6 Ways to Detoxify Your Mind

6 Ways to Detoxify Your Mind

Just like fasting and juicing are popular ways of detoxifying your body for the physical health benefits, reducing mental clutter and shifting thought patterns are comparable ways to detoxify your mind for the psychological health benefits.

The word "detox" kind of gets a bad rap when it's interpreted as some overly restrictive plan to improve oneself, but that's not how it has to be. A detox can provide a lot great health benefits when it's personalized and tailored to fit the individual.

While it’s completely normal to feel negative emotion from time to time — even anxiety and depression — it shouldn’t be strong enough or occurring frequently enough to really impact your lifestyle and wellbeing. A few all-natural "detoxifying" tweaks to your lifestyle and mental process can make all the difference.

Limit Media Consumption

Internet browsing, Netflix, video gaming, and other forms of media are easy distractions from ourselves and from the world around us. Recent research has found that the longer young adults spend on social media, the more likely they are to be depressed, so be mindful of your habits. You don't have to give it up completely, but here are a few ways you can unplug so your mind gets a break from sucking up all that digital junk.

Be Mindful of Energy Vampires

Energy vampires are people who spew negativity and make you feel drained. If you can’t completely cut these types of people out of your life or at least limit interaction with them, make sure you know how to ground yourself when you’re around them to avoid sucking up their negativity. Breathe deeply and imagine gold or white light radiating from your crown all the way down your body until it surrounds you, protecting you like a shield.

Consider Lifestyle Minimalism

Lifestyle minimalism involves eliminating repetitive decisions and activities that take up too much mind power. As an example, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wears the same T-shirt every day to avoid having to think and decide what to wear, which takes up precious mental power that he’d rather allocate somewhere else. What decisions and activities could you give up the free up more of your own mental energy?

Practice Self-Inquiry

You can do self-inquiry work as a meditation. This is the practice of investigating the spiritual nature of who you really are. In the process, the feelings you experience can give you insights into what you really should be valuing and focusing on here in your everyday human life. This can be helpful if you have trouble separating your truest desires from other people’s expectations of you.

Get Your Emotions Out

Suppressing your negative emotions by trying to focus on just the positive stuff will not make them go away. Though uncomfortable and unpleasant, true healing can only take place when you embrace your emotions and let yourself feel them fully. Take 20 minutes or so a day to sit quietly with your eyes closed and allow yourself to feel what your body needs to feel.

Sleep Well

Sleep literally clears excess waste from the brain, and some believe that the dream state helps us process thoughts and emotions so we can wake up feeling more refreshed. Most adults do best when they get a regular 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night in a relaxing sleep environment that’s completely pitch dark and slightly cooler than normal in temperature.

Detoxifying your mind is really more about increasing your awareness and being open to accept what’s happening in the moment rather than trying to stop negativity and struggling to control your reality. If these tips don’t help to create any significant positive changes in your overall wellbeing, make sure you speak to your doctor to see if some other potential cause or causes need to be addressed.

 


10 of the Absolute Most Hydrating Foods

10 of the Absolute Most Hydrating Foods

Did you know that water accounts for over half of your body weight? With a body depending on that much water, it’s no wonder that staying properly hydrated is so important.

Drinking enough water is one thing, but there’s no reason why you can’t supercharge your water intake even more with the certain fruits and veggies that lend themselves to hydration too. Of course, any fruits and veggies will do, but there are a few in particular you should consider choosing if staying hydrated during the hot summer weather is a priority for you — which it should be!

Watermelon

This super summery fruit is perfect for hydrating after intense outdoor activities or a bit of fun in the sun. It's the most hydrating fruit at 92 percent water. Watermelon also contains a generous amount of lycopene — the antioxidant that gives it its pink color.

Grapefruit

Not far behind watermelon is grapefruit with a 91-percent water content. High in vitamin C and loads of other nutrients, this citrus fruit is also chock full of electrolytes, which is great for hydrating after intense physical activity.

