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Life advice of the month: On exes, jet lag and guilt

Becky Harlan/NPR; Tanja Ivanova/Getty Images; Getty Images

It's our favorite time of the month — rounding up surprising and useful tricks, tips and life hacks from Life Kit episodes.

This month's selection includes advice about kids and social media, how to minimize jet lag and high-fiber diets.

To decide whether you're ready to be friends with your ex, ask yourself if you're in a healthy place. If you’re reaching out to your ex because you still desire them and are hoping to get back together, “wait until those feelings subside,” says psychologist Marisa Franco. You’ll know you’ve reached an appropriate level of emotional distance when you want your ex to be happy regardless of whether or not their life includes you, says Franco.

To form memories that you’ll keep, make them as multi-sensory and detailed as possible. “Plenty of evidence suggests that memory is better the more detail is available to us,” says Monica Thieu, a researcher in human cognition and a four-time Jeopardy! contestant. “So any time you have an opportunity to learn something in a richer way, do it.” What Thieu means is, incorporate as many different senses, emotions and mediums into your memory as you can. Immerse yourself in that subject.

Are you being made to feel guilty about something that's not your fault? Clinical psychologist Han Ren offers a script of what you can say to the person making you feel this way: "You are entitled to your emotions, but it's not my fault. I love you, but I love me too."

Not sure if you're north, south, east or west from home? Pick a few landmarks in town to help orient yourself. The ideal landmark is large and far away, like a big sign, a highway, a tall building or a bridge "so it can serve as a better cue to orientation," says Mary Hegarty, a cognitive psychologist at the Spatial Thinking Lab at University of California, Santa Barbara.

When posting about your kids on social media, follow a "holiday card-or-less" rule of thumb. "They should be updates you'd be comfortable with anyone, from your great aunt to your boss, seeing. Information that's not going to embarrass anybody and isn't particularly private," says Leah Plunkett, a faculty member at Harvard Law School who specializes in children, family law and technology.

If a loved one asks to borrow money from you, don't ask for that money back. If you have the funds and want to help out, give it to them as a gift instead, says personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary. That way, you don't have to worry about the borrower paying you back or what to do if they don't.

A fun and cheap way to have fun this summer? Swap houses with a friend or family member. Perhaps you know someone who lives in a different neighborhood or city you've wanted to visit. "You can get a feel of what they like. If they have a pool, you can take a dip or check out their DVD collection," says personal finance writer Nicole Dow. "That's a low-cost alternative to taking a full-fledged vacation."

If you're going on a big, international trip, load up on sleep before you travel. To mitigate the effects of jet lag, a little preparation goes a long way, says Jade Wu, a behavioral sleep medicine psychologist and researcher at Duke University. Take supplemental naps ahead of your journey, but don't force it if you're not sleepy. The goal is to get as much rest as possible so that when you're in a period of less sleep, you'll feel a little more alert.

As you add more fiber to your diet, make sure to drink plenty of water. It can help the fiber move through your system and keep it from hardening, which can lead to more gas and constipation.


This story was edited by Meghan Keane. The visual editor is Beck Harlan. We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at LifeKit@npr.org.

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[Copyright 2024 NPR]