The 7 day detox – Smart Nights Challenge.

The 7 day detox – Smart Nights Challenge.

In September, I wrote a post on changing a habit that was taking up a lot of my precious time and energy–usage of the smartphone for nothing but passing time. It was taking a toll on my eye-health apart from wasting my time, which was leaving me irritated with myself.

I did a follow-up post after a month where I wrote about how I had worked on changing the habit and succeeded to quite an extent and benefitted from the experience. Of course, my love affair with the smartphone hasn’t completely ended, which is the reason I am participating in this Challenge.

The 7 day detox — Smart Nights Challenge!

Thankfully, because of my earlier post, I could make some changes due to which my affair with the gadget isn’t a “torrid” one, anymore. I don’t need it by my side all day or night. I usually switch off the Wi-Fi of my phone by 9/9:30 pm and switch it on only in the morning, by 9 am, after completing some of my morning chores, my Yoga and breakfast.

Also, I never take the phone to bed with me, the reason being it is dangerous placing your phone on the bed, or under your pillow as you sleep.

I keep the phone’s volume to its lowest, and place it on a stool by my bedside in case mom or someone from the family called up at night. And, thanks to Cookie, I don’t need an alarm to wake me up, so the phone, too, goes off to sleep!

I usually carry the newspaper to bed, to solve puzzles before I sleep. Actually, it is solving the puzzle that puts me to sleep. Either that, or a book.

Reading induces sleep faster than staring at your phone/computer screens, you know?

The blue light that our phones emit keeps our brain awake and alert. And, to fall asleep at night, you need something that will calm the brain, not keep it on high alert! Not just the light, but the action on our screen awakens our brain. What do you think will happen to our sleep in such a scenario?

During the day, I take frequent breaks from the phone by switching off the Wi-Fi every couple of hours. For example, while writing, reading, helping my nephew with his studies and in the evening, when I step outside for a walk.

I often see walkers peeping into their phones even during their walk. They hardly pay any attention to the world around or to their breathing! What’s the point of the walk if you can’t leave the virtual world aside for sometime and enjoy nature?

So, these frequent breaks from the phone do me a world of good. The constant pings of the numerous notifications, the constant need to check what’s going on out there, the staring at the images as I scroll aimlessly–the absence of it all gives me immense peace.

There are times, though, especially when hubby is to return home late and I have no book to read or movie to watch and still have to stay awake till he arrives, when I do scroll through the Facebook News feed, or Instagram. But, because it strains my eyes and bores me after a point, I put it away soon.

Now that I have taken up this 7 day challenge, I will get an opportunity, and some motivation, to work harder at keeping the phone away. I know I need to do this– for my eyes and for my peace of mind.

As part of the challenge, I will continue doing what I have been doing these past couple of months and some more, and then do another follow-up post next year on how helpful the detox has been for me. Why don’t you join me, too, dear readers?

If I haven’t been able to convince you to make some changes in your phone habits by all that I shared above, let me highlight the reasons why you need to give yourself a break from your phones at night.

5 reasons why you need to put the phone away at night

1. Our brain is used to sleeping at night. It needs some rest, too, you know? But the blue light that the our gadgets emit can awaken the brain.

2..Falling asleep after scrolling through can get difficult because not only did the light awaken the brain, but the moving scenery in front of your eyes leaves the brain asking for more such excitement. Have you noticed how you get pulled into the whirlpool once you begin mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed? How the time flies and before you know it, you have been staring at your phone screen for an hour!

3. Due to the above reasons, the brain finds it almost impossible to calm down and fall asleep and you tend to stay awake longer even as the world around dozes peacefully.

4. This sleep deprivation leads to a dull and dazed you who wakes up with a heavy head and an irritable mood.

5. The strain on the eyes caused by all the staring at the blue screen in the darkness shows its effects in the form of dry eyes, blurred vision and a pain around the eyes. To learn how staring at the screen constantly leads to pain, move your eyes in a circular motion and you will know.

Our wellbeing is our responsibility. If we don’t understand how our habits affect our health, who will? If we don’t take precautions now, we will be the ones to suffer from the ill-effects at a latter stage, when rectifying the issue might not be possible.

Let’s make a pact to take control of our lives, make changes in our lifestyles and lead healthier lives.

If you aren’t participating in this challenge, I urge you to do so. We could give each other company, dear reader, and boost each other’s morale if we find ourselves slipping off the track! What say?

