How to get in touch with your soul and become a happier person.

We can all agree that life on Earth is becoming more and more stressful as the years go by. In order not to go completely crazy, many people turn to their inner selves, seeking meditation and tranquillity so they could easily survive the hectic lives we lead in this century.

Here is the list of the best ways to get in touch with your inner being, and thus help yourself get rid of the stress the environment imposes on you every day:

Do the things you love and love the things you do

What’s a better way to reconnect with your soul than actually doing things that you love and enjoy? If you’re a bookworm, use your day to go somewhere quiet, take your favorite book with you and indulge in all the adventures with the characters. If, on the other hand, you love drawing, feel free to draw as much as you want. It is very important that we let ourselves do the things we love from time to time and completely forget about our responsibilities. Leave your phone behind, forget the world and make yourself happy.

Connect with nature

You know the cliché sentence ‘’your body’s a temple’’, right? Well, it’s true. And not only that – your soul is a forest that needs constant nurturing. It’s well-known how relaxing and healthy being in nature is, but apart from that, the greenness and fresh air can definitely put your life into perspective and open your mind, especially if you are anxious, nervous or blue. A great exercise that you could do in nature is just observing the beauty, listening to all the sounds, and smelling all the scents. It sharpens your senses, it quiets your mind. And it’s perfect.

Try yoga and meditation

Quite similar to the previous tip, yoga and meditation really help in calming yourself down. Yoga is not only good for de-stressing your body, but also for taking a break from the world around you in a calm and soothing way. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and breathe. If you have scented candles, light them. Isolate yourself from the negative influences and people for at least an hour a day.

Dance

It’s impossible that Despacito didn’t make you dance at least once. You probably have a list of songs in mind that you just can’t be sitting down while listening to. That’s because music has a calming effect on our brain, and dancing to it relaxes your mind. If you are into hip-hop and street style dancing, it could be quite challenging and interesting to learn a few moves. And you should definitely do it; there are many beginner dance classes for adults out there, and who knows, maybe you’re the next Chris Brown!

Inhale love, exhale hate

This quite pacifistic approach to life can also do wonders. Don’t be a Carrie Bradshaw trying to find negativity everywhere (for God’s sake, she was unhappy even on her wedding day!) If you think about our time on Earth and how limited it is, you will see that life is too short for us to have negative feelings towards anything. Try to surround yourself with the people and things you love and leave everything else behind, without words or feelings of hate. Tell someone you love them at least once a day and always be thankful for the things you have.

Write down your thoughts

According to researchers from the University of Rochester, keeping a journal is a great way to keep track of the feelings you have, and a healthy way to dispose of negativity and reduce stress. Putting all your emotions on paper is a good way to get rid of them, and thus go to bed with a clean slate and clear mind. On the other hand, reading old positive motivational quotes can also alleviate your spirit. If you read an entry that was made while you were extremely happy, those feelings might come back even years later.

Yes, your body is a temple and your mind and soul are the forest surrounding that temple. Keep them clean and nurtured, don’t infest them with negativity and you will see how happier a person you will be.

There are some really good scientific reasons why should you spending time in nature.

With spring and beautiful weather finally here, we highly recommend spending some time outside.

Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to your mental and physical well-being. Here are just a few potential benefits:

1. Improved short-term memory

In one study, University of Michigan students were given a brief memory test, then divided into two groups.

One group took a walk around an arboretum, and the other half took a walk down a city street. When the participants returned and did the test again, those who had walked among trees did almost 20% percent better than the first time. The ones who had taken in city sights instead did not consistently improve.

Another similar study on depressed individuals also found that walks in nature boosted working memory much more than walks in urban environments.

Sources: Psychological Science, 2008; Journal of Affective Disorders, 2013

2. Restored mental energy

You know that feeling where your brain seems to be sputtering to a halt? Researchers call that “mental fatigue.”

One thing that can help get your mind back into gear is exposing it to restorative environments, which, research has found, generally means the great outdoors. One study found that people’s mental energy bounced back even when they just looked at pictures of nature. (Pictures of city scenes had no such effect.)

Studies have also found that natural beauty can elicit feelings of awe, which is one of the surest ways to experience a mental boost.

Sources: Journal of Environmental Psychology, 1995; Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2005; Psychological Science, 2012

3. Stress relief

Tensed and stressed? Head for the trees. One study found that students sent into the forest for two nights had lower levels of cortisol — a hormone often used as a marker for stress — than those who spent that time in the city.

