The Different Ways Music Can Affect Us

Whether you want to sing to Stefanie Sun’s ballads, rock it out to Ronin and A Vacant Affair, or simply listen to classical pieces, music has a great effect on us as humans. There are songs that we can sing to when we are sad, while we are studying, when we are in love or heartbroken, even songs to dance to. Music can affect our mind, mood, and emotions in a lot of ways.

Memory

It has been found that many parts of the brain are involved when it comes to musical, also those that can specifically link music to memories. How music affects memory, though, comes from the state of relaxation we get from it, especially in classical music or just any music we like for that matter. One of the main causes of memory loss is stress. When we are stressed out, our brain carries an unnecessary burden. Listening to music can help to counter that because it keeps us calm and prompts the brain to let go of unwanted stress. Music that people are familiar with or those they particularly like can help reconnect people with their memories of the past.

Mood

Music has a vivid structure that engages the mind and arouses our emotions and mood, either for the better or for worse.  This simply means that music can affect our mood in a lot of different ways. Sometimes we can even feel more than one emotion in a song. When we listen to music, there is an increase in the amount of dopamine in our brain, which triggers both our reward and pleasure centers and leaving us in a better mood. Furthermore, music does not only affect how we will feel, but we also tend to choose to listen to music that fits with the mood we are already in. Whether it is being played or listened to by someone, music can always affect a person’s mood in some way.

Learning

A central idea in learning is that any kind of distraction can interfere with memory formation. When lyrics are present, the brain is dragged into to hear the words and thinking about their meaning. These thought processes will interfere with trying to memorize new information or recall previously learned. That is why it is not recommended to listen to songs with lyrics, even though many would say they feel okay with it. Classical music like that of Bach’s and Mozart’s have been observed to work particularly well with focus and concentration. Even upbeat popular music can motivate learning, especially the ones that encourage positive thinking. All in all, slower music can promote calmness and focus, while fast-paced music can help keep you alert.

7 Ways to Protect Your Eyes and Maintain Good Vision

Protecting our eyesight is one of the most important things to do for us to live well, especially as we age. But sometimes it is easily taken for granted, causing some problems and complications. But there are many things we can do protect our eyes. And here are only a few of those ways.

  1. Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep is important to keep our eyes protected from too much strain. It is even said that our eyes need at least five hours of sleep to rest and replenish. With too much strain, the blood vessels in our eyes could reach its limit, resulting to more complicated eye problems. That is why we should try to get a lot of sleep and look for times to rest our eyes throughout the day.

  • Exercise

Aside from keeping our physical being healthy and strong, regular exercise can also give benefits to our eyes. Although it doesn’t really affect our eyesight directly, it may address other issues that can be connected to our eyes. We can get eye problems, for example, if we have high blood pressure and cholesterol which can be lowered with exercise.

  • Drink enough water

As we all know, having enough water is essential for our organs to function well. And our eyes, quite simply, is also an organ. If we don’t have enough fluid in our body, our eyes will be deprived of its ability to blink comfortably and see without straining. Basically, water keeps our eyes clean and functioning properly.

  • Stop smoking

In relation to our eyes, smoking damages the optic nerve, increase the risk of developing cataracts, and many other problems and diseases. In addition, being directly exposed to cigarette smoke can also cause eye irritation. Although frequent smokers may have difficulty kicking the habit, to completely stop smoking can greatly benefit overall health.

  • Take a break from your devices

Computers, smartphones, and other mobile devices are all typically essential in our life today, but don’t really do our eyes any good. Staring at a phone or computer screen for long periods of time can cause headaches, blurry vision, eye strain, and also dry eyes.

  • Maintain the appropriate brightness

When using your gadgets, try to adjust the screen’s brightness so that it doesn’t beam out on the eyes too brightly. Especially in the dark, turn down the brightness so as to avoid getting eye strain or other eye diseases later on.

  • Keep a good distance

Keeping our eyes and gadget screens at a fair distance can help reduce too much exposure to blue light.  The closer we put our eyes to the screen, the more the light can damage our eyes. It is recommended then, to keep our eyes about 40 to 70 centimeters away from computer and smartphone screens.

4 Delicious and Healthy Snacks Your Pantry Should Have

Having the intense desire to munch on something can often lead to spending a little too much on snacks that are rich in salt and fat. While there’s nothing wrong with buying chips on occasion, this is often the start of unhealthy habits that can lead to problems in the near future.

Fortunately, you can fix that by swapping out your popcorn and chips with some natural choices. Here are a few healthy snacks you can stock your pantry with:

1. Nuts, Dried Berries, and Seeds

There’s nothing like a good trail mix to satisfy your craving or give you a quick energy boost when you’re curled up to unwind after a long day, busy working on a project at home, or even when you have to be on the go all the time.

