Socially distancing = loneliness, isolation, illness, and despair.

Social Distancing? No Way! Physical Distancing is the way! by Nichole Finger (Lake Norman Family Therapy)

The very last thing we need right now is to socially distance. Humans are by nature social creatures, living in social groups and working together as far back in human history as we can trace. We need support. We need to stay active and engaged. We need to remember we’re in this together. And we need to remember that social isolation is a huge contributor to mental and physical health problems of all kinds.

So let’s start a movement. If you hear people talking about socially distancing, remind them of the difference. Physically distancing = protecting our health and our community. Socially distancing = loneliness, isolation, illness, and despair.

Another one in case you are not convinced. Although there’s been no time to study the effects of social distancing related specifically to the coronavirus, we know a great deal about the impact of social isolation on mental and physical health. It’s often experienced as highly stressful, and the stress can become toxic. Isolation, particularly…

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Kids, Summer, Playing, Water Squirter

The Importance of Doing Nothing

The Importance of Doing Nothing by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries (INSEAD Knowledge)

In today’s networked society we are at risk of becoming victims of information overload. Introspection and reflection have become lost arts as the temptation to ‘just finish this’ or ‘find out that’ is often too great to resist. But working harder is not necessarily working smarter. In fact slacking off and setting aside regular periods of ‘doing nothing’ may be the best thing we can do to induce states of mind that nurture our imagination and improve our mental health.

Our lives have become defined by busyness. Look around you at the train station, in cafes, out on the street, people are glued to their mobile handset or tablet.

I recently asked an executive I once coached how many emails she received a day. “Five hundred,” she told me. “But I don’t read any of them. If I did, I wouldn’t be doing my job.”

The challenge, she said wasn’t attaining information but “pushing it away so I don’t suffer from information overload. I need time to think.”

When I was a child growing up in the West Indies, saying the phrase “I am bored" was often met with “Go outside and play with your brothers” from my mother. Of course, I did what Mom said, and my brothers and together, we got into all sort of mischief. Climbing trees, running around the…

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Men are "nothing more than a walking paycheck".

What's the Problem with Masculinity? - (Pocket)

Again, for most of civilization, young men were the ones responsible for protecting society. By the time they were adults, they needed to be battle-hardened and physically strong — the survival of the community often depended on it. As a result, brutal, physical violence among men (through organized sport) was celebrated (and still is today, although this is beginning to change). And men who weren’t able to make the cut were shamed for their physical weakness, for their emotional displays and vulnerable demands for affection. Men were meant to be ruthlessly competitive, and emotionlessly self-contained.

And this was the hidden cost for their physical, and later political dominance, in human society — as men, we are taught from a young age to hide from our emotions rather than to engage them.8

Well, this may not surprise you, but repressing emotions fucks people up. And shaming people for weakness and vulnerability can result in all sorts of mental health problems, not to mention encourage them to lash out in anti-social ways (i.e., shoot up a school, or ram a car into a crowd of people, sign up to be a militant in some crazy religious organization — sound familiar?).

Men commit suicide at a rate five times that of women while teenage boys commit suicide nine times more often than girls.9 They are also diagnosed with depression and ADHD at a rate of 4-to-1 to girls the same age.10 Men make up 23 of the homeless population,11 are more than twice as likely to become alcoholics and are approximately three times more likely to become drug addicts.12 It’s widely documented that men are far less likely to ask for professional help, medical or otherwise, even when experiencing significant health problems or depression.13

Men are the victims of the majority of violent crime, but also far less likely to report it for fear of appearing weak. One survey found that 40% of the victims of domestic violence are men, yet they were far less likely to report the violence and far less likely to be taken seriously by police.14 Men take on more dangerous jobs and are less likely to report any injury suffered at work. Men work far longer hours, take fewer vacations and sick days, and suffer worse symptoms of chronic stress and fatigue. Men even die on the job at a startling rate. In short, most men treat themselves as nothing more than a walking paycheck.15

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Forests and rivers are potent health tonic

Why forests and rivers are the most potent health tonic around – Rebecca Lawton | Aeon Essays (Aeon)

ver guides might know that nature is transformative for the human body and psyche; but the mechanism behind such profound change is less universally agreed upon and understood. How nature heals had been little researched until 1982, when Tomohide Akiyama, who was then secretary of the Forest Agency in Japan, coined the term shinrin-yoku (‘forest bathing’) to describe the practice of getting into the woods for body and mind renewal, to counter lifestyle-related health issues.

The tradition was already ages-old in Japan, but naming it went hand in hand with making recommendations for best practices: one should walk, sit, gaze and exercise among the trees; eat well-balanced meals of organic, locally sourced food; and, if available, immerse in hot springs. All five senses should be engaged, especially for certification as one of Japan’s official Forest Therapy Bases, which are well-maintained, embraced by the local community, and which are required to show, in practitioners, a decrease in physiological markers such as levels of the stress hormone cortisol after wandering in the woods.

When Akiyama recommended forest bathing all those years ago, he knew about the pioneering studies of phytoncides – basically, pungent essential oils – conducted by the Soviet scientist Boris P Tokin in the 1920s and ’30s. The oils, volatile compounds exuded by conifers and some other plants, reduce blood pressure and boost immune function, among other benefits.

Rebecca Lawton is a fluvial geologist and former river guide who writes about water in the West. When I was a child growing up in the West Indies, I would get lost in the woods for hours with my two brothers. Sometimes we would stand in one of the local streams. We would observe and…

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