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

Healthcare for bloggers.

Healthcare for bloggers.

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Okay, this post is not only meant for bloggers, but all those who work on computers all day, which is quite a lot of people slouched in front of their computers/laptops for more than 9 hours, or so. So, it is that many people experiencing aches and pains, day after day, and doing nothing about it, because, well, there’s work to be done, blogs to be visited, articles to be written and read! Right?

This post might seem longish, but, do read it to the end.

So, to begin with, how do you sit when you sit down to work? In a chair, or on your sofa or your bed with your laptop placed on your lap? I hope you sit in a chair with the laptop placed on the table, with your back erect all the time. But, I am sure we all sit that way only for a while. Eventually, we slouch, our backs bent, necks almost craning to peep into the screens. Tell me this is how you sit and I will tell you how very wrong that is for your body.

By the end of the day, you develop a pain in your lower back and your legs, a pain in your neck, pain and stiffness in your shoulders and tired and dry eyes. Isn’t it?

But, worry not, for there are just somethings that, if you follow, will help you drive the pain away. Provided you do it everyday, and not just today and tomorrow! So, let’s begin!

Things to remember while working on your computer:

1.Sit with your back erect, feet flat on the floor, or placed on a footrest, thighs parallel to the ground and wrists in line with your forearms. If you wish to sit on your bed, at least do not sit in a reclining position, with your back resting against pillows. Sit erect, place the laptop on a laptop table.

2. DO NOT sit for long. Time yourself. Sit for about 45 – 50 minutes and then just switch off the computer and go for a walk. Complete some chores around the house, or walk around your house/ work place. But do take a 5-10 minute break and WALK. Exercise your legs.

3. Make sure your neck is straight and not bent over the keyboard, and keep your shoulders relaxed. Some people have the habit of flicking their neck side to side in quick movements when they sense some stiffness in their neck. Please do not do that!

Instead, do a few neck exercises: Sit cross legged on the floor, or in a chair, but sit with your spine erect. Turn your face upwards and then slowly bend down as if to touch your chin to your chest(5 times). Then, look from side to side (5 times), again do it slowly. Next, bend your head as if trying to touch the ear to the shoulder. Don’t actually touch your shoulder, just bend, as slowly as you can– 5 times on both the sides–right to left.

4. Eye care: We tend to stare at our screens and forget to blink. Blinking cleans the eyes and keeps them moist. So, blink, consciously. Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and stare at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Remember this 20-20-20 rule. Or. Look out of your window.

When you take your hourly breaks and after you have had a walk, sit straight in your chair and do these two eye exercises:

Blinking- Squeeze shut your eyes tight and open them wide , instantly. Squeeze them shut, again, and open them wide. Follow it 10 times.

Palming: Rub your palms together till they feel warm and then place them lightly on your eyes. Slowly count till 100 and feel your eyes relax. Wash your eyes as many times as you can with cool water. I use Refresh Tear Drops, thrice a day, to keep my eyes feeling fresh.

5. Do a few shoulder exercises so that the stiff muscles get a chance to get back in their original position (you might sit erect and all, but you won’t even notice when you slouch!). You could do these exercises after the neck exercises.

Lift your shoulders and move them backwards, as if trying to touch the shoulder blades to each other. Then, bring them down and then move them in the front, making a complete circle with your shoulders. Go slow. Do this a few times- clockwise and anticlockwise. Then, once your shoulders are relaxed, lift them up to your ears and ‘drop’ them down in their original position. Again, do it slowly, for a few times. Breathe easy.

Each time you take a break, follow it up with the ‘Blinking’ and ‘Palming’ exercises, and the shoulder exercises. Push your shoulder blades towards each other to stretch those muscles to relax them, every now and then. The pain that you are bound to experience from stiff shoulders when you wake up every morning, will only increase every day if you don’t take care now.

6. Your wrists could also stiffen from being in the same position continuously. Rotate your wrists a few times, slowly, clockwise and anticlockwise. Your fingers, too, need to be exercised regularly. Open your palms, spread out your fingers and then close them into a fist. Do it a few times, slowly.