The best thing about trail mixes is that you can do all sorts of things with them, from kinds of nuts, berries, and seeds in your trail mix, experimenting with different varieties to suit your taste, to even add a few extras such as chocolate and peanut butter chips for your sweet tooth.

2. Fruits

This may sound like a no-brainer, but having fresh fruit at home will do more than just provide your body with the much-needed nutrients and electrolytes that you’ve used up after a long day’s work.

Fruit is also surprisingly versatile. Not only can it come in many forms, such as pickled fruits and dried fruits, but you can even throw them together in a bowl to make a fruit salad for a sweet, yet healthy alternative to ice cream.

3. Wheat/whole grain bread

Forget what you’ve been told about bread being bad for you. Just like anything else, bread is only bad when you’ve had too much of it. Carbohydrates aren’t really bad for you: in fact, this is where your body draws its primary source of energy.

If you find yourself running low on carbohydrates, the trick is to avoid the refined flour, which has the most amount of sugar. You can easily make the switch to whole grain bread, which you can eat either alone or as part of a sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes. 

4. Eggs

Even though they may have had a bad reputation for being high in calories, they’re still an extremely good source of protein that you can get by the dozen.

They’re also one of the most versatile foods that exist, as well as being one of the easiest foods that you can prepare at any time of day. You can either eat them alone (eggs are essentially a meal by themselves) or paired along with other foods.

4 Helpful Tips and Tricks to Get the Most out of Your Compost (and Keep it from Smelling Badly)

Composting takes about two to nine months, the process itself doesn’t require too much space or resources to get started on, which makes it easy to get started with. The end result, of course, is a beautiful rich soil that is ideal for plant growth.

However, it can sometimes be a little tricky to get right at first. Be sure to use the following tips and tricks to get the most out of your compost:

1. Balance is key.

The right mix of ingredients – brown materials (carbon-based materials, such as newspaper and shredded cardboard) and green materials (nitrogen-rich waste except meat, fat, and dairy products) – are all it takes to make a huge difference in getting quality compost for your indoor garden in Singapore.

For instance, having too much of the former will take longer to break down, and having too much of the latter will result in a slimy, smelly compost that hasn’t yet broken down completely. This is because bacteria need a balance in terms of nitrogen and oxygen.

In order to keep the bacteria in the compost working at peak efficiency, the ratio of carbon to nitrogen needs to be 30 parts carbon for every 1 part nitrogen.

2. Allow it to heat up.

This means that the process is working. If the pile is balanced, your compost should reach an internal temperature of sixty degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) over the course of seven to ten days. Ideally, the compost’s internal temperature should reach seventy-one degrees Celsius to kill off any pathogens or weed seeds that may have been introduced in the compost.

3. Aerate your compost pile regularly.

Most of the bacteria in your compost will need fresh oxygen in order to effectively convert the biodegradable materials into soil.  Aside from having holes into your sealed, create an air pocket into the pile by sticking a stake or a metal rod and wiggling it around.

4. Don’t make your compost wet and soggy.

Waterlogged compost is bad, and will not only disrupt the natural process, but will also make the compost smell worse. It’s for this reason that you shouldn’t keep adding water to your compost to the point that feels like a wrung sponge.

The key to giving your compost the right level of moisture is by simply giving it a gentle sprinkling of water each morning.

Whether you want to grow edible plants for your vegetable garden or simply add one or two potted plants to give your house a breath of fresh air, having good soil will make sure that they grow beautifully.

Get to Know the Biggest Reasons Why You Should Switch to a Vegetarian Diet

Life in Singapore can get pretty hectic pretty fast, so it’s natural that you would find yourself eating out more often than you would like.

However, you may also find yourself eating a lot of meat with a lot of oil, which along with a stressful lifestyle, can easily lead to a lot of health problems later in life, from higher blood pressure to cardiovascular disease.

While there are some setbacks to a vegetarian diet (it can be more time-consuming to prepare and plan), there are a lot of benefits it can offer you. Here’s why you should make the switch:

Going vegetarian prevents heart disease
Red meat and processed foods are associated with a higher risk of heart disease, but this risk is greatly reduced by switching to a diet that’s higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These are all easily found in a vegetarian diet.

Aside from the different nutrients that more fruits and vegetables can bring to your system, switching to a low-fat, high-fiber vegetarian diet also improves your blood flow and circulation.

It keeps type-2 diabetes at bay
A hectic schedule can easily make anyone reach for food that’s high in saturated fats and processed foods, because they give the quick burst of energy needed to get through the day. However, this can also lead to diabetes later on.

Plant-based alternatives, such as granola bars and trail snacks made from nuts and dried fruits, can also give you the same amount of energy without the health risks.

You’ll live longer
Switching to more fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods can make you live longer and more fully.
This is because plant-based diets are richer in antioxidants which reverse the effects of oxidation in cells, and also have all kinds of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that strengthen the immune system and protect the body against diseases.

