Tag Archives: get outside

Sunlight Helps Fight Depression

Image from SmithDebnamLaw.com.

I’ve written about this before: exposure to sunlight can help fight depression. Coupled with mild to moderate exercise, being out in the daylight can help fight carbohydrate cravings, weight gain, social avoidance, even fatigue!

A 2014 study of office workers compared the mental health of those who had windows in their office, and those who didn’t. The workers with access to more natural light during the day reported more positive changes than those who didn’t.

“There is increasing evidence that exposure to light, during the day — particularly in the morning — is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness, and metabolism,” said Phyllis Zee, M.D., a Northwestern Medicine neurologist and sleep specialist who worked on the study.

Think about this for a minute: by going out into the morning sunlight, you can improve your mood, boost your productivity and concentration, and even help you metabolize more effectively. More exposure to light during the day (and less exposure to light at night) helps your body and mind fall into a natural circadian rhythm (another name for your internal clock, according to the National Sleep Foundation).

So what do you do when sunlight is scarce?

Plan daily walks outside. Remember, as little as eight minutes a day of vigorous exercise can positively affect the rest of your work day. If you go outside during your lunch break, you have the greatest chance of enjoying some good, strong daylight.

Get your vitamin D. A good vitamin D3 supplement is an inexpensive alternative to sunshine. You can also eat foods rich in vitamin D, such as egg yolks, fatty fish (such as salmon or tuna), milk and cheese.

Therapy and medication. If you find it difficult to manage your depression no matter the season, please contact me. In addition to traditional therapy, I also offer one on one “Talk and Walk” sessions on the Greenbelt. Let me help you start off 2019 with better mental and physical health.

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. If you would like to discuss the information in this blog further with her, please call 208-918-0958. She sees adolescents and adults. Information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider about decisions regarding your health.

Adding greenery to vacant lots is good for neighborhood’s mental health

from phsonline.org

The City of Philadelphia has been planting grass and trees in vacant lots, and the results are extraordinary.

A research team measured depression symptoms 18 months before the “greening” and 18 months after and found a 41.5 percent drop for the people living within a quarter mile of a new green space. For people living below the poverty  line, symptoms decreased an incredible 68 percent. There was no change for people whose nearby vacant lots received no intervention.

Here’s what the study’s lead author said:

“Dilapidated and vacant spaces are factors that put residents at an increased risk of depression and stress, and may explain why socioeconomic disparities in mental illness persist. What these new data show us is that making structural changes, like greening lots, has a positive impact on the health of those living in these neighborhoods. And that it can be achieved in a cost-effective and scalable way – not only in Philadelphia but in other cities with the same harmful environmental surroundings.”

The city says the lots cost between $1,000 to $1,300 to “clean and green” and $150 a year to maintain. Gun violence also dropped 29 percent near the green spaces.

We’ve said it before: Nature is so good for mental health. I love that Philadelphia is doing this simple thing for their citizens and that they’re seeing such amazing results. I hope the idea will take root and spread!

Read more about the study here and more about the greening program here.

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. If you would like to discuss the information in this blog further with her, please call 208-918-0958. She sees adolescents and adults. Information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider about decisions regarding your health.

“Forest bathing” for your health

There’s a video going around social media about the Japanese practice of “forest bathing,” and it’s a concept I believe in and love.

What is Japanese “forest bathing” and how can it improve your …

Need a boost? This is the power of a walk among the trees. Read more: http://wef.ch/2nWtXUR

Posted by World Economic Forum on Tuesday, April 4, 2017

 

The Japanese phrase for “forest bathing” — or taking in the forest atmosphere — is “shinrin-yoku,” and the government has been promoting it since the 1980s.

Japanese researchers have spent a lot of time studying the effects of shinrin-yoku. They’ve found that time spent in forest environments reduces feelings of stress, anxiety, and anger and improves energy. On the physiological front, it promotes lower levels of stress hormone, lower pulse, and lower blood pressure. Researchers have even found that forest bathing increases the activity of “natural killer” cells in the immune system. These cells respond to viruses and tumors. The scientists attribute the change to phytoncides, or the oils trees emit to protect themselves from germs and insects. As forest bathers inhale them, they’re inhaling better immune system health.

The concept behind forest bathing is one of the reasons I offer walking therapy sessions on the Boise greenbelt. Getting out in nature is good for the soul, and there’s science to prove it.

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults. Information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider about decisions regarding your health.

 

Exercising to treat depression: It’s more than just endorphins

We’ve known for a while now that exercise produces endorphins — the brain messengers in charge of pain and pleasure. But a recent study brings some new players into the exercise/brain health relationship: GABA and glutamate, messengers that fight anxiety and depression.

Researchers found that as little as eight minutes of vigorous exercise produced heightened levels of these important neurotransmitters. The effects were especially significant immediately following the activity, but the benefit lingered even during rest for people who exercised regularly.

Glutamate and GABA levels tend to be low in people suffering from Major Depressive Disorder, so the boost that comes from exercise could be a game changer for some.

This study dealt specifically with vigorous exercise, but the researchers plan on looking at moderate exercise in the future. In the meantime, other studies have shown that moderate exercise, like walking or gardening, is effective at treating and preventing depression. Outside exercise is especially effective.

With the sun starting to shine more and more here in Boise, now is a good time to get outside and get your heart pumping! If you want to tackle several mental health benefits at once, consider signing up for a Talk and Walk session with me. My office is right by the Boise greenbelt, so we can be out in nature, get those neurotransmitters working, and talk about your problems all at the same time. It’s one of my favorite things.

Read more about the study here.

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.