Cantaloupe

At 90 percent water, cantaloupe is a hydrating fruit that’s great for keeping your skin looking healthy and youthful. Its orange flesh contains a high amount of beta-carotene, which has been shown to add a little extra skin protection from damaging UV rays.

Peaches

This bright yellow fruit is 88 percent water and a very high source of both vitamin A and vitamin C. One large peach is just about 70 calories with about 3 grams of fiber, making it a sweet treat to add to any summer meal, snack, or dessert!

Pineapple

What’s summer without pineapple? This tropical fruit is 87 percent water and high in vitamin C, manganese, and thiamin. Manganese is essential for antioxidant defences while thiamin plays an important role in energy production.

Cucumber

At a whopping 96 percent made of water, you’ll be cool as a cucumber when you add this veggies to your meals and snacks this summer. Cucumbers also help reduce inflammation by “cooling” your body’s inflammatory response.

Leafy Greens

Is it any surprise that leafy greens made the list? Lettuce ties it up with cucumber at 96 percent water while green cabbage comes in at 93 percent and spinach is a nice 92 percent water. All the more reason to go nuts on salads and green smoothies!

Zucchini

Whether you decide to toss a few slices into your salad or toss them on the grill, zucchini is yet another yummy summer food that’s 95 percent water. Its vitamin B-9 (folate) content will help your metabolism and one large zucchini offers about 3 grams of fiber.

Celery

Also at 95 percent water, celery is a wonderful summery snack that goes great with hummus, veggie dips, and nut butters. Celery is super low-cal at 16 calories per 100-gram serving and is an excellent source of vitamin K for healthy blood flow and bones.

Tomatoes

One of the most versatile foods has to be the tomato. At 94 percent water, you can add them to salads, turn them into sauces, juice with them, make soups and so much more. They’re high in antioxidants and carotenoids, which prevent disease and help you live healthier for longer.

Combine these hydrating foods with your regular healthy water intake and you'll be all set! Don't forget to check out these articles as well:

 


10 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself

10 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself

When was the last time you thought about a goal that you really want to achieve, but told yourself you had no motivation to work toward it? No shame here — everyone deals with this problem!

Motivation is a funny thing. Millions of books and articles have been written on the topic, making it seem like it’s one of the most mysterious and overly complicated aspects of human behavior. In truth, however, getting motivated really is as simple as getting in touch with your true feelings and doing your best to ground yourself in reality.

Here are 10 simple tips to help you do just that.

1. Write down your big “why.” Sometimes you need a bold statement — in writing — to gain clarity amidst all the junk floating around in your mind and to remind yourself why you have this goal. Your “why” statement should be your main source of motivation.

2. Write down everything you can think of that you can use as a source of motivation. While you may have one big “why” for working toward a goal, you may have lots of little whys too, which may be nice additional perks. List these all out as well.

3. For every external motivator, identify its corresponding internal motivator. Real motivation comes from within, so external motivators like earning lots of money and getting a hot body won’t cut it. Instead, internal motivators like freedom (instead of money) and self-love (instead of a hot body) may be what you’re really looking for.

4. Picture yourself at 85 years old wondering if it was worth saying no to hard work. Renowned motivational speaker Tony Robbins says that when he thinks about doing something uncomfortable, he imagines himself as an old man reflecting back on his life and asking himself what he would regret more — pursuing the difficult journey toward success and possibly failing, or not trying at all because it was too difficult or scary?

5. Think about the self-identity you want to embody right now. When people think about their goals, they tend to fixate on a new and improved version they’ll eventually be in the future. But what about right now? How would the person you want to be today behave and live their life?

6. Be compassionate toward your negative emotions. Your feelings reflect your true self. Embrace and nurture yourself even through the fear, self-doubt, shame, guilt, sadness, anger, and frustration. Resisting your negative emotions holds you back from growth and could create catastrophe for you later.

7. Identify the fun or playfulness in what you need to do. You can make anything fun if you get creative enough. Turn your goal into a game and offer yourself rewards when you achieve something small.

