How to Prevent and Treat the Common Cold

Hey Everyone!

pic

Hope you are all doing well! These past couple of days I have been a little sick with a cold (nothing too serious) but I am doing better now! I wanted to share some of my tips for fighting the common cold with the hope that it will be of some benefit to you!

Importance of Prevention:

There is a common saying that states that “prevention is better than the cure” and I honestly believe that this is absolutely true! There are a few simple steps that you can take to prevent the cold.

Sanitize

Always make sure to wash your hands with soap and water whenever you are near or come into contact with people who are sick. Also, whenever you touch anything in a public place make sure to wash your hands before the next meal and before washing your hands try to avoid touching your nose and mouth where germs can easily enter the body.

Obviously when you are outside it’s often hard to wash your hands on a regular basis so an alternative would be to carry a small pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer with you.

Vitamin C

C may not be the best grade but it is a great vitamin (okay sorry for that horrible joke 🙂 ) Anyways, research shows that vitamin C is great for the immune system and can help prevent the cold from turning into something more serious like pneumonia.

I have to admit that I am a bit lazy and I just take a Vitamin C supplement to get my daily dose of this vitamin.

However, in order to stay safe, it’s always best to try to get nutrients from your diet and supplements should really be used as a last resort. When we think of foods high in vitamin C we usually think of the citrus family such as oranges and lemons. Although this is true there are many other foods high in vitamin C. These include cantaloupe, broccoli, red cabbage, green pepper, red pepper, kiwi and tomatoes just to name a few.

Keep Warm:

This might seem obvious but when it’s cold or even just a little chilly outside its best to stay safe by wearing that extra layer to ensure that you stay warm! Funny story: A dear relative was telling me that when her kids were young she always told them to wear warm clothes on the cooler days but at the time they didn’t take her seriously. However, just a few days ago her daughter called her up to say that she was watching the news and the new scientific research does support her claim!

Zinc

Zinc is another nutrient that is great for strengthening the immune system. Research shows that zinc reduces the number of cytokines which can aggravate the body during a cold. Also, zinc increases the body’s white blood cell activity which is great for reducing the chance of getting a cold and other possible infections.

I do take a zinc supplement however, there are many foods high in zinc. Such foods include chicken, beef, beans (white beans, kidney beans and chickpeas), nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios) and whole grains.

Other Helpful Foods:

Homemade chicken soup can be especially helpful in easing the symptoms of the common cold. Chicken contains cysteine which is an amino acid that can help thin the mucus and prevent your cough from worsening. Other ingredients such as onions and garlic that are added to the soup are beneficial because they are anti-viral and chicken soup as a whole is anti-inflammatory

Just one teaspoon of honey can help alleviate the cold. Honey is an antioxidant and it helps boost the immune system and additionally it also acts as a cough suppressant by breaking up the thick mucus.

Warm tea can be especially soothing when you are suffering from a cold. A warm cup of tea with added spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger can help with decongestion and soreness that results from having a cold.

Additional Tip:

Despite your best efforts you will occasionally get a cold however, don’t fret! It’s best to know your body and try to recognize the first signs of a cold which can vary for each person. For me personally, a cold always starts off with a sore throat!

In my opinion the best strategy is to have always have some cold medication on hand and take it immediately when you notice any of the obvious cold symptoms. I honestly don’t know if any scientific research proves this tip but in my experience and the experiences of those around me this has been a very helpful strategy.

However, please be careful and take the medication exactly as directed on the package (or as described by your doctor). Also, please be aware that most cold medications contain acetaminophen which is a pain reliever and fever reducer. However, since this is a common ingredient make sure that you are not overdosing on this especially if you are taking more than one medication. Most experts recommend taking no more than 3,000 mg of acetaminophen a day.