Vegetarian diets can even decrease the risk of cancer, as they have less carcinogens compared to red meat.

You’ll save more money
Switching to a meat- and dairy-free diet doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you can get a lot of your dietary needs (and more) for cheap at your nearest wet market, where you can be sure that the produce is fresh every time.
Shopping at your nearest wet market also lets you support local businesses and farmers, and your regular patronage can allow you to form better relationships with your favorite vendors. This can give you even more discounts and let you buy fresh produce even more cheaply.

It can even reduce your carbon footprint, and if you’re into indoor gardening, the scraps and trimmings from vegetables are great for composting.

4 Things to Do When You’re Bored during Your Free Time

If you love being productive and always need something on your hands to do, there’s nothing more frustrating than being bored. But the good news is that there’s always something you can do to be productive, even when you think you’ve done practically everything.

In fact, here are a few things you can start doing when you’re bored (and even turn into a regular routine):

De-cluttering
Cleaning out your room or your desktop of things that aren’t needed allows you to take a good look at what’s actually been building up in your room, from shelved passion projects and ideas, to hobbies and interests that you’ve never gotten around to doing.

Your wardrobe is also another place that can accumulate things that you don’t use anymore – clearing it out, especially if you have a lot of clothes, is something you’ll definitely want to do.

If you have a junk drawer (or something similar), now is also the time to open it and start clearing it out of what you don’t use or need anymore.

Finishing Small Tasks
You may have finished them already, but there’s a good chance that you have small tasks that aren’t that high on your priority list. If you haven’t, then now is a good time to get them done clear up your list until the next big task comes along.

Keep in mind that doing them regularly, even by piecemeal, will keep them from piling up into something huge later on.

This also includes backing up these small tasks so you wouldn’t have to repeat them again, which can be frustrating when they become crucial at the time you least expect these tasks to be.

Doing Regular Maintenance
Whether it’s your health (every aspect, including mental, and emotional), your passion project, or even just your hobby, doing something small to improve yourself will eventually get you to do something that will take up your time and keep you busy.

This is also the time to clear any personal issues that have been bugging you lately. And if you’ve been itching for physical exercise to clear your mind, a short walk, a light jog, or even biking can free you from boredom.

Meal Planning
This will particularly interest you if you’re on a vegetarian diet and you want to prepare your own meals for the next few days or for the whole week. If you’re finding yourself out of things to do this Sunday, meal planning would be a great thing to start.

Preparing your meals takes not just planning and grocery shopping, but also cooking and storage, and varying the menu alone is sure to be something that will keep you busy.

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

According to the Psoriasis Association of Singapore, at least 40,000 people are affected by the disease in the country. While most cases of psoriasis take on the form of chronic plaque psoriasis, there is one type of the disease that affect the joints in the ankles, knees, and fingers.

Causes and Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of chronic inflammatory arthritis and occurs mostly in people with psoriasis which also affects the large joints in the distal joints (joints closest to the nail) of the toes and fingers, lower extremities, the back, and the sacroiliac joints in the pelvis.

According to studies, nearly 30% of patients with skin psoriasis are likely to develop psoriatic arthritis, and 85% of these have symptoms of arthritis can appear before the skin disease manifests. The symptoms will vary among the affected persons and will typically manifest between 30 to 50 years of age. There are children, however, who also develop this condition and are even at risk of having an inflamed middle eye layer called uveitis.

The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include the following: tenderness, swelling, and pain on the tendons; pain, throbbing, and stiffness in the joints; fatigue; reduced motion; morning stiffness; nail problems; and pain and redness in the eyes.

Treatments for Psoriatic Arthritis
Treatment must be given immediately if the symptoms show, because it can result to permanent damage in the joints. To determine whether you have psoriatic arthritis, a number of tests such as physical examination, MRI, X-ray, and blood tests are done. The symptoms, however, mimic those of other types of arthritic diseases and must be ruled out before any treatment can be recommended. Once the doctor has made sure that you have psoriatic arthritis, he/she will then have to examine how many joints are affected and the severity of the condition assessed.

Symmetric psoriatic arthritis targets joints found on both sides of your body, while asymmetric affects only one side of the body. Oligoarticular is the term for mild psoriatic arthritis and usually affects less than four joints, while spondylitis affects the spinal column. Enthesitis affects the entheses or the part where the tendons and ligaments are connected to your bones, while dactylitis is the inflammation of the toe or finger and distal psoriatic arthritis stiffens the ends of the toes and fingers and changes the nails.

The symptoms are treated with NSAIDs, DMARDs, and steroid injections for inflammation. Biologic types are also infused or injected, while anti-rheumatic drugs are recommended for cases that don’t respond to the usual medication. For the skin, you will be prescribed tar-based ointments, steroid-based creams, retinoid tablets, and light therapies. If there is a need for a repair to a damaged tendon, you might also need surgery.