Find Time for the Great Outdoors

Woman in the forest

The great outdoors benefits the health in so many different ways, from reducing stress and obesity to increasing creativity, and there are countless studies to prove this. However, research has also shown that more and more people, both adults and children, are experiencing a lack of interaction with the great outdoors, but, fortunately, this is something that is easy to fix.

Taking the First Steps
If you have never been much of an outdoorsy person, then spending time outdoors will likely not come naturally to you. Rather than forcing yourself to take a hike up a huge mountain, start off slowly, with activities that you and your family can enjoy together. Whether this means pulling your child along a trail on a sled, finding new places to walk your dogs, or collecting leaves and seeds for a craft project, all of these activities still share the same goal of getting you to spend some time outdoors. If there is absolutely nothing that appeals to you just yet, pick an activity that sounds achievable, and set yourself a prize so that you have some extra motivation.

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Al Fresco Dining
Rather than eating your meals inside your home, try al fresco dining once in a while, as this is a great way to spend some extra time outdoors. While you may only be able to do this when the weather is cooperating, enjoying a meal outdoors will add to the sensory experience of the whole meal, and will do your far more good than staring at your computer or phone. Whether this means a lunchtime picnic in the park rather than an office cafeteria meal, or breakfast on your doorstep under the sun, you will no doubt find that your food tastes so much better when eaten in the great outdoors.

Find an Outdoor Hobby
If most of your hobbies are based indoors, then it is time to find an outdoor hobby that you love, as this will encourage you to spend more of your free time outside. For those who enjoy staying active, there is plenty to choose from, including cycling, running, canoeing and golfing, while those who do not really enjoy sports much can turn to everything from photography to gardening to outdoor cooking.

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Start a Garden
Starting a garden is a great way to really get closer to nature, and simply having that one-on-one time with the earth around you brings with it its own set of unique health benefits. Even if you do not have a large area of land to work with, simply setting up a few pots outside your house can still have the same effect. If growing flowers has never appealed to you, turn your attention to growing food, which can easily be done in a small space. From herbs to potted vegetables, growing something that you can eat will only increase the sense of accomplishment that you will feel from starting a garden.

Making time for the great outdoors is more important than ever due to hectic, digital lifestyles. From finding an outdoor hobby to al fresco dining, these are tips that just about everyone can follow when it comes to making the effort to spend more time outside.

Living the Minimalist Lifestyle

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Living a minimalist lifestyle brings with it many advantages, from reducing your focus on material possessions to increasing your peace of mind. For those of you who have been curious about this type of lifestyle, but do not quite know where to start, here are a few tips that will help set you up for success.

Set Yourself a Personal Goal
Everybody has their own views on what a minimalist lifestyle should entail, and there is no right or wrong answer to this. Before beginning your quest for a minimalist lifestyle, you need to first set yourself a few clear goals that state exactly what you are hoping to accomplish from this. Whether this may be de-cluttering your house, or simply learning how to live with less, a clear goal, along with achievable steps to lead you to it, will make it all so much easier.

Choose a Clutter-Free Zone
The easiest way to take the first step in leading a minimalist lifestyle is by declaring a certain area of your house a clutter-free zone. Whether this is just a drawer in your nightstand or a counter top in the kitchen, make sure that this area is completely clear and clutter free. If you end up enjoying this way of living, then slowly expand that zone a little more each day, so that you soon end up with a whole clutter-free room. It will not be long before you then apply these practices to your whole house, resulting in the minimalist, clutter-free lifestyle that you have always dreamed about.

Project 333
Applying the concept of minimalism to your wardrobe can often be quite difficult, but this is where Project 333 comes in. This is a challenge that requires people to dress with only 33 items for three months, and this includes everything from shoes to clothing to accessories. While this may sound extreme, and maybe impossible for some, those who have completed the challenge have found that this way of dressing actually makes life so much easier, and have carried it on long after the three months have been over.

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Remove Excess Furniture
Removing excess furniture from around your home can really help to open up each room and increase the amount of space you have while enhancing airflow within your house as well. If this is something that you are not sure about, you can always store your furniture somewhere temporarily for a trial period, so that you can see how well you cope without it before doing away with it for good.

Invest in Quality
Splurging on impulse buys is all-too-common, but these items will only end up adding to the clutter in your home. Instead, make sure that every purchase that you make is of the highest quality that you can afford, as well as being a thoroughly well-thought out decision.

