Mindfulness for beginners

Everyone always seems to be in huge rush moving through life with no time to sit, think and listen to the world around them. This is definitely not a good way to live day to day as you become very absorbed with all the worries and anxieties of daily life, instead of being able to step back sometimes and appreciate the beautiful world we live in. Allowing yourself to take the time to be mindful and become aware of what is going on around you is always a fantastic way to ease those anxieties and stressors in your body. It often feels like there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done. Our stress and tiredness make us unhappy, impatient and frustrated.

Meditation for anxiety

Modern life typically demands us to move at a fast pace and that is not something we can control. Many people can start to become overwhelmed with the stress and anxiety this can cause them and lead them down a path of searching for answers which are incorrect. This can be anything from alcohol to hard drugs so they can escape their world for just a split second. These are terribly addictive substances and are definitely not the answer when it comes to this topic.

One great way to relax and unwind after a long day is to practice mindful meditation. We are often so busy many of us will say “Oh I don’t have any time to sit and do nothing for 30 minutes”. However, by practicing meditation, you will allow yourself more focused time throughout the day as it calms the mind and gives you the ability to zone in on what actually is important in your day. This is something as simple as practicing breathing exercised and emptying the mind of all thoughts.

Creating a blank slate midday is a great way to reset and refocus the mind to give yourself a refreshing feeling. Meditation is a great way to help us understand our own mind and our own thoughts and exactly how we operate on a day to day basis. When you start to practice this, you will begin to understand the amazing ideas and benefits it will unlock for you, and how you will have much more in the tank on a daily basis just by taking 15 to 30 minutes a day to meditate.

It gives us the ability to take simple thoughts and transform our mind from negative to positive, from disturbed to peaceful or even from unhappy to happy. Being able to overcome these thoughts daily is the purpose of taking this time to meditate and why it was initially created in the Buddhist tradition. This is a great practice and I highly recommend trying it out and seeing how you feel!

Using activity to overcome anxiety

Being very physically active myself, I know the exact types of benefits this can give someone dealing with stress and anxiety in their everyday life. When you get that time to do what you love, it’s like you’re in another world and not affected by anything going on in your daily life no matter how stressful it may be.

When you are able to compete in a sport or in the gym against the clock or the weights, you lose yourself in what you are doing. There is a certain type of focus required that makes you empty your mind of anything else and just focus on that moment and what you are doing. This, in essence, is forcing you to be mindful and it’s a very interesting feeling that you will see when you find your workout passion.

For some people, it may mean joining a team and having that focus, grit and determination to come out on top. Zoning in your mind on the game and wanting to win so bad you can’t think about anything else in that moment. It may be just general exercise in the gym and that’s perfectly fine too. It’s you vs your inner conscious sometimes telling you not to gym today because you’re tired or too busy, but you battle though your workout and feel like a champion coming out on the other side. Or finally, maybe it is an activity such as yoga, which incorporates mindful practices coupled with some tough exercises and poses that will force you to be focused and get in a great workout. Whatever activity you may come to find is the one for you will all have a great benefit in your life and help you release the tensions you are feeling from your everyday life.

Final thoughts on mindfulness

When you find your peaceful place in your mind, there is no other feeling like it. It’s a certain type of focus where your body feels completely in line with your mind and you are feeling, sensing and hearing everything around you but absorbing none of it. You are totally there but you are totally focused and free at the same time. It is such a crazy experience and when you find this mindfulness, you will know what I mean. I challenge you, the reader, to go out and try something new that will help you become more mindful. It takes practice, but when you find this place in your mind and body, it is totally worth it. So, how mindful will you be?

Smart Home Devices 

Home automation is everywhere, as it seems like almost everyone wants to get their hands on the best and newest gadget to install. Movies like the Matrix, Star Wars, and Back to the Future sparked our interest in smart home devices from the start. The talking robots, self-controlled cars, and home control networks are all now a reality. We are now capable of having control over our entire living area at the swipe or touch of a single button.

Today, we can get the most popular pieces of technology online on stores like Amazon or Best Buy and have it delivered to our doorstep in a matter of days. As artificial intelligence becomes more advanced, let’s dive in to the biggest predictions that technology experts have for smart home devices within the coming year.

Safety and Security 

The huge level of comfort that home automation brings also leads to some very real risks with user safety. Voice control is already the primary technology that is included in your phone, TV, Echo, and audio system. Voice is going to continue to be the main advancement that allows smart home technologies to thrive.  Yet, in order to take audio commands, devices have to screen the thousands of other audio data sent back and forth within its environment. That surveillance has lead to several instances of data breach, similar to the problems that social media platforms face throughout the year. The Facebook scandal wasn’t too long ago and only speaks to the amount of private data that companies who manufacture popular platforms can steal any minute. By inviting smart home devices into our rooms, there’s no telling when they may be listening to when we’re talking to others or are just by ourselves. The Amazon Alexa was in the news earlier this year for saving audio data depicting sensitive evidence about a murder that occurred in the home it was installed in. Thousands of people were shocked by its ability to store information like that which the owner definitely didn’t mean to share. With smart home technology, if the system it runs on is hacked in any manner, location information and other important footage could be leaked and lead to a severe backlash. As this industry matures, treating these privacy issues as a top priority will be key in allowing it gain speed and traction.

