NO STRESS ZONE.
Put the stressor in an imaginary drawer and shut it!
We are accustomed to believing we must work out every problem, struggling with it until we find a solution. Some problems do not have solutions, at least for a while, and rather than stressing yourself out when there is no answer to be found, give yourself a break and move on.
Take a deep breath out!
A good friend of mine once gave me a great tape by an Eastern master. I listened to it a few times. I knew I would never become a yogi, but I learned an important piece of advice from the tape. When I feel overwhelmed, I stop and take a deep breath out! Somehow, when you breathe in, you are bringing into your body all the stress and worry from the outside world. When you breathe out, all the stuff you held in just dissipates from you. It may not make my problems go away, but my load becomes much lighter. Try it. Take three breaths in through your nose into your lungs and belly, counting to five. Hold for the count of five and let them out through your mouth to the count of seven. See how you feel.
Pause, even for a second!
In tennis, the difference between an average and a good tennis player is timing. A split-second delay allows you to focus better and see where the ball is going, how to better hit it and how to direct your shot. Take the split-second delay concept and apply it to your life. Before reacting in a stressful situation, after you take a deep breath out, stop for a few seconds. In these few seconds, you can consider if it is worth reacting to, or if there are better ways to deal with the situation. The split-second delay allows you to become aware of yourself and your surroundings. The message is: Don’t react immediately, because you may not need to react at all. I’m not recommending you start intellectualizing everything and lose the spontaneity that makes you unique and life interesting; just stop for a split second, and think about what you really want to do. As we age we learn that drama is a bad thing in our lives. It creates negative energy and stress, which release cortisol and other destructive hormones. So less drama, less stress, better health.
Stop feeling stuck in the past!
When something happens that you have no control over, let go of it! Be sad, mourn the situation, the person, but holding onto it or trying to make believe it did not happen, or wishing it hadn’t happened, will only make your stress levels go up. I find many male patients stuck in their youth. They believe their best days are behind them — high school football, college swimming, their 20s. If you believe the best is in your past, then that will be true. Instead, look at how you can make the present better. Don’t miss today by wasting precious energy on yesterday.
Take one step at a time!
I think my life is overwhelming most of the time because I find myself biting off more than I can chew. I don’t know how to say no. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that if I do less, I accomplish more and leave a lot less disappointment behind. Start saying no once in a while. You’ll stay focused and move ahead faster. Give up on doing 20 things at once. Think of your life as a stove. Move everything you don’t need to do today to the back burner. See how much better and less cluttered your life becomes.
Source: Thrive Global
We all know the benefits of taking some time to be a bit more mindful throughout our day. Research into mindful exercise, such as meditation, has shown that it can reduce stress, chronic pain and levels of depression. The NHS has even confirmed that mindfulness helps mental wellbeing.
But the benefits don’t stop there. New research has found another interesting way that mindful exercise can benefit us – especially if you’re prone to being clumsy or forgetful.
What did the study on meditation find?
A new study conducted by Michigan State University, which was published in Brain Sciences, has found that meditation could help you to become less error prone.
The research tested how open monitoring mediation – a type of meditation that focuses awareness on feelings, thoughts or suggestions as they unfold in a person’s mind and body - altered brain activity in a way that suggests increased error recognition.
What is open monitoring meditation?
“Some forms of meditation have you focus on a single object, commonly your breath, but open monitoring meditation is a bit different,” said Jeff Lin, MSU psychology doctoral candidate and study co-author.
“It has you tune inward and pay attention to everything going on in your mind and body. The goal is to sit quietly and pay close attention to where the mind travels without getting too caught up in the scenery.”
How did they conduct the study?
The study used 200 participants who had never meditated before. It took them through a 20-minute open monitoring meditation session while researchers measured brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG). They then completed a computerised distraction test.
“The EEG can measure brain activity at the millisecond level, so we got precise measures of neural activity right after mistakes compared to correct responses,” Lin said explained.
“A certain neural signal occurs about half a second after an error called the error positivity, which is linked to conscious error recognition. We found that the strength of this signal is increased in the meditators relative to controls.”
Although the meditators didn’t have immediate improvements to actual task performance, the researchers’ findings offer a promising window into the potential of sustained meditation.
