Feeling Overwhelmed By the News? Here are some Tips

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

If you’re like me sometimes you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed by all of the chaotic, frustrating, and often tragic new stories that you come across throughout your day.

Studies have shown that constantly consuming tragic or infuriating news stories can eventually lead to sadness and anxiety. Research has shown that negative news stories that may not be directly related to our lives can further increase our personal worries.

Here are just a few tips that can help you stay on top of the most important stories without feeling overloaded:

  • If you have any news apps on your phone, try to turn off notifications for that app. A while ago, when I had my news notifications on I definitely found it to be a distraction especially when I was trying to get work done because every once in a while whenever a notification would pop up I would be tempted to check my phone instead of working.
  • It is usually best not to follow live updates. Following a breaking news story may make you feel more involved but it doesn’t necessarily make us more informed. Live updates have a lot of commentary and extra details and its often more noise than news.
  • I think its best to set your laptop or desktop web browser homepage to Google or any other webpage with minimal distractions. I know that on many personal computers the homepage of the browser is set to Yahoo or MSN or any other site that has lots of news stories and articles. Every time you open the web browser you might be tempted to click on one of the article links and this can end up taking up a lot of your time.
  • This next tip is obvious: Read, watch, or listen to news stories that come from reliable sources. Here in the U.S. unfortunately, not everyone agrees on what is or is not a reliable source of news. However, I think that in general most people agree that you should be cautious of the stories that you read on social media.
  • Nowadays, a lot of the news programs have people that call themselves political pundits or commentators that come in and talk about and predict what might happen. While some of these political pundits might make valuable points ultimately no one can really predict the future so its best to avoid watching too much of these commentators.
  • I really believe that timing is important when it comes to consuming the news. In order to avoid spending too much time on the news its best to designate a specific time to check the news and try not to check it at any other time. Many experts recommend not checking the news before bed because certain stories may interfere with your sleep.

I know that everyone has a different habit or preference when it comes to the news but if you are someone that feels that perhaps you spend a little too much time on the news I hope that you find these tips to be helpful.

With Love.

Yasmin

Happy 4th of July!

sparkler-839806_640Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

To everyone here in the U.S. happy 4th of July.

To those of you who may be unfamiliar, the 4th of July is a holiday that celebrates America’s independence from Great Britain.

Admittedly, in this political environment it is difficult to be a proud American.

I, like many of my fellow Americans, am absolutely outraged and disgusted by our government’s decision to separate children from their parents at our southern border. Without a doubt, this was an inhumane and cruel decision.

I am also deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a travel ban which prohibits immigrants from seven countries, one of which is Syria. This is especially disappointing considering the fact that the Syrian refugee crisis is one of the worst humanitarian crises of our times.

Despite all of this negativity, I have immense faith in the goodwill of the American people.

As an example, when the first travel ban was initiated, many Americans went to the international airports to protest this unfair travel ban. Some American women even wore headscarves in solidarity with the Muslim women who were affected by this ban. Also, many lawyers left their lucrative jobs, for many days, to go to the airports to help those who were impacted by this ban.

More recently, thousands of Americans all over the U.S. protested against the government’s decision to separate immigrant children from their parents at our southern border. These protests and condemnation had a role in forcing the president to reverse his child separation policy. I am hopeful that these protests will continue because those children that have already been separated must be reunited with their parents as soon as possible!

To my fellow Americans, one of the only ways that we can stop some of these injustices is to go out and vote in the upcoming November midterm election. I know that our current political environment is especially dark but we should never lose hope.

There was a time, not all that long ago, that America graciously welcomed refugees from all over the world. Thirty years ago, my parents left the war in Afghanistan and they each came to America with very few possessions and barely any money. They both worked very hard to establish a basic life for themselves. They then met each other and got married. After marriage they worked very hard together in order to provide a comfortable life for their children.

Their story is just one of millions of similar stories. I am truly hopeful that with the help of the younger generation, the United States will once again become a beacon of hope and a place of refuge for those that are in need of it.

