TIME Parenting

6 Things You Should Know About Young Girls in School

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Here's how to help your child survive the ins and outs of her social scene

One day your child feels like part of the gang; the next she’s been elbowed out of the lunch table or left off the invitation list for a birthday party. Here’s what you need to know to get her through the clique years—and endless exclusive photo tagging—with fewer scars.

1. Cliquishness is ingrained—and it starts early. “We come from a hunter-gatherer society,” says Julie Paquette MacEvoy, an assistant professor of psychology at Boston College who studies children’s social and emotional development. “There was a greater chance of survival if you were part of a group. The urge to form cliques is evolutionarily ingrained.” By toddlerhood, this behavior starts to show up. A 2014 study published in Psychological Science showed that children as young as two will mimic their behavior to match that of their peers so they don’t stand out from the crowd. And not long after toddlerhood, we’re able to pinpoint the person in our group with whom we’re closest. “I don’t think we ever stop using that label [best friend],” says Rosalind Wiseman, a parenting educator and the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes ($10, amazon.com). Why are we so attached to it? “We need to have the sense that we matter. If we have a best friend, that means we count to someone.” And though children today certainly won’t perish if they don’t have a core group of buddies, there are benefits, like a boost to self-esteem and a sense of belonging, says Wiseman. Also, it just feels good to be included. That’s why it’s so painful to be left out.

2. There are two types of dominant personalities. They typically emerge during middle school: one is positive and fun to be around, and the other is influential but also manipulative, says Brett Laursen, a professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University. If your child hangs out with a manipulative leader, she may feel demeaned fairly frequently. What helps: emphasizing the importance of thinking for herself and being her own person, not merely the sidekick of a bossy pal. “Have conversations about when it’s OK to give in and when it’s not,” says MacEvoy. For example, it’s fine to let the group’s leader decide which movie to watch if you don’t care, but it’s not OK for the queen bee to determine on her own who’s invited to go to the movie. If you happen to have a child who’s the leader of her clique, you can help her cultivate empathy by regularly asking her how her friends are feeling and doing.

3. Cliques can be physically painful. Research shows that exclusion triggers activity in the same part of the brain that controls physical pain, says Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. For some kids, ejection from a friend group can be more painful than being rejected by a crush because that pain involves only one person. “When you’re pushed out of a clique, that’s an entire group of people who don’t value you, care about you, or want to hang out with you,” says MacEvoy.

4. Your child’s pain is easy to downplay—but don’t. Yes, you know clique trouble is a universal experience and we pretty much all survive. But it’s important to take your child’s grief seriously. If the situation seems to demand it, ask teachers for help in making sure the exclusion isn’t overt or cruel. (Have them keep an eye out for bullying and name calling.) At home, listen to your child’s daily recaps (if she’s willing to share) and empathize, says MacEvoy. Tell her you understand why she’s so upset and that you would be, too. But don’t go that extra step of disparaging or belittling other kids. As much as it may feel good to both of you in the moment, it sets the wrong example and could make reconciliation difficult for your child later.

5. Role play at home will make school easier. To help make the days ahead feel surmountable, ask your child if she would like to talk through hypothetical social scenarios. What should your child do if she has to eat lunch by herself? (Maybe she can read a book while she eats, or you two can talk about who else she could approach.) What should she do if one of the girls says something mean to her? (Walk away.) For younger kids (up to around age 11 or 12), this exercise tends to feel empowering, says MacEvoy. Teenagers may find it cheesy; offer them an ear instead. If there’s potential for your child to patch things up or make amends, discuss the reasons for the exclusion in the first place. “Often it involves a member of the opposite sex—especially in adolescence—or just sheer jealousy,” says MacEvoy. If your child offended just one member of her clique (and the rest of the girls are excluding her as an act of solidarity), encourage your kid to talk to the person with whom there’s a real problem. If they can make up, it may be possible for the whole group to get back together, albeit with a bit of tension in the ranks.

6. Sometimes you just have to find new friends. When a group has truly caused pain—or formally ousted your child—she may have no choice but to leave it behind and seek out new friends. If she’s feeling intimidated (and who wouldn’t be?), talk about trying to make just one new friend rather than entering a whole new clique. Think about it: There’s a world of difference between eating lunch alone and eating lunch across from someone else. Having additional friends is great, too, but children are much less lonely when they have even one supportive friend, says Steven R. Asher, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina. It’s ultimately up to your child to find this new buddy (or buddies), but you can lay the groundwork. Nudge her toward a club, a sport, a volunteer activity, or even an after-school job where she can meet peers with similar interests. And take heart in the knowledge that this lonely state isn’t forever. Faris and his colleagues conducted an eight-week study in which they asked kids in the 8th through 12th grades to name their best friends every few weeks. “We found a shocking amount of turnover,” he says. In other words: Your child may feel excluded on Friday, but that doesn’t mean she’ll still be on the outs come Monday morning.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME Food & Drink

