Archive - November 2014

Awareness is Key (Lung Cancer Awareness Month)

Visible lungs and heart image for Lung Cancer Awareness Month

To a lot of literary folk, November is National Novel Writing Month, a month where amateurs and professionals write an entire novel within the span of a month. Thanks to technology, November is also National Blog Posting Month, which requires participants to write a post every single day of November.

These literary artists can easily be pictured hard at work at their desks. Desks that are often cluttered with cups of coffee and cigarette butts. That’s the quintessential image of a creative artist. Which brings us to the fact that November is also Lung Cancer Month. Lung cancer – a disease often caused by cigarette smoking.

Yes, you know where we are headed, but we promise not to preach. We only hope to raise awareness and offer a helping hand. So we are sharing a few facts about lung cancer and its related issues.

The Small Things

First, smoking is not the only cause of lung cancer. Being a cancer, it has a host of causes that we know of and yet several to be confirmed and discovered. Here is what we do know (minus the complicated sciency talk):

  • Tobacco, cigarette and pipe smoking – all increase chances of cancer
  • Passive smoking too
  • Symptoms include long-lasting cough, a cough that keeps getting worse, repetitive respiratory infections (like pneumonia and bronchitis), shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain and coughing blood
  • It is not uncommon to have none of these symptoms when diagnosed with lung cancer. If you’re concerned, get checked by your GP
  • Exercising helps circulate blood better, improves overall immunity and fights cancer growth
  • Green tea has properties that fight cancer cells
  • Eating more fruits, dark green veggies (like lettuce and even cabbage) are gooood
  • Turmeric is your secret weapon
  • Water is wonderful. Drink up!
  • Beans are queens
The Big Gesture
  • Leading a healthier lifestyle by eating healthier and exercising is a great way to keep lung cancer – and any cancer – at bay. Another way to fight lung cancer is to quit smoking. (Not preaching. Not judging. Just stating a fact.) So here are tips to help you work towards that ultimate goal:
  • Have a good reason to quit. You need to really want to quit to carry it off. It needs to mean a lot to you to give you that motivation and will power. Example, if you have kids and don’t want passive smoking to harm them. Or if the idea of having to undergo chemotherapy scares you
  • Counselling can help. Telling friends and family about your plan to quit will help too. Their encouragement and the professional help of a counsellor makes for good support
  • Going cold turkey is not a good idea. Smoking is a physical, psychological and chemical addiction. It needs a gradual cessation to work, so you can manage the withdrawal symptoms
  • Visit your doctor. Get pills to manage the physical withdrawal that your body will experience. Nicotine patches and lozenges are also a good idea
  • Use mind tricks! Often, a smoking habit is paired with an activity like drinking or clubbing, to avoid anything that triggers the urge to smoke. You may have to change your lifestyle a bit and avoid your smoke buddies initially. You can hang out with them again at a later stage.
  • Use more mind tricks! Whitewash your house so it doesn’t smell like a smoker’s apartment. Wash clothes sheets and tablecloths that smell of smoke, send curtains and carpets to the drycleaner. Get rid of the past and start afresh!
  • It’s okay if you relapse. It’s normal, actually. It takes a few tries before you’re able to kick the habit entirely, since it’s such a strong addiction.
  • Exercise! It’ll help you deal with weight gain from quitting and will keep you fit. Even an evening stroll is great.
  • With the latest move by India to deter smokers by not just making cigarettes more expensive, but attempting to ban the sale of loose cigarettes, making it more expensive for smokers to feed their habit, your kicking the habit will be that much sweeter for you. use the money you save to reward yourself for your willpower and adherence to a healthier life.

Salud!

Have a story about the time you tried to quit smoking? Share it with us in the comments below!

Want to raise awareness about the cause? Start campaigning here!

The New Phase (Launch of Creative Projects)

Creative image for launch of creative project category on Ketto

Here’s the fateful story of three guys who started a crowdfunding website, Ketto, to make the world a better place, and  what they’re up to now. Hint: It’s pretty creative! 

The Beginning

The story of Ketto is the handiwork of fate. It was the mysterious forces of destiny that brought together the three founders of the crowdfunding website. That and the dream of a better world. How did it all begin? Well, the story goes that actor Kunal Kapoor, who supports several charities, had been noticing the challenges NGOs repeatedly faced while fundraising, and wanted to ease their struggle. He began thinking of ways to make this happen.

