7  Reasons To Workout Outdoors

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Man is a part of nature and nature plays an impeccable role in the health and fitness levels of an individual. As mankind is slowly moving towards an enlightened, natural and holistic way of living, scientists are discovering wonderful health benefits of working out in nature. Although it is completely a personal preference, exercising outdoors is much more beneficial than exercising indoors.

Here are 7 reasons that will inspire you to workout outdoors –

  1. Boost in energy levels – During exercise the body undergoes aerobic stress and the higher level of oxygen outdoors helps to keep the body refreshed thereby fighting away any post exercise sluggishness.
  2. Quicker healing of post exercise muscle soreness – Due to the higher levels of oxygen outdoors, soreness in the muscles post exercise, gets healed considerably faster.
  3. Vitamin D boost – Since sunlight is the only natural source of vitamin D, working out outdoors will allow your skin to soak up more Vitamin D, resulting in better bone health.
  4. Higher mental alertness – It has been found that people who workout for at least 20 minutes outdoors have a greater amount of mental alertness and focus. Being in nature soothes our senses and improves our mental abilities.
  5. Helps you stick to your routine – People who workout outdoors are more likely to stick to their exercise routines because of the freshness and vitality outdoors.
  6. Lesser risk of being Obese – Nature drives the urge of playfulness and physical movements in man and hence, children and adults who spend more time outdoors are at a much lesser risk of being obese.
  7. And last but not the least, the fresh air, the sunlight, the open space and the scenery nurtures the human body in a much more holistic manner. 

Thus, working out in nature turns out to be much more beneficial than it’s indoor counterparts.

6 Ways To Become Mindful

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I look around and I see discontented, distracted and disturbed people all around. Even when I look into myself, I find instability and tensions; overwhelming thoughts of so much work that I need to accomplish during the day, the week, the year or may be my entire lifetime ahead. I hear people talk about only two things – regrets of the past and anticipations for the future. But isn’t there something that we are all losing in our constantly multi-tasking and “running after everything” attitude towards life? Yes, we are!

                          We are losing the “Present Moment”.

Mindfulness is the practice of conscious living in the present moment. It is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment without any judgements. It helps you to shift away your thoughts from the usual preoccupations towards an appreciation of the present moment and a larger perspective on life.

Practising mindfulness not only improves our mental health but also our physical health and hence, our overall wellbeing. Here are 6 ways to start cultivating mindfulness practice into our daily lives –

  1. Meditate – Take time to meditate. Meditation does not mean sitting under a tree like a monk waiting for enlightenment to strike you. Meditation is all about being quiet and focussing on your natural breathing. Yes, your thoughts may get distracted very easily. However, you must let go of all those thoughts without any judgement and bring yourself back to your focus. Breathe 🙂
  2. Observe – With all your love and gentleness, take time to observe all your bodily sensations, toe to head. Whether it is a slight itch or tingling, observe it and let it go without any judgement.
  3. Use your sensory organs – Notice what you see, hear, smell, touch or taste. Notice them without any judgements. I have personally experienced serenity using this technique. Each time my mind wanders, I focus on the sounds I can hear all around and try to distinguish them without any judgement (whether it is the chirping of birds, water trickling down or the sound of the air around).
  4. Accept your emotions – This is an important skill to be learnt – the art of accepting your emotions each moment and letting go of them without any judgement. Each time an emotion comes to you, notice it, name it (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Frustration, Nervousness or Regret), accept it and then let it go 🙂
  5. Cope with your urges – We all have our individual urges, cravings, obsessions and destructive behavioural patterns. Learn to recognise them, notice how your body feels as the craving enters it and then replace it with knowledge and wiser thoughts that will subside them.
  6. Be gentle and kind – Almost every moment we are judgemental about anything and everything in our lives. Not judging is a big part of mindfulness practice and a key source to happiness and contentment. Being kind, gentle and gracious with ourselves and with everything we experience or everyone around should be the essence of who we are.

Remember, practising these techniques may not seem relaxing in the beginning. But over time, it will not only lead you to a greater sense of physical and emotional wellbeing, but also to a calmer, wiser and a more stable YOU.

