Exercise

Clear Your Mind and Refocus

With hectic lives and busy schedules, it can be easy for the mind to become cluttered, making it difficult to concentrate and be productive. If you want to be able to quickly and easily clear your mind so that you can refocus, here are a few tricks that you can try.

Mindfulness
One of the most effective ways to clear your mind and really refocus your energy is by practicing mindfulness, and this does not need to be anything more than a breathing exercise or two. This is something that you can do anywhere and at any time, making it a great method to master. One breathing exercise that you can try is sitting or standing up straight and closing your eyes, before taking a deep breath in through your nose. Allow your diaphragm to fully expand, and hold the breath for a few seconds before exhaling through your mouth. Counting your breath will also help with this, as it will give your mind something to focus on to prevent you from being sidetracked.

Woman in cafe thinking of what to write

Write it Down
Writing down all of your thoughts and worries is a great way to release any pent-up emotions, and will help you to take a look at the entire situation from a different perspective. Keep a journal that you can turn to whenever your mind is feeling full, and continue writing in it until you feel at peace with whatever has been on your mind. Alternatively, if your mind has been filled with all of the different things you need to do, start keeping lists, as this will free up some space in your head, and you can then turn to your list when you have more time and are feeling calmer.

Physical Activity
In addition to helping to control weight and prevent illness, exercise is a fantastic way to clear your mind and improve your mood. Exercise releases endorphins, which will really help to take your mind to a better place. This does not mean that you need to spend hours at the gym, as simple short bursts of exercise will also have this same effect. Try to find an activity that you enjoy doing, but make sure that it raises your heart rate.

Woman painting on canvas at home

Get Creative
Exploring your imagination can really refocus your mind, as it will make use of different parts of your brain. Creativity is the perfect way to engage your imagination, and this can take shape in many forms. From painting and drawing to singing and dancing to cooking or doing a puzzle, there are so many ways in which you can be creative, so give this a go the next time you are feeling stressed and worn out.

The human brain is not built to be able to split its attention into too many different areas, which is why it is often easy to feel overwhelmed when there are a number of things on your mind. Rather than allowing this to bring you down, try out some of the above-mentioned tips, as they will help you to clear your mind and get back to what you really need to be doing.

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Three Ways To Boost Your Energy All Day

If there’s anything we all share, it is the simple fact that we start to get tired at some point in the day. This point typically comes way before we need to actually sleep for the night too. We need more energy to get through the day. How we address the problem tends to vary. Many people opt to get their boost from a dose of caffeine. There’s no denying that a cup of the right tea or coffee gives a jolt to most people’s bodies. It tends to be a relatively short term solution though. That boost eventually fades and leaves us trying to struggle through being tired all over again. Permanent solutions for boosting our energy each day are much harder to come by and typically involve us needing to make lifestyle choices to support this extra energy. Fortunately, these changes don’t actually require that much effort on anyone’s part and we can all generally make the most of these tips to ensure we’ve got ways to boost our energy each day.

Take A Nap
Sleeping all night and staying awake through the evening actually isn’t the sleeping pattern your body expects. We’ve gotten used to it in the modern era thanks to electric lighting and how we structure our society, but our patterns of rest used to be different. Yes, humans did use to wake up with the light and sleep when it got dark, but we also used to rest in the high heat of the afternoon. Taking a brief nap in the afternoon when you start to feel fatigued is a good way to honor this tradition encoded in your very genetics. You’ll likely find that the nap leaves you refreshed and renewed to face the rest of your day and evening. A half hour to hour and half nap is ideal in this case as you’ll want to get through a full sleep cycle to get the refreshing sleep cycle. Waking up after an hour will put you firmly into a second one, but not the end of it and leave you groggier. So set a timer and take a nap. Your body will thank you.

