Posts tagged with "tips"

Seven Tips to Help Yourself Unplug Before Bedtime

Modern society is becoming increasingly reliant on technological devices. While many of the technological advancements of the last decade or so have arguably changed life for the better for many, new technology also presents a host of new issues.

Screen addiction, constant notifications that can cause anxiety, and the way social media can make us feel insecure and isolated even though it’s supposed to connect us are just a few of the downsides of technology that we have started to notice over time, and that we have to be aware of. These factors don’t mean we shouldn’t engage with new technologies, but instead that we just have to be a lot more mindful of how we engage with them. 

One area where many people would benefit from being more mindful about technology is before bedtime. You likely know the benefits of unplugging before bedtime, but powering down our devices and detaching from the stress of the day can be easier said than done. It can be a challenge to calm racing thoughts or stop planning how you’ll tackle your upcoming stressful day. 

Thankfully, several research-backed methods help you slow down and prepare for sleep. Here are seven ways to calm your mind and get better rest. 

  1. Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

Aim to get ready for bed at the same time every night. Wind down from a stressful day by taking a warm shower. Consider listening to soothing music while applying essential oils to pressure points and moving through simple yoga poses to further your relaxation. Next, move into bed and read a book until you start to drift to sleep. Try to go to bed and wake at the same time every day, even on the weekends.

Consider these additional factors when making your room the perfect environment for rest. Ensure your bedroom temperature isn’t too hot or cold — the ideal temperature for sleep is between 66 and 70 F. Get blackout curtains or eyeshades to keep the sunshine out of your room. Try a white noise machine or fan to limit noises in your home that interrupt your rest.  

  1. Turn Off Your Phone

One of the best ways to help you prepare for rest is to turn off your phone. The high-energy blue light in digital screens can cause interruptions to your sleep patterns and suppress melatonin secretion. You could find it more difficult to unwind or rest if you use a blue light device too close to bedtime. However, 71% of Americans report using their phones until they fall asleep. 

Studies recommend avoiding blue light two to three hours before bedtime to keep your circadian rhythms in sync. Consider blue light suppressing glasses if you need to use a device to work. You can also apply an app on your phone or tablet to filter out damaging blue light. However, the best practice is to sleep with your phone charging outside your room.  

  1. Use Meditation Techniques

If you find your head spinning with thoughts as you lay in bed, you might soon begin glancing at your watch as your anxiety starts to rise. You can stop those thoughts in their tracks with helpful mindfulness and breathing techniques.

  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Use this mindfulness technique to activate each area of your body and eliminate the stress you’re carrying. You’ll progressively tense and relax each muscle group, relaxing into sweet slumber.
  • 4-7-8 breathing technique: To practice this breathing activity, inhale for four counts. Hold your breath for seven seconds. Then, exhale through your nose for eight counts. Repeat this technique to steady your breathing and lull you into deep relaxation. 
  • Yogic breathing: The practice of pranayama or yogic breathing has been proven to slow one’s breathing, blood pressure and heart rate. Practicing it for five minutes can prepare you for sleep.     
  1. Exercise More

Consider adding exercise into your daily routine. Whether you bike, run or walk, research suggests there’s a positive relationship between exercise and sleep. You’ll find it easier to unwind and fall asleep the more regularly you work out. However, because physical activity is stimulating, it’s best to exercise earlier in the day and at least three hours before bedtime.    

  1. Make a List 

If you find you have a lot on your mind and are having difficulty shifting your thoughts from the stresses of tomorrow, consider making a list to organize the coming day. Write down all the things you’ll need to accomplish, outlining the necessary tasks at work and home. A study conducted in 2018 found participants who created to-do lists for their upcoming days fell asleep faster than those who didn’t. 

  1. Disconnect From Work

Make an effort to create boundaries between you and your job. Do not check your work email in the evening or only do so once for half an hour after dinner. Put this plan into effect by turning off your notifications when you get home and resisting the urge to check them. Consider turning your phone off and putting it away if you think you’ll be tempted to do it. Remember, the boundaries are to help you unplug and unwind. 

  1. Limit Social Media

Another great way to feel more relaxed and ready for bed is to limit your social media use. The easiest way to restrict it is to turn your phone off an hour before bed. This might not be an option if you use your cellphone for other purposes like an e-reader or a white noise machine. 

Try scheduling your social media time to an hour a day. That way, you don’t waste time mindlessly scrolling. Another great option is to limit your platforms to a couple of sites rather than all of them. You’ll be happy you don’t have to keep up with all the notifications. 

Follow These Steps to Detach

Following these tips will give you the best opportunity to get quality rest. Utilize mindfulness and breathing techniques to relax and unwind if you find it challenging to unplug. You’ll be entering dreamland in no time.

cookware illustration by Alex Bogdan for use by 360 Magazine

Six Winter Tips for Restaurant Management

The restaurant industry has witnessed more than its fair share of change over the preceding months. Now, just as things are starting to return to normal, the seasons have turned, demanding still more alterations.

You do need to do things differently in today’s world, but many of your tried-and-true practices from yesteryear will also benefit your customers. Here are six winter tips for restaurant management to increase your profit margin.

1. Improve Your Visibility

By 5 p.m., winter skies obscure your eatery under the cover of darkness. While humans can see with low light levels in partial darkness, it takes our eyes several hours to adjust. You might have the most clever billboard out front during daylight hours, but it won’t draw a single customer once the sun goes down unless you illuminate it.