Living a minimalist lifestyle does not need to be difficult, even though it may sometimes seem impossible to get started. From the beginning with a list of goals and a small, clutter-free zone, to clearing away excess furniture and cutting back on impulse purchases, these tips will soon have you living the minimalistic life that you have always envied.

Boost Your Midlife Brain Health

The human brain naturally shrinks with age, meaning that brain cells do not work quite as effectively as they used to. By the time a person reaches the age of 45, the memory begins to decline, as do other aspects of brain health. However, there are a number of ways in which you can boost a midlife brain to improve its health while giving it some extra protection for the upcoming years.

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Brain Exercises
There are many brain games and puzzles out there that are designed to help create new associations between different parts of your brain, which is great for strengthening it and keeping it sharp. You can also try carrying out normal, everyday activities, but using your non-dominant hand. For example, if you are usually right-handed, try using your left hand to do everything from brushing your teeth to hoovering the carpet.

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Regular Exercise
One of the most effective ways in which you can boost your brain health is by partaking in regular exercise, as this has been proven, for many years, to be able to boost cognitive function. It does this by reducing cell damage and inflammation while increasing the density of brain cells, as well as blood vessels in the brain. When it comes to the different types of exercise out there, aerobic exercise is one of the best, as this can help with the parts of the brain that are associated with organizing, multi-tasking, and planning, while boosting heart health at the same time. Resistance training has been linked to beneficial effects on the memory, as has low-intensity yoga, so try to include these in your exercise routine too.

Control Your Blood Sugar Levels
Not only does high blood sugar levels lead to obesity and diabetes, but this also damages blood vessels in the brain, while impairing the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory. Lowering your blood sugar levels is as simple as making a few lifestyle changes, from practicing regular exercise to eating a diet high in vegetables, fibre and whole grains.

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Socializing
Humans are social creatures, and, as studies have shown, socializing is important when it comes to keeping the brain stimulated and sharp. Research has shown that older adults who are less socially active tend to experience more cognitive and physical limitations, so make sure that socializing takes a priority in your life.

Brain-Boosting Foods
While a healthy diet itself is important for your brain, as well as your body, there are certain foods out there that are known for being especially beneficial when it comes to brain health. At the top of the list are foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as oily fish and walnuts, as these have been linked to improved memory and focus, as well as a lowered risk of dementia.

Your brain is incredibly complex, but boosting its health does not need to be. From physical activity and a healthy diet to brain games and socializing, these tips will help you to keep your mind as sharp as possible while your body continues to age.

Add a Digital Detox to Your Summer Getaway

Woman poolside

The average person checks their phone about 200 times a day, making that once every six and a half minutes. While a digital detox is a great way to overcome becoming a slave to your smartphone, the concept is frightening for many, so here are a few tips to ease you into it and set you up for success.

Set an Allowance
Many experts believe that a digital detox is something that people should ease themselves into in order to really succeed at it. For this reason, you should set yourself a daily technology allowance for all of your devices, beginning this well before your summer getaway. By restricting yourself in this way, you will be far more encouraged to spend time enjoying the real world once you have used up your allowance. However, make sure that you set an achievable allowance to begin with, for example, no devices on your lunch break, or in the bedroom at night, before building it up from here.

A Detox Buddy
Difficult tasks are always much easier when you have someone by your side, which is why a detox buddy could really come in handy this summer. Ideally, choose someone who you will be spending your summer getaway with, because this way, you will be able to support each other all the way through and keep up with each other’s progress. If you are travelling with a group of people, give phone stacking a try. This is where you all put your phones in a stack in one place and move on to do another activity. The first person who takes their phone from the pile then has to do a forfeit, whether this may be cleaning up after everyone else or buying dinner that night.

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Leave Your Gadgets at Home
While the thought of travelling without all of your gadgets may seem frightening, this is one way to ensure that you do not slip up on your digital detox. If you have planned this well in advance, with set allowances in previous months and a detox buddy to travel with, you are likely to be much more receptive to the idea when the time comes.

Digital Detox Retreats
If you feel as though you may need some extra help when it comes to your digital detox, it could be worth looking into an organized digital detox retreat. These retreats tend to be held in areas of outstanding natural beauty, as this tends to really open the eyes of participants and make them see all that they have been missing while their eyes have been glued to their phones. They will also offer a schedule of physical activities, and help with setting yourself some personal boundaries when it comes to technology for when you return home.

While a digital detox may seem like a drastic move, it actually brings with it so many different benefits. From reducing depression and anxiety to increasing work productivity, these are just a few of the reasons as to why you should give a digital detox a try this summer.