Side profile of woman exercising at the gym

Exercise Regularly
There’s no denying the fact that being more active actually raises our overall energy levels. Our bodies get used to a certain level of activity and everything ends up “costing” us a little bit less each time. It is entirely possible to gradually build up your energy levels over time by beginning to exercise regularly. Something as simple as ensuring that you’re taking a brisk walk for an hour to a an hour and a half four the five days out of the week is all it takes. Gradually improving your overall energy levels in this way should help you become more mentally alert in addition to having more physical energy to get through the day. Pairing it with taking that afternoon nap will help you find the energy to tackle even very full days and keep going while others begin to slow. Admittedly, there is another thing you can do that will also help to gradually increase your overall energy levels each day and give you the boost you’re looking for to help you through a day.

Smiling woman making fruit juice

Eat Well
Most of us need to be eating far better than we actually do. It isn’t something we necessarily immediately associate with our energy levels though. After all, if we’re eating and becoming full it shouldn’t matter, right? That is, sadly, very far from the truth. We can eat things that are filling without them being nutritious at all. Nutrition is what we need to give us the energy to get through our days. If we’re overly found of empty calories, we’re going to run out of energy relatively quickly each day and be left wondering what happened. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is a good way of giving yourself an energy boost. This does mean making a fairly large scale dedication to a lifestyle change though. The good news is that such a swap will give you more energy as well as improving your health in a lot of other areas. This makes it a highly rewarding change to make if you’re willing to make the effort.

Getting an energy boost to get through the day can take a lot of forms. It is simply a matter of deciding what works best for your lifestyle. There is no end to the products out there that give you a quick fix to the problem, but people who want to make a long term change in their energy levels will need to make long term changes themselves. It may be difficult, but it will certainly beat falling asleep every afternoon.

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How To Trick Your Body Into Feeling Better

There’s no escaping the fact that we can’t feel our best constantly. Illness, injury, and misadventure are part of every life and learning to cope with that is part of life. Nothing makes that feel any better in the moment though. Everyone wants to feel better as soon as they can without needing to face down all the negatives of the illness. That isn’t always an option though, is it? Most of the time we tend to resign ourselves to confronting and dealing with a problem even if it means feeling less than our best. The truth is there are various little things you can do to trick your body into helping you feel at least a little bit better even if it isn’t going to be a magical cure. These tend to be relatively simple and easy for almost everyone to achieve. Let’s take a quick look at some of these little tricks so that we can all use them the next time we feel less than our best.

Reach Out
Your mental state and physical state are more intertwined than you might like to think. That’s part of why our mood tends to suffer when we’re ill or injured. You can use this intrinsic link to your advantage to give your mood a boost and thereby help you ignore any discomfort you’re feeling for a little while. Talk to a friend, loved one, or someone else you value. This is a tried and true trick to give yourself a small boost in your mood that you can then leverage into feeling a bit better. Try to focus on the things you share a passion for to give the biggest boost. You’re partly talking away your discomfort, after all, and the last thing you want to do is get on a topic that is mutually unpleasant. Connecting with others in this fashion helps one to feel more alive and alert for a decent amount of time after the conversation ends and can be used repeatedly to feel just that much better even when your body continues to disagree with you.

Woman working out at home

Exercise
This is typically the last thing on one’s mind when feeling unwell, but it is a very good option for giving yourself a pick-me-up. It doesn’t even need to be vigorous exercise either. Start with a little bit of careful stretching. Your body will recognize that you’re beginning to move around more and begin to flip some of the internal switches that you want flipped. A good stretch will leave you feeling a little bit better and more limber so that you can take a quick walk. This is an especially good tactic on sunny yet tolerable days. The sunlight during your walk will trigger some positive mental changes as much as the actual exercise. Try to aim for a brisk half hour walk or a similar amount of light exercise. That’s all you really need to get a boost to how you feel. By the end of it, you’ll feel a bit more energetic and happier about the current situation which will, in turn, make it harder to focus on discomfort.

Clean Up
It turns out that you can also do a lot for how you feel by taking good care of yourself. Most of us tend to start feeling a bit unclean as we feel physically and mentally unwell. It is a subtle, but persistent effect that contributes to us feeling worse off than we really should. All you need to do to counter it though is to clean up a little. Take a shower or bath to help clean up your body and relax a little. The physical process of getting clean tends to be both relaxing and helps to take your mind off of things as well. Don’t forget to consider doing some basic bits of hygiene as well. Shave if you haven’t recently. Clean up your hair. These simple things will help you look and feel a bit better if discomfort has been laying you low. Additionally, consider brushing your teeth and additional time. Dress up nicely for yourself as well. Cleaning up in this way will help you stop mentally picturing yourself as being uncomfortable and leave you better able to ignore the discomfort by feeling closer to your best.

