Nature to Improved Health + Happiness
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir
Many of us start the New Year with a pledge to cleanse our body from the toxins and sugars. But why stop there? By making a goal to detox our body and mind we can reduce stress and anxiety, improve our physical health, and even reduce our risk for cancer. And the most effective and inexpensive way to do this is to get outdoors and reconnect with nature.
I am not talking about going out for a run or walk wired into a music device. I am suggesting that you power off all your electronics and mindfully engage in the great outdoors. This means being present in nature and using all your senses to experience the gifts that are offered- the smell of the pine forest or the salty ocean air, feeling the leaves crunch under your feel, or listening to the sound of the forest birds.
For many of us actually showing up for the experience with all our senses is the hard part. I am guilty of this. Years ago when I hiked the West Coast Trail the most nature I experienced was seeing the dirt trail in front of me and the soles of my fellow hikers’ boots. I didn’t take the time to get intimate with my surroundings. We were racing over the trail to get it done and check the adventure off our bucket list. It was a missed opportunity to heal my body, mind and spirit while I was out in the beauty of the west coast.
Several studies build the case for nature and healing with a majority of the research coming from Japan where people are traveling to wooded areas to take part in shinrin-yoku which translated literally means “forest bathing.”
Forest therapy is a practice that has becoming increasingly popular in Japan where 10% of the country’s 127 million people live in the urban Tokyo area. It is a simple practice and with our close proximity to the woods on the west coast we can quickly reap the benefits the forest has to offer. Yet many of us have crowded out time in nature for increased screen time.
As a society we have become more screen-addicted, stressed, anxious and overweight than ever before. Social medial and technology won’t make us happier or healthier yet we are increasingly spending more hours devoted to them. If you aren’t sure you are one turning to a screen for comfort ask yourself these questions
– Do you check your email or social media updates even when engaged with others?
– Are you feeling increasingly anxious and overwhelmed?
– Do you wish you had more energy?
You are not alone.
If your New Year resolutions include getting healthier and adding more joy to your life then lace up your boots and get outside. This may sound too simple but with all the research detailing countless health benefits isn’t it worth a shot?
Nature is calling.
With love and light,