Why You Should Order a Latte Instead of Coffee

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New research explains why regular coffee may not be the best choice for commuters

Whether you’re carrying your cuppa from the coffee maker to the kitchen table or toting it along for your commute, your morning pick-me-up isn’t likely to make the journey without a few small spills. Turns out, though, your bleary-eyed, non-caffeinated self may not be totally to blame. New research, published in the journal Physics of Fluids, suggests that regular liquid is more prone to spilling than that with a little foam on top. Adding a few layers of bubbles—like the layer of milk foam in a latte—seems to significantly minimize the sloshing motion of liquid.

After a team of researchers from Princeton noticed a few real-world scenarios in which foamy liquids appeared to spill less—a pint of Guinness, which is a very foamy beer, for instance, seemed less prone to spills than other pub favorites and a Starbucks latte didn’t need a lid stopper to keep it from splashing—they resolved to find out why.

The scientists first constructed a narrow rectangular container made of glass, and filled it with water, glycerol (a substance that keeps fluid thick), and dishwashing detergent to create a uniform layer of bubbles to test. The container was then subjected to two types of movement—a quick side-to-side wave and a steady rocking back and forth—and the subsequent motion was recorded with a high-speed camera. The results showed that just five layers of foam decreased the height of the fluid’s waves tenfold.

Beyond informing your coffee or beer order, researchers say the findings may help engineers develop affordable and easy ways to transport liquids, including hazardous fluids like oil and gas. In the meantime, though, don’t let the findings justify too many latte orders: a small one will set you back about 120 calories, and plain coffee has plenty of health benefits—spills aside.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME Food & Drink

10 Ways to Make a Piece of Toast More Exciting

Here are infinite options for a slide of bread, perfect for any time of the day

Never underestimate the humble toast. Treat this culinary blank canvas with respect (Put down that bland white bread!) and top it creatively (Spiced beans! Sharp cheese! Roasted veggies!) and it becomes the ultimate last-minute-mealtime solution. Here are 10 tasty combos you’ll keep coming back to again and again.

 

  • Spiced White Bean Toast

    Sarah Karnasiewicz

    If you like hummus, this variation on the theme is a great change of pace. Mashing white beans with a dash of lemon juice and a drizzle of sesame oil gives them a pleasant creaminess and a tart, nutty edge. Finish things off with a flurry of red chili flakes for a fiery kick.

    Get the recipe.

  • Cucumber and Avocado Toast

    Sarah Karnasiewicz

    How do you improve on avocado toast? Just add cucumber. The cheerful green-on-green composition is a feast for the eyes and the creaminess of avocado acts as the perfect foil to cucumber’s fresh crunch. A final garnish of sesame seeds lends the combo a nutty note—and nods to its sushi-inspired flavors.

    Get the recipe.

  • Roasted Pepper, Cilantro, and Sardine Toast

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    Sarah Karnasiewicz

    It’s time to give sardines a shot. These affordable little fish are not only delicious nutritional powerhouses, packed with vitamin D, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids—they’re also one the most sustainable seafood options around. Here, a few strips of roasted red pepper and a pinch of chopped cilantro balance out their flavor beautifully.

    Get the recipe.

  • Ham and Pickle Toast

    Sarah Karnasiewicz

    It may not sound like much, but this simple toast tastes like a little bit of Gallic-inspired heaven. A smear of creamy butter anchors a salty slice of ham, and thinly sliced, crunchy, briny cornichons finish it off. The result? Imagine a charcuterie plate on a slice of bread.

    Get the recipe.

  • Fig and Cheddar Toast

    Sarah Karnasiewicz

    Inspired by that British pub classic known as the ploughman’s lunch, this sweet and salty vegetarian combo pairs earthy, fig jam with sharp, crumbly Cheddar cheese. Layer the lot with a few thinly sliced pears for an extra hit of sweetness.

    Get the recipe.

  • Pineapple, Mint, and Yogurt Toast

    Sarah Karnasiewicz

    Thick, tangy Greek yogurt is a great toast topping—and a healthier, protein-packed alternative to cream cheese. A spoonful of sunshiny bright, juicy pineapple and a generous drizzle of honey lend this toast some tangy sweetness and a final pinch of fresh, chopped mint gives it all a refreshing pop.

    Get the recipe.

