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Fairness scream: The new male obsession"Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?" The words at once evoke images of the evil queen as she strikes a vain pose at the looking glass. However, these days one needs to be more accommodating and make way for a preening gent to put forth the above query. All these days, fairness would be a quality an Indian male would look for in his wife. Just see the Fair & Lovely ads to know what we mean. But today, this very obsession has turned on itself. More and more men are being just as exacting about their own skin color, complexion and tone as their female counterparts. Just take a look at all those TV commercials where celebrity endorsements dangle the bait of fairness creams, lotions and body wash specially designed for teenagers and young men seeking to take them to the promised land of social and sexual success. But before you rush to buy that cream, here's what that fairness is all about Fairness is skin cell deep Fair, ruddy, dark or wheatish is all determined primarily by the melanin content in our skin cells. Some races like the Africans have a high melanin content thereby giving them a dark colour while Europeans are of a lighter skin colour due to low melanin content. So whether you use an expensive fairness cream or go in for beauty treatments at luxurious beauty spas, genetics will have a final say on the matter. How fairness creams work...or do they? Fairness creams contain chemicals which block the production of melanin in the skin and thus enable a lighter skin tone and a fairer complexion. Mostly melanin production in men is more than females, which is why women's fairness creams don't have so much of an effect on men. The cosmetic industry recognized this factor and thus developed products designed for the male skin. However, some of these "men's only" fairness brands are glorified sunblock creams which block the harmful ultra violet radiation of the sun which blackens the skin. The dark side of fair Some of the beauty treatments and fairness creams contain chemicals like hydroquinone, mercury, and even steroids, which could do more harm than good. If you are obsessed about fairness, the least you could do is use a branded product (though that is no guarantee of its efficacy!). First sample it to check of it suits your skin. If a rash breaks out, consult a skin specialist immediately. Finally, it is the health of the skin which is more important than colour. So exercise regularly or use natural skin treatments like orange peels, cucumber patches to enhance your skin tone. Don't give in to peer pressure. The obsession for fairness can lead to low self-esteem and needless rivalry. Cosmetologists and marketers of fairness products are the only ones who will laugh their way to the bank at your cost. So, if you have a darker skin colour you don't have to go in for expensive remedies just because men in your age group find it cool. Self-acceptance is much better remedy than any beauty treatment in the world.  
Ways to look handsome!One disclaimer before reading "Looking good is not age/weight/family specific." Now we can start off with understanding what does handsome means. Does it mean wearing good clothes? Or having a good face? Or having a good body? What is it actually? Well, a simple definition could be "being handsome means being confident and having loads of style and poise." It's not dependent on somebody's face or body specifically. So what makes a person handsome? Will his attitude count? Do we need a lot of money to get that look? Let's answer all such questions in the article. Personal care: The first and the foremost cornerstone for getting a perfect look is to look after yourself well. This includes- Hygiene - Personal hygiene is most important. Dental hygiene, managing body odor, cutting your nails on time, removing hair in the underarms, nose, and taking care of overall body hygiene is of utmost importance.Skin care - Taking care of one's skin is no more a girly thing now; men need to do the same as well. Applying moisturizers, lotions that are readily available, tailor-made for men.Hair care - Men do not need to spend a lot of time managing their hair as women do, but that doesn't mean they can get all complacent about them. Try and wash and shampoo your hair at least twice in a week. You could use natural or artificial conditioners in the hair to make it soft. Get a trim every month or else they can become too long to manage. The suave and debonair look, along with the above indicated personal care methods; one important pointer is to take care of one's facial hair. Agreed that the rough and rugged look is good with some clothes and skin colors, but try and avoid it as 'a regular' and get a good shave. You can either keep a clean shaven look or keep a beard which is well trimmed. This will give you an urbane and classy look. Clothes cabana - An important factor for your looks is your clothes as well. One needs to understand that there are particular kinds of clothes which shall look good on them and there is a section which they should never try. Once you understand this thin line, you can do wonders with your clothes. Try to understand which shades look good on you. The bright colors or pastel shades. After this, you need to choose your formal and casual wears as well. Try and understand what kind of clothes make you look good and what are the options you can always try. The must have checklist is given below - A pair of good dark blue jeans. A white shirt. A colored T-shirt. Jacket and waist coat. Dinner jacket or tuxedo (whichever suits you). Pair of black trousers. Sweatshirts. A full pastel shade sweater. Accessorize your look - Along with good clothes you need a few more embellishments:Shoes - Get two different pairs - one leather and the other sports for formal and informal occasions. The shoes should be buffed with shoe wax regularly and you can wash off the dirt on