Today is Healthcare Aide Day, regional holiday for B.C. and Manitoba. We want to help raise awareness and lessen the stigma of mental illness.
We would like to share a study from Parks Canada about nature's roll in not only mental health, but our overall health. While living in increasingly urban environments, it's more difficult for us to spend time in nature, which can have negative effects on our health. It could be part of the solution, especially in Ontario, where we have easy access to beautiful parks and other green spaces. Could spending time in nature really help mental illnesses?
First off, we all know how important sunlight is on our health. There are some major potential health risks associated with lack of sunlight.
- Deficiencies of Vitamin D can cause an increased risk for developing dementia and schizophrenia
- Can trigger development of breast and prostate cancer
- Especially around winter months, it is more likely we are to develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (symptoms include: depression, mood swings, anxiety, suicidal thoughts). Studies also show, its not always about how much sunlight you get, but when you get it. It is shown that the morning is the most effective at countering this disorder.
- Women are shown to be affected more frequently than men by Seasonal Affective Disorder, especially between the ages of 20 and 40
There are a ton of reasons why sunlight is important for the well being of humans, but what role does nature play in our health? If you think about it, how do you feel when you're alone in nature? when there are no distractions around you? Most people would reply with calm, relaxed, mindful, anxiety-free and can even be therapeutic.
According to Ontario Parks, "Research shows a link between exposure to nature and stress reduction. Stress is relieved within minutes of exposure to nature as measured by muscle tension, blood pressure, and brain activity. Time in green spaces significantly reduces your cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Nature also boosts endorphin levels and dopamine production, which promotes happiness. Contact with nature has restorative properties, increasing energy and improving feelings of vitality and focus. Being nearby to nature has also been shown to reduce symptoms of ADHD"
Bottom line - getting outside is the easiest thing you can do to improve your overall wellness! And we couldn't agree more.
To be part of the study, you can read more and take a survey here: http://tiny.cc/hvgbez
Sarah McMichael (2019), Mental health benefits of the outdoors, Retrieved from: https://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/mental-health-benefits-outdoors/
Team SunSprite (2014) 9 Ways a Lack of Sun is Killing You, Retrieved from: https://www.sunsprite.com/blog/9-ways-a-lack-of-sun-is-killing-you/