Fulfilling Changes to Improve Your Lifestyle

What does it mean to feel fulfilled? For each person, the answer may be different. You might not find a specific “answer” at all, or it may be fleeting, changing often, or stemming from some unknown source. However, there are small adjustments you can make to your behaviour and the way you interact with the world around you that could help maintain a healthy, happy mindset. Here are some strategies for finding satisfaction in many areas of your life.

1. Organize Your Spaces

With the busy lifestyle many of us lead, it’s easy for things to begin to pile up.  Letting your home and work spaces get out of control can happen in small increments and may seem like a low priority at the time. However, researchers and philosophers have pointed to a connection between the physical environment we create for ourselves and our emotional well-being.

Put simply, your physical environment may be a reflection of your state of mind. If you leave your clothes strewn in piles on the floor, maybe even stepping on them, does that mean you don’t care about your appearance? Maybe not, but it’s a habit that might form from convenience, laziness, or necessity, and you might not even think about how it affects you on a subconscious level.

Consider the same sort of question about leaving dirty dishes in the sink, keeping your books in odd stacks, losing important papers in piles, or allowing clutter of any kind to accumulate. At some point, these areas may become confusing and unusable.

Disorder impacts everyone at some point. Especially in the wake of life changes and other distractions, small tasks and responsibilities can slip out of sight. However, if you make a point to be aware of your physical spaces and intentionally work to keep them clean, clear, and organized, you can achieve a better peace of mind and create a more positive relationship with your home.

Consider trying out minimalistic storage and organization strategies in order to simplify your home. Practicing minimalism doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything you own. Instead, you can take less drastic steps to declutter your home – one area at a time – and create habits that will make it easier to maintain these spaces in the long term.

For example, you might start by sorting out clothes you haven’t worn in a long time and deciding if they are really something you plan to wear or if they should be donated. Paring down your wardrobe to the most essential items will reduce the confusion you might face when choosing an outfit. With this space cleared, you’ll eventually buy more clothes, but it’s possible to choose items that will fit well with your downsized wardrobe.

When purging items from various areas of your home, a best practice is to consider whether the object truly makes you happy or if it’s just taking up space. Whether it’s a chair that isn’t comfortable anymore or a piece of art that doesn’t bring you joy, clearing space can allow for new opportunities and a simpler, more fulfilling home life.

2. Get Some Exercise, Even Small Amounts

Just as our homes can fall into disarray, it’s easy to neglect our bodies and miss out on the effects self-care can have on our physical and mental health. Exercising regularly is something most of us know we should do, yet it can feel like a chore — even when it stands to reduce anxiety and depression, as well as improve mobility, physical health, and appearance.

It’s difficult to find the time and motivation. However, starting small is the key here. Even taking a brisk walk for 10 minutes in the morning could help you begin creating a fitness routine without requiring a gym membership or extensive planning.

If you think you simply hate all exercise, it might be because you haven’t found the right activity for you. The most obvious exercises that come to mind are things like lifting weights, running, and bodyweight exercises like push-ups and sit-ups. Going out of your way to perform these activities might not sound like fun, which means you’re less likely to keep up a steady routine.

Instead, you can get a solid workout from activities like yoga, hiking, gardening, swimming, dancing, cycling, and even shopping. Instead of forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy, try experimenting with some of these fun exercises or anything that gets your body moving.

3. Be Mindful of What You Eat

Like exercise, maintaining healthy eating habits can be challenging. Many people choose to go on specific diets because they want to lose weight or change their appearance, while others might go on a diet to combat medical conditions like diabetes. The sheer number of diets and nutritional fads available can be overwhelming and may seem too restrictive. However, healthy eating habits don’t have to revolve around any goal bigger than simply giving your body the nutrients it needs.

Rather than starving yourself or choosing an extremely restrictive meal plan, the best way to promote a healthy body and mind is to focus on a balanced diet. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply put, a balanced diet involves eating some of each of the following food groups:

  • Whole grains, such as pasta, bread, and cereals. When choosing these products, look for “whole” or “whole grain” on the packaging’s nutritional information.
  • Fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, bananas, apples, and blueberries are all great choices.
  • Protein helps to build and repair tissues in the body. You can get protein from meat, fish, eggs, beans, soy products, and nuts.
  • Dairy, which provides calcium for healthy bones and teeth. Yogurt, cheese, and low-fat milk are a good place to start.
  • Fats help your body absorb certain vitamins, improve your energy, and contribute to brain health. Try to limit the saturated fats you’ll find in fatty meats and fried foods as these can lead to heart disease. Instead, aim to eat unsaturated fats that are present in avocados, nuts, and oily fish.

