How to Know if You’re Spoiling Your Child – And the One Thing That Can Help

By | Food for thought, parenting, relationships, self

If you want your kids to be kind, studious and compassionate people who are good to their peers, you should model great social behavior, you should set aside plenty of time for studies and support them as needed, and you should pay close attention to their sense of contentment.

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Also, you need to have your children do plenty of chores. That’s the conclusion of a survey of nearly 10,000 children in their early elementary school years: the kids who were held responsible for doing a number of chores at home while at kindergarten age were more socially well-developed, were better students, and were overall more satisfied with life by the time they reached third grade.

How can such a direct correlation be the case? Another way to think of it is… how can it not?

Chores Teach Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency and Pride

Boy vacuuming floor while father standing at home

We all like being part of a team but, more to the point, we like feeling like a valued member of that team, and the way to be and feel valued is to genuinely offer some value to the group. For kids in their kindergarten and early elementary school years, the primary “team” is the home, and to be a contributing member of that team (AKA the family) requires some guidance from the parents (or primary caregivers).

While kids will feel satisfied by the proverbial “job well done” when they do chores, they’ll need to be guided as the chores are implemented.

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Once they are, though, household chores provide a means for kids to achieve something that youth rarely permits: self-sufficiency. Children who are tasked with household chores will grow to feel that they are instead trusted with these duties, not tasked at all, per say.

When a child is praised for a good test score or a fine performance in a school play, that can give them a momentary sense of pleasure. When he or she can tell they are genuinely appreciated for their regular contributions to the home, that can create a lasting sense of innate responsibility. It can help them begin to become the kind of person who takes care of needs in their own lives and who other people look to as someone they can count on and respect.

Why Parents Often Fail to Hold Kids Accountable for Chores

Boy and girl sitting on sofa with remote control

You know the old expression that goes along the lines of “if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself,” right? Well, when it comes to a child’s chores, that advice could hardly be less accurate. Yes, when you ask a kid to set the table before a meal or clear the dishes after dinner, the task will take longer. And yes, there may be more spills and messes and in the end more work made for the parents. The fact that kids take longer to do many things and do them less effectively is one reason parents may fail to hold a child accountable for chores. But how else will they learn?

The second reason parents may not implement responsibilities is because, frankly speaking, it can be tough to do so. Kids who have not previously had to do chores may push back against their new duties, showing defiance or throwing tantrums.

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Sticking with it takes dedication and sometimes a stern hand, but with a stern but caring approach, the new chore regimen will eventually take hold and will eventually be commonplace and perhaps even a source of pride as the child contributes to the home.

Third, some parents may not compel kids to do chores because they want their children to have the happiest, easiest, most care-free childhood they can, thinking how hard life can be in adulthood, so why put these burdens on them now? This is the exact wrong approach for caring, loving parents, even if they mean well, though, as it actually sets kids up for challenges and failure later in life.

Set Kids Up for Success With Manageable Chores

Girl setting table

So you are sold on the benefits of having kids in their kindergarten and early elementary school years doing chores around the house? That’s good, but only as long as you commence the new routine properly. You do not have to – and should not – implement a grueling new chore routine overnight, suddenly asking your kid to take out the trash, water the pants, feed the fish, collect the laundry, and so forth.

Let’s use setting the table as our example, though this staggered approach can be used much more broadly. If your goal is for the child (or children) to set the entire table, start with just the napkins. Then, after a week of that (or whenever the child shows competency), add in the silverware placement. Soon, you can also have the kid putting out drinks and, soon after that, even bringing plates and bowls of food to the table. Slowly allowing the chore to expand helps ensure success and makes it seem like less of a burden and more of an everyday thing.

Also, note that you should never impart a chore to a kid that may be a matter of safety or genuine necessity for the home. Younger kids should not walk the dog alone, for example, or tend to any cooking task involving heat or sharp knives, or be solely responsible for feeding pets, or any other such task that, left undone or done improperly, could create a real problem for the household. The point is to teach responsibility and self-sufficiency, not to force responsibility on them that may backfire, causing shame or trauma if the tasks are unfulfilled.

Trust us – your kids will eventually be grateful you made them do a bit of work!


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These Dating Apps May Be Destroying Your Mental Health

By | dating, Food for thought, mental health, self

According to a recent study, dating apps may be as bad for emotional and mental wellbeing as they are good at helping people find a date. Per MDPI, people who make extensive use of dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, Bumble, OkCupid, and others are often prone to hypersexual behavior and to depression.

And both of those tendencies can not only be bad for one’s mental health, but can ironically make a person a less eligible romantic partner, as well. Let’s define our terms, and then talk about why heavy users of dating apps may be at greater risk for certain mental health issues.

What Is Hypersexuality?

close up of couple kissing with passion
(Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash)

It’s no laughing matter, that’s for sure. And it’s not a tendency to act a bit more promiscuous than the other members of your social circle. Hypersexuality is a disorder that, left unchecked, can have myriad serious consequences in a person’s life. According to the Mayo Clinic: “Compulsive sexual behavior is sometimes called hypersexuality, hypersexuality disorder or sexual addiction. It’s an excessive preoccupation with sexual fantasies, urges or behaviors that is difficult to control, causes you distress, or negatively affects your health, job, relationships or other parts of your life.”

Note the three operative words in there: fantasies, urges, and behaviors. In other words, you don’t have to be actually engaging in sex acts with multiple partners – far and away the most risky and damaging type of hypersexual behavior – to be afflicted by compulsive sexual behavior. Spending hours looking at pornography is very well within the purview of the disorder, as is spending hours each week swiping through dating apps.

The danger is that the latter two can lead to the former, and that hypersexual behavior in all its forms can damage existing relationships (with friends and family as well as with romantic partners) as well as making it harder to form a new meaningful relationship with a potential significant other.

If you find yourself struggling as a result of persistent and pervasive sexual thoughts and urges or if you often engage in risky sexual behavior – especially behaviors enabled by connections you make via dating apps – then you should seek the help of a mental health professional. Remember, these professionals will keep what you share confidential; they are there to help, not to judge.

Common Signs of Depression

man covers face sitting on couch
(Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash)

Depression is much more familiar to most people than is hypersexuality, and while the immediate deleterious effects of depression may not be as tangible as, say, an un wanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease, it too can be a serious mental disorder that merits treatment. If you are concerned you may be dealing with depression, first do a self-check for the most common symptoms.

The common symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness without a specific cause and emptiness when, objectively, you have plenty for which to feel grateful. Depression often manifests itself in the form of chronic fatigue and lethargy, yet also with sleep disturbance. A drop in appetite and an inability to concentrate are also common symptoms of depression, per the National Institute of Mental Health.

In severe cases, depression manifests itself in the form of ideation of self-harm or even suicide, and can lead to that worst outcome in the worst cases. If you feel you are in danger of any sort of self-harm, you can now simply call 988 for immediate assistance. And even if you are not in imminent danger of self-harm, if you are worried you are dealing with depression, seek help – things can and will get better with treatment. Just be sure to tell your mental health support person or team about your dating app use.

An Issue of Correlation, Not Causation

woman looking at phone
(Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash)

To be clear, using dating apps is not going to suddenly bring a case of hypersexuality disorder down upon you nor is it going to render you suddenly depressed. Many people make perfectly responsible, productive use of these platforms – indeed, dating app are the seed of countless relationships that have blossomed into marriage, family, and years and years spent in shared happiness.