Signs are the most visible communication tools a restaurant has. Ensure you use proper spelling and grammar on your signage — you don’t want to end up getting poked fun at on a subreddit forum after someone posts a picture. Use large, easily legible fonts, especially if your venue lies along a public thoroughfare like a highway. Potential customers don’t have time to interpret funky cursive at 55 mph.

Your graphics also matter. Think about what customers want. If you serve alcohol at your establishment, a beer bottle or cocktail glass lets thirsty travelers know where they can rinse a little road dust off their tongues. When it comes to food, think comfort this season — a mouthwatering roast or pie gets salivary glands flowing. 

2. Address Customer and Staff Safety Concerns

Despite public opinion cries of “hold, enough,” the Covid pandemic continues. Vaccines mean fewer restrictions and more reasons for restaurateurs to rejoice — but you still need to protect vulnerable customers and staff members alike. Doing so can increase your profits as you gain a reputation for an eatery that cares.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should change your layout to ensure all tables remain six feet apart. You should continue to limit seating capacity to encourage social distancing. Doing so may require you to adjust other policies. For example, you might decide to start taking reservations, even if you previously operated on a walk-in basis.

Additionally, it would help to keep and possibly expand your delivery and take-out options. If you don’t have a dedicated fleet, you can often find smaller delivery apps that provide service at a fraction of the price of large names like GrubHub. Adding extra touches — like various sauces and condiments — to take-out bags keeps customers coming back for more. Allow for as much customization as possible.

3. Update Your Menu With Seasonal Ingredients

Top chefs know that cooking in season results in improved overall nutrition and more delicious flavor. You should update your menu to reflect what’s in season and take advantage of local produce vendors.

For example, now is the time to add plenty of braised kale and steamed broccoli to your menu as they come into season this time of year. Other good choices include winter squash, collard greens, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and turnips.

Get creative with your drinks menu, too — cocktails can significantly pad your bottom line. Invent beverages unique to your venue so that if customers have a craving, they have to come through your door. Mexican restaurants can create a signature margarita. Those venues hoping to draw holiday traffic can craft red and green cocktails that make folks feel festive.

4. Adjust Your Hours of Operation

If you’re like many restaurants, you probably keep consistent hours of operation during ordinary times. You’ve no doubt noticed that the present is extraordinary.

Therefore, you might have to adjust your hours of operation based on customer demand and staff availability. Some venues choose to do so by closing certain days of the week. Others open a bit later or close earlier.

Base your business practices around the clientele you typically attract. For example, you might consider switching from lunch and dinner to an exclusive brunch-through-early-afternoon business model if you notice that you get slammed with corporate customers from nearby office buildings around noon but hear crickets in the evening. Could you bring on more midday staff, expand delivery options to local offices and curtail your dinner service?

5. Attract Large Groups and Avoid Slow Times

If you’re still struggling to rebuild from pandemic slowdowns, you might have to get a bit creative. Can you fill empty seats by attracting large groups, thus cutting back on your slower hours?

For example, many organizations are now returning to in-person work. Others are experimenting with hybrid solutions because many staff prefer telework arrangements. Could you partner with such local businesses, offering meeting space during your slower afternoon times? Their organization could replace a full month of conference room rent while increasing your traffic and sales.

Likewise, happy hour discounts and specials are the perfect way to drive business right now. Those who have grown weary of telecommuting welcome the opportunity to once more mix and mingle with colleagues in the afternoon. Find a low-cost appetizer special that people love and upsell your drinks, perhaps crafting special cocktails for this traditional social time.

6. Reward Your Staff Members

Many restaurants had a tough time finding staff members. In the hospitality industry, your team works together to create an experience for your customers — a job they can do more readily when they aren’t worried about how to pay their rent.

While the federal minimum wage remains at $2.13 for restaurant employees, you know that your staff deserves better. The living wage for a family of four is $68,808 per year, which breaks down to $16.54 if there are two wage-earners in the home, twice that if the individual is a single parent. Please consider increasing the hourly rate and implementing policies that ensure your workers receive fair compensation.

For example, some establishments include gratuity on the check to eliminate the risk that customers will dine and go without tipping. Others get rid of the tip system altogether, opting instead to find new sources of revenue or raise prices. Experiment and see what works best, including your team in the process. Ask for their input and democratically choose the best process.

Winter Tips for Restaurant Management

The restaurant industry knows how to overcome changes, especially after recent events. Implement these six winter management tips to improve your bottom line.

Rita Azar for use by 360 Magazine

Travel Tips During the Holidays

Travel Preparedness Expert Cheryl Nelson has generated a few travel tips to keep you and your family safe during the holidays! Let’s break down these travel tips.

Packing

Nelson encourages holiday travelers to not overpack! Ensuring that you and your traveling party have not overpacked can save a lot of time, stress and even money. Make sure that you only pack what you really need and know you will use! If you are traveling by plane and must check a bag, know your airline’s weight restrictions prior to check in. If you’re traveling with a roller bag, make sure that you can lift that bag into the overhead bin by yourself. If you also plan on buying more items on your trip, make sure to save extra space in your suitcase.

Another specific tip that Nelson has is to roll your clothes when packing them instead of folding. This surprisingly saves a lot of room!

When packing your medications, try not to pack every single medication or supplement bottle. Pack your pills in a pill container or small bags and label them. Nelson recommends keeping a cold shortening product with Zinc on-hand, such as Zicam, to deliver general health while traveling.

