How Does Natural Environment Impact Our Mental Health #CauseAChatter

“Nature itself is the best physician” – Hippocrates

Mother earth has a healing power, there is something about the quite calm of nature that is contagious, leaving quite calm in the mind. Don’t you feel the same?

Nature provide us with great benefits some are more visible like food, shelter, air, water and some are less visible benefits. Surrounded by nature or just watching a picture or a movie of nature reduces stress , anger , fear and gives a pleasant feeling. Research done in many hospitals, offices, and schools have found that even a simple plant in a room can have a major impact on stress and anxiety.  Exposure to the natural world would help humans live happier, healthier lives. But not everyone is blessed to reap these benefits. Urbanization , decline in human contact with nature and increased screen time, amongst other factors, means that we spend the majority of our time indoors. It has become even more crucial to create opportunities for nature experience. Nature has given us everything in abundance but we human have exploited for our own pleasure and that’s why today we all are facing the heat. A clean and healthy environment is essential for human to feel positive.

Approaches to ensure nature have positive impact on human mind

Ecotherapy : Or green care or nature based interventions. This is a therapeutic approach that includes participating in structured outdoor activities such as gardening, food growing, nature walk and farming conservation work. All these proved to be extremely beneficial for improving mental health of the people. Ecotherapy shows that the environment, without doubt, is part of the foundation of our wellbeing. Experiencing nature has allowed us to rediscover our ties to both people and places , it helps us meet our need for connection and identity, ultimately giving our lives an enhanced sense of meaning. We are not separate from nature, but are an integral part of it.

Forest Therapy : It is yet another approach that contributes to improved emotional and cognitive health. This experience can be through a forest activity program and by experiencing the social and physical conditions of the forest environment and the therapeutic elements of the forest. Visiting or viewing a forest scene has a positive effect on psychological healing and well-being in terms of recovering from stress, improving concentration and productivity, improving the psychological state, particularly for people from urban environments.

Protecting Green spaces: From both climate and biodiversity perspectives, the protection of existing green spaces should be prioritized and evidence suggests these spaces also provide the largest health benefits.

How human have taken nature for granted!

Climate change: Climate change leads to psychological distress and anxiety about the future as it is considered as a global environment threat. It is very disheartening to see earth warming up at a steady pace. The reason for this is the increase in human-caused green house, which has lead to health, ecological and humanitarian crises.

Chemical Substances : As we know humans are exposed to wide range of chemical substances can results in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and other psychiatric and neurological conditions. For this no one else to be blamed but us.

Noise pollution : Noise pollution affects mental health problems like annoyance, poor sleep, cognitive impairment etc. Noise is particularly relevant for children, as they are particularly vulnerable, including in settings such as schools. We human need to be more sensitive towards mother nature. It is like digging our own graveyard.

All the reasons mentioned above are man made and therefore it is our responsibility to preserve nature in all its aspects. E.O Wilson has rightly said “If all mankind has to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed then thousand years ago. If insect were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos”.

Men are considered as the most selfish creatures , but if it is about our own mental health effecting due to this mess , than it is our responsibility not to cause irreversible damage to our nature and regain back its beauty.

This Post is part of Blogchatter’s #CauseAChatter Campaign.

Habits that affect our lives and Ways to deal with them #CauseAChatter

A momentary impulse, an occasional indulgence, a passing whim may by repetition become a habit difficult to uproot, a desire hard to control, and finally an automatic function that is no longer questioned. By repeated gratification of a desire , a habit is formed and thus habitual conditioning can grow into compulsion – Nyanaponika Thera

We all repeat certain behaviour that is harmful to us, be it on an emotional, mental, spiritual or physical level. We may lie, procrastinate, nail biting, struggle to be punctual, snore, play with our hair, drink too much coffee or smoke twenty cigarettes a day?? Most of us reading this list would have identifies with at least one of the examples. All of these and many not listed , may be irritating or even detrimental to our health in the long run but does ease our tension in the short term.

Why is habitual behaviour is so intrinsic to our existence? Until now we have denied or ignored our habits, but as we understand that their is mind body connection , we have to acknowledge that there must be a connection between what we do physically and what we feel emotionally.

Issues with people and circumstances that causes strong emotions upsets or balance of emotions and that’s when we are more likely to experience mood swings, instability and persistence negative emotions.

How habits are formed?

Certain emotions which triggered certain behaviour when done repeatedly converts it into a permanent habit. Therefore behaviour has become ingrained response to a particular state of being and follows as a cycle. Lets take an example.

A housewife who is experiencing anger towards her husband, whom she experience as abusive and belittling. This causes huge resentment and anger. She does not want to accept the fact that her relationship is unhappy and that there s a serious problems in the home. She wants everything appears to be just fine. Literally, on the surface everything needs to look good. So she cleans and re-cleans to make everything sparkle- except of course herself, who is actually far from sparkling. Lets understand her cycle: Trigger emotions that makes her feel guilty. Not expressing her anger and allowing her husband’s words to make her feel small leads to self-esteem issues. This makes her sad and she loses her self confidence. The truth is that she is still not honest with herself and stay in a denial mode as in there is no problem in the relationship. As a result performing the habit makes her feel better as at least she can do something well and feel some sense of achievement and things appears to look all right on the surface. There are number of habits out of which i will be taking about those which seriously affects our lives and we are not even aware about it.

There are certain habits that seriously affect our lives

In spite of overwhelming proof that these habits can do more harm , most of us do indulge in at least one of them on regular basis. Why? Because they make us feel good while we are doing them.