The eye, neck and shoulder exercises don’t take more than 15 minutes, so, I would suggest doing these every morning, as soon as you wake up. Here are a few more eye exercises you could do before moving on to the neck exercises.

Try and go for a walk everyday–morning or evening–for at least 30 minutes. Pay attention to your breathing when you walk and enjoy the fresh outdoor air. After being cooped up inside the house, or office, all day long, you need the workout.

I have stressed on going “slow” while doing every exercise because you need to be slow and not in a hurry to finish it off and get back to your work, or tense your muscles or joints, unnecessarily. Be gentle and caring towards yourself, while exercising, for the simple reason that it’s your body, not a machine that won’t feel pain or get hurt.

Follow these simple exercises regularly and watch the pain recede. Of course, it won’t vanish completely in a matter of days, but eventually, it will subside. If the pain continues, do visit a physiologist or consult a doctor, but please, do take care of yourself.

That’s it for today, for my hour is up and it’s time for me to go for my walk.

Take care, you all!

Love,

SHILPA…

 

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I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with Blogchatter.

 

5 ways your body changes after 40.

5 ways your body changes after 40.

Turning 40 is considered a milestone in a woman’s life. I remember how excited I was on my 40th birthday as if some life-changing phenomenon was about to take place! Nothing phenomenal really happened, but as days passed and months, I began noticing subtle, yet, significant, changes taking place within me — my body and my mind.

The significant changes being the onset of perimenopause – a period of physiological changes that indicate what lies ahead.

Perimenopause refers to the menstrual irregularities in a woman’s body due to hormonal changes which eventually lead to menopause — the end of menstruation.

The changes, when they begin appearing, can be quite disturbing. And confusing, too. Heck, at 45, I still get baffled by stuff that happens!

However, you also begin feeling quite ‘sorted’ as a person. Life takes a new meaning and you start realizing and understanding Life. At least, I have. I might as well walk with a halo around my head! ūüėõ

Of course, I know I still have a lot more maturing to do. But, Life does make sense nowadays, as do the ups and downs and the madness and the chaos, too. The chaos within, and the chaos outside.

So, today I am sharing the physical and physiological changes I began noticing after celebrating my fortieth birthday. Changes that are still taking place within. And, driving me insane!

Symptoms of perimenopause:

Irregular periods:

Estrogen plays a huge part in body weight, moods, sex drive, blood flow and memory, and that’s why the decrease in its levels affect the above to a great extent. Thus, during perimenopause, the changes in the production of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone cause the periods to become irregular.

One finds a change in the flow, as well. Either the flow is heavy, or light, giving enough reason to distress over the unmanageable changes.

In short, it’s a major irritant that’s so not in our control. All we can really do is just go with the flow! Pun unintended.

Vaginal dryness:

The vagina loses its elasticity. The dryness caused during this period puts the vagina at a greater risk of urinary tract infections.

Dryness of the skin and hair loss:

The skin also loses its moisture and feels dry, as does the scalp. Wrinkles begin to appear as do dark spots, which along with the itchiness can cause a lot of distress. Hair starts thinning and some women experience scanty hair growth and eventually, baldness.

Mood swings:

One really can’t discuss mood swings enough, isn’t it? The volatile nature of our moods in this period can cause a lot of headaches, as well as heartache! Joy, sorrow, anxiety, fear, anger — the moods become so unpredictable, you never know what can trigger a foul mood and what can result in euphoria.

Anxiety hits the roof at the drop of a hat, and the tears come rolling down your cheeks at the mere mention of, well, anything! Dealing with these frequent mood changes can get very difficult, and one does wonder whom to confide it all in.

Forgetfulness:

The memory also gets affected because of these hormonal changes. Forgetfulness becomes a new companion, and it leads to many an embarrassing moment. Retaining the littlest of information can seem like the toughest of jobs, at times.

