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World’s Most Mysterious And Mesmerizing Forests That Will Leave You Breathless

World’s Most Mysterious And Mesmerizing Forests That Will Leave You Breathless

Forest tourism has been a popular activity for decades, as people seek out beautiful and unique landscapes across the globe. Whether its for a world-class hike or to take breathtaking photographs, we are drawn to these thickets of towering trees and diverse wildlife. The peaceful quiet and the absence of most of civilization’s marks allows us moments in time we never forget. Below are some of the world’s most stunning, unforgettable forests. Where would you go first?

Crooked Forest, Poland

    image source: Lisa Beach650 via Flickr

    The Crooked Forest is exactly what it sounds like: a small forest of bent pine trees, located in western Poland. The trees were planted around 1930, when Germany controlled Poland, and grew with their bent shapes at roughly 90 degree angles. Some guess it was a deliberate modification by humans, though no one can say how or why this would be done. The trees grew normally for 7-10 years before whatever method or event caused them to start growing crookedly.

    Aokigahara (Sea of Trees), Japan

      image source: keio via Flickr

      The Sea of Trees or Aokigahara forest resides northwest of Mount Fuji in Japan. It is a dark, dense forest with hidden caves and a curious absence of most wildlife. You might recognize Aokigahara for its grisly reputation as “the Suicide Forest”. In 1998, 73 dead bodies were found in the forest, with many of them appearing to be suicides. In 2002, 78; in 2004, 108; and in 2010, 54. The forest’s fame has become such a concern that watchmen have been hired to do sweeps of the forest in an attempt to prevent further suicides.

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      The Red Forest, Ukraine

        image source: Matt Shalvatis via Flickr

        The Red Forest, originally the Worm Wood Forest, is located within the 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) area affected the Chernobyl nuclear incident in 1986 in Ukraine. As a result of the radiation, the forest turned a ginger-brown color, earning its current name. Most of the forest was bulldozed and buried under carpet in order to partially replant the area. Bits of civilization from abandoned towns are still there, like the old bumper car pictured above.

        Luntai Huyang Poplar Forest, China

          image source: china.notspecial.org

          Luntai Huyang Forest is the largest, densest, and best preserved population of diversiform-leaved poplars in the world. The name of this tree means “the most beautiful tree” in the Uygur language, one of China’s many ethnic minorities. It has a remarkable ability to withstand drought, sand, and harsh winds, ironic considering the forest’s proximity to expanses of desert.

          Redwood National and State Parks, California

            image source: Justin Kern via Flickr

            The Redwood National and State Parks in California consist of Redwood National Park, the Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith State Park, and Prairie Creek State Park. Redwood trees are one of the tallest tree species on Earth, able to reach up to 397 feet (115.5 m) high. A number of threatened animal species reside in the parks. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve.

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            Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

              image source: flöschen via Flickr

              This park is part of the larger Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and is one of the most diverse ecosystems in East Africa. It contains a wide range of both plant and animal species, including a notable population of mountain gorillas. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

              Olympic National Park, Washington

                image source: James Gaither via Flickr

                Located on the Olympic peninsula of Washington State, the Olympic National Park was preserved by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1938, and has since been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Hoh and the Quileute tribes reside here. The park contains a diverse range of features, including old-growth, glacial mountains, and temperate rain forest.

                Black Forest, Germany

                  image source: Roland via Panoramio

                  This thickly-wooded forest includes moutains, rivers, and Mummelsee lake. There are also a couple museums, such as the Black Forest Open Air Museum which features reconstructions of the 16th-17th century life of the local population at that time. This is reportedly the setting of many of the Grimm brother’s fairytales as well, giving it an extra whimsical appeal.

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                  Maolan National Nature Reserve, China

                    image source: China Tour Advisors

                    The Maolan National Nature Reserve is a rare forest due to its Central Asian tropical karst features, which offers an exciting ecosystem much-valued by the scientific community. Karst topography is a rare landscape, and most areas with this feature are barren, making Maolan a true treasure for scientific research. The area has plenty of lush vegetation, mineral-rich rocks and soil, and underground caves.

                    Devil’s Tramping Ground, NC, USA

                      image source: Jason Horne via Flickr

                      Not so much the forest itself as a specific area of it, Devil’s Tramping Ground is the name given to a spot in a North Carolina forest that is swathed in legend. The area, as pictured above, is a circular patch of land which is mostly devoid of plant life. Local lore holds that this is a spot where the devil stomps around in a circle, plotting the destruction of mankind. Scientists from North Carolina’s DOA took soil samples from the spot and tested them, finding the soil to be too sterile and acidic to support plant life, but many still believe the myth.

