Shahin S

Shahin S

Hi! I'm Shahin. I'm a doctor by profession but an artist, writer and traveller by soul. I have been interested in alternative therapies and psychological approaches to wellness for a while now and look forward to being a holistic healer and a wellness coach someday. I love to read, write, meditate, doodle, dance and generally have lots of fun.

Mental Health Affects of The Pandemic

Mental Health Affects of The Pandemic

It is of no doubt that the current pandemic has changed the course of the planet and life as we know it has been turned upside down. People have been forced to make drastic changes to their lifestyle as well as deal with the chance of contracting a fastly contagious disease that may be fatal. This is a time of huge stress for many as they struggle to cope with a crisis of this magnitude and the sudden changes around them. So it comes as no surprise that the mental health of many are currently being affected in different ways. This includes constantly worrying about your health and that of your family and loved ones, worsening of already existing health conditions- mental or physical, depression, anxiety, loneliness, panic attacks, suicidal tendencies, increased use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, etc. It is said that this could be considered as one of the largest psychological experiments where human beings all over the world are being forced to either quarantine, socially distance or isolate themselves. It is expected that there is going to be a surge of mental health problems by the time all this passes over and mental health care workers would need to prepare themselves to help rehabilitate the population once this is over. A study was done regarding the patients, family and health care workers during the previous epidemics like SARS, MERS and Ebola, revealing disturbing facts like how the victims and their families were avoided by the general public and isolated, thereby causing distress, and how the recovered patients tend to develop post-traumatic disorders. It is noted that the current pandemic would also elicit similar responses and many neuropsychological tests are currently being done to assess the psychological distress in survivors, as well as other groups who are under stress at this time, like hospital care workers. So it is important that the patients who have survived the disease undergo psychological assessments, as well as be provided with psychological support to make sure that they are coping well. Doctors and other healthcare workers, especially the nurses and other hospital staff, undergo a lot of stress and burnout during situations like this with no time to recover from the same, a fact that is being largely overlooked right now as the pandemic has collectively affected the population with no one having a clear idea on how to effectively tackle these newfound problems. Dialogues need to be initiated for the same and solutions need to be brought forth regarding the healthcare system, as this pandemic has shown how much discrepancy lies in the current system with what we thought was a model system. The mental health of our top frontline warriors is of utmost importance at a time like this and a dire need to upgrade the healthcare system is also being highlighted during this time. Other groups being affected right now are the breadwinners of the family who have left their jobs now to stay at home, worrying about how to continue feeding the family and also about the future as the economic crisis aggravates. Even though many have continued working from home, trying to keep things intact and handling the crisis well, many others like business owners and also manual workers who work for daily wages are seen to have taken the brunt of this catastrophe. The stress and anxiety affect not just them, but the family on the whole who depend upon them. The financial crisis is seen to have affected many bringing about depression and an onslaught of severe anxiety as people struggle to keep afloat. Another disturbing fact coming to the surface now is the amount of domestic abuse going on, as victims are stuck at home with their perpetrators. This is seen to be a common theme across the world as helplines are going off the hook with disturbing calls from victims. In India 'Childline India' helpline alone had more than 92000 calls for protection from abuse and violence in the past week. At the same time another organisation, that deals with domestic abuse survivors, says that the calls have drastically dropped as women are stuck at home with the abusers, unable to make the calls. This brings up a need to actively tackle these problems and the after-effects of such scenarios in the coming days. Having worked in an NGO that deals with psychiatric patients in rural areas and having done fieldwork by going to patients' homes who can't afford treatment or are bedridden, I can only imagine the effects this lockdown is having on patients that are already suffering from mental health conditions. Stress is the biggest factor that triggers many of these conditions, with the current atmosphere of fear and uncertainty making it worse. Patients are seen to struggle with coping with the current situation in a healthy manner as social media or the news constantly strews about negativity causing stress and anxiety, as well as the change in daily routines and being stuck at home with no option to go for work or have a personal space etc making things harder for them. Doctors and psychologists are trying their best to keep in touch with their patients as well as providing online platforms to provide consultation and therapy. It is very clear that this pandemic will require not just physical rehabilitation of patients but mental rehabilitation for a majority of the population, as they survive this stressful time and hopefully mental healthcare workers are preparing to be at the frontline fighting the unseen pandemic of mental illness in the future.

Are you feeling low during the pandemic, stuck indoors and worried about the future?

Are you feeling low during the pandemic, stuck indoors and worried about the future?

Are you feeling low during the pandemic, stuck indoors and worried about the future. Or have you been battling depression or anxiety for a long time now? Either way, there is a really good way to help tackle the blues and that is through movement. Get your body moving and heart pumping and slowly but surely you'll find your mindset shifting. Research shows that more physically active people reported greater general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm than less-active people. Exercise also plays a huge role in reducing stress and also in promoting better sleep, all of which, in the long run, help in creating and maintaining a better happiness quotient. Don't think of exercise or physical activity as a chore. If exercise is just another "should" in your life that you don't think you're living up to, you'll associate it with failure. Rather, look at your exercise or physical activity schedule the same way you look at your therapy sessions or medication — as one of the tools to help you get better. And remember - it's never too late to start. “Exercise stimulates the release of many of the brain chemicals thought to be in low supply when someone is battling depression,” explains David Muzina, MD, the founding director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Mood Disorders Treatment and Research. Releasing feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids) and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being. Regular exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits. It helps by taking your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety. A lot of research has been done that has proven time and again that symptoms of depression and anxiety get better with exercise. Remember that the mental health benefits of exercise and physical activity may last only if you stick with it over the long term. So start now and keep going. Here are some exercises to help you get started. Find the ones that suit your interest the most and stick to it for a long time and watch your life change for the better. Just move Certainly running, lifting weights, playing basketball and other fitness activities that get your heart pumping can help. But so can any physical activity such as gardening, washing your car, walking the dog or engaging in other less intense activities. Any physical activity that gets you off the couch and moving can help improve your mood. A recent review of numerous scientific studies found no association between the intensity level of the exercise and its emotional benefit. So simply moving your body in any way for 20 minutes daily is in itself a great start. Aerobics According to various research, aerobic and cardio exercises are found to be the best ways to fight depression. Around 20-30 minutes a day for at least 4 days a week shows amazing benefits for those dealing with the lows and stress of depression and anxiety. You could find a local trainer or watch youtube videos to get you started. Bur do make sure you talk to your doctor or medical professional before starting any rigorous exercise routine like aerobics or cardio, especially if you suffer from any health conditions like heart or lung issues. Starting slow is better for people who have other health conditions. Running Ever heard of runner’s high? This is a popular phrase for when the brain experiences euphoria because of the release of endorphins and other natural hormones after sustained physical activity. It has been reported that athletes and runners experience the release of these brain chemicals called endorphins when they cross a certain threshold of exertion. Endorphins are our body’s natural morphine and, when released by special glands in our brains, they can produce a sense of well-being or joy and also decrease pain levels. So get your running shoes on and go for that life-changing jog now. Strength training Strength training is about building your muscles, boosting your strength and your happiness. A recent study of 45 stroke survivors with depression found that a 10-week strength training program helped reduce symptoms of depression (among numerous other benefits). Just be sure to start slowly and use the assistance of a personal trainer if needed. “Strength training is about mastery and control,” says Leslie Seppinni, PhD, a clinical psychologist and family therapist in Beverly Hills. “It requires full attention and concentration. More importantly, people can see the results, the outline of the muscles forming, from dedication and training.” Do yoga In a study of 65 women with depression and anxiety, the 34 women who took a yoga class twice a week for two months showed a significant decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms, compared to the 31 women who were not in the class. Yoga along with meditation has in recent years been a go-to fitness activity for mental health. “Eastern traditions such as yoga have a wonderful antidepressant effect in that they improve flexibility; involve mindfulness, which breaks up repetitive negative thoughts; increase strength; make you aware of your breathing; improve balance; and contain a meditative component,” says Norman E. Rosenthal, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. Dr. Rosenthal suggests starting with a yoga class in your area so you can be sure that you’re doing the movements and poses properly. You can also do online classes that are being offered now as many places are currently still in lockdown. Tai Chi Tai Chi is another eastern tradition that comprises of slow, gentle movements which may help you break free from depression or major depressive disorder. In a study of 14 older Chinese patients with depression, those who took tai chi over a three-month period showed a significant improvement in their depression symptoms. The researchers theorized that the social aspects of tai chi, which is done in group settings, may have also played a role in its effectiveness. Either way this is a beautiful way to get your body and mind moving to help you heal from the blues. Walking Simply putting one foot in front of the other may be the trick to feeling better — that’s because walking is an aerobic exercise that is suited for almost everyone. All it takes is a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes, and you’re ready to go. “Practical wisdom suggests that doing something is better than doing nothing in terms of physical activity,” says Muzina. If depression has made you sedentary, start slowly and gradually increase time and distance.   Play outdoors If you enjoy being outdoors, even simple activities such as gardening, throwing a ball around with your kids, or washing your car may do you some good. That’s because a healthy dose of sunlight has been shown to boost mood, likely due to the fact that sunshine stimulates our serotonin levels (drops in serotonin during the darker, colder months have been linked to seasonal affective disorder, or SAD). Exercise is not only going to help you tackle those blues but it helps with many health conditions like heart conditions, diabetes etc to name a few but also in improving general immunity. It also helps in boosting your confidence. If you can make exercise goals, meeting these goals can also help you get in shape and feel better about yourself. Running outdoors or going to the local gym is a good way to meet people and socialize, which also plays a role in boosting your mood and alleviating stress. Exercising is about coping with your depression in a positive and healthy manner as compared to drinking alcohol or taking drugs to deal with it, or staying in bed and pondering on it, making it worse. So go ahead now and take that first step now and move your body to get back your zest for life.

Education During Covid-19

Education During Covid-19

In view of the recent lockdown and amidst the COVID-19 panic, one thing that seems to have caused a major concern worldwide is the entire education system coming to a standstill as schools shut down and kids are forced to stay home. The effects of the current COVID-19 pandemic and its preventive measures such as social distancing and lockdown has upended the life of students, parents, and teachers. Different countries have adopted a different approach to the current situation. The NCERT is exploring a new system of opening schools, while UGC is working out modalities for higher educational institutes, including colleges and universities for the upcoming session, the HRD Minister of India said. This is a unique scenario where an entire generation is facing an educational backflip while education authorities work full time in the background trying to make sure that classes continue in some form or medium like online classes/e-videos etc. It is true that technology has been a major lifesaver and game-changer in the current situation but what may seem like an easy way to get kids to continue learning via technology has its own extensive downsides that not many were taking into consideration but are now slowly becoming aware of as the lockdown continues. Time to think of a different approach? What is ironic, according to educator and professor of Sociology at JNU, is that even at this puzzling moment, we fail to see beyond techno-managerial solutions; seldom do we go beyond what is popularly known as ‘online’ learning. The assumption is that the lockdown period should not be wasted; and students and teachers must keep their ‘normal’ activities alive, complete the ‘syllabus’ through ‘online’ learning, and get their degrees in due time. Hence, nothing, it is thought, is more important than reading the same texts, completing the same kind of assignments, and listening to the same monologue of the teachers. Use technology, work from home, and continue the ‘academic production’! He goes on to show the absurdity of this kind of thinking. "I feel this is the time for an honest and rigorous self- reflection;" he says, "this is the time to understand the deeper layers of our consciousness; and this is the time to examine where we have gone wrong. Yes, this is the time to rethink education. It doesn’t matter even if we do not complete the official syllabus; it makes no difference even if, for instance, sociology students do not write yet another standardised term paper on Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, or philosophy students miss a couple of routinised lectures on Spinoza and Descartes. What, I feel, is really important is to unlearn the old baggage of knowledge, and derive a meaning of existence in the period of existential and ontological uncertainty." It is not just careers, but the current generation requires skills like empathy, creativity, resilience, adaptability, collaboration, communication, and emotional intelligence. Learning in schools will have a new purpose, and it will be a major deviation from the information-focused education of today. So basically, we have not only been given a chance to rethink the entire education sector, but also the opportunity to visualize how it can evolve in tandem with our changing world. While a small percentage of the population's thinkers contemplate how to see this as a shift in the usual way of thinking and change the system on the whole, the other side tries its best to continue the academic system as it is and continue the current curriculum by trying to hurry and get kids back to school as soon as possible or by implementing online classes. Teachers have been asked to tutor from home through various modes including SWAYAM, SWAYAM Prabha, Diksha, etc. But thinking that this is the way to go with disregard to the obvious problems in the country regarding this mode of continuing education has got many questioning the entire system and trying to think of alternatives as well as changing the system on the whole. The disadvantages of online classes Health If you remember your own childhood where your parents or guardians asked you to not sit too close to the television screen or spend too much time on the computers so as to not impair your vision, or as parents yourself, you ask your kids nowadays to not to always be on their phones staring at the screens, you know how much of an adverse effect this has on health. So imagine then what it would be like to have your kids stare at the computer screens all day in an attempt to learn from their teachers on the other side of the screen. As easy as it is made to sound that having your kids take online classes it is not really as rosy as it is made to be. It takes a toll on the kids' mental and physical health to sit stagnant all day glued to their screens and at the same time to use their mental power to do sums, learn history, geography, grammar or mathematics, and just generally keep up with the class, especially at a time like this when each child is living a different life at home. It is not just children who are going to be facing these problems, teachers are also being overworked right now. "It is nothing like I envisioned," says Harisa, mother of 4 and a teacher to the 5th grade. "Initially I thought it might be better to work from the comfort of my home, but the classes are more stressful when I take them online with me staying up all night some days, just to keep up with the technological requirements and correcting notes and grading tests. I'm currently overworked and tired all the time." So it is to be taken into consideration that it is not only the children who are being subjected to online stress but the teachers as well, who are trying their best to keep up with the situation and continue providing education to the children. Inaccessibility A basic prerequisite for e-learning is a smartphone with internet connectivity. In the recent article by CBSE titled 'Lockdown – A Golden opportunity for Education' which glorified the pandemic as an opportunity for teachers, parents and students to take education to the next level by moving to online education, describes the various ways in which educators, parents and children can make the lockdown more productive and learn via the online medium. But what seems to be painfully ignored at this time seems to be the fact that not all children have the privilege of access to technology or the internet for this to be an ideal solution for all. The 75th report of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) for 2017-18 shows that the all India percentage of households having internet facilities stands at 23.8% with rural availability at 14.9% and the urban at 42% and the data generated by Statista (2018), only 27% of the Indian population have smartphones. So what seems to be highlighted at the moment is the gross division between the privileged class who are able to access the makeshift classes while the kids from the more rural set up who have no access to computers or internet privileges whatsoever miss out on these so called opportunities. For most students in the marginalised sector, these schools are their only hope for education and even food. The higher rate of enrollment in the schools in these sectors are attributed to the mid-day meal scheme which now has come to a standstill causing a lot of unforeseen problems in the lives of these families regarding both the nutrition and education of kids. Parents dealing with their own problems Even if somehow all the children do get access to online classes, there are so many overlooked factors on whether or not this system can be implemented. One of them being that the parents who are currently working from home or going to work may not have the time to sit with their kids to make sure they are taking their classes on time or to make sure that they are in a safe space to study from as the internet is not always best place for younger (or older) kids to be left unsupervised. Younger kids who have no technical knowledge are to be helped in setting up the class and not all parents or guardians may have the time or energy even to make this happen for the kids. Even though it is true that a large amount of compromise and adjustment is required from everyone at this time, not everyone is actually handling the crisis in the same way. Many families have intrinsic problems like health issues of the elderly in the house, current unemployment and fear of the future and their own health issues to deal with not to mention all the myriad of problems brought about by the pandemic. CMIE’s data suggests that 11.9 crore people have lost employment in the two weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown. Investment in education is not going to be a priority, amongst disadvantaged households, and we might see a dip in enrolment, when and if, schools are opened. To try and make sure that their children continue learning in some way or the other cannot be fulfilled by all as everyone has their own demons to battle against at this time. Current solutions One of the possible solutions being considered by the government at this time is to reopen schools in the green zones while maintaining strict social distancing as well as to limit the number of students in a class by having them in different shifts. Even though this would still cut back on the amount of curriculum being covered, it is thought that the huge gap and the loss of an entire academic year can be cut down by a big margin via this approach. Modified seating arrangements, change in timings and further division of the class into different sections could be among the key features in schools when they re-open amid the coronavirus pandemic informed Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank during a live interaction with teachers last week. The need for the government to release more funds in the field of education is being highlighted right now as the current education system alongside the public health system has been exposed in the light of the pandemic to have been grossly underfunded, as they struggle to handle the crisis in a beneficial or satisfied manner. Some states have cut down the academic fees as parents may not be able to afford fees at the moment, but this on the other side can adversely affect the teachers as well, considering the fact that they are on a low-income standard as it is. The government needs to take action in providing for the teachers as they are surely one of the backbones of the country providing education for the future generation. A principal and an education leader in Dubai says to other leaders, to first and foremost, be open, be honest, be visible and be transparent with your staff and teams. They too are facing their own personal challenges. School leaders across the globe and locally are urged to come forward with their ideas and to share and collaborate with other leaders on their ideas which can keep the system from collapsing and provide ingenious ideas to work upon. One promising and interesting idea suggested and being worked upon in the state of Uttar Pradesh was to use Doordarshan, All India Radio and community radio, to promote audio-based learning among students who do not have access to the internet. Delhi also suggested data packages to children of the higher secondary classes, but the question of it being misused and how to implement a way to allow the package to be used only for certain educational apps are in the talks now. But what is evident is that even though India...