However, people already more prone to compulsive sexual behavior and/or to depression may see these issues exacerbated by their use of dating apps. Like anything – and especially when it comes to things like social media platforms, a form of which dating apps are – it’s dangerously easy to begin using these apps too much and in a compulsive manner, developing a sense of addiction to the platforms themselves as well as to the potential for sexual liaison they promise. (Or simply to the fantasy of it, at any rate.)

If you are someone who is already prone to over use of pornography, if you are often consumed by sexual thoughts, fantasies, and urges, and/or if you have a history of risky sexual behavior, then you need to approach the use of dating apps with extreme caution. They won’t cause you to tip into hypersexual behavior, of course, but if you are already near that line, they may provide you the gateway to trouble.

Alternatives to Dating Apps

young people meet at cooking class
(Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash)

Yes, it can be hard to find a date these days if you eschew online dating, but it can be done – and after all, it worked for centuries, right? The easiest way to meet people without using dating apps is to rely on your network of friends, family, and colleagues. If you make it known you are actively hoping to meet someone special, anyone eligible that every one of those people in your network knows becomes a potential date.

You can also try things the classic way of going to coffee shops or bars and looking for singles there. But a better way to meet a good match is to engage in activities you most enjoy yourself that also offer the chance to meet someone new. If you love cycling, join a group of bikers or a spin class, e.g. If you love cooking, take a cooking class. If you love poetry, go to an open mike. By putting yourself out there via an activity or in an environment you already know you like, you make it more likely you’ll find someone with whom you match, no swiping right required.


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Is Your Online Life Destroying Your IRL Relationships? Chances Are the Answer Is Yes

By | Food for thought, relationships, self

These days, we spend more time on our phones than ever before. We use our devices for pretty much everything—to get caught up on the latest dumpster fire of news, check work emails, text our parents and even, as it turns out, make new friends. 

While keeping in touch with existing friends through online channels like Facebook or through texts is nothing new, there’s a new wave of people having exclusively online friendships.

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As in, becoming friends with people you do not know in real life but through your online connection. 

The question is: Are these online friendships actually good for us? Emerging research says maybe not so much. So, whether you already have online friendships or you are curious about them, it may be worth understanding the pros and cons of these relationships.

What’s Considered an Online Friendship?

young woman looks online
(Photo by Surface on Unsplash)

First, let’s break down what an online friendship actually is—and what it’s not. An online friendship is essentially when you meet and maintain a relationship with someone online. This could mean networking with people in your industry, flirting on dating apps, DMing influencers back and forth or even chatting with people on message boards. Essentially, there’s little to no chance that you’re going to meet up with these people. The whole point is that you don’t need to do that. 

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You could also consider rekindling long lost friendships through social media a type of online friendship. Even though you have an preexisting connection, if you have no intentions of meeting in real life and keep things strictly over chat and message, then this becomes more of an online connection rather than a personal one.  

Online friendships are conducted over message and chat, not phone calls or in person meet-ups. This is what truly sets them apart from regular friendships. 

The Upsides of Online Friendships

zoom call nice young woman
(Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash)

While it may not be healthy to only have online friendships, these kinds of relationships do have some perks. Here are three ways that online friendships can make a positive impact in your life. 

You’ll have fun talking to friends online

Chatting with people online is, to put it simply, fun. Being able to message back and forth with someone can help you get through a long workday, combat boredom when you’re in line at the DMV or just give you something to do when you’re bored. It’s a low stakes way to be social without having to be vulnerable or connect on a deeper level if you don’t want to. 

You can easily connect with people

Connecting online is accessible to everyone with an internet connection. For those with physical challenges, mental health issues or chronic pain, going out with friends can be tough.

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Messaging with someone online can be done from anywhere, anytime. Not only is it convenient, but it opens the door for connection for those who have trouble being present with friends in more traditional ways. 

You can always find someone available

In real life, friends have other obligations like family, kids, work, other friends—you name it. Online friends are almost always available since they are just a ping away. If you have a number of online friends by belonging to groups or message boards there is likely someone always available to chat with you.

The Downsides of Online Friendships

young man looks online
(Photo by Marie-Michèle Bouchard on Unsplash)

While online friendships are convenient and fun, they shouldn’t take the place of real, in-person connection. Not only are humans social creatures who rely on physical and emotional connection with people face to face, but we end up facing some serious issues when we focus solely on online friendships. Here are four ways these friendships can affect people negatively. 

You will more time spent online

According to the study about online friendships, researchers found that when people had a preference for online friendships this was related to “increased risk of problematic internet use.” As it’s been documented elsewhere, and often, spending too much time on your phone or computer can have significant physical and mental effects, from eye strain to depression. When you have online friendships, you will likely end up more hooked on your gadgets and this is detrimental to your overall well being. 

You could jeopardize IRL relationships

When you prioritize online friendships, you will likely neglect your in-person friendships. Online friendships are easier, after all, since they are more convenient and lower stakes emotionally.

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It’s all too easy to fall into a pattern of messaging friends online more than taking the time to coordinate a coffee date with a real-life friend. 

You might have idealized notions of who your online friends really are

As anyone who’s ever formed an emotional connection with someone online knows, online relationships can get weird. When you’re not seeing someone face to face it’s easy for your brain (and your heart) to create an idealized version of that person, which is usually a departure from who they actually are. This can be confusing and stressful when your expectations don’t really match reality. 

You miss out on the real connecting parts of friendships

Participants in the aforementioned study who said they prefer online friends over real life friends also had higher fears of intimacy and vulnerability. In this way online friendships become a crutch for not growing emotionally and allowing others to truly know you.

As you cling to these online relationships, you miss out of the hard, yet rewarding, experiences that true in-person friendships can bring. It may be more comfortable to have online friends, but face-to-face friends are the ones who can really feed your soul. 

Internet Friendships: Are They Unhealthy?

couple have coffee outside
(Photo by DocuSign on Unsplash)

When it comes to friendships, it’s important to find a healthy balance of in-person and internet friends, if you’re looking to have online friendships. Being part of online communities can certainly make you feel less alone and help bring some lightness and connection to your day-to-day.

But having people in your life to whom you can really connect in person is something all of us need at a core level. As long as you’re not letting your online friends come between your real-life relationships, you’ll be just fine.


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Hunger Vs. Appetite: Knowing the Difference Will Help Your Fitness Goals

By | diet and nutrition, Food for thought, Motivation, self

What’s the difference between feeling hungry and having an appetite? We often use these phrases interchangeably to indicate that we want something to eat. However, there’s actually a difference between hunger and appetite that many don’t realize. 

Simply put, hunger refers to the physical need to eat, while appetite indicates a psychological desire to consume food. These may seem like small nuances, but for those who want to lose weight or work toward a certain fitness goal, getting in touch with your body to understand the differences can help you reach your desired weight or physique more easily.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between hunger and appetite – what they mean, cues to look out for and how to strategically respond in order to reach your personal health and fitness goals. 

What Is the Difference Between Hunger and Appetite?

sad dinner plate pink table
(Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash)

Whether you’re working toward a fitness goal or want to understand your eating patterns better, understanding the difference between hunger and appetite can be a big help. Here’s how hunger and appetite are defined and how they differ.