Vaccination cards

Travel expert Nelson recommends having your physical vaccination card on hand when traveling this holiday seasons. Some states and even restaurants (like New York City) require proof of vaccination, so it’s best to do your research on the area you’re traveling to beforehand. Definitely make note to bring your vaccination card when traveling outside of the U.S. Nelson also urges travelers to make copies of both the front and back of the card, and to also keep a spare copy in your luggage as well as at your home. Another smart tip would be to take photos of the card to keep on your smartphone.

Nelson suggests keeping your card in a sleeve like this to ensure its protection. She also advises to not laminate the card as there is a potential to add to the card with future booster shot information.

Read the updated CDC guidelines

Continue to consider the plans of your travel leading up to the anticipated dates of travel. Evaluate the amount of people you may be around, if there are COVID-19 outbreaks in the location and if there are specific restrictions in your place of travel. Although traveling by air is not risk-free, Nelson believes that traveling on a commercial airline to be safe. The cabin’s air is run through a HEPA filter and refreshed every few minutes, and airlines also still require masks as protection tactics.

Be mindful of others around you

Prioritize good personal hygiene throughout your trip. Wash your hands in warm water for at least 20 seconds, carry hand sanitizer and use it after touching common surfaces. If you are vaccinated and still feel more protected by wearing a mask, wear a mask. Throughout the duration of your trip, continue to make time for rest. Drink a lot of water and don’t forget to exercise, even by just walking. Remember that it is OK to give yourself a mental break! Nelsons encourages travelers to relax, and

Image by Ivory Nguyen for use by 360 Magazine

Twelve Tips For New Homeowners

Owning your first home is exciting, but it’s also a learning experience. You’ll have new responsibilities to handle that you might not think about until it’s too late. Here are the top 12 tips for new homeowners so you can stay ahead of repairs, fees or financial emergencies. Use them to create your dream house, even on a budget.

1. Collect All Your Paperwork

There’s much more paperwork to keep track of as a homeowner. Instead of a lease, you’ll have a deed to your house, a buyer’s contract, and documents to keep track of things like your mortgage payments or homeowner’s insurance. Collect everything in one place, like a fireproof safe. You’ll never worry about losing track of anything important.

2. Find a Long-Term Handyman

The best handyman will know how to fix necessary repairs and work with your preferences. You will likely stick with someone you know and trust for the long term. If your home needs repairs or upgrades, keep each contractor’s name or business card so you remember which teams you did or did not like.

3. Meet Your Neighbors

The renters in your previous apartment complex may have come and gone too frequently to create any lasting relationships. The people who live in your neighborhood will likely be there much longer than a few months. Figure out creative ways to meet them, like throwing a housewarming party or delivering baked goods. They’ll likely become great friends and make your neighborhood even more welcoming.

4. Schedule Pest Prevention

Landlords often take care of pest control on their properties, but now that’s up to you. Open your planner or electronic calendar and schedule regular prevention sprays around your home. It’s a crucial step to make your house safer because professional teams maintain a protective barrier against pests that lasts through every season and prevents costly damage.

5. Give Your Renovations Time

Even though you want to install new countertops or a new bathtub immediately after moving in, it could take more time. Have patience with your contractor’s estimates or your financial abilities. You’ll remain in your home for a while, so you have time to make careful, considerate decisions.

6. Change Your Locks

You might want to trust the previous homeowners to throw out their keys, but that doesn’t always happen. Changing your locks will ensure your family’s safety by guaranteeing that the only people who can access your home are those who live there.

7. Prioritize an Emergency Fund

Sometimes homeowners purchase new construction and assume they won’t have to repair anything for a long time. That isn’t always the case. A storm could damage your roof or flood your crawlspace, leading to thousands of dollars in damage.

Settle into your home and have some fun. After unpacking your boxes, start prioritizing an emergency fund. Put money aside for unexpected costs and you’ll be prepared for costly repairs later. Financial experts recommend saving three to six months of expenses, but you can also use an emergency fund calculator to figure out the best amount for your needs.

8. Replace Your Air Filters

Air filters catch dust, debris and allergens as your HVAC filter circulates air through your home. Most last for two months, so remember to replace them at least six times a year. If you forget, your family may have irritating respiratory problems related to breathing debris. Avoid unnecessary sneezing and coughing by proactively replacing your air filters as often as their packaging indicates.

9. Look for Smart ROI Projects

Homeowners want a good return on investment (ROI) for their property. When you need to move again, you should sell the house for more money than you bought it for. Local property prices may rise and make that more likely, but you can also guarantee a profit by picking specific renovations.

Research where you live to find the best projects with the highest ROI. Someone living in a hot climate could install a pool, while someone who lives in a cold environment might install a heated driveway. You can also consider smaller projects like getting modern appliances or remodeling your bathroom.

You might figure out another type of project by thinking about who could buy your house. If your home is in an area that attracts retirees, grab bars in the bathroom or an elevator in a multistory home will interest buyers faster. Consider these factors before investing in any home projects to get your money back and more.

10. Clean Your Carpets

Houses have more square footage than apartments, which means you probably have more carpet to maintain. Microscopic bacteria and debris will settle in the fibers and pose a health threat. Dirt can also stain your rugs and leave visible traffic patterns through every room.

