A Walk in the Park

Photo by George Hodan

Photo by George Hodan

Increase your attention and working memory by going for a walk.

Let’s look at a study conducted by Canadian and U.S. researchers who wanted to examine the effect of nature walks on the mood of severely depressed people. This study offered some interesting results.

For the first session, 20 participants were sent for an hour-long walk in a quiet park. One week later, the same individuals were sent for an hour-long walk in a noisy urban setting. Prior to the walks as well as after the walks, the depressed participants had to complete several mental tests to measure their attention, memory and mood.

Now to the results… Both walks (nature and urban setting) improved the participants’ mood significantly. It does not seem to matter much whether you go for a stroll in the park or along a busy street.

However, going for a walk in the park increases attention and working memory by 16% compared to an urban walk.

So if you want to get the most benefits, choose a quiet nature walk over a walk in the city.

References:
A Walk in the Park Gives Mental Boost to People with Depression 

Love Yourself, There’s No Excuse

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

If you don’t love yourself, how can you be happy?

You are always with yourself, no matter where you go. You wake up every morning with yourself, whether you like it or not. So there is no getting away from yourself. You’re stuck with your body and soul.

Imagine starting your day feeling loved unconditionally. Isn’t that a wonderful feeling? You want to hug the world, that’s how great it is.
Now imagine feeling hated and criticized. How awful, right? You want to curl up in a ball and die.

Whether you choose to love yourself or hate yourself is entirely up to you. Unless you are masochistic, you will probably want to go for the first option.

But why does it seem so hard to love yourself?

Because we believe what others say about us. We form our identity based on feedback from people around us – be it family members, friends, teachers, or strangers. Not all of this feedback is nice. Some of it can be very hurtful and mean. Those negative comments usually make a much stronger impression on our memories than the positive ones.

With this mixed bag of good and bad feedback thrown at us, it is up to us whether we accept it or reject it. We can choose to believe that those statements are true representations of who we are, or we can take them as constructive criticism while keeping in mind that they are simply someone else’s opinion, nothing more.

With this in mind, choose to love yourself. Know that you have flaws, but don’t fret about them.

Know that it is safe to accept and love yourself. It is actually necessary to do so if you want to live a fulfilled and happy life.

Give yourself permission to love unconditionally. You deserve it.

Meditating for One Minute

Buddha relaxing meditation

This guy knows how powerful meditation is…

 

Feeling stressed? Burned out? Exhausted?

In this day and age, everybody could need a little break. There are so many stressful situations we have to face on a daily basis. Whether it’s navigating through heavy traffic, working non-stop, or dealing with difficult people – any stress you encounter accumulates if you don’t find an outlet for it.

This is where meditation comes in handy. It’s the perfect tool for relaxing your busy mind. No matter where you are – sitting in your car, waiting in line, or visiting the washroom – you can use a spare moment to meditate.

While it seems like one minute is barely enough time to meditate, it is enough to save you from a potential nervous breakdown. Sometimes all it takes is a few deep breaths and a relaxed mind.

It’s a simple exercise, and it doesn’t take much commitment at all. Who doesn’t have a minute to spare? I will certainly keep doing one-minute meditations whenever I can.

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

Photo by George Hodan

Photo by George Hodan

Are you constantly striving for perfection? Are you overly critical and unforgiving of yourself? Then I encourage you to take a deep breath and stop driving yourself crazy.

This is why I think you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself any longer:

1. It’s OK to make mistakes. Everybody makes them, and in fact, they are quite important for learning. Think of them as valuable lessons.
2. Nobody cares. Often times people don’t even remember what you did, because they are too focused on themselves. So stop making a mountain out of a molehill.
3. Accept yourself, flaws and all. Nobody is perfect. Even the best of the best have areas they have trouble with. Take Marilyn Monroe, who used to stutter, or Abraham Lincoln, who suffered from insomnia.

So take this as a reminder to stop beating yourself up.
You are a wonderful human being – never forget that!

Eat Your Cabbage

Cabbage is a superhero!

Cabbage is a superhero!

Are you eating cabbage on a regular basis? If not, you should! Here is why:

1. It aids in detoxifying your body
2. It is anti-inflammatory
3. It helps with mental function
4. It keeps your skin healthy
5. It inhibits cancer growth

And those are just some of the many health benefits you get from consuming cabbage.
It is also cheap and delicious. No wonder Russians eat it like crazy! The average Russian consumes about 20 kg (44 lb) of cabbage every year.

Cabbage comes in many beautiful varieties. It also happens to be one of the oldest vegetables on this planet.

I can’t wait to have some for my next meal. Yummy!

 

Need to Unplug

 

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

We are becoming increasingly connected. Not to ourselves (which would be beneficial) but to cell phones, tablets, and computers, with the Internet being accessible almost anywhere 24/7. Life is very different from what it used to be merely 25 years ago.

Are there any adverse effects to regularly being exposed to all this technology?

Social Implications
What happened to small talk in buses, waiting rooms, and elevators? More often than not people are glued to their smartphones and rarely look up. There is a whole generation that does not know how to strike up a conversation with strangers, and they often don’t know what they’re missing!
Lots of parents embrace technology and are always connected. They play with their phones when they should be making memories with their children (who grow up so fast!). What does this teach children when they see how their parents stare at screens instead of paying attention to them?

