Category: Teen Girls

Breaking Bad Smartphone Habits

Where would we be without our phones—the smart one that is? So many people have abandoned landlines and can’t imagine life without a smartphone. Not only is it a phone, but it’s also just about everything else you want it to be—a camera, an internet provider, an entertainment center and all the rest.

Honestly, I am as excited as the next person, though the thought of ditching my landline is a step too far. It’s my reliable device when all else fails. But I, too, am hooked on my smartphone and can’t leave home with it.

In my obsession with it, I have picked up a few bad habits along the way that are more trouble than they’re worth and can be quite relationship and health undermining, as well. You, too? I’m not surprised, so have dedicated this blog and a vlog (coming next week) to breaking bad phone habits such as:

Looking at your phone while in the company of another person
Using your phone during a meal or just having it on the table
Playing with your phone during class, a meeting, or a club
Sleeping with your phone or at least with it nearby so it is the first thing you see in morning and the last thing at night and sometimes in the middle of the night

What’s the problem, you might ask? These are norms nowadays! Everybody knows that. Well, I have to tell you, these habitual norms are not only rude, isolating, distracting and dismissive of others, they are also irritating, aggravating and sleep depriving. They have to go for the sake of effective communications, good emotional and mental wellbeing, and healthy relationships.

So how do we break these bad phone habits? I’ll come to that, but first let me tell you what doesn’t work permanently– exerting will power, analysing or guilting your way out the habits.

According to neuroscientists, habits are well, habitual, so you can’t will yourself out of them, think your way out, but it is possible to feel your way out of them through awareness. But first you have to notice the habit, experience it with awareness repeatedly, assess whether it serves you, is it still rewarding? Has it ever been? And finally when you and your brain experience the habit as unrewarding, you can break it.

Very straight forward isn’t it, but it takes focus and consistency to undo any habit that the brain has set to auto pilot. For example, I was an addictive cola drinker, especially in my 20s in New York City. Every morning, I had a certain cola and a cinnamon and raisin bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. I know. Yuck! No amount of telling me how unhealthy this was mattered. I knew it was a caffeine and sugar trap and all the rest and I could not stop until I experienced its undermining of my health repeatedly.

After years of doing this on auto pilot, I began to notice that every time I had a cola, I had palpitations. And the more aware I became, the more I saw that my habit was not rewarding. Pretty soon, I dropped all colas like they were hot coals and do not like them to this day.

Now about that smartphone, is it serving you or are you serving it at the expense of your sleep, emotional wellbeing, relationships and so on? How do you feel when someone else uses their phone in your company? How do you feel when you play with your phone on the down low? Is there a widening a gap between you and friends and family when the phone is all you can pay attention to? Are you losing sleep, feeling isolated, disconnected and all the rest?

In any case, turn the spotlight on the real time experience and feel the results of your behaviour in real time. You just might become fed up. I am getting there and wishing you Godspeed as you go forth to nail your bad smartphone habits.

For more hot tips on phone etiquette, check out Your Online Wellbeing Inside Out with Nicola Morgan and keep watching this space for my vlog next on the same subject.

Oh and yes, check out our short quiz on bad phone habits. Launch from the button below.

In the meantime, take care of you inside out and remember it is you I owe.


Your Online Reputation Matters

Your online reputation matters, like it or not, in the same way that your offline reputation counts.

No wonder I don’t have a big online personal presence, though it wouldn’t hurt to enhance it, as my personal brand is linked to UIO, which does have a pretty good online reputation, thanks to our social media manager.

But here is the thing to remember, the thing that terrifies me—everything you say and do online becomes a part of your online record. Yeah, you have an online record and all it takes is a quick search to pull it up.

Of course, there are privacy matters but make no mistake about it, privacy can become a little murky when posting comments, photos, etc… Whatever you post, well there is a trail, forever!

Gosh, forever is a long time and can and will follow you around from your teens, to university, to new relationships, to potential jobs and so on. So, as long as your posts represent you, your personal brand, and you can stand by them and not behind them in shame or in front of them to conceal them, you are good to go.

What a heavy burden to bear, living in front of a lens, that is, all the time. Sure, we all like to reflect on memories but there are few things we’d like to forget about, too.

