Tag: life upgrades

Unusual Ways To Soothe A Sunburn You Won’t Believe Actually Work

How far would you be willing to go to ease the pain of a nasty sunburn? By the looks of it, you might end up in a very unorthodox bathtub situation.

Soak in milk

Soaking in milk will have a drawing effect on a burn—it’s due to the pH, fat, and cold temperatures,” says Francesca Fusco, MD of Wexler Dermatology in New York City.

If you don’t have enough milk handy to fill up an entire basin, simply soak a washcloth in a bowl of cool milk, then gently lay the milky compresses on the burnt areas of your body.

The milk will help create a protein film along your skin that reduces heat, pain, and sensitivity.




Refrigerate a tub of Vaseline

When you have a sunburn, it is important to keep your skin well-hydrated and moisturized, as it will improve the pain and accelerate the healing process,” says Samer Jaber, MD of Washington Square Dermatology in New York City.

A great trick is putting Vaseline in the refrigerator for a few minutes so it goes on cold. The cold will soothe your sunburn, and the Vaseline will help restore your skin barrier, improving the healing process.

Take an oatmeal bath

One of the worst side effects of a bad sunburn is the insatiable urge to itch peeling skin. To stop yourself and soothe the burn, run a lukewarm bath and add at least one cup of finely ground oats.

Use your hand to swirl the water and distribute the oatmeal, then soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

Oatmeal is a humectant, meaning it helps moisturize skin, and it contains inflammation-quelling compounds,” Ranella Hirsch, MD, a Boston-based dermatologist, told Prevention.

You’ll enjoy the itching relief so much that you’ll probably want to repeat this oatmeal bath a few times a day.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is something of a miracle home remedy when it comes to rashes and burns.

This is because, as an anti-fungal and antiseptic liquid, apple cider vinegar can be used to detoxify your skin.

Simply dab a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar onto your sunburn (do this directly or using a cotton ball). It will not only clean the problem area, but also rehydrate the skin by restoring your pH levels.

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How To Keep Your Sensitive Files Safe In The Cloud

As some starlets found out the hard way over the weekend, just because you upload private files to the cloud it doesn’t mean they’re safe.

Computer systems can (and will) be broken into, and that cool, convenient cloud can quickly become the storm that rains on your parade.

Everyone has sensitive files they’d like to keep private: medical records, love letters, tax documents, and, yes, maybe even the occasional image of you or a loved one au naturale.




The problem is, once you upload files to the cloud, you give up some control over who can see them.

But there are some steps you can take to keep your most private data safe from prying eyes. All it requires a little diligence and time.

Check your phone’s settings

If you have cloud apps installed on your phone, there’s a good chance they are automatically uploading every photo you take to the cloud. Dropbox, Google+, and iCloud do this by default.

That sounds scary, but it’s actually meant to be a convenience: If your phone gets wiped, destroyed, or stolen, you still have the photos online.

But this means you really have to think before you take each shot. If the subject matter of your images isn’t something you’d share, open your app settings, look for automatic photo upload, and toggle it off.

 

And remember deleting an image from your phone doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone from the cloud, too.

We had some of the PCWorld staff test various services, and Google+ kept a photo in the cloud even after it was deleted from the phone’s gallery.

If you want that photo to be gone for good, be sure to log into the cloud service and check manually. As a wise Marine sergeant once said to me: Inspect, don’t expect.

And while you’re at it, encrypt your phone’s storage so that if it’s stolen, the data stored on it stays private.

Encrypt your sensitive files

Sure, you could keep all your files locally, but sometimes you have to share them or otherwise make them available online. Encryption offers the best protection when you do.

There are many ways to encrypt files nowadays, but I’ve got the three methods you should be aware of. Each has its own features, uses, and limitations.

Easy mode: 7-Zip

7-Zip is a quick-and-dirty way to encrypt your files in an archive. The 7z format supports AES 256-bit encryption, which is plenty strong for most purposes. The files in the archive are encrypted using a passphrase.

For Windows, download the 7-Zip software from the project’s website. The installation should only take a few seconds.

