Quick Tip: Sleep But Don’t Track

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

As many of you may know, lately certain watch like devices such as the Fitbit and the Apple Watch have become especially popular amongst people who want to track their overall fitness on a daily basis.

Many of these watches track your physical activity (such as how many steps you’ve taken), your vital signs, and the number of calories you’ve burned and even the amount of sleep you get each night.

First of all, I want to point out that I currently do not have any such device myself but I know quite a few people that either already have something like the Fitbit or they really want to buy one in the near future.

Based on the reviews that I have come across many of these devices, especially the higher end ones, are really quite good and they do for the most part, accurately track your physical activity and vital signs, etc.

However, experts recommend that the one area where these devices shouldn’t be used is during our sleep time. The problem is not that these devices may not be very reliable at tracking our sleep, although the reviews are mixed, rather the major problem with tracking our sleep is that this can lead to anxiety.

Tracking sleep can make some people obsess over their results even though these results may not even be accurate. Constantly checking and worrying about the amount of sleep that you get each night can lead to anxiety and this anxiety can end up harming your sleep rather than improving it.

And of course, this is why most experts recommend that people take off these devices at night for a more restful sleep!

With Love,

Yasmin

Ideal Daily Routine for Students

Hey  Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

For many students, back to school season is a great opportunity to form healthier and more productive habits.

Here are just a few tips to help you have a more productive day: (Of course, most of these tips can be helpful to anyone whether or not you are a student)

Breakfast is Key

I know that this is nothing new and you have all probably heard this tip many times before. We all know the importance of breakfast but in my experience with those around me, many students go to class with either an empty stomach or they just have some toast.

Breakfast really is very important because if you think about, assuming you haven’t eaten anything since last night, you are truly breaking your fast in the morning. Scientific research shows that people who skipped breakfast were less productive.

The ideal breakfast will contain both protein and carbohydrates. Good sources of protein include eggs, cottage cheese and nuts. Whole grains and fruits are a great source of carbohydrates.

Exercise:

Of course, we all know the benefits of exercise however, most of us exercise after class. I know that most of us can barely get out of bed in the morning before class. However, research shows that 15 minutes of exercise can actually help the student retain more knowledge for five to six hours. This is why experts recommend doing a physical activity such as walking, jogging, climbing the stairs, etc. before going to class.

Hydration:

Hydration is something that is emphasized during the summer time. However, it is important for our health and well-being to stay hydrated throughout the year. The results of a recent study showed that dehydration negatively impacts our cognition and performance. People who are dehydrated don’t do as well and they don’t think as well.

Drinking water is only one of the things that we should be doing to stay hydrated. Current research emphasizes eating our way to hydration by eating fruits and veggies with a high water content. In order to stay properly hydrated its best to avoid excessive caffeine and although sports drinks can be hydrating they should be consumed in moderation.

Before the Test:

If you have a sweet tooth you might enjoy this tip. Researchers recommend that students have a small square of chocolate preferably dark chocolate, Research has shown that the caffeine in the chocolate can help students focus better on the test. It sounds too good to be true but there is even some data that shows that students that ate the chocolate had slightly higher test scores.

Relax a Little:

Taking some downtime to relax is very important. I know that it sounds counterintuitive but take some time each day to do something that you love or just anything that you enjoy. Taking a 20 minute break will help you remember better and the knowledge will really sink in.

I hope that you enjoyed these tips and please remember that most of these tips can be applied to anybody’s life.

With Love,

Yasmin

Just Ask

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I think that deep down each and everyone one of us knows the value of helping others and most of us can probably think of at least one instance in which we have helped someone else.

However, I believe the thing that most of us humans struggle with is actually asking for help when we need it ourselves. Many of us are afraid to ask others for help because we fear being rejected or we just immediately assume that the other person will say no.

If you are anything like me, you may feel that you are being a burden to other people if you ask them for help. Without a doubt, there is definitely a limit to how much someone can help us because helping others requires time and effort.

However, most of us only focus on the burden that we are putting on others and we don’t focus on how rewarding helping us may be for the other person.

In fact, a great deal of psychological research shows that helping others increases self-esteem, sense of belonging and overall well-being.

Of course, there is a wrong way and a right way to ask for help. I know that it is really tempting to ask for help through text or email. However, this is not such a great idea because its easier for you to ask but its also easier for them to say no.

Also, whatever you do, don’t send a mass email asking for help because you’re much less likely to get a response. Most of the people included in the mass email may not even reply because they will just assume that someone else will help you.

When you are about to ask someone for help try to follow these tips:

  • Ask in person or over the phone: The live interaction is key and research shows that you are 34 percent more likely to get a yes if you ask in person or over the phone.
  • Be specific and direct: Most people are not mind readers so don’t be vague and don’t assume that they already know what you need. Be completely honest and tell the person exactly what you need, when you need it, etc. so that person cam make a decision to help or not.
  • Be positive and understanding: I know this is obvious but make sure to ask for help in a kind and friendly manner. And if they do happen to say no don’t take it personally.

