Shop No More?!

Which is the most socially acceptable addiction? Oniomania or compulsive shopping. We are living in an era of consumerism where we (including me) are sold on the idea that buying things will make us happy, make our life better, and improve our social worth.

But a new twist in this, is the rising and increasingly common addiction to online shopping, as it brings instant gratification. There’s a fine line between loving online shopping and being addicted to it. In the digital age, endless goods are available at the click of a button which combined with the convenience of not needing to go to a store, fuel this addiction. Psychologists believe that online shopping addiction should now be classified as a mental health condition as it involves great risks like financial losses, loss of self-control and losing the sense of priorities.

All of us have fallen prey to this temptation, it is fun, it is convenient and things are always on great discounts. Who doesn’t love buying adorable outfits for the kids or beauty products at attractive discounts sitting at home in their pajamas? Countless nights when I can’t fall asleep, I’ll spend hours browsing clothes, cosmetics and even homeware on Amazon, eBay and the likes, and if not buying then wish listing it.

According to statistics, 92% of Americans now shop online, and amongst these, 86% use their phones. Online shopping addiction is a behavioral addiction that involves compulsive buying as a result of an intense craving to purchase and deriving emotional satisfaction from it. A major characteristic is “preoccupation with shopping for unneeded items, and difficulty resisting the purchase of unneeded items.”

Most often it is just a bad habit that drains your finances, but sometimes it might take a more serious and damaging turn. Here are some warning signs to look out for :

  • You frequently exceed your monthly budget because of online shopping
  • You have rising credit card debts because of online purchases
  • You often feel guilty after your online buying
  • You often hide your purchases from your family
  • You argue with your spouse or family over your purchases
  • You feel anxiety over missing out on deals
  • You often buy things you don’t need just because they are on discount

The rise of e-commerce sites, flash sales, and readily available credit have made online shopping far too tempting. Also in most cases, you are not handing over the money, so you delude yourself into thinking that you are really not spending money.

But if you are struggling with online shopping compulsion, these are a few tips that may help :

Delete all shopping apps from your mobile phone

Shopping apps make it way too convenient to spend money online. It just takes a click to buy things, and it doesn’t even feel like you are giving away any money. Delete all shopping apps, you don’t need them.

Unsubscribe from all promotional emails

Take a minute to unsubscribe from all the retailer newsletters you receive, especially ones that promote flash sales, discount coupons. Don’t be afraid to lose out on discounts as you will end up saving a lot of money in the end.

discount coupons. Don’t be afraid to lose out on discounts as you will end up saving a lot of money in the end.

Remove your credit cards

Most people enter and save the details of their credit cards, to make checking out faster. This gives you no time to really think if you need to make this purchase or not. Getting up from your chair, retrieving the card and entering the details will give you a few minutes and you might decide not to buy it at all.

Don’t shop because you are bored

Many people browse online shopping websites when they are bored or waiting for something. Carry a book with you, listen to a song or a podcast, call someone but resist the urge to open shopping apps.

Retrain your brain

Retail therapy really works and does make you better, even if it’s momentary. If you are feeling sad or low or just disinterested, look for other means like reading, writing, exercising to make yourself feel better. Train your mind to understand the consequences of excessive spending.

Talk to someone

Just like everything else, talk to someone about your spending habits, be it your spouse, parent or counselor. They will help you understand and control your behavior.

Online shopping definitely has its advantages but also in most cases, leads to excessive spending. So be wise about it and try the above techniques to channel your money towards more productive purposes.

Now You Can Enjoy Your Coffee In Peace !!

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world along with tea, yet it has a somewhat dubious reputation. People will warn you that it raises blood pressure, impairs sleep, causes acidity and so on.

But research over the last few decades declares that coffee is mostly good for you . Moderate coffee consumption (3-4 cups a day ) is certainly not harmful and might even be beneficial for you. Good news for coffee lovers like me who can now drink their coffee without worrying in peace.