Words fail me while writing as well as while speaking. I forget the keys of certain letters like U, V, A, E on the keyboard while typing. I also forget things hubby asks me to remember (and then receive an earful for the same!). Once, I forgot the breed of a friend’s dog! Can you believe it? At times, I fear I might lose my way home!

Psst…and you know, sometimes,¬†after¬†I have stepped out of my house, I look down to check if I am dressed!! Can you imagine the fright that grips me? I wonder if I am hallucinating, or if I am really fully clothed and need not worry!

The first thought that comes to mind is, “Am I heading towards dementia?

No, you are not. It’s all because of the fluctuating hormones. So, chill.

Changes in sleep cycle:

Perhaps, this is the second worst part of perimenopause! You start feeling drowsy so you lie down to sleep. But the moment you hit the bed, the sleep vanishes. Or, you wake up sometime in the middle of the night to visit the loo, and then it takes hours to go back to sleep again. And, then you wake up either late or feeling cranky and miserable.

Weight gain:

As you near your 40s, your metabolism begins to slow down resulting in gradual weight gain. You fail to notice any major difference, initially, but slowly and steadily, you feel the love handles appearing, and the cellulite, too.

Dieting doesn’t help and you only keep piling the pounds, bit by bit.

Treatment of these symptoms, however, lies in our hands.

First of all, accepting this phase and embracing the changes makes it less painful as It’s all part of aging. Of course, it’s easier said than done! But, sharing your troubles with close friends helps a lot. You realize you are all sailing in the same boat. So, gather your women around you. They are the ones who will be by your side.

Taking care of your diet is paramount. Increase water intake to combat the dryness. Include fresh green vegetables through salads, as well as fruits, nuts and whole grains. Include enough dairy products to keep the bones healthy.

Following an exercise regimen becomes a necessity after a certain age (if one hasn’t been giving it the deserved attention). Yoga, walking, or any other form of exercise that one can carry out comfortably helps considerably. Exercise helps keep the joints supple, the muscles toned, the skin glowing and the internal organs in a good working condition.

Enjoying this phase, accepting the changes and appreciating oneself is, I believe, the best way to deal with this phase. Moreover, with menopause, the body gets attuned to the above changes and Life, as we knew it, gets back to normal!

So, what have you experienced in your 40s? And, how have you tackled the changes?

Do share with us all. We all know how much we need the advice and the help. Oh, and also a shoulder to cry on!

Love,

SHILPA.

 

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Changes in your 40s.

 

Sources and management of Vitamin E. #EVION

Sources and management of Vitamin E. #EVION

I remember reading about the importance of Vitamin E as a young collegian. Talks about beauty and skin/ hair care being more popular than health care, I would gather every piece of information about which magic potions would bless me with a flawless skin. Little did I know then that including foods rich in the vitamin would benefit me far more than using only the creams and lotions!

Over the years, an increased awareness about food and diet helped me realise how necessary it is to include foods from every food group so as to avail the benefits of  every nutrient that is necessary for a healthy mind and a healthy body.

Benefits of Vitamin E:

We often give importance to a particular nutrient, ignoring, or even overlooking, some others that play an equally important part in keeping us functioning at our best.   Take vitamin E, for example. We all know that it  gives us  healthy skin and hair, but not many of us are aware of its importance in protection against eye disorders, diabetes, premenstrual syndromes as well as arthritis.

  1. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, a fat-soluble vitamin that protects the tissues of the skin, eyes, liver, testes and breast.
  2. It reduces cardiovascular diseases and improves stamina.
  3. It also fights free radicals that cause heart disease and cancers.
  4. it improves moisture and elasticity of the skin and acts as the anti-ageing nutrient within the body.

I really wasn’t aware of it all until some time ago when I was researching the reasons behind the changes my body was undergoing; ¬†I had put it all down as ageing!

Sources of Vitamin E:

Vitamin E is found in plant food as well as animal food. But being a vegetarian, I looked at the plant sources ¬†of this nutrient as veggies is what I prefer over sea-food, or meat. All I needed to do was tweak my diet a bit, include foods that weren’t present in my daily diet and improve my overall health.

