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Why Living Near Trees Is Great For Your Health

Why Living Near Trees Is Great For Your Health

If you are gazing out on an apartment block as you read this, you may well feel that all this talk of living near trees being good for your health is exaggerated. How can this be true and what can trees do for our health?

Just give me 10 trees! Researchers in Toronto studied the health benefits when people lived near trees. This study was led by Omid Kardan, a psychologist from the University of Chicago. Toronto was an ideal location because it happens to have 530,000 trees in its urban areas. Researchers also had access to the health records of over 30,000 residents in the Toronto area. Basically they found that having just 10 trees in the neighborhood was beneficial for health and can help lower heart disease, obesity and diabetes. This is important as more than 80% of American citizens live in an urban environment.

One problem is that in some concrete jungles, there is no soil or space left to plant a tree. Suburban areas are not much better.

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“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.” – Bill Vaughn

Trees can reduce air pollution

The EU has caved in to the car manufacturers by practically doubling the emissions of the deadly NOx (nitrogen oxide) gases. The WHO offers little comfort to us when it says that in 2012, there were 3.7 million premature deaths caused by air pollution.

How can trees help? Trees can absorb some of the nasty pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide and ozone, by trapping them in their leaves and bark. Thomas Karl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research has done some interesting research on this. Trees can help in removing CO2 from the atmosphere and return oxygen to the atmosphere. Think of them as being filters.

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“The trees actually clean up more than we thought.” Thomas Karl.

Trees can reduce stress

Wandering among trees in a forest or even a park can do wonderful things for your health. The Japanese know all about this because they practice the art of “forest bathing” which is called shinrin-yoku in Japanese. But can this practice actually reduce stress? Research suggests that it really can. Posts from the USDA Forest Service show that there is plenty of research that confirms being near trees reduces stress hormones faster than anything else. It also helps with blood pressure. If you ever get the chance of a walk in the forest or in the park, go for it!

Trees can help you sleep better

Researchers at the University of Illinois used data from over 250,000 Americans in assessing their sleep quality. They were curious to find out if being near a park, forest or other natural surroundings had an impact on the number of sleepless nights. Their suspicions were confirmed by the study, especially for the over 65 males. When you want to buy a house, try to find one with trees nearby.

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Trees can be a healing force

The ancient Celts knew that trees were a precious source of food, shelter, medicine and energy. Each tree species was known to have different healing qualities.

Some people recommend that you hug a tree to get its full healthful benefits. But why would you do that? The answer is that as our bodies contain 70% water; they are very similar to trees. Everything in the universe vibrates and the water in our bodies and trees are no exception. Just by being in close contact, you can sense the healing powers and feel better and calmer.

Matthew Silverstone has written a book called, Blinded by Science in which he describes how this awareness transformed his son’s health when conventional medicine failed to cure him. The basic premise of the book is that trees, plants, water are playing a much more important part in our daily health than we realize. As for trees. there may be other factors at work and nobody has, as yet, been able to pinpoint how exactly trees can benefit our health.

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You may be sceptical but there are no studies that show the being near trees does you any harm. Unless you have an allergy to tree pollen of course. They can only do you good. Now, just read the full list of health benefits here and I promise you will want to hug a tree when and if you finish reading it!

“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.” – Chad Sugg

Featured photo credit: https://Tree Tunnel/Randy Heinitz via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on September 10, 2019

7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

1. Gratitude

Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

Gratitude-Quotes

    2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

    This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

    For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

    What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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    Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

    3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

    This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

    Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

    An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

    Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

    write down goals

      4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

      According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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      There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

      5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

      Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

      Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

      6. Rise Earlier

      The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

      For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

      So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

      Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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      7. Listen to Uplifting Music

      Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

      Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

      It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

      Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

      More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

      Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
      [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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