Do You Look Like Your Mate?

While opposites do attract, many couples end up looking quite alike, and there are actually a number of scientific theories about this. From sharing the same ancestry to sharing the same experiences, here are a few reasons as to why you may look like your mate.

Happy couple

Shared Ancestry
While this may sound far-fetched, many couples actually share the same ancestry, meaning that they were related long before they got married. A study that was recently published in the journal PLOS Genetics discovered that, out of a group of 879 spouses, couples had a tendency to marry people who shared their genes. The study looked at couples across three generations, and found that, in later generations, this became less common, and people would cast their nets a bit wider when it came to looking for love.

Shared Experiences
The idea that many couples looked alike is nothing new, and a study carried out at the University of Michigan in 1987 has been one of the most successful ones to date on this topic. Researchers found that couples who had shared a long life together also shared similar experiences, which left them with similar expression lines on their face. Whether this may have been a life of hardship resulting in deepened frown lines, or a life of smiles and crow’s feet, this is quite a promising theory as to why many couples look alike, especially if they have spent a significant number of years together.

Unconscious Mimicry
Unconscious mimicry is when a person unconsciously imitates the people around them. For example, adopting intonations from your friend’s voices, or copying the way in which a friend sits. This principle could also be potentially applied to couples that look alike, because as they will have mimicked each other so much over the years, this would end up gradually reshaping their face.

Happy couple

Other Theories
There is no denying that many couples tend to look alike, and while the above-mentioned theories may be some of the most popular, there are a few other ideas about this as well. One of these theories is that the increased resemblance is linked to living in the same environment, while others believe that a similar diet could have something to do with this.

Only Skin Deep
While the facial features of long-time spouses may start to appear similar, a study carried out in 2010 showed that this was only skin deep. The results of this study proved that people who had been married for 40 years or more had personalities that were just as different as they used to be, even if they had been sharing everything from a home to habits.

It has been known for a while that many spouses share similar features in appearance, but it would seem as though scientists are still a long way from pin-pointing exactly why this is. While each of the theories mentioned above do seem plausible, it is just as likely that it is a combination of all of them, from a shared environment to shared habits, and even to shared DNA.

Use a Foam Roller to Get Rid of Aches and Pains

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Foam rollers have been used for decades in physical rehab clinics when it comes to pain management, and, when done correctly, can bring about the same benefits that a professional massage does. If you have never used a foam roller before, here is all you need to know to get started.

Purchasing a Foam Roller
Foam rollers are widely available at the majority of sports stores out there, and can also easily be purchased online. If you have never used a foam roller before, then it would be advisable to purchase a softer roller, designed for beginners, and this should be marked on the packaging, whereas if you are a competitive athlete and really require the extra help, a firmer roller would be the better option for you.

How to Use a Foam Roller
When using a foam roller, there are several different moves that you can do, each one targeting different areas of the body. The majority of moves are best carried out on the floor, with a yoga mat or low-pile carpet to provide a bit of support. The Upper Back Roll requires you to place the roller across your back, so that it is supporting your body, before rolling forwards and backwards slowly, to work on tight muscles along the middle of your back. For painful calves, the Calf Roll is ideal, while those who have been experiencing pain in their hamstrings or glutes should gives the Glutes and Hamstring Roll a try. There are multiple tutorials online for each of these moves, and these will help you to get the hang of all you need to do. With all of these moves, you should be applying a moderate amount of pressure to each muscle group, rolling no more than one inch per second. Each time you come across areas that are particularly tight, pause for several seconds and try to relax. Once you feel the muscles releasing, you can continue to move again.

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The Benefits of Foam Rolling
Foam rolling stretches and tones the muscles, while increasing circulation, meaning that a greater amount of nutrients are able to reach all areas of the body, including the muscles, and their surrounding tissue, being worked on. This then helps with the body’s detoxification process, enabling waste to be broken down and eliminated in a far more effective manner. This waste would have otherwise built up within the muscles, causing stiffness and pain. If you often experience areas of tight, knotted muscles, then a foam roller would be able to help with this too, breaking up these bands and providing relief.

After each foam rolling session, you are likely to feel a little sore the next day, as your muscles will have experienced quite the workout. In order to experience maximum benefits, you should try to drink more water than usual after foam rolling, while eating cleanly and getting enough sleep, as all of this will aid in flushing out your system and allowing your muscles to function as effectively as possible.