“These findings are a strong demonstration of what just 20 minutes of meditation can do to enhance the brain’s ability to detect and pay attention to mistakes,” said co-author Jason Moser.
“It makes us feel more confident in what mindfulness meditation might really be capable of for performance and daily functioning right there in the moment.”
So, is it worth practicing open monitoring meditation? There’s still plenty of research to be done, according to Lin, but it’s certainly worth giving it a go.
Think You're Too Busy To Exercise?
We have jobs to do, bills to pay, kids to raise, and errands to run. But if you think you're too busy to fit in a workout a few times a week, a new study—published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease—may force you to rethink a few things.
As it turns out, Americans do have quite a bit of free time—and they're not using it in the healthiest ways.
How much "free time" Americans really have.
Conducted by a nonprofit research organization called the RAND Corporation, the study collected data from over 32,000 Americans ages 15 and older, between the years 2014 and 2016. They asked the participants to record their activities for one day, noting everything they did for a full 24 hours, and then analyzed the data to uncover how the participants were spending their free time.
If you're wondering what counts as "free time"—since it could be interpreted very differently by different people—you're in luck because the authors defined it very specifically. Free time was time not spent on work, commuting, sleeping, or doing household activities like cleaning. They also excluded more debatable activities like self-care, grooming, playing with children, shopping, and family caretaking from the "free time" category.
The results showed that on average, Americans have about five hours of free time each day. More specifically, the results showed that even after adjusting for different age, gender, and racial groups, no group had less than 4.5 hours of free time per day. The results also revealed that men have more free time than women—about 30 minutes more each day.
How Americans are spending their free time.
Now that we know how much free time we have on average, how are we spending it?
The results showed that unfortunately, we're much more likely to spend our free time in front of a screen than on the tennis court or at the gym. In fact, no group spent more than 7% of their free time on physical activities—with men spending about 6.6% of their free time exercising and women spending about 5% of their free time on physical activity on average.
Knowing this is a good wake-up call for many of us, especially if we're convinced we don't have much time to spend on exercise. As physician researcher and co-author of the study Deborah Cohen, M.D., MPH, explained it, "There is a general perception among the public and even public health professionals that a lack of leisure time is a major reason that Americans do not get enough physical activity." But the truth is, they "found no evidence for those beliefs," she continued.
According to the CDC, only about 23% of Americans get enough exercise. And it's hurting our health in myriad ways. The health benefits of physical activity are practically endless; it can improve our mood, prevent cardiovascular disease, boost libido, and support cognitive function—just to name a few.
The authors hope that this study will increase public awareness of how people are using their time and "encourage Americans to reduce their screen time [to] help people to become more physically active." Even if we don't have hours upon hours of free time each day, "these findings suggest getting Americans to devote at least 20 or 30 minutes each day to physical activity is feasible," says Cohen.
So what's the take-home? If you're having trouble prioritizing exercise, keep track of how much free time you have each day and exactly how you're spending it. Even if you can make time for a 12-minute at-home HIIT workout or manage to create your own 30-minute yoga practice, you'll be benefiting your health in more ways than one.
By this point, you’re probably down with the idea that you’ve gotta invest in yourself for a solid workout. You’ve got the clothes that wick, you’ve even splurged for a Theragun for post-fitness recovery, and you pushed past your comfort zone to incorporate yoga into your weekly routine. But you probably haven’t thought much about how to maximize one of your most basic functions: breathing.
It’s sort of crazy how something that is so second-nature to us during the rest of our waking hours becomes an actual hassle the second we start moving at a clip.
“In everything we do, from reaching for a glass of water to running a marathon, the delivery of oxygen to our system is of vital importance—literally,” says Justin Sweeney, PT, DPT, at Bespoke Treatments in Seattle. “But if you’re doing it wrong, improper breathing patterns could lead to decreased endurance, decreased load and volume output, lightheadedness, and even fainting and decreased spinal stability.” Even if you don’t have a respiratory condition (one in 13 people suffers from asthma, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention), you should still be thinking about your breathing: How you’re inhaling and exhaling air is just as important as the fact that you’re making time for exercise in the first place. We connected with experts to find out how we can make the most of our breathing during our workouts, and how we can correct for less-than-ideal air quality.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to breathe:
First, let’s touch on why breathing feels hard when you’re working out. The moment you start to channel your inner LeBron James (see also: Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps), there’s an increased demand on your muscles. Because of the extra effort you’re putting in, your body requires more oxygen and produces more carbon dioxide, according to the journal Breathe. When you go from resting to exercising, your breathing has to increase from about 15 breaths a minute (an estimated 12 liters of air) to about 40 to 60 times a minute (an additional 88 liters of air).
