7 WAYS BEING IN NATURE IMPROVES YOUR MENTAL, PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH
Being in nature can do wonderful things for the soul, making us feel nourished and restored. We asked Kinesiologist Rachelle Trayer to provide some tips on how to really make the most of time spent in nature.
Spending time ‘off the grid’ creates space and perspective. Disconnecting from the pace of our modern world can be the perfect antidote to the pace and stress of day to day life. Use this time wisely and leave your technology behind or limit your usage. Unplugging gives the brain a chance to slow down, reconnect with nature and be present.
2. GET GROUNDED
Often when people feel anxious they feel disconnected from their body and the earth which is the opposite to feeling “grounded”. Grounding literally refers to connecting with the Earth. A growing body of research is finding numerous health benefits as a result of the physical body being grounded. Unfortunately, with our modern rubber soled shoes we no longer have a natural electrical connection to the Earth, unless walking barefoot.
Standing barefoot on the earth for 5-10 minutes can help ground and relax you.
Here is how:
- Close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths picturing the energy rising from the centre of the earth through the soles of your feet up through your body and out the top of your head.
- Then switch directions - take 10 deep breaths picturing the energy coming from the sky, through the crown of your head down through your body and through the soles of your feet to the centre of the earth.
- Keep repeating for 5-10 minutes, alternating directions.
3. DO AS THE SUN DOES
Combat insomnia and tap into your natural circadian rhythm by going to sleep and rising with the sun. Our circadian rhythm (also known as our body clock) is a natural, internal system that's designed to regulate feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness over a 24-hour period.
Bright lights after dark can throw off your body clock by confusing your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Artificial blue light (laptops, TV and phones) are the worst culprit and can cause insomnia.
Controlled conscious breathing is one of the most effective ways to take the body out of "fight or flight" (stress mode) and into "rest and digest" mode. Breathwork in nature can speed up the unwinding process so that you can make the most of your time away.
Here is a fantastic 90 second breathing technique:
- Place one hand across your forehead and one on the back of your head
- Inhale through your nose (deep into your belly) for a count of 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and exhale through your mouth for a count of 4 seconds
- Repeat this 9 times (count on your fingers)
- Do this in the morning, middle of the day and at night before bed. TIP: this works incredibly well before an important meeting or presentation.
More information about the science of breathwork here.
5. STOP AND SMELL THE... ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils impact our emotions tied to memories, thanks to activation of our limbic system. Using these oils as part of your regular meditation, when anxious or before an important meeting can be very effective.
They also have fantastic physical benefits too - eg. peppermint or ginger for car sickness; lavender or vetiver for sleep; and lemon, tangerine and peppermint to help us wake up …. Just to name a few.
Essential oils are very transportable - I always take my top 10 with me on every trip - including In2thewild Tiny Holidays!
You can use them separately or in a blend and can be diffused, inhaled from the bottle or your hands or mixed with a carrier oil and applied to the soles of your feet, the back of the neck and wrists .
More information on essential oils including some suggested blends for different moods here.
Practising gratitude increases serotonin and reduces cortisol. You literally can’t feel stress whilst feeling gratitude. So grab some paper and start journaling your top 3 gratitudes each day. Extend this for 21 days and form a new habit. Your shift in perspective will be quite profound.
7. NOTICE NATURE'S FORCES
Notice the many wonders and forces of nature. It can be incredibly empowering & inspirational and can help us put things into perspective. This includes watching the starry night sky when in the countryside, watching the waves at a beach or listening to the wind from bed.