Green and Environment Articles

Why Hurricane Sandy Made Me Think of Winston Churchill

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Why Hurricane Sandy Made Me Think of Winston ChurchillI live in New York City, and the destruction in this region wrought by Hurricane Sandy is devastating.

So many people’s homes and  neighborhoods and entire towns were destroyed, and many more people can’t get basic necessities. It’s overwhelming to think about the amount of work that needs to be done to put things right–and to guard against this kind of disaster in the future.

I’m awed by people’s resiliency in the face of such circumstances. Watching the news the other night reminded me of one of my favorite passages in all literature, from Winston Churchill’s history of the Second World War, Their Finest Hour, about the events of 1940.

Preparing for Hurricane Sandy Emotionally, Psychologically

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Preparing for Hurricane Sandy Emotionally, PsychologicallyWhile most people who are likely to bear the brunt of Hurricane Sandy have already bought all of their bottled water and batteries, you can’t purchase peace of mind at Walmart (well, maybe you can, I haven’t checked lately).

So what can you do to prepare yourself for Hurricane Sandy from an emotional and psychological standpoint? How can you ensure you keep your calm and wits about you — especially if others are depending on you?

Here are some tips from our past combined articles on coping (mostly) emotionally and psychologically with a hurricane.

More Coping Tips for Highly Sensitive People

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

More Coping Tips for Highly Sensitive PeopleI recently wrote about 10 tips for highly sensitive people. As a highly sensitive person (HSP) myself, it’s great to learn about all the different things I can do when I find myself in a noisy, overstimulating environment.

An important part of coping effectively as an HSP is knowing how to soothe your senses. HSPs aren’t just sensitive to loud sounds; we also might be sensitive to bright lights, TV and computer screens, strong odors and certain foods (and their temperature).

For the article I spoke to Ted Zeff, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and author of The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide. Zeff includes a helpful chapter in his book on what you can do to calm each of your five senses.

Here are some of those valuable tips.

4 Tips on Cultivating Mindfulness When You Live in a Busy, Bustling City

Monday, October 31st, 2011

4 Tips on Cultivating Mindfulness When You Live in a Busy, Bustling CityI don’t live in a big city. (In fact, the only noises I typically hear are birds chirping or cats in heat. Don’t ask.) But I’ve lived in NYC and have been visiting my family there several times a year for over a decade. So I have a fairly good grasp of what it’s like to be surrounded by a cacophony of car horns and ambulance sirens, a flurry of feet pounding the pavement, and hours (many hours) of traffic. Though it has many perks, city life is rarely peaceful or serene.

That’s why I really like the book Urban Mindfulness: Cultivating Peace, Presence & Purpose in the Middle of It All by Jonathan S. Kaplan, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and founder of UrbanMindfulness.org. In it, he addresses specific problems that plague city dwellers and gives readers a variety of strategies to feel more calm and fulfilled. (He lives in NYC, so I think he knows what he’s talking about.)

He breaks his book down into exercises you can do “At Home,” “At Play,” “At Work,” “Out and About” and “Anytime, Anywhere.”

Negawatts: The Positive Psychology Behind Negative Energy

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Negawatts: The Positive Psychology Behind Negative EnergyAlmost every way we make electricity today, except for the emerging renewables and nuclear puts out CO2. And so, what we’re going to have to do at a global scale, is create a new system. And so, we need energy miracles.
~Bill Gates

A typographical error led Amory Lovins to coin the phrase negawatts. In a brilliant 1989 keynote address to the Green Energy Conference in Montreal he outlined what has become the blueprint for a radical business and energy concept.

Pay people to do nothing.

Twenty-plus years later the idea is deeply taking hold.

Design Psychology: Beyond Pretty Properties and Nice Knickknacks

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Design Psychology: Beyond Pretty Properties and Nice KnickknacksDesign psychology goes beyond aesthetics, and beyond art and decor books to find something more — it seeks to uncover your very emotions and thoughts about settings. Design psychology seeks to connect you to the types of places, spaces and items that evoke the most pleasant memories.

Design psychology is about discovering your personal style and finding a place that truly fulfills you and feels like home.