After all, we are all made of flesh,blood and bones and we are not going to be here for ever. So, let’s be kind and gentle towards ourselves, towards life and “Be Present” all the time 🙂

       

SLEEP – THE WONDER DRUG

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Let me start by asking you all a question (answer it to yourself or leave your answer in the comment box); “When was the last time that you slept really well?” and by “really well”, I mean :

  1. You went to bed at a reasonable hour in the night,
  2. You did not have to toss and turn around the bed feeling restless,
  3. You woke up feeling really fresh,
  4. You woke up feeling really charged up  and positive looking forward to tackle your day ahead.

If you are not a religious “sleeper”, I bet the answer to this question would be “I do not remember exactly when 😦

Who would not love a good night’s sleep! But then what has went wrong in our lives that relaxed sleeping has become such a difficult task? 

Sleep has a very a intricate relationship with our personal wellbeing. It is the “PAUSE” time of our daily lives, a time to stop thinking, working and just relaxing our bodies and mind. But today’s world and workaholic lifestyles have started to completely overlook the benefits of sleep and at some levels have, in fact, developed abusive sleep behaviours. A major population today considers sleeping less as a way of increasing their productivity, a way to get more work done in the 24 hours of a day.

The science of sleep is very deep and meaningful. Although during sleep your body is in a state of total physical rest, your brain performs several complex processes in this state. A healthy adult should get an average of 8-9 hours of sleep daily.

Let me guide you through the things one must know about sleep and the do’s and don’t that will lead you to a really refreshing sleep.

  1. Sleep is one of the most important health habits. It gives your body adequate time to rest. Help your skeletal and muscular system to relax.
  2. It is extremely essential for the nervous system. Sleep soothes your nerves and boosts their performance.
  3. Sleep has a very deep impact on your cognitive abilities. The brain performs several complex processes during sleep. Research has shown that it is during sleep that your brain processes the day’s events and restores energy in it’s cells for the day ahead.
  4. A 2013 research has shown that during sleep the brain clears out harmful waste proteins that build up between it’s cells. This may reduce one’s risk of having Alzheimer’s.
  5. Sleep has a direct relationship with one’s stress levels. People with poor sleep habits are at greater risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  6. Healthy sleep boosts your decision making abilities. It helps combat feelings of helplessness, depression and loneliness.
  7. Naps are a very essential part of a healthy lifestyle. They are scientifically proven to boost one’s mental alertness, memory and creativity.
  8. Naps helps our system in preventing burnout. It aids us in returning back to our daily work feeling refreshed.
  9. As mentioned in my previous article on “Understanding Ab Flabs”, getting 8-9 hours of sleep helps us in fighting the stress hormone CORTISOL that has direct relation to our body’s fat accumulation and metabolism.
  10. Most importantly, good sleep improves our mood and helps us to remain positive and fresh. It boosts the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates our mood, appetite and feelings of contentment. So you won’t get cranky, anxious, overwhelmed or easily distracted if you sleep well 🙂

Coming to the DO’s that will help you in getting good sleep:

  1.   Keep your bed clean with a neat and tidy light coloured bed-sheet.
  2.   Get a new pillow cover.
  3.   Fix on a pair of comfortable pyjamas or other night wear that makes you sleepy 🙂
  4.   Take a nice warm shower before going to bed.
  5.   Keep your bedroom clean, cool and dark.
  6.   Use aromatic candles and room fresheners with natural fragrances you are fond of.
  7.   Keep a check on your caffeine intake. Limit the consumption of caffeinated drinks to the first half of the day.
  8.   Lead an active lifestyle; walk and exercise daily.
  9.   Practice deep breathing before going to bed (Stop worrying about things and just relax).
  10. Listen to soft meditation music if you need to nap in between work or while travelling in-flight.

Another important point, keep all your electronic gadgets away from your bed. Your mind and body getting adequate rest is much more important than checking your email or FB / Twitter updates or chit-chatting with your friends over a group messenger. All of this can be done the next day. Time is the most precious of all resources and do not waste your bed time in other activities.