Smiling woman at home

Tricking yourself into feeling better than you are is largely a matter of doing things that make you feel good. It doesn’t actually stop whatever is making you uncomfortable, but the temporary boost to your mood does wonders to help deal with both mental and physical discomfort. All you need to do is find the will to take some of the steps suggested and it can make even a difficult time a little lighter. In some ways, the saying that laughter is the best medicine at least had the right idea when it came to some things.

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The Tools You Need To Start Yoga

Yoga is a good way to maintain one’s body at almost any point in life. It becomes particularly attractive as we age and our body’s ability to handle some of the more forceful movements and shocks of other exercise options decreases. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t necessarily know where to begin when it comes to yoga. It seems to have always been present as an option for exercise. There are yoga studios and classes in most major cities that make it quite clear what they’re offering. This isn’t always enough to help those of us who tend to plan more to get over that initial hurdle of wanting to be properly prepared. A good way to get past that is to inventory the tools you’ll need to start yoga. This provides a sense of being ready while at the same time being easy enough to ensure that it doesn’t take an excessive amount of time. With that in mind, we’ve got a quick look at some of the most important tools anyone needs when looking into starting yoga for the first time.

Woman meditating with cat

Patience
Most of the time we associate yoga with a certain fluidity of movement. The demands placed on the body by the positions involve maintaining patience enough to move through them at the proper pace while holding position when necessary. Yoga positions are healthy for the body through the fact that they are repetitive motions that work to maintain and build slowly. The tension of holding the position is prominent in the way they help the body too. However, the positions that everyone pictures in their mind when people talk about yoga are only part of the practice. Yoga is also about controlling one’s breathing and becoming aware of one’s body as a cohesive whole. Many instructors will walk you through breathing exercises when beginning yoga. These also require patience that not everyone will necessarily have if they aren’t expecting it. Remembering that patience is required at all steps to make the most of yoga.

Woman doing yoga on mat

Comfortable Clothing
As a form of exercise that concentrates on mobility and flexibility, yoga strongly encourages participants to wear comfortable clothing with a high degree of freedom of movement. This helps to ensure that there are no artificial restrictions placed on what one can and cannot do during yoga. Most people tend to stress this particular piece of “equipment” thanks to the potential demands on freedom of movement from given positions. Admittedly, no one should try to push their bodies far beyond their abilities, but we all do still need to be able to press a bit farther than more restrictive clothing might allow. Additionally, you’ll want to stick to comfortable clothing made from a fabric that can breathe. Yoga, despite its often sedate pace, is a form of exercise that will place stress upon the body and can cause you to sweat just like any other exercise. Staying cool while exercising will go a long way towards keeping you comfortable.

Woman folding yoga mat

Mat and Towel
This is the sort of equipment that most people would expect when it comes to yoga, but it isn’t necessarily required so much as it makes things a bit more comfortable while you’re exercising. A good mat will provide you with cushioning through the various positions you go through and prevent any unnecessary strain on the body. After all, it feels a lot better to have a comfortable mat beneath you than the hard ground or floor. Try to pick a durable mat that will hold up to repeated use to avoid having to replace it regularly. Keeping a towel handy is advisable to help wipe away sweat after holding a particularly difficult pose. It will help keep you both more comfortable and ready to keep going without feeling too unclean. Consider leaving it on the mat below you to catch sweat in some instances, but don’t be afraid to pat dry when you need to either.

There isn’t really any traditional equipment “required” to start yoga. As a discipline, it focuses on the body’s capabilities and typically only requires that and the strength of will to stick with various positions. Patience helps a lot with this and so does dressing comfortably so that you don’t end up feeling confined in the middle of things. Yes, a mat can help, but you don’t necessarily need it. Remember that yoga is an ancient discipline focusing on the mind, the body, and the soul and not a modern fad exercise like it often gets treated. In the end, all you really need is yourself.