Do join me along with my friend, Ashvini Naik, as we try and overcome this constant dependence on the phones and reclaim our peace of mind and our life!

Love,

SHILPA…

P.S.

To participate in the challenge, all you need to do is write a post on how you plan on breaking free of this habit of taking your phone to bed with you, attach this cool badge and share your post on the Linky till the 7th of November. Share your post widely on social media and let’s spread the word!

SHILPA…

 

Stay away from your mobile phones before 9 am and after 9 pm

Raising awareness about breast cancer.

Raising awareness about breast cancer.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Knowing the fear that is associated with the disease, I thought of doing this post with help from my gynaLecologist friend instead of just Googling the information.

It is a sad state, indeed, as most of us today depend upon Google to supply us information about illnesses, diseases and their cures least aware about how misleading it really is. Asking a trusted medical practitioner for guidance will, actually, save us a lot of stress and confusion. Hence, I turned to my friend for details about this disease.

Breast cancer cases have increased over the years and so has the fear revolving around it. Breast Cancer Awareness is an effort to not only raise awareness about the disease, but also educate women about how they can help themselves with better information and the care they can take in order to lead healthier lives.

This is a general post but with a lot of input and helpful advice given by my friend for us women in the hope of clearing the notions about the disease and help drive away its fear.

What is Breast Cancer and what are the signs and symptoms?

Breast Cancer is the cancer that develops from the tissues of the breast.

The main signs of breast cancer are lumps in the breast, change in the shape of the breast, depression in the skin on the breast, unusual fluid discharge from the nipple, an inverted nipple or a patch on the skin.

A change in the appearance of your breast needs to be given due attention

Who is at a greater risk?

Women who have a family history of breast cancer are at a greater risk of this disease. Women who may have suffered from the disease could also fall victim to it because of its recurrence.

Other than these, typically women over the age of 45, especially those who have had late pregnancies or no pregnancies and also those who have undergone hormonal replacement therapy could suffer. Earlier, the cases of women above the age of 45 suffering from the disease was normal, albeit a rarity, but today, due to the change in our lifestyle as well as late marriages and later pregnancies, the age at risk has come down to 30-35 years.

Changing lifestyle:

Our lifestyle has undergone a sea change today. With rising ambitions, women tend to postpone marriage and having children. This lack of childbearing and breast feeding can increase the risk of breast cancer. Also, consumption of alcohol and smoking among women has risen thanks to a modern mindset. This utter disregard to one’s health can increase the risk of not just breast cancer but other diseases, too.

Usage of pills to postpone or stop your periods also exposes your body to hormonal changes that result in hormonal exposure that may show its effects at a later stage.

Workaholics, who tend to place their career before everything else, often put in extra hours, especially at night. And, what my friend told me about this trend was rather disturbing. Our hormones that work during the day are different from those that work during the night and due to this change in our daily schedules, there occurs a hormonal imbalance. This, too, puts people at a risk of not just breast cancer, but also other lifestyle diseases.

Genetics play a huge role in cancer and hence, those with a family history are at a greater risk.

Self-help is the first step:

Self-examination is the first step in staying aware of any changes occurring within our bodies as we know our bodies better! Regular examination of your breast to see if you find any changes in your breast size or the nipple, or if you feel something that resembles a lump could help you act faster.

However, one also needs to know that if you experience pain in your breast, it could be as a result of PMS, or excess exercising or doing an activity your body isn’t used to on an everyday basis.

How to examine your breast:

Early detection through self-examination always helps. A monthly self-examination will, thus, inform you better about any changes than going in for clinical tests.

Stand in front of the mirror and observe your breasts for any outward signs of change. Check if they appear the same size, or if there is any discolouration or patches that weren’t present earlier.

Next, use your palm (and not fingers) to palpate your breast to feel for any lumps underneath. This examination by touch will tell you if there is any abnormality within.

Is mammography really needed?

We come across a lot of advertisements about breast cancer awareness and how we need to get a mammogram done on a regular basis to make sure we are safe. Following these adverts, and going in for mammograms can lead to more heartache and stress.

Mammograms come at a later stage, that is, only if and when you do come across a lump while self-examination. It’s a clinical advice given by the concerned medical practitioner after checking the patient. Therefore, it helps if you trust yourself and not get carried away by all that you read.