At around this time, it began to dawn on finance professional Varun Sheth that he didn’t just want to make crores for his clients; he also wanted those crores to have a significant social impact, to better the world in some way. He began keenly observing the business paradigm of social causes and soon quit his job to focus on it entirely.

Within the same timeframe, Zaheer Adenwala, a technology professional, had been tinkering with the idea of transferring the fundraising model onto an online platform. He felt that India’s time had come and wanted to take the country’s social sector into the age of technology.

This is when fate intervened and brought these three individuals together. The trio happened to meet, they chatted, they realised they had the same passion for positive change, and they decided to sync forces and bring their ideas to life.

That’s how Ketto came to be launched on none other than India’s Independence Day (15th August) in 2012.

The Evolution

Ketto began as a simple vehicle for charitable organisations to gain independence, so to speak; to be able to fundraise more efficiently, quickly, easily and safely. Soon, it became a vehicle of independence not just for charities but for individuals too. People began to not just give to their favourite charities in a secure online space, but also began to fundraise for the NGOs themselves.

The journey to empowerment was set. What followed next was its evolution. Next came the ‘microsite’, a mini-website where NGOs could not only have their own campaign page but their own NGO website within Ketto, complete with branding, logo placement and their customised URL. This site or host page displayed the campaigns started for the NGO by their supporters.

The next wave came through corporations who began to start their own microsites on Ketto, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. Several professionals began campaigns under the umbrella of a corporate to raise funds for an NGO – all displayed on corporate microsites.

Then Ketto took it further. We gave corporations the opportunity to use our fundraising platform as a tool for recruitment and as a team building exercise. Fundraising became a task with a deadline, given to recruits. It also became a fun competition for departments within corporations. Ketto became a multifaceted website offering several services, all for a good cause.

The New Launch

This brings us to the newest phase. We announce the launch of a brand new facet to fundraising on Ketto – the creative projects genre. This category allows anyone who wants to fundraise for a creative project to start campaigning for it on Ketto. A film, a book, a fashion line, a dance performance, a play, a music album – any creative project at all.

Today, Ketto is a tool of and for empowerment, of and for the mind and soul. Ketto is the key to a better tomorrow. On that note, we open the doors to all your creative dreams. Because every good cause deserves support.

Start crowdfunding your creative project here!

 

It’s Written in the Stars (Zodiac Signs)

What Zodiac Signs say about your fundraising future

 Want to know what kind of campaign suits your zodiac sign the most? Read on…!

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

You, my Aries friend, are astrologically blessed with leadership qualities. Your enthusiasm is so infectious that you are in danger of running a ridiculously successful campaign. That’s a good thing, of course. Your adventurous spirit leads us to believe that a creative theme would suit you well. The fact that you thrive on challenges is just the perfect quality to up the ante on your campaign.

You would enjoy a themed campaign. A creative theme, that too. What creative idea could you go for? Well, off the top of our heads, something like pledging to shave your head or get a tattoo if your campaign’s goal amount is reached!

 

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

Taurus born soul, thy middle name is determination. And that is the ideal quality for campaigners to have. You are brimming with energy so we’re just going to go ahead and say you should get campaigning right away! Your determined focus is just what’s needed to reach out to people and gather support.

What kind of campaign should you start? How does the challenge of a marathon pique you?! Run, raise awareness, and raise funds for a good cause. Challenge accepted?!

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

Oh, mischievous Gemini, do we have the campaign idea for you! Your curious nature and penchant for variety leads us to believe you could run a campaign with any theme and fly with it. People will look up at the sky and wonder if you’re a bird, a plane or a shooting star. And then it’ll dawn on them… no, you’re a Ketto campaigner, soaring high and changing the world for the better! Lead on, good soul, lead on!

Since your preference is a little bit of everything, we leave the choice of theme to you. Want to have a birthday-themed campaign? Go for it! Want to fundraise your wedding? No problem. Participating in a cyclothon? Campaign it! Ketto is your smorgasbord!

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

You are a beautiful soul. You are liquid moonlight. You are poetry personified. And you have a touch of the genius in you too. That explains your eccentric bent. But we allow for that because we understand your sensitive nature.

For you, a campaign around Diwali or Christmas may well be ideal. Your soul will tap into the goodness of the festive spirit and bring out the good in others too. And here’s a hug from Team Ketto to you, just because!

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

The ever-jovial Leo, your circle of friends is loyal and constantly growing. The charisma you have has people swooning in your path  – left, right and centre! That’s just how magnetic your personality is.

Your dynamism will draw people to support your campaign, whatever it be. But if we were to choose a theme for you, we’d pick Creative. We’d just love to see what awesome things you can do with it!

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

We are glad to have you with us! You and Ketto were meant to be together! Your desire to do good and glass-half-full attitude is just so heartening. You refuse to see the world with cynicism which is so refreshing to us.

You don’t need a reason to do good. Just choose your cause and NGO and start helping the world!

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

A little birdie told us your secret desire is to do whatever you do with perfect consistency. Well, okay, your zodiac sign told us that. That’s a wonderful quality to have in life, by the way. And it’s a good trait to have while campaigning too.

For you, we predict the success of any campaigns. If you’d like us to delve into specifics, we choose for you a celebrity-themed campaign. Check out which causes your favourite celebrities are supporting, and start a campaign to support it too!

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

You are a winner all the way. Your resilience is what sees you through the toughest of hurdles. You will stand your ground no matter the opposition. You believe in the power of sticking to it. Because you know, ultimately, it will work out.

So we think running a campaign with a totally wild idea may interest you. Something creative. Or how about an event-based campaign? Halloween, maybe? Take your pick!

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

We see you changing the world and having a real impact on thousands of lives. You believe that anything is possible and that is what positive change is all about – the belief of triumphing above all odds. You could team up with a Scorpio friend and really go full throttle if you wanted to!

Imagine the good you could do for children or women’s issues or the disabled or elderly. Of course, all social causes are worthy and in need of support.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

Your resilience is incredible. You shine in the spotlight and that’s where you belong. So that’s where we are going to put you. This is your time to lead the masses to a better tomorrow.

You could start a string of campaigns in successive success. Go forth, campaigner. Do good things!

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

You are happiest when you are in nurture-mode. What better option to offer you but to start a campaign for children? You don’t need a theme. You have heart and the desire to do goodness. Need we say more?

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

One of your most endearing qualities is to transform dreams to reality. And one of your strongest desires is to connect with the world. Well, voila, we’ll just merge the two and have you start a creative campaign for a cause of your choice. The sky is the limit on turning dreams to reality, good friend.

Want to start your Zodiac Sign-approved campaign today?!

 

Hello! Namaste! Asalaamu Alaykum! (World Hello Day)

Cute cartoon image of bird tweeting hello for World Hello Day

Tomorrow is World Hello Day , but we just couldn’t wait to say ‘hello!’ 

There is such a thing as World Hello Day and it is in its 42nd year of existence! Celebrated each 21st November, it was created by two brothers, Brian and Michael McCormack, both graduates – the former from Arizona State University and the latter from Harvard University. Hello Day was born in reaction to the Egypt-Israel conflict, to highlight the importance of communication in preservation of peace.

What the brothers did was to write to leaders of the world and other influential figures, telling them about their idea and asking them to join in the effort to raise awareness about their initiative, in the hope of spreading goodwill and peace. (Sounds familiar? Isn’t it like sharing information about a campaign for a cause and asking for support?!)

The wonderful thing is that these world leaders made time in their busy schedules to respond. World Hello Day had 25 countries observing it when it debuted. And the number has climbed since. Today, at least 179 countries have celebrated the day in small or big ways. (Yes, reaching out to your supporters would get you responses as well!)

Visit the World Hello Day website and you can view some of the letters the founders received from world leaders, Nobel Prize winners, authors, thespians and others. You can read letters from Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II, Mikhail Gorbachev, Prince Rainier and more.

Anyone can participate in the movement by extending a simple ‘hello’ to ten people. If you’d like to do more, you can go further than just a cheery hello. Look back into your past. Is there someone in your life with whom you had a falling out and have severed communication? Why not extend an olive branch to them in reconciliation?

We understand this is not a simple thing to do. But if you’re up to it and feel enough time has elapsed, to be able to leave the past in the past and start afresh, this is a wonderful way and a wonderful day to initiate the gesture, to forgive and be forgiven.

Why wait till 21st November? Say ‘hello’ today!

Share with us your World Hello Day experiences in the comments below!

Start your own initiative for change!

 

Un-bully-vable! (Anti-Bullying Week)

Close-up of sad child's eyes for Anti-Bullying Week

Bullying isn’t just about the school playground. It’s about the office as well. We throw light on adult bullies at the workplace this Anti-Bullying Week.

What is Bullying

If we told you that bullying in the workplace is a common occurrence, would it surprise you? If it does, ask yourself this – are you aware of all the forms of bulling that currently exist? It is quite probable that you may have either experienced or witnessed bullying at your office but have been unaware that the behavior is classified as bullying.

“I was pretty surprised when a colleague pointed out to me that my boss was being a bully! Now that I’m more aware, I’m shocked how easily I had accepted his behavior as something bosses normally do,” confides 25-year-old travel agent Isha Kuruvilla.

So what exactly is bullying? By definition, any act of intimidation falls under the umbrella of bullying. It is aggression that could be verbal, physical, social or psychological. Being yelled at, threatened or berated, especially in the presence of coworkers; being repetitively humiliated; being socially excluded or ignored; facing sabotage of reputation or work; being made the butt of harsh comments and jokes – all these fall under the category of bullying.

“My boss would tell me my work was trash and then top it up with comments like ‘You should just start looking for another job’,” reveals Isha. “It upset me each time I heard it, but I kept telling myself that’s just how it works in the real world.” Sadly enough, Isha’s response is unsurprising.

Effects of Bullying

Bullying has become as commonplace as, well, offices, and therefore the misbelief that bullying is a part of the real world thrives. This is unfortunate since bullying can have several adverse effects on the victim. There is emotional distress, stress that often leads to health issues, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Bullying has adverse consequences not just for the victim but for the organization as well. An unhappy, stressed employee’s productivity will certainly be reduced. Stress also leads to illnesses which means the employee will be on sick leave often. Also not great for the organization. Nor the employee, who would have several medical bills to pay.

The Bullying Boss

If you’re wondering why it is that people bully, it’s not a big mystery. Power is a heady thing, and those who wield authority may manage it unwisely. “Bad managers tend to be from smaller companies. The larger ones have a human resources team set for quality – and behavior – control,” explains HR Executive Sushant Matre.

Although, we must point out here, large corporations can be insidious breeding grounds for bullies as well. “If the boss is the bully, it won’t be easy for subordinates to get him to stop. It could mean you losing your job,” shares Rima Patel, a part-time teacher who left a corporate job due to the stressful work environment caused by a bullying superior.

“This is true,” affirms Jonaki Upadhyay, Ph D, Psychology. “It’s a dicey situation. To challenge a bullying boss, you need allies. Often, an HR department might not do anything about bad bosses because the bully may be more profit-making than loss-making to the company. But if that scale ever tips, bullies are often fired. That is, if the relevant authorities are aware of the bullying.”

Why Bullies Bully

The reason why bullies bully is generally because they feel threatened by a colleague. The reason bullying thrives is competition. “Because it is individuals that are rewarded for their work, competition arises, and that leads to a whole lot of stuff,” explains Jonaki. “An ambitious fellow might want to get ahead, might want someone else’s better-paying job, might feel threatened by a co-worker’s ability, might just be mean-spirited – and therefore resorts to bullying to secure what he/she wants,” she lists.

How to Deal with Bullies

And the reason bullies are able to bully as long as they do is that victims often don’t speak up about it or report it. “You need to stand up for your right to be respected and treated with dignity,” advises Jonaki. “And it’s imperative to tackle the bullying. Either make the bully aware of his/her actions in an emotionally controlled manner or report a complaint so at least it’s on the record.”

Here’s an example of responding in a controlled manner: In Isha’s case, had she responded to her bullying boss by saying, “I understand your concern for better quality and will work on it. I have a concern too – the manner in which you communicate your displeasure,” the bullying might have been remedied.

Often, bullying bosses might not realize they are being perceived as bullies. If made aware of this in a diffused manner, they are likely to work on their behaviour. It’s important to approach them delicately and privately rather than aggressively in the presence of others.

Of course, if trying to diffuse the bullying doesn’t help and the victim’s mental and physical health is deteriorating, the best thing to do is move to another work environment.

Although bullying has not been outlawed yet, we hope one day it will. Until the day arrives, let’s continue to try and make our world a better place.

Have you experienced bullying? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Want to help make the world a kinder place? Start a campaign here!

 

Save Our Kids, Save Our Future (Awareness Days for Some Children’s Issues)

Close-up image of 2 underprivileged children for Children's Day

Children are our future. Therefore, it follows that for us – the world – to have a better future, the world’s children need to have one too. And for that to happen, each child on our planet needs to be a healthy, educated, happy child. Here comes the hiccup.

