Landscape photography, nature and well-being

Landscape photography is beneficial to self-development, self-discovery and eudaimonic wellbeing. To the photographer, that is, and hopefully to others as well. In particular, landscape photography and post-photography processing can connect the photographer with nature. Research on well-being has explored two general perspectives: a hedonic approach, in which happiness and well-being are about pleasure attainment and pain avoidance, and a eudaimonic approach, in which meaning, self-realization and the degree to which a person is fully functioning are important. This post explores the links between landscape photography, nature connectedness and well-being

The beneficial role of nature connectedness in well-being has been suggested in recent publications:

The relationship between nature relatedness and anxiety, Martyn, Patricia, Brymer, Eric., Journal of Health Psychology, 2016, 21: 1436-1445.

Are nature lovers happy? On various indicators of well-being and connectedness with nature. Cervinka, Renate, Roderer, Kathrin, Hefler, Elisabeth. Journal of Health Psychology, 2012, 17: 379-388.

Flourishing in nature: A review of the benefits of connecting with nature and its application as a wellbeing intervention. Capaldi, C. A., Passmore, H.-A., Nisbet, E. K., Zelenski, J. M., & Dopko, R. L.  International Journal of Wellbeing, 2015, 5(4), 1-16.

Natural environments have a stress-reducing or restorative influence, a form of homeostasis, while urban environments have the opposite effect.  Roger S Ulrich et al. (1991) showed 120 participants a stressful movie, and then videotapes of different natural and urban settings. Stress recovery measures were obtained from self-ratings of affective states and a battery of physiological measures: heart period, muscle tension, skin conductance and pulse transit time, a non-invasive measure that correlates with systolic blood pressure.

Recovery was “faster and more complete when people experienced natural rather than urban environments. The pattern of findings indicated that responses to nature had a salient parasympathetic nervous system component; however, there was no evidence of pronounced parasympathetic involvement with urban settings.”  Findings were consistent in showing the restorative influence of nature to produce a shift towards a positively-toned feelings and sustained attention.

Liz Brewster and Andrew Cox study the connection between involvement in digital communities and well-being by examining ‘digital daily practice’. Digital daily practices involves doing one thing – exercise, photography or writing – every day and sharing it online. They explored the digital daily practice, photo-a-day, to understand the ‘affordances’ it offers for well-being. They found that: “Photo-a-day is not a simple and uncomplicated practice; rather it is the complex affordances and variance within the practice that relate it to well-being. We conclude that this practice has multifaceted benefits for improving well-being.”

C Yuill and colleagues highlight that “human social agents are embedded in particular landscapes and it is in landscapes that environmental changes are experienced, which can have implications for wellbeing.”  They study  how environmental change impacts on health and well-being. They analysed the connections between landscape, environment and wellbeing in Xuan Thuy National Park in north Vietnam (see photograph below). This area is in a precarious coastal region where extreme weather events can impact on the wellbeing of both humans and other living things. They state: “Landscapes can be protective of wellbeing or can be affected by rises in temperature, changes in sea level or extreme weather events which exert serious negative implications for wellbeing.”

Screen Shot 2018-09-16 at 11.23.21 Reproduced from Yuill et al. 2018.

The harmony between humans and the environment is under significant threat.  The natural level of homeostasis is being disrupted. This disruption is causing increases in anxiety, depression and chronic stress. These processes in turn have a domino effect on many physical indicators of well-being including overweight and obesity. The current threats to homeostasis between human well-being and the physical landscape cannot be underestimated. The landscape photographer plays a key role in documenting landscape change.  Photographs are a significant tool in rebalancing disequilibrium between human beings and the natural environment. The ultimate goal of all living beings is the preservation of homeostasis. Environmental activists use photography in their struggle for conservation.

IMG_1374

Homeostasis Theory of Well-being

Featured

Homeostasis is a singular unifying principle for all living beings. Homeostasis operates at all levels of nature in every living system: in molecules, cells, tissues, organs, organisms, societies, ecosystems and the planet as a whole (Lovelock, 2009). Tissue homeostasis regulates the birth (mitosis) and death of cells (apoptosis); many diseases are directly attributable to defective homeostasis leading to over production or under production of new cells relative to cell deletion (Fadeel & Orrenius, 2005).

