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When was the last time you were bored? Although being bored usually gets a bad rap, a recent New York Timesarticle explains that being bored isn’t all bad.
You’d be surprised to realize just how far back discussions about boredom go–all the way to Pompeii, if not further! Despite its lengthy history, defining boredom has always been difficult because it is discussed in so many different contexts, and is often experienced differently depending on age, gender and other factors. (Bio-individuality applies to mood and disposition, too!) However, the general consensus is that the sensation of boredom is often accompanied by low mood and a sense that time is passing slowly, often due to an environmental issue, such as lack of external stimuli.
Some people are more predisposed to boredom than others. Studies have shown that young people and boys are especially prone to being bored, mostly from the need for external stimulation. But surprisingly, setting up with an iPad or surfing the web can be harmful. Plugging in when bored takes the impetus away from self-entertaining. This kind of self-regulation carries over into other spaces, including self-control.
Counter intuitively, boredom also occurs when disrupted from a difficult or time-consuming task, which has led to the groundbreaking revelation that doodling, for years though to be a sign of boredom, may actually help people stay alert. In fact, recent studies have suggested that kids who are allowed to fidget retain more information than those who are forced to sit still, perhaps lured in by the glow of the television or the challenge of Angry Birds on the iPad.
While boredom certainly isn’t something to celebrate, it shouldn’t be viewed as something too critical, either. It gives us the opportunity to explore new mental frontiers and, if used appropriately, can even help us expand our capacity for self-entertainment and self-control. So the next time you’re bored, think twice before turning to your iPad or computer. (Need help unplugging? Here are some ways to take a technology time-out.)
Like any other addiction, the initial withdrawal can be difficult. You may feel disconnected, jittery or impatient with the slower speed of a non-digitized life, but press through! On the other side, you may find yourself enjoying the leisurely cadence of your relaxed brain’s musings. Here’s how to do it:
1. Set a time goal. Whether it’s just a few hours, a day, or the whole weekend. Shoot a quick email to your emergency contacts to let them know you’re going off the grid. If you must provide a backup method of reaching you, make it by phone – but turn off ALL alerts and push notifications other than your ringer.
2. Hide your laptop. “Out of sight out of mind” isn’t always true in practice, but it’s not going to hurt your efforts.
3. Breathe deeply and clear your head. Let your brain reboot, so to speak.
4. Make unplugging a treat. Enjoy a favorite food, activity, or glass of wine while you revel in all the beauty you can see without your computer monitor.
5. Distract yourself. Get outdoors or meet up with a friend. Spend some face time (the real kind, not through the app) with your family. Leave your phone at home if you can. Pretty soon, you’ll remember this isn’t a distraction; this is living.
What ways do you entertain yourself when you’re bored?
We shared several ways to stay cheerful during the winter months, including spending time outdoors and a maintaining a regular exercise routine. As the temperature drops, it’s easy to use the colder weather as an excuse to stay inside under a blanket on the couch. While there’s certainly a place for rest and relaxation in a healthy lifestyle, regular physical activity releases endorphins and gives us a renewed energy, both of which contribute to a happier mood.
Here are some workout suggestions to keep your body warm and your spirits high this winter:
Make the living room your personal gym – Save money on a gym membership by purchasing a few items to have at home. Dumbbells, kettlebells, a stability ball, and a jump rope are all easy-to-use items, and can be stored in a hallway closet or even under your bed! In addition, there are many online workouts you can follow from the convenience of your living room. Just be sure to pay close attention to proper form when trying new exercises to avoid injury.
Bundle up and head outdoors – Wearing the proper winter weather workout gear makes it possible to keep up with your favorite outdoor fitness activities in the colder months. Breathing the fresh air is good for your spirits, and the dose of Vitamin D will keep your immune system strong. Try a 45-minute walk, or pick up the pace for a 30-minute run. You’ll warm up in no time! Remember to stay hydrated even if you don’t have the same thirst cues from the summertime.
Practice yoga anytime, anywhere – One of the many benefits of a yoga practice is that you can tailor the exercise to your personal needs and circumstances. From ten minutes of stretching to a 90-minute power flow, you’ll benefit from scheduling some time to slow down and focus on your breath. In addition to being a physical exercise, yoga is part of a self-care regimen and allows you to manage stress. Yoga Download is a great source for beginners and advanced yogis as well.
Traveling this season? Take advantage of the hotel fitness center, or lace up your sneakers and walk to your destinations. Walking is the best way to explore a new city, and the perfect excuse to stop at a local coffee shop for a cup of hot tea.
As always, take care of your nutrition needs with foods to fuel your workout and foods to refuel within an hour of physical activity.
What are your favorite ways to work out during the winter?
Last Sunday marked the end of the 2012 Daylight Saving season, and many of us set our clocks back one hour. With colder temperatures and fewer hours of sunlight each day, the transition from autumn to winter can weigh us down physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Seasonal Affection Disorder (SAD) is extremely common during the long and dark winter months, leaving many people feeling sluggish, irritable, and blue. However, being prepared for the transition, and focusing on the balance of primary food in our lives, allows us to maintain a positive worldview and fully enjoy the excitement and energy of the holiday season.
Here are seven easy ways you can stay cheerful during the winter months:
Take it outdoors – Make it a priority to bundle up and get outside for a short walk during the daylight hours – even if it’s chilly! The fresh air and dose of Vitamin D from the sunshine will keep you happy and healthy.
Get regular exercise – You might be inclined to hibernate under warm blankets as the temperatures drop, but that won’t do anything for your mood. Working out releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel happy, and a regular exercise routine will do wonders for your energy levels.
Keep it social – Friendships provide the support we need to live fulfilling, balanced lives. Sharing stories and laughing with friends can lift our spirits and give us a fresh perspective. Make plans to meet for a visit, or schedule a phone call to keep in touch.
Journal for gratitude – Take time in the morning or evening to make a list of things you are grateful for. Studies show that cultivating happiness helps combat depression. When you focus on the positive things in your life, there’s no room for the negative!
Wear your chef’s hat – Prepare nourishing meals at home to create a sense of warmth and inner peace. Incorporate a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables into your meals to boost your mood, and experiment with new recipes or comforting family favorites.
Embrace the season – Rather than spending your time and energy complaining about the weather, or longing for a different time of year, find beauty in the present moment. Boost your health through a spiritual practice, catch up on your reading, or bundle up in your favorite sweater and have a cup of hot cocoa, cider, or tea.
Buy a full spectrum lamp – If you find yourself feeling really blue during the winter months, talk to your doctor about investing in a light box that mimics the spectrum of the sun. Light therapy can be a very effective treatment for SAD!
What are some ways you stay cheerful during the winter months?
If you’re planning on doing some traveling this month but are wary of airport foods, pit stops, or the less-than-optimal selections at your destination, packing some healthy snacks is probably on your agenda. But which ones? It’s not very practical to take along a lot of raw vegetables, nor will you have access to a kitchen to warm things up. What’s a health-conscious traveler to do?
Stocking up on a few ready-to-eat and nutritious snacks will help boost your energy, balance your blood sugar, and even provide you with the antioxidants you need to battle stressful traveling or insufficient sleep.
The following foods require little to no refrigeration, contain a wide variety of nutrients, and are mostly lightweight. They’re the perfect companions on the road, or to have on hand when options are limited.
The ideal living snack-on-the-go, apples can stay fresh for over a week as long as you don’t beat them up! They can balance your blood sugar, cleanse your digestive tract, and satisfy hunger with fewer calories. Apples taste great simply on their own, or are delicious dipped in almond butter for a heartier, more protein-packed snack.
Most commonly available dried, goji berries are considered a superfood because they offer a wide variety of health benefits including preventing cancer, boosting the immune system, lowering cholesterol, and contributing to longevity. Like all dried fruits, goji berries contain a high amount of sugar so they are best consumed in conjunction with other foods such as nuts or oatmeal.
While most people don’t eat coconut oil straight out of the jar (although you can!), this healthy fat made the list because it is rich in antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial compounds as well as helping to balance the hormones and soothe the digestive system. It is also very nourishing for skin and hair, so it doubles as a beauty treatment. Put it on toast, use it for cooking when you arrive at your destination, rub some on your lips for a natural moisturizer, or simply eat a spoonful to stave off hunger and avoid unhealthy alternatives.
Quickly gaining mainstream popularity, chia seeds are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, hunger-satisfying protein, and an impressive array of antioxidants. Simply mix 2 tbsp. of chia seeds per 16oz of water and you’ve got a liquid snack that’s nutritious and hydrating!
Despite being the most perishable of the group, carrots can stay fresh for at least an entire day without refrigeration, and they make an excellent crunchy snack. Rich in antioxidants, as well as vitamins A and K, carrots can help prevent free radical damage in the body as well as boost heart health and vision. The best storage allows carrots to maintain moisture, so pack them cut and peeled in a container or bag with a little bit of water.
What’s your favorite travel snack?