Quick Guide to Layering Your Skincare

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

During my free time I love learning about (and then implementing)  new skincare regimens. I feel that lately the idea of layering skincare products has really been trending and I definitely think that this trend has been inspired by Korean beauty.

As a side note, the university that I attended had a large Korean population and I was always mesmerized by their flawless and glowing skin. So, late last summer after graduating, I learned about Korean skincare and I got a little too excited and I ordered a bunch of random Korean skincare products.

The products that I ordered (from Amazon) were all nice products with good quality. However, I have acne prone skin so some of the products were a little too moisturizing for me and they caused me to breakout. I know this sounds really obvious but make sure to buy products that will actually benefit your particular skin.

For those that are interested in layering their skincare products or they just use a number of different skincare products and they’re curious about the correct order of applying their products, here is a very brief guide:

  • The first and foremost step to any skincare regimen should be to wash your face with a gentle cleanser. The reason behind this is that most skincare products need to penetrate into the skin and they cannot do this if there is bacteria, natural oils, or other forms of impurities on the skin.
  • It is also a good idea to go from the thinnest to the thickest textures. Start off with liquids such as toners and then work your way up to the heavier and creamier products. If you do use a face oil, that should be applied last.
  • The exception to the above rule is products that have acids or retinol. These are active ingredients and they should be applied on clean skin so they can penetrate properly. Be sure to wait a minute or two before applying another product to allow it to penetrate.
  • Don’t forget about your eye area! The skin around our eyes is especially sensitive so it is often the first area that shows signs of aging. If your moisturizer is gentle enough you may be able to use it around the eyes as well. However, if you have a specific eye cream that is a serum or gel make sure to apply it before your general moisturizer so it can better penetrate the skin.
  • Finally, the last step to any skincare routine should be a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

The above guide is a very ideal skincare regimen and to be completely honest I rarely follow all the steps because I can get really lazy. However, one thing that I learned about Korean skincare is that for many people who follow the lengthy Korean skincare regimen, they view taking care of their skin as a therapeutic and almost meditative act and I admire this mindset!

With Love,

Yasmin

Here are Three Things That Won’t Make You Happier

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I truly believe that deep down each and every one of us wants to be happy and I believe that ultimately we make many of the decisions in our lives with the hope that someday it will bring us some form of happiness.

Most of us have certain beliefs about what will make us happy. Some of the things that we believe will make us happy may indeed increase our happiness however, other things may not.

If you are in the search for happiness here are some of the things that research has shown that will not help you reach long term happiness.

Money

I know that this sounds cliche but money really cannot buy happiness. One research study showed that high income earners are not significantly happier than middle class income earners.

Obviously, we all need money to pay for shelter and our basic needs and then having some extra money can help us live a comfortable life. However, I think that one of the problems with money is that most people who start making lots of money never reach a point when they are satisfied with the amount of money they have. This is potentially dangerous because for some people the pursuit of money and riches becomes the purpose of their life.

I think most of us know that money by itself will not make us happy. But we feel that having lots of money helps us buy or gain the things that we want and this will make us happy. The reality is that material possessions only bring short term happiness. When we first buy something we may be excited and happy but after a while we get used to the item or something even better comes out and we often take the version of the item that we have previously bought for granted.

Material possessions may not bring lasting happiness but there is one way in which money can buy happiness. A research study has shown that after people have their basic needs met if they have extra money to spend on time saving services such as a housekeeper they will be happier. The reason is that they will have more freedom to spend their time as they wish.

Too Many Choices

This may be slightly shocking to some people but research has shown that when most people are given too many options or choices to choose from they often become exhausted and unhappy. Social Psychologists often refer to this phenomenon as tyranny of freedom or choice overload.

I know personally when I am shopping online I feel overwhelmed by all the choices that I see that I have to choose from. Even when I want to sit back, relax and watch a TV show I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of shows that are available. I don’t even have traditional cable so my TV viewing options are fairly limited but still there is just too much choice on Netflix!

On a more serious note though, we humans have a cognitive reserve that is limited and we can only make so many decisions until we run out of energy and we ideally stop for the day or we continue and risk making impaired decisions. The problem with choice overload is that we can easily deplete our cognitive reserve by making trivial decisions before we make the tougher decisions.

I think that this quote from former president Obama helps to explain this idea:“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits… I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Personally, what I like to do is every night before bed I choose my outfit for the next day and I basically get everything ready so that in the morning I don’t have to make any trivial decisions. Getting everything ready the night before really helps ease my morning routine and occasionally if I do wake up a little later I am less stressed than I would otherwise be.

Having More Friends or Followers on Social Media

I know this one is probably a pretty obvious one but having more friends or followers on social media will most likely not lead to you becoming any happier.

One particular study divided frequent Facebook users into two groups. One group continued to use Facebook as frequently as they usually did and another group was asked to take a one week break from a Facebook. The results showed that the group that took a one week break were happier and less stressed.

I think that the problem with social media is that we the social media users often tend to compare our lives with the lives of others and we often come to the conclusion that our lives are not as great as the lives of these other people. We become unappreciative of all that we do have. We often forget that most people only post the highlights or the best moments of their lives on social media.

I am a social media user myself and I would not go so far as to say that we should completely stop using social media. I believe that social media has many benefits as well. I have family that live all across the world and social media has helped us connect in a way that may not have been possible without it.

Also, social media has played a role in many positive movements across the world as well and I often see images and videos of people that are going through such difficult times and while these images are extremely hard to see I become aware of their struggles and I become immensely grateful for everything that I do have.

My humble piece of advice would be to first of all try to establish or strengthen relationships that you have in real life outside of social media because these are the people that are more likely going to come to your aid during difficult times.

Also, go through your social media accounts and simply unfollow accounts or people that make you feel bad about yourself or they just don’t add value to your life.

Always remember that social media is just a means of connecting and interacting with others but ideally it should not be the only way that we interact with each other.

A Final Note on Happiness

Life definitely consists of many ups and downs and it’s impossible to always feel content or happy. It turns out that accepting the fact that we are not always going to be happy is actually good for our overall well-being.

Research has shown that the pursuit of happiness does not lead to more joy. An Australian research study asked participants to what extent is being happy important to them. Then they were asked to keep a journal of all the stressful events that occur in their lives and and write how it made them feel.

The results showed that those who highly valued happiness felt more lonely during these stressful times.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the desire to feel happy and joyous however, if the desire for these positive feelings and emotions becomes obsessive then it will lead to more emotional pain rather than joy and happiness.

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