Time seems to be in sprint mode. A few decades ago when we used to indulge in gutter to gutter and trekked on foot several miles to take part in major counters-ball tournaments (you know if you know) it appeared the days and nights were extremely long. We played for hours every day and during vacations life was so much fun. We did not have a care in the world. We took lawns and plants of all shapes, colours and sizes for granted. Little did we know that being outdoors and surrounded by nature was playing a role in our abundant energy, happiness and great mental health in general.
In less than four decades open spaces and lawns in my primary school have been replaced by buildings just as is happening nationwide and I will limit it to that as “dzi wo fie asem” rings in my ears. Before one can whisper abracadabra trees, flowers, parks disappear as suicide rates, stressed adults and many mental health challenges outperform Usain Bolt in sprint. Who would ever have dreamt that in the abundance of sunlight, we will be starved of Vitamin D and its attendant challenges. The legend Bob Marley on my mind.
We seem to avoid discussing Mental Health but it affects every facet of our life and it’s impossible to avoid for two reasons;
- No one is immune
- Virtually everyone can be helped with the right support, talk therapies and medication.
Do not avoid tell-tale signs of mental health challenges such as;
- Frequent complaints of stress
- Suicidal thoughts or comments on committing suicide
- Poor performance and inability to keep time
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and other drugs
- Constant tiredness, low energy, frequent headaches and backaches
- Withdrawal from social contact
- Poor judgement/indecision
- Unusual display of emotion such as breaking into tears for no apparent reason.
- Overworking and several others
Over the past few years I have taken a closer look at complementary therapies in medicine and I observed the shift by major hospitals to include features such as therapeutic or healing gardens into their protocols. Nature has a way of taking care of its own. Flowers for instance contribute to lowering blood pressure and heart rates. Fresh (emphasis) flowers lower ratings of pain, anxiety and fatigue. In general people recovering from an illness do so much better when they have natural or fresh flowers or are surrounded by nature in a pure state. So the bouquets of flowers you send to friends in hospital, those who may be ill at home or even as a way of sharing in their joy does more wonders than you even thought. Keep them flowing.
If there are any prescriptions that you should not be caught dead without then they are a FITT prescription and the ALL NEW “GREENSCRIPTION”. Over the past few months I have joined the rank of Health Professionals who prescribe NATURE in what is termed a GREENSCRIPTION (green prescription);
- Spend at least 30 minutes to an hour each day outdoors
- Those in the temperate zones and those in extremely hot areas will need to make modifications
- Moving from an air-conditioned room and jumping right into an air-conditioned car and driving around for an hour will only leave you with less of the desired effect
- Have natural lawns, flowers, other plants at home, at work or a place nearby that you can visit often
- Artificial plants do not count
- Get some natural plants indoors
- In corporate settings create areas where staff can de-stress in natural surroundings
- Laugh often even if there is nothing funny going on (be careful lest people label you as needing medicine), Walk and Pray every day.
- Build and maintain great relationships with friends and family and spend quality time with them
- Take planned vacations and as often as possible be close to nature. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.
- Make sure at least one meal each day is as close to the natural or as fresh as possible
- Sleep. Sleep and Sleep adequately
- I cannot overemphasize the importance of good quality sleep
- Please do not oversleep either, lest poverty knocks at your door and lets itself in.
- FITT PRESCRIPTION – Do not leave your doctor’s office without a FITT prescription no matter your complaint. FITT is acronym for Frequency of exercising, Intensity of your workout, Time or duration of each exercise session and Type of exercise that is ideal for us. We all need this prescription for a holistic life.
Let us save ourselves from preventable diseases by reducing the concrete and artificial plants and lawns. We need to surround ourselves with LIFE to be at our best.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, ENSURE HYGIENE, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Health Essentials Ltd/Mobissel/St. Andrews Clinic
*Dr. Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy, fitness nutrition and corrective exercise.
Thought for the week – “Uncontrolled blood pressure leads to many complications including erectile dysfunction. The effects of uncontrolled blood pressure (hypertension) dwarf the side effects of medications that control BP.”
- Complementary Therapies in Medicine
- Dr. Maggie MC Gorgan – “Workplace mental Health”