Using Color Therapy To Make Life more Colorful

Using Color Therapy To Make Life more Colorful

In today's modern life where stress, anxiety and depression are seen to be the norm taking a toll on people's mental, emotional and physical health, amongst the numerous remedies offered as a respite to this problem, there is one much overlooked but super-easy way to get joy, peace and calm back into your life. And this is through color therapy. What is colour therapy? Color therapy (or chromotherapy) is an alternative remedy that uses color and light to treat physical or mental health by balancing the body's energy centers. This concept dates back to ancient Egyptians who used sun-activated solarium rooms constructed with colored glass for therapeutic purposes. Colour therapy is also based on the idea that colors create an electrical impulse in our brain, which stimulates hormonal and biochemical processes in our body. These processes either stimulate or calm us. There are as many colors in color therapy sessions as there are colors in the rainbow. Colour Therapy is an entirely non-invasive holistic treatment that aims to bring balance to the energy of our body. It is often used as a complementary therapy alongside other treatments, and is a popular go-to practice for people suffering from depression, stress, and seasonal affective disorder. It is a safe and effective treatment and can be either be used on its own or alongside another therapy like physiotherapy or traditional medicine. Regardless of how it's used, it is important to understand that the therapy can strongly affect the mind and body. It is proven that both our mind and body react in different ways to different colors, and using the right shades of paint in home backgrounds can be a great way to keep stress levels under check. Colors can have a significant positive impact on us, emotionally, physically and psychologically. Imagine you had a busy day at work with short deadlines and cranky co-workers and you finish your day to come home to a living room with a comfy couch and a soothing blue background. This can instantly soothe your mind and alleviate your stress. Colour therapy is also based on the theory that your body craves certain colors, just like it unconsciously craves certain food or vitamins that it is deficient in. Your color cravings will depend on whatever is out of balance in your body. Your different organ systems and cells function optimally by using different wavelengths of color for their various functions. If one organ system is out of balance, you’ll crave the color energies that will bring that organ or cellular system back into balance. This is one of the reasons why red light, first discovered by NASA in 2004, was found to help heal wounds quickly, . How does Red Light heal? When exposed to red light, the mitochondria (powerhouses) of your cells respond directly and will kick into gear. Countless research studies conducted around the world have now proven what NASA discovered in 2004. Because of how our cells respond to these particular wavelengths of colored light, red light is used not only for healing surface wounds, but also for internal issues. Red light very effectively treats arthritis, joint pain, muscular pain, it stimulates bone growth, stops cold sores in their tracks, and even has an anti-aging and beautifying effect by stimulating collagen to get rid of facial wrinkles. So just as Red light affects us on a cellular level, simply looking at objects that are red in color, have a similar effect. It gives you more energy, speeds up blood flow and circulation in your body and makes you move, act and think more quickly. All colors affect us in this way Each color has its own particular effect and we crave the colors that our body needs to come back into balance. The colors we use to describe emotions may be more useful than you think, according to new research. The study found that people with depression or anxiety were more likely to associate their mood with the color gray, while happier people preferred yellow.  So color therapy is something that can be done by applying a certain color to any room in the home according to the need. For example, in the kitchen or dining room you may want to stimulate appetite, aid digestion or create a sociable and warm family atmosphere, hence shades and hues of reds, yellows and orange are perfect for doing so. How to select and use different colors YELLOW Use strong, bright colors when your spirits are low. Yellow is a bright, uplifting color which also stimulates the mind. Yellow is also a warm color known to have a purifying and cleansing effect. It is the color associated with mental clarity and wisdom and is great for when concentration and intellect are needed. Yellow is also known to clear mental fatigue and re-energize the body and mind. It is often used in schools because it keeps the brain ‘switched on.' At home it’s great for studies and kitchens, but bad for bedrooms and wind-down rooms as it is known for its liveliness and energy. There is something very positive about this bright color. Various studies say that rooms painted with a shade of yellow make people more active and conscious in decision making. While bright yellows can make your mind run faster, a lighter tone of this color can do exactly the opposite. Entering a room painted with soft yellow can make you relaxed as if you are being sun beamed and that is a beautiful feeling. Pale yellow brightens an area where activities happen, giving a happy, positive atmosphere. Since too much yellow will have our thoughts working overtime, stick to soft buttery tones if you want to get more rest. ORANGE Orange is also a color associated with stimulation and combating sluggishness. It is a great color for increasing mental energy and fostering courage, especially when related to attaining goals. Orange can make a room look smaller and if used in excess it will make a space feel claustrophobic and stressful. So this is not really good for bedrooms and study rooms as you may find it hard to sleep or concentrate. Since it is a warming and energizing color and known for stimulating creativity, it is best used in activity areas (like home work out areas), gyms and creative areas. BLUE Blue is a classic color and a favorite among many as it has versatile shades that can be used in innovative ways. It is a cooling color and helps with relaxation. It is known to create peace and serenity and has the power to calm a busy mind and rejuvenate the soul. One of the best stress management tools, this color contains a large volume of cool elements that can gradually put anyone to sleep. This is a good color for the living areas and also for bedrooms. Generally, people with blue bedrooms tend to get the best night’s sleep and wake up feeling positive and happy. This is due to the calming, cooling and relaxing qualities of blue, which are said to slow the heart rate, reduce blood pressure and help combat headaches. But it can also create the opposite effect if you're living in cold areas. According to a study by Pantone, office workers complained that an office was too cold when it was painted blue – but when it was painted a peachy shade they warmed up even though the temperature had not changed. The blues recommended are sky blues, duck egg blues and navy blues. Electric blues are more rejuvenating and invigorating. GREEN Green is a beautiful color associated with mother nature and is correlated with balance and harmony. It is associated with bringing energy and balance to the heart. Green is also used for healing, especially for relieving headaches. Green promotes self-love and compassion and when we reach balance we are then able to give love and understanding. Popular for its soothing nature, it can cut down anxiety levels by infusing harmony in the minds of people and turning them refreshed again. So if you are planning to experience the magic of green, paint your home interiors with pale-yellow greens or you can also go with beige greens to introduce happiness to your family. It is a color that is often used in hospitals as it has a tendency to comfort everyone present around it and is also associated with healing. Depending on what shade you settle on, it can create very different effects: bright greens improve vision and create a refreshing atmosphere, while softer, more natural greens are calming. Mellower tones of green are also excellent for children’s bedrooms – pale turquoises and sea greens will settle them but won’t leave them feeling lethargic. As an added bonus, green doesn’t carry any gendered connotations, as do pink and blue. RED This is another magical color that is warming and is known for its healing effects like revitalization and stimulation of the mind and body. It is associated with courage and power. It is a powerful color used in color therapy to increase circulation and clear circulatory blockages, especially in the back and joints. Red can be used to ease tiredness and lethargy as it is an energizing color. Dark red can be a passionate color for bedrooms as it is known to increase libido. But rather than going all out with the same shade, it’s best to have just one wall in a dark shade like maroon or ruby red as too much can be unnerving rather than arousing. It’s also an appetite stimulant, so try to deck out your dining room with red details. Again remember to choose only one wall or few spaces rather than go all out. Red always need careful choice of tone and depth and the space in which it is to be used as it can make a space look smaller and can be claustrophobic or oppressive. But when used in the right way, it can make a space feel warm and cozy. It is often seen to be used in restaurants giving a cozy feel. PURPLE/VIOLET Purple or violet is said to be a color of royalty and can be an interesting shade to work with. It is known to create self knowledge and awareness and also develop a deeper insight. This can soothe mental and emotional stress and encourage meditation, so it is a good color for meditation and prayer room. Dark, dramatic shades are amazing in moderation but can have a bit of a depressing effect if used too much. Since lavender shades are a sedative, try to avoid too much of its use in living or dining rooms as it can make them seem drowsy. A mixture of relaxing blue and energizing red, purple creates an air of luxury and sophistication, but it can reduce the number of hours you sleep. Since purple stimulates creativity and the unconscious mind, try to avoid its use as on bedroom walls as it may cause you to have more vivid dreams and leave you to waking up feeling tired. Instead stick to small pieces of purple articles that can add the royal purple effect without being too overwhelming. PINK Pink is one of the most comfortable and comforting colors out there. Although it is traditionally seen as a feminine color, such conventional mindsets are dramatically changing with people increasingly preferring it for their home interiors. Apart from beauty, this magical color is known for promoting peacefulness and igniting positive vibes in the room. Try rich rose tints or pale pinks in the bedrooms for a warm, nurtured night’s sleep and use peachier shades for bathrooms. Pink is emotionally soothing and calming. It relieves any feelings of loneliness and depression and brings an air of optimism and happiness. So go ahead and try adding that splash of color on your bedroom wall, the dining room or even your kitchen cabinets and watch your life come alive with new colors. Experiment with different...

