Connecting back to our roots
With our focus on the environment this month, I thought it would be appropriate to explore our relationship with Nature. Nature has always been a big part of my life and a place I often go for nourishment, to reconnect and for support. As I get older it seems like life gets busier and more things stand in the way of this time.
In today’s age of technology and fast paced world we continue to distance ourselves further and further from our natural environment. We have so many ways of keeping plugged in it is hard to give ourselves the time or space to have down time and are often consumed with staying “in touch” with each other through social media, email and texts. I have always been a big believer that time in nature is essential for well-being. It can allow us space to let go and just be. If you have ever had some time to really look at what is going around you while in nature, it truly is incredible.
Many of the processes in our body are connected to the natural world. The first morning sunlight is the signal that wakes our body up and helps to regulate our Circadian rhythm. This Circadian cycle has an important influence on our sleep-wake cycles and in turn, other bodily functions such as hormone release and body temperature regulation. Abnormal circadian rhythms have been associated with various sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder.
Spring and summer seasons are a great time of year to get up early to catch that first morning sun and feel an immediate surge of energy and vitality.
Richard Louv, journalist and author, was the first to coin the term “Nature Deficit Disorder”. In his book, The Nature Principle, he encourages us to change how we see the future and shares a vision that explores the healing, supportive, and restorative powers of Nature. He suggests that connecting to the natural world can help improve health and well-being, boost the ability to focus, improve mental and emotional health, help build stronger relationships, communities, economies and gives us a greater sense of purpose.
Stress contributes to 90%+ of illness and disease and we cannot look at optimal health without addressing stress and implementing some kind of stress management. The first thing most people want to do when feeling stressed is to get away and spend time out of the city. Whether that place to escape is a lake, mountains, or in your backyard, a need to have space and time in nature is the common thread. Getting away into the natural world provides a place to unplug and allows us to connect to something that is greater than ourselves.
Spending time in nature has shown to lower cortisol which can lower the effects of stress on the body, resulting in improved cardiovascular function, gastrointestinal function, better blood sugar levels, easier weight management, and stronger immune function. That list alone gives enough reasons to get outside and connect with the living world around us!
Many studies in the recent years have shown that spending time and creating a relationship with nature can help with mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder. These studies also show that time in nature cultivates a stronger sense of community, more fulfilling relationships, and increases self esteem.
When we are outside we tend to become more social and have a greater sense of community and connection. There are fewer distractions and we can be present with ourselves, those we are with, and with our surroundings. The feelings of isolation and being alone are becoming more and more prominent as we connect less with each other spend more time “communicating” through cyber space.
I have witnessed a powerful coming together of people during times of disaster when these distractions are taken away and we are forced to be together. I am sure many of you out there can relate to last year’s flood and the amazing sense of community that came from that devastating event.
Nature also supports our physical health as it provides an opportunity to move and be active, whether it is walking, running, biking or playing sports. We are more apt to be active when outside rather than sitting on the couch or in front of a TV. The beneficial effects that activity has on our mood, cardiovascular health, hormonal health and stress levels are very apparent in our everyday lives.
Personally, I have had the pleasure of spending some time in the Amazon rainforest and was blown away with how everything is in relationship with each other and the fine balance that it sustains. If you ever need a reminder of how important nature is or the power of nature, watch a video online about the Amazon rainforest or any other intricate ecosystem and you will be immediately humbled.
You really don’t need scientific research or any medical professional to tell you what you already know; nature brings tranquility. So get outside! Lie in the grass, walk through a forest, hug a tree, or swim in a vast body of water. You will feel more relaxed, at ease, happy and most importantly, healthy.
Dr. Brandy takes a holistic and individualized approach to medicine, utilizing a combination of botanical medicine, nutrition, homeopathy and lifestyle and is also trained in Neuroemotional Technique (NET). An integration of these is used to treat a wide range of conditions including but not limited to Digestive concerns, Women’s Health, hormonal issues, pediatrics and a special interest in addressing Stress and its numerous effects on the body.