Chronic malnutrition affects 165 million children across the globe (70% of these children are in Asia alone). What starving child could possibly be happy? And how could a malnourished child, battered with illnesses and stunted physical and cognitive development, ever be able to get a decent education?

The future of 165 million children is bleak. Therefore the future of our world is bleak. And unfortunately, this is not the only statistic that impedes our future. There are other issues that harm a child’s growth and quality of life as well. Poverty is a big factor. Disease is another. Physical and sexual abuse also traumatize a child and adversely affect their development.

There are so many factors to tackle, to ensure a safe, bright future for our planet’s children. No wonder we have several assigned days and months to observe these issues, to raise awareness and collectively work towards improving the lives of our children and therefore, our future.

For instance, World Orphan Day is observed in November to raise awareness about the 153 million (approximately) orphans in the world who have lost either one or both parents. Heart-wrenching statistic, isn’t it? Imagine the struggles of a parentless child.

Hold on. There is more coming. World Orphan AIDS Day (in May) observes the struggles of orphans who have lost their parent/s due to AIDS. According to statistics, 17.8 million children across the world are presently struggling through this circumstance.

With the emotional trauma of being orphaned and trying to survive parentless, it’s unsurprising that we have Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (also in May) to try to ensure all children – be they orphaned or not – have the emotional support and guidance they need to help them navigate through the challenges of life.

Don’t think regular kids have anything much to be emotionally strained over? Did you know bullying is such a big factor in schools that there are movements like Anti-Bullying Day/Month (October) that aim to raise awareness of the several faces of bullying and how to put an end to it? Cyber bullying is the new-age avatar of bullying, a worrisome aspect that needs addressing. Other forms of bullying include physical bullying, emotional bullying and sexting. This last involves circulating nude photos or suggestive messages about a schoolmate.

Today, there are Pink, Blue and Purple Shirt Days to help raise awareness about the negative effects of bullying. It is unfortunate that many consider bullying a natural part of childhood, especially considering its disturbing by-product – suicide. The suicide rate among the youth is gradually climbing and needs to stop!

Want to do your bit to raise awareness in support of children? Support a campaign for children today! 

Want to do more? Start your own campaign and change the world for the better.

 

The Joy in Kindness (World Kindness Day)

World Kindness Day

In celebration of World Kindness Day (observed on November 13th) , Team Ketto thought of sharing the random acts of kindness that have been initiated, received or witnessed, that made them feel all fuzzy and happy inside.

So here goes:

“I had heard of this fellow, the ‘Placard Man’; he sounded like an urban legend, actually. A guy who stands at a traffic signal all day, smiling and holding a placard that says ‘Follow your religion, love everyone’. Then I saw his story covered in the papers. This guy, for no reason expect the goodness of his heart, wants to remind people of what really matters – brotherhood, kindness, love. It was just very refreshing to know. He expects no alms and has declined profitable offers because he’s content with the little that he has. A rare quality. What is rarer is being able to look beyond our own lives to help others. His small gesture brings smiles to all who go through the junction where he stands. That’s kindness for you!”
– Varun Sheth, Co-Founder & CEO

“There’s a lady in my building who feeds the stray dogs of the locality every evening, without fail. What an incredibly nice thing to do, when expenses are just going higher, and urban life is so fast-paced. Who bothers to give a thought to a stray animal while rushing to get from one place to the next? It just feels good to know there are still kind-hearted people around who do give a thought to these things.”
– Zaheer Adenwala, Co-Founder & CTO

“I had spent a few years in Glasgow, which is miles away from India – geographically and culturally, and I was touched at the kindness of the locals there. Considering all the horrific things we hear in the news, it’s good to know there are those who don’t fall into that category.”
– Pranav, NGO Relationship Manager

“I am often amazed at the daily kindnesses of my husband. Considering how cranky I can get at times, it’s a wonder he still wants to go out of his way to be kind to me! A man who voluntarily helps out in the kitchen is a big deal, so I appreciate his kindness there. There are times he’s ‘banished’ me from the kitchen so I can rest a while, which is a thoughtful gesture.  And there have been times that we have been in the heat of an argument and yet he has been kind through it. It’s so easy to be carelessly nasty and mean. For someone to rein that almost-primal instinct in and show kindness even through anger…. To me, that’s true kindness coming straight from the heart.”
 – Suchita Parikh-Mundul, Writer

