Ethical Fall Fashion Trends We Can Get on Board With

Every season comes with new colors and trends to embrace, and this fall season is no different. While being able to hop on trends with ease usually means shopping at large department stores and taking part in fast fashion, there are ways around that while staying stylish! Participating in trends doesn’t have to hurt the environment or take a chunk out of your wallet.

Fall Florals at Symbology

Symbology is a Fair Trade clothing line that showcases unique dresses and kimonos. Their mission is to make fair trade sexy. In order to do that they merge artisanal fabric techniques with fashion forward designs that give their customers a one-of-a-kind item that connects the wearer to a global community.

The Classic Cashmere at Naadam

It wouldn’t be fall fashion without a wool or cashmere sweater to wrap yourself up in! At Naadam they work with herders and clean energy practices to get the highest quality cashmere possible. Soft cashmere is a great way to top a classic fall look.

Printed Trousers at People Tree

In the fall and winter it can be easy to fall into the routine of grabbing anything black from your closet. Yes black is super slimming and easy to match with almost anything, but it can get a little boring. Spice up your outfit with a printed trouser for fall. People Tree works with only organic and fairtrade cotton and is Global Organic (GOTS) certified. They work to make you look good and feel good knowing your unique garment was made with respect for people and the planet!

A Good Fur at Whimsy + Row

Last but not least, you can’t go anywhere this fall without seeing some amazing fur coats. Not all fur coats look or feel the same, but they are all a fall staple! The bigger the coat, the better, right? Grab a teddy coat style from Whimsy and Row, who are dedicated to consciously reducing their eco footprint. By taking leftover deadstock fabric they are able to get creative and make something new, with less!

No matter what time of year it is, ethical and sustainable fashion is always in style. Being aware of your eco footprint is super important, even when it comes to clothing choices. This season, do what you can to stay stylish and sustainable!

Maladaptive Daydreaming: A Break From Reality, Or an Escape Gone Wrong

Maladaptive daydreaming is a relatively new term recognized by the phycological studies community that refers to frequent and extended daydreaming that disrupts day to day life. Wanting a break from reality is something that everyone has said or thought at one point or another. Maybe it wasn’t phrased exactly that way, but who wouldn’t want the occasional pause to life’s problems? When wanting an escape, most people would plan a self-care day or take a vacation. But some people have a way of taking their escape to unhealthy levels.

For anything to be considered a disorder, it has to be harmful to a person’s quality of life and often exceeding a certain length of time. Maladaptive daydreaming is new enough that its specific causes are still largely unknown and further studies will have to be complete. But, as with most disorders, it is linked to trauma and the presence of other mental disorders.

Symptoms of maladaptive daydreaming revolve around a difficulty in stopping daydreaming, a potential lack of desire to stop, perceived benefits of daydreaming, and disruption of daily life revolving around the day dreaming.

With any sort of illness, it’s important to understand treatments and when to get help from a professional. Maladaptive daydreaming is a coping mechanism gone wrong, one that at one point probably did help someone but has since become a problem. Coping mechanisms aren’t something that’s frequently talked about, but they’re vital in handling extreme life events. If you feel you’re having difficulty handling life’s events and how you handle them, it’s important to pause and begin getting the help you need.

Why Music Makes You Feel Better

You just walked by someone busking with their violin on the corner and, even though you were too busy, you stopped because you were, like, that is amazing. Or maybe a song on the radio went straight into your body, so you were moving before you even realized you were listening. Or you just saw your favorite musician and the melody, the words, the feeling filled you up so much it was like you were overflowing. And though music is personal and we all have our favorites, most all of us know that blissful feeling of enjoying music that radiates right to the soul. If you have ever wondered why, you are not alone. Science has too.

Music Is an Anti-anxiety Drug

Researchers have found that music lowers anxiety. According to a 2013 study, music provided relief from pre-operation jitters. So much so that that researchers felt music interventions might replace anti-anxiety drugs. Here’s why: music is an anti-anxiety drug — without all the nasty side-effects, though it can be habit-forming.

Another study concluded that music makes the pain go away. Patients in acute or chronic pain who listened to music found relief. Researchers noted decreases in blood pressure, breath rates, and emotional distress.   

Do folks in white lab coats have any thoughts on how music quiets anxiety and pain?