  • Roasted Tomato and Ricotta Toast

    Sarah Karnasiewicz

    Even if they’re out of season and looking sad, tossing tomatoes with a spoonful of olive oil and roasting them until soft and charred brings out their juiciness and natural sweetness. For a simple Mediterranean-inspired snack, let them cool to room temperature and add to toast topped with a generous spoonful of fluffy fresh ricotta.

    Get the recipe.

  • Spicy Almond Butter and Banana Toast

    Sarah Karnasiewicz

    While regular honey is a perfectly acceptable substitute, a little drizzle of the hot stuff adds a wonderful, gentle burn to this classic combination of nut butter and banana. (And, if you can’t find a chile-infused honey like Bees Knees or Mike’s Hot Honey in a market near you, it’s not too hard to make your own.)

    Get the recipe.

  • Roast Beef, Chive, and Horseradish Toast

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    Sarah Karnasiewicz

    In this easy recipe, simple deli staples evoke the comforting flavors of a classic Sunday roast. A spoonful of horseradish goes a long way to enliven plain old cream cheese and chopped chives are a fresh, colorful finishing touch.

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  • Roasted Asparagus and Egg Toast

    Sarah Karnasiewicz

    Think of this as springtime on a slice of bread. Stir together lemon juice and mayo for a lazy spin on aioli and give asparagus a turn under the broiler to soften its skin and concentrate its flavor. Then, add sunny slices of hard-boiled egg for creaminess and color.

    Get the recipe.

    This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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    Alternative Ways to Serve Waffles

    You’ve Been Making French Toast All Wrong (Here’s How to Do It Right)

TIME health

7 Reasons to Have a Cup of Green Tea

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The ancient drink offers some major health benefits

“A cup of tea would restore my normality,” Douglas Adams wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And he was onto something. Turns out that regularly drinking green tea can do wonders for your body. Here are seven ways the drink gives you a boost:

1. Green tea is good for your bones. Move over, milk. Green tea could help slow the process of age-related bone loss and decrease the risk of fractures caused by osteoporosis, according to a study published in the journal ​Nutrition Research. Women who drank up to three cups of tea per day had a 30 percent lower risk of osteoporosis-related hip fractures, researchers found.

2. Green tea may help prevent cancer. Cancer rates are lower in countries, like Japan, where green tea is a go-to drink, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. While researchers can’t be sure that green tea alone is responsible for low cancer rates, the tea does contain the chemicals EGCG, EGC, ECG, and EC, which are known for their antioxidant activity. These chemicals may help protect cells from DNA damage, one of the first steps in the growth cancer cells. Plus, properties of green tea could help protect your skin from the sun’s UV damage, the leading cause of skin cancer.

3. Green tea could help you maintain a healthy weight. It could even reduce body fat, researchers found in one 12-week study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Green tea extract may also have the power to decrease obesity and obesity-related illness, like diabetes.

4. Green tea could lower your cholesterol. Green tea has been linked to lower levels of LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, according to a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Overall, tea drinkers had slightly lower levels of LDL than those who did not drink green tea.

5. Green tea may promote healthy gums. A lower rate of gum-tissue loss and bleeding was found in those who regularly drank green tea, according to researchers at a Japanese university. The more tea subjects drank, the fewer symptoms of periodontal disease they displayed, so downing more than one cup a day could go a long way to improving your oral health.

6. Green tea is good for your heart. Drinking green tea every day could help lower your risk of heart disease, according to Harvard Medical School. Regular tea drinkers showed a 26 percent lower risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke in a Japanese study of over 40,000 participants. But these participants consumed at least five cups of green tea per day, so drink up if you’re after a healthy heart.

7. Green tea gives you an energy boost. Even those trying to cut back on caffeine can reap the energy benefits of green tea. Because one eight-ounce cup of green tea contains 24 to 45 milligrams of caffeine, versus the 95 to 200 milligrams in a cup of coffee, tea offers a boost of energy with a lower risk of the headaches, shakiness, and nausea that come with caffeine overload. And that jolt of caffeine can boost exercise endurance, according to research published in the American Journal of Physiology. So whether you’re an athlete or just looking for a pick-me-up, it may help to go green.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME advice

How to Fix the Sunday Blues

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Here's how you can keep your mood in weekend mode till the clock strikes midnight

Even after the best of weekends (or especially after the best of weekends), there’s a cloud that descends. Chances are, you’ve felt it. In a 2013 poll from the career site Monster.com, 81 percent of American respondents said they get Sunday-night blues—and 59 percent said they experience them “really bad.” As laid-back “weekend you” begins to morph into uptight “weekday you,” anxiety over anticipating an over­flowing in-box, the drudgery of packing school lunches, and the tyranny of a mile-long to-do list sets in.

