Scientists argue that a few hours of silence dramatically help to the rejuvenation of brain cells just the way sleep does.

From the old times, people who appreciated silence a little more than the ordinary were confronted by their social community with suspicion or “burdened” with the label of “monotonous” and “peculiar”. Now, however, it is time for the supporters of silence and generally all those who don’t appreciate the bustle, the noisy spaces, and the endless talking, to celebrate.

But, let’s get things right: in 2011 the Finnish Ministry of Tourism launched a campaign that used silence as an exportable product(!). This campaign called for tourists to visit Finland and discover the healing properties and beauty of the tranquil landscapes of the country.

In fact, they had gone on to publish promotional material, in particular, a series of wonderful photos that their main slogan was “Quiet, please” and was accompanied by a few more words: “No more talk, actions!”

Eva Kiviranta, who manages the social media of VisitFinland.com, said:

We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing.

Probably, she ignored a scientific project that was conducted on the beneficial properties of silence.

How Silence Benefits the Brain?

In particular, on the basis of studies carried out from 2013 until today at Oregon and Duke universities, both in newborn mice and humans, it has been found that two minutes of absolute silence benefits the brain; it can be as relaxing as if we were sleeping for 15 minutes or if we listened to our favorite music for 5 minutes.

The study titled Brain, Structure and Function revealed a truly amazing finding: 2 hours of absolute silence were enough to create new cells in the hippocampus, the brain region involved in the transfer of information from short-term memory to long-term and to better containment of this information.

In this sense, scientists have argued that silence helps in the development and proper functioning of our brain. They explain that noise and talking affect the functioning of our brain, causing it to produce high levels of stress hormones.

Sound waves affect the brain, which perceives them even when we sleep. So, either by looking for a two-hour pause in the day or by sleeping in a completely quiet environment, you will benefit your brain.

H/T: LIFO

References:

The fast-paced world we live in has lead us to obtain certain unhealthy and toxic habits which affect our physical, as well as mental health. Somehow, our desire to achieve more has contributed to a reduced work productivity. Over time, we develop bad habits like smoking, unhealthy diet, and many other we were not even aware of. Why? Because we create an illusion that these habits keep us in balance.

Working mothers are in the worst position since they are required to juggle their personal and professional lives. The solution to this problem is rather simple – focusing on one task at a time. It is a common misconception that multitasking is vital for business success. Many are those who believe that the ability to single-task, i.e. work until a certain goal is achieved, is what leads to accomplishing long-lasting results. And what’s the key? One word – Flow.

The Theory of Flow

Flow represents the state of mind in which a person is fully focused on the task at hand; completely immersing themselves in it, losing track of time. When in the state of flow, you forget about everything; yourself, others, the entire world around you; at the same time, you are overwhelmed by the feeling of happiness; you become creative, motivated and highly productive. You no longer allow yourself to get easily interrupted by minor things but stay engaged with the challenging task you are working on.

How can you turn your entire (work) life around? According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, researcher at the University of California, “40% of our capacity for happiness is within our power to change.” So, what are some of the things we can actually do today, to avoid going back to our old habits tomorrow?

1. Start healthy

First off, don’t wake up with the regret of what you could have, or should have done yesterday; focus on what you can do today. To get the most of your day, start it with a positive attitude and a torrent of energy. Furthermore, substitute your first cup of coffee for the first glass of lemon water. It will help you rehydrate your body and flush your digestive system. You will balance your metabolism, and as a result, get a leaner figure. If you lead a hectic lifestyle, developing healthy habits may be difficult as you probably don’t have much time to prepare your own healthy food and work out. Fortunately, you can get protein drinks and other supplements to help with your nutrition and make baby steps when it comes to your fitness routine.  Also, don’t forget to drink a lot of fluids later during the day to avoid dehydration, dizziness and, ultimately, lowered productivity.

Dry brushing before showering is also advisable as a regular part of a morning routine, as it increases circulation, providing you with more energy. Starting with your feet and hands, the skin is commonly brushed towards the chest, that is – the heart.

2. Start strong

It is essential to organize your time around your body’s natural rhythm. When it comes to any kind of cognitive work, a greater number of adults proved to perform better in the morning. For this reason, more challenging tasks should be dealt with earlier in a day, as concentration and alertness tend to descend as time passes.

