Archive for Memory

I recently visited the forests of southern Illinois, and enjoyed the beautiful sights, peaceful sounds, and fresh air of the Shawnee Forest.  It was nice to see some old familiar favorite places, and to explore and discover a couple new spots.

Taking walks in nature with my family are some of my favorite memories from when I was little, and I’ve been traipsing through the woods ever since.  When I was living in southern Illinois, the forest was 15 minutes away.  But now that I live near Chicago, it has become a special treat.

My trip reminded me once again of how good it feels to be out in nature.  Taking a walk is the perfect combination of relaxing and invigorating.  Watching a sunset over a lake is peaceful and soothing.  Taking photos is creatively stimulating and gratifying.  Time together with loved ones, sharing the experience and making memories, is emotionally intimate and meaningful.  Add to that perfect fall weather, and walla!  Just beautiful.

How rarely we get to experience this when living in a large metropolitan area!  It really makes me appreciate the people who have made it a point to set aside some metropolitan land for small parks and green areas. If you‘re one of those people, thank you.

People tend to underestimate the benefits of nature.

When predicting how time in nature will impact us, we expect less of a benefit than we actually get, according to a 2011 Carleton University study.  The study found that people…

felt more positive emotions after the natural walk than they did after the tunnel walk, but… underestimated the positive benefits of a natural walk and overestimated the positive benefits of the tunnel walk. The students in the natural walk condition also reported feeling more connected to nature, an association that was mediated by their more positive emotions.  (read entire article)

Benefits of spending time in nature

There are many benefits of spending time in nature.  A Scientific American article states,

Psychological research has shown that natural experiences help to reduce stress, improve mood, and promote an overall increase in physical and psychological well-being. There is even evidence that hospital patients with a view of nature recover faster than do hospital patients without such a view. This line of research provides clear evidence that people are drawn to nature with good reason. It has restorative properties.

This article goes on to discuss four studies at the University of Rochester which showed that exposure to nature can make people more caring, and more intrinsically motivated.

In short, we become less self-focused and more other-focused. Our value priorities shift from personal gain, to a broader focus on community and connection with others.

There are also cognitive (mental) benefits.  For example, exposure to nature can help you focus.  One way to think of this is as the type of focusing that you can do when you are in a more peaceful environment… clearing your mind, focusing on your senses, being mindful in the moment (while in nature). This experience is soothing, relaxing and grounding.

Furthermore, studies at the University of Illinois linked green views from one’s window with better ability to focus and concentrate, and better memory.  Also, research at the University of Michigan showed that attention improved after an hour in nature.  (see this article for more details)

It’s no wonder that organizations are offering therapeutic wilderness programs.  Here is one organization that offers a well-cited list of reasons why nature is therapeutic.

It’s not too late!

For those of us here in the Chicago area, we are already feeling the chill of autumn.  People are making physical preparations for winter, and are bracing themselves emotionally for what is being predicted as a very snowy season this year.

I would suggest that, as part of your emotional preparation, you make it a point to spend as much time as you can outdoors, while it’s still comfortable.  Even if there’s a slight chill, throw on that hat and sweater and go for a walk in a nearby park or forest area.  Or take another trip or two to one of the larger nature reserves within a few hours drive, like Starved Rock, Turkey Run, or Brown County.  I’m relatively new to this area, so I’m sure you may know of others that you would enjoy, that might be even closer… perhaps in northern Illinois or Michigan.

Remember that a couple of recommendations for mood are to get a half hour of sun each day and to exercise.  Add the therapeutic benefits of nature to this, and you’ve got a great three-in-one plan!

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.


Categories : Wellness
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Money Problems Signal Dementia

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Some cognitive decline is a normal part of aging.  This leads to confusion about how to know when a person is starting to have more trouble with memory, thinking and decision making than is normal.  This article addresses one possible warning sign of dementia.

Money Problems Precede Alzheimer’s

Declining financial skills are detectable in patients in the year before they develop Alzheimer’s, according to US researchers.

The researchers say this could be a useful indicator for doctors supporting people with memory problems.

Previous studies have shown that problems with daily activities often precede the onset of Alzheimer’s.

But charities said most people having trouble working out figures should not be alarmed by the study.

Financial skills

The research from the University of Alabama in Birmingham is published in the journal, Neurology… (click here to read entire article)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.


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Memory and Aging – Special Report

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When I find a great resource, I like to share it with everyone.  Here’s a link to a free special report on memory loss and aging from Johns Hopkins.   Whether you’re concerned about your own memory or that of a loved one, you don’t want to miss this report!  It also discussed depression and normal aging.

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Memory Loss and Aging is designed with YOU in mind, to give you a basic overview of the reasons why memory loss often occurs as we age, and what you can do to prevent it.

You will learn the difference between the memory loss commonly associated with aging, and dementia. Your copy of The Johns Hopkins Guide to Memory Loss and Aging also outlines how some people are able to train their memory to preserve it.

You will also discover some of the more common reasons for memory loss, including depression.

Learn how to distinguish between dementia and depression. Discover more about your treatment options, for safe, effective relief of the symptoms if you do suffer from depression. You’ll also learn the steps you can take toward your goal of complete remission of your depression, to improve your overall health and regain your sharp memory.

Anda Jines offers therapy services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago including  therapy services in Tinley Park, therapy services in Oak Forest, therapy services in Orland Park and the surrounding area.

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