11 Unusual Ways to Manage Stress

Between work, school and family obligations, it’s easy to crumble under the weight of our day-to-day lives.

And no matter how much you try to practice a healthy lifestyle and maintain a clear mind, you still can’t seem to catch a break.

Which is odd, because you already know all the well-established de-stressing mantras: eat less junk food, exercise more, drink at least eight glasses of water a day…

And while all of this is sound advice, something just hasn’t clicked for you yet.

Perhaps you need a fresh take on how to battle with everyday anxieties that are burdening you.

You’ve come to the right place, then!

We have prepared a list of unorthodox stress relievers that can reduce anxiety levels and help you achieve a calmer, more balanced everyday routine.

And if you’re curious to find out what they are, make sure to keep reading – who knows, you might just find the perfect stress-reliever for your needs!

Fill Out a Coloring Book

Did you notice that in recent years, bookstore shelves have been lined with a curiously large number of coloring books?

And not in the children’s section, either.

This is because adult coloring books have been shown to work wonders when it comes to reducing stress levels and practicing mindfulness.

You don’t need much – a simple book with sketches, a couple of coloring pencils and, voila, you’re ready to switch off and immerse yourself in a simple, yet rewarding activity that can take you mind off the everyday worries.

When it comes to designs, coloring books come in all formats and themes: mandalas, botany, architecture, etc.

So, whatever your preferred visuals are, you can rest assured there’s a coloring book out there ready to become your stress-reducing project.

Chew Gum

Humans have been chewing on various things to improve their mood for millennia, all the way from the Ancient Greeks to the Maya.

Why is this the case?

Well, studies have shown that chewing gum can be immensely effective in minimizing stress and contributing to a more balanced mental state.

Moreover, if your mouth is preoccupied with chewing gum, your brain becomes more awake and perceptive, which can be very helpful in those stressful situations when you have to stay alert and focused.

And if you want to keep it on the healthy side, make sure to stash yourself with sugar-free gum. This way, you won’t have to worry about extra calories or carbs while you’re getting your dose of stress relief.

Dance Away the Worries

“Dance like no one’s watching” might sound silly, but this advice can be golden when it comes to reducing stress.

Just like it’s the case with any other physical activity, dancing will help you break sweat and boost blood flow, which will then release the endorphins – neurotransmitters that help alleviate symptoms of stress. 

However, unlike the more traditional forms of exercise like running or going to the gym, we tend to consider dancing to be something fun and liberating.

Moreover, if your work or school entails stuffy environments and ultra-professional behavior, dancing can be a great outlet for releasing the goofier side of yourself.

Finally, if you decide to make dancing a regular occurrence in your life, not only will you reap its benefits for the mental state, but you will also improve flexibility, build muscle and increase your stamina.

Moreover, if you’re looking to shed a few extra pounds but dread going to the gym, regular dancing can be a great fitness substitute.

Cook Your Favorite Meal

Sometimes, stress can be exacerbated by poor dietary choices.

When we’re swamped with work and other tasks, we tend to go for the least healthy, instantly filling foods, which often tend to be loaded with processed carbs and sugars. 

And these two are never good news for stress.

A good plan to avoid situations like these is to set aside some time to cook a meal from scratch.

You can do this either for yourself or even for your loved ones.

Make a list of all the groceries you need, prepare your favorite healthy recipe and get cooking!

And if you need inspiration on what are the best ingredients for a body-soothing meal, look into incorporating one or more of the following ingredients into your dish:

  • Nuts
  • Fatty fish
  • Leafy greens
  • Avocado
  • Carrots

Take your time to focus on every step of the cooking process and try to do so without distractions.

This will help keep your mind occupied on the task at hand and hand keep you distracted from worries that could otherwise infest your thoughts.

Not only will a cooking session take your mind off day-to-day problems, you will also have a healthy, replenishing meal at the end of it.

Hang Out with Your Pet

Our furry companions can also be amazing when it comes to diminishing stress levels.

Giving your beloved cat or dog a belly rub can give you an instant jolt of endorphins and dopamines, which in turn reduce stress.

Not just that, but having a four-legged friend with you at all times can help make you feel less lonely in case you live on your own.

Plus, when you have another living being to take care of, chances are you won’t have time to dwell on your concerns 24/7.

Moreover, if you have a pet that requires regular walks, this also means you have a reason to go out in nature more often than people who don’t own animals.

And when you do that, your body is replenished with many nutrients that can help improve your overall mood and well-being.

Chat with a Friend

When we’re alone in our thoughts, our worries can only grow bigger and more tangled.

In order to avoid this vicious circle, it’s important to reach out to people around us.

That’s why it could be a good idea to ring your friend when you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed.

Having someone close to talk to will make you feel less alone and caught up in your own mind.

Moreover, verbalizing your problems out loud will help you put them into context and help view them more realistically.

On the other hand, you don’t even have to talk about all your problems and worries if you don’t feel like it.

A light, breezy convo can do wonders for improving your mood just as well.

For example, you can reminisce about fun or meaningful moments you’ve shared or exchange your favorite inside jokes.

Go to a New Place

Feeling sluggish and anxious can sometimes be a result of lack of movement and stale surroundings.

A change of environment can greatly improve your spirits and make you feel more productive and alerts.

This doesn’t mean you have to book an expensive trip or go miles away from your home.

Simple things like taking a different route to work or visiting a park or neighborhood in your city you’ve never been to before can also do the trick.

Spending time in unfamiliar environments will provide visual and mental stimulus for your brain. This will in turn help relieve stress and divert your attention to other things in your surroundings.

Moreover, if you decide to do a nature jaunt, this can also help boost your mood. Relaxing amidst greenery can calm the nerves, while the sun can replenish your body with Vitamin D, which can help lift your spirits when you’re feeling depressed and sluggish.

Sing, Sing, Sing

Stress can often become worse over time because we keep it buttoned up and hidden away from the eyes (and ears) of the world.

And if you’re not a particularly assertive or outspoken person, chances are you rarely speak up about things that concern or irritate you in your everyday dealings.

Did you know that singing can be a great way to release all the things you never get to verbalize?

It’s no wonder why so many nights out and business dinners often end in karaoke bars and rooms.

And if you feel too self-conscious to just start shouting at the top of your lungs in front of your family or housemates, you can do so when they’re out the house or while you’re in the shower.

Having your own mini-karaoke session in the bathroom or in your car can help you expel all the negative emotions you’ve been building up and start the day fresh.

Give Yourself a Facial

After a stressful day at work, in school or running errands, you just want to shut off from the world and unwind in the comfort of your home.

Why not elevate your relaxation to new heights and give yourself a little spa treatment?

This doesn’t have to be anything fancy; for example, a simple facial treatment can do wonders to relax your muscles and help you clear your thoughts.

Start off your mini-spa treatments by taking the day off with an oil or balm cleanser.

Once you wipe away all the makeup and daily grime, add another pump of your favorite face oil and start rubbing it into your face.

In the process, give yourself a face massage by moving the tips of your fingers in small, circular motions around your face.

Focus on your temples, your brow bone, center of the forehead and the jaw muscles, which tend to be very tense when we are stressed.

Once you’re finished with your face massage, treat yourself to a nourishing sheet mask infused with green tea, Aloe Vera or any other soothing nutrients.

Just slap one on and let it work its magic while you catch up on your favorite TV show.

If you want to treat yourself in the morning before work, you can also use pre-made ice cubes enriched with cucumber slices to awaken your skin and perk up your complexion.

Have a Glass of Orange Juice

In those moments when you’re feeling acute bouts of stress or anxiety, a refreshing glass of orange juice can do wonders for balancing your mood.

To make your own stress-annihilating drink, grab a couple of oranges and soften them up by rolling the fruit against a hard surface.

Cut them in half and squeeze them into a glass. Take a spoon and scrape off the pulp, then add it to your juice for more texture, fullness and nutrients. 

Your freshly squeezed citrusy concoction will be packed with Vitamin C, which can help diminish cortisol (stress) levels.

Not only will this zesty drink soothe your taste buds and calm your mind, it can also boost your immunity and even brighten up your skin.

Not only will this zesty drink soothe your taste buds and calm your mind, it can also boost your immunity and even brighten up your skin.

Sounds like an all-around win!

De-Clutter Your Office or Apartment

Sometimes, the cause for stress can lie in our immediate environment.

Think about it: how can you have an unencumbered, organized mind if your room or office space is a complete mess?

That’s why you might want to set aside some time to tackle the clutter and arrange your belongings in the most optimal way.

Not only will this help establish a clean canvas for your work or day-to-day life, the act of cleaning itself can have great therapeutic benefits for your mind and body.

To make the most out de-cluttering, arrange your things in such a way that all the items you use daily are easily accessible. Store the things that aren’t used as often in compartmentalized spaces. Finally, donate or get rid of all the things you absolutely don’t need anymore.

Freeing up your living and working space from unnecessary things will help you focus on the stuff that really matters. 

Arranging your apartment and office is not only liberating, it will also make you more productive and at ease.

Just make sure to maintain the order and you won’t ever have to worry about unwanted clutter in your life.

Hopefully, these tips can help you make the first steps towards clearing your mind and beating stress once and for all. With some luck, you will finally be able to have a fulfilling, worry-free daily routine.

Man running in the city against the sunset

9 Reasons to Give Running A Try

Running is one of the oldest and most effective forms of exercise, and many people today use it as their primary workout source or as a cardio-boosting addition to a more elaborate routine.

There are many reasons why running as exercise can be great: it increases stamina, tones the body and blasts calories. 

Furthermore, its benefits for mental health are not negligible either – running can help balance stressful schedules and help you center your thoughts.

Moreover, it’s practically free and can be done pretty much anywhere!

If this intro hasn’t made the case for running yet, let’s dive into all the reasons why this type of exercise might just be the ideal fit for you.

It Lowers Stress Levels

If you tend to exercise on the regular, you might already be aware of the fact that workouts can do wonders for your mood.

When we’re breaking sweat, our body releases endorphins, neurotransmitters which are incredibly beneficial in reducing stress and pain levels.

Even as little as 20 or 30 minutes of uninterrupted exercise can trigger the release of endorphins and contribute to an overall improved mood.

And running is a great way to squeeze in that precious endorphin-boosting session into your day-to-day routine.

