Woman recycling her trash in coloured bins

10 Ways to Live an Eco-Conscious Life

Many people veer away from the idea of an eco-friendly lifestyle, fearing that this would require them to give up all of their creature comforts. 

However, this is not at all the case…

Take a look at these 10 small changes that you can make in your life to make your lifestyle more eco-conscious. 

Cut Back on Your Meat Consumption

The meat industry has been so devastating for the environment, and continues to cause so much damage. 

As you likely already know, humans could do with more space on the planet, yet 83% of the world’s agricultural land is dedicated to livestock production, even though this only delivers around 18% of the population’s calories. only delivers around 18% of the population’s calories.

Not only that, but the livestock industry produces large amounts of dangerous greenhouse gases, contributing to the planet’s pollution problem. 

Feeding goats in a farm

Are you a big meat eater? 

If your answer is yes, then the idea of cutting back on your meat consumption is not likely to sound very appealing. 

But did you know that this could benefit your health too, in addition to helping the planet? 

All you need to do is start small, phasing out the meat portion in one or two meals a week. There are so many meat alternatives available now, as well as delicious vegetarian recipes, giving you plenty of other exciting options. 

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Everybody has a carbon footprint, and while this term has been thrown about quite a lot lately, do you know what it actually means? 

Your carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment that you have contributed to. This carbon dioxide has such a detrimental effect on global warming, and if everybody sought to reduce their carbon footprint by just a small amount, this would make a huge difference to the environment. 

So, how do you go about reducing your carbon footprint? 

Here are a few easy steps that you can take: 

  • Buy local – from food to clothes, buying locally grown or made products whenever possible will cut back on the amount of carbon dioxide it takes to bring you your goods 
  • Make use of public transport – if more people used buses and trains, carbon dioxide emissions would be significantly reduced 
  • Cut back on flying – if you are a frequent flyer, try cutting back on this, saving your flights for when they are really necessary instead 

Go Organic

Let’s begin by making one thing clear…

If a food item is organic, this doesn’t mean that it is completely free from pesticides and other chemicals. Organic farmers are still allowed to use these, although to a much smaller extent. 

That being said, organic food is noticeably lower in harmful chemical residues. Not only is that beneficial to your health, but it also means that less of those chemicals have been released into the environment in order to grow the food that you eat.

Don’t like the high price tags that often accompany organic produce? 

Due to the fact that organic food is more labor-intensive to grow, and also sometimes produces smaller yields, prices are usually much higher than non-organic alternatives. 

While you may not want to completely overhaul every item you buy and swap these for their organic versions, there are certain foods out there that end up so much more contaminated than others, making it worthwhile to at least buy the organic versions of those. 

These are some of the items worth going organic for: 

  • Soft fruits – strawberries, raspberries and more have been tested, and over one-third of all samples contained at least 10 different pesticide residues, with one containing 22 
  • Spinach – this popular leafy green is almost guaranteed to contain pesticide residue, unless you go organic 
  • Applesaround 80% of tested apples contain traces of a pesticide that is banned in Europe
  • Tomatoes – these tend to be particularly prone to absorbing pesticides, with smaller tomatoes being more vulnerable 
  • Celery – this is quite a porous vegetable, meaning that it quickly absorbs chemicals. Samples have shown 13 different pesticides contained within these crunchy stems 
  • Potatoes – research shows that potatoes contain more pesticides by weight than any other food 
  • Milk – organic milk means that the cow hasn’t been fed any hormones, making the milk much healthier for you

When it comes to the other foods you eat, many of these, such as onions and garlic, will contain tougher external skin. This helps to protect them from absorbing so many pesticides. While they will still contain chemicals, the foods listed above are the ones to focus on if you are only planning on going partly organic. 

Switch to a Renewable Energy Supplier

There are now so many energy suppliers out there that offer 100% renewable energy sources for your home. 

Where does this renewable energy come from? 

The sources are varied, and include solar panels, wind turbines and hydro power.

Illustration of finite versus renewable sources of energy

Each one will have its pros and cons, and their viability will also depend on where you live, as well as how much energy you use. 

Not only is renewable energy so much better for the environment, but it could also save you some money. 

How? 

Well, firstly, renewable energy is cheaper. Secondly, many countries offer tax incentives for those who make use of renewable energy sources, giving you even more savings. 

If you are new to renewable energy, many companies offer free consultations where they will come to your house and give you advice on the best renewable sources for you, making this well worth enquiring about. 

Swap Instead of Shop

There are times when nothing can beat the satisfying feeling that comes from a day of retail therapy, but all of this consumerism is not doing the environment any favors. 

The clothes that you buy contribute to your carbon footprint, and the rise of cheaper clothing means that more and more items are now ending up in landfills, instead of being repurposed and reused. 

This is where clothing swaps come in…

They might not sound very glamorous, but they are a great way to get yourself some new clothes without having a negative environmental impact. 

Wondering where to find these clothing swaps? 

Many cities are now home to a swap shop, where you can bring in your unwanted items in exchange for tokens, which you can then use to purchase other items in the shop. There are many swap shops that are dedicated to other types of goods, excluding clothes, such as books, DVDs and more. 

Can’t find a swap shop near you? 

You can always gather together a group of people and arrange your own swaps. Simply have everyone bring in a certain number of items, and then let the swapping begin! Any leftover goods can be donated to charity shops, ensuring that there is no wastage. 

Start Composting

Home compost bins have been growing in popularity in recent years, and for good reason too. 

While some of the waste that you throw out, such as food waste, will break down in a landfill, the way in which it does so causes the release of harmful methane gases. 

A compost bin enables these natural items to break down safely, while cutting back on the amount of waste you send to a landfill. It also helps to make you more aware of how much plastic and other synthetic materials you are using, since you won’t be able to place these into your compost bin. 

Compost bin

An added benefit to home composting is the compost that you end up with once the process is done. This really is the very best stuff for your garden, and will be so much more superior to any compost you could buy in a bag. Even if you aren’t a keen gardener, you will likely have friends or neighbors that are, and who would be extremely appreciative for your homemade compost.

Reusables Instead of Disposables

Disposable products really have taken over recently, and there is no denying that they can definitely make life easier and more convenient. 

While this may be the case, have you ever thought of all the waste you are creating through the disposable products that you use? 

There are so many disposable products out there that could easily be replaced with reusable versions. 

Here are a few ideas of changes you could make around your home: 

  • Ink cartridges can be refilled 
  • Batteries can be recharged 
  • Reusable coffee filters 
  • Reusable razor blades 
  • Reusable food storage containers 

Yes, it may take more effort on your part to reuse products instead of simply reaching for a new one, but the environment will definitely thank you. 

Work From Home

While not everybody’s job enables them to work from home all the time, there are many jobs out there where this is possible at least once a week or so. 

How does this help the environment? 

Well, research shows that if one million people worked from home one day a week, this would cut back on three million tons of carbon dioxide being released into the environment each year. 

Not only that, but the lack of stress you will experience from not having to go through your daily commute will do your health plenty of good too. 

Not sure if your company allows employees to work from home? 

It’s always worth asking to find out, especially when you have such good eco-friendly reasons behind your request! 

Cut Back on Plastic

You likely use plastic in just about every part of your life, and all of this plastic soon ends up in landfills around the world.

Why is this bad?

Because plastic doesn’t break down properly, and also releases harmful chemicals into the ground, which then make their way into nearby water sources, contaminating surrounding ecosystems.

There are many other ways in which plastic is damaging to the environment, such as with all of the wildlife that ends up entangled in discarded plastic bags, or the animals that mistake the bags for food and eat them.

It does take quite a bit of dedication to really cut back on plastic usage…

Begin by looking at the food you buy. Many items are unnecessarily packaged in layers of plastic, but there are likely to be loose and unpackaged versions of these items available too.

Plastic bag usage is something that can be easily cut back on. Simply start using reusable bags instead, keeping these in your home, car, office and anywhere else that makes them easily accessible for when you need them.

Bottled water is another big problem, but, again, is easy to overcome. Simply stop buying bottled water!

Don’t like the taste of your tap water?

It may be worthwhile purchasing a water filter to filter out any chemicals that have been used in the water system.

Automatic Car Washes

Do you wash your car yourself, or do you take it through a car wash? 

People who wash their cars themselves likely think that this is much better for the environment, but this is actually the opposite from the truth…

When you wash your car yourself, you end up using 10 gallons of water every minute. On the other hand, if you put your car through an automatic car wash, this uses up around 15 to 30 gallons of water in total. 

Automatic car wash

This means that unless you are able to wash your car yourself in under three minutes, you would save a significant amount of water by taking your car through an automatic car wash instead. 

Each of these ten steps are quite easy to implement, and while they may not seem like huge changes, they definitely make your lifestyle so much more eco-friendly. From using renewable energy sources to cutting back on waste, following these steps will reduce the amount of damage that you are personally causing to the environment.  

Whole garlic and garlic cloves on a wooden chopping board

8 Foods for a Stronger Immune System

You have probably heard the term “immune system” so many times throughout your life, but do you know what your immune system actually is? 

Your immune system consists of a network made up of organs, tissues and cells, and these protect the body from foreign invaders and infectious compounds. 

Do you suffer from recurrent infections, digestive problems, inflammation or an autoimmune disease? 

If your answer is yes…

Then this means that your immune system is weak, and would really benefit from a boost.

Around 70% to 80% of your immune system is located in your gut, which is why the food you eat will have a direct impact on how your immune system functions. To really strengthen and support your immune system, here are eight foods that you should try to incorporate into your diet. 

Garlic

Just about every type of cuisine in the world makes use of garlic, and it has long since been used as a method of fighting off infections.

How exactly is it able to do this?

Well, garlic contains a compound known as alliin. When a garlic clove is crushed, or even chewed, the alliin within it turns to allicin.

The allicin within garlic contains sulfur, and this is what gives garlic its distinctive smell. It is also the reason as to why garlic smells its strongest after it has been crushed, compared to when it is a whole clove.

However, allicin is quite an unstable compound, meaning that it doesn’t stick around for too long.

What happens to it?

It turns into other compounds that contain sulphur, and these are what give garlic its medicinal properties.

There is plenty of research out there that shows how garlic is not only able to prevent you from falling sick in the first place, but also affects how quickly you recover when you do fall sick.

Those who consume more garlic will not only have a lower risk of catching a cold or developing an infection, but they will also feel better so much faster.

Of course, in order for the allicin in the garlic to work properly, you need to make sure that you always crush garlic and leave it to stand for ten minutes before you use it. This will enable the allicin to convert into medicinal compounds.

Wondering how much garlic you need to eat in order to experience its immune benefits?

As much as possible! But at least one clove per meal would be ideal.

Blueberries

Blueberries may be small, but they are actually packed with a number of important nutrients, all of which really support the immune system. 

There is one compound in particular that blueberries contain that set them apart from the other superfoods out there…

This compound is known as pterostilbene. When consumed, it boosts the way in which the CAMP gene functions. The CAMP gene, which stands for cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide, is responsible for creating specific proteins that protect the body from bacterial infections.

In addition to pterostilbene, blueberries also contain high levels of: 

  • Vitamin A 
  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Antioxidants 

Infographic on the benefits of blueberries

Can’t stand the taste of blueberries? 

Other dark berries, such as red grapes, cranberries and mulberries, also contain pterostilbene, although in smaller quantities. 

Cinnamon

Now that the festive season is approaching, cinnamon is a spice that you will likely encounter more frequently, and, in addition to adding a distinct flavor and scent to foods, this spice is also a powerful immune booster.

When consumed, cinnamon is able to increase the amount of T regulatory immune cells, also called Tregs, within the body.

What do Tregs do?

They basically control the way in which the immune system responds to foreign invaders, as well as those that are coming from the body itself. This not only helps to prevent autoimmune diseases, but also strengthens the immune system, enabling it to better protect itself against infections.

Of course, there is one downside to cinnamon…

The majority of popular recipes and dishes featuring this spice tend to be laden with calories and other unhealthy ingredients, all of which will only put a damper on your immune system.

Looking for a healthy way to cook with cinnamon?

Give some of these ideas a try:

  • Cinnamon French toast
  • Cinnamon chicken curry
  • Honey-cinnamon roasted chickpeas
  • Baked cinnamon apple chips
  • Cinnamon muffins
  • Cinnamon almond butter

You may need to get creative when it comes to using more of this spice, but the benefits that cinnamon brings really makes this worthwhile.

Turmeric

You have probably already heard of turmeric being called a superfood lately, with this ingredient becoming increasingly popular in recent years.

Why?

Because a number of studies have now been carried out that prove its many benefits, one of which is the way in which it boosts the immune system. 

How does it do this?

It all comes down to a compound called curcumin, which is what gives turmeric its vibrant yellow color.

While curcumin is mostly known for its anti-inflammatory properties, research shows that curcumin is also able to enhance antibody responses within the body, strengthening the immune system.

However, there is one thing to keep in mind when it comes to consuming turmeric…

Turmeric in its raw form is not easily absorbed by the body. In order to maximize its impact, turmeric should be gently cooked, and mixed with an oil, as well as black pepper.

Why?

The oil helps to carry the curcumin while the black pepper significantly increases its bioavailability.

Turmeric golden paste is a great way to consume the herb, as the recipe takes into account all of the above, and can be cooked up in less than ten minutes. This can then be taken on its own a few times a day, or mixed into your meals.

Turmeric paste in small clay bowls surrounded by turmeric powder

Wondering if you can just take a curcumin supplement instead?

Yes, but you likely won’t experience the same impacts when it comes to the benefits of this. Eating whole foods always tends to be more beneficial for the body, as not only will you be consuming the curcumin, but also the many other medicinal properties that the turmeric contains.

Kefir

Just like some of the other immune-boosting foods on this list, kefir has become quite popular lately. 

What is it? 

It’s a fermented drink made from milk, almost like a thinner and lighter version of yogurt. However, while yogurt contains just a couple of strains of beneficial bacteria, kefir can contain ten times this amount. 

Kefir brings with it a number of different health benefits, and, when it comes to the immune system, these include:

So, where can you get kefir from? 

One option is to purchase it, and you will usually find it at health food stores, with more grocery stores now stocking it too. 

However, there is a downside to this…

In order to be sold commercially, kefir needs to be processed. Even if this is minimal, the heat used ends up destroying a significant amount of the beneficial bacteria within the drink. 

For the very best results, you would be best off making kefir at home. There are several how-to guides out there that will walk you through this easy process.

Green Tea

Just about every type of tea is extremely beneficial for the body, but green tea is especially powerful when it comes to strengthening the immune system. 

Why? 

Because it contains high levels of epigallocatechin gallate, also known as EGCG. This is an extremely powerful antioxidant that has been proven to significantly enhance immune function. 

Wondering why black tea doesn’t contain this antioxidant, since both teas come from the same plant? 

Well, tea leaves for black tea are fermented, whereas tea leaves for green tea are steamed. The fermentation process for black tea destroys a large amount of the EGCG within the leaves, whereas the steaming process preserves this antioxidant. 

Not only that, but green tea also contains L-theanine. This is an amino acid that boosts the way in which your body’s T-cells are able to fight germs. 

Don’t like the taste of green tea? 

Many people find green tea to be too bitter. 

Here are a few tips to counter that: 

  • Use hot, rather than boiling, water, since boiling water brings out the bitter flavors of the tea
  • Add in a small amount of honey to sweeten the tea
  • Add in a few drops of fresh lemon juice to enhance the perfume and reduce the bitterness of the tea 
  • Mix a couple of sprigs of mint in with your leaves before topping with water, which is a common practice in Morocco 
  • Drink it iced, rather than hot, as this reduces its bitterness
  • Purchase a high quality green tea  

Dark Chocolate

Love chocolate? 

Then you will be happy to know that dark chocolate is fantastic for strengthening the immune system. 

Of course, this means that the chocolate needs to contain at least 70% cacao, as this ensures that there are high levels of flavonoids within the chocolate.

Dark chocolate on baking paper, with a metal spoon holding chocolate powder

What are flavonoids? 

They’re antioxidants that do a number of different things within the body, including increasing the amount of antibodies that the body produces. This then gives the immune system a huge boost. 

Thinking you can eat copious amounts of dark chocolate now that it’s been proven that this is a beneficial food? 

Unfortunately not. You still need to moderate how much dark chocolate you eat, since this food is still high in saturated fat and calories. 

If you know that you shouldn’t be consuming any extra calories on any given day, you could always give some dark chocolate a sniff instead, so long as you can resist the temptation to eat it! 

This may seem cruel, but it’s actually beneficial. 

Wondering how?  

Research shows that even the smell of dark chocolate can trigger the body to produce double the amount of antibodies in just 20 minutes. In the study carried out, this boost in immunity lasted for over three hours, although it did decrease as time went on.

Citrus Fruits

Whenever you’ve had a cold, people have likely advised you to eat oranges, or drink warm lemon water. 

Ever wondered why? 

It’s all down to the vitamin C content in citrus fruits, which amp up the body’s production of white blood cells. 

What do white blood cells do? 

They are cells within the immune system that protect the body from foreign invaders and infectious diseases. These cells flow through the blood all over your body, fighting against bacteria, viruses and other unwanted compounds. 

Vitamin C is extremely important when it comes to creating these. 

Since the body doesn’t produce vitamin C itself, it can be easy to become deficient in the vitamin, meaning that your white blood cell count declines. This weakens your immune system, meaning that you will fall sick faster, and take longer to recover. 

So, in addition to oranges and lemons, what other citrus fruits are there? 

Here are some of the most popular: 

  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Mandarins
  • Pomelo
  • Yuzu

Need another reason to eat more citrus fruits? 

Well, in addition to boosting the immune system, citrus fruits also: 

  • Improve heart health 
  • Protect against, and fight against, cancer 
  • Protect the brain 
  • Reduce the risk of kidney stones 

Wondering if you can just drink the juice instead of eating the whole fruits? 

While citrus fruit juices do contain plenty of nutrients, they are also extremely high in sugar. This can end up causing more harm than good when it comes to your overall health. 

When it comes to keeping your body healthy, your focus should always be on your immune system. In order to keep it strong and working optimally, your diet is so important, so make sure that you are incorporating immune-boosting foods into each meal. 

Happy woman working, talking on the phone

Why You Should Kick The Multi-Tasking Habit

Do you often try to multitask? 

For most people, the answer will be yes, with many believing that they are actually quite good at performing more than one task simultaneously. 

However, did you know that multitasking is something that the brain can’t physically do? 

While you may think that you are being more productive, there is plenty of research out there that proves otherwise, while also pointing to the fact that multitasking can be harmful to a person’s health. 

Here are just a few of the reasons as to why you should kick the multitasking habit. 

The Brain Can’t Multi-Task 

The human brain only has a finite amount of attention to give at any one time, and was actually designed to focus on just one task at a time. 

Think that your brain is different, because multitasking is something that you do all the time? 

Well, you may think that your brain is multitasking, but, chances are, it isn’t…

When you think you are multitasking, your brain is actually rapidly switching from one task to another. 

Each of these switches requires two processes: 

It takes just a fraction of a second for your brain to carry out these processes, which is why you don’t really realize that they are going on. 

This doesn’t seem like much time, but, when your brain is constantly having to switch back and forth between tasks, all of those extra seconds begin to add up. 

This routine also encourages bad brain habits…

What does this mean? 

Well, each time you completely one of the tasks that you are doing, even if this is something as simple as replying to an email or posting on social media, a small amount of dopamine is released in the body. This is a chemical that makes you feel good and accomplished. 

The brain loves dopamine, and the fact that these small amounts keep being released encourage the brain to continue switching from task to task, even when you don’t want it to. It also makes you think that you are accomplishing a lot, when really there isn’t much being actually done. 

Productivity Drops When You Multi-Task 

Most people multitask because they want to be more productive, not realizing that the opposite of this is more likely to happen. 

While you may think that you are getting more done in your time, research shows that it actually takes longer to complete tasks when multitasking, especially when compared to carrying out each task on its own. 

In fact, many experts believe that multitasking leads to a 40% drop in productivity, along with a higher chance of you making more mistakes.

Multi-Tasking Raises Stress Levels

You may not feel stressed when multitasking, but your brain definitely does…

All of that switching back and forth between various tasks results in cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, being released into your body. 

Why is this bad? 

Well, when it happens in small amounts, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, it is this hormone that gave humans the fight or flight instinct, and enabled our species to evolve in the way that it has. 

Infographic on cortisol and the stress response system

 

Cortisol is also important for several other functions in the human body, from bone growth to your sleep cycle. 

However, when cortisol ends up running through the body for long periods of time, this is where the trouble begins…

Excess cortisol has a number of detrimental effects on human health, including: 

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Digestive issues 
  • Increased inflammation within the body 
  • Heart disease 
  • Headaches 
  • Weight gain 
  • Sleep problems 
  • Impaired memory and concentration 
  • Premature aging

As you can see, cortisol, along with stress, is something that you want to keep to a minimum. 

There are likely already plenty of other stressors in your life, so don’t add to this by multitasking. 

Multi-Tasking Lowers Your IQ

Your IQ refers to your ability to think, reason and carry out cognitive tasks.

No matter how high your IQ may be, multitasking is something that will lower this back down.

In fact, multitasking lowers your IQ to the same level it would have been if you had stayed up all night.

Studies carried out on this subject have witnessed such significant IQ drops in men that it brings their IQ level down to that of an eight year old child.

Even just the thought of multitasking, such as knowing that you have an unread email in your inbox, can lower your IQ by 10 points.

It Could Contribute to Brain Damage

Research on this topic is still relatively new, but, so far, it shows that multitasking can actually lead to brain damage, with this damage being permanent in many cases.

How does multitasking result in brain damage?

Well, there have been MRI brain scans carried out on two groups of people – one group of frequent multitaskers and one group of people who don’t multitask much.

The results were surprising…

The scans showed that the group of people who multitasked more frequently actually had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for controlling your emotions.