8. Just commit to getting started for one minute. Any goal can seem daunting when you focus on how much time it’s going to take to get anywhere. Stop thinking and try to take action for just one minute. Anyone can do one minute!

9. Tell yourself that motivation isn’t given to you, but generated by you. One minute of action can easily turn into 20 minutes or more. This is because motivation builds with momentum. Getting started is often half the battle.

10. Trust in the process. You have no control over reality, but that doesn't mean you won’t influence your progress or outcome. Trust that although progress may not happen on your own terms, the Universe will eventually reward you with what you truly desire if you keep going and keep learning.

Look to these 10 tips next time you could use a motivational boost and you'll be far less likely to find yourself putting things off or succumbing to fear and self-doubt. Good luck!

 


Strengthening Your Yogi Hands

Strengthening Your Yogi Hands

When it comes to practicing yoga, it’s not just your body that gets a workout — your hands do too! From sore wrists to weak fingers, hands that aren’t the strongest can make even the simplest poses (like down dog) feel way worse than they should.

While it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor first in case you have an injury or a condition causing you to experience pain or weakness in your hands, it’s not at all that uncommon to experience discomfort if you’re just starting out with yoga and aren’t very used to putting weight on your hands.

Between your yoga practices, try some of the following exercises to help strengthen your hands and improve their range of motion. Before you know it, your hands will be stronger and more flexible than ever!

Finger Stretching

This particular stretch should help when you're ready to bear more weight on your hands rather than your feet in certain poses and spread your fingers out wide while you’re in downward dog.

  1. Simply place the palm of your hand down on any flat surface.
  2. Slowly and carefully straighten your fingers out to flatten your hand against the flat surface without forcing any joint strain.
  3. Hold your hand in this position for 30 seconds up to about a minute and repeat four times with each hand.

Wrist Movement

Ever feel like your hands are going to snap off when you're trying to smoothly flow through your vinyasa sequence? This next wrist exercise can help with extension and flexion.

  1. Grab a towel, roll it up, and place it along the edge of a table.
  2. Place your wrist on the towel with your palm facing down so your whole hand hangs off the edge of the table.
  3. Gently move your hand from your wrist upward until you feel it stretch a little.
  4. Allow your hand to move back down to hang off table naturally and repeat this 5 to 10 times.
  5. Flip your hand over so your palm is facing up and move your hand from your wrist upward again in this position until you feel a slight stretch.
  6. Allow your hand to move back to its natural position and repeat this 5 to 10 times for each hand.

Thumb Extension

If you have trouble using your index fingers and thumbs to hold yourself up in down dog, maybe a few thumb exercises could help make that more comfortable for you.

  1. Take a rubber band and wrap it around the palm of your hand, including your thumb. (Make sure it’s tight enough to hold your thumb straight up against your fingers but not so tight that it cuts off your circulation!)
  2. Gently extend your thumb to pull it away from your fingers, stretching the band as you do it and holding your thumb out for 30 seconds up to a minute.
  3. Repeat this 5 to 10 hands on each hand and make sure you rest your hands for 48 hours before doing another session like this.

These exercises are recommended by WebMD and Harvard Medical School. As an added tip, you may want to consider warming up your hands prior to your yoga practice to help get rid of any stiffness or pain. Gently stretch them for a few minutes or run them under some warm water if they’re cold.

 


Dream Journaling for the Spiritual Seeker

Dream Journaling for the Spiritual Seeker

We all dream, whether we remember our dreams or not. Our most intense dreaming typically occurs when we’re in deep sleep (REM state sleep) when the brain becomes most active.

Not everyone agrees on the purpose for why we dream. Some scientists say there is no purpose for dreaming and that it’s just the brain acting chaotically while others say it plays an integral role in our mental, emotional, and even physical health.

Some spiritual teachers say that dreaming is basically the same as having an out-of-body experience where the subconscious reveals what is in the process of being manifested. Dreams, in this sense, directly reflect your truest desires and deepest feelings.

If you’re one to believe that dreams have spiritual significance, you may be interested in figuring out what your dreams mean. To do this, it’s helpful to keep a dream journal.

