why nature rules!

This seems like a timely post given that the Easter long weekend generally means excess (usually chocolate, alcohol, entertaining and hours awake)!

I myself am guilty of planning to rest and take it easy over the break, only to find myself in front of my computer getting a jump on my marking, or pumping through the list of things my girls wanted to do these holidays, or with a drink in hand thinking, 'I'll get my mind back into gear Monday'.

Well it's Monday. My body aches, and I feel like no matter how strong my coffee is I just can't wake up... my brain is foggy and my movements have a certain sloth-like quality.

It's not pretty.

As I begin to stress over the mountain of laundry I need to get done, the state of the house which I have chosen to ignore, and the fact I have not got a single thing in the pantry that will pass as a school lunch for my girls tomorrow, I think 'I just need to get some sunshine, a dip in the ocean, a walk along the beach, and then I'll feel better'.

As I drag myself out of bed my brain starts pondering why it is that I feel better when I connect with nature, what is it, on a biochemical level, that occurs, and do others feel like me? Does nature do the trick for everyone?

A little research and the science is there... yep... nature rules!

Nadine Kate captured by Klee Photography for The Facialist

Here are 5 reasons why you need to get back to nature!

1. Mood

Time in nature has been linked to improved attention span (long and short), a boost in our 'feel good' well-being neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, an increase in activity in the parts of our brain responsible for empathy, love and emotional stability, and a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. Happiness awaits outdoors!

2. Improved sleep

Deep inside our brain sits a very small (but still very mighty) endocrine gland called the pineal gland. This tiny gland secretes melatonin, the hormone responsible for our circadian rhythm (our internal body clock). Circadian rhythms are naturally tied to the sun’s schedule. Melatonin hits its peak at night allowing us to feel drowsy, and eases with daylight. Spending too much time inside away from natural light and under artificial lighting can alter our circadian rhythm causing disruption to our sleep patterns. Want to sleep better... get outside!

3. Increased immune activity

The sun supplies us with best source of Vitamin D, getting outdoors and enough of this hormone is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system. Research has found that Vitamin D levels coupled with spending time in nature stimulates our immune systems cellular activity, providing protections against a startling range of diseases, including depression, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, cancer!

4. Grounding

This...is...cool!

Grounding sits on the fringe of mainstream science yet has a growing body of positive research. Sometimes referred to as Vitamin' G' or 'earthing', this is the practice of direct barefoot contact with the surface of the earth. Our earth is negatively charged, by practicing grounding we are able to absorb the earth’s electrons. The earth literally acts as a natural electron donator, neutralising positively-charged destructive free radicals within our bodies. The potential benefits for our brain, heart, muscles, immune and nervous systems (and the aging process) are huge!

5. Possible anti-cancer effects

Along with the noted benefits that time in nature can have on our immune system, is the study into anti-cancer proteins.This research is still in it's early stages, but preliminary evidence suggests that spending time in nature, forests in particular, stimulates the production of anti-cancer proteins which can then remained elevated up to 7 days!

The above is really just a glimpse at the amazing benefits time in nature can have on our body and mind.

Take your health into your own hands and get outside!

That said, I'm heading for the ocean,

With love,

x L

With thanks to,

Golden, R., Gaynes, B., Ekstrom, R., Hamer, R., Jacobsen, F., & Suppes, T. et al. (2005). The Efficacy of Light Therapy in the Treatment of Mood Disorders: A Review and Meta-Analysis of the Evidence. American Journal Of Psychiatry, 162(4), 656-662. http://dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.162.4.656

Immune system may be pathway between nature and good health | ACES News :: College of ACES, University of Illinois. (2017). News.aces.illinois.edu.

http://news.aces.illinois.edu/news/immune-system-may-be-pathway-between-nature-and-good-health

Li Q, e. (2017). Forest bathing enhances human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. - PubMed - NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17903349

PEIRSON, A., & HEUCHERT, J. (2000). CORRELATIONS FOR SEROTONIN LEVELS AND MEASURES OF MOOD IN A NONCLINICAL SAMPLE. Psychological Reports, 87(3), 707-716. http://dx.doi.org/10.2466/pr0.2000.87.3.707

What is Earthing or Grounding? | Heart MD Institute - Dr. Stephen Sinatra's Informational Site. (2017). Heart MD Institute - Dr. Stephen Sinatra's Informational Site. https://heartmdinstitute.com/alternative-medicine/what-is-earthing-or-grounding/

Williams, F. (2017). Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning. Outside Online. https://www.outsideonline.com/1870381/take-two-hours-pine-forest-and-call-me-morning

Young, S. (2017). How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/