Here are some key reasons why coffee might actually be good for you :

Lowered risk of Type 2 Diabetes

People who consume 4 or more cups of coffee in a day have a 22% lesser risk of diabetes. So drink your coffee but control the sugar and cream in it.

Reduces risk of liver cirrhosis

Many common diseases like hepatitis, fatty liver disease or even excessive drinking can cause liver cirrhosis. Medical research shows that drinking 4 or more cups in a day can significantly  reduce liver damage as coffee lowers the liver enzyme levels.

Coffee can help you burn more calories and body fat

Caffeine boosts metabolic rate by 5-10% .Caffeine breaks down body fat, making it available for fuel. As a result you burn more calories and lose weight faster, What can be better , but go easy on the sugar and added flavors .

Improves energy levels

After you drink coffee, caffeine gets absorbed in your bloodstream, and also travels to the brain. In the brain, caffeine blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine, and increases neuron activity. It is thus, linked to improved levels of brain function like memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels.

Lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have become increasingly common in the past few decades among people over 65. Recent studies show that the compounds found in roasted coffee maybe responsible for preventing the buildup of the brain plaque believed to cause this neurodegenerative disease.

Coffee can help reduce Depression

Psychiatric studies have found that drinking coffee actually acts as a mild antidepressant by boosting feel good neurotransmitters in the brain. Studies show that people who drink 4 or more cups of coffee in a day are 20% less likely to be depressed and 50% less likely to commit suicide.

Coffee reduces colorectal cancer risk

Coffee is believed to reduce risk of two types of cancer : liver and colorectal by 15% and 40% respectively. which are the third and fourth most common kinds of cancer.

Coffee could protect your eyes

Strange as it might sound, coffee can significantly prevent retinal degeneration, which generally leads to night blindness and impaired vision.

Black coffee can prevent cavities

Drinking coffee can help prevent cavities and tooth decay as it kills the bacteria on the teeth, but this is true only for black coffee.

Contains various nutrients and antioxidants.

Coffee has a huge amount of antioxidants which have several benefits for human bodies. Apart from that, coffee also contains riboflavin, potassium, niacin and magnesium. So your daily cup or cups of coffee have several health benefits and can be enjoyed on a regular basis.

Is Your Child Depressed ??

Although depression is seen mostly as an adult illness, children and adolescents can develop depression as well. In fact, 3% of the children and 8% of the adolescents in USA have been diagnosed with depression. Unfortunately, many children with depression are not treated, since the parents and other adults around them don’t recognize the symptoms. Mostly as adults we feel children cannot be depressed as they have nothing to worry about, they do not have adult problems but kids experience stress too, in their own way. It has been seen that even kids from happy, secure families maybe suffering from depression.

It is important for parents, teachers and other caregivers to understand depression and it’s manifestations in childhood. While adults tend to be sad or low when depressed, in children and adolescents, it may come out in irritability and anger. Often depression gets ignored, as anger outbursts maybe seen as bad attitude or disrespect, and lack of energy and not trying maybe seen as lethargy or laziness.

It is therefore essential to understand the signs and symptoms :

  • Irritability or anger
  • Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Social withdrawal, not engaging in activities they previously enjoyed
  • Increased sensitivity to rejection
  • Changes in appetite – increase or decrease
  • Changes in sleep – sleeplessness or excessive sleep
  • Crying outbursts or defiant attitude
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Frequent stomach aches, head aches that don’t get better with medication

If a few or more of these symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks, the parents should definitely seek medical advice.

Treatment

Treatment for depression in children is similar to that in adults. It may or may not involve medication depending on severity and if therapy alone is not working. Your pediatrician maybe a good starting point to begin treatment.

