Reading has had a huge impact on my own life. I’ve had my world expanded by reading. Reading not only enhances a child’s academic performance and cognitive development, but even more importantly, reading is simply one of life’s most enriching and edifying activities.
Keep a well-stocked home library. When I read the biographies of eminent personalities, who were voracious readers, so many of them talk about growing up in households that were filled with books. It’s not only that keeping a home library allows your kid access to lots of books, the library also acts as a potent signal that reading is important to you as parents, and is an important aspect of your family culture. This is one of the reasons paper handbook libraries are far more superior and impactful than digital libraries in kindle. Of course, a home library isn’t going to have a big effect, if its books are merely decorative, and your kids never see you actually opening them.
Be a reader yourself. Your kids are always watching you. They’re more likely to do what you do than do what you say. So set an example for them and be a reader yourself. Let your kids catch you reading. I am grateful to my grandparents for many things but specially thankful for them being readers. Growing up I always saw them reading. Many times reading to each other. And Mom would read many books to them as they aged. They never lectured my sister and me to read, but we all followed their lead and read ourselves.
Read out loud to them when they’re little (and beyond). Just because your kids are too young to read themselves, doesn’t mean you can’t start inculcating the reading habit in them. Read out loud to your kids when they are little. It will set a practice for them that reading is as much a part of life’s routine, like brushing your teeth and having your meals. Even when your kids are old enough to read on their own, keep reading aloud to them. It’s a great way to spend time with your kids, and it reinforces the idea that reading is just something you do in your family.
Let your kids read what they want. Some parents (ofcourse with good intention) have this idea that if their kids are going to be readers, then they’re only going to read the Great Books or only the classics of children’s literature. So they put their kids on some reading program and make their children slog through books they have no interest in. That’s a great way to turn your kids into non-readers. Instead, let your kids read whatever they want…that’s age-appropriate. You want them to learn to enjoy reading.
Buy your kids’ books in abundance. When we go to shopping malls, we more often take them to the bookstore and let them pick books of their choice which we then buy for them. There seems to be something about buying a book for your kids that gets them more pumped into reading it. I’m guessing it’s the dopamine that comes with buying stuff. Buying books also helps your children build their own home library.
From my experience, books are the most value added purchase that will give your kids hours of entertainment, all sorts of cognitive, emotional, and academic benefits, and another nudge along the path to becoming lifelong readers.
If you’re an allergy sufferer, you understand how upsetting and sometimes frightening it is to react to something that doesn’t seem to bother anyone else. Whether you have hay fever, asthma, food allergies, or allergic skin disorders, allergic diseases often hold an element of mystery because they seem to affect only certain people and often develop out of the blue.
Why are you allergic?
Allergic reactions are inappropriate, overblown responses mounted by the body’s immune system against a harmless substance.
- Your genes. Someone with a genetic predisposition to allergies is said to be atopic, and is more likely to suffer from allergies
- Your environment. The circumstances of your early childhood also influence how likely you are to develop allergies. Exposure to a wider array of germs early in life may “train” the immune system to distinguish harmful germs from harmless substances and thus dampen the body’s tendency to turn on the allergic response. This idea is known as the hygiene hypothesis. We try to keep children away from any possible germs and that works against, many a times.There has been ample evidence for the hygiene hypothesis over the past several decades. Experts do not recommend that parents purposely expose their children to germs. But a sterile environment may not be desirable either.
- It’s also wise to use antibiotics only when truly needed, not every time a child has an infection. Viral infections won’t be helped by antibiotics. And by killing off both good and bad bacteria in the body, antibiotics can disrupt the microbiome.
Pinpointing your allergic reactions
The first step in allergy control is pinpointing the substances that trigger allergic reaction. Allergy testing is effective only when you and your allergist have some idea of what you are testing for. A detailed description of your symptoms and the situations that trigger them is invaluable in whittling down the possibilities.
Source : Harvard Health Education
The best way to treat allergies is to reduce exposure to the allergens. Avoidance is the best medicine. The four major causes of environmental allergies are pollens, molds and fungi, pet dander and dust mites. Here are some of the things you can do to reduce exposure to these allergens:
- Stay indoors on days pollen count is high, specially dry, windy days.
- Don’t hang bedsheets or clothing outside during high pollen season.