Music Pumps the Brakes on Cortisol

One guess is that music slows the production of cortisol. Everyone remember cortisol? It is the stress hormone that got your ancestors up and running from that saber-toothed tiger. Today, though, it mostly causes sweating, irritability, and a general “I have to get out of here” when it comes to contacting the IRS, or your mom. In a 2006 study, music stopped cortisol from increasing when a stressor was introduced, whereas, without music, cortisol barged  through the body for 30 minutes.

Cortisol gushing regularly through your body without a saber-toothed tiger to run from compromises brain function. A 2016 study showed that listening to music slowed cortisol in early Alzheimer’s patients and improved sleep, stress, mood, and health related quality of life. To make gains, these patients only had to listen to music for 12 minutes a day for 12 weeks. And the beat goes on, with patients showing significant improvements, even six months later.

Apparently, it doesn’t matter what kind.

Music you can sing to. Music you can dance to. Music that stirs your soul. Any of that, and all of that bypasses your rational brain and allows you to soothe that savage beast, or at least pumps the brakes on your cortisol. So that rather than fighting or fleeing, you can pet your saber-toothed tiger.

After all, it’s been extinct for about 50,000 years.

Halting Loop of Negative Thoughts: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Your slouched body reclines on a dark couch. You have a downcast face. An uninterested therapist, facing away, scribbles notes.

This is the caricature, or at least, The New Yorker cartoon. Of course, real talk-therapy, sometimes called Integrative Psychotherapy, is nothing like this. And Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is as different from talk-therapy as talk-therapy is from the caricature.

It’s About Thoughts, Not Feelings

Thoughts are the focus, not feelings, so there is no need to endlessly search for deep historical sources of discomfort. Thoughts drive feelings and the aim is to slow, or even end, repetitive, negative thoughts that shape our lives.

Studies show CBT is highly effective with a wide host of afflictions, including:

  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Eating disorders
  • Trauma

One method of CBT therapy goes like this:

At an initial visit, a CBT therapist works with you to discover the specific repetitive, negative thoughts that are endlessly churning through your head. You then spend a week or two recording the frequency and duration of those thoughts outside of the session. This becomes the baseline.

As therapy proceeds, faulty cognitions (our negatively based, misperceived guesses about how we are operating in the world) are put to the test. Is the party really going to be a disaster? Is the meeting certain to expose a lack of preparation and knowledge? The therapist then helps you reshape these thoughts into less negative, more helpful thoughts. Maybe:

“The party wasn’t great, but it wasn’t a disaster, next time I’ll be more open minded.”

“The meeting went well, and I was able to present an idea to the group. I’m better at meetings than I give myself credit for.”

Not Years, But Maybe Eight to 16 Weeks

As you question faulty cognitions and begin to shift them into more helpful thoughts, you may start to feel significant relief. You begin to see more clearly how negative thoughts affect you. Distressed and distorted thinking fades while self-awareness and emotional intelligence improves. Suffering and symptoms decrease, usually after just eight to 16 weeks.

During the process, you continue to record repetitive negative thoughts, broadening the number of faulty thoughts that you address.

The Benefits of CBT

  • Elevated mood
  • Improved performance
  • Better relationships
  • Lower cost (because CBT can be completed in as little as eight weeks)

You don’t have to spend years on the couch as the therapist scribbles away on a notepad. Instead, you are taught to listen to your own negative chatter, and shift the messages, halting the loop of negative thoughts.  

Lack of Sleep Associated with Dangerous Behaviors in Teens

Perhaps you are, or were, a sleepy teen with a parent nagging you to get up and moving on a school morning. Or maybe you’ve been the parent coaxing a resistant teen out of bed. Either way, you know it to be an unpleasant experience for all concerned.

Unpleasantness, unfortunately, may not be the worst outcome of the interaction.

There has been extensive research into the benefits of sleep and poor health outcomes associated with the lack of it. Even knowing this, you would still be unprepared for recent findings that point to surprisingly dangerous patterns in teens that do not get enough rest. According to a PubMed Health study, under-rested teens are significantly more likely to use drugs, drink alcohol, or attempt suicide.

How Much Sleep Does a Teen Need?

Teens typically need eight to 10 hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, only 30 percent of students reported getting that amount. And of those that sleep less than six hours?

