anxiety

Nature Heals

stress, therapy

Just a walk in the woods or a stroll by the beach on a sunny morning can awaken the innermost feelings of happiness and peace, and Environmental Psychology has gone a long way proving this fact (Bell, Fisher, Baum, Greene, 1996).

Our affinity toward nature is genetic and deep-rooted in evolution. For example, have you ever wondered why most people prefer to book accommodations that have a great view from the balcony or the terrace? Why patients who get a natural view from their hospital bed recover sooner than others? Or why does it happen that when stress takes a toll on our mind, we crave for time to figure out things amidst nature?
Frank Lloyd Wright had said, “Study Nature, love Nature, stay close to Nature. It will never fail you.” 

Nature Improves Psychological Well-Being

  • Nature helps in emotional regulation and improves memory functions. A study on the cognitive benefits of nature found that subjects who took a nature walk did better on a memory test than the subjects who walked down the urban streets (Berman, Jonides, Kaplan, 2008).
  • Nature walks benefit people suffering from depression (Shern et al., 2014). Studies had shown that people suffering from mild to major depressive disorders showed significant mood upliftments when exposed to nature. Not only that, but they also felt more motivated and energized to recover and get back to normalcy (Berman, Kross, Kaplan, 2012).
  • Recent investigations revealed that being outdoor reduces stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol. Besides that, it also makes us immune to allied problems like hypertension and tachycardia (Lee J, 2011).
  • Nature walks and other outdoor activities build attention and focus (Hartig, 1991). There are pieces of evidence that indicate strong environmental connections to be related to better performance, heightened concentration, and reduced chances of developing Attention Deficit Disorder.
  • A study at the University of Kansas found that spending more time outdoors and less time with our electronic devices can increase our problem-solving skills and improve creative abilities.

The Importance of Nature to Well-Being

A 30-days campaign was run by the Wildlife Trusts of the University of Derby, with the prime focus on uncovering the crucial role nature plays in our overall eudaemonia. The study revealed that subjective feelings of happiness and wellbeing were positively correlated with natural activities such as gardening, animal feeding, bird watching, and bushwalking.

Dr. Miles Richardson, the face of this research, cited valuable evidence on how proximity to the nature improved mood, enhanced respiratory functioning, regulated hormonal malfunctions, and impacted on the thought structure of individuals as a whole.

Just by being outdoors and using all our senses to appreciate nature, we can be more mindful of the present, gain emotional resilience, and combat stress with more vitality.

We become naturally immune to anxiety, emotional ups and downs, and thought blocks, thereby feel more lively and energetic than before.

The survey further pointed that people who lived close to natural wilderness like the beach, mountains, or parklands, had better mental health and reported of falling sick lesser than those living in congested urban settings (Kuo and Coley, 2016).

Such families had fewer instances of domestic violence, said of feeling less fatigued, and showed increased productivity at the professional front

5 Ways to Apply the Positive Effects of Nature in Our Life

1. Walk more

We know walking is good for the heart, muscles, and the overall metabolism rate. And now scientists have proved that walking in the natural environment improves our emotional health too.

A study conducted and published by Stanford University, California revealed that participants who walked in the green parklands showed increased attention and focus, more so than participants who walked in closed urban settings or on a treadmill.

Not only that, but the former group also showed less engagement in negative thinking and felt more confident about themselves than the other group.

2. Keep a nature journal

A nature journal is a creative and unique way of imbibing the positive vibes of nature into our everyday lives. Many people who encourage this habit express feelings of inner peace and joy. In a nature journal, we can collect and note everything about our encounters with the outer world.

For example, after a walk by the beach on a cloudy evening, we can sketch some clouds in the journal or draw the sea and write how we felt when we were walking through the breezy shore. Many people collect small things like a pebble, flowers, feathers, or leaves, and glue them in the nature journal with their thoughts poured into it. A great way to spend some quality ‘me-time,’ nature journaling inevitably brings a part of nature in our usual lives.

3. Spend some working hours outside

Most working professionals today have the flexibility to access daily tasks outside (thanks to technology). We can choose to spend a part of our working day out to avoid the monotony of the cubicle and the same old office space.

It may be one conference in the garden or lunch at the local park, anything that can logically amalgamates with nature. Spending some time outside alone or with co-workers gives an instant boost of freshness to the mind, thereby reducing the stress and frustration that comes from working tonelessly for hours at a stretch.

4. Plant at home

Growing plants at home not just add aesthetic beauty to your space, it also contributes to purifying the air you breathe in.

Having plants at home balances and soothes the home ambiance and aids in respiration and breathing. Studies have proved that indoor plants or a garden are beneficial for the mental health of the people who live there. They help in improving sensory awareness, cognitive functions, and enhances focus.

Indoor plants reconnect us to nature, please our senses, and brings a serene feeling when we stay close to them.

5. Balance the diet with more natural elements

Diet is undoubtedly a great way of establishing a strong connection to Mother Nature. By consuming more plant-based proteins, vitamins, and minerals, we can help our body maintain its optimal state of functioning and homeostasis level.