Hunger is defined as the need to eat. Hunger is an instinctive reaction to your body’s need for food. These physical indicators can include a grumbling stomach or even fatigue if a person goes too long without eating. A lack of focus and energy can also be signs of hunger. This is due to a person’s blood sugar levels dropping too low when they’ve gone too long without eating.

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Appetite is defined as the desire to eat. Unlike hunger, your appetite is triggered by external cues rather than the physical need to eat. However, appetite also manifests physically. For example, say you finished eating lunch just an hour ago. You walk into your office kitchen and see a plate of fresh doughnuts set out for grabs. Seeing these delicious doughnuts and smelling their sweet scents may make your mouth water and give you the feeling that you’d like to eat one at that moment. This is different than hunger in that you don’t physically need to eat that doughnut, but your body and mind desire it due to the sight and smell of it. 

Factors That Impact Appetite

young woman works out doing sit ups
(Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash)

As explained above, appetite is brought on by external factors that motivate our desire to eat. In addition to visual and sensory stimuli (ex: seeing and smelling a delicious pastry), a few other factors can increase appetite.

Poor sleep habits. Have you ever found yourself craving sweet treats after a restless night’s sleep? There’s science behind why we gravitate to sugary foods more often when running on less than optimal sleep. When we lack energy, our body looks for quick ways to boost energy. Sugary treats like cookies, soda or candy provide that fast burst of energy – but leave us crashing after that spike in blood sugar has ended. 

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Exercise. Depending on how rigorous your fitness training is, exercise can increase hunger due to the additional calories being burned each day. However, the appetite may also climb when starting a new workout regimen due to what’s known as “appetite entitlement.” When we dedicate time and effort to working out, we feel like we’re owed a reward in the form of food. Since we’ve burned it off through exercise, we reason that having a few cookies or sweet treats as a reward won’t harm our progress. This isn’t true and can end up sabotaging fitness goals if not kept in check.

Stress. You may have heard of “stress eating,” which refers to turning to food when we’re under pressure. It’s true that appetite increases during stress, as many people self-soothe by turning to high-calorie “comfort food” as a response. Though this may feel good at the moment, stress eating as a response to appetite will not only cause productivity to crash after spiking your blood sugar but will make achieving fitness goals difficult.

How to Know When You’re Hungry

hand holding glass of water
(Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash)

If you’re having difficulty identifying whether you’re hungry or have an appetite, here are a few steps to follow to determine what you’re feeling.

Evaluate your physical symptoms. Take a moment to identify how you’re physically feeling. Factor in the last time you ate and whether or not this was a balanced meal. Are your energy levels low? Does your stomach feel physically empty? These are strong indicators that what you’re feeling is hunger vs. appetite.

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Identify your motivation for eating. What happened right before your desire to eat? Did you see or smell something desirable? Did you have a stressful meeting and learn of a new deadline you have to hit? Keeping track of things that trigger your desire to eat can help you work through them to determine whether you’re hungry or have an appetite. 

Take a break. Before reaching for something to eat, take a moment to remove yourself from the current situation for around 15-20 minutes. Drink some water, take a walk and occupy your mind with something other than what you were doing when the desire to eat hit. If you still have physical hunger symptoms, it’s a strong indicator you are, in fact, hungry rather than being influenced to eat by other factors. 

Tips for Curbing Your Appetite

red apple in a studio photo
(Photo by an_vision on Unsplash)

Being mindful of your motivations behind eating is one way to discern between hunger and appetite. Another way to keep your appetite under control is to work toward cultivating eating habits that help you feel full and satisfied. Here are a few tips to try. 

Eat nutrient-dense foods

Making a conscious effort to incorporate healthy foods that keep you feeling satiated for longer is another way to keep your appetite in check. Whole grains, high-fiber fruits and vegetables and lean protein will keep energy levels stable and help fuel your body properly throughout the day.

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Focus on satiety

Knowing when we’re full is just as important as identifying when we’re hungry. One way to work toward achieving this is to eat slowly and mindfully during each meal. Doing so allows us to feel the physical cues of satiety that leave us feeling nourished and satisfied without feeling too full. 


fridge full of greens
(Photo by Ello on Unsplash)

Understanding the difference between hunger and appetite can be difficult at first. It may take some practice to identify your body’s motivation for eating. Knowing the difference between hunger and appetite will not only become easier over time but can be the key to start working toward a healthier, more active lifestyle.

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Mistakes Can Help Your Career – If You Use This Weird Social Phenomenon to Your Advantage

By | Food for thought, mindset, self

Which character do we tend to side with in books, TV shows, or movies: the flawless, utterly competent “golden child” archetype who never makes a mistake, or the downright decent, down-to-earth striver who gets it wrong some of the time but sticks to his or her goal and gets the job done in the end?

The answer, of course, is the latter – we tend to have a negative reaction to people we perceive as never making mistakes and always achieving things with competence. This is because such people make us feel vaguely threatened, perhaps a touch envious, or even less secure about ourselves. And it’s why someone else’s mistakes can make us feel more at ease, more sympathetic, and more self-assured.

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This is called the Pratfall Effect: it is a phenomenon in social psychology wherein witnessing someone else’s minor (and generally harmless) error actually improves the way we feel about that individual. Simply put, when we see someone spill a glass of water, miss a step and stumble, use the wrong word in a sentence, or commit some other pedestrian error – the exact kind we can and do make ourselves – we like that person more.

And the Pratfall Effect is most effective when the person making that minor mistake is someone we might otherwise have estimated as threateningly competent.

The Origins of the Pratfall Effect

human psychology symbolized through the human eye
(Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash)

While of course in practical terms the effects of this social phenomenon have existed for as long as humans have lived in societies, the specific identification of the Pratfall Effect can be dated to the year 1966 and attributed to a social psychologist named Elliot Aronson.

In seeking to prove a theory he had, Aronson created two audio recordings of a quiz-style game show (staged for the experiment, though participants were unaware of this). In the first version of the show, a poised and clever-sounding host led participants through the competition and the proceedings went off without a hitch.

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In the second version of the show, the only difference was that the host was heard to knock over a cup of coffee and respond to his accident with casual humor.

As Aronson had expected, study participants in the group that listened to the recording with the spilled coffee incident found the host of the show much more likeable and relatable. The only difference? He had made a small mistake.

Examples of the Pratfall Effect

beautiful model wears dress on the runway
(Photo by Yogendra Singh on Unsplash)

If you think back, you will probably realize you have experienced the Pratfall Effect myriad times in your life: perhaps your boss knocked over a cup of coffee during a meeting and laughed it off, suddenly seeming less powerful and unapproachable and instead amiable and relatable. Perhaps you have seen a Hollywood star slip on a red carpet or a runway model miss a step and found them suddenly relatable. 

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Even a president who makes the occasional gaffe during a speech or press conference can seem more down-to-earth and likeable than a cool, collected politician who always has the perfect diction. And in your everyday life, you have surely seen a stranger stumble on a street corner or drop a bag in an airport and immediately sympathized with and even been charmed by the person. (Ironic, isn’t it, how embarrassed we can be when we make these harmless little mistakes ourselves even though we know how we would feel when seeing someone else do the same!)

President Bush gives a speech
(Photo by History in HD on Unsplash)

Those who have a clear understanding of the Pratfall Effect can use it as a powerful tool in politics, marketing, sales, and other arenas – mind you, they should only do so with good intentions, of course. By intentionally making yourself seem more relatable and likeable, you can help relate more closely to a constituency of potential voters; you see politicians doing this all the time when they adopt the mannerisms and speech patterns of a local population, even using improper grammar or colloquialisms that make them seem more approachable. 

