This week we celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day, and there’s no better way to celebrate these holidays than by getting your hands dirty. Gardening engages you physically, mentally, and socially. Health benefits are numerous and you don’t need to live in the suburbs or the country to experience gardening and its benefits. Gardening can positively impact a number of health outcomes, including: Reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety Decrease in reported stress and mood disturbances Decrease in BMI Higher reported sense of community Increased physical activity Improved cognitive function Gardening has both immediate and long-term effects on health. For individuals with mental health conditions, horticultural therapy - using gardening as a means to facilitate dialogue and skill building - has shown promise for improving chronic and acute mental health conditions. People report feeling happier almost immediately when engaging in gardening. Over time, individuals lowered their BMI through physical activity and improved nutrition. One study identified improvements in depression, life satisfaction, and cognitive function continuing for 3 months after therapy. Earth Day and Arbor Day are great catalysts for encouraging us to spend more time in nature and trying out gardening as a hobby; but just how does gardening impact health? Connecting with nature Nature has been shown to be restorative to our minds, cognitively and emotionally. Spending time [...]
Since 1992 The Health Resource Network (HRN) has sponsored Stress Awareness Month in April, with National Stress Awareness Day observed on April 16th. Stress affects all of us, so take this time to learn how to identify your stressors and familiarize yourself with the tools for coping with stress. Kinds of Stress There are two forms of stress: acute and chronic. We all face acute stress each day - from the traffic on the way to work to the realization that you didn’t prepare for tonight’s dinner. Acute stress is highly treatable and manageable. Acute stress can even be exciting (remember your first roller coaster?). Stress initiates our fight or flight response, sending chemicals through our brains and bodies that help us react. For example, think about the last time you were in a car and someone cut you off. How did your body feel? What was your physical reaction? How about verbal reaction? This is stress triggering your fight or flight response. When stress becomes frequent and negative, it is known as chronic stress. This kind of stress takes a toll on our bodies. Chronic stress can raise blood pressure, increase heart rate, cause stomach problems and headaches, and the development of feelings of anger, anxiety, or depression. Eating habits may become poor, substance use may increase, and physical [...]
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. Victor Frankl Have you noticed those upbeat people in your environment who never seem to let anything get them down? They seem to manage life’s stresses and challenges with a smile on their face and a skip in their step. No matter what lemons life seems to throw at them, they are still able to make lemonade. What is the quality that these people have and how can you start to cultivate it in your own life? The quality you are noticing is called optimism. Optimism is defined as a general inclination to anticipate positive outcomes in any given situation. An optimistic person expects things to turn out for the best. You can imagine how this kind of attitude immunizes one against the inevitable challenges encountered in any stressful situation. How we appraise a situation in determining the stress and/or anxiety the situation generates plays a key role. We generate negative or positive thoughts on a day-to-day basis based on how you appraise a situation. Often the experience of stress is based more in the perception of a situation as opposed to the subjective reality. So, if you see [...]
Clinical Operations Manager for Health Promotion
Nur Atiqa Asri
Center for Active Design
"Walk it off." How many times have you heard someone say that to a person who needs to blow off some steam? We have heard that getting some fresh air and exercising can be a great way to relieve stress. But are our cities designed to encourage this? And if they're not, what does this mean about our stress levels and emotional well-being?
Nur Atiqa Asri, from the Center for Active Design, tackles this head on as she explores what it means to "actively commute" to work and how this shift can dramatically improve our physical and mental well-being. Check out her blog contribution below: