What Happens When We Reconnect with Nature
Body stress effects all systems of the body including muscles, respiratory, Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress — the body's way of guarding against . experiencing relationship difficulties or abuse, dealing with work problems, etc. The full text of articles from APA Help Center may be reproduced and. Multi-tasking, particularly with electronic devices, is a leading cause of stress. A Natural Environment Helps You Center Your Mind The human brain demands 20 percent of all the energy the body produces, and this requirement increases. When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard being in nature allows the prefrontal cortex, the brain's command center, to “A concrete jungle destroys the human spirit,” former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once said. These measurements—of everything from stress hormones to heart rate to.
This example of behaviorally induced gene expression shows how highly nurtured rats develop into low-anxiety adults, who in turn become nurturing mothers with reduced stress responses. In contrast to highly nurtured rats, pups separated from their mothers for several hours per day during early life have a highly active hypothalamic-pituitary adrenocortical axis and elevated SNS arousal Ladd et al.
These deprived rats tend to show larger and more frequent stress responses to the environment than do less deprived animals. Because evolution has provided mammals with reasonably effective homeostatic mechanisms e. However, if the threat is persistent, particularly in older or unhealthy individuals, the long-term effects of the response to stress may damage health Schneiderman Adverse effects of chronic stressors are particularly common in humans, possibly because their high capacity for symbolic thought may elicit persistent stress responses to a broad range of adverse living and working conditions.
The relationship between psychosocial stressors and chronic disease is complex. In this review, we focus on some of the psychological, behavioral, and biological effects of specific stressors, the mediating psychophysiological pathways, and the variables known to mediate these relationships.
We conclude with a consideration of treatment implications. Childhood abuse is also associated with negative views toward learning and poor school performance Lowenthal Children of divorced parents have more reported antisocial behavior, anxiety, and depression than their peers Short Adult offspring of divorced parents report more current life stress, family conflict, and lack of friend support compared with those whose parents did not divorce Short Studies have also addressed the psychological consequences of exposure to war and terrorism during childhood Shaw A majority of children exposed to war experience significant psychological morbidity, including both post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD and depressive symptoms.
For example, Nader et al. Some effects are long lasting: Exposure to intense and chronic stressors during the developmental years has long-lasting neurobiological effects and puts one at increased risk for anxiety and mood disorders, aggressive dyscontrol problems, hypo-immune dysfunction, medical morbidity, structural changes in the CNS, and early death Shaw Furthermore, there is evidence that stressful life events are causal for the onset of depression see HammenKendler et al.
A study of 13, patients in Denmark, with first psychiatric admissions diagnosed with depression, found more recent divorces, unemployment, and suicides by relatives compared with age- and gender-matched controls Kessing et al.
The diagnosis of a major medical illness often has been considered a severe life stressor and often is accompanied by high rates of depression Cassem In fact, in prospective studies, patients with anxiety are most likely to develop major depression after stressful life events occur Brown et al.
Both these disorders have as prominent features a traumatic event involving actual or threatened death or serious injury and symptom clusters including re-experiencing of the traumatic event e. The time frame for ASD is shorter lasting two days to four weekswith diagnosis limited to within one month of the incident. Surveys of the general population indicate that PTSD affects 1 in 12 adults at some time in their life Kessler et al.
Trauma and disasters are related not only to PTSD, but also to concurrent depression, other anxiety disorders, cognitive impairment, and substance abuse David et al. Other consequences of stress that could provide linkages to health have been identified, such as increases in smoking, substance use, accidents, sleep problems, and eating disorders. Populations that live in more stressful environments communities with higher divorce rates, business failures, natural disasters, etc. A longitudinal study following seamen in a naval training center found that more cigarette smoking occurred on high-stress days Conway et al.
Life events stress and chronically stressful conditions have also been linked to higher consumption of alcohol Linsky et al. In addition, the possibility that alcohol may be used as self-medication for stress-related disorders such as anxiety has been proposed.
For example, a prospective community study of adolescents and young adults Zimmerman et al. Another variable related to stress that could provide a link to health is the increased sleep problems that have been reported after sychological trauma Harvey et al. New onset of sleep problems mediated the relationship between post-traumatic stress symptoms and decreased natural killer NK cell cytotoxicity in Hurricane Andrew victims Ironson et al. Variations in Stress Responses Certain characteristics of a situation are associated with greater stress responses.
