The Benefits of Nature
Posted On Jul 03, 2016
Spending time in nature also favors the re-establishment of international tourism, better environmental education for our youth, and also plays a vital role in conservation efforts. Besides the obvious awe-inspiring beauty of nature, there are many health benefits from spending time in the great outdoors.
Take a minute to fall into the elements of Earth: the leaves, the twigs, the wind, and beyond. Put your feet in the sand, turn your cheek to the warmth of sun, and find the ways in which this wonderful planet we call home can become a major healing power in your life.
Grounding is a technique used to connect your body’s flow of energy to the Earth’s energy, which helps you to process painful emotions, physical ailments, eases inflammation throughout your body, and aids your nervous system.
To help paint the picture, I’ll never forget the first (and hopefully last) time I saw a dog get hit by a car. The dog didn’t get run over, thankfully, but it received a swift blow. After gasping in horror, I saw the dog get up and find a patch of grass and immediately started to roll around on the ground. I was perplexed by this and wondered about it ever since it happened. So, the next time I was at the veterinarian, I asked her why the dog immediately rolled in the grass. The vet said that animals are more in-tune with nature than we are and they instinctively use the energy to help relieve the pain.
The dog ended up being ok by the way, but I loved seeing the natural healing process in action – the healing process that didn’t include chemicals or pills. I wondered if animals can utilize the Earth’s abilities, why can’t we?
Like eating right, exercising, and sleeping, grounding can be described as yet another lifestyle habit that supports optimal health. Exercising barefoot outdoors is one of the most wonderful, inexpensive, and powerful ways of incorporating grounding into your daily life. You can also simply walk around barefoot as much as possible.
TRY: Beach yoga, gardening barefoot, jumping in puddles, or a fancy picnic!
Going for walks is a pattern of highly intelligent people. Tchaikovsky (19th Century classical musician and composer), Nathaniel Hawthorne (American novelist, The Scarlet Letter), Georgia O’Keeffe (artist and “Mother of American Modernism”), and many others had long walks as part of their daily routine.
Steve Jobs was also known for his walking and even held “walking meetings.” Following in Apple’s famous footsteps, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has been seen holding meetings on foot. Why is this?
A Stanford study found that walking boosts creative inspiration. They concluded that a person walking outdoors in the fresh air produced twice as many creative responses compared to a person sitting down, one of the experiments found.
TRY: Taking a walk during your work breaks or holding a ‘walking meeting’ to discuss your day’s to-do’s with your colleagues.
In addition to flexing your creative bone, walking outside is good for your DNA too! Dr. Mercola, a natural health practitioner and author of The No-Grain Diet, suggestions that the simple habit of taking a stroll has been found to trigger an anti-aging process and even help repair old DNA.
“It’s an essential movement that we all require,” as noted by Katy Bowman, a scientist and author of the book, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement. “Walking is a superfood. It’s the defining movement of a human,” Dr. Katy adds.
TRY: Set aside 20 to 25 minutes for a daily walk at your local park, nearby bike path, or hiking destination.
Atapa Snana is the yogic phrase for the healing science of sun bathing. There is so much negativity surrounded by this subject and paranoid messages about how dangerous the sun is. MindBodyGreen reports that if you look at history, the ancient yogis and many other cultures knew how to use the sun to heal all kinds of illnesses and bring about radiant health.
People who spend all their time indoors and have an inescapable work/home imbalance are often Vitamin D deficient. The sun supplies us with the best source of Vitamin D. Getting enough of this hormone (that’s right hormone, not a Vitamin) is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system.
Adequate exposure to sunlight provides many benefits:
- Cleanses the blood of toxins
- Cleanses blood vessels
- Increases production of white blood cells for immune boosting
- Helps mental and emotional function and depression
- Sunlight lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
The sun’s light also kills bad bacteria. The German soldiers after WWI knew of the discoveries that had been made in 1903 by the Nobel Prize winner in Medicine and Physiology, Niels Finsen. They used sunlight to disinfect and heal wounds.
So that’s why after laying out in the sun my face looks amazing and all my zits are zapped!
TRY: Reading your book, eating breakfast, or drinking your coffee outside instead of inside.
We all have attention issues as we live in a world that is prepped us for extra sensory overload. Nature is a great way to unwind, unravel and unplug. Spending more time in nature can help decrease the distractions caused by constant screen time, an overstimulated mind, and stressed nerves.
Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign show that children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD concentrate better and have a general reduction of symptoms after spending time in nature.
TRY: Swimming in the ocean and putting your feet in the sand. If you don’t live near the ocean, find a lake or river and grab a kayak or a canoe instead of sitting indoors with Netflix.
Hug a Tree
I know what you are thinking – there is no way you are going to hug a tree. BUT, it has been recently scientifically validated that hugging trees is good for you. According to a report by The Mind Unleashed, research has shown that you don’t even have to touch a tree to feel the benefits, you just need to be within its vicinity to feel the effects.
In 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries even coined a term for it: shinrin-yoku. It means taking in the forest atmosphere or “forest bathing,” and the ministry encourages people to visit forests to relieve stress and improve health.
Here’s why breathing in fresh air helps according to the Department of Environmental Conservation: While we breathe in the fresh air, we breathe in phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects. Phytoncides have antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities, which help plants fight disease. Our bodies respond by boosting white blood cells or “natural killer cells” that kill tumors, viruses, and bacteria.
Is this the reason why summer camp used to be so much fun?!! Kids are literally high on trees.
TRY: Taking a trail run in the woods instead of a treadmill sesh.
Good luck on your adventures in nature!