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In sales or marketing setting, if the pitch person (be they a speaker at a conference, a TV presenter, or the car salesman or saleswoman sitting across the desk from you) seems perfectly polished, you are less likely to respond to them as a human and thus less likely to end up buying what they are selling. If, on the other hand, the person makes a few little mistakes, is a bit self-effacing, and seems a bit imperfect, you are more likely to connect with them on a human level and also to be more likely to be comfortable becoming a customer.

When the Pratfall Effect Backfires

spilled coffee on the concrete outside office building
(Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash)

When a person who seems highly competent makes a minor mistake, in most cases, our perceived attraction of them will go up and we will find them more likeable, more relatable, and more trustworthy, and that, to reiterate, is the essential nature of the Pratfall Effect. On the other hand, when someone who does not seem all that competent or capable makes a mistake, it has the opposite effect: we see that person as even less competent, as less likable, and as less attractive.

The Pratfall Effect is also ineffective or works against a person when they make a major mistake. While we may laugh at and appreciate a famous neurosurgeon flubbing a word or dropping a stack of notes during a lecture, there is no good that could come of a doctor making a mistake during an operation, for example – not in the eyes of others or for the patient on the table. Major mistakes – or transgressions or judgment errors – just don’t make someone likeable.

So too can someone who makes too many mistakes go from initially more likeable to less so. If you want to put the Pratfall Effect to work in your factor, take care not to try too hard to appear likeable through error lest you may accidentally lower others’ estimation of you. A safer bet is to just be your genuine self and not to worry so much if and when you do make a mistake, because chances are good an honest mistake will actually work in your favor.


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You’re Making Friends Wrong – Here’s How to Do It Right

By | Food for thought, friends, self

Sometimes, as adults, we may find ourselves wishing we had more friends. But making friends can be easier said than done. Many people wonder where exactly an adult can even find new friends and how to go about building these relationships. And how do you even know if someone you think might make a good friend would be interested in being friends with you? And shouldn’t you already have lots of friends to call anyway? And is there something wrong with you if you don’t already have a best friend?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this process—and forget that making friends is actually a pretty simple, accessible process. That said, it’s very understandable and common to get discouraged, sad, or embarrassed if you don’t feel like you have the friendships you want in your life, especially as in every TV show, movie, and social media feed you’ll typically see endless depictions of best pals and super close friendship groups. 

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And it’s natural to wonder why you don’t have that too—or to miss the friendships you may have had in the past. Or to wish you felt closer to the friends you have. Or you might want new friends who share certain interests with you or who live or work where you do. And even if you already have tons of friends, you might just be looking to make more.

The good news is that everyone can hone their friendship skills and become adept at making friends at all stages of life. It’s never too late to make more friends or to become the type of person that picks up friends wherever they go. In this comprehensive guide to making friends, we offer tips and tricks on how to make friends, where to find them, and how to keep them. 

How to Make Friends

two young women hang out outdoors laughing
(Photo by Katie Treadway on Unsplash)

Kids learn to make friends as soon as toddlerhood as a part of their socio-emotional development. From there, kids (and adults) seem prone to pair or group up into various friendships that may last days, months, years, or lifetimes. But while most of us have had a range of friendships by the time we reach adulthood, that doesn’t mean making new friends is always easy.

How to make friends may seem like something everyone should already know how to do. But in actuality, it can be an even more intimidating, uncomfortable, or unsettling process as an adult simply because there aren’t always as many natural avenues available for meeting new people. For kids, they are often in proximity to lots of other kids, such as at daycare, school, sports teams, and other clubs or events. Combine regular exposure to other kids alongside shared interests, activities, and routines, and you’ve got a recipe for developing friendships. And most kids have tons of time for lots of friends—not true for all adults.

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Often, it’s harder to meet other adults to be friends with, simply because we’re a bit out of practice in looking for friends. And the complexities of modern adult life can make finding them even more challenging. We all have our routines, responsibilities, and habits, and finding new friends requires stepping out of those patterns. 

Some adults already have a trove of friends and aren’t looking for new ones. Other adults are super busy and don’t have the time or inclination to pursue new relationships. But that doesn’t mean that many other adults out there aren’t open to making new friends. It just might take a bit more effort—and a refresher on making friends.

Why Friends Are Important

silhouette of a group of friends
(Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash)

Research shows that people with a fulfilling social life and solid friendships are happier, healthier, and live longer. Friends offer an antidote to loneliness, a buffer to feeling low, and a great stress-reliever. Simply talking out your problems with a friend or having a laugh together can help to improve your well being. 

Friends stick by you in times of trouble, are there to cheer you on, and cheer you up. Plus, having friends means more social time, which likely means more fun. 

What Are the Different Types of Friends?

There are many different types of friends. There are work friends, school friends, childhood friends, neighborhood friends, hobby friends, and so on. The good news in this is that you can pretty much find potential friends in all types of scenarios and for all types of purposes. For example, you might want to find a friend to go to karaoke night with, friends to train for triathlons with, or someone who loves classic cinema, sushi, hiking, spa trips, or bowling as much as you do. Whatever it is, you can likely make a friend to fit that bill.

Essentially, you can make friends to fit all the different sides of your personality, interests, and parts of your life. Additionally, you can make friends who are totally different from you, who expose you to all kinds of new things, ideas, and ways of living.

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That’s really fun and beneficial, too. And being open to meeting different types of people, sets you up for making new friends wherever you go.

Plus, you can have friends with different levels of closeness. Some friendships are long-lasting, some more short-lived. Some are intense and deeply bonded, others are much more casual or surface level. Some are very situational, as in work buddies, the guy who lives across the hall, or the pals you make in your ukulele, tamale-making, or knitting classes. Some friendships come in groups, while others are more one-on-one. And friends can be any gender, too. 

Having many different types of friendships can be very fulfilling, giving you lots of people to choose from to talk to, get support from, and socialize with. It’s really up to you how many and what type of friendships to pursue, but knowing that there are so many different kinds can help you open your eyes to the many different potential pals that are all around you.

How Many Friends Do You Need?

three young woman in a field with sunflowers
(Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash)

Some people will want a robust roster of buddies, while others may want (or need) only a select few friends. There is no right or wrong or magic number of friends to have. Different people may thrive with dozens of friends in their life, while others would feel overwhelmed with so many. Some people might want lots of casual friendships and just one or two close pals—or vice versa. And the number of friends you need or want may fluctuate throughout your life.

Really, it’s about the time and energy you have available and how social you want to be. Some people really need a lot of alone time or time with just one or two friends—and that’s perfectly okay. The point is to seek out the friendships you want or need in your life, whatever number that is.

How Do I Know if Someone Will Be a Good Friend?

toxic friend
how to deal with a toxic friend

Generally, lots of different types of people could become great new friends. But good signs that someone is likely to be a good match for you include if they are warm, friendly, and listen to you. Are they considerate and respectful?

Do they show an interest in you and care about your feelings? Do you share interests or hobbies? And ultimately, do you enjoy spending time with them and talking to them?

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You can suss out if you and a potential friend might be well-suited for friendship by simply talking to them, too. Questions to ask people to help you get to them include asking them about their passions, how they spend their time, what music or shows they like, their favorite foods, and where they’d like to go on vacation.

