WHO PAYS ON DATES?

I understand why money is such a huge deal in relationships. It doesn’t have to be but it is. Society normally dictates that the man should pay for everything. But this isn’t always feasible because well…. life happens. There’s the mortgage, the groceries, the pet food for your chihuahua, and the cost of getting your roof repaired, among so many other things!

Sometime into the dating relationship when the rose tinted glasses start to clear up, both parties are stuck with the reality that the guy’s salary is pretty much average, and using this salary to also maintain dating expenses is unrealistic. Women who have grown accustomed to the man always paying for everything should give themselves a slap on the face! Because that financial fairytale isn’t the real world. Unless your guy is Donald Trump or is Mark Zuckerberg, there shouldn’t be reason for you to always expect him to cough up cash on every date. Can you imagine just how much he’ll be able to save for the future if he keeps spending for every dinner/ movie/ holiday that you guys have? Nothing. The steak dinners, anniversary and monthsary gifts add up to so much in a year. How much more if you’ve been together for awhile?

So what do you do then?

You CONTRIBUTE. 

That’s right. A relationship is a partnership after all and not a dictatorship. But how do you get over the awkwardness of it all? You know that moment when the bill comes and you’re trying to decide whether to suggest going Dutch or just paying it yourself?

Here are a couple of my suggestions to make it less awkward for couples:

  1. PULL OUT YOUR WALLET WHEN THE BILL COMES. And lay down the value of your meal’s worth. This will prompt him to also pay for his share. It isn’t too complicated and it’s fair. Just don’t make a fuss about it.
  2. WHEN THE GUY PAYS FASTER THAN YOU CAN SAY “I’LL GET IT!.” Then offer to pay for the next activity. Like a movie. This eases up the guy’s wallet and saves him a trip to the nearest ATM. If he pays for the movie, get the popcorn and drinks.
  3. WHEN YOU’RE BOTH BROKE BUT WANT TO BUY PRESENTS FOR EACH OTHER. Do the $10 challenge! When at a mall, agree to buy each other a gift worth $10 and come back after an hour to exchange. This is a fun way to flex your creativity and think about what your significant other will appreciate.
  4. HAVE A COMMON DATE FUND. Some couples have a piggy bank or a bank account where they put their extra cash and this is what they spend for their dates. Raising money for this fund (which can also extend to a travel fund) may encourage the couple to work together to increase the amount in their joint wallet.
  5. GO ON INEXPENSIVE DATES. Netflix and chilling is so underrated. Order in or cook together and STAY AT HOME. Save the adventurous and expensive activities on days when you have a surplus of cash.

 

Hope this helps!

 

xoxo,

Cristine

When your partner is also your best friend

It goes without saying, you don’t have to be “best friends” to have a great relationship (some people even gag at that idea). But while others might think of you as insular or clingy, you know better.

1. You started out as friends. 

Great things take time. Baked potatoes, fully mature redwood trees, and friendships that turn into relationships. First dates feel different than first hangouts. You really get to know each other’s personality when you’re not as worried about trying to impress the other person.

2. He makes you laugh all the time and you make him crack up. 

It’s not just about how he makes you feel, or how great the sex is, or how well you work together. When you hang out, you wind up cracking each other up so much you can’t breathe. Some of your favorite memories are the two of you doing the dumbest stuff and laughing about it nonstop.

3. He always wants you around. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s a “guys’ night” or a five-hour road trip; he wants to hang out with you. And it feels natural too. When he’s out with friends, you never get the vibe of “oh, he brought his girlfriend along.” You’re his friend, so you’re everyone else’s friend. Basically, all his guys just sees you as “that one friend he also has sex with”… which is a compliment, really.

4. You always know what he’s thinking. 

It’s not quite like you can read each other’s minds, but you’re so comfortable with each other that it really feels like that sometimes.

5. He’s seen you through your worst moments. 

He’s gotten you through some of your darkest moments, however you define them. Even when other friends drop off or stop calling, he’s there for you, and you’re always there for him.

6. You can spend a day just hanging out. 

It’s not that you both love being couch sloths all day, but you could be and still have a good time. You don’t need to be making Instagrammable moments constantly to feel like you’re having a good time. All you really need is each other.

7. Other couples hate you just a little. 

They might not say it to your face, but you can tell they’re insanely jealous of the chemistry you share. You can tell. Basically, you make other couples look boring and they can’t stand it.

