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

Flower Power: 5 Edible and Healthy Flowers

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

Normally, when I think of flowers I think of these incredibly beautiful yet delicate living objects.

Although I love smelling flowers I would never ever consider eating a flower, that is until I came across some very interesting research about the health benefits of certain kinds of flowers.

Since safety is always first please be extra careful before trying anything new to prevent allergies or any other potentially serious complications.

If you do decide to eat any of the flowers listed in this post please make sure that the flowers come from a safe source. Avoid flowers that have grown by the road because pollution from the cars may tamper the safety of the flowers.

Also, avoid flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides. Make sure to completely avoid flowers such as foxglove, potato and sweet pea flowers because these flowers are toxic to human beings.

The good news is that there a number of flowers that are edible and healthy! Here is just a short list of only a few such flowers:

Roses:

Roses not only smell great but they are also packed with a wide range of health benefits. Rose petals are especially rich in vitamins and antioxidants. The base of the rose (also known as the rose hip) has been used throughout history to help with problems such as arthritis and a number of digestive issues such as indigestion, constipation, and urinary problems.

Marigolds:

Marigolds are light orange colored flowers. There are actually a number of different species of marigolds. However, the Calendula species of marigolds are especially popular for their health benefits. Calendula marigolds can help with a wide range of skin issues such as rashes, allergies, eczema and dermatitis. Calendula marigolds also help with muscle cramps, muscular injuries or sprains, eye inflammation and itchiness caused by conjunctivitis. These also help with fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, candida ear infections, and even ringworm.

Nasturtiums:

These flowers are packed with antibacterial properties and they contain Vitamins A, C, and D. Thanks to their antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Nasturtiums can be used to soothe sore throat and as a first aide ointment for wounds.

Dandelion:

This soft yellow flower can be eaten raw or it can be used as an ingredient for jams and syrups.. Many people love to add these flowers to their salads for a pop of color. Dandelions are super healthy. These flowers are often added to herbal teas to act as a diuretic. Dandelions help with inflammation and liver cleansing and they are a source of prebiotics. Some even claim that dandelions can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Saffron:

Since safety is always first pregnant woman should avoid saffron because it is believed that saffron stimulates the uterus and it can potentially cause a miscarriage.

Saffron is a rich source of a number of different minerals including calcium, iron, copper, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Saffron also contains folic acid, niacin, and vitamins A and C.

Finally, as a side note, saffron is especially near and dear to me because with the help of the United States, people in my parents homeland, Afghanistan, have started growing and selling saffron instead of opium. For those who don’t know unfortunately Afghanistan for many years was the worlds largest producer of opium however, thanks to this initiative opium is gradually being replaced by saffron.  Click here if you would like to read more about this.

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

Tips for Staying Hydrated

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

Here in California, this extreme heat wave doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

As many of you know one of the best things that we can do during a heat wave is to stay hydrated.

Here are just a few tips to help you stay hydrated:

Eat to Stay Hydrated…

Normally, when we want to stay hydrated we reach for a bottle or glass of water. However, researchers have found that the water that is found in plants such as certain fruits and vegetables is much more similar to the water that is found in our cells. Thus, researchers have concluded that eating certain fruits and vegetables can be especially effective in helping us stay hydrated.

For example, the following fruits and vegetables are at least 70 percent water and many of them include other vital nutrients as well:

  • Apples
  • Avocadoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Cooked Squash
  • Cooked Brocoli
  • Baked Potatoes
  • Bananas

Do Not Drink…

During extreme heat waves its best to avoid alcoholic beverages and sugary drinks. I don’t drink alcohol, but from what I have read and heard it can cause dehydration in some cases and it certainly is not hydrating.

Cool and sugary drinks feel and taste amazing at first but the excess sugar can make you even more dehydrated later on.

Love Drinking Water to Stay Hydrated? Here are some tips:

Add a (small) pinch of salt:

I know this might sound counterintuitive but adding a pinch of salt makes it easier for your body to absorb the water.

Add some chia seeds:

When chia seeds are soaked in water, the water becomes much more hydrating and its easier for the body to absorb the water. Additionally, chia seeds are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which help move water into our cells.

Add lemon to your water:

Instead of just having plain water, try adding some lemon. Either squeeze some lemon or add a lemon slice. Lemon contains potassium which is an electrolyte that helps you stay hydrated.

What my mom and I love to do is add a lemon slice, some mint, and one or two cucumber slices to our water. Not only does it taste refreshing but you also get some additional nutrients as well.

Whatever you do, do not use a plastic water bottle:

Over a period of time. The chemicals from the plastic water bottle can leak into the water. Also, do not place your water bottle in a very hot environment because the excess heat will cause the chemicals to leak into the water. Just to be safe, if the bottle does not mention that it is reusable do not use it more than once.

Finally, if you’re fancy and you love sparkling water, do not worry research has shown that sparkling water is just as hydrating as regular water.

I hope that you find these tips to be helpful!

With Love,

Yasmin

My Experience with A Pet Cockatiel

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I know that I haven’t mentioned this before but I have a pet bird, a cockatiel, and her name is Laily! This week marks one year since we brought her into our home. This past year, Laily has brought us so much joy and happiness so I wanted to create this post to share some of my personal tips and experiences of living with a pet cockatiel.

One of Laily’s first pictures!

Please remember that I am not an expert on cockatiels, these are just some of the things that I have learned over the course of this past year. If you are thinking of buying a cockatiel please do your own research first to determine if a cockatiel is a good pet for you.

