Mindfulness 1/22/2021

Mother Nature’s Embrace

How can nature improve my mental health?

In this course, you’ll learn about how spending time in nature can improve your mental health!

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Today, we are being challenged to think more about what we can do for nature.

But spending time in nature can do a lot for your own mental wellbeing!

Spending time in nature promotes mindfulness and a sense of calm.

Mindfulness is the practice of fully experiencing the present moment, not thinking about your past or future.

Mindfulness can boost your immune system, lower blood pressure and lessen anxiety and depression.

Making us more mindful is partly how Mother Nature embraces us with her majesty, peace and tranquility.

But we can miss out on the benefits of nature if we are distracted or on our phones.

This is why paying attention and ridding yourself of distractions is key to experiencing Mother Nature’s calming embrace.

How exactly does spending time in nature make us more mindful and improve our health?

Swipe left to find out!

In the “concrete jungle” of a city, your mind constantly swings from thought to thought.

Being in a city increases activity in a region of your brain that is active when you’re lost in a negative thought loop.

This region of the brain is called the prefrontal cortex.  It helps you plan for the future, but its activity can also lead to anxiety.

But being in nature quiets activity in your prefrontal cortex.  This means less mind wandering and anxiety!

To quiet your prefrontal context, it is best to tune into nature around you with all of your senses, or to be mindful in nature.

This is how being in nature can improve your mental health.  But it can also improve your physical health!

It makes sense that being outside is good for your wellbeing, out where exercise and socializing happens.

But we know from a growing field of science called ecotherapy that nature itself is good for you.

Nature sounds and scenery can lower your blood pressure.  High blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease.

Being in nature can also lower levels of stress chemicals in your body, such as cortisol.

Ecotherapy has roots in the
ancient Japanese practice of
Forest Bathing.

Forest Bathing - Shinrin-Yoku in Japanese - involves being immersed in nature with all of your senses.

Even listening to natural sounds such as flowing water while indoors can help you relax!

But how much time in nature is enough to reap mental health benefits?

Researchers suggest that you spend at least 20 minutes in nature every day.

Incorporate nature into your everyday lifestyle wherever possible, such as walks in a park.

If you can, plan nature-based activities on the weekends!

Just remember - the key for maximum benefit is mindful experience of nature.

To mindfully experience nature, turn off your phone and focus your attention on your breath…

Take in the sights, sounds and smells of nature around you.  If your mind wanders to worries or your to-do list, gently bring it back.

Mindfulness will help you better see the richness and color of nature around you.

The more you look at nature with awe and see yourself as connected to it, the better you will feel.

People who feel more connected to nature are happier and more satisfied with life.

They have less anxiety, greater creativity and feel more energetic.  They do more for others.

Pro-nature behaviours - like doing your part to protect the environment - can help nature help you!

So get outside, be mindful and feel Mother Nature’s calming embrace!

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