8 You don’t feel like you need time apart from each other. 

You know how to prioritize “you” time when there’s something you want to get done just for yourself, but everything you do just feels somehow better when you’re with them.

9. He trusts you deeply. 

Not just in the basic ways, like trusting you not to cheat on him when you go out. That barely even counts; that’s just assuming you’re not going to be a garbage person. He also trusts you with things he’s never told anyone, like his embarrassing secrets.

10. It still feels like you just started dating. 

You still have this energy that’s stuck around even though you’ve been dating for years. That “honeymoon phase” never really ended for you.

***

From: Cosmopolitan by Frank Kobola

How YOGA Changes Your Body

After Class.

Improved Brain Function.
Just 20 minutes of Hatha yoga — an ancient form of the practice that emphasizes physical postures rather than flow or sequences — can improve cognitive function, boosting focus and working memory. In a University of Illinois study, participants performed significantly better on tests of brain functioning after yoga, as compared to their performance after 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise.

Lower Stress Levels.
Yoga’s stress-busting powers may come from its ability to lessen the activity of proteins that are known to play a role in inflammation, according to a study published last year from University of California, Los Angeles researchers.

Alter Gene Expression.
A small Norwegian study suggested that yoga’s many healthy benefits might come from its ability to alter gene expression in immune cells.

Increased Flexibility.
A recent Colorado State University study found that Bikram yoga — a form of yoga in which a series of 26 postures are performed for 90 minutes in a heated room — is linked with increased shoulder, lower back and hamstring flexibility, as well as greater deadlift strength and decreased body fat, compared with a control group.

After A Few Months.

Lower Blood Pressure.
People with mild to moderate hypertension might benefit from a yoga practice, as a study from University of Pennsylvania researchers found that it could help to lower their blood pressure levels. Researchers found that people who practiced yoga had greater drops in blood pressure compared with those who participated in a walking/nutrition/weight counseling program.

Improved Lung Capacity.
A small 2000 Ball State University study found that practicing Hatha yoga for 15 weeks could significantly increase vital lung capacity, which is the maximum amount of air exhaled after taking a deep breath. Vital lung capacity is one of the components of lung capacity.

Improved Sexual Function.
A 2009 Harvard study published in the The Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that yoga could boost arousal, desire, orgasm and general sexual satisfaction for women. Yoga can also improve women’s sex lives by helping them to become more familiar with their own bodies, according to a review of studies published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, as reported by CNN.

Reduced Chronic Neck Pain.
A German study published in The Journal of Pain showed that four weeks of practicing Iyengar yoga (a type of Hatha yoga that stresses proper alignment and the use of props) is effective in reducing pain intensity in adults suffering from chronic neck pain.

Anxiety Relief.
A 2010 Boston University study showed that 12 weeks of yoga could help to reduce anxiety and increase gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels in the brain (low levels of GABA have been linked with depression and anxiety disorders).

Relief from Chronic Back Pain.
Researchers at West Virginia University found Iyengar Yoga to be more effective in reducing pain and improving mood than standard medical treatment among those with chronic lower back problems.

Steady Blood Sugar Levels in People with Diabetes.
Adding yoga to a typical diabetes care regimen could result in steady blood sugar levels, according to a 2011 Diabetes Care study. Reuters reported that just three months of yoga in addition to diabetes care resulted in a decrease in body mass index, as well as no increases in blood sugar levels.

Improved Sense of Balance.
Practicing an Iyengar yoga program designed for older adults was found to improve balance and help prevent falls in women over 65, according to a 2008 Temple University study.

After Years.

Stronger Bones.
A 2009 pilot study by Dr. Loren Fishman showed that practicing yoga could improve bone density among older adults.

“We did a bone mineral density (DEXA) scan, then we taught half of them the yoga, waited two years, and did another scan,” Fishman previously told The Huffington Post. “And not only did these people not lose bone, they gained bone. The ones who didn’t do the yoga lost a little bone, as you would expect.”

Healthy Weight.
Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found an association between a regular yoga practice and decreased weight — or at least a maintained weight — among more than 15,000 healthy, middle-aged adults.

“Those practicing yoga who were overweight to start with lost about five pounds during the same time period those not practicing yoga gained 14 pounds,” study researcher Alan Kristal, DPH, MPH, told WebMD.