Journal As Soon As You Wake

Keep your dream journal and a pen right next to your bed so you can start writing down what you dreamt as soon as you come back to a waking state. Most people know what it's like to be able to remember their dreams most vividly while they’re still fresh in their minds, which is why writing it down right away is so important. This way, you’ll be able to recall specific details about the dream that you might forget about if you waited even as little as 20 minutes after waking up to start journaling.

Write in Present Tense

It may seem obvious to journal about your dream in the past tense because it happened in the past, but tapping into the depths of your subconscious can be more accurately achieved when you write in present tense, as if the dream is being carried out all over again in your mind. So, for example, instead of writing, “I was eating a sandwich,” you’d write, “I’m eating a sandwich.”

Examine Every Significant Perspective

You may be acting as yourself in your dream, but in truth, every single thing that appears in your dream is a representation of yourself — because you created it. This is why it’s so important to write from the perspective of every single significant person or thing that you can remember. You can start with writing from the perspective of yourself first and then move on to the other people, animals, and yes — even places and objects. There’s really no wrong way to do this, so just write what might seem possible to you.

Pay Attention to How You Feel

As you write from the perspective of every significant aspect of your dream, pay close attention to your emotions. Write these down as well. The way you feel will help you uncover the hidden meaning behind even some of the craziest, most bizarre things you can recall in your dreams. Most things that appear in dreams don’t literally translate to what they are in real life. They’re usually symbolic representations of something else.

Want to Dream of Something Specific?

It’s possible to dream of something you actually want to dream about just by taking a few minutes before you go to sleep to visualize what you want to dream about. This is a great technique to use if you’re trying to manifest something in particular or if you're trying to simply build better habits. You’ll wake up the next day far more prepared to take on what you intend to take on if you had dreamt about something more irrelevant.

 


How Taking Photos Makes You Happier

How Taking Photos Makes You Happier

We take photos for a lot of reasons these days. Whether it’s just because of the convenience of always having a camera in our pockets attached to our smartphones, or the thrill of being able to share everything on social media, it’s clear that we love taking photos — perhaps a little too much.

Does photo-taking make us happier, or does it steal our attention away from enjoying the present moment like so many people claim? If yogi philosophy is all about increasing our awareness to become mindful of what’s happening right now, then it would be easy to assume that photo-taking definitely impairs that intention.

It turns out you don’t have to resist snapping several photos when you’re out enjoying yourself, and in fact, it’s probably more beneficial to go ahead and do just that. Here’s why.

Increase Your Engagement

A fascinating study on the psychological effects of photo-taking found that those who took photos of their experiences were more engaged and therefore happier when they were asked to recall the experience — compared to those who didn’t take photos. When you prepare to snap a photo, your mind has to zero in on your surroundings to figure out how to get the best shot, so you naturally submerge yourself in the experience more than the average onlooker. Higher engagement in positive experiences leads to increased enjoyment.

Find Pleasure in the Ordinary

We tend to underestimate how much enjoyment we get out of some of the most ordinary experiences, and photos can help with this. In a set of studies that looked into this trend, researchers found that people who reread a log that they wrote a couple months ago (like a diary entry) of their everyday activities admitted to appreciating those experiences much more since the time had passed. Photos can have the same effect by reminding you of the simple pleasures that come from some of the most ordinary experiences.

Connect With Someone

We don’t necessarily have to be looking at somebody’s face in person to be able to connect with them, so taking a photo of your relatives, friends, or even a beloved pet can be enough to benefit you psychologically when you can't physically be with them. According to Researcher Dr. Owen Churches, when we look at images of people, we automatically look for how a person's mouth is positioned in relation to other facial features like the eyes and nose. This causes specific parts of the brain to be triggered.