your sports shoes once every couple of weeks.Belts and Tie - A good and well-fitting tie and a sober choice in belts always adds to the look of the "complete man."Watches - A good analog watch is a "must have" on every guy's wrist for that added attraction. Work out regimens - Now workout does not only mean joining a gym or keeping a personal trainer. You need to just keep your body fit, which can be done by jogging, yoga, or even a morning and evening walk. Try to be active, which in turn will help you stay in shape. You can even pick up a sport for that matter. When your body is fit, you will have a relaxed mind and soul too. Eat healthy - Having a hamburger everyday will make you only lethargic and fat and certainly far from handsome. Try to follow a diet regimen which nowhere means you need to have nightmarish boiled vegetables only. You just need to avoid eating outside which means no junk or oily food. This shall not only help you look good, but will let you be young and fit. Try to have more leafy vegetables and fish in your daily diet rather than red meat and spices. Once in a week you can dig into your favorite foods and pig out. Say no to cigarettes and alcohol - Working out or eating healthy and getting the best clothes and accessories will never help you get in good shape until you say no to all the habits which shall prove deadly for you in the future. Try and quit smoking and drinking as they affect your health and stamina in the most adverse ways possible. Along with that they also have a very bad effect on your mental health as they become an addiction and hamper your concentration and thinking abilities as well. Million dollar smile - Wearing good clothes do not have a prerequisite of behaving like a supermodel anywhere. Try to wear a good and sweet smile which shall give you a nice and attractive look at the same time. A straight face might end up making you look unapproachable and arrogant, so remember smiling always to complete your attire and style. Good stance - Wearing all the best outfits and looking a million bucks might go all in vain if you have a bad body posture. Try and walk and sit straight. Having an erect stance always makes you look more confident, attractive, and masculine, so always have that poise in your posture which shall make you look awesome. Wear your confidence and attitude - Last but not the least is this most important pointer and that is - be comfortable and confident with whatever you wear and however you look. Being confident makes you win half your battle, always. So, have that debonair attitude and head to the floor, you will always be the head turner of the show. So what are you waiting for? Start your preparations, as being handsome does not require any occasion!        
Hairy tale: Hirsutism in womenThe condition is called Hirsutism where women grow coarse hair just like males on the face, chest or elsewhere. The primary cause for Hirsutism is hormonal imbalances by the over stimulation or excess production of male hormones (present in minute quantities in females too). The thickness of hair that grows largely depends on our genes and at times Hirsutism in women may be just a hereditary trait rather than an imbalance. Self care and medication can take of it in such a case. Idiopathic Hirsutism is a type of this condition where there is no possible cause for the male type hair growth. These women have regular menstrual cycles and no Androgen excesses, yet they have Hisrutism. Hirsutism with excessive bodily and facial hair, usually in a male pattern, in women may be present in normal adults as an expression of an ethnic characteristic or may develop in children or adults as the result of androgen excess due to tumors, or of non-androgenetic or other drugs. Hirsutism can make its appearance at menopause or soon after as there are a lot of hormonal changes that occur in the female body, and in certain cases women grow hair even on the lip, nipples, abdomen and upper shoulders. And just as men go bald there can also be a receding hairline and baldness in women accompanied by a deepening of the voice and enlargement of the clitoris. If the hair growth occurs at puberty then a doctor's evaluation is most essential as it could be more than just Hirsutism.
Leg toning exercises for womenFor those women who will leave 'no stone unturned', here are a few great exercises which work superbly on the legs and whole body. For those who have always wanted a great pair of legs, don't change your jeans brand. Just change your brand of exercise. Here are great leg toning exercises that can make your legs attention grabbers. Well-shaped legs are what every woman desires especially as it signifies 'movement', 'mobility' and 'strength'. When we say legs we mainly mean the thighs, the calves and the feet. To get more precise the quadriceps of the thighs the hamstrings and the hip adductors are the prime targets of most exercises. A complete leg work out would also include the 'Tibialis Anteriors' or the shin muscles. Exercising the legs can be quite a frustrating thing especially if the leg muscles don't show any cosmetic improvement. Here is an exercise regimen which will ensure that you will get those attention-grabbing legs along with the strength, flexibility and tone which you have always desired. The stand This is probably the most undermined exercise of them all since it doesn't involve lugging heavy weights around or running for miles or squatting! It is a foundation exercise for the legs.  