What to Do If You Encounter a Mountain Lion

Mountain lions are majestic, but extremely dangerous creatures. It’s best to keep your distance and only admire them in zoo parks, without having to worry about your safety. However, if you find yourself camping or hiking in a territory known to be populated by mountain lions, keeping alert and knowing how to react in case of a mountain lion sighting could save you from a potentially dangerous situation.

First off, if you see a mountain lion that is far away (more than 100 yards), do your best not to attract its attention. In case you have children accompanying you, keep them close. Whatever you do, avoid making any rapid movements, as well as loud talking or shouting. If you behave accordingly, the mountain lion will likely go away, especially if you are in a group. There are less likely to attack herds.

If the mountain lion is closer to you, the most important thing to remember is to not panic. Again, stay in groups and be aware of the animal’s movements. Never turn your back or run, as its instinct will tell it to follow you and attack. Look for any weapons you can find around (sticks, rocks) and keep them at hand. Your goal should be to appear much dangerous than the mountain lion itself. For instance, you can look bigger by holding small children in your arms or placing them on your shoulders. If you have a dog with you, pick it up so it won’t be tempted to run and catch the mountain lion’s eye or make it even angrier.  

In case of an attack, be prepared to fight back. Act aggressively, yell and generally make a lot of noise. Throw your weapons at the animal and keep constant eye contact. Once you escape, call 911 and leave the area as soon as possible. 

Mountain lion attacks are quite rare these days. Nonetheless, knowing how to react in case one happens can only work in your favor. Stay safe!   

How to Write an Effective To-Do List

To-do lists are extremely useful – they allow you to be more organized and prevent you from forgetting about important tasks. Not to mention the sheer satisfaction of crossing things off and noticing how the list gets smaller and smaller as time goes by. Also, by using a to-do list you will be able to keep track of everything you have accomplished and you will be prouder of yourself at the end of the day.

Nonetheless, in order for your list to actually help, you have to make sure that it’s an effective one. First-off, a never-ending to-do list will work against you, so keep it short. Remember that your day is a limited size, so it makes sense for your list to be limited as well. Avoid feeling overwhelmed and rushed by only writing down what’s really important. 

In the same note, don’t add tasks to your list as you go along, unless you really need to. Think of it this way: if you start with ten tasks on your to-do lists and complete three, it feels like progress. If you complete three and add five others, however, you may feel discouraged or irritated. Additionally, you should learn how to prioritize your list. Figure out which tasks are more important and get them out of the way first. It will be easier to handle your more menial assignments once the big ones are out of the way.   

We are going to conclude with a simple trick – for each thing you want to get done during the day, write down a reward as well. For instance, if you are at work, you can allow yourself to check Facebook or read your favorite blog for a few minutes after you complete a big task. This simple tactic will keep you more motivated and productive.    

How to Successfully Set Financial Goals

Financial goals are different than financial dreams. While dreams are something you someday hope to achieve, goals are something you have carefully planned for. Setting goals allows you to take charge of your money, assess you current financial situation, and figure out what steps you need to take in order to slowly improve your finances over time. There are three things you need to do in order to successfully set financial goals. 

Write them down

Start with the easiest part – writing your goals down. Some might be big, like buying a house or paying off your credit card debt; others might be smaller, like saving for a new flat screen TV. Either way, you have to make sure that your goals are as specific and realistic as possible. For instance, earning 1 billion dollars in the next six months isn’t realistic, unless if you own a Fortune 500 company. 

Set a target date

Once you have written your goals down, create an estimate of how much they will cost. Then, figure out approximately how much time it will take you to save the amount of money needed to reach them and set a target date for each goal on your list. Use this as your deadline – if the goal isn’t time-bound, it’s possible that you will lose your motivation along the way and be tempted to fall into the trap of procrastination.

Budget

If you don’t have a monthly budget by now, you should really make one; budgeting is the best way to minimize your chances of overspending. It’s not as difficult or unpleasant as it may sound at first. It simply means that every month you allocate a certain amount of money for every expense you have (like rent, personal shopping, groceries, entertainment, savings) and you do your best to stay within that limit. 

Now, calculate how much you will need to save each month to reach your goals, based on the estimated cost of your goals and your target date. Include that amount in your monthly budget, under savings. 

That’s it. It’s time to put your plan into action and watch your goals turn into reality. Good luck!

How to React in Case of an Earthquake

Earthquakes can be extremely scary, and knowing how to react in case one occurs may actually save your life. You will have to assess your situation quickly, as you will likely only have a couple of seconds to take action. The general advice is not to panic, seek shelter, and wait until the earthquake passes to contact your loved ones and make sure that they are all right. 

If you are in your home, drop to the ground as fast as possible and take cover. Earthquakes usually occur without warning, so it’s recommended you do this as soon as the earthquake hits. Get under a desk or another sturdy piece of furniture. If possible, stay away from glass lighting fixtures or anything else that might break or fall. Don’t run outside and don’t hide under a doorway; you are safer under a table. Hold on to it and wait for the shaking to subside. After the earthquake passes, walk outside, preferably in an open area. Avoid using elevators, as the power might go out and you will find yourself trapped.

If the earthquake catches you outside, do your best to stay away from buildings, street lights, and utility wires. If you are in an open space, the risk of collapsing structures is diminished. Don’t try to heroically save someone from inside a building you are near to – you put your own life in danger and it’s unlikely you will be successful in your rescuing attempt. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, be patient, and calmly wait for the earthquake to pass.

If you are in a vehicle when the earthquake hits, stop it immediately and stay inside. Make sure you are not under a building, big tree or utility wire.  Once the danger has passed, avoid roads and bridges that might have been damaged by the earthquake. 

To sum up, if an earthquake hits, the best thing you can do if drop, cover, and hold on. Studies show that you are more likely to be injured by falling or flying objects than by a building collapsing. By using this technique you will be able to protect yourself from most of these injuries. 

How to Help Someone Who Is Having a Panic Attack

Witnessing someone having a panic attack can be pretty alarming. You want to help them out, but you may feel helpless and have no idea what to say in this type of situation. Not to worry – calming someone who is suffering from extreme anxiety can be a bit tricky, but as long as you act in a reassuring manner you have a better chance of guiding them to recovery.

First off, determine if the person is indeed suffering from a panic attack. Panic attacks can be quite distressing and last for about 5 minutes or more. They often happen without any warning and for no reason. The person suffering from a panic attack may experience palpitations or chest pain, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, trembling, sweating, and dizziness. If this is the first time the person is having a panic attack, you should immediately seek medical attention, especially if they have other medical problems as well, like asthma or diabetes.

In order to help them calm down, take them to a quiet area and show them that they are safe. Ask them to remain still and speak in a reassuring manner. The worst think you can do is dismiss their fears. Never say something like “You have nothing to worry about” or “stop overreacting” – this will only make matters worse. Don’t patronize them; instead, keep telling them that everything will be alright, that they are safe, and that you don’t plan to leave their side anytime soon.

Another wise idea would be to focus on helping the person suffering from a panic attack regain control of their breathing. This will ease the symptoms and calm them down. If possible, get them to breathe in a paper bag. If not, try counting breaths aloud. Encourage the individual to breathe in for one second and then out for another second, then gradually increase the count to two seconds, three seconds and so on until their breathing is regular again.

The most important thing to remember if you ever find yourself trying to help someone having a panic attack: don’t leave their side. They might be rude and annoying, but understand that they are going through something and do your best to help. Leaving them alone will likely aggravate their symptoms. 

Even if you don’t find anything to say to calm them down, your simple presence may be enough. Just remember to stay calm yourself and call 911 if the individual isn’t feeling better after 10 minutes. 

How to Become a Better Listener

Developing your listening skills will make you a better communicator and help you improve both your professional and personal relationships. We’ve gathered a few tips that will make you a better listener, below.

  • Remove all distractions – turn off the TV or radio, don’t play with your smartphone, and don’t let your eyes wander around the room;
  • Control your body language – body language reveals your interest or disinterest in the conversation. If you want to show that you are actively listening, lean slightly forward and make eye contact. Avoid crossing your arms, putting your hands in your pocket or playing with your hair (this is a clear sign of boredom);
  • A simple smile and nod will show the interlocutor that you’re interested in what they have to say;
  • Don’t interrupt – there’s nothing ruder than interruptions, and they can affect the flow of the conversation in a negative way. Resist the urge and politely allow the other person to finish what they want to share;
  • After the interlocutor finishes, clarify to ensure you got the message right – you can easily do this by paraphrasing (repeating what he or she just said in your own words);
  • Ask questions –pertinent and thoughtful questions show the interlocutor that you are taking an active interest in his or her life;
  • Don’t hurry the other person to “get to the good part” – they will likely feel cut off and uninteresting, which will make them become reluctant to share anything else;
  • Avoid cliché statements – don’t tell someone “I know exactly how you feel”, because you probably don’t. The interlocutor will feel patronized, and you will come off as insensitive and self-centered.     

Keep in mind that listening goes beyond hearing the words the other person is saying. It’s actually and active process that requires a lot of practice and control. Consider our tips and you will master the art of listening in no time. 

How Can I Improve My Posture?

If you usually spend your entire day at a desk, it’s likely that your posture will suffer over time. And that’s a shame, as posture can have a major impact on how we live and how we feel every day. Faulty posture can lead to back pain and neck pain, which are both unpleasant, to say the least. Luckily, there are a few things you can do if you are looking to get better posture. 

Practice yoga

There are several yoga poses that can help you improve your posture: Mountain Pose, Child’s Pose,Locust Pose, to only name a few. In fact, both yoga and Pilates help you strengthen the muscles of your abdomen and pelvic area (or your core), which form the foundation of good posture. Yoga will also improve your balance and flexibility, not to mention the fact that it will help you drop a few pounds or keep your current weight under control.  

Use a standing desk

Standing desks are still controversial, but they can tremendously help you with your posture. If you have a standing desk, you don’t have to use it all day, every day. However, just a couple of hours spent standing instead of hunched back over your laptop can work wonders when it comes to your posture. You can read more about the advantages and disadvantages of a standing desk on Lifehacker.

While sleeping

Yes, it’s true – you can improve your posture even while you are sleeping, with minimal effort. First off, use a firm mattress, which will provide better support to your entire body. Then, do your best to sleep on your back instead of side. This way, your spinal cord will get complete support from the mattress, and your shoulders will line up neatly with the body. Sleep on a flat pillow and place another one below your knees, to reduce strain on the lower lumbar region.

If you would like to avoid being hunched over and having chronic joint pain, it’s time to stand up straight. Use the tips above for inspiration and your posture will surely get better over time.