The best thing you can do is find a rhythm, says Amanda Joplin, ATC. Your goal: Use diaphragmatic breathing, or breathing that comes from the bottom of the chest cavity. “By breathing this way, you’ll see increased blood flow, improved relaxation, increased fat burning, decreased stress, and decreased risk of strains and cramps,” she adds.
To practice diaphragmatic breathing, Sweeney suggests, place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Then watch the rise and fall of both hands. Try to breathe so that only the hand over your stomach moves. When you’re exercising, Joplin also suggests matching your breathing pattern to your activity. When you’re running, for instance, try inhaling on the first right step and exhaling on the second right step. During weightlifting, exhale on exertion and inhale on the relaxation. If it feels overwhelming, don’t worry: It gets easier with time. “The more you think about your breathing technique initially, the less you will have to later on, as the patterning becomes integrated in your movement,” adds Sweeney. “Optimizing your breathing will help you work longer, harder, and safer so you can keep progressing and pushing your potential.”
What’s happening outside matters, too:
Even when you’ve got the basics on how to breathe, certain factors affect the overall quality of your breaths—whether you’re hitting a workout or simply walking from your car to the grocery store.
Altitude: At high altitudes, the air pressure and oxygen levels are lower. To handle this, the body increases its breathing rate, which means that exercise (already hard) becomes even more difficult. If you are new to training at altitude, your body will take less effective breaths until it acclimatizes, says Joplin. Be patient with yourself. Don’t be a hero, and make sure not to push yourself too early in acclimatization. Hoping to hit a trail run and see the sights at altitude? Consider planning it a few days into your trip.
Outside temperature and humidity: “In temperature extremes, the body can work overtime to make sure the body stays at a normal temperature,” says Joplin. This can lead to abnormally rapid or deep breathing—not exactly ideal when you’re already gasping for air post-sprint or mid–burpee set. Breathing in very dry air can also irritate the throat and respiratory systems. (And an overly humid environment can trigger negative respiratory symptoms in those with asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.) Try adjusting your pace when conditions are making it more difficult to breathe.
Air pollution and allergens: Outdoor air quality can have a major impact on the air that you breathe on the move. Pollutants and allergens come from cars, dust, mold, fire, plants, construction, animals, and factories. Because you’re taking in more air during exercise and are more likely to breathe in deeply, your breaths generally bypass your nasal passages—which typically filter out pollution particles, according to Mayo Clinic. This can increase your risk for everything from irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat to lung cancer. Are you in an iffy pollution area? Aim to get your workouts in early in the morning or at night, post-work. Ozone levels often peak in the afternoon and early evening, and carbon monoxide may be a problem during rush hour in the morning and evening.
So breathe easier, grab your sweat-wicking gear, and get to work.
Benefits You Get from Swimming
It’s not just physical exercise but get your whole body, mind and soul buzzing! Swimming is great for so many reasons.
Swimming is an excellent way to boost your endorphins and get your body moving! Because this exercise is easy on the joints and works a wide variety of muscles within your body, it’s a great sport for wide range of people. There are also psychological benefits you get from swimming.
Taking care of your body physically has a lot of positive advantages for your mental well-being. Having a healthy relationship with yourself, much like having a healthy relationship in general, is extremely uplifting and good for your brain! Here are five psychological benefits that you can get from swimming!
Being physically fit can not only add years of healthy living to your life, but also allow you to have lots of extra energy! Once you begin to exercise more frequently by doing laps in the pool, or lake, your body’s metabolism will slowly increase. In addition to having a higher metabolism, the blood in your body will circulate more efficiently.
This means more oxygen in your body, more oxygen to your muscles, and a higher level of energy production throughout your body! This way you can grab your lifejacketpro, jump into the lake, river, pond, ocean, etc. and have more energy to do the fun water and swimming activities you love. Have more energy and feel like you can take on your day!