These were just a few tips that have personally helped me and hopefully will help you too!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple Steps are Key

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

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

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

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

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

Here is a very basic personal example:

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

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

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

With Love,

Yasmin

Here’s How Music can Cure You

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

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

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

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

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

Regaining the Abillity to Move

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

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

Regaining the Abillity to Speak 

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

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

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

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

Reducing Effects of Dementia

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

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

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

Easing Asthma Symptoms:

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

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

Helping Child Cancer Patients:

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

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

Doctors and Music:

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

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

With Love,

Yasmin

Benefits of Bananas 

Hey Everyone! 

Hope you’re all well!

I love reading articles about the health benefits of different types of food and so I decided to create a post about my favorite fruit! 

I personally love bananas and I eat them on a daily basis. In fact, the other day my mom and I were grocery shopping and the store had ran out of bananas so I made her make and extra trip to another local grocery store just to buy some bananas. (Thank God the other grocery store was literally right across the street 😊) 

 Bananas are not only a delicious fruit but they are packed with a wide range of health benefits. 

Nutrients in Bananas:

The average banana is around 110 calories with 30 grams of carbohydrates, one gram of protein and fat, cholesterol, and sodium free. Bananas also include the following nutrients:

Vitamin B6

Manganese 

Vitamin C

Potassium 

Fiber

Copper 

Magnesium

Folate

Riboflavin 

Niacin

Vitamin A

Iron

Bananas and Your Heart

Bananas are definitely a heart healthy food because they contain vital nutrients such as fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and B6. Bananas also maintain heart health because they help lower the blood pressure of those who suffer from high blood pressure. 

Bananas and Healthy Children:

Bananas can reduce the chance of a child developing asthma. In fact, the results of a study conducted by the Imperial College of London showed that children who ate one banana a day had a 34 percent less chance of developing asthma. Also, research has shown that children who ate bananas (along with oranges and orange juice) had a reduced risk of developing childhood leukemia. 

Even in adults, bananas can reduce the risk of developing certain cancers thanks to its Vitamin C levels which help to reduce damage from free radicals. Also, since bananas have a high amount of fiber they can reduce ones chance of developing colorectal cancer. 

Bananas and Your Weight:

A common myth about bananas in my family was that bananas make you fat. The reality is that bananas by themselves don’t make you fat and they likely won’t make you lose weight either. However, bananas do have quite a bit of fiber and it has been shown that a diet with high fiber can aid in weight loss. 

Bananas are an excellent snack to have before, during, or after excercise. Bananas are high in glucose which means they will give you the energy you need to get through an intensive workout especially a cardio workout. Thanks to its magnesium, bananas can help prevent or relieve muscle cramps or soreness. The magnesium in bananas leads to protein synthesis which can help increase your lean muscle mass. Thanks to its potassium, bananas can help you workout longer and more easily recover from an intense workout. Additionally, bananas have a high amount of choline which is a form of Vitamin B that helps burn fat.

Bananas and Potassium:

The recommended daily intake of potassium is currently set at 4,700 milligrams. However, studies show that the majority of Americans don’t get the recommended daily amount of potassium. Bananas are definitely a good source of potassium and the average banana has around 420 milligrams of potassium. Potassium aids in our overall health by maintaining fluid levels in our body. Potassium is vital for cell health because it regulates the movement of nutrients and waste products in and out of our cells. 

Bananas and Digestion 

Bananas aid in digestion thanks to their non digestible carbohydrates which helps maintain a healthy gut. Due to its unique combination of nutrients such as fiber and a cluster of fruit molecules bananas help make you more regular and they even help those suffering from diarrhea. 

Kidney Health

Thanks to its potassium bananas are also helpful in maintaining healthy kidneys. Research has shown that people who eat bananas four to six times a week have a 50 percent reduced chance of developing kidney disease compared to those who don’t eat bananas. However, as a word of caution other research has shown that if you do have kidney disease it is best to eat bananas n moderation because too much potassium can worsen kidney disease.

Additional Benefits:

Bananas have folate which can be beneficial to those suffering from depression. Studies have shown that many people who suffer from depression have a higher risk of having folate deficiency. If your taking an antidepressant it is recommended to continue eating bananas because folate can help enhance the results of the medication. 

