Why do we do what we do?

Caring takes some heart and for most environmentalists  what we do comes from a place of love. It should be no surprise to most of us, given that nearly every hit song everywhere suggests it, love isn’t always the easiest emotion to deal with. Sometimes love hurts!

Passionate environmentalists across the globe will be nodding along to (kermit the frogs) notion that:

It isn’t easy being green.

Which is why this post is dedicated to all those out there who feel a little blue from being green. Take some time out right now with these soul satisfying tips that will help keep you on your eco A game.

Get Outside

Anyone who has stepped outside after a long day in the office or at work can likely relate to that ‘ahhhh’ feeling that washes over you when you look up at the sky. Researchers across the globe have been interested in what it is that makes us feel so good when we step outdoors. Three researchers from three different institutions joined forces to review 57 papers that c combined the topics of “nature”, “interaction”, “benefit”, “health” and “biodiversity”.

Their results found there is good evidence to suggest that natural settings can have multiple beneficial effects on the way we feel. Through their literature review it was concluded that body of evidence showing that there mental health benefits, stress reduction and physical benefits to getting out in nature, there haven’t been as many studies looking at the social, spiritual and tangible benefits.

One of the key areas that drew me into this literature review was the findings on sustainability and integration with nature. The reviewers noted that

exploitation of natural resources has resulted in the loss and degradation of species and ecosystems worldwide.

The highlighted the importance of understanding the our human connection with nature as a driver for setting sustainability agendas and developing and implementing conversation goals. Suggesting that

positive interactions with nature might be important for influencing an individual’s sympathy for conservation goals

 

What you can take from this paper is that getting outside with nature is not only good for you on a physical and mental level. But it can also be good for sustainability as a whole, because being in the nature you hope to save may increase and/or renew your passion to be a catalyst for change.

Unfortunately the papers reviewed were mostly derived from researching developed nations and more affluent study participants so the results can’t be considered global due to the cultural bias.

The article mention is one of the rare academic papers that is free to view online. Check it out here. 

Appreciate plants.

The impact of greenery on our health and wellbeing has been well documented in scientific papers. Indoor greenery has been shown to improve psychophysiological stress, task performance, and symptoms of ill health in both quasi-experimental and lab experiments conducted on office workplace environments. While sustainability-wise the push is to grow plants for food purposes, ornamental plants can do your body a service by soothing your soul and increasing your happiness levels. A study on office workplaces has shown that employees with ornamental plants and views to the outside world were significantly happier their employment.

In fact, one study on office workers and their potted plants suggested that health and wellbeing can improve in offices with greenery with a decrease in coughing and fatigue, and a decrease in dry throats and facial itching. There have even been studies that have identified and listed plants based on their air cleaning capacity, something that is definitely worth checking out if you want to detox your home or office space! Whether you believe potted plants will make you cough less or think this is all a load of scientific quackery, there is no denying the fact that most spaces look better with a little bit of greenery.

Can’t fight the moonlight!

LeAnn Rimes sang all about it as she danced on the bar tops of Coyote Ugly and if you have ever spent some time tracking your feelings (or chatted to emergency crews) you will probably agree that the moon has some sway over how we feel. Understandably there have been quite a few researchers over the years try to quantify the effects of the moon with varying results and reception. The hard part about moon studies is that there are huge variables! Unlike administering a drug, the moon is large, everyone is under it and it can be hard to control the study.

One area that’s gained some traction with the moon naysayers is the area of sleep study (mostly because researchers can control the amount of moon time people are exposed to in lab studies and have something directly measurable- sleep- to report on).

A study into sleep reported in Current Biology showed that full moons did in fact have an impact on how rested participants were.

Full moons can make your sleep more restless!

With this small example of the effects the moon can have on the human body why not incorporate a bit of ‘moon gazing’ into your schedule.

The best way to immerse yourself is to stand outside barefoot and gaze at the moon in the sky.

If it’s cold, you can’t get outside, or had being out at night you can watch the moon with shoes on, with friends, on a balcony or through the window. It’s said that a practice like this can help reset your circadian rhythms (which can be put out of balance by artificial lighting or shift work).