May 11, 2010

Boost Self Esteem with Green Exercise

Just came back from my blood test for the follow-up with the endocrinologist next week. She wants to see if there is any change in my testosterone levels, DHEAS, potassium, and all that. Apparently, I have not outgrown fainting, as I thought. I feel bad for the technician (if that's the right name for them) who took my blood. What surprises me is that I felt less nervous this time. I guess the idea of the needle still affects me in the end.

I'm doing better now. Looking forward to what the endo has to say next week, hearing what she thinks, feeling like I'm closer to understanding. And after battling with a few spring blizzards the last couple of weeks, the sun is finally shining again and the grass is really starting to green up. Spring takes so long to get to these parts that it's always exciting when it does. It leaves again so quickly.

And it feels appropriate that I came across this article via Lifehacker, which though not about hirsutism, is about self esteem. More and more, I'm becoming convinced that is the best way to combat such a condition, since the condition itself usually cannot be "cured."

Analyzing "data from 1,252 people of different ages, genders and mental health status" and "activities such as walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming," they were able to see health changes in all groups.

So, at least five minutes a day, and it must be somewhere green, with water if possible.

I'm ready to believe that. Winter months all gray and brown drag on and on--people are sick more, tired more, fed up more. And it's not just the cold. It's the light and the color. But I wished the article had been more in-depth, so I took a little look around the internet.

Most people know that skin exposed to sunlight creates vitamin D, which assists in the body's regulation of calcium and health of the immune system. Both vitamin D and melatonin have shown to factor into Seasonal Affective Disorder. Some exposure to light improves mood, sleep and dreaming, and some theorize even headaches and fertility. So a little sun is obviously good for your health.

And physical activity, we all know that's good for you. In regards to the mind, it increases blood flow for better brain function and releases those "feel good" endorphins to help combat pain and depression.

But really, five minutes? And why green?

I guess this is nothing new. Did you know there's actually something called Nature Defecit Disorder? I didn't. It suggests that children spending more time indoors are developing more anxiety and attention disorders, becoming less active and therefore less healthy, and have less respect for the environment. There's also a theory that people concentrate better in nature, and is linked to studies in exposure to nature to improve recovery from illnesses. Needless to say, there is a lot of interest in this area. There's even an area of study called ecopsychology, nature-based psychotherapy.

You can get "green prescriptions" from doctors who want you to get serious about your exercise, stress level or lifestyle. You can undergo "green therapy" if you need psychological, social or physical adjustments. Mind.org quotes a 71% depression decrease after a nature walk in an article about mental health.

In Britain there's even such a thing as a "Green Gym," a program that combines fitness with gardening and conservation. According to the Wikipedia article the participants' mental health score and depression scores improved "significantly" after three months. There's a lot of people trying this already with good results. Seems like everybody could benefit from a little green. And those of us with a condition that attacks the way we feel about ourselves can use all the help we can get.


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4 comments:

Sophie said...

Thats Roxie, right? :)

I looove green, i try to go to the island full of green and animals as often as i can. and if you put your favourite song in the morning, and dance to it really intensely, you will feel more energised throughout the day!

Allerleirah said...

It is!

Favorite song, good advice. My family would despise me. *lol*

Becky said...

Yes! I love this. I spent years overcoming beard-induced low self-esteem that kept me hidden indoors. YEARS. I am convinced with you that my good self-image is my weapon against hirsutism. There is so much more to me than my beard. And I find that when I don't reject me, no one else does either. Good post. Thank you. And I love the relationship between self-esteem and green exercise. Excellent.

Allerleirah said...

Your philosophy has been a tremendous inspiration. It has made sense that that the only person who can really make you feel inferior is yourself, but until I saw self image in action against hirsutism, I didn't necessarily believe it was possible.

And it's encouraging to know a little pick-me-up is just right outside the door.