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Wednesday, November 12, 2014
5 Simple Steps to Change Your Habits
5 Simple Steps to Change Your Habits

Most people probably don’t realize this (I didn’t until it was brought to my attention), but in fact, it’s actually proven that once a habit is set, your brain goes into “auto-mode” and carries out the actions almost without putting much of any effort into it; all your brain needs is something to trigger this sequence. This process is called “chunking” and scientists say that the brain does this in order to save time for more important tasks instead of putting so much effort into routine tasks such as brushing your teeth or driving a car, which makes sense. However, no matter how set your habits are, your habits CAN be changed. All it takes is a strategic restructuring of your brain, and you’ll be well on your way. It’s a lot easier to do this than you would think.

Here are a few tips to helping to change your habits, big or small:

1. Learn which cues trigger your habits—Habits always have a cue, routine, reward cycle. Your brain gets a cue to perform a certain task, to think a certain thought, or to feel a certain emotion, and it will act on this cue. It is important to find out what it is exactly that triggers this habit. Once you’ve found that out, you can work on changing it. For instance, say you’re trying to eat better. If you are used to going out to a restaurant with a certain friend and you always order a dessert after your meal, maybe you can suggest a different restaurant to break this habit cycle. At the new restaurant, you may not even think to order a dessert. Another option to this problem is to order a salad before your meal, that way once your meal comes you won’t eat as much because you’ll be full from more healthy foods.

2. Make a plan—Write it down. It’s good to keep a visual reminder of why you want to change your habits. Make sure you have good, strong and reasonable motivators, such as family, bettering your mental or physical health. You will also want to devise a plan. Pick a “Start Date” and tell your buddies or family in order to create an accountability system. Plan for obstacles and possible setbacks AND how you will overcome them. This way when you come across something to hold you up, you’ll already have an idea of how to handle it. You also will want to envision yourself once you’ve made these changes; what will be the benefits to your health, how will this put you ahead in life, who will be proud of you, who will you be helping other than yourself. Use these things as motivation to get it done!

3. When trying to change a habit, don’t overwhelm yourself—Focus changing on one thing at a time, that way you can devote more energy to figuring out just what your habits are, what triggers them, and what steps you need to take so you can change these habits. Also, START SMALL. One step at a time. And keep in mind a small step in the right direction is still a step in the right direction, so don’t sell yourself short. For example, if you’re planning to cut back on social media and spend more time with friends and family, a good start would be to turn your phone off for one hour every week. Even more so, once you build a rewards system for this habit (enjoying the quality time spent with family members), you’ll be more inclined to do it and will want to increase the occurrence of this new habit.

4. Keep it up!—Once you have set a new, better habit, great! Just make sure you take the necessary steps to keep doing it, and stay away from those things that will trigger old habits! That’s the last thing you'll want.

5. Most importantly (because we’re only human, so you can’t expect to get it right every time) if you fail, figure out where you went wrong and try again!—Don’t give up on yourself after you’ve tried and failed. It’s okay to fail! We all do at one point or another. But use this as an opportunity to see where you went wrong, what you could have done better, and what you will do the next time around. Then go for it! If you have enough motivation to change your habits, then you will. It’s all up to you. After all, who doesn’t want to be a better person?


The above article was written by Janiqua Dunn.

Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2014 8:41 AM    0 comments

Thursday, September 11, 2014
Tips for Preparing for an Audition
Tips for Preparing for an Audition

If you are interested in any kind of performing arts, and wish to perform, whether you do it as a hobby or as a career, you will have to go through an audition, which is a time to showcase your talent.  Here are a few tips on what to do to prepare for an audition, whether you are an actor, singer, or a dancer.

1) Pick a relatable piece.  If you are acting, choose a monologue you can relate to.  For example, if the monologue has a sad tone, try to recall a sad memory in order to make your acting appear more genuine.  This also pertains to singers.  If you are a singer, then find a song you can relate to.  If you choose a love song, maybe think about your loved ones while you are singing.  Lastly, if you are a dancer, you can recall memories to make you feel the emotion of the song.  Maybe you would think of sad times if you have a slow ballad, and happy times if you have a more upbeat song.

2) Consistently practice.  Of course, not only should you prepare by performing your audition piece over and over, but also, try to perform for audiences as much as possible.  You may wish to simply perform informally for your friends and family, and if you can, try to find opportunities to perform at karaoke events, open mic nights, talent shows, etc.  You can even get your practice at different auditions.  You know have had enough practice if you can perfectly perform your piece even on your worst day ever.

