Did you know that over 55% of Americans feel stressed (1)? Or that the number of depressed teens increased 33% over 5 years (comparing 2015 to 2010)(2)? May is Mental Health month, and we at Earth Harbor Naturals generally focus on prioritizing our skin, but this month we took time to prioritize our minds and want to share what we’ve learned.
In today's rat race society it seems that the harder you work the more there is to do. While ambition and hard work are highly valuable it’s important to assess all that we do-- in work and in play. In addition to meeting deadlines, making money, and paying off debt, our bodies need to take breaks, drink plenty of water and get enough sleep on a regular basis. Taking even small steps to improve these areas are likely to improve your mental state (which we hope is already in a good place!).
If you don't have the time or resources for a vacation, visit a body of water for a mental break. It can be anything from the pool at your apartment complex to the ocean. Doctors in the 1800’s would actually prescribe a visit to the ocean as a natural medical remedy (3). We aren’t sure if they knew it then, but modern medicine has discovered that large expanses of water psychologically make the brain feel rested and more at ease (3). The merbabes at Earth Harbor love that the doctors were worth their weight in seashells on this one!
During Mental Health month we wanted to highlight a few areas to help you rest your mind, but we also wanted to point out some potential problem areas. Namely your smartphone. Not only do smartphones not calm us down, they can actually trigger the opposite effect. Phones help us stay connected, but unfortunately the old adage rings true: too much of a good thing isn’t always good. To be fair, the phones themselves aren’t to blame. It’s our constant overuse of them that causes problems.
The average American adult spends 2-4 hours per day on their phone which is over 2,500 touches every 24 hours (4). The study group from this statistic was adults of all ages, but typically the younger the adult, the higher the phone use (as a reference, the author’s daily phone use is just over 4 hours a day...and that’s after trying to use it less). Every time your phone rings, buzzes, or you get a notification, a natural substance called dopamine is released by your body (4). Dopamine makes you feel subconsciously great/loved/wanted/excited which generally leads to more phone use. The issue is that in hours of scrolling, you have unlimited social media access and constantly see all the "fun" others are having (often termed FOMO or "fear of missing out"). FOMO can cause loneliness, and constantly being on your phone can make you feel isolated (4). As a side note, people rarely post when they are home alone on a Friday night so don’t let yourself be tricked into thinking everyone is always having fun except for you.
Phones and social media are part of modern society and won’t be going away any time soon.
They have negative consequences, but without using them too often, they allow us many advantages as well. In today’s society you can call a friend who lives in Australia (where Earth Harbor coincidentally sources many of our fine ingredients!) and talk to them within seconds. You can fly almost anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours. In the early 1900’s phones and email (obviously) didn’t exist so you’d have to write a letter, hope your friend got it, and hope they wrote you back. It could take weeks or months to get a response. If you wanted to cross an ocean, it was expensive, took a lot of time, and it was often quite dangerous.
We raise all these points to point out that modern society is amazing and has come a long way in 100 years. With everything we have going on, it’s almost unbelievable that people under 30 are the most stressed of all the generations (1). In fact, Gallup researchers noted that, “The anger number, stress number, and worry are as high as we’ve ever seen them (1).” Yale University has even created an elective class on how to be happy… and it’s their most popular class in school history. It was so popular and has been rated so highly it’s now offered online for free.
In researching these themes more, we discovered that 300+ million people worldwide are depressed, and depression has been listed as the leading cause of workplace disability (6). Employees who worked 61-70 hours weekly increased their risk of coronary heart disease by 42%, and those who worked 71 to 80 hours faced a risk of 63% higher (4).
As Mental Health month comes to a close, we wanted to raise continued awareness to some startling statistics and suggest some ways to help yourself stay healthy. Our final suggestion is to encourage you to stop each day to practice either gratitude, prayer, meditation or mindfulness. Slowing down and being in the moment reduces negative self-talk, redirects thoughts to reality, and can help counteract some aspects of depression (7). Live your life and enjoy it. We love our merbabes, and we want you to have the happiest, most full life possible.
If you need intervention for mental health, please phone the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: 1-888-333-2377.
For more info on these topics, review the below footnotes. You may also be interested in “How to Break Up with Your Phone” by Catherine Price, the concept of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), or “The Science of Well-Being”, offered by Yale University on Coursera.org. Please note, these are suggestions from the author only and are in no way endorsed or promoted by Earth Harbor Naturals.