Nature and Well-being

A woman walking in forest
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“The natural world and its processes has much to teach us about the flexibility, creativity, and resilience that’s already within us, just waiting to unfurl.”Kelly Barron

Have you ever looked closely at those dense dark forests? There’s a lot we can learn from observing nature, specially plants. Lodgepoles and ferns dot landscapes and forests despite facing adversity from nature in the form of wildfires and lack of sunlight. They grow both in cold, wet winters and dry, hot summers. The wildfires help lodgepoles with their propagation strategy, it helps unlock the seeds in their hard cones, which otherwise would stay trapped inside. Ferns, no matter how small, make their existence felt in dense forests by availing every little spot available to grow. This small insignificant ancient plant “fern” grows everywhere among the large tall trees, including the barks of dead trees, hence populating and flourishing in the forest like no other species.

These plant species due to their resilience, claim to be the “real” kings of the forests where other tall trees hamper growth being dominant. Lodgepoles and ferns don’t just survive catastrophes. They thrive in their aftermath, says Kelly.

Endlessly inventive, unrelenting, and forever evolving, nature’s hallmark is resilience.”

According to Kelly, “Nature is more connected, collaborative, and communal than we realize. Survival of the fittest refers not to the competitive strength of a species but to a species’ “fitness” to adjust to its changing environment. We too can apply nature’s wisdom to improve our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Learning to adapt, collaborate, and renew ourselves will not only help us live more sustainably on earth, but also—like a towering lodgepole pine—flourish in the face of adversity.”

Many species face conflict when it comes to preying for food and mating, but it takes more energy to fight than adapt. Hence, these conflicts are short-lived. Nature can thrive only through cooperative relationships. A single wolf faces difficulty in bringing its prey down, but a pack of wolves works together so that everyone can have food. Similarly, many flowering plants build a relationship with fungi that helps colonize their roots. Due to this wood-wide-web which is an example of “underground connectivity network”, every plant and tree in the forest receives its share of nutrients.

As humans our primal need is that of connection, we die when we are alone. Covid-19 has been an epidemic of loneliness for us. It has reinforced the idea that humans crave togetherness, they are interconnected. The social distancing has affected our mental health adversely, because we are by nature social beings, we thrive when we socialize.

On the other hand, Covid-19 has also taught us how we have an innate ability to collaborate for mutual survival. Wearing masks, keeping distance, using sanitizers and getting vaccinated are forms of social solidarity that we are going to fight this together for our safety and survival. The give and take in nature exemplifies that we need to deepen friendships and create supportive networks.

Nature also teaches us to rest, renew and regenerate in order to grow and survive. Life is hard, but it persists like nature. Nature faces disasters, it breaks down, lets go, and allows the next generation to continue growth. We as humans have a hard time accepting change and loss in life. We do not see life-shattering events as divorce, death of a loved one, job loss and sickness as an opportunity to grow strong and renew ourselves. We tend to dwell on our past mistakes and mishaps. Kelly says that “by observing nature’s cycles, we can learn to accept the disruption and renewal that occurs in our lives. We can acknowledge the messy middle of transitions and the inevitable growth they foster.”

Catastrophes propel us towards a new level of growth, we struggle through transitions but nature shows us that it allows time for restoration. Alex Soojung remarks that “Rest is not work’s adversary, it’s work’s partner. They complement and complete each other.” Just like some animals hibernate, shed skin, trees lose their leaves, the sun rises and sets, we must acknowledge the wisdom of following activity with rest. We too can withstand the tumult of life, endure with hopefulness and renew ourselves.

Take a nature walk whenever you feel down, and you’ll feel a renewed sense of faith and purpose in life.

Screens are Monsters: Kick Your Screen Habit in 6 Easy Ways

Screens are monsters that manipulate us into feeding them.

Everyone knows that screens are bad for health and well-being, but still, kids, teens, and adults have a hard time putting their digital devices down! Why is it so?

These monsters are actually manipulating us into feeding them! They cunningly beckon us to take a peek and seduce us with their pings and rings. Phones themselves aren’t inherently addictive, it’s the apps that do the trick. They offer rewards and gratification in form of likes and comments on social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat etc.

Read here:

https://maria-anwar06.medium.com/screens-are-monsters-kick-your-screen-habit-in-6-easy-ways-6f20180862ad

To Write or Not to Write!

Who said that everyday should be productive?

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Everyone here who talks writing, tells you to write, write more, write daily and write spontaneously. Nobody tells you that it’s okay “not to write” sometimes!

Being a freelance writer can be tough at times. Those deadlines, your pending writing projects and your valued clients, all make sure that you’re mentally occupied but there are days when you don’t feel like doing anything, and there are days when you would rather like to read, than write.

Don’t compare yourself to others, everybody is different. If you really want to compare something, compare your unhealthy routine with that of a healthy one. Are you a well-rested person? Do you eat healthy? Do you exercise? Whatever we’re going through because of a global pandemic, calls for deeper understanding of our priorities and habits. Stress is mostly the cause of a weaker immune system and hence all ailments!

