My goodness me!

Currently revising for my last examination for this entire study year and let me tell you, it has been such a beast of a year! 🙅🏻 However, I have learnt so much despite being absolutely swamped with work, additional reading and preparing for examinations. Studying psychology is most definitely serious business and the amount of knowledge which we have to accumulate is broad and at times decidedly complicated. It does make me feel very proud of myself though, for making it thus far and I am still hopelessly in love with this field. I simply cannot see myself doing anything else in the future than this. I did however have to put 365evermore on hold for most part of the year. I simply did not have time for updating here as well as staying on top of training, socialising and studying. But here we are – 11 essays later, two statistics tests, one poster and in two weeks the final examination of this study year. I am a tad hesitant about the examination but for some odd reason feel quite calm as well perhaps because I totally feel like I have learnt so much and rest rather comfortably in that feeling. So, bring on the 7th of June!

Shortly after the examination I will be flying back home to Sweden to spend some time with mum and completely collapse for a week or two. Truly looking forward to enjoying the sun, walking on the beach (take in the lovely ocean..mmm!) and enjoy fantastic food and the company of a most loved one. It is certainly much needed, much longed for! I will return mid June with a few changes to 365evermore and a bit of a reboot, stay tuned!

And just like that..

I am back in love with statistics and everything involved. ❤︎ I have spent the past days re-reading all of my notes, going over various forum posts and re-listening to recorded tutorials to figure out where I had gone wrong in my calculations. It was stressful even horrifying at times and there were moments when I thought to myself ‘this is it, I will never learn to understand this…I am done. D.O.N.E!‘. Luckily I am very stubborn and have a rather good gut feeling about things so I kept on going, and yesterday I finally found the solution to all my statistical problems. And just like that, a lot of things simply seemed to click into place and I could see the bigger picture of what I was trying to do. The much needed ‘light bulb moment’ had finally arrived! So, I am currently writing up my experiment and results, which is going swimmingly now. Worst part is over, because explaining what I did, how I did it and why I did it is the easy part in my book. Anyway, my plan is to be done my Friday evening, so I then can take on the next two assignment that are due on the 6th and 7th. Studying is hard work, and the closer you get to finishing the harder it gets. I am rather amazed by the steep learning curve this year and increased demands, phew!

Running and the benefits of being outdoors.

Sunday, and its all blue skies outside couldn’t be nicer weather to be honest. Of course still winter and cold (-10 this morning) but I cannot wait till I will be out running in a couple of hours. Till then I am trying my best to finish a psychology assignment involving SPSS and Anova. I really enjoyed SPSS to begin with, but now it is getting a bit more complicated and I must admit that I am a tad confused. Hopefully it will be crystal clear after this assignment. I often find that I tend to learn and develop the most during assignment weeks. I suppose it is because my brains had enough time process all the information and once sat down and re-reading everything fall into place. Anyway, for the time being I’m a bit stuck and waiting for my much needed ‘light bulb moment’ to appear, those of you that are students will know exactly what I mean!

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Anyway, in a couple of hours I will gear up warm and head off out in the sunshine for 40 minutes of rejuvenating running therapy. Since my last post I have only had to run at the gym once, and to be perfectly honest I hope that I wont have to go back and do it again! As I have stated before, I love the gym for strength training – just not for running. I need the fresh air, greenery and the immense sensation of complete freedom when I gaze across the Swabian alps. My psychology studies have recently been going over the concept of restorative environments – a place or situation where I as an individual am able to recover baseline levels of functional resources and capabilities that may have been lessened by stress or under-stimulation. Simply said; one way for me to restore those levels is to spend time outdoors in nature, and it is my reason for always running outdoors if it is possible.

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Psychological research suggest that some places indeed are better for ones well-being such as natural environments and natural aesthetics. Evidence for this have been provided by many including Roger Ulrich (1983) who investigated how hospital patients recovery was affected by whether or not they had a window which looked out on  a natural view. Results indicated that this was the case, showing faster recovery and increased ability to deal with pain when exposed to natural environments. Greenery matters folks, and nature truly matters to us as human beings. Our bodies does not only need to move to remain healthy our mind and body also reacts to our environment its shapes, colours, textures and sounds. If we constantly are surrounded by ‘non natural’ cold environments our bodies react accordingly and stress levels may increase.