Beating an Afternoon Energy Slump

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Afternoon energy slumps are extremely common, and can be attributed to the body’s circadian rhythm, which sends out sleep signals during the afternoon, usually at around 2pm. Rather than spending the afternoon wishing that you could curl up in bed, here are a few tips to help you to beat the energy slump and ensure that the rest of your day remains productive.

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A Light, Protein-Filled Lunch
If your lunches are usually packed with carbohydrates, this will be having quite the impact on the way in which your body functions in the afternoon, as carbohydrates tend to zap the body of energy. Instead, opt for foods that are high in protein, such as a tuna salad rather than a tuna sandwich, or a green salad with hard-boiled eggs and sliced turkey instead of a bowl of pasta. You should also try to avoid having a heavy lunch, as the digestion process diverts blood away from the brain, meaning that the more food that needs to be digested, the longer you will feel lethargic for.

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A Midday Workout
Physical activity during the day will not only boost your productivity, but will also help you to beat that midday slump. If you have a gym near you, some light aerobic exercise is all that you need. Alternatively, if you do not have time for a quick gym session, head out for a brisk walk on your lunch break, or pay a visit to the very top floor of your building, using the stairs of course. Even a few simple stretches can help to provide your body with a boost of energy, and these do not require much space or time at all.

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Green Tea
If you tend to reach for a cup of coffee each time you feel your energy levels dropping, you may want to try swapping this out for a cup of green tea instead. While green tea still contains caffeine, it does not have quite as much as coffee does, meaning that it is much better for your health, and will also bring you a range of nutritional benefits.

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Listen to Some Music
Studies have shown that listening to music has the potential to boost the way in which a person focuses, while making them feel more energized at the same time. This is a great quick fix to the afternoon energy slump problem, and if you compile a few energizing playlists on your phone in advance, you will have a pick-me-up to hand whenever you may need it.

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Don’t Skip Breakfast
Considered to be the most important meal of the day, a healthy breakfast provides the body with enough energy to sustain it throughout the day. However, if you skip breakfast, you are likely to experience quite the energy crash at around 2pm, which is why this is a meal well worth making some time for. If you tend to be strapped for time in the mornings, there are many on-the-go breakfast options that may work for you, from berry and yogurt smoothies to a portable bowl of porridge.

Nobody wants to experience an afternoon energy slump, especially if you have a long list of tasks that you still need to complete before the end of the day. From nutrition to exercise, these tips will help you to beat that slump, filling you with energy for the rest of the day.

Be Nice, It’s Good for Your Heart

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It is rare for people to consciously try to be nasty, but it is also quite rare for people to go out of their way to be kind to others. While helping other people should be enough of a reason to be nice, research has shown that having this friendly attitude will also bring you a number of different health benefits, making it more worthwhile than ever to be nice to others.

Heart Health
There are now several studies that have shown that there is a link between acts of kindness and the different markers of heart health. A study carried out in 2006 was especially successful in showing that acts of kindness were able to lower blood pressure, as it releases a chemical called nitric oxide within the body, which then dilutes blood vessels. This is also the case for “bad” cholesterol, which is lowered to quite an extent after consistent levels of kindness have been practised.

Stress and Cortisol
Whenever your body experiences stress, it releases the hormone cortisol throughout your body. While this is absolutely fine on occasion, chronic stress, and therefore the continuous release of cortisol, has many negative health effects. However, being nice is something that can drastically lower the cortisol levels within your body, which then has an impact on everything from your state of mind to the rate at which your body ages.

Illness Prevention
Research has shown that people who spend more time helping others tend to have a much stronger ability to ward off infections and illnesses.

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This could be due to the fact that they have lower markers of inflammation, as inflammation is responsible for a whole array of different diseases, including diabetes and cancer.

Reduced Pain
In addition to being nice to others, you should also remember to be nice to yourself. This means that, if you suffer from chronic pain, you should try to be as accepting and understanding about your condition as possible, rather than berating yourself for not improving fast enough. By being kinder to yourself in this way, the amount of pain that you experience is likely to quickly drop, which will then help you to recover even faster.

Longer Life
It comes as no surprise that those who are experiencing all of the above health benefits would enjoy a longer life, and research has backed this up. The studies looked in particular at people who volunteered for two or more charitable organizations, and found that they experienced a 44% lowered risk of dying early, which is even more of an impact than regular exercise has.

Science has definitely proven that being nice really pays off in so many different ways. If you are looking to carry out more acts of kindness, there are a number of ways in which you can do this. From volunteering at a local charity to paying someone a genuine compliment to simply being a listening ear for someone who is having a tough time, make it your mission to go out of your way to be nice to others as much as possible.