Choose your favorite spot on the floor and just stand erect with both feet together and toes pointing forward. Hold the hands straight at the elbows and keep the shoulders square. Tuck the chin in and do not bend your knees. Feel the ground under the feet. Now flex your thigh muscles and keep your feet firmly on the ground. Direct your attention towards the back of your thighs and keep your knees taut. Stand firm for about 3-5 minutes initially and gradually extend to five minutes or more. This exercise is simpler than it actually is as it keeps the thighs taut and firm. The entire leg gets a marvelous stretch and any faulty standing or postural habits create unnecessary tension and uneven hip alignment. The standing pose will be your first step towards trim and well-sculpted legs. The One Leg Extension After you perfect the stand, here is another great leg exerciser - The one leg extension Perform a stand as in the previous exercise for about 30 seconds. Once you get your grounding and feel your foundations beneath the feet, take a deep breath. Now flex your thigh muscles and keep the kneecaps taut without feeling any strain. Bend the left leg at the knee and raise it without bending at the right leg. Now catch hold of the big toe with the left hand and hold the pose for a few breaths. You will initially struggle for balance as you have to keep the other leg straight. Now that you have caught the big toe of the flexed leg gradually straighten the leg out without letting go of your grip. This is a challenging pose especially for the hamstrings, the hip flexors and the calves since the leg muscles are going to be a little tight especially around the hips and the hamstrings. With regular practice, the pain will ease and then you can even try and take the toe towards as high as you can with the aid of your left hand. Repeat with other leg following the same sequence. One Legged Squat The one legged squat is a superior exercise to the two legged variety is that it doesn't require many repetitions as it is quite a strenuous exercise even for advanced exercisers. Stand with the back of a chair within easy reach initially. Extend the right leg out first and squat down to your heel with your left. Once you have reached the end of the squat try not to touch extended leg as there comes the difficult part - getting up to standing position without touching the floor with your hands for support. Raise yourself to standing position and repeat with other leg. You can do about 3-4 sets with the same leg or alternate legs using the back of a chair for hand support as you squat deeply. The single legged squat exercises the gluteus, the knees and the entire hip joint and also gives lower back strength. Initially your knees might hurt so don't try this without support of a chair or a partner. Stop in case of intense pain. Step Training If plain jogging doesn't do the trick for shapely legs for you, try using stadium stairs or any gradient which is at 30 degrees and comprises even steps. Your regular apartment stairwell or even a pedestrian over bridge can do the trick. First set only walk up one step at a time. Second set do alternate stairs. For the third set you can sprint up as fast as you can the entire flight of stairs or halt for exactly ten seconds when tired and start again. You have the option of stopping as many times you wish as long as you start again after ten seconds. This can work up quite a sweat and regular step training works out and touches muscle groups that even normal running or squats cannot reach.
Are you there for your teenage children?You must be there for your adolescent children so that they know who to turn to when they are confused. Being there does not necessarily mean your physical presence, but even the rules, boundaries, and standards of behavior you might have set should be able to guide them. When the teenager comes under peer pressure, then these rules may help them make the right choices. Teenagers live in fear They are frightened of their teachers, their friends; they are frightened of being mocked at or not being able to cope. They are dealing with a lot of issues, so when they come home, show them you care. They don't need parents screaming and shouting at them about their conduct or studies. The moment they come in, you should greet them with a smile, no matter what your feelings are otherwise. Don't expect your teenage children to be adults because they are still growing. Family is always important Most people think that teenagers no longer need the love, warmth, and support of the family. Your child might be a teenager,not a child to hold hands and show them the way, but they do need your support. A family works like an anchor that can pull back a teenager from being drifted away. Engage them.Speak to them regarding their likes and dislikes, the pressures they feel at studies, among other things. This could help them from the intense emotional turmoil they may be going through. Equation changes As a child you could cuddle your children, scold them, nurture and guide them, but as teenagers the equation might change. You may not cuddle your teenage child, but a warm hug now and then or a pat on the shoulder is enough to let them know that you love them just the same. Listen to them when they share an opinion. They want to prove themselves so follow their advice if it's reasonable so they feel they are an important part of the family and their opinions do matter. Don't treat your teenage children with suspicion.It will drive them away!! Moody If your teenage child is moody and uncommunicative, it does not mean that they don't need their family. It's just that friends might have taken precedence in their lives. Just the feeling that they have your support may encourage them to take their independent decisions. Information It is important to inform your teenage child regarding alcohol, drugs, and sex. However, you must also know they could experiment. So tell them about the dangers, and if they still make a mistake, then be there and do not abandon them. Help them get through the crisis. Teenage behavior Sometimes teenagers can behave erratically. It could be difficult to know if this is teenage moodiness or something more serious. As a parent you need to watch out for this and find out indirectly about what is troubling them. They might not open up immediately, but if you are around when they feel like chatting, they could let you know what is troubling them.