To ease stress levels for people living in a city, public parks were constructed as a source of relaxation from the busy city life and an opportunity to reconnect with natural settings. To me, this is where ‘ecopsychology’ really gets my juices flowing, I am so fascinated by how our brain reacts to nature and how healing it can be to spend some time outdoors. This is yet another reason to why many medical doctors and psychiatrists ordinate rest and outdoors activities instead and/or in combination with anti depressants. Nature heals, nature is natural and of great importance for our mental health. All of this knowledge and understanding does serve as a great motivation to spend more time outdoors, to hike, run and enjoy the beautiful world we live in. Do you feel the same or do you prefer and find comfort in truly urban environments, and if so – why do you think that is the case?

Keen to learn more about restorative environments?

Roger Ulrich – Green is good for you  ←
Ulrich, R. S. (1983) ‘Aesthetic and affective response to natural environment‘, in Altman, I. and Wohlwill, J. F. (eds) Behaviour and the Natural Environment, New York, Plenum Publishing, pp. 85-126. You can buy the book here!
Mind.org.uk – A new green agenda for mental health  ←

Back to nordic walking.

Started this morning with some nordic walking in the nearby areas, it is a really nice way to wake up mind and body before breakfast. Ideally I would have loved to go for a proper hike in the national park but since it is gym day today it had to be a shorter walk instead. Went out for a run yesterday which was a lot more enjoyable than the former one so I am feeling great about my training at the moment. Though I had a bit of a break, I am slowly and finally able to ease my way back into a more active life again. Thumbs up for that!

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Warm oatmeal porridge and gorgeous American blueberries after the walk and now I have the fuel for a few hours of studying before heading off the gym. Really enjoying these two psychology modules at the moment, investigating the ‘theory of mind’ and animal minds. Incredibly to develop a better understanding of the similarities as well as differences between humans and non human animals minds. So far it has actually made me even more steady in my belief of staying away from eating meat even though that is not at all the aim of the course. However, wider knowledge  of animals emotional lives and ability to interpret their surroundings does make me even more humble towards all the beautiful creatures that we share our world with.

Saturday evening, study books and running plans!

Spending my Saturday evening in front of the computer, creating various mind maps with the fantastic ‘Simple mind‘ app. If you are a student and do not use it already, go and download it pronto! You will not be disappointed, it is that good! This study year is rather packed with information and I spend most of my days studying either theory or numbers (currently learning SPSS). I really don’t mind spending most part of my weekend studying, I love my subject and when you love what you do everything seem rather easy and enjoyable. Though I don’t mind studying, I also believe that it is important to have breaks and live life a little. Yesterday evening was one of those times when I took the evening off to go out for some yummy sushi with my fiancé and a couple of his colleagues. Celebrating that they had published some work in a research journal a while back. We all had a fabulous time eating plenty of food, drinking a bit of sake while chatting and laughing the evening away. Enjoying life, simple as that!

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Anyway, tomorrow I will have yet another date with my books and computer. However I do have a run planned so it is going to be interesting to see how my body will react to that since the last run was a bit of a drag. I do think it was due to the ‘pre virus outbreak’ drowsiness in my body though, since I did come down with a cold and a sore throat two days after the run. I don’t know if that was the true reason for my low energy at that time, I do however know that I am so very psyched to go out for a run tomorrow! Garmin is charged, my running clothes are folded and ready, shoes are cleaned and my spirit is high! I hope you all are enjoying your Saturday evening whatever you may be up to!

I cannot help but pull the earth around me | How to destress and reap its benefits.

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Saturday and I am a proud spinach warrior(ess). Well, not really a warrior, if anything I am a lot more of a lover than a warrior any time of the day. I have spent most of my day outdoors in the lovely sunshine, met up with the boyfriend at lunch, went for a rejuvenating power- walk to soak up the sun while enjoying the fabulous view of a couple of buzzards performing sky circles in the air. The beauty and the grace of their every moment will never cease to mesmerise me. The artistry in preserving energy from the warm beams of the sun while at the same time being able to gaze down below is a heavenly privilege indeed. But really, how lucky are we not to live here and now? Some days, such as today I have to pinch myself in an effort to ‘wake up’ and fully – with all that I am – enjoy the beauty that is all around. It makes me realise how tremendously grateful I am for the life that I’m able to lead, for the freedom I have to speak, for the opinions I am allowed to voice, for the possibility to educate myself and being able to enjoy the many comforts of my every day life. I think these moments of silent reflection are vital to appreciate the otherwise considered mundane, the everyday things and incidents that is easy to take for granted without contemplating the bigger picture. Thus, to stop and take it all in, is my way of finding great peace within, to slow down and simply allow myself to exist in the now, free from the pressure of life itself and the stressful environment our busy lives often can be.