Biochemical and physiological feedback loops regulate billions of cells and thousands of compounds and reactions in the human body to maintain body temperature, metabolism, blood pH, fluid levels, blood glucose and insulin concentrations inside the body (Matthews et al., 1985). A body in good physical health is in biochemical and physiological homeostasis. Severe disruptions of homeostasis cause illnesses or can be fatal.

The General Theory of Behaviour (GTB) extends the principle to behaviour, experience and psychological well-being.

ABCD tetrad
A basic structure for homeostasis of behaviour
[Illustration credit: Graham McPhee]

The General Theory proposes that all behaviour and experience follow the principle of homeostasis (Marks, 2015, 2016, 2018). The GTB distinguishes between Physiological or ‘Type I’ Homeostasis and Psychological or ‘Type II’ Homeostasis. Other types of homeostasis operate at higher levels of organisation including the social level (Type III Homeostasis) and the ecological level (Type IV Homeostasis).

A person in good health is in a state of homeostatic balance that operates across systems of biochemical/physiological, psychological, social and ecological homeostasis. Outward and inward stability in a living being is only possible with constant accommodation and adaptation. All living beings strive to maintain equilibrium and stability with the surrounding environment through millions of micro-adjustments and adaptations to the continuously changing circumstances. Adjustments and adaptations can be both conscious and unconscious. The majority of fine adjustments are occurring at an unconscious level, hidden from both external observers and the individual actor.

The Homeostasis Theory of Well-being utilises the fact that human beings are natural agents of change. Humans adapt, accommodate and ameliorate under continuously changing conditions, both external and internal, to maximise the stability of physical and mental well-being. The Homeostasis Theory of Well-being (HTW) is illustrated below.

Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 14.38.20
The Homeostasis Theory of Well-being (Marks, 2015)

Well-being is the outcome of a multiplex of continuously changing feedback loops in a system of psychological homeostasis with four main component processes: well-being; cognitive appraisal; emotion; and action. Homeostasis maintain both physical and psychological equilibrium with the ever-changing external and internal environments, courtesy of an infinitude of micro-feedback-systems that fall within four macrosystems.

Psychological homeostasis regulates through feedback loops that control thought, emotion and action. Continuously flexible micro-adjustments of activity within feedback loops maintain equilibrium from moment to moment. Psychological homeostasis occurs in response to the infinite variety of circumstances that can affect well-being, including both internal adjustments (e.g. emotional regulation) and external adjustments using deliberate behavioural regulation (e.g. communicating, working, eating and drinking). In synchrony and synergy with all of the body’s other homeostatic mechanisms, psychological homeostasis operates throughout life during both waking and sleep.

In prevention and treatment of clinical conditions, individuals can help themselves and be helped by external techno aids to monitor and maintain physiological variables using behavioural forms of homeostasis, e.g. in diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, thyroid problems, skin disorders such as urticaria, or obesity. Biochemical, physiological and psychological homeostasis are of similar complexity. Behavioural forms of homeostasis occur in actions designed to support neural systems of regulation. Social homeostasis in supportive actions by other humans, requested or volunteered, provides another way to support and protect an individual’s well-being.

Inputs to homeostasis include technological systems such as: (1) scales for measuring body weight; (2) thermometers to measure body temperature; (3) pulse measurements; (4) electro-mechanical homeostasis, developed by engineers to enhance human control systems such as heating (thermostat), driving (cruise control), navigation (automatic pilot), and space exploration (computer navigation systems); (5) life support systems (e.g. artificial respirators, drip feeding, kidney dialysis, intensive care units); (6) medical and surgical interventions; (7) pharmaceutics; (8) alternative and complementary therapies; (9) yoga and meditation.

People are social and emotional beings and these features need to be restored into theories of behaviour. The Homeostasis Theory of Well-being needs to be tested in randomised controlled trials and prospective studies to determine its scientific validity and applicability to health care.

Stop Smoking Now

If you’re a smoker and want to give up the habit, then Stop Smoking Now is designed for you. The approach involves restoration of homeostasis without nicotine in the body or nicotine replacement, e-cigarettes or any other kind of crutch in the form of medication.

41h3szgOV1L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

The truth is Stop Smoking Now could not only save your life, it offers you a healthier and longer life as well. It also could save you a shed-load of money. A new car every year, fabulous holidays, and a much higher quality of life are all yours if you really want them. But it isn’t really about the money. It’s about your health and well-being.

To gain these benefits, all you need to do for the next 7-10 days is to follow the process. Yes, that’s right, it really is that simple. Hard to believe, right?

Well consider this. I have spent the last forty years fine-tuning the best possible ways for smokers to overcome the habit. My role as a Health Psychologist has brought me into contact with people from all backgrounds and cultures who have been at all the different stages of stopping smoking. In many cases, the smokers started out as desperate and hopeless cases, feeling that nothing could work for them. They had tried almost everything to stop smoking, but nothing had succeeded. Instead of blaming the faulty and futile systems they had been using to stop smoking, including most of all, their own willpower, they typically blamed themselves. They blamed themselves for being “weak”. Sounds familiar?

All a person needs to stop smoking is a system that actually works. A week or two weeks of serious application and, bingo, you will hit the jackpot, stop smoking, and remain a smoker for the rest of your life. Like many ex-smokers, you will experience feelings of joy and empowerment, hugely increased self-control and life satisfaction by achieving what previously seemed impossible – to stop smoking. Nothing can offer you a greater boost to your self-esteem than to stop smoking, absolutely nothing. It’s better than winning the lottery. Because it’s not just about the money you’ll save, it’s about a Whole New You.

Stop Smoking Now gives you the most effective method of stopping smoking. The processes described here will enable you to bring about the change.

I know – I have been there!

In my twenties virtually everybody was smoking. Smoking was the natural and normal thing to do. You could smoke almost anywhere. In shops, cafes, pubs, clubs, cinemas, theatres, absolutely everywhere. It seems crazy now, but that’s how it was. I was a pack-a-day smoker and guess what, I actually thought I was enjoying it. Sound familiar?

Cigarette advertising was everywhere. In newspapers, magazines, on TV, at the movies and on huge billboards all over the place. People would literally drive along motorways and freeways smoking cigarettes and crash their cars gawping at the billboards. It seems a different reality now, but that’s exactly how it was. All kinds of subtle and clever messages designed to get everybody to smoke a particular brand. Brands for ladies, brands for teens, brands for minorities, brands for everyone.

My brand was XXXXX. I don’t really know why. I can’t explain it. As far as I was aware, it had nothing to do with the evocative brand imagery. But at a pre-conscious level, it almost certainly had a lot to do with it. Of course, I tried other brands too, but I usually drifted back to XXXXX. I had probably been smoking for about 10-11 years when something happened that stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking. I switched to the low tar version of XXXXX, called XXXXX Ultra Lites.

Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 07.11.41

I was living in the US when I switched to this ‘sleek’ low-tar brand, a supposedly ‘safer’ method of smoking – ‘safer’ according to the the big tobacco companies, that is. My grey-and-white pack of XXXXX looked smooth and on-trend, the perfect thing for a ‘Man-about-Town’. Like millions of others all over the world, I was one ‘cool dude’ making the switch to ‘low tar’. Until I discovered the truth, that is…

Little did I realize at first what a complete sham these ‘lights’ really were. The tobacco companies had discovered the sneaky idea of making tiny holes in the sides of the filters so when you inhaled you got extra air mixed in with the smoke. This fooled the machines used for measuring cigarette tar levels into assigning lower tar levels inside the cigarettes. Millions of ‘cool dudes’ all over the world were being taken for a ride because the cigarettes contained the exact same chemical concoction of tobacco as the regular, high tar brands. And you paid extra for the privilege! When the government scientists finally figured out what was going on, the terms “light,” “low,” and “mild” in product labeling and advertisements were banned in the USA.

A week or two after I had made the switch I woke up one morning with an unexplained headache and began to notice I was having to inhale ever more deeply to get any real ‘satisfaction’ from my Ultra Lites. This was in 1976 when I was working at the University of Oregon with Professor Ray Hyman. Ray Hyman remains one of the tiny number of people to have one of Psychology’s few real ‘laws’ named after him: the ‘Hick-Hyman Law’.

One evening over dinner Ray gave me a penetrating stare and said: Given all you know about the ill-effects of smoking, why the heck are you still smoking? He stopped me dead, so to speak. I really couldn’t give a rational answer. It was at that very moment that I decided to give up smoking. Within a few days of preparation, I did it. I destroyed my remaining cigarettes and never smoked again.

As I sit at my laptop, forty years later, I can honestly say that I gave up smoking thanks to the headaches from my XXXXX Ultra Lites and the pep talk from my friend. My thanks go out to them both. This was the best health-related decision that I took in the whole of my life. Thanks Ray! Thanks XXXXX Ultra Lites! It’s now forty short years since I quit smoking.

Once I took the decision to quit smoking, however, it was far from plain sailing. I discovered how very difficult it can be. I was crotchety with the whole world. I couldn’t sleep properly. I was sharing my woes with the inside of a beer bottle. There was an inexplicable gap in my life. A vacuum of nothingness that was difficult to fill.

This was how it all started, the main reason I decided to write books and run programmes and campaigns to help other people to stop smoking. After I returned from my visit to the US, a very smart PhD student called Paul Sulzberger came to me with the idea. He and I started running Stop Smoking courses. We put together a course of five sessions that groups of people attended over a period of eight days. The sessions started on a Tuesday and finished the following Wednesday. It was highly successful. Eighty-five percent of smokers had given up by the end of the eight days. The remaining 15 percent had all reduced their consumption significantly.

News of our Stop Smoking programme spread like wildfire and we took the programme all over New Zealand and into Australia. We must have helped 20,000-plus smokers give up the habit. Our research and an independent research organisation told us that we were producing some very exciting results, the highest cessation rates ever recorded. We did ads on TV and in the major papers and franchised the system internationally and it is still running under various umbrellas to this day.

In the mid-80s I returned to London as Head and the first Professor of Psychology at the School of Psychology at Middlesex Polytechnic. The busy London lifestyle felt a bit different to more laid-back New Zealand. In my efforts to continue the march against smoking, I needed a more efficient approach so I converted the method into a self-help pack I called the QUIT FOR LIFE Programme, which was published by the British Psychological Society.

The BPS QFL Book Cover

In 2005, the first edition of the version you are now reading was published. In its current edition, Stop Smoking Now has proved to be the most successful stop smoking method ever invented. Yes, that’s right, ever invented.

I have the results of scientific trials prove this. One of my most memorable moments was when I returned on a visit to the beautiful South Island of New Zealand on holiday with my son, Michael. While in Dunedin we visited a friend who lived in the suburb of St Clair. It was a warm and sunny afternoon. A person who, at first I did not remember, had taken my smoking cessation programme many years before came over, looked me straight in the eye, and said: “You saved my life. You helped me stop smoking 25 years ago. Now I’m 75 and fit as a fiddle, thanks to you, I wouldn’t still be here if you hadn’t helped me stop smoking.” This is not the only time I have received the heart-warming announcement: “You saved my life”. Many others have said exactly the same thing.

I too probably wouldn’t still be alive today if I hadn’t stopped smoking. I know from bitter experience. I watched my one-and-only brother Jon die from throat cancer caused by smoking. Jon had only just reached his sixtieth birthday.

But that’s all history now. Let’s return to the present…You are on a different path, a path that can lead to health, increased quality of life, and happiness.

What You Need To Stop Smoking Now
You have taken the first precious step on the path to changing your smoking habit. You have within your hands a powerful and unique system designed to enable you to reach this important goal to stop smoking. You have the desire. You have the motivation. You have the ability. In this book, you have the strategies, the know-how you need to do it, to Stop Smoking Now. Follow the guidance in this book, and you will stop smoking in just a few days, and, think about it, you will never need to smoke again!

