KEEP CALM & EARTH
KEEP CALM & EARTH

In celebration of Earth Day, we shine the spotlight on Mother Nature this month. Upon reflection, I began to truly appreciate the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s foresight. As ambitious as his plans were to transform Singapore from a third world to first world nation within one generation, he was also resolute about making greenery an integral part of the country’s infrastructure. In the initial phase, his “garden city” vision was implemented in the form of an intensive tree-planting program (which happens to be the 2016 Earth Day theme – Trees for the Earth!). Following its success, other initiatives like the creation of parks and green corridors, as well as the preservation of nature reserves have all had a profound effect on Singapore’s landscape.

Mr. Lee said, “I have always believed that a blighted urban landscape, a concrete jungle destroys the human spirit. We need the greenery of nature to lift our spirits.” It would seem that his view is not just some fluffy notion as various studies have found that urbanites with little access to green spaces suffer a higher incidence of mental health conditions than people living near parks. Research has also shown that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress than those who predominantly stay indoors.

To understand the relationship between nature and mood, researchers in California used fMRI scans to show that exposure to nature resulted in heightened activity of opioid receptors in the brains of study participants. Activation of these receptors lead to dopamine production. This neurotransmitter helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, and a dopamine surge leads to feelings of wellness. The activation of opioid receptors also blocks pain, and people tend to perceive themselves as feeling more positive and less stressed.

Exposure to nature not only improves your mental and emotional health, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension. So even if you did not consider yourself a typical tree-hugger, there are many ways to embrace Mother Earth and tap into the healing power of nature.

Plant a Tree

Trees will be the first of five major goals the Earth Day Network is undertaking in honor of the five-year countdown to their 50th anniversary. This initiative will make a significant impact on the Earth as trees help combat climate change by absorbing excess and harmful CO² from our atmosphere. Trees also improve air quality by absorbing odors and pollutant gases, and filtering particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. If you do not have access to your own private garden, you can participate in the Garden City Fund Plant-A-Tree Programme.

Practice Grounding/Earthing

Through daily activities and exposure to toxins, positively charged particles in the form of free radicals can build up in our bodies. It is believed that by coming into contact with the earth, we can balance out the free radicals as the earth has a negative grounding charge. According to emerging research, benefits of grounding/earthing includes reduction in pain and inflammation, and improved energy and sleep. Regular practice was also shown to reduce stress, and promote serenity and peace. While there are devices to create the same response indoors, the inexpensive and easiest way is to spend some time barefoot outdoors every day.

Bring Nature Indoors

If you are strapped for time and can’t get outdoors regularly, fret not. Research done in hospitals, offices and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a positive impact on stress and anxiety. To bring the green in, consider cultivating an interest in calming art forms like Bonsai or Ikebana. Alternatively, for those who are new to gardening, a terrarium may be a great place to start. Level up by getting indoor plants like the Peace Lily that improves indoor air quality by filtering out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Look out for a whole host of Earth-Friendly activities right here at Balanced Living and The Living Café this month, including our Earth Day event on 22 April as we celebrate the wonders of the natural world with stories, mindful meditation and an inspirational documentary.

 

tiffany-wee_profile-picture_nov-2016-2Tiffany Wee

Naturopath, Nutritionist, Herbalist, Mindful Eating, Reiki

Born in Singapore and trained in Australia, Tiffany has consulted in world-renowned health establishments like Chiva Som, ESPA and Balanced Living. She is recognised by her clients for her warmth, efficiency and expertise in helping them achieve their individual health potential. Tiffany is also the first in Asia to offer UCSD’s Mindful Eating course.

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