While spending time outdoors may seem like a long forgotten luxury, science has revealed what your inner-child has known since birth: Nature is medicine.
When dealing with chronic illness and especially the chronic fatigue that generally comes with it, pursuing outdoor activities may seem out of reach. However, this is one of the key missing pieces to your health recovery that can aid extreme benefit in reducing stress, a roadblock to your overall health.
- It increases your feeling of recovery
A study investigated the well-being effects of short-term forest bathing (walking and viewing the forest) and compared them to a group walking in an urban environment.
The forest bathing group reported:
- Feelings of vigor
- Feelings of subjective recovery
- Feelings of vitality
- It reduces your blood pressure
Many clients are concerned about their blood pressure that may be elevated due to adrenal, thyroid and dietary issues. A lack of exercise combined with obesity is a double whammy for elevating your blood pressure.
Another study observed the benefits of forest therapy for the “ill” or “at-risk” population since they’ve been ignored in previous studies.
Middle-aged adults with high-normal blood pressure spent time in the forest and had health measurements taken before and after the forest therapy.
The forest bathing group reported:
- Significantly lower blood pressure
- Significantly lower urinary adrenaline
- Significantly lower cortisol!
The subjects also reported feeling more relaxed and natural and their negative mood scores for tension-anxiety, confusion and anger-hostility were greatly reduced following the forest therapy.
It’s easy to consider the outdoor environment one of luxury and leisure that can only be used on spring and summer breaks with the kids. However, your inner-child and science have made the same conclusion and you should take strong notice of this!
- It is the forgotten key to chronic illness recovery
We all know that chronic illness and especially autoimmunity has a strong link with high stress. Whether the stressor was from the environment, lifestyle, diet or other factor, the importance of reducing stress remains paramount.
As I wrote my second eBook program Stress Solutions, I felt the effects of stress on my mental, physical and digestive function. If you don’t manage your stress, it will manage you.
While I’ve not personally had an autoimmune diagnosis, cultivating a healthy relationship with stress has been one of the toughest but most impactful healing modalities I’ve discovered.
When I work with clients, I’ve discovered that a 100% organic, grass-fed, perfect diet and exercise routine can only go so far if you’re burnt out of your daily routine.
How to Find a Forest
Go to the website VisitMyForest and search for a forest near your ZIP code. The U.S. is one of the most forest-covered areas in the world and there’s likely a beautiful spot you’ve been destined to discover.
One of the most important naturalists of all time, John Muir, who protected the Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park once said:
“In every walk in nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
He also said:
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
but we’ll replace the word bread with butter :).
If you live in part of the country where you only have the desert or other type of environment to play in, that’s fine too.
The main point is that you make a concerted effort to start moving your body. If you get inside of your body by walking, hiking, climbing or other form of activity, you have the ability to stop the racing mind that fills you with self doubt and negativity.
The majority of our thought patterns become negative, and I would say if you’ve dealt with any form of illness, those numbers are likely higher.
Engaging your parasympathetic, or rest and digest state of your nervous system is a crucial step that is generally ignored. It’s not done on purpose, it’s just that coffee, stimulants, social media, the television, loud music and all of the sounds and sights of the modern world keep us stuck in the sympathetic, fight or flight mode.
We get stuck in the ON position and don’t remember to do activities to turn this mode off. Remember that time you checked the email the last second before you closed your eyes? Did you toss and turn all night thinking about them?
You are the perfect candidate to head to the woods and nourish yourself.
Make the forest a new happy place for your alone time and your family time. It’s a completely forgiving place that accepts you for where you are in life and gives you profound wisdom that you can reflect on in the car ride back home.