3. Define your goals

Setting personal goals provides you with a long-term vision, as well as a short-term motivation. They help you get a clearer vision of where you want to go in life and on what you should concentrate your efforts. Ensure you set a SMART goal; and by that, we mean Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. If they feel a bit abstract – write them down, plan the steps and cross off one after the other as you complete them.

4. Concentrate on self-comparison

The reason certain people struggle with insecurity is that they compare themselves to others, thus keeping themselves reserved and self-conscious. The biggest issue here is that we are never fully familiar with someone else’s story, and we are only presented with fragments of it. Only jealousy and resentment can come of it. Instead, focus on your journey; we all carry a unique footprint no one else possesses and we can utilize it to create something exceptional.

5. Limit the decision-making

By placing a time limit on decision-making, you will yield higher quality choices. By setting deadlines, you force yourself to spring into action. This technique proved to be extremely useful when conducting team meetings and brainstorming sessions. This way, everyone knows that there will be a vote at a specific time and it won’t lead to an endless and pointless debate.

It was Aristotle who said “We are what we repeatedly do; that excellence is not an act, but a force of habit,” so how long do you want to continue to live with the bad ones? Are they really beneficial? No. And today is a good day to quit your bad habits and focus only on what’s going to build your confidence from the ground up.

Looking for ways to reduce stress? Why not engaging in a hobby?

Stress is an unavoidable part of daily life for adults. Whether stress arises from work, finances, or relationships, it can be detrimental to your emotional and physical health. There are many ways to reduce stress, but studies show engaging in hobbies has a consistent and lasting effect on stress levels.

The Importance of Entertainment

The Mayo Clinic recognizes stress as a factor in many physical and mental ailments. While some concerns, such as a headache, are temporary, stress can also play a part in long-term concerns like heart disease. Finding ways to reduce stress can also reduce health issues.

2007 study from Indiana University stated: “leisure can help people to successfully manage their stress, thereby preventing illness.” Continued research has increased the understanding of the roles that hobbies can play in health. Study results published in The Society of Behavioral Medicine showed that participants reported feeling less stress and experienced a lower heart rate while engaging in a variety of leisure activities. Those health benefits continued for about an hour after each activity concluded. The study also showed that the stress-reduction benefits of recreation can be achieved whether you have fun with others or on your own – whatever form your downtime activity takes, you can enjoy less stress.

Engaging Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present time and your current actions, without allowing your mind to wander to the past or the future. Mindfulness has been linked to a multitude of positive mental, physical, and social health effects, with even the American Psychological Association touting its benefits. Stressful thoughts, such as worrying about a problem at work, can be cleared away by mindful focus.

Engaging mindfulness practices can be done at any time, as they don’t require any equipment or money. Although it takes practice to have a successful mindfulness experience, getting started is easy. Visual Meditation has a great video to help you to increase mindfulness.

Find the Right Hobby

A successful hobby is one you enjoy. Each person’s tastes and talents will affect the hobbies they can enjoy. Forcing yourself to participate in an activity you don’t enjoy can have the opposite of the desired stress-releasing effects.

Here are some ideas to help you discover the hobby that is right for you:

1. Stamp Collecting

Stamp collecting is a hobby that anyone can enjoy. There is almost no physical activity, making it great for all ages and ability levels. The cost to begin collecting is very low, there is very little special equipment required, and the weather has no effect on this hobby. The American Philatelic Society has all of the information required to start your own collection.

2. Knitting

Over the last decades, knitting has seen a resurgence in popularity. Many people are taking up needles and creating blankets, clothes, kitchen materials, and more. With so much demand for the craft, stores that carry knitting supplies, like Jo-Ann Fabrics, offer classes for beginners and more skilled crafters. Not only do these classes make learning easier, they’re a great way to make new friends. If you don’t feel like taking a class, YouTube has numerous tutorials to get you started.

3. Running

Exercise has been repeatedly shown to reduce stress, and it has the added benefit of helping you stay in shape. It may seem daunting to begin running, but apps like Couch to 5K can help you get started in a healthy and effective way.