I hope, by now, I have helped you all understand the importance of sleep in our daily lives. However busy you might be or whatever are the troubles of your life, REMEMBER, sleep is the wonder drug that will help you live your life to it’s best 🙂

Rebooting Life

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One of the several things that we desperately crave for in life is ‘how to de-stress ourselves’ or rather keep save ourselves from getting stressed. STRESS…Oh, the word itself sounds so stressful! 😦 The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”. Sadly, this word has occupied a major portion of our lives today. We all feel stressed out to different proportions throughout the day. And the even sadder news is that we all have adapted to this tendency (or should I say habit) of ‘being stressed out’.

If we scan our lives carefully, we can easily find that most of these stressors of our life are self-made. We are seriously responsible for a major portion of the stresses that we suffer. Whether it is our inability to manage our time well or it is our perspective towards a particular situation, we are very much responsible for that bad and stressful mood we get into. We often allow situations in life to control us rather than us controlling them.

Life is a very precious gift and the very fact that we are living and breathing in this moment is the greatest of all joys. But why do we forget this so often until the loss of a loved one or a really tragic news hits us? Every single moment is precious. Why let stress get into our lives and divert our focus from living and make us feel miserable!

Let me share with you some thoughts that I want us all to remind ourselves, each time we get stressed and feel burnt-out; thoughts and actions that will help us every time we wish to reboot our lives and refresh our souls 🙂

  1. Focus on your breathing: There is nothing more relaxing than a few moments spent focusing just on our breath. Whenever you feel stressed out or tensed, pause your mind for a few seconds and simply focus on your breathing. This will help you in realising your own precious existence and the very fact that you are alive.
  2. Sleep well: Sleep has a very big impact on the way we behave towards different life situations. Our cognitive abilities are controlled by our sleep cycles to a large extent. Less or too less sleep impair our decision making abilities, feelings of self-content, self-worth and allows too many mood swings.
  3. Think systematically: Whenever you feel stressed out, sad or depressed, try to find out the root cause behind. Whether it is an unhealthy relationship, a dead end job, troubles in the family or a sudden health crisis; think about it systematically, figure out the best possible solution or the only solution it might have and start working upon it. Trust me, there’s no time in life to be wasted on emotional distress.
  4. Time management is life management: Learn to set your priorities and act accordingly. Effective time management requires constant self-examination. Both ‘a hurrying up all the time’ and ‘a lazing around’ attitude are unhealthy. What we need is a balanced attitude towards time and an ability to practice mindfulness, so that we are always focused on our present.
  5. Stay calm: A noisy mind can never help you figure out a solution. Practice how to stay calm. Always keep your head calm and mind focused.
  6. Change your perspective: When we learn to shift our perspective, we are able to see the silver lining in the darkest situations of life. Even when the worst tragedies hit life, it is only a change of perspective that will help us in overcoming the grief and moving ahead.
  7. Do the ‘positive self-talk’: Learning how to tame that voice in our head that always criticises us and gives us constant negative feedback about our actions and behaviours is a must. Each time negativity pops up it’s ugly head in our minds, we should wipe it out with positive self-talk. Whatever troubles you, do not forget to remind yourself of how amazing and unique you are and that you will definitely be able to make your way through the tough times.
  8. Take time to disconnect from technology and connect with your own self: Our hyper-connectivity with technology is a big stressor in our lives today. Constantly checking your Smart-phone, Email inbox, Facebook notifications, Twitter updates or Whatsapp conversations drains out (slowly but severely) a major portion of your mental energy and productivity. Keep fixed time slots for all these activities and make sure that everyday you get enough time to connect with your own self.
  9. Practice gratitude: Although I have written a complete article on this, I still can not help but mention the power of this practice again and again. Being grateful and practicing gratitude helps us develop a sunny positive attitude towards life.
  10. Listen to your inner voice: Intuition is always more powerful than intellect (if we learn how to listen to it carefully). Whenever your inner voice speaks, shut-up and listen. Never act against your conscience. It is your best mentor.

So, the next time you feel stressed out, try incorporating these thoughts and actions into your life. After all someone has rightly said; “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought after another.” 🙂

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