In another study, researchers found a decrease in both heart rate and levels of cortisol in subjects in the forest when compared to those in the city. “Stressful states can be relieved by forest therapy,” they concluded.

Among office workers, even the view of nature out a window is associated with lower stress and higher job satisfaction.

Sources: Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 2007; Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine, 2010; Japanese Journal of Hygiene, 2011; Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, 2012

4. Reduced inflammation

Inflammation is a natural process the body uses to respond to threats like damage (e.g., a stubbed toe) and pathogens (e.g., exposure to the flu).

But when inflammation goes into overdrive, it’s associated in varying degrees with a wide range of ills including autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, and cancer. Spending time in nature may be one way to help keep it in check.

In one study, students who spent time in the forest had lower levels of inflammation than those who spent time in the city. In another, elderly patients who had been sent on a weeklong trip into the forest showed reduced signs of inflammation as well as some indications that the woodsy jaunt had a positive effect on their hypertension.

Sources: Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, 2012; Journal of Cardiology, 2012

5. Better vision

At least in children, a fairly large body of research has found that outdoor activity may have a protective effect on the eyes, reducing the risk of developing nearsightedness (myopia).

“Increasing time spent outdoors may be a simple strategy by which to reduce the risk of developing myopia and its progression in children and adolescents,” a 2012 review of the research concluded.

An Australian study that followed almost 2,000 schoolchildren for two years found that more time spent outdoors was associated with a lower prevalence of myopia among 12-year-olds. The same association was not found for those who spent a lot of time playing sports indoors, suggesting the connection was about more than physical activity.

In Taiwan, researchers studied two nearby schools where myopia was equally common. They told one school to encourage outdoor activity during recess and monitored the other as a control. After one year, the rate of myopia in the control school was 17.65%; in the “play outside” school, it was just 8.41%.

Sources: Ophthalmology, 2008; Ophthalmology, 2012; Ophthalmology, 2013

6. Improved concentration

We know the natural environment is “restorative,” and one thing that a walk outside can restore is your waning attention.

In one early study, researchers worked to deplete participants’ ability to focus. Then some took a walk in nature, some took a walk through the city, and the rest just relaxed. When they returned, the nature group scored the best on a proofreading task.

Other studies have found similar results — even seeing a natural scene through a window can help.

The attentional effect of nature is so strong it might help kids with ADHD, who have been found to concentrate better after just 20 minutes in a park. “‘Doses of nature’ might serve as a safe, inexpensive, widely accessible new tool … for managing ADHD symptoms,” researchers wrote.

Sources: Environment & Behavior, 1991; Journal of Environmental Psychology, 1995 (2); Journal of Attention Disorders, 2008

7. Sharper thinking and creativity

“Imagine a therapy that had no known side effects, was readily available, and could improve your cognitive functioning at zero cost.” That’s the dramatic opening to a 2008 paper describing the promise of so-called “nature therapy” — or, as a non-academic might call it, “time outside.”

When college students were asked to repeat sequences of numbers back to the researchers, they were much more accurate after a walk in nature. This finding built on previous research that showed how nature can restore attention and memory.

Another study found that people immersed in nature for four days — significantly more time than a lunchtime walk in the park — boosted their performance on a creative problem-solving test by 50%.

While the research suggests the possibility of a positive relationship between creative thinking and the outdoors, it wasn’t enough to determine whether the effects were due to “increased exposure to nature, decreased exposure to technology, or other factors.”

Sources: Psychological Science, 2008; PLOS ONE, 2012

8. Possible anti-cancer effects

Research on this connection is still in its earliest phases, but preliminary studies have suggested that spending time in nature — in forests, in particular — may stimulate the production of anti-cancer proteins.

The boosted levels of these proteins may last up to seven days after a relaxing trip into the woods.

Studies in Japan have also found that areas with greater forest coverage have lower mortality rates from a wide variety of cancers, even after controlling for smoking habits and socioeconomic status. While there are too many confounding factors to come to a concrete conclusion about what this might mean, it’s a promising area for future research.

Sources: International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, 2007; International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, 2008; Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents, 2008; The Open Public Health Journal, 2008

9. Immune system boost

The cellular activity that is associated with a forest’s possible anti-cancer effects is also indicative of a general boost to the immune system you rely on to fight off less serious ills, like colds, flus, and other infections.