Cold pressed oils-

Sunflower oil

Safflower oil

Olive oil

Wheat germ oil

Palm oil

Nuts and seeds-

Almonds

Hazelnuts

Peanuts

Dried Apricots

Sunflower seeds

Vegetables-

Spinach

Broccoli

Tomatoes

Red or green bell peppers

Parsley

Fruits-

Mango

Papaya

Kiwi

Avocados

Animal foods-

Milk fat

Butter

Egg yolk

Liver

Ghee

How do you include these in your diet?

Eating locally available and seasonal fruits and vegetables is the best way to improve one’s diet. Including the above veggies and fruits in your daily diet as and when they are available will ensure sufficient consumption of Vitamin E.

Breakfast:

Begin the day with a fruit, say papaya, instead of a cup of tea. I know how difficult it can be for regular tea/coffee drinkers, but, maybe you could enjoy that cuppa later!

Peanuts  fried in a little oil can be added to the poha that you have for your breakfast.

Peanut butter applied to a multi-grain bread, or a paratha to enhance the taste as well as its nutritional value

Boiled egg sprinkled with a little salt and pepper powder, or fried eggs eaten along with the bread/paratha.

Sunflower seeds Рa spoonful of the dried seeds before breakfast ensures you begin your day on a healthy note.

Snacks: 

Almonds/Peanut/Dried apricots chikki, makes for an ideal 4 p.m. snack instead of the vada pav/samosa !

Spinach and cheese sandwich using multi-grain bread to go with the tea or coffee.

Lunch/Dinner:

Soups- Tomato or spinach soup

Salad prepared using tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, roasted peanuts and seasoned with paprika, oregano and an olive oil dressing makes for a perfect start to the regular meals. (Paprika and oregano also contain Vitamin E apart from the flavour they give to our recipes).

Veggie dishes like palak paneer, tomato chutney, stuffed capsicum, or a  simple capsicum sabji  along with chapati or rice. The possibilities are aplenty.

Using sunflower oil for cooking, olive oil for salad dressing, and yes, including home made ghee in your daily meals will ensure you  receive your daily dose of Vitamin E. Ghee is something most of us prefer to stay away from, but trust our grandmothers and mothers and their wisdom, ghee is a boon to the human body! A spoonful everyday will not only provide you with enough Vitamin E, but also keep your joints well lubricated, your skin healthy and your gut functioning perfectly.

Skin care-

Using moisturisers or creams containing natural ingredients like aloe vera is much more beneficial than using those with a hundred chemicals and which can actually damage your skin in the long run. Aloe vera, as we all know, has natural healing properties. So, when used in combination with Vitamin E, it  not just keeps your skin beautiful, but flawless, healthy and well moisturised.

#Evion ,  (Evion Supplements ) uses the above two ingredients Рaloe vera (10%) and vitamin E (1%) Рin a cream that can be used daily, without any harmful side-effects. Just apply it after bath and at night to get the well-moisturised and pampered skin we all dream of. As we age, our skin tends to lose its elasticity and becomes drier by the day. Using good quality creams to keep your skin moisturised becomes a necessity.

Finally, a balanced diet rich in Vitamin E along with  the right products  for skin care will help you stay active and healthy and your skin beautiful and well-moisturised!

Stay healthy, stay blessed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Care for your eyes.

Care for your eyes.

Since the time I began using the computer and the smartphone on a regular basis, I started noticing a change in the health of my eyes. My eyesight has never  been in a great shape, but the strain I felt almost everyday was reason enough for me to worry about my eyes.

The constant staring at the computer and the smartphone screens was putting too much stress on my eyes and that was the reason I was experiencing the pain and the strain.

Years ago, I had learnt some eye exercises, and some simple ways to care for my eyes. I decided that it was time I put that knowledge  to use and restore my eye health before things got out of control.

