Category: Self Improvement

5 Surprising Benefits Of Reading

Reading can be a relaxing way to while away an afternoon. Or it can be a grueling intellectual exercise. Whether you’re diving into the latest beach read or exploring the intricacies of James Joyce or Fyodor Dostoevsky, reading offers many cognitive benefits. Take a look at the surprising ways that reading can improve your mind and your life.

1. More brain connections. 

Your brain has more neurons than the number of stars you can see in the sky at night. When you learn anything, your brain makes connections between the neurons, and each neuron can have thousands of connections. As you develop and use these connections, they become stronger, and your brain learns how to think more effectively.

Top 5 Ways to Make Money on Facebook
Top 5 Ways to Make Money on Facebook

Reading creates more connections between your neurons. While reading, your brain activity increases, but brain connections also increase in the days after you read. This makes your brain more elastic and more effective. In other words, you learn while you read, but reading also helps to create a brain that is more receptive to learning in general.

2. Stress reduction. 
The reason reading feels relaxing is because it is. If someone reads for 30 minutes, their blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels go down. In fact, research indicates that reading helps to reduce stress just as much as yoga or humor.

That doesn’t mean you should read instead of exercising or laughing. It just means that reading can be a critical component of a healthy lifestyle. Pick up a funny book and laugh along the way — then, you’ll get the stress reduction benefits of both reading and humor. Or read a funny book while in a yoga pose and triple your dose of stress-reducing fun.

3. Knowledge enhancement

If you want to learn about anything, there’s probably a book out there that can help you. You can read about everything from world history to cooking or training a hawk, and a million points in between. But even if you just read fiction, you can still learn about different people or different time periods. You can also get a lot of insights into human behavior.

4. Increased empathy

You don’t have to pick up heavy tomes full of weighty subjects like science and history to get cognitive benefits from reading. Even light fiction offers a lot of benefits. In particular, when you dive into a different world, you get to know people and places that are different from the world around you. This helps to improve your emotional intelligence. As you learn more about how different people engage with the world, you will expand your empathy and compassion.

5. Expanded vocabulary

Regardless of what you read about, you will likely learn new words or new ways to use old words. This is especially true if you read about topics you don’t know much about, read high literature or read books from different time periods. Generally, because the words are used in context, you don’t necessarily even have to look them up. You’ll essentially absorb them and their meanings due to natural language processing.

Want to learn more about the benefits of reading? Then, open a book and dive in. You’ll learn more, improve your brain, and potentially even live longer.

5 Fundamentals of Ageing Well

It seems that as you get older, you tend to feel your age more and more. We start to experience sore knees and backs, might have some trouble remembering small details and more. These are signs of aging, and the more of these side effects you feel at an early age, the harder things will be when you continue aging. It’s never too late (or too early) to get started on preparing your body for aging. If you want to make sure you’re living your best life into your 50s and beyond, follow these five fundamentals.

5. Avoiding Vices

When you see someone that appears to be much older than they actually are, your first thought might turn to smoking or drinking. It’s perfectly natural to think this way as these vices have shown to have negative effects in the aging process. This is especially true for your skin when it comes to smoking and your organs overall from either vice. Blood vessels contract when smoking or drinking, causing an aged appearance and can even make it so that your skin doesn’t heal properly.

4. Healthy Skin

Of course, smoking and drinking severely affects your skin, but those aren’t the only things you need to be doing to keep your skin healthy as you age. When you’re out in the sun, always make sure to use caution and bring along sunscreen. Skin cancer is among the most common, and while it’s also among the most treatable, you don’t want to roll the dice. Moisturizing your skin is also vital, especially if you want to look younger and healthier.

3. Active Brain

Among the most obvious signs of aging is the brain’s function and how it can be easier to forget things or lose focus. Because of this, you want to make brain health a priority by eating foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids and cutting out saturated fats. Also, make sure that your brain is stimulated on a daily basis. This can include fun activities such as crosswords, sudoku and more to keep you sharp as a tack.