Mammography is not recommended for anybody and everybody. it is used to rule out any malignancy. There are new imaging techniques apart from mammography that give you a hint if you require to be monitored or not.

So, do not fall for all such ads from corporate hospitals. These only cause a lot of stress even if there is really no reason to worry. And, if while self-examination, you do come across some lumps, visit your gynaecologist who will examine you further and then advice you about the next step to follow, like getting an ultra sound done.

Ask questions to your doctor and clarify your doubts if mammography is really going to benefit you.

The fear revolving around breast cancer:

Breast cancer is something that people fear. The disfigurement that it causes if one has to get a breast removed, or even a part of the breast removed, can lead to trauma. The change in one’s appearance and how it changes ones attitude towards oneself can often lead to depression.

Confiding in your partner and family helps a great deal as that gives you the emotional support you require during such a crisis.

Do not be obsessed that even a slight pain in the breast is going to be cancer if you do not belong to the high risk group.

Remember, every lump can not be cancer, but any lump must not be ignored.

If there is pain, it is infected, and if there is no pain, it can be malignant, but not always.

How you can help yourself stay healthy:

Reduce mental stress, and make your life simpler. Let go of all that clutters your life, as in activities that demand a lot of your time and attention leaving you with no time for relaxation. Remember, not everything is really worth it. Respect your time and also your health.

Follow a fitness regimen as well as a healthy and a balanced diet on an everyday basis. Lack of exercise can lead to a lot of health problems–a fact that is known by all, but not taken seriously.

Follow a daily schedule that gives you enough time to rest at night. Try and complete all your tasks before your bed time so that you get the necessary 7 hours of undisturbed , peaceful sleep.

Do follow the self-examination technique regularly and stay aware of any changes occurring in your body.

I hope this post was helpful to you all. If you have had a family member or friends who might have been victims of this disease, do share their experiences and any advice that could be of help to everyone. It will go a long way in creating awareness and staying healthy and safe.

Love,

SHILPA…

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From thin to slim. #Bonhappetee.

From thin to slim. #Bonhappetee.

Get Fit Stay Fit

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What is, or has been, the number one wish on your health list? Let me guess, does it have to do with losing weight? I know, that must be it, because 9 out of 10 people consider themselves overweight, or “fat” (which is so wrong, let me tell you) and follow everything they can in order to lose a few pounds.

The world is not kind to people, either. The body shaming taunts must have wounded your spirits, and your self-esteem must have suffered badly, isn’t it?

I, too, have faced the barbs and the hurtful questions for the longest time. But, I belonged to the other “category” — I have been thin all my life. Thin as in never being considered slim and trim, but thin. And, people are not kind to people like me, too. I have heard it all–from “don’t you eat?” to “does your hubby thrash you if you eat more?”.

People fail to realise that there is a thing called metabolism – the process that occurs within our body that maintains life; a process that causes food to be used as energy, and decides how fast or slow our calories and fat gets burned.

I have a high metabolism, that means, the food that I eat gets converted into energy at a faster rate and hence doesn’t get converted into fat. So, however much I eat, multiple times in a day, it hardly shows!

Earlier, though, the thinness caused me to appear gaunt and stick-thin. Hubby encouraged me to eat all that I wished to and include all sorts of health tonics and stuff, but to no avail. I remained thin as ever.

Yoga: the best exercise regimen

It was only around three years ago, that I felt I needed to include a proper exercise regimen that would not further burn my calories, but help tone my body and help build some muscles. And, the best way to attain that, I felt, was through Yoga.

Yoga helped me understand my body. The areas that were flexible and also those that weren’t, and the aches and pains when I bent forward or backwards. Regular practice helped increase the flexibility in a body that had not had any kind of exercise for a long time.

We women are under the wrong impression that our household chores make for perfect workout sessions. It is really not so! We do burn calories sweeping floors and running around after the kids all day long, but, the flexibility that every other part of our body lacks can be achieved only by a proper workout.

The various asanas and the Suryanamaskars helped me achieve the kind of flexibility and suppleness I needed. I could feel my body getting toned, my skin getting healthier and me getting trimmer and curvier from being stick thin.

A balanced diet:

We learn right from our school days how important it is to follow a balanced diet in order to stay healthy and happy, but rarely do we actually follow it on a daily basis. Thanks to our busy schedules we treat our health as an afterthought.