You may already eat some of these on a regular basis, but making a point to include each of these can make a huge difference in your life. In addition to understanding the major food groups, here are some general strategies for eating a healthy diet.

  • Pay attention to your hunger levels and aim to eat until you are full, not until you are completely stuffed.
  • Try to eat mostly fresh foods, avoiding processed foods when possible. Processed foods often contain added ingredients like dyes and preservatives. In some cases, the act of processing foods can destroy nutrients.
  • Limit added sugars whenever possible as these can lead to heart problems, weight gain, blood sugar imbalances, and other medical conditions. It’s okay to enjoy a sugary foods occasionally, but next time you’re craving a sweet treat, try reaching for fruits instead of cookies or ice cream. (Mixing yogurt and berries is my go-to dessert!)

4. Don’t Avoid Professional Help

It’s difficult to be happy when we’re not well. Too often, we wait until an injury or illness becomes unbearable before seeking medical attention. By that time, the condition is likely much worse than when you first noticed it. This makes the condition more difficult for doctors to treat, creates longer recovery times, and causes you more suffering in the long term.

In some cases, waiting too long to seek professional help can result in irreversible effects. For example, early detection of lung cancer can mean the difference between life and death. This is true for many forms of cancer and other serious diseases, and unfortunately when symptoms begin to show, it may be too late to treat them effectively.

Seeking medical attention may seem scary and expensive. However, consider that talking to a doctor is less scary than becoming deathly ill. It also costs much less to treat a condition early rather than paying for expensive treatments and surgeries later.

Instead, seeking out opportunities for preventative healthcare can allow nurses and doctors to catch conditions in their early stages and create a more effective treatment plan. Preventative healthcare includes regular checkups, blood tests, physical examinations, and immunizations. Even if you aren’t sick or noticing symptoms, a medical professional may notice patterns in your health that point to a specific, preventable or manageable condition.

Beyond in-person visits, new technologies in the medical field are helping healthcare providers better track, treat, and communicate with patients. For example, wearable health trackers and mobile apps can report changes in a condition remotely and in real time. This allows doctors to shift their approach to treating an illness on a moment-to-moment basis without forcing you to visit the hospital so often. Similarly, telemedicine options including phones, email, and other remote communications can allow healthcare providers to communicate with people who may live far away from a medical facility or specialist.

5. Take Part in the World Around You

This may be the most important thing you can do to improve your life. It’s too easy to shut out the world around us, especially when we’re busy. You may move from task to task, from home to work, and back, day after day. But it’s important to take time for yourself — to do something out of the ordinary to wake up from the repetitive cycle. This could be as subtle or drastic as you like.

For example, you may normally spend a lot of your downtime on your smartphone. You might be listening to music, watching shows or movies, or scrolling through a never-ending stream of social media posts. These activities are convenient, and it’s nice to tune out from time to time. However, if you’re always on your phone, your mind never has a chance to rest and you’re more likely to ignore the people and places around you.

The effects of overusing social media, in particular, can be subtle yet devastating. Because of the ways people present themselves online, social media can distort your self-image and lower your self-esteem. You may feel disappointed when you compare your life to other people’s photos of extravagant meals and vacation spots. You can also compete with yourself in a negative way if you struggle to live up to the exciting life you’ve presented online. And, of course, spending all your time taking photos and thinking up clever taglines can distract you from what’s happening around you.

You don’t have to give up social media altogether, but planning a week out of each month when you won’t use social media can help reset your brain and help bring you back in touch with the world around you. If taking a week off is too big of a step, at least be conscious of how much time you spend in the digital world and try to be present in your surroundings.

Sometimes you need to get away from your routine and surroundings altogether, and travelling is one of the best things you can do to invigorate your life and interact with the world. There are so many beautiful places to see, and each can offer you the chance to immerse yourself in the unfamiliar, learn about new cultures, sample exotic dishes, and take in breathtaking landscapes.

Travelling can be a life-changing event that will help shift your perspective for years to come. Having found a new way to see the world, you can come back home refreshed and better able to accept the challenges and the beauty of your daily life.

Careers and Other Opportunities That Can Enrich Your Community

community members

Any efforts you make to improve your community or respond to a recurring social problem can create a positive change in your life and the lives of those around you. There are some roles people can take on that are particularly well poised to enrich their communities. Even if you aren’t in one of these positions, interacting with the people who are and sharing in their cause will be essential to their success.

Teachers and Students

Without a doubt, educators are one of the most valuable resources in any community. However, even from an early age, the education many students receive is designed with a heavy emphasis on preparing them for a career. Because of this, teaching students to be well-rounded, socially conscious members of a community is often neglected within learning outcomes.