A 2010 review of research related to this effect noted that “all of these findings strongly suggest that forest environments have beneficial effects on human immune function,” but acknowledged that more research on the relationship is needed.

Source: Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine, 2010

10. Improved mental health

Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues may all be eased by some time in the great outdoors — especially when that’s combined with exercise. (This is to be expected, to some extent, as both greenery and exercise are known to reduce stress.)

One study found that walks in the forest were specifically associated with decreased levels of anxiety and bad moods, and another found that outdoor walks could be “useful clinically as a supplement to existing treatments” for major depressive disorder.

“Every green environment improved both self-esteem and mood,” found an analysis of 10 earlier studies about so-called “green exercise,” and “the mentally ill had one of the greatest self-esteem improvements.” The presence of water made the positive effects even stronger.

Sources: Environmental Science and Technology, 2010; Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012; Journal of Affective Disorders, 2013

11. Reduced risk of early death

The health effects of green space are wide-ranging, and studies that can’t prove cause-and-effect still show strong associations between access to nature and longer, healthier lives.

“The percentage of green space in people’s living environment has a positive association with the perceived general health of residents,” concluded a Dutch study of 250,782 people.

Nearby green space was even more important to health in urban environments, the researchers found. In fact, they wrote, “our analyses show that health differences in residents of urban and rural municipalities are to a large extent explained by the amount of green space.”

A follow-up study by the same research team relied on mortality assessed by physicians and found that a wide variety of diseases were less prevalent among people who lived in close proximity to green space. Other studies have made a direct link between time spent in forests and other measures of overall health.

A recent study in Environmental Health Perspectives found a similar connection, finding about a 12% lower mortality rate, with the biggest improvements related to reduced risk of death from cancer, lung disease, or kidney disease.

Why the connection? Researchers point to “recovery from stress and attention fatigue, encouragement of physical activity, facilitation of social contact and better air quality” as well as nature’s positive effect on mental health, which would boost overall health and longevity as well.

Sources: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2006; Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2009; Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, 2012; Environmental Health Perspectives, 2016

This article was originally published on Business Insider.

By Lauren F Friedman and Kevin Loria, Tech Insider

(Photo credits: Pixabay)

The tempo of the contemporary world makes us feel guilty if we choose to put ourselves first – as if taking care of your most basic needs is selfish, so modern societies unwittingly celebrate self-destructive behavior. That includes skipping your meals, ditching your yoga class and sleeping poorly as soon as your schedule is overflown with tasks and assignments.

Even though you might feel equipped to handle this stressful rhythm, it will ultimately take its toll and wreak havoc on your mood, health, and overall well-being. It’s time to slow down, restructure your life and make smarter choices, in order for your future self will be grateful – so let’s talk self-care strategies!

Savor every bite

Make a solemn promise to yourself to ditch fast food, pastry shops and candy bars that would keep a sloth in an Irish-dancing mood. Your mindset matters, and if you perceive healthy food as your archenemy, that’s the first thing you should change. Convenience doesn’t have to be unhealthy either, as it pays to invest time to prepare food beforehand, and structure a meal plan that will safeguard your immune system.

A weekly grocery shopping spree to for a fresh supply of antioxidant-packed fruits, detox-friendly veggies, and other delicacies will help you stay on the right track. Pick your meal-prepping day to pack your lunches in separate containers, and clear out your unhealthy snack stash – you know you have one! Never again will you have to spend another work lunch feeling guilty for eating a snickers bar or skipping your meal altogether.

Exercise is a way of being

You may not have time every day to visit your Zumba class or work those weights, but whatever you’re doing at home can use a bit of spicing up if you move it, move it! Or not – even static poses can be beneficial for your health when done properly, as you can work on your mobility and flexibility and increase your stability and strength by enjoying an episode of GoT in a Sphinx pose.

Other ways of working your muscles and your endurance while on the job include desk exercises, walking and munching on your lunch break, taking a brief break to do a few squats, lunges or planks (especially for those who work at home), use the jump-rope, and stretch. Other than that, take the stairs, set up walk and talk meetings and avoid spending your leisure time sitting down, even when you don’t have enough time for a full-blown routine.

Support your self-care

Would you encourage your kids to ride their bikes without a helmet or remain indifferent if your best friend goes hiking in her flip-flops? The same way you’d care for someone else, you need to make wise decisions about yourself, especially when you’re about to put your body through a strenuous workout.