A person’s memory can also be permanently affected by multitasking. Since the brain isn’t properly paying attention to a task, it will be much harder for your brain to then recollect information relating to the task in the future, not only damaging your short term memory, but also your long term.

It Also Prevents Learning

In order for your brain to properly learn, it needs to have enough attention to give to the topic. 

By multitasking, you are reducing the amount of attention your brain gives to each task, which will then prevent you from learning along the way. 

This is especially the case for younger minds, with research suggesting that multitasking can have a seriously detrimental effect on learning and grades while at school. 

It Could Lead to Over-Eating During Mealtimes

Multitasking isn’t just problematic when it comes to work and productivity…

It can also cause issues during mealtimes too.

Colleagues working late and eating pizza

So many people end up watching TV, going online or checking their phones while eating a meal. 

However, this lack of concentration on the food that you are consuming prevents your brain from properly processing all that you have eaten. This then means that it doesn’t send a signal to your body to tell it to stop eating because it is full. 

This results in you not feeling as full as you otherwise would have after a meal, either leading you to eat more, or to eat again after a short period of time. 

It Inhibits Creativity

If you are working on a project that requires you to be creative, then multitasking is something that you should definitely avoid. 

Why? 

Because creativity requires so much focus and concentration from the brain, especially if you are trying to use creativity to solve a problem. 

If you want nurture your creativity, then you will need to bring all of your attention to the creative task at hand, rather than letting your brain wander off onto other tasks. 

And Prevents Mindfulness 

Many would say that mindfulness is the most advanced form of attentiveness.

What is mindfulness?

It refers to being completely present in the moment, with many considering it to be a form of meditation.

Mindfulness brings with it several benefits, such as:

  • Decreased stress and anxiety
  • Improved cognitive functioning
  • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increased attention, focus and awareness
  • Calmness

As you can see, mindfulness brings nothing but positives, and is something that could benefit just about everyone.

Unfortunately, multitasking is something that really detracts from this, preventing a person from experiencing mindfulness.

How to Kick the Multi-Tasking Habit

Hopefully, by now, you will be in full agreement that multitasking is a habit you need to beat. 

But how exactly do you go about doing this? 

Well, although research shows that the brain can just about handle two tasks, but no more, at once, your best bet in kicking the multitasking habit would be to give single-tasking a try. 

Never heard of that phrase before? 

It is exactly what it sounds like – concentrating on a single task, rather than multiple tasks. 

This may sound simple, but, for many, it is actually quite difficult…

The key here is to force yourself to focus on the most important task at hand, giving yourself the time you need to complete this. Keep all other distractions well away, so that your brain is less tempted to switch over to another task. If you are at work, a clean and clear desk can really help with this, as simply glancing over at something else you need to do can limit how your brain functions. 

Is your schedule too full to focus on just one task at a time? 

If so, this doesn’t mean that you should multitask. Instead, it means that you need to cut back on some of the commitments you have made in your schedule. 

Try to prioritize everything that you need to do, dropping any tasks that are not actually important. 

For those with a packed schedule, you likely also need to learn how to say no to other people, as well as other tasks. Taking on more than you and your brain can actually handle will only be detrimental in the long run, so make sure that you don’t say yes to extra projects that you don’t actually have time for. 

Woman planning her schedule at work

Another technique that can help is to perform tasks in batches, which is also known as chunking. 

This basically means that you set aside chunks of time each day to perform certain tasks. For example, check your emails and messages all at once, once a day, rather than doing this constantly throughout the day. 

This enables your brain to fully focus on what you are doing, rather than having to switch back and forth. 

Not got enough self control to resist checking your phone and messages throughout the day? 

There are a few apps available that can help you with this…

These enable you to set a length of time during which the app will block you from checking your email, social media, or any other websites that tend to distract you. 

Still finding it difficult to kick the multitasking habit? 

Keeping a journal can really help. 

How? 

Because this will enable you to track how you work, along with how much you get done, while also keeping a record of any distractions you have faced. Being able to see all of this right in front of you can then help you to plan how to overcome your multitasking habit. 

Could Multi-Tasking Ever Be Beneficial? 

Although multitasking is never really beneficial, there are certain tasks that aren’t negatively impacted if you choose to do something else at the same time. 

The perfect example of this would be listening to music, or to an audiobook, while you are working out. 

Since the main task you are focussing on is physical, your body is able to do this on auto-pilot, as the task doesn’t require much brain attention. This then enables your brain to focus more on the second task that you are doing. 

Watching television while folding laundry is another example, as the folding is something that does not require much brain power. 

Multitasking is something that just about everyone does, although the majority of these people do not realize just how detrimental it can be. From reducing productivity to increasing stress, multitasking is a habit that you should try to tackle as soon as possible. Trust us, it won’t be long before you see all of the benefits that single-tasking can bring to your life! 

Young beautiful woman looking in the mirror

All About Skin Thickness Explained

Many people think that they either have thin skin or thick skin, but did you know that your skin thickness varies around your body?

Not only that, but skin thickness also changes with age, significantly changing your appearance, making skin thickness a topic well worth knowing a bit more about!

What Exactly is the Difference Between Thin and Thick Skin?

The skin consists of three main layers:

  • Epidermis – provides protection against the world around you, preventing everything from bacteria and viruses to pollutants and water from entering your skin. It also helps to keep your skin’s moisture locked inside
  • Dermiscontains the hair follicles, sweat glands and connective tissue
  • Hypodermis – composed of fat and connective tissue

Infographic on the three main layers of the skin

 

Within the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of skin, there are more layers to be found…

Thin skin contains four layers here, while thick skin contains five.

As you can imagine, this makes thin skin more vulnerable to damage than thick skin.

So, where on your body can you find thick and thin skin?

The Face

To put it simply, the skin on your face is much thinner than the skin on your body.

But, to make things slightly more complicated, different parts of your face will feature skin with a different thickness.

Let’s start with the skin around the eyes…

The skin here is up to ten times thinner than the skin on the rest of the face, which is why this area is usually the first to show visible signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. 

In addition to being thinner, the skin around the eyes, especially in the outer corners, is noticeably lacking in oil glands

Why does this matter?

Because oil glands are crucial when it comes to keeping the skin moisturized, preventing wrinkles and fine lines from developing.

So, how can you properly care for the skin around your eyes?

Here are a few tips:

  • Make use of antioxidants – make sure that the skin care products you use contain plenty of vitamins A, B, C and E, as well as beta-carotene and other antioxidants 
  • Keep it moisturizedmoisturizer gives your skin an additional layer of thickness and protection, making this especially important for areas of thin skin. Sodium hyaluronate is one of the best ingredients when it comes to hydrating this part of the face
  • Sun protectionbeing so thin, the skin around the eyes is highly susceptible to sun damage, so make sure that you are not only using a sun cream, but also wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat for added protection
  • Avoid squintingthis will only speed up the rate at which your fine lines and wrinkles develop
  • Be gentle – the skin around the eyes is delicate, so make sure that you are gentle when doing everything from removing makeup to cleansing. Don’t ever tug or pull at the skin here

Woman applying eye cream in front of mirror

Another part of your face where you will find thin skin is…

Your lips!

Yes, your lips consist of the same layers of skin as the rest of your face. The difference lies in the thickness of the epidermis, with the lips featuring an extremely thin epidermis.

Just like with the skin around your eyes, the skin on your lips does not contain any oil glands, with the only source of moisture here being the saliva from your mouth.

It goes without saying that the best way to give your lips some extra nourishment is by providing them with an additional moisture source, such as a hydrating lip balm. Try to find one that contains SPF, as the skin on your lips will experience UV damage just like the skin on the rest of your face and body.

The Neck and Chest

When it comes to the skin on your body, the skin on your neck and chest is the thinnest.

Again, just like the thin areas on the face, the neck and chest do not contain as many oil glands, meaning that both of these areas are highly prone to the visible signs of aging. Added to this is the fact that the neck undergoes so many different movements throughout the day, with all of these repeated motions leading to loose skin and wrinkling.

So, what can you do about this?

It’s actually quite simple…

All you need to do is extend your regular facial skin care routine downwards, so that you are covering your neck and your chest too.

Yes, this means everything from your cleanser to your exfoliant to your serum to your moisturizer, as the skin here needs all of this just as much as your face does.

The Hands

The hands are quite similar to the neck and chest, in that the skin here is quite thin.

This is why many people can instantly tell your real age just by looking at your hands.

Not only that, but the hands tend to be the part of the body that are always exposed to the sun, yet many tend to neglect this area when it comes to applying sunscreen. All of this sun exposure only leads to a breakdown in your skin’s collagen and elastin, making it even thinner than it was

How can you give the skin on your hands the care that it needs?

Moisturizing is key.

You likely wash your hands more often than you wash any other part of your body, but, each time you do, you are actually drying your hands out.

To counter this, make sure that you apply a layer of moisturizer or hand cream each time you wash your hands. Don’t worry about completely drying them either, because the cream will work so much better on damp skin.

Sun protection is also important. If you tend to forget this, try finding a hand cream that already contains SPF.

The Feet

Foot soak with flower petals

While the actual soles of your feet may feature skin that is thick, the skin covering the rest of your feet is relatively delicate.

However, not only does it have to deal with its own fragile nature, but it also experiences so much wear and tear from the use of improperly fitting shoes.

In fact, 70% of foot problems are caused by ill-fitting shoes, and this definitely isn’t going to do your skin here any favors.

As you can imagine, the best way to prevent this is by making sure that your shoes fit you properly. Any quality shoe store will be more than happy to help you with this. 

A moisturizer or foot cream can also really help to keep the skin here moisturized.

But don’t forget…

Just because the soles of your feet have thick skin, this doesn’t mean that you can completely neglect them.

The skin here contains no oil glands, meaning that it is prone to dryness.

Sun damage can also take a toll here, often without people even realizing.

So, why not give your entire foot some TLC each week?

Give this indulgent foot routine a try:

  • A foot soak – either in a small tub or a bath, add in some Epsom salts, colloidal oatmeal, jojoba oil, and a few drops of your favorite essential oils, before soaking your feet for around ten minutes 
  • Exfoliateuse a pumice stone to gently give your feet a rub
  • Moisturizemake sure that you apply a layer of moisturizer while your feet are still slightly damp. To make sure that it doesn’t rub off, try slipping on a pair of thin cotton socks
  • Oilif your feet are especially dry and are cracking, a layer of a moisturizing oil, such as olive, coconut, or safflower, can really help

The Elbows and Knees

The elbows and knees experience quite a bit of friction, since they are usually rubbing against something.

This is fine when you are younger, but, as you age, skin cell turnover declines, meaning that your older skin cells remain on the surface of your skin for longer.

This means that the rough and discolored skin cells on your elbows and knees, caused by all of the extra friction, build up, leading to the appearance of thicker skin around these joints. The skin here can also often look and feel dull and rough.

So, what can you do about this?

Exfoliation, especially with hydroxy acids, can really help. These acids will dissolve away the glue-like substance that is holding the dead skin cells to your elbows and knees, allowing this rough and discolored skin to simply be washed away.

What you will be left with are the fresh and new skin cells beneath.