Not only will running activate your muscles and get the blood flowing through your veins, it will also give you an opportunity to be focused on nothing but yourself and your thoughts.

This will help you clear your mind and re-balance yourself.

Moreover, if your daily schedule tends to be hectic and your sleeping pattern is all over the place, running can contribute to a more regulated sleep-wake cycle, due to release of serotonin and other sleep-facilitating hormones.

Finally, the more you exercise, the physically fitter you’ll get. Watching your body transform for the better will increase your confidence and make you feel more comfortable in your skin.

It Increases Your Productivity

Our day-to-day lives are riddled with all kinds of stressful situations.

Whether you are worrying about your job, studies or other obligations, sometimes it’s hard to focus and keep your priorities straight.

When your mind is frazzled, it’s easier to slip up and fall behind on your schedule.

With running, you will not only feel more energized and physically fit, you will also improve your concentration and sharpen your mental abilities.

You will feel revitalized and ready to take on whatever challenge is presented before you.

Moreover, if you turn running into a regular habit, you will feel motivated to arrange the rest of your schedule around it and stick to your routine.

It’s no wonder that so many great minds of our time were also enthusiastic runners.

It Will Make You Go Outside

Very few modern-day jobs require being on your feet or spending prolonged periods of time outdoors – the majority of people go about their day sitting behind screens in stuffy offices and cubicles.

This can greatly affect your mood and make you feel sluggish and devoid of energy.

And if you don’t often come up with an excuse to venture outdoors, running can be a great tool for readdressing this issue.

By exercising out in the open, you will find a way to reconnect with nature, which will instantly make you feel more happy and fulfilled.

woman running outside with dog

How is this the case?

Well, being out in nature is closely linked to feelings of accomplishment and happiness.

Moreover, running outside will also replenish your body with Vitamin D, which tends to decrease during dark winter months.

Vitamin D can also contribute to strengthening your bones, soothing your nerves and improving your overall immune system.

And when you mix the benefits of being out in nature with a body-boosting workout, it becomes clear why this combination can be so beneficial for your overall wellness.

It Doesn’t Cost a Thing

One of the main reasons why people are hesitant to take up exercising is the potential cost.

These days, even the most basic gym membership can put a strain on your wallet, not to mention the dizzying prices of tailored workout routines and personal trainers.

Furthermore, once you fall down the rabbit hole called the fitness sphere, you might start feeling that you’re not doing exercise right unless you’re shelling out big bucks for all the right equipment, workout gear, and state-of-the-art accessories.

It’s no wonder that the financial aspect of exercising turns people off physical activity.

Luckily, this is not the case with running.

To start running, all you need to do is get out of the apartment and get your two legs going.

OK, perhaps a pair of good running shoes might make your life easier.

Of course, if you want to enhance your running experience at a later date, you can always do so with various workout-facilitating accessories.

However, none of this is absolutely essential if you’re just looking to set your body into gear – which is what makes running one of the cheapest forms of exercise.

You Can Do It Anywhere

Sometimes, the hardest part about exercising is actually dragging yourself to the gym.

This is especially the case if you don’t live close to it.

And if you exercise at home, sometimes you’ll find this isn’t the ideal setting either, especially if your living space is cramped or if you share your apartment with other people.

If you decide to go running, you won’t have to worry about any of this.

And yes, while running on treadmills is very convenient and requires the least amount of effort (especially during cold winter months), going outside to run is even better and more beneficial for your mind and your body.

Is there really that big of a difference, you ask?

The answer is yes! Whether it’s in nature or an urban environment, trail running activates more muscles than running on a treadmill, since your legs and feet move at different angles, depending on the surface and incline.

Consequently, you burn more calories and become firmer in a shorter amount of time.

Moreover, you’ll be more mentally stimulated due to constant changes in your surroundings – as opposed to the faceless interiors of gyms and exercise studios.

It’s Great For Losing Weight

If weight loss is the primary reason why you have decided to take up running, then you’ll be pleased to hear that this type of exercise is extremely effective at burning those extra layers of fat.

Even a simple, slow-paced jog can speed up your metabolism and help you shed the pounds faster.

But if you take it up a notch and start doing high-intensity runs, your body will be able to melt those calories away even faster.

Another great thing about running is that your muscles have to keep on working even after your workout is over in order to recover. This is called “the afterburn effect”.

Even better, combine your running routine with a couple of weekly strength training sessions, and your muscles will turn into bona fide fat-blasting machines.

And if you want to fully maximize on the weight loss potential of running, try to maintain a balanced diet. Processed sugars and fats may slow down your calorie-burning journey, so it might be best to switch to a diet packed with whole grains, veggies and nuts.

It Tones the Body

So, we learned how running can be extremely helpful in shedding excess weight.

But this type of exercise can also be efficient in sculpting your body and firming your muscles.

When you run, your legs tend to do most of the work. With time, you will notice how your calves, your thighs and your hamstrings are becoming more defined.

If your workouts involve running on diverse terrain with plenty of inclines, you can also rest assured your glutes will become toned as well.

However, firming your body through running doesn’t end with legs.

If you work out continuously, you will develop a strong and resilient core, which will result in more sculpted abdominal muscles.

A stronger core will improve your posture and prevent the occurrence of injuries during future workouts.

If your main fitness goal is to tone your body, you should make the most of your running sessions.

The best way to do this is to keep them varied and interesting. Combing long-distance runs with high-intensity sprints; try to run on all kinds of surfaces with different inclines.

This type of exercise will activate a good chunk of your muscles and enhance your performance. Plus, you can rest assured your workouts will never be boring!

It Clears Up the Skin

Some benefits of running are skin deep.

But hey, who’s complaining? If you can achieve a glowing complexion in addition to a healthy, toned body, then all the better.

There are many ways in which running helps improve your complexion.

For one, running boosts your circulation, which increases the delivery of oxygen and other nutrients into your cells. This increases collagen production, which then results in plumper, firmer skin.

Moreover, when your skin cells are feeling energized, they are then motivated to shed your body of all the toxins and pollutants that can cause a host of different skin woes.

Moreover, when we exercise, the levels of stress hormone cortisol become gradually lower. And with lack of tension and stress, you lower the chances of developing stress-caused skin conditions, such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.

However, in order to maximize on all the perks running has for your skin, you need to take a couple of precautionary measures.

For one, when possible, try to avoid wearing makeup when running.

A combination of thick product and sweat may cause breakouts. A lightweight, salicylic acid-enriched cleanser should give you a clean canvas and reduce the chances of spots and blackheads.

If your skin is prone to breakouts, be that on your face or your body, you might want to invest in quality workout gear. Avoid anything that’s too tight and opt for nature-derived fabrics like cotton or hemp. This way, your skin will be able to breathe and you won’t have to worry about pimples caused by sweat-drenched clothes.

It’s Social

Exercising can often feel solitary.

Between the unfriendly hours and drab gyms, it’s hard to look forward to a good workout when you know you’ll be alone with your thoughts for the entirety of the time.

This doesn’t have to be the case with running, though!

If you find yourself an exercise buddy, you’ll never have to worry about your runs feeling dull or lonely.

Moreover, when you set plans to run with another person, it makes it harder to bail out on workouts. Plus, having someone to talk to and catch up with will definitely make you excited for every running session.

social running group

Also, running with friends might awaken your competitive streak – by comparing yourself to another runner, you might feel extra motivated to do better with each running session.

And if you don’t have any friends who are willing to jog with you, you can always join a local running club. Not only will you have company during your sessions, you might make some new friends!

Finally, a great way to boost your performance is to join a race in your area. Half-marathons, marathons and charity races will inspire you to achieve better results and become a more accomplished runner.

Has this list convinced you to finally go for a run? With all the benefits running will provide for your body, you’d be foolish not to. Now it’s time to put on your best pair of trainers and hit the ground running!

Young woman laughing

Daily Habits for a Happier Life

Many people believe that happiness is something that happens by chance, but this is not necessarily true…

Instead, think of happiness as a life skill, something that you can work on and develop to ensure that you are feeling consistently happy each day.

Wondering how to do this?

It’s easy. All you need to do is adopt each of these habits into your daily life…

Meditate Daily 

For someone who has not bought into the idea of meditation, the thought of doing this on a daily basis can seem pointless.

However, meditation has been proven to have so many different health benefits, from increasing focus and concentration to improving memory. In addition to all of this, meditation on a regular basis can permanently rewire the brain to increase happiness levels. 

benefits of meditation infographic

Meditation is not something that has to take much time either…

When just starting out, all you need to commit to is a couple of minutes of meditation a day. Even if you are extremely eager to get started, it is always best to begin small, so that you can turn this into a habit that you will stick to.

Pick a time of the day to set aside for meditation, and find a quiet spot somewhere. Sit down comfortably, and then do the following:

  • Focus on your breath as you breathe in, following this through your nostrils, throat, lungs and stomach
  • Do the same as you breathe out, counting your breaths if this helps
  • If you find that your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your breath
  • Repeat this process for a couple of minutes

It does not matter if your eyes are open or closed, so long as you do this process each and every day. After a week, you can increase your two minutes of meditation to five minutes, and keep doing this in five minute intervals each week.

It will take about a month for this to become a habit, after which time you will likely also notice the benefits that this brief daily meditation is bringing to your mind and body. 

Keep Busy, But Don’t Rush Yourself

There is an incredibly fine line between staying busy and feeling rushed, but it is this balance that can really make a huge difference to how happy you feel.

Research has shown that feeling rushed will inevitably lead to stress, and therefore unhappiness, while having too much free time results in boredom and dissatisfaction

On the other hand, being productive can really boost your happiness, but you need to do this at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

Are you someone that often takes on more than you can handle?

The best way to handle this is to stop and think each time an opportunity or project comes your way. Unless you are really and truly excited and passionate about it, you need to learn how to say no.

Exercise

Do you do some form of physical activity each day?

If your answer is no, this is a habit that can really help with your happiness.

How?

Because exercise triggers the release of certain proteins and endorphins in the brain, all of which will make you feel happier. 

Exercise also helps to boost productivity, which will help with the point mentioned above about keeping busy.

Think you do not have the time to exercise each day?