It’s your new responsibility as a homeowner to schedule carpet cleaning appointments. A professional team can stop by with deep-cleaning machinery to make them look new. You can also invest in a cleaner and do it yourself. It depends on how badly your carpets need attention and how much time you can invest in them.

11. Save for Property Taxes

Property taxes often catch new homeowners by surprise. Renters don’t have to pay them because landlords cover the extra fees, but now that falls on your shoulders. Find your county website to pinpoint the current tax rate.

Your local government may change the tax rate every few years or once a decade. It depends on the laws surrounding property reappraisals. The website will also state the deadline for each year’s payment, which you should save in your financial planner.

Add the total cost to your monthly budget. Setting small sums aside every month will make the new bill less of a hassle when the deadline comes around.

12. Note Your HOA Rules

You may not have thought twice about buying a house with homeowners association (HOA) fees. The monthly bill may not cost too much, but it also means you have to live according to the association’s rules.

Look through any printed information or website pamphlets you received after moving in. They’ll outline precise rules that could cost exorbitant fees if broken, even accidentally. Pay attention to how you can decorate your yard for the holidays, what kinds of landscaping you can renovate and how trash collection works.

Some HOA boards make highly specific rules, while others are more relaxed. Save the paperwork where you’ll easily access it before starting any property projects or renovations. You can refer to it as you get used to the daily restrictions, like trash pickup, and when you want to update your home.

Keep These Tips in Mind

These are great tips for new homeowners because they cover things you might not think about otherwise. Remember to build an emergency savings, pay your property taxes and prevent pest-related damage to maintain your house and avoid surprise expenses.

Image via Booksavvy Public Relations for 360 Magazine

Karen Gershowitz – Travel Mania: Stories of Wanderlust

Yes, You CAN Fit Travel into a Busy Career. It Just Takes Planning.

By Karen Gershowitz

I know what you’re thinking: Travel is opening back up and I’m itching to go. But when I’m drowning in deadlines and work and want to spend time with family and friends, how can travel possibly fit in? The answer is, with planning.

My career as a marketing researcher and strategist is intense. Yet in 5 decades, I’ve managed to travel to 90 different countries. Travel is my passion. Reducing or giving it up, even for work, is out of the question. These competing priorities have taught me to plan ahead and be creative.  I talk about some of the many ways I’ve done this in my memoir Travel Mania: Stories of Wanderlust.

At the beginning of my career, two weeks of vacation was the maximum allowed. I planned those weeks around long weekends to get the most out of them. Four vacation days became nine-day trips.

Another possibility I discovered is to rollover vacation time, allowing for a longer trip.  You might take one week the first year, then plan for a three-week trip the next. That strategy allowed me to go to Tanzania for a photo safari and then climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

If you can afford it, consider unpaid leave. I did that for a trip to Australia that took me across the globe when after the flight and recovering from jetlag, two weeks would have been whittled down to just over a week of satisfying travel. That extra vacation time is unlikely to change your career trajectory and will leave you with memories for a lifetime. Negotiating extra travel time when taking a new job is a great tactic, and in this post- COVID world where labor supply is short, now might be the perfect time. Two weeks is far too short to satisfy a travel itch. In negotiating for extra vacation time when changing jobs—four weeks in total—I only brought it up after we had settled on pay. The deal with my boss was that the month had to be split into three periods scattered across the year. That worked for the company; my absence didn’t stop any projects from proceeding. It also satisfied my desire for travel. 

You might also consider taking an extended break prior to starting with a new employer. time off between jobs. It’s a magical time with no stresses about what you’ve left behind. When I negotiated for four weeks of vacation time, I also negotiated my start date. I gave myself a full month, which allowed me to take three separate trips–Hawaii, Spain and Puerto Rico. I began my new position fully rested, with a clear head and excitement about the work. 

If you do find yourself with a quiet stretch take advantage of it. Rather than fretting about not having work or creating make work, scour the internet for last minute deals. Traveling to a lesser known place may lead to fabulous, unexpected finds. Years ago, I went to Venezuela at the last moment and discovered nearly empty pristine beaches and an Italian village in the Andes.

Here are some tips for making whatever time you have enjoyable, worry-free and non-jeopardizing to your career.

  • Give everyone lots of advance notice if you will be gone for more than a few days.  No one likes surprises, least of all clients and colleagues. This gives them time to discuss what should happen while you are away.
  • Try to anticipate any issues, problems, or questions and make sure you’ve dealt with them before you leave. 
  • Update your boss and co-workers on any current projects in detail and in writing so they have a reference document if they need information. 
  • Make it clear that you will be unreachable during your away time (you don’t want to be brought back to “reality” while traveling).  If necessary, tell them wi-fi is likely to be unreliable where you will be staying.

For much of my career I have also traveled for business, both domestically and internationally. This allowed me to see the world while my clients paid for my flights and other expenses. If you are also lucky enough to travel for business, here are some ideas for how to experience the location beyond meeting rooms. 

  • Try to plan the trip near a weekend, then stay a couple of extra days. Or even plan your whole vacation in some desirable destination. I traveled for two weeks in Asia, following a meeting in Singapore.
  • Once virtual conferences become an option instead of a necessity, if you attend them and can choose, find ones that meet your needs and are in a destination you’d like to see. 
  • Ask local business associates what to see and do. Because they live there, they may have some great tips for restaurants and sites off the usual tourist routes.
  • Before going, look for events taking place while you’re there—concerts, ball games, walking tours, cooking classes, art or antique shows. 

I hate clichés, but where there’s a will, there’s a way really applies to fitting travel into a career. If you want it enough, plan ahead, don’t keep it a secret and enjoy every moment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Gershowitz, author of Travel Mania: Stories of Wanderlust, has been traveling since age 17 when she boarded a plane to Europe and stayed there for three years. She has since traveled to more than 90 countries, experiencing countless bold, once-in-a-lifetime adventures: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, trekking atop an elephant in Thailand, hiking in the blistering heat of the Moroccan desert—and much more. While studying ceramics as an undergraduate at the Kansas City Art Studio, Karen proposed and received a grant to photograph ceramics studios, potters and their work throughout Japan. She later built a career as a marketing strategist and researcher with companies who sent her around the globe to conduct focus groups, interviews and meetings. She lives in New York City, but is a citizen of the world.

Green Car by Mina Tocalini for 360 Magazine

Car Maintenance with FixMyCar

Routine Maintenance Every Car Should Keep Up On

Get your oil changed at your house, FixMyCar comes to you

Our vehicles are one of the largest expenses we have in life, and we want to get the most out of them. According to Consumer Reports, people should be able to get 200,000 miles out of their vehicle, because of the way they are built today. One of the most important factors in being able to do that, however, is making routine maintenance a priority. Every vehicle needs routine maintenance in order to help with the longevity and overall user experience. 

We all want the most out of our vehicles, but many people tend to neglect things like routine maintenance, explains Prashant Salla, founder of FixMyCar. If you keep up on this then you are greatly improving your chances that your vehicle will last longer, thus saving you money in the long run.

Most people tend to stick the owner’s manual in the glove box or take it into the house and they forget about it from that point. When they do that they may not be aware of what routine maintenance things should be done. Even if they did look through the owner’s manual there is a good chance they will forget about it. Here is a list of routine maintenance that every car should keep up on:

  • Oil changes. Getting routine oil changes is one of the most important things one can do to help a vehicle last longer. The oil and filter should be changed every 3,000 miles, unless you have a newer vehicle that recommends more mileage in between them. Some newer vehicles have longer intervals.     
  • Remember tires. It’s important to have good tires in order to keep the vehicle moving along well, but also to help keep everyone in it safer. There should be a routine check of tire pressure and depth, and tires should be rotated regularly. It’s also important to make sure your vehicle has good tires since they are the only contact with ground. 
  • Fluids. Fluids are the blood of your vehicle. Making sure the level & condition of all fluids like engine oil, transmission oil, coolant & brake fluid is in good condition & is above the level recommended will make your vehicle last longer. 
  • Outside clean. If you want to protect the exterior of your vehicle it’s important to keep up on detailing it. This will help to provide a protective barrier from the elements, and it will keep it looking good. 
  • Roll with the seasons. There are seasonal issues that need to be addressed to ensure cars are running well in the snow, heat, etc. Having a seasonal checkup is a good way to have these issues addressed. Get it checked before you go a long drive to avoid any issues. 

It’s important to not ignore issues that come up, such as if something doesn’t smell or sound right, added Salla. The sooner you have issues taken care of the better it will be. Keeping your car in good running condition will help preserve it longer, thus saving you a lot of money over the years. A car is a lot like a human body, preventative care is essential.

Consumer Reports also says that if someone does get 200,000 miles out of their vehicle it could potentially save them $30,000 or more. The average vehicle will take around 15 years to rack up that many miles. 

FixMyCar specializes in providing maintenance & repair services outside your house. Not only is it convenient to get your car fixed outside your house or office but also affordable than taking your car to a dealership FixMyCar’s model doesn’t have the high overhead that shops do, so their  prices tend to be 20-30% lower than dealership or repair shops. Plus, it has been designed to allow mechanics to make a higher salary & have a good work-life balance      

Services being offered by FixMyCar include diagnostic issues, such as the car not starting, check engine light on, strange noises, or not being sure what is wrong with it. Other services include battery and starter replacement, brakes and light engine repairs, routine maintenance, such as oil changes, and used car inspections for those who are purchasing or selling a car. They recently launched a FixMyCar Oil Change Membership. Members enjoy peace of mind where they no longer have to worry about scheduling and getting oil changes. FixMyCar reminds and performs oil changes outside their members’ houses or offices as part of their membership offering. 

The company was founded by Salla in 2018, after he received an initial $250,000 in funding capital from a stranger he met at a bar. Later, he secured another $1.6 million in investor funding, including from the likes of Marc Randolph from Netflix’s founding. Salla came to America in 2012 from India, where he was earning $100 per month. In the Detroit area, he earned his master’s degree in automotive engineering, and has flourished in the industry. In addition to revolutionizing the auto repair industry, he is a great example of an American immigrant success story.

Currently, FixMyCar is serving the areas of Detroit, Dallas, and Houston. They are also moving into Austin, and eventually plan to have services being offered around the country. To learn more about FixMyCar, visit the site.

About FixMyCar

Founded by Prashant Salla, FixMyCar is a mobile mechanic service that is revolutionizing the automotive repair industry. Founded by Salla in 2018, the company has locations in several major cities in two states, with plans to continue expanding nationally. Salla is an immigrant from India who has been able to achieve the American dream since moving to the country in 2012. To learn more about FixMyCar, visit the site.