Beyond preparing students for higher education and the working world, teachers have the potential to inspire social change in the classroom. By introducing democratic concepts within the classroom, teachers can illustrate the connection between changes in their community, people’s choices, and their agency as individuals to affect the world around them.

In practice, this could take the form of a discussion or writing prompt about current issues and the many stakeholders that need to work together to find a solution. It could also be as simple as offering students a chance to choose their own research focus when writing a report. This small amount of autonomy can prepare students to explore subjects they are passionate about. Giving students the tools for self-driven learning will enable them to more actively participate in issues they care about beyond school.

Outside activities such as class volunteer projects or service learning allow students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-life situations in order to benefit their community. Community outreach can put children and older students on a path to a greater sense of social awareness, connectedness, and responsibility. If students have some input in supporting a cause that is important to them and can provide reasons why, they will be more invested in their efforts.

Nurses and Other Healthcare Professionals

Due to the aging populations in many countries, the demand for healthcare professionals is on the rise. The increasing shortage of doctors has a particularly strong impact on rural areas and other underserved populations where distance from healthcare facilities or economic circumstances prevent people from getting the care they need. However, family nurse practitioners can be especially effective at providing access to healthcare within underserved communities. By monitoring these areas, nurse practitioners can provide communities in need with healthcare comparable to what a doctor could provide.

Nurses and other medical professionals are also in a unique position to assess local healthcare needs and advocate on behalf of communities. Legislative activism may seem outside of traditional expectations for healthcare professionals. However, because they have a first-person account of the needs of people in their localities, any pleas doctors and nurses make to change policies or begin initiatives come with an authority and evidence not available to the general public. By establishing a rapport with local policy makers as well as educating the public about the issues their community faces as a whole, they can inspire real change.

Law Enforcement Agents

Police and other law enforcement agents are tasked with protecting the public from crime and other incidents, making their communities a safer place to live. Some feel this is exactly what is happening. However, police are also people, and people make mistakes in judgement and at times even act carelessly or maliciously. In many areas, this has led to a lack of trust between law enforcement and communities. That’s why it is more important than ever to focus on initiatives that build positive relationships between communities and local law enforcement.

There are a few major ways law enforcement agencies can connect with and enrich their communities. Presentations in schools and community centers can offer an opportunity for dialogue between police and the public, allowing people to better understand law enforcement processes and helping police to understand the public’s concerns. Creating scholarships for at-risk students can also be a way to build trust while lessening the educational gap in some communities.

The responsibility for maintaining positive relationships doesn’t lie solely on law enforcement. People in the community have to be willing to learn and work together with police. Neighborhood watch programs are an effective way to prevent crime, and they allow people to interact directly with police in a productive way that can build trust over time.

Social Entrepreneurs

On both a local and global scale, there is a growing trend of individuals and businesses participating in different forms of social entrepreneurship. That is, they are creating products and services that not only make a sustainable profit, but solve a particular community problem. One well-known example is TOMS Shoes, a company that began with the mission to match every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need. This business model has expanded to provide necessary eye care, access to clean water, and safer birthing practices to people around the world.

To be successful as a social entrepreneur, you should begin by identifying a problem within or beyond your community. In order to design a sustainable business model, the problem you consider solving should be fundamentally stable. As with TOMS Shoes, the problem of children going without shoes is, unfortunately, a circumstance that will likely continue to affect people for generations, and the demand for assistance will remain stable enough to support a business.

Identifying a solution along with a business opportunity and setting a plan to achieve your goals takes an open mind and a lot of creativity. In the end, designing a business that contributes to positive social change may not be the most effective way for the majority of people to support their community. However, just being aware that these businesses exist could inform your decision to support a particular cause or organization already in place.

You don’t have to participate actively in any of these roles in order to benefit your community. By understanding the ways these people can create positive change, you have a better chance of encouraging and supporting their efforts. You can also find your own ways to enrich the community by seeking volunteer opportunities and applying your own particular skill sets to the problems you see.

When you see a need in your community or beyond, ask yourself, “What do I have to offer?” There’s a good chance you are just the right person to help.

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Indigestion

food basket

Whether you’re experiencing severe symptoms that disrupt your daily life or you just have a lingering discomfort, indigestion can completely pull you out of the present moment. And though these conditions are common topics, many people suffer from heartburn and other forms of indigestion for years without finding a solution that works for them.

In a society where medications seem to be a cure-all, it’s easy to believe that taking the right pill could be a one-size-fits-all solution. However, this is not true as individual cases of indigestion are caused by a number of factors, including food choices, physical conditions, unrelated medications, and even certain postures and forms of exercise. This brief guide will look at some of the major causes of indigestion along with a variety of solutions so you can find a way past digestive problems and appreciate each moment.