But in the case of children, family and his or her immediate environment has utmost importance in improving their mental health. While it may not be possible to prevent depression, parents and caregivers can be proactive and positive in their approach towards the issue. Some important things are :

  • Make sure the child eats nutritious food, gets adequate sleep and engages in physical activity daily, preferably unstructured, free play.
  • Spend time with your child. Engage in activities that you both enjoy like reading, watching movies, sports to encourage positive emotions and create a gentle, relaxing atmosphere at home.
  • Talk to your child. Encourage your child to open up and verbalize their feelings while maintaining a positive and non judgmental stance.This will help you bond with your child, and also help him or her discuss their feelings openly in therapy.
  • Be patient and kind. Depression often manifests in the form of irritability and anger, and it’s easy for parents to get angry or upset by the child’s behavior. Remember that this is a part of depression and does not imply disrespect or defiance, do not use harsh words. Instead show compassion and patience.
  • Ask for cooperation from teachers and the school. It’s very difficult to do well in school when thinking and concentration are impaired, so talk to the teachers and counselor in school and enlist their support. They may help the child by giving a little bit more time or more flexible deadlines. Encouraging words from teachers can really boost a child’s confidence.

As hard as it can be for a parent to accept that their child is depressed, it is essential that they remain calm and focused on helping the child feel better. There maybe be frequent temper tantrums or outbursts from the child, but they need to be handled with love and kindness, and not taken personally. Always be there to listen to your child and provide unconditional love and support. With proper treatment and support, the child will thrive and enjoy childhood.

Please share your thoughts and experiences about this.

There Is A Sita, Kaikeyi and Urmila In All Of Us

I recently read the book The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and I was truly enchanted and loved it. 

It is another version of the Ramayana, Sita’s version… also known as Sitayana. As soon as I read about the book I was fascinated, as till now I had really never thought that a different version of the Ramayana could exist. It gives us an insight into the life of Sita, right from her birth to when she gives up on her life as a final act of rebellion against patriarchy. I loved reading the book, found it truly enchanting and I couldn’t tear myself away from it.

The part of the story where it is postulated that Sita is the daughter of Ravan had me most intrigued and glued. It suggests that Sita was actually the firstborn of Ravan and Mandodari, but his astrologers had predicted that his firstborn would cause the destruction of his entire lineage. Hence, Ravan ordered that the child be killed immediately. However, Mandodari could not see that happen and bribed the Asura to leave her in some distant land. Thousands of kilometers away in Mithila, Raja Janak found baby Sita and accepted her as a boon from the gods. Mandodari recognized Sita as her long lost daughter when she saw her in Lanka after Ravan had kidnapped her. But she was too scared to share her secret, though she tried to make Sita’s life comfortable and save her from Ravan to the best of her abilities. Mandodari’s character is complex, wise, maternal and never shown before.

We have all heard the Ramayana many, many times but here, the Voice of Sita, clear and strong, reaches deep in your heart and stays there. Sita is every woman in one woman. She has all the human emotions and failings, she falls prey to jealousy, despair, anger, lust, and compassion. She is not just revered as an incarnation of Devi, as the perfect wife, daughter in law and mother but rather as a strong character who has her opinions, thoughts, and wishes.

Sita is not just a dutiful, submissive wife as mythology makes us believe, she is a thinker and questions society and its rules. She argues with her mother why Mithila cannot be ruled by a woman and only a man. She objects to the horrific mutilation of Suparnarakha, and considers it as unnecessary and a show of superiority by the brothers Ram and Lakshman.

Sita’s agnipariksha has been held in history as the highest ideal in the virtue of her being pativrata. But in Sita’s version, it is more of a fiery protest against a very public humiliation. The second time when she is asked to publicly prove her chastity, her refusal and asking the earth to subsume her is the biggest act of rebellion against patriarchy. She questions Ram publicly in court, that why does she not deserve the justice that other men and women in Ayodhya get, and then gives up her life and her role as wife and mother.

