By Jan Boal, RN
Ever wonder why you feel so good when out in nature; whether it be at the ocean, forest, lake, desert, river or even the park? Is it magic or just fresh air? A little of both actually. The magic is in the chemistry that is produced in these different areas. Here are a few reason as to why.
The ocean has a profound impact on our brain and mental health. Proximity to water is strongly linked to our brain releasing feel good hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin. Maybe this is why Hawaii is considered one of the happiest places in our nation. Sounds of waves crashing on the beach are calming. Helping to achieve a meditative state which is proven to heal and strengthen the brain. The color blue is calming. Misty air is filled with negative ions (oxygen ion with an extra electron) produced by water molecules is calming to the brain. Streams, lakes, rivers and waterfalls all create this same scenario. Lush greenery in these areas heightens this serene effect providing an added bonus to this restful state.
To be surround by foliage, especially those with broad leaves, help regulate humidity and increase levels of positivity. Seeing the greenery in nature helps us feel more relaxed which in turn improves our mood. Biophil, our urge to affiliate with other forms of life, is our connection to nature, the four legged, winged ones and water creatures. Plants help us concentrate better. Flowers and plants placed in recovery rooms, view of gardens help patients heal faster. Indoor air quality is better. Other benefits of plants is the effect on lowering our blood pressure and stress, improving our immune system, creating a positive mood along with improved sleep. Plants on your desk at work or home can have amazing benefits.
The desert provides lots of sunshine which in turn gives us vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin vital to our health and wellbeing. This provides a boost to the immune system. The warm sun helps with mobility with those affected by arthritis or osteoporosis by loosening muscles and joints. Vitamin D is associated with mood regulation thus why we feel happy when the sun in out. It is important in helping the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorous; both critical in bone growth, bone healing and immune system function. Other benefits of vitamin D are the reduction in growth of cancer cells, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and lowers the risk of diabetes type 2. Not bad for a day in the sun, but wear sunscreen! The open space of the desert shuts down the chatter in our mind with it’s quiet ambiance, unique plants and habitat, and at night a large star filled sky.
Forest bathing is a popular activity proved by Japanese scientist to have profound effects on our health. So much it is now prescribed by their doctors to head out into the woods a few times a week. Does this require a bar of soap and a towel? No, but it does require us to be present. The Japanese call this shinrin (forest) – yoku (bathing). To bathe in the forest atmosphere, or taking it the forest through our senses; the sight of the magnificent trees, hearing, taste, smell and touch of theses magical woodlands. When we open our senses we begin our connection to the natural world and it’s healing abilities. Children learn better outdoors. Those with Attention Deficit Disorder, whether child or adult also become calmer and more focused. Plants and trees breath in carbon dioxide and water to covert to energy as a food source and emitting oxygen which behooves us greatly.
Another reason why trees are so important for out planet’s well being besides our own benefits. A substance called phytoncide is the essential oil that plants and trees emit as a protection against insects and germs. Their antimicrobial properties can influence our immunity as well. Breathing in forest air increases the level of natural killer cells in our blood. Being in the woods leaves us feeling refreshed and restored. There is a reason for this. Forest bathing is proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness free up creativity, lower heart rate, blood pressure, boost the immune system and accelerate recovery from illness. Now, that’s what I call one stop shopping!
Being outdoors is one of the best things we can do for our health, for all ages. Make it a habit to get outside daily, a walk in the park, an outing to the beach, hiking in the woods or star gazing in the desert. Don’t forget to take off your shoes and run in the grass and ground yourself. Feel the sand between your toes and sink into tranquility. Being outdoors is a fun way to get healthy, whether by yourself, with friends or family. Enjoy
and cheers to your health!
Like what you read or have any type of health question, please feel free to contact Jan at:
Positive Vibes Holistic Health