They were twice as likely to:

  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Use alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs
  • Have driven under the influence
  • Carry a weapon
  • Get into a physical fight

And, actually, it gets worse. Teens who sleep less than six hours per night are also three times more likely to contemplate or commit suicide. With suicide being the second most prevalent manner in which teens die, it is indeed alarming that more than one in five teens sleeps less than six hours per night.

Now, of course, the survey only notes the association, and does not prove cause and effect. In fact, it could be that risk-takers and emotionally challenged teens undermine the quality and amount of their own sleep, or that teens from unstable, unsupervised homes get less sleep.

Take Teen Sleep Seriously

Experts advise parents and teens to consider becoming more aware of homework, activities, and social interactions that make it tougher to get into bed at a time that allows for enough sleep. These experts also suggest limiting the use of devices at night so that teens can focus on necessary schoolwork and other responsibilities to get their eight to ten hours of sleep per night.

These same experts suggest that having great difficulty in getting out of bed every single morning is not normal, and that increasing total sleep time is the only answer. They also suggest that trying to make up for sleep on the weekends not only does not help, but it actually makes the problem worse.

To improve sleep, make sure the room is quiet and dark at night. Establish a sleeping pattern and try and stick to it. Though not everyone needs the same amount of sleep, you’ll know you’re getting enough when you feel rested in the morning. If none of that works, and you’re still not able to get enough sleep, call a doctor to see if there are any medical conditions driving the problem.

Though we cannot be certain of the outcomes associated with lack of sleep, the questions it raises should be enough to take teen sleep seriously.   

Food Infused with Stuff You Didn’t Know You Wanted Or Needed

Sure, food is food, but for those who feel regular food-food doesn’t cut it, there are plenty of food new trends. Some of these take something familiar you eat or drink and add something you didn’t know you needed.

More Than Bubbles

You thought bubbles were over-the-top more fancy than you wanted in your water? A trend that is gaining fruitful steam is flavored sparkling water. There are dozens of flavors. Cucumber. Blackberry. Mint. Coconut. Rosemary. Avocado. Actually, that last one is made up, but probably on the way. So maybe you already knew about that trend, but what else can they do with water?

Extra H in Your H2O

How about water infused with molecular hydrogen? Of course, the H in H20 already means there is hydrogen in water. Apparently, two hydrogens for every oxygen is not enough. Water with supplemental hydrogen is hyped to keep you extra hydrated. Backers suggest benefits include more energy, lower lactic acid, and more antioxidants—which makes sense since now there are even more H’s to gang up on every lonely O.

Everything’s Better With Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms, not as magical as their illicit cousins, are ground into powder and mixed with coffee, hot cocoa, and even matcha. Fans assert that powder from chaga, cordyceps, and reishi mushrooms are bursting with antioxidants, vitamin B, potassium, and iron. These beverages, they say, can alleviate everything from high blood sugar to inflammatory diseases like arthritis. Though there is no research yet to back these claims, it looks like there will be plenty of legal shrooming on the unremarkable horizon.

Blazing New Trails

With 65 percent of Americans supporting legalized marijuana, eight states have shelves crammed with snacks and treats loaded with THC, the psychoactive stuff in cannabis. Of course, there is a spiraling circle here as, to satiate the effects, treats are needed, which increases the effect, presumably into a baked and blazed forever. There are countless options including treats that are gluten-free, soy-free, and sugar-free. Everything but THC-free. Because you might as well just have a regular brownie, then.

A Little Extra Energy

Companies are also adding caffeine to food. There are caffeinated energy bars, jerky, gummi bears, marshmallows, jelly beans, ice cream, and gum. There is also a peanut butter which is straight-up ridiculous. STEEM is pumped with green coffee extract. How much? How about 150 mg per two tablespoons, saving you the cost on jelly because by the time you think to slather that on, you are already a mile from home after your trip to the mailbox turned ambitious.

And while you are on your walk, you realize that you kinda want some water, but not just regular water. And that just starts the whole thing over again.

5 Tips for Improving Your Mood Right Now

A large and fast car cut you off on your way to work and it ruined your morning. As soon as you get to work, you find out your projects haven’t been approved and you need to start over on several drafts. Your boss also expects you to attend two meetings today, and you’re functioning on little sleep with no coffee. You can feel a dark cloud approaching your mental horizon. If this sounds relatable, just know you are not alone. There are many techniques to cope with stress in a healthy way, and you can start many of them right now.