Remember, you don’t need to align perfectly or even at all. Friends with totally different interests and backgrounds can be just as great as ones that share your passions and life history. The key is to notice if you like hanging out with this person. Do you feel comfortable talking to them? Do they make you feel supported and valued? And most importantly, are you happy to see them, and do you laugh and have fun when you’re together.

Why Do I Struggle to Make Friends?

insecurity holds back a young woman
(Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash)

Some people seem to make friends effortlessly wherever they go. For others, it’s more of a struggle. Most people are somewhere in between—and it’s very normal to feel a bit uncomfortable or awkward when making the first move to make a friend. It’s hard to put yourself out there. And it can be hard to expose yourself to potential rejection.

On the flip side, it’s brave to seek out friends anyway despite any discomfort you may feel.

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If you are introverted or have social anxiety, looking for new pals can feel intimidating or overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean that you can go for it anyway. 

It may help to realize that most people feel a bit unsure when talking up new people. And while you might think they would reach out to you if they wanted to be your buddy, they might be thinking the same. So, next time, encourage yourself to go for it. Even if you feel a bit awkward at first, the payoff could be a new friend.

What Skills Are Important for Making Friends?

smiling confident young man wearing glasses
(Photo by christian buehner on Unsplash)

You don’t need to do anything special to make a friend. All it takes is reaching out and talking to another person. Then, ask them to do something together or accept their invitation to hang out. Or you can simply put yourself in places and situations where friendships can naturally develop, such as by joining a swimming class, bowling league, or book club. 

But there are some friendship skills you can work on that will facilitate talking to and making new friends. These skills include communication skills, emotional regulation, stress coping strategies, and general social skills.

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Good communicators pay attention to other people’s signals.They ask questions, and listen to the other person. In fact, active listening is key, as people notice if your attention is on them and if you are truly interested in what they have to say.

Being a good friend is also essential. Traits of great friends include being reliable, communicating honestly, respecting others’ privacy, being available and happy to help when someone needs support, and regularly spending time together. Not gossiping or bullying others is key, too.

Where to Make New Friends as an Adult

making friends in college two young people with their laptops
(Photo by Aleksandra Sapozhnikova on Unsplash)

You can find friends really wherever you go. If there are other people around, then there is the potential to make a friend. If you are friendly to others, a simple hello can lead to friendship whether you’re on a bus ride, in line at the grocery store, or walking your dog around the block. Sometimes, friendships can seem to find you. However, you can specifically put yourself into places that will provide even more ample opportunities for finding friends.

Join a group

Think about what you like to do—or would like to start doing. Then, look up possible groups, clubs, or activities related to that interest. Then sign yourself up. 

Take a class or workshop

Whether it’s a comedy, cooking, Spanish, or sewing class, you’ll find a group of like-minded people who could soon become your new friends.


Is there a cause you’re passionate about? Sign up to volunteer for the effort and you’re likely to find possible friends among your compatriots.

Tap into your existing network

Take a look at your existing contacts, work colleagues, and acquaintances. Is there someone in your existing network who you might want to become friends with? If so, simply, send a text or ask them to go get coffee or on some other outing. Feel out the waters to see if they might be interested in pursuing a friendship, too.

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Alternatively, you can ask people in your network to help connect you with possible new friends. Think about the type of pals you’re looking for—from a cinema buff to a biking fiend—then ask for suggestions of possible new friends.

Making conversation in person

A great way to make friends is to chat people up wherever you may be. From the subway to the lunchroom, you’re likely to make friends just by saying hello, and starting to ask questions.

How to Make Friends in New Situations

new social environment loft space young people
(Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)

If you’ve moved to a new city, it can feel lonely if you don’t already have many (or any) pals. But the good news is that most people like to help out people who are new in town. They are more likely to invite you to activities or offer to hang out if they know you’ve just moved. So, use that goodwill by letting people know you just moved and saying yes to any offers that come your way. Reach out to anyone you know who might know someone in your new hometown, too.

How to make friends in college

If you’re in school, chat up people in your classes, in your dorm, or in any extracurricular activities you participate in. Typically, there are lots of opportunities to meet other students, from on the quad to in the dining hall. Join clubs, study groups, and other school-based activities where you might meet potential friends. Vary where you sit so that you can have an opportunity to meet more people.

How to make friends at your job

Your workplace is often a great place to make friends, too. Being in the same field and office automatically gives you a connection and something to talk about.

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Make an effort to introduce yourself to people at work that you don’t know and make small talk with those that you do. Ask people questions, like where they like to get lunch or go for happy hour—then, suggest going there together.

How to reconnect with old friends

Friends you’ve lost touch with can also provide a wellspring of pals to hangout with today. Think about the people from your past that you’ve lost touch with. Skip rekindling the friendships that ended with animosity. Instead, reach out to the ones that you enjoyed hanging out with but just happened to drift apart from. A simple text to an old friend can be enough to restart a friendship.

Making Friends: Do’s and Don’ts

young woman smiles good energy
(Photo by Jamie Brown on Unsplash)

There are no strict rules for making friends. But there are some general do’s and don’ts that may make the process go smoother.

Follow your instincts

It can help to follow your instincts. If you get a sense that you’ll connect with someone, then take a chance on talking to them. If you have a feeling they aren’t interested—or if you decide you aren’t—then move on to someone else. 


When you want to make a friend, it helps to look and be approachable. This includes smiling, having open body language, and generally being friendly. Aim to put yourself in a place where you have a chance to interact with others. Then, smile, say, hi, and start a conversation.

Make eye contact

Looking someone in the eye lets them know that you are paying attention to them. It shows interest, confidence, and connection.

Make the first move

If conversation is flowing, don’t be afraid to ask the person to hang out. Making the first move can feel a little scary, and sure, they might say, no thanks. But they also might say, yes. 


One key way to make buddies is to open yourself to others. Ask potential pals about themselves but also talk about yourself. Share your personality, interests, and questions. In order to make friends, you need to let others in and be willing to expose your feelings and inner self.

Assume people like you

When you’re on the hunt for friends, it can be easy to feel discouraged and think no one will want you as a friend.

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When you feel that way, decide to give yourself a break instead. Remind yourself that you have a lot to offer potential pals. Assume people like you—because they do! 

Be open-minded

Don’t limit who you might consider for a potential friend. Just like you want people to give you a chance, give others a chance, too. Don’t make judgments about people before getting to know them. 

Open your heart

Let yourself be vulnerable, be yourself, and listen to your new potential friends. Giving others your attention and opening your heart to them, makes others feel important and lets them know you want to be their friend.Think positive thoughts about making new friends and you’ll manifest what you’re hoping for.

How to get friends using technology

Social media is a great place to make friends. You can meet people from the security of your phone. Many apps out there offer ways to connect with people either through messaging or by directly matching you up, as in dating apps for friendship.

How to Maintain Friendships

staying in touch with a friend on zoom
(Photo by Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash)

Remember that once you’ve made some friends, you’ll want to keep them. Maintaining your friendships is similar to making them. Giving your friends your time, attention, and honesty helps you keep them.

Remember that most people are open to meeting new pals. Some people will reach out to you, others may need you to make the first gesture. If you encounter someone who responds to your overtures with coldness, don’t take it personally. Their disinterest or rudeness rarely has anything to do with you. Ultimately, it’s their loss. And really, it’s instructive as it just tells you to move on to the next person. 