- Wash your hair before bed if you have spent your day outdoors.
- Wear mask when going outdoors.
- Don’t bring your outdoor shoes inside your home.
- Wash your linen at least once a week in hot water and dry them in a dryer, if possible.
- Maintain humidity level below 50%.
- Make sure your home has adequate ventilation and proper exhaust in bathroom and kitchen.
- If you have house plants, don’t over water them.
- Throw away anything that has mold or fungi on it.
- Buy washable stuffed toys for your kids and wash them often in warm water.
- Damp mop dust. Dry mop will stir up mite allergen.
- Avoid keeping a pet, if you have allergy to pet dander.
- If you must have a pet, avoid bringing them to your bedroom.
- Vacuum and sweep after every meal (don’t forget under the refrigerator and stove) and make sure no food is left uncovered— including all garbage.
- Get rid of your carpets. They are store house for allergens.
- Routinely wash your pet’s bed.
- Regularly vacuum and use a good vacuum cleaner.
The World Heart Federation says that even moderate alcohol consumption harms your cardiovascular health.
Red wine actually isn’t good for your heart. Really.
For the past 30 years, health experts have touted red wine (in moderation) as a heart-healthy beverage. But a January 2022 policy brief from the World Heart Federation (WHF) aims to set the record straight. No type of alcohol — including wine — is a friend to your heart.
It increases the risk of
- heart failure
- cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle)
- aortic aneurysm (a dangerous bulge in the wall of the aorta)
- atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm)
Alcohol and your heart – some thought-provoking data
The World Heart Federation included some statistics about alcohol and health in its January 2022 policy brief, “The Impact of Alcohol Consumption on Cardiovascular Health: Myths and Measures.” Here are some of the highlights:
- Globally, alcohol use contributed to 2.4 million deaths in 2019 — 4.3% of all deaths.
- Some 230 diseases are linked to alcohol use.
- Alcohol, even in small amounts, is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. It’s also a risk factor for cancers of the mouth, throat, and liver, among others.
- People who drink moderately are about 14% more likely to have a stroke compared with those who don’t drink at all, and also 15% more likely to suffer a fatal aortic aneurysm.
- Alcohol use is linked to narrowing of the carotid arteries and the coronary arteries, which may lead to stroke or heart attack.
Many people have been washing more diligently since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While good hand hygiene is important, it can quickly dry out the skin on your hands.
To keep your skin hydrated, turn down the water temperature when washing. Use cold water, as long as you work the soap into a lather. Also, moisturize your skin with a heavy hand cream right after washing. Apply the cream when your skin is still slightly damp. To help your dry and cracked skin heal, also consider an extra nighttime treatment. Apply a thick moisturiser or Vaseline to your hands before bed. Then put a pair of cloth gloves, or even a pair of clean socks, on your hands. This allows the moisturizer to work as you sleep.
Good Vibes Space
The second episode of Good Vibes Space Series on Deep Health was an interesting exchange of experiences and insights on strength training and body transformation between Nachiketh Shetty, fitness coach and nutritionist, and his mentee, Vivek Gupta, a financial planner by profession, a passionate weight lifter, moderated by Sandeep Mall, on 23rd April’2022. Click here to listen to the recording of this Spaces session on Strength Training, Weight Loss and Physical Transformation
- Toolkit for mindful eating
- Toolkit to sanitise your home for weight loss
- Toolkit to improve Strength & Co-ordination
How to Configure Your iPhone to Work for You, Not Against You by Tony Stubblebine (@tonystubblebine). I have found this article extremely helpful. It’s a complete tactical overhaul of how you use your greatest digital blessing/curse.
The school that shortened its working week (and what happened next) Amid growing interest in shorter working weeks, a school that rejigged its timetable is now looking to further adapt its week
We all experience moments of indulgence that lead to overeating. If it happens once in a while, it’s nothing to worry about. If it happens frequently, it should be a matter of concern. Many people unconsciously overeat and don’t realize it until after they finish a meal. That’s where mindfulness exercises can help you stick to reasonable portion sizes.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, and observing the inputs flooding your senses. At meal time, think about how the food looks, how it tastes and smells. What’s the texture? What memories does it bring up? How does it make you feel? By being mindful at meals, you’ll slow down the eating process, pay more attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and perhaps avoid overeating.
