Five Things You May Not Realize Can Affect Your Mental Health

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Did you know diabetes affects your mental health? From depression to relationship problems or mood swings, too much or too little glucose (sugar) circulating in the blood can trigger behavior and thought patterns that may seem unrelated to how much insulin is released by your pancreas. Out of control glucose levels influence how you feel and make decisions, your beliefs and, yes, your attitude, a very necessary component of your overall care. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states less than half the number of people with diabetes who have depression get treated, which leads to worsening states of mind that could include suicidal thoughts. Treatment, however — therapy, medicine, or both — is usually very effective in this group. That’s good news because diabetics are two to three times as likely to have depression that people without diabetes, and when one condition improves, the other is likely to improve, too. 

My roundup of the top five crossover issues affecting mental health include the following. 

  1. Physical illnesses of all kinds can affect your mental health and behavior (and vice versa) like diabetes does because the human body works with integrated symptoms of vast complexity. You cannot make changes to one network without causing changes to the rest. Complications can range from additional stress and anxiety to reduced chances for healing or, as with diabetes, heart disease, amputations, nerve damage, or death. Cancer centers often integrate the concepts of wholeness and multidisciplinary teams of experts in scientific treatments, and mental health professionals use coping techniques that include biofeedback, meditation, soothing music and more. Treating only the symptoms or even the root cause of
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Do You Want to Be the Agent of Change or its Victim?

Everybody changes in life. You can’t live your life without changing over time, because it’s a natural byproduct of life itself. A 1,000 year-old redwood tree doesn’t look or work much at all like a young sapling.

So that leaves you with a choice. Would you rather be the agent of your own change, or just an unwilling victim of it?

I suspect most people don’t look at life this way. They just merrily stumble along in their lives, unaware that they actually have a lot more control about things than they realize.

Sure, we’re all a product of our upbringing, our horrible (or great) parents, and our genetics. But despite all those things, everyone still has free will and the ability to exercise it whenever and however they would like. Once you’re an adult, continuing to lay blame and avoid responsibility for your choices means that you are relegating yourself to something odd — having your life determined by something other than yourself.

I know I don’t like the idea that my life is outside of my own control.

Which is good, because that is an illusion. Our lives are 100% completely within our own control. The choices we make, the hard decisions we come to, these are things within our power and our responsibility.

So Many Reasons (Excuses)

We delegate way too much control — and responsibility — for how our lives are turning out to others. We blame other people, other things, other situations — anything just as long as we don’t have to accept the responsibility for making the best out of a bad situation.

  • “My parents couldn’t afford the school I wanted to go to, so that’s why I’m doing so badly at college.”
  • “My partner doesn’t support my career choices, that’s why I’m in
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Can forest therapy enhance health and well-being? – Harvard Health Blog

The beauty of the outdoors naturally encourages people to go outside, inhale fresh air, listen to the birds, take a walk, or watch the wind animate the branches of the steadfast neighboring trees. The pull toward the natural world is present even in normal times. Now, as we’re confined indoors by the coronavirus pandemic, often spending hours in front of inanimate screens, the urge to be outside is ever more acute. One way to satisfy these urges while improving our health and well-being is forest therapy, a practice growing in popularity around the world.

What is forest therapy?

Inspired by the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” forest therapy is a guided outdoor healing practice. Unlike a hike or guided nature walk aimed at identifying trees or birds, forest therapy relies on trained guides, who set a deliberately slow pace and invite people to experience the pleasures of nature through all of their senses. It encourages people to be present in the body, enjoying the sensation of being alive and deriving profound benefits from the relationship between ourselves and the rest of the natural world.

Shinrin-yoku started in Japan in the 1980s in response to a national health crisis. Leaders in Japan noticed a spike in stress-related illnesses, attributed to people spending more time working in technology and other industrial work. Certified trails were created to guide people in outdoor experiences. Decades of research show that forest bathing may help reduce stress, improve attention, boost immunity, and lift mood.

How does forest therapy affect the body?

Stress raises levels of the hormone cortisol. Long-term stress and chronic elevations in cortisol play a role in high blood pressure, heart disease, headaches, and many other ailments. In test subjects, levels of cortisol decreased after a walk in the forest, compared

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