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Pointers For Increasing Your Flexibility

Flexibility is one of those things we don’t typically notice until it starts to go away. We, of course, acknowledge when we see someone who is supremely flexible, but we seldom think of it when it comes to ourselves. This is a mistake given how influential our own physical flexibility is on what we can actually do with our bodies. Levels of flexibility vary highly from person to person with age often being the strongest indicator of overall flexibility. Maintaining flexibility throughout our lives is necessary as it helps to minimize how readily we can injure our muscles as well as ensuring our bodies can meet the immediate demands put on them through everyday life. The fact that our lives have become so sedentary counts against our flexibility in many ways and we need to collectively start to think of flexibility as something to use and maintain just as any other aspect of fitness. Fortunately, maintaining your flexibility is easier than you might think.

Move
One of the key things we can all do is simply to get up and move. It may seem trite, but it is quite true. The sedentary lifestyle we commented on earlier counts against flexibility to a huge degree. Simply ensuring that you’re getting up and doing a light bit of exercise regularly helps to keep your body acclimated to the movements and thereby maintains your overall range of motion. Maintaining that range of motion is important to flexibility as it will go away without use and its loss leads to an overall lower amount of flexibility. You can maintain a general range of motion with something as simple as a routine brisk walk for half an hour to an hour. Repeating this form of exercise three to four times a week will help keep you more limber and ready to deal with most regular demands that you might put on your body. Maintaining a greater degree of flexibility requires a specialized approach.

Stretch?
Interestingly enough, stretches might not be as good for your flexibility as you might think. Studies seem to repeatedly indicate that the stretches don’t seem to actually do anything for your muscles physically. This has lead to a more detailed look at what stretches might actually be doing for you. The current belief is that they help to build an overall tolerance for pushing your range of motion through repeated motions. This is why many yoga positions get easier and easier over time as you practice them. Your body is quite literally acclimating to your muscles being subjected to more extreme motions. The limits your muscles place on you are meant to protect you, yes, but not moving enough degrades your range of motion. Stretches may be slightly iffy, but for the time being that do seem to contribute to building and maintaining flexibility providing you don’t push them too far and harm your muscles.

Woman getting a massage

Massage
We’ve all experienced the therapeutic nature of a good massage before. It might be doing you more good than you expect. Helping to relieve tension and minimize its presence in your muscles appears to help flexibility. This is particularly true for areas that are overall more prone to tension. The goal is to help loosen all of your muscles and thereby reduce the overall strain on them. Without that extra tension, you can move them a little farther than you otherwise would and experience and overall greater level of flexibility. Regular massages can also be a good tool for helping you to isolate problem areas to targets with stretches or other forms of exercise to help minimize the problem in the future. You can even good a good massage in a wide variety of places ranging from a licensed DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) to a spa. The benefit of the former is you can get targeted advice to help improve your overall physical condition while the latter has greater accessibility.

Taking the time to help safeguard your flexibility will go a long way towards improving your quality of life. It reduces your chances of soreness and other issues. Additionally, you can maintain a greater overall ability to simply engage with the world. Flexibility has always been part of proper physical fitness and it is about time we all started acting like it.

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Living With Low Level Depression

Depression is a persistent condition that often remains in our lives after the first experience with it. The condition isn’t simply being sad like the common representation often has people thinking. Depression is a mental illness where it is hard to hang on to hope, feel motivation at all, or see any potential way for things to improve even if there are logical steps you can take to make things better. It is an insidious condition that can sneak into our lives without warning and become a guiding force before we know it. Getting our lives back under control after this can be difficult thanks to its persistence. Lifestyle changes can go a long way towards helping manage chronic depression whether it is major depression or comparatively mild. The changes can help keep low-level depression easily managed and kept from overly affecting you life alongside proper treatment. We’ve got a quick look at some of the universally good options so you can find things to help yourself if you’re struggling.

