Mental Health Awareness Week has arrived and it’s time to see how nature can help boost our mood and stay positive…
Aaand breathe… Now is the time to dig deep into the brain’s mysterious enigma and begin cracking its code. With Mental Health Awareness Week in full flow, there’s no better time to get on top of our mental health and begin understanding the simple ways in which we can improve our wellbeing.
Read on as we delve into the science that connects the mind with mother Earth, and learn how the environment is crucial to improving our mental health and wellbeing.
This year in the UK, Mental Health Awareness Week is being conducted across the 9th-15th May. The event’s front runners, Mental Health UK, will be hosting the event as a way to encourage people to come together and tackle the taboos of mental health. Throughout the week they will raise awareness and education around mental health topics, with this year’s theme centering around ‘Loneliness’.
In support of this annual event, we will be looking at the ways in which the environment can support our mental health, as well as tackle loneliness and build a strong community.
It’s eye-opening when you realise that just 10 minutes in nature can help improve the productivity of your whole day.
We have become accustomed to skipping breaks and working tedious hours. But now, research is showing that these breaks are crucial to the longevity of our mental health. Countless experiments have found that being exposed to flourishing natural environments improves working memory, cognitive flexibility, and attentional control. While exposure to urban environments is linked to attention deficits. Who knew!
Remember to take those well-deserved breaks, and you might just find the guilt slowly shedding off your shoulders while your work performance gets better every day.
Experimental findings show how impressive nature’s healing powers can be— taking just a few moments to enjoy the environment is proven to perk up a tired brain and even improve your performance.
One study found that participants listening to the calming sounds of crickets chirping and waves crashing performed better when it came to completing a demanding cognitive test than those who listened to urban sounds like traffic and the clatter of a busy café (sound familiar?).
It’s safe to say that it is far too easy to forget just how much the environment does for us. So much so that even the smallest amendments to our homes and its surroundings can transform the attitudes of both you and your neighbours!
In one American study, residents from public housing were split into two groups. One group was surrounded by trees and green space while the other had no green view. The results found that residents in the housing who had plenty of green space reported knowing more people, having stronger feelings of unity with neighbours, being more concerned with helping and supporting each other, and having stronger feelings of belonging than the tenants in buildings without any green space.
Even better- not only did this group experience a greater sense of community, they had a reduced risk of street crime, lower levels of violence and aggression between domestic partners, and a better capacity to cope with life’s demands, especially the stresses of living in poverty.
This type of experience is a real eye opener when we look toward a better world and one where we can fully improve our mental health and wellbeing.
So when it comes to bettering the mental health of us and those around us, taking the time to prioritise the environment is key!
Interestingly, nature itself is the most natural remedy of them all. Humans are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other natural elements awe-inspiring. We are totally absorbed by nature’s sounds and thus distracted from pain and discomfort.
This is demonstrated in one classic study looking at patients who underwent gallbladder surgery. Half of the recovering participants were placed in a hospital room that had a view of trees. The other half with just a mere view of a wall. According to the physician who conducted the study, the patients with the view of trees tolerated pain much better than those without. Nurses agreed patients appeared to have fewer negative experiences, and overall they spent less time in a hospital. More recent studies have shown similar results, looking at the effects of nature and plants in hospital rooms.
Spending time in nature is also proven to have life changing benefits on the development of young children. Green spaces near schools have been shown to promote cognitive development in children and green views near children’s homes are said to promote self-control behaviours. Other studies suggest that when children go outside, it leaves a life-long impression.
One study from Denmark assessed residents’ exposure to green spaces from the day they were born up to age 10. The researchers examined more than 900,000 residents and found that children who lived in neighbourhoods with more green space had a reduced risk of many psychiatric disorders later in life. These disorders included depression, mood swings, schizophrenia, eating disorders and substance abuse.
Those in the study that had the lowest exposure to green space during childhood were proven to have a 55% higher risk of developing mental illness than those who grew up in areas where green space was abundant.
At One Tribe we advocate for the protection of our planet in order to preserve its natural prosperity. Help us to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week as we come together to share our love for all things nature, the planet and the future.
Let’s start making the world a better place!
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