Teach your kid to stand up to bulliesAlmost everyone has heard of the beach bully who goes around kicking sand in the face of the skinny lad. That's the quintessential imagery associated with bullies and it has stayed with us for over 3 decades since the first ads came out. The ads generally endorsed body building products using the classic 'Before' and 'After' construct, i.e. before you got your face sandblasted by the beach bully and after you took that protein shake or muscle builder to get even. Bullying is a phenomenon where a person or group wilfully targets someone with the intention of troubling them over a specific thing. (Bullies generally pick on someone they perceive as physically, mentally, financially, socially or racially inferior.) There is no age-limit for bullies as the bully could be a school going kid with an attitude problem or a fully grown adult, who could indulge in it from sheer force of habit or due to a mental problem. Again there is no age limit for the victim as well. Anybody could really be a target for the bully menace, right from school children, teenagers, disabled or even old people. Well bullying has changed considerably in these times and you also have the e-bully version where insecure bullies go about harassing people, especially teenagers over the internet. Bullies resort to tactics like causing public humiliation or embarrassment to hapless victims or resort to threats or other control-based abusive behaviour. Ok so everyone has undergone bullying from time to time but the question is should you allow it to happen to your teenaged son or daughter? Mind you, here it isn't simply a question of some leg pulling by friends or teachers but some serious malice that could well destroy your teenager's confidence and cause permanent scars on his self-esteem. Yes, if your teenager is being subjected to bullying then teach him how to kick the sand right back in the bully's face. Before we learn how to do that let's see the types of bullying that your kid could be subjected to: Verbal bullying This includes teasing or making caustic remarks directed at someone on a regular basis. The school bully does that, doesn't he? As you would probably remember from your own school days that fat lout who made you quiver with fright as he snatched your lunch box away to feed the dogs. Yes, the very same guy who pulled your sister's pig-tails and called you names which made you go red in the face. You could do nothing but pray he wouldn't notice you somehow. Well so something similar could be happening with your teenager. Verbal bullying need not be done by a school friend. Even a responsible teacher could target someone for deprecatory remarks causing much embarrassment, ridicule andfeelings of inadequacy to a teenager. Sometimes kids look up to their teachers for encouragement and support and those very people could actually damage a child's self-esteem by unjustified criticism and bullying behaviour.Teenage girls could suffer taunts and remarks about certain physical traits and since they are at a delicate age where their bodies are undergoing changes, such verbal abuse can indeed cause long-term depression or personality issues. Physical bullying Physical bullying is where your teenager could be subjected to physical harassment at the hands of the bully. Whether it is a simple case of holding your teenager's hand or unprovoked physical assault, the end result is the same-injuries to the body and mind. The bully may not go as far as inflict any visible scars on the teenager's body but the episodes could certainly cause great fear and trauma to him. Even teenage girls are not spared physical abuse at the hands of bullies. In certain cases, teens suffering from long-term bullying actually took some extreme measures by committing suicide or breaking down completely. Internet bullying Internet bullying is where your teenager is probably most vulnerable. At least school bullying is restricted to school, but here your teenager is at the mercy of just about everyone - from the school bully to the earnest paedophile! Causing embarrassment on public forums, threats of physical or sexual harm is the most common and as a parent you have to take every step possible to not just protect your child but also help him take care of himself or herself. The bully menace The school bully is comparatively easier to deal with than the internet lout! Well, one can't be too sure of that statement either since these days,school kids are known to blow up their own classmates or participate in a heist with adult precision. Always watch out for the classic signs of bullying. If your child appears withdrawn or disturbed after school hours then gently probe and encourage your child to tell it all. If you feel there is enough reason to think your child is being subject to bullying then bring it to the notice of the school immediately as others could have similar complaints. Do not admonish your child or scold him as it could cause him to withdraw in to the shell that the bully provided him in the first place. Parents and elder siblings can be bullies too so remember that. Teach your child to stand up to bullies. The bully is generally an insecure person who uses brute force to feel good about himself, at the cost of others. The school bully generally has his way and is not used to being challenged. Teach your child to look the bully in the eye and register protest. This will go a long way in teaching your child how to fight back and not take any nonsense from others.If the situation worsens, then always keep a track of your teenager's whereabouts especially if it is a girl. Once the bully realizes that he is being tracked he generally lies low or picks on someone else. Internet bullying requires different measures. You can monitor your child's online activities and teach them to never ever share any personal information or photographs online or on forums which are off-limits for children and adolescents. You can complain to the authorities if things get out of hand. If someone repeatedly issues threats to your teenager, either online or in real life, is a cause for real concern and one must take them seriously. If your child does not learn to cope with bullies it could affect him well in to adulthood, where he will feel helpless and easily scared by imposing people or even develop a hatred for authority figures. Bullying can fuel an already weak personality in to gaining an inferiority complex; the flip side is that kids who have been subjected to bullying can repeat the same patterns on their younger siblings or at school. So a bully creates another bully if continued unchecked. Mental problems in children are on the rise, so bullying is also no longer an innocent joke but could be a serious crime. Bullies whether children or grown-ups, suffer from some personality disorder or a serious inferiority complex which makes them compulsive trouble makers and their victims are generally people who cannot hit back or are vulnerable. Take Hitler for instance. Wasn't he just a bully who was unhappy in his own life? Look what he did to millions of innocent people. Wasn't that a bully gone berserk?  
Mood disordersMood disorder is a category of mental health problems, and it includes all types of depression and bipolar disorder. The cause of mood disorder is not well known. Endorphins in brain are responsible for positive moods. The neurotransmitters regulate endorphins. Depression and other mood disorders are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Life events such as unwanted changes in life may also contribute to a depressed mood. Mood disorders are inherited. Children, adolescents, or adults who have a parent with a mood disorder have a greater chance of also having a mood disorder. Symptoms: Prolonged feeling of sadness Helpless feeling Low self-esteem Intense guilt Suicidal thoughts Loss of interest in daily activities Difficulty with relationships Disturbed sleep Change in appetite or weight Low energy Inability in concentrating Inability to make decisions Frequent physical complaints (i.e., headache, stomach ache, fatigue) Threats of running away from home Hypersensitivity to failure or rejection Irritability Aggressive behaviour Hostility In mood disorders, these feelings appear more intense than what a person may normally feel from time to time. Treatment Psychotherapy: It is focused on changing the individual's distorted views of themselves and the environment around them, working through difficult relationships, and identifying stress triggers in their environment and how to avoid them. Family therapy: Families play a vital supportive role in any treatment process. Antidepressant medications: Medications in combination with psychotherapy has shown to be very effective in the treatment of depression.
Be positive. Here's howAs someone so very rightly said, "We are the sum total of our thoughts". So the more positive thoughts you have, or are capable of thinking, the more positive will be the outcome of your life journey. Here are a few tips to think more positively and empower yourself: Have a daily positive thinking routine. Generally the time when you are just waking up, i.e., the half awake state, is best for you to start feeding positive thoughts about yourself. The mind is more accepting of suggestion at that time. You can just feed your brain with happy and positive thoughts about your situation and what you hope to achieve for yourself and your family. Creative positive visualization is another great method of positive thinking. At a set time, just picture your life in the way you want it to go. This is different from daydreaming. Creative visualization gears you up for action while daydreaming remains just wishful thinking. If you have difficulty in certain areas of your life, say at work or with your relationship, visualize a positive outcome. This will engage your mind in thinking of various action plans to get about that positive result. Positive affirmations are a great way of reminding yourself that all is well. Have patience with yourself as your mind will probably not even believe half the things that you are affirming. That's what affirmations are all about.They are statements that you feed your mind about what you are and what you can achieve. Positive affirmations can help you reprogram your mind to what your heart really desires. Let go. Feel that delicious sense of surrender as you just indulge in mentally letting go of things. As a busy person you probably end up trying to control the outcomes of every situation and feel bad when things don't go the way you expect them to. Remember things can go wrong from time to time. Like you, life is also not perfect, so why expect perfection from others? Learn to let go of that emotional baggage that you are carrying. The weight of the world needn't rest on your shoulders. Collective consciousness is where you should try to tap into. Think of situations where things can go horribly wrong for someone else. Send out a silent prayer for those unfortunate people in this world. Chances are that your prayers just might help some stranger badly in need of a prayer or two. This can only come back to you manifold. Help someone else become a positive person. This can only reaffirm your faith in positive thinking. Positive energy is what everyone naturally seeks and we can for sometime blame our friends or family for being a negative influence on our lives. This line of thinking will get you nowhere. Instead think what's the next best option? Think of how you can convert negative energy or experiences into positive ones. Initially you might meet with resistance, but remember if you are positive then positivity is yours for keeps.
How to say 'Bye' to split ends? Check out these 10 tips!One of the main reasons for split ends is the use of curling irons and other heat-induced styling treatments. When you go for hair products like hair colors or perms, the shield over your hair's shaft that protects it can get stripped off, thus making your hair liable to split ends. You could also be mechanically stressing your hair by pulling them too much while combing or combing repeatedly. Remember that rubbing your hair up towards the direction of the scalp does not lead to split ends. While there is no remedy to treat split ends, there are ways in which you can keep them away. Did you know that a medical research showed that the only way to keep split ends away is to put a stop on the excessive use of chemical on it? Hairdresser, Holly Kensen, says that split ends are the results of pushing out the natural process and pulling in too many chemicals. It is best to stay away from the styling products and embrace your natural hair! TIP 1 : Get hold of a piece of rosemary (fresh ones are the best!) and immerse them in a cup of hot water for 30 minutes. Once the temperature of the water is back to normal, whisk an egg into it. Mix this blend onto your hair. Rinse after 15 minutes using a light shampoo. TIP 2 : Bring home a ripe papaya and cut it into halves. Choose the part which you believe will be sufficient for your hair. Take off the skin and seeds. Mash it until it becomes a paste. Then, drop a cup of yogurt and stir them into a smooth paste. Apply it on your hair and let it hold for about 30 minutes. Use cold water to rinse it off. TIP 3 : Condition your hair with castor oil. Mix equal amounts of castor, almond, and olive oil and apply it on your hair generously. Wrap your hair in a towel and let it stay for 30 minutes. Then, shampoo your hair. TIP 4 : After you have shampooed your hair, apply a mix of cream and milk on them for about 20 minutes. Focus especially on the ends. Rinse your hair with cold water. TIP 5 :If you decide to trim your hair on your own, then don't use the paper scissors! They are called 'paper' scissors for a reason. Get hold of hair shears which will not leave your ends damaged. TIP 6 : Trim your hair every six to eight weeks at least up to ¼ to 1 inch. Due to our environment, it is natural for the hair to get damaged in a few weeks. It is important to remove the split ends and let them grow healthy. TIP 7 : Do not trust products which say that they can 'cure' your split ends. Split ends are not curable. They are preventable. The only thing that these products do is to seal up the splits which only makes your hair unhealthy. TIP 8 : Try to stay away from chemicals as much as you can. Chemicals only tamper with your natural hair and ruin their texture. If you really have to use it then make sure you condition them regularly. TIP 9 : Use coconut oil to fix your split ends. Buy an extra-virgin and organic coconut oil. Before washing your hair, apply about 2 spoons of the oil on your dry hair. Emphasize on the hair ends. If you want, you can steam your hair for some time (about 20 minutes). Then, wash your hair with a light shampoo and condition them. TIP 10 :This is one of the best ways to help your split ends stay away: Get hold of chamomile tea and brew it on a pot. Then pre-rinse your hair with it. After you have rinsed them, wash and condition your hair normally.
Benefits of meditation: How daily meditation helps you lead a wholesome life Sharper memory: One of the most important cognitive capacities we use daily is our memory. With higher amount of stress on your brain and body due to demands at workplace and home, there is high probability of negative effect on your memory. This can be countered by mindfulness meditation where the focus of attention is a particular physical sensation. This lets you quiet your mind and learn to be attentive solely to the matter at hand, thus allowing your brain to be able to remember more sharply and quickly. Dealing with stress: Stress is the buzzword for anyone who is leading their life in busy cities. Starting from the hurried walk into the office to the pressure of meeting deadlines and reaching home exhausted only to find oneself engrossed in another set of tedious jobs is the condition of daily life for most people. Meditation will allow you to cope with stress in a stronger way by bringing the energies of your body under your control, thus giving you the power to channelize them effectively. Giving up painkillers: Recent medical studies, especially ones conducted in Montreal in 2010, showed how the practice of Zen meditation structures the brain in such a manner that its capacity to sense and deal with pain increases. Primarily practiced by Buddhist monks, Zen is the form of meditation where you focus on your breathing and posture while watching and letting your mind gradually turn quiet. In this way, you can put those pain killers away and increase your innate capacity to deal with pain. Happiness quotient: Prefrontal cortex is the part of brain concerned with positive emotions and feelings. Those who meditate have been seen to have greater activity in this area. Major journals and research institutions focusing on depression and role of meditation in reducing it have found that meditation helps the person to feel in control of their life by subtly changing the working of their brains and thus, resulting in greater capacity to cope with depression and negative feelings. Good for your heart: Two kinds of meditation which are greatly beneficial for smooth working of your heart are Zen and Transcendental meditation. Transcendental meditation, taking after its name, helps you to transcend your worries through attention on chanting. It has been found that meditating daily helps to reduce the chances of stroke and heart attacks by over 40%.
A fine spine - Common disorders of the spineThe spine is made up of small bones called vertebrae that are stacked one upon the other. When viewed from the side, the normal spine has gentle curves to it. Because the spine is a complex structure and happens to be at the center of all our activities, it is subjected to a lot of diseases. A common misconception of low backache is that you should rest. In fact, rest is not recommended at all. Keep up with light non-strenuous activities after the symptoms have subsided. Given here are a few common conditions of the spine: Loss of curvature: The spine, when seen sideways has gentle curves to it. The curves, when lost, can lead to pain and imperfect posture. Kyphosis and Scoliosis are the commonest form of spine curvature abnormalities.Kyphosis is the abnormal and excessive curving of the upper part of the spine. It is commonly called as a hump. It may be present since birth or may develop during the teenage years. The most common symptoms seen are a hump, back pain and muscle stiffness. The pain remains constant and does not worsen over time. If the curvature is too much, then the thoracic cage may get compressed and pressed for space. This may cause cardio-thoracic problems like chest pain, shortness of breath and even death. Compression of spinal nerves may cause loss of bladder and bowel control, loss of sensation and muscle weakness. Kyphosis is treated with physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory drugs and in severe cases, with bracing.Scoliosis is the side-to-side curvature that occurs during growth spurts before puberty. It may also be caused by spinal cord injuries and arthritis. Scoliosis develops gradually. The symptoms seen are usually by people other than the patient, where they may notice a slight slouch while walking. At times it may be seen that clothes that used to fit earlier are now ill-fitting. The pants seem to have shortened on one side. The curvature if mild responds well to physiotherapy. Physiotherapy is also useful as it helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles. This helps in stopping the progression of curvature. Severe cases require bracing and even surgical intervention with rods, hooks, wires and screws to correct the curvature. Sciatica: Sciatica is a condition that arises when the sciatic nerve is pressed upon. This condition arises when a degenerated vertebra presses upon the disc below it, or when there is a disc prolapse.  Abnormally tight piriformis muscle of the buttocks and a tumor in the spine may also cause sciatic pain. The hallmark symptom is the characteristic pain along the leg that starts from the hip and radiates all the way down. The pain is worsened by sitting and tingling numbness also develops. Treatment includes anti-inflammatory medicines and physiotherapy. Spondylolisthesis: When the spine is subjected to the pressures of daily activity, there is a lot of wear and tear that goes on in the vertebrae. This may cause the vertebra to move forward and slide on the vertebra below it. As a result, you may experience a constant backache. Spondylolisthesis can be congenital, it may occur due to trauma to the vertebral column, due to a tumor in the vertebra or due to degenerative changes in the vertebra and cartilage as a result of diseases like arthritis. Low backache is the hallmark of this disease. The pain is typically worse after any exercise that involves the lower back. The motions of low back are restricted and if there is nerve compression then tingling and numbness along the leg may also be seen.Rest and avoiding exertion of back muscles helps reduce the symptoms. Physiotherapy helps in restoring the strength and improving the range of motions. Spinal Stenosis: Degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis cause development of bone spurs in the vertebral column leading to its narrowing. This puts pressure on the nerves and leads to pain and tingling and numbness. Cervical Spondylosis: This condition occurs due to degenerative changes in the vertebrae of the neck region. Commonly seen as neck stiffness with pain that radiates all the way down the arm.  The pain occurs as the nerves get compressed by disc prolapse or bone outgrowths in the vertebra. Treatment includes neck immobilization, cervical traction, medications for pain and physiotherapy. Ways to reduce spine problems and backache are: Quit smoking Adopt a perfect posture Do exercises that will strengthen your core, lower back muscles and abs. Do not ignore or overlook the pains. Consult your doctor at the earliest. Spinal problems are the ones that are frequently overlooked. Ignoring the symptoms may lead to worsening of the problem. See your doctor at the earliest to be safe. The spine is the backbone of our body, in the true sense of the word. It is up to us to keep our spine in good condition as an unhealthy spine will interfere with almost all our body functions.
A quick guide to high blood pressureWhat is blood pressure? Blood pressure is the force or pressure exerted by blood on the walls of arteries while flowing through it. What is normal? A blood pressure value of 120/80 mm Hg is ideally said to be the normal. The upper value (systolic) reads the pressure when the heart beats (squeezes to pump the blood). The lower value (diastolic) computes pressure at rest in between the heartbeats when the heart refills with blood. What is hypertension or high blood pressure? The condition in which the pressure of blood in the arteries is persistently high.More the pressure, harder the heart has to work to pump the blood. The prolonged and too high blood pressure (BP) raises the heart's work persistently and can lead to grave damage to the arteries. This eventually leads to uncontrolled high blood pressure raising the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease in the long run.A blood pressure above 130/90 mm Hg is said to be high. What are the symptoms of hypertension? Hypertension can go unnoticed without any symptoms and thus remain untreated for years altogether. Thus, it is also called as silent killer sometimes. What causes hypertension? The cause of hypertension is unknown in most of the cases. Sometimes, hypertension occurs secondary to kidney disease or adrenal gland disease. Who are at risk of getting high BP? The risk of developing high blood pressure is more in people above the age of 45, those who have close relatives already suffering from hypertension, and who have history of diabetes, Many people consistently have blood pressure above normal, yet not so high to be called as hypertension (130-140 /80-90). These people are at more risk of developing hypertension. Is salt and blood pressure are related? Sodium content of salt causes water retention thus putting more burden on heart and raising blood pressure. So watch the foods you eat for sodium content and stick to a low-sodium diet. Stress and high blood pressure Stress can increase the blood pressure, but no scientific facts to suggest that it causes hypertension. Stress can lead to addictions, poor diet, lack of sleep which can indirectly contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease. Obesity and hypertension Obesity strains heart and raises the risk. Losing every kilo makes a huge difference. Alcohol  Alcohol can surely raise blood pressure and limiting it mandatory. Pregnancy and hypertension High blood pressure during pregnancy is called as gestational hypertension. It can cause serious complications like preeclampsia. It can harm both the mother and baby. It can compromise oxygen flow to the baby. The blood pressure normalizes after child's birth. Medicines and hypertension Some medicines, like pain killers, birth control pills, steroids, flu medicines etc. can cause the blood pressure to rise. Be careful with the medications. Avoid over-the-counter medications and take doctor's advice before consuming any medicine. "White coat" phenomenon Some people show high blood pressure in doctor's clinic due to nervousness. This is called as white coat phenomenon. These people are at risk of developing high blood pressure. Kids and hypertension Kids who are obese and have a family history are more at risk. How to control high blood pressure? Eat healthy: Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, low-fat dairy products, and nuts. Say no to sweets, saturated fats, and excess salt. Exercise: Regular physical activity lowers blood pressure. Atleast 150 minutes of exercise per week is essential. Activities like brisk walking, swimming, cycling or gardening, all count. Reduce stress: Add yoga, meditation, deep breathing. All have proven to lower the blood pressure and keep it normal. Hypertension is usually a chronic life-long condition. It's very essential to take medications, make lifestyle changes and regularly monitor blood pressure. Keeping it under checkwillreducethe potential riskof heart disease, kidney diseases, and stroke.
