Don't Hibernate Yet! Why Fall is the Perfect Time to be Proactive About Mental Health

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Cityscapes can wreak havoc on the brain (Marie Claire, September issue, pg. 346). They activate areas that are linked to stress and associated with anxiety. Pastoral landscapes on the other hand, trigger feelings of calm and relaxation. This is why therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil thinks fall is the perfect time to think seriously about mental health and get out in nature.

Winter can be a dreary time, and city-dwellers might start feeling it more than others. According to Alan C. Logan in the September issue of Marie Claire (pg. 346), that's because cityscapes activate areas of the brain that are linked to stress and anxiety. Conversely, wooded, pastoral landscapes trigger relaxation. Therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil agrees that nature is vital for mental health and she thinks fall is the perfect time to play outdoors!

A previous study by American Cancer Society: shows that being with nature helps people lower the stress hormone cortisol in their body. Dr. Bonnie explains that high stress levels cause a Biochemical Craving for connection which she discusses in her book Adultery the Forgivable Sin - when people self-medicate and stress-bust in order to deal with the stress and anxiety they're feeling. "This behavior usually manifests itself in a less-than-desireable way," she says. "People have affairs, or turn to other types of addiction in order to deal with this Craving."

"Few people want to be outside in the winter unless they have to, so Fall is the perfect time to get a last blast of outdoor enjoyment!" she encourages.

Another way to take this healthy living admonition indoors is to be surrounded with wooden objects. The same article says that surroundings with 30 to 40 percent wood also encourages relaxation. This can be as simple as lighting a teak candle, or it can mean incorporating things like reclaimed wood, potted plants, wooden furniture and the like. "Bringing the outdoors in can help by leaps and bounds to create a calming psyche, which is especially important as we head into the holiday season," observes Dr. Bonnie.

But - she says, "it's always best to get outside yourself! Go apple picking, take a hay ride, take advantage of activities special to this season."

To see Dr. Bonnie talking more about the mind-body connection, click here:

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