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I firmly believe that the body does not know the difference between physical and emotional stress. Many people train as if there was no tomorrow despite being absolutely drained emotionally. I am no personal trainer so I do not know if its possible to achieve good results while carrying pent up stress in your body. But, as a budding psychologist I wholeheartedly believe that too much stress can destroy bodies, minds and peoples lives.

The importance of allowing yourself time to do nothing and using that time to teach your mind and body how to fully relax is a vital skill in todays society.

Compared to former social systems and current collectivist societies, our western contemporary society is constantly increasing its demands on the individual. We have moved from being happy campers in a much bigger machinery where the efforts of everyone was of more importance than the individuals to a society where the achievements of the individual is paramount. Contrary to the collectivist social system, the western world values cognitive intelligence- above emotional, and as such leave very little room for  developing skills in self-awareness. Without this essential skill we also lack the ability to understand how our emotional state of mind can create stress, and subsequently impact our general health. As a result, far too many people push themselves until their physical bodies crash, literally. The shortcoming in understanding and listening to our emotional needs, emerge in many of the present stress-related problems our health service is currently battling. Because what happens when we solely focus on the surface and very little on the inside? Well, we crash and burn. Perhaps not at once, but sooner or later it comes down to two options; crash or learn.

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I am by no means innocent of taking part in the rat-race that an individualist society brings forth, I too strive for my own individual achievements. It does not matter if its related to training or studying, I want to succeed and more so, I want to be truly good (to not say, brilliant) at what I am doing. It’s a notion that has been incorporated in every cell of my body since I was very young. Achievement is key and the problem with this is that the concept of self-worth is now being measured by how well we perform instead of the fact that we partook. Stress has many faces, and it impacts people differently – I do believe that the best grounds for success is to first achieve and learn how to maintain a sound balance in life. To allow ourselves to simply stop every now and then is a good start to reconnect body and mind. It’s important to challenge ourselves to begin noticing the little mindless things as well as the grand gestures and other significant aspects of our lives.

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To me, the health conscious food I carefully prepare represents finding peace and balance in my life. It’s a magnificent tribute to my body and mind, to everything that I am. But I also find balance and beauty in the many hikes I do in the national park, through the comforting voices of the majestic trees and the many opportunities to lose myself in daydreams while watching the birds of prey. However it is not only in solitude I ground myself, its also in the true meetings with people that lead with their hearts. In the many warm words that lingers within my mind for years, sometimes outliving the individual that once formed the conversation in perfect balance with his or her very essence. Its in the appreciations and abundant gratitudes, in the many thank you’s and I love you’s that forever flows within me, around me and out of me. And perhaps most of all, I find life-balance in my training routine. In the many runs, in the sometimes heavy legs, in the featherlight legs, in the bouncing feet and in the never-ending deep all-encompassing breaths cheered on by my beating heart. The immense inner peace that exercise brings forth is my biggest love of them all, and I am in absolute awe of how my mind so effortlessly controls my body. How it all just finds its balance if I simply let it, despite starting every day anew. I love how easy and relaxed life feels when its just me and the path ahead, and I cannot help but want to gently pull the earth around me, enveloping my entire being in its utter balance and inner peace.

To gently let go of the past study-year.