2. Whole Foods

There is a lot of processed food in the average person’s diet these days because it’s easier to pick up and eat. However, you should be focusing on whole foods and a well rounded diet to maintain your overall health as you age. Foods such as bananas, beans, carrots, cherries and more will help get you all the fiber, protein, and other nutrients that your body needs. Try skipping the fried foods and beer whenever possible, too.

1. Regular Exercise

One of the most obvious signs of aging is when you start to feel aches and pains on a consistent basis. You might also start to lose your mobility. This is why it’s important to spend as much of your life as you can getting regular exercise. Light exercise like walking 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day is great for your muscles and will reduce your skeletal aging. For those that want something lower in impact, light swimming will do the trick while getting you a full body exercise and boosting cardio.

5 Fundamentals Of Dressing For Your Age

Picture in your head quickly what you think the average 25 year old man dresses like, then picture a 60 year old woman. These two are wearing completely different outfits in your mind, aren’t they? There’s a certain stereotype that our brain’s develop when it comes to how people should dress at a certain age and gender. That stereotype, however, seems to be fading with every generation. Now, there isn’t a set rule in terms of how you should dress at any given age, but there are still some fundamentals to follow if you want to look your best. Here are those key fundamentals to keep in mind.

5. Button Down All The Time

No matter what age you are, a button up shirt is always going to be in style. How you wear the shirt, though, can really differ depending on your age. If you’re on the younger side and are going for a more casual look, keep the button down untucked. If you’re older and more mature (and in a business setting), you’ll want to keep it tucked. Needless to say, your closet should have plenty of button down shirts as they’re versatile for any occasion.

4. Tears Are For Kids

Remember when you were in high school or college and a lot of your shirts and pants had rips, tears or were acid washed because it was the ‘in’ style? Some of these clothes have even come pre-ripped for convenience. Once you hit adulthood (or at least finish college), it’s time to retire those types of clothes, unfortunately. Sure, some celebrities that are trying to appear youthful can pull it off a little bit, but if you’re in your 50s, it just doesn’t look right. You can still dress in a way that makes you look younger without the tears.

3. Once Your Old Enough, Go Wild

People hit a certain age where there’s not really a focus on fashion, but there should be. In terms of how people perceive your fashion choices, the older you are, the more wild you can get with what you’re wearing. Instead of relegating yourself to suspenders and other articles of clothing that are stereotyped toward the older crowd, start experimenting with what makes you stand out. Just look at Iris Apfel, a centenarian who was an interior designer for the White House. “You have to dress for yourself before you dress for your age,” she said.

2. Easy on the Makeup

When you’re younger, you can tend to wear a lot of makeup and it can be tempting to keep wearing more as you get older to cover up signs of aging. However, it looks more natural to go lighter on the makeup when you age. Some fashion experts have said that older people who wear too much makeup look like they’re still kids that got into their mother’s makeup collection and started experimenting.

1. Know How to Accessorize

There are certain fashion accessories that simply work better depending on your age. Younger adults will want to focus more on accessories that include real gems and gold, while older people can pull off larger pieces of jewelry that might not even be real. Hats are another big thing, as they can make you look much older depending on the size, so you want to find the right fit for your style.

5 Positive Psychology Principles To Increase Your Happiness

Happiness can be hard to find in today’s society with mental health problems coming to the forefront and global issues affecting more and more people every day. Because of this, one major survey asked people if they were truly happy. In the United States, only around one-third said that they are truly happy…and that was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic. So what can we do to make ourselves happier? Here are five positive psychology principles that you can use to increase your happiness.

5. Love Yourself

Throughout your life, there are going to be people that you despise, people that you love, and people that you’re completely indifferent one. The one person that you must have an opinion on (and a good one at that) is yourself. This doesn’t mean you have to be a full on narcissist and think that you’re the best and smartest person in the world. It just means that you have to practice self love. Know your worth, realize that you deserve to love and to be loved, and that you’re beautiful both inside and out.