                      Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica

                        image source: Clifton Beard via Flickr

                        This large reserve in Costa Rica stretches over 10,500 hectares (26,000 acres) and contains a highly diverse ecosystem with 2,500 plant species, 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, 120 reptilian and amphibian species, and thousands of insects species. “Cloud forest” refers to a category of tropical or subtropical forest which has consistent or frequent low-level cloud coverage.

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                        Sagano Bamboo Forest, Japan

                          image source: Casey Yee via Flickr

                          Forests aren’t only for trees. This stunning bamboo forest in the Arashiyama district of Japan contains more than a dozen varieties of bamboo, growing to enormous heights and blanketing the area. Some of the plants are up to 100 feet tall!

                          Yellowwood State Forest, IN, USA

                            image source: Elizabeth Nicodemus via Flickr

                            The Yellowwood State Forest gets its name from the yellowwood tree..Besides its beautiful landscape, the forest is known for one other thing: the presence of large boulders in the branches of three individual trees. Each boulder has an estimated weight of 400 lbs. (180 kg) and is wedged at the base of each tree’s branches. Nobody knows how or why these boulders got there, and theories range from tornadoes or floods to UFOs.

                            Ancient Wuda Forest, China

                              image source: Gizmodo

                              The Wuda Forest in northern China was buried under thick volcanic ash from a volcanic eruption 298 million years ago, preserving the forest but hiding it completely. In 2012, scientists finished reconstructing the ancient forest, which stretches 20 sq. kilometers (12.4 miles). Many of the trees were knocked down in the volcanic blast, of course, but the forest was considered an amazing site as a number of long-extinct plant species were unearthed and identified.

                              Ardennes

                                image source: Luxembourg belge via Flickr

                                The Ardennes forest was the site of several of Europe’s most famous battles in the last century: the Battle of the Ardennes in 1914, the Battle of France in 1940, and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. It is a densely forested and often foggy area. The fog can be so great that in the Battle of the Ardennes, French and German troops bumped into each other due to the fog. Besides its historical significance, Ardennes is also rich in minerals and wildlife.

                                Featured photo credit: Olympic National Park, Washington/Michael Hanson via photography.nationalgeographic.com

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                                Last Updated on March 30, 2020

                                Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                                Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                                Feeling tired all the time?

                                Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

                                I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

                                Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

                                If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

                                In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

                                What Happens When You’re Too Tired

                                If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

                                Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

                                • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
                                • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
                                • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
                                • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
                                • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
                                • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
                                • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

                                Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

                                Unfortunately, yes!

                                Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

                                Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

                                Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

                                Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

                                Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

                                Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

                                1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
                                2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
                                3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

                                The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

                                It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

                                Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

                                Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

                                If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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                                Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

                                Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

                                But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

                                Symptoms of fatigue include:

                                • Difficulty concentrating
                                • Low stamina
                                • Difficulty sleeping
                                • Anxiety
                                • Low motivation

                                These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

                                Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

                                How Much Sleep Is Enough?

                                The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

                                Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

                                So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

                                The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

                                Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

                                Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

                                If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

                                And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

                                It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

                                4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

                                Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

                                1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
                                2. Exercising regularly
                                3. Using stressbusters
                                4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

                                So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

                                After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

                                In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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                                I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

                                Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

                                • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
                                • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
                                • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
                                • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

                                The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

                                And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

                                But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

                                L — Living Healthy

                                Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

                                So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

                                In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

                                As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

                                Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

                                1. Unplug

                                Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

                                So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

                                2. Unwind

                                Do something to relax.

                                Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

                                3. Get Comfortable

                                Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

                                Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

                                Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

                                Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

                                If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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                                Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

                                This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

                                E — Exercise

                                Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

                                That’s what happened in my case.

                                But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

                                As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

                                My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

                                That made sense to me.

                                So, I decided to swim.

                                I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

                                Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

                                Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

                                So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

                                If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

                                A — Attitude

                                Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

                                When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

                                Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

                                Breathing.

                                But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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                                Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

                                1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
                                2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
                                3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
                                4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
                                5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
                                6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

                                This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

                                When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

                                Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

                                N — Nutrition

                                Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

                                If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

                                Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

                                For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

                                Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

                                Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

                                1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
                                2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
                                3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
                                4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
                                5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
                                6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
                                7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
                                8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
                                9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

                                Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

                                That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

                                Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

                                The Bottom Line

                                If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

                                If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

                                If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

                                • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
                                • Regular Exercise You Love
                                • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
                                • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

                                Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

                                More Tips to Help You Rest Better

                                Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

                                Reference

                                [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
                                [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
                                [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
                                [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
                                [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
                                [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
                                [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
                                [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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