The problem of our concrete jungle (+ what you can do about it)

concrete wall leads to frustration stress

All living beings experience stress. Yes, even bacteria and other micro-organisms. This is because every time a being is threatened in its homeostasis, it has to adapt. And this adaptation process triggers a stress response. A single cell organism might only ‘experience’ this stress as a change in its pH-level. But due to our highly developed bodies and brains, humans experience stress in manifold ways – both physically and psychologically. Besides that, humans are one of the few living beings that are able to experience stress over hypothetical and frustrating situations, rather than dangerous situations.

The Bad News

It is these hypothetical and frustrating situations that have increased rapidly in our modern society. The threat of a potential break-up can be just as stressful as an actual break-up. If the break-up never occurs, but the potential threat continues to be there, the chronic stress response can lead to long-term health problems.

Different to hypothetical stress but similarly not linked to acute danger is frustration stress. This stress is triggered by disturbing environmental factors. Unluckily for us, our modern world is full of these stressful environmental factors. From fluorescent lighting and busy shopping streets to noisy traffic and concrete jungles, our environment doesn’t exactly make a stress-free live easy.

The Good News

Scientists increasingly study the relationship between environmental factors and stress. We know, for example, that blue light disrupts our melatonin production, which can lead to sleepless nights. And research from the World Health Organisation has shown that faint noise pollution can trigger our stress response, even when we don’t consciously hear the sounds.

Luckily scientists have some positive news as well. Research has shown that viewing scenes of nature aids the healing from a stress response much quicker than viewing scenes from an urban jungle. And viewing art or aesthetically pleasing objects makes your body release dopamine – you know, the happy hormone also made when eating chocolate. 

So what can we do to decrease these frustrating environmental factors that cause our stress response to soar through the roof? It depends on your personal environment of course, but here are some gentle suggestions:

  • Turn the lights on your electronics into night mode – even during the day.
  • Take a walk during your lunch break, particularly in winter.
  • Invest in noise-cancelling headphones to use in a busy office or when walking alongside noisy roads.
  • Go for long walks in nature at the weekend.
  • Bring nature inside by adding some plants to each room.
  • Turn your house into a comfy home. Hang up some artwork and tidy up every once in a while.

What are your suggestions for a stress-free environment?

6 Comments

  1. March 15, 2019 / 4:49 pm

    Een opgeruimd huis draagt daar bij mij zeker aan bij, maar dat wil niet zeggen dat het hier in huis altijd opgeruimd is! Ik vind een frisse neus halen, zeker op een werkdag, ook een goeie. Even er tussenuit! Dit doe ik ook veel te weinig.

    • Lizzyfied
      Author
      March 15, 2019 / 8:49 pm

      Haha, mijn huis is ook niet altijd schoon hoor! Ik probeer wel elke dag tijdens de lunch een frisse neus te halen. Gelukkig werk ik bij een bedrijf waar het echt in de company-culture zit om tijdens de lunch te sporten, of yoga te doen of te gaan wandelen.

  2. March 15, 2019 / 7:21 pm

    I love my noise-cancelling headphones, and lunch breaks on my sunny balcony when I’m working from home.. Wonderful tips.

    • Lizzyfied
      Author
      March 15, 2019 / 8:52 pm

      My mom has noise-cancelling headphones and I love borrowing them. My neighbours have young kids, so I will often just use earplugs to cancel out the noise. The plugs do their job but are obviously not very practical to carry around when out and about. So noise-cancelling headphones are definitely on my wish-list.

  3. March 21, 2019 / 4:49 pm

    Mooi artikel. Ik maak gebruik van de tips, die dingen werken voor mij ook heel goed! De geluid-blokkerende oordoppen/hoofdtelefoon heb ik niet maar een hele goede tip!

    Oh en ik vermijd het centrum van de stad, zeker op drukke dagen in het weekend. Als ik echt iets moet halen dan doe ik dat het liefst om een doordeweekse ochtend bijvoorbeeld haha!
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    • Lizzyfied
      Author
      March 24, 2019 / 12:09 pm

      Ja, die oordoppen zijn echt heel fijn! Ik ga inderdaad ook het liefst vroeg in de ochtend naar de stad (als ik iets nodig heb). Dat is denk ik inderdaad de slimste manier om drukte te vermijden.

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