WHAT IF SCIENCE FINALLY FOUND A WAY TO EXPLAIN WHY BEING IN NATURE FEELS SO GOOD?
When pain, sadness, or overwhelm rears its ugly head, how can we heal, regroup, and regain control? Life presents a variety of challenges. Allowing nature to flood our senses helps our bodies release chemicals to relieve stress, accelerate recovery, boost immunity, improve sleep, reduce blood pressure, improve clarity, eliminate brain fog, and more.
Our bodies and brains have developed along the lap of nature. We are nature. And when we are taking nature in, studies show that our brains behave differently. Reconnecting with nature resets your brain.
Let's take a look at replenishing yourself with more ease using the power of nature: Forest bathing to connect with nature is set at a slow and serene pace with emphasis on fully immersing into the nature around us, even if just briefly. Many of us think of a sweaty hike or a lengthy trip to and through the woods. However, forest bathing isn’t about covering a set distance, raising your heart rate, or even about exercise. It's about exploring, relinquishing, and relaxing, rather than "accomplish anything." The Japanese practice of forest bathing is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, give a boost to your immune system, and elevate overall feelings of wellbeing and relaxation.
From 2004 to 2012, Japanese officials spent about $4 million dollars studying the physiological and psychological effects of forest bathing, designating 48 therapy trails based on the results. Qing Li, a professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, measured the activity of human natural killer (NK) cells in the immune system before and after exposure in nature. These cells provide rapid responses to viral-infected cells and respond to tumor formation, and are associated with immune system health and cancer prevention. In a 2009 study Li’s subjects showed significant increases in NK cell activity in the week after nature immersion, and positive effects lasted a month following each weekend outside. This is largely due to various essential oils, generally called phytoncide, found in wood, plants, and some fruit and vegetables, which trees emit to protect themselves from germs and insects. Fresh air outside doesn’t just feel fresher and better—inhaling phytoncide actually elevates immune system function.
6 key benefits of forest bathing:
1—INCREASED MENTAL CLARITY
The mind experiences “soft fascination” which gives the brain an ability to rest, restoring the ability to focus with directed attention later.
Being in nature lowers cortisol levels, which directly affects blood pressure effectively decreasing anxiety and stress within the body.
3—NATURAL PAIN REDUCTION
The Japanese study of hospital patients determined a room with a window to outside nature or the mere presence of flowering and foliage plants inside a hospital room can lower the need for painkillers and positively effects recovery time.
Natural Killer cell activity measurably increases when in nature. These NK cells selectively seek out and destroy cancer cells and bacterial infections in the body. They’re also smart enough to target a viral infection inside of one of your cells, without destroying the entire cell.These cells boost your bodies ability to fight infection, boost intracellular anti-cancer proteins in lymphocytes, and enhance overall immune function.
5—ELEVATE YOUR CREATIVITY
Time in nature enhances our mental performance and creativity. One study of a group of Outward Bound participants found they performed 50 percent better on creative problem-solving tasks after wilderness backpacking.
6—RELAXED STATE OF BEING
Relaxation is induced by phytoncides, particles that have been found in uniquely high concentrations in forest air. These substances significantly decreased the percentage of T cells and the concentrations of adrenaline and noradrenaline in urine which decreases stress hormone levels. In addition, the act of Shinrin-Yoku alters cerebral blood flow in a manner that indicated a state of relaxation.
When traveling and working in Las Vegas, Nevada, I treated myself to some forest bathing at Springs Preserve to recharge. Immersing into nature and allowing myself to be present completely reset my mind for success. My camera on the Google Pixel 2 XL from Verizon captured moment by moment of incredible beauty so viscerally without having to fuss and worry with equipment and setup. The camera on the Pixel 2 XL is a TRUE GEM: Each detail, crinkle, fold, and color I captured was in its entirety. The caliber of this camera is unmatched. With the Pixel in my pocket, a great shot can be captured with ease on demand at any moment.
“Peace in every step. The shining red sun is my heart. Each flower smiles with me. How green, how fresh all that grows. How cool the wind blows. Peace is every step. It turns the endless path to joy.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh