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8 Ways a Trip to New Orleans Will Heal Your Soul

8 Ways a Trip to New Orleans Will Heal Your Soul

Call it the Crescent City or call it the Big Easy. Either way, New Orleans holds a unique place in the American myth. With its history of disasters—yellow fever, multiple hurricanes—or its varied cultural history—first French, then Spanish, then French again, then American, then Confederate, then American, then Frat—New Orleans is probably the most unique city in America. For all these reasons, a trip there will do wonders for your soul, and we have put together a list of exactly how. We hope, by the end, we will have you saying, “WHO DAT!”

1. It’s so humid, it’s like you’re doing everything in a sauna.

The first thing you will notice is the humidity. On the initial day of my recent vacation, it was 92 degrees Fahrenheit with 96% humidity. Ninety-six percent! If I’m not mistaken, that’s basically means it’s raining without water falling from the sky. When you go to other vacation spots, you’ll pay a pretty penny to sit in that level of humidity, but New Orleans just naturally produces it.

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2. Bourbon Street

This is family-friendly article, so I cannot be too lurid in the descriptions of what I saw on Bourbon Street. In general terms, my friends and I arrived via plane on a random Thursday night during what is not considered tourist season, with plans to go to a jazz club and generally relax the first day. Not so—by the ending of the night, I was shouting that I was The Bourbon Cowboy (the name of a bar) and my friends were dancing to keep homeless people from asking them for money. Also, a drag queen purposefully threw beads from a second story balcony that nailed me in the back of the head. New Orleans is full of weird chaos, and it will challenge how self-controlled you are. (Hint: You do not have enough self-control, because no one does.)

3. There is enough art that the whole city is essentially a museum.

One block from Bourbon Street is Royal Street, which is a local strip of fine art galleries. On Royal Street, I found pop-art depictions of superheroes, Gothic paintings of voodoo ceremonies, and uniquely Cajun paintings of the city, not to mention other people practicing art in the forms of chandelier-making, hot-sauce-making, and various forms of miming. There is so much culture here it is falling out of the city’s ears. I also spent a significant amount of time at Jackson Square, which is where all the street performers spend their days. Those are indescribable.

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4. There is more music than anywhere I can think of.

It seemed, at any given time, at least fifty percent of the city’s native population was carrying a musical instrument. The home to such varied musical styles as that of Lil’ Wayne, Fats Domino, and Harrick Connick, Jr, the city has an amazing knack for starting musicians off right. Every bar had someone willing to strum a guitar or to dance around. If you get sick of Bourbon Street, head over to Frenchman Street—it’s where the locals hang out, watching one of the scores of bands that play at dozens of bars every single day of the week.

5. The gay community doesn’t just exist—it will try to convert you.

There’s nothing better for your soul than having your belief system challenged, and while, as a straight man, I am generally supportive of the LGBT lifestyle, the gay community in New Orleans uses its unique blend of Southern hospitality and fighting gusto to get you. I don’t know what else to say other than to relate that, right after I was hit with the beads, I went into a nearby bar to relieve myself, only to be treated to an unclothed, voodoo version of Times Squares’ Naked Cowboy—and somehow, I didn’t bat an eye.

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6. The food is wholly unique and soul-cleansing.

Starting with the names to describe popular dishes—jambalaya, etouffee, gumbo,atchafalaya—the food is like nothing you’ve ever had. Using various forms of shellfish as the base, each dish is one-hundred-percent unique and totally amazing. I found myself saying, “This is the best food I’ve ever had,” at every meal, and I may have actually meant it at The Rum House, where I had savory oyster tacos and sweet duck tacos. Also, don’t forget to try the alligator sausage. It tastes like chicken. And save room for the beignets.

7. The spiritual energy is amazing.

New Orleans is clearly a city of natural rebirth. Combine the history of disasters, the bleaching of the streets every morning, and the blend of intense Catholicism, voodoo, and occult practices, and New Orleans truly believes in spiritual rebirth. And don’t just take it from me, take from the dozens of psychics on every street, or from my friend who regained confidence about his recent home purchase by talking to a tarot card reader, or from my other friend, who is convinced she saw the Ghost of Madame Delphine LaLaurie. I even saw someone selling statues of the Hindu demi-god Ganesha. Higher powers are everywhere here. Reach out and connect with one.

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8. Absolutely no one will judge you.

No other city is so un-apologetically itself than New Orleans. And the people there, whether it be the numerous tourists or the hard-boiled (almost literally) locals, all know that no one comes to New Orleans to have their way of living scrutinized. This uniquely Cajun vibe creates an atmosphere that let’s you be one-hundred percent who you are supposed to be. By the afternoon of our first full day, I found that my cheeks were incredibly sore. You know how that happened? I was smiling, ear-to-ear, almost every second. That’s how New Orleans will cleanse your soul.

Featured photo credit: Hannah Healy/Bourbon Street via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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