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Practicing Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Therapy) to Become More Healthy and Productive

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Practicing Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Therapy) to Become More Healthy and Productive

Have you heard of the new lifestyle practice called Shinrin-Yoku? Translated into English as ‘forest bathing’ or ‘forest therapy’, Shinrin-Yoku was invented in Japan in the early 1980s. The practice was proposed by the government as a means to help people relax their minds and improve mental health.  

Though the name includes the term bathing, Shinrin-Yoku mostly involves walking in a forested area. That’s it. There’s no specific intention required for the walk. All you have to do is to keep walking slowly while taking into the senses the environment around you, like the sights, smells and sounds.

Benefits Of Shinrin-Yoku

Forest bathing is said to offer a number of benefits ranging from reduced blood pressure to increased attention span in children with ADHD. Below, we look at five such benefits of Shinrin-Yoku.

Decreased Blood Pressure

If you have issues with varying blood pressure, then a little forest bathing is what you need. It has been discovered that just looking at trees for a few moments has a positive effect on a person’s health, helping them calm down and lower blood pressure. 

In addition, the two stress-related hormones, adrenaline, and cortisol, are observed to reduce from such activities. Frequent trips to forested areas also minimize a person’s state of confusion, depression, and anxiety.

Boost Immune System

As protection from insects, plants emit a chemical called phytoncides, which has antifungal and antibacterial properties. In a densely forested region, the environment will be permeated by these. As such, if you pass through such a space or spend a good deal of time there, you will inhale these chemicals. 

As a reaction, the body will start producing a certain kind of white blood cells, called the Natural killer (NK) cells, which has the ability to kill viruses and cancer infected cells in your body. It is estimated that just 2 nights of Shinrin-Yoku is sufficient for about 30 days of increased NK activity in the body.

Patient Recovery

If you are recovering from an illness, then a short walk in a forested region can definitely do some good. People in a hospital usually suffer from multiple emotional issues including fear, stress, anxiety, and so on. 

This can slow down the recovery process. Just having a green view of the outside is sufficient enough to cause fewer postsurgical complications, while lowering the reliance on painkillers. And if you are capable of going out to a nearby park, then all the better.

Children With ADHD

Another group that can significantly benefit from Shinrin-Yoku are children who suffer from issues like ADHD and similar problems. Usually, such children have very low attention spans and are unable to learn anything properly. 

However, spending time amidst natural greenery has been seen to mitigate such issues to a good extent. As such, forest bathing should definitely be on your to-do list if you have a child with ADHD.

Boost Creativity

Have you ever felt stuck in life, unable to ignite creativity? If yes, forest bathing is highly recommended. This activity is said to free up mind, and open it up to newer possibilities. As such, you might suddenly get a spark of inspiration right in the middle of a trail. 

Plus, the reduced stress levels also help in clearing the mind from unwanted thoughts, allowing creative ideas to come forth more easily, as well as negative thoughts to flow out.

The Research

Practicing Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Therapy) to Become More Healthy and Productive

Many research reports have come out that validate the benefits offered by Shinrin-Yoku. A 2010 study conducted in the Chiba Prefecture in Japan enlisted a few test subjects, asking them to walk 20 minutes in a forest park. 

The researchers found that the subjects had experienced lower stress levels when they were in the forest. In addition, their hemoglobin count was also lower. The forest mainly consisted of Oak trees.

Another study published in 2011 looked at the effects of forest bathing on the human body. They compared the results of walking in a city and walking in a forest and found that the latter helped reduce blood pressure to a good extent. 

In addition, dopamine levels were also observed to have decreased from forest bathing.

Tips To Keep In Mind When Doing Shinrin-Yoku

There are no strict rules for practicing Shinrin-Yoku. After all, the only thing you have to do is to enter a forest and walk through it. However, if you follow the tips below, then you will definitely have a better experience.