Like the time that I sat humiliated in the stands during a basketball game and my boyfriend, who knew nothing about me intimately, nothing, decided to plant his hands upon my coated chest (I had on a puffer coat). And even if he had known me intimately, how disrespectful was that? Whatever happened to r-e-s-p-e-c-t? Obviously, this has left a scar on my psyche, but I do remember squirming my way out of it somehow and getting another boyfriend.

Imagine me finding a photo of the scene online the next day, the next month, the next year, the next decade. I’d be traumatised today. Thank goodness this was pre-online dominance for socialising. Thus, I was able to restore my reputation without too much of a fuss. For starters, I had much less of an audience to deal with.

Make no mistake about it, the thought of not having an online presence is unreasonable to ask nowadays, considering all the goodness that comes from social media such as broadening your horizons and communicating with people throughout the world. Without it, sharing my expat experiences or promoting UIO podcast would be incredibly challenging or downright impossible.

So, what can you do to protect your online reputation?

Don’t post inappropriate visual or written content!

And don’t be tempted to comment on inappropriate content, either. It might seem harmless and fun, but it could easily come back to haunt you.

Be mindful of others, only posting comments and photos of them with their permission.

Stick to the offline rule of refraining from heated discussions about religion, sex and politics, particularly with strangers, unless of course, you have a platform that warrants you to do so.

And finally, check out Online Safety with Charlotte Aynsley from series 3 of UIO podcast for more hot tips on staying safe online and protecting your reputation. It’s all about you inside out!

Vlog Out Now on Embracing Your Body Image

Still thinking about what to do about some aspect of your body image that is bothering you. Check out my latest vlog, Facts for Embracing Your Body Image . The key to finding happiness in the body you are in is to take care of it, it is the only one you have, and embrace it.

Of course, this is often easier said than done, particularly with the subliminal messages, surrounding us daily. Again, as pointed out in last week’s blog and reiterated in the related vlog, it is important to recognise a few facts to begin your body positivity journey.

Off you go, starting here. And don’t forget to subscribe if you already haven’t and tick that like button. Watch this space for blogs and a vlog next month on Social Media. Now that’s a topic I can’t wait to dive into. See you next week.

Get The Facts About Embracing Your Body Image

Body Image is one of those subjects that never goes away. Ageless, it is always topical, not surprisingly. I say this because body image is all about how you see yourself physically and mentally, too.

Whether that is your face, your hair, your size, your shape, it is all about you and only you live with yourself each second of the day. No wonder having a healthy body image is crucial to a healthy overall wellbeing.

Admittedly, keeping a healthy outlook about life is hard enough on its own sometimes, what with all the challenges of growing up, let alone keeping positive about body image.

Thus, I want to share a few simple facts about how to embrace your body image right where you are.

First, focus on what you like about your body and not what you don’t like. This is easier said than done, right? Most times the thing we worry about the most, fret about, dominates the mind and can have an eroding effect on self-esteem.

Remember how draining it was the last time you obsessed about what you didn’t like about yourself. Try the opposite. Find something you really like and there will be plenty of choice and focus on it for starters. All the rest will fade into the background. For more tips on how to do this, listen to Your Confidence Inside Out with Cheryl Grace.

Next, accept that there will be bad days, bad moments when nothing looks or feels right inside out. We all have times such as these. You are not alone!

When this happens control what you can and let go of the rest. It will somehow take care of itself. For example, if you don’t like your hairstyle, change it or if you don’t like how an outfit makes you feel, find one that makes feel good. All the rest, let it go! If it is acne, for example, it will go away. If its body shape or something genetic, embrace it! It is yours!

The key is to stay healthy both physically and mentally.

After this, get clued in about what and who influences your perception about yourself. Pay attention to what you watch, what you read, who you long to be like. Let’s face it, you don’t live in a vacuum, but you can exert control over what you take in.

Limit your social media visits and report anything that makes you feel uncomfortable and cut back on television and remember that actresses and social media influencers are paid to look a certain way. That’s their job!

And don’t compare yourself to your friends or foes for that matter. Remember, that people come in different shapes, sizes, heights, colours and so on. There is only one you!

Finally, take on a few healthy habits if you already haven’t and truly make them habits.

