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When You Start To Do These 20 Things Today, Your Life Will Be Greatly Improved

When You Start To Do These 20 Things Today, Your Life Will Be Greatly Improved

Life can at times be difficult, boring, or just not quite what we envisioned for ourselves. We get stuck in a rut, a never-ending circle of bad habits, obligations, laziness, and fear of failure. We keep spinning our wheels in place and there never seems to be enough time to do anything about it. Well, I can assure you, there can be plenty of time if you decide to make it. I’m going to assume that initial spark of motivation to change , no matter how small, has brought you to this article, so in a sense, you’ve already made the first tiny step. Now it’s time to make some grown up steps towards self-improvement, and you can start by doing the things listed below.

1. Do a quick warm up and then stretch for about 15 minutes in the morning or during the day

Stretching at home

    When you get out of bed or any time during the day when you feel cramped, do a quick 5 minutes of light running or aerobic exercises to warm up the muscles and then stretch from head to toe for about 15 minutes. This will improve blood flow, make you feel fresh, prevent minor aches and pains, and make you less likely to injure yourself during physical activities.

    2. Start doing a fun form of cardio that lets you blow off steam

    Cardiovascular exercise is great for the heart and can help you blow out all the pent up adrenaline and anger you have. Just choose something that you find fun – for some it’s running long distance, for some it’s sprinting, some like dancing, some yet swimming or punching a heavy bag. Some 3-6 times a week should be enough.

    3. Develop a healthy sleep pattern

    Set a particular time when you want to go to sleep and a time when you wish to get up, and set up your alarm clock to wake you up at the same time every morning. Before going to bed, have a short wind-down ritual – showering, brushing teeth and turning off the lights – and make sure the room is free of all noise and lights.

    4. Cut down on sugary drinks and high-calorie foods with few micronutrients

    If you can’t just quit altogether, try to eat as little fast food as possible. You can switch to diet soda or home-made juice, drink plain black coffee and water. Consumption of anything that is deep fried, full of trans-fat and has no micronutrients or fiber has to be minimized for the sake of health and your figure.

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    5. Start eating more fruit and vegetables

    fruit and veggetables

      Speaking of micronutrients, plenty of vegetables with every meal and a few good servings of fruit each day will ensure that your body has what it needs to feel fresh, focused and ready for anything. It will also help you avoid catching most of the common pesky diseases or feeling sluggish.

      6. Do intense strength training 2-4 times a week

      This will make your muscles grow, but it will also strengthen bones and connective tissue, which will make you less injury prone, improve your aesthetic appeal and boost your confidence through the roof. Regular exercise will also improve your sex drive and help balance out your hormones.

      7. Try to be nice and polite to people throughout the day

      Not only will being polite and generally nice make people like you and more likely to help you out, it will also put you in a positive mindset and help you stay out of trouble. Many a fight has broken out because of a few harsh words and many friendships have started because of a few kind ones.

      8. Work on controlling you anger and letting go of grudges

      Serious fact: road rage and screaming outbursts in bars have gotten many people stabbed, shot and beaten. Grudges and easily hurt pride have ended countless relationships. Work on cool-down tactics like deep slow breathing, and apply them as soon as you feel you’re getting angry. Try not to stay angry with someone over a small thing for more than 10-60 minutes, and then just let it go.

      9. Learn how to protect yourself and those you love

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      back off

        Knowing how to protect yourself and those around you will lower your risk of getting assaulted, but it is about more than just knowing how to throw a punch. You need situational awareness, an understanding of how criminals work, an understanding of how violent people think, knowing what happens during dangerous situations, knowing the legal difference between a fight and self-defense, knowing how to secure your home, knowing what not to do avoid getting attacked, knowing how to be assertive etc. You’ll need to read up on all of these things or get some first-hand instruction, before working on your hand-to-hand combat and 200 meter dash skills.

        10. Devote an hour a day to reading books

        You can read just about anything from classical literature, art and history to books on gardening, staying safe or home DIY. Try to diversify your interests and read both fiction and non-fiction. You will become much more interesting because of all the new things you’ve learned and a lot of the information can come in handy.

        11. Dedicate some time to learning useful skills

        With some things it’s not enough just to read about them – you have to keep practicing to get better. The good news is that you can get good enough at doing small household repairs, cooking or using a piece of software in a few months of active practice. Find the skills that would be most beneficial to you and take 20-60 minutes out of your day to practice them.