Lockdown – How To Make It Through

Lockdown – How To Make It Through

People all over the world are stuck in all kinds of weird situations during lockdown that they never expected themselves to be in. Some are with their partners or their families while others are with friends. Some with flatmates that they barely get along with while others are all alone. People are being forced to adjust their lifestyles as they navigate this new way of life without troubling others and also keeping themselves and those around them safe. As we continue being confined to our homes till we flatten the curve and the lockdown is uplifted, it may be a good time to find ways to overcome the side effects of forced isolation. Do new things Astronauts who are well versed with isolation and how to deal with situations like this as part of their profession have been giving good advice on how to deal with social isolation. A retired astronaut, Chris Hadfield, 60, who authored the book “An astronaut’s guide to life on earth” feels that this pandemic is influencing group dynamics and feels like he can be of help in getting people to navigate this strange times. "To be isolated for a long time can be sort of frightening. Because you don't know what to expect. And whenever I’m frightened I try and really dig into the actual risks, the actual dangers. Become an expert on the thing that is scaring me. And that helps me deal with my natural fear" he says. To face your fears is a challenge but do that with total conviction and the will to overcome anything that life puts in your path, and to be prepared and planned, can give you the strength and confidence to face it and get through it. Hadfield further said that this is the time for one to master new skills, like playing the guitar, or learning a new language. So instead of feeding into the fear or focusing on negative news and draining your energy, shift your attention to the things that make you feel better and empowered and start using your time to be more creative and productive. Look into what you have always wanted to learn and be grateful that you have now been given time to follow that and make that happen. Take care of yourself and those around you Chris also says that the best thing one can do right now is to take care of themselves and their families. "So take care of yourself, take care of your family, take care of your friends, take care of your spaceship", he asserted, meaning your own body and health. This is by far the most important thing at this moment in time. To take a good hard look at how we have been treating our body and to make changes in your diet or your lifestyle. The importance of exercise cannot be emphasized enough as you continue staying home.  Add exercise or yoga into your daily schedule. Even doing something actively for at least a minimum of ten-fifteen minutes a day will go a long way in the long run. It's also a good time to give up on eating junk food and unhealthy food habits and get yourself to start being mindful of what you put into your body. Start making changes to what you consume. Be it in what you eat or what you watch or read on social media. Remember to be kind to yourself. Also try to extend this kindness to those around you even if they're not family. This is a good chance to create life long bonds and deepen the ones you already have. It doesn't matter that you hardly know your roommate, take this as an opportunity to get to know them better and make life better or easier for them. Learn to respect their space as well as give them company when needed and find fun activities to do when you're up for it. This will make it easier for everyone who's stuck together during this pandemic. Make sure you're watching out for them and take their needs into consideration. A small act of kindness can go a long way. Set a routine Nick Hague, an astronaut with NASA has spent several months onboard the International Space Station. He drew parallels between being locked down and being on the space station. He strongly advises setting and sticking to a routine. “It's simple stuff. It's to have a routine, you know, put a schedule together and stick to the schedule, because then everybody inside the house knows what to expect throughout the day. And just having some control and some certainty over how your day is going to play out is a huge psychological boost", he said. So this is one of the biggest things you can do for yourself at this time. Set a routine and stick to it. Developing a habit may take anywhere from 21 days to 6 months. So this would be a good time to hold yourself accountable for your habits and create new good ones that can serve you in the coming years and for the rest of your life. Self-discipline is one of the major keys to success and no one who lacks discipline is going to make it big in their life. So it is important to set a realistic routine that you can follow. Communicate easily and effectively Hague also emphasizes the need to talk, to express and to communicate and try and understand one's family members and friends or flatmates. Here’s what Hague had to say on how not to annoy people who are living with you during a lockdown. "You know, the people that are closest to us, the family, the loved ones, we know exactly how to annoy them. You know what their buttons are. And so it's really just trying to understand, you know, everybody is going through this. And so the key is communication. Express how you're feeling and listen to others, express how they're feeling and just being able to be open and talk about what everybody's going through. We'll let you identify the support that you need and the support that you need to give. And that's just going to make it so much easier. So talk. Don't bottle things up", he said. So take this time to be better human beings who talk things out and don't cling on to any toxic habits of annoying others or getting on other people's nerves. Instead tap into your own love and express that more rather than focusing on things that you don't like about the other person and taking it out on them. It is important to get through this together without eating each other's heads off. Be kind, gentle and practice empathy with the people you live with. You are with them at this time for a reason. Learn to adjust and let go of anger or hard feelings and instead cultivate a better way of communicating and being. Have your own me-time It is super important to have a time and space carved out for yourself at this time. You can retreat to that place any time things get overwhelming. It can get a little uncomfortable to spend all your time with people around you and at times you need to have a space where you can sit, read, journal, meditate or just do your own thing. You can ask others not to disturb you during this time or have them understand that it is important for you to be alone for some time. You can add this me time to your routine schedule. Overall try to find ways to alleviate any discomfort or anxiety associated with these strange lockdown times by working on your own mental and emotional health by bonding with family in a healthy way, exercising and making sure that you are eating better. Make self discipline your mantra this lockdown and work on cultivating new skills and finding ways to make things easier for yourself and those around you.

Isolation – to find yourself and love yourself

Isolation – to find yourself and love yourself

Has this isolation got you anxious as you find yourself having to spend more time with yourself and not sure how to handle it? Well, don't worry, as isolation has benefits that you can reap in the long run. Unless you are a super introvert (who also don't always like being alone for too long), its highly likely that you have difficulty being on your own. Being alone isn't our most comfortable state. A 2011 study from Harvard University and the University of Virginia found that subjects were so averse to loneliness that they would rather receive a series of electrical shocks than be alone with their own thoughts for 15 minutes. How crazy does that sound? More research was done regarding this inability of human beings, who of course are social beings, to stay alone for too long and it was discovered that it was better for your mental and emotional health to train yourself to be happy with yourself and overcome the anxious feelings associated with loneliness. You, of course, don't have to be a hermit and forgo all social connections as that in itself is also not healthy. It is important to remember that being alone and loneliness are two very different things. Loneliness involves being isolated despite wanting social connections, whereas being alone means taking time for yourself between regular social interactions. Research suggests that social isolation and loneliness increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer's disease, high blood pressure, and even early death. But research is also increasingly showing that there are real benefits to embracing "being alone" and finding things to do by yourself. So even though there is a wealth of research pointing to the psychological downsides of loneliness and social isolation, there is an increasing amount of evidence suggesting that a certain amount of quality time alone is critical to well-being. Some things, this research suggests, are just better off being done by yourself without the distractions, opinions, or influences of other people. So there are numerous upsides to being alone and using that time to find yourself and love yourself.  And here's how to go about doing it. Plan in advance Being alone doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you are used to surrounding yourself with friends and family or even prefer the company of strangers, learning to appreciate the joys of going solo may take some time. So make a plan. The best alone-time often happens when you set aside a specific period to be by yourself. Practise productive solitude According to Eric Klinenberg, a sociology professor at New York University, having smartphones and social media accounts at our fingertips heightens our aversion to being by ourselves. Our fears of missing out are stoked by endless photos of friends doing exciting things. We constantly need to be entertained, Klinenberg says, and as a result we've become alienated from what he calls "productive solitude." Eliminate the distractions. If you find yourself tempted to work, check out social media, or talk on the phone, start by turning off any potential distracting devices. Leave your laptop and phone aside and focus on doing something that you don’t normally get to do on your own. Reflecting on our actions and thinking about future personal improvements are the cornerstones of productive solitude. Carving out time to do these things can help make us happier, stronger and more accountable. This process allow us to step back and then return to the world with more insight and energy. "The only way we have a chance to make sense of our choices is through solo reflection," Klinenberg says. "Unless you're completely content with who you are and the way you live, productive solitude is necessary." Practise going out alone Even though this isn't a practise you can particularly implement at this time of lockdown, remember to do this later to learn how to enjoy your own company. Even though it can seem absurd to go for a movie or a concert on your own or have dinner by yourself at a restaurant, this is exactly what you need to do. Have you ever found yourself wanting to do some activities like go for a particular movie or watch your favorite band play but you would skip out on if you don't have friends who are available at that time to go with. Professor Rebecca Ratner of University of Maryland believes this fear is causing us to forgo fun. So instead of doing that, pick yourself up, make that booking and go by yourself. This way you may tend to miss out on less as well. It also makes you feel more empowered and gives you a boost of self-confidence. Her research has shown that doing an activity alone isn't any less enjoyable than taking a friend. In a study published this year, Ratner's team recruited participants from a student union and asked them to spend at least five minutes in a nearby art gallery. Some went solo, others in pairs. Participants were surveyed beforehand and asked how much they anticipated enjoying the activity. Unsurprisingly, those attending alone believed they'd have less fun. Upon leaving the gallery, however, the two groups reported enjoying themselves equally. So just take this chance to go out and enjoy things on your own. Michael Harris, the Toronto-based author of The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection believes we should balance solitude and socializing the same way we go about maintaining a healthy diet. "Social connection is not an evil thing any more than sugars and fats are," Harris says. "It's not about abstinence. It's about giving yourself multiple modes of being." But if you particularly have a problem being on your own, then try to spend more time with yourself and learn to be comfortable with yourself. The more you find yourself being comfortable with yourself, the more you tend to love yourself too. Practise sitting or trekking in nature alone Go for a hike in nature all by yourself. Going alone can give you a chance to connect with nature, challenge your body, and enjoy some peaceful solitude. Meditating in nature, hugging trees, watching a sunrise or even observing flowers for a while can give you a different perspective on life itself. Spending time in nature is also great for your health. Practise travelling alone Solo tripping is a hype for a reason. Travellers who travel alone as compared to travelling with a group or a partner have always found themselves discovering new ways of being and it is found to have completely changed their views on life. Vacationing and traveling alone may seem intimidating at first, but it can also be an exciting and rewarding way to challenge yourself and learn new things. Traveling alone is a great way to build self-sufficiency and confidence. You come back stronger and more experienced and able to handle more things in life on your own. Try it if you don't believe it. Volunteer or take a class on your own Sign up for a class where you can learn a new skill, whether it is something like cooking, dancing, painting, or some other hobby that has always interested you. Instead of being focused on doing what other people want you to do, you can pursue something that satisfies your own interests. Doing it on your own can give you a boost of self esteem and self satisfaction. You can also volunteer at any organisation that caters to your particular interest and this way you can contribute to the community and also have time to find yourself a little more. Research has shown that prosocial actions like volunteering can have a number of positive benefits. Since now it might not be feasible to try the last three options right away, as most of us are in lockdown, you can practise creating alone time at home where you set aside some time for yourself and engage in activities that allow you to feel a sense of inner solitude. Some people can achieve this feeling while listening to music or reading a book, while others might require the quiet of a peaceful session of meditation. Find what works for you, then make sure that you have regular moments where you can retreat to this quiet mental space. Learn to value solitude. In an ever-connected world that often devalues being alone, it is important to remember the importance of taking time out to spend with just your own thoughts. This may prove to be the gateway to your purpose and to your own salvation. Find yourself and learn to love yourself for who you are. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person." -Oscar Wilde.