I know that at first it is very difficult to ask for help but research has shown that succesful people have strengthened their “asking muscle”. These people have gotten past the initial difficulty of asking for help because occassionally everyone needs help to succeed.

With Love,

Yasmin

Got Back to School Blues? Read this

Hey Everyone,

Hope you’re all doing well!

Right now, here in the United States it is currently back to school season. As the summer vacation comes to and end many students of all ages will be returning to their schools or their colleges and universities.

Every year, around this time of the year I see lots of videos and articles about study tips and I see a lot of content about what the latest back to school gadgets and accessories are.

However, I haven’t come across any content about what I like to describe as having the right mindset for going back to school.

In my personal experience, many students hate going back to school often because of all of the hard work that they will have to do in order to be a succesful student.

I know that when I was a student often times I would feel the same way as well and not just during the beginning of the school year but especially during the middle and end of the academic year.Basically, all of the hard work would drain me and I would start to lose motivation and I would hate being a student.

During my university years the only thing that helped me get through this slump was to change my mindset by remembering all of those students that are less fortunate.

Ideally, getting an education should be the right of each and every student. Unfortunately, a large percentage of people throughout the world, mostly girls and women, are not given this fundamental human right.

We all know that knowledge is power but sometimes we forget that many people throughout the world, due to various circumstances, are not got given the opportunity to gain a formal education.

If you are reading this blog post you are obviously literate. However, there are millions of people who are illiterate, who do not know how to read or write, because they were likely never given the opportunity to learn.

Unfortunately, many students throughout the world pursue their education under very difficult circumstances.

Most of us have some form of transportation to take us to and from school or perhaps we walk a reasonable distance to reach our school.

However, in some parts of the world students walk very long distances, often in extreme weather conditions, in order to reach their school. Unfortunately, in certain parts of the world, students risk their lives just to commute to and from school. Once they reach their school, many students do not get to sit in nice, clean, well insulated buildings. Some students sit in tents that are used as classrooms and many students attend school without enough supplies such as books, pens, and paper.

If you are a student, the next time you lose your motivation, please remember those students that are less fortunate and perhaps this will help you regain your focus and motivation to work towards academic success. You never know, perhaps your academic success may enable you to one day help out other students throughout the world!

With Love,

Yasmin

Six Tips for Better Sleep

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

In my experience, one unhealthy habit that people like to boast about is their lack of sleep, or their ability to get by with very little sleep.

Perhaps this is most common amongst university students who like to “pull all-nighters” in order to study for exams or complete projects and assignments. And its not just students that are getting less sleep.

A report by Gallup showed that Americans are sleeping one hour less per night than they did in the 1950’s.

The average adult human needs between seven to nine hours of sleep each night to survive and thrive. In her book The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time Ariana Huffington argues that sleep is not a luxury rather it is a necessity.

She cites scientific evidence of how sleep is a time for intense neurological activity in which the brain renews and repairs itself.

A lack of sleep is linked with severe health problems such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer, obesity, and Alzheimers disease.

According to sleep expert Daniel Gartenberg, humans need sleep to save energy, to help their cells recover, and to help them process and understand their envirnment. Since sleep is so vital to our overall health and well-being, here are a few tips to help you get a better night of sleep.

Ban Screens Before Bedtime:

The very first tip is the one that I struggle with the most and that is to stop using my phone or laptop before bed. It turns out that I am not alone because a 2015 survey showed that 71 percent of Americans sleep with or next to their smartphones. The problem with this habit is that our electronic devices (such as phones and laptops) emitt blue light which can keep us awake at night.

As you know, melatonin is a brain hormone that helps us fall asleep but blue light suppresses our melatonin levels. The effects of blue light do not immediately go away once you stop using your device. It is best to stop using your electronic devices up to an hour or so before bedtime.

If you’re like me and you’re often tempted to check your phone before bedtime, my suggestion would be to completely remove your phone (and other electronic devices) from your bedroom before you go to sleep.

Sleep Consistency:

If possible, try to wake up and go to sleep during the same time each and every day including weekends. This way, your body establishes a routine and its easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning. It might be tempting to skim on sleep during the week and then sleep in during the weekends. While the extra few hours of sleep during the weekend may feel good, research has shown that you cannot make up sleep debt because its hard to make up for the REM (Rapid Eye Movement)sleep that you have missed. Also, REM sleep is a vital stage of sleep due to its restorative properties.

Take A Nap:

The reality is that in this day and age it is difficult to get an adequate amount of sleep each and every night. Taking a quick 30 minute nap during the day can help you feel rejuevenated. Even if you do get enough sleep at night, a nap can help you reenergize your brain. Its best to take your nap anytime before 3 pm so that you don’t confuse your circadian rythm and you don’t disrupt your nightime sleep.