For example, eat foods that serve your mind and your body consistently. Cut back on sugar. As sweet as it is, it is behind a multitude of health problems. And do check out Your Body Inside Out podcast with Judit Ressinka, who offers tips on how to reinvent your favourite foods such as pizza.

And don’t forget that exercise is as much about your mental health as it is your physical health. No time for a full work out? Then take a short walk or a run. Judit suggests dancing and other creative ways to get exercising.

One last tip is to talk to someone you trust, a real person, particularly when you are stuck on a dislike or feeling down about something you’ve seen. It’s good to get it out and have a reality check.

In the meantime, take care of you inside out. Check out Your Body Image Inside Out with my personal trainer, Laura Miles, who shares her journey on developing a healthy body image, as well as How To Take Care of Your Body During Tough Times with Hope Virgo. And remember, it is you I owe.

Happy New Year!

TAPPING INTO YOUR ANXIETY

Anxiety is so personal, isn’t it? I have come to understand that over the last couple if years in particular. What I feel is what I feel and how I deal with it is personal, too. Make no mistake about it, I am not carrying it around like a thorn in my side or being pessimistic about it. I am just saying that when it is in my space – it is a force to be reckoned with.

Recently, someone told me about the children’s book There Is no Such Thing As a Dragon. In short, a little boy discovers and befriends a small dragon living in his home but his mother refuses to believe that the dragon exists. So the dragon gets bigger and bigger and only when she faces the fact that the dragon is real does it shrink to normal size. The little boy makes the point that the dragon just wants to be noticed.

Ah ha! Such is anxiety.

This is one of the tips in my latest vlog, Tapping Into Your Anxiety–Acknowledge it. And after doing this, you can gain control to manage it. Sounds like a plan to me. Check out Tapping Into Your Anxiety on my You Tube channel and please do give us a like and subscribe.

Take care of you inside out.

Navigating the New Normal Vlog Out Now

Our second vlog of the autumn season is out and available on YouTube. In Navigating the New Normal, I share some of our top tips from our podcast, same name, with author and public speaker Suzie Lavington, as well as a few tips from my own experiences.

Though the new world that we live in can be unsettling and daunting at times, it is crucial that we reframe our thoughts, for example, when we get tangled in a negative web. And instead of reviewing and regretting what we have missed out on, we will be better served to plan what could be ahead.

For example, if you missed your 16th birthday party, why not plan your 18th.

I am all for it and have already started looking ahead to brighter days. Make no mistake about it, this doesn’t mean that we don’t acknowledge our reality. Acknowledgement, of course, brings lots of sadness and in many cases grief. It is sticking with the sadness indefinitely that can be unhealthy and stagnating.

So check out Navigating the New Normal on YouTube and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel to get the vlogs as soon as they are posted, as well as new podcasts when they come your way.

Take care of you inside out and remember it is you I owe.

UIO LAUNCHES AUTUMN VLOGGING SEASON

Almost October! It’s hard to believe that Autumn 2021 is here in full colour. Shrouded often by grey to black clouds, still the days reveal deep purples, tantalising oranges and the subtle yet impressive off-whites that we’ve become so familiar with during the season. Not to mention some of the lovely sunsets that seemingly come over the earth just a little bit sooner than expected.

It’s my favourite season, though I can scarcely remember what happened in Autumn 2020! Upon reflection, I suspect it felt more like a time of mourning than a time of changing but in many ways, the two or are intrinsically linked. That’s why I decided to kick off UIO’s new vlogging season with the subject grief. Tough topic but a very important one all the same.

I never feel too far from grief nowadays and though I haven’t gotten cosy and comfortable with it, I have accepted it as a teacher. Check out my vlog on YouTube for 7 lessons learned and don’t forget to subscribe. And for more information on dealing with grief, listen to our podcast with Kristi Hugstad, the grief girl.

Take care of you inside and out and remember it is UIO. Stay tuned for the next vlog coming soon: Navigating the New Normal.

Glimpsing A Snippet of Hope

While it is early days yet for our Discover U campaign, launched on Snapchat a week ago, it is refreshing to be in the company of teenage girls throughout the world. Though traditionally our largest listening audiences come from the USA and the UK, through Snapchat, we have been able to reach out to girls from around the globe, including Nigeria and India, for example.

