Guest blog: Hobbies for Health and Happiness


Hobbies: for Health and Happiness

By Jennifer Scott

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Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

 Being well means more than eating the right foods and working out three times a week. Whole health comes, in part, from simply taking the time to do the things we love. Participating in hobbies offers numerous mental, physical, and social benefits that can’t be accomplished doing the things you’re obligated to. Huff Post contributor Alan Kohll reports that leisure activities can even boost your job performance and keep your heart in tip-top shape.

Hobbies boost labor and school performance

While painting a picture isn’t quite the same as relaxing on the beach for a week, engaging in a hobby has a similar effect on the brain. Taking the time to relax doing something you love helps your body – and mind – reboot. Trying something new has the additional benefit of challenging your brain, which forces you to learn something new. And as with vacationing, taking a mini break by participating in organized fun may boost your performance at work and at school. A 2016 study published in the Public Library of Science found that students regularly involved in after-school hobbies (art, team sports, individual sports) were more than twice as likely to demonstrate above-average academic achievement. Inc. reports the effects are similar in adults. Employees involved in creative pursuits tend to perform up to 30% better in the workplace than their do-nothing-but-rest coworkers.

Hobbies improve mental health

Dr. Mark D. Parisi, a psychologist based out of Chicago, is an advocate of hobbies in the treatment of mental health disorders. Dr. Parisi notes that hobbies provide a host of benefits where it comes to mental health. These include stress reduction, mood improvement, an opportunity to forge new friendships through positive social interactions, and better long- and short-term memory. Hobbies are additionally associated with feeling happy, which can have a profound effect on those suffering from depression.

Best hobbies for overall health

There is really no bad hobby. But, there are a few that offer more positive benefits than others.

  • Dancing combines both physical activity and mental stimulation. People who dance must learn to coordinate their movements to music and/or their partner’s actions.
  • You don’t have to have a culinary degree in order to enjoy time spent in the kitchen. From learning how to make the perfect poached egg to composing a nutritionally-balanced weekly meal plan, cooking and baking are activities that engage the mind while producing tangible results from your efforts.
  • Not only does garden soil contain microbes that have a significant effect on your mood, but growing your own garden can boost your self-esteem by allowing you the opportunity to nurture something from nothing.
  • There is something satisfying about planning a trip and watching your expectations come to life at each destination. Immersion in new cultures will help you shift your perspective and possibly discover something new about yourself.
  • Playing music. While learning a new instrument as an adult may seem like a daunting task, there is evidence to prove that it’s an undertaking worth the effort. Live Science recently reported that something as simple as plucking out a few chords can reduce the signs of depression and anxiety while decreasing heart rate and lowering blood pressure.

Safety first

Regardless of which hobby you choose, don’t get so involved that you put yourself at risk. Your safety and that of those around you should be your number one priority. For instance, if you are cooking, make sure to have a functional fire alarm; when gardening, take care using electric or gas-powered tools. And, as with any new exercise routine, ease into dancing, running, jogging, and other physical activities or you’ll risk muscle strain or more significant injuries. Remember, the point of a hobby is to reduce stress – not add to it by watching hospital bills mount up.

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The Psychological State of an Egg


hbfchicken-farmmichael-george-4I am fascinated with the idea behind cage free eggs. Just to explain a little further, it’s not the egg that is supposed to be cage free because obviously it is caged within its own shell, but we’re talking about the chicken that was roaming freely in the farm or whatever amount of space that does not constitute a cage. The importance of this process is for the chicken to be in a healthy state of mind when it lays an egg which in turn will be in a healthy state of mind.

They say you are what you eat, so you want to make sure that the egg you’re about to devour or subject to boiling or frying, perhaps scramble altogether, or maybe mix it with  other ingredients that would change and erase any traces of its existence,  is a healthy egg with no psychological issues.

— Raghid Khalil 

 

Guest Blog: Tips For Building A Healthier, Happier Life After A Major Move


By Jennifer Scott

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Big changes in life can bring on stress and anxiety, even if the changes are for the best. Major life transitions like moving may related to a new job, relocating to be close to family, or ending a stressful or toxic relationship. Even if there are some negative components to the big changes ahead, this can be a great opportunity to embrace new, positive habits and take steps to ensure that your home is a healthy, happy, and stress-free one.

Flexibility and activity can make transitions less stressful

No matter how hard you work at anticipating issues related to a major life transition, hiccups are bound to pop up. Forbes notes that it is important to remain as flexible
as possible heading into big changes and allow yourself some grace when things feel difficult. Planning ahead and anticipating issues can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth transition, but it can become quite stressful if you do not allow for some changes
in plans along the way.