“Sunday nights aren’t considered the end of a great weekend but the beginning of something neither the child nor the adult is looking forward to,” says Stuart Brown, a psychiatrist and the founder of the National Institute for Play, in Carmel Valley, California. But what is the cause of this dread? And what can we do to change it? If you’re prone to Sunday-night blues, try one (or, uh, all) of the following tips. And welcome to a future with no more sad Sundays.

Do Sunday on Saturday

Typically we schedule fun stuff on Saturday, obligations on Sunday. This only reinforces the blues. Instead, take care of buzz-killing chores, errands, and commitments on Saturday, when you’re naturally in a better mood. This could also change your experience of tougher tasks. For example, visiting your great-aunt in the retirement home when you’re already feeling down may remind you of the shortness of life; seeing her with a fresh Saturday-morning mind-set might move you to reminisce about summers at the cabin (happier for her, too). This weekend switcheroo leaves you open for “moments of unencumbered joy” on Sunday, when your psyche is in need of them most, says Cassie Mogilner, Ph.D., a happiness researcher and an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Homework is yet another Sunday downer. Nagging kids to hit the books creates an angst-filled evening. “Children may feel more positive on Monday morning if Sunday night is free of last-minute preparations for tomorrow’s school day,” says Erika A. Patall, Ph.D., an assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Slot time for homework on Saturday, with a little extra on Sunday morning. (Hash it out with your children beforehand so you can work around soccer games and birthday parties.) This can be a hard sell for teenagers, but if you have little ones, instilling this habit now can really pay off in a multitude of ways. “In general, students learn more if they distribute their studying over time, rather than trying to cram the learning into one long session,” says Patall.

Become a Forward Thinker

Another reason you feel off on Sunday, of course, is that your head is swirling with tasks for the upcoming week. Spare yourself this stress by ending your workweek with a plan. “Before you leave the office on Friday, prep your desk so you can jump in Monday without missing a beat,” says Peggy Duncan, an Atlanta-based professional organizer. Create a Monday-specific to-do list, line up necessary files, and tag e-mails that require attention. If you have to check your work calendar over the weekend, do it Sunday morning to avoid having the prospect weigh on you all day, then dive into a distraction (exercise, playtime with the kids) to keep yourself from becoming consumed with work thoughts. If it is within your control, don’t schedule Monday-morning meetings. “They just add to the sense of dread,” Duncan explains.

Getting your act together at the end of the week can be a boon to all aspects of your life, from planning meals and organizing carpools to managing long-term school projects. Anticipating challenges preweekend will prevent late-night dashes to the market and Staples, and the headaches that go with them.

Be a Social Animal

Slipping into hermit mode is all too easy come Sunday, especially in the short days before daylight saving time kicks in. But there is plenty of research that shows that people who are less social tend to be less happy. And a Sunday already potentially mired in the blahs is when you’ll need contact with others the most. Can you stay in your pj’s and communicate on Facebook? “Perhaps,” says Mogilner. “But connecting over a computer isn’t as effective as connecting with living, breathing humans.”

Any regular Sunday social ritual—church for some, yoga or softball for others—can lift spirits. In fact, a 2010 study published in American Sociological Review found that people who routinely attend religious services were more satisfied with their lives than were those who didn’t. The reason, researchers determined, isn’t just related to faith; it’s also about having friends in the congregation who give people a sense of belonging and, in turn, higher levels of well-being.

You may get similar benefits without joining a formal group. Institute a standing date with pals to skip the exhausting back-and-forth of making plans, suggests Gretchen Rubin, the author of Better Than Before ($19, amazon.com), a book about mastering good habits. “Being accountable makes it much more likely that you won’t back out at the last minute,” she adds. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. (Who wants to wash a fondue pot on Sunday night?) And it doesn’t have to involve many people. Something low-maintenance—like a scheduled phone call with your sister, margaritas with the neighbors, or even Yahtzee night with the kids—can make all the difference.

Volunteering is one more way to connect, but it has an unexpected perk, too. Giving away your time makes you feel as if you have more time, reports a 2012 study published in Psychological Science.Hence, it extends your weekend. “You get a sense that you’re doing a lot with your time,” says Mogilner, who worked on the study. “That inspires you to do more later on that day,” which leads to more satisfaction. It’s a tactic to fend off that “Where did the weekend go?” spiral.

Make Over Sunday Night

Why is it that 7 p.m. on a Sunday feels like 11 p.m., but on every other day of the week 7 p.m. is just the start of the evening? Maybe because our idea of “doing nothing”—say, binge-watching Game of Thrones—is not necessarily the best medicine for relieving the Sunday blues.

Active leisure—a book club, practicing yoga, or even going to the movies—will make you happier than choosing something that is passive. “If you’re engaged in an activity that keeps you moving, you’re absorbed in the moment and your mind has much less room to allow workweek worries to sneak in and take hold,” says Mogilner. So while we’re forever grateful to HBO for transforming Sunday nights, you may want to DVR your favorite episodes and watch them on a night less fraught with anxiety—say, hump day.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME relationships

How to Have a Fair Fight

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With these ground rules, quarreling with your partner can actually help the relationship

Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a few months, a few years, or a few decades, you’re bound to fight with your partner at some point. But what constitutes “fighting” is different for every couple: Some only admit to having disagreements; others say they occasionally bicker; some seethe in silence, while others don’t believe they’ve had a real fight until someone yells. “There are negative and unhealthy ways to fight, but disagreeing is not unhealthy,” says Laurie Mintz, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Florida and author of Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex. Since you’re going to squabble, try these eight ways to stay in fighting form without going down for the count.

Keep the goal of the fight in mind.

“The goal of the fight is to get closer, to understand each other better, to resolve an issue so you don’t have to face it over and over again,” says Mintz. Take a deep breath during the fight and think to yourself, “This is a person I love and respect and they probably have a valid point. I need to listen and to find a grain of truth in what they’re saying.” Nothing de-escalates an argument more than someone acknowledging the truth in what the other person is saying, even if they’re not in complete agreement.

Voice grievances the right way.

Before the fight even begins, couples should ideally share a culture of appreciation and respect so that they don’t resort to defamation of character, says Carrie Cole, M.Ed., LPC-S, Certified Gottman Master Trainer, Center For Relationship Wellness. If you want to have a difficult discussion before it becomes a fight, Mintz suggests saying, “There’s something I want to talk about, is this a good time?” Then start the conversation in a gentle way and take ownership of your issue, saying, “I have a problem with…[fill in the blank],” suggests Cole. Allow yourself to accept input from your partner and try to see things from their point of view. Remember, part of the reason you’re with this person is that your value systems are aligned.

Know when it’s okay to go to bed mad.

You probably heard that “you should never go to bed angry,” but experts say there are times when you might need to sleep on the issue. If you or your partner is exhausted—or one of you drank alcohol that escalated the fight—it’s okay to say, “I love you, let’s talk about it in the morning.” By then, hopefully the intensity will have dissipated, and one of you might realize you were just tired or feeling sensitive. “You have to judge the situation,” says Mintz. “If you’re too exhausted to resolve a fight, stop it before it goes downhill fast.” Just be sure to address it within 24 to 48 hours, before you get wrapped up in life again. Because if you just “move on” but aren’t emotionally connected, the next argument that comes up will likely include this fight in it as well and be too overwhelming to deal with, says Cole.

Don’t have a “kitchen sink” fight.

If you and your partner are arguing about finances, don’t throw in “everything and the kitchen sink,” meaning other grievances you have about parenting, in-laws, sex, or anything else that isn’t immediately relevant. Keep the fight focused on what you’re fighting about. Resolve one issue at a time and don’t bring everything into it. If there’s an issue from the past that keeps resurfacing when you argue, set aside time to deal with it when you’re not mad, or consider addressing it in couples counseling.

Be a master communicator.

While you might be tempted to unleash fury on your husband when he’s late picking you up, it’s better to start with “I” statements and own your feelings. We know it’s not easy to speak calmly and share your emotions when you’re fired up about something, but yelling, “You left me waiting for 20 minutes and areso inconsiderate!” will elicit a different response from your partner than, “I was left waiting for 20 minutes and it made me feel uncared for and hurt.” Describe yourself rather than your partner. “Instead of calling your partner a liar, say something like, ‘I need transparency and honesty,’” says Cole.

Put yourself in timeout.

If things are getting heated and the fight isn’t going well, take a break. When you get very upset, your heart rate goes up and stress hormones are released, says Cole. Not only that but the brain’s frontal lobes, which handle logic and communication skills, shut down. What is activated in the brain is the “flight or fight response” that our cavewoman ancestors used to deal with life-threatening situations. The bottom line: When you’re angry, you might be in danger of engaging your mouth before your brain and saying something hurtful, so tell your partner that you need a timeout to think it through, suggests Mintz.

Remain emotionally trustworthy.

Avoid saying things like “I’m done,” “Let’s end this,” or “I want a divorce” when you’re in a fight. “Someone might say this because they want to grab their partner’s attention,” says Cole. “But it makes their partner feel unsafe and insecure in the relationship.” If those kinds of things get said often, then the partner either stops believing them, or feels that sharing feelings will “end” the relationship. “Bad words are like bullets—you can’t take them back once they’re out,” says Mintz. Fighting fairly is about slowing yourself down and asking yourself if you’re arguing to get closer or to hurt your partner. If you did say something that hurt your loved one, stop and say, “I messed up, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”

Pick and choose your battles.