Iron-addicts among you know well that you need to protect your ankles with quality bodybuilding shoes and stay hydrated throughout your training session. Yoga enthusiasts always invest in a solid yoga mat and comfortable yoga pants, while runners know not to hit the sidewalk in the first pair of sneakers they come across. Don’t treat any of your routines as a chore, as it can backfire, and you might end up getting injured.

Sweet dreams

Beauty is not the only byproduct of healthy sleep – in fact, most of your problem-solving skills and decision-making ability depend on a regular and quality sleeping pattern. Feeling drowsy or having a headache is a momentary side-effect of poor sleeping habits, but long-term consequences span from increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, depression to diabetes.

Consistency is key, and the only way to restore your natural biorhythm is to create and stick to a sleeping schedule that allows your body plenty of rest. Think of it this way: if you don’t get enough sleep, you will definitely diminish your cognitive capacity to handle all those ambitious tasks tomorrow. Rest, healthy food and exercise are the holy trinity of self-care, but they require harmony to take effect.

Practice gratitude and mental hygiene

Facing fears and detoxing from stress is like flossing for your emotional well-being. It takes a long time to master the art of positive thinking and gratitude, especially when you encounter a setback in life, but it all starts with one caring choice at a time.

Don’t let your emotions fester underneath the smiling surface, but make time to process whatever’s bothering you. The same way you would lend your best friend an ear when she’s in trouble, never ignore your own issues. Start writing an emotion journal, consult a professional, meditate, but find a stress-fighting structure that will let your self-care become a natural set of daily habits and allow your positive mindset to flourish.

This article was originally created and published by Visual Meditation. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution (active link to this article) and author bio.

Do you have frequent and intense mood swings? Discover some surprising factors that affect your mood.

Mood swings can be real deal breakers: unless identified and remedied on time, frequent mood dips can shatter work focus, wreak havoc on relationships, and compromise long-term well-being through persistent appetite changes.

Unfortunately, psychological problems are all too common in the world we live in: studies show that about 9.5% of Americans aged over 18 suffer from mood disorders, and the figure is probably much higher as many cases go by undiagnosed.

But while psychotherapy and medications may be necessary in grave cases of mood disorders, slight lifestyle tweaks could help prevent frequent and intense bouts of the blues, irritability, anger, lethargy, confusion, and bad temper.

Sounds too easy to be true? It’s not really.

in fact, here are five surprising lifestyle factors that affect your mood, which you can apply right away.

1. Posture to Drive Away Mood Swings

You probably know confidence and happiness show in both the eyes and posture, but what you may not know is that the mood-stance link goes both ways. According to scientific research, slumping at your desk can give rise to feelings of hostility, anxiety, and unease, whereas sitting up straight will instantly boost energy and self-esteem.

Watch: Improve Your Self-Esteem

Similarly, walking with your back straight and your shoulders back can make you feel more positive about yourself and your surroundings, while a slumped walking posture can chip your confidence and mood and hamper your success.

2. Beat the Blues by Color Psychology

Clothes may not make the man, but the hues you wear certainly affect your psychological shape more than you think. Based on the principles of color psychology, hues can affect your mood and make or break success in various social situations, so strive to keep your wardrobe painted in the colors of the rainbow, or at least try to wear clothes in calming and vitalizing tones.

If possible, stay away from black and use brash colors such as red, bright green, and orange as accents as they can dial up stress for both you and people around you and send an inadequate message to others.

3. Gut Hitches Can Eat Your Mood Out

You may not be what you eat but your diet impacts your psychological shape in more ways than one. A recent study shows that excess sugar intake can increase the frequency of mood swings and depression, while a mild dehydration can lead to moodiness, fatigue, and problems focusing.

If you want to keep your mood stable, take care of your gut and feed it nutrient-dense foods. In case you’re struggling to meet recommended a daily nutrient intake, try and patch the gap using quality Biocare products, add probiotics to your plate, and up your water intake.

4. Get Offline and Log into Your Life

If you’re spending a lot of time on social media, no wonder you’re prone to mood swings. Seeing your friends posting about their happiness can affect your mood in a positive way, but living up in virtual reality is a risky affair.

As hilarious and inspirational as those viral videos might be, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can’t be a substitute for emotional well-being or real life contact with people you care about.

Offline is where peace, love, and happiness happen, so limit the amount of time you spend online if you want to prevent mood dips, increase productivity, and beat procrastination.

