What You Could Have Been Doing While You Were on Facebook

technologyThere’s loads of literature out there urging people today to get off their computers (those handheld iPhones count), and out into the world. Your grandparents might argue that staring at a computer is rotting your brain. The first lady might say that it’s stealing time away from being active for our children. You might even recognize the brain fry in yourself – that numbed, dazed feeling you get after playing a few too many rounds of candy crush. Now a recent study completed at the Technology Policy Institute in DC has quantified exactly what people are missing out on when they spend time surfing the internet, chatting online, or using computers for non-work leisure (e.g., iPhone games). Here’s what you’re missing out on when you’re scrolling through your facebook feed for the 20th time today.

Of the five hours the average American has for any leisure time in a given day, surprisingly only an average of 13 minutes is spent online during those leisure hours. However, in each minute that people spend using a computer for leisure, they sacrifice leisure time in several specific areas. There was 16 fewer seconds worked, 7 fewer seconds spent sleeping, 6 fewer seconds experiencing travel, 4 fewer seconds completing chores, and 3 fewer seconds educating themselves. If you up the amount of time spent on the computer for leisure, the amount of time stolen from other activities increases. It also tends to cut back on the amount of leisure time you have to socialize off line (read: face to face with your friends). So next time you feel like aimlessly cruising the internet in your free time, think about that activities you’re giving up, and decide if it’s really worth the trade off.

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How to Kick the Sunday Night Blues

sunday nightAfter a weekend packed with fun activities, and relaxation with friends and family, many in the Monday-Friday 9-5 set find themselves experiencing an odd feeling on Sunday night. It’s technically still the weekend, but instead of enjoying that carefree feeling, many adults feel gloomy and anticipate the stress of the week on Sunday night or evening. This phenomenon is called the Sunday Night Blues, and 78% of people surveyed said they had experienced it. It can strike even people who love their jobs, but may experience high pressure or stress from balancing work with family during the weekdays. But you don’t have to sacrifice those last precious hours to anxiety or sleepless nights. Instead, use the following strategies recommended by experts, and go enjoy that football game!

First you should try to keep busy with activities that you enjoy. This will help distract your mind from the problems of the work week, and focus you in on hobbies or friendships that fulfill you.  If feelings of dread begin to set in, try writing down how you feel, the things that are bothering you, and a potential solution. This will help you get the stress out of your system, and also to set the scope of the problem – hopefully to realize it’s not an insurmountable issue. Then, turn off your electronics. Part of the reason so many experience Sunday stress is because thanks to technology, work lives can easily creep into home lives via blackberries and constant access to email or work demands. By disconnecting on the weekends, you can recharge for the week ahead rather than prolonging stress. Make plans in the future that you’re excited about. If you have a fun Tuesday night activity to look forward to, making it through 8 hours to get there might not seem so bad. It can be as simple as meeting a friend for dinner or deciding to watch a show you love. Finally, you should get organized on Friday afternoon before you leave work so that you know that when you come in Monday things will be orderly, and easy to pick up where you left off with clear objectives for the week. Nothing is more stressful than walking in to chaos on a Monday morning.

Selfies are Not Just on Instagram Anymore

selfie

The selfie, a word that a few years back didn’t mean a whole lot, is now so embedded in our culture, and so ubiquitous that a museum exhibit is devoted to it. I remember the days of self-portraits with your friends when you still used film.  You would pick your friend with the longest arms, try to get your heads as close together as you could, and hope for the best. Now with all the improved camera technology, you can flip our iPhones to see your own face while taking the picture, and cameras with a digital display on the front let you make sure you’re in the frame before snapping the photo. The digital photo allows for unlimited iterations until you’ve captured the perfect shot. Then with all the online photo sharing on facebook, twitter, and instagram, there are loads of ways to show the world your selfies instantly. Celebs do it, you have at least one friend who is always clogging your feed with selfies, and you’ve probably done it at least once too. The selfie is officially, and unavoidably a thing. To commemorate this new custom, the National #Selfie Gallery will be on display at London’s Moving Image Contemporary Art Fair. And for all of you vine users, don’t worry, there will be short video selfies too from artists around the United States and Europe who were selected for their humor and poetry (all wrapped up in an eyebrow raise and duck face). Now there’s something to work towards the next time you post a #selfie online.

Training Your Brain for Happiness

brainIt always seems easier to remember the bad things that happen in a day than the good things. You remember the downpour that ruined your hair on your commute to work more easily than the lovely lunch you had with a co-worker. Neuropsychologists confirm that this is normal, the brain’s “negativity bias” that helped our ancestors survive by programing them to constantly be on the lookout for bad things that might put them in danger. However, that trait brought into the less risky 21st century can make it difficult for people to stay in, and embrace their positive experiences since we experience them more fleetingly. The brain can become hardwired to look at things in a certain light, and is more likely to look on the bright side (or the dark side) based on how long the neurons are firing, or how long you are experiencing either positive or negative feelings.

Since we have a natural tendency to relive the bad more than the good, neuropsychologist Rick Hanson suggests that in order to program your brain for happiness, you need to actively take a few steps. First, you need to actively look for good experiences, the little nice things that happen each day. Then when you find one, focus in on it. Try to approach the good things in life with enthusiasm, and try new things that will make you happy.  Finally, be mindful and try to really focus on living in the moment. All of these will create more lasting happy memories in the brain, and make you more likely to notice, and experience everyday happiness in the future.

BlingSting Makes Staying Safe Chic

bling stingWhen I went off to college in the big city from my small town, my mom was sure to equip me (and any of my friends who would take it) with pepper spray for our key chains. Usually it was this huge ugly bright orange thing that would not only be sure to tip your assailant off that he was about to get sprayed if you reached for it, but was also really obvious and prone to being confiscated at events or amusement parks. Now a girl can feel safe and look cute with Bling Sting – pepper spray packaged as an accessory. It looks like a pretty lip gloss or purse ornament, but packs a punch. It comes in pink, silver, red, and black jeweled cases OR you can buy the gift set of all four so you have some to share with friends. Just be sure to check the State Regs tab, to make sure that shipping pepper spray  isn’t banned in your state. Go buy yours here!

Revlon and Marchesa Bringing High Fashion to Your Nails

revlonNail art is so hot right now, and unlike the acrylic tips that were popular when I was in high school, this trend doesn’t ruin your nails. People apply pretty designs by hand painting them onto nails using different polish colors, or use the pre-made nail stickers that last anywhere from 7-10 days. Now Revlon is teaming up with Marchesa to bring a little bit of the runway to your local drug store. Each design is inspired by one of Marchesa’s runway looks, and can be purchases for $9.99. Check out the features on them on Self and Elle!

On Vacation

austin

As you read this, I am on vacation enjoying the beautiful music of Austin City Limits music festival with two of my best friends. It’s a festival I have wanted to go to for years. Everyone I ask about the city has nothing but good things to say.

In all of the recommendations I have gotten, it seems there is quite the food scene in Austin. I am working through a list that includes favorites like Stubbs, Frank, Chuys, and Ironworks. And to add to all that, there is soo much good food at the festival itself, and in websites like this and this.

If you were going to Austin, Texas, what would you do?