I’ve been taking advantage of the great outdoors while in Seattle.
Mountaineering (sort of), bird watching, and general frolicking in nature.
It’s been my saving grace as I pore through the bounteous boxes of my childhood, attempting to further Marie Kondo my life. Taking breaks from chucking plastic toys and stuffed animals into Goodwill bags, to commune with grass, trees, and babbling brooks, has been keeping me sane.
Whether you’re an “outdoorsy” type or not, spending time in nature is a health practice not to be overlooked.
So you can see that when you spend time in nature, your whole being benefits in a plethora of ways.
A superstar vitamin (technically a hormone) that is essential to your immune system. It aids in the absorption of other vitamins and nutrients (like calcium), keeps the colds away, protects against major diseases… I could go on and on.
Of course you know that we get vitamin D from the sun! So choose a non-peak moment (morning or late afternoon) and catch some rays.
Surprising but true, studies have shown that two hours daily of outside activity made children four times less likely to develop nearsightedness. (Whoa.) Plus, being outside in nature and looking at, say, trees instead of a screen, can prevent you from getting Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS.) Yes, it’s actually a thing — symptoms include blurred vision, irritation, headaches, neck/back pain, red eyes, etc. And no, you don’t want it! Sunset and/or bird watching, however, has only benefits.
In essence, we sleep better when our circadian rhythm is in balance — sunlight during the daytime, and total darkness when it’s time to sleep. The circadian rhythm is controlled by a part of our brain (the hypothalamus,) and outside factors (i.e. sunlight, darkness) impact its function. At night, when it’s dark, your eyes send signals to the brain that it’s the right moment to feel tired. Sunlight during the day is the yang to the dark yin, and makes sure our body clock isn’t confused. (Morning sun is especially beneficial.)
Feeling blue? Get outside, friend! Your mental health largely benefits from being in nature. We’re talking so much bang for your buck here:
Contrary to popular belief, on the whole the bulk of the polluted air isn’t outside, it’s inside. Most of our homes and buildings are chock-filled with toxins, chemicals, dust, and stagnant air, posing a serious risk to health. Get out and breathe the tree-air. (I realize that the air is different in forested areas than in urban cities, but still…)
There are loads of new studies on the benefits of “earthing” — meaning touching the ground with your feet. Apparently since the earth is negatively charged (much more so than we are), we absorb the earth’s electrons, having an anti-inflammatory effect on our body. As explained in the video, in addition to the research found, it also just makes sense that being in physical contact with the earth and its energy is energizing and fortifying. (Watch a trailer. Read a book.)
Similar to earthing, is “forest bathing,” called Shinrin-yoku in Japanese. Researchers did field experiments across 24 forests in Japan and found that “taking in the forest atmosphere” promoted lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, higher parasympathetic nerve activity (calmer energy), and lower sympathetic activity (increased heart rate, i.e. stress.)
When we are out in nature, most likely we are moving. And exercise, however low intensity, is still better than being sedentary.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man seeking health, should be in want of exercise. There isn’t a “magic pill” for health, but if there were, it certainly would be a whole foods plant-based diet + frequent outdoor exercise.
What’s your favorite way to forest bathe? Let us know in the comments below.
And thanks, readers. You make me feel like a natural woman.
P.S. Click here to see a brief snippet of my adventures on Mount Rainier.
P.P.S. If you haven’t answered my procreation poll yet, click here to do so.