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After a well-deserved week of relaxation mixed with a few outdoor runs in the pouring rain (one of my favourite things to do in the summer) my attention is now focused on 365evermore solely. I always need a week after finishing the last examination to ground myself again, or perhaps find a ‘new meaning’ if you like. I know that it can be difficult for non-students to relate to this feeling as the concept of ‘vacation’ when you work is completely different and usually something that is fully and whole-heartedly embraced. However, I believe it is the constant pressure to perform at your very best when you are a student that makes it a lot more difficult to accept the abrupt end once the last essay is handed in. Don’t get me wrong, it is lovely to have finished yet another year and to be one year closer to achieving my degree. But for me, there is a combined ‘sadness’ and ‘sigh of relief’ at the end of of every study year. Perhaps it’s because I love, love, love the field of psychology and being able to study this does not only challenge me it also feeds my never-ending hunger to learn everything I possibly can fit into my brain during a study year. And this year have been fabulous, so many pieces have fallen into place and I feel a lot more sure of my own knowledge within the field.

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A week has passed since I handed in my last essay, and the university related Whatsapp- and Facebook groups are slowly entering summer-hibernation (or perhaps I should say aestivation) and discussed topics have switched from being psychology related to now mainly entail plans for the summer and stories about sunny days spent in the garden enjoying life. And somewhere in the midst of all this, I finally found myself beginning to relax and gently letting go of the past study year. Shoulders lowered back down, feet comfortably up, a good book in my hand and wholly allowing the loving sun to kiss my face.

Absence, month of May is bringing me to my knees!

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May is here and it is my most challenging month of the year since all my final essays are due at the end of this month. I am so busy at the moment I barely have time to breathe, but it is okay I actually quite enjoy working under tight deadlines. As a matter of fact I prefer it, its always been that way for me when it comes to studying. I asked my mum about this once (she used to be a university lecturer) and she said that it is very common among students to wait to the very last minute and that many excel at that point too. Not everyone of course, but many. Now, my current essay writing isn’t done in the very last minute as I have quite some time left, but it is still tight time wise and in particular since I don’t budge on my training schedule (6 days / week). However, I often find that training clears my head and its easier to write efficiently after a morning run compared to staying home a whole day trying to force it out.

Anyway, just wanted to let you all know that I am alive and that I am typing away on my essays while munching on some lovely fruit to keep me going. I am aware that it is awfully silent in here, but I will return in full force at the end of May and then for the entire summer until my third university year starts. I already kind of fear (with more than a bit of excitement though hehe!) the steep workload that awaits next study year, eep!

Let’s talk about…Is ‘time’ the reason to why people do not train?

Aprils fools weather definitely hit home the last couple of days as the weather has switched between sunny blue skies to rain and even snow. Despite enjoying most weather (all you need to do is dress for the occasion right?) I decided to skip my outdoors run today and headed off to gym instead to pay a visit to the treadmill. I used to love running on treadmills a couple of years ago, but I must say that I definitely enjoy outdoors running a lot more these days. Not because I get bored, as I tend to listen to podcasts during indoor runs, but because its just not as much fun. I love the constant ‘forward movement’ that an outdoors run bring, it just does not feel the same on the treadmill. Additionally, I am an outdoorsy kind of lass, and having an hour in the forest rejuvenates not only my body but also my mind. Furthermore, the possibility of bumping into or spotting various wildlife (I am crazy about birds of prey in particular) is also something I thoroughly enjoy. But perhaps the least expected reason is because it is easy, I go outside my door and begin – no bus ride to the gym, no waiting around and no changing of clothes. When I am done in the forest, I go home. No time wasted.

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Because is it not true, that time is the main reason to why many people skip training altogether. As a busy university student, currently balancing three essays due at the end of May, everything seems to be about saving on unnecessary time-consuming activities. I do however believe that most people could find the time to train if it was a part of their everyday schedule and something held high on the list of ‘life priorities’. Additionally, I think whatever effort you put in training-wise, will come back to you as a bundle of extra energy aiding your everyday life, making you even more efficient when you need it the most. As such it is a sad state of affairs to read the latest research on training habits in my home country of Sweden and face the reality that only 10% of the entire population devote time to train. Moreover, half of the Swedish population fit the category of ‘overweight’ and though I realise that the calculations for weight in particular may include people that aren’t inactive or even unfit per se. Let’s ponder on this for a second, by using my boyfriend as an example:

former competitive swimmer – still an avid swimmer, devoted climber and fell walker. He is 167cm tall and weighs in on 73kg, landing on a BMI that equals ‘overweight’. However, when actually investigating his body mass, the numbers tell a different story, 43% muscles and 17% fat. Concluding, whenever analysing statistic evidence, it is important to investigate exactly how these numbers have been measured. Perhaps in this case the numbers of overweight people actually do ‘lie’ and as such include a huge amount of people that actually are fit and healthy.