While they may look radiant and new, don’t forget that they are also extremely vulnerable to the elements, especially the sun. Sun protection is always important, but it becomes even more so after you have exfoliated.

Keeping the area moisturized is also key. Look for a rich and thick moisturizer that contains urea and hyaluronic acid, as these ingredients will really help to hydrate the skin.

If you are already using a retinol product on your face, try using this on your elbows and knees too.

Why?

Because the retinol will not only exfoliate the skin here, but will also increase collagen production and keep the skin smooth and firm.

Skin Thickness Changes with Age

Even though parts of your skin may already be quite thin, your skin thickness actually changes with age, with your skin becoming even thinner the older you get.

Illustration of young versus aged skin, with hyaluronic acid, collagen and elastin content

Why does this happen?

Due to several different factors, such as a breakdown in collagen and elastin, along with a decrease in oil production.

In fact, after the age of 20, a person produces around 1% less collagen in their skin each year.

If this sounds frightening, don’t worry just yet…

There are actually several different ingredients out there that can not only help to prevent thinning skin, but can also help to thicken thin skin back up.

INGREDIENTS TO PREVENT AND TREAT THINNING SKIN

Here are just a few of the ingredients that you can turn to if you are worried about thinning skin:

  • Retinol – a potent derivative of vitamin A, retinol has been proven to thicken both the epidermis as well as the dermis. It also stimulates the production of collagen and elastin within the dermis
  • Hydroxy Acidsboth alpha and beta hydroxy acids are exfoliants, meaning that they clear away the top layer of skin. While this may seem as though it is thinning your skin, the act of exfoliation actually sends a signal to the epidermis to produce more skin cells. By exfoliating regularly, your epidermis will soon naturally thicken up 
  • Vitamin Cextremely effective at boosting natural collagen production, while its antioxidant properties help to protect skin cells from environmental damage
  • Vitamin Eworks hand in hand with vitamin C, magnifying the way in which it works
  • Plant Oilsthese can give your skin the nourishment it needs to thrive, while protecting it from environmental damage. Look for oils high in oleic acid, as this will contain extra antioxidant properties. Oils to consider include avocado, camellia seed, olive, and apricot kernel 
  • Peptidespeptides are basically mini proteins, and, when applied topically, they send a signal to your skin to produce more collagen
  • Hyaluronic Acida humectant that draws moisture from the air into the skin, therefore hydrating it and plumping it up, giving it an immediately thicker and healthier appearance

Now that you understand how skin thickness varies around the body, you will be able to take the necessary steps when it comes to protecting areas of thin skin. These areas are extremely delicate and fragile, and if you want to delay the onslaught of skin aging for as long as possible, learning how to properly care for your skin is key.

Happy young woman singing to herself in the kitchen, with headphones

15 Fun Ways To Move More

Keeping fit is very important.

Why?

For a number of reasons, such as:

  • It helps to keep your weight under control
  • It prevents certain health conditions, such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, different types of cancer and more
  • It boosts your mood, thanks to the way in which it triggers your brain to release feel-good chemicals
  • It increases your energy levels
  • It boosts brain function
  • It improves digestion and gut health
  • It promotes better sleep

Don’t enjoy exercising?

This is actually quite common, but it only means that you haven’t yet found the right physical activity for you.

If you need some inspiration, here are 15 fun ways to get moving more:

Cook Yourself a Meal

Did you know that you can combine the time you spend cooking yourself a meal in your kitchen with a workout?

You are probably wondering how…

Well, there are a few ways in which you can go about doing this:

  • Enthusiastically wiping down your counters will burn 200 calories an hour
  • Putting away any gadgets, and doing things like mashing potatoes or kneading dough by hand, will really use some muscles
  • Use your counter-tops to do a few push-ups
  • Perform a squat each time you load something in the dishwasher
  • Wash your dishes by hand

Not only will all of this give your body some exercise, but you’ll also end up with a tasty meal at the end of it. Just make sure that it is something healthy, so that you don’t undo all of the hard work you have just done! 

Doga

Never quite taken to the idea of yoga?

You might change your mind if you can bring your pooch with you…

Doga, which refers to doing yoga with a dog, is becoming increasingly popular, because not only is this a great way for people to keep fit, but their dogs benefit too.

Having your dog with you also makes the whole experience so much more fun, as well as social, since pooches are such a great ice breaker when it comes to meeting new people.

Woman doing yoga at home with her dog

There are doga classes held all over the world, but if you would like to give doga a try from the comfort of your own home first, you will find several tutorials online that will help the two of you to get started. 

Geocaching

If you used to love treasure hunts as a child, then geocaching may be right up your street.

Never heard of it before?

All you need to do is download a geocaching app on your smartphone, and then pick a set of GPS coordinates in your area. Follow these coordinates to find the geocache, which is a hidden marker or container at that location, but can be just about any shape or size.

What do you do once you find the geocache?

Open it up and sign the logbook. Some geocaches also have small gifts within them. However, the rule of the game is that if you take something, you need to replace this with a small item or gift of your own

Once you are done, put the geocache back in the same place that you found it. You can then share your experience via the app if you desire.

There are geocaches hidden in 190 countries around the world, with millions to be found, so you will never be short of new adventures to have.

Pole Dancing

Pole dancing as a workout has become so popular, with these moves offering up a fun way to stay active.

The best way to begin is by signing yourself up for a pole dancing class, as these will take you through the basic moves that you need to know.

Wondering how pole dancing benefits your body?

In a number of ways, such as:

Thanks to how popular pole dancing classes have become, these are now available in so many different countries, with competitive rates.

Horseback Riding

For those who love animals, especially horses, horseback riding seems like a no-brainer when it comes to keeping fit.

Two friends riding horses in the woods

Even if you have never ridden before, this is such an easy hobby to pick up.

Just be warned…

Horse riding can become extremely addictive!

Want to know how to get started?

Look for a riding center or stables near you, and then see what sort of lessons they offer. You will usually be able to choose between private lessons or group sessions. Both of these have their advantages, so opting for a mix of both would probably be best.

Circus Workouts

The circus is always so exciting and awe-inspiring.

If you love the circus, why not bring some of that energy and excitement into your own life?

You are probably wondering how to do this…

Many gyms around the world now offer circus-inspired workouts.

What do these involve?

A wide mix of activities, from juggling and trapeze work to tumbling and jumps.

Just one thing to keep in mind…

Make sure that the gym you choose uses equipment that has been modified for beginners.

Community Trash Pick-Ups

Passionate about environmental causes?

That same drive can also help you to get moving more.

How?

You have likely heard of, or even participated in, community trash pick-ups. These are basically when people from the community get together to clear up trash from a certain area, whether this may be a park, a beach, a forest, or any other natural setting.

Not only will you be doing good for your local environment, but joining in on one of these sessions will also get you moving quite a bit, and will work out a number of different muscle groups in your body.

Trampolines

Many people equate trampolines with children, but more and more adults are turning to trampolines as a way to stay fit.

How does all of that jumping help your body?

Well, not only does it tighten and tone your core, but it also helps with calorie loss, and gives you a cardio workout that is just as effective as going for a run, but without stressing your joints in the way that running does. 

Happy excited woman jumping on large trampoline

There are so many different moves that you can do on a trampoline, and plenty of classes that you can join to teach you how to do these.

One thing to remember…

While you may be tempted to get bouncing straight away, make sure that you warm up for a few minutes first, as this will prepare your muscles for the workout ahead. Cooling off for a few minutes once you are done is also just as important.

Exergaming  

If you love video games, then exergaming could be the perfect workout for you.

What is exergaming?

It refers to playing video games that encourage you to be physically active.

Research shows that many exergames can offer up the same health benefits as traditional exercise, and there are an increasing number of studies that continue to back up the many benefits that exergaming has. These include:

One big benefit to exergaming is that not only does it keep you moving, but it is also a form of entertainment, and is one that will likely easily keep you fully engaged.

There are exergames available on all video gaming platforms, from the Xbox to the Wii, and even on mobile devices, making this an easy hobby to pick up.

Play a Musical Instrument

You are probably wondering why playing a musical instrument is on a list of ways to move more…

This is because playing a musical instrument actually results in an increase in physical activity.

How?

Well, no matter what instrument you choose to play, you likely make full use of your arm and back muscles, not only while you are playing but also to hold your instrument up.

Certain instruments, such as the drums, will even give you a cardio workout!

Karaoke Workouts

Do you love to sing?

If so, you definitely need to give a karaoke workout a try.

These are usually found at cycling or spinning classes, with a television screen, complete with karaoke words and instructions, attached to each bike.

If you are quite picky about the type of music you enjoy, it would be worth checking out the song list before signing up to the class. Some instructors, in order to prevent students from getting too carried away, will only open up certain songs during each class.

Friends singing karaoke at home

If you have a friend with a karaoke system at home, that’s even better! This means that you can get a group of friends together to belt out your vocals.

High Heel Workouts

Yes, a high heel workout is exactly what it sounds like – working out in your high heels.

Wondering why you would want to do this?

Well, these workouts not only give you some exercise, but also teach you how to wear high heels safely.

When you are wearing a pair of heels, your center of gravity shifts to the front. These classes will teach you how to adjust your posture when this happens, so that you don’t cause any damage to your lower back or feet.

This will also help you to strengthen your lower leg and foot muscles, both of which will make a long day on your feet seem much less tiring.

Hula Hooping

Hula hooping has become quite trendy recently, with everyone from Kelly Osbourne to Michelle Obama giving it a go.

Hula hooping is a great way to give your body a workout, because not only does it strengthen your core, but it exercises other muscle groups too.

When it comes to weight loss…

You lose about seven calories a minute while hula hooping.

Think this doesn’t sound like much?

It’s actually more than what you would lose per minute when doing everything from walking briskly to aerobics to Pilates.

Unknown woman hoola-hooping at the beach

Never quite got the hang of hula hooping?

Here are a few tips:

  • Go for a heavier, rather than a lighter, hoop, as this makes it easier to build momentum
  • A bigger hoop will be easier, as this gives you more time to react to the movements necessary 

Cleaning Your House

Don’t have time to work out?

Try combining a workout with a house cleaning session instead.

While housework may be boring, giving your body a workout at the same time makes the task seem all the more valuable.

Wondering how to do this?

Here are some ideas:

  • Do squats or forward bends when putting items away 
  • Walk briskly up the stairs
  • Wash dishes to tone your arm muscles, making sure to do 20 repetitions per arm
  • Perform lunges while using your vacuum cleaner
  • Stretch your body and muscles while dusting
  • Iron for an hour, with a good posture, to burn around 150 calories
  • Blast some music and dance around the house while cleaning

Not only will you end up with well-worked muscles, but you will also be able to enjoy a clean house at the end of it all.

An Urban Workout

Do you live in an urban area?

There is no reason why you can’t use the urban environment around you to put together a fun workout.

How?

Begin by heading on over to your local playground…

The equipment that you will find here is ideal for pull-ups, while a picnic table is great for doing some tricep dips.

Found some spare tires?

These can be used for shoulder presses, while a park bench is perfect for push-ups.