Eating should not be an automatic process of “See food, Take food, Eat food”.
Eating mindfully is not just a fad. It has proven benefits ranging from the physical (e.g. loss of weight) to the psychological (e.g. reduced anxiety about eating).
Here are a few of the ways mindful eating has shown to be effective.
- Avoid screens at the table. Phones, tablets, and television screens only serve to distract during meals.
- Eat in peaceful, uncluttered place. Eat at place designated for eating and avoid eating on your bed. Sit down and eat together. Eating together at the table is a good habit to cultivate for a lot of reasons; it’s a good way to introduce new foods, engage your children in conversation, and make eating a priority.
- Pace your meal for 20 minutes. Chew your food properly.
- Savor: Notice the texture, aroma, and flavor (is it crunchy, sweet, salty, smooth, spicy?).
- Take a deep breath or take a second to be thankful for your meal before eating.
- Make eating an exclusive event rather than multitasking. Keep away the newspaper or the book you are reading.
- Check your stress level before eating, as you might be turning to food even when you’re not really hungry.
- Be mindful of the portions, to ensure you are enjoying quality, not quantity.
- Eat before you get too hungry or you might make impulsive choices.
- Serve yourself a reasonable portion, instead of eating directly from the bag or box.
- Try eating in silence; acknowledge when your mind wanders, but bring it right back to eating whenever you notice it.
Mindful Exercises to practice
Practicing mindfulness when you’re not eating, sharpens your mindfulness ‘muscles’.
- Focused breathing. Breathe in and breathe out slowly. With each in breath, allow your belly to go out. With each out breath, allow your belly to go in. Whenever you have couple of minutes try practicing this.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. In this exercise, you tighten and release one major muscle group at a time for 20 seconds. As you release a contraction, notice how it feels for the muscles to relax.
- Take a mindful walk, even if it’s just for five minutes. Notice the colour of the leaves. Feel the breeze. Has anything changed in the surrounding?
- Keep a journal & Gratitude diary. Write down the details of your day. Try to include what your senses took in — the sights, sounds, and smells you experienced, and the textures you touched. Things or people whom you are grateful for.
The more mindful you become throughout your day, the more mindful you’ll become when you eat. And you may find that you’re getting better at making decisions about the food you consume
If you are over weight, it’s not all your fault. We have become a sleep deprived society that makes us crave calorie dense food. Our jobs require us to sit all day and travel in car/ bus, so we are not moving enough to send our bodies the signal that we are active thriving humans. We are stressed at work and home, which makes our body think we are in hostile place and it holds on to more fat. On top of that we have easy access to packaged, ultra-processed food. The end result is soaring obesity and diabetes. Here is what you can do to sanitise your home and life:
1) Take an inventory of food in your home. Divide them into two categories – red and green zone. Red zone are the ones that are ultra-processed – sweets, chocolates, packaged snacks, biscuits etc. Stop bringing them home.
2) Don’t keep fizzy drinks and juices in your home. They are liquid calories.
3) Keep a water bottle or jug visible. Make it attractive so you feel great when you use it. Put some chopped cucumber ot fresh mint in the water
4) Keep vegetables at eye level in the fridge, not hidden in the bottom drawers.
5) Plan your weekly meal in advance. This way you will not make decisions out of hunger. When you come home after a tired work day, it is difficult to be motivated to cook something and you end up eating some unhealthy food.
6) Eat out of small plate. That’s a great hack for tweaking your hunger signals.
7) Keep fruit and unsalted nuts in your home for times when you really need a snack. I prefer to keep shelled ones. Removing the shell requires an effort and makes it harder to gorge on.
8) Keep your bedroom, keep and calm. Don’t have overhead lamps in your bedroom and prefer to have side lights and table lamps.
9) Avoid having a TV in your bedroom.
10) Keep your bedroom cold when you sleep.
11) Remove curtains early in the morning so that as much natural light can come.
12) Take home cooked meal to work.
13) Enjoy a filling, protein rich first meal of the day before you go to work. This will keep you full and reduce your desire to snack.
14) Bring a water bottle with you to work. Try and drink the whole bottle before lunch. When we drink enough water our craving for snack is less.