Lower Risk Of Heart Disease.
As part of a healthy lifestyle, yoga may lower cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, according to Harvard Health Publications.

***

From: Huffington Post

How to Deal with Depression

Depression can drain your energy, hope and drive, making it hard to do what you need to feel better.But while overcoming depression isn’t easy, there are plenty of little things that can help you on the way to recovery.Many people make the fundamental mistake of presuming that depression is sadness, but the two are entirely different things.

While sadness is a normal human emotion that comes and goes and is usually caused by certain events, depression is a constant feeling of sadness and hopelessness.

And while the mental illness, which can last for weeks, months or even years, can’t be overcome through willpower alone, there are ways to beat it.

Even if your depression is severe and persistent, small steps like avoiding isolation, exercising and learning relaxation techniques can help ease the symptoms.

Here, life coach and clinical hypnotherapist Sloan Sheridan-Williams reveals her top tips for dealing with depression:

1. BREAK TASKS DOWN INTO SMALL STEPS A common symptom of depression is the feeling of being overwhelmed even by ordinary day-to-day tasks.Even getting out of bed and getting dressed can feel like a huge hurdle and people become more withdrawn and less active as depression becomes more severe.

The best way to overcome feeling overwhelmed is to break down the activity in small, easier-to-achieve chunks.

This can either be in the form of writing a step-by-step list of everything that needs to be done or mentally visualising all the actions that would take place to complete a task and then doing those actions in sequence, slowly but surely.

2. AVOID ISOLATION BY CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE

Depression evokes behaviours in people which tend to cut them off from the outside world. As a result they can become more withdrawn and less talkative or sociable.

This develops into a vicious cycle where the less time the depressed person spends with others, the less time they want to spend with others.

Connection is one of the six basic emotional needs and when depression takes hold it is often the need that gets most neglected in favour of satisfying the need for comfort through isolation.

When the first signs of depression appear it is important to spend more time cultivating relationships with family, loved ones and friends, for these are the very people who will be there for the individual as their support network.

Being able to talk about your problems makes dealing with them easier and therefore it is very helpful to identify the people you can trust and rely on.

3. GO FOR A WALK The correlation between exercise and feeling good has long been established.And feel-good hormones such as dopamine and endorphins which are produced during exercise can improve mood in individuals with mild to moderate depression.

It can be difficult to stay motivated when depressed so vigorous exercise such as running or going to the gym can be tough to keep up.

However even moderate exercise like a brisk walk has been shown to improve mood.

I suggest to my clients a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day, five times a week as it has shown to have a significant positive influence on the symptoms of mild to moderate depression.

Even better is walking with someone you care about, as this will increase the level of love hormone oxytocin in the brain.

4. ACCEPT PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

The power of the mind is an amazing thing, and although pharmaceutical intervention is certainly beneficial in cases of severe depression, individuals can work towards overcoming mild or moderate depression faster if they start to take personal responsibility for their actions and behaviours.

This advice is not about “pulling yourself together” but more about what decisions need to be made by the individual to make them feel more powerful and happy.

We have all the answers we need inside of us and the challenge is to find ways to access those answers to help improve our quality of life.

It is good to establish the fact that you are the one who can make things happen rather than have things happen to you.

5. LEARN SOME RELAXTION TECHNIQUES 

Deep breathing and relaxing the muscles are the basis of all relaxation techniques and these two physiological actions work very effectively to help the psychological aspects of depression.

Breathing should be slow and rhythmic, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

Deep muscle relaxation is an excellent technique for everyone to master – not just those with depression – as it can be used anywhere to help deeply relax the body.

Each part of the body is tensed for a few seconds and then relaxed moving from the toes to the head systematically.

Yoga and tai chi are also great ways to help relax the body, and can provide the individual with much needed connection if done in a class.

6. CHALLENGE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS Negative thinking and obsessing on unhelpful thoughts are two common symptoms of depression.Shifting the focus of the mind is key to getting perspective on the situation and reclaiming your power.

When you take responsibility for your thoughts and turn such focus towards gratitude you will start to feel comforted about the more positive aspects of yourself and your environment.

It is important for the individual to identify any warped thoughts, like negative filtering and over-generalisation that are not representative of reality, by getting perspective.

