Are you feeling stressed? Chances are you spend a lot more time indoors, hunched over your phone or tapping away at your laptop than you do basking outside. The constant buzzing of people, heavy traffic and overcrowded places in our everyday life can become mentally depleting and cause stress. Hanging out in nature or finding that bit of green space in your daily routine does more than providing a temporary escape from the hectic urban life. Here’s what you can do in green spaces to significantly reduce your cortisol, which is a stress hormone.
Maybe you’ve tried common stress relievers like meditation, having a balanced diet, or even startling hacks such as staring at a pattern. But have you ever thought of wandering in nature? Forest Bathing or Shinrin-Yoku as it is referred to in Japan does not involve getting into water despite its name. The intention behind this ancient Japanese technique goes beyond a walk in nature; it is to surround yourself with the energy of the natural environment. Forest bathing combines strolling in a forest and opening your senses to the surroundings. The healing power of nature provides therapeutic and rejuvenating benefits. The scent of trees, the breeze rustling through leaves, the fresh, clean air, and the sunlight give a sense of comfort. They ease stress leaving you feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Like any other activities tailored for relaxation, forest bathing isn’t hard. All you need to do is head out to a natural setting and let your senses grasp the sounds, sights, scents, and textures of the forest. Meditating, nordic walking, or lying on the ground are some of the various ways you may forest bath. Make sure to engage your senses and maximize the benefits. Breathe deeply, pause and listen to birds chirping or the rushing water, admire the beautiful sights, whether it is a breathtaking view or a young plant sprouting. Depending on the place you’re going, you can also kick your shoes off and be barefoot. Being barefoot in nature is even more helpful. It enables your body to come into direct contact to the ground and genuinely connect with nature. Moreover, walking barefoot outside has been proven to strengthen immunity and regulate the nervous system, which reduces feelings of anxiety and stress.
No forest? No problem! Go to a nearby nature park or lay down on a patch of healthy grass. You can practice forest bathing wherever there are trees, in the sunshine, rain or even snow. Even standing or lying underneath a tree and inhaling can be beneficial to your mind and body. Roaming in nature awakens our senses and helps us be more mindful of what we feel, see, hear, and smell. What do you need more to make an effort to go out and indulge in nature more often?
You probably already know that exercising is advantageous for your mental health. But were you aware that the level of stress and anxiety reduction are even higher with green exercise? While most people think that the gym is the go-to place for a great workout, exercising in nature can be more beneficial. Scientific studies show that any physical activities, including cycling, jogging, walking or even yoga in a natural environment, leaves you feeling happier. This is because nature aids in boosting your dopamine productions and endorphin levels, the natural chemicals in your body that elicit feelings of happiness. Exercising outside is also an excellent way of increasing vitamin D, which nurtures your immune system and promotes bone growth, preventing osteoporosis. Move your workout outdoors! While you may be able to increase resistance on your exercise bike or adjust the incline on a treadmill, nothing beats the outdoors terrain! Opting for a workout in nature is always diverse, especially if you’re a cyclist or a runner. It enables you to push yourself harder with its undulating grounds and steep hills.
Savor the Scenic View
You won’t always find fascinating scenes on your screen. When was the last time you watched the sunrise or went to the nearest hilltop to watch it set? Finding the ideal spot to watch the sunrise or sunset with its vivid colors can help you to center your mind and alleviate stress. When people indulge in a daydreaming state, something which is generally effortlessly achieved in nature’s composed atmosphere, the brains change into what scientists refer to as the Default Mode Network (DMN). The DMN plays a crucial part in our cognitive processing functions and supports our internal mental activity, especially during prolonged stress exposure. That euphoric feeling that emerges while relishing those spectacular views isn’t merely in your mind. It has been scientifically proven to lower stress levels and help find clarity. With two chances every day, why not watch more sunrise and sunsets to restore your mind?
Now get up, head out, and ease your mind! After all, nature is undoubtedly the best healer!