Botanical Garden via Maria soloman for use by 360 Magazine

Lilian Jackman Offers Gardening Advice in Dr. Hauschka Livestream

By: Skyler Johnson

There are many reasons to garden, but sometimes it can be so hard to keep your plants alive. They’ll often die before you can enjoy your harvest. Dr. Hauschka, a skincare brand, recently did a livestream with gardener Lilian Jackman, founder and owner of Wilder Hill Gardens, in Conway, Massachusetts. She gave the following advice:

Don’t Overwater

One of the easiest ways to kill plants is to overwater them. People tend to think that their herbs and vegetables need as much water as they can get but that’s not true. Plants, like other creatures, have a limit to how much water they need. Jackman recommended only watering when the ground is dry. That way, you know they’re getting the perfect amount of water they need without getting too much. 

Bring Plants Inside for the Winter

It’s important to bring some plants inside for winter, as they will be able to stay alive in the proper conditions. She encourages people to keep plants in pots for easy transport during the winter. She also recommended getting full-spectrum UV bulbs, as they will help to give plants the light they need, and will also be visually appealing. As far as what plants should go inside, you have to know which environment they came from. She uses the example of rosemary: a Mediterranean plant. Because rosemary is Mediterranean, you should store it in an environment most similar to that environment – which for her, in Massachusetts, meant indoors. 

Think Like a Plant

Plants will communicate a lot with you, if you can understand them. If you’re giving plants too much water, they will droop. Observing the “behavior” of your plants can go a long way in determining how successful your garden will be. 

Add Diversity

Jackman recommends using three to four plants per pot – each of different sizes, styles, and characteristics. Different plants require different nutrients, and with more plant variety, more nutrients will be utilized. Also, variety makes your pot or planter more visually stimulating.  

Enjoy the Fruit of your Labor

One thing Jackman really stressed was utilizing the plants in your diet. If you have vegetables, pick and enjoy them. If you have herbs, use them in your food. It’s important to appreciate every aspect of the gardening process, especially the end results.

NB Pure illustration by Heather Skovlund (Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels) for 360 Magazine

Summer Tips for Melanoma Prevention

Protect yourself from melanoma without becoming deficient in vitamin D

By Leah Johnston, RDN

Don’t be so quick to overlook concerns around melanoma just because it’s often viewed as preventable. Melanoma is one of the most common cancers and the deadliest form of skin cancer. However, there is a conflict between how we prevent melanoma and how we ensure we are getting enough vitamin D. Sun exposure is the main source of this essential vitamin, but it’s also the primary culprit in the formation of melanoma. With May being Melanoma Awareness Month, it’s time to take notice and learn how we can protect our skin while still absorbing enough vitamin D.

The Stats

Cases of melanoma have been rising over the last few decades, especially among young adults, as it’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer among people aged 25 to 29. According to the Melanoma Research Alliance, one person dies from melanoma every hour of every day. The American Cancer Society reports that the risk for getting melanoma is approximately 2.6% (1 in 38) for whites, 0.1% (1 in 1,000) for Blacks, and 0.6% (1 in 167) for Hispanics. While fair skin poses a higher risk, darker complexions are also at risk.

How Melanoma forms

Melanocytes are cells that produce melanin and give skin its brown or tan color. It’s when melanocytes start to grow out of control on the skin’s top layer that cancer can develop and then spread to other parts of the body. Usually appearing as a brown or black spot or mole, melanoma is most commonly found on the chest and back for men and legs for women. It’s best not to ignore any irregular spots you may find on your skin because this cancer can also appear in other colors or patterns. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or tanning beds can damage DNA in cells and significantly increase the risk of melanoma. Early detection is important for effective treatment.

Tips for melanoma prevention:

  • Use a broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen all year when outdoors. This will help protect against sun damage, which can occur even when the sun might be hiding behind a cloud.
  • Limit sun exposure during the middle of the day when the UV rays are at their peak. Instead, plan outdoor time for the morning or later afternoon to lessen the risk. 
  • Opt for a spray tan over laying out by the pool. If you love to have a tan, spray tans are a safer option and will help protect the longevity of your skin.
  • Schedule annual skin exams with a dermatologist. This is especially important if you have fair skin or immediate family members who have had melanoma, such as a parent or sibling.

The importance of Vitamin D

What doesn’t vitamin D do? Known as the sunshine vitamin, the human body absorbs an inactive form of vitamin D from the sun, food, or supplements and converts it into an active form of vitamin that it can use. In its active form, vitamin D plays many roles in the body.

Bone Health: Vitamin D and calcium work together to maintain bone health and density. Calcium cannot be absorbed into bones without the help of vitamin D. A vitamin D deficiency can result in bone softening, known as osteomalacia, and muscle weakness. Osteoporosis can also be associated with vitamin D deficiency due to the lack of calcium absorption. Both osteoporosis and melanoma affect older adults making it essential to couple melanoma prevention strategies with vitamin D supplementation.

Immunity: Recently, researchers have been investigating a possible link between vitamin D deficiency and the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. While this research is still in its infancy, scientists have been finding that low vitamin D status may result in the increased severity of symptoms and higher mortality rate. More research is needed in this area.

Inflammation: Research has shown an association between vitamin D status and inflammation-related autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes. Vitamin D also helps to regulate insulin levels for diabetes management.

Depression: People with depression are more likely to have low vitamin D levels. A 2011 study found that women who ate more foods rich in vitamin D had a lower risk of depression than women who got less vitamin D in their diets. Vitamin D has also demonstrated the ability to improve the symptoms of depression.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 15 mcg (600 IU) for most children and adults up to the age of 70, according to the National Institutes of Health. Adults who over 70 need 20 mcg (800 IU) daily.

