By Haylie May
Have you ever wondered why you feel so much better when you spend more time outside hiking or walking in the woods?
Whenever I feel stressed or just need some space to think, I always head outside to my nearest gardens to take a walk or just to sit and hang out. After reading an article on Science Daily about mental health and its link to pollution, I realized there is a reason why being outside in nature makes me feel so much better.
It is a well known fact that air pollution greatly affects our health. The unclean air makes it more difficult to breathe, and can bother people who have lung diseases. Now, in addition to this, new studies have shown that the more air pollution there is where you live, the greater the impact it has on your mental wellbeing.
For one, the dirtier the air is, the less-likely it is that people will want to go outside. This leads to a greater amount of the population increasing their time spent inside, which raises the likelihood that people will feel more socially isolated from their surroundings. Spending more time inside can also lead to people becoming less active, which increases the chances of adapting to a sedentary lifestyle. This means people could be at a higher risk of obesity or diabetes.
The studies regarding the link between mental health and air pollution are still relatively new, but the University of Washington polled people who lived in various levels of pollution.The differences of the levels of psychological distress at the different levels of exposure were pretty drastic.
The researchers collecting this information made sure that the individuals that they asked about their psychological distress were similar in regards to physical health, behavioral patterns, and socioeconomic standing. This ensured that the poll would lead to more accurate results. There were differences in the levels between races and genders, but more studies are needed to be able to pinpoint exactly why this is.
This new fact is just one more reason why it is important to grow more trees and plants and save the ones we already have. Smaller amount of trees=Greater amount of pollution, and now we know this will not only affect people’s physical health, it will also affect their psychological health.
Overall, it is important to make sure that you are getting outside and getting fresh air. By doing this you will be taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and socially.
University of Washington. “How toxic air clouds mental health.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 November 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171102121128.htm>.