaxing for you. Just a word of caution, be careful with YouTube. If you’re like me and you love YouTube one “quick” video can lead to many others and before you know it you’ve gone well past your rest period.

Sleep Whenever you have an exam coming up make sure that you get plenty of sleep the night before. College students sometimes take pride in “pulling an all nighter”. They think that they have done something great by studying instead of sleeping. However, research has shown that not getting enough sleep can lead to a decrease in performance and an increase in stress.

Exam Time:

When it’s exam time, aside from studying, there are a few things that you can do the night before to ease the process. If you will be using a scantron, fill out your name and any other details on the scantron the night before. Also, pack your scantron, pens, pencils, erasers and any other things you may need into your bag so you don’t forget them in the morning. While you’re at it, pick out your wardrobe the night before just so its ready and you don’t have to worry about it!

With Love,

Yasmin

Here are Three Things That Won’t Make You Happier

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I truly believe that deep down each and every one of us wants to be happy and I believe that ultimately we make many of the decisions in our lives with the hope that someday it will bring us some form of happiness.

Most of us have certain beliefs about what will make us happy. Some of the things that we believe will make us happy may indeed increase our happiness however, other things may not.

If you are in the search for happiness here are some of the things that research has shown that will not help you reach long term happiness.

Money

I know that this sounds cliche but money really cannot buy happiness. One research study showed that high income earners are not significantly happier than middle class income earners.

Obviously, we all need money to pay for shelter and our basic needs and then having some extra money can help us live a comfortable life. However, I think that one of the problems with money is that most people who start making lots of money never reach a point when they are satisfied with the amount of money they have. This is potentially dangerous because for some people the pursuit of money and riches becomes the purpose of their life.

I think most of us know that money by itself will not make us happy. But we feel that having lots of money helps us buy or gain the things that we want and this will make us happy. The reality is that material possessions only bring short term happiness. When we first buy something we may be excited and happy but after a while we get used to the item or something even better comes out and we often take the version of the item that we have previously bought for granted.

Material possessions may not bring lasting happiness but there is one way in which money can buy happiness. A research study has shown that after people have their basic needs met if they have extra money to spend on time saving services such as a housekeeper they will be happier. The reason is that they will have more freedom to spend their time as they wish.

Too Many Choices

This may be slightly shocking to some people but research has shown that when most people are given too many options or choices to choose from they often become exhausted and unhappy. Social Psychologists often refer to this phenomenon as tyranny of freedom or choice overload.

I know personally when I am shopping online I feel overwhelmed by all the choices that I see that I have to choose from. Even when I want to sit back, relax and watch a TV show I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of shows that are available. I don’t even have traditional cable so my TV viewing options are fairly limited but still there is just too much choice on Netflix!

On a more serious note though, we humans have a cognitive reserve that is limited and we can only make so many decisions until we run out of energy and we ideally stop for the day or we continue and risk making impaired decisions. The problem with choice overload is that we can easily deplete our cognitive reserve by making trivial decisions before we make the tougher decisions.

I think that this quote from former president Obama helps to explain this idea:“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits… I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Personally, what I like to do is every night before bed I choose my outfit for the next day and I basically get everything ready so that in the morning I don’t have to make any trivial decisions. Getting everything ready the night before really helps ease my morning routine and occasionally if I do wake up a little later I am less stressed than I would otherwise be.

Having More Friends or Followers on Social Media

I know this one is probably a pretty obvious one but having more friends or followers on social media will most likely not lead to you becoming any happier.

One particular study divided frequent Facebook users into two groups. One group continued to use Facebook as frequently as they usually did and another group was asked to take a one week break from a Facebook. The results showed that the group that took a one week break were happier and less stressed.

I think that the problem with social media is that we the social media users often tend to compare our lives with the lives of others and we often come to the conclusion that our lives are not as great as the lives of these other people. We become unappreciative of all that we do have. We often forget that most people only post the highlights or the best moments of their lives on social media.

I am a social media user myself and I would not go so far as to say that we should completely stop using social media. I believe that social media has many benefits as well. I have family that live all across the world and social media has helped us connect in a way that may not have been possible without it.

Also, social media has played a role in many positive movements across the world as well and I often see images and videos of people that are going through such difficult times and while these images are extremely hard to see I become aware of their struggles and I become immensely grateful for everything that I do have.

My humble piece of advice would be to first of all try to establish or strengthen relationships that you have in real life outside of social media because these are the people that are more likely going to come to your aid during difficult times.

Also, go through your social media accounts and simply unfollow accounts or people that make you feel bad about yourself or they just don’t add value to your life.

Always remember that social media is just a means of connecting and interacting with others but ideally it should not be the only way that we interact with each other.

A Final Note on Happiness

Life definitely consists of many ups and downs and it’s impossible to always feel content or happy. It turns out that accepting the fact that we are not always going to be happy is actually good for our overall well-being.

Research has shown that the pursuit of happiness does not lead to more joy. An Australian research study asked participants to what extent is being happy important to them. Then they were asked to keep a journal of all the stressful events that occur in their lives and and write how it made them feel.

The results showed that those who highly valued happiness felt more lonely during these stressful times.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the desire to feel happy and joyous however, if the desire for these positive feelings and emotions becomes obsessive then it will lead to more emotional pain rather than joy and happiness.

With Love,

Yasmin

Here’s How Take-Out Food is Harming the Environment

coffee-drink-2433133_640Hey Everyone,

Hope you’re all doing well!

We all know that most of the take-out food that we purchase from restaurants (to eat at home or in the office) is bad for our health. However, research has shown that our take-out habit is also harmful to the environment as well.

For example, here in the U.S. if you go to your local fast food place to order some food to go, you will notice that along with your order, you will receive lots of extra napkins, plastics, utensils, paper or plastic bags, and packaged condiments.

Some of the extra stuff that comes with take-out is recyclable however, most of it is just waste. These bags and wrappers may seem insignificant, but here in the U.S. packaging makes up the largest category of local waste.

On top of this, single use items such as napkins, plastic utensils, etc. make up 10 percent of all waste. Obviously, the problem is not just limited to take-out food.

The larger problem is that 29 percent of our greenhouse gas comes from how we make, consume, and dispose of stuff. It takes a lot of energy to make single use items that we only use for such a short amount of time and we then trash out.

Without a doubt, recycling is great but for the sake of global sustainability our long term goal should be focused on minimizing our waste by reducing the amount of single use items we use and focusing on using reusable items.

Quick Tips:

There are a few important steps that we as individuals can take to reduce our waste. The following are just a few of the examples.

  • A large number of universities and hospitals have started using reusable take out containers for people who eat at their cafeteria. The way it works is that once you enter a cafeteria you check out a reusable food container (much like you check out a book from the library) you use it and once you have finished your meal you return the container to a designated area so they can wash them. It definitely may take a while for this to become a widespread trend but if you’re going out for a meal consider taking your own reusable container so you can store your leftovers in it.
  • Plastic water bottles are a huge problem. Around the world people buy around one million plastic water bottles every minute and most of these eventually land in the landfill or in the ocean. Without a doubt, if the only thing that we all do is start carrying a BPA free reusable water bottle, we would be significantly decreasing the amount of waste.
  • When you go shopping consider taking your own reusable shopping bag to reduce the use of plastic bags. Here in California we have a law that requires this because it now costs 10 cents for each plastic bag. At first, I have to admit, it was inconvenient but as time has gone by we have become used to it.
  • You can often cut the amount of packaging by buying stuff in bulk.
  • When at home stop using disposable plates. I actually know a few people who use disposable plates at home because they feel it is easier and they feel that they are saving water. I live in drought stricken California so I understand their point but I think that the amount of waste that accumulates in the long term is not worth the potential water saved.
  • In the kitchen, many people suggest using cloth instead of paper towels. I admit I don’t do this as much as I should but this can definitely help cut back on paper towel and napkin waste.
  • If you get a lot of junk mail in your mailbox consider calling and cancelling as much of it as possible. I know that this is inconvenient but in the long term you will reap its benefits. Once again, I have to admit I don’t do this but I do try to make good use of the junk mail by using it as a cover under my birds cage to hold their droppings. I need a sheet of paper each day for them so instead of using other paper I use the junk mail.
  • Finally, a lot of people suggest buying used clothing and other products instead of new ones. Consider visiting your local thrift store and you might be surprised at what you can find! I once found a small Burberry bag for $3 at my local thrift shop. Of course, now thanks to technology their are a lot of online options as well!

These were just a few of my suggestions so please feel free to let me know of any recycling or reusing tips that you may have in the comments section below!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

Three Goal Setting Tips for the New Year

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

If you’re anything like me, as New Year’s approaches, you get excited and come up with at least a few New Year’s resolutions but soon after the New Year you give up on or forget about your New Years resolutions.

If you think about it, New Years resolutions are like goals that we set up for ourselves and of course, our goals are whatever we are trying to accomplish.

It is very important that we never give up on setting goals for ourselves because psychological studies have shown that people who set goals for themselves perform better on tasks in comparison to people who have not set goals for themselves.

Setting goals can definitely lead to improved performance but only if we set the right type of goals. In order to be effective, each goal has to be moderately difficult, specific, and in harmony with your own needs and desires.

Make Sure Your Goals are Moderately Difficult

As you have probably guessed, goal difficulty is based on how hard it is to accomplish the goal. Research has shown that the more difficult a goal is the better performance outcome it will likely have. The reason behind this is because more difficult goals require more effort and persistence. The more difficult the goal is the more effort you have to put into achieving it. Difficult goals also enable us to become persistent because we are motivated to keep working towards our goal and constantly putting effort into the goal until we finally achieve it.

Obviously, I believe that goals should be moderately (and reasonably difficult) for example, I, as someone who is pretty lazy and can barely climb a hill, should probably not count on climbing a mountain anytime too soon.

Make Sure You are Setting Specific Goals

It is also really important to set really specific goals that tell you exactly what you need to do. Let’s say that you have an upcoming exam and your goal is to simply study a lot. It’s a great goal to have but its not a very specific goal because studying a lot can mean different things to different people. A better alternative would be to plan out the steps you need to do such as read the chapter, take notes, review the notes, etc. Specific goals are really helpful because they take away any ambiguity and help us focus our attention on what we need to do in order to reach our goal.

Set Goals that You Believe In:

Finally, when it comes to setting goals make sure that you are setting goals to accomplish things that you are genuinely interested in and/or things that you feel will truly improve your life. Do you want to lose weight? If you’re thinking about a future career do you want to be a doctor? When setting goals consciously ask yourself, do you really want to accomplish this task or is this something that society respects. Not everything that society respects is bad or wrong but we need to make sure that we preserve our own individuality as well!

Goal setting is such a huge topic and this is just the tip of the iceberg but I hope these tips are of some help to you the next time you want to set a goal!

With Love,

Yasmin