4. Do What You’re Good at and Love

Have you ever heard the old phrase, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life?” It’s a common saying because it’s true. Those that might focus their entire careers on something that they don’t love, but are very good at, might not find happiness in chasing money. While what you love doing might not pay the bills, it’s important to at least keep it as a hobby that you actively do to maintain your happiness. If something like accounting is a true passion of yours, though, then you really struck gold.

3. Get Out More

These days, it can be more and more difficult to meet new people and create relationships that last. Perhaps it’s because we’ve become too focused on the technology of our era, but real in-person relationships are still paramount. Technology has allowed us to keep living without stepping out of our comfort zone, but you should still be doing that on a near daily basis, according to psychologists. This helps to give you a real world view, and will boost your overall happiness as you develop friendships.

2. Always a Silver Lining

Bad things are going to happen in life, and there’s zero way of avoiding that. How you deal with these things happening, though, is what can define your happiness. No matter what this negative change in your life is, it’s important to find a silver lining and make the most of the situation. “Even sorrow has its silver lining, as the emotion that pours forth reminds us of our capacity to love, and to be loved,” wrote “Finding Fatherhood” author Rob Kozak.

1. Remember What Makes You Happy

The famous saying from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” says that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” and that’s absolutely true. Every day, try to think about the things that make you happy. Write it down in a journal, say it in the mirror, it doesn’t matter, just make sure that your feelings are expressed, starting with “I’m happy today because…”

What is Walking Meditation

Because of the way society is set up now, making sure that you’re walking enough on a daily basis can be difficult. Since we’re tied to our desks, have very little free time and live in cities that don’t allow much for walking peacefully, it can be hard to fit in a good walk. After all, the average American is only getting around 3 to 4,000 steps per day, falling well short of the 10,000 step recommendation set by the Center for Disease Control. Many researchers have said, though, that getting 7 to 8,000 is the sweet spot. Make sure you get the most of those steps, however. To do so, try walking meditation. Not only is it great for your physical health, but also your mental health.

What exactly is walking meditation and where did it come from? The original form of walking meditation came from China hundreds of years ago, with practitioners walking around a room with one hand clenched into a fist while the other hand is covering. In between each breath, a step is taken, and the speed of these breaths and steps is completely up to the person meditating. Some prefer to have very deliberate steps for full relaxation while others make an exercise out of meditating.

You don’t have to limit yourself to just one single room, either. If you want to try walking meditation for yourself, try to find somewhere outside that’s quiet. A place like a hiking trail is a good location, or really anywhere that allows you to get in touch with nature. The practice remains mostly the same no matter your location. You’ll want to walk a handful of steps while holding your breath, making sure that each step has you placing your heel on the ground first and then gradually shifting the weight so that the toes are last to leave the ground. You should be able to feel the weight shift in your feet.

After your determined amount of steps (or whenever you feel most comfortable for full relaxation), pause and stand still, breathing in and out as much as you want. Most that perform walking meditation will go back in the direction they came from after stopping and breathing, though you can continue to move forward if you wish. Either way, make sure that your focus is fully on your body and the world surrounding you. Feel the sensations in your thoughts from the weight on your foot to the balance you’re obtaining with each step.

You don’t need to spend all afternoon doing your meditation, as even just a few minutes can bring a lot of benefits. Studies have shown that walking meditation has been linked to a lowered chance of anxiety, healthier blood pressure and bones, as well as blood sugar control. When your mind and body are at ease, the health benefits are endless. 

The late Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh was a notable supporter of walking meditation and lived to be 95 years old before passing away in 2022. “WYou have feet, and if you don’t make use of them it’s a loss and a waste,” he said. “Someone is telling you now so that in the future you cannot say, ‘No one told me that it was important to enjoy using my feet.’”

