HealthWellness

People are operating like machines, placing value on their daily production and going haywire when missing a step. Even more unsettling is the fact that busy is the new black. If you’re not perceived as having too much on your plate, running from one meeting to the next, or working on multiple projects, society seems to question your drive and ability to keep up. Even complaining about being busy has become the auto-response to “how are you?” Technology is at the forefront of this fast-paced revolution. With the speed of information-collection comes the fragmentation of thought. With the power of being multiple places at once comes the fragmentation of feeling. Having technology at our fingertips has forced the fast-forward button down and turned the volume of clutter up.

“When you fail to live at the speed of life, you live at the speed of light.” For anyone wondering, that’s not a healthy pace at all. When we constantly speed through our days, we lose sight of what is around us, what is ahead, and sometimes even forget what has been pushing us forward all along.

Poet Mark Nepo sums it up best when he says, “It’s not about never speeding up again, but rather, being able to come back to a place of return. It’s about developing your own practice of return.” The good news is that developing your practice of return is free, beneficial to your well-being, and easy to find. Yoga and meditation have tried and true benefits, creating practices that center on breathing and making the mind less full – a luxury in today’s world. For the average busy bee, however, having to spend more time on a daily practice of rest and rejuvenation is the last thing on their mind. There are other easy options of rest that can boost energy and save time in the long run. It’s all about re-prioritizing the list of to-dos and making number one a chance to collect yourself.

Try spending 1-2 minutes sitting at your desk at work or in your dorm room before starting anything, to simply settle down. Step outside for some fresh air and in the stillness remind yourself that your mind and body deserve a break. Let yourself pause. Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times that “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.” It is as important as ever in this time and age to not only understand the need to slow down, but understand how helpful it can be. Just as memory is consolidated by sleep, our actions are affected by rest.

Time spent resting, gathering your thoughts, or even clearing your thoughts should be part of the modern day routine. When something unexpected happens, rest. When something hurtful happens, rest. When you are overwhelmed, rest. Even for a moment. Taking a break is not a sign of giving in to pressure, it’s a natural and restorative reaction to life.

Image: Life of Pix

HealthSkills

Every one of us has a tendency to get stressed or anxious; it is a part of human nature. A little bit of stress can actually be a great thing, but as humans we are usually inclined to over-indulge our emotions, even the nasty ones. However, appeasing one’s nerves can prove to be an arduous task. What I have found with my recent exploration of yoga, which I’m enrolled in at school as a gym credit, is that the “ocean breath” that yogis use when meditating and going through the motions of many of their moves is actually quite relaxing.

For example, I have struggled with being able to sleep on a normal schedule for a long time. I will stay up too late listening to music or watching television and those lyrics and story arcs plague my subconscious as I try to fall asleep. Recently, though, I started using Ujjahi breath – the formal term for “ocean breath”- to help focus myself and tire my mind late at night.

Ujjahi breath has been a staple in many forms of meditation and even in yogic positions of movement to help focus oneself on the task at hand. The reason it is nicknamed “ocean breath” is because the sound made when performing it resembles the sound of the crashing ocean waves. When practicing Ujjahi breath, inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose, and as the air passageway narrows and air moves the glottis, a rushing sound is created. There is no specific amount of time you are supposed to breathe for – leave that up to how much your diaphragm can take in and let out. However, try to make sure that your inhalations and exhalations are as equal in length as possible.

Ujjahi breath enables practitioners to maintain a set bodily rhythm, take in enough oxygen, as well as build up energy, and stay self-aware and grounded in yogic practices and in everyday life. So, if you feel as though you are struggling with keeping your cool, try this breath and hopefully begin to understand your body’s natural rhythms and needs.

Image: Unsplash

EducationHealth

Stress: it’s a way of life for most students. The ever-present nudging of worry against an unsteady conscience, the realization that there’s always something that hasn’t been accomplished or adequately prepared for.

Stress is not a pleasant state of being, yet it’s one of the most common in the world – everyone has felt that twisting in their gut at some point in their lives. Yet the world continues to function despite the pressure constantly bearing down on everyone. Sometimes, however, it can feel like a lot to cope with, but with practice and a few simple strategies, it’s much easier to handle.

First and foremost, throw procrastination in the trash – as soon as you’re rid of that rushed feeling you get when it’s midnight and OH MY GOD that paper is due in SIX HOURS, you’ll be a lot calmer.

Another strategy is to have something that you know will calm you down. It can be anything from working out to endlessly Googling acapella groups (that would be me). Of course there are the old favorites – get enough sleep or enjoy a snack.

If you keep these tips in mind, stress will slip away, and you’ll find yourself calmer, and happier.