4. Gardening

Gardening is often seen as an outdoor activity. You don’t need to own a home or even have a plot of land to have a green thumb! Plenty of plants can be grown indoors. Herbs, flowers, and small selections of fruits and vegetables can easily be grown in window boxes or indoor pots, and in the case of herbs or produce, your hobby can supply you with both relaxation and a meal.

5. Reading

Books can transport the reader to another world, away from their daily stressors. With the innumerable genres and authors to choose from, everyone can find a book they enjoy. Bookstore employees are quick to make suggestions for good books, and e-readers make nearly any book available in a manner of seconds. Reading can also be a free hobby thanks to public libraries; just be sure to return your books on time to avoid late fees.

Stress Release for Everyone

Hobbies are a simple way to reduce occasional and chronic stress. Whether you choose to participate in a solo hobby or get together with a group of friends, there are plenty of different pastimes for you to try out. Finding a hobby you enjoy and combining it with the practice of mindfulness will reduce stress, clear your mind, and have lasting effects on physical and mental health.

About the author:

Elliott Garrick is a passionate blogger and crafts addict. In her spare time, she likes to collect stamps and turn them into beautiful art. She is also a regular contributor to PostageStamps101.com.

What are the benefits of mindfulness? Let’s explore them…

Where is your mind right now? Is it focused on all the tasks you must complete by tomorrow? Is it focused on the mistakes of yesterday? If it’s not focused on the present moment, then you’re losing out. The reason the present tense is so important is that it’s the only thing in existence for the time being. The past is gone, and the future is not yet here, so the present is all we have to work with. It’s called being mindful.

Mindfulness is the ability to think about the present time, the here and now, without any ruminations of the past or future. It sounds easy enough, I’m sure, but if you’re wondering how mindful you are, it’s probably not enough.

Maybe you touch the outskirts of the present at times when things need immediate attention, but the present tense plays a smaller role in your life than you think. We spend way too much time in what was and what will be. It’s time to learn how to deal with what’s right in front of us, right now!

Learning Mindfulness

Becoming mindful and staying within the present time, may be difficult at first. Being able to clear the mind takes practice and many hours of regulating your breathing, using focal points and listening to calm-inducing sounds, like ambient music. To reach the pinnacle of your brain’s ability to slow down and “just be”, it will take repetition.

As you continue to practice this state of being, it will get easier to enter. This inner peace, which, I might add is extremely powerful, will flood into your entire entity, much easier than the times before. Each time will be smoother than the last. It’s about practice and completely clearing the mind from all clutter, whether it be future plans or past regrets. They all must go! And this letting go can be a spiritual experience as well.

Benefits of Mindfulness

The mindful experience is not just designed by nature to aid in spirituality, more so, it is a spiritual process in and of itself, utilized to produce numerous positive outcomes. When taking the time to quiet the mind, you can see all the benefits of mindfulness occur.

An Improvement in creativity

You may already have a creative mind, but when meditation comes into the picture, your creativity can grow in leaps and bounds. Meditation allows convergent and divergent thinking to work together more smoothly as one process towards a goal. Being mindful can create stability in the creative process.

A reduction in anxiety

Incorporating mindfulness into therapy can be a smart choice for mental health physicians. Patients who suffer from anxiety can see a great reduction in anxiety symptoms, simply by quieting the mind. Not that this would always be an easy task to start, but after practice, mindfulness can prove more effective than medications.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy has adopted mindfulness as a way to treat patients with bipolar disorder and personality disorders. Mindfulness makes it easier to process emotions, and chaotic emotions are just what seems to be the biggest problem with these patients.

Improves overall focus

Just as mindful meditation helps with focus in the present, it can also prove effective for focusing on future tasks. It’s sort of like training for the mind, bringing priorities to the forefront and filtering out all unneeded thought processes.

In the Journal PLOS ONE, in 2008, a study showed that zen meditation revealed areas of the brain responsible for wandering thoughts. This helped understand how to use meditation training to quell the wandering thoughts – thinking about thinking of nothing, basically.