The Surprising Benefits of Poetry

Poetry is so old that even the best historians aren’t quite sure just how far back it goes. Predating recorded history, poetry has been a great way for us to express ourselves through written and spoken word while becoming the backbone for what would become modern music. Simply put, poetry is beautiful and in modern times we tend to underestimate its value. Poetry isn’t just something fun to listen to or write, but it also has a slew of benefits in your life. Here are some of the surprising benefits that you get from poetry.

5. Stimulates the Brain

Have you ever gotten goosebumps from listening to a really good song that resonated with you? The exact same thing happens when we listen to or read poetry. It turns out that the stimulation that you get from reading poetry is great for your brain health, as the right hemisphere is triggered. This can help to improve your overall cognitive function, including memory, in your part of the brain that may get bogged down with the monotony of life. Not only that, but poetry can actually help to improve your intelligence.

4. Time to Relax

For the same reasons that poetry helps to stimulate your brain, it also helps you to relax. Studies have shown that poetry is a natural way to reduce stress and promote sleep. Because of this, poetry is being used in high stress areas such as centers for those that have fought in war, as well as hospitals. Even reading your poetry to others can induce a feeling of stress, but once you’ve gotten up there and shared your poems, you’ll feel less anxious and stressed overall.

3. Expand Your Worldview

We don’t often get to see the views of someone else on the other side of the world. Obviously, we can do that with an autobiography or something similar, but it can be too long for the average person. Because of that, poetry is an easily digestible way to understand the way the world and other cultures work. Try reading poetry from other countries and you’ll feel more cultured and aware of others’ situations.

2. Ease Suffering

It seems that poetry is there for us when we need it the most, with it being the go-to for those that are going through trauma such as the death of a loved one. There is likely a poem that deals with exactly what you’re going through in life, and it helps you to find something that’s relatable and make things easier. Psychiatry professor Dr. Norman Rosenthal said that after moving to another country, he found a poem that helped and wanted to see if there were more. “I found many others that did,” he said.

1. Language Learning

One of the best ways to learn your own native language as a child is through poetry, and it’s also among the easiest to learn a new language. Poetry not only teaches you about sentence structure, but also gives you words to use that you may not have known before. Companies that teach people new languages often use poetry, including Babbel. “Parsing through and digesting a poem can be a more bite-sized activity,” the company said, noting that it’s easier than starting a book that will go unfinished.

5 Powerful Ingredients For Amazing Hair

All of us want to have better hair, even if it’s already close to perfect. Of course, there are expensive treatments and surgeries out there that you can do to get yourself that movie star hair, but there are plenty of cheaper at-home ways you can get a healthy head of hair. Some of them are all natural and you can make them into mixes yourself (while also smelling great). If you want to try for yourself, here are the ingredients that you should be focusing on for amazing hair.

5. Honey

When it comes to just about any aspect of your health, honey seems to be one of the most beneficials things out there. Even without eating it, honey can help to promote hair growth while leaving it strong and shinier. There’s a reason why honey is used as an ingredient in so many shampoos and conditioners, as it moisturizes your scalp and both smells and feels amazing. Try mixing a half cup of honey with a quarter cup of olive oil for best results for your scalp.

4. Castor Oil

This versatile vegetable oil is packed with essential fatty acids that will allow your hair to grow much thicker than it would on its own. The anti-inflammatory benefits of castor oil will make it so that your hair follicles are getting the nutrients that they need, and this fatty acid is called ricinoleic acid, which is what castor oil is almost completely made from. Dermatologist Dr. Nikki Hill explains that when used, castor oil “increases the flow of oxygen-rich and nutrient-rich blood” to your roots.

3. Aloe

Thinking of aloe vera, you tend to think of what it can do if you’ve suffered from a sunburn. You can also get sunburnt on your scalp, and aloe vera will help with that. Even if you don’t have a sunburn, aloe vera is packed with vitamins and nutrients that promote scalp health and is used in many different shampoos since it helps with blood circulation without any negative side effects. So whether you’re looking to grow your hair or cut down on greasiness, aloe vera is always a great option.

2. Charcoal

People are starting to learn in recent years that charcoal isn’t just something used for grilling food, but also a great way to treat your hair and scalp. Charcoal absorbs all of the nasty stuff that can fester on your scalp and that detoxification makes it much easier for your hair to grow thicker. Perhaps more than any other ingredient, charcoal does a great job at taking away potential greasiness and can be used on any hair texture.

1. Coconut Oil

We’ve already touched on some vegetable oils, but none pack quite the same punch as coconut oil, which is why you see it so frequently in shampoos; and it’s not just for the smell. Coconut oil is used to treat just about any hair ailment, including dandruff, broken hair, and more. These have even been backed by studies over the years, and it’s thanks to coconut oil being packed with lauric acid that prevents protein loss in your hair.

5 Personal Development Principles To Help You Excel In Your Career

There was once a time where you would go into the job market, get an entry level position with a company and then spend the rest of your working years with that company slowly moving up the ladder. Things are far different in today’s society, though, as people are bouncing from company to company thanks to advanced networking and new higher paying opportunities. You have to have a certain mindset to excel in your career to get those opportunities, and here are five personal development principles that will help you along the way.

5. You Have to Leave the Comfort Zone

Have you ever met someone that has been in the same job position for years and years, not wanting to leave because they’re comfortable? If they’re truly happy and don’t want to spend more hours at work, then that’s completely fine. If you’re someone that wants to excel and advance in your career, though, you can’t get stagnant. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone. Try things that you normally wouldn’t do at work to get that experience and notoriety that will set you apart.

4. Failure Will Happen

While ideally we might think that the path to career success is a gradual hill, it’s more like a roller coaster at a county fair. There are going to be so many ups and downs in your professional life that it can leave you dizzy. Accept that failures are going to happen at various points in your life, and it will make things much easier to handle when they do happen. Remember that when one door closes, another door opens. Many have been distraught with what was a perceived failure in their careers that ended up being a blessing.

3. Be Present

Some of us tend to drift through life mentally, and our average work day is no exception. People can lose focus quickly and start daydreaming or simply stare off into space. To change this, you’ll want to be mentally present at all times when working. Observe where you are and what you’re doing. Remember to breathe and take in the moment while actively listening to what others are saying. People will notice right away if you’re present, and this will help your career more than you know.

2. Assess Your Time

Though it doesn’t have a price tag on it, time is the most valuable thing in your life. You don’t know how much of it you have on this Earth, so it’s important to use it wisely. Fairly often, you should assess how you’re spending your time. Do you spend too much of it procrastinating or not enough time getting rest? Try to break down your time to the best of your abilities and see where changes can be made. 

1. Seek Support

One problem that a lot of people have is that they don’t want to ask for help, and that’s not just with a career, that’s in any situation. Stubbornness in your career can end up being what’s holding you back from success. If you’re struggling with staying on task, keeping a schedule or really anything else, seek out support. Get advice from those that have been through similar situations to see how they handled things. Sometimes just hearing some small tidbits of advice can help you in the big picture.

5 Principles For Dealing With Change

While it might be nice to know exactly what to expect from any given day, that’s not going to be the case in life. More often than you might think, life will throw you curveballs that you probably weren’t ready for. Whether it be a new or ending relationship, a change in your job status or moving to a new city, there are changes all around us that happen every day. It’s not easy to deal with these changes, but there are ways that you can make it easier. Here are five principles to live by when dealing with changes in your life.

5. Plan for Change

The best way to adapt to change is knowing that it’s going to come in the first place. Have a contingency plan in place to make things easier on yourself. Especially in today’s economy, you never know where your job might take you. Operations could move your job to a different city or terminate your position altogether. With that in mind, it’s best to have money saved while you search for another job. Also, accept that relationships, friendships and partnerships may not last forever. Accept that changes happen, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

4. Focus on Your Health

Nothing can stress you out more quite like an unexpected change in your life. This is especially true if it’s regarding a career or relationship. During this time, it’s easy to let things slip in terms of your health. Changes can lead to depression, causing you to not take care of yourself. This results in a lack of sleep and exercise, poor eating and perhaps even substance abuse/addiction problems. Keep your physical and mental health at the forefront no matter what the change may be.

3. Keep Routines As Much As You Can

While one major aspect of your life can change in an instant, it’s important to keep the rest of your life in place surrounding that change. If you’re one of those people that takes an hour out of your day to read, exercise or another one of your favorite hobbies or activities, make sure that remains part of your life. One of the best ways of dealing with change is treating everything else in your life as business as usual.

2. Lean on People

Some changes are positive and you don’t need support from anyone, which is great! However, a lot of changes affect our lives negatively and we need to have a support system in place to keep us going. Look to friends, family members or trusted colleagues to get you through these times of change. These may end up being the people who prop you up enough to get back on your feet and back into the groove of things while you try to manage your new way of living.

1. Embrace the Positivity

With every door or window that closes, a new one opens up. This is the mindset that you should have with any form of negative change. When it comes to positive change, keep your mindset in the mood that got you to your new destination. Positivity is all around us, even in our darkest days. When you embrace that positivity, change is much easier to deal with and sometimes it’s even welcomed.

5 Tips On Eating To Reduce Anxiety

As we become more aware of our own mental health, there are certain disorders that have come to the limelight in recent years. Among them is anxiety disorder, which has become all too common in society. It’s estimated that over 40 million people in the United States alone (or around 20 percent) of people have anxiety at this moment while more than 30 percent will have it at some point in their lives. There are a few different ways that we can combat our anxiety, and one of those ways happens to be in the kitchen. What we eat can affect our mental health, and following these eating tips can help reduce anxiety.

5. Head to the Sea

Fish are sort of a super animal when it comes to reducing our anxiety. Not only do people experience lower levels of anxiety when they have an aquarium in their homes or when they’re out catching fish, but it also translates into eating fish. This is because fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to improve mental health tremendously thanks to a reduction in inflammation. Eating fish twice a week at minimum can do the trick, and also helps to prevent neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

4. Fruit Focused

The benefits of fruit seem to be endless when it comes to our physical health, and that also translates into our mental health. Fruits (and it really doesn’t matter which type) have been linked to lower levels of depression and anxiety for those that were adding more to their weekly diet. Like fish, fruits provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce anxiety producing hormones. They’re also light on the stomach and calorie count. Opt for fruits such as melons and citrus fruits for the maximum benefit.

3. Find Your Allergens

A lot of people are allergic, or at the very least sensitive, to at least one type of food. Many of these people don’t even know that they’re sensitive and can go their whole lives feeling bogged down by eating certain things. Because of this, it’s important to speak with a nutritionist to see if you might have an allergic reaction or sensitivity to foods, as some can trigger anxiety in certain individuals.

2. Be a Pro

Thankfully, there has been a big focus in recent years on gut health. Eating for your health starts with the digestive system, and probiotics help to make you regular, increase energy and also boost your mood through anxiety reduction. One major study showed a link between probiotics and a reduction in anxiety. Foods that are high in probiotics include yogurt, pickles, kimchi and certain cheeses.

1. Liquid Part of Diet

Now that you know what you should be looking for in terms of eating to reduce anxiety, what should you be drinking? You should be making sure that you’re getting plenty of water (around three liters per day) as hydration leads to an improved mood. Try to limit your soda intake, and make sure that your alcohol intake is extremely limited. Alcohol is a depressant and also dehydrates your body. Cutting this out completely can be one of the biggest factors in increased mood and energy.