Integration Is Infinite 

For a new smart home product to become fully welcomed by customers, it needs to be both differentiated in a positive light and easy to integrate with devices that they own already. No one wants to drop a couple hundred dollars from their paycheck on a new gadget to find out that it’s not working with their existing system. Consumers also shouldn’t have to think about what to invest in first, like Amazon’s Echo line or products that support Apple’s Homekit. By the end of the year, we should expect to see greater cross-compatibility between brands if they are smart enough to realize it will only generate more customer loyalty.

Users also need to feel that they won’t risk screwing up the functions that direct their fifteen home appliances, home temperature, or music playlist when they’re not focusing on it. It’s crucial for companies to communicate the directions in an understandable manner and adapt their product to being completely friendly for a beginning user. One feature that is predicted to stay is the AI software embedded in smart home devices that remind users to turn off the appliances before they walk away. From deactivating morning alarms to switching the stove, there’s a variety of opportunities for smart home devices to create leeway.

Data Sharing 

How nice would it be if your fridge could start ordering food for you? How about your home pre-setting the temperature of your bedroom before you come back after work? Experts predict that sharing data of homeowners with retail and other grocery chain businesses will be the next big thing for smart home devices. This involves using an automatic AI system in each device that analyzing the daily patterns of the person who uses it. It works as a two way street as customers gain more help while businesses gain key information into what time of the day they use their products, what items they order on a frequent basis, and how much they request at a given time. With more and more smart home devices entering the market these days, there is a huge opportunity for these forward-thinking companies to provide better service to serve their customers. Their data in this case still has to be protected, but if the process is engineered well enough, the future of shopping and home devices can change for the better.

Find Your Tech

Before bringing a new smart house device into your area, remember to do your research about the product. Customer reviews don’t lie and often you can find little problems that may come up with the device after reading what they have to say. On the other hand, there’s a variety out there for you to integrate some AI into your home. As a proud Alexa owner, my time is vastly saved and I love how I can easily control different aspects of my home with it! Tech is definitely worth the pretty penny.

Anxiety symptoms and reactions in men – a personal story

There is nothing wrong with seeking the help of a professional and anyone who tells you otherwise is not acting in your best interest. You are not crazy and should “just snap out of it”, none of this is your fault and it isn’t all ‘just in your head’. A mental disorder cannot be removed from your daily life if you ‘just change the way you think’ or ‘be grateful for what you have’.

Mental illness is like any other illness and has caused many great and strong willed people to take their own lives. It is not something that should be joked about and is not something to be taken lightly. Being depressed is not just feeling extreme sadness, it is a total darkness that eclipses someone’s mind. It takes them to another place, one where they do not feel welcome and cannot find an ounce of happiness. It is not something the person chooses to do to themselves, nor is it a burden that anyone should have to go through and experience. People need to open their eyes to the true meaning of depression and anxiety disorders and understand that it is something that cannot be controlled. I know this as I have a close friend who dealt with these issues, I know these frustrations all too well as I have lived it and experienced the stereotypes first hand. We experienced the so-called friends who joked about it, told him to ‘cheer up’ because everything is ok, or ‘let’s go out and have some fun and you will forget about it’.

Nothing is ever that simple when it comes to mental illness and it is a major flaw that some people in society see it that way. If you had a broken leg, could you easily ‘go for a run’ to make it heal? No you couldn’t, being physically injured is the same as being mentally injured times 50. Your mind  is the control center of your entire body and dictates your actions, words, and thoughts. This is why these disorders take so many lives and if a man has an anxiety disorder, he should not blame himself and feel guilty, he should seek the help he needs without having to feel like he is being judged for weakness or lack of personal grit. This is why I wrote this blog today, to tell a very personal story that .

Take me back to college

I will never forget the day we first met. It was a Monday, I was walking out of my first lecture of the day when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned as I heard a voice saying, “Hey, I think we are in the same class, would you like to study for the exam later”, so due to it being myself and not being ready as usual for the exam, I gladly accepted the offer to study with someone who looked like they actually listened in lecture. This was how I met Andrew for the first time.

Later on that day, we met over some coffee and studied for a few hours for the exam, exchanged numbers and parted ways. It seemed like we got along very well, so over the next couple weeks and months, we eventually became close friends and studied together on many occasions.