Recent healthcare research proved that the consumption of plant-based protein is correlated to lower mortality rates as opposed to animal-based proteins. It is not a bad idea, after all, to replace meat with vegetables and grains – if that brings good health and long life to us!

A Take-Home Message:

“All the trees are losing their leaves, and not one of them is worried”
Donald Miller

How to Nourish your body so you can eliminate anxiety.

emotion, health, mental health, nutrition, stress, Uncategorized, wellness

There are many possible causes of anxiety, from trauma to medication side effects.  Many medical conditions also mimic symptoms of anxiety: thyroid disorders, and other hormonal imbalances, diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, and heart conditions.  “Much of our increasing emotional distress stems from easily correctable malfunctions in our brain and body chemistry-malfunctions that are primarily the result of critical, unmet nutritional needs,” The Mood Cure, Julia Ross (2004,3).

Improved nutrition, lifestyle changes, exercise, stress reduction techniques, supplements, and mind-body practices are all part of a natural approach to anxiety and other mood problems.  James Lake, integrative psychiatrist and author of Textbook of Integrative Mental Health (2007), supports these methods for mild to moderate mental health symptoms, as do many other holistic practitioners and researchers.

Why use a natural approach? Perhaps you already feel strongly about taking a natural approach to health whenever possible and want to learn more.  Or maybe your anxiety was so severe and you were so desperate that you turned to medications, but now they aren’t working as well or as expected, or perhaps they do help but you don’t like some of the side effects.  Perhaps you know deep down that addressing the root cause is the way to go.  Whatever the reason, if you’re looking for natural options for combating anxiety, you’ve come to the right place.

Using natural approaches in the form of foods and nutrients can address the root cause of your anxiety, alleviate symptoms, and keep them from returning.  For example, if your anxiety is due to a vitamin B6 deficiency, it makes the most sense to boost your levels of vitamin B6.  This will also help raise your levels of serotonin, which could improve your mood, sleep, cravings, and, for women, PMS symptoms.  It would also be important to look at why your vitamin B6 is low to start with.  Maybe you aren’t getting enough in your diet, aren’t digesting well, are under a great deal of stress, or have depleted levels from taking birth control pills.  This is just one example of a nutrient deficiency that can contribute to anxiety.

Good-quality food is the number one priority.  Taking supplemental nutrients to correct imbalances is ideally a short-term approach.  The exceptions would be if you have an inherited tendency to low levels of some nutrients, or you can’t or won’t take steps to ease high levels of stress.

It’s also important to remember that we are all unique, with individual biochemistry, imbalances, and life circumstances.  There isn’t a one-size-fits-all magic solution, even among natural approaches. By eating better, reducing stress, and addressing any nutritional imbalances, you’ll also see an overall improvement in your general health and well-being.

Eating real, whole, good quality food is the foundation of my work, and any program to prevent and alleviate mental health issues such as anxiety, obsessive tendencies, worry, panic attacks, and depression, as well as maintain optimal mental health. This approach, combined with eating according to your own unique needs, will help calm your anxious mind.

How to use Emotions to your advantage.

emotion, health, mental health, positive thinking, stress, therapy, wellness

Do you feel like you can handle whatever life throws at you?

The emotional dimension of wellness recognizes awareness and acceptance of one’s feelings. Emotional wellness includes the range we feel positive and enthusiastic about our self and our life. It includes the capacity to manage feelings and related behaviors including knowing our limits, development of independence, and ability to cope effectively with stress.

Emotions are a part of who we are and how we are perceived by others.  Your mood can affect your thoughts and behaviors.  Your emotions are affected by certain events like thinking about friends and family and past and future events.  Good emotions can motivate and excite us to look forward to new things and activities.  When we feel unpleasant emotions, it can be a sign that we don’t want a certain activity or event to occur or continue.

There are good types of stress that make you feel energized, and there are bad types of stress that can have a negative impact on us – not only emotionally but physically as well.

How to deal with situations that cause bad stress: The FOUR A’s

  1. Accept situations that you can not change.
  2. Avoid things and people who cause you stress.
  3. Alter the situations you can change by communicating more effectively,
  4. Adapt to the situation with an open mind and focus on the positive.

(Ideas from http//:www.helpguide.org)

 

For many of us, it’s not a great disaster that weakens our health but instead how we handle the more frequent everyday stresses of life.  So like a rock in a stream, if we do not cope well with daily life our health is slowly worn away until it is time for a significant health effect like a heart attack. P. Granello from Wellness Counseling, 2013.

On the ELM Mental Wellness path, you’ll be able to express feelings freely and manage feelings effectively. You’ll be able to form relationships with others based upon a foundation of mutual commitment, trust, and respect. You’ll take on challenges, take risks, and recognize conflict as being potentially healthy. Managing your life in personally rewarding ways, and taking responsibility for your actions, will help you see life as an exciting, hopeful adventure.

 

It is better to be aware of and accept our feelings than to deny them. It is better to be optimistic in our approach to life than pessimistic.

 Be Well,

Kelle Greeson, LPCC CWC

Owner, ELM Mental Wellness