Bonus tip: If you are someone who drinks coffee, consider drinking a cup before your nap and the caffeine will work as a natural alarm clock because it will kick-in, in 30 minutes and wake you up from your nap.

Temperature:

The room temperature can definitely impact the quantity and quality of our sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 65 degrees as the ideal room temperature for sleep. They also argue that anything above 75 degrees our below 54 degrees can disrupt our sleep. Of course, this is just a general estimate and the climate that we are from also influences our temperature preferences.

Food:

Personally, I often feel sleepy after I eat pasta and I know that a lot of people feel sleepy after eating Turkey.

However, when it comes to food and sleep its more about what kind of foods you should avoid rather than what foods to eat. Although different foods may work for different people, they ‘re aren’t many foods that experts believe can really help us fall asleep.

However, there are foods that should be avoided before bedtime:

Foods High in Sugar: If you consume a lot of sugar before bed, your blood sugar levels will become very high and your body has to release hormones to decrease your blood sugar and this process may temporarily disturb your sleep.

Caffeine: We all have a different caffeine sensitivity but a 2013 study showed that people who drank coffee 6 hours before bed lost about an hour of sleep at night. So, its best to stop drinking caffeine way before bedtime.

Late Dinners: Since it can take between two to three hours for our body to digest a meal, it is best to avoid eating a large meal right before bed. This is especially true for those who suffer from acid reflux disease.

Spicy Foods: For some people, spicy foods can cause bloating and heartburn.

High Fat Foods: Its best to avoid high fat foods as much as possible because research has linked high fat foods with excessive sleepiness during the daytime.

Alcohol: At first, alcohol can help you fall asleep faster but it can disrupt the quality of your sleep.

Exercise:

We all know how beneficial exercise is for our overall health and well-being. Now, research has shown that regular exercise can improve the quantity and quality of our sleep. One study from Oregon State University found that 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week can act as a great non-pharmaceutical way of improving our sleep. The only caveat is that it takes time to reap the sleep benefits of exercise. A study from Northwestern University showed that exercise added 45 minutes of extra sleep but it took four months to see results.

Overall, sleep is something that most of us love and all of us need. I really hope that you find some of these tips helpful in getting better sleep!

With Love,

Yasmin

Tips for Staying Cool this Summer

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I hope you are all having a great summer so far. As amazing as the summertime can be one of the huge downsides is obviously the excessive heat. This past week here in southern California the heat has been absolutely unbearable at times. A few days ago it was like 118 degrees Fahrenheit (about 48 Celsius).

If you are in an area that is going through a heat wave here are a few simple tips to help you stay cool this summer:

Weather App:

I know this sounds very obvious but before heading outside check the weather app on your phone to see how hot it really is. Sometimes you might have the AC on and you might not even realize how hot it is and you might go outside unprepared. But if you know the temperature you might be able to take precautions such as wearing a hat, extra sunscreen, or taking a water bottle with you.

Check up on others:

During extreme heat young children, anyone with heart or lung disease, the elderly, and pets are especially vulnerable so please make sure to check up on them to make sure that they are doing well. Obviously, never leave children or pets in the car because this is dangerous and in many places it is illegal as well.

Enhance Your Fan:

If your like me and you don’t have AC in your house, you might be forced to use a fan. But if the weather is very hot outside the fan will just blow around warm air. A solution is to fill a bowl with ice and place the ice filled bowl right next to the fan so that it blows cool air.

Cover Windows:

Keep your blinds and curtains closed during the daytime. I know that if your going to be at home all day it might feel dark and depressing if all the windows are closed but this can definitely make a difference and help keep the inside of your home significantly cooler.

If you’re lucky and you live in an area where the temperature does cool off a bit at night then consider leaving your windows open at night to let the cool breeze in and then close it in the morning before it gets too hot.

Visit Your Local Library or Mall:

If its just unbearably hot inside your home during the daytime please consider visiting your local library or the local shopping center to stay cool. Also, check to see if your local community has any cooling centers that are open to the public during especially hot days.

Cool Compress:

Using a sponge you can easily make a DIY cooling compress. All you have to do is take a sponge, wet it with water and put it in the freezer. After a while take it out of the freezer and simply put it in a zip lock bag. Then you can take it with you wherever you go.

Drink Water:

Its always good to stay hydrated but it is especially vital to stay well hydrated during a heat wave. Make sure to drink water before you actually get thirsty because if you get thirsty your chance of becoming dehydrated increases.

The amount of water each person needs varies based on several factors but as a rough estimate the average male needs about 15 cups of fluid and the average female needs about 11 cup of fluid. This fluid includes the fluid we get from water, food, and other beverages. Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine during extreme heat.