Cultivate More Self-Love

When it comes to taking photos of ourselves (a.k.a. “selfies”), the research is kind of mixed. Some research has linked selfie-taking to narcissism while on the other hand, it appears that selfies can be great for boosting confidence and fostering more self-love. Research that looked at the selfie-taking habits of 365 undergraduate students found that the highest number of selfies were posted by people with high self-esteem. Taking more selfies may help us become more aware of parts of our appearances we typically don’t like in a way that helps us learn to embrace them.

So go ahead and start snapping photos of anything your heart desires. Photo-taking won’t make you miss out on the moment, nor will it necessarily turn you into a narcissist if selfies are your thing!

 


9 Super Green Summer Travel Tips

9 Super Green Summer Travel Tips

Heading out on the road where adventure awaits? It’s great to get away in the summertime, but it’s not exactly so great to feel like you have to throw your eco-conscious lifestyle out the window just to have some fun away from home.

Believe it or not, there are lots of little things you can do to make your trip as eco-friendly as possible. It may take a little extra time and planning, but if you’re someone who genuinely loves and respects the planet as much as the next yogi, then it’s definitely worth it.

Here are a few things to consider thinking about before heading out on your next summer adventure.

Driving There

Get a tune-up. A road trip is a good excuse to do some much needed maintenance on your car. Dirty air filters and tires that could use some extra air will make all the difference.

Pack light. When it comes to loading up your car with lots of heavy luggage, gear, and equipment, weight definitely matters. Even an extra 20 pounds can be enough to affect fuel efficiency.

Plan your route. You may be spending a lot of time on the road, but you can cut that time down just by picking the quickest route, planning for traffic or construction, and identifying good pitstop locations ahead of time before you need them.

Being in Nature

Forget the gadgets. Camping, cottaging, and other summer trips give you the opportunity to enjoy nature as much as possible. If you absolutely must bring your smartphone for emergency reasons, keep it turned off as often as possible when you don’t need it.

Be mindful of your campfire. We all have to abide by the rules when there are fire bans or restrictions. If it’s A-OK to start a fire, make sure to keep it contained in a pit away from other objects and avoid throwing anything manmade in there to burn it.

Use biodegradable products. Whether you’re rinsing dishes or washing yourself off in the lake, make sure you choose eco-friendly soaps and other liquid products that are ideally unscented and labeled as biodegradable to avoid putting chemicals into the environment.

Eating Well

Buy local. Rather than lugging along all your food and all of its wasteful packaging, plan to check out the local farmers market or grocery stores when you arrive at your destination. You’ll get fresh farm produce and other food products that are ready to eat.

Bring reusable dishes. It’s always tempting to use paper plates and cutlery when traveling anywhere especially where there isn’t a sink or dishwasher, but the big downside is a lot of extra waste. Instead, invest in some eco-friendly picnic gear that you can use over and over again.

Create a meal plan. Avoid wasting food (and money) by taking the extra time to plan what you’re going to eat for all your meals, whether you’re cooking for yourself or eating out. Bring along some healthy snacks like homemade trail mix or fresh fruit to have in between meals.

If you can take the time to stop, breathe, and just be present when you’re out in nature (or simply doing anything at all on your trip), you’ll be instantly reminded why it’s so important to stick to the above tips. Going green is as easy as increasing your awareness of your connection with the environment around you.

 


The Health Benefits of Working Up a Good Sweat

The Health Benefits of Working Up a Good Sweat

Sweat. We all do it and it’s a necessary function of human physiology.

When the body responds to the rise in temperature from physical activity by producing sweat, we typically perspire from the eccrine sweat glands that are present all over our bodies. This type of perspiration is mostly water that has no smell, containing trace amounts of fat as well as electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, and potassium.

While sweating in response to heat may seem like more of an uncomfortable (and possibly even disgusting) inconvenience, it actually does our bodies a lot of good. Besides acting like our very own internal air conditioner, there are so many other reasons to embrace the sweat.

Detoxification

Substances that typically enter the body through food and beverage consumption are released through sweat. Research has shown that induced perspiration may help people release potentially toxic phthalates like DEHP and MEHP.