Bananas also have tryptophan which leads to seratonin. This means that bananas can potentially help reduce some of the stress and anxiety that you may be going through and put you in a better mood. Also, thanks to tryptophan bananas can also help you get a better night of sleep.

Easy to Find and Easy to Eat

Here in the United States bananas are among the most popular fruits even more so than apples and oranges and in my personal experience they are pretty inexpensive as well. If you’re lazy like me, the great thing about bananas is that you can easily peel them and enjoy the tasty and healthy treat. Of course, there are many different ways you can include bananas in your diet and although I always throw the peel away, while I was doing reeearch for this post, I have learned that in many cultures the banana peel is used in cooking as well. The banana peel has numerous benefits as well. Some of these benefits include using the peel for beauty purposes such as removing pimples and alleviating wrinkles. 

Bananas and Beauty:

As I mentioned the banana peel can be used for pimples. I learned this trick from a YouTube video by Huda Kattan of Huda Beauty. She explained that its best to eat the banana when it’s ripe and keep the peel overnight until it’s very dark and then cut it into smaller pieces (just to make it easier to use) and rub it on your pimples. Continue to do this for a few days until all pimples are gone or until you see improvement. Other bloggers have mentioned that rubbing the banana peel on your skin may help with wrinkles as well. Due to its high water content and Vitamin A eating bananas regularly can be beneficial to your skins overall health. Finally you can add bananas to your face mask.

Ripe vs. Unripe

The truth is that both unripe and ripe bananas have their own pros and cons.

Unripe bananas are the ones that are green. Unripe bananas have a high amount of resistant starch and they’re not that sweet so they’re better for people with Type 2 diabetes because of their low glycemic index. Unripe bananas are also better for colon health thanks to a specific probiotic bacteria that they have. Unripe bananas are better for absorbing nutrients. 

On the other hand the antioxidants of the banana increase as it ripens so unripe bananas have a lower amount of antioxidants. Also since unripe bananas have a higher resistant starch content they can cause some extra bloating and gas.

Ripe bananas are easier to digest thanks to their higher sugar content and ripe bananas have more antioxidants. Research has shown that ripe bananas can help protect you from cancer because they fight abnormal cells in your body.

 On the other hand, ripe bananas lose some of their vitamins and minerals. Also, ripe bananas do have a higher sugar content so they are not ideal for those who suffer from Type 2 Diabetes. 

Don’t Go Bananas Though

As with any other good thing, bananas should be consumed in moderation. Most experts recommend having no more than two bananas a day. This is especially true of those who are on beta blocking medications because they suffer from heart disease. Beta blockers can cause the potassium levels to rise in the blood and so this is why other foods high in potassium should be consumed in moderation

I hope you enjoyed this post hopefully it has encouraged you to reach for a banana the next time you’re hungry! 


With Love,

Yasmin 

The Power of Meaning 

Hey Everyone! 

Hope you’re all doing well!

I recently watched a very inspirational TED Talk titled: There’s is More to Life than Being Happy by Emily Esfahani Smith

Basically, the major point of her TED Talk is that those who are truly at peace with their lives are not the ones who chase after happiness rather they are the ones who find meaning in their lives.  She describes how the famous Psychologist Martin Seligman describes meaning as coming from, belonging to and serving something beyond ourselves, and from developing the best within ourselves. 

In her talk Esfahani Smith describes statistics about how, for many people in the U.S, the quality of life has improved by almost every standard, yet the suicide rate has reached an all time high. She attributes this to a lack of meaning and she also cites statistics that mention that those who do have meaning in their lives are more resilient, do better in school and in work and they even live longer. 

Esfahani Smith spent five years doing research about how we can find meaning in our lives and she came up with the following four pillars of meaning: (The following is a very brief description of the pillars)

Belonging: Being in relationships and having relationships in which you are valued intrinsically for who you are and you value others for who they are. True belonging comes from relationships that are based on love and they are based on your choice, you choose to cultivate belonging with others.

Purpose: Many people find their purpose through their work however, finding your  purpose is not exactly the same as finding a job that makes you happy. Purpose is less about what you want and more about what you give to others. The key to purpose is using your strength to help others. 

Transcendence: She describes transcendent states as being those rare moments in which we are lifted above the normal hustle and bustle of daily life. It is when our sense of self fades away and we feel connected to a higher reality.  In transcendent experiences you lose all sense of time and place and these experiences can change you to become a better person. For each person transcendence can come from a different source. Some people may experience it through their house of worship others can experience it through other means such as art, athletics, writing, etc. (To me personally transcendence sounds a lot like what psychologists refer to as flow). 

Story Telling: She describes this as the story that you tell yourself about yourself. We are authors of our own stories and we can change the way we tell them. She argues that our lives are not just a series of events but we can edit and interpret our stories even when we are constrained by the facts. The point of story telling is to help us reevaluate our lives and see ourselves and our lives from a more positive perspective. She gives the example of an injured football player who was left paralyzed as a result of his injury. In the aftermath of the injury, he described his life as being good before the injury and being pretty bad after the injury. After some time had passed he re-evaluated his story to describe his life before the injury as being a life in which he lack purpose and meaning and he was only concerned with himself. However, after the injury he has a greater appreciation for life and he has found his purpose in life which is to help others. 

This TED Talk was definitely an eye opener for me. Being a student of positive psychology I have read a lot of books and articles on the importance of attaining happiness and how we can be happier in fact I wrote a post a while ago about a book on happiness. I do still recommend that book and I will definitely continue to read positive psychology books and articles on happiness because I feel that there is a lot that we can learn and apply in our lives. Also, because positive psychology as a field is determined to study and understand happiness and wellbeing from a scientific perspective. 

However, it’s also really nice to know that there is something more long lasting that can help us deal with any stage or event in our lives. It is impossible for most of us to be happy all the time but having a sense of meaning, in my opinion, is much more powerful because it gives us something to rely on in moments of joy and sorrow. 

Click here to watch this TED Talk.
With love,

Yasmin

The Link Between Alcohol and Breast Cancer

Hey Eceryone! 

Hope you’re all doing well! 

I personally never drink any type of alcoholic beverage however, I know many people who swear of the benefits of drinking a glass of wine a day. Without a doubt, wine and especially red wine, does have a number of health benefits .

However, fairly recent research by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has found that drinking a glass of wine or beer a day (which is about 10 grams of alcohol) increases women’s risk for breast cancer. 

The report stated that drinking a glass of wine or beer a day increased the risk of breast cancer by five percent for premenopausal women and increased the risk by nine percent for postmenopausal women. It’s also important to mention that this report is referring to a small glass of wine or beer with about 10 grams of alcohol, however, most standard glasses are larger and have around 14 grams of alcohol. 

This report analyzed 119 studies on this topic that included data on 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer. 

On a more positive note, this report also found that leading an active lifestyle, by exercising and maintaining a healthy weight, can reduce the risk of breast cancer in both pre and post menopausal women. Excercise reduced the risk of breast cancer by 17 percent in premenopausal women and reduced the risk by 10 percent in post menopausal women. 

Here in the United States breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women with over 252,000 cases diagnosed this year alone. The AICR estimates that one third of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. could be prevented if women did not drink alcohol, were physically active, and maintained a healthy weight. 

As I was writing this post I received a news notification in my phone that Julia Louis Dreyfus has been diagnosed with beast cancer and she had the following to say: 

And I couldn’t agree more! 

Unfortunately, there are no fool proof ways to prevent breast cancer but it is definitely nice to learn that there are steps that we can take to reduce our chances.
With Love,

Yasmin 

Study Finds 99 Percent of NFL Players Have This Disease

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

A recent study published in the JAMA medical journal revealed that the majority of American football players developed Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). This study is very significant because it is the largest study to ever be conducted on this topic. football-380388_640

Since CTE is a disease that can only be diagnosed after death, this study involved studying the brain autopsies of 202 football players. Out of these 202 players, 177 of them were diagnosed with CTE.

Within this sample some were high school football players, some were college football players and 111 of these were NFL football players. A shocking 99 percent (110 out of 111) of these NFL players developed CTE. Take a look at this very informative CNN article to learn more about the impact and limitations of this study.

CTE is a degenerative brain disorder which means that the symptoms will continually deteriorate over time. Currently, at this time CTE has no known cure. Aside from American Football players CTE is also found in:

  • Boxers
  • Wrestlers
  • Rugby Players
  • Ice Hockey Players
  • War veterans with a history of blast or concussive injury.
  • People who repeatedly bang their heads
  • People who have been physically abused
  • People with uncontrolled epilepsy

CTE is primarily caused by multiple head injuries which cause concussions. A concussion occurs when an individual gets a violent blow to the head which causes the brain to slam against the skull. For example, when football players get a concussion they are usually hit by speeds that range from 17 to 25 miles per hour which is more than 90 times the speed of gravity.

The impact of a concussion can cause bruising of the brain, torn blood vessels, and nerve damage. Some of the immediate symptoms of a concussion include confusion, amnesia, loss of consciousness, ringing in the ears, and nausea and vomiting.

According to the Mayo Clinic the following are some of the symptoms of CTE:

  • Trouble thinking (Cognitive Impairment)
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Depression or apathy
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty planning and carrying out tasks (executive function)
  • Emotional Instability
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for CTE but preventative steps can be taken. Since CTE is primarily caused by concussions it is vital to take steps to ideally prevent concussions from occurring in the first place or at least, prevent further injury after a concussion.

Many athletes can benefit from sport specific helmets and riders can benefit from bicycle and motorcycle helmets. These helmets may not completely prevent concussions however, research has shown that they can reduce the occurrence of dangerous brain injuries.

This past week many news outlets have been reporting the results of this study and I hope that this post helps to give a bit more information about Chronic Traumatic  Encephalopathy.

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

 

 

Top 6 Signs of Abnormal Behavior

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

anxiety-1337383_640I think that due to a wider acceptance of psychology as an important field of study and of course, thanks to the internet, more and more people are becoming increasingly aware of some of the basic signs and/or symptoms of the major psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) etc.

While I think that this increasing awareness is great, one possible downside is that sometimes people use their limited knowledge to diagnose themselves or others as having certain mental disorders.

We all have certain quirky or peculiar habits and behaviors and we all go through different emotions however, this does not automatically mean that we have some sort of mental disorder.

Here are the 6 most common criterion that psychologists often use to determine if certain behaviors are abnormal and possibly a sign of an underlying mental disorder.

Unusualness:

One sign of possibly abnormal behavior is behavior that is unusual. One example would be going through extreme anxiety inside of a crowded elevator. One important thing to point out is that unusual should not be mistaken for uncommon. For example, there are many people who are very talented in one particular way and may be able to do things that the rest of us cannot do, however, this definitely does not mean that their behavior is abnormal.

Social Deviance:

As many of us know, every culture and society has its own set of norms and standards of appropriate and acceptable behaviors in any given situation. For example, in the U.S. and other Western societies giving eye contact to the person you’re talking to is an absolute necessity. However, there are some other cultures in which giving direct eye contact may be considered inappropriate or in extreme cases can be seen as a sign of disrespect.

Misinterpreting Reality:

An example of this would be hallucinating, where we see and hear things that are not present. Another example would be having the delusion that someone is out to get you. It is important to consider cultural norms. Hearing and seeing things that are not present is certainly considered abnormal in our culture, however, in certain other cultures, such as the Native American culture this may be seen as a perfectly normal or even as a spiritual experience.

Significant Personal Distress:

This is when an individual is always feeling  one or more  negative emotions such as fear and anxiety. Of course, we all go through our fair share of ups and downs and its totally normal to go through negative emotions. Having such emotions can be considered abnormal when these negative emotions are persistent for a very long period of time.

Maladaptive or Self-Defeating Behaviors

These are the types of behaviors that prevent an individual from properly fulfilling his or her roles and responsibilities. An example would be a person who consistently drinks too much alcohol and as a result is no longer able to function properly at work and/or in their interpersonal relationships. Also, any type of behavior that is a self-defeating behavior is considered abnormal. For example, there are people that have Agoraphobia which is basically a fear of going outside the house.