Practicing Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Therapy) to Become More Healthy and Productive
  • Remember that this is not a hike. You don’t have to walk fast towards some goal. There is no goal. Just relax and walk anywhere you want. Use all your senses while walking through the forest, whether it is sight, smell, touch, or hearing.  
  • Do not take your smartphone, camera, or any other such devices with you for the walk. Leave all gadgets behind. Since the goal of the walk is to concentrate on yourself and the environment, these devices act as an unnecessary distraction.
  • If you are going in a group, keep conversations to a minimum. Better still, don’t talk at all. At least for the few minutes, you spend for the walk, remain silent and learn to savor the silence. And then after you’re done with the walk, you can consider talking to the other members of the group.
  • If you find a location to sit for a few minutes, then go for it. Close your eyes and meditate with deep breaths. Similarly, if something gets your attention, stop and watch it closely until you are satisfied with it. Remember – there is no hurry.
  • Take your most comfortable shoes for the Shinrin-Yoku. It should not be too light that pebbles and other rocks discomfort your feet. Nor should it have too thick a base that the entire shoe feels heavy.

Final Thoughts

So, if you have been feeling mentally stressed out lately, try to take some time off from work and head over to the nearest forest for a few hours. Walkthrough the trees, absorbing the fresh air, feeling everything around you, and you will definitely feel refreshed and more energetic. 

If you are not sure whether you can do the Shinrin-Yoku properly by yourself, consider getting in contact with a forest bathing guide, and they will definitely help you get the best experience from the walk.

Health

7 Simple Ways Traveling Can Help Improve Mental Wellness

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7 Simple Ways Traveling Can Help Improve Mental Wellness

Do you feel as if you are stuck in a rut?

From family to work issues, daily chores, illnesses, maintaining your home, and a hundred different concerns, the daily grind could sometimes take a toll on your well-being. 

Having a change of scenery or taking a vacation can already do wonders for your mental health. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that traveling provides several benefits to your mental health. 

Taking a trip could change your life for the better. In this post, we will talk about the seven simple ways of how traveling can improve your mental health:

1. You’ll discover more about yourself

Traveling helps you re-assess and re-invent your life. It helps you boost your thinking in a way that you never thought of. 

Overcoming the challenges that come with traveling brings about a feeling of independence and a sense of control in your life. For instance, choosing which luggage brands to purchase from.

Going out of your comfort zone helps you build resilience, which allows you to learn how to cope with different situations. 

Moreover, traveling and achieving these goals can make the day-to-day stuff back home easier to handle. Spending the time to fend for yourself while traveling, like bargaining in a local market or catching public transportation in a foreign country, could also lead to positive personal outcomes that build up your confidence.

Not to mention that it improves your overall life satisfaction. 

2. It helps you increase creativity

According to Adam Galinsky from Colombia Business School, a key to increasing your creativity is to immerse and engage yourself in the local culture.

This open-mindedness helps you embrace various situations and could even influence your outlook in life. Moreover, because creativity is directly linked to neuroplasticity (or the brain’s ability to form new neural connections) it means that our brains are often sensitive to change.

New environments and experiences could influence creativity. Having your own creative outlet is one of the best ways to practice mindfulness. Also, the more you’re able to put this into good use, the better.

Immersing yourself in unfamiliar sights and sounds when traveling boosts your creativity.

3. You’ll be familiarized about other cultures

Traveling allows you to navigate, communicate with others, and to learn about different cultures. 

Whether you are asking for directions in a foreign country while bringing your luggage, meeting new people and new friends, or immersing yourself in new cultural experiences, you will learn more about the world as you try to get around. 

4. Makes you mentally resilient

Traveling and living somewhere exciting yet intimidating at the same time could toughen you up mentally and emotionally.

When you face challenges in an unfamiliar environment, it forces you to learn and adapt to something that is beyond your comfort zone. This helps you be more flexible on things and emotionally strong.

Delayed or canceled flights, and last minutes plans? Traveling helps you deal with bigger issues in life, with more patience and grace.

5. It gives you a change of scenery

If you have been struggling to find motivation at work lately or just ended a tough relationship, hitting the pause button and going somewhere is one of the best ways to restore yourself. 

Although staying in a familiar place could bring a sense of comfort to others, it could also make you physically and mentally trapped. 