Cool Off Before Bedtime:

If you have trouble sleeping at night due to the heat, try taking out one or two ice packs from the fridge and put them under an extra pillow on the other side of the bed so that you can rest your feet on this cool compress.

Since heat rises, its best to sleep on the ground or as low as possible. If your in a multilevel home, try sleeping on the first floor or the basement if you have one.

Avoid Strenuous Activities:

Avoid exercising outside during the hottest part of the day. Its best to avoid strenuous activities as much as possible.

Wear Light Colors:

Wear relaxed or loose fitting clothing. Avoid dark colors such as black and navy blue, because they absorb so much more heat.

Cooling Sprays:

Its really easy to make a DIY cooling spray or mist to help you stay cool. One option is to make green tea and pour it in a spray bottle and put it in the fridge. Then once its nice and cool you can mist it all over your body especially your face and neck.

Another option is to pour some rose water in a spray bottle and put it in the fridge. Once its cool it feels absolutely amazing to mist it over your face and neck. Not to mention that the scent is absolutely amazing as well. I feel that for something that is not very expensive rose water has a very luxurious feeling to it and it can also be used as a great make-up setting spray.

These are just a few simple tips and I hope that you find them to be helpful!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

A Bit About Suicide

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

As many of you may have heard or read, a few weeks ago fashion designer Kate Spade committed suicide and then just a few days later famous TV chef and host Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.

In the aftermath of these two tragic suicides I came across some very disappointing statistics about suicide here in the United States:

  • According to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) suicide rates have been rising in almost every state with nearly 45,000 Americans taking their own lives each and every year.
  • Of the top 10 causes of death suicide is only one of three that is rising and not falling.
  • According to the CDC more than half of the people who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of their death. Life issues such as problematic relationships, substance abuse, financial despair, physical health problems or job stress likely played a key role in their suicide.

As if we did not already have enough reasons to ban or severely limit gun control here in the United States, it turns out guns are the most common method of suicide. The more people have access to guns the more chance of suicide because its easier for people to act impulsively.

When it comes to suicide the role of the mass media is also very important. As many of you may have noticed the mass media often over sensationalizes a suicide.

Often when the victim of a suicide is a well-known figure the media reports on the suicide in a very detailed manner and they keep developing and adding to the story as new details emerge.

This type of coverage can potentially be dangerous because studies show that the way a suicide is portrayed can influence other peoples’ behaviors. Suicide can actually become contagious through the spreading of thoughts and ideas.

 

For example, people are more likely to think about or even commit suicide if they can relate to the victim of suicide especially if the media portrays suicide as being that persons means for coping with their problems.

There are a number of different opinions on why the suicide rate has been consistently increasing. Some of the opinions include:

  • Our lifestyle has changed in a drastic way. We are no longer directly connected to people but instead we form and/or maintain most of our relationships digitally through social media.
  • Our life expectations differ greatly from those of our previous generations.
  • We have become less resilient.

Obviously, the exact reason of each persons’ suicide is different. I don’t want to make any generalizations but I feel that in todays’ society one really big problem is loneliness.

Without a doubt, in many ways, we are more connected to others than perhaps we have ever been. But I do agree that many of us are lacking real life human connections with others.

This is especially true for millennials. One particular research report found that millennials are more likely to experience chronic loneliness than any other age group.

I think that sometimes we take for granted the power of reaching out to others. In the aftermath of these two recent suicides one particular Instagram influencer posted a picture of herself and in the caption, she discussed her battle with depression and she mentioned that in the past she has had some suicidal thoughts.

Her advice to her followers was to simply reach out to a loved one or friend whom you feel is going through a tough time. She mentioned that often after a major suicide story people post the phone numbers of suicide prevention hotlines but they fail to realize that in many cases if a person is truly thinking about suicide they may have already made up their mind and they may not be willing to take the initiative to call a help hotline.

Understandably, often times it is difficult for us to detect the fact that our friend or loved one is going through a tough time.

Occasionally, a friend or loved one who is going through a tough time may reach out to us by just texting or calling us about something trivial and if we are busy and/or we are not aware of the fact that they are going through a tough time, we may simply just ignore their call or text.

I know personally that this has happened to me a number of times in which I was going through a tough time and I was feeling lonely and so I reached out to others by just texting them about something trivial and hoping that they would reply so that I could start a conversation but unfortunately, they never replied.

There is nothing that we can do that is guaranteed to prevent a loved one from committing suicide but in my humble opinion we can do our part to make sure that those around us are not feeling lonely or down because they feel they have no one to talk to.

I know that many of us live very busy and hectic lives but if we occasionally just take a few minutes to talk with a friend or loved one whom we usually don’t talk to, I think that this can go a long way into making that person feel valued and loved.

Please feel free to let me know your thoughts!

With Love,

Yasmin