One great way to reduce stress and adjust to big transitions is to make an effort to incorporate regular exercise throughout the process. Colorado State University’s College of Health & Human Services details that exercise is essential in reducing issues related to depression, addiction, and stress. Adjusting to a new home can be taxing, but the need for physical activity can be a great excuse to get out and explore your new area. You’ll make new connections, discover new places nearby, and reap the benefits of exercise all at the same time.

Embrace strategies for clearing your mind to reduce stress

Creating a happy and stress-free home may sound like an impossible task when you are in the midst of major life transitions. However, taking a few minutes a day for yourself where you focus on positive actions can lead to lasting healthy, positive habits. For example, meditation can be a valuable outlet for relieving stress and developing coping mechanisms for leading a happier life.

Reader’s Digest indicates that the majority of people who try meditation see a reduction in their stress levels and many also see improvements in their relationships and overall wellbeing. Getting up a few minutes earlier in the morning to start the day off with some simple meditation techniques can set a peaceful tone for the day and many people find it helpful to create a special spot or nook in their home specifically for this self care time.

Focus on clearing out clutter to create a healthy environment

Apartment Therapy shares some simple suggestions that can pack a significant punch in creating healthy habits to make your home a positive place. Rather than rush around amid chaos before rushing out the door, take a few minutes to put everything in its place, make the bed, and so on. The minimal effort this takes on a regular basis will bring about calm and reduce your stress.

Mother Earth Living reinforces the idea that reducing clutter can help to make a home a stress-free and happy one. If you are facing a big move, as overwhelming as it may be, take the time at your old place to pare down and clear out what you don’t truly need. As you embrace your new home, remember that oftentimes less is more and keeping things open and clutter-free in your new space has a big impact on reducing stress.

There is no doubt that major life transitions like moving can escalate issues related to addiction, stress and depression. At the same time, a change like this provides the perfect opportunity to ditch bad habits and embrace new ones. Look for opportunities to clear out unwanted clutter and issues of anxiety when you move by keeping things clean and making time for self care activities like exercise and meditation. Build up the positives associated with your big change and embrace the fresh start ahead that can set you up for a happier, healthier life.

[Image via Pixabay]

New and Improved


tablets-309742_640I went to the pharmacy the other day to buy the usual brand of medicine for my cold and flu.

As I was checking out the isle, I noticed this medicine, which is what I was looking for, it’s as if it’s pulling all attention towards it. There was a perfect square around it of empty spots, in other words there were no other drugs adjacent to it from all directions; and there it was levitating almost, and there was this big sign pointing at it “New and Improved”.

Wowsers, I was so excited about it. I grabbed the box and took it to the pharmacist to inquire about the new improvements as there was that one line on there that mentioned the only active ingredient, followed by a two by two table for directions based on age: 1 tablet if under 12 and 2 tablets if over the age of 12.

Everything seemed exactly the same as the original one, but when I asked the pharmacist he graciously explained: “oh, the pharmaceutical company added a tiny booklet in the box because they didn’t have enough space to include the additional 30 warnings on the existing label. It is a state of the art with double glossed paper. They wanted to add some gruesome images but instead at the bottom of the booklet they put a link to the warning’s website, where your eyes can feast on all sorts of images. But hey, if you come back next month they will be reissuing the Cadillac of this medicine. It will come with a thumb drive that has a screen saver that will display all the warnings in close to 50 slides. Not only that but you would also be able to register the drug online after you purchase it and they would send you a DVD with complete simulation of all the warnings, walking you through the steps from A-Z. It will feel so realistic that you would cry at the end of each section.”

So there you have it, the new and improved indeed.

 — Raghid Khalil

Arabic Alphabets Animation


My talented husband spent so much time creating this beautifully orchestrated stop motion animation using play dough … Please watch, share and enjoy 🙂

–Rasha Nasser Khalil

Microsoft Windows Phone UI Suggested Concept


I have been using windows mobile phone since 2010, pretty much since they launched what was called windows 7 at the time. I was excited about it because it had a completely different look than any other O.S out there (namely Android and iOS).

But it was lacking so many features, to name a few:  you couldn’t resize the tiles, no background image capability, the notification bar was limited and wasn’t there early on, among many  other things. ( we’re not discussing the app  market, as I am hoping it will eventually grow).

The good thing however, is that they kept on pushing new builds , and of course with a new build you get new features, so my phone was bumped to windows 7.8 and then 8.1 and of course by joining the  insider program , you get to volunteer your device as a guinea pig, at your own  risk. That too, was ok with me, as long as I was getting new features.

Recently I bought my HP Elite x3 running on windows 10. It is a great device, but other than windows hello and perhaps the biometric recognition, there wasn’t much change to visually identify it from the previous versions.  As a Microsoft windows phone user, I feel like it’s no different than an iOS or an Android, the software remains the same, and there would be minor tweaks to the Hardware.