Changing your daily routine and going somewhere will help stimulate your mind, improve your overall happiness levels, and could make you feel as if you are doing something worthwhile with your time. 

6. It disconnects you from daily stress

As mentioned previously, many people travel because they want to break away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Traveling helps you rejuvenate, destress, and recharge. That way, when you’re back from your holiday, you can put forward more great ideas and lots of enthusiasm. 

Traveling also helps you take off your mind from stressful situations, leading to more cortisol levels, and making you feel more calm and content. It also helps you focus on the present moment. 

Having a list of fun and exciting activities can add novelty and change in the form of new sights, sounds, and experiences. 

7. Traveling increases happiness

Booking accommodation, finding the perfect travel destination, and packing your bags are proven to make you happy. 

In fact, a study conducted by Cornell University found out that the process of planning and anticipating a trip increases happiness levels more than the process of obtaining new material possessions such as a new car or clothes. 

The time to relax and do what you want on your trip significantly reduces your stress and increases your overall happiness as well. 

So there you have it. After you have read about the wonderful things traveling does to your mental health, it is time to do your research and plan your next trip!

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Health

4 Benefits of Doing Yoga Regularly

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Yoga is an excellent place to start a healthy lifestyle if your life has been quite a bit sedentary for some time. Even with health conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis, you can safely practice Yoga. With multiple types and forms of Yoga to choose from, you have the freedom to practice whatever suits you. Regular Yoga can help you become more robust and flexible by making it easier for you to do other exercises like dancing, walking, or swimming.

Moreover, it is also a great way to stay energetic and flexible. Your general alertness increases, and there is also a profound positive impact on mental health with Yoga. 

With regular practice, you will gradually notice overall well-being and a deep sense of inner peace. Yoga frees you of all the worry, stress, anxiety that bogs you down and lets you proceed towards a more holistic and spiritually fulfilling self-development.

Let’s take a look at four of the obvious benefits that come from practicing Yoga.

Cardiovascular

  • Improves poor blood circulation
  • Reduces high blood pressure
  • Reduces oxidative stress
  • Reduces body-wide inflammation, contributing to healthier hearts

Orthopedic

  • Improves mobility in people with lower back pain
  • Reduces risk for injury
  • Allows better coping with arthritis
  • Can slow down the advent of osteoporosis
  • Improves the condition of people with limited mobility

Stress-Anxiety-Depression

  • Reduces headaches
  • Helps you to have better control over tension or stress
  • Reduces anxiety levels and depression
  • Can help you get better sleep, improves insomnia
  • Relaxes your body
  • Increases overall mental and physical stability

Lung

  • Improves breathing patterns
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Improves lung output and pulse rates
  • Helps people with asthma, to control definitive symptoms

Final Comments

Yoga is an excellent way to heal your body, both physically and mentally. It allows you to have the perfect blend of de-stressing and exercise in a simple yet effective way.

A healthy body makes a healthy mind. Regular Yoga can help you achieve health and fitness. Moreover, daily practice brings in more discipline to your everyday life. Especially during these testing times of the COVID-19 pandemic, when we are all trapped in our homes, a regular fitness regime that is easy to follow is especially necessary.

The best part is that Yoga is trendy, and you can always find guidelines for the correct postures. With many materials and videos available online, you can start your fulfilling Yoga journey any moment you wish. So what’s stopping you today?

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Health

5 Activities to Help You Beat Stress

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5 Activities to Help You Beat Stress

We are getting more and more used to going about their days stressed out of our minds. We justify it as a side effect of working for our dreams. We find solace in the fact that eventually we will slow down and the stress will go away. We try to reason it with “our building years are supposed to be stressful.” Does it have to be though?

“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”

-Steve Maraboli

Everyone is stressed about something or the other – sure we can’t make it go away completely but we should learn how to deal with it better. Just because it is going to be a part of life, doesn’t mean we have to submit to it.

With increasing stress factors in every aspect of our lives, it is also important to learn about ways to beat stress. There are a lot of ways to help relax your body and mind and fight stress without having to go out of your way to do so. Some help you relax instantly and some are more of a long term solution to stress management.

