Reconnect with Nature, Achieve Your New Year's Resolutions
A New Year's resolution is a traditional promise people commit to after welcoming a new year. However, most people who commit to a resolution have goals that are way too high, nearly impossible to achieve. With today's modern living conditions in cities, people tend to spend more time indoors from home to work and vice versa. So how can people regain the positive sense to achieve their resolutions in life?
Research suggested that people should reconnect with nature to get positive vibes, particularly those who live in urban settings with little or no green areas. According to the US Census Bureau, about 62.7 percent of the country's population resides in cities and these cities only make up 3.5 percent of the nation's total land area. The population density within the cities is more than 46 percent higher than outside the cities, while the population density in cities with one million or more people is at least 7,000 people per square mile. Living in urban areas is a growing trend due to access to technology, transportation, and public services.
As cities become occupied by people, the urban setting suffers from increasing issues, such as pollution, traffic, and shortages.
1. With the increasing number of people and upgrades in technology, pollution degrades living conditions in urban areas. Pollution is one the giant killers affecting more than 100 million people worldwide. It also kills more than one million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals each year. Dwellers in polluted cities are 20 percent likely to develop lung cancer and die from the disease compared to those who live in a less polluted area.
2. Some cities cannot sustain the population that often leads to dwellers becoming anxious and depressed due to unemployment. These dwellers enter riskier businesses, such as trafficking and smuggling, to earn money. Some may even resort to more violent acts that may involve hurting others to survive. According to Peace Alliance, more than 1.6 million of people in the world die due to violence every year.
3. City traffic is also a common problem in cities. High population and access to luxury allow purchases of private vehicles. The more vehicles available for purchase, the more people buy them instead of using public transportation. The growing number of private car owners significantly increases private vehicles on the road, which may increase road traffic. Road traffic crashes are among the leading causes of death in the world, with almost 1.3 million deaths every year.
4. People do not realize how personal hygiene and good sanitary practice at home can help their cities. Lack of cleanliness and insanitation leads to various diseases such as diarrhea and parasitic infection. At least 800,000 children younger than five years die from diarrhea each year and the common cause is lack of access to clean water. Insanitation also leads to contaminated water that can spread parasites, such as the Guinea Worm Disease.
5. Shortages in public services also occur in cities with the oversaturation of citizens. Public services, such as healthcare provision, supplies of electricity and water, and proper education, may collapse in cities that are overpopulated.
People living in cities should not forget about nature. Simple green areas like parks and grasslands can help motivate, inspire, and boost positive behavior. According to a study in 2015, urban dwelling and degradation of natural environments signal the physical and mental disconnection of humans to nature. But if people were to reconnect again, nature can provide a potential to improve well-being. In the study by Pearson and Craig in 2014, there was evidence to prove that exposure to natural environments, such as parks and green spaces, can result in positive mental health.
City dwellers often suffer from psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression, due to the amount of stress in school and/or work, as well as the lack of relaxation. Traveling in fields of green or bodies of water refreshes the mind and body, removing all the stress and difficulties of city living. The time spent in reconnecting with nature can also remind people on how they can achieve even the smallest aspect of their New Year's resolution.
"Being outdoors is generally associated with activity, and being physically active keeps joints loose and helps with chronic pain and stiffness," said Dr. Jay Lee, a physician at Kaiser Permanente in Colorado.
- In the city, hanging out in city parks and areas with trees can improve mental health by reducing cognitive fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Outside the city, hiking or skiing can significantly boost one's mind because these allow reflection of thoughts on how life can be meaningful. As much as possible, disconnect yourself from your smartphone, tablet, and laptop to focus on nature.
- Walking your pet can potentially expose you to green areas. A simple exercise like brisk walking improves physical and mental aspects, not just of you but also of your pet.
The simple step of reconnecting with nature shows that little positive changes can be made possible. These little changes can lead to bigger positive outcomes, like New Year's resolutions.
[리서치페이퍼=Ralph Chen 기자]