Decreases loneliness

Mindfulness meditation not only helps improve your sense of self, and establish a true acceptance of your being, it also helps you to accept being alone. Even if you aren’t alone, you may suffer from loneliness, hidden behind a veneer of low self-esteem. When the self-esteem is improved, loneliness dissolves.

Becoming more intelligent

A higher intelligence due to meditation can be linked to removing distracting thoughts. If the mind is clear of any thoughts from the past or future, the present thoughts can take precedence, thus giving us a better ability to make more well-thought-out decisions for the time being.

A scientific way to look at this is to consider gyrification, which is folds in the brain that signify meditative thinking. Practicing mindfulness, over time, leaves more gyrification within the brain, and these formations allow faster processing.

An improved sexual experience

Distractions are the death of the sexual encounter, especially for women. During the sexual experience, many women endure self-judgment in the form of their own brain chatter. But with mindfulness, you train your brain to stay in the present moment, free of judgment. Studies show that college women, with a history of meditation practices, were more easily aroused by sexual images. Non-meditative women had a much harder time staying focused on the images.

And there are more benefits to being here, now, in the present time!

Being mindful is not just to new age enthusiasts or those who suffer from mental illness. Each one of us can greatly enjoy the benefits of mindfulness. On the other side of life’s clutter lies your true embodiment of self. Here you discover how to truly love yourself, become one with everything around you and reach true enlightenment. So sit down, relax and just be here… now.

References:

Increase Your Conscious Awareness, with Subliminal Messages

Increase Your Conscious Awareness - Subliminal MeditationConscious awareness or mindfulness is the ability to be consciously aware of your presence and of what you are experiencing, feeling, thinking, and doing.

Life is a sequence of moments, and we live almost our entire life mechanically, without being present at the moment. We don’t really notice what is happening outside and inside of us. We, or our consciousness, is not ‘there’.

By being present, observant and consciously aware of your mental and emotional state, you can improve the quality of your life in amazing ways.

“Increase Your Conscious Awareness” contains powerful affirmations and subliminal messages, designed to make you be more consciously aware of your surroundings and yourself, and to appreciate and enjoy all the moments and details of life. Try it here and enjoy the benefits of mindfulness!

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.

10 natural ways to increase dopamine levels in the brain.

Did you know that we have chemicals in our brain that make us feel good? One of the most important is Dopamine (also known as the ‘feel good chemical’). Having reduced levels of dopamine can lead to adverse effects like depression and negativity.

But don’t worry, there are natural ways to increase your dopamine so you can experience a more constant level of happiness. Best of all, the following techniques don’t involve medications.

1. Exercise

Exercise can boost your levels of endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, which will not only strengthen your muscles, but will help reduce your stress. The best bit? It works with any kind of exercise – just as long as you get moving!

2. Avoid Addictions

While addictions may provide an instant boost of pleasure, it isn’t long-lasting. What eventually happens is that your base levels of dopamine will actually decrease and you will need your addiction more often. Therefore, it can be beneficial to avoid addictions and focus on things that give you calm and peace.

3. Detoxification

Toxins and unhealthy bacteria can halt your body producing dopamine, so make sure to consistently detoxify your body.

4. Increase Tyrosine

This amino acid is one of the most important for the production of dopamine. Make sure to consume almonds, bananas, dark chocolate and green tea.

5. Music

Music actually increases your feel good chemicals, so make sure to regularly listen to music you enjoy.

6. Organize your life

When you complete a goal, dopamine levels are increased. Therefore, write down your tasks, even small ones, and tick them off once you complete them. Every time you finish a task, you’ll experience a small rush of dopamine for completing your goal.

7. Creativity

Being creative releases dopamine. The great thing is creativity can be found in a whole range of tasks from writng to singing to dancing.

8. Get a streak going

This is a visual display of the number of times you achieve something. Again, by displaying things you achieve, your brain will recognize that you’re completing goals which will increase dopamine.

9. Supplementation

These are the supplements that can boost dopamine levels:

  • Curcumin – found in turmeric
  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Acetl-l-tyrosine
  • L-theanine, which is found in green tea

10. Meditation

This works differently compared to exercise. It will make you more calm and relaxed, which will enable you to reduce stress.

Credits: This article was originally created and published by Truth Inside Of You and re-posted here with permission.

References: