Green and Environment Articles

5 Ways Autumn Boosts Our Spirits

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Five Ways Autumn Boosts Our SpiritsIn autumn we can succumb to transformation. We can be fickle like the temperatures outside; we can embrace uncertainty and welcome transition, the unknown.

“I think fall evokes feelings of coziness and warmth and is such a multifunctional season,” says Anna Solo, a wellness blogger for freshtheblog.com.

I recently wrote about summer activities that can boost our mental health, and in light of the new season, here are some of autumn’s charms that are good for the soul as well.

Finding the Yin and Yang During the Hot Summer Months

Monday, September 8th, 2014

sunny_summer-1153

It’s been a hot summer. I showed up to my yoga studio the other day, and noticed that the air purifying machine was blinking and beeping, which made me think of my kitchen lights, which just the night before had shorted out. I looked up to see the time and saw that even the clock was running slow. I was about to teach a class on the dangers of “Summer System Overload,” and the electronics were proving my point.

We know, of course, that we have to be careful when it’s hot to avoid dehydration, heatstroke, and sunburn, but extreme heat can also affect us on energetic and emotional levels. From a Taoist perspective, we are in a Yang season, and now is an important time to stay in touch with our inner Yin.

Can Weather Affect Your Mood?

Friday, August 29th, 2014

weather-affect-mood

As most of the nation suffers through some of the hottest temperatures on record this summer, people are asking the question of how exactly does weather impact our mood. For instance, how does hot weather affect our mood? Does it make us more aggressive — or even more violent?

Does rain make us sad? How about cold temperatures… do they make us feel more like wanting to hunker down, hibernate, and isolate ourselves from others?

Let’s revisit how weather affects our mood and impacts our lives.

6 Summer Activities to Boost Your Spirits

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

6 Summer Activities to Boost Your SpiritsCome summer, we may bask under blue skies, gorge on delicious barbecue and frequent the outdoors, acquiring boosts of vitamin D. However, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can occur in the summer months, too.

Here are summery activities that may reignite innocence and enjoyment:

Anxious? Stressed? Depressed? Hire Nature as Your Therapist

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Mysterious path

Stressed out? Let nature calm you down.

For the past ten years I have taken a small group of people into the woods for a seven-day retreat in the fall. Every year, I am amazed at the healing effects of this. By the end of the week, everyone is blissful, at peace and alive in ways they were not when they arrived.

Each year, at least one person experiences a radical, life-changing shift. They have the tools to endure suffering better than they have in the past.

Now Japanese scientific studies prove that “forest bathing” or taking a walk in the woods, can have a profound effect on the immune system and the elimination of stress and anxiety. Yoshifumi Miyazaki, director of the Center for Environment Health and Field Sciences at Chiba University and the head researcher on the project, said, “humans had lived in nature for 5 million years. We were made to fit a natural environment. So we feel stress in an urban area…When we are exposed to nature, our bodies go back to how they should be.” In fact, “forest bathing” is a standard preventative medicine in Japan for those at risk of stress-induced diseases.

Are Antidepressants Enough?

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Are Antidepressants Enough?Zinc, exercise, Vitamin D and potential stress busters top the list of new possibilities to supplement the widespread use of antidepressant medicines. The latest research is welcome because antidepressants only work about half the time, and they often come with unwanted side effects, such as low libido, weight gain, and in some cases (believe it or not) depression.

Water’s Psychological Benefits

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Water's Psychological Benefits“All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea — whether it is to sail or to watch it — we are going back from whence we came.”

- President John F. Kennedy

The ocean shimmered, even at dusk, on that wintry day in Coney Island. It was my first encounter with a beach in several months, and I deeply missed the view.

Living with Extreme Sound Sensitivity

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Living with Extreme Sound SensitivityIf you feel disgusted to the point of rage when you hear the sound of chewing, swallowing, breathing, throat-clearing and other common “people” noises, you’re not alone. You’re also not crazy. Misophonia is a sound sensitivity disorder, which makes certain noises intolerable to the sufferer.

Although this condition is primarily neurological, the experience of these sounds can cause psychological distress. The term misophonia was developed by Pawel and Margaret Jastreboff, American neuroscientists. Literally translated, it means “hatred of sounds.”

Summertime Self-Care: 10 Ways to Nurture Yourself This Season

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Summertime Self-Care: 10 Ways to Nurture Yourself This SeasonThe summertime is all about slowing down, kicking back and unwinding. It’s the season for barbecues, sand between your toes, boat rides, plunges into the pool and other relaxing and rejuvenating adventures.

We asked several therapists and coaches to share their ideas for nurturing ourselves (and having fun) this summer. Here are their self-care suggestions.

1. Plan a vacation or staycation.

“Where you go isn’t as important as taking the time to do something for yourself,” said Natasha Lindor, a coach and founder of The AND Factor, who helps professionals have a successful career while working less and living more.

Aromatherapy: The Good Smells That Can Make You Happier

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Aromatherapy: The Good Smells That Can Make You HappierWe take the power of scent too lightly. To surround self or surroundings with scent, even demurely, has tremendous potential.  

Aromatherapy can play a part in wellness, but its applications go way beyond the massage room at the spa. 

Some new takes on good smells — even some that you may recognize — follow below. And believe it or not, research backs up a lot of these findings.

For instance, dab a solid-gel flower scent (popularly sold by various makers) on your inner wrist. It can remind you of a behavioral habit you want to transform or bring you to a place of peace amid chaos of the coming day.

Help for Highly Sensitive People in Big Cities

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Help for Highly Sensitive People in Big CitiesBeing a highly sensitive person (HSP) can feel overwhelming.

Being an HSP in a big, boisterous city can feel utterly unbearable. That’s because HSPs have a hard time screening out stimuli. Specifically, the problem lies in artificial stimulation, according to Ted Zeff, Ph.D, a psychologist and author of three books on HSPs, including The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide and his newest book Raise an Emotionally Healthy Boy.

All sights, sounds and smells aren’t created equal. Compare a big city’s bright lights, big crowds, honking horns, pollution and bumper-to-bumper traffic with a smaller town’s hiking trails, chirping birds, ocean waves and scents of freshly cut grass.

It’s very hard to function when grating stimuli assault your senses, and you’re in a constant state of overwhelm. One of Zeff’s students told him that at times she felt like she was “walking around with no skin, like a sponge absorbing everything that comes her way.” Over time, this can affect your emotional and physical health, such as spiking your blood pressure, Zeff said.

Our Fear of Silence

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Our Fear of SilenceThe cultivation of mindfulness requires periods of focused attention. Many proponents of mindfulness maintain that this is best developed through seated, silent meditation. So before considering how to focus attention, we must first consider our relationship with silence.

Whether in the center of a city or deep in a forest, the cacophony of sounds around us makes it apparent that true silence is impossible. Composer John Cage wrote music that included long periods of silence. When the musicians stopped playing, concertgoers were quickly confronted with the shuffling, shifting, and coughing sounds in the concert hall.

So what is silence?

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