Know Your Happy Hormones

Know Your Happy Hormones

Human life was designed to be a blissful experience as our bodies are primed to seek and attain pleasure and feel blissful happiness via the release of various chemicals that create happiness. But the current modern system of living along with the advance of the digital age has got people stuck to their armchairs and couches with their phones and laptops with reduced body movement and less intake of positive sensory input and more of consuming negativity. Life today is busy, and stressful schedules disrupt the neurochemicals’ balance in the body. All this has a major impact on your body, mind and emotional health. Depression and anxiety is on an all-time high with people having no clue on how to recalibrate their system and fix it to experience the natural high of life. What are happy hormones? Happy hormones are chemicals produced by the body, which is directly linked to experiencing joy in life. These hormones promote positive feelings, including happiness and pleasure and hence they are also known as happy hormones. The human body produces hundreds of these chemicals, and most of them are still not identified by the human race. However, we do know the most important brain molecules that control our well-being. There are four major chemicals (neurotransmitters) in the brain that influence our happiness (DOSE): Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, Endorphin. Other hormones responsible for happiness include Estrogen, Endocannabinoids, Adrenaline and Gaba. In this article will attempt to educate you on each happy hormone and how to get them to release naturally with simple lifestyle choices. #1: Dopamine Even those with no knowledge of chemicals and medicine have heard of dopamine – the system which is directly affected by the most addictive drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine. It is also known as the “feel-good” hormone and is an important part of your brain’s reward system. In addition to this, dopamine is closely related to the personality of an individual. Evidence suggests that extroverts have higher dopamine levels than introverts. This is why extroverts set higher goals and are go-getters in life, while introverts take actions that are more calculated and cautiously performed. Dopamine is associated with pleasurable sensations, along with learning, memory, motor system function, and more. Since this neurotransmitter drives your brain’s reward system, it is released when you are praised at work for doing a good job or completing a project or task which in turn results in feelings of well-being. Unhealthy ways of dopamine release include reaching out for unhealthy junk food like donuts or cupcakes, using drugs or even binge-watching Netflix or any show on TV. You can avoid these and naturally boost it by setting realistic goals and achieving them. Finishing a task or project (write that blog, draw that picture, complete a topic you wanted to study or research, or even clean up something) can help release dopamine. Even sticking to your workout schedule and achieving that can heavily increase dopamine release. Listening to music is also a fabulous way to get a hit of dopamine. So seek out pleasurable healthy activities that have a positive impact on your life to get this to naturally release in your brain.   #2: Oxytocin Often called the “love hormone,” oxytocin is essential for childbirth, breastfeeding, and strong parent-child bonding. This hormone can also help promote trust, empathy, and bonding in relationships, and oxytocin levels generally increase with physical affection like kissing, cuddling, and sex. Researchers from Claremont University in California have done extensive research on its impact on women, linking oxytocin release to life satisfaction levels. It may play a greater role in women’s physiology and happiness compared to men’s. In some studies, high levels of oxytocin have been correlated with romantic attachment. Get a boost of oxytocin by doing pleasurable things such as spending time with your family and loved ones, cuddling with your partner, your kids or even your pet(s), rather than spending time on social media. Hugging or any physical contact, especially for at least a minimum of 30 seconds is seen to release oxytocin. Being kind to others also stimulates oxytocin. In a cyber world, where we are often "alone together" on our digital devices, it is more important than ever to maintain face-to-face intimate human bonds and "tribal" connections within your community. Working out at a gym, in a group environment, or having a jogging buddy is a great way to sustain these human bonds and release oxytocin. #3: Serotonin Serotonin affects our bodies in many ways. It helps regulate your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory. The most common link is made with the person’s confidence and sense of belonging. Therefore, if a person wishes to increase serotonin and with that their sense of purpose, they need to challenge themselves on a regular basis. Serotonin is the most targetted hormone by anti-depressants which work by increasing the brain’s serotonin levels. The most effective and natural way to boost serotonin is by exercising daily. That’s one reason why a brisk walk does wonders for your mood. It's also seen to be triggered by getting enough sunlight. Since serotonin is not just a brain hormone with research showing that 80% of it being released in the gut, food plays a huge role in serotonin release. Carbohydrates increase serotonin levels, which partly explains why we crave sweet, starchy foods when we are feeling down. For the best mood boost with the least negative impact, choose healthy, high-fiber sources of carbs such as dense whole-grain bread or quinoa. Also to increase serotonin, challenge yourself regularly and pursue things that reinforce a sense of purpose, meaning, and accomplishment. Being able to say "I did it!" will produce a feedback loop that will reinforce behaviors that build self-esteem, make you less insecure, and create an upward spiral of more and more serotonin. #4: Endorphin The name Endorphin translates into “self-produced morphine." Endorphins resemble opiates in their chemical structure and have analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. They are your body’s natural pain reliever, which your body produces in response to stress or discomfort. Endorphins are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus during strenuous physical exertion, sexual intercourse, and orgasm. Endorphins are connected to the "feeling no pain" aspect of aerobic exercise and are produced in larger quantities during high intensity "anaerobic" cardio and strength training. In 1999, clinical researchers reported that inserting acupuncture needles into specific body points triggers the production of endorphins. In another study, higher levels of endorphins were found in cerebrospinal fluid after patients underwent acupuncture. Acupuncture is a terrific way to stimulate the release of endorphins. Endorphin levels tend to increase when you engage in reward-producing activities, such as eating, working out, or having sex. They can also be released through aromatherapy, so infuse essential oils in a diffuser, light that agarbathi (incense stick), use scented soaps and moisturizer, to feel your body naturally release endorphins. Laughter also releases endorphins. Interestingly spicy food was also found to release these hormones. #5.Estrogen and Progesterone Estrogen is a hormone which helps form serotonin and protects you from irrita­bility and anxiety, keeping your mood steady. Estrogen decreases with menopause, and lifestyle factors such as smoking and extreme exercise can also lower it. The estrogen/progesterone imbalance in perimenopause can also negatively affect mood. Since stress hormones, such as cortisol, interfere with the secretion, stress management is the best way to balance them. Increase estrogen with stress-relieving activities such as yoga, meditation, taking a hot bath or whatever works for you as a stress buster. Keep progesterone at optimum levels by eating well and avoiding saturated fat and sugar, getting regular check-ups and avoiding stress. #6.Endocannabinoids Endocannabinoids are self-produced cannabis that work on the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors of the cannabinoid system. Anandamide (from the Sanskrit “Ananda” meaning Bliss) is the most well known endocannabinoid. Interestingly, at least 85 different cannabinoids have been isolated from the Cannabis plant. It is likely that we self-produce just as many variations of endocannabinoids, but it will take neuroscientists decades to isolate them. A study at the University of Arizona, published in April 2012, argues that endocannabinoids are, most likely, the cause for runner's high. The study shows that both humans and dogs show significantly increased endocannabinoids following sustained running. The study does not address the potential contribution of endorphins to runner's high. However, in other research that has focused on the blood–brain barrier (BBB), it has been shown that endorphin molecules are too large to pass freely across the BBB, and are probably not responsible for the blissful state associated with the runner’s high. So running is the best way to release these amazing hormones. #7.Adrenaline Adrenaline, technically known as epinephrine, is a close cousin to dopamine. It plays a large role in the fight-or-flight mechanism. The release of epinephrine is exhilarating and creates a surge in energy. It causes an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and works by causing less important blood vessels to constrict and increasing blood flow to larger muscles. An "adrenaline rush" comes in times of distress or facing fearful situations. It can be triggered on demand by doing things that terrify you or being thrust into a situation that feels dangerous. You can also create an adrenaline rush by taking short rapid breathes and contracting muscles. This jolt can be healthy in small doses, especially when you need a pick me up. A surge of adrenaline makes you feel very alive. It can be an antidote for boredom, malaise, and stagnation. Taking risks, and doing scary things that force you out of your comfort zone is key to maximizing your human potential. However, people do often act recklessly to get an adrenaline rush, so if you’re an "adrenaline junkie," try to balance potentially harmful novelty-seeking by focusing on behaviors that will make you feel good by releasing other neurochemicals on this list. #8.GABA GABA is an inhibitory molecule that slows down the firing of neurons which creates a sense of calmness. This molecule is known for its anti-anxiety properties and benzodiazepines (Such as Valium and Xanax) are sedatives that work as anti-anxiety medication by increasing GABA. These drugs have many side effects and risks of dependency but are still widely prescribed. You can increase GABA naturally by practicing yoga, meditation or “The Relaxation Response.” A study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found a 27 percent increase in GABA levels among yoga practitioners after a 60-minute yoga session when compared against participants who read a book for 60 minutes. The study suggests yoga might increase GABA levels naturally. Conclusion Exercise releases just about all the happy hormones: dopamine, estrogen and serotonin to name a few and eating more healthy happy food like mussels, spinach, asparagus, eggs, salmon, dark chocolate, legumes and nuts, avocado and to take a probiotic (like yogurt or kombucha) is seen to boost happy hormones. ‘’Depression is treatable and yet, so common among people. I always explain to people who base their therapy on antidepressants – depression is not just a ‘feeling of unhappy’, but an imbalance of the happiness hormones in the body. As with any hormone misbalance, we must target the source of the problem to fix the problem itself’’ – explains Bethy Karlson, a psychology writing expert at aussiewritings.com. The sooner you become aware of the importance of the happiness hormones, the faster you will understand that an imbalance cannot be readjusted by simply taking a pill. Your primary goal to a healthy and happy life is to implement lifestyle changes in behavior that are essential for the balance in brain chemistry. Creating a good neurochemical balance that results in happiness isn’t something that comes with a step-by-step guide. So use this list of the most important happy hormones as a checklist by which you can adjust your daily habits to achieve balance.