These include the intensity or severity of the stressor and controllability of the stressor, as well as features that determine the nature of the cognitive responses or appraisals.
Life event dimensions of loss, humiliation, and danger are related to the development of major depression and generalized anxiety Kendler et al.
Factors associated with the development of symptoms of PTSD and mental health disorders include injury, damage to property, loss of resources, bereavement, and perceived life threat Freedy et al. Recovery from a stressor can also be affected by secondary traumatization Pfefferbaum et al. Other studies have found that multiple facets of stress that may work synergistically are more potent than a single facet; for example, in the area of work stress, time pressure in combination with threat Stanton et al.
Stress-related outcomes also vary according to personal and environmental factors. Personal risk factors for the development of depression, anxiety, or PTSD after a serious life event, disaster, or trauma include prior psychiatric history, neuroticism, female gender, and other sociodemographic variables GreenMcNallyPatton et al.
There is also some evidence that the relationship between personality and environmental adversity may be bidirectional Kendler et al. Attaching meaning to the event is another protective factor against the development of PTSD, even when horrific torture has occurred.
Finally, human beings are resilient and in general are able to cope with adverse situations. A recent illustration is provided by a study of a nationally representative sample of Israelis after 19 months of ongoing exposure to the Palestinian intifada.
Despite considerable distress, most Israelis reported adapting to the situation without substantial mental health symptoms or impairment Bleich et al.
These changes constitute the stress response and are generally adaptive, at least in the short term Selye Two features in particular make the stress response adaptive. Second, a new pattern of energy distribution emerges. Energy is diverted to the tissues that become more active during stress, primarily the skeletal muscles and the brain.
Less critical activities are suspended, such as digestion and the production of growth and gonadal hormones. Simply put, during times of acute crisis, eating, growth, and sexual activity may be a detriment to physical integrity and even survival.
Stress hormones are produced by the SNS and hypothalamic-pituitary adrenocortical axis. The SNS stimulates the adrenal medulla to produce catecholamines e.
In parallel, the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus produces corticotropin releasing factor, which in turn stimulates the pituitary to produce adrenocorticotropin. Adrenocorticotropin then stimulates the adrenal cortex to secrete cortisol. Together, catecholamines and cortisol increase available sources of energy by promoting lipolysis and the conversion of glycogen into glucose i.
Lipolysis is the process of breaking down fats into usable sources of energy i. Energy is then distributed to the organs that need it most by increasing blood pressure levels and contracting certain blood vessels while dilating others. Blood pressure is increased with one of two hemodynamic mechanisms Llabre et al.
The myocardial mechanism increases blood pressure through enhanced cardiac output; that is, increases in heart rate and stroke volume i. The vascular mechanism constricts the vasculature, thereby increasing blood pressure much like constricting a hose increases water pressure. Specific stressors tend to elicit either myocardial or vascular responses, providing evidence of situational stereotypy Saab et al.
Laboratory stressors that call for active coping strategies, such as giving a speech or performing mental arithmetic, require the participant to do something and are associated with myocardial responses. From an evolutionary perspective, cardiac responses are believed to facilitate active coping by shunting blood to skeletal muscles, consistent with the fight-or-flight response. In situations where decisive action would not be appropriate, but instead skeletal muscle inhibition and vigilance are called for, a vascular hemodynamic response is adaptive.
The vascular response shunts blood away from the periphery to the internal organs, thereby minimizing potential bleeding in the case of physical assault. Finally, in addition to the increased availability and redistribution of energy, the acute stress response includes activation of the immune system.
Cells of the innate immune system e. From there, the immune cells migrate into tissues that are most likely to suffer damage during physical confrontation e. Chronic Stress Responses The acute stress response can become maladaptive if it is repeatedly or continuously activated Selye For example, chronic SNS stimulation of the cardiovascular system due to stress leads to sustained increases in blood pressure and vascular hypertrophy Henry et al.
The Human–Nature Relationship and Its Impact on Health: A Critical Review
That is, the muscles that constrict the vasculature thicken, producing elevated resting blood pressure and response stereotypy, or a tendency to respond to all types of stressors with a vascular response. Chronically elevated blood pressure forces the heart to work harder, which leads to hypertrophy of the left ventricle Brownley et al.