I am hopeful that one day we will elect a government that actually works for the well-being of all of the American people and not just those that are extremely wealthy and also has compassion for those suffering outside of America’s borders!

 

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

 

 

Water and Other Blessings

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

This post might be a little bit all over the place but I just wanted to share some things that have been on my mind lately.

I know this might sound a little weird but lately I have been thinking a lot about water.  I think it all started when I heard that the beautiful city of Cape Town, South Africa is about to run out of water in as little as three months. I just found it so shocking that a large city of nearly four million people would run out of water so quickly. I cannot even imagine how much of a nightmare it would be for the people and government of Cape Town if Day Zero becomes a reality.

And then yesterday I was listening to NPR news on the radio and there was a story that UNICEF reported that the majority of the children that are dying in impoverished and war torn nations are not dying from bombs and bullets rather they are dying due to a lack of access to safe and clean water.

These two stories really made me realize that often we take the things that we have for granted. Whenever I get thirsty I go grab my cup and put it under the water filter in our kitchen and thank God in a matter of seconds I am able to drink a cup of safe and clean water but it breaks my heart that millions of innocent children do not have access to this most basic human necessity.

Also, the Cape Town story has really reminded me to be more mindful of how I use water and it has encouraged me to try to avoid wasting water. I think this is especially important for me and all others living in drought stricken areas to start implementing water saving strategies because some reports are suggesting that other large drought stricken cities, such as Los Angeles, should also be careful.

In the mornings, I usually like to listen to the news on the radio and recently I heard a story about the increasing number of homeless people here in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Once again, this story really pulled at my heart strings because it reminded me that there are people that are suffering right in my own backyard. To make matters worse the story added that the local authorities were basically trying to kick out the homeless people from the encampments they had created and in the process they were throwing away many of the basic possessions that these homeless people had with them. Its tragic that in one of the most affluent parts of the world there are still people that are suffering.

On another note, my heart goes out top my parents homeland, Afghanistan. More than 130 people have died in the past two weeks due to various terrorist attacks. Yes the story has been covered by the news media but unfortunately I haven’t seen an outpouring of support on social media. I think that, God forbid, if this were to happen to a Western nation then there would have been a larger outpouring of condolences and support.

To be completely honest I don’t blame anyone I just think that people have gotten so used to hearing about tragedies in war torn nations such as Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, etc. that they’ve become desensitized to it. We assume that these tragedies are just a common part of life in these nations but we often forget that these people are human beings just like us and they have similar dreams and aspirations and for them this unnecessary and inhumane death and destruction is just as painful.

I certainly hope that this post doesn’t make anyone too sad rather my goal is to remind myself first and then my dear readers that sometimes we are stuck in our own bubble as they say. We are often so focused on our own problems and we focus on what we lack rather than all that we have been blessed with.

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

The Top Safety Precaution that Passengers are Avoiding

Hey Everyone.

Hope you’re all doing well!

crash-test-1620595_640

A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that four out of five people do not wear their seatbelt when they are sitting in the back seat of a car if it is a short trip or if it is in a Uber, Lyft, or any other similar service.

The report by the IIHS found that the majority of people who do not wear their seatbelt in the back seat believe that it is not necessary to wear a seatbelt because the back seat is much safer than the front seat.

However, research by IIHS engineers and others have shown that this idea is absolutely false. In the event of a car crash unbelted back seat passengers can be violently thrown like a missile to the front.

In 2015 alone 1,018 back seat passengers died because they were not wearing a seat belt.

A separate report conducted in 2016 by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that unbelted back seat passengers were three times more likely to die in a crash.

According to the IIHS the driver can also be severely injured because an unbelted back seat passenger can slam into the drivers seat, pushing the driver into the airbag and steering wheel with a 35  mph impact.

Okay so I have a confession to make. Usually when my whole family and I ride together in a car, my parents are in the front and my two brothers and I are in the back seat. It is often the case that one of my brothers is on one side and the other brother is on the other side and I am in the middle.

I have to admit that when I am in this middle seat I never buckle up because the seatbelt in the middle is, in my opinion, uncomfortable. Although we rarely all ride together, after reading these stats I will definitely be buckling up.