When it comes to reducing stress, there is no such thing as a cure all! There are as many ways to combat stress as there are things to stress about. Swimming is one way to take on the many stresses of life. Not only do the repetitive motions of swimming relax your mind, but the physical activity itself will help to reduce your stress levels. As high-stress levels can prevent you from thinking clearly, reducing your daily stresses will benefit your mind, work, love life, home life, and so many other things!
Feeling Good About Yourself
Physical activity increases a lot of chemical reactions in your brain and body. One of these is the release of endorphins into your bloodstream. Endorphins are chemicals produced at the base of your brain. They are released during physical activity. They create a feeling of:
Feeling good about yourself is an important factor of having a healthy mindset. Swimming is a way to release endorphins, and therefore, feel good about yourself!
As more and more human beings suffer daily from depression, it’s hard to look the other way when you start to feel down yourself. Simply by adding physical exercise to your daily routine, you can be helping to defeat your own depression!Many, MANY researchers have found that being more active can help to reduce symptoms of depression. Keep swimming to keep winning your fight against this crippling mental illness!
Function, Think, Live Better!
Thinking more clearly and functioning more efficiently mentally are other positive psychological impacts from swimming. Increasing oxygen flow to your muscles and brain allows for you to not only have more energy, but allow your brain to work better! Daily exercises like swimming makes it easy for your brain to react quicker to stimuli. This is great for your work life, your physical activity, as well as your everyday functions!
The Psychological Benefits Swimming Can Provide You!
There are a lot of benefits to swimming beyond keeping yourself in great shape. From increasing oxygen to your brain allowing it to work more efficiently, to giving you more energy, there are so many psychological advantages to getting in the water and swimming!
Source: Thrive Global
Life can be stressful. We’re often going from one deadline to the next, pushing through without taking a break.
But that constant grind can actually be bad for your mental health and your productivity. That’s why it’s so important to unwind, take a total mental vacation from work, and allow yourself to recharge, Dr. David Ballard, a psychologist and the director of the American Psychological Association’s Office of Applied Psychology, told Travel + Leisure.
“Work is such a big part of our identities that anything that butts up against that or challenges it can create problems. We know our satisfaction with our work life can have an effect on our overall life satisfaction,” said Ballard, before adding, “The research suggests you make up in productivity more than the time you take in taking a break or recharging.”
It doesn’t have to be a whirlwind vacation to the historical cities of Europe or an adventure down the Mekong River in Asia, but it does need to include time when you’re not thinking about your job. In fact, Ballard said that those nonstop vacations — when you try to pack in as much as possible — can sometimes leave you more exhausted than you felt before you took the trip.
Rather, Ballard said people should plan “stress recovery experiences” in order to “get back to your normal level of functioning, to get back to your baseline.”
So the next time you’re thinking about taking a much-needed timeout from work, use Ballard’s six tips to take a break that will completely reset you.
Actually take time off
While Ballard said this one seems like a “no brainer,” it needs to be explicitly said. And once you’ve decided to take time off, it’s just as important to establish boundaries for technology and ground rules that you can actually stick with.
“Not only do you need time off when you’re not working, you also need time off when you’re not thinking about work,” he said. “Turn off pop-up notifications and alerts on your mobile devices so your brain isn’t getting sucked back into it.”
Plan a relaxing activity
Ballard said it’s important to plan an activity during your vacation that you know will relax you, like meditation or yoga, taking a walk, or reading a good book.
“And that's different for everyone,” he said. “When you plan [a] vacation, it’s a packed agenda. You come back from trips and feel like you need a vacation from your vacation. It’s important to plan some down time or relaxing activities even if you’ve got a really packed schedule for a vacation.”
Make time for a stimulating non-work related activity
While it’s important to relax, it’s equally as important to engage in an activity that is interesting or challenging to you — and is not work related — Ballard said.
“For stress recovery experiences, it’s actually helpful to be engaged in something else that you find engaging or stimulating,” he said. “If you’re planning a beach vacation and will spend time laying on the beach, find some other activities even [if] it’s just an hour a day … often it’s hobbies or things that have fallen by the wayside.”
Get good quality sleep
While the actual amount of sleep you need can vary from person to person, Ballard said quality uninterrupted sleep is one of the most important things you can do to reset. “That’s one we all know we should do, but were not great at it,” he said.