Importance of sex educationOur society is beset with a lot of myths about Human Sexuality and hence the family relationships are affected adversely. A man is considered (mistakenly) as a man only when he performs effectively in bed. In other words a man hangs his self-esteem on his male organ. Hence whenever there is a problem in performing sex, he becomes frustrated and depressed. In order to cover up his inadequacy he may blame his wife for his problems. This attitude will adversely affect the martial relationship, leading to unhappiness in nonsexual aspects of marriage. He may become violent when the wife retaliates. Marital break down, even if not ending in legal separation will be a very messy affair. Sexual behavior is determined by information or knowledge one has on hand and the parameters of comfort zone. Unfortunately we are dealing with a behavior that is besmirched with myths and misconceptions, and a breeding ground for stigmas and taboos, which leads to unhealthy sex life. These barriers have to be broken; otherwise healthy sexual and family life cannot be achieved. It is guesstimated that one in every three couples have some sexual problem or other and they do not know how and where to seek help. The media gives them anonymity and guides them in proper direction. The three main enemies of sexual satisfaction are guilt, anxiety and fear. All these stem from ignorance. Due to the stigmatization sex education is not available. Hence the streets have become not only the libraries for knowledge on sex but also the laboratories. When one of the dimensions (recreation) becomes problematic it impacts the health of the other two dimensions (procreation and relation). Magazine columns endeavor to dispel sexual ignorance and empower people with scientific knowledge. The aim is twofold: First, to inform in simple language, the scientific aspects of sexual problems and clarify myths surrounding sexuality; Second, to help people become comfortable with their own sexual life and elaborate on various treatment options available. People will thus be empowered to take responsibility for their own health and happiness. Have an open mind. All dimensions of human life are important. To consider one as unimportant and attach a stigma will hamper the development of the full potential of an individual. Understanding sexuality will enrich our lives and relationships.
Internet and sex : Decoding virtual pornographyPornography is broadly categorized as softcore or hardcore. While hardcore contains intensive and highly graphic forms of sexual content, softcore constitutes less intensive form of sexual content. Genres of pornography are determined on the basis of the type of content and the status of the participants. The common sub-genres are ethnic, fetish, reality, group, and amateur. There are also sexual content specially created for different sexual orientations: heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual. While sexual needs are natural and part of our biological set-up, the use of pornography is widely criticized for putting forward a partial portrayal of who a human being is. Majority of the pornographic material express a human only in sexual terms- as being someone looking for sexual endeavors- without paying attention to and inclusion of the person's emotional and mental state. The explication of human beings as purely sexual beings closes the eyes of the viewers many a times to the emotional and mental aspect of sexual intercourse, thus perverting the way they look at sexual intercourse in their relationships. Since sex is not holistically discussed on public platform as part of a healthy relationship and one only has access to understanding sexual practice through pornography which portrays a certain mechanistic and physically-induced aspect of sexual acts, viewing of pornography comes with the risk of sex addiction. Moreover, since pornography generally engages participants whose possess bodies which are conventionally considered sexually appealing, the viewers could implicitly get dissatisfied with their sex lives due to non-duplication of the same form of bodies in real life. Medical researches have also found that apart from having unreal expectations from one's partners, the viewer might find themselves lowly in sexual matters due to the sexual practices performed on the pornographic content that can be difficult to duplicate or are disliked. The portrayal of women in pornography is generally of persons who have no issues with being dominated over and who find such domination also sexually arousing. However, such a view is overwhelmingly false and a viewer on a regular fodder of such pornography could end up with deeply flawed perspective on women. Lastly, pornography also expresses various types of perverse forms of sex which are harmful to society, especially vulnerable groups. These include child sex, office-related sexual content, rough and rape sex, and public sexual acts. While pornography is a sure avenue to possibility of sexual perversion, healthy ways of satisfying one's sexual needs must be acknowledged and taken up. Moreover, it is integral that socially, sexual intercourse is recognized as a healthy part of emotional relationship. It needs not only absorbed as a purely physical act which is morally judged and shunned- the latter approach only increases the probability of pornography being seen as a last resort to learn about sex. In talking about sex as a natural process between mutually approving adults and as part of emotional relationship, we reduce the chances of sex being seen as a non-emotional activity and allow for there to be holistic understanding of sexual intercourse. For adolescents who are entering the age of sexual maturation, it is integral to introduce the physical relation between persons as being a result of emotional relationships, with understanding of the body holistically - as a harmony between physical and mental states. In the case of non-presence of holistic guidance, the chances of teenagers falling prey to pornography to understand sexual intercourse is high and as has been earlier explored, such an understanding of sex as activity between solely sexually-charged beings could result in perverted view of emotional relationships as well.
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