These are trying times to be sure. After 2 months of sheltering in place here in California, I’ve grown tired of staring at the same four walls, and have made my way through several seasons of TV shows. I toggle between appreciating Zoom meetings for their lifeline to others, and feeling exhausted by them. I’ve begun contemplating what type of face mask would be most fashionable and functional. And I know I am not alone with all of this, and so much more.
During this time, getting out into nature has been my salvation. And although some parks and beaches are closed, I know I am not alone in my need to see the open sky, judging from the number of people I pass on my walks, and the news footage of people congregating on beaches.
Even after a short time in nature, I feel the stress decrease. I feel my nervous system calm down. I feel my mood lighten. I begin to have a greater sense of hope and possibility for the future. And I know I am not alone in this either. Even before the pandemic, a number of studies showed that being in nature results in reduced stress, reduced depression, reduced blood pressure, and more.
Studies also have demonstrated that time in nature can actually reduce levels of cortisol, a primary stress hormone. We also know that when cortisol is elevated, and when stress is present, immunity suffers. So, although these are inherently stressful times, reducing stress in whatever ways we can is essential to support our resiliency if we encounter a virus.
So, in case you haven’t already guessed, one of my top health hacks for these times is being with nature.
We don’t have to go deep into the woods to receive all the benefits of nature. We can easily find the beauty of nature in most of our neighborhoods. That said, one of the important aspects of our nature time, to receive the most benefit, is mindful connection with it.
Pre-pandemic, I gathered groups together in nature and led them through practices of mindfully connecting with the natural world and receiving all the healing benefits it offers. I’ve adapted this program -- Nourish in Nature --for these times, giving folks everywhere the opportunity for a guided nature experience and connection with others at a safe distance.
Check out the Nourish in Nature (virtual) Adventure, coming up May 16, 2020.
This coming Saturday, people around the country will get out from behind their screens and head out into nature. I’ll guide them through a beautiful nature-connecting experience from an audio recording on their phones. Then we will connect as a group--via a live phone conference call--
from our individual nature locations to share our experiences and connect with others.
The Nourish in Nature (virtual) Adventure is going to be a beautiful experience that is needed now more than ever. I hope you will join me.