Think about your re-entry strategy
A great, rejuvenating vacation won’t do anything for your mental health in the long run if you throw it all away the day you get back, Ballard said. Instead, he said to make a plan for when you get back to work — like building in time to comb through emails so that you’re not overwhelmed.
“We want to be able to hang on to those gains as long as we can when we get back,” he said. “Finding a way to make those benefits last as long as possible is important. So what if it’s a perfect vacation if you blow it all away when you get back?”
Seek out extra support if you need it
If you are feeling super stressed out, it may be helpful to seek out the support of an expert to help maximize the benefits of actually taking a break, Ballard said.
“You might problem solve or strategize with them in advance of taking time off to make sure you get the optimal recovery experience,” he said.
Bananas Make You Happier
Bananas are a versatile, sweet, tasty and healthy snack. They can help you keep fit as well as help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions. To say that 100 percent of the time bananas make you happier is an overstatement. But, generally speaking, bananas make you happier and feel healthier.
Health Benefits of Bananas
Bananas may reduce the risk of heart disease as the potassium found in them helps regulate blood pressure. This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it the perfect food for helping to naturally lower blood pressure and reduce occurrences of strokes.
Bananas are rich in vitamin B6 as well as fiber, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. Lack of B6 in a diet causes weakness, irritability and insomnia. This is why bananas are also suggested for women experiencing morning sickness, or people that otherwise feel nauseous.
So, Why do People Say that Bananas Make You Happier?
Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid, that the body converts into serotonin. It is serotonin that is responsible for making people feel happier. Serotonin, also known as the “happy hormone”, promotes a more positive, happy mood. Eating bananas will lead to increased levels of serotonin, which ultimately may make you feel more upbeat and happy.
What Else Are Bananas Good For?
Do you turn to food when you feel stressed out by work, family, or social obligations? You’re not alone! Beverly Hills psychotherapist Allison Cohen, MA, MFT, helps explain why you eat when you’re stressed, how emotional eating affects your weight and health, and what you can do instead.
Stress is a common trigger for emotional eaters because so many everyday life circumstances cause the stress and anxiety that leads to overeating. Some stressors come from within, like the stress you put on yourself to be perfect or the anxiety you feel when you want to ask for a raise or confront a problem you’re having with a friend or family member. Other stressors come from outside of yourself, such as the demands of your job, medical issues, family obligations, and social pressure from friends. Some stressors are within your control and some are not.
“Both negative and positive events can cause stress,” Allison points out. “For instance, buying a home, getting married and having a baby are all joyful events but they are still stressful because they involve change, and change always brings new and often anxiety-provoking issues into your life.” And that’s why both positive and negative circumstances can also lead to emotional overeating, she adds.
And which foods do most people turn to when they stress-eat? You probably have enough personal experience to know that comfort foods—those that mentally bring us back to a more carefree time of childhood, and that are often high in sugar, fat, or both—are what emotional overeaters usually crave when tensions rise. Which may help explain why psychological stress and “reward eating,” characterized by a lack of control over the types and amount of food eaten, are two top factors that prevent so many people from losing weight.1
Does Stress Causes Hunger?
You have both physical and psychological relationships with food. Your physical relationship with food is based on the types of foods you choose to eat, your eating behavior, or habits and how your body responds biologically to your diet. Your psychological, or emotional, relationship with food is based on how you think about food, how you use food for reasons other than to relieve hunger, and how food relates your body image, or the way you feel about how you look.
Sometimes you eat to satisfy true hunger, to fulfill a physical need to eat and survive. At other times, such as when you stress-eat, you eat to satisfy your appetite, or your desire for a particular type of food, because you believe it will provide relief. That’s a psychological, or emotional, need that generally has nothing to do with actual hunger. Emotional hunger is a driving response to overwhelming feelings and emotions.
“Of course, if you’re hungry and stressed at the same time, you may well be eating to satisfy true hunger,” adds Allison. “But, at the same time, you may choose fast food or a sweet dessert over something more nutritious because, at that moment, you’re not trying to eat healthfully.”