Self Harming

Self harming is a way of dealing with emotional pain in a physical way. A history of abuse is most often the prime cause, be the abuse emotional, physical or sexual. Most of the time dismissed by the people who call this as an attention seeking behaviour. That’s the reason majority of self-harmers are secretive about their habit. Self-harmers are often understandable angry at the situation yet feel unable to do anything about it. In this case a person feels that they have little or no control in the outside world, harming gives one a feeling some degree of control, even if it causes harm to themselves.

When the emotional pain becomes so intense that we unable to feel and deal with it, harming our self physically becomes only way to deal with it. There are a number of different techniques which can be used to stop self harming:

  • Yoga and deep breathing exercise
  • Finding an outlet as a punch-bag to vent out anger on such as a sport
  • Keeping a journal and recording your feelings
  • Removing potential self harming objects
  • Starting to learn to talk to others about how you feel
  • Using ice cubes and holding them- its painful but not harmful

Skin picking

Skin picking results from a build up emotional stress and anxiety, which is relieved through picking. It is also a habit that involves much shame and guilt, which is why people seldom admit that they do it and seek help. The skin consists primarily of boundary and communication aspects (how we interact with out side world). Digging and picking into it is a way of getting to what;s under our skin that is what is bugging us. This picking relieves boredom, anxiety, sadness as emotional stress.

Issues with the skin are an indication that we do like, that we are showing to the world about ourselves. We somehow want or feel that we should be less flawed and we we seek to rectify the problems by picking at our faults, which makes us feel better when we are doing it, but guilty and shameful afterwards.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is commonly used a means to understand the emotions triggers to this problem. Once these are understood , alternative coping strategies are adopted like , using gloves or bandage to reduce sensory urge , enrolling in web base programs which involves commitment that aims to help you reach a greater understanding of the problem and to work to heal it. Taking a professional help is advisable.

Shop lifting

For each shop lifter there is a different underlining cause. For some it occurs as a result of professional activity, for some it could be a thrilling experience, for some its like they have an entitlement , as if society rules don’t apply to them and they believe themselves to be above other people, laws and rules. Some people do it due to socio-economic issues as they are deprived of attention, material requirements and love as a children. And there are some habitual shop-lifters, for them stealing is both thrill and an opportunity to take revenge on a society which they perceive has failed or wronged them. Another category is of Kleptomaniacs, they do not plan to steal and commonly take items for which they have little use.

How can you stop this? Realise that what you are doing is very harmful. Should you be caught, you may face a prison sentence or community service. Stealing is no way to retaliate against a society where the law is upheld. If you are tempted , visualize yourself being apprehended and the effect that this would have on yourself and on those you love. There may be underlining problems, such as depression, that are provoking you to steal. Get help before you are caught or find any other positive activity to replace stealing.

Hair pulling

While shame and guilt must be the overriding result of hair-pulling. Tension and frustration are its main causes. we feel flawed and therefore afraid to voice who we really are, for fear that those shortcoming will be revealed. Our shame act as an inner critic, telling us that we aren’t worthy of being listened to, that we aren’t bright enough, pretty enough or knowledgeable enough for our needs to be expressed. Our guilt and shame about our hair pulling, then, confirms this assumption. Feeling inadequate and constantly giving in to the will of others at the expense of our own creates huge tension which we relieve through hair-pulling.

There are few healing strategies one can adopt for example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy where in people are taught to identify the trigger points and then substitute the impulse with other, less harm full habits. Another way to deal with this is by simply interrupting their hair-pulling by putting bandages on their fingers or keeping records and journals of their need to pull and when and how it is triggered. There are some medical treatments available which can be adopted. Support groups have been very helpful, as simply knowing that they are not alone.

Can you change your habits? The answer is yes you can if you are determined…

The first and the foremost thing which you need to do is identify what triggers these habits. Follow few steps by answering these questions

  • Write down a habit which you would like to overcome and set a time limit for this.
  • Review the last three times you have exhibited that habit.
  • How did you feel emotionally, before performing the habit.
  • How did you feel physically.
  • How did the habit make you feel afterwards.
  • Is there a pattern.
  • How do other people respond.
  • What is the outcome of performing your habit.
  • What is it, that triggers your habit.

Having gained insight into what really triggers your behaviour, you need to look at ways in which you stop doing what you do.

Three ways to Stop these negative habits

Substitution

In this you substitute your behaviour with less harmful practice, for example you cannot stop snacking on chocolate, so before urge occurs, you have made the decision to substitute chocolate for fresh fruits, which you have to made sure is handy. Each victory, no matter how small, affirms the one to come. This substitution method works really well for most physical cravings.

Interruption

Our negative behaviour often occurs unconsciously. But once we become aware of what triggers the behaviour , we can decide on another action to take, before we do whatever habit it is we want to indulge in. For example if you often find yourself having too many cups of coffee, make a rule of having long glass of water, another example, if you know you get angry on particular situation, make a rule to count till 10. Such interruptions not only make us more aware of when we are acting in a particular manner, but by the time we have done them, they often also alleviate our need to act in that way altogether.

Affirmations and goal setting

Goal setting for your behaviour is a wonderful way of affirming your progress as well honestly identifying your downfalls. The key is not to focus on those days when things went wrong but to affirms those days you stuck with your plan. Affirmations are wonderful way of enhancing the process. By repeating the phrase you have decided upon, make it more of a reality. Make sure your affirmations are positive and is spoken in present tense, as if the desired behaviour is already been achieved.

These strategies will definitely work if you believe in yourself.

This post is part of Blogchatter #CauseAChatter

@SwatiMathur

Picture Courtesy /Edit : Pexels /Canva