Once installed, Windows’ File Explorer (Windows Explorer for Windows 7 users) will have a 7-Zip submenu added to the context menu.

Keeping your digital life private isn’t that hard, but it does take a little effort. If you use good judgement, keep aware of your device settings, and follow the security measures outlined here, you won’t get caught with your pants down.

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Here’s Why Naps Are Really Good For You, According to Science

You may be familiar with that feeling of overwhelming sleepiness during the mid-afternoon.

It’s common, occurs whether you’ve eaten lunch or not, and is caused by a natural dip in alertness from about 1 to 3pm. So, if you find yourself fighting off sleep in the middle of the day and you’re somewhere where you can have a nap, then do it.

Taking the time for a brief nap will relieve the sleepiness almost immediately and improve alertness for several hours after waking. And there are many other benefits too.




Understanding why we nap

People nap for lots of reasons, some which are:

  • to catch up on lost sleep
  • in anticipation of sleep loss to avoid feeling sleepy later on
  • for enjoyment, boredom or to pass time.

Napping is relatively common. In fact, about 50 percent of us report taking a nap at least once per week.

Napping rates are greater in countries like Greece, Brazil and Mexico that have a culture of siesta, which incorporate “quiet time” in the early afternoon for people to go home for a nap. In such countries, up to 72 percent of people will nap as often as four times per week.

The perks of napping

Naps are not only beneficial because they make us feel less sleepy and more alert, but because they improve our cognitive functioning, reaction times, short-term memory and even our mood.

Our research (not yet published) has found those who regularly nap report feeling more alert after a brief nap in the afternoon when compared to those who only nap occasionally.

How long should a nap be?

The amount of time you spend napping really depends on the time you have available, how you want the nap to work for you, and your plans for the coming night. Generally speaking, the longer a nap is, the longer you will feel rejuvenated after waking.

Long naps of one to two hours during the afternoon will mean you are less sleepy (and require less sleep) that night. This could mean it will take longer than usual to fall asleep.

If you are planning to stay up later than usual, or if taking a little longer to fall asleep at bedtime is not bothersome, time your nap for about 1.5 hours.

This is the length of a normal sleep cycle. You will experience deep sleep for about an hour or so followed by light sleep for the last half an hour.

Waking up during light sleep will leave you feeling refreshed and alert. However, waking during deep sleep will not.

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The Truth About Speed Reading

Speed reading has long been a skill peddled by supposed experts, and recently a slew of cheap apps claiming to teach the technique have put it back in the spotlight.

So, let’s take a look at the claims of speed reading and if it’s really possible to read 1,200 words a minute.

Most of us tend to read at about 200-400 words per minute. Speed readers claim to hit around 1000-1700 words per minute.




To get a better idea of whether these claims have research to back them up, I spoke with professor and eye tracking researcher Keith Rayner from the University of California, San Diego.

Let’s start by taking a look at different methods of speed reading before we dig into what does and doesn’t work about it.

Different Methods of Speed Reading

Before we can talk about speed reading, we need to lay down the specifics of how we tend to read and comprehend text normally.

Speed readers supposedly shorten how long they fixate on a word. They tend to do this by cutting down on subvocalization. The end goal being faster than the 0.3-0.5 seconds listed above.

The idea of speed reading has been around since the 1950s, but it’s seeing a revival recently with many apps popping up in the last few weeks.

As you’d expect, speed reading has a few different popular methods, but most fall into a couple different systems. These methods include skimming, meta guiding, Rapid Serial Visual Presentation, and others.

Skimming is to glance through text to find important parts to read. Although this is usually considered a speed reading method, you’re not teaching yourself to read faster.

You’re just learning which parts you can skip over. As you’d expect, studies show that we don’t remember that many details when we skim.

Another method pushes you “read” multiple lines at once by expanding your peripheral vision. Tim Ferriss has a speed reading technique that riffs on this idea and trains your focus more than anything else.

Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) is a method used by most of the recent digital speed reading systems. Single words flash on the screen so you’re concentrating on a single word at a time.

Speed reading is a nice idea, and the ability to see 1000 words a minute is possible. However, you don’t truly understand those words.

Research is pretty limited here, but Keith Rayner’s “Eye movements and information processing during reading” is one of the more comprehensive looks at how our eyes work when we’re reading.

Studies show that as reading speed increases, comprehension drops. This means you’re not taking in the information, which defeats the purpose of reading.

With RSVP (and the apps that use it) you don’t have the ability to look back to reread text and you overload short term memory so you don’t remember as much.

Of course, counter arguments exist. Most recently, research conducted by the speed reading app Spritz counters Rayner’s research.

Spritz claims that since their system allows your eyes to rest on a single point you can read faster. That could be true, but it doesn’t account for Rayner’s working memory problem.

So, in short: Speed reading anything you need to truly comprehend is probably a bad idea.

However, if you have a few documents you need to get through or you’re reading something that isn’t that important, these methods can still be worthwhile.

Just know that you won’t become a super-fast reading comprehension machine.

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Learn How to Sleep on Your Back (It Isn’t Easy)

If you’re able to sleep on your back, you’re one of the few. Only 14% of us sleep on our backs. What’s so great about it?

Back sleeping can help to reduce back and neck pain, minimize the effects of acid reflux, decrease wrinkles, and even help to maintain perky breasts.

While back sleeping can exacerbate snoring issues for some and isn’t recommended during pregnancy, it’s considered the healthiest way to sleep.




Sleeping this way makes it easy for your head, neck, and spine to maintain a neutral position; they’re in near ideal alignment when lying on a flat surface. Most doctors and sleep experts recommend it–if you can pull it off.

It’s possible to learn how to sleep on your back, but it’s not easy for everyone.

How to Sleep on Your Back–First a Few Tips:

  • Use positioning pillows. Extra pillows in the bed can help to keep your body positioned in whatever specific way works best for you. A pillow under each arm is a preferred technique, but do whatever works for you.
  • Keep a pillow under your knees to help maintain proper alignment of your back. This can help if you’re experiencing any lower back discomfort.
  • Be persistent. Always roll to your back when you catch yourself positioned otherwise.
  • Use a pillow that will hold your head in place. What’s the best pillow for back sleepers? A malleable type like a buckwheat pillow works well. It will prevent your head from rolling from side to side and give you the best support.

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Social Media Is Making You Depressed: Let’s Learn To Turn It Off

Do Facebook and Twitter make us happier? The answer it would seem is: no. A recent survey found as many as one in five people say they feel depressed as a result of using social media.

That might come as a surprise to the generation under 30; social media is part of their DNA and teenagers are rapidly losing the ability to communicate if not through their smartphones.

But the stress of constantly monitoring our statuses and endlessly documenting every aspect of our lives via networks like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram is taking its toll.




Employers claim many school leavers are unprepared for the world of work, where they will have to interact with people outside their peer group and actually speak face-to-face with total strangers.

Meanwhile, there have been countless academic studies since 2015 on the negative impacts of social media, showing that its regular use leads to feelings of anxiety, isolation and low self-esteem, not to mention poor sleep.

We use these outlets to present a false picture of our lives to the online community; with flattering selfies and faux-glamorous images of holidays, parties and meals.

It’s as if we’re starring in a movie of the life we’d like to lead, not the humdrum one we actually inhabit. An underwhelming number lack of shares or ‘likes’ can lead to debilitating feelings of inadequacy.

We post intimate fragments of our lives to total strangers, falsely believing that a ‘friend’ online is a real friend whose opinions matter.

As for Twitter, it is a vehicle for screaming, nothing more and nothing less. Best not to read tweets if you are of a vulnerable disposition.

Twitter has an effect on one’s disposition; augmenting anger and upset. Many of the women I know have come off Twitter because of the constant abuse that waits every time they pick up their phone or log in to their computer.

The latest fashion among hipsters is to have a ‘digital-free’ home. That could be a good move.

Arianna Huffington has just written a book (The Sleep Revolution) citing experts who say there should be no screens in the bedroom and we shouldn’t use social media in the hour before lights-out.

How many times have we read a message on our phones and then spent hours in turmoil? Social media never switches off: someone, somewhere, is posting pictures, comments or messages, asking you to join a chat or wade in with an opinion.

No wonder many teenagers suffer from what shrinks call “decision paralysis”. The options are simply too enormous for any human brain to deal with.

For many people (not just teenagers), it seems the only way we can validate ourselves is though a screen, a habit which is just as bad for our health as over-indulging in drink or drugs.

And just as addictive.

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The Complete Guide To Breaking Your Smartphone Habit

Smartphones are magical.

A device that’s small enough to fit in your pocket, allows you to instantly communicate with virtually anyone on earth, take breathtaking photos, and access humanity’s collected knowledge. Amazing!

But like any magical implement, the smartphone’s power can be so consuming that all you want to do is stare into its comforting, glowing, little screen.

Unsurprisingly a growing number of people feel disconcerted with the insatiable pull their phones exercise on them, and are unhappy with the amount of time and attention they give to these devices in return.

Below are such a game plan with all the tools and techniques you might consider implementing in order to get a handle on your smartphone habit.




The Negative Effects of Chronic Smartphone Use

For many folks, checking and twiddling with their smartphone has become a habit boarding on addiction.

Yet research shows that heavy smartphone use can also have a deleterious effect on several different aspects of our lives:

  • Loss of empathy and connection with others
  • Loss of sleep.
  • Loss of focus and the ability to do deep, meaningful work.
  • Loss of the ability to be fully present in your life.

How to Break the Smartphone Habit

Are you tired of being unable to really engage in conversations with your friends because you’re always checking your phone?

Do you feel guilty about how often your kids catch you staring at a screen when you should be interacting with them?

Are you sick of ending each day bemoaning your utter lack of focus and productivity at work, and how little progress you’re making on your goals?

While the bad news is that chronic smartphone use can have a negative impact on your life, the good news is that research demonstrates that the restless, distraction-producing itch they exercise on us can be reversed.

It just takes some work and discipline to get a handle on your habit. Here’s how to do it:

  • Perform an Audit on Your Cell Phone Use
    The first step in breaking the smartphone habit is to measure how much time you’re actually spending on your phone throughout the day.Just seeing hard numbers on how much time you’re spending on your phone can affect your use.
  • Going Nuclear, or Getting a “Dumbphone
    It’s been a week, and you have a good idea of how much you’re using your smartphone and what apps you’re using.Maybe you’re so appalled by the results of your smartphone audit that you decide the best course of action is to completely chuck your smartphone altogether and downgrade to a rudimentary “dumbphone” that just allows you to make calls and send simple text messages.
  • Making Your Smartphone Dumber
    After seriously considering ditching the smartphone, you’ve decided owning a dumbphone just isn’t going to be a viable option for you.Maybe your work requires you to answer email from your phone and use other apps. Or maybe you like being able to snap high-quality pics of your kids using your phone’s built-in camera.The question then becomes how do you take advantage of all the benefits that come with your smartphone while not getting sucked into the smartphone-checking habit? The answer is to make your smartphone dumber.

  • Turn off notifications
    The easiest thing you can do to instantly reduce the itch to check your smartphone is to turn off notifications.One of the things that makes these devices so irresistible to check are the pings, buzzes, and flashing lights that go off whenever you get a new email.You can curb this technological salivation by getting rid of notifications. You’ll be amazed how this one little change will dramatically reduce how often you check your smartphone.
  • Turn off cellular data and wifi
    Let’s assume you’ve turned off notifications, but you still have the itch to pick up your phone to check email or other apps.You can change the settings on your smartphone to make it temporarily dumb for certain periods of time.  All you need to do is turn off your cellular data and wifi.When you turn these services off, you’ll still be able to make calls and send simple text messages.

I hope this guide will help you get a handle on your own smartphone habit, so you can use your phone in a way that maximizes its benefits and minimizes its drawbacks.

Give these apps and techniques a try if you’re looking to be a more productive, industrious, and successful man.

Be the master of your technology, not its slave!

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Pass it on: Popular Science