15) Keep an emergency snack pack of healthy food with you at work.
16) Send your child to school with healthy meals/snack.
17) Eat mindfully. Not with newspaper or phone or in front of TV. A detailed toolkit on mindfulness is shared in the beginning of this newsletter.
If you’ve ever had a boil, an insect bite, or even a deep paper cut, you know the painful, hot, red swelling that results. This response, called inflammation, occurs as white blood cells try to fight off an invading pathogen or deal with a foreign body such as a splinter. While inflammation plays a vital role in defending you from germs, over time, allergy-related inflammation that is left unchecked can be harmful.
So many physical abilities decline with normal aging, including strength, swiftness, and stamina. In addition to these muscle-related declines, there are also changes that occur in coordinating the movements of the body. Together, these changes mean that as you age, you may not be able to perform activities such as running to catch a bus, walking in the park, carrying groceries into the house, keeping your balance on a slippery surface, putting your cabin baggage in a flight, or playing catch with your grandchildren as well as you used to with your children.
Changes in strength, swiftness, and stamina with age are all associated with decreasing muscle mass.
Changes in coordination are less related to muscles and more related to the brain and nervous system. Multiple brain centers need to be coordinated to allow you to do everything from hitting a cricket ball while playing with your grand child, to keeping a coffee cup steady as you walk across a room.
One of the major reasons of this deterioration is reduced level of physical activities. There is a myth in our society that it is fine to do progressively less exercise the older you get. The truth is just the opposite! As you age, it becomes more important to exercise regularly — perhaps even increasing the amount of time you spend exercising to compensate for bodily changes in hormones and other factors that you cannot control. These tools will help you improve your co-ordination and strength at any age:
- Do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every week. Walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, aerobic or Zumba class.
- Do at least two days of strength and balancing exercise routines a week like weightlifting, yoga, pilates etc.
- Play a sport that you like. can be TT or badminton or golf..any thing.
- Hire a coach who can check your form and advise
- Get treated for diseases that interfere in your activities like cataract, orthopaedic injuries or dental.
- Eat whole foods, lots of vegetables and protein, nuts, beans, whole grains, and poultry. Eat packaged foods sparingly.
- Sleep well. Recovery is equally important for improved functioning of body and brain.
- Be a part of a community. Going out for walks with a group or part of a Zumba class not only keeps you motivated, it also helps in building social bonding, which goes a long way in stress management.
It is possible to reverse decline and stay healthy from any age. So start now.
100 day challenge
Countdown begins to the completion of 2nd 100 Day Challenge. We are stepping into the last week and exciting wildcard challenges are lined up ahead, which can be game changers and true test of how genuinely disciplined the participants have been.
The admins have tirelessly approved nearly 30, 000 activities logged in by the participants. The Wildcard challenges have not only been great fun but also have worked as benchmark for the participant to test their own progresses in many ways. It was exciting to see heightened activities in certain wildcard challenges which have been great point earning opportunities for some. Participation was naturally much higher for wildcard challenges like Flexibility, Plank, Flamingo Balance, Women’s Day and Earth Day special challenges but the recent push up challenge had many rejections due to improper form. I strongly recommend everyone to be mindful of your form while doing any exercise or strength training.
What’s been really commendable that nearly 200 participants maintained a step count average of 10,000 a day for the month of March, a higher number than combined of those who did daily average of 4, 000 and 7, 000 steps. I am sure each one of them is experiencing the difference it has made.
Stay tuned for more on the 100 Day Challenge in next two issues – the grand finale challenge, much awaited final lists of top 50 and many transformation stories.
Good Vibes Space
Last evening, we had the second Good Vibes Space on Strength Training and Body Transformation with Coach Nachiketh Shetty and his mentee Vivek Gupta. If you missed to hear it live, you can find the recording here.
The next Good Vibes Space will be all about Skin Care with Dr. Divya Sharma, Cosmetic Dermatologist and Hair Specialist, on Saturday, May 7 at 5pm. Save the date!
Quote of the week
“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” :
Our life’s discontent is evident in our excess possessions. Why else would we continue to purchase and accumulate physical possessions that we do not need unless trying to satisfy some level of discontent in our lives believing that next purchase will bring more happiness, comfort, or luxury to our lives? Contentment is the only real wealth.
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