Exercising definitely does not need to be boring. There are so many unique and fun ways out there to get your body moving more, so try being more creative when it comes to finding ways to stay physically fit.

Tired woman at her work desk

What’s Causing Your Daytime Fatigue?

Do you often find it difficult to stay awake and concentrate during the day?

If so, you could be suffering from daytime fatigue, which is often linked to another medical problem.

Here are nine different causes of daytime fatigue, as well as tips on what you can do about them.

Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia is a condition that refers to either:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • An excessive amount of time spent sleeping

If you have hypersomnia, you will likely find yourself falling asleep at random points during the day, even while you are talking or driving.

Hypersomnia is extremely common, affecting around 40% of people at some point in their lives. 

What causes hypersomnia?

Here are a few of the most common causes of the condition: 

  • Sleep disorders, which will be explained in more detail below
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • A head injury
  • Being overweight
  • Genetics
  • Depression and anxiety

So, if you have hypersomnia, what can you do about it?

You should first have this confirmed by your doctor, who will also be able to prescribe different drugs to help treat the condition.

You can also try to identify the cause of your hypersomnia, and then work to reverse this. For example, if it is caused by being overweight, losing weight can help, while changing your sleeping habits so that you get more sleep will prevent sleep deprivation from causing your hypersomnia.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is extremely common, and simply refers to a person not getting enough sleep

How much sleep is enough?

Experts recommend between seven to nine hours of sleep each night, although this does vary between individuals, and also changes with age.

While missing out on a couple of hours once in a while will not cause any harm, experiencing frequent bouts of sleep deprivation can definitely lead to daytime fatigue.

How can you overcome this?

The obvious answer would be…

Get more sleep!

Here are a few tips to help you to get more quality sleep:

  • Set a regular schedule – a regular sleep schedule will help to train your body clock into feeling tired at the same time each evening, while waking itself up at the same time each morning. Make sure that you stick to this schedule, even on the weekends
  • Stay away from caffeine or alcohol from late afternoon onwardsboth of these can hugely impact your sleep, as well as its quality
  • Don’t keep blue light-emitting electronics in your bedroomthe blue light that comes from the screens of these devices keeps your body awake for longer
  • Avoid daytime nappingeven if you feel tired during the day, avoid the temptation to nap, as this will only prevent you from falling asleep at the optimum time that night
  • Work out in the morningsyou may think that exercising would help you to fall asleep, but this actually raises the heart rate and triggers the release of adrenaline into your body, both of which will keep you awake. However, exercise done in the mornings, or even the afternoons, can actually help you to sleep better at night
  • Avoid eating two hours before bedthis sets your digestive system in motion, which can keep you awake

Infographic on how to get better sleep

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders cause you to frequently wake up during the night, which then interferes with the quality of your sleep, leading to you feeling chronically fatigued each day.

These are some of the most common sleep disorders:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea – the most common sleep disorder, affecting more than 20 million adults in the USA alone. This disorder consists of a blockage in the airways, meaning that the brain wakes itself up to send a signal to the respiratory system to continue functioning normally. This usually causes a person to stop breathing for about 10 to 20 seconds, and can occur hundreds of times throughout the night, without a person even realizing it
  • Narcolepsythis is an autoimmune disorder in which the brain is not able to properly control its sleep and wake cycles. This means that you experience the REM stage of sleep, which is when you are sleeping the deepest, at random points during the day
  • Restless Leg Syndromethis neurological disorder causes a person to feel an uncomfortable sensation in their legs, which leads to them moving their legs around to relieve this. Since this makes it difficult for a person to fall asleep, as well as stay asleep, the result is daytime fatigue

Treatments vary for each sleep disorder, and in some cases, especially for restless leg syndrome, these disorders can be a sign of a more serious medical condition. This makes it important to see a doctor if you think that you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. 

Depression

Depression is much more common than you would think…

Around 300 million people around the world, including 16.2 million adults in the USA, have depression. It is also believed that around 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lives. 

What does this have to do with daytime fatigue?

Research shows that people with depression are much more likely to experience daytime fatigue. Not only that, but people who already have daytime fatigue are much more likely to end up depressed.

As you can see, this results in a vicious circle that can be difficult to break out of.

When it comes to treating depression…

There are many treatment options out there, depending on the severity of your depression. This is something that only a professional can advise you on, so make sure that you speak to a doctor if you think that you may be depressed.

Too Much Caffeine

Coffee is commonly drunk to help people stay awake and alert, but, sometimes, it can have the opposite effect.

Woman holding a cup of espresso

While a cup or two won’t do any harm, drinking too much caffeine can lead to:

  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • A jittery feeling
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

What happens once the caffeine wears off?

You end up “crashing”, resulting in you feeling completely fatigued.

What can you do about this?

Well, let’s begin by what you shouldn’t do…

Drinking even more coffee in order to overcome this would be the worst way to deal with the problem.  

Instead, try to cut back on the amount of caffeine you drink.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to completely cut caffeine out of your life, because this will only leave you with withdrawal symptoms.

Try slowly weaning yourself off the coffee, as well as any other caffeinated drinks. Replace these with water or other drinks, so that you are consuming less caffeine each day.

A Poor Diet

The food that you eat fuels your body, so it only makes sense that your body will feel weak and tired if it is not being fed with the right nutrients.

Let’s begin with the most important meal of the day…

Breakfast!

So many people out there skip breakfast, not realizing just how crucial this meal is.

Why is it so important?

Because the food that you eat for breakfast helps to wake your body up, giving your metabolism a kick start for the day. Without breakfast, your energy levels will be lacking from the start of the day.

If you don’t have time for breakfast, or are simply too tired early in the mornings…

Try putting a small grab-and-go morning snack together the night before, and then slowly build up your new breakfast habit to encompass larger and more filling meals.

Now on to the rest of the food you eat…

Try to avoid large and heavy meals during the day, as these can often leave you feeling bloated and lethargic.

Make sure that your diet is a balanced one, featuring plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, nuts and seeds. 

Why is this important?

Because if you eat processed, high-sugar foods instead, this causes a spike in your blood sugar levels. Once this drops back down, it leaves you feeling fatigued and low.

Premenstrual Syndrome

PMS manifests differently in every single woman out there.

For many, daytime fatigue is one of the symptoms, and this is actually extremely common.

Your body produces a hormone called melatonin, which helps it to regulate its sleep cycles. During your premenstrual phase, as well as your menstrual phase, melatonin levels fluctuate, often decreasing. This then keeps you up at night, making you feel fatigued during the day.

Not only that, but the hormonal changes during your premenstrual phase can lead to an increase in the amount of deep sleep that you experience. However, this occurs during the day as well as the night, causing you to feel tired and sluggish.

Dehydration

Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated?

This is a condition that affects millions of people, even though it is so easily prevented.

How does this relate to daytime fatigue?

Because research shows that dehydration is the number one cause of midday fatigue.

How does dehydration cause this?

Due to the way in which a lack of water causes your blood pressure to drop. This then leads to headaches, fatigue and a loss of concentration. 

How much water should you be drinking each day?

This varies, not only depending on your weight but also your activity levels through the day. A good amount to aim for would be around two liters a day, but don’t forget that you will also be getting a small chunk of this from the food that you eat, especially if your diet is high in fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Infographic on daily water intake

Can’t seem to drink enough water during the day?

Here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Mix up a pitcher of fruit-infused water to give your water some extra flavor
  • Try to drink a full cup of water before every meal
  • Download an app to help you to track how much water you are drinking, as well as setting alarms to remind you to drink some water
  • If you are drinking a sugar-filled drink, try diluting this down with some water
  • Install a water filter, as this can help your water to taste better
  • Mae sure that you drink one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume

Remember…

If you are feeling thirsty, then this means that you are already dehydrated.

A Sedentary Lifestyle

More and more people are experiencing a sedentary lifestyle these days, and this is actually a common cause behind daytime fatigue.

How are the two connected?

Well, the lack of physical activity leads to your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems de-conditioning, while also depressing your mood. Both of these can then result in daytime fatigue.

There is so much research out there that backs up the way in which exercise is able to help reverse daytime fatigue, making this something well worth trying.

Hate the idea of exercise?

Physical activity doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours in the gym.

If you really think about it, you are guaranteed to be able to find some form of physical activity that appeals to you. Whether this may be a dance class, a group dog walk, a visit to the beach, a gardening session, or even blasting some music at home and dancing around the house, any activity that gets you up and moving regularly can help you to feel less fatigued during the day.

Daytime fatigue is extremely common, but so frustrating to deal with due to the way in which it impacts everyday life. In order to overcome your daytime fatigue, spend some time working out the cause of it, as treating the root issue will be the most effective way to deal with the problem.

Athletic woman enjoying a glass of orange juice in the kitchen

Key Foods for a Heart-Healthy Life

In the fast-paced world of health and fitness, it seems like there’s a proclamation of new “superfood” every other week. Does it get confusing? We think so. Which is why we’ve narrowed it down to the top eight foods you should be consuming for your best heart (and life).

Leafy Greens

“Eat your greens” is a mantra that should definitely not be disregarded even in adulthood.

Green-hued veggies are among the healthiest foods you can feed your body.

And if you’re not sure where to start in this green sea of health, here is a simple primer on the most beneficial leafy greens.

Spinach, one of the most accessible and user-friendly leafy green is not only supremely tasty, but also great for your immunity, your skin, as well as your mental capabilities.

This is because this particular leafy green is absolutely loaded with all sorts of immunity-boosting minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients. These include vitamins A, C and B6, but also beta-carotene, lutein, potassium, zinc and magnesium.

Bonus points: due to its mild flavor, spinach can be consumed fresh, which makes it easier to prepare and incorporate in your day-to-day meals.

Kale, an absolute favorite among wellness enthusiast, has earned it celebrity status for its incredible nutritional stats. Namely, kale is one of the richest sources of Vitamin K, which helps keep your bone healthy and promotes better calcium absorption.

Often overlooked but equally healthy are collard greens, which 

Leafy green nay-sayers might object to leafy greens, either because it might seem like they’re difficult to plan meals around or simply because their taste isn’t exactly palate-pleasing for everyone.

Luckily, both of these issues can be solved, and the only thing you’ll need is a good blender. Smoothies made with leafy greens are not only super quick and easy to make, they can also be made delicious by adding natural sweeteners like banana, mango, berries and other juicy fruits.

Citrus Fruit

Vitamin C is one of the most important components for preserving your health and enhancing your immunity.

As you probably already know, fruits like lemon, orange and grapefruit represent treasure troves of this powerful antioxidants.

A glass of fresh orange juice, with halved orange

Oranges are your first go-to for Vitamin C, but don’t forget about other citrus fruits like lemon and grapefruit.

Lemon, which due to its zesty flavor is best consumed in juice form, is known for its incredible detoxifying powers which can effectively flush out the pollutants that your body amasses in day-to-day life.

Nutrients found in lemon water can also promote healthier digestion, liver performance, but also reduce the visibility of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots on the skin.

And if you’re not in the mood for something that sour, you can always go for oranges, which also pack a punch when it comes to health benefits.