Here’s an excerpt from a Los Angeles Times article on how design psychology works…

3 Ways to Boost Your Mood Naturally

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

3 Ways to Boost Your Mood Naturally Imagine yourself outside. The sky is bright blue, the sun is sparkling and the air feels crisp and cool.

Maybe you’re walking along the beach, feeling the warm sand on your bare feet. Perhaps you’re riding your bike in a park, surrounded by hundred-year-old trees and singing birds. Or maybe you’re pinching the dirt as you dig through the backyard to plant a few flowers.

Being outdoors at a park, the beach or even just a few feet from our doorsteps can feel both relaxing and invigorating.

In fact, research has shown that participating in physical activity in the great outdoors can do a world of good for your psyche.

Treating Depression and Folate Deficiency With Medical Foods

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Midweek Mental Greening

First and foremost, I should offer a disclaimer for this post:

The scientific media briefing I watched this morning, “Feeding the Brain to Help Manage Depression: The Role of Medical Foods,” was presented by Rakesh Jain, M.D., M.P.H., the Director of Psychiatric Drug Research at R/D Clinical Research Center in Lake Jackson, TX and Teodoro Bottiglieri, Ph.D. of the Baylor Institute of Metabolic Disease, and sponsored by Pamlab, a pharmaceutical company specializing in prescription medical foods. Neither PsychCentral.com nor myself is affiliated with Pamlab or Deplin, the new medical food discussed during the briefing.

Now that that’s out of the way, on to the more interesting stuff.

“Can we feed the brain to regulate mood disorders?”

If you had no experience with or knowledge of medical foods (meant for nutritional or dietary management of specific diseases), you might’ve thought Jain and Bottiglieri were referring to feeding the brain – and our bodies – with actual food when you heard that question.

Instead, the men were referring to medical foods – more specifically, a new product called Deplin, a medical food that includes L-methylfolate, the only active form of folate that can cross the blood brain barrier and help with the synthesis of the neurotransmitters associated with mood and, consequently, mood disorders such as depression: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

Research shows that people with depression and low folate levels are less likely to respond to treatments such as antidepressants and less likely to achieve remission.

(Unfortunately, a smorgasbord of factors can contribute to low folate levels – genetics, age, lifestyle choices like poor diets and smoking, certain medications like anticonvulsants, oral contraceptives, and lithium, and certain illnesses like Crohn’s disease, hypothyroidism, and diabetes, just to name a few.)

Well, that makes sense, right? I mean, if you need folate to help synthesize the neurotransmitters, and you don’t have enough folate, the neurotransmitters won’t be properly synthesized and your depression – even with the assistance of antidepressants – probably won’t get better. Or, at least, the chances of you getting better – and staying better for longer periods of time – will be decreased.

What didn’t make sense to me during most of the briefing was why folic acid and natural forms of folate (the kind you can get from green vegetables, for example) wouldn’t work just as well?

In other words, why do we need yet another pill?

How can you blame me? This column is called “Midweek Mental Greening,” after all.

Emotions and Sensitivity: An Interview with Michael Jawer

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

Michael JawerToday I have the pleasure of interviewing Michael Jawer, coauthor of “The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion,” which …

The Type C Personality: Are You Susceptible to Illness?

Monday, October 5th, 2009

The Type C Personality: Are You Susceptible to Illness?Are you more susceptible to illness than other people? Do you …

Palo Alto VA Gets New “Green” Mental Health Center

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Midweek Mental Greening

It’s not scheduled to be complete until 2011, but exciting construction started earlier this month on what sounds like will be an impressive – and green – new mental health center for the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.

The new mental health center is the first of several reconstruction projects that will take place over the next five years within the Palo Alto VA, and according to Palo Alto Online, the new mental health center will:

  • Use natural lighting, landscaping, and other therapeutic design elements to promote a healing environment.
  • Use a single-story structure to offer patients easy access to outdoor spaces.
  • Provide landscaped views from patients’ bedroom windows.

“This groundbreaking is groundbreaking in terms of what is going to be built here,” U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo said. “When they enter the doors, everything there will be about healing them.”

The Tragedy of the Commons

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

The Tragedy of the CommonsThe tragedy of the commons is a term coined by …

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