Now I have seen several  concepts out there, and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be nice if on top of the existing concepts out there to just add one more,  namely the 3D concept. it would look something like this: Concept 2.pngSecond Concept.png

 

It is self explanatory. Whenever you have a message for instance, you will still see the  number of messages waiting to be read, but you will also have this elevated box (3D rendering above), which will visually stimulate you to check the message, or at least point you in that direction. Once opened, it will return to its flat format (2D). it would feel like popping a bubble wrap.

Now this may not apply to all tiles as some of them are static, yet still this minor UI change does go a long way in making Windows Phone an even more unique experience to its users.

Feel free to comment and give your thoughts on this concept.

– Raghid Khalil

 

 

 

Guest Blog: How to balance Work and Life? Being A Workaholic


shutterstock_234650602The modern day is a stressful, complicated place. We are wearing so many proverbial “hats” and are constantly pulled in tons of different directions. We want to focus on our career, but we also want to be good parents. We want to take time to experience life, but we also want to make money and prepare ourselves for retirement. All of these things add up to a lot of stress and a lot of seemingly contradictory wants and needs.

One of the hardest things about modern life is learning how to achieve that elusive work-life balance. Being a workaholic may seem like a fairly innocuous trait, but it can sap you and ultimately leave you wishing you had taken more control over your life when you had the chance. What follows are just a few ways that you can work towards obtaining that elusive balance so many of us are looking for.

 

Leave Your Work At Work

This is really hard for people to do. For some, they literally take work home with them. They spend their evenings filling out paperwork or catching up on correspondence. For others, even when they leave the office, they are still thinking about whatever it is that they were working on. What this ultimately means is that  you never stop working. As difficult as it is, you have to be able to leave the “work you” at the office and not bring it home with you.

 

Take Time for You

This is probably the most crucial element of obtaining a work-life balance. You have to be able to cultivate elements of your personality and interest beyond work. You have to find ways to de-stress and to leave work, well, at work. For those of us who have spent our entire adult lives so career focused, changing that aspect of ourselves is not easy, but it is worth it. Too many people regret, at the end of their life, that they did not work harder to cultivate themselves.

Do not just let your vacation time pile up unused, you are given it for a reason. Vacation is the reward you give yourself for being a “good adult” and keeping up with your responsibilities. Hobbies are a great way to keep your mind and body active when you aren’t at work. Nobody wants to be “hollow” or “one-sided,” but this is exactly what a workaholic is.

Whether it is a physical activity, you join a club, you start meditating, you paint, travel, whatever – these activities will not only help reduce your stress, they give your life meaning beyond going to work each and every day. These are things that you can do with your friends and family, or as a means to meet new people, bringing greater intimacy and companionship into your life as well.

 

Delegate

This is something that many of us could do a lot more of. One of the stressful things about modern life is that we have simply added more to our to-do list. Mothers who work are still just that, mothers, which means their job doesn’t end when they leave work at the end of the day. This is why it is important to delegate tasks when you can. Giving the children a list of weekly chores not only instills in them an understanding of work ethic and productive activity, it also means that you do not have to do those things.

Split the chores up between the whole family and suddenly everyone has more time, without sacrificing the cleanliness of the home or at the expense of necessary errands. In the end, delegating is good for the whole family. It teaches children responsibility and allows a little bit of extra time for the parents.

Modern life isn’t going to slow down to wait for any of us to catch up, no matter how much we wish it would. We are tasked with trying to live two, three, or more different lives in one lifetime. We are mothers, fathers, managers, scientists, artists, fixers, etc. This can make the modern day world incredibly stressful for people and often, they get a singular focus and become obsessed or insanely focused on just that one aspect of their lives.

For many people, that is work. Work becomes all-encompassing and it consumes us. It does this at the expense of our families, our friends, our hobbies, and the rest of our personality. Finding a good work-life balance is difficult, but it is certainly not impossible. Simple things like leaving your work at work, delegating chores, making time for hobbies or other non-work activities, can make a huge difference in the quality of your life. You will find that you have more time for experience, for companionship, and you feel all-around less stressed out all the time.

 

References:

http://www.webmd.com/women/features/balance-life

http://www.salary.com/14-steps-to-achieving-work-life-balance/


Author Bio

Kelly Everson is an American author and having MA in English literature. After spending time as a writer in some of Health Industries best websites, she now works as an independent researcher and contributor for health news related website like Consumer Health Digest. In her spare time, she does research work regarding Beauty and Women Health, Fitness and lifestyle blogs, which acts as a fuel to her passion of writing. When she is not researching or writing, you can find Kelly staying active, whether it be practicing yoga or taking swimming classes. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.