Here are a few ways in which you can easily incorporate more exercise into your everyday life:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
  • Do some window shopping, but at a fast stroll
  • Stand more, whether this may be on public transport or while watching television
  • Do a ten minute long squat each day, or start with a shorter time and build this up each day
  • Install a pull-up bar onto a door frame in your house, and then do one or two reps each time you pass underneath it 

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

In order to really be happy, you need to be able to challenge yourself, and succeed at those challenges. Taking risks and embracing change is so important, even though it may seem frightening at the time.

Don’t like the idea of having to step out of your comfort zone each day?

This does not need to be anything crazy, like jumping out of a plane…

Instead, just try to do something small that you have never done before, whether this may be eating a new ingredient, styling your hair in a different way, or taking a new route to work.

Improve Your Diet

Your diet has a direct impact on your mood, and, even if you already eat quite healthily, the majority of people out there could likely easily make a few changes to improve their diet.

On a daily basis, you should be eating at regular intervals, as this helps to keep your mood stable, and make sure that you do not skip meals.

There are certain foods out there that have been proven to boost the mood, such as:

  • Protein – including eggs, seafood, poultry and tofu
  • Vitamin D obtained through sun exposure, but also comes from egg yolks and soy milk
  • Vitamin B-12 and Folate comes from broccoli, lentils, oatmeal, cottage cheese, lean beef and salmon
  • Fiber comes from fruits, vegetables and oats

On the other hand, there are certain foods that can really throw your mood off, making it much more of a challenge for you to feel happy. The main culprit here is sugar, as well as refined white starches. While sugar may give you a short burst of energy, this will soon drop back down, leaving you feeling even crankier than before. 

So, how do you implement all of this on a daily basis?

It’s easy…

Small changes are the key here, as you do not need to completely overhaul your entire diet overnight.

Instead, aim to improve a small part of your diet each day in a way that you would not have normally done. This could be anything from adding one less spoonful of sugar to your morning coffee to incorporating some extra leafy greens in your dinner to swapping your white bread for a wholegrain version. 

Be Appreciative

Whether showing appreciation for someone else, or for yourself or what you have, being appreciative has been proven to significantly increase happiness levels, with some studies even showing that it can boost this by up to 25%

The idea of being more appreciative may seem easy in theory, but how do you actually go about doing this on a daily basis?

Simply verbally expressing appreciation for someone, whether this may be for something that they have done or just an aspect of their personality, is a great way to start. Alternatively, try writing a handwritten thank you note to somebody each day, but make sure that you are only sending this with sincere appreciation in mind.

Wake Up Earlier

When you first start working on implementing this habit, the earlier starts to your day will likely not immediately make you feel happy, but this is something that will develop quite quickly.

Waking up earlier will help to keep you feeling invigorated and energized throughout the day. It also gives you extra time in your day, which can help with productivity, which also then results in happiness. 

To top it all off…

Early starts mean that you are likely to start going to bed earlier, and will be able to maintain a much healthier sleep routine.

Just like with changing your diet, this is not something that you need to get drastic about.

Instead, set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than you usually would, and give yourself a few days to a week to get used to this change. Once your body has adapted, set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier again, and keep repeating this process until you have begun to naturally rise at a time that suits you.

Learn Something New

Human beings have a core need for psychological well-being, and a natural desire to learn new things and progress in life.

There are numerous studies out there that suggest that education can directly increase happiness, thanks to the way in which the mind is being challenged. 

Don’t want to go back to school?

Fortunately, you do not need to, as there are so many other ways in which you can learn new things. Here are a few ideas:

  • Arrange a skills swap with friends
  • Ask a keen gardener to teach you how to develop your green thumb
  • Take up a new hobby
  • Sign up for a free online course
  • Think of a skill or activity you would like to do, and use the power of the internet to teach it to yourself

Of course, there is no denying that learning new skills can often cause stress…

However, research suggests that while the actual learning process can sometimes feel stressful, your overall levels of happiness and satisfaction will be higher when you look back on your day and all that you have learned.

Give Yourself a Treat

Research shows that in order to be truly happy overall, you need to have plenty of small positive experiences along the way. The frequency of these experiences is actually more important than the intensity, which is why treating yourself on a daily basis can really help to boost your happiness levels.

Wondering what to treat yourself with?

Everything from breakfast in bed to purchasing gourmet coffee beans rather than instant to setting aside some time each day where you can curl up with a good book. 

Spend Money on Experiences, Rather than Material Goods

There are quite a few studies out there that show that experiential purchases, meaning spending money on experiences, makes people far happier than buying material goods.

Why?

For a few different reasons:

  • Material goods get old quickly, while experiences can be shared throughout a lifetime
  • Experiences get recalled and revisited frequently, boosting happiness
  • Experiences are much more unique in nature
  • Experiences tend to be social, and humans are social animals

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Do you remember constantly comparing yourself to other people when you were in your teenage years?

Hopefully, this is not something that you do quite as much now, since comparing yourself to others can really minimize happiness.

If you catch yourself making comparisons to others…

Turn this around and instead compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself. Think about your qualities that have improved over the years, as these are much healthier comparisons to be making.

Keep a Journal

If you have never kept a journal before, the thought of starting one can seem a little daunting…

However, a journal is a great way to help your mind to process the events that are happening in your life, building up your awareness and increasing your clarity.

Even if you only manage to jot down a few lines a day, this can really help in the long run.

The easiest way to get started with this is by grabbing a pen and a piece of paper, but there are also journaling apps that you can download. These will send you notifications each day to remind you to write, which is always helpful when you are first trying to build a habit.

Not sure what to write about?

Just about anything will do! Start by writing down the events of the day, or even what you have eaten. You can also jot down your goals and dreams, as well as any worries or fears that you may have, as just the act of writing these down will help you to work your way through them.

Taking proactive steps to be happy means that you are much more likely to experience consistent happiness in your life, and it makes happiness more of a sure thing, rather than you just waiting and hoping for it to appear. Each of these daily habits are so easy to incorporate into your life, so have another read through the list and then pick a few that you can begin to implement right now.

Couple holding up bottled juices

10 Foods You Think Are Good For You, But Actually Aren’t 

Have you been trying to improve your diet and eat in a healthier way?

This can sometimes seem quite easy, thanks to the wide range of foods available that are touted as being healthy.

However, while you may think that you are doing your body some good by consuming everything from agave nectar to store-bought green juices to coconut oil, you could actually be causing more damage than you realize…

Store-Bought Green Juices

Green juices have exploded in popularity lately, and for good reason too…

Juicing fruits and vegetables means that you are extracting the fiber, which means that, when you consume them, your body is able to absorb and make use of the nutrients within them at a much more efficient rate. This then gives you the fantastic surge of energy that green juices are so famous for.

There are so many green juices available in stores these days, and while some of them may be quite healthy, the majority are likely not.

So, how do you go about making a decision?

Many people think a juice that comes in a vivid shade of green is definitely going to be healthy, but it actually only takes a tiny amount of spinach, or another green, to achieve this color. The rest of the juice will tend to mainly consist of fruits, rather than vegetables, as this not only helps the juice to go further, but it also makes the taste one that will appeal to a wider audience.

The only way to decipher whether or not a store-bought green juice is good for you is by taking a look at the ingredients list. Not only do you need to be looking at which fruits and vegetables have been used, but make sure you also examine how much sugar the juice contains.

You will find that many juices out there are actually packed with sugar, with some even containing just as much as a fizzy drink

Of course, the best way to enjoy a green juice without worrying about whether or not it is bad for you is by making your own.

This is actually easy to do, and can be made in larger batches so that you have some juice ready for whenever you need a kick of energy.

Coconut Oil

Around 72% of Americans think that coconut oil is a healthy food, but recent reports from the American Heart Association dispute this

While coconut oil does contain some good fats, around 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, which is a higher amount than everything from butter to pork lard to beef fat.

Cutting back on the amount of saturated fat in the modern diet is something that has been advised for a while now, and while coconut oil can have its benefits, it should not be consumed in copious amounts, which is what many do.

Coconut oil is also quite calorie-dense, with just one tablespoon of it containing around 120 calories.

While consuming small amounts of coconut oil is no doubt good for you, you would be best off sticking to healthier oils for daily use, such as extra virgin olive oil.

Of course, do not forget that, when used topically, coconut oil has some fantastic antifungal and anti-bacterial properties. 

Agave Nectar

If you have been looking into sugar substitutes, you have likely already come across agave nectar quite a few times, and maybe even used it yourself.

Agave nectar comes from the same plant that tequila is made from, and has a syrup-like consistency, making it a convenient sweetener to use.

But is it actually better than sugar?

Well, agave nectar does have a low-glycemic index, meaning that it does not cause sharp fluctuations in blood sugar levels. 

However, this only means that it does not contain glucose…

So what about fructose?

Agave is actually packed with fructose, which is the same substance that you would find in unhealthy high fructose corn syrup. There are a number of studies out there linking a diet high in fructose with a range of different medical issues, including heart disease. 

While agave nectar may be a better option than other artificial sweeteners, it is still a food that you should really try not to consume too much of.

Gluten-Free Foods

For those who have celiac disease, or a gluten sensitivity, a gluten-free diet is essential.

However, for everyone else, a gluten-free diet can actually be detrimental to your health.

How?

In a few different ways:

  • Gluten-free foods usually contain less fiber, which is necessary for bowel health
  • When gluten is removed from a food, it loses its elasticity, so other refined ingredients, such as stabilizing gums, are added in instead
  • Gluten-free foods often contain more calories, fat and carbohydrates than their standard alternatives

With so many different celebrities deciding to adopt a gluten-free diet, it seems to have become the new dietary trend, even though there is really no evidence that points to gluten being detrimental for health unless you have celiac disease. 

Pink Himalayan Salt

Pink Himalayan salt is another ingredient that has become quite trendy in recent years, and its distinctive pink hue not only looks pretty on kitchen shelves, but also contains small amounts of minerals. These include calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium.

However, have you actually looked into how much of these minerals are in the salt?

The answer is close to zero. While there are minerals present, these are in such tiny amounts that they really will not be making much of a difference at all to your health.

Many people use more Himalayan salt than regular salt, thinking that, because of the minerals, it is better for them. But, it is still just a salt, meaning that you need to be cautious with how much you use.

