We all know a walk in a forest or along a stream can clear our minds and create a sense of wellbeing. It is physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy to get back to nature. Working with our hands in a garden or walking barefoot on grass helps to ground us, literally! It sends very calming signals from our feet all the way up to the brain and creates self-regulation. It’s all about balance and harmony!
Our brains and bodies are hard-wired to be in sync with nature, such as the sun rise and set (circadian rhythm), and changing seasons, and not 24/7 work schedules! Approximately 70% of the world’s population lives in urban areas so it’s no wonder we have an ever increasing percentage of those with depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.
Researchers from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute at McGill University in Montreal set out to determine whether changes in neural processes might be responsible for these findings.
They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to monitor the brains of 32 healthy adults asked to complete difficult math problems while being timed and hearing negative verbal responses.
Those who lived in urban environments had increased activity in the amygdala area of the brain, which is involved in emotions such as fear and responses to threats.
Those who lived in cities during the first 15 years of their life also had increased activity in the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex, which helps to regulate the amygdala. In short, those who grew up in an urban environment had a greater sensitivity to stress.
To read the full article go to http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/08/20/spending-time-in-nature-heals.aspx#_edn14
According to research published in BioPsychoSocial Medicine:
“The healing power of nature, vis medicatrix naturae, has traditionally been defined as an internal healing response designed to restore health.
Almost a century ago, famed biologist Sir John Arthur Thomson provided an additional interpretation of the word nature within the context of vis medicatrix, defining it instead as the natural, non-built external environment. He maintained that the healing power of nature is also that associated with mindful contact with the animate and inanimate natural portions of the outdoor environment.
… With global environmental concerns, rapid urban expansion and mental health disorders at crisis levels, diminished nature contact may not be without consequence to the health of the individual and the planet itself.”
“Grounding” is becoming more popular, and in reality it is just getting back to connection with nature so the negative electrons can enter the body with their powerful antioxidant and free-radical busting benefits. You can purchase an expensive grounding mat, or preferably just go outside and walk barefoot in nature. This is beneficial while walking on surfaces like sand (beach), moist grass, and bare soil or even concrete or brick. There is NO benefit from walking on asphalt, wood, rubber/plastic, or vinyl, or wearing shoes with rubber soles.
Here are some benefits of regular grounding:
- Improved sleep
- Reduced stress
- Regulation of autonomic nervous system
- Normalized day/night cortisol rhythm
- Reduced pain
- Wound healing
- Reduced inflammation (one of the major causes of most diseases)
We should place a high priority on returning to nature as part of our regular routine. Find a park, bike path along the river, drive out into rural settings and take a walk, or even garden in your own backyard. When was the last time you walked barefoot in the park? It’s fun and can be very freeing!