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Posts Tagged ‘nature’

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My teenage daughter lectures me from time to time about overusing plastics, especially those that can’t be recycled. We’ve bought reusable straws to use at home, and I get dirty looks if I take a straw at a restaurant. I’ve been wondering why using a plastic straw would be detrimental to my health and well-being. Turns out there is a dimension of wellness called Environmental Wellness. We may not think much about Environmental Wellness as part of an overall wellness plan that might include eating more fruits and vegetables, but our environment and how we feel about it can have a huge impact on the way we feel overall.

Environmental well-being includes trying to live in balance with the nature by understanding the impact of your interaction with nature and your personal environment, and taking action to protect the world around you. Protecting yourself from environmental hazards and minimizing the negative impact of your behavior on the environment are also central elements.

According to University California- Riverside leading a lifestyle that is respectful to our environment and minimizes any harm done to it is a critical part of environmental wellness. Environmental wellness involves a number of different aspects of personal and societal responsibilities, but generally relates to being aware of earths natural resources (soil, water, clean air) and their limits, understanding how daily habits impact natural resources, and being accountable by taking actions to minimize our impact on natural resources. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I recycle?
  • If I see something damaging to the environment, do I take the steps to fix the problem?
  • Do I volunteer time to worthy causes to protect soil, water, air, or wildlife?
  • Do I take time to appreciate my environment (go hiking, fishing, meditate, swim in stream or lake)?

If you answered “No” to any of the questions, it may indicate an area where you need to improve the state of your environmental wellness.

Recycling– Recycling saves energy and natural resources. For example, recycling one ton of office paper can save the energy equivalent of consuming 322 gallons of gasoline! Some cities offer recycling programs that pick up your recycled products at your curb. In other communities, you may have to collect your recycles and drive them to a designated recycle bin. The EPA offers some good information about what can and can’t be recycled, and recycling centers are all different in terms of what they can and can’t accept. In general, glass, cardboard, paper, food and beverage cans, jugs, plastic bottles, food boxes can be recycled. Other items such as Styrofoam, and soiled products can’t. Follow the rules, otherwise recycling centers have to spend time, energy and resources to filter out products that can’t be recycled.

Hazardous materials and situations– Some materials such as oil, paint, cleaners chemicals, and other products can pollute soil and water. Oil from one oil change for example can pollute thousands of gallons of water. Many commercial garages will accept used oil, and other businesses might accept paint and other materials.

Volunteering- Consider volunteering at a national, state or local park. Maintaining trails, planting trees, cleaning up streams and rivers are all volunteer activities that might contribute to your environmental wellness. The AARP offers some ideas on volunteering to help the environment.

Appreciate the environment– Appreciating the environment and natural resources will help motivate you and your family to change habits. Set a goal to get outside and appreciate the soil, air and water. Hike, fish, hunt, camp, swim, garden and even meditate outdoors!

Getting back to straws- although straws are only a fraction of plastics waste, they have become a poster child for single use plastics that wind up consumed by wildlife and found on beaches. In fact each human on the planet consumes around 88 pounds of plastic a year! Cutting back on straws can be a gateway to making many other changes in your life to improve your environmental wellness!!

Sources:

University of California Riverside. Environmental Wellness at https://wellness.ucr.edu/environmental_wellness.html

Environmental Protection Agency. Recycling 101 at https://www.epa.gov/recycle/frequent-questions-recycling

American Association of Retired Persons. 5 ways you can help the environment. https://www.aarp.org/giving-back/info-09-2012/fun-ways-to-help-environment.html

Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Associate Professor, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

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One of my goals for this year is to explore mindfulness. In this blog, I want to share a few things that I’ve learned about this life changing topic.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in American mindfulness,
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

Path in forest I enjoy being outside in nature. I have often wondered why this is relaxing for me. Why is it that I breathe deeper and feel a sense of calmness come over me while enjoying the beauty of nature?

I have learned that it has to do with the focus on my surroundings and mental relaxation that I experience from being in nature. Moving mindfully provides us with several benefits and can help increase the awareness of our bodies and the surroundings around us. According to the American Heart Association, some benefits of mindful movement may include:

  • Manage stress, depression and insomnia
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve balance and stability
  • Relieve chronic pain
  • Improve quality of life and mood in people with heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses
  • Motivate you to exercise more and eat healthier

One reason that I enjoy exploring mindfulness in nature is that I am paying attention to my surroundings and experiencing several senses: sight, smell, touch, and hearing. Watching the way that a blade of grass blows in the wind, feeling wind in your face, hearing the rustle of leaves, watching clouds drift across the sky are all examples of ways that we can pay attention to the details in nature. You can also enjoy these visual cues while looking out your window.picture of woods with trees, wildflowers

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Integrative and Complementary Medicine website offers several Mindfulness practices for you to explore. Click on the link and check out their resources.

Take time during your busy life to check out nature as I did this past weekend. I visited one of my favorite spots in the town where I live. A 90-year-old man has 4 acres of paths and trails through his back yard. You can walk and explore the Hosta plants and wildflowers he has planted over the years. One year he shared with me he planted 3,000 daffodil bulbs!  Imagine all those beautiful flowers!

Share in the comments how you enjoy mindfulness in nature.

Sources:

Dreskin, M., Smith, S. & Kane, D., Kaiser Permanente Clinical Ambassadors. Retrieved from: https://m.kp.org/health-wellness/mental-health/tools-resources/mind-body-wellness/movement-benefits

Powers-Barker, P., 2106. Introduction to Mindfulness. Ohioline Factsheet number HYG-5243. Ohio State University. Retrieved from: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Suttie, J., 2018. Five Ways Mindfulness Meditation is Good for your Health. Retrieved from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_ways_mindfulness_meditation_is_good_for_your_health

Hostas courtesy of Cory’s Wildflower Gardens, Chillicothe, Ohio.

Written by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Stefura.2@osu.edu

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The term Nature Deficit Disorder was coined by author Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods” to describe the phenomena of children and youth becoming disconnected from nature. Adults can certainly suffer from nature deficit disorder, but chances are, most adults spent more time outside as children than our kids do today. Research is linking nature deficit with some disturbing child outcomes, such as increases in obesity, attention disorders and depression as well as diminished use of one’s senses.

Some of the reasons for this disconnect with nature in recent decades include urbanization and disappearing green spaces, spending more time indoors, and increased use of technology and electronic communications. These trends contribute to a devaluing of independent play and what health experts are calling the “epidemic of inactivity.” The time kids spend outdoors is increasingly spent in structured play or organized sports, instead of ‘playing in nature.’ Unstructured play in nature allows for developing problem-solving, creativity and emotional development, according Dr. Stephen Kellert of Yale University. In his book “Building for Life: Designing and Understanding Human-Nature Connection,” Kellert urges community leaders and urban designers to consider green space and creating opportunities for children to have positive interactions with nature on a daily basis.

nature unpluggedWe can reverse this nature deficit disorder for ourselves and our children. Connecting with nature can have physical, mental and social health benefits for adults and children alike. Research results found that spending time in nature can help prevent cancer cell development, strengthen the immune system and aid in stress reduction. The Children and Nature Network is dedicated to connecting children, families and communities to nature through innovative ideas, evidence-based resources, and collaborative efforts. The Children and Nature Network’s Toolkits offer these ideas to get your family connected:

Nature is everywhere. You can find nature by planting seeds in a pot on the front porch or sketching a tree as well as by venturing into a wild preserve.
Be prepared. In order to get the most from your time outdoors, bring along snacks, water, sunscreen, and even a change of clothes in case your kids get wet or cold.
Embrace the elements. Dress for the weather, stomp in a puddle, enjoy a rainy or snowy walk in the park.
Model curiosity. If you see plants or animals or holes or nests you can’t identify, show your curiosity. Kids have a natural sense of wonder and this can lead to some awesome discoveries. You can look things up together when you get home.
Bring friends. Your family can bond in the company of other families; in fact, you might have even more fun!
Create stories. At the end of the day, have each family member talk about their favorite part of the time spent outdoors. These will become part of your family lore. You can revisit those places and support the wonderful connections you’ve built together outdoors in nature.

Make it a goal to spend an hour outside each week, connecting with nature and with others. See this PBS article for more ideas on how to help your kids get plugged into nature. You can also check out your local parks for nature education programs. Richard Louv offers a Resource Guide full of ideas for connecting with nature.

Get outside.   Get connected.   Get into nature.

WRITTEN BY: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

REVIEWED BY: Candace Heer, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County

PHOTO CREDITS:

  • Photo taken and edited by Shannon Carter; original idea for text on picture taken from popular press

SOURCES:

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nature

Eco therapy or the growing field of outdoor practices connects us to the healing benefits of nature. Decrease stress, improve your immune response, lower your blood pressure and make your sleep more peaceful by using these strategies.

Go outside. Researchers in the United States and Japan have determined that simply being in nature helps lower blood pressure. Is it the view? Or the smell of trees? Maybe walking on a trail or looking for signs of spring?
People suffering from stress, illness or a trauma can benefit from spending quiet time in nature to heal. Explore walking in the gardens, hiking in the mountains, or walking trails in the woods. Nature is not only wilderness. The benefits of nature can also be found in our communities’ parks and green spaces. If you enjoy hiking outdoors, great! Researchers have linked lowered blood pressure and improved immune response to exercising outdoors. They found that being physically active outside increases these benefits more than the same activity completed inside or in urban settings.

Once you are outside, move! Regular exercise has been proven to help control depression and reduce stress. Try movements you enjoy, such as biking, walking or gardening. An added bonus includes exercises that focus the mind on the present movement. Dance, yoga and martial arts have all been shown to have excellent stress-relief benefits.

Be mindful.
Spend time each day to ground and center your mind. This helps bring focus and peace to your daily life. How do you do this? Relax and breathe deeply or focus on your breath. Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way, on purpose in the present moment. For example, pay more attention as you’re brushing your teeth, taking a shower or taking a walk outdoors. Zero in on the sight, smell, sound, taste and feel of these activities. Mindfulness is a practice that trains your brain to be more efficient and better integrated with less distractions and improved focus. It reduces stress and helps you become your best self.

Written by: Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, The Ohio State University, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu
Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, The Ohio State University, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Resources: http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/nature-therapy-ecotherapy

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