Make Healthy Food Choices 

Of course, your diet is one of the most impactful forces on healthy digestion and conditions like GERD, a common form of acid reflux. You may already have a solid understanding of which foods are more likely to give you an upset stomach, and it’s a good idea to trust your body’s reaction to certain foods, even if avoiding them is a difficult choice to make. Because we often try to identify our symptoms within common overlying conditions such as lactose intolerance, it can be easy to dismiss your particular intolerances.

When planning your meals, it may be helpful to keep a list of foods that cause a bad reaction. You can also track this by keeping an indigestion journal where you record entries about what and when you eat, the types of exercise you’re getting, the medicines you take, when the pain starts, and anything that makes it feel better.

Though these will not apply to everyone, here are some foods that commonly cause indigestion:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Onions and garlic
  • Black pepper and excess salt
  • Tomatoes
  • Chocolate and other candy
  • Peppermint
  • Coffee and caffeinated products
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Spicy foods
  • Fatty, oily, or fried foods

Here are several foods that have been known to relieve symptoms:

  • Vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus, green beans, cauliflower, leafy greens, cucumbers, and potatoes
  • Non-citrus fruits, such as bananas, apples, pears, and melons
  • Chicken, turkey, fish and seafood (not fried)
  • Ginger
  • Aloe vera
  • Oatmeal
  • Couscous and rice
  • Egg whites
  • Healthy fats found in avocados, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, sunflower oil, and sesame oil
  • Fermented foods like kimchi, kvass, sauerkraut, and kombucha can help to restore your body’s natural bacteria levels.

Any time you change your diet, be careful not to cut out essential nutrients. Even if you’re avoiding certain foods to relieve indigestion, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet.

Aside from the food choices, our eating schedule and other food-related habits also play a major role in causing indigestion. For example, overeating in a single sitting can increase your chances of experiencing heartburn. When your stomach is too full, the muscles that normally prevent stomach acid from rising up cannot close properly. Eating a meal too quickly or too close to sleeping can also cause an upset stomach. Some people find that eating smaller meals more often throughout the day helps to relieve their symptoms.

Find Ways to Relieve Stress

Making healthy food choices isn’t the only thing you can do to reduce your chances of indigestion. An upset stomach is one of the most common physical effects of stress, and if you’re already tracking your food choices and still experience regular digestive problems, dedicating more time to calming down may help relieve your physical discomfort. This could include guided meditations, yoga, listening to relaxing music, reading a book, or even talking to your family or friends about the things that cause the most stress in your life.

Consider Your Medications

Some medications can cause indigestion and abdominal pain, including drugs for asthma, antihistamines, sedatives, antidepressants, antibiotics, and iron supplements. This could include many more, depending on your individual reaction to a medication. Even common painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen can cause your symptoms to worsen.

Though some medications are meant to reduce the amount of stomach acid you produce, these aren’t foolproof and don’t work the same way on everyone. Over a long period, these can even contribute to gastric bacterial overgrowth, which will cause more discomfort. If you think you’re experiencing digestive problems due to a medication prescribed to you by a medical professional, you should let them know. It’s possible that there is an available alternative that won’t make you feel sick.

Adjust Your Posture

You may be surprised to learn that the way you hold your body when you’re standing, sitting, and lying down can contribute to stomach problems. For example, when you are hunched forward in a chair, your internal organs have less space than they normally do, disrupting the digestive process. An upright seated posture is especially important during and after a meal in order to prevent slow-downs and blockages in your digestion.

If you have indigestion when sleeping, many people have found relief by elevating the head of their bed an additional 6 to 8 inches. Be sure to support your torso as well so your body can rest in a naturally aligned position.

Choose the Right Exercises

While regular exercise can help combat obesity and maintain healthy digestion, certain exercises can place added stress on your abdomen causing stomach pain. This is especially true with sit-ups and weightlifting. Running and cycling seem to have less of an effect, though the jarring motions of these exercises can still cause a flare up. Even certain yoga positions, like downward dog, can reverse the normal flow of your digestive system and should be avoided if you’re already experiencing indigestion. As a general rule, try to wait about two hours after eating before you work out in order to give your stomach time to digest and avoid excessive motion when your stomach is distended.

Stop Smoking

Smoking can limit your ability to produce saliva which slows your digestion. Smoking also weakens the muscle that prevents gas and acid from rising out of your stomach. Over time, smoking can even cause stomach ulcers, and because smoking decreases blood flow to the lining of your stomach, your body will have a harder time healing itself.