Over time, the chronically elevated and rapidly shifting levels of blood pressure can lead to damaged arteries and plaque formation. The elevated basal levels of stress hormones associated with chronic stress also suppress immunity by directly affecting cytokine profiles. Cytokines are communicatory molecules produced primarily by immune cells see Roitt et al.
There are three classes of cytokines.
11 Scientific Reasons Why Being in Nature is Relaxing
Proinflammatory cytokines mediate acute inflammatory reactions. Th1 cytokines mediate cellular immunity by stimulating natural killer cells and cytotoxic T cells, immune cells that target intracellular pathogens e. A Th2 shift has the effect of suppressing cellular immunity in favor of humoral immunity.
In response to more chronic stressors e. Intermediate and chronic stressors are associated with slower wound healing and recovery from surgery, poorer antibody responses to vaccination, and antiviral deficits that are believed to contribute to increased vulnerability to viral infections e.Digestion and Stress - The Cause of GERD, Indigestion and Heart Burn
Chronic stress is particularly problematic for elderly people in light of immunosenescence, the gradual loss of immune function associated with aging. Older adults are less able to produce antibody responses to vaccinations or combat viral infections Ferguson et al.
Although research has yet to link poor vaccination responses to early mortality, influenza and other infectious illnesses are a major cause of mortality in the elderly, even among those who have received vaccinations e.
The underlying mediators, however, are unclear in most cases, although possible mechanisms have been explored in some experimental studies.
We may have preferences to be in beautiful, natural spaces because they are resource-rich environments—ones that provide optimal food, shelter, and comfort. These evolutionary needs may explain why children are drawn to natural environments and why we prefer nature to be part of our architecture. Now, a large body of research is documenting the positive impacts of nature on human flourishing—our social, psychological, and emotional life. Over studies have shown that being in nature, living near nature, or even viewing nature in paintings and videos can have positive impacts on our brains, bodies, feelings, thought processes, and social interactions.
In particular, viewing nature seems to be inherently rewarding, producing a cascade of position emotions and calming our nervous systems.
STRESS AND HEALTH: Psychological, Behavioral, and Biological Determinants
These in turn help us to cultivate greater openness, creativity, connection, generosity, and resilience. But what does the science say? Several studies have looked at how viewing awe-inspiring nature imagery in photos and videos impacts emotions and behavior.
For example, in one study participants either viewed a few minutes of the inspiring documentary Planet Earth, a neutral video from a news program, or funny footage from Walk on the Wild Side. Watching a few minutes of Planet Earth led people to feel 46 percent more awe and 31 percent more gratitude than those in the other groups.
This study and others like it tell us that even brief nature videos are a powerful way to feel awewonder, gratitudeand reverence—all positive emotions known to lead to increased well-being and physical health.
- How to manage and reduce stress
- STRESS AND HEALTH: Psychological, Behavioral, and Biological Determinants
Positive emotions have beneficial effects upon social processes, too—like increasing trust, cooperation, and closeness with others. Since viewing nature appears to trigger positive emotions, it follows that nature likely has favorable effects on our social well-being. This has been robustly confirmed in research on the benefits of living near green spaces. DMN is a complex circuit of coordinated communication between parts of the brain and is essential to mental processes that develop our understanding of human behavior, instill an internal code of ethics, and help us realize our identities.
It Lowers Stress Hormone Levels A recent Dutch study suggests that spending time in nature and performing repetitive tasks such as gardening can fight stress better than other leisure activities. In the study, one group of people was asked to read indoors after completing a stressful task while the other group was instructed to garden for 30 minutes.
The gardeners not only reported being in a better mood than the readers, but also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Fresh Air Improves Blood Pressure In polluted or indoor environments, the body has to work harder to get the oxygen it needs to function.
This raises your heart rate and blood pressure. Breathing is Your Body's Built-In Stress Buster Research shows that breathing techniques have the ability to dampen the production of stress hormones as well as train your body's reaction to stressful situations. Rapid breathing engages your body's sympathetic nervous system or, your "fight or flight" responsewhich is activated by stress and works to energize the body.
Slow, deep breathing—the kind encouraged by the great outdoors—stimulates the body's parasympathetic reaction, which calms us down.