Low-Fat and Skimmed Milk

If you have been trying to watch your weight, then making the decision between a full-fat and a low-fat milk can seem like a no-brainer.

However, the low-fat version is actually something that you should avoid…

Why?

Well, to begin with, while whole milk does have more fats in it, many of these are good fats, and do everything from improving your metabolism to helping keep you feeling full.

Milk also contains a number of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K. Without the fat, skimmed milk will have far less of these vitamins.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you…

When skimmed milk is made, its consistency is nothing at all like whole milk. In order to make skimmed milk more palatable, the producers add in powdered milk, as this helps to improve its texture.

Why does this matter?

Because this process actually results in the milk containing oxidized cholesterol, which causes even more damage to your arteries than regular cholesterol.

There are many studies out there that point to the various reasons for which low-fat milk should be avoided, for both adults as well as children.

Store-Bought Almond Milk

One of the reasons that plant-based milks have become so popular recently is because their shelf life tends to be much longer than dairy milks.

But have you ever wondered why this is?

The answer is because the majority of plant-based milks are packed with preservatives, as well as a range of sugars, thickeners and stabilizers, as they need these to obtain their milky texture.

When it comes to almond milk in particular…

One of the most common additives that you will find in store-bought versions is carrageenan.

Have you ever heard of this before?

It is a common preservative, which has long since been linked to everything from intestinal inflammation to cancer.

You will also find a range of vegetable oils in almond milk, many of which do not actually benefit the body, as well as added vitamins and minerals that come in a form that the body cannot easily absorb and make use of.

For those who think that they are getting plenty of almonds in their milk, think again…

Studies have shown that many brands of almond milk out there contain no more than 2% almonds

The milk itself is also produced in a similar way to coffee, meaning that water is strained through ground beans, or, in this case, nuts. This means that the majority of the almond milk you buy is just water, and also does not have much of a nutritional value. 

Still need a dairy-free milk?

Try making your own! You can use just about any nut or seed that you can get your hands on, or even a mix of them, such as:

  • Almonds
  • Coconut
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pecan nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Cashew nuts
  • Hemp seeds

You can then either store it in the fridge for a few days, or freeze it in batches so that you always have some to hand.

Trail Mix

Trail mix is often marketed as a healthy, on-the-go snack. While this is true in some cases, the majority of pre-made trail mixes out there are usually filled with calories, and contain ingredients that are actually rather unhealthy.

Does your trail mix contain just nuts, some dried fruit and some dark chocolate?

If so, you are on to a winner!

However, the majority of brands out there contain ingredients such as yogurt or chocolate covered raisins, sesame sticks, candy, and fried banana chips, all of which are packed with sugars, fats and refined carbohydrates.

Just like when it comes to plant-based milks, your best option is to make your own trail mix. This is so simple to do, and you will actually find that you end up saving money, and can also tailor your trail mix to suit your own personal tastes. https://resveralife.com/pump-fiber-diet/

Multivitamins

Research has shown that around half of American adults take daily vitamin supplements, but there are actually no studies at all out there that justify this.

In fact, the over-consumption of certain vitamins can actually lead to an increased risk of cancer.

Of course, from vitamin A to vitamin C to vitamin E, your body requires vitamins in order to properly function, but studies have shown that these vitamins are consumed in adequate quantity in the average diet. 

If you are taking multivitamins or another form of vitamin supplement, it may be worth looking into this in more detail, so that you can decide for yourself whether or not they are actually benefiting your body.

Sushi

High in protein and low in carbohydrates, sushi is definitely one of the more healthier meal options out there.

However, the problem here lies in the fish that is used…

Most of the time, you will find fish such as tuna, sea bass and swordfish used in your favorite sushi dishes.

Wondering what is wrong with these?

They are known for being some of the worst fish to eat when it comes to mercury contamination. This is something that cannot be detected on a fish in terms of sight, smell or taste, and also cannot be destroyed by cooking or preparing the fish in a certain way.

Here are some of the fish types that you should avoid:

  • Tuna, which is the most common source of mercury exposure in the USA
  • Mackerel
  • Seabass
  • Yellowtail

Instead, opt for smaller fish varieties, such as sardines, scallops and anchovies, as these are much lower down on the food chain in the sea, and therefore contain less mercury

Worried that you may have already consumed high amounts of mercury?

Fortunately, you can have this tested, through a blood test, with your physician. If you are a woman who is trying to get pregnant, you may want to wait on this until your mercury levels have dropped back down to a safer amount.

For many people, a healthy diet can be difficult to stick to, especially when foods that you think are healthy are actually not. The best way around this is by being diligent with every single ingredient that you put into your body, making sure to fully scrutinize the ingredients list of every pre-made product that you purchase.

Contemplative woman on a park bench

Afraid of Aging? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Be

The idea of aging is something that many do not react well to, but why is this?

Well, it could have something to do with the physical changes that take place, or even the mental ones.

But while this may be the case, aging is really not something that you need to be afraid of. Here are just a few of the reasons why…

Aging Doesn’t Mean You Must Have Poor Health

Many people think that pain, illness and disease are all things that go hand-in-hand with old age.

But this is not true…

Yes, there are certain diseases that become more common as you get older, but, for many of them, there are actually quite a few preventative steps that you can take.

One of these is by paying attention to nutrition

colorful food nutritional benefits infographic

Malnutrition is becoming an increasing problem, especially amongst the elderly, and this can have a number of severe consequences:

  • Weakened muscles and bones
  • Higher susceptibility to diseases and infections
  • Risk of becoming underweight
  • Slower healing time

By ensuring that you are receiving all the nutrition that you need, you will be having a huge impact on your health in the future. A healthy diet now means that, as you age, you will not need to deal with the diseases and health issues that others face. 

Aging Means You’ll Have More Time

Imagine having an extra hour or two in your day…

How would you spend it?

The idea of having this extra time may seem ludicrous to some, but this is exactly what you will have as you get older.

How?

Because older adults need less sleep.

In fact, this is a sign of healthy aging.

So, how much sleep will you need?

Well, up until the age of 30, you need between seven and eight hours. After this, you need between six and seven. 

Of course, a lack of sleep can be damaging too.

How do you know if you are getting enough sleep?

Pay attention to how sleepy you feel during the day. If you are wide awake and alert, then this means that you have likely had enough sleep the night before. However, if you start to feel drowsy at some point during the day, then you may need an hour or two more each night.

Aging Makes You Happier

The concept of happiness has been at the center of so much research in recent years. 

One interesting result is the fact that seniors, out of all of the different age groups out there, are among the happiest of them all. This is especially the case when compared to those who are middle-aged. 

Wondering why this is?

Researchers believe that this could be down to better coping abilities. Since seniors have likely already been through quite a bit of hardship in their lives, they are much better able to deal with negative situations, and are also quite optimistic.

Aging Increases Marital Satisfaction

For those who are married, this may really interest you..

Many parents think that once the last of their children have moved out, a marriage will feel so much emptier.

But this is actually the opposite from the truth.

Research has shown that once all children have left home, there tends to be an increase in marital satisfaction.

senior couple

Why?

Because often, couples find themselves drifting apart, or feeling disconnected, while going through all that it takes to raise children. However, once the children have left, couples are able to get back into touch with each other, rediscovering why they fell in love with each other in the first place.

Aging Allows You to Pursue Your Dreams

When you are in your teenage years, the passion to pursue your dreams is a strong one. However, as you continue on through life, this can often be dulled down. Many find themselves in jobs that they do not enjoy, spending years doing something that does not really satisfy them.

However, once retirement rolls around, this all changes…

How?

Well, retirement gives you so much more time, and this time can be spent pursuing some of those long lost dreams that you may have put on hold years ago.

Whether you wanted to travel to a foreign country to learn a new language, write your very first novel, or grow your own food, you will have so much time once you are retired to try all of these exciting things.

Ever wanted to start your own business?

Retirement is the time to do so. In fact, over the past ten years or so, the average age for an entrepreneur is between 55 and 64.

Aging Gives You More Family Time

grandfather and grandson playing in the grass

In addition to spending your retirement time pursuing your dreams, you will also have so much more time to spend with your family and loved ones.

Being able to see your children and grandchildren grow up is something that so many look forward to, and this time of your life may even be one of the highlights of all of your years.

Aging Teaches You Emotional Management Skills

In your younger years, you may often experience moments where your emotions seem to simply overwhelm you, leaving you feeling confused and unsure of what to do.

Fortunately, these moments decrease as you age…

Managing your emotions is actually considered to be a life skill that takes decades to master. The result of this is emotional stability, as well as the ability pay more attention to the good, and less attention to the bad. This could be another reason as to why seniors have a happier outlook on life than younger generations. 

Aging Can Boost Cognitive Function

There is no denying that aging commonly brings with it cognitive decline, but researchers are finding that, in some ways, cognitive function may actually improve with age.

There is still plenty more research to be done on the topic, but a study carried out by the University of Illinois examined the way in which older air traffic controllers carried out their job in comparison to younger generations of air traffic controllers.

Wondering what the results were?

Even though the older group was experiencing some short term memory loss, as well as a reduction in visual spatial processing, they still excelled at their jobs. When it came to navigating multiple aircrafts at the same time, and avoiding a collision, the older group was far superior

Aging Teaches You Not to Judge Others

In your younger years, you may have often cast judgement upon others. Whether due to material goods they did or did not have, or something superficial, such as the way in which they looked, judgement is something that just about everybody is guilty of.

Judgement may not be a huge evil in the big scheme of things, but it does often lead to negative emotions within the person doing the judging, which is no good for your mental health.

However, this changes with age…

As you grow older, you will learn not to judge other people, and will instead naturally begin to accept them for who they are.

Aging Doesn’t Mean Isolation

One worry that many have about aging is that they may find themselves isolated from all that is out there.

However, the world is becoming increasingly age-friendly.

happy senior people

In fact, the World Health Organization has started an initiative, in conjunction with a number of cities around the world, to make the world more age-friendly. 

What exactly does this mean?

Here are just a few of the ways in which cities are adapting to their elderly population:

  • Age-friendly transportation
  • New forms of education
  • New care and housing concepts
  • Age-friendly business workplaces and campuses

From Mumbai to New York, cities all over the world are embracing this initiative, determined to make the world a better place for those who are aging.

Aging Reveals Your True Identity

Many people spend their youth trying to discover who they really are, but very few find the answers…

Why is this?

Because discovering who you are is something that takes decades, and cannot be rushed in just a few years.

Each year, you will learn so many new things about yourself, whether this be related to your character, your beliefs or your abilities. You will learn both positive and negative things about yourself, and these discoveries will accumulate over the years, meaning that you will finally understand your inner nature in depth.

Aging Means You Have More Life Experience

The older you get, the more life experiences you accumulate.

Everybody goes through different things in their life, and these experiences make you who you are. 

While you may sometimes face negative experiences, these are just as important as the positive, as you will come out of them having learned something, even if it may not feel like it at the time.

All of these life experiences also means that you become much more interesting to others. You can use your experiences to guide and advise others, changing peoples’ lives for the better.

Aging Doesn’t Mean Giving Up Driving

A few decades ago, growing older meant that you would soon have to stop driving, but this is no longer the case.

Technology has advanced in huge leaps and bounds, and all of these innovations mean that people will be able to continue to drive, in a safe manner, as they grow in age.

senior woman driving

What are some of these innovations?

Everything from adaptive headlights, which pivot the light beam so that drivers can see better on curved roads, to assisted parking systems to rear cameras make driving so much easier.

Aging Doesn’t Mean Losing Your Independence

One of the aspects of aging that many fear is having to become completely dependent on others.

However, the chances of this happening are actually quite slim…

Let’s begin by taking a look at those between the ages of 65 and 74.

When it comes to everyday tasks, this age group barely differs from those who are middle-aged. This is especially true for those living in an age-friendly location, such as within easy walking distance of shops.

But yes, things do change slightly once you pass this age range…

However, unless you are suffering from a physical health problem, or a cognitive issue, you will still not need to be completely dependent on others. You may need some extra help from support services, but you will still be able to live in your own home and continue doing what you love.

Aging Gives You More Confidence

Along with age comes confidence.

Why?

Well, the answer has already been mentioned above, and this is down to all of the life experiences you will have acquired.

Each of these experiences will add to your sense of confidence, meaning that, as you reach the later stages of old age, you will have confidence in buckets! This confidence is something that really only does come with experience, but it can really change the lives of those who have suffered from a lack of confidence in their earlier years. 

Aging is a Privilege

You may not think it now, but aging is actually quite a privilege.

Wondering how?

Think about everything that people face on a daily basis…

From crime to pollution to politics to stress, there are so many people that do not even get to see the age of 60.

No matter how old you may currently be, think about all that you have seen and experienced in your lifetime. Every day really is a gift, so put your fear of aging behind you and make the most of all that life has to offer.

Young woman drinking tea next to window

De-Stress for the Weekend

Have you had a particularly busy and stressful week?

Here are some tried-and-tested ways for you to de-stress for the weekend, so that you can really relax, unwind, and enjoy your time off.

Why is it Important to De-Stress?

Before you try to de-stress, it is important to understand why this is important, as this will give you the extra motivation needed to really make an effort.

Each time you experience stress, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, which helps to trigger the fight or flight response in the human body. In ancient times, this would help humans escape from dangerous predators and other fatal situations.

effects of cortisol

However, in today’s world, stress can be caused by so many different factors, from a traffic jam to a late night at work. Your body cannot differentiate between how serious the stressor is, so will always release cortisol.

While this is not too harmful in the short term, it can really be damaging in the long run.

How?

Here are just a few of the physical and mental health problems that stress can cause:

  • Hypertension and headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Insomnia
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Acne and other skin issues
  • Exacerbation of existing conditions, such as asthma, eczema and irritable bowel syndrome

While it may be difficult to control how often you feel stressed, there are, thankfully, a number of ways in which you can de-stress your body quite quickly.

Take a Deep Breath

The very first thing that you should do when you begin to feel stressed is focus on your breathing.

Why?

Because even just taking a few deep breaths will give your body an extra boost of oxygen, which will quickly help to relieve stress and tension.

On the other hand, shallow breathing, which people often do when they are stressed, does the opposite, and stimulates the nervous system, making you feel even worse.

In addition to taking a few deep breaths, you can push this even further and try out a couple of breathing exercises.

While these may seem futile, several clinical studies have proven that breathing exercises can help to do everything from reducing blood pressure to preventing damage caused by stress.

Go For a Walk

One of the best ways to relieve your body of stress is to get it moving.

This can be in the form of any sort of exercise, but walking tends to be the easiest to do when you want to de-stress quickly.

How does it work?

Well, when you take a brisk walk, your body releases several neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin and GABA. These then improve your mood, as well as your overall sense of well-being.

In addition to this, exercise also helps to increase blood flow to the brain, which is another way in which it relieves stress.

Don’t have much time for a walk?

All you need is 15 minutes, as this is enough for you to experience some of the immediate benefits that exercise can bring. Of course, if you can spare a bit more time, then that will be even more beneficial.

Do Some Forest-Bathing

There is so much research out there to prove how forest-bathing can significantly reduce stress.

happy woman walking in the forest

No idea what this is?

Forest-bathing simply refers to spending some time in a forested area, and has been a trend in Japan for a while.

Why?

Because studies have shown that spending time in a forest will leave you with lowered cortisol levels, as well as lowered blood pressure. 

Buy a Few House Plants

While you may not be able to spend time in a forest every day, house plants are a great way to ensure that you have some contact with plants on a daily basis.

Just being around them can help to induce your relaxation response, so try incorporating a few around your home.

There are even some house plants that are known for their de-stressing benefits…

Here are a few:

  • Lavender – its scent helps to slow down heart rate, and lower blood pressure and stress levels
  • Jasmine – will help you to feel less anxious and more peaceful, while inducing sleep
  • Rosemary – purifies the air while reducing stress and anxiety
  • Aloe Vera – cleanses the air of certain toxins while treating symptoms of anxiety
  • Snake Plant – improves energy levels while treating stress-induced headaches

A Good Night’s Sleep

There is an increasing number of studies out there that point to the connection between regular, quality sleep and the ability to overcome stress.

A good night’s sleep helps your mind and body to repair and restore itself, resulting in a number of different benefits:

  • Lowered stress levels
  • Better emotional regulation
  • Stronger immune system
  • Decreased risk of many chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease

Feeling too stressed to get to sleep? 

Try to create a relaxing environment in your bedroom, with the use of candles, essential oils and soft music. There are also many breathing techniques out there that could have you fast asleep in no time at all.

Have a Laugh

The idea of laughing when you are feeling immensely stressed may seem a little far-fetched, but even faking a few laughs can have an impact, really making you feel so much better.

How?

Laughing has been proven to have the ability to decrease the amount of cortisol in the body, while also reducing inflammation within arteries.

Pucker Up

Don’t feel like laughing?

Try kissing instead.

couple kissing

Studies have shown that this works well for women in particular, as kissing that special someone on the lips triggers the brain to release endorphins.

The kiss does not need to be sexually arousing, but should be a deep and emotional one. Aim for at least one ten-second kiss a day to keep your stress levels to a minimum.

Eat a Meal Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Stress and food are closely connected, which is why many people often reach for junk food to comfort them in times of stress.

However, the excess sugar, salt and other unhealthy ingredients will only make you feel worse in the long run.

Want to know what to eat to make you feel better?

Food containing omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids prevent the body from producing too much cortisol, which will stop you from feeling so stressed. It also triggers the release of a hormone called DHEA, which is known for being able to combat stress, doubling the effects that omega-3 fatty acids can have.

So, which foods do you need to eat?

Here are some of the foods that are richest in omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Herring
  • Flaxseeds
  • Egg yolk

Chew Some Gum

Can chewing gum really help you to de-stress?

Science says yes, and while it may not help during times of extreme stress, it will definitely make a difference if you are experiencing mild to moderate stress.

Studies have shown that chewing some gum can reduce the amount of cortisol in the body by 16% during mild stress, and 12% during moderate stress.

While this may seem too good to be true, it is definitely a method worth trying!

Listen to Some Music

Music has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, so spending some time listening to a few tunes could really help you to de-stress before the weekend.

woman dancing to music

Not sure what to listen to?

Give classical a try for maximum benefits, as this has been shown to slow down the heart rate, decrease cortisol levels, and lower blood pressure.

However, just about any sort of music will still trigger your brain to release plenty of neurochemicals, such as dopamine, which will have you feeling great.

Don’t have any music at hand?

Make your own! Even humming to yourself can help to lower stress, so don’t be afraid to sing a few songs aloud.

Unplug

If you are someone that tends to be glued to your smartphone, then you should know that these have been linked to heightened stress levels. There are so many other ways in which the modern world over-stimulates the mind, leading to an increased stress response.

The best way to take some time out from all of this is to unplug. Turn off your phone and your computer, and spend some time in an environment where there are no electronic distractions. Whether you create a small haven at home, or head to the beach to spend the day with the sun, sand and sea, unplugging can really help to re-balance your mind.

Play a Video Game

While electronics do often contribute to an increase in stress levels, they can also help to reduce them.

One example of this is with video games, which decrease stress and improve the mood.

How?

By absorbing your mind in the game that you are playing, which provides the perfect distraction to give your nervous system some time to calm down.

However, the type of game that you choose is key…

Violent games should always be avoided, while the most beneficial games tend to be puzzle games.

Write It Down

There is no denying that journaling is a great way to reduce stress, but there are several different theories as to why this is.

Whatever the reason may be, writing about stressful events or moments will help you to process them so much better. On the other hand, if you choose to ignore what you are feeling, this will only heighten your body’s stress response.

Journaling also enables you to take a look at your stressors from a different perspective, giving you the chance to observe how you can improve things in the future.

You do not need to spend long writing, as just a few minutes may be all you need. Try to do this every day, so that you get into the habit of it and it soon becomes second nature.

Eat a Banana

While eating a banana may not help during times of extreme stress, this is definitely a clever trick to try if you are experiencing mild stress.

How does it work?

Well, during times of stress, blood pressure rises. Bananas are packed with potassium, which can quickly regulate blood pressure.

Bananas also provide the body with the energy needed to rise above a stressful situation, while protecting the body from some of the negative effects that stress, and cortisol, can have, from a stroke to a heart attack to depression.

Learn a Craft

The majority of crafts out there tend to make use of repetitive motions, and these are known to be extremely meditative, relieving stress and reducing anxiety.

Knitting is a great example of this, as it features so many repetitive motions.

knitting red jumper

Not a fan of knitting?

Try cross-stitch instead, or have a go at making your own jewelry.

Spend Time With Friends

There are a few studies out there that show that spending time with a close friend can really help to decrease cortisol levels in the body.

Don’t have any friends nearby?

Give man’s best friend a try instead. Dogs are known for being able to lower stress levels and increase happiness. Even if you do not have a dog of your own, or know anyone that has a dog, you can still head over to your local animal shelter and spend a few hours volunteering with all of the dogs that live there.

De-Clutter

Surrounding yourself with masses of clutter is only going to make you feel stressed so much easier.

De-cluttering can seem like an intimidating task, but, by taking it one small step at a time, you will soon accomplish all you need to.

Begin with a small part of your home, such as a drawer, throwing out what you do not need and then re-organizing what remains.

Each day, or even each week, tackle a new part of your house, until your whole home has been de-cluttered.

 

Relaxed woman sitting on the bank of river

11 Steps to a Calm, Relaxed Mind

Learning how to relax your mind is an essential life skill to have, especially in this day and age where stress is so abundant. Not only will this help to mentally rebalance you, but calming your mind will also give your brain a bit of a boost, resulting in higher creativity and productivity.

  1. Listen to Some Music

Music can have quite the impact on your mind, with different genres of music having their own unique effects.

For those who need to reduce stress, studies have found that instrumental music can be extremely effective at relaxing the mind, especially Native American, Celtic and Indian tunes. Light jazz and classical music can also have this same effect, as can sounds of nature, such as rain and thunder.

If you need some help getting to sleep at night, try spending 45 minutes before bed in a relaxed, comfortable position, while listening to some calming music.

Alternatively, if you need some help lifting your mood, go for something lively and upbeat, as this can really help you to feel more positive.

Of course, singing along to music is also a great way to release tension while boosting your mood at the same time.

  1. Snack on Some Calming Foods

Feeling anxious or worried can often lead to stress eating, which is the term used when someone eats to make themselves feel emotionally better, rather than eating because they are hungry.

When this happens, the foods that are eaten are often high in salt, sugar and other unhealthy ingredients that only end up making the stress feel so much worse.

In order to keep your mind feeling relaxed, try opting for one of these calming snacks instead:

  • Walnuts – helps to regulate cortisol in the body, which is the stress hormone, as well as adrenaline
  • Asparagus contains enough folic acid to quickly boost the mood
  • Oranges, Berries and Other Vitamin C-Rich Fruits studies have shown that vitamin C can lower cortisol levels, while also lowering blood pressure
  • Chamomile Tea calms nerves and reduces symptoms of anxiety
  • Dark Chocolate maintains calmness in the body while lowering blood pressure
  • Oatmeal stimulates the brain to produce serotonin, which is a chemical that immediately lifts the mood
  1. Give Meditation a Try

If you have been looking into different ways to relax your mind for a while now, then you will likely have already stumbled upon the recommendation of meditation

So, have you given it a try yet?

Meditation is something that so many people do not fully believe in, dismissing it as something that would never work. However, science has now backed up some of the many calming benefits that meditation can bring.

To begin with, studies have found that meditation can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression in the same way that antidepressants can, and to the same extent as well. It can also trigger changes in the way in which the brain thinks about the self, which can really make such a difference to anxiety.

If you are not feeling anxious, but simply have trouble controlling your distracted mind, then meditation can help with this too. Research has shown that meditation can decrease the activity in the part of the brain that is responsible for your wandering mind, keeping you focused on the task at hand.

  1. Write it Down

When your mind is racing with what seems like a million thoughts, writing it all down can really help.

How?

Firstly, the act of writing in itself is enough to engage the mind enough to slow it down a bit, while putting your thoughts down on paper helps to organize them, preventing everything from seeming so chaotic.

woman writing in a notebook

Want to give this a try?

Use a notebook if you prefer writing by hand, or create a special document on your computer if you prefer to type. Then, spend 15 minutes or so jotting down everything that happens to be in your mind.

This does not need to be in any particular order, so long as you are able to get all of your thoughts down.

Once you are done, put this aside for now. You can then return to it a bit later and really give everything your attention, once things are not so frenzied.

You will likely find that writing it all down makes you feel so much more in control of things, and helps to ease some of the stress taking place in your mind.

  1. Get Moving

It has been proven countless times now that exercise is an extremely effective way to improve well-being, especially when done on a regular basis. 

Wondering how it does this?

Firstly, exercise triggers changes in the brain’s neurotransmitters, the ones that are responsible for your mood. What makes this even better is that these changes are quite long-lasting, meaning that they will still be in effect hours after you are done exercising.

For those who are feeling a bit down about things, a 2006 study found that exercise can actually have similar effects to antidepressants in the way that it promotes the growth of new neurons in the brain, therefore alleviating depression and anxiety.

To make it even better, exercise that features repetitive motions, such as running, is actually classed as a meditative activity, and, for those who have a tough time calming their mind enough to fall asleep at night, exercise can help with this too, making it much easier to sleep each night.

  1. Spend Some Time in Nature

Another easy way to quickly calm your mind is to simply step outside and head somewhere where there is plenty of natural beauty.

This is something that has been proven quite a few times, and there is a very interesting reason behind it…

Plants and trees release special chemicals that help to slow down the rate at which they decay, and these same chemicals can help to slow your mind down as well.

Studies have found that just a short walk in the woods, or anywhere else where there is plenty of nature, can significantly lower cortisol levels in the body, helping you to feel less anxious, while also boosting your memory at the same time. 

  1. Play a Game

Playing certain types of games, such as puzzles, can really help some people to relax their mind and lower stress levels.

How?

Well, due to the hectic nature of modern day life, many people end up feeling bored when they try to relax, as they have become accustomed to always having a certain level of stimuli in their life. Puzzle-type games can help with this, as they do still provide a mental challenge, but not too much, meaning that they are able to still pull people into a state of mindfulness.

Puzzle games also trigger the brain to produce more dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter that helps to improve the mood and balance out brain chemistry, keeping you in a state of relaxation.

Wondering which games you should be playing?

Give one of these a try:

    • Sudoku
    • Crossword puzzles
    • Wordsearches
    • Brain-teasers and riddles
    • Electronic puzzle games, such as Bejeweled
    • Jigsaw puzzles

woman playing sudoku

  1. Make Sure You Are Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is essential for your well-being, and this not only refers to the number of hours that you sleep for, but also the quality of sleep that you generally have.

Wondering how much sleep you need each night?

Eight hours is what the average person needs, but many people do not end up getting this amount, often due to an over-active and stressed out mind.

If you can relate to this, then there are a few steps that you can take to help your mind and body to unwind before bed, so that you fall asleep quickly and easily:

    • Spend an hour before bed relaxing your mind, keeping away from your TV, computer, phone, or any other electronic devices
    • Develop a pre-bedtime routine that promotes relaxation. This can include a warm bath, a good book and some calming music
    • Drink a cup of chamomile tea before bed, as this helps to induce sleep
    • Make sure that you are wearing comfortable clothes
    • Try a breathing exercise while lying in bed
    • Develop a regular sleep schedule that you stick to on weekends as well as weekdays
  1. Stop Multi-Tasking

While it may often feel as though you are getting more things done by multi-tasking, this may sometimes not be the case. By having so many different distractions, your mind will end up scattered, and you will actually not be very productive in the end.

One key to keeping your mind relaxed, calm and focussed is to only concentrate on a single task at a time.

Do you find it difficult to do this?

Try making a list at the beginning of each day, writing down all of the tasks that you need to accomplish that day. Then, prioritize the tasks, and tackle them one by one, starting with the most important and working your way down.

In addition to only working on one task at a time, you should also try to stop multi-tasking in other ways. For example, you are likely to be regularly checking your phone, or your emails, while you are doing something else. Try to put a stop to this, so that you really are completely present in the task that you are currently doing.

  1. De-Clutter Your Environment

While having some clutter in your home or at work may not seem like that big of a deal, research has shown that clutter can actually have quite the impact on the way in which your brain processes information.

In the same way that multi-tasking can impair your ability to properly concentrate, having too much clutter will end up overloading your senses, leaving you feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and drained of mental energy.

The brain actually finds organization much easier to deal with, meaning that when you enter a de-cluttered space, your brain will not have to work so hard, which will have you feeling far calmer. 

You’re probably thinking…

“That all sounds great, but how do I actually get started with de-cluttering?”

Begin with a small part of your home, even if this is just a single drawer in your dresser.

Take all of your belongings out and then sort them into the following piles:

  • Keep – these are the items that you often use
  • Sell items that you do not use, but could be worth some money
  • Give Away items that you can donate to charity
  • Trash or Recycle items that would be of no use to anyone

Once you have organized a small part of your home, move on to the next, allocating yourself an area of your home to de-clutter each evening, or even each week.

woman decluttering her environment

Before you know it, your home will be de-cluttered. You can then take this principle and apply it to other areas of your life that need de-cluttering, such as your office or your car.

  1. Ensure That You Are Having Enough Social Contact

Social contact is such an important part of keeping the mind and spirit relaxed and happy, but, as a person becomes older and more stressed, this is an area of life that often ends up being neglected.

Having friends that you can talk to can really help to keep you calm, in a number of ways:

    • Talking to a friend about a problem can lower cortisol levels in the body
    • Having close friends tends to make people healthier in terms of diet and exercise, both of which will help keep your mind calm
    • Laughing on a regular basis can reduce stress and improve your mood

If you know that you have been neglecting the social side of your life a bit lately, then this is something that needs to change. Try setting aside a chunk of time each week that you dedicate to spending with friends, even if this may just be a quick drink after work.

Woman massaging her temples due to a headache

Having Killer Headaches? Try These Cures

Headaches are the second most common form of chronic pain, and, when your head is truly pounding, it can be hard to concentrate on other parts of life, whether this may be work, driving, or even having a simple conversation.

Rather than reaching for the drugs, give one of these tips a try the next time you are having a killer headache.