The biological reason you overeat when stressed may be that persistent stress causes increased and ongoing secretion of a hormone called cortisol into the bloodstream, and high blood levels of cortisol are linked to increased appetite. Stress-related levels of cortisol have been found to be significantly higher in obese women than in women at a healthier weight, although that link doesn’t always result in overeating.2
5 Ways to Handle Stress Eating
In order to get control of stress eating, you have to control your stress levels. The best way to deal with stress is to address current situations head-on and, at the same time, learn to be prepared to handle stressful situations in the future before both the problem and your eating behavior get out of hand. These 5 steps can help you manage stress and avoid stress eating:
“Eating intuitively empowers you to learn what your body feels like when you are truly hungry versus hunger that is instead powered by stress or the need for emotional comfort,” Allison explains. “When you understand and pay attention to the ‘why’s’ of what your body is craving, you’ll have a better understanding of how to manage stress-eating.”
An uplifting and hopeful memoir and social commentary about how becoming deeply connected to the natural world through bird watching helped teacher and author Joe Harkness to deal with serious mental health issues, and could help many others, too.
As we go through life, we all suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune at some time or another. Loss of a loved one. Divorce. Illness. Unemployment. A domineering boss. Co-workers who steal credit for your ideas or work. Money problems. Bullying neighbors. Fear of what the future may bring. Social isolation. The list goes on and on. Although common, events such as these can trigger mental health challenges for anyone.
In fact, mental health issues affect one out of four people every year, as we’ve learned during the month of May, which has been observed as Mental Health Month in the United States since 1949. Yet, despite how common -- how shared -- mental health problems are, the subject still remains taboo. It’s rarely spoken of.
The most common mental health problems are depression and anxiety, which often show up together. As we learn in the book, Bird Therapy (Unbound, 2019: Amazon US / Amazon UK), these two unwelcome guests, along with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, eventually ended up causing Special Educational Needs Coordinator, Joe Harkness, to suffer an emotional breakdown that nearly drove him to suicide in 2013.
The opening paragraph of this book is difficult to read, especially for anyone who has been in a similar situation. But the honesty and vulnerability of the writing resonates deeply and keeps you reading, almost like following a delicate golden thread through a dark labyrinth and out into brilliant light again.
This somber beginning provides the context upon which Mr. Harkness builds his argument that being part of nature in some meaningful way is an essential element in an emotionally healthy life. In Mr. Harkness’s case, birds are his ticket to the outdoors, and birding is the elixir that saves him from his secret anguish. Mr. Harkness shares the (sometimes harsh) reality of his mental health struggles, but we learn how bird watching positively impacts his life, how it provides a special place to where he can escape the maelstrom of modern life, and how it increases his social connectedness by providing the opportunity to meet others with a similar passion for birds. We see how birding heals him.
Although I’m a lifelong birder, I was particularly interested to learn how birding develops mindfulness. Birding is a meditative practice that immediately appeals to all your senses -- listening to bird sounds and songs, looking at their plumage colors and patterns, observing their complex and often subtle behaviors, identifying their habits and habitats -- but weirdly, I’d not made this connection between birding and mindfulness before.
Nonetheless, even if you aren’t a bird watcher (Mr. Harkness didn’t start out a birder, either), you will be captivated by the story, and will find yourself becoming more aware of the birds around you -- their sounds and behaviors and relationships -- and noticing the positive impact that regular bird watching has on your mental health.
Writing this memoir was almost certainly therapeutic. The author is a careful observer and his thoughtful descriptions of his own mental state likely served as a valuable roadmap of his progress towards healing. The author’s lucid prose tracks his recovery, along with his setbacks, and provides encouragement to the reader to discover similar effects for themselves. To ensure that the main points are clear, there is a list of useful tips at the end of each chapter. By following the author’s journey back into the light, you can become conscious of common themes in your own inner conflicts and uncover unexpected connections with countless others who share these same struggles.
The author reaches out to others, too. Throughout the book, Mr. Harkness includes data and responses from an online survey that he conducted on his blog, and interweaves findings from published scientific studies revealing that birding (or even just getting out into nature) is correlated with improved mental health. This observation is not new: it was introduced and popularized by biologist, theorist, and author, Edward O. Wilson in his 1984 book, Biophilia, where he defined the Biophilia Hypothesis as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”. More recently, Richard Luov breathed new life into this idea by referring to it as “nature deficit disorder”.
But this book is more than a personal journal and more than just homework. In addition to advice and information for how to deal with mental health issues, it is candid and accessible and, at times, amusing. Fans of Richard Mabey’s popular book, Nature Cure, and Kate Bradbury’s lovely and often introspective The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, will find much to ponder in this memoir. The book also includes exquisitely beautiful pen-and-ink illustrations by artist, Jo Brown.