I say take it easy folks! If you take a break for a day, the world won’t come crashing down on you! After all we are human and not robots or machines that keep on running non-stop. Our bodies and minds need rest, self-care isn’t about being selfish. Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.

Whether you work full-time or part-time, are a single parent like me who is a freelancer, or even if you’re just a housewife, you MUST look after yourself so that those you are tending to and are working for, find you in a healthy sate of mind. Eating well, exercising and resting will all improve your overall health and will in turn increase your productivity. You will finally come up with a writing that shines, glows and inspires!

We often hear about writer’s block, procrastination and lack of motivation from people who write for a living. The causes behind such issues are usually a lack of routine and work-life balance. Make it a rule that you’ll take break from work, will go for a nature walk and enjoy a family activity often.

There’s no need to get overworked, so much so that it takes a toll on your health. Keep as many clients as you can handle as a writer. Prefer quality over quantity and you’ll see yourself making progress. Deadlines and projects won’t be a headache once you achieve balance by taking care of yourself first.

Avoid squeezing the last drop of energy out of yourself by consuming tons of caffeine, or smoking like a chimney! Replace the junk and unhealthy stuff with fruits, herb teas and fresh juices that are good stress-busters and nerve relaxants.

Read something nice and light to stabilise your mood and stay happy! Life is a blessing, and it is too short to be spent fretting and worrying. Take good care of yourself, create a balance and everything will fall into place 🙂

The Power of Words

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Think before you speak! Words hold the power to build, as well as destroy. Keeping a check on what we read, hear or say, can help us build a positive outlook on life, achieve goals and consequently improve our general well-being.

Words used as a weapon, can shape societies and individual thought patterns.

There’s a famous saying in Urdu language that when translated in English means, “A person who’s hurt using a sword heals faster, than the one who’s hurt using the tongue.” Put simply, it implies that the tongue is sharper than the sword!

We’ve heard so many stories about verbal abuse, we have seen many men and women cry recalling the hurtful words they heard in their childhood, we have read many blogs where authors literally bleed with their words!

Where words can bring people close to us, can counsel people to change, can soothe and persuade; they can also manipulate, drive people away, hurt and end some of the most beautiful relationships in our lives..

Words matter!

The way we choose our words, shapes our lives and our perception of it. Words, whether they are heard, read or spoken, elicit emotional responses in people, and leave a psychological impact on our minds. Hence smart people say, choose your words and your company wisely!

If you sit with a person who is a habitual complainer, you’ll soon start feeling depressed and unhappy. This is because a person who complains, and is not content with himself uses negative words, or negative terms that drain you out of your own positivity. Having such people around can make you pessimistic and focus on the shortcomings of life, instead of being grateful! Sometimes we all feel the need to cry, unburden ourselves and undergo a catharsis, but overdoing these may hint that we need therapy or counselling. Believe me, sharing your depressing thoughts or disturbing mental patterns with a professional, help more than sharing them with random people around you.

You must have experienced that spending time with people who are happy and content, raises your energy level, makes you stay optimistic and focus on the good side of things. Having such people in your life can do you a lot of good, and you’ll always be thankful for their presence!

Postmodern philosophers are of the view that “words create our reality”, and if we ponder over this, we’ll very much agree with it. We become our thoughts and our words. How words impact behaviour, responses and shape our experiences can even be felt by small children. If you talk to a stubborn child in a polite and loving manner, you have more chances of making them do what you require them to. On the contrary if you talk to a child in a taunting and threatening way, there are 99% chances that he or she is not going to listen to you, and even form a negative image of you in their minds.

There’s a reason that school teachers are told and trained to be patient, because the “words” they’ll use while teaching will strongly impact a child who’s personality is growing, and is undergoing a sensitive phase of its development. Telling a child or a grown-up repeatedly that they’re a failure or they can’t do anything right, will eventually shatter their confidence, rip them of self-esteem, while telling them that nothing is difficult, and that one should keep trying; will build resilience and perseverance in them.

Believe me, it’s all about “how” we say something using our “careful selection of words.” Books that leave a lasting impression, authors that compel us to think in a specific way do it all with just “words!”

Photo by Ylanite Koppens

Since we as an enlightened lot base our knowledge on scientific inquiry, lets come to the neurological aspect of the “use of words”.

Cognitive scientists view the brain as a prediction machine, constantly comparing what is happening around us to expectations based on experience — and considering what should happen next.

Our brain predicts what is about to come or happen depending on what we hear on daily basis. Bastien Boutonnet and Gary Lupyan, who published their research in the Journal of Neuroscience, say that we can “jump-start our vision with the power of words.” These scientists selected some words in audio form and made a group of people hear them, after each word the same people were shown an image. It was observed that after hearing those specific words, the people had made predictions about the pictures that followed. Hence it was concluded that a word cue has a strong connection to how brain processes visual information and that “language is shaping perceptual mechanisms to make more effective predictions of what is about to occur.”

That is why we often hear successful people say, make your dreams come true by changing the way you speak and think. If you take words like “I can’t” and “If only” out of your dictionary, and replace them with “I can, I will”, you’ll surely make it happen. Words hold power!