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! – A new green agenda for mental health  ←

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.

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!

Checking in.

Holiday season is here and as such I really do not have much time to blog, my training is now alternated with various christmas parties, meet ups with friends in towns cosy many cafes and strolling around in the city centre enjoying the Christmas markets. I suppose that most of us feel like this during this time of the year, relaxed, happy and enjoying ourselves to the fullest. Simply the way it should be! I do however have a psychology essay to hand in at the beginning of January so I won’t have that much time off,  but it is okay the most important thing is to be able to have some time off with the people I love the most.

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I do however keep my training going, the picture above is taken straight after (well once I got home) todays rowing session and this is my crazy post rowing sweat hair, haha! I have very thick hair naturally (no extensions) and when it gets sweaty it tends to simply explode in volume and I look rather funny! But honestly, I really don’t mind one bit, I love my training and sweating goes hand in hand no matter what temperature it is outside. Rowing is perhaps my absolute favorite thing to do (after horseback riding, which I sadly don’t do at the moment) when it comes to training. There is something in the repetitive movements that just gets me going, I don’t think I can fully explain why I love it so much, I just do. Do you row as well? Outdoors? Or indoors at the gym? Do you love it? Anyway, in case I do not get to post anything before Christmas eve I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas! x

Pre-birthday craze | Ginger spiced herbal tea!

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A bit late posting today, sorry about that, I do however have a pretty good reason as it is my birthday tomorrow (yey!) thus I have been a busy bee sorting out todays gym session, done laundry, cleaned up in general and also been reading up on the latest and very interesting psychology news this week. But more about that in a different post, because I am eager to share with you some of the latest psychological research released relating to academics. Something I have been waiting for and looking forward to for a very long time!

Version 2I am soon going to return to my green tea, which I today have ‘spiced’ up with a bit of ginger, absolutely gorgeous and if you have not tried it, please do! It does not only taste fabulous, ginger is actually quite magical and have a wide array of benefits such as being anti-inflammatory, lowering cholesterol, preventing cancer and improving brain functionality. Additionally it is so easy to add some freshly grated ginger to any dish or drink – I love it in my herbal tea, my morning juices and in many vegetarian dishes (for obvious reasons, in many of the lovely Asian inspired ones) it does add a little something to the flavor. Simply divine!

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Anyway, I have a bit more studying to do before I can relax for the evening and chill out. Must say that I really am looking forward to tomorrow, the plan is to head of to the city with my lovely and have a bit of shopping spree. Enjoy a lovely dinner and take full advantage of having some time off together, as we both are quite busy (he is a scientific postdoctoral fellow researcher) every minute that we get to spend together is tremendously precious and invaluable.

Studentfood | Blueberry snack!

So in love with these beautiful blueberries, the color, the texture the taste – fabulous! Couldn’t even resist to take a few pictures that is how beautiful they are to me. Beautiful on the outside, beautiful on the inside and will work wonders in my body too. In Sweden (my home country) we have a different kind of blueberries (vaccinium myrtillus, or the more common name European bilberries/blueberries or blåbär in Swedish), it is actually a shrub with edible blue coloured fruit.

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There are a few differences between the ‘european bilberries’ that I used to gather in abundance in the forest back home, and the ‘american blueberries’ (photos above and below) one being the size where the american ones are bigger than the european ones. Another difference is the color of the flesh, the ‘european bilberries’ have a dark red flesh and red juice that turns into a beautiful blue color (back in the days it was used to color clothes etc) whereas the ‘american blueberries’ have white or translucent flesh. It is proven that the ‘european blueberries’ contain a higher amount of antioxidants as it is related to the blueish colour of the fruit and its flesh. But the difference that is most heartwarming to me, being from Sweden and a true nature lover at that, is that the ‘european bilberries’ grow fabulously wild in the forest, free – absolutely natural and up for grabs. Whereas the american blueberries found in our European shops are normally farmed, which certainly does not have to mean that they are of less significance or value. My enjoyment of today’s lovelies is evidence of just that!

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So, while I am quite happily typing away on my psychology essay I am also enjoying yummy blueberries – perfect little snack for student life. Additionally, I am listening to Queen B(eyoncé) singing ‘running, running I aint running from myself no more, together we will win it all, running, running, running I am ready to face it all, if I lose myself, I lose it all..’ and it is keeping me going nicely. If you have not heard this beautiful song I highly recommend it! I simply cannot wait for the weekend to begin, still nurturing a small hope of having finished the essay and being able to enjoy the fabulous weather with my lovely boy. Fingers crossed!

Typing away | psychology essay.

Yet another day that I will spend in front of my computer typing away on my essay. Deadline for the essay and affiliated assignments is next Tuesday so I am certainly a busy bee trying to finish it as soon as possible. You should see my desk at the moment, it is covered in various papers (manuscripts), psychology literature and notebooks. Not a pretty sight, but it is one of a students life and as such I sort of like it – because somehow in this mess I will find all my answers and it is always a brilliant process despite being somewhat frenetic. My current module course is quite full on and the next part starts on Saturday already with new collaborations and plenty of reading so the idea is to finish off the essay before the weekend – eep!

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I did however fuel my body this morning with some lovely avocado (my body thanks me!) and a few pieces of honey-melon, I simply cannot resist that yellow beauty. I actually never used to like melon much when I was younger, but have since become rather obsessed. Personally I also feel like it adds a bit of holiday feel to my mornings, faking a relaxed and non-stressful “hotel breakfast” start of the day. Perfect at this point when I am going somewhat crazy with millions of psychological theories, methods and terms swirling around inside my head. Breathe!  ….and improve time management for next essay.

Finding time, student life vs training.

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Get this, the weather is absolutely stunning (look above), additionally – in my hallway there is a brand new pair of Asics (walking/hiking) tempting me with some serious sweet-talking. My body is longing for some movement, but my mind is digging its heels in requiring some mature choices and my heart, well my heart is lost in dreams of crispy, lovely November air and the sun, THE SUN, caressing my face. Ahh! Even so, and sadly due to poor time-management the past week, I am stuck indoors writing up an essay for my psychology degree. I truly love studying psychology and it is hands down the perfect match for me, but being a student requires a lot of time and sometimes I simply prefer spending that time at the gym or out on a hike. I desperately need to find that perfect balance since I have to excel in both areas. Any advice or motivation is greatly appreciated!