Sip on Ginger Tea

Ginger has long since been used to treat a variety of ailments, by cultures all around the world. Now, thanks to a number of clinical studies that have been carried out with this ingredient, scientists are backing it too.

So, what exactly does ginger do?

It targets the blood vessels in the head, reducing inflammation and therefore reducing pain. This is especially useful for those who suffer from migraines, as migraines are caused by excessive dilation of blood vessels in the head.

The quickest and easiest way to make use of ginger is by steeping the root in some water to make a tea, adding in some fresh lemon juice if you would like an extra tang.

ginger tea

To use ginger topically, mix together a paste with some ginger powder and a couple of tablespoons of water, and apply this directly to your forehead for a few minutes.

Stretch It Out

Headaches are often caused by muscle tension, and this can sometimes be relieved through stretching.

There are a few stretches in particular that will help to target the muscles that often contribute to headaches:

  • Stretch your neck by moving your chin forwards, upwards and then towards each shoulder, before repeating
  • Shrug your shoulders upwards, and then forwards and backwards, before repeating
  • Press your palm into your forehead and hold it there for a few seconds, before pressing a hand onto each side of your head
  • Rotate your neck in clockwise and anticlockwise directions

Try to do these stretches twice a day, repeating each stretch three to five times, with a five second break in between each one.

Give Acupuncture a Try

Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of different health issues, with thin needles being inserted underneath the skin, to rebalance the body’s flow of energy.

Sound painful?

It really isn’t. All you will feel is a slight tingling feeling when each needle is inserted.

However, there are only certain headaches that acupuncture can treat…

There are two main types of headaches out there; primary and secondary. Primary headaches include tension headaches and migraines, while secondary headaches are brought on by another health condition, such as a head injury or allergies.

Acupuncture is mainly used to treat primary headaches, whether this may be a frustrating headache that seems to return each day, or a migraine that seems to never completely disappear.

acupuncture

Each session lasts for around 30 minutes to an hour, and the cumulative effects of a few sessions can be a long-lasting way to prevent any future headaches.

Drink Up

Headaches are a common symptom of dehydration, and these can often be quickly cleared simply by drinking a few glasses of water.

This method can work for a variety of different headache types, from tension to cluster. Even if you do not feel dehydrated, drinking a few glasses of water is an easy method that is still definitely worth a try.

Beverages containing electrolytes are also a great way to boost hydration, and could help if plain water does not seem to be working quickly enough.

Take a Screen Break

If you have been spending a significant amount of time staring at a screen, whether this may be your computer at work, your TV at home, or your smartphone, this could be the reason behind your tension headache.

Try taking a break from your screen for a while, and seeing if that eases the pain.

Whether or not your screen is causing your headaches, you should really be taking regular screen breaks anyway, even if this is just for a few minutes at a time to have a drink of water or stretch your legs.

Use a Compress

Another easy method to soothe a headache away is to use a compress, holding this against the back of your neck.

hot compress

Wondering whether to go hot or cold?

If your headache is more of a dull pain, go with a hot compress, whereas if it is pulsating or throbbing, use a cold compress. This will help to lower the temperature of your blood before it enters your brain, reducing any inflammation.

Sniff A Soothing Scent

There are certain herbs out there that have scents capable of clearing even the roughest of headaches.

Here are a few to try:

  • Peppermint Oil – opens up clogged blood vessels in the head and regulates blood flow. Either mix some with water and rub this on the back of your neck, as well as your temples, or simply rub some crushed peppermint leaves on your forehead. You could also make a herbal tea with peppermint leaves, either fresh or dried, and sip this slowly, while inhaling the scent.
  • Lavender Oil this is another herb that is known for alleviating headaches, and can simply be inhaled straight to enjoy its benefits. Alternatively, mix a couple of drops in with some almond or olive oil and massage your head with this, or put a few drops into some hot water, and inhale the steam.
  • Rosemary or Thyme Oil rosemary and thyme oil have been used for centuries to treat headaches. For best results, dab a drop of the oil onto each temple, as well as onto your forehead, and massage this gently into your skin.
  • Basil Oil works as a muscle relaxant, so will clear headaches caused by muscle tension. Make a tea with fresh basil leaves, or simply chew on the leaves themselves. You can also place some fresh leaves into hot water, and inhale the steam.
  • Cloves contains cooling and pain-relieving properties, making them great for throbbing headaches. Crush a few cloves and wrap them in a clean cloth, before inhaling the scent repeatedly. Alternatively, mix some clove oil with coconut oil, as well as a bit of sea salt, and use this to gently massage your forehead and temples.

Try Yoga for Tension Headaches

If you know that your headaches are caused by tension, then yoga is something that you may want to try.

Why?

Yoga relaxes the muscles in your head, neck and back, while boosting circulation to your upper body and brain, all of which can quickly relieve a tension headache.

As soon as you notice the first sign that a headache is on its way, you should give a few of these yoga poses a go, as this will prevent your muscles from going into spasm:

  • The Simple Seated Twist
  • Gomukhasana Arms
  • The Side Stretch
  • Grabbing Opposite Elbows

Take a Magnesium Supplement

Magnesium used to be abundant in the plants and animals eaten by humans, but, due to a depletion in soil quality, natural sources of magnesium are hard to come by.

Why does this matter when you have a raging headache?

Because one of the most common symptoms of a magnesium deficiency is a headache, especially migraines.

Not only do people who experience migraines have lower levels of magnesium in their body than people who do not, but one study found that a regular intake of magnesium could actually lower the frequency of developing a migraine by 41.6%.

Wondering which is the best form of magnesium to take as a supplement?

Go for magnesium oxide, of which you will need between 400-500 milligrams each day. Even if your migraine has already started, taking a magnesium supplement immediately can help to soothe it.

Need some help right now, but don’t have any magnesium supplements to hand?

Try snacking on one of these:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Blue poppy seeds
  • Cashew nuts
  • Almonds
  • Dark chocolate

sources of magnesium

See if these sources of magnesium help with your migraines; if they do, you can count on having them regularly.

Eat Some Headache-Busting Foods

There are certain foods out there that contain compounds capable of quickly soothing a headache.

Feel the pain beginning to come in?

Head on down to your nearest grocery store and stock up on these ingredients:

  • Cherries – contain a compound called quercetin, which is not only a strong antioxidant, but also has anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties. Quercetin helps the body to block out pain, reducing the severity of a headache. Eat around 20 tart cherries to experience the effects, or a glass of cherry juice.
  • Spicy Foods whether you go siracha or hot peppers, spicy foods will clear your sinuses, and therefore open up your airways. This alleviates any pressure and soothes the pain of a sinus headache.
  • Bananas bananas are packed with B vitamins, which increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, meaning that they work in a similar way to an anti-depressant. This then lowers the amount of pain that your body feels, reducing the severity of a headache.

While you are dealing with a headache, it is also important to avoid headache-triggering foods. From cheese to processed meats to artificial sweeteners, try to stick to a wholesome diet when healing your body.

Walk It Off

While you may not feel like exerting yourself too much when suffering from a killer headache, exercise is actually a great way to relieve yourself of the pain.

How?

Exercise triggers the body to release endorphins, which are basically the body’s natural painkillers. If you begin to exercise regularly, you will notice a reduction in the frequency and intensity of your headaches, as well as your migraines.

So, the next time you feel a headache coming on, step outdoors and take a brisk walk, preferably somewhere quiet. Even if this is only for ten minutes, this is still enough time to stimulate your brain to release the endorphins that will soothe your head.

Relaxation Exercises

While additional research in this area is still needed, current studies show that relaxation exercises could really help reduce the intensity of a headache.

What exactly are relaxation exercises?

They could be anything from listening to calming music, using mental imagery to unwind, or doing some deep breathing.

Try this the next time you have a headache:

  • Lie still, breathing in and out slowly
  • Think of a mantra and repeat this in your head, to stop your mind from wandering
  • Beginning with your toes, contract and relax your muscles one at a time, working your way up your legs through your body, until you reach your head.
  • Take your time with this, so that it takes around 20 minutes

Change Your Pillow

If you tend to wake up with a headache in the morning, this could be down to your pillow.

Pillows are designed to keep the head in line with the neck and spine while a person is sleeping, but if you end up with your head being misaligned, this can lead to headaches.

Pay attention to your pillow density, as those that are too soft do not provide enough support, while those that are too hard can lead to other problems.

How often should you be changing your pillow.

Every few months, or when they start to lose their original form. 

When suffering from killer headaches, it can be easy to just reach for the pills to numb the pain, but this is not something that you want to be relying on in the long run. By giving some of these methods a try, you may just find an easy, and completely natural, way to soothe a raging headache.

 

Woman doing crunches on blue exercise mat

20 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Try at Home

Unlike many other workout types, bodyweight exercises do not actually require any special equipment, and can easily be carried out at home. By using nothing else but the weight of your body and the power of gravity, these 20 bodyweight exercises will help you to build muscle and burn fat, while giving yourself such a satisfying workout.

1. Squats

squats

Squats are not only one of the most effective of bodyweight exercises, but are also the most natural, as this is the same way in which a baby would sit down.

While this may seem like a simple exercise, a squat works out all of the muscles in the lower body, and gives your core a boost as well, since you will be using your abdominal muscles to keep yourself upright.

However, make sure that your technique is correct when doing this exercise, otherwise you may cause more damage than good…

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and then bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Use your heels to help you to stand back up straight again, squeezing your buttocks in and keeping your core tight while you do so.

 

2. Burpees

While burpees are quite intense, many would argue that this is the single most effective exercise in the world, as it works out almost every muscle group, combining cardio and strength into one exercise. 

To do a burpee, these are the four steps that you must follow:

  • Stand with your feet together, and then drop into a deep squat position with your hands on the floor
  • Kick your feet backwards so that your body is in a plank position
  • Jump your feet back into a low squat position
  • Jump back up, with your arms reaching overhead

If you want to make this exercise a little easier to begin with, take out the last jump, and simply stand up at the end instead.

Or, if you want to make this exercise a little harder, add in a tuck jump just before the squat.

 

3. Push-Ups

push ups

Push-ups are great as they work out just about every muscle group in the upper body, from your back to your arms to your abs.

They are also easy to do, but you need to ensure that your position is correct…

Your shoulders should be lined up with your wrists, while your elbows should be tucked in towards your side. You should also be trying to get your hips and chest as close to the floor as possible while doing this exercise, without actually touching the floor.