“Our office boy is one of the kindest people I have come across. On one occasion when I left late from work, he went well out of his way and walked me to the station. I thought that was such a kind gesture! He could have been sullen and made a few cheap comments about having to stay at office later than usual. But no, instead, he was cheery and chivalrous. That’s goodness for you!”
– Eshita Munshi, Graphic Designer

“A friend of mine’s daughter had a health issue and needed to be hospitalized. The doctors needed to do several tests on her to figure out what the problem was and then treat and cure her. She had to be admitted for a minimum of 45 days. My friend didn’t have the money to pay for all this, so I thought I would help. I went around telling people about the situation and asking them to contribute to help my friend’s child. And the wonderful thing was that people genuinely helped. I managed to raise Rs. 23,000 towards the treatment costs. That is goodness in action!”
– Santoshkumar Pande, Sr. UI Developer

“A homeless person approached me once, asking for money. He told me about how he wanted to go back to his village to meet his ailing mother. I didn’t take his story seriously. How many times have people tried to give us sob stories to elicit money from us? But then he started to cry, and I began to doubt my disbelief. To this day, I don’t know if he was being truthful or just trying to feed a drug or alcohol addiction. But that day, I gave him the benefit of doubt and some money as a random act of kindness and I felt good about it.”
– Kuril Kanishthkumar, Sr. PHP Developer

“Two little street children came up to me once and asked me to buy them balloons. The balloon vendor was their father, but he needed to sell the balloons to make some money for his family, for his kids. It was so sad that their father had to sell balloons to other kids but couldn’t afford to give a couple to his own. That day, I bought them balloons and made them smile. For that moment, I gave them happiness and that makes me happy.”
– Shrusti Mavani, Jr. Content Writer

“I believe in kindness as a way of life. It’s the way you approach people – with kindness rather than judgement – that counts. I try to be kind through the day. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of everyday life. It’s easy to be short with someone because you’re under pressure or because you’re having a bad day. Kindness makes life sweeter.”
– Ruchi Vaidya, NGO Sales

Kindness certainly does make life sweeter. It’s also good for your health and doesn’t cost you anything. Can you think of a random act of kindness you’ve experienced or initiated? Share it with us in the comments below!

Can’t think of any? Why not start a campaign for a cause and initiate your own random act of kindness for the day?!

 

Don’t Worry, Be Happy (Stress Awareness Day)

Cute image for Stress Awareness Day post

Stress is an unfortunate component of urban life. Since Stress Awareness Day happenned this month, here’s some dope on stress and how to beat it

“Off with his head!”  – Queen of Hearts, Alice in Wonderland

Don’t you wish you could ‘behead’ the stresses and irritations in your life once and for all, just like the Queen of Hearts did? Pity we don’t live in Wonderland where the most wondrous things happen. Most of our daily routine consists of humdrum responsibilities related to work and family and the stress that seems a natural byproduct of it.

Let’s Talk About Stress

“For me, the daily stresses build up and have a snowball effect. Once the stresses have rolled into a massive ball, it begins to crush me and I’m flailing to be rescued,” shares Misba Huriwala, a 26-year-old finance manager. What little stresses is she referring to? “I’m rushing to get to work on time, and then there’s traffic, and there’s no parking which makes me even later, and when I finally get to work, I get an earful from my employer, and there’s work piled up and impossible deadlines to meet and upset clients who have to be dealt with, and leaving late from work and missing friends’ birthdays which gets them angry with me… It’s just so stressful and exhausting!” she exclaims breathlessly.

So maybe stay-at-home parents have it easier, right? Wrong.  “I’m a homemaker and mother of two seven-year-olds,” shares Karina Patel. “My routine is hectic. My day begins at six a.m. and ends around midnight. I prepare meals and getting the kids ready for school. I drop and pick them up, I keep the house clean and organized. I supervise homework and help the kids with their projects, I chauffer them to and from any after-school classes or parties they might have, I handle tantrums, I handle grocery shopping, I worry about whether I’m being a good parent, whether I’m teaching the kids the right values, about their future, about finances…. I’m constantly on the brink. Add an illness or health scare, a bad injury or complaint from school about bad behavior, or a fight with my husband, or the kids being mischievous…or even just me having a bad day… and I’m having a nervous breakdown.”