Additionally, it has been reported that Princess Diana was not wearing a seatbelt on the night of her fatal car crash. According to a simulation experiment by CNN her life could potentially have been saved if she was simply wearing her seat belt.

From the bottom of my heart I would like to really encourage all of you my dear readers to please make sure to buckle up whenever you are in a car, no matter how short the trip is. Its something that can be done in a few seconds but it can save your life and even the lives of those with and around you.

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

 

 

 

 

World Refugee Day: How You Can Help!

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

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Today June 20th 2017 is World Refugee Day and this is a topic near and dear to my own heart because my parents immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan and if they had not done so, or rather, if they were not allowed to do so, then I probably wouldn’t be here today.

In order to better shed light on this issue  and present you, my dear readers, with some tangible solutions to this heartbreaking humanitarian issue, in this post I will summarize a recent  TED Talk by David Miliband about this issue.

David Miliband is a British Labour Party politician who has been a member of the British parliament and he is the chief of the International Rescue Committee charity.

Speech Summary

  • The current refugee situation is indeed a humanitarian crisis however, it is manageable.
  • Facts in numbers: In 2016 65 million people were displaced from their homes. Of these 65 million people most of them stayed in their own countries but 25 million of them became refugees. Most of these refugees are currently living in developing nations.

Causes: (as presented by Miliband in this TED Talk)

  • Weak states that cannot support their own people
  • An international system weaker than at any time since 1945.
  • Differences in theology, governance, engagement, with the outside world, in significant parts of the Muslim world.
  • This refugee crisis is a long term problem with deep causes however, it can be solved.

Solutions:

  • The refugees need to get into work in the countries they’re living in and these countries that they’re living in need massive economic support.
  • Education for kids is a lifeline and not a luxury especially since many of these people are going to be displaced for a long time.
  • Most refugees live in cities and so they need cash to pay rent, buy clothes etc. Give refugees cash to boost their economic power and to help the local community.

Controversial Solution:

  • The most vulnerable refugees need to be given a new start and a new life in a new country including in the West. The numbers (of those needing to be admitted into Western nations) are small but the symbolism is huge. Now is not the time to ban refugees but it is the time to embrace victims of terror.
  • It is a good question to ask are they properly vetted? However, the reality is that refugees are among the most properly vetted people that enter our countries.
  • Refugee is not another word for terrorist.
  • If refugees are not given the proper help, they take risky journeys in unstable boats with life jackets that cannot even prevent children from drowning. He describes this as not just a crisis but a test of our humanity.
  • Yes, refugees are often very different from us but this should not prevent us from helping them.
  • Empathy and altruism are two of the foundations of civilization and we should use these beliefs as our motto to help others.
  • In this modern world, thanks to our smartphones and other gadgets  we cannot say that we did not know what was going on.
  • If we fail to help then it shows that we are lacking a moral compass.
  • Saving refugees is a part of Western history, especially after World War II. So if we trash refugees, we trash our own history.

More Solutions:

  • If you’re an employer hire some refugees
  • Take on the myths that friends and family have about refugees.
  • If you have money try to donate some it to charities that make a difference for refugees.
  • If you’re a citizen try to vote for politicians that will implement some of the above mentioned solutions.

Concluding Remarks:

  • He mentions the story of a French man who helped his Jewish grandmother  and aunt during World War II by giving them refuge in his village. When Miliband, as a teen visited this now elderly French man and asked him why he took such a risk the man’s reply was: “one must” meaning that helping others was a natural and innate thing to him as it should be to us too.
  • He concludes by reiterating the point that it is possible to solve this problem and by helping refugees we are upholding our own cherished morals and values.

Here is the link to the TED Talk

Want to know more about the refugee crisis? Check out CNN’s article on this topic. This article also has a how to help section at the very bottom of the page.

if you’re in the U.S. and want to contact your elected official regarding the refugee crisis or any other issue that you’re passionate about? Click here for some tips and pointers.

With Love,

Yasmin