Why a Cockatiel:

My fascination with cockatiels began about a year and a half ago at a family gathering. We had all gathered at my grandmother’s house and my younger cousin brought over her two pet cockatiels and I got to meet them for the first time! I was really amazed at how cute and friendly the cockatiels were!

My cousins’ female cockatiel!

After going home, I did some research of my own by watching a lot of YouTube videos and reading a few articles and I decided that I really wanted a pet cockatiel as well. Basically, a short while later, my family and I went to our local breeder and that’s how we brought Laily home!

Basic Info:

  • The scientific name for cockatiels is Nymphicus Hollandicus.
  • Cockatiels are originally from the warm semi-arid regions of Australia.
  • On average, the lifespan of the cockatiel is anywhere from 10 to 25 years.
  • Cockatiels are very curious and smart animals. They have the intellect of a two year old child.
  • Cockatiels are the second most common pet birds in the United States, right after the budgie/parakeets
Laily being curious/mischievous!

Pros and Cons:

Without a doubt, cockatiels can be amazing pets. They are adorable and many of them are very sociable as well.

However, in my experience, two of the major cons of having a cockatiel are their messiness and their tendency to make a lot of noise.

Cockatiels are very clean animals, in fact if you sniff them, they smell quite nice. However, they love to make a mess, especially when they are eating.

Everyday, when I clean Laily’s cage, my father sweeps the floor near her cage because she always spills seeds everywhere. This can definitely be an annoyance but I believe that some companies are starting to make spill-proof or mess-proof cages with a special enclosed area for feeding.

If you are sensitive to loud noise (especially loud squawking noises) I definitely would not recommend a cockatiel (or most other pet birds). In general, cockatiels can make a lot of noise in the mornings, then once again in the late afternoons/early evenings.

They will also make a lot of noise if they’re bored or if they are in a very bright and sunny environment. The excess light can overstimulate them.

Also, if you leave the room, they will make a lot of noise for you to come back. (I personally find this very endearing but others may find this to be an annoyance)

Male vs. Female:

In most cases, there not many physical differences between males and females. From what I have read males can be a bit noisier than females. However, males are able to whistle and sing while females are generally not able to do so.

My Cockatiel Care Tips:

Every morning I thoroughly clean her cage. I take out the removable bottom tray of the cage and wash and clean it. I then use a damp paper towel and soap to clean any remaining droppings and food particles. I also clean her food and water bowls and replace them with clean food and water.

As you can imagine, diet is essential to a healthy cockatiel.  Cockatiels love seeds but they should have a well balanced diet. Most experts recommend giving your cockatiel pellets. Also, try to give your cockatiel veggies and a little bit of fruit as well. Admittedly, this is something that I have to work on with Laily because I give her a fortified seed diet and I keep trying to introduce her to vegetables but she is a very picky eater!

When it comes to bathing her, I usually just mist her with a spray bottle filled with water. However, now that the weather is very hot I usually hold her under the sink and gently wet her. Most experts recommend only using water to clean cockatiels because their feathers contain a natural dusty powder which helps keep them nice and clean.

In fact, it is very common for cockatiels to preen themselves on a daily basis. When they are preening themselves it looks like they are itching themselves but in reality they are just preening/cleaning themselves.

To Trim or Not to Trim:

Many bird owners have very strong opinons on whether a pet bird should be flighted or should have trimmed feathers.

Obviously, in their natural settings, birds fly freely and this is a great form of excercise. However, in my opinion if you have a pet bird it is best to trim their feathers.

Primarily, this is for their own safety. However this also gives peace of mind to the bird owner (or bird parent) because if a bird accidently flies away it is very difficult to find the bird and the birds’ life may be in danger.

Bonus Tips:

  • When you first bring your cockatiel home, it is very tempting to want to immediately interact with it. However, it is best to give it a day or two to allow it to get used to its new surroudings.
  • Approach the cockatiel very gently: Start by just sitting next to the cage and softly talking with your new bird. As the bird becomes more comfortable you can put your hands inside the cage and gradually work your way up to having the bird perch on your finger. There are many YouTube videos and online articles that teach you how to tame your cockatiel. The best tip that I can give you is to be very gentle and make sure to have some spray millet with you as a treat for the bird.
  • I definitely only reccommend getting one cockatiel rather than two. Its much easier to form a bond with a single cockatiel. However, you must be able to spend at least 30 minutes to an hour of quality time with the cockatiel each day. If you don’t have that much time then I would reccommend getting two so they keep each other company.
  • Buy two or three toys for your cockatiel and alternate them every few weeks so your bird doesn’t get bored. Toys are essential to keep your cockatiel happy and calm and quiet.
  • During the first few weeks try to spend a lot of time with your new cockatiel so you too can form a strong bond. Eventually after the bond has formed it might be a good idea to set up specific time(s) of the day to play with your bird so the cockatiel knows what to expect and this structure can also keep them calm and quiet.
  • Make sure that the cage is not too small. It should be large enough for the bird to move around freely without hitting anything.
  • At nighttime cover the cage with a towel or thin blanket to prevent street lights or the sunrise from waking them up. They need between 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night.
  • If you want your bird to be friendly with other people start having different family members or friends spend time with the bird. The sooner you start the more likely you are to have a friendly and well-socialized bird.
  • Laily, my pet cockatiel, has provided my family and I with an immense amount of joy and happiness. However, a cockatiel may not be the right pet for everyone. Honestly, each cockatiel has its own personality. Some may be more friendly and sociable than others. However, with a little bit of effort and a lot of patience, it is very possible to form a bond with a cockatiel!
Laily and I!

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