We’re all under increased stress right now. The economic uncertainty, the increased negativity in politics, and the challenge to keep up with it all can be wearing. Our communal stresses are boiling over into increased physical and emotional ailments, burnout and exhaustion. Companies routinely have staff doing the work of several people, and those that have these impossible jobs have to worry if they’re going to be the next victim of downsizing. While some are scrambling to find a job, workers are overly accessible making them constantly on-call via cell phone, text or video conferencing, and corporate businesses increasingly value volume over quality to keep up with the economic times. Add to this the stress of little down time (the Center for Economic and Policy Research refers to the U.S. as the No Vacation Nation), and memory overload trying to remember passwords and all of the things to keep track of in a given day, and we really need to be extra vigilant with ways to reduce our stress levels.
You know the basics -- exercise, find time to relax, eat right and get plenty of sleep. It’s time to take a closer look at how we can maximize the effectiveness of these healthy tenets. For example, the effectiveness of exercise and relaxation can be compounded when it’s done outdoors, eating right no longer means the old school model food pyramid, and sleep needs to be redefined as quality sleep.
Let’s zoom in on exercise and relaxation. One thing studies are showing again and again is that we need to put nature back in our lives. Physically and emotionally humans evolved in the out of doors. Now it’s estimated the average American spends 93% of his time indoors. Totally removing ourselves from our natural environment creates a strange sense of disorientation and alienation.
It’s now believed by many scientists, sociologists and psychologists that natural environments are necessary for good emotional health. Richard Louv has even coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder, which he sees as a contributor to increased behavioral difficulties, particularly in children.
A decrease in children’s positive relationships with the natural world is leading to adults that avoid being outside. These kids become adults who haven’t grown up with the opportunities to relate to our natural world so they don’t see the value in either preserving open spaces, or spending time in them. This is unfortunate since studies are supporting the need for time outdoors for increased physical and mental health. So let's get everyone back outside for health. Learn more about what these studies are saying in my upcoming post -- The Need for Nature.
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