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 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.

Healthy salad on wooden table

Tips For Changing Your Diet

It’s time to face facts. You’ve outgrown your diet- in more ways than one. Your waistline has matured and its time for your tastes to do the same. It’s come down to saying goodbye to your Oreos or your skinny jeans, and nothing comes between you and your Calvins. You need to revamp your diet or restock your closet, and you’ve made your choice. The only thing is, you’ve gotten so comfortable eating junk food, you don’t know where to start. Hold on to your cutoffs; here are some tips for changing your diet.

It’s Hard
We’ve all heard the expression, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but that doesn’t mean there are no exceptions. John Foreyt, PhD, says, “Many people are skeptical about changing their diets because they have grown accustomed to eating or drinking the same foods, and there is fear of the unknown or trying something new.”

He also notes the tendency to lapse into old habits during times of stress. “Everything can be going along just fine until you hit a rough patch.” To combat these feelings, Foreyt advises that you acknowledge the habits you want to fix, figure out why you have these habits, and make a plan to slowly change your bad habits into healthy ones.

Steps to Fixing Bad Eating Habits

Go slowly
Make changes slowly. Experts recommend starting each day with a good breakfast and getting 8 hours of sleep a night to avoid stress eating.

Work on structuring your meal habits. Eat seated at a table without distractions and try to eat more frequently with family. Try to learn to eat only when you are hungry and stop when you are full.

Make dietary changes. Aim to reduce portion sizes by 20% and no second helpings. Use whole grain bread for sandwiches and swap mayo for mustard. Flavor coffee with skim milk instead of cream and eat a healthy meal or snack every few hours.

Mother and daughter making salad

Change your cooking methods. Use cooking spray and nonstick pans instead of oil to reduce fat and experiment with more nutritional ways of cooking, like roasting, baking, grilling, or poaching.

Drink more water and cut down on sugary sodas and juices. Limit alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks per day. Try to eat large portions of foods with high water content, like salads and veggies, instead of calorie dense foods, and flavor foods with herbs, vinegar, lemon, or mustard instead of fattening sauces.

Pay Attention
Become more aware of what you’re eating. Keri Gans, MS, RD, advises, “Read food labels. Become familiar with lists of ingredients and start to take notice of everything you put into your mouth.” Once you begin to assess your diet, you will probably realize the need for improvement.

New Week New Goal
Maybe one week your goal will be to try a new vegetable, or a new exercise. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much at one time. Take it slow and figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Be a Realist
Don’t expect to see results right away and keep in mind that it usually takes about a month to adapt to new habits.

Diet planning

Have a Plan
Be specific. “To say ‘I am going to work our more,’ won’t help you,” says Gans, “what will help is thinking about when and how you can fit it into your lifestyle.” Plan certain days on which you will go to the gym and stock up on healthy food.

Manage Stress
Change can be stressful. To handle it, Foreyt advises, “Focus on dealing with stress through exercise, meditation, or whatever works for you, so you don’t fall back into those bad habits during periods of stress or use food to help you cope with the situation.”

Are you working on changing your eating habits? Let us know how its going and add your comments and suggestions!

Woman multitasking

Why You Should Kick The Multitasking Habit

Although your version may be more along the lines of texting while cooking dinner, multitasking is becoming more and more common in today’s fast-paced world, and most of it have probably done it at one point or another. However, although it may seem logical that we get more done when we multitask, multitasking can be counter productive.

1. The Brain Can’t Multitask
Our brains have a limited capacity. Adding tasks doesn’t make this capacity larger, it only increases the load of inputs and the amount of mental effort needed to handle them. Therefore, the more tasks we try to do, the less attention we are able to give to each task.

According to a 2013 survey, a cognitive overload lessens the quality of performance, especially in cases in which accurate judgment is required. Yet another study found that by increasing the number of things the brain needs to pay attention to, you cause it to bottleneck, blocking the ability to make decisions and awareness of information.

2. Why We Multitask
We usually multitask because it gives us the illusion that we are being more productive. However, while multitasking may bring us short-term gratification, it takes away from long term efficiency.
Making decisions about what we need to do and what is most important takes effort and it may not seem like much of an immediate accomplishment. In fact, hesitation may create the perception of laziness. It may also be risky, as it involves betting giving priority to some things while ignoring others. Often, doing a little of everything seems safer.

3. Quality Over Quantity
Multitasking often prevents us from evaluating the things we do individually. We do things quickly without assessing their importance. This leads to a tendency to react to all problems similarly instead of thinking them out and solving them. It’s easy to mistake getting things done for problem-solving. Accomplishing tasks doesn’t always bring us toward our larger goals. In fact, we may even use our busyness to avoid tackling more difficult and important issues. We need to choose what will bring us closest to getting us where we ultimately want to be in life. People do their best work when they give each thing the maximum amount of attention.

If you are a multitasker, put down the cell phone, turn off the computer and tv, put down the baby and take some time to let us know how your feel. We love to hear from you.