The novel is not just about Sita but also explains the other female characters who are otherwise ignored. Urmila, whose great sacrifices go unnoticed, Mandodari, written off like a demon, Suparnarakha, wronged by two men, and the ambiguity unseen earlier in Kaikeyi’s evil ministrations. The women characters say ” Write our story too, for always we’ve been pushed into corners, trivialized, misunderstood, blamed, forgotten or maligned and used as cautionary tales .”I just loved this statement. I read it several times and couldn’t get over how beautifully it conveyed what all women have felt at some point or the other, be it the in the Ramayana in the Treta Yug or in the twenty-first century. Sita comes across as a dutiful but bold daughter, protective sister, skilled healer, loving yet strong-willed wife, sensual lover, strong mother, nurturing, helpful, a thinker. She is a feminist and yet knows when to concede, mindful and empathetic. There is a little bit of Sita and for that matter of Urmila, Mandodari and Kaikeyi in all of us.

My Mummy Does Nothing !!

My 3 year old is with his grandmother and as I am going down the stairs I hear them talking.

They seem to be in the middle of a discussion about the family. He is saying: ” My Papa is good but he comes from office so late, he works so hard.” This is followed by a question from Dadi, and what does Mama do? ” Mama doesn’t do anything the whole day, she is just at home, sleeping and watching TV.” This elicits a big laugh from Dadi and the joke and thinking behind it gains strength.

Standing in the background, I hear this and am a little taken aback by his statement as well as my mother in law’s acceptance and reaction to it. Maybe he meant it as a joke, cause he knows it will make her laugh, I try to console myself. This joke is one which has been often repeated in our house, but every time it makes me unsettled. 

Even after a few hours I cannot shake off the feeling of unease. Is this really the perception our kids have of their mothers ? Do all kids think that if you are ‘just at home’, you really do nothing the whole day. Is our work so invisible? As home makers our kids see us at home the whole day taking care of them and the house, and to them it doesn’t seem like any specialised or genuine labor. 

And when the father comes home late in the evening in Indian households a big fuss is made. The mother in law will ask you must be so tired, what will you eat, the wife will tell the kids not to bother the father because he works so hard. And so of course, the notion that gets strengthened in the child’s head is that my father works so hard but my mother doesn’t really do much because she is home the whole day.

India is still a country where majority of the women do not have formal jobs and are homemakers. And truth be told, a vast percentage of the husbands and their families would prefer the women of their home to stay just there, and prioritize themselves and their kids over their careers. If women’s careers are not seen as financially essential for the family, then it is seen as her whim and fancy and not as something she needs and wants to do. 

Most housewives run around the whole day, and mentally and physically exhaust themselves to keep the family happy and comfortable in every way, though this labor is camouflaged and seldom acknowledged.The work of a home maker is so multifaceted and diverse in nature from taking care of the physical, mental, emotional, financial, societal needs of the family members to maintaining and organizing the house, the staff and so on , and even then it is unrecognized and undervalued.

Why not then the families, especially the husbands, show more respect and recognition for all that a wife and mother does, acknowledge and appreciate in front of their parents and children their wives role in furthering the well being of the family.

As a whole there needs to be shift in perspective in the Indian society to respect and value what a woman does to ensure that her family functions in a healthy and positive manner. And no kid should be allowed to hold the notion that their mother does nothing. It is the responsibility of the father and the mother herself, to ingrain this realisation early on that the mothers work in the house is equally important and fruitful and also she had the opportunity to work but she might have given it up for the family. Many of us have left successful jobs and promising career opportunities to be with the children and the family, this is not a sacrifice but a conscious choice. Please do not make us feel bad or lacking in worth because of this choice. 

What Women Want !!

Even Google gives up on this question.. but too much of a fuss has been made on what women want. Every day there are hundreds of jokes on Watsapp, Facebook about women in general and wives, in particular.

What do we really want ? Well the sky and everything under it , truth be told but also that being said, we are happier with much less.

Talking specifically of relationships since these are generally the focus of debate, what do women really want. A loving, caring , trustworthy husband who is demonstrative of his love and lavish in his affections is what most women dream of. If he is handsome, successful and funny then clearly you have hit the jackpot. But really we are content with a husband who loves us, tries to understand us even if he fully never can and gives us his support . We do not have a never ending list of traits and qualifications we desire in our ideal husband, that is just a myth.

So why then did women get this reputation of being impossible to understand and hence, please. I have heard most of my male friends complaining at some point or other, how their wives or

girlfriends give them such a hard time over trivial issues, how they create unnecessary drama, and are just impossible to please. Won’t all men love the power of hearing women’s thoughts just like Mel Gibson in the movie What Women Want.

Did some women ruin everyone else’s reputation or do all of us show these traits .. Is the guys assumption that women can never be understood true or has it just become an urban legend. Well the mystery continues.

How did we get this reputation that men can never really understand women. The hidden contributing factor here, in my opinion, is communication or lack of it . Most women, me included expect men especially our husband’s to understand much much more than what we are saying, to understand the subtle nuances of how we are saying it , and most importantly all that we are not saying. We expect them to read our hand gestures, head tilts, eye rolling and sarcastic smiles.

A simple okay is never really simple. I can say okay in ten different tones , which can have TWENTY different meanings. A simple I am fine can never really mean that you are fine, and do as you wish is really a subtle threat that you dare not. When I say you decide , it generally means you should know what decision I would like you to take.

So are all us at least, partly responsible for creating and maintaining this assumption that women’s minds are a great, black, deep well of mystery and intrigue. 

And another thought strikes me, are we maybe subconsciously fascinated by this intrigue, this challenge of keeping our partners on their toes. Do we find the unpredictability alluring ? Are simple conversations boring ? Well life certainly would be dull, if I gave clear indications as to what I wanted, and they were dutifully carried out by my loving husband. What would I have to complain about and where would he find the opportunity to woo and win me over ? 

Now the question remains do we want to solve these mysteries and become simple and easy to please or do we want to maintain the mystery and intrigue  in the relationship ?

How I Met Your Father (to tell or not to tell !!)

Some stories leave you wondering whether they should be told or not… especially to the kids, or at least told in a PG censored version. Still, I would want them to know how it all really started. Seems I have been watching too much of the Star World series ‘How I Met Your Mother’.

So, I met my husband, exactly 11 years back. The how, when, where are not exactly unusual, but out of character and unusual for me, or should I say us. The ‘where’ is fairly common at my best friend’s birthday party. ‘How’ that party went is amazing, and is still a surreal part for me. I was introduced to this guy by my best friend, who she was in college with. We were the early ones there and kept standing at the bar and chatting. Random bantering with a slightly flirtatious overtone was keeping us busy. We were lost to the world and would end back on our spot after briefly and half-heartedly talking to other people in the party.

It was crazy, addictive and something I hadn’t felt in a really long time, if ever. The hours stretched on, conversations became deeper but the intrigue remained. We shifted outside to talk without the loud music, without thinking or realizing our hands became entwined and talk became whispers leaning into each other.  We were lost to the world and oblivious to the glances and stares of the people around us.

Even after 11 years, the feelings, the sensations, and thoughts remain etched on my mind. I close my eyes, and I can still clearly see us leaning into each other, whispering, holding hands and everyone else a blurry background. I had been in a relationship earlier but never felt this deep, intense attraction.

The party ended and with much reluctance and many promises to call and keep in touch. A goodnight message on the way back made my heart skip and promised many more things.

Over time, messages became calls which became meetings, and the attraction deepened into something more deeper and long-lasting, which we then made into a lifelong commitment. The initial years filled with excitement, can’t wait to see each other moments were replaced by deep love, commitment, and trust.

We dated for two years and got married nine years back, and have been blessed with a fairly smooth journey. We have had wonderful times, shared fabulous experiences, had two beautiful kids, celebrated many moments big and small but the memory of that night still brings a smile on my face and a tingle in my heart. The memory of that first meeting still holds a very special and beautiful place in my heart. 

Though I am still in two minds if I want to tell my daughter that I met her father at a party, drinking and dancing the night away 😉

Would love to hear others’ stories and experiences 🙂