Shine A Little Light
Strangely enough, sunlight and light in general can be incredibly helpful when it comes to managing depression. Most experts believe this is connected to the positive effects of Vitamin D. Your body actually begins to create the vitamin on exposure to sunlight. Many of us are skin conscious though and the idea of sunning to improve our mood can make us all a bit wary. The good news is you can get this effect even while wearing sunscreen. You also don’t need to sun to get the effect either. Taking a ten to fifteen minute walk in the sun when you feel your mood drifting lower can be all you need to recover from a downtrend. Keeping lights on and windows open helps a lot in this case too. Just seeing the light appears to help. This makes it a useful tactic to remember to open the shades in your home if you’re prone to depression. You’ll likely never notice it, but that light will quietly support your mental health goals without you needing to put in a huge effort.

woman walking in the park

Care For Your Body
The mind and body are intertwined even though we frequently treat them as two separate entities. Mental health issues can and will feed back into your physical health while the reverse is true as well. That makes taking care of yourself a key way to manage lower levels of depression. It can give you the boost of energy and mood you need to get through each day. Looking after your health with depression is more or less the same as it is without it. You need to make sure that you’re getting an adequately varied diet that gets you all the nutrients you need. This will help keep up your energy and ensure your depression isn’t being magnified by any nutritional deficiencies. Additionally, you’ll want to look into regular low-level exercise. Something as simple as briskly walking for half an hour to an hour three to four times a week can be incredibly good for helping maintain a neutral to positive mood. Additionally, you can be getting that sun at the same time to help compound the help it will give you.

Sleep On Schedule
Managing your sleep schedule is crucial when dealing with any level of depression. Disturbed sleep is a classic sign of the condition for a reason. Insomnia tends to be fairly common and the lack of rest causes your physical and mental health to both suffer. This feeds back into maintaining the depression. Most experts recommend taking a two-fold approach to making sure you get enough sleep when dealing with depression. Good sleep hygiene is the first part. This means making sure you avoid doing things that make it more difficult for you to sleep. Turn down the lights some at night, turn off alarms, avoid caffeine, and overall make sure you’re doing something relaxing as your bedtime approaches. This will put your body in a state receptive to sleep. The second part is setting and keeping a time when you go to bed without fail. Establishing a pattern along with good sleep hygiene will help counteract the insomnia to a degree and hopefully ensure you get enough sleep.

The media has, sadly, given the impression that depression is something to be conquered. They don’t treat it as a fact and something that demands changes to one’s life to manage. More often than not, depression is a fact that changes our lives. We can do many things to help manage it though and prevent it from being a governing aspect of our lives. In time, those of us dealing with depression grow into an understanding that it does not make us lesser, but instead is simply another health consideration for us. These tricks and others can turn what seems like a bleak turn in our lives into an opportunity for positive change and a path out of the encroaching darkness and back to our lives.

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Fidgeting and Other Unexpected Activities that Burn Calories

Being overweight can lead to so many different health issues, but keeping in shape is often far easier said than done. However, when it comes to burning calories, there are actually a number of unexpected activities that can help you with this, and they do not require much effort at all.

Fidgeting
While some may find fidgeting annoying, those who fidget are actually burning ten times more calories a day than those who do not, because even though you are sitting down while doing so, this constant motion is still a form of cardio. Whether you tend to tap your foot, shake your leg, or let your fingers restlessly wander around your desk, a study carried out in 2005 showed that fidgeting has the potential to burn around 350 calories a day, which would amount to between 30 and 40 pounds over the course of the year.

Saunas and Sweat Lodges
Spending some time relaxing in a sauna or sweat lodge causes your body’s resting temperature to rise, and scientists believe that this could aid in burning significant calories. The fact that sweating burns calories is not anything new, but there are now claims that a 45 minute sauna session can burn as much calories as a three to four mile run can. Alternatively, wrapping your body up in an infrared blanket for just under an hour will help you to burn between 800 and 1600 calories.

Woman cleaning

Cleaning the House
While cleaning your house may not be as relaxing as lounging around in a sauna, this is still another great way to burn a few extra calories. Simple household tasks, when carried out one after the other, can soon amount to quite the calorie loss. For example, washing and drying dishes burns around 100 calories an hour, while spending half an hour cleaning your bathroom can be the equivalent to a 30 minute walk on a treadmill. To make your routine more interesting, try spending 15 minutes each on different tasks, such as sweeping the floors, which would burn 40 calories, washing the windows, which would burn 35 calories, and tidying up, which would burn 26 calories.