Dangerousness:  

I think this one is pretty obvious. Any type of behavior that is a danger to ourselves or others is abnormal. Of course, the social context is important. In times of war, soldiers or others who risk their lives for the greater good are rightfully praised. Unfortunately, certain actions that could potentially harm innocent civilians are also considered normal due to the wartime context. A slightly unrelated but important point to be made is that contrary to popular opinion the overwhelming majority of people with a mental disorder are not a danger to society.

I would just really like to emphasize that the six criteria mentioned above are just some of the many criterion  that mental health professionals use to judge whether a behavior is abnormal.

Meeting one or more of these criterion certainly does not mean that there is anything wrong with you. Only an experienced mental health professional can make a true and accurate judgment. This post is only for informational purposes.

With Love,

Yasmin

Top Three Tips for Staying Hydrated This Summer

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

It’s officially summer and the heat is soaring in many parts of the world including my own city.  For many, summer is a time for relaxing, enjoying the warmer weather, and having fun in the sun. However, with all of this fun comes the danger of dehydration from the intense heat.

water-1187656_640

I have to admit that for the longest time I had a false sense of confidence that I would never become dehydrated. Recently, however, I learned my lesson the hard way and this inspired me to do some research and write this post for you so hopefully you can all stay hydrated and healthy this summer.

According to the Mayo Clinic the following are some of the signs of dehydration in adults:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Urinating less frequently
  • Dark colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

Here are some tips for staying hydrated this summer:

Drink Water:

I know this one is very obvious but many of us simply forget to drink water and this can lead to trouble. If you’re out and about throughout the day it might be a good idea to carry a bottle with you preferably a BPA free bottle.

Its best to drink water before we get thirsty because by the time we’re thirsty we are already at an increased risk for dehydration. According to the Institute of Medicine the average female should drink about 11 cups of water each day and the average male should drink about 16 cups of water each day. Of course, this is just an average estimate and this will vary on many factors such as your body type, how active you are, and how hot is it outside. This estimate also includes other sources of water including tea or coffee, and the water that is in the foods that we eat.

I know that this might sound a little gross but one of the ways that you can make sure that you are properly hydrated is to look at the toilet the next time you urinate. The color should be a pale yellow.

As with all other good things in life, too much water is not a good thing. Drinking too much water is dangerous and can lead to water intoxication. Also, drinking too much water causes you to lose sodium at a faster rate than your body can replenish and this can lead to hypothermia.

Exercise with Caution:

Exercise has countless benefits for our physical and mental health and well-being. However, in the summer it is especially important to stay hydrated while you are exercising. Some experts point out that during a workout session we can lose up to four pounds of fluid before we feel thirsty. This is why its recommended that we should drink about half a cup of water 15 minutes before starting to exercise then continue to repeat this every 15 minutes during the workout session and then once more after we’ve finished the workout session.

During a particularly intensive workout session water may not be enough to keep us hydrated. This is because when we sweat a lot our body loses electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that are found in our blood and they help regulate the amount of water in the body and they help transmit nerve signals to our muscles. Drinking sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade can rehydrate our body and replenish the electrolytes that we may have lost.

Coconut water is a possible natural alternative to sports drinks. Coconut water has electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous. Coconut water is a fairly low calorie drink, it has between 60 to 90 calories. During extremely intensive workouts sports drinks may be your best option. However, these drinks are high in glucose and sodium so if you have diabetes or high blood pressure it is best to talk to your doctor before taking these sports drinks.

While exercising, its good to push ourselves a bit, however, it is vital that we know our limits and we stop before we have reached a certain point. If your muscles feel very tired and/or you feel dizzy then it is definitely time to stop or take a break to hydrate yourself. Muscle fatigue and laziness are signs of dehydration and need to be taken seriously.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

According to the National Institute of Health about 20 percent of our daily water intake comes from the food that we eat. During these hot days it is it is vital that we include and/or increase the amount of fruits and veggies in our diets because they contain electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Fruits and vegetables have a high water content. Here are the fruits with the highest water content:

  • Strawberry (92 percent water)
  • Watermelon (92 percent water)
  • Cantaloupe (90 percent water)
  • Peaches (88 percent water)
  • Pineapples (87 percent water)
  • Oranges (87 percent water)

Note: Bananas and dates should also be consumed because they contain potassium.

Here are the veggies with the highest water content:

  • Cucumbers (96 percent water)
  • Lettuce (96 percent water)
  • Celery (95 percent water)
  • Radishes (95 percent water)
  • Tomatoes (94 percent water)
  • Cauliflower (92 percent water)
  • Bell Peppers (92 percent water)
  • Spinach (92 percent water)

Of course fruits and vegetables should be consumed in moderation. Fruits are high in sugar. Also, those people that are on a blood thinning medication such as Warfarin should be careful because some fruits are blood thinning and some vegetables are high in Vitamin K.

Bonus tip: Try adding some sea salt to your food. Sea salt not only adds flavor but it is also has sodium and potassium which can help you stay hydrated.

I hope you found these tips to be helpful in keeping you hydrated this summer!

With Love,

Yasmin

The #1 Myth about Stress

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!stress

Stress needs know no introduction. We have all been through some sort of a major stressful episode in our lives and many of us face some form of stress on a daily basis. We have also heard of how dangerous stress can be for both our physical and mental health and well-being.

However, Stanford University lecturer and health psychologist Kelly McGonigal Ph.D. argues that it is not the actual stress that is dangerous for us and can make us sick rather, it is how we think about and perceive stress that can make it harmful for us.

She cites a study conducted in 2012. This study tracked 30,000 Americans for a total of eight years. Towards the end of each year the participants were asked two questions. First they were asked: “How much stress have you experienced in the past year? Then they were asked: “Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?”.  Each year researchers used public death records to find out how many of these people died that year.

As we might expect the people who reported that they experienced a lot of stress in the last year had a 43 percent increased risk of death.

However, this increased risk of death was only true for the people who also believed that stress was harmful for their health.

The people who experienced a lot of stress but did not view this stress as being harmful were not more likely to die. These people actually had the lowest rate of death compared to everyone else in the study (even compared to those who had only a little bit of stress but viewed stress as being harmful).

The researchers of this study generalized the results of this study to the overall American population and they estimated that each year nearly 20,000 people die not from the actual stress but the belief that stress is harmful for them.

The major takeaway from this research is that changing how we think about stress can make us healthier and actually improve our stress response.

When we are going through a stressful episode we experience certain physiological changes such as a faster heart rate, faster breathing and sweating. Normally, we interpret these physical changes as a sign of weakness and thus we may start getting anxiety.

Now that we are equipped with this new knowledge, the next time we are experiencing a stressful episode and we are experiencing our heart pounding or any other signs of stress we should practice thinking of these signs as helping energize our body and helping us to face the challenge that we are about to face.

In fact, a study done by Harvard University demonstrates that thinking differently about our stress response really does help us deal with the stress in a healthier manner. In this study participants were taught to view their stress response as being helpful and not dangerous. Then when the experiment started they were all placed in a stressful environment (they had to perform various challenging tasks such as arithmetic in front a number of “judges”). The results of the experiment showed that those who viewed their stress response as being helpful were less anxious, less stressed out, and more confident.

Perhaps one of the most interesting findings of this Harvard study was that those who viewed stress in a positive manner had their physical stress response actually change. Under normal stressful conditions when our hearts are pounding, our blood vessels really tighten up and constrict themselves and over the course of a lifetime this type of stress reaction can lead to heart disease. Those with a positive attitude about stress still had a pounding heart however, their blood vessels were much more relaxed and this is a much healthier state to be in.

Without a doubt, long-term stress or a lifetime of stress, can cause health complications however, this research gives us hope that we can prevent some of the detrimental effects of stress by simply changing the way we think about stress.

With Love,

Yasmin