It’s worth noting, if you are experiencing severe digestive issues, especially over a long period of time you should reach out to a medical professional about other causes and possible solutions. Though no combination of diet, medication, or exercise has been proven to completely eliminate indigestion, being aware of common triggers and tracking how indigestion functions in your daily life will give you the best chance at spending less time struggling with digestive issues.

How to Be Mindful in Technological Age?

mindful technology

It’s a quiet room. You’re alone, seated on a low cushion. Sunlight pours in through the window, and you can feel the warmth on your face as you close your eyes. Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, listen for the sound of air passing through your nostrils. Sit empty for a moment before you breathe again.

Your phone buzzes on the floor besides you.

Don’t think about the phone. It’s probably nothing. Come back to your breath. The phone vibrates again. Maybe someone commented on the photo you posted a few minutes ago of the sunlight coming through the window. Don’t think about the phone. Focus on your breath. Maybe it’s your friend getting back to you about dinner tonight. Don’t think about the phone.

It’s not so easy.

With the convenience and availability of modern technology, the desire to stay connected and entertained often overpowers our ability to live fully in the present. However, these same technologies can also have positive effects if we choose to be intentional about how we use them. Here are three examples of disruptive technologies and what you can do to live alongside them in a mindful way.


The proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and computers with access to an endless amount of digital information might seem purely distracting. Once you’ve tuned in to a variety of social media platforms, streaming video services, professional communications, and countless ways to document your life, it can be easy to fall into the trap of constantly feeding on these. A ringtone or vibration from your phone can instantly pull your attention away from face-to-face conversations, meals, driving, sleep, and any semblance of stillness. This is where being intentional can save you.

One strategy for maintaining a healthy relationship with your phone is to designate specific times when you won’t access it. This could include meal times, focused work sessions, and when you’re sleeping. The temptation to stay connected may be too powerful to simply silence your phone and set it nearby. Instead, find a drawer or a box in another room to store your device so you won’t have to look at it and wonder what you’re missing. Another approach is to install an app that monitors how much time you spend on your phone. Some of these allow you to set limits and will alert you when you’re close to reaching your daily maximum.

Video Games

Video games may seem to embody the opposite of mindfulness. However, some groups have developed new ways of using these to promote mindful, productive behavior. For example, the International Committee of the Red Cross teamed up with video game developers to create realistic training modules for health care providers preparing to enter conflict zones. In more domestic settings, educators have begun to incorporate the language and reward systems from video games in their teaching and tutoring methods through a process called gamification. Without including actual gameplay, teachers have found ways to re-envision traditional assignments through the lens of something many of their students find more entertaining.

Those who enjoy video games recreationally can also benefit from reassessing the way they play. For example, setting a specific amount of time to play can keep you from spending an entire evening outside of reality. If you want to use video games as a meditative practice, it can also be helpful to choose games that are inherently soothing. For example, I occasionally play video games with the intention of relaxing, yet within a few minutes I find myself frustrated, yelling at the screen. At this point, I’m more stressed out than when I began, and it’s difficult to stop because I feel I haven’t accomplished anything.

After I recognized this pattern, I started looking for games that wouldn’t trigger so much aggression in me. The creative mode in Minecraft features an open landscape where you can build an infinite amount of things out of different materials. Separate from the main game mode, there’s no conflict and no consequences, just ample space for creativity. This might sound boring, but for me, part of being intentional about gaming means choosing to play a game that will actually help me relax.

Artificial Light

Even one of our most essential technologies, artificial light, can have serious disruptive effects. Excess light pollution emitted from populated areas can negatively affect local wildlife by disorienting animals that depend on light from the sun and stars for navigation. And while it can be disheartening when you can’t see the stars beyond the glow of bigger cities, artificial light has negative effects on our health as well. The light we depend on to brighten our homes, streets, shops, TVs, computers, and phones throws off our natural circadian rhythms, which leads to insomnia and daytime fatigue.

The best way to combat the ill effects of artificial light is to limit your exposure after dark. This includes restricting the time spent on your phone or watching TV before bed. And though you shouldn’t be expected to walk around in the pitch dark in your own home, turning on a low, warm lamp in the evenings can decrease the energizing effects of artificial light.

We need to be careful about how we use today’s technologies, though not all technology is inherently bad for our mental states. Entire industries have risen with the goal of aiding our efforts to look inward and reach a more natural, peaceful state of mind. If you have trouble finding still moments in your life, you could try a number of apps that lead users through simple daily meditations. And essential oil diffusers, white noise machines, and Himalayan rock salt lamps can have a drastic effect on the ambience of a room.