The use of computers and smartphones  requires us to focus our eyes at a single distance near our face. Seldom do we remember to blink (an action that cleans our eyes and  keeps them moist), or give our eyes the rest they require. Our eyes were not made for such kind of work and as a result bear the brunt of all that they are subjected to.

Our eyes need care, the kind of care we give our bodies through workouts and diets. So, today, I am sharing with you some  easy-to-do exercises that require just 5 to 10 minutes of your time,  have long-lasting benefits  and  could restore the health of your eyes! Do consult with your optometrist before commencing this routine. And,  I would suggest doing these first thing in the morning, before the rush hour.

Find a spot where you won’t be disturbed for these few minutes. Sit ¬†cross-legged on the floor with your spine erect and your hands on your knees, close your eyes and give yourself some time to settle down. Breathe and try to relax those frazzled nerves and try to calm your wandering mind. Become¬†aware of yourself, your breathing, your body. The exercises you will be doing need you to concentrate on yourself.

 

5 EASY EXERCISES FOR YOUR EYES

 

1.  Workout for your eye muscles:  Open your eyes once you know you can focus on your exercises. Then, slowly, without moving your neck, move your eyes towards the ceiling. Stop for a second and then, slowly, move them down to look at the floor. This up and downward movement of the eyes should be carried out as slowly and with awareness.  Do this routine five times and then close your eyes to give them a short break.

Next, look left to right, as slowly as you did the above exercise, without moving your neck. Do it for five times, and then again, close your eyes for a break.

Next, focus at the ceiling and then, slowly, move the eyes in a clockwise direction, for five times and then anti-clockwise for five times. And, remember to go slow. If you concentrate on the eye muscles as you do these exercises, you will be able to find the places where you feel a slight stiffness and/or pain. These are the muscles that have borne the strain of having to stare constantly at the screen.

2. Blinking:  Open your eyes wide and  then close them tight  and immediately open them wide. Again, shut them tight and  open them. Repeat this 10 times. The quick shutting and opening of the eyes is a good workout for the muscles around the eyes. It increases blood flow to the eyes and relaxes them by the end of it.  After 10 times of blinking, close your eyes and relax.

3. Palming:  This exercise is to relax the eyes at the end of the routine. So, rub your palms for 10 to 15 seconds till you feel them warm and then place the palms on closed eyes, with the fingers resting on the forehead and the base of the palms on your cheeks.  Count to 100 (or 200)  in your mind and relax, let your eyes bask in the warmth. Once done, slowly remove your palms and open your eyes.

4. Staring:  Hold your hand straight in front of you with your fist closed and thumb up. Stare at your thumb. Slowly, move your hand to the right without bending it at the elbow and without moving your neck. Keep gazing at your thumb as it goes to your far right. Bring your hand back in front of you, and then use your left hand in the same manner to stare at your thumb on the left side. Do it once to the right and to the left.  Finally,  bring your thumb close to your nose and then move it back away. All the while, focus on the tip of your thumb.

While working at the computer,  always remember to blink regularly.  This will keep your eyes from drying. Or, close your eyes and roll them clockwise and anti-clockwise, slowly, and feel your eyes getting a massage! You could also do palming every once in a while when your eyes feel the strain.

Also, remember the¬†20-20-20 rule.¬† Every 20 minutes, look away at a distance of approximately 20 feet for 20 seconds and give your eyes the respite they need after staring at the screen ¬†so close to your face. I know, it’s difficult keeping track of time once we immerse ourselves in our work. So, you could set an alarm for 20 minutes in your phone and let it remind you to take the much-needed break.

Follow the above rules even while reading a book. Remember to  look out of your window or look at something at a distance. Reduce the pressure you put on your eyes.  You will instantly notice  how relaxed your eyes feel.

Following this routine regularly will help in keeping your eyes agile and the eye muscles flexible. It’s akin to feeling your body becoming flexible after a regular workout. ¬†Do try it out for the sake of your eyes. And, do remember, that these exercises in no way help in improving your eyesight, but, they will definitely maintain your¬†eye health.

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Easy exercises to keep your eyes healthy.