October Health and Wellness

Nature Rx

 

Melissa Martin, Certified Pilates Instructor

 

When was the last time you sat outside and did absolutely nothing other than just be in nature? If you’re like most of us, then you may struggle to recall when that was. Research is showing more and more that spending even as little as five minutes in nature every day can have a profound impact on our physical and mental well-being. In our hurried fast-paced lives, we may not even stop to consider that prospect. Most of us are stuck working on screens all day under fluorescent lighting just to go home and “unwind” in front of the screens in our homes. Add to this equation the always busy pace of modern life, one may wonder how this is even possible. But don’t worry, you don’t need to escape to the mountains for a week to start reaping the benefits that nature has to offer. 

 

Through research, we are now learning that nature is the perfect antidote to that constant “tired but wired” feelings of stress and overwhelm, feeling scattered, and having trouble with focus and sleep. This can be found in various environments, such as being near a body of water, the mountains, woods, desert, open fields, and the snow. In addition to this, we have also started to learn the following benefits of being in nature:

 

Lower blood pressure. 

 

Lower levels of inflammation.  

 

Decreased levels of anxiety and depression. 

 

A much needed unplugging from our devices. 

 

Immersing each one of our senses has a direct calming effect on the body and mind. For example, think of as many things that you can see, feel, hear, taste, and smell.

 

Grounding- by having your feet come into direct contact with the earth, it grounds our entire system. Another example is gardening, where you are directly in contact with the earth. 

 

Not having our attention divided in multiple areas and focusing on a single item, such as a tree or leaf, calms the entire nervous system. 

 

Direct exposure to sunlight helps to reset our circadian ryrhems. For this reason alone, going camping is the ultimate solution for insomnia and poor sleep quality. 

 

Breathing in fresh air and natural smells is equally rejuvenating, calming, and energizing.

 

How to incorporate nature into your day

A great place to start is to try to get outside as much as possible. Taking periodic breaks during the day, even sitting on a bench outside near some trees during your coffee break, can add up to big changes. Hit the trail for a hike in a scenic place, go for a walk along the ocean, or eat dinner at a patio table in your backyard. 

 

One of my personal favorites is to bring the outdoors in. A Norwegian method called skogluft brings nature into your home and office to elevate health, mood, and happiness. It has even been found to have a positive effect on our relationships. This is achieved by creating a plant wall or display that becomes the focal point of the room it is placed in. Even adding in a few hanging or potted plants can help create a similar effect. In addition to this, research from NASA shows that indoor plants is the most effective way to purify your air. This can help maintain a level of calmness and beauty to keep you grounded and relaxed throughout the day as well as tap into the multitude of health and wellness benefits found in surrounding yourself with plants.