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Connecting with Nature for a Healthy Body and Mind

mother nature, nature, outdoors

When you hear the word nature, what is your mind drawn to?

Is it the vast expanse of an ocean, crashing waves ending in foamy ripples at your feet? Is it a sprawling canopy of luscious trees, teeming with life and sound in a far off jungle? These are of course among the best experiences to be had on our beautiful planet, but the gifts mother nature has to offer are all around us. Appreciation for your natural surroundings can be nurtured, created, and expanded right in your own backyard.

A connection with mother nature is inherent in the body and soul. We are surrounded by it. The elements fill our eyes, ears, and lungs with life. We feel the earth beneath our feet, and absorb the vibrations which hold everything together at precisely the right frequency. These are easily overlooked when going about our busy lives. The good news is, with a bit of mindfulness, the bond you already have with the elements can be realized and developed.

Scientifically proven benefits of connecting with nature

The medical community has long declared the psychological, and physiological benefits of connecting with nature. Our mental and physical well-being is constantly affected by our environment. When in a state of stress the body reacts accordingly. Uninviting surroundings impact our bodies in numerous ways. Muscles tense, the heart rate increases, the digestive system slows and the brain releases a hormone called cortisol. This hormone is beneficial under the right circumstances, it provides a short-lived energy boost, and helps the body deal with the demands placed on it. However, when chronically elevated, there are negative effects on the immune system and weight management. Many people are physically in a state of fight or flight far more often than they realize.

The medical community has long declared the benefits of taking in the great outdoors.

Receiving your vitamin D boost isn’t the only favor gained by spending time outdoors. In a study conducted by the University of Derby with the Wildlife Trust in the UK, 18,500 participants were challenged to “do something wild” every day. No parameters were set other than to participate in an activity outdoors every day, for 30 days. Participants reported a 30% increase in well-being, health, happiness, and connection to nature.

Simply getting out and interacting with your environment can drastically improve your quality of life. There are plenty of things we can do, big and small, to bring ourselves closer to the natural beauty all around us.

These are just a few of the amazing changes that can be expected when adding a connection with nature to your daily routine.  

  • Healthy blood pressure levels

  • Decreased anxiety

  • Increased immune system function

  • Improved ability to handle stress

  • Increased attention to charitable and altruistic behaviors

5 Easy Tips to Fit Nature Into Your Daily Life

1. Find time to take a walk

Focus less on the exercise aspect of this activity, and make a conscious connection by appreciating the little things about your surroundings. If time is short, your lunch break is the perfect time to do this. Pack a lunch for yourself in the morning, so that it’s all ready to go for your mid-day stroll. Even if you work in the city, life finds a way through the concrete no matter what.

2. Take advantage of your porch

Treat this space as your second living room. Making your outdoor space a sanctuary can be inexpensive and fun. Eat your breakfast or dinner there while taking in the smells, sounds, and activity buzzing all around you. Carve out 5 minutes to meditate focussing on the wind, heat, or the crisp fall air. Invest in a yoga mat to do bodyweight focused exercises outdoors. Feel the connection your body has with the earth, the gravity pulling you toward it, and be mindful of the gift of movement through your space.

3. Enjoy a nourishing garden

Gardening and eating food you have grown is one of the most rewarding ways to spend time with and connect to mother earth. This endeavor can be as big or small as you’d like for it to be. Many of the vegetables used in everyday cooking are easily grown in 5-gallon buckets, which make them perfect for the home garden. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, squash, and zucchini are all low maintenance choices. The joy of tending to your plants will stay with you throughout the day. Gardening also fosters a sense of responsibility to your connection with nature. Caring for a plant, and watching your efforts result in it’s continued health provide a sense of security with your place in the circle of life.

4. Bring nature inside

We can’t spend all of our free time in our porch sanctuary,     

though that would be wonderful. Having a few potted plants inside your home keeps the connection flowing throughout the day. They are a simple, yet powerful reminder to relax, breathe and stay centered. Choose from a variety of plants, so that life can thrive in every room of the house. Aloe Vera and Orchids prefer the bathroom to any other room and will flourish in humid conditions. Cooking herbs can be grown close to a window in the kitchen nearly year-round. Dracaena, Philodendrons, and peace lilies are real survivors, and do well in rooms with no sunlight at all, making them perfect for the office. You simply can’t go wrong by adding a bit of greenery to your indoor space.

 5. Volunteer

Meetups and charity events are prime places to enrich the spirit, get your hands dirty, and your mind clear. Many organized group activities focus on conservation, and grass-roots environmental impact. When working alongside other people of like mind, with similar values, the connections you make with your small area of the world will serve your spirit well. The choices of activities are fun while providing you with the opportunity for fellowship, and the satisfaction of giving back to the elements. The zoo in your area may have a volunteer group for cleaning up the landscape. Local beekeepers often allow groups to help tend to their hives and taste honey fresh from the comb. Community gardens always welcome a helping hand. There are no shortages of collective minds, ready and willing to welcome you into their process of enjoying nature, and reaping what you sow.

Finding imaginative ways to integrate nature into our routine can make an extremely positive impact on our health and well-being. A few minutes a day is all it takes to start earning the benefits of these practices.

Want to find out more ways to improve your health and overall well-being? Visit the TelMD Upstream Blog!

Let’s Make Wellness Contagious!™

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