How do you de-stress?

Image: Silvestri Matteo

InspirationSkills

Taking time to self-reflect is absolutely necessary in this day and age that can sometimes feel like a “societal factory.” Journaling is a great way to balance the mind.

Writing may not be everyone’s forte, and oftentimes people associate writing with school and essays. However, writing can be a wonderful emotional outlet as there are no rules and no structure. Do you keep a journal or diary? Better question: did you keep a journal or diary in the 3rd grade and have it stuffed in a dusty carton shoebox somewhere in your basement? Dig it out. Skim through the pages until you find something juicy. How refreshing was it to write in that diary every single night, and why did you do it? Was there something thrilling about burying your deepest darkest secrets through writing with a chance of them being found with a defining date on the top right hand corner? Or was it simply a cathartic experience to have some sort of emotional release when there was nobody to talk to? Discover the truth behind your diary-keeping and decide whether or not that can be helpful today.

Meanwhile, here are a few reasons why journaling can be a good idea:

  1. Studies Show It’s Healthy For Your Brain

Writing a journal entry each night has incredible benefits for your brain. Writing has been proven to clarify thoughts and feelings to allow you to reflect on yourself and your actions in a more detailed manner. It assists in facing your problems or dilemmas head-on and really analyze your emotions. More specifically, when you write about deep or dark emotions, you are essentially “letting it all out” and releasing some of the stress that has been built up. Studies also show that writing helps solve problems more successfully as it works the right hemisphere of the brain (or the creative/intuitive side) to explore other solutions to problems that you may be facing. This includes misunderstandings with others. Writing out the scenario will help you put yourself in their shoes and understand him or her, or even your point of view, a little better.

(source: http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/000721)

  1. Looking Back is Like Looking At a Masterpiece

There is nothing more valuable than the words you wrote a few years back. They capture your thoughts, beliefs, and point of views in a matter of pages. They even capture the tone of your feelings at the time by observing the hand writing – were there scribbles, were your letters written hard and bold, or were your words written in peaceful cursive? Notes on the side or casual “P.S’s” are sure to crack subtle smiles on your face. Writing things down is a great way to keep a personal time machine. Looking back five or even 10 years later can be a hypnotizing experience as you are glued to the pages until you reach the final blank page. Not only is it fascinating to go back in time, but it’s incredible to see how you have changed as a person. Life is a constant journey that molds the person you are, and every experience and interaction will somehow change your beliefs, points of views, and opinions. New information is received regularly and this only allows for a better, more informed mind. This observation of noting your changes will invite further development and greater reflection for the future.

  1. Organization and Sorting

Journals are a great way for you to keep track of your daily activities. In essence, they are great for keeping up with your goals, dreams, and current endeavors. They are also beneficial for logging your workouts, diet, and anything that is in progress when working on an objective. In addition, journals are a fabulous way to organize the jumble of thoughts that swerve through your mind on a daily basis. Life gets busy; we are all victims of this and sorting out your thoughts and ideas on paper may give a sense of release. Developments will surely arise from this because writing things down are almost like setting things down in stone.

  1. Discovery

Aside from jotting down the ideas and thoughts that have already crossed your mind, a journal or diary is the place where Chapter One begins. It can be the place where you let your creativity dive into a pool of new story plots, life plans, and side notes. The left side of the brain is already busy just by writing, therefore, this allows the right side of the brain to freely roam- allowing your brain to fully serve as a powerhouse of ideas whether it be artistically or philosophically.

  1. The Little Things

Journaling each night has more power than you may think. Take 10 minutes out of your day to write down the best things that have happened to you on that very day. This can include great things that happened to you as a result of luck or hard work, nice things people said or did, and simply the moments that brought positivity in your day and simply made you feel happy. Recognizing these small things has great power to them as they allow you to reflect and appreciate your life in another way. Many times a grave GPA-determining final exam can overlap that moment after lunch when a stranger reminded you with a sincere grin on his face that your shirt was on backwards. Maybe it made you laugh or made you want to hide in the corners of the Earth, but the sincerity of his smile and his good intentions made you see the light in humanity. Little things like this change the way you may view your days and essentially invite a more positive attitude toward your life.

Daily journaling is a fantastic habit to adopt. It brings many benefits to your overall health and well-being. It allows for deeper self-reflection and essentially calls for “me-time,” an essential mechanism that many people ignore today. Treating your journal as if it were your best friend may serve as a great way to purge away negative emotions and bring you to a better mental place. But finally, writing each night primarily does one thing: it allows you to grow. It allows you to develop into a better person and see the world with different eyes.

P.S. You can also start a gratitude journal.