Key takeaways

Making friends can feel intimidating at times, but the process can also be exciting and fulfilling. Aim to just let go of your worries, self doubt, and embarrassment. No matter whether you are outgoing or shy, believing in yourself—and that you make a good friend—goes a long way. Start with a smile, a friendship attitude, and an open heart. Focusing on the fun of it can help nudge you along to finding the friendships you desire.


Crystals for Love: Understand How to Use Them, Their Meanings and Impact

What Is Juneteenth and Why Is It so Important?

By | Food for thought, inspiring, purpose, self

Over the past few years, the holiday of Juneteenth has gained increasing prominence. While most people know that it commemorates the end of slavery and the freedom on formerly enslaved people, many are unfamiliar about the origins of the celebration. Not only is Juneteenth a way to honor Black American history but it also sheds light how the on past atrocities of slavery impacted the development of our country. And how this legacy continues to impact the modern life of Black Americans.

In this comprehensive guide to Juneteenth, learn more about this yearly holiday, why it’s important, and ways to celebrate.

What Is Juneteenth?

People attend Juneteenth, Black Independence Day

Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans. While the holiday has become much more widely known over the past decade, it has been celebrated in various forms since it was first observed in 1865.

Juneteenth is celebrated annually on June 19. The name Juneteenth comes from a combination of the words June and 19. The holiday is also known as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth National Independence Day, Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day. 

This date is special because while the Civil War had already ended, it was the date that over 250,000 enslaved people were freed from slavery in Texas.

Origins of the Juneteenth Holiday, Explained

The first Juneteenth celebration happened on June 19, 1865, the same day that the Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, to share the news that the Civil War was over, freeing the last enslaved Black Americans who lived there. Technically, they had already been freed on February 1, 1865, when President Abraham Lincoln approved the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. 

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Additionally, in 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which had also given the estimated 3 million people enslaved in the Confederate states their freedom. However, the Black Americans living in Texas had no idea that slavery had been abolished and the people enslaving them had no interest in telling them or ending the brutal practice.

Once the Union troops arrived to share the news of the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery (and enforce the order), the formerly enslaved people celebrated with food, song, dance, and other festivities. This celebration became an annual tradition among newly freed Black people that grew into the Juneteenth holiday we know today.

When did Juneteenth Become a Holiday?

Ninety-four-year-old activist and retired educator Opal Lee, known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth, speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden after he signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law in the East Room of the White Hous

Jubilee Day was first celebrated in 1865 after the news was delivered that salavery was no longer legal. The first official observances were held the next year in Texas and continued as an annual tradition. Soon the Juneteenth anniversary was being honored annually in other states as well. 

Is Juneteenth a Federal Holiday?

Yes, Juneteenth is a federal holiday, but becoming an official American holiday took years in the making. In 1980, Juneteenth was made a state holiday in Texas. In the years that followed, other states began to officially recognize the holiday as well. Increasingly, more and more people became aware of the celebration and the effort to make Juneteenth a federal holiday intensified. 

Finally, in the wake of the horrific killing of George Floyd at the hand of police officers, the massive protests that followed, and the ensuing attention his murder brought to issues of structural racism, by the order of President Joe Biden, Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021. Juneteenth became the 11th federal holiday, coming 38 years after the 10th—Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Day, which became an official holiday in 1983.

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Additionally, Juneteeth became a national holiday in large part due to the efforts of former teacher and racial justice advocate Opal Lee, who has been called the “grandmother of the movement” to get Juneteenth recognized on a national scale. The tenacious Texan campaigned to make Juneteenth a federal holiday for decades and her dream was finally realized June 19, 2021, when she was 94 years-old.

Where Is Juneteenth Celebrated?

Children at Juneteenth Celebration Marks Emancipation From Slavery

Juneteenth festivities occur in cities across America. A particularly big celebration happens each year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which has held Emancipation Day events since 1971. 

Other cities that hold impressive Juneteenth observances include Houston, Texas, where festivities have been held at Emancipation Park since 1872, drawing thousands of participants. Family friendly activities, concerts, and food keep attendees coming back each year to celebrate the abolition of slavery and Black American culture.

Philadelphia puts on an enormous parade to celebrate Emancipation Day that includes thousands of participants. Additionally, the festivities have included a Freedom Day March, art exhibits, and other events celebrating Black Americans and their history.

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In New Orleans, cultural events like film festivals and concerts dominate their Juneteenth celebrations. In Charleston, North Carolina, where many enslaved people first arrived in America, the Juneteenth Family Fest is held. Fireworks, drum lines, and a variety of musical performances are highlights of the yearly event.

Washington, DC, which made Juneteenth a city holiday beginning in 2004, also holds extensive celebrations. Events include dance, theater, and musical performances by Black artists and activities that celebrate and educate about Black American history.

Atlanta Georgia holds the Juneteenth Atlanta Parade and Music Festival annually to mark this holiday. Each year the festival has a new theme, fireworks displays, fun runs, genealogy sessions, and other activities. Multiple other cities also put on an annual Juneteenth music festival and parades, such as Denver, Colorado, and Memphis, Tennessee.

Primarily, Juneteenth is celebrated in the United States. However, other people and organizations throughout the world also observe the holiday to mark the end of slavery in America and honor the achievements and culture of Black Americans.

How Is Juneteeth Celebrated?

Young cheerleaders march during Juneteenth Parade

Early festivities include a range of events including prayer meetings, religious services, speeches, picnics, parties, dancing, and music. Today, similar activities continue to be popular ways to celebrate Juneteenth. Family gatherings are also commonly held to mark the occasion. Educational programming, sharing uplifting and positive quotes, and advocacy are also commonly a part of Emancipation Day activities.

Now that Juneteenth is a federal holiday, many people have the day off, which allows more people the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the anniversary and to attend and participate in Juneteenth events. 

What States in America Do Not Recognize Juneteenth?

49 of our 50 states recognize Emancipation Day. The outlier is South Dakota. Some efforts have been made to change this but so far they have been unsuccessful in getting a law passed to officially observe the holiday in the state. 

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However, while the holiday is now widely celebrated across the country, in some states, including Texas, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, it is illegal to teach about structural racism and critical-race theory in schools. This prohibition makes it challenging to teach about Juneteenth as much of the holiday’s lineage is directly tied to America’s history of slavery and the oppression of Black Americans.

Is Juneteenth a Paid Holiday?

Federal employees get Emancipation Day as a paid holiday. Businesses don’t have to give Juneteenth as a paid holiday or to pay overtime (time and a half) for those that have to work on that day. However, many employers do offer these benefits, particularly big companies, such as Nike and Target. 

Additionally some states (such as Texas, New York, Washington, and Illinois) and cities (such as Los Angeles) have made Juneteenth a paid holiday for their workers.

Why Is Juneteenth So Important?

Protester chant near the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. statue during a Juneteenth celebration

Juneteenth a important because it honors and draws attention to the truth about America’s history of racism and the legacy of slavery. At the same time, the holiday also celebrates the lives, achievements, and contributions of Black American and Black culture.

The holiday provides a yearly time to reflect on such figures as James Baldwin, Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, Oprah Winfrey, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Maya Angelou, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Sojourner Truth. It gives a chance to look at the challenges Black Americans have faced (and continue to face) as well as a moment to celebrate progress and positive thinking and strategies for the future.

