FROM BLUE TO GREEN – WHY ‘GREEN TIME’ IS IMPORTANT FOR WELLBEING

Many of us will have memories of being told to play outside when we were kids. Our parents motive was most likely to get us out of the house, but chances are they weren’t aware of the full benefits to our wellbeing.

Unfortunately, the increase in  urban-living means many of us spend less time in nature and more time in artificial light (Blue Light) and it’s taking a toll on our mental health and wellbeing.

Scientists have been discovering for some time that access to nature or even viewing scenes of nature improves health and well-being, aids people’s recovery from illness, helps prevent disease and even cope with pain. (1) 

Research has revealed that when it comes to exercise, even just 5 minutes in nature has shown to have a positive influence on wellbeing.

Health, Nature and Sustainability Research Group’s associate researcher from Deakin University in Melbourne, Dr Rona Weerasuriya, says “Nature allows the opportunity for people to experience relaxation, rejuvenation, improved affective states and connect with people, among a host of other health and wellbeing benefits. Simply escaping out into nature provides the freedom, relaxation and physical activity, which is needed and known to have a positive impact on mental states such as anxiety and depression.” (2)

This maybe why many urban office spaces are going green with the addition of office wall gardens and plants. (3).  There is strong evidence supporting the benefits of plants in office spaces for reducing stress, negative mood, increasing creativity and focus. (4).

Intuitively most of us know that being in nature is good for us, but given the amount of research backing this it’s good reason to have a daily ‘green time’ ritual to make us feel energised.  This could be a simple walk around a park in your lunch-break, walking your dog and focussing on the environment around you or doing some gardening when you get home. Whatever your ritual, going green each day will help your feeling of wellbeing.

 

References:

(1) https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/environment/nature-and-us/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing

(2) https://www.beyondblue.org.au/about-us/research-projects/research-projects/beyond-blue-to-green-the-health-benefits-of-contact-with-nature-in-a-park-context-literature-review

(3) https://www.ngia.com.au/Story?Action=View&Story_id=1686

(4) https://www.ngia.com.au/Attachment?Action=Download&Attachment_id=1430

 

Why set Goals

Find Your WHY And You’ll Find Your Way

A common goal for many people is to lose weight. In fact, if you use Google search, how to lose weight is in the top 3 most popular questions.  With a multi-million dollar weight-loss industry out there and a worldwide obesity epidemic, it’s clear that just setting a goal to lose weight isn’t enough. Even if you do lose the weight, it often comes right back on after you’ve reached the goal.  What if there was a deeper reason why you want the weight off far beyond what the scales say? Your most powerful motivation source is YOU, so connecting to what makes YOU tick could be the key.

There is a saying by Friedrich Nietzsche – “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” Anthony Robbins then took this quote and reworded it to the catchy ‘Find your WHY and you’ll find your WAY’. Your WHY is connected to your values, which reflect what is really important to you.  It’s the fire in your belly, your mojo, your core motivation that connects you to the goal on an emotional level. 

Researchers like Deci and Ryan, founders of Self-determination theory, have shown that if you find your own reasons why a goal is important to you, and are emotionally connected to this goal, you are more likely to achieve it.  

Your WHY needs to come from within you (the geeky science term is ‘self-determined intrinsic motivation’ and an even better, but similar form of motivation is ‘Intrinsic motivation’).  Weight loss maybe what you want, but to stick to a weight-loss plan you need a deeper reason than  getting into size 8 jeans.

Here are some examples of WHY’s around weight loss that have an emotional connection to the goal:

  • I want to have more energy so I can play with my kids
  • I want to live pain free so I can live my life feeling well
  • I want to love myself again so I can be at my best
  • I want to live a long life so I can be here for my grandchildren
  • I want to feel happy again 
  • I want to buy the clothes that make me feel comfortable 
  • I want to bounce out of bed in the morning and look forward to the day

Your core reason for WHY you want to reach your goal is unique to you, but it must connect with you on an emotional level.

What’s your WHY for achieving your goal that you have an emotional connection with?

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Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts” – Allan Lokos, author

Most of us want a mindset that helps us feel good and helps us be productive, kind, helpful and just all round awesome. But our mindsets are not always an environment of roses and fluffy clouds as we’d like them to be. This is often hard to be aware of and hard to change.

Think of the set in mindset.  It’s rigid, stubborn …. it’s set.

Why does this happen?  It’s a cumulation of past experiences, previous thoughts, relationships, what others have done and said (even as small children), what we’ve seen in the media and what the most important people in our lives have said or done that make up our current mindset. The beliefs, opinions and attitudes that make up our mindset are pretty much hard-wired in us but this hard-wiring can be changed.

There are so many ways to look at a situation, so many different ways to think about the things that happen to you and around you. Remember the story of Pollyanna? She saw the good in everything, even in the worst situations.  The first step is to be aware of your thinking choices.  We have around 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day and many of these are repeated and many not logical.  

Cognitive bias, false assumptions, misinformation, ego and limited beliefs are just a few patterns of unhealthy thought that interfere with our judgement. With a rise in mental health issues wordwide, there are a lot of us out there with unhealthy thought patterns. One in 4 people worldwide are affected by a mental health disorder (1) and 4 million people in Australia are experiencing a Mental Health issues (2) with Tasmania ranking the highest for hospital admissions due to mental health issues.(3) Mental health can be a complex issue.  Having awareness of whether you have a positive or negative mindset can be a help.

If you tell yourself you’re a failure, you believe you’ll never be good enough, you believe that people in the street look at you because they’re judging you, you believe you could never get to where you want to get to – you may want to start challenging these limiting beliefs.  

Here are some tips for rewiring your brain to create a positive mindset – often referred to a ‘growth mindset:

  • Use positive words instead of negative ones. Words create thoughts which create feeling, so try and keep them positive.
  • Be grateful. Research is showing us that a daily gratitude ritual makes us happier. Add the gratitude ritual on the Ritualize app and make a note of something you are thankful for each day.
  • When talking or thinking about something you’d like to have or do, use aspirational and positive language, for example:
    • Instead of “I can’t run 5km” you’d say “I can’t run 5km yet”
    • OR
    • I can’t run 5km yet/however I can go swimming more often.
    • OR
    • I’m not sleeping well YET but it’s something I’m working on.
  • Be empathetic to others. We are often so entrenched in our own beliefs that we don’t see others points of view.

Taking control of your thoughts is the first step to a more positive and happier mindset.  Listen to your thoughts before you react.

 

REFERENCES

http://www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/press_release/en/

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4364.0.55.001

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-14/community-based-care-needed-to-curb-mental-health-hospital-admi/9049808