May 20

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The Great Outdoors and Your Mental Health

By Robert Salvador

May 20, 2022


May and June are busy months when it comes to themes to be mindful of, if you like to follow them, which I do.

At DigiBuild we are very conscious of mental health and safety when it comes to the construction workforce and a couple  ongoing and upcoming themes caught my attention.

May is Mental Health Month and June is Great Outdoors Month.  I believe these two  matters are related a great deal.

We know that construction workers engage in activities every day that may expose them to serious physical hazards.  Away from the jobsite, construction industry participants also deal with extremely serious health issues, including drug abuse, and the highest suicide rate for any industry.

Suicide - How Does the Construction Industry Measure Up?

The answer - Not very good!

Surprisingly, the number one risk in the construction industry isn’t physical, but rather mental. Beating out working from heights as the number one cause of fatality is suicide. Frequent changes to work schedules and additional workloads have been linked to employee stress.

https://mhanational.org/ has put out a fact sheet that covers tips for maintaining good mental health.

Nutritional choices that have been proven to help mental health:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids 

  • B-Group Vitamins

  • Vitamin D

To emphasize the importance of diet, I found this interesting; several recent studies demonstrated the connection between diet and reducing Alzheimer's. The Mediterranean diet or a diet with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables was seen to reduce rates by 53%.

Sleep

This should come as no surprise. Sleep and mental health are closely connected. Sufficient sleep, especially REM sleep, facilitates the brain’s processing of emotional information. Lack of sleep is especially harmful to the consolidation of positive emotional content. This can influence mood and emotional reactivity and is tied to mental health disorders and their severity.

A few of the most common habits to help you sleep.

  • Having a set bedtime and maintaining a steady sleep schedule

  • Finding ways to wind-down as part of a standard routine before bedtime

  • Avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine in the evening

  • Dimming lights and putting away electronic devices for an hour  before bed

  • Getting regular exercise and natural light exposure during the daytime

Exercise

Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, and ADHD. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood.  As one example, a recent study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing.

  • Relieves Stress

  • Improves memory

  • Helps you sleep better

  • Improves self-esteem

That brings us to The Great Outdoors Month.

Fresh air, sun, trees. Nature is a magical thing, and according to some studies, has many benefits— such as improving mood, improving mental health and boosting the immune system.

  • Improved physical Fitness

  • Lowers blood pressure 

  • Reduces stress and cortisol

  • Improves mood

  • Accelerates healing

  • Improves eyesight

  • Improves sleep

  • Increases creativity

Scientists have gained access to data sets, sometimes capturing an entire country’s population of medical records and hospital data. They are finding that where an individual lives, their time outdoors, and their proximity to green spaces relate directly to patient diagnoses of chronic illness as well as a lower risk of depression and faster psychological stress recovery. 

If you think back to times you spent the day or a part of the day outdoors, I am certain you would agree with what the scientists say. I would go as far as to say that it is likely that some of your fondest memories involve the great outdoors.  Small amounts of outdoor time have positive effects on your health, and longer, more active stints in the outdoors will generate the most benefits.

The delays in treatment for mental health conditions are longer than for many other health conditions. Mental health must be treated with the same level of concern as physical health.  Be proactive in providing means for workers to talk to a colleague or manager. Simple actions can make a big difference and possibly prevent someone from reaching the crisis point.

Starting July 16, 2022, call 988 for matters of mental health crisis. Calling 988 will connect you directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is staffed by trained crisis counselors 24/7, 365 days a year, meanwhile you can call  1-800-273-8255 

DigiBuild's founders are committed to reducing suicide incidents and improving mental health within the industry. We believe that along with the many safety advances that are transforming on-site safety like PPE, drones and robotics to name a few; having software tools that lower stress levels and increase efficiency can go a long way to making construction safer.

There is a better way, and our mission is to build blockchain solutions and connected platforms to create a healthier and happier global construction industry.

The result will be a happier workforce, happier clients, and a well-respected construction industry.

Robert Salvador

About The Author

Rob Salvador is the visionary driving force behind DigiBuild, an experienced builder, project manager and construction technologist. Since the age of 10, Rob has witnessed what it was like, firsthand for his Dad struggling to run his construction company. He eventually started his own construction company and those experiences and the lack of change over that time span led to his mission of creating a better way to operate construction projects and the construction community. Rob’s passion and previous cryptocurrency startup experiences are what led to him becoming a blockchain expert. In 2017 he had his ‘aha moment’ and the idea of 'how to' apply blockchain to construction took form and DigiBuild was born.

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