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Published on December 28, 2018

6 Mental Exercises For Busy People To Calm the Hectic Mind

6 Mental Exercises For Busy People To Calm the Hectic Mind

The cold hard truth is that we’ve become big, clumsy animals.

We eat too much, carry way too much weight on our torsos. We sit in unnatural positions all day, which makes our steps awkward. But worst of all, we’ve isolated ourselves from nature and now our mental and emotional wellbeing is taking the hit; despite the fact that there’s overwhelming scientific evidence that the more in harmony with nature we are, the better we feel.[1]

One recent study found that walking among trees improved participants’ short-term memory better than walks in urban settings. Another showed that soaking up natural beauty can cure brain fatigue and improve mental health. Elsewhere, researchers found that spending time in forests lowered participants cortisol levels (a hormone used to mark stress), reduced inflammation, boosted immunity, and even reduced the risk of early death.

In other words, the benefits of connecting with nature are undeniable.

There are lots of little ways to re-integrate nature into your daily routine—even if you live in a city. As someone who has traveled the world, studied as a monk, lived the life of a fast-paced entrepreneur, and then settled into a healthy work-life balance, here are a few techniques I’ve found work best:

1. Get out in the Wild and Test Yourself

Can you build a fire? Probably not. But you’re in good company.

Most of us have forgotten how to do really basic things to help us survive in nature. We’re not out there living off the land, and we’ve turned our backs on nature at every turn. It’s also why so many of us feel unmoored in modern society. What kind of animal forgets how to survive in the very environment it evolved in?

That said, it’s not too late to learn new (old) things. Wilderness training is not only useful, but it’s also fun. The core lessons you need to learn are fire, water, food, shelter. Once you have those four, you’re alive.

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And an immense sense of comfort comes when we learn how to survive on our own in the wild.

Once a quarter, I like to hike into the wilderness with my backpack and a couple days’ worth of food, sans phone or email. Unplugging increases my concentration and presence of mind, and helps me more fully invest in the experience. Just a quick reset can go a long way when you are immersed in nature.

It helps us calibrate back to our essential selves.

2. Root Down

One of the most powerful ways to tap into the earth’s energy is to practice qigong, the Chinese exercise system that translates to “energy work.”

My personal favorite is the Tree exercise, which increases leg strength, concentration, deep breathing, and energy flow. It’s designed to connect our energy field up with the earth under our feet and to keep us drawing from this abundant source at all times, just like an actual tree.

A plus is that you can do it anywhere, anytime.

Here’s how:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
  • Gently breathe through your nose, pointed toward your navel.
  • On the exhale, visualize tree roots that extend into the earth.
  • On the inhale, visualize white light coming from the roots and through your body, all the way to the top of your head.
  • Repeat for several breaths, with the roots going deeper each time until you imagine them reaching the planet’s core.

The more often you do this, the better your connection will be and the more rooted you’ll feel in your daily life.

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3. Take a Silent Walk Through the Woods

In my practice with a Taoist monk, I’ve learned a powerful silent-walking exercise that yields serious physical and emotional benefits.

Here’s how it works:

Go outside and begin walking very slowly and methodically. Inhale as you raise one knee up, then slowly exhale as your foot rolls from heel to toe on the ground. Now repeat on the other side.

The goal is to slow your gait and develop balance in your step. In fact, you shouldn’t be able to hear your footsteps at all.

At first, you’ll feel shaky and awkward—that’s just your office chair talking. But once your hips start to fire up again, you’ll gain core strength, which will improve your breath. As you get better, you can try it in different areas and on different surfaces.

And when you can walk on dry foliage and not hear anything, you’ll know you’ve arrived.

Once you’ve honed the skill, apply the same dilation to observing the patterns of nature around you. Slowing down helps us all feel better and learn from the greatest teacher of all—Mother Nature.

4. Listen to What the Plants Have to Say

Plants are a renewable source of positive energy and wisdom, and they have a lot to teach us.

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It may sound strange at first, but you can communicate with them and learn a great deal—as long you approach the practice with grace and intention.

Sit in a natural place with no distractions, other than a book or an app to help you identify the plants’ medicinal qualities. Pick a plant you have an affinity toward and sit or stand across from it. Start breathing into your belly few breaths and keep your gaze soft and unfocused on the plant, and reach out to connect with it.

You’ll quickly find that each plant has a distinct personality, so introduce yourself softly and respectfully. State your intentions and ask if you can learn from it. Most plants are very helpful and kind.

It may take a while to get the hang of it, but once you realize there is a symphony of life and wisdom surrounding you at all times, you’ll never be alone again.

5. Spend Some Time at Your Local Park

The primo nature experience is actually being out in the wild.

But sometimes it’s tough to get away from our daily demands, especially if you live in a city. We’ve all got jobs and other obligations and can’t just spend all our time in the woods. Everyone knows how hard it is to leave the city on Fridays after work—traffic can be hellish.

Odds are, though, that you can get to a park relatively easily. So do it.

I walk my dogs at the local park every day. It’s not Yosemite, but it’s just enough to anchor the qi and connect with some trees and grass. And it sure beats walking them on the concrete sidewalk.

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Find a place to tap into the energy of nature, wherever you are, and make it a habit to go there often. Maybe bring a blanket and a book. Bring friends, your kids, or your pets.

It’s free, it’s healthy, and it’s where you come from.

6. If Nothing Else, Bring the Outdoors In

Even when you can’t manage to get outside at all, you can enjoy the peace that comes from the natural world by bringing it into your home.

Aside from being visually calming, house plants are also great for your health. They release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, cleaning the air you breathe. In fact, NASA research showed that houseplants can remove up to 87% of air toxins in just 24 hours.[2] Beyond that, studies have shown that indoor plants can improve concentration and productivity by up to 15%[3] — making them perfect for your home and office alike. Certain plants, like snake plants and orchids, emit oxygen at night, making them perfect for sleep.

The Bottom Line

Surrounding ourselves with nature and purity invigorates us.

Instead of isolating ourselves from nature, we can honor her and bring her with us everywhere. From cultivating household plants to vegetable gardens to taking strolls in the park to backpacking in Yellowstone, there are numerous ways to reconnect with the earth.

When you achieve that sense of harmony and balance, it will be well worth it.

More Resources to Enhance Mental Health

Featured photo credit: Max van den Oetelaar via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Pedram Shojai

An author, filmmaker, and founder of a health and wellness platform at the cross section of health, environmentalism, and conscious capitalism.

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

How to Be Patient and Take Charge of Your Life

How to Be Patient and Take Charge of Your Life

When I googled the meaning of patience, it said:

“the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”

I have always struggled to be patient in my life. Even though I know that when I am able to be patient, I always get a better result. Being patient is quite a simple concept to apply but for some reason, it can be so difficult to put into practice.

Practising patience helps you to better manage the curveballs that life throws at you. Patience also brings calmness, optimism, hope and confidence to your life.

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” — John Quincy Adams

The key message is quite clear – when you practise patience, you are more likely to lead a successful and happy life.

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In this article, you will learn why being patient is good for you, and how to be patient to take better control of your life.

Why Being Patient Is Good for You

Patience is a great way to exercise self-control. When you are patient you are more likely to take charge of your life.

Here are three key benefits (there are many more) that practising the art of patience can bring to your life:

Better Decision Making

By learning patience, you will become better at making decisions. Patience gives you breathing space and therefore you are more comfortable with taking the time to assess difficult situations and reflect on how you wish to proceed.

You also develop more self- confidence and know that if you rush into making a decision it will not end well for you. The chance of making a big mistake is higher if your decision is made in haste.

A Well Balanced Life

By becoming more patient, you will greatly reduce the stress in your life.

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Because you are more self-aware, you have a better understanding of what makes you happy and you will tend to focus on doing the things that bring you joy. The result of this is that you become more aware of how to live your life in balance rather than constantly have to fight fires.

Better Relationships

By becoming more patient, you are more understanding, open and flexible towards others’ mistakes and shortcomings. As a result, you are able to build stronger and longer-lasting relationships.

Patience does not come easily to many of us, especially when we live in a world of constant disruption and change. Patience is a mindset and it is not something that comes overnight. If you truly want to be a more patient person, you do have to be prepared to do the work. Embracing patience in your life is part of a life journey and therefor you must be willing to be in it for the long haul.

If you can accept that you are okay with stepping out of your comfort zone and that developing a patient perspective will not come instantly, then you are ready to embrace patience into your life.

So what can you do to become more patient and take control of your life?

How to Be More Patient

Outlined below are 3 practical techniques you can apply right now into your life that will help you be more patient and take charge of your life.

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1. Understand What Triggers Your Feelings Of Impatience

The opposite of patience is impatience. Everyone has experienced the feeling of impatience many times in life – in fact, you can’t escape it!

For you to become more patient, it is important that you understand what triggers your feelings of impatience. What is it that you think about or feel right before you lose it? Once you know what triggers you, then you can work on using calming exercises to help you better manage those feelings of impatience when they start to build up.

Making yourself wait before you react, and practising deep breathing exercises are great techniques to help you manage those surging feelings of impatience. Counting to 100 under your breath is another technique to help you WAIT before you react.

2. Stop Doing Things That Are Not Important

We can get easily distracted and stressed when we are doing things that are not really important and are taking up a huge amount of time. One way of removing stress is to stop doing things that create more stress for you.

Take a few minutes out at the end of your day and reflect on the tasks you have done. Write these tasks down and then write down the tasks you have to do tomorrow.

Patience is about having a more positive and reflective perspective in life, so look at each of these tasks and decide which are top priorities for tomorrow and which tasks can wait for a few days. Then go do the important tasks. If you consistently practise this technique, you will slowly take back control over your life.

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3. Work on Changing Your Attitude

A person who is patient is able to assess situations from a more positive perspective. They tend to accept a difficult situation as it is and will not fight it or avoid it. They will work with it and try to work on a solution that will enable them to move forward.

Patience is all about perspective and how you look at situations. If you miss your bus or are running late for a meeting and stuck in traffic, you have the choice about how you react. A patient person will work on putting a positive spin to the situation and try to reduce the tension that potentially could potentially build up.

Having a more impatient perspective on life is not going to serve you well. Impatience will block you from living life where you are in control.

Techniques that you could use that will help you have a more positive outlook on life are:

  • Visualization. Try to step ahead of the problem. Visualize yourself facing the problem and how you dealt with it and achieved positive outcomes.
  • Get active and choose activities that will help you release the stress and tension you are feeling. There are many things you can do such as yoga, walking, breathing exercises, and meditation etc. Choose activities that bring you peace of mind and commit to doing these activities on a regular basis.

Final Thoughts

Practising patience in your life will enable you to have more freedom of choice and as a result, have more control of your life.

If you commit to the journey of living a patient life, the rewards that you will reap will be unbelievable. Who wouldn’t want to live a flourishing life where you are in charge?

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Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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