Clearer Skin

The opening of the pores from sweating is a great opportunity for the skin to cleanse itself of the buildup of toxic substances that may worsen skin conditions like acne breakouts and blackheads. One study found several heavy metals — arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury — were effectively removed through sweat.

Improved Fitness

Ever see a super fit individual at the gym or in your yoga class completely drenched in sweat? That’s not a coincidence. It turns out that the fittest people have been scientifically shown to sweat more than people who aren’t as fit.

Increased Endorphins

Most people are somewhat aware of the link between exercise and endorphins — hormones that the body produces to make us feel good. While sweating itself won’t help generate a mood boost, working up a sweat through exercise (that you ideally enjoy doing) definitely should.

Sweat and Bikram Yoga

So, if sweat is so great, should we all take up Bikram or “hot” yoga? This is a style of Hatha yoga that involves performing a series of asanas in a much warmer than normal environment — typically around 104 degrees Fahrenheit / 40 degrees Celsius and 40 percent humidity.

Hot yoga is said to help improve lower body strength, range in motion all over the body, and balance. There have even been claims that it may improve glucose tolerance, bone density, blood lipid profile, arterial stiffness, mindfulness, and stress — but in terms of scientific findings, there isn’t much to show for it.

In an interview with TIME, exercise scientist Dr. Brian L. Tracy talked about a couple of experiments he conducted with participants willing to practice Bikram yoga. Inexperienced yogis involved in the first experiment definitely showed some of the benefits of improved strength and balance plus a very small amount of weight loss, but experienced yogis' metabolic rates were shown to be around the same of what people generally experience from a brisk walk.

So, while hot yoga may feel like it’s a heck of a lot harder than anything else, it may not be as beneficial as any other style of yoga or form of exercise. According to Dr. Tracy, men on average burn about 460 calories while women burn about 330 during an average session — far from the 1,000 calories many say you can burn. If you do enjoy it, though, there’s no reason to stop.

As a final point, remember that sweating too much isn’t always such a great thing. If you’re exhausted, overheated, dehydrated, or nutrient depleted, make sure you rest up and give your body what it needs.

Still hate sweating? A good workout doesn't have to involve getting drenched. Here are some extra tips for managing sweat while practicing yoga.

Image (edited) via FireHawk Hulin


5 Tips for Finding More Time to Do Yoga

5 Tips for Finding More Time to Do Yoga

Not enough time to fit a great yoga session into your daily routine? Classes at a studio may be wonderfully worth it, but who has the time (and the money) to head over there every single day, maybe 5 or 6 times a week, for sessions that lasts an hour or longer?

It’s a tough challenge for those of us who really want to practice daily, but can’t seem to merge it in the most practical way with our modern lifestyles. Here are a few things to think about working into your routine if you’re serious about making yoga a daily practice flows into every aspect of your life.

Give Up Something That Isn't Serving You

The thing about managing time is that it’s really about prioritization. You can’t make more time without giving something else up, so it’s worth getting honest about how you spend your time on a daily basis to see if you can identify a particular activity that isn’t really adding any value to your life and that's sucking up a lot of your time.

Consider giving up something like hitting the snooze button repeatedly in the morning, that hour or two of Netflix you watch in the evening, or the time you waste browsing Facebook on your phone. These types of activities don’t really offer you anything in terms of personal growth, so replace it with something that does! (A.k.a. yoga!)

Combine Yoga With Other Activities

Jumping out of bed super early, giving up your favorite Netflix series, and saying no to browsing social media aren’t easy goals to achieve if they’re habits that have been seriously programmed into your behavior. In these types of cases, why not do yoga while you do all these things too?

You could do a morning yoga sequence or a body scan in bed to help you wake up, stand up and do a few poses that are good for people who sit at desks all day (or in front of the TV at night), or practice mindfulness meditation while on your commute to or from work. Remember that yoga doesn’t have to always be limited to your mat.

Take Advantage of Online Resources

Let’s face it — the cost of yoga classes really adds up when you're going more than once or twice a week. Getting there and back also takes time and money for gas and/or public transit.