But even so, the numbers are terrifying in their own right, bluntly identifying some of the problems our  society currently are- and will be battling for years to come. Because when 90% of a population choose to ignore health advice and actively disregard  honouring their bodies and general well being, then it simply has to be about more than only time. In spite of this, I cannot help but wonder how much of this attitude towards training originates from the conception that all training is time-consuming and equals expensive gym memberships or additional props. Though I am not thinking of going into the field of sport psychology, I am still keen on getting a better understanding  of the general lack of interest in training and staying healthy. Because there seem to be a definite gap between the idea of wanting to ‘look’ healthy, and putting in the actual work and being that person.

Back on track | And a fruity treat 365evermore style!

So, we are 12 days into 2016 and I have been utterly busy ever since mid December and until today basically. After a very relaxing Christmas (plenty of lovely gifts, will show you some later on!) and a tremendous New Years Eve I all of a sudden realised that I wanted to re-write my Psychology essay, so yeah, that is what have been occupying me since the start of this year. Perhaps not the best thing in the world to think of the first day of the year but I must admit the final result of my essay was so much better than the first draft. Fingers crossed my tutor and marker will think so too!

Anyway, due to being busy writing away I have only had time to keep up my training routine (been lifting some rather heavy weights in the gym which I currently love doing!) but all the hours sat still writing has also made me skip a cooked lunch a few times and instead indulged in a bowl of yummy fruit! I wanted to show you all since I personally think it is a fantastic thing to do to boost your body with some fabulous vitamins and nutrition. You have to excuse the rather dull colours in these pictures but the weather is horrendously grey and dark which makes it (at least for me and my newbie photograph skills) impossible to take any bright and lovely photos! Hopefully you will enjoy this despite the lack of daylight.Version 2

I start by adding 1 banana (130 gram) and one kiwi (20 gram), this alone looks so yummy that I could eat it at once but since this actually were my lunch today I needed a few more fruits and berries to add up the calorie count. Please do note that this ‘fruity treat’ is a rather ‘hefty’ meal so if you are like me and on a specific calorie amount per day, you need to make sure that you have about 300 calories to spare on top of the meals that you need/would like to eat during the day. As I mentioned before, when I have a ‘resting day’ I tend to remove a cooked (or more heavy) lunch and eat something light such as this ‘fruity treat’ or a simple soup. But I am not a dietician or a health care professional, so whatever works for me may not work at all for you and I cannot stress enough the importance of getting to know your own body and its needs. And if you have special requirements please do consult with your general practitioner.

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Secondly, I usually add some blueberries (40 gram) because they are awesome for body and mind (follow this link to a previous post about blueberries). I weigh all my food, all the time – I know that some people do not want to do that because they are scared of becoming obsessive and that is a-ok. You need to do what works for you, that is the most important thing. However, since I am on a weight-loss journey and also need to control my food intake to a tee due to my malfunctioning thyroid it is vital for me to be in control of what I eat and how many calories (and vitamins, minerals, nutrition etc) it contains. Simple as that really!

Version 2Lastly I add one orange (200 gram) because it makes it juicy and lovely and this time of the year is perfect for indulging in oranges since they are sold in abundance in the shops. Unless you cannot stand the white part (the pith) of the orange, then do leave it on since it actually contains the same amount of c-vitamins as the flesh itself but perhaps more importantly also contains pectin. Pectin is a soluble dietary fiber carrying the potential to lower serum cholesterol and act as an immune system stimulant among many other things. I am a bit of an ‘odd ball’ and actually love the pith, I always used to ask my parents for theirs when I was a child. So yeah, do keep it on if you do not mind it – it should definitely not be considered waste anyway!

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This is basically it, I sometimes add a bit of organic mild natural yoghurt, usually full fat because I do not eat much milk products. I am allergic to almonds so I cannot eat any products based on that, but if you can I am sure you can use some almond milk (yoghurt if that even exists) or quark if you prefer that. Anyway, this is my ‘fruity treat’ according to 365evermore! This lovely bowl of goodies ended up on 278 calories, included in that calculation is 20 gram (a bit more than one table spoon) of organic natural yoghurt. Yum!