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Thursday, 4 April 2013

3 Ways To Get Smarter

And boost your happiness while you’re at it.

By Mandy Oaklander, Prevention editor


Signs you’re easily distracted: You know all the keyboard shortcuts for switching tabs. Starting a to-do list is on your mental to-do list. You can’t seem to—oh, look! A new e-mail!

See? We’re right there with you. But a new study published in Psychological Science found that you don’t have to resign yourself to cognitive craziness. Practicing mindfulness makes you a lot less distracted—and might actually make you smarter.

Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara rounded up 48 undergraduate students and administered a reading comprehension test from the GRE standardized exam. They then enrolled half the students in a two-week-long mindfulness class and half in a nutrition class. Four times a week, students either learned mindfulness techniques, like meditation and breath awareness, or the fundamentals of nutrition science. Finally, every student was re-tested on the GRE.

The results? The mindfulness group showed the most improved brainpower. In fact, they outperformed the nutrition group by an average of 16 percentile points and reported significantly less mind wandering. 

Even if you’re not a college kid, mindfulness training will still sharpen your noggin, says mindfulness expert Dawa Tarchin Phillips, one of the study’s authors and a former Buddhist monk. “The exercise is to learn how to let the mind be as natural as possible without letting it become distracted,” Phillips explains. “The way that’s done is through understanding properly how thought arrives—when you can observe thoughts come and go, you are less obliged to follow them.” 

To become an awareness all-star takes time and practice, but Phillips has a few tips on instantly becoming more mindful. Here’s how: 

1. Breathe. When the mind is concerned, the breath is never far behind. “Placing your attention on your natural breathing and counting 10 in-and-out breaths over and over again for several minutes can help calm the mind and restore balance,” Phillips says. Every time you become distracted, simply return your focus to your natural breathing. 

2. Be present. During conversation, give your partner your undivided attention, Phillips said. “It changes the communication once the other person realizes you’re actually fully present,” he says. 

3. Eat mindfully. Here’s some food for thought: When you focus on the food you’re eating, you’ll recognize you’re full much earlier, Phillips said. Experience how taste unfolds in your mouth, and heed the mental associations and imagery that accompanies food. “What develops is appreciation for the variation of mindfulness in ordinary experience,” he says.

Source: Prevention

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

5 Fresh, Pretty Ways To Wear Long Braids

By BellaSugar editors


This season, there's a new crop of tousled, stylish braids that are worlds away from the more stylized milkmaid styles we saw so much of last year. Instead, braids of late are long, undone, and incredibly romantic. See which style will bring out the storybook heroine in you.

1. Uneven Steven


Selita Ebanks shows off a clever way to make asymmetrical or layered cuts look smooth and polished when braided. In lieu of creating a single-length braid down your back, go from both sides and then braid together at the ends.

2. Neat and Thick


If you have lots of hair, Nicole Kidman's smooth, chunky braid is a simple but lovely look. To get the look, prep the hair with a curl-enhaning product to get those perfectly imperfect waves.

3. Princess Style


If you have fine hair or thin ends, follow Natalia Vodianova's Princess Bride style and braid a ribbon or scarf into the length of your hair. It's beautiful and attention-grabbing, and it will also help to add volume to your braid.

4. Just a Little Bit


If you have long hair but don't want to braid it all (or simply don't have the time), try chunky center-parted French braids like Jessica Alba. They're fast and easy, messy enough to look modern, and will work on any hair thickness.

5. She's Come Undone


Blake Lively's braid at the Green Lantern premiere was intentionally deconstructed. It would make a great morning-after hairstyle, and would also be appropriate for those times when you haven't washed your hair for a couple days.

Source: BellaSugar

5 Ways To Love Lights-On Sex

By Keely Savoie, Prevention editor


We’ve all been there. You’re gearing up for an afternoon delight, but with the lights on and the sun shining, you find your mind racing instead of your heart. If sex has you worried about why your (insert body part here) looks so (insert unkind self-criticism here), you’ve got a lot of company, finds a recent study.

Researchers questioned men and women in long-term relationships about whether they get distracted by their own body parts during sex. Participants were also asked how they thought their partners viewed their bodies. No big shocker here: Both men and women were distracted by negative thoughts about their own bodies, with women frequently citing their breasts and bellies. What is surprising—and let’s be real, pretty sad—is that women’s sexual satisfaction was also inhibited by worry about what her partner thinks about her body.

“Focusing your attention on negative feelings about your body diminishes your ability to enjoy sex,” says lead study author Patricia Pascoal, a sex therapist and PhD candidate at the University of Lisbon. In other words, while you’re busy sucking in your tummy, you’re missing out on an opportunity to connect with your partner. It’s also important to remember that just because you think your partner is critical of your body doesn’t mean he is, she says. “Communication is key.”

“At any age and with whatever body you have, you have the potential for pleasure as long as you open yourself to that,” says Debby Herbenick, PhD, research scientist at Indiana University and author of Sex Made Easy.


Here, five ways to get out of your own head, and into the sack—even with the lights on.

1. Give yourself a reality check. 

Even Cindy Crawford famously said she wished she looked like the Cindy Crawford on magazine covers. “We are surrounded by images that are not real women,” says Herbenick. “If you catch yourself thinking ‘I wish I looked like that,’ remind yourself that she doesn’t look like that either.”

2. Do some sweat prep. 

“Thin isn’t everyone’s ideal,” says Herbenick. “A lot of people feel attractive when they’re flexible enough to get in a certain position or when they feel strong or fit.” Exercise to feel good—whatever that means to you—and you’ll feel better about how you look in any situation.

3. Put matter over mind. 

“Remember that the mind is the biggest sex organ,” says Herbenick. “When your mind strays, focusing on how your partner’s hair smells or how the sheets feel against your skin can help keep your mind in the present moment.” Keeping yourself in the moment also has the happy benefit of enhancing arousal and making orgasm easier, says Herbenick.

4. Set the scene.

You wouldn’t throw a dinner party without setting the table, so do whatever it takes for you to feel a little sexier. Even the sight of a neatly made bed—with the pillows actually on the bed and not heaped on the floor next to it—can do wonders. And don’t forget candlelight. A little clich├ęd, perhaps, but having candlelight in your boudoir will cast a sexy—and flattering—glow, says Herbenick.

5. Dress the part. 

Batman’s not so brave without his bat suit, so take a page from the caped crusader and arm yourself with some gorgeous undergarments. “Wearing lingerie can make women feel super-sexy and help overcome worries about perceived body flaws,” says Herbenick. There’s nothing like a little lace to give a gal some gusto.

Source: Prevention

Financial Tips For Stay-At-Home Moms

By Melissa Chapman, SheKnows editor

If you're a stay-at-home mom, anxious about your financial future and fearful that your spouse's once hefty paycheck may at some point significantly decrease, check out these sound financial tips to help you keep your family's finances on track in spite of the rocky economy.


As the American economy continues to nosedive on a daily basis and unemployment numbers increasingly rise, many stay-at-home moms are succumbing to the pressure to reign in their family's spending habits and get the biggest bang for their buck.

1. PLAN FOR A PINK SLIP - EVEN IF YOU'RE SURE YOUR SPOUSE WON'T GET ONE

According to Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, a personal finance expert and the author of Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom, while your family may currently be able to get by on just your spouse's income, you must think about how you would fare if he lost his job. Avoid potential money battles by establishing a budget together, eliminating debt, and building up an emergency cash cushion. You'll never regret being prepared for a "worst case" scenario.

2. OPEN AT LEAST ONE CREDIT CARD IN YOUR OWN NAME

Ms. Khalfani-Cox notes that many stay-at-home moms make the mistake of allowing all the family's credit to be held solely in their husband's name. It's best for their personal credit rating, in the event of divorce and/or a spouse's death to have one credit card in their own name.

3. GET A LIFE INSURANCE POLICY ON YOURSELF

Stay-at-home moms need life insurance because if something should happen to them the cost of replacing all the services they provide for their kids would be enormous. Ms. Khalfani-Cox says according to Salary.com, if the typical American stay-at-home mom got paid she'd earn more than $116,000 a year for her work! This means that if she were to die, a life insurance policy would help pay for services, like child care so that their kids aren't short-changed.


4. HAVE FUN FOR FREE

Stay-at-home moms can research ways to have fun without spending too much money, says Leslie Truex author of The Work-At-Home Success Bible. These include taking their kids to parks, museums and libraries, which in addition to books, offer videos and electronic games too.

5. BUY USED AND BARTER

It's easier than ever to buy and barter quality used items through resources like Freecycle and Craigslist. Leslie Truex author of The Work-At-Home Success Bible reports that local consignment shops are also a great resource for stay-at-home moms where they can shop for gently used items. This will not only help save money, but it will also put money back into their local community.

6. DEVELOP A PART-TIME INCOME FROM HOME

According to Cristin Frank Frankhaus, LLC, co-owner of CarryCargot.com, stay-at-home moms can use their talents and skills to find freelance work or start a home business. If they're crafty they can check out Etsy, an online marketplace for selling and buying all things handmade. If they've got trade skills such as copy writing, proofreading, research and design, they can contact local businesses and schools to see if they need help.

7. CASH-ONLY GROCERY SHOPPING

Always take a list and cash allotment for a shopping trip advises Kelley Scarsbrook AKA, The Stay at Home Mother. Cash allows stay-at-home moms to monitor their spending a lot closer as it isn't something abstract (like a debit card or credit card) and helps them become a lot more aware of what is passing through their fingers. Whenever possible buy in bulk, and use coupons.

Source: SheKnows

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Top 8 Signs You Are Pregnant

By Naomi de la Torre, SheKnows editor

Wondering if you might be pregnant? Early signs of pregnancy vary, but there are a few that most women experience - usually before the pregnancy test is positive. We rounded up the eight most common signs to help you answer the question.


1. Sore breasts

Are the girls feeling swollen and sore? Are they getting more attention than usual? Better bust out the pee stick — you may be pregnant.

Sore breasts are often one of the first signs of pregnancy. Hormonal changes cause an increase in blood flow as the breast tissue changes and prepares for breastfeeding. As early as four to six weeks into your pregnancy, your breasts may begin to feel tingly and tender. Make sure you get a comfy and supportive bra because over the next few months — those bad boys may just grow a size or two. You will most likely feel less tender after the first trimester passes, as your body adjusts to the wave of hormones.

2. Morning sickness

Anyone who has experienced "morning sickness" knows that it is not restricted to the morning at all, but can strike at any time of the day (or night). It is not uncommon to suddenly be nauseated by certain smells or tastes, especially when you are newly pregnant. Morning sickness is not a given, and a lucky few never experience nausea at all while pregnant.

Caused by the dramatic increase in hormones during the first trimester of pregnancy, some women stop feeling nauseous around 12 weeks. Others, however, continue to feel nauseated throughout their entire pregnancy. If this happens to you, consult with your physician about medications to help control the nausea so that you don't become dehydrated or lose too much weight.

3. Fatigue

Have you been incredibly tired lately — so tired you feel it in your bones? Fatigue is a common first sign of pregnancy. Many women describe early-pregnancy fatigue as the most extremely tired feeling they have ever experienced. It isn't known for certain what causes the extreme fatigue, but it could be related to increased progesterone levels.

Exhaustion is typically worst during the first trimester of pregnancy. You may feel revived and more energetic during your second trimester, but find your fatigue returning as you near the end of your third trimester. You will want to nap as much as possible now because after the baby arrives, you may never nap again. Or at least not for the next 18 years.

4. Hunger

Strangely enough, nausea and hunger often go hand-in-hand during pregnancy. During the time when you aren't feeling nauseous over the smell of certain foods, you are probably eating your weight in some food item that you've become obsessed with over the last few weeks — like barbecue potato chips, mint-chip ice cream or the traditional pickles.

While it is OK to give in to some of your pregnancy cravings, make sure that you don't go overboard and decide to live on pita chips and grapes for the next nine months just because they are the only thing that doesn't make your stomach flip. Try to follow a balanced diet and stay away from any foods that are unsafe for pregnant women.

5. Frequent urination

Have you been spending more time in the restroom than in any other room of your house? When you are newly pregnant, you may find yourself visiting a restroom more often. Get used to it — as your uterus expands and pushes on your bladder, fluids in your body increase and cause the kidneys to work overtime. As your baby grows, expect some tiny limbs to put a bit of pressure on your bladder too, which doesn't help.

6. Moodiness

Moody much? Did you just threaten to divorce your husband because he wanted to watch Deadliest Catch while you wanted to watch The Bachelorette? Don't worry. Moodiness is completely normal during pregnancy thanks to the dramatic hormonal shifts your body is undergoing. Each woman experiences these hormonal changes differently. You may feel extreme mood shifts in either direction, or be more anxious or depressed.

It is important to note that if you feel overwhelmingly hopeless or unable to perform daily duties, you should seek professional help from your healthcare provider or mental health professional immediately.


7. Missed period

A missed menstrual cycle is usually a good indication that you might be pregnant, but it can also be deceiving. Some women do not menstruate regularly, or may not keep accurate track of when they last menstruated. If your periods are irregular or vary between spotting and heavy flow, you may experience other early signs of pregnancy well before you realize you have missed a period.

Some women experience a bit of spotting during implantation, which occurs very close to the time that your regular menstrual period would have occurred. If you think you might be pregnant, make sure to take a pregnancy test just to be safe before engaging in any activities that would be dangerous for your baby.

8. Pregnancy test

Your tender breasts and nausea may already have you convinced that you are pregnant, but make sure to visit your obstetrician or midwife for a pregnancy test. Home pregnancy tests — despite what they claim — are not always accurately able to confirm pregnancy before you have missed your period. If you take an early home test and it comes back negative, try again a week later. It is always important to get your pregnancy confirmed by a medical professional and begin monitoring that brand new bundle of joy.

Source: SheKnows