When you’re living with someone, it’s safe to assume they’re going to do things that you don’t agree with or that get under your skin. While you shouldn’t complain about every annoying thing your partner does, if one of them truly hurts or upsets you and you can’t let it go, make sure you address the issue so it doesn’t appear in other fights, suggests Mintz. And be willing to “give in” on some things. Decide what you are willing to be flexible with (perhaps not griping out loud about dirty socks left on the floor) and work to resolve things you feel more strongly about (like if your partner makes fun of you in front of friends).

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME health

5 Fitness Apps for Every Type of Workout

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Break a sweat with one of these reliable workout buddies

If you’re looking for a better way to log your workouts, try your phone. New research published in JAMA suggests that most smartphone apps are just as reliable and accurate for tracking fitness as other wearable devices, like pedometers and accelerometers. They’re also cheaper. A good accelerometer can set you back anywhere from $25 to $250, but if you already own a smartphone, most mainstream fitness apps don’t cost more than a few bucks. Many are even free.

So step up your workout game and track progress reliably with these handy fitness apps.

For the Runner

The Nike+ Running app is designed to help you reach your goals. Focus on speed or distance, and stock up on digital trophies as you hit new milestones. The app comes with GPS and a time tracking capability, as well as a calorie counter. It also has built-in training programs for distances ranging from 5Ks to full marathons. Plus, Nike+ syncs up with your music and gives you the option to program “power songs” that play when you need an extra boost. Want a workout pal? Buddy up with friends on the app to track each other’s progress and challenge one another.

To buy: Free, itunes.com or play.google.com

For the Yogi

Want a yoga teacher in your living room? Yoga Studio offers 65 yoga (and meditation) classes, complete with nearly 300 different poses. The app allows you to track your progress, mark your favorites, and schedule future workouts so you never miss a class. Not into the sequences offered? Spice things up by building your own. Focus on strength, flexibility, balance, relaxation, or a combination of the styles. And with videos to go with each exercise, you can always look to the “teacher” to check your form and stay on track. Namaste to that!

To buy: $4, itunes.com

For the Cyclist

If your favorite form of fitness involves two wheels, Strava can help you train. Its GPS and timer track your workouts and report elevation gains, overall speed, and calories burned. Riders with a competitive streak can climb the leader boards by setting personal records or overall speed records over stretches of road or bike path that see a lot of traffic. Find your cyclist friends on Strava, and cheer them on by giving out kudos and comments on their own rides. They can do the same for you.

To buy: Free, itunes.com or play.google.com

For the Outdoorsy Athlete

Get most of your physical activity outside? Adventurers of all types can train harder with The North Face’s Mountain Athletics app. The six-week training programs are based on gender and catered toward six different areas: backcountry skiing, all-mountain skiing, running, alpine climbing, rock climbing, and general fitness. Step-by-step videos demonstrate workouts and proper form. Athletes can work toward improvement in their specific sports to up stamina, technique, and overall performance. Use the app’s tracking tools to keep count of the time you spend working out and view summary reports of your progress so far.

To buy: Free, itunes.com

For Everyone

Maybe you’re not looking to run a marathon or climb a mountain. You just want to step up your physical activity in an effort to stay healthy. Movement tracker Human may be your best bet. The goal of the Human app is to inspire you to move for at least 30 minutes each day. It automatically tracks walking, running, and biking, while counting time, distance traveled, and calories burned. Though not specifically categorized, Human also keeps track of your other movements—think cleaning the house, heading to the mall, and hitting the dance floor—so you know exactly how much activity you log each day.

To buy: Free, itunes.com

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME relationships

5 Types of Friends That Everyone Has

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Because life is a journey we walk together through

The Comic Relief

Recently a close pal and I were both coping with very ill parents. There’s nothing funny about disease and dying, but for a whole year we compared notes in a humorous way. We each used hyperbole to describe our plights and made dark jokes about whose family situation was more depressing. We made fun to relieve our sadness (albeit temporarily), and that ability to make each other laugh helped us both get through the tragedy. Another good thing about a friend with a great sense of humor? She usually has warmth and compassion to spare.

Lucinda Rosenfeld is the author of four novels, including The Pretty One ($26, amazon.com) and I’m So Happy for You ($14, amazon.com). A former friendship and advice columnist for Slate, she lives in New York City.