Stress Awareness Day

This is precisely why there is such a need to create awareness about stress, its effects on our health, and coping methods to help deal with stress. This is why every first Wednesday of November is Stress Awareness Day. This is why April is relegated Stress Awareness Month. There’s a lot of stresses in our daily lives and we need to be more aware of the causes and effects.

The Inside Story

Stress affects us internally and quietly. It’s a dangerous fella, it is! Biologically, it creates havoc in our system. The nervous system goes hyperactive to help us cope with the stressor, pumping adrenaline and cortisol, which are only good in small doses. Beyond that, stress is just a mean old fella, causing damage in its wake – both physiological and psychological.

The pulse quickens, the heart works harder, breath is rapid, the muscles get tense. Our body basically prepares to either fight the stressor or flee from it. This is good, because it keeps us alert and able to rescue ourselves from the nasty bugger. But when the body is in stress mode often, it begins to take its toll on us.

The After Story

What can you expect from chronic stress? Well, firstly, your body isn’t going to distinguish between emotional and physical stress, or between a major and minor stressor. Any stress is stressful for our system. Whether we’re upset about an argument with a friend or whether we’re being held at gun point (shudder!), our body reacts the same.

If there are a lot of worries and responsibilities to handle, our bodies may be in constant stress mode. And the more we stress, the more difficult it is to snap out of it. vicious bugger, isn’t it?

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (Stress, That Is)

Expect to fight off a gamut of health issues. Stress makes us more susceptible to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and infertility. Stress damages every part of our system. It can cause digestive disorders like diarrhea and constipation, sleep disorders – sleeping too much or too little, weight issues – overeating or loss of appetite, and depression. It even speeds up the ageing process.

The De-stress Express

Engineering student Shreyas Devarajan eases tension by listening to music or watching a sitcom. “It gives me a breather from the huge volume of books I need to plough through,” he shares.

“I meditate or do like Garfield does and just sleep,” grins graphic designer Eshaya Mehta.

Here is what psychologists recommend to handle stress:

  • Avoid. Yup, that’s the first rule in the de-stress handbook. If a situation stresses you out, avoid it. If a person stresses you out, avoid them too! Like the plague! Run for your life, my friend, run! Indulge in things that you enjoy instead!
  • Change. If you can’t avoid the stressor, change it. If the stressor is not within your control to change, change yourself. That is, change your thought process about the stressor and focus on the positives. Start to focus on things that calm you. Remember ‘My Favourite Things’, the song from The Sound of Music? Go with it.
  • Accept. If it’s something that can’t be changed, you will just have to bite down and accept it. If a fractured foot means you will miss out on work for a few days, so be it. It won’t be the end of the world – for you or for your company.

So relax, take a deep breath and focus on things that help you rather than cause harm. Start a campaign, for instance! Doing good for others is rewarding for you too. Don’t believe it? Check this out.

Start a campaign for a good cause or support one!

 

We Can Do It, Yes Vegan! (Veganism)

Vegetables and Veganism

Image courtesy Vegan Bites

To tip our hats to World Vegan Day (1st November) and celebrate Vegan Month, here’s all the skinny on the health benefits of Veganism

What is veganism?

Veganism is similar to vegetarianism, but whereas the latter is about excluding meats, the former goes a step further and also excludes dairy and dairy products. Veganism is not just about the food you eat. It is about the way you live. It is about being kind to yourself by eating healthier, and about being kind to animals by refusing to eat meat or any animal products and byproducts. This includes dairy and dairy products. A third dimension to veganism is refusing to wear leather and other animal skins as clothing or footwear.

What’s the concept behind veganism?

Why vegans choose not to eat meats is obvious – meat is the result of killing animals, birds and fish. Why vegans choose not to wear animal skins is obvious too – it also means killing animals. But what about dairy? We don’t kill cows to get milk, do we?

Agreed. We don’t kill cows for milk. But often, cows are kept in cruel conditions through their lifetimes. And since it is impossible for us to keep track of which farm our packaged milk comes from and what the conditions are in which the animals are kept, vegans shirk dairy altogether. So no milk and milk products equals no possibility of animal cruelty.

Is veganism a healthy option?

Undoubtedly. Switching to veganism does not result in being shortchanged on nutrients. There are alternative, kinder ways to get your dosage of calcium and protein instead of from milk, meat and eggs. Milk can be substituted with coconut milk, cashew milk and soya milk. Alternatives for meat include tofu and soya.

Is vegan food tasty?

Being vegan does not mean compromising on taste. Just because you refuse to harm animals does not mean you have to forego enjoyment of food. Nor does it mean giving up certain foods. Cheese made of cow’s milk is out, but that does not mean cheese made of coconut milk cannot be had! And did you know Oreos biscuits are Vegan? Hide’n’Seek biscuits too! No kidding! Being vegan doesn’t mean no desserts and no fun. You can make some delicious vegan cupcakes if you wished to!

It being vegan practical?

Logistically, it is not that difficult to live the vegan way. There are several ways to substitute dairy and meats. In a country that embraces vegetarianism, veganism is not that much of a stretch. Especially in a city like Mumbai. We may not have vegan restaurants abounding but we do already have restaurants that cater to Jains so it is just a matter of explaining what the food criteria are for being vegan. Restaurants can then cook you your meal as per your vegan parameters.

As for attire, saying ‘no’ to leather, fur and other animal skins is easy. If you like the look of it, faux is the way to go!

Is it easy to adopt veganism?

It depends on your constitution and personality. It depends on how passionate you are about adopting veganism as your lifestyle. Because that is what it is – a lifestyle overhaul. How much of veganism you want to adopt into your lifestyle is your choice.

What are the benefits of being vegan?

o   Since you will be eating healthier, you will have a bigger store of energy

o   You can say goodbye to constant sluggishness

o   Toxins in your system will reduce, making your system cleaner and more efficient

o   Your skin stands to improve

o   You may well lose a fair amount of weight from eating healthier

o   Your good karma will shoot up like crazy from the kindness you are doing on a daily basis

Are there any famous vegans?

There sure are! Jennifer Lopez turned to veganism to improve her health and happened to lose some weight too. Anne Hathaway is another actress who opted for a vegan lifestyle. Bryan Adams, Alec Baldwin, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia De Rossi and many other celebrities have chosen veganism because of their love for animals.

Want to raise awareness about veganism and its benefits? How about starting a campaign to fundraise for an animal shelter while spreading the good word?!

Start here!

 

Celebrating Children (Magic Bus, Nikhil Chinapa’s campaign, Akshayapatra)

Underprivileged children holding slates to ask for help towards their education

Since this month hosts Children’s Day (November 14th in India, November 20th everywhere else), we thought we would continue celebrating and supporting children. One way for us to do this via our blog post is to highlight all the cool things being done that aim to secure children’s fundamental rights. These also give YOU the opportunity to support children and do right by Children’s Day.

Educating through Sports

The delightfully-named NGO Magic Bus was established to provide wholesome education and life skills to children through sports and play. A brilliant stratagem to beat illiteracy and help transform the future of underprivileged children, we think. Magic Bus has been able to help 250,000 children so far and hopes to positively affect one million children’s lives by 2015! Want to be part of this incredible movement? Start a fundraiser for Magic Bus!

Girl-child Education

The one and only Nikhil Chinapa (yes, the very one who has worked with MTV and several music events) has been campaigning on Ketto in support of girl-child education. The campaign is raising funds for a cool programme called The Schooling Project by the Indu Jagmohan Toshniwal Charitable Foundation. The programme aims to provide holistic education and academic opportunities to 460 underprivileged girls. They are working towards giving these girls the opportunity to pursue their dreams, whether in professional sports, the creative arts (music included, but of course), environmental sciences…you get the picture!

If you choose to support this campaign, you are in for a special treat. Nikhil Chinapa has created some exclusive rewards to give to all those who contribute to his campaign. You can opt for tickets to his next music concert, or hang out with Nikhil in his DJ booth at the gig, or get a quick cash course in mixing, or have a post-event meal with him and shoot the breeze, or you could even have him perform at your birthday bash!! Check out his campaign page and choose your reward!

Ending Classroom Hunger

We are all aware of how malnutrition can impede every aspect of a child’s development. A hungry child would not be able to concentrate on academics. A malnourished child may well succumb to frequent illnesses and miss out on schooling completely.  This is the scenario NGO Akshayapatra is working on erasing for good. So far, student attendance has increased by around 11% thanks to their efforts. And a mere Rs. 750 is all they need to feed a child for an entire year. Imagine how many more children you could help if you fundraised! Get started here!

Want to start a campaign for an NGO of your choice?