Emergency Meditation Break

Close your eyes and breathe deeply three times. Take your time with your inhales and exhales. Some people find it helpful to count 4 beats as they breathe in, hold 4 seconds, then breathe out 6–8 beats. If you are sitting in your office or cubicle reading this, and you are feeling overwhelmed, my first tip is to stop everything you’re doing, including reading this article and try this exercise.

Reading Hour

Find the time to grab a fun book and get cozy in a quiet place. A daily reader, like a meditation or prayer book, could enhance your reflective time. You could also get a trashy romance or high octane spy thriller. No one is judging you. The point is to take the time to make yourself a priority and let your brain have fun downtime.

Hot, Hot Bath

One of the easiest ways to reset your happy meter is to take a relaxing hot bath. Light a candle or two, turn off the lights, and let the steaming water wash away your anxieties. If you don’t have a bathtub, find a friend with a hot tub at their apartment complex. Immersing yourself in water is the rejuvenation you need. You could also use a bath bomb soap to make your bath colorful! Be sure to read about their safety before you invest in a set, or try all natural, homemade recipes for your bath.

Mmm…Massage

A back massage can do a world of good for someone who holds stress in their shoulders. Take your time to find someone you really connect with or ask around. Massages can be expensive, but if you can afford it once in a while, your back will thank you.

Find Gratitude in the Moment

Let the Universe work its magic. Trust the process. Find a phrase, prayer, or mantra that helps you focus on the positives. Taking a moment to look at the big picture, from the micro level of molecules to the cosmic level of the galaxy, could boost your mood. Appreciate the awe that is life and being alive right now.  

Taking the time for self-care may be difficult for some people at first. They are either accustomed to putting others’ needs before their own or they don’t think about self-care in these restorative ways. They could think that watching TV and loading up on sugar, carbs, and alcohol are healthy coping mechanisms. I will let you in on a little secret: they aren’t. Find ways to release your stress that help you grow and relax. You deserve to be happy, but you need to work on it if you want it. The next time you are feeling the stress creep up on you, look at this list, or make your own.

Professional help may be necessary if you experience mental health symptoms that differ from normal stress. There are a wealth of resources for you to access to get the help you need. I hope these tips helped you, and if they didn’t, keep looking for what works for you.

Cookies, Books, Free Perks at Libraries: Reading is Amazing, Reports FEBC

Today, September 6, everyone around the world is encouraged to celebrate Read a Book Day with their favorite book, a poetry collection, e-book, and more. We offer specific tips to make this day especially memorable. Don’t take our word for it, though. Try it for yourself!

Books With a Side of Cookies

What better way to enjoy your book than with a sweet treat to help you celebrate. Maybe you share a home or office with people who have dietary restrictions, but you also want to share your love of books and treats with them. Why not set up a small table with a few books from different genres, with a plate of treats that they could eat? Dairy-free and gluten-free treats like these are a hit with my colleagues. You could even ask your office manager if they could incorporate a special 20-30 minutes on Read a Book Day for treats and talking about favorite books.

Why is Reading Good for You?

The experts say a few top benefits for reading every day include mental stimulation, stress reduction, and gaining knowledge. Keeping your brain active by reading real books is the key here — tweets and Facebook posts don’t count, sorry not sorry. Have you also ever noticed that reading an engrossing novel makes you forget all of your worries? Hence the effect of stress reduction when you get lost in a good book. You could learn new vocabulary, more facts, or novel ways of approaching obstacles by reading on a consistent basis. You could also improve your memory, which then improves the pathways in your brain (synapses).

Visit Your Local Library — for the Perks!

Free stuff at the library? Yep, it’s a thing, and if you’re not aware, then you better go check it out. For example, a free or low-cost library card could get you free eBooks, newspapers, DVDs, movies to stream, and free wi-fi. Some libraries even offer access to personal development programs, like LinkedIn-owned Lynda.com, where you can pretty much learn everything you need to know about various careers, from marketing, to photography, business, and so much more. You might also just need a quiet space to study, relax, or think. This is not a drill: go to your library!

Share These Quotes on Social Media

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” -Maya Angelou

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” -Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

“The books that help you most are those which make you think the most. The hardest way of learning is that of easy reading; but a great book that comes from a great thinker is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and beauty.” -Pablo Neruda

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” -Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter: Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

Why are you still reading this blog? Go read a book!