I used to begin the day with a king-sized breakfast followed by a good lunch, too, but it was in the late afternoons that my energy levels dipped and I would feel tired soon. I realised the time gap between lunch and dinner was too big and I needed to add some snacks to fuel me through the evenings.

Most of us make do with a cup of tea/coffee and a couple of biscuits. Rarely do we stop to think where we will get the nutrients from that we require to function until dinner time. I mean, seriously, how are you going to benefit from a cup of tea and a few biscuits made from refined flour?

I added sprouts and vegetable juice for this particular hour in my diet plan. Sprouted moong and matki made into a bhel with tomato-onion-chillies and some farsan was the perfect savoury snack that kept me full and supplied the necessary nutrients to last me till dinner time.

Vegetable juice made from beetroot-tomatoes-carrots with some ginger made for the perfect drink to wash down the bhel. Either that, or buttermilk or lassi, that would aid in digestion and also keep my system cool.

Fitness matters:

Whether you are on the heavier side or the lighter side, what really really matters is how you are from within. I feel proud to say that almost all of my blood tests come out perfectly normal, except for Calcium and Vitamin D3, for which I take supplements. I feel energetic and happy knowing that sticking to a particular diet plan that I chalked out for myself as well as an exercise regimen has helped me stay in shipshape.

My body may not appear strong, but it is strong enough from within to fight infections quicker thanks to an efficient and a reliable immune system. I seldom fall sick (Touchwood!) and on the rare occasions when I do, I bounce back pretty soon.

Thanks to my Yoga practice, I don’t experience a lot of aches and pains. And, the bad lower back that does complain once in a while, gets taken care of through some gentle exercising.

Taking care of your diet despite a busy schedule and following a particular exercise plan goes a long way in giving you a healthy body. Accepting yourself as you are and being proud of how well you care for yourself is what matters.

Fitness matters more than size!

Love,

SHILPA…

Thanking Anshu Bhojnagarwala for this opportunity to share my fitness journey for Bonhappetee.

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Put that phone away!

Put that phone away!


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Last month, I wrote a post on a particular habit that I needed to change. I had promised myself that I would work on it and come back a month later to write about how I had successfully kicked the habit. So, here I am!

I had planned on exercising control over my phone usage and use my time constructively. As I said, habits take a while to change, to become habits. I had given myself a month, and today, I feel so good about myself because, although I haven’t kicked the habit altogether, I have learned to control the urge.

Now, my phone stays away from me in the mornings, till I finish my workout and my chores. I reach for it only after I have had my breakfast. I scroll through the messages and the news feed on Fb and Instagram. But then, I remind myself after about 15 minutes that my time is up. That there is work to be done, articles to be written, so put that thing away!

The Wi-Fi stays on, but the phone stays away. The rest of the day, too, I pick up the phone for a while, but I have observed that after some time, I tire of gazing into the phone and put it away sooner than I used to.

Most evenings, the Wi-Fi is switched off and some days, I just leave it like that. There isn’t much to see in there, anyway, and surely, the world isn’t going to change in the time I stay away from it all! And, if someone does need to get in touch with me, they can call me up. People to whom I matter know how to get in touch with me; they don’t need to reach out through a social media platform.

The peace I experience at such times is unbelievable and inexplicable. It also helps that I have a couple of good books that whisk me away from the madness that is social media. Also, the need to make better use of my time keeps me on my toes all day. My to-do list has quite a many items that need to be ticked off before the end of the day.

it is, indeed, satisfying seeing all those tasks accomplished, and, it is this contentment that propels me to keep working harder and stay away from the “distractions”.

Of course, there are days when nothing around seems to interest me and that is when the phone stays with me for longer. But, the need to keep my promise to myself is stronger than the need to entertain a bored and an idle mind. For such days, I use Netflix and watch a good movie–my TV viewing is 2 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least amount of time I spend watching the idiot box.

I had ended my post on a positive note, with hope and promise that I would, indeed, work on my habit. Maybe that is the reason I could put my heart into it. The responsibility I have towards myself made me work on it, seriously.

Being responsible for our actions is what makes the difference in our attitude. My father used to say that we need to be true to ourselves and everything will fall into place. Those words echoed in my mind each time I reached for the phone earlier in the past month. As a child, I hardly could fathom the meaning behind those words; it is now, as I work on myself, that I understand what they stand for.