        12. Come up with a schedule

        All this exercising, reading, practicing, meditating and anger management will require some spare time on your hands, and the only way to stay on top of things is by making a schedule. Fit in work and family time, but be sure have plenty of little tasks throughout the day and week that will help you improve instead of scheduling four hours of Netflix time.

        13. List the biggest problems you have and work on fixing them one by one

        There are always a few things that we keep in the back of our minds and that keep eating away at us, making us anxious and killing our focus. Make the list of the biggest problems in your life that you would like to solve and bad habits that you would like to change, and then direct most of your energy on one thing until you have solved it or at least made it a smaller problem. Then move on to the next, constantly trying to diminish their hold on you. Ditching bad habits is not easy, but it can be done and it will do wonders for your mental health.

        14. Take 10-20 minutes to meditate each day

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        Meditating to relax

          At the end of the day or whenever you feel stressed, just slip into something comfortable sit down with your back straight, and close your eyes two thirds of the way down and start drawing long slow breaths. When a thought enters your mind, acknowledge it and just let it pass over, like saying no thank you to a Jehovah’s Witness at your door. This will help you control your emotions and reduce stress.

          15. Name your biggest fears and insecurities and face them

          This can be done every day. Name all that you fear and that makes you anxious and insecure, and then address these issues one by one. Say out loud how some of these are irrational, overblown or can be and will be overcome in specific ways. Convince yourself that you are strong, charming and smart enough to overcome all of it, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone from time to time, so you can learn to handle challenges.

          16. Clean up your house

          Some people are slobs that thrive in chaos, but even they can find a method to the madness. Cleaning the room you spend most time in is essential – throw out the trash, dust, vacuum, let some air in, put things in their place, put away the pile of clothes on the chair in the corner, move all the junk off the floor and make some space. A clean home has a more professional feel to it and can keep you motivated and make you more efficient.

          17. Buy some new clothes that you look stunning in

          Looking good means feeling good and the right attire can take care of both those things. If you have no fashion sense, take someone who knows their stuff with you and get yourself a few new items that really bring out your best features. Trust your “stylist” and don’t worry, a lot of great clothes can be very affordable due to sales and if you look for quality rather than brand names – it’s all made in third-world factories anyway.

          18. Get out more and meet new people

          People having fun

            A lack of social life and a bit of variety when it comes to friends can lead to depression, close-mindedness and plenty of missed opportunities. Nothing will happen to you if you stay at home all the time or hang out with the same people in the same places. Not only will you get new experiences and learn new things, you may actually get some great job or career-building opportunities.

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            19. Focus more time and energy on improving your love life

            Going out is fun and all, but a lot of people are missing out on that great feeling of meeting someone new and having plenty of stress-reducing and endorphin-pumping human contact. So, make it a mission to approach cute and sexy people and get more comfortable around someone you like. If you are in a relationship make an effort to keep things hot and exiting, and don’t skimp on little gifts and fun dates.

            20. Start saying “No”, “Sorry” and “That’s interesting, go on” more often

            Saying “No” means knowing what you want, establishing boundaries, not letting people take advantage of you and not succumbing to peer pressure. Saying “Sorry” means you know you can make a mistake sometimes, that you care about other people’s feelings and that you care about keeping the peace more than you care about stroking your ego. The last one is all about letting others speak and listening to what they have to say – you’ll remember a lot of useful information about them and come off as a good friend. All of these will reduce stress, nip problems in the bud and strengthen relationships.

            I know this seems like a lot at first, but if you start making an effort right now, and begin doing these things regularly you will improve your life significantly within the next year.

            Featured photo credit: Amy Clarke/Never a frown, with golden brown via flickr.com

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            Ivan Dimitrijevic

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            Last Updated on June 18, 2018

            What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

            What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

            Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

            Video Summary

            Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

            Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

            Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

            Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

            This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

            Sitting Is the New Smoking

            Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

            The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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            Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

              Sit Properly

              If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

              Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

                Credit: StayWow

                Stand Up More

                Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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                Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

                Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

                Or get a standing desk.

                One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

                Exercise for Lower Back Pain

                Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

                But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

                The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

                Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

                Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

                This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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                Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

                Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

                There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

                Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

                I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

                Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

                If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

                Where to Start

                The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

                Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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                If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

                Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

                Keep a straight back.

                Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

                Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

                I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

                If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

                Stay Away From the Back Pain League

                Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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