Health Implications
More and more people are developing signs of what could be called electrical sensitivity. They show allergic-like reactions to radiation from common technology such as Wi-Fi, cell phones, laptops, smart meters, etc. They get headaches, rashes, nausea, feel dizzy, can’t seem to relax, even feel anxiety. Those symptoms disappear once the affected person avoids exposure by either removing themselves from the source (sometimes moving out into the countryside because cities have too much dirty electricity) or shielding themselves (protective clothing, EMF shielding canopies in bedrooms, grounding mats, etc.). It is no wonder that the constant bombardment with EMF makes some people sick.

While I think that technology plays an important part in our everyday life, it is equally important to unplug on a regular basis. Give yourself some time off from all this radiation.

Go out into nature and reconnect with Mother Earth. This is the easiest and cheapest way to recharge your batteries.

Paring Down Your Stuff

simple living

Less clutter = more peace of mind

 

Do you feel frustrated when you look around your living room and see nothing but clutter? How many times have you ignored the nagging feeling that all this stuff pulls you down and makes you unhappy?

There is a simple solution to not letting your belongings make you feel depressed. Pare down your stuff until you’re happy again!

Do you really need all those magazines and books? What about the decoration that doesn’t do anything but gather dust? Is your room filled with so much furniture you can barely move around? What’s with all the paper, coins, and other little things that can’t seem to find a home?

Pick a day of your choice and start decluttering and organizing! This is an excellent way to clean not only your living space but also your “mind space”. With more clarity and control in your life, you will automatically feel a sense of relief and peace.

I make it a point to declutter my home on a regular basis, which is usually every other month. It’s amazing how much stuff we bring into our lives without even noticing. It accumulates rapidly and can “suffocate” us if we don’t pay attention.

What you don’t want to throw away you can simply donate or even sell if it’s still in decent condition.

Give it a try and see how much better you feel.

6 Tips for Instant Motivation

motivation

Sometimes it can be difficult to stay motivated. Whether you are learning for an exam, or working on a challenging project – it is easy to feel overwhelmed and deeply frustrated. It may seem like you’re not making any progress, or you’re not progressing fast enough.

Today I want to give you a list of 6 tips to keep you motivated when you feel like burying your head in the sand:

1. Look at Something Green
It may come as a surprise to you, but it has been scientifically proven that seeing the colour green increases motivation and creativity. Why don’t you go outside for a walk in the park? You’ll get the extra benefit of fresh air for your tired brain.

2. Do a High-Power Pose
When you open up your body and take up a lot of space, e.g. by spreading your arms or leaning back (basically doing the opposite of slouching), you change your body chemistry for the better. Just two minutes in a high-power pose will increase your confidence and lower your stress levels. You will feel like Superman!

3. Reward Yourself
A quote from “The Shining” comes to mind: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Make sure that you take frequent breaks and give yourself small rewards for the progress you make.

4. Commit Yourself
Put it down in writing or tell a friend about your plans. By letting other people know about your goals, you are less likely to simply give up and walk away. Nobody wants to feel embarrassed.

5. Keep Track of Your Progress 
You can create a chart or keep a journal to track your progress. Make sure you do this on a regular basis in order to get the best results from it. Realizing that you’re closer to your goal will motivate you to keep going.

6. Eliminate Distractions
It is hard to stay focused when the TV or radio is blaring in the background. Or maybe your smart device keeps buzzing and making funny noises. While all this technology can be fun, it’s great at distracting you and keeping you from doing actual work. Make it a point to “disconnect” regularly and benefit from instant motivation.

After writing this, I already feel more motivated. So I’ll add this as a bonus tip. Write about motivation – it works!

References:
– Increase Your Motivation
20 Motivation Hacks

Blowing Things Out of Proportion

molehill mountain

When you overanalyze a situation and replay it over and over in your head, you are essentially showing an extreme reaction to something that shouldn’t be a big deal – you are blowing things out of proportion.

Making a mountain out of a molehill happens all too easily when you react in old negative patterns. If you don’t stop those unfavourable thought patterns, you can end up in your own personal hell. I know quite well how this feels since I’ve done it to myself many times.

So when you catch yourself overreacting to a mistake you made, or a comment somebody else made, consciously stop for a moment and ask yourself the following questions:

Are my thoughts based on the truth? Can I be 100% certain that this is the only way to see this situation, or are there any other ways? What would be another perspective? How can I react differently in order to feel better? How can I benefit from this? 

Take a few deep breaths and calm down. Remember to choose healthy thoughts. Then move on. Don’t spend all your energy worrying about insignificant events.

References:
How to Stop Blowing Things Out of Proportion

The Gratitude Journal

gratitude

According to Robert Emmons, a leading researcher on gratitude, people benefit greatly from practicing gratitude on a regular basis. 

He studied over 1,000 people (from children to seniors) and found amazing results. The many benefits can be summarized in three categories: physical, psychological and social.

Some of these benefits include:

– lower blood pressure
– stronger immune system
– feeling happier
– feeling more alert and awake
– feeling less lonely

This all sounds very good. So how can you practice gratitude?

One very popular method is keeping a Gratitude Journal. You write down everything good in your life. This can be special moments, people you hold dear, or unexpected events. Ideally, you do this at least once or twice a week. It helps you appreciate all the things that you tend to take for granted.

Gratitude truly is the perfect antidote for depression. There is even more scientific proof for that. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality successfully demonstrated that episodes of depression can be reduced in frequency and length by practicing gratitude.

What are you grateful for?

References:
– Why Gratitude Is Good
Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal