Being in nature is known to improve general well being, from reducing stress, anxiety, and sadness, to reducing muscle tension, stress hormones, blood pressure, and heart rate. Think about the aspect of nature that makes you feel the most relaxed and at ease; find that environment for yourself and make it a part of your rhythm.
This might look like: 1. Walking each morning to enjoy the sunrise 2. Swimming in your local river or lake every weekend 3. Hiking twice a week to enjoy the trees and birds on the trail near your house 4. Taking a road trip to another part of your state each month 5. Driving out to the country and stargazing twice a month 6. Biking through your neighborhood to pick up your coffee before work 7. Planning a coast trip twice a year
However often you can make a trip out to nature, do it. Whether you’re walking to gaze at mountains for 10 minutes each morning or jumping into ocean water once a month, try your best to move around in a natural setting.
3. Keep Houseplants or Start a Garden
There’s nothing like watching and nurturing plants to encourage optimism and mental health. Since you’ll have something to look forward to in each season, gardening can create joy and break cycles of anxiety. It can also help you clear your mind, especially after difficult days.
You don’t have to start a whole garden; not everyone has enough space to do so
further problem is that the so-called ‘symptoms’ are not examples of bodily dysfunction, such as pain, rashes and so on, but consist of a ragbag of social judgements about people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour. For example, someone – usually a woman – diagnosed with ‘borderline personality disorder’ has been assessed as displaying ‘inappropriate, intense anger’ and ‘a pattern of unstable personal relationships.’ But we know that women who are so labelled very often have a history of abuse, which may make their so-called ‘symptoms’ entirely understandable.
Similarly, there is growing evidence that the hostile voices said to be a symptom of ‘schizophrenia’ may reflect earlier unprocessed traumas, such as bullying or domestic violence. And at the less severe end of the spectrum, the desperation and hopelessness that might be diagnosed as ‘depression’ is known to occur more often in personal and social contexts that give people very good reasons to be miserable. These histories are routinely obscured and unaddressed within a system that re-interprets them as evidence of medical illness or disorder.
In essence, then, a diagnosis turns ‘people with problems’ into ‘patients with illnesses’. Reactions to receiving a diagnosis vary, and some people say that it offered welcome relief from guilt and isolation. For others, though, it constitutes the first step in a lifelong career as psychiatric patient, with everything that is implied – long-term use of psychiatric drugs, stigma, and social exclusion. Some have vividly described the profound disjunction in their sense of identity as this new version of reality is imposed on them: ‘I walked into (the psychiatrist’s office) as Don and walked out a schizophrenic … I remember feeling afraid, demoralised, evil.’
Psychiatric diagnosis turns ‘people with problems’ into ‘patients with illnesses’.
How, then, do we proceed, if we want to accept the reality of people’s distress and yet dispute the validity of the medical explanations that are offered? This model has taken hold so strongly that it can seem bizarre to question it. And yet we have a mountain of research to confirm that all kinds of social and relationship adversities massively increase the likelihood of experiencing all varieties of mental distress. This includes poverty, unemployment, emotional neglect, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, bullying, and so on, as well as more subtle difficulties such as feeling criticised, undermined, invalidated and excluded.
At a wider level it has been demonstrated beyond dispute that we all suffer from living in societies that are unjust and economically unequal – ‘If Britain became as equal as the four most equal societies […] mental illness might be more than halved’ (Wilkinson & Pickett). Similarly, psychologists have described how whole societies may be affected by so-called ‘austerity ailments’ of humiliation and shame; fear and distrust; instability and insecurity; isolation and loneliness; and feeling trapped and powerless.
This perspective does not give us the neat explanations or the hope of simple cures that are offered by a diagnosis and a corresponding pill. It implies that we need very different solutions, at every level from individual to societal. One possible starting point is the core skill of all clinical psychologists, known as ‘formulation’ (Johnstone & Dallos). This is the process of making sense of a person’s difficulties in
As anyone with a sibling or more than one child knows, people will respond differently to the same situation. How much do individual traits change or mitigate the effect of ACEs?
A. If you take a population of 1,000 people or 10,000 people or 100,000 people and they all have one ACE versus two ACEs versus seven ACEs — what you’re going to see is this substantially increased risk of health problems. Are there still going to be folks who by virtue of their biology or circumstance or environment are able to be resilient in the face of adversity? There are. Just like there’s the guy who smoked two packs a day and drank whiskey every day and lived to be 100. The takeaway for me is how we’re trying to reduce the exposure on a population level.
Q. You’ve said that your work on ACEs led you to your husband. What do you mean by that?
A. I won’t comment on any of my ex-boyfriends, but I was like — whoa — the type of relationship that I have has a profound impact on my life span and my health. Not just how I feel, but this could seriously shorten my life expectancy.
My husband is a person who I feel heals me from the inside out. He’s been really instrumental in what I’ve been able to accomplish in terms of starting my organization
It’s a subjective feeling, but researchers have begun to find signals in the brain that put the need for social interaction on par with the need to eat. In a study published in November, scientists deprived participants of contact with other people and then scanned their brains. After just 10 hours of isolation in a lab — where they could read or draw but had no access to their phones or computers — people reported feeling lonely and craving social contact.
Research suggests you don’t even need to know the people you’re helping. Just donating money to a good cause might help, Dr. Uchino said. In a series of experiments, researchers found that people who gave money to others were happier than if they spent it on themselves.
But if you’re overwhelmed by giving, it can become detrimental. Instead, try hobbies like cooking, gardening, writing in a journal or even listening to music. Creative arts can reduce loneliness, too, and while singing in person in a choir might not be possible right now, singing from balconies or through virtual groups can be powerful.
This might also be a good time to help out your neighbors. Using the neighborhood social app NextDoor to randomly assign people to perform small acts of kindness — like delivering groceries, chatting over a fence or participating in a neighborhood cleanup event — Dr. Holt-Lunstad and her colleagues found that loneliness rates dropped from 10 percent of people to 5 percent in people who did the kind acts.
Young people’s mental health is one of the greatest challenges facing the NHS,” said Dr Daisy Fancourt, the UCL mental health expert running the trial. “Currently many young people referred to child and adolescent mental health services face long waits, during which time more than three-quarters experience a deterioration in their mental health.