The Eternal Pursuit of Happiness

The Eternal Pursuit of Happiness

Humans have been pursuing happiness as long as we can remember, and if you aren't prone to too much nihilism, you must be as well. What is happiness? Happiness is described as the overall subjective experience of our positive emotions. The human brain is wired for happiness and positive connections with others. It is actually possible to experience and learn happiness despite what has been genetically hardwired. Pleasure, comfort, gratitude, hope, and inspiration are examples of positive emotions that increase our happiness and move us to flourish. In scientific literature, happiness is referred to as hedonia (Ryan & Deci, 2001), the presence of positive emotions and the absence of negative emotions. If you are feeling low or generally tend to feel a little low in life, here are some simple but proven ways to uplift yourself and bring about more happiness into your life. These are not given in any order of importance as options like food and exercise may prove more beneficial for some whereas having better social connections may be the more important option for others. Either way, try to incorporate all of these to improve your life and have a wholesome happy life experience. 1. Understanding that happiness is not a goal but a reward for a healthy mindset. There is no point chasing after happiness as this pursuit itself denies you the experience of embracing happiness. If you think something outside of you is going to bring you happiness for eg.having lots of money is going to make me happy and you chase after it, this will only cause you to be more miserable. It may be true that having money increases your happiness quotient but that does not mean your happiness lies solely in it. If you put your hopes of achieving happiness on something you don't have yet and believe that you'll be happy only if you achieve it, then you are in for a disappointment. Achieving something may trigger the release of some happy hormones like dopamine at the time but you'll find your self back in your old self of wanting something more as a means to being happy as opposed to finding joy in and appreciating what you currently have. Attaching our happiness to external things and material wealth is dangerous, as we can lose our happiness if our material circumstances change. Also trying too hard to find happiness often has the opposite effect and can lead us to be overly selfish. So instead of waiting to get something and thinking that fulfilling that goal will lead you to be happy, change your perspective to an understanding that happiness is a mindset and work towards developing a healthy happy mindset. Stay in the moment and practice being happy now and having gratitude for what you have right now. Try it now and feel the difference.   2. Learn to be optimistic. Many people view optimism as naive or even a delusional trait. They say that if you’re realistic and understand how the real world works, you will tend to become pessimistic. Since we decide how to view the world and comprehend things around us is what defines us and how we tend to feel both short term and long term, it is up to us to decide whether to focus on the good or on the sensational negative jargon that is fed to us through the media and press. We can develop a positive mindset and train our minds to be happy in spite of being surrounded by an otherwise unfortunate circumstance. So try to switch from pessimism to optimism to lead a happier life. 3. Social connections and family time. Provided that you don't live in a dysfunctional family set up or have toxic friends, in which case you need to learn to put up boundaries and find people who are like you or can help you, its been proven that pursuing happiness through social means like spending more time with family and friends is more likely to be effective than other methods in terms of achieving happiness. Make sure you keep in touch with your friends and build deeper connections by sharing your life stories with them and with your family. Ask them to share their stories too and take time out to connect. Going on trips with friends and family is one of the best ways to bond and create amazing memories that will last you a lifetime. 4. Learn to love yourself. Feeling stressed after a long day of work? Treat yourself to a bubble bath. Feeling blue? Treat yourself to a yummy dessert. Feeling frustrated after an argument with a friend? Skip your workout and have an extra scoop of ice cream. Loving your self and being kind to yourself is really important when it comes to feeling happy. Learn to watch out for yourself when no one else will. Also accepting yourself as you are and embracing your flaws with a positive mindset of working on them is important. Loving yourself also includes letting go of certain things which can bring about huge shifts in mindset. Perfectionism is one such example. It involves inappropriate levels of expectations and intangible goals. It often produces problems for adults, adolescents, and children as they set to achieve something beyond them and are disappointed when they find themselves not able to reach those standards set either by themselves or by the society around them. Another thing to let go is social comparison. When we compare ourselves to others we often find ourselves lacking. Healthy social comparison is about finding what you admire in others and learning to strive for those qualities. Learn to focus on your own gifts and talents as you are unique in what you have to contribute to the world. Strive to become a better person than you were yesterday and work on yourself, rather than focusing on what someone else is achieving or has achieved. 5. Exercise and getting healthy. Excercise is long proven to improve both emotional and physical fitness. Exercise releases endorphins (happy hormones) and regular exercising is seen to play a major role in keeping you both fit, active and happy. So the easiest thing for you to do to make sure you are getting your daily dose of happiness is to start moving around and doing physical activity that keeps you from living a sedentary which can lead to sadness and depression. Don’t let your excuses hold you back from making this happen. If you can’t afford the gym or have time for it, exercise at home. Even something as simple as walking up and down the stairs, dancing to your favorite music to investing in a treadmill or an indoor cycle has proven to help beat the blues and stay healthy. 6. Eat happy food. Scientists have found that certain foods play a role in altering your mood. Research studies show that serotonin (another happy hormone) is not just found in the brain but more so in the gut. So food probably has a more important role in happiness than anything else so far. As tempting as it may be to reach out for that donut or chocolate cake when you find yourself craving sugar, its better to start investing in healthier food which doesn't give you a sugar crash and which help release happy hormones and keep you healthy, which is also very important in long term happiness. Food like honey, mussels, spinach, bananas, eggs and dark chocolate are all proven to improve happiness quotient and improve your mood. Beverages like green tea and coffee also plays a role in reversing sadness and giving you an energy boost as well as a happiness boost. So aim to start eating healthier and watch yourself shift to a better mindset guaranteed to bring about happiness. 7. Beat that stress. While stress may be something we can't avoid, be it in your job or generally in your daily activity like looking after your family, try to learn to be mindful, and incorporate healthy habits to beat that stress. Daily meditation is proven to help alleviate stress and help you manage it better in the long run. You should also treat yourself to break times and have a vacation when you feel like a burn out approaching. You should also set aside some me time to follow your personal passions or hobbies that brings you happiness (like gardening, painting or journaling). This goes a long way in making you feel productive and happy as you create something or grow something with your hands, thereby keeping you mentally fit as well. Sometime you may have to face major stressful events in your life that necessitate mourning and sadness. These include the death of a loved one, the loss of livelihood, or feeling trapped in a dead-end job. The way to become happy despite of these things is to address the issues and do something about them. If and whenever you find yourself overwhelmed either talk to your friends and family about it or seek professional help. If you find yourself experiencing depression, please seek professional help as psychotherapy and certain cognitive exercises can help a lot in overcoming this and improving the quality of your life. It is not healthy to suffer in silence or to not ask for help thinking of it as a stigma. More and more people are opening up these days regarding depression and chose to speak out rather than hiding it in hopes that it will just go away. Take proactive steps and you'll find yourself grateful for having done so. All said and done, there are other factors that contribute to happiness as well like doing random acts of kindness, helping out the community or your neighbors in some way, all of which can help you feel like you have contributed in some way which in turn boosts your happiness quotient. Try to read positive self-help books and watch happy funny videos or movies rather than focusing on sad negative news etc. Listening to good music that you enjoy is also proven to help boost your mood. If you have any drug or alcohol addiction, seek help and find ways to naturally boost your happy hormones to stay happier and improve life quality and longevity. All in all, find your own tailormade method to incorporate this beautiful feeling into your life. Forgive yourself if you find yourself self-loathing or not able to incorporate positivity and attempt to try again or start over. Believe that you can change your life at any given moment of time and take those steps today.

COVID-19 Affecting Men More Than Women?