And we are eternally grateful for the opportunity to support all girls everywhere and to advocate on their behalf.

The timing for resources to deal with mounting challenges can never come too soon for those in great need and to my contemporary mind, never has so many segments of society faced unprecedented challenges on a daily basis as we are facing now, though I am sure my ancestors and their ancestors and so on might beg to differ.

Even so, I suspect their hopes and prayers for us is that we will continue to look and learn and spend less time reviewing and regretting. Not an easy task, even for those who might be staring hope in the face. This is those of us who are returning to school, to a snippet of life as we knew it, moving around with some sense of freedom, no matter how restricted it seems.

And for those who feel as if they can hardly breathe, owing to Covid 19 and the slew of problems that it has either brought or magnified, amongst already existing problems such as poverty, disease and so on, it is an enormous task to keep it moving and even feel a glimpse of hope.

To this end, we at UIO continue to hope when hope seems unattainable and are so excited to share this hope through our podcasts, which continue to serve as a practical resource to some, while offering encouragement and hope to others.

Via our Discover U campaign, we are sending out well wishes to you wherever you are and hoping that from whatever space you are in, you will find some source of joy and happiness.

In the meantime,  to listen to our podcasts, any of them, click here. It is for you and about you, inside out.

Women Influencing Without A Single Word

Gosh! It is has been far too long since I raised my head above the parapet. Nonetheless, head down, so to speak, doesn’t always come with negative connotations.

In my case, I have been working towards an exciting project to be announced in the coming weeks, which will no doubt bring us closer to you, our teenage girl audience, for whom we exist. In this closeness, our goal is to be there for you, for whatever it is that you need at this time in your life, which is a good segue to the topic —women who have influenced me positively.

Though UIO celebrates girls and women year around, Women’s History month is a wonderful time to reflect on the women who have influenced and shaped my life—too many to name in this space but I do want to highlight just a few, starting with the first women who set the stage for my life.

Of course, my mother took the lead on this, and in many ways shared this role with aunts and grandmothers, and other close women relatives and those in the wider community.  But out of this lot—it was my mother and her only sister, Dorothy, who I pay homage to today.

Without ever saying a single word, they both taught me lifelong lessons about being independent. It was all in the way they lived.  I, along with my siblings, called these women Tid and Auntie.  The latter name comes as no surprise to you but the affectionate name Tid—given to my mother by my oldest sister—determined what the rest of us would call her.

Though both Tid and Auntie are gone from this world, their footprints are stamped all over my life.  For example, Tid always worked, even when her generation of women were forfeiting work/careers for one reason or another.  Not Tid, she worked diligently both outside of the home and inside of it.  She never seemed to feel any ways tired, not that I could see.

Frankly, I am better for her influence. Though she was not delighted when I took off for New York at the tender age of 23 (my goodness),  it was in part due to her example that I had the the courage to do so. And then when all roads led to London, though emotions welled up again, she came to appreciate my independent spirit and must have wondered if she had anything to do with it.

Now that brings me to Auntie, who often, asked me where in the world did I get my courage to leave home and live in a place where I didn’t know a single soul—okay I knew one, Paul, of course, the reason that I upped and left the country.

You, I teased, reminding her that she had left Georgia, the only home she knew as a young woman to seek a better life in Ohio. So, what if she had the company of close kin for familiarity when she first arrived, she made her own life and still returned home to Georgia every chance she got.

As a little girl, I remember her sending me packages (coats, clothes) from afar and then the excitement of waiting for her to visit. She and some close cousins would drive for hours to arrive at our house sometimes very early in the morning or late at hight but no matter what time it was, Auntie looked refreshed.

Though I would often find myself wiping what little sleep I had gotten from my eyes as she exited the car, she exuded happiness and enthusiasm.

And when the two women got together, they exemplified togetherness, though they lived miles apart.

So here we are. I am miles apart from my own siblings and in some ways worlds apart too, but thanks, in part, to Tid and Auntie, I am thrilled to be me and have never shied away from an opportunity to step into independence.  And pre-Covid, you couldn’t keep me away from Georgia, remember!

Anyhow, independence and interdependence are inherently linked and no one has to say a single word about it. It just is and is influencing a whole lot of folks in the meantime.

Are you one of them? Do tell. Share your stories here.