After a few months, Andrew had missed some get-togethers and study sessions with what seemed to be random and somewhat far-fetched excuses. So, after a while, I started to question them thinking that he was just being lazy or trying to skip out on something. However, I could not have been more wrong. On one winter’s evening, I believed that Andrew had fallen asleep a night before our biggest exam. I headed over to his place to wake him up and to my surprise the door was wide open. As I walked in, I could not believe what I was witnessing. It was Andrew, sitting down with a knife in his hand, sobbing repeatedly saying “just do it”. I ran over as quickly as I could and snatched the knife right out of his hand. I screamed at him, I could not believe what he was about to do and berated him for not reaching out to anyone about his problems. He said he didn’t want to seem weak and insecure, that his anxiety in college was becoming too much and too overwhelming and he just wanted it to stop.

I believe the anxiety had led to some depression and Andrew was blaming himself for his issues and feeling guilty. He did not want to burden us and believed he was just weak and not tough enough. This is a terrible way to see anxiety and depression disorders as they should never be kept a secret out of fear.

You should always tell the people closest to you or even reach out to a professional for help. It is not your fault and there is always something that can be done about it. These issues are many times not self-induced and are just a medical disorder that can happen to anyone.

If you are reading this, please do not keep it to yourself and seek help for yourself immediately. These disorders can consume you and eventually lead someone to take their own life. Andrew was lucky, we got him the attention he needed and he slowly got back to full health. Please seek help before it is too late, and do not find yourself in a position Andrew once was.

Dangerous Dieting

Losing weight in college can be hard, especially when you feel like you’re being slammed with the freshman fifteen weight gain. It’s hard when there’s tight deadlines set for almost every week for class, sleep and social life are either prioritized as one or another, and the feeling of stress is a constant. Many guys can feel like they need to live up to the standards that the media pushes up on them. I can attest to seeing my old roommate chug Muscle Milk and cut bread entirely out of his diet to shed the last few pounds that he didn’t like seeing. While I think that putting in the exercise and eating healthy is great for weight loss, I can attest that some of my friends have used dangerous diet pills in hopes to look great for their next big social event or get summer shredded.

But to be real with you, they don’t work at all. The side effects are awful on a person going through the hectic schedule of college and it’s worse if you’re not eating enough at the same time. These pills are usually FDA banned and contain ingredients that make you more jittery than a large cup of coffee. The right way to cope with the semester weight gain is to start with the right mindset and eat healthy so you feel stronger for life!

Eat Right And Get Tight

While drastically cutting calories does help you lose weight, you might not get the exact physical and mental results you want. When you eat too few calories, your body can easily enter what’s commonly referred to as “starvation mode”. This is where your metabolism stops burning enough calories and starts to convert everything you eat normally into fat as it;s expecting some future famine to happen.  Our metabolism is naturally meant to slow down more with less food consumed in order to store enough energy and suppress any intense feelings of hunger. Yet, in college, storing all the instant ramen or pizza we eat will backfire if that’s the only meal going into our system.

The best thing to do is stay off the banned diet pills and instead eat foods that are nutrient rich. This includes eating enough monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids for energy, which is commonly found in oils, nuts, avocados, and fish. Eat enough protein throughout the day by aiming for three low fat servings and get in those complex carbohydrates as well. This means passing up the chips from the vending machine for more fulfilling foods like whole grain bread, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and other natural alternatives. As for desserts, eat in moderation but don’t completely cut them out. You still want to enjoy life throughout your weight loss journey and not give up on your ultimate goals!

Drug Dependency

For healthy weight loss I don’t recommend taking any dangerous diet pills that could run the internal process of your body. Your body is designed to run perfectly with natural ingredients, so putting odd lab formulated mixes just isn’t right for your mind and soul. I remember I had a friend from a few years ago who took Hydroxycut for several months in hoping that she would lose some pounds on her stomach. While she saw some results within a few days, she felt terrible mentally and drained from how it was affecting her body over time. The commercials the brand pushes on the media have before and after photos that look eerily too dramatic in my opinion. If you aren’t seeing real athletes or personal trainers recommending such a product to their network and the rest of their fans, chances are it’s a fad that is trying to reach for you money. Protect your wallet and sanity by steering clear of this selection at the drug store and look for buying vitamins like fish oil, A, B, C, and iron for example to enhance your overall nutrition. Biotin and vitamin D is also great for maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails if you’re lacking important minerals from your everyday diet. Take these once a day or find foods that contain them to give your body the boost it needs. Starting from the organic roots of health is always the best play in my book!

Healthy Alternatives

Going natural isn’t just a trend, it’s a lifestyle that when done right brings amazing benefits. If you want to feel healthier and lose weight, keeping things simple by eating right, getting enough sleep, lowering your stress, working out consistently, and avoiding any banned diet pills is the key. The infomercials you see across the web about the best detox tea or cabbage soup diet may sound appealing, but remember to stick to sound science if you want to get the target body you want. No reasonable diet should completely cut out certain foods in order to lose weight as our body needs all the nutrients it get can get. That sounds like an excuse to just eat cookies whenever you want, but I’m telling you that it still can be incorporated with a mainly healthy diet! Figure out what fits your lifestyle so no magic drug sounds appealing enough to rely on to lose weight.