5. A Smart Mood Swing Spender

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy presents that will show your loved ones you care and make their life a bit better, if only for a short while. It’s a rule of life: emotions are contagious, so if your significant other, parent, or child is happy, you’ll be happy, too, and cute gifts are an easy way to dial up anyone’s mood.

Still, be aware that the happiness solicited through gifts is short-lived and can’t replace true love and care, so try to keep tabs on emotional purchases: after all, the last thing you want is to end up throat-deep in debt-induced stress and the evil of money.

There’s far more to stable mood than meets the eye: from posture and colors to diet, internet, and the way you handle your finances, a number of factors impact your psychological shape and emotional wellbeing.

Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to prevent mood swings from taking hold of you – and if you’re still here, you now know five simple strategies to do away with sudden and intense emotional shifts.

Never forget: the power over your emotions is in your hands and your hands alone.

What other lifestyle habits do you know that can affect your mood? Share in the comments section below.

We all breath, a necessary function to live, but have you ever considered how you are breathing, and in what ways it may benefit your body?

Rather than just relying on this automatic bodily function to act as it should so choose, take control of your breathing and put it to work for your mental, emotional and physical health!

Conscious breathing is the act of breathing with intention and awareness as to your experience in the moment. It allows you to focus the mind, body, and spirit in the moment, creating a connection between all of these parts of your person.

For some, this can be as easy as just taking a few moments to relax the body and focus the mind, whereas for others it is a much more intense practice used to deal with periods of stress and even post-traumatic situations.

The root of many yoga and meditation practices, taking control of your body and employing a breathing technique has been found to benefit the body in many ways including:

  • Improve your mood
  • Promote healthy digestion
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Eliminate oxidative stress on the body
  • Feed healthy cells in the body
  • Reduce cravings
  • Increase mental focus
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Stimulate blood flow to your skin
  • Improve quality of sleep

Try This Powerful Breathing Exercise

This exercise is an introduction to the world of conscious breathing, designed to allow you to experience what you can do through focusing on your breathing techniques.

That being said, breathing exercises can be intense and there are some people who should not be partaking in these exercises without medical supervision. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, retinal detachment, aneurysms, glaucoma, or if you have recently experienced a physical injury or surgery we recommend first speaking with a medical professional. Pregnant women should also practice caution.

Prepare a Safe Space: Anytime that you are practice breathing techniques or meditation it is important that you ensure that you have the appropriate space prepared.

You want to eliminate potential distractions, choosing a quiet space where you will not be disturbed. The exercise involves lying down, so find somewhere with a firm, safe place for you to remain throughout the duration of this experience such as on a yoga mat on the floor. You may also wish to place a pillow or rolled up towel either under your head or your knees. You will want some form of timer nearby, which should be set to 20  minutes.

Step #1: Lie on your back, allowing yourself to get comfortable with any rolled up towels, pillows or blankets for warmth that you may require. Once you start you will remain in this position so it is important that you ensure that you are going to be comfortable enough to relax. Close your eyes and allow yourself to just breathe for a few minutes.

Step #2: Take a deep breath in, focusing on breathing down into the diaphragm. If you are doing this properly you stomach should move outward slightly with the breath. Slowly exhale, keeping the same pace in your breathing regardless of whether you are inhaling or exhaling. Continue focusing on this breathing pattern, being careful not to leave any gaps of time in between inhaling and exhaling. Try visualizing your breath as a circular motion, moving in and out of your body.

Step #3: Continue the circular breathing pattern while allowing your whole body to relax. Feel the tension leaving the different parts of your body with each breath. The more relaxed you are, the easier it will be to continue this breathing cycle.

Step #4: Now that you have allowed any physical tension to leave the body, turn your focus to releasing any negative emotions and energies in the body. Every time that you breathe out of your mouth envision these energies leaving with your breath.

As you continue this exercise it is important to note that you may feel your body entering into an ‘altered’ state of consciousness approximately 10 to 15 minutes into this exercise. This may present itself as an overall feeling of euphoria or tingling in your hands or feet.

 Step 5: As your timer goes off, marking the 20-minute mark, it is now time to slowly come back to your physical reality. Take the time to focus on bringing your breathing back to the way in which you would normally breathe on a daily basis. Don’t get up too quickly as you may find yourself light-headed. Take a moment to reflect upon any realizations you may have had throughout this experience.

This article was originally posted at Evolve Me.

Photo credits: Remedies for me