Drinking Green Tea
While consuming more of something is not usually the way to burn calories, green tea might just be an exception to this. Green tea contains polyphenols, which are high in antioxidants and greatly aid the body in breaking down fat, which will then have quite the impact on your overall body fat percentage. When it comes to the numbers, green tea has the potential to help you to burn around 183 calories a day, but you would need to drink around three to eight cups of it each day for this to occur.

If you need some extra help burning a few stubborn calories, then these methods are all definitely worth a try. However, it is important to keep in mind that your body would still hugely benefit from other forms of regular exercise, so be sure to not rely solely on these methods when it comes to keeping in shape.

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The Emotional and Mental Benefits of Walking

Walking is potentially the most basic form of exercise that you can engage in. Most of us can do it. It takes no extra equipment. You can do it almost everywhere. That’s why so many doctors tend to recommend a brisk walk as the best way to start exercising. It can do wonders for your body if you let it. All you’ve got to do is make sure that you spend the necessary amount of time getting the exercise in and you’ll get results. There are benefits to walking beyond the purely physical, though. You can actually derive some emotional and mental benefits from walking if you’re willing to let the experience reach you. Admittedly, you’ll get most of these in times where you’d walking slower, but there are still benefits from the exercise in general. We’re going to take a closer look at these more ephemeral benefits to ensure that you don’t miss out on the ways you can improve your quality of life with a simple exercise.

Location, Location, Location
As we highlighted before, you can walk almost everywhere if you’re able to walk. This brings with it the distinct benefit of being able to choose where you want to walk. You can go places that are meaningful to you. This includes art galleries, museums, parks, tracks, and just about anything else that you can imagine. Picking a place that is meaningful to you goes a long way towards ensuring that you’ll feel more relaxed by the time the walking is done. After all, an afternoon stroll through the park with birds singing and other sounds of life is a potentially invigorating experience. It also serves to pull you out of the active worries of the day-to-day where you can’t really disengage from everything and everyone that demands your attention. Fortunately, a little time in a setting separate from all that can do the mind wonders. There’s also a lot to be said for getting to be on your own for a little while.

Woman walking alone

The Art of Being With Oneself
Walking can be a group activity, but being able to enjoy it on one’s own can be quite rewarding. You get to fully step out of the world in this way. There is no need to worry about duties, deadlines, or others for a little while. You simply have yourself to be with and understand. Walking can be incredibly therapeutic for this reason alone. Having time to yourself where it is only you and your thoughts allows you to properly consider the events going on around you. Many people find that it helps to clear their head to one degree on another. There is also something settling to the nerves about being in a place that you draw comfort from without it being intruded upon by others. You can claim the space as solely your own, in a way, for a little while where you don’t need to worry about others interrupting. Yes, there will be other people in a public place, but most people are disinclined to bother strangers on their walks.

Mental, Emotional, Physical
There is no way to truly separate the physical from our mental and emotional well-being. The brain is a physical organ and the things we do that affect our body affect it as well. Exercise does a lot for mental and emotional well-being because it supports the overall health of your body. Your brain tends to benefit in specific ways though. Exercise increases blood flow throughout the body and this in turn ensures a readily available supply of oxygenated blood. Most people notice they feel more clear-headed and emotionally level after exercising partly for this reason. The longer term benefits tend to include healthier cognition for longer and a general overall improvement on outlook. Exercise literally helps you to maintain a more positive view of the world. Admittedly, part of this is because exercise does release some chemicals in your mind that reward you. The pleasure of hitting goals you set for yourself doesn’t hurt either.

Walking has emotional and mental benefits paired with the physical benefits of the exercise. This is because of the impossibility of separating the physical from the ephemeral in this sense. You can get a lot from just walking at a leisurely pass in the right setting though. It helps one to sort through current events as well as settling one’s nerves when dealing with an uncertain future. If you’re going through a rough patch, walking may be just the thing to help you get yourself back to a state where you can do something about it again.

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