Getting high on nature
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” - John Muir
Tired, nerve shaken and over-civilised! Sounds pretty familiar, right?
It is no surprise that humans evolved from natural settings and were deeply connected with the environments that they lived. Unfortunately we seem to have lost that connection and more and more stressed out city dwellers are realising the positive impact nature can have on their well-being and are starting to head for the trees!
Until recently I was one of those tired, unfulfilled and disillusioned city dwellers. But after 21 days immersed in the Californian Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, I returned to the city not only ready for a shower and a flushing toilet, but also incredibly grounded, peaceful, centred and strong in spirit. Never before had I experienced such a profound therapeutic and regenerative impact on my mind, body and soul (more to come in future blogs), and it got me thinking...what is it about nature that is so powerful?
Studies on the concept of ecotherapy have found that 94% of people felt their mood change from being stressed and anxious to becoming calm, happy and relaxed when spending time outside and it may be due to some of the following factors:
- Vitamin D - The sun is the best source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and promoting good bone, muscle and general health. Additionally Vitamin D has been found to elevate moods and reduce the risk of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and also improve blood circulation and pressure.
- Endorphins - Getting outside and active increases your endorphins which ultimately makes you feel good, clear and calm.
- Natural Anti-Depressants in the soil - Studies conducted at the University of Colorado have found that there is a bacteria in soils that acts as an antidepressant and increases the release and metabolism of serotonin in the brain. This positively impacts your cognitive function and mood. The bacteria was also found to have a positive impact on the body's immune system.
- Oxygen - Our bodies are hugely affected by the amount of fresh air we inhale as every cell in our body needs oxygen. Studies have found that fresh air assist our body in cleaning the lungs, bringing clarity to the brain, improving your digestion, blood pressure and heart rate and well as improving and regulating serotonin levels which boost mood to promote happiness and wellbeing.
- Unplugs and Disconnects You - when we spend time out in nature we are no longer multi-tasking and being distracted by the stresses of every day life. Research found that the receipt of an email is enough to increase someone's heart rate and induce stress related reactions. So next time you decide to get out for a hike immerse yourself in your surroundings and leave the phone alone. The benefits you get from disconnecting are going to be a lot more nourishing for your soul than how many instagram likes you get for that photo of you on a log.