Sometimes called “America’s second Independence Day,” Juneteenth provides a time to celebrate the end of slavery in America. The holiday looks to the future while also reflecting on the past, so that we never forget the struggles and injustice inflicted on enslaved peoples and the legacy of that pain and oppression that linger to this day on future generations and America’s culture at-large. Emancipation Day is also a moment to honor all the beauty, courage, and contributions of Black Americans.

tIn 1924, Their Land Was Taken Cause They Were Black – Today, Justice Was Served

You May Be Exercising at the Wrong Time, Says New Study – Here’s When to Work Out Instead

By | exercise, Food for thought, self

When it comes to exercise, any time you can devote is time well spent. Getting in a few good power walking sessions a week can do wonders for your heart health and blood pressure. A few minutes of daily stretching can help maintain flexibility and improve joint health. Even just two weight lifting sessions weekly can help you build and retain muscle.

The long and short of it is that some exercise is better than no exercise. Far better than that, though, is regular exercise. It’s almost impossible to overemphasize the benefits of regular exercise, which can help with weight regulation, energy levels, and mood on a day-to-day basis and can help you age gracefully, staying limber, agile, and healthy well into your older years.

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Not all of us have the benefit of a surplus of free time we can devote to exercise, though, so it’s a good idea to make the best use of the time we have and schedule in our workouts at a time when the exercise will be most beneficial. Because, per the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Physiology, as a recent study conducted by health and physiology experts from New York’s Skidmore College found, the time at which a person exercises has a direct effect on how beneficial the exercise is.

But the time of day at which a person exercises is not the only factor to consider when wondering what is the best time for a workout.

In fact, there are two major factors that indicate when the best time to exercise is for a given individual: the first is that person’s specific goals – what they hope to achieve from their regimen, e.g. The second factor depends on whether the individual is biologically male or female. 

We’ll talk about the specifics of the best times for exercise soon, but first we’ll lay out the broad strokes of the study.

A Quick Look at Study on Best Times for Exercise

young woman on the floor exercises
(Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash)

The research team led by doctors from Skidmore College recruited around 30 men and 30 woman all between the ages of 25 and 55. All study participants were already in relatively good shape and were considered active and healthy. The researchers would follow the study participants for 12 weeks as one group exercised for an hour before 8:30 in the morning, while the other group worked out between six and eight in the evening.

Both the morning and evening exercise groups completed the same types of fitness regimens, and all participants stuck to a carefully crafted dietary plan. One unsurprising but still heartening finding at the end of the three-month period was that all study participants saw an improvement in their physical health (and their mental well-being, to be sure, but this was not part of the study).

What was of particular note to the researchers was how clearly the time of day of exercise did have an impact on different people. Those findings, while preliminary and in need of more support from larger and more longitudinal studies, can provide some actionable insight for people looking to maximize the efficacy of their own workouts.

When Should Women Targeting Belly Fat Exercise?


The study found that women who exercised in the morning saw the most marked reduction of abdominal fat and the largest drop in blood pressure. Both of these improvements are significant, as both can have long-term deleterious health effects.

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Belly fat builds up around organs like the liver and can, over time, impact proper organ function. And of course the dangers of high blood pressure, which can lead to myriad health problems and literally shorten a person’s life, are well documented.

When Should Women Wanting to Build Muscle and Elevate Mood Exercise?

silhouette running at sunset

Women less concerned with belly fat and blood pressure and more interested in building muscle – especially upper body strength – will see the most benefit from exercising in the evening, the study found.

For women, evening workouts also led to better mood enhancement and helped with regulation of food intake.

young man prepares to lift

Men who exercised in the evening saw the best improvement in heart health and metabolic health – which essentially refers to how effectively the body processes the nutrients introduced to it and can be directly related to ailments like diabetes, stroke, kidney issues, and obesity.

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So men looking for longer-term health benefits may want to consider exercising later in the day.

Men with other goals for their fitness routines can work out essentially any time of day and enjoy the same benefits, with sticking to a regular routine being more important than the time of day at which the workouts take place. Thus if building muscle, improving cardiovascular health, or training for a specific goal, like a marathon, exercise timing is not as much of a factor for men as it is for women.

The Best Time to Exercise Can Change – And That’s Okay

woman leads an exercise class
(Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash)

As you plan out your ideal exercise regimen with time of day factored in, keep in mind that the exercise timing that works best for you now may be different in the future. A woman who first wants to shed abdominal fat and then build up muscle, for example, may want to commit to several months of morning workouts and then shift to working out later in the day once her goals shift from fat loss to muscle gain.

Men, on the other hand, may want to work toward specific fitness goals by exercising at any time that works for them and then shift to later in the day workouts once their goals are met, as these later workouts can have the best effects on long-term health.

But again, the best time for exercise is any time you can devote to it, so don’t skip a workout just because it’s not technically the ideal exercise timing for your goal.


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This TikTok and Twitter Move Can Actually Help Your Mind – But Not Everyone Can Do It

By | Food for thought, mental health, self

Almost all of us use social media these days. According to studies, well over 90% of people in some age groups are regular social media users, be their platform of choice TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or others – or multiple different platforms, of course. 

With that use of social media can come plenty of pleasure, but also a lot of pressure. When we are constantly bombarded with perfectly posed pictures, with posts getting thousands of likes and shares, and generally with images or videos of people (ostensibly) living their best lives, we feel compelled to match them.

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What’s the best way to engage with social media? To try to post even more and better content? To check your various feeds even more often to make sure you never miss anything?

Actually, the best thing you can do for yourself social media wise has nothing to do with how you frame your pictures, how many Likes your post gets, or how many followers you accrue – the best thing you can do is simply to stop using any of it for an entire week.

How can we say that with such certainty? Because a recent study found an undeniable cause-and-effect relationship between take a week-long break from social media and a better sense of mental and emotional well-being.

phone being held outdoors in times square new york
(Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash)

Social media is addictive. That has been demonstrated time and time again in study after study, and if you’re honest and clear-eyed with yourself, you probably don’t even need a clinical and peer-reviewed study to tell you that – just imagine going without a scroll of Insta or a few Likes here and there on FB or some TikTok rabbit holes and chances are your pulse will quicken.

It’s no surprise why so many people are, at least to some degree, dependent on social media: it can be fun, it can be a distraction, it can be scintillating, it can be heartwarming. And what’s more, social media platforms are designed to be addictive; the algorithms choosing what content to serve you are designed to keep you hooked for as long as possible and keep you coming back as often as possible.

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If you’re spending a glut of time on social media – just like the platforms want you to – then chances are you are doing yourself a disservice, mental health-wise. Why? Because for many people, social media is more than just a time suck, it can literally damage your wellbeing.

depressed young man sits on couch holding face
(Photo by Nik Shuliahin 💛💙 on Unsplash)

An overuse of social media can cause depression and anxiety; that has been proven by rigorous scientific research and studies, and the effects are especially severe in younger social media users. And we’re not talking about just feeling a bit down for a bit of time, when we say depression, we mean the actual clinical term referring to a protracted state of low motivation, low energy, sadness, a lack of pleasure in life, and even thoughts of self-harm.

Anxiety, often paired with depression but distinct from it, refers to a state of worry and fear so elevated that it precludes many normal, meaningful engagements in life, preventing a person from doing things, going places, and seeing people that would otherwise bring them joy and satisfaction.

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In other words, depression and anxiety are real problems, and they can be caused or worsened by too much social media consumption.