The struggle to stay away from the gadget can’t be called a “struggle” today. In fact, on some days, I consider the phone to be the most uninteresting piece of invention by man and reach for my book!

Just writing these words gives me a feeling of utmost satisfaction. Feels really good to realise I care for myself more than stuff–unnecessary stuff. Glad to tick off another item on my list of ‘Things to do to love yourself’!

Love,

SHILPA…

P.S.

Just so you know, the amount of time you spend looking at your phone today, is half the amount of time you will be spending at your ophthalmologist. Also, you have just this pair of eyes to use in this life time.

SHILPA…

I came across these 10 simple ways to break bad habits. Do try and follow these. I am sure you will find a difference in yourself some day soon.

Easy ways to change old habits.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

I opened today’s newspaper to find a headline that almost leapt out at me, as if trying to urge me to write something I had been putting off for a couple days now.

September happens to be the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

I had mulled over the idea of writing a post on suicides since the beginning of this month, but kept putting it off. I just couldn’t find the right tone to express my thoughts on the matter. But, today’s news changed it all.

Syed Nasser Hussain, a resident of Deonar, Mumbai, was returning home from work from Vashi. When on the Vashi bridge, he spotted a girl trying to jump off the bridge into the creek below. Syed Hussain got off his scooter, hurried to the girl and pulled her back in the nick of time.

He then spent an hour counselling the girl, asking her what the matter was, why she had decided to take such a drastic step.

Hearing her story about a heartbreak, he then counselled her and took her to her home. On reaching her home, they found the house locked as her parents had gone to a hospital. Taking the keys from her neighbours, Syed left the girl inside, and asking the neighbours to keep an eye on her, left the place.

While driving back, though, he had this strong feeling that he should not have left the girl alone at home in this condition, and so, he turned around and drove back to her house. On reaching, when he tried to open the door, he found it locked from within. With the help of her neighbours, he broke open the door only to find his intuition right.

The girl had hung herself from the ceiling fan.

They untied her off the fan and rushed her to a hospital. Yesterday the doctors informed the newspaper reporter that the girl was out of danger.

The girl’s father thanked Syed Hussain profusely.

Syed Hussain was a stranger to the girl. Yet, when he felt something amiss, he decided to help her. And, in doing so, twice in a night, he had saved a life. A precious life which would have gotten wiped out had Syed not stopped his scooter that night; a death that would have left behind heartbroken parents with nothing but memories of their only child.

In our hectic lives, how often do we stop and pause to think about what someone said or did that felt abnormal; something that seemed to be a silent cry for help, but in not as many words?

Do we even give a moment’s thought about what the person might have implied?

Each of us faces hardships in life. And, let’s not even get started on the kind of hardships that we are subjected to. We fight right till the end, with every ounce of our strength we can muster. Sadly, there are some who are left with no willpower to continue fighting; no support from the world and no desire to even keep running towards the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Some just prefer to end it all rather than keep fighting and keep living a miserable life.

And, with the loneliness and the depression tormenting them night and day, and with no one to offer them the necessary support, they give it all up.

And, end up being just a statistic.

The Suicide Awareness Campaign might not find a better mascot than Syed Hussain, who went out of his way to save the life of a stranger. Not only did he save her once, but heeding his intuition, he reached out to her twice. He counselled her about not giving up because some idiot broke her heart.

To quote Syed Hussain, “I have had long conversations with her dad. She needs to be taken care of. I have told her he must support her to complete her education. She must grow into a confident woman who does not see unfaithfulness of a man as the end of the world.”

How many of us would leave aside our work, our busy schedules, if we were to spot someone trying to end their life? How many of us would even pay attention to what someone says in a moment of despair?

All the person needs is a patient ear; someone who holds their hand and asks what the matter really is. All they need is to talk their heart out to someone who will just hear them out, not judge them, or give unsolicited advice without knowing the entire story. Someone who will read the real meaning behind their sad smiles and their artificial laughter and their overeagerness to appear “normal”, when in reality, they are crumbling from within.

Do we have it in us to be that someone who listens, really listens, and doesn’t let go just because the person in front of us won’t open up about the pain they suffer?

it really takes very little time to help out people in distress. It takes just a few words to heal a sad, broken heart. And, it takes just a few moments to save a life from becoming a statistic.

All you need to do, is reach out.

Love,

SHILPA..

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Reach out, before they take the drastic step