Do you know planting some green crops around your house could help diminish your stress level?
I bet you didn’t know but results from a study by the Department of Landscape Architecture help confirm this. The research, done over four years in collaboration with the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) made it known that a greener front yard can do wonders to our mental health.
The researchers put ornamental plants on empty front gardens in the impoverished places of Greater Manchester, England.
The scientists revealed 42 residents were given: 1 tree (juniper or snowy mespilus), 1 shrub (azalea), 1 climber (clematis), sub-shrubs (lavender, rosemary), bulbs (daffodils, crocuses, snowdrops), and bedding plants (petunia, viola). They were to fit all these into two containers.
There was a separate group called the control group which one year later were given these crops.
Analyzing the level of cortisol hormone in inhabitants of the area before and after the plants were added, the research team were able to determine if the greenery had an effect on stress level.
Cortisol levels are known to vary during the day. They however reach optimum point early in the morning and fall to the lowest point at night.
Prior to the experiment, only 24% of the residents had a thriving cortisol pattern. During the course of the study, with the influence of the greenery, this grew to about 53% of the residents having healthy cortisol level
This also had an impact on stress levels as it dropped by 6% after the introduction of the plants.
Residents believed the greenery at the front yard was responsible for making them happier. 52% alluded to this. 40% claimed it helped them more relaxed and 26% said it made them more closer to nature.
Dr Lauriane Suyin Chalmin-Pui, who spearheaded the research as part of her PhD studies, said: “We can now further evidence the vital need to incorporate plants into our front gardens and domestic spaces. This will require a change in the way we strategize, design, plan and build our living spaces.
“The stress reduction data is startling, in that we found such a significant response with just a relatively small number of plants. Now we know that access to even a tiny patch of nature has beneficial effects for our health.
“Since I started this research, it’s been fascinating to see how adding plants to front gardens really did have a transformative effect on residents’ lives. Residents suffering from loneliness and other mental health issues found it especially uplifting and motivational.”
Professor Alistair Griffiths added, “With so many millions more people gardening after discovering a passion to grow during lockdown, the RHS hopes this research inspires more people to plant a few plants, from containers and window boxes to hedges and trees, in their street-side outside spaces.
“Today life is even more stressful for so many, meaning the results of this experiment are more important than ever… Together we should all try to make a positive difference one plant at a time.”
A Daughter’s Love for Her Father Leads Her to Home Care Work
The current pandemic doesn’t just hurt people by infecting them with a virus. It hurts hundreds as well with isolation, separation and necessary barriers. That was the case for Nina Ambrose, a 49-year-old daughter who had taken care of her father for years until he had to be moved into a nursing home. Then, fate threw Nina another curveball; she was let go from her job.
She had worked as an entertainer by trade, and had previously been a Butlins Redcoat professional. So, with time and availability on her side now, it only made sense for her to take her skill and put it to use to solve a different problem – finding a way to get back close to her father. She offered to be an activities coordinator at the same nursing home her father was now a resident at. The role has no pay and no career benefit; Nina works entirely as a volunteer. However, because of her skill, Nina has been able to be close to her father since April, providing three shifts of work weekly at her father’s Chelmsford nursing home. After the work and shift, Nina gets to realize the real benefit, visiting her father. Unfortunately, even with that time is limited. Nina’s father suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, a debilitating condition of the mind that has no cure and eventually kills a patient but not before robbing them of their mind first.
Nina credits the volunteering and work as the key to her own sanity. She would have likely gone bananas being away from her father with the lockdown and social distancing rules. And, the work gives her purpose. She has a routine, something many who have been furloughed have lost, and she’s able to engage with the nursing home residents, meeting new characters and lives and stories with each visit. She is also receiving a first-hand look at home age and dementia progress, gaining an insight of elder care that few have without doing the same work and being close to the patients.
Nina and her father were always close. He worked as a lorry driver for years, and when Roger retired he volunteered regularly before eventually becoming too unhealthy to do so. Any chance Nina has now to be near her father is a golden moment. Additionally, she gets the cheer and happiness of helping the other patients as well.
Had it not been for her father, Nina likely never would have considered working in a nursing home. Life is funny that way, putting people in situations that allow them to change a bit of the world by being in the right place at the right time. She was also in the right place for Roger’s birthday; Nina and her father celebrated him turning 77 at the beginning of October. Every moment is a paragraph or chapter in her brief time left with Roger. So Nina makes the most of it and writes down every day’s event as it happens. She also posts the stories so others can read them as well. And there a bright parts too. Nina gets a kick out of the fact that she gets to tell Roger the same joke every time she sees him, and he laughs like it’s the first time he’s ever heard it every time.
Academic Research Debunks Views That Online Gaming Affects Mental Health
Psychology experts are debunking the negative aura surrounding video games and their impact on the mental health of children. A team from Oxford University carried out an intense research study involving more than 3,200 internet gamers. The results will surprise you, that is, if you had a negative perception of video games.
Ever since video games gained popularity in the 1970s, various sectors have linked them to young people’s psychological problems. That negativity continued to the 21st century, where games are not only in arcades but on computers, often live, on tv screens and mobile devices. Some games can be very intense and will have players sitting in front of the net for multiple hours.
It is two such games that the Research team from Oxford chose to tackle. Nintendo’s Animal Crossing is very prominent, and Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, a game created by Electronic Arts, is also loved by children and adults. The research team gathered essential data such as the length of time each player stayed on the game continuously from the game developers. The information eliminated the researchers’ need to speculate the length of time for the individuals and possibly miscalculate.
Additionally, players did a survey responding to questions about their gaming adventure, and the consensus was that they were doing well and enjoying the gaming experience. The team’s finding revealed that the duration of play, albeit small, had a favorable impact on the players’ wellbeing.
For so many years, parents and teachers, and some medical professionals, believed that under-performance from students often stemmed from their connection with video games. Surprisingly, video game use continues to increase despite those aspersions, and now cold water has been poured over the long-held unfavorable views regarding gaming.
The researchers’ peers might not have reviewed the findings, but what it has done is open the doors for more unified and in-depth research to get facts on gaming impact instead of opinions. The Oxford discovery has now laid at least a seed of doubt on suggestions that gaming can be attributed to aggression and addiction.
The researchers’ team conducted an extensive study due to donations from the Huo Family Foundation and sponsorship from the Economic and Social Research Council. They have acknowledged that the survey only gives a quick outlook into the impact of gaming on a player’s mental health rather than an in-depth one.
The researchers also believe that the varying experiences of the players while they played the game may have contributed significantly to their wellbeing rather than just the time spent playing. The research, even with its limitations, is the most significant step taken so far by any group to analyze players based on information outside of their input. Over the years, researchers usually depended on the gamers participating in a self-survey.
In the meantime, the group’s primary author, Professor Andrew Przybylski, says the advice parents and lawmakers received over the years was given without tangible evidence. He believes the correct way to disseminate information is by obtaining factual data from the gaming corporations. The Professor adds that their findings indicate video games are not particularly dangerous for your health but rather other events that may have impacted the players’ psyche.
He emphasized that playing video games can be a positive stimulant to the cognitive behavior of the players, and withholding the games can reverse that effect. The Oxford Professor adds that the opportunity to undertake the research based on real evidence places the team in a position to give legitimate data to health officials as they create policies.
Meanwhile, the research is great news for the gaming corporations, notably Sony, which just launched the Playstation 5 and the newest Xbox in the United Kingdom.
What to Expect When Going Into Labor
Like any soon-to-be mother, you are wondering if you will know when labor is starting and if you will be surprised. The answer for just about everyone is yes. There are a few women who each year deliver a surprise baby. This won’t be you.
Great White Shark Performs Stunning Aerial Feat, Leaves Surfer Wounded!
When Phil Mummert paddled his board into the waters off of Bunker Bay in Western Australia, he had no idea that his life was about to change. Of course, had Mummert spent some time reflecting on the cold reality of the waters beneath the oceans of Western Australia, perhaps he would have been more prepared. If you think you know where this story is going, you are probably right. Let’s start with the basics before working our way up to the eye-popping climax of this horrific yet amazing story.
If you spend any time traveling Australia, think twice before dipping your toes into the waters of the Indian Ocean. This story takes place just outside of a settlement known as Bunker Bay which is located near Cape Nuatraliste, a headland in the southwestern portion of Australia. The water here is known as the most shark-infested territory in the planet with more than 900 recorded attacks since the 18th century. With 200 fatalities recorded from shark attacks in the section of water, we’d think twice before paddling our board out for some waves.
Were you to discuss the realities of shark attacks in the ocean with a professional, you’d find them dismissive of the idea. That isn’t to say that shark attacks don’t happen, rather that they are incidental rather than on purpose. Sharks rarely hunt humans for foot and will often attack them on accident and from below, thinking that a surfboard is an oddly shaped seal. Somehow that doesn’t make us feel any better and it certainly didn’t do anything for Mr. Mummert.
Phil had been surfing all day when the unthinkable happened. A 16-foot Great White Shark spotted Mummert as he was in the ocean. We don’t know if the attack was intentional, but the Great White Shark exploded out of the water before slamming into Mummert and grabbing onto his leg. If your imagination doesn’t go into overdrive with horror, we are not the same species. Great White Sharks are considered the apex predators of the ocean. They fear nothing and can take down just about anything.
Thankfully, this shark didn’t really want to kill Mummert and there were more than a few helpful hands nearby. After the shark collided with Mummert, causing the surfboard to get “obliterated”, a nearby surfer grabbed onto Mummert and hauled him aboard his own nine-foot surfboard. The pair paddled back to the beach as blood poured from the young man’s wound. Mummert should be thanking his lucky stars that this unnamed surfer was nearby and ready to leap into action, Great White Shark be damned.
The unnamed surfer who saved Mummert explained to reporters that he had one goal, “Trying to get him onto shore and keep him out of shock…” When Mumemrt made it to shore, there were emergency first responders waiting to provide aid. While Mummert did not lose his life, he did collect a couple of six-inch gashes that will turn into pretty gnarly scars. Still, Mummert would have to be airlifted to a hospital in the coastal town of Bunbury where he would eventually be released.
Orca Famous for Grieving Her Dead Calf Expecting Again
Orcas are some of the most magnificent creatures in the world, with their massive size and intriguing life underwater. Orcas, sometimes referred to as killer whales, are the largest members of the dolphin family, and the toothed whales that are famous for their black and white markings can live anywhere from 50 to 80 years in the wild.
Even with such a large lifespan and no natural predators other than humans, orcas have challenges of their own. Their intelligence and maturity are on full display in some of their emotional moments, not unlike humans who also grieve the death of a loved one.
Scientists and marine biologists are very interested in tracking the activity of orcas to better understand these beautiful creatures. Their studies led to a pivotal moment in July 2018, when an orca named Tahlequah gave birth to her second calf in waters of the northeastern Pacific Ocean. Tahlequah, also known as J35, is tracked as part of the Southern Resident community, and she has a son who was born in 2010.
Unfortunately for the stunning animal, her second child was not as healthy as her first, and her baby lived for only a few hours before dying. Tahlequah was understandably heartbroken, but what happened next was truly astonishing for not only the marine research community but also the wider public who watched in awe as she grieved her baby for a record-setting 17 days. While researchers previously confirmed that orcas may carry their dead young for up to a week, Tahlequah set a new precedent in her heartbreaking reaction to the loss of the calf who she carried for nearly a year and a half.
CNN coverage of the remarkable event revealed that Tahlequah continued to nudge her baby’s body along in an effort to keep it from sinking. Believed to be a grief tour, eventually after nearly three weeks, the orca was spotted chasing salmon along with others in her pod. She was finally without her calf, which presumably sank to the bottom of the ocean. All in all, her heartwrenching journey lasted 1,000 miles along Canada’s Pacific coast and the northwestern U.S.
These group of orcas was hit hard by the loss, as they hadn’t seen a successful birth in three years, caused by the depletion of their main food source, fresh local salmon. The devastation and grief is something Tahlequah may never forget, in much the same way humans may never quite get over the death of a child. There has been some good news for the Southern Resident community, as two healthy calves have been born since and survived.
According to the Seattle Times, what’s even more exciting for this dwindling whale population is the confirmation that Tahlequah is once again pregnant. The community’s population is down to just 72 whales, and about two-thirds of pregnancies in the group are lost, so everyone will be holding their breath and wishing Tahlequah a better experience this time around. Non-invasive drone photography was used to confirm the pregnancy, and now Tahlequah will be closely observed as she hopefully carries her calf to term and has a successful birth.
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