Tips for getting enough Vitamin D:

  • Get outside but be strategic. As previously discussed, the best time to be in the sun is in the morning or later afternoon. Plan your days to limit your exposure to the midday sun.
  • Add at least one vitamin D rich food into your daily diet. These may include fortified dairy and non-dairy beverages such as milk or orange juice, fortified cereals, salmon (wild caught contains more than farmed), sardines, and egg yolks. Wild mushrooms or those that have been treated with UV light are a good plant source of the vitamin. 
  • Take a daily Vitamin D supplement. This may be particularly important if you live in regions of the world that are further from the equator, such as the Midwest. If you struggle to remember or don’t enjoy taking pills, NB Pure has a Vitamin D3 supplement in the form of a spray for the utmost convenience.
  • Have your doctor check your vitamin D levels at least once a year. Getting an annual physical is important for your long-term health. Ask your doctor to make sure they check your vitamin D levels at that visit.

The sun may be the main reason for the increasing rates of melanoma, but it’s also our number one source of vitamin D. It is possible to protect yourself from developing melanoma and ensure that you are obtaining ample amounts of vitamin D to prevent the consequences of a deficiency.

Heather Skovlund's artowkr for 360 Magazine by use of 360 Magazine

Tips for Remote-Work Balance

5 Best Practices When Working From Home for Better Work-Life Balance 

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that millions of people around the world are working from home. Telecommuting has become the norm, and it is here to stay. Some report higher productivity when working from home. There is a flip side, too, though, to working remotely. Remote workers are more likely to experience burnout, with more than 50% likely to work longer hours. Burnout happens when the work-life balance goes awry, which can lead to physical and mental health issues. How do you strike a healthy work-life balance when working remotely? 

When working remotely, switching off your laptop after your official workday is easier said than done. This research says just as much. Here are 5 actionable tips that will help you separate your work life from your personal life for better physical and mental health. 

1. Create a separate work area

Creating separate areas for work and play helps you draw the line between when you are working and when you are taking time off. When you are working from home, it can go either way – you might find it difficult to find the motivation to work. After all, there is nobody watching you and holding you accountable, as long as you are meeting your deadlines. Or, you could constantly bring your work to the dinner table or even to your bed. 

Segregating areas can help you move in and out of work mode and chill mode easily. Even if you live in a studio apartment by yourself, create a dedicated work corner. Put a desk with a comfy chair and your basic office stationery. Home of Cozy has exhaustive guides to home and office furniture, so it becomes easy for you to choose the best value buy. 

When you routinely sit down to work in that corner, your brain automatically knows when it’s time to work and when it’s time to switch off. 

2. Set a routine

Before working remotely became the norm, most of you commuted to an office space. Whether it was via public transport or driving your own car, there was a gap between when you left home and when you sat down for work. It holds true even for people who live a block away from their company office. 

When you are working from home, it’s easy to rush from bed straight to your work corner. Doing so takes away from personal time. When it becomes an everyday occurrence, it hampers your work-life balance. Create an everyday routine to replicate that buffer you got when you were commuting to your office. 

Taking a walk outside when you first wake up, listening to your favorite podcast, or even keeping an hour away only for breakfast are all ways to gradually move into your workday.  

3. Set boundaries

When you are living with someone and working from home, it is important to set boundaries. Very often, you can get sucked into a household chore, which eats into your work time. You compensate for that loss by working a little later than usual. Before you know it, you are answering emails from your bed late at night and having marathon work calls at the dinner table. Your work-life balance goes for a toss. 

Set boundaries with both factions – your boss or clients and your family and friends. For instance, make a rule that you will not attend any work calls after 8 pm. Communicate it clearly to your manager and stick to it. Similarly, if you are living with your parents, tell them you are off-limits during certain hours of the day. For some people, a flexible schedule might be more conducive. People with kids might prefer to keep a loose routine and an overall commitment to work a set number of hours every day. Whatever rules you make for yourself, make sure you communicate those to the people around you. And learn to say no. 

4. Schedule times to check emails

Almost all of us have a smartphone today. We can check emails on the go. It is very easy to get sucked into responding to emails after your workday. Restrict refreshing your inbox to twice a day at specific times. The beginning of your workday and somewhere in the latter half of the day are good slots to reserve for checking and responding to emails. 

Disable email push notifications on your phone. Configure your Do Not Disturb settings such that you only get notifications for incoming calls and texts.  

5. Take frequent breaks

When you are working from an office, you probably get off your chair to go to the water cooler once every couple of hours. You gossip with your colleagues a little, go for a smoke, and take a break from screen time. At home, be mindful about punctuating your day with small breaks. Get up from your work desk every hour just to stretch. Take a 30-minute break and get a sandwich for lunch from your neighborhood Deli. 

Create a water-cooler corner at your home and use this space to interact with others around you. Maybe you can use this time to have a quick chat with your kid before you get back to work. Taking small breaks helps you retain focus, which translates to better productivity. The Pomodoro technique works on the same principle. 

Besides all of that, use technology for better time management. Google Calendar for blocking meeting times and Trello for tracking ongoing projects are two very effective time management tools.

