Can Tropical Scenery Improve Your Mood?

Written By: Mica Cruz

Today’s work environment has never been more demanding—the constant connection through smartphones and different forms of media means we almost never stop working. Every day, we push ourselves harder to the brink of burnout, and if that’s not enough, we’ve developed the habit of checking our e-mail first thing in the morning and before we go to bed. 

While some believe that stress is an indicator of how successful you are—or are likely to be—a study by COMSATS at the University Islamabad in 2009 has shown that if you’re under stress, the quality of your work begins to suffer. There is also a decrease in performance and focus.

According to the New Zealand Productivity Commission, working overtime is futile, as the quality and efficiency of work deteriorates rapidly, in addition to the physical and psychological health of the workers. This means that in order for you to produce quality output and climb that career ladder, a bit of self-care is absolutely necessary, be it a vacation or a jointmaybe both!

Summer is the perfect opportunity for a quick reset, so pack that weekend bag, and head to the beach or some other body of water. A 2012 study analyzed small-area census data from England and found that people who live in coastal areas report feeling less stressed and have better overall health. 

In 2015 the Graduate School of Maritime Sciences at Kobe University, Japan, surveyed people going to the beach and found that the seaside environment improved their mood and mental health. From the data, the message is clear: outdoor scenery alone creates a positive influence on one’s mood.

But if you can’t get out of the office or the city, there’s also research suggesting that even just looking at the color blue can lower one’s blood pressure, lower psychological distress and boost creativity. Researchers from the University of Melbourne, in Australia, tested 150 students and found that looking at natural green scenery, such as plants, could improve attention and focus. 

Consider another favorite plant celebrated for relaxing effects—cannabis. For centuries, many different cultures have used it for its relaxing and uplifting effects on one’s mood. Data from Strainprint, an app that tracks strains and their perceived changes in mental health symptoms, were analyzed in 2018. In total, they tracked 11,953 cannabis sessions: 3,151 for depression, 5,085 for anxiety and 3,717 for stress. They found that just two puffs of cannabis were enough to reduce ratings of depression and anxiety in many of the subjects.

How can we use these findings that water, foliage and cannabis can be the ultimate mood boost, even if you’re not headed overseas? We’ve got you covered with these strategies for using tropical scenery—and tropical favorite, cannabis—to create a relaxing environment wherever you are. 

Something Blue 

Head to the beach or a pool, set up your automatic e-mail responder, and have what people are calling a “digital detox.” Sit on the sand or at poolside with a joint or a vape in hand, and let the beautiful blue waters take your mind off your worries. Spend a few days without checking your phone or your laptop. Without your phone, you’re able to be more present and in the moment, which will allow you to bond and connect more with the people around you. Let your phone go, and pass around a joint instead for some bonding time at the beach or poolside. 

If you’re not able to step out of a house, relaxing in a warm cannabis infused bubble bath can make you feel like all of your day’s challenges are melting away. Add a few blue pieces of furniture or decorations to your home to bring in the relaxing mood, or open a window and just gaze at the sky with the clouds rolling by.

Something Lush

Plants can immediately liven up a room, but a recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology has shown that employees are more focused and productive after looking at green scenery. Create your own little nature corner at the office or in your house by getting some indoor plants. Not only will the quality of the air improve, but so will your outlook. Some of today’s trendy indoor plants have a high tropical vibe, like the fiddle leaf fig, banana tree, and the Pinterest favorite—monstera deliciosa (aka the Swiss Cheese Plant). 

If you have a smaller space, caring for succulents can be a calming activity as well. And if you want to go all out, you can even take care of your very own hemp plant at home. Hemp seeds can now be purchased easily, even on Amazon. These won’t get you high though, and unless you plan on making rope, these babies are purely decorative, But if you want to grow psychoactive cannabis at home, check your state laws, because some states, like Alaska and California, allow adults over 21 to grow and cultivate no more than six plants at a time.

Something Kush

There’s an abundance of cannabis strains available to us today. From buttery to citrusy or flowery, you can find a strain to suit your taste and desired effects. Get in the tropical mood with Forbidden Fruit, a mouthwatering cross of Cherry Pie with Tangie, with notes of pine, mango and passionfruit. It’s an indica with a relaxing high that’s good for physical pain and stress relief. For a more uplifting effect, the classic Pineapple Express will take you to the shores of a tropical beach, with terpene flavors of fresh apple and mango, with a taste of pineapple, pine and cedar. It brings an energetic and active high, which allows for a creative and productive day.

Being able to relax and unwind is almost a luxury in this day and age, but it’s absolutely necessary for preventing burnout. Setting aside some time for a vacation, learning yoga and meditation or even just adding a few natural touches to your home can be beneficial to your mood and mental health in the long run. Pair these mood-boosting activities with some of your favorite cannabis strains to take relaxation to a whole ’nother level. 

Emerald contributor since July 2019

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