This will be the most important step to improve your health that you can take in the whole of your life. Experiencing the process from beginning to end is something you will never forget. You will be a changed person, a New You.

You already realize that smoking is the most stupid, addictive and harmful habit known to humankind. It is predicted that one billion people will die in the 21st Century as a consequence of smoking. One way of solving the world’s population explosion, I suppose… But a smoking-related death it’s not normally a quick death. Smoking-related illnesses are nasty, protracted and painful and require thousands of health care dollars. Having watched my brother slowly die in great pain, it’s something I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

Stop Smoking Now offers you the best chance to overcome your smoking habit without any help from Big Pharma. It offers you a way to extinguish the habit, once and for all. And that’s without taking a shed load of gut-busting drugs. The methods in this book have been evaluated with hundreds of smokers in randomized controlled trials. Tens of thousands of people like you have successfully overcome their smoking habit using these methods.

If you use all of the procedures with commitment and perseverance, you will overcome your smoking habit for ever. You twill be a Calm and Confident Non-Smoker.

Stop Smoking Now is in three stages.

Part One is all about Theory. I discuss the psychology of smoking and quitting. I introduce Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and its cousin, ‘Mindfulness’, explain how they work, and how they can help you to give up smoking once and for all. It will help you to think about and become acutely aware of what you do when you smoke, why you do it, and what smoking really means to you.

If you’re not much interested in Theory and want to cut straight to the nitty-gritty, you can skip Part One and move directly to Part Two. Part Two is the Practical stuff, the guts of the whole system. It guides you, step by step, from the addicted smoker you are now to a new healthful life as a non-smoker. The process takes 7 to 10 days. This will be your new beginning, a brand new life, the most dramatic way to improve your quality of life, extend your lifespan and make you better off financially in one smart move.

Part Three is also Practical. It’s about Regaining your Life as a Non-smoker. It guides you over the pitfalls of being a recent quitter and helps you to prevent relapse and maintain your non-smoking permanently.

Why You Should Stop Smoking Now
Stopping smoking is, without any doubt, the most important thing you can do to improve your health. If you stop smoking:

• You will live longer and live a healthier life.
• You will significantly reduce your chance of having a heart attack, stroke, or cancer.
• Your skin, hair, body and clothes will no longer reek of tobacco.
• Your fingers will stop turning yellow.
• Your sex life will show a significant improvement.
• If you are pregnant, you will improve your chances of having a healthy baby.
• The people you live with, your loved ones and your children, will have a healthier, less polluted environment.
• You will save a lot of extra money to spend on luxuries and holidays.

How This Method Can Help You
There are thirty different procedures that have helped thousands of smokers give up the habit. Nobody can predict which particular procedures will work best for you – everybody is different. However, by trying this wide range of different procedures, you are giving yourself your best chance of success. Please try them all.

Believe it or not, you can possibly enjoy certain aspects of the process of stopping smoking. It is part of the design to make this method as an enjoyable and fun experience as possible. You will learn a lot about yourself and the potential you have to change yourself for the better. Yes, to actually make yourself a better and more aware and fully functioning person. But I would not be telling you the whole truth, if I didn’t tell you that it can be very, very difficult. You already know that.

An addicted smoker is always, to a degree, dysfunctional. The changes that make you will make will help you to be a fully functional human being again. Like you used to be before you took up the habit, or rather, before the habit took over you.

Drinking, eating, Internet surfing, shopping, chilling, watching TV, gaming, gambling – anything to excess can quickly turn into an addiction. Smoking is a habit which seems extremely difficult to change. As an ex-smoker I know. But smoking can be brought under control easily and permanently by applying this systematic programme.

The book can be used as a stand-alone, self-help, how-to method of quitting or it can be combined with the treatment offered by your local health service providers. Two or more smokers can also Stop Smoking Now together to generate an element of cooperation, or even competition. Who gets there first, is always an interesting challenge, as is Who stays there the longest?

I wish you absolute and complete success in becoming a happy and successful non-smoker.