This wintertime favorite is laden with Vitamin C, which is crucial for shutting down free radicals that are causing oxidative damage to your cells. Through antioxidant activity, you are helping slow down aging processes and reinforcing your body’s natural protective capabilities. Also, improved consumption of antioxidants like Vitamins C means preventing cardiovascular diseases, stroke and cognitive degeneration.

Grapefruit has been a longtime favorite for people who are looking to shed pounds. Not only does the low calorie count make grapefruit an appealing diet-friendly snack, regular consumption of this citrus can promote your health in ways you couldn’t imagine.

For example, a grapefruit a day can help your body stave off a number of illnesses, including cancer, heart disease and kidney failure. Moreover, grapefruit can also boost your metabolism and contribute to lower insulin levels.

Fatty Fish

Even though the word “fat” carries a lot of negative connotation in the world of health and fitness, this doesn’t mean that all fats are automatically bad.

On the contrary, healthy fats are crucial for keeping your heart, your brain and other organs in your body healthy and shielded from diseases.

The only trick is to source these heart-healthy fats straight from nature.

And one of the principal sources of nature-derived fats is oily fish, which is often talked about when it comes to slowing down aging processes and enhancing immunity.

This is because certain creatures of the sea represent a rich source of Omega-3, powerful fatty acids.

The benefits of Omega-3 for your body are numerous: they promote healthy cardiovascular activity, enhance the performance of lung and the entire respiratory system and that can also help keep you mentally sharp.

On a more skin-deep level, regular consumption of these all natural fatty acids can contribute to a plumper, more glowing complexion.

If the benefits of Omega-3 peaked your interest, you might be wondering which particular fish to go with for your next meal if you want to replenish your body with this nutritional powerhouse.

To help you make that choice, here is the list of fish that contain high levels of Omega-3 acids:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Anchovies
  • Trout
  • Mackerel

When shopping for fish, try to go for the wild instead of the farmed ones, as they are more likely to contain lower levels of mercury and other harmful pollutants found in water.

Avocado

Avocado? That’s right, you can’t have a list of the healthiest food out there without mentioning the fruit that defined an entire generation.

Sliced avocado on bread, surrounded by halved avocados

So, what is it that makes this creamy green treat so appealing?

It might be the fact that avocado manages to combine a plethora of nutritional benefits while remaining supremely yummy at the same time.

And that’s not all; this Central American fruit is also super-easy to incorporate into our busy lifestyles due to its filling flavor and incredible versatility.

There are no limits to what you can do with a single avocado fruit in your kitchen: spread it on a piece of toast, chop it up in a salad, mash it in a guacamole or, simplest of all, toss it in a blender and call it a smoothie-energized day.

If you’re already sold on the idea of more avocado in your diet, you’d be pleased to hear that you will also get a number of health perks from it, as well.

For one, avocado is one of the richest sources of healthy, monosaturated fats, which are essential for keeping heart-related illnesses and other serious medical conditions at bay.

Moreover, avocados happen to contain plenty of carotenoid, which can improve both your vision and your brain function.

Another great thing about avocados is that they are jam-packed with proteins, which makes it an excellent dietary addition for anyone looking to lose weight, build muscle or tone their body.

Nuts

Now that we’re talking about protein rich-foods, it might be a good time to focus on nuts.

This food group is known for its powerful nutritional properties, and your body and immune system would certainly benefit from more of these bite-sized powerhouses in your day-to-day life.

For example, almonds – one of the most easily accessible nuts – is packed with health-restoring nutrients, including zinc, selenium, calcium and magnesium. Still, the most potent nutrient found in almonds is Vitamin E, which is known for its powerful reparative capabilities.

For something a little different, you can also try snacking on more walnuts. This tasty nut is jam-packed with nutrients that can rejuvenate your body in varied ways.

For example, walnuts are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can greatly contribute to cardiovascular health by stabilizing blood pressure and regulating cholesterol levels.

Moreover, walnuts are a treasure trove of antioxidants, which can reduce inhibit growth of malignant cells in the body.

One of the most convenient things about nuts is that they can be pretty much consumed anywhere and at any time. Because of this, walnuts, almonds, cashews and other nuts make for a great post-workout, mid-study or office snack. They can provide an instant sensation of fullness without stuffing your body with unnecessary salts and saturated fats.

Berries

When it comes to suppressing aging processes in your body, it’s crucial that you start consuming more antioxidants in your diet.

And the quickest shortcut to more of these body-rejuvenating components in your everyday life is simply more berries.

Bowls of assorted berries on table

Now, don’t be fooled by their size – despite being bite-sized, berries manage to pack a punch when it comes to health-enhancing nutrients.

For example, blueberries, which can be a welcome addition to any smoothie or oat bowl, represent a treasure trove of flavonoids, a potent polyphenol that can be of immense value when it comes to fighting free radicals and reducing oxidative damage in your organs.

Furthermore, the antioxidants found in berries can enhance your cognitive and mental capabilities and stave off degenerative processes in the brain.

And if you’d like to add another berry to your diet, why not make it a blackberry? This summertime treat contains a host of good-for-you nutrients, including the immunity-boosting Vitamin C. In fact, one cup of blackberries a day will already supply you with half of your recommended daily intake of this powerful antioxidant.

Seeds

You’ve probably never given much thought to how much presence seeds have in your diet, but once you take into consideration their immense nutritional properties, we are positive you will be rushing to replenish your meals with chia, flax and other micro superfoods.

To start with, seeds represent a rich source of protein, a substance your body needs in order to regulate insulin and control blood cholesterol.

Moreover, these tiny nutritional powerhouses are loaded with healthy acids such as Omega-3, which means that they can improve your cardiovascular health and notably slow down aging processes in your body.

So, now that you are convinced in the immense health-related power of seeds, you might be wondering which one you should go with first? And how to include them in your meals, exactly?

One of the most hailed sees is flax or linseeds, in no small part because they represent a rich source of an Omega-3 acid called alpha-linoleic acid or ALA. Flaxseeds can be a welcome addition to your morning smoothies, as they can provide your AM meal with more body-energizing fiber and nutrients.

Chia seeds are also popular among the health-conscious crowd, largely because of the high doses of fiber and antioxidants they contain. When it comes to food preparation, chia seeds can be incredibly versatile: you can toss them into any smoothie or salad to add extra crunchiness. Alternatively, sprinkle them on top of your rice or pasta-based dishes for an extra fiber kick.

Sweet Potato

Carbs seems to be the bane of everyone’s existence when we’re talking about attempts at establishing a healthier way of life.

And yet, not all carbs have to be necessarily as evil as weight loss advice resources might make you think.

And one of the most satisfying, delicious sources of the good-for-you carbs is sweet potato, which contains high doses of valuable nutrients.

One of them is Vitamin B6, which can greatly diminish levels of homocysteine, a harmful substance that’s been connected to a number of degenerative diseases.

Sweet potatoes also contain high concentrations of Vitamin C, which can help rebuild your immune system and keep your organs strong in the fight against free radicals.

Thanks to its palate-pleasing, filling texture, sweet potato can be prepared in a number of different ways. You can lightly coat it with olive oil and seasoning of your choice, toss it into the over and – voila – you got yourself a serving of healthy chips.

Alternatively, boil your sweet potatoes and combine them with a bit of butter and thyme to create a tummy-filling mash. 

And there you have it – some of the healthiest ingredients you can start consuming as soon as today! Thanks to all these nature-derived vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, we are sure your body will feel younger, more energized and better equipped to stave off any nasty illnesses.

Young woman running in the city

The 7 Most Annoying Skin Issues for Athletic People

Do you exercise quite often?

While this is fantastic for your health, as well as for your skin in the long run, athletic people do tend to face a whole host of skin issues due to this increased physical activity.

From body acne to hyperpigmentation, here are 7 of the most common skin issues experienced by sporty people, along with ways in which you can avoid them.

Facial and Body Acne

Acne is frustrating enough to deal with on the face, but when it starts to develop on the body too, which is also known as bacne, this can be even harder to clear.

How does exercise lead to acne?

It all comes down to sweat…

When you exercise, your body releases sweat, which then builds up in your hair follicles, not only on your face but also your body. This clogs up the follicles, leading to inflammation and breakouts. Add to that the irritation from clothing, as well as any rubbing that your clothing has been doing, and you have the perfect recipe for a big breakout.

So, what’s the best way to avoid this acne?

Well, when it comes to facial and body acne, the methods are pretty much the same.

To begin with, make sure that you remove any sweaty workout clothing as soon as you are done, and take a cool shower immediately. To help unclog your hair follicles, use a cleanser that contains either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

Can’t have a shower immediately after working out?

That’s ok, because you can simply use a salicylic acid face or body wipe instead, and then have a shower as soon as you are able to.

Don’t forget to also wear loose and breathable clothing, as this will help to prevent your clothing from irritating your skin and causing you to sweat more.

Not sure if your workout clothes are breathable or not?

These are some of the most breathable fabrics:

  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Rayon 

Heat Rash

As you can guess from its name, heat rash is a rash that is caused by heat.

In a way, its cause is similar to acne…

Again, it is your sweat that leads to this skin issue. When your sweat ducts become obstructed for whatever reason, it causes your sweat to leak on to your skin. The area around that leakage then becomes extremely inflamed, leading to the red prickly bumps known as heat rash.

Heat rash on woman's feet

How can heat rash be prevented?

Well, the solution is easier said than done…

The answer here is to keep your body cool at all times, which is, of course, quite difficult when working out. However, restricting the amount that you sweat is key, so it may be worth moving your work into an air-conditioned room on hot days, or saving your workout for the cooler early morning or evening air.

Just like with acne, keep your clothing light and breathable, to prevent it from rubbing against your skin.

Already have heat rash?

Here are a few tips to help you to clear it:

  • Make sure that you do not scratch at your rash, as this will only make it worse
  • Take an antihistamine to lower the inflammation in your body
  • Look for cooling sprays and creams, but make sure that these do not contain any fragrances or other harsh ingredients
  • Bathe your rash in cool water, adding in some colloidal oatmeal if the rash is especially itchy 

Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation can be caused by a number of different factors, with the main one being UV exposure, something that sporty people tend to experience much more of than those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle.

Not sure what hyperpigmentation is?

It refers to darker patches of skin, either on your face or your body.

Each time you expose your skin to the sun, your body produces more melanin, which is the pigment that gives your skin its color, and is responsible for suntans. Melanin is your body’s way of protecting itself against the sun’s rays, but sometimes melanin can be over-produced, leading to it clustering up under small areas of skin, which is why these patches appear darker than the rest.

How can you avoid this?

Well, seeing as it is likely due to sun exposure, the best way to avoid hyperpigmentation would be to ensure that you are using plenty of sun protection. Not only should you be wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen each time you are out in the sun, but make use of physical sun protection methods too, such as hats, sunglasses and lightweight clothing.

You should also take care to stay out of the sun during its hottest hours. These are usually between 11am and 3pm, although it will vary depending on your location. Try to seek shade whenever possible, and give your body regular breaks from direct sunlight.

Sun Damage

If hyperpigmentation wasn’t bad enough, the sun also leads to other skin issues, which, again, is commonly experienced by athletic people and those who spend a large amount of time exercising outside.

What sort of skin issues does the sun cause?

Well, the first, and most common, is a sunburn.

While you may think that this is just a temporary problem, sunburns are actually much more serious than most people realize…

Did you know that five serious sunburns can increase your risk of developing a deadly form of skin cancer by 80%?

There are many ways in which you can make a sunburn easier, and less painful, to deal with, using products such as aloe vera and green tea. However, you would be far better off avoiding the sunburn to begin with, as this significantly reduces your cancer risk.

Another extremely common skin issue caused by sun exposure is premature aging…

If you have ever noticed an increase in wrinkles in those who regularly exercise outdoors, then it is likely that they have not been using adequate, if any, sun protection. 

The sun is responsible for up to 80% of skin aging, causing everything from wrinkles and fine lines to dark spots and dryness.

Fortunately, there is a simple way to avoid all of this…

All you need to do, as mentioned above, is wear sunscreen each and every day.

Think you can skip out on your sunscreen because it’s cloudy outside, and you don’t plan on working out for too long?

The sun’s UV rays can not only penetrate through thick cloud, but also through glass, so even if you are working out indoors near a window, you will still need to wear sunscreen.

Artist illustration of UV rays penetrating layers of the skin

While a certain amount of sun exposure is good for your skin, your skin only needs 10 minutes of this a day in order to top up its vitamin D supplies. So, if your workout is going to be longer than ten minutes, which it likely will be if you are a sporty person, then definitely apply plenty of sunscreen beforehand.

When it comes to premature aging, make sure that you are already following an anti-aging skin care routine. Even if you are diligent about sun protection, you will likely still end up leaving your skin exposed at times by accident, so it is important to be using the right skin care products as a follow-up to this.

Athlete’s Foot

If you are already quite an athletic person, then you are likely already well aware of athlete’s foot.

However, for everyone else, this is a fungal infection that can be picked up from other people’s feet.

This does not mean that you need to be touching their feet…

Simply walking barefoot over public areas, such as in the changing rooms at the gym, can lead to this.

What does athlete’s foot look like?

It generally manifests as white scaly skin on the bottom and sides of your feet, with this being quite dry and sometimes itchy. It can also lead to a thicker and softer white skin developing in between your toes, before entering into your toenails and causing them to thicken and turn yellow.

Fortunately, this is another skin issue that is easy to avoid…

All you need to do is make sure that you are wearing sandals or flip flops when walking around public exercise areas.

Already have athlete’s foot?

You will likely need to make an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist, as the best way to clear this is with a prescription anti-fungal cream. It takes a few weeks for the infection to clear, but make sure that you have it treated as soon as you notice it, because once it worsens, it is much harder to eradicate.

Dry Skin

For some, exercising regularly can lead to oily skin and acne, but for others, it can have the opposite effect.

Those who regularly exercise often end up showering more often, which is necessary in order to clear away the sweat from your skin.

This is no problem if your showers are quick and cool.

However, if you like to turn up the temperature and enjoy a leisurely steamy shower, this is when the problems arise…

Wondering what’s so bad about a hot shower?

The hot water strips away your skin’s natural oils, which are important for skin hydration.

Yes, your skin does produce more oils on its own, but if you have a hot shower too often, you will be stripping your oils away faster than your skin can replace them. 

What happens then?

Your skin ends up dry and dehydrated, with red, itchy and flaking patches.

As mentioned above, a shower after working out is essential, but the hot water isn’t.

The best way to prevent dry skin from developing is by keeping your showers as cool as you can handle, and make sure that you do not remain in the water for any more than ten minutes.

Don’t forget…

As soon as you are done in the shower, it is important to apply a layer of moisturizer, while your skin is still damp.

Woman applying moisturizer on shoulder

Why?

Because a moisturizer is designed to form a thin protective layer over the surface of your skin. This prevents moisture from evaporating, meaning that if you already have extra water on the surface of your skin, the only place for this to go is downwards into your skin.

Frequent Eczema Flare-Ups

While exercising doesn’t cause eczema, it does cause existing eczema to flare-up, and quite drastically too.

Why?

Due to the moisture and salt of your sweat. These both irritate the skin, which not only makes an eczema rash redder and more visible, but also more uncomfortable. With an increased itch, you will likely end up scratching or rubbing at the rash, which then, as you already know, makes the eczema even worse.

Want to know how to prevent eczema flare-ups when exercising?

Here are a few tips:

  • Keep wiping off any sweat while you are working out, but make sure to use a towel and not your shirt
  • Wear lightweight and breathable clothing so that your sweat can easily evaporate off your body, rather than being trapped on your skin
  • Take regular breaks to keep your body cool, and drink plenty of water too
  • Always shower immediately after working out 

If you are already experiencing an eczema flare-up…

Tone it down a bit when it comes to your workouts, taking this slower until your flare-up has calmed. This may mean walking instead of running, or doing some yoga instead of a sports class. 

While you may be tempted to ignore the problem and just carry on with your normal routine, this is only going to make your eczema worsen even more.

Make sure that you are keeping your skin well-moisturized, as those with eczema already have a damaged skin barrier, which a moisturizer will help to temporarily heal.

If your flare-up is especially severe, then visit your doctor for a more powerful treatment. 

While these skin issues can definitely be annoying, the benefits of exercising frequently and regularly far outweigh the problems that these skin problems bring. As long as you know how to avoid the issues that you seem to be most susceptible to, you will be well-equipped to keep being just as physically active as always.

Friends laughing while using a tablet

How Social Media Affects Your Life

Do you frequently use social media?

For the majority of people out there, the answer will be yes.

The next question is…

Have you ever thought about how this has actually affected your life over the years?

Social media has so many different effects on daily life, both positive as well as negative, and no matter how addicted you may be to your favorite social media platforms, it is important to still be aware of the impact that this is having.

Social Media Can Prevent Quality Sleep

When you can’t seem to fall asleep at night, are you guilty of often reaching for your phone and scrolling through social media sites?

This is extremely common, and is something that many people do as a way to wind down after a long day.

However, while you may think that this is harmless, it is actually having quite a detrimental impact on your sleep quality…

How?

Due to the blue light that is emitted by the electronic devices you use.

There are multiple studies out there that show that the blue light from LED screens interferes with your body’s production of melatonin, which is the hormone that tells your brain that it is time to fall asleep.

Without as much melatonin in your body, you end up being more alert, staying awake for longer than you otherwise would have.

Of course, there is an easy fix to this…

All you need to do is download an app that adapts your device’s screen to the time of day, meaning that it takes on a warm orange filter in the evenings. This is so much easier on the eyes, and will prevent your device’s blue light from keeping you up

While this may seem like a great solution, keep in mind that simply staring at any sort of screen will still trigger your brain to stay awake. If the blue light apps don’t seem to be working for you, you will likely be better off staying away from social media, along with any other electronic devices, for at least an hour before bed

Social Media Can Affect Your Self Esteem

Whether you openly admit it or not, you likely have a few insecurities, and this is something that everybody experiences in their life.

While this is completely normal, social media has the effect of exacerbating any insecurities, making you feel worse about them than you already did. 

In fact, a study carried out at the University of Copenhagen found that those who used social media regularly tended to suffer from Facebook envy.

What is Facebook envy?

Simply put, it refers to the feelings of jealousy that you feel after seeing all of the activities that your friends have been up to on social media.

On the other hand, those who abstained from using social media for a while reported that they felt much more satisfied with their lives, and considered their mental well-being to be quite high. 

Social Media Makes it Easier to Spread and Absorb Knowledge and Information

While the internet already made it so much easier for information to be shared, this became even more so after the rise of social media.

In just a few seconds, your message could be spread to people all across the globe, giving you quite the sense of power.

The upside to this is the fact that if you have an important message to share, you can easily do this.

However, there is also a downside to this too…

Fake news is a term that you have likely heard about quite a bit recently.

If you haven’t, the term fake news refers to a story that has been created to deliberately deceive its readers and spread misinformation.

Fake news spreads like wildfire on social media, with the more “likes” a story receives making others believe it even more.

The only way around this is for social media platforms to regulate the news that is posted, but this would, of course, end up leading to censorship, which defeats the purpose of social media to quite an extent. 

Want to keep yourself educated when it comes to fake news and misinformation?

Well, when you read a story that sounds doubtful, all you need to do is a quick Google search to find out more information from trustworthy sources, before making up your own mind about the situation.

When it comes down to it…

Don’t believe everything that you read on social media!

Social Media Can Hinder Real Life Social Interaction

You may think that you are an incredibly social person because of the hundreds, or even thousands, or friends you have on social media, as well as the fact that you are always communicating with many of them.

However, when it comes to real life social interaction, social media can actually hinder this quite a bit.

How many times have you been spending time with others, only for one or more of those people to be staring at their phone?

This is so common, and even if you personally are not guilty of it, chances are that you will notice this happening when visiting a restaurant, a bar or any other social setting.

Constantly staring at your phone, or even checking it periodically, takes your attention away from what is actually going on around you.

Social Media Can Also Promote Real Life Social Interaction

While social media does hinder real life interaction, it can also have the opposite effect…

Social media is a fantastic way to reconnect with old friends whom you have lost touch with, bringing you together once again and making it easier for you to meet up in real life.

There are also many events that are organized and promoted through social media, which you may otherwise have never heard of. These events bring together people with similar interests, enabling you to make so many more like-minded friends.

Not only that, but social media has been seen to be quite effective when it comes to promoting real life social interaction among introverted adolescents. It allows them to interact with others from the safety of their screen, which then builds up their confidence when it comes to real life interactions.

Social Media Can Encourage Cyberbullying

Have you heard of cyberbullying before?

This is a problem that is becoming increasingly common, and refers to bullying an individual by sending them intimidating messages.

Why is it becoming more and more common?

This is largely due to social media, and the way that these platforms make it so easy to involve yourself in someone else’s life.

This is especially the case with younger generations, as many do not realize just how hurtful their words and comments can be.

Social Media Can Be Extremely Entertaining

One of the great things about social media is the amount of entertainment it provides. This can be in many different forms, such as:

  • Watching videos
  • Looking at pictures
  • Playing games
  • Reading stories

Thanks to all of this, social media can sometimes  be a great way to relax and de-stress.

Social Media Keeps You Constantly Connected

There are many people that feel that being constantly connected is nothing but a positive, but this can actually have quite a detrimental effect on your mental health.

How?

Because of the pressure you face to always be available and quickly respond to others, and this can often make you feel as though you simply never have any time to relax.

Even when many try to disconnect, they end up feeling as though they are missing out on what is going on, and crave being back online again.

Social Media Makes It Easier for Small Businesses to Reach Customers

In the past, one of the biggest challenges that a small business would face is the lack of a marketing budget, and this would make it extremely difficult to reach new customers.

However, social media has turned this all around…

Even with a completely non-existent marketing budget, social media still gives you the opportunity to reach out to, connect with, and interact with new and existing customers, making it so much easier for you to build a reputable brand.

For many small businesses, social media is their sole form of marketing to begin with, and this is usually set up long before a business develops a website. 

Not only that, but advancements in social media enable users to make purchases directly through social media platforms, meaning that small business don’t need to even worry about setting up online shops anymore, saving so much time and money.

Social Media Encourages Multitasking

Are you guilty of checking social media sites while you are in the middle of doing something else?

This is something else that is extremely common, and ends up causing you to multitask.

This may sound great, as well as productive, but research shows that the human brain is not actually capable of multitasking. While you may think that you are doing multiple tasks at once, your brain is actually just switching from one to the other very rapidly, meaning that you are not fully concentrating on any one task.

Why does the brain do this?

It is likely due to the way in which humans evolved. In order to survive while hunting big animals, it became necessary for humans to put all of their focus on to one task, and this is one of the reasons as to why humans have become the dominant species in the world

So, while you may think that your brain can cope with constantly checking social media while you are working, keep in mind that this is actually preventing you from being as productive as you would be if you put social media away for a while.

Social Media Can Affect Your Job Prospects

Many people still do not realize just how often potential employers will check out your social media accounts. Why do they do this?

To find out more about you, of course!

Social media profiles can be extremely revealing, but, sometimes, the information that is revealed is not what you want your employer to know.

This makes it so important to be aware of every little thing you post or comment on, while also editing privacy settings to ensure that only the people you personally know have access to all of these details in your life.

Using Social Media Responsibly

While social media may have its downsides, there are definitely plenty of upsides that come with it too.

Wondering how to use social media in a way that impacts your life positively, rather than negatively?

There are several steps that you can take to do this, such as:

  • Be yourself – don’t try to be someone you aren’t when posting on social media. Stay honest and don’t lie or exaggerate
  • Watch what you postdon’t over-post every detail of your life, and keep in mind that everything you put on to the internet is permanent
  • The right frame of mindnever post on social media when you are angry, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Be aware of your friends on social mediait may be tempting to accept friend requests from just about everyone, but remember that all of those people will then be able to see so many details of your life
  • Privacy settings – every social media platform will have its own privacy settings, so make sure that you are aware of these

Social media really has spread all across the globe, with more than 2.3 billion people in the world being active social media users. While there is no denying that social media can have quite a few negative impacts on a person’s life, it does also have so many positive points too. The key is to use social media in a responsible way, and make sure that you do not allow it to dominate your life.

Happy smiling middle-age woman with short wavy hair

Keeping Your Skin Healthy At Every Age

It is no secret that as your body ages, your skin is going to go through quite a few changes, with your skin in your 20’s being extremely different to your skin in your 50’s.

This is why it is so important to keep adjusting your skin care routine as you progress through life, adopting different ingredients and techniques at each stage, as this will help to cater to your skin’s ever-changing needs.

Skin Care in Your 20’s

When you are in your 20’s, it may seem as though the firm and tight skin you have always known is going to last forever, but, unfortunately, this is not true.

In fact, your 20’s is when things begin to slow down in your skin…

In particular, cell turnover.

This is the rate at which your body sheds its old skin cells, to make way for new ones. In your teens and younger years, your cell turnover rate is every 14 days. However, as you progress through your 20’s, this declines to every 24 to 30 days.

Infographic on different layers of skin

Collagen is another key element of your skin that begins to decline in your mid-20’s.

What is collagen?

It is one of the building blocks of your skin, and is the protein that largely makes up your skin’s structure. Once you reach your mid-20’s, the rate at which the collagen in your body breaks down overtakes the rate at which you naturally produce new collagen.

This means that skin aging is not too far away…

So, what can you do about this?

Well, seeing as up to 90% of facial wrinkles are caused by the sun’s UV rays, wearing sun cream is essential. If you are not already doing this every day, then this is something to begin doing right now.

When it comes to your declining collagen production and slower cell turnover…

Start using a retinol product.

Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A, and is one of the most potent anti-aging ingredients out there, with one of its greatest benefits being the way in which it speeds up cell turnover. Not only that, but it also stimulates your natural collagen production, helping to increase this so that production once again outweighs breakdown.

Skin Care in Your 30’s

While you may have been completely confident in your skin in your 20’s, you are much more likely to experience a few panicked moments in relation to your skin in your 30’s.

This decade tends to be the one where you experience your first static lines and wrinkles.

These are lines that do not fade when your face is resting, and are usually due to the continued decrease of collagen in your body.

If you are not yet using a retinol product, then now is the time to start, for the same reasons as mentioned in the 20’s section before.

Another key component in your skin that begins to noticeably decline in your 30’s is hyaluronic acid.

You may have already noticed this ingredient in many skin care products out there, but do you know what it actually is?

Hyaluronic acid is a molecule that occurs naturally in the body, and can be found in so many different parts of the body. So, when your natural levels of hyaluronic acid begin to decline, it only makes sense to top these back up.

But what exactly does hyaluronic acid do for the skin?

Well, this ingredient is a humectant, meaning that it draws moisture from the air into its molecules and then holds this water there. Your skin then absorbs this moisture, helping it to stay hydrated for longer.

Hyaluronic acid can also help with:

  • Wrinkles
  • Sagging skin
  • A damaged skin barrier
  • Wound healing
  • UV damage

Hyaluronic acid can be found in everything, from serums to creams. The most effective tends to be a serum, as their thin consistency means that they are more easily absorbed by the skin.

When choosing a product, make sure that it contains at least 1% hyaluronic acid, as this is the amount needed in order for the ingredient to really have an impact. 

Infographic on younger versus older skin

How else can you care for your skin in your 30’s?

By incorporating antioxidants into your skin care routine.

Your skin is constantly under attack from free radicals, which are caused by everything from sun exposure to pollution. Simply put, free radicals are atoms that are missing an electron. In order to “heal” themselves, they will try to steal electrons from nearby cells, thereby damaging those cells, as well as their DNA.

Free radicals are one of the primary causes of aging, which is why this is something worth focusing on.

How do antioxidants help?

They provide free radicals with the electron that they are missing, therefore healing them and stopping them from attacking other cells in the body.

So, which antioxidants should you be using?

In addition to retinol, give these a try:

  • Resveratrolthis is an antioxidant that comes from plant-based foods, such as red wine, blueberries and cacao beans, and provides so many benefits for the skin, from brightening to anti-inflammatory 
  • Vitamin Chelps to strengthen the skin, while calming and hydrating it

Don’t forget…

Antioxidants work best when used in conjunction with each other, so try adding multiple antioxidants to your skin care routine.

Skin Care in Your 40’s

Those light lines that you noticed appearing on your face in your 30’s will begin to deepen in your 40’s, making them much more noticeable.

All of the natural declines from your 30’s, such as collagen production and hyaluronic acid, continue on, with cell turnover also decreasing down to every 30 to 42 days. You will notice that your skin feels much less resilient, and that it does not “bounce back” in quite the same way anymore.

Another common skin change that many experience in their 40’s is dryness…

Wondering what causes this?

The outer layer of your skin consists of a protective barrier, whose role is not only to protect your skin from environmental damage, but also to retain moisture.

As the body ages, this barrier weakens, meaning that your skin experiences a far greater loss of moisture.

Infographic on healthy and damaged skin barrier

Fortunately, there is an easy way to deal with this, and this is by switching to a much richer and thicker moisturizer. You may also need to moisturize more frequently throughout the day, in order to compensate for the extra moisture loss.

Another skin issue that may arise in your 40’s is hyperpigmentation.

This is when melanin, which is the pigment that gives your skin its color, is over-produced in some areas of the skin, causing those areas to darken. This can vary greatly in terms of shape and size, as well as placement on the skin.

Here are a few tips on how to deal with this:

  • Use a sunscreen – UV exposure only encourages your skin to produce more melanin, which you are trying to prevent
  • Use a gentle chemical exfoliant this helps to speed up the cell renewal rate
  • Use a lightening cream such as one containing kojic acid or hydroquinone

One key ingredient that you should be using in your 40’s are ceramides…

These are naturally one of the main components of your skin’s surface, and are an integral part of your skin’s matrix and structure.

However, with age, the body’s natural production of ceramides declines, meaning that the skin then begins to lose its firm structure and supple surface.

Research shows that the topical use of ceramides can really help with this, improving suppleness, roughness, uniformity, hydration and overall glow

Skin Care in Your 50’s

Once you have gone through menopause, your skin will be experiencing even more drastic changes.

Due to the drop in estrogen levels, the skin becomes much thinner and more fragile, meaning that it is even less able to retain moisture

Not only that, but research shows that, in the first five years after menopause, 30% of your collagen is lost.

This may sound frightening, but there are still several steps that you can take to keep your skin looking youthful and healthy.

Begin by making sure that you are already following all of the tips mentioned in each section above. While you may not be able to reverse your skin’s changes, you will still be able to brighten and nourish the one you have, preventing the changes from worsening.

A multi-step skin care routine is vital, and this should be something that you follow each and every day.

Wondering what the multiple steps should consist of?

Here are some guidelines:

  • A cleanser – this should always be the first step of any skin care routine, as it allows subsequent products to easily penetrate into the skin and work much better
  • A tonerthis helps to rebalance your skin’s pH level, which is often disrupted through cleansing
  • Exfoliant/peelthis is important to keep the surface of your skin looking smooth and vibrant. It will also encourage your natural cell turnover
  • Masksthese can be used on a weekly basis to give your skin a deeper treatment. Look for masks that address your specific skin concerns, whether this may be hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, or dry skin
  • Eye serums and creamsthe skin around your eyes is so delicate, and eye products are formulated to be gentle enough to nourish and care for this area without harming it
  • Face serumsserums are thin and lightweight, meaning that they quickly and easily penetrate the skin. While they may not look much different to water, serums are actually packed with a high concentration of active ingredients, which is why they are so effective at tackling various skin issues
  • Moisturizeras mentioned above, the moisturizer you are using now should be rich, thick, and packed with antioxidants

Skin Care in Your 60’s and Beyond

If you have worked out a skin care routine that is working for your skin in your 50’s, then stick to it through your 60’s, adjusting and adding in individual products when needed.

If you have been caring for your skin well throughout your life, then, by the time you reach your 60’s, you will be able to tell what your skin does and does not need.

One example of a product that you may want to add into your routine at this stage in life is targeted wrinkle creams. These are potent formulas that come with a small applicator that enables you to directly apply them to each wrinkle.

Of course, skin care is internal as well as external, and caring for your skin from within can really help to maintain a healthy glow throughout your later years.

How can you care for your skin from within?

Here are a few tips:

  • Diet – make sure that you are consuming a healthy diet, filled with plenty of fresh, whole foods, and with a minimum amount of processed foods 
  • Sleepadequate quality sleep is so important, although you may find that you need slightly less sleep as you age
  • Exerciseexercise is one of the best things that you can do for your skin, no matter what age you may be
  • Stressstress leads to nothing but problems in the skin, so try to find some stress management techniques that work well for you

Calm woman meditating at work

By understanding the changes that your skin goes through as your body ages, you will be able to provide it with exactly what it needs. From the preventative steps that you can take in your 20’s, to the healthy lifestyle changes you can make in your later years, it is well worth taking the time to keep your skin healthy, no matter what age you may be.