The Evolving Science of the Evolution of Giving

Why do we give? And what do we get from it?

Science has known for a while that giving is good for you.  A 2008 Harvard Business School study found that giving money to someone else made people happier than spending the same amount of money on themselves. Research, in 2006, showed that giving to charity activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. In 1999, a study showed that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five year period.

We have been less clear, though, on why this is.

Are we hardwired to give?

A more recent study involving toddlers, discussed on Hidden Brain, suggests that giving may be hardwired.  

Researchers gave toddlers a stash of edible treats and told that a puppet really liked eating treats. The toddlers faces were recorded as they gave and received treats. Researchers measured their smiles and found they increased considerably when they gave away their treats. For researchers, it was significant that these children were too young to have reliably learned from home what they should or shouldn’t do with the treats. This indicates that this behavior may be established within us and enhanced or limited by family and social pressures.

Based on this information, we may give to others because it is to our evolutionary advantage. Charity helped us survive. We give because we need each other. More individuals live when there is cooperation and altruism.

Altruism and Empathy All Up in Our Heads

A 2012 study from Nature Neuroscience found that when monkeys gave to others in their group, the parts of their brain associated with social reward lit up. For humans, this may have become a larger and larger part of the brain. It seems that altruism and empathy may have grown to more efficiently pass along our genes since the earliest humans survived by relying on each other in harsh environmental conditions. It may be one of the main things that separated us from our primate cousins.

The conclusion, then, is that we’re all in this together. Time and time again, researchers have demonstrated that our genes and brains have evolved so that we are compassionate, cooperative teammates that foster community.

It might be good to remember on the International Day of Charity that being altruistic and kind to one another makes us feel better because it benefits us all. We live well when others live well.

 

Low Cost High Intensity Sports Increase Fitness on a Budget

Low cost, high intensity sports are a great way to increase your fitness while on a budget, especially for those attempting to rebuild their lives. Attempts to lower calories without exercise by dieting can lead to yo-yoing weight gain and loss. It has also been associated with Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated levels of cortisol. On the other hand, you can eat more satisfying meals and increase your fitness burning calories with high energy workouts.

Team Sports

First on the list of low-cost workouts is competitive sports such as basketball, soccer, touch-football, or tennis. Basketball, soccer, and football can burn up 710 calories per hour. Doubles tennis burns calories a bit slower, at just over 500 calories. Still, the great thing about burning calories in competitive sports is that you can get lost in the fun and competition. When you are playing instead of exercising, you can completely forget that you are working out.

Individual Sports

If you want to get out there on your own, running only requires shoes and shorts and a path or road. And, even at a slow pace, you can burn 600 calories per hour and more than 1000 calories per hour if you run at a fast or moderate pace. No matter where you live, you can get a great workout in for almost no cost. Running is associated with disease prevention and decreased anxiety and even boosts in memory, mood, and creativity.

Cycling requires a bike, though there is no need to purchase a carbon fiber, electronic shifting high-tech machine. Any working bike in good order can be the spinning foundation for a great workout. You can burn well over 700 calories an hour at a high intensity pace. But you can even burn 300 calories an hour at a moderate pace. Cycling has the added benefit of being lower impact than running or many team sports which can be hard on joints. Among the many health benefits of cycling, perhaps the most startling is recent research that shows cycling to be as effective as current pharmaceutical treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

Though swimming is somewhat restrictive because it requires a body of water, either natural or manmade, it is even lower impact than cycling. In addition, it is generally considered safer, since crashing on a bike can lead to highly traumatic injuries. Swimming burns 800 calories or more per hour depending on stroke and intensity. Swimming has been associated with decreases in triglycerides, blood pressure, and total cholesterol and improvements in core strength and skeletal muscle mass.

Going to the Gym at Home

Of course,  you can do traditional gym workouts at home. You can jump rope almost anywhere with only a strand of rope and burn over 600 calories per hour.  Additionally, you can lift weights at home. Low weight and high-repetition workouts burn more than 400 calories per hour, increase muscle mass and metabolism.

So skip that diet and take a step toward taking care of your body. Low cost, high intensity activities are a great place to stop yo-yoing. Unless you’re actually yo-yoing. Then you can burn 100 calories in around 25 minutes of Walking-the-dog.