How Trees Are The Key To Health & Happiness


CONCEPTION to EXPERIENCE


Walk through the woods, dwarfed by the trees, birds singing and dancing in the canopy above, you will experience lightness, an energy shift that gives us a profound sense of elation.

Intuitively, deep within our bones there is an instinct, a euphoric feeling that is often hard to describe when we immerse ourselves in Nature. We crave this feeling, this sense of well-being, this sense of comfort physiologically.

Being in Nature will restore our energy, improve our mood, rejuvenate us on a cellular level and unlock the secret to health and happiness.

Much of our modern lives are spent indoors on screens and rarely do we spend our leisure time outdoors surrounded by Nature, be it bush or beach. Recent studies in the US have found that people spend as much as 10 hours a day consuming media. This is more than some people sleep.

In 1984 the term “techno-stress’ was coined to describe the unhealthy habits formed and the detrimental effects of technology. Techno-stress was found to arise from compulsively checking, frequency of sharing updates and feelings of need to be continually connected, seen or heard. Symptoms include but not limited to; anxiety, depression, headaches, eye/neck strain, poor posture, irritability and aggression.

In the 35 years of further development in this field, there is more need, more urgency to create a balance from the effects of technology on our society as a whole.

It is not to go without saying, that we are creatures of comfort and during winter, will avoid the cold and rain, choosing to stay indoors in the coziness of our homes. Summer in Australia is hot and unrelenting; again we retreat to the comfort of the air-conditioner.

Our bodies are constantly revolving around creating energy, managing temperature, either through generating heat or radiating it. It’s an autonomous nervous system function, thus we don’t have to ‘think’ about it, it just happens.

Our minds are what create the narrative that it’s too hot, too cold, too wet, insert favourite noun (excuse) here, to get outdoors.

Simply being in Nature, whether a Mindful walk, picnic or purely being still, taking in the environment through all our senses will ultimately anchor you in the present moment. It allows an escape from the ruminating thoughts in our minds, allows us to become acutely aware and check in with our body.

Connecting with the Natural world through all our senses can be a meditative practice. Focusing on physical sensations calms a speedy mind and cultivates a gratitude for the beauty and interconnection of all things in life. When we practice gratitude on this level it brings about a sense of appreciation for the smaller things in life. This ultimately reduces ‘stress’, creating a pathway for positive mental health and happiness.

American biologist, E.O Wilson believed that as humans evolved in nature, we have a biological need to connect with it. We love Nature as we learned to love things that helped us not only survive but thrive as a species. We have lived most our life in and around Nature and have a deep primal connection to it, it’s in our DNA.

We are hard wired to the natural world. Our health improves when we are immersed in it, so too our health suffers when we are removed from it.

Our nervous system resets itself, switching to rest and digest mode of the parasympathetic nervous system. Often in our busy, over stimulated lives, the flight-fight-freeze mode of our sympathetic nervous system can create a chronic stress response within in our bodies.

When we have been ‘functioning’ in this mode for extended periods, the health consequences can be detrimental to both body and mind.

Mentally this will exhibit as; Stress, anxiety, depression, aggression and/or nervousness. Physically this can develop as digestive issues, hair loss, leaky gut which leads to other ailments such as candida overgrowth, skin conditions.

The WHO- World Health Organization calls stress the health epidemic of the 21st century. Finding ways to reduce stress, not only for our own health but that of our communities, workplace and home is a considerable challenge for the future. The more stress we have, the more disease and illness, the more expensive our health care costs become.

Some statistics;

Australia spent $180.7 billion on health in 2016–17—more than $7,400 per person (Australia Institute of Health and Welfare).

One in five (20%) Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year. Anxiety and depression, two of the most common mental illnesses. (Black dog Institute)

The good news is that a walk in Nature, along the beach or through a forest will attune our bodies to start the healing process, restoring balance. Even a small amount of time spent in Nature can have a positive impact on our health.

A 2 hour walk in Nature will help to un-plug from technology, find a slower pace, de-stress and relax you. Connecting with nature through all 5 senses offers many benefits such as;

  • Reduce blood pressure

  • Improve cardiovascular and metabolic health

  • Lower blood-sugar levels

  • Improve concentration, memory and creative thinking

  • Lifts moods, depression and anxiety symptoms

  • Improves pain threshold

  • Improves immunity and Natural killer cell count and activity

  • Increases anti-cancer protein production

  • Improves energy

  • Helps to lose or maintain healthy weight

  • Decrease in nervous tension, anger and irritability

  • Reduces stress, inducing relaxation and sense of well-being

  • Improves quality and quantity of sleep

A Nature Immersion experience can provide the outlined benefits for 2-4 weeks. The more often that people can get outdoors, explore and connect with Nature, the happier and healthier we become mentally and physically.

To digest the information with stern agreeance is to ‘conceptualize’ the idea. Creating action, implementing the knowledge and undertaking the exercise is to ‘experience’ the benefits.

It is only through our actions that we can truly experience how trees can make us happier and healthier.

Amanda x


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