The Life Coach

Because of our busy lives, I hardly ever speak to one of my closest friends. But it doesn’t really matter. When we do connect, without fail, she reinvigorates me. Her pep talks make me feel more hopeful about myself and my future. What’s more, my energizer friend is strong and tough, with a vigor for life I can feed off of. Through her example, she makes me more eager to achieve my goals or just keep tackling my everyday. Talking with her recharges my emotional battery until the next time we have a minute to pick up the phone.

Courtney Macavinta is the author of Respect ($16, amazon.com) and a cofounder of the Respect Institute, a nonprofit that offers youths the tools to build self-respect. She lives in New York City.

The Risk Taker

We all need an adventurous friend who nudges us out of the status quo—someone who introduces us to new ideas, philosophies, and activities that we might have otherwise not been exposed to or feared to explore on our own. I’ve long been inspired by a world-traveler friend whose preschooler’s passport has more stamps than most adults.’ She has helped me become less intimidated and more excited about traveling. In fact, thanks to her, my husband and I drove an RV across Canada two summers ago with our three children, who were all four or under. Scary? Yes. But we had so much fun, we’re going again this year.

Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and the author of The Friendship Fix ($16,amazon.com). She lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Challenger

One characteristic we underrate in a friend is the ability to be brutally honest. That’s why I’ve always admired the friendship of the women’s rights leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. They led very different lives. Anthony was single; Stanton, a married mother of seven. And they continually and vociferously argued about temperance, abolition, sexual rights, and suffrage. But because they were able to challenge and educate each other, they accomplished much for females in the United States. It’s also why they remained close, trusted friends for more than half a century.

Mary Ann Dzuback, Ph.D., is the director of women, gender, and sexuality studies at Washington University, in St. Louis.

The Loyalist

Every woman needs a “hot mess” friend—by which I mean a friend you can be a complete wreck in front of. This pal can drop in unannounced when you’re looking your worst. You haven’t showered and the house is a total disaster, but she won’t judge you. More important, she’ll let you be emotional when you’re at a low point. Recently I was at dinner with a friend when I got the call that I hadn’t landed a big acting job. I tried to pretend that it was no big deal, but she didn’t buy it. She said, “I’d rather you talk about being bummed than wear a fake smile all night.” And so I vented my frustration at not getting the job, and she really listened. We all need a friend who hangs in there even when we’re not at our best.

Ariane Price is a member of The Groundlings, a famed improv troupe in Los Angeles. She blogs about her life at Tales of a Real Hollywood Mom.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME health

5 Ways to Naturally Reduce Your Blood Pressure

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Eat your way to a healthier ticker

Nearly one out of every three U.S. adults has high blood pressure—and more than half of them don’t have the condition under control. Left unchecked, high blood pressure can lead to heart attack and heart disease, as well as other conditions, including stroke and kidney damage. The good news? We don’t necessarily have to turn to medications to lower it. “What you eat and what kind of nutrients and minerals that food contains can have an effect on blood pressure,” says Suzanne Steinbaum, D.O., director of women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and a Go Red For Women cardiologist. “It’s really about the processed foods and salt.” While an overall healthy lifestyle and diet is key, researchers have also identified a few specific foods that may help. Show your heart a little love this February—American Heart Month—by adding these foods to your diet.

Blueberries

Just one cup a day may help to reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness. A recent study in post-menopausal women, from Florida State University, showed that daily blueberry intake might cut the risk for heart disease. In the study, one group of women consumed 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder (about the same as a cup of fresh blueberries), while the other group received the same amount of a placebo powder—they otherwise continued their typical diet and exercise regimens. After eight weeks, the blueberry group experienced an average 5.1 percent decrease in systolic blood pressure (the upper number), and a 6.3 percent decrease in diastolic blood pressure (the lower number). They also had a 6.5 percent reduction in arterial stiffness.

“Our findings suggest that regular consumption of blueberries could potentially delay the progression of prehypertension to hypertension, therefore reducing cardiovascular disease risk,” study author Sarah A. Johnson, assistant director of the Center for Advancing Exercise and Nutrition Research on Aging and postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at Florida State University, said in a statement.

Yogurt

Regularly consuming probiotics from yogurt, as well as fermented and sour milk, cheese and supplements, may lead to a healthier ticker. A 2014 research review published in the journal Hypertension analyzed nine studies to establish a link between probiotics and an improvement in blood pressure—probiotic consumption was linked with an average improvement of 3.56 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 2.38 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure compared to control groups.

“The small collection of studies we looked at suggest regular consumption of probiotics can be part of a healthy lifestyle to help reduce high blood pressure, as well as maintain healthy blood pressure levels,” lead author Jing Sun, Ph.D., senior lecturer at the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, said in a statement. “We believe probiotics might help lower blood pressure by having other positive effects on health, including improving total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol; reducing blood glucose and insulin resistance; and by helping to regulate the hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance.”

