Taking at least twenty minutes out of your day to stroll or sit in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature will significantly lower your stress hormone levels. That’s the finding of a study that has established for the first time the most effective dose of an urban nature experience. Healthcare practitioners can use this discovery, published in Frontiers in Psychology, to prescribe ‘nature-pills’ in the knowledge that they have a real measurable effect.
“We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” says Dr. MaryCarol Hunter, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of this research. “Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.” more
I thought that when I was accepted to the university of my dreams, it would put me on the path to freedom—that I’d land a great job and live out a successful career. But so much changed over the five years that followed, and my journey didn’t go quite as planned.
When I transitioned from my suburban all-girls high school to a large Ivy League university in the city, I felt a major change in social and academic pressure. As an engineering student, I spent long hours in rigorous classes and studying—not to mention, the dorm I lived in was crowded and always, always loud. The image-focused culture made me question my health choices, and the full-force academic pressure put me in a mode of constant anxiety and stress. During my first year, I became pretty sick, a mental kind of sick that was manifesting physically as an eating disorder. That’s when I found yoga. more
It is as much a matter of perspective as strategy.
Finding ways to cope with anxietyis as much a matter of perspective as strategy. Anxiety in and of itself doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and in fact can be a help, especially when we are busy. A powerful source of information and energy, anxiety can walk a fine line between motivating and overwhelming depending on how we choose to view it.
For those who live with anxiety on a more-than-occasional basis, choices tend to vacillate between giving into it or learning to live with it. “Perspective” can seem like a leisure activity in our fast-paced, information-packed world, rather than a line-item on a competent person’s calendar. more
Fireworks-heavy holidays like New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July can put dogs on edge
I have what’s been described as an intimidating dog. She’s part Rottweiler, part God knows what. Earlier this week, my husband and I watched her jump and bark at two coyotes we spotted during her evening walk. She’s the same size as they were, but hearing her growl, the coyotes quickly scurried away from her.
While she often appears to be fearless, she becomes a ball of nerves on holidays like New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July, when our neighbors shoot fireworks well into the wee hours of the morning — and often for days afterward. We live in Los Angeles, where firecrackers are illegal but firmly entrenched in the city’s culture. Drought-devastated Southern California doesn’t get many rainstorms, but when thunder does occur, it sets my dog on edge too. more
Let’s be real: 2018 was a long, hard, roller coaster of a year. (Like, can you even believe that the Winter Olympics happened in the same year as the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, a Thai soccer team getting rescued from a cave, and Harry and Meghan’s wedding? I cannot.)
So yeah, 2018 has been a lot. But it’s also been a banner year for mental health awareness. More celebrities than ever have been opening up about their struggles with depression and anxiety (take that, stigma!). And new scientific research has continued to shed more light on the complexities of mental illness, from understanding the surprising link between climate change and mental health to how stress can even affect your memory. more
The holiday season can be a difficult time for many people. WBFO’s senior reporter Eileen Buckley talked to one expert about why there is more anxiety, depression and holiday blues this time of year as the nation faces a mental health crisis.
“A lot of it is related to stress and things that are going on in people’s lives,” remarked Dr. Howard Hitzel, president and CEO of Best Self Behavioral Health.
We know the holiday season can generate more stress, but for those living with mental illness, it can escalate even more difficult feelings at Christmas and New Year’s.
“People who aren’t feeling very well – they look around them and they see everyone else in a festive mood with their families and that kind of thing and so sometimes people compare to those other folks and say what’s wrong with me and why don’t I feel like that or why don’t I have a family like other people have – so it can be difficult for some folks,” remarked Hitzel. more
For many people, the holidays conjure up a Norman Rockwell-esque mental picture of people gathered to enjoy food, friends, and family, accompanied by feelings of love, warmth, and excitement.
But for others, the holidays can cause them to feel anxious or depressed despite all the decorations and festivities.
There may be pressure to impress friends and relatives with a spotless house or the perfect gift. The need to travel and buy gifts can strain an already tight budget. The crowds in parking lots, shopping centers, and airports are enough to send anyone into a state of heightened anxiety.
Obligations to attend multiple functions or visit everyone can be overwhelming. Maybe family time is tainted by unwanted conversations or a toxic relative. Perhaps the holidays remind you of friends or family members who are no longer around to celebrate. more