 

4. Calf-Raise

The calf-raise is an extremely simple exercise, but can be adapted to suit your needs.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Stand up straight and slowly rise up on your toes, until your heels are off the floor, but make sure that you keep your knees straight
  • Hold the position briefly before coming back down and repeating

Wondering how to make this exercise a bit more challenging?

Try standing on a step while doing it, or bounce up and down quickly so that you get more reps in.

 

5. Step-Up

This is an exercise that requires a raised surface, such as a step, low chair or bench.

All you need to do is place one foot onto this surface and then step up on it, until your front leg is straight.

Hold this briefly before returning to your starting position, making sure that you step down rather than jump down.

 

6. Plank

plank

When it comes to defining the core, the plank has become one of the most popular exercises.

Here are the steps to follow to correctly carry out a plank:

  • Lie face down with your forearms touching the floor and your hands clasped
  • Extend your legs behind you and rise up on your toes
  • Tighten your core, and hold this position for as long as you can, making sure that your back is kept straight

 

7. Feet-Elevated Plank

Once you have mastered the standard plank, you can then move on to trying some of the many plank variations that are out there.

The feet-elevated plank is one of these, and is basically the same as a standard plank, but is carried out on a raised surface to make it more challenging.

Try it on something like a chair or low table first, as you do not want the surface to be too high.

 

8. Side Plank

side plank

Another plank variation, the side plank requires you to lie on your side, with just one foot, and one forearm, touching the floor.

Once you have done this, raise your body up slowly, making sure to keep it in a straight line.

Hold this for as long as you can before gently lowering yourself back down. Make sure that you do this exercise using both sides of your body.

 

9. Handstand Push-Up

Handstand push-ups will give your body a great workout, and are especially effective at building up the shoulders.

Haven’t yet mastered the handstand?

Use a wall to help you, placing your feet against this.

Once you can do this for 60 seconds, you can then begin incorporating push-ups into this.

 

10. Donkey Kicks

donkey kick

The donkey kick, also known as the back kick, works out a number of different muscle groups:

  • The core
  • All three muscles in the buttocks
  • The lower back
  • The legs

Here is what you need to do:

    • Begin on the floor on all fours
    • Bring your right knee in towards your chest, keeping your foot flexed
    • Kick your right leg up behind you, and then bring it back down, keeping your knee bent while doing so
    • Repeat this with the other leg

 

11. Crab Walk

The crab walk targets your triceps, glutes and your core, while also improving your coordination. While it may take a few days to master this move, it will not be long before you are speeding across the floor…crab-style, of course!

All you need to do is sit on the ground in a comfortable position, with your palms behind your hips. Then, pull your body up off the ground, so that your weight is resting on your hands and feet.

Use your left foot, and your right hand, to move yourself one step forward or backward, before repeating with the other hand and foot.

TOP TIP: Make sure that you keep your abdominal muscles engaged, and your hips lifted off the floor for the entire duration of the exercise.

 

12. Bicycle Crunches

bicycle crunches

Unlike regular crunches, bicycle crunches require deeper abdominal rotation and stabilization, which gives your core an intense workout.

They are also easy to do, with only a few steps to follow:

  • Lie on the ground with your knees bent and hands behind your head
  • Lift your legs off the ground and slowly make a pedalling motion, just like riding a bicycle
  • Keep your hands behind your head, and, as each leg comes towards you, bring the opposing elbow over to meet it

 

13. Dragon Flag

Looking for a serious challenge?

Then the dragon flag is the exercise for you.

If you have not heard of this one before, here is what you need to do:

  • Lie on your back and hold on to something behind your head
  • Keeping your upper back on the floor, raise the rest of your body off of the floor
  • Brace every muscle that you can in order to keep your body in a straight line

 

14. Side Lunges

side lunge

When it comes to the majority of bodyweight exercises out there, these tend to move your body in one of two ways; up and down, or forward and back.

This is exactly why the side lunge is such a good exercise to incorporate into your workout, as it gets your body moving in a different way. This means that it will challenge your muscle fibers, ligaments, and tendons in a way that the rest of your workout does not.

To do this exercise, begin by standing with your feet apart, and then take a large step out towards your right. Bend your knee and push your buttocks back, while keeping your core tight and your chest lifted.

Return back to your starting position and then repeat on the other side.

Want to give your core even more of a challenge?

Try adding in a side leg lift with each lunge.

 

15. Sit-Up

Sit-ups are quite a popular exercise, and this is because they are also one of the most challenging of bodyweight exercises.

Why?

Since you are not able to use your arms or legs to help you to sit up, you end up using a far greater amount of abdominal strength.

Simply lie on the ground with your knees bent, and then contract your abs to lift your body up off the ground. Make sure that you limit the amount of movement that your lower back does.

Finding standard sit-ups too challenging?

Try doing a crunch variation instead, until you build up some abdominal strength.

 

16. Twisting Sit-Up

twisting sit up

If you are bored of regular sit-ups, try giving the twisting sit-up a try instead, which is an advanced form of the standard version.

For those of you who are already familiar with sit-ups, this exercise will be easy to do. The only difference with this one is that at the top of each movement, you need to bring the opposite elbow towards your knee.

Make sure that you do not over-rotate your body, as this can cause quite a bit of damage over time.

 

17. Jumping Jacks

When it comes to the different types of exercise out there, jumping often gets a bad reputation. However, there is nothing quite like it when it comes to increasing bone density, so, if this is one of your aims, you may want to give this exercise a try. 

Here are a few of the other benefits that jumping jacks can bring:

  • One of the best plyometric exercises there is
  • Provides a great cardio workout
  • Will improve your speed and quickness

Ready to give it a go?

Simply jump up, spreading your legs to the side while lifting your arms at the same time. Once you land, jump back up and do it again.

Jumping jacks are also a great one to warm up with, so consider adding this to the start of your workout.

 

18. Squat Jacks

jumping jack before squat

Squat jacks take jumping jacks to the next level, by throwing a squat in there too.

Here are the steps to follow:

    • Stand with your feet together and your hands at your chest
    • Jump so that your feet go outwards, but sit into a small squat at the same time
    • Jump your feet back together to bring yourself back into your standing position
    • Repeat

 

19. Tuck Jumps

Everyone has their own individual goals when it comes to working out, and if yours include improving your agility and power, while working on jumping higher, then tuck jumps are the way to go.

This is a powerful, yet fun, exercise that has been proven to strengthen just about every single part of the body, and is especially beneficial when it comes to heart health.

To begin with…

Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent, and then jump as high as possible.

Now for the tricky part…

While you are in the air, bring your knees in towards your chest, while extending the arms straight out, almost as though you are tucking your knees in.

Bend your knees slightly as you land, and then repeat the exercise.

 

20. Wall Sit

wall sit

The wall sit works out a number of different muscle groups, including your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and your core. 

To do this exercise, follow these steps:

  • Slide your back down a wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground, and your knees are directly over your ankles
  • Keep your back straight, and hold this position for 60 seconds, before returning to standing position.
  • Try to repeat this five times, although you may need to build up to this gradually.

If you want to give yourself an extra challenge, try adding in some bicep curls while you are “sitting”.

 

When it comes to working out, it is important to make sure that you do not push yourself too hard to begin with, as this may only end up deterring you. Instead, set yourself some realistic goals, and take the steps necessary to ensure that you stick to them. 

Woman eating healthy salad

Habits That Help You Maintain Healthy Vision

By now most of us know: pretty = healthy. If you want pretty skin, you need to make sure we have a fully stocked beauty arsenal. If you want a rock solid body, you better make sure you’re hitting the gym and not the vending machine. If you want shampoo commercial hair, you need to make sure the hot oil treatment is on hand. The same goes for our eyes. If you want to keep those peepers clear and gorgeous, you need to keep them healthy; the only question is, how do you know whether your giving them the care they need? It might surprise you to know that there may be a few things you’re doing that are actually hurting those pretty eyes, and here are some of them. Read on to learn what not to do if you want to keep your eyes healthy for a good long time.

Sleeping in Contacts

If you heard about the woman whose eye examination revealed 27 contact lenses in her eyes, you probably know that sleeping in contacts is not such a great idea. While there are two types of contacts that the FDA has approved for overnight wear, New York optometrist, Deeba Chaudri warns that even these can be risky.  According to a study by the American Academy of Ophthamology, the risk of developing a corneal ulcer is multiplied by 10 or 15 times in extended wear contact lens users, compared to those who wear contacts only during the day.

Don’t Rub Your Eyes

Your mama always told you not to do it. The professionals concur. Says Chaudri, “Sometimes your eyes itch and you have to rub, but it’s best to keep the lid closed and only touch the outside of the eye.” Rubbing your eyes too hard can lead to inflammation and broken blood vessels, not to mention, eyes are a breeding ground of bacteria, so, “If you shake someone’s hand and then you rub your eyes, you’re transmitting those germs and there’s a good chance you can catch whatever cold he’s got.”

Get Annual Eye Exams

Even if your vision is 20/20, you should still see an eye doctor once a year. Chaudri says, “It’s about getting your overall eye health checked out: There are no pain receptors behind the eye, so if you have a broken blood vessel or a tumor back there, you would otherwise not know it until it starts to interfere with your vision, or worse.”

Staring At Devices

Looking at phones and computers is a tough habit to break, but focusing on anything for too long a time can cause eye strain and headaches. Chaudri advises following the 20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes looking at the screen, take a 20 second break, look into the distance, focus your eyes on something else, and make a conscientious effort to blink, you may have been staring for a long time without realizing it.

Applying Eyeliner to the Waterline

Even though the look may pop up in a few fashion magazines, applying liner to the inside of the lower lashes can come with a risk. According to Chaudri, “When you put liner inside your eye, you’re mixing it with your tears.” If you have contacts in, your lenses can get coated with makeup particles that prevent your eyes from getting ample amounts of oxygen. If you’re not wearing contacts, those makeup particles can bring infection causing germs into your eyes. Liquid liners are the worst offenders because the applicator tube can harbor bacteria. Soft pencils are safer because they are continually being worn down to expose a new tip.

What are you doing to keep your eyes healthy and beautiful? Let us know what healthy eye tips you swear by.

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