5 Ways To Reduce Stress by Being in Nature

When was the last time you hung out outside?

Woman standing on a road in nature

Photo courtesy of Pexels for Canva

Kids Love To be Outside

Kids love to be outside, and there is a reason for that.  When you were a kid, being outdoors meant freedom from school work, chores, and parental control.  It meant that you had time for unstructured play.  Nothing was required of you.  You were allowed, even expected, to get dirty.  You could dig, roll in the grass, collect sticks, capture toads, and watch clouds. 

When I was a teacher, we did everything we could to make sure our students got recess outdoors.  The only times we didn’t go outside, was when the weather was too bad.  On those days, we knew we were in for more behavior problems.  The worst days at school were those early spring days, where it rained for a whole week straight.  

As we grow, people start having expectations for us.  Middle schoolers no longer have recess.  By the age of about 10 years old, we no longer have unstructured time outdoors, unless you make it a priority.  Instead, kids have sports, music lessons, academic requirements, and other expectations.  

But, Nature Is Stress Reducing!

We need time outdoors because nature is stress reducing.  Studies have shown that just 10 minutes outdoors can reduce stress significantly.  It can also prevent mental health strain and stress.  We need to get back to spending time outdoors. 

A few years ago, I made a list of the things in life I wanted to make a priority.  Spending time outdoors was on my list of things I enjoy and want more of.  But, as I evaluated my life, I rarely spent any time outside!  I set out to change that, a little at a time. 

During lockdowns in 2020, I realized how important being outdoors was to my health.  Luckily, my state allowed us to go outdoors maskless.  Stuck in my house, I watched the news and worried, but outdoors, I could put all of that fear aside and enjoy the flowers, butterflies, and birds.  I felt free in the fresh air, and gentle breeze.  

Try one of these 5 ways to relieve stress in nature:

  1.  Remember what you loved to do outdoors as a kid.  Did you enjoy lying in the grass, gazing at clouds?  Was swimming in the neighborhood pool your thing?  Maybe you enjoyed catching toads in a bucket, pretending they were your new pet, then releasing them in the evening.  Or, how about catching fireflies in a jar, and using them as a makeshift flashlight?  What about setting up a tent in your backyard, pretending you would sleep there, only to run inside when it got too quiet?
  2. Plant a garden.  There’s nothing like planting a seed, watching it grow, and start flowering, or bearing vegetables.  You can use a garden to beautify your space, or to grow vegetables to nourish your body.
  3. Swim in a body of water.  Let the cool water wash over you, and gently sweep stress away.  Put your head underwater and listen to the silence of a pool, or the swoosh of the ocean waves.
  4. Practice the Japanese art of Forest Bathing Spending time in forests can reduce stress.  Most areas have a park or nature preserve nearby that you can walk through.  Studies show forest bathing can reduce cortisol, lower pulse rate and blood pressure.
  5. Try Earthing Earthing is the practice of walking barefoot outdoors, or sitting, or lying on the bare earth.  The concept of Earthing, is to neutralize the positive charge in our cells from everyday activities, using electricity, living amongst chemicals, and absorbing free radicals.  The Earth is negatively charged, therefore, it counteracts the positive charge in our bodies, that causes inflammation and disease.  There is a movie on Amazon Prime Video, called Earthing, that describes the practice in more detail.

Try This Exercise

Rate your stress on a level from 1-10, then go outdoors for 10-20 minutes.  Afterward, rate your stress level again.  Did being outdoors make you feel better?  Try one of the activities above to enhance your benefits of being outside.  Remind yourself of what it is that kids love so much about recess!

If you would like help on reducing stress, and healing chronic symptoms, be sure to join my free Facebook group, Rebooting Health For Empaths.  I also have one opening for one-on-one coaching.  See the details here.  

 

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