10 Ways Nature Can Help Relieve Stress From Toxic Relationships

Woman walking her dog in nature

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Stress Causes Chronic Health Symptoms

Stress causes chronic health symptoms that nature can help relieve.  Nature can help relieve stress caused from toxic relationships, too. Our ancestors spent most of their time outdoors, and now we spend about 87% of our time indoors.  We were created to thrive and survive in green spaces.  There have been many studies done on the effects of being outside on our health.  Benefits include, lowering cortisol, improving heart function, increasing weight loss, improving sleep, and relieving symptoms of depression, to name a few.

If you have a relationship with a toxic person (or a few) in your life, you most likely have higher levels of cortisol, also known as, the stress hormone.  When your cortisol levels are higher, you have more inflammation throughout your body, and are more prone to autoimmune disease, or chronic health symptoms.

How Nature Can Help Relieve The Stress of Toxic Relationships

When you have been living with toxic personalities in your life, you need a quick, easy way to get relief.  Here are a few that are free, and easy, depending on where you live.  It’s as simple as walking out the door!

  1. Grounding – Toxic relationships can make you feel unsafe. Grounding can help. Grounding, also called Earthing, is a practice where you go outside barefoot, and put your feet on the earth.  Some people like to lie on the ground with as much skin as possible touching the grass and earth.  The Earth’s electrical charge helps to rebalance your system, reducing inflammation, shortening wound healing time, and reducing blood viscosity, which improves heart health.  Grounding relieves stress by reducing cortisol levels.
  2. Aromatherapy – The molecules of essential oils, when inhaled, move through the olfactory system, directly to the limbic system in the brain.  The amygdala, withing the limbic system, is the area of the brain that regulates mood.  When you are dealing with a toxic person, your amygdala sends the signal that you are in danger. It can trigger your trauma response of fight, flight, or freeze. In this 2015 study among nurses, the group with lavender oil in a small bottle pinned on their chest, saw significant reduction in stress, whereas the group without lavender, saw an increase in stress. My favorite essential oils for stress, are lavender, copaiba, peppermint, and citrus oils.
  3. Herbal remedies – Herbal remedies have been shown effective in supporting reduction of anxiety and other psychological disorders.  It’s possible that herbal remedies can calm the stress response you’ve experienced after emotional abuse. They’ve been used for thousands of years. *Speak with an expert on herbal remedies, along with your primary care physician, to avoid risk of contraindications with prescription drugs.  
  4. Viewing nature Studies have found that spending 20–30 minutes in nature can reduce stress levels significantly. Lower your heart rate after a confrontation by visiting a botanical garden, going to a local park, or simply walk outside your front door to look at green trees, blue skies, and colorful flowers.  If you don’t have access to a lot of green space, consider filling your home with live plants.
  5. Listening to nature sounds – Listening to the ocean waves, or birds singing, signals to your body that you are safe.  This feeling of safety can be traced back to our ancestors, who had to be attuned to the sounds of safety and of danger.  When you hear calming, nature sounds, your stress levels reduce, and you will see other health benefits as well.  Water was found to have the highest effect on health and mood, while bird sounds lowered stress the most.
  6. Soaking up sunshine – Getting sunshine helps in so many ways!  It helps you sleep better, helps reset your circadian rhythm, and helps you feel calmer.  I usually recommend my clients get 20 minutes of sunshine in the morning, before 10:00 am, when the sun’s rays are not as strong.  Don’t wear sunscreen during this time, or you won’t soak up the UVB rays, which help convert vitamin D.
  7. Put your hands in the soil – Gardening, making mud pies, and just playing outdoors in nature, helps build your gut microbiome.  The more varied the bacteria in your gut, the stronger your immune system.  Of course, avoid fertilizers and pesticides when possible. Chronic inflammation from stressful relationships can lower your immune function.
  8. Eating foods unchanged by man – Nature creates the healthiest, most nutrient dense foods.  When you eat as close to natural foods as possible, you get the most of those nutrients.  Foods that are altered by manufacturing have less of those nutrients. The more nutrients you have, the stronger you feel.
  9. Interact with animals – Animals have a way of soothing your soul.  Take your dog for a walk, pet the neighbor’s cat, ride a horse, or just bird watch.  Have you ever watched a hawk soar in the wind? Or a butterfly flit among brightly colored flowers?  So calming!
  10. Exercise – You’ve heard this one before, but the important thing is to choose a form of exercise that you love.  Some people find running peaceful, and stress-relieving, and some find it very difficult.  My favorite calming exercises are walking and yoga.  My friend loves dance classes.  Take advantage of whatever exercise you can comfortably do outdoors, and makes you feel zen afterward.

If you are feeling stress from dealing with a toxic person in your life, walk out the door, and enjoy the peace of nature for a while.  Nature can relieve stress from toxic relationships. It works whether you are at home with a toxic partner, at work with a toxic coworker, or at the family holiday celebration.  Even if you can only manage a few minutes to walk outdoors and take in a few deep breaths, you will feel better than you did before.  

What is your favorite way to enjoy nature?  Let me know in the comments.  I would love to hear.  

*These recommendations are my opinion, and those of the scientists whose studies I’ve researched.  Check with your doctor before making some of these lifestyle changes, so they can be personalized for you.

If you are looking for support with your toxic relationship or your chronic health symptoms, I do have one-on-one coaching available, as well as some other resources here.

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