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

 

 

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.

Passwords:

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,

Yasmin

 

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,

Yasmin

 

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,

Yasmin