COVID-19 Affecting Men More Than Women?

  As the virus continues to sweep across the globe, something that has got many doctors and researchers really pondering is the fact that COVID-19 seems to be showing a preference to males over females. Across the world, scientists are reporting that men are much more likely to suffer severe symptoms from the illness. There is clear evidence that COVID-19 seems to be affecting men compared to women. In Italy, one study of 1,591 cases of critically ill people who were admitted into intensive care units showed that about 82% of them were men. Another study done in March of people hospitalized in the U.S. for COVID-19 also found that "males may be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 compared with females." Public health information from the city of New York, which has one of the world's largest outbreaks, shows that men are more likely to be hospitalized and are nearly twice as likely to die. The city's department of health reports about 39 female deaths per 100,000 people and 71 male deaths per 100,000 people. What reasons could contribute to this? -Immunity - Research has always shown that women’s bodies are better at fighting off infection. Scientists know that, in general, women tend to have greater and more robust immune responses. This can be a double-edged sword as autoimmune diseases (where your immune system tends to attack your own body cells and tissues due to increased immune activity) are also more common in women. But it may also mean that women are more protected against novel invading germs. This could be due to the many immune function genes that sit on their two X chromosomes (men only have 1 X chromosome). Hormones are also considered to play a role here as testosterone (male hormone) has been shown to act as an immunosuppressant, which could also play a role in men dying at higher rates than women for coronavirus whereas oestrogen (female hormone) enhances immune defence and acts as an antioxidant, says a Danish analysis published in the journal PNAS in 2018, which looked into why women live longer than men even during epidemics. -Lifestyle-related factors - According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), more men (16.5 per cent) than women (13 per cent) still smoke. And if you’re a smoker, you’re already more likely to die from lung or heart disease, which would likely make recovery from COVID-19 more difficult as these are already on the ‘high risk’ categories established by the NHS.   But even though some studies in the beginning suggested that the much higher rate of cigarette smoking among men in China might be to blame, Sabra Klein, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Women's Health, Sex, and Gender Differences, who has just been awarded funding from the National Institutes of Health to study the biological differences between men and women who are infected with COVID-19, doubts that explanation. "What we saw in Wuhan has been replicated in every country around the world where we have accurate reporting," says Klein. "In countries like Spain, where the percentages of males and females who report smoking is not significantly different, we still are seeing this profound male bias in severity of COVID-19." Drinking habits are also considered to play a role as men are found to be more problematic drinkers than women and since alcohol is related to a lot of health conditions ranging from high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis to depression, drinkers are found to more vulnerable to this disease. Obesity is another lifestyle factor related to this disease and The Health Survey for England 2017 reported that men are more likely than women to be overweight or obese. -Another factor where gender matters is the presence of a protein called ACE2. Dr.Dickinson explains: “COVID-19 prefers to infect and latch on to cells that have this ACE2 protein on the outside. Recent (though not peer-reviewed) research on COVID-19 infected patients in China showed higher circulating ACE2 levels in men than in women and in patients with diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.   While there is still more research to be done, it does seem that females are designed to have a more robust immune response to COVID-19. "This is not the first time we have seen this gender difference,” says Dr.Dickinson. “SARS, influenza, Ebola and HIV have all affected men differently to women." A major concern amidst this pandemic is the fact that men tend to not present themselves in the health-care delivery system until they have greater symptoms, that is until they're showing more signs of disease. This could prove to be very dangerous as experts believe this virus poses more dangers for men. In view of this, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator asks all of the men out there, no matter what age group, that if you have symptoms, please make sure that you are tested, for your own safety and those around you

Current Pandemic Debate – Lockdown Vs Herd Immunity

Current Pandemic Debate – Lockdown Vs Herd Immunity

In the current situation of this fastly spreading pandemic, while many countries are imposing lockdown in the hopes of flattening the curve, a concept where people quarantine themselves so as to minimize the number of infections at a time so that the healthcare system does not get overwhelmed, others are seen to be adopting minimum lockdown in hopes of achieving herd immunity. It was seen last month when Britain tried to keep the economy running and did not impose curfews or lockdown which unfortunately backfired and led to a total lockdown. So whether to impose continuous lockdown or allow people to get infected in hopes of achieving herd immunity is going to be what looks like the biggest mass experiments in the history of the world. What is herd immunity? The herd immunity is a strategy to allow a majority of the population to get infected and then recover thereby gaining resistance or immunity to the virus. It occurs when a high proportion of the population is immune to an infection which usually occurs with a vaccine and since there’s currently no vaccine for the SARS-Cov-2 (the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19), scientists are investigating whether exposure and recovery from the coronavirus leads to long-term immunity. Herd immunity is achieved when enough of the population has become immune to the disease so it can no longer spread easily between them. A number of experts argue that this strategy could result in less economic devastation and human suffering than restrictive lockdowns designed to stop the virus’s spread. The main objective is to achieve enough immunity so as to decrease the death toll in case of a second wave of infection, which is usually expected in pandemics. Countries adopting herd immunity strategy Like mentioned earlier, the UK was one of the first few countries to try this approach but had failed as the hospitals got overwhelmed and death tolls rose to huge proportions thereby prompting them to do a lockdown to prevent further calamities. But countries like Sweden are leading the world right now in terms of achieving herd immunity. There seems to be mixed emotions regarding their approach and whether they're doing the right thing or not. Even though they were criticized by health experts claiming the country to be gambling with human lives and health care, Sweden has announced that its capital, Stockholm, is on track to achieve herd immunity by May. This means about 600,000 people in a city of a million could be largely immune to the virus. Doctors also claim that Sweden could very well achieve herd immunity in the next coming weeks giving hope to other countries who are waiting and watching to decide how to go about solving this novel problem. Lockdown Vs Herd immunity Many countries like Australia, the US, and some European countries have adopted the lockdown approach to gain time. “Buying time is absolutely critical in these early days in particular, so we can learn from the experience of others and the trials underway around the world," said Professor Bennett from Australia. India, though currently in lockdown which is to be lifted on May 3rd, is considered to be a good option to work with the herd immunity concept. “No country can afford a prolonged period of lockdowns, and least of all a country like India,” said Jayaprakash Muliyil, a prominent Indian epidemiologist. “You may be able to reach a point of herd immunity without infection really catching up with the elderly. And when the herd immunity reaches a sufficient number the outbreak will stop, and the elderly are also safe.” By allowing the virus to be unleashed in a controlled way for the next seven months would give 60% of the country’s people immunity by November, and thus halt the disease. Whether India will uplift the lockdown and choose to take the herd immunity approach is yet to be seen. In the United States, protests have erupted in many states, urging governors to rollback the stay-at-home orders that have shuttered businesses causing millions of people to be laid off. President Trump is seen to support this sentiment as he doesn't want the economy to crash but some public health officials and those in the president’s administration have warned that doing so too soon could result in another wave of cases. Countries like Italy, Germany, and even China are now seen to start allowing people back on the streets and to their jobs in hopes of achieving some immunity, recovery, and to cushion the economy fall. Whether this will lead to a second wave of infection which may prove to be fatal or fruitful in terms of immunity is yet to be seen. The alarming fact that many people who had recovered from the disease but are being reported as being re-infected is another matter of concern in this debate as this controversially affects the concept that a person infected gains immunity to the disease. People have now left the decisions in the hands of their governing governments who are in turn being advised by major health experts. In response to the lockdown vs herd immunity debate, El Pais the Spanish newspaper has this to say - “In no other crisis in the history of mankind has science played such an important role. But instead of a global consensus on how to respond, rarely have we seen such diverse national responses. We citizens must realize that our politicians - even if they are guided by the best intentions and the best scientific data available to them - have been wrong and will be wrong. This is how scientific knowledge is developed, through trial and error. Thanks to such diverse national responses we will be able to see within a relatively short period of time which measures work better. The mistakes will bring us to the right solution.”

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