 

Child illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Child Friendly Faith Project

Child Advocacy Group Highlights Abuse in Religious Institutions for Child Abuse Prevention Month

With National Child Abuse Prevention Month underway, the Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP), a national nonprofit that educates the public about religiously enabled child maltreatment, is raising awareness of crimes against children perpetrated in religious institutions.

The CFFP is also drawing attention to a dangerous court decision that could prevent abusive institutions from being held accountable and offering a valuable resource to parents and guardians to help them determine whether they should enroll or continue to enroll their children in certain religious institutions.

The little-known ecclesiastical abstention doctrine (EAD) guides courts in deciding First Amendment, religious matters. While historically the EAD has been raised in cases relating to claims of wrongful termination, in recent years religious schools facing lawsuits involving allegations of child harm have pushed courts to interpret the EAD very broadly to get cases dismissed. In one recent case, the Episcopal School of Dallas was permitted to ignore its own legal contracts with parents and the emotional harm suffered by a child never came to light.

Given this alarming legal precedent, parents and guardians of children who have been harmed by private institutions could lose their right to seek relief in court, while the institutions might never be held accountable.

Parents who have children enrolled in private, faith-based schools (or are considering enrolling them) should be aware of the potential harm posed by the EAD. With this in mind, CFFP’s campaign is offering parents valuable tips on how to determine whether they should enroll (or continue to enroll) their children in private, faith-based schools:

  • Determine whether the institution your child is enrolled in (or might be enrolled in) could claim to be faith-based. Some private schools have stretched the meaning of “faith-based” as a way to be shielded by the EAD in court. Even if an institution seems to operate in a way that appears secular, as long as a facility, school, program, or daycare operation can claim that it has some sort of faith-based or spiritual component, it could convince a court that it should be protected by the EAD and cannot be sued for child abuse or neglect.
  • Read the school’s contract carefully. Many schools specify in their contracts how legal issues must be resolved. For example, some require parents to agree to mediation. It’s important to know what legal recourses you’re agreeing to. However, be aware that if a case goes to court, the EAD does have the potential to make contracts of religious school’s moot.
  • Ask to see a school’s child-abuse prevention policies & procedures. Those that take abuse seriously and proactively develop and enforce comprehensive abuse-prevention policies are usually open to making these policies available and may even post them on their websites.
  • Research whether the school has a history of abuse allegations. Conduct an online search using the name of the institution and words such as “lawsuit,” “sued,” and “abuse” to determine if it has been accused of abuse or of covering up cases in the past. Be extremely wary if you find a pattern of abuse allegations, even if you do not find information about final court decisions.
  • Explore the educational programs of secular private or public schools. Children can receive a high-quality education and experience at many different types of schools. Consider the offerings of private secular schools or public schools, which would be unable to raise the EAD in court.

Recent abuse cases

The CFFP has previously exposed issues of religious institutional child abuse and offered support to survivors and affected families. An example is its efforts to make public the decades-long, egregious abuses perpetrated at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch. Recently, other cases have also made the news:

  • Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) — Last February, the SBC’s executive committee voted to expel two member churches for employing pastors who were convicted sex offenders. One pastor, who had been with his church since 2014, had pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory rape of a minor in the 1990s. The other pastor led his church since 2018, despite having been on Florida’s sex offender registry since 1993. In 2019, the SBC published a report on preventing and responding to cases of sexual abuse and later launched its “Caring Well Challenge” that calls on all SBC churches to adopt the report’s recommendations. Unfortunately, the program is voluntary.
  • Circle of Hope Girls Ranch — The owners and operators of this faith-based boarding school in Missouri face more than 100 criminal charges of sexual, physical and mental abuse of girls in their care. Their arrests came after their estranged daughter, Amanda Householder, posted social media videos of former residents talking about the abuse they endured. In an interview with a Missouri TV station, Householder said that victims had been speaking out since 2007. “Why did it take ten years for anyone to do anything?” she asked.

A dangerous court decision

While it’s heartening that these cases are receiving public attention, it is possible that they, and many more like them, could be dismissed thanks to a legal precedent set by a Texas appellate court in 2018. The case involved the Episcopal School of Dallas which invoked a common-law doctrine known as the “ecclesiastical abstention doctrine” (EAD). The EAD provides guidance to courts when weighing in on First-Amendment, religious matters. However, in the Dallas case, in which a father alleged that his son had been wrongfully expelled and in violation of school policy, it was applied very broadly and used to shield the school from being sued.

In another case involving Trinity Episcopal School in Galveston, Texas, a district court, in recognizing the EAD, threw out a lawsuit filed by a mother whose son had endured repeated racist bullying by other students. The mother wanted the school to hold the perpetrators accountable after the school had only demanded a written apology and suspended them for one day. Despite emotional trauma suffered by the victim, the judge agreed with the school’s claim that a court should not “intrude upon a religious institution’s management of its internal affairs and governance.”

“The EAD allows courts to prioritize a religious institution’s desire for secrecy and avoidance of accountability over the wellbeing of children,” said CFFP founder Janet Heimlich. “In cases in which organizations invoke the EAD, the public may never learn what abusive or neglectful actions took place, and parents may unwittingly enroll their children in those schools.”

To schedule an interview with a representative of the CFFP, an affected parent or a survivor of religious institutional child abuse, contact Jeff Salzgeber  through email or (512) 743-2659 cell.

The Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP) is a national, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to end religious child maltreatment by raising awareness of this issue through educational programs that benefit the general public, survivors, professionals, and faith communities.