7. IMPROVE YOUR DIET 

Eating four to six small meals throughout the day rather than two to three large ones can help stabilise blood sugar, giving you more energy to deal with the day and avoiding sugar crashes and cravings that will sap what energy you do have.

Reducing the amount of simple carbohydrates like refined sugar and white flour in your diet can also help keep blood sugar levels stable and therefore help improve mood when depressed.

Although we head straight for the biscuit tin when we are feeling blue, eating processed carbohydrate-rich foods like sweets, biscuits, cakes and white bread will leave you feeling sluggish and heavy.

Swap these foods for healthier wholegrain or low GI alternatives which will have less impact on blood sugar and also keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Some of my clients find eating a high protein, low carbohydrate diet can also help. Seeking a nutritionist’s advice can play a huge part in helping you seek the balance you need, both nutritionally and mentally.

8. TAKE AN OMEGA-3 SUPPLEMENTOmega-3 is an Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) which has a positive effect on mood when taken in high enough doses as a supplement.It is present in fish, shellfish, flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds so can easily be supplemented into a diet naturally should you so wish.

Alternatively, they are commonly taken as fish oil, krill oil or linseed oil supplements.

9. LIMIT ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE 

Alcohol and caffeine in the form of coffee are used by many who are depressed to purportedly help them through the day.

This form of self medication may seem like a useful coping strategy to some, however it is far from helpful as both alcohol and caffeine are psychoactive drugs which cross the blood-brain barrier and affect brain function resulting in changes in mood, thinking, behaviour, perception and consciousness.

Alcohol is a commonly abused substance within the general population and in cases of depression sufferers often use alcohol for its depressant effects.

Caffeine is known to be a stimulant used to keep awake and more alert.

Such seeking of comfort or stimuli to just make it through the day shows that a fundamental human emotional need is not being met by other means and so we look for a short-term fix which is not only temporary but hollow.

The short-term effects of these psychoactive drugs may appear beneficial but in the long term brain chemistry is in fact being altered and mood ultimately becomes more unstable which can make the symptoms of depression worse.

10. HAVE A REGULAR SLEEP TIME

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone but especially for those suffering from depression. Conversely too much sleep (over eight hours) can exacerbate depression.

As with most things it is about balance and everything in moderation.

Regular sleeping hours are essential in managing mood and having a regular bedtime and rise time is important too.

The depressed individual should be going to bed and waking up at the same time every day of the week including weekends.

Go back to basics, set alarms, create a routine and introduce calming rituals before bed.

Studies have shown that regular sleep routines have a positive effect on mood and actually reduce depressive symptoms over time.

Darkness and light are also very important in this. Other tricks that work for my clients include avoiding bright lights of TV, computers and overhead lights after 9pm as this allows you to get a better night’s sleep.

***

From EXPRESS by Laura Mitchell

Why Surprises Will Never Get Old

My partner knows I love anything sweet so it was such a surprise to see him pull out two boxes of chocolate cupcakes and butterscotch fudge from the passengers’ seat as soon as I sat in his car. It was just unexpected and it really made a difference in changing my week! (I had been working extra HARD!) It was a small gesture that radiated with so much thoughtfulness, which I’ve been told tend to be rare in long term relationships. Has being thoughtful become so underrated?

It got me thinking of my clients and friends who share that their significant others have become complacent after dating for awhile. And I always tell them that this isn’t a problem (unless you make it to be) but it does make a world of a difference in keeping the spark alive. The little things go a long way in securing happiness. Taken together, it gives you a little something more to live for.

To me, when you do little surprises for your partner (it doesn’t have to be grand), it gives the message that when you’re apart, (or even when you’re together), you’re thinking of him/ her. It’s a win win situation because the receiver has an opportunity to show his/her appreciation towards such a pleasant act. The real problem in most relationships, especially coming from the men, is that they complain that their wives aren’t appreciative enough. This is usually the reason why they seem not to care anymore. It’s a sad situation but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be fixed!

All it takes is a little bit of creativity and thoughtfulness to bring joy to your relationship again. Pay attention to what your significant other likes and doesn’t like. I have a friend who is terrified of clowns. When her husband sees a clown walking or if he sees a clown trailer/movie coming up on TV, he covers her eyes or leads her the other way. It’s a simple gesture, but it shows that your partner that you feel he/she matters. If she likes chocolates… get them for her. If she likes wine… get her a bottle to drink at the end of a long day. (The wine is always a good idea! Trust me). No matter who is pleasing or surprising who, don’t forget to show your appreciation at the end of the day!

xoxo,

Cristine

I Didn’t Deserve The Pain You Put Me Through

Screw you for being too much of a coward to admit you had feelings for me. For worrying about how much I could hurt you in the future if you actually let yourself feel, so you decided to treat me like nothing instead. So you decided to push me away instead of pulling me closer. 

Screw you for letting your past get in the way of our future. For hating me for things that your ex did. For assuming I would hurt you in the same way that she did, even though I’m nothing like her. Even though I’ve proven to you that I’m someone different, someone worth your while. 

Screw you for getting scared off whenever I tried to get closer to you. For making me feel like I did something wrong, just by loving you. For convincing me that I was the problem, not you, never you. 

Screw you for calling me when you were drunk, when you had downed too many beers to think straight, instead of just being honest with yourself while sober. Screw you for only admitting you cared about me when you were six beers deep.

Screw you for lying about little things when you should have told the truth, because you wanted to keep a safe distance from me. Because you were worried about what would happen if you actually let me see the real, raw you. 

Screw you for hurting me ‘before I could hurt you.’ For thinking that our relationship was some sort of competition and refusing to be the loser. For bracing yourself for destruction instead of realizing that we could have actually had something great. 

Screw you for never giving us a chance. Because I’ve been hurt before, too. I could have blamed you for things my ex did. I could have let my fear chase me away from you.

But I didn’t. Because I was willing to take a risk to be with you. Because I genuinly cared about you. Apparently more than you cared about me.

I hate you for what you put me through. I hate you for making me fall and then leaving me to drop.

I didn’t deserve all of the pain you put me through. I didn’t deserve to be led on for months and then hear that you weren’t looking for a real relationship. I didn’t deserve to be strung along until you decided that you couldn’t handle me anymore.

But for some reason, none of the horrible things you’ve done have changed my feelings for you.

I still like you. I still want you.

So screw you for being so attractive, so intelligent, so much fun to flirt with. Screw you for making me want you, even long after you left. Screw you for being the one person I can’t stop thinking about.

Screw you for getting over me. Because I’m still not over you.

****

From: Thought Catalog by Holly Riordan

We Were Never Together, So Why Can’t I Stop Thinking Of You?

You were never my boyfriend. Sure, we flirted, dancing together in your living room and exchanging back massages in your bedroom. Sure, we cuddled, pretending to watch television while our bodies were pressed together in an act more intimate than sex. Sure, we kissed, your lips against my mouth and neck while your hands cradled my hips. But we were never together, so why can’t I stop thinking of you?

You snuck winks at me when you realized everyone else was glancing away. You kept your arm around me when you saw them staring straight on. We had a connection that was more than casual. Real friendship mixed in with our flirtations. Laughter and inside jokes tangled in with the sexual tension. But neither of us did anything about it, so why can’t I stop thinking of you?

I can still hear your voice, lightly singing along in my car, hoping I couldn’t hear. Can still smell your cologne, with the scent that grew thicker as we hugged for a few moments too long. Still see your eyes, flicking down to my lips, waiting for another kiss we would pretend meant nothing. But it’s been months since we’ve actually seen each other, so why can’t I stop thinking of you?

We stopped talking out of nowhere. Lost contact on every platform in a world overflowing with ways to connect. We never said goodbye, and I still can’t figure out why that is. But if we ever ran into each other again, we wouldn’t acknowledge the lack of closure. No, we’d act like everything was normal, like we were two platonic friends, just like we always did. But nothing ever happened and nothing ever will, so why can’t I stop thinking of you?

I’ve been spending more time with myself, learning the ins and outs of my brain and body. Trying to find out who I am without you and what I want besides you. Realizing that enough “me” time can cure the loneliness you’ve infected me with. But I’m happy now, so why can’t I stop thinking of you?

I’ve met a new man who has stolen your title as the love of my life. He holds me like you did and kisses me like you did. Except he exists in the present tense while you’re just an exhausting memory floating around in the back of my brain. He’s never going to ghost or say goodbye. He’s nothing like you, not in the good ways or the bad. But he loves me, and he’s helped me learn to love me. He’s helped me learn a lot of things.

And that’s why I’ve finally stopped thinking of you.

***

From Thought Catalog by Holly Riordan