3) Be aware of your abilities.  This tip is mostly pertinent for singers and dancers.  If you are a singer, be sure that your song has notes well within your vocal range, so that not only can you sing the song easily, but it will also sound great.  If you are a dancer, make sure you only perform moves that you know you are physically capable of doing.  Do not try to add complex moves hoping to impress the judges, if you are not capable of doing them.

4) Stay healthy.  Having a successful audition requires having both a healthy a voice and healthy body.  This means you should eat healthy, sleep sufficiently, and get some exercise everyday for at least a week before your audition.  When the day of the audition comes, if you are a singer, try not to consume foods that may affect your voices.  No matter what, however, always be sure to have enough food so that you have enough energy to perform your best at the audition, but also, do not overeat, so that you won't feel sick and full during the audition.  Lastly, drink plenty of water!

5) Don't worry about mistakes.  If you ever happen to make a mistake during your audition, don't worry too much.  Just pretend like it didn't happen and continue.  For example, if you are acting out a monologue and forget a line, just improvise some words that logically flow with the monologue.  If you are singing, you can do the same thing with lyrics.  You can just simply sing some vowels or other lyrics, but make sure you commit to what you do.  Also, remember that even professional singers don't always hit all the right notes.  If you are dancing and you forget a dance move, just think of something, but make sure you are still moving to the rhythm of the music.

6) Overcome stage fright.  Stage fright is simply an emotional state of mind.  When you walk into the audition room, convince yourself that you are capable of succeeding, and believe in yourself.  Just try to have fun and smile!

Posted Thursday, September 11, 2014 1:05 AM    0 comments

Thursday, September 4, 2014
Tips for Working in Science Laboratories
Tips for Working in Science Laboratories

As a student, whether you're in college or high school, you will definitely take some science classes in which you will need to perform labs.  Perhaps you may even have a job as a scientist.  Regardless, here's some tips for working in these types of labs, whether it may pertain to biology, chemistry, or physics.

1) Safety.  Always remember, safety first.  This means always wearing your personal protective equipment, which includes lab coats, goggles, and gloves.  Lab coats are meant to be flame retardant and also to prevent chemicals from spilling on your street clothes.  Also, if you are working with organic solvents, be sure that your gloves are nitrile, not latex, since nitrile is more resistant to dissolution.  Lastly, know where the safety shower, fire extinguisher, eye-wash stations, and emergency exits are.

2) Follow the procedure.  Not only should you follow the procedure, but you should be fairly familiar with it before you enter the lab setting.  This way, you can finish in an efficient amount of time, without having to ask too many questions.  The best way to familiarize yourself with the procedure is to handwrite the procedure in your lab notebook, while imagining that you are performing the lab.

3) Know the underlying theories and principles.  Do not just follow the procedure simply because it says so.  For example, ask yourself why you must lower the temperature, or why you are adding certain chemicals.  Know the relevant scientific theories to logically know why you are performing each step of the procedure.  This way, you will have a more enjoyable experience if you understand the lab, and furthermore, it will develop your critical thinking in case you have to perhaps develop your own procedure for something in the future.

4) Label everything.  Label all your containers with the names of the chemicals they contain.  This is because many liquid chemicals are clear, and they may easily be confused with other chemicals, or even just water.  Many solid chemicals are white, and therefore, can also be mixed up easily.  Be sure to appropriately label your containers so you do not accidentally mix things up.

5) Write down everything you do.  Of course, you do not need to write down absolutely everything you do.  For example, since you are expected to follow the procedure step by step, you do not need to write that down, but rather, you should write down observations and numerical data.  For example, if you notice a color change after the addition of a certain chemical, you can write that down.  Also, write down all of your numerical data.  For example, if the procedure asks you to get 1 milliliter of a certain chemical, and you only got 0.9 milliliters because of how difficult it is to obtain an exact volume, then you should write that down.

6) Be aware of safety hazards.  First, be aware all equipments are functioning properly, being sure that no outlets or short-circuited and there are no malfunctions of the machine.  Furthermore, also be aware of hazardous chemicals, their effects on you, and how you should handle them.  If you are in doubt, it is best to assume it's dangerous.  When it comes to glassware, look out for even the smallest cracks, because if cracked glassware is heated, it can easily and quickly shatter.  Lastly, if you are heating something, do not touch it, even if you think it has cooled, because hot glassware does not always appear to be so.

Posted Thursday, September 4, 2014 6:16 AM    1 comments

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