5 Activities to Help You Beat Stress

As important it is to keep working, it is more crucial to work on ourselves because at the end of the day no amount of money or success can make up for sound health. You won’t be able to carry on long if you are stressed all the time, it will also make your work suffer. Here are some ways to help you relieve stress.

1. Go for a Walk

Walks are said to be excellent stress relievers for a number of reasons. Taking quick walks ais the simple way for many to get their thoughts in order. Taking a walk allows you to change your surroundings, the scenery, and lets you slip into a different frame of mind. If you do not have the privilege of leaving your premises for a walk – maybe you are at work – then walking around the office can do the trick too. 

5 Activities to Help You Beat Stress

There’s this lifestyle practice, known as Shinrin-Yoku, which originated in Japan. It translates to forest bathing or forest therapy. Though the name includes the term bathing, Shinrin-Yoku mostly involves walking in a forested area. That’s it. There’s no specific intention required for the walk. All you have to do is to keep walking slowly while taking into the senses the environment around you, like the sights, smells and sounds.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

-William James.

When I am in a scenario when I need to clear my mind – usually at home – and don’t have the privilege to go out, I put on some music and pace around my home. I call this my power walk. It lets me get my thoughts in order and also work up some sweat. It works for me. If you have a garden or park nearby, that’s just perfect for a quick walk.

2. Aromatherapy

5 Activities to Help You Beat Stress

Aromatherapy is one of the main ways to relieve stress that is used by the masses nowadays. Different scents target different brain wave activities, which is why people create different blends by mixing various fragrances depending on their needs.

Some scents focus on decreasing stress hormones in the body. They also help you feel relaxed, energized, and more present and in tune with your surroundings. There are many ways to do this – candles, essence sticks, diffusers, etc. These things create a perfect environment for meditation, relaxation, yoga. They give you an external stimulus to relax to.

3. Art

5 Activities to Help You Beat Stress

Art, or the act of creating art, is said to be relaxing; it is also the reason why adult coloring books are getting more popular. You might have heard of adult coloring books, they are based on relieving stress, being mindful, relaxation, etc. 

It really doesn’t matter if you are good at it or not. The process is said to help soothe you and get you in a rhythm that then helps relieve stress and anxiety – it is not supposed to help you create art. Drawing and painting can be difficult, but coloring isn’t – comparatively – which is why coloring is the most common form of art based stress reliever.

4. Redo Your To-Do Lists

5 Activities to Help You Beat Stress

Having a lot on your to-do lists is one of the leading reasons for stress for many people – to avoid this we need to learn the art of prioritization of tasks. If you are trying to squeeze in three days worth of work in one, then obviously you are going to feel stressed – which I have been guilty of doing in the past. 

This is when you should take a moment to take a step back and evaluate your situation. This will help you reduce your workload, this could be just the thing you need to get rid of the stressful feeling that has been clouding you. Having better time management skills always helps relieve some or maybe most of your stress.

5. Meditate

5 Activities to Help You Beat Stress

While talking about stress relievers, meditation is the first thing that comes to mind. How can I not talk about it when mentioning activities that help relieve stress. It helps you relax and if turned into a habit, then it helps you with lasting stress management. 

“There are times when we stop, we sit still. We listen and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper.”

-James Carroll

There are many types of meditation, based on what you want to focus on – whatever you need to work on the most should be your focus. You can repeat a mantra or a chant or focus on your breathing – to start sitting still, it can be difficult for people – or just practice mindfulness.

Final Thoughts

Self-care is at the base of doing things to beat stress. We often forget that it is very crucial to keep working towards your goals. The irony – of people forgetting to take care of themselves while working for their goals so that they could take care of themselves in the future – isn’t lost on me. 

“Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it.”

-Brian Tracy

When you are busy and working towards your dream, it is easy to forget about yourself and get tangled in stress. But, we have to keep reminding ourselves that nothing is as important as our well-being. Take this post as a reminder and run with it. Realizing you need to deal with your stress levels is you deciding to tackle the problem.

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