The studies in the review tended to be small, though, and some of them were of a short duration, which means more research is needed before doctors can start handing out an Rx for yogurt.

Cocoa Powder

Here’s some sweet news. In a 2012 systematic review published in Cochrane Library, researchers looked at 20 trials involving more than 800 people meant to investigate the effect of cocoa flavanols on blood pressure. The findings? Cocoa powder or flavanol-rich chocolate had a small, but statistically significant effect on blood pressure, lowering it, on average, 2-3 mm Hg in the short term.

“Although we don’t yet have evidence for any sustained decrease in blood pressure, the small reduction we saw over the short term might complement other treatment options and might contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” lead researcher Karin Ried of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne, Australia, said in a statement.

While the findings aren’t a hall pass to pig out on Valentine’s Day candy (which is, more often than not, also loaded with sugar), go ahead and enjoy a little dark chocolate in the name of your heart.

Bananas

The American Heart Association recommends a diet high in natural sources of potassium, which is important because the nutrient mitigates the negative effects of sodium. “When you have sodium in the blood stream, that’s when the blood pressure can go up. When you have a diet that is high in potassium, it decreases the sodium,” says Steinbaum.

Steinbaum notes that people who eat twice the amount of potassium as they do sodium see the best results in reducing blood pressure. Aim for 4,700 mg of potassium a day—one medium banana has just over 400 mg (as well as other key vitamins like C and B6). Other potassium-rich foods include potatoes, greens, white beans, yogurt, seeds and nuts, and avocadoes.

Beetroot Juice

In addition to its beautiful color, beetroot juice may help reduce blood pressure. A small study published American Heart Association journalHypertension showed that high blood pressure patients who drank about a cup (eight ounces) of beetroot juice experienced a 10mm Hg drop in blood pressure. While the effect was strongest three to six hours after drinking the juice, it was still present after 24 hours.

The reason may be because beetroot juice contains dietary nitrate, a substance that helps improve blood flow—the juice contained about .2g of it. “Our hope is that increasing one’s intake of vegetables with a high dietary nitrate content, such as green leafy vegetables or beetroot, might be a lifestyle approach that one could easily employ to improve cardiovascular health,” lead author Amrita Ahluwalia, Ph.D., professor of vascular pharmacology at The Barts and The London Medical School in London, said in a statement.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME Food & Drink

6 Affordable Date Night Sparkling Drinks

Any of these options would be perfect for a romantic date night in

Would you rather avoid the stress of scoring reservations and shouting over restaurant crowds? Here’s an idea: This weekend, why not surprise your sweetie with a festive bottle of bubbly and a romantic date night in? After all, the world of sparkling wine keeps getting bigger, better, and more affordable. So, pop open one of these six great bottles and toast the one you love.

 

  • Cleto Chiarli “Vecchia Modena Premium” Lambrusco

    There’s nothing sweet about this berry red Italian sparkler. Dark and clean tasting, with a tart, tannic edge, it delights as a cocktail but can also hold its own on the dinner table.

    To buy: $15.99, unionsquarewines.com.

  • Paul Cheneau Lady of Spain Brut

    This elegant Spanish cava has a smooth, full-bodied creaminess and a nose-tickling effervescence that’s perfect paired with oysters on the half shell. Cheers to that!

    To buy: $10.95, sherry-lehman.com.

  • Gruet Rose

    A world-class sparkling wine that hails from the heart of the American southwest? You bet. This ruby rose bubbly, made outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, is bursting with berry flavors and every bit as tempting as many bottles twice the price.

    To buy: $19.99, wine.com.

  • Stemmari Baci Vivaci

    The name Baci Vivaci, literally translated, means “lively kisses”—and the moniker couldn’t fit this Sicilian wine any better. Light and bright with delicate bubbles and a whisper of stone fruit sweetness, it’s a wine that’s easy to drink and easy to love.

    To buy: $12.79, getwineonline.com.

  • Dr. Konstantin Frank Chateau Frank Celebre Riesling Cremant

    This is a dry, delightful “small world” sort of wine—a French-style crémant made with 100% Riesling grapes grown and crafted in the Finger Lake region of upstate New York. Try it with cheese as an aperitif.

    To buy: $19.99, wine.com.

  • Meinklang 2013 “Prosa” Frizzante Rosé

    It’s pink, it’s fizzy, and it’s fantastic. Produced by a small family estate in the Austrian region of Burgenland, this organic and biodynamic sparkling rose has an intoxicating fragrance, a ripe freshness, and a mineral edge that will make you keep reaching for more.

    To buy: $14.99, astorwines.com.

    This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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