The Pros of Dating a Younger Man

There used to be many social stigmas attached to the concept of a woman dating a younger man, but this is not so much the case any more. In fact, experts have identified that there are actually several benefits that come from dating a younger person, so do not be afraid to give this a try.

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A Boost of Energy
In general, younger partners tend to be far more energetic and open-minded than older partners, and this refreshing mentality can really be a beneficial addition to your life. Younger partners will also tend to be less cynical about life and willing to take risks and chances, meaning that if you have been looking for a new adventure, then a younger partner could be just what you need to guide you through this.

A Parenting Partner
Whether you already have children of your own, or are wanting to start a family, many women find that younger men are more open to becoming a parent than older men. Whether this is due to the fact that many older men already have children, or simply do not have the energy at this stage in life to enter into fatherhood, a younger man is much more likely to be interested in either joining or starting a family.

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Sexual Energy
It is a proven fact that younger partners will have much higher sexual energy, as well as stamina, than older partners, which can really raise the bar when it comes to bedroom activities. While many women may initially feel insecure about getting physical with a younger man, do not forget that your younger partner will be experiencing his own benefits from the situation too. From the extra years of experience that you have had to effective ways of communicating exactly what you want, a sexual relationship with an older woman can definitely be exciting for a younger man.

Finding Love
If you have been unsuccessfully searching for love, then expanding your dating pool to include a younger demographic may be exactly what you need to do. Since younger men tend to be less jaded about life, they are more optimistic when it comes to life and love, and not only will this endearing attitude have your heart fluttering, but it will also bring plenty of positivity into your life.

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The Focus is on You
While an older man may be quite preoccupied with his career or other obligations, a younger man tends not to have as much of this to deal with, meaning that the focus of his attention can be placed more on you. Not only will he look up to all that you have achieved in your life, as well as your mature perspective on different situations, but he will also likely work even harder than an older man when it comes to impressing you.

It is easy to make decisions on who to date based on conventions within society, but this should not be the case. Rather than seeking out a man of a specific age group, simply open yourself up to meeting new people, because age most definitely does not define who a person is.

Spring Travel Must-Haves

Whether you are heading off for spring break with your friends, family, or that special someone, it is always a good idea to put some advanced planning into your packing. From skin care to gadgets, here are the spring travel must-haves that you definitely do not want to be leaving at home.

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Sunglasses and Sun Protection
No matter where you may be headed to, spring signifies the beginning of better weather, meaning that you are likely to be spending much longer in the sun while you are on your travels. This makes a pair of UV blocking sunglasses absolutely essential, because not only will they add an element of chic to your look, but they will also provide the skin around your eyes with extra protection from the sun’s damaging rays. In addition to your sunglasses, you should also bring along a few other items that can help protect you from the sun, from a broad spectrum sunscreen to a wide-brimmed hat.

Cleanser and Moisturizer
While you may be tempted to leave your cleanser and moisturizer at home, and buy new, smaller versions when you reach your destination, it would be far more beneficial to your skin to bring along your everyday cleanser and moisturizer. Although cleansers may be easily available, switching to a new formula suddenly can really disrupt your skin’s pH balance, causing everything from redness and irritation to breakouts. Sticking with products that your skin is already used to will help you to avoid any skin issues while you are away.

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Spring Jacket
Even if you are planning on travelling somewhere hot and sunny, spring weather can still be quite unpredictable, which is why it is always useful to have a lightweight spring jacket on hand. Since you are opting for a light version, you will easily be able to squeeze this into your bag, and, whether you have a rainy day or a chilly evening, you will be covered. Trench coats are ideal for this, as they are always right on trend in the spring, and bring a classy touch to any outfit.

Portable Charger
The majority of people these days travel with a number of different gadgets and devices, and organizing the many different chargers for each of these can be time-consuming and frustrating. A portable travel charger takes all of the fuss out of travelling with gadgets, as these will allow you to charge multiple devices all at the same time with just one charging device, saving you time and space.

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Travel Wallet
When travelling, it is always easier to keep all of your documents in one place, not only so that they are easily accessible when you need them, but also to ensure that none of them end up lost. A travel wallet is a great way to do this, as these will have pockets and slots for all of your essential travel items, from your passport to your foreign currency to your credit cards.

Spring is a fantastic time of the year to travel, and these must-have items are guaranteed to have your trip running as smoothly as possible. From a travel wallet to hold all important documents to a portable charger that will ensure that you are never stranded without your phone or camera, these items all deserve a bit of space in your luggage.