If you have a laptop, a smartphone, or a tablet and an internet connection, it’s easy enough to get a quick practice in at home. A simple internet search will lead you to all sorts of free yoga videos online you can follow, and there are also premium services out there like Yogaglo that offer unlimited access to thousands of high-quality yoga videos for a monthly subscription (basically the price of a single class).

Just Do One Pose

So what if you just can’t fit even a 30-minute session into your day? It's no big deal, because doing just one pose definitely counts toward maintaining your practice.

Pick your favorite — maybe something like a forward bend to open up the hips or child’s pose to promote stress relief and relaxation. Take a few minutes to hold your pose and breathe. This alone can be enough!

Shift Your Mindset

Lastly, changing how you think about your yoga practice and all the activities you decide to do every day will probably help you out the most. This involves a striving for a higher level of self-awareness that will lead you toward taking responsibility for the time you have now rather than unconsciously giving up your power to the illusion of a more hopeful future.

Notice how you feel when you do or don’t do yoga. Let those feelings guide you as you flow along with life rather than try to obsessively control it. Chances are, if a daily yoga session makes you feel good while a missed session makes you feel not so good, you’ll naturally gravitate toward practicing more and making it a daily habit.

 


Science-Backed Reasons to Mindfully Unplug

Science-Backed Reasons to Mindfully Unplug

Do you make an effort to turn all of your buzzing, pinging, ringing, and flashing electronics off for a few hours every day? A lot of people who lead busy lives would probably say “nope” to that.

The convenience and distractive appeal of smartphones have turned our 24/7 connection status into one of the biggest trends of our time. Your yoga and meditation practice are great excuses to put your smartphone and other devices out of sight and out of mind, but it would be beneficial to go without them as often as you can — on your days off, when socializing with people directly in person, in the morning after you get up, at night before you go to bed, and anytime you need to “wind down” from a busy day or event.

Here are a few scientific facts about how our lives are impacted by all the devices we rely on so much and so often nowadays. Let them inspire you to be more mindful about your browsing and texting habits.

Always Disruptive Notifications

Smartphone notifications are pretty much meant to be distracting, but researchers from Florida State University found that they can even be detrimental to people’s attention and task performance when they didn't pick up their phone immediately to directly interact with them. So even if you can ignore those pings and buzzes, your smartphone is still a distraction.

Face-To-Face Communication Interference

Just the sight of your smartphone could have an impact on your relationships with others. In one study where two people carried on a conversation for 10 minutes, those who had their phones sitting on a table in front of them while they chatted described feeling less close to the person they were chatting with compared to people who chatted without their smartphones in front of them.

Mental Health Issues and Sleep Deprivation

Researchers examined the smartphone habits of over 300 university students and found that those who fell under the “high smartphone use” category experienced more depression, anxiety, and daytime dysfunction. Sleep quality was also impacted, possibly stemming from anxiety and depression caused by smartphone overuse.

A Vehicle for Procrastination

Smartphones don’t exactly cause people to procrastinate, but they certainly do help them do it longer and more often. We now have an attention span of eight seconds (down from 12 in the year 2000), and the average American checks in to their smartphone a whopping 46 times a day.

Ways to Mindfully Unplug

The first step in mindfully unplugging involves just noticing how you’re using your smartphone and/or other devices. In fact, you don’t even need to pull yourself away from them right away if you feel a strong desire to keep browsing, keep texting, or keep doing whatever it is you want to do.

Just work on increasing your awareness as you continue going about your business. Notice how your mind loves the distraction and constantly wants more. This alone can be healing. Then, after a while, you may want to start replacing your device usage with some of the following activities instead (in addition to yoga and meditation):

Say a mantra. Do this to be intentional about how you really want to spend your time.

Go outside. Getting outside even for a short walk is extremely healthy for the body and the mind.

Listen to music. Music is calming and can be a great mood booster.

Do some journaling. Journaling is therapeutic and incredibly effective at organizing thoughts.

Help someone. Admit it — helping others out feels good! Here are a few simple ways you can give more.