Fortunately, a social media break of as little as one weeks’ time can reset the effects social media has on your well-being.

young person sits on the floor reading a book
(Photo by Blaz Photo on Unsplash)

If you’re worried that quitting social media for a week will be hard for you, you’re probably right – it will be. At least on day one, and maybe days two and three, too. But by day seven, it’s almost certain you’ll be glad you took the time. So plan ahead how to make this break happen.

The first thing to do is prepare yourself mentally. Try to get your thinking into a place of gaining more time, more peace, and more focus in your day instead of losing your social media time. Then try to go for longer than usual without checking any social media even before you forgo it fully for the week. 

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And don’t forget to tell a select group of people about your plans. If you interact with anyone on a daily (or very regular) basis, let them know you’re intentionally going dark for a week; that way, they won’t worry about your sudden absence, and furthermore they won’t try to contact you about your social media silence, a contact that could well draw you back into the very orbits from which you’re trying to break away.

During your week away from all social media, make sure you’re not dwelling on its absence and waiting to get it back. You can do this by trying something comforting, like a favorite hobby or reading or exercise. Or you can try something new, also, to get your mind off the absence. Or get out there and have some actual social experiences with friends or family or even meeting new people. 

If you’re having struggles with the process, indulge in some self-care, be it in the form of meditation, a massage, a floating session, or just a quiet night relaxing at home. And don’t be too hard on yourself if this is a surprisingly hard process for you. Remember, you are effectively breaking a cycle of addiction, so it’s no shame in it being a challenge to take a week off from social media.

laughing couple looks at entertainment on phone
(Photo by Karthik Balakrishnan on Unsplash)

There are a lot of great things about social media. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram make it easier than ever to keep up with friends and family. Twitter lets you follow celebrities and politicians and authors and more with a sense of familiarity never before imagined. TikTok can introduce you to some hilarious content from some hilarious people. In short, your daily time on social media can be like a daily dose of happiness – and literally so, when social media engagement releases some dopamine into your brain.

You just have to make sure that when you do get back to social media use after your week off, you reengage with some new boundaries for yourself. Don’t start scrolling and tapping when you’re angry or said, as social media use an amplify these negative emotions. And don’t go on Instagram or TikTok or any of it when you have things that should take higher priority in your non-virtual life. 

Used like a spice, social media will enhance your happiness, bringing interesting people, places, and things right to your phone or computer screen; overused, and social media can sour your every day. And week. And month, and on it goes.


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What Is BeReal – And Is the ‘Authenticity-Focused’ Social Media App Really Healthier Than Instagram?

By | Food for thought, mental health, self

If there’s one thing social media doesn’t have a lot of these days it’s authenticity. Even the accounts that promote keeping it real are usually peppered with filtered, carefully chosen and often sponsored posts. Our feeds used to be filled with friends. Now they’re crowded with influencers, celebrities and brands. 

Many people are over the idea of scrolling through other people’s most outstanding moments and just want to see something genuine. But can a social media app really be authentic? 

That’s what the app BeReal hopes to accomplish by providing a platform for users to show their true selves, not curated content. Here’s the lowdown on this app and why it might be a healthier alternative to Instagram. 

What is BeReal?

BeReal is a relatively new social media app that’s grounded in the idea of authenticity. It was founded in January 2020 by former GoPro employee Alexis Barreyat and now has around three million users. (Since April of this year, BeReal has been ranked in the top 10 of free iPhone social networking apps almost every day.) Its reviews are overwhelmingly positive so far.

The app is simple: Each day, users can take a photo that shows both their front-facing and back-facing cameras—like what a FaceTime screenshot looks like—which then gets posted to their feeds. There are no filters, no photo editing and no ads. The amount of retakes you can snap are also limited. 

The idea behind all of this? To create a social media experience that’s more authentic and less curated. 

How Does BeReal Work?

So, we know that you can use the app to post an unfiltered photo that shows your point of view from your front-facing and back-facing camera simultaneously. But there’s a little more to BeReal than that.

First, the app limits when you can post. Here’s how it works: Once a day, users receive a notification that they now have two minutes to take a picture and post it. The time of day is random. If you miss your two minute window, or opt to post later when you’re doing something more interesting, your friends will know that you didn’t snap your picture at the so-called “right time.” But, after all, the theme of the app is transparency and authenticity so disclosing this information is very on brand. 

If you don’t upload your photo, then you can’t see what your friends have taken and posted. This limits lurkers on the app—everyone has to participate to see the content, unlike apps like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. 

Is BeReal Better for You Than Instagram?

(Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash)

The big question of course is if BeReal is better for your psyche—and your soul—than the big social media platforms, particularly Instagram since that one has a similar format of posting images into a feed. Because of the constraints on how and when you can use the app, it does seem like BeReal could be a better option for people’s mental health. Here are some key reasons why:

It’s designed to be more authentic

The sentiment behind this app is to focus on realty, while Instagram is all about aspiration. BeReal isn’t a way to show others your highlight reel. It’s not presenting a curated selection of photos that only presents a slice of your real life. Instead, it encourages users to post about the mundane: You might see your friends sitting at their work desks, eating breakfast, lounging on the couch watching Netflix or waiting for a dentist appointment. 

On BeReal, there are likely to be fewer images of people partying on boats, enjoying a bespoke brunch or wandering idyllic, quaint towns in their best boho chic outfits since most people don’t spend the majority of their time doing these things. The format of the picture—having to see your face and what you’re taking a photo of—also adds to the realness. 

It doesn’t allow filters

BeReal’s authenticity mission extends to how you look in your photos, not just how and when you post photos.You may be unshowered, face free of makeup, hair messy or have food in your teeth. Plus, you can’t smooth out your wrinkles or blur your face to make yourself appear quote-unquote “better” looking. While Instagram gives users the option to pretty much recreate their entire face and environment (since you can edit your pictures within the app or by using other tools before uploading) BeReal doesn’t. 

It’s less pressure — and more fun

There’s no expectation for your photos (or your face) to look a certain way on BeReal. Everyone else is posting the actual reality of their lives—not just the highlights—so there’s little pressure to show off the best version of yourself or your environment. To try to would defeat the whole purpose of the app. This makes the app more fun since you actually get to see what your friends are up to each day without feeling jealous or less than if your life doesn’t seem to measure up to theirs. 

It limits mindless scrolling

(Photo by Plann on Unsplash)

Because BeReal limits when and how you can post, there is less content in your feed than on other social media apps. You can only see what your friends post (and only if you post a photo yourself) so there’s less of an opportunity to go down a rabbit hole of mindless scrolling on your phone. This prevents the app from being just another time suck and encourages you to get off your phone and live your life. 

It doesn’t have an advertising platform

As of now, BeReal doesn’t show ads, only your friends’ content. There are no sponsored posts or interstitials getting you to buy things or showcasing supposedly more ideal existences. (Remember when Instagram and Facebook were like this?) There’s no pressure to click and no annoying sales pitches. Just you and your friends and your daily lives. 

Only time will tell if BeReal will indeed be successful and overtake more traditional social media apps. But as younger generations get more vocal about wanting authentic social media experiences, this app (and others like it) will likely gain popularity. 

After all, most of us came to social media to connect with friends, not to be influenced or to be sold products and lifestyles. Many of us are tired of seeing curated feeds of filtered faces that don’t show true authenticity. A lot of people just want to keep it real these days—and expect others to do the same.