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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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                                Published on November 14, 2018

                                Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                                Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                                With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                                For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                                In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                                Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                                Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                                It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                                For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                                Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                                Symptoms of Fatigue

                                Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                                • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                                • mental blocks
                                • lack of motivation
                                • headache
                                • dizziness
                                • muscle weakness
                                • slowed reflexes and responses
                                • impaired decision-making and judgement
                                • moodiness, such as irritability
                                • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                                • reduced immune system function
                                • blurry vision
                                • short-term memory problems
                                • poor concentration
                                • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                                Causes of Fatigue

                                The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                                • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                                • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                                • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                                • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                                Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                                Medical Causes of Fatigue

                                If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                                Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                                Anemia

                                Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                                Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                                There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                                Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                                Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                                This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                                Diabetes

                                Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                                Sleep Apnea

                                Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                                Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                                Thyroid disease

                                An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                                Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                                • Lack of sleep
                                • Too much sleep 
                                • Alcohol and drugs 
                                • Sleep disturbances 
                                • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                                • Poor diet 

                                Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                                • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                                • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                                • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                                • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                                Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                                Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                                • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                                • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                                • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                                How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                                Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                                1. Tell The Truth

                                Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                                To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                                Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                                The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                                One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                                • How you feel
                                • What time of day it is
                                • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                                • How your mind and body reacts

                                This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                                2. Reduce Your Commitments

                                When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                                If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                                When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                                Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                                3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                                If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                                Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                                If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                                Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                                Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                                4. Express More Gratitude

                                Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                                It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                                Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                                5. Focus On Yourself

                                Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                                There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                                But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                                We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                                6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                                Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                                Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                                The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                                Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                                7. Take a Power Nap

                                When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                                Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                                This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                                8. Take More Exercise

                                The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                                Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                                The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                                You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                                9. Get More Quality Sleep

                                To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                                Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                                My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                                10. Improve Your Diet

                                Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                                Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                                On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                                To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                                Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                                Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                                11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                                Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                                When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                                Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                                My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                                12. Get Hydrated

                                Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                                Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                                If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                                The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                                The Bottom Line

                                These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                                If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                                Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                                Reference

                                [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                                [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                                [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                                [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                                [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                                [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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