Although Mr. Harkness (and his birds) are British, mental health issues -- like birds -- respect no boundaries. Whether you enjoying bird watching or wildlife photography or just being in nature, this book provides a useful examination for how these quiet interests can bolster and support your mental and emotional wellbeing. Further, this uplifting and insightful book will provide inspiration and new ideas to mental health professionals and much-needed comfort and hope to everyone struggling with mental health issues.
Joe Harkness has written his Bird Therapy blog for the last three years. His writing has appeared in Birdwatch magazine and in the literary journal, The Curlew, amongst others. Mr. Harkness recorded three ‘Tweets of the Day’ for BBC Radio 4. He works as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator and has worked with vulnerable groups for nine years. He lives in Norfolk.
There's a clear connection between the way your brain thinks and the way your body feels. Just like you can use your body to reduce your psychological distress, you can also use your mind to improve your body.
Simply changing the way you think and taking charge of what occupies your mind, can improve your physical health and well-being. While positive thinking won't cure everything, a healthy mindset is a key component to a healthy body.
Here are seven ways you can use your mind to promote physical health:
1. Make Your Treatments More Effective By Expecting Them to Work
Countless studies show the placebo effect influences the effectiveness of treatment. If someone tells you a pill will cure your headache, you're likely to find the treatment helpful--even if the pill was a sugar pill.
Whether you're trying physical therapy for a bad knee, or you're seeing a chiropractor for pain in your back, your belief that those treatments will work may be more effective than the treatment themselves. So before you undergo any kind of treatment, think about all the reasons the treatment is likely to help.
2. Sleep Better By Writing in a Gratitude Journal
If you're struggling with insomnia, a gratitude journal might be the best cure. Several studies have linked gratitude to better quality and longer lasting sleep. Identify three things you're grateful for and write them in a gratitude journal before you go to bed. Conjuring up feelings of thankfulness right before you fall asleep will increase the chances you'll get a good night's rest.
3. Live Longer By Focusing On Your Purpose in Life
Feeling like you have a sense of purpose could actually increase the length of your life. Studies consistently show people who believe their lives are meaningful are more likely to live healthier, longer lives.
Whether your work gives you a purpose, or you find meaning as a volunteer, make sure whatever you're doing matters. Feeling like you have a reason to get out of bed every day might be the secret to longevity.
4. Be Optimistic and Boost Your Immunity
Several studies have shown that optimistic people are less likely to get sick. For decades, many researchers thought the boost in immunity stemmed from the fact that optimistic people were more likely to take care of their health.
But, more recent studies have shown that a hopeful outlook is actually what influences immunity. Looking on the bright side makes you less likely to get a cold or infection because optimism keeps your immune system performing at its peak.
5. Slow Aging with Meditation
Meditation provides a generous buffer against the harmful effects stress can have on the body. Numerous studies have shown meditation slows the rate of cellular aging.
Not only might meditation help you stay looking youthful, but it could help you ward off age-related disease. Researchers suspect teaching children to meditate could provide lifelong benefits. But no matter what age you are, it's never too late to gain some health benefits from meditation.
6. Build Muscle by Imagining Yourself Working Out
What if you could get buff by imagining yourself lifting weights? Well, researchers have found that mental imagery can help you gain muscle without lifting a finger.
One study in particular found that people who imagined themselves working out were able to gain 24% more muscle strength. People who actually lifted weights saw better results, but the research shows mental training can provide some serious changes to muscle mass.
7. Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease by Laughing
If you want to build a healthier heart, think about something funny. Research shows laughter decreases stress hormones, increases 'good' cholesterol, and reduces artery inflammation.
Perhaps laughter really is the best medicine. And the best news is, the positive effects of laughter last 24 hours.
The Power of Your Mind
Your mind can be your best asset or your worst enemy. Learn how to train your brain to help your body perform at its peak.
Everyone has the ability to build mental strength. With practice, mental exercises could be the key to living a longer, happier life.
SOOTHING EMOTIONS WILL GUIDE YOU